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Performer Jennifer Holliday Drops Out Of Inauguration; 23 House Democrats Won't Attend Trump's Ceremony; Pence: No Contact Between Russia and Trump Campaign; Democrats Rally To Save Obamacare; Kidnapped Girl & Biological Parents Reunite. Aired 3-4p ET.

Aired January 15, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:04] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Although Holliday will not be there in Washington, D.C., during the inaugural festivities, Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, and Lee Greenwood are going to perform during Trump's inaugural festivities.

All right, the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

All right. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We can now count the number of days until Donald Trump will be president. On one hand, he will take the oath of office this Friday. Just five days away now.

But a growing number of Democrats in Congress will not be there. Five more Democratic House members are joining the boycott of the president-elect's inauguration. At least 23 lawmakers will be absent. Some are citing Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election, while others say it's a sign of solidarity with fellow Congressman John Lewis.

Trump ridiculed the civil rights icon for being "all talk" and "no action" after Lewis said he did not consider Trump's presidency legitimate. This as an inauguration preparations are moving full speed ahead, this morning, a dress rehearsal of the swearing-in ceremony using stand-ins for the President-elect Trump then his wife Melania, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

All right, we have a team of reporters covering all angles of this developing story. Let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux in Washington. Suzanne, has the president-elect said anything or even the team responded more about this growing list of members of Congress who will not be there?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have heard from the team. There've been some strong reactions coming from both the RNC head, soon-to-be chief of staff Reince Priebus, as well as the Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Some Republicans are clearly, they are trying to give Congressman Lewis his props regarding his stature in the Civil Rights Movement, but they are also coming to Trump's defense because they are vehemently opposed to any notion that Trump is not the legitimate winner of this controversial election, despite the role that Russia might have played in hacking.


GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Look, Donald Trump won this election fair and square, 30 out of 50 states, including Georgia. More counties than any Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan. And to hear John Lewis, a man that I served with, that I respect, to question the legitimacy of the election and to say that Donald Trump will not be a legitimate president, it was deeply disappointing to me. And also to hear that he was not going to attend the inauguration this Friday -- I hope he reconsiders both statements.


MALVEAUX: Fred, so far, there's no indication that Congressman Lewis would reconsider. In fact, he joins at least 22 other of his colleagues, these are House Democrats, who've announced so far that they're not going to be attending the inauguration. This all comes on a day as well, Fred, when Washington is preparing for inaugural events. We've seen these dress rehearsals, a band practice. They are taking place today at the Capitol.

And this comes amid more controversy over some of those A-list performers refusing to participate in Trump's big rollout. You mentioned before, Broadway superstar from "Dreamgirls" fame, Jennifer Holliday, announcing that she's no longer singing at the pre-inaugural concert on Thursday after many of her fans complained.

And, she wrote that open letter saying that her performance was meant to heal the country, but she's reconsidered. And Trump for his part, while he has chosen not to directly respond to Holliday, but instead he did tweet out this saying, "Inauguration day is turning out to be even bigger than expected." Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then, how does this boycott involving U.S. members of Congress compare to any other boycotts during inaugurations?

MALVEAUX: Well, we've seen this before, the protests before, particularly from the Congressional Black Caucus. This was back in 2001. Members of the CBC skipped George W. Bush's first inauguration to protest the Supreme Court's ruling on the outcome of that election which they believed delegitimized Bush's presidency.

But the number here of members protesting back then did not come anywhere close to the nearly two dozen now who are going to be sitting out on this one, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Suzanne Malveaux in Washington. Thank you so much.

All right, Trump has responded to Lewis' criticism and the boycott by attacking his congressional district in Atlanta. And that district includes the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church which John Lewis is a member. Lewis was not at today's service, but CNN's Polo Sandoval spoke to several members of the congregation. That church made famous, of course, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What are members and the pastor there are saying? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting is no

Lewis sighting today. He was not there, although as you mentioned, he is a member of the congregation. But there were plenty of politics, particularly from Raphael Warnock, who is the head of the congregation. They're the senior pastor, specifically calling out President-elect Donald Trump for his criticism of lawmaker John Lewis.

[15:05:00] And that the interesting thing here is that he's specifically not calling him out for criticizing the representative from Georgia, but more the way he approached it in his Twitter tirade. Take a listen to the pastor before he took to the pulpit.


REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: Rather than sending nasty tweets, he really ought to sit at John Lewis' feet and learn what service, sacrifice, and integrity look like.


SANDOVAL: The pastor also addressing this other issue, too, about some of President-elect Trump's comments regarding Georgia, for example. We all remember that tweet that was posted yesterday by the president-elect. I'll read u a portion of it, "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape, falling apart, not to mention crime infest." And, of course, that tweet goes on.

Yesterday, we saw, of course, the Atlanta Journal Constitution take issue with that. And, of course, you see some of the reporting as well. And their headline, "Atlanta to Trump: Wrong." And some of that sentiment also echoed by Pastor Warnock today just before Sunday's service. Take a listen.


WARNOCK: This district is obviously more complicated than that. The world's busiest airport is in this district. Ebenezer Baptist Church sits in this district. And the people of this district deserve more than to be insulted by an incoming president.


SANDOVAL: So many of these comments here, again, expressing some outrage not necessarily because the president-elect criticized this democratic lawmaker in Congress, but more in the way that he perhaps approached it, particularly since he is, of course, a civil rights icon.

What was interesting, though, Fred, there was a mixed reaction among the congregation itself because many people stepping up to defense of Representative Lewis. But at the same time, there were others who felt that perhaps politics have no place in church. And then there were others who felt that perhaps the representative himself, he's not immune from criticism. Again, it was just the way that it was approached by the president-elect, according to the folks we talked to today.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

All right, let's talk more about this now with Salena Zito, a CNN contributor and reporter for "The Washington Examiner" and Rebecca Berg, a CNN political analyst and national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. All right, good to see both of you ladies.



WHITFIELD: OK. So, Rebecca, you first. Here we are five days away now from the swearing-in of the 45th president. And this is a growing cloud. You know, this dispute between Trump and Lewis and now, you know, a widening array of people who are taking sides.

How do you suppose this is going to influence not just the swearing-in ceremony, the day of inaugural festivities but, perhaps, even the first -- at least the first 100 days in office?

BERG: Well, it certainly does cast a cloud over the proceedings and of course the start of Donald Trump's presidency. What's so interesting to me about all of this is that Donald Trump in his remarks on election night declaring victory said that he did want to unite the country, that he would be a president for all Americans. And yet during the course of the transition, I think we have not seen the country come together, and in many ways have seen it become more polarized politically with Donald Trump still continuing to cause controversy and upset many of the groups who did not support him.

And so, I think the challenge for Donald Trump on inauguration day and moving forward after he is sworn in is to really reach out to some of these groups, reach out to some of the people who he has offended or upset, or distanced from his presidency. And bring them into the fold and really make an effort, make a very public effort to try to bring the country together because it really is a divided time in this country. You get the sense that things are at a very fragile moment. And he will have the biggest stage in the world on inauguration day to try to bring people into the fold.

WHITFIELD: And ladies, you know, Donald Trump, this is how he's communicating to the American people, to the world, by, frankly, via tweet. And here's his latest one that just took place last hour saying this, "For many years our country has been divided, angry and untrusting. Many say it will never change. The hatred is too deep. It will change."

So Salena, here he is coming across as offering words of healing or at least promise?

ZITO: Yeah. I think that that's what he is attempting to do. I'm sure his reaction to Representative Lewis was emotional. There have been attacks and accusations and speculations all around about the legitimacy of his presidency. And Lewis goes out and says that. And, I'm certain that in his head, he's like, "No, wait a minute, why

is he saying this?" And then Lewis goes out and fundraises off of the statement. So, both of them sort of have behaved very politically.

Now, I went out and I talked to voters, both Clinton and Trump supporters, about this, about what Lewis said, about Trump's reaction.

[15:10:00] And even Clinton supporters said, "Look, we don't like that he won, but he won. And it's legitimate. Lewis shouldn't be saying that. He doesn't want to go, that's fine. But to question the legitimacy is just stoking the fire."

On the other hand, even Trump supporters say, "Look, there's a way to handle this and there's a way not a way to handle it." And they weren't exactly thrilled with him sort of going in attack-dog mode with Lewis.

