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U.S. Official: DNC Hacking Tools Point to Russia; Obama: "We Need to Take Action" Against Russia; Langley: Trump Thinks Russia Hack Used to Deligitimize Election; Trump to Be Deposed in Lawsuit Against Celebrity Chef; Van Jones Talks to Trump Voters in OH; Aleppo Evacuations Begin. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 15, 2016 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:00:34] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. The breaking news topping the hour, President Obama's call for action against Russia over its interference in the election, that in a late new evidence pointing directly at the Kremlin. Also, Donald Trump's reported reaction everything from concerns a zero interest except to the extent that it detracts from his victory.

First, President Obama. Here's a portion of what he said to National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's President Obama talking to NPR. As we mentioned, we are learning more tonight about the evidence he may be basing his decisions on. Jim Sciutto joins us now once again.

So, what are his options?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has an escalating ladder of options. It really starts with naming and shaming Russia in private and then in public. And we know that's already happened. Obama confronted Putin in China, this is last summer. Then in October, a month before the election, you had the director of national intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security come out in public and say, this is the belief of the U.S. Intelligence Community with high confidence. Then you have other more punitive options, one being economic sanctions.

That's the tactic that the Obama administration clearly likes. They used it against Russia for its military action in Ukraine. Of course, they used it against Iran for a number of years. And you could then escalate above that with real retaliatory cyberaction, everything from similar to what Russia did, right, exposing embarrassing information, perhaps the finances of Vladimir Putin or people close to him or something even more aggressive, which would be going after critical infrastructure in Russia or showing Russia that you can go after critical infrastructure.

Trouble with that, Obama administration has expressed this in the past. We know, I've had intelligence officials tell me that there is concern that Russia has breached or has access to our critical infrastructure. If you take that step against Russia, what does Russia do in response? Do you get into a vicious cycle? Each of these options, in effect, has risks.

COOPER: And you have new reporting tonight that the hacking activity by Russia is continuing?

SCIUTTO: No question. In fact, it's continued and the way it's been described to us, it's continued unabated since the election, attacking a number of political organizations, parties, individuals. Apparently, there was an unsuccessful attempt to hack the DNC, the Democratic Party, once again. That one, at least, failed.

But the view from the Intelligence Community is that they somewhat expected this, and that is because, from Russia's perspective, whether they just wanted to disrupt the U.S. election or perhaps help one candidate, Donald Trump included, whatever their intentions, they would look at it, it's a view of the USIC, as a success. So they would keep doing it. And they didn't just have success here in the U.S. by that argument, they've had it in Western Europe, they've had it in Eastern Europe. This is a known tactic of Russia and the U.S. expects them to continue down this path.

COOPER: All right, Jim, thanks very much. Jim Sciutto.

More on how Donald Trump may see all of this. CNN's Jim Acosta has that side of the story. He joins us from Trump Tower.

Has Donald Trump responded to the Russian hacking news?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He really hasn't, Anderson. He was at that rally tonight in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He didn't mention the Russian hacking. He did go after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest during his remarks. He said that Josh Earnest is somebody who can make good news sound bad. He said that if the U.S. were to somehow take out ISIS and Josh Earnest was delivering that news, that he wouldn't do a very effective job of doing it. And so it was a shot from the President-elect to the White House Press Secretary for the current president.

Now, we should explain that earlier in the day, Josh Earnest, at the podium in the White House briefing went after Donald Trump and said, this is not the time to be going after the Intelligence Community. Obviously, earlier today, Donald Trump put out that tweet, saying, why didn't the White House release this information back during the election, before the election happened instead of talking about it now implying that it's all sour grapes on the part of the White House.

But, make no mistake, I mean, this is a new development, Anderson, that is taking place between the President-elect and the President. And at one point during those remarks in Hershey, Pennsylvania, earlier this evening, he implied, Trump implied that perhaps Earnest was getting his marching orders from somebody else in the White House. He didn't say President Obama, but sort of hinted at it.

[21:05:01] COOPER: Just to be clear and to the point you made before, I mean, the current administration did announce its findings one month before the election, right?

ACOSTA: That's right. Back in October, the Intelligence Community put out its findings to the White House. The White House released that information. And it basically said that this hacking was likely authorized or the conclusion was that the hacking the was authorized by senior-most officials in the Russian government. Josh Earnest was asked about this earlier today, because there was a report that Putin knew about all of this, had a hand in all of this. And Josh Earnest said, well, didn't you guys see this report that we put out? This statement we put out back in October? Josh Earnest telling reporters in the White House briefing room that he didn't think that characterization that senior-most officials must have known about this was, in his words, particularly subtle.

