Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Vows to Shut Foundation to Avoid Conflict of Interest; Singer George Michael Dead at 53; Israel: "Ironclad" Proof Obama Admin. Behind U.N. Vote. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 26, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:04] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: "OUT FRONT" next. Breaking news, Trump takes on Obama after the current president tells CNN he could have won a third term. Trump reaction tonight, no way.

Plus, more breaking news. Trump says the U.N. is, "just a club". This as Israel accuses the Obama White House of conspiring against it.

And the fight of the year, Kangaroo versus man. Let's go "OutFront."

Good evening, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Breaking news tonight, no way, says Donald Trump, the president-elect responding to the current president who tells CNN's David Axelrod that he would have won a third term and beaten Trump if he could have run again.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.

BOLDUAN: Trump, who is in Florida, has stayed away from cameras and Twitter most of the day, felt compelled to respond tweeting this tonight, "President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say, "NO WAY", jobs leaving, ISIS, Obamacare, et cetera."

President Obama in the same wide-ranging exit interview with CNN also said he won't be staying quiet once he leaves the White House.

Athena Jones is "OutFront" from Honolulu where President Obama is vacationing with his family. Athena, this somewhat strange war of words is not showing signs of dying down right now.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. It's not surprising to see President-Elect Trump weighing in here. It will be more surprising if he didn't. But I don't expect President Obama to respond. And his point that his vision of unity, this vision he ran on successfully twice, that it still appeals to many American voters, is just one of many arguments he made during this wide-ranging interview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama making a bold statement about the 2016 election in a nearly hour-long sit-down with his old friend and adviser, David Axelrod, saying he still believes there is more that unites Americans than that divides them.

OBAMA: That shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity.

I am confident in this vision because I'm confident if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the president told Axelrod Democrats have to do a better job of connecting with voters everywhere. Especially those who feel they have been left behind as the economy has recovered from the great recession. Saying of Hillary Clinton's run --

OBAMA: If you think you're winning, then you have a tendency just like in sports maybe to play it safer. The problem is, is that we're not there on the ground communicating not only the dry policy aspects of this, but that we care about these communities, that we're bleeding for these communities.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president says the party must rebuild through organizing at the local level and having a presence even in the reddest of districts. And while he won't weigh in on day-to-day politics --

OBAMA: That doesn't mean that if a year from now, or a year-and-a- half from now, or two years from now, there is an issue of such moment, such import, that isn't just a debate about a particular tax bill or, you know, a particular policy, but goes to some foundational issues about our democracy that I might not weigh in.


JONES: Now, the president said one reason he doesn't want to get involved in commenting on day-to-day politics is that it would run contrary to the tradition for an ex-president to be involved in this way. But he also believes it will inhibit the development of the kinds of new leaders and new voices he believes the Democratic Party needs to be successful in the future.

And one more thing, Kate, I want to adhere just a new tweet from President-Elect Trump that came across Twitter not long ago. He said, "The world was bloom gloomy before I won. There was no hope. Now, the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over $1 trillion." My guess is that won't be the last we'll hear from President-Elect Trump weighing in on this. Kate?

BOLDUAN: You can't really take credit for Christmas, but I guess he can. All right, Athena, thank you so much.

"OutFront" with me tonight, Rick Santorum, Former Republican Presidential Candidate and Former Senator, of course, from Pennsylvania. Michael Nutter, Former Democratic Mayor of Philadelphia. David Gergen is here, former presidential adviser to four presidents. And Salena Zito, Washington Examiner, Staff Reporter, and "New York Post" columnist.

You can't claim Christmas, Senator. You can't take credit for Christmas.

[19:05:00] Senator Santorum, please tell me, Trump weighing in on President Obama's comments saying, no way that Obama could beat him. This is, yes, of course a bit of Obama Monday-morning quarterbacking about the election but as the president-elect, why even take this on?

RICK SANTORUM, (R) FRM. 2016 AND 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because that's just who Donald Trump is. And at least for the time being, this president-elect period, he's still going to have his Twitter account and he's still going to use it. And, you know, he has proven that the old adage that I know Mike Nutter lived by, which is if somebody attacks you in politics, you don't let that sit very long, you go right back at it. And he's taken than to a new art form using Twitter and I don't think that would have change --


SANTORUM: -- between now and January 20th. Now the question is, after January 20, will it change?


