Return to Transcripts main page


Clinton to Join Recount Effort Trump Calls "Scam"; Cuba Mourns Death of Former Leader; Trump Slammed Deal Thawing Relations with Cuba; Trump Meeting Potential Picks in New York Tomorrow; Syrian Regime Forces Enter Key Rebel Neighborhood; Elian Gonzalez: Fidel Was A Father To Me. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 27, 2016 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, aren't we lucky that you woke up early with us here. It's just now 7:00 on a Sunday morning and we are always grateful to have you on board. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: Grateful to have you, too. Thank you for waking up early.

SAVIDGE: Thank you.

Hillary Clinton's campaign is now saying it will join the Green Party candidate Jill Stein to recount the vote in three key swing states that contributed to Clinton's loss. Yes, the Clinton campaign says they're not contesting the results, but, rather, they just want to ensure that it's fair to all sides.

PAUL: President-elect Donald Trump, however, ripping the recount as a scam. Also responding overnight on Twitter saying, quote, "Democrats when they incorrectly thought they were going to win asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so much anymore," end quote.

SAVIDGE: This as the president-elect returns to Trump Tower in New York City later today. His team gearing up for another full week of meetings with potential candidates for his administration. And in the meantime, House Democrats still reeling from the election voting for their next minority leader this next week, Nancy Pelosi is being challenged by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan. Is she in danger of losing her seat?

SAVIDGE: All right. So, let's begin this morning with our Ryan Nobles, who is live from Palm Beach, near Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

Trump sounds like he isn't too happy about the upcoming recount. Can't blame him there. What more is he saying?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Martin and Christi, good morning from Palm Beach. And, you're right, Donald Trump not impressed at all by this effort by Dr. Jill Stein. He called it ridiculous in a statement yesterday and last night, a series of tweets tying it back to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Let me read for you one of those tweets from Trump last night. He said, quote, "The Green Party scam is to fill up their coiffeurs and is being joined by the badly defeated and demoralized Dems."

And Trump has been especially critical of the millions of dollars the Jill Stein has raised for this effort. She did online when she raised the possibility she would challenge the results in, specifically, Wisconsin. That money came in quickly, and she raised more than enough to at least begin the effort. And that raised questions even from Democrats about what she was going to do with all of this money.

Yesterday on CNN, Stein promised those who donated that the money would be used for the right reasons. Take a listen.


DR. JILL STEIN, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE: And for his information, this is actually all going into a dedicated and segregated account so that it can only be spent on the recount campaign.


NOBLES: Now, the Clinton campaign continues to maintain that their involvement in this effort is on the periphery. Mark Elias who's a campaign counsel for the Clinton campaign wrote a lengthy post on medium yesterday where he said that the campaign is taking steps just to make sure that they can rule in or out the possibility of any of the votes being manipulated.

He also made it clear that their analysis of the results did not conclude in any way that they believed something involved in this vote total was rigged. And it's important to point out that this is not a small number of votes that we're talking about here. Yes, if you look at them all in context, it's a relatively small percentage, but it's more than a hundred thousand votes between Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that would need to turn in Clinton's favor before you can even begin the conversation about the vote flipping back in her direction.

In many respects, this is about just protecting the integrity of the vote. That's why the Clinton campaign has said they are going to move forward in the effort -- Martin and Christi.

SAVIDGE: All right. Brian Nobles, thank you very much for that report.

PAUL: Well, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis with us, as well as CNN politics reporters Eugene Scott and Tom LoBianco.

Good morning, gentlemen. Thanks for being with us.

So, Errol, look, people want to know that their votes counted. They took the time to go to the polls in the mess that it always is on Election Day and the hours standing in line. As we can tell at this moment, is there -- are there enough questions? Are there enough suspicions to warrant a recount?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As far as I can tell, the answer to that would be no, Christi. I haven't seen any smoking gun evidence and none is being offered, in fact, by anybody that there is a specific problem that needs to be discovered and can best be discovered by a complete recount. It seems more like people who just can't quite accept the results of the overall election want to make sure that they really saw what they saw on election night, which is that three states that have not gone Republican since the 1980s did, in fact, support the Republican candidate. It seems hard to accept for a lot of people.