And so the White House was really leaning into this very stout defense of the Intelligence Community's assessment that Russia was behind this hack. And it is setting up this very new development, Anderson, and I think we're going to have to keep an eye on it over the next several weeks as we get ready to see President-elect Trump sworn into office. We might see more of a tit for tat shot going back and forth between the current White House and the White House that's coming in January. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah. Jim Acosta, appreciate the reporting tonight.

Back with the panel, including CNN military analyst Mark Hertling and Monica Langley, who has some Trump reporting on her own tonight.

Monica, first of all, you were at Trump Tower talking to your sources about Donald Trump and his reception of the Russian hack, how much attention he's paying to it?

MONICA LANGLEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, someone within the Trump Organization, the Trump transition, excuse me, believe that he is concerned about it. There are others who were close to him that I spoke with who say he has zero interest in it. And this person I spoke with says that the Democrats are still trying to point to the fact that the Russians are trying to help Trump, that that's hurting their own argument. If they just said they were interfering with the election, then maybe Trump wouldn't come out so hard against this. But the fact is, Trump is upset that all they're doing is using it for political purposes.

COOPER: He believes it's delegitimatizing his --

LANGLEY: Correct. And this senior -- exactly. And this senior adviser said to me, look, he has zero interest in this. All his time is picking the personnel for the new administration and focused on getting good-paying American jobs. And he said, we're not focused on it at all.

COOPER: So, General Hertling, you now have President Obama saying tonight, to NPR, you know, we're going to respond at a time and place of our choosing. You know, Jim talked about kind of a ladder of possible responses, but what are capabilities just in general? I mean, I know Iran's nuclear program was slowing down through, I think it was a cybervirus that was put out by somebody. I'm not sure if it was the U.S. or some other state players? I mean, how vulnerable is the U.S. electrical grid? What could actually be done to Russia or to the United States? I mean, h how bad can it get?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Let's break it down into a couple areas, Anderson. First of all, Russia is executing a cyber campaign. That means they're associating various battles to do a strategic objective. They are doing that. We are not right now.

There are two various elements of the cyber community. There's computer network defense and computer network attack, CND, CNA. It is either defending our own assets or going after someone else's. There are a variety of things that we can do, and as Jim said earlier, it can do a stair-step approach. Anything from implanting spyware to effecting the trust in another government, to attacking infrastructure or totally shutting down things.

And I think what the President said tonight was he was giving fair warning. He's had the conversation with Mr. Putin, it has been reported multiple times. And Mr. Putin has continued to execute this campaign. Not individual terrorist strikes, but a campaign of cyber war as part of an asymmetric attack against the United States and other western powers. And he's been doing it for years. When I was in Europe, he was doing it to sever nations in Europe.

So, we are in a position right now where we not only have to defend our own infrastructure, which is very challenging to do when you're talking about the size of the country, but there is the potential for computer network attack, although very few people will admit that. And they may go all the way from a small warning, all the way up to infrastructure shutdown, and the key to all of this is never knowing who executed it and where it's coming from.

COOPER: Let's just listen a little bit more to what President Obama said to NPR on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing.

[21:10:03] Some of it may be explicit and publicized. Some of it may not be. But Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's interesting, Van. I mean, the President is talking as if he has another term. I mean, he's got a little bit more than a month left in office. So he can't really say for sure whether there would be a response under a President Trump.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well, we have one president at a time, which I think we've somehow forgotten. And, you know, the president of the United States for a month, you can do a lot in a month.

COOPER: Well, "time and place of our choosing," time is short.

JONES: Fair enough. Fair enough. He has more time to be president than me or you. And so, I think he can use that time very well. But sometimes I think we get lost in all of the -- you know, Trump said a mean thing about Josh Earnest. He shouldn't say mean things. Well, he should say mean things.

I think there's something bigger happening here. There is a dictatorship on the European continent. And it is hostile. And it has nuclear weapons. And it is trying to encroach upon the European democracies. And America for generations thought that was a bad enough thing that we created something called NATO to try to hold back this hungry dictatorship. And what has happened is, they know they can't beat us straight up, so they're now using dirty tricks, cybertricks to undermine our country and our commitment to our allies. That's the big story here.

And what is shocking is we now have an American president that doesn't seem to -- he didn't get the memo that we're supposed to be protecting our democratic allies against a dictatorship. And I haven't heard him say that and it's frightening to me and our European allies.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is interesting, though, to hear it from Democrats, though, because with President Obama, I know as a Republican, one of the frustrating things was he never seemed to grasp that Russia is our enemy, as you were saying. You know, he came into office, trying to be friendly with them. He underestimated them every step of the way under the tutelage of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we had, you know, half of U.S. uranium going over to Russia. And he seemed to underestimate them at every step. But where was the Democratic outrage then at President Obama?

