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Officials: Suspect Tied to Pro-ISIS Network in Germany; German, U.S. Intel Were Aware of Suspect Before Attack; Official: Israel Asked Trump for Help on United Nations Vote; Putin Statement, Trump Tweet Raise Cold War Chill; Trump Targets Lockheed in Tweet; Inauguration Tribulation; A-List Performers Saying No, Thanks. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 22, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. John Berman here in for Anderson.

Tonight, questions with real consequences. Did the president-elect of the United States join a nuclear arms race today with a tweet? Did he insert himself directly in the foreign affairs of the current White House apparently at another country's request? And did his 140 characters knock more than a billion dollars off a big American company's market value?

Check your 401(k)s, everyone. And fasten your seatbelt. And big news throughout the hour, including in Berlin.

This is new video, the first we've seen of Monday's truck attack there. That is the vehicle you can see plowing into the crowded Christmas market and seconds later on the lower portion of the video, images of people, those who could, running away.

As for the man believed responsible, he is still on the run. We're learning more almost on the minute about his run-ins with authorities, his ties to a pro-ISIS network, and apparently, his desire to join the terror group.

More now from CNN's Erin McLaughlin, who joins us now from Berlin.

Erin, new evidence tonight tying the suspect to the attack -- what do we know?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. We knew that authorities had initially found 24-year-old Tunisian national identity papers, Anis Amri's identity papers inside the truck. But what we're learning today is they also found forensic evidence, specifically fingerprints inside and outside of the truck, tying him to this attack.

Authorities now saying they're certain they are looking for the right man. Throughout the day, we've seen police raids in cities across Germany. They even searched a port in Denmark. No arrests so far, though, John.

BERMAN: And, Erin, sort of an astounding piece of information today. The suspect had previously discussed launching an attack in Germany and authorities actually knew about this prior to Monday?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. Some disturbing information we're learning tying the suspect to a pro-ISIS recruitment network. Now, authorities had arrested senior members of that network, five in total in November. And CNN has a chance to view the investigative files, some 345 pages long. Anis Amri is named several times inside that file.

And according to a police informant cited, he had openly said that he wanted to commit terrorist attacks and members of that pro-ISIS recruitment network offered to hide him, raising the question, is there more -- are there more members of that network out there, potentially hiding him now, John?

BERMAN: That is a key question.

Erin, the Christmas market reopened today. Tell us what the mood is there.

MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. The Christmas market, the scene of this horrific attack, reopened this morning to heavy police presence. They've also installed cement barricades around the perimeter.

But we've really seen these somber and emotional scenes throughout the day. It's 2:00 a.m. here and I took a walk through the market, people still wandering through, laying flowers as you can see behind me, lighting candles, paying their respects and incredible show of solidarity for the victims of this horrific attack.

BERMAN: All right. Erin McLaughlin for us in Berlin, thanks so much, Erin.

And so much about tragedies like this compounded by what we learn in retrospect. In this case, that growing body of knowledge includes the fact that U.S. counterterror officials considered Anis Amri to be enough of a threat to keep him from flying.

CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us now with all that he's been learning.

Evan, what exactly did U.S. intelligence know about the suspect? And do they know how they became aware of him in the first place?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, John. Months ago, German intelligence agencies provided information on this suspect to the United States and they added him to the no fly list here. Now, we're told that the German authorities identified him as part of this jihadist support network operating in central Europe. This is a network that was helping to recruit fighters to join ISIS in Syria.

And intelligence agencies, both in Europe and in the United States, found that some of them were communicating with suspected ISIS members in Syria.

BERMAN: And, Evan, you know, the presence of these terror cells anywhere in Europe is clearly a concern to the United States. Is there anything U.S. intelligence is doing to help find Anis Amri? PEREZ: Absolutely. They're on this, 24 hours now, John, the FBI and

the intelligence agencies here have a lot of capabilities, that they're trying to bring to bear here. We saw in the attacks in Belgium and in France in the past year, that the NSA and FBI were able to provide key assistance to help find some of the suspects in those cases.

Now, working with the NSA is often a controversial issue in Germany, but with this attack and the manhunt that's ongoing, that view may change.

[20:05:01] Now, the fact is, though, that the intelligence agencies here and in Europe, as you and I were talking about just a couple of days ago, are very concerned that ISIS still has some command and control capabilities in Syria, they're still able to direct and communicate with people there to carry out attacks in Europe. So, here in the United States, they're also looking at ISIS supporters who are already on their radar to see if what happened in Germany might be inspiring any of them to do the same thing here, John.

BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez, good information. Thanks so much.

So, a person who had done jail time in one country, was on the no-fly list in another and was to one degree or another, known to authorities on three continents has still somehow avoided being caught and did avoid deeper scrutiny by German authorities, which creates a whole lot of questions.

With us tonight, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, and former CIA officer Bob Baer.

Bob, let me start with you and the news about being on the U.S. no fly list. What is the significance of that, the fact he was on U.S. radar and what should or did you suspect the Americans tell the Germans about him?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, I think what happened was the Germans came to the United States and said, listen, we have somebody on our soil who appears to be dangerous. He is attending sermons at a mosque from a sheik who's advocating violence in the United States and they immediately put that person on that list. They don't want him in the United States.

Now, the big question is if the Germans were so convinced of this guy's potential for violence, why did they not detain him? You will see a lot of Germans saying that they didn't have the evidence, they were waiting for more. We're waiting to see what's going to happen on that.

BERMAN: Dangerous enough to warn the United States, not dangerous enough to keep your eye on him 24 hours a day, as long as he's in the country.

Paul Cruickshank, you told me there were jaw-dropping gaps in follow up here by German officials. PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that's right, because

the Germans had a police informant inside the network and they knew that he was trying to join ISIS last Christmas, Christmas 2015, he was actually preparing to try to do that, wasn't able to then go and join with ISIS.

But then perhaps because he was frustrated, started talking about wanting to launch attacks inside Germany, the police informant was party to those conversations. He was also then trying to find a gun, so there are all sorts of warning signals about him, but also about this network because other members of the network were discussing ramming a truck into a crowd and loading the truck with gasoline and explosives.

What the Germans did do is they went on to the senior members of the network, the proselytizers, the people who are brainwashing these youngsters and arrested five of them just a few weeks ago in November, including the ring leader, an Iraqi, Abu Walaa, who really had a large following in Germany. But some of these more junior people, the foot soldiers, they still hadn't gone after perhaps because they didn't have enough evidence to win a conviction in their minds.

While the fact that they didn't go after them, they didn't put them under more surveillance for a more sustained amount of time has clearly led now to this attack getting through. The worry is that it's not just him that could launch another attack. It is other foot soldiers in this network.

BERMAN: And, Bob, you are nodding your head. You know, based on Paul's reporting here, they have a mountain of information on this guy and apparently on this ISIS network inside Germany. You've been part of the aftermath of incidents, you know, similar to this. What are German officials, what is German intelligence doing right now, number one, to catch this guy, number two, to make sure another attack doesn't happen in the next few days?

BAER: Well, the German police are going to prosecutors right now and saying, we got to get these people off the street. The problem in Germany is they're completely overwhelmed with these cells, these sleeper cells, some are in touch with Syria and Raqqah, some aren't. It doesn't really matter.

But remember, Germany has let in more than a million refugees over the last year. And it's simply impossible for the German police to keep track of them all. I mean, to put surveillance on the ones they suspect takes 80, 90 people in an eight-hour period. So, you can imagine the logistics of that. Germans can't do it.

And so, what they're waiting for, like Americans is to take one overt act before they actually arrest him. Amri apparently didn't. You know, simply discussing taking up arms and jihad, like American law, isn't enough to warrant an arrest. And this is really the problem we're all facing is when these people turn to violence and when they make that decision. If it's hijacking a truck, who is going to know until they get in that truck and ram it into a crowd? BERMAN: Often, it is hard to figure out exactly when people will act.

But this is a person talking about carrying out suicide attacks. This was a person who apparently went on training hikes to prepare him to join ISIS, you know, Syria or Iraq.

[20:10:03] He had been doing a lot of things and they knew about it at the time.

Paul Cruickshank, from your sources, do they think he's even still in Germany right now? Do they even know?

CRUICKSHANK: They don't for sure where he is, obviously. And -- but I think the working assumption is right now is most likely, he's still in Germany, perhaps still in Berlin area. That he could possibly have been injured to a degree in this attack, because there was a struggle with the truck driver before he killed the truck driver to hijack that vehicle. And also, most likely because that is where the logistical support structure is based that can hide him and we saw what the Paris attacks, a similar logistical support structure managed to hide that. One of the attackers here, Saleh Abdeslam ducked out of that attack for four months.

So, this could be pretty difficult for the Germans.