SANTORUM: And my recommendation would be, yes, it should change. How much it should change, I think that's how much can you persuade the president-elect to change those things but I think it should change. He should be a lot more reticent in using that. I'm not saying he shouldn't use it but he should be more reticent in using it.

BOLDUAN: There are a lot of people all throughout the campaign trying to change that man --


BOLDUAN: -- Donald Trump, but it got him where he is today that he did not change.


BOLDUAN: Mayor Nutter, I know you know to weigh in. So Obama is --

NUTTER: That's pretty pathetic.

BOLDUAN: -- critical of Trump with this comment, but there's implicit criticism in this interview with David Axelrod, implicit criticism of Hillary Clinton and the campaign that she ran.

NUTTER: Well, Kate, I would probably push back little bit. First, I don't think the president was critical of Donald Trump. He was talking about himself. And, you know, Mr. Trump is going to struggle with the fact that the majority of Americans who voted actually voted for Hillary Clinton. He did win the Electoral College. He's going to be the next president. We don't need to litigate that. But that is -- that just gets under his skin and he's just going to have to deal with that.

President Obama was talking about himself as a candidate. He ran two times. He won two times. He has a stellar record in many, many areas. And as he said, he would have articulated about the things that he has done. With regard to Secretary Clinton's campaign, I think the president was speaking in a more global fashion when he talked about it in a sports kind of analogy. Every pundit, every poll, every anybody just about who was involved in this, was predicting still toward the end that Hillary Clinton was going to win and --

BOLDUAN: Right. But Mayor, even David Axelrod said --

NUTTER: -- I'm going to say with sports, sometimes when you're ahead, you don't take risk.

BOLDUAN: -- he thinks there's an implicit criticism there of Hillary Clinton coming from Obama. David Axelrod is the one who did the interview.

NUTTER: There'll be many people who will weigh in on, you know, what could have happened, what should have happened and the president in another part of that interview acknowledged that it was a little bit of Monday-morning quarterbacking. I think to some extent he was also, again, talking about himself and his style of campaigning and the things that he did, you know, '08 and '12 which obviously, again, were very, very successful. He also did praise Secretary Clinton and added in the fact that he thought that there was a double standard in terms of how she was treated during the course of the campaign.

BOLDUAN: So David Gergen, not to be left out of this, Hillary Clinton's campaign press secretary weighed in on Twitter as well. Brian Fallon tweeted this, this afternoon about this who would have won question. He said this, "I agree Obama would have beaten Trump. I also think Clinton could have, but for Comey," of course, he's talking about FBI Director James Comey, "despite his win, Trump is weak, Dems must rally."

So, David, since they've all now entered this conversation, who's right here? Trump, Obama, or team Clinton?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's much of a conversation. I think it's more like towel snapping in the locker room before the big game, big new game opens on January 20th.

NUTTER: Don't talk about the locker room, David.

GERGEN: And both -- yeah, exactly. And now Hillary's gotten in there too so it's going to be interesting. But I think the real significance here, two things, one is that the President Obama made it clear today he's not staying on the sidelines during the Trump years. You know, George W. Bush made a habit of never speaking out at all. He thought that was a proper way to go. I think President Obama is itching to make sure that Donald Trump doesn't undo a lot of his initiatives. He believes in them very strongly and he's going to fight for them. At the same time, I thought today for the first time we heard from Donald Trump, first time he's starting to switch back to where he ought to be. He ought to stop talking about nuclear weapons and he ought to stop talking about Israel for now. He ought to be talking about the economy and what he plans to do within the first 100 days. Build up the suspense. I'm surprised he hasn't. But that last tweet we heard about tonight, maybe he's moving in that direction.

BOLDUAN: So, Salena, you --

NUTTER: Yes. But, David, don't you -- I mean, where -- where's any level of maturity, discipline? I mean, the Electoral College has voted. You are going to be president. I know Senator Santorum wants to say, well, you know, suddenly like a light switch at, you know, noon on January 20th, he's going to suddenly become this much more reserved and mature person. That's not going to happen. Someone needs to be an adult here with this operation and help wean him off of his addiction to Twitter and grow up and prepare to act like the President of the United States of America.

[19:10:02] BOLDUAN: Let me get Salena.

NUTTER: This is absurd.

