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Carrie Fisher Dies; Trump Continues with Selections for Cabinet; Interview with Rep. Chris Collins; Interview with Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 28, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "I'm devastated." But among things he said that he was grateful for, her wisdom, and he talked about her bratty, self-indulgent self on screen, and then you can see what he said there. Hamill, of course, and Fisher glued together, joined at the hip as they started down the road towards "Star Wars," and he said "Thanks, I love you." Let's reflect on the life and times of Carrie Fisher.


CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS: I should have expected to find you holding the leash.

VERCAMMEN: Carrie Fisher, best known as Princess Leia in "Star Wars," has died. Fisher had a heart attack Friday during the final 15 minutes of a flight from London to Los Angeles. According to TMZ, Fisher was on a ventilator the entire time she was hospitalized, never regaining consciousness. She's seen here in audition tape with soon to be co-star Harrison Ford.

FISHER: When R2 has been safely delivered to my forces.

VERCAMMEN: Critics pointed to the strong chemistry between Fisher and Ford, and with good reason. Fisher recently revealed that she and Ford were off-screen lovers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty years, is that right?

FISHER: Forty years I thought I'd wait.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you revealed that you were having an affair with Harrison Ford.

FISHER: I was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you say it.

FISHER: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, how did that stay a secret for 40 years?

FISHER: I was good at that, wasn't i?

VERCAMMEN: Fisher was born in Beverly Hills, mother actress Debbie Reynolds, father singer Eddie Fisher.

FISHER: I was primarily raised by my mother, but I saw my father.

VERCAMMEN: Fisher poked fun at the absurdities of showbiz life and all manner of self-medication, including pills to control her emotions.

FISHER: Any mood stabilizer is a weight gainer. So whether you feel better, but then you're fat. So what you gain is a loss. It's not a good situation.

VERCAMMEN: Fisher spoke about being bipolar and often turned pain into humor, also writing "Wishful Drinking" and "Shockaholic." Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon in the 1980s. Years later she gave birth to a daughter Billie Catherine from her relationship with agent Brian Lourd. She debuted in the acclaimed film "Shampoo." In between the "Star Wars" movies Fisher landed a number of meaty soles in "Soap Dish," and as Meg Ryan's wise-cracking friend in "When Harry Met Sally."

FISHER: Someone is staring at you in personal growth.

VERCAMMEN: But nothing could, would, or perhaps should loom larger on screen than Fisher in "Star Wars."

FISHER: It transported you. It was extraordinary entertainment film making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like the princess?

FISHER: I have her over sometimes. She's a little bitchy, you know.

VERCAMMEN: Carrie Fisher was 60.


VERCAMMEN: And another great one-liner from Carrie Fisher. She also told Ellen Degeneres about this romantic affair with Harrison Ford, that no one thought it was happening, and at the time she didn't think that he did, either. Don, Poppy?


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You had to love her. You know what's funny during that -- thank you, Paul, appreciate it. During that Ellen interview when she said she would go back and reprieve whenever they would do, the update on the role, she said they would make her lose weight because they only wanted to hire part of her.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Her humor was so self-deprecating, so witty, so brilliant, and -- and her memory lives on obviously on screen, but also through her daughter who is also an actress.

LEMON: But you know what, speaking of that, she was a daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. And a lot of people, you know, when they sort of live in the shadow of their famous parents, she didn't, right? She embraced the role of Princess Leia. She embraced being Debbie Reynolds daughter. She, you know, played with her in different TV shows and in plays, or whatever. So she enjoyed all of it. She lived life to the fullest.

HARLOW: And she always looked like herself.

LEMON: I love that.

HARLOW: She's beautiful, and 60 is young. She let herself age. I mean, in the day when everyone, you know, Hollywood, everyone, doesn't look like themselves at their age.

LEMON: Naturally and graceful.

HARLOW: Inside and out. in 2016 we lost way too many.

LEMON: I agree.

HARLOW: Coming up in just minutes we are going to speak with two of her "Star Wars" co-stars. Anthony Daniels of course played C3PO. And Peter Mayhew, known for his role as Chewbacca. You will want to hear their memories.

