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THE SITUATION ROOM
Should Trump Be Taken Literally?; Trump Speaks with Leader of Taiwan; Romney Still in the Running for Secretary of State; Sanctions Spark Angry Threats from North Korea; Jury Deadlocked Over South Carolina Police Shooting; Trump Plans 10 Stops on 'Thank You' Tour; Tempers Flare at Election Postmortem; Democrats Want Russian Hacking Intelligence Declassified. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 2, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAPPER: -- you can only see on CNN, all starting at 9 a.m. Eastern. That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: breaking news. Hopelessly deadlocked. A single juror says he can't vote to convict the South Carolina police officer who shot Walter Scott in the back as the rest of the jury asked the judge to remove the holdout. Will the case end in a mistrial?
Russian influence. Sources are telling CNN that U.S. intelligence is increasingly confident Russian hacking was intended to steer the election toward Donald Trump. Now Democrats are calling for more information. Will the White House reveal what it knows?
Still campaigning. The president-elect is about to hit the road, taking his thank-you tour to ten cities in the coming weeks. The raucous atmosphere at his first event was very similar to his campaign rallies. Is Trump still in campaign mode?
And Un-deterred. The dictator, Kim Jong-un, puts North Korea's military might on display, as he vows retaliation for new United Nations sanctions. His propaganda machine warning Kim will wipe out his enemies. Now a former top American commander says the U.S. may need to launch a preemptive strike. Is Donald Trump prepared to do it?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Jurors in the trial of former South Carolina police officers Michael Slager have told the judge they are hopelessly deadlocked, and they don't believe they can reach a consensus.
They were the cornerstone of this campaign, and now President-elect Donald Trump is reviving his raucous rallies, planning ten stops in what he calls his thank-you tour. At his first stop in Cincinnati, we saw classic Trump boasting, lashing out at enemies, attacking the news media and basking as the crowd of thousands launched into the anti- Hillary Clinton chant, "Lock her up."
Now sources are telling CNN the U.S. intelligence community is increasingly confident that a series of cyberattacks blamed on Russia were designed to throw the election to Donald Trump. Several Democrats on the Senate's Intelligence Committee, they are asking President Obama to declassify and release intelligence on Russian interference in the U.S. election.
Also new tonight, threats of annihilation by the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He's vowing to retaliate over new sanctions imposed by the United Nations for North Korea's nuclear weapons tests over the summer.
We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including Republican Congresswoman Marcia Blackburn. And our correspondents and our expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the jury deadlock in South Carolina right now. Brian Todd is here. Our legal analyst Laura Coates is here, as well.
Brian, first to you. Update our viewers.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just moments ago, the judge in this case have declared a short recess, saying he couldn't decide yet whether to declare a mistrial in this case; sent the jurors back into their deliberation room, but declared a short recess in the case for the moment.
He could be just sorting this out and may come back with a decision on whether a mistrial should be declared within the next few minutes. He may extend this maybe a little bit more this late afternoon and early evening.
This has been a dramatic day in the court in the trial of the officer, Michael Slager, who shot Walter Scott in the back several times last year, in April 2015.
This trial has been going on, Wolf, for now five weeks, and today a fairly dramatic day in court. The jury did ask for testimony from the witness who shot the cell-phone video that you're looking at right here. A few minutes later, they passed the judge another note, saying it was clear that they could not reach a consensus in this case.
It appears that it is one juror who has been the holdout in this case. He sent the judge a note, saying he could not in good conscience convict Officer Michael Slager in this case.
And again, what we've just heard is the judge has declared a short recess. He has not yet decided whether to declare a mistrial in this case. The defense has asked for a mistrial. And again, of course as we know, Wolf, if a mistrial is declared, that, of course, raises the possibility and the likelihood even that Michael Slager will be tried again for this. He's accused of murder. Another possibility is that he could have been found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in this case. BLITZER: It has to be, Laura Coates, our legal analyst, unanimous for
a conviction. If one juror holds out, then the judge really has no choice but to declare a mistrial. Is that right?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. And all you need is one, which is why defense counsel and prosecutors rely so heavily on jury selection. You're trying to identify the one person or two who may be the people to be in your favor.
And remember, it's a holdout in favor of, you know, acquittal. Eleven of the 12 actually wanted a conviction, which is not surprising, given the breadth of evidence you have in this very evident videotape, but it only takes one.
Remember, there are still one more trial to go. This is a state trial. There's one more in January for the federal charges, for whether he was acting under the color of law. But that's a very difficult hurdle to overcome if you already have a mistrial in your pocket.
