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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Names Two Key Picks, Split Over Secretary of State; Secret Service May Rent a Floor of Trump Tower; Secret Service Command Post May Cost $1.5 Million A Year; Source: Trump & Romney Spoke Over Thanksgiving; Russia Behind Some "Fake News" Before Election. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 25, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN: I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Brianna Keilar to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:00:11] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Jim.
Happening now, breaking news, Trump divisions. Donald Trump makes two key White House picks, but it appears debate raging in his inner circle over the job of secretary of state. Could a loyalty test disqualify Mitt Romney from joining the Trump administration?
Sky high security. The Secret Service is looking to take over a floor at Trump Tower. Is it ethical for the president-elect to charge millions for renting a building that he owns? And officials say New York is already shelling out a million dollars a day for police protection.
Who's impressed? Russia's Vladimir Putin denies interfering in the U.S. election, but a new report suggest a powerful propaganda campaign was designed to disrupt the election with a flood of fake news.
And killed by ISIS. An American service members, is killing -- is killed fighting ISIS in Syria, the first to die in that country since U.S. Special Ops forces began advising Syrian rebels.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news, Donald Trump makes key staff picks, but a fight continues within his team over the secretary of state job. The president-elect has named campaign lawyer Don McGahn as White House counsel. And he'll have to grapple with conflicts of interest over Trump's business empire.
K.T. McFarland, who held posts in three Republican associations, will be deputy national security advisor.
The appointments come within an open split within the Trump camp over the secretary of state post. 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, a harsh Trump critic, is a candidate. But so is former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, an outspoken Trump supporter. An here is strong resistance from loyalists. Sources say they spoke over Thanksgiving and Romney is still in the running. While retired generals John Kelly and David Petraeus are also being considered for the job, along with Senator Bob Corker.
A law enforcement official says the Secret Service may take over a floor at Trump Tower. Rent could add up to a million-and-a-half dollars a year in the building owned by the president-elect. Police protection there already costing New York City a million dollars per day.
And a new report suggests a Russian propaganda campaign built around a torrent of fake news stories was aimed at disrupting the U.S. election. "The Washington Post" says researchers researchers found that Russia exploited U.S. technology to attack U.S. democracy.
I'll be speaking with Republican Congressman Chris Collins. And our correspondents, analysts and guests have full coverage of the day's top stories.
We're going to start with the Trump transition. The president-elect makes a couple of key appointments, but there's a public feud over one of the biggest cabinet posts. We begin with CNN's Ryan Nobles.
What are you learning, Ryan?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, as you mentioned, the Trump team today announcing two key appointments to his staff. They say that will be it for the weekend, leaving many key cabinet posts vacant and a fierce debate over one key post.
NOBLES (voice-over): Tonight, the biggest debate with the transition surrounds who Donald Trump will name as his secretary of state.
JASON MILLER, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM SPOKESMAN: The president-elect is meeting with a number of well-qualified potential selections for this important position who share his America-first foreign policy.
NOBLES: Transition sources tell CNN that Mitt Romney is already a contender to head the State Department, and the 2012 nominee is seriously considering the job.
But some in Trump's orbit are openly voicing their displeasure with the idea. Top advisor Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter on Thursday to build the case against Romney, arguing the pick would disappoint Trump's most local supporters, and she's not alone.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When he goes overseas, is he going to be the secretary of state for President Trump or is he going to be Mitt Romney's own secretary of state?
NOBLES: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich was rumored to be a candidate for state, himself, blasted the idea.
GINGRICH: He was Trump's most vicious and most explicit opponent all through the campaign on the Republican side.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I'm afraid that when it comes to foreign policy, he is very, very not smart.
NOBLES: As the fight over his secretary of state plays out public, Trump is not limiting his options for the role to just Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, adding retired Marine General John F. Kelly, the one-time head of U.S. Southern Command; former CIA director David Petraeus; and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker to the mix, according to a transition source.
That as Rudy Giuliani is publicly touting his qualifications, telling "The Wall Street Journal," quote, "My knowledge of foreign policy is as good or better than anybody they're talking to."