I think people are looking for Trump to do exactly what he has promised, and are hoping that maybe representatives like Lewis think about the office that the inauguration is about swearing in the next presidency and not about the person who's taking that oath.

WHITFIELD: OK. And still the issue of, you know, Russia's involvement in the election, the intelligence community's findings that Russia did try to influence the election. So that is going to continue to be a resonating message. This is what Vice President- elect Mike Pence had to say this morning.


PENCE: Well, of course not. Why would there be any context between the campaign? Chris, the -- this is all a distraction. And it's all a part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of this presidency. The American people see right through it.


WHITFIELD: So Rebecca, I mean, there are so many issues at hand here. But when we talk about, you know, the influence or attempted influence that Russia's had on the U.S. election, intelligence findings, the hearings that are going to continue and all this at the start of the 45th, you know, president's term, it is an unavoidable topic, Rebecca.

So how will this Trump White House address it, support ongoing investigations, at the same time, try to create distance between the ongoing investigations and what may or may not have happened November 8th?

BERG: Well, it's funny because I agree with you that this is really an unavoidable topic. And yet, Trump and his team and Vice President- elect Mike Pence have worked very hard to try to avoid it by framing this as merely a political fight, a political football, and not actually a serious issue that they need to confront in their administration. And I think the pressure on them is really going to build in the early

days of their presidency, of the new administration, to take on this issue. Because -- I mean, it really isn't an issue of politics. It's an issue of a foreign government interfering in the U.S. Democratic system. And more broadly, just hacking into American interests and using that information to disrupt the country.

And so, I think there's going to be a lot of pressure not only from lawmakers on Capitol Hill who will be holding these hearings, but potentially from the American public to see some sort of interest in actually addressing this problem from the Trump administration. But so far, they have done their best to really push this to the side.

Donald Trump said early on when this became an issue that he thought it was time to move on. That he didn't think it was worth dwelling on this any further. They're really realistically not going to have that luxury. This is going to continue to be an issue.

WHITFIELD: And CIA Director John Brennan perhaps fired some of the first warning shots on the issue this morning and also some advice. Listen.


JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: If he doesn't have confidence in the intelligence community, what signal does that send to our partners and allies as well as our adversaries?

So I think Mr. Trump has to be very disciplined in terms of what it is that he says publicly. He is going to be in a few days time the most powerful person in the world in terms of sitting on top of the United States government. And I think he has to recognize that his words do have impact. And they can have very positive impact or that they can be undercutting of our national security.


WHITFIELD: All right. Salena, some pretty sage advice. Will Trump --

ZITO: Yeah. I mean -- yeah. Brennan is correct. Trump does need to be disciplined. But I will take a step further. I think Trump needs to be better disciplined and giving a better message of saying two things that sort of marry together, right? He needs to say, "Look, my presidency was legitimate. Having said that, I do not want Russians to have any part of interfering in our process no matter which way to do it and here's what I'm going to do about it."

WHITFIELD: Is it realistic to think that can happen because those opportunities have come and gone to say something like that?

ZITO: They have come and gone, but that hasn't stopped him before from doing a U-turn and changing his mind. I mean, he -- that is part of who he is. If you've read any of his books, it's right in there. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't do that.

WHITFIELD: And Rebecca, do you see it happening?

BERG: Well, I guess we will read and see, right? It's early yet. And we have seen Donald Trump change course in the past.

[15:15:01] We can point to a number of examples during the campaign when he changed his position on policy, changed his tone. Perhaps we'll see that in this case as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rebecca Berg, Salena Zito, thank you so much.

ZITO: Thank you.

BERG: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, it's been known as the greatest show on earth for more than 100 years. But, in just a few months, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be folding their tents for good. Up next, how falling ticket sales and animal rights activists took down the iconic American spectacle.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The greatest show on earth.


WHITFIELD: And it all began at 1884. Grover Cleveland had just been elected president. The Washington monument had just been finished, becoming the world's tallest structure at the time. And five brothers in Wisconsin founded a circus. Not just any circus, but what would eventually become the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. But in May, this extravagant part of American history is coming to an end.


WHITFIELD: It's the end of the road for the greatest show on earth. In just four months, the curtain falls on the one and only Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus, an iconic road show that defined the circus experience for generations of children.

