Return to Transcripts main page
Mall Chaos Started on Social Media?; Obama Critics Slam His Foreign Policy; The Most Unforgettable Election Moments; Pearl Harbor Witness Recalls Attacks. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired December 27, 2016 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: In light of that suspicion there, did the police or authorities think they could get ahead of this next time, if there's another holiday when a lot of kids are out and about and they're out of school, that they might be able to search through social media sites and really kind of predict or see ahead of time those messages going out where those kids are going to be and they're expecting perhaps some problems?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know that a lot of departments have these tech guys whose job it is to kind of go through social media a bit to try to see what's going on, but it's really, really difficult because there is so many different kinds of social media like SnapChat where you can send something and then it disappears. Very hard to trace, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: All right. Sara Sidner, thank you so much, appreciate it.
Good morning, I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me.
President Obama may only have a few days left in his presidency but he is not going quietly. The administration ramping up in the fight against ISIS and Secretary of State John Kerry set to lay out the United States' plan for peace in the Middle East. But critics say over the past eight years the president hasn't done enough.
Richard Cohen of "The Washington Post" citing a meeting between Turkey, Iran and Russia to talk terror in the region that the U.S. was not invited. Cohen saying, quote, "Barack Obama is a 21st century man who never quite appreciated the lessons of the 20th." Saying, quote, "He has been all too happy to preside over the loss of American influence."
Well, let's talk about this. Joining me now, CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer and Karen Greenberg, she is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University Law School.
Thank you so much for joining us, guys.
So, Bob, let's just start with you here. Richard Cohen, he lays this argument out pretty clearly. Do you think that American leadership is dwindling?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, certainly it is in the Middle East, Suzanne. Look, Obama came into the White House saying, look, the place is broken, there's not much I can do with it. Iraq is broken. We can ameliorate. When ISIS took over Mosul in 2014, he reacted at that point, but generally he has kept a hands-off policy on the Middle East and it shows. And the fact that we were not invited to this meeting in Moscow between Iran, Turkey and Russia, it tells us that we are fairly irrelevant in Syria. And Turkey, for one, is completely fed up with Washington, the Obama administration, because of the fall of Aleppo and all the refugees have been driven into Turkey and the fact that we've been arming the Kurds. They consider that an existential problem. So losing Turkey in this whole thing has not been helpful.
MALVEAUX: Karen, we heard just a couple of weeks ago President Obama in his press conference -- his final press conference of the year lay out in a pretty detailed way about why it is that the U.S. did not go full force boots on the ground in Syria. That that was not something that he thought was worth it.
What do you make of that? What do you make of his doctrine, his philosophy here? Because he seemed quite pained by that scenario.
KAREN GREENBERG, TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I think one thing can be said that it's possible that President Obama's reaction to the Middle East and his policy decisions has been very much the 21st century way of going about it, which is not putting boots on the ground, not rushing to get involved in anything. Doing things in a more stealth and strategic way, certainly with his drone program. His drone killing program. Trying to cut off the head of al Qaeda and ISIS. It's a very different way of participating.
He also does not want to get involved in a long war. And I'm not so sure that he's rueful about this. I think that he may very much think that he's done what he wanted to do. If anything, the amount of troops he's leaving, say, in Afghanistan, the 8,000 plus troops, and the amount of commitment in Iraq is still more than he ever intended he would have. But I don't think it's about an intention not to have American power in the world. I think it's a way of understanding American power in a different way.
We're still very much involved, contrary to Cohen's op-ed today, in a way as prosecutors, as jailers, as the policemen of the world. But I think it has shifted and I would say this is the 21st century model. Not the 20th century model.
MALVEAUX: And to your point, Karen, also the United States is very much involved in a humanitarian -- a very big humanitarian role around the world.
Bob, talk about Secretary John Kerry. He's preparing the speech now for the American vision for the Middle East. We know that from the very beginning this was something that President Obama wanted to do. He made it clear within his first 100 days. A big disappointment for the administration. Why now? Why would the secretary of State lay out a vision, a plan? I mean, does it really matter?
[10:35:06] BAER: It doesn't matter at this point. Trump has made it clear that he's going to disrupt the peace negotiations. He's going to do it -- he's going to do Iraq a different way, Syria and the rest of it. This administration coming in is so far to the right it's unpredictable what it's going to do at this point.
That abstaining on that resolution regarding Israel and the settlements is completely irrelevant to what's coming. You know, Obama has been frustrated with the Israelis for the last eight years because stopping the settlements was key to a two-state solution. That didn't happen. There's nothing you can do, and you know, taking Karen's remarks, she's absolutely right.
I mean, look, there's just not much you can do with the Middle East. I'd go back to 2003, the day we invaded Iraq, everything changed. And, you know, blaming Obama for not fixing what happened in 2003 is just senseless to me.
