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Trump Tweets Target Media, United Nations, and Obama; Fallout Grows From U.N. Vote on Israeli Settlements; Trump Prepares to Deliver Inaugural Address. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Continuing the Christmas theme, the baby's name is, I love this, Ebenezer.

LEMON: But not Scrooge, right, but Ebenezer, right? After he had gone through the whole thing, yes.

HARLOW: What do you want? What was that?

LEMON: I liked this little setup right here. Where is the yule log?

HARLOW: He wants a little fireplace. Guys? No?

LEMON: And I'm going to sit there and eat popcorn and fireplace, and watch Suzanne Malveaux who's in for Carol Costello.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good to see you, guys. Can you imagine the kid in school, Ebenezer, trying to explain his name? That's going to be a tough one, I think.

HARLOW: Oh. We'll just call him Nez.

MALVEAUX: We'll see. Yes.

HARLOW: It's cute.


MALVEAUX: All right. Well, good to see you, guys.

LEMON: You, too, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well, the news doesn't stop just because the holiday is here. NEWSROOM starts right now.

Good morning, I'm Suzanne Malveaux in for Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me.

The President-elect Donald Trump taking shots now at some of his favorite targets, blasting the media for its coverage of his charity, dismissing the United Nations as a place where people only want to, quote, "have a good time," and even slamming the President after Obama claimed he could have won a third term in office. All of this as Mr. Trump prepares to resume transition meetings this morning at his Mar- a-Lago resort.

Jessica Schneider, she is live in Palm Beach. Jessica, what do we know about what Trump said about President Obama?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, we do know that Donald Trump has previously praised the President, but all of that seems to be out the window after President Obama sat down for a podcast with his former senior advisor, David Axelrod. And in that podcast President Obama said that he believes if he were eligible for a third term, that he would have won saying the voters, he believes, would have embraced his message of hope and inclusion.

Well, upon hearing that, the President-elect took to Twitter firing back. Donald Trump unleashing late yesterday saying this on Twitter, saying, "President Obama said he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that, but I say no way. Jobs leaving, ISIS, Ocare, et cetera."

Of course, Donald Trump did base his campaign on channeling some of that anger from Americans on jobs that were lost, on the economy, on trade, as well as on Obamacare. It seems that Donald Trump may be channeling some of that anger or some of his own anger now on Twitter. He's been quite active on Twitter ever since the election and, of course, unleashing in a flurry of tweets overnight.

And while it does seem all quiet here at Mar-a-Lago, we haven't seen much from the President since Christmas Eve, he definitely is making his presence known quite forcefully on Twitter, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Yes. And also he raised some eyebrows with comments about the United Nations as well. What is he saying?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Donald Trump has been very vocal ever since that U.N. Security Council vote condemning those Israeli settlements in the West Bank in East Jerusalem that happened last week. In fact, just hours after the vote last week, Donald Trump did take to Twitter calling it a big loss for Israel.

And then, of course, in the past few days, there has been a wave of criticism, also some push back. Donald Trump once again taking to Twitter yesterday to essentially condemn the United Nations, tweeting this, saying, "The United Nations has such great potential, but right now, it's just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time. So sad."

Donald Trump has been very outspoken on a range of issues over Twitter and now turning his focus to foreign policy, in particular this U.N. Security Council vote on those Israeli settlements. Donald Trump making it very clear that he will back and be an advocate for Israel, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Jessica Schneider, lots to talk about and not waiting until January 20th. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And, of course, as Jessica mentioned, talking about foreign policy, Israel cutting working ties with 12 nations today. This is a fallout from the U.N. Security Council gross. Those 12 nations supported a resolution condemning Israel's West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements. And while the action was meant to underscore Prime Minister Netanyahu's anger over the resolution, it will have no impact on Israel's diplomatic ties with the United States. But still tensions between the two governments are undeniable.


DAVID KEYES, SPOKESPERSON TO FOREIGN MEDIA FOR PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We have ironclad information from sources in the Arab world and internationally, and we're going to share that information with the incoming administration through the proper channels. And if the new administration chooses to share that information, that's their prerogative.

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION FOR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: By definition, it's not an ambush when President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been saying in hundreds of conversations and in public comments that Israeli settlement activity was pushing into the West Bank in a way that was making the two-state solution unachievable.


MALVEAUX: CNN has now just learned that Israel is moving ahead with plans to build hundreds of homes in East Jerusalem. That is defying the U.N. resolution. I want to bring in our Oren Liebermann. He is in Jerusalem where he is tracking all of the movements. These are fast-moving developments.

