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NC Lawmakers Fail to Repeal Bathroom Bill; Trump Selects Conway as Counselor to President; U.S. Plans on U.N. Settlement Vote Now in Flux; Warmer Temps Hit North Pole; Oklahoma Coach Speaks Out on Mixon Punishment; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 22, 2016 - 10:30   ET


[10:31:49] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill in today for Carol Costello. Thanks for joining us.

North Carolina lawmakers failed to repeal the state's controversial bathroom bill and now they're under fire from all sides this morning. The NAACP just chiming in condemning that state's decision, saying it is, quote, "shameful and a disgrace to North Carolina."

And here's what North Carolina's governor-elect, Roy Cooper, had to say last night.


ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR-ELECT: The legislature had a chance to do the right thing for North Carolina and they failed. I'm disappointed that we have yet to remove the stain on the reputation of our great state that is around this country and around the world.


HILL: CNN's Nick Valencia is following this story for us and joins us from Raleigh.

Nick, this was not at all how folks expected things to play out yesterday.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. Good morning, Erica. There was a lot of posturing on both sides. Republicans and Democrats alike. Yesterday the day started out very hopeful for state Democrats. They believed that they had brokered a deal to clear a path for a full repeal of HB 2. That's not what they got. They got a bill presented to them with caveats and that was not satisfactory to the state Democrats.

We knew the day was going to have a lot of drama just by the way it started out. A House representative named Jeff Collins stood up in protest to say that the special session should be found as unconstitutional and anything that was done yesterday should be null and void. It was shortly after that protest on the House floor that I caught up with the representative.


VALENCIA: I wanted to see what the reasoning was behind your protest.

JEFF COLLINS, NORTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There ain't no reason. I said exactly what I meant.

VALENCIA: And it was just a protest, you don't think that this is constitutional?

COLLINS: It absolutely is not. There have been no extraordinary occurrence.

VALENCIA: And the response by Paul Stan, who, you know, as you know is a figure head here, did that change your mind at all?

COLLINS: No. He just said he thought the rules were fine which I agree. The rules are fine. But we're here unconstitutionally.

VALENCIA: Are you planning on voting no, then, against the repeal?

COLLINS: I plan on voting no on anything that's done here because it's all unconstitutional.


VALENCIA: By now, everyone knows just how detrimental HB 2 has been to the economy. An estimated $650 million lost with entertainers like Bruce Springsteen pulling out. The NCAA canceling events here. The NBA pulling out an all-star game. But for Republicans that we spoke to, those most ardent supporters of HB 2, it's not just an economic issue but also a moral one. They told me that they did not want to be told by Democrats how to vote and when to vote.

Ultimately this is, yes, about politics but it is about people, especially those in the LGBTQ community. But after that vote -- after the legislature adjourned, I caught up with activist Candis Cox.


CANDIS COX, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST: I was at least optimistic that we would make some headway. In sitting in both the Senate and the House and listening to a lot of the arguments that have been going back and forth and the proposals, it appears that they called the special session to call all of the world in to watch and then make a mockery. That's how it feels. That's how I feel right now.


VALENCIA: The legislature is closed for the year. They are expected to reconvene on January 11th.

[10:35:03] But there is no guarantee that House Bill 2 will even be on the agenda. State lawmakers tell me that yesterday, last night was the best chance they had at repealing this so-called bathroom bill -- Erica.

HILL: Nick Valencia, for us this morning. Nick, thank you. Donald Trump's former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is now taking

her talents to the White House. Conway we are learning will serve as counselor to the president. This morning she is hard at work laying out Donald Trump's take on this latest string of terror attacks.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He's promising to end the war on ISIS quickly. What will you do that we are not doing now that will be so decidedly conclusive and quick?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: In addition to what I've already said several times which is just stronger, better vetting policies, not looking the other way when there's evidence of terrorism and wrongdoing, in addition, getting our allies more involved.

