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Debbie Reynolds Dies; Vladimir Putin Announces Ceasefire Agreement in Syria; Interview with PLO's Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Makes you wonder what's ahead in 2017. My goodness.


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


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The two-state solution is in serious jeopardy.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israelis do not need to be lectured by foreign leaders.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were treated very, very unfairly.

KERRY: Friends need to tell each other the hard truths.

NETANYAHU: Israel looks forward to working with president-elect Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump and Obama seemed to smooth things over.

TRUMP: We talked about it and smiled about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hit Putin for interfering in our election.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Optimism within the American economy is solely to Donald Trump.

TRUMP: Because of me they're doing 5,000 jobs in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Debbie Reynolds has died just one day after her daughter passed away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She died of a broken heart.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

LEMON: Good morning, good morning is very fitting for the show. Welcome to your NEW DAY everyone. I'm Don Lemon with Poppy Harlow. Alisyn and Chris are off. And we're going to begin with another Hollywood tragedy. Film legend Debbie Reynolds has died just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away.

HARLOW: The 84-year-old actress sang and danced her way, as you just saw, right into movie history. Reynolds shot to stardom with the classic 1952 musical "Singin' in the Rain." Celebrities and fans today mourning the unspeakable loss of mother and daughter. We begin our coverage this hour with our Paul Vercammen who is live in Los Angeles. Good morning, Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, it feels like all of Hollywood has gone through a mountain of tissue paper as they mourn this loss. And it must have been tough on Todd Fisher. He's Ddebbie Reynold's son, Carrie's brother. And he reported to CNN that his mother had passed. She died at Cedar Sinai Hospital after reportedly suffering some breathing problems. And he said, spoke to me this morning and said that she missed Carrie, and she's with Carrie now.



VERCAMMEN: 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.


VERCAMMEN: Her star officially launched just a few years later after a spirited performance opposite Gene Kelly in 1952's "Singin' in the Rain."

DEBBIE REYNOLDS, ACTRESS: They put me in "Singin' in the Rain" and they just locked me in a big old studio, and for three months I had five different teachers, one for tap, ballet, jazz, modern, and just work, work, work, work, you know, until I would just fall apart.

VERCAMMEN: 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.


VERCAMMEN: Beloved onscreen, 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, who died just one day before her mother. 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 very a simple little girl, and that's what I was. And he fell madly in love with Elizabeth. Now I understand so many years later. It's in the past.

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


VERCAMMEN: She also never quit performing. Though she stepped away from film for much of her career, Reynolds continued to entertainment 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 a 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.

[08:05:07] REYNOLDS: I paid $20,000 bucks for this.

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

REYNOLDS: I love you. Goodnight, everybody. Thank you.


VERCAMMEN: I was fortunate enough to have interviewed Debbie Reynolds some 20 years ago, and I asked her if she was the type of mother whose children could do no wrong. And she said, "I was a slob of a mother," meaning she was very lenient. Don, Poppy?

LEMON: Yes. What a great mother, I think, and a great actress. I don't think she's a slob mother.

HARLOW: Not at all. Absolutely. Thank you so much, Paul. We appreciate it.

LEMON: We'll continue to follow that news. In the meantime we have some breaking news that we need to turn to you. Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing a ceasefire in the civil war between the Syrian government and the rebel opposition. The ceasefire goes into effect at midnight in Syria. Measures to control the ceasefire and a declaration to enter into peace talks have also been agreed upon.

So let's discuss this breaking news now. I want to bring in the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mr. Pete Hoekstra. Thank you for joining us this morning. Mr. Hoekstra is also a national security adviser for Donald Trump's campaign and now serves his Trump team now as well. So again, thank you for joining us.

I want to begin with this breaking news. A ceasefire declared in Syria done without the U.S., which spent years on Syria with nothing to show for it. Now, Assad stays in power. What will Trump do about this?

FORMER REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, (R) FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Number one I think we've just got to be very, very thankful that the Christmas season, that finally there is some hope there may be an actual ceasefire that will stop the fighting in Syria. Roughly it's estimated 500,000 people may have lost their lives in the last five or six years. So let's hope this ceasefire, regardless of the fact that the United States was not involved in negotiating, let's hope that it holds and brings an opportunity for some relief to the people in Syria.

You know, Mr. Trump will take a look at this situation when he -- obviously he's taking a look at it right now. He will not announce or indicate his plans on this until he's sworn in as president on January 20, recognizing that there's one president at a time, and that this is a -- you know, this is a very, very important development, and let's hope that it continues to move forward.

LEMON: He's also urging patience, because he says that the agreements reached on Syria are fragile. They demand special attention -- and I'm talking about Vladimir Putin -- and patience. He said that in a meeting. It is fragile at this point, and there have been ceasefires before. But they have not stopped.