JONES: Can I speak to that as well?

MCENANY: Sure.

JONES: There was a time where the bigger threat, I think, was from Iran and the concern that Iran was going to get nuclear weapons. And so Hillary Clinton in her brilliance was able to pull together both the Chinese, not our friends every day, and the Russians, not our friends any day, in an alliance to deal with Iran. You have to pick. You have to have sequences.

But at no point do I believe that we said, well, geez, we're going to now say that you can attack our country, you can hack our infrastructure, you can mess with our elections, and that's OK, too. And that's a concern I think we have here. PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah, I think it's a fair criticism that the President hasn't been tough enough on Putin, I do. You do have to remember, Putin has always been in charge, but when Medvedev was his puppet, there was some progress with the U.S., there was. We got those sanctions which crippled Iran and forced them to the bargaining table. We got a very good nuclear reductions, weapons reduction treat, the START Treaty.

So we got some few things done. But I think it's a fair point. The question is, do you answer perceived timidity by Obama with rushing into Putin's arms by Trump? I mean, he's not simply hesitant to use American power against Putin, he seems to embrace Putin. And I think that's a terrible threat.

Mike Morrell, who ran the CIA, said that this is an existential threat to our democracy. This is a political 9/11. He's not a political hack. He's a career national security intelligence officer. That's what he is saying. And so I think it will start with the president for the next 34 days, but then President-elect Trump, who has put together, by the way, the most pro-Putin Cabinet outside of Moscow. It's really frightening.

ALICE STEWART, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think the tit for tat that Van talked about between Trump and Josh Earnest I think that is pales in comparison to the developments we've had this afternoon and this evening with the President's interview.

I think him saying that he is looking at taking action, some will be explicit and publicized, some will not, I think that says a lot. It follows up with your previous guest saying walk softly and carry a big stick. Sometimes you don't say anything and still carry a big stick. So it lead you to believe something may possibly be in the works to retaliate. And I think it's good that we're being cautious, we're being silent about it. But -- it goes into also it might be non- contact, but it does not mean it's non-conflict. So I think this may be bubbling up in the next 30 days. And we'll see.

COOPER: Yeah.

LANGLEY: One thing that I know about Donald Trump is, remember during the campaign how we saw that he gave good hugs to Ted Cruz or to Carson, but when it came time to get them off the stage and to win, he had no qualms about hitting back. So I'm not sure everybody can say, oh, he's hugging Putin. He may -- if it comes to it, he may just decide to cut him off at the knees. I don't know that but I have seen him many of times --

BEGALA: What would cause that, though? What would cause it? Cyberterrorism gets to America? Gee, that just happened.

[21:15:00] LANGLEY: Yeah. I know. I know. I don't know -- yeah, Paul. I don't know that, but I do know -- I've seen him make these decisions where he's like, enough already, I've had it.

COOPER: Right,

LANGLEY: I don't know when that it, he's not the president (inaudible).

COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel. I want to thank General Hertling for sticking around late for us. Everyone else going to stick around even later. We're going to take up the question of President-elect Trump's grown kids. New reporting from Monica on their role in the transition and what happens after inauguration day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:18:17] COOPER: As important as it is to know who committed an act of cyberwarfare against the United States and how the incoming president views it, there are other outstanding questions, including the role of Donald Trump's children will or will not play in the transition and the administration.

Back with the panel, including Monica Langley, who's got some new reporting from out of Trump Tower. Monica's with "The Wall Street Journal", also working here now with CNN.

So, really interesting things you've learned today about how that you've grown men, Donald Jr., and Eric Trump, what role they're going to have and the role they have now.

LANGLEY: Right. Well, we know Donald Trump said in a tweet that his two sons will run the business, which is the billion-dollar something empire --

COOPER: Right.

LANGLEY: -- of real estate assets. So the problem has been, they continue to influence Cabinet choices --

COOPER: Right.

LANGLEY: -- specifically, Don Jr. and the new Interior secretary, who's a fellow hunter, like Don Jr. And they were all three kids, grown kids, were in the meeting with the tech executives yesterday.

COOPER: Not just in the meeting, but sitting at the table.

LANGLEY: Correct.

COOPER: Not just like in the back row watching like --

LANGLEY: Yeah. But we know that these three adult children are some of his closest advisers. They have a really strong relationship. So, what I found out is, they understand the moment their father takes office, they can no longer be in any governmental meetings. Cold turkey.

COOPER: What I -- I don't understand, what is the magic line about once their father is in office? Because decisions are being made that are going to, you know, impact what happens afterwards.