In the end, CEO Kenneth Feld said the circus was simply too expensive to produce. His family has owned the show for the past 50 years. But ticket sales were declining, and the circus's fate was likely sealed last year when it retired the popular elephant show. Feld said then it was inevitable.

KENNETH FELD, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, FELD ENTERTAINMENT: There is a saying and it's been around for a long time, you can't fight city hall. And we found that to be the case in this situation.

WHITFIELD: For years, the elephants and their dance routines were a big draw for circus fans. But not at all popular with animal rights groups which deplored their treatment and repeatedly criticized, picketed, and sued the company for its treatment of animals.

In 2011, the circus paid a fine of more than a quarter million dollars for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

[15:20:04] And last year, it retired the elephants to a conservation center in Florida. After the closure was announced, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals declared victory, while admitting its war against other wild animal exhibitors including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld is far from over.

The last performance of the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus will be on May 21st in Uniondale, New York.


WHITFIELD: And I spoke with a performer Ringling Bros., and Barnum & Bailey Circus performer next hour. You'll hear his hopes of a legacy of the infamous piece of American history.

All right, inauguration rehearsal is underway today in Washington and security is very much to focus. The Secret Service is leading a force of 28,000 to protect this year's attendees. Detail is next.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. With just five days to go before inauguration, crews are rehearsing everything from the swearing-in to the presidential motorcade. Final preparations are also being made for the nearly one million people expected for the festivities. And then, there is the enormous task of trying to keep everybody there safe.

I want to talk about all of that with CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He's also the former -- a former police chief for Washington, D.C. Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: All right. So first, I want to play for you something Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said earlier.


JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: There will be at the hard perimeter areas this year in light of the current threat environment which includes Nice and Germany more heavily fortified against unauthorized vehicles by dump trucks, heavy trucks, trucks with cement, buses, and things of the like. That is a precaution that we are doubling down on, in particular, this inauguration.


WHITFIELD: You heard Johnson there specifically make reference to the truck attack in France. So, how much more challenging has protecting an inaugural festivities become? [15:25:00] RAMSEY: Well, I mean, it is challenging but it's something

that happens every four years. So, for the main people that are involved in it, we are very, very accustomed to working together. The plans for this starts about 18 months out. It doesn't matter who becomes president. January 20th is the key date.

Now, obviously, as it gets closer, the meetings become more intense. We've had issues overseas. So you add a few little things to the security plan. But I don't see any reason why it will not go off without a hitch.

WHITFIELD: And how complicated is it to really strike that balance? Clearly, reinforcements, security have to be in place, have to be very visible. At the same time, you're inviting millions, hundreds of thousands of people who will not be ticket holders in the restricted areas to come and be a part of, you know, this process.

RAMSEY: Well, it'll be a challenge, no doubt about that. I mean, I was part of both President George W. Bush's inaugurations in '01 and '05. And obviously -- especially the first one, we had protesters along the parade route, demonstrations in other parts of the city and so forth. I expect it will be something similar with this particular inauguration as well.

So you have to be flexible in your plans. I think they'll have enough people onboard to be able to allow people down to either protest or just enjoy the event. And naturally, the job of the police is to see to it that people can express their first amendment rights. But at the same time, people who just want to come down for the festivities have the ability to do that.

WHITFIELD: And Secretary Jeh Johnson said there are no specific credible threats at the moment. But we're also talking about a very unique setting, this federal city of Washington, D.C. You've got local jurisdiction police. Of course, you've got many layers of federal agencies working together. How much of a challenge is this, or has this become, you know, so second nature that these local federal authorities work together quite easily?

RAMSEY: Well, they do work together quite easily and often actually. Washington, D.C., the national capital region, is unique in that regard. I don't think there's any department that handles large demonstrations better than the metropolitan police in Washington, D.C., or the Philadelphia police here where I'm at right now. They're accustomed to it. But Washington gets it all the time.

And so the planning among all the agencies, both local, federal, and state is something that you just don't see very often in other parts of the country.

WHITFIELD: Charles Ramsey, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead, Democrats holding dozens of rallies across the country today with one message, save Obamacare. What Senator Bernie Sanders has to say, next.


[15:31:03] WHITFIELD: Hello again, and thanks so much for joining with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, so the fear of losing health insurance has spurred thousands of people to hold rallies across the country today. They all have the same message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protect my health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protect my health care.