BERMAN: Bob Baer, while I have you here, I want to ask you a question, a completely different subject. There is a new report out from the House Intelligence Community that says Edward Snowden, he of the big leaks a few years ago, has had and continues to have contact with Russian intelligence services.

First of all, do you imagine that to be true? And if so, how significant is that?

BAER: John, I think it's inevitable he was right from the beginning. The moment he entered Russian air space, the Russians took control of him.

I know the KGB very well. They are not going to let a catch like that go. They are not going to let him come to Moscow and not debrief him. They simply didn't know what else he had on them, what other sort of, you know, databases he had hidden around the world. They absolutely would have been all over him from day one and Snowden would have had no choice but to comply and answer their questions.

It's just -- it's the way this world works. You don't defect to Moscow and go there and not be contacted by the KGB when you have that much secret information. And that was Snowden's, you know, fine, he's a whistle blower. But the last place you want to head to if you are a whistleblower is Moscow.

BERMAN: All right. Paul Cruickshank, Bob Baer, thanks so much.

Just ahead, we have more breaking news and so much for one president at a time.

The storm now brewing over Donald Trump all but conducting Middle East foreign policy from Mar-a-Lago.

And next, the president-elect goes nuclear. What he tweeted and what Vladimir Putin said today that are raising something of a Cold War chill.


[20:15:51] BERMAN: The Trump transition team has said that when it comes to foreign affairs, the president-elect believes there is only one president at a time. Mr. Trump's actions, however, have not always bore that completely. He took the call from Taiwan and questioned this country's longstanding one-China policy.

And today, another virtually unprecedented move, this time involving the Middle East, words that the Israeli government reached out for help from the president-elect and evidence that he delivered.

CNN's Elise Labott joins us now with the latest.

Why did the Israeli government reach out to President-elect Trump? And what exactly did they want from him?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this was a very controversial resolution that was being passed at the United Nations today. They were expected to vote this afternoon and what it would do is basically call on Israel to end all settlement activity, call settlements illegal. Now after years of kind of protecting the U.S. with its veto at the United Nations, we understand that President Obama was prepared to let that resolution pass either by abstaining or by voting yes.

And for weeks, the Israelis have been urging the administration, imploring them in fact, don't do this. And when they realized that this was going ahead, they warned the administration, an Israeli official telling me they said to the administration, listen, if you are going to go ahead, we'll be forced, we'll have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump and ask him to intervene this some way.

And that's exactly what they did. I understand the Israeli government reached out the President-elect Trump.

The argument here is the Obama administration was doing would really undermine President Trump's hand when he came in and wanted to do something. So, we understand after that entree to President-elect Trump, he reached out himself to Egyptian President Sisi. This was an Egyptian resolution.

And next thing you know, the Egyptians delayed the vote, and there is no vote as of tonight. We don't really know what's going to happen with that resolution. It could be dead in the water, John.

BERMAN: So, keep this in mind. There are two U.S. presidents. You know, one current, one future. Two other countries, Egypt and Israel, directly involved all at once. That's why what happened was unprecedented. Just to be clear, Elise, you just said, the vote on the Security

Council resolution, it's been postponed. We don't know if it will happen. What will the current administration do now?

LABOTT: Well, we understand they are still waiting to see what happens with a vote. Now, the Arab League was supposed to meet today to review that text. They could do something to it and bring it back. The U.S. would have to review and see whether it would go ahead.

We understand that the U.S. is still looking to put its finger on the scale of the peace process and certainty settlements are a part of that. Secretary of State John Kerry was supposed to lay out a whole vision of the whole peace process as he was walking out the door, kind of a parting shot which President Obama has opposed. And also to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the relationship being very rocky.

And what the Israelis are saying is, listen, what's unprecedented here is they are tying the hands of this administration. They said imagine what this would happen if President Obama would have done that with President Bush. So, I think they are trying to preserve something for the next administration. President-elect Trump has said he would like to negotiate what he calls the ultimate peace deal, John.

BERMAN: Elise Labott, thanks so much.

Plenty to talk about now. Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to four presidents, David Gergen, former White House and state Department official, Shamila Chaudhary, and former CIA analyst, Buck Sexton.

You know, David Gergen, first to you -- the history here. You know, we do like to say there is only one president at a time. So what went on today again with a current president and future president in two different country, Israel and Egypt -- you know, is this the type of thing that on balance should be avoided?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It should be avoided. Historically, one of the most important periods of transition came when Herbert Hoover was president and Franklin Roosevelt was president-elect. And we didn't actually install the president until March, and Hoover tried on several occasions to get Franklin Roosevelt to join him as the president-elect to help run the country.

