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Terror In Turkey: Twin Bombings Kill At Least 38; Source: ExxonMobil CEO Likely Pick For Secretary Of State; U.S. Braces For Deep Freeze; SHOW

Aired December 11, 2016 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The explosions were so powerful that we could feel the ground shaking beneath our feet. The casualty account, we expect, will continue to grow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's looking more and more like President-elect Donald Trump is leaning toward ExxonMobil CEO, Rex Tillerson, as his secretary of state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have, obviously, concerns of reports of his relationship with Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, CNN'S "SMERCONISH": Why aren't we, as Americans, upset about the fact that a foreign hostile actor, apparently, put its thumb on the scale in our election and why doesn't Donald Trump want to get to the bottom of that?

SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I am outraged. I don't think any foreign entity, any foreign individual, any entity --

SMERCONISH: Well, why didn't you say that and why didn't Trump say it?

SPICER: I'm saying it, Michael --


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Sunday. So grateful to have your company and a lot to unpack for you this morning. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Let's get to politics in a moment because first I want to talk about what's happening in Turkey today. The country's prime minister declaring a day of mourning right now after twin bomb attacks in Istanbul killed at least 38 people, most of them were police officers.

BLACKWELL: We've got the moment captured on traffic camera. A car suddenly explodes, look at that. This is a busy street. You see the traffic there. The blast was felt and heard miles away.


PAUL: Those two people playing the guitar didn't realize an explosion had gone off behind them until the blast reached them. Elsewhere, there were journalists scrambling for cover when one of the explosions was heard on live TV.


BLACKWELL: Wow. Authorities tell CNN someone set off that car bomb remotely. This was around 11:00 p.m. local time after a huge soccer game at a popular arena. Less than a minute later, a suicide bomber detonated a second smaller explosion at a park nearby. The two scenes we know are less than a mile apart.


PAUL: More video here capturing the chaos. Afterwards police swarming that area, as paramedics loaded the wounded into ambulances. We know 155 are still in the hospital this morning.

Our Muhammad Lila is joining us live from Istanbul right now. Muhammad, thank you so much. I know the investigation is in the early stages, but are you getting any indication from officials there as to who they believe to be responsible?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christi. Officials here are not confirming but they are pointing the finger of blame at a group called the PKK that's the Kurdistan Workers Party. They've been waging a militancy and an urgency against the Turkish government and the Turkish people for three decades now.

Let me set the scene for where I am right now. You showed that very dramatic footage of that explosion, the car bomb. Well, I'm actually just standing a few feet away from where that explosion took place, that point of impact.

You will see people standing around. There's actually a makeshift memorial now and see behind me, you can see that large soccer stadium. This explosion, this car bomb explosion went off as the game had just finish and people were outside.

It was a wonderful Saturday evening in Istanbul, the weather great, the game had just finished, very, very crowded. You talk about the casualty numbers and the death toll. We know that 38 people killed. Of those 38, Christi, 30 of them were police officers.

And that's because when there's a soccer game here, there are a lot of police officers on the street. That's not uncommon. They were out in full force and unfortunately that made them a very visible and a very easy target. PAUL: And they were, indeed, targeted, is that safe to say?

LILA: Yes. So Turkish officials say that the target were specifically these police officers and it just so happens that it happened right after the end of a soccer game. So there were civilians there as well.

Of the eight people who are not police officers, seven are confirmed civilians and one identity is yet to be known. But just a quick note, Christi, on that casualty count, 155 people are in the hospital right now, but we do know that several of them are in critical condition. So tragically we are expecting the death toll to rise yet again throughout date.

PAUL: Did the majority of those in the hospital right now, did they come from this first blast or the second one? And why is -- help our viewers understand why Turkey is such a target?

LILA: It's a very good question. Let me sort of describe that first blast. We were roughly about, you know, half a mile away from the blast when it happened. It was so powerful you could hear the ground and feel the ground shake beneath your feet.

