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Trump Rips Lewis For Questioning His Legitimacy; U.S. Troops Arrive in Poland to Deter Russia; At Least 16 House Dems Skipping Inauguration; Questions Remain on Trump Business Relations with Russia; Peaceful U.S. Transfers of Power Can be Downright Awkward; Teen Kidnapped at Birth Meets Birth Family. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 14, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[16:59:55] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We begin tonight with the single sentence pitting the President-elect against a civil rights icon who once marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of a growing list of Democrats who will skip Trump's inauguration next week, had this to say when he was asked if he would work with the next President.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I don't see this President-elect as a legitimate president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not consider him a legitimate president? Why is that?

LEWIS: I actually think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they have destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.


HARLOW: His key line, I don't see this President-elect as a legitimate president. Donald Trump responding today 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!"

Now Trump's remarks come a day after the Senate Intelligence Committee announced there will be a bipartisan investigation into any possible contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia. And the subpoenas will be issued if necessary.

Let's bring in our CNN political commentators to talk about all of it. Republican Ben Ferguson is host of "The Ben Ferguson" show. And Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist who served as press secretary for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Nice to have you both with me. A lot of news to get to.

Ben, I want to get your reaction to all of this. First, because here's the list. Let's pull it off. We've gotten this list of at least 16 Democrats who plan to skip Trump's inauguration. We know that some of them had been added on to this list today. After the back and forth between Representative Lewis and the President-elect. Among them Congresswoman Barbara Lee who had previously said that she would not attend. I'll speak to her live later this hour. Your thoughts, Ben, on the back and forth and ultimately what's resulting in fewer Democrats going on Friday to the inauguration.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's sad. I think the inauguration is a day when people are supposed to come together, reach across the aisle and even for a moment, put the country's business ahead of the personal politics. We've seen that throughout history with the smooth transition of power. Even after there have been very nasty campaigns. I also think it is unprecedented that a congressman with a stature was able to come out and say, I don't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate president. I cannot imagine the, the fallout, the backfire that you would have if a Republican would have ever implied that about Barack Obama or Bill Clinton or JFK or anyone else for that matter.

HARLOW: Ben, Ben, Ben, that's exactly what many Republicans did, including the President-elect for years. Questioning the legitimacy of the first Black president. Which by the way, many saw as racist?

FERGUSON: When did you have John McCain or any other major congressman come out and say in an interview days before the inauguration, that they do not see Barack Obama as a legitimate president.

HARLOW: But Ben, is that splitting hairs? Is that splitting hairs?

FERGUSON: It didn't happen.

HARLOW: Ben, I'm asking the questions and the President-elect, the President-elect did that to the sitting President for years.

SYMONE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He said -- he was not only did that, said he was Muslim. Said he had proof, which we know this proof never manifested, because there was no proof here. I can understand why you know Ben and some of the other Trump supporters are, you know, just kind of bothered by John Lewis' comments. But being bothered doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong. And doesn't mean that he should be silenced. Look, I'm also bringing the country together. But there's a report in Politico just yesterday, that noted Democratic members of Congress are having issues getting pre-inaugural tickets to all the events. That Republican members freely were able to go pick up their tickets and Democratic members have not been able to.

HARLOW: We don't have that reporting verified. But staying on topic, Symone, do you agree with Representative John Lewis, do you believe that Donald Trump is a legitimate president?

SANDERS: Look, I know the cornerstone of our democracy, our free and fair elections and I think it is absolutely not crazy to say that the cornerstone of our democracy has been compromised.

HARLOW: But what's your direct answer to that?

SANDERS: There's none.

HARLOW: Do you think that he's a legitimate -- because Hillary Clinton thinks that and you know, and President Obama thinks that. And they're going to be at the inauguration.

SANDERS: Look, I think did Donald Trump get the necessary number, 270 to win the Electoral College and become president of the United States of America? Yes. What's his path to 270? Riddled with bumps, questions, and some questionable interference by a foreign entity? Yes.

[17:05:06] FERGUSON: This is the undermining of Donald Trump's legitimacy by Democrats. I do not understand the strategy. I don't understand John Lewis doing this. Actually I understand why the other Democrats are doing it now. It's called grandstanding and it's self- serving, it is sad. Because the inauguration should be a day where you put the country ahead of your personal interests and you put the country ahead of your spite or anger or frustration for another person. I would even say, look at President Barack Obama, who is showing up. Even George Bush, who is not a fan of Donald Trump is showing up. You show up.

