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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Congressman Adam Schiff; Interview With Congressman Darrell Issa; North Carolina City on Edge; Charlotte On Edge, Carrier: Deal Reached with Trump to Keep 1,000 Jobs in U.S.; New Signs of North Korea Preps for Another Nuclear Test. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 30, 2016 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: lawful shooting. A top prosecutor says no charges are being filed against a police officer who used deadly force against a North Carolina man. Now a city that protested the killing is on edge tonight. We're monitoring the situation this hour.

Attacker's trail. We're learning that the assailant at Ohio State University took a surprising detour to the nation's capital just days before he ran over and stabbed his victims. Stand by for new details on his visit to D.C. and his terror connections.

The art of the deal. Donald Trump and Mitt Romney break bread and mend fences, with Romney now publicly praising the man he once called a fraud. Was it enough to earn Romney as job as Trump's top diplomat?

And un-daunted. There's new evidence that North Korea may be preparing for another nuclear test. Kim Jong-un thumbing his nose at new punishment by the U.N. and threatening America's security.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, we're following tensions in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, in connection with the police shooting of a man whose wife recorded their fatal confrontation. The district attorney announcing just hours ago that the officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott won't face charges.

The DA says the use of deadly force was justified after Scott repeatedly ignored orders to drop his gun. Tonight, businesses in downtown Charlotte are being urged to take precautions in case of protest or violence.

Also this hour, a law enforcement official tells CNN that the Ohio State University attacker traveled to Washington, D.C., during the week before the attack. We're told he used his credit card to buy a knife at a Home Depot in the area. Investigators are trying to determine exactly why he was in the nation's capital.

In the Trump transition, a new promise from the president-elect, as he faces mounting questions about possible conflicts of interest. Trump now says he will leave his businesses in total to focus on running the country. He says he will hold a news conference on December 15 to share details about the move.

Tonight, we're also getting a little more information about a new deal struck by the president-elect. The air conditioning company Carrier says the agreement will keep more than 1,000 jobs in the United States. Trump apparently making good on his campaign promise to take on Carrier and its plans to outsource to Mexico.

I will talk about the transition with a top House Republican and Trump ally Congressman Darrell Issa. He's standing by live, along with our correspondents, analysts and other guests as we bring you full coverage of the day's top stories.

First, let's go to CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He's in New York with more on the Trump transition.

As Trump promises to leave his businesses, Jim, he's also moving ahead with efforts to fill his Cabinet.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump is assembling a Cabinet of the wealthy and well connected and he's not finished yet, eying Mitt Romney for secretary of state. I'm told their dinner last night was a "net positive," but the president-elect is making some other moves that could counter some of these optics with a major announcement that he plans to make the presidency his full-time job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Under growing pressure to sever ties with his real estate empire, Donald Trump took to Twitter, not to start a new controversy, but to try to end one, announcing: "I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country."

That declaration comes just one week after he pointed out presidents are technically exempt from government conflict of interest laws.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: In theory, I don't have to do anything. But I would like to do something. I would like to try and formalize something, because I don't care about my business.

ACOSTA: Still, after pledging to defend the working class as a candidate, the president-elect is assembling the team that's a lot like himself, rich, tapping financier Steve Mnuchin to be treasury secretary, billionaire Wilbur Ross for Commerce, the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, Todd Ricketts, as deputy at that department, and another billionaire, Betsy DeVos, at Education.

Mnuchin, along with incoming White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, both worked at Goldman Sachs.

TRUMP: It's a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class.

[18:05:05]

ACOSTA: The same Wall Street powerhouse whose CEO was featured in Trump's closing campaign ad on the special interests harming American workers. Mnuchin is highlighting his past as a banker.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: Let me first say what I have really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years. And I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and mid-market companies.

ACOSTA: Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted out a statement slamming Mnuchin as the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis. "He spent two decades at Goldman Sachs helping the bank peddle the same kind of mortgage products that blew up the economy."

