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Trump: "No Way" Obama Would Have Beaten Me; White House Denies Playing Role in Drafting U.N. Resolution; Secretary Of State John Kerry To Outline Peace Plan Soon; Violent Brawls Break Out Across U.S. Malls. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired December 27, 2016 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump of course firing back in a series of tweets to comments that the President made in a new interview we first shared with you yesterday. The President-elect also defending his charitable giving and dismissing the United Nations as a club for people to have a good time.
We're now just 24 days away from inauguration day, 24 days, and we have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Jessica Schneider live in Palm Beach, Florida for us this morning. Good morning, Jessica.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. For the past few days, the President-elect has stayed mostly out of the public eye here at Mar-a-Lago. But of course, late yesterday his Twitter account sprung into action with those flurry of tweets.
SCHNEIDER (voiceover): The President-elect going after president Obama after Obama speculated he would have won a third term if it was possible, using his message of hope and inclusion.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I would have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.
SCHNEIDER: Trump tweeting, Obama said he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that, but I say no way. Then boasting, the world was gloomy before I won. There was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars. Trump seemingly overlooking Obama's record of cutting unemployment to a nine-year low and taking credit for holiday spending figures that aren't final numbers.
SCHNEIDER: Trump also going after his favorite target, the media, over his charity. The President-elect claiming he gave and raised millions, tweeting, all of which is given to charity and media won't report. But tax records show Trump has not donated to his foundation since 2008. No one can confirm any other charitable giving since Trump has not released his tax records.
The Trump Foundation itself admitted to violating IRS regulations and is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS ATTORNEY: Right now we need to have a president who is free of conflict of interest. That means dissolving the foundation. It also means President Trump selling off his business interests that create conflicts of interest, making sure there's no foreign government money coming into his operations.
SCHNEIDER: Trump also continuing to air diplomatic grievances on social media, questioning the United Nations' value following the Israeli settlement resolution. Trump tweeting that the U.N. has such great potential, but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time. So sad.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): And after that tough Twitter talk, it is back to work here at Mar-a-Lago today for the President-elect. After a few days off for the Christmas break, he does still have a few key cabinet posts to fill, including director of national intelligence and also secretaries of both agriculture and veterans affairs. Poppy and Don --
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Jessica, thank you so much.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Let's discuss this now with our panel. Senior Congressional Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, and podcast host of examining politics, Mr. David Drucker is here. And CNN Political Commentator and Political Anchor of Specter (ph) News, Errol Louis joins us. CNN Contributor and "New York Post" columnist Selena Zito with us this morning. Good morning to all of you. Good to have you on.
It's no surprise that Donald Trump reacted to President Obama saying that he would have won. No one is shocked by that, by tweeting this. There's no way Obama would have beaten him. What do you think of that? I'll start with you, David Drucker.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, it sounds like a case of my dad can beat up your dad. Honestly, who cares? Donald Trump --
LEMON: And we won't know.
DRUCKER: Right, right. Maybe on Earth two. As a journalist, a bunch of us this cycle like to joke that somewhere on Earth two, John Kasich is president and he hired Donald Trump to be his trade czar. usa bunch of us like to joke that somewhere on earth, too, John kasich is president and he hired, you know, Donald Trump to be his trade czar.
Who cares? It's all a big fantasy. Look, I understand that they're both competitive. President Obama is competitive. Donald Trump is competitive. You don't run for president, you don't win if you're not sort of ruthlessly competitive. I don't think the American people care about any of this. I don't think they care about Donald Trump tweeting. I do think they'll care about him tweeting if six months to a year from now they don't think their lives are any better or they think their lives are worse. So I think what's important for him to do is just get the job done as president.
And obviously, President Obama, like any ex-president of his age is planning a post-presidency, and he's going to be active.
LEMON: He's looking out for his legacy right now, of course.
DRUCKER: Which they all do. Look, Donald Trump's looking out for his legacy and he hasn't even started yet.
HARLOW: So some things you can't do to shape your legacy, Errol Louis, or you can't fudge the numbers. And the numbers are pretty darn good for the sitting president right now. Fifty-seven percent approval rating, that's very high. Unemployment is at a nine-year low, 4.6 percent. You've got economic growth last quarter upwards of 3.5 percent.
These are numbers that will stick. This is good for the president. In the midst of this, here's what the president-elect tweeted yesterday. The world was gloomy before I won. There was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars. We don't have the final Christmas spending numbers, and it looks like those are actually from a report before the holidays, but I digress. And I wonder, what's the point in this and what does it tell us about what perhaps his inauguration speech will be like?
