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Battle To Retake Mosul From ISIS; Why Europe's Upcoming Elections Matter To the U.S.; How The World Sees Trump's America; How Will Trump Address Conflicts Of Interest? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 1, 2016 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's about fighting those fundamental thoughts and beliefs that allow an entity like ISIS to emerge and thrive.

Briefly, let's look at the history of ISIS only in Iraq. It started off as al-Tawhid Jihad back in 2004. It quickly became al Qaeda in Iraq. It morphed every single time the U.S. military or the Iraqi government declared it defeated and eventually became this entity that we now call ISIS.

More formidable than anyone that the U.S. military faced, and the Iraqis are fighting against ISIS in a heavily populated city where if you look at the reportings, the most haunting images are those of the civilian population hiding inside their homes because the front line is the wall of their house.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And you -- I mean, that was just on such stark display with your reporting. We just showed a moment of it where you were trapped inside a house for more than 24 hours as the war was going on around you, and maybe we can pull up some more of this. We can see that it just happening out there.

But, Clarissa, you also have been there. You know this region well. That's what the generals say, is that you have to deny them territory because otherwise the caliphate will grow. And if you deny them territory that's somehow connected to, then, extinguishing them.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course. And look, I think there's no question that ISIS is in a significantly worse position now than they were this time a year ago. And losing territory does diminish their claim to be the only Islamic caliphate since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. That was a huge recruitment tool so there's no question that they are in a much worse position than they were.

At the same time, what Arwa is saying is very important. All of the political and geopolitical components that led to the rise of ISIS -- this intense feeling that Sunni Muslims have that they are being oppressed not only by the rising power of the Shia Muslims backed by the Russians and the Iranians, but also by the West. As long as you have that strong sense that Sunni Muslims feel that they are oppressed, that they feel they are marginalized, you're going to continue to see this pattern repeating itself over and over again. Another thing to consider is that the caliphate is moving into a

virtual territory now. There is a virtual caliphate. You don't need to have territory to radicalize and recruit.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And you've been watching these people go from Syria to Greece, to France, to Belgium, and of course, you've done terrific reporting on that.

Nick, if we can, I want to turn to Aleppo right now because I was speaking to you just the other day about this when you were overseas. Aleppo seems to be at a tipping point where the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad -- with Russian backing, with the help of Hezbollah and the Iranians -- now seems like they are poised to retake Aleppo and this could be just a major tipping point in these years-long struggle there.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's hard to look back on a moment quite as seismic as the idea of rebels being kicked permanently out of eastern Aleppo. The fact they're able to hold onto half of this commercial hub -- the biggest city in Syria -- for so long was a huge thorn in Assad's side. Now they seem to have the manpower to move in quickly. The problem is I think -- what's so chilling about it is I just don't know how many people are in there.

BERMAN: Thousands and thousands.

WALSH: In 2014, you saw -- the last time I was there you thought probably tens of thousands. The U.N. said 200,000. I simply don't know how he could have trapped in that area. It's hard to get a real estimate and that's the key thing for the weeks and months ahead. How many civilians are really trapped in there? How many have to flee for their lives?

And this is sort of -- the rubble there is skeletal. It's shocking to observe how little there is of sustained life and the idea now that we're seeing people on foot walking eight or nine kilometers to the safest area they can possibly find.

This is most chillingly something which people are overlooking. I think in the nineties, were this occurring, we'd be spending hours talking about this constantly. But the world's in such a state of crisis now that the fact this pivotal moment can occur in a city like that and a war that's gone on for so long where the images are so draining and so repetitive, doesn't make them any better. But we're seeing a moment now where potentially tens of thousands of people could be losing their lives and it's hard to, I think, bring the global focus to it. Has President-elect Trump even spoken about it?

WARD: And after we have said never again, never again, never again after Srebrenica, after Rwanda. I really think that Aleppo promises to be the greatest stain on President Obama's legacy. He has said himself that it keeps him up at night. That he has many gray hairs because of it.

