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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Christmas Market Attack Suspect Killed in Shootout; Feds Warn of ISIS Threats to U.S. Churces, Holiday Events; Trump Receives "Very Nice" Letter from Putin; Trump on U.N. "Things Will Be Different After Jan. 20th"; "Star Wars" Actress Carrie Fisher Hospitalized After Cardiac Event. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 23, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: "Outfront" next, the chief suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack shot to death in Italy. More suspects still on the loose. Plus Trump sparring with Putin over nukes.
Well, talking about improving relations with Russia, will Russia be Trump's friend or Trump's foe? And "Star Wars" actress, Carrie Fisher, suffers a heart attack during a transantlantic flight.
We have the latest tonight in her condition. Let's go "Outfront.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow, in for Erin Burnett. Tonight "Outfront," breaking news on the Berlin terror suspect, shot dead.
Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Tunisian man wanted for the brutal truck attack that killed 12 people and injured 48 others in the Berlin Christmas market, shot and killed by Italian police in the middle of the night. The suspect, considered the most wanted man in Europe, was stopped by officers on a routine patrol, pulling a gun on them after being asked for identification.
This, as the FBI and homeland security issue a grim warning -- a warning that ISIS sympathizers continue to call for attacks on holiday gatherings and are now targeting churches around the country. Erin McLaughlin is "Outfront" tonight in Berlin.
And -- And Erin, now that the prime suspect in this Berlin attack is dead, what and who are investigators turning to next?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, German authorities are working to try to figure out just how a 24-year-old man on a terror watch list was able to hijack a 25-ton truck, plow it through the Christmas market just behind me killing 12 and then escape undetected across three different European countries. Authorities here fear he had help.
MCLAUGHLIN: Anis Amri, the chief suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack gunned down outside a subway station near Milan, Italy in the early morning hours.
MARCO MINNITI, ITALIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): A police patrol stopped a suspicious person in the area of Sesto San Giovanni in Milan at 3:00 this morning.
MCLAUGHLIN: Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian was standing alone in a piazza. The police, unaware this was Europe's most wanted man, asked him for identification.
ROBERTO GUIDA, HEAD, SESTO SAN GIOVANNI POLICE STATION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): He was absolutely calm when he was stopped. He started getting his things out of his pockets and his backpack when suddenly, in a totally unexpected way, he pulled out a weapon.
MCLAUGHLIN: According to Italian police, Amri shouted, "bastard cops" while firing a 22-caliber handgun. One officer was injured.
The second officer then shot and killed the suspected terrorist. According to ANSA, the Italian news agency, Amri apparently made his way from Berlin to Chambery, France. There, according to tickets found on his body, he took a train to Turin, Italy then on to Central Station, Milan, arriving at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, about two hours before the final confrontation with police.
Hours later, an ISIS-linked news agency released video of Amri, pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But in it, Amri makes no mention of the Christmas market attack.
ISIS also released a statement that didn't name Amri but said, quote, "The perpetrator of the Berlin attack carried out a new attack on an Italian police patrol." He was killed during an exchange of gunfire.
CNN, learning Amri carried out the attack while being considered one of the most dangerous Islamists in Germany. An intelligence official there says the 24-year-old Tunisian was added to a threat list nine months before Monday's attack.
Now, German police remain on high alert, investigators turning their focus to possible accomplices who may have helped Amri as he moved across three European countries.
MCLAUGHLIN: Now, no arrests have been made so far as part of this investigation. Tonight, CNN spoke to Amri's brother in Tunisia.
He apologized on behalf of the suspected terrorist. He also said that he spoke to Amri last Friday, asked him if he had plans to come home. Amri replied no, that he had no money.
HARLOW: Erin McLaughlin, live for us tonight in Berlin. Erin, thank you for the reporting. Now, in the United States, where the FBI tonight is issuing a new warning of possible ISIS threats just before Christmas and Hanukkah. Our Shimon Prokupecz has been working his sources. He is "Outfront"
Shimon, what are your hearing?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, this -- this bulletin, which was issued just a few hours ago, comes on the heels of a pro-ISIS website that sympathizers frequent, calling on attacks, calling for them to attack churches across the country. The website listed thousands of churches in this country, listed addresses, listed the names of the churches, and has called on its followers to go ahead and launch some kind of an attack.
There is some concern about this. And therefore, the FBI, along with the Department of Homeland Security decided to go ahead and issue this bulletin calling on police officers and private security companies to be extra vigilant.
HARLOW: Right, of course, especially ahead of the holidays and following that attack in Germany. But Shimon, I mean, law enforcement sources are telling you, right, that there are no known specific credible threats here in the United States, that said, clearly enough, though, to prompt them to issue this warning.
