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U.S. Vote in U.N. Security Council Formally Condemning Israel for Settlement. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 24, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:00:50] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Dana Bash in for Poppy Harlow.

Right now relations are strained between the U.S. and Israel and is under more pressure than we have seen in recent months, maybe even years. A vote at the United Nations Security Council formally condemning Israel for settlement. And that policy is causing senior officials in Israel to publicly say they are ready for the Obama era to be over and the Trump era to begin.

Every member of the Security Council voted for it except the United States which abstained effectively allowing it to pass. The U.S. had the power to veto the measure but did not. Of course, all of this made Israeli officials furious and that is where we find our correspondent in Jerusalem.

Oren Lieberman, you have been watching and talking to your sources there in Israel. I want to start though with what the Prime Minister BB Netanyahu said publicly calling this resolution shameful. He blames Americans for letting it pass and he now is saying that Israel will re-evaluate relations with the U.N. Explain exactly what that means.

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to be specific, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames President Obama and secretary of state John Kerry. Not all Americans, he thinks, then for their support.

As from his diplomatic moves, he has taken a number first against the U.N. as well as some of the Security Council countries that introduced this. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking on the first night of Hanukkah here in Israel announcing Israel would cancel some $8 million of funding to five different U.N. organizations, would re- evaluate the status of U.N. representatives here that work in Israel and in the territories. And he ordered the foreign ministry to look at other steps Israel may take over the course of the next month.

As for New Zealand and Synagogue, two of the countries that introduce this resolution, Netanyahu immediately pulled back his ambassadors and cancelled all aid programs to Synagogue. So some pretty severe diplomatic steps.

As for the government's reaction to the resolution, Netanyahu says his government won't abide by it. Some of his high-level cabinet ministers have said the best response for Israel should be to keep building in the settlements, to keep building in disputed parts of Jerusalem. Some have even called on annexation and parts for all of the west bank -- Dana.

BASH: Well, Oren, you know, the situation at the U.N. is one thing. The situation specifically between the U.S. administration and the Israeli administration is another because it's going to change very soon. And in fact, Benjamin Netanyahu said he is looking forward to the positive change in his words when president-elect Trump is in office.

Trump is already having his say, where else, on twitter. He said things will be different at the U.N. on day one. He said as to the U.N., things will be different after January 20th which of course is inauguration day.

How does Israel view the coming years of Donald Trump? I'm guessing that given the fact that Netanyahu and Donald Trump have known each other but also are more kindred spirits on policy issues like settlements, they are cheering from the rooftops about it.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. And that was subtle up until the last 24, 48 hours. Now the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers have made it blatantly clear that they can't wait for Obama's term to be up. Many of them have accused Obama now of being anti-Israel. We knew this was a strained relation between Netanyahu and Obama. It is rapidly, rapidly deteriorating here in its final days. Not only Netanyahu but a number of ministers have already said they can't wait for Trump to be in office, to start working with Trump.

For his part, Trump has promised to protect Israel at the United Nations. In terms of the resolution, it practically has no effect. It has no teeth because this is just a guideline or a recommendation of a resolution. It needs follow-up resolutions of the U.N. for that to happen. Trump has promised that he would effectively stop those from happening. So the resolution itself may have no teeth. At the same time, it would practically be virtually impossible to repeal this resolution so it will stay on the books. But again, going back to the Israeli administration, the Obama administration, there is no absolutely no doubt at this point Netanyahu is looking for a treasure start with Trump.

[16:05:14] BASH: No question about that.

Oren Lieberman, thank you so much for joining me.

And joining me now live from West Babylon, New York is Congressman Lee Zeldon, a Republican and a member of the house foreign affairs committee.

Congressman, thank you for joining me on this Christmas Eve. First night of Hanukkah. You issued a blistering statement about the U.N. vote yesterday that condemned Israel for settlement construction. You said that what happened was pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli nations are continuing their (INAUDIBLE) efforts at the United Nations to de- legitimatize America's greatest ally, Israel.

Now, Samantha Power who is the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. argue that the U.S. is just continuing a policy against settlements that would espoused by Ronald Reagan. So where do you two disagree?

REP. LEE ZELDON (R), NEW YORK: Well, the position that the settlements are violation of international law is something that I take strong exception with. It is reinventing history. There are facts and assertions being made attempting to rewrite what is reality on the ground as well as looking over the course of last century of enacting conventions, of other resolutions, a lot of precedent, the League of Nations, Palestinian mandate. And it also is -- you know, we're just a few weeks away from a transition from president-elect Trump taking office.

