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President-elect Donald Trump is open to lifting sanctions against Russia; Congressman John Lewis is saying Trump is not legitimate president; Some growing signs of discord between at least two current U.S. allies and the incoming administration. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 14, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone. 4:00 p.m. eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
In just six days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. We are following several major stories leading up to that inauguration.
First in a brand-new interview, the president-elect says he is open to lifting sanctions against Russia. Trump telling "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."
This goes against most Republicans in Congress, who either agree with the current sanctions against Moscow, or want to pass even more. This as house Democrats are blasting FBI director James Comey, after having a classified meeting with him over Russian hacking. Some saying that what happened behind closed doors in that meeting is making them question whether Comey is fit for office. But do those same Democrats really want Donald Trump to pick the next head of the FBI? We will have more on that ahead in just a moment.
But we begin with the president-elect firing back at civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, for saying he does not see Trump as a legitimate president. Lewis was an icon of the civil rights movement, marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1965, he was almost beaten to death while fighting for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.
His comments calling Trump illegitimate were made during an interview with NBC News. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS: Do you plan on trying to forge a relationship with Donald Trump?
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: No, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It's going to be very hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.
TODD: You do not consider him a legitimate president. Why is that?
LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Here is how the president-elect responded on twitter.
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 talk, talk, talk, no action or results. Sad.
A lot to debate here with our panel. Alice Stewart is with me, our Republican strategist and former spokeswoman for Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager for her presidential bid in 2008. Wajahat Ali is with us. He is a Muslim-American playwright, also contributor to "The New York Times." Jeffrey Lord is here, a former White House political director for President Reagan. And also Symone Sanders, former spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.
Nice to have you all. And Symone, let me begin with you. What we have learned is that at least ten Democratic lawmakers are now following John Lewis' lead. He said later in that interview that he will not be attending the inauguration. What is your reaction to all of this? And what do you see -- would you like to see Representative John Lewis doing more to bring the country together after all of us witnessed the damage of partisan in-fighting?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, there was real damage there, Poppy, which is why I call and have been calling on the president-elect to do his part in that, attacking civil rights icons and/or the intelligence community via twitter. And the media actually for that matter, attacking CNN during the press conference. These are not actions that are indicative of someone that is interested to bringing the country together. I'm happy that these lawmakers have decided not to attend the elect. I wish more Democrats would stand up and say they are not going because this an important part of the quote-unquote "resistance."
HARLOW: Symone, why? How does that help the American people at home?
SANDERS: I think it sends a message to constituents, to Democrats across the country that this is not business as usual. Look, what happened in this election, Poppy, was unprecedented. And Donald Trump built his campaign on baseless lies insulting everyone from the disabled community to women, to people of color and he is waging war on our intelligence community right now attacking John Lewis on the eve of the MLK day holiday?
I don't think anyone should be cosigning in my opinion, that's what's happening, when folks who voluntarily. If you don't have to go to the election, you are voluntarily being -- you don't have to go to inauguration, you are voluntarily going in the ticket.
So in my opinion, folks who voluntarily attend, are in some essence, cosigning what is happening. Now Nancy Pelosi, she has to be there. Her name is on the committee that is putting together the inauguration. But other folks, they don't have to.
[16:05:16] HARLOW: But Symone, Hillary Clinton is going to be there.
SANDERS: Well, you know what, for president - so this is what I want to remind folks. Hillary Clinton and the Clintons and the Trumps, they were friends prior to this election. Their kids have a history. They have a history. Again, I would -- if I was Hillary Clinton, which I'm not, I wouldn't be attending the election. But she has to make her own decision. And Hillary Clinton is sending a message that if you ask some Democrats across the country, some people are like, OK, she is doing what she has to do. Other folks aren't happy about it.
