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Obama Vows Action Against Russia for Hacks; Ivanka Trump's White House Role; Trump Twitter Tirade; Trump's Tangled Business Ties; Aired 11-12a ET
Aired December 15, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Relationship with Russia when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in just 36 days?
Meanwhile the Trumps are keeping it all in the family. First daughter-to-be Ivanka reportedly making calls to members of Congress about one of her pet causes, childcare, as the president-elect unleashes some tough talk on Twitter. No, he's not targeting the Russians, not even his political opponents here at home. Trump is hot under the collar about a bad review of a Trump Tower restaurant. Will he put personal beefs aside when it's time for him to run the country? We'll see.
Let's get right to CNN's -- let's get right to "Vanity Fair's," I should say, Emily Jane Fox, CNN's Mark Preston, Brian Stelter is here as well, and "Washington Post's" Philip Bump.
Mark, I'm going to go with you for the news now because a U.S. official briefed on the investigation tell CNN that Russian cyber hacking activity has continued largely unabated since the November U.S. election including against U.S. political organizations.
There's been some back and forth between the White House and the transition team. What can you tell us about that, Mark Preston?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, you know, as you said at the top of the -- at the top of the show that Barack Obama has come out and he has told NPR that, in fact, the U.S. is going to take retaliatory action. When that will happen and how that will happen he wouldn't say.
We also know that a senior campaign -- a Clinton campaign official was told as recently as just a couple of weeks ago that their private Gmail accounts were still under attack by a private state actor. So we're actually still seeing the Russians continuing to try to meddle into the political system here.
We also know that Barack Obama took this up with Vladimir Putin back in September. Apparently had addressed it head on with Putin about this. So as we stand right now, we have this back and forth, Don, as we've talked about this throughout the day and will continue through tomorrow where you have the transition right now fighting back against the Obama administration, specifically Josh Earnest saying some tough things. LEMON: Everyone will get to weigh in on this in just a moment. But,
Mark, I want to go to some other news about -- you know, Hillary Clinton held a thank you celebration tonight with their top donors at the Plaza Hotel. Tell us what she said about it.
PRESTON: Well, she actually told the donors there that she --
LEMON: About this Russian hacking.
PRESTON: About -- this is the first time she's actually spoke about it or certainly has spoke about in public, that she's proud that she has stood up to Vladimir Putin and she thinks that this was a retaliatory action against her personally by Vladimir Putin because he was upset at her because of her criticism when she was the secretary of State about the parliamentary elections that took place in Russia.
LEMON: Interesting. Anybody else find that interesting? Yes?
PHILIP BUMP, WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
BUMP: I mean -- yes, I find that interesting. I mean, there are all sorts of reasons that this is beneficial to Vladimir Putin assuming that, you know, he had played the role that the intelligence agencies were saying beyond just getting back at Hillary Clinton. I think Julian Assange's role was probably very personal and directed at Hillary Clinton. I think that Putin's may have been a little broader than that.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Our colleague Jeff Zeleny quoting a donor who's at this event tonight saying Clinton called this an attack on our democracy. I'm really curious to see how far President Obama goes at his press conference. He has this end-of- the-year press conference 2:15 tomorrow. He's going to get asked about this repeatedly.
How far will he go? Will he go as far as Clinton has? And of course, how unsatisfying is all of this to Obama's supporters, to Clinton's voters, who don't feel like anything could be done now, anyway?
STELTER: There's all this buzz now.
LEMON: Thirty-six days. Yes.
STELTER: People wondering why are they only hearing about it now.
LEMON: Yes. And he's saying retaliation, but what does that mean? I mean, I've had a couple of Russian experts on who said we're in unchartered territory but Russia may indeed read this, Philip Bump, as sort of, you know, pointing toward war. Is that going too far, you think?
BUMP: I mean, it's -- I mean, as you said, unchartered territory. LEMON: Yes,
BUMP: I mean, this is a very particular type of action that is much easier to instantiate. I mean, some of your guests earlier pointing out this is not missiles on the border. Missiles on the border is hard to do. This is relatively easy to do and I think that that makes it a different sort of thing, right? I mean, I think that both America and Russia understands that this is a different type of combat and I'm not sure that it means down the road --
STELTER: It's not visual. You don't see it, we don't know about it.
BUMP: Right. And it's easy. It's not like --
STELTER: Actions against Iran, we didn't know about it for a long time afterward. I'm sure there are other cyber attacks. Dozens.
STELTER: We'll never know about. So it's not visual, people don't see it happen.
PRESTON: But everybody -- everybody engages in it. You know, for us -- I mean, for the viewers out there, this is -- we do this every day to our opponents as well. I mean, so we shouldn't be surprised by it.
LEMON: I want to -- let's talk about the business part of it now. Because Monica Langley of the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight that Trump will divest -- will not divest from his businesses. She was on with you earlier. What does that mean for Trump's bottom line and this is possibly why he postponed that press conference that was supposed to take place, his first in a number of months?
PRESTON: Well, a couple of things. One is oftentimes when you assume the office of the presidency when you leave it, that's when you make all your money. We saw that happen with the Clintons who have done very well in Bill Clinton's post-presidency. We saw that with George W. Bush.
