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Trump Feuds with U.S. Civil Rights Icon; Trump Open to Meeting with Putin; U.S. Invited to Syria Peace Talks; France Hosts Middle East Peace Conference; Trump Cabinet Picks Have Different Views Than Trump's; Atlanta Residents React to Trump and Lewis Feud; Michelle Obama's Greatest Television Hits. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 15, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:11] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect of the United States versus a civil rights icon. Congressman John Lewis feels the backlash after Donald Trump -- saying that Donald Trump is not a legitimate president.

Some 70 countries from around the world together for a peace conference in Paris on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but guess who's not there? The Israelis and Palestinians. We'll have a live report on that issue.

And the greatest show on earth. America's legendary Ringling Brothers Circus is taking down its tent after almost 150 years.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

The U.S. president-elect is firing back against a civil rights icon. On Friday Congressman John Lewis said he didn't see Trump as, quote, "a legitimate president." Lewis, an ally of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, found himself the subject of Trump's Twitter wrath just days before the U.S. holiday commemorating Dr. King.

Here's how it all got started with Lewis' comments to NBC. Listen.


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

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": You do not consider him a legitimate president. Why is that?

LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and to help destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.


HOWELL: Trump on Twitter firing back, quote, "Congressman 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 actions or results. Sad."

Trump later seemed to double down on that criticism, quote, "Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner cities of the United States. I can use all the help that I can get."

Here's what some residents of John Lewis's district here in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, had to say about this feud.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To tear down John Lewis is definitely detrimental to his cause and it's not going to play very well with African- Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump's the president. I got over when Obama went in. Half the world needs to get over now for Trump.


HOWELL: Let's bring in CNN Politics reporter Eugene Scott live for us in Washington, D.C. via Skype.

Eugene, a pleasure to have you with us. I'd like to start by breaking this down into its different parts. First from the big picture point of view, Donald Trump attacking a civil rights icon saying that he is all talk, no action. This despite Lewis' deep history in civil rights, not to mention the fact that just last June Lewis arranged a sit-in right here, you see the video, the sit-in on the topic of gun control. So the issue of Lewis' service that is being attacked, what has been the response here? Is there a feeling that the president- elect may have gone too far?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: There is certainly a feeling that Donald Trump is actually not familiar with John Lewis' record in Congress. And so one approach to that we have seen on social media is people tweeting out some of the causes and policy proposals that the representative has put forward in his 30-plus year career in Congress.

HOWELL: OK. Here we are just days before the inauguration, there's a growing list, Eugene, of Democrats who say they have no plans of even attending the inauguration. Take a look here, you can see that we have the breakdown of the many different Democrats who say, hey, they plan to skip it.

Also, I want you to look at this image, it shows Trump's pre-inaugural approval ratings. And it is the lowest compared to other presidents. You see Donald Trump there at 44 percent compared to President Obama, Bush and Clinton, much higher.

Here's the question, Eugene. What does this say about Donald Trump's ability to build bridges across the aisle before he even takes the oath of office?

SCOTT: Well, it brings into question his ability to do so. The list of Democratic lawmakers boycotting the inauguration continues to grow. The number is actually closer to 20 now, and that's on top of the Women's March that's expected to attract more than 200,000 Americans. There's concern also that perhaps Donald Trump isn't really interested in working with some of these people because if you look at the heart of John Lewis' critique, it wasn't about Donald Trump specifically as much as Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.

[05:05:07] And many Democratic lawmakers who even do think that Donald Trump's election was legitimate would like to see the president-elect be more aggressive in addressing that issue.

HOWELL: Eugene, this latest controversy, you know, it all started after Lewis said that he did not believe Trump to be a legitimate president. Still this topic, though, of legitimacy came up during the Obama's presidency. My colleague Poppy Harlow touched on that earlier in her show. Let's listen.


BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I also think it's unprecedented that a congressman with his stature was able to come out and say, I don't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate president. I cannot imagine the fallout, the backfire that you would have if a Republican would ever imply that about Barack Obama or Bill Clinton or JFK or anyone else for that matter. That is --

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Ben, Ben, Ben. Ben, that's exactly what many Republicans did.