DAMON: And on our legacy, too, as humanity. I mean, we said never again and yet we have allowed ourselves to lose our moral compass globally. I mean, this is on all of us. Those deaths that happened in Aleppo, in Iraq because of ISIS -- this rise of radicalism. The fact that entities like ISIS are able to rise and thrive, that is actually on all of us. And I think every person out there needs to recognize that they have a role to play in it and all the negatives.

BERMAN: I think the important thing is that it's not just happened, it is happening and will happen going forward. I mean, this is happening right before our very eyes. We just saw the pictures right there that have been taken from Aleppo. We know that Aleppo could fall at any moment and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people could suffer.

DAMON: And yet, there's this desensitization to the suffering. There's this desensitization to the images that are coming out. And I, as a journalist, do not know how to present the story anymore in a way that is going to make people care because the most drastic of images are out there. We have children lying on a beach dead because they drowned. We have children shell-shocked inside buildings. We have image upon image of suffering and devastation. What do we do as journalists at this point in history to make people care?

[07:35:23] CAMEROTA: And I don't know that it's desensitization though. I hear you, Arwa. It's the enormity of it. We turn away because it's so overwhelming -- I mean, this is my theory -- because it's so overwhelming and we feel helpless. What is the answer?

WALSH: And that's the problem, there is no simple policy solution we can be talking about. The people tried it.

WARD: No, but there's no leadership, either. You need to have more leadership on an issue like Syria. The reason Syria is not featuring more prominently in the lives of most Americans is because the U.S. politicians have been dodging it as a policy issue for some time now because there aren't any easy answers.

WALSH: Well, what would the easy choice have been? I always try and work out, if I was in the bomber's shoes, what was the thing I would do tomorrow that would have fixed this?

WARD: I would not allow hundreds of thousands of civilians to be slaughtered.

CAMEROTA: And so, U.S. --

DAMON: And when lines are crossed. I mean, if you're going to draw a red line and it gets crossed, you stick to it. You stick to your narrative. That's been the big problem.

WARD: Or you hand over the region to the Russians and say (foreign language).

DAMON: Exactly. You don't give people false hope.

BERMAN: And that may be what happens next with the Trump administration coming in. Guys, stick around, obviously. We have a lot more to discuss in just a moment.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and if any of you at home are feeling helpless and you want to help, Arwa has a charity. It's called International Network For Aid Relief & Assistance. It provides medical care for children in conflict areas. You can go to if you want to help.

BERMAN: Yes. Do it now, during the break. All right, we have big elections coming up in Europe. This, on the heels of the U.S. election, also on the heels of Brexit. So what's next? Are we seeing a wave where we'll see big changes in one nation after another, and what impact will it have here in the United States? Our team of the best reporters on planet earth back in just a moment.


[07:40:27] CAMEROTA: The wave of populism that led to Brexit and Donald Trump's election in the U.S. could move through Europe. In fact, it already is. There are key elections coming up in Austria and France, along with an important reform vote in Italy this weekend,I believe. The results could have major implications and could collapse what we know of as the European Union.

So let's talk to our phenomenal panel of international correspondents, Nick Paton Walsh, Clarissa Ward, and Arwa Damon. Nick, I'll start with you. This weekend, I think, Austria and Italy have important votes. What's happening in Europe?

WALSH: Essentially, I think you're seeing these moments, like in Italy, as purely a vote on constitutional reform. These moments in which perhaps the electorate who've seen the choices they have in front of them for elections being pretty much about shades of gray, certainly as Britain.

I've always seen the last 10 years of choices between parties about being pretty much the same. A guy with slicked back hair and a suit. You saw a little bit different with the previous guy. And you go along with your sort of choice of P.R. spokesman, depending on your mood that day. These choices being put before the electorate now, like with Brexit, are much more sweeping and it's about the ability to basically trash the whole train set if you want.

As we saw, I think, large numbers of people in Britain who felt disenfranchised, who live in rural areas, part of that sort of broader sweep of reform and change in urban areas want to trash the entire transit entirely because they weren't liking the speed it was traveling at, they didn't like the look of the train, and they didn't understand many of the people on the train with them. And for -- well, OK, now's the time, like with Donald Trump's vote, a chance to actually change the nature of the game.

CAMEROTA: Blow it all up.