With Donald Trump, he's entered very wealthy and very likely he's going to leave even wealthier because the fact of the matter is, he has so much business interest not only throughout the world but here in this country that people are going to try to curry favor with him and they'll do so by trying to favor his businesses.
[23:05:08] LEMON: An interesting topic that is being discussed a lot. Even from the campaign manager in Trump Tower. Maybe -- as we speak, but it certainly has for the last few weeks.
EMILY JANE FOX, STAFF WRITER, VANITY FAIR: Sure. But they're not discussing it publicly which I think is what the biggest issue is here. They're saying we were going to hold a press conference today, that press conference never happened. Now it's going to be scheduled for some unnamed date in January. I will be surprised if that happens. LEMON: Emily, I want to ask you because we found out tonight Ivanka
Trump has been calling members of Congress about childcare legislation. Do you think she has an uphill battle and -- with this?
FOX: I think it's a difficult thing to make anything --
LEMON: Is she maybe a little clueless about this?
FOX: Well, I think she's never done this before. So I don't know that I would necessarily call Ivanka clueless but she's inexperienced in this area. I think she will probably get a lot of help. There are no shortage of people who back this cause, who do this every day, who do this professionally who I'm sure Ivanka will either call on or they will call on Ivanka. But this is new ground for her. She's likely going to move to Washington in order to pursue this. But she's not someone who comes by Washington naturally. She has a lot to learn.
LEMON: Go ahead.
BUMP: I would just note on that, I remember asking Donald Trump a question at the Iowa State Fair back in August 2015. How are you going to deal with Congress? Like, you talk about all these things, what are you going to do to get things through Congress? I'll get them done. And he was pressed on it. But no how? The same way I dealt with the New York City Council on zoning issues. So it's like I'm not sure that anyone in the Trump family has really figured out how they're going to get things done.
FOX: I think --
BUMP: It's a little --
LEMON: Go ahead.
FOX: I think the big difference here is that from sources I know close to Ivanka, from what Ivanka has said herself, she's really actually eager to learn these kinds of things and I think she has a greater attention span for these kinds of things and she's, you knows, 35 years old. She's half her father's age and I think she sees probably more of longevity in Washington than Donald does.
STELTER: Everything would seem so far as if the kids are very involved. You had Kara Swisher on your program last night. Kara has the best quote I saw all day. From one of the tech leaders who was in the room for the tech summit yesterday. Well -- the person said, well, I guess this big country, I guess the United States, is a family business now.
STELTER: You know, this person was exaggerating. But when we see these photos of these sons and Ivanka in the meetings, it does have the feel of a family business. And Trump certainly is a family CEO. He's running a family corporation. People shouldn't necessarily be surprised. We're halfway between Election Day to inauguration day and we're still seeing that the children are very much involved.
LEMON: Emily, I've been wanting to ask you about this, and I think that you -- have you written about this coffee thing?
FOX: I did actually. I wrote about it on Monday.
LEMON: Yes. And "The New York Times" wrote about it today as well, but apparently to the highest bidder, what is this all about and is this -- is this a controversy now?
FOX: Well, it's a conflict of interest, no doubt. Ivanka has offered to go to coffee with the highest bidder for a charity buzz auction that will benefit sick children. It's a cause that Eric Trump has been championing for years. This is something that she has done and donated for a very long time. It's a noble cause. I don't think that this is a nefarious thing that they're doing. I think they genuinely want to raise money for charity.
The issue here is that this is not business as usual. And they're operating as if it's business as usual. They're not business people anymore. It's the first family. And so you can't auction off your time as the first child. You can't do that. You can't auction off access to the first family. And even though it may have been the best of intentions, this is just the start of many conflicts of interest to come.
LEMON: Well, that's --
STELTER: I don't think any of us have $70,000 to spend right now but we can all log on right now and try to bid for an interview with Ivanka Trump.
FOX: And the people who are bidding --
LEMON: Well, that's an interview if you sit down. And I guess if you -- if I won that, right, I guess it would be an interview.
STELTER: Right. Please bring your tape recorder. Yes.
LEMON: And she would have to go because I won. But that's the interesting thing when we talk about the conflict of interests and Trump supporters say, oh, my gosh, you're making a big deal out of nothing, or the surrogates come on and say well, let's just see, we should trust them. This is why this is an issue and this is the beginning of many as Emily has said.
PRESTON: Oh, my gosh, it's like a little snowball that's starting to roll down the hill that, you know, by the time it gets to the bottom, it's -- you know, it's going to flatten things. I mean, as far as the coffee goes, like, have to be some really good coffee to spend $70,000, the same with anybody. I mean --
LEMON: It's for a good cause.
FOX: There's so many rules around it, too.
STELTER: Mark, it's only $67,000 right now. So not quite $70,000.
FOX: A bargain.
STELTER: If we all maybe chip in together --
LEMON: No, but this is the reason that there are -- there's protocol in place.
PRESTON: But there isn't.
BUMP: That's right.
PRESTON: There's moral protocol in place. There's not laws on the books that are in place. There's nothing that can stop anybody from Ivanka Trump moving forward with this, with the kids sitting down with their dad at the kitchen table and talking about the business unless Congress gets involved and they try to pass legislation which will be nearly impossible to do.
