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9 Dead, 25 Missing After Warehouse Fire During Party; Officials Held Press Conference on Fire; Fire Expert Discusses Fire; China Files Formal Complaint over Trump/Taiwan President Call; Trump to Tap James "Mad Dog" Mattis as Defense Secretary; Officer Went "Beyond Call of Duty" in San Bernardino. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 3, 2016 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:01] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We begin this hour with breaking news. Nine people confirmed dead, 25 others still missing after a fire swept through a crowded late-night party last night in Oakland, California. Officials say they are preparing for a worst-case scenario, possibly as many as 40 people dead in this two-story warehouse. Firefighters at this hour still able to search the entire building because it's too hot and too dangerous. The fire broke out around 11:30 local time last night.

Fire officials just wrapped up a press conference with the latest details. Let's show you that now. Here is Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.


SGT. RAY KELLY, SPOKESMAN, ALAMEDA COUNTY SHEIFF'S DEPARTMENT: -- the recovery and identification process inside the building. The billing is very tricky to work. We have water that's still coming down on top of our people. There are beams and all sorts of wreckage and debris. This is not an easy task by any means. We're asking people, if you have no business at the family assistant center, please don't go there. Respect the privacy of those families for now.

We will be doing the briefings here. As we move forward, you will be hearing from city officials in regards to this.

At this point, we're in a recovery and identification process. As we move forward, we'll be able to answer those questions. But there's a lot of unanswered questions right now. Just be patient with us. The most important thing is assisting these families and keeping out first responders inside the building safe?


KELLY: We have nine confirmed victims. We believe there are more victims but we're not going to get into the numbers game at this point. We do have numerous reports of missing persons, unaccounted for persons by family members. Some of these folks are not from within the United States, they're visitors. A lot of the people that are victims here are young people. When I say young people, people in their 20s to 30s. So, they have families outside the area we are talking to and dealing with. So, we are doing and orchestrating and coordinating all of that through our family assistance center.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How deep have people been able to make it within the building. (INADUBLE)

KELLY: It's just a task to get through the front door with all the debris and wreckage that's there. We're slowly making our way in. And we have to go systematically because any misstep on the part of our people could mean they get injured or fall through the floor or have something fall on top of them. So.


KELLY: Those were visual identifications by fire and by first responders that were on the scene, able to identify nine deceased people.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you walk us through the process now, now that you're in building? And also, what agencies are involved?

KELLY: There will be an arson investigation. There will an Arson Task Force that will look into this. That will be a group of specialists and individuals who are from of local, state, and federal agencies. I would imagine every resource available to the city of Oakland will be available to them. I'm talking high-level crime lab assistance and crime lab reconstruction. That will all take place in the coming days. We will be at this crime scene for days to come as we move forward and try to make out any sense of what happened here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So is arson something that's suspected or --


KELLY: No, no.


KELLY: There is no reason yet to suspect arson. However, you have to work these investigations as the worst-case scenario and then downgrade from there. So, you bring in all your arson experts and you narrow it down to was this an electrical issue, was this some type of other pyrotechnic that lit a fire? Were there fires burning within there? Something as simple as a cigarette can cause a fire that could lead to something like this. Those are all things that need to be worked out by the experts. The investigation will hopefully reveal those details.



KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORT: The debris that you were mentioning and the difficult and --- (INAUDIBLE) --- be contributed to this hypothetical --- (INAUDIBLE)

[15:05:10] KELLY: You know, we're not experts in that. Look, the investigation will hopefully reveal those details. But any time you have a collapse of a structure, the fire, smoke, that can be deadly to people inside of a building. We know that when there is smoke and a lot of fire and people can lose direction inside a location, and that leads to events like this. We are not going to sit here and speculate on how each victim may have died. This is a tragedy. There's no easy answers right now.


KELLY: Go ahead.


JOHNNA WATSON, SPOKEWOMAN, OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'll go ahead and answer that question.

Right now, the Oakland Police Department is focused on your questions. There are a lot of questions that are being asked and a lot of answers that we're trying to find. What is the history of the building, the occupancy of the building, if there are any codes or violations? All of those things we are looking into and our city leaders will be talking about that later. We're not going to find all those answers out right now. We are very much focused on identifying those who are still missing, locating those who have suffered loss inside, who are deceased. Currently we are looking at bringing closure to the families. And all of those questions about permits, about calls to the location, all of those were -- we have already started the investigation and we are looking into it. But right now, we are going to be very focused on the recovery, working all of our agencies together, working as a city team, a city approach to finding answers. They may not come today or within the next couple hours, but we will certainly find answers.