[20:20:05] And Franklin Roosevelt steadfastly refused. He just said we have one president at a time and wouldn't do it. And it turned out to be the right decision. And since then, we've honored the tradition.

This is the first time I can remember when a president-elect and president both have been so actively engaged at the same time. It does make you think, the sooner this transition is over, the better.

BERMAN: Shamila, you know, the Trump transition does tell us it gave the White House a heads up that the president-elect would be releasing the statement calling for the veto of the U.N. resolution. Does that mitigate any the complexities here? SHAMILA CHAUDHARY, SENIOR FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: No. I

don't think so. In fact the whole situation confirms that Trump is going to be extremely willing to carry Israel's water for it. You know, he has appointed a pro-settlement ambassador. He's happily carrying Netanyahu's message very publicly during this time of transition.

And keep in mind, this isn't the first time that Netanyahu himself has meddled in American politics. He got in involved in the 2012 reelection of President Obama. He engaged Congress quite aggressively during the development of the Iran nuclear deal with the United States.

So, I think this is just confirmation of a U.S./Israel relationship under a Trump administration.

BERMAN: You know, Buck, Prime Minister Netanyahu not only knows Israeli politics, but he knows U.S. politics very, very well. I mean, he knew what he was getting into when he had his government contact the president-elect.

Is it proper for another country to try to take advantage of the presidential transition like this?

BUCK SEXTON FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you have to think from Netanyahu's position, why wouldn't he do this? Fist of all, why is Obama doing this? It's clearly a parting shot, sort of on the way out message to those on the left that have sort of known all along that Obama has his misgivings about a lot of Israeli policy and doesn't have any love for the Israeli prime minister --

BERMAN: It's a message to Israel and the world.

SEXTON: Exactly, on the way out.

It's also I think worth noting that President Obama hasn't been able to get to first base on the peace process. Kerry and Obama have been abject failures in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians together on any deal at any level, even really starting that process.

So, to do this, to complicate matters right before they leave and take this shot at Israel, I think shows really poor judgment, and also it sort of shows that President Obama hasn't always been above completely board what how he feels about what the Israeli state is doing. The U.S. has provided this protection to the Security Council for a long time, that this would change all of a sudden would be a shift in policy. And that Netanyahu wants to reach out to the president-elect who honestly is a more important relationship now than President Obama is I think makes perfect sense.

President Obama can also reach out to Egypt and Netanyahu and give them his version of events, or why he thinks this needs to be done. So, there's no rule. There's no law that prevents Trump or Netanyahu from doing what they have done it. It seems fine to me and it seems sensible.

BERMAN: It wasn't the U.S. who had this resolution up at the United Nations.

SEXTON: No, of course --

BERMAN: It wasn't as if they were trying to force action on it. It was being placed there and they were going to have to vote.

SEXTON: An enormous distinction is the president saying he wasn't going to veto it to provide that coverage. That is the change.

BERMAN: And let me put that question to David Gergen now. You know, David, what Buck's point that President Obama was going to do what would be around the globe, a very significant act with supporters of Israel, a hugely controversial act with just 29 days left to go.

Is that the right time to make a statement on national policy when the policy of the United States you know will be different 30 days from now?

GERGEN: Well, I certainly agree with Buck's first point and that is that Netanyahu had every reason to reach out. He had nothing to lose and he was deeply worried about what the implications would be for his own country. If you are sitting there and you -- I think most rational people would do the same thing Netanyahu did.

As to President Obama, look I -- you know, I'm not sure the Trump people ought to be lecturing the Obama people about radical shifts in policy, with all the perspective shifts under way on Taiwan and everything else. But even so, I -- there is a part of me that does think President Obama should have signaled this earlier and not to do it at the last moment.

I do think that it would have been better to have -- I think he should have signaled we're not changing policy now. We're going to give it over. Let the other side now try to do it.

I do think it would have put the Israelis in awfully awkward position with Donald Trump coming into office.

BERMAN: Shamila, on that point, you know, I think the White House made it clear how they would have voted or abstained or at least acted today. And it is, as you think and I think as Buck thinks and David thinks and the world thinks what President Obama now thinks of the peace process and what he thinks about settlements.