Trump is considering another well-known millionaire, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, for secretary of state. CNN observed the two men as they appeared to put their bitter pasts behind them.

QUESTION: Mr. President-elect, are we looking at the next secretary of state right here?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to see what happens.

ACOSTA: After once calling Trump a fraud, Romney was singing the president-elect's praises.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not easy winning. I know that myself. He did something I tried to do and was unsuccessful in accomplishing. He won the general election.

ACOSTA: Trump is now toasting one other victory, his deal to deep hundreds of jobs at a Carrier air condition factory in Indiana from fleeing to Mexico.

WILBUR ROSS, CHAIRMAN & CEO, W.L. ROSS & COMPANY: Well, it's a great present from the president. Here we have a trade victory before we even come into office.

ACOSTA: It was a promise delivered for Trump, who had threatened to punish the manufacturer as a candidate.

TRUMP: Carrier, congratulations. Enjoy your stay in Mexico. Every unit you make, 35 percent tax. Have a good time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, so far, the Trump transition team isn't sharing the details of the deal with Carrier, but the president-elect will get an up-close look at the Indiana factory he worked to save tomorrow.

Then it's off to Ohio for a fund-raiser and rally where he will thank Americans once again for making him the next president. Wolf, we haven't seen Donald Trump at one of those venues since the early morning hours of November 8. It's a venue he certainly likes a lot -- Wolf. BLITZER: It's part of what his transition is calling a thank you

tour, to thank the American people for electing him president of the United States. Jim Acosta, thanks to you as well.

Let's talk about all of this, Donald Trump and his transition, with the Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California, who himself was just reelected very, very narrowly. But it took about 20 days to get the final results.

But, Congratulations, Congressman, on being reelected.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, it feels good and it feels good to be, if you will, reelected in a Trump administration and a Trump-driven House and Senate.

But it also feels good to hear you leading up to this interview talking about these very unusual, but wise choices for various positions, and obviously the great care that's being taken to consider who should be the next secretary of state.

BLITZER: We're going to talk about that.

But let me ask you first about the Ohio State University attack. The president-elect tweeted in response to that attack, he tweeted this. He said: "ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country."

Do you agree that this was a vetting problem?

ISSA: Well, I think after the fact we can be pretty accurate that this is somebody who had past activity that should be called into question, and current activity that obviously looks like a terrorist attack, sponsored or at least in some way connected to ISIS.

So I think at the current time we can say this was a mistake. But what president-elect Trump said throughout the campaign is true, and that is we have not been able to accurately screen people, particularly from some of these countries of extreme interests, and we need to find a way to do it better.

So for Congress and for the president-elect, we're going to have to find ways to have tourists, temporary immigrants, and permanent immigrants screened much better, but reasonably quickly, to figure out who should be able to come here and who clearly should be on a no-fly and no-come-by list.

BLITZER: He came here with his mother as, what, a 15- or 16-year-old. The family was originally from Somali, moved to Pakistan, spent years there, but then a few years, two or three years ago, they came to the United States. It looks like he was self-radicalized online fairly recently. How do you catch that?

ISSA: Well, that's a great question, and, in a democracy, in a free country like ours, the right to privacy often clouds until after the fact the kinds of lead-ups this. But this is an area that Homeland Security under a Trump

administration is going to have to find better ways to monitor those organizations in and outside of the USA that are part of radicalizing people. They're known. They're findable, certainly findable by young mostly men. Why is it we're not able to figure out who is being victimized by them before this kind of tragedy happens?

[18:10:00]

BLITZER: As you know, during the campaign, earlier in the campaign, he called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigrants to the United States.

But that policy evolved into a ban on people coming to the United States from countries where there's a history of terrorism. That's a whole lot of countries, as you well know. Is that really the best solution to prevent this type of attack?

ISSA: Well, I think the evolving into proper screening is something that president-elect Trump is doing and he's doing it very quickly.

One of the few heads of state that he met with before being the president-elect was President Sisi of Egypt, and they had a long and candid conversation on Egypt's fight against terrorism. One can say Egypt is a country with a history of terrorism. It's also a country that is in the war on terror with us.