PROKUPECZ: Absolutely. That's right, Poppy. There is no credible threat. You know, this is what they like to say.
We don't know of anything that's going to happen. But I will tell you, in talking to some of the law enforcement sources that we here at CNN deal with, there is -- there was enough concern because the website they know -- the FBI knows is frequented by ISIS sympathizers...
PROKUPECZ: ...by ISIS supporters. So there is concern that they're going to -- someone who's just like on the edge, who's just about to launch an attack may use this as sort of a reason to go ahead and attack a church, which is considered a soft target.
Normally, there isn't a lot of security around churches.
PROKUPECZ: So there is a lot of concern about this. And that's why they went ahead and launched and released this bulletin.
HARLOW: Yes. All right, Shimon, great reporting as always. Please keep us posted. Thank you.
Joining me now to talk about all of that, Art Roderick, former assistant director of the U.S. Marshall Service. Juliette Kayyem is also with us, the former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, and . Arkedis, former Department of Defense counterterrorism and counterintelligence official.
Art, let me begin with you on what Shimon just reported on this concern about the United States, this new potential threat in the United States, looking at churches, looking at these soft targets over the holiday weekend. I mean, what should Americans do with that information?
Of course, my -- my immediate thought was do I take my family, my daughter to church tomorrow?
. ARKEDIS, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Well, obviously...
ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALL SERVICE: Yes, Poppy, I think -- sorry, I think Americans should continue with their religious celebrations. They should go to their churches, go to their schools, continue with the social gatherings.
The threat stream here is not very specific at all. And -- and I think here, this is mainly to put law enforcement and security companies on alert and for Americans also attending these -- these religious ceremonies to be extra individuality, to know their what their surrounding are...
RODERICK: ...but enjoy the holidays and continue with the festivities that they have planned.
HARLOW: And Juliette, I mean, given your -- given your broad experience in this sector, I mean, to be clear, as Shimon just said, U.S. authorities aren't saying that an attack is imminent. But they're taking it seriously.
They wouldn't just issue this warning in the wake of what happened in Germany, although that heightens alert. How much would they have to have to go on to issue something like this?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, there is a -- there has to be a broad consensus within the law enforcement intelligence community. One agency can't just do it.
There's multiple review process before they would come out with a bulletin like this. And as Art said, this is a bulletin to law enforcement essentially.
It is just, you know, sort of lean forward as we approach this. And I want to just be clear. While the Berlin was -- incident was -- would be relevant, it wouldn't have triggered something like this.
KAYYEM: I think what we're all hearing from law enforcement is it's the combination of ISIS, the holidays and of course, a presidential transition, which is always a heightened time as well. So I think all those combined but like -- you know, like Art, you know, this is relevant.
But it's nothing to make you -- anyone change their plans.
HARLOW: All right, let's turn to, obviously, the new developments in the Berlin attacker night (ph) because . , the -- the suspected attacker was able to somehow make it from Germany to Italy...
HARLOW: ...without being detected, was only found in the middle of the night after this routine I.D. check stop. How is that possible, given that we now know he was considered by German intelligence to be one of the most dangerous Islamists in the country?
And they knew that for months.
ARKEDIS: Well, let's -- let's be careful and put things in context because he was designated as a threat to the German state. And he was under surveillance for a period of several months over the course of mid-2016.
But because like all intelligence and all law enforcement agencies, they don't have, you know, an infinite amount of resources or money or personnel to track everybody constantly. So they watched him.
They believed he was involved in a drug ring. They believed he may have offered to serve as a suicide bomber using very coded language. But knowing that he was not it or he did not appear to be imminently going operational, sooner or later, they have to make a call that they are going to sort of let that surveillance lapse.
And that's -- that's standard practice across all law enforcement.
HARLOW: Well, Art, isn't the question also, from what . bring up, you know, do you apprehend someone or at least, you know, try to find some ground to take them into custody, to question them when you're hearing things this like about potential attacks, et cetera?
Or do you wait in the hopes that they they will lead you to the broader network?
RODERICK: And -- and that could exactly be the case here. I mean, they -- they might have been looking at a broader network.
But this individual raised a lot of red flags. And I think we have to take a deep, deep dive into this individual's background because when you look at the commitment he had to do this terrorist act, I mean, he committed a homicide to hijack that truck and use that as a battering ram to kill those dozen people.
We haven't seen that since 9/11, where an individual committed a murder in order to steal a conveyance (ph), 9/11 was the aircraft in this particular incident. We have a semi-truck (ph) to commit this type of crime. So that shows a higher level of commitment when I look at it just
strictly through a law enforcement lens. So yes, we've got to look at this individual.
