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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Release Thanksgiving Video Message; Trump Names Gov. Nikki Haley Ambassador to U.N.; Millions of Americans Traveling Over Holiday. Aired 6:45-7p ET
Aired November 23, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: Cabinet of critics. Donald Trump names two new picks for his administration, including Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, the South Carolina governor critical of Trump during the primaries now poised for a top post. Will Trump tap another critic, Mitt Romney, for secretary of state?
Recount roil. New questions about the election outcome, as computer scientists urge the Clinton campaign to challenge the results. Do they have evidence that vote totals were manipulated in three key states?
Records on the road. One million more Americans are traveling this year over the Thanksgiving holiday, adding to highway and airport congestion. Which parts of the country will see weather making things worse?
And table too farm. President Obama pardons two turkeys in a longtime White House tradition. These birds, named Tater and Tot, spared from tomorrow's dinner platter, now bound instead for a wonderful life at Virginia tech.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in the situation room.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We're following breaking news tonight. President-elect Donald Trump is adding the first women to his Cabinet. He's named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Her selection is notable not only because she lacks foreign policy experience, but also because she supported Marco Rubio during the primary campaign and was very critical of Donald Trump.
At one point, he attacked her on Twitter, saying that South Carolina was embarrassed by Haley. Trump also named billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos education secretary. She is a school choice advocate who worked with Jeb Bush promoting Common Core standardized testing opposed by many conservatives. DeVos now says she not a supporter of Common Core. And we're also following the Thanksgiving travel rush. It's in full
swing tonight across the U.S. You have tens of millions of Americans who are going to be on the road, in the air over this holiday in record numbers. The TSA says it's prepared, having added more than 3,000 full-time officers since the summer.
We're covering all that and more this hour with our guests, including Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. And our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by.
Let's begin now with those new Trump appointments.
CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll is in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president-elect is spending the holiday.
Jason, Nikki Haley supported Marco Rubio in the primary campaign. This is why her appointment is so noteworthy, as well as the fact that she was just so critical of Donald Trump.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. As you know, Nikki Haley was someone who was not known to pull any punches when it came to criticizing Donald Trump. But that was then, this is now.
And now she is all team Trump.
CARROLL (voice-over): President-elect Donald Trump is bolstering his Cabinet by turning to a one-time critic.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When a bully hits you, hit that bully right back.
CARROLL: Trump today announcing South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his choice to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants, became the first woman and first person of color elected as governor of the Palmetto State. And she was the first woman selected to join the Trump administration.
Haley endorsed Senator Marco Rubio during the GOP primary and was a vocal Trump critic during the campaign.
HALEY: I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That's not who we want as president.
CARROLL: Trump today also naming Betsy DeVos, a top GOP donor and proponent of school choice, as his pick to head the Department of Education, calling her a brilliant and passionate education advocate. Trump pledged throughout the campaign to do away with the Common Core education standards.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: And we are going to end Common Core. Education is going to be brought local.
CARROLL: DeVos previously served on the board of an education group led by Jeb Bush that supports Common Core, but in a statement she says, "I am not a supporter, period. It got turned into a federalized boondoggle."
But it is the selection of Haley that raises the question, could another Trump rival be next? Transition sources tell CNN Mitt Romney is a leading contender for secretary of state.
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.
CARROLL: The 2012 Republican nominee was one of Trump's fiercest critics during the primaries, blasting Trump's foreign policy credentials.
TRUMP: Mr. Trump's bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies.
CARROLL: Some Trump loyalists are lambasting a potential Romney pick.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Political infighting is part of the game. But when you go after a person who was the nominee of your party, who has been duly nominated by the voters, and then you are savaging the voters. You're not just savaging Donald Trump.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I can think of 20 other people who would be more naturally compatible with the Trump vision of foreign policy.
CARROLL: Trump taking to Twitter to announce that he is considering another rival for HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carson tweeting an ambiguous follow-up, saying, an announcement is forthcoming about his role in helping to make America great again.
As Trump opens up Cabinet to one-time opponents, he is also showing an openness to reconsider core positions from the campaign, indicating in an interview with "The New York Times" on Tuesday that General James Mattis, a contender for defense secretary, helped change his mind about water-boarding.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: He said, "I have never found it to be useful." He said, "I have always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture."
CARROLL: And, Brianna, now comes the question of what will happen and when we might get an announcement in terms of that big position of secretary of state.
