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Trump Meets with Possible Cabinet Picks Today; Trump's Staff Picks Lack Diversity So Far; Winter Storm Warnings in Effect for 9 States; Trump's White House Vs. Trump's Empire; Activists: 300 Killed in Eastern Aleppo in 5 Days. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 20, 2016 - 07:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Alisyn Kosik, sitting in for Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

And President-elect Donald Trump is moving forward with a full schedule as he looks to fill his administration.

[07:00:02] He says announcements could be coming today.

KOSIK: In just a few hours, Trump and his team will return with potential high level cabinet appointees. So far, he says the process is going well.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Really efficiently. Very good. Tremendous talent. We're seeing tremendous talent. People that, as I say, we will make America great again. These are really great people. These are really, really talented people.


TRUMP: Yes, partial. We're doing this again tomorrow.


TRUMP: Well, we think he's a great guy. I mean, he's some -- he is some great man.


TRUMP: We'll hear some things tomorrow, I think.


KOSIK: So, we may hear some things today. Some of the names that are going to be streaming through for these meetings, Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who recently was removed from Trump's transition team, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and Robert Johnson, the founder of BET.

Now, meetings will get underway this morning at Trump's golf club in New Jersey.

Our Jessica Schneider is nearby.

Good morning, Jessica. What more are you tell us about those meetings happening today?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison, the flurry of face to face meetings, they will continue today, at Trump National Golf. We saw a wide array of activities, those nonstop meetings yesterday. They will continue throughout the day today.

As you said, a list of notable names, particularly former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as well as the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Also, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, Robert Johnson. And, interestingly, also, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he'll be meeting with Donald Trump today.

Christie, of course, was kicked off as head of the transition team about a week or so ago. The question is could Christie still become part of the Trump cabinet or does bridgegate disqualified him? Well, Donald Trump was asked that question and when asked that, President- elect Trump said, "We like Chris a lot."

Now a big name that was meeting with Donald Trump yesterday, Mitt Romney. Romney met with the president-elect for a little more than an hour and the Trump transition team calling it productive despite the very contentious relationship and that war of words between President- elect Trump and Mitt Romney over the election season.

Here's what Mitt Romney had to say about the meeting.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance. We discussed those areas and exchanged our views on those topics. Very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had and appreciate the chance to speak with the preside-elect and look forward to the coming administration.

REPORTER: Governor --


SCHNEIDER: Now, the transition team does confirm that Mitt Romney is in the running for something, so the question is could it be secretary of state? And if it was offered, would Mitt Romney even accept?

Now, one other name to take note of, Retired General James Mattis. It's somebody Trump met with for almost as long as he met with Mitt Romney yesterday. Donald Trump calling Mattis the real deal. And sources do confirm to CNN that Mattis is a leading candidate for secretary of defense -- Alison and Victor.

KOSIK: And we know from Donald Trump that an announcement could come today. We know that Donald Trump is awake. He's tweeting about "Hamilton" but not tweeting about any kind of picks just yet.

Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. We've got plenty to talk about this morning. To do that, let's bring in CNN political commentator and senior contributor for "The Daily Caller," Matt Lewis, and former Georgia congressman and Trump supporter Jack Kingston.

Gentlemen, good morning.


BLACKWELL: Jack, you know, the president-elect has a really busy day ahead. He had a busy day Saturday. But what did he talk about in his first statement to people, 6:23 this morning about "Hamilton."

Let's read this tweet that he put up. "The cast and producers of 'Hamilton' which I hear is highly overrated should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior." Again, he has a busy day here. But he's focused on this statement today made to the vice president-elect.

I just wonder, he's been so adamant about this ridicule of this cast for what they said, but we've covered the hate crimes across this country, the state of degrading and vandalizing the public property and Lesley Stahl had to pull a statement out of him about that. Why is he so passionate about "Hamilton" and hasn't said much from the "60 Minutes" interview about what we're seeing across the country?

KINGSTON: You know, I think there's a part of Donald Trump that really connects with Middle America, a little showmanship, if you will, and a long parade of people coming to be interviewed isn't as exciting as maybe something like this, where everybody can jump in.