HARLOW: So, what's interesting Ben is --

FERGUSON: You show up because it's bigger than your election --

HARLOW: All right. Ben, I want to talk about the response. Because I just read what the President-elect tweeted. He has not tweeted something as harsh for example against Vladimir Putin of Russia, right? He has taken a wait-and-see approach. A much more conciliatory tone. Is this the response you would have liked to see from the President-elect? Or should he have tried to deescalate, should he have tried to deescalate and said, you know what, Representative Lewis, I'm sorry you feel like that, let's sit down and talk this week.

FERGUSON: I don't think that you sit there and you placate to an individual who comes out as a Democrat leader in Congress and says that you're not the legitimate president. It is --

HARLOW: Why not, Ben? Why not? How does it help America not to -- frankly, how do either of their comments help America? No. I'm asking you, how do either of their comments help America right now? Is this not further dividing this country, to the detriment of citizens across the nation?

FERGUSON: Poppy, it's amazing how much people want to hold Donald Trump accountable for something --

SANDERS: He's the President-elect of the United States. Yes, we're going to hold him accountable, for goodness sakes, Ben. You can concede the point.

FERGUSON: It's unbelievable that we put all of the onus on Donald Trump. But we do not hold accountable a congressman who says that the President-elect is not a legitimate president.

HARLOW: No one is putting all the onus on Donald Trump. I'm asking you as a Trump supporter, do you like the `response? I'm asking Symone, is it, is it correct for him to question the legitimacy of the presidency?

FERGUSON: I think Donald Trump should have the right to be able to defend himself when he was elected in a free and fair election. And when someone comes after you, and undermines you in this way, you have the right to stand up for yourself and fight back. I have no problem --

SANDERS: So, here's my question. I guess Poppy, so I understand what you're saying, I think Poppy has been very fair and the rest of the media has been very fair in this saying, one should, Congressman Lewis be questioning Donald Trump. But two, is Donald Trump's reaction fair? I think the media has been very fair in this questioning. My thing is this, Donald Trump says he wants to be the president of all people.

He wants to bring folks together, yada, yada, but his reaction time and time again when he hears something he doesn't like, whether it's around Congressman John Lewis, Meryl Streep or reporting here on CNN -- is to attack. So how is that bringing people together? Look, Donald Trump has to raise the bar. He's the President-elect of the United States.


FERGUSON: I say this way. It's very clear when you have an individual like John Lewis who has no intention of bridging the gap --

SANDERS: You don't know what kind of intentions Donald Trump has, Ben, that's not fair.

FERGUSON: An inauguration has nothing to do with a bill that's being passed or bill that's being voted on. When you don't show up for that, you're basically saying for the next two years, I have nothing to do with you and I will do everything I can to destroy you and your agenda. That's the reason why you have a right to --

SANDERS: That sounds like a page out of Mitch McConnell's book.

HARLOW: It sounds like what Mitch McConnell said in 2009, Ben. I mean, to both of you guys, it just goes both ways and ultimately it's the American people that pay the price when this country doesn't work together.

Ben Ferguson, Symone Sanders, thank you very much.

Coming up, President Obama sends thousands of U.S. troops to Russia's doorstep. Message you think? To Putin? I'll ask the former U.S. ambassador to NATO.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:11:38] HARLOW: An official welcoming ceremony was held today for nearly 4,000 U.S. troops who just arrived in Poland. Part of NATO's response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and incursion in the Ukraine. The Kremlin calling these developments a threat to Russia's interests, these deployments I should say a threat to Russia's interests and security. But the Obama administration for its part is clearly sending a message and this is a move to try to reassure NATO allies.

Joining me now is Nicholas Burns, a former ambassador to NATO and a former undersecretary at the State Department, he's served both Democrat and Republican presidents. Nice to have you on. Thank you, Ambassador.


HARLOW: Do you believe this build-up of U.S. troops just a week before the President-elect is inaugurated, is meant to send a message that the U.S. is very committed to NATO's goal of deterring Russian aggression. Regardless of statements like this? Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think we have to reconsider, keep NATO, but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward the NATO itself.