WHITFIELD: This rally was held in Warren, Michigan, near Detroit. It included speeches from senator Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer.

CNN national correspondent Jessica Schneider was there and remains there. So, you spoke with Senator Sanders, what more did he have to say?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Fredricka, Senator Sanders talked a lot about these rallies and the importance of them. In fact, right here in Michigan, about 8,000 people were here according to the estimates by organizers. Thousands more people throughout the country at 40 different rallies extending from Maine to California. All of the people out here were looking to share their stories about the Affordable Care Act. They want people to know how it's helped them, how it's helped save in many cases their lives, helped save them massive amounts of money.

But I did talk with Senator Sanders and I said, "Will these rallies really make a difference, especially when the Republicans are going on the fast track to repeal and replace?"


SCHNEIDER: Senator, you have become the leading voice for Democrats, particularly with this issue. You have thousands of people standing outside there. Will this message resonate? Will this get through to the Republican Congress?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Oh, I think it will. I think the Republicans are going to catch on that not only are tens of thousands of people coming out today in rallies from Maine to California, but that millions of people think it is insane to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having to replace it.

You just cannot throw 20 million people off of health insurance, raise the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, do away with very important patient protection provisions. You just can't do that unless you have another plan in its place. And I think more and more Republicans are beginning to understand that.

SCHNEIDER: We're here in Macomb County. There's also a rally in your home state of Vermont.


SCHNEIDER: Why here, and especially the fact that this county did vote for Donald Trump? They don't usually vote for a Republican.

SANDERS: Well, you know, Mr. Trump, when he ran for president, promised the people of Michigan and the people of America that he was a different type of Republican. He was not going to cut social security, Medicare, or Medicaid. So part of what today is about is reminding Mr. Trump that he better keep his promises because we're watching.

SCHNEIDER: Last question.


SCHNEIDER: Have you spoken with Hillary Clinton about all of these issues and --

SANDERS: I'll be seeing her I think pretty soon, OK? Good.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you so much, Senator.


SCHNEIDER: And we haven't heard from Hillary Clinton since the election. Senator Sanders there saying that he will speak with her at some point soon. But, of course, people we have heard from, President-elect Trump, saying that he wants an instantaneous repeal and replace. House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that it will be a simultaneous repeal and replace.

But the Democrats I spoke with out here, as well as many of the people are expressing their skepticism saying that they haven't seen any sort of plan from the Republicans, and doubting, Fredricka, that one even exists. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: So Jessica, multiple rallies today. Is there any talk or are there any plans that these rallies might also make their appearances in some way during inaugural weekend?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we know that we're expecting tens of thousands of people in cities throughout the country on the inauguration day or actually the day after the inauguration both in Washington, D.C. I know there are rallies in Philadelphia, as well as New York City.

So I think the plan out here, what I've been talking with many of the Democrats, not just Senator Sanders but the two senators here in Michigan, saying that this is just the beginning. We saw these rallies take center stage during the campaign. Now, we're seeing them extend into the Donald Trump presidency.

So yes, they say that they -- it took them about a week to organize this one and all the ones that are happening around the country, but don't expect this to be the last time we're seeing these.

[15:35:06] They say that they're going to take their message directly to the people, especially because Democrats are looking to re-energize their base and talk once again to the working class that many feel they lost throughout this election, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Jessica Schneider, thank you so much in Michigan. Appreciate it.

All right, coming up, the battle over a border tax. Mexico's economy minister threatening to give Donald Trump a taste of his own medicine. We're live in Mexico City after this.


WHITFIELD: All right, Mexico is firing back at Donald Trump over his proposed border tax. The president-elect is doubling down on his threat to tax companies manufacturing in Mexico and selling in the U.S.

Joining me now live from Mexico City is CNN's Leyla Santiago. So Leyla, how is Mexico responding to this threat of a tariff?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, Mexican government officials basically say, "You put a border tax down, we will respond immediately", that coming directly from the economic minister.

So why is that? Let's talk about why that is. That's because there is so much at risk when it comes to trade, when it comes to the relationship between the two countries.

I spoke to a top diplomat to the U.S. from Mexico and he was quick to point out that relationship, that connection between the two governments, not only because of a physical border but because of trade.