WALSH: So we'll see that in Italy. We'll see that in Austria, potentially. And a lot of that is finding voice in more troubling far-right parties. I mean, I've been away from the U.K. for 15 years and I've come back more increasingly in the last few months. And I have to say I find it quite hard to recognize a lot of the time a country to go back to because the sweeping changes in cities have been enormous, comparatively. Certainly --

CAMEROTA: Then how do you see it? How do you see it in London? When you go back, what looks different?

WALSH: It's immigration to some degree. You know, it's difficult things to address. But my parents live in a rural area where they've seen huge changes themselves in the past five to seven years, and that's a rural area which voted substantially for Brexit. I mean, people coming out on the street in their wheelchairs to put their vote in. None of it's competent.

It's all a bit troubling because a lot of it kind of jars with values that I've held for years. But you can't fail to recognize that there's been a substantial change in urban environments. London is unaffordable to people like me half the time because of what globalization has done to property prices -- the price of a cup of coffee.

And so I think a lot of that has been unspoken because it hasn't been a comfortable part of the political debate for the past five to 10 years. But it's there, it's very real, and people are finding in the privacy of their voting booth a chance to put a big nasty crayon mark through an uncomfortable --

BERMAN: Well -- and one of the things we may see is in France where the most consequential election in all of Europe will take place in April where Marine Le Pen, obviously heir to this ultranationalist viewpoint in France, which for decades has been -- you know, people have turned their nose up at it, you know. They've known it's there but never had a real chance to come into power.

WARD: And now she's a serious contender. And also, by the way, just in the primary that we saw in France. This was supposed to be the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy -- his big comeback and he was roasted, basically, by someone called Francois Fillon, who is something of a newcomer and a maverick. I mean, he has --

BERMAN: I think he just is someone. I mean, that's the idea.

WARD: I mean -- and everyone was completely shocked and this is what we're seeing again and again and again, which is I guess we should stop being shocked at a certain point because --

DAMON: But we don't want to accept it because we don't want to accept this rise of the right to a certain degree because of the values that Nick is talking about. Because of the fact that some of the ideas put forward are just so shocking to us. We don't want to accept that Europe is putting up barriers or not necessarily being welcoming to immigrants.

Never mind refugees who are desperately making this crossing time and time again. We want to hold up these images of a Europe, and even an America, that is welcoming to all. A place where you can have dreams and if you work hard those dreams can come true. We want to hold onto that notion of these places and it's gone.

BERMAN: What about the United States now because you guys travel around the world and spend so much time in Europe and the Middle East. We've had a big election here in the United States and --

WARD: Have you?

BERMAN: You may have missed it while you were gone.

CAMEROTA: Yes, probably.

BERMAN: But we know that people watch the U.S. election really like no other election around the world right now. So, Clarissa, what's the view of the United States right now? What's the view of the future?

[07:45:00] WARD: First of all, people are more interested in U.S. politics. Obviously, as the leader of the free world, the U.S. is always a sort of center of interest. But particularly with this election, I think it took on a whole new life. And whether I was in Aleppo with Syrian rebels, whether I was in France or Egypt or Africa, everybody wanted to talk about this election.

Everybody wanted to talk about Donald Trump because I think as we're all basically saying here, that everyone understands there is a groundswell movement. There is a shift in the zite (ph), guys, and in many ways the U.S. election embodies that and epitomizes that better than most.

I think what frightens people internationally about Donald Trump -- and make no mistake about it, they are frightened -- it's less -- especially when you talk to world leaders or people in politics -- it's less about the ideas that he represents and it's more about the fact that he is dispensing with the rule book, dispensing with protocol, dispensing with tradition. He is behaving in ways that no one has ever seen from a mainstream politician.

And the Europeans, specifically, who are very much like doing things by the books. (Foreign language) this is how we do this and they don't know how to respond. They don't know how to get their arms around it.

WALSH: We know so little about what he really thinks about the world, to be honest. This is a president of 140 characters, half the time, on Twitter. It's incredibly hard to understand what his detailed thoughts about Syria or ISIS might be. Yet, he may make statements about a better relationship with Russia but, of course, everyone has tried that. That's the first thing you do when you come to the presidency.