LANGLEY: Well, they were so integral to the campaign, as you know, they were his main surrogates because he had nobody in the establishment or in the Republican Party really backing him.

[21:20:00] COOPER: Right.

LANGLEY: They were the ones who were on the campaign trail telling people how great their father was. They were his character witness. And so they are so involved in this and they are involved in the transition. But they do understand that there's got to be a clean line. Maybe it is a magic funny date, but that is the date.

COOPER: You've also learned Donald Trump is not going to be -- there's not going to be a blind trust. Donald Trump is not going to be --

LANGLEY: I don't know, there may be some kind of trust, but the fact is --

COOPER: Right, but a true blind trust where the assets are --

(CROSSTALK)

LANGLEY: These assets will be known.

COOPER: Right.

LANGLEY: The assets will remain --

COOPER: Donald Trump remains the ownership.

LANGLEY: He remains the owner and -- but maybe not -- he will no longer manage those assets.

COOPER: Right.

LANGLEY: He will still be the owner of those assets and he knows what those assets are, those are the hotels, the apartment buildings, the commercial real estate. What's going to happen, though, is they will not divest him. A lot of people said, liquidate the assets, that's the only way you can do it.

And what they've decided right now, it could still change, hence the kids will do a press conference today. What they've decided is, well, at first, if they sell them, it will be a fire sale. How can we put these, you know, hundreds of million dollar properties on the market? It would be a fire sale. We would lose tons of money. Now they're thinking these assets could bring lots of money. Foreign entities, southern wealth funds would want to buy and pay lots of money to try to get curry favor with the Trump administration.

So as one senior person involved in the Trump Organization told me, we can't win at this point if we try to liquidate.

COOPER: There would also be big tax deductions, I think, for him, if he did sell because of -- if you're selling in order to be in government, which is what Hank Paulson did years ago. But you also have new reporting on Ivanka Trump? LANGLEY: Right, well, yesterday there were some people who thought it might be -- because Ivanka Trump does want to be involved in Washington with her father, as will her husband, Jared Kushner, who became one of his closest advisers and he's likely to take a formal role. Ivanka wants to have an informal role in the White House. So there was some talk yesterday that she would maybe take the first lady's office in the East Wing.

As that became more official, perhaps, or more discussed, she didn't like that at all. First of all, she doesn't perceive herself and is not at all, a social-type person. She's a very substantive person. She wants to advise on substantiate issues like paid family leave, climate change, et cetera. So she wants to be in the West Wing, where the action is, not the East Wing. So that's the first thing. She wants to be there, but what she and her husband Jared Kushner are working at right now is a full and complete separation. Their lawyers are --

COOPER: Business separation --

LANGLEY: Of their businesses. Jared Kushner runs a multibillion- dollar real estate business himself.

COOPER: Right, family business.

LANGLEY: Family business. And she has not only a top role in the Trump Organization, the real estate empire, but she also has her own fashion apparel --

COOPER: Right, she has licensing deals all --

LANGLEY: Correct. Of, you know, fashion, accessories, shoes, et cetera. So they are working hard right now and she believes, unlike her father, who says, I could run the country and my business, because there's no law, conflicts of interest laws for the president, she believes there would be for her.

COOPER: Van Jones, from your perspective, is that enough? I mean, the adult men are going to be running the company and are not going to go to any meetings once he's president?

JONES: You have two kinds of problems. One is a perception problem and the other is an actual problem. The perception problem is starting to bake in. If you are in the room, setting up all your friends to be in positions, if you're advising them or whatever, you're kind of setting the game up and then you leave, that's not the same as saying, you know what, dad, you got this, we're going to stay out of it because we don't want you to look bad. It seems that they -- that perception is not something that they are managing or feel like they have to manage. It's a choice. You can say, listen, we want to, I don't know, drain the swamp for instance. We want to make sure that there's not even a perception, that there's any kind of cronyism going on because the American people's confidence in D.C. is so low, we don't want to act to it.

He's not taking that tact. What we don't know -- so there is a perception problem growing. What we don't know, is there an actual problem? Does this actually matter in the actual functioning of government? That we don't know. But we do know the optics are looking worse and worse.

COOPER: You could also make the argument, Kayleigh, as a Trump supporter, that Trump got voted into office with people knowing these issues, knowing the murkiness of the organization, knowing the kids were involved in it, knowing that they were advisers, and yet they voted for him anyway and maybe they don't care.