[09:05:09] And, Oren, I want to get to that in a minute here, but, first of all, let's give us some perspective on the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel and why it is so unique.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. has long protected Israel at the Security Council against resolutions that the U.S. and Israel consider anti-Israel. In fact, it was Samantha Power and even U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who've said the U.N. has an anti- Israel bias. So it's long been the policy that the U.S. would protect Israel there.

That's just a small part of this relationship that goes to military coordination. The U.S. just re-signed a memorandum of understanding for military aid, $38 billion deal. That's the most military foreign aid the U.S. has ever given to any other country. And that's just scratching the surface here.

This is a long relationship, a deep relationship, and one that's very important to both the U.S. and Israel. That's something both the administrations have made clear, the Obama and the Netanyahu administration, as this relationship between these two world leaders falls apart in its final days.

MALVEAUX: Really can't overstate that, and that's why so many people are paying attention. Oren Liebermann, thank you so much.

I want to bring in for further discussion, Jon Alterman. He's the director of Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thank you so much for being with us here. Let's talk about this first. The U.N. Security Council resolution, it is nonbinding. So are we going to see any immediate effects of the resolution, if any?

JON ALTERMAN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES MIDDLE EAST PROGRAM: Well, the first effects are political effects. I think, in many ways, President Obama felt that he's exempt from political effects because he's on his way out as President. Prime Minister Netanyahu is responding to this, I think, principally politically because his problem is not on the left in Israel; his problem is being challenged from the right.

He feels he's susceptible to a charge that he weakened U.S.-Israeli relations, so he's trying to reach out to the incoming Trump administration, on the one hand. And he's trying to rally the troops to show that he's the defender of the status quo in Israel, which, quite frankly, is where the center of the Israeli public is.

MALVEAUX: But Israel have cut working ties with multiple nations, not the United States, which has been the target of so much of the anger that we have heard recently from Israeli officials. So for the second die, those officials, they're claiming to have proof that the U.S. actually directed this U.N. vote.

They say they're not going to reveal this publicly, at least not yet. They're going to give it to the Trump administration to figure out what to do with it. There's a lot of talk about that. Do you think any of this is significant when it comes to actions that need to be taken now in the days to come?

ALTERMAN: No. First of all, I've spoken to people in the White House. I've spoken to people in the State Department. I think it's very unlikely, in fact, impossible, in my mind in that the Obama administration orchestrated this. Maybe the Obama administration didn't act as vociferously as the Israelis would have like stepping down. I don't think they orchestrated it.

The problem the Israelis have is, on the one hand, they're vociferous that Israel doesn't spy on the United States, and yet they claim to have evidence of what the U.S. was doing which, presumably, requires some sort of intelligence about the U.S. government. So I think the Israeli government is very careful, whereas the Prime Minister talked about having intelligence. What we just heard in the clip before was we learned from other governments.

I think the Israelis have a very narrow line to walk here. What they're going to try to do is, again, to use this politically in Israel to say we haven't harmed Israeli relations with the United States. We're going to build them better in the Trump administration and try to use closer ties to get a balance politically in Israel for the strength of U.S.-Israeli ties.

MALVEAUX: Now, we have learned that Secretary Kerry is set to give a speech this week on the Obama administration's vision for Middle East peace. This is interesting, the timing to say the least, because I'm wondering if it's going to have any impact at all. President Obama departing the White House in less than a month here.

What is the point of this? Is it simply symbolic? Is it a sign for the next administration to, at least, aspire to what the Obama administration wants to do?

ALTERMAN: I think there are a couple of things going on. First, Secretary Kerry has given any number of speeches which represented Secretary Kerry's effort to move a wall forward. They haven't necessarily reflected due to what the U.S. government would do or what the U.S. government has believed, and I think that, in many ways, Secretary Kerry is trying to leave a marker.

I think President Obama is also trying to leave a marker. When I spoke to people in the White House, what I kept hearing from people was this sense that the problem of Arab-Israeli peace has gotten worse, not better since he's been there, that a two-state solution seems farther away rather than closer.

And what President Obama was confronted with was a decision, in his final days as President, is he going the to put down a marker saying that settlements are closing the door to a two-state solution and he's opposed to that, as he's been telling the Israelis all along, or whether he would go quietly into night.

[09:10:10] And the President decided, at the end of the day, with no political repercussions, he would not go quietly. He put a marker so even if this two-state solution falls apart, he can say, but I warned against it and I did what I could.

MALVEAUX: So President Obama is putting down a marker here. Moving forward, nearly half of the country voted for Donald Trump, and his supporters clearly put the economy, trade deals, immigration at the top of the agenda. So how does this spat with Israel speak to them?