And when you look at it, it kind of makes sense, right? Mexico, the third largest trade partner to the U.S., we're talking about $1.5 billion worth of trade across that border every single day.

So I asked him directly, "What would a 35 percent tax mean?"


CARLOS GARCIA DE ALBA, CONSUL GENERAL OF MEXICO IN LOS ANGELES: Ask this to the American consumer that has paid lower prices for many different products, not just cars.

[15:40:05] If they agree to pay more expensive products with this 35 percent tariff, that will be the final effect, the final consequence of this.

We need to think in a different way. That's the world, it's not just the U.S.


SANTIAGO: So NAFTA, which is essentially that deal that eliminated a lot of taxes when it comes to imports and exports, a pretty big deal, you know, years ago when it was signed. But it is also the exact same deal that President-elect Trump calls one of the worst deals in history. And he believes that's the case because of the thousands of jobs that had been lost, U.S. jobs, lost to Mexico.

But I also think it's important to look at the other side. Lots of U.S. jobs to be exact, 6 million, if you ask the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, depend on that exact same trade between Mexico and the U.S. So Mexican government officials have said, "We're willing to go back to the table, willing to renegotiate", but keeping in mind that connection that both countries need each other. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Leyla Santiago reporting from Mexico City, thank you so much.

All right, next, the father of Kamiyah Mobley, the girl who was stolen at birth 18 years ago, is speaking out.


CRAIG AIKEN, FATHER OF KAMIYAH MOBLEY: Just for anybody that's lost hope, just keep hope alive. Just keep praying. Keep fighting. If it happened to me, it can happen to anybody.


WHITFIELD: All right, after the break, more from that interview and the road ahead for that newly reunited family.


WHITFIELD: All right, a heart-wrenching story. Kamiyah Mobley, the girl who was stolen at birth from the hospital 18 years ago, has been reunited with her biological parents for the first time.

You're looking at a composite sketch of Kamiyah Mobley released after she was taken from her mother in the hospital. Craig Aiken and Shanara Mobley travelled to Walterboro, South Carolina to meet their long-lost daughter.

[15:45:00] Our CNN affiliate spoke with Aiken about the emotional reunion and what's ahead for the family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say -- what's the first thing you say? I mean, it's just unimaginable what position you're in.

AIKEN: Just for anybody that's lost hope, just keep hope alive. Just keep praying. Keep fighting. If it happened to me, it can happen to anybody. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how is she?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did the meeting go?

AIKEN: First meeting was beautiful. It was wonderful. Couldn't went no better than --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did she have to say to you? What was the first thing she said to you?

AIKEN: She was glad to meet us.

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

AIKEN: No, it's going to be up to her. Time will tell. Taking it one step at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about her mom?

AIKEN: Her mom, she's all right. She's -- her mom's all right. She -- she's emotional, you know. Because guys, just give us a little time to get the process and everything, that's it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you tell us what you said to her?

AIKEN: I love her. I was glad to see her. I love her and I miss her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you heading home? Are you going to stay here and try to get in touch?

AIKEN: I don't know what I'm going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did you first hear about this? I mean it was (inaudible).

AIKEN: Can you back up on my (inaudible)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean this is the first -- I'm with NBC News.

AIKEN: I know, that's fine. But --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did you first hear? What was your reaction to it?

AIKEN: About the kidnapping?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About her being found, what was your reaction?

AIKEN: Well, it's -- I just say it's a feeling that you can't explain. You know, it's hard to put it in words right now. It's hard to deal with this right now. Do you know what I'm saying? You just -- like I said, we're trying to process it, it's been 18 years. You know, it's going to be hard to make that up. You know what I'm saying? I can't -- like I said, I just can't describe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever give up hope? Did you think --

AIKEN: No, I never gave up hope. I always thought I'd find her. Always thought I'd find her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this is an incredibly wonderful day for you.

AIKEN: Yes, very wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was her mother there? Did she meet her, too?

AIKEN: Yes, she met her --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they still inside?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have anything to say to the parents of missing children?

AIKEN: Just keep fighting. Keep your head up. Just keep praying. Keep pushing. It will happen one day.


WHITFIELD: Aiken went on to say the family has been overwhelmed by the national attention and is requesting privacy at this time. We'll be right back.



