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Ivanka Trump, Children Harassed on JetBlue Flight; Obama Opens Up on Race, Politics in "Atlantic" Interview; Trump's Cabinet Has Certain Look; Syrian Army: Aleppo Free of Armed Groups; "Jeopardy" Champ with Cancer Dies. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 22, 2016 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And by the way, shame on the person who harassed them. I don't care how you feel about Donald Trump. That's rude and disgraceful to be harassing somebody, especially with little children.

Have you ever heard of something like this?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT & CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS & CNN ANCHOR, BUSINESS TRAVELOR: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. It usually happens with politicians. A few British politicians have been rounded out.

I present "CNN Business Traveller," and I can tell you, it's abhorrent. I don't care what the father does or what she's done. She's paid for a seat, I hope. and she's entitled to sit in it. I was trying to see if she was in first class or economy. Looks like she's at the front of the bus. But it doesn't matter. She's entitled to travel from "A" to "B." She has the middle seat, I noticed, in the peace and quiet.

BALDWIN: She was hoping for that. And that's a long flight all the way to Hawaii.

I need to get this in --


QUEST: The question is, why didn't her father let her use the jet?

BALDWIN: Well, you know, I'm sure the father is using the jet elsewhere.

Let me get this in, Quest.

JetBlue said to CNN, quote, "The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If the crew determines a customer is causing conflict on the aircraft, the customer will be asked to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs the risk of escalation during flight. In this instance, our team worked to re- accommodate the party on the next available flight."

BALDWIN: Do we know, Jeremy, did they make it to Hawaii? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't have confirmation. I'm

not sure that they would have landed by now but we'll check back.

BALDWIN: Richard Quest, Jeremy Diamond, Juana Summers, thank you all.

Coming up next, the Syrian army declares Aleppo free of armed guards -- armed groups, rather. We'll take you live to the Turkish/Syrian border as evacuations come to an end.


[14:35:00] BALDWIN: President Obama is opening up about his eight years in the White House as the nation's first African-American president. In this wide-ranging, multipart interview with "The Atlantic," the outgoing commander-in-chief gets personal about his views on race and politics. He talks about growing up as a biracial child in Kansas, and why people lean on stereotypes. He says, quote, "The suspicion between race, the way it can manifest itself in politics in part comes out of people's daily interactions and the fact that we're segregated by communities and schools and our churches and people's memories passed down through generations." He goes on, "What I didn't appreciate when I first came into this office was the debris to which that reality would be the only thing a large chunk of the electorate, particularly the white electorate, would see."

Joining me, Rich Benjamin, author of "Searching for Whitopia"; and Michael Nutter, CNN political contributor and former mayor of Philadelphia.

Mr. Mayor, reading through this, the president's candor, did you get the sense he was finally getting some of these thoughts off his chest?

MICAHEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Brooke, I had the same experience at the tail end of your eight years as a chief executive and I was only the mayor of Philadelphia, he's president of the United States of America. There is a little more freedom that comes with that. I said to the president a good while back that -- in the second term there's a word called liberation and I think increasingly you're going to hear more and more of his thoughts. He is so responsible of a person and so stand up of a person that he rises that saying maybe some of these things while he is in the heart of his presidential time could have a greater impact on some members of the public that don't share those views but those are his views, he is living out his life experience and that piece that you read is absolutely true. It's just surprising for someone who -- you know, many of us were raised work hard, go to school, get good grades, stay out of trouble and you can be successful. And to be confronted with the reality that so many people apparently don't share that feeling is tough, especially when you're working your tail off each and every day to make things better for everyone.

BALDWIN: I know you are. And I like how you snuck that in, "Well, here's what I told the president." Very nice.

NUTTER: I did.


Rich, let me quote the president when he talks about his struggles as being the first black president, quote, "There is no doubt there have been occasions during my presidency when I've said y'all just would not do this with anybody else." Now obviously, the whole birth certificate thing is the most salient example. Part of what he says is difficult is, "The degree to untangling which issues are because of race and some just a coarsening of the political culture and a sharpening of the political divides."

What do you make of that? Do you think he's saying that because he's a Democrat, because he's had a tough time with Congress, because he's black?

RICH BENJAMIN, AUTHOR: Well, Brooke, we definitely had a Republican Congress who would have been an obstacle to any Democratic president. But I understand the difficulty he's talking about in untangling race from these issues because his opponents made immigration reform, health care reform, public spending -- race became a proxy for these issues and you heard dog-whistle politics into his presidency and even in this campaign. And when your opposition welds race into these issues, indeed, we shouldn't be surprised that it's difficult for this president to untangle what's race and what's not.

BALDWIN: He also talked about the full weight of his first election didn't hit him until his second term. He said, "The first inauguration" -- he said it's like your wedding. "It's a joyous moment and occasion but you're so busy and stressed, it ends up going by without you knowing what's happening, the second one you can savor. To win a majority the second time indicates we worked with a broad cross section of the country and they trusted what we were trying to do."

Mayor Nutter, he talks about other black politicians he thinks could rise to his level or could have in '08. He named former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Is there another Barack Obama?

