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Obama Blames Putin For Election Hack; Obama: I Told Putin To "Cut It Out" On Hacking; Awaiting Trump Rally In Florida; Obama: Oval Office Will Have "Sobering" Effect On Trump; First Lady: This is "What Not Having Hope Feels Like"; Pro-Trump Electors Receiving Death Threats. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 16, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:01] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- at That's it for me. Thanks for watching. "Erin Burnett OutFront" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next the breaking news, President Obama on the Russian hacked, nothing happened without Putin and his warning to the Russian leader to cut it out. How will the U.S. retaliate now?

Plus harassing calls and letters even death threats, Electoral College voters told not to vote Trump. Will it work? And, is there a Trump real estate bump? You'll be surprised what we found. Let's go "OutFront."

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. "OutFront" tonight breaking news, Obama takes on Putin, the president in a major press conference late today all but naming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the hacking of the U.S. election. Asked if he believe that Putin directed the attack, President Obama answer the question.


BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin. Last I checked there's not a lot of debate. This happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.


BURNETT: Continue to say it's not like any intelligence officials would go rogue. Detailing how he faced down Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russian hacking of the U.S. election, President Obama said that he told Putin to, "Cut it out."


OBAMA: In early September when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn't. And, in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Michelle Kosinski begins our coverage live from the White House on this breaking story. I mean, Michelle, pretty stunning. The president of the United States, you know, blaming Vladimir Putin for the Russian hack. I mean, there was no question about that.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right and that's what we've been hearing from his administration. But, of course, it has that added weight coming directly from President Obama. In this entire hour and a half long press conference was focused for the most part on Russia.

You can almost picture Vladimir Putin at some point watching this very pleased with his influence over this debate. But we heard President Obama defend his administration's actions over naming Russia, defend the FBI over its investigation, although, when President Obama was asked, "Was this a free and fair election?" He would only go so far as to say that the voting process wasn't tampered with, calling all of this a clarifying moment for America.


KOSINSKI: President Obama won't say definitively that he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin himself authorized the hack of the Democratic National Committee, but he leaves little room for doubt.

OBAMA: This happened at the highest levels of the Russian government and I will let you make that determination as to whether there are high level Russian officials who go off rogue and decide to tamper with the U.S. election process without Vladimir Putin knowing about it.

KOSINSKI: The president recounted what he told Putin face-to-face at a summit in China in September.

OBAMA: I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn't.

KOSINSKI: President Obama vowed there will be a response.

OBAMA: How we approach an appropriate response that increases costs for them for behavior like this in the future, but does not create problems for us is something that is worth taking the time to think through and figure out.

KOSINSKI: And he rebuked some Republicans who were supportive of Putin.

OBAMA: Over a third of Republican voters approved of Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.

KOSINSKI: We should point out those numbers come from an economist YouGov survey that doesn't meet CNN's polling standards. Regarding President-elect Trump's dismissal of the intelligence blaming the Russians, the president said he's urged his successor to work in a non partisan way.

OBAMA: My hope is that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don't have potential foreign influence in our election process. I don't think any American wants that. And that shouldn't be a source of an argument. I think that part of the challenge is that it gets caught up in the carryover from election season.


KOSINSKI: We heard the president say that he feels the real vulnerability is fears partisanship.

[19:05:05] He said, when everything comes under suspicion, everything is seen as corrupt, fake news propagates and that opens the door for a foreign influence to take a foothold.

He also kind of throw a bone to the next administration. I mean, he was asked on foreign policy, some of the instances that have been put out there by the Trump team, is that a good thing potentially or does it put America on some collision courses? The president said he sees it as somewhere in between, acknowledging that fresh perspectives could be a positive for democracy, including on China, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you so much, Michelle. And let's go to Jim Sciutto now. Jim, you know, as for how the U.S. plans to respond to Putin, President Obama warned today -- warning Russia in that press conference that Michelle supporting on, "We can do stuff to you." What stuff is he talking about that the U.S. can do to Russia, to Putin?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it doesn't have to be in the cyber realm. It could very much be economic. And keep in mind, economic sanctions have been a favorite tool of this administration. That's how they punish Russia for military intervention in Ukraine. It is certainly imposed economic costs on the Russian economy and Russian individuals, but certainly hasn't changed the calculus on the ground, but that's an option.

You can also do what the U.S. did with China when it discovered that a Chinese military unit was hacking the U.S., they publicly identified and actually issued charges and arrest warrants for individuals in China. Now, you're not going to arrest those people and they cannot leave China, but you are publicly saying you know exactly who did it and how and those people can never leave their country, again. You could do that to the Russian hackers who are behind this tied to Russian intelligence.

