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ISIS Intel Ignored; Trump Tweets on Boosting Nukes; Trump Team Considers a 10 Percent Tariff on Imports; Letters Reveal Angry Trump Tilting At Wind Farms. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 22, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Video of the deadly truck attack in Germany. We're learning the fugitive suspect had been on the radar of authorities for months. Tonight, disturbing details about his terror connections, his travel plans and questions about whether investigators dropped the ball.
Nuclear tweet: the president-elect drops a bombshell on Twitter that raises concerns about nuclear tensions between the U.S. and Russia. And now Trump aides are scrambling to clarify what he said and ease the fallout.
Unprecedented move: CNN has learned why Donald Trump issued a tweet on a hot button issue for Israel, putting him at odds with President Obama. Stand by for details on an overseas appeal to the president- elect and the drama that it's causing at the United Nations.
An unhappy meal: new allegations that some Chicago area McDonald's restaurants are ripping off customers by promoting an extra value meal that is anything but a value. Tonight, disgruntled cheeseburger fans are going to court.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news this hour. We are getting our first glimpse of the Christmas market attack as it was unfolding. Dashcam video showing the truck barreling into a Berlin square and people running for their lives.
Police now say they found the prime suspect's fingerprints in that truck as they launch new raids across Germany in a desperate manhunt to find him. Tonight, there's new evidence that the suspect, Anis Amri, was on the radar of German and U.S. intelligence months before the attack, raising questions about warning signs that were missed.
Investigative files obtained by CNN revealed Amri had ties to an ISIS recruitment cell and had previously talked about launching an attack in Germany. We're also learning that he prepared to travel to join ISIS in Syria last year.
Also breaking: CNN has learned that the Israeli government reached out to President-Elect Donald Trump, urging him to weigh in on a U.N. Security Council resolution to condemn Israeli settlement activity. A senior official saying that Israel had no choice but to appeal to Trump after failing to persuade the Obama administration to veto the measure.
In a tweet, Trump publicly urged Mr. Obama to reject the U.N. resolution, an unprecedented move.
Also tonight, the Trump transition team is trying to clarify the president-elect's position on nuclear weapons, after he declared the U.S. must strengthen and expand its nuclear capability. Trump's tweet came just hours after a similar remark by Russia's Vladimir Putin, raising the specter of a nuclear standoff.
Tonight aides say that Trump was actually talking about preventing nuclear proliferation, especially by terrorists and rogue regimes. Our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by as we bring you full coverage of the day's top stories. First to CNN's Erin McLaughlin, she is live for us in Berlin with more on the terror investigation -- Erin.
ERIC MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, today there were police raids in cities across Germany. There was even a raid on a bus to the south and a raid as far north as coastal Denmark. So far, though, no significant arrests, as authorities are coming under increasing pressure to find the main suspect, Anis Amri, and bring him to justice.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Tonight, CNN has learned police had been tracking for months the man they suspect of mowing down 12 and injuring scores, compiling hundreds of pages of intelligence.
A police informant said Anis Amri had, quote, "spoken several times about committing attacks."
Raids continue tonight across Germany for the most wanted man in Europe. Investigators say they found Amri's fingerprints on the door of the truck used in the deadly attack, adding to their confidence that he carried it out. As more is discovered about Amri's background are his links to radical Islamists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have additional indication that the suspect is the attacker. In the driver's cab, we found fingerprints and there are additional indications to support this.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The lengthy investigative file connects Amri directly to a terror cell in Germany. Other members of the group also talked of carrying out attacks, including driving a truck full of gasoline and loaded with a bomb into a crowd.
The five men connected to the cell, including a close friend of Amri, were arrested in November and charged with terrorism offenses.
Two of Amri's brothers say that before he left Tunisia as a teenager, he was a very different person. He drank alcohol and didn't pray. They say they believed he changed while in prison in Italy. Amri served a four-year sentence there for setting fire to a refugee center and other violent offenses.
When released early in 2015, Italian authorities tried to send him back to Tunisia but officials there refused to let him back in --
MCLAUGHLIN: -- citing improper documentation. Instead, he moved to Germany where he connected with an ISIS recruiting network.
This year, he was arrested for trying to travel to Italy with fake documents. Police were also aware of his attempts to obtain a gun. The German efforts to deport him back to Tunisia also failed and a judge ordered him set free.
Tonight, German officials fear several people could have been involved in Monday's attack. Despite all that authorities know about Amri, he remains on the run, likely armed and dangerous.
MCLAUGHLIN: And the Christmas market, the scene of the attack, reopened this morning. As you can see, even at this late hour, people are still gathering there at a small makeshift memorial. They're laying flowers and lighting candles in an incredible act of solidarity to remember the dead -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Eric McLaughlin, thank you so much for sharing that with us.