[17:05:00] Romney, meanwhile, is staying out of the public fray. His wife Anne tweeting a picture of him, walking on a beach with family.
Trump is still moving forward, filming staff positions, announcing national security analyst K.T. McFarland will serve as a national deputy security adviser and naming government ethics lawyer Don McGahn, a former member of the election commission, as his White House counsel.
Trump is also laying the ground work to deliver on one of his campaign promises.
TRUMP: I'm going to bring jobs back. We're bringing jobs back to our country. We're not going to let Carrier leave.
NOBLES: Tweeting that he is making progress with Carrier to keep the furnace-making plant from shipping some 1,400 jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico. The company says it has, quote, "nothing to announce at this time."
NOBLES: And Trump is scheduled to return to New York City on Sunday. His Monday is already jam-packed. Eight different people coming to Trump Tower to meet with him and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, including the Milwaukee County sheriff, David Clarke. He is an African-American and a Democrat, but he's also been very critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. He is rumored to be considered as the next secretary of homeland security -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Very interesting. Ryan Nobles in Florida, thank you.
Let's bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta now. What else are you hearing from your sources, specifically about this -- the intrigue around the secretary of state pick?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. They're calling it palace intrigue inside the Trump transition, but we do understand that Mitt Romney is still in the running for secretary of state. I am told by a source familiar with these discussions that Mitt Romney and Donald Trump actually had a brief phone conversation over Thanksgiving. So...
KEILAR: That's interesting.
ACOSTA: That is interesting. In addition to all the table talk, I guess, down there at Mar-a-Lago, he broke away to have the phone call.
KEILAR: It makes you wonder if maybe it was to reassure him that he was in the running or something. You know, we have no -- we have no idea, but it's significant that he was in touch with him.
KEILAR: Why is this decision just galvanizing all of this attention?
ACOSTA: I think because it goes to this, you know, this decision that he has to make and what it says about Donald Trump, his team, his governing style as president of the United States. He could have easily by this point picked a loyalist like Rudy Giuliani. But the fact that he's considering Mitt Romney suggests that he knows that it would send a message to the country. You know, he's said, "I want to be a unifying president." That it would send a message to the country that, yes, he could be that kind of president of the United States, because he could pick somebody like Mitt Romney who trashed him so badly in that speech back in Salt Lake City.
There is this back and forth that's going on. I talked to one loyalist to Mitt Romney, who said, "Who needs who more?" This was sort of in response to this back-biting coming from the people who are saying he shouldn't pick Mitt Romney.
But I do think that in the long run, if he does go with a Mitt Romney pick, you're going to have a lot of people, and you probably talked to them up on Capitol Hill just ecstatic about this.
KEILAR: You -- and you covered Mitt Romney extensively in 2012.
KEILAR: That was the candidate that you followed.
KEILAR: He comes with a built-in foreign apparatus...
ACOSTA: He would.
KEILAR: ... having been a nominee, right?
ACOSTA: That's the other thing, is that Mitt Romney would come in on day one with a staff. He would come in with a team. And that is something that perhaps Rudy Giuliani would not be able to bring. And it would sort of take care and set to the side a big problem for President-elect Trump.
Because as you know from being in this town for so long, the State Department is a totally different animal from the rest of the federal government in places like the Pentagon and the Justice Department. And so Mitt Romney does solve a lot of problems for Donald Trump but perhaps not internally, where a lot of people would be very upset.
But you talk to people inside Trump world, they say he thrives off of this conflict. And so he probably -- he wouldn't mind having a Mitt Romney in there, because it would cause more of that conflict.
KEILAR: Yes, shake it up. Well, it's certainly intriguing. And it sounds like they both need each other. So we'll see how this pans out.
KEILAR: Jim Acosta, thank you so much for that report.
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Chris Collins from New York. He's a member of the Trump transition team. He was the first House member to endorse Donald Trump for president.
Congressman, thank you so much for being with us on this holiday weekend.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Yes, good afternoon.
KEILAR: OK. So President-elect Trump is facing a lot of this internal opposition, as you are fully aware, about the possibility of picking Mitt Romney as secretary of state. You're a member of his transition committee. Should the foreman opposition of Mitt Romney qualify him for this position or not?
