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Feds Warn ISIS Might Target U.S. Churches; U.S. Abstains In U.N. Vote Against Israeli Settlements; Rift Widens Between Obama And Trump; Top Ten International Stories Of 2016. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired December 24, 2016 - 12:00   ET


ERIKA HILL, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: -- thanks for joining me on this Christmas Eve on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Erika Hill.

We're following two big stories today, brand new warnings from the FBI and Homeland Security over possible threats from ISIS. They say that terror group might target churches and other holiday events. This of course as millions of Americans prepare to celebrate the biggest Christian holiday of the year for many of them.

Plus new arrest in the Christmas market attack in Berlin. Three men in custody accused of having ties to the man behind that gruesome attack. Officials revealing conversations at least one of them had with the suspected attacker.

We want to start first with that new warning about possible threats here at home. CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the developing story for us. So Polo, what more do we know about the warning and where it came from?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erika, that first question that you asked, that is key here because this brand newly issued bulletin, it specifically tells Americans that there is no credible, no specific threat against any targets in the U.S.

That being said, though, it is recommended that law enforcement officials throughout the country remain on high alert because of this ISIS friendly, this pro-ISIS website that has initially called on some of its supporters and ISIS sympathizers top launch attacks or carry out attacks at churches or houses of worship across the country.

The reason that this bulletin is being issued, to answer your second question, is because they noticed on a web page, on this pro-ISIS web page that we mentioned, it lays out a list of several of these churches and places of worship.

So as a result they are being proactive, officials are. Then there is that lingering question this is really not like anything else that we've seen. Typically these kinds of threats are directed more towards law enforcement or military targets.

This one though are the softer targets like houses of worships. The question is why. We heard this morning from John Katko, a Republican who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, offering his take on why we could be seeing this kind of threat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN KATKO (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: ISIS wants to spread fear, primarily by inspiring homegrown terrorism through the internet, through the dark spaces of the internet and trying to get people to rise up and create attacks of terrorism whenever, wherever possible.

They offer suggestions as to the type of terrorism. We saw that with the Pulse Nightclub, for example, and they're doing it now with respect to the holidays. They're trying to inspire people and hope that someone picks up that mantle, is inspired enough to do an act of terrorism on behalf of ISIS like we saw in Germany.


SANDOVAL: Timing of this bulletin is key happening after the deadly attack at the Christmas market overseas and it's also happening as millions of Americans get ready to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah.

But the main message that officials want to stress on this Christmas Eve don't necessarily be afraid but be on high alert. This is a proactive step as so many people now head to celebrate the holidays with their families.

HILL: Polo Sandoval, appreciate it, thank you. For a closer look at this threat and the fight against terror, let's bring in former CIA director and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, James Woolsey. Good to you have with us today.

When you look at this threat and what we're hearing from the FBI, from the Department of Homeland Security, how serious is this?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think it's quite serious and kudos to the bureau and the Homeland Security and the other law enforcement people who are starting now to look at sources to look at the sources, to look at the websites, to try to get inside the heads of the terrorists and where there may be heading rather than waiting until the last minute and catching them after they've done something.

This is a step in the right direction. The terrorists, the Muslim terrorists love anniversaries. They go after people at the Boston marathon on the anniversary of the beginning of our revolutionary war. They use -- anniversaries are big for them.

And so Christmas, of course, is going to be a time when they are going to focus on trying to move us into one of two statuses that they want. They either want us dead or converted and there are -- there is no third possibility and they are at war with us. We're not at war with them.

We are kind of thinking about it, but they're at war with us and we have to get inside their heads the way you would any enemy that you were fighting and figure out how to keep him from moving further along toward harming you or destroying you. HILL: So in terms of getting inside their head, I know that Donald Trump has made it clear that defeating ISIS is at the top of his list. You yourself has said in that past, we have to go after ISIS in their own backyard, as you said get inside their heads.

We are recognizing, and I think perhaps it's being reinforced with every attack that we see, especially on these soft targets, that this is a really large backyard. We look at the fact that the recruitment network that Amri was apparently associated with in Germany was supposed to focus on recruiting in Germany.

