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Trump to Leave His Business; Donald Trump's Potential Conflicts of Interest; Trump's Growing List of Administration; Slager Testifies At Murder Trial; Gatlinburg Wildfires Continue; Turning Points Story of Tristan Willmott; Homes and Businesses Destroyed in Wildfires. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET
Aired November 30, 2016 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Still be doing lots of stories on conflicts of interest?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There are so many questions that are -- that are not answered by this tweet. I'm sure a lot of them will be asked on the daily conference call with Trump transition team today, and, you know, perhaps by Mr. Trump down the line. But, Ron's absolutely right, there isn't really a good solution for this, which is, you know, kind of unfortunate. You know, Aaron Ross Sorkin had a really good article in "The New York Times" yesterday that suggested having an independent kind of corporate moderator like a Ken Feinberg be hired to overlook Donald Trump's companies, someone who is not related to him, as a possible solution. But, really, because this is so unprecedented, we're sort of just going to have to see and watch and write about how he does this.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, look, I mean I think having an overseer like that, it makes the business sound like it's nefarious. Probably not fair.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
CUOMO: A blind trust just doesn't make sense because this is a brand machine. But he could have an independent board that oversees the company.
CUOMO: The big question, Ron, will be, transparency. Will we see these legal documents that are separating it?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, we don't -- obviously, we don't know. As Jackie said, there are a lot of questions we're going to have to answer between now and then. That really isn't where the transparency stops, right? I mean you've got -- you've got this issue of a company that is doing business around the world, including in countries where we have very sensitive relations, complicated relations, like Turkey, and as "The New York Times" reported this weekend, for Donald Trump to put his daughter, who will be running the business, or involved in running the business, on the phone with the Turkish president and in that call to also, according to the report, praise their Turkish business partner to the Turkish president, I mean that is a series of interlocking interests that vastly complicate an already complicated relationship. One and -- a very consequential relationship. So I mean those --
CUOMO: And made his business partner the trade envoy to the United States from Turkey.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Right. So -- yes. So, there you go. I mean and, you know, so you have -- you have all of these issues where the -- the running of the company, the interests of the company, and the -- and the priorities of the U.S. inexorably converge as long as it is Trump, you know, the Trump companies doing business around the world, those issues are going to have to be watched because they are going to continue to arise.
CAMEROTA: All right. So --
KUCINICH: Well, we're -- and it's -- it is small and large, to Ron's point. It's, you know, people staying in the Trump hotels to curry favor. It's, you know, perhaps these deals that are being done. This is really -- it's a top to bottom problem at this point.
CUOMO: And, look, and he set this standard in the campaign. He went after Clinton for double dealing.
CUOMO: For pay to play. For access. He made those important in the campaign. It hurt Clinton and now he's going to have to live up to his own standard and we're here to police it.
CAMEROTA: All right, so we'll know more in two weeks when he has his major news conference, as he has said.
Let's look at what we do know this morning, and that is his cabinet is coming together. We can pull up the latest announcements. So we now know Steven Mnuchin is Treasury secretary. Congressman Tom Price, Health and Human Services secretary. Wilbur Ross, Commerce secretary. And the others had already -- well, Elaine Chao is relatively new, Transportation secretary.
So, Jackie, you know, it's been -- it's been pointed out that this is a cabinet of billionaires. But what's the downside of that? I mean that means they're successful people, right? That -- this is an aspirational cabinet as some people have called it.
KUCINICH: I mean it's just how they became billionaires that could be problematic. If someone like Wilbur Ross bought a company in North Carolina and -- which started out sourcing jobs to China and Mexico, exactly what Donald Trump was railing against during the campaign. You have Steven Mnuchin, who's a hedge funder, who Donald Trump said gets away with murder. Now he probably would make the argument that that means he knows how to fix that problem. But, still, a -- there are a lot of questions that these folks are going to have to answer as they go through their confirmation hearings as to, you know, how they're going to make things better and not just kind of repeat what we've seen before.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Guys, we're out of time. Thank you very much for "The Bottom Line. Ron and Jackie, we'll see you guys soon.
BROWNSTEIN: You too.
CUOMO: So, the police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott in South Carolina is taking the stand in his own defense. What did the testimony do? Did it hurt? Or did it help? A live report, next.
[08:37:49] CAMEROTA: The prosecution and the defense are set to deliver closing arguments in just minutes in the murder trial of former South Carolina Police Officer Michael Slager. Slager testified in his own defense yesterday. He is charged with fatally shooting Walter Scott. That was the man who was unarmed and trying to run away during that traffic stop that we all saw on cell phone video.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in Charleston with more.
