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Actress Debbie Reynolds Dead at 84; Kerry Issues Tough Rebuke to Israel; Trump & Obama Trade Barbs, then Talk it Out; U.S. Set to Punish Moscow for Hacking. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:09] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.


And we're following breaking news this hour.

Actress Debbie Reynolds has died at the age of 84. She was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack.

CHURCH: CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago is in Los Angeles with more on Debbie Reynolds death.

So Leyla, fans and friends have, of course, been struck by the tragedy of a mother dying just a day after the loss of her daughter and they've have taken to social media to pay tribute to Debbie Reynolds and all that she achieved in her life.

Many people are saying she died of a broken heart. What is being said about her ailing health?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we are still waiting to find out exactly what led to her death. It could really be a while before we get an official cause. But let me walk you through the sort of time line -- what happened today.

This afternoon right around 1:00 local time we heard reports that the fire department here was responding to the family's home. The fire department confirmed that they had the patient between fair and serious condition that they were transporting to the hospital.

At the time we checked in with her son and he simply said pray for her and that was it. We know that she had complained about some sort of breathing problem but beyond that it wasn't until a few hours later that things really, really changed and for the worse. That's when her son then put out a statement and I'll read it to you. He said "She spoke to me this morning and she said she missed Carrie. She's with Carrie now."

And that's not the only response that we've heard from the family. Also, Debbie Reynolds' stepdaughter tweeting within the last few hours saying, quote, "Some of the magic people have left the tribe. For the moment I am inconsolable." That coming from Joely Fisher -- again just within the last few hours with the heartbreak behind that that you can sort of feel as many fans and supporters of this family are feeling tonight.

You know, through Twitter we've heard from several celebrities. We heard Debra Messing who worked with her on "Will and Grace", Debbie Reynolds was her mother. She tweeted out tonight saying that she is just heartbroken -- heart sick, rather. Ellen DeGeneres also sending all her love to the family because remember this is just one day after Debbie Reynolds was reporting her daughter's death on her own Facebook page, thanking all the fans for the support and the embrace of Carrie's talents and gifts that she left behind.

Now, as you might imagine, the Walk of Fame is certainly already starting to see that support as well. Her star already has flowers and candles. And what I'm sure over the next few hours, over the next few days will be a growing memorial. Just in the last half hour I've already noticed that there are more flowers there.

So certainly a lot of people coming out to really remember that legacy, and honor that legacy, and show support for a family that is -- well you heard from her stepdaughter -- inconsolable right now.

CHURCH: Yes. It is just hard to grasp. But of course, Todd Fisher lost his mother and his sister in the course of two days and Billie Lourd lost her mother and her grandmother. It's just extraordinary for that family, hard to come to terms with.

Many thanks -- Leyla Santiago for joining us there.

Reynolds was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 50s and 60s, of course and spent decades entertaining.

VANIER: She once told CNN's Larry King that her career gave her the fun of life.

Stephanie Elam has more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Singer, dancer, actress -- Debbie Reynolds was a Hollywood triple threat and America's sweetheart. Her film career began at the age of 16 after being spotted in a beauty pageant.

Her star officially launched just a few years later after a spirited performance opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in 1952's "Singing in the Rain".

DEBBIE REYNOLDS, ACTRESS: They picked me to put me in "Singing in the Rain" then they just locked me in a big old studio and for three months I had five different teachers. One for tap and ballet, jazz, modern and I just worked, worked, worked, you know, until I just fall apart. ELAM: Other notable roles followed including 1957's "Tammy and the Bachelor", which resulted in her number one hit song "Tammy". She played opposite Gregory Peck in "How the West was Won" and her performance in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" earned her an Oscar nomination.

[00:05:09] Beloved on screen, at times Reynolds' life off-screen overshadowed her success. She had two children with her first husband, crooner Eddie Fisher -- producer Todd Fisher and actress and author Carrie Fisher. In 1959 the marriage ended in a highly- publicized divorce when Fisher left Reynolds to marry her close friend Elizabeth Taylor, a painful betrayal Reynolds was able to joke about the scandal years later.

