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Honoring Debbie Reynolds; Trump Takes Credit for Jobs; ISIS Leader Movements Detected by U.S.; Amazon's Echo's Alexa May Be Witness to Crime. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 09:30   ET



CRISTINA ALESCI, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT:. In fact, CNNMoney talked to 15 experts just yesterday, all but one said they were very worried about Trump's stance on trade and how that might impact the market. And you've got to -- Victor, you've got to imagine that Trump is paying attention.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, of course, he is.

ALESCI: Because he is looking at this market. He does not want it to drop on his watch. So you know, he's going to be very mindful of that when he goes out and he talks about protectionism and holding China and Mexico accountable. He doesn't want to freak out the market.

BLACKWELL: Not only is he hoping that it won't drop, he's taking credit for any increase and he's also taking credit for these 8,000 jobs --

ALESCI: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: -- that he talked about at the Mar-a-lago yesterday.

ALESCI: Right. And that is part of a, you know, those 8,000 jobs, 5,000 of them were part of a previously announced plan by Sprint to bring some jobs back to America.

And it seems like this is part of a larger theme. Trump is taking credit for a lot of things that companies are doing and the companies are letting him do it because they don't want to seem like they're stealing the thunder from the president-elect.


BLACKWELL: No one wants to come in and say, sorry, Mr. President, you're wrong about this...

ALESCI: -- or you're wrong or we had these plans before.


ALESCI: Anything along those lines. They want to keep good relations with the president and we're going to see this time and time again. But the market is going to want more than one-off deals on jobs. They're going to want to see a comprehensive policy that's pro-growth.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're about just a minute or so into the day of trading day. Thanks so much, Cristina.

ALESCI: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come, remembering a Hollywood legend from her iconic career to her tragic final hours after the death of her daughter. We're honoring Debbie Reynolds -- next.






BLACKWELL: Iconic performance there from Debbie Reynolds. This morning, Hollywood is honoring her legendary career, unsinkable spirit. Reynolds died one day after losing her only daughter, actress Carrie Fisher. The relationship was famously complicated. But by the end of their lives they were close, close figuratively and

literally, living so close to one another. Both women being remembered today for their wit. Here's Reynolds in 2011.


DEBBIE REYNOLDS, ENTERTAINER: It was hard for Carrie, I think, because, in school, like when she was in grammar school, the teacher kept calling Carrie "Debbie." Now you know --


REYNOLDS: Well after a while it was OK, because now I'm Princess Leia's mother. You know. Everywhere I go, I'm Princess Leia's mother now.


BLACKWELL: All right. With me now, Michael Musto, columnist for

Michael, we were here yesterday, talking about Carrie Fisher. Now about her mother.

MICHAEL MUSTO, OUT.COM: You know what?

I'm horrified but I'm not surprised. The bond between Carrie and Debbie had grown so strong they were like the same person. They were halves of the same individual. They had their ups and downs through the years but they ironed them out. And they were beautifully bonded. They actually were the same person,

they were cut from the same cloth. They both were introduced to the public as ingenues, girls next door.

And they were so far from that. They were so dark and complicated. They had horrible relationships with men and they got closer and closer and Debbie just couldn't go on without Carrie. It's actually a beautiful love story.

BLACKWELL: Yes, planning her funeral and then she has this health episode, this stroke and dies. You talked about this being Hollywood royalty. It's like a fairy tale.

Debbie Reynolds discovered at a beauty pageant and then, shortly after, she starred alongside Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain."

MUSTO: Debbie came from poverty. They were eating out of pots and pans and basically she wanted to make it and she did by the sheer drive and the talent that she had.

Debbie was an old-school star. She was a trouper. She conquered every medium. She was nominated for "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" for an Oscar; was in, arguably, the best movie musical ever made, "Singin' in the Rain."

Was Tony nominated for "Irene;" had a casino in Vegas, where she had a museum of artifacts from movies and performed with Rick Taylor. And having met her I was impressed by her drive; even at that late age the drive and professionalism and talent.

BLACKWELL: Those artifacts, I don't want to brush over those. Those served to be quite profitable in her later years.

MUSTO: She had some terrible husbands along the way and they messed with her finances and she needed that casino to make money. One of the artifacts was something Liz Taylor wore in "Cleopatra." Liz Taylor was the one that Eddie Fisher dumped her for.

BLACKWELL: Can you imagine?

