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A Dire Warning; Electoral College's Chooses the Next President; Trapped By War. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired December 18, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

We begin with a dire warning from prominent republican Senator John McCain, telling our Jake Tapper that Russian hacks aimed at influencing the U.S. election threatened quote, "to destroy democracy." Also, McCain saying the existing world order as we know it may be crumbling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: What's happening here when we see the seizure of the ships, when we see that the cyber-attacks, when we see the dismemberment of Syria, when we see the tragedies that are taking place there, which are heartbreaking, which are absolutely heartbreaking, while we sat by and watched all this happen, this is a -- this is the sign of a possible unraveling of the world order that was established after World War II, which has made one of the most peaceful periods in fact, the history of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: McCain his comments come at a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows half of Americans are quite concerned by news that Russian hackers tried at least to influenced the U.S. election. I should note there is a sharp partisan divide evidence in this poll, 86 percent of democrats say they're concerned about that hacking, 29 percent of republicans say the same.

But most Americans do not believe the Russian hacking, in fact, swayed the outcome of the election.

Tomorrow, as you well know, 538 members of the Electoral College meet formally to select the nation's next president. Remember, those electors are not constitutionally bound to follow the will of the people they represent. Meaning, the way you voted in the election and the way your state went, they don't have to vote that way, though they almost always do.

Some Electoral College members they are being pressured to go rogue and become so-called faithless electors.

Right now, President-elect Trump is projected to have 306 Electoral College votes. Two hundred seventy are needed to win.

I do want to begin with Senator McCain's ominous warning note. Joining me now is CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson, host of the Ben Ferguson radio show, and Basil Smikle, a CNN political consultant and former staffer for then-Senator Hillary Clinton. He's also an elector for the state of New York.

(CROSSTALK)

BASIL SMIKLE, CNN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: In New York.

HARLOW: Thank you both for being here, gentlemen.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to be here.

HARLOW: Ben, let me begin with you. You heard what Senator McCain called for this morning in the interview with Jake Tapper, calling for a select committee to investigate the Russian hacking. It's not just him. I mean, republican Senator Lindsey Graham, democrat Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid are broadening that call for select committee to investigate.

FERGUSON: Yes.

HARLOW: President-elect Trump has not called for that, instead he has questioned the voracity of U.S. intelligence on the Russian hacking, to date; he has not said or tweeted one negative thing about Russian President Vladimir Putin. What do you make of that and why do you think that is?

FERGUSON: Well, I think there are two parts to this story. One is I think people on Capitol Hill understand that how serious it is when any country hacks into this country. But there is also the second part of this. And that is, many people have tried to use this hack to somehow imply that Donald Trump wasn't elected in a free and fair election. That somehow, Russia hand picked him, chose him, to be the next president, which is absolutely not true. So I can understand...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Who is making that assertion?

FERGUSON: Well, a lot of democrats have.

HARLOW: Who is making that assumption?

FERGUSON: A lot of democrats. I mean, look around at how many people were saying, Hillary Clinton -- obviously, Donald Trump was picked by Vladimir Putin. Look at how many democrats apparently have said, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: So, I'll have Basil -- I'll have Basil address that in a moment. I think my direct question to you is why the next president of the United States hasn't said one thing condemning the Russian hacking affecting our democracy, politics aside.

FERGUSON: Because I think he saw the politics of this playing out. And he understands that he is elected to be president. When he gets in there, I'm sure he is going to do whatever Congress wants to do on this issue and investigate.

He hasn't said it that shouldn't be investigated. I don't think he was going to take the bait and somehow get into some sort of match or political fight with democrats who are somehow trying to imply that he wasn't elected in free and fair election.

HARLOW: So when he came out this weekend condemning China for stealing the U.S. drone...

FERGUSON: Yes.

HARLOW: .. and clearly talked about China, you don't think it's odd that he hasn't said a word about Russia and evidence from U.S. intelligence that they hacked?

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: Yes, that is odd.

FERGUSON: I don't think -- I don't think -- I think it's odd that democrats come out, Poppy, and they actually act as if Russia hand- picked Donald Trump to be the president, when the fact is, he won an election, and Hillary Clinton lost an election. There should be an...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: It's not -- it's not an answer to my question. But I have to get Basil in here.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I answered the question. You don't like the answer.