[14:39:47] NUTTER: Well, Barack Obama is a unique individual and no one should try to be Barack Obama. I've always said to my fellow elected officials or former colleagues, be yourself. Certainly, you can aspire to some of the characteristics of a Barack Obama, a Martin Luther King Jr, and so many, many others that we've seen in American history. But he's a unique individual. I think back to the Glenifel (ph) book, I believe the title was "The Breakthrough." I was in Boston in 2004 for our Democratic convention and heard this young Senator, who was running for office, and that speech which helped catapult him through the 2008 election.

So, yeah, first inauguration is kind of like a wedding. By the second one, you know the job and what's ahead but people seem to forget. Senator -- U.S. Senator Obama and U.S. Senator John McCain were running during the time of the Great Recession. And when the president had his hand on the Bible and took his oath of office, the country was in serious freefall. So, that was the focus, that was the effort in pushing through the economic recovery plan, pulling us back in the brink of collapse. There's collateral damage that goes with those efforts. Nobody was happy, but blamed him for a recession that he had nothing do with. So, you deal with your circumstance.

He was the right person at the right time. There's no question about it and then took on all the other issues that other presidents who are not African-American, who are not persons of color would not have to worry about.

BALDWIN: 29 more days of this current president.


NUTTER: Don't say that, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Come on, Mayor Nutter.

Mayor Michael Nutter, Rich Benjamin, thank you.


BALDWIN: Let's be optimistic and hopeful.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Speaking of Donald Trump, his cabinet is complete. It's a cabinet full of high ranking-members of the military, successful businessmen and women, many of whom are multimillionaires. You see their faces here.

But is there something more to it? Critics have pointed out it's not especially diverse. And now the "Washington Post" taking it a step further, asking whether the former reality TV star is holding a government casting calls of sorts. The president-elect has commented on looks and popular appeal of his picks. And his running mate specifically, and also secretary of defense. Here he was.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNTIED STATES: Indiana's unemployment rate -- and this is the primary reason I wanted Mike -- other than he looks very good. Other than he's got an incredible family, incredible wife and family.

They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have and it's about time. It's about time.



BALDWIN: OK, let me bring in national political correspondent, Karen Tumulty, who co-wrote this "Washington Post" piece about the right look that Trump may be looking for.

It was a great read, a fascinating read. Karen, you and Phillip Rucker writing this. It talked about a lot of his appointees have a certain look. How do you mean? KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORESPONDENT, WASHINGOTN POST:

Well, as he's trying to figure out who can do the job, it helps in Donald Trump's book if the candidate actually looks the part and don't forget one of his knocks on Hillary Clinton during the campaign was that she didn't have a presidential look and that people would want that look.

So not only in his own comments, but in -- people around him both on the record and on background say that if somebody has the look that he imagines in the particular role that he is casting, it gives them a real leg up, which helps explain why, for instance, secretary of state came down to Mitt Romney and Rex Tillerson, both of whom have this sort of full head of hair, corporate buttoned-up bearing, people who can sort of walk into a room and kind of own it.

BALDWIN: I'm listening to you.

And I want to get to John Bolton in just a second and the mustache. But I can hear in my head folks from the other side saying hang on a second, you look at their resumes, is it necessarily a bad thing if you're looking at Trump as a former TV executive, presentation maybe does matter more? Is that a bad thing?

TUMULTY: Well, his -- you know, the people around him, Jason Miller who, by the way, has a beard, just was appointed communications director said, you know, presentation is important because that is part of the whole communications strategy in their view.

BALDWIN: All right, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton was considered for secretary of state. You wrote that one of Trump's associates said, quote, "Donald was not going to like that mustache."


What did you find out?

TUMULTY: Well, it was interesting because it was not just that person, but a number of people that we talked to that said that. You know, again, John Bolton had many, many things working both in his favor and against him, but people around Trump said the mustache was in the latter category.

BALDWIN: Well, much have been made about his hair, but there you have it.

Karen Tumulty on the look. Thank you so much. From the "Washington Post."

[14:45:17] Next, just into CNN, the Syrian army has declared Aleppo free of armed groups. We'll take you live to the Turkish/Syrian border coming up.


BALDWIN: Breaking news out of Syria. The Syrian regime says it has taken full control of Aleppo, marking a major turning point in the country's five-year civil war. The Syrian state-run news reporting the last convoy carrying rebel fighters and their families have left, the evacuation of the border city is now complete.

CNN's Muhammad Lila is joining us from the border.

Muhammad, what are you hearing?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: This announcement was made a short time ago. Syrian state television breaking into regular programming to announce all groups have been evacuated from east Aleppo. Turkish state media saying the same thing.

It's one of the biggest turning points since the war began. You have to remember that part of east Aleppo was used by the rebels as a base for their operations for more than four years. And what this effectively means is that the city, A, is no longer divided but, B, it's now entirely under the control of the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad. A big, big defeat, no question, for the rebels who are regrouping in a province just north of Aleppo called Idlib, close to the Turkey border.

The question now is, well, what happens to the state of the revolution, when the rebels' home base is no longer their home base anymore.

BALDWIN: What then happens with Aleppo?