The big step would be if you took a cyber response to this, a retaliates or a cyber attack. Now, that could be in the same category expose embarrassing information about Russian leaders. I'm sure there are a lot of secrets, financial secrets that Vladimir Putin would not want to expose or - then a bigger step going after critical infrastructure in Russia, you know, sort of the analogy being turn the lights off in Moscow. But, that's something that the president alluded, too, today certainly has risks for America.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others have made the point we are particularly vulnerable in that space, so you have to acknowledge that if you take that step you better be prepared if for blowback.

BURNETT: All right, Jim Sciutto, right. We better prepared for the blowback and at some point if you do things like that, you got call it for what it is. It's war.

Clarissa Ward is "OutFront" in Moscow. And Clarissa, what is the reaction there to these accusations that Russia is responsible for the hacking, that Putin himself directed it, that this press conference, 90 minutes was almost all about Vladimir Putin?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction is the same as it has been since these allegations first reared their head back in October. It's been branded by the Kremlin spokesman as ludicrous nonsense. Today, he said provide some proof that this has been going on or cease and desist from these accusations which he categorized as being "indecent."

So on the surface, there is very much an heir of how dare you. It couldn't possibly be us. These accusations are beneath us to even acknowledge, certainly on state T.V. This is playing out as a deliberate ploy for President Obama to try to cover up from the American people some of the deep and desperate problems that are ongoing in the U.S. It's also being portrayed in some media as a deliberate attempt to poison the well ahead of a potential warming of relations with President-elect Trump taking office next month.

So people here are certainly not paying too much attention to these allegations and I wouldn't expect to see that really change in any meaningful way with what we've heard from President Obama tonight.

But what's interesting is that while they officially deny it, there is also a sense of pleasure that people hear taking in the idea that they're getting all this attention and that they could be responsible for such an audacious attempt, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. And I think its interesting word, Clarissa, is this pleasure. Let me tell you why.

"OutFront" now, Dan Pfeifer, former Senior Adviser of President Obama, Alice Stewart, Republican Strategist, David Gergen, who advised four presidents, including Reagan, that will be important in a moment, you'll see why. And Mark Preston, our Executive Editor for Politics.

So, Dan, on this issue where Clarissa says they are taking pleasure that Russia could be (inaudible) with such an audacious attack. Well, part of the reason why is President Obama's pretty stunning slumped of Putin's Russia today. He did not use diplomatic language at all. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The Russians can't change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country. They are a weaker country. Their economy doesn't produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don't innovate, but they can impact us if we lose track of who we are.


[19:10:05] BURNETT: Dan, those are incredibly strong provoking words for a country that we are not at war with. Maybe an adversary, but we are not at war with. We're trying a peaceful relationship calling them weaker and smaller and doesn't produce anything anybody wants and doesn't innovate. Is that a mistake?

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I don't think it is a mistake. It's not, perhaps, it's a little blunter as we get into the final days here than it is been in previous things the president said. But he's made this point repeatedly, typically over the last, you know, two and a half, three years here while the Russians have made specific efforts to try to destabilize the world order. They encourage it in Crimea trying, you know, cause trouble in the greater Ukraine.

And so it's important to understand and it's interesting in a world that -- where we have a lot -- very few issues where there is bipartisan agreement. Republicans and Democrats have had -- maybe have different in approach to Putin, but it had a similar approach that he is an adversary to United States, someone who has to be dealt with through economic sanctions and diplomatic means.

The one exception to that is Trump and his new administration. So it will be very interesting to see how that plays out over the coming months as he begins to take power.

BURNETT: So, David Gergen, you herd President Obama say -- he told Putin to cut it out on the hacking. He said it works that Putin stopped. Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted in response to that saying that clearly Putin was not impressed by Obama threat in September to cut it out or face consequences and that matches our report actually that the hacking has continued, it did not, in fact, stop.

So I guess this raises the question why not give Trump's Putin friendly strategy a shot if an adversely stance certainly did not seem to work?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, are you saying give Trump a chance?

BURNETT: Give Trump's Russian or pro-Putin strategy, specifically, yeah.

GERGEN: Well, you know, the Obama administration early on hit the reset button and tried to develop a closer relationship, a friendlier relationship, more respectful one and it didn't work.

You know, Putin's really back in their faces and I think that President Obama has rightly recognized that Putin is a thug as his own Secretary of Defense said, Bob Gates said, you looked into the Putin's eyes and what he saw was a cold-blooded killer.