HOEKSTRA: That's exactly right. Everything right now in the Middle East is fragile and there's probably not any more fragile situation than what you have in Syria, but also the situation with, you know, with Christians in Iraq, with ISIS in Iraq, and what's going on in Mosul. I think, you know, there's roughly 7 million people who are either refugees or who are displaced because of what's going on in Syria, and what's going on with ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.

LEMON: I want to read something. This is Sergey Lavrov who is the defense -- the foreign minister there. He talked about Syria policy. He said -- the Russian foreign minister saying he hopes Trump will join Russia in its Syria efforts. It's another case of a foreign government going around the current administration, isn't it? Why is that?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I mean, I think the die has been cast in terms of the relationship between Russia and this administration. It's been cast between Israel and this administration. And both Russia, Israel, and others recognize that there's a new administration that's going to come in on January 20. They recognize that there's going to be significant policy differences.

Mr. Trump has indicated that, you know, he wants a good working relationship with Russia. He's willing to invest in trying to make that happen. He's going to do it from a position of strength. He's going to expect reciprocity, and respect in that process.

But he realizes that in certain parts of the world, it's important to have a relationship with Russia to address the issues and the conflict that's going on. And he also recognizes that in certain parts of the world, clearly, the United States and Russia will be at great odds, specifically what's going on in Crimea and what's going on in Ukraine. So, again, it's a very delicate situation in Russia. But he's going to look to places where we can have common ground, where we can have a common agenda and hopefully move various issues forward towards resolution.

LEMON: Representative, president-elect Donald Trump distanced himself from Obama's plans to punish Russia for hacking our election, saying I think we ought to get on with our lives. As a former chairman of the House intelligence committee, do you agree with that?

HOEKSTRA: Well, here's a couple of things I hope happen, you know.

[08:10:00] Number one, I spent a long time, you know, the words that come out of the intelligence community mean a lot. We need to -- we need to get a clear distinction and definition as to exactly what the intelligence community is saying Russia did during this election cycle. Did they hack data? Did they release it? What was the intent? And those type of things. So I want a clearer definition.

And the second thing that I want to have happen is it's time for the intelligence community to brief congress. You know, Chairman Nunes of the House intelligence committee. I found that to be outrageous.

LEMON: Should Donald Trump be second guessing the intelligence community, because he's going to have to build a relationship with them and rely on them for information, on their expertise.

HOEKSTRA: Oh, I think it's very, very healthy for the president, I think it's healthy for the intelligence community to be skeptical and tout pressure on the intelligence community to make sure that they put forward great information.

You know, again, them not being willing to brief Congress, I would be greatly concerned about what they're saying and the information that they're leaking out to the public if they're not even willing to brief Congress. And so, yes, a healthy skepticism, because these are very difficult issues, and the intelligence community in recent history has had a very mixed record of actually assessing and providing our leaders with the kind of information that they need to make decisions. You know, they were wrong on Libya. They were wrong on Egypt. They've been wrong on Syria. They've been wrong on ISIS. So yes, intelligence and the people that I know in the intelligence community, they respect -- they respect Congress and a president that challenges them to be the best that they can be.

LEMON: OK, speaking of Congress --

HOEKSTRA: It's really hard --

LEMON: We have a short time. I want to talk about Congress and lawmakers, because Republican Lindsey Graham told CNN this week that Donald Trump is going against virtually the entire Senate. Listen to this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I would say that the 99 of us believe the Russians did this and we're going to do something about it. Along with senator McCain, after this trip is 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 our election.


LEMON: So you say -- you, correct me if I'm wrong, you question the intelligence of our experts, you say Donald Trump has every right to question the intelligence of our experts. But does Donald Trump really want to go into this battle with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when he's going to need them on other issues, as well?

HOEKSTRA: Oh, I don't think he's battling with Lindsey Graham at all. Lindsey is laying out a process that I think is very similar to what I laid out, is they're going to hold the hearings. They're going to find out exactly what the Russians did. Then they're going to go through the legislative process. They're going to develop sanctions and they're going to coordinate that activity with Donald Trump.

And so, it's, again, it's the way the system works. Lindsey and Senator McCain, I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of them. They're moving in one direction. Donald Trump may not be totally on board with where they're going, but ultimately they're going to have to work together because neither one of them will get what they want if they don't -- if they don't have a dialogue and if they don't come to some agreement.

LEMON: Representative Hoekstra, thank you for your time.

HOEKSTRA: Great, thank you.