[07:05:08] On the left you can say, golly, they shouldn't have said that. I'm glad they did. If you're from the right, you're saying, what about the arrogant spoiled brats? Who are they to tell somebody who's been a congressman, a governor, and now a vice president-elect and they're going to lecture him on what the world needs? It's a little bit silly.

BLACKWELL: But, Jack, he's no longer a showman. He's the president- elect of the United States. Is there not a responsibility for him to bet least as passionate about the cast of "Hamilton" as he is or should be about people using his name to advance some racist agenda?

BLACKWELL: You know, I think there's a lot of things that are going on on both sides that he has denounced, Hillary Clinton has denounced, and I think that the tone that we have seen between Barack Obama and Donald Trump has been a good one and has set a high example.

But, you know, I think others that want to continue the campaign and they want to continue the hyperbole is not as productive as it could be.

But I want to say this about Donald Trump on Twitter. That is his connection with the American people. It's a phenomenon that we haven't seen. You can only imagine how he's going to be able to use that to get votes for his agenda.

Can you imagine Congressman Jones undecided on one of the Trump objectives and Donald Trump the night before t big vote says, gee, I hope Congressman Jones is with us tomorrow. It sure would be a shame.

BLACKWELL: Understood. He will likely be able to use that when he's president.

But, let's talk about what's happening right now. Matt, I'm going to bring you into the conversation. Your thoughts on what you're seeing from Donald Trump as it relates to the cast of "Hamilton." And we have not seen these tweets from Donald Trump, for this passion or this condemnation as it relates to what we're seeing in these hate crimes across the country.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I would agree. I think the president who masters a new medium usually benefits greatly, whether it's FDR and the radio, fireside chats, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan with TV, and now, Donald Trump apparently with twitter.

I think in a way though I think maybe it's a good thing that he's using Twitter right now to talk about pop culture and "Hamilton" and not something more serious. I think that you could make a good argument that he needs to speak out about race in America and to sort of quell concerns that people have about him.

I don't think Twitter would be the best medium for that message. He did it on "60 Minutes" a little bit. I think maybe there's a speech, not Twitter. So, I'm actually not upset.


LEWIS: Maybe it's better. Let him tweet about "Hamilton" and not a more substantive topic.

BLACKWELL: Well, let's hear what he said on "60 Minutes."


TRUMP: I am so saddened to hear that and I say stop it, if it -- if it helps. I will say this and I will say it right to the cameras -- stop it.


BLACKWELL: So, Jack, Matt said there should potentially be a speech. Is there one coming? Would you advise there be one?

KINGSTON: I think he's going to do that in his own time. But I think, right now, he really does have to get these cabinet members selected in his team. There's such a long parade. Matt and I were talking about it a minute ago -- too many people to remember.

But, you know, Tom Woodson, Betty DeVos, Todd Ricketts, Lew Eisenberg, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong yesterday, all kind of people who aren't in the media that he is interviewing. So he's doing a serious list right now.

But I do think part of his message will be unity. We're going to see that through his advisor selection.

BLACKWELL: All right.

KINGSTON: And, you know, I don't think he's going to be insensitive to his opposition at all. He does want to unite America.

BLACKWELL: Jack, let me play something for you you said last week when we talked about the makeup of the transition team and then the makeup of the cabinet. And here's what you told me about the cabinet that the American people should expect.


KINGSTON: I believe that he's through selecting his team that American people are going to be very, very happy, including those protesters. I think you're going to see a very diverse cabinet. You're going to see it geographically, racially, religious. Everything that people will want.


BLACKWELL: Now, let's put up the choices that Donald Trump has made. You say that he will have a geographically racial and religious diverse cabinet. Here are the five white men plus a Mike Pence who he's picked thus far. Where is this racially religious, geographically dense cabinet? Are we going to get that?

KINGSTON: You know, when you think about him, first of all, General Flynn is a Democrat. Michelle Rhee, who he interviewed for a long time yesterday about education, she is a Democrat.