HARLOW: basil, to you, let's get to Ben's point. That -- this is not true, Ben. Come on, you come on the show all the time. It's not that. I was asking you if you think it's odd that he hasn't address. But let's move on. There is a lot more to get to.

[17:05:00] Basil, this weekend, to Ben's point, let's listen to what Hillary Clinton said about the hack and her personally.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER UNITE STATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Vladimir Putin himself directed the covert cyber-attacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me.

(END VOICE CLIP)

HARLOW: Some critics have pointed to that, Basil, and said, look, she is suggesting the voting machines were hacked. There is no evidence of that. Some see her as suggesting that.

More broadly, they see her as sort of pointing a finger to Russia just as Ben was saying, and saying, this is why I lost the election. Not the fact that she didn't go to Wisconsin once at all during the general, or these other issues. How do you see it?

SMIKLE: Well, I think on the latter point that, there's going to be a lot of finger pointing. There is going to be a lot of conversation about what the campaign should and should not have done.

But the fact is that, they're, you know -- those of us that are going to vote tomorrow as part of the Electoral College are heartbroken about this. Because we will vote for her, particularly here in New York, but we know that she didn't lose.

And we are upset about it but we have to accept it and move on. And quite soothe to the point about to the point about the Russian hack. You know, there is evidence to suggest that it came from the highest levels of the government.

And it did have an impact on the narrative of Hillary Clinton's campaign and candidacy going into those last few weeks and months. So, there's no question...

HARLOW: But to Ben's point, are democrats using it, perhaps, too much, giving Vladimir Putin perhaps too much credit in the outcome of this election?

SMIKLE: No. Well, I don't think they're giving him too much credit. But I also don't think they're making too much of -- or we're making too much of it. It's extraordinary that it seems that this individual, that Vladimir Putin has -- doesn't like Hillary Clinton. That seems to be pretty clear. It's also clear that only the democratic e-mails were -- if the republican e-mails were hacked, we don't know or maybe we do, but we know that the democratic once...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Which the RNC said -- has said time and time again that they were not.

SMIKLE: That has -- that they weren't. But we do know that the democratic e-mails were hacked, and they were released. So there was a clear intention that he's to disrupt...

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: But here's the point.

SMIKLE: ... what was happening on the democratic side.

FERGUSON: I get -- let me say this, so.

HARLOW: OK, guys. I want you both -- so, I want you to both to listen to this, Ben. Listen to this. You can answer after. Listen to how Reince Priebus addressed this this morning when he was asked about it on Fox News Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: This whole thing is a spin job, and I think what the democrats ought to do is look in the mirror and face the reality that they lost the election and they lost the election because they're so and completely out of touch with the American people. That they're still shell shocked and they can't believe it. And what is their response? Recounts, Russians, leaked CIA reports.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: At the same time, as you know, guys, CIA Director John Brennan put out this statement at the end of the week and said, look, I, the head of the FBI, the head of, you know, the director of National Intelligence, were all on the same page of this, as to the scope and the intent. Ben?

FERGUSON: Look, I think the intent was to gain as much information as they possibly could when they decided to hack in the DNC. And probably, Russia went after many other people many other times in the U.S. They may not have been successful.

But here's the part that I find fascinating about Hillary Clinton's comments and other Hillary Clinton supporters. The Russians did not write John Podesta's e-mails. They did not write e-mails that showed corruption, even when they were doing everything they could to make sure that Bernie Sanders didn't even get a fair shake in the primary. Those e-mails...

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: No, no. That's not...

FERGUSON: ... hat hurt her -- let me finish. Let me finish. The e- mails that hurt Hillary Clinton and hurt her on the issues of trustworthiness were 74 percent of democrats in the primaries who said they had a problem with Hillary Clinton on the issue of trust.

The e-mails that hurt her in this election were written by her own staffers and those around her campaign. The Russians didn't do that. So, if Hillary Clinton is mad or democrats are mad, they should look at their own e-mails.

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: No.

HARLOW: Ben, I mean, guys, I just want to get back on topic here. And you know, this is the president-elect. Whether you like it or whether you don't. This is also American democracy under attack by a foreign actor, an aggressive foreign actor in Russia led by Vladimir Putin. That's what we're talking about here. Not the politics of it.

FERGUSON: Sure. But it hasn't... (CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: And it is shameful...

FERGUSON: There hasn't been one -- we should investigate this.