REYNOLDS: I was a girl scout. I really was a very simple little girl and that's what I was and he fell madly in love with Elizabeth. Now I understand, you know, so many years later. And it's in the past.

ELAM: Her second and third marriages also ended in divorce, each time causing Reynolds financial pain. However, she had quietly been collecting Hollywood memorabilia over the years that would prove a wise investment. In 2011 Reynolds sold Marilyn Monroe's white subway dress at auction for $4.6 million.

She also never quit performing. Though she stepped away from film for much of her career Reynolds continued to entertain on Broadway stages and in Las Vegas nightclubs.

In addition, Reynolds had several TV roles over the years, notably playing Liberace's mother in the 2013 Emmy-winning TV movie, "Behind the Candelabra".

Her wide array of work was recognized in 2015 when the Screen Actors Guild honored Reynolds with the lifetime achievement award.

Reynolds said she loved every minute she spent in show business in her 2013 autobiography "Unsinkable". She credited the love she had for her friends and family for her personal and professional resiliency.

REYNOLDS: I paid 20,000 bucks for this sucker.

ELAM: And it is that spark and sense of humor along with her talent that Reynolds will be remembered for.

REYNOLDS: I love you. Good night, everybody. Thank you.


VANIER: And of course we're going to continue the conversation on this. Segun Oduolowu is live via Skype from Lake Tahoe with us. He's an entertainment journalist and pop culture contributor for "Access: Hollywood Live".

CHURCH: And entertainment journalist Holland Reid is also with us.

Thanks to both of you for being with us here. This is a difficult conversation and yet another person lost in the entertainment world. Segun -- I want to go to you first.

Some fans and friends across the globe are trying to come to terms with the loss of Debbie Reynolds, just one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher -- the tragedy of this family's loss just so hard to fathom.

What has the world lost with the passing of Reynolds and just how are people mourning her death?

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALST: Well, first of all thank you for having me. Again I wish it was under better circumstances.

Hollywood has lost royalty. I mean for someone like me I was introduced to her on "Will and Grace" where she, you know, played Debra Messing's mom. But many people knew her from "Singing in the Rain".

We're talking about an actress and someone so iconic that her legacy stretches decades. We're talking about an entrepreneur who knew to collect memorabilia and sold it for a tidy profit. We're talking about a mother, a grandmother. We're talk about a woman who embodied just class and dignity and fierceness and just was ferocious in her comedy and her singing and her dancing.

We lost -- we lost true Hollywood royalty. And it saddens me that, you know, my kids to come won't get to be introduced to her like I was unless I start, you know, breaking out old DVDs of her work. She's amazing.

CHURCH: I think we will start to see that happen actually in the next few days.

VANIER: We probably will. Looking at the reruns.

Holland Reid, let's bring you in. And I can see you nodding.


VANIER: And one of the things especially when he was talking about the personality of Debbie Reynolds. That's one of the things when we were preparing the show just newsroom talk -- that's the thing that comes up -- it's really about her personality.

REID: Absolutely. I mean she was classy. She was wholesome, down to earth; so funny in a very -- not much like Carrie in a like straightforward brass kind of way but in a very subtle way. I just remember she'd always throw her hand up in a lot of her roles. It was a very signature move.

And much like he was saying -- having gone to school for musical theater I was introduced to "Singing in the Rain" as a staple and then just getting to know her again at "Will and Grace" as he said, just a brilliant comedian. Just also knowing her as Carrie Fisher's mom and being so proud of that. And often saying "I am Princess Leia's mom" and she would say that on a regular basis.

Just a legend -- a legend. If you say Marilyn Monroe, if you say Elizabeth Taylor you better say Debbie Reynolds -- and we've had her for so long --

[00:10:00] CHURCH: We better.

VANIER: She was in that category.

REID: In that category.

CHURCH: Absolutely.