Donald Trump looks in his eyes and sees something else. But I think that President Obama just were very consistent where he has been and today I think he not only blamed the Russians for the hacking in trying to elect Donald Trump. But he also went after them on Aleppo for bearing an enormous responsibility for the slaughter that's going on there.


GERGEN: Importantly, Erin, it was also -- the comments by Hillary Clinton in the last 24 hours, the speech last night in which she said that the Russian hacking was, "An attack upon our country." An attack upon our country and she made it very plain that she thought that the hacking along with Mr. Comey's actions had cost her the election.

BURNETT: Alice, President Obama, you know, made that point of the GOP voters saying, look, GOP voter, GOP -- these Republicans in general is -- they don't like Vladimir Putin. 37 percent, obviously at the survey, we don't use here at CNN, but he cited it in his press conference.

He then went on to say that if Ronald Reagan, you know, could see what was happening right, his words were Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave. We just heard it in a moment ago say that in Michelle's piece. Would Ronald Reagan roll over in his grave to see what Donald Trump is doing now cozying up to Russia?

ALICE STEWART, FMR. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CRUZ CAMPAIGN: I think it's a little premature to assume that we know what Donald Trump is going to do. And if he does what everyone is speculating, I think it would be a little concern.

But I think to the point you talked about with regard to how Obama has handled Putin, he clearly shaped (ph) Mitt Romney for his showing concern about Putin. He set the reset button. He has been naming and shaming him, but not really pushing back forcefully to incur any change.

And I think to Jeff's point, we need to impose sanctions. We possibly need to consider a counter cyber attack in order to push back on him because what we're doing just calling names and whispering in his ear at the -- in China has not worked.

And I think it's extremely premature to assume that Donald Trump is going to be -- to placate to Russia, because if you recall in the primaries any time someone became a threat to him, he was nice to Ted Cruz, he was nice to Ben Carson, as soon as they became a threat, he cleaned their plate. So I think the same thing can be expected of this when he sees Putin as a threat, I think it's going to be a whole different (inaudible).

BURNETT: You know, Mark, President Obama did start off with the Russian reset when I was in Moscow right after President Obama won every magazine have him on a cover. When you went to little tourist (ph) kiosk, you know, little nesting dolls (ph) it was Putin, Medvedev and Obama, OK. That's what was being sold. They loved him.

President Obama step with it. Remember that debate with Mitt Romney when Romney said Russia was a top geopolitical threat against America. Here is what President Obama said.


OBAMA: The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.


BURNETT: Mark, he really changed his words.

[19:15:04] I mean, that doesn't -- this is the guy who today said they were weak and didn't buy -- sell anything people want to buy. They don't innovate. I mean, that's -- this is sounds like two different people.

MARK PRESTON: Well, no doubt about that. And I think what Barack Obama realized after being in office for a couple of years is that, in fact, no matter what he was going to do with Russia to try to hit the reset button, it's just wasn't going to work.

I mean, the fact is Vladimir Putin is not a good actor and he's certainly not somebody who is a good ally, which is even more puzzling why Donald Trump has chosen to embrace Putin and to disregard the intelligence gathering of our folks who are out there who have said that Russia is the one who tried to meddle with our election system.

So, Erin, we're at a point right now where Barack Obama could be critical of Vladimir Putin because he's a short timer. He has about a month left before he actually leaves office. So this was his way of throwing a little bit of shade as the young kids now say about Vladimir Putin.

But when Donald Trump comes in, that's really when the rubber hits the road and how is he going to deal with Vladimir Putin and that is like -- that is really a question that we don't have an answer to. And quite frankly, Republicans are, you know, are concerned about it and we've seen that with Lindsey Graham.

BURNETT: Yup. All right, well, and quickly before we go Alice, it sounds like you have concern on this, too. You're saying, if he does, sort of what he's indicate he's going to do you would have some concern, but you're just saying, but we're not sure yet.

STEWART: We're not sure. And like I said, that's one thing to be friendly with someone but it doesn't mean they are your friend. And I think he's been friendly to this point to -- probably to more of a degree than some people are comfortable with.

But I think once he becomes the commander-in-chief and as leader of this country and he sees Putin as a threat, I think we're going to see a different mind set and a different mentality and as approach to Putin.

BURNETT: We will see if he is as were as I would imagine even more blunt that those President Obama use today, if that's the case, thanks to all.

Next, Donald Trump about to speak in Orlando, live. How will he respond to President Obama's tough talk about Putin and him? And Michelle Obama opens up to Oprah about Donald Trump, you'll her. And Jeanne Moos on the perils of product demos on live T.V.