LEMON: Before we get to that we have to discuss some politics, Poppy. The president-elect Donald Trump tapping a former Bush aide as a top counterterrorism adviser, but a security scare at Trump Tower in New York is reigniting the battle over who will pay to protect the president-elect when he is in the Big Apple. CNN's senior Washington correspondent Mr. Jeff Zeleny is at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach with more. I almost said Trump Tower I'm so used to saying it. Good morning to you, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. I guess this is the Trump Tower of Palm Beach. You can see Mar-a-Lago behind me here this morning. But as Donald Trump is about to finish filling his cabinet, the final two appointments could come this week. He's looking ahead, of course, to his presidency, which is coming in some 23 days. But as he does that he's also looking back at the presidential campaign and taking aim one more time at President Obama on Twitter.


[08:05:14] ZELENY: Donald Trump is filling a critical west wing position, tapping Thomas Bossert, a deputy homeland security adviser in George W. Bush's White House, to be his chief adviser on homeland security, counterterrorism, and cyber-security.

TOM BOSSERT, INCOMING ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND SECURITY, COUNTERTERRORISM: The government in the United States at a federal level needs to do something to address the threat.

ZELENY: Bossert will work alongside retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn who Trump already picked at national security adviser. Trump aides tell CNN Bossert will be on equal footing with Flynn, whose portfolio is primarily international threats. Bossert's appointment has some establishment Republicans and Trump critics breathing a sigh of relief, because Flynn's appointment stirred controversy. Yet it's an interesting selection for Trump, who became a sharp critic of the Iraq war after initially supporting it.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: Look at the war in Iraq and the mess we're in. I would never have handled it that way.

ZELENY: Bossert was a proponent of the Iraq war.

Trump is set to hold more meetings today at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The Trump Tower in New York was briefly evacuated last night while the president-elect was in Florida. New York police says a suspicious package that turned out to be a bag of toys caused a security scare, the false alarm highlighting a battle over who will pay to protect Trump and his family in New York City, which the mayor estimates to be around $35 million since he was elected.

Trump's incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeting shortly after the incident, "Back to work here at Trump tower after a false alarm. Thanks NYPD." Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York mayor Bill de Blasio then tweeting, "No problem. We'll send you the bill." Trump's social media director Dan Scavino weighing in that Phillips is an embarrassment to the New York mayor's office and the amazing NYPD. Phillips firing back, "That's not very nice, Dan. But about that bill, work on it with us?"

That wasn't the only attack on Twitter. Trump once again touting his victory over Clinton while taking a knock at the man he will success. "President Obama campaigned hard and personally in the very important swing states and lost. The voters wanted to make America great again."


ZELENY: Now the cost of security also an issue here in Palm Beach County. Last week at a county commissioner's meeting they talked about asking the federal government for more money to pay for law enforcement protection here as well. One estimate over the Thanksgiving weekend that it cost a quarter of a million dollars. Now, that is typical, of course, for all presidents. This is a growing process as Donald Trump becomes president-elect here. But one more thing this morning, he also tweeted about the economy, taking credit for the strong economy. Take a look at this tweet. He said that "The U.S. consumer confidence index is at its highest point in 15 years. Thanks, Donald." Of course the president-elect there talking in third person. He apparently didn't have room to also say, "thanks, President Obama," whose economy Donald Trump is soon to inherit. Don?

LEMON: Thanks, Jeffrey. I appreciate it. So, so much to discuss. So let's bring in Congressman Chris Collins from New York. He is a Trump transition team's congressional liaison. Thank you so much for joining us. Since you're our congressman from New York, can we just talk about the bill that New York City is footing a big part of because of the security here at Trump Tower. Who should be paying for this?