Reid: In that category. I mean she was on set at MGM at 15 years old with Elizabeth Taylor. She was very much -- Carrie Fisher was "Princess Leia" at 19 years old. We have the same thing. She did "Singing in the Rain" at 19 years old. Very significant.

CHURCH: Let's listen to "Singing in the Rain" because we have this from the 1952 musical. Let's listen for a moment.


CHURCH: Just extraordinary. I mean this is one of my favorites.

VANIER: I was going to ask you.

CHURCH: I bet it's one of yours, right?

ODUOLOWU: Yes. This is -- I mean it's so -- it's so awesome to know and to appreciate like we get jaded nowadays in Hollywood with people not really being talented and not really being worth the limelight that we give them.

And here was someone who transcended it -- singing, acting, just not only having real talent but we've lost what Hollywood used to be about. I mean like we're talking about the Elizabeth Taylors with the class, the dignity of a woman to say, you know, I lost my husband to Elizabeth Taylor and I got past it and transcended and became even better and bigger.

It bothers me because we don't see this everyday. We don't see these types of stars and 2016 has taken away our stars. Prince is gone, ok. Debbie is gone. Her daughter, Princess Leia, "Star Wars" -- she's gone. We're talking about losing that part of us that we grew up on if you are my age or if you are of any age. These are people we will never get back. Muhammad Ali is gone. David Bowie is gone. We've lost stars and it's so sad.

CHURCH: It is certainly is.

VANIER: And 2016 is coming to a close. I think I'm not the only one here who's been thinking when is this going to end? All the big names -- you know.

CHURCH: Day after day, indeed. VANIER: Yes. Go ahead.

ODUOLOWU: No, it just -- it can't end you too soon. I mean people are joking around now saying who is going to be next? And that morbid humor might be what keeps us going these next couple days but, you know, these are irreplaceable icons. You know, George Michael -- these are irreplaceable icons, talent that you're not going to see every day, maybe in a lifetime. We should appreciate them.

My sister called me and said to me, you know, appreciate those you love now because you don't --

CHURCH: Exactly.

VANIER: Yes. And I think the emotion we are hearing from Segun right now just speaks to how personal this is for a lot of people, a lot of fans, whether it's for, you know, musicians that he referenced, some of the actors. It's really personal.

REID: It's personal to say the least. I've had -- my anxiety has been up all day today. I mean just all week I'm just going why? There's a gofundme page, maybe a little bit in jest and humor to protect Betty White and I'm signing up for that.

CHURCH: She's not very happy about that.

REID: She's not happy about it. But I mean -- but the sentiment around the reason why that's created is that, you know, she is, again, one of our last icons. Like he was saying -- the triple threats when you had to have real talent and the by-product of real talent was to be famous and be a star. She was holding her own next to Gene Kelly at 19 years old with no formal training. That says something about that era.

VANIER: I think it was three months -- I think it's three months of training.


REID: Absolutely. Absolutely.

So that says something about that time and what it meant to be a star and a talent during that time. And, of course, what we have today in 2016 and what we consider --

VANIER: Who do you look to now?

REID: Who do we look to now?


REID: So when we have these icons slowly fading away, we do feel like we are losing a part of the real Hollywood that was what, you know, everybody aspired to -- my age aspired to -- the Princes, the Michael Jacksons, the Debbie Reynolds.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean there still are icons. It's just -- it's a different style, isn't it.

REID: It's a different style.

CHURCH: And Segun, I do want to talk about the relationship between Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Because, of course, they were very close toward the end but it was difficult just as any mother-daughter relationship is and was very much in the public eye. Talk to us about what happened -- the ebbs and flows of that relationship.

ODUOLOWU: I think you said it best. In any relationship between a mother and daughter it's going to be tumultuous at times and this was no different. But the common ground, you know, a lot of people don't understand -- don't know that Debbie Reynolds started a foundation for mental health awareness, something that her daughter suffered from.