UNIDENIFIED REPORTER: Have you been able to talk to any party-goers. Have they described what the situation is like and how some of them escaped?

WATSON: what we can share with you is we have talked to folks who have come out, individuals who were at this location. They either left prior to the fire or were able to get out. That is a joint investigation that all of us will be looking into, from the Oakland Fire Department to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, Oakland Police Department, ATF. We will all be working together for that information. We won't go into any details. This is an investigation.

(CROSSTALK) WATSON: And at this time, at this time, I want to share with you, it is not deemed a crime scene. I want to make that perfectly clear. It is not deemed a crime scene. Sergeant Kelly stated it earlier, we are all working with our teams in case this investigation takes a different turn. If it takes a different turn where it's deemed to be a crime scene, then we have our personnel here working side by side with investigators as we move through this process.

What I would like to do -- I know you have a lot of questions. We understand that. We want to find answers for you. We will share that we are going to have a city press conference, including the mayor, the city administrator, the fire chief, other leaders of the city. We'll make that announcement.

Right now, we would like to return to the scene to see if there is any additional information that we could share with you. This will conclude this portion of our update.

KELLY: I just want to add -- I want to add one thing. Our local hospitals have been getting a lot of phone calls, and it's bombarding their system. We didn't have a lot of people go to the hospital. It appears people either made it out or they didn't make it out. There are not a lot of other injuries that have been reported to us at this time.

So, I would direct all those calls not to the hospitals but to the family assistance number, 510-382-3000. So, if you could ---


KELLY: 510-382-3000. We have personnel answering those calls. We would ask that you not tie up the phone lines at the hospitals in case we need them for other events going on.



HARLOW: Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

Let's bring in our Dan Simon who is on the scene in Oakland.

Dan, I know you have been speaking to a number of witnesses, people that saw it taking place. What did they see in what did they hear?

[15:04:] DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a horrific situation. There was party going on. The flames broke out at 11:30 at night. The way that building is configured, it sounds like folks had a very difficult time getting out of the building. There are reports that some people jumped out of a second-floor window.

At this point, crews don't know what caused this fire. Right now, they are basically in the assessing mode and trying to recover the bodies. You can see this tent up behind me and these side walls, that's to prevent the bodies from public view. The crew have a very grim task ahead -- Poppy?

[15:10:23] HARLOW: Dan, we'll take a look at what you are referring to now as we continue to talk. We are learning that, according to property records on this building in Oakland, that the Planning and Building's Department website shows that there were several, what are violations, illegal interior building structure issues as recently as last month. Is that material in this? Do we know, at this point in time, if that is significant in this blaze?

SIMON: We really don't know, Poppy. We know that this warehouse was an artist collective. It had studios. Apparently, some people lived there as well, which isn't surprising given the high rent you see in the bay area. Sometimes people used buildings for which they weren't intended. That can result in a code violation. Whether or not that had an impact in terms of what happened here tonight or last night, rather, we don't know. We can tell you that, according to fire crews, the building was very cluttered inside. They had a difficult time gaining entry, at least right inside the building, even a few feet. They had all types of supplies and mannequins and things these artists worked on. In terms of the overall investigation, with respect to these code violations, that's something they will have to look at closely.

HARLOW: Dan Simon, reporting live in Oakland. We'll get back to you in a moment. Dan, thank you very much.

On the phone with me is Al Poulin, the district fire chief in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has extensive experience battling blazes just like this one in Oakland.

Chief, thank you for being with me.

Walk our viewers through what these firefighters are going through right now in the hours after this horrific blaze. We just heard the sergeant saying this is a very tricky building and situation, because of what Dan just explained, how cluttered it is. Also, the fact that he said his firefighters are having a hard time getting through the front door because of all the debris.

AL POULIN, DISTRICT FIRE CHIEF, MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE (voice- over): First, a tragic loss to all the families of the victims and also the firefighters. They have to suffer and endure the removal of the bodies and also try to make sense. Due to the overall occupancy of the building itself, what it was designed for and actually used for is two different stories here. From my understanding, it was a warehouse and converted into multi units, whether they are illegal or not, I can't say at this time. But also, due to the complexity to the layout and the location of the actual nightclub or the party that was going on, the occupancy of the people and the condition the people were in, the exits, were they blocked, were the hallways blocked? What is the geographical location of this compared to the surrounding areas? All these contributing factors affect the fire. Were the firefighters in a defensive mode? They were probably in an offensive mode for rescue. They tried to make entry the best they could due to the complexity of the layout of the building and also the debris or garbage or whatever else is in the building. (CROSSTALK)

POULILN: -- obstructing any type of entry for these firefighters.

