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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNNW  December 7, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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president-elect taps another retired military leader for his national security team as he acknowledges that he's seeking feedback on his appointments from a surprising source, the current commander in chief. cabinet mania. trump reaches into the world of pro-wrestling to fill a key post aimed at helping small businesses in the united states thrive. tonight he's offering a timetable for another nomination that could be the most important one yet. time heals all wounds. trump calls it an honor to be named person of the year by a magazine he once criticized. the president-elect revealing another change of heart about a former target of his attacks. and room service. foreign leaders of political insiders are flocking to trump's new hotel just blocks from the white house. are they expecting to get more than a luxury room and a good meal? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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tonight, the president-elect once shared doubts about america's generals is turning to another high-ranking military veteran. donald trump has chosen retired marine corps general john kelly to serve as homeland security secretary. homeland security tonight, the transition team says mr. trump will nominate linda mcmahon to head the small business administration. she was a major trump backer during the campaign. this, as mr. trump says he may announce his choice for secretary of state next week, confirming that mitt romney still is in the running. the president-elect revealing in a new interview that he's been consulting with president obama on some of his potential appointments, saying he takes his recommendations very seriously. i'll talk about the transition with congressman ted yoho, and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by, as we bring you full coverage of the
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day's top stories. up first, let's go to jason carroll. he's over at trump tower in new york city with more on the transition. jason, what is the latest? >> reporter: donald trump has met with a number of people today, including oklahoma's attorney general, scott pruitt, seen as the man who could ed up the epa. but many critic sas he's too close to the fossil fuel industry. president-elect donald trump is "time" magazine's person of the year. >> it's a great honor. >> reporter: the caption, calling him president of the divided states of america, a moniker trump told nbc news is "not his fault." >> i didn't divide them. there's a lot of division and we're going to put it back together and have a country that's very well healed. >> reporter: he took that same
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message on the road tuesday night at a so-called thank you rally in north carolina. >> we will heal our divisions and unify our country. when americans are unified, there is nothing we cannot do, nothing. no task is too great. no dream too large, no goal beyond our reach. >> reporter: the president-elect's goal right now, piecing together his administration. cnn confirms trump will name retired marine general john kelly, the former head of southern command, as his homeland security secretary. and the governor of iowa as his ambassador to china. one of the reasons, he has a decades long relationship with the chinese president. as for the secretary of state job, no decision yet. trump says mitt romney is still in the running, and insists he isn't stringing the former rival along. >> it's not about revenge, it's about what's good for the country. we had some tremendous
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difficulty together, and now i think we've come a long way. >> reporter: trump also wants americans to start judging his actions now. >> i hope i'm judged from the time of the election opposed to from january 20th, because the stock market has had a tremendous bounce. and people are seeing very good things for business in this country. >> reporter: the president-elect calling out companies who he says are making bad deals for america, like carrier and boeing. trump threatened tuesday to cancel boeing's deal to build a new air force one, tweeting in part that costs are out of control. since then, trump says he's talked to boeing's ceo, and both agreed to "work it out." >> we're going the get the prices down, and if we don't, we're going to stay with what we have. >> reporter: today, trump met with chicago mayor and former obama white house chief of staff rahm emanuel. >> one about white house operations and how to make that work. second, we also discussed immigration.
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>> reporter: trump tells nbc news that he and president obama have talked several times. he asked for the president's advice, and takes his recommendations seriously. >> the president is responsive to requests and phone calls from the president-elect. he is certainly pleased that he can offer advice and assistance that may be useful to the incoming administration. >> reporter: and a it will t bit more about linda mcmahon. she's the former ceo of the wwe, wife of wrestling promoter vince mcmahon. ran for the u.s. senate in connecticut twice, unsuccessfully. trump says that he believes that she was instrumental in making the wwe what it is today, and he believes she's going to be instrumental in helping small businesses across america. wolf? >> jason, thank you very much. jason carroll in new york city. let's take a closer look now at how donald trump and his national security team are
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evolving, at least so far. let's bring in our chief national correspondent jim sciutto. jim, what are you learning? >> you're beginning to see patterns in the trump administration based on these early nominations and selections. one is his predilection for generals, general kelly the third general. michael flynn and james mattis have been chosen. and now this. and you have two other former military commanders under consideration for secretary of state. but points of view, not a pattern. many of these selections, including the new ones, have points of view in direct contradictions to the views and positions of donald trump. he toasted to friendship with china's president in 2012. and now iowa governor is donald trump's nominee to be the u.s. ambassador to beijing. the governor and president xi jinping have a long relationship.