LEMON: Donald Trump, this is for Philip, sues celebrity chef Jose Andres for breach of contract. This is in August of 2015. Late last night we learned that a judge ordered President-elect Trump to sit for seven hours, for a seven-hour deposition in early January.
[23:10:07] Celebrity chef Jose Andres tweeted this to Trump on Tuesday. He said, "Donald Trump, can we end our lawsuit and we donate money to veterans, NGO, to celebrate? Why keep litigating? Let both of us win with this."
Do you think the president will settle this?
BUMP: I have to assume he will want to, right? I mean, look, Donald Trump doesn't like to lose these fights and he pride himself over the course of the campaign --
LEMON: But does he want to sit down in a deposition?
BUMP: No, of course he doesn't. No, I totally get that. And you know, we saw him settle the Trump University case as well. So I think he will be torn. I think it will take whoever can get in his ear at the last minute to make the decision, getting in his ear and making the decision. But yes, I mean, this is -- I mean, if you want to talk about the weirdness of the Donald Trump walking into the presidency, this is a great example. It's just like, what is this? What's happening?
LEMON: All right. Stick around, everyone. When we come right back, another Trump Twitter tirade, this time
president-elect taking aim at a bad review of a Trump Tower restaurant.
LEMON: He's at it again. President-elect Donald Trump using Twitter to launch an attack this time on "Vanity Fair" magazine. Back with me, Emily Jane Fox, Mark Preston, Brian Stelter and Philip Bump.
Lucky we have Emily over here because this was targeted at your magazine, and he said, "Has anyone looked at 'vanity Fair' magazine, way down, big trouble, dead, Graydon Carter, no talent. Will be out."
Not a new fight but is that a badge of honor?
FOX: Well, I'm happy to report that "Vanity Fair" is not dead. It was a great day for "Vanity Fair." In fact traffic was through the roof. Subscriptions were way up. So thank you for this wonderful day.
[23:15:04] STELTER: And I can confirm that as a media reporter, "Vanity Fair" is not dying. You know, Trump has been saying this for years because back in the 1980s Graydon Carter insulted him, called him a short fingered Bulgarian and many other insult. You know, they've been going back and forth for a long time. 2012 Trump said the "Vanity Fair" magazine was about to fold. And it was all Graydon Carter's fault. Maybe in 10 or 20 years, sorry, Emily, maybe someday it will be true, I highly doubt it.
FOX: I don't believe it.
STELTER: And when it happens, Trump will take credit for it. But no, you know, this is wishful thinking by Trump. And I think what's notable about it, why it matters is that he's impulsive and combative, that he reacts to whatever perceived fight it is that day. Maybe it was this restaurant review of Trump Grill.
LEMON: Yes. But isn't the worst thing that you can do, you know, every time he tweets, like, the media reports on it? And I guess that's us included. But wouldn't the worst thing to do is to ignore his tweets or just realize that maybe he's just -- sometimes he's just blowing off steam and he doesn't really --
PRESTON: A president's words can cause wars and can cause --
PRESTON: You know, can force markets to go up and down. And Emily here is talking about --
LEMON: He's not writing about the market, though. He's writing about "Vanity Fair" and a grudge that he's --
PRESTON: Well, apparently they had a good financial day today. So his words -- FOX: It's a private company, though.
BUMP: Think about what he said about Air Force One.
PRESTON: Boeing, right? You think Boeing was like, wow, I'm glad they did that? No.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I don't mean -- I don't mean every single thing but there are some things you just look at it and say this is -- I mean, I don't mean to disrespect the president-elect, but this is so ridiculous, why would you even focus --
PRESTON: At some point I think that the media and America is going to tire of Donald Trump --
LEMON: Someone asked me the other day, and I forget with a news organization, Donald Trump criticized CNN today and he misspelled a word. I'm like, I don't really care.
BUMP: Right. Right.
PRESTON: Does that often.
BUMP: He misspelled wait today.
FOX: He misspelled wait today, yes.
LEMON: Who cares?
BUMP: So here's one thing I'd throw out is that today's thing I think is particularly significant because the reason that he went after "Vanity Fair" apparently is this restaurant review. Right?
BUMP: And so the question, I've raised this point before, is what's he going to do once he's president? If someone goes after one of his private businesses, is he as president going to go after them? Right? I mean, this is an example of the conflict of interest. He is using the clout that comes with being president-elect of the United States to go after a magazine that was critical of his private business. That can't happen after January 20th.
STELTER: What happens is some people have raised these worst-case scenarios about criminals or terrorists targeting Trump buildings.
STELTER: Let's say there's one of those unsuccessful sorts of attack, someone tried and thankfully failed to pull something off like that. What would he do in response? This is the same kind of question we're seeing on a very small scale today on Twitter and it's a restaurant review. But these are very big questions.
I think right now journalists do overreact to some of his tweets because we're just getting to understand that the president-elect is still going to use Twitter the same way he did when he was just a billionaire reality TV star. I don't think anyone would have predicted that, that he's continuing the feuds that he had when he was just the host of "The Apprentice." But now that we're getting used to that, the overreactions do need to -- do need to pull back.
LEMON: What would happen if he woke up one day, and we were -- all of us were just reporting on Syria and other things and he saw much less of himself?