HARLOW: Chief, let me ask you this. We understand this was a mixed- use building, part commercial, part possibly residential and/or these studios. Does that typically change the fire codes or, more importantly, the actual safety features in the building, meaning the amount of sprinkler systems that are needed, the amount of exits that are needed, what kind of signage to lead to exits? This was late at night. It would have been dark. We're talking about a residential building versus a commercial building.

POULIN: Yes. It depends on the occupancy defined by the local building department. It will define what type of occupancy will be permitted in that structure. It does allows for -- the sprinkler systems, the smoke detectors, the exits, all that contributes to the occupancy permit. So, the local jurisdiction, what will be allowed and what will not be allowed. Those are all contributing factors. What was there and what was not there and were they kept up or with violations where the fire occurred.

HARLOW: Wow. We are thinking about all the victims in this. We know of nine confirmed dead, possibly up to 40. And those brave men and women in rescue and recovery mode right now, the firefighters.

Chief, thank you very much.

District chief, Al Poulin, from Manchester, New Hampshire.

We will bring you more on this breaking news as soon as we have it.

We have a lot to get to this hour. Ahead, Donald Trump's phone call with the president of Taiwan raising eyebrows to say the least. What are the broader implications? And how is China responding?

[15:15:16] Also, General "Mad Dog" Mattis, Trump's pick for secretary of defense, well liked in the military community. Will his style clash with President Trump?

And later, young, in love and radicalized. A CNN exclusive interview with a young man now in prison after his brush with love and her connection to ISIS.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do you want me to start exactly?


HARLOW: How a pair of college sweethearts were recruited by ISIS. That is all ahead.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: President-elect Donald Trump yet to be sworn in, but by receiving one phone call, he could have upended years of diplomatic practice. In fact, he frankly did by having this phone conversation yesterday with the president of Taiwan for 10 minutes. While that might not seem like a big deal, this marks the first time a U.S. president or president-elect has officially spoken with a Taiwanese leader in nearly 40 years, since Washington adopted the so-called One China policy. It breaks from protocol could do more than ruffle a few feathers. China already warning that it could damage relationships with the United States diplomatically. Obviously, we have a lot of tied with China. Today, China filed a former complaint over this call.

Our correspondent, Ryan Nobles, joins me tonight outside of Trump Tower.

Ryan, just first, how is the Trump team responding? I know the president-elect has sent out a few tweets really downplaying this.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, the Trump team clearly feels that the reaction to this phone call between the president-elect and the president from Taiwan has been blown a bit out of proportion. The president-elect himself trying to tamp down some of the speculation as to how this call went down. He said that the president of Taiwan called him and that the purpose of the call was just to congratulate each other. They both recently having won elections.

There is certainly some concern in the foreign policy community in Washington that Trump could damage this very delicate relationship between China and the United States, and Taiwan's role in all of this. It has led to some criticism that perhaps this is an example of the president-elect's lack of experience when it comes to the geopolitics around the world, and especially in Asia.

Trump's adviser, Kellyanne Conway told Anderson Cooper that Trump knows exactly what he is doing.


[15:20:50] KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENOR TRUMP ADVISER: But again, I can't discuss anything beyond what has been publicly said. I won't do that. This is the president-elect, this will be his administration. He will be commander-in-chief and president of the United States imminently. He will disclose or not the full contents. He is well aware of what U.S. policy has been.


NOBLES: Obviously, there's been a lot of criticism of this phone call, not everyone in Washington thinks it was a bad idea. There are some that believe there should be more normalized relations between the United States and Taiwan, including Senator Tom Cotton, from Arkansas, who applauded the president-elect for being a part of this phone call -- Poppy?

HARLOW: Ryan, now we know China has officially responded. They've logged this formal complaint over the call, but what does that mean? Does that actually have teeth?

NOBLE: Obviously, this complaint was given be to the current White House, of which President Barack Obama is still in charge of. It was the Obama administration that responded. They made it clear, as it stands right now, the U.S. policy remains in effect to adhere to that One China policy.