And you know, it takes a lot to admit that you have a problem and Carrie Fisher was not necessarily the easiest person to deal with. She was very strong willed.

[00:15:02] You can see in some of the things that she wrote, "Postcards from the Edge". And even her one-woman show where she talked about her relationship with her mom very openly and very candidly and that had to sting and that did fracture their relationship.

But both of them passing within 24 hours of one another it would be wrong of me to not speak ill of the dead but to remember that part of their tumultuous relationship. Remember if you're a fan of how they came together, the work, the common ground that they found and both of them bringing a lot of awareness to mental health that a lot of people suffer even now. And I mean to this day they have made it a little bit easier to admit being bipolar and working through it.

CHURCH: Absolutely.

ODUOLOWU: And so, you know, if I was wearing a hat I'd take it off to both of them.

CHURCH: Indeed. All right. Segun and Holland -- thank you so much for joining us and talking about just what these two women, two heroes, in fact, brought to the world and now of course their passing. Many thanks to you both.

REID: Thank you.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, with less than a month in office, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is getting blunt with Israel. It's a tense time for the two countries. Details on his speech just ahead.

VANIER: And Donald Trump started the day with a harsh tweet aimed at President Obama. But things ended on a much different note -- transition turmoil smoothed over.

CHURCH: Plus much more on the passing of Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds just a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died.

You are watching CNN.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

The United States' top diplomat is dropping the niceties and calling Israel settlements a threat to a two-state solution. Secretary of State John Kerry also defended the U.S. decision to abstain from a vote on a U.N. resolution in his speech Wednesday. That resolution condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

VANIER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back saying that Israel does not need to be lectured by foreign leaders. Mr. Netanyahu says the real obstacle to peace is the Palestinian support of terror and the rejection of Israel's right to exist.

CHURCH: Secretary Kerry has less than a month left in office but he says he could not in good conscience do nothing or say nothing.

VANIER: Our CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has the details.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In a lengthy and deeply personal final plea, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strong warning to Israel that a two-state solution was in jeopardy directing his aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

KERRY: The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.

LABOTT: At the same time defending U.S. support of Israel.

KERRY: No American administration has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama's.

LABOTT: Netanyahu quickly called the speech a biased attack that only paid lip service to Palestinian terror.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What he did was to spend most of speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace.

LABOTT: Kerry's message comes amid a bitter war of words between U.S. and Israel after Washington refused to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements allowing it to pass.

KERRY: Some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy regardless of our own interests, our positions, our own words, our own principles. LABOTT: Israel says it has proof Washington secretly orchestrated the

vote and will show it to President-Elect Trump when he takes office in just a few weeks.

NETANYAHU: We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution.

LABOTT: Kerry denied the claims and framed the vote as an effort to save Israel from a policy that threatened its future as a Jewish state.

KERRY: We reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel; it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements.

LABOTT: In his four years of Secretary of State a deal between Israelis and Palestinians has escaped Kerry. But in a recent interview with CNN he rejected the idea that he failed.

KERRY: I didn't fail. We didn't fail. The United States didn't fail. We put what I think is still the solution on the table. But the parties failed.

LABOTT: Even before Kerry spoke both President-Elect Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu criticized the Obama administration. Trump tweeting "We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. Stay strong, Israel -- January 20th is fast approaching."

Netanyahu responded, "President-Elect Trump thank you for your warm friendship and your clear cut support for Israel".

And Prime Minister Netanyahu is warning about further moves at the U.N. Israeli officials very concerned about a new U.N. Security Council resolution coming out of Kerry's ideas or at an upcoming peace conference in Paris next month.

Meanwhile President-Elect Donald Trump is working with the incoming Republican Congress to defund the U.N. if the vote on settlements is not overturned.

Elise Labott, CNN -- the State Department.


CHURCH: Journalist Lucy Der Tavitian joins us now from Los Angeles. Thank you so much for being with us.

So why did John Kerry decide to make this very personal speech at this time just days away from Donald Trump taking office? And what will it likely achieve, do you think?