What I'm saying is, NATO is obsolete. NATO is obsolete and it's extremely expensive to the United States. Disproportionately so.

The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense. And if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.


HARLOW: Is this a chess move? Obama says, all right, I'm going to do this. Now it's up to you, the optics of you pulling these troops back. Mr. President-elect Trump.

BURNS: Well it is a challenge to Donald Trump. Now this decision was taken last July at the NATO Summit by the heads of government. Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and others. And so, it's meant to contain Vladimir Putin and get his attention and convince him that he can't just think he can threaten our NATO allies, Poland, the Baltic States and get away with it. It's to be tough-minded. And I also think Poppy it is a message to Donald Trump and that is, you cannot have a week and I would say naive attitude towards the Russian leadership.

HARLOW: Uh-hm.

BURNS: Putin has divided Ukraine, his annexed Crimea. He's divided Georgia, he's pressuring Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what he's trying to do. He's trying to divide NATO. And so I hope very much what we heard from General Mattis and Rex Tillerson at their confirmation hearings this past week, they were tough on this issue.

HARLOW: They were.

BURNS: They said, we should contain Putin --


BURNS: And they said we should contain Putin and that General Mattis spoke up very strongly on behalf of NATO.

HARLOW: He called NATO the most --

BURNS: I hope he'll be able to --


HARLOW: Mattis called NATO the most successful military alliance probably in modern history. Maybe ever. In that context, the divide clearly between some of his key picks and the President-elect on that, here's what Donald Trump said about Russian sanctions against Russia to the Wall Street Journal on this new interview. He said, "If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody's doing some really great things."

What message do you think Ambassador that sends to the Kremlin if the incoming president is talking about lifting sanctions while the outgoing president and even, you know, a number of Republican lawmakers are debating furthermore stringent sanctions?

BURNS: Right. It's a sign of weakness that Donald Trump continues to denigrate NATO and threaten to lift the sanctions on Russia. The sanctions are there for a purpose. Russia invaded Ukraine illegally. And that's why the sanctions are there and they cannot be lifted until the Russian forces get out which is going to be a long time into the future. So if Donald Trump persists in this, he's going to be separated from his new Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. He's going to be separated from the NATO allies.

And he'll be separated from Republican senators, like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, who obviously want to do what every American president since Harry Truman has done, defend our allies, defend American interests. I think this is going to be the early test, Poppy, for Donald Trump and foreign policy. And if he persists in this very weak attitude towards Russia, he's going to lose the Republican Party. Not just the Democratic Party.

HARLOW: Perhaps one of the most striking, if not the most striking moment of the confirmation hearings this week I thought was this exchange between, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, about the issue of Russia. Listen.


SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: I assume to some degree that you've had some discussion about what it is that that world view is going to be. In order to understand whether you're willing to execute that on behalf of the person you're going to work for.

REX TILLERSON, EXXONMOBIL CEO: In a broad construct and in terms of the principles that are going to guide that, yes, sir.

MENENDEZ: And I would have thought that Russia would be at the very top of that, considering all the actions that have taken place, that did not happen?

TILLERSON: That has not occurred yet, Senator.

MENENDEZ: It's pretty amazing.


[17:16:28] HARLOW: So they did not, I mean, bottom-line, the two gentlemen did not talk about Russia yet. As someone who worked at the State Department, what's your reaction on hearing that from the man who could be the next secretary of state? Who the key concern from both Democrats and Republicans, are his ties, business ties to Russia.

BURNS: Well, I was surprised by that exchange as well, when I saw it I wouldn't blame Secretary Tillerson. Donald Trump is going to be the leader of this government. He should be having in-depth policy discussions with his new cabinet appointees. What are we going to do about Russia? How about the question of these sanctions. How do we provide for American interests and the fact that they haven't taken place and were just less than a week from the inauguration is troubling? Because he's going to be in charge, Donald trump as of noon next Friday. This is the biggest issue ahead of him in foreign policy. Russia is our strongest adversary in the world and the President-elect has a position which is dividing his own political party. So, I would hope that they would have those discussions.

HARLOW: What about those who say -- where were you, President Obama, being more critical of Russia, back when you were working on the Russian reset or when you practically laughed Mitt Romney off the stage in the 2012 presidential debates when he said that Russia was the greatest foe of the United States? Donald Trump's argument as you know is, why would a better relationship with Russia be such a bad thing? You say?