REP. CHRIS COLLINS, (R) NEW YORK: Well, I have gone on the record that this is a bill the federal government should pick up. This is an extraordinary expense. It's not like a president's flying in for a speech in a community and they have to turn out some extra police to, you know, for security. The cost on Fifth Avenue for Trump Tower is just astronomical. And it's much like, you know, if we have an unusual expense, it could be a hurricane, or something along those lines, the federal government steps in so local taxpayers are not burdened. And in this case it would be a tremendous burden on the local taxpayers, and I do think it's an appropriate expense for the federal government.

LEMON: So the federal government should pick up --

COLLINS: I've spoken with Mayor de Blasio --

LEMON: New York and Florida, as well?

COLLINS: Yes. Both cases, you know, we have an extraordinary president who has two extraordinary places that he and his family live, and it -- it should not be a burden on the local taxpayers.

LEMON: Thank you for addressing that congressman.

Let's talk about this battle that is brewing in Trump's own party. I want to play parts of what Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told us concerning Russia hacking of our election.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: There are 100 United States senators. Amy Klobuchar is on this trip with us. She's a Democrat from Minnesota.

[08:10:00] I would say 99 of us believe the Russians did this, and we're going to do something about it. Along with Senator McCain, after this trip's over, we're going to have the hearings and we're going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle, for interfering in tour election. And they're doing it all over the world, not just in the United States.


LEMON: So congressman, it looks like he's -- the way he's putting it is Trump versus the entire Senate. Is that going to be a problem?

COLLINS: Well, I don't think that's quite the case. As you're seeing, Donald Trump put together an extraordinary cabinet that's going to focus on cyber-security, cyber hacking. There's no question all of us, including president-elect Trump, would say cyber hacking is unacceptable, whether that's from Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran. We will take the necessary steps. So I have no qualms at all to think that president-elect Trump would not be taking some serious steps to make sure that he deals with cyber hacking regardless of the country they come from and that we would stand united on that. LEMON: All right, let's move on, congressman, and talk about the

economy and something that Jeff Zeleny just mentioned in his report. Donald Trump took another shot at the current president. He also thanked himself in the third person, which by any measure, you know, it's Obama's economy here. It's been all over twitter. So tell us why do you think Donald Trump is still tweeting about this?

COLLINS: Well, Obama's economy was the weakest recovery ever. We never even hit two percent GDP growth. And truly, the optimism coupled with lower tax rates, and issues on trade, fair trade, the stock market has soared. The confidence in America has soared. And certainly as Donald Trump has put the best cabinet ever assembled, people are now understanding what a presidency --

LEMON: But Congressman, with all due respect all of that was -- all of that was under the president -- the current president, President Obama. There's 3.5 percent GDP, that was a growth last quarter and then this is unemployment is at an all-time low, an all-time low in nine years.

COLLINS: Well, the underemployment is what's not spoken of. All the people that have left the workforce during Obama's eight years, and he never did hit two percent GDP growth year over year, eight straight years of very anemic growth. The public now realizes that president Trump and the fair trade, making sure that China and Mexico are no longer stealing our jobs, and just his own optimism have caused the stock market just to -- because that's on expectations. The stock market usually refers to the expectation of future earnings, and we've never seen such a robust spurt in the Dow --

LEMON: So the good economy and the low job numbers that we have had over the last year is because of president-elect Donald Trump?

COLLINS: No. I'm saying the anemic economy under Obama. All the people who left the workforce because of Obama's weak economy, no one can call this a strong economy. Now all of a sudden that pessimism has turned into optimism because people know that Donald Trump going to bring jobs back, the kind of jobs we need, and he's going to have lower taxes, which means better earnings for corporations, and again, more jobs and higher wages. This is an optimism boost in the stock market based on the expectation of future earnings where there was certainly for eight years an anemic recovery from the last, you know, recession, the worst since the great depression.

LEMON: I want to move on and talk about you being the unofficial gatekeeper for administration jobs. I'm wondering if you're going to get one and also he has yet to appoint an agriculture secretary, director of Veterans Affairs, and director of national intelligence. Are you going to get one of those jobs? And might we seen see a Democrat in one of those positions?