HARLOW: Including the president-elect for years, questioning the legitimacy of the first black president.


HOWELL: The conservative commentator there Ben Ferguson making the point. And Poppy Harlow fact-checking making the counterpoint that in fact that did indeed happen with the president-elect focusing on the birther issue, an issue that has been proven to be patently false.

SCOTT: Yes, it is true that Donald Trump, some say built his career, his political career on questioning President Barack Obama's legitimacy despite having documentations showing that the current president very much had reason and the right to be president. Whether or not Donald Trump will move forward in accepting the intelligence that his critics are hoping he will, that will no longer bring his legitimacy into question for people like John Lewis and his supporters, it's not yet clear, but he has proposed to put forward a committee that will look into more hacking of foreign governments in the future.

HOWELL: And Eugene, also as a matter of fact because facts do matter Trump called Lewis' district crime-ridden, that district which his the city of Atlanta for the most part, and I have to say, I live here. No one can deny that there is crime in the city, but to try to define an entire city or district in 140 characters or less is a massive overgeneralization at best. In fact, Atlanta has many things going for it. I'll post some things on Twitter today, those facts that have been proven, but the question comes down to this. Trump's style whether it's focusing on people or companies, what happens when he takes office doing these kinds of things online?

SCOTT: Well, one of the things that's going to continue is what we saw yesterday. And people will continue to push back with facts. People have flooded social media describing Metropolitan Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs with the accuracy that was not reflected in Donald Trump's tweets. Furthermore, we will see people also pushing back on claims he's made that can be supported by stories and news and research.

And one of those examples is Donald Trump allegedly will be visiting the Smithsonian Museum tomorrow in commemoration of Martin Luther King Day. John Lewis is the representative who introduced the bill for that museum to be built.

HOWELL: Eugene Scott live for us in Washington. Eugene, thank you.

Civil rights activists who are concerned about the Trump administration plan to make it known that they intend to stand up to the president-elect before he's sworn in. This is the scene in Washington despite the rainy weather. Some 2,000 people marched Saturday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The protest organizer Reverend Al Sharpton says Democrats in Congress need to, quote, "get some backbone."

In a separate rally at a Washington church, they vow to fight for immigration rights. Organizers say they are against the targeting of Muslims and fear the deportation of millions of immigrants.

Civil rights activists also tell us that they will continue to watch what happens with the Trump administration. The president-elect is also looking to see U.S. sanctions lifted when it comes to Russia. This is something that he has been talking about. He's indicated that it's up to Moscow for this to happen and he says that he will be fine with meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin if indeed, you know, after he takes office is necessary.

A story we continue to follow as well. CNN's Matthew Chance is following that story.

And Matthew, I do want to ask you, what is the perception there in Russia given the fact that the president-elect is making it clear he's willing to meet with Vladimir Putin?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think that's being welcomed obviously. I mean, if you talk to Russian officials about this, I mean, they say they are not looking for any special treatment by the White House, by President Donald Trump once he's sworn into office. But, you know, sort of behind the scenes, they're secretly, quietly confident that the situation is going to improve somewhat once Donald Trump is the president of the United States, particularly with the issue of sanctions. [05:10:13] There's a belief here in Russia that Donald Trump has a

negative attitude towards sanctions as a policy towards Russia because that hasn't changed Russia's behavior. And of course he's been supported in that belief by his nomination for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was the CEO of Exxon, went on the record to say that he did not believe that sanctions were an effective tool of American policy.

And so look, I think there's a quiet confidence, should we say, in the Kremlin. But once Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, the very rocky relationship that is existent between Moscow and Washington is going to start to ease somewhat and get better.

HOWELL: At the same time, there have been a lot of mixed messages to say the least of Donald Trump indicating one thing, though congressional leaders indicating another saying that the U.S. should keep a stronger stance against Russia. Is there sort of a wait-and- see attitude there in Russia?