[06:05:03]The walls shook, the windows shook. Immediately we knew from that first blast that it was a major explosion. The second blast which was the suicide bomb happened about 20 seconds later.

And of course, to that second question about why are people attacking Turkey, well, it's in a very volatile area. There are Kurdish separatists and ISIS next door and a failed coup that happened about six months ago a little bit less than that. So, of course, a lot of enemies in this area that see Turkey as a big target.

PAUL: All right, Muhammad Lila, glad that you and everybody there are certainly OK. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We'll be checking in with him throughout the morning.

Also following breaking news in Egypt this morning, a bomb blast killed at least 25 people and left dozens of others injured in a small church attached to the city Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. So far no claim of responsibility for this attack.

It's been a violent several days in and around the capital though. Friday two roadside bombs one in Cairo, one just north of the city, killed six police officers and wounded six others.

BLACKWELL: U.S. drone strikes took out an ISIS leader linked to the "Charlie Hebdo" terror attacks in Paris. The Pentagon spokesman says that Boubaker Al-hakim (ph) was killed in Raqqah, November 26th, saying his removal hinders ISIS' ability to conduct further strikes in the west.

Now according to reports, AL-hakim was a mentor to the brothers who carried out the January 2015 attacks in Paris. Remember 17 people were killed. PAUL: Meanwhile, ISIS is reportedly making advances in Palmyra. Nearly nine months after government forces recaptured the ancient Syrian city activist groups say the terror group has taken control of neighborhoods in the northern and northwestern parts of the city known for some of the world's most treasured ruins there.

Intense fighting on the outskirts of the city forced hundreds of Syrian troops and militia fighters to withdraw there. The development could be a setback for troops loyal to the government who took back Palmyra from ISIS in March.

BLACKWELL: CNN projects that Republican John Kennedy has won runoff race for Senate in Louisiana. Now that helps the GOP hold a stronger majority in the Senate with 52 seats now, down from 54 before the November 8th election.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence, they both campaigned for Kennedy in this runoff. The seat was considered safely Republican. The runoff was needed after no candidate got the majority of the vote in November. The race started with a field of 17 candidates, including former clan leader, David Duke.

PAUL: New this morning, a senior transition source tells CNN ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is the leading and likely pick to be President-elect Donald Trump's secretary of state. Tillerson went from dark horse to front running candidate in about a week.

Multiple sources tell us former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, is a strong possibility to be number two at the State Department. Here's our Ryan Nobles.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's looking more and more like President-elect Donald Trump is leaning toward ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state. CNN's John King reporting that Tillerson left a meeting on Saturday at Trump Tower feeling confident that he would be named to the post.

Trump telling Chris Wallace from Fox that Tillerson's global business interests and ties with countries around the world make him a very strong candidate.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Let me ask you about Rex Tillerson, out of ExxonMobil. Why does a business executive make sense as the chief diplomat?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, in his case he's much more than a business executive. He's a world-class player. He's in charge of the largest company in the world. He's in charge of an oil company that's pretty much double the size of his next nearest competitor.

It's been a company that's been unbelievably managed and to me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia, he does massive deals for the company -- not for himself, for the company. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Some of the attributes that Trump views as positives have some concerned including some Republicans like Senator John McCain. McCain told me he would want answers from Tillerson about his ties to Russia and his view of the world as it relates to the country before he gives him his vote in a confirmation process.

Republicans hold only a four-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, so Donald Trump will likely need almost all of those votes if he is to get Tillerson confirmed. Ryan Nobles, CNN, Baltimore.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ryan, thanks. Coming up, we'll dig more into the experience and record of Rex Tillerson. How did this oil giant become the likely pick to be the next top diplomat on behalf of the U.S.?

Our political panel, Stephen Collinson and Errol Louis, is standing by to help us break it all down. We'll speak with them in a moment.

