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President-elect Looking to Fill More Cabinet Posts; Trump Foundation Admits to Violating IRS Regulation; Israel: "Ironclad" Proof Obama Pushed U.N. Vote. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 07:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's begin our coverage this our with our Jessica Schneider. She is live in Palm Beach, Florida, where the sun has come up. What are you hearing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, Poppy, by the looks of it out a here at Mar-a-Lago, it is mostly quiet. The President-elect staying mostly out of the public view over the past few days over Christmas. That is of course except for Twitter, where Donald Trump is fighting back on some topics and even lashing out.


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 could 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.


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: And it will be back to business here at Mar-a-Lago today after that short Christmas break. The President-elect holding several meetings today. We're still looking to hear exactly who he'll be meeting with, but of course some key cabinet posts that we're still waiting to hear about. They include the director of national intelligence as well as secretaries of both agriculture and veterans affairs.

So waiting to hear on that and of course inauguration day rapidly approaching January 20. Poppy and Don --

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, it's getting close. Thank you very much. Appreciate that, Jessica Schneider.

Let's get our discussion started with our panel. Senior Congressional Correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and podcast host of "Examining Politics", David Drucker, and CNN contributor and "New York Post" columnist, Selena Zito both join us.

So let's talk about this, about who would win now. We will never know who would win now, would we?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: No, and this is part of life. There's a lot of do-overs I'd like. But --

LEMON: So why is this happening? Why would the President-elect even respond to --

DRUCKER: This is who he is and what he does. He can never -- he does not believe in walk softly and carry a big stick, apparently. He believes in talking loudly and making sure that everybody knows what we already know. And I don't know how else to really get into his head other than to say that it seems as though he's very protective, he always has been throughout his real estate and his television career, of making sure that people understood just how important and famous and victorious he is.

And that's just -- and I think from his perspective really politically, he probably looks at it like this. This is what got me where I am. This is what my supporters like, this brash, take-no- prisoners, throw out convention sort of behavior. So why should I stop doing it? Because after all, I won.

LEMON: He's not running against Obama. He ran against Hillary Clinton. This is not Hillary Clinton. DRUCKER: Yes, and soon he'll be running against Chuck Schumer, the

Senate Minority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi. In other words, this is how he's going to conduct politics. He thinks it works, and so far we can't disprove him because he was elected president.

HARLOW: So with so much going on right now, Selena, on the international stage, from Israel to obviously the crisis in Syria and much, much more, he tweeted about the country being what he called gloomy before he won. He tweeted about winning, which they just talked about and how he would have beaten the current president. And he also tweeted about his foundation last night. Let's look at some of these.

He said, the DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries, or any expenses. One-hundred percent of the money goes to wonderful charities.

And then he tweeted, I gave millions of dollars to the DJT Foundation, raised and received millions more, all of which is given to charity, and the media won't report.

[07:05:00] So what we do know is that he said he will shutter this foundation. It's going to be tough because it's being investigated by the New York Attorney General. We also know from CNN's review of the documents, he hasn't given himself to this foundation since 2008, and he hasn't held a press conference in five months. It is five months today. So we can't ask him questions about this.

SELENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, you know, as far as the foundation goes, yes, created in '98. He put his children in charge of it in 2006. He personally hasn't given money since 2008, but he has raised tens of millions of dollars, and he has given -- his foundation itself has been philanthropic.

It's also done some things that were outside the lines of what foundations should be doing. But beyond that, you know, David is right. Trump uses Twitter to project strength, and he uses it to leverage his strength for whatever he's going to do next. And he gives you those hints every time he sends out a tweet. He's letting you know how he feels about something, like when he was talking about President Obama.

I like the fact that he acknowledged, gave him sort of a hat tip, like OK, I know you needed to say that, I would have said it too. But no way you would have beat me.

