Return to Transcripts main page


Key Republicans Clash with President-elect on Russia; Trump Taps Bush-Era Official as Homeland Security Adviser; Tributes Pour In For Carrie Fisher, Dead At 60; Post-Election Cruelty; Brawls At More Than a Dozen Malls Nationwide. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:03] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Jim Sciutto here, sitting in for Anderson.

Tonight, remember the face that launched a movie franchise, the talent behind it and the kind of intellect that could outshine and out-cut a life saver. In other words, remembering Carrie Fisher. That's just ahead.

We begin, though, with a CNN exclusive interview, a pair of leading Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham butting heads with President-elect Trump over Russia and his fascination with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Obama and Japan's prime minister met today in Pearl Harbor. They reaffirmed one key pillar of U.S. foreign policy, the Pacific partnership. Another is containing Russia, and that's what Senators Graham and McCain seem concern the president elect could be jeopardizing, namely resistance to a rival power that the intelligence community believes committed an act of cyber war against this country.

They are traveling in Europe right now and spoke with me from Tallinn, Estonia, earlier today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: There's no doubt in my mind that Russia hacked into our political systems, that it was Russian groups that hacked into Podesta's email, the DNC. They hacked into my campaign account.

Reince Priebus said that the president-elect would accept the results if all of the intelligence communities on the same sheet of music. Well, now, the FBI and the CIA and DNI, director of national intelligence, all are saying the same things, that the Russians tries to influence our elections.

SCIUTTO: Do you have any information for why the president-elect still refuses to then accept that assessment? Particularly now that he's being briefed presumably on the classified intelligence that led to that assessment? SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, Jim, I think

he'll be presented with the overwhelming evidence, change his view and he has said some things like he wants to spend more money on defense. He's said some favorable things about NATO.

But on the issue of the Russians, there is no doubt about it. And we have to act and we have to have a policy, which this administration does not have, and address this threat to our national security. If they are able to undermine an election, they are able then to undermine democracy.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because the president-elect --

GRAHAM: Jim, if I may add.

SCIUTTO: He's had multiple opportunities, and I do want you do answer, Senator Graham, to both before and after election to accept that assessment and yet he's doubled and tripled down on talking about a cozy relationship with Putin, denying the intelligence community's assessment. What are you going to do, Senator Graham and Senator McCain, if he doesn't change his tune in effect on Russia?

GRAHAM: There are a hundred United States senators. Amy Klobuchar is on this trip with us. She's a Democrat from Minnesota. I would say that 99 of us believe the Russians did this. And we're going to do something about it. Along with Senator McCain, after this trip is over, we'll have the hearings and we're going put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election. And they are doing it all over the world.

SCIUTTO: Senator Graham, on an issue of nukes, you during the campaign have been critical of many of Donald Trump's positions and the way he's expressed those positions on key national security issues. Do you worry that Trump's communication style using Twitter could lead to misunderstanding, potentially escalate conflicts over what are sensitive -- arguably the most sensitive issues involving nuclear weapons, whether it's a North Korea or a Pakistan, or Russia. How concerned are you about that being a platform for stating potential changes in U.S. security policy?

GRAHAM: When it comes to the nuclear issue, President-elect Trump said we need to modernize our nuclear force and we do is some of it following is state of disrepair.

But I'll be honest with you. I'm not so sure this is the best way to communicate. It is up to him. He beat me. He's president of the United States.

All I can say that one thing Putin's done, he's brought Democrats and Republicans together, to go after him. I think most of us, Democrats and Republicans really believe that Russia is up to no good all over the world. They are trying to break the back of democracies.

And if we don't push back against Putin, Iran and China, they could hack into our systems. Today, it's Democrats. Tomorrow, it could be Republicans, with the Iranians and the Chinese. Trump says he's going to be tough with Iran and China. He needs to

be. Well, we need to show any nation what happens to them if they try to interfere in our democratic process.

To my Republican colleagues, it is the Democrats today, it could be us tomorrow.


SCIUTTO: Well, as you would expect, plenty to talk about out of those interviews there. Joining us now, CNN political analyst, David Gergen, and Carl Bernstein, also Matt Lewis, senior contributor with "The Daily Caller", and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany.