COLLINS: Well, clearly, what I would tell you, Donald Trump, President-elect Trump is going to make this decision, he and he alone. We need to respect that. I certainly will.
KEILAR: I'm not ask -- I'm not asking for you to endorse Mitt Romney. It's this concept, whether it's Mitt Romney or whether it's someone else who might be discussed for another position, this idea that someone has been very vocally outspoken.
I mean, you're someone who got on the Trump train very early, but some people never did. Should that disqualify them from being considered?
[17:10:07] COLLINS: Not disqualify him, though. I mean, he also chose Nikki Haley, who we know was with Marco Rubio. She said a few harsh things, as well.
Donald Trump is being very magnanimous in having -- he's moved from a campaign to being the president-elect. He's going to assemble I think what you'll see to be, and I've said all along, one of the greatest cabinets we've ever seen. It's going to be diverse. You're going to see people that may have different opinions.
But at the end of the day, Donald Trump will be making this decision. In fact, he will be making all decisions after he hears differing opinions. That's what a CEO does. He's spent five decades as a CEO. He knows how to get the best out of the people he's with. And with all due respect, I would support any and all folks that President- elect Trump picks, including Mitt Romney, even though I would share with many the absolute disappointment in both the Romney -- during the campaign as well as the Bushes.
But, obviously, President-elect Trump is willing to put that aside. God bless him. It just shows you the character that he has, and it will be up to him. He may listen to other opinions, but there's only one person that's going to make that pick, and that is President-elect Trump.
KEILAR: It sounds like it's difficult, though, for people like yourself, who were fully on board and fully on board early, to look at someone who -- I mean, it's not just -- you said Nikki Haley. She did have some criticism of Donald Trump. But she had -- it was sort of more genteel criticism. And with Mitt Romney, I mean, the back and forth was scathing.
KEILAR: It could peel paint. So when you look at that, as someone who's a loyalist, does it just -- what's your feeling? I can hear that it's -- would be disappointing.
COLLINS: Well, I referred to Governor Romney time and again as a loser, somebody that rose to be our nominee, who then walked away from the Republican Party. I thought that was disgraceful. And -- and I called it out as such.
But at this point in time, all of us want what's best for America, to make America one, put America first. And if, as an individual, President-elect Trump believes that Mitt Romney can give him the best individual in that, I will respect that. And we'll move on.
But, you know, clearly, for a lot of us that were in the firefight to have to stand up against both the Bushes and Romney, it's not easy. But again, this is Donald Trump's decision. I respect that, and it should tell America a lot that he's considering this. And certainly the liberal press, as well, call this unexpected. And that's not a bad thing.
KEILAR: Rudy Giuliani is someone also in your camp who just fought tooth and nail for Donald Trump; clearly wants to be secretary of state. He's in the running. But how seriously is the president-elect considering these other options that we've we heard more recently, like General John Kelly, General David Petraeus and Senator Bob Corker?
COLLINS: Well, clearly, President-elect Trump is gathering information. He's forming opinions. He's talking to anyone and everyone, including his family. At the end of the day, though, he's going to weigh all that he's we heard, the pros, the cons; the pluses, the minus; party unity, et cetera. He will make that decision. And I'm -- suspect right now he has not yet made that decision. He's continuing to weigh something again. That's what a CEO does.
KEILAR: Yes. COLLINS: He's going to bring in all these different opinions. He's going to put them on his own scale.
KEILAR: He will look at them and then he's going to decide. And I understand we're putting you in a tough spot, because I know you can't talk about a lot of this stuff. But I want to talk to you about something that he did tweet yesterday.
He said, "I'm working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier AC company" -- that's an air conditioning company -- "to stay in the U.S., Indiana. Making progress. Will know soon."
The president of the union who represents Carrier workers says he hasn't we heard from Donald Trump. If this were another Republican incoming president, I wouldn't think that was so odd, but Donald Trump actually seemed more aligned with what a lot of union members, especially in states like Indiana and Michigan, what they felt about the economies than Hillary Clinton was. It seems he may find some common ground there that maybe other Republicans may not find.
Is this someone that he should be reaching out to?