BLITZER: How unusual, Laura, is it for the members of the jury to be sending notes to the judge, as we just saw, notes to the judge saying, "Get rid of this one juror who's the holdout, because he shouldn't be on this jury." It's pretty extraordinary, isn't it?
COATES: It is, to have people contact -- the judge will tell people, "Do not tell me which way you're leaning, one way of -- I don't want to know about the deliberations at all."
They were really trying to signal to the court, "Listen, this is an issue here. We've got 11-1 here."
And remember, last night they had a note talking about, can you define for us the difference between fear and passion? So already then we knew we were thinking about, well, is it going to be a manslaughter only, or rather a murder? But now we're hearing this may, in fact, just be a mistrial. We are all astounded in the legal community.
BLITZER: Because we all saw the video, and we showed it to our viewers again, the police officer, Michael Slager, pointing his gun and shooting Walter Scott in the back a few times as he was running away.
The argument the defense attorneys, Brian, are making is that this police officer still had legitimate fear that he could turn around and come after him.
TODD: That is the argument that the defense has made, Wolf, because the officer, Mr. Slager, has claimed that Mr. Scott took his Taser at one point. And there was a Taser seen in the video, but it's not really clear what role this Taser had, whether Scott really had it or not. The officer claimed there was a tussle involved.
But look, this video shocked just everyone who saw it. This was clearly the officer shooting Mr. Scott as he ran away several times in the back. You see Scott going down. I was down there to cover that shooting at the time. I talked to
witnesses who saw it. I talked to people in that neighborhood who said that this officer, Michael Slager, was known as a very aggressive police officer in that community. And, you know, you would think again, as Laura has pointed out, with all the evidence here, that, you know, it certainly leaned in favor of a possible conviction, but it's just -- right now it's just confusing. One juror seems to be a real issue here in this case.
BLITZER: And Laura, the argument that the defense attorneys made, as we all saw the few seconds of that video, which is obviously very compelling. The -- the dead man, Walter Scott, running away, if you will, and being shot in the back by the police officer, Michael Slager.
But the defense attorneys are saying there were no video of what happened leading up to that moment as he was running away, and that explains the state of mind of this police officer, why the police officer, in this particular case Michael Slager, thought that there were legitimate safety concerns for his own life.
COATES: That's what their angle was. However, this man was shot when he was 18 feet from the officer. And whatever struggle may have ensued prior to that is not really the actual crux of the argument that should be made.
But you know, it only took one little seed of reasonable doubt in order to get this person perhaps to hold out and not want to do a conviction. And remember, the defense also is saying, they said, "Listen, do not lump this officer in with all of the other cases you hear about officers who are involved in the shooting of unarmed civilians. This is not the example."
But in fact, it is almost the bad apple that people point to when they think about whether or not officers are doing the wrong thing. This is somebody who also planted evidence, perhaps, according to the prosecution's case. So it's astounding that there is even a holdout, but it's not shocking that the justice system requires beyond a reasonable doubt and unanimity, and you don't seem to have it here.
TODD: It's certainly the case among all the ones we've talked about and covered since Ferguson where you seemed to see, really, fairly clear evidence here that the officer committed some kind of misconduct.
TODD: He's shooting at the guy as he runs away several times. You said 18 feet.
TODD: I mean, it certainly seems right. You know, it's just -- the evidence here would seem to be clear, but again one juror, it's that doubt that Laura points out as to whether he was under threat or not, whether there was a Taser involved or not, whether there was a tussle or not. And we don't have video of that.
BLITZER: And the judge in this particular case, if that one juror continues to hold out, as seems to be the case -- they've been going back and forth now -- the judge has no choice but to declare a mistrial, and then we'll see what the prosecution decides to do down the road.
COATES: That's absolutely right. We'll have to figure out, listen, what was the reason there was a holdout? And is it worth us to go back and try the case. And I think the community will probably say overwhelmingly yes.
BLITZER: Laura Coates, Brian Todd, we'll stay on top of this story. And, of course, once the judge makes the final decision -- we expect that to be fairly soon -- we'll go live to that courtroom. Appreciate it very much.
Let's turn to the other big story we're following here in the United States right now, the Trump transition. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is over at Trump Tower in New York for us. Sunlen, we now know the president- elect's thank-you tour, as they're calling it, will take him, what, to ten cities over the next two weeks? Update our viewers.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President- elect Donald Trump clearly wanting to get out in front of his supporters over the next few weeks.