The Clinton team was certainly not expecting it. Even the Trump team wasn't necessarily expecting it. But that's what we've got and I guess, you know, if they want to raise money and spend that money to go through the count one more time, I'd be very, very surprised if anything of a material nature, changes by the end of the process.

[07:05:03] PAUL: As far as we can tell, the money has been raised. Jill Stein's Green Party, you know, called on the money, $2.5 million, $5 million has been raised. But, Eugene, the Green Party's done this before. Back in 2004, I fact, they teamed with the Libertarian Party questioning what happened in Ohio. The results there didn't change anything.

What is the motivation as far as you can tell of the green party here?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS RERPORTER: Well, critics and skeptics think the motivation is a desire for relevancy. This is the most attention that the Green Party has received perhaps within the last month and this election has raised -- risen and brought voters to the forefront who are very frustrated and disinterested in our two-party system. So, a lot of attention is being paid to alternatives.

But the question, of course, remains, what will come out of this? It's not really clear yet.

I will say also one thing that is interesting is while Dr. Stein has been very clear that the funds will support recount efforts, there's a statement made that excessive funds will be used to benefit the Green Party. What that means exactly remains to be seen.

PAUL: So, Tom, when we hear that, when there are questions about where that money might go, is this -- is this on the up and up, so to speak? I mean, is it transparent enough that the money that they're raising is specifically for this purpose? But what do they do with that money if there's some left over?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, we've got some mixed messages from the Green Party on this. Of course, we had Stein come on and say that it will be dedicated, but the original question of this, why it was going to be spent -- where it was going to be spent actually came out of the Wisconsin Green Party. George Martin had a press conference, the co-chair of the party there, I believe it was Friday, and he said that any excess money would be used to train local candidates and, you know, for the Green Party. And that's the question and that's where this is stemming from. You know, I think the politics of this are very interesting. There's been some question of why the Clinton campaign isn't being more active with this, why they're holding back, you know, because if they did run for it, they might look like sore losers if they did jump out in front.

But to your question to, what does the Green Party have to lose? The answer is nothing. The Green Party has nothing to lose from this and they have everything to win. I mean, you're firing up the base. You're getting people out there like, you know, if you do end up using that money for local candidates, which is a question, you're building a base of green party supporters so there's absolutely no reason for them not to do this.

It's an interesting balancing act the Democrats have to go through though. Do they hold on to this? Do they, you know, question legitimacy of outcomes or do they try to move forward? Do they look to their own in-house fighting?

PAUL: Well, as I said, they've said they're not contesting the results but they're just apparently sending some attorneys to keep an eye on exactly what's going to be happening through this process.

I want to get to Donald Trump, look ahead at what's happening tomorrow with him as he's going to have eight different meetings. Eugene, we're hearing new names from the transition source of people under consideration, particularly for secretary of state. We've got Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, of course, but General John Kelly, marine general and a former commander of Southern Command there. David Petraeus, Senator Bob Corker.

David Petraeus is an interesting name thrown into that mix, Errol. What do you think about that?

LOUIS: Yes, it's real interesting, Christi, because he's somebody who had acknowledged mishandling classified material. It's a little bit of a scam he's involved with somebody outside of his marriage. So, for him to sort of be under active consideration, Donald Trump used to mention him repeatedly on the campaign trail as somebody who had mishandled classified information but had severe consequences for his career in contrast to Hillary Clinton. It didn't put him in the greatest light but it made him seem as if he was getting sort of railroaded.

This goes so far beyond rehabilitation, but to actually elevate him, to make him the lead diplomat for the United States. I mean, this is, again, one of the key picks for the president. You know, there's State, there's Defense, there's Treasury, there's attorney general, and then there's kind of everything else.

So, these are like -- this is a big, big deal that Petraeus would even be considered.

PAUL: Eugene, what do you think his chances are, Petraeus? What are you hearing? SCOTT: Well, I think they're pretty significant. I mean, I think to

Errol's point, Petraeus is a name that Donald Trump often mentioned as getting an unfair, raw deal. And I would not be surprised if Donald Trump thinks this is some type of justice in terms of repayment for someone who was railroaded unfairly. But it is a pretty significant type of repayment and I think it would certainly go beyond making things right.