I want to dig deeper now into the attack suspect's terror connections. We're joined by CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank.
You're getting some new information about the attacker. Tell us about this, Paul.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: We've all day been looking through this 345-page investigatory file. And that revealed that there was a police informant inside this radical network that was feeding information back to German investigators, feeding back information about Anis Amri wanting to launch a terrorist attack, feeding back information on him preparing to join ISIS, all the way back last December, actually going on long hikes with backpacks with other members of this network, as they prepared to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.
But those travel plans fell through. He wasn't able to get out of the country and to make that trip. And it appears that made him more and more frustrated. So all these details coming in to CNN of lots of missed opportunities from the German investigatory point of view in terms of stopping this attack.
But they were able to go off to senior members of this network. They made a number of arrests in November. Five people taken into custody and charged with terrorism offenses.
But they didn't go after so much the footsoldiers in this network, including Amri. The worry now is that other members of this network may move forward to launch attacks because several of them were discussing launching truck attacks, other kinds of attacks inside Germany.
KEILAR: And no update obviously on his whereabouts.
But are German officials confident that they will be able to track him down?
CRUICKSHANK: What they've got going for them, Brianna, they know a lot of information about this network through this police informant, through their investigations over the last year or so. So they know a lot of addresses, a lot of phone numbers, where to look.
But the flip side of that is that he was deeply connected, part of this ISIS recruitment network, who were very good at hiding people and smuggling people out of the country. And they might have already had a plan in place to get him into a safe house in Germany.
We saw with the Paris attacks in November 2015 with Salah Abdeslam, who ducked out of that attack; an ISIS logistical support network were able to hide him for months and months in Brussels and the worry is we could see that kind of scenario play out again while they take a breather and prepare for a sort of second wave of attacks.
KEILAR: All right, Paul Cruickshank, thank you so much. Great new reporting there.
Now let's get the latest on what U.S. intelligence officials knew about the Berlin attack suspect. Our Justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is here.
And I spoke earlier with the State Department spokesman, Evan, and he said he wouldn't confirm that he was known to the U.S. but he said that wouldn't be unusual because of intelligence sharing.
What are you hearing from your sources?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're told the German intelligence had developed information about the danger that this suspect posed and they did pass this to U.S. intelligence, which put him on a no-fly list, Brianna, and that happened some months ago. And the reason for this was that he belonged to a group that the
Germans and other intelligence agencies in Europe believed were plotting attacks in Central Europe and that they were in communication with members of ISIS back in Syria. So that was the big concern. So one of the first things they did is put him on the no-fly list.
KEILAR: Do your sources believe that ISIS was directing these attacks or that it might just have inspired them?
PEREZ: That's the big concern right now. The intelligence agencies here and in Europe believe that, despite the pressure that ISIS is under in Syria, in Iraq, that they are capable of directing, still doing command and control operations, directing attacks --
PEREZ: -- in Europe, in Turkey, so that's at the top of everybody's mind right now , is how to stop that communication and also how to prevent these attacks, because these guys have all of the advantages. Only they know where they're going to strike next.
KEILAR: Evan's going to stay with us. We're going to bring in more of our terrorism experts. We have CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen; CNN intelligence and security analyst, Bob Baer and former CIA military analyst, Tara Maller.
So, Peter, we're learning that obviously Berlin was very familiar with this individual. The U.S. was familiar with him.
Is it possible that this was a failure on the part of German officials but that it's also something that is just very difficult to prevent, this idea of slipping through the cracks?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, maybe both. It's clearly a failure but it wasn't like he went out and bought very, very exotic explosives. He hijacked a truck. That's pretty hard to prevent.
Clearly this is going to be a huge problem for Angela Merkel. She was already in deep political trouble because of the various crimes refugees have been involved in. But here we have an asylum seeker carrying out this mass casualty attack. And it's going to be politically very hard for her to excuse this.
KEILAR: So even when he's sort of -- he's in the deportation pipeline. He's run into law enforcement. There's a police informant who knows that he's talking about doing these things, that's not enough to go after somebody.
Or there's just so many possibilities like that, that is it hard for German authorities to say this guy is a priority?
BERGEN: I'm not sure what the German legal framework is for a guy keeping the case open. Obviously in this country, at a certain point, if you don't have enough derogatory information, you have to close it. But the fact is, they got hundreds and hundreds of Germans who have gone to Syria, come back. Each one of those people takes 25 or more people to follow, if you're going to follow them 24/7. Not to excuse any of this but this is a resource problem as much as anything else.