[06:10:01]PAUL: Plus, it's the most advanced fighter jet in the world and over $100 million, also one of the most expensive. Now Israel is getting their first shipment of 50 F-35s. Later this hour what that means for the region.


BLACKWELL: This morning we're learning more about President-elect Donald Trump's search for secretary of state. A senior transition source says that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is now the leading and likely pick to head the State Department.

Sources say Trump and the oil company executive met yesterday. Tillerson left the meeting believing he's going to get the job. We're told no official announcement on who Trump will pick or has chosen will happen until the middle of the upcoming week.

But the president-elect praised Tillerson during a new interview with Fox News. Here's a portion of it.


TRUMP: In his case he's much more than a business executive, I mean, he's a world-class player. He's in charge of, I guess, the largest company in the world. He's in charge of an oil company that's pretty much double the size of his next nearest competitor.


BLACKWELL: All right. So let's talk about this. We have with us CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis, and CNN Politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson. Good morning to both of you.

So the president-elect there says that Rex Tillerson is much more than a business executive, but then lists off all of his business credentials. Errol, first to you, the premium that Donald Trump, obviously, is placing on that as he picks a diplomat to speak on behalf of the U.S.?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, calling ExxonMobil a business is almost a little bit like, you know, calling Walmart a hardware store. ExxonMobil, with something like $269 billion in revenue, would rank as the 44th largest nation in the world if you weighed it alongside the GDPs of other nations.

[06:20:12]It's bigger than Finland, bigger than Portugal. I think that's really what President-elect Trump was getting at that this is somebody who has been in charge of a massive global organization that has interests that are akin to managing the foreign policy of a nation.

BLACKWELL: Stephen, to you, we've heard from Senator McCain that some of his concerns about Rex Tillerson's affiliation and affinity for possibly President Putin and his association with Russia, the oil company there in Russia, let's listen to what McCain said.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have, obviously, concerns of reports of his relationship with Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer, but that's the -- we will have hearings and that issue and other issues concerning him will be examined and then that's the time to make up your mind as to whether to vote yes or no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of questions would you ask Rex Tillerson that would make you feel comfortable about him in a role?

MCCAIN: His view of Vladimir Putin and his role in the world and, for example, the fact that Boris Nemsov (ph), who is the leader of the opposition, was murdered on the orders, I believe, of Vladimir Putin and the shadow of the kremlin.


BLACKWELL: So, Stephen, is a Tillerson confirmation going to be a tough lift for this administration?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think it could be a very contentious confirmation hearing. One of the reasons is, perhaps, that a Tillerson nomination the only chance the Democrats have to wound the Trump administration. The Democratic minority can't stop nominees on their own.

But if you look at the fact that the Senate now is 52/48 in favor of Republicans it wouldn't take too many Republicans to make this a contentious and close fight. Look at John McCain there as you mentioned, I would also look at Senator Lindsey Graham, perhaps Senator Marco Rubio.

These are more hawkish members of the Republican caucus who have raised clear concerns about Russia and its role in the world and the stance that the Trump administration will take towards Russia and this, of course, is coming at the same time as we're hearing these reports that the CIA has likely concluded that Russia intervened in the election in favor of Donald Trump.

So this is all coming at a very contentious time and I think that adds up to what is likely going to be quite a fiery confirmation hearing if Donald Trump goes ahead and names Rex Tillerson as secretary of state nominee.

BLACKWELL: All right, so let's look beyond Russia at some other issues and let's talk about trade. This is what Rex Tillerson said, this is from the ExxonMobil website several years ago about trade.

"The need for international cooperation provides another opportunity for government to exercise a unique and positive role by fostering free trade. And as we confront our current economic challenges, Congress must resist the urge to turn its back on these proven policies. The United States cannot afford to raise barriers to trade."

Errol, to you, we've heard what the president-elect wants to do with NAFTA and other trade agreements. Is this a sticking point? Will this be significant daylight between the potential next secretary of state and the incoming president?