And it also appears to me, based on that type of commitment and based on the fact that he committed this homicide prior to stealing the truck, was that he's probably -- there's probably other individuals that either assisted him or he did this at the direction of some terrorist group.
HARLOW: Well, and also the fact, Juliette, that he went through multiple countries to get back in Italy where he had lived, where he had been in jail before, where he likely knew people. And on his person, they only found a knife -- a relatively small knife, a few hundred euros.
He had no cellphone. I mean, aren't those all indications he could not have been doing this alone?
KAYYEM: Right, or that -- that he did not have an exit strategy. So there's some belief that maybe he had intended on dying in the process because there is videos and other things but sort of chickened out at the last stage, did not have an exit strategy. And returning back to Italy is not that surprising.
He really only had ties in two countries, not Tunisia where he's from but in Germany and Italy at that stage. So that is going to have to be reviewed to determine what exactly his plans were and just, you know, picking up on sort of how did he manage to stay in Germany.
What we're now finding with the timeline is that Germany was about to attempt to try to sort of essentially extradict him again. He may have been feeling that pressure and therefore acted.
So that's another lesson learned that, you know, that the longer you let people wait to be further (ph) deported to wherever they're going to be deported to, that -- that in those last days, they may actually plan on an attack.
HARLOW: Juliette, . , and Art, we appreciate it. Thank you, all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
HARLOW: "Outfront" next, the president-elect challenging Vladimir Putin, reportedly saying, let it be an arms race, then, thanking him for a, quote, "nice congratulatory and holiday letter." Where is our new relationship with the Russians headed?
Also, Trump tweeting about Russia, China, Israel and frequently contradicting the current U.S. president, why the unprecedented moves. And "Star Wars" actress, Carrie Fisher, suffering a heart attack while on a flight to Los Angeles.
We are live in L.A. tonight with the latest on her condition.
[19:12:57] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARLOW: Tonight, President-elect Donald Trump making public a letter he received from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump calling the letter, quote, "very nice." But is the president-elect just now releasing the letter to distract from his controversial tweet calling to strengthen and expand U.S. nuclear capability?
Ryan Nobles is "Outfront."
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, the curiously warm relationship between President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is on full display. The transition releasing a letter Putin wrote to Trump more than a week ago, where Putin writes that he hopes the U.S. and Russia will be able to, quote, "take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas."
In a statement, Trump describes the letter as, quote, "very nice" and says Putin's thoughts are so correct. The letter mirrors what Putin told reporters in Russia.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Trump said it would be proper to normalize. And it can't be worse. And I agree with him.
We will think about it together.
NOBLES: While Trump seems open to a friendly relationship with Russia, he's also warning that his administration won't back down if other countries begin to beef up their nuclear arsenals. After tweeting that the U.S. must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability, Trump was asked off-camera by an MSNBC host to clarify his message, Trump saying...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let it be an arms race because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.
NOBLES: Trump's incoming Press Secretary, Sean Spicer said, the president elect's tweets should be taken literally.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is going to put our nation's security and safety first. And he's not going to worry about how it's -- I mean, he's going to do it.
NOBLES: But Democrats are raising concerns about the impact of Trump's tweets around the world.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: We can't have a president who tweets one thing at 5 a.m. and then his press people walk it back at 7. That's just going to lead to chaos in our international relations.
And it's not just foreign policy that Trump is tweeting about.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: So Eric Trump everybody.
NOBLES: This morning, he bemoaned his son, Eric's decision to stop fundraising for his charitable foundation to avoid potential conflicts of interest charges. Trump who leveled relentless attacks on the Clinton Foundation during the campaign...
TRUMP: It's called pay-for-play.
NOBLES: ...today writing, "My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with my presidency. Isn't this a ridiculous shame?
He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them and now must stop. Wrong answer."
NOBLES: And Poppy, we are just hours away from Christmas eve. And the president-elect is not done tweeting.
In fact, in just the last few minutes, he tweeted again tonight. Let me read it for you. It says, "Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary Clinton and the Dems.
In my opinion, it is humiliating. One must be able to lose with dignity. So true." That tweet, as I mentioned, just coming in in the past few minutes.
So Poppy, if we thought the president-elect was going to wind things down for the holiday weekend, we were sadly mistaken.
HARLOW: Keep us all in our tows. Ryan Nobles, thank you.
NOBLES: Thank you.
HARLOW: "Outfront" tonight, Hogan Gidley is a Republican strategist. Nayyera Haq was a State Department spokesperson in the Obama administration.
And Abby Phillip is a national political reporter for "The Washington Post."
Glad to have you all with us. Let me begin with you, Hogan. To that latest tweet, Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary and Dems, "In my opinion, it is humiliating.