BURNS: Well, you know, those statements in 2012 were before the Russian annexation of Crimea. Before the invasion of Ukraine. Before the extraordinarily barbaric Russian bombing of civilians in Aleppo. All of that took place after 2014. So, you could debate in 2012 whether Russia was the greatest enemy -- adversary of the United States. There's no question they are our strongest and most dangerous adversary. And we have a President-elect who doesn't agree with that and he's out of step with the American people.

HARLOW: But he is saying --

BURNS: And certainly with our great experts around the country.

HARLOW: He is saying as a reset that works, Ambassador, really such a bad thing. BURNS: I don't believe a reset with Putin can work if when all we're

going to do is compromise away our values and give up our support for our NATO allies. That will be a reset that fails, fails American national interests if that's what Donald Trump is talking about. Nobody should support that.

HARLOW: Ambassador Nicholas Burns, nice to have you on. Thank you.

BURNS: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: Coming up, at least 16 House Democrats not showing up on Friday at President-elect Trump's inauguration. One of those who will not be attending is Representative Barbara Lee. She will join me next. What statement is she trying to make? Why did she make this decision? And how does she feel about the feud between her fellow Representative John Lewis, and the President-elect? Next.


[17:22:00] HARLOW: As it stands right now, 16 House Democrats say they will not attend the President-elect's inauguration on Friday. At least three say it's specifically because of Trump's counterpunch this morning against Congressman John Lewis, calling him all talk, no action. This of course is after Representative Lewis said that Trump is not a legitimate president.

Representative Barbara Lee of California is one of those who is boycotting the inauguration, she joins me on the phone now. Thank you for being with us.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA (on the phone): Glad to be with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Your decision to not attend the inauguration was made even before this fight that's broken out between Congressman Lewis and the President-elect. Why aren't you going?

LEE: Oh, yes. No, I made my decision of course I did not come to this decision lightly. But I made it several days ago. And while I respect the peaceful transfer of power and the office of the presidency, I can't celebrate on inauguration day. What has taken place in terms of this president's overall agenda, and the divisiveness and his bigoted approach to governance. For example, you know, I cannot celebrate attacking a Gold Star family. I cannot celebrate the denigration of women or wanting to build a wall with Mexico.

I can't celebrate the notion that we would, that he would try to deport dreamers. And I can't celebrate the fact that he's put a person who has not been on the side of equal justice under the law, such as Senator Sessions for our Attorney General. I can't celebrate having a Steve Bannon in the White House. A white nationalist. So there are many reasons why I can't celebrate on that day. And I just -- decided several days ago that it would be very hypocritical for me to be there celebrating this agenda that he has put forth. I mean, come on, they want to take away -- the President-elect wants

to take away health care for 20 to 30 million people. You know, I just can't celebrate that. While I intend to continue my work representing my district and working to create jobs and much better quality public education and all the issues we have to work on as members of Congress, you know, I can't celebrate on that day. So because --

HARLOW: So, Congresswoman --

LEE: -- of an approach which is really divisive that he has presented in terms of how he's going to govern.

HARLOW: Congresswoman -- Congresswoman -- let me jump in here.

LEE: He is worked as Dr. King has said to bend the arc toward justice and for a President-elect to call into question and to denigrate Congressman Lewis, that forces me to once again call into question the judgment of our President-elect. Which is really troubling because he will be the commander-in-chief.

HARLOW: Congresswoman -- Congresswoman Lee --

LEE: This way of reacting certainly not presidential in it. Really concerns me tremendously.

HARLOW: Congresswoman, a few things that I want to go through here. First of all, to the President-elect's response to Congressman John Lewis, that was a response to Lewis saying he is not a legitimate president. I know you're boycotting the inauguration for all the reasons you just listed. Do you agree with Congressman Lewis that President-elect is not a legitimate president?

LEE: On the floor of the House when Vice President Biden presided over the certification of the Electoral College. I was one of six who said that those votes should not be certified because of Russian interference in the election. We could not get a senator to join us in that opposition, but I think what's really important is to understand that the Russians did --

HARLOW: So, do you not think that, do you not think, Congresswoman, that the President-elect is a legitimate president? Do you agree with -- do you agree with, do you agree with Congressman Lewis?


