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Trump's Pick for Israeli Ambassador; Trump on Germany and Turkey Attacks; Health of the U.S. Economy; Trump Team Floats New Tariff; Fallen Champion's Jeopardy Run Ends. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 22, 2016 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Ideas that deviate from U.S. policy over the past few decades.

Let's discuss it. Joining us now is former independent senator and former Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman.

Senator, great to have you here in studio.

JOE LIEBERMAN (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be here. Good morning. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: What do you think of David Friedman?

LIEBERMAN: Well, full disclosure at the outset, David Friedman is a personal friend of mine. When I left the Senate, I became senior counsel in a law firm in which he's one of the founding partners. So --

CAMEROTA: And you're the perfect person to talk to --

LIEBERMAN: Exactly. I mean, once -- so I like him a lot. I think he's extremely capable. I don't agree with him on everything he's ever said. But I think the most important thing is that President-elect Donald Trump wants David Friedman to be the ambassador to Israel. In other words, he has the confidence of the president-elect.

CAMEROTA: Well, look, Mr. Friedman has said a lot of controversial things, but let's -- his positions on things.

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So let's dive into some of those. First, he wants to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What do you think?

LIEBERMAN: So I'm for that. I mean, let me say generally, before I get to that, that I think you're going to find in the weeks ahead, in the confirmation process, on David Friedman that it's going to be very clear that he wants -- he and President Trump want to be part of achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and that some of the things he said really don't reflect what he believes and I think you'll find along the way --

CAMEROTA: Uh-huh. LIEBERMAN: That he -- he will express some regrets. Not about this

position about --

CAMEROTA: Right. I know.

LIEBERMAN: Moving the capital.

CAMEROTA: I think what you're referring to is the two-state solution.

LIEBERMAN: No. Maybe -- no, I don't -- maybe, but I --

CAMEROTA: He's against that.

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: He's opposed to the two-state solution. And he's said very controversial things to people who support it.

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: J Street, the organization that is pro-Israel that calls itself pro-peace and that supports it, I'll just -- let's just go right there, right now, because it is the most controversial.

LIEBERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: He has said J Street support -- "are J Street supporters really as bad as kapos? The answer, actually, is no. They are far worse than kapos -- Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps. They are just smug advocates of Israel's destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas. It's hard to imagine anyone worse."

LIEBERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: This has got a lot of attention.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, it has. I totally disagree with that statement and find it unfair and offensive. And I've said this to David, and I think he will make clear that that's one of the statements he regrets having made.

CAMEROTA: Really?

LIEBERMAN: I believe so. But I'm going to leave it to him.

CAMEROTA: But it's your understanding that he regrets that and that he would back off of that statement because he's been asked a couple of times and he hasn't backed off of it.

LIEBERMAN: Well, let -- let -- let's see what happens. But I think he -- he feels that he's said that in the heat of the campaign in which he was really trying his hardest to advocate for Donald Trump. But let's go back --

CAMEROTA: Hold on. LIEBERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: One last beat on this. Does Mr. Trump support a two-state solution?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I don't know. That -- I mean, incidentally, that's the important question because David Friedman may have a point of view. But when he -- if he's confirmed, as the ambassador to Israel, he is the representative of the president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: Right.

LIEBERMAN: So it's -- so it's really a question of what the president of the United States has done. Let me put it this way -- incidentally, to be very clear, I strongly support a two-state solution. To me, I've looked at every other alternative over the years for achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians and you can't do it unless you recognize the right of the Palestinians to have their own state. So I've -- here's -- this much I've heard President-elect Trump say. He really would like to be part of achieving the ultimate agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

LIEBERMAN: You can't do that without ending up with two states. So --

CAMEROTA: Well, but I mean the idea that he would choose David Friedman suggests to some that maybe he is not committed to the two- state solution, since David Friedman has been so vocal about being a critic of it.

LIEBERMAN: So, again, I think as this process goes on, David Friedman speaks out, he has his confirmation hearing, I think you're going to find what I believe, even though I disagree on this question of a two- state solution, that he really wants to be part of bringing peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And I think part of what's in his mind, and President-elect Trump, is that they don't want the United States to be in a position to be pressuring Israel to make an agreement that Israel wouldn't otherwise make. But the U.S. has a, I think, an indispensable role here in trying to mediate and negotiate between Israelis and Palestinians.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Trump has even said that he would like to somehow enlist the help of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner --

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: To help find peace in the Middle East. What do you think about that?