So here doing this in the last few weeks, something that wasn't done over the course of the last eight years for obviously good reasons. This is like a last-minute fire being burned. And you know, it's a lot better when you are setting up the next president-elect for success. And also standing strong with our nation's greatest allies and Israel is a beacon of freedom and liberty in a very dark region of the world. We should be standing shoulder to shoulder with them and not helping the Palestinian efforts to ethnically cleanse today (INAUDIBLE) east Jerusalem.

BASH: Congressman, let me play for you a little bit more of what Ambassador Power said at the U.N. yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: But it is precisely our commitment to Israel's security that makes the United States believe that we cannot stand in the way of this resolution as we seek to preserve a chance of attaining our longstanding objective. Two states living side by side in peace and security.

Let me briefly explain why. The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the very viability of that two state solution. The total set her population in the West Bank east and Jerusalem now exceeds 590,000. Nearly 90,000 settlers are living east of the separation barrier that was created by Israel itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So congressman, what's your response to her argument that there can't be peace between Israelis and Palestinians as long as Israel keeps building these settlements?

ZELDON: For a very long time there has been a willingness on the part of Israelis to make concessions for long term peace including areas within (INAUDIBLE) and east Jerusalem. Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza a little over a decade ago. And they have a willingness to strike that long term peace. What is important is that on the other side of the table, the Palestinian authority, I met with the prime minister (INAUDIBLE) in 2015. He said in no certain terms that is non-negotiable. They will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. If they had an election right now in the Palestinian authority, Hamas would win the election. That's how much influence they have with in the Palestinian authority.

So long term peace has to be negotiated on the ground, in that region, not at the United Nations. And as long as innocent Israelis are being murdered by Palestinian terrorists and we have rockets being launched from Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, the reality of trying to get this done by targeting Israeli at the United Nations that's not going to achieve that long term peace.

BASH: And you mentioned rockets being launched. Putting the U.N. aside, I think you have been in Congress one or two terms but since you have been there, the United States has increased aid to Israel. Has helped with the iron dome which has protected Israeli citizens from those rockets. So would you concede that it's not all been bad vis-a-vis the Obama administration posture towards Israel?

ZELDON: Well, you know, look at the memorandum of understanding. That is a great example where there is a long term commitment of support to Israel. There was an aspect added to the MOU where essentially said both sides, Israel and the United States, were agreeing that the United States couldn't provide any additional support to Israel. I don't really see the point of that.

I do give the president credit for traveling to Israel and speaking at Shimon presses. However, on the plane right back, they issued a corrected transcript changing Jerusalem comment to Israel with a thin line through Israel. So as we walk through the last eight years and look at the reelection of BB Netanyahu and the activity of Obama campaign operatives there's been a lot of growing daylight accusing both sides of terror, John Kirby at the state department when innocent Israelis were targeted. So it's been a mixed bag but more negative than what we have seen over the last two decades.

[16:10:59] BASH: We are out of time, but I just got to ask you. Let's look forward. You are currently the only Republican Jewish member of the House of Representatives. But the fact that you support Israel is and always has been kind of a bipartisan notion in Congress.

Given what's happened at the U.N., and given that Donald Trump is going to be president, do you think that this U.N. situation has sort of engendered even more bipartisan support than Donald trump could have hoped for on an issue like this?

ZELDON: Senator Schumer has been very outspoken against the U.N. resolution. There are many -- very strongly pro-Israel members of Congress and amongst the American public who are registered Democrat. It's important for the Democratic Party to decide what the future ideology should be like but it should be bipartisan, strongly supporting our nation's greatest ally.

BASH: Congressman Lee Zeldon, thank you so much for joining me. Happy Hanukkah to you. Have a great night. Thanks you.

ZELDON: Thank you, Dana. BASH: And ahead, live in the CNN NEWSROOM, terror threats, the feds

giving warnings just as Americans gather to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. The very latest on what the FBI has just learned.

Plus, new precedence, president-elect Donald Trump diving into international relations before taking office. How is the world handling what feels like two presidents with very different agendas?

And later, the countdown is on. You see him there. That guy in red making his trek across the globe. You know who he is. We'll show you where Santa is right now.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[16:15:26] BASH: Reaction has been strong and swift to Friday's U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements. One organization applauding the measure is a left leaning American pro- Israel group known as J Street releasing a statement which says