But at the very least, this was a symbolic gesture by the Chinese government, almost sending a message to President-elect Trump that this is something the Chinese government takes very seriously.

Interestingly enough though, Poppy, China's foreign minister was asked about this phone call. He seemed to put a bit more of the blame on Taiwan than on Trump.

HARLOW: Right.

NOBLES: He said the Taiwanese government is up to some shenanigans, as he put it. And he feels that confident the U.S. will continue to adhere to this One China policy once the Trump administration takes over.

HARLOW: Interesting tact he's taking on this, certainly.

Ryan Nobles, outside of Trump Tower, thank you very much.

As President-elect Donald Trump downplays the call, Democrats warn about its possible implications. Senator Chris Murray, of Connecticut, tweeting last night, saying, "In foreign policy, consistency is a means, not an end. It is not sacred, thus, it's Trump's right to shift policy, alliances, strategy. What has happened is last 48 hours, though, is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy without any plan. That is how wars start."

Let's debate it. Jamie Metzl is with me, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former executive vice-president of the Asian Society. He also served on the National Security Council under President Clinton. And also with us, Gerrit van der Wees, a former editor of "Taiwan Communique" and a professor at George Mason University.

Nice to have you both with me.

Jamie, let me begin with you.

Who is right? If you look at Donald Trump who says, look, this was a phone call. He points out that under President Barack Obama, the U.S. sold almost $2 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan, is it significantly a big deal or is too much being made of this?

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL & FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE- PRESIDENT, ASIAN SOCIETY: It is a really big deal. There are differences of opinion on Taiwan. There may be some national debate that we could have with the people that really know this issue to talk about how we should position ourselves or shouldn't position ourselves in the relationship. It is very tricky between Taiwan, China and the United States. To do it in the equivalent of a drunken late-night booty call --


HARLOW: Oh, come on.


HARLOW: How are you making it --

METZL: Here's what I'm saying.


HARLOW: How are these two things analogous?

METZL: Here's why.

HARLOW: You heard Kellyanne Conway say, look, this was very planned out.

METZL: The question is, was it really planned out, given that President-elect Bush - pardon me -- President-elect Trump -- forgive me -- hadn't consulted with the State Department or the White House. I'm sure he had a small number of advisers. If this really is a policy shift, it seems we need to have some kind of process. The United States plays a very important role in this global security ecosystem. We make changes, particularly for something like this. We need to make sure we do it in a careful, deliberate way. Otherwise, it could be very dangerous.

HARLOW: So Trump's camp, Kellyanne Conway also said to Anderson he has access to all these briefing materials. He reads everything. He is the busiest guy on the planet. She would not go into whether or not he has been briefed by the State Department. Their reporting is they haven't been in touch with him.

Gerrit, what's your take? You say this phone call is significant but you see reaction to this is being alarmist. Why?

[15:25:01] GERRIT VAN DER WEES, FORMER EDITOR, TAIWAN COMMUNIQUE & PROFESSOR, AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: I believe that the matter is being blown out of proportion. It started out as a simple courtesy call by the president of Taiwan. The thing is that President-elect Trump is not bound by some of the conventions and restrictions that have been imposed on Taiwan policy. He is treating the president of Taiwan in the same way as other presidents in the world and, in a sense, that is good. But --

HARLOW: But, Gerrit, he is treating it very differently than past presidents have over the past four decades. And in the readout from Taiwan of this call, the president, she did say that they discussed national defense.

VAN DER WEES: Yes, indeed, because the region is an area where there is quite a bit tension, mainly caused by China's actions and its expansionist moves in the South China Sea and in the East China Sea and across the Taiwan Strait. So, it is very natural that the president of Taiwan would discuss with the president of the United States some of the security aspects there.

HARLOW: So, Jamie, I think it is important he brings up obviously the very tense situation having to do with the South China Sea. You not only have that, you have China as the biggest global trading partner of the United States, the biggest holder of U.S. national debt, 16 percent of global GDP. We need them for things like sanctions against Iran, et cetera. How much does this impact all of that, all of that handholding the United States, frankly, does with China?

METZL: Certainly, we need China. China is very important in the world and to the United States.

But it is also true -- I agree with what was just said. China has been very aggressive in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and in relation to Taiwan. It is entirely appropriate for a United States president to decide that we are going to take a more aggressive policy towards China. My point is, if we are going to do that, we need to make sure we do it in a careful, measured, strategic, thought-out way, not just a one-time response. Because this ecosystem is delicate, so inter-connected, there is a danger that if we are just acting - especially with a country like China that is extremely sensitive, there are going to be unintended consequences. If we want to be tougher on China, let's do it, but through a rational thought-out process.