ALTERMAN: I'm not sure it does. My perception of the Trump coalition is there are some people who think that the U.S. should be supporting freedom around the world. There are some people who think the U.S. should be fighting Islamic extremism around the world. There are some people who say the U.S. should be standing by Israel.

I'm not sure it's a coalition that has a view on foreign policy in general, let alone on the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular. My sense is that there are some people who think the U.S. should spend less time being concerned with the world, and some people who say, look, of all the countries in the world, the one that's fighting terror just like we are is Israel and we should support Israel. And I think that President-elect Trump is trying to speak to that part of his constituency, but it's not all of his constituency. MALVEAUX: All right. Jon Alterman, thank you so much. We really

appreciate your perspective. Happy holidays.

Still to come, Donald Trump's inauguration is not going to have the star-studded line up that we've seen in the past. So is the pressure on to nail the big speech?


[09:14:57] MALVEAUX: We are just 24 days away from the inauguration and what will likely to be one of the most important moments of Donald Trump's presidency, his inaugural address. And while we haven't seen a draft yet, we do know some of the expected themes, including education, infrastructure, border security, the state of the military, the economy, and outsourcing of labor.

Will the first address bring a divided nation together?

To discuss that we are joined by the author of "Confessions of a Presidential Speechwriter", Craig Smith, and the director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, Larry Sabato.

So, thank you very much, both of you for joining us during the holiday here.

Craig, let's start with you. One of Trump's top policy aides has been directed to write this address. He is Steven Miller. You have been in his shoes writing for Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, leading up to the critical moment when the torch is passed.

So, just take us through that. What are you going through? What's going through in your head in terms of the message that Trump needs to deliver to the country? Is this one of unity or is it perhaps something else?

CRAIG SMITH, AUTHOR, CONFESSIONS OF A PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER: I think the first thing that a speech writer looks at is the audience, and what is the audience's expectation? The inaugural is a special kind of speech and it's the only speech of its type. You become president right before you give the inaugural address, so normally the inaugural address is high-minded, but at the same time, you want to adjust to what the audience expects.

And we know that Donald Trump likes to break the mold. So, I think we're all going to be holding our breath to see if he can stay on script and what kind of inaugural address he's going to give. Whether it's one that's going to be highly eloquent and philosophical or whether it's going to deal with specific issues that his audience expects him to talk about.

MALVEAUX: Larry, talk about the specifics. We do know some of the themes that is going to echo and they have echoed throughout the campaign. We're talking about America first, make America great again.

So, tell us what's at stake in terms of that main message that he needs to cut through and deliver on that day?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Suzanne, the early word is that they're going to be more nationalistic than ideological. I think that would be wise if, in fact, that's what they do. The themes that he selected are what you would expect. They're what he campaigned on.

Most of them depending on how he phrases them could be unifying. And I think that's one of his great challenges, how to unify the nation after such a divisive campaign. And let's face it -- he's a very divisive personality. It would be to his great advantage to add five or ten points of popularity, however temporary that addition turns out to be, because it would help with his early agenda in Congress and around the country.

MALVEAUX: And, Craig, you gave us a list of your picks of some of the most effective lines that you believe from previous inaugural addresses. So, let's listen to some of them.


FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT: Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.


MALVEAUX: So, Craig, explain why those cut through the noise?

SMITH: Well, starting with the last one, Barack Obama where he's actually borrowing a phrase from George Gershwin, from a song that was written in '30s. I think it was kind of unifying. And it was, ironically, the most remembered line in the speech was something he borrowed.

In Reagan's case, it's an entirely different approach, where you get from the line exactly the transformation that he's looking at. He's going to put government back in its place. There's going to be a new federalism that we examine. The state is going to have more responsibilities. So, the line had a lot of weight to it when Reagan delivered it.

If you go back to FDR, you have to realize the situation at the time was one of terrible crisis. We were in depression. A third of the workers had been thrown out of work. The nation was in a panic and he need to calm the nation down. That wonderful line with its repetition and its rhythm, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, calm the nation down and gave it some confidence.

So, I think those are some of the things you can do in an inaugural address.

MALVEAUX: All right. Larry, we know Steven Miller, he wrote Trump's convention speech. That speech, as you know, very fiery, audacious, and it gives us some clues, perhaps, what we can take in terms of substance and tone for the Inauguration Day. Do you think that will strike that same kind of tone or will it be more unifying?

[09:20:05] SABATO: I think it would be a mistake to do the convention speech again or anything like it, because, of course, that was seen as a gloomy, dark, divisive speech which, of course, helped to elect Donald Trump. You have to convince people that the current conditions are not sufficient and you need a change. And that's what Trump was able to do sufficiently for the Electoral College.