Corker is someone who came out in support of Donald Trump very often, very regularly in this very key state that he needed, as well as someone who went against Republican establishment trends pretty early on to support Trump, but I don't know if that will be the person that Trump will want to be the lead diplomat for the United States.

PAUL: All right. And, lastly, Tom, you know, Rudy Giuliani has been on several lists that we have seen for possible positions. Do you think he's going to land anywhere at this point?

LOBIANCO: You have to think he's going to find some -- to the extent he is okay accepting something that might not be secretary of state, might not be a top cabinet position. You have to assume he's going to get something. Trump has been paying off loyalists and Giuliani has been out there. He's been on our air numerous times taking incredibly tough questions. So, there has got to be something for him.

You know, to the question of why Petraeus, why Corker right now, this in-house fighting that we've seen between Romney and Giuliani kind of pops you out to this third pick. It's fascinating though to see, my God, Petraeus who inside Washington, the political pundit class who determined was politically dead, you know, just a few months ago, and now right back being considered for top diplomat. I mean, the shakeup, the overhaul inside Washington is stunning.

PAUL: It's never a dull moment. There's never a dull moment in the game, is there? You never know when everything is going to just turn around.

Errol Lewis, Eugene Scott, Tom LoBianco, we appreciate all three of you -- thank you.

LOBIANCO: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Cuba is observing nine days of mourning in the death of Fidel Castro. What's the mood of Cubans in Havana? We'll take you there live.

PAUL: Also, Donald Trump's tough talk on Cuba could mean for the U.S.-Cuban relations.


PAUL: The death of Fidel Castro seems to be finally sinking in to the people there in Cuba.

[07:15:05] SAVIDGE: No question. The country's going to observe nine days now of official mourning, flying their flags at half-staff, holding vigils and starting tomorrow, Cubans will have the opportunity to pay their respects before the ashes of their former leader.

PAUL: CNN's international diplomatic leader Nic Robertson live from Havana for us.

SAVIDGE: Nic, what's the mood like in Cuba? And what are the events scheduled for this period of morning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, there's no sense, Marty here, of the sort of jubilation you have seen in Little Havana, or in Miami, but what there is here is a more sort of somber, solemn mood. The tone is being set by the government. There are plenty of old archive video clips of Fidel Castro playing on the television here, flags are flying at half staff, public ceremonies have been curtailed.

The -- his ashes, he was cremated, we understand, early Saturday morning. His ashes will go on sale at the Jose Marti Revolution Square on Monday. On Tuesday evening, there will be a service there. Ashes will begin what is being -- what is seen as a sort of -- a procession retracing the roots, retracing the path that Fidel Castro took during his revolution. He took power first in January of 1959 and that would see his ashes travel all the way across the country, leaving Havana here on Wednesday, arriving in Santiago, Cuba, on Saturday, with a final funeral on the Sunday.

So, the people of this country will have plenty of opportunity to mourn him. We've certainly heard from leaders around the world with their comments.

President Obama, President-elect Donald Trump have both weighed in, a different tone you can hear in what they've said. President Obama said, and I will quote him here. He said, "At this time of Fidel Castro's passing, we extend a warm hand of friendship to the Cuban people. The Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America."

And Donald Trump, his comments went like this. "Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks the move away from the horrors endured for too long."

And there's certainly something in what the preside-elect said there that would be perhaps the silent hopes of many people here in Cuba now that things may begin to change for the better -- Marty.

SAVIDGE: Absolutely true. Nic Robertson reporting to us from Havana. Thank you.

PAUL: Of course, Castro's death elicited two different reactions from President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, as you just heard there. Trump's words have a lot of people wondering if it could be a sign that he's considering reversing the thawing of the U.S./Cuba relationship. Talk about it in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:21:24] PAUL: Well, I want to let you know that Donald Trump is up and tweeting this morning saying, "Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change." He, of course, is referring to a part of the conversation we are having this morning, this recount that's being prompted by the Green Party in Wisconsin. They're hoping to also have a recount in Pennsylvania and Michigan as well.

But, again, Donald Trump making his feelings known that he does not approve of this effort by the Green Party and now some in the Clinton camp. The Clinton camp who has now joined that effort -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Thanks, Christi.