[17:10:05] And we saw vintage Donald Trump on display at of his first campaign-style rallies last night in Cincinnati, where he was really relishing in the moment and making it very clear he has no intention of backing away from his trademark style.
TRUMP: Though we did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn't we?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
SERFATY (voice-over): President-elect Donald Trump sounding a lot like candidate Trump.
TRUMP: And we won it big, but then the people back there, the extremely dishonest press...
SERFATY: Kicking off his multistate thank-you tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, boasting about his White House victory.
TRUMP: That person was saying for months that there's no person was saying for months that this there snow way that Donald Trump can break the blue wall, right? We didn't break it; we shattered that sucker.
SERFATY: Trump going off script, taking shots at familiar foes, such as Ohio Governor John Kasich.
TRUMP: In the great state of Ohio, we didn't have the upper echelon of politician either, did we? While at the same time attempting to strike a unifying tone.
TRUMP: We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its form. We denounce all of the hatred, and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We're going to come together.
SERFATY: Trump also making a high-profile staffing announcement.
TRUMP: Mad Dog, he's great.
SERFATY: Confirming from the podium his choice for secretary of defense: retired Marine Corps General James Mattis.
TRUMP: They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have, and it's about time.
SERFATY: But Mattis still has a hurdle to clear, the transition team now working to get a special waiver from Capitol Hill that he needs to be confirmed, due to a decades-old statute barring service members from quickly jumping to civilian positions.
Transition officials say they are confident Mattis will get the clearance.
But one Democrat, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is already registering her opposition, saying, quote, "Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rules."
Meantime, at Trump Tower today, the revolving door of meetings and job interviews continued.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: He's a very intuitive man, and what he's really searching for is like-minded people that want to serve the American people.
SERFATY: Trump sitting down today with former defense secretary Robert Gates, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, among other things. Perhaps the most intriguing meeting: Trump huddling with North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a red-state Democrat, a possible contender for secretary of energy.
Even as the biggest cliff-hanger, who Trump will pick as secretary of state, remains center stage.
TRUMP: Don't forget, I hit Mitt pretty hard also, I mean, before the fact. And so I understand how it all works.
SERFATY: Trump adding to the suspense, praising his former rival, Mitt Romney, now in the final four.
TRUMP: But he's been very, very nice. We had dinner the other night. It was great. There was actually a good chemistry.
SERFATY: And Trump teasing other big decisions to come over who he's preparing to name to the Supreme Court.
TRUMP: I'm looking. I'm down to probably three or four.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From your list?
TRUMP: From the list. And they are terrific people, highly respected, brilliant people, and we'll be announcing that pretty soon, too.
SERFATY: And as the president-elect works on all of that, going into next week, if you look at his schedule, it has all of the intensity, really, of a campaign week, transition officials confirming that he will be on the road four days next week, Wolf, holding more of these thank-you rallies across the country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty over at Trump Tower in New York, thanks very much.
The deep divisions exposed by the presidential campaign were certainly on full display at an extraordinary election postmortem. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us.
Jeff, top staff members of the Clinton and Trump campaigns, they sat down to discuss the election. Tell our viewers what happened.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there were no warm offers of congratulations or handshakes from either side here. As they did till down in the room in Harvard University, which presidential campaigns have been doing it every election since 1972.
I was inside the room for this two-day conference, Wolf, and I can tell you, it was extraordinary. So much tension, but far more so than self-reflection.
ZELENY (voice-over): A combustible mix of raw emotions and hard feelings, as top advisers to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came face-to-face for the first time since the election.
The Clinton team blunting accusing the Trump campaign of fueling racism to help win the White House.
JENNIFER PALMIERI, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.
[17:15:05] KELLYANNE CONWAY, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: No, you wouldn't. No, you wouldn't.
CONWAY: That's very clear today. No, you wouldn't, respectfully. ZELENY: Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri and Trump
campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tangling over Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and former executive of Breitbart News, a website popular with the alt-right movement.
PALMIERI: It is a very, very important moment in our history of our country. And I think as, you know, his presidency goes forward, I'm going to be very glad to have been part of the campaign that tried to stop him.
CONWAY: Jen, do you think -- do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?
PALMIERI: It did. Kellyanne, it did.
CONWAY: Do you think you could have had a decent message for the white working-class voters? Do you think this woman who has nothing in common with anybody.
PALMIERI: I'm not saying...