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his iowa exports to china have grown. >> translator: the governor is an old friend of the chinese people. >> reporter: but his friendly approach to beijing contrasts sharply with president trump's view on trade. and national security. trump's nominee to lead the pentagon is retired marine general james mattis. spending a congressional waiver since he's not been out of uniform seven years, as required by law. >> mad dog plays no games, right? >> reporter: like trump, mattis is hawkish on iran. >> the iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the middle east. >> reporter: while trump has praised russia and denied moscow interfered in the u.s. election, despite the assessment of the u.s. intelligence community, mattis sees russia and president putin as a grave threat.
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>> putin goes to bed at night knowing he can break all the rules. >> reporter: trump's leading choices for secretary of state have different fews of the russian threat. mitt romney identified russia as the leading foreign policy challenge. >> i'm not going to wear rose colored glasses when it comes to russia. >> reporter: another possibility for state, rex tillerson -- >> the challenging events of the russian continental shelf. >> reporter: has close ties to vladamir putin, signing a multibillion dollar deal with russia's oil company for exploration in the arctic. trump says he's days away for a final decision. >> next week will be the time that i announce it. >> reporter: trump's pick for homeland security, retired marine general john kelly are very much like minded on another key international security issue, protecting the u.s.
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southern border. as kelly testified before congress in 2015. >> if a terrorist or almost anyone wants to get into our country, they just pay the fare. no one checks their passports, they don't go through metal detectors. >> reporter: general kelly looking to the border for the drug trade, as well. he identified the u.s. demand for drugs as a primary cause for instability in latin america. wolf? >> jim sciutto, thank you. joining us now is congressman ted yoho of florida. congressman, thank you very much for joining us. >> sure, wolf. thanks for having me on again. >> do you believe, congressman, that these retired generals that generals in effect should be in positions that are generally civilian posts? is there any danger from your perspective to that? >> no, i don't think so. they're going to go through the vetting process. you take somebody like general mattis who has been retired four years, he's a civilian and we
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need to keep that in mind. these are people that are civilians that served a long time in the military and it sends a signal that we're serious about the people donald trump is picking to go through the vetting process. >> is the president-elect picking these generals because of his lack of general security experience? >> you would have to ask him that. these are people that have strong military experience, and we have some formidable leaders in different positions. a lot of these guys have transitioned into the business world and have been successful there. this is a strong signal that this administration is showing their wisdom and getting the best that they can. and i respect him for that. >> as you know, general mattis needs a waiver from both houses of congress because he hasn't been out of uniform for seven years to become secretary of defense. now republicans want to tie that waiver to a critical house
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spending bill that could cause a government shutdown. it's got to be past, otherwise there could be a government shutdown. is that fair to tie the waiver for serving as defense secretary to that critically important legislature? >> i'm not going to talk about whether it's fair or not. it's a vehicle that we can use, and it's one of the last things we can vote on up here. this is imperative that if mr. trump has picked this person to go to the next step, we have to get that waiver. so there will be some kind of vehicle that it will go in. there's a couple other bills that will go in, too. so we'll see how this plays out. >> are you okay tying it to a stop gap spending bill that has to pass, otherwise the government shuts down? from your perspective, is that okay? >> i think it's fine to do that, because that's not going to be the poison pill that would kill that bill. >> he's still got to be confirmed in the u.s. senate, but the republicans have a majority.