There are a lot of women that are out there I think in the wings that probably will be tapped one level or the other. Marcia Blackburn, Pam Bondi from Florida, Mary Fallin from Oklahoma, Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming.

[07:10:01] There are a lot of -- there's a lot of talent who's very involved in his campaign. And don't forget, this is the first president of the United States who had a woman run his campaign in Kellyanne Conway. So, and today, he is meeting with Bob Johnson, as you pointed out, the African-American founder of BET.

LEWIS: Also, of the five pictures you just put up, I think only two of them actually qualify as cabinet members. So --

BLACKWELL: Well, cabinet or cabinet level. I mean, you've got the five here plus Mike Pence who was chosen who is officially a member of the cabinet. And you promised there was going to be a geographically, racially,

religiously diverse team or at least a team that looks like the coalition he put together to win the presidency.

KINGSTON: And remember this, that most cabinets fall in place on the sixth and seventh week, some even after that. We're not there yet. It's still very early. But he's hit the ground running. And, you know, if I was Donald Trump right now, I'd probably be in the Bahamas and not doing a thing. He is a 24-hour a day worker.

BLACKWELL: Well, he's got 60 days to put together a government.

Matt, quickly to you. Where does a Chris Christie go?

LEWIS: Well, this is a real question. I mean, Chris Christie was a -- you can argue he's the reason that Donald Trump won the nomination the way that he knifed Marco Rubio in that New Hampshire debate. And he was rumored to be a possible running mate. He was rumored to be in the Justice Department.

He keeps failing and the suggestion is that it's because Donald Trump's son-in-law hates him. So, I don't know if they're stringing him along or eventually he'll actually get a job somewhere.

BLACKWELL: All right. Matt Lewis, Jack Kingston, thanks so much.

LEWIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alison?

KOSIK: An anti-hate rally will be held in New York today after vandals painted swastikas and go Trump on playground equipment at the Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn. Now, the park is named after a member of the rap group Beastie Boys who died of cancer in 2013. The graffiti was quickly painted over with images of hearts and flowers. The Beastie Boys tweeted fans can join a stand against hate messages.

Coming up, the president-elect's potential conflict of interest. How does it blur the lines between his White House and his business empire?


[07:15:23] BLACKWELL: Protest turned violent outside a white nationalist conference in Washington, injuring at least one person. Watch.


BLACKWELL: Members of the group attending the event clashed with the demonstrators waiting outside. Now, this white nationalist group was celebrating Donald Trump's election victory. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside with signs, yelled anti-Trump chants. A member of the white nationalist group was hurt. You see him here.

Now, the conference was being hosted by the alt-right National Policy Institute.

KOSIK: Donald Trump is gearing up for a very busy day. In just a few hours, he has a slew of meetings scheduled to pick out who will get a spot on his cabinet. Take a look at who he's already picked for his cabinet.

Analysts say his choice of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions are controversial. And so far, there is no diversity in his cabinet.

CNN's Tara Setmayer wrote this in a "Cosmopolitan" article, saying, "I just think that it's shameful Republicans have just left decency at the front door in order to defeat Hillary Clinton, that they're willing to support such a charlatan like Donald Trump. There needs to be a mea culpa to women after this election from every single Republican official who continued to support Donald Trump even though it was revealed that he was clearly sexist and potentially a sexual predator."

Well, Tara joins us now.

Good morning, Tara.


KOSIK: Do you think that there is a way to actually reshape the Republican Party?

SETMAYER: Well, I think that because Republicans won and won big, that there's going to be less -- it's less likely that there will be soul searching within the party for putting these -- casting decency aside and casting aside a lot of our moral high grounds in order to get along now with the President-elect Donald Trump, soon to be president, in order to accomplish some policy wins and goals.

That's conflicting for me as a Republican, obviously. I look at a potential for a lot of our policies that we've been waiting eight years to get going. Now, they could potentially come to fruition from tax cuts, to, you know, getting rid of Obamacare, border security, national security, changing those priorities. Those things are attractive.

