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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Truck in Berlin Plows into Christmas Crowd; Assassination of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey; Electoral College Affirms Trump's Victory; Michelle Obama Reacts to Being Called an "Angry Black Woman". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 19, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "Outfront" next breaking news, a deadly rampage of a crowded Christmas market, a truck plows into shoppers, killing at least nine. And caught on tape, a Russian diplomat assassinated in Turkey.
Tonight, Donald Trump calling the attacker a radical Islamic terrorist. And despite death threats and protests, the Electoral College affirms Donald Trump is the victor.
As Bill Clinton says the one thing Trump knows is how to get angry white men to vote for him. Let's go "Outfront."
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. "Outfront" tonight, the breaking news -- deadly attacks, at least nine dead, more than 50 injured as a truck plows into a packed Christmas market in the heart of Berlin.
The truck ran through the town square up onto the sidewalk, a witness telling "Outfront" it was traveling at high speed as it mowed people down. They were out shopping just a few days before Christmas day.
Donald Trump releasing a statement saying, "Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday. ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad."
And the White House is condemning what it says appears to be a terror attack. This, as the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated while speaking at an art gallery.
All of this was caught on video. Russia calls the assassination a terror attack. I want to warn you, the video we're going to show you a clip of is extremely graphic and disturbing, not suitable for children.
Our full report coming up in moments. The gunman who Trump called a radical Islamist terrorist is dead. We will have much more on this.
I want to begin, though, with Fred Pleitgen. He is in Berlin tonight.
And Fred, the driver is in custody. What more are you learning about a motive?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. Well, there's very little that we know so far in the way of a motive. I want to paint the picture of the scene here for you.
You can see behind me, there's a lot of police vans. Actually, right behind what you see right there, that is where the truck came to a standstill after obviously plowing through that Christmas market, plowing through a lot of market stalls there and a lot of people and really, impossible for those people to try and get away.
Now, what the police are telling us, Erin, is that in the truck, after it stopped, they found a person who was dead on the passenger seat. And then later, they apprehended another person away from the crime scene several blocks down the road.
They're questioning that person. They say at this point in time, they're not sure of the nationality of that person yet or if they can tell for sure that this is the person who was at the wheel of this truck as it plowed through.
Now, we do know that the truck has Polish license plates. And the police here in Berlin are saying they believe the truck may have hijacked or stolen in Poland.
For our viewers, we have to say that Poland is only about a one and a half to two-hour drive away from Berlin. It may have been hijacked there, stolen there, and then brought here in Berlin to possibly perpetrate what you see behind me right now.
They also say that the truck was actually loaded with metal rods. So it wasn't only going very fast. It was also very heavy, obviously, making it even more deadly as it plowed into those many people.
Of course we know now, Erin, at least nine people killed. The police just came out and said 45 people, they're saying, were injured in this incident, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much, reporting there live from the scene of this horrific tragedy in Berlin. This was a crowded Christmas market, hundreds of people enjoying the festivities in these final days before Christmas, including my next guest, Emma Rushton. She was at the market.
She witnessed the crash. She joins me now on the phone.
Emma, I'm so glad you are safe. It's impossible to imagine you're out, right? You're -- you're celebrating. You're -- you're getting last-minute Christmas gifts.
You were there when this attack happened. What did you see?
EMMA RUSHTON, TRUCK ATTACK EYEWITNESS, BERLIN, GERMANY: So, I mean, we -- we saw a lot of it, to be honest. We -- we'd gone down to the German Christmas market. We arrived here at lunchtime today. We've never been to -- to Berlin before, wanted to -- to see the
festivities. We'd gone and got some mulled wine. And we were passing (ph) a booth behind the -- the hut where we bought it from when we heard an almighty, bang, crash from the -- the left side of us.
So we looked over. The Christmas lights overhanging the market started to be torn down. And then we saw the articulated vehicle go from our left to our right, crashing into people, crushing into huts, completely decimated the hut where we bought the -- the mulled wine from.
So it was sort of eight to 10 feet in front of us. It -- we were so incredibly lucky to be, you know, that -- that many feet back and has not left two minutes earlier like we planned to do because we could have been right in -- in the path of it.
BURNETT: I mean, it's -- it's just unbelievable, eight to 10 feet. I mean, can you -- could you see the driver's face or -- or his reaction as he was slamming into people?
I mean, you saw him hitting people who were, you know, obviously enjoying themselves and then desperately fleeing for their lives.