[12:05:11]So where would your advice be for Donald Trump, where should he focus his efforts today based on what we have seen in the last 24, 48 hours?

WOOLSEY: Well, first of all, not to follow through with President Obama's decision to admit thousands more people before we have extremely thorough vetting. I think we have to -- we're a nation of immigrants and we want to be welcome to immigrants.

But we have a very difficult situation now with ISIS and we have to protect ourselves. And we have to understand that we are at war and we have to stop them early.

We have to get inside their planning. We have to get people into their organizations to essentially report on them. There is a lot that we need to do differently than we've been doing for the last number of years.

HILL: What about in terms of the working with governments overseas, because as we have seen, these are not just immigrants that are recruited by ISIS. They're people who have grown up in these countries. Amri there is talk of refugees, he is not a refugee.

He came over from Tunisia. He went to Italy. He made his way to Germany. So how do you then work with these foreign governments, and is there enough communication and cooperation at this point in your view?

WOOLSEY: No, there is not nearly enough cooperation. Our friends in foreign countries, some of them work pretty well with us, like the British, others for example, the Belgians for a while, I don't know if it's still the case, wouldn't do anything after 5:00 in the afternoon because that was their work schedule.

So they wouldn't carry on an attack against terrorists if it was outside the workday. There are a number of things in European organizations that are kind of dysfunctional and they need to work on it, too, as do we.

But international cooperation is key to getting inside what is going on in the terrorist groups because different countries that are potentially vulnerable, like us and the British and the French, are going to have different handles on who may be going where in the terrorist groups and where they may be living. These enclaves that the Europeans permit to get set up in Britain and other places create areas where it's very, very difficult for anybody who is not from a particular part of the Middle East to even go into the neighborhood without getting harassed -- it's including police.

So our European friends, we have not seen that kind of a problem yet in the United States. But our European friends need to get their acts together and get some control back over the portions of their countries that they have let slide into ISIS or essentially Muslim Brotherhood controlled areas.

HILL: We know that one of the major recruitment tools for terror groups, including ISIS, is the internet in many different ways, whether it's social media, messaging apps. And we're hearing from Tunisian authorities, these three arrests that were made today, one of them the nephew of Anis Amri.

Telling them that he had been communicating with him on this Telegram app, which as we learned earlier today have some 100 million uses, very strong encryptions, messages that can disappear right after they're read.

What needs to change if anything in terms of staying on top of what is happening online because it does change so quickly?

WOOLSEY: Great question. It takes a lot of work for us to do that and we need to turn loose our best code breakers and people who can deal with that out at NSA, at Fort Mead in Washington area, people who work on these issues for the military.

We can't really divide things up and say well, we're going to have one group of people work on this, if there is a particular threat at Christmastime and otherwise, there is this other group. We have to pull this together.

And go after the essentially the programs that are instituted to make these apps and so forth very hard to get into. We have to treat this like war. This is the enemy that is coming at us and we're in a very serious war. It's just that we don't want to admit it yet.

HILL: Ambassador Woolsey, appreciate your time as always. Thank you.

WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.

[12:10:01]HILL: Still to come, we'll discuss the bitter and antagonistic relationship between President Obama and Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. How yesterday's vote at the U.N. could be the final straw?


HILL: New diplomatic fallout today after the U.S. refuses to veto a controversial U.N. resolution despite extreme pressure from Israel and from President-elect Trump. The resolution condemns the construction of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The vote was 14 in favor with the U.S. abstaining. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu railed against the resolution saying the Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang up at the U.N., it colluded with the behind scenes.

Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.

Trump also weighing in tweeting "As to the U.N., things will be different after January 20th." We're back with former CIA Director James Woolsey and also former U.S. ambassador.

Sir, good to have you back with us. When we look at that tweet from Donald Trump, things are going to be different after January 20th, is this signaling that it could be the end of the U.N. or somehow U.S. involvement in the U.N. as we've known it?