But I wonder as we sit here at 8:24 if the White House is actually happy that this went away for the day and may have gone away completely, that they don't have to do this at the Security Council, either vote against Israel or abstain?

CHAUDHARY: Well, sure. I mean, they were planning on abstaining anyways. So I think they were wishing it away by just abstaining. I think the bigger question just to respond to something that Buck said, is how does President-elect Trump actually intend to bring peace to a process from a very kind of aggressive, antagonistic starting point?

[20:25:12] If you appoint an ambassador who's pro-settlements to Israel, and essentially speaking on behalf of the Netanyahu for the discussion today, I'm not sure that that actually puts the United States in a good position of defense with the Arab countries.

BERMAN: Guys, stick around. I'm glad you are here and I'm glad you brought your opinions.

SEXTON: Wish I could respond.

BERMAN: We're going to respond to a whole lot more, because up next, what Russian President Putin and President-elect Trump had to say today about nuclear weapons and why it's making some people a little nervous.


BERMAN: All right. With all that's been going on this hour, this kind of got lost in the mix. Namely, as we asked at the top of the program, will the next Cold War begin with a tweet?

Details from CNN's Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Did Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump just have their first nuclear standoff?

Today, Russia's president vowing more nuclear weapons are needed.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems.

STARR: A clear shot at U.S. defense plants in Europe, something Russia believes is a threat.

Within hours, President-elect Trump tweeted, quote, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

A transition team statement later said Trump was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it, particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes. The statement also noting Trump wants to modernize the nuclear deterrent capability.

During the second presidential debate a hint of his thinking.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We are old. We're tired. We're exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very bad thing.

STARR: Donald Trump briefed just yesterday by senior Air Force officers on the need to modernize the aging nuclear infrastructure. Nuclear weapons are limited by treaty. Today Russia had 7300 warheads, the U.S. just over 6,900.

Barack Obama began his presidency calling for global nuclear disarmament.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I speak clearly and with conviction, America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

STARR: Putin's nuclear vow came as he boasted of Russian military superiority after a year which saw successful Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee by the Russian military, sustained air strikes in Syria, and continued occupation of Crimea.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (Through Translator): Today, we are stronger than any potential aggressor, I repeat, any aggressor.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The professionalism and the skill and the capabilities that are resonant in the United States military are beyond debate.

STARR: Both men put their nuclear cards on the table. But they haven't turned those cards over yet. We don't know what they say. And at the end of the day, it's mot really clear what either is talking about.

Barbara Starr, CNN the Pentagon.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: All right. Our thanks to Barbara Starr. Back now with the panel, Buck Sexton, let me read the first part of the tweet again. I think the words here are very, very important.

The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability. Now, as with many Donald Trump tweets and statements, this caused us frenzy for a long time today, but the key thing to understand and to know and we don't know because we can't get an explanation from Donald Trump. Did he mean to expand the number of nuclear weapons, expand the number of delivery devices? Or did he just mean modernize the nuclear arsenal, which is a lot less controversial?

BUCK SEXTON, FORMER CIA COUNTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the campaign -- I mean the campaign, the transition team rather has issued a clarifying statement on Trump's tweet. And we can't get in Trump's mind specifically as to what he was intending with that at the time.

But let's be very clear. It is a bipartisan consensus in national security and defense communities that the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the nuclear triad is aging. They do need to spend more money on it that other possible nuclear adversaries had been advancing their delivery mechanisms. North Korea is still obviously a growing threat on the nuclear front. There are people who argue that Iran will soon be. I know that's a contentious issue, but that's at least out there. The nuclear arsenal does need to in fact be updated, changed, modernized. BERMAN: That is pretty much consensus -- I mean do you have --

SEXTON: Ash Carter, the Secretary of Defense under Obama's administration --


BERMAN: Absolutely and it has been the policy of the Obama administration to modernize the nuclear arsenal. The question though is --

SEXTON: What about Trump's tweet is beyond that? That's what I don't understand.

BERMAN: It is the words, expand the capability, expand the nuclear capability.

SEXTON: Can't we think it modernizing and increasing the delivery mechanisms would be expanding the capability? I just feel like there's a knee-jerk reaction to always take it to DEFCON 1 with every Trump's statement on national security and we'd all be better off if we perhaps give the would be -- soon to be, rather, commander-in-chief the benefit of the doubt when it comes to some of the issues. He's not about to nuke Sweden.

GERGEN: It is fair point.