BOLDUAN: Hold on one second. I see you, Senator. I see your face. Salena, get in on this though. You did a -- you spent a lot of time capturing what drew so many voters to Donald Trump during this campaign. To the mayor's point, do you think people who voted him into office want to see him change? Do they want to see a different Donald Trump on January 20th as they see today?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. I've seen no evidence of them wanting him to change. Now, that may happen once he becomes president and fires off a series of tweets that they find that are inappropriate. You know, Republican -- American voters are in like a complex situation right now because they really want to change, they really loved that sort of strength that he emoted and that sort of outside-the-box attitude and process that he employed, but they also love tradition. So, it's going to be kind of fascinating to see how they marry both wants as Trump goes forward and see how he does too. We don't know how he's going to behave. We know how he has behaved as president-elect and as a candidate. We'll just see.

BOLDUAN: I have actually a bit of a different take on what we heard from Donald Trump's tweet about taking -- about kind of like taking on Obama and talking about the economy. Senator Santorum, this -- as I was looking back on his Twitter feed, the president and president- elect, they've been very careful, and everyone is talking about this, to playing nice with each other since the election. With these tweets where Trump is taking on Obama, Obama is saying that he could have beat Trump, are we seeing the end of that today, that for the first time, kind of taking each other on a bit directly?

SANTORUM: Oh, I don't think so. He -- President Obama, I think, was pretty clear in his interview that he's going to back down and go quiet for a year or more and I think he'll realize hopefully if he does go quiet that he had tremendous personal popularity, that many of his policies were deeply unpopular. What he just did to the state of Israel will be a disaster for the Democrats as they come into this Congress. They will be very much on the defense. They will be running from this president.

You know, if you look at the election results other than him, Democrats around this country, they're losing -- they've lost seats everywhere. I mean, in Congress, in state legislatures, in governors, and everything, Senators. I mean, this has not been Barack Obama as he would like to portray it leading this Democratic Party into this new progressive era and all these programs being popular. Quite the contrary. He is popular. His programs are not. And so, I don't think he's going to be able to speak out loudly or boldly, not just for the next couple years but beyond that on issues that are important to him.

BOLDUAN: David, what do you -- you get the final thought here, David, because --


BOLDUAN: -- Axelrod said today that Obama Is looking to the bushes as kind of his model of what to take -- what to be in post-presidency. They've been very quiet and very specific and careful in when they speak out. But Obama also said in this interview that he is going to speak out. He's going to talk about issues he cares about.

GERGEN: Right.

BOLDUAN: How do you balance it?

GERGEN: I think he's -- he'll only move in on the big issues. He's not going to get onto Twitter and things like that. But he'll -- you know, Franklin Roosevelt once said that the presidency is a place of moral leadership and I think that's where to decide the big issues of our time, to come down one way or the other on the big issues of our time whether it be climate or gender issues or jobs or a lot of those things. And I think he is going to weigh in. It's very clear that he's going to -- he may observe that George W. Bush rule for about a year, but after that, I think it's fair game because he believes so strongly in what his vision in and he doesn't want to see it destroyed.

BOLDUAN: All, thank you very much. Thanks for joining me tonight.

NUTTER: He's 55 years old. He's not going away.

BOLDUAN: Final thought from Michael Nutter, he's not going away. Thanks, guys, great to see you.

Next, breaking news, President-Elect Donald Trump calling the U.N. just a club for people to have a good time. This as Israel said Obama orchestrated a, "gang-up at the U.N." Plus, Trump tries to entangle from his controversial foundation why he may be blocked from shutting it down. And pop star George Michael found dead at his home. My guest, the journalist who interviewed Michael during a crucial turning point in his life.


GEORGE MICHAEL, SINGER-SONGWRITER: I spent the first half of my career being accused of being gay when I hadn't had anything like a gay relationship.



[19:17:14] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, fresh criticism coming from President-Elect Donald Trump against the United Nations. Trump tweeting tonight this, "United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time. So sad." This comes after the U.N. condemned Israeli settlement construction and the U.S. broke with tradition and did nothing to stop it. Israel tonight accusing the Obama administration of being behind the controversial move. Oren Liebermann is "OutFront" from Jerusalem.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing president Barack Obama of working behind Israel's back to put forward the U.N. security council resolution critical of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The two leaders have always had a rocky relationship. Now in its final days, it is quickly deteriorating. Netanyahu hasn't held back at all.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don't take friends to the Security Council.

LIEBERMANN: Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, speaking to CNN, one of many Israeli officials who's made the accusations but not offered any evidence.

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Look, it's an old story that the United Nations gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang-up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang- up. I think it was a very sad day and really a shameful chapter in --

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Ambassador, what's the evidence that the United States was behind this gang-up? I've heard that a lot.

