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Trump's Son-in-Law Will Likely Have West Wing Office; Ridge, Former Sen. Lieberman Working on Bioterrorism Prevention; Trump Facing Criticism Over Intel Briefings; American Family Talks for First Time About ISIS Attack; Fed Raises Interest Rates for Second Time in a Decade; What Trump Wanted from Romney; Inside Ivanka Trump's D.C. House Hunt. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 14, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:39] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Top in this hour, breaking news on the Trump transition and closer scrutiny on Donald Trump's two grown sons, the ones who were supposed to take over the running of his business and leave the running of the government to their father.

First for the breaking news, let's go right to CNN's Phil Mattingly at Trump Tower. What are you learning tonight, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there's been a lot of talk about potential conflicts of interest but also the role of the family members in the President-elect's new administration, particularly, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, one of his closest advisers, a constant throughout the campaign by his side. What role would he play?

We're learning now from sources, is he will have a specific role in the West Wing? He's also likely to have an office in the West Wing?

Now, why does this matter? There are a lot of legal issues that that would entail, including anti-nepotism laws, including Jared Kushner's own holdings, how he would try and get rid of those.

Now, he has been working with a legal team to start to figure that out. We don't know of a specific title yet. There might not actually be one. But we do know he will have a role. And this is exactly what a lot of people have been talking about, Anderson, when it comes to potential conflicts of interest, conflicts of interest that were on display as the President-elect met with tech leaders today.


MATTINGLY: Tonight, Silicon Valley making its pilgrimage to Trump Tower.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm here to help you folks do well. And you're doing well right now, and I am very honored by the bounce. They're all talking about the bounce. So, right now, everybody on this room has to like me at least a little bit.

MATTINGLY: President-Elect Donald Trump sitting down with the titans of Tech, most of whom were sharply critical of him during the campaign.

A meeting attended by Trump's children, including sons Donald Jr. and Eric, the two men Trump has identified is in line to take over his business.

This despite repeated concerns over potential conflicts of interest. They're gathering just the latest in a series of face-to-face meetings between Trump and his former opponents and critics.

TRUMP: Thank you everybody.

MATTINGLY: Trump himself pointing out his once small stable of supporters with his latest stop of his "Thank You Tour" Tuesday night in Wisconsin with saying, "At least in the case of House Speaker Paul Ryan, things are headed in a better direction."

TRUMP: Speaker Paul Ryan. Where is the Speaker? Where is he? He has been -- I'll tell you, he has been terrific. And, you know, honestly, he's like a fine wine. Everyday goes by I get to appreciate his genius more and more. He is a great guy.

MATTINGLY: At least for now.

TRUMP: If he ever goes against me, I'm not going to say that. OK.

MATTINGLY: The Ryan/Trump relationship among the most crucial on Capitol Hill for Trump. His incoming Chief of Staff lays out this ambitious initial agenda.

REINCE PRIEBUS, U.S. CHIEF OF STAFF: I think we're probably going to lead with Obamacare repeal and then replace. Then, you'll have tax, you know, we'll have a small tax reform package and then a bigger tax reform package at the end of April.

MATTINGLY: Trump, also sharply defending his choice for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who is facing a tough confirmation process due to his business dealings with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: And, you know, Rex is friendly with many of the leaders in the world that we don't get along with. And some people don't like that. They don't want him to be friendly. That's why I'm doing the deal with Rex, because I like what this is all about.

[21:04:59] MATTINGLY: But it's the process for the Tillerson selection and in Trump's Interior secretary choice, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke that's raising, again, the very conflicts of interest questions Trump was supposed to address this week, instead, postponing that until January. Sources tell CNN, Donald Trump Jr. sat in on the meetings and interviews over the Interior position. And Eric Trump was involved throughout the State Department process.

This comes as Trump prepares to turn the office of the first lady into the office of the first family. One where his daughter Ivanka will have an office, sources tells CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His sons and his daughter and his son-in-law have played a very important role. They'll continue to provide counsel to him. Ultimately, he's always the decider.


COOPER: And Phil joins us now. What are you learning about the details of this tech meeting today?

MATTINGLY: Well, the President-elect's team put out kind of a long list of things that were discussed. But one source with direct knowledge of the meeting said there was really three primary focuses. Jobs, immigration and policy as it pertains to China.

Now, these are all issues that over the course of the general election campaign, most tech titans, most of Silicon Valley disagreed and split with the President-elect Donald.

We saw today in the meeting and speaking to people that were familiar with the meeting, some people that were in the meeting. They are they're trying to figure out a way to bridge those gaps to come back together.