SMIKLE: It is shameful that Donald Trump hasn't spoken to this.

FERGUSON: We should investigate it. Every -- that's why you have so many republicans on the Hill lining up, saying, that we should investigate this. This should be...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: So, instead of tweeting that...

SMIKLE: But is the president-elect saying that?

HARLOW: Instead of tweeting that, ben, because I and think most of America agrees with you that this should be investigated. Instead of tweeting that or saying that, here is what the president-elect just tweeted within the last five minutes.

"If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned and called terrible names. No one should be threatened for voting as they see fit, as they see their moral duty as an elector."

[17:10:02] Why not tweet though about Russia or condemn Putin? Or call for or say, I'm on board with this select committee suggestion from some of my fellow republicans? Instead, why tweet this, Ben?

FERGUSON: Well, I think -- I think because what he just said was a valid point about the threatening that's happening of those that are going to cast their vote the way that it went with Donald Trump winning.

And his point is, there is a double standard. I don't think Donald Trump has to tweet about every single issue when other republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: But he does.

FERGUSON: ... republicans in his leadership are out there. And they're going to come out in Congress and investigate this. You also have not heard...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: And he tweets about that Saturday Night Live...

SMIKLE: But he tweets about everything.

HARLOW: ... and he hasn't tweeted one thing condemning...

SMIKLE: Exactly.

HARLOW: ... Russian hacking.

FERGUSON: So, the one thing said about Donald Trump is, Donald Trump is not going to tweet out everything I want him to say or you want him to say or anybody else. But he also, no one in his campaign has said that there should be an investigation into those hacking with Russia. So, let's look at what republicans have to say.

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: That's the case, Basil. That...

SMIKLE: Well, listen, and first of all, I want to go back to this point, nobody is threatening. The Democratic Party and democrats are not threatening them to change their votes.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: There are a lot of people threatening.

SMIKLE: A lot of people but it's not a party issue.

HARLOW: Some electors have been -- no, Basil. Basil, point of fact here, some electors threatened as of Rosa Flores' reporting. It has happened.

SMIKLE: And quite frankly, people have called and written to me and asking me to change my vote. But that's not -- that the party is not doing that. I just want to be clear about that.

That said, look, Donald Trump tweets about, as you said earlier, tweets about everything. The fact that he has not tweeted about this, the fact that he hasn't talked about it is somewhat concerning to me. Because even -- and it's not -- and it's not about democrats not accepting the final outcome. Of course we are. As heartbroken as we are, as we were about it, there is an acceptance there. No question about it.

HARLOW: All right.

SMIKLE: But if Ronald Reagan were alive, he would not let this go quietly. And I don't think Donald Trump should either.

HARLOW: I have to leave it there. Guys, thank you very much. You'll both be back. Ben and Basil, I appreciate it.

FERGUSON: Yes.

SMIKLE: Thank you.

HARLOW: Next, we're focusing very closely on the horror in Syria. Evacuations postponed for thousands of desperate civilians trapped in the Syrian city of Aleppo. We have a live report ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: At least 10 people are dead at a popular historic tourist site in Jordan. Officials in the country tonight calling it a terrorist attack.

[17:14:57] This is the middle of a gun battle between police in southern Jordan and still an unknown number of attackers who witnesses say opened fire on the police and visitors, including some foreigners.

At least one tourist, a woman from Canada, we know was killed. This incident is not over. Security forces are still clearing the area. They are unsure if any of the attackers are still there. Officials don't know who is responsible or what their motivations are at this point.

This is alarming because it is not a type of attack that is frequent in Jordan. This is pretty rare. And it's significant that the authorities are calling it a terrorist attack. We of course are standing by for more details and will bring them as soon as we have them.

Meantime, in Syria, where the already desperate humanitarian situation is getting worse by the hour. This is why the evacuation mission to get thousands of families and children out of the Aleppo is called off once again. It is just too dangerous, authorities say.

In fact, somebody set a few of these evacuation busses today on fire. That means many people will be forced to sleep on the streets or in bombed out buildings or freezing for yet another night. Syrian troops have almost completely retaken Aleppo after four years of rebel control.