KEILAR: What do you think, Tara, that German authorities need to be looking at, at this point, and what they are likely looking at to try to track him down?
TARA MALLER, FORMER CIA MILITARY ANALYST: Sure. They were at some of the known places that he frequented today. So I'm sure they're trying to recover anything that he left in those places, talking to individuals who know him, both his family members, colleagues, other individuals that they might have already previously arrested that may have had ties to him.
And obviously what's always critical in these cases is if they can recover anything -- and I don't think they have at this point, but a laptop, a cell phone, all those records to work out in concentric rings the individuals he's in close contact with and who might know those people.
And then also obviously evidence that was left at the scene of the actual attack, which has been done and recovered from the truck, the fingerprints and all those things that for the investigation will allow them to press the actual charges when they find him.
And when they get him, the intelligence that they can hopefully glean from him assuming they capture him alive.
KEILAR: Bob, there's concern obviously that members of this recruitment network could be helping Amri hide. And yet Tara also pointed out earlier that there were a lot of arrests when you talk about the top guys in this network.
So how much can they really hide him in the way that we might have seen with the Paris attacker, who was able to evade authorities for months and months?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: If they've had experience getting people out of the country, they may be able to get him out. A lot of these people are involved in criminal activities, whether it's drugs, arms and the rest of it.
And they know borders. They know how to get out. So there is a possibility this guy could get away. If it's part of a larger network, if he were on his own, I would say they would have caught him by now.
It all depends how deep the Germans are into this network. Apparently they had a source; it's a source they didn't want to lose, so that's why they weren't so quick to arrest or deport him. They were probably collecting more information at this point.
I think it's disturbing that the Islamic State this late in the game is operating a network in Germany, fairly efficient police, and got around them.
KEILAR: Peter, there's a certain formula to someone like Anis Amri, certainly in their thinking.
And so as he is now on the loose, what is his goal?
Is another attack perhaps his goal?
BERGEN: I think if he follows the pattern a lot of these guys, he is, as Tara suggested, he's going to go out in a blaze of glory, which ends in his death.
The question is how and when?
That is -- most of these people are effectively hoping to have some sort of suicide by cop at the end of the story.
KEILAR: And you mentioned that, that that may be what you're expecting and that's obviously a huge concern of German officials.
MALLER: He knows that law enforcement is looking for him. So presumably if he's or if he has access to more weapons, he was armed at the time of the attack, he killed somebody already, why not do something else?
PEREZ: And now he has a vote in how this ends. He now has a -- plays role in deciding this.
PEREZ: Going back to what Peter was talking about, in the United States, we have a lot of systems in place; they call them trip wires, to try to prevent people from using big trucks like this. For instance, they're working with the trucking companies to make sure that these people are vetted, to make sure that there's nobody who is an extremist who has access to this kind of vehicle. This goes all around it because he just hijacked it.
So that's one of the scary things about this particular attack.
KEILAR: Certainly is. All right, you all stand by. We'll talk much more about this and certainly many things to talk about when it comes to world affairs today. And President Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump. Stay with us.
KEILAR: Breaking news tonight: The trump transition team is trying to clarify the president-elect's tweet about strengthening and expanding the U.S.' nuclear capability. This is something that came just hours after Russian president Vladimir Putin made similar remarks, sparking concerns of a new nuclear arms race. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.
And, Barbara, you have Donald Trump's communications director, saying that the president-elect was actually talking about the threat of nuclear proliferation and basically needing to reduce it. But that runs counter to what he tweeted.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does, Brianna, because essentially both men, the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, and President-Elect Donald Trump, saying the same thing today, both talking about strengthening and expanding nuclear weapons.
And a lot of people asking, what are they really talking about?
STARR (voice-over): Did Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump just have --
STARR (voice-over): -- their first nuclear standoff?
Today, Russia's president declaring, more nuclear weapons are needed.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and perspective missile defense systems.
STARR (voice-over): A clear shot at U.S. defense plans in Europe, something Russia believes is a threat.
Within hours, President-Elect Trump tweeted quote, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
A transition team statement later said Trump was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it, particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes.
The statement also noting Trump wants to modernize the nuclear deterrent capability.
During the second presidential debate, a hint of his thinking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia is new in terms of nuclear; we are old. We're tired, we're exhausted in terms of nuclear, a very bad thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) STARR (voice-over): Donald Trump briefed just yesterday by senior Air Force officers on the need to modernize the aging nuclear infrastructure. Nuclear weapons are limited by treaty. Today, Russia has 7,300 warheads, the U.S. just over 6,900. Barack Obama began his presidency calling for global nuclear disarmament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I state, clearly and with conviction, America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
STARR (voice-over): Putin's nuclear vow came as he boasted of Russian military superiority after a year which saw successful Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee by the Russian military, sustained airstrikes in Syria and continued occupation of Crimea.