[19:20:14] BURNETT: All right, live pictures out of Florida. As you can see there with the Merry Christmas USA, that is Donald Trump's theme right now. The president-elect will be at that podium in the moments. That's in Orlando, Florida. Vice President-elect Pence will be joining him.

This comes just hours after President Obama's final press conference of the year in which he said it is the sobering process when you're walking to the Oval Office. He hopes that Trump will change his behavior.

Now, as we await Donald Trump because, obviously, he could respond here, Trump with a lot of very harsh words here related to Trump and the Russian president. Jim Acosta is with us at that rally. So, Jim, do you think the president-elect will respond to President Obama tonight?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is the question, Erin. I did talk to an aide to the president-elect who said he is expected to stick to the script that we've been hearing over and over again at these so called thank you rallies and he has one coming up here in Orlando in just a few moments.

There are Christmas trees behind me. It's decidedly warmer down here that it is New York, but you're right, there has been some frostiness between the incoming and outgoing administrations over the last 24 hours and it was last night that one of this rallies in Pennsylvania where Donald Trump went after the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called him foolish after Earnest earlier in the day went after Donald Trump and said that he shouldn't be attacking the intelligence community.

Flash forward to today, though, Erin, and you have President Obama turning down the temperature really just urging the president-elect to get on board with this probe of Russian hacking into the American political process.

And it's interesting to note, Kellyanne Conway, top adviser to Donald Trump earlier this morning was saying, "Well, President Obama loves his country he'll shut all of this squabbling down. Later on in the afternoon she talked to full reporters in Trump Tower and said that President Obama and his team have been incredibly helpful during this transition process. So you do get the sense that they are all trying to turn down the temperature after things got very testy in the last 24 hours. And speaking of Kellyanne Conway, one final, very interesting though to past along, Erin.


ACOSTA: She called me within the last hour sitting next to the president-elect to confirm to us that South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney has been chosen as President-elect Trump's Budget Director, the director of the OMB. So that is something that the president- elect is confirming to CNN through Kellyanne Conway.

And it's a real gesture to the House Freedom Caucus, you know, the group of very conservative Republicans up on Capitol Hill that Mulvaney is getting the spot, so sending a signal to Republicans, conservative Republicans in that Donald Trump likes having one of them inside his administration, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. That's something, of course, that could help him considering up the city, independent estimates are for some significant borrowing to fulfill his economic promises.

"OutFront" now, former Reagan White House Political Director Jeffrey Lord and former Clinton White House Aide Keith Boykin. So, Keith, let me start with you. President Obama said today that the White House changes people, which I guess it sort of definitional, but it's impossible for any of us to truly understand the magnitude of those moments. But here is how President Obama put it.


OBAMA: When Donald Trump takes the oath of office and is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States then he's got a different set of responsibilities and considerations. And I've said this before. I think there is a sobering process when you walk into the Oval Office.


BURNETT: So, are we going to see a different Donald Trump?

KIETH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I don't think so. You know, I work in the White House for President Clinton and I've known Barack Obama for years and I just don't think that Donald Trump is the type of person who will be changed by the Oval Office.

I think he's shown who he is throughout his term as a candidate when he ran for office and during the transition. He's on Twitter every day. He's attacking "Vanity Fair" and "Saturday Night Live." He's attacking reporters. He's attacking union bosses and anyone who disagrees with him. He's a thin-skinned very troubled person. And I don't think he's going to be any different as president of the United States.

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think he's the president-elect of the United States with reason. Last night I had the opportunity to be in Hershey at that rally that Jim Acosta was just talking about


LORD: And I can tell you, he was himself and the people in that room, it was about 12,000 people, that's exactly what they want to see of their next president that is why he is president in the first place.

Now -- I mean, do I think that he's got a sober understanding of what goes on in the Oval Office? Sure, sure. Every president goes through a situation where everything is new to them and they get adjusted to it. He will go through that, too.

But this is a serious man. This is a serious executive. This is a man who built this global company. This is a man who's now been elected president. You don't get there without being a serious man.

[19:25:01] BOYKIN: You know, I agree with what you're saying Jeffrey that he spoke to his crowd last night and that's what they wanted to hear. But that's not what the president-elect needs to do.

BURNETT: Is he a serious man?

BOYKIN: No, he's not a serious person. No one seriously believes, except for maybe Jeffrey and a few of Trump's supporters. No one seriously believes the Donald Trump is a serious man.

LORD: And that's why he's president is because you underestimated him, totally.

BOYKIN: It's very troubling hearing, though, because the reality is he's still on Twitter. He's still attacking people. He still not taking intelligence briefings. He still -- he hasn't had a press conference in 142 days. He hasn't released his tax returns. He is violating every norm, traditional norm of politicians who've been elected president in modern political history.