RUSHTON: Yes, no, we couldn't see. It -- it all happened so quickly and to be honest, the -- the truck was moving far too quickly for us to even register what was happening and then look and see in the cabin.
We -- we just saw the -- the lorry (ph) with a dark-colored lorry. It -- it pulled all the lights down so everything sort of went into darkness.
And we could -- we could hear people, we could hear crashing. It was -- it's happened so quickly and there was no signs of -- of the truck slowing down at all. It was terrifying.
BURNETT: No signs of it slowing down. And you say it was going very quickly. So it appears like, I mean, there's no question in your mind, right, this was done with intent.
RUSHTON: I -- you know, I'm no expert. I don't deal with traffic collisions every day. But to -- to me, the -- the square where the Christmas market is, there are a couple of busy roads either side of it, this went straight through the middle of the square.
If it veered off the road and hit the side of the market, you could kind of understand maybe an accident. But for us, looking at it from -- from where we were, we were we in the middle of the market.
There was no way it just veered off the road.
BURNETT: After the truck passed, what -- what happened? People must have been in shock. And -- and I know you were there then with -- with the injured. RUSHTON: Yes. So we -- the first thing I did was pulled my phone out
and call my -- my mother to make sure that she knew that I -- I was safe and we were OK. My whole body had -- had gone numb.
We just didn't know what to do. We didn't know whether we were safe to stay there because we didn't know if there was something else going to happen.
So we decided the best thing to do was just to get out of there and get back to our hotel. But the route to our hotel, we had to walk past all of the destruction and past the people who were injured and the pools of blood, people in a recovery position, people helping.
And we wanted to stay and help. But, you know, the -- the language barrier there and we also just wanted to make sure that -- that we were safe, first and foremost.
And -- and that's what we wanted to make sure that we did.
BURNETT: All right, well, Emma, thank you so much. We very much appreciate your talking to us.
And we're very glad you're OK tonight.
RUSHTON: Thank you.
BURNETT: "Outfront" now, Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterror official, Chris Swecker, former assistant FBI director for Criminal Investigative Division, and Paul Cruickshank, our terror analyst.
I have a picture of the truck I'm going to show in just a moment.
But first, Paul, you've been talking to your sources. What have you learned about this attack?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: Well, Erin, they're investigating this as a terrorist attack. But they have not yet made that determination that it, indeed, was a terrorist attack.
But as officials look at what has played out in the last few hours in Berlin, they see the similarities with the Nice attack in the summer, in which 86 people were killed by an ISIS-inspired attack, driving a large truck. They see the parallels just a few weeks ago to that attacker at (ph) Ohio State University in the United States, a smaller car that was involved in that attack.
And fortunately, there were no fatalities in -- in -- in that example. But they're looking at this as -- as a potential terrorist attack.
We have not had any claim of responsibility yet from any terrorist group. ISIS has been silent on this so far. That may change in the hours ahead.
What ISIS have been calling on their recruits to do as well as launch these kind of truck attacks is actually leave some kind of note, some kind of claim of responsibility behind so that they attach this to some kind of terrorist groups. But if German officials have found something like that, they have certainly not revealed that yet to the public.
BURNETT: And Phil, there's a lot of questions here because you heard Fred Pleitgen's reporting. They found a man -- a body in the passenger seat of this truck but not in the driver's seat.
And they're questioning a man they found a few blocks away that -- that may have been the driver but they don't at this point, which leaves open the possibility this person could be on the run. We just -- there's a lot we don't know at this moment.
PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERRORISM OFFICIAL: That's right. The first question is not what happened in this case, if you're an investigator, Erin. Finding that person is critical, not to talk to him about the attack.
You've got three questions for him. Number one, are there other perpetrators involved and do they have another plot that they want to unleash within the next day or two?
Imminent threat is your first question if you have a live person. Number two, did anybody support you?
And I think one of the most significant questions here is, is this isolated. Are these lone wolves?
Are they directed from an operations unit in (ph) ISIS that might be directing other people in Europe?
That's why the live guys are so important. Those quick questions that you can't get just by looking at someone's sort of Facebook or their e-mail traffic.
BURNETT: And -- and Chris, let me just show for you. We do now have a picture of the truck. And you heard Emma describe it to me as a large, dark truck.
This is the truck. You heard Fred Pleitgen's reporting that they may have stolen or hijacked this in Poland, which is an hour and a half or so away from where this attack happened. It was loaded with metal rods.