PUTIN (through translator): Today, we are stronger than any potential aggressor. I repeat, any aggressor.
JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The professionalism and the skill and the capabilities that are resident in the United States military are beyond debate.
STARR: And another sensitive point between Moscow and Washington tonight: you'll remember Edward Snowden, the government contractor who went to Moscow in 2013 after disclosing some of the most classified secrets about U.S. cyber programs. A newly declassified congressional report about Snowden's activities tonight discloses that Snowden since he went to Moscow has continued to be in touch with Russian intelligence -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you for that reporting.
We're back now with our experts here.
And, Bob, I wonder what you think about the idea that there were these two communications between Donald Trump and -- or not between but of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin so close together, saying something very similar.
What was your impression of that?
You know, Trump's relations with Russia have gone down very quickly. He's not even in the White House yet. When you have the Russian presidency saying there's no contact with the United States, he's referring to there is no back channel with Trump.
And Trump again, he simply cannot carry out foreign policy on Twitter. This is a very complicated issue, going back -- disarmament issues go back to the '70s. You cannot ad lib this, especially with Vladimir Putin, who is ready to get into an arms race at a moment's notice and that's not to mention the rest of the world who wants nuclear weapons, from South Korea to Saudi Arabia and on and on and on. I think he's playing with fire here.
KEILAR: He seems to think he can ad lib this.
What is the risk there, Tara?
MALLER: I think there are two basic rules. You don't use Twitter for foreign policy and you need your intel briefings. Both of those are critical.
I think if he really looks at this issue, nuclear weapons are one of the key pivotal security issues for every administration and, for decades, we've been trying to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals, both domestically and in terms of other countries.
And to just sort of casually tweet about nuclear weapons on the fly without actually sort of either giving a policy speech on it or outlining what your actual plan is, to me, just seems sort of irresponsible.
KEILAR: What are the worries of this, Peter?
Ultimately, what are the fears of what could happen here?
BERGEN: Diplomacy is based on the basic principle that you basically know what your adversaries' interests and general approach are. And apart from the kind of -- I think the lack of decorum of the president-elect involving himself in foreign policy, very important foreign policy, whether it's China, Israel or nuclear weapons before he even assumes office, I think that's unprecedented.
But beyond that --
BERGEN: -- diplomats basically want to know where you're coming from so the policy is pretty consistent. And so to be making it up on the fly on Twitter is, as Tara says, I mean, that is not the way the world works. It may be interesting but it's not responsible.
KEILAR: Donald Trump is still not admitting that it was Russia that was behind this hacking of the DNC and behind the WikiLeaks e-mails, even though there's a tremendous amount of evidence that confirms that. And the Obama administration is working on this report to investigate it.
So where is that at this point?
PEREZ: We expect, Brianna, that the report is going to come out after the beginning of the year. And look, as Barbara was talking about, what CrowdStrike has found is also what the FBI has found from doing this investigation.
They've investigated Russian intelligence hacking into the State Department, the White House, the Joint Chiefs and that's one reason why, when they saw what was happening at the DNC, they knew what they were looking at, because they had seen some of the same signatures in that hack.
So we expect we're going to hear a lot of that when this report comes out in early January.
KEILAR: But, Bob, when you have a lot of Americans, I think it's about half of Americans who don't believe Russia is behind this and Donald Trump won't say that it is, can he just ignore the results that it seems like we at least know what part of the results are going to be in this report, can he just ignore that?
Or will he be faced to confront it -- or forced to confront it?
BAER: He can ignore it. A lot of this information is top secret. He can just hold it back from the committees once he gets his people in the CIA. He can -- you know, just say it doesn't add up to anything. It's too tenuous and presidents can do this. This is the bully pulpit.
I imagine he's going to. But you simply look at WikiLeaks, you look at the fact that Snowden is in touch with Russian intelligence, which doesn't come as any surprise to me. He shows up in Moscow, the Russians would be negligent.
The Russians, this is a cyber war. Whether or not they helped Trump get in the White House I can't tell you. But I don't think we're going to get any clarity on this once he gets into the White House.
KEILAR: That's sort of depressing. But I hear what you're saying there, Bob.
All right, Bob Baer, Evan Perez, Peter Bergen and Tara Maller, thank you so much for a great conversation.
And just ahead, more breaking news on the terror attack investigation in Berlin and questions about whether authorities could have prevented it.