One important to note in the wake of this meeting, one source says, they agree to do this quarterly. There's a recognition. Both sides need one another, even if they didn't always agree during the campaign. Anderson?

COOPER: Phil Mattingly. Phil, thanks.

Now, the question of what President Trump will know and when he'll know it, he's all remember, he's down played the idea that the president's daily intelligence brief will be a daily thing with him.

He's been getting them weekly and more recently bumped it up to three times a week. However, number of intelligence experts including former heads of the CIA think that is a bad idea, and one today, Leon Panetta issued a pretty dire warning.

Joining us tonight is founding a secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

Governor, someone who has received briefings on a daily basis, intelligence briefings, how important is it for a president to get those briefings every single day?

TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY: I think it's a critical in his -- to take the opportunity, as he did I'm sure as a businessman to learn more about his adversaries on the other side. Except on this occasion as of January 20th, Anderson, he doesn't represent Trump Inc., he representatives the United States of America.

And I think he was a successful businessman because he understood the other side. In those daily briefings in a tumultuous world, probably, the most complicated tension-filled world we've had in modern times to be absolutely critical in order for him to do his job as president of the United States.

The actors change. The -- you'll see trends. The threats change on a 24-hour basis. So, I think it's very critical and I suspect that once he gets there on January 20th, understanding that his Cabinet secretaries will be getting similar briefings in order to lead and direct their action.

I'm pretty comfortable in saying as a successful businessman, he'll appreciate the value added that those briefings give him and give him the advantage as he deals with our adversaries.

COOPER: The former CIA Director as you know, Leon Panetta said today that Donald Trump risked being blamed for any potential attack on United States if he refused to receive more intelligence briefings.

He said, "If we endure another attack and the intelligence officials had indications or information regarding that attack and the president did not want to listen to that for whatever reason, the responsibility for that attack would fall on the president." Do you agree with that?

RIDGE: That's a pretty accurate assumption. That's a pretty accurate assessment. I mean, day in and day out, and we -- and I can say this based on my own experience. Some days, we had a couple of pages and threats, other days we had a couple of dozen pages of threats. And that was just as related to terrorism, right.

He will lead us in a much more complicated world. And a failure to understand the nature of the enemy and what the enemy is doing and failed to hid any of the preliminary signs of confrontation, and that's what intelligence briefings were all about, the peril of that and the responsibility for that will fall squarely on his shoulders.

COOPER: So, when Donald Trump says as president-elect, he says he doesn't need to be told the same things over and over again, that they didn't can call him quickly when something changes, you say there is a cumulative value in daily briefings?

RIDGE: There's not only a cumulative value, Anderson, threats can change overnight. So it's not like pick up the phone and call me when events differ or circumstances change.

I think he'll find early on, as it relates to some of the nation- states we are confronting with or the threat of terrorism that a 24- hour period, there could be a dramatic shift in the nature of the threat and the nature of activities directed to America, our interests, and our allies as well.

So, there maybe a little on-the-job training, but the thing he needs to understand is they're driven to keep America safe and secure. He wants to make America great again. That's his mission. He is committed to it. But in order to make America great, you've got to keep it safe, and at the heart of all that is accepting and understanding the intelligence that the men and women of the intelligence community provide to you every single day.

[21:10:06] COOPER: You know, we've been focusing so much on the treat from hacking in cyberwarfare, you've been focusing though on bioterrorism and there are huge concerns about this. And it probably has not gotten the attention it deserves. What can Donald Trump do as the next president to better safeguard the United States against bioterrorism?

RIDGE: Well, that is probably -- the threat of bioterrorism is probably the most grossly underestimated national security and economic threat that we deal with.

And I think one of the things as I understand with President-elect Trump is going to do, it seems to me that the vice president is going to have a great deal of authority and perhaps even autonomy in certain areas.

And so, these bipartisan counts, the three Republicans and the three Democrats, we've developed a blueprint to deal with the bioterrorism and the threats associated with it.

And we frankly would ask this president to put the vice president in charge. There is no comprehensive plan. There is no comprehensive budget. There are no budget priorities set.

And we can no longer plead surprise that the country may be hit with a pathogen that's contagious. We've got Zika, you had Ebola, you got H1N1.

So, I think if the president is looking to make America great, that's his goal, he also has to make it safe. That should be the other goal. And putting the vice president, give him the authority to oversee this direct funding, coordinate activities between these disparate agencies. They're all over the place, they're well intentioned.

But we grossly underestimate how ill-prepared we are for the threat of the infectious disease, whether Mother Nature throws it at us, whether the terrorists throw it at us or a nation-state or, frankly, whether or not unfortunately one of our labs fails to protect these toxins and these pathogens as they must.