But the civilians who once found safe haven there are caught in the middle of the fighting. CNN's Muhammad Lila is on the border between Syria and Turkey. You've spoken with some of the people who have managed to escape, also speaking with some people still trapped inside Aleppo. What are they facing tonight?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the conditions are extremely difficult. It's a very cold night, below freezing in some cases. These are people who have nothing but the clothes on their back and maybe a blanket. They're sleeping outdoors in basically not just a war zone but a place that's been decimated by air strikes.

And it's worth noting that it's actually people on both sides that are starving. I mean, one of the reasons why this evacuation plan didn't go ahead today was because it was supposed to be a swap. There were a couple of towns that have been under a rebel siege. The civilians in those towns were supposed to be released as part of this agreement. But they weren't released because the busses that were sent to collect them were set on fire.

So unfortunately, as this political and military game continues to play out and the sides continue to fight, you have civilians on both sides who are going through another night in the freezing cold, not knowing if they're going to have enough food tomorrow and not knowing if they are going to be rescued tomorrow and get somewhere closer to safety.

HARLOW: Let's take a look at this picture. It is stunning. This is a little boy sitting among the ruins in Aleppo, clutching a bag of stuffed animals. All alone. And its pictures like these that as you know speak a thousand words. Is aid able to get to these children, the children who need it most? I mean, if these evacuations have been halted yet again, are the aid convoys even reaching them?

LILA: Well, from what we understand, no, the aid convoys are not reaching into eastern Aleppo. We know there have been attempts from some foreign aid groups from Turkey next door, from other NGO's, even the U.N. has been talking about it.

No one at this point has been able to guarantee safe passage to humanitarian convoys to get to the eastern part of Aleppo. Those last few neighborhoods where the rebels are still holding out. So it's a very precarious situation.

I mean, look, these are people who have been bombed relentlessly for several weeks, several months now, in fact. They literally have nothing left. They've been talking about this for a long time. They could starve, they could freeze. And there just isn't a safe humanitarian corridor established yet to get help to them.

HARLOW: It is stunning. Muhammad Lila reporting for us from the border. Thank you very much.

For ways that all of you can help just go to cnn.com/impact, again, cnn.com/impact.

Coming up, made in the USA. The president-elect wants companies like Apple to bring their jobs and their factories back to this country, but what are you willing to spend on your new iPhone to make that happen? We break it down next.

[17:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration will follow two very simple rules. Buy American and hire American.

(CROWD CHEERING)

And we're going to go back to the old days. We're going back to the old days. Remember? Made in the USA. You remember?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Back to the old days. That is the promise and the pledge from the president-elect. What would it actually mean? President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants Apple, for example, to start making iPhones here in the United States. It sounds great. But what would it actually mean for you and for the cost of your iPhone? And frankly, would you be willing to pay up?

Our Dan Simon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Apple, Apple, Apple. Boycott Apple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is one of candidate Trump's main target on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Boycott Apple until they do it. Boycott them. Who cares?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: First, blasting the company for refusing to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Give me a break. Why wouldn't they want to do it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Trump then turned his sights to Apple's overseas manufacturing. Saying this at nearly every campaign rallies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to have Apple building their product in the United States. Not in China, Vietnam and all over. And believe me, if I'm president, it's going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: But analysts call that highly unlikely. For starters, consumers would probably pay a lot more for their next iPhone. Estimates vary but perhaps double the amount. An iPhone 7 starting at $650 could go for $1300 or more. Apple's top manufacturer is the Taiwanese manufacturer, Foxconn with factories all over China.

Workers there get paid roughly $400 a month to assemble iPhones. But in the U.S., workers would make a minimum of nearly $1,000 a month, at least double the wages of a Chinese laborer, costs that would be absorb by consumers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM BAJARIN, ANALYST: That price of an iPhone or whatever it is would go up exponentially.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: And technology analyst Tim Bajarin says any job gains would be eroded over time with robots, not people building the phones. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAJARIN: I would argue that any job that has a lot of repetitive tasks, it is going to move to robotics over the next 10 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Apple design its products in the U.S. but Bajarin says at least 80 percent of its raw supplies also come from overseas. Which makes building an iPhone in America seem even more impractical.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: But they say Apple, is that wonderful? but they make everything outside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: While Trump recently told Time magazine that he challenged Apple to build its biggest plant yet in the U.S. instead of China, the company points out its technology is directly responsible for widespread job creation in the U.S. from its engineers and retail employees to app developers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[17:25:05] TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: We've created 1.9 million jobs now in the United States. And we have tens of millions of customers who use our products. We work for them. And we love deeply our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: But Trump's criticism may be having an impact. Foxconn says it's in talks to expand its presence in the U.S.

