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Violent Protests in West Bank; Violence Over Jerusalem Decision; Avocados Smashing Success; Bleacher Report Headlines; Trump Jr. Invokes Privilege; Franken to Speak Today; FBI Director Testifies Today; Trump Sniffles are Back. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:32] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news in the Middle East. Dozens of people injured in violent protests that have broken out in the West Bank, as you can see, following President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
CNN's Ian Lee has been on the ground. He is live in Ramallah for us where these clashes continue.
What's happening at this hour, Ian?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those clashes are still continuing. You can see, they've moved a bit, though. They -- the protesters have been able to push back the army over here. You can see just the smoke and the burnt out tires, the rocks, the debris on the ground. And then over here now, this is where the protesters now are squaring off with the military.
I'm still seeing a number of people who have been injured. I saw one boy, it looked like, he was hit in the head and bleeding from the head.
You know, this sort of violence has really ebbed and flowed over the course of the hours where you have an intensify -- you see more rocks being thrown with slingshots, people hurling those rocks and the army responding with tear-gas, with rubber bullets.
Again, this is the anger that we're seeing right now here in Ramallah. But this is happening elsewhere. We know it's happening in Bethlehem.
And this is what Arab leaders have warned could happen if there were protests like -- or if there was this move of the embassy to Jerusalem and Jerusalem was called the capital of Israel. And this is pretty much what we're seeing going into the evening here, this continuous violence.
And we need to point out that today is Thursday. Friday is a typical day for protests. Expect this sort of violence, this level to maintain itself.
CAMEROTA: OK, Ian, thank you very much. Obviously we'll check back with you as breaking news developments.
Joining us now is former senator and former U.S. special envoy to Middle East peace, George Mitchell.
Senator, Mitchell, thank you very much for being here.
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: What are your thoughts as you watch what's happening there? Ian Lee, he's in Ramallah. There is also violence in Bethlehem.
MITCHELL: Well, the president's action was, in my judgement, premature and unwise. But my hope, of course, is that the violence will not spread. As your correspondent just reported, tomorrow is an important day because typically Friday is a day of protests. And these are -- the ones you're seeing on the screen are internal to the Palestinian territories.
CAMEROTA: Yes, we've heard --
MITCHELL: (INAUDIBLE) --
CAMEROTA: We have been cautioned that Friday could be more active.
But do you blame Donald Trump for this? I mean there are -- there's often violence in this area.
MITCHELL: I -- there's a lot of violence in that area. And I think his action obviously has led to this, but I don't believe that the response is the proper one, although I don't agree with his decision.
CAMEROTA: So, look, very few people understand the quixotic nature of attempting Middle East peace as well as you do. We had heard yesterday from the mayor of Jerusalem that there could be no peace without this move. That had Donald Trump not made this move, that he did not believe that there could ever be peace. They want Jerusalem to be the capital where the embassy is and so they felt, the mayor of Jerusalem felt this is an important first step towards peace. How do you see this?
MITCHELL: I respectfully but very strongly disagree with the view. Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It's going to be Israel's capital. There's no --
CAMEROTA: So why not recognize it officially?
MITCHELL: There is no doubt about that.
The question is, how do you get the two parties together to negotiate and reach an agreement? That's the stated objective of President Trump and every American president in recent years.
This decision, premature and unnecessary, makes it less likely that there will be negotiations and less likely that there will be an agreement? CAMEROTA: But was it likely before this?
MITCHELL: Well, it hasn't been achieved. And people say, well, so we should stop trying because it hasn't been achieved? The two-state solution is the only feasible solution to this conflict. And the only way that can be achieved, consistent with American policy over 50 years, is some direct negotiations between the parties. The problem with this decision is that it makes it less likely, more difficult, to get into negotiations and to reach an agreement.
[08:35:05] And the other thing that it does -- let's be clear -- support for the two-state solution is declining in both Israel and among the Palestinians. In Israel a substantial body of opinion, including many ministers in the current government, are adamantly and publically opposed to there ever being a Palestinian state on the West Bank or a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. They will be emboldened by this.
On the Palestinian side, Hamas opposes or insists on the use of violence. President Abbas is opposed to the use of violence.
MITCHELL: This will discredit him further and give them -- embolden them to continue their violence against Israel. The real question is not whether Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, it's whether it will ever be the capital of a sovereign independent state of Palestine.
CAMEROTA: Let me give you another perspective, and that is from Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was a point person for Middle East peace during Clinton and Bush 41. He said to Wolf Blitzer yesterday, I believe, that now Israel owes us something. That doing this -- doing this, which is what Israel had wanted and Netanyahu, so now this helps the peace process, it helps the negotiation because now they owe the process something. What do you think of that perspective?