ZELENY: A post mortem on the presidential race, a staple of every campaign since 1972, erupted in this series of extraordinary exchanges at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
The advisors looked one another squarely in the eye across a table as they argued about Clinton winning the popular vote and Trump the Electoral College.
JOEL BENENSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: It's hard to say we lost the popular vote, so that means we didn't do as well.
CONWAY: There was nothing that said "the road to popular vote" anywhere. It's the road to 270.
BENENSON: Kellyanne, I premised my statement by saying that.
CONWAY: Hey, guys, we won. You don't have to respond. I mean, seriously, hold on. Why is there no mandate? You've lost 60 congressional seats since President Obama got there. You got -- lost more than a dozen senators, a dozen governors; 1,000 state legislators.
You just reelected a guy who represents liberal New York, and a woman who represents San Francisco as your leadership. You're learned nothing from this election.
ZELENY: The forum, a civil academic exercise in most elections, is intended to right a first draft of the history of the campaign. Amid the shouting, the conversation offered a window into why Trump aides believe he won, despite a string of offensive comments.
CONWAY: One thing that was missed all along in this election, if something that we noticed early on, which is there's a difference to voters between what offends you and what affects you.
ZELENY: And why Clinton aides acknowledge struggling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voters overwhelmingly wanted change, and we saw that. I think anybody looking at the race saw that. And obviously, that did create some headwinds for Hillary.
ZELENY: After the off-camera discussion, Conway and Mook sat down for CNN's Jake Tapper for a conversation appearing Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION."
ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We cannot have foreign -- and foreign aggressors, I would argue, intervening in our elections. And we know that the Russians were promulgating fake news through Facebook and other outlets.
CONWAY: I think the biggest piece of fake news in this election was that Donald Trump wouldn't win. So there's that.
ZELENY: About those headwinds the Clinton campaign talked about. they believe that two in particular really hurt her in the final days: one, the letter from the director of the FBI, and two, all those leaked e-mails, which they blame on Russian intelligence officials. But they did acknowledge they did not believe the call for change would be as strong as it was -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny reporting. Thank you.
By the way, you can see once again the full interview with Kellyanne Conway and Robby Mook Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," 9 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Meanwhile, there's new information tonight about a series of cyber- attacks during the campaign, which the United States blames on Russia. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working the story for us.
Jim, you're getting new information from your sources.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And that's right. That's that there's new intelligence related to this hacking.
Democratic senators are pressing the Obama administration to more forthrightly state, based in part on this new intelligence, that Russia's meddling in the U.S. election was intended to help Donald Trump, multiple sources tell CNN.
Democratic pressure comes as multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation tell us that the U.S. intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian hacking was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine the overall political process.
Seven Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote President Obama -- this is yesterday -- insisting that such intelligence should now be, quote, "declassified and released," though the letter did not specify what exactly this new intelligence was.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, also wants to see more information public, specific to Russia's involvement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: They largely accomplished their mission of sowing discord in the United States and maybe even tipping the balance, in part, in favor of Mr. Trump and against Secretary Clinton. And unless they pay a price for this kind of interference, we're going to see a lot more of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: I should say that these sources do not see this new information as significantly changing the intelligence agencies' understanding of Russian motives, since the Democratic Party, of course, was always the principle target of these hacks.
However, the intelligence community had not, until this point, indicated in public that Russia's intention was to help Donald Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: Jim, has the Trump campaign, or I should say the Trump transition, have they responded to this?
SCIUTTO: They have, indeed. A Trump ally telling my colleague, Sunlen Serfaty -- and this is a quote -- that "this is nothing more than sour grapes from partisan Democrats, upset that Hillary Clinton lost."
[17:20:08] I should note, Wolf, that to be clear, the Democratic lawmakers that we have spoken with, they say that this is not about who won this election. The election is past. They say that this is about the integrity of the U.S. electoral process. And you hear from many of them that this hacking -- and we heard this from DNI Clapper, as well -- is not expected to end with the election. They expect Russia to continue hacking and targeting the political process here in the U.S. going forward.
BLITZER: So it's now -- it's now up to the White House, the president of the United States, basically to decide whether or not they're going to release the intelligence, which I assume some of it's very sensitive, whether they're going to release it.
SCIUTTO: Well, that is until, of course, President Obama leaves office. These Democratic senators pressing him to do so until January 20, but after that, of course, it's up to Donald Trump.
BLITZER: It's up to a new president after January 20. All right. Thanks very much. Good report, Jim Sciutto.
Let's get some more on all of this. Republican Congressman Marcia Blackburn of Tennessee is joining us. She's the vice chair of the Trump transition team. Congresswoman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. MARCIA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Good to be with you. Thank you.