COOPER: Governor Ridge, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

RIDGE: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Let's bring in some additional perspective. Joining us is Berkeley professor of Public Policy and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. He's the author of, "Saving Capitalism: For the Many Not the Few". Also back with us is Trump supporter and former Reagan White House Political pancho, Jeffrey Lord, not technically his title, but we like it anyway. Jeff, you just heard Former Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, agree that if a terror attack happens and intelligence found that attack was in a briefing that President-Elect Trump didn't listen to or want to read, then responsibility for that attack would lie with Trump. Do you agree with that?

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I mean, of course that would be true. But I just -- look, Donald Trump is a very smart guy. He is an executive. Every president comes in the office and figures out their own method of doing this.

I think Secretary Reich would know better than I do, but I think that President Clinton read his reports. Some presidents want somebody sitting there knee-to-knee with them.

Ronald Reagan received some briefings via videotape and film. So, Donald Trump is going have his own style, but certainly, he is going to take responsibility for the security and safety of the country.

One of his mottos here was, "Make America Safe Again." So, I have no idea -- no doubt whatsoever that he'll find his own medium on this and do it the right way.

COOPER: Secretary Reich is -- I mean to that -- to Jeffrey's point, is too much emphasis being put on the president's daily brief?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, I don't know that too much emphasis is being put on it, Anderson. The point is that Donald Trump, President-elect, has said that he doesn't really feel it's necessary to have a daily briefing.

Now, that's before he is even president. That's even before he's had the daily briefing. That's before he knows what is in the daily briefing, which seems to me the height of either arrogance or a kind of self-inflated ego here because you've got to be president and at least have some experience as to how much and those briefings are -- how important they are, how much information is in them that you need.

I would say, given that I've been around or served four presidents, that those daily briefings are terribly important and the president needs every bit of information a president can get.

He is making decisions that are -- that affect millions, if not billions of people around the world. And you don't want to take any chances that you might miss something. You certainly don't want to pre-guess whether you need daily briefings before you even get to the White House.

COOPER: To the idea though that different presidents do it different ways and people absorb information in different ways, Secretary Reich, do you think there is validity to that?

REICH: Well, obviously, people have different brains and they absorb information in different ways. And I hope that Donald Trump finds a way that is best for him, but simply to scoff it all off and say, hey, like I'm a really smart guy, doesn't really do justice to what is at stake here.

Several of the presidents that I have worked with were also very and are still very smart guys. That is not the point. The point is you can't wing it. You can't wing foreign policy. You can't wing being a president. You've got to take it extremely seriously. You can't run businesses on the side. You've got to focus on being a president.

[21:15:00] COOPER: It does seem, Jeff, that -- I mean, one danger -- and it's a danger for any administration, I'm not singling out Donald Trump, is that, if you're not receiving raw data, raw intelligence, if you're relying on other people in around you, in your Cabinet, your vice president, your national security adviser, whomever to kind of sift through the raw intelligence and give you what they think you need, you are open to their viewpoints being given more weight than just the raw intelligence and your own reading of it.

LORD: Sure. But the raw intelligence reflects somebody's judgment. Somebody at the CIA or, you know, one of the national security agencies. I mean, it reflects. I mean, these things don't write themselves. They're written by human beings. So I guess, really do think ...

COOPER: The concern is politicalization though of the intelligence.

LORD: Right. Right. I just think some of this is being overblown here. And, frankly, I do think that Vice President Pence is going to take a role here and be a very, you know, like a lot of vice presidents since Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter gave this kind of a role-to-role to Mondale. And a lot of vice president since have had very important role most recently for Vice President Biden and Vice President Cheney.

I think Vice President Pence is going to follow in that step, you know, he is going to be very well-briefed on this. The president is going to have his information. There's no question in my mind about that.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick -- go ahead.

REICH: You know what worries -- I'll tell you. Anderson, what worries me a little bit about this is that Donald Trump on the campaign trail and even now as president-elect has had a rather informal relationship to facts.

In fact, some might say he lives in a fact-free universe. Facts for Donald Trump are means to winning games or winning contests. Here, when he is going to be president, it's not a matter of facts being relative. It's not a matter of kind of a carelessness about facts.

When you're dealing with facts governing foreign policy, governing a kind of three-dimensional chess board that is America in the world today, and if you want to keep America safe, you've got to pay attention to the facts and the details.

Now, every president in modern history has had an intelligence briefing every day. That much stand for something when you decide whether you are going to have it or not.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We'll have -- pick this up when we come back. And later, new reporting on what Donald Trump wanted from Mitt Romney in exchange for making him Secretary of State. Let's just say that, in addition to that dinner they had, there was perhaps helping of crow for dessert or potentially.