Now, this picture is from last month. But this is the same truck. When you see the truck of this size, it's a new truck, now you hear that it's loaded with metal rods, what is your takeaway about about what happened?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION, FBI: Yes, when I first heard about this and saw this, I immediately thought this was a hijack situation where -- where they had taken over the truck or they, or he, had carjacked or truckjacked the truck. And it's a legitimate load. Poland is not a terrorism hotbed. So I think it's highly likely that
this was a hijacking situation. And I think it shows how adaptable these terrorist organizations and their followers are.
You can't get into a venue on foot, you kill them with a truck. You can't get inside the airport perimeter, you set -- set off your bombs outside the perimeter.
They're constantly adapting. And this is -- this is becoming a trend.
BURNETT: And Phil, you know, Donald Trump coming out and -- and not only, you know, talking about ISIS and other Islamist terrorists right away, is it fair at this point, for you, to go that far to say certainly ISIS? I mean, it certainly fits the profile.
MUDD: It doesn't matter if it fits the profile. It's not a fact.
BURNETT: So you're saying, it's too early to call it that?
MUDD: I'm sorry -- yes, and -- and furthermore, the comments about Turkey are way too early. You've got a humanitarian disaster in Syria. The Russian ambassador is assassinated.
That individual, in my view, might as well have been protesting the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo as aligning with ISIS. I think it's way too early to figure out what we got here.
We don't have facts yet.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to all three of you. We're going to be talking more about this because this story is -- is unbelievable, brazen (ph) in the middle of an art gallery, an assassination on camera, a Russian diplomat assassinated in cold blood -- all of this on video.
We're going to explain to you exactly what we do know about this horrific attack and unbelievable attack. Plus the Electoral College officially confirming Donald Trump will be the president of the United States, as Bill Clinton speaks out on who he feels is to blame for his wife's defeat.
And Michelle Obama, her reaction to being called an angry black woman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: ...a bit (ph).
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: That was one of those things that you just sort of think, dang, you don't even know me.
OBAMA: You know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news, Donald Trump's saying, the shocking and public assassination of Russia's ambassador was done by a, quote, "radical Islamic terrorist. I want to warn you, what we are about to show you is graphic.
Russia's ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in public, speaking there at an art gallery, the entire murder caught on video. The gunman, you see him right there, right, just walks up behind him, shouting, "Allahu Akbar" and "Do not forget Aleppo."
It all took place in that art gallery. The gunman was a Turkish policeman. Barbara Starr is "Outfront."
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The shocking assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey caught on video. Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead while making a speech at an art exhibition in Turkey's capital, Ankara.
The horrifying moment the ambassador is hit and falls to the ground, after being shot in the back with multiple rounds. As onlookers scrambled for safety, the gunman shouted defiantly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUNMAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): God is greatest. Do not forget Aleppo. Do not forget Syria. Do not forget Aleppo.
Do not forget Syria. Get back. Get back. Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Turkish authorities said the attacker was, quote, "neutralized." Russian President Vladimir Putin tonight reacting to the assassination.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The only response we should offer to this murder is stepping up our fight against terror. And the criminals will feel the heat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Turkey's interior minister said the gunman was a law enforcement officer, a 22-year-old member of the riot police who was born in Turkey. The State Department condemned the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: We stand ready to offer any assistance that may be required to Russia and Turkey as they investigate this despicable attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: A journalist took these stunning photographs moments after the carnage began. After the attack, as the ambassador was quickly taken to the hospital, Turkish security forces swarmed the area.
It is not clear what impact the killing may have now on Turkey's sometimes fragile relations with Russia, which hit an all-time low after Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November 2015. Russia also is widely blamed by many in the region for its part in supporting Syria's Assad regime amid a humanitarian crisis taking place in war-torn Aleppo.
Following the ambassador's assassination, Turkish president Erdogan and Russian President Putin spoke by phone according to a Russian news agency. The slain ambassador had served as Russia's ambassador to Turkey since 2013.
He was married and had one son, according to the Russian embassy.
STARR: And now, the question for the Russians may be whether their people in Turkey are now a target for anti-Assad militants looking across the border, Turkey, of course, a NATO ally.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Barbara Starr. In "Outfront" now, Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush.
And thank you so much for being with me again. I wanted to -- to look at this video again. I mean, it's brazen. It's unbelievable.