HARLOW: Gerrit, to you, this isn't totally unprecedented. Perhaps the way in which it happened, as Jamie points out, is. We have seen incoming Republican administrations, like the Reagan administration, coming in and extending a hand more out to Taiwan than others. No?

VAN DER WEES: Yes, indeed. That was the case in the Reagan administration, in particular. The big difference is that Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and the people in Taiwan feel slighted by the fact that they are being isolated by the international community. So, therefore, they feel there should be a better future for Taiwan, a better role for Taiwan internationally.

I would suggest that that is also in the benefit of China, that China would benefit from more stable, long-term relations with Taiwan, and that it would be quite appropriate to move towards a normalization of relations with Taiwan for both the United States and China. That would lead to a long-term stability.

It was just mentioned that China is very sensitive to many of these things. China has not been sensitive to the concerns of its neighbors, both South China Sea, East China Sea. It has thrown its weight around. That does now have consequences in that the other countries around the South China Sea are pushing back. HARLOW: This opens a whole new bag of questions. What exactly does

the One China policy look like now under the incoming president, President-elect Trump? Will there be subsequent phone calls? What will be discussed. We will watch.

Jamie Metzl, Gerrit van der Wees, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Coming up, I will get back to the breaking news and speak with a freelance journalist that has visited thee warehouse of this tragic fire, this deadly fire in Oakland, California, and knows some of the people right now who are missing. Stay with us.

Also, his nicknames are "Mad Dog" and "Warrior Monk." What else do we know about the man who Donald Trump is tapping to be his secretary of defense? A deep dive on General James Mattis, next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[15:03:26] HARLOW: Back to our breaking news this hour, that deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, California. It happened when the building was packed with people last night attending a party. Nine people have been confirmed dead with nearly triple that number still unaccounted for. Firefighters still not able to enter the building and thoroughly search it because of the danger of heat and falling debris.

On the phone with me now is Sam Lefebrve. He is a journalist in the bay area. He covers art, music and culture.

You've been in this venue before and you know some of the people that were there last night. Are your friends safe?

SAM LEFEBRVE, JOURNALIST (voice-over): Well, I know that some of them are safe, because everyone is trying to let their friends know if there are. There are also a handful of people that no one is hearing from. So, we are really worried.

HARLOW: So people you know, Sam, are missing right now?

LEFEBRVE: Yeah. Good friends of mine, artists, musicians, people I've interviewed, people I've seen play, people very much a part of the local music community.

HARLOW: I'm so sorry, Sam.

You have been in this building. What can you tell us about it? From what I have read, there is only one stairwell that goes from the second floor, down. That's where a number of the victims were found, on the second floor. What can you tell us about the building?

LEFEBRVE: It's a live/work art space with a lot of old decorations and furniture. It is true there is only one stairwell between the first and second story. It was sort of an improvised stairwell. It was built by the people who live there. I can imagine that it wasn't built to withstand a fire or something like this.

[15:35:19] HARLOW: Do you know about the party last night? We are hearing somewhere upward of 100 at least that were there. Have you heard about this party? Do you know what the gathering was like? Was there live music? Obviously, everybody is looking for answers because they don't know what started the fire.

LEFEBRVE: Yeah. It was electronic music. So, it was a dance party. I think there were about six performers playing electronic music. As far as I knew, it was supposed to go really late. People were just starting to -- just continuing to arrive at about 11:00 when the fire had started.

HARLOW: We've also been told that the second floor may have actually been added, right? This is a big warehouse, that they may have actually added the second floor with the stairwell made of wooden pallets. Can you confirm that?

LEFEBRVE: I think pallets were part of what the stairwell was built out of. I think it was built by the residents and, like I said, it was short of makeshift and rickety. I don't know exactly what all the materials were but I think pallets were involved.

HARLOW: We heard from the fire chief and police commissioner saying, don't call the hospital because the hospital didn't get a lot of victims. They either found the nine deceased or they are looking for those up to 25 more unaccounted for. At this hour, what are you doing and what are your friends doing trying to find these people?