So what is the latest, Boris?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Alisyn.
As you said, closing arguments set to begin any minute. Yesterday was an uncomfortable, emotional day in court as Michael Slager took the stand in his own defense. The prosecution grilling him, playing that now infamous cell phone video in excruciating frame by frame, minute by minute, detail asking him all sorts of questions about where he was glancing in certain moments, how he was moving his feet and shifting his weight, and then asking him repeatedly how Walter Scott could have been a threat to his life if he was trying to get away from him unarmed.
I want you to listen to some of the exchange between him and the prosecution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATTORNEY: You've seen the video.
MICHAEL SLAGER: I have.
ATTORNEY: And you've heard that he was 18 feet away. Would you agree that he was not a threat to you with that Taser, without a cartridge, from that distance?
ATTORNEY: OK. So you're going to stick to that?
SLAGER: Yes. And the reason is, from 18 feet, he could have turned around and attacked me again.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: And that led to a tense moment in court. The prosecution actually handing Michael Slager a tape measure. The prosecutor walking 18 feet away, the distance between Slager and Scott when Slager opened fire. The prosecutor holding the tape behind him, turning around and again asking Michael Slager how Walter Scott was a threat to his life from that position. In his defense, Slager said that his brain was spaghetti. That before the video started rolling, they had had a scuffle and Walter Scott apparently got a hold of his Taser and was threatening him with it. He says that he simply reacted according to his training and opened fire. We're expecting, again, closing arguments later today and potentially even jury deliberations later in the afternoon.
CUOMO: Boris, helpful insight and information. We'll check back with you. Thank you very much.
[08:40:04] The raging wildfires in Tennessee have turned deadly and there are several families that are still looking for missing loved ones in many of these areas that are closed off because the fire is just raging. Thousands of acres, more than 15,000, scorched.
CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray live in Gatlinburg with the latest.
This seems to become a story of the unknown there in Tennessee.
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You're right, Chris, and I think that's the hardest thing, you know, people going on 36 hours, and some of them not knowing if they still have a home to return to. So I think the waiting game is probably the hardest right now. Of course, people say they are living a nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is crazy.
GRAY (voice-over): Search and rescue efforts underway this morning in fire ravaged eastern Tennessee.
GOV. BILL HASLAM (R), TENNESSEE: This is the largest fire in the last 100 years of the state of Tennessee.
GRAY: Firefighters continuing to put out flames, and bracing for the possibility of spot fires after a terrifying 24 hours that left at least 250 homes and businesses destroyed, and forced more than 14,000 residents and tourists to flee to nearby shelters.
KIP MCLAUGHLIN, EVACUATED TOURIST: You just don't know what to do. I mean, you sit there and you're expecting to come on vacation and, again, find out that you can't get back to your family.
GRAY: Drivers capturing terrifying video as they scrambled to escape the fires Monday night. At least three people have died since the flames spread with little warning. Officials now say the fire is human caused. Denise Bearden and her fiance, Mark Benzschawel, were asleep when the
inferno reached their doorsteps. Police rescuing them just in time.
MARK BENZSCHAWEL, EVACUATED RESIDENT: Flames were just everywhere, on both sides of the road, crossing the road, embers flying everywhere. It was a nightmare.
GRAY: Like many others, they are unsure when they can return home or what they'll find.
DENISE BEARDEN, EVACUATED RESIDENT: That's the hard part. You just don't know if it's still going to be there or not. And we may go back to absolutely nothing. But we have each other. And that's all that matters. We made it out with our lives.
GRAY: Others praying their loved ones are safe. Michael Reed has not heard from his wife or two daughters since Monday night as they tried to escape.
MICHAEL REED, WIFE AND DAUGHTERS MISSING IN FIRES: I've called the other shelters here. They said she isn't there. Just hoping for a miracle.
GRAY: And among so much tragedy, there is such an overwhelming sense of community and hope among the folks still here at this evacuation center. And one more glimmer of hope, guys, it has been raining all night and then has been raining off and on today, which is a great help to the firefighters. Hopefully it will help them put out those fires soon so people can return.
CAMEROTA: We pray that is the case. Jennifer, thank you very much.
And up next, we will get firsthand accounts from two people who call the Gatlinburg area home.