WOOLSEY: I hope things are different because this is now the second time that President Obama has used the United Nations and ignored the will of the American people and the American Congress in moving out this time against Israel.

This -- if they will do this, if the Obama administration will do this, what are they going to do with the 17 subordinate agreements to the agreement on nuclear weapons that they signed with Iran.

Are they going to show to the Congress at all those 17 agreements that have been provided from the Iranians to the U.S. government? I don't know what they're going to do with it.

They tried the first time to avoid having the constitutional requirement of a two thirds vote of the U.S. Senate for a treaty and they ended up being able to get at least temporarily now, a bypassing of the U.S. Senate and an implementation of this agreement even though it did not get the two thirds of approval of the Senate that is required in the Constitution.

The Obama administration really likes using the United Nations to avoid its responsibilities to the Congress and the American people. And I would personally really welcome an end to that, whatever the precise nature of what Donald Trump and others are thinking about doing.

HILL: We should point out, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power said basically this is long-standing, our policy has not changed in terms of that. I do want to bring up from Lindsey Graham who said he would introduce a bill to pull U.S. funding for the U.N. unless the resolution is repealed.

Writing in a statement that the U.S. has empowered evil and been a poor friend of democracy. As a former director of the CIA and former ambassador, when other countries see this in fighting and see the fact that we have a president-elect speaking out on things while a current president is speaking out on things, how does that play when we see an administration and a country so publicly divided? WOOLSEY: Well, you know, division and scrapping is kind of the nature of things for us. Madison intended it that way. We've gone since the spring of 1789 every four years having elections and having a stable system and it's stable because we argue with one another all the time and we have checks and balances.

I think what is really troubling here is not that we're arguing with one another, but that the outgoing administration is not doing what it should be doing by way of informing the Congress of what is going on and getting congressional approval where the constitution requires it. That's the scandal, not that President-elect Trump is making comments.

HILL: James Woolsey, we'll have to leave it there. Appreciate you joining us.

WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.

HILL: Thanks for your time. Speaking of Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator will join Dana Bash this afternoon at 3 p.m. Eastern to weigh in more on the U.N. vote. CNN NEWSROOM continues right after this.



HILL: This week as President Obama attempted to make his final statement as commander-in-chief, President-elect Trump caused a growing rift in their relationship. The Obama administration abstained from voting on U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. That resolution passed.

Before that vote Trump has demanded Obama veto the measure. After the vote Trump tweeted to the U.N. things will be different after January 20th. Joining me now to discuss is CNN's Athena Jones. So give us a sense this morning, what more are we hearing from the White House, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House is responding to all of this by reminding the public that there is one president at a time. This is just the latest move. Trump -- President-elect Trump getting involved in this U.N. vote is the latest move that shows that he is not really just preparing for a transition. He is not waiting in the wings.

He is making policy pronouncements, whether it is via Twitter or in interviews, and many times these are policy pronouncements that are at odds with those of the Obama administration. You have the U.N. vote on the Israeli settlements.

He's also tweeted about the need for the U.S. to greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity. That seemed to fly in the face of President Obama's long standing moves against nuclear proliferation.

We heard President-elect Trump say that China should keep the drone that it took from international waters even after U.S. officials had negotiated its return. This is a president-elect who very unusually is throwing himself into the -- these international discussions in a way that past presidents haven't -- Erika.

HILL: It is not something we've seen before, but a couple of times it has happened. It just put it in context for us. You bring up all these great points about things that have happened in the last couple weeks with the president-elect talking about things, taking these kind of actions in this case tweeting a lot. In other words in Twitter, that changes an administration for the most part, but just how unusual is it?

JONES: It's very unusual. There is a long-standing tradition of incoming presidents, not getting involved in these international issues, not trying to make policy while there is another president in office. They withhold statements or remarks on these important issues.

The president's deputy national security adviser put it this way yesterday on a conference call with reporters, he said there is one president at a time. President Obama is the president of the United States until January 20th.