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let's talk about russia for a moment. you're on the foreign affairs committee. donald trump still doesn't believe that russia interfered in the u.s. election. but let me read to you a joint statement put out in october by the director of national intelligence, and the secretary of homeland security. "the u.s. intelligence community is confident that the russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from u.s. persons and institutions, including from u.s. political organizations, referring to the democratic national committee. it went on to say, we believe based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts that only russia's senior most officials could have authorized these activities. why do you think donald trump, who gets these intelligence briefings, and they've told him the same thing in private that they said publicly, why does he still not believe that russia was behind the dnc hacks in an attempt to influence the u.s. election? >> again, i don't want to answer for mr. trump, but what i see is
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it's a preliminary report. once it's all done and played out and the investigation has been done, you may -- i'm not going to hang my hat saying it was russia either. when you go back to when sony got hacked, everybody pointed to china or north korea. and then there's the information saying well, north korea worked as a proxy for china. so we have to see how this plays out. i don't think i would hang my hat on russia being the only one involved in this. there's groups out there like anonymous and wikileaks and all these other things that hack into these things. >> is it accurate what donald trump said in the interview with "time" magazine, "i don't believe they interfered." is that accurate from everything you know? >> i think that's true for mr. trump. i'm not convinced they interfered either. you look at what russia is doing, they want to grow the mother country back. that's because there's a void that's been created by the lack of leadership of the united
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states. whenever there's a void, mother nature hates a void. that void will be filled up and you're seeing russia and china do it, and iran do that. that comes from a lack of leadership. that's why you see america so excited about putting these people in place of leadership. that's why mr. trump is where he's at. he ran a heck of a campaign and just unboundless energy. >> general clapper says there's no doubt the u.s. intelligence community is confident the russian government directed the recent compromises, these hacking operations. you don't necessarily accept that conclusion from the intelligence -- from the director of national intelligence, is that what i'm hearing from you? >> i'm going to wait until i'm able to read an intelligence brief. i haven't been able to see one. so i'm going to hold my opinion. we've seen them be wrong on other things, too. so let's just hold off is my opinion. i think that's what donald trump
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is doing, and i think that fits into his personality, too. you know what? i'm going to believe what i'm going to believe and he makes a decision based on the knowledge that he has. >> i do agree, there have been occasion where is the u.s. intelligence community has been wrong, especially on weapons of mass destruction, stockpiles in iraq that many of us remember very vividly back in 2003. do you agree with republican senator lindsey graham who said today that the u.s. -- that he wants to investigate russia's role in the elections and in syria. he says russia is one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage that's lindsey graham. do you support him leading a new investigation? >> i don't know if we need an investigation. i think what we need to do is move forward from here, set a clear, concise foreign policy, make strong relationships with these other countries. we're not going to solve the problem in the middle east by ourselves.
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we've had a long time to try to solve that. it goes back to the carter administration, when they set their agenda for the middle east, their middle east agenda. and we have not seen that come to fruition. we have to have a reset on this. i don't know if you need to reinvestigate russia. we need to start from this point forward and, with strong diplomacy, but you can't do that if you have a country that's bleeding to death on debt, and you have a military that's dropping behind on readiness. those are the things that will help diplomacy. that's what i see mr. trump doing. when you see the investor from japan saying they're going to put $50 billion into this country, or donald trump calling executives of corporations, keeping those corporations here to create american jobs, keeping those families here, and it has an affect here in the homeland. down to the dinner table, those kids are going to know their parents are working. that's the effect i see with donald trump. i heard you in the beginning of this about donald trump is destabilize america. i disagree, and i know it wasn't
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you saying that, but it was recorded. america was destabilize. it was split up because of policies. i'm not just going to blame president obama. we could go back to the beginning of the terrorist attack on 9/11. and so we have to have strong policy, but we're only going to get peace through strength, and that's what i see starting to emerge with the trump administration. >> i didn't say donald trump destabilize america, it was "time" magazine who named him person of the year. >> good call. >> and person of the year, the subheadline on the cover of "time" magazine they said donald trump, president of the divided states of america. he pointed out he didn't divide, he's inherited the divided states of america. i just want to be precise on that. >> you were, and i misspoke. i apologize. >> i want you to stick around, congressman. we have more to discuss. we're getting new information. we'll resume this conversation in just a couple moments. >> thank you.