One must be able to lose with dignity." The election is over. Why is the president-elect still tweeting about this?
HOGAN GIDLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, he still has a little bad blood out there because after he did win, it was a legitimate election. And the Democrats wept kind of on a tirade to try and change the outcome by pointing to the popular vote and overturn the Electoral College.
They went on kind of a witch-hunt to all the electors, themselves directly to try and delegitimize Donald Trump. So I can understand why he would point that out because it seems like there were some sour grapes out there.
HARLOW: Well, what's the point of, I mean, wait...
GIDLEY: ...he shocked the political universe.
GIDLEY: No one saw that coming.
HARLOW: ...but Hogan, what is the point...
HARLOW: ...to -- to what end? He won.
GIDLEY: To his own -- to his own.
HARLOW: What, pride?
GIDLEY: I mean, look, this is who he is. This isn't anything new. He's done this the entire campaign.
HARLOW: I'm OK, but he's now going to be, in less than 30 days, the leader of the free world. To what end as they look, I won, look, I won, look, I won, even Putin says it's disgraceful what they did in the aftermath.
GIDLEY: His whole campaign was based around one word, winning. America loses, I can help America win.
GIDLEY: So when he wins, he's going to tout the fact he wins.
HARLOW: But he won.
GIDLEY: And he won't stop until everybody gets it.
Even when they get it, he tweeted (ph) again.
HARLOW: All right. And Nayyera?
NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT: That seems to be a part of -- yes, that -- that seems to be part of the problem, is that he -- he won. Get over it.
Let's get down to the business of governing and actually looking out, doing what's best for the entire American public, which is not just Trump supporters but are many people who are afraid of what might come in an administration that openly supports in courts white supremacists.
HARLOW: Obviously, the administration will take great issue with -- with that statement and disagree with you.
GIDLEY: Come on.
HARLOW: I want -- I want to get -- I want to get Abby in here.
Abby, let's talk about what Trump reportedly said today on -- to -- to MSNBC host, Mika Brzezinski, saying let it be an arms race. I mean, after decades of Republican and Democratic administrations focusing on reducing nuclear stockpiles, why do you think it is that Donald Trump would say that, which by the way, is the first aggressive statement he's made about Russia or Vladimir Putin yet in the campaign or now as president-elect?
ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, just to begin, I mean, I think both of these examples just illustrate how Trump uses social media to drive his narrative, to talk about what he wants to talk about and to get people kind of worked up about the things that he's saying on -- on Twitter. He knows that every time he talks about the election, people are also going to talk about that.
And that's part of the calculus here. And on nuclear weapons, I mean, I think that Trump is -- is articulating maybe what is in his core about what he thinks needs to be done on nuclear weapons.
I'm not entirely convinced that -- that there is a policy behind this, that there is a strategy behind this. I mean, as you saw, his aides are trying to walk that back...
PHILLIP: ...because they don't have having anything behind it to really push out...
HARLOW: But the (ph) interesting...
PHILLIP: ...and say this is the direction that we want to go.
HARLOW: ...it's an important and interesting point, Hogan. I'd love your take on it because that's right, I mean, Jason Miller (ph) came out and said, actually, you know, his tweet was talking about nuclear proliferation and reducing stockpiles, et cetera. That's not at all what he tweeted.
And it was very unclear during the campaign where he stood on nuclear weapons because at one point, he said, you know, he -- he vehemently opposes nuclear weapons, et cetera and seem to be in line with past administrations in terms of reducing stockpiles. And then he said, well, maybe we should just let South Korea, Japan, perhaps Saudi Arabia, you know, arm themselves with nuclear weapons so we don't have to step in and always be -- be defending them.
Do you -- I mean, what do you say to Abby who says perhaps it's not thoroughly backed up with a clear policy?
GIDLEY: Oh, it hasn't been backed up with a clear policy yet. He's obviously not the president-elect.
This tweet, in my opinion, and for whatever a political pundit's worth which isn't much, is that he was talking about winning. No one's going to mess with us.
My whole campaign was run on protecting America first, building a wall, those types of things. And this is more bravado (ph) from Donald Trump.
It's unclear whether he's going to be able to back that up. But look, even Barack Obama talked about modernizing the nuclear program to the tune of about a trillion dollars.
So publicly, we had these conversations about nuclear weapons. Obviously, the use of nuclear weapons is an incredibly intense...
GIDLEY: ...that -- that send shock waves from the American president...
HARLOW: Modernizing -- modernizing -- modernizing is different...
GIDLEY: ...well, the president-elect (ph) addresses that across the international community.
HARLOW: ...modernizing is different than strengthen and -- and expand.