LEFEBRVE: Well, I know people have been calling me all night just to make sure that I was OK, because they weren't sure I was there. I think a lot of that is going on. I know a lot of people are just sort of congregating to kind of console one another while they wait for more information. I think people are really devastated. I can't remember another tragedy like this that impacted such a broad swath of the music community here.

HARLOW: That's what officials are saying, it has been quite a while. If it, indeed, a higher casualty count than known right now.

Sam, I'm so sorry. I really hope you find your friends. I really hope they are OK.

Thank you for joining us.


HARLOW: We'll be right back.


[13:40:56] HARLOW: President-elect Donald Trump's pick for defense secretary is General James Mattis. His nickname, "Mad Dog." A general who has led troops in Afghanistan, bringing them into Afghanistan's Kandahar Province back in 2001. He commanded a division of Marines during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. He retired as the chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013. While he was there at head of CENTCOM, he oversaw wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, responsible for the Middle East region. He is expected to be officially named for defense secretary on Monday.

Let's discuss with CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorkers; and also CNN Politics reporter, Tom LoBianco.

Thank you for being here.

Donald Trump, from what he, Tom, during the campaign about generals, he is surrounding himself with a lot of generals. By all accounts, General Mattis is very well-liked. Listen to what Donald Trump said while he was campaigning.


DOANLD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: You have already said you know more about ISIS than the generals.

TRUMP: Well, they'll probably be different generals, to be honest with you.


HARLOW: Given be that, Tom, how do you think statements like that will fly with someone like General Mattis? Do they look at it -- will he look at it as though that was the campaign and now this is governing.

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: It is interesting. The thing with Trump, and we have seen this with the tweets that he is still doing and our own -- inside the industry, our own wrestling with how we cover him. You have to watch the actions more than the words. This is one of the things where -- Trump was famous on the trail for saying his advice comes from the people he watches on the Sunday shows. Now, clearly, that's not the case here, because he is bringing them into the fold. We have proof in the pudding. Now, he is hawkish, at least, based on his comments. I feel like you almost have to watch who these people are, who is Jim Mattis, and pay more attention to who is being brought into the fold.

HARLOW: It is interesting, because he said, Ryan, that Mattis is the closest thing we have to General Patton and all his glory in world war ii. Another tough general. But what I found really interesting, if you look at some of the most controversial things having to do with the military, such as waterboarding or torture, Trump talked about, Ryan, where Mattis came to him when they met a few weeks ago, and said, actually, "I've never found waterboarding to be useful. Give me a pack of cigarettes, a couple of beers and I do better with that than torture." Trump said he was impressed by that answer. How do you think Mattis will shape Trump? RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That was a great answer. That

shows a big open question about Trump. Does he listen to the people around him? Does he listen to the best people around him? The fact that Donald Trump went into that meeting with reporters at "The New York Times" and asked about his long-held campaign position that he wants to bring back torture, which, by the way, is illegal. You can't bring it back without Congress changing the law. He basically said, you know what, General Mattis told me it doesn't work. He didn't actually say that's the end of the story. He at least hinted that maybe I was wrong about that.

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: So trump has always been somewhat flexible. The big story for us to pay attention to is how many of his hard, hard-edged campaign promises were just theater, were just vote-getting things and how many are core convictions.

A colleague of mine at "The New Yorker," Steve Call (ph), spent a lot of time with Mattis, flying around the Middle East. He wrote a piece at He was highly impressed with Mattis. One of the things that Mattis cares a lot about is Iran and the Middle East. That will be something to pay special attention to.

HARLOW: I was actually going to bring that up. Back at the Aspen Security Forum a few years ago, in 2013, Mattis was asked about Iran. Specifically, he was asked about his biggest concern when he was the head of Central Command. He said, Tom, Iran, Iran, Iran. Assuming that is still one of his core concerns and he has been critical of the nuclear deal, how will he shape Trump on that, because Donald Trump and his team have walked back their threats to totally un-do the Iran deal since he was elected?

[15:45:38] LOBIANCO: That is the question. How hawkish will he be based on what he has been saying? The question there is, what will they actually do when Congress is back in? When this is an option. They are not talking about it right now. We hear things about Obamacare and t reform. We haven't heard about Iran. How much can one of those top advisers push him? It is clear, as we've been talking about, he trusts these people. He is bringing in some big names, big hawks, people that have big personalities. That has yet to be seen. Will he put them back on track of shredding the Iran nuclear deal as they were saying?

HARLOW: Right.