[20:05:02] Carl, if I could begin with you. You heard Senator McCain and Senator Graham there saying they are holding out hope that after being presented with further I would imagine overwhelming evidence because I have to think he's seen some of this intelligence already, that Donald Trump will accept Russia's involvement in the DNC hacking? Is that hope plausible in light of the opportunities he's had?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I hope so, but we all need to see this evidence. Before we have a full scale Cold War again, it's important that we know what happened and if this happened then there is appropriate action that ought to be taken.

But there are two components that are starting to come together. The other is Donald Trump's history in Russia. We need a select committee of the Senate, as we had in Watergate, to look into the campaign activities not just of the Russians but the concomitant story that is coming together perhaps has do with Donald Trump's holdings, his businesses, his trips to Russia, those of his sons. Whether the Russians try to play Donald Trump, they're not two separate stories.

And I would hope that Senator Graham and Senator McCain called for a select committee and do both strands of this investigation.

SCIUTTO: David Gergen, is that something that you find to be expected with a Republican-led Congress? That there would be an investigation on Donald Trump's ties to Russia beyond Russian hacking of the U.S. election?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO REAGAN, FORD, CLINTON & NIXON: Based on everything we know right now I would say the answer is no. I do believe McCain and Graham have issued the first direct challenge to Donald Trump over the future conduct of his presidency and his policies starting with Putin. I mean, they are threatening to sanction Putin at the very same time there are people high on the Trump command, including his incoming secretary of state, who are saying -- who are considering lifting sanctions against Russia.

So, we have a direct conflict shaping up. And if that leads somewhere, if there are more threats that Carl suggests, then down road you might see calls for that. But I think it is way too premature to think that this Congress is going to open by investigating the new president of the United States. I just don't think that's in the cards.

What I do think is we have conflicts now shaping up that we -- that -- and I don't think this is going to be the first. There will be another over China if Donald Trump tries to get rid of the One China Policy, I think he'll face a challenge. Or even could be threats over Israel. I have to see how that plays out.

But I think right now the major story tonight is you have two leading voices from Congress, you know, which is a co-equal branch of government, we should never forget that, directly challenging the new president-elect from their own party.

SCIUTTO: Kayleigh McEnany, help me understand. I've asked of many Trump supporters. I asked of Senators McCain and Graham earlier today. I've asked this of Representative Chris Collins, a Trump supporter earlier.

Why? And I can't get a answer to the question. Why is Donald Trump fighting back so much against the judgment of the U.S. intelligence agencies and Senators Graham and McCain, Republican senators, said a hundred members of the Senate many have been briefed on the intelligence? Why is he fighting them on this assessment that Russia is behind the hacking?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENATOR: Well, I think it is important that we give this some context. There were some unusual happenings in the intelligence community. Namely the fact that you had certain members of the intelligence community covertly leaking parts of this investigation to the "New York Times," leaking the motive of what Russia was after, saying that Russia was after electing Donald Trump. It ended up being that that was the conclusion of the entirety of the intelligence community.

On December 16th, the FBI came out and said we agree. Now there is complete coalescence of the intelligence community, everyone is on board with that.

But also, another abnormality wais the fact that Devin Nunes, you know, the head of the House Intel Committee, requested a briefing from the intelligence committee. It was canceled. They were citing the --

SCIUTTO: Kayleigh, I've done a lot of reporting on that issue, and everybody with a security clearance in Congress, Democrat and Republican, have gotten repeated briefings on the intelligence between the assessment. The intelligence agencies are not hiding this intelligence from the legislative branch.

So I just wonder what -- you know, what is the reason to dismiss that assessment? Is Donald Trump in effect saying that the entire U.S. intelligence community is shilling for the Democrats?

MCENANY: No, I don't think he's saying that. But there were those few days where there were some unusual happenings in the intelligence community where the briefing was canceled. There was that briefing as you remember on Capitol Hill where there was a division between the FBI and CIA, the CIA was willing to say this was the motive of Russia, whereas the FBI was unwilling at that point to make that assessment.

SCIUTTO: Well, it has changed now. The FBI is on the same page.


MCENANY: It has changed, it has changed. But what also has changed is of December 16th, Donald Trump has not made public statements about this. On the first few days of Donald Trump's presidency, Press Secretary Sean Spicer will be asked about this and I do think it is important, if not pivotal, that the new administration says, look, an attack on the DNC is attack on the RNC, and attack on everyone under one flag.

I do think it is important to acknowledge that but I don't blame them for taking this time to let everything quiet down.

SCIUTTO: Matt, what's your view on this? Do you agree that you need that kind of unifying statement from the incoming president?