We are hearing that Mitt Romney is thinking over this position and perhaps, just perhaps we will hear something after the Thanksgiving holiday -- Brianna. KEILAR: CNN's Jason Carroll, thank you for that.
And there is more breaking news. President-elect Trump has just released a Thanksgiving video message.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta has details.
Jim, it's striking how much he's emphasizing unity.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Brianna.
Typically, these kinds of videos coming from politicians don't warrant a lot of news coverage, but this one is very interesting and I think comes at a very important time for this president-elect, because Donald Trump in this video acknowledges the deep divisions out there after this bruising election. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have just finished a long and bruising political campaign. Emotions are raw and tensions just don't heal overnight. It doesn't go quickly, unfortunately.
But we have before us the chance now to make history together, to bring real change to Washington, real safety to our cities, and real prosperity to our communities, including our inner cities. So important to me and so important to our country.
But, to succeed, we must enlist the effort of our entire nation. This historic political campaign is now over. But now begins a great national campaign to rebuild our country and to restore the full promise of America for all of our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Brianna, that video comes along with the news that we have had today with Nikki Haley being tapped to go to the United Nations. I talked to a Trump transition source earlier today, who said that they hope the selection of Nikki Haley to go to the United Nations is sort of a pressure reliever that might help Americans deal with this tough election battle over the holiday weekend, because it might reassure Americans to see Donald Trump pick such a harsh critic to serve in his administration.
Of course, the other shoe that we're waiting to see drop is potentially going to happen after the holiday weekend. That is the big question as to whether or not Donald Trump will actually tap and Mitt Romney will accept that job for secretary of state, as Jason was just saying a few moments ago. The former governor of Massachusetts, 2012 Republican nominee is seriously considering it, talking to family members about it.
Of course, this would also send another big message to the country that Trump, despite that very harsh campaign, is willing to listen to outsiders, is willing to reach outside of his comfort zone and his inner circle to bring people into this administration that will reassure Americans all over the country -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, that's a selection that would be jaw-dropping.
Jim Acosta in New York, thank you.
Let's get more now on all of this with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Thank you, sir, for being with us. We do appreciate it.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Thanks for having me.
KEILAR: Kellyanne Conway confirmed to "The Wall Street Journal" that Donald Trump Jr. met with pro-Russian diplomats last month in Paris to discuss working with Russia on the issue of Syria.
And this also comes as Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka joined her father to meet with the Japanese prime minister. She was on a phone call with the Argentinean president. Donald Trump himself has continued to take meetings with business partners. What is your reaction to this?
JEFFRIES: Well, it's understandable that he was going to take advice and counsel from his children throughout the duration of the campaign.
But now that he's the president-elect, there's a different set of standards that have to apply because he indicated that he's going the relinquish control of his massive business empire and hand the keys to that empire over to his children.
If, in fact, that is going to be the case, then they're going to have to divorce themselves from discussing the business of the people so they can focus solely on the business of the Trump empire.
And that doesn't seem to have happened in as smooth a way as should occur. And that's troubling, because we want a president who is going to be focused on getting things done on behalf of the American people, and not focused on what's happening with his business empire.
And to the extent that there is still a commingling of communications as it relates to his children, their involvement with the real estate business, their involvement with what's happening with the business of the people of the United States of America, that's problematic.
KEILAR: Do you think part of it is that Americans are just primed for this? And I ask this, because having covered Hillary Clinton, you know, she didn't really provide that firewall between Clinton Foundation donors and the State Department that she promised.
And while I will certainly say the practices of the foundation have been reviewed by outsiders as being sound and obviously the Trump Foundation has not, the Clinton Foundation, while also a platform for the Clintons, is also a charitable foundation. And we're talking about Donald Trump's commercial enterprise, but at the same time aren't people primed in a way to accept some of this?
JEFFRIES: Well, I certainly hope not.
This issue was overly litigated throughout the campaign, and we heard a lot from the Trump folks about the conflicts of interests that existed and whether she was going to divorce the foundation from her presidency.
Now that the tables have been turned, I'm hopeful that we are going to hear the same level of concern from people in the Republican Party about separating out the interests. We have got a lot of challenges.
KEILAR: But she wasn't going to have someone -- it was pretty clear that Chelsea Clinton would be involved. It's not like she was going to have someone else deal with some of the issues, keeping in mind this is charitable foundation, but it's also a platform for the family.