CHANCE: I think there's definitely that. I mean, the Russians are under no illusions about the unpredictability of Donald Trump, for instance. I mean, never mind the political situation he has to deal with himself in the Congress. And as you quite rightly say, there are significant voices calling for even stronger sanctions against Russia in the U.S. Congress. But Donald Trump himself is seen here in Moscow as being unpredictable. He's spoken about, yes, the possibility of recognizing Crimea as a legitimate part of Russia. Of course Russia annexed that territory from Ukraine in 2014.

He's criticized NATO. He's spoken about cooperation with the Russians in Syria to fight international terrorism. All of this is music to the Kremlin's ears. But at the same time, he's an unknown political quantity. And, you know, behind the scenes, there are serious doubts here in Russia, amongst Russian officials, that he will be able to follow through, be willing or able to follow through on any of those suggestions that he's made in the campaign and as he approaches this inauguration as president of the U.S.

HOWELL: Matthew Chance live for us in Moscow. Matthew, thank you for the reporting.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, the first major foreign policy test of Donald Trump once he is in office. His administration invited to the next round of Syrian peace talks. We'll have details on that.

Plus France is hosting a peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Why this meeting is so controversial.

Live across the world this hour, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


[05:15:18] HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

The incoming Trump administration may soon have its first major test on foreign policy. Turkey and Russia have invited the United States to the next round of Syrian peace talks. The negotiations are scheduled just three days after Trump's inauguration. It's unclear if his administration will accept that invitation. Syria's umbrella opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee. That group now says it supports those talks.

For more on the story, let's bring in CNN's Muhammad Lila following the story in Abu Dhabi this hour.

Muhammad, good to have you with us. So the United States was not brokering -- not part of brokering this peace deal, but now it is invited to the table. What does this mean for the U.S. to be invited?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, talk about being thrown right into the deep-end for the new Trump administration. Look, at this point we don't know if the United States is going to accept this invitation and join these peace talks in Ashtana, Kazakhstan. Normally what would happen is that the State Department would make a recommendation for the president-elect once he's inaugurated and he becomes president. It would be up to him whether or not to accept that invitation based on the recommendation from the State Department.

But what makes this invite so interesting, George, is not the fact that the United States is being invited to the table but how they are being invited to the table. Make no mistake, this is not the United States being told that it will have a role in this Syrian peace process. It's specifically the Trump administration and the reason for that is simple. This has all been hammered out over the last several weeks by Russia and Turkey, two of the key players that have proxies and have very deep vested interest in the outcome of the Syrian war.

Those two sides have been hammering out how this peace process would play out. And throughout that entire period starting back in late November, the United States wasn't invited. President Obama didn't have a seat at the time, Secretary of State John Kerry didn't have a seat at the table. In fact the entire cease-fire was hammered out without any U.S. involvement. And lo and behold, three days after Trump is scheduled to take office, suddenly now the United States gets an invitation to be part of these long-term peace talks.

So clearly there's a strong preference from Turkey and Russia to have completely avoided the Obama administration and waited for the new president-elect to be inaugurated before the United States would be invited back to the table.

HOWELL: And as you point out no word yet on whether Trump or his team will attend. But if the U.S. attends, Muhammad, what's the plus-minus here? Will the U.S. be at a disadvantage going into this meeting?

LILA: Well, there's a big question about what kind of capital or currency the United States still has left in Syria. I mean, there was a point where the United States was considered a broker, it was considered a channel for the opposition to possibly talk with Turkey and Russia and to help set up some sort of peace process. The United States is quite frankly trying to do that in the past but it's completely failed.

The fact that Turkey and Russia now seem to be succeeding in maintaining this very fragile cease-fire so far is an indication of how far the U.S.'s influence has fallen in Syria and how important and key the players are now, which are Russia, Turkey and Iran. So even if the United States does get a seat at the table, its role is really up in the air. I mean, Turkey and Russia have guaranteed or have put themselves up as the guarantors of the cease-fire. So when there's a violation, people in Syria now look to Turkey and Russia to monitor it and to enforce it.