MCENANY: Undoubtedly. And I think that's the strongest argument the President-elect can make. He gave no pretense in the campaign that he would be separating his kids from his -- from having any sort of advisory role. He didn't make any sort of promise to the American people on this front. And I think that is his strongest argument. And I think we have to give him time on this. And it's very encouraging to hear Monica's reporting that the sons will have no role whatsoever. That is a very good place to start. That the fact that Jared coming in and Ivanka coming in means no business at all, putting it in a blind trust, perhaps, that's very encouraging.

He's trying to do everything right. And it's almost impossible, by the way, Van, to manage perception when you've got a $10 billion brand. It's something no president has ever had to deal with before and it's a tough one --

[21:25:07] COOPER: Paul?

MCENANY: -- but he's taking every right step.

BEGALA: The problem's not the kids, it's the conflict for me, for me. I think it's great that he's got these (ph) kids. In fact, these conflicts are setting up these kids to get an enormous amount of trouble. They can become collateral damage in political and legal attacks on Donald Trump. And that ought not happen. It's a very clear path that he must take. He must sell everything, put it in a blind trust, truly blind and then that trust -- or must put it into treasury bills. You can easily avoid the problem they raised with you, Monica, quite easily, by doing what we do with eminent domain. We come in, somebody figures out what the fair market value is, that's what you get.

But Trump is a smart enough businessman himself, by the way, he's going to know if some sovereign wealth fund is trying to bribe him by --

COOPER: You're saying must do this. Not legally --

BEGALA: Not legally. He's going to be my president, too.

COOPER: But also you're saying, if he wants to be free and clear of the morass that could, you know, that could derail him --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: There's a guy named David Brock, who could not write a better playbook for Donald Trump than what Donald Trump is doing right now. Because David Brock is a tough Democratic Party operative and he's just laying it out --

COOPER: At Media Matters.

JONES: At Media Matters. There will be lawsuit after lawsuit, investigation after investigation, because of all this stuff that's creates a target-rich environment around the first family and that's irresponsible --

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break.

Just ahead, weeks before Donald Trump takes the oath of office, he's going to give testimony in a sworn deposition. The lawsuit is one of dozens Trump is involved in, including two he's filed against celebrity chefs. More on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:07] COOPER: These are obviously busy days for Donald Trump and his transition team, just 36 days until the inauguration between now and then, Trump's schedule includes a deposition in the $10 million breach of contract lawsuit he filed against chef Jose Andres. And it's expected to take place the first week of January, and it's not the only lawsuit that will be making demands on his time. Joe Johns tonight has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The latest dustup started when the famous chef, Jose Andres, who's from Spain, decided to pull the plug on a restaurant he was planning for Trump's new D.C. hotel after Trump slammed Mexicans in his campaign kickoff speech.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: They're bringing drugs, they're bricking crime, they're rapists.

JOHNS: The chef's lawyer said Trump's comments made it difficult to hire Hispanic employees to work in what had been planned as a Spanish restaurant. The conflict between the two picked up speed on the campaign trail when Andres stumped for Hillary Clinton.

JOSE ANDRES, CHEF: We are not supposed to mention him until he doesn't apologize to every Latino, to every Mexican, to every woman, to every veteran, and to any person that he has insulted.

JOHNS: His remarks coming the very same day that Donald Trump was in Washington, D.C., opening his new hotel.

TRUMP: I'm also honored to have a chance to thank the incredible team of people who brought our vision for Washington's historic old post office to life.

JOHNS: Trump was deposed in June in a similar lawsuit with Andres's business partner, restaurateur, Geoffrey Zakarian.

TRUMP: We got a lot of bad publicity because of the way they handled it. I think we were hurt by the way they did it.

JOHNS: Trump's lawyers tried unsuccessfully to limit questioning of Trump in this deposition to two hours, arguing in court filings that, "He's the President-elect. It is not an overstatement that he is extremely busy handling matters of very significant public importance." But Judge Jennifer Di Toro ruled that a limit on Trump's deposition could be unfair to the chef's legal team, as it prepares for trial.

Andres, for his part, has suggested that he would like to settle the fight out of court, tweeting this week, "Mr.@realDonaldTrump, can we end our lawsuits and we donate money to a Veterans NGO to celebrate? Why keep litigating. Let's both of us win."

TRUMP: I don't want to settle cases when we're right. I'd don't believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you.

JOHNS: Besides the Andres case, there are dozens of others pending lawsuits against Trump, from one involving a Republican consultant who claims tweets from Trump calling her a real dummy ruined her reputation. To one from protesters claiming a security team assaulted at Trump Tower last year. But the most discussed, Trump University.

TRUMP: The school had 98 percent approval rating, but you had an attorney that felt, oh, maybe I can sue Trump and get something.