DERMER: Well, we have clear evidence of it. We will present that evidence to the new administration.

LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu turned to President-Elect Donald Trump who urged Obama to veto the U.N. resolution and then weighed in on Twitter. First he tweeted, "As to the U.N., things will be different after January 20th." He followed that up with another tweet, "The big loss yesterday for Israel and the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad. But We will get it done anyway." Netanyahu hasn't just lashed out at the U.S., Israel called in the U.S. Ambassador and ambassadors of 10 other countries that voted for the U.N. resolution that those countries met with the foreign ministry. It was only the U.S. Ambassador who met privately with Netanyahu. One more statement directed at President Barack Obama before he leaves office.


LIEBERMANN: So, why now? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows he can just wait three weeks and work with the president-elect who he is very much looking forward to working with, Trump, that is. But it may be more than just a message to Trump showing how much he's looking forward to a fresh start and a clean slate, there may be some internal politics as well. Obama is very unpopular with Netanyahu's voters and it seems Netanyahu is appealing to his own voters as well as he blasts the Security Council resolution and President Obama. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Oren, great to see you. Thank you.

"OutFront" now, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, David Keyes is joining me.

[19:20:02] David, thanks so much for the time.


BOLDUAN: So you say you have ironclad information is how you put it, that President Obama, the Obama administration, was behind the resolution, but the White House denies this. David, are you saying that they are lying?

KEYES: What I'm saying is that we have ironclad information from sources in the Arab world and internationally and we're going to share that information with the incoming administration through the proper channels. And if the new administration chooses to share that information, that's their prerogative.

BOLDUAN: So, are they lying then?

KEYES: Well, all I can say is that we have that information. It's very clear to us. It's not in doubt. And we are going to pass it through the proper channels.

BOLDUAN: Why not share that information right now?

KEYES: Well, because I think that's something that should be shared with the new administration. And that's their choice whether they want to share it or not. But it really goes to the heart of our disappointment about this resolution which not only was crafted in part by the Obama administration but was pushed heavily as well by it. And it's a resolution which denies the fact that there is Israeli sovereignty over the western wall. Our -- one of our holiest sites, excuse me that Jews have prayed to for literally thousands of years. And this resolution actually calls that occupied Palestinian territory. That's outrageous. That is shameful. That is inaccurate.

BOLDUAN: CNN has new reporting that the prime minister has actually ordered the foreign ministry to suspend all working ties with the 12 U.N. Security Council members who voted in favor of the resolution. The U.S. Abstained. Others voted in favor, of course. David, is this a step toward cutting diplomatic ties here?

KEYES: Well, some of those ties will be tampered for a period and ambassadors that voted for those, this latest resolution, have been called in to the foreign ministry as well to be told our opinion of how deeply disappointed we are in this resolution. And I think that's only natural because it really is an outrageous resolution. I want your viewers just to capture what this resolution is doing and what it means and how much it pushes peace further away. Think about that western wall that everyone can picture, that holy site to Jews who had a presence there for thousands of years except when they were ethnically cleansed from that actual area. To call the wall occupied Palestinian territory is a nonstarter. It's absolutely outrageous.

And what it tells the Palestinians is there's no need to come to the negotiating table, you shouldn't do that because they're going to get everything you want. But we believe that peace actually comes about when the parties will sit together, when the parties will negotiate together, when we will recognize one another, and the prime minister has called hundreds of times to meet with President Abbas, and what a tragedy that he has said no to even meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu for peace talks.

BOLDUAN: The relationship between the prime minister and President Obama is notoriously an icy relationship, to say the very least. If the prime minister had had a better relationship with President Obama, do you think this would have happened?

KEYES: I don't think this is personal. I think it's a difference in world view. And I think it's unfortunate that President Obama has chosen as one of his parting shots to abstain on this vote when he, himself, had said in 2011 as I mentioned that statements and resolution at the United Nation is not the place to bring peace to the Middle East.

And so, the relationship is very important. The relationship is ongoing. This is not going to be a cessation of ties between America and Israel or anything like that. We look forward to working with the incoming administration and we appreciate the Democrats and Republicans who vociferously criticized this abstention by the Obama administration in this latest Security Council vote.

BOLDUAN: David Keyes, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

KEYES: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So "OutFront" next, Donald Trump trying to make good on his promise to avoid conflicts of interest, but has his announcement gotten him in another mess?

Plus, remembering George Michael who once outsold Michael Jackson and Prince.