She wasn't going to do that. So with that in mind, and just sort of that normalization of that, shouldn't people just -- it seems like they're getting used to it, aren't they?
JEFFRIES: Well, we don't want these things to become the new normal. There were a lot of extraordinary issues and events that took place during this campaign.
But I think all of us, Democrats, Republicans, people on the left and the right, should get back to a situation where a focus is on the highest level of integrity in terms of the government moving forward.
We have got a whole host of economic challenges. And we want Donald Trump, our soon-to-be president, to be able to make decisions on housing policy, on transportation and infrastructure, on foreign policy on the merits of the issue, not on what may or may not be good for the business empire that's being run by his children.
So I do think it's relevant. I do think it's an issue for all of us in Congress and beyond to be concerned about. And I'm hopeful that Donald Trump will see that a clear separation is in the best interest of everyone involved.
KEILAR: Yes. And I want to ask you about some of these announcements that we're hearing and what your perspective as a Democrat is, because he's announced Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, as U.N. ambassador.
Mitt Romney is under serious consideration to be secretary of state. These are people that he really did not see eye to eye with. Are you encouraged by the fact that he seems to be considering and picking people that have different points of view than him?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think what actually troubles me -- and let me say about Nikki Haley is that she is a talent public servant. She acquitted herself incredibly well last year around the whole debate around the Confederate Flag in South Carolina and the fact that she helped lead the charge to bring it down.
But this is a very difficult and complicated world. We have got a crisis in Syria. We have got ISIS that wants to strike us at any particular point in time. We still haven't been able to solve the conflict between the Israel and the Palestinians. We have got North Korean aggression.
We have got the Russian bear that continues to lurk and Vladimir Putin who wants to reconstitute the Soviet empire. And now we have got president-elect who has got no foreign policy experience. We have a nominee to be U.N. ambassador, Governor Haley, who has no foreign policy experience.
We have the leading candidate for secretary of state, Mitt Romney, who has no foreign policy experience. This should be troubling. I don't expect that he's going to nominee Democrats or people who are left of center, people who Hillary Clinton would have nominated had she prevailed, but it does seem to me, particularly given his lack of experience in the foreign policy realm, that he should be surrounding himself with individuals who have worked in their professional capacity in this arena.
And that to me is the most troubling fact.
KEILAR: What about Dr. Ben Carson? Because it appears that he's under consideration for -- we know he's under consideration to be HUD secretary, Housing and Urban Development. He says that he can contribute to -- quote -- "making our inner cities great for everyone."
Do you believe that he has the experience for that role?
JEFFRIES: Not at all. And I don't think Dr. Ben Carson is really a serious choice for the HUD secretary, which is an agency of incredible importance, particularly in our inner city communities, where we do have a whole host of challenges.
The housing stock, as it relates to public housing developments all across the country in cities like Chicago, or New York, or Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., need a tremendous amount of work. We need visionary leadership. We need someone who has got experience in that area.
And I don't want Donald Trump to nominate Ben Carson simply because Ben Carson, once he dropped out of the race, was supportive of Donald Trump's candidacy and he feels like he needs to diversify the Cabinet and appoint someone who is African-American.
Go out and find a qualified African-American who has experience in the housing field, and that's something that will be far more acceptable, because, at the end of the day, we want Donald Trump to put people in place who can get the job done. And it's not clear to me that Ben Carson is that man, certainly as it relates to the HUD department.
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton now in the vote count is almost two million votes up in the popular vote on Donald Trump.
Some are actually urging her to do a recount. I'm going to get in a quick break. We will be back in just a moment with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and we will talk about that, whether that's a good idea or does that perhaps undermine democracy? We will be right back.
KEILAR: We're back with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
And we want to talk to him about some new questions surrounding the election vote tally, specifically electronic voting in which Hillary Clinton's total may have been low, perhaps oddly low. Some people are saying that.
He's going to stick around with us as we get details from Tom Foreman.
And, Tom, there are suggestions that this have cost Hillary Clinton the election. But how real is this?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is one of those things where, if we had a lot more data, if we had a lot more information, we could get it beyond just being a conspiracy theory.
But, right now, that's what it seems to be, a conspiracy theory tailor-made for Democrats who are unhappy about the election. In a nutshell, it says something odd seems to have happened in the electronic voting in three key states, and maybe it cost Hillary Clinton the White House.