[15:50:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for coming. I'd like to start by answering the question that's on everyone's mind. Yes, this is real life, this is really happening.

On January 20th, I, Donald Jake Trump, will become the 45th president of the United States. And then two months later, Mike Pence will become the 46th.


WHITFIELD: Oh, my. Donald Trump's first press conference in months gave "Saturday Night Live" fresh father to poke fun at the president- elect before he takes office in just five days, including this moment, mocking his contentious relationship with the press.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, I'm loving this press conference, I love the press, I respect the press, let's take another question from the press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, yeah. I'm from BuzzFeed. And -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no, not you BuzzFeed. You're a filling pile of a garbage. And you want to know why? Because I took your quiz yesterday and I'm taking it right now, I am not a Joey, I'm a Rachel.

Who else has a question? I love the press.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not CNN. Either you are overrated or fake news. I tried to watch your network last night and then with just some crazy blond woman starting lies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was Kellyanne Conway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. How do I look, Kellyanne?


WHITFIELD: All right, now, there's talk, the regular White House press briefing. Those are tradition could look more like last week's Trump press conference, as Square Magazine reporting that Trump administration wants to include space for more reporters. And that would mean moving them out of the White House. Incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus was asked about that today on NBC's Meet the Press.


REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: This is about quadrupling the amount of reporters that can cover our press conferences --

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But there will still be reporters.

PRIEBUS: -- in the White House.

TODD: There will still be reporters everyday going to work in the White House.

PRIEBUS: Either -- well, that hasn't been determined, Chuck, but as of now, the only thing and the only thing that created this story, I just want to make it very clear, was the question of whether or not --

TODD: Right.

PRIEBUS: -- the press briefings at least initially are going to be --

TODD: So this is about -- but you're not answering the question. Is this about press briefings or is this about kicking the press out of the building all together.

PRIEBUS: This is about press briefings, that's what's --

TODD: ok. PRIEBUS: -- created this story.


WHITFIELD: So, on another program this morning, Reince Priebus saying that it was his view that perhaps those press briefings could potentially take place in the executive office building an extension of the White House to suit more people upwards of 400 people as opposed to the 40 reporters that could fit in to the pressroom.

OK. So, now, I've laid it all out there for our panel here. Ellis Henican, CNN political analyst and Republican strategist Brian Morgenstern with me now. OK. So, what is the, you know, ground work here for the relationship between the White House, the press secretary and the White House press corps, Brian?

BRIAN MORGENSTERN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It looks like they want more. They want more outlets in there. And, you know, there is a larger room in the executive office building which is literally just across a driveway from the west wing where President Obama has held a number of press conferences already and you can fit a whole bunch more people in there.

So, I don't know really what the objection would be other than, you know, being a White House correspondent, of course, is sort of an exclusive club, it's been just a few dozen people. And, while we all know politicians have big egos, maybe a personality is trying to hold the press of the United State's feet to the fire, have healthy opinions as well. And that is a prestigious position rightfully.

So they're probably not thrilled about inviting hundreds more people into that club. So maybe that's some of the pushback. But, you know, having more media instead of less strikes me as transparency.

WHITFIELD: OK. Prestigious, yes, but I think a lot of those members of the press corps would say it's less about ego, really is about access. So, Ellis, you know, moving them to a different space, is this about creating a greater distance between the tradition of the White House press corps to the access of the executive office here, the White House, the president who may, u know, spontaneously walk in, or the press secretary who would be, you know, going toe to toe with the White House press corps.

ELLIS HENICAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Proximity is power. Fred, when somebody tells you they want you to move across the street, down the block, up the stairs and into the back, that means they don't want to hear from you and they don't want you to see what's going on. And that's exact -- let me suggest something to Reince Priebus. If the executive office building is the same as the west wing, Reince, why don't you move your office over there, how about that?

MORGENSTERN: Ellis, the proximity matters a lot less today than it used to. Now that most things are done in an e-mail and authority (ph) and everything. I mean, just having the press briefing room down the hall from the Oval Office doesn't mean they get to see the president all the time. And -- HENICAN: No, but listen.

MORGENSTERN: -- the OE -- OOB has a heck of a lot more offices, a heck of a lot more stuff there.