COLLIN: Well, let's face it: the union wants their jobs. The last thing they want to do is lose 1,400 jobs. Clearly, though, that is a decision of management, what they're doing. So I believe, seeing the same reports you are, that President-elect Trump, in talking to the management at Carrier, is trying to explain to them, perhaps, the ramifications of moving and what that could mean down the road, whether it's tariffs or taxes coming back in.
[17:15:09] It's a new game right now, whether that's Ford Motor Company with the small cars or Carrier, to understand, once they -- they make that move, and if all of a sudden, they're facing either taxes or tariffs to bring those products back in the U.S., it may not make the economic sense that they thought it might.
So it's a good conversation to have. I know the union would be just thrilled if this was to come to be.
KEILAR: But should -- and, sure, but shouldn't they be talking to the president-elect? The union says they've been talking with Senator Bernie Sanders. And I mean, what a wild election, that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had a lot of similarities on trade and, actually, in their sort of core ideas about trade were closer together than -- of course, than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were. Has he considered reaching out to Senator Sanders to try to work on something like this?
COLLINS: Well, I don't -- would not expect him to be reaching out to Bernie Sanders. Let's face it. Many of us were opposed to TPA and TPP. We've got to have manufacturing jobs in the U.S. where we actually make things. The multiplier effect of those jobs is what's going to get us to 4 percent GDP growth.
So all of this is consistent with making things in America and getting the jobs back, and that's why he won Ohio. That's why he won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. So all of this is consistent. He certainly doesn't need advice from Bernie Sanders to know how we're going to bring jobs back and what it's going to take to get America moving and get back to 3 percent GDP growth.
But he's -- in speaking to the management at Carrier, that's absolutely the right thing he should be doing, laying out...
COLLINS: ... the potential outcome, if they were to move and what that could mean. And I know the unions will be over the moon, if in fact, those jobs stay here.
KEILAR: I guess. I asked you because they are kindred spirits on TPP, for sure, and it seemed like, as he reaches out to some odd sort of bedfellows, maybe Bernie Sanders might be one of them. It would be surprising but certainly interesting.
All right. I'm going to get a quick break in. Congressman Collins, stick around. We have much more ahead.
[17:21:34] KEILAR: And we are back now with Republican Congressman Chris Collins, the first congressman who endorsed Donald Trump. We're covering some breaking news, and we're going to talk to him in just a moment. But CNN first has learned new details about the Secret Service's plan for protecting the president and his family when they're at Trump Tower in the heart of New York City.
Let's get more details now from our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. Tell us what's in the works here? This is pretty interesting, Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So we have learned that the Secret Service right now is working on plans to protect the first family at Trump Tower. We know that Melania and Barron will be staying there at least through next spring.
And part of what they're working on is renting one floor in Trump Tower, at least one floor, and basically setting up a 24/7 command post on that floor to protect the future first family.
We are told that the costs for renting out one floor would be around a million-and-a-half dollars. That's according to someone who actually rents out that property. And in addition to that, we know, Brianna, according to three officials we've spoken to, it costs a million dollars a day just to provide security.
Of course, Trump Tower is there. It's on a very busy corridor, Fifth Avenue. And then you have to look at these other costs in terms of paying the agents. I'm told more than 100 secret service personnel will part of this 24-7 command post, part of protecting the first family. And it could go up to 300 NYPD officers protecting the first family, as well.
I'm told all these details are being ironed out as we speak. They're still working on the plan. It's evolving every day. But that is where things stand right now -- Brianna.
KEILAR: How unusual. And I imagine the answer is it's pretty unusual for this setup, because we haven't had a president in this position.
BROWN: It is unusual in a couple of different ways. First of all, you have Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. As one official said, the planning is typical. What's not typical is the location of Trump Tower on this busy corridor in one of the busiest cities in the world.
But then you have to look at some past examples here. Joe Biden, for example, we know that the Secret Service rented out the cottage right next to him. In this case, we know the Secret Service will actually be paying Trump's corporation, if, in fact, the Secret Service leases out that floor. And so, in essence, Trump's company will be getting the rent money from the Secret Service so that the scope and the size, of course, is unprecedented.