FOREMAN (voice-over): In Wisconsin, with almost three million votes cast, Donald Trump edged Hillary Clinton by less than 28,000. In Pennsylvania, out of almost six million votes, his advantage was 60,000. And the count in Michigan still remains too close for CNN to call the race.
But now some political activists say, in counties using electronic voting, Hillary Clinton appears to have mysteriously underperformed, compared to areas with paper ballots, by as much as 7 percent, according to what they told top Clinton aides in a call urging an official review.
They have not released their analysis nor provided proof of hacking, but that margin could have tipped Wisconsin and if the others went her way too, she would have won.
So, who is leading the charge?
JOHN BONIFAZ, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: Our democracy is understand attack.
FOREMAN: John Bonifaz is a Democratic activist who ran for office a few years ago.
BONIFAZ: This is a story of where the Democratic Party needs to be.
FOREMAN: He's a big proponent of voting rights and he tried to get President Bush impeached over the Iraq War.
BONIFAZ: The United States House of Representatives has a constitutional duty to investigate fully and comprehensively.
FOREMAN: But at the University of Michigan, the chief computer scientist behind the discovery of these alleged voting oddities seems to been a different page.
J. Alex Halderman is concerned about the risk of elections being hacked. He talked about it on C-SPAN before this vote.
J. ALEX HALDERMAN, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: A realistic attack on the election is probably to be homing in on whichever states end up having the closest margins.
FOREMAN: But he wants an investigation because he thinks any questions about voting security ought to be addressed, not because he is convinced it would necessarily change the result nor prove anyone tried to rig the vote.
He has posted online -- quote -- "Were this year's deviations from pre-election polls the result of a cyber-attack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong."
As for election officials, some certainly went into the balloting pretty confident.
JERRY FEASER, PENNSYLVANIA ELECTION OFFICIAL: I could set one of these machines in the middle of Red Square in Moscow and the Russians couldn't hack into it.
FOREMAN: We reached out to the folks pushing this theory and were told they don't want to say more right now in case there is legal action.
Now, the Clinton campaign, however, has yet to file any official challenge. Jill Stein's campaign seems to be raising money and trying to push toward something.
But, meanwhile, as states finish counting the ballots and they get these last ballots collected, Clinton's lead over Trump in the popular vote keeps growing.
New numbers out just today put her more than two million votes ahead, according to The Cook Political Report. We have got a number a little bit lower than that. But it's still the most ever by a candidate who lost the electoral vote.
So, you can see, Brianna, why so many Democrats look at these findings and say, maybe there's something there.
KEILAR: Certainly. And they're looking for that. They certainly are not happy with the outcome of the election. CNN's Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
And I want to talk now again with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
So, you heard Tom Foreman's report there, Congressman. And I wonder what you think about it, because we have heard some people say, get rid oft Electoral College. And here we have some saying this process -- they are questioning sort of the legitimacy of the outcome here.
Does this erode Americans' trust in the process, or is this because their trust is eroded?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think there's been a tremendous amount of erosion of trust in the electoral process.
And to tell you the truth, the president-elect had a lot to do with it, because he spent the last six to nine months talking about the fact that this is a rigged election, and that the whole system is working against the American people.
So, he of course bears some responsibility in terms of where we're at right now. Now, there are two things that are at issue. One, the beauty of American democracy is that there's always been a smooth transition of power. And we want to see that take place between President Barack Obama, his administration and the incoming administration of Donald Trump.
But the functioning of American democracy depends on the integrity of the electoral process. And if there are legitimate claims of concern that have been raised, I would encourage the Clinton campaign to look into it and to take any necessary measures to have the American people be able to have the confidence that the electoral results that were reported on November 8, on November 9 are actually accurate.
I think that's incredibly important, particularly in the context where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, where more Americans came out to support her on Election Day than Donald Trump, where he's only the president-elect because of the aberration of the Electoral College, where we had an extraordinary intervention 11 days out from the campaign from the FBI director, who came in, dropped a bomb on Hillary Clinton, no evidence of wrongdoing, hid behind a desk in a building once occupied by J. Edgar Hoover, and then about a week later came out and said: I was wrong.
KEILAR: You think the Electoral College should be gone?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think that we need to look at the Electoral College and determine whether it's an outdated system. It would of course require a constitutional amendment. But the
president-elect himself stated in November of 2012 that the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy.