Of course, after January 20th, you have a new president coming in and even President Obama himself said look, it's fine to look at foreign policy issues and other issues with a fresh set of eyes, that's exactly what he would expect of the next leader.

It's an obligation he called it. So that part is not unusual. What is unusual is the fact that President-elect Trump is getting so involved so publicly and so frequently way before January 20th -- Erika.

HILL: Athena Jones, appreciate you joining us from Hawaii, where of course the president is with his family for the holiday. Athena, thank you.

Up next, 10 percent, that is how high of a tariff on foreign imported goods Donald Trump could impose once he takes office. All an effort to spur manufacturing here in the U.S. So will it work? We'll debate it after the break.



HILL: I'm Erika Hill. Thanks for being with us on CNN NEWSROOM. From refugees fleeing their homes to journalists caught in the cross fire. CNN senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward takes a look at the ten most memorable international stories of 2016.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We begin our top ten with Brazil, a country whose rollercoaster of scandals and triumphs made the news the world over, a mosquito-borne Zika virus outbreak leading to a spate of rare birth defects. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brazil is losing the battle against this virus.

WARD: Then a political crisis that rocked the corridors of power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate removed Dilma Rouseff as president.

WARD: All this a backdrop to Brazil's moment in the sun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world will be watching Brazil as it hosts the Olympics.

WARD: Which despite a few setbacks was widely considered a success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Turkish military announcing it has taken over the country and imposed Marshall Law.

WARD: In the dead of night machine gunfire rings out as a coup attempt takes hold, and almost as quickly as it began, it was over, the president survives the coup attempt but some 290 others would not. Seeking retribution, President Erdogan would go on to detain and dismiss tens of thousands of people.

A diplomatic falling, sees a U.S. president touch down on Cuban soil for the first time in 88 years, infuriating Fidel Castro. Eight months later --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news out of Cuba, Fidel Castro has died.

WARD: For some grief for the loss of a revolutionary, for others celebration for the death of a ruthless dictator. Cuban exiles thrilled as they remember a tyrant who imprisoned and executed his opponents and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

A global migrant crisis worsening by the minute, 65 million people now displaced.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The 2016 has been the deadliest year ever for migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Among those rescued, this five day old infant peering out of his pink blanket.

WARD: War, terror, poverty, seeing migrant camps across the world swelling to unsustainable levels, one camp in France bulldozed to the ground. What is this life? Have mercy on us. Have mercy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to tell you that you are not alone.

WARD: Coming in at number six, seismic stations around the world pick up on the unmistakable signs of North Korean aggression, but this time it's different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Korea exploding its most powerful war head ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The equivalent of at least 10,000 tons of TNT detonated deep underground.

WARD: The question now, will the next warhead be mounted on a missile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have this many tests you are eventually going to get it right.

WARD: Unimaginable acts of terror in the name of ISIS leave a bloody trail on the borders of Iraq and Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two explosions rocking the main terminal at Brussels airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Across town in the center of the city, a bomb exploded on a Metro train.

WARD: Those three suicide bombers killed 32 people, three months later, another airport is hit. Three men wearing explosive vests carrying AK-47s exiting a taxi curb site --



UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Those three suicide bombers killed 32 people. Three months later, another airport is hit. Three men wearing explosive vets carrying AK-47's, exiting a taxi curbside shooting at panicked travelers before blowing themselves up. 44 people would never make it out of that Turkish airport.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It's about 6 to 8 gunmen have taken over this bakery restaurant in Dhaka in this more affluent posh area of the city in Bangladesh.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Military commandos moved in, the siege ended with 13 hostages saved but 20 others dead at the restaurant.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news out of France.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: More than a mile of carnage as the truck drove down the beach side promenade, killing as many people as the driver could.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day of celebration for French Independence ending with the slaughter of 84 people. While the so- called soldiers of ISIS waged war in cities across the world, back in Iraq, the land they once laid claim to was being taken back.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: The Iraqi city of Falluja, we understand has been liberated.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Iraq's military is claiming victory in Ramadi.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in the CNN, in Iraq, in offensive to retake the key city of Mosul from ISIS is now underway.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: An effort with much international support, a lot of coalition planning, American air power. One came right at me.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN's own team would later make it inside the city limits of Mosul and very nearly would not make it out. We realized we're trapped. Our MRAP takes a direct hit. We need to move. But every time we try, gunfire drives us back.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Arwa Damon and her team would spend 28 hours trapped. An estimated 1 million civilians are still within this embattled city. Across the border in Syria, another hellish landscape unfolds. It's biggest city, Aleppo, the epicenter of this horror.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Syrian regime's latest aerial assault.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gallon drums filled with explosives and shrapnel, shoved out of helicopters.