HARLOW: Jeffrey Lord, I want you jump in here as a big Trump supporter all the way through. Do you agree with how he responded to Lewis' criticism? Look, Lewis said that he is not legitimate. There's a lot to debate there indeed. As someone who supported Trump for so long, do you believe that he should have said -- no action, just talk from a man who literally risked his life fighting for equality in the civil rights movement?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is no action business was directed at what's going on currently in his congressional district. And certainly it seemed to me it was not in any way a reference to what went on in 1965 when John Lewis was indeed an American hero. And as I say, it's kind of sad.
And also, this sort of remains of the element of the birther deal, I always believe president Obama was born in Hawaii. But birtherism itself is hardly racist. It's been around for over 100 years, used against five or six white guy candidates who happened all to be president, from the 1880s on to be president or presidential candidates and Republicans.
HARLOW: Jeffrey Lord, there's a lot of people that did not see it that way at all. And Donald Trump delegitimized the first African- American president. That is neither here nor there in this current debate. My question to you is, that response is that the response you want to see from someone becoming the president in six days?
LORD: Look, John Lewis is a member of Congress. Being a member of Congress, no matter who you are, is a tough job. I have worked on Capitol Hill, these people really put their heart and soul into it. So you are going to, you're going to, I mean after all, John Lewis himself started this. He is the one who threw the first elbow, if you will. So he got an elbow thrown back. I mean, that's the way it works on Capitol Hill.
HARLOW: Wajahat, what do you have to say to them?
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, there's so much spin here. I can see the smoke all the way from up here. I mean, this is -- first of all, birtherism is racist. The way it was used by Donald Trump and Republicans to delegitimize President Obama was racist. The fact this they deliberately used the religious identity of 1.7 billion people, Muslim, to take President Obama for eight years was racist.
Also, this elbow for an elbow, President-elect Donald Trump, you are the commander-in-chief. You are the president. Act presidential. Do not take to twitter to air out your grievances, if someone complains against you. For example, John Lewis, a civil rights hero, on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Donald J. Trump probably had no idea it was MLK holiday. But took 17 minutes over twitter to go against John Lewis, because he is so thin-skinned. He goes against Alicia Machado, his own intelligence community. He goes against CNN with this fake news. But you know, what is fake news? That President Obama was a Muslim and was not born in this country.
So honestly, for all Americans here, both Republicans and Democrats, we should take a second to step back and ask the president to at least act presidential. I saw "Home Alone 2" he can act. Be presidential. Don't throw allies under the bus. Don't throw icons under the bus. Don't throw gold star parents like (INAUDIBLE) under the bus. Instead of tweeting, tweet less, act more. Release your taxes. Investigate Russia's hacking. Take presidential briefings. Act presidential.
HARLOW: He is, as he said this week on twitter, he is investigating. Going to have his own report on Russia's hacking. But Patti to you --
ALI: Probably from WikiLeaks.
HARLOW: You could you see the raw emotion in John Lewis' answer, right?
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
HARLOW: My question to you is to what end? Do you agree with Symone Sanders that he should be lauded for not attending the inauguration and for saying this? Or do you believe that it sets the country back?
DOYLE: You know, I just want to read what John Lewis once said. And he said if you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it. And I think John Lewis felt a moral obligation to speak out against Donald Trump and the election process, this past election cycle. He clearly felt that it was not fair.
Now, I am not in favor of him delegitimizing the president, because he will be the president of the United States on Friday. He will be sworn in as our next president. But I do think that the onus is on Donald Trump. He did win. He needs to reach out to all of these people that he has antagonized, that he has demeaned, that he has den denigrated. He needs to be the one to start the healing process. And if I were Donald Trump, I would invite Representative John Lewis over for a chat.
[16:10:20] SANDERS: John Lewis might not go. HARLOW: Alice, to Patti's point. If you were in-charge of Donald
Trump's twitter handle, what would you have written in response?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It would have been certainly something a lot more toned down. And I think it would have directed more the attention at specifically what Congressman Lewis was talking about. Questioning legitimacy of the election, of which there is no question whatsoever with the results of the election. Donald Trump won. He won Electoral College and it's fair and simple.