LOUIS: Well, that is one of the big questions here because you have somebody who, by the nature of his job and apparently, according to his personal philosophy, was very much a free trader, he's going to be one of the leading figures in an administration that feels very, very differently about it.

There are a number of other issues, by the way, where Tillerson is on the record going in the slightly different direction than Donald Trump on common core, for example. He authored an op-ed piece about common core in favor of it.

We'll have to figure out what this gentleman, who has never served in public sector, what he is proposed to do and how far he's proposed to go. As far as his, you know, his personal profile as the former head of the Boy Scouts, a former Boy Scout himself he has a clean-cut appearance.

It's not going to be easy to sort of tag him as somebody who is an ideologue and that's going to be much in his favor. On the other hand, the Trump administration as it forms, they will have somebody who, for the rest of us, is really just kind of a mystery.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is someone that many people are meeting for the first time, so we'll talk more about Rex Tillerson throughout the morning. Errol Louis, Stephen Collinson, thank you both.

PAUL: It's a terror attack captured on video. Most of the people killed are police officers. We have details for you on twin bombings in Istanbul that detonated less than a mile apart.

BLACKWELL: And it is the deep freeze. I know you feel it, 66 million people are under some kind of winter storm warning or advisory this morning. CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar is watching it all for us -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. We've already known of numerous delays at Chicago O'Hare and Midway airports. The question is, will there be more airports added to that list? We'll talk about delays and the rest of the snowstorm coming up.



PAUL: Well, the season's first arctic blast hit and I know you're feeling it already. But here's the thing, it's not just about how it feels. There are nearly 700 flights canceled at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports this morning. You know what that is doing to delays. In the meantime millions of people across the northern plains and Midwest, try to get through that, people. Look at that heavy snow.

CNN's Allison Chinchar following the storm for us. Good morning, Allison. How bad is it really?

CHINCHAR: That's it. For some of these places it's already bad and others need to be getting preps under way because it will be getting bad as we get later on into the day. We have snow right now stretching from Washington and Oregon through portions of Colorado into the Midwest and stretching all the way into the northeast right now.

But where some of the heaviest snow is, is currently in the Midwest. We're talking cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit. Now starting to see some heavy snow begin to come into cities like Cleveland, even into Pittsburgh.

And those are going to be the cities you need to watch out for later in the day. We know about the delays in Chicago for good reason where we have some of the winter storm warnings and advisories.

But same thing for Cleveland, Pittsburgh, even Eerie, Pennsylvania, where we could be seeing some of those possible cancellations and delays later on today. Accumulations are actually fairly significant.

Some of these areas 8 inches to 12 inches. Some even higher than that. Keep in mind, cities like Chicago have already picked up three inches. So it's on top of what they've already had. Now one reason that some of these cities are getting a bit more than usual is because of the lake effect.

So here's how this works. You have a warm lake. Now keep in mind we're talking 40s, which may not necessarily seem like that warm, but it's warmer compared to the air above it which is currently in the teens and 20s in some locations.

[06:25:08]And when you have that variation of the warm water with the cold air that helps to create snow in and of itself. So now you're adding that lake effect on top of the snow that the main system is already bringing and Christi, Victor, that's why some of these areas will get substantial amounts of snow.

BLACKWELL: All right. We will continue to watch it and thank you so much, Allison Chinchar. Let's go to these blasts, nearly synchronized that kills at least 30 police officers in Istanbul. The incident is now being considered a terror attack. We'll tell you what's next for this devastated city and what role the U.S. military could play in Turkey's fight against terror.

PAUL: Also the leading pick for secretary of state was awarded Russia's order of friendship. Could Rex Tillerson and his ties to President Putin spark a contentious confirmation? That's ahead.


PAUL: Mortgage rates edged down this week. Here's your look.


PAUL: Good morning. So grateful to have your company here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Today is a day of mourning in Turkey after twin bombings in Istanbul. The country's interior minister -- take a look at that, that was the moment that bomb went off.