So I think you're seeing President Trump, very quickly, in a very full-time way, get up to speed. And, Wolf, I can't resist. The lead- in about his leaving his professional life behind and concentrating full-time on being the president of the United States, I think you're seeing him doing that very quickly.

He's carrying out a huge schedule on the transition side, so much so that he's actually ahead of where President Obama was eight years ago.

BLITZER: Yes, no, he's moving very quickly in filling his Cabinet and senior staff positions. I must agree with you on that.

As far as the Trump transition is concerned, we're told there's the final four candidates for secretary of state, probably retired General David Petraeus among the final four. Considering his handling of classified information, that he pled guilty to lying to the FBI, would you feel comfortable with General David Petraeus as secretary of state?

ISSA: You know, during my trips to theater, I met with David Petraeus and with General McChrystal.

These are unique and amazing officers. Did General Petraeus make a mistake that was certainly significant? Yes. But the specifics of his mistake I think have to be looked at if you're going to consider. His sharing of classified information was with somebody who was an academy graduate, a cleared personnel, not cleared for that information, but certainly not a risk. Did he say something that was untrue to cover that up? Yes. But I

think, Wolf, we have to consider that, around here, those of us who saw him in theater on our trips to the combat zone have never been more impressed with any officer. And so the idea that he's being considered is one that I think Republicans and Democrats, if they're honest, are going to tell you he certainly should be considered.

He is a uniquely qualified former military officer.

BLITZER: You know your critics, Congressman, will say you're being hypocritical, given what you said about Hillary Clinton's dealing with classified information.

And you heard the FBI director, James Comey, among others, saying what he did, General Petraeus, was worse than what she did.

ISSA: Well, you have got to remember, you know, we have had others lie to Congress. Certainly, I believe Hillary Clinton lied to Congress. I certainly believe that Clapper lied to Congress.

But having said that, what we have is an officer who lied to cover up an affair. It was wrong. Certainly shouldn't have done it. He's been punished considerably. I'm not saying he's the best choice or the first choice. What I'm saying is, his military career, his ability to see through the battlefield and to make a real difference in a war that was going badly before he came on the scene certainly causes him to be considered at a very high level.

And he's a trusted confidant of many people his post-military career. So I'm not making that decision. That is uniquely president-elect Trump's. But he's considering four candidates. Each of them has what some would say some flaws. But all of them have traveled, met with these foreign leaders, have a great deal of experience.

And I applaud the president-elect for doing the right thing, which is not closing any doors until after he's considered all the candidates.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney had some very kind words for Donald Trump after their dinner in New York last night. Would you support Mitt Romney as secretary of state?

ISSA: Well, it must have been a really good dinner.

The reality is, it's very hard to look past what Mitt Romney did post- president-elect Trump being the nominee of our party. But if president-elect Trump can do it, then I think the rest of us need to look at that and say that's his decision. The American people elected him to make these tough decisions.

I would hope that I could be as forgiving. But of course I would also hope that I could be as forgiving as Ronald Reagan was of H.W. Bush, who called his economic plan, a great one that worked, voodoo economics. So there's a history of great presidents looking beyond slights, and perhaps this is one of them.

BLITZER: Congressman Darrell Issa of California, thanks for joining us.

ISSA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we're getting new information on the Ohio State attacker's travel to Washington, D.C., just days before he started slashing people at Ohio State University.

[18:15:12]

I will ask the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee what he's learning.

And we will go live to Charlotte, North Carolina, bracing for possible protests after the DA's declaration that a controversial police shooting was in fact justified.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're learning new information about the student behind the attack at Ohio State University.

Sources are now telling CNN that he bought a knife in Washington, D.C., the week before his rampage.

Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is working the story for us.

[18:20:00]

Pamela, what are you hearing from your sources?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, sources tell us that the attacker, Abdul Artan, traveled to Washington, D.C., on Thanksgiving Day and then left the following day on November 25.