LEMON: But Selena, on the truth about the foundation, though, the foundation has apparently admitted in IRS filings to self-dealing and then getting back to it, he hasn't donated since 2008 -- $5.4 million, but that was not since 2008. We won't know because he hasn't released the returns. From 2009 to 2014, the foundation raised $4.36 million, 2.5 million (ph) from New Yorkers, that's what records show. But again, we still don't know all of it. And the foundation basically, if you look at the records and what he's accused of, and especially by Eric Schneiderman here in New York, doing the same things that he accused Hillary Clinton and the Hillary Clinton Foundation of doing during the campaign.

ZITO: Right. And the problem is is there's such a gap of what we don't know. And until this is either unfolded through the Attorney General's office in New York or it's closed and the IRS information is eventually revealed, that's going to remain a mystery.

The one thing he did do good is that he said he said that he's going to shutter it. Again, there's a lot of entanglements that are going to hinder him from doing that, but he's showing -- he's sort of projecting to people, I'm going to start doing the things I need to do to close my business.

LEMON: But he can't do it right away because of the --


HARLOW: Right. It could be a while. David, let's turn to the inauguration. Because it's 24 days until he makes this address. And first of all, is he going to use a teleprompter or not? I'm fascinated by that. Everyone has since Reagan. But more importantly, we know who's going to write the remarks, and that is Steven Miller, the same guy who wrote the RNC address. It was very dark. It was very ominous. It talked about, I alone can fix it. And so the question is, will this inaugural address be the same tone as a campaign, RNC address, or will it be one of unity? What do you think?

DRUCKER: Well, I think it'll be a mixture. If you look at what is important to Donald Trump, I think that he is going to talk about those issues that he wants to deal with as president, and I think that he's going to do it in his own unique fashion. I think Steven Miller -- excuse me -- writing -- right, a lot of Millers. No offense to the Millers. I think that -- look, I think if you look at the inaugural address and then saw how Trump's remarks sort of evolved from the convention through election day, he never fully abandoned that sort of dark, ominous tone about where he thought the country was, but he did sort of change the tone a little bit, and he talked more about unity and more about wanting to bring the country together. So I think we're going see a mixture.

The thing about Trump is he doesn't do grand oratory or sort of stately oratory in the way that we're accustomed to with presidents. Certainly not like Obama or Reagan. But not even like George W. Bush, who would deliver a very sort of presidential speech. Trump always interjects his own sort of Trumpisms into a speech, and he does it in his own sort of populist way. So I think we're going to probably see a mixture.

In a speech like this, it's not going to be straight from Miller to Trump. I'm sure Steve Bannon will be involved and Reince Priebus will be involved, and his children will be involved.

LEMON: But (inaudible) Steven had been on my show a number of times and had been on CNN. He's a very nice guy, but he is very hard line. I noticed -- a very good writer. But I noticed when Kellyanne Conway came on, his tone in the speeches softened. That was an influence she had on I think Steven Miller's writing. DRUCKER: Right, because they recognize that I alone can fix it was

too Chavez-esque and that they needed to do something a little bit more American, and I think that's what you'll see from Donald Trump on inauguration day.

[07:10:03] HARLOW: David, thank you. Selena, thank you very much. We'll see, 24 days to go. We appreciate it.

LEMON: Israel is temporarily suspending working ties with a dozen nations who voted in favor of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The move comes amid increased tensions between Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. CNN's Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem with more now.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has doubled down on his criticism not only of President Barack Obama, whom he pretty much directly blames for the passing of the U.N. Security Council resolution, but also his anger at the other countries that voted for this resolution.

As for the U.S., Israel says it was the U.S. all along that was behind the resolution, drafting it, writing it, and pushing it forward. Here's what Netanyahu's spokesman had to say, David Keyes, to CNN.

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.

LIEBERMANN: As for what that information is, that the U.S. was behind this resolution from the very beginning, Israelis won't say. We've pushed them both here and in the U.S. and they haven't put out any of that information. So right now it stands just as an accusation.

As for diplomatic moves, Netanyahu has limited working ties with the embassies and ministries of the countries that voted for the resolution. It's a largely symbolic move with little practical effect. But as a statement, it is a big one on Netanyahu's anger.