And why a new lawsuit accuses some Chicago area McDonald's restaurants of fraud. We're going to tell you why the price tag on a so-called value meal did not add up.
KEILAR: Breaking news tonight in the Trump transition. CNN is learning that the president-elect got some prodding before he publicly weighed in on an issue causing friction between Israel and the United States.
[18:31:23] Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is here with us. Elise, tell us what you've learned. These are new details.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. Well, a really unprecedented intervention from the president-elect. We're talking about a vote at the United Nations on Israeli settlements, a very controversial vote that President Obama was about to allow to pass, either through abstention or by even voting yes.
We understand the Israelis, an Israeli official telling me that they had no choice but to weigh in with the president-elect, asking him to intervene and to help Israel out.
Now, this was an Egyptian proposal to go through at the United Nations. President-elect Trump reached out to President El-Sisi personally, asking him to delay the vote. And now, Israel has been spared for now.
LABOTT (voice-over): Tonight, a dispute over peace, politics, and the role of the U.S. presidency may be coming to a head at the United Nations. Just hours before the Security Council was set to vote for a resolution calling for Israel to stop building settlements, the ballot was abruptly cut off, averting a potential clash between the current and future U.S. president over U.S. relations with Israel.
JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: We'll just have to wait and see what the results of those consultations are, to see if the text moves forward.
LABOTT: The resolution demands Israel, quote, "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities," calling it a "flagrant violation under international law."
CNN has learned that President Obama was prepared to let the resolution pass, either by abstaining or voting in favor of it. The U.S. has traditionally seen Jewish settlements in areas controlled by Palestinians as an obstacle to a peace process but has never gone so far in a U.N. vote. The move today would have been seen by many as a provocation, a parting shot at Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom President Obama has strained ties.
Around 3 a.m., Netanyahu took to Twitter, writing in English and appealing for a U.S. veto. But before the White House could announce its support for the resolution, this morning President-elect Donald Trump sent out this statement calling for a veto and saying peace between Israel and Palestinians needs to be negotiated, not, quote, "through the imposition of terms by the United Nations."
A senior Israeli official tells CNN the Israeli government reached out to Trump to weigh in, after failing to persuade Washington to cancel the vote. Today, gratitude from Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, who tweeted Israel, quote, "deeply appreciates the clear and unequivocal call by Trump."
TRUMP: The United Nations is not a friend of democracy.
LABOTT: Trump's statement appeared to again signal his desire to shift U.S.-Israel relations. During the election, he said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and he denounced U.N. involvement in the peace process in an interview with Wolf Blitzer.
TRUMP: This has to be a deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
LABOTT: Trump says he wants to be seen as an honest broker in the Mideast.
TRUMP: I would love to be neutral, if it's possible. It's probably not possible, because there's so much hatred. There's so much going on.
LABOTT: And Israeli officials tell me they believe that President- elect Trump does want to do something in his administration with a peace process, and they felt that this resolution was really tying the president-elect's hands. So they're really grateful that now they feel they have a chance in the next administration, Brianna.
But this is not over. The U.S. is still looking for a vote. There are still calls going on between U.S. and Israeli officials. I was told, in one of them, the United States professed its friendship to Israel; and a very top Israeli official replied, "Friends don't take friends to the Security Council." Clearly, the Israelis feel that President-elect Trump will be more friendly to their cause -- Brianna.
[18:35:07] KEILAR: Wow. Elisa Labott, thank you. Great reporting.
And now we're joined by our legal and political analysts here. Ron Brownstein, to you first. So you hear Elise's reporting there.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
LABOTT: What do you think -- so many people, their jaws seem to be dropping over this. What do you think of the fact that the president- elect waded into this U.N. vote before the sitting administration had -- before taking office, before the sitting administration had taken a position?
BROWNSTEIN: Both process and substance here are striking. First, the process. Right. I mean, it is extraordinary for the president-elect to be, as with the China dispute a few days ago about the drone, to be interjecting himself so directly into these foreign policy choices.
He and President Obama have managed a non-aggression pact since the election. But, you know, this does strain it. You can see the strains developing.
But second, and equally important, it really does, along with his nomination of the ambassador to Israel, it does give you a pretty clear indication that he will define Israeli security largely in the same terms that Benjamin Netanyahu does, which is not necessarily what Barack Obama or, for that matter Bill Clinton, their definition was.
And, you know, you have an ambassador designee who has close ties to the settler movement. And thus -- I mean, this is kind of an indication of where policy is going to go. And it does kind of raise the question of whether the U.S. can be an honest broker or is willing to push Netanyahu beyond his definition of what is ultimately in Israel's best security interest.