COLLINS: No, Don. I explained to the president-elect on the morning of the election that I was staying in Congress. I serve on energy and commerce, the health and telecommunications subcommittees. A lot of legislative work to do to put bills on his desk to be signed. At this stage of my life I'm staying put in congress. He honored me by making me the liaison, congressional liaison to the transition team, and I'm helping put forth names. I'm not filling --

LEMON: Any Democratic names? Might there be bipartisan appointments?

COLLINS: Well, there are. I've actually put four Democrat names on the table myself. And so we're looking for the best and brightest. And that doesn't necessarily --

LEMON: Who are those four Democrats?

COLLINS: Well, I'm not really in a position -- I wouldn't want to let anyone know that in case they don't get a job, I wouldn't want them answering for that. But, yes, I can see Democrats entering the administration at the undersecretary level, you know, who knows, even at a secretary level. But certainly as the deputy or somewhere as an undersecretary, there's very good -- I have a lot of good friends who are Democrats.

[08:15:03] We just agree to disagree on national policies.

LEMON: Some of your best friends are Democrats, right?

Thank you, Congressman Chris Collins.

COLLINS: They truly are.

LEMON: I appreciate that. Happy New Year to you.

COLLINS: OK, Don, you, too.

HARLOW: All right. Secretary of State John Kerry today set to lay out the Obama administration's vision for Middle East peace, this amid the context of rising tension between the United States and Israel.

Up next, former Senator George Mitchell who served as the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East under President Obama will join us with his thoughts.


LEMON: The city of Jerusalem canceling a vote today to approve the construction of hundreds of homes in the battle over settlements intensifies. The delay comes as Secretary of State John Kerry gets set to deliver a big speech laying out the Obama administration's vision for peace in the Middle East.

Let's go to CNN's Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem with the very latest.

Hi, Oren.


The Jerusalem City Council has made their position on this very clear. They see these homes, hundreds of homes in east Jerusalem as simply the needs for a growing city. A growing city needs more housing. But they also say they didn't want to get into a political controversy, so they canceled the vote set for just hours before Secretary of State John Kerry's speech laying out what he sees as the Middle East peace process.

They also say they canceled the vote at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had shortly after the Security Council resolution sworn not to abide by it.

So, what was Netanyahu thinking? That part is a bit more difficult to understand. He may have been trying to get a bit of goodwill here with Secretary Kerry right before his speech or perhaps he was responding to criticism, some from within his own party, that he mishandled this diplomatically and perhaps lashed out a bit too much at the U.S. and diplomatic actions against other countries.

Poppy, one of the big worries at this point for the Israelis is that Kerry's speech and the parameters he lays out for negotiations will be taken by the international community and turned into another Security Council resolution.

[08:20:00] Even if it's once again nonbinding, that's still a big blow to Israel.

HARLOW: Oren Liebermann live for us in Jerusalem -- thank you for that reporting. We appreciate it.

As we await the secretary of state's remarks later today, let's discuss all of this with former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. He also served as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East under President Obama.

Thank you for being with me, sir, and congratulations on the new book, "A Path to Peace: A Brief History of Israeli Palestinian Negotiations and A Way forward in the Middle East."

Nice to have you on the program.


HARLOW: Who better to talk to about a way forward today, the day that the secretary of state will plot out and tell us what this administration sees as the way forward. I wonder what you make of this in the context of the heightened tensions between the United States and Israel, the timing on this, why give this these 23 days before the end of this administration.

And also, what he will say? I mean, will he essentially admit failure?

MITCHELL: Well, I don't know what Secretary Kerry will say and, there's some past precedent for statements made toward the end of terms. President Clinton made one just before he left office. President Bush, George W. Bush, pushed hard on his road map to peace in the last year of his presidency and made a statement in Jerusalem during that year. So, we have to wait and see what Secretary Kerry says. My own view is that I think both sides, Palestinians and Israelis,

have taken the wrong course of action following the vote on the U.N. Security Council resolution.

HARLOW: Which, by the way, you think that the Obama administration, you're critical of what they did. You think they should have abstained. You think they should have vetoed it?