LUCY DER TAVITIAN, JOURNALIST: Well, it's very interesting, isn't it that this is a time that he decides do so. I think what Kerry wants to do is to make sure that the peace process and the two-state solution continues under a Trump presidency because Trump has made it very clear that his support of Israel is unequivocal.

[00:25:05] He has said that he wants Jerusalem to be the main -- to be the capital of Israel and only Israel. And that he wants to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. He also supports settlements.

So all of these factors are a threat to the peace process and I think what Kerry is doing is giving a clear understanding of what is happening on the ground when it comes to Israel and Palestine and to the negotiations.

On the other hand, he's also giving support to the international community, to Europe, who is not so supportive of Israel as much as the United States is. So now it seems that the U.S. is a little bit more aligned with the message that the international community has on settlements which is that it's an illegal act. You cannot build settlements because according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, settlements are illegal.

CHURCH: Right. Now, in his speech John Kerry said that a two-state solution is in jeopardy. Is he right? And where does this all lead to peace in the Middle East to do you think?

DER TAVITIAN: It is absolutely in jeopardy but I think it has been for a while now. If you don't have a two-state solution what you have is a one-state and a one-state would most probably not end up giving Palestinians freedom as they would like it. They would not be -- they would actually end up being a second-class citizen.

And let's also not forget that it's also not a good idea for Israel to have a one-state solution because Palestinians have larger families than Israelis. So what you would soon have is a majority. So you don't want a one-state solution. What that would mean is what we would have is what you had in South Africa -- an apartheid state.

And I think that's what Kerry was saying to -- making very clear to Netanyahu. What Obama was making very clear to Netanyahu is these are your choices. Your choice is that you either have a two-state solution, and come to the negotiating table, and you are clear in your message and in your will to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians or else what you're going to have is a very dangerous one-state solution which is not viable. And I don't think it's what either the Palestinians nor the Israelis really want.

CHURCH: All right. Lucy Der Tavitian -- thank you so much for joining us there from Los Angeles. We do appreciate it.

DER TAVITIAN: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Well, another Hollywood legend lost.

VANIER: We'll have a lot more on the passing of actress Debbie Reynolds just ahead.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:53] VANIER: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Cyril Vanier.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church.

Updating our breaking news, actress Debbie Reynolds has died at the age of 84, just one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was one of the biggest stars in the world during the 1950s and '60s.

VANIER: Her starring turn in "Singing in the Rain," one of Hollywood's most famous musicals, started a long career in the limelight.




CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about the legacy of Debbie Reynolds is Matthew Belloni, executive editor of "The Hollywood Reporter."

Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: Of course, the death of a child is every parent's nightmare and the passing of Debbie Reynolds just a day after the death of daughter, Carrie Fisher, is heartbreaking and tragic for that very reason, but they certainly had their ups and downs, didn't they?

BELLONI: Absolutely. I mean, this is a family that has not only lived through a lot of both public and private troubles, but they have done so and incorporated it into their public persona and their careers.

If you look at Carrie Fisher's autobiographical novel "Postcards from the Edge," that was written in the 80s as a direct response to her tumultuous relationship with her mother and then that was dramatized in a film version starring Shirley MacLaine as the Debbie Reynolds character and Meryl Streep as the Carrie Fisher character.

So this is a long and tumultuous relationship, but we understand that they had, had their -- they had made up and they had come to an understanding in recent years. And recently they both participated in a documentary about both of their lives and their work together that will air on "HBO" next year.

CHURCH: Yes. And, of course, like her daughter, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds wasn't only an actress, was she? She was a singer, a dancer, a businesswoman, a film historian, but will she be known best for her leading role in "Singing in the Rain"? Will that define her as Princess Leia defines Carrie Fisher?

BELLONI: I think that Debbie Reynolds probably will be remembered for "Singing in the Rain." She did get an Oscar nomination for her performance in the "Unthinkable Molly Brown." But I think most people will remember her as a singer, dancer, performer in "Singing in the Rain." That movie is one of those that has stood the test of time. People still watch that and enjoy it.