KEILAR: Jeff, it seems to violate this principle that there is only one president at a time. And even, it seems, to violate some of the things Donald Trump has said about being neutral.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it seems to violate it. It does violate it. I mean, you know, Donald Trump is intervening in an ongoing policy dispute in real time.
Now, you know, there's no law against it, but it is certainly a departure from the traditions. But I think even more significant than that is the change in policy that it portends. And Ron starts -- Ron started to talk about it. This isn't just Democratic presidents. Certainly, going back to George Herbert Walker Bush, the idea behind American foreign policy has been the negotiation of a two-state solution, a Palestinian state and Israel living side by side in boarders that are negotiated, not unilaterally taken by Israel in the course of establishing more and more settlements. That policy now seems to be ending in deference to whatever Israel wants to do there.
KEILAR: So allegedly, Jackie, President Obama and President-elect Trump, both of them have said that they have a good relationship. But maybe -- maybe this means that Donald Trump has a better relationship with Bibi Netanyahu.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, this certainly doesn't help his relationship with the president. But I mean, everything Trump is doing is different from what we've seen in the past with incoming presidents, in terms of him basically being the commander in chief and saying he's going to undermine what's happening with the current administration. You don't really -- friends don't do that to each other. I mean, frankly.
KEILAR: Yes, that was -- I mean, that was fascinating what Elise said, though: friends don't take friends to the Security Council. I mean, they -- Israel clearly felt this was a breach.
KUCINICH: Right. And Obama has had kind of a prickly relationship with Netanyahu, and clearly Netanyahu is ready to throw him overboard and go on to the next guy.
KEILAR: And how does this play out, though, for the future, Jeff? I mean, what do you think -- what do you think the implications are for even how, say Donald Trump may be treated in the future if this is how he's dished it out?
TOOBIN: I mean, I'm not prepared to speculate about the end of Donald Trump's presidency at this point. I mean, who knows whether that will be four years--
KEILAR: I don't necessarily mean the end of his presidency. I mean this idea that maybe foreign policy doesn't end or, certainly, the discussion ends at the water's edge, and just how Democrats might just really take him to task on some things.
TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think this is going to be political warfare from day one. And it's starting early. You know, we keep focusing and talking about, you know, the relationship between Obama and Trump. I don't think they have a real relationship. I mean, they have interests, and the interests are largely contradictory to each other.
Donald Trump ran for president saying he was going to revamp and change virtually every Obama policy, foreign and domestic, and that's how it's going to play out. And, you know, what happens in the next month is, you know, only prologue to long, long conflict.
BROWNSTEIN: And Brianna, can I just real quickly add?
KEILAR: Yes, go ahead.
BROWNSTEIN: You look at -- there's an underlying basis in public opinion for this. I mean, Donald Trump will come into the most polarized initial reception of any incoming president in the history of Gallup polling.
You go back to Gallup polling with Dwight Eisenhower, the first post- inaugural poll, the highest disapproval rating for any president, any newly-elected president, was 25 percent. Donald Trump is probably going to come in, based on what we're seeing in the transition, somewhere between 40 and 45 percent of the country saying they disapprove.
He'll have an approval rating among Democrats, I'm guessing that it's going to be 20 points lower than we've ever seen for an incoming president among voters in the opposite party.
So there is enormous pressure on Democratic legislators, and I think, you know, once they get out of office, particularly Joe Biden, but maybe eventually Barack Obama, because to stand against many of the things Donald Trump is running on, and promising to do. Because as Jeffrey pointed out, I mean, a big chunk of his domestic agenda, whether it's repealing Obamacare, repealing the climate action, is directly about undoing things that President Obama has done. So I think, you know, there's only so long the detente can go on.
KEILAR: All right. You guys are going to stick around with me for more. We have much more to talk about here as we talk about the Trump transition and this idea that they could be imposing tariffs. We'll discuss that in just a moment.
We also have breaking news ahead, the dramatic new video of the Berlin Christmas market attack and new information tonight about the suspect.
Plus, new details of the airplane incident involving Ivanka Trump that got a passenger kicked off of the flight.
KEILAR: We're following the breaking news in the Christmas market attack, including the first video. As you can see here, it shows the truck plowing toward a crowded square. We'll have more on that investigation ahead.
Right now, we're learning more about a proposal being discussed inside the Trump transition team, to get tough on trade.
I want to bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
And, Donald Trump, of course, is in Florida for the holidays. There's not a -- but there is certainly a lot happening behind the scenes.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A lot happening, Brianna. Donald Trump has kept busy down in Mar-a-Lago. The president-elect and his top advisers are signaling he's about to get much more aggressive on a whole range of issues from trade to foreign policy and he's smacking down one of his biggest supporters for suggesting Trump is ready to give up on draining the swamp.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Amazing people.