[14:50:02] LILA: Exactly. So, what we understand -- and the Syrian military has been announcing this for a couple days. They've said, look, once these last evacuees leave, the next step is to send in engineers to give the all clear and the regime wants people to move back to eastern Aleppo, they'll try hard based on previous reports what have's going on to get life back to normal somehow you know that's almost impossible when part of a city has been bombed almost every day for the last three or four years but that's their game plan, get life back to normal, rebuild and force the remaining rebels to realize that they should put down their weapons. That's been their game plan. And they announced it on state television. One of their military commander almost taunting the rebels, saying, look, you've lost the city, it's time for the remaining rebels to put down your arms, this is an unwinnable fight for you.

BALDWIN: Amazing. The regime says move back.

Also, a huge challenge, other than the obvious, the weather. We've been looking at the pictures, the snow, the subfreezing temperatures making this entire process massively difficult.

Muhammad Lila, thank you for your reporting all week. Thank you.

Straight ahead, into international manhunt. What law enforcement is revealing about what the suspect, who drove a truck through a crowded market in Berlin, about his past plans to want to commit terror attacks.

Plus, her story is one of bravery and perseverance. And last night, Cindy Stowell's dream of becoming a "Jeopardy" champion finally came to a close. Next, the contestant who brought her six-game winning streak to an end. What she was like to compete against. What a story this is. Stay here.


[14:54:57] BALDWIN: Cindy Stowell's run as a "Jeopardy" champion has come to an end, but this woman's bravery and her story of perseverance will live on for a long, long time. She won the legendary game show six times. Those episodes have just aired on television. But what the audience didn't know all the while was that back when the show taped during the summer that Cindy was fighting stage-4 colon cancer. She just recently died December 5. And after Cindy's streak ended with last night's show, "Jeopardy" posted a tribute video on Twitter. And in it, Stowell explains what she wants done with her more than $100,000 in winnings.


CINDY STOWELL, JEOPARDY CHAMPION WITH CANCER: I wanted to donate a lot of the money to cancer research, partly because -- this is hard and I'm sorry. Maybe I should pause or something like that. But I'm dying of cancer and I really would like the money that I win to be used to help others and so this seems like a good opportunity.


BALDWIN: Oh, how about that?

Joining me now, Sam Scovill, his victory that ended Cindy's six-game streak.

Sam, thank you for joining me today. Congrats on your win.


BALDWIN: But more importantly, I want to talk about your comrade over there at Jeopardy and what Cindy was like.

Did you even have a clue when you were taping the show what a brave woman you were competing against?

SCOVILL: No, the "Jeopardy" staff, to their credit, they didn't tell anybody about Cindy's condition. There were some clues about -- that she wasn't 100 percent but nothing to suggest she had stage-4 cancer at all. Even with the assumptions that I had which were -- didn't come close to how she was, I still saw her perform. And she did -- obviously, she did incredible on that program.

BALDWIN: So when you found out you were totally shocked?

SCOVILL: Absolutely. I was shocked and I was guilt ridden, too. I'll be honest, I took it hard knowing that I was going to be the one that ended up defeating her on Jeopardy.

BALDWIN: Well, you're sitting here on national TV and talking about her and what a graceful woman and fierce competitor. What kind of competitor was she with you?

SCOVILL: Well, she was a very nice person, most people they get on "Jeopardy" -- and this is a credit to their work -- they choose some very wonderful very nice people to go on the show and the people that I was with that week were all exceptional, intelligent and competitive people but they were fair, they wanted the best for everybody even though they knew one person had to be the winner on each society but they knew what kind of opportunity and experience it was and how great the whole thing was so the overall experience even with now knowing Cindy's condition and how that ended up is still an incredible experience and I'm glad to have had it.

BALDWIN: Her boyfriend was in the audience. He's obviously been a huge supporter of hers and we've heard from him. Did you get a sense of the family support?

SCOVILL: Unfortunately, "Jeopardy" doesn't allow us to talk to any other audience members when we're at the program so I didn't get to meet him in person during the tapings, however in the past weeks I've reached out to him on twitter and he's been an incredible person. He's been giving out support at a time when he should be receiving it and I'm impressed by the quality of person he's been. And Cindy was lucky to have him in her life.

BALDWIN: Before I let you go, you tweeted a request for donations to cancer research. Did you know Cindy's plans for her own prize money? What do you make of her announcement that she'll give a lot of hers to cancer research in.

SCOVILL: I had no idea that was going to happen at all. I didn't know until the -- until her passing. Pretty much the same time I found out about her passing. It's been very inspiring. I'll be donating a portion of my winnings as well do cancer research institute. I think it's the right thing to do. I can't say I'm going to do all of it. I have to be a little bit selfish if you can forgive me for that.

BALDWIN: Forgiven.

SCOVILL: But I think it's the right thing to do.

BALDWIN: That's wonderful. Just the fact that you are giving a portion tells me what kind of human you are.

Sam Scovill, thank you so much and good luck with "Jeopardy."

SCOVILL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Let's continue on.

Hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Got some breaking news for you that we now know that the suspect behind the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin was known not only to authorities in Europe but also right here in the United States.