BLITZER: I want to get to that issue that Jim Sciutto was just reporting in a moment.
But first, let me get your -- your analysis, Donald Trump's choice of retired Marine Corps General Mattis to become the secretary of defense. Tell us about the direction that choice signals that the new president is about to take.
BLACKBURN: It signals that you are going to have a secretary of defense who is going to listen to the commanders in the field. General Mattis understands the importance of having that on-the-ground intelligence. He also understands how to work with the troops.
I have talked to some of the Marines who have been deployed with him at different times. And they talk about how he would come out. He would be in the field with them. He would eat field rations. He would talk with them first-hand.
And Wolf, when -- sometimes when I would be deploying to see my troops from Ft. Campbell, and would be going to an F.O.B., we would do kind of a town hall, so that I could hear from them what worried them. And I thought it was so significant that General Mattis would go and do this with his troops. "Talk to me. How is your family? Tell me, do you have what you need? Do you understand the mission? How are you carrying forward? That is the mark of leadership, someone who is not ever going to ask his troops to do something that he would not do it himself. And this is -- it's commendable. Very commendable. The troops are really excited.
BLITZER: All right. The fact that the president-elect has selected a retired lieutenant general, Mike Flynn, to be his national security adviser, a retired four-star general, General Mattis, to be the secretary of defense, for all practical purposes, does this mean, Congresswoman, that General Petraeus and General Kelly, for that matter, are out of the running for secretary of state?
BLACKBURN: I would not say anyone is in or out. That decision, I think, will be with Mr. Trump. He is the one who is going to make that decision.
Now, General Petraeus commanded 101st at Ft. Campbell. And I had the opportunity, when it was in Iraq and Afghanistan at different times, to see what was happening on-the-ground and talk with him and see how he worked with the troops.
These are people that have a unique understanding not only of what is transpiring in the Middle East and what is happening with the rise of terrorism, but they understand the global impact. Whether you're talking about CentCom, PacCom, which you're talking about Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the different pressure points and hot spots that are around the globe.
And to know that Mr. Trump is seeking advice and counsel from individuals that have that kind of world view and that kind of on-the- ground firsthand insight, intelligence and experience, I think is just really comforting to people who have said jobs, economic security, national security, they're the top issues in the campaign.
We've had a hard-fought campaign over those. People want to see action. And Wolf, I think they -- they're going to be very pleased with this.
BLITZER: All right. Let me move to the story that Jim Sciutto just reported on. It's a significant story. You heard his report on concerns over Russia's influence on the U.S. presidential election. Now seven Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, they've written a letter to the president, President Obama, that reads in part, "We believe there is additional information concerning the Russia government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public. We are conveying specifics through classified channels."
Will Republicans work with Democrats to fully investigate this very serious allegation that the Russian government directly interfered in the U.S. election with the intention of trying to help Donald Trump win?
[07:25:07] BLACKBURN: I can't speak to what the Senate is or is not going to do.
What I can speak to is the fact that we have tried many times to get the Democrats to work with us on cybersecurity provisions, data security provisions, and would welcome their ability to do that.
I think also, when you talk about the elections, what we do have to realize is every county has an election commission. It has an election board that is made up of individuals, Democrats and Republicans, that are there. The voting machines are electronic, yes, but they are on a closed-loop system. They are not something that is on the Internet.
BLITZER: I don't think the -- I don't think the accusation is that they directly interfered in the voting, per se, but that they were using all sorts of sensitive information, fake news, getting involved along those lines to try to promote Donald Trump.
BLACKBURN: Right, and that's...
BLITZER: Here's the bottom-line question: If, in fact, the Russians were doing this, do the American people have the right to know what the U.S. government knows?
BLACKBURN: If anyone is putting fake news out there, the ISPs have the obligation to, in some way, get that off the web. And maybe it's time for these information systems to look to have some type of news editor that is doing some vetting on that, whether it is the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians or whomever. You do not want that out there, because it is -- it is fake news. It is not something that is going to be correct, and it's going to end up being refuted. But it takes time, effort and energy to do that, and trying to sway or misinform is completely inappropriate and, in my opinion, unethical.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Marcia Blackburn, we're going to continue obviously. We're following all the breaking news. Thanks so much for joining us.
BLACKBURN: Good to be with you. Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you. We'll take a quick break. We'll update our viewers on the new developments right after this.
[17:31:33] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We got word now that the President-elect Donald Trump, he's planning on visiting 10 cities in the coming days to tell his supporters thank you.