LORD: The world is changing. The world is changing, though.

BOYKIN: Yes, the world is changing, but there are some norms, basic acts of decorum that this president-elect hasn't even begun to attempt to try to do to bridge that gap. There is a chasm in our country, a chasm, a deep dividing chasm because of this election that just took place and Donald Trump is not doing anything to correct that.

LORD: Well, of course, he is. Of course, he is. But he was elected to lead the country in a specific direction and he's going to do that. And as to some of the things you're talking about, you know, the whole release the taxes thing, only people like us cared about that. I mean, the American people, those people that were in that room last night they could not have possibly cared.

BURNETT: Wow. I mean it looks frankly voters overwhelmingly in this country. That was an issue that people in Washington cared about, people in the media cared about, people in this country did not seem to care about with taxes particularly.

But, Keith, you know, obviously there is no love lost between President Obama and President-elect Trump and that's very clear. But today, Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager as with him on that plane, your (ph) Jim Acosta say side by side tonight. She said President Obama could end dispute between the two of them, that it is on him, particularly over whether Russia have the election shift. President Obama needs to step up. Here's how she put it.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: If you want too shut this down and you actually love the country enough to have this peaceful transition in our great democracy between the Obama administration and the Trump administration, there are a couple of people in prominent positions, one is named Obama, one is named Hillary Clinton since this people are trying to fight over her election still. They could shut this down.


BURNETT: Is she right?

BOYKIN: Of course, she's not right. You know, I could give a lot of words to describe that, but I won't use any of them on televisions. Let me just say this, President Obama had to sit through five years in the Oval Office while Donald Trump question his legitimacy as president of the United States and never apologize for it, by the way and still has not apologize for.

If there's anybody who has anything to do to try to bridge that gap, it is Donald Trump. He is now supposedly the president-elect, there will be after Monday if the electorates vote for him and I think that he has the responsibilities to try to do something, he is not doing that.

BURNETT: Shouldn't he take the high road and say, "Yes, I trust the intelligence communities," instead of saying, "No, that's people trying to say that I illegitimately won (inaudible)."

LORD: Well, I think there are people that trying to do that. And look, let's be very candid. When you listen to President Obama today, when you listen to Hillary Clinton in the speech where she said, "Well, Putin doesn't like her." The fact that matter is those people in that hall last night didn't vote for Donald Trump because of some Russian hack.

The state of Michigan and Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida did not vote for Donald Trump because of some dumb hack. What was there a hacking? Sure. Should it be investigated? Yes, but if we're going to have ...

BURNETT: But he hasn't said that.

LORD: What I'm saying to you is this is not why he was elected. He wasn't elected because of the Russians ...


LORD: Height of absurdity and that is exactly why he got elected because these elites believe this kind of stuff.

BOYKIN: Well, two things, first of all he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

LORD: Not in my state.

BOYKIN: Well, he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million. Secondly, this is exactly the problem right now. Jeffrey, the campaign is over.

LORD: Yes.

BOYKIN: And Donald Trump if he wants to be president, he can't just talk to those people in that hall. He has to talk to all the American people. He can't just be the president of his supporters.

BURNETT: Final word, Jeffrey.

LORD: Yeah, of course, he's talking to all the American people. You know, what he has to do is bring this country together. He is doing it. He is out there thanking people.

BOYKIN: Give me one example, one example.

BURNETT: All right.

LORD: The speech that he's been giving.

BOYKIN: Oh, yeah, yeah.

BURNETT: Thank you both.

And next, Electoral College voters getting death threats, hundreds of harassing letters in one day, the message, "Don't vote Trump." Is it working? They do vote this weekend. And Michelle Obama coming out swinging in a new interview today with Oprah Winfrey.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U. S. FIRST LADY: Now we're feeling what not having hope feels like.



[19:31:53] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, First Lady Michelle Obama opening up for the first time after the election really in a heart to heart interview with Oprah Winfrey and she said the election of President-elect Donald Trump has erased the feeling of hope. It's a pretty stunning thing to say. Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First Lady Michelle Obama candid in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, giving voice to what many Democrats may be feeling after the election.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Now, we're feeling what not having hope feels like.

JOHNS: Reflecting on the catch word that helped propel her husband into office, and whether his administration gave the country the hope he promised.

OBAMA: He and I and so many believe, what else do you have if you don't have hope?


OBAMA: What do you give your kids if you can't give them hope?

I feel that Barack has been that for the nation in ways that people will come to appreciate? Having a grown up in the White House who can say to you in times of crisis and turmoil, hey, it is going to be OK.