KEILAR: Isn't that rewriting -- those are the rules.
The campaign that Hillary Clinton put together was done with that in mind, with the Electoral College in mind. And all the way to election night, they were confident that they had basically played according to those rules. How does that not undermine democracy to say we're going to change -- we might want to change the outcome or we might want to scrap the system?
Aren't you in danger of unleashing unintended consequences down the road?
JEFFRIES: Well, nothing, of course, would be retroactive.
And the beauty of the stringent requirements of a constitutional amendment, first, it would require two-thirds of the vote in the House and the Senate. That's a high margin, would require a lot of persuasion, bipartisan cooperation.
And then 75 percent of the states, Brianna, as you know, would have to ratify that constitutional amendment in order for it to take effect. So that's going to be a long, extended, robust process.
But it is legitimate to ask the question, should we be electing the leader of the free world through an Electoral College process that may itself be outdated, in a system where we value one person, one vote? But that is not consistent with the Electoral College.
KEILAR: I just want to know, would you say the same if Donald Trump had won the popular vote, even by this huge margin, and the Electoral College had elected Hillary Clinton? Honestly, would you say the same thing?
JEFFRIES: Absolutely. Listen, I certainly think that Democrats need to be consistent with this particular position.
And when I was in the New York state legislature, I supported the effort to establish a national popular vote state legislature by state legislature. So, this is a position that I had before this most recent debacle, albeit in the aftermath a few years following the debacle in Florida, where George Bush lost the popular vote, won the Electoral College, and, as a result, we got two failed wars.
KEILAR: But you would accept -- you would say that you should really consider Donald Trump should be president if Hillary Clinton, by electoral votes, was deemed the president-elect?
JEFFRIES: Oh, no, no, I'm saying that Donald Trump got to 270, exceeded that threshold, and, by our current system, he is the president-elect. That is legitimate, assuming no credible allegations of voter fraud arise. But, prospectively, as we think about the system, it's a legitimate
conversation for us to have about the Electoral College and its continues relevance.
But that's got to be a bipartisan conversation. And there's no way to actually overturn it without blue states and red states, states dominated by Democrats and Republicans, to come together and say it's time to move beyond the Electoral College.
But what I'm saying is, that's a legitimate discussion. It doesn't undermine the legitimacy of Donald Trump's presidency. Again, he himself questioned the value of the Electoral College four years ago.
I'm just saying it's a reasonable debate for us to have as we move forward.
KEILAR: Yes, he did continue to question it even recently as well in the last months.
All right, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thank you so much for being with us. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
JEFFRIES: Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all your viewers.
KEILAR: Thank you.
[18:30:00] Just ahead, this holiday travel rush is upon us. Americans, you guys are on the road, you're in the air in record numbers this year. And the wild card for many travelers is weather. We're going to get a forecast and tell you what's ahead.
KEILAR: Breaking news tonight. President-elect Donald Trump has picked South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Let's talk about this with our political experts. Jackie Kucinich, to you first. This I why some people are surprised about this. Because let's just put up some of the tweets that we have here. Here's what Donald Trump said about Nikki Haley at one point.
"The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley."
[18:35:11] She responded, "Donald Trump, bless your heart," which as we know, that's what -- that is stereotypically what southerners say before they say something mean about you.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
KEILAR: So that is -- and the team of rivals, some have said, but this is sort of -- this is surprising, considering Donald Trump is notoriously thin-skinned.
KUCINICH: Sure, but I think all rivals are not created equal, of course. KEILAR: That's true.
KUCINICH: She was actually very respectful with the way she sort of went at Donald Trump. It was never over the top.
KEILAR: Compared to Mitt Romney, say.
KUCINICH: Mitt Romney, exactly. Because what she -- her criticism was more gentle, let's say, where Mitt Romney really took him down. So I think that would be more of a signal, because their views are so different, of what Donald Trump is looking at in terms of his cabinet.
KEILAR: Was she more diplomatic, we might say?
OK. So Ron, Donald Trump, I mean, clearly through this, he's trying to, and you're hearing from the Republican establishment, they feel somewhat comforted by some of these selections. What about Mitt Romney and that, as well? How far does that go to comforting them?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that -- yes, that's a big bridge.
First of all, look, if Donald Trump stuck with the Republican elected officials and established leaders who supported him during the campaign, he could not fill up the seats in the Roosevelt Room. Because I mean, he really had less support, institutional support from the individuals and institutions of the Republican Party than any nominee probably ever. So he has -- look, just to fill out the government, he has to reach beyond his circle.