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we're back with congressman ted yoho. we're getting new developments in the trump transition. congressman, do you support mitt romney for secretary of state? >> you know, he certainly is a credible businessman. he's been out there in the public. i think he could represent us well, and this is something, again, that mr. trump's transition team, he spent a tremendous amount of time vetting him. the thing i like about what he's doing, he's got people that were rivals that he's bringing together to the table. i think that's just a good oversight on chief executive, you know, to have counterviews so that you can bounce those
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ideas off of each other. i think that informs for better policy instead of having a yes man. i think it will play out. mr. romney is somebody that's well known around the world and respected. >> would you support him? >> i'm in the house, not the senate, so i don't get to vote. but i would have to see what the field is. if he was the one that was at the top and that's the one they wanted, yes, i would. >> so if he's nominated to be secretary of state, even though only the senate has to confirm that nomination, the house has no role in that, but you would tell your senate friends go ahead and confirm that, is that what i'm hearing? >> pretty much, yeah. yeah, i would say yes. >> okay. let's talk about the incoming senate minority leader, chuck schumer of new york. you indicated to "the washington post" today that democrats will not work with republicans to negotiate and pass a replacement for obamacare once the republicans vote to repeal it. let me read what he said.
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if they repeal without a replacement, they will own it. democrats will not step up to the plate and come one a half-baked solution that we will partially own. it's all theirs. pretty rough, tough statement. do you see that happening? >> no, i don't. it's rhetoric. he can say that and try to block it. but this is something that's going to fail on its own. people are losing their insurance. people can't afford to go to the doctor because of the deductibles. i hear it every day in our district offices, and this is around the nation. you look at how many of the co-ops have failed. this is a failed program that will collapse. the democrats own it right now. but we don't need the replacement, what you need to do is repeal 100% of it with a transition period in the next two years and have policies in place that allow the insurances to be sold across state lines, that allow insurance companies to come out with new policies, and you want these things now, and it's going to -- it will be a smooth transition.
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the goal of the republicans is to make sure nobody goes without insurance. there will be coverage for preexisting conditions. children can already stay on their parent's health insurance until the age of 26 prior to obamacare. so fixes are going to be done in there. and i guarantee, you're going to see premiums go down. you can keep your doctor and insurance company. >> i think kids could only stay on their parent's insurance until the age of 26 as a result of obamacare. but we'll check that. the people who have health insurance now that didn't before, what will happen to them? >> you're going to see a transition. prior to obamacare, 15% of the people in this country didn't have insurance for various reasons. that was 35,000 -- or 35 million. the 20 million they have insurance because of obamacare, that's a misconception. a lot of those people got kicked off of their plans because of
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obamacare. mine got cancelled in the private sesector, so i had to g on it. they're playing with the numbers here. there's not that many people that have insurance today that didn't have it because of obamacare. grant it, there's people out there that got coverage, but i eave got a lot more people calling me saying please get rid of this, from schoolteachers to housewives. it's a bad people and will go away. chuck schumer can be an obstructionist. keep in mind how they got it in, it was 100% democrats on christmas eve without republican support. they've owned this. he can play hardball, but he might want to look at the results oh of the last election. there will be another election in two years and he will own that, too. >> congressman, thanks for joining us. just ahead, more on president-elect donald trump's latest cabinet picks. did president obama's advice make any difference? stay with us.