Remember the Hillary Clinton reset button? Well, that lasted about a month. Everybody wants that but the geopolitical balance never really feeds it.

DAMON: And that's the problem. You look at these 140-character messages that are being put out there or one sentences that do get shared over and over again, and this anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric, that's like handing ISIS a big bowl of candy to recruit people. These things matter. These things reverberate over and over again.

BERMAN: You know, it is something that the European leaders and leaders all around the world, and people all around the world are going to have deal with now every day, starting on January 20th. We will see how it plays out. Guys, great to see you all. Thanks for coming in.

CAMEROTA: So great to have you here. Thank you for all the insight and reporting.

BERMAN: All right, top Democrats say that Donald Trump's Washington hotel is a clear conflict of interest, so how is he going to separate himself from his businesses? One lawyer has a suggestion. We're going to speak with him, coming up next.


[07:51:15] CAMEROTA: Time for CNN Money Now. Donald Trump's pick for Treasury secretary already laying out his plan for our taxes. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our money center with more. What have you learned?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Alisyn. Issue number one for the incoming Trump economic team, cutting taxes.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE: Well, I mean, our first priority is going to be the tax plan and the tax plan has both the corporate aspects to it. Lowering corporate taxes so we make U.S. companies the most competitive in the world. Making sure we repatriate trillions of dollars back to the United States. And the personal income taxes. We're going to have the most significant middle-income tax cuts since Reagan.


ROMANS: Let's start with those personal taxes. For the richest Americans, Mnuchin says tax cuts will not be across-the-board for the rich. It's a departure from what Donald Trump has proposed through the campaign. Trump promised tax cuts for everyone and said millions of Americans would not pay any federal income tax at all. The rest would fall into these three brackets, 12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent.

Now, tax scorers say the biggest tax cuts under that plan would go to the richest Americans. Less dramatic tax cuts for the middle-class and lower-income families. Mnuchin promising the middle-class, though, will get the most significant relief, proposing limiting mortgage interest deductions and other perks for the wealthiest Americans.

But the biggest tax cuts may come for business. The Trump econ team wants to slash corporate tax rates to about 15 percent from the highest corporate tax rate of any developed nation. On paper, it's 35 percent. Many companies, as you know, already pay well below that because of tax loopholes and the like. All that will be part of the negotiation with Congress -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Christine Romans, star of "EARLY START". Thank you so much.

President-elect Donald Trump vows that he will leave his business to focus on the presidency and says he will not have any conflicts of interest when he takes office. So how will he do it or will he, in fact, do it?

Here to discuss, Professor Steven Schooner. He teaches government procurement law at George Washington University Law School. I'm sure it's a very popular class. Professor Schooner, thanks so much for being with us right now. Let's talk big picture and then I want to narrow it down to small picture because you have a very interesting case to talk about.

But big picture, let me read you what Donald Trump said on Twitter yesterday. He said, "Legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The presidency is a far more important task." Out of business operations does not mean out of ownership so does he still, if he still has some ownership, have a potential conflict of interest?

STEVEN SCHOONER, GOVT. PROCUREMENT LAW PROGRAM, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV.: The fascinating thing about his tweet storm is that it doesn't resolve any of the conflicts that he has. As you indicate, business operations aren't ownership as we'll talk about, I'm sure, in just a moment. One of the concerns is that he benefits from his relationships.

But, you know, the other thing that's really important to keep in mind is he's talkingabout turning over his business to his adult children and, basically, that resolves none of the conflicts that he had to begin with. So this, first of all, doesn't mean anything. We haven't seen any of the details. And it doesn't resolve any of the problems whatsoever.

BERMAN: And it's the details here that will matter. For example, there is this Trump hotel that just opened up in the new post -- well, the old post office building -- new hotel just down the street from the White House. This is a building owned by the governmentwhich the Trump Corporation has a lease on. It has this hotel, but as part of the contract let me read you some of the language right now.

It say, "No elected official of a government of the United States shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease or to any benefit that may arise therefrom." Now, I'm no lawyer here but when you say any elected official, the president is an elected official. That seems to be a problem, Professor.