With the death of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump, the thaw of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba suddenly could be in jeopardy. The signs can be found to the different reactions from President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

In a statement, President Obama neither criticized nor praised him, meaning Castro, emphasizing that, quote, "The Cuban people must know they have a friend and partner in the United States of America," unquote. While Trump called Castro a brutal dictator and posted on Twitter, quote, "Fidel Castro is dead!" There was an exclamation point with that.

I want to bring in Helen Aguirre Ferre. She is the director of Hispanic communications with the RNC and Trump supporter.

Thank you very much for joining us this morning.

I'm wondering, Ms. Ferre --


SAVIDGE: You're welcome.

I'm wondering, Mr. Trump has threatened at least prior to the election to undo the work done by President Obama to bring the U.S. and Cuba closer together. What kind of changes in this relationship could you foresee in a Trump administration?

FERRE: Well, there's no question that President-elect Trump sees and understands how complex the relationship is between the United States and Cuba. But at the same time, he also realizes that the Obama administration did not concede or get any concessions from the Cuban government when it opened diplomatic relations with Cuba.

And there are three points President-elect Trump is very clear on, that number one, political prisoners must be released from Cuba. Number two, American fugitives need to be returned to the United States for justice. And number three, that we do need to have political and religious freedom for all Cubans on the island of Cuba. And these are three basic points that I think everybody would agree

with are normal in a free and open and democratic society. And that is exactly what President-elect Trump wants for the people of Cuba, for them to be sovereign and for them to be able to have political and free elections on the island. And so, when you look at --

MARTIN: And those are very valid points. I'm wondering if the death of Fidel Castro, we all know, of course, Raul Castro, his brother is in power, do you think this poses an opportunity for Mr. Trump to sort of go back, revisit what he said before and now as president-elect take on this new challenge?

FERRE: Well, there's no question about it that when we look at this point in time and his statement acknowledges that while Fidel Castro has died, and he was a brutal dictator for 57 years, certainly the longest dictatorship in the western hemisphere, that nothing has changed as far as what goes on in the island of Cuba politically because Raul Castro is a totalitarian dictator. However, it does present a new opportunity perhaps and the dawn of a new day where perhaps there is an opportunity to move forward to help the island and the people of Cuba be able to move forward, to be able to live in the 21st century, in a country where human rights are respected for all.

[07:25:13] SAVIDGE: I'm wondering, you know, there is now a sense there is a lot of economic investment that may come from the United States to Cuba. Not just in tourism but also, we've also looked at the industries of agriculture, say. And with those companies, American companies, making those kind of investments, making this kind of plans, if Mr. Trump would suddenly pull back on this relationship, it would have a pretty negative impact on many American firms and many American outlooks towards Cuba.

FERRE: It's part of a complexity, Martin, of what's going on with United States relationship with Cuba, which President-elect Trump has acknowledged and is going to be looking at very closely.

But there also is something to be said about supporting human rights within 90 miles of U.S. shores and all that implies. It's not like we're doing business with the Cuban people. The United States is doing business with the Cuban military regime that has supported firing squads and quite frankly in the last few years that we've had diplomatic relations, has increased repression on the island, has increased the number of political detainees, even attacks women going to church such as the Ladies in White, closing down more churches than ever before. So, you see the repression increasing while the military gets richer.

So, what we need to do is provide a platform where we can have negotiation negotiations, better deal making as President-elect Trump has been very clear on, where the Cuban government doesn't just receive all the benefits from the United States but that the Cuban people receive something, that includes political, religious freedoms, once again the release of all religious freedoms -- political prisoners, and at the same time, American fugitives be brought to justice in the United States. SAVIDGE: I couldn't agree with you more. I think that we have to

leverage democracies so that we could be or bring in, for the benefit of the Cuban people. But my worry is perhaps the Trump administration could backtrack on what's already been done as far as opening -- an avenue opening a means of negotiation as you put it.

FERRE: But, Martin, look at what's been done. We're enriching the Cuban military. And it's not like it doesn't have a price on democracy in the rest of the hemisphere.