His thank you tour actually began last night in Cincinnati, Ohio. He hit many of the same themes and the targets as Trump's campaign rallies before the election.
Let's bring in our political experts who are with me right now.
Gloria, let's talk a little bit about Carrier first. In a speech last night he admitted that he really didn't think he had promised to keep all the Carrier jobs in Indiana when he said it. He explained -- he sort of meant that as euphemism if you will. And people are wondering, when he says something -- should we take his words literally? Is that the bottom line?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think that a lot of us in the media have been criticized for taking Donald Trump too literally. It's clear that he doesn't take himself literally. And what was stunning to me about that was the story he told, which was quite candid. He said he was watching the evening news at some point. And he saw this -- somebody from Carrier saying, well, we're not going to lose our jobs because Donald Trump told us we wouldn't and he said, huh, did I say that? Well, then I guess I better save their jobs. And that's what got this started. Maybe the lead there is he's watching the networks and not cable. But that's another story.
BLITZER: So what's the bigger message, S.E. Cupp, we should all take away from this?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I -- I think the idea that in a post-fact, post-truth, post-Trump world that we should all adjust the way we listen to accommodate the way he talks is pretty dangerous. I don't think that should be the takeaway. But I do think we have to hear with fresh ears. He's not traditional, he's not conventional. Maybe we have to take everything he says with a grain of salt. But that's why our reporters and our press are going to be so crucial over the next year to four years covering him to really hold him accountable. It's literally the definition of leadership. Believing you can take a
man at his word. We need that as an institution in the presidency.
BLITZER: The Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, he clearly takes Donald Trump at his word. He released a transcript of what he said was their phone conversation and potentially this could cause some diplomatic headaches for the next administration.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It could. I think he called him a terrific guy. And that's why --
BLITZER: And he also said, according to the transcript, I'll do whatever you want.
ZELENY: Which, you know, is pretty much giving an open door, open check, whatever, blank check, and that's why the old rules of Donald Trump have not -- you know, that's why we can't adjust -- the world is not going to adjust to Donald Trump-speak.
ZELENY: That's why words do matter. That's why they must be taken literally. He's to be the 45th president of the United States. When he makes diplomatic phone calls. We're told he made another one this afternoon. These things matter. So people at the State Department cannot certainly await to get involved in some of these calls.
BLITZER: Stand by for a moment. Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is getting new information on one of those phone calls that the president-elect had today with a foreign leader, a phone conversation, Elise, that could cause some potential diplomatic fallout.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. A very extraordinary phone call between the President-elect Trump and the president of Taiwan. The Trump transition just issuing a list of some of these calls that the president made. And among them Taiwanese president, in the statement, the transition said that President-elect Trump spoke with President Sai of Taiwan, offering congratulations, but then went on to talk about the close political, economic and security ties that exist between Taiwan and the United States.
[17:35:11] You know, Wolf, obviously that the U.S. adheres to this one China policy, Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. does not have formal ties with Taiwan. They cut off ties in 1979. The U.S. does maintain an economic cooperation office there, the same for the Taiwanese here in Washington. And there are informal contacts, but these are not countries that have diplomatic relations.
This is one of the thorniest issues between the U.S. and China. And China very sensitive to any comments, any move that the U.S. makes on Taiwan. So this is believed to be the first time a president-elect has spoken with a Taiwanese leader since 1979 when the two countries broke off ties. They are going to, Wolf, I can't underestimate how they're going to freak out about this reported call.
BLITZER: Well, is there any reaction from the Chinese government yet?
LABOTT: Not yet. We've reached out to them. We haven't heard back. Obviously we're just getting news of this very important phone call. But it really does signal if, you know, as we've been talking about, Donald Trump sometimes we don't know whether these calls are planned, if he's trying to send a message, or as some diplomats say, is he just winging it? And that's why it's so important to have these briefings with the State Department, with the intelligence community, to talk about the sensitivity and the consequences here.