But I'm told as far as costs goes -- this is according to an expert on the Secret Service -- that is customary, that essentially going back to the Nixon administration, the Secret Service has footed the Bill for these kind of operations. But of course, as I've said, the size, the scope, the scale is on a much larger than what we've seen in the past.
KEILAR: It certainly is. Pamela Brown, thank you for that great report.
And we're back now with Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. As I had said before, he's the first House member to endorse Donald Trump. He's now part of the transition team.
So you we heard Pamela's report there, and certainly, this is -- this is highly unusual, of course. And this would require some space in Trump Tower to protect the Trump family, Congressman. But what do you think about that, this idea that the taxpayers would be paying $1.5 million to rent that space? Do you think it's appropriate for the president-elect or the president to be profiting off of taxpayer money?
COLLINS: Well, a couple of comments. I do find it somewhat interesting, we're talking about the cost of protecting Donald Trump and his family. I never we heard those same discussions about Bill Clinton and his family or Barack Obama and his.
[17:25:04] But putting that aside, it is the Secret Service job to protect the president and his family at all times. Let's say this does play out. Obviously, they'll have to work through the details.
But if -- if the Trump Tower gave up a floor or rented that floor to the Secret Service, as opposed to renting it to someone else, that's obviously because the Secret Service thinks that's best and maybe the most cost effective way to provide that. But no one would ever expect someone to, quote, give up the rent that you would otherwise be getting and -- for nothing. You could not ask them to do that.
KEILAR: No, he's given up. He's foregone the salary, and I think that's important to -- or he said he'll take it if there has to be a buck or something, he'll take that, whatever needs to be taken. But he's foregoing the salary as president, which he said.
And you said you haven't heard anyone pushing back on other presidents. But Donald Trump, himself, has criticized repeatedly President Obama for the necessary trappings of the presidency and for taxpayers paying for them. For instance, he said, "Taxpayers are paying a fortune for the use of Air Force One on the campaign trail by President Obama and Crooked Hillary. A total disgrace."
And we should also mention, Congressman, that the campaign pays for a considerable chunk of the use of Air Force One when it's on the campaign trail. So I mean, he sort of opened the door to this question.
I hear what you're saying. Everyone wants a president to be secure. I don't think anyone is arguing with that. But he's also foregone the salary and talked about not wanting to profit, and here we have a situation where it could be $1.5 million per year.
COLLINS: Well, if that's what it was, and it's really up to the Secret Service to decide how to provide this protection to know that they will be safe.
KEILAR: But it's up to him to decide if he wants to accept the payment or not.
COLLINS: Well, that's correct. And I guess we'll have to leave that for another day to decide where that goes. We've still got a couple of months.
But I for one would say, if that's what a floor in Trump Tower rents for and that's the best way to provide it, I personally as a taxpayer would not think twice about them paying for that. It's market rate. They'd certainly have to work through how the details of that would be.
But I don't think America is at all focused on that. They're focused on making sure he and his family are safe. And we just move forward, making America great again, and this is one of those details. It's interesting. I suppose it is newsworthy, but it's nothing I'm going to get hung up on.
KEILAR: We certainly do want them to be safe. And we should say we don't know exactly how this is going to shake out. But we'll cover it when it does.
Congressman Chris Collins, we always appreciate you being on. Thank you.
COLLINS: Yes. Good to be with you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Good to be with you, and a happy holiday weekend to you, as well.
Still ahead, Donald Trump's newly-announced White House counsel is facing a situation unique in terms of both complexity and just sheer numbers. We have new details on the legal mess facing the president- elect.
[17:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: "BREAKING NEWS," CNN has learned the Secret Services considering renting an entire floor of Trump Tower to set up a command post for protecting Donald Trump and his family when they're in New York. This is a plan that would cost about $1.5 million dollars a year, just to rent a floor of Trump Tower.
Let's bring in our military, legal, and political experts. And, Ana Navarro to you first. I think a lot of people struggle with this idea of -- I guess, you know, taxpayer money should be used to protect the president. But we're talking about real estate instead of premium.