LEE: And I applaud him for this moment. And what he said and we should take his concern seriously.

HARLOW: Do you agree that the President-elect --

LEE: And the results of the election.

HARLOW: Okay. Congresswoman, do you agree with --

LEE: The American people need to know -- HARLOW: Congresswoman, do you agree --

LEE: -- what happened.

HARLOW: Congresswoman do you agree with Congressman Lewis that the President-elect is not a legitimate president?

LEE: Look, when you look at the process, when you look at the flawed election, when you look at Russian interference, when you look at how this president was elected and what took place, you know, Congressman John Lewis has said it very clearly, and I believe that we should applaud what he said and really look at the underlying --

HARLOW: So, you agree with him? You agree with him? Is that right?

LEE: Whether or not -- the legitimacy of this president is or is not. And I agree with Congressman Lewis, I stand with John Lewis. I think the entire nation should really understand what he said because he came out so strongly with this. And once again, I wouldn't have challenged the Electoral College based on the you know, Russian interference, we know it's public now, we just need a full public investigation. But I never --

[17:27:18] HARLOW: Which Congresswoman you know is happening.


Congresswoman, you know that this bipartisan investigation is indeed happening. And this committee has, this panel has subpoena power. Final question to you, do you believe that all Democrats then should boycott the inauguration? And if so, to what end? How does that ultimately help the American people who have been harmed by the divisiveness of the last eight years?

LEE: No, Poppy, I think that everyone has to make their own decisions, based on their decision-making process. Some believe that they should attend, for their reasons and some believe they should not attend. Again, I intend to attend the state of the union. You know I'm going to continue to do my job as a member of Congress. But personally, myself, I can't celebrate, this new administration. Which does not mean I'm not going to work to help create opportunity, economic opportunities, criminal justice reform. Work on climate change issues. Work on public education.

All the issues that we've got to keep going and keep working on it right now, we're trying to just keep health care for millions of Americans. Twenty to 30 million Americans, that's what we're focused on right now. I'm going to work to try to do that. I will be part of planning for what type of resistance and movements that will take place. As a result of this election of the president-elect Trump. And we're going to --

HARLOW: Congresswoman, I have to leave it there.

LEE: Keep him accountable to be the President of everyone in our country. HARLOW: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, I appreciate you being with me.

Thank you.

LEE: Coming up, the business deal that once took President-elect Trump to Moscow. Plus a biographer on what he calls Trump's quote, "fascination with Vladimir Putin."


TRUMP: Donald Trump is a friend of Putin. Well, actually Putin did call me a genius and he said I'm the future of the Republican Party. So -- he's off to a good start.



[17:32:24] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This week, President-elect Donald Trump held his first news conference in nearly six months. The focus was how he planned to separate himself from his global business empire, by turning it over to his sons. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'm going to be doing, is my two sons -- who are right here -- Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me.

These papers are just some of the many documents I've signed turning over complete and total control to my sons.


HARLOW: We should note CNN was not allowed to look at the contents of those folders. And we still haven't ever got to look at Donald Trump's tax returns.

All of this comes amid intense scrutiny. Not only over Trump's business ties but, in particular, his past business relationships in Russia.

Our Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is not backing away from his apparent admiration for Vladimir Putin and his hopes for a good relationship with the Russian president.

TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.

TODD: But the president-elect is determined to avoid the appearance that he might have business conflicts in Russia. TRUMP: I have no deals. I have no loans. And I have no dealings. We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to. I just don't want to because I think that would be a conflict.

TODD: There's no way to verify Trump's claim because he hasn't released his tax returns.

CNN and other news outlets have looked into Trump's history with Russia and found he made no significant real estate deals there, but not for a lack of trying.

Trump's attempts to build hotels and other buildings in Russia go back at least 30 years.

MICHAEL KRANISH, AUTHOR: He tried several times to do deals in Moscow. He said we'll be in Moscow but he wasn't able do the real estate deals.

TODD: An attempt to build a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through before it got started.

What's gotten in the way of Trump's attempts to make some real estate deals in Russia and elsewhere?

KRANKISH: Donald Trump tries to make deals around the world and, often times, in recent years, it's been an effort to have someone else bear the risk and pay Donald Trump to put his name on a building.