So, after the attack, investigators pulled his credit card records and discovered that he bought a knife at a Home Depot here in Washington, D.C., on the 25th, and then left and went back to Ohio after that, and, as we know, launched this attack at the Ohio State University on Monday.

What is puzzling to investigators is, first of all, what he was doing in Washington, D.C., who he might have been interacted with, and then why he went on to buy more knives at a Wal-Mart in Columbus, Ohio.

We have learned from officials that it appears he may have been radicalized fairly quickly. He was taking in ISIS propaganda, al Qaeda propaganda online and then launched this attack.

And so officials believe at this early point in the investigation that this was a flash-to-bang scenario where it all happened very quickly, with very little warning -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Pamela, thanks very much.

We're joined now by the top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You bet, Wolf. Good to with you.

BLITZER: I know you have been briefed on this individual, Abdul Razak Ali Artan. But do you know why he actually came to Washington, D.C., where his credit card records show he went to a Home Depot and bought this big knife?

SCHIFF: I don't.

And I think law enforcement is still trying to find out what took place in the days and indeed the hours leading up to this attack. It does appear that the period of radicalization may have been fairly quick, in the sense that he was a consumer of this online propaganda of Anwar al-Awlaki and perhaps others.

But there doesn't seem to have been much indication that he was going to act out in this violent way that would have tipped off law enforcement or potentially even his own family. This may be one of those attacks that regrettably just wasn't capable of being prevented, because there don't seem to be any outward signs of radicalization that we have seen as of yet.

BLITZER: It looks like the attacker at Ohio State University was, as you say, self-radicalized online, social media.

But in an interview back in August at Ohio State University, he said he was fearful to pray in public and was worried about being stereotyped as a Muslim.

Do you believe that may have played role in his radicalization?

SCHIFF: Well, I do think that there's a risk that when people feel alienated that they're more susceptible to this radical kind of propaganda, which is why it's so counterproductive for people to, for example, make promises about banning all Muslims or creating a Muslim registry.

This is the exact kind of thing that would tend to alienate a community, break down the bonds of interaction between law enforcement and the Muslim community, the free flow of information. We want people to be able to come forward to law enforcement if they're worried about someone being radicalized. We don't want anyone in America to feel isolated or alienated.

Indeed, a lot of the problems in Europe are because of the balkanization and the alienation of the Muslim community there. So this is a concern. And we have to make sure that our reaction to it doesn't aggravate the problem.

BLITZER: As you know, ISIS promotes this idea of a clash of civilizations, tries to radicalize people through by social media by arguing that Muslims aren't accepted in Western countries, as you point out. Did the president-elect play into that by pushing that temporary ban

on Muslims coming into the United States, the anti-refugee stance that he advocated on the campaign trail?

SCHIFF: Absolutely.

I think those kind of statements that don't discriminate between practitioners of one of the great faiths and people who would pervert that faith, like al Qaeda and ISIS, are really contributing to the problem. So, yes, those kind of statements made by the president- elect I think were deeply damaging.

You know, the statements General Flynn made about fear of all Muslims being rational, those kinds of things are deeply destructive. They play into the al Qaeda and ISIS narrative of a clash of civilizations. And we need to be very careful to avoid making the ideological problem bigger by playing into that kind of a narrative.

BLITZER: I just want to button this up.

This individual, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, you believe this was definitely a terror attack, that he was at a minimum inspired by terror organizations overseas, whether al Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Shabaab, or some other terror group? But is there any evidence you have seen it was more than that, that he was actually directed to do this?

SCHIFF: We haven't seen any evidence that he was directed or in contact with a foreign terrorist organization.

So, yes, I think this is absolutely a terrorist attack. I think it was the product of online radicalization. It's still obviously very early in the investigation. And we are now exploiting his electronics. We may learn a lot more.

[18:25:08]

It's always possible we will find something to alter that conclusion. I don't think we're going to be altering the conclusion it was a terror attack. But we may learn more about his motivations in the days and weeks to come.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the president-elect's transition. He's already appointed one general. You mentioned him, retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, as his national security adviser in the White House.