The murderer is just standing there in that public location in an art gallery. He assassinates the ambassador who has a security detail and has the time to yell his grievance again and again.
I mean, were you shocked to see something like this happen?
STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Absolutely. It is shocking. It's -- its' really unbelievable. It's an outrage.
We obviously need to condemn it as the State Department has done and offer condolences. This is -- this is shocking.
There's no excuse for something like this.
BURNETT: I mean, you have a sitting Russian ambassador murdered in cold blood by a member of another country's security forces.
[19:20:03] I mean, tonight, Vladimir Putin called it a provocation and -- and his his words were, I'll quote him, Stephen, "We need to know who directed the killer's hand." What is Vladimir Putin going to do about this?
It's a question of utmost importance to the U.S. with Turkey a NATO ally?
HADLEY: Sure. Well, the first thing they've got to do is an investigation. I'm sure the Russian and Turkish authorities are going to work together on that and try to figure out the circumstances.
Was this person acting alone? Was this person acting with others? Was he being directed by the outside?
We -- there's a lot we need to know. And secondly, in the film clip that you -- you played, Putin basically said -- President Putin said that the solution to this is to double down in his campaign against -- against the terrorists.
And I'm sure he had in mind ISIS and al Qaeda in his -- in his thoughts.
BURNETT: So -- so on that -- on that point, the State Department was asked if this was an act of terrorism. And -- and the spokesperson, John Kirby, said, "We need to let the investigation run its course."
Donald Trump, of course, put out a statement saying the ambassador was assassinated by a, quote, "radical Islamic terrorist." Did Trump go too far on this?
We don't know the motive and, of course, he said "remember Aleppo" which could mean that he is angry at Russia for killing civilians, which would be very different than being motivated in support of ISIS.
HADLEY: It's -- it's hard to know. I mean, that's why you need to do an investigation. But he did make -- he did invoke Allah in his comments.
He said that they will never take me alive. This does have the hallmarks of somebody that has been radicalized in some form. But, you know, it's really too soon to say.
But you certainly cannot rule it out. And that is what the investigation needs to show.
BURNETT: I'm curious, though, when you say it's too soon to say, but -- but you do see some of the signs.
BURNETT: Do you think Trump putting out a statement saying that this was a radical Islamic terrorist, should -- should he have done that as the president-elect?
HADLEY: Look, I -- you know, I -- I think we can -- we tend to overreact to these quick statements and -- and I think let's not make too much about it. Obviously, it was a shocking act.
Obviously, in some sense, it -- it was terrorism.
HADLEY: The innocent killing of a -- of a civilian, we should be very clear about that, in this case, a -- a Russian government official. That is a terrorist act.
What we need to know is the motivations and associations of the person who did it. And that, of course, is what the investigation will try to show.
BURNETT: So, you know, there was also the attack in -- in Germany today, in Berlin.
BURNETT: And -- and Trump went a step farther there as well. Now, the White House saying it appears to be a terrorist attack, Trump definitively calling it a horrifying terror attack and went on to specifically talk about ISIS.
I guess the big-picture question to you is, you know, he's done this before, right? Before the intelligence services come out and are definitive, even when everyone knows that's probably the way it's going to go but they don't have the facts yet, he will come out and say it.
Is that better to be definitive, use the word "Islamic terror?" Is that more or less effective than -- than waiting and following the intelligence community?
HADLEY: Well, sometimes, we -- we need to do both. I mean, what is terrorism? We always thought the definition of terrorism is the innocent killing of civilians for political purposes or for some other agenda.
These both look very much like terrorism in terms of certainly the comments that were made after the -- the killing of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, and in the circumstances of what happened in Germany.
BURNETT: But what about -- I guess what I'm focused in on is the -- the use of the word "Islamic."
HADLEY: I didn't hear from his comments whether he used that phrase or not. But clearly, we know that there is a lot of terrorism going on.
We know that ISIS and al Qaeda have made these kind of attacks the hallmark of their -- their campaigns. So it's -- it's not much of a stretch. But, again, obviously, there will need to be an investigation in both
cases as some of the folks you had earlier said. And that is the proper course.
BURNETT: Yes. Now, Russia has been a flashpoint in this election, right? And now, you have...
BURNETT: ...this -- this whole question about Trump and Putin and their relationship. Trump has not yet accepted the intelligence community's assessment, which is Russia tried to help Clinton win the U.S. election via hacking.
Is Trump making a mistake to not back his own intelligence community at this point? Or do you think he's doing the right thing?