TODD: But Trump has made money from Russia. He sold this mansion in Palm Beach to a Russian billionaire for $95 million.

And there was one deal in Moscow that did go through.

TRUMP: Russia is our partner in this endeavor.

TODD: In 2013, he made millions when he partnered with a Russian billionaire to hold the Miss Universe Pageant in the shadow of the Kremlin. At the time, Trump tweeted, "Do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow? If so, will he become my new best friend?"

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR: Trump did want to meet with Putin during the Miss Universe Pageant. The connection was never made but I think there was an exchange of gifts.

[17:35:11] TODD: Which one biographer says included a lacquered box from Putin.

Trump has since given conflicting accounts of whether he's ever really met Putin in person.

MICHAEL SAVAGE, TALK RADIO HOST (voice-over): Have you met Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP (voice-over): Yes.

SAVAGE: You have?

TRUMP: One time, yes, a long time ago.

TODD: A year later, a different story.

TRUMP (on camera): I never met Putin.

TODD: Either way, one Trump biographer says he has a deep fascination with Russia and its leaders.

D'ANTONIO: There's something in him that really admires strong men, tough guys, who seem to be able to get things done without much encumbrance.

TODD: As for the possibility any future Trump deals in Russia --

(on camera): Looking ahead, Donald Trump's lawyer promises that no new foreign deals will be made by Trump's company during his time in the White House. And any profits from foreign government payments to his hotels, like this one, will be donated to the U.S. Treasury.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HARLOW: Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Joining me, live from Moscow, is CNN contributor and former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty.

Jill, nice to have you on.

We just heard in Brian's piece how Trump seems to admire these political strongmen, not just Putin, Duterte and others. Do you get a sense that Putin feels the same way about Trump? Or does he view him as a bit of a political neophyte? Someone he can really pretty easily sway?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, President Putin when he was a KGP agent, his job was to evaluate people. And to recruit them. So, I think he's a pretty canny person who when he looks at another person, another leader, he tries to figure out what makes them tick, what they want, et cetera. So, I would have to think that President Putin being a very studious person, when it comes to that type of psychological approach, has probably studied Trump very carefully. And hence he's said some things that Donald Trump would like. Such as -- you know, you're intelligent, kind of misinterpreted. But later he did say that Donald Trump was a good businessman and must be smart. So, I think he's saying things that Trump wants to hear. But I don't think he's under any illusion that that's the type of relationship that's going to be guiding relations between Russia and the United States. It's not going to be personal.

HARLOW: Donald Trump in that press conference this week said for the first time that it was likely Russia behind the hack of the DNC. He also said, though, it would be a good thing if he and Putin were friends, if the U.S. and Russia got along.

This is one of the many compliments that Trump has issued towards the Russian leader. Here's a few.


TRUMP: We have Russia, which is a real threat. Not as big as the Soviet Union, but a real threat. Run by a smart cookie. Much smarter, much more cunning than our president, I will tell you that right now. Whether we like it or not.


HARLOW: What role does flattery play when it comes to Vladimir Putin?

DOUGHERTY: I think Vladimir Putin is using flattery to get to Donald Trump. It's pretty obvious that's what he's doing. But I don't think that President Putin necessarily believes everything that he is saying. I think he wants a relationship that will work for Russia. He wants a relationship with the United States and with Donald Trump that will in the end, work out for Russia. So, he is saying these things, I think to that purpose. Poppy, I was thinking, as Donald Trump has said a couple of things this week, that are kind of good cop/bad cop. On Wednesday I guess it was, he was saying I think that Russia is behind the hacking. Now he's saying maybe we would remove sanctions. So, he, too, is kind of going back and forth.


DOUGHERTY: I think both men are sizing each other up.

HARLOW: That's a good way to put it.

Jill, what would lifting those sanctions mean for the Russian people? There were -- the sanctions that President Obama just inflicted after the hacking. But then after the incursion into Ukraine, there were some harsh economic sanctions that hurt Main Street Russian people the most.