But the day after the election I wrote for, at what cost? I should be thrilled about this, that we -- Republicans control everything, but at what cost? And I think that casting aside a lot of what would normally not accept as Republicans, particularly as conservatives like me, we would never accept this kind of behavior, this kind of language, even some of the policies, we would never accept that, but for some reason now, everything's okay. It's hunky- dory and just going to all get along and forget about what happened during the campaign.

And I just hope that's not the case. We've got to hold Donald Trump accountable.

KOSIK: But you did say that you are willing to give Trump a chance. It is early in the game already. You know, do you think that there will be a positive side of a Trump presidency?

SETMAYER: You know, the whole giving Donald Trump a chance is really more out of my patriotic duty as an American that I want the president to be successful for the good of the country but, you know, it's like every time Donald Trump does something where I go, OK, well, maybe, then he goes and he does something where I go, oh, for God's sake. Again with this guy, you know?

So, it's like he takes two steps forward, five steps back. The appointment of Steve Bannon, this obsession he has with tweeting at the cast of "Hamilton" for goodness sakes has been going on for two days. These kinds of things just continues to demonstrate to us the character deficits of Donald Trump are potentially really consequential when he's now president of the United States. He can get away with that as a candidate but now, every single thing he does has consequences. And it's concerning.

So, do I think there's some positives? Potentially. You know, there are some -- there are some policies that I agree with Donald Trump on, and I think that the Republicans in Congress maybe able to massage him enough to get some of those things through, like repealing Obamacare, tax cuts, taking regulations off the necks of small businesses, border security. Those things I think are good for this country.

But how Donald Trump actually governs is a mystery to everyone. That could potentially overshadow any policy wins that we might get. There's a lot at stake here.

KOSIK: Tara, who did you vote for at the presidential election?

SETMAYER: I voted for Evan McMullen. I did not -- I was very adamant about the fact that I could not cast a vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

[07:20:00] I felt that I could not participate in something I felt had a -- an immoral outcome. I was not obligated to do that. You know, I wanted to participate obviously in the process of voting and voting down ballot, but I voted my conscience this time around I never thought that I would be in that position as a lifelong Republican and conservative on the front lines.

Excited to cast a ballot. But this time around, it was difficult but at least I knew that I voted for someone who I could be proud of and I could explain to children why I did it.

KOSIK: You know, a lot of pundits -- contrary to what a lot of pundits said, a lot of women voted for Donald Trump. Why do you think that is?

SETMAYER: Yes, I have to say that was one of the biggest surprises, other than Donald Trump winning the whole thing. The fact that the gender gap was almost equivalent to what it was between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in 2012, which is very surprising to me. But when you look at it a little bit further, you realize that really it was economic anxiety and the fact that so many people felt as though that they were unheard, they were ignored by Washington and they just wanted change at any cost.

And I wonder if women may regret that decision with what they've allowed to accept -- what they allowed themselves to accept coming from Donald Trump. I think we have to really be careful about voting emotionally about something and not thinking about the long-term consequences and what the message of that is because we should be able to -- away things that are immoral, this that are unacceptable. When you start to do that, then you really lose all sense of moral compass and I'm concerned about what that looks like down the road.

I can tell you politically that Democrats will -- it will come back to haunt Republicans because Democrats, they're not going to sit by and wallow in the loss. They're gearing up already and believe me, the ads that you're going to see against Republicans, particularly the way that they accepted Donald Trump and his treatment of women will absolutely come back to haunt them and remind people in the next election come midterms time.

KOSIK: Oh, gosh, I can't start thinking about the next election. I'm still getting over the last one.

Tara Setmayer, thanks so much.

SETMAYER: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: All right. Here's something else we may not want to think about. This winter storm that's whipping coming across the country, threatening to cause major travel issues ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. We'll show you where it's causing problems and what you can expect.


[07:26:03] KOSIK: OK. It is almost Thanksgiving.


KOSIK: So, it's supposed to be cold. It's supposed to snow. But you're reporting this because it is --

BLACKWELL: I will agree with cold.