PATON WALSH: They're racing frantically. They say that nine people are still stuck under the rubble.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: A dazed and shell-shocked boy pulled from the wreckage of his home would become the bloody face of Syria's suffering.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: He doesn't cry once. This is Omran. He is alive. We wanted you to know.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coming in at number two, Russia, flexing its military muscle at home.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin moving nuclear capable missiles to the border with Poland and Lithuania.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. is blaming Russia for bombing a humanitarian convoy in Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Moscow, using its superior arsenal to turn the tides of war in favor of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. He told us that Russian and regime forces target hospitals cynically and deliberately. The diplomatic vacuum between the U.S. and Russia intensifying with accusations of hostile acts still shrouded in mystery.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A series of cyberattacks on Democrats indicate Russia is trying to sway the election for Donald Trump. UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: And in our number one slot this year, the surge of populism across the west, as voters rejected the establishment. Many feeling ignored by politicians and left behind economically.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ACHOR: The people have voted to leave the European Union.

NIGEL FARAGE, PRO BREXIT LEADER: Dare to dream. But the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a vote that took the world by surprise, one of the main forces behind Brexit, anger over immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They should go back to where they came from, before we rip their heads off.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: And of course, in the U.S., where President-elect Donald Trump capitalized on the issue.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL-ELECT: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: The rejection of globalization resonating with voters.

BLITZER: CNN projects Donald Trump wins the presidency.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will the march of populism continue, with elections in France and Germany coming up, 2017 promises to be an interesting year.



[12:38:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump team is floating an idea to put America first, new tariffs on imports. Here's what we know. Donald Trump is mulling a 10% tariff on all imported goods. His incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus has suggested a 5% tariff. It could be part of the sweeping tax reform package or could be done by executive order. Some critics say it could spark a trade war with other countries. I want to talk it over now with our political panel. Tara Setmayer is a CNN political commentator and former communications director for Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Steve Cortes is a former Trump campaign advisor and was head of Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council. Good to have both of you with us. So, Steve, when we hear that, this is an idea that is being floated, and in fact the transition has even said, they're using this threat of a tariff to get better trade deals. Does that mean that we will not see this or is this really on the table?

STEVE CORTES, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR AND TRUMP NATIONAL HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL: Right. I think you used the correct word which is threat. I think we have to have negotiations. And one of the reasons, I think, by the way Donald Trump won, is because he has a lifetime of successful negotiations. I think that the people were very attracted to that idea that we need a negotiator in chief to some degree.

So, I think it is a threat that has to be, you know, real. But one that I don't think we're going to have to implement. And I will say, I don't like tariffs, I tend to be much more of a free trade person, sometimes more so than my candidate, quite frankly. A tariff can end up being a tax on consumers. But I also think, and this is a key reason, I think, why Donald Trump won, that the American worker has had an incredibly unleveled playing field when it comes to trade.

We have foreign countries which --there is no reciprocity. They're not open to our products, particularly China. And it's not a leveled playing field because they're subsidizing their industries for export here. So, in a level playing field and I think the terrorists are a weapon to get to that level playing field, the threat of them is. In a level playing field, the American worker will perform and will thrive in a global economy, but we need to make that fair for our workers.