For an inaugural address, again, with this particular individual, Donald Trump, the more notes that he can strike that are unifying, the better off he is going to be and the better off his agenda will be in Congress and across the nation. Whether he can do it, I don't know. He might get more impact from tweeting it out, which I suspect will be done as well.

MALVEAUX: That's a great point.

Craig, pick up on that because, you know, I remember the last couple of inaugurations, it was pretty darn cold outside. Everybody was trying to stay warm and stay focused. Of course, it was an important moment.

But how important is it, really, the significance of that. Do people take it away? Do they remember what they heard or do they get that feeling like, OK, the leadership has changed, we're moving in a different direction?

SMITH: Well, I think, you know, I remember the 1984 inaugural, it was so cold that we had to move into the Capitol. It wasn't outside. And so, hopefully the weather will be better for Donald Trump.

One of the things that I think Steven Miller did in the acceptance speech that would transfer into the inaugural was the closing lines of that speech. What Steven Miller wrote were lines that concluded the convention that had been themes of the convention every day, make America strong again, make America secure again, put America to work again. I think those things could be taken into an inaugural without taking the baggage of some of the negative stuff that was in that acceptance speech.

So, we're going to see whether there's going to be a change and a shift, whether Donald Trump becomes more presidential in the speech as he's sworn in and then gives the inaugural address.

MALVEAUX: I think people are waiting to see if that transformation occurs.

Craig Smith, Larry Sabato, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Of course, we'll all be watching.

Still to come, 'tis the season to trade punches?


MALVEAUX: Yes. Mall brawl. Breaking out in nearly a dozen cities from Colorado to Connecticut.


[09:26:18] MALVEAUX: The opening bell is just moments away. Since Election Day, we have seen a Trump bump. That is not lost in the president-elect.

Donald Trump tweeting last night, "The world was gloomy before I won. There was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over $1 trillion."

But can Trump really take credit?

Well, CNN's Cristina Alesci, she is joining us now to talk about this.

Is this right?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the market does love him right now, but the market also loved the fact that the Republicans controlled Congress, which should clear up some gridlock. And while there are signs as Trump suggested in that tweet that consumers are more confident, the picture is a little less certain for overall economic growth.

Let's take the two parts of his tweet, one at a time. First, the market is up about 9 percent since the election, which is an incredible run, but the question now is, how long will it last?

Investors have already factored in what Trump has talked about, reduced taxes, and regulations, especially for large corporations. In other words, all the optimism about his policies may already be baked in before going any higher or even preserving gains that we've had, the market needs to see Trump follow through on his promises. It needs to see how corporations and consumers react to all of the policy changes if they have them. For example, are consumers and companies going to spend their tax savings or save them?

Obviously, more spending will drive growth but keep in mind most economists have kept forecasts for overall economic growth at 2 percent, which is, by the way, pretty anemic. Despite what Trump says about consumers, they're not necessarily feeling a whole lot better. Look, he cites that projection of holiday spending of $1 trillion. But there is an estimate that that estimate is more like $655 billion, which is still a good number, but not a trillion.

Based on my reporting, Suzanne, investors are waiting for some more solid data before buying into this market, and some of them worry about stock prices have gone too far too fast.

MALVEAUX: So the conclusion is not yet, just not quite yet?

ALESCI: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks a lot.

ALESCI: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: Appreciate it.

A meltdown at malls across the country. We're talking about brawls breaking out in several states. Nearly a dozen incidents were reported at malls from Texas to Connecticut to Illinois. Several forced to evacuate or lock down after false reports of shots fired send shoppers running.

Our CNN's Sara Sidner, she is live in Los Angeles.

Sara, just what -- what's going on?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, that's a good question. Police in many different cities are trying to figure that out. There was mayhem in shopping malls from Colorado all the way over to Connecticut, brawls breaking out among teenagers in malls packed with families doing the traditional post-holiday shopping run to find deals or return the unwanted gifts as we all do.

This is what they encountered in Manchester, Connecticut. People screaming as punches are thrown inside the shops at Buckland Hills Mall. This one ended with a chase and an officer reportedly assaulted as the officer tried to break it up.

Then we move on to Fort Worth, Texas, where a mall was put on lockdown after a massive fight ensues near the food court. There were reportedly more than 100 middle and high school students involved in that madness. It ended up with officers going store to store to let the people who were shopping out once that lockdown was lifted.

And then in Aurora, Illinois, another fight involving multiple people at Fox Valley Mall. That mall was forced to close for the entire day. You see the fights are happening both on the top and the bottom.