BERMAN: It is a fair point, David Gergen, that Donald Trump very well might not have meant, you know, to expand the number of nuclear weapons. In fact probably didn't according to what the transition mean that. However, should nuclear policy statements be made in 140 characters or less?

GERGEN: It's laughable. Well, listen. It's not -- really, it's a very serious matter really. There is agreement, widespread agreement that we need to modernize our nuclear forces. They are aging. It is going to cost lot of money.

But since the days of the Ronald Reagan and Georgia George H.W. Bush as president, it has been the firm conviction and the firm policy of United States on both sides of the aisle to try to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the world to make a world a safer place.

So we don't have some madman who can set off a war that annihilates or we have -- we have some mistake and miscommunication. And the problem today with Mr. Trump's tweet and coming just after the Putin statement is that it's so ambiguous, almost every phrase in that statement is ambiguous.

[20:34:59] It can be read as, yes, modernization, but it can also be read because of its ambiguity as calling for a new arms race. And a lot of people are very concerned that Trump and Putin can get us into a nuclear arms race, which would be extraordinarily dangerous. And I think the point goes back to -- listen, I think it backs out a good point. We ought to give Donald Trump more the benefit of the doubt. But that would be a lot easier to do if he spoke clearly and without ambiguity.

And going on tweet, if you put the combination of Donald Trump and Twitter and nuclear weapons together, that's a witch's brew. It's a witch's brew. You should not be trying to deal with one of the most complex and dangerous and most sensitive issues as a president of the United States has to deal with, and that is nuclear warheads that could destroy and still would destroy the world. You must do it with precision, with thought, awful lot of thought, because you just can't do this in a 140 characters and sort of wave it off.

BERMAN: It is odd, Shamila, though that a lot of the critiques of Donald Trump comes from the left to yesterday were saying that Donald Trump is way too close to Vladimir Putin. And today, there are alarm that there's a new Cold War perhaps looked brewing between President- Elect Trump and Vladimir Putin.

It's hard to, you know, to mix those two things, isn't it?

CHARDHARY: It is. And the only thing I can say to that is it's consistent because it shows how inconsistent Trump is. I mean one day he'll say something very positive about Putin and the next day he's competing with him by basically reissuing the same statement.

So I don't think this is a kind of reliable measure of where the president elect wants to take the policy. It is worrisome though, because nuclear weapons are probably the most sensitive, most compartmentalized topic in the U.S. government. When nuclear weapons are talked about in public, it's to make a point. It is to send a signal to Russia, to China, to North Korea, to Pakistan. Can you imagine what those countries are thinking right now? And all they have to base their information on is this 140 character tweets.

BERMAN: And Buck, I want to give you the last word here. And I do think it is completely possible that expand the capability -- expand the nuclear capability can mean modernize. That may be very well true. It's also true however that the way Donald Trump has talked about nuclear weapons during the campaign, you know, he did seem to be much more willing, A, to use them, B, to have countries that don't have them, then all of a sudden get them. I mean he has talked about nuclear weapons in a very different way.

SEXTON: It is not easy for me to lay out what a Trump foreign policy and nuclear policy is going to be in this segment that we have here. I think there's some complexities that we won't be able to touch on. That said, there is nothing wrong with his tweet, presidents speak in sound bites all the time.

The issue of modernizing and updating our nuclear arsenal isn't well out there in public. The Secretary of Defense Ash Carter gives speeches on and I'm sure to look back in Obama's speeches. He said much the same thing and let's be realistic about the fact that the deterrent that our nuclear arsenal provides is for us, it's for our NATO allies, it's for a lot of countries around the world.

The stability of our international system relies upon the realistic usage of nuclear weapons from the United States when necessary. And that means that we have to know what kind of nukes, how we deploy them, where we deploy them and these are things that can only be done if we're ready to go with the systems we have.

BERMAN: All right guys.

SEXTON: So I think the president is talking about it, it's just more our president-elect. It's just fine.

BERMAN: President elect. Guys, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, it was not global thermonuclear war, but for one company's stock today it sure seen like World War III because of a different tweet from Donald Trump. The latest on that when we come back.


[20:42:11] BERMAN: The president elect's Twitter finger pointed squarely at Lockheed Martin. Yesterday he met with CEO's from that company and from Boeing. And just a few hours ago, he tweeted "base on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I've asked Boeing to price at a comparable F-18 super hornet." Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins me now with the latest.