JOHNS: Last month, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits out of court against his now-defunct real estate training program.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A lot to talk about tonight with our favorite legal scholar, CNN senior legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, how significant is this? A president-elect now required to go through what could be an hours-long deposition and a sworn deposition.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's going to happen and it's going to happen often during the Trump presidency. You know, he has multiple lawsuits pending against him. And the Supreme Court said in 1997 in the famous case of Clinton v. Jones, just because you're president you can't get out of testifying in a case where you're one of the parties. He's a party. He's going to be testifying a lot over the next four years.

COOPER: So a president doesn't have any special dispensation or, I mean, he gets treated the same as everybody else?

TOOBIN: Not exactly the same. I mean, certainly, judges are expected to accommodate, you know, how long the depositions are, where they take place. You know, reasonable limits on time. All of that, you know, it makes him different from an ordinary party to a case. But, bottom line, he will have to testify in these cases if he doesn't settle.

COOPER: And in terms of what lawyers can ask him during a deposition, how wide a berth do they have?

TOOBIN: You know, the rule usually is very broad. I mean, here in this case, I mean, it involves these restaurateurs' claims that Trump's statements about immigrants make it impossible for them to hire Hispanics, who are, of course, very important in the restaurant industry.

So, I would imagine very broad range of questions about his attitudes towards immigration, towards Hispanics, and the judge has allowed seven hours of time for this sort -- for this deposition. That's a long time. I wouldn't be surprised if that got shortened at least a little.

[21:35:04] COOPER: You mentioned the possibility of a settlement. You know, Donald Trump has often said he doesn't settle, he doesn't like settle, because if he do, then it sort of sends a message that you'll do it again. But the truth is, he's settled many times, including recently, obviously, in the Trump University case. He brought this case against the chef. Do you think he'll take up the chef's offer to settle?

TOOBIN: You know, it certainly seems like it would be a smart decision for him to settle. I don't know what advantage he gets out of pursuing this. But remember, I mean, you know, one thing we know about Donald Trump is he can get very angry and he can be fixated on revenge. He's not, as you point out, the defendant in this case. He's the plaintiff. So he's angry, he wants vindication. So, I could see him driving a hard bargain here even though it makes all the sense in the world to settle.

COOPER: And is the deposition automatically sealed, or is that just up to the judge?

TOOBIN: That's up to the judge. It varies by case. Whether -- I mean, there can be a number of issues to be resolved. You know, is it videotape? If it's videotape, is the transcript public or the video to? All of that will wind up in front of the judge, and obviously those of us in the press were going to want to see as much as of it as we can.

COOPER: Yeah. Jeff Toobin. Jeff, thanks.

TOOBIN: OK.

COOPER: Just ahead, Van Jones takes us inside to a deep blue corner of Ohio that turned deep red this year. Hear what Trump voters told him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight we return to the industrial heartland to hear from voters who helped push Donald Trump across the finish line. Van Jones has been out in the field talking and listening to Trump voters, including longtime Democrats who crossed party lines in this election. One of his stops, a corner of Ohio, that until election day last month had been reliably blue. Here's what he found.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: For the first election in more than 40 years, Trumbull County, Ohio, has turned Republican red. Union Democrats ruled this blue collar hub of millions and manufacturing wealth, they did, until Donald Trump ran for president. So, how did it happen? How did Hillary Clinton, my candidate, lose these people? There's only one way to find out.

Oh, Lord.

First stop is the mocha house, where local political rivals often hash out their disagreements over breakfast.

[21:40:03] Hey, hey, how are you?

MARCY ANGELO, OHIO TRUMP VOTER: Hi. Good. How are you?

JONES: Thank you. My name is Van.

ANGELO: I'm Marcy.

LAURENCIA CANZONETTA, OHIO TRUMP VOTER: I'm Laurencia.

JONES: Hi. Good to meet you.

ANGELO: Nice to meet you.

JONES: It's where I meet up with two young Trump voters, Laurencia Canzonetta is the president of her college conservatives group, Marcy Angelo does outreach work for children's charity.

So you're both young women. There was a lot of controversy about that tape that came out, a lot of controversy about things that he said. That didn't impact you guys?

ANGELO: No.

CANZONETTA: No.

ANGELO: I guess for me, it's easy to portray that you're this perfect person and you've never had sex or sent a nude picture or said the p- word before, but more people than people think do those things on a daily basis. And for me, I look at it like a lot of those things wouldn't have come out if he wasn't running for president. And that's how I feel.

JONES: I said that a part of what was going on with the Trump phenomenon, it was a whitelash, that there was -- there's an element of the Trump phenomenon, not the whole thing, there's an element of it that that seems to be very animated by racial resentments against Mexicans, against Muslims, against black people, et cetera. Have you seen any of that?