LIEBERMAN: I think that's fine. I mean and here's why I think it's fine. I know Jared a little bit, not a lot. He seems very capable to me. But, obviously, if he's in meetings in the Middle East, or meeting with leaders there, everybody's going to know that he, like David Friedman, really represents the president of the United States. So it's not just with all respect sort of a career foreign service officer. These are people real close to the president.

[08:35:17] And we're at a moment of opportunity in the Middle East in this sense, that it is quite clear that the relations between Israel and the Arab nations are closer than they have ever been before, particularly because they share a concern, a fear about Iran. They have common interests. But, the Arab nations won't come out with this closer relationship to Israel, in my opinion, unless there's progress between the Israelis and Palestinians.

CAMEROTA: So, quickly, you do support the idea of moving the embassy to Jerusalem?

LIEBERMAN: I do. And I don't think it decides an issue that's undecided, which is the status of Jerusalem. And here's why. The embassy -- and, incidentally, I co-sponsored the bill in 19 -- in the 1990s, along with Senator Trent Lott, which asked for our embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. Here's why. Israel is the only country in the world, as far as I know, where we don't have our embassy in the city the host country designates as its capital. And where are we going to put it? Everybody agrees it's going to be in a part of Jerusalem that has been Israeli since the creation of the state in 1948. So it's not in land on the periphery that's in dispute in the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

The only reason you wouldn't -- I mean you'd have to argue against moving the embassy to Jerusalem based on the fact that you don't think there will be Jews in Jerusalem anymore. And, you know, that's just not an acceptable position.

CAMEROTA: Senator Joe Lieberman, thank you. Great to talk to you this morning. Thanks for coming in.

LIEBERMAN: A pleasure. Be well.

CAMEROTA: You too.

LIEBERMAN: Happy -- Happy Holy Days.

CAMEROTA: You too.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's get to Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, there's a lot to break down. Let's get the bottom line, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:41:01] CUOMO: The president-elect and his team taking on big subjects. What to do about terror. What to do about trade.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" on the ideas, and the realities. Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein, and CNN business correspondent and "Early Start" anchor, our friend, Christine Romans. Not that you're not, Ron. You know we're (INAUDIBLE).

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: But let me say to you --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: Let's start with what's going on in Berlin. Donald Trump says, I was right, it's Islamic terror. No surprise there. And he says, that's why I'm 100 percent right about what to do about it. We talk to Kellyanne Conway. They're backing away from the idea of targeting Muslims. I asked her directly several times, of course, will Muslims be something that is on your checklist? She said no.

CAMEROTA: Oh.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: Speechless.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, that was -- yes, no, that was the place where he ended in the campaign. Look, first of all, it was -- it was -- it was enjoyable to watch you and Kellyanne exchange your holiday pleasantries this morning. But, look, I mean, Donald Trump did move during the campaign. And I think, although his words yesterday were -- or the other day were kind of characteristically a little opaque, it suggested that he is going forward in the same place where he ended, where he had moved from the complete and total ban, as he put it in his original statement on Muslims entering the U.S., to something that would be more region specific, essentially saying we will still pretty significant change in policy where you're saying, we will completely ban immigration on a temporary basis from certain countries until we have established standards for extreme vetting. My guess is what that -- that is what he was referring to yesterday and that is what -- how we will move forward.

But, again, it's a little hard to tell because this entire process has lacked precision and multiple positions -- he has espoused positions that are different from what is on the website at any given moment. But it does seem like that is where -- where he ended the campaign, I think, is where he seems to be signaling he will be going forward as president.

CAMEROTA: Let's move on to the economy. Christine, obviously we've been talking about tariffs, and the suggestion that Mr. Trump would like to impose 5 percent tariffs on foreign imports. You also have some new numbers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN MONEY CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

CAMEROTA: I know that you want to break. So give us (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: Brand new numbers on GDP. This is the broadest gauge of how the economy is doing, what we make, what we produce, what we import. It's strong. 3.5 percent. The strongest in more than two years here. A couple years ago, in the middle of 2014, you had a 5 percent quarter, 3.5 percent here. When you look at the strongest growth in two years, here's why. Exports. You look at consumer spending. Higher inventories. Federal government spending. These are all the things that are driving growth here. We also saw that companies are investing in equipment, and in software. All of that suggests that the economy is humming along here. It is one of those pieces of economic news that again is a tailwind for Donald Trump as we head into next year.