KOSIK: It is the first major winter storm of the season and it's bearing down on parts of the U.S. Nine states are under winter storm warnings and they're expecting blowing snow, and near blizzard conditions later today.

BLACKWELL: Well, the storm hits just as millions of Americans plan to travel for the thanksgiving holiday.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is in the severe weather center.

Allison, Alison Kosik says that it should be snowing, we should see blizzards this time of year. Please side with me and tell her that she's wrong. ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's just -- it's the timing

of it, though, because nobody wants it on a big travel weekend when you're making plans to go out, especially because travel is going to be impacted. Now, obviously, air travel could be impacted, but really the roads are going to be the big concern with this, because you've got blowing snow. And so, even though not necessarily that much may fall, you can have the snow pile up along the interstates and we're going to see that.

So, we have lake effect watches and warnings out, we have winter storm warnings, winter weather advisories. We have a plethora of warnings out there right now.

Now, the system is already in place. We're already starting to see the snow come down. But the low is not going to move quickly. So, it's going to allow the snow to accumulate and pile up very quickly.

So, while we're looking at widespread, about two to four inches, there will be some areas, take a look at this pink, we're talking 12, 18, 20 inches of snow. Again, that's going to have some big impacts. With that said, however, we want to talk about what the impacts are for a "blizzard", quote, unquote.

So, we take a look, because technically, you have to have winds of 35 miles per hour. Visibility of a quarter of a mile or less, and you have to have both of those things for at least three hours. So, here's the thing -- this particular storm, we're going to have some of that but not all three at the same time.

So, we're going to have near blizzard like conditions but not technically blizzard conditions and that's going to be the key thing, but with that said, Alison and Victor, because it will be near blizzard-like condition, it will make travel incredibly rough over the next couple of days.

KOSIK: I like how she didn't take one side or the other. Go, Allison.

BLACKWELL: She didn't.

But these are winter advisories and warnings, a month out from winter. I'm just saying.

Thanks so much.

KOSIK: Allison, thank you.

Donald Trump says he's building a political wall so to speak, a wall that separates his White House from his business empire. But will it solve his conflict of interest?


[07:32:02] KOSIK: Good morning and welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik, sitting in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good Sunday morning to you.

Donald Trump is gearing up for a very busy day. In just a few hours, he has more meetings scheduled to pick out who will get few spots in his cabinet and those cabinet level positions. On tap today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani among others. You see them on the screen. President-elect also telling reporters there may be some announcements today.

KOSIK: And yesterday, he met with Mitt Romney who had called him a phony. And he called him a fraud among other names and transition team said, quote, "They had substantive and in-depth conversations about world affairs, national security and the future of America."

Donald Trump may be hitting a political wall, pitting the president- elect White House against the business tycoon's empire, this as his potential conflict of interest continues to mount.

Here's CNNMoney's Cristina Alesci.


CRISTINA ALESCI, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We all know Donald Trump wants to build a wall.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: But we will build a wall.

We're going to build a great wall.

It will be built.

ALESCI: There's another wall Trump promises, the one between his business empire and his job as president.

TRUMP: My kids will run it. And they'll run it well.

LESLEY STAHL, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And never talked to you about it?

TRUMP: They won't talk to me.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: Once he gets into government they will not be -- they will not be -- they will not be advising him. There will be -- there will have to be a wall -- there will have to be a wall between them.

ALESCI: But his so called wall is raising questions. On Thursday, President-elect Trump held his first meeting leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Sitting across from him, Ivanka. So far, he hasn't given his children any official titles within the government.

GIULIANI: They can't work in the government because of the government rule against nepotism.

ALESCI: Also raising eyebrows, reports that Trump might bring Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, into the White House. If Kushner does get a spot with the administration, that's a connection between the Trump business and a senior staffer in the White House. From the beginning, ethics experts questioned the so-called wall.

(on camera): This idea that his children can run it at arm's length is not viable in your opinion?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAYWER, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't think it does anything to correct the public perceptions.