[17:39:45] DOUGHERTY: Yeah, to a certain extent. I mean the most recent sanctions, the ones about the hacking are really getting to people, top people in the Putin administration. And it's really a message to Vladimir Putin. That's not hurting average Russians. The ones that were, the sanctions for Ukraine, et cetera, did to a certain extent, have an effect on the Russian economy. But what has actually had a direct effect are the countersanctions that Vladimir Putin installed to get back at the west. And to help domestic industry. So, yes, in theory it would, Russia would want the sanctions to be lifted. Also because it would kind of you know, create problems between the United States and europe. And unity between United States and Europe. So, there's a lot of game playing and chess being played on this.

HARLOW: A little bit of chess. One move, then the next.

Jill Dougherty, thank you, live in Moscow tonight. Coming up, inaugurations and the sometimes-awkward history of that

very big day.

But first, remember this?


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear.

ROBERTS: That I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: That I will execute --

ORBERTS: Faithfully -- the office of the president of the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: The office of the president of the United States faithfully



HARLOW: Broadway Star Jennifer Holliday will not be performing at president-elect's inauguration after all. The "Dreamgirls" Tony Award-winner was slated to sing, but a statement from her publicist said she changed her mind after the inauguration committee preemptively announced her appearance before she decided to perform. The statement also cited an outcry from fans and people in the LGBT community. Holliday sent an open letter in which she apologized for what she called "uneducated on the issue that affects every American at this special time in history."

In just six days, President Obama will officially pass the baton to Donald Trump, the same man who once questioned the legitimacy of his presidency, and who the president, in turn, called unfit for the Oval Office.

And while the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of American democracy, history has shown us these hand-offs can be sometimes just downright awkward.

Joining me now is inaugural historian, Jim Bendat, the author of "Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our Presidents, 1789 to 2013."

Jim, nice to have you on.

[17:45:17] JIM BENDAT, INAUGURAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Thank you, Poppy for having me. Good to be here.

HARLOW: Good to have you. We know that neither John Quincy Adams or John Adams attended the inauguration of their successor. When it comes to two presidents who didn't like each other, one famous example is President Hoover. At the 1933 inauguration of FDR, Hoover wouldn't look at or even speak to Roosevelt on the car ride over to the swearing in. Walk us through that awkwardness.

BIDER: That's very true. We're looking at a picture right there. And in 1933, it was following an election that was not very close at all. And Hoover wasn't too happy about it. And on the ride to the capitol, Franklin D. Roosevelt at times looked over at Hoover and tried to start a conversation, other times he was smiling and waving to the crowd. But in every picture you see from that day, Hoover just looked straight ahead, totally ignoring FDR.

HARLOW: That's the essence of "a picture speaks 1,000 words," when no words are being spoken.

President Obama is following the longstanding tradition of inviting his successor over to the White House on the mornings of the inauguration. When you look back at the morning of, say, Ronald Reagan's inauguration in '81, the outgoing president, Jimmy Carter, had something very big on his mind. Of course, he knew that American hostages in Iran were sitting on that plane, waiting to take off.

BENDAT: Well, that was one day that the inauguration shared the headlines with the other big news of the day, which was the release of all those hostages from Iran. So, that was a big event and Reagan announced that at the luncheon following the swearing in.

HARLOW: Of course.

The Secret Service is preparing for the inauguration itself but also the protests that are set to follow it. There's been talk of a counter inaugural something that is not new. This happened when Nixon was sworn in. You had protesters throwing rocks, tomatoes. You had some smoke bombs. This is not a new thing, what we will likely see play out on Friday and Saturday.

BENDAT: We had big protests at Nixon's, in 1969 and 1973, because of the Vietnam War. There were also big protests at both of George W. Bush's inaugurations, 2001 and 2005. One, because of the war and the other because of the disputed election in 2000.

HARLOW: When it comes to the actual transfer of power from one president to the next, there is -- there's somewhat of a tradition now, President Obama will likely follow this tradition of leaving a note for his successor. You'll remember when Bush Senior released his note to the public recently, saw it because it came out during this campaign, from George Bush Senior for Bill Clinton, in which he wished him, quote, "great happiness" and told him, "Don't let the critics discourage you or push you off-course." What kind of advice do these notes generally have?

BENDAT: Well, they generally just wish the successor well, tell the successor it's going to be tough, but you can do it. Just a lot of encouragement, generally.

HARLOW: When it comes to the balls, when everyone gets all dolled up, we know that the president-elect has said he plans to attend three of the inaugural balls. How does that compare to other presidents after their inauguration?