HARLOW: Meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry railing against each other in these dueling speeches over a path to Middle East peace. Kerry accusing Netanyahu of undermining the two-state solution. Netanyahu at the same time saying that Kerry was paying, quote, "lip service" to Palestinian attacks. Our Oren Liebermann is live for us this hour in Jerusalem with more. What's the reaction on the ground there?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a withering criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry's speech, the U.N. Security Council resolution, and the Obama administration's vision for Middle East peace. This relationship, the Netanyahu-Obama relationship, which we already knew was strained, is even falling apart more in its final weeks.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Friends need to tell each other the hard truths.

LIEBERMANN: Secretary of state John Kerry issuing a stern warning that a two-state solution is now in jeopardy.

KERRY: The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

LIEBERMANN: Kerry blasting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of undermining peace efforts.

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.

[08:15:00] LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu firing back, calling the speech a disappointment, and a bias attack that paid lip service to terror attacks by Palestinians.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.

LIEBERMANN: Despite repeated denials, Netanyahu again accusing the U.S. of orchestrating Friday's United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

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

LIEBERMANN: Kerry vehemently defending the Obama administration's refusal to veto the U.N. resolution.

KERRY: No American administration has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama's. We cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

LIEBERMANN: President-elect Donald Trump weighing in on Kerry's speech from Florida.

TRUMP: We have to have peace. I think it set us back. But, we'll see what happens after January 20th, right?


LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu saying he'll work with Trump to try to repeal the U.N. Security Council resolution, and limit the damage done to Israel. He says he's -- he's urging President Barack Obama not to make any more moves at the U.N. Security Council.

Don, it was Kerry who tried to defend the Obama administration's past eight years on Israel citing a $38 billion military aid deal the largest in U.S. history. That fell on deaf ears when it came to the Netanyahu government.

LEMON: Yes, speaking for 72 minutes yesterday. Thank you, Oren. Appreciate that. And up next, we're going to continue this discussion with U.S. and

Israeli relations hitting rock bottom. What does it mean for Palestinians and the path to peace? We're going to ask a member of the Palestinian authority, next.


HARLOW: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Secretary of State John Kerry accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of undermining the path to peace in the Middle East. This comes after a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

[08:20:04] Joining us now is an executive committee member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.

Thank you for being with me. I appreciate it.

And we have a bit of a delay here so I'm going to get right to it, so we're not speaking over one another.

Let me begin with this. David Keyes from the Israeli government, spokesperson for Benjamin Netanyahu, just came on the program earlier and spoke with Don about -- about where we go, frankly from here, really pointing his finger at you and Palestinians. I want your reaction to this. Listen.


DAVID KEYES, SPOKESPERSON FOR ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Every time they offered, they said no. And the reason is simple, because the conflict is not about the creation of a Palestinian state, it's about the existence of a Jewish state.

And I can quote Palestinian ministers saying precisely that, as well, and I can, you know, tick down the list from Nabil Shaath who said we will never accept two states for two people, to President Abbas who said we will never accept a Jewish state, to Farouk Kaddoumi, to Abbas Hasaqi (ph) to -- on and on down the list.


HARLOW: Your response to that. What is the Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution at this point in staple?

DR. HANAN ASHRAWI, PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER: I think instead of dealing with circumlocution and attempts at deception, let's look at the facts. We have recognized the state of Israel in 1993 --

HARLOW: But not as a Jewish state, doctor. Not as a Jewish state, and you know that it is conditional the Netanyahu government is saying that --

ASHRAWI: We've already answered that. Now, that's a new precondition. Before, the condition was that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel and have to recognize Israel's right to exist and so on.

Now, when they destroy the peace process and all the talks, they introduce another precondition, is that we have also become Zionists suddenly and we have to accept the idea of a Jewish state when we are definitely struggling to have as I said the other day an inclusive, democratic, tolerant Palestinian state.

We cannot accept religion for a state. We cannot talk about Jewish states or Islamic states or Christian states. Otherwise, you will end up having to deal with the Islamic State.

We certainly believe that there is no license to discriminate against any group, any ethnicity, any religion or to give them any additional value because of their ethnicity or religion. So if you want equality, and if you want a state to be an equal among other states, then you recognize the democratic state, and that should be enough. We recognize --

HARLOW: Doctor --

ASHRAWI: If they want us to take that back, we will. But we're not going to take it back just because they want us to become Zionists suddenly.

HARLOW: Doctor, you have said that, and, and, and the -- you know the PLO, you have to stop this settlement building before we can get to peace talks again, before we can get move forward with this process. If you look historically back not that long ago 2009, the Israeli government spent ten months with a complete freeze on settlement building, and the Palestinians did not come to the table for months and months and months until the very end.

What guarantees do they have that a freeze would be meaningful for moving the peace process forward this time?

