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Warning from President Obama; Trump's Thank You Tour; Russia Intervenes in U.S. Elections; No More Hope Left. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 16, 2016 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: That does it for us. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news, a warning from President Obama and a thank you from the president-elect.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Trump telling those at his thank you rally in Florida that they stood up to global special interests.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: With your votes, the great citizens of this country declared to the world that from now on it's going to be America first. America first.



LEMON: Meanwhile, President Obama for the first time publicly blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia's hacking of the election.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin. This happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.


LEMON: The president also saying he privately warned Putin to stop the hacking or there would be serious consequences.

There's a whole lot to get to in this hour. I want to begin with senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta who is in Orlando with the president-elect, White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski, and CNN political analyst David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents. Also with us political commentator, Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the New Yorker.

Good evening to all of you. Jim, I'm going to start with you. While everyone is talking about the Russian hacking, Donald Trump is talking to supporters in Florida tonight. Did he mention Russia? JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He did not,

Don, perhaps it's a return to the holiday spirit, the spirit of the season. There was this back-and-forth that was going on over the last 24 hours between Donald Trump and Josh Earnest and then Kellyanne Conway jumped into the fray earlier today.

But at that press conference you heard President Obama decline to really go after Donald Trump, he just merely suggested that the president-elect get on board with this probe into Russian hacking, but at this rally here in Orlando one of these thank you tour rallies Donald Trump did not continue the fight.

He did not keep this fight going but he did take issue with the policy towards Syria, he offered a different proposal, one he's been talking about over the last couple of days, for establishing safe zones in Syria. It sounds very familiar, it's a little bit like his proposal on the wall on the U.S./Mexico border. Here's more what he had to say.


TRUMP: We're going to build safe zones. We're not going to have them come over. We're going to going to build safe zones in Syria. We're going to build safe zones and we're going to get the Gulf States to pay for these safe zones and we're going to try and help people.


SCIUTTO: Now before -- now, Don, people think it's totally kumbaya at these thank you tour rallies, there were chants of 'lock her up' and other things here with the crowd in Orlando and at one point Donald Trump tried to suggest his crowd start toning it down.

He said, you know, during the election during the primaries, he said, you were vicious, you were violence. He even used the word violent but he said, he basically said it's now time for his supporters to calm down and basically get with the spirit of unity that he was talking about at this rally tonight.

LEMON: Interesting. Michelle, at his final press conference the president talked at length about the Russian cyber-attack and who he says directed it. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin. This is a pretty hierarchical operation. Last I checked there's not a lot of debate and democratic deliberation, particularly when it comes to policies directed at the United States.


LEMON: What else did he say about it, Michelle?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he got what he wanted to go through everything. I mean, this is really his chance to take his time. This press conference lasted an hour and a half and it was mostly on Russia.

And he wanted to give the explanations that he wanted to get out there, I mean, he went through the fact that when the U.S. does respond proportionally to this act that Russia will get the message.

That more detail will come out in this full report, this full review that he has ordered and the report will be ready of course, before the inauguration. And some of this will be made public, maybe not everything but he made it clear that there would be action taken and that Russia would get that message.

But he also wanted to defend how his administration handled this, explain the reasoning behind it, defend the FBI and when they named and shamed Russia, also how they conducted their investigation.

But I thought it was particularly interesting when at one point the president was asked, well, can you assure the American public that this was a fair and free election. And really the best that he could do, the most that he could assure was that the voting process was not tampered with, Don.

LEMON: Interesting as well. David, the president defended the intelligence agency's finding and warned that hyper partisanship is poisoning our politics. Listen to this.


[22:05:01] OBAMA: Over a third of republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.

And how did that happen? It happened in part because for too long everything that happens in this town, everything that's said is seen through the lens of does this help or hurt us relative to democrats or relative to President Obama. And also that changes, we're going to continue to be vulnerable to foreign influence.


LEMON: David, is partnership -- Davis, is partisanship making us vulnerable -- partisanship is making us vulnerable and what would Ronald Reagan think of republicans warming to Vladimir Putin?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think partisanship has made us more vulnerable to believe the worst of the other side and that's the president. You know, the president started out this press conference today with a recitation of his accomplishments over the past eight years and I must say they sounded impressive.

But he ended it with enormous frustration that the political culture has gotten worse and he's quite frustrated, obviously, that the President-elect Donald Trump has more faith in Vladimir Putin than he does in our intelligence agencies starting with the CIA.

