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Trump Feuds with John Lewis; U.S. Senate to Investigate Russian Interference in Election; Flynn's Contact with Russian Ambassador Raising Questions; Trump Nominees Contradict His Policy Positions; Biggest Takeaways from Tillerson Confirmation Hearing; Anti-Trump Group Calls for Boycott of L.L. Bean; DOJ Releases Scathing Report on Chicago Police Department; Chinese Media Warns of Possible War with U.S. over Islands; Report Michelle Obama's 8 Years in the Spotlight; Trump Suggests He Would Reverse Sanctions on Russia. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 14, 2017 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:28] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and thank you for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
President-elect Donald Trump has long said he wants to improve the U.S. relationship with Russia, but now, six days before being sworn in, Trump is revealing how he would engage with Russia going forward. Trump tells the "Wall Street Journal" he would be open to lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia, saying, quote, "If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody's doing somebody is doing some really great things?" We'll go live to Moscow.
Meanwhile, playing defense, the president-elect is lashing out at civil rights icon, John Lewis, after the Georgia congressman said he would not attend Trump's inauguration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D), GEORGIA: I don't see the as president-elect as a legitimate president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, as Trump's inauguration committee is making preparations, protests and marches have already begun. This hour, we'll be following a civil rights march from the Washington Monument to the Martin Luther King Memorial underway now, as well as a rally for fair immigration reform, also right now underway in the Metropolitan AME Church.
But first, let's discuss Trump's feud with Lewis.
CNN's Jessica Schneider is live outside Trump Tower.
Jessica, Lewis, widely respected on all sides of the aisle. This situation is looking pretty ugly and could potentially get worse. What's the latest from Trump Tower? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is that the
president-elect was tweeting two successive tweets before 8:00 this morning, personally attacking Congress John Lewis, after, of course, John Lewis made those comments he does not regard Trump's presidency as legitimate because of the Russian hacks during the election. Well, Donald Trump this morning fired back, as he often does on twitter, releasing two tweets. I'll read them. Saying, "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested, rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All tall, talk, talk, no action or results. Sad."
Of course, many people revere John Lewis, saying that, of course, he is a man of action. He was at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, marching next to Martin Luther King Jr, the man who we're honoring on Monday. In fact, it was 1963 when John Lewis, at the very young age of 23, was the youngest speaker to speak at the march on Washington. Then, he led the Selma-to-Montgomery marches where, on Bloody Sunday, he and other marchers, who were walking against segregation, were beaten and bloodied by the Alabama state troopers there. John Lewis had his skull fractured.
So, very revered as this civil right leader and now a member of Congress for the past 30 years.
Many coming to his defense, including House minority speaker -- I'm sorry, House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, saying that John Lewis has -"Many people have tried to silence John Lewis in the past, but all have failed" -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: And so, an interesting variation of responses, some who are coming out in support of Lewis and his place in history.
And then there's at least one other member of Congress now saying he, too, will not attend the inauguration. What more can you tell us?
SCHNEIDER: That's right. John Lewis himself saying he will not be at the inauguration, the first one he will have missed in 30 years serving in Congress. Also, just in the past few minutes, the California Congress Mark Takano tweeting this out, saying, "All talk, no action. I stand with @RepJohnLewis. I will not be attending the inauguration."
We know several members of Congress not planning to attend as Donald Trump gets sworn in, this California Congressman, being the latest, joining John Lewis, and standing up for what they say they believe in -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.
All right. The U.S. Senate also saying more today about the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election. The Intelligence Committee is promising to look into Russian cyber activity and will also investigate any possible links between Russia and individuals associated with U.S. political campaigns.
Jill Dougherty is in Moscow and she's a global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Center.
There's has already been an unclassified intelligence report, Jill, that pointed the finger at Russia. Is there an expectation that this Senate expectation will glean more information about potentially specific individuals who may have been involved, Jill?