MUSTO: But they made up because they all didn't like Eddie. So they all agreed --


BLACKWELL: Now as you think about the final days here, after Carrie's death, now after Debbie Reynolds' death, what Todd Fisher must be feeling.

MUSTO: I can't imagine because he basically lost his sister and then his mother within a two-day period. And Todd sometimes is the forgotten member of that family. He's actually very talented and very funny himself.

There's a great documentary coming out on HBO about the three people in this family, which is going to be more resonant than ever. And I have a cute story about "Postcards from the Edge," which Carrie wrote as a thinly veiled roman a clef about Debbie. Debbie wanted to play herself in the movie. She wanted to play the mother. And Mike Nichols says you're not right for the part. And they got Shirley MacLaine.

BLACKWELL: Shirley MacLaine was great alongside Meryl Streep in that, one of my favorites.

Michael Musto, thank you so much.

We'll continue, of course, to pay tribute to Debbie Reynolds. She was 84 years old. We'll be right back.




BLACKWELL: President-elect Trump taking credit for a plan to keep 5,000 jobs in America, a number already announced as part of a broader hiring plan by a Japanese company, Softbank. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they're going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States, they're taking them from other countries. They're bringing them back to the United States.

And Masa (ph) and some other people were very much involved in that so I want to thank them. And also Oneweb (ph), a new company, is going to be hiring 3,000 people. So that's very exciting.


BLACKWELL: Earlier this month, Trump tweeted, "Masa, Softbank, of Japan, has agreed to invest 50 billion in the U.S. toward businesses and 50,000 new jobs."

Softbank owns a majority share of Sprint. The company has confirmed that the number Trump is referring to was included in its original plan to invest in companies around the world, a plan announced before the election.

So let's talk more about this. I'm joined now by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Good morning to you.


How are you?

BLACKWELL: I'm doing well, thank you.

Is it appropriate for Donald Trump to take credit for these jobs?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Well, he's under a lot of pressure. Let's face it, expectations are quite high that he will change the direction of this economy. It's an economy that's had no discernible sense of momentum. It's characterized by poor wage growth, poor productivity growth and, you know, he's not yet president.

There's a lot of expectations about tax reform and regulatory reform and big infrastructure spending programs and so, in this vacuum before he's inaugurated, I think he's trying to maintain the momentum, maintain the expectation, when he can't really do anything.

BLACKWELL: Maintaining momentum when he can't do anything.

We go back to the original question, though, is it credible that he should claim having brought these jobs to the U.S.?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: No. I think we know that the plan was in place before the election. And, you know, that's pretty clear.

So the question is, what will he actually get done once he's inaugurated and has a chance to influence some of these plans?

BLACKWELL: As we talk about credit, Donald Trump tweeted out earlier this week about the U.S. consumer confidence index, up 113 -- up to 113 points, highest in 15 years, thanks, Donald.

Credit there realistic and deserved?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: I think that's a realistic place where he should get some credit. Since the election we've seen --


HOLTZ-EAKIN: -- sharp increases in consumer confidence. We've seen a sharp rise in equity prices, the Dow Jones and other indexes. Those are traditionally associated with the electoral outcomes and he won. So I think that's pretty fair.

BLACKWELL: Would they not be also associated with jobs and investment and the increase of wage growth?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: I think that's going to be the main challenge of his presidency. We've seen the economy recover from a great recession. But we haven't seen wages recover in the way that most people had hoped. If he can deliver strong wage growth, he will be judged to be very successful, I think.

BLACKWELL: One of the other challenges of his presidency, what to do about his business empire. Here's what Donald Trump said yesterday at Mar-a-lago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: It's not a big deal. You people are making that a big deal, the business, because look, number one, when I won they all knew I had a big business all over the place. In fact, I reported it with the, as you know, with the federal election.

It's a much bigger business than anybody thought. It's a great business. But, I'm going to have nothing to do with it. I'm going to just -- I don't have to, because as you know, I wouldn't have to do that. But I want to do that because I want to focus on the country.


BLACKWELL: Well, the president-elect says that it's not a big deal. He's tweeted that it's not that complicated although members of his transition team have said that it's taking so long to explain it because it's so complicated.

Where do you fall on this?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: I think we have to wait and see, to be honest. You know, there is the potential for conflicts of interest. And that's always true. It's been true of previous presidents and previous members of the executive branch.

So the key here is to have actual policy decisions, looking to see whether there's the appearance of a conflict of interest and then have congressional oversight.

This idea that he somehow decided in advance, in the abstract, I think, is just too hard. We've got to look at actual decisions and actual potential conflicts and decide on a case-by-case basis.