And that he's arguing as open people up to the idea -- to Putin's ratings have gone up steadily, so his approval rating in this on scientific poll to be sure. But important his approval ratings is up to 37 percent, and I can tell you that's a lot higher than most republicans hold Hillary Clinton in approval.

So, the president is worried about something that has seeped into our culture now as overwhelming as and has made us open to the idea that, you know, this thug, Vladimir Putin, may actually have something positive about him.

LEMON: Yes. Ryan, I want to read something. This is a memo from John Brennan, the CIA Director, an internal memo to his staff assuring them that the CIA, the FBI and director of National Intelligence are all on the same page when it comes to the hacking and that it was meant to help Trump.

And here's what he wrote. He said earlier this week, "I met separately with Director of the FBI Comey and DNI," meaning the Director the national Intelligence, Jim Clapper, "and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election." why do you think Director Brennan wrote this to his staff?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's very clear why he wrote it. There were leaks from the Hill that some in the FBI did not agree with the CIA's assessment that the intent of the operation, which was the news over the last couple of weeks, the intent was not just to cause chaos in our election but specifically to help Donald Trump win.

That was the CIA's assessments, Brennan is a fierce defender of the CIA and it was his view that the leaks clearly were incorrect and he wanted to make it public that the CIA and the FBI and the DNI all agree now on the intent of this Russian propaganda effort.

Look, you know, a senior intelligence official said to me this week one thing you do not want to do is get into a leak war with the CIA. This is literally what these guys do for a living and I'm not accusing Brennan of playing politics here, I think he was correcting the record.

But I think Trump is making a mistake if he's going to be as cavalier and dismissive of the CIA. Those guys don't mess around and, you know, so I think there's two things here going on. I think one, Brennan genuinely wanted to click, to set the record straight but I also think this is a little bit of a brush back and pushback by the CIA against President-elect Trump who was very dismissive of the CIA in a public statement the other day.

LEMON: Jim, to that attitude that Ryan is describing there, so cavalier attitude, Donald Trump and his transition team have been saying that these hacking revelations are politically motivated, and today, he tweeted this.

He says, "Are we talking about the same cyber-attack where it was revealed that head of DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?" Is he saying that this attack might have been good by tweeting something like that? SCIUTTO: He is suggesting that, perhaps, you know, the disclosure of

this information that came through the hacking of Democratic Party e- mails, yes, served some kind of greater good, certainly served his greater good in terms of getting elected.

But I will tell you, Don, I did talk to a transition source who says that the president-elect is concerned about these accusations of Russian hacking.

[22:10:04] But it is unclear at this point, and that's why it would be great if we could have a press conference where we could ask the president-elect this question.

We just don't know how far Donald Trump wants to take this. The president, you heard the president today encourage the president-elect to get on board with this probe into the hacking but we just have not heard what Donald Trump thinks about that, how far he should -- he thinks this should go and so on.

But what I think was an encouraging sign today is you did not hear a tit for tat between the president of the United States and the president-elect over all of this. You heard the president try to lower the temperature, you saw the president-elect here tonight not really get back into this back-and-forth with Josh Earnest and so on, and I think that's what people expect during this transition process.

It's a long tradition to have the incoming administration working with the outgoing administration to ensure the smooth transition of power and it just seemed like all of that was really in jeopardy in these last 24 hours. And it appears cooler heads have prevailed.

But no question. Earlier today, Congressman Chris Collins, a republican who is a Trump surrogate, we see him on our air all the time was saying, well, that you know, the worse that happened is that the truth came out.

So there are certainly republicans and certainly people inside the Trump camp who feel like these hacks served their purpose, and it was a means to an end. And what we need to hear at this point is whether or not the president-elect would condemn that and we just have not gotten that kind of response from Donald Trump.

He hasn't been asked that question in the few interviews he does and he's not opening it up to questions at a news conference. We just don't know where he stands on that. Until he answers that question, there's going to be -- there's going to be more questions to be asked about his perspective on all this.

LEMON: Jim and the rest of the panel, thank you very much, appreciate it.

Just ahead, President Obama's comments belittling Russia. Is he trying to get under Vladimir Putin's skin?

And later, First Lady Michelle Obama saying many Americans are now feeling what not having hope feels like. We'll talk about what she means.


LEMON: President Obama holding a wide-ranging news conference today pointing the finger of blame at Russian President Vladimir Putin for hacking the election.