Also to the other point that congressman was making was Russia had something to do with the destruction of Hillary's campaign, when it's her own campaign not having a message, not campaigning in battleground states and spiking the football in the third quarter as to why she lost.
Look, I agree 100 percent with the rest of the people on this panel. John Lewis is a civil rights hero. He is an icon. I was born and raised in the fourth district, right beside his district. I have followed his career for his entire lifetime. But I do think that the only way we can bring about change is to bring everyone to the table. And I think him boycotting and not coming to the inauguration, is setting the wrong tone. It's clearly his prerogative to do exactly how he wants. But we also have to take a page from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton what they said after the election was declared, we have to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. We have to come with an open heart and open mind. That he will do what he promises to do is bring about change and bring this nation together. It is very divided after eight years in the Obama administration. But he is vowing to bring this nation together.
I think it's incumbent on everyone, John Lewis and all the people who don't support Donald Trump to give him the opportunity, bring people together. And the only way to do that is to have people here at the table, and allow them to do so.
HARLOW: And Alice, some are pointing, as you know, to a bit of irony, when he is writing an inaugural address, which his team says is about unity to then tweet something like this at John Lewis.
There is a lot more to debate. I have to leave it there. Thank you all. You will be back. We appreciate it.
Also, I want to get to this, just in to CNN. Three Cleveland police officers face internal disciplinary charges in connection with the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. This is after a year-long investigation. Here is Cleveland's police Calvin Williams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CALVIN WILLIAMS, CLEVELAND POLICE: 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 hearing for possible violations of our orders, our rules, our regulations and our tactics and training and procedures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Tamir Rice was shot to death back in November of 2014 outside of a recreational center. This after someone called 911, reported there was someone with a gun. They said it was potentially a fake gun. That was the call. He was indeed carrying a pellet gun. A grand jury in 2015 chose not to criminally indict the officers. And a federal wrongful death case filed by Rice's family against the city was settled last year.
Straight ahead for us, so much for a warm welcome from world leaders, with less than a week to go, president-elect Trump, the target of some pretty harsh words from China, Mexico, and Canada, all in the last 24 hours. What they said, next.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:16:27] HARLOW: Less than a week before Donald Trump's inauguration, there is some growing signs of discord between at least two current U.S. allies and the incoming administration. In the last 24 hours, two warnings, one from Mexico, over Trump's promise of hefty tariffs on goods made there and then imported here.
The second today, from Chinese state-owned media which proclaimed that the possibility of war with the United States following statements made by Trump's nominee of, for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, condemning what China has done with the island-building in the South China Sea. Rex Tillerson suggested a tougher stance there for the United States. That of course not exactly welcome by the Chinese.
Then this week, here is what Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADA'S PRIME MINISTER: Canada is a separate country from the United States. And there are things that we hold dear that the Americans haven't prioritized. And I'm never going to shy away from standing up for what I believe in, whether it's proclaiming loudly to the world that I am a feminist, whether it's understanding that immigration is a source of strength for us. And Muslim-Canadians are an essential part of the success of our country today and into the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Let's talk about this all with CNN political commentator, Jeffrey Lord of course, who is White House political director under President Reagan.
Let's begin with China and then take it to Mexico and go to Canada. So when it comes to China, China's really not happy about what Tillerson said about the island-building in the South China Sea. But they're also not happy about this interview that the president-elect gave "the Wall Street Journal," where he said everything is under negotiation, including one China. China responding a few hours ago saying there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory, no one can change this.
Any concern that you have got, you know, in 24 hours, the president- elect butting heads with Canada, Mexico and China?
LORD: Well, I think the president-elect is going to bring change to the international order to some degree, as he is going to bring change to America whether it's China, Mexico or Canada. I'm somewhat amused in listening to the prime minister of Canada, who sent off this very sorrowful message on the death of Fidel Castro, who was a tyrant. I find that a little bit amusing.