NORMAN EISEN, SPECIAL COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ETHICS, PRESIDENT OBAMA: That is not a blind trust, the kind that presidents have used in the past four decades. A true blind trust means there is an independent trustee who has no connection to the president.

ALESCI: But if Ivanka and Jared Kushner continue to blur the lines between Trump Inc. and the Trump White House, the question is, does the wall even exist?

Cristina Alesci, CNN Money, New York.


BLACKWELL: OK. So, what is the impact of a possible conflict of interest and is there any resolution?

Joining me to discuss now, back with us, Jack Kingston, former Georgia congressman and Donald Trump supporter.

Jack, good to have you back. And what -- from what you just heard from Cristina story there is a likely outcome for Donald Trump? Because I don't know if anyone expects he will fully sell all of his investments and divest in all of those companies. And a full blind trust may not be possible.

What is your prescription?

JACK KINGSTON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: You know, Victor, I think you're right. I think it would actually take years to divest himself of everything that he owns.

I think having somebody who's a well-known public figure, a guy like George Mitchell who's even a Democrat but who could say, listen, I want you to watch over this. We need to have a wall. We need to have separation. Because we in the Trump campaign made too big of a deal about the Clinton blurring the foundation between her operations and activities, so it's only fair that we as Republicans show that there is a wall and that we make every effort to make sure that the lines aren't crossed.

I think some of the family members will not be able to work in the administration. They can still be voluntary advisors and they can still have a role. You know, there was a case when Bill Clinton appointed Hillary Clinton to run the health care task force and that was challenge by Republicans and by critics.

BLACKWELL: Yes. KINGSTON: And the courts found in favor of the White House and said

you can, indeed, employ your staffer, put her to work in the capacity. So, there are -- there is a precedent out there. But, you know, you just got to go -- not just case by case, but have an overall policy and then look at individual cases and make sure you're not crossing that.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there's, of course, this 1967 anti-nepotism law that most are replying upon that would keep the children out of the White House, and Jared Kushner out of a paid role as well.

Let's talk about a meeting that was reported by "The New York Times" this weekend between Donald Trump and other members of the Trump family and three executives from India who are essentially business partners with Donald Trump. One of those executives tweeted out a picture. And this is happening as there are so many questions about potential conflicts of interest during this time of transition.

I wonder, does the president-elect have a true understanding or respect for the bright, bold line that must be created if he is meeting with these business executives while he's in the midst of these meetings and posing for pictures with these business partners?

KINGSTON: You know, one of the reasons that he is a successful businessman is he's always been able to assembling the right people. When you think about the deals he's made internationally and the different areas where he's had to have local laws, so he's had to have local zoning knowledge, he said to have federal lawyers who know the international laws, he's had to have the right bookkeepers, accountants, real estate agents and so forth.

He knows how to cobble together a correct team at the table to make sure he doesn't cross lines and follow the legal --

TRUMP: But he also now has to separate teams. He's got to separate the business team from the administration and it seems like that he has these executives coming in.

Even when asked, Hope Hicks who was a spokesperson for the Trump transition declined to say whether or not business was discussed. If there was no business discussed, a simple no would have sufficed. But if the time can't say that they discussed no business and he's taking these pictures during the time of transition, isn't that an obvious point of concern for the American people who have this question about the separation of the administration and the organization?

KINGSTON: Victor, if he's trying to hide the meeting, he wouldn't have had cameras in there and had let pictures be taken. But, you know, what I'm saying is that he's going to sort this out, because he does not want this to be a distraction. When he has a meaty agenda that he wants to pass whether it's on taxes, or immigration, or national security, and so, this is not going to be a distraction to him.

That's why I believe he would probably have some kind of a -- maybe even outside czar although we don't like to use that word, but a czar will come in there and say we just want to make sure everything we do is copacetic and above board.

BLACKWELL: Understood, understood. You say he doesn't want this to be a distraction. He took the meeting anyway during this transition period.

Jack Kingston, thanks so much for being with us. Of course, we'll keep talking.