Also tonight only on CNN, four children and their dad speak out for the very first time about the terror attack they barely survived and their mother did not. What it was like to live through the attack on the airport in Brussels and how they had battled back since then?


[21:21:03] COOPER: We're talking about the world Donald Trump is facing as he enters office. Let's start now with the economy in a world appears to of here's be good. The Fed today raising interest rates, a sign they believe of continuing growth.

Back with Jeffrey Lord and Robert Reich.

So Mr. Secretary, I mean, the economy seems to be doing well enough that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percent point today. How does President Trump finesse making changes while not making mistakes?

REICH: Well, Anderson, he's going to obviously make some mistakes. I mean, presidents do make mistakes. Presidents don't really run the economy. The economy runs itself. Presidents either create conditions conducive to the economy doing better or not. And the real issue today is not so much overall growth, that is obviously important. The real issue is wages and jobs.

Most people over the last 35 years have not really seen their wages increase, adjusted for inflation. In fact, the bottom half of the American workforce has actually seen their wages drop, adjusted for inflation. And that really, to me, signals that there is an experiment that failed and that experiment is called trickle-down economics. Give tax breaks to the rich and you'll hope that it trickles down to everybody else.

Well, Donald Trump has talked a lot about trickle-down economics. And frankly that worries me.

COOPER: Jeffrey Lord.

LORD: Frankly, what worries me is cronynomics, which is what the basic maybe the policy of the Obama administration was, where they take taxes from everybody else out there and then dole out the money to their cronies like Solyndra. I mean, that just this -- is a top- down system that's not going to work.

The economy grows from the bottom up by people opening businesses and having the ability to deal with less regulation and have more money in their pockets. That's the way it's always done. And you can call it trickle-down economics or anything else, but having worked for Jack Kemp, I believe we called this supply-side economics, which was actually classical economics and it worked.

COOPER: Secretary Reich, I mean the people pointed the stock market has gone up, that, you know, Donald Trump talks about it, serve (ph) a Trump bump since he won the election. Is it -- should people be looking at that as reflecting something real?

REICH: No. I mean, it's real to the extent that you are wealthy and you have a lot of stock at the top. You know, richest 10 percent of Americans own 80 percent of all the shares of stock in America including retirement savings. I mean, what the stock increase means, why the shares of stock are going up is because a lot of companies anticipate there's going to be a big corporate tax cuts. And that means more profits and more profits means higher share prices.

This has nothing to do with average working Americans. And the real issue here, and the issue that we need to be paying attention to is Donald Trump was elected largely because a lot of people are insecure economically, they're worried about their jobs, they're worried about their wages, they've been working harder and harder and getting nowhere. And Donald Trump has promised that those working people of America are going to do much better.

Well, I hope that they realize when he does start cutting taxes on the wealthy and nothing trickles down. I hope they realize that they are not only in real terms worse off but they are also going to be relatively worse off.

LORD: Well, they voted for Donald Trump precisely because they felt they were worse off. The polls showed leading up to the election that 70 percent of the country thought that the country was going in the wrong direction, and that included economics. So they want to turn away from this. I mean, this just didn't work. It never works. I mean, this is why, at its more extreme form, other socialism doesn't work. So the American ...

REICH: Wait a minute. Jeffrey, what's the this that doesn't work? I mean, the Republican Congress basically stopped spending money and wanted to turn to deficit reduction, felt that basically austerity economics was the way to go and that Republican Congress controls the budget and we have had the results of austerity economics now for a number of years, which is basically not enough stimulus to keep the economy going and to keep people employed.

[21:25:03] The actual percentage of the labor force employed today is almost at a record low. This is something Donald Trump talked about when he was during the election, and he was actually right about this.

LORD: The labor ...

REICH: This is a problem.

LORD: As you would know, the labor participation rate is the worst it's been since the 1970s when of course Jimmy Carter was in office and did some version of the same thing. This is the eternal argument. I imagine we're going to be arguing about this if we're living another 17 lives 150 years from now. But this simply doesn't work. It hasn't worked. It didn't work for President Obama.

COOPER: Secretary Reich, final thought and then we have to go.

REICH: Well, look it, I certainly hope that what we see in the future is an increase in real wages and a lot of jobs. If Donald Trump can deliver that, then I will salute his presidency. But he's not doing anything, anything at all, that suggests that that is going to be the direction he works in and moves in. In fact, his entire Cabinet is full of billionaires and CEOs of big companies ...

LORD: Who know how to make money.