What role has the U.S. play in that? Well, the U.S. really hasn't played any role in that. So the question is when they are sitting at the negotiation table, is the United States going to be an observer or are they going to have a more active role. At least over the last several weeks are any indication, it may simply be in an observer role, but of course that's going to be up to the President-elect Donald Trump to decide what role the United States wants to have in Syria moving forward.

HOWELL: Invited three days after inauguration, it is a game of geopolitical chess. It will be interesting to see whether the U.S. accepts the invitation or not. How it will participate, how it could participate or not.

Muhammad Lila, live for us, thank you.

Around 70 countries are meeting in Paris for a peace conference on the Middle East. They hope to urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to commit to a two-state solution. We'll have more on that conference in just a moment, but first a key issue that divides both sides, it is the city of Jerusalem. Both sides claim it as their capital.

Our Sara Sidner has this report for us.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tapestry of Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem is changing. More and more the Star of David is being woven into the landscape as Jewish settlers with the help of nonprofit organizations buy or sue their way in to Palestinian homes.

[05:20:09] It makes for a volatile situation. We watch as Jewish children walk to and from home noticing they are never without an armed escort. Their families' fear evident in the most mundane of acts. Fear is something they have in common with their Palestinian neighbors.

Zohair al-Rajabi (PH) says his own home surveillance video shows guns used to protect Jewish settlers are sometimes turned on Palestinians. Settlers say they simply respond to attacks by Palestinians.

"They're trying to scare the families with guns so we get to a point where we're convinced to take the money and leave." Al-Rajabi, an activist and father, says that's what's happening to him and his family. "In the beginning of 2014," he says, "they started giving us evacuation orders claiming this land was owned by settlers since 1892." In the legal battle, he says Jewish settlers cite articles written back when the Ottoman Empire ruled here, saying the land was once Jewish owned. A century later they want it back.

The Rajabi family lives in the Silwan neighborhood, jammed tightly into the hills of East Jerusalem. Silwan lies right outside the gates of the Old City which surrounds the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Wailing Wall.

But for al-Rajabi, this is simply home. And he's staying put, even after Jewish settlers offered him a blank check to sell it.

(On camera): Why not take the money and get out of here, run away?

(Voice-over): "This question makes me laugh, it's not the money, it's about principles. We want our land, our house, our dignity," he says. Even though his children dread encounters with settlers who live a few doors down.

"They shot at us and arrested my brother. I was so scared," 7-year- old Darin (PH) said. Al-Rajabi's son says this encounter also caught on surveillance video shows violence he endured by settlers near his home.

(On camera): We tried to talk to some of Israeli settlers here in east Jerusalem. None of them would talk to us on camera. However, a young man named Niveh (PH) did speak.

(Voice-over): I asked him why anyone would choose to live in such a tense situation. He said, for some, it stems from a deep and abiding religious belief that all these land belong to the Jews and they will endure anything to make that so.

But settlements go against international law and are an impediment to a two-state solution where East Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestinian state.

(On camera): Do you think you can ever live in peace?

(Voice-over): "How will I forget how I suffer? How will I forget how they beat me? We can never live in peace," he says. Here even the next generation can't imagine a peaceful solution.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOWELL: But again there is a peace conference taking place in Paris on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Let's talk more about that with CNN's Oren Liebermann, following the story live for us in Jerusalem.

Oren, good to have you with us. Given that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are part of this actual meeting, can anything truly come from it? OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the French Foreign minister

said in sort of an introduction to the conference that they have to do something before all is lost here. And that they are not trying to impose a solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians, but there's a question of what will come out of this. At best will be a recommendation or a guideline that either side can ignore, can ignore whatever it doesn't like, because there's no consequence to ignoring it.

The idea is to keep the peace process moving forward, which has been stagnant ever since the last round of peace talks broke down in April 2014. Netanyahu in this morning's Cabinet meeting fired off another criticism of the peace conference saying it's a false conference and that it's a relic of the past and that a new day or a new era begins soon. He added very soon, perhaps there referencing President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration only a few days away here.