Much the same way that Carrie Fisher will probably be remembered for "Star Wars" even though she was an accomplished actor, writer, screenwriter and performer as well.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And Debbie Reynolds, of course, was part of Hollywood royalty. She married Eddie Fisher in 1955, Carrie's father, of course. Four years later, he ran off with Reynolds' best friend Elizabeth Taylor. It was a massive scandal at the time, wasn't it? How did Reynolds cope with all of that?

BELLONI: Well, this was a huge scandal at a time before the Internet, before the tabloid culture of the 80s and 90s emerged. If this happened today, it would break the Internet, but it was a major deal in the late '50s. And Debbie Reynolds actually coped with it OK.

She apparently did not speak to Elizabeth Taylor for many, many years, but when they both ended up on a cruise together, she ended up having dinner with her and supposedly she had a good laugh about it.

CHURCH: Yes. And just finally, how will Debbie Reynolds be remembered, do you think? What will be her legacy?

BELLONI: I think Debbie Reynolds will be remembered as part of a legacy of old Hollywood. She was a star when the star system was really at its most powerful. She was made a star in the medium the movie musical, which really gave launch to Hollywood and she managed to last for decades and decades both in film, on the stage, as a recording artist. She had a number one single.

[00:35:00] She had an NBC television show. She became a businesswoman with Hollywood memorabilia. She had her own museum at one point. And I think she will be -- will go down as one of the last remaining connections to that old Hollywood system.

CHURCH: I think you are right.

Matthew Belloni, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

BELLONI: No problem.

VANIER: And Donald Trump and President Obama are apparently on talking terms again after the president-elect got a surprise phone call from Hawaii. Details on the tete-a-tete next on CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: Well, Donald Trump started the day blasting President Obama on Twitter but by Wednesday afternoon, they were apparently back on good terms. Trump getting a phone call from Mr. Obama on vacation in Hawaii.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: He called me. We had a very, very good talk about -- generally about things. He was in Hawaii. And it was a very, very nice call and I actually thought we covered a lot of territory. A lot of good territory.


VANIER: And that's just the latest back and forth between the 44th president and soon to be 45th president of the U.S.

Suzanne Malveaux reports.


TRUMP: It was a great honor being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So much for the pleasantries. Donald Trump today blasting President Obama on Twitter, "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition -- not."

But this afternoon, Trump seemed to have changed his mind saying the transition was going smoothly.

TRUMP: I think very, very smoothly. Good. It was very good.

MALVEAUX: Trump and Obama had been careful to avoid personal criticism of one another in the weeks after the election, but the more combative tone emerged this week after Obama claimed he could have beaten Trump if he run for a third term.

[00:40:05] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I -- if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.

MALVEAUX: Trump counterpunch tweeting, "President Obama said he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that, but I say, no way. Jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etcetera."

But just days after the bruising election, the two appeared seemingly cordial.

OBAMA: We have done everything we can to make sure that they are successful, as I promised and that will continue.

TRUMP: I never met him before, but we had, we had a very good chemistry going. I found him to be terrific. I found him to be very smart and very nice.

MALVEAUX: Since then, the two have had several phone conversations and today Trump's incoming press secretary Sean Spicer tried to downplay the public bickering.

SEAN SPICER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: They continue to talk. I don't know when the last time they did, but as the inauguration gets closer both, the current president and his team have been very helpful and generous with their time as far as the actual transition.

TRUMP: Three important things --

MALVEAUX: Today, between closed-door meetings, Trump made several brief appearances at his Mar-a-Lago resort. While Obama is vacationing, Trump has been claiming credit for the country's positive economic outlook saying, "The U.S. consumer confidence index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, the highest level in more than 15 years. Thanks, Donald."

(on-camera): White House aides say the president will not back down from his own record of accomplishments despite what Trump is claiming credit for. As he noted in his last press conference this year, unemployment is at 4.6 percent, a nine year low, economic growth is at 3.5 percent high and his approval rating almost 60 percent.