You know, Donald Trump is constantly criticized here and elsewhere as oh, my god, look, he doesn't even have the evidence yet and he's saying that it's ISIS. He's been right every single time. And he's not saying it to be right. He's saying it to remind us that the world is a dangerous place and anybody who accepts this as a, quote, "new normal" is just not -- they are giving it --


HILL: This as Donald Trump continues to build his administration. We expect to soon hear who will serve as deputy secretary of State as well as press secretary. Couple of other Cabinet positions remain open.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins me now from Palm Beach, Florida, where the president-elect is spending the Christmas holiday. Any sense that we may learn some of those things in the coming days given the holiday?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, there is a potential chance for a couple more staff announcements today, I'm told. White House press secretary, as you said, is one of those positions that may be announced as well as a couple other staff positions.

I do not expect any Cabinet appointments but that is always possible. Donald Trump certainly has shown that he's unpredictable. And he is working today at Mar-a-Lago behind me here, you can see, but then he's going to really spend a few days with his family over the Christmas weekend here.

But there are two positions in the Cabinet that Donald Trump has not yet filled, the Veterans Affairs secretary, as you said, of course, that's a central theme of his campaign and he is leaning toward a couple finalists, and also the AG secretary, the Department of Agriculture secretary. Those are the two main Cabinet positions.

But those staff positions in the West Wing also so important. And tapping Kellyanne Conway as the counsel to the president is going to pave the way, I am told, for more staff announcements including communications director, press secretary, but having Kellyanne Conway at the helm there is a sign that she is going to have a big stamp on the communications strategy, is going to be the face of the administration as we saw on "NEW DAY" this morning, largely as she was during the campaign.

I can't recall any other presidential campaign in the five that I have covered where the campaign manager has been so visible. And Erica, you can expect that Kellyanne Conway will continue to do that, defending Donald Trump, protecting his brand and legacy and explaining some of his positions to the American people -- Erica.

HILL: And we will be watching her do that and hopefully speaking to her as well.

Jeff Zeleny, good to see you. Thank you.

In terms of the position of press secretary, whoever takes that job will of course play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between Donald Trump and the press corps he has routinely vilified. Among the leading contenders, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, transition spokesman Jason Miller and FOX News host Kimberly Guilfoyle.

For more now, we're joined by CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter.

This is sort of unlike other press secretaries given how open and honest Donald Trump has been about how he feels about the press and members of the media. But this is such an important position and especially now. What is it that he's looking for in a press secretary?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: You know, this person is a very public face of an incoming administration. You think about Robert Gibbs eight years ago behind the White House podium, now Josh Earnest is the press secretary. Every day defending President Obama's policies.

It looks like Sean Spicer is the favorite for this job. We've been expecting the announcement this week, could come later today. Spicer has been the press secretary and chief strategist of the Republican National Committee for quite some time. Very well known among reporters and among television viewers for his many appearances.

I have wonder sometimes when you see people like Spicer and Conway on TV in the past few weeks, if they have been trying out for these jobs on television because we know Trump watches so much cable news, he's paying a lot of attention to who he sees on TV. And we've seen that in some of his other choices as well.

Monica Crowley, Katie McFarland, Ben Carson, these are cable news regulars who he has brought into his administration. So Spicer, the favorite for press secretary. Jason Miller, a likely contender for communications director. Thinking about long-term strategy. But you mentioned Kimberly Guilfoyle, which is a very interesting piece of this. Now reports this week that Guilfoyle has been making a play for one of these jobs or some sort of communications role with Trump, maybe not press secretary but something that would be in the mix.

[10:40:09] Guilfoyle is a co-host on the show "The Five," she's been very supportive of Trump publicly. For now she's still on FOX. They haven't sidelined her while she's been essentially trying out for this job.

HILL: How could this press secretary potentially be different than what we've seen in the past? I mean, we've already heard that there is talk of perhaps doing away with the daily White House press briefing. That would be a big change. We know that talking to the press is not Donald Trump's favorite thing to do. I think that's probably putting it mildly. So how do we anticipate access even changing?

STELTER: It's been about 148 days since Trump held a full-fledged press conference. Meaning rows of seats, a podium up in the center, a long answer -- question and answer session. He's had a couple of moments like yesterday where he'll briefly answer questions from reporters that are shouted to him. He's done a couple of interviews. But you're right, he has rarely been speaking with the press since he was elected and the press conference actually goes back to July.

