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Russian Hacking Probe Urged, Trump Aide Voices Doubt; Electoral College Selecting U.S. President; Truck Plowed into Christmas Market in Berlin; Russian Ambassador Assassinated in Turkey; Busses Evacuating Thousands from East Aleppo. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 19, 2016 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: When I asked him last week whether he supports a select committee, this is what he had to say.


RAJU: You talked about an investigation, do you support a separate bipartisan investigation, a commission in any way or do you want to do this do you the Intelligence Committee?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We're going to follow the regular order. It's an important subject. And we intend to review it on a bipartisan basis.


RAJU: McConnell saying regular order can be interpreted as him not wanting to have the special committee looking into it. He thinks it could be done through the existing Intelligence Committee run by Republican Senator Richard Burr, who is promising a full-scale inquiry, with testimony from top Obama and Trump officials. but a lot of that testimony will happen in private and closed-door sessions. And some worry it will be buried in an attempt to avoid a major distraction for Trump.

Democrats are calling for this select committee, the broad committee to dig deep and air those findings publicly, and some Republicans want a robust congressional response as well. So, Brooke, this will be a big flashpoint in the beginning of a new Congress, possibly a vote on the Senate floor -- Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I now some has to do with subpoena power, right?

We know you're watching it. Manu, thank you in Washington.

Coming up next, all across the country, you have the electors at state capitols are getting closer to the magic number of 270. They are meeting to elect Donald Trump officially. So far, there have been no switching sides but the voting is not over. These are live pictures in Michigan. We'll have live reports for you on an update on this.

Also ahead, this manhunt is under way after someone shot and killed this 3-year-old little boy. How could this have happened? Could it have possibly have been road rage? We're on it.


[14:35:11] BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Voting is under way right now as members of the Electoral College are convening to essentially officially elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

Sara Sidner is standing by at the Pennsylvania capital where we know electors cast their votes today.

I don't we're talking about protesters. Tell me about what you're seeing.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we saw inside the House and inside the Rotunda, both in the chambers and in the rotunda, there were protesters. They were singing songs, Christmas songs and patriotic songs, including the national anthem. But then when the vote happened and it was announced that all 20 electors went for Donald Trump and Mike Pence, then a few who yelled out, some yelled, saying, "Shame on you." Another woman who was very vocal yelled, "You have just selected Hitler."

To that, there were people inside the chamber who clapped for the electors and thanked them for their service. We also heard the pomp and circumstance - we heard them thanking the governor of the state who by the way is a Democrat, saying, thank you for letting this be a civil election, including the very last part of this election, the Electoral College.

All 20 went for Donald Trump here. Nobody changed their mind and everyone went with what the electors went for here in the state -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Sara Sidner, thank you.

A quick update, Trump needs to get to the 270. The tally currently stands at 176 and she has 103.

One of today's electors, President Bill Clinton, joined the pack of voters in New York. His appearance follows some critical comments he made about James Comey, blaming FBI Director James Comey for Hillary Clinton's loss. Telling a small crowd at a local bookstore that Comey, quote, "cost her the election," and said President-elect Trump doesn't know much, but then added, quote, "One thing he does know is how to get angry white men to vote for him."

Cokie Roberts is back with us, award-winning veteran broadcaster, and --


BALDWIN: Cokie Roberts, who worked at ABC News, and the author "Lies of Liberty, the Women Who Shaped Our Nation." It's a pleasure to have you.


BALDWIN: You laugh, but this is what we're hearing from Bill Clinton, it's Jim Comey and angry white men and how Trump can galvanize them. What do you make of this?

ROBERTS: We had our election where the popular vote is different from the Electoral College vote. So, you have a lot of sour grapes Democrats and they --

BALDWIN: Republicans are saying, #sorelosers.

ROBERTS: They are right. The truth the Electoral College is the system we have. Hillary Clinton knew that, and thought she was playing it the way she should and talking about her blue wall and all of that. And she blew it. And there it is.

Now did Jim Comey have an impact? Sure, he did. I think more on Senate races, frankly. But here we are, the Electoral College is voting and they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

BALDWIN: I think the CIA report and the Russia hacks, when you say sour grapes, it doesn't help.

ROBERTS: It doesn't help and it's quite shocking. It's unbelievably shocking. And I think the flip side of Democrats being sore losers is Republicans being way too cavalier about the Russians trying to influence -- this is the Russians trying to influence our elections. That's not something to just blow away.

BALDWIN: It's a huge, huge deal. We'll see how they investigate it.

President Obama, he was interviewed NPR and acknowledged one vulnerability when it came to Hillary Clinton and Democrats, was this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Often times, younger voters and minority voters, Democratic voters, are clustered in urban areas.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: And on the coasts.

OBAMA: And on the coasts. As a consequence, you've got a situation where they are not only entire states but big chunks of states where, if we're not showing up, if we're not in there making an argument, then we're going to lose, and we can lose badly, and that's what happened in this election.