Let's bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria now, host of Fareed Zakaria, GPS. Good evening, Fareed. What do you think of the president's tone in his final news conference, what stood out to you?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Well, I think it's firstly worth remembering how rare it is to see a successful two-term president with high approval ratings completely in command of himself.

So, Bush -- George W. Bush, two terms but was at 30 percent approval ratings. Bill Clinton, two terms but he was consumed by the impeachment and the pardons at the end, Reagan two terms baby the end of his two years -- his last year he was kind of -- we now know he had begun to have early onset Alzheimer's disease.

So, you really have to go back to Eisenhower because before that the way you have had a president in his eighth year, popular, successful and I think he views his job now as almost a kind of educator in chief. He wants to demonstrate how to be president. Calm, cool, rational. And his message was we don't overreact.

I don't want us to overreact to the Russians. I don't us to, you know, we have to remember we're much stronger than they are and the point he was making about the hacks is we didn't get -- we didn't get involved. You know, we didn't talk about it then because I didn't want to overreact, I didn't want to get -- you know, turn it into something partisan.

So, his whole effort is to demonstrate that government and the presidency has to be serious, impartial, you know, put things in context. He's putting everything in context.

LEMON: Right. He's showing us how presidents should be by example and action rather than just words.

ZAKARIA: Exactly.

LEMON: Which we've had a lot of over the last year, year and a half. He did blame Vladimir Putin for hacking the DNC and John Podesta in saying that -- he said he told them face to face back in September to cut it out or there would be consequences. Do you think that will change Russia or Vladimir Putin's behavior?

ZAKARIA: No, I think that the Russians will need something more than words. I think that if -- and it does seem as though, let's remember, it's actually 16 intelligence agencies, I think, that have decided that the evidence does suggest that the Russians were involved in exactly the way you just outlined.

I think you're going to have to do something and I think the United States will have to figure out what that is. It may want to do it in partnership with some of its western allies.

We now know from the German intelligence chief that the Russians have in the past and are already now doing similar things in Germany and Germany has a big upcoming election, we snow Vladimir Putin does not like Angela Merkel.

Angela Merkel has been very tough on Russia, very tough on sanctions against Russia because of Ukraine, so if this -- you know, this has to stop at some point and the only way I think it will stop is if the Russians feel they are suffering at some kind of retribution at a consequence.

LEMON: What about, he had a second point about partnership. Has a division left us open to exploitation by Russia and other -- when he talks about -- excuse me, partisanship. Has that left us open to division?

ZAKARIA: You know, it's an interesting question because we often talk about that and how it used to be that foreign policy was something that, you know, partisanship was left at the borders of the United States and when we went abroad we were bipartisan.

Not exactly right. I mean, there were big divisions over Vietnam and Iraq but I certainly cannot recall a time when we have had, you know, the head of a major party, the president-elect, essentially taking the side of a foreign adversary against the United States government.

That I've never seen. I've seen people say well, we shouldn't intervene here, we shouldn't have intervene there. You know, those kinds of divisions but siding with a foreign head of state against your own government that does strike me as -- you know, it's the partisanship we've been living through for the last decade taken to a whole new level.

LEMON: Yes. You say in your column, you said Vladimir Putin wants a new world order. Why would Donald Trump help them? Tell us about that.

ZAKARIA: Well, what I'm struck by is we don't seem to understand. You know, Trump has decided basically that he wants to be accommodating towards Russia. He keeps saying we should make a deal towards Russia but tough on China.

But it almost gets it backwards. The Chinese by and large have been supportive of the kind of world order that we built. They've been trying to help whether on climate change, of peacekeeping.

Obviously they have their own interest, they're not an ally. But Russia, and the reason by the way, as China has grown rich in this period.

[22:19:58] For Russia the whole history of the last 25 years is defeat, humiliation, subordination.

Though, Vladimir Putin says the end of Soviet communism was the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century. Remember, this is the 20th century. That includes Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the Holocaust, you know, all that, and he says no, just the end of soviet communism, the liberation of the Soviet people was one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century.

And in his view Russia has been subordinated and humiliated by this international order the U.S has set up after the Cold War. So he wants to change it. He wants to destroy it. He wants to upend this order. I get that that he has a Russian nationalist view, why would we help him do that?

LEMON: Exactly. That was my question. Why?

ZAKARIA: I think that, you know, one of the things that I hope when the president-elect becomes president he will listen to people like Tillerson, the secretary of state, Mattis, the secretary of defense.