HADLEY: Well, you know, we don't really have an assessment. What we have, as I understand it, and again, I've -- I haven't been briefed on it, I'm only talking on the basis of what I read in the newspapers.
But we have apparently a CIA report which was leaked by some members to the press. It has not been made public.
There's a question about whether the FBI and other parts of the intelligence community support it or not. Again, people are saying that they do.
But we haven't heard anything definitive about that. And, of course, the DNI has said that he is conducting an investigation. The...
BURNETT: So you think that they need to put their evidence out there? That's where you stand?
HADLEY: I do. I -- I do. I think this -- if there is evidence to this effect, the American people need to know it. And to be waging this -- this -- this sort of public relations campaign, if you will, on the basis of -- of leaked documents and innuendo.
An inference, I think, is not good. This is an important issue. If there is evidence, I think there ought to be a way to get it out to the American people now.
And then the investigation by the administration and by the Hill ought to be undertaken so that the American people know what happened here.
BURNETT: And -- and you don't share, just, you know, they -- they may come out and say, well, then we would give away our methods. They would know how we would know.
When we come out with an assessment, there should be -- it should be taken very seriously. We wouldn't do so lightly. Do you buy that at all? HADLEY: Well, look, any intelligence assessment that is made public
has to be gone through to eliminate sources and methods so that you don't blow your sources.
HADLEY: But usually, that is a pretty easy process. There is standard protocols to do it. There's a lot that can be -- can be said separate from that.
And the real question is, is this just a circumstantial case or is there hard evidence? And that's what the American people want to know.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Stephen Hadley, thank you very much for your time tonight.
HADLEY: Nice to be with you.
BURNETT: And next, Donald Trump slamming the media after his Electoral College victory tonight tweeting, "We did it despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media." And Michelle Obama in an interview later tonight shares the advice she gave Melania Trump.
You'll hear it here.
BURNETT: Breaking news, it's now official. The Electoral College has voted, confirming Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States.
Trump tweeted moments ago, "We did it. Thank you to all of my great supporters.
[19:30:02] We just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media)."
Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Electors may be carrying out their official function and selecting a president on behalf of the voters they represent today but they won't be able to heal the political wounds still raw, and on display at statehouses across the nation.
One of those electors in New York, former President Bill Clinton, cast his vote for Hillary Clinton. Smiling, but candid, about the forces he saw conspiring against his wife. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I watched her battle through that
bogus e-mail deal, fought through everything. And she prevailed against it all but, you know, then at the end, we had the Russians and the FBI deal which she couldn't prevail against that. She did everything else and still won by 2.8 million votes.
ACOSTA: Pushing back on those hard feelings, Donald Trump railed against the idea advocated by some Democrats that electors revolt and throw the elections to the House of Representatives, tweeting, "If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned and called terrible names."
Trump now defends the Electoral College, a system he once slammed as unfair.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I never appreciated it until now, how genius it was. What they had in mind.
ACOSTA: President Obama told National Public Radio, Democrats had problems, an election system he's described as antiquated.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we're not showing up, if we're not in there making an argument, then we're going to lose. And we can lose badly and that's what happened in this election.
ACOSTA: Trump's top advisers are still tearing into the notion that Russian hackers tipped the balance in the election.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: The entire nonsense about the electors trying to use the Russian hacking issue to change the election results is really unfortunate. I think that actually undermines our democracy more than any other conversation that we're having.
ACOSTA: But even a fellow Republican, Senator John McCain, said Moscow's interference is a troubling sign of the times.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This should be the sign of a possible unraveling of the world order that was established after World War II, which is one of the most peaceful periods in the history of the world.
ACOSTA: In a statement on his official victory in the Electoral College, Trump called his win a, quote, "landslide". But by historic standards, Erin, it was not, Reagan in '84, Nixon in '72, even LBJ in '64 were all landslides. Trump's win in 2016 does not come close to those overwhelming victories, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Jim, thank you.
And OUTFRONT now, Salena Zito, reporter for "The Washington Examiner", along with Ben Ferguson, host of "The Ben Ferguson Radio Show", and Basil Smikle, an elector from the state of New York, and executive director of the New York state Democratic Party. So, Basil, you were there today. You cast your vote. You heard Bill
Clinton after he cast his still at the end of that little clip there, she prevailed over everything but couldn't ultimately prevail against Russia and the FBI, still blaming Russia and the FBI for her loss.