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY CALLER: No. Everybody knows this is Russia. And I think what Kayleigh was talking about was recent events, where it did appear that Democrats were trying to maybe delegitimize the election by blaming Hillary Clinton's loss on Russia's involvement.

But that's a totally different issue for the fact that we've known for six months at least, that Russians were involved here and were hacking. And Donald Trump -- maybe the only thing he's been consistent of. Maybe -- there might be a couple but I would say at least, maybe the only thing he's been consistent about this entire election is the fact that he refuses to say anything bad about Vladimir Putin or Russia. And I'm really curious as to why.

He's good when it comes to dealing with China and standing up to them. We saw that after he was elected. He's good when it comes to standing up to Iran. Why not Russia? I just county know.


SCIUTTO: Carl, your thoughts?

BERNSTEIN: There's one other consistency here with Trump and that is his disdain for fact and his contempt for fact and not listening to fact or being open to fact. Now, maybe, he finally will be when shown this evidence. But we all need to see the evidence.

But what we are seeing consistently in the tweets, in the campaign, in the transition is a fact-free universe in which Donald Trump floats with weightlessness. And what we need now is to know the facts but I keep coming back to this, it is impossible to look at this to not look at this without looking at Russia. However we bring that strand into it, it's part of the story and we need to do it.

MCENANY: But, Carl, the FBI was look -- but Carl, the FBI was looking at Donald Trump's connections with Russia. We do know that. And we know there were no developments in that investigation. It happened at the urging of the Democrats actually is why that investigation was opened --


BERNSTEIN: I'm not talking about a criminal act. I'm talking about we need to know about his trips to Russia, what businesses he has in Russia. We need his tax returns as to how they might reflect on what he does in Russia. We've heard Donald Trump Jr. talk about what a huge percentage of the Trump's assets are in Russia. We need to look at this and how it might factor into this.

GERGEN: Jim --

SCIUTTO: There is, David, I'll give you one more thought. But we'll have another opportunity. But just before we go to break, David, what do you want to add in.

GERGEN: With all due respect to Carl Bernstein. I think this investigation of Russia undermining our democracy can be conducted separately and independently from getting Donald Trump's tax returns and like. I do think we need to see the tax returns and all the rest.

But I think in terms of putting sanctions on the Russians for just trying to undermine our democracy, that is a question that the Senate, the House and the White House ought to resolve together and get moving on it because it is important.

BERNSTEIN: I'll buy that part absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Two other of Donald Trump's cabinet appointments released their tax returns today.

But there's plenty more to discuss on this, including the president- elect's latest hire and the notion that he's building a team of rivals in a Trump administration. Is that really it? Or is it more like a basket of irreconcilables? More on that next.

Later, we'll tell you about a wave of violence as well that's turning a trip to the mall into a potentially dangerous encounter.


[20:17:15] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

We were talking just before the break about the ways Donald Trump could if he wishes upturn decades of the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy, particularly where Russia and China are confirmed, or reaffirm it. There are signs of each in what he's been saying and who he's been choosing to fill his cabinet.

Today was no exception, as CNN's Dana Bash reports.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thomas Bossert, a new name added to the top Trump White House staff today, one with a crucial portfolio, homeland security, counterterrorism and cyber threats.

THOMAS BOSSERT, FORMER BUSH AIDE: There's nobody out there that can't be penetrated. If there is, I'd like to know about them.

BASH: Bossert speaking there at a conference about cyber terrorism was a deputy homeland security adviser under George W. Bush and is well-regarded among Republicans in Washington, even those vehemently opposed to Trump for president.

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Tom is a smart, diligent person who knows those issues about as intimately as anybody I can think of. And for folks like myself who were hesitant or negative on Donald Trump, these are the kind of hires that Donald Trump makes that's very reassuring.

BASH: Especially since according to the transition, Bossert's position will be elevated in the Trump White House, on par with the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, with Bossert in charge of domestic security and a special focus on cyber terrorism.

BOSSERT: The government in the United States, at a federal level, needs to do something to address the threat.

BASH: And Flynn on international issues.

MICHAEL FLYNN, INCOMING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We must regain our ability to truly crush our enemies.

BASH: Because although security issues intersect so often, Obama officials tell CNN they think it could lead to confusion in the Trump administration and unnecessary turf battles.

FLYNN: That's right. Lock her up.