HARLOW: That was Dan Simon reporting. Let's dig deeper on all of this in the big picture. Betsy Woodruff is with me, she is politics reporter for the Daily Beast. Thanks for joining us.

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICAL REPORTER: Sure. Thanks.

HARLOW: Let's listen to what Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said about this exact issue when he was on 60 Minutes last year. Because he talks about the reason, at least part of the reason, obviously a big of it is cost. But another part of the reason why a lot of their products are manufactured in China, he says part of it has nothing to do with cheap labor. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOK: China put an enormous focus on manufacturing in what we would call -- you and I would call vocational kind of skills. I mean, you can take any tool and -- tool dye maker in the United States and probably put them in the room we're currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He's saying they have more of the talent that is needed for certain parts of manufacturing. Does he have a point?

WOODRUFF: I think it's a valid point, yes. These questions of people having the skills necessary to do these particular jobs is certainly an issue here in the U.S. not just in terms of tool and dye questions, but overall in the science field.

There are reports that one of the conversation topics that came up last week when that table full of tech leaders met with President Trump was the question of stem education. Are American students getting the kind of science, technology, engineering education they need so that they can compete on a global scale?

That's part of the broad consensus is that American kids aren't competitive in that particular sector. And so, yes, it certainly seems like Cook has a point here. That when it comes to the American work force there are certain skills that just aren't here.

HARLOW: Or aren't here in droves as they are right there or elsewhere.

WOODRUFF: Exactly.

HARLOW: Donald Trump, as you know, on the camp -- I mean, this was his mantra. Jobs, jobs, jobs, bring them back. You heard it last night go back to the old days. But when you look at the actuality of the world we're living in, with automation, not just globalization but, you know, robots doing what we humans used to do, a recent report from the White House found workers that make right now less than $20 an hour have an 83 percent chance of losing their job to automation. How does any president battle with that reality?

WOODRUFF: It's really tough. And I think one of the biggest things you have to do, again, is to focus on stem education so that American kids will have the skills necessary to compete for these high-skill jobs. And this competition with robotics isn't just a problem in the U.S.

We also actually see in some cases Chinese workers losing jobs because of expanding robotics competition, for instance. There is one -- one of Foxconn's massive factories in China earlier this year eliminated upwards of 60,000 jobs because they brought in more robotics.

HARLOW: Right.

WOODRUFF: Remember, those are workers who were getting paid something like perhaps $30 a day. And even with wages that are that low they can't compete with this growing automization. So that means that a lot of the manufacturing jobs here in the U.S., as there are manufacturing jobs available, they require much more developed skill sets. Much more education.

HARLOW: And Foxconn obviously makes some of the parts of the iPhone. And there are rumors about whether or not they're going to actually open some facilities here and create some jobs here because of the deal that Donald Trump talked about last week with SoftBank.

Quickly reported on a fascinating piece. President-elect Trump's pick of Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. How does that jive with keeping jobs at home?

WOODRUFF: You know, Wilbur Ross is really an interesting case. Because his area of expertise of course is taking businesses that were either bankrupt or on the brink of bankruptcy and getting them to turn around, getting to be competitive again.

That said, Wilbur Ross is not an ideological, America first type guy when it comes to his approach to business. He is, in some cases, one company that he did a takeover, a textile manufacturing company in North Carolina, ended up having some jobs outsourced after he took that company over.

Workers who were left in North Carolina at that factory who lost their jobs became eligible for trade adjustment assistance. That's federal aid that's available to American workers who lose their jobs to globalization.

So, I don't think Wilbur Ross is going to be somebody who is ideological about this in the same way that Trump is. But of course, you know, folks in the business community are going to see that as a good sign.

HARLOW: He also has been, before this, a big proponent of TPP and free trade. He's on a different page than the president-elect on that front. We'll watch. Betsy Woodruff, thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Sure thing.

HARLOW: Coming up, comedian and advocate Jon Stewart. His personal mission to get our 9/11 heroes the medical benefits they deserve.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: The thing I think is so interesting about this is they're seeing diseases other doctors have not seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: It's been a year since Congress passed a spending bill to help pay for the medical expenses of 9/11 first responders. Now, comedian, legendary comedian Jon Stewart is helping to get the word out. This is something that he has been personally passionate about for a really long time.