What we are seeing here particularly in terms of Mexico is the art of the deal, is negotiation. He is going to build that wall and he is determined to have Mexico pay for it. So now you are going to start to see the back and forth as we go through this. But there's no question in my mind he is going to proceed with this. Mexico is going to resist and we will see what happens. But this is definitely negotiation and there will be leverage and all of that kind of thing.
HARLOW: To that point, just point of fact, Mexico says we are not paying for it. But we will see what happens. The art of the deal indeed. But here is what Mexico's economic minister said today, directly in response, Jeffrey, to the threat of the 35 percent tariffs and this border tax, a major border tax as Trump calls it. He said it is very clear we'll have to be prepared to immediately be able to neutralize the impact of a measure of that nature. He also said look, if Trump does this, there is going to be a global recession.
You know, you got to get along with neighbors that are important trading partners. And you know there's a lot of benefit to American companies and American workers, as well some who are indeed hurt by NAFTA. There's also a benefit to part of the free trade, right? Donald Trump says he wants to make it more fair. Are you not concerned at all about this reaction?
[16:20:09] LORD: You know, I'm not concerned. You know, look, the government of Mexico - I mean, why do we need, why is the whole issue of the wall out there in the first place? It's because the Mexican government itself did not control the flow of its own people across the border.
HARLOW: You know, I'm specifically talking about the response to the tariffs.
LORD: Yes. Well I mean it's all, it's all part and parcel of the same thing. The response on the tariff is part of a negotiation here and on what is going to be an ongoing and probably doubtless public negotiation, but a negotiation it is. So, I mean, this is their next move as you will. And the new president will respond accordingly as he sees fit once he takes office.
HARLOW: What about --
LORD: There is nothing unusual about that. HARLOW: What about to Justin Trudeau? Obviously Canada is an
important ally of the United States and a really big trading partner to the United States.
LORD: Sure, sure. Well I don't think we are thinking of building a wall on the northern border. But you know, I am sure that he will meet with Prime Minister Trudeau, as he has already met with the president of Mexico and had a very, a very good meeting. So, I'm sure he will do this.
Look. The Donald Trump that I know and that so many people know, is quite a serious man. Quite a smart guy. I mean, he has been totally underestimated here by his enemies to their sorrow. So I have no doubt that he will have good relations with both Mexico and Canada. But there are going to be some tough negotiations ahead without doubt.
HARLOW: I got 30 seconds. What's the strategy here, do you think then?
LORD: Sure, the strategy is to redo some of the American relationships around the world. To do something about the illegal immigration problem. To do something about trade issues. I mean, this is specifically why he carried a state like Pennsylvania, where I am now or Ohio or Michigan, to do something about these things. And this is all part of the strategy without doubt.
HARLOW: Thank you, Jeffrey Lord. Nice to have you on the program.
LORD: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: Coming up, president-elect Trump revealing that he may be open to lifting sanctions on Russia. We are going to get live reaction from Moscow, next.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:25:04] HARLOW: Six days until president-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office. He is already signaling that he is open to making some major foreign policy changes especially when it comes to Russia.
Here is what he told "the Wall Street Journal" in a brand-new interview. 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?"
It is important to note that most Republicans in Congress support the current sanctions against Russia. In fact, some like Lindsey Graham and Senator John McCain are calling for more stringent sanctions. So by lifting them, Trump would be going against a lot of his own party.
Joining me is Jill Doherty. She joins us live from Moscow. She is a global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson center and CNN's former Moscow bureau chief. Jill, the idea that Trump may lift the sanctions is something of
course that Putin would welcome and celebrate. What do you believe the Kremlin is thinking at this moment, having heard the latest from Donald Trump on this?
JILL DOHERTY, GLOBAL FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Well, Poppy, let's go back a couple of days, I mean this week, earlier this week, president-elect Trump was saying that he thought that Russia was actually the party that was behind the hacking. And now we are hearing that he is open to lifting sanctions.