And you know, he has done that, I think, in Nikki Haley. You know, his education secretary is someone who we might have seen from Jeb Bush. So in that sense, again, reaching beyond the circle.
Mitt Romney is a big bridge, because Romney's criticism of Trump was as pointed as we have ever heard one party nominee deliver on another. But maybe even more importantly, it's not clear at all that they're on the same page on foreign policy. In fact, Mitt Romney's, you know, principle critique as the nominee was that the U.S. was being too soft on Russia. And now, you know, clearly, Donald Trump is looking for -- although he doesn't want to use the word -- another reset with Russia.
So there is a lot of space between them that makes that very difficult. The attractive part is that he might be able to hear some of the breach between Donald Trump and the Republican foreign policy establishment, which has been perhaps the most critical part of the Republican infrastructure about his candidacy.
KEILAR: Ana, what are you thinking as you see these -- these latest appointments?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm frankly thrilled. I've been very critical of Donald Trump's first three appointments. And I'm just thrilled to see Governor Haley. I'm thrilled to see Mrs. Devos, who's going to be heading -- secretary of education. They are qualified; they are women. We've seen no diversity until today on Donald Trump's cabinet. We've got, in Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was the youngest woman ever elected -- youngest person ever elected governor in South Carolina.
And yes, you know, she -- she may not be an expert in foreign policy. She'll have a very good team behind her of professionals. I think she has the skills. I think she's very smart. She can learn quickly. She's also very diplomatic. She's very well-liked and respected. We saw her incredible leadership, moral leadership and courage on issues like the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Not an easy issue to take on in the state of South Carolina.
And as far as Betsy Devos, she really does breach -- she really does reach out to Republican establishment and all types of Republicans, because she's qualified.
And both of them were not Donald Trump supporters. So he's showing a willingness with these two picks of going outside of his comfort zone of absolute loyalists. And I'm just happy...
NAVARRO: ... that two women, who are not perceived as jerks, white supremacists, and don't peddle in fake news of alt-right made-up stuff. You know, so as far as I'm concerned, they're great.
KEILAR: All right. That is something. I mean, that's a compliment from Ana Navarro, when it comes to Donald Trump. I'm going to remember this moment.
Jeremy, I want to ask you...
NAVARRO: No, when it comes to Nikki Haley and Betsy Devos.
KEILAR: That's right, yes. But still, OK, it's a compliment to them.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Here's the thing, though. If folks like Ana are happy, that means there are a lot of the grassroots supporters of Donald Trump who are not happy about some of these picks, in particularly Betsy Devos. There have been a lot of people from folks saying that, you know, she's tied to these pro- Common Core groups.
KEILAR: And Jeremy, what about what you wrote about, as well, the fact that he's backpedaled on some of these issues. Music to the ears of establishment Republicans, but what about his grassroots supporters?
DIAMOND: Absolutely. You know, we're seeing Donald Trump, particularly on the issue of investigating or prosecuting Hillary Clinton, you know, going back on that, saying it's time for the nation to heal.
While that may be, you know, music to the ears of a lot of Americans, there's a lot of Donald Trump supporters, particularly the ones who I saw at rally after rally, chanting "La Corrupt" as Donald Trump kind of goaded them on, who are going to be very disappointed. [18:40:02] And you know, we saw Alex Jones, for example, a prominent
Trump supporter and also conspiracy theorist, kind of twisting himself into a pretzel, trying to find a way to say, you know, Donald Trump is not totally taking this off the table. But clearly, we're seeing Donald Trump showing that, you know, he is a political chameleon of sorts, whether it's on Hillary Clinton or on certain policy issues.
KEILAR: You all are going to stay with me. We have much more to talk about. Conflicts of interest, potential ethical issues. We'll discuss after a break.
[18:45:09] KEILAR: We're following breaking news. President-elect Donald Trump has released a Thanksgiving video message tonight, stressing unity. He talks about raw emotion and tension in the wake of what he calls the bruising presidential campaign. And he calls on the nation to work together to bring historic change to Washington and the country.
We're back now with our panel.