CUOMO: He says he's going to get it to 4 percent.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ROMANS: Yes.

CUOMO: And one of the ideas of how that just came out is the team supposedly discussing a tariff on imports of 5 percent.

ROMANS: Yes.

CUOMO: The Romans' take?

ROMANS: The Romans' take is, the easiest way to absorb 5 percent tariffs across the board, if you're a company, do you take it out of your profit or do you just pass it on to consumers? So this morning a lot of folks are saying --

CUOMO: That's a rhetorical question.

ROMANS: They're saying it's a tax.

CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: The business community is saying, this would be a tax on consumers, five percent, not big enough to force companies to relocate jobs to the U.S. and just small enough that you could try to shoot it in as a little tax on consumers. That's the business industry view. And this is floated by the campaign, we're told, as they try to figure out just how fierce the opposition is. It's pretty -- it's pretty fierce.

CAMEROTA: Ron --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: We just had Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from Michigan on earlier in the program. She said that for her voters, for the factory workers in her state, for the working class, they like the sound of this.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, look, you know, we have seen the parties in their base of voters switch positions on trade. I mean the Democratic Party is now more of the pro-trade party than the -- than the Republican Party. The problem is, is that, first of all, for a lot of those blue collar and nonurban voters, as Christine said, this is a tax. I mean they have -- they rely on, in many cases, the low prices that are produced by lower cost imports to deal with stagnating wages over the past several decades.

[08:45:21] CAMEROTA: Right, but then then why do they like it?

BROWNSTEIN: That's why they like it. Now, on the other hand, it is also true that, you know, if you kind of look at this kind of geographically, Hillary Clinton won fewer than one-sixth of the counties in America. She won fewer than 500 counties. But according to research by Brookings, her counties accounted for two-thirds of all the economic output in the country. She won the places that are kind of integrated into the global economy by and large. Most integrated into the global economy, that are kind of the most export-facing, metropolitan areas, increasingly exporting services and intellectual property. That is kind of the heart of the modern Democratic coalition. And I think for many Donald Trump voters outside of those urban centers, this will sound good. But there will be a cost at the bottom line, as many people are doing their last-minute Christmas shopping in places like Walmart, whether they want to hear that prices are going to be going up 5 percent, that's another question once it becomes a real (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: Right. That's -- that's the paradox.

ROMANS: And the optics here are brilliant. You know, Donald Trump standing there yesterday, calling the Boeing CEO in, or calling CEOs in and saying, you know, look, I expect you to keep costs down for the American tax payer. He is standing up as the guy who is speaking for the -- for the men and women who have had no voice all of these years.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

ROMANS: But when you tell people, you could actually have a higher grocery bill or a higher bill when you go to, you know -- you know, go back to school shopping if indeed you start putting tariffs on. And the business community says this is just a trade sledge hammer, that it's not -- it's not a scalpel and in trade policy you need to have a scalpel.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

ROMANS: We'll have to see.

CUOMO: The promise of the talk. The reality of the walk.

What is your take? Tweet us on NEW DAY. You can get Alisyn by name. You can get me by name. You can post your comment on facebook.com/newday.

CAMEROTA: Well, before she passed away from cancer, Cindy Stowell had quite a run on "Jeopardy." That run came to an end last night. So we're going to ask Cindy's brother how she felt about fulfilling this lifelong dream.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:50:45]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our returning champion, a science content developer from Austin, Texas, Cindy Stowell, whose six-day cash winnings total $103,803.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Cindy Stowell was battling more than her fellow competitors on "Jeopardy" during that six-game winning streak, but that ended yesterday. Here is the amazing part. Cindy appeared on "Jeopardy!" nearly two weeks after she had passed away. Joining us now is Cindy's brother Greg Stowell.

Greg, we're so sorry for your loss. We know this is a hard day for you.

GREG STOWELL, BROTHER OF FALLEN JEOPARDY WINNER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Greg, what was it like to watch your sister on this six-day winning streak?