ACOSTA (voice-over): On the shores of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump is generating waves. The president-elect's team making it clear a fight is coming on trade.
TRUMP: China, which has been ripping us off, the greatest abuser in the history of this country --
ACOSTA: Sources tell CNN, Trump is considering an executive action to impose up to a 10 percent tariff on imports to strengthen U.S. companies. Critics warn that could spark a trade war. But Peter Navarro, the man tapped to lead the incoming administration's new trade council, warned Trump will crack down on countries that engage in unfair trading practices.
PETER NAVARRO, TRUMP NOMINEE TO NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL: Donald Trump doesn't want to slap tariffs on anybody. Ronald Reagan didn't want to slap tariffs on anybody. But if they cheat us, he will do that.
ACOSTA: Top Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan have sounded wary of such talk.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'll tell him what I've been saying all along.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to do it.
RYAN: We can get at what he's trying to get at better through a comprehensive tax reform.
ACOSTA: Trump is also getting tough even with his biggest allies -- one day after Newt Gingrich said Trump was ready to give up on his campaign battle cry "drain the swamp" --
TRUMP: Drain the swamp of Washington. We're going to have fun doing it.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: He now says it was cute but he doesn't want to use it anymore. ACOSTA: Trump is putting Gingrich in his place, tweeting, "Someone
incorrectly stated that the phrase 'drain the swamp' was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to drain the swamp."
Gingrich backed down.
GINGRICH: I want to report that I made a big boo-boo. I talked this morning with President-elect Donald Trump and he reminded me he likes draining the swamp. I mischaracterized it the other day.
ACOSTA: Still, other long-time Trump loyalists are being rewarded, with adviser Kellyanne Conway named counselor to the president, while Sean Spicer was selected as White House press secretary, just one of a slew of new staffing appointments.
As for Trump's other key advisers, his children, they're making moves designed to tamp down on questions about conflicts of interest. Trump's son Eric explained to "The New York Times" why he will stop directly raising funds for his charitable foundation, saying, "As unfortunate as it is, I understand the quagmire."
Conway said it's a new posture that will hurt the Trump children's charities.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: The idea that these folks are trying to help people in need and those people are going to suffer now.
ACOSTA: But Trump's family is under a new microscope as daughter Ivanka found out on a JetBlue flight when one of the passengers tweeted his husband intended to harass Ivanka and her husband Jared. The passenger who allegedly made good on that threat was removed from the plane.
ACOSTA: Now, as for the idea of Trump unilaterally imposing tariffs, he may have one big problem that is Congress. One top GOP source on Capitol Hill told me that revenue measures should come to the House, as in the House of Representatives, not the White House.
And, Brianna, as for Eric Trump, he told "The Washington Post" today he's suspending operations of his charitable foundation. So, a big move there, Brianna.
KEILAR: Certainly is.
Jim Acosta, thank you so much for that.
Back now with our legal and political analysts.
OK. So, Ron, this tariff idea is pretty shocking. One, he's talking about going it alone. And it's an issue that drives a wedge between him and establishment Republicans. RON BROWNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: It is the pit in the
cherry for the business community in particular, which is obviously a pillar of the Republican coalition on many different fronts. This is shaping up to be the most friendly, pro-corporate administration since Ronald Reagan in terms of appointees, in terms of the big tax cut that he's promising for business taxes, the rolling back of federal regulations. We mentioned climate, consumer protection on finance, Dodd/Frank. A lot of different ways he's going to give the business community what it wants.
The price is a very different posture on trade issues. Both the occasional calling out of individual companies and also his preference, which really goes back more, Brianna, policy he's ever espoused, for protectionists trade measures. The questions also be, one, is it really effective? Because to some extent, American manufacturing is dependent on a global supply chain that allows us to manufacture products here so long that part of the cost is sort of amortized abroad, and this will make that tougher. And second, this will mean higher prices at the cash register for many of the economically hard pressed voters who are the core of his coalition.
KEILAR: That's the hard choice.
[18:50:00] JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And let's not -- Trump talks about the auto industry. American cars are assembled in the United States.
KUCINICH: The auto parts come from somewhere else. That cost will be passed on to the American consumer, as Ron was saying.
This is going to -- I couldn't talk to a Republican economist today who thought this was a good idea. I was actually asking what would be the reason to do this, and they were like, I don't know, I guess we'll just wait and see. I hope it doesn't happen.