BASH: But declaring that Bossert will be on equal footing to Flynn is also intended to be reassuring, even to many Republicans who see the retired general as an unpredictable and controversial figure, thanks to statements like this.

FLYNN: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion.

BASH: What won't change from the Obama White House is people in both positions will have direct access to the president and seats at the principal's table at the president's national security meetings.

Here is how the current homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, described the job earlier this month.

LISA MONACO, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: When I go upstairs, about 50 paces from my cave office in the West Wing up to the Oval Office, the president knows it's because something bad has happened, quite frankly, domestically usually, or to U.S. persons abroad. That is my focus, and he knows it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [20:20:02] SCIUTTO: Got to be one of the highest pressure jobs in Washington.

Dana Bash joins us now.

Dana, what are the transition team officials telling you about their concerns about turf battles inside the administration, once Trump takes over the presidency?

BASH: Well, some of the people in the current administration, Obama administration, says that part of the reason they combined these two roles is because not just personnel turf but also more importantly -- and you know this very well, Jim, in the beat that you cover, national security -- it's very hard to separate cyber security from homeland security from international security many, many times depending on the issue.

So, the concern is that that is what they could run into. However, I'm told that that's been discussed. That there was a lot of debate about whether to elevate this post and the decision was do done so in large because cyber threats, cyber security need to be addressed in a more robust way from within the White House, but also because of a political reality that I addressed a little bit in the piece there, which is that the man whose the national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and some others who are working for him don't have probably the most diplomatic way to say it, the most confidence, people in Washington and around the country frankly don't have a whole lot of confidence in them, in their experience and in some cases temperament based on even what we just heard from Michael Flynn in that piece.

So, having somebody like Bossert in there with experience and with, you know, sort of credentials and maybe even the temperament and the understanding of how Washington works from the White House to Capitol Hill is something that is making people breathe a little bit of a sigh of relief.

SCIUTTO: No question. Dana Bash, thanks.

Back now with the panel and joining the conversation as well. CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich.

David, what do you make of this appointments, because you certainly have a lot of establishment figures like a Bossert. But then you have Flynn, you know, who makes a lot of people diplomatically uncomfortable. What do you make of this competition in effect in this administration?

GERGEN: Well, we know that several members of the administration oppose each other on issues such as trade, for example, a big issue. But I do think what's shaping up, Jim, in this particular case and bringing Bossert in as not only somebody from the establishment. And yes, I do think as an offset to Flynn. But I don't think that is the reason they separated him out. I think it is a big portfolio.

But I think the critical thing here is I think the cabinet is going to have a larger voice than what you have seen in the Obama administration and the Bush administration in making policy.

The homeland security is going to be rapidly enhanced of the cabinet officer, General Kelly. He's outstanding. Everybody has a great deal of respect for him in Washington. He's a heavyweight. And I think his very presence is going to emerge as the critical player in shaping homeland security.

Just like Tillerson at State is going to be -- you know, he's sort of a four star sitting there with Flynn as the one star in the White House. Tillerson will have a big voice.

SCIUTTO: Jackie, what do you make of the fact that Bossert's position now elevated to be equal with General Flynn? Do you see that as a way perhaps to subtly or maybe not too subtly temper Flynn's influence?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It definitely could be. But we've seen this in other parts of the administration. We've seen that with Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. We've seen that in other places where you see, you know, but it is going either two ways. This is either going kind of debate of both presenting their case the president or it is going to be like street fighter.

So, we'll have to see if they can work it out. But you're absolutely right, particularly on the issue of cybersecurity. We're going to have to see where Trump ends up landing, because we do have an incoming president who doesn't really have a foundation, didn't come into this with a foundation on a lot of these different issues. So, it would be up to these advisors to make their case and makes some pretty big policy decisions in the process.

SCIUTTO: Carl, you know, it seems like the team of rivals is almost the cliche of presidential administrations now. Everybody wants a team of rivals when they came in. There was a lot of talk about it with Obama. But over time, Obama -- you know, the center of power shrank to a very small group around the president.

Do you see evidence that this will be a true team of rivals in the way it operates?

BERNSTEIN: I think we've got all kinds of people in this cabinet. Some of them about to fall off the ideological ledge, and others more mainstream.

But the other thing in this particular appointment is we have a terrible cyber problem as you are earlier segment just indicated.

[20:25:02] Not just at our electoral process, free elections in the United States according to a consensus of ours intelligence community have been undermined by the Russians. Not only that, private cybersecurity in this country is a disaster.