Does everyone need to accept this is over now and move on?
BASIL SMIKLE, NEW YORK STATE ELECTOR: Well, I think we all have. I mean, listen, the vote today was bittersweet. It was -- it was heartbreaking in many ways. And one of the things he said today is it's the proudest vote he's ever made or even taken.
So, I think for him the emotion obviously couldn't be any greater that his wife ran for president of the United States and he for so long was the standard bearer of the Democratic Party. So, we are all feeling this, but I think there are a lot of folks that are saying -- that are sort of implying that we're whining and so on and won't let it go.
I don't think that's the case. We're pushing forward. We'll elect a new DNC leader at the end of February and looking forward to sort of a strategy going forward.
FERGUSON: So, Ben, you know, there were threats made against some Trump delegates. One of them, you know, in a report here on OUTFRONT, said he got 2,000 letters in one week. People were telling him, and I quote, "I hope you die." He was incredibly sanguine in the face -- this was incredibly nasty stuff.
Donald Trump came out and then said this in response. He said, "If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned and called terrible names."
Should he be getting involved in this back and forth? Is that helping move everybody forward?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there certainly a point, he's trying to defend those who are taking a lot of this heat. Because he won the election, he's defending people that are doing their job and supported him and saying exactly he believes there's a double standard out there. I do believe there's a double standard on this.
I mean, the amount of heat that Trump supporters have taken, whether it be the basket of deplorables and from then on out, it was basically open season on Trump supporters, and this individual who was going to cast his vote shouldn't have to deal with this type of harassment.
I also say this, though, about the Democrats.
[19:35:02] If this is not whining, what they've been doing since election day. I'd hate to see what whining looks like.
I will tell you, as a Republican, I don't think they learned anything from this loss. They don't some to be correcting some of problems they had including the trust issue with Hillary Clinton. So, I'm glad -- I mean, from my perspective, I'm glad you guys are doing it this way because you're going to be easier to beat in the midterms as well.
SMIKLE: Can I say this? First of all, language matters. So, to say there's open season on Trump supporters, a backhanded way saying Democrats are pushing that -- no, no, stop --
SMIKLE: The party nor the campaign is doing that, so that's number one.
FERGUSON: Two thousand Democrats.
SMIKLE: Number two -- number one, the party is not doing that. Number two, we are not whining. This is about getting us back on track. It's not a problem to say that the narrative about Hillary Clinton at the end of that campaign cycle changed. It absolutely did. But there's nothing that we could have done about that to change that.
Now, we have to look and focus on the future. That's what we're doing.
BURNETT: OK. So, Salina, you had Bill Clinton, enter Bill Clinton in this discussion, because not only did he say what he said there on camera, what you heard, right? She prevailed against everything, but she couldn't prevail against Russia and the FBI.
He then was asked by a local newspaper today after he voted if Donald Trump was smart. He responded with, "He doesn't know much. One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him." Does Bill Clinton need to give Trump more credit at this point?
SALENA ZITO, STAFF REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Absolutely. Those are the same voters that voted for him in 1992 and the 1996 and if you look along the Mahoning Valley, and in Jackson County, Wisconsin, in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, these are the same voters that voted for Barack Obama.
I think Democrats need to be -- I've talked to a lo of grassroots Democrats who are sort of frustrated with all this noise going on with the Electoral College and with Jill Stein. They really want the Democratic leaders to focus on rebuilding the party. They've lost 919 state legislative seats in eight years. That really impacts grassroots activists.
They want to see more party building. They want to see new candidates attracted and they want to see money devoted to those kinds of candidates to start to rebuild the party and rebuild the bench. And that's what they want to see them talk about.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you, all, very much. I appreciate it.
And next, Michelle Obama with Oprah, she said she's lost hope. Trump supporters are now firing back.
And my guest, a billionaire businessman who has thousands of employees in Mexico. What Trump's call for Mexican wall really means.
[19:41:26] BURNETT: New tonight, the first lady, Michelle Obama, opening up about her time in the White House. In an interview airing this evening with Oprah, saying that she was shocked and surprised over being perceived as an angry black woman. She also was revealing tonight new details about her relationship with the incoming first lady, Melania Trump.
Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As she prepares to leave the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, more popular than ever, is reflecting on the path that led her here, a sometimes rocky road, like in 2008 when she was criticized for statements like this.
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.
JONES: Even depicted as a black militant on the cover of the "New Yorker" magazine.