KINGSTON: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today. On the show, Reince Priebus, who has been tapped to be president-elect's chief of staff, pardon me, and Representative Tim Ryan who is challenging Nancy Pelosi for House minority leadership. That's "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

KOSIK: Hundreds of thousands trapped in a city under siege, eastern Aleppo under attack by regime forces. Every single hospital has been hit by airstrikes. The latest on the dire situation, next.


[07:43:08] KOSIK: A scene of tragedy in northern India this morning. At least 116 people were killed in a train derailment. Officials say dozens of other passengers might still be trapped in the wreckage. A railway ministry spokesperson says the number of casualties will likely rise.

Let's go to Syria in eastern Aleppo, a heartbreaking scene. Activists saying at least 300 people have been killed following five consecutive days of government airstrikes.

BLACKWELL: A quarter million people are believed to be trapped in Aleppo without a single hospital operating at full capacity.

CNN's Will Ripley has more from Istanbul. And we have to warn you that certainly the images you're about to see are disturbing.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When the Syrian regime sent out that mass text message last Sunday warning residents to get out or die, they promised brutal attacks on terrorist targets. Apparently, their definition of terrorist targets also includes the city's medical facilities.

(voice-over): Just when they thought it couldn't get any worse, one of east Aleppo's major hospitals takes a direct hit. Moments after the blast, a thick cloud of white dust making bloody patients look like plaster mannequins and they were the ones who survived. "No one go upstairs," he says, "go down. There aren't any patients left."

Upstairs, an apocalyptic scene. The intensive care unit devastated. It was full of patients, many just transferred from other hospitals hit hours earlier. Choking dust makes it nearly impossible to breathe. Patients who can

walk escape to the relative safety of the lower floors. Activists say many people are even afraid to go to the hospitals. Basements are becoming make shift triage centers, although the Syrian regime's bunker busters designed to pierce through reinforced concrete bomb shelters mean nowhere is safe.

[07:45:12] Even in war torn east Aleppo, many say they've never experienced bombing like this. Hundreds of airstrikes and thousands of artillery rounds fired on Saturday alone. At one destroyed building, rescuers drill and dig frantically trying to save a little girl trapped underneath what used to be her home. They find her silent clutching her blanket in shock.

Seconds after pulling her out, they must run for cover. The planes and the bombs are coming back.

(on camera): Three other medical centers in east Aleppo were attacked on Saturday, the surgical hospital and children's hospital. We're told that all of the children were safely evacuated and nobody was hurt.

Will Ripley, CNN, Istanbul.


BLACKWELL: The World Health Organization told CNN that all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of commission or out of service, and we'll continue to follow what's happening there. The doctors on the ground though say that some hospitals are functioning to limited extent. A White House statement called the attacks heinous, demanded, quote, "the immediate secession of those bombardments."

KOSIK: War has become a daily routine for youngest Aleppo's victims. For ways on how you can help the Syrian families fleeing the war, go to our website

We'll be right back.



[07:50:16] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first Thanksgiving was on pyramid rock, the Indians and pilgrims said, let's eat on this rock. Paul Revere said, 'Dinner served, let's all say grace." Ben Franklin brought salad blow, slaps him in the face. The pilgrims charged everyone a Thanksgiving fee, but Sacagawea used her coins and said, "This one is on me." Then, Vikings showed up on a double-decker bus, they said --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't eat those turkeys, they're going to eat us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's why we eat turkey.

CROWD: It was Thanksgiving, the first Thanksgiving


KOSIK: OK. "Saturday Night Live" giving a slightly different history lesson on origins of Thanksgiving.

BLACKWELL: Civics lesson didn't end there, though. Alec Baldwin made his return to "SNL" as the candidate turned out President-elect Donald Trump.

Let's get to CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter.

Baldwin and the "SNL" team giving their own take on the Trump transition. And now we see what Kate McKinnon will be doing as we transition into a Trump presidency.

KOSIK: Yes, we thought that she was going to be out of a job.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right. She's retired Hillary Clinton maybe at least for now, but in this "SNL" skit, we imagined what could be happening out of Bedminster. What are these meetings like between Trump and the possible administration officials who are saying him.