Let's remember the good things that we have. Let's look at the future. Let's look at all of the things that we're building.

JOHNS: Once a reluctant campaigner, what she's saying today a far cry from 2008.

OBAMA: Hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time until my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well. But because I think people are hungry for change.

JOHNS: Eight years later, she was perhaps the most popular surrogate for Hillary Clinton.

OBAMA: Our motto is: when they go low, we go high.

JOHNS: Powerful speeches, but not enough to put the Democrat over the top.

OBAMA: Here is where I want to get real: if Hillary doesn't win this election, that will be on us.

JOHNS: The first lady's interview --

OBAMA: What do we do if we don't have hope?"

JOHNS: -- coming at a time she's been out of the spotlight, making few public comments since the election.

OBAMA: We are ready to work with the next administration and make sure that they are as successful as they can be, because that's what's best for this country.

JOHNS: And with just over a month left in the White House, the first lady has mixed emotions about leaving, telling "Vogue", "I'm going miss waking up to this, having access any time I want. But on the flip side, it's time."


JOHNS: And, apparently, Mrs. Obama, despite a bit of prompting from the Democrats, has no interest in returning to the White House on her own terms. With her sky high approval ratings, she has been encouraged to consider running for president herself one day but her regular answer to that has been she's not interested -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Joe Johns, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now, Kate Andersen Brower, the author of "First Women." She was also assigned to cover the first lady for Bloomberg. And, April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.

Thanks to both.

April, let me start with you. You covered the first lady. You covered her extensively. What did she mean? You know, at a moment like this when there are so many people who feel despair over this election, but so many who feel euphoria and excitement over this election. What did she mean when she said about it that now, she knows what it feels like to not have hope?

[19:35:05] APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: Well, you know this first lady first of all is real and she's authentic and she speaks her mind. She doesn't sugar-coat. And I think that is a lot of her allure. And a lot of why people just think she has some kind of special juice.

But when she says that there's no hope, there are a lot of people in the nation, particularly the base that supported the Obamas, supported this president to become president twice. There is a big concern within the base that much of what they have done, efforts to help bridge the racial divide in almost every category will be overturned and that is one of the pieces when she's talking about hope.

BURNETT: So, Kate, that may be the case but the first lady is very strategic, right? No doubt that's what she meant. But I mean strategic in the sense that she knows people are listening, right? She knows it has impact. Millions and millions of people are going to watch that interview and she didn't make this comment off the cuff.

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN": I think April's right that it's about expressing empathy for like-minded people in the way the president really can't do, and she's also very relatable. And I've spoken with East Wing aides just talking about how East Wing is reel really the heart and the West Wing is the head.

So, Michelle Obama can talk in an emotional way a little more honestly and she almost reminds me of someone like Betty Ford, who is incredibly outspoken. But she was much more outspoken than Michelle Obama. I mean, she was talking about being pro-choice when her husband was not pro-choice.

I mean, Michelle Obama still does sort of act like the confines of a first lady. She's fairly traditional first lady, but she does manage to occasionally surprise people by being very open and very honest.

BURNETT: Yes, let me just play again, April, exactly this exchange between Oprah and the first lady. Here it is.


WINFREY: The election was all about hope. Do you think that this administration achieved that?

OBAMA: Yes. I do, because we feel the difference now.


OBAMA: See, now, we're feeling what not having hope feels like.


BURNETT: So, April, what could be the takeaway from this. I mean, her approval ratings are in the sixties and she may or maintain care about that. That obviously means a lot of people approve of her and like her who don't necessarily agree with her politics. Does she damage that by making a comment like she made there, which seemed so openly negative about Donald Trump?

RYAN: It all depends on cha side of the spectrum you sit or view it from. You know, people who supported President Barack Obama somewhat understood where he was coming from. They understood that he was a president, whether he said it or not, it was about inclusion, inclusiveness. And now, we're going to a time where we hear things about, you know, maybe having a registry, or if that is the case. Or not even necessarily a registry, but trying to figure out how we protect our nation by blocking those who want to come in. Be it Muslim. Be it Mexicans, be it whomever.

So, we are now going back to a time where we have to really consider who we are. How we are, and is this really who we want to be in 2017.

I mean, we've seen this years and years ago. And we are going back to a situation of profiling, issues of profiling. You know, President- elect Donald Trump said law and order. And law and order for him means stop and frisk, which is essential profiling. So, are we going back o a time that we once saw? That's the big question.