[06:05:15] ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well yes, let's just say I remember it differently. This question of who would be the better president, Poppy, let's keep in mind, it's not entirely hypothetical. Back in 2011, Donald Trump was very seriously floating the idea of running. He published a book, or there was a book that had his name on it. He was going around giving interviews. That's when I interviewed him. He was talking about running. He got humiliated at the White House correspondents' dinner around that time. But he was very much sort of thinking about it.
Look, as far as the numbers go, Donald Trump is going to -- I think we know, from his commercial life, from his political campaign, and from these most recent tweets, that he is going to portray the world, no matter what the facts are, in a manner that is favorable to Donald Trump. The rest -- it'll be up to the rest of us to sort of correct the record on economic expansion, the doubling of the value of the stock market during the Obama years, for example. I don't remember hope being entirely gone. But if Donald Trump wants to say so, maybe hope was gone for him back before he got into politics.
LEMON: That was actually funny, as I watched the news yesterday that hope was gone. Listen, I want to -- Selena, this is for you. Because here's what Newt Gingrich is saying to the whole point that we're making. He says, Trump supporters -- Newt Gingrich says that Obama might have increased voter turnout in the African-American community, but he may have also increased turnout among those repudiating his presidency, while he had a 57 percent approval rating, though, and those good numbers that Poppy just read. There is a flip side to all of this as well, because many people who voted for Barack Obama also ended up voting for Donald Trump this time.
SELENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely. Especially in my state, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin -- you saw counties that went for Obama twice that went for Trump this time. And for a lot of people outside of the beltway and outside of New York, there is this sense of hopelessness. There is this sense that things have not gotten better for them.
Yes, the unemployment numbers have gone down since the President took office, but a lot of those jobs that people lost have not been replicated in the same sort of salaries that they had before the recession.
LEMON: But he was also speaking in terms of Hillary Clinton. He didn't think -- I don't think he believes that Hillary Clinton animated the Democratic Party, animated those voters in the Midwest and the rust belt, and he believes that he could have with a message, more of a message of inclusion and what he had done for the auto industry and other jobs.
ZITO: And he was very, very good at communicating that in 2008 and 2012. And he was good for himself personally, politically. But for his party, he's not been that great. He's lost over a thousand down ballot state legislative seats in both chambers and 69 congressional seats. So the party itself has suffered while he personally has been very popular.
HARLOW: To that point, you heard in that interview he did with David Axelrod this week, he said we, being Democrats, and obviously talking a bit about Clinton's campaign, were not there on the ground communicating. And then in his press conference about a week ago, he said, Democrats are characterized as coastal liberal latte-sipping, politically correct, out-of-touch folks. I sort of stopped in my tracks when I heard that. And it is about sort of what is next for the Democratic Party in the autopsy that the party itself needs to do, but David, how much do you think that the President contributed to that?
DRUCKER: Well, I think the president's policies contributed to that. I think Selena makes a great point. The President went everywhere and communicated to everybody. Trump and Obama in many ways are the opposite sides of the same hope and change coin. They both sort of had a populist message, Trump more so. They both sort of engendered a lot of just belief in what they're able to do personally without any proof that it's able to happen.
Now, the President never stopped communicating on that level, but when you look at how many Americans, especially in the areas Selena is talking about, what they think of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, what they think of a lot of the President's social policies and economic policies, they perceive the President as that sort of cliche of a coastal liberal.
LEMON: How much is that perception versus reality?
DRUCKER: Perception is all that matters. LEMON: The facts don't matter?
DRUCKER: Yes. And look, I think we have to say this. If voters decide -- and they did this to Republicans because of the Iraq war in '06 and '08. If voters decide you're not getting it done, then maybe you're not getting it done. Because your job as a politician, sometimes you have to do things people don't want, but people aren't stupid. So if they don't think -- if your policies are not helping them, it's not because you have a lousy message or you're not good at communicating it. Because it's not turning out the way you intended.
[06:10:05] Obamacare is the best example. You still have rising premiums. You have a lot of people that lost their doctors and their plan and had to go through that whole thing. It's a challenge Republicans will face with repeal. So if voters in the heartland don't think Obamacare helped them, maybe it didn't help enough, even if it helped a little.
LEMON: Thank you, David. Thank you, Errol. Thank you, Selena.
HARLOW: Also, of course, we're following this. Israel is temporarily suspending working ties with a dozen different countries. These are countries that voted in favor of that U.N. resolution on Friday to end Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The move comes amid increased tension of course for years and years between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. Our Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem with more.
Look, the question is, how far does this go. They summon the ambassadors, and now, Oren, this is basically cutting working relations. What does that actually translate into?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has little practical effect. It's more a symbolic statement. It's Netanyahu saying, I'm going to hold off on meeting with high level ministers, ambassadors, and visitors from the countries that voted for this resolution. It's temporary.