KEILAR: There's a lot of waiting and seeing here.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Don't you think that the way that president-elect thinks about this is I'm negotiating with China and this is the stick and there are also carrots. So, even without imposing a tariff, by talking about a tariff, I can make a better deal down the road for the American economy. I'm sure --
KUCINICH: But that assumes China doesn't retaliate and start a trade war.
KEILAR: Right, which is a big concern of Republicans.
OK. Jeff, check out this tweet of Donald Trump's today, he says, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nuke."
OK. I've been to nuclear nonproliferation summits with President Obama just one of the many reporters covering them. And the idea is actually, you know, like nukes are bad, right, let's tamp it down. I mean, in a nutshell, that's it.
So, shortly after the tweet, and it seems as well that Trump's transition team agrees with tht, they clarified what he mean. They said that he was actually referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it.
At a certain point, is clarification not going to cut it?
TOOBIN: Yes, the clarification was he said yes, what he meant was no.
KEILAR: That's right. That is it.
TOOBIN: You know, that was the clarification.
But I think that -- you know, this is an area where presidents since Ronald Reagan and even before have been dedicated to trying to reduce the threat in number of nuclear weapons. I mean, this has been a bipartisan effort and presidents on both sides of the aisle have tried to lower the risk and number of nuclear weapons.
Here we appear to have Donald Trump at least raising the possibility -- I mean, who knows whether this was a fully thought out policy or just something he just tweeted. But remember, if he is talking about expanding the number of nuclear weapons and the technology, we're not just talking about, you know, increased risk, we're talking about many, many billions of dollars.
KEILAR: We're talking about a lot.
All right. Jeff Toobin, Ron Brownstein, I'm going to have to leave it there. Jackie Kucinich, thank you guys so much for the conversation.
Coming up, we have breaking news. What U.S. intelligence knew about the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack?
And how valuable is a McDonald's extra value meal? We're learning new details about a lawsuit by some very unhappy meal customers.
[18:56:37] KEILAR: Tonight, there is a new lawsuit against some McDonald's restaurants alleging there's no value in the value meal. An Illinois man is suing the owner of several McDonald's franchises in the Chicago area. He claims their extra value meals are actually more expensive than if you bought each item individually.
And according to his lawsuit, a customer would save 41 cents by purchasing two cheeseburgers, a medium fry and a beverage a la carte. There's been no comment from McDonald's or the franchise owner. The man behind the lawsuit told a local newspaper that it's not about the money. It's about the principle. Now to a different kind of dispute, this one involving Donald Trump.
He doesn't like wind farms, especially when they're near his golf courses. A former Scottish leader confirms he received a series of angry letters from Trump railing against the project to build renewable energy turbines. They were sent several years ago and Trump's language was quite harsh.
CNN's Ian Lee has been looking into this.
Ian, what can you tell us?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, there 16 letters in total from 2011 to 2013, so, before it was President-elect Donald Trump. He was still a businessman at this time. And his letters were addressed to the leader of the Scottish government at the time, Alex Salmond.
And he did, as you said, have some quite harsh words for him about this wind farm, saying, "The people of Scotland will suffer forever. You seem hell-bent on destroying Scotland's coastline and therefore Scotland itself. I will never be on board."
And then, a month a later, he said, "Do you want to be known for centuries to come as Mad Alex, the man who destroyed Scotland?"
And then again, a month later, he said, "Your economy will become a third world waste land that global investors will avoid. I love Scotland and only have its best interests at heart."
Donald Trump, though, did shift gears in one of the letters and tried to play nice saying that he would become the first minister's greatest cheerleader if he followed along. But the first minister declined.
KEILAR: Very interesting. So, is there any reaction there to the release of these?
LEE: Yes, we did reach out to Alex Salmond about these letters and he gave us a statement saying that the letters are genuine and released under Scottish Freedom of Information legislation. They show a Scottish first minister steadfastly refusing to bow to extreme pressure from Mr. Trump in opposition to wind energy.
But this does raise a question. He was able to stand steadfast against Mr. Trump, but what about President Donald Trump? Right after Trump won the presidency, he did meet with a prominent U.K. official Nigel Farage, and according to local media reports here the wind farm was brought up.
So, the question, will Donald Trump be able to abandon advocating for his business interests when he becomes president? Brianna?
KEILAR: Well, and is that something that is really concerning -- just real quick, Ian, is that something that concerns the fact that he brought this up with Nigel Farage as president-elect, not a businessman, concerns people where you are?
LEE: It does, because when you are president of the United States, that carries a lot of weight. And so, there are questions about what kind of pressure he'll put on different government officials about his business interests and it does have that conflict of interest.
KEILAR: All right. Ian Lee, thank you so much.
I'm Brianna Keilar. Thank you for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.