Return to Transcripts main page
Donald Trump Criticizes President Obama in Tweets; Israeli Actions after U.N. Security Council Vote Examined; Japan's Abe Makes Historic Visit to Pearl Harbor. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired December 27, 2016 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that if I had run again I could have mobilized the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A state is a state for all its citizens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama administration helped craft and push and lobby for this United Nations Security Council resolution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel compelled to speak up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Friends don't take friends to the security council.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disturbances at more than a dozen malls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It is NEW DAY. I am not Alisyn. This is not Chris. You and Chris have the same haircut.
HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in with Don Lemon on NEW DAY. And we begin with president-elect Donald Trump sparring with the man that he will succeed. Trump stingers, quote, "No way that President Obama would have defeated him if he could have run for a third term."
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump firing back in a series of tweets after comments Obama made in a new interview that 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 just 24 days away from inauguration day and we have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Jessica Schneider live in beautiful Palm Beach, Florida, where it looks really warm because she is sleeveless. JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Warm, sunny, a bit windy
as well, Don, but we know that the president-elect does not hold back on Twitter, and last night was no exception. Despite it seeming serene and calm right here at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump unleashed on Twitter. He lashed out and he also fought back.
SCHNEIDER: 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, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident 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 $1 trillion." 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 the 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. That also means president Trump selling off his business interests that create conflicts of interest, making sure there's no foreign government money coming to his operations.
SCHNEIDER: Trump also continuing to air diplomatic grievances on social media, questioning the United Nation's 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, have a good time. So sad."
SCHNEIDER: And it will be back to business here at Mar-a-Lago today after a few quiet days over the Christmas break, at least in person, not on Twitter. Donald Trump will be holding several meetings today. We're still waiting to hear who exactly he'll be meeting with. And as we tick down the days towards the inauguration on January 20th, we're still looking at a few more key cabinet posts that Donald Trump needs to fill. We're looking at director of national intelligence that he still hasn't named his nominee for, as well as secretaries for agriculture as well as veterans affairs. So a bit to watch over the next few weeks. Poppy?
HARLOW: Keeping us on our toes. Jessica Schneider, thank you.
Meantime, Israel is temporarily suspending what they call working ties with a dozen nations. These are all the nations that voted in favor of the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements. This move comes amid increased tension between Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. Our Oren Liebermann is live for us now in Jerusalem with more. What's the latest?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hasn't backed down at all of his criticism of president Barack Obama and the others and he hasn't apologized in any way for the diplomatic actions he's taken against those other countries. We'll get to that in a moment.
But first Netanyahu's accusations against the Obama administration. He says that Obama was behind the U.N. Security Council resolution, drafting it, writing it, and pushing it. Here is his spokesman David Keyes leveling that accusation again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KEYES, SPOKESMAN FOR ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We have ironclad 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)
[08:05:12] LIEBERMANN: We have repeatedly pushed the Israelis, both Keyes and other Israelis officials, on what that information is, what that evidence is. We have yet to get an answer. Yet it's an accusation they keep on repeating.
As for diplomatic actions Netanyahu is taking, he has limited working ties with the ambassadors and ministries of countries that voted for the resolution. That has little practical effect but it's a big statement expressing Netanyahu's anger. The story may not be over yet. Don, in just a couple of weeks there's an international peace conference trying to make some progress on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Israel has said they will not attend. And of course in just a few days we expect Secretary of State John Kerry to lay out his vision for peace. Don?
LEMON: Thanks very much. I appreciate that.
Let's discuss with James Jeffrey. He is a former U.S. ambassador to Iran and Turkey and is currently a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute. And Hillary Mann Leverett is here as well. She served in the state department for 15 years, including the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and represented the U.S. in U.N. Security Council deliberations. I'm so glad to have both of you on. Let's get right to it. Benjamin Netanyahu is suspending working ties with 12 nations that voted for the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Ironically that doesn't include the U.S. which abstained. What kind of message do you think he is trying to send here? This is for you, Hillary.
HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, MIDEAST ANALYST: Well, I think he's trying to divert attention to how profoundly isolated this vote in the Security Council shows Israel to be on the world stage, both the depth and breadth of Israel's isolation. Netanyahu, I think, is trying to double down on his policies to show that Israel actually is in the driver's seat, it's controlling its own policies, but what the U.N. security council vote shows us is how profoundly isolated they are and how dependent Israel really is on its relationship with the United States and with the incoming Trump administration, which I think for all of the happiness that many in Israel professed for the Trump -- the incoming Trump administration, there's also very deep concern about how Trump will handle Israel and the Middle East peace process.
LEMON: Jeffrey, why make yourself more isolated?
JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ AND TURKEY: Well, first of all, Israel isn't isolated. Israel has the best relations it's ever had in the Arab world. It has good trading relations with China. It has an in depth dialogue with Russia, particularly over Syria. The problem is Israel is isolated in the U.N. It has always been isolated in the U.N. The difference this time is the United States allowed the U.N. vote to go forward. Normally the U.S. blocks it. That is the difference. It's not something new about Israel and the U.N.
LEMON: Mr. Jeffrey, I shouldn't have called you James. Israel is upping the ante. It's calling its evidence that the U.S. pushed through the resolution, saying it has ironclad information. Take a listen to this and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEYES: 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)
LEMON: Poppy Harlow interviewed him this morning just a couple of minutes ago and pressed him on that issue. What's the evidence? Why not put that evidence out right now with the current administration, deal with it with the current administration instead of the incoming administration?
LEVERETT: My perspective is, again, it shows the profound isolation and in some ways desperation of the Netanyahu government. They missed -- they really missed this coming. The U.N. vote hit them like a train coming down the tunnel just like, you know, Obama's pursuit of the nuclear deal with Iran.
And I think what you're seeing happen is these various reactions really out of desperation, surprise, and the disorientation in terms of what Israel can or should do. What kind of evidence there could be is really -- you know, I think very speculative, but what they're trying to do is say this is a personal problem for President Obama and somehow the incoming Trump administration is going to take care of it.
But I think the Israelis are also very wary because Trump's nomination, for example, for secretary of state or secretary of defense do not have stellar pro-Israel records. And I think the Israelis are concerned and acting out of desperation.
LEMON: James, I interviewed Dr. Hanan Ashrawi ago here on CNN, a PLO executive committee member, and asked her about the Palestinian role in all of this in recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Here's her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANAN ASHRAWI, PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER: I mean, 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 of its citizens. It has to be democratic, inclusive, tolerant, and has to be genuinely representative of all of its people. You cannot give added value to any people because of their religion or ethnicity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:10:04] LEMON: Is Israel getting added value because of ethnicity or religion?
JEFFREY: Not at all. The original U.N. resolution back in 1948 talked about an Arab state and a Jewish state. In fact, Palestine is a member of the Arab League. Arab states all over the region call themselves Arab states. There's nothing new in this. There's a specific difference because Judaism is both an ethnicity and a religion. That's a minor difference. This is a basic issue of concern between the two sides.
LEMON: Hillary, what's your response?
LEVERETT: Again, you know, I think it's hard for Americans to understand, but around the world people, governments see the Palestinians here as the victim. And so her comments may not be as persuasive here in the United States as they are around the world.
But you know, when I served at the U.N., I was there on 9/11. And it was the only time that I remember or other diplomats there remember there being a standing ovation for a resolution passing. And that resolution was for the United States to use whatever force necessary to respond to 9/11.
The second time that happened in my memory from what I understand was when the U.N. voted here against Israel with this resolution. The anger, the disappointment, the distrust of what the Israelis are doing is profound around the world. And I know it's hard for Americans to understand, but we just got this wake-up call and it's going to be important for the Trump administration to handle it very soberly.
LEMON: James, speaking of the Trump administration, or the incoming administration, and the Obama administration, talking about one president at a time. Donald Trump is taking a big role here with Israelis going so far as to personally reach out to him. Is this a big violation of the no two presidents tradition? Is it dangerous?
JEFFREY: It is what it is, first of all. It is unusual. There have been some allegations in the past. What Nixon was doing in the run up to his taking power, particularly vis-a-vis Vietnam, so there are some precedents. It's something that at the end of the day everybody knows we're in a transition, that Barack Obama is the president but that the things that he declares, the things he does have a half-life of about two-and-a-half weeks. On the other hand, everybody also knows that the Donald Trump we will get as president may or may not be the Donald Trump that we're seeing in tweets.