The president-elect is extremely wealthy. He's foregoing the salary. So, in this case, is it ethical for Donald Trump to profit from taxpayer money by renting out space?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it might be difficult to swallow but it is ethical. We have seen that the Secret Service rents out a cottage in Joe Biden's property. It just so happen that in this case, Donald Trump's property at home is a much more expensive real estate than Joe Biden's royal cottage in Delaware. Donald Trump lives in some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
The Secret Service is complying with what it's got to do, which is protect the President of the United States and his family, her family at every step at any costs. I do think that what makes it little unpalatable for a lot of people is to think this is falling on the shoulders of taxpayers, when Donald Trump, allegedly has not paid taxes in so very many years. That makes it a little cringe worthy.
KEILAR: Yes, I hear what you are saying there. Jeffrey Toobin what do you think?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's mostly a non-issue. I mean, this is a Secret Service matter. You know, its Donald Trump could give this -- could give this property to the Secret Service rent free. There's nothing stopping him from doing that. But I mean, I think compared to the other issues regarding his businesses, where he is overseas, negotiating, his family is negotiating with foreign companies, foreign banks, foreign governments at the same time he's President of the United States, this whole Secret Service issue is very small potatoes, one way or the other.
KEILAR: All right, Jim Acosta, I want to talk about appointments here, because of the most interesting one, of course, is whether Mitt Romney is going to get Secretary of State or not. We just heard congressman --
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not the Commerce Department? KEILAR: It's not -- that is not what is on everyone's mind. So the
question is, maybe Donald Trump can get past this animosity they've had, but you're listening to Donald Trump loyalists who took a lot of incoming throughout the campaign.
ACOSTA: That's right.
KEILAR: They are not on board with this. So how is that affecting things?
[17:35:00] ACOSTA: Well, I was talking to a republican source this morning and saying, you know, imagine if you are Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckabee, and you were one of Donald Trump's first supporters, and then, in walks in at the very last minute, Mitt Romney, and becomes Secretary of State. So you can just imagine why they're grumbling.
KEILAR: And he called him a phony, right?
ACOSTA: He called him a phony, a fraud and then some.
But listen, Donald Trump called people worse than that out on the campaign trail. He did way worse than anything that Mitt Romney said in that speech in Salt Lake City.
And I think it says a lot about Donald Trump potentially as to who he might be as President of the United States. If he can get over this, then obviously the people inside Trump world can. But they have a big problem with these "Never Trumpers." It is an issue that has not gone away.
KEILAR: Can I ask you, I want to get General Hertling in real quick before we go to break, because I'm fascinated by the other possibilities of Secretary of State because among them, you have you General John Kelly, General David Petraeus. And then you look, right now, the National Security Adviser is General Flynn. We all expected General Mattis who's going to get Defense Secretary. For a guy who said he knew more than the generals, that's a heck of a lot of generals in the mix there.
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST AND RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL: It's a lot, Brianna, and most military officers would tell you this is not a good thing, to have that many generals surrounding the president. Because the appearances are, it's almost like a coup.
But having said that, what I will tell you is I know John Petraeus; I worked for him in Iraq, exceedingly smart, intellectual. He knows the world. He has a great portfolio in terms of understanding how to do diplomacy.
And John Kelly, I worked with, we were -- he was in the western part of Iraq when I was in the northern part of Iraq. We conducted operations together. He went on to command Southern Command where that's almost the diplomatic post as being the commander down there. So, he has a great deal of savvy in terms of dealing with other nations and doing diplomacy. Most people say, "Hey, these are guys in uniform. They can't do
diplomatic missions." Oh, yes, you can. And that's because most people don't understand what three and four star generals do when they go in to other countries.
KEILAR: Yes. There almost like - and at times, they have such political skills, too, that's such a part of their repertoire as well.
OK. Jeffrey, you were going to make a point.
TOOBIN: Well, it's just that putting aside the personalities for a second, one of the key things we don't know about the Trump administration is, will it be neo-conservative like Rudy Guiliani, like the people who supported the invasion of Iraq, or will it be more isolationist as he sometimes talked during the campaign? Both of those forces are at work in the dispute. That's why Rand Paul is who is more on the isolationist wing is so opposed to Rudy Guiliani. It's not just about personalities. It's about what kind of administration this is going to be.