So this is something that I think Russia is taking with a grain of salt or perhaps maybe more precisely, looking at it realistically knowing that president-elect Trump is raising these things that he raised during the campaign. He probably does want to you know, remove the sanctions. But it is very complicated to do that. You pointed out, members of his own party are opposed to that. Members of his own cabinet might be.
And then also, in order to lift the sanctions, would you think that he would have to dispense with the issue of hacking. I mean did Russia do it or did it not? And there are two investigations at least, probably more like three, that are looking into that right now. President-elect Trump himself said that his own people were looking into it and come up with some type of answer within 90 days. So until that's resolved, I think it's very difficult to think that he would actually lift those sanctions.
HARLOW: I think what also complicates it, Jill, is the fact you have got the president-elect on frankly a different page on Russia than some of his key picks for major, major positions within his administration. Listen to some of what they said just this week in these confirmation hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that's called an asset, not a liability.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I'm all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to, and deep issue -- there's a numb of areas where we could engage cooperatively and an increasing number of areas wither we're going to have to confront Russia.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: We will also be clear about our relationship with Russia. Russia today pose as danger. But it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests.
REP. MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: It's pretty 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: And this all comes, Jill, in the context of course, of 4,000 U.S. troops this week rolling in, into Poland, something that they were clear about was tied to Russia's incursion in Ukraine and threats against countries to its neighbors in general. There's a lot surrounding this. DOHERTY: There is. And you know, this evening I was watching a talk
show on Russian TV and it's a very good one. And I think what they are doing now is they are drilling down a little bit more into this very general statements by, by Mr. Trump. And what they are saying, this one expert was saying, you know, the team that Trump has, they are pretty much, as he put it, nationalists for the United States. In other words, they are looking out for American interests and they, I think it's a clearer, more sober approach to what Donald Trump is really all about.
President Putin is really a realist. And he is not going to take friendly words at face value. He likes to hear them, but he's not counting on them.
HARLOW: Jill Dougherty, live for us in Moscow. Thank you.
As we just mentioned, 4,000 additional U.S. troops are stationed in Poland. This happened this week and it is in opposition to these protests from Russia. The deployment by NATO marks the largest American military reinforcement in Europe in decades, actually since the cold war. This comes as the Obama administration tries to reassure NATO allies who are concerned to say the least, about Russian aggression.
Our senior international correspondent Atika Shubert was there as Poland welcomed those troops.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the official opening ceremony for those U.S. troops. Poland's prime minister Beata Szydlo is here and she made a point in her speech to say that this is an integral part of Poland's national security. That every Polish citizen has a right to feel safe and secure and that is exactly the role of these troops arriving here.
Now what we're talking about is an impressive roll out. About four battalions of about 1,000 soldiers each. We're also talking about a lot of military hardware, 2,000 pieces of military hardware were brought in from Germany over the last few days. Tanks, armored vehicles. All of this coming from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, part of the 4th Infantry Division normally based out of Fort Carson, Colorado.
Now they will be here on a nine-month rotation. It's not just in Zagan, be in various places around Poland, but also in other eastern European countries, all the NATO allies, and this is exactly what it's about. It's about bolstering the collective defense of this region against Russian aggression. This is exactly what Poland, what Estonia, what so many countries have been asking for especially after seeing Russia's aggression in Ukraine. The annexation of Crimea. So what's interesting here as well is the timing of this, of course.
That this is happening at the tail end of the Obama administration just before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. As we know, the president-elect has said he wants to improve relations with Russia so it's not clear what direction he will take with NATO once he is sworn into office.
What we do know is what Russia thinks about this. They've already said they consider this military buildup a threat close to their borders. It will be interesting to see how Donald -- President-elect Donald Trump feels with this next.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Zagan, Poland.