[13:05:19] JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think it's really impossible at this point to say what it will reveal. But you know, you have a lot of investigations now going on. You have that Senate intelligence committee and Donald Trump himself who said that his people would investigate and within 90 days, give a report on any hacking and other aspect of it, so, this is really going along. This is again, as we keep saying, uncharted territory, but again, nobody knows, but it is casting a very different light on this transition. It's starting out with a lot of questions. And it makes it difficult for I think for the incoming president to really do exactly what he wants to do, hence this kind of back and forth messaging. Quite confusing, actually.
WHITFIELD: It is and getting more so because you know, on one hand, we're hearing Donald Trump over a period of time now, who did not trust the intel community's findings, then said he has the utmost respect for the community, but now, this latest message, I'm going to have my own people come up with you know, it's ow assessment of what is transpiring here, does that send a message that once sworn in and once in the oval office and getting briefings, that he may not trust the briefings until another set of people or another body then has another type of intel briefing, then it's combing and using this. Not sure what the message is that's being sent or potentially what's the sketch that's being drawn out here.
DOUGHERTY: Yeah, I don't think anybody is, Fred, but I think the underline, the biggest message that we're taking from this, and the incoming president has said this. That basely, he does not trust what they are saying. So, what does he mean by my people. It could be the national security people that he will bring in. His National Security Council. But that's a question. Whom will he trust? And the information that's given to him by the professionals will he actually trust it. It's also raising other issues because the incoming president also is talking about lifting potentially sanctions, but again, you have this lack of clarity about what he really means. Will he lift sanctions or is he simply open to lifting sanctions? And you would think that it would be hard to lift sanction imposed by President Obama over hacking unless you know whether there was hacking and who hacked. So, those investigations, you would think, would have to go forward. And he says it would be 90 days. So, I don't think, a lot of this is he's putting out these feelers and broadly phrased ideas, but how it will all turn out is not clear and I can tell you also, from the Russian perspective, they're basically saying yes, sounds like a good idea. And then what? So, they don't know either how this is going to end up.
WHITFIELD: Keeping this all organized, that, too, part of the challenge.
Jill Dougherty, thank you so much. You laid that out masterfully. Appreciate it.
DOUGHERTY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Creating even more questions around Trump's relationship with Russia, the president-elect's controversial choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, he contacted the Russian ambassador to the United States several times around the same time that President Obama announced sanctions against Russia. The Russian ambassador will also attend Trump's inauguration.
I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst, Aaron David Miller. He also spent 20 years as an adviser to several secretaries of state on U.S. policy in the Middle East. He's joining us from Washington.
Good to see you, Aaron.
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It's good to see you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So, Senator Chris Coons saying this call was quote, "very suspicious." How do you assess the call and then possibly at least one meeting prior and now even the attendance of this Russian ambassador to the inauguration?
MILLER: The tick-tock on this is interesting and unclear on whether or not the Russian ambassador reached out to Mike Flynn or vice versa. But on balance, it reflects the fact that the new administration has determined to test of proposition that relations with Russia can get better. I think it's a shot across the bow to the incoming secretary of state, not yet confirmed. There's the question of who is going to be in charge of handling -- clearly, the president is in charge. But is it going to be the national security adviser, the secretary of state? I think that's important to keep track of. Second, "The Washington Post" front page this morning runs a headline that the United States is now invited to attend talks later this month in Kazakhstan on Syria.
[13:10:33] WHITFIELD: And the Obama administration was not ever extended that kind of invitation.
MILLER: Exactly. I think this will give rise, I think, to some who will argue, you see, the president-elect's strategy is working.
WHITFIELD: Is that good?