ZAKARIA: I have a feeling they will have a very different view.

LEMON: Yes. I need to talk to you quickly because the president also mentioned Syria. He was asked about Syria. Can we play the sound bite real quick please?


OBAMA: Responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone -- with the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, and this blood and these atrocities are on their hands.

I understand the impulse to want to do something. But ultimately, what I've had to do is to think about what can we sustain, what is realistic. But I continue to believe that it was the right approach given what realistically we could get done.


LEMON: So, it's the right approach. He blamed Assad and Putin but could he have done more? Is this going to be a stain on his presidency?

ZAKARIA: Look, I think no one is blameless in this. And I think that the president...


LEMON: He does accept some responsibility.

ZAKARIA: yes. The president is right that it's not clear what the U.S. could have done to help. It does not, in his view the free Syrian army, the moderates, were too few, too divided to have ever prevailed.

So then you have to ask yourself this very awkward question. If you don't believe that you could have helped the good guys by helping them a little, by telling the Saudis to help them, by encouraging all these forces, all the people that helped these moderates, you just perpetuate add civil war in which they kept getting slaughtered. I mean, you know, the awful question then becomes would it have been

easier for the Syrian people if Assad had simply asserted control earlier? You wouldn't have had five million people fleeing. You wouldn't have had, you know, as much death and destruction.

If that's where we have ended up, you know, maybe there should -- the problem with civil wars is half measures only cause more bloodshed. If you support the losing side and keep supporting it and it keeps losing, it's just more death and destruction.

So, you know, it's a terrible question to ask but then if you are not going to really decisively be able to help the Syrian moderates, maybe the best thing would have been to just get out and let -- and let order establish itself one way or the other. Certainly you would have had fewer dead Syrians probably.

LEMON: Fareed, thank you so much for coming in, and I look forward to your program this weekend. Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. right here on CNN. Our thanks to Fareed Zakaria, again.

Straight ahead, President Obama says preventing the hacking of our election process should be a bipartisan issue. Is Donald Trump likely to agree with that position? We'll talk about it next.


LEMON: President Barack Obama publicly blaming Russian president Vladimir Putin for hacking the election but President-elect Trump on the other hand continues to dismiss the assessment by his intelligence of Russian meddling.

Let's discuss now with former Congressman Jack Kingston, a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, Carter Page, a former foreign policy to Donald Trump, CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, author of "Security Mom," and political contributor, Hilary Rosen.

This is going to be an interesting conversation. Carter, I want to start with you, first. Because you remember, I ask you this week, you were a former foreign policy adviser to the Donald Trump team. How do you think the president-elect sees the hacking story? Because President Obama essentially said today that Vladimir Putin was behind these attacks.

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: You know, Don, really the big story -- my main insights was spending time with the -- all the people over there, you know, but in the -- across business communities and even a few people in government as well and the media.

They laugh at it. You know, there's no basis for it whatsoever, and so although I haven't had any discussions with the team recently. I know, it's very -- it's consistent...


LEMON: So the president-elect -- I said the president-elect, sort of, he's in some ways brushing it off for lack of a better way of putting it saying, you know, maybe there's not enough evidence or there are bigger things, there are bigger concerns. Is that how you see it? Is that what you think his assessment is?

PAGE: Absolutely and I think there's a lot of basis for that. And you know, you look back at the end of the Clinton administration back in the late '90s, President Putin was pushing back with a lot of -- or he was offering some help on Bin Laden and some of the other, you know, terrorist, terrorist questions. And, you know, basically President Clinton didn't even focus in on that.

So, you know, I think we're getting really distracted and I think that has some security threats.

LEMON: You do business in Russia. Do you believe that that intelligence? Do you believe the intelligence community?

PAGE: Look, I don't really -- I don't have any insights one way or the other but what I do -- you know, what I do think is that if there was strong evidence they might have shown more than these innuendos that we've heard thus far.

LEMON: Here's President Barack Obama today.



OBAMA: The Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC and that as a consequence. It is important for us to review all elements of that and make sure that we are preventing that kind of interference through cyber-attacks in the future.

That should be a bipartisan issue, that shouldn't be a partisan issue and my hope is that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don't have potential foreign influence in our election process, I don't think any American wants that and that shouldn't be a source of an argument.


LEMON: All right, initially I was going to go to Jack Kingston but, Hilary, was that you before the sound bite, saying oh my God? What was that for? What's your reaction?