Tonight, we hear from the man who interviewed George Michael at a pivotal moment.


[19:28:13] BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Tonight, President-Elect Donald Trump says he'll shut down his charitable foundation to avoid conflicts of interest, but the New York attorney general tonight says that's not happening, at least not now. Jessica Schneider is "OutFront."


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After the president-elect's announcement that he will end the Trump charitable foundation, New York's attorney general saying, not so fast. "The Trump foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete."


SCHNEIDER: New York A. G. Eric Schneiderman, who was a Hillary Clinton supporter, launched the probe in the midst of the campaign, amid allegations Donald Trump used the foundation's funds to settle his personal business dealings. Trump making no mention of the order to stop fundraising issued by the A.G. in October that is still in effect only saying, "The foundation has done enormous good works over the years and contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups. However, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president, I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways."

But Donald Trump hasn't even donated to his own charity since 2008, according to the foundation's tax records. The Democratic National Committee mocking plans to shut the foundation down, saying the announcement is a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving." President George W. Bush's chief ethics lawyer says closing the foundation is a good start.

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Right now, we need to have a president who is free of conflict of interests. That means dissolving the foundation. It also means President Trump selling off his business interests that create conflicts of interest, making sure there's no foreign government money coming to his operations.

SCHNEIDER: The Trump team has already dealt with several issues, settling the Trump University lawsuit, Eric Trump shutting down his foundation.

[19:30:00] And the Trump Organization recently dropped its battle with hotel workers in Las Vegas and D.C. over unionization, allowing the D.C. workers to hold a vote and agreeing to a four-year contract with Vegas workers. But still no roadmap on how the president-elect will disentangle

himself from his worldwide business empire.


SCHNEIDER: And Trump's team promising a press conference in the next few weeks to detail Trump's business dealings, but, of course, this is all a cumbersome process. In fact, the general counsel for the Trump organization says they're now re-evaluating various transactions and working to comply with conflicts laws. Donald Trump, though, saying he's immune from conflicts laws, which is, in fact, true, but Kate, of course, there is that little tested emoluments clause we've talked about in the Constitution which does bar officials from accepting payments from foreign governments -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Oh, the emoluments still, Jessica. Thank you so much. Great to see you.

SCHNEIDER: Our favorite.

BOLDUAN: Our favorite is right.

OUTFRONT now former, White House senior your director under President Obama, Nayyera Haq, and Paris Dennard, a member of the national diversity coalition for Donald Trump.

Great to see both of you.

So, Nayyera, Donald Trump dissolving his charitable foundation. Good news? Step in the right direction?

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPT. SPOKESWOMAN UNDER CLINTON & KERRY: Step in the right direction but it's a little late in the process. I mean, at this point, the -- it's more about the investigation and what has been uncovered.

And here are some of the facts that we know already about the foundation. And what makes this troublesome in particular. There are only no employees, only five people. Four who are Trump family. One part-time volunteer.

And only about half and hour per week spent on the foundation, according to IRS records. The same IRS records show that payments were made from the foundation to buy paintings of Donald Trump that are hanging in his own golf clubs and he's also paid off some of the losses.

So, this is not the charitable foundation that I think people would like to believe. There really have been some questions about what's been going on with the money and I think the most troubling factor is the largest donors have $5 million, are the same -- the same person that Donald Trump has nominated to be the secretary or the -- for the cabinet of Small Business Administration.

So, there is a concern that this is exactly the pay-for-play that Trump has been denouncing elsewhere on the road. BOLDUAN: So, Paris, I've heard what Nayyera said, I've heard it from

other Democrats, who are saying that they say this is a step in the right direction, but this is more of a smoke screen, if you will, that there are bigger problems at play and not even getting to the other big problem right now which is the New York attorney general office says he can't do anything with his charitable foundation because he's still under investigation.

So, now, what?

PARIS DENNARD, MEMBER, NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION FOR TRUMP: I think this whole conversation, what Nayyera was just saying, it's silly. The president-elect is closing down the foundation, end of story.

Now, if the attorney general of New York who I believe is on a political witch hunt wants to make this thing about politics or make this about justice, he can close this investigation and be done with it. He's not choosing to do that.


HAQ: Right. Because this is a matter of matter of serious transparency about what's been doing on, exactly where following the money, and unfortunately even with the expression of "I'd like to shut down the foundation," we're 20-something days out from the inauguration and he's going to be the president of the United States. Between this, between his --

DENNARD: He said he's going to shut -- he said he's going to shut down --

BOLDUAN: Hold on. Go ahead, Dennard. Paris, sorry.