And again, it doesn't affect trade, it doesn't affect security cooperation, but as a statement, it is a big one. Netanyahu has been unapologetic in how he's expressed his anger, specifically at President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, for allowing this resolution to go through. And they have, in fact, Netanyahu as well, stepped it up, accusing the U.S. of being behind the Security Council resolution, drafting it, writing it, and pushing it forward. Here's David Keys on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KEYES, SPOKESMAN FOR THE ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIBERMANN: As for what that information or that evidence is, Israelis won't say. We've pushed them both here and in the U.S. for what evidence they have. They haven't put any of it forward.
The next question is, Don, there's an international peace conference in the middle of next month, January 15. Israel is furious about that and said it will not attend. What will come out of that, how will the Israelis respond, and frankly, Don, what will be its practical effect on the conflict.
LEMON: All right. Good questions. Thank you very much, Oren Liebermann. I appreciate that.
The Obama administration categorically denying it played any role in the crafting and pushing of that settlement resolution before the U.N. Security Council. The White House saying that it was Egypt's work. This as Secretary of State John Kerry is set to outline a peace plan. CNN's Global affairs Correspondent is Elise Labott. She's live in Washington with the very latest. Good morning, Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. Well, the White House is vehemently denying Prime Minister Netanyahu's accusations that they initiated this resolution, demanding it be passed in some ambush, is what the Israelis call it. They say the move should be no surprise to Israel after years of struggling to get them to halt settlement construction in occupied land the Palestinians are claiming for their state. Take a listen to Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes speaking on Israeli television yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: And that's why in the coming days, as early as this week, Secretary of State John Kerry, who spent the better part of a year trying unsuccessfully to get a peace deal, will deliver a major speech, laying out the Obama administration's vision for how they see the conflict being resolved, where they see things in 2016 and beyond, as unfortunately they conclude their term in office without there being significant progress towards peace, Poppy.
HARLOW: Yes, and something, as you know, Elise, Ben Rhodes sort of admitted to in that interview with Israeli television saying we wish we could have gotten further on that. Elise, thank you.
So what impact will Israel's moves have on U.S. relations, and how will the next administration really shake things up between these two countries? Our political panel weighs in next.
[06:17:49] HARLOW: Israel is taking immediate action, cutting working ties with the 12 nations that backed a United Nations vote condemning settlement building in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank. This as tension between the United States and Israel seems to be getting worse. So what will the next administration mean? How will things change under President-elect Trump? Let's bring back our panel. David Drucker is with us. Errol Louis, and Selena Zito. Guys, thank you very much for being here.
As you heard Oren reporting, the implementation, Errol, of this, you know, working ties being cut, it's more symbolic than anything. But I think the real question is sort of what becomes the role of the United Nations? You've got Senator Lindsey Graham saying I'm going to put forth legislation to defund the U.N. unless they turn around this resolution, and then here's what the President-elect tweeted yesterday about the U.N.
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.
What do you make of that?
LOUIS: Yes. I mean, look, denigrating the United Nations is something that you hear from time to time, but the reality is it's still indispensable. It still has a lot of peacekeepers who are doing really good work. You have got organizations like UNICEF that are really important to the world. The United Nations is not going to go away just because Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump want it to.
I think though more importantly, when the Trump administration comes into power, they're going to find that Israel can play its politics and refuse to meet with foreign ministers from Senegal and New Zealand and so forth and that will have no effect. But much more important will be, the United States' efforts in the region, and those efforts cannot just be dialed back and can't be insulted and can't be talked away, with Egypt and with Saudi Arabia and with Syria. All of that really sort of ties back into this very difficult question of the settlements, the perception of Israel and the world, the opinion of the international community and whether or not this intransigent struggle that's been going on for 50 years between Israelis and Palestinians will continue to add fuel to those regional fires. And so I think they're going to have to have a much more nuanced approach to it than simply bashing the United Nations.
[06:20:02] LEMON: Speaking to what you said, let's get back to the whole reason this came up. This is about the whole settlement thing. Netanyahu suspending working ties with the 12 nations that voted for the U.N. resolutions, condemning Israeli settlements. Ironically, that doesn't include the U.S., which abstained. What kind of a message is he trying to send here, Selena?
ZITO: Well, I think that Netanyahu is really upset with what happened. You know, while the resolution is, as you said, it's symbolic, it puts them in a weaker position. And what Trump is trying to say is is that we're going to have a stronger, deeper relationship than Obama had with Netanyahu. This whole frosty relationship began when President Obama went to Egypt in 2009 and gave that sort of great big foreign policy speech to lay out his plans and bypassed visiting Israel. I think and I predict that Trump will probably make Israel his place where he goes and lays out his foreign policy plans.
LEMON: But it's also exacerbated when John Boehner invited Netanyahu over and didn't even consult the White House.