CANZONETTA: I can't say I personally have. I think it just boiled down to, we've had a failed presidency for the last eight years. And, yes, some things good came out of it. But at the end of the day, you know, jobs were taken away, manufacturing was gutted. And I think, especially in county, you see that these people lose jobs, and I think a lot of people, you know, looked at that, and, you know, felt that emotion and Trump happened to speak about it. And that's where they connected at. That's personally.

JONES: Job loss, especially manufacturing jobs, is definitely an emotional topic in Trumbull.

RANDY LAW, GOP CHAIRMAN, TRUMBULL COUNTY: A large number of folks here feel very disenfranchised from both parties, frankly.

JONES: Randy Law is the GOP chairman in Trumbull County.

LAW: This is RG Steel. The former RG Steel plant.

JONES: But it's just a big vacant lot?

LAW: Yes, they raised this about between a year and 18 months ago.

JONES: It must have been heartbreaking to see?

LAW: It has been.

JONES: He shows me mills or factories that have shut down or scaled way back in just the last few years.

LAW: This is a hundred-plus-year-old motor company. And they've shut down in the last six months or so.

This is Delphi Electric. They used to employ 18,000 people in our community. They will be lucky to have 600 and we're going to have to fight to hold on to those jobs.

And this GE Plant, well over a hundred years.

JONES: Now gone?

LAW: Six months ago.

JONES: So what you're saying is that while the Democrats were running ads showing Donald Trump saying offensive things to women, arguably offensive things about women, people are looking out their window and they're seeing factories shut down in the middle of the campaign season?

LAW: Oh, yeah.

This is Copperweld Steel. This was just a vital facility to us here for years employing tens of thousands of people. I believe they poured steel here last about 18 months ago. They are in the process of gutting this plant out and tearing some of it down. JONES: Do you feel like people here feel abandoned?

LAW: Yes. I think that was a big factor in this entire election. People feel disenfranchised, abandoned, a little bit of everything. And it's a lot of disaffected Democrats who came into the primary headquarters and said, we're switching over.

This is the first guy I've ever heard that speaks what I'm thinking. At the end of the day, it's economics, it's jobs, it's trade. We voted big for hope and change with President Obama. It didn't get delivered here. And people we're willing to look for that other change. Give another guy a chance. And I think a lot of votes were driven that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, I think these reports are so important and just so valuable, just to listen to people and not, you know, demonize people, not make them into caricatures, just listen to them. And I mean, there was such a play by the Clinton campaign to make it about character, to make it about Donald Trump's character, the idea being, some of the things he said were going to be so abhorrent to people, that's going to overwhelm everything.

JONES: You know, people in the liberal blue bubbles were fanning themselves and fainting over everything they said. But, you know, other people, you know, they've heard tough speech before. You know, it's interesting, manufacturing jobs have actually gone up under Obama. He had the big auto bailout, et cetera. That didn't translate, though, to the people who were in these patchworks of counties, where the devastation was still happening.

[21:45:00] And there was not a strong response that they heard from the Democrats. What they heard was Trump somehow had a radar for their pain showed up, he went to that county, Trumbull County, and they changed the sign to say Trumpbull County. Blue union Democrats, Trumpbull County, and nobody in the Democratic Party got that or responded.

COOPER: And I mean, you've talked about this before. It's very easy to demonize and say, well, you know, racial, you know, dog whistles and things. And while, as you said, there was certainly an element of that for the people that you met, I mean, it was about --

JONES: They didn't like that stuff. But they didn't like it -- but they didn't hate it enough to vote against for jobs.

COOPER: Van Jones, thanks so much. Great reporting.

Just ahead, some rare welcome news for the people of Aleppo, Syria. Evacuations begin with a cease-fire in effect. I'll talk with a Syrian activist who's been in and out of the country with much-needed supplies. An activist who we've had on this program for years, who's risked his own life for years to speak the truth about what's happening in Syria.

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COOPER: A new cease-fire seems to be holding in Syria and that is giving civilians a badly needed way out. A long line of ambulances and buses moved about 3,000 people out of Aleppo today. Those still trapped in parts of the devastated city, begging the world to help them. Begging the Syrian government to stop the civil war, stop the bloodshed.

Joining me again tonight, Syrian activist, Zaidoun al-Zoabi he's been in Syria and out of Syria helping with medical supplies. He's also been on this program dozens of times over the years, risking his life repeatedly to talk about what's happening in Syria.

Zaidoun, you have been in and out of Aleppo, you're in contact with a lot of people there. Just, overall, when you see what has happened to Aleppo, when you see what the city has become, what has happened to the people there, when you see the people evacuating, what do you think?