REICH: ... who has spent most of their time actually -- no. They know how to reduce wages. They create profits by actually shipping jobs abroad and squeezing wages and fighting unions. That is not helpful to working people.

COOPER: Robert Reich, Jeffrey Lord. Gentlemen, thank you.

Coming up, to be continued. Meetings at Trump Tower and dinner in a fancy restaurant notwithstanding Mitt Romney did not get the Secretary of State job. Now we are learning some of the back story about something Trump fairly or some folks around Donald Trump wanted him to do that he would not. That's next.


[21:29:58] COOPER: Welcome back. The search for a Secretary of State in President-elect Trump's Cabinet may be over but the behind the scenes drama is just starting to come into focus. We are learning some of the back story involved and Mitt Romney being considered for the job. Sources close to Romney said that Trump wanted Romney to do something he simply refused to do. Publicly apologize, say that he was wrong about Donald Trump during the campaign.

CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel has been looking into this. She joins me now.

So, this apology that President-elect Trump currently wanted from Mitt Romney, what did your sources been telling you about that?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, you know, when someone calls you a fake, a phony, a conman, I mean, let's just put it out there, Mitt Romney was blistering during the campaign. And it apparently, at the beginning, Donald Trump was willing to let bygones be bygones. But you remember, Anderson, around Thanksgiving, Kellyane Conway, Steve Bannon, other advisers came out publicly against Mitt Romney. And what we're told happened at that point was Donald Trump went to Mitt Romney and said, "Look, I need you to say you were wrong. I need you to apologize to help placate the people who are critics."

We've also been told it wasn't just Donald Trump, that Reince Priebus asked him to do it. Mike Pence asked him to do it. These were two Mitt Romney allies who wanted him to get the job. But there's a book that Mitt Romney wrote, Anderson, it is called "No Apology", and Mitt Romney declined to say he was wrong. He was willing to be positive going forward, but he was not going to apologize. And if that cost him Secretary of State, so be it.

I would just add there, there is an irony here. Donald Trump is not known for apologizing, right? So it's just sort of an interesting point here that this may have been one of the things that cost Mitt Romney the job.

COOPER: Well, I guess that's my next question. Do we know, was it just one of the things, or was it just about the apology? Or was it also because of their obvious differences and ideology and expressed differences?

GANGEL: Right. I think there were a number of things. I think the "No Apology" didn't help and that Trump's advisers were really did not want Romney and weighed in obviously heavily. But there is no question, these two men had completely different world views, on NATO, on Syria, and what's most important, on Russia.

Mitt Romney is from the school of he doesn't trust Russia, you can't trust Vladimir Putin. And as we've seen time and time again, Donald Trump thinks he can make a deal with these guys. And clearly we saw -- we're seeing now, in his pick of Rex Tillerson, someone who also thinks he can make a deal with Putin. So a much closer world view.

There's one other thing that we heard, and that was that Trump advisers kept saying to Trump, "You know what, I'm not sure you can trust Mitt Romney to be a loyal team player because he's his own man. He has his own status. He has his own power base." And that, I'm told, was also of concern to Trump, that Mitt Romney didn't owe him anything, Anderson.

COOPER: Jamie, stay with us. I want to bring back the panel.

David, I mean, what do you make of Jamie's reporting? I mean it's interesting this idea of insisting an apology.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. I certainly don't think that alone was the deal-breaker as Jamie said. That was part of a larger thing. Just imagine for a moment, you remember last night, Paul Ryan, he mentioned on stage in Wisconsin, and Paul Ryan gets booed. Imagine what the Trump crowd in a Trump rally would do if he introduce Mitt Romney on stage as his Secretary of State. It wasn't that Donald Trump necessarily needed that apology, but Mitt Romney is somebody -- and I think this is what Kellyane Conway was getting at and some of the other opponents inside, that were so anathema to the entire Trump support network then it just was a puzzle piece that wasn't going to fit.

COOPER: Because it's interesting, I mean, Mary Katharine, you have Rick Perry, who was one of the first candidates, came out with a blistering speech ...


COOPER: Well, cancer -- on conservativism, but also questioning his faith, questioning, you know, the -- his beliefs, whether he really had deep religious beliefs. Clearly, Perry, you know, he spoke at the convention, so he had clearly ...

HAM: Right.

COOPER: ... made amends before that. But I don't think he's -- to my knowledge, hasn't made an apology for what he have said. I don't ...