LEMON: Hillary, is it dangerous?
LEVERETT: Yes, I agree. It is something that we've seen -- that we've seen for decades. But even more important I think than the Israelis reaching out are the Egyptians. The Egyptians can read the political map I think very accurately, and they also reached out to Donald Trump, were the first to congratulate him in a phone call. And I think the Russian foreign leaders trying to congratulate Donald Trump show how seriously they're taking him on the world stage. And I think pundits and commentators here who have dismissed Trump and underestimate him here at home will now have to face up to that abroad where he is going to make a big difference, a big impact.
LEMON: Hillary, James, thank you very much.
JEFFREY: Thank you.
HARLOW: Fascinating interview.
Also this story, you're probably seeing headlines about it this morning. Violent brawls at more than a dozen malls around the country. This sparked panic among shoppers just one day after Christmas. Many of the incidents caught on cell phone video posted on social media. Sara Sidner is calling it live for us this morning from Los Angeles. Do they know what sparked all of this?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are some police departments that have said that social media played a role, saying something like, come to the mall and fight. But they are looking into this. It is very odd that it is happening at so many different places, very similar scenes.
Let's take a look at some of what happened yesterday as people were going back to the mall as one does after Christmas to kind of hand back some of the gifts you don't want. You can hear people screaming here as punches are thrown and this is inside the shops of Buckland Hills, a large chase ensues. Our affiliate in Hartford says one of the officers was assaulted trying to break up that fight.
Then we move on to fort worth, Texas. That area and that mall that you see there, that's put on lockdown following a massive fight there including over 100 middle school and high school students near the food court. Officers had to go store to store to let people out once that lockdown was lifted.
Then we move on to Aurora, Illinois. This is the start of what evolved into a massive fight at Fox Valley Mall. Teenagers had to sprint down the stairs trying to get away after the fight broke out. The mall forced that mall to close for the entire day after that happened.
Then in Ohio, this is ridiculous. You see this happening over and over again. That mall put on lockdown following unfounded reports at first of an active shooter. And then police say that all began because of a fight broke out among teenagers in the food court when someone mistakenly though there was gunfire.
Then in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after police say teenagers set off fireworks there were people running and scurrying, worried that that was gunshots. It was not gunshots, but several shoppers were hurt there as they tried to get out of the way.
And then in an Aurora town mall in Colorado, that mall closed as well after several fights broke out inside the mall on several levels, mind you.
[08:15:00] And then in Aurora Town Mall in Colorado, that mall closed as well after several fights broke out inside the mall on several levels, mind you. There are about 500 people all surrounding that area, some of whom were involved in fights. Police say it all started with a social media post promising a fight and then lastly here in Fayetteville, North Carolina, people also forced to evacuate after a massive fight broke out at a food court.
Police are looking into this and trying to figure out if there's any connection between all of these because it is very odd that you have more than a dozen of these happening across the United States all inside malls -- Don.
LEMON: And they're checking social media, right? But so far, no evidence on social media?
SIDNER: Yes, they looked at social media. They are finding out there were some instances where social media did prompt people to go to the mall and fight, but this is really odd for this all to happen at once. There's a lot of looking into that this morning -- Don.
LEMON: Sara, thank you very much.
We're just hours away from history being made in Hawaii. For the first time, a Japanese leader will visit Pearl Harbor to honor Americans killed in the attack 75 years ago. We'll take you there live.
LEMON: History about to be made in Hawaii. The Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor for a memorial ceremony, 75 years after the deadly attack. President Barack Obama will join him at the USS Arizona Memorial. [08:20:04] CNN's Athena Jones live in Honolulu with the details.
It's gong to be very interesting, Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. I think we're going to see some poignant moments today, Don.
The visit kicks off with a bilateral meeting between the president and prime minister followed by a wreath laying ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial. And then later the cheerleaders will deliver remarks. And this visit by Prime Minister Abe comes seven months after President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to travel to Hiroshima to pay his respects to the thousands who lost their lives there. Now, the prime minister is coming to Pearl Harbor to do the same.
These are two historic visits that are serving as book ends, visits the White House says highlight the power of reconciliation that has turned these former adversaries into the closest of allies.