CUOMO: But first, a New Hampshire teen with a rare genetic disorder is not letting his small stature slow down his big fighting spirit. Tristan Willmott is dribbling right past his hardships. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his story in this "Turning Points." Take a look.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 3'5", 15-year-old Tristan Willmott is not your typical basketball player.
TRISTAN WILLMOTT: I've been practicing all my life for this.
ANDREW JONES, TRISTAN'S COACH: From the first day of tryouts, when I saw Tristan come in, I thought he was somebody's little brother.
GUPTA: Tristan is now playing on his high school basketball team for a second year.
T. WILLMOTT: Making a basket was my goal in each game.
GUPTA: Tristan has an extremely rare chromosomal disorder called mulibrey nanism. It's a form of dwarfism that impedes growth and also affects the muscles, liver, brain and eyes. It can lead to premature death in patients who experience severe complications, such as a heart infection.
JESSIE WILLMOTT, TRISTAN'S MOTHER: They knew right off that he was small. And they actually found it by accident.
GUPTA: By that point Tristan was in a fight for his life. His mom had prepared him for the worst.
J. WILLMOTT: They had sat me down and said that I needed to look at quality of life versus quantity.
GUPTA: But then he turned a corner after what should have been the last trip of his life.
J. WILLMOTT: They really, I don't think, gave him more than a few months. So we did the Make-a-Wish trip to Florida and he really hasn't been sick since.
GUPTA: Now, ten years later, Tristan credits his grit for helping him soar.
T. WILLMOTT: I didn't get tired because I knew I wouldn't give up.
[08:48:43] CAMEROTA: The Tennessee resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are battling these raging wildfires that have killed three people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. We want an update now and we want to bring in Gatlinburg resident Chris Turner. He's the one who shot that dramatic video that we've been playing here in the aftermath of these ferocious fires, as well as the mayor of Sevier County, Larry Waters. His jurisdiction includes Gatlinburg.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.
Mr. Mayor, what are your biggest challenges this morning?
LARRY WATERS, MAYOR, SEVIER COUNTY, TN: Well, right now we're finishing up our search and rescue. Teams are out going house by house. There's a few areas that we were unable to get to on Monday night because of the swift nature of the fire storm that we had. And we're finishing those up today. So right now search and rescue is our main challenge. And then once we have completed that, we're going to move to a recovery stage.
CAMEROTA: Mr. Mayor, I don't know if you've come across a man name Michael Reed. We just had him in one of our reporter pieces. He has been in a shelter since Monday. He can't find his wife and his two daughters, a nine-year-old and 12-year-old. What -- what's the process of trying to find missing people?
[08:50:08] WATERS: OK, we're -- we're trying -- I'm going to have a briefing here in about 15 minutes with the fire chief, the police chief, and other officials that have been working all night to determine missing folks. And so I'll know more about that at 9:00. But we're certainly -- we're certainly going to do everything we can to make sure that we account for everyone, and in particularly since this gentleman has made us known about -- made it known about his missing family, we're -- we're going to -- we'll focus on that.
WATERS: But certainly I'll know more at 9:00 when I have that briefing.
CAMEROTA: Please, please let us know. We're praying that somehow he can be reunited with his family and that they might be in a different shelter somewhere.
Chris, thank you for sharing all the video for us. It just shows us -- it looks like a war zone. I mean all of the burned out area and houses there. And I know, Chris, that you think that though we're covering this story, we're not exactly getting the real story. And that is, just how this community is coming together. Tell us it about that.
CHRIS TURNER, SHOT VIDEO OF DEVASTATION IN GATLINBURG, TN: Well, a big part of this -- this town is our community. You know, we stand strong through every adversity we ever faced, from the locals, to the businesses, to everybody around here. We're making sure that everybody's safe and that everything's getting covered.
We're very happy, actually, for the coverage y'all have actually provided of our town and of the area and what's going on. There's a lot of destruction and aftermath we're having to deal with. Everybody just needs to stay strong and stay safe. Stay at home if you have the ability and be happy you've got your family in your home with you.
There is a lot going on. The fires are still burning ever somewhat. As Mr. Waters has said, they are out doing everything they can, first responders, emergency personnel, police officers and firefighters. They're trying to do everything they can to get it under control. As you can see from a lot of the footage I've shot, there's a lot going on out there.
TURNER: A lot of these back roads are unsafe, but they are going out and searching for everyone that they have the opportunity to do so.