HARLOW: Atika, thank you very much. Straight ahead for us, a fight breaks out between Democrats and FBI director James Comey during a confidential briefing. We have details from inside. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:35:25] HARLOW: There's a showdown erupting between House Democrats and FBI director James Comey. The contentious back and forth taking place during a confidential briefing about Russia's interference with the election. CNN is learning Democrats left that meeting furious yesterday. After congresswoman and former head of the DNC Debbie Wasserman Schultz confronted Comey about the hacking that ultimately forced her to resign as chair of the DNC.
Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown reports.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): FBI Director James Comey is facing renewed scrutiny on both sides of the aisle. House Democrats left a confidential briefing with Comey on Russia hacking fuming.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: It's classified and we can't tell you anything. All I can tell you is the FBI director has no credibility.
BROWN: The Republican-leaning "Wall Street Journal" editorial board says, quote, "The best service Mr. Comey could render his country now is to resign," calling him too political for a position that's supposed to be apolitical. This while the Department of Justice Inspector General investigates Comey's actions before the election. His decision to hold an unprecedented press conference last July closing the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails and then breaking with DOJ policy by sending a letter just before the election alerting Congress he was renewing a probe into her private server.
Democrats mad about his decision not to sign onto an October letter from the Intelligence Community saying Russia was behind the election hacks and refusal to speak publicly about ongoing investigations and to people formerly connected to the Trump campaign and Russia.
SEN. ANGUS KING (D), MAINE: You didn't say one way or another whether even there's an investigation underway.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Correct. I don't -- especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation. I'm not saying --
KING: The irony of your making that statement here I cannot avoid but I'll move on.
BROWN: Other Democrats who recently had a briefing with Comey, a registered Republican appointed by President Obama, are coming to his defense.
SEN. TOM CARPER (D), DELAWARE: Jim Comey is an honorable person who I think made a bad decision.
BROWN: Comey is at the center of another political firestorm for briefing the president-elect on unsubstantiated allegations against him last week. CNN has learned Comey had a one-on-one conversation with Trump after the intel meeting to brief him on the allegations. In a November interview with "60 Minutes," Trump left Comey's future hanging in the balance.
LESLEY STAHL, CBS' "60 MINUTES": FBI Director James Comey, are you going to ask for his resignation?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think that I would rather not comment on that yet. I don't -- I haven't made up my mind.
BROWN (on camera): Well, as of now, Director Comey is only three and a half years into the 10-year FBI director tenure. And people familiar with the matter say he has no regrets about the decisions he has made surrounding the recent investigations and has no plans to step down. He also released a statement saying he's grateful for the inspector general investigation and hopes the results will be shared with the public.
Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
HARLOW: Pamela, thank you so much.
Coming up, after a week of confirmation hearings on the hill, some nominees broke with President-elect Trump on some pretty key policy positions. How is Trump responding? That's next.
[16:41:50] HARLOW: Several of Donald Trump's top Cabinet picks have different views from the president-elect on everything from Russia to NATO to the wall on the southern border that he's promised to build. But Trump tweeted this Friday, "All of my Cabinet nominees are looking good and doing a great job. I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine."
Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny digs deeper into these differences and what they mean.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (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: 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), CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: It's pretty 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. And 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 Trump 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.
MATTIS: Having served once as NATO a supreme allied commander is the most successful military alliance probably in modern world history, maybe ever. ZELENY: 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.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), 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: And 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 the 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 really a layered defense.
[16:45:01] HARLOW: It has been quite a week. President-elect Trump held his first press conference in nearly six months. You probably saw it. It was carried on all of the networks. Many reporters got to ask their questions. CNN did not. Here's what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can you give us a chance?
TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.
ACOSTA: You're attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir.
TRUMP: Let's go. Go ahead.
ACOSTA: Sir, can you state --
TRUMP: Quiet. Quiet.
ACOSTA: Mr. President --
TRUMP: Go ahead.
