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Trump Touts New Jobs, Downplays Russia Sanctions; U.S. To Detail Retaliation For Russia's Election Meddling; The Year In Politics. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:05] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The president-elect taking credit for plans to keep thousands of jobs in the U.S. and downplaying potential sanctions over Russia's election interference, telling reporters everyone should get on with their lives.

CNN's Scott McLean live in Washington with more. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Don. Well, it seems like President-elect Trump and President Obama are both ready to move on, as well, after days of taking subtle and less subtle jabs at one another. The two spoke by phone yesterday and seemed to smooth things over. Trump is even now brushing off Obama's dig that he would have won in an election match-up. Trump told reporters yesterday that no one is ever really going to know.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: He called me. We had a very, very good talk about -- generally, about things.

MCLEAN: President-elect Donald Trump addressing reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago estate and walking back an earlier tweet accusing President Obama of transition roadblocks.

TRUMP: Our staffs are getting along very well and I'm getting along very well with him, other than a couple of statements that I responded to, and we talked about it and smiled about it.

MCLEAN: Trump distancing himself from the Obama administration and senators who want to punish Russia for their alleged meddling in the U.S. election.

TRUMP: I think we ought to get on with our lives.

MCLEAN: Meantime, Trump taking credit, once again, for a previously announced commitment by a Japanese bank to bring back and create jobs in the U.S. through investments in Sprint and a Florida start-up.

TRUMP: Yes, I just spoke with the head person. He said because of me, they're doing 5,000 jobs in this country.

MCLEAN: Trump also on defense about how he'll deal with potential conflicts of interest with his business --

TRUMP: You people are making that a big deal. It's actually a very simple situation. It's not a big deal and we'll be having -- and we'll be having a press conference sometime in early January.

MCLEAN: -- and dissolving his foundation that's currently under investigation.

TRUMP: I have a foundation that's given millions and millions of dollars to people over the years and it's been, you know, very well thought of, and we'll see what happens.

MCLEAN: At the brief press availability the president-elect stood side-by-side with controversial boxing promoter Don King.

DON KING, BOXING PROMOTER: He shocked the world.

MCLEAN: The former boxing tycoon weighing in on the strained relations with Israel.

KING: The Israeli flag is about peace, you know, peace in the Middle East.


MCLEAN: And yesterday, we know that Trump, himself, met with top hospital officials to discuss how the V.A. should be run. A transition official says that Trump is looking at a public-private option that would allow veterans to use the V.A. hospitals but, also, access the private system as well. This is in line with what he was proposing on the campaign trail but, Poppy, we are still waiting to find out who Trump will ultimately name as his Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are, indeed. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. Let's discuss all of it with CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for the "The Daily Beast", Jackie Kucinich. Also with us, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic", Ron Brownstein. Guys, thanks for being with me.

And, Jackie, let me begin with you. This shouldn't surprise many people, I think, that in the span of just three or four hours Trump tweeted that the transition is not going smoothly and then told a reporter, what do you mean? Of course, it's going smoothly, we're great. Remember when he tweeted that Reince Priebus and the RNC were terrible --


HARLOW: -- and then made Reince Priebus his chief of staff? That happened.

KUCINICH: Well, right, and that's exactly the example I was going to use because we saw a lot of this during the primary and -- during the primary because he thought the RNC was out to get him and Reince Priebus would call him and they would talk, and it would be fine. Some of -- a part of this is, frankly, theater.

Donald Trump feels like he needs to save face. He doesn't like that Obama has been sort of poking him. I mean, the comment President Obama made the other day that he could have defeated Trump -- or he basically said that -- I think really bothered Donald Trump. And so he feels that there's kind of this push and this pull going on with him that, you know, he -- while he wants to continue to have good relations with -- during this transition, he also feels slighted. And as we know about Donald Trump, he is not going to not speak out when he feels slighted.

[07:35:08] HARLOW: So, it's one thing to -- you know, this is one case, Ron Brownstein, and you can sort of laugh or joke about it a little bit. It's another when he's not dealing with the sitting president.


HARLOW: It's another when he's dealing with an adversarial foreign government.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Now, one thing we have seen is that any kind of challenge -- any kind of thing that he takes as a personal challenge, whether it is President Obama saying I could have beaten him or the language that President Obama used about turning inward and division at Pearl Harbor, he feels more often than not that he has to respond on Twitter.

HARLOW: Like, how would he respond --


HARLOW: -- if Duterte, the head of the Philippines -- you know, the president of the Philippines -- said about him --

BROWNSTEIN: Right, right.

HARLOW: -- what he said about Obama, saying basically you can go to hell.