You see the Cuban government that is totally supporting the repression in Venezuela. You see that also occurring in other countries where the conversations have been politically manipulated to keep totalitarian regimes and dictatorships in power such as the case of Bolivia, such as the case of Nicaragua.

So, you see, it's not just isolated, though. What we're seeing in Cuba isn't isolated just to Cuba but it's something that festers and is infesting the western hemisphere. And we should be supportive of our neighbors. We should be good neighbors and we should be helping the people of Cuba, which is not to say that we can't be helping American businesses and American agriculture. But there does have to be a line that's crossed and American values have to be respected at home and abroad as well.

SAVIDGE: Right. And it does send a broader message not just to Cuba but to Central and South America as well.

Helen Aguirre Ferre, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

FERRE: Thank you for the invitation.

PAUL: And be sure to tune in for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper this morning. Kellyanne Conway, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, all on that show. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today, 9:00 a.m., right here on CNN.

Well, Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein want a recount in several states. Donald Trump, you just heard, firing back, reminding Democrats that they have promised to accept the election results. We'll talk about it. Stay close.


[07:32:18] PAUL: Well, good morning to you on a Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul:

SAVIDGE: Well, I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.

Donald Trump is headed back to New York today. He's got a very busy schedule ahead tomorrow. He's meeting eight potential administration picks, including Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County.

PAUL: He's also tweeting about the Green Party and Democrats teaming up to push for vote recounts in several states, "Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, ask that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore," he says.

Now, Hillary Clinton's team said they plan to join effort to push for recounts with Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Donald Trump calling Stein's plan ridiculous and a scam, and there are some people who certainly have something to say about it.

Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator, and Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic strategist who has supported Hillary Clinton.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.



PAUL: Good morning to you as well.

OK. So, Robert, does Donald Trump have a point here? And I want to read his latest tweet that he just tweeted a few minutes ago. He said this morning, "Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change."

So, no, he doesn't expect anything to change, but last hour, we had somebody saying, look, if t roles were reversed here and Donald Trump was doing this, oh, the criticism that would come to him. You say what to that?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think the facts show that's not the case.

Let's remember, this is Donald Trump's tweet you're reading this morning but, of course, when he was losing in the campaign, he was tweeting about the system being rigged, votes not being counted. Of course, when he was losing, he was also condemning the Electoral College as being a fraud or being a sham and not reflecting the American people. Now, of course, he's endorsed the Electoral College and he doesn't want, of course, the votes to be looked at.

To put this all in proper perspective, Hillary Clinton is not challenging this vote. And her camp has been very clear. They don't expect any vote to change. Jill Stein's petitioned the state of Wisconsin. She's raised the money for the recount. Wisconsin has announced they're having a recount.

PAUL: So, why would Hillary Clinton's camp get on board at that point? You're absolutely right. The money is coming from the donations and Hillary's camp did not push for this. Why would they jump on board now?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, the reality is, they want to just providing lawyers and legal counsel to make sure their interests are being protected. Donald Trump will do the same. So, the issue here simply is, while the recount's taking place, her campaign, legal team is doing what the Trump legal team will do just to make sure they're properly represented in this process and to make sure the audit and the review of the vote is accurate and reflects the will of the people. PAUL: Ben, do you think there's any concern about the fact that Green

Party Jill Stein was able to raise so much money in such a short amount of time?

[07:35:09] FERGUSON: I think it's kind of a fraud that she's committing here, acting as if somehow there's hope that this will somehow change the outcome of the election. I also think it's trying to bring their party into relevance here, which is sad that there are people that truly are giving their hard-earned dollars to her for a recount which is going to be meaningless.

I also think it's very misleading and sad that Hillary Clinton who said that we need to unite the country a stand behind President-elect Trump and give it a chance has not come out and denounced this and made it clear that her campaign is not going to be a part of this. But what they've done is they've said, okay, maybe we can raise some funds off this. I think Democrats will probably be able to raise some money off of this as well.

This is also doing something else, it's undermining the free and fair election that we just had by some people that are very sore losers, and they're going to try to raise money off of people being upset about the outcome of this election. I think that's a little bit of a modern day fraud we're watching where people are giving their money thinking it's for a good cause when in the reality, somebody is going to get paid off this and get rich. At the very minimum, it's the lawyers who are going to get very rich from the DNC and for those that are representing Ms. Stein.