HAQ: And it's -- it's just very different than -- it's actually been completely inconsistent with how Democrats and Republicans alike in previous administrations have talked about nuclear security. I mean, Ronald Reagan would be rolling over in his grave right now.
And it's a shame that more Republicans aren't speaking out against this idea of starting a new nuclear arms race. I mean, Ronald Reagan was the father of bringing down tensions and this start treaties and reducing nuclear stock piles.
HAQ: At the end of the day, the United States doesn't need anymore nuclear weapons. What we need is a coherent international policy and statements that other leaders can figure out -- that help other leaders figure out where the United States stands.
This idea of going back and forth and keeping people guessing works great potentially for a domestic political strategy but wreaks havoc internationally on how people perceive U.S. leadership.
PHILLIP: There is a problem here, though, with -- with spending a lot of time assuming things about what Trump means with his tweet. I mean, in the first place, the tweet was very vague.
I don't think it really spells out what he wants to do. It does not clearly...
PHILLIP: ...a program of modernization, nor does it spell out explicitly a program of...
HAQ: And then maybe, that's why he shouldn't be tweeting (ph).
HARLOW: Guys, I've got to leave it there. I've got...
HAQ: Maybe why he shouldn't be tweeting on serious national secretary issues...
HARLOW: I've got to leave it there. Hogan Gidley...
PHILLIP: But we can't jump to conclusions about it.
HARLOW: ...Nayyera Haq, Abby Phillip, guys, thank you very much. Obviously, a lot to talk about here. "Outfront" next, the U.S. ab stains as the United Nations votes to condemn Israeli settlements, the Obama administration stunning one of its closest allies, and President-elect Trump sparring with Putin and China challenging defense contractors to a bidding war, attempts to eclipse (ph) President Obama before he takes over the oval office, why?
HARLOW: Breaking news tonight, President Obama defies Israel in a stunning move today. The United States abstained as the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution condemning Israeli settlement.
As a permanent member of the security council, the Obama administration could have blocked the move with a veto but chose not to. Some top Republican and Democratic lawmakers tonight accusing the president of a abandoning Israel.
Donald Trump publicly called for a U.S. veto. He responded to the news today, tweeting, quote, "As to the U.N., things will be different after January 20.
Elise Labott is "Outfront" tonight from Washington.
And Elise, this is the president. This is the United States, in the last days of this administration, throwing out president (ph) when it comes to the U.S. relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East.
What does it mean in your mind long-term for U.S./Israeli relations going forward?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, I think that U.S. relations over the long-term are going to remain strong. It's really between the two countries.
It's -- it was very bad between the two recent leaders. But, you know, these kind of things ebb and flow. It's not unprecedented that the U.S. votes against Israel in the security council.
President H.W. Bush, President George Bush, President Clinton have done it. But this issue of settlements is so explosive.
The administration has called it an impediment to peace because it affects the lives of Palestinians on the ground. It impinges upon what they think could be a future state.
But for the Israelis and for the Trump administration that's coming in, they feel this would tie the next president -- President Trump's hands when he works to possibly make a Mid-East peace deal and negotiate Mid-East peace. I think over the long-term, the relationship will remain strong.
[19:30:00] But I do think that President Trump is going to be under pressure now to come in, to show -- to overcompensate, if you will about friendliness with Israel.
LABOTT: And he's already been leaning in that direction, right, because he already said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. He appointed a controversial ambassador, David Friedman, who is very supportive of settlements, not only of expanding them, but of annexing the World Bank.
So, I think, you know, the Obama administration is leaving and you already heard Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking forward to working with the Trump administration.
LABOTT: They're already looking past Obama. HARLOW: His exact second half of his statement, after slamming the
U.S. and looking for to work with President-elect Trump, this as Trump tweets tonight, "As for the U.N., things will be different after January 20th."
How do you read that? I mean, is it likely he may pull financial support from the U.N.?
LABOTT: He may try. And it is not just him. You know, I just spoke to Senator Lindsay Graham just moments ago and he said that he's going to propose legislation to defund the United Nations if they don't overturn this resolution. The U.S. proposes, puts 1/5 of the U.S. budget.
And so, if they were to do that, that would be devastating to the U.N. And I think it's an effort to kind of create leverage for President- elect Trump when it comes into office. We'll see what happens. But it could be devastating to the U.N. budget. They don't know it will actually happen.
HARLOW: Elise Labott, thank you so much, on top of it all tonight. We appreciate it.
OUTFRONT also tonight, conservative radio host Ben Ferguson, host of "The Ferguson Radio Show", and Bakari Sellers is with us, former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Good to have you both.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening.
HARLOW: -- was it a mistake on the part of the Obama administration to abstain?