BALDWIN: He even said something to the effect of he said to the Hillary campaign, I'll go to Iowa for you. Go to Iowa and said, no, we want you in a battleground state. Do you think he was right?

[14:40:02] ROBERTS: Clearly, he was right. He lost. It was wonderful to see him with my NPR colleague for a very interesting interview. The president is right. It was -- not reasonable for the Clinton people to think that they would turn out the Obama coalition the way Obama did. He was this young, fresh, new face that was exciting young people, exciting African-Americans and Hillary Clinton had a lot to offer those people but she was not -- didn't create the same level of excitement. And so, she had to do much more her campaign had to do a lot more just nuts and bolts politics that as far as I can tell they didn't do. They were in love with the data. They had worlds of data sitting in front of their computers staring at rather than getting people to the polls.

BALDWIN: Do you think eventually in some time they'll be able to say we screwed up?

ROBERTS: Yeah, sure. Sure. I think individual conversations with individual people from the campaign that's already happening. But look, it is tough. She's ahead about almost three million votes in the popular vote. You do have this hack, you have John Podesta, sort of trying to go there. You did have the Comey statement at the end of the campaign. It's easier to say they did it than I did. It's human nature.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about this interview with Oprah and the first lady, Michelle Obama, and on women. You wrote this book, "Ladies of Liberty, The Women Who Shaped Our Nation," Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison. What was the thesis of the book?

ROBERTS: Actually, founding mothers, first one has those ladies and this is slightly later but it's the women in our founding period, were incredibly influential. In the early period, they were helping men through the revolution and thinking through the ideas of the constitution and all of that. And then you get into the early republic when the country was already starting to fall apart because of partisanship and regionalism. They did a lot to hold it together but they also did a lot to make it a better country. Even without any political rights or legal rights, they wove together a safety net in city after city. Jewish women, Catholic women, putting together organizations that helped the poor and disadvantaged and helped especially orphans. Here in New York, Isabella Graham, a character in this book, working with Eliza Hamilton, become famous on Broadway, created an orphanage that we have wonderful records from, thank heavens, helping the poor children of New York. These women had influence throughout the centuries.

BALDWIN: What about two current women, Michelle Obama and Melania she's asked whether she believes her husband's presidency achieved hope. She says yes but and this is para phrasing, this is what it feels like not to have it. But then she said this.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: My offer to Melania was, you don't know what you don't know until you're here. The door is open and as Laura Bush told me, other first ladies told me. I'm not new in this "going high thing." I'm modeling what was done for me by the Bushes. And Laura Bush was nothing but gracious and helpful and her team was right there for my team.


BALDWIN: I love how she said this, I'm not new in this "going high" thing. It seems to me in reading about first ladies, there is this vulnerability.

ROBERTS: Absolutely, because they have incredible power. They have the ear of the most powerful man on earth and can't be fired. And they weren't elected. So, people are always kind of suspicious of them.

But I have to tell you, I had the great privilege of, twice, doing a joint interview between Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, where the two of them genuinely are friends. And they really do want to do the right thing for mainly for girls and women, but for everybody. Laura Bush was, as Mrs. Obama just said, incredibly gracious to her. And she is going to be equally gracious to Melania Trump. That's who she is.

A lot of that about "angry black woman," couldn't have been further from the truth. She is one of the most gracious and humorous, fun to be with people there is. But so is Laura Bush, something most people don't know about her.

BALDWIN: I love when Michelle Obama said, she was with me, if I needed someone my entire eight years --

ROBERTS: That was really true.

BALDWIN: -- I could have.

Cokie Roberts, thank you so much.

ROBERTS: So good to be with you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Happy holiday.

ROBERTS: Merry Christmas, to you.

[14:45:12] BALDWIN: Just in, we have more electoral votes coming in, including Florida. All 29 votes went to Trump. So, the current tally, 211 for Trump and 115 for Clinton. Getting closer to the 270. We'll continue to watch that.

Coming up next, that breaking news. We're learning a truck has plowed into a Christmas market in Berlin. The very latest on that when we come back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. BALDWIN: We are getting breaking news into CNN out of Berlin in Germany. According to reports, someone has driven a truck through a crowd at a busy Christmas market. A police spokesman calling this a severe incident. A witness saying people have been crushed. This is happening in Berlin. This is a Christmas market. What are they, five or six hours ahead of time. People are out of work in this market, men and women and children. And apparently, a truck just careened directly into these people in this particular square. Police calling this a quote/unquote, "severe incident." This is the center of the western portion of Berlin, if you're familiar with this area, the main square. There's a famous Church of Remembrances and where the Berlin Zoo is there.

Max Foster has just a microphone on and can talk us through exactly what we know - Max?

[14:49:54] MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIOANLC ORERSPONDENT: Very little information at the moment. We're relying on what we've heard from police. Multiple injuries according to local police. A truck going into a Christmas market. This obviously isn't an area which should be having cars or vehicles on it in any way.

We just heard from an eyewitness describing how this truck wasn't slowing down as it went into the Christmas market. One dead, according to a well-regarded local paper and citing police sources.