BURNETT: You know, Kate, she's doing something though that the president himself went do, right? He's not going to come out and say this is not what not having hope feels like. He's not going to do that. He's being directed in other ways. I'll be surprised. Maybe he will. But he certainly hasn't at to this point. People are looking for a leader of the Democratic Party desperately,

because he's going pass that mantle on, he's made that clear. A lot of people want it to be her. Look at that approval rating. She was asked this. Here is what she said.


OBAMA: I will not run for president. No. No. Not going to do it.

There is so much that I can do outside of the White House. And sometimes there is much more that you can do outside of the White House.


BURNETT: Kate, could you change her mind?

BROWER: I don't think that she will. She could. President Obama has said there are three things that are certain in life, death, taxes and Michelle is never running for president. I really don't think she wants to. I think she's disgusted with the way that Washington works.

I think they'll do something with, you know, like the Carter Center has done and maybe a less controversial Clinton Foundation, something melding the humanitarian issues with urban issues like they care deeply about, like My Brother's Keeper Initiative.


BROWER: Things like that. I would be curious to see if they get into gun control or something slightly more controversial like that.

[19:40:04] But I think she'll feel liberated now to speak her mind even more. She really hasn't been able to talk that much about issues like gun control, as first lady. And so, I think that we could see them doing something like with the Carters have done, which has been extraordinary. So, something in the humanitarian realm.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, both of you.

And next, death threats against Electoral College voters as they prepare to vote on Monday. We're going to talk to one man who got 600 letters in one day, 600 letters in one day, telling him not to vote Trump.

And Russian millionaires and billionaires trying to snap up luxury homes across the United States because of this special relationship between Putin and Trump.


BURNETT: Tonight, death threats against Electoral College voters who cast their ballots on Monday and officially made Donald Trump president. One pro-Trump elector got 600 letters just today, just today, telling him not to vote Trump.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.


MICHAEL BANERIAN, MICHIGAN ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTER: So, this one came in a day before the election. "Hey, blank head, I'll find you and put a bullet in your fat blanking mouth."

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Death threats fill Michigan elector Michael Banerian's social media accounts.

BANERIAN: So, this is a tweet I received.

[19:45:00] It has a picture of a noose on it.

[FLORES: His mailbox packed with commands coming from around the country. 2,000 just this week he says.

BANERIAN: Oregon, Oklahoma, Washington states.

FLORES: The mailman even interrupting our interview to deliver another 600 letters, all calling on him not to vote for Donald Trump. Something Banerian, along with Michigan's 15 other electors, pledge to do, regardless of the pressures.

BANERIAN: I've had death wishes. People just saying I hope you die. Do society a favor. Throw yourself in front of a bus.

And just recently, I was reading a blog about me. And, unfortunately, these people not only called for the burning of myself but my family, which is completely out of the line.

FLORES: Banerian has no choice. Michigan state law keeps him from changing his vote. Electors and 27 other states and District of Columbia also have faithless elector laws. But in 26 states, electors can go rogue. Anti-Trump groups are not letting up, posting the names and addresses of 283 electors on the Internet, encouraging people across to country to write the electors, asking they vote against Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe I'm going to cast my vote for an alternative Republican.

FLORES: The group Hamilton Electors is leading the charge to block Trump from 270 electoral votes. They say at least 20 electors are on board. But they need 37 for the election to go through the House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican members of the Electoral College, this message is for you.

FLORES: Hollywood stars are pushing for an alternate ending as well, releasing this video.

RICHARD SCHIFF, ACTOR: By voting your conscience, you and other brave Republican electors can give the House of Representatives the option to select a qualified candidate. FLORES: But that's never happened before. And Banerian says his vote

won't help this year be the first.

BANERIAN: It's utter hypocrisy because I don't think if the role was reversed, most of these people would be OK with electors being faithless and voting for anyone other than Hillary Clinton had she won.


FLORES: Now, the pressure on electors is mounting and some of them are really starting to feel the heat not just because of the piles of letters that they're getting at home, but also because of what Donald Trump is doing. Hear this, CNN talking to one elector who says that she's been a Donald Trump supporters from the get go. But now, she's worried he's not going to deliver on his promises, like building the border wall on the south side border. But now, she's also worried that she's between a rock and a hard place because she says, quote, "that if she doesn't vote for Trump, she could be under the thumb of the transition team" which could mean being banished by the party -- Erin.

BURNETT: Both sides, threats to vote.

Thank you so much, Rosa.

And OUTFRONT now, Mark Preston, our executive political editor.

Mark, you know, when it comes to that man, that Rosa profiled in that piece, it is pretty disgusting what's happening to him. It is disgusting. It is awful. And it is obscene.