So he says now in January there will be that press conference setting but clearly, they're going to be playing by a different rule book, whether it's Sean Spicer, Jason Miller, others who are working with him on his press strategy. Ultimately it's Donald Trump who was his own best press secretary doing what he feels is right day to day.

You know, I was talking to Josh Earnest about this. He's about to step down as press secretary. He said what's most important in this job is knowing where the president's head is at all times. We're going to hear that interview on my show on Sunday on "RELIABLE SOURCES" because you have to know where the president's head is at. And with Donald Trump that can be very difficult.

HILL: Or not. You just go to the Twitter feed.

STELTER: Or you go to the Twitter feed.

HILL: And maybe then that gives you a sense. It'll be interesting.

STELTER: That's right. Trump is his own best press secretary.

HILL: I look forward to seeing that interview this weekend.

STELTER: Thanks.

HILL: All right, Brian, thank you.

And stay with us. We'll be right back.


[10:45:05] HILL: A U.N. Security Council vote on a draft resolution demanding that Israel immediately halt all settlement activity in the Palestinian territory is in flux right now. President-elect Donald Trump is speaking out about the resolution saying this. Quote, "The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed. As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis."

CNN's Oren Lieberman joins us now from Jerusalem and global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is in Washington.

Elise, and you have a little bit more on what's happening here. So the resolution was supposed to be -- expected to be, I should say, voted on today. Now it's been postponed. Why?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Erica, there's a lot of drama going on this morning. That vote was supposed to take place at 3:00 and we understand from several U.S. officials that the U.S. was really going to have a dramatic development either in abstention, not using its veto as it has in the past, or even voting yes. So that vote was expected to pass.

Now, in addition, Secretary of State John Kerry was supposed to have a speech before that vote laying out the U.S. vision for the Middle East peace process after all those months of efforts to try and get a peace deal unsuccessfully.

Now we understand that that vote has been on hold. Western officials telling me that the Egyptians who put forth the resolution have put it on hold because of pressure from the Israelis. And so now not only is that vote on hold, the Kerry speech is on hold while the Arab League meets this afternoon to review the text. There could be a new text, we don't know what that will say, but now it's unclear how the U.S. is going to vote. But that vote on calling settlements illegal, calling on Israelis to stop all settlement construction certainly on hold for the time being.

HILL: So it's on hold, unclear as you pointed out how the U.S. would weigh in at this point. Is there a sense that moving forward, if in fact it does come up again, if it does come back on the table, would it be approved now?

LABOTT: Well, we have to see what the resolution will say. Now if the Egyptians have held the resolution because of pressure from the Israelis, it would stand to reason that maybe the Egyptians will go back to the Arab League, say look, is there any way we can soften this, which would make I think the case for the U.S. to vote it even stronger, the Arab League could then get together, say, listen, we don't like this pressure from the Israelis, they can harden the text in which case it would make it more difficult for the U.S. to vote.

But certainly, this is all in the context of, you know, the next administration coming in, how a President Trump would deal with Israel. We understand that he has appointed an ambassador, David Friedman, who considers settlements legal, who has talked about expanding them. So it's really not in a vacuum. There's a lot of context behind it.

HILL: Yes. And Oren, what's the reaction at this point in Israel?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Israel -- the Israeli government has been working furiously to either ensure a U.S. veto or at this point as we just learned putting pressure on the Egyptians to pull this vote, to hold it or delay it. The question now is, how long will that delay be. It's very conceivable that it could be a quick meeting with the Arab League, and then in a few hours we could see this vote again or it could be delayed by days and weeks.

But there is no doubt that Israel takes this vote and this draft resolution very seriously, lobbying the U.S. government and President Barack Obama very seriously from this morning to cast his veto. We saw Netanyahu tweet about it, we've seen other Israeli ministers and politicians make statements about it. That has been the focus of the efforts.

Israel fully expects that every other member of the Security Council will vote for this draft resolution. That's because back in 2011, the last time there was an anti-settlement draft resolution, everyone did vote for it. And it was only the U.S. that stopped it with a veto. That's why Israel has focused its efforts on trying to get the U.S. to veto this resolution as we've learned from Elise, it doesn't look like that was possible. Now the question, what will come out of the Arab League meeting and the draft resolution from the Egyptians.