It is known by everybody in Washington in important positions that we are woefully behind. The White House has been hacked. The State Department has been hacked. And this has been -- going to be an area where we have got to play catch up. So, this is enormously important. And then there is the element that,

look, General Flynn has turned out to shake lot of people around Trump. They think he's a flake.

And this is a problem and he's being downgraded here at least for some to see and he's going to have to agree to let this guy come along and have some equal status in their deliberations. Remember Hillary Clinton and the national security advisors to President Obama did not get along very well.

SCIUTTO: Right. And a lot of those cabinet positions they were kind of exiled --

BERNSTEIN: But healthy debate is a good thing. You know, it's not necessarily about rivalry. Healthy debate on issues and assessments is a good thing.

SCIUTTO: But, Matt Lewis, and David Gergen teed this up -- there are some fundamental differences among several of these voices now in the cabinet. I mean, you've got General Mattis, who more in line in someone supports the two-state solution for instance on Israel. Meanwhile, you have David Friedman, the incoming U.S. ambassador to Israel, who wants to give it up.

You've got a cyber guy now in this new position, Bossert for homeland security but you have a president who's denying, in effect, a massive cyberattack on the U.S. election system. I mean, these are not minor differences in points of view we're talking about here?

BERNSTEIN: Right. And I think Jackie was right. It will either work or it will fail miserably. Any time you assemble a team. I mean, think about sports. You could go out there and get an all-star team and sometimes the chemistry doesn't mesh. And then sometimes magic happens. And, obviously, the stakes are a lot higher here.

I think -- you know, but again it is not unusual for people to have differences of opinion. Say like Georgetown Herbert Walker Bush became pro-life when he joined, you know, as Reagan's running mate. He had called it voodoo economics and become a supply sider.

So, people change. I think the way it needs to work is, they go in. They argue their case behind closed doors. President Trump then makes his decision. And I sort of take solace in this. I was afraid that we were going to have a cabinet full of the Steve Bannons and Mike Flynns.

We've got balance. I think we should take solace in the fact that there is this balance and people whispering in different ears at different times.

SCIUTTO: Matt Lewis, Carl Bernstein, David Gergen, Jackie Kucinich, thanks so much to all of you.

And just ahead tonight, a sad duty, but also perhaps a happy opportunity. Remembering the unforgettable Carrie Fisher.


[20:31:31] SCIUTTO: A year marked by the death of prince and so many other stellar talents ends with the passing of a princess, Carrie Fisher.

Star Wars Princess Leia died today after suffering a heart attack on Friday, this on a flight home from London. She was an actor, a truly gifted writer. A child of Hollywood royalty. She then became a royalty in the galaxy far, far away. She was both iconic class and an icon.

As you might imagine the tributes are pouring in from those she worked with and those who simply loved her work.

CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now live again from Hollywood.

Paul, you could see that energy around you. I imagine you're hearing some pretty powerful emotional reactions there.


In fact you were talking about those people who loved her work and those are the people who are here. They are here because they love film.

And what they all point out is yes, she's Carrie Fisher, she's Princess Leia but she's so much more in Hollywood. She's also the writer of "Postcard From the Edge". She's a star in "When Harry Met Sally".

So they reflect, they're sad, they seemed somber and then all of a sudden they perked up. And they really smile when they think about what Carrie Fisher meant to all of them, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And celebrities who knew her have certainly been both weighing in with condolences as well, among them Harrison Ford. What are they saying?

VERCAMMEN: Her "Star Wars" family just deeply saddened in a way. Think of it this way, they all grew up together. And let's start by reading from Harrison Ford's statements.

He just absolutely adored Carrie Fisher. And he said, "Carrie was one of a kind, funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely." He's eluding to the fact that she was so open about various issues including addictions.

George Lucas has also a statement. "Carrie and I have been friends most of our lives. She was an extremely smart, talented actress, writer and comedian with a colorful personality that everyone loved."

And then Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, almost speechless. No words, #devastated.

Then JJ Abrams, he is the director who's taken on the Star Wars franchise for a lot of the new movies and he said basically in a handwritten post, he didn't need to meet Carrie Fisher to understand her power. And by that, he was eluding to just how immensely talented she was. Jim, just as we said both on and off the screen.

SCIUTTO: No question. Paul Vercammen, thanks very much.