Susan Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And joining us now from Los Angeles, vice chair of the California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman, and Republican Strategist Luis Alvarado.

Thank you to both of you for being with us.

So what is going on with this very complicated relationship between President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump? Do they like each other or not?

ERIC C. BAUMAN, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY WICE CHAIR: I'm not sure that's the question that needs to be asked. I think the reality is that we have to remember there's only one president at a time and Barack Obama is still the president. And quite frankly, Donald Trump's thin skin continues to show.

Anytime anybody says anything that he doesn't like or agree with he just cannot resist going to Twitter and snapping back. And if that's how the next four years are going to be, we're going to have problems all across the world.

CHURCH: Luis, what's happening with this relationship? Where is this going?

LUIS ALVARADO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, one of the things that we've seen is that this transition is like no transition we have seen in -- since the last millennium. So the reality is that the two personalities are completely opposite to each other.

There has to be some conflict between these two personalities and the staffs are going to make that representation for them as they begin the transition into the next phase where they start actually moving from the building and the Trump people moving inside the building.

But in the meantime, there is also some legacy issues that Obama is trying to protect and maybe even lay some booby traps, political booby traps for President-elect Trump. And the interesting part would be, will it be effective especially when it comes to issues in the Middle East as we saw that is dominating the news. And I think he is trying to define -- President Obama is trying to define the president-elect even before he takes office, and we don't know if that's for his advantage or the advantage of the country. And I think that's one fair question that we don't have a straight answer on.

VANIER: Guys, I want you to tell me about jobs, because of course that's been a big issue today. Donald Trump, again, taking credit for job creation or jobs coming back to the U.S., as he puts it. 5,000 jobs courtesy of Sprint. And if you total it up, it's about 9,000 jobs that Donald Trump is taking credit for if you Sprint, if you add Carrier. There's several companies.

Does it irk you, Eric, as a democrat that there have been 15 million job creations under Barack Obama and now Donald Trump is taking credit for 9,000 jobs being created over the last few weeks?

BAUMAN: Look, let's begin with the fact that Donald Trump is in fantasy land. What we're seeing is a result of the Obama presidency as it's coming together.

The Carrier deal as we found out days after it was announced was not anything like the way he portrayed it. It wasn't nearly the number of jobs that he claimed would be saved and as it turns out it's only a very short-term saving of those jobs.

So the reality is you have an ego maniac who is about to become president, who is trying to claim credit for something that he has had no finger on the switch to have any responsibility for.


[00:45:00] VANIER: Because Donald Trump did point to a political article today and that's in a tweet that he sent out today, where economists are on record are saying that there is something of a Trump effect that is boosting the economy, consumer confidence, which is the backbone of the economy.

BAUMAN: If there had been a notable change from the prior month or the prior months, maybe I'd agree with that. But you can find an economist to say anything you want just like you can find a lawyer to say anything you want.

The reality is Donald Trump is not the president. He hasn't done anything yet. The stock market was at its highest record levels ever in history long before Donald Trump was even expected to win the presidency. So to suddenly impute this grand success to Donald Trump's election is just preposterous.

VANIER: Luis? Luis Alvarado? ALVARADO: Well, let's be honest here, Eric, the reality is that before the election, the Democrats are saying that if Donald Trump was going to be elected, that the stock market was going to crash. And the reality is that it didn't crash. And actually there is a sense of optimism because the majority of Americans who voted for Donald Trump are the ones who have the most optimism going into this new presidency.

And Donald Trump represents what Barack Obama represented in 2008 and that is actually hope that his words would actually turn into reality. And I think Americans are giving him a pass, some flexibility when it comes to the statements that he's making as they did during the primary and the general election.

VANIER: Right.

ALVARADO: And I think Americans and the rest of the nation and the rest of the world are looking to see how effective his changes are going to be and that's why they're not taking him at his word like many wish they could be just to point out how deficient his presidency is going to be.