HILL: And that is what we will be watching. Oren Liebermann, Elise Labott, thank you both.

Still to come, a heat wave at the North Pole? The details about that turbulent change just ahead.


[10:52:45] HILL: We know the North Pole kind of heats up this time of year. Right? Well, not like this. The high today could be 50 degrees above the normal average for this time of year. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here with more.

I first saw that this morning and I thought this must be a misprint. 50 degrees higher. But it's not.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's not. It takes a lot to wrap your head around it. I did the same thing this morning. I said you've got to be kidding me. But you're right, temperatures are supposed to reach right around freezing for the high temperature today, and so that is 50 degrees above average. So that arctic air that's normally bubbled up around the North Pole is actually shifting really far south, impacting portions of Siberia, Russia, and one of the reasons is because we've had a huge storm system impacting Greenland and so it's basically pushed all of this cold air out and south, and so the North Pole, 31 degrees today.

In fact, look at these other temperatures compared. Fairbanks, Alaska, 13 below zero today and the North Pole, 31. So quite a bit warmer. Look at this. This is from November. This is the North Pole and they have been running about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than normal. And from October 27th to November 17th, the Antarctic has also been running above normal, about 7 degrees Celsius, and so it's not just the North Pole but both poles have been running way above normal.

And look at this. This is sea ice. We've had a major loss of sea ice in the North Pole over the last couple of years, and so there's a lot of concern, Erica, because with this loss of sea ice, temperatures are just going to get warmer because when you have a nice sea pack, then we get a lot of the sunlight reflected so it stays colder. But when you lose that sea ice, temperatures just continue to warm.

HILL: Jennifer Gray, appreciate it. Thank you.

Oklahoma's football coach is speaking out for the first time since video was released of a star player punching a woman more than two years ago. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, my friend.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Erica. Coach Bob Stoops and other Oklahoma administrators have faced a lot of criticism for the punishment that they handed their star player, Joe Mixon, for this incident after they saw this video back in 2014.

[10:55:03] It shows a woman shoving and slapping Mixon but what happened next, we won't show. Mixon went on to punch the woman so hard it broke her nose, her cheekbone, fractured her jaw and orbital bone near her eye. She also needed to have her jaw wired shut.


BOB STOOPS, OKLAHOMA HEAD COACH: Two and a half years later it's fair to say it isn't enough. And that's positive in that that's the way things have gone in the last two and a half years that really the only thing that's ever acceptable anymore is dismissal.


WIRE: The problem here that a lot of people have is that Mixon was not dismissed. Never served any jail time. Instead he served 100 hours of community service, he was suspended from the team for one year, his freshman year, but here's the thing. Most players their first year they red-shirt anyway. He stayed on scholarship. The female student has a lawsuit pending against Mixon in this ongoing matter.

All right. Let's move on to Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski not wasting any time announcing his punishment for his team leader Grayson Allen, who said he's been suspended indefinitely after he tripped an opponent in last night's game. The problem here is it's his third time in the past year that he's intentionally tripped someone. And then he went on after the technical foul was given to throw this temper tantrum. He's a team captain and a team leader, and Coach K said that is unacceptable. Coach says that Allen did apologize, though, to the person he tripped and the opposing coach.

Finally, let's have some fun on this Friday. Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith getting into the Christmas spirit dressed up as an elf for yesterday's news conference. His team playing their arch rivals, the Steelers, on Christmas Day. But don't expect a lot of holly jolly holiday spirit in this one.


STEVE SMITH, BALTIMORE RAVENS WIDE RECEIVER: Going to be joy. Not a lot of peace.


WIRE: Huge game between the Steelers and Ravens, winner likely getting a playoff spot, loser likely eliminated. That'll be good stuff on Christmas Day, Erica.

HILL: The real winner was that outfit. Coy, thank you.

WIRE: You're welcome.

HILL: Thanks to all of you for being with us today. I'm Erica Hill. "AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND BOLDUAN" starts after a quick break.