HILL: Tara, is a threat the best way to negotiate?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR REP. DANA ROHRABACHER: Well, I think we need to be careful about that. Protection is policy. There is something that had not worked well for the U.S. economy. The last time we tried this was under Herbert Hoover and it led to the great depression, one of many reasons and it was something that even Democrats used to saddle Republicans with, that protectionist policies were bad for the economy and bad for American workers

[12:40:16] for almost 70 years. They went back and used that against Republicans after the disaster of Herbert Hoover.

So, we need to be very careful when we start using tariff threats because you can in fact spark a trade war and that is something that we don't want to do. -- I'm glad to hear that Steve said that he departs somewhat from Donald Trump on the issue of using tariffs, that he is more of a free market guy. As a Republican, myself, I'm actually floored at how many Republicans have all of a sudden become protectionist Republicans and think that this is OK. We were the party of free trade.

Now, are there things that need to be fixed, are there other solutions that could help spark the economy and help American workers and wages and bring some jobs back, absolutely. But slapping tariffs and threatening that is not the way to do it. President Obama tried this with the Chinese and the tire industry. Some people may remember that. Back a couple of years ago. And that didn't work out too well. The Chinese instead decided to slap a tariff on poultry imports from the United States that went from 50% to over 100%. And it caused billions of dollars in poultry imports in the United States. So they - just because we decided on one thing you think that's wonderful, but -- for short term gain, the long term effects actually hurt the American worker and the American in the middle class. HILL: Steve, I just want to talk about this border adjustment tax, which is also out there being floated. So it essentially - the way that it would work is that imports would be more expensive, of course, for U.S. firms. And then, it will be less expensive to export by giving companies a tax adjustment. But when it comes to the level of imports versus the level of exports in the U.S., how does that work out?

CORTES: Right. - Here once again, look, I'm for free trade. But let's be honest too. We haven't had free trade. We've had very one sided trade, particularly, when it comes to China. We're incredibly open to -- Chinese products. All you have to do is go into a Walmart to figure that out but it's not the same in the other direction. You go to Beijing, there -- are incredible barriers to American products, whether it's products or services over there. And often, by the way, it's not over, it's often covered. It's a - group of policies that prevent America from being able to trade freely.

So, I'm for free trade but we haven't had free trade. We've had very one sided trade, and the American worker unbalanced has suffered because of that. I think it's one of the reasons that the average American worker hasn't had a pay raise since the year 2000. According to McKinsey Consulting, 4 out of 5 U.S. households have seen over the last decade, their pay go down. Part of that, not only, but part of that is because of trade. So we need smarter, better trade deals. I don't think we're going to have to resort to tariffs but I think it has to be on the table to get these countries to act reasonably regarding trade.

HILL: You both bring up interesting points though, that as Republicans, you don't - you're not fully on board with some of the ideas that are being floated here. And not everyone we know in Congress is either. Some people may, as you pointed out, maybe starting to go down that road a little bit more, agreeing with the president-elect but not everyone. So Tara, how do you get a consensus among Republicans so you are all on the same page or at least mostly people on the same page in Congress to get something pushed through.

SETMAYER: Well, I think that's going to be the challenge but I think that's going to be easier to do than it would have been if Republicans weren't controlling everything. There's more agreement on what to do here than there is not - I think you have Speaker Ryan who has worked on this issue for many years. He's very well versed in it when he was budget chairman in Ways and Means. He understands this issue and -

HILL: We may have just lost Tara Setmayer. The beauty of technology, right, even on Christmas Eve, Steve, we can't always get it to work.

CORTES: Well, Erica, you know what I would say is this. And listen, believe me, I agree with Donald Trump wholeheartedly on 98% of issues. When it comes to tariff, it makes me a little uneasy. This is one spot where I may not agree completely with the president-elect. But what I do agree with, more importantly, whether or not tariffs is the right move here, what I agree with is that we need smarter trade deals. The American worker has been really hung out to dry. This has been a fantastic economy if you're part of the group who has made it already in America. If you own a lot of assets, a lot of stocks, a lot of real estate, you've done wonderfully over the last decade or so, the average American worker, not so much.