VANIER: All right, gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. Three weeks until Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. Of course we'll see then what happens to the economy.

Thank you very much to Republican strategist Luis Alvarado and vice chair of the California Democratic Party Eric Bauman.

CHURCH: Thank you, gentlemen.

ALVARADO: Thank you for the invitation.

CHURCH: All right. Well, coming up, the U.S. is preparing to punish Russia for hacking during the U.S. presidential election.

VANIER: Vladimir Putin says he is poised to respond. A tense back and forth, next.


[00:51:25] VANIER: The U.S. is expected to announce a series of reprisals against Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential election. U.S. official say the new measures could be announced as early as Thursday.

CHURCH: CNN has learned the pay back could include covert actions as well as other measures in identifying people believed to be involved in the hacks. Moscow denies any role in the widespread hacking of U.S. political groups during the election. Russia's foreign ministry warns it will retaliate if the U.S. takes any hostile step.

VANIER: Well, earlier, I spoke with Russia Jill Dougherty of the Woodrow Wilson Center about what the U.S. retaliation can look like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JILL DOUGHERTY, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: I think they would basically be three. One is going to be sanctions, we expect and you would expect that that would be one thing. Number two would be some type of diplomatic action and number three would be the covert action. And the covert action, we might not even know that the United States is taking some action. They can do it without warning. The president has said previously that he would do it in his own time, but those are the three.

And from what we understand, it also could include naming the people who are responsible for what the United States alleges is a disinformation project, really, by Russia using those hacks, using any information that it had gleaned from the hacks in order to interfere with the elections and what they are calling disinformation. So it's serious. And the Russians wasted no time even before getting an official announcement to say we're not going to sit idly by. We will take action as well. So really, Cyril, we're in a pretty unpredictable moment right now.

VANIER: And Jill, you mentioned sanctions being one of the three prongs of the retaliation but sanctions against whom? Are we talking about public officials, about government entities here or are we talking about targeting hackers themselves?

DOUGHERTY: You know, a little unclear at this point, but I think you'd have to say the sanctions so far have been most effective when they are against people who are close to Putin. And so I think you can probably figure that that would be the most -- what the government -- the U.S. government would be thinking about because hackers, I mean, some of these hackers are, you know, probably 20-year-old guys in a basement in St. Petersburg or a building in St. Petersburg. That's not going to have too much effect.

But when you get people who are much higher up, closer to President Putin and even connected in some financial way or power way, that would tend to be more effective.

VANIER: Right. And I was going to ask you a fact precisely about that. Is there something that Vladimir Putin, since Obama has pointed the finger of blame towards the Russian president, is there something that would make Vladimir Putin think I shouldn't have done that; I shouldn't have poked the bear?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I mean, I guess he'd call the nuclear option for the United States would be to reveal some type of information about all of these allegations if they have any concrete information about the financial holdings of President Putin himself.

It has never been proven exactly whether the president does have as much money, billions of dollars as some have alleged, but that would be really, really, I think, diplomatically pretty dangerous because it would be targeting the president of Russia himself and could rile him up and could be unpredictable what he might want to do.

[00:55:00] I think the really important thing here, Cyril, is that we have never really been at a state like this before. This is outright attacking and potentially leading to some type of a cyber war between the two countries and nobody knows precisely what weapons will be used and how it will end.


CHURCH: Jill Dougherty there.

And before we go, an update on our breaking news, the death of actress Debbie Reynolds. She was 84 years old. Reynolds had trouble breathing, Wednesday, and was taken to a Los Angeles hospital. This was just one day after losing her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

VANIER: Reynolds' son says his mother told him she missed Carrie. He says that now his mom is with her.

We will have much more on this breaking story at the top of the hour.

CHURCH: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Rosemary Church.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. We'll be back with more news right after this. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN "Breaking News."

CHURCH: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier and we're following breaking news this hour. The death of actress Debbie Reynolds at the age of 84.