MITCHELL: Well, I hope he's right, but only time will tell. Many make just the opposite argument, many experts in this country who I read about last night, is that the United States, making this action, without asking anything of Israel, has simply emboldened the Israelis to continue not to make concessions because they know they'll get what they want without doing anything. So you can argue it both ways. I hope it works out that it will lead to Israeli concessions and Palestinian concessions.
Look, let's be clear, both sides have to negotiate in a reasonable responsible way, which means recognition of some of the other side's interests, otherwise you can't possibly get to an agreement.
CAMEROTA: Quickly, while I have you, let's just talk about what's happening in Congress today.
It appears that Senator Al Franken may resign today amid calls from his Democratic colleagues for him to do so amid sexual harassment allegations. You miss being in the Senate? MITCHELL: Not too much. Not too much these days. I miss --
CAMEROTA: I mean what do you think from this side as you watch things unfold?
MITCHELL: Yes. Well, what I miss is getting around to my -- in my home state of Maine and meeting with my constituents. I don't miss what's going on in Washington.
CAMEROTA: What do you think about it? Should Al Franken resign?
MITCHELL: Well, we'll wait and see. I think it's likely that he will given the overwhelming views of his colleagues on the Democratic side.
CAMEROTA: Do you think there's more gridlock today than there was when you were there?
MITCHELL: Oh, definitely. I had a very good relationship with Bob Dole, the Republican leader. We agreed that we wouldn't make it personal, that we would stick to the issues. We negotiated on a regular basis. We disagreed often and when we couldn't reach an agreement we let the Senate decide it. And in our arguments we stuck to the issues and didn't make it personal.
I think it's possible to do that. And, incidentally, to this very day, to this very day, never once has a public word or private word that was harsh pass between Bob Dole and me. We're still good friends.
CAMEROTA: Your words make no sense to me, Senator George Mitchell. That seems so quaint now. But it seems like an inspiration. Thank you so much for being here to talk about all of this.
MITCHELL: Thank you. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: All right, Donald Trump Jr. refusing to reveal details of his conversation with his father about that meeting with Russians at Trump Tower. How is he invoking attorney-client privilege? We get "The Bottom Line" on that next.
But first, Americans cannot get enough avocados, apparently. Are they really good for you? CNN's Jacqueline Howard has answers in "Food as Fuel."
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN NUTRITIONIST: From toast to guacamole, avocados are seemingly everywhere. But are they healthy? As long as you eat them in moderation, the research says yes.
The green fruit is high in fats, healthy fats and an important B vitamin called folate. Avocados have more potassium than bananas so they can help lower blood pressure. Some studies suggest avocados can also lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Other studies show a diet rich in healthy fats, like those in avocados, can help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. However, there is a potential downside to avocados, they're high in
calories. If you top your salad with about a half cup of avocado, that adds about 117 calories to your meal. So feel free to enjoy avocados, but watch the portion sizes.
[08:43:33] CAMEROTA: With the winter Olympics two months away, skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn says she will be representing the United States in South Korea, but not President Trump.
Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn.
This "Bleacher Report" is brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.
And in an interview with CNN, Lindsey Vonn says if she wins gold at the Olympics, she would not accept an invitation to celebrate that accomplishment at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY VONN, OLYMPICS GOLD MEDALIST: I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. I want to represent our country well. And I don't think there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you accept an invitation to the White House if you were to win an Olympic gold in Pyeongchang?
VONN: Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: To the United Nations. Nikki Haley, meanwhile, saying last night that it's an open question whether U.S. athletes will attend the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang due to safety concerns. But Haley also added, as Americans we don't fear anything, we live our lives.
Elsewhere in the sports world, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has received a contract extension despite opposition from Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones. The deal, according to ESPN, Alisyn, is for five years and could be worth as much as $200 million after incentives. Do the math, that's $40 million a year.
CAMEROTA: How will he -- where will he cut corners to assist (ph) on that? It's just --
[08:45:00] SCHOLES: Had to pay for his own private jet, probably.
CAMEROTA: It's mindboggling.
All right, Andy, thank you very much.
So, where is Congress today with getting to the bottom of the Russia investigation? We get "The Bottom Line," next.
CAMEROTA: Don Trump Jr.'s testimony before the House Intel Committee creating more questions on Capitol Hill. The president's son invoking attorney-client privilege when asked about his conversation with his father after the Trump Tower meeting with Russians last summer.
Let's get "The Bottom Line" on all of this from CNN's senior political person Mark Preston.
Hi. How are you?
[08:50:00] MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, what's happening, Alisyn. Good morning.
CAMEROTA: Nothing. This is going to be a lightning round. You get one minute on each.
OK, so let's start with the House Intel Committee did not seem terribly satisfied with Don -- well, the Democrats at least --
CAMEROTA: With Don Jr.'s responses. In fact, Jackie Speier said she thought he had amnesia. So where are we with the congressional investigations into Russia?
PRESTON: Well, a couple of things.