MILLER: Is it good? In the end, the question is, whether it's good or bad, the issue is will it work. I think you have a president-elect who fashions himself, the transactor in chief, "The Art of the Deal," who believes he knows how to negotiate. Certainly, in the business world, that's true. And he's trying to refrain America's relationship with both Russia and China. With the Russians, he's using carrots to dangle the prospects of sanctions being removed. With the Chinese, he's using sticks, questioning the One China policy, hoping that Beijing will come around on trade, currency manipulation, and their own aggressive activities in the South China Sea. And I think Jill laid it out right, whether or not this will work, how much is going to represent formal policy, is unclear. But guess what, with -- a week from now, we're going start to find out.
WHITFIELD: It's very complicated, isn't it? And I guess what is your view on the start of this presidency? We've heard Donald Trump and many of his advocates talk about the first 100 days, and Obamacare being among those things, immigration, the pursuit of the wall being at the top of the list. But then these matters on a global scale are huge. It would seem all taking place on a global scale involving Donald Trump's thoughts really will upstage many of those domestic matters.
MILLER: You know, the 100-day metric is really an unreasonable and unrealistic one. It emerged clearly in the days of FDR's first administration, where FDR, confronting the Great Depression, had the urgency, the political support and the know-how to actually get things done. You can do a lot in 100 days, learn to reprogram your VCR, lose a lot of weigh, start a new exercise program, but to try to set an artificial notion that within the first 100 days you're going to reach deals in the cruel unforgiving world, which this administration is going to confront, I think that's a stretch.
We shouldn't be in a hurry. It's really critically important that the president-elect become the president first, and then seek the counsel of advisers and the intelligence community before he sets off on trying to create and realign strategy. So, thinking before acting, being patient, all of these things are extremely important. And I hope to see them in that first 100 days.
WHITFIELD: Aaron David Miller, always good to see you. Thank you so much from Washington.
MILLER: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, we're entering another packed week of confirmation hearings, including secretary of treasury and education. One hearing that dominated headlines this past week, secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson. Up next, the biggest takeaways from his testimony, and the questions over his past that still remain.
[13:16:24] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
A fresh round of nomination hearings on Capitol Hill next week, including Donald Trump's picks for treasury and the next ambassador to the United Nations.
As CNN's Jeff Zeleny explains, if this past week is any indication that we might hear views that aren't exactly in line with the president-elect, we'll see it all unfold.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRSEPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is facing a new round of opposition on Capitol Hill, not from Democrats but from his own cabinet nominees. At one confirmation hearing after another, Trump's team is contradicting the president- elect on some of his key campaign trail promises.
On Russia, Trump taking a far softer tone on Vladimir Putin than his pick for defense secretary, retired General James Mattis did.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Putin likes Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I have very modest expectations about areas of cooperation with Mr. Putin.
ZELENY: On the intelligence probe into Russian hacking, Trump sounded far less certain than Mike Pompeo, his choice to lead the CIA.
TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we get also hacked by other countries and other people.
REP. MIKE POMPEO, (R), KANSAS & CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: It's clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy. I'm very clear eyed about what that intelligence report says.
ZELENY: At Trump Tower Friday, the president-elect downplayed the differences between his views and those of his perspective cabinet.
TRUMP: I told them to be yourselves and say what you want to say. Don't worry about me. I'm going to do the right thing, whatever it is. I may be right. And they may be right. But I said be yourself.
ZELENY: But his rhetoric before the election, and since, is now colliding with governing, sending mixed signals to Americans and allies about where the new administration stands.
On the campaign trail, Trump railed against NATO, while his defense secretary nominee took a different view.
TRUMP: NATO is obsolete. It was 67 years or over 60 years old.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: Having served once as NATO a supreme allied commander, it is the most successful military alliance probably in modern world history, maybe ever.
ZELENY: The Senators spent much of their time this week asking the nominees if they agree with Trump's views on hot-button issues, like torture. His pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said he did not.
TRUMP: Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I'd approve it.
(CHEERING) SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R), ALABAMA & U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:
Congress is taking an action now that makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding or any other form of torture.
ZELENY: In one of his biggest pledges of all, building a wall on the border with Mexico --
TRUMP: We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration.