ACOSTA: Can you state categorically --
TRUMP: Go ahead. She's asking a question. Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: You're attacking us. Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be -- no, I'm not going to give you a--
ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: I'm not going to give you a question.
ACOSTA: Can you state categorically --
TRUMP: You are fake news. Go ahead.
ACOSTA: Sir, categorically that nobody -- no, Mr. President, that's not appropriate.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: And that's not all, there were more tweets from the president-elect bashing the media this week and an inaccurate conflation of Buzzfeed's actions with the legitimate reporting by CNN.
To dissect the week that was, CNN senior media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter is with me.
Nice to have you on. Where do we begin? I'm sure you have quite a show lined up for tomorrow?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: For sure.
HARLOW: Given all of this.
STELTER: This is really about the fundamental question of what's reliable.
STELTER: What are the reliable sources these days. CNN did one thing, Buzzfeed did a very different thing by dumping this entire memo online letting people, they say, see for themselves, what these allegations were.
STELTER: Unverified and some of them were already clearly false, some of them very hard or impossible to prove. Buzzfeed's choice was very controversial and Donald Trump took advantage of it. Trump and his aides took advantage of it by conflating CNN's reporting with Buzzfeed's work.
HARLOW: Were you struck by the fact that the reporter that was eventually called on after Jim Acosta did not sort of band together -- you know, I wonder if this is the time for reporters to band together and say, I'll get to my question in a moment, but first, Jim, what was your question?
STELTER: Yes. This is exactly the conversation being had in newsrooms and also all over my inbox and Twitter feed. I'm seeing a lot of people, a lot of our viewers saying, you all need to work together, you all need to band together, and have unity in this moment in order to get answers from the president-elect.
I think the counterargument there is that journalists are inherently competitive and there were a lot of questions to ask the president- elect. A lot of journalists had a lot of other topics to bring up as well.
HARLOW: And it's their first press conference in six months.
STELTER: That's right. But you know, there was this annual town hall, the White House Correspondents Association.
STELTER: They have it every year in Washington. Usually a few dozen journalists show up. This year it was on Thursday. This year, 100 journalists, and that goes to show both the anxiety, the concern about what Trump's treatment of the press is going to be like. And also, around these questions of unity, what is the appropriate response. Because there's competitiveness, but there's also a shared set of values, common ground for journalists.
HARLOW: I also think that -- well, and everything is unique, given some of the attacks we had on the First Amendment during the campaign.
HARLOW: Remember when he was a candidate, he talked about making -- you know, changing libel laws, making it, you know, a lot tougher for us to do our jobs. What I found fascinating was at the beginning of the press conference, he came out and lauded some media organizations. Just listen to this.
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TRUMP: I want to thank a lot of the news organizations for some of whom have not treated me very well over the years. A couple in particular, and they came out so strongly against that fake news and the fact that it was written about by primarily one group and one television station.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: He went on to -- and then Kellyanne Conway doubled down with Anderson on sort of praising NBC. He praised at one point, you know, "The New York Times" for some stuff. Do you see it as trying to pit certain media organizations against one another?
STELTER: Yes. Divide and conquer strategy, maybe. But I think folks, whether they're at NBC, the "New York times" or the "Washington Post," any of those big news outlets we all hear about and read and see, it could be any of those outlets on any given day. The target of Trump's ire does change from day to day and week to week. He has called "The New York Times" failing, for example. He's attacked other news outlets as well.
So right now his target is CNN, also Buzzfeed for other reasons. Right now he's calling CNN fake news, which is untrue, but it very well could and will be other news outlets in the future, which goes back to your point about unity. About whether there's going to be some sort of common values that all journalists stand up for, I think that's happening. In fact at the press conference, Jim Acosta's question was later asked by ABC's Cecilia Vega. So there was follow- up from other journalists.
HARLOW: It's a very important point. I should note that the Obama administration has not had a stellar track record when it comes to journalists and access either.