FERGUSON: I think a massive mistake. And I think also it is going to now officially show what many of us believe over the last years in the history books, that this is an administration that was blatantly not friendly to one of our biggest allies in the Middle East, Israel. And every time they had a chance to undermine Israel, they did this.
It also I think is incredibly spiteful, why you would do in this at the Security Council in this way. Almost seems like a personal vendetta from the Obama administration towards Israel or Netanyahu. And it is not going help any things in the Middle East.
If you want your legacy to be instability in the Middle East, this is a great way to go about doing it. And I think you are going to see a very different relationship under Donald Trump which will be welcomed by many in this country and many in Israel.
HARLOW: So, deputy NSA adviser, Ben Rhodes, saying tonight on CNN, that, you know, he obviously takes issue with that perspective on it, Ben. He says, this was done because we think, if there are more settlements, it would completely block the possibility of the two- state solution. We think this is what's needed to try to move forward on that front, also pointing out the massive financial assistance that the United States continues to give to Israel, pointing to a new $38 billion commitment. Bakari, do you think that this hurts U.S.-Israeli relations long-term?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it does not. No, Ben. It does not affect U.S./Israel relations. I think that it's pretty clear.
Let me just state out front, I disagree with the resolution. I think there is no place to negotiate piece between Israelis and Palestinians outside direct negotiation between two sides. I think the U.N. is not where you do so.
I also think that you can't also simply say that the east Jerusalem, for example, is unoccupied territory. I do not believe that it is. So, if I were president of the United States, of course, I would veto that.
But with all that being said, for Ben Ferguson and anyone else to come out and say that the president of the United States has turned his back on Israel is ahistorical and it's not factual. You can look at not only what Ben Rhodes about the $38 billion --
SELLERS: But, Ben, I'm actually speaking. You cannot only look at the $38 billion that the United States has given to Israeli in an MOU over a 10-year period, but you can look at the Iron Dome which protects Israel from rockets from Hezbollah and Hamas. You cannot only look at the Iron Dome and you cannot only look at the MOU, but you can also the fact that just last week --
FERGUSON: Bakari --
SELLERS: -- while I was in Israel just last week, you actually had F- 35s to come in. Israeli is the only country outside the United States that actually has F-35s which will protect it from harm. So, for anybody to actually say --
SELLERS: Ben, I'm actually going to finish my thoughts.
FERGUSON: Well, hurry, because you're running out the clock.
SELLERS: Because for anyone to say that Barack Obama has turned his back on Israel is just totally against the facts of the matter and that's not the case.
FERGUSON: Let's be clear, the majority of the things you just talked about are things that have actually gone through Congress --
SELLERS: That's not true.
FERGUSON: -- that were done in spite of the White House. SELLERS: That is not true. That is not true.
FERGUSON: People can decide --
SELLERS: MOU did not go through Congress.
FERGUSON: A lot of them, let's be clear. I said a lot of them --
SELLERS: That's not true.
FERGUSON: -- went trough Congress.
That is true. Look at what Congress does to Israel.
Second issue is this, when you act as if somehow that Barack Obama is a great friend to Israel, great friends stick up for you when you are at the U.N.
[19:35:01] The United Nations in the last year alone has had more resolutions anti-Israel than dealing with actual terrorist nations.
HARLOW: But, Ben, if you look at history and Elise makes the important point that this isn't unprecedented that U.S. administrations presidents, Republicans and Democrats, would vote against Israel in the Security Council.
SELLERS: But to be honest, Poppy, this is what the facts are and what Ben doesn't want you to know. Thirty times --
HARLOW: Ben, respond to the fact that this is not unprecedented, especially when it comes to the settlements issue.
FERGUSON: -- when you have United Nations that has become so anti Israel, and the last year of this is proof. Look at all the resolutions that the United Nations has gone after Israel instead of going to actual state terrorist nations that have been involved in terrorism. They have zeroed in on Israel.
And my point is this. If you are a true friend of someone, when they are being pushed into a corner and you see this happening in the United Nations, obviously, at that point, the president of the United States should have the intellect to look at that and go wow, they're being picked on, they're being treated differently by the United Nations, this is our ally, I'm going stand with them. And what he did today was he walked directly away from --
SELLERS: Thirty times.
FERGUSON: -- back on Israel.
SELLERS: Thirty times.
HARLOW: Bakari, to you. Bakari, I want to ask you about some of the reaction to this from members of both parties tonight, because the soon to be top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer tonight, calling it in a statement, quote, "extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding." That as Dianne Feinstein says the abstention sent a strong message that the U.S. still supports the two-state solution.
The president's own party is split on this.
SELLERS: Not only that, but Ben is absolutely incorrect. Thirty times, if you count, thirty times, you had anti-Israel resolutions passed between Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, I'm just glad Twitter wasn't around because Ben Ferguson would be blasting George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan at that time.