[06:30:07] But the interior minister declaring this morning the evidence so far points to the Kurdish Workers' Party or the PKK. No group has officially claimed responsibility, we want to note.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The latest numbers here, 38 people dead, following these terror attacks. 155 are in hospitals this morning.

Authorities tell CNN someone set off this car bomb remotely. It was around 11:00 last night local time after this huge soccer game at a popular arena nearby. Less than a minute later a suicide bomber detonated a second smaller explosion at a park. The two scenes are really just less than a mile apart.

Two people you'll see here playing the guitar they didn't even realize the explosion went off behind them until the sound reached them.

It was a delay of about five seconds.

PAUL: Wow.

BLACKWELL: You saw the blast and then felt that -- they felt that sound. Police have arrested 13 people we know in connection with the attacks.

PAUL: All right. Let's unpack this a little more. Let's turn to Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and author of the book "Security Mom, My Life Protecting the Home and Homeland."

It's so good to have you. Thank you so much, Juliette. Tell us first of all your reaction to what we're seeing this morning in Istanbul?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it looks all too familiar, not just for Istanbul, for around the world. Twin attacks targeting essentially a soft target, which would be a stadium.

You know, we've seen most recently in the last 18 months, sporting events being targeted. It's where lots of young people go, where it's very difficult to harden the target. And even though this attack took place two hours after the major game at the Vodafone stadium right next -- it's right next to Istanbul, sort of right in the city, you know, we saw high fatality rate.

The other interesting thing is it clearly was targeted against law enforcement. That's why people think that this might be a Kurd -- a PKK attack, rather than ISIS, although both have had successful attacks in Istanbul in 2016, so we'll just see where the evince falls in terms of the investigation.

PAUL: It was a couple months ago that the U.S. ordered families of Istanbul consulate staff to get out of Turkey because of increasing threats there. How do you suspect the U.S. -- the government, the military will react or play a role here in the aftermath?

KAYYEM: Well look, we're always there assisting and training the Turks in terms of, in particular, border security. To describe what's happened to Turkey in the five -- last five years, is in some ways just a remarkably sad story.

It was the jewel of the Middle East. Istanbul was the crown between the east and the west. And now you have more recently gone back to Istanbul, you know, sort of lots of restaurants and bars closed and a lot of exodus from the major city. There's not much the United States can do absent protecting its own citizens in terms of these travel warnings but of course assisting the Turks, at least as regards the military border or the border of Turkey.

I think one of the challenges of the United States is we don't want to get into the middle of what is essentially a fight between the PKK and the Turkish government. The Turkish government has shown, you know, sort of inclinations towards human violations after the coup attacks. So we also have to be careful about how much we get involved.

PAUL: I want to show some live pictures here. I believe that we have of a solidarity protest that's going on outside the stadium where this happened. That you can see the flags flying there. A lot of people showing up. Basically to say you're not going to scare us it seems.

KAYYEM: Right.

PAUL: We're still going to stand and we're going to stand together.

Juliette Kayyem, we appreciate you so much. Thank you.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And more tragedy this morning. This time at a church in Nigeria. At least 23 people have been killed after the building's roof which was still under construction collapsed during services. But officials expect that number will rise.

This happened in Uyo about 400 miles south of the country's capital. Search crews are digging through the dirt and the rubble there looking for survivors. Representatives with the church there say that the church was packed with worshipers when it caved in. The state government is putting together a panel to investigate how this happened.

PAUL: And take a look at this new video we have out of North Korea. The leader there, Kim Jong-un, presiding over military drills. We don't know when these combat exercises took place. We want to point that out. But it did -- it does show some special ops attacking a mockup of South Korea's presidential office and look at the leader there. Kim seems to be enjoying them judging (ph) by the grin on his face.


This is the latest warmongering effort here from North Korea. It has already conducted two military tests and multiple missile launches this year. But again there is its leader, seems to be very happy with whatever it is that they're progressing with.