HARLOW: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

The Obama administration is playing defense following those accusations, as you just heard, that it worked behind the scenes to bring that settlement resolution before the U.N. Security Council, the White House vehemently denying that. This as Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to outline a peace plan later this week. What will he say? Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott broke the news in Washington. She has more.

I mean, this is a tough, tough situation, context, to deliver those remarks in. And frankly with the admission that they just did not get nearly as far as they wanted to on this.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. As you said, the White House is vehemently denying those accusations that the U.S. orchestrated this vote in some kind of ambush against Israel saying this should be no surprise, and the proof, officials argue, is the last eight years of the Obama administration struggling to get Israel to halt settlement construction in occupied lands the Palestinians claim for their state.

Now, take a listen to Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes speaking to Israeli television about this yesterday.


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.


LABOTT: And it is a very tense atmosphere, very soon, when Secretary of State John Kerry as early as this week, he spent the better part of a year trying unsuccessfully to get a peace deal. Now he's going to deliver a major speech, laying out the Obama administration's vision for how they see the conflict being resolved, where things stand as they prepare to leave office without having made much progress towards peace, Don.

LEMON: Elise Labott, thank you very much. We appreciate that. The world is paying close attention to the diplomatic situation between the U.S. and Israel.

Coming up after this break, we will speak to representatives from the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Make sure you stay with us.


[07:17:34] LEMON: The U.N. Security Council voted to condemn Israel for its extensive settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It cause the outrage in Israel, but how are Palestinians reacting? Dr. Hanan Ashrawi is an executive committee member of the PLO and is a Palestinian legislator. She's also the head of the PLO department of culture and information. Dr. Ashrawi joins us now.

Thank you so much. She's from Ramallah in the West Bank. Thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it. What was your reaction to the U.N. Security Council vote?

HANAN ASHRAWI, PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER: Thank you, Don, and thank you for having me on. Our reaction was that it was entirely expected, should have taken place a long time ago, eight years ago, and that should have held in compliance with international law all the time. The problem is Israel has been used to acting with impunity to getting

full cover and support and quite often enablement by the Americans. And therefore, now it's waxed hysterical, because for a change, international community is asking Israeli occupation to abide by international law, including the first (ph) Geneva Convention, including the ICC rulings, including the Gague rulings, and this is something that Israel is not used to because it's used to getting preferential treatment and to violating the law with impunity and to having a free hand to do whatever it wants to the Palestinians.

LEMON: And doctor, just in the interest of time, I'm going to jump in. I know we have a delay here. But in the interest of time, I'm going to jump in from time to time and ask you some questions. So pardon me, I don't mean to cut you off. But are you surprised that the United States abstained from this vote?

ASHRAWI: No problem, Don.

No, I'm not surprised, actually. I've been urging the U.S. to do what is consistent with its own long-held positions since the days of Ronald Reagan. Every single administration has said that the settlements are illegal and must stop. Every single administration told Israel to stop. And Israel refused because Israel is used to rejecting even pleasant suggestions from its patron and benefactor.

It's unfortunate that it took so long, but this is enshrined in the law itself. I mean, we're glad that the U.S. did not veto, and we think this is important because we have to build on it in terms of moving ahead, whether in the January 15 international conference called for by France, or whether in terms of the international criminal court and other venues.

[07:20:04] LEMON: "The New York Times" is reporting that Israel is defying this U.N. condemnation and it is continuing to build settlements in East Jerusalem. What's your response to that?

ASHRAWI: Yes. Yes, they're not only escalating the building of settlements, sort of in your face, another added insult to the Americans. As well, they are escalating in areas in and around Jerusalem, that renders the two-state solution absolutely impossible. And they're doing it despite repeated requests not to do it.

They're also increasing house demolitions for the Palestinians, land theft, theft of resources, and they've put up even more check points and created a more (inaudible) siege of Palestinian towns and villages. This is as a sort of revenge.

We know that whenever the international community tells Israel that it has to behave in a way consistent with the requirements of international law and with model human behavior, they certainly turn around and exact the price from the Palestinians who are a captive, helpless population under full control by the military occupation. So wow they are really pushing ahead.