Do you know how many anti-Israel resolutions do you have passed the U.N. Security Council since Barack Obama has been president of the United States? One. One.
And although I'm disappointed that today's resolution passed because I do not agree with it at all, you cannot say that Barack Obama is not a friend of Israel. With that all being said --
HARLOW: Ben, it is -- first one in this administration --
SELLERS: Just one. But I want to answer Poppy's question directly --
FERGUSON: Just one is a real number.
SELLERS: There is no -- just one outside -- when you look at thirty under George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. When you look at six under George W. Bush, you look at one today --
SELLERS: The fact of the matter is settlements are a hot button issue. I do not agree with anyone who will tell you that, for example, East Jerusalem where all the holy sites are, are somehow occupied territory, that Israel should move out. I do not agree with that. I agree with Chuck Schumer. I agree with Dianne Feinstein on that. However, there are many --
HARLOW: Ben, final thought --
(CROSSTALK) FERGUSON: History is going to show something. This is the day in time where Barack Obama is going to be remembered over the last eight years where he really has not every truly stood up and truly been a genuine ally to Israel. And when he left office, this was to send a very clear message that he was not going to go down in history as someone that truly was a friend of Israel and that's what the American people need to remember. And it's going to be very different under Donald Trump, thank goodness.
SELLERS: That's absurd.
FERGUSON: That's not absurd. He did it today.
HARLOW: Ben Ferguson, Bakari Sellers, we're out of time guys. Thank you very, very much.
HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump publicly contradicting President Obama on key policy issues. Why the Obama administration is saying one president at a time.
Also ahead tonight, "Star Wars" actors Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack during a transatlantic flight. We have the latest on her condition live from Los Angeles, straight ahead tonight.
[19:42:53] HARLOW: Tonight, President Obama versus President-elect Trump. A White House official says, quote, "There's on president at a time. President Obama is the president of the United States."
This comes as Donald Trump continues to speak out on a number of international issues contradicting the president.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President-elects are expected to make headlines with their cabinet picks, but Donald Trump is going a lot further, issuing statements on trade with China, talking about renegotiating government fighter jet contract, and calling the recent attacks in Europe terrorism, even before investigators or the White House confirmed it.
TRUMP: It's an attack on humanity and it's got to be stopped.
FOREMAN: Inauguration is still four week way, but President Obama is feeling hurried out the door, team Trump does not seem concerned.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If the president- elect wants to get things done, he's going to get things done.
FOREMAN: The latest example, Mr. Trump tweeted, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability." That prompted a swift outcry from nuclear weapons opponents and a strong reply from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Today, the Russian Federation is stronger than any potential aggressor. If someone accelerates and speeds up the arms race, it's not us.
FOREMAN: The president-elect did not back down a bit. Indeed, a co- host of "Morning Joe" says he told her off camera, "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass, and outlast them all."
SPICER: What it means is that he's not going to sit back and let another country act. He needs to send a clear and concise message, which he's done, that he's going to be a president that defends America's interests and defends the American people.
FOREMAN: And on it goes. At the United Nations, the president-elect urged the White House to veto a resolution to stop Israeli settlements. Instead, the administration abstained, the measure passed, and a frustrated tweet quickly followed. "Things will be different after January 20th."
Political historians know that outgoing and incoming presidents often clash, but rarely so openly, and it could be risky.
[19:45:01] JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: If you hear two different voices, especially from people with two different perspectives, at countries overseas or interests here in the United States might not know exactly what's going on.
FOREMAN: On the Democratic side, what you hear a lot of is people saying, look, when Barack Obama was taking office for his first term, they were already a lot of things going on with the economy he didn't like but he didn't say a whole lot about it until after he took the oath -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Tom Foreman, thank you.
OUTFRONT next, Carrie Fisher of "Star Wars" fame suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. We have the latest on her condition tonight.
HARLOW: Breaking news tonight, actress Carrie Fisher, in the hospital after suffering a cardiac event. Fisher best known for her role as Princess Leia in "Star Wars." He was on a flight from London to Los Angeles when she fell ill.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TOWER: 935 Heavy, I need the nature of the medical emergency and also the sex of the patient, and is there a medical personnel at the gate.
PILOT: Yes, we've coordinated medical personnel for the gate. We have some passengers, nurses, assisting the passenger. [19:50:02] We have an unresponsive passenger. They're working on her
right now. We're going to have them seated in about two minutes here, and we should hopefully be on the deck in about five.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARLOW: Stephanie Elam is live tonight in Los Angeles following the breaking news.