All right. New this morning, a senior transition source tells CNN that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is the leading and likely pick to be president-elect Donald Trump's secretary of state.

The oil executive with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged as a -- let's say a dark horse candidate within the past week but this should not come as a surprise. Why? Because during the campaign Donald Trump made it clear that he favors businessmen over Washington politicians and he wanted to improve U.S./Russian ties or relations at least.

Let's bring in A. Scott Bolden, former chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic Party. He supported Hillary Clinton in the election. And Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and is a Donald Trump supporter. Gentlemen, good morning. Good to have you back.


BLACKWELL: Certainly.

Brian, I want to start with you on Rex Tillerson's connections to Vladimir Putin. Let's listen to what Tillerson said earlier this year about his relationship with the Russian president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REX TILLERSON, CEO, EXXONMOBIL: My relationship with Vladimir Putin, which dates back almost 15 years now, I've known him since 1999, and I have a very close relationship with him.

I don't agree with everything he's doing, I don't agree with everything a lot of leaders are doing, but he understands that I'm a businessman and I've invested a lot of money -- our company has invested a lot of money in Russia, very successfully.


BLACKWELL: Reading up on these two men I found they have a pretty close relationship. He received the -- Tillerson received the Order of Friendship decoration three years ago.

Is Tillerson too close to Russia and to Putin to do the job or possibly to get the job, to get through these confirmation hearings, Brian?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, I think American leaders throughout the years have had relationships with unsavory characters to benefit the American people.

It's part of diplomacy. We're not going to agree with everyone that we need to act friendly with, and as Tillerson said in that clip, he doesn't agree with everything that Vladimir Putin has done, but in his capacity as a businessman, he had to build that relationship. In his capacity as secretary of state, should he be the nominee, and then possibly be confirmed, there will be some Republican opposition to him, it sounds like in the U.S. Senate, but should he get that job, his role would be different. He would then be representing the Trump administration and the American people...


ROBINSON: ... and his relationship with Vladimir Putin would, as a result, also have to change. He would no longer be that businessman whose company had invested a lot of money into the Russian petro state.

BLACKWELL: Scott, same question to you, too close to Putin?

BOLDEN: Well, we'll have to see. There will be a Senate investigation and it's one thing to be the senior diplomat or lead diplomat as secretary of state. It's another thing to be -- negotiate a business partnership with Russia. So we will have to see.

That will be a problem in regards to that relationship but it will be fully explored. But very different roles here and the question is can Rex Tillerson, who has got an outstanding resume, can he sort through that and can he be an adversary to someone that has generated millions of dollars in funds for his prior company?

BLACKWELL: Tillerson himself actually spoke in the same event with Texas -- University of Texas there, spoke about the difference between being a businessman and being the voice of the U.S. government, as he would be as the secretary of state.


BLACKWELL: Let's listen to what he said about that.


TILLERSON: I'm not here to represent the United States government's interests. I'm not here to defend it nor am I here to criticize it. That's not what I do. I'm a businessman.

And you would be surprised how many times I've had to have that conversation with heads of state who want to say to me, well, look, I know you can have some influence on the president. I need you to go back and tell him this. OK. And there's only been two occasions where I did that because it was a matter of national security.


BLACKWELL: So Scott, back to you, for Democrats, especially who are questioning these business ties to leaders across the world and the heads of state he discussed there, why would that be a bad thing if he has these relationships, why are with we hearing the pushback that we're hearing so fervently from many on the left?

BOLDEN: Well probably because Rex Tillerson doesn't have any policy- making experience. He's another business leader, wealthy business leader, and the issue is can he sort through that business relationship and then transition to policy making positions where you may have to take a hard line against Russia and others, that you may need to pushback, you may need to threaten, given their prior business relationship and prior business dealings, simply can he do that?