KEILAR: All right. You guys stick around with me. We have a lot more to talk about specifically fake news and the involvement of Russia in propagating this throughout the U.S. during the election. We've learned some new information. We'll be back with that in just a moment.
[17:40:00] KEILAR: And we are back now with our military, legal, and political experts.
Ana Navarro, I want to talk to you about this Washington Post report that says, Russian propaganda outlets played a role in amplifying some of these anti-Clinton fake news accounts throughout the election.
How much do you think and I know this is hard to gage, but I certainly heard from a lot of people who believed these accounts. How much do you think it influenced voters?
NAVARRO: That's a very hard answer to give. How much did it influence voters? Did it influence some voters? Absolutely.
We saw a lot of this fake news peddled around the internet over and over, particularly in the last few months of this election.
We also know because it's been reported that the Russians were probably the ones behind the hacking at the DNC. And I think that regardless of partisanship, every single American should be right now demanding that Congress, that our government, fully and thoroughly investigate what is going on with these Russians.
The fact that they are been able penetrate our election system, which is one of the most sacred bastions of American democracy, should have all of us, with our hair on fire and demanding action from Congress and every level of the U.S. government. And that is why it is so important that somebody like Mitt Romney,
should he be offered the job of Secretary of State, not lower himself to apologizing to anybody. He doesn't need to do that. But implicitly, if he takes the job of Secretary of State, he is going to be loyal to the President of the United States, his boss. We cannot have a Secretary of State who faces down our foes and talks to our allies, who have had to crawl on his underbelly in order to get the job.
So, if Mitt Romney is thinking of apologizing, I hope my friend, Anne Romney and his five kids tie him down. And if they need help, they know where to reach me.
KEILAR: I know you - and I know you are a fan of Mitt Romney having that job --
TOOBIN: Can I --?
KEILAR: Go on.
TOOBIN: Can I add just one point -
NAVARRO: I got to tell you, I'm very good friends with Mitt Romney, with John Kelly, and I know Rudy Guiliani quite well. They're very different people. I think each of them has a vocation of service. We should not be entering into these parlor games.
That inner circle of Trump's that is engaging in these parlor games against Romney is doing him no favor.
KEILAR: All right. And, Romney and those around him, hearing Ana Navarro loud and clear, though. Jeffrey, what were you going to say?
[17:44:59] TOOBIN: Well, I was just going to say that, you know, the Russian involvement in this election goes well beyond what Ana was talking about. What about WikiLeaks? And what about the -- you know, the everyday releasing some of John Podesta's e-mails? And what is the responsibility of us in the news media who reported that day after day without pointing out, day after day, that it was a Russian propaganda effort.
KEILAR: Yes. But I was we did point it out. But even then, it still is - I mean, I felt like we pointed out. But even then it's out there and you can't put that back in the bottle. And I wonder General Hertling when - and that's - and I agree with you on that point. But General Hertling, when -- for you, for someone who served your country for so many years, I wonder what your perspective is on this meddling?
HERTLING: Well, Russia is known for information ops, Brianna. They actually have a word for it. I hope I don't mispronounce it but its Moscowrovka. It's the deception operations that they continually conduct not only in their military affairs, but in their state affairs.
And as a military guy having served in Europe for a long part of my career, we expected that. And whenever I dealt with the Russians as a senior commander in Europe, we knew that was on their mind to try and push us in the direction that we didn't think they knew about.
So, you know, all of this is typical Russian activity to me and some of the things we brought up throughout the campaign while one of the candidates was saying how friendly they wanted to be with Russia.
You know, I'm going to Europe on Sunday, Brianna. And, the country I'm going to visit to talk to military and government officials are scared to death about what is going to happen with their capability once Mr. Trump takes office.
They have -- their president, President Poroshenko has talked to him. And he is concerned about which way we are going to support Ukraine against continued Russian incursions in the various part of Europe.
KEILAR: All right. I am out of town - out of time for this panel. I will -- Jeffrey, point very well taken. I think my point was, even if you do mention what it's from, you know, the information still out there, and it's a really good - it's a - it's a really good point that you made.