Carrie Fisher was only 60 years old when she died but as Paul Vercammen just recounted, she lived those years at times, no questions to the utmost.

CNN Stephanie Elam has a look back.


CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS: I should expect to find you holding bladed leash.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carrie Fisher won the hearts of generations as Princess Leia. Inarguably the most beloved movie franchise ever, Star Wars.

Princess on screen, Hollywood royalty outfit. With a sharp wit and sharper pen. Fisher was born in Beverly Hills. Mother, actress Debby Reynolds, father, singer Eddie Fisher.

FISHER: I was primarily brought up by my mother. But I saw my father.

ELAM: Fisher definitely wove her experience as that a showbiz kid who struggled with addiction into the best selling comedic novel, "Postcards From the Edge".

FISHER: I was writing different takes on obsession. So I think that of sort of the edge and I thought of it in the car one day driving back from Palm spring with the music of love.

[20:35:04] ELAM: Fisher turned her acclaimed book into a movie starring Meryl Strep as a recovering addict embroiled and constant often funny, mother-daughter drama.

FISHER: Remember my 17th birthday party when you lifted up your skirt up in front of all those dimpled including my guys Michael.

MERYL STREP, ACTRESS: I did not lift my skirt. It twirled up.

ELAM: Fisher spoke fun at the absurdities of showbiz life and all manner of self medication including taking pills to control her emotion.

FISHER: Any mood stabilizer is a weight gainer. So whether you feel better, but then you're fat. So what you gain is a loss. It's not a good situation.

ELAM: Fisher spoke about being bipolar and often turns pain into humor. Also writing "Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic."

There seemed no lack of material. After all, Elizabeth Taylor became her stepmother when Eddie Fisher remarried.

Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon in the 1980s. Years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Billie Catherine from her relationship with agent Bryan Lourd. She debuted in the acclaimed film "Shampoo".

BILLIE CATHERINE, ACTRESS: I'm rather like my mother.

ELAM: In between the Star Wars movies, Fisher landed a mishmash of movie roles "Some Stinkers", "Under the Rainbow", "Hollywood by Squad".

FISHER: And she had names for every turn of your body.

ELAM: Received praise for "Soap Dish".

FISHER: I think we found our waiter.

ELAM: And played Meg Ryan's wisecracking friend in "When Harry Met Sally."

FISHER: Someone is starring at you in personal growth.

ELAM: But nothing could, would, or perhaps should loom larger on screen than Fisher in Star Wars.

FISHER: It transported you. It was extraordinary entertainment film making.

UNIDENTIFIDE MALE: Do you like the princess?

FISHER: I have her over sometimes, she is a little bitchy, you know.


ELAM: Nearly 40 years after making Star Wars she wrote a book based on her diaries and for the first time revealed an intense affair with the real Han Solo, Harrison Ford.

It was Han and Leia during the week and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend she wrote. Ford has not commented.

Fisher spent a lifetime trying to separate the princess from the person, one wisecrack at a time.

FISHER: I always felt like I was restricted, because I was bigger than life and twice as unpleasant.


SCIUTTO: And it is Carrie Fisher's spirit. It is already being missed. To help us remember that spirit, tonight, Matthew Belloni, executive editor of "The Hollywood Reporter" joins us now.

Matt, you Carrie Fisher course most recognized as Princess Leia through the years. But she was certainly much more than just that role, a gifted actress and extraordinary writer as well.

MATTHEW BELLONI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Absolutely. I mean of course most people know her as Princess Leia. But after she rose to fame in that role she had a very successful career as an actress in other movies like "When Harry Met Sally" and "Blues Brothers", but mostly was a writer, she was an author. She wrote "Postcards From the Edge". She wrote a One Woman Show, "Wishful Drinking" based on a memoir. And she was also a screen writer as well. She adapted "Postcards From the Edge" for the film version.

And she was a very noted Hollywood script doctor. She would work behind the scenes on movies like "Wedding Singer" and "Sister Act" and other big Hollywood blockbusters to punch them up before they started filming. And she was very well known and well paid for that.

SCIUTTO: Now off screen her candor was also certainly something she was known for, brutal honesty, very open about her personal life, her personal struggles with addiction, a difficult thing to do.

BELLONI: Yes. I mean, she was talking about her struggles at a time in the '80s and '90s when not a lot of people went public with their, you know, personal demons like alcoholism, drug abuse, that she was bipolar. She had struggles with depression. And these are all things that she not only talked about freely but she incorporated them into her art. She wrote about them. She, you know, performed stand up with them. She performed the One Woman Show about it. This is at a time when not a lot of people were being so open about these things.