And Jim, so essentially is the President elect negotiating military contracts on Twitter?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is. He did this earlier this month when he was complaining about the Boeing contract for Air Force One. I remember, he said cancel that order and yesterday the head of Boeing coming out of a meeting with the president elect down at Mar-a-Lago said I think we can get the costs under $4 billion. You know, John, under the Obama administration, I remember being in those press briefings when Josh Earnest or Jay Carney would say, we're not going to negotiate in public over this matter, whatever that matter might be. This is a president who's going to negotiate in public.

BERMAN: And the last time that he tweeted about Lockheed Martin its value dropped. Did that happen this time as well?

ACOSTA: It did happen this time as well. It's down a roughly 2 percent in after hours trading, it's about a $1 billion drop in Lockheed Martin value. We should point out there is a factual issue with what Donald Trump tweeted. He talked about Lockheed Martin's F- 35. Yes, they're way, way over budget some $400 billion but it is a very different aircraft than the Boeing F-18. The F-35 is a stealth capable fighter; the F-18 does not do that. And so, you know, already bloggers in this field of popular mechanics and popular science are saying that Donald Trump may want to re-think that tweet.

BERMAN: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks so much.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BERMAN: Joining us now Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and member the Trump transition team. Representative, thank you so much for being with us.


BERMAN: Now, military procurement is a complicated thing and there is no question that the American taxpayer should get the best value they can with whatever is being bought for the military. Be it, you know, with fighter jet, a bomber or anything else. But, you know, there are consequences to these statements from the president-elect. Lockheed Martin took a huge hit on stock price today, 2 percent is worth a billion dollar. People have this in their 401(k). Is this the type of thing that should be done in public like this on Twitter?

BLACKBURN: Transparency is always going to end up being a good thing at the end of the day. And putting some sunshine on how things are done at the Pentagon, I think is going to serve the taxpayer very well. I think also it will serve those that are seeking to contract with DOD and with the different military branches. It will serve them well. You're going to get a little more transparency and I bet at the end of the day you might get a little better product.

[20:45:00] BERMAN: On the subject of transparency though, these are different products, right, because the F-35 --

BLACKBURN: Yes, they are.

BERMAN: -- is stealth and the F-18 is not. So in 140 characters--

BLACKBURN: You're right.

BERMAN: -- you're not really --

BLACKBURN: That's right.

BERMAN: -- explaining that fairly and transparently are you?

BLACKBURN: Well, you are not getting into the detail that is a fair, a fair statement. But I have to say this, raising the awareness on the issue is probably a very good thing. People are quite frustrated with what is happening in Washington D.C., they are frustrated with the way DOD goes about procurement and contracting. This has been a point that people have complained about going back to $400 hammers and all sorts of different things. So John, you know, what they're saying to us is let's get things under control.

BERMAN: And there's no question.

BLACKBURN: Money is tight. We've got a lot of debt. There needs to be a refocusing of priorities. And what I see the President elect doing right now is sending a message to many of my colleagues in the House and the Senate. That we need to be very careful as we start going through the authorizing process for the budget as we go through the appropriations process for the budget and pay a little bit more attention, a closer attention to the details. And you're going to see this government-wide.

BERMAN: There is no question he's sending a message, he's sending it early in the process before he even takes office. Let me ask you about something else that came up today and this is the issue of nuclear weapons where President-elect Trump said that the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability. Again, the issue here is nuclear policy. Is Twitter the right place to carry this out? The transition says he's talking about modernizing and what not. But other people look to that and said he's talking about, you know, adding to the nuclear arsenal which is something that would abrogate many trees.

BLACKBURN: What you're going to see from Mr. Trump is he is always going the lead from a position of strength, not from a position of weakness and indeed President Obama has been a proponent of strengthening our nuclear arsenal. I think it's about a trillion dollar price tag that he has putting on this.

BERMAN: He's committed to modernizing it.

BLACKBURN: That's right. Modernizing and strengthening that arsenal. Now, what you're seeing Mr. Trump say is let's to think about peace through strength. And let's talk about the modernizations that need to, need to be placed. You might not end up with a trillion dollars in a project to ask Mr. Obama. President Obama had won it to do. But, is it appropriate to start talking about the nuclear arsenal and the approach to it?

I think in this day and age our strength and then making certain that we keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of those that would wish us harm. And then negotiating from strength rather than weakness like we did with the Iran deal, which is a very, very bad deal for us.

BERMAN: All right I want it.