Now, before making this trip, the prime minister said that it would be a visit to soothe the souls of the victims and we should never repeat the ravages of the war. We expect those to be among the themes he touches on in his speech today. We do not expect Prime Minister Abe to apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor. We expect his speech to be a forward looking one -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Athena, thank you so much. Live from Honolulu.
Let's discuss all of this with Democratic congressman from California, U.S. Representative Mike Honda. Also with us, CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
Gentlemen, so nice to you. Especially you, Representative, thank you for getting up early for us.
REP. MIKE HONDA (D), CALIFORNIA: You're welcome and it's a pleasure to be here.
HARLOW: You as well, General. It's just that it's 5:00 in the morning in California.
So, let me begin with you, sir. On a very serious note and a somber note, many people may not know your history, your childhood. But as an infant, you spent three years on an interment camp here in the United States, in Colorado.
As you look back at the 75 years since the attacks on Pearl Harbor, as you look back the first official visit by Japanese leader today to Pearl Harbor, this in the wake of President Obama visiting Hiroshima -- what are your thoughts?
HONDA: Well, as a Japanese American and a person who's been through the camp experience and as a policy-maker, looking back at these incidents has a much broader perspective for me than most people. I look at this as symbolic meeting of the two leaders, going through the process of reconciliation about the act that occurred at Pearl Harbor. And also -- but it's also symbolic that the president had visited Hiroshima.
Those are two main lessons I think we need to carry on. There's another here, and that is the domestic consequences of Pearl Harbor that visited the 120,000 Americans and Japanese ancestry where our government had set aside our own constitutional rights. And in Japan, the idea that the Japanese government has to really come to grips with some of the atrocities that was committed during World War II. But this sets up the scenario for those kinds of discussions.
HARLOW: And as the president's remarks at Hiroshima were very forward looking, that is what Athena has reported is expected, Congressman, from Shinzo Abe today. Not an apology but a forward looking what are relations going forward. What do you want to hear?
HONDA: Well, I would like to hear both sides say that in the future these kinds of acts will not be repeated. We should learn from our history and learn from the past as Japan had done the atrocious acts during World War II and Asia, with Nanjing, with the comfort women, with Unit 731, and the United States domestically that we set aside during the times of war hysteria, set aside the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and we have to watch that even today.
HARLOW: Yes, something that, of course, the U.S. government in decades went back and apologized for and paid reparations to Japanese- American families.
HONDA: Right. I think that's an important -- I think that's an important aspect that in this country we did fight for that apology in 1980. President Reagan signed that apology.
HARLOW: Let me get the general in here.
So, General Hertling, when you look at this in the context of the president-elect about to take office, the first meeting that he had with a foreign leader after the election was with Shinzo Abe on his stop here in New York. This comes in the context of the pivot towards Asia from the Obama administration and what the president-elect has said about nuclear weapons at one point during the campaign suggesting perhaps, you know, Japan should arm themselves.
[08:25:07] Where does this next administration move forward in Japanese/U.S. relations?
RET. LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I'll go along with Congressman Honda there and talk about the future versus what's happened in the past. To understand conflict and to understand your place in the world you have to also understand other nation's history and their culture.
And that's what Prime Minister Abe is going to see today. He will be the first to visit the actual memorial site, the bridge over the Arizona, and for anyone who has ever been there, Poppy, that is an extremely emotional experience. There is still oil leaking from the boat. You know that there is -- it's the tomb of over 1,000 sailors in the Arizona.
But those are the emotional moments that you have to combine with policy-making decisions. And when President-elect Trump is talking about dealing with other countries, he has to understand why Japan is in the condition they are in today with their defense structure, why the U.S. supports that defense structure, what strategic advantage it gives us to have bases in Japan and to deal with other Japanese -- not only the Japanese nation but other Pacific nations.
So, all of these things are critically important to understand the world we see ourselves in today, and it's based a lot on culture and history.
HARLOW: Absolutely. Thank you both very much. General Hertling and Representative Honda, we appreciate it.
HONDA: Thank you.
LEMON: Kidnapped in 2014, heading home two years later. Nigerian school girls whose mass kidnapping sparked international outrage have a lot to celebrate this season. A live report on their journey, next.