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tonight, we're learning that president-elect trump is ready to add a third retired u.s. military general to his inner circle. let's discuss this and more with our political panel. john kelly, the former head of the u.s. military's southern command. he's been nominated as the
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secretary of homeland security. what do you think about him? what can you tell our viewers? >> both mattis and kelly are incredibly qualified. i saw john kelly up close in miami. this is a tested, proven leader with energy, has served this country, has sacrificed for this country his entire life, lost a son in iraq, is a true marine. he is experienced, he's a leader. he's exactly what you want in charge of dhs. ky tell you, i feel safer knowing that john kelly is the guy that's going to be hiding our homeland security. he's incredibly qualified. he's not political. he's not an idealogue. he's a professional server of our country's interest. >> he's a gold star son. >> his son robert kelly -- >> he was killed in fierce fighting in afghanistan, not in
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iraq. but a lot of us remember the speech that he delivered in memory of his son. >> and his wife, karen, has made it her life's work since then to help gold star families. she raises funds, she's active all over the country. both of them are incredible people. i'm so thankful to them that they continue the service of their country. >> the criticism he's getting, though, the president-elect, david, is too many generals are coming into sensitive national homeland security positions. you've heard the criticism. what do you think this >> most of the generals come in with strong reputations. the reputation for general flynn is a little more mixed. we ran a piece in the sunday washington post talking about just this issue and the idea that the writers were a little skeptical of this idea of this much reliance so early on former military people. one of the things they pointed out is this idea that the trump
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campaign expressed this admiration talking about general patton, general macarthur and would talk about the fact that he knew more about the generals how to run national security. >> how to defeat isis specifically. gloria, it's interesting in the interview he gave to the "today" show today, he had this to say about the conversations he's been having with president obama. >> i have asked him what he would think of this one or that one. what he thinks are some of the biggest problems in the country, some of the biggest assets going forward. i must tell you, i never met him before this and i never spoke to him before this. i really -- i do like him. i love getting his ideas. i would say that yes, i take his recommendations very seriously, and there are some people that i will be appointing, and in one
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case have appointed where he thought very highly of that person. >> very interesting. remember, during the campaign, and for years earlier, he was very critical of the president, the whole birther issue that came out. >> he tried to delegitimize him. of all the crazy bromances we have seen during this campaign, and we saw a lot of them, this, to me, is the most remarkable one. and i must say more power to both of these guys. actually power to president obama for reaching out and treating him the way he was treated by george w. bush, showing donald trump the respect he deserves as the president-elect of this country. i think that goes a long way for donald trump. if you treat him with respect, he will treat you with respect. but this is will the about the president's legacy. he understands that if he can guide donald trump in any way to preserve his legacy, he will. i bet they've been talking about dreamers, for example.
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the one thing that i'm curious about is this generals. the number of generals that we've been talking about. i remember dealing with this administration, and the president himself talking about -- questions about the ever influence of generals, when he was considering the surge, when he was considering a policy in iraq and iraq, he would talk to advisers and say you know what? you can't let the generals have too much influence over you when you are making these kinds of decisions. so here is donald trump, and i believe that president obama believes that mattis is wonderful, i guarantee you that. and kelly probably, as well. but i think that -- i'm wonder if he's trying to curve that enthusiasm a little bit for appointing so many generals in his administration. >> it really is -- you know, i don't know how much of it is because they're generals or how much it's because they're
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leaders. when you become a four-star leader, when you are the commander, you are a leader. you've got troops under you. these are people who have shown their leadership when it matters, when there's guns pointed at you. for me, i love the idea of kelly being there, because he knows a black marine and a brown marine and a white marine bleed the same and die the same. he brings particular sensitivity to the western hemisphere. he knows the problems with drugs. he knows the problem with human trafficking. i think we've got to be careful, not all generals are the same. [ overlapping speakers ] >> i think that president obama would feel the same way you do about that. and i think that as a theoretical issue, that's been something this president thought about a lot, which is what is the right balance between civilian and military input. >> everyone, stand by.
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more to discuss, just ahead, why are foreign dignitaries showing up at the new trump hotel here in washington, d.c.? new controversy and some questions about a potential conflict of interest. (vo) it's the holidays at verizon, and the best deals are on the best network. (both) yes! (vo) with no surprise overages, you can use your data worry free and even carry over the data you don't use. and right now get four lines and 20 gigs for only $40 per line. and, just for the holidays, get the samsung galaxy s7 edge for only $15 per month. no trade-in required. i love you in that, no, i love you in that. no, i love you in that! (vo) hurry, these offers end soon. get the best deals and the best network, only on verizon.