He's considering at least three more generals for his Cabinet, retired Generals David Petraeus, James Mattis, John Kelly. If the president- elect goes ahead and names these people to senior Cabinet positions, are you at all concerned this could compromise potentially what some critics are calling civilian control of the government?

SCHIFF: Well, I would be concerned that he could potentially create really an echo chamber with a very military and defense-oriented point of view surrounding him. That could lead him to certain foreign policy conclusions that the use

of military force is one of the only or the preferred tool in dealing with any kind of a crisis. So, yes, it would concern me if he populates his entire Cabinet or so many important people around him all with people recently out of uniform.

That being said, some of the people that he's been considering are very talented people, and they by all means shouldn't be excluded because of their military service. It's a tremendous asset.

But we do need to keep in mind this bedrock principle of civilian control of the military. And I think that the president would benefit by having multiple points of view, and not simply those that are predominantly military in nature.

BLITZER: Let me ask you what I asked Congressman Darrell Issa. Would you be OK with General David Petraeus being the secretary of state?

SCHIFF: Look, I think General Petraeus is enormously capable and I think one of the most brilliant military minds the country has produced.

It was a terrible loss to the country when we lost his service. I don't know how the president-elect grapples with all the vigorous attacks, though, he made on Secretary Clinton vis-a-vis the handling of classified information. I'm not sure how he can square that with the selection of General Petraeus, but that's an issue for the president-elect to figure out.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thanks very much for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we will have more on Donald Trump's turnaround on conflicts of interests, why he has decided to move completely away from his family business, will make an announcement on December 15.

Plus, Charlotte, North Carolina, is bracing for protests after prosecutors decide against charges in a deadly police shooting. We have details of the warnings that are going out to businesses tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Donald Trump tonight is responding to tough questions about conflicts of interest by promising to completely separate himself from his business empire.

[18:32:34] Let's talk about that and more with our political team.

Gloria Borger, we still don't know the details. We'll know more of the details December 15 at his news conference. But the president- elect is promising to present legal documents, he says, which will separate him completely from his business empire. Do you think this will be enough to put that entire controversy to rest?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we'll have to see what it is, Wolf. We can't prejudge it.

But what we do know is that it's very difficult for Donald Trump to say, "I'm going to put my business in a blind trust," or "I'm going to give it all to my children," because how do you separate the children's business from their father, particularly when it's real estate and his name is emblazoned across every building? How do you make sure that foreign leaders aren't doing things for the Trump Organization and the children, with the president of the United States?

Questions will be asked about substantive issues like reforming the tax code and how does that effect the real-estate industry, or economic legislation that affects interest rates that affect the real- estate industry.

So the question is: how can he separate himself? "The Wall Street Journal" says you just have to sell off. You have to just leave. You have to divest yourself. Other people are suggesting that perhaps he needs to hire kind of a mediator that makes sure that no ethical lines are breached between the family and the president.

BLITZER: It's a shift, Jackie Kucinich, because last week he seemed to be brushing off concerns about possible concerns of interest. Why do you think he changed his mind?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It seems that his lawyers probably told him to do this. You actually heard Michael Cohen say earlier this month that this is something that he might do. So I think at this point, he knows that the time is coming very close where he's going to become president, and these things are going to explode. And even -- even the appearance of impropriety will be -- will hamper Donald Trump in his first days in office. So they want to kind of get this off the table.

But to Gloria's point, this is a really tough thing that we're looking at. Some federal agencies, particularly somewhere like the GSA, which owns the post office -- is leasing the post office to Trump, who is then going to be the head of the federal government, this is an unprecedented situation.

And so I think that we're going to see a lot of these agencies sort of trying to find their footing as this goes on.

[18:35:07] BLITZER: Yes, Michael Cohen being his counsel for the Trump Organization for, what, the past ten years or so.