This is a very well-known Christmas market in central Berlin, and a truck going into it. We presume there's an ongoing investigation into this. But obviously, people are asking an awful lot of questions, Brooke, about this.

BALDWIN: You know, we obviously know very, very little. The way in which this person drove into the market instantly makes me go back to when I was in Nice in France earlier this summer when an individual drove straight into the promenade celebration killing men and women and children, the way in which so many were injured and sadly killed. That was obviously a separate incident with different motivations. We don't know what this person was motivated by.

But, Max, OK, we're going to move on. As soon as you get more information, Max Foster, please let us know in Berlin.

We have an update on our breaking news. An off-duty police officer has been identified as the gunman who killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey today. The shooter could be heard shouting in Turkish, "God is great, do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria," as he fired shot after shot after shot. He killed Ambassador Andrey Karlov as he was speaking at a gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Russia has called this assassination a terror attack.

Meantime, in eastern Aleppo, it is hell, and the road out is no less horrific. Green buses shuttling thousands of people out of rebel- besieged towns, lit on fire, delaying evacuations for several hours. But, a glimmer of hope for the tens of thousands, saved among them young children, who we have seen pleading for their lives. These orphans, all 47 of them, who were trapped in an east Aleppo orphanage, were evacuated.

And we're now hearing 7-year-old Bana al Abed, who took to Twitter to tell the world what her life was like, she is out. She will be taken to Turkey with her family. Her mother spoke from the outskirts of Aleppo.


FATEMAH AL ABED, MOTHER OF BANA AL ABED: We had a lot of suffering because we stayed almost 24 hours in the bus without water and food and anything. We stayed like a prisoner, a hostage. But finally, we arrived here and we thank God.


BALDWIN: I'm joined by Tauqir Sharif. He goes by Tox. He is a humanitarian worker, who has worked in Syria during the war, including in Aleppo, where he helped the White Helmets aid workers, and now works for the group Live Updates from Syria, a frontline aide organization working in the heart of Syria.

Tox, thank you so much for joining me.

I see you're on the border there with Turkey. You're receiving all of these evacuees. Tell me what's been happening all day there.

TOX, SYRIAN HUMANITARIAN WORKER: Thank you for having us. It's been really, really tragic. Many of the aid organizations here on the ground struggling to deal with the influx of displaced persons or evacuees from Aleppo city. This is one of the ones we have here at the moment. It's very cold so we've got these kerosene fires here.

Some of the stories we've heard today from some of the evacuees have been really tragic. Some left family members behind under the rubble and haven't eaten meat for maybe six months. They've suffered some real harrowing stories.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you about the stories. Who are the people around you right now?

SHARIF: All of the people you see right now are all people that have been evacuated today. So less than 24 hours ago, all of these people were actually in besieged part of east Aleppo. This is a temporary relief center so this means that people are here for only a short amount of time. Maybe one or two or three delays maximum. We process the people here and take the information and find out what injuries. We have injured people back there. He's got an arm injury. Many of the children here, they've also got shrapnel wounds and injury. We had a guy with a piece of shrapnel in his spinal cord and had to rush him to Turkey.

Our job here is to get these guys a nice warm place and good hot food and served 300 people food today, many were saying they hadn't eaten meat or drank yogurt for six months. Some of them came in the most condition, living in abandoned buildings and we got the children new clothes and made sure they had a hot shower. Many of the refugee camps are over flowing because we have refugees from Iraq and Fallujah and Mosul and the crisis is very tough. Syria, as it is, has the biggest amount of displaced people so we are struggling to come up with this influx of civilians and the rest of the people from Aleppo city have not been evacuated. So --


[14:56:10] BALDWIN: Tox, let me jump in. It is extraordinary to me just the treatment that they are receiving thanks to you and so many other aid groups but then the challenges that lie ahead.

I want to ask you about the U.N. Security Council vote. They voted unanimously today to send in observers to monitor these evacuations. Tell me why that is so important.

SHARIF: This is so important today just the beginning of these evacuations, on the first day, the first bus driver was shot dead by the Syrian regime. The third or fourth bus, four people were executed. Some of the people here who are witnesses say that they were held in conditions in buses for 24 hours without food and water and weren't allowed to pray. Many of them had their possessions taken from them and many were trying to be -- the Syrian regime tried to persuade many of them to go to the regime areas and many of them refused. They also had reports that some of the people that did decide to go to the regime areas, a small minority, they say, were actually executed. So, some of the reports are very harrowing.

BALDWIN: I know we can't -- we can't independently verify, but you're getting all of these stories.

Tox, thank you for taking the time. Your job is way more important than talking to me. We have to continue shining a light on the plight of the refugees trying to eat and find safety and be reunited with their loved ones.

Thank you very much. And aid worker aiding evacuees there in Syria.

Back to our breaking news, a truck has plowed into this busy Christmas market in Berlin. We're getting some details from the scene. More on that from Germany when we come back.