STELTER: There were several leak investigations that caught journalists up. There were other issues with regard to access, the bypassing the press that created consternation among the White House press corps, that could have been amateur hour compared to what Donald Trump's administration could do if it chooses.
The reality is we just don't know what the relationship between the press and the president is going to be. There's a lot of bad clues, bad signs from the campaign. But we don't know for sure and I think journalists are wise not to try to prejudge what could happen in six days.
[16:50:09] At the same time, the White House correspondents who were having a meeting on Thursday, the watch word was vigilance. To be vigilant about what could happen and to try to preserve and maintain the access. We're not working for ourselves, we're working for the viewers.
HARLOW: What's coming up on the show tomorrow?
STELTER: We'll have the editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed on, talking about this controversy.
HARLOW: Wow. Great interview. We'll be watching. Thank you, Brian.
HARLOW: Appreciate it as always. Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" see it here tomorrow morning.
Coming up, a somber farewell to a dedicated police officer shot and killed in the line of duty. Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton. Hear how she went beyond the call of duty in service to her community. We'll have that next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: We want to tell you about a police officer and a mother who is being remembered today in the community that she served. Sergeant Debra Clayton was buried earlier today in Orlando, Florida. She died this week in the line of duty, shot by a murder suspect that she was trying to arrest.
People who knew Debra Clayton call her a dedicated, inspirational officer and no one is surprised that she went beyond the call.
Here's our Nick Valencia.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first thing people usually noticed about Master Sergeant Debra Clayton was her smile.
JACK WILLIAMS, FRIEND OF DEBRA CLAYTON: I mean, she was beautiful.
VALENCIA: Put against the frame of her freshly pressed police uniform, it was disarming.
WILLIAMS: This is a picture of little Johnny, her son.
VALENCIA: Jack Williams was one of her closest friends. For the last four years, he and Clayton worked together on a program to stop violence in Orlando. They weren't technically family, but she had a way of making him feel that way. Clayton called him Uncle Jack. It still hasn't fully hit him yet that she's gone.
WILLIAMS: Realistically, I have to accept that fact. That she's gone. That she won't be pulling up to my house again. Calling me Uncle Jack. She was a police officer.
[16:55:03] But she was a community activist. She believed in helping the people. And her hand was always out to help you.
MASTER SGT. DEBRA CLAYTON, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The police is here to help you. We're not here to hurt you, we're here to help you.
VALENCIA: Here she is last summer, doing what she did so often -- engaging the community. Bridging the gap, as she would say, between police and the public. Speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony for his fallen colleague, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said there was no officer more committed to uniting Orlando?
CHIEF JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: A great, great police officer, a great leader in our agency, really led by example with the things that she did in the community.
VALENCIA: Sergeant Clayton cared deeply about Orlando. But especially about its youth. Perhaps because the newlywed has a son of her own. At the candlelight vigil to celebrate her life, he spoke just a few feet from where his mom's life was ended.
JOHNNY BENSON, DEBRA CLAYTON'S SON: She lived for and she died for it. She's the prime example. Everything she worked for, she died for.
VALENCIA: Clayton died on a Monday morning, outside this Wal-Mart. Shot and killed by a murder suspect fugitive. A man who robbed Orlando of a woman her friends called super cop.
WILLIAMS: Just thinking about her. I'm going to miss her. I'm going to miss her.
VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Orlando, Florida.
HARLOW: Nick, thank you so much for that.
Coming up for us at the top of the hour, the list is growing. We know at least 16 Democrats will now skip Donald Trump's inauguration. In the wake of tweets aimed at congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, more have been added to that list. We will tell you who will not be there. You will hear from one of those congresswomen live in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.
HARLOW: Top of the hour, you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We begin tonight with a single sentence pitting the president-elect against a civil rights icon who once marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of a growing list of Democrats who will skip Trump's inauguration next week --
Atika Shubert, Pamela Brown, Jeff Zeleny, Brian Stelter, Nick Valencia>