BROWNSTEIN: You -- you --

HARLOW: How would he -- how would a Trump respond?

BROWNSTEIN: You could imagine how he would respond on Twitter. I mean, the idea --

HARLOW: He's that dangerous.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. The idea that he could be baited with a tweet, as someone said, certainly seems to be the pattern so far. And the question -- you know, the question I found myself wondering, particularly around some of the China tweets, was what is the process for this? It usually -- a President of the United States, every word that comes out of their mouth is at the end of a process that is fairly substantial and rigorous. Deputies committees, principles committees, particularly in foreign affairs. Is there any filter between Donald Trump and the world through Twitter? Should there be?


BROWNSTEIN: And the answer seems to be no. I mean, when unprecedented was spelled wrong in the tweet it kind of suggested that there were not a lot of other eyes looking at it before it was released to the world.

HARLOW: And remember, while he may be tweeting from the POTUS account there in 22, 23 days. Jackie, let me ask you about something else. He said, as you heard in the piece there, you know, that he is going to hold this press conference and he is going to talk about his business ties. He hasn't done that yet. He delayed the last one and he says, basically, in his own words -- he says, you guys, the reporters, are the only ones who care about it. It's not a big deal.

But look at this polling. It shows us a lot of Americans care deeply about this. Sixty-seven percent of not just -- you know, not just Democrats, Republicans too, think he needs to choose between being a businessman and being a president. When, if, and how is he going to satisfy the American public with an answer on this?

KUCINICH: I mean, fingers crossed, he said he's going to have this press conference. But, frankly, short of releasing his tax returns, we still won't know exactly what Donald Trump is holding. We don't know a lot of information about where he's involved and so far, some of the "solutions" that have been floated still sort of fall short.

I'm just putting it -- just giving it to his sons, who he speaks to every day, who have a direct line into the White House, still you will see people approaching the sons as a way to get to Donald Trump. So there really hasn't been a solid solution that would kind of -- that would really take care of a lot of the concerns that are out there.

HARLOW: Short of releasing his tax returns, which I do not think will happen --

KUCINICH: No, of course not.

HARLOW: -- is there -- I mean, how much is he risking, Ron Brownstein, being in violation of the Constitution when it comes to businesses in foreign countries and even the appearance of impropriety there?

BROWNSTEIN: That's going -- I mean, that's going to be the hardest question, I think one they're probably going to spend a lot of time legally trying to resolve. But I think that what Jackie was saying about the tax returns is true. There's also the other point which is that you had ethics officials from the Bush and Obama administrations, Republicans and Democrats, saying really short of what the -- the ultimate step of dissolving the business and putting --


BROWNSTEIN: -- the assets in a blind trust, anything short of that is going to leave you with questions. And I think those question -- and that option does not appear to be on the table --

HARLOW: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: -- so this something we are going to be dealing with, I think, throughout the Trump presidency.

HARLOW: Well, you're now out of time. You can't dissolve all these businesses in 22 days. It can't happen.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, you could begin a process.

HARLOW: A start.

BROWNSTEIN: You could begin a process but, look, there's no indication that process is heading our way.

HARLOW: Guys, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

KUCINICH: Thanks, Poppy.

LEMON: The Obama administration preparing to punish Russia over apparent meddling in the U.S. election, so what type of sanctions can we expect and how will Russia fight back, next.


[07:42:40] LEMON: The Obama administration preparing to level sanctions against Russia for meddling in the U.S. elections. Russian leaders are not taking the threats lightly and promising to hit back. I want to discuss now with CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez, along with CNN contributor and senior editor at "The Daily Beast" which is Mr. Michael Weiss.

Evan, to you first. President Obama going ahead with punishing the Russians over their hacking. What does that look like, exactly?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: At this point, Don, the most important part of this is that we're -- for the first time we're going to hear names of individuals that the Obama administration believe should be punished for this Russian -- this information campaign that involved not only the hacking of the Democratic Party organization but then going beyond that, which is obviously a lot of nations hack.

We hack, everybody hacks. But what was different about the Russian operation this year was the dissemination of that information using WikiLeaks and DC Leaks and other websites to try to harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton. That's the view of the U.S. intelligence community.So for the first time, we're going to hear names, we're going to see sanctions. We're going to see all the diplomatic moves that the Obama administration believes is proportional to response to what the Russians were trying to do this year.

LEMON: Michael, I'll ask you the same question. What does that look like and does it really have any teeth at this point?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it's going to have much teeth, only because there does seem to be a bit of an economic thaw on the horizon between Russia and, frankly, the world.