Now you would think that President-elect Trump does have foreign policy advisers that know how sensitive this is with the Chinese. And you can only think that they are trying to send a signal that, you know, there's a new U.S. leader in town, and the kind of power that the Chinese have in the region that the U.S. is going to try and counter it in a very bold way, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Let me bring in Mark Preston because, Mark, as you know, administration officials, Obama administration officials, State Department official have strongly encouraged the president-elect and his advisers to get briefings from them before the president-elect has these kinds of sensitive phone conversations whether with a prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, or let's say with the president of Taiwan, but apparently there hasn't been a whole lot of briefings between State Department officials and this incoming administration.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: No, and the Trump administration will defend themselves and say that Donald Trump is being briefed by those who he is picking for his Cabinet, such as Lieutenant General Flynn and other foreign policy experts that are helping him with this transition as he moves into a new administration. But even the White House was asked this. Josh Earnest was asked this at the White House and he said Barack Obama benefited greatly from this. We hope that Donald Trump does, too. He takes this advice as well, pointing out, you know, for our viewers out there the folks that are briefing you are long serving bureaucrats. They're not political. They're experts in the field. They can tell you what the U.S. policy is and make sure you don't trip up. And clearly what we've seen over the -- you know, these last two telephone calls is maybe he hasn't necessarily tripped, but he certainly caused a lot of angst.
BORGER: There is nothing about Donald Trump that is nuanced. And I believe that while he has people in the room with him, and I've been told that there are people in the room with him, that they are trying to be deliberately provocative in a way, and say, as Elise was saying, there's a new sheriff in town. And just because no president-elect since 1979 has spoken to you doesn't mean that I won't. You know, we have no idea about the one China policy and all of this needs to be investigated, and we have to see what the ripples are from China. But I think Donald Trump is doing this on purpose. I think it's very purposeful. I think that every call he makes is a call someone else would not have made.
BLITZER: Yes, and I suspect -- we all shouldn't be surprised once he becomes president of the United States if he decides to reject the long-standing, decades-old advice from the State Department on moving the U.S. embassy, for example, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
BLITZER: If he's going to do that, that' going to cause a lot of anger among those State Department career diplomats, if you will, who have told every president, Democratic president, Republican president, don't do that. Donald Trump might just do that as well.
Everyone, stand by. We have a lot more coming up. We'll take a quick break. Right after this.
[17:43:50] BLITZER: We're back with our political experts.
Gloria, the whole notion of Mitt Romney maybe becoming the secretary of State, despite that base, some of those Republican conservatives would hate the idea, it's still very much in play, if you listen to what Donald Trump is saying.
BORGER: It's very much in play. And I think, Wolf, according to my sources it's going to play out a little bit longer. And part of me believe that the reason Donald Trump is encouraging people to criticize Mitt Romney publicly is that if he does pick him, he can say to Mitt Romney, you owe me, but let me point something else that's interesting historically.
Mitt Romney idolizes his dad. George Romney, former governor of Michigan. And his father had an ongoing feud with Richard Nixon, ran against him, refused to release his delegates to him in 1968. And then lo and behold, guess what he did? He went and he served in Richard Nixon's Cabinet.
Now it wasn't the secretary of State --
ZELENY: He quit, though, too. Didn't he?
ZELENY: Well -- this is the story. He -- it was as HUD secretary, housing secretary. They had a lot of fights, but he didn't quit until Richard Nixon won reelection, and then he left office.
BLITZER: How realistic, S.E., is it that Mitt Romney could emerge as secretary of State?
[17:45:03] CUPP: You asked me this a couple of nights ago. And I said, you know, the optimist in me really wanted to believe that this was an earnest, sincere courtship. I am increasingly having the sinking feeling that it's not. That this is going to end like the prom scene in "Carrie" with a bucket of pig's blood, you know, dumped on Mitt Romney's head.
It's too weird. This courtship is so public, it's so over the top. These two guys had tremendous acrimony over the past year. Where is Rudy Giuliani's Jean Georges dinner? It's looking and smelling bizarre to me. And I'm not the only one who thinks that. I talked to someone close to Romney today, who has the same anxiety and concern. And I hope I'm wrong. I hope at the end of this, whether Trump picks him or doesn't, he does it with respect and dignity.
BLITZER: You know, it's also interesting, Jeff, during the campaign a lot of us remember Donald Trump says -- said at one point, I know more than the generals, but now he's surrounding himself with a lot of generals and admirals. Let's not forget the admirals that are on the mix for key positions as well.
BORGER: You took him too literally.
ZELENY: Right. No, it is extraordinary, but I think that is a sign of strength. If anything Donald Trump wants to do is present a strong face to the country, but more importantly to the world as well here. But I think there's a limit to the number of generals you'll have. So I think with General Mattis in play, I would think it means that Petraeus is not as much in the mix. Confirmation is difficult for some of these as well here. So as I still think, as Gloria said, we have to hold out a little bit longer for Romney. I don't think he knew him as well as Rudy Giuliani so maybe he didn't need that dinner. They've had dinners before. You know, but people in the Romney world that I talked to simply don't know.