So, it's time for mainstream to catch up with Wall Street. One of the ways we do that is through smarter trade deals. I believe there's going to be the American manufacturing renaissance in this country because of better policy. We haven't lost our dynamos and we haven't lost our hustle, our will to succeed to compete. We just need smarter, better policies to empower that American worker.

HILL: And now, all we need to figure out Steve is what those policies are. What the deals will look like. So that is what is ahead in 2017. Steve Cortes great to have you with us, Tara Setmayer always get to talk to you, sorry we lost you. Happy holidays to the both of you, thanks.

CORTES: Thank you so much.

HILL: Coming up, changing world policy, 140 characters at a time.

[12:45:16] How Donald Trump's use of Twitter is reshaping the way the United States approaches foreign relations. That's next.


[12:48:16] HILL: Politics and social media. Boy, the two things that bring us all together, don't they, regardless of party? According to the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of Americans online are using the Internet use at least one social media site. Donald Trump, of course, is one of them. The president-elect makes news pretty much whenever he hits that tweet button. Just yesterday, he suggested the U.S. return to a nuclear arms race, tweeting, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." Donald Trump's incoming Press Secretary expanded on what exactly he meant yesterday when he spoke to CNN.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR "NEW DAY": He said to her, "Let it be an arms race" in terms of building up our nuclear capabilities with, I guess, against Russia. "Let it be an arms race because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all." What does let it be an arms race mean?

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think it goes back to what I just said with respect to the tweet that he put out. He is going to do what it takes to protect this country and if another country or countries want to threaten our safety, our sovereignty, he's going to do what it takes.

CAMEROTA: So every tweet, you are telling us, from now on with U.S. Press Secretary, that we are to be able to take those words literally?

SPICER: Of course, you can. If they're from him, they're -- I mean, I don't know what else you would take them as. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Our next guest is an expert in using social media effectively. Jim Anderson is CEO of SocialFlow, a company that helps clients maximize the use of social media. So, I know you actually have some data on that nuclear arms tweet from Donald Trump. Give us a snapshot of the impact that one tweet had.

JIM ANDERSON, CEO SOCIALFLOW: Yes, Erica, it's amazing. I mean, Donald Trump has 18 million followers on Twitter, and that tweet was one very notable one. He tweets maybe 125 to 150 times a month on average. The real impact though, comes from the media coverage of what he says. Data on that nuclear arms tweet from Donald Trump. Give us a snapshot of the impact that one tweet had.

Yes, Erica, it's amazing. Donald Trump has 18 million follow hearse on Twitter, and that tweet was one very notable one. He tweets 125 to 150 times a month on average. The real impact, though, comes from the media coverage of what he says. And let's not forget that that's one of the important parts of his candidacy. And I think will be one of the important parts of

[12:50:16] his presidency is he says something provocative on Twitter. Yes, a lot of people hear about it, but the amount of media coverage that comes in and then provides the amplification to that message is huge. 300 times, at least, by comparison, just on Twitter alone.

HILL: It's huge, but then oftentimes it ends up with a little bit of a back and forth. And there's a need for clarification. And yet we just heard from his incoming Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, he was talking with our Alisyn Camerota yesterday and saying, yes, you should absolutely take every tweet, as long as it comes from Donald Trump, literally. And yet we've had to see him go back on things or clarify things. So, even though he's using it, and yes, it's getting covered, because he's making news on them, is he using Twitter effectively?

ANDERSON: Well, yes, and that he's getting a tremendous amount of attention, but I think this is where we see a shift from Donald Trump the candidate, to Donald Trump the president-elect, to Donald Trump the president. And I think one of the really important roles of the media is going to be to try to understand and provide context. I don't believe, for a second, that everything Donald Trump says by Twitter will be taken literally or should be taken literally. And you see that with his advisers. Some of them are trying to walk back what he said. Some of them are trying to sort of reinforce or shift that. And I think that's one of the real questions of his presidency, once he's sworn in, is how does that actually play out and how does the media go to the various advisers and cabinet members on understanding what he really meant on Twitter.