BLACKBURN: I prefer to see us going about it through strength.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman, I want to ask you about something you said on CNN yesterday. You said that not all refugees entering the United States are vetted. So we receipt to the State Department about that. And I want to read you a part of their statement, they said, "100 percent of refugees admitted to the United States are vetted through a highly rigorous process that involves multiple federal agencies, security and law enforcement. While no security screening program can guarantee a 100 percent success rate, the vast majority of refugees who have cleared the current security screened regime for admission in the United States have proven to be peaceful additions to our society."

So is the State Department wrong here?

BLACKBURN: I think you can look at statements said have been made by Jeh Johnson. A statements that have come from DHS. Indeed a September memo is that DHS, an internal memo that came out, that points to problems and concerns with the lack of vetting, indeed. Even saying that we don't know all the details.

BERMAN: But there are two thing s -- hang-on. Representative, I just want to be-- representative, I just want to be clear about one thing. Vetting can be imperfect. But to say it is not happening is a completely different thing. Any refugee entering the United States has been vetted. Things can be missed. But that doesn't mean they are not being vetted.

BLACKBURN: We know that I -- even go back to the interrogator for KSM. And he even talks about how KSM is talking about wanting to use the refugee program. You can look at Secretary Johnson's statements about we don't know a lot about the Syrian refugees that are coming into the country, those that are coming from war-torn areas. And that was a statement that he made in October of 2015. And then to not pause this program until we can say, we have a process in place, where we are going to be able to know who is coming into this country.

[20:50:03] I think that it is our responsibility to know who is coming into our country. Ronald Reagan said, "If you cannot control your borders, you can't control your country."

BERMAN: The refugee though.

BLACKBURN: And we need to be thoughtful, we need to be very thoughtful on this issue. It is an issue of national security.

BERMAN: Representative --

BLACKBURN: It is an issue of concern.

BERMAN: Representative Marsha Blackburn, thanks so much.

BLACKBURN: Good to be with you. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, up next. A-list performers normally clamor to perform at presidential inauguration, is normally consider an honor to be asked. So why is team Trump having a hard time booking top acts?


BERMAN: Just 29 days until Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Today the Inaugural Committee announced the radio city Rockettes will perform at the ceremony next month, just as they did at the inauguration for George W. Bush in 2001. The Rockettes have signed on, but a string of A-list performers have said no thanks to what is normally a coveted invitation. Stephanie Elam reports.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN LOS ANGELES CORRESPONDENT: Beyonce, James Taylor, Brad Paisley. Those are just a few of the A-list entertainers who sang at President Obama's last inauguration. Over the years, presidential inaugurations have become celeb-studded celebrations, Hollywood heavyweights, deeming it's an honor to be asked to perform for the new president. But now less than a month away from the President-elect's inauguration, and sources tell CNN that Donald Trump's transition's team is having a hard time booking talent.

TED JOHNSON, SENIOR EDITOR, "VARIETY": This is an incredibly divisive campaign. There's a lot of hurt feelings out there. And even if you supported Donald Trump, you may have had some hesitation over what kind of response you're going to get for your fan base that did not vote for him.

ELAM: While the vice chair for Trump's inaugural committee has said in November, Elton John was set to perform on the national mall, John's spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to CNN, "He will not be performing at Trump's inauguration." Capitalization, hers.

[20:55:03] It would have been a change for John who headlined a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser during the campaign.

JOHNSON: I think the view among many in the music industry is Donald Trump is not an ordinary Republican in his rhetoric. And they're very put off by that. And it follows through with the inauguration that they don't want to touch it, I guess, with a 10-foot pole.

ELAM: Entertainment news website, the wrap, reports Garth Brooks will not perform. No doubt, however, Trump will have performances. Just, perhaps, with a lot less pop.

JOHNSON: I actually don't doubt that there will be people there at the inauguration, I don't think, though, that they're going to get people who are out there on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton. I also don't think that they're going to get the level of celebrity star power that you saw for Barack Obama's first inauguration. Hollywood leans left and Donald Trump has to work against that.

ELAM: The Trump team is downplaying any difficulties getting A- listers, confirming to CNN that they booked the Mormon tabernacle choir. Also saying yes, Jackie Evancho of "America's Got Talent" fame. She will sing the national anthem at the Trump's swearing in.

Other possible inaugural performers, musicians who have stumped for Trump, like Ted Nugent and Kid Rock.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: We will keep them when to sign up. We'll be right back.