ZELENY: His pick to lead Department of Homeland Security, retired General John Kelly, disagreed.
GEN. JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY NOMINEE: A physical barrier, it and of itself, will not do the job. It has to be a layered defense.
ZELENY (voice-over): And secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, contradicted the view of Trump on climate change this week, saying he believes it exists and requires a global response.
Now, Donald Trump has said he wants members of his cabinet to have their own views. The question is, whose views, the cabinet or the president, become the policy of this new administration.
Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
[13:19:54] WHITFIELD: All right, I want to bring back Aaron David Miller to talk about the nomination hearings.
So, Aaron, Rex Tillerson also going through his confirmation hearings this week on his nomination for secretary of state. And we saw there, you know, a real contrast, not surprisingly. He was asked about Russia, but here's how he summed up his views on what needs to be done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, FORMER CEO, EXXONMOBIL & SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Russia is here, Russia matters, and they're a force to be dealt with, and that is a fairly predictable course of action they're taking. I think the important conversation that we have to have with them is, does Russia want to now and forever be an adversary of the United States, do you want this to get worse or does Russia desire a different relationship. We're not likely to ever be friends. I think, as others have noted, our value systems are starkly different, that we do not hold the same values.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, and so, we know Rex Tillerson and a lot of his business dealings with Russia, but at the same time, he says during confirmation hearings that Russia doesn't want to continue to be an adversary and he says Russia and the U.S. not necessarily considered friends. Do -- and then you hear from Donald Trump. Whether it be in the "Wall Street Journal" today, who says you've got to have a good relationship with Russia and leverage that. So, these mixed messages, these contrasting views, of a nominee versus the president-elect soon to be president, is that healthy?
MILLER: I've worked for "R"s and "D"s and voted for "R"s and "D"s but I've never quite seen anything like this, the degree of daylight that exists between the president-elect and at least three or four of the nominees. Look, Fred, you could read this one of two ways, either this is unorganized chaos, the right and left hand are not coordinated, or alternatively, you could look at this and say, you know, yeah, you have a president-elect who's out there, not schooled in foreign policy, said a lot of things, he's appointed nominees who are independent minded and have their own tough views and are prepared, over time, to educate the president. I prefer, because I believe and hope for success, that it's the second thing that is going on. That in Mattis and Tillerson, Mattis in particular, you have two men who are prepared to speak truth to power to the president-elect. And since -- you know, Crosby, Stills and Nash were right that life is about learning. And the president is going to have to get, particularly this one, is going to have to be educated, it seems to me, on some of these core issues.
So, on balance, I think once he becomes the president and once decisions are made, he's going to have to seek the counsel of the secretary of state and secretary of defense, assuming they're both confirmed, and to make policy accordingly. At least that's what I'm hoping.
WHITFIELD: So, how worrisome, or is it worrisome at all, we heard Donald Trump on the campaign trail say and use election day as kind of that post of, well, if I'm elected, then this will change, and then during this transition period, it's well, once I'm sworn in, then this will change. I mean, why --
MILLER: I mean --
WHITFIELD: -- should this be comforting or why is it unsettling to hear this?
MILLER: The ultimate pivot is yet to occur. That's less than a week from now, at noon next Friday, when the nominee or the candidate, the nominee, the president-elect, will become the president. And that is an extraordinary set of responsibilities, both for ensuring domestic prosperity for Americans at home and for protecting the security of the United States abroad. That's an extraordinary responsibility. And that is going to demand accountability, where success and failure is going to be very clear, it seems to me, and very easy to measure. We haven't seen -- that pivot has not yet occurred. And I suspect, watching Tillerson, assuming he's confirmed, and Mattis, it seems to me that these two picks at least raise the prospects that the president-elect, soon to be president, would be at least getting the right advice with respect to how to look at these things in an organized disciplined fashion and then create a sensible policy. So, I willfully perhaps, hopefully, not naively, see on the national security side less difficulty than on the domestic.