David Axelrod, how difficult will it be for Donald Trump to unwind his business relationships? You served in the White House. You had a business going into the White House. You know it's -- the potential conflicts of interest can be rather extensive.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In fairness, my business was like a tricycle compared to his 747. So -- but nonetheless, I had to sell -- I had two businesses. I had to sell them before I entered the White House, because I was advised that it would be too difficult, given the things that I would be involved in, to guard against conflicts of interest.

So that gives you a sense. If my -- if my businesses presented that problem, his present conflicts of interest everywhere. Jackie just referred to some of them. But, you know, Deutsche Bank, for example, the German bank, a major funder of the Trump Organization and its projects, has litigation going, has a case before the Justice Department over its misbehavior or alleged misbehavior during the financial crisis, reportedly as much as a $14 billion fine coming their way.

Is that going to be enforced by the next attorney general? And if it isn't, what questions will that raise?

The government of Bahrain has suddenly scheduled a reception at the Trump Hotel in Washington. Coincidence? Maybe. Unlikely.

The Trump Organization had a reception for foreign diplomats after the election, inviting them to use the hotel. All of these things present conflicts.

The only way, really, you can be sure of not having a conflict is to liquidate your holdings, put them in a real blind trust, and let someone manage that without your knowledge about what you -- what they are investing in.

BLITZER: Rebecca Berg, as you know, the president-elect previously promised to leave his adult children in charge of that business empire. It looks like that option, though, depending on how he defines it, is still very much on the table. Here's the question: Will he still face questions over conflicts of interest if his family is actually still running the Trump Organization?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right, Wolf, we'll still have to see the details, of course, of whatever arrangement they're working out here.

But certainly, if the children are involved in running this company, even if Trump completely removes himself, not only puts this in what he's called a blind trust, but just completely liquidates his share of the company, you're -- obviously it's his family. You're still going to have questions about whether he is working to try to enrich them.

Obviously, they've been close advisers, not only during the transition but during the campaign before that. And Jared Kushner, his son-in- law, also has his own real-estate business that we would be talking about and thinking about. And that's not even being discussed as part of this arrangement with the Trump Organization.

So I'm sure that this will not quiet those questions and concerns that people have. And you know, it's funny, because this is something that Donald Trump and Republicans during the campaign raised as a problem with the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary Clinton was working at the State Department. She completely removed herself from the Clinton Foundation and its operations. But Bill Clinton was still involved, so was Chelsea. And that was raised as a potential problem by Republicans and by Donald Trump, as well.

But the difference here was that that was not a profit-making enterprise. That was a non-profit organization. Donald Trump's company and Jared Kushner's company, as well, those are profit-making organizations. And so his children would still be turning a profit there.

BLITZER: Gloria, let's talk a little bit about Donald Trump, he had dinner last night in New York with Mitt Romney. Many of Trump's top aides have been calling on Romney to issue an apology to Trump, if you will, if he wants to be seriously considered to become the secretary of state.

Romney didn't apologize last night, but he was effusive in his praise of Donald Trump after the meeting. Do you think that's enough to satisfy his critics?

BORGER: I don't know. I think Romney ate a little crow last night at that dinner. And after the dinner, we saw what Romney was trying to do was play it forward and not look back smartly, on what he said during the campaign. And I don't know if it will -- I don't know if it will be enough.

I was told today by a member of the transition that Donald Trump thought it went very well and was very pleased with the dinner. But then they went out and said, "Look, we still have four finalists here."

So the question is whether that will be enough for Donald Trump and for some people in the campaign like Kellyanne Conway, or whether it won't.

You know, the question is, of course, that Romney would be more easily confirmable, for example, than perhaps General Petraeus, and I think we have to wait it out.

My Romney sources are going totally dark, Wolf. I will tell you that.

[18:40:10] Some of them are mad Romney has taken it this far. Others want him to get this job and believe that he's doing it for the right reasons. But nobody really knows at this point what Donald Trump's going to decide.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure we'll find out sooner rather than later.

All right, guys. Stick around. Just ahead, we're also getting reaction to the news out of North Carolina that a police officer involved in a controversial shooting death won't be charged.