[22:29:58] ROSEN: Well, I just think it's silly for Mr. Page to suggest that the FBI and the CIA are wrong about their assessment here when they've been consistent all along they have no reason to not tell the truth here.

And there's been a pattern that we have seen Russia do this in other states so it's not a big surprise that they've done this to the United States of America.

And I just -- I feel like what we have with the Trump team is sort of this consistent sense of denial and for all sorts of reasons whether it's -- you know, who knows? Mr. Page has to do business in Russia. Donald Trump thinks the ends justify the means because he won the election and so, you know, he's not going to talk about what might have contributed to it.

I think this pattern is just really disturbing. All President Obama did today was say, look, we don't have to dispute the election to be unhappy that a foreign state wants to hack into, you know, vital government and non-governmental agencies. That should bother everybody.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, do you want -- do you want to defend yourself? Do you want to respond?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: You know, you talk about influence the election. Let's assume that the accusations are correct. The main influence that the -- that the hacks had is it provided by some insights and some transparency to you know, this question of public versus private positions and if anything...


LEMON: But does that make it OK, though, for Russia to hack?

ROSEN: Really, are we going there? The ends justify the means is your point.


PAGE: I'm not saying that.

ROSEN: So who cares if it's Russia that did it?

PAGE: I'm not saying that but I'm just saying, you know, even -- if we're talking about influence the election. That is something which -- you know, that's the only impact I could possibly say.


ROSEN: I'm sorry, the Republican National Committee's e-mails wouldn't have private views of republican officials compared to their public views? Come on. That's just a crazy thing to say.

LEMON: Representative Kingston?

ROSEN: Jack knows better than that.

JACK KINGSTON, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I think -- I think one of the things that President Obama said today is that the hacking seemed to be focused on the DNC and John Podesta and there wasn't evidence that it affected the election in the broader sense.

LEMON: That was the point that Hilary just maid.

KINGSTON: Well, and I'm in agreement with that. I think -- I think that Devin Nunes has taken the right, he's a, you know, the house intelligence chairman, he's bringing in the CIA and the FBI and he says tell me more.

Now unfortunately, I got to tell you I think they're playing politics, they did not come to this hearing this week. As a former member of Congress, I can tell you that is absolutely outrageous but they need to come forward and tell what they know and not necessarily report to the New York Times first.

LEMON: Does it bother you -- and it's sort of -- and I don't know if this is what, you know, Carter Page meant but I've heard it from other, you know, from other republicans and from Trump supporters that sort of -- you know, and even from Trump saying, you know, at least it was uncovered and you know, we found out what the DNC thought and we got John Podesta's e-mails. The end is justifying the means. Do you -- does that concern you?

KINGSTON: I think -- I think none of us want an outside country influencing American elections but at the same time there is a narrative out there that has been trying to delegitimize this presidency.

It started with riots and then it was a recount and then it was the attack on the Electoral College and so sometimes, at some point the left has got to say, you know, we have to quit crying wolf because when real issues come around people aren't to take us seriously.

LEMON: Go ahead.

ROSEN: You know, this is not the fight that we want to have, if I can speak for the entire left which, of course, I do, as everybody knows, right, not. But this is not the fight we want to have but I think all - all Americans want to hear, all Barack Obama wanted to hear is the president-elect say, yes, it is wrong for a foreign state to infiltrate an American system in a cyber-attack.


KINGSTON: But Hilary, Hilary, I think we can stay too...

ROSEN: And we have not heard -- I'm sorry, Jack. We've not heard Donald Trump say that.

KINGSTON: But Hilary.


ROSEN: We've heard reasonable people like you say that. But we've not heard Donald Trump say that.


LEMON: Hold on.

ROSEN: We want to move on.

LEMON: Let Juliette get in.


ROSEN: We want to have -- we want to have another time.

LEMON: We have another block after this but I want Juliette to weigh in as a security expert.


LEMON: Go ahead, Juliette.

KAYYEM: But I just think we have to -- yes, I think we have to think about the act itself and then the consequences. And I'm willing, I'm a democrat like Hilary, I'm willing to concede he's going to be our president, I'm not saying that it's stolen.

But the act itself, whether it had consequences or not is relevant not just for 2016, 2016 is over. It's relevant for 2018, 2020, the European elections, everything coming up.

And I do think we need to view what happened as a cyber-war with two battles and Putin won them both. The first was the hacks themselves. The second one is because the Trump and his surrogates can't get past Trump rather than the United States that he now represents.