I want to start with you, Ana Navarro, to talk about conflicts of interest and Donald Trump. It strikes me when I was sort of thinking of the list today. You've got a recent $25 million lawsuit in a fraud case, not releasing taxes, that's old. You have the Trump Foundation admitting self-dealing, which is using foundation money, basically not for charitable, for self-dealing. And then you have his children, who are going to be managing his business enterprises, from which he really can't divorce himself from, meeting with world leaders.
How does that even work? How does that even not create some massive distraction in his administration?
NAVARRO: I think it creates a massive political problem, not just for Donald Trump but also for Republicans. Republicans have honed in on the issue of conflict of interest with Hillary Clinton for years now. It has been something that we have hammered away over and over again, and which I think was very hurtful to Hillary Clinton.
There was a blurry lines between the Clinton philanthropic, political and business world and there was a lot of profit made.
Donald Trump has got to face the same exact scrutiny, if not tougher. He is president of the United States. She was secretary of state of the United States, and a candidate. And I think Republicans are going to have a lot of egg on their face if they don't investigate, and they're not as tough with Donald Trump as they were with Hillary Clinton, the candidate.
I also think that it's going to be a steady drip, drip, drip, that the American public is not going to like. We've already seen it be, a steady drip, drip, drip in the last two weeks and he's only been president-elect for the last two weeks. You had Ivanka sit in on a meeting with the prime minister of Japan. You've had Ivanka on the phone when he called the -- when he spoke with the president of Argentina where there was reportedly an issue about permitting of a Trump building in Argentina. We've seen the hawking of the Trump Hotel in Washington to foreign delegates.
NAVARRO: It does not fit the narrative of drain the swamp.
KEILAR: You have so many people who also -- they're looking for an opportunity too.
Jeremy, I want to tell you, I don't have much time. I want to get you all in with a comment here.
Jeremy, I wonder -- Ana says he needs to face the same kind of scrutiny. Will he? Will his supporters be okay with this?
DIAMOND: Yes, it certainly is an important question. Donald Trump has yet to have to actually answer to this report from "The Washington Post" regarding the disclosure his foundation made to the IRS. You know, Donald Trump throughout the campaign was posed questions about this and insisted that he followed the letter of the law and clearly his foundation did not.
And "The New York Times" meeting he had yesterday, he said he's going to -- that he's already started in fact to reduce his involvement in his company and hand it over to his kids. But like Ana pointed out, you know, his kids are still very involved in his transition efforts. They were key advisers in his campaign.
And that's going to be perhaps the most difficult part for him to separate himself from, because these are people who are not only his children but who he relied on for advice and counsel and who were movers and shakers in his campaign.
BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say. Look, it's pretty imagine, I'm imagining the analogous situation with Hillary Clinton on any of these, Chelsea Clinton being on phone calls.
KEILAR: Sure, exactly.
BROWNSTEIN: Easy to imagine what we'd be hearing from Jason Chaffetz in particular and from other congressional Republicans. I would submit they are not doing Donald Trump any favors by sweeping this under the rug and by not looking at it, because while sit a drumbeat now, if it is not checked, the odds are reasonably high that down the road there will be a bigger problem than we're seeing today and they're not doing any favors to him by kind of allowing him to walk down this road.
KEILAR: It's a really interesting point and I talked to Peter King earlier. He was backing up Donald Trump. Yet I played him his sound bite from Hillary Clinton where he said even the appearance of a conflict of interest raises questions about personal judgment. If there is not a double standard, then this should matter.
KUCINICH: They are in sort of an impossible situation, because short of selling off his business and putting that in a blind trust, and he's not going to do that, they're going to have to sort of create something to shelter him from this, because you're right --
KEILAR: How does he do that if he's talking to his kids all the time?
KUCINICH: Well, that's the thing. And the appearance of impropriety is just that.
KEILAR: Yes, it's a really good point.
Jackie, really appreciate it. Ron, Jeremy, Ana, you guys all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Just ahead --
BROWNSTEIN: You too.
DIAMOND: You too.
NAVARRO: You too.
KEILAR: I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. But your holiday travel might be harder this year, whether you are on the road or in the air.
[18:50:04] Plus, how the weather is going to impact all of it. We'll tell you next.
KIELAR: For many Americans, the Thanksgiving holiday means travel and this year more of you are doing it. We're going to get a travel update, also a weather update.
And I want to begin now with CNN's Rene Marsh. She is at Reagan Airport, just outside of Washington.
How is it looking there, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Brianna, things are looking good. People are moving through this particular airport. The big talker is really about volume today.