DENNARD: He said -- it's Paris.

He's going to shut down the foundation and he -- which is the right thing to do. As Richard Painter, the former, my colleague when I worked in the Bush White House.

In addition to that, this is problematic to me. The Eric Trump Foundation which raised $20 million to help children with pediatric cancer, using this money to help children with cancer. That's going to be shut down as well. I think that's the right thing to do, but it's setting a dangerous precedent because what are we going to do, what's next for the liberals who are crying wolf about this?

What is next? Should every member of Congress who has a small business, has a car dealership, a pest control company, a mortuary, whatever, should they have to shut down their businesses? No. They should not. And this is where we've gotten to at this point.

Now, there's no evidence of pay-for-play, no evidence of any impropriety with the Trump Foundation or Eric Trump Foundation specifically. We did see that with the Clinton Foundation. So, in an abundance of caution -- (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: The Clinton Foundation is not the point. That went away with the outcome of the election.

Nayyera, go ahead.

HAQ: This is the unfortunate thing. All of us who have served in government, who have security clearances, have to go through extraneous vetting of our finances because there's actual security risk here, because of our financial dealings, what are we at risk for? There's a security issue. You don't get a clearance if there's a thought that somebody could either pay you off or use you or bribe you in some way.

DENNARD: That's why he shut down the foundation.

HAQ: If I have to go through that, if I have to go through that, or junior-level staffers have to go through that, then we expect Trump and his family go through that as well.

[19:35:02] I mean, they are now public servants. They are not businessmen anymore. And this is --

DENNARD: No, the president-elect is the public servant.

HAQ: This is --

BOLDUAN: Hold on.

HAQ: This is the challenge of changing from campaign and moving into government and anybody who wants to in the Trump family who's planning to have a role in this administration --

BOLDUAN: Even though, Eric Trump is not -- Eric Trump as far as we know right now is not going to have a role in the government, but I will tell you, you quoted -- you cited Richard Painter, I actually interviewed earlier today, Paris, and he actually said, I asked him about the Eric Trump Foundation issue. He said, no member of a family of the president should be soliciting, should be allowed to solicit money in the way that they were doing it.

Bottom line, it just opens them up to too much conflict of interest concerns. That's what Richard Painter says.

HAQ: It's the perception.

BOLDUAN: Hold on.


DENNARD: You know how they fixed it? He's shutting it down.


DENNARD: Twenty million dollars raised over the time, he shut it down.

So, what is the point that we're making here? He's doing the right thing. He's the president-elect. He's the only public servant in the White House, going to be serving in the Trump family that has been announced right now.

Anybody else that decides to serve in the government, they will take the necessary courses of action to do what you're supposed to do, to eliminate any propriety or any resemblance of something that is not correct or proper.

But until then, they are allowed to do this. Just like every member of Congress is allowed to -- what, should we have -- should we have Exxon close because Rex Tillerson might become -- will become the secretary of state? We have to close Exxon? No. That's preposterous.

HAQ: No, but he certainly shouldn't -- he certainly shouldn't --

BOLDUAN: Rex Tillerson --

HAQ: Rex Tillerson should not be involved in any oil deals if Exxon is going to deal --

BOLDUAN: Rex Tillerson will have to deal with financials before he becomes a member of the cabinet as all members of cabinet do because there are actual laws for those who serve, not just that are very different from the president when the laws -- the laws regarding the president and his financial dealings. Guys, great to see you.

DENNARD: At the end of the day, Kate, the president-elect is doing the right thing and shutting these things down. We should applaud him for his transparency.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Great to see you. Thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, a man arrested for threatening to kill Donald Trump in an online post. But can Secret Service protect Trump beyond social media on the streets of New York?

Plus, the sudden death of pop music icon, George Michael. Gone at the age of 53.



[19:41:05] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the world is mourning George Michael who passed away just yesterday at the age of 53. His manager saying that he died of suspected heart failure at his home in England. The tributes are pouring in from all over the world for the iconic musician.

Ian Lee is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, tributes pouring in from around the globe after George Michael's sudden death.


LEE: The Grammy winning singer/songwriter just 53 years old. His manager saying he died of suspected heart failure at his home in Oxfordshire, England. His death according to police unexplained but not suspicious.

Michael rose to fame as a teen, part of the duo, Wham!


LEE: Shortly before the group split, Michael hit it big.