And we're also getting new evidence right now that North Korea's Kim Jong-un may be gearing up for another brazen and dangerous nuclear test.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:45:23] BLITZER: Right now, we want to get an update on the situation in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city bracing for possible protests in that a police officer involved in a controversial shooting death won't be charged.

Brian Todd is in Charlotte for us tonight.

What's the latest, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a protest was scheduled to start here in front of the Charlotte police station right about now, but there's been a driving rainstorm for about an hour, and we've even had a tornado warning recently until about 7:00 p.m. Eastern. So, we're going to see what if any protests materialize here in front of the police station. It was a very dramatic day with the district attorney here, Andrew Murray, as he announced that the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September was a lawful shooting by Officer Brentley Vinson.

Here's what the D.A. had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MURRAY, MECKLENBURG COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Our determination is that at that time, his belief was reasonable that he was an imminent threat of death or the death of his fellow officers, and that's -- he was justified in shooting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, I asked the D.A. if at any point Keith Lamont Scott raised his gun and pointed it at the officers, and he has said, as far as the evidence he has seen is concerned, he did not do that. But the D.A. repeatedly said that the officers, especially Officer Brentley Vinson, felt they were under immediate threat from Keith Lamont Scott and that he did have a gun on him.

Today, an attorney for the Scott family, Justin Bamberg, actually did admit that Scott had a weapon on him, but he said, still, this killing was not justified. Here's what Mr. Bamberg had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN BAMBERG, SCOTT FAMILY ATTORNEY: I think it was safe to say that yes, he did have a gun on his person during the course of this. It's a matter of where that firearm was. And at the end of the day, whether he had a firearm in his hand or not, that's not the key question in terms of determining whether or not this guy should have lost his life. It's whether or not that officer should have pulled the trigger, and extinguished his life based on everything that occurred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: The Scott family says they are still going to pursue justice for Keith Lamont Scott. It is unclear whether they're going to file a civil lawsuit tonight, Wolf. I was told by a police official here that Officer Vinson is under

administrative duty. And they're going to conduct an internal investigation to insure that all policies were followed. So, his conduct tonight, Wolf, is still being investigated.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much. Brian Todd in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Let's talk a little more about this. Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is with us, and our senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes is with us as well.

Jeffrey, based on the description of events given by the district attorney this morning, do you agree with the decision to not bring charges against this police officer?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, certainly, the D.A. made a convincing case, but, you know, I am not in the position that the authorities are down there.

One thing I think the authorities did do well here is that they were open about the process. They disclosed a lot of evidence. They let the public see all the evidence or just about all the evidence that was available to them, and that sort of transparency I think leads to more credibility when the government makes a decision.

And here, when Mr. Scott had a gun, it unfortunately is really something that is pretty conclusive, even though in much of the country, including North Carolina, a lot of people carry a lot of guns a lot of the time.

BLITZER: Tom, the district attorney admitted that there was no evidence that Mr. Scott ever raised his gun or pointed the gun at a police officer. Is it still appropriate for an officer to use deadly force in that type of situation?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think in this case, Wolf, it was absolutely appropriate.

Now, when he exits the vehicle with the gun in his hand and it's an open carry state, at that moment, you could argue that it was not appropriate at that time to shoot him and use deadly force. However, once he gets out of the vehicle, keeps the gun in his hand, and is yelled at ten times, the officers shouting "drop the gun" and he fails to comply, and the gun is still in his hand, he is posing an imminent threat.

And I've heard the arguments about, well, the gun was pointed down, it wasn't pointed at the officer. I can tell you as a police firearm instructor, as an FBI instructor, as a SWAT member and commander, we teach in that situation, you are in imminent danger because the individual can raise that weapon and fire it in a fraction of a second before you can even react, even if you're pointing your weapon at him already.

[18:50:10] It's a very, very dangerous situation and the fact that this man does not comply with ten shouted orders to drop the gun indicates to those officers he is not intending to comply and he's continuing to pose a threat to those officers. And in fact, with each additional command to drop the gun, the threat level rises against those officers.