There was just a major deal struck between Glencore and Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, which was sanctions-compliant because it had nothing to do -- sanctions had nothing to do at the moment with buying and selling equity in Russian energy enterprises. I think Europe is not going to stand by and certainly is going to exert pressure on the United States not to do anything that's going to really hinder foreign direct investment.

Now, what the U.S. could do and what people like myself have been advocating that it should do in response is -- look, Russia's a Kleptocracy. The elite -- that the power vertical in the government keeps its money abroad. Vladimir Putin, according to the first suite of sanctions the U.S. ever implemented for the invasion of Crimea, has got access to direct cash in a Swiss commodities trading firm. This is according to the U.S. Treasury. Why not disclose that information?

LEMON: Right.

WEISS: Where are the bank accounts? The chalets and chateaus that are being kept for the president in Russia and his inner circle. That's a kind of information war for the U.S. that it has at its disposal.

[07:45:00] Now, the one thing they could also do in response to the hacking is -- look, if the directors of the FSB, which is the domestic security service, and the GRU, which is the military intelligence service, the two agencies accused of perpetrating these hacks independently of one another -- if they're put on a sanctions list -- and this is the U.S. basically declaring war against Russia's intelligence service.

LEMON: I have to ask you this because the response was heated from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I'm going to put up what they said. It said, "If Washington really does take new hostile steps, they will be answered. Any action against Russian diplomatic missions in the U.S. will immediately bounce back on U.S. diplomats in Russia. Frankly, we are tired about the lies about Russian hackers. It's misinformation by Obama administration aimed at providing an excuse for its own failure."

The question is, I mean, this is -- this could get pretty bad.

WEISS: Yes, but I mean -- look, the Russians have been very cheeky about this. Sergey Lavrov gave an interview to Christiane Amanpour on this network a few months ago saying, oh, we never denied it but they never proved it.

Forcing the United States to come out with evidence that this has happened, what kind of evidence would that entail? It could be signals, intercepts, you know, this kind of stuff the NSA does or, more likely, it could be human intelligence, meaning the CIA has got spies is Moscow who know things because they've got agents working in the Russian government who are feeding them information. We cannot compromise that kind of sourcing so it's very difficult for the U.S. government to sort of say here's all the evidence that we know the Russians have.

LEMON: And you put it in the right perspective. It is the U.S. government, it's not just the Obama administration. It's the CIA, it's the FBI.

WEISS: Every intelligence agency, there's a consensus on that.

LEMON: Should the president have acted sooner?

WEISS: Yes, I think he should have. When he gave that press conference a few weeks ago and said oh, well, back in September I met Mr. Putin in Beijing and I told him you've got to cut it out with the hacking of my country. Look, this is a guy who has been credibly accused in a British high court of ordering the eradiation assassination of a Russian dissident in a London hotel. Telling him to knock it off, please. It doesn't really cut it.

LEMON: Evan, I hear you want to respond.

PEREZ: Well, I think Michael's right. I mean, I think the president may have made a big show of saying that he told Putin to cut it out at and, frankly, hasn't stopped the hacking. I mean, we've known that even since the election there have been additional attempts by the Russians to break into Democratic Party officials' private emails. So they're not done and what we know it's going to continue happening, even under a President Trump administration, is that the -- is that the Russian spy services -- I'm not going to quit doing this kind of stuff.

And so, even though I think Michael is right that some of this stuff doesn't have a lot of teeth, it is intended to be proportional because one of the things we don't want is for us to have a wider cyberwar with the Russians. We have a lot more to lose in that kind of -- in that kind of engagement with the Russians than the Russians do, frankly.

LEMON: For the interest of time I won't play the soundbite but we know that Donald Trump has reacted. He's dismissing this Russian hacking, saying that --

PEREZ: Right.

LEMON: -- everyone should move on. There's not one -- that's not exactly what Republicans in Congress are saying.

PEREZ: That's not what Republicans want, exactly.

LEMON: What kind of message does that send is the question, Evan?

PEREZ: Right and, well, the problem is that I think the president- elect wants to move on but there are members of Congress, including Lindsey Graham and John McCain, that are not going to let this go. And so, if he tries to remove sanctions I think you're going to see some pushback from Republicans and from Democrats in Congress and I think that's going to be a major part of the fight that we'll see between his White House and the Congress. LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you very much, Evan. Thank you, Michael Weiss. I appreciate that -- Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Coming up, our presidential historian Douglas Brinkley getting some facetime with the president-elect. What did they discuss? He will tell us when he joins us ahead on NEW DAY.