We won't know that, but look for this to be a real test in the Senate and look for the hawks, like the senator from -- McCain and others, to test him on that and then look for the environmentalists to come after him as well. Do they have the votes? At 52-48, all the Republicans -- I'm sorry. All the Democrats need to do is get a couple Republicans and now you have a problem.


Will there be a problem, quickly, Brian?

ROBINSON: If Senator McCain can put together a coalition with...

BOLDEN: Exactly.

ROBINSON: ... Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and a few others, it won't take very much. It's a very closely divided Senate, so this may be one of Donald Trump's very first tests of negotiation on Capitol Hill as commander in chief.

BLACKWELL: Is it worth the fight? ROBINSON: Well, that's up to him. I think he has said consistently throughout the campaign that taking a completely different route on Russia was going to be the order of the day if he became president. And he seems to be following through on that. And I think we owe him the benefit of the doubt to see how his policy plays out.

You know, America is always better off if we have fewer enemies than more and I do think that Donald Trump in this case is trying to settle down a hostile relationship that has grown increasingly worse throughout the entire Obama administration.

BLACKWELL: All right. A. Scott Bolden, Brian Robinson, always good to have this conversation with you.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

ROBINSON: Thank you, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: So think about this, the flight helmet alone costs $400,000. The helmet. It has technology that allows the pilot to see through the jet as it flies. Well, now 50 F-35s are on their way to Israel.


LT. COLONEL YOTHAM, F35 SQUADRON COMMANDER (through translator): It allows us to bring into action many abilities that are needed for the air force for superiority.




BLACKWELL: Fifteen minutes until the top of the hour now. Russia moves a sophisticated missile defense system into Syria. Now Israel is bringing in the jets that can fly without being seen.

PAUL: It's a continued struggle for balance in the Middle East, obviously. Fifty of the most advanced fighter jets in the world are on their way to Israel right now.

CNN's Ian Lee is live in Jerusalem with what that means for that region. Good morning.

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Well good morning, Christi and Victor.

Israeli press already has a nickname for this plane, Adir, meaning the mighty F-35.

I talked to a pilot to say, what will this plane mean for Israel? And he said, well you can fly from north to south in about 15 minutes east to west in about four minutes, underscoring the need for air superiority. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEE (voice-over): Barrage jets screech across the summer sky. Israel's surprise attack destroyed hundreds of Egyptian planes in hours. Their air superiority shortened the 1967 war to just six days.

The new sound of air domination in the 21st century, say Israeli generals. The F-35 stealth fighter will be the most advanced plane in the region. Israel ordered 50. The initial two arriving Monday. Making Israel the first country outside of the United States to receive Lockheed Martin's fighter. The price tag, more than $100 million.

Lieutenant Colonel Yotham will lead the squadron, his identity concealed for security we're told.

YOTHAM (through translator): The F-35 stealth capabilities widen our operational theater. It has allows us to bring into action many abilities that are needed from the air force for superiority.

LEE: As it looks around its neighborhood, Israel perceives many threats. The Syria conflict is on its doorstep, Hezbollah in Lebanon, rearming since the last war with Israel in 2006. Russia's S-300 and more advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile systems introduced into Syria last year to support President Assad's military efforts. The advantage of the F-35 Israel hopes is that it can fly virtually undetected.

YOTHAM: The F-35 is built to deal with a lot of threats on the ground. It knows how to deal in the best possible way with everything that lies in the region of interest of the IDF outside the borders of Israel.

LEE: But the plane has faced growing pains, including problems with software, the engines and weapons. Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ephraim Segoli has seen this before.

EPHRAIM SEGOLI, MILITARY ANALST: When you develop new technology, you'll suffer from problems and you fix it.

LEE: But Segoli insists this plane is a game changer.

SEGOLI: The idea that you're the first state -- the first air force in the area that gets it, it's a lot to your reputation.

LEE: A reputation that Israel hopes will make any rival think twice.