SCIUTTO: No question. I just want to quote something from her book "Wishful Drinking", and a quote, "43 years ago, George Lucas ruined my life". And an added quote, "and I mean that in the nicest possible way." You know, she did not like the exposure from that film. But she did acknowledge that it gave her tremendous success, career wise.

BELLONI: Absolutely. She had a very love-hate relationship with fame. And it was something that she was prime to accept because she grew up in a showbiz family, with her mother being an actress and her father being a singer.

So she knew what she was getting into. But she achieved fame well beyond both of them. I mean, she is an international star beyond the Star Wars franchise. Perhaps one of the most beloved film franchises in history.

So I think the notoriety she got was acknowledged by her, but she also noted the downside and all of the problems that came from it especially because she became famous at such a young age.

[20:40:04] SCIUTTO: No question there. Also an author and she had a book out just recently. And one of the big revelations from that book was that 40 years ago, during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she had an affair with her co-star Harrison Ford.

What -- can you tell us about her decision to go public about that just this year so many years later? BELLONI: Yeah, this is her most recent memoir, which is based on the diaries that she kept when she was shooting "Star Wars" and after that. So, these are things that she kept personal for many, many years, ultimately decided in the new book to go public with them. I don't know why she decided now was the time. But it was perfectly in character with her because she has lived her life and she's had a public persona that is based on candor and her willingness to say anything and to really speak her mind. And she decided it was time to reveal that.

SCIUTTO: Candor and honesty. Matthew Belloni, thanks very much.

ELLONI: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And coming up, an in-depth look at a Michigan medical -- middle school incident that went viral the day after Donald Trump is elected. Seventh graders chant, "Build a Wall" at Latino students. We'll hear from the students who were targeted right after this.


SCIUTTO: Tonight, we have an in-depth look at one Michigan community still grappling with a heart-breaking post-election incident that was seen around the world.

[20:45:04] You might have seen the video. Middle school students shouting, "Build a wall" at Latino students the very day after Donald Trump won. For the first time, the targets of that cruelty are speaking out.

Kelly Wallace reports.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a winter wonderland of holiday lights and music, Royal Oak Michigan just outside Detroit is a community trying to heal itself.


WALLACE: This video of seventh graders chanting "build a wall" catapulted Royal Oaks middle school into the national spotlight the day after Donald Trump won the election. Best friends Isabelle Castilla and Josie Ramon were in the lunchroom that day along with a few other Hispanic students. This is the first time the girls have told their story publicly.

ISABELLE CASTILLA, 7TH GRADER: All of a sudden you hear some kids chanting something and then it gets louder and then you hear what they are saying. And then they're banging their hands against the tables.

WALLACE: Isabelle fled to the bathroom in tears, leaving a frightened Josie behind.

JOSIE RAMON, 7TH GRADER: It was so hard, because these are my friends. And I see them just saying these awful things. And it was so hard to look and just watch. And not be able do anything because I was afraid.

WALLACE: The girls say this is not the first time they have witnessed racism at the prominently white middle school. So Josie took out her phone and recorded what she saw, texting the video to her mom.

J. RAMON: Nobody had really listened to me, and I needed evidence so I could show my mom and my dad so it wouldn't be my word against theirs.

WALLACE: A lot of voices.

ALICIA RAMON, JOSIE'S MOTHER: Yeah. It wasn't just a couple of kids.

WALLACE: Right. Shocked and concerned Alicia Ramon sent the video privately to a few middle school parents. It is one of those parents not Alicia who shared it on Facebook. Within hours the video went viral generating millions of views and a backlash anger toward the school.

SHAWN LEWIS-LAKIN, ROYAL OAK SUPERINTENDENT: The attention that primps has to grow and to improve is both my attention. Condemnations of the entire school and community threats against the school and community brought an unwelcome level of attention. That was very destructive.

WALLACE: Royal Oak's superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said police were brought in to patrol the campus to ease parents' concerns. But fearful families wanted more.

J. RAMON: They said I should have been suspended or even expelled.

CASTILLA: They're saying that it is Josie's fault for taking the video. This never would have happened if she didn't take it.

WALLACE: Just a week after the "build the wall" chant went viral, Royal Oak middle school was rocked again. This time when a noose was found in a boy's bathroom.