WHITFIELD: And whether advice given will be advice respected or even used in decision making.
Aaron David Miller, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
MILLER: Thank you, Fred.
[13:24:37] WHITFIELD: Still ahead, why Donald Trump wants people to shop at L.L. Bean. We'll explain what's next.
WHITFIELD: Outdoor retail store, L.L. Bean, is caught in the middle of some political drama. The granddaughter of the founder is a Trump supporter and that prompted an anti-Trump group to call for an L.L. Bean boycott.
CNN's Jason Carroll has the story and Donald Trump's tweets on the feud.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: -- L.L. Bean.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPODNENT: Boycott L.L. Bean? Not if the president-elect has anything to say about it. Donald Trump tweeted, "Thank you to Linda Bean, of L.L. Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L. Bean."
That, after an anti-Trump movement, called Grab Your Wallet, added the outdoor retailer to a list of companies it says consumers should boycott for supporting Trump.
LINDA BEAN, BOARD MEMBER, L.L. BEAN: I think it's very much a case of bullying. It's bullying me. It's bullying the companies that I own.
CARROLL: Federal Election Commission reports show Bean donated $30,000 during the 2016 campaign to a political organization backing Trump. L.L. Bean is urging the boycott organizers to reconsider, saying in a statement released over the weekend, "No individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that L.L. built." Adding that, "L.L. Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions. Simply put, we stay out of politics."
Trump, not the only one coming to the company's defense. Independent Senator Angus King, of Maine, where L.L. Bean is based, says "The boycott efforts are misguided." King tells CNN, "L.L. Bean is a nonpartisan company. I have known them and worked with them for virtually all my adult life. They take no role in politics." Linda Bean says there is a political double standard, insisting her
cousin's contributions to President Obama's campaign did not produce the same response.
BEAN: Definitely, a double standard. And they're victimizing -- both these guys won. Obama won and Trump won. My cousin's candidate, my candidate --
UNIDENTIFIED SHOW CO-HOST: Your cousin --
BEAN: -- but I'm the one that's being targeted and vilified.
CARROLL: And Benn says those call federal government home run her to step down from the board should not hold their breath.
[13:30:00] BEAN: I never back down, if I feel I'm right. And I do feel that they're bullies. That's all they are.
BEAN: A small kernel of hard-core bullies on the west coast in California trying to control what we do, what we buy, what we sell in Maine.
CARROLL: Trump's support for Bean is raising some questions about the president-elect's support for her family's company. Former FEC general counsel, Larry Noble, says Trump's tweet might have gone too far.
LARRY NOBLE, GENERAL COUNSEL, CAMPAIGNL LEGAL CENTER & FORMER FEC GENERAL COUNSEL: He's willing to use the power of the presidency to get what he wants at any given moment regardless of whether or not the president should be doing that.
CARROL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, still ahead, a war of words is brewing between Congressman John Lewis and Donald Trump. The president-elect criticized the civil rights icon over, quote, "being all talk and no action." We'll discuss, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Two white Cleveland police officers are facing possible internal disciplinary charges in connection with the 2014 the death of a 12-year-old African-American boy, Tamir Rice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALVIN WILLIAMS, CHIEF, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: Currently, I have reviewed the committee's report and made a recommendation on some of the items in that report to the director of public safety for a hearing for possible violations of our orders, our rules, our regulations, and our tactics and training and procedures. (END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:35:08] WHITFIELD: The city's safety director will determine whether any action will be taken against the officer who shot Rice and the officer driving the cruiser. Rice was shot in November 2014 outside a recreational center after someone called 911 reporting a guy with a gun. Rice was carrying a pellet gun.
A new U.S. Justice Department report on the Chicago Police Department revealed horrific new details about the force. Shooting and tasing suspects who present no threat, shooting at vehicles without justification, and using force to retaliate against people. Those are just a few of the findings revealed as a result of a 13-month federal investigation.