PAUL: Robert, if nothing is found in this, do you think it will move forward to Pennsylvania and Michigan?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, it's a possibility that if Jill Stein files a petition and the state governments there accept her petition, those state governments can move forward with a recount.

And let me point out, I -- just a follow up on what Ben said, he and I agree a bit more, maybe it's the dawn of the holiday season, a bit more in this that he might appreciate. For example, I have no respect for Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party. In fact, if you look at their votes were the difference between electing Donald Trump and electing Hillary Clinton, were they not in the race, Hillary Clinton would have been elected president. So, that's the first point to remember.

Secondly, I think we've got a very valid question to ask about how Dr. Stein is going to be spending this money. But the point clearly is, it's not about Democrats challenging this process. It's about Democrats making sure, like the Trump campaign will make sure, their rights are protected in this process. That's why they're there.

FERGUSON: But here's the thing. The Trump campaign is not going to try to raise money off of this. You have the issue of undermining a free and fair election.

PAUL: We don't know that Hillary Clinton is trying to raise money off of, or the Dems are trying to raise money off of this either.

FERGUSON: What I'm saying is Democrats are -- the reason why they're jumping on board with this is they see an opportunity here. They see an opportunity to engage voters who might still be upset about the election and that turns into connecting with them, which turns into fundraising.

There's a reason why this is happening. And I think what Jill has proven is, if you can connect with people that are frustrated and tell them there's some sort of crazy hope that this election would -- the results would be changed, they will send you millions of dollars within hours.


PAUL: So, Ben, wait a minute. Are you saying the Dems are having Jill Stein do some sort of dirty work?

FERGUSON: No. I think what they're saying is, is Jill Stein gave them an opportunity to jump on board of this and be part of this. I think they said, hey, this is unbelievable how much money she is raising. This is unprecedented how much money she is raising this quickly for an election that is not going to be changed.

Even Hillary Clinton campaign said this campaign was correct.


PAUL: They have said they're not contesting the results. They're not contesting the results.

Robert, go ahead. I want you to respond.

ZIMMERMAN: If I may, Christi.

First of all, Ben, I think our democracy will not be threatened nor will this election be threatened by making sure every vote is fairly and accurately counted. That's really what's at stake in this recount. No one in the Clinton campaign has expressed any belief the results will change. I don't believe the results will change. It's simply a matter of Wisconsin -- if I may finish my point, it's simply a matter of Wisconsin following their state laws and state procedures. That's really what at issue here.

PAUL: Ben, real quickly and then I want to get to something else. Go ahead.

FERGUSON: Yes. I think, then why would you give credibility to Jill in this recount effort if you're admitting the same way the campaign admitted early on that this is meaningless? You're spending millions of dollars on something that's meaningless and raising millions of dollars off of something that's meaningless.

I don't think it's going to change the outcome of the election. I'm not concerned about that. I'm just concerned about these people that are actually sending in money that are being defrauded with false hope of something that will never happen.

PAUL: Is there -- Robert, is there any way to determine where that money goes if there's money left over after the Wisconsin recount?

ZIMMERMAN: I hope every donor makes that request and raises that very valid question because I have those same concerns. I mean, let's be clear, that Dr. Stein was so concerned about a Trump victory then she would not have pursued her candidacy which really just siphoned votes away from Hillary Clinton.

But the fact of the matter that we can't seem to avoid and, Ben, you have to recognize, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not contesting the results, they're simply both of them going to be at the table equally to make sure their party's interests are represented.

FERGUSON: And I understand that.


FERGUSON: Let me say this real quick.

PAUL: Go ahead, Ben.

FERGUSON: This is like someone stabbing their toe and starting a Go Fund Me page for medical expenses and tons of money pouring in.

[07:40:04] It is on that level in my opinion of a fraud. Yes, there is something here and to expand it the way they have is absurd. If someone did that on a Go Fund Me page, which is exactly in my opinion what Jill Stein has done here, it's the same exact thing.

PAUL: OK, I want to get to the Dems. They've got a big decision to make this week as they talk about who is going to be leading their party. Nancy Pelosi, of course, and she does have a challenger here.