He held a Facebook live event today at the 9/11 Memorial Museum to raise awareness about the benefits available to first responders killed, their families, obviously, injured or sickened at Ground Zero. He wants to make them aware of what they're entitled to under this 9/11 health and compensation act.

Our Sara Ganim spoke with him and joins me now. This has been a long personal mission for him.

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And why he is speaking out now is because he believes there are 30,000 first responders and other people who came to help in our time of need who may not know that this is available to them now in their time of need.

This is annual monitoring, doctor's visits, prescriptions that are paid for, surgeries that, you know are paid for and other treatments. For many of these people who are suffering from ailments, because of the help that they gave after 9/11.

And you're right, he is very passionate about this. He was very involved in the fight to renew this act in 2015.

HARLOW: Right.

GANIM: And it was a fight, according to him. He talked a lot about that today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GANIM: I mean, what was the frustration?

STEWART: I'm not supposed to curse on CNN, right?

GANIM: Well, you can. But we have editing.

STEWART: You know, it was -- it was an exercise in being appalled. They would literally have to chase down Congress people in the hallways, and they would hide when they knew those guys were coming. I mean, it was - it was outrageous. And these are the same people that tweeting out every year, never forget the heroes of 9/11.

And what these guys witnessed down here was, you know, incomparable in terms of its madness and horror. You know, peace of mind is a big part of navigating these types of ailments and illnesses. Veterans are the same position.

[17:35:14] So, the idea that it was -- that they spend an incredible amount of energy and stress battling their own governments to prove -- I understand, look, everybody doesn't want to worry about waste, fraud and abuse, but I'm not sure this is, you know, let's shift the benefit of the doubt in certain instances like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GANIM: Some of the people who are there today talked about how without this help, they might not be here today. Now, they do have -- this is now secure for the next 74 years. It was a 75-year renewal. Obviously a very serious topic, but, of course, he is the king of people who could speak about serious things and also be funny.

So, we also talked a little about the beard that he is growing.

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: That's also the beard.

GANIM: The Letterman beard, you've been a little bit contests I think with David Letterman, who can -- who can grow more. And I also asked him if there was any job he would take in a Trump administration. He said, of course, no. But he is very happy with what he is doing, and he doesn't miss his show at all, Poppy.

HARLOW: We love, obviously, the new host, and we love him. And he keep making us laugh. Sara, thank you. We appreciate it very much.

Coming up next, Hillary Clinton supporters still struggling to come to grips with the election outcome and hoping for something that is, frankly, virtually impossible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: How many of you, as you sit here today, think that something might happen before inauguration day to change the results?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Tomorrow is the big day for the Electoral College. Its voters will meet in their representative states to make the outcome of the presidential election final.

[17:39:56] Groups opposed to Donald Trump have been trying to convince GOP electors not to vote for the president-elect when they convene. The likelihood of that, well, not likely at all. In fact, it is beyond unlikely.

Saturday Night Live they picked up on the theme last night, inspired by the holiday film "Love Actually."

(MUSIC PLAYING)

I love that. For those of us who went to sleep early last night and that is our first time seeing it, pretty funny. That is parody though. Now to reality.

Our Alisyn Camerota sat down with some Clinton supporters holding out hope for a pretty unrealistic surprise shall we see tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: How many of you as you sit here today think that something might happen before inauguration day to change the results? What do you think, Sonya?.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just leaving it open. You just never know.

CAMEROTA: Anything is possible?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just like I was laying there with my glass of wine, not expecting Pennsylvania to go red. Anything can happen.

CAMEROTA: This is still going to be a surprising election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hoping that, you know, somebody up there is looking down and saying, you know what? This is a law, and you can't break that law. You know, you...

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: What law?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conflict of interest. Hamilton elect -- well, the Hamilton electors, I mean, I think that I'm holding out hope for that.

CAMEROTA: You're holding out hope that the electors will change their minds?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm holding out hope that maybe five, six or seven of the republican electors will change their mind.

CAMEROTA: And just follow that line of logic for me. So, the seven electors change their mind. But that doesn't change the outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it not?