Obviously everyone is wondering how she's doing. What is the latest on her condition?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Poppy. It's just devastating for people to hear that this happened to Carrie Fisher. Obviously, she's a much loved actress and also screen writer as well and people really worried about the situation with her. We know she had this cardiac event on the plane and that fire department did respond to them. We know from her brother that she is still in intensive care at a hospital here in Los Angeles. The family asking for people to pray for Carrie Fisher at this point, Poppy.
HARLOW: Do we know what could have sparked this? Obviously, we know she was to be plane. It was near the end of a flight, right? A long flight from London to Los Angeles. And sounds like some passengers were helping.
ELAM: What we understand is that this was happening as the flight was approaching landing at LAX. They were closer to landing here when she started to feel ill on the flight, that they asked for medical people, personnel who are on the flight and that she was attended by people who are on the flight as well as other passengers and that they radioed in, as you heard, asking for help to meet them at the gate for this United flight, when it got to LAX, and that they were waiting for her and then transferring her to the hospital for further care.
But obviously, when you look at a history like this, there's so many people taking to Twitter. We've seen from people who are saying they were on the flight with her, that they saw that this happen to her. And we're also seeing people coming up from Mark Hamill, obviously, from "Star Wars", people tweeting their love and respect and hoping that she makes a full recovery here, Poppy.
HARLOW: Absolutely. Stephanie Elam live in Los Angeles, thank you so much.
And I want to go now to "Entertainment Tonight" host, Nischelle Turner. She joins me now by phone.
Nischelle, you heard Stephanie saying well-wishes obviously from all of her loved ones in Hollywood tonight. What has the response been what from you are hearing from people across Hollywood to this news?
NISCHELLE TURNER, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT HOST (via telephone): Well, Poppy, it's been widespread. Definitely, you heard Stephanie talk about some of her co-stars in "Star Wars" take to Twitter to send her well wishes, as have many people in the Hollywood community. We just saw her sister is also take to Twitter and gave well wishes. Julie is actually in a play in Laguna Beach out here in California right now.
And we do know within the last hour she has canceled her performance -- she's in "Sleeping Beauty." She has canceled her performance tonight. We don't know if she's going to return in the future but we do know it is because of the incident on the plane with her sister. She wants to make sure her sister is OK.
She is beloved. You talked earlier about that she's been known for playing Princess Leia. We just saw her reprise her role in "Star Wars" and she's had a long career. We do know she was actually in London filming the Amazon television series "Catastrophe" and apparently coming home for the holidays to spend with her family and also her daughter, who lives here in Los Angeles.
She's been on a book tour as well, has a very popular book out now.
TURNER: She's been traveling and doing a lot of interviews about this book about her life and about career.
HARLOW: Obviously, Emmy nominated actress, beloved by so many. And as you said, I mean, she's been so visible lately. She's been on this book tour. She's pretty young.
I mean, she's 60 years old. She's obviously filming, as you said, right now for this series. She's on a book tour. Nothing had been slowing her down.
TURNER: No, you are absolutely correct. Sixty years old is not old. And she's been very visible lately. You just saw her a month ago today at "Entertainment Tonight. We were with her on November 23rd and she was in great spirits. She looked good. She sounded good, was very, very funny, was trading kisses with my colleague Cameron Matheson (ph) who's interviewing her, having a lot of fun.
You know, she has made headlines lately because of her love life. She came out and admitted her and Harrison Ford had an affair when they were filming "Star Wars" all those many moons ago. She now says she wishes she hadn't admitted it, because it grew legs and really became a story. And she thinks it was a mistake to talk about it now.
But, you know, she's so funny and she's just a broad in the best possible way. She's just really loved by so many in Hollywood and we've seen so many people, bottom line, just saying to her today, may the force be with you, Carrie --
HARLOW: Yes. And we know actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, tweeted this, "As if 2016 couldn't get any worse, sending all of our love @carriefisher."
TURNER: Yes, definitely. He has -- he did do that today. And we also talked to (INAUDIBLE) Chewbacca, tweeted well-wishes as well today.
[19:55:03] There's a lot of people pulling for her and you saw Mark said that there, as if 2016 couldn't get any worse.
I think a lot of people really weighed down by a lot of the events of this year, and this is the last thing that anyone wanted to see right now at the end of 2016. So, we're all sending her well-wishes as well. She's very funny lady, a really lovely lady. So, we're all pulling for her.
HARLOW: Yes, certainly, one of a kind for sure.
Nischelle Turner, thank you so much for the reporting on that night.
Again, the headline there, Carrie Fisher hospitalized in Los Angeles after this cardiac event on the flight. Of course, as we get more, we'll bring to you
Quick break. We'll be right back.
HARLOW: Thanks much for joining us. Have a great holiday. A great weekend.
"AC360" begins right now.