LEMON: I want to discuss the Palestinians' responsibility in this. And I want to play this, this is from Ambassador Ron Dermer. Israel says this isn't about settlements at all, and that when they stopped settlements for 10 months, nothing happened. Listen.


AMB. RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: The Prime Minister of Israel did a freeze. He did a freeze for 10 months for the settlements and Palestinians did not come to the negotiating table. This has not been about the settlements. What do the Palestinians want? What they want to do is to blame Israel for not negotiating, refuse to sit down and have discussions with us, and internationalize the conflict.


LEMON: Is it true, and why wouldn't the Palestinians come to the table?

ASHRAWI: Look, we've been negotiating since 1991. I don't think there have been a series of negotiations the way we engaged in negotiations with Israel. We accepted the principle of the two-state solution. We even recognized Israel on 78 percent of historical Palestine. And we agreed to build our state on the remaining 22 percent. This was a major compromise. Israelis have not responded in any positive way. The country, they are now busy stealing the land of the Palestinian state and then they blame the Palestinians because we don't accept the fact that settlements are being built on our land, which would destroy the chances of peace.

LEMON: Specifically --

ASHRAWI: Now, when they talk about cessation of settlement activities, this is entirely misleading. They never stopped. Because they decided Jerusalem (inaudible) they've annexed it illegally, so they don't stop --

LEMON: But again, the Palestinian responsibility in all of this, doctor, with all due respect again, in the interest of time, because we all remember the (inaudible) that started back in September 2015 and stretched into the beginning of this year. What should the Palestinian side be doing to make peace?

ASHRAWI: I think we're trying our best to make peace in every possible way. We have signed agreements that we abided by. The problem is that you cannot enslave a whole nation and treat it like subhuman species with the most racist, hardline, extremist, violent government in history, and then ask them to lie down and die quietly. Whenever a single Palestinian lashes out in reaction to his house being demolished, his family being killed or imprisoned, then automatically Palestinians are blamed and are called terrorists. But when the Israeli settlers and the Israeli government continue to wreak havoc -- havoc -- and exercise systematic state terrorism against us, then we are told, what can we do.

LEMON: Is it time to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

ASHRAWI: We have recognized Israel in 1993 in the context --

LEMON: Not as a Jewish state.

ASHRAWI: -- agreement on the White House lawn, the declaration -- well, it depends. If you want to give religion to states, then this is against our principles. I don't recognize Islamic states. I don't recognize Christian states. I don't recognize Jewish states. A state is a state for all its citizens. It has to be Democratic, inclusive, tolerant, and has to be genuinely representative of all its people. You cannot give added value to any people because of their religion or ethnicity.

We want a Palestine that is totally Democratic. We recognize the state of Israel. It should be happy with that. Now it wants added conditions. Let it go back to the U.N. and let it change its name and let it ask all the people who recognize it to recognize it again under a different name.

LEMON: Doctor, what do you think the prospects of peace are under a President-elect Donald Trump, the prospects of peace?

ASHRAWI: Although, I mean, for the sake of being diplomatic and nice, I will repeat what official statement is. We will deal with anybody who is elected by the American people and who is committed to a two- state solution.

[07:25:03] But I will tell you very frankly, personally, I think when you have a coalescing with the mentality of xenophobia, racism, Islamaphobia, misogyny, a rejection of the other and so on, meeting with its parallel exactly echoing the same extremist language of, there is no occupation, there is no two-state solution, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel forever -- when they both collude to destroy and violate international law and Palestinian rights and destroy the very basic requirements of peace, then I see in this a very dangerous situation.

This is a collision course we've seen happening, and it is not only happening with the Palestinians. It's happening with the Arab world and throughout the region. We need to hear a new language that is consistent with human rights and international law.

LEMON: I apologize for the delay and I thank you for your time. I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Poppy --

HARLOW: Also, coming up, Israel on the offensive after the United Nations vote. What is next? Coming up after that interview Don just did, you will hear from David Keyes, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His reaction next.