Here is Jason Sudeikis playing Mitt Romney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Kellyanne, what's the matter? Is there something on your shoulder?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, all of this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also, Mitt Romney is here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? OK. Send him in please.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Mr. President-elect. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney, so good of you to come.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't going to work, is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so.


STELTER: I guess time will tell how realistic that skit was. Maybe it won't work out. Maybe it will.

It was interesting to see Baldwin back, guys, because last week, he was not on the show. Alec Baldwin has said he has a busy schedule. He will not commit to playing Trump every week. But he says he'll show up from time to time.

So, we'll see additionally kind of as "SNL" figures out how to make fun of a Trump presidency, who will be playing Trump in the long term.

BLACKWELL: Yes, not the far reaching conversation that the real Mitt Romney described yesterday.


KOSIK: You know, "SNL" has so many eyeballs, and you wonder if through comedy if there can be some sort of unifying force for Americans at this point as a whole. Do you think "SNL" can do it?

STELTER: I'm thinking the opposite. I'm thinking "SNL" will continue to play mostly to either liberals or moderates who enjoy laughing at the presidency. Certainly, you know, what we saw in the debate parodies was a lot of criticism of Trump.

Here's another example. This is the re-creation of a Mike Pence/Donald Trump meeting. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's move on to Obamacare. As you know, 20 million people use it and it sounds crazy but a lot of people like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep it. Let's just keep it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, keep it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, keep it. All of it. No change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's hold that for later, all right?

Also, they are going to make it hard for us to hire a special prosecutor to put Hillary Clinton in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, don't do it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scrap it. She didn't do anything. Scrap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, being president is not going to be easy. But we'll get through it. We work hard together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mike. Oh, and, Mike, you're going to do everything, right?




STELTER: There they are against Trump and pence co-presidents. And as always, comedy making a serious point here. Lots of people curious about how invested President Trump is in this job, how much he'll delegate versus being hands on. And so, some of it was coming through in the comedy last night.

BLACKWELL: So, you've got a big show coming up in a couple of hours. Who do you have on?

STELTER: Oh, we're talking about fake news. You know, you and I talked about this yesterday, this idea that more and more websites are designed to trick people. So, I'll be talking about that and the broader idea that if we can't agree, if we can't agree on basic sources of information, how can we possibly get a handle on our political discussion?

[07:55:01] So, we'll be talking about that on "RELIABLE SOURCES", 11:00 a.m. today.

BLACKWELL: All right. And beyond just some of the fake news being read online on social media, we saw it come being from the campaigns, at least one campaign several times this cycle.

STELTER: Well, you know, I think even when you look at Donald Trump's Twitter feed now, the president-elect's Twitter now, he has said he'll be more restrained with his Twitter account once he's in the Oval Office. But we've seen examples of him posting either misleading information or very strange information on his Twitter account. I got to wonder if the real life Kellyanne Conway not the version we saw there on "SNL", would like to take that Twitter account away or get control.

Just this morning, him talking about "Hamilton", saying Hamilton was an overrated show, saying the cast should immediately apologized, you can understand why a lot of people here in New York, people on Broadway, have a lot of concerns about Trump's critique of "Hamilton." So, I'm sure that's going to be discussed in the days ahead.

KOSIK: Yes, I mean, his tweeting is becoming fodder for news headlines at this point and not in a good way. You want to know the president is to concussion on the important stuff. Is he to focusing on Aleppo?

BLACKWELL: We also know that Jack Kingston, who was the advisor to the campaign and supporting on the transition says that he appreciates Donald Trump's Twitter account because he says it helps him connect with the voters directly without the varnish, I'm paraphrasing here, going through several layers and levels.

But I'm sure you have it on your show.

Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

KOSIK: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And catch Brian on "RELIABLE SOURCES" at 11:00 a.m. Eastern today. Where? Right here on CNN.

KOSIK: Thanks so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King is coming up right after a short break.