PRESTON: I think he'd make it through a day, it would be a tough day.
PRESTON: It would be a tough day. But I think he could. But, you know, we were talking about this in the break.
PRESTON: Ad I think Emily is right that it would give him a couple of days and he would lose his mind. I mean, he's a -- he's captured by television. Right? Like, he really is --
STELTER: You're saying this is all just a show and we're the actors in the show for him?
PRESTON: Very well could be.
FOX: I think as long as he didn't know that this was the strategy, it would be OK. If he knew that you were slighting him in any way, that's where things could go off the rail.
LEMON: Yes. At his thank you rally in Pennsylvania tonight, Trump took aim at the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Although this foolish guy, Josh Earnest, I don't know if he's talking to President Obama. You know, having the right press secretary is so important because he is so bad, the way he delivers a message. He can deliver a positive message and it sounds bad. He could say, ladies and gentlemen, today we have totally defeated ISIS, and it wouldn't sound good. OK? All right? I have a feeling they won't be saying it, but I know we will be saying it. But the president is very positive, but he's not positive, and, I mean, maybe he's getting his orders from somebody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(LAUGHTER) PRESTON: I -- I don't know what to say. I mean, maybe he preemptively is trying to stop Barack Obama from criticizing him tomorrow, you know, when he does his news conference because he's saying that Barack Obama is positive. And maybe he's doing that, or maybe he's just attacking Josh Earnest who by and large has been considered a pretty good, stable spokesperson for the free world.
LEMON: Yes. You spoke to him yesterday, didn't you?
STELTER: And I had to wait two hours to talk to him.
[23:20:02] He was in the Oval with the president so to Trump's point about is he talking to the president, reflecting the president's view, the answer is yes. And Earnest's main point for the next press secretary was, you've got to know where the president's head is at. You've got to be able to reflect where the president's head is at where the president is thinking. That is what Josh Earnest does and it's what Sean Spicer, whoever the next press secretary is, will do.
But Trump is more challenging. He's the say-anything president. That's what his fans love about him but it's what makes it so difficult to understand some of what we hear at these events, at these rallies and if he does more interviews at his interviews.
LEMON: You've seen some of the folks who are reported or rumored to be in contention as press secretary. There's also some concern that there may not be, you know, daily press briefings. What does this new relationship -- do we even know at this point -- going to look like between the press and this incoming administration?
STELTER: Will be much more contentious than what we've seen with President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama. There's a bipartisan consensus for basics like holding press conferences and having press availabilities. That consensus is not something that Donald Trump is ascribed to during the campaign. So there's no reason to believe he would now.
Quick example, George W. Bush had more than 200 press availabilities during his eight years. Barack Obama also had about 220 press availabilities during his eight years. Either press conferences or times where you could yell questions at him. That's pretty much the same whether it was Bush or Obama.
Will we have the same kind of total with Trump? That's doubtful. In that time, that's doubtful. But he will, of course, President Obama having his final press conference tomorrow. So that will be an interesting moment to see what messages he wants to replay to Trump.
BUMP: Yes -- no, that's true. I mean, it's going to be interesting to see Obama tomorrow as well because this end-of-year press conferences have become sort of a tradition where he just stands there for a long time and takes a lot of questions on a broader range of things. And this a totally different environment. It's a totally different political space for him. But I think it's absolutely the case. Donald Trump hasn't had a press conference in 140 days. Literally the last time he had a press conference was before the Democrats held their convention.
BUMP: So we haven't had an opportunity for multiple people to throw questions at him. You know, we've had presidents in the past who haven't taken a lot of press conferences. Ronald Reagan didn't take a lot while he was president of the United States.
BUMP: I think that's the path that Trump is going to go on. But to your point, it's not clear that whoever is the press secretary will be able to reflect what Donald Trump is thinking in any given moment making even those daily briefings less useful.
LEMON: But even --
STELTER: He was on this TV show.
STELTER: He doesn't like what's on the show, he may want to engage with the press more. He may want to change the story.
LEMON: Yes, but even interesting things like the -- you know, the White House Correspondents Dinner, or the White House Christmas party, or just interesting, even the inauguration. Many people who had those sorts of events, you work your "Vanity Fair" magazine, they have big events around those things. Do you think it's going to be the same under this administration? Do you think there'll even be a White House Correspondents Dinner?
FOX: Who knows? I think anyone who can say definitively what Donald Trump will do in office is lying.
LEMON: Because that would be -- that would one way or saying that the press is legitimate, if he is meeting in the same room with the press and meeting with them and joking with them or taking pictures with them at an event that they are somehow legitimate.
FOX: Sure. So Donald Trump, it's not like he hasn't gone to the White House Correspondents' Dinner before in the past.
FOX: He has not shunned these events as a private citizen. Who knows what he would do as president of the United States?
FOX: I think it's tougher for him to be the butt of a joke than just laughing at jokes about other people.
BUMP: Although the last time he tried his hand at comedy was the Al Smith Dinner and that did not go well.
PRESTON: Breaking news, America doesn't care.
PRESTON: Right now they don't care.
LEMON: We're just sitting, we're just talking.
PRESTON: I know, and I'm just closing it out.
PRESTON: They don't care. They think that us on the -- are out of touch, people in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, that we're out of touch and they don't care. They think that Donald Trump is going to deliver for them, and that's all they're focused on.
LEMON: Yes. A lot of people think a lot of things. Doesn't make it necessarily so.
PRESTON: Well, we'll see.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
Straight ahead, Donald Trump and three of his adult children all involved in both the family businesses and the transition. What happens when Trump moves into the White House?
[23:27:21] LEMON: Donald Trump was supposed to hold a news conference today to explain how he plans to avoid conflicts of interest involving his businesses. It's been put off until sometime next month but the president-elect insists he'll leave his businesses by inauguration day and that his sons Don and Eric will run them.
Lots to talk about. Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, and CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein.
Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you for joining us.
Carl, I'm going to start with you. Monica Langley from the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Donald Jr. and Eric will be running their father's businesses, will not be attending presidential meetings once he becomes president, and Ivanka and Jared are looking into a full and complete separation from their businesses so they can take on roles in the White House without conflicts of interest. Do you think that's enough?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Let me start by saying with all due respect to the president-elect, we did not elect a king and a royal family to conduct the family businesses and affairs of state at the same time, to have royal warrants, and this kind of license.
This family needs to divest itself of all of its holdings. Not just the blind trust, it's got to be divested. And particularly we need the Congress to look at the relationship between Donald Trump's holdings and Russia. His debts in Russia. Why he hasn't shown his tax returns? Perhaps it has something to do with Russian businesses and perhaps we can follow the money and maybe see who some of his business partners are and if they are Russians. We need to find out about Trump, Russia, the holdings, that he has refused to show us and his family.
LEMON: Richard, I want to get your take on this because yesterday we saw Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric seated at the table for Trump's meeting with tech executives and some questions began to emerge about conflicts of interest. What do you make of this?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's a concern, although I'm a lot more worried about having the KGB running around the West Wing than the Trump children. From some of the news I've seen in the past couple of days, I'm very worried about the interest of foreign government --
LEMON: Explain that.
PAINTER: -- on our president. But he should also make sure that conflicts of interest with his family are eliminated as well. He needs to divest himself of his business empire. There's a lot of money coming in from foreign governments that will be unconstitutional as of January 20th. He cannot receive any payments from dealings with foreign governments. Whether it's Russia, China or anywhere else. And that includes corporations controlled by foreign governments.
We can't have foreign diplomats staying in his hotels at their government expense and trying to curry favor with the president. That's unconstitutional.
[23:30:01] The founders envisioned this problem coming up, where some foreign government tries to manipulate our political system. And lo and behold it is upon us and our president needs to abide by the Constitution. So that's the number one priority. We also have to make sure that he doesn't have his name going up on buildings all over the world where those are going to become terrorist targets. And we're going to have to worry about who's going to protect those buildings.
And then there's the quid pro quo problem that comes up whenever people are talking Trump business side by side with the United States government business. Foreign diplomat calls and say, well, we want good relations with the United States, how about those ugly windmills near the golf courses? I mean, that's not appropriate. And I think it's about time Mr. Trump think about being president, not a businessman. The president is not an innkeeper. He is a president and that's what he wants to do. He's going to have to do it.
LEMON: Richard, that's a lot, you say, you know, that he has to do by January 20th. How can he do that in just a month? (CROSSTALK)
PAINTER: Well, I think he's going to have to --
BERNSTEIN: He can begin -- I'm sorry, go right ahead.
LEMON: Richard, then I'll get your take after, Carl. Go ahead, Richard.
PAINTER: He's going to have to sell the business. There's plenty good New York lawyers and investment bankers who can help him figure out a way to do it. And maybe he can't sell them all by January 20th. But if those foreign payments are not out of there by January 20th he's in violation of the Constitution. And I have said that he needs to ensure the electors before they meet that he is going to do that by January 20th because I can't see how they could vote for him if he's not going to take office in accordance with the Constitution.
LEMON: Interesting. Carl?
BERNSTEIN: Well, that's the next question is whether he's putting this off to get past the meeting of the electoral college, and I think there's some real suggestion as we've just heard that he is. He is acting in an authoritarian manner. People of the United States did not elect him, I believe, expecting that the new president-elect would act in this manner as an autocrat, as someone who can do business, family business, insert his children into both the affairs of state and continue the family businesses like a national cash register company.
This is both absurd, it needs to be investigated by Congress. Imagine if Richard Nixon and his children or Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton were to have arrangements such as we've seen here with foreign businesses, we would have a congressional investigation that would have opened already. And that's what needs to happen here. We also need to see his tax returns as an indication of what his holdings are if he doesn't divest.
LEMON: Should the electoral college hold off their vote? As you said -- Richard said the electoral -- he should do all of this before then. Before they vote. Should they hold off their vote until this happens?
PAINTER: I don't think I can give advice to the electors but he should -- he owes it to the electors to tell them he is not going to be violating the Constitution by taking foreign government money in his business enterprises and he needs to do that now. He needs to allow the electors to be able to vote in accordance with the Constitution and not vote for someone who's going to take office in violation of the Constitution.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, Carl, I have less than a minute left. I want to ask you, Donald Trump tweeted today, he said, "The media tries so hard to make my move to the White House as it pertains to my business so complex when it actually isn't." I mean, do you think it's that easy? BERNSTEIN: He's making it complicated. We have just heard as
eloquently as can be stated by my co-guest here what needs to be done. It's simple. It's clean. And he is unwilling thus far to do the simple, clean, appropriate, constitutional and right thing and he's undermining his own presidency even before he takes office.
LEMON: Richard, Carl, thank you.
PAINTER: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come right back, are Democrats now acting like the GOP? Are they out of touch with average Americans?
[23:37:34] LEMON: President Barack Obama vowing to take action on Russian hacking of our election. Here to discuss, Basil Smikle, the executive director of the New York state Democratic Party, CNN political commentators Andy Dean and Matt Lewis.
Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you.
Mr. Smikle, you first.
BASIL SMIKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Hello, hello.
LEMON: President Barack Obama did an interview with NPR. It will air tomorrow morning. He talks about the Russian hacking and how it affected the election. Here's part of what he says. He says, "There's no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary's e- mails. I have no doubt it had impact based on the coverage. The irony of all this, of course, for most of my presidency, there's been a pretty sizable wing of the Republican Party that is consistently criticized me for not being tough enough on Russia, a big chunk of the Republican Party which prides itself during the Reagan era and for decades that followed is being the bulwark against Russian influence now suddenly is embracing him."
What do you think? Does he have a point?
SMIKLE: I mean, he has a point in a sense that yes, the Russian hacking did contribute to the narrative, the negative narrative of Hillary Clinton in terms of, you know, people not feeling that she was trustworthy and so on. Of course as a Democrat and someone who had worked for her for 20-some odd years, I didn't believe that. But there was this narrative out there. And the fact is that those hacks did impact that narrative in a way that I think impacted the ultimate election results.
That's problematic and there were a lot of people that have said well, you know, President Obama himself sort of dismissed the Russian incursion into the United States, whether it's through the cyber attacks or otherwise in 2012 when he was debating Mitt Romney. That may have been true, but today we see that they have been directly involved and -- I mean, we need to take action.
LEMON: Matt, does the president have a point that now all of a sudden, you know, Republicans are embracing Russia?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, yes, he does, absolutely. I saw this starting about three or four years ago. I was at a conservative dinner and somebody started talking about how great Vladimir Putin is. He's pro-life and he's being hard on the gays. And it's a weird thing. Pat Buchanan about six months later wrote a piece asking, is Putin one of us, meaning is Putin a conservative?
I think Peter Beinart really nailed it at "The Atlantic," when he said, you know, the paradigm used to be America the force of freedom versus the forces of tyranny.
[23:40:07] Today there's a different paradigm and it's Western civilization versus ISIS and radical Islam. And if you buy that latter paradigm, that that's the defining issue of our time, then allying yourself with Vladimir Putin is about the same as joining forces with Joseph Stalin to defeat Nazism.
LEMON: Andy Dean, you seem perplexed by that. Why?
ANDY DEAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I'm -- Don, I'm perplexed by about everything I just heard but I do buy into this idea that radical Islam is our biggest foe. If we look at the terror attacks over the past 15 years, reality makes us have to believe that.
And also, Don, I'm just confused by this whole -- maybe I'm not getting this Russian hacker thing that the media is obsessed with 24/7. If you ask WikiLeaks and Julian Assange where they got their info from, which -- he was on a radio program, he was on Hannity's program today, Julian Assange said he got the WikiLeaks, the John Podesta e-mails, from a non-state actor that was not Russia. This idea that Putin handed over --
LEMON: We're talking -- we're talking about government and intelligence reports. We're not talking just about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange here, Andy.
DEAN: Intelligence reports, Don, but let's get specific, that say what? That Russia got Podesta's e-mails? That's factually untrue.
LEMON: No --
DEAN: And this idea that the American people are dumb enough to fall for fake news on Facebook? It's ridiculous.
SMIKLE: Well, listen -- LEMON: That's not all of the report. You're picking and choosing
parts of the report that you want to criticize. But that's not the entire report.
DEAN: Correct, I cherry pick, Don, that's what I do.
LEMON: Yes, you did. Go on.
SMIKLE: The CIA, the CIA has said that Russia was involved in these hacks. And the fact is --
DEAN: What hacks?
SMIKLE: The fact is that --
LEMON: And the FBI as well, which was -- you know, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were not a fan of during the election, by the way.
SMIKLE: And they released only Democratic e-mails. Even if they had Republican e-mails, those were not released but they released only Democratic e-mails. So it was clearly a motive here. Is the motive to make Donald Trump president? I think there's still -- the jury's still out on that, but the truth of the matter is there was a clear -- there was a clear motive to impact how the Democrats would run their campaign and the narrative --
LEWIS: Was it just to shake up the system as well? Instead of having the status quo which David considered to be a Hillary Clinton or maybe Vladimir Putin has some vendetta against Hillary Clinton?
SMIKLE: It's clear that Vladimir Putin did not like Hillary Clinton. And that, you know, the e-mail --
LEWIS: Well, that's true.
LEMON: Go ahead, Matt.
LEWIS: Well, no, I was just going to say that, you know, I was just hard on the Republicans for their sort of changing and -- their tune on Russia. You know, I'm from the Reagan era, you know, when it was an evil empire, but the Soviet Union is gone but we have a KGB agent running it.