CAMEROTA: ell, unless all of the...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless every single one of the democrats -- I mean, I'm not -- I'm not 100 percent sure. Somebody educate me. I thought that if 10 of the republicans changed their minds...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're thinking of the 10 of the Electoral College people have asked for a briefing by the CIA about the Russian hacking and the Russian involvement in swinging the election. We actually are 2.8 million votes ahead in the real vote, the vote of people voting all over the country.

CAMEROTA: Popular vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't -- I don't call it the popular vote. I call it the vote. There is an Electoral College vote even call that the other vote.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but this is how the founders set it up. I mean, we do abide by the Electoral College. You don't have to like it. if that's how...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm excited about that. Because perhaps the Electoral College... CAMEROTA: ... the jurors...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very excited because maybe the Electoral College will do what Hamilton and the other founding fathers saw as the role of the Electoral College, was just to keep a sociopath from gaining the office of president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If enough effect to bring him to bring him below him 270 they don't have to defect to her, she doesn't reach the threshold, then it goes to the house.

CAMEROTA: Are you pinning your hopes on that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, I don't think there is any hope. I think that he will be sworn in. I also think that there is a big point here, which is that the Electoral College, which Donald Trump won, is really an acreage game. We have this winner who won based on acreage, not on population of this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that doesn't speak at all to why the democrats didn't win Pennsylvania, specifically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not arguing that this is what happened. This is what happened. And we should have run a better game against the acreage issue. But you know, this is something that we all need to think about in terms of whether the Electoral College serves our country when so many people live in urban areas or whether this is a completely outdated mode of election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:45:01] HARLOW: For those Clinton supporters to get their wish, 37 electors would need to switch their vote. Again, that is just not likely. Ninety nine percent of electors have voted as pledged throughout American history as long as the Electoral College has been in place. Well, when the 538 electors cast their votes at noon tomorrow, it's projected Donald Trump will get 306 and Clinton will get 232.

Baoky Vu was the one elector to resign his post after now saying that he could not support Donald Trump. He joins me now from Atlanta. Nice to have you on. Thanks for joining us.

BAOKY VU, REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST: Thank very much for having me on.

HARLOW: What's your reaction of what you just heard from your fellow electors?

VU: Well, I'm certainly am touched by the concerns that they have because this is representative of basically half a country. You got a divided country. The type of discourse that was taken place was not conducive towards bringing the country together.

And I know that when I first initially spoke up, it was because I thought that the comments that were promoted by the candidate was not promoting the ideals of American exceptionalism, which I and others believe in, even on the republican side. Which is the ideals of decency and civility.

HARLOW: So given that, in each state has different rules. In your home state of Georgia, the rule is, if you don't show up tomorrow, which you plan not to do, you're just going to be replaced. You could have shown up and voted against him. You could have voted for Clinton. You could have voted for, frankly, anyone else. Instead, you chose not to. You chose to step aside. Why?

VU: Well, first of all, it's an honor and privilege for me because, certainly, I had the faith and the trust of the state executive committee and the chairman in this regard. I did not want to be a distraction on the Republican Party's message as we were going through the election season.

So, what I noticed, in fact, that many of our elected officials who are running for re-election. They, too, were dragged down by the distraction of having to constantly defend the nominee at the top of the ticket. I didn't want to be that distraction on what we need to do, especially given, you know, the fact that I was sitting here in Georgia.

HARLOW: Let's go back though to -- let's go back a little bit in history, let's go back to the federalist papers. Let's go back to Alexander Hamilton writing about the Electoral College. And he wrote about the goal of the Electoral College is to ensure that, quote, "The office of the president will never fail to the lot of -- will never fall to the lot of any man who is not to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications."

The 12th Amendment does not tie you to vote -- obligate you to vote one way or another. You took this pledge, right? Did you wrestle internally with choosing to resign rather than to follow through and vote for whomever you see most fit to be the next commander in chief?

VU: Yes. Right. So, one of the things I actually said was, you know, my conscious was clear but my soul was being tested. Am I supposed to being tested because as an American, this was not the way we should be carrying on the leadership of the country.

So, when I took that position, then it was an expression of my duties to serve in this body. And I will add that I know many of the electors within the State of Georgia itself, and these are very judicious, competent, patriotic Americans. So, we just happen to be on the wrong side -- on different side of the fence from our democratic counterparts. And I trust that they're going to make the right decision.

HARLOW: What is the right decision?