PAUL: But there was an op-ed written in "The Washington Post" by Dana Milbank, who wrote, "The most compelling reason for Pelosi," and he cites too, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, to step aside is generational. He's basically saying they're too old to lead the party and to garner the younger vote that the Democrats missed this time around.

Is there credence in that, Robert, in that argument?

ZIMMERMAN: Actually. No, I think any argument based upon race or age or sex is really an irrelevant argument. I think it's very disrespectful to Nancy Pelosi's tenure. I speak -- amongst the members I speak to, she's in a strong position for re-election. Personally I hope she's re-elected.

She has really provided tough leadership, strong leadership at a long time. She's held the Democratic caucus together. I think the fact that obviously we didn't pick up as many seats as Democrats wanted to see picked up this year. Nancy Pelosi knows that better than anyone but, in fact, the infrastructure is correct. We've got to contest gerrymandering in districts, which is our biggest obstacles, to winning more democratic House seats. But in fact, I think she's in a strong position and I think she deserves re-election.

PAUL: Ben?

FERGUSON: Look, let me say this, I hope that they keep Nancy Pelosi because she's become so ineffective in Congress and has not been able to lead the Democratic Party. So, personally, I really hope she gets the jobs and keeps it. I hope that all of the establishment Democrats keep it because there is a big problem in the Democratic Party.

And for a party that claims they're accepting of everyone, to put an op-ed out there saying someone is too old to serve tells you a lot about how much Democrats really just care about winning and they're willing to throw anyone out of the way if they think that they might be losing. So, I beg the Democrats -- please, give us Nancy Pelosi for another two years. It will be great for the Republicans and our ideas moving forward through Congress.

PAUL: All right. Ben Ferguson --

ZIMMERMAN: Ben, be careful of what you wish for, because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million. So, that says --

FERGUSON: She's not the president.

PAUL: Oh, here we go. Ben Ferguson, Robert Zimmerman, we always are so grateful to have your voices included in the conversation. Thank you.

FERGUSON: Thank you.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

PAUL: Sure.

SAVIDGE: After years of rebel control, Syrian regime forces have entered and recaptured parts of a key district in eastern Aleppo. Next, what it can mean for the Syrian civil war.


[07:46:20] SAVIDGE: New information this hour. An Israeli airstrike has killed four ISIS militants in southwestern Syria. It happened after a firefighter crossed the border in the Golan Heights area.

PAUL: This comes as Syrian regime forces now entered and recaptured parts of the rebel stronghold in East Aleppo. This is the first time they've been able to make progress in an area held by the rebels for several years.

SAVIDGE: Joining us live from London, CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen.

Hello, Fred.


And, certainly, this is something that is very significant for the Syrian regime. It's the first time, as you've noted, that they've been able to get into those districts of Eastern Aleppo. Right now, Eastern Aleppo really is the main prize of Syria's civil war, both for the rebels and for the regime because it's the last urban stronghold that the Syrian rebels actually still hold. That's one of the reasons why it's been pounded by Syrian government war planes, why there's been such intense fighting. Many, many people have been killed over the past couple of days, 46 on Saturday alone.

So, a lot of fighting going on there. Right now, the U.N. estimates that around 250,000 people are under siege in those areas. About 100,000 of them kids. So, really, a very dire humanitarian situation there from what we're hearing. The supplies are running out very quickly. There haven't been any humanitarian convoys into that area over the past couple of months.

So, this is a really significant development for the Syrian regime. They've been fighting a very, very long time to make in roads into Eastern Aleppo. But again, devastating for the Syrian rebels who are trying to hold that terrain. There certainly is still going to be some very heavy, some very intense and brutal combat fighting going on there as well.

Those areas have been close to there are very, very densely populated, very difficult to make any territorial gains there, Martin.

SAVIDGE: And in addition to the combat there, there was also the threat to civilians of starvation, right?

PLEITGEN: Yes. There certainly is. And it's something that the United Nations has been talking about at length. Over the past couple of days, there have been doctors inside that city and also U.N. officers in Damascus who have been saying they believe there's only about a few days of supplies left there for the people. So, you could see mass hunger, mass starvation over the past couple -- over the next couple of weeks, over the next couple of months if no supplies are allowed to go there.