ASHRAWI: What freeze? Well, please, look, Israel wants to be rewards, it wants to diminish some of its illegal actions and violations. Settlement activities are illegal. It shouldn't be up to a question or negotiations. They shouldn't be building settlements. They shouldn't be stealing the land of the other state, to come to a two-state solution.

Now, this is a grand deception that they froze the settlement building. They didn't. Because they consider Jerusalem annexed, and they could build in and around Jerusalem and they continued.

They said they had already given up hundreds and thousands of permits and they couldn't renege on these permits. So, if you look at the facts you will see in the so-called ten months of freeze, they built even more than they did before that. So that --

HARLOW: Doctor -- the Israelis --

ASHRAWI: The Israeli deception. Let's look at the facts.

HARLOW: You say the Israelis should not be building these settlements.

ASHRAWI: Yes, of course.

HARLOW: At the same time they say --

ASHRAWI: Absolutely.

HARLOW: They say that -- that terrorism on the part of some Palestinians must stop. Even Secretary Kerry addressed that with these words yesterday. Listen.


KERRY: The most recent wave of Palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year, including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks, and bombings, many by individuals who've been radicalized by social media. Yet, the murderers of innocents are still glorified on Fatah websites, including showing attackers next to Palestinian leaders following attacks.


HARLOW: Doctor, as you know, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned attacks on the part of Israelis calling those attackers Jewish terrorists who did the fire bombings. Also condemning the arson that was carried out by Jewish extremists at the church in northern Israel.

Where is the Palestinian condemnation of -- of the attacks as Secretary Kerry is talking about?

ASHRAWI: Look, look, we can always enter into a verbal game and show how much we have not only condemned violence but we have worked actively against violence against civilians. The question is, Israel uses its military machine in order to wreak havoc, to kill, thousands of Palestinians, to bomb and shell and to carry out extrajudicial killings and they don't care, they don't mind.

The thing is Israel is used to acting with impunity and internally, it has given its settlers, including the army, the person who shot a wounded Palestinian was exonerated. People who burned a whole family alive were not punished. People who burned Palestinian young boy alive were also told that they were not balanced and so on.

This impunity has continued because Palestinian lives do not matters to Israelis and the rest of the world. Daily, you have Palestinians being killed. This is what we call the essence of Israeli state terrorism practiced by an army against a captive civilian population. And this population -- excuse me but you cannot constantly tell the Palestinians, who have no rights, no freedoms, living under a brutal military occupation, that they have to constantly turn the other cheek and they have to lie down and die peacefully, when the Israelis have the free hand to use the most horrific violence against us, and to get away with it, under the claim of self-defense from their own victims.

I said this before I'll say this again, we are the only people on earth who are asked, who are held responsible for the safety and security of their occupiers, whether it's the army or the settlers. Occupation --


HARLOW: Doctor, let me get your reaction --

ASHRAWI: -- for the safety of a captive population.

HARLOW: To what Democratic senator said after Kerry's remarks yesterday. I'm just going to read you part of this in the sake of time. He said, "The Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements and Palestinians responded by sending rockets from Gaza into Israel. While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry in his speech to the United Nations has emboldened extremists on both sides."

What is your reaction to that? Emboldening extremists on both sides?

ASHRAWI: I think the last eight years of allowing for the Israeli impunity and violations have emboldened extremists on the Israeli side. This is why the Israeli government has stepped up settlement activities, Palestinian home demolitions, killings and so on, because it knew it could get away with it.

Secondly, Kerry's speech was I think a last-ditch effort to rescue the chances of peace knowing that it's going to fall on deaf ears in Israel because they're the ones destroying the chances of peace. If you're talking about Gaza, Israel is still controlling Gaza. It controls territorial waters, airspace, and, of course, the land itself by closing all the exit and entry points and turning Gaza into a massive prison, with 40 percent unemployment, with 80 percent poverty.

This is what Israel is doing to Gaza and every couple of years, it launches horrific military campaigns against a captive population killing thousands, obliterating whole families, and yet everybody's worried about Israel's safety when it's the Palestinians who are suffering.

HARLOW: Doctor, we're out of time --

ASHRAWI: Extremism exists, and this extremism --

HARLOW: Doctor, we're out of time. You know we'll have you back. But also the United States, as you know -- Hamas the government of Gaza --

ASHRAWI: We need to continue.

HARLOW: -- a terrorist organization.

We will have you back. Thank you for joining us this morning.


LEMON: Much more to talk about now including presidential politics. President-elect Donald Trump meets with a well-known presidential historian who is a familiar face here on CNN. What did Trump want to know about his predecessors? We're going to talk with Douglas Brinkley next.