ZITO: Oh, absolutely.
DRUCKER: Right. Look, a lot of people here on both sides can claim that they were slighted and that they've been really good to each other. I think ultimately, the President's foreign policy toward Israel has been something that deserves to be questioned. It's maybe not as bad as people think, not remembering past Republican administrations, George H.W. Bush for one.
But there are two things to watch here. Number one, what's interesting is a year ago, Trump gave a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington saying he wasn't going to pick sides in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. So he has evolved on the issue. Now says he's going to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on day one. The other thing here, though --
LEMON: Is there a danger in that? What's the danger?
DRUCKER: Well, in theory, the danger is that it could upset peace talks. But what peace talks? So it could be a way for Trump to reset the way we approach the conflict and say that this is how we're going to negotiate it going forward. I'm not sure that it's the problem that a lot of people think it is. It could be.
But the other thing here is, one of the things I think that has hurt Israel over the past few years is the U.S. really has disengaged in many ways from the Middle East. Russia is in Syria running the show. You have a rising Iran that is active everywhere. So I think a question for Trump is not so much, is Israel in Palestine, but will he reassert U.S. influence in the Middle East? There's not necessarily a sign that he wants to do that because he has talked so much about refocusing our resources here at home, not unlike president Obama, rebuilding bridges and roads and hospitals and schools. So does he believe in a robust U.S. foreign policy that's present in the Middle East, or is he going to defer to Putin and the Ayatollahs?
HARLOW: He also, as we all know, doesn't like a deal he can't win. And his predecessors haven't been able to win figuring out peace in the Middle East. It is the ultimate challenge. But in the face of all of this, Errol Lois, Secretary of State John Kerry, we've learned from Elise's reporting, will come out later this week and will make this speech and talk about the path that they see forward towards that end goal.
Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser, said yesterday on Israeli television, basically we wish we could have done more and gotten further. What does John Kerry say as this administration is winding down in the wake of what's going on right now? LOUIS: Well you can expect some of the old chestnuts, the standard
phrase being shared interest, mutual respect, sort of the Obama doctrine to the extent there has been one. I think as well as an attempt to sort of reset the table and suggest that if the U.S. is going to be a player in the region, it's going to have to be even handed, it's going to have to sort of deal with situations like the Netanyahu government, which for reasons internal to Israeli politics has been intransigent and has sort of cut off the peace process, especially when it comes to the settlements. It's something Netanyahu in this iteration of his government, the fourth Netanyahu government, sort of had to do if he wanted to keep his coalition together.
Where Kerry sort of -- what Kerry sort of lays out for us you can expect to be completely undone when the next administration comes in. So this, I think, will be something of a swan song for again the Obama doctrine of the Middle East.
HARLOW: Guys, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
DRUCKER: Thank you.
LEMON: I don't know if you guys have seen this story. Brawls are breaking out at more than a dozen malls all across the country. Teenagers arrested, shoppers hurt. What sparked this violence? A live report is straight ahead.
[06:28:05] LEMON: You have to watch this next video. Violent brawls erupting in more than a dozen malls all across the country, sparking panic among shoppers on a busy shopping day after Christmas. Look at that. Many of the incidents caught on cell phone video and posted to social media. Let's get straight to CNN's Sara Sidner live in Los Angeles with more. My gosh, what a mess, Sara.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Don. Pretty scary for families who were there, right, trying to return Christmas gifts they didn't want. This was a surprise. Very chaotic day with disturbances at more than a dozen malls, including reports of gunfire that turned out to be false.
There were brawls and fights at the food court. Take a look at some of this video out of Manchester, Connecticut. We'll start there.
You can hear people scream as punches are thrown inside the shops at Buckland Hills (ph). A large chase that ensues. You just saw that video. Then our affiliate that's there reporting on the scene said that one of the officers that was trying to break it up was assaulted.
Let's move on now to Fort Worth, Texas. That mall put on lockdown following this massive fight involving over 100 middle and high school students near the food court. Officers had to the store, then they had to go store to store, letting people out once the lockdown was lifted.
Now let's move on to Aurora, Illinois. This is the start of was evolved into a massive fight. At Fox Valley mall, teenagers had to sprint down the stairs after the fight broke out. The mall was forced to close for the day.
In Ohio, Beachwood Place Mall put on lockdown as well following unfounded reports of an active shooter. That turned out to be false, but police say it all began after a fight broke out among teenagers in the food court there.
And then there was panic at Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after police say teenagers set off fireworks. Shoppers mistook those sounds for gunshots and several shoppers were hurt as they ran out of that mall.
Let's move on now to Aurora Town Mall in Colorado. That was closed and evacuated after several fights broke out outside the mall involving a load of people.