Putin has achieved something that's really hard to do, which is he's had the president-elect essentially denigrate and undermine an entire intelligence apparatus.

[22:35:00] Now the next time or when Trump is president and he goes to Russia and he says "look, I know you're doing genocide here, I know you're going to invade here or whatever, I have this based on my intelligence" I know exactly what Putin is going to say. "You mean the same intelligence guys that you threw under the bus about this?"


KAYYEM: So, we got to take the long view, people under the jar.

LEMON: Stand by, stand by more to come. We'll be right back.

ROSEN: That's right.


LEMON: Back now with my panel, Congressman Jack Kingston, Carter Page, Juliette Kayyem, and Hilary Rosen.

Juliette making the point before the break that everyone should be concerned about this, and even as a democrat she said this is a bipartisan issue that we should all be concerned about. Carter, do you want to weigh in on that?

PAGE: You know, listen, the bipartisanship, if you look at some of the things that you know, President-elect Trump has done to reach out to President Obama, he would actually be much better served if, you know, they try to find mutually beneficial paths forward with Russia as opposed to sticking with this failed narrative the that was the driving force throughout the campaign, so.

LEMON: Does it not concern you, Jack Kingston, that you know, that Donald Trump, your candidate seems to be sort of, you know, doing footsy, at least, with Vladimir Putin.

KINGSTON: Actually I think what he's doing is a good strategic move. He's letting President Obama kind of run with this and he's going to let Devin Nunes and the House and Senate intelligence committee run with it.

[22:40:02] He's going to put together his cabinet and he's going to be above the fray.

His big issues with Russia don't end with hacking at all. Syria, the biggest disaster in foreign policy that we've had in the history of our nation, 400,000 people dead, millions and millions of refugees all over the Middle East and Europe, that's a bigger issue, or at least it's a more immediate issue.

And then the second issue, of course, is Crimea and the Ukraine. He's got to deal with this. But you know, let me say this in terms of Barack Obama's statement today.

He said that he pulled Putin aside at the G20 Summit in China and said cut it out.


KINGSTON: And you know, if it was this outrage, if the Intel and the disruption was as big as it should have been, he should have been pounding on the table and saying "Putin, what the hell are you doing hacking into our elections."

LEMON: OK. Let me push back and play devil's advocate here because I sit here every single night, I know you would have been...


KINGSTON: I don't want to pound the table.

LEMON: ... you would have been on television pounding on the table saying Barack Obama is interfering with U.S. elections because there's no evidence. And where is the evidence?

ROSEN: Exactly.

LEMON: Am I wrong? Where are my democrats on the panel? No?

ROSEN: Well, I think you're right and I think that's why actually we can trust the intelligence reports now because they had no incentive to make this up, indeed they thought at that time Hillary Clinton was going to win.

But here I think is our bigger point, which is, you know, we're at a point right now in this country where the republicans are trying to decide whether to take health insurance away from 20 million people in the next three weeks.

We have confirmation hearings around somebody who will undo...


KINGSTON: We used to make...

ROSEN: ... years of environmental issues. We have a lot of very pressing issues. I don't think democrats are saying to President-elect Trump that he's not allowed to reconsider our foreign policy priorities or initiatives or even to do resets with foreign leaders.

I think what we're saying is you know, some patriotism stops at the country's door and the intelligence agencies are doing the job of national security and don't undermine him before you go and let's get on with the business of the country. That's where democrats want to go.


KINGSTON: Well, that's not where democrats want to go.

ROSEN: And he keeps putting this back on play.

KAYYEM: Yes. Can I -- can I say something?

LEMON: Jack, let Juliette get in. And I promise -- she hasn't said much.

KAYYEM: No, I just -- I want just say -- no, I just wanted to just say something about just the hack and Trump and Obama because I think it is important. Jack just said, you know, sort of Trump was going to stay above the fray.

I think it's very important and for those of you two who might be closer to him than Hilary and I, the extent to which his inability to accept that two plus two equals four, which is that every -- he's the outlier here in terms of believing whether the hacks occurred.

He doesn't have to care why, we don't need to prove the motivation that the hacks did occur is now becoming embarrassing not just for him but this nation. When he wakes up in the morning and does a tweet about well, it was OK because Hillary, you know, we found out stuff about. That, he needs to be above that and it's not because he needs to be better but because he needs to reflect better on us...


LEMON: There's a lot of head shaking...

KAYYEM: ... for our national security purposes.

LEMON: ... in disagreement on this side.