Here's CNN's Ryan Young with details.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Department of Justice has concluded there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Department of Justice releasing a scathing report Friday of the Chicago Police Department.
LYNCH: The Department of Justice and the city of Chicago have agreed to begin negotiations on an independently monitored court- enforceable consent decree.
YOUNG: The first steps after a 13-month-long federal investigation of a department that has been under heavy scrutiny over officer-involved shootings and practices.
LYNCH: The systems and policies that fail ordinary citizens also fail the vast majority of Chicago Police Department officers.
YOUNG: The Justice Department began its investigation into CPD amid the public uproar over the 2014 shooting of a 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by police.
Investigators said they found numerous incidents of unjustified force, including shooting at fleeing suspects who presented no immediate threat, all signs, investigators believe, point to officers that are deficient in training, including de-escalation tactics, knowing when to use deadly force, and who have a clear need for more supervision.
VANITA GUPTA, PRINCIPLE DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We observed training on deadly force that used a video made decades ago with guidance inconsistent with both current law and internal policy.
YOUNG: The Chicago Police Union wasting no concern over what it calls the lightning speed of the Justice Department's investigation, saying, in part, "What also remains to be seen is whether or not the report might be considered compromised or incomplete as a result of rushing to get it before the presidential inauguration.
The report comes the same week that Senator Jeff Sessions, President- elect Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, expressed skepticism about such decrees.
LYNCH: A transition is coming in Washington, but the departure of one or two people -- and, yes, the top two at the Department of Justice move on -- this agreement is not dependent on one or two or three people.
Body cameras, new training and more oversight are more practices Chicago's mayor believes will make for a better police force.
RAHM MANUEL, (D), CHICAGO MAYOR: All those things are things officers themselves have asked for and asked of us, and we haven't done our job, both as the leadership of the police and the city, providing the officers what they need.
YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.
WHITFIELD: All right, for more about this, let's bring in our favorite legal teams here, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, joining us from Cleveland.
Good to see you.
And Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney, from Las Vegas.
Good to see you as well.
So, Chicago isn't the only city whose police department is being monitored by the Justice Department. Baltimore is also under similar circumstances and being watched.
So, I wonder, Avery, how constructively would this informed consent be used? What happens after this has now been made public?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: It's a standard-form consent decree and it involves actually a number of major cities, New York, Los Angeles, now, Chicago, Baltimore. Cleveland is under one. What it's doing, in simple terms, is increasing the professionalism of police officers, learning de- escalation, increasing community policing, maintaining data so that you can do analysis. All it does is it stops unconstitutional behavior.
And let me tell you something, the -- part of the Department of Justice, the Civil Rights Division, the Special Litigation Section is Delta Force. They are the best of the best. That's what they do under an act of Congress passed in 1994. So, this decree will do nothing but improve police community relations and enhance professionalism within the police department. WHITFIELD: But, Richard, these things mean more resources and won't a
city simply argue that we don't have the resources and so we're not able to meet these demand demands.
[13:40:00] RICHARD HERMAN, CRMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: As soon as you put a monitor, Fred, the price goes through the roof. And the bigger problem -- and while it's an yeoman's effort to put these report together and they bind them up nicely and they throw darts at the police departments and the oversight of the police department, they pick out all these problems, which is common sense. You don't need 10 months to come up with a report like this. The enforceability of these agreements is the problem now. And the Trump administration is pro investment law enforcement and Sessions has said unequivocally he's not for oversight of police conduct.
HERMAN: So, in the end, the reality of these agreements are they're not worth the paper they're written on. That's it.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, that's not true.
HERMAN: You have a young police officer with minimal training put into a high-crime area to try to preserve the peace, split-second decisions have to be made. Those are the ones being criticized now.
HERMAN: Education seems to be the only alternative. I don't know how else you could prevent these problems, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So, then, Avery, it is a challenge that the outstanding A.G. is giving to an incoming A.G. in terms of this is an area, these are cities that need to be closely watched, it's up to you, the next person who takes the helm of the Department of Justice and hears the challenge?