Ryan, I want you to weigh in on just one other thing. Given what has transpired in the last 24 hours with this phone call between the president-elect and Taiwan's president, how much does this change the secretary of state search? If you look at what the State Department thinks about this probably right now, not being consulted on it or not directly advising Trump on it, and if you look at Mitt Romney, if you look at Mayor Giuliani as potential secretary of state nominees, how does this change the game?

LIZZA: It is important for someone who is inexperienced, going into a job where they don't have a long resume that prepares them, no matter what that job is, to have a team around him that won't make mistakes like this. My reading of what happened with Taiwan, they may have played Donald Trump. The Taiwanese president figured that they could get to Trump and talk to Trump and Trump would be OK with that. Even though I'm sure she knew that this would be upsetting to the Chinese leadership. So, if he were properly staffed, it might not have happened.

Some Republicans who are a little bit more hawkish on Taiwan and want to support Taiwan more vis-a-vis China are now saying, well, this is actually great, why shouldn't he be talking to the Taiwanese leader?

I don't think that's what happened. I think he took the call without knowing the diplomatic niceties. That can be very dangerous. He needs an experienced secretary of state.

HARLOW: His team, Kellyanne Conway saying, that is not the case. He was fully briefed. You decide.

LIZZA: Diplomate, yeah.

HARLOW: Ryan Lizza, thank you.

Tom LoBianco, we appreciate it.

It was supposed to be a holiday gathering among co-workers. It turned out to be one of the most tragic events in our country's history. A year after the horror, we look back at the man who helped stop the two San Bernardino terrorists. You will not want to miss this.


[15:52:02] HARLOW: Emotions were high yesterday at a memorial service marking one year since the deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. A bell tolled 14 times for the victims as people bowed their heads in silence.

Our Kyung Lah has the harrowing story of the lead officer who hunted down the husband and wife shooting suspects, the terrorists. This officer went "Beyond the Call of Duty."




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You can see officers with long guns.

SGT. ANDY CAPPS, REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA, POLICE DPEPARTMENT: I saw the muzzle flashes and I thought, "They're shooting at me."

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four hours after the terror attack in San Bernardino, Redlands police sergeant, Andy Capps, was the lead patrol car in the shootout with the attackers. Sergeant Capps had spent most of his day chasing down false leads until an undercover officer waved down Capps' marked car to pursue the black SUV.

CAPPS: I was able to get in behind them. I saw them putting on what I believed to be bullet-proof vests.


CAPPS: They started shooting. The back window of their vehicle shattered.

LAH: Capps' SUV feet away from ISIS sympathizers, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.

CAPPS: I grabbed that rifle, I went and scrambled from the door to the back of the car.

LAH: Sergeant Capps crouched at the corner of his SUV as other officers.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: We have officers running here, back east now, chasing, now on foot.

LAH: 24 years a cop, Capps had never shot his weapon on the job before.

LAH (on camera): No fear?

CAPPS: No fear.

LAH (voice-over): Even as Farook got out of his SUV firing?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPODNENT: This was a very, very graphic shootout here.

CAPPS: During this fight, I heard, off to my left, somebody yell an officer is down, officer down!

LAH: San Bernardino police officer, Nicholas Kawahoo (ph), took a bullet to the leg.

CAPPS: I've seen footage from the helicopters of the officers running up to my vehicle with bullets flying by them, running up to get in and help. Unbelievable.

LAH: The two terrorists who had murdered 14 innocent people in San Bernardino died in the five-minute shootout. When it was over, Sergeant Capps realized no cop had died that day.

(on camera): Tell me about the text you got on your phone.

CAPPS: This is hard to talk about. Well, that's when I realized how badly that could have ended for me and my family, and then you make that leap, and for all these other people and their families.

LAH: Was the risk worth it, your personal risk?

CAPPS: Without a doubt. LAH: Would you do it again?

CAPPS: In a heartbeat. But hopefully, I won't have to.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Redlands, California


HARLOW: Pretty amazing officer.

Kyung, thank you so much for that.

Meantime, voting is under way for the "CNN Hero" of the year. Meet one of this year's top-10 finalists.






HARLOW: Obviously, I'm so sorry, that was the Spanish version.

Go to and you can see all of it there. You have the "CNN Hero" will be named very, very soon, coming up in about a week.

We have a lot ahead this hour. Let's get right to it.


[16:00:05:] HARLOW: Top of the hour, 4:00 p.m. eastern, 1:00 p.m. pacific. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.