(CROSSTALK) KINGSTON: I just want to say, if we're going to talk math, 308 electoral votes equals president of the United States and I wish the Democratic Party would accept that and move on.

KAYYEM: We do.


ROSEN: That's not just the point, Jack.

LEMON: But Jack, I mean, yes, a win is a win but that's not the point, Jack.

KAYYEM: Jack, that's a red herring. That's a red herring.

KINGSTON: What the son...

KAYYEM: To say that anyone who complains...

KINGSTON: Well, you brought up math, I just wanted to point up that.

KAYYEM: I brought up two plus two equals...

KINGSTON: I just want to throw that little math.

ROSEN: No, no, in fact, nobody is saying that.

KAYYEM: Jack -- Jack, I was saying.

LEMON: OK, one at a time.

KAYYEM: I was saying two plus two...

KINGSTON: I hasn't this...

KAYYEM: Let me just -- let me just...

LEMON: Let her clarify and then I'll let you finish, Jack.

KAYYEM: Jack is misrepresenting me. Let me just -- he's misrepresenting me and I'm not on enough with the political people to allow that to happen which is this.

Two plus two equals four is that -- is that you have over two dozen intelligence agencies in concert now saying a hack occurred, it occurred by Russia and that the motivation was to harm one candidate. Now he can be the outlier.

LEMON: Quickly, please.

KINGSTON: Number one, we don't know what the motivation is.


KAYYEM: But it means that you're an outlier. KINGSTON: Number two, why is there a sudden left wing embrace of the FBI? Last month it was the FBI's fault that Hillary Clinton lost but now because they said something they can use against Donald Trump, the FBI is wonderful and...


ROSEN: You're the only one who says that.

KINGSTON: ... and they are the gold standard. And they weren't even on the same page with the CIA.

ROSEN: That's just a ridiculous point.

KAYYEM: Right.


ROSEN: Because you know that's not the complaint about the FBI.

KINGSTON: No, it's a very valid point.

ROSEN: No, sorry.

LEMON: OK. I got to go.

ROSEN: That wasn't the complaint about the FBI, it was timing issue.


ROSEN: Again, we would rather move on. It's the -- it's the lack of patriotism that Trump is showing that's keeping us here.

LEMON: Thank you all very much.

KINGSTON: God bless America.

LEMON: Yes, indeed. You said it.

Up next, President Barack Obama ran on hope and change. Eight years later, as he prepares to leave the White House, the first lady says, there's not much hope for a lot of Americans these days. We'll talk about that.


LEMON: Now in his final days in the White House, President Obama is reflecting on his achievements and regrets.

Let's discuss now with Van Jones, a former Obama administration official, and Joshua Dubois, the former White House religious affairs director of President -- or for President Obama.

Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you so much for coming on. Van Jones, I'm going to start with you. Because we have been talking about President Obama's final press conference today. VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: yes.

LEMON: What stood out to you besides he's just cool.

JONES: Well, I just, well, listen, people going to miss this brother, that's all I have to say about it. He's cool, he's calm, he's collected. But you know, he's talking about major stuff.

He -- this is basically the first press conference where a U.S. president acknowledges that we are essentially in the middle of a cyber-war. When you have a foreign power enter your territory, you know, from a cyber-point of view and interrupt an election, whether they're successful or not, that is an act of war. They're interfering with your democracy.

And so, here he is basically telling the world listen I'm naming names. I'm pointing fingers. I said your name. That's amazing.

LEMON: Why won't the incoming president, you think, acknowledge that? And to Juliette Kayyem's point earlier you know, saying you know, when if Donald Trump -- when he meets with Vladimir Putin.


[22:50:01] LEMON: And he says "I know you did this, I know there's genocide and all these others," and he said, well, why should you believe that intelligence when you don't believe the other intelligence?

JONES: Yes. I think that's bad. Listen, there are three ways to respond when people start saying there's something wrong with an election you won. You can respond personally. You can respond as a partisan or you can respond as a patriot.

So far he's responded personally and as a partisan. But as a patriot you cannot stand back while your country is under attack and say nothing.

LEMON: Yes. Let's bring Josh. And Josh, how would you describe the president's tone and his message today?

JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: Don, I thought he called the role today. He sort of walked the American people through the progress we've made over the last eight years. And some of us realize it and others it may take a little bit to realize it.

But he reminded us. He said listen, unemployment is down. The gap between the wealthy and those who do have much has started to shrink finally. We have taken out terrorists all around the globe. We're finally starting to do something about climate change.