You know, I think the administration's doing the best it can. This is the plan we would have pursued had we had a third term but at the end of the day it's too late.
MALVEAUX: Karen, let's talk about the ISIS, the fight against ISIS. The Obama administration does say that it's expected to ramp up the fight against ISIS in the weeks ahead. Is there anything that the president, the administration, the Pentagon, can now set in motion that could make an impact leading to the next administration?
GREENBERG: Well, I want to return to something Bob said in answering this question, which is that I'm not sure there's going to be that much different, at least initially, in the strategy towards ISIS. President Trump, President-elect Trump has said over and over again that he intends to pursue ISIS with combating terrorist financing. With some kind of Navy help on the ground, maybe in an advisory role, maybe in more of a role, to use an attack in a social media framework. These are the kinds of things the Obama administration is doing and that they could ramp up.
In terms of the military presence in ISIS occupied or ISIS contested areas, I think the Obama administration is going to continue what it does. If they do more of the kind. I'm not sure that Trump will go different from that. At least in his initial months in office. So yes, what he does can have an impact, but my guess is it's going to be more of the same.
MALVEAUX: Well, every president has a different doctrine and a different leadership style. It will be interesting to see what Donald Trump will bring to the table.
Karen Greenberg and Bob Baer, thank you both for your perspectives. Really appreciate it.
In a year packed full of history-making events, what are we going to remember most about 2016 in politics? Next, we count down the top 10 election moments.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:41:17] MALVEAUX: 2016 will be remembered as the start of a whole new political era in the U.S. It brought out the good, the bad and the downright nasty. So what will we remember most?
Dana Bash counts down the memorable moments of 2016.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Controversial, unprecedented and unexpected. 2016 was an election year for the ages with an ending meant to disrupt Washington and that it did.
(Voice-over): The fight for the GOP presidential nomination hit new lows in 2016, as Republicans scrambled to beat frontrunner Donald Trump at his own game.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: And you know what they say about men with small hands? You can't trust them. You can't trust them. You can't trust them.
BASH: The insults got under Trump's skin.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: He referred to my hands, if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee it.
BASH: But nothing could knock the billionaire from the top spot.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: All right, everybody, welcome.
BASH: In a remarkable display of GOP hesitation and consternation about Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in government, refused to endorse the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
RYAN: Well, to be perfectly candid with you, Jake, I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.
BASH: Then, touche, Trump parroted Ryan's language in an interview with "The Washington Post."
(On camera): "I like Paul but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership, and I'm just not quite there yet."
(Voice-over): Ryan did eventually offer Trump a tepid endorsement but the party's discomfort with their unconventional nominee persisted through Election Day.
On the Democratic side, there was Hillary Clinton's rhetorical fumble about Trump voters.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it. BASH: She issued an apology but Trump embraced the moniker.
TRUMP: Remember what Hillary Clinton said, basket of deplorables, right?
BASH (on camera): Months of intra-party fighting culminated in two historic conventions. Each party tried to repair their rift before the general election.
(Voice-over): In Cleveland, a public display of GOP disunity. Trump's former rival, Senator Ted Cruz, was invited to speak but refused to endorse the nominee.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Stand and speak and vote your conscience.
BASH: Trump, ever the showman, stole Cruz's thunder, appearing in the family box in the middle of the speech.
And in Philly, it was an unknown couple, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who took on Trump.
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF MUSLIM-AMERICAN SOLDIER: Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will -- I will gladly lend you my copy.
BASH: Trump took the bait, going after the Gold Star family in interviews and on Twitter and handing Hillary a post-convention lead.
For President Obama, 2016 was personal.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Donald is not really a plans guy. He's not really a facts guy either.
[10:45:02] BASH: Obama eviscerated Trump on the campaign trail and Trump hit back.
TRUMP: He is the founder of ISIS. He's the founder of ISIS.
BASH: But after years of stoking conspiracies about President Obama's birthplace, Trump reversed course for the sake of his own presidential run.
TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.
BASH (on camera): Then there were the debates. The candidate's performances in three face-to-face fights were must-see TV for voters.
CLINTON: Hello. Hello.
BASH (voice-over): Clinton used the matchups to lure Trump off message.
CLINTON: He called this woman Miss Piggy. Then he called her Miss Housekeeping because she was Latina.
Donald, she has a name. TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
BASH: But Trump successfully painted Clinton as more of the same, part of the problem in Washington, which, it turns out, really resonated.
TRUMP: She's been doing this for 30 years. And why hasn't she made the agreements better?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The monster political storm rocking Donald Trump's campaign.
BASH: October brought an unwelcomed surprise for the Trump campaign. And instantly infamous caught on tape moment from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" appearance where the Republican nominee is heard making extremely lewd comments about women.
TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it, you can do anything.
BILLY BUSH, FORMER HOST, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Whatever you want.