MITCHELL: Yes, I do. Not because the policy was wrong. On the policy, there have been nine American presidents, since settlements began. Five Republicans and four Democrats, and all of them, every single one, Johnson, Nixon, down through George W. Bush and Obama, have opposed Israel's policy with respect to settlements. That's been American policy for 50 years. And that's what's expressed in the resolution.

I think the timing was wrong, and it -- the result is that the parties are moving away from negotiations rather than toward them. And I think both are engaging in self-destructive policies.

If I might, on the Palestinian side their leaders have taken hard from this and say they're going to pursue with even more vigor their effort to achieve a state through international institution as opposed to negotiating with the Israelis. I don't think it will happen. They can get a nominal state, but a real state on the ground requires the participation of Israel in a negotiation and an agreement.

On the Israeli side, Israel's already isolated in the Muslim world, which is about a fifth of the world's population now, in a few decades, it will be a third. And now, the tactic followed by the prime minister of criticizing and doing something to the relationship with countries like Britain and France and Spain and New Zealand risk undermining Israel throughout the world.

If I could just say, Poppy, to my knowledge, I may be wrong, but I haven't heard of a single country in the world of the nearly 200 countries in the world, that have come out in support of Israel's position on this settlements resolution. For Israel, it's not a winning issue worldwide. They should be trying to broaden the base of their support rather than narrowing it outside the United States.

HARLOW: So, as you have heard throughout the week, spokespeople for Netanyahu's administration, also the ambassadors who have come on NEW DAY with us have said we have concrete evidence, we have proof it was the Obama administration basically colluding with these other countries to, you know, to push this forward against Israel and we have evidence. But we're not going to show it to the American people, or to the Obama administration, we're going to wait for President Trump to be the next president.

What do you make of that? And how the president-elect tweeting about all of this, saying things will be different under him at the U.N., is really rewriting the playbook when it comes to this?

MITCHELL: Well, I have no idea what they're saying or what evidence they may or may not have. And I guess all of us will have to wait and make a judgment when the time comes. With respect to the incoming administration, President-elect Trump will pursue whatever policy he wants. But I hope very much first that he will not reverse the policy of 50 years, nine American presidents, Republican and Democrat, in opposition to Israeli settlement policy, because they are not conducive to peace. They're not the only issue --

HARLOW: Doesn't all the evidence show us that he will? I mean, especially who he tapped David Friedman as the ambassador?

[08:25:00] MITCHELL: Well, Mr. Friedman made -- Mr. Friedman made many statements as a private citizen. That doesn't mean that President-elect Trump is obligated to pursue those. For example, Mr. Friedman went much further than settlement expansion, talking about the possibility of Israel annexing the West Bank which would be a truly dramatic act, a reversal of prior policy.

HARLOW: Let me get your take because you know the mind of the man you were the U.S. envoy to the Middle East under President Obama for multiple years. How much of this if any do you believe is personal animus on behalf of both the president towards Netanyahu and Netanyahu towards the president?

MITCHELL: I don't think that's the driving factor on either side. The reality is, Poppy, American presidents and Israeli prime ministers in the past have had differences of opinion, much more sharply than have Obama and Netanyahu. It hasn't altered the basic relationship between the two countries, which is very strong. Eisenhower and Ben Gurion didn't get along. Eisenhower wouldn't even talk to Ben Gurion at the time of the Suez crisis.

So it's a factor, but I don't think it's a driving factor on either side. I think each is upheld by what he believes to be the right way to achieve a successful outcome in the region. They just disagree on how to do that.

HARLOW: Senator Mitchell, nice to have you on the program. Again, congrats on the book, "A Path to Peace." I think everyone is certainly hoping for peace. Thank you very much.

LEMON: So, here's a question that's been swirling around from the current president and the president-elect. What would have happened if President-elect Donald Trump ran against President Obama? This is sparking a feud between both men after Obama's comments in a podcast interview.

Our David Axelrod joins us next to talk about his interview. It was his interview with the president that's in our bottom line.