HOWELL: So whatever comes out of this meeting, Oren, could it put new pressure on the Israelis and Palestinians to find some sort of a new solution?

LIEBERMANN: On the zone that's unlikely because again there's no -- there's no consequence. Although this is some 70 countries meeting, this isn't the U.N. It's not the EU. There are no sanctions that will come out of this. But Israel's fears is what comes next. If these recommendations are then taken to the U.N. Security Council and adopted in another resolution, even if that resolution is non-binding, that's a big step forward. A big step that's virtually impossible to undo.

And whether Trump chooses to abide by that or not it doesn't matter because those recommendations aren't going away. They'll become a U.N. Security Council resolution. That remains Israel's great fear in the last few days of the Obama administration.

One thing that's worth pointing out is on this specific day, there's a group calling itself Commanders for the Security of Israel.

[05:25:03] They're not coming out and saying we need a two-state solution but they're opposing a one-state solution saying, if there isn't a Palestinian state soon, that it hurts Israel's democracy and it hurts Israel's security. That is a big statement especially on this day and that includes former heads of Mossad, former heads of the Shin Bet, which is the security service and very high-ranking officers in the military.

So they're trying to push forward, whether it's the peace conference itself or peace trying to make some sort of statement here to move forward exactly what the Congress itself is trying to move forward.

HOWELL: It is also important to point out, the United States certainly an important key in all of this. The Israeli leaders there frustrated with the Obama administration leaving the door open, hopeful for change in policy with the incoming Trump administration.

But, Oren, important to point out that no representatives from the incoming administration are taking part either in what is happening at Paris.

LIEBERMANN: Right. And Trump has made it clear that he didn't support this conference at all. Kerry will be there. Secretary of State John Kerry will be there at the conference and I think he's expected to make a speech. And again that gets that why this conference may have no immediate effect on its own. What's important is that this conference doesn't stand on its own. From Israel's perspective and then from the Palestinians' perspective as well, it's part of a process that we've seen over the last few weeks from the first Security Council resolution to the Kerry speech and now this.

So again if this stands on its own, it could very well be that it doesn't mean anything. But if it becomes another U.N. Security Council resolution, whether Trump likes it or not, the fact is it's there.

HOWELL: Oren Liebermann, live for us in Jerusalem. Oren, thank you so much.

5:26 on the U.S. East Coast. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM in the U.S. and around the world. Still ahead, the a veteran police officer is laid to rest while her colleagues search for the killer who gunned her down. Stay with us.


[05:30:16] HOWELL: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

China's Foreign Ministry is not happy about Donald Trump's suggestion that the United States One China policy could change once he is in the White House. A ministry spokesperson called the policy non-negotiable and said that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Under one China, the U.S. has formal diplomatic relations with Beijing and not with Taiwan.

No word yet on whether the U.S. will accept an invitation to take part in the next round of Syrian peace talks. Turkey said that the U.S. would be asked to join those talks. The talks scheduled for January 23rd. That's just three days after Donald Trump takes the oath of office.

Special military police are responding to a new prison riot in northern Brazil. A government spokeswoman says at least 10 inmates have been killed there. The riot began after an altercation broke out between two rival gangs. This is Brazil's fifth deadly prison riot in two weeks.

The U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is getting some blow-back for his harsh response to Congressman John Lewis saying that Lewis is all talk and no action. Now residents of Lewis' district here in Atlanta, Georgia, are speaking out about that -- feud, I should say.

Nicole Carr from our affiliate WSB has more on that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE CARR, WSB REPORTER: A civil rights icon and Georgia congressman, George Lewis, began trending online Saturday. Atlantans came to his defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has put his life on the line for all of us.

CARR: Rejecting backlash from President-elect Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's dedicated his entire life to community service. That's a lot more than what Donald Trump has to offer.

CARR: In a series of morning tweets, Trump shot back at Lewis who has boycotted the president-elect's inauguration, saying he's not a legitimate president. Trump in turn said Lewis was all talk and no action, garnering outrage from many of Lewis' Atlanta constituents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you do during the Civil Rights Movement? I didn't see you out here.