BASH: Those words led to a string of accusations from women saying Trump sexually assaulted them. With only weeks until the election, it seemed like the contest might be over.
But in a stunning move, FBI Director James Comey broke historical precedent by taking action 11 days before the election and handed the Clinton campaign their own October surprise.
Comey had more power than usual since Attorney General Loretta Lynch was compromised after Bill Clinton boarded her plane during the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Comey decided not to bring charges against Clinton in June. But then he sent a letter to Congress a week and a half before the election, saying the FBI was looking into additional e-mails discovered on Anthony Weiner's home computer.
CLINTON: It is incumbent on the FBI to tell us what they're talking about.
BASH: He cleared Clinton again before November 8th. But her team points directly to his actions as a key reason for her loss.
CLINTON: I accept your nomination for president of the United States.
BASH: After trying in 2008, Hillary Clinton did make history in 2016. Becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. Still, she talked about the historic benchmark she failed to reach.
CLINTON: I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But some day someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. BASH: For the political world, 2016 will be remembered with one head
spinning day. November 8th.
(On camera): CNN can report that Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race. She has called Donald Trump to say that she will not be president.
(Voice-over): Even Donald Trump himself appeared surprised.
TRUMP: As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement.
BASH (on camera): Voters certainly called for change in 2016. The test for 2017 is whether Donald Trump, a first-time politician and unconventional candidate and president-elect, can deliver his promise to fix Washington.
MALVEAUX: And tonight, CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look back at the rowdiest moments of the year. "ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST 2016" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m.
And ahead, we'll hear from one man who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor, what he has to say about Japan's prime minister visiting the site. That's up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT LEE, WITNESSES PEARL HARBOR: Hate is the greatest destroyer of anyone. The idea that you can harbor hate -- will destroy you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:52:41] MALVEAUX: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making history today becoming the first sitting Japanese leader to pay his respects at Pearl Harbor's USS Arizona Memorial. This visit comes 75 years since the attack and seven months since President Obama became the first president to visit Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.
Later today, Abe and Obama will lay a wreath and speak at the site. Abe says his visit will, quote, "soothe the souls of the victims. We should never repeat the ravages of war."
Earlier, CNN's Athena Jones spoke with one man who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor and got his take on Abe's visit.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 95-year-old Robert Lee says he's glad to see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe making this trip.
LEE: I think that's the greatest thing in the world. I think we've already gone through quite a bit of healing.
JONES: He remembers well the day of Japan's surprise attack 75 years ago when more than 2400 people lost their lives.
LEE: It's very vivid in my memory, very much so.
JONES: Still a young man, just two years out of high school ROTC, he looked on from his bedroom. Later dashing to his front lawn as Japanese bombers flew low over his home, headed for Battleship Row.
LEE: I grabbed my 22 caliber target rifle and shot all 16 22-caliber lead shots.
JONES (on camera): At the plane?
LEE: At the planes. Of course --
JONES: Thinking that it would work?
LEE: Of course not. No. It was just to kill a mouse.
JONES (voice-over): He watched as the USS Arizona just a mile away exploded.
LEE: It was that orange -- red-orange color about three seconds, and then it exploded. The fire went up hundreds of feet from this, from the whole ship, and the crackling of the fire was overwhelming.
JONES: As those who could fought back, Lee helped to wash the oil off of sailors who jumped to safety, their ships under attack. Later helping to transport the injured to treatment facilities. By midnight, he had joined the military, serving domestically throughout the war. It was a long, emotional day that left Lee angry, but he isn't angry anymore.
[10:55:05] LEE: Hate is the greatest destroyer of anyone. The idea that you can harbor hate -- will destroy you.
JONES: It's that understanding the president celebrated at Hiroshima.
OBAMA: Since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.
JONES: A message Prime Minister Abe is certain to echo as he pays tribute at this watery grave, now a sacred site.
Athena Jones, CNN, Honolulu, Hawaii.
MALVEAUX: Russia's Defense Ministry says divers have found the black box data recording from a crashed Russian military jet. But it could take weeks to extract all the data from the recorder. The plane's cockpit voice recorder is still missing. Strong currents and deep water have complicated the search. The plane was carrying 92 people when it went down Sunday in the Black Sea.
And a Facebook invite goes viral. Thousands show up to a 15-year- old's birthday party in central Mexico. The crowd was so large police had to deploy extra security. A 66-year-old man died at the party and another was injured after they were trampled during a horse race.
The invitation was supposed to be for a much smaller gathering but 1.3 million people RSVD'd and the party exploded.
Thanks for joining me today. I am Suzanne Malveaux, in for Carol Costello. "AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND BOLDUAN" starts right after the break.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is off today. If you're waiting for a thaw in the now frigid relations between the U.S. and Israel you may need to keep waiting.