[07:55:03] SCHOONER: Well, first of all, it is a problem. And second, I'm ecstatic that you read the language. And, frankly, I wish more people would read the language because in any contract class normally one of the things that we begin with, and all of my students will joke that the folks in the front of the room just say when in doubt, let's read the contract. And here, if you read the contract, the language you just read is what we refer to as pretty clear and unambiguous.

So there's not much wiggle room in there. It's pretty clear what the words say. It's pretty clear what the intent of the parties was at the time they entered into the contract. And so, GSA, the manager of the building, didn't make Donald Trump, the tenant, run for president. He took a position -- he took an act that materially breached the contract. I think it's time for GSA to end the contract and they need to do so before the inauguration.

But to be clear, even as clear as that contract language is, that's just one of many problems with the president-elect holding this lease. But as you indicated, the words of the contract are clear. The president-elect is going to be in breach and GSA needs to do the right thing and end that contract as soon as possible.

BERMAN: Or he needs to, right? Or he needs to sell his interest in it.

SCHOONER: Of course.

BERMAN: Isn't that -- isn't that a possibility as well?

SCHOONER: Of course. Nobody is surprised that this happened. I mean, this lease was signed in 2013. Donald Trump announced his candidacy more than a year ago and there should have been a contingency plan. We have no idea what GSA was thinking and the fact that they didn't have a contingency plan or work out a solution is, frankly, stunning.

GSA and the Trump Organization could sit down with any other hotel manager. You know, as many of you know, Marriott is headquartered in the D.C. Metropolitan area and they operate numerous hotels in the area. If they could simply work out a simple transfer or as we say in government contracts, if they could novate the entire agreement there'd by nothing to complain about whatsoever. But the clear outcome here is a simple one. The President-elect of the United States needs to totally divest himself of any relationship or benefit from this contract whatsoever.

BERMAN: And again, the micro case here -- the small case here illustrates the larger point because if, for instance, the President of the United States makes a profit from a hotel down the street from the White House people would stay at that hotel because they think it may give them an in. If you're paying the president, essentially, to stay down the street from him that, in a way, is a conflict, correct?

SCHOONER: We've already heard foreign dignitaries saying that that is what they're doing and it's their intent. And the government of Bahrain has already scheduled a massive public celebration at the hotel, so the optics are terrible. It's an actual conflict of interest, it's an apparent conflict of interest. As the constitutional law scholars will tell you, it's a problem with the emoluments clause of the United States Constitution.

But let me also make sure we don't lose sight of the larger issue. It's imperative for GSA to end this contract not just because he's breached the contract, but everyone is watching. The United States government spends more than $400 billion a year in contracts with the private sector. The government contract sphere is one of the most highly regulated. Oversight is taken very seriously and the punishment for missteps are staggering.

The message here -- the message that if the rules don't apply to the President of the United States would be devastating for the integrity of the public procurement system. We need GSA to do the right thing.

BERMAN: Professor Schooner, your class sounds fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing some of your insight here. We really appreciate it.

SCHOONER: Thanks, have a good day.

BERMAN: All right. We are following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a great first win without us even taking the job.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You have never seen serious adults suck up at the rate that Mitt Romney is sucking up.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump promised that he was not going to have a government that was going to work for Wall Street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president-elect announcing he will leave his business completely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His children talking about deals while he's talking about government. That's a problem.

MICHAEL REED, WIFE AND DAUGHTERS MISSING IN TN. WILDFIRES: And she said that there were flames across the street from our house and she didn't know what to do. I'm just hoping for a miracle.

BERMAN: The raging wildfires in eastern Tennessee have now claimed seven lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, search and rescue is our main challenge.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. Chris is off this morning. John Berman joins me.

BERMAN: And what could possibly go wrong?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, we do have an hour left. Up first, President- elect Donald Trump about to embark on a victory lap. He's heading to Indiana to celebrate his deal to keep 1,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. And tonight, he'll have a big campaign-style thank you rally for voters in Ohio.

BERMAN: While this is happening, the president-elect is narrowing the field for key cabinet posts. We've got 50 days now until the inauguration and so many people now watching who will get the secretary of state and defense nominations.

Let's begin this hour with CNN's Jessica Schneider. She is live outside Trump Tower here in New York. Good morning, Jessica.