BORGER: Don't know.
ZELENY: And they think that that is weird, given that it's --
BLITZER: What are you hearing?
PRESTON: Well, I'm hearing that Romney is actually keeping a lot of this close to his vest and not talking to --
PRESTON: To the layers of advisers who have surrounded him, you know, for the past 10 years or so, but let me try to alleviate a little bit of S.E.'s angst right there.
CUPP: It's just cynicism.
PRESTON: I just think of a lot about how he's been playing this out. I don't think Donald Trump knows how to move forward than others in a way he's doing so. Meaning, he's a businessman. He thinks deals are cut over dinner at these really fancy restaurants. He thinks picking up the phone and cutting a deal is how you do things. That's not necessarily how you do things as president but then again he's the president and --
BLITZER: He can do whatever he wants. He's the president-elect right now.
BORGER: Can I say one more thing?
BLITZER: Everybody, stand by, there's more coming up, including a developing story we're following. North Korea, its ferocious response to some brand-new sanctions. Will anything rein in Kim Jong-un's nuclear ambitions?
[17:52:08] BLITZER: We're watching an ominous new stream of threats from North Korea right now, whose leaders are furious about new sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd.
Brian, what is Kim Jong-un's regime saying about all of this?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, Kim and his regime are saying that these sanctions are an effort by, quote, "Obama and his lackeys," to get North Korea to stop manufacturing nuclear weapons. Kim says it won't work and tonight he's threatening retaliation for those sanctions.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, Kim Jong-un, North Korea's saber rattling dictator, again defiant. Apparently pushing back against new United Nations sanctions, releasing these propaganda photos. Kim commanding his artillery batteries as legions of tanks blast away and explosions rigged coastlines and hillsides.
The man who demands his people call him their Supreme Commander looks pleased, even laughing with nervous looking generals. But the pictures are not a joke. Tonight, North Korea's news agency says they show Kim's army practicing to target South Korea's islands and its capital to, quote, "erase all enemy nests and wipe all of them out."
From one of Kim's news anchors, another warning that the latest round of sanctions from the U.N., South Korea and Japan against North Korea will bring retaliation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Through Translator): It will trigger off its tougher countermeasures for self-defense.
TODD (on camera): What do they mean by that?
PATRICK CRONIN, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: They have a whole series of tricks that they want to pull. Cyber attacks, special operations forces, provocations across the northern limit line and the sea, provocations along the Demilitarized Zone. Other missile launches that could provoke a response.
TODD (voice-over): The sanctions imposed because of North Korea's nuclear bomb tests in September will cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of Kim's coal and copper exports and the money Kim and his cronies make from building statues for other countries.
PROF. KATHARINE MOON, WELLESLEY COLLEGE: I don't think they will be personally hurt as much as the North Korean people. He will squeeze the North Korean people if he has to in order to make up for whatever personal losses are caused by the sanctions.
TODD: In a statement, Kim's regime says, quote, "Obama and his lackeys are sadly mistaken if they think the sanctions will force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. And no a new warning from a former American commander in South Korea, General Walter Sharp says the incoming Trump administration should preemptively strike a long-range North Korean missile on the launch pad if it prepped for launch even if the U.S. isn't sure it's carrying a nuclear warhead. And make clear to Kim the consequences if he retaliates.
GEN. WALTER SHARP, FORMER U.S. COMMANDER IN SOUTH KOREA: That if he responds back after we take one of his missiles out, that there is a lot more coming his way with something that he holds dear.
TODD: Is the president-elect considering that? The incoming administration didn't respond to request for comment by CNN.
TODD: And tonight, Wolf, another potential crisis. America's top ally in the standoff with Kim Jong-un, South Korean president Park Geun-hye, well, she might soon be impeached or forced to resign because of a toxic political scandal.
[17:55:08] Experts say Kim Jong-un may see that crisis in South Korea as a vulnerability he can exploit, but he could miscalculate by launching some kind of military provocation to intimidate South Korea and he could start another military conflict.
Wolf, very dangerous on the Peninsula tonight.
BLITZER: It's an incredibly tense situation on the Korean Peninsula right now.
Brian Todd, thank you very much.
There's other breaking news we're following. Jurors are now deadlocked in a high profile police shooting case. Will the trial of former officer Michael Slager end in a mistrial?
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Cannot convict. One juror throws a murder trial into chaos. In the case of a former South Carolina police officer who shot an African-American man --