Your reaction to that?

LEWIS-LAKIN: Profoundly troubling. Immediately was over at the middle school making sure that the investigation was fully engaged, that the police were on site because an incident of that magnitude goes beyond just school discipline.

WALLACE: That student was quickly identified and has since been expelled but Isabelle and Josie remember the fear they felt when they heard what was found.

J. RAMON: I was terrified. I was so scared. I was afraid that they're going to hurt me or Isabelle.

A. RAMON: Today, we're making progress, or moving forward.

WALLACE: The back-to-back incidents have sparked action among mothers in this community who along with Alicia Ramon want the pain to bring positive change.

CARMEN WARGEL, ROYAL OAK RESIDENT: It is important that we make it very clear that this isn't who Royal Oak is, that we're better than this.

WALLACE: They're working closely with the superintendent advocating for more diversity training for teachers and students and a review of the curriculum. That is welcome news for the schools future but unfortunately Josie felt so ostracized that Royal Oak that she has withdrawn and is now attending a private school.

J. RAMON: I was tired of how they're treating me. I couldn't take it any longer. They would glare at me. People would see me in the hallways and turn around and walk the other way.

WALLACE: Like what a feeling that all.

J. RAMON: No, I feel like an animal.

WALLACE: Just one week after starting the new school, Josie's family already sees a difference.

A. RAMON: She was joking; she was fun, she was back to her usual self. A kid I hadn't seen since this happened. It was like seeing a weight that was lifted off of her shoulders.

WALLACE: And while Josie feels badly leaving her best friend behind at Royal Oak Middle, she is looking forward to the future and has no regrets.

J. RAMON; I think if I had to go through this again, to help everybody else who is Mexican-American I would do it thousand million bazillion more times.

[20:50:13] WALLACE: Kelly Wallace, CNN, Royal Oak Michigan.


SCIUTTO: Powerful story. Coming up, going to a mall on the day after Christmas can be stressful enough. Then this happens. And as you'll see, it was far from the only such incident. That's right after this.


SCIUTTO: It was post-Christmas chaos at shopping centers across the country, as people decked the malls with brawls of fury. In one mall after another yesterday, fights broke out that led to injuries, arrests, lockdowns, even evacuations.

Sara Sidner reports.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mayhem in more than a dozen shopping malls across the U.S., from Colorado to New York, teenage brawls broke out in malls hacked with families including Garden City, New York, where terrified shoppers were caught up in a stampede, kicked off by false reports of a shooting there. At least one person left on a stretcher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was with my son and my wife. And my son fell down. They almost ran over him. It was pretty intense.

SIDNER: In Manchester Connecticut, a brawl broke out inside the shops at Buckland Hills. And in Aurora, Illinois, several fights there led to at least seven arrests, including a 14-year-old. The mall shut down for the rest of the day.

ALEXIS MALONE, WITNESS: Everyone shut off their phones. I see the police rushing in. I see kids hitting each other, kids trampling each other. So it was just madness.

[20:55:02] SIDNER: In Fort Worth, Texas, a mall was put on lockdown. Police say more than a hundred middle and high school students were caught up in a fight. And in Ohio, another mall, another fight in the food court. In Colorado, police believe the fight at the Aurora Town Mall was actually planned.

SGT. CHRIS AMSLER, AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT: There was something that was going around on social media about a fight that was going to take place here at the town center of Aurora, which is what drew all of these people who were up to no good to our mall.

SIDNER: Despite the similarities in all the incidents, law enforcement isn't clear on whether they were coordinated in any way.


SCIUTTO: Sarah, so our law enforcement officials worried about more of these kinds of incidents happening, going forward?

SIDNER: They certainly are. They hope that this is not a trend that is being started. But they still can't pinpoint whether or not there was one specific incident that created all of the rest.

In other words, if there were something in social media that they can find that they are certainly following through it. We should mention this last bit here. You know, with all the things happening with soft targets, terrorism or mass shootings. Really, people are reacting in a very big way to some of these things.

When they see people running and screaming, they automatically think it has something to do with either terrorism or that there's a shooter in place. And that's what caused some people to end up the getting hurt in a stampede, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. I can see how that kind of -- that could scare them. Sara Sidner, thanks very much. And we'll be right back.


[21:00:11] SCIUTTO: That does it for us. Thanks for watching, I'm Jim Sciutto. "All the Best, All the Worst 2016", hosted by Tom Foreman is next.