[15:55:03] HENICAN: Guys, both of you know that when you cover a beat (ph), being able to bump into somebody in the hall or in the bathroom, or the water fountain, or just coming in and out, that's where you find out stuff.


HENICAN: Right? It isn't so much of these official briefings anyway.

WHITFIELD: OK, so the press isn't the only body trying to figure out this whole new administration. Democrats too having to rethink how to respond to, you know, Trump's language, his tweets, attacks, counterattacks, you name it. In today's New York Times, Jonathan Martin writing this, "Less than a week before Mr. Trump is sworn in, there is a widening disconnect among Democrats over how to challenge a leader whose talent for stirring controversy can blur rather than sharpen the lines of attacks against him."

So, how difficult is this now for Democrats to A, stay on message, you know, Brian, not allowing either Donald Trump to dictate the day's news or, you know, the issue of responding to the material.

MORGENSTERN: Well, it's hard. And I say this from a place of experience and pain having been a member of the opposition party during President Obama's eight years, a president who, obviously, is a very effective communicator.

It -- what is hard for the Democrats is that they now have a clear leader, a clear messenger with the kind of, you know, skills that Trump has. Because, obviously, their party lost the presidential election but they're also out of the leadership positions in the House and Senate as well.

And so, you see today people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders holding rallies to try to save Obamacare which, of course, is an issue that the Republicans ran on and want on repealing.

So, I think there is a bit of a regroup going on in the Democratic Party and it's a challenge. It's a tough road ahead, I can tell them, as I've said, from experience.


HENICAN: Well, listen, losing stinks, you know, there's a lot of disadvantages, Brian pointed at a couple.

It's correct, it seems to me that there is not a unified Democratic response at this point. But, you know, I don't know that there needs to be. I mean, I think it's fine for Bernie Sanders to have this approach for, you know, John Lewis to be the voice of morality, for Nancy Pelosi to be the backroom schemer. It's a big party and I don't think there is any one answer. And frankly, I think it's probably fine to have a bunch of different approaches.

WHITFIELD: All right, Brian Morgenstern and Ellis Henican, thanks much. Always good to see you, gentlemen.

MORGENSTERN: Good to see you again, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Donald Trump have had no shortage of colorful insults for the news media calling us everything from bleeding red ink, a laughing stock rag to, of course, this week's failing pile of garbage.

But, he isn't the only president to have a contentious relationship with the press, and CNN's Jake Tapper shows us in this week's state of the cartooning.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Donald Trump held his first televised press conference since the election this week and it got a little tense.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF UNITED STATES: I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news.

TAPPER: Presidents as far back is the one who held the first televised press conference, Dwight D. Eisenhower had been weary of taking our questions.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 34TH PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, I see we're trying a new experiment this morning, I hope it doesn't prove to be a disturbing influence.

TAPPER: Richard Nixon clearly thought we were a tad intrusive.

RICHARD NIXON: It's the responsibility of the media to look at the government generally, particularly at the president with a microscope. I don't mind the microscope before, when they use a proctoscope, that's going too far.

TAPPER: Noting that the White House briefing room was built on top of the site where the White House swimming pool used to be. Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary Jim Brady jokes that the president had a plan for reporters who got out of line.

JAMES BRADY, RONALD REAGAN'S PRESS SECRETAY: I only had to push a button and splash.

TAPPER: Other presidents were more comfortable around us, like LBJ, who once answered reporters questions aboard Air Force One while stripping down until he was left in only a towel.

Actually, answering questions while nude might be more common than you think. If you believe the legendary tale that President John Quincy Adams was taking a skinny deep in epitomic when he emerged to find one of America's first female reporters sitting on top his clothes, forcing him to answer her questions.

Here at CNN, we want to expose the truth about our leaders, but not, you know, expose them.


WHITFIELD: All right, the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Hello again, I'm Fredricka Whitfield, thank you so much for being with me.

All right, just five days until Donald Trump takes the oath of office as this country's 45th president, but a growing number of Democrats in Congress will be not be there. Five more Democratic House members are joining the boycott of the president inauguration.

[16:00:04] At least 23 lawmakers will be absent, some are citing Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election while others say it's a sign of solidarity with fellow Congressman John Lewis.