BLITZER: And the district attorney, Jeffrey, in deciding whether to file formal charges, they have to make a decision whether or not they can get a conviction before a jury. For example, that a jury would decide, yes, that police officer is guilty. In this particular case, I assume they just concluded that there is no way that a jury would have convicted.

TOOBIN: And I think that's right and I think Tom did a good job of outlining the evidence that led to the absence of filing charges. I mean, you know, there were ten commands to drop the gun. We heard them when we heard that video over and over again.

You know, we can certainly all agree it was a tragedy. But I can certainly understand the D.A.'s conclusion that it wasn't also a crime.

FUENTES: You know, one additional thing, Wolf, in these situations is, we keep seeing over and over witnesses on the street lying to the police, which is bad enough, and then lying to the media who arrive to cover the scene. And those lies lead to increased tension in the community, eventually possibly leading to the violence where the protest turned violent later on.

And I think that in these situations, the district attorney should consider prosecution of the individuals that lie during the official investigation and basically foment additional distrust of the police based on those lies.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: If I could add just one point?

BLITZER: Yes, very quickly.

TOOBIN: Quickly. You know, lying to the police is never acceptable. But it is also worth mentioning we almost never had any prosecutions of police officers until these cell phone videos started to surface. So I think, you know, lying is bad. But it is not that there weren't bad shootings before these videos existed. It's that the cops got a way with a lot of them.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to continue our analysis down the road. Thanks to both of you.

Just ahead, a powerful new warning about the grave threat from North Korea amid new evidence that Kim Jong-un may be ready for a new show of nuclear defiance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:57:01] BLITZER: Tonight, new signs that North Korea may be on the brink of another nuclear test, ignoring stern warnings from the west and tougher U.N. sanctions.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is joining us.

Jim, what are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, evidence of North Korea possibly being a very immediate threat, North Korea showing signs of preparing for another nuclear test. New satellite photo showing activity of what is known to be a North Korean nuclear test site activity that could be preparations for a test perhaps to welcome the incoming U.S. president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, the U.S. military finding new evidence North Korea could be preparing for another nuclear test. U.S. surveillance satellites capturing digging at a tunnel that is part of Pyongyang's underground nuclear test tight. A potential signal the North Koreans may use the site again, a U.S. defense official tells CNN.

The renewed activity comes as the United National Security Council voted unanimously to tighten sanctions against North Korea.

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: This resolution will slash by at least $800 million per year, the hard currency that the DPRK has to fund its prohibitive weapons programs.

SCIUTTO: The measures imposed five months after the regime carried out its fifth nuclear test, this despite already crippling sanctions. North Korea experts are skeptical the new measures will have significant effect.

VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: It will make it harder to develop their programs. But a little less cash in their pocket is not going to fundamentally change their objective which is to be a nuclear weapon state.

SCIUTTO: President Obama has now advised President-elect Trump on the grave threat to U.S. national security presented by a nuclear North Korea.

Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, issued a similar warning yet.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: North Korea represents a grave security threat. It shows tow proliferation of the deadly technology can allow small leaders, failed, cruel and criminal leaders to threaten and disrupt the world on a grand scale.

SCIUTTO: And now, new evidence of a growing crisis inside North Korea. A human rights advocate group released these satellite photos, highlighting North Korea's growing prison camp system, which is thought to confine up to 120,000 men, women and children. This image detailing one of the camp's perimeters and numerous guard checks.

BUSH: North Korea also presents the greatest sustained humanitarian challenge of our time. The whole country is a prison, run by a sadistic warden.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: A nuclear North Korea has been a nightmare scenario for multiple administrations of both parties. Now, it is effectively a reality. What Mr. Trump has not laid out is how he plans to deal with North Korea differently, Wolf, if at all, from Mr. Obama. Of course, a key is China. China has the most influence on North Korea but Donald Trump at least during the campaign has talked about a much more aggressive stance towards China as well.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us -- Jim, thanks very much.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.