FRIEDMAN: Right, well, it doesn't matter to me that Jeff Sessions becomes attorney general or not. The fact is that federal jurisdiction has been involved in the United States district judges. If Senator Sessions thinks this all goes away because he doesn't care for it, he's 100 percent incorrect. The federal courts will continue to monitor consent orders to improve, enhance and professional police activity and eliminate or try to minimize unconstitutional police behavior. There's no way out, no matter what becomes the attorney general, Fredricka.
And so, Richard, what's your view on that? Will there be a condition tin yum regardless of who the next A.G. is?
HERMAN: No, there will not be a continuance, Fred. Jeff Sessions has given us his position on this. So again, all this hard work put together by the current A.G., who's gone, like the Affordable Care Act, which will be gone, all these are just going to be blown in the wind.
HERMAN: They're not going to be enforced by federal court orders or the federal law enforcement because the president is against it.
HERMAN: That's the problem we have for the next four years. It is a huge problem, Fred, and something to keep your eye on here.
WHITFIELD: Avery, you disagree?
FRIEDMAN: Again, it's a federal court monitoring things. Whether Jeff Sessions wants to enforce it or not really doesn't matter.
FRIEDMAN: It's up to the federal court to make sure that the consent order is complied with. There's no escape with whomever serves as attorney general.
WHITFIELD: So, in 2008, Trump's nominee -- we're talking about Jeff Sessions here -- for attorney general said, quote, "One of the most dangerous and rarely discussed exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the Democratic process."
So, Avery, that is essentially a response to what you're hoping would be respected.
FRIEDMAN: Well, I mean, he may say it, believe it. When consent decrees are put together for voting rights, employment right, excessive force with police departments, they don't evaporate because somebody doesn't like it. I think the consent orders will be continued to be enforced.
The question is, will this attorney general, if he is confirmed, go after other local police departments that violate the Constitution of the United States. That's a big question.
WHITFIELD: All right.
HERMAN: And I think he's answered that question right. We know that answer, right?
Richard, Avery, thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: Always good to see you. Appreciate it.
FRIEDMAN: Pleasure. WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
[13:46:57] WHITFIELD: China is reacting very strongly to secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, who has suggested a more aggressive strategy by the U.S. in the contested waters of the South China Sea. That's where China has built and militarized artificial islands.
CNN's Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They've staked a claim to thousands of acres of what were sand bars and reefs. They've used sophisticated equipment, like these ships, pumping sand through those thin tubes to create islands. Then they built airfields with towering radar stations, constructed port, deployed weapons, even built barracks. China's military buildup of these islands in the South China Sea has angered the Obama administration. The U.S. has sent ships and planes near the islands, sometimes drawing Chinese warnings.
UNIDENTIFIED CHINESE MILITARY PERSONNEL: This is the Chinese navy. This is the Chinese navy. Please go away quickly.
TODD: Now, a government-run Chinese newspaper is warning of a possible war with the U.S. over the manmade islands. It's spurred by this comment from secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, at his confirmation hearings.
REX TILLERSON, FORMER CEO, EXXONMOBIL & SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: We're going to have to send China clear signal that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed.
TODD: The Chinese newspaper says, quote, "Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, then trying to block China's access to the islands would be, quote, 'foolish'." And "Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories."
Pentagon officials are calling on China to reduce tensions.
How could the U.S. deny China access to those islands?
GREGORY POLING, FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: You would want to start with a naval blockade. That's what people would think, you know, the Cuban Missile crisis in the modern era. But this is a lot of space to cover. I would assume you're talking about blocking access to the seven islands that China occupies here. You'd also have to deal with their air capabilities. This is not just a naval blockade. China has four different airstrips built on the largest of the islands. They have hangar space for a full regiment of fighter aircraft on each one of these. That's a lot of capability. Finally, this is not without costs. These are not defenseless features. What you're looking at here are advanced air defense and anti-missile systems. This is an anti-aircraft gun.