BENDAT: Well, if that's the number, that's a pretty small number given what we've had in recent inaugurations. The all-time record is actually 14. Bill Clinton had 14 inaugural balls in 1997.

HARLOW: Why isn't there just one? To me, it seems like you would save money, and it's common sense. Why would there be 14?

BENDAT: That's a great question. There used to be only one back in the early days of the country. But the number has grown over the years. There were some presidents actually who didn't have any inaugural balls at all. The early part of the 20th century was an era of no inaugural balls. But now, it's a big deal. People like to dress up, even though it's crowded and the food won't be very good.

HARLOW: You do write about that in "The Washington Post," even plastic plates and silverware and some cold ham sandwiches.

BENDAT: That's right.

[17:50:48] HARLOW: Thank you, Jim. We appreciate it.

Coming up, the unbelievable end to a year's-long cold case, you have to hear this story. Newborn baby kidnapped from a hospital 18 years ago, has just met with her birth family. We'll hear from her father, next.


HARLOW: All right, this just in. A new development in a remarkable story we've been tracking. We're getting word from South Carolina that a teen-age girl who was kidnapped at birth from a Florida hospital has now just met with her birth family.

Let's bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval who is tracking the story for us.

Polo, when we last spoke a few hours ago, the families had not been reunited. They have since?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Poppy, shortly after we spoke, they met in South Carolina. This is the latest in what has been a series of developments. This young woman, born Kamiyah Mobley 18 years ago, and lived unknowingly under a different name in Walterboro, South Carolina, has now met her biological mother, and her father, Craig Aiken, who described for reporters what was a private but emotional reunion with the daughter that he had never seen, particularly after she was kidnapped that summer day in 1998.

I want you to hear directly from Mr. Aiken as he described the encounter.


CRAIG AIKEN, FATHER OF KAMIYAH MOBLEY: The first meeting was beautiful, it was wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What did she have to say to you?

AIKEN: She was glad to meet us.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you planning to bring her to our city?

AIKEN: That's going to be up to her. One step at a time.


SANDOVAL: Just yesterday, Mr. Aiken did speak with reporters just after this news brother that investigators were able to confirm this young woman that they encountered in South Carolina was, in fact, his missing daughter. He did say he was in prison when his daughter was born. Today was the very first time he saw or possibly held his daughter in his arms.

But that leads, Poppy, to another question: What will this young lady choose to do? She is 18 years old. She's an adult. She still considers this woman, Gloria Williams, who is currently behind bars, a mother, even though she is the mother who investigators say dressed as a nurse walked into the hospital that summer day in 1998 in Florida and kidnapped her.

These were some images that came from Walterboro, South Carolina, yesterday as Williams was booked and charged with kidnapping. There was a very powerful moment just after when this 18-year-old woman then went up to that cell and tried to essentially hold her hand. As you can imagine, a lot of raw emotions in this story. But still a lot of questions, Poppy. The sheriff there in Jacksonville yesterday said they have reason to believe this young lady possibly even suspected she was not who she believed she was leading up to this information that was released.

So again, still a lot of questions in this case but what we can report is that this young lady has now seen for herself who her real mother and father really are.

[17:55:52] HARLOW: What else do we know about her, just in terms of the life that she led for these 18 years in South Carolina?

SANDOVAL: My colleagues on the ground there in South Carolina had spoken to several of Williams' neighbors and described a normal childhood. They describe Williams as a, quote, normal mother. So, at this point, all indications are, by all accounts, it seems she did live a relatively normal childhood.

So, that does beg the question, what would allegedly possess this woman to go into that hospital and make her way out with somebody else's baby?

HARLOW: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. We'll bring you more on the story when we have it.

Coming up tonight, two CNN special reports. First, Fareed Zakaria talks with President Obama about his legacy. That's tonight, 8:00 p.m., only here on CNN. Followed by "History Made, The Legacy of the First Lady, Michelle Obama." That's at 10:00.

I'm Poppy Harlow. I'll see you back here in one hour, at 7:00 eastern.

But "Smerconish" begins right after this.


[18:00:01] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish, in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

T-minus six days to Donald Trump's move to the White House, but the honeymoon seems already to have ended. Congressman John Lewis says he will skip the inauguration --