Shouldn't someone high up in the Democratic Party step up and say, "Enough, Trump won, it's not going change, behave yourselves like adults, have some respect, let's move on"?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Let's move forward. Let's not look backwards.

You know, there is nothing like a lot of Hollywood folks telling you what you should do, you know, when you look at what happened this past election and how much Middle America was so frustrated, Erin, with the elite, the party elite and, of course, Hollywood for the Democratic Party represents that. But to your point, there is nobody in the Democratic Party right now that is an actual leader. There's nobody that you can actually look up.

Barack Obama is on his way out the door and the party right now needs to find who their next generation of Democrats are going to be.

BURNETT: Yes. And I guess, you know, it seems like Michelle Obama doesn't want to be that person at this point. But she is sort of the de facto next leader.

All right. Mark Preston, thank you.

PRESTON: Thanks.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, most Americans can't afford them but one very wealthy group of people wants to snatch up luxury apartments in New York City. And it could be because of the Trump/Putin friendship.

And Jeanne Moos assures us that no one was seriously injured in the making of this story.


[19:51:30] BURNETT: Tonight, a surge in calls from Russians who want to buy homes in the United States. Realtors tell us they are saying a lot more interest since Donald Trump won.

Brynn Gingras has tonight's "Big Number."


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Central Park West, prime and New York City real estate, and now more than ever, properties with those addresses are tracking the eyes of particular group of buyers, Russians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's a trophy property.

GINGRAS: There interest, primarily in luxury high rises, like this apartment which boosts three bedrooms, high end finishes, its own private elevator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't want a neighbor on the same floor.

GINGRAS: And stunning views for a $12.7 million price tag.

High end properties across the U.S. have always attracted the eye of the Russian rich, but in recent years, buying stalled, as western countries, including the U.S., imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine. But times have changed.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: It wouldn't be bad to get along with Russia, right? It wouldn't be bad.

GINGRAS: President-elect Donald Trump hasn't been shy about his warm approach toward, Russia.

TRUMP: I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so.

GINGRAS: Edward Mermelstein, an attorney who facilitates foreign real estate purchases in the U.S. says investors are listening.

EDWARD MERMELSTEIN, ATTORNEY, ONE & ONLY HOLDINGS: They see Trump as someone who is open to conversation that was lacking for the last couple of years, and someone who opens the door where the door was shut for so many years.

GINGRAS: The trickle down effect from Trump's win felt almost immediately in the real estate market. Industry global consulting group Knight Frank estimates the number of Russian buyers interested in U.S. properties spiked 35 percent following the election.

JULIETTE JANSSENS, SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY: It seems in the past couple of weeks it's really picked up. It's hard to say. I mean, multiple times a week, we're dealing with Russian buyers.

GINGRAS: Right now, the real estate interest waits to see if interest turns to purchase and if more Russians will soon call America home or at least a second home.

MERMELSTEIN: I think after January 20th is when we'll start seeing whether this friendly posture is real or not. And there is a lot of optimism on the other side of the planet hoping that it is real.


BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos with the courageous television anchor who refuses to let pretty much anything stop her.


[19:57:37] BURNETT: On live TV, anything can happen at any moment. The simplest of segments can go awry. And you probably get great pleasure out of it. But that's not always so much.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was called a rough stretch. For those who make a living on live TV. On KTTV's "Good Day L.A.", they had come to the grand finale of their hot holiday gift segment.


MOOS: Ready for disaster as anchor Lisa Breckenridge positions herself on a $1,000 electric scooter.


MOOS: Studio road kill, as the studio version of "Silent Night" played on.


MOOS: To make sure she was OK, Lisa went to the hospital.

But the anchor who crashed isn't the only one attracting eyeballs. Lisa posted a photo of herself giving a thumb's up longest a paramedic. The website TMZ wrote, "All's well that ends with a hot firefighter, right?" And the firefighter Instagrammed, "They called me 'hot'. Lol."

Meanwhile, some Canadian sportscasters found themselves in hot water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A back up goaltender saying --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There goes a piece of the roof on live television. On live television, the studio just fell apart.

MOOS: A close call, but no injuries. Lisa described her injuries as just swollen and bruised and slight head injury.

She just missed slamming into a TV and hit the barriers and knocked over a second TV. The owner of Root 66, the store that loaned out the scooter told CNN it has awesome brakes, if only she used them.

He also said, if you Googled Lisa Breckenridge, she falls down a lot.

We did and she does. The thing about Lisa, she gets back up and back on.

Jeanne Moos, CNN New York.


BURNETT: She is impressive and a good sport and tough.

All right. Thanks so much for joining us. Have a great weekend.

"AC360" starts right now.