LEE: The F-35 is part of a 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding between the United States and Israel to purchase weapons, unlike previous agreements between the two countries, though, all this money has to be spent on American hardware -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ian Lee for us. Ian, thank you so much. Let's turn to football. Army finally beats Navy after 14 years with a loss. CNN's Coy Wire was at the game in Baltimore. Coy, I know a lot of people have been waiting for this one.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my goodness. Victor, I know you said you were going to watch the game and I sure hope you didn't miss it because Army, the Black Knights, they broke a historic streak and the energy, the enthusiasm in this stadium, we're going to recap it coming up after the break.



PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) Army/Navy of all the games for Coy Wire to be at this is it.

BLACKWELL: This is one. Yes.

Coy wire is there at the stadium in Baltimore with this morning's "bleacher report." So what did you pick?

WIRE: I didn't make any decisions in this one. I wasn't going to go that route. I would have gotten pummeled by the team I didn't choose.

But listen, tradition, pageantry, passion and respect for one another make the Army/Navy rivalry the greatest rivalry in college football. I played in ball games, NFL playoff games but they don't match the magic of the Army/Navy game.

Yesterday's game was a classic. President-elect Donald Trump was there. Midshipmen and cadets cheered loudly for their commander in chief to be. Now army's losing streak was the longest ever in this series, so they were hungry. End of the game Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw barreling in the end zone from nine yards out the go-ahead score and eventual game winner, the Black Knights victorious at long last topping Navy, 21-17.

When that clock hit zero (INAUDIBLE) the corps of cadets rushing on to the field, basking in the glory of breaking an historic 14-year losing streak. It was called the most orderly field storming in history. I have to tell you they may have been orderly getting on the field, that was nice, but once they were down there they were turning into those running bulls of Pamplona. I thought I was going to go down for sure. I was getting bumped. I was getting bobbled and somehow fortunately for us I got bumped right on in to the head coach of the victorious Black Knights. Here he is moments after the game.


WIRE: How does this feel?

JEFF MONKEN, ARMY HEAD COACH: Unbelievable. Look at this. What a feeling. I'm so proud of our guys. I'm so proud for this corps of cadets and for the United States Army. Every soldier serving, everybody laying in a foxhole or (ph) takes a bad guy right now. This one is for them.

WIRE: What do you have to say all the servicemen who have watched this Victory tonight?

MONKEN: Go Army, beat Navy!


WIRE: What a great moment.


Now we had another great moment yesterday, the Heisman ceremony and congrats to Louisville's (ph) Lamar Jackson who became the youngest player ever to win the Heisman in 19 years old. So congrats to him.

A special congrats to the Army Black Knights for their triumphant victory in the 117th Army/Navy game here in Baltimore as they say, hoo-wah (ph) I'm told. Congrats to you all the Army Black Knights.


PAUL: Come on. There's more oomph in it than that, right? Come on, Coy.

BLACKWELL: All right, Coy, thanks very much.

WIRE: Hoo-wah (ph).

PAUL: That's what I'm waiting for.

BLACKWELL: There you go, baby. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Good morning to you. Thanks, Coy.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Coy.

Coming up we got to look ahead at a really spectacular night here on CNN. It's "CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute." We're going to meet the people making a difference.


PAUL: CNN Heroes salutes 10 people who put other people first all year long.

BLACKWELL: The "10th Annual All-Star Tribute" -- sorry -- airs live tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They are the kind and the caring, they are the strong and the brave. They are the ones who see a need, fill a void, make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to give them all the opportunities that they deserve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has become my life. I don't ever want to do anything else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They don't do it for themselves. They do it for all the rest of us. They are a reminder of what's good in this world and what it truly means to be a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We give them the foundation from which they can thrive. The feeling of family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have transformed the lives of thousands of children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Tonight, CNN presents a very special live event. The "10TH ANNUAL CNN HEROES, ALL-STAR TRIBUTE."


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Tonight we're gathered to celebrate extraordinary men and women who highlight the best of what humanity has to offer.