HAM: He did sort of back off more than Mitt Romney did. And I think there are so many differences between these two people. And as much as Donald Trump is an enigma and what is he thinking now is -- and he's a showman. I think Mitt Romney is a straightforward guy and he has, as we've seen, sometimes to his deficit, not a showman. And I think he went into this thinking, "I am being seriously considered. I'm going to go through this." And he probably thought, "Am I wrong about Trump?" And he probably said that, "No, I'm not wrong about Trump and I'm not willing to be richly humiliated in this process so I'm just going to leave it at that."

[21:35:05] COOPER: I mean, Kirsten, what you make of it?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Well, for the one -- one thing I think maybe a difference between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney sort of made it his cause, right, to come out and really blast Trump and try to stop Trump in a very high-profile way. So, you know, perhaps there's more bad feelings there. It does seem to mostly be coming more from the staff around Trump than actually Trump. Trump seems like maybe he was able to move past it.

CHALIAN: And Rick Perry was an actual opponent.



POWERS: Right, right, yeah.

COOPER: Right. Romney inserted himself.

CHALIAN: Exactly.

POWER: Yeah, I would like to know more about how much of this was apology versus world view. Because if he was seriously considering him and it was just about the apology, then that was kind of undermine this narrative that's emerged about Trump looking for somebody who share his world view on Russia and that's why he's chosen Rex Tillerson. If in fact he was fine with Romney and Romney had a pretty different point of view, it would undermine this idea that he was searching for a Russia stooge, right? But we don't know. Maybe that was a factor.

COOPER: And Jamie, what did you heard about the idea that Romney and Trump actually liked each other in the -- these meetings? I mean, how did they -- do we know how they actually got along?

GANGEL: Apparently -- and maybe this is the biggest surprise. They really apparently did get along. One person said to me, "You know, Mitt made it hard on Trump because he surprised him." And when they came out of that dinner that we saw, I'm told that Trump said to people, "You know, I really like him," as if he was surprised.

But everything else, I've been told, was that when Romney went into this, he knew, as someone said, that this was going to be a knife fight, it was not guaranteed, but in his mind he was treated fairly, with respect, and that he was not being paraded because Trump wanted to get him back for this, that he was in serious contention throughout.

COOPER: It was interesting, Matt, because when Romney came out of that dinner at a Trump hotel, you know, that very public dinner that Reince Priebus was also at, you know, he talked about that he liked what Trump had said on election night, he talked about the transition. Almost as if it all had begun, a new then as opposed to anything about what had been in the past?

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY CALLER: Yeah. And I think that was the deal that Mitt Romney kind of made with himself and with Trump is that going forward, I'm going to be positive. But look, I do suspect that in the back of his head, and if I was tag Romney talking to my dad whom I love dearly, who I think is a good and courageous man, as I'm sure he does, I would say -- there would be a part of me that thinks maybe this is about humiliating my dad. Maybe this is about getting my dad to grovel publicly before you give Tillerson the job as Secretary of State.

The other thing that really strikes me about this story as well is how Donald Trump got played by his advisers. I mean, very clearly, they calculated that instead of having a private personal meeting with him, we're going to go public. And it worked. They influenced him in his decision.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody on the panel. Jamie as well. Thank you so much.

Just ahead, a CNN exclusive, for the first time, an American family talks about the ISIS attack that shattered their lives nine months ago in the Brussels Airport.


[21:41:04] COOPER: Tonight a CNN exclusive. An American family talks for the first time about the terror attack that shattered their world nine months ago. They were at the Brussels Airport in March when ISIS attackers struck. Like the other victims, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Barbara Starr tonight reports.


KIANI MARTINEZ: I am pushing through it every day. And it's difficult to go through the pain. But you have to look forward.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: For 18-year-old Kiani Martinez, her brother and sisters, there is utter devastation beyond the pain of burnt shrapnel and broken bones.

Their mother, Gayle was killed. All four children and their father Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Kato Martinez were among the Americans critically wounded in the March ISIS suicide bomber attack on the Brussels Airport.

Lieutenant Colonel Martinez was just back from Afghanistan. They've been waiting to check in for a flight to go on vacation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The local media are reporting an exchange of gunfire and they're reporting that this was a bomb blast.

STARR: Thirty five people were killed, 300 wounded when ISIS attackers detonated bombs hidden in suitcases at the airport departure area.

In their first interview ever, the family wants the world to know what ISIS took from them when Gayle died that day.

STARR: Tell me about your mm. What do you want people to know about her?

KIANI MARTINEZ: I live every day because of her. I live every day for her. And to remember her. And to honor her.

STARR: Kiani says her mother was everything to the family. This young teenager is unflinching.