One, there was a lot of talk about how well the United States Senate was doing as far as getting along and getting things done. But we know now that Dianne Feinstein is very upset about how the Judiciary Committee right now is pursuing its investigation of possible collusion with the Trump administration. We saw what happened yesterday with Donald Trump Jr., where he invoked executive privilege when Democrats are saying that he can't invoke executive privilege. He wasn't speaking to his lawyer, a lawyer was present. In fact, John Dean, a CNN contributor now, as we know, and the former Nixon White House council, Alisyn, said that Congress shouldn't have allowed it to happen. And if anyone should know whether it should happen or not, it would be John Dean.
CAMEROTA: OK. Next topic, Al Franken. So he's going to be making some sort of big announcement --
CAMEROTA: From the Senate floor. Dana Bash, our colleague, has new reporting that Al Franken went to Chuck Schumer's apartment yesterday for some sort of tete-a-tete. So what do we think's going to happen today?
PRESTON: I can't imagine that he survives beyond today. In fact, I was surprised that he survived beyond yesterday. Just really -- the dam has broken. The time of reckoning has come. And Al Franken has gotten caught up in it.
Now, when you keep on seeing women coming out and making similar allegations, there's just no way he could stick around. And I can't imagine that he's not going to say anything other than to go to the Senate floor today and try to graciously leave the United States Senate.
CAMEROTA: And then -- I mean, I know I said just one question each --
CAMEROTA: But then what happens to the Republicans? I mean what happens to Blake Farenthold, who we now know made a settlement of something like $84,000 of a staffer who accused him. What happens there?
PRESTON: Well, Blake Farenthold says that he's going to stay in. And our own Ashley Killough spoke to him recently. He said that that -- you know, he's going to stay there.
But the bottom line is, is that there's an incredible amount of pressure on Republicans and Democrats to try to excise these colleagues out of the Senate or out of the House, but it eventually comes down to the individual member himself. So I think you will see some fights along the way, but I just can't imagine someone like Al Franken right now could survive this.
CAMEROTA: OK, next topic. FBI director.
CAMEROTA: Christopher Wray is going to appear in front of the House Judiciary Committee in one hour from now. This, of course, against the backdrop that President Trump has said that the FBI is in, quote tatters. So what's going to happen there?
PRESTON: Well, you're going to see Democrats, you know, come at him and ask him very pointed questions about what is going on with the investigation and how things are going on and you're going to see the same thing from the Republican side, except from the Republicans you're probably going to see a line of questioning that will try to discredit what Robert Mueller is doing.
Now, Christopher Wray is not going to be able to answer anything regarding the investigation into Russia because that's why they have the special counsel. And I expect that you will hear him say that today.
But what's really unfortunate in all of this is that we're seeing the FBI become politicized at this point and the likes of President Trump and his allies are trying to use every little bit they can to try to discredit the FBI because by doing so they are discrediting the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and in turn discrediting whatever his -- or trying to discredit whatever his findings are from his investigation.
CAMEROTA: Mark Preston, thank you very much for the very comprehensive bottom line.
CAMEROTA: All right, so, that famous Trump sniffle that you'll remember is back in the news. The president sniffing his way through a historic speech yesterday. And don't think Twitter did not take notice. CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It didn't take a nose for news to sniff out this story.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The status quo --
Both sides --
A lasting peace agreement.
MOOS: We're all in agreement, this was a case of deja vu stiffing.
TRUMP: Does that work?
MOOS: President Trump has done it before, most notably during a debate with Hillary that inspired complications.
It was dubbed the sniffening (ph), complete with a mockup, makes sniffs greats again hat that "SNL" mockery.
ALEC BALDWIN, "SNL": I was picking up somebody sniffing here.
MOOS: Back then, theories ranged from allergies to chronic sinusitis, to meditations that cause sniffling.
He has anxiety, suggested a psychologist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So now we have sniffle-gate.
MOOS: But now sniffle-gate has given way to slur-gate.
TRUMP: Political and religious.
MOOS: Because about 11 minutes into his Jerusalem speech, the president blew a blessing.
[08:55:04] TRUMP: And God bless the United States.
MOOS: Twitter chattered, "Trump's dentures are trying to escape his mouth," but he's not known to wear dentures. It sure reminded us of the dry mouth he experienced also 11 minutes into another speech --
TRUMP: Core principles of fairness.
MOOS: That time he had to reach for a bottle of water. A White House official would say only the president is perfectly healthy.
The slurring gave "The Daily Show" a memorable ending for its "Trump Best Words of 2017" video.
TRUMP: And God bless the United States.
I have the best words. I have the -- but there's no better word than stupid.
MOOS: A little dry humor, make that dry mouth, is nothing to sniff at.
TRUMP: And strong.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: Human soul --
MOOS: New York.
CAMEROTA: Jeanne Moos has a way with words.
On that note, I will hand it over to CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman. They'll pick up after this very quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.