CAMEROTA: Yes, and, Chris, I mean I know that you said that the community is, you know, not only supporting each other emotionally through this, but rolling up their sleeves. People are volunteering. People are working 24 hours, you know, around the clock. So what is the community able to do? It's such a dangerous zone.
TURNER: One of bigger things the community's able to do right now is everything from dog food, to water, to clothes, to diapers. If you can get to any of the local major churches, the community centers, Pigeon Forge to Sevierville, the Sevierville food ministries, the Humane Society, they're all taking donations. Feel free, stop there. Give the -- give what you can at those locations rather than going up into Gatlinburg or making any possible unsafe things that may happen. Go to those locations, drop off the water, drop off the food.
But, once again, there are a lot of people that are already grabbing shovels, that they're grabbing work gloves and hard hats to get out there and do what they can. Westgate themselves, they actually have all of their architects and engineers here in town already. I've spoke with Mark Waltrip (ph). He's our -- one of our head executives for the company.
TURNER: He wants everybody to know that we're doing everything we can.
TURNER: The company is here, as I said. We're going to be in on Monday starting to get everything ready. There's actually a town hall meeting. They wanted me to let everyone that works for Westgate know about. It's at 1:00 at Wild Bear (ph) in Pigeon Forge at Traffic Light Ten.
TURNER: If you can attend, please do. If you can get out, please attend it.
CAMEROTA: We are very happy to help you get the word out there. And, Mr. Mayor, please let us know when you know anything more about the missing folks. Obviously, CNN will be covering your story and your town all day long.
Gentlemen, thank you. We know that you're busy. Best of luck. You're in our prayers this morning.
WALTERS: Thank you.
TURNER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We have "The Good Stuff" for you, next.
[08:57:37] CUOMO: So, "Good Stuff." Danielle Vinson (pH). She's at the grocery store, just like everybody, and all of a sudden she's like, oh, no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELLE VINSON: And i just welled up with tears in my eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Why?
CUOMO: Because the cashier's halfway through scanning Danielle's groceries, the Iowa mom realizes, no wallet.
CAMEROTA: Oh, I hate when that happens.
CUOMO: So she gets on the phone with her husband, but the stranger behind her says, no, I've got this. It was a $200 bill. And she said I don't even want anything back.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINSON: It's just -- it's just been such a cool, amazing experience, that has not only impacted me, but now like just like spread to the community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: How great (ph).
CUOMO: The stranger didn't want to know.
CUOMO: She didn't want any hardship story. She says, let me pay, this is just what I want to do. So Danielle says, I'm paying it forward.
CAMEROTA: OK, so how did she pay it forward?
CUOMO: She's going to start -- you know, all the things that you do in everyday life, she's going and she's finding people to pay for. Starbucks, other places.
CAMEROTA: I hope I run into Danielle so she can do that for me.
CUOMO: But it's a beautiful message.
CAMEROTA: It is.
CUOMO: Ordinary people doing the extraordinary. What do you do for others?
CAMEROTA: We're going to make you laugh right now. Late night comics taking on President-elect Trump. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O'BRIEN, "CONAN": Some analysts say that Donald Trump's business dealings overseas could lead to him being impeached. Yes. Or -- or as Trump is describing that, a season finale you won't want to miss. I'm fired.
This Thursday, this is true, to show his appreciation, President-elect Trump will be going on a thank you tour. That's what he's calling it, a thank you tour. Now, the tour starts in Moscow and --
JIMMY FALLON, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Saw that the naked cowboy was performing at Trump Tower yesterday in his patented tighty whities. Incidentally, the tighty whities is also the nickname for Trump's cabinet.
Last night Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted out a picture of her and Trump working at his desk looking at Trump's computer. Take a look at this photo. Yes. Now, let's see what they're looking at. Oh, well that's the one thing -- that's the one thing bringing everyone together right now, it's "The Gilmore Girls." No spoilers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: "Gilmore Girls" is back, by the way.
CAMEROTA: I know it is.
CUOMO: My 13-year-old is obsessed. This binge TV thing is very weird.
CAMEROTA: That's interesting. I missed "The Gilmore Girls" the first time around.
CUOMO: The first time. Now you can see it.
CAMEROTA: And now I can do it. (INAUDIBLE).
[09:00:00] CUOMO: I'm into these Marvel series. Who did you think was the funniest, by the way? You can tweet Alisyn and let her know.
CAMEROTA: All right, time for "Newsroom" with Carol Costello.
Good morning, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I, too, am obsessed with "The Gilmore Girls."
CUOMO: Are you? See, all the young kids are in it these days.