VU: Well, the right decision comes down to the fact is, do we think that -- and this, I'd like to bring in the bigger picture, which is that the Electoral College was intended to be a safety valve for the American republic.

And I would like to share to the folks who are concerned, the fact that we have to also look at the House and the Senate and other elected leaders to be the ones who also speak out when they see misguided policies. For instance...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Are you saying you want to see it fall to the House?

VU: I'm sorry?

HARLOW: Are you saying you want to see the decision of the next president fall to the House?

VU: Oh, no. I'm saying that we've got different institutions in place that will put a check into the leadership. And I will say this, we've just elected a president, not a king. And so in this republic, we have other bodies, especially...

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: So what's your message -- what's your message then for other republican electors?

VU: Well, I think the message is, make your decision based on your conscience. And if you really believe that this is the change that we need, then we have to abide and, you know, go by your decision.

So, what we have is a very divided country. And I think the role of all of us right now is to find a way, as President Obama has said, and Secretary Clinton is saying, to actually how to find ways to bring the country together because anger is not a solution.

HARLOW: OK. I have 20 seconds left. Ten of your fellow electors, nine democrats and one republican has asked for an intelligence briefing on the Russian hack before they vote or delay until they can get it. Should they have that?

[17:49:58] VU: No, I don't think so. I think we have to move on this. And the fact is, I am concerned about the issues with Russia and the cozying up to Russia. But we have to go with the Electoral College decision.

HARLOW: Baoky Vu, I appreciate having you on. Thanks for the perspective.

VU: Thanks very much.

HARLOW: Coming up, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner reportedly house hunting in Washington, D.C. So where could they be moving? Our Sunlen Serfaty went to look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Luxury real estate is booming in Washington, D.C. right now as the millionaires of the Trump administration prepare to settle in. The president-elect's daughter, Ivanka and her husband Jared, among those reportedly on the hunt for a new home.

Our Sunlen Serfaty reports. SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With the incoming administration,

the nation's capital is getting a boost of new glassy, glamorous and mega-rich residents. Each now on the hunt for a premiere Washington address.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are preparing to move to D.C. with their three young children. Sources tell CNN this past Sunday they were out house shopping in their richly northwest neighborhood of Georgetown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I'm incredibly proud to play a small role in debunking this charecature of what a working woman looks like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: They could go the iconic route snatching up one of the hottest pristine in D.C. Jackie Kennedy Onassis's former 6-bedroom and 5.5 bathroom mansion with a price tag of $9 million. Or just blocks away something more in line with the Manhattan apartment they live in now.

This sprawley penthouse condo is at the Ritz-Carlton residences locking in as the most expensive condo on the market in Washington and nearly $12 million.

But D.C.'s new power couple aren't the only well-heeled headed to Washington in the market for new home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[17:55:01] CHRISTIE-ANNE WEISS, VICE PRESIDENT, TTR SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY: We know that there are new cabinet members searching for real estate already and they are outing about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: Since Election Day, high-end luxury real estate agent say the top echelon of their business is booming at a level not seen during the previous changing-of-the-guards between administrations due to the striking amount of deep-pocketed future White House officials flooding Washington.

Trump's cabinet picks forming a long line of multimillionaires and billionaires already to fork over big bucks and putting the priority on opulent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER RITZERT, VICE PRESIDENT, TTR SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY: The first people who have arrive to have expressed strong preference from luxury properties and turn-key condition and in excellent locations close in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: Among those close neighborhoods that fit the bill the northwest neighborhood of Kalorama where the Obama's will be renting their post-White House home.

The storied Watergate hotel home of some of the luminaries of administrations passed, and the Massachusetts heights neighborhood which post the most expensive home for sale right now in D.C., a lavish $20 million estate.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.

HARLOW: Sunlen, thank you so much for that. We have a lot ahead in the next hour live in the CNN Newsroom.

Electors set to cast their ballot tomorrow. Hear from one man who got 600 letters in one day telling him not to vote for the president- elect. That's next live in the CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Top of the hour. You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

We begin this hour with breaking news in a part of the world that is desperate and dangerous, where innocent people may finally be moving towards relative safety tonight.

[18:00:01] I'm talking about Syria, particularly the war ravaged city of Aleppo. Just in the past few moments, news that the mission to evacuate thousands of families and children out of Aleppo is now back on. That is after several days --