[18:55:00] But the true test doesn't happen until Sunday. That is when we are expecting lots of people. And all eyes will be on TSA to make sure that they can actually get the passengers through the check point and on the flights on time.
MARSH (voice-over): Millions of people across the country are on the move during the busiest travel period of the year. On the 405 in Los Angeles, it was the mother of all traffic jams Tuesday night -- miles and miles of gridlock for drivers who had hoped to beat the rush. On the capital beltway outside D.C., traffic was backed up for nearly
10 miles after a crash. Most people will drive to their Thanksgiving destination -- more than 43 million according to AAA.
The best way to avoid the worst gridlock? Drive on Thanksgiving Day and head home any day but Sunday. Saturday or Monday are much lighter traffic days.
Meantime, airports and airlines are seeing a record number of fliers. Twenty-seven million passengers are expected to take to the skies.
Inside Delta Airlines Command Center this week, the operations team monitors the weather and every flight in the air.
DAVE HOLTZ, DELTA OPERATIONS AND CUSTOMER CENTER: There's a laser- like focus on the completion factor and making sure we get people where they need to be for the holidays.
MARSH: And as passengers lined up at security checkpoint, the head of TSA says they are ready.
PETER NEFFENGER, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: We brought on just shy of 1,400 new transportation security officers this summer. And we converted about 2,000 from part-time to full-time. We've added about another 50 or 60 K9s.
MARSH: But unexpected problems can pop up. At Louisville International Airport, a temporary power outage caused long lines and delays this morning.
Overall, for most flyers, it's been a smooth ride so far.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was expecting a lot of lines and just a lot of confusion outside. But everything is really smooth this morning.
MARSH: But with 1 million more people traveling this year compared to last year, it's still a good idea to get to the airport two hours before your flight.
MARSH: Now remember, if you are on a line with a working K9, you can keep your shoes and your coat on and you can leave the liquids in the bag.
I can tell you, gas prices, they are a lot cheaper, the second cheapest in nearly a decade. And prices for a flight are pretty low.
So, Brianna, that explain this is large volume that we've been talking about as far as travelers this Thanksgiving.
Back to you.
KEILAR: Well, that's some good news.
All right. Rene Marsh, at Reagan Airport, thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Rene.
And you know the wild card for many travelers is going to be weather. For more on that, let's bring in Jennifer Gray. She's our CNN meteorologist.
You are looking at the trouble spots. So where are you checking out?
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've seen the longest delays really in the Midwest, places like Chicago, Detroit, because of this rain and snow. We've also had quite a few wind delays today through New York's LaGuardia. So, those will continue throughout the evening. They have also been deicing in Salt Lake City, Brianna, that's caused delays as well.
KEILAR: OK. So, Rene says if you are smart, you are heading out tomorrow. That's going to be -- that's where the money is, right? So what does that look like for people on the road. There are still going to be a lot of them?
GRAY: Right. Conditions look overall great tomorrow. We are going to have a couple of trouble spots though, especially in the Northeast. A couple of these interstates, I-90, Upstate New York could have a little slick spots, snow and rain mixed in. That is going to clear out throughout the day.
The other trouble spot is going to be Pacific Northwest. We're going to have rain through Seattle in Portland, but you could have some trouble getting through some of the passes. We are going to have snow in higher elevations, Brianna.
KEILAR: And what about this week and especially on Sunday, which is that huge travel day.
What are you seeing for folks?
GRAY: Especially on Sunday, overall again looks great. Believe it or not, the trouble spot on Sunday is actually going to be the West Coast. We're going to have quite a bit of rain across California, even some mountain snow in the Rockies. But elsewhere, things look pretty good. Maybe a little bit of snow in northern New England, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Wait until Monday, maybe go -- I say wait until Monday. Enjoy your long weekend. That's my advice from Rene Marsh to everyone.
All right. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.
From an Iowa farm to the White House and a presidential pardon. Two turkeys have their lives spared today by President Obama in a ceremony and a tradition dating back decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren't so lucky, who didn't get to ride the gravy train to freedom, who met their faith with courage and sacrifice, and proved they weren't chicken.
OBAMA: Oh it's not that bad now. Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I am Brianna Keilar. Thank you so much for watching, a very happy Thanksgiving to you, with a little help from my friend. Isn't he cute? He's so funny. I love him.
All right. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now anchored by Jim Sciutto.