CARR: It didn't stop there. The tweets which continued into the night said Lewis should concentrate on his crime-infested district, which is largely African-American and primarily comprised of the city of Atlanta. In 2015 the FBI ranked Atlanta 14 of the 20 major U.S. cities with the worst violent crime rate. Atlantans say context is key.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the only city that I feel comfortable raising a family in midtown which is just down the street from downtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don't feel unsafe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I'm concerned about that, there's much crime in our neighborhood than there is in politics.

CARR: Trump's tweets have garnered an invitation from Fulton County chairman John Eads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he needs to come here and see what's here, the good and what the opportunities are.


HOWELL: Thanks to affiliate WSB and Nicole Carr for that report.

John Lewis is not the only one in Washington not seeing eye-to-eye with Donald Trump. His inauguration just days away. Some of Trump's Cabinet picks seemed to disagree with him on key issues.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has this report.


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.

[05:35:02] 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.

ZELENY (on camera): And Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson contradicted a view of Trump on climate change this week, saying he believes climate change exists and requires a global response.

Now Donald Trump has said he wants members of his Cabinet to have their own views. The question is, whose views the Cabinet or the president become the policy of this new administration?

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

Now to Orlando, Florida, police from across the United States came together on Saturday for the funeral of one of their own. Debra Clayton was killed while trying to arrest a murder suspect. She was promoted to lieutenant in one last honor before being laid to rest.

CNN's Nick Valencia has this report for us.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been a solemn week in Orlando, punctuated Saturday by perhaps the saddest day of them all.

CHIEF JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Today we are mourning but we're also here to honor a beautiful life, an extraordinary person, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, police officer, leader.

VALENCIA: Master Sergeant Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department, laid to rest.

MINA: We have all struggled this past week to come up with the words to soft your loss and there really aren't any. Words cannot begin to express our heartache.

VALENCIA: More than 1,000 people attended her funeral at the First Baptist Church of Orlando. Officers from all over the country came, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was courageous.

VALENCIA: Before the service began, two of her colleagues and friends reminded everyone just how big of a void was left behind by her death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sad. It's senseless death. She loved her job. She was a strong-willed woman with a contagious smile. She is going to be missed but never forgotten.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had a passion to make Orlando better. She like myself grew up here in Orlando. For her to be taken away by someone in the community she loved, someone was from the same area as her is just hard.

VALENCIA: She was murdered by a man police say was already on the run for allegedly killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December. In an exchange that lasted less than 30 seconds, police say fugitive Mark Keith Lloyd took the life of Sergeant Debra Clayton. At one point they say he stood over her body and continued to fire even though she laid on the ground defenseless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we celebrate the life and the legacy of Master Sergeant Debra Clayton --

VALENCIA: Of the more than 700 officers in the city, Clayton was one of the most engaged in the Orlando community, an officer, yes, but also a community activist determined to bridge the gap between police and the public. Her friends and colleagues have only one message for the man suspected of killing her.

(On camera): Any message to Mark Keith Lloyd? If he could hear you guys, and you could speak directly to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, I don't have something nice to say right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You won't get away with this. I'm confident in our department and we will turn over every stone to find you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you guys so much. We're all very sorry.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Nick Valencia, CNN, Orlando, Florida.


HOWELL: Nick Valencia, thank you.

Now to a follow-up story that we have been reporting here on CNN. Kamiyah Mobley, a young woman here in the United States who was kidnapped as an infant and only recently found 18 years later. Mobley was taken from a Florida hospital by someone posing as a nurse, taken when she was only a few hours old. She met with her parents for the first time on Saturday. You see her father here. He says that that meeting went well and that he told his daughter that he loved her.


[05:40:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The meeting was beautiful, it was wonderful. It couldn't have gone any better.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What did she have to say to you? What's the first thing she said to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was glad to meet us.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's going to be up to her. Only time will tell. Only one step at a time.