ZAIDOUN AL-ZOABI, SYRIAN ACTIVIST: Yes, the city is destroyed, such as our dreams, hopes. But what matters right now is that people are alive, nothing like today. We are all happy. We could see these people again. We thought we have lost them. Thank God we have them.

[21:50:13] I know everyone is expecting me to be now devastated, but what matters to me right now, Anderson, is that these people are alive now. If you just see their faces, horrified, like coming out of grave, but this is just like people being reborn and face death, and now they are alive.

COOPER: And in terms of these evacuations, I mean, they are -- there's a lot of people, I mean, there are tens of thousands of people. This seems like it's going to take a long time.

AL-ZOABI: This is ninth time. And now we've got them. Finally. However, tens of thousands are still left inside. And we are getting some information that we have only tonight and tomorrow. This is impossible. We need some more time. We need four or five days before we evacuate them all or they will lose their lives again. So we hope we can evacuate all of these people. These people have nothing to do with this war. They are just civilians, children, and women. They just need to be rescued. They deserve to live. They are -- they made no mistake. They don't have anything to do with this war. They just want to live. Civilians, for God's sake, children

I saw the first child to be evacuated, Anderson. I looked at his face. I mean, he was just like coming out of grave. He was almost dead. He was so horrified, so scared, angry. What can I say? It's too much.

COOPER: For those who are still there, I mean, what is the greatest challenge facing them right now? Obviously, supplies are low, food is scarce, it's difficult to come by, and there's no telling how long, exactly, this will take. I mean, as we said, there are thousands of people, and they can't -- I mean, they can't just do this in a day or two, as you said. AL-ZOABI: Again, I repeat, now this is ninth time we've prepared for evacuation. And now no one was able to think, is it true this time happening or not or whether we were all, I mean, ready to that -- for that. We need every support from everyone in this world. This is a huge, huge disaster. No one can imagine what they're facing. We don't have the capacity to face such a disaster. No one has this capacity. We need every help from everybody, from every organization, from every individual.

COOPER: Zaidoun, I appreciate you talking to us. Thank you very much.

AL-ZOABI: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, I'm going to make you smile. We'll be right back.

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[21:56:43] COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList". It is, as they say, the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be stressful around the holidays, all the running around and shopping can make people do things they might otherwise not.

One example, in Maryland, the sheriff's office in St. Mary's County recently got a call about property destruction at the store. I think we have a photo of the suspect. And of course it is a beaver. What else could it possibly be?

So a beaver got into the store somehow and he checked out the Christmas trees for a while but let's be real, what's a beaver going to do with an artificial Christmas tree? He didn't see anything he like there so he got busy checking out the Christmas themed placemats. There's a little pause on them right there.

Now, see, there's a pretty sweet-looking puppy Santa on the shelf above that but the beaver cannot reach that shelf which may be why he started trashing the place. He was probably whipping his tail up there to try to knock the damn Santa down. He's a beaver so he wants a damn Santa. Thank you very much.

Wait for it. I got it. I apologize. I kept saying he but I have no idea it could be a she beaver. I don't know how to tell the difference -- I'm sorry. A joke in there somewhere. I don't know what it is. Yeah. No one accused me of being an expert on that animal.

What I do know is that it's a magical time of the year. There's just joy in the air. It's the only time of the year that the abominable Snow Monster -- actually -- is it the Snow Monster or snowman? Anyway, the abominable Snow Monster starts walking his poodle. This is a time honored holiday tradition in Wisconsin. (Inaudible) we know of and I like to think it continues. The Snow Monster and the poodle spread cheer to all who encounter them.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring joy, happiness, love all, care about all beyond holidays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. OK. That is terrifying. Was that person trying to be terrifying or was that -- was there some problem with the costume? Some people are just more into Christmas than others. This is one of many yuletide lessons that we've learned from "Saturday Night Live".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Santa coming soon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell you what, bud. I'm going to go up there in a couple of minutes and see if he's ready to come down and talk to the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's upstairs? He's here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what you think is going on here tonight, but you're not going to meet the real Santa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't do that, David. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to meet Rudolph.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudolph isn't here, Gina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then how the [ bleep ] did Santa get here, David?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just relax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It can all be a little overwhelming. But when Christmas starts, it seem like a contest. You could always do what these people in Pennsylvania did knowing they could not compete with their neighbor's display. They just -- they threw up a "Ditto." Nicely done people, nicely done.

So to all creatures, great and small, to each poodle and Snow Monster and beaver, we eagerly wish you the happiest of holidays on "The RidicuList".

That does it for us. Thanks for watching.

[21:59:59] CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.