[07:52:32] HARLOW: Two thousand sixteen has been an unforgettable and an unprecedented year in politics, if you haven't noticed. Our political correspondent -- chief political correspondent Dana Bash has a look back at the top 10 moments of this presidential election.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Controversial, unprecedented, and unexpected, 2016 was an election year for the ages with an ending meant to disrupt Washington, and that it did. The fight for the GOP presidential nomination hit new lows in 2016 as Republicans scrambled to beat frontrunner Donald Trump at his own game.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: And you know what they say about men with small hands. You can't trust them, you can't trust them, you can't trust them.

BASH: The insults got under Trump's skin.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands. If they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee it.

BASH: But nothing could knock the billionaire from the top spot.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: All right, everybody.

BASH: In a remarkable display of GOP hesitation and consternation about Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in government, refused to endorse the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

RYAN: Well, to be perfectly candid with you, Jake, I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.

BASH: Then, touche. Trump parroted Ryan's language in an interview with "The Washington Post". "I like Paul but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership and I'm just not quite there yet." Ryan did eventually offer Trump a tepid endorsement but the party's discomfort with their unconventional nominee persisted through Election Day.

On the Democratic side, there was Hillary Clinton's rhetorical fumble about Trump voters.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.

BASH: She issued an apology but Trump and his supporters embraced the moniker.

TRUMP: You remember what Hillary Clinton said? Basket of deplorables, right?

[07:55:00] BASH: Months of intraparty fighting culminated in two historic conventions. Each party tried to repair their rifts before the general election. In Cleveland, a public display of GOP disunity. Trump's former rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, was invited to speak but refused to endorse the nominee.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience.

BASH: Trump, ever the showman, stole Cruz' thunder, appearing in the family box in the middle of the speech. And in Philly, it was an unknown couple, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who took on Trump.

KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FAMILY: Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will -- I will gladly lend you my copy.

BASH: Trump took the bait, going after the Gold Star family in interviews and on Twitter and handing Hillary a post-convention lead.

For President Obama, 2016 was personal.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Donald is not really a plans guy. He's not really a facts guy, either.

BASH: Obama eviscerated Trump on the campaign trail and Trump hit back.

TRUMP: He is the founder of ISIS. He's the founder of ISIS.

BASH: But after years of stoking conspiracies about President Obama's birthplace, Trump reversed course for the sake of his own presidential run.

TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.

BASH: Then, there were the debates. The candidates' performances in three face-to-face fights were must-see T.V. for voters.

TRUMP: Hello.


BASH: Clinton used the match-ups to lure Trump off message.

CLINTON: He called this woman "Miss Piggy" then he called her "Miss Housekeeping" because she was Latino. Donald, she has a name.

TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?

CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado. BASH: But Trump successfully painted Clinton as more of the same -- part of the problem in Washington which, it turns out, really resonated.

TRUMP: She's been doing this for 30 years and why hasn't she made the agreements better?

LEMON: The monster political storm rocking Donald Trump's campaign.

BASH: October brought an unwelcomed surprise for the Trump campaign, an instantly infamous caught-on-tape moment from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" appearance where the Republican nominee is heard making extremely lewd comments about women.

TRUMP: And when you're a star they'll let you do it. You can do anything.


BASH: Those words led to a string of accusations from women saying that Trump had sexually assaulted them. With only weeks until the election it seemed like the contest might be over.

But in a stunning move, FBI director James Comey broke historical precedent by taking action 11 days before the election and handed the Clinton campaign their own October surprise. Comey had more power than usual since Attorney General Loretta Lynch was compromised after Bill Clinton boarded her plane during the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

Comey decided not to bring charges against Clinton in June, but then he sent a letter to Congress a week and one-half before the election saying the FBI was looking into additional emails discovered on Anthony Weiner's home computer.

CLINTON: It is incumbent upon the FBI to tell us what they're talking about.

BASH: He cleared Clinton again before November 8th, but her team points directly to his actions as a key reason for her loss.

CLINTON: I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

BASH: After trying in 2008, Hillary Clinton did make history in 2016, becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. Still, her heartbreak was palpable when she spoke about falling short of a historic benchmark she failed to reach.

CLINTON: I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling but someday someone will and, hopefully, sooner than we might think right now.

BASH: For the political world, 2016 will be remembered with one head- spinning day, November 8th.

CNN can report that Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race. She has called Donald Trump to say that she will not be president.

Even Donald Trump, himself, appeared surprised.

TRUMP: As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but, rather, an incredible and great movement.

BASH: Voters certainly called for change in 2016. The test for 2017 is whether Donald Trump, a first-time politician and unconventional candidate and president-elect, can deliver his promise to fix Washington.


LEMON: It makes you wonder --

HARLOW: What a year.

LEMON: -- what's ahead in 2017. My goodness.

HARLOW: What a year. All right, we're following a lot of news this morning. Let's get right to it.