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political team. tonight, donald trump's new d.c. hotel is getting busier as his inauguration gets closer. questions about possible conflicts of interest are intensifying. let's bring in our global affairs correspondent, over at the trump hotel, that's just down the street from the white house. what's going on there right now? >> reporter: well, wolf, today there was a big reception by the bahrainians, and one ambassador told me they thought this was going to be the beginning, saying it's a great way to make brownie points with the next administration. but while this hotel is drawing in a lot of customers, it's also creating a lot of controversy. [ applause ] donald trump's new five-star hotel in the historic old post office is the place to be for washington insiders, looking to make in roads with the president-elect. >> i think it's beautiful. >> reporter: today, diplomats
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and u.s. officials descended on the hotel for bahrain's national day of celebration. and the heritage foundation, with ties to the transition, invited their donors to the hotel, to hear from vice president-elect mike pence. >> i often tell people, you know, other than a whole lot of zeros, donald trump and i have a lot in common. [ laughter ] a lot. >> reporter: sales were soft when the property opened in december, despite promotion by the candidate himself. >> this is the most coveted piece of real estate in washington, d.c., the best location. >> reporter: but that all changed after election night. just days later, diplomats packed a ballroom to hear a sales pitch, a new level of luxury in d.c. with unparalleled service. the aggressive marketing is paying off. the hotel is almost fully booked
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for holiday parties and sold out for inaugural weekend. trump even pointing to its prime location on his visit to capitol hill. but it's not without controversy, next week, an embassy is hosting a hanukkah party. the organizers cited the kosher food and availability. but others are objecting. >> they say that the party is a celebration of religious freedom and diversity, and when you compare that to the messages that have come from the trump campaign for the last years, that is exactly opposite of what we've been hearing. >> reporter: some diplomats add mitt spending money at trump's hotel is a friendly gesture to the new president. others commend the hotel's impeccable service. but critics worry foreign
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governments will patronize the hotel to curry favor with the president-elect. a clause in the u.s. constitution warns "no person holding any office can profit from any foreign government." >> the president of the united states is not an inn keeper. certainly not for foreign diplomats. and in order to be an effective president, he's going have to make this change over to being president. >> reporter: trump's conflict of interests aren't just with who is staying in the hotel. he may be in violation of the hotel's 60-year lease, which stipulates, no elected official shall be admitted to any part of the lease. we're supposed to hear from donald trump in the next few weeks about how he is going to transfer his businesses, including the hotel, to his family before he takes office. but wolf, the controversy is not limited to this washington hotel. lebron james of the cleveland cavaliers and some of his teammates said they are not
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planning to stay at their scheduled accommodations at the trump hotel in soho when they come this week to new york to play the new york knicks. >> elise, thank you very much. so gloria, on december 15th, trump is going to have a news conference to explain how he's separating himself from his personal businesses. how important is it that he convinces the american public that he's not going to profit from any decision he making as president? >> i think it's important. the american people want to know you're working on their behalf, not on anybody else's behalf. if you look at the polling recently, 6 in 10 americans believe that what he's talked about so far, that is giving the business to the kids, really doesn't go far enough. we're going have to see what he does. i think in his own self-interest, he has to do it. otherwise, every decision he makes, whether it's with a foreign leader. this is an international business here, is going to be
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second guessed about whether that was because the trump organization has business there or because this is in the best interest of the united states. he understands that it's an issue of optics, as he put it. but i also think it really goes beyond that, and some people have suggested, and it's not a bad idea, to put somebody inside the white house who works for the white house counsel, whose sole job it is to monitor these potential conflicts, and make sure that there aren't any. an independent kind of a monitor. that might be some -- a good idea. >> it is unprecedented, the potential here. how do you see it? >> it's very difficult, right? because it's tangible assets that bear his name, even if he gives it to the kids, it's still called the trump hotel. everybody knows where the trump properties are. so everybody knows a way to curry favor.