HILL: What's your advice to him, as he shifts from being - so, he shifted from candidate, to president-elect and will now be shifting into his role as president, by all accounts, will continue tweeting. What's your advice to him on leveraging that in the most effective way possible, not just for him but for the country? ANDERSON: Well, I think the key advice is, recognize the difference between being a candidate and being president and president-elect right now, soon to be president. We've seen that his tweets can move the markets. Boeing, Lockheed, those kinds of stock movements is great indicators of the power of the presidency. And that's just the economic power, never mind the military power.

So I think, one of the key conversations he's going to have to have with his administration is, how do we sort of remain true to ourselves and what got us here, and then how do we moderate that? We all know that governing is a lot different than running for presidency. And so I think you'll see some dampening. I don't know that his personality is well-suited to being dampened or controlled. But I have to believe it's inevitable that you'll see some dampening of what he says on Twitter.

HILL: Jim, real quickly, how has Donald Trump's use of Twitter changed the perception of this as a social media tool?

ANDERSON: Well, it certainly has made it incredibly relevant. You know, Twitter has always been at its best when it's live and raw and authentic and unfiltered. And certainly that's what Donald Trump is, right, live, authentic raw and unfiltered. So in some ways, it's a perfect match and the fact that we're talking about Twitter so much, and in this context not so much about Facebook or Snapchat or many of the other social platforms, I think is really important in terms of highlighting how Twitter can be used for both good and bad. But it certainly is relevant and I think will remain so.

HILL: Jim Anderson, appreciate your insights. Thanks for joining us.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, many of us may take it for granted, you send a package and it gets to the destination. That is no easy task, though, especially at this time of year. Up next, an inside look at how FedEx gets it done.


[12:56:24] HILL: You think it is tough getting all your shopping done in time for the holidays, try delivering everyone else's presents on time and in one piece. That's the job of FedEx. CNN's Richard Quest takes us inside the operation to show you how they do it.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, all the ingredients are here. Everything is ready. Now, where are the packages?

And so the containers arrive from the airport and enter the sorting system. Where, remember, everything is designed to be accurate and fast. Within FedEx system, this is New York. This is -- this is big stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is. Yes it is. We handle over 100,000 packages a day. It starts with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, those -- that will be of heaviest four Mondays before peak.

QUEST: At Christmas time, holiday time versus a normal day, how much does your volume increase?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 12 million packages in the network. We're looking at over 25 million packages in the network for peak.

QUEST: If you are going to be carrying a lot of parcels over large parts of New York, you better be fixed and ready for the battle ahead. After all, what they are carrying is the economy in motion. The packages are now making their way down the final sorting line. The drivers are identifying the yellow stickers that tell them which packages go on their truck. Tell me where are you going to put everything, just throw it all in?

STEVE SEDA, FEDEX EXPRESS COURIER: No, we don't just throw it all in. We don't throw first of all. First thing we do, we have everything labeled up by streets and avenues and we set it up according -- going high and low.

QUEST: And also, what about in terms of time of delivery?

SEDA: We put our priority packages in the middle here, so that we can get them all done. Then we empty out these shelves. We start hitting out standard services.

QUEST: Good. You've got packages, is this one of yours?

SEDA: It is not.

QUEST: That is yours. That is yours. To say it is impressive is an understatement. The ability to double the number of packages being handled during the holiday period is outstanding. But as you can see, they've all gone, that is until tomorrow when they'll do it all over again. Richard Quest, CNN, at FedEx in the Bronx, New York.


HILL: And the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

I'm Erica Hill in today for Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks for being with us on this Christmas Eve. We begin with new developments in that Christmas market attack in Berlin, plus brand new terror threats here at home. The FBI warning officials across the country this weekend of ISIS threats against churches and holiday events. The new worries as millions of Americans of course prepare to celebrate Christmas. Also, three new arrests in that Berlin Christmas market attack, one of them, the nephew of the suspected attacker, officials now are revealing recent conversations between the two men.