HOWELL: That reunion came after an emotional meeting the previous day when Mobley visited Gloria Williams. Williams, the woman who raised her, Williams is in jail. Williams is awaiting a hearing on kidnapping charges.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, an entertainment tradition that began almost 150 years ago. It is coming to an end. One of the world's most enduring circuses is folding.


HOWELL: Welcome back. At least 10 inmates are dead in northeastern Brazil after another prison riot broke out there. Special military police forces were deployed to regain control. The prison is overcrowded but experts say the bigger problem is an ongoing conflict between rival drug gangs. Violence in Brazil's prisons began two weeks ago. More than 100 inmates have been killed in five different riots since New Year's Day.

Dozens of people are missing after a boat carrying 110 migrants sank off the Libyan coast. A French warship along with a plane and helicopter are searching for passengers. And so far, rescuers have pulled four survivors from the choppy seas. At least eight more people have been found dead. 5,000 people died last year trying to make similar journeys across the Mediterranean.

[05:45:05] It is still very cold across much of the United States and Europe. Our meteorologist Allison Chinchar is here to tell us about it.


HOWELL: Allison, thank you. We'll stay in touch with you on it.

Extreme weather is also killing Peru's alpacas. Some 2,000 have died in the south of the country after a cold front and widespread flooding hit the region. The animals starved to death on the grasslands they grazed on froze over. Many residents from the region depend on alpacas for their livelihood and they've requested assistance from the government. Local media further report the region has been hit by drought, which itself has hampered alpaca breeding.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, a look back at how Michelle Obama showed her lighter side on TV comedy shows. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.



HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

So say it ain't so. One of the most famous circuses in the world is shutting down for good. Feld Entertainment, the parent company of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Show says it is closing its more than 100-year-old circus extravaganza. The last show will be in May of this year.

CEO Kenneth Feld said ticket sales dropped dramatically when elephants were cut from the show. That move came after years of pressure from animal rights groups and fines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A successful launch and return for a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four, three, two, one, liftoff of Falcon 9.


HOWELL: It is always so cool to see these things happen. It blasted off from a U.S. Air Force base in the state California carrying 10 communication satellites. This was the first launch for the private space company since a similar rocket exploded in September. It was followed by a smooth return landing for the rocket's first stage booster. It glided onto an ocean platform that is known as the drone ship.

SpaceX and its rivals have been trying to perfect the landing because reusing the rocket is key to making space travel more affordable.

And from outer space to your inner peace, take a look at this. This newly-discovered Buddha statue that's been sitting undisturbed in a southeastern China reservoir for hundreds of years. Archaeologists say it dates back to China's Ming Dynasty. The top of the Buddha's head appeared when the water level dropped. You can see here remnants, though, of a temple have also been discovered below the water.

A big story we're following this week, the transition of power. Come January 20th, the Obamas will be moving out of the White House, but during their eight years there, the U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama was one of America's favorites on television.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look back.





JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her days of dancing across our screens are numbered.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "LATE, LATE SHOW": How cool is the first lady?

MOOS: Cool enough to run a potato sack race in the White House with Jimmy Fallon. And now she's reached the finish line as the first lady of late-night.

[05:55:04] MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: It is nuts. I feel like crying right now. I didn't think that --

MOOS: Her last talk show appearance featured her surprising people. As they delivered farewell messages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To continue to go high, even when the challenges of life make us feel low. Thank you so much.

MOOS: She was even serenaded by Stevie Wonder who adjusted his lyrics.

It won't be easy to follow in her dance steps.

(On camera): Without further adieu, we present the greatest hits of the comedy stylings of Michelle Obama.

(Voice-over): Of course, there was the evolution of mom dancing alongside Jimmy Fallon in drag. Followed by the evolution of mom dancing two with classics like getting a bag from your collection of plastic bags under the sink. She did carpool karaoke.

Went shopping CVS with Ellen --

OBAMA: We need help on aisle two. This is hard.

MOOS: She was always promoting her Let's Move campaign. She's even beat Ellen who gave up after 20 push-ups. No wonder Stevie is singing in tribute.

Is the first lady's favorite singer. Not for much longer is she ours.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. The news continues here on CNN right after the break.