STOWELL: It's kind of an emotional roller coaster. It's bittersweet. I got to be there in person for the tapings, so I -- I kind of knew the outcome. And despite knowing the ultimate outcome, I, you know, still ended up cheering for her and -- with my wife and kids.

CUOMO: What do you think it meant for your family, for her partner of so many years, to see her living out what was part of her dream during the hardest part of her fight?

STOWELL: I got to be there when she actually got the notice that she would be scheduled for the tapings, and she was absolutely glowing. It's something she had been trying to do for, you know, since she was an early teenager she tried and made it to -- won like the regional written test part and competing against, you know, kids that were in college. So --

CAMEROTA: Yes. And last night Alex Trebek talked about that. He talked about how it was a lifelong dream of hearse. Let's play a little moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX TREBEK, "JEOPARDY!" HOST: For the past six "Jeopardy" programs, you folks have been getting to know the talented champion Cindy Stowell. Appearing on our show was the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition for that lady. What you did not know is that when we taped these programs with her a few weeks ago, she was suffering from stage four cancer. And, sadly, on December 5th, Cindy Stowell passed away. So from all of us here at "Jeopardy!," our sincere condolences to her family, and her friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Oh, boy, Greg, that is -- that's so touching to just watch that moment after everybody was cheering on Cindy and so excited for her. She won a lot of money. What did she tell you she wanted to do with that?

STOWELL: Cindy wanted to donate her money to the Cancer Research Institute. And any viewers who wanted to donate any money to the Cancer Research Institute can do so easily through www.cancerresearch.org. I think she kind of felt that she wanted to do some good with it. And she couldn't take it with her, I guess.

CUOMO: Well, but while she couldn't take it with her, she could spread it to so many who need it. And, listen, Greg, we know this isn't a conversation you want to have, being on TV talking about your sister. We know how hard this is for you and your family. But, you had somebody very special in your life who wanted people to know things about the needs and about what it takes to fight cancer. She wanted that to be part of her legacy. So what do you want people to know about who she was and what mattered to her?

STOWELL: Cindy was very kind. She -- if she believed in something, she wouldn't back down no matter how bloodied she get fighting for it. And I think this is one of those causes.

CAMEROTA: We know that as kids you guys would watch "Jeopardy!" together with your grandparents. I think we've all had that experience.

STOWELL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: But not all of us are as smart as Cindy to be able to pull that off.

STOWELL: You know, and I definitely -- "Jeopardy!" was not my thing. That was hers from as long as I can remember.

CUOMO: It's hard for you to get better at it when someone next to you gets the answers right all the time.

[08:55:02] STOWELL: Yes. Exactly.

CAMEROTA: Chris knows that feeling.

But, Greg, thank you. Thank you for sharing your sister with us, and we will help direct people to what her legacy was with those funds. Thank you very much.

STOWELL: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Yes. God bless the family, especially around the holidays. Thank you for the gift of letting us know more about your sister.

STOWELL: Thank you.

CUOMO: Whew, that is some story. As a segue, you think you could beat me at "Jeopardy!"?

CAMEROTA: Well, I do know the answers to more things than you. But, I don't know, should we have a "Jeopardy!" playoff? CUOMO: That is -- that is the craziest thing I've ever heard. That's

-- we've got some great "Good Stuff" coming up for you, next. And that was divorced from (INAUDIBLE).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: "Good Stuff." Here's something that will get you in the holiday spirit. These Boy Scouts in New Mexico are selling Christmas trees to raise money for their upcoming trips. They've still got tons left over. So what did they decide to do?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody just sat there and went, we can't take these to the recycling center. Like, we just can't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to give away the rest of the trees to families in need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: So, the troop encouraging people to come down to the lot in Albuquerque and pick out any tree they want for free.

CAMEROTA: That's fantastic. Love that story. And seasonal.

CUOMO: Or are you upset that you didn't wait and paid the $25?

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I would have had to have driven to Albuquerque, but maybe it's worth it. I don't know. I'd have to calculate that.

CUOMO: So you're saying (INAUDIBLE) on gas.

[09:00:01] CAMEROTA: Right. I'd have to run the numbers.

CUOMO: OK. Win-win?

CAMEROTA: Win-win.

Time for "NEWSROOM" with Erica Hill in for Carol Costello.

Good morning, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, nice to see you both this morning. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Have a good one.

HILL: NEWSROOM starts now.