So, he's basically said listen, I've spent eight years trying to do what's right rather than what's easy and it's starting to derive some benefits for every day folks around the country. And so, I think it was a little bit of a reminder, like hey, guys, I've been working pretty hard on your behalf. And I need some people to join with me and help me take it from here.

JONES: One of the things so amazing about President Obama when in 2012, people were running against him, you had Mitt Romney said President Obama is terrible. If you elect me I'll give you unemployment at 6 percent. We're at 4.8, 4.6 percent. My good friend Newt Gingrich said, Obama is terrible. You elect me president I'm going to give you gas at $3 a gallon. We're down to $2 a gallon.


JONES: So, this president actually did better than the republicans who were running against him promised to do and they still are saying he's awful.

DUBOIS: And Van, those are some of the big issues but there are smaller things that don't get talked about much and you know this. But you know, teenage pregnancy rates are down as well. Our high school graduation rates are up.



JONES: Role model.

DUBOIS: And these aren't necessarily revolutionary things. Those are good role model. And we had eight years without major scandal. I think he's made our country better. It's going to be the sort of things that our grand kids are going to look back in the history books and be proud of these eight years under Barack Obama.

LEMON: Now I want to talk about, though, the favorite Obama, and that's the first lady.

JONES: Yes. According to the president.

LEMON: According to the president. The first lady she gave and interview to Oprah Winfrey and she talked about the legacy of hope. Let's listen.




OBAMA: So, now we're feeling what not having hope feels like, you know. Hope is necessary. It's a necessary concept. And Barack didn't just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. I mean, he and I and so many believed that -- what else do you have if you don't have hope.


OBAMA: What do you give your kids if you can't give them hope? (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: She's very, very open about her disappointment in the outcome of the election. What did you think?

JONES: I think she keeping it real. I mean, when you talk about Michelle Obama, just you know, keep score. How many people say grounded, down to earth, keeps it real, she tells the truth. She's telling an emotional truth that her base is feeling right now.


JONES: People are feeling disappointed. Now there are people in the country who feel very hopeful because you have a President Trump. But she's speaking to that pain and disappointment within the majority of folks who voted against Donald Trump. And it's real. You may not like it but it's real.

DUBOIS: And she's saying you know, remember this feeling. Remember this and fight to not have to fight to feel like this again. If you feel a certain malaise now, if you like your voice doesn't matter, then I hear the first lady saying, you got to stand up. You got to be in there and be a joyful warrior fighting on behalf of those who don't have a whole lot. Fighting for the progress that we've made.

I think she's calling by saying that some people don't people don't feel hopeful. She's calling people to feel hopeful again. But she's saying you got to do something to make that happen.

LEMON: Yes, I got like 30 seconds here, Josh. But I mean, she threw a little shade when she went onto say having a grown up in the White House who can say -- who can say to you in times of crisis and turmoil, hey, it's going to be OK. She talked about that. What did you think?

DUBOIS: She did not have to throw shade. His tweets throw shade for him. I mean, this is, anyone can look at the record of, unfortunately, the President-elect over the last few years and honestly it hasn't been the most mature. Now we hope he turns a corner quite frankly.

So, I think she was reflecting just the objective record of a man who has teased and taunted and hopefully he does a little better over the next four years because the country needs him to do better.

LEMON: Yes. Everyone is counting on the president-elect of course, and the leader of the free world always.

Thank you, gentlemen. Have a great weekend. I appreciate it.

DUBOIS: Thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: In this season of giving we want to show you how you can help our 2016 top 10 CNN heroes continue their very important work. Here is Anderson Cooper to tell you more.


Each of this year's top CNN heroes proves that one person really can make a difference. And again, this year, we'll make it easy for you to support their great work.

Just go to and click donate beneath any 2016 top 10 CNN hero to make a direct contribution to that hero's fund-raiser on crowd rise. You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation which is tax deductible in the United States.

No matter how small it can make a difference in helping the person who inspires you to continue their life changing work.

CNN is proud to celebrate all these everyday people changing the world. And through December 31st, to offer you this way to support their causes.

And right now your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $450,000 for each of this year's honorees. You can donate from your laptop, your tablet or your phone. Just go to Your donation in any amount will help them help others.


LEMON: Thanks, Anderson. If you know someone who deserves to be a CNN here, tell us about them. Nominations for 2017 are open now. Go to

That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching.