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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Sources: Intel Analysis Shows Putin Approved Election Hacking; Trump Slams Vanity Fair After Bad Restaurant Review; Trump's Business Terminates Three Overseas Projects. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 15, 2016 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Craig Sager was only 65 years old.

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news. New details about why U.S. officials say Putin himself approved the election hacking, as Donald Trump takes on the White House over Russia. Plus Trump revives a decades old rivalry that started with a remark about his small hands. And "OutFront" investigation tonight, who are Trump's business partners? One of them described as notoriously corrupt.

Let's go "OutFront."

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. "OutFront" tonight, we begin with breaking news, approved by Vladimir Putin, signs tonight pointing to Russian President Vladimir Putin signing off directly on the election hack attack on the United States. An official familiar with the U.S. Intelligence Assessment tells CNN that the operation was carried out with very sophisticated hacking tools that suggests Putin himself was directly involved. This is Donald Trump fires back completely dismissing the hacking charge as an attempt to delegitimize his election victory. Trump tweeting, "Why did they, referring to the White House, only complain after Hillary lost?"

A senior administration official tonight telling CNN that White House is angry about Trump's denial. All of this setting up an ugly confrontation between the president and the president-elect. Jim Sciutto "OutFront" with the breaking details tonight. And, Jim, this is unprecedented in many ways and Trump is not giving an inch.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. It's as simple as this, the President-Elect of the United States, despite the increasingly confident assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia with Vladimir Putin's approval hacked the U.S. election. He continues to dismiss the intelligence agency that are soon going to be serving his administration. This sparking a fiery protest today from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

SCIUTTO: Tonight, the White House demanding that President-Elect Trump accept rather than deny the intelligence community's assessment that Russia was responsible for hacking intended to impact the U.S. presidential race.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyberactivity that was helping him and hurting Secretary Clinton's campaign. It might be time to not attack the intelligence community but actually be supportive.

SCIUTTO: However, Trump himself whose sources tell CNN has seen that intelligence behind that assessment in his classified briefings continues to express doubts that Russia is responsible tweeting this morning, "If Russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" His transition team is now accusing the White House of trying to undermine his presidency.

JASON MILLER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR OF DONALD TRUMP'S TRANSITION TEAM: I'd say the continued efforts to try to delegitimize the election, at a certain point you have to realize that an election from last month is going to stand.

SCIUTTO: The use of sophisticated hacking tools plus the analysis of the digital footprint and intelligence including from human sources has led the intelligence community to conclude that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved of the hacking. This according to intelligence, congressional and other administration sources.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVE: There's only one decision maker and that is Putin. To me just on the basis of that very circumstantial evidence, it's pretty clear that something of this magnitude had to go to the very top.

SCIUTTO: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tells CNN he now plans to introduce crippling new economic sanctions aimed at Putin himself.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We're going hit you and hit you hard. I'm going to introduce sanctions. There'll be that person that names Putin as an individual, his inner circle for not only hacking into our political systems but trying to destabilize democracy throughout the world.

SCIUTTO: And yet Trump supporter and Former Congressman And Jack Kingston was in Moscow this week, where he told businesses that Trump could reconsider existing sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

JACK KINGSTON, (R) FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Sanction is not something that the administration is going to leave with at all. These sanctions have been in place a while now. The administration could take a look and say, "Are the result what we were looking for?"

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SCIUTTO: Now, the U.S. intelligence community assessed weeks ago that the decided the hacking could only have only occurred with Putin's OK. But their confidence now is growing and part due to the sophisticated hacking tools and methods used in the hack, cyberweapons in effect that Russia would not use without its president's approval. Erin? BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jim Sciutto. So they are saying that but again, they haven't been specific about what those tools are.

Michelle Kosinski is "OutFront" at the White House tonight. And this is where the story now is getting incredibly heated. Michelle, President Obama said he would make this transition smooth and peaceful. But this seems to be going suddenly wrong.

[19:05:05] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, in a sense this is two sides blaming the other now. But what we've been seeing is a kind of slow and steady build up of pretty what is now pretty surprising and direct criticism of Donald Trump and his team by the White House.

So, you know, we've seen this not just today but throughout this week. Leading to a pretty surprising exchange, part of which you just heard. But it went on and on. The Trump team and others have questioned, is this just the White House defensive about being questioned over the timing of when it named Russia for the hack? Is this the White House trying to disqualify or discredit Donald Trump's victory?

Well, of course the White House denies that. And what senior administration officials are telling us now is that early days right after the election, the White House really felt it was important because the world was looking to the White House for its reaction, to project calm, continuity, to project that it's committed to a smooth transition. And the White House feels that it did that and it still is committed. But since then based on events, they felt a little more open to respond to repeated questions and sometimes that included criticism. But for the most part it was quite subtle of course until now.

The game changer for them they said was Donald Trump's repeated denials and questioning over whether Russia even played a role in this hacking. They put that into a different category entirely than things Donald Trump has said in the past that they didn't agree with. They say that this goes directly to national security. They call it an attacking. The intelligence community are questioning whether President Obama did enough to protect Americans. And that's where they say they are not going to remain quiet. And I can guarantee you that the president himself is going to get questions on this when he does his press conference, what could in fact be his last press conference here tomorrow, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. All eyes will be on that for sure. Michelle, thank you.

And "OutFront" now David Axelrod, Former Senior Advisor of President Obama, David Gergen, Former Presidential Advisor to Four President, Philip Bump, Washington Post Political Reporter, and Mark Preston, our Executive Political Editor.

Mark, President Obama promised a smooth and gracious transition. And you heard Michelle say, well, they started out that way so now they maybe feel that they have leeway to be much more direct about how they really feel. This is getting nasty. This is very direct.

MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE POLITICAL EDITOR: This is an issue right now that is not only being watched here by us but has been watched around the world, you know, as we're seeing this peaceful transition of power come into play. I think that Donald Trump really just pushed the White House up against the wall. And I do think that we hadn't seen anybody come out and actually defend our intelligence agencies for the information that they were providing, that they are so certain is true, that I think that the White House at that point just felt like they had to step up and say something.

BURNETT: And you say the White House. I mean David Axelrod, Josh Ernest, you know, the Spokesman of course for President Obama, has been out there slamming Donald Trump over Russia in every single way. Here he is. Not mincing words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EARNEST: It was just a fact, you all have it on tape that the Republican Nominee for President was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent. The president-elect indicated his intent if elected president to pursue longer relations with Russia. So what better way to do that than to choose somebody who's been awarded the order of friendship by Vladimir Putin to be your Secretary of State?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Of course there, David Axelrod, he's talking about Rex Tillerson, specifically the Secretary of State Nominee. But is there any way, David, that Josh Earnest would be attacking Donald Trump so directly and so angrily if he did not have President Obama's personal blessing to do so?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Highly unlikely. Press secretary doesn't go out and make statements like that on an unauthorized basis. But, you know, I think what's happening here is that voices are being raised and the issue is being lost. The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump seems offended by the suggestion that he might have been helped by the Russian hacking and he reacts bitterly to that and his team reacts bitterly to that. There's some Democrat whose might believe that they -- that this cost them the election. They are very unhappy about that.

But the fundamental fact is, and everybody seems to agree on it but Donald Trump, the intelligence community, the FBI, the Russians did hack and did meddle in our election as Lindsey Graham has said all over as they do In Europe and other places as well. This is a fundamental issue. And what's disturbing is that rather than addressing this issue, you have the president-elect getting into a political tit for tat about whether it actually ever happened.

BURNETT: So, David Gergen, you know, part of the issue here of course is the CIA has not given specifics.

[19:10:01] Now, some would argue maybe they don't need to. But they haven't given specific as to what exactly happened. The FBI hasn't gone as far as the CIA. But this is a deeply divided country as David Axelrod points out. Could this fight explode now that you have Josh Earnest, as David points out certainly with President Obama's blessing, being so, you know, critical here of Donald Trump and Donald Trump slamming the White House?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It could explode. And it could be -- national security to be very damaging for faith and confidence in either President Obama or very importantly the president-elect. I thought Josh Earnest frankly was misguided and I think they sent him out and do the wrong mission. And being as partisan as he was today, he could have say and should have stopped to the critical issue about the Russian hacking, not go off into Tillerson nomination and everything like that (inaudible).

This is a very important fundamental issue that Putin is now by all sources inside intelligence have personally engaged in hacking the United States election, and beyond that, trying to give the election to Donald Trump. And we just never seen anything like that in our history. It has to be taken into account when United States forms its policies on additional sanctions.

BURNETT: And Philip, you know, as unprecedented as this is, the hack is now succeeding on the second level. It is calling the transition itself into question in the ability of a president and a president- elect to work together. So Putin would then be succeeding even more.

PHILIP BUMP, WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that's true and I think that part of the frustration is, you know, as noted in the reporting that Barack Obama tried. I mean there's a lot of outcry from the democrats right after the election to say, you know, we need do something about this. And Hillary Clinton got more votes, et cetera, et cetera, and Barack Obama was criticized for reaching out to Donald Trump and trying to insure a smooth transition. It seems as though he feels a little bit burned by that, in part because Donald Trump is trying to protect the win that he had. I mean it's not clear. I mean there are some speculations that maybe the reason he's denying these intelligence reports is because he is super close to Russia and then part of it too was that he wants to defend the fact that he is the rightful next president --

BURNETT: Right. No one wants to feel like I'm admitting I won or something.

BUMP: Exactly, right. Right.

BURNETT: -- because someone helped me, right, that there is a human parts of it there.

BUMP: And so my guess is there are a lot of folks in Washington who are frustrated that because of that sort of vanity, he's undermining the work of the intelligence agency.

BURNETT: All right. All staying with me because next, Trump tweeting the Vanity Fair magazine editor has no talent. His magazine is dead. Now trump is holding a grudge if you're in Twitter today that actually goes back decades to his "small hands". And Donald Trump's business partners, one with a shady even criminal background with an "OutFront" investigation. Plus Ivanka Trump today picking up the phone lobbying congress why, on what, taking on the role of advisor and first lady.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:20] BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump reviving a decades old dispute, this time, taking on the magazine Vanity Fair and its editor, Graydon Carter, in particular on Twitter, after the magazine published a negative article about the restaurant in Trump Tower, it's called the Trump Grill. Now, it would be very nasty review describing how painful it was to eat the "flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings with their flaccid, gray innards". OK, you could call that politically inspired review. The point is, Trump's attack is not just about that, it goes back to something deeply personal. Brian Stelter is "OutFront."

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Look k at those hands. Are they small hands?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is not one to let things go. At this GOP debate in March, he famously defended the size of his hands, among other things.

TRUMP: I guarantee, there is no problem. I guarantee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The original insult about Trump's hands can be traced back to this guy. Vanity Editor, Graydon Carter, who called Trump a short-fingered vulgarian back in the 1980s. This morning, Trump fired the latest shot in their decades old feud attacking Vanity Fair in a tweet and predicting Carter will soon be fired. Trump was saying the same thing way back in 2012 saying he couldn't wait for Vanity Fair to fold and that with Carter at the helm it would happen sooner rather than later.

Well, not yet, but Trump now as president-elect continues to wield Twitter as a megaphone and as an insult machine, sometimes targeting recognizable figures like Carter and other times more ordinary Americans.

CHUCK JONES, UNITED STEELWORKERS PRESIDENT, 1990: I just wish that he'd had the numbers down and he had been upfront with 800 people's jobs in here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Union Leader Chuck Jones criticized Trump's job saving carrier factory deal in "OutFront", Trump castigated Jones within minutes saying, "He's done a terrible job representing workers." Jones told reporters he received a flood of threatening messages after Trump's tweets. Trump also recently targeted CNN's Jeff Zeleny after Zeleny fact checks Trump's false claim about voter fraud.

Of course many Trump voters loved his combativeness vividly on display during the primary. After this woman confronted Trump -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you become president, will woman make the same as a man and do I get to choose what I do with my body?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He criticized Lauren Batchelder that 18-years- old on Twitter. She recently told the Washington Post that even one year later, she's still receiving abusive messages via Facebook.

Now, many wonder whether the president-elect really recognizes the power of his keyboard.

TRUMP: I think I am very restrained and I talk about important things. Frankly, it's a modern day form of communication.

STELTER: As of today, Vanity Fair tweet, it's not clear what set Trump off but it might have something to do with this scathing review the magazine published of Trump Grill, that's the steak house in the Trump Tower lobby. It gleefully described the tacky decor and mediocre food.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And now, the election was 37 days, the inauguration 37 days from today. We've seen Trump go after private individuals on Twitter. We've also seen him go after media likes CNN, the New York Times and Vanity Fair. Now, look at the homepage for Vanity Fair tonight right there a big red banner saying this is a magazine Trump doesn't want you to read, clearly trying to turn Trump's attention into profits. And Erin, that's something the president elect might appreciate, a savvy business move.

BURNETT: Yeah, He probably would. And when it goes up, he'll take credit for the increase. All right, thank you very much, Brian Stelter.

I want to brick back my panel. David Axelrod, look, it was a disgusting review. He used a word Donald Trump would want to use. It was personal from Vanity Fair.

[19:20:04] His response was personal but this mud slinging is proof Trump holds a grudge. This goes back a decade.

AXELROD: Yeah. Maybe the story should -- this whole episode should be called "Vanity Flairs" which seems to happen a lot with Donald Trump. The thing that sorts of bewildering is he's in the middle of a presidential transition. This is a complex, challenging world and he's about to take on the most important job on the planet. And you would think that he would have more important things to do than this.

Beyond that, and I've said this before, what presidents say can send armies marching and markets tumbling. And so, it's unbecoming when goes after a smaller target like Mr. Jones but it's dangerous when he tweets out of impulse about larger issues. And that's my concern is that impulse control is required in this job because of the grave consequences if you don't exercise it.

BURNETT: So Mark, you know, when David says, armies -- a president's words can send armies marching and stocks tumbling. He's right. Markets tumbling. But Richard Branson, the Billionaire Founder of the Virgin Group was on -- I was talking to him and he said, when he -- Trump reached out to him and said, "Let's have lunch, two billionaires, let's have a lunch," before and he have this election stuff started. But he spent the entire lunch Branson said with Trump talking some people who refused to help him through a financial matter. The entire that Trump talked about them Branson said was spending -- how he would spend the rest of his life destroying those five people.

PRESTON: He holds a grudge, no question about that. I thought I held grudges against people but Donald Trump certainly does. You know, to David's point too about punching down, it really makes you look weak I think. And oftentimes I think that silence is deafening. That silence is more powerful. And all Donald Trump is doing is weakening his brand. And to Richard Branson's point there, "Why should Donald Trump even care about this person anymore?" He's the most powerful person in the world right now but yet he can't stop himself which does go to the impulse --

BURNETT: So David Gergen, is there anything good about Trump holding grudges so long as he clearly does?

GERGEN: Not that I can think of. I imagine please save and think for week I mean when he had find something. But I want to say something. He says -- he tweets about the important things. He tweets about Vanity Fair. We haven't heard one tweet about Aleppo. We haven't heard him speak once against what the Russians are doing and slaughtering those poor citizens in a world catastrophe. You know, it's time that he begins to accept the responsibilities that go with this office. They are enormous as David Axelrod said. And I just -- you know, if he's -- and CIA think he's not listening to evidence, he's going with his prejudice. On the Vanity Fair, he's going with his grudges and not what's really urgent now in the world and that is a slaughter.

AXELROD: Erin, can I just speak --

BURNETT: Yes, yes, go ahead, David.

AXELROD: Abraham Lincoln had a practice when he wrote letters in anger of putting them in his desk and going back a week later to read them and decide whether he really wanted to send it. Twitter doesn't lend itself to that. But that's presidential temperament and he ought to practice that.

BURNETT: Yeah, go ahead.

BUMP: I want to just note too that what's being discussed here is a very particular subset apparently. We don't know what Trump has anger been. Graydon Carter also wrote a very sort of mean thing about he end up getting elected. But it was his press con. This is the President-Elect of the United States using his Twitter account to defend his private business. And the question is, what happens once he's president? What happens when someone goes after one of the Trump hotels when he's president? Is he going to go after those folks?

BURNETT: Wait. (CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: And then is that actually a violation?

BUMP: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

BUMP: There are so many boundaries here that are being crossed and ignored. I think it's important to remember that.

BURNETT: So David Gergen though, back to this point of, you know, is there anything good in this? And I see your point, probably not. But when dealing with foreign governments, the fact that he's nice unpredictable in Twitter, right? He can come after you after one minute then he could say something nice about you. You don't know. It could constantly. Totally not the way things are usually done in this country, right? A country knows, we go by a policy, right? Could there be something good about that, that a world leader would not know where they stand with Donald Trump?

GERGEN: Well, I do think that keeping people off guard a little bit is important and also giving him he sense the, you know, you could -- he could go violations very quickly if you corner him. This is very similar. Remember what Henry Kissinger did the Russians about Richard Nixon? He intentionally told them this guy is volatile, he's unpredictable and if you cross him, if you corner him he will lash out at you. He did that as a way to keep them at bay.

BURNETT: Yes.

GERGEN: But there is a difference here I think that seems unhinged. And I think it's harder to get people to rely on you, when you want friends to come in and stand with you, if they are not sure you'll be there tomorrow the same way you are today.

BURNETT: And very quickly before I go, David Axelrod, is there any way you think that Vladimir Putin has that fear of Trump right now or does he think he's got him under his thumb?

[19:25:06] AXELROD: Yeah. I think he's pretty comfortable with Donald Trump right now. He understands that how Trump heals when he's complimented and strikes out when he's insulted and he seems to be working him pretty effectively.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, all.

And next, Donald Trump's business partners, some with very checkered pasts. We have a special investigation. And breaking news, Dylann Roof, guilty for the murder of nine people in a horrific church shooting. Should he get the death penalty? At last (inaudible).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight the Trump organization terminating three overseas business deal, the company's attorney describing the move as house cleaning. But the president-elect has dozens of foreign business ventures still active and some of his partners have a criminal history. Drew Griffin is "OutFront".

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump's companies spread across the globe, about 150 different limited liability corporations and companies that have had dealing in 25 countries according to a CNN analysis. But the focus is on 10 countries that Donald Trump has licensed him name for real estate deals and but deals with some international businessman that have attracted controversy. Some have been under criminal investigation, others have deep ties to their own governments. All of them could present a conflict for the president- elect.

In turkey, Trump has licensed his name to two towers owned by business and media conglomerate founded by the billionaire, Ayd?n Do?an. Earlier this year, Do?an was indicted in Turkey for an alleged fuel smuggling scheme. And in 2009, his company was slapped with a $2.5 billion for alleged unpaid taxes.

[19:30:05] The fine later reduced through an appeal. Do?an's company says these charges are politically motivated and in an statement to CNN called them absurd.

Trump's partner on golf course developments in the United Arab Emirates, billionaire Hussain Sajwani, was found guilty in Egypt, in the case involving allegations of government corruption. And Sajwani eventually settled out of court, but the Canadian government confirmed to CNN that it froze his assets until 2014.

That didn't seem to bother the president-elect who licenses his name to the same man for two new Dubai golf courses.

It goes on and on. In Azerbaijan, a country with a history of corruption and human rights abuses, the Trump organization just confirmed to CNN that it's now terminated its deal for a Trump-branded hotel.

In Indonesia, he's partnering with a billionaire businessman who like Trump has jumped into politics, forming his own party and also like Trump once publicly stated in an interview, he admires Vladimir Putin.

In the Philippines, his condominium licensing partner has just been named special trade envoy to the United States.

It's not just that there is potential conflict of interest here, says Larry Noble with the Campaign Legal Center. It's that the incoming U.S. president, who built his business around the globe, already has a world of actual conflicts of interest he will deal with on day one.

LARRY NOBLE, THE CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: There is a danger, because the foreign leaders, foreign business people are going to be concerned ads dealing with the president, dealing with the president's family. So, they are going to be making decisions knowing that they are helping the president's children, they are helping the president and they may get something for it.

GRIFFIN: It is a potential problem that concerns former U.S. ambassador and national security advisor, James Jeffery, especially since Trump appears to be keeping his business intact and in the family.

JAMES JEFFERY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: If you do not divest yourself of all foreign holdings and for that matter, domestic holdings or put them in true blind trusts, you open yourself up obviously to these questions.

GRIFFIN: Questions that will dog the administration any time a decision is made concerning any country where a Trump tower or a Trump project, the Trump golf course has been built.

Ambassador Jeffery says it will be up to Trump to prove he's putting America and not his business first and up to the rest of us to make sure.

JEFFERY: Essentially a president can do what he or she wants to do, can have the assets, can have the relationships, and it's up to the American people, the media and the Congress in the end to pass judgment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Erin, as for those three deals the Trump Organization just terminated, the company is not telling us exactly why. But we do know those developers in Rio, they ran into legal troubles. That developer in Azerbaijan appears to just flat out run out of money. What we can confirm though is all these other Trump projects across the globe are moving forward with no plans to separate from their soon to be presidential brand name -- Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, Drew, it's incredible. So, you are saying when you looked at the partner in the United Arab Emirates, guilty of government corruption. Assets frozen in Canada. In Turkey, alleged fuel smuggling scheme, billion dollars in avoided taxes. He says it is political. Obviously, though criminal investigations going full steam ahead with those partners.

GRIFFIN: Absolutely. Full team ahead. I talked to Trump's attorney today. No plans to separate.

BURNETT: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you very much.

All right. Let's go now to Ben Ferguson, conservative radio talk show host. Keith Boykin, former aide in the Clinton White House.

Keith, you just heard, Drew. Alleged fuel smuggling scheme. That's from Turkey. Government corruption, that's from the United Arab Emirates. Criminal investigations. These are Trump's partners.

Should he be judged by these connections?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER AIDE TO CLINTON WHITE HOUSE: Well, I think he has a record, a history of dealing with crooks and criminals, dictators and despots. He's appointed his, or nominated his secretary state, Rex Tillerson, who has close ties with Vladimir Putin and others in his administration as well. I think that these will be concerns for the American people and, unfortunately, we're not shocked about it because this is part of who Trump is. And it is time for us to call him to account and hold him accountable.

BURNETT: So, Ben, just to be clear. Let's take United Arab Emirates. There are others there are who are massive property developers who do not have track records like this. Now, Sajwani may say this is all politically motivated and maybe it is. But the point is, there were others with whom to do business and he's not doing business with those people.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think you have to look at two things here. One, you look at the American people. They knew Donald Trump was an international businessman when they voted for him. It's one of the reasons why they liked him.

And the other things is they also canceled these three deals moving forward and said they are not going to do with other deals moving forward. And when you're dealing with licensing here, this is not as complex as actually going into business with someone every single day.

[19:35:03] A lot of this is licensing agreements that he had set up here.

I think the American people are smart enough to understand that Donald Trump built a brand and he sold his name to others that wanted to develop under it. And a lot of this I think is people that are trying -- they're angry that he won this election, they are frustrated over it. He did the right thing by saying, I'm not going any new business moving forward. And these other investigations that are underway, if it does turn out he's actually convicted of one of these crimes, then I think Donald Trump at that point, his holdings and his family should pull out of that deal as much as they can --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: His assets were frozen in Canada.

FERGUSON: Right. But they were also unfrozen in Canada after they decided what was going on there.

He did get his money back. They are not still frozen, right?

BURNETT: So, they said, in 2014, they became unfrozen. You are right about that.

FERGUSON: Correct.

BURNETT: But let me ask you this, though, because let's talk about this whole concept of licensing. When you say it is just licensing, right? Calvin Klein licensed for a while. The company almost went under because licensing your name causes all kind of problems. You've got to protect your brand and you got to know who you're doing business with. Ralph Lauren was incredibly worried when it did its business overseas for the very same reason. These are the names of individuals that were put on every item.

Isn't that the same as Donald Trump? Does it say something about him, that he would put his name, his most valuable outset in the hands of people who have in case after case after case as Drew laid out have pretty shady backgrounds?

FERGUSON: Well, I think you have to look at, some of these are alleged cases. They're not fact. The same way that you had an individual whose assets were frozen, they were also frozen, to which also tells you maybe they overstepped a little bit here. And some of this can be politically motivated.

I think Donald Trump has done a pretty good job, at least when it comes to the name, to build a brand that is five star and meant something around the world. Otherwise, people wouldn't be calling him, wanting his name to go on their golf course and on their buildings, or restaurants or their clothing line for that.

I've been critical of Donald Trump. And if he was continuing to do business moving forward and continuing to open up things, I said he shouldn't do that. He has said he's cancelled these three deals, I think the American people realize he's obviously taking this job incredibly seriously, as being the president.

BURNETT: Yes.

BOYKIN: No.

BURNETT: But what he built beforehand, he shouldn't have to get rid off --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: I can tell you, in the Emirates, he tried to license with other people who did not want to, for various reasons. Not because they didn't think it made much sense but pause they didn't think there was much value in the Trump name at the time in the Middle East.

But let me ask you what you see in terms of this, Keith. I mean, is this -- is closing these deals as Ben points out? And he hasn't closed, by the way, Emirates. He hasn't closed Turkey. He did close Baku and Azerbaijan.

Is that a step in the right direction?

BOYKIN: It's not enough, and we don't know why he closed the deals. We don't know the specifics of it. It could be because it was in the business interests not because it was the national interests.

If you look at the other issue with licensing, the way he uses his name, for example in the Philippines, the company that licenses his name there for the Trump buildings in the Philippines has appointed the chairman of the company to be -- the Philippine government -- the Philippine president rather, President Rodrigo Duterte, has appointed that person to be the envoy to the United States government, creating an obvious opportunity for conflict of interest, with Trump's interest and the national interest, because he's working with somebody who's a business partner.

Now, the problem is these issues haven't been taken seriously by Donald Trump unlike what Ben is saying and Trump has to do three things, if he really doesn't want to come into office under a cloud of suspicion and doubt. First, as I have said before, he has to release his tax returns, which he has refused to do. And second he needs --

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: Let me finish. Second, he needs to create a full and real blind trust for his priorities.

BURNETT: Well, he's not going to do either one of those.

BOYKIN: Regardless of whether he's going to do it. This is what he needs to do. He needs to create a blind trust, not a family blind trust.

And thirdly, he needs to divest his portfolio from all income that comes from foreign governments. This is a violation of the United States Constitution --

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: -- into office with a cloud of suspicion. -- let me finish. Ben let me finish. I let you speak. Ben -- I'm trying to finish --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: I want to get you in here because we.

FERGUSON: The cloud of the suspicion you are referring to is never going to go away from supporters like you of Hillary Clinton and others. You lost the election. Donald Trump --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Keith will get the last word. Ben go.

BOYKIN: Let me say this.

FERGUSON: The American people decided. Keith, give me two seconds.

The American people decided on Election Day there was not a cloud of suspicion over Donald Trump's head. In fact, it was over Hillary Clinton's head and that is why she lost the election.

For you to try to come in now and say that, oh, you'll respect and if he does these things, he has to do it, or everyone is going to think he's suspicious, that is a lie and false narrative that does not exist. He just won the election. People decided what you decided was wrong.

BURNETT: Quick final word, Keith.

BOYKIN: Two points. First of all, he lost the election by 3 million votes in the popular count.

[19:40:01] Secondly --

FERGUSON: He won the Electoral College.

BOYKIN: You mentioned Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton had the same shady business dealing that Donald Trump had --

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: Do you believe in freedom of speech or only your freedom of speech?

FERGUSON: I do.

(CROSSTAK)

BURNETT: Please finish, we got to go.

BOYKIN: Thank you. The point is if Hillary Clinton did half of what Donald Trump was doing, you know very well that you would be the very first person attacking her and I think --

FERGUSON: The Clinton Foundation, I agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: She was attacked on CGI and donations in the foundation.

Thank you both.

Next, one of Trump's earliest supporters now advising him on top cabinet picks. Jerry Falwell Jr. is going to go inside those conversations with you, next.

And Ivanka Trump lobbying Congress today, why? Tonight, we have new details on what the calls were about and her role in the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: New tonight, a major evangelical leader doubling down on criticism of President-elect Trump for picking Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council, writing about Tillerson in part, quote, "He capitulated to activists pushing to liberalize the Boy Scouts' policy on homosexuality when he was at the helm of the organization."

Perkins raised a similar concern earlier this week.

OUTFRONT now, one of President-elect Trump's earliest and most loyal supporters, Jerry Falwell Jr. He's the president of the largest Christian university in the world, Liberty University.

[19:45:02] And, Jerry, thanks. Good to have you back on.

And I want to get your thoughts on Rex Tillerson. But, first, I know you and President-elect Trump speak regularly. What have you been talking about?

JERRY FALWELL, JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Well, you know, it is amazing. Even after the election, he still answers his cell phone regularly. I was at a Trump victory party at a local restaurant the other night and the crowd asked if I could get Trump on the phone. Without any warning, I called him. He answered and he gave a little speech there to the crowd there on the speaker phone with my cell phone.

And he's the most approachable national candidate I've ever encountered. And I think that just speaks to his love for this country and his love for this country's people. And it is just refreshing to have somebody like that on his way to the White House.

BURNETT: Now, you know, he's speaking to you. Is he -- do you have any knowledge of whether he'll be having regular meetings with anyone of faith or spiritual advice in any way when he enters the White House?

FALWELL: Yes, it's definitely. There's evangelical advisory boards and there's faith advisory boards and he and invited my wife and I to come to New York in November 17th and we talked about secretary of education, a role for me. And I was honored that he recognized Liberty University success over the last ten years and chronicled of higher education, called Liberty's business model the future of the higher education.

And he needed a four to six-year commitment, I can only commit to leave Liberty -- I've been here for thirty years. I couldn't leave for more than one or two years. I've got too much invested here.

My role I think will be more geared towards advising on Department of Education issues and the onerous regulations that the Department of Education has put forth. They really micromanage colleges in ways that I think are inappropriate.

BURNETT: So, you will be advising --

FALWELL: So that would be more my role.

BURNETT: You will be advising the president, but it sounds like in an informal role, informal for you?

FALWELL: That's not for sure yet. It could be a task force. And I'm more than willing to do that. Maybe me chairing a task force on higher education issues, and I'm more than willing to do that. I just can't leave Liberty University after investing 30 years here for more than a year or two. And so, I'm excited about in any way I can help besides leaving Liberty.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you, because you saw what evangelical leader Tony Perkins said about Rex Tillerson, who obviously is Donald Trump's choice for the next secretary of state.

In his criticism, he wrote in part, this is Tony Perkins, "The ExxonMobil executive may be the greatest ally liberals have in the cabinet for their abortion and LGBT agendas. To hear that Donald Trump may be appointing a man who not only led the charge to open the Boy Scouts go gay troop leaders, but whose company directly gives to Planned Parenthood is upsetting at best."

Is Tony Perkins right?

FALWELL: Yes, Tony's a good friend but I disagree with him on this issue.

You know, I watched Trump put together his cabinet and it's been so exciting to me because I've watched it go from a group of theoreticians and academicians under Obama to people who really succeeded in the real world. And it reminds of 1989, before that date, only amateurs could compete in the Olympics. No professional athletes were allowed.

They changed the rule. The United States put together the best NBA players, created the Dream Team, went on to win in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. They beat every team by an average of 44 points. That is what I see happening.

I think Trump is putting together a dream team. He's picking the best from every industry, from every walk of life and it's people who have actually succeeded. And I think that is what this country needs. I think the American people said no more amateurs.

BURNETT: Yes. So, Jerry, you're not -- you're not upset about Rex Tillerson's social views? I mean, he's credited and lauded by many, credited with allowing gays into the Boy Scouts. This is something a lot of people support him for --

FALWELL: I don't see what his views on social issues have to do with being secretary of state. I think that is a role that will focus on diplomacy, on deal-making, which as the leader of a global enterprise, CEO of ExxonMobil he's so good at it. And I don't think the social issues will ever come up in his role of secretary of state.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Jerry Falwell, Jr., I appreciate your time. Good to talk to you again, sir. Thank you.

FALWELL: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next. First daughter Ivanka Trump, how much of the first lady's role will she be taking on?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:53:14] BURNETT: New tonight, Ivanka Trump on to phone to Congress, calling members to talk about child care legislation. It comes as we're learning the soon-to-be first daughter, may be more of a first lady.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REPORTER: The Christmas season brings Mrs. Kennedy to a children's hospital in Washington for a visit with ill and crippled children.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifty-five holiday seasons ago, the first lady was doing what so many have since, making ceremonial appearances, pushing social causes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just say no.

FOREMAN: Sometimes grappling with governmental issues.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY: We know we can get savings.

FOREMAN: But when Donald Trump's wife Melania slips into that role, it is now clear she will have company.

His older daughter Ivanka is expected to play a major part in the pageantry and policies of his presidency.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: He will deliver.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Ivanka is incredibly committed to women in the workplace, women in the economy, women entrepreneurs. She's had a wonderful platform during the campaign. Certainly, she and her father announcing the child care and elder care plan was a big part of the plan and outreach to women, particularly.

FOREMAN: Already, there is talk about Ivanka having an office at the White House, since her role is not yet defined, the transition team is pushing back on that, but she and her husband have been house shopping in D.C. She's Instagramed about her father's summit with the tech industry. Sat in on chats with world leaders. Helped arrange a meeting with Al Gore to talk about climate change.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I found it extremely interesting conversation.

FOREMAN: The Ivy League educated 35-year-old has been a key player in her dad's business empire for a long time and she's helped temper some of his hottest moments on the campaign trail, too.

[19:55:04] IVANKA TRUMP: While I do tell him sometimes to withhold some of that sort of fire. I also understand it and I think it's instinct and I think it speaks to his passion.

FOREMAN: In return, he openly admires her intelligence, drive, sometimes to an uncomfortable level, her looks, as it was on "The View" half dozen years ago.

TRUMP: If Ivanka weren't by daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it. So weird.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Well, in business terms, the bottom line is clear. This White House is going to be a family affair and Ivanka will almost certainly be the most influential child of a sitting president we've seen in modern times -- Erin.

BURNETT: For sure. Thank you, Tom.

And we'll be weight right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch the show anytime, anywhere on CNN Go.

Have a great night. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.