Now, the U.N. has said it's been asking the Syrian government to run convoys in that area. So far, the Syrian government has always said that is not going to happen. So, certainly, a dire humanitarian situation, not just with food and water but also with medical supplies as well because, of course, Martin, you have people who are wounded there, you have people with illnesses there. They're not getting any sort of significant treatment so really, really devastating situation for the civilians that are still trapped there in East Aleppo.

SAVIDGE: In the past, there have been instances of temporary cease- fire. Is there any possibility of that?

PLEITGEN: Right now, it doesn't seem as though it's in the cards. You know, what we've had over the past weeks is that the Russians have said they've halted their airstrikes on Eastern Aleppo. There's a humanitarian pause where the Russians and Syrian government have said they have put in place is humanitarian corridors. And what they expect is they want the civilians to leave Eastern Aleppo. They want the fighters to leave Eastern Aleppo and go to other parts of Syria that are held by the opposition, and then they want to take over Eastern Aleppo.

So far, when those humanitarian pauses have been in place, that didn't happen. Quite frankly, people who live in eastern Aleppo don't trust the Syrian government. They believe they'll be captured when they come out. They believe they might be killed when they come out.

So, you're right, there have been humanitarian pauses in the past couple of years, but it doesn't seem as though anything like the cards any time soon or could happen again any time soon. So, right now, it really is a bleak outlook for the folks who are still trapped in side.

[07:50:00] SAVIDGE: Yes, very grim. Fred Pleitgen, thank you for the report.

PAUL: Well, crowds in Miami you saw cheering the death of Fidel Castro in Miami, 230 miles away in Havana, there are tears, from Elian Gonzalez. I know you remember that little boy, the subject of the international custody dispute -- well, that was 16 years ago. We'll tell you what's happening there now.


[07:53:59] PAUL: Well, it is quiet in Havana this morning as Cuba is in the first 26 hours now of its nine days of mourning for the death of former leader Fidel Castro. One of the mourners on Cuban TV is Elian Gonzalez. I know you remember him from that international custody dispute 16 years ago. Months after he was taken to Miami as a boy, he was returned to his father in Cuba and at that point became close to Fidel Castro.

From Miami with us now, CNN correspondent Boris Sanchez.

Boris, I will never forget that picture of Elian as he was being taken away and you can see the urgency in the picture and the crying of the relatives and how fearful he was at that moment when he was taken away in the middle of the night. Where is he now?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. He's actually in Cuba and he's an outspoken supporter of Fidel Castro. That story in itself encapsulates the polarity between the two communities here, the stark contrast between the nine days of mourning for Fidel Castro in Cuba and celebration that there's been here in Miami the last few days.

(07:55:04] In Cuba, he's seen as someone who stood up to imperialism of the United States, someone who reformed education and health care and made a tiny island of the Caribbean of only 11 million people a world player and a power player in international relations. Fidel is seen as a towering fire around the word for small countries, for countries that are seen as second or third world.

The interesting thing about this is how personal Elian was speaking about Fidel. Here's some sound from him.


ELIAN GONZELEZ, SUBJECT OF INTERNATIONAL CUSTODY BATTLE (through translator): He is a father who, like my father, I wanted to show him everything I achieved. That he would be proud of me. That's how it was with Fidel. If I learned something and wanted to show him, and there are still many things I want to show him.


SANCHEZ: And then, of course, you hear that and you see the celebration here yesterday and it's hard to believe they are reacting to the same person. Here in Miami, of course, the community here feels very differently about Fidel. They see those reforms as empty promise a so many people I know and people in my own family risked everything to leave the system that he created.

You have to imagine that a lot of people were waiting generations for the moment that Fidel passed on, hoping that this would mean a new chapter for Cuba. Speaking to my parents, they were telling me that, you know, not only was this a moment they have been waiting for, for a long time, it's also something that they hope will now spur change on the island, Christi.

PAUL: Boris Sanchez -- and, thank you so much, Boris. I want to point out for you sharing your personal stories about this as well. We really appreciate you kind of letting us into those moments.

And we want to thank you as well for starting your morning with us.

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