OPRAH WINFREY, TV TALK SHOW HOST: When you were labeled that angry black woman, is that one of the things that knocked you back a bit?
OBAMA: That's one of those things you just sort of thing, dang, you don't even know me. You think, that is so not me. But then you sort of think, this isn't about me. This is about the person or the people who write it.
I thought, OK, well let me live my life out loud so that people can then see and then judge for themselves.
JONES: Mrs. Obama who also graces this month's "Vogue" cover, in some ways making a closing argument for her own legacy through these exit interviews, and telling Oprah Winfrey her husband gave people hope, drawing a contrast with the man who will succeed him.
OBAMA: See, now we're feeling what not having hope feels like. You know? Hope is necessary.
JONES: Prompting this response from President-elect Donald Trump.
TRUMP: I actually think she made that statement not meaning it the way it came out. I really do, because I met with President Obama and Michelle Obama in the White House, my wife was there, she could not have been nicer.
JONES: That grace on display as Mrs. Obama spoke about her conversation with Mrs. Trump.
OBAMA: My offer to Melania was, you know, you really don't know what you don't know until you're here. So, the door is open, as I've told her. I'm modeling what was done for me by the Bushes.
OBAMA: And Laura Bush was nothing but gracious and helpful.
JONES: And as those eight years draw to a close, the soon-to-be former first family is preparing to move just a couple miles up the road to this nine-bedroom rental until their youngest daughter, Sasha, finishes high school, leaving the White House but not Washington behind.
BURNETT: And Athena joins us live from Honolulu.
Of course, Athena, you're there because the first family is there for your holiday vacation. What do you know about Michelle Obama's plans after she leaves the White House?
JONES: Well, a big takeaway from the interview she's been giving is she's leaving the White House but she's not going to be leaving the public stage. She is well-liked. She has a lot of influence and is going to use that influence in her post-politics life she's about to embark on.
She's talked about wanting to remain engaged if public life, in public service, continuing work perhaps on some of the issues she's well known for, things like girls' education and mentorship and promoting healthy eating and also, perhaps, taking on some new initiatives. She told "Vogue" magazine, I've never been a former first lady before, I'm going to have to feel it out and see how I want that life to look, what I want that life to look like.
[19:45:00] First, though, President Obama said he promised to take her on a long vacation after the inauguration -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Athena.
And OUTFRONT now, David Gergen, former presidential adviser to four presidents.
David, you know, you just saw Donald Trump saying, oh, she didn't really mean what everybody else thought she meant when she talked about now she knows what it feels like to have no hope. If anyone else had said that about him, he would be slamming them. Why so restrained when it comes to her?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he just had this very productive meeting and both first ladies got along very well. He feels some warmth from President Obama. But it was very clear, I think to most listeners, that that was not a benign statement on her part. It was really a critique of where she thinks the country's heading under his leadership.
BURNETT: Yes, I mean, it's how pretty much everybody saw it, not much room for context. I mean, it wasn't edited out or anything like that. GERGEN: Yes.
BURNETT: As you pointed out, Donald Trump seems to respect the Obamas. You know, he has been rave in his reviews of President Obama, whenever he gets the chance, he brings him up. He seems to truly like him and now, of course, the first lady as well. It's almost as if they pulled some sort of magic.
If Josh Earnest said something bad, he'll pick on him, say he said it. Barack Obama must no have meant it. I mean, he really wants to like them.
GERGEN: Well, he sure does. You know, he's liked that. There's a peculiar quality about Donald Trump. And also, he sort of does live in a fantasy world in some ways, somebody says something nice about him, he thinks they really like him and somebody -- and then he interprets everything else for a while until he gets angry and then comes out against them. He lashes out.
So, I -- I think -- listen, I think the one thing the country can feel good about is the two couples are getting along very well. That's the good news in a time when many Americans are celebrating, but a lot of other Americans continue to be very distressed.
BURNETT: All right. David Gergen, thank you.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, my next guest has made billions on tequila and hair care. He has made his hair care right here in the United States of America. John Paul DeJoria knows Donald Trump and he's got some advice.
[19:51:02] BURNETT: Tonight, President-elect Donald Trump doubling down over his plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. This weekend, telling thousands of his supporters that while it may have appeared after the election that he was backing off the wall, never fear, he is sticking by what was a staple of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Do not worry. We are going to build the wall. OK? Don't worry. Don't even think about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was Saturday.