DEAN: Yes, it's gone.
LEWIS: But, but --
LEMON: Let him finish. Let him finish. Matt, go ahead.
LEWIS: I just want to also be hard on Barack Obama for he is a guy who allowed this to happen on his watch. We're seeing what's happening in Aleppo, but this is another example, Barack Obama, why did he allow this to happen? And now that he is basically threatening we're going to eventually someday we're going to get revenge on Russia for doing this, you know, what's that like a red line being drawn? I would like to see -- I think he has invited some of this by his weakness.
SMIKLE: No. No. But then, you know, if you're a Reagan guy, do you think Reagan would actually stand up and let Russia and stand by while Russia actually has this kind of leverage in our political system? I would imagine that Reagan would turn around and say, no, we're not going to stand up --
DEAN: Yes, Reagan was fighting --
LEWIS: That's my point. That's my point.
DEAN: Reagan was fighting communism.
LEWIS: This wouldn't happen to Reagan.
DEAN: We need to pass out history books to CNN analysts. It was a different time. We were fighting the evil empire to tear down that wall. I mean, I'm just very confused. This isn't --
LEWIS: Now Russians are now great, trustworthy, they don't have geopolitical aspirations, they're at odds with us.
DEAN: When it comes -- I will tell you this --
LEMON: Hold on, Andy, I want you to -- hold on, stand by. Andy, explain what you mean because I think many people may have a hard time following your logic. And I don't mean that as a -- no shade.
DEAN: No, that's OK. I think the -- you know, the common citizen watching at home I think is agreeing with me and confused by the three of you. When I say take out the history books, this is a different time, this is not the 1980s. When it comes to geopolitics, we have a lot more in common with Russia than we don't. Look at Syria.
LEWIS: You have a lot in common with Barack Obama. You sound like Barack Obama who said --
DEAN: If I could --
LEWIS: -- in 1980s they want their foreign policy back.
DEAN: Well, I don't -- I guess I don't know what you're referring to. When it comes to ISIS and radical jihad Vladimir Putin knows how to deal with radical jihadists.
LEMON: He's talking about the debate between Mitt Romney --
LEWIS: You're watching the presidential debates? LEMON: He's talking -- the debate between Mitt Romney in 2012 and
DEAN: Yes. Mitt Romney lost. Mitt Romney was a choker. Yes, Romney was a loser and a choker and that's why Trump won and Romney didn't. Romney was wrong. Trump is right. And the American people showed that.
LEWIS: You're on the side of a KGB agent but that's cool. And that's -- if that's where your conservative movement has taken you, that's fine.
[23:45:02] DEAN: First of all, it's the FSB. Once again take out the history book, it is not the KGB. It is the FSB.
SMIKLE: But you know, history aside.
DEAN: It is different. Time has progressed.
SMIKLE: But history aside, where we are right now --
DEAN: History aside, exactly.
SMIKLE: Where we are right now is with the understanding that Russia has had a substantial impact on our electoral process. And the question is now, what do we do going forward? Barack Obama has called for an investigation of sorts and I hope that the results of that, as we've seen over the last few days, more of that actually gets released. I think the real question is going forward, what will Donald Trump do? What will President Donald Trump do in terms of going after the Russians, in terms of saying, you know what, we need to -- we need to create a substantial firewall with respect to the Russians and their ability to impact our political system. And with a lot of the conflicts of interest that exist right now, I'm not so sure that that happens.
LEMON: OK, Andy, hold that thought. We'll be right back.
LEMON: We're back now with Basil Smikle, Andy Dean and also Matt Lewis.
So I want to get you guys' opinion on or your thoughts about the new reporting from Monica Langley about President-elect Donald Trump and his businesses, saying he's not going to divest. First to you, Andy Dean.
[23:50:12] DEAN: OK, well, as far as Trump businesses, and I worked there for seven years, so I know pretty much the breadth of those businesses. Donald Trump day-to-day has zero interest in being involved in any of this. So when it comes to things like passive ownership like for instance of "The Apprentice" where he doesn't do anything day-to-day, remember the show has already been shot, he's going to collect passive income just like Barack Obama collective passive income from his book royalties. He's not going to be involved in the day-to-day of these businesses so I think this idea -- and Don, real quick, if he tried what the media wants, to sell off all these businesses, which would be impossible, but even if he tried --
LEMON: That's not what the media wants.
DEAN: -- that could lead to even --
LEMON: That's not fair to say that that's what the media wants it.
DEAN: No, no, but what I'm saying, but it's been suggested. And what I'm saying is that could even lead to more conflicts of interest because then who would be buying these, would they be currying favor by buying them? So he's damned if he doesn't, damned if he does it. But he's very clear. He's not doing this to gain wealth. He probably has, what, 20, 25 years left on this planet. He's dedicating, you know, all the time that he has left to making America great again. He doesn't need to get rich. He's already been rich.
SMIKLE: But the thing is -- but it is very different than Barack Obama writing a book because Barack Obama doesn't choose who runs the publishing company. Donald Trump as president will choose who is a member of the FCC, he will choose members of the Justice Department that will oversee antitrust issues, anti-monopoly issues that may come into play if you have media organizations combining or merging.
So the fact of the matter is when you have Donald Trump who has a financial stake in a TV show that's aired on a major network and he appoints people who oversee telecommunications regulation, that is a clear conflict of interest. When you have foreign leaders saying they may want to stay in his hotels or when he travels abroad and he stays in a hotel or his family does, or other foreign leaders stay in his hotels, does he not make money from that? And if he decides to tweet, which we know he loves to do.
DEAN: Basil, think about this.
LEMON: Let him finish, Andy.
SMIKLE: We know he loves to tweet. The fact that he's the executive producer of "The Apprentice," when he -- if he decides to say hey, great development on my show tonight, and the ratings spike, does he make money from that? Those are very clear -- those are important questions that need to be answered.
LEMON: Go ahead, Andy.
DEAN: Basil, Basil, OK. Donald Trump spent over $70 million on this race. That was money out the door that he spent. And over the next four to eight years he's not going to be able to be making any serious money and he's already waived his presidential salary. So this isn't about enriching himself personally. And if you're saying because the king or queen of some country or the prime minister of some country is going to occupy some room nights on one of his properties, and that's going to shift his opinion, that just doesn't make sense whatsoever. Anybody who listens to that would think that that's nuts, because it is.
LEMON: I don't think so. I think -- I think he made a lot of sense. I actually had not thought about it in that way, Matt Lewis. What do you think?
LEWIS: Yes, this is just -- I think this is just going to plague him for four or eight years. And I -- if you're rooting for Donald Trump's success, this is like the easiest -- you know, sort of mistake he could make where he could really run afoul of the law, of ethics. I just -- I think there's so many angles where this is potentially bad for him and it looks bad, whether or not it is, whether or not he's trying to enrich himself. This is not going to go away.
LEMON: Matt, was this a sign to you that maybe he didn't think he was going to win or that maybe he wasn't qualified to be president? Something that he should have thought about before he actually ran for president that he'd have to do this?
LEWIS: Well, I do think he was surprised that he won but I also think that this is -- this is the first time this has happened. You know, there haven't been other businessmen of his caliber in terms of real estate who have had this problem. So this is almost a unique challenge. And so in a way --
DEAN: And reason why -- Matt. Matt, the reason why business people don't run is exactly what's happening in this segment right now, is that they're absolutely destroyed. So the theory --
LEWIS: Was I just destroying him? I think I was being a little bit --
DEAN: Hold on. Hold on. No, no. The tone -- hold on. The tone here is very clear that oh, because Donald Trump has all these business interests, it's going to lead to massive conflict. The American people knew about his business interests. They wanted somebody --
LEMON: No, no, no. Hold on. Your premise is wrong.
DEAN: Hold on. They wanted somebody successful --
LEMON: Hold on. No, no, let me finish. Let me finish.
DEAN: They wanted somebody successful.
LEMON: No one is saying that it's going to lead to a massive conflict. We're saying that it could lead to a massive conflict.
DEAN: Right, but Don -- Don.
LEMON: And concern is that it could lead and why --
DEAN: We know what you're insinuating.
LEMON: Let me finish. No, that's not what we're insinuating.
LEMON: That's not what I'm insinuating at least. So then why would we put --
DEAN: What your insinuating is the only people who can president are people who don't own --
LEMON: Matt, would you let me ask the question and finish please? I'm sorry, Andy.
LEWIS: Let me just throw out one --
LEMON: Hold on, Matt.
DEAN: Don, it's your show. It's Don's show. Not Matt's show.
[23:55:02] LEMON: The thing is, is that why would he put this stumbling block -- why would he just remove the stumbling block from his way so that he can, as you say make America great again without people thinking that he's trying to enrich himself or his family is trying to enrich themselves?
DEAN: Well, Don, great question. And there are tens of thousands of people that work for these businesses. So for them to either have a fire sale --
LEMON: They wouldn't lose job. There would just be someone else that would just controlling them.
DEAN: Don, it's -- look, it's not as simple as that. You either have to sell it or what he's doing, which I think is best, is putting in the hands of managers.
LEMON: It is that simple. It is that simple.
DEAN: No, he's putting it in the hands of -- but if he sold it, then you would say the people he's selling it to would be a conflict of interest.
SMIKLE: No, in fact -- no, I wouldn't say.
DEAN: He's putting it in the hands of managers that he's not going to be -- he's not going to see the business.
LEMON: I'll cut Matt off. I'm sorry. Quickly, quickly.
SMIKLE: I will say this. I live in New York. Michael Bloomberg, who's actually wealthier than Donald Trump, if I remember correctly, was able to do this. He created a clear firewall between himself as mayor and his business. So it is possible to do. LEMON: Yes. I have to go. Matt, just quick. I'll give you the last
five seconds -- 10 seconds.
LEWIS: I think it's going to plague him, if you're rooting for Donald Trump's success, this is a problem. I mean, it's going to keep -- it's going to be a stumbling block he's going to have to overcome.
LEMON: Thank you, everyone. That's it for us tonight. Appreciate you watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, and thanks for joining us. Tonight signs the White House is running out patience with President- elect Trump repeatedly casting doubt on whether used cyber warfare to influence the election. There's also breaking news on the subject. U.S. officials telling CNN that he hacking tools used do point to --