TOOBIN: It's a hard q - it's hard question that I hope we do some thinking about.
KEILAR: No, I agree with you. All right. Jeffrey Toobin, General Herlting, Ana Navarro, Jim Acosta, thank you so much to all of you.
And coming up, new questions about the astonishing number of lawsuits both underway and threatened hanging over the president-elect.
[17:50:00] KEILAR: New "BREAKING NEWS". The Trump transition team this afternoon named campaign Finance Attorney Don McGahn, a former head of the Federal Election Commission, to be White House Counsel. McGahn likely will have to deal with a pretty unique situation, the staggering number of legal cases involving Donald Trump and his businesses.
And CNN's Brian Todd has new details on this. You've been looking into this, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, tonight, we've got new insights into President-elect Trump's most controversial lawsuits and why he's been involved in so many of them.
It has to do with a bare knuckle bravado he picked up more than 40 years ago from a legendary legal brawler who told a young Donald Trump at the time, when in doubt, fight them in court.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT_ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I moved in her like a bitch --
TODD: The "Access Hollywood" tape and the barrage of accusations from nearly a dozen women of sexual misconduct didn't exactly humble Donald Trump.
TRUMP: The events never happened, never. All of these liars will be sued after the election.
TODD: Trump's also threatened to sue NBC for the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape. He's threatened to sue The New York Times for reporting two of the accuser's accounts and for publishing several pages of his 1995 tax return.
A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST: Donald Trump loves to sue and he has, and he loves to threaten to sue, because it scares people. Threatening to sue people and run up their legal bills is terrifying. That's a tactic he uses. "I can threaten to sue you, I have more lawyers than you do, you will lose."
TODD: According to an analysis by USA TODAY, at least 70 lawsuits involving the president-elect are still open. And overall, he's been involved in more than 4,000 lawsuits.
The General Counsel for the Trump Organization tells CNN, "Those numbers are grossly exaggerated. Nowhere near accurate." But Trump did just settle three class action suits over claims of fraud at Trump University for $25 million dollars.
Trump's bare knuckle legal philosophy goes back at least to the early 1970s. The Justice Department was suing Trump, his father, Fred, and their company for allegedly discriminating against minorities who wanted to rent apartments from them. Around that time, according to the book, "Trump Revealed," Donald Trump had a fateful first meeting with a New York legend.
MARC FISCHER, "TRUMP REVEALED" CO-AUTHOR: In a very down moment, Donald Trump went to a night club in Manhattan called, "La Club," where he happened to meet Roy Cone, who is famous for having defended Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the 1950s, in the communist hunting days.
TODD: From McCarthy to the mobsters he represented, Roy Cone was a battler. Cone's message to Trump in that night club conversation, tell the government to, "Go to hell."
FISCHER: In that very first meeting, Cone, laid out for him his philosophy on how to fight back in a lawsuit, how to fight back against the federal investigation, and that was to hit back 10 times harder.
TODD: If Trump sues the women who accused him, analysts say his legal claims are debatable; potential pitfalls, numerous.
RICHARD LEVICK, CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST: What about the depositions? It's one thing to sue. But then you have to defend. He's going to have to answer questions.
TODD: And it could lead to something politically dangerous for Donald Trump as his presidency leaves the gate. PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Bill Clinton, of course, got into
litigation with Paula Jones regarding things that happened when he was Governor of Arkansas. And that ultimately, as a result of statements that he made under oath, led to impeachment charges being brought against him. And that's a good example for Mr. Trump to look at.
TODD: Now, will President-elect Trump really follow through on his threat to sue nearly a dozen women who've accused him of sexual misconduct?
The General Counsel of the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, told me today, "The president-elect is focused on running the country, pursuing his political agenda, and removing distractions." So, Brianna, it looks like maybe like he'll back down from some of that.
KEILAR: Yeah, it sounds like a long way to say no, there. All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much.
Coming up, our breaking news, Donald Trump fills two key White House positions. But there's a sharp split within his inner circle over the job of Secretary of State.
Could a loyalty test keep Mitt Romney from joining the Trump administration?