BLACKWELL: To what degree are you expecting serious congressional oversight, though?

Oh, I think if we saw, you know, a transaction that appeared to have favored his businesses, Congress would look right into it. I don't have any real doubts about that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, thanks so much for being with us.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We'll be right back.




BLACKWELL: All right, this just in to CNN. An official says the U.S. is aware of recent movements of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is after months of no signs of the terror chief. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more. What have you learned, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. Exactly what you have said, it's been months since there's been a real sign of the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video you are seeing was him months ago, preaching in Mosul.

Now, this morning, a U.S. official is telling me -- and I want to read the words very specifically because they are very precise -- this U.S. official saying, "In the last few weeks, we have been aware of some of Baghdadi's movement."

So what are we talking about here?

This is now an intelligence tip that the U.S. is looking at very closely. It is not -- it's our understanding it is not real-time intelligence. In other words, it's not where Baghdadi is right this minute.

But sometime in the last few weeks, they got information about where Baghdadi might have recently been. So under standard intelligence practice that everybody's aware of, the U.S. would now be going back, looking at that location. We don't know what the location is.

Looking at the timeframe, who might have been there, what are the signs that Baghdadi might have been there, what information could they now develop going forward about where he might have gone from there, whatever the location was or whether he's still hunkered down there?

The U.S. looks at communications intercepts, telephone intercepts, overhead surveillance; it's got people on the ground throughout the region of Syria and Iraq where ISIS is located. There has been intelligence gathered from the military, the Iraqi military assault on Mosul, Iraq.

So lots of possibilities here. We want to make very clear we are not disclosing where Baghdadi is. We don't know. By all accounts, the U.S. doesn't know. But after months of no information, this is a clear sign, one of the clearest recent signs that Baghdadi is alive or at least was as of a few weeks ago.

And they may be able to work this tip and develop further information about his location as the Obama administration enters its last couple of weeks in office -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's a starting point, at the very least. Barbara Starr for us there at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

This was one of the hottest gifts of the holiday season, Amazon's Echo. Maybe you received one. It's this voice-activated digital assistant; you can ask it questions, order things or even stream your favorite music.

Now police in Bentonville, Arkansas, want to know if the must-have gadget in millions of homes can do something else: solve a deadly whodunit. CNN's Martin Savidge has more on the story that could raise serious privacy questions and has Amazon now fighting back.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alexa, what did you hear?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Is it possible the digital assistant in Amazon's popular Echo device witnessed a murder inside this Arkansas home?

That's what police in Bentonville are wondering. Only they are not asking the device. They are asking Echo's maker, Amazon. And so far the tech giant is saying no to a police warrant seeking data and recordings the always-on gadget may have picked up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a lawfully issued search warrant by a judge and Amazon's position is they simply don't believe they have to comply with it.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Forty-seven-year-old Victor Collins was found dead, face down in a hot tub last year. Authorities say there were indications of possible foul play, arresting 31-year-old James Bates on suspicion of murder.

Bates' attorney says the death was nothing more than a tragic accident and her client is innocent. She applauds Amazon's refusal to comply with police demands, calling it "chilling" that a Christmas gift could be used against people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It scares me that our criminal system is coming down to this technology, which is supposed to help our daily lives, and now it's being used against us for an innocent client.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): In a statement provided to CNN, Amazon seemed to imply it could change its willingness to cooperate in the case, saying, "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us."

The company went on, "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

Amazon did give police Bates' subscriber information and authorities have analyzed the information contained --


SAVIDGE (voice-over): -- on the device itself but believe more Echo evidence is stored in the cloud, controlled by Amazon.

The case calls to mind the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that pitted Apple against the FBI, as the authorities wanted to access information contained in the locked iPhone of one of the shooters. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexa, what time is it?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): The always-on voice-activated technology found in Amazon's product is showing up more and more in our lives, from thermometers to cameras, even toys.

But these modern wonders are also creating some modern worries over privacy, suggesting what happens at home may no longer stay at home.

SAVIDGE: Victor, two things to keep in mind: number one, the tech experts say that even if the Bentonville police get access to the data they want, it may not have the information they think.

In other words, they don't expect that this Echo captured a crime in the act. It just doesn't work that way.

But in the long run, as more and more of these smart devices end up inside our homes, we have to remember that they are not only a convenience, they are also almost always, in some way, watching and monitoring us -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Fascinating. Martin Savidge, thanks for that report. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins after this break.