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it's important he try to put up a firewall between him and the kids. this is an issue that can dog him his entire administration. and republicans are in a hard spot, because they focused like a laser on hillary clinton's corruption, hillary clinton's conflicts of interest. now they can't pretend they don't see these glaring conflicts of interests. for the good of the republican congress and the trump administration, he better figure out a way early to try to cut these conflicts, at least improve the perception right now. >> the republicans say they will have adequate oversight. trey gowdy on the oversight committee said that today. jas jason chaffetz say that. do you think they will do that? >> imagine back to january of 2009, if there was the obama hotel on pennsylvania avenue,
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how the republicans may have reaccused republicans, if it turns -- the issue turns against them may in fact start looking into this more closely. but right now they are more worried about challenges from the right than from the left. and right their base -- >> people are going to be watching all of this very, very closely, guys. thanks very much. we have much more news coming up right after a quick break. you tell your inthey made a mistake. the check they sent isn't enough to replace your totaled new car. the guy says they didn't make the mistake. you made the mistake. i beg your pardon? he says, you should have chosen full-car replacement. excuse me? let me be frank, he says. you picked the wrong insurance plan. no. i picked the wrong insurance company.
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tonight president obama looks back at the successes and struggles of his eight years in office. just weeks before hi leaves the white house, the president sat down with fareed zakaria. take a look. >> let me ask you if it's possible in your position to be completely honest and say the rise of the islamic state surprised you. it took you by surprise, it took the administration by surprise. >> the ability of isil to initiate major land offenses, that was not on my intelligence radar screen. >> reporter: everyone was stunned h. that a thank you thousand militants swept through iraq and syria sewing fear in the americans and the world.
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>> chop off the heads of the americans. chop off the heads of the french. chop off the heads of who will you will bring. >> they created a caliphate ruled by strict sharia law. meting out punishments in the most barbaric ways imaginable. >> fareed is joining us now. very honest disclosure from the president that he was caught off guard by the rise of isis. what else about his broader view in terror? >> reporter: he's really tried the fight terror in with his broader view which is this is not an existential threat. this is not like tanks marching through europe in the late 1930s. this is not like a global fom phenomenon. this is an isolated band of
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thugs and we should treat them as such. capture, kill them. keep them on the run but don't sacrifice our liberties. don't run scared. he talks about how he really wanted to draw down in afghanistan and iraq because he thought we were over extended there, we were over invested in the middle east. and i think there was a considerable success that we described in bringing those troops down from about 175,000 down to 15,000. yet pushing al qaeda and now isis through special operations bombing and drones. but then of course you have the reality that when america witt daus it does create more power vacuums and isis did step into that vacuum. as he says they were all caught off gourd about that. so we deal with the messiness of some of it. but obama to the end feels very strongly the discipline that you need is to not keep sending american troops every time there is a problem around the world.
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>> you also have a chance fareed to speak with the president about personal issues, about race for example, about his hardest moments in the oval office what. else can we expect to see in tonight's documentary? >> well we start with race. because it seemed to me and i said this to him, that the first line of barack obama's biography is not going to be something he did but who he is, the first african american president. and yet as i said to him you are biracial. in fact you are half white and you were raised by three white people. a mother and two grandparents who are scotch irish. how did he feel about that? and he goes into some length and depth about what, you know, how he sees being black in america. and we take you through how he tries to navigate each of the crises, racial crises take place during his president, the shootings. the traichb martin affair.
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and in each case he has this dilemma. he has to be postracial enough to appeal to the whole country. that is what i think so many people in america loved about him. and yet he has to realize he's a symbol for black america. he's somebody there they have invested enormous emotion and energy in. and he's constantly navigating the two poles. the first crisis is the henry louis gates the harvard professor who getsers a arreste outside of history own house trying to get into his on house. everything is going to be judged by is he the president who just happens to be black and also this unique leader of african americans. >> thank you so much for this report. we're going to be looking forward to it later tonight. fareed's special report will air
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9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific, only here an cnn. and that's it me for. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. a union boss says trump lied his ass off about saving carrier jobs. he's "outfront" tonight. and president trump today gushing about how much he likes obama. and this is true. how did it happen? let's go "outfront." i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, all time high. the dow today surging nearly 300 point. that puts it at a record. and it is thanks to donald trump. the dow up over 1200 points since he won the


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