LEE: "Careless Whisper", a number one song in nearly two dozen countries. His career at times controversial, often marred by sex and drug scandals.

In 1998, Michael was arrested by an undercover cop for lewd conduct in a Los Angeles public restroom. That incident forcing Michael to come out as gay shortly after on CNN.

GEORGE MICHAEL, SINGER: I don't feel any shame whatsoever. And neither do I think I should.

LEE: Throughout his career, Michael made history. Performing with some of music's biggest names. He was the first white male vocalist to sing with Aretha Franklin, as well as performing with Elton John in 1991.

The superstar not only known for his music, but his activism. Beyond advocating for LGBT rights and AIDS organizations, he donated all the royalties from Wham's hit, "Last Christmas" to Ethiopian famine relief.


LEE: Michael would later cheat death in 2011, spending weeks in intensive care with acute pneumonia. Now five years later, Michael's fans are mourning an icon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's our idol. Always will be. We'll never forget him and his music will live on.

LEE: Elton John tweeting his deep shock, calling George Michael the kindest, most generous soul.


LEE: Kate, out there at the tributes today, the one thing that really stood out to me most was when talking to people who've met him in the community, and they said he was one of those celebrities that you could approach and was OK with it. He would talk to people. He would engage with people. He really enjoyed meeting his fans and a lot of people out there tonight missing him.

He did have a record in the works, a new album that they announced earlier this month, and a documentary coming out in March.

BOLDUAN: Ian, thank you so much for bringing that to us. We appreciate it.

So, as you heard in Ian's piece, when George Michael came out, he did it in an interview with CNN.

OUTFRONT now is Jim Moret, the man what conducted that interview, then with CNN, now with "Inside Edition."

Jim, it's great to see you.


BOLDUAN: This was a defining moment in his career, personal and professional. How did the interview come about?

MORET: Well, this was a little less than a week after the arrest in the Beverly Hills park restroom. We were actually up against "Dateline" trying to get this interview and I really in retrospect the way we got it, we agreed to air the interview live to take on Friday night, which means it would air internationally and in London on Saturday and that was the deciding factor. That's what really landed us the interview.

It turns out that George Michael believed he was going to be outed by the British tabloids on Sunday and he wanted to beat them to the punch and come out on his own terms.

[19:45:05] I didn't realize at the time that we booked him, that he was going to come out to me on CNN, but that was really his intent. He wanted to set the record straight and do so in his own way.

BOLDUAN: He talked to you about why he hadn't spoken publicly about this before during the interview. Here's a bit more from that interview for our viewers.


MICHAEL: I spent the first half of my career being accused of being gay when I hadn't had anything like a gay relationship and, in fact, I was 27 before that happened to me. So, I spent my years growing up being told what my sexuality was really, you know, which is kind of confusing. I was just so indignant, way I'd been treated since then. I'll just hold onto this. I don't think they need to know. I shouldn't have to tell them.


BOLDUAN: During the interview, was he nervous? Do you remember how he was at this moment? I mean, it was a huge moment at that time for him, personally and professionally.

MORET: Kate, I'll never forget that night, the interview really stayed with me for years. He showed up alone. This is an international superstar. No handlers, no publicists, no one. Just him, alone.

And I spent about an hour with him in the green room prior to going on, the break room, prior to the interview. He was so nervous. And I really -- I wanted to impress on him that I wasn't there to persecute him. I wasn't there to prosecute him. It was just a conversation.

And we agreed to do the interview live to tape. We sat down, started the interview, and frankly, it was so horrible, he was so nervous, that I stopped the interview and said, let's take a break, let's go back and talk off camera.

And he was timid, he was nervous, he was anxious. And he was very gracious, very polite, and then the interview that we actually showed, he was candid, he had a good sense of humor, and I think he was finally at ease.

And some months later, I was with Elton John who was a close friend of his, and he said something that really, really stayed with me. He said how much George Michael appreciated the fact that we showed him respect and kindness.

And we weren't there to beat him up. We were simply there to talk to him. And that interview is one of my proudest moments as a journalist. And I think it was important for him, too, to come out in his way on his terms even though he was in a way backed into corner, admittedly by his own actions and he apologized for that.

BOLDUAN: Well, one moment that I'm sure you look upon very differently now in his passing. And think about a lot more.

Great to see you, Jim. Thank you so much.

MORET: Happy holidays.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump is the subject of a death threat. Can the Secret Service protect him on one of the busiest intersections in the world?