KIANI MARTINEZ: I think it's important for me to talk about this. At 18, where you supposed to be going to college, becoming independent, having been prepared for everything by your parents and then trying to learn for yourself what the real world is like. The real world slapped me in the face on March 22nd. And I'm not going to forget that.

STARR: Kiani was supposed to be in college by now.

KIANI MARTINEZ: When I heard news that I was awarded an Air Force ROTC scholarship, the first person I told was momma. And she was so proud.


STARR: Lieutenant Colonel Martinez now raising four children on his own, grieving his wife and recovering from his own injuries. Photos of happier times with Gayle in Europe while Lieutenant Colonel Martinez held a NATO job.

KATO MARTINEZ: I later learned I took most of the shrapnel, the whole shrapnel. Because my son took the secondary wave when he got the burn, the flame. I didn't lose consciousness. I was blasted forward. And I knew I was bleeding because I felt blood coming from my ear.

STARR: Martinez instantly feared the worst.

KATO MARTINEZ: My first instinct was to look for my children and for my wife. I couldn't find my son nor my two youngest. I heard screaming, and I found Kiani. The fact that she was screaming, I knew that she was alive, she was coherent.

And I went to look for her mom. I said, I'll be right back. I went to look for her mom. I knew I was bleeding out, and my body was going into shock. So I closed my eyes and welcomed it. And figured I'd join my wife and my three kids.

[21:45:04] But as I was slipping away, I heard a little girl call out to me. "Daddy, don't you go. Don't you leave me." And just when I thought, you know, I was enveloped by a darkness and ready to go to sleep, I heard her voice and decided to come back.

STARR: Then the unimaginable, Gayle, the love of his life, was gone.

KATO MARTINEZ: The story I got from one of the first responders regarding my baby, the youngest one, was that they found her in Gayle's arms. When they got to her, they told her, we got the baby now. She's going to be OK. And that's when they looked up -- she looked up to them, smiled and closed her eyes for the last time.

STARR: Lieutenant Colonel Martinez would not learn the rest of his family survived until he woke up in a Belgian hospital. Initially, he could not be moved out of bed to even see them. Military buddies came to the hospital to make sure the children were never alone.

KATO MARTINEZ: They did shifts around the clock, making sure that my children were taken care of and there were always -- there was always a friendly face there.

STARR: Now, home is Texas. The family is very slowly getting through its days. The two youngest, seven-year-old Kilani and her nine-year- old sister Nolani recovering from their injuries, now tiny master chefs in the kitchen.

NOLANI MARTINEZ: And then we're waiting for the rice so we can put it on top. Smash it down to straighten it and then wrap the seaweed around it.

STARR: At physical therapy, 13-year-old Kimo loosens his burn scar tissue that covers his lower body so that he can play sports again. This American military family, grief-stricken, but honoring their mother, killed by terrorists by recovering and regaining the lives they know she wanted for them.

KATO MARTINEZ: I see her in the faces of my children. I see her in this house. I see her in the people that come to help us. I see her in all the things that are -- have been done for us to support us, to help us. All the good things that happened.

STARR: It's more than just physical therapy to climb this wall. For the Martinez family, total determination, just get to the mountaintop and ring that bell.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Barbara Starr joins us now. I mean, a seven-year-old, a nine-year-old, a 13-year-old, an 18-year-old, now all without their mom. What is next for them?

STARR: It's so remarkable. This was such a remarkable family to meet. The two older ones, Kiani, the 18-year old, she is determined to get back into the ROTC, get that scholarship and go to college but she just had more surgery last week. Her father told me a couple of days ago, she's still in a lot of pain but she is determined to get back. And 13-year-old Kimo, the young man, I asked him if he had a college plan now that he's 13 and he said to me, I have had a college plan since I was six years old. He wants to go to MIT ...


STARR: ... and study mechanical engineering. I said, "What are you going to do with that?" And he says he's going to design high-end sports cars.

COOPER: Wow, an incredibly strong family. I mean, I wish them the best.

STARR: There they are. They truly are remarkable.

COOPER: Yeah. (Inaudible), I mean, you know, these are news stories that we cover, and then, you know, days events take over and many people move on, but for families who have been in something like this, who've lost a love one ...

STARR: This is forever.

COOPER: It's forever ...

STARR: It is forever. They had not wanted to talk until now, and they decided they wanted to talk because they wanted to talk about their mother.

COOPER: Yeah. An incredible job they did talk about their mom.

Barbara, thank you so much for that reporting.

We'll have more news ahead, there's breaking news about the role Ivanka Trump's husband will likely play in the White House. We'll have more on that ahead.