OUTFRONT now, John Paul DeJoria. He's a billionaire businessman, co- founder of Patron Saints and co-founder of Patron Spirits, and John Paul Mitchell Systems.
And, John Paul, thanks so much for joining me.
You know, first of all, so our viewers know, you know Trump but you didn't support him. You just heard him there this weekend, doubling down again on that wall. You do a lot of business in Mexico. You got a tequila distillery there. Thousands employed.
On a practical level, what would the wall do?
JOHN PAUL DEJORIA, BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN: Well, for starters, I just listened to his words you just played. He said, "We will build the wall." he didn't say Mexico's going to build the wall anymore. He said, "We will build the wall."
But I was just down in Mexico for a party we had for the holidays for 1,600 of our employees down there in Mexico. Wonderful people. Beautiful, hardworking people. They give the love behind patron.
And when I was talking with them, their mates that came down with them, 3,200 all together, I said, "What do you think of America, what do you think of Donald Trump, what do you think of what's going on?" They all said, "J.P., we love America. And we know during politics, people say things that aren't right just to get elected."
Now, would that wall, if it was built, stop illegal immigration? It's not going to stop it totally. Would it slow it down? Possibly. I don't know.
BURNETT: So, Trump's push against America's current trade deals is a big part of why he won, right? Voters who felt prosperity that have come from trade had permanently left them behind.
Here he is again making promises to them about jobs at the victory rallies he held through December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our goal is to bring back that wonderful phrase, remember some of you that are a little bit older, "Made in the USA." remember that beautiful -- "Made in the USA."
We're bringing our jobs back, folks. They've been ripped away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Can he keep that promise, "Made in the USA," "bringing our jobs back"?
DEJORIA: If he could keep some of his other promises, he could keep this one. For example, let's repatriate the money back to the United States. Let's lower corporate taxes.
A lot of reasons why people went abroad because it cost much less to produce over there and enhance corporate profits.
BURNETT: Right. DEJORIA: However, if you lower the corporate taxes and you give people a reason to bring the money back, repatriate that money back in the United States, and use it for the U.S. economy, well, those two things together are really, really going to help out the United States.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you that, Paul Mitchell, liquid hair care products, a majority of them you make here in the United States. Obviously, you could make a lot of that overseas and could save money doing that. But you're doing it in the U.S.
So, what was the reason and how much, you know, what was the financial tradeoff there that you lost by saying I want to do it in the United States?
DEJORIA: Excellent question. I wanted to do the United States, the tradeoff was this. For starters, all the hundreds of people and thousands that are involved in making Paul Mitchell products have jobs. I'm creating and continuing jobs for my existing customers in the United States.
I don't want to save a dime and all of a sudden lose a hundred customers. I don't want to do that. I also knew that our country was a great country and we could become more efficient after we reproduced our product and ecologically do it at the same time. We found those efficiency ways to do it. So, for a penny or more to make it someplace else, it's just not going to happen.
BURNETT: So, Trump has attacked Apple, right, very openly Apple because Apple makes a lot of things, right, makes the iPhone in China.
[19:55:04] So, we looked at this as just an example, right? It's a luxury product that people really want to buy. So, if they would be willing to pay a little more, they'd probably pay more for an iPhone. But the numbers, they vary but are pretty stark, right?
The iPhone 7 starts at $650 and analysts we spoke to said it could go for $1,300 or more, right? That's more than doubling. It's a lot of money. That isn't just whether people would want to do it. It's people may not be able to afford to do that.
So this raises the question, J.P., this idea of bringing mass jobs back to the United States, can that really happen? It's one thing a company here or there, but, I mean, mass jobs.
DEJORIA: Yes, no disrespect to Apple, gets no disrespect, OK, they know what they're doing. But, no, you can make that Apple phone here for a heck of a lot less than $1,000, a heck of a lot less, much, much less, and sell for much, much, less. I happen to know that especially with technological advances.
I think the real answer is, if you look at the combination, one, let's bring some of the money back, let's enhance ourselves by maybe extra tax credits, tax credits, in order to create more jobs in the United States and more factories. Make it economically feasible, make it economically exciting for companies to do that with or without the trade deals, we're going to get things back here in the United States.
PAUL: All right. John Paul DeJoria, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Happy New Year.
DEJORIA: Peace, love and happiness. Happy New Year to everyone out there. Love you.
BURNETT: And we'll be right back.
BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. Don't forget. You can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere, always on CNN Go.
"AC360" begins right now.