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the fight of the year, man versus kangaroo.


[19:50:57] BOLDUAN: Tonight, a Florida man is under arrest for threatening to kill President-elect Trump. Authorities alerted the Secret Service to a Facebook post from Kevin Krone who wrote this, quote, "I'm just glad Obama didn't take all our guns. I see a good use for one now."

This comes as officials prepare for the huge task of protecting Donald Trump.

Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trump Tower, a nearly 70 story high-rise in the middle of Manhattan, tourist attraction and home to President-elect Donald Trump must soon be one of the most protected buildings in the United States.

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Every element of the White House, whether from a security posture, communications, or emergency protocols, that has to be, you know, put into place here at Trump tower.

GINGRAS: Trump has made it clear he plans to return to New York often during his term, and his wife, Melania, and their 10-year-old son, Baron, will live there for at least the next six months.

For law enforcement, a White House in the middle of a city of skyscrapers presents challenges.

(on camera): Really, it's getting the president down from there.

WACKROW: Absolutely. That's the biggest challenge.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Jonathan Wackrow was a former Secret Service agent.

WACKROW: Washington, D.C., is very simple. The White House is on 18 acres that's fenced and has a great big lawn in the back that we can utilize. Don't have that right here. So, those types of considerations have to be addressed.

GINGRAS: Training to address those concerns has already started. Law enforcement sources confirm these military aircraft and helicopters recently seen hovering above the New York City skyline were mapping out possible escape routes and taking pictures of rooftops and central park for potential landing locations. The city has never been analyzed this way before for a U.S. president because the White House was open in 1800, so never has a president resided outside of it and in a major city for extended periods of time.

But Trump is full of first and the Secret Service along with the military and NYPD must adjust.

WACKROW: You're going to see increasing security posture here around Trump Tower. You're going to see a lot of standoff distance. You're going to see a lot of physical changes to the location, to, you know, mitigate a lot of different threats.

GINGRAS: And if there were a threat, Wackrow says agents would have less than a minute to bring the president and his family to safety.

WACKROW: Remember, we have to extract them from the top of this building. So how do we do that? How did they do that safely? How do we notify our law enforcement partners that there is this action?

GINGRAS: All questions that not only need to be addressed but put into practice by January 20th.

WACKROW: Right now, it's sort of a hurry-up offense, we're trying to rush to get this done but not miss anything.


GINGRAS: And other things law enforcement has to take into consideration here is just the structure of Trump Tower. It's all glass windows. Also, all that foot traffic that goes through the building and transit system that runs below it. Again, all of this needs to be perfected by three different agencies, the NYPD, the military and Secret Service all by Inauguration Day -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Well, Brynn, thank you so much.

So, next, a video goes viral, as one man is giving new meaning to having a dog in the fight.


[19:57:53] BOLDUAN: It's the punch that went viral in 2016.

Jeanne Moos is OUTFRONT.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were in Australia hunting boar. What happened was anything but boring.

Greig Tonkins went running to rescue his dog Max from a kangaroo that was holding the dog in a headlock. Tonkins approached. The kangaroo released the dog. And the two squared off, man versus marsupial.

Kangaroo reacts with a "you did not just do that" look of disbelief before turning tail.

Round one goes to the man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's exciting. So he launches a right hand to the kangaroo's snout.

MOOS: But the fight overthrowing that punch heated up as the video went viral.

So the question is, did the guy do the right thing by punching him?


MOOS: He didn't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Poor kangaroo. Kangaroos are beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't think he hurt the kangaroo. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's somebody that needed to protect his dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it's a happy ending.

MOOS: But there was also an unhappy ending. The hunt was organized to fulfill a wish for 19-year-old Kylum Barwick (ph), who suffered from a rare form of cancer.

A few months later, and just a few days after marrying his sweetheart in his hospital room, he died.

Those on the hunt say Barwick thought the kangaroo encounter was the highlight of the trip. The story packed a punch. A kangaroo can be extremely dangerous between its claws and its kick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wait a minute. This is my husband.

MOOS: They can also be extremely well built. Check out Roger the muscular marsupial.

It turns out the dog owner who punched the kangaroo is a keeper at an Australian zoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good day, mate.

MOOS: When encountering a kangaroo, caution is advised.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you get punched by a kangaroo?


MOOS: This guy's probably saying something similar to his buddies.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: So, we still haven't determined if he did the right thing punching the kangaroo or not? I leave it for you.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

"AC360" starts now.