[21:51:51] COOPER: Breaking news tonight as we reported earlier Ivanka Trump's husband, Jared Kushner, will likely have a West Wing office, though, his exact role in the administration not yet known. Sources also say that Ivanka Trump will be using an office in the East Wing usually known as the first lady's office. Also they are house hunting in D.C. Sunlen Serfaty tonight reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: With the incoming administration, the nation's capital is getting a boost of new glitzy, glamorous and mega rich residents. Each now on the hunt for a premier Washington address. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are preparing to move to D.C. with their three young children. Sources tell CNN this past Sunday they were out house shopping in the ritzy northwest neighborhood of Georgetown.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I'm incredibly proud to play a small role in debunking this caricature of what a working woman looks like.

SERFATY: They could go the iconic route, snatching up one of the hottest listings in D.C., Jackie Kennedy Onassis's former six bedroom 5.5 bathroom mansion with a price tag of $9 million. Or just blocks away something more in line with the Manhattan apartment they live in now. This sprawling penthouse condo at the Ritz-Carlton Residences clocking in as the most expensive condo on the market in Washington at nearly $12 million.

A DC's new power couple are the only well-healed headed to Washington in the market for a new home.

CHRITIE-ANNE WEISS, VICE PRESIDENT, TTR SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY: We know that there are new Cabinet members searching for real estate already, and they're out and about.

SERFATY: Since Election Day, high-end luxury real estate agents say the top echelon of their business is booming at a level not seen during the previous changing of the guards between administrations due to the striking amount of deep-pocketed future White House officials flooding Washington. Trump's Cabinet picks forming a long line of multimillionaires and billionaires all ready to fork over big bucks and putting a priority on opulence.

CHRISTOPHER RITZERT, VICE PRESIDENT, TTR SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY: The first people who have arrived had expressed a strong preference for luxury properties and turn key condition and in excellent locations closed in.

SERFATY: Among those posh neighborhood that fits the bill, the northwest neighborhood of Kalorama where the Obamas will be renting their post White House home. The storied Watergate Hotel, home of some of the luminaries of the administration's path and the Massachusetts Heights neighborhood which boast the most expensive home for sale right now in D.C. a lavish $20 million estate.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, coming up next tonight, something we have not done for quite a while. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the return of "The RidicuList" after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:57:35] COOPER: Well, it's been quite a while since we ended the program with "The RidicuList". But as we enter New Year, we wanted to bring it back. Now more than ever, I think we can all agree that what America needs every once in a while is a good old-fashioned story about a kangaroo or something.

This is from where else, but Australia, where kangaroo had disguised poor dog in a full-on headlock. You see the dog there down under the kangaroo's armpit. So the guy rushes in to save his dog and that's when it got real. The guy punched the kangaroo in the face. And the kangaroo is stunned. What you see next is one dazed and confused kangaroo.

Let's just take another look at this. They square up against each other and boom, and look at the kangaroo. He can't believe what happened.

Now, listen, please do not tweet at me. I know there are people who think it is very mean to punch a defenseless kangaroo. But kangaroos are strong and could have kicked or clawed the dog's eyes out or even the guy's. Also, how did you know the kangaroo didn't have a knife in its pouch? Kidding, of course, because that would be absurd because it is, in fact, a male kangaroo, and as such, does not even have a pouch. And thus ends the complete list of absolutely everything I know about kangaroos.

Bottom line, the guy was protecting his dog. Who among you would not spar with any manner of marsupial to protect your pet? I personally go for Rocky Balboa on the world's cutest and (inaudible) koalas. It was so much as gave my doggy a body help review. The whole thing actually reminded us of a "RidicuList" of your.

One of our favorite dog owning heroes who told a harrowing tale of man versus beast all while holding a tiny little Chihuahua.


CARL: I running from nothing. I never have in my whole life and I ain't going to start now and you're not going to sacrifice my babies for some damn bear.


COOPER: That's right. He's now coming back to me. Carl went toe to toe with a bear that came up on his pooch -- excuse me, on his porch, while his little dog -- actually did make that mistake -- while his little dog was out there. I cannot remember exactly how it turned out, though.


CARL: I raised both hands in the air and I cussed at him. Yeah, get out, [ bleep ], you know, and he looked at me like go "F" yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carl landed a whirling hay maker, punching the bear right in the face. CARL: Come up like this and he turned boom, I hit him hard. The man or beast that I run from ain't been born and it's mama's already dead.


COOPER: I don't even know what that means. His mama's already dead?

[22:00:00] Anyway, it's like I always say, the bear or kangaroo ain't been born yet, and messes with the dog owner and winds up anywhere except on the loosing end of a feast and under "RidicuList."

Hey, that does it for us. Thanks for watching. CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.