TODD: Analyst are worried about escalation.
ROBERT DALY, THE WOODROW WILSON CENTER: The biggest fear is accidental conflict. Accidental conflict. The South China Sea, even under the best possible set of circumstances, is going to get more crowded and more contentious. There are going to be more commercial ships in the area and more military assets.
TODD (on camera): A key question in all of this, did Rex Tillerson speak directly for President-elect Trump when he said the U.S. should deny China access to the islands. I spoke to a Trump transition officials who walked back slightly from Tillerson's comments. The official said denying access doesn't necessarily have to mean a naval blockade, that there are other options, including economic ones. When I pressed on what those might be, the official said there are no details yet, but all of this has to be worked out.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
[13:50:05] WHITFIELD: Turning to politics now, after the break, with just days left in her role as first lady, we look at Michelle Obama's eight years in the spotlight. Stay with us.
WHITFIELD: Michelle Obama made her final TV appearance as first lady on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon. And from mom dancing to "Carpool Karaoke," the appearance caps eight years of talk-show performances from the first lady many call a TV natural.
CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look back.
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: Michelle Obama.
STEPHEN CORBETT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW: Michelle Obama.
ELLEND DEGENERES, HOST, ELLEN: Michelle Obama.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her days of dancing across our screens are numbered.
UNIDENTIFIED TV HOST: How cool is the first lady?
MOOS: Cool enough to run a potato sack race in the White House with Jimmy Fallon.
MOOS: And now she's reached the finish line as the first lady of late night.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It is nuts. I feel like crying right now and I didn't think that.
MOOS: Her last talk-show appearance featured her surprising people --
MOOS: -- as they delivered farewell messages.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So continue to go high even when the challenges of life make us feel low. Thank you so much.
MOOS: She was even serenaded by Stevie Wonder, who adjusted his lyrics.
MOOS: It won't be easy to follow in her dance steps.
MOOS (on camera): Without further ado, we present the greatest hits of the comedy stylings of Michelle Obama.
(voice-over): Of course, there was the evolution of mom dancing alongside Jimmy Fallon in "drag."
MOOS: Followed by evolution of mom dancing two with classics like getting a bag from your collection of plastic bags under the sink.
MOOS: She did "Carpool Karaoke."
MOOS: Went shopping at CVS with Ellen.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We need help on aisle two.
This looks hard.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Oh.
MOOS: She was always promoting --
[13:55:02] MOOS: -- her "Let's Move" campaign.
She even beat Ellen --
MOOS: -- who gave up after 20 push-ups.
No wonder Stevie is singing in tribute.
MOOS: He's the first lady's favorite singer.
MOOS: Not for much longer is she ours.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: Lots of fun there. It's been quite the journey through Jeanne Moos' piece.
We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. Stay with us.
WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.
Repeal, replace and rewind. It's been less than a month since President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for the alleged cyber hacking of U.S. elections and President-elect Trump is now saying he would be willing to reverse them. Trump tells the "Wall Street Journal," quote, "If you get along, and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody is doing some really great things," end quote.
I want to bring in Jill Dougherty to talk more about this. She's a global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Center, and joins me now from Moscow.
Hard to depart from saying you were a CNN bureau chief from Moscow because you've been lots of things, Jill.
All right, Trump said if Russia was really helping us and doing really great things, he would consider lifting sanctions. What are these great things that Trump would be referring to in terms of a potential consequence of a better relationship?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It appears in that interview that he was talking about fighting terrorism. And so, you have to ask, well, what would be the most immediate way they could do that. So, that brings you back to Syria, and that's probably what he has in mind. Although, again, this is very imprecise terminology, "doing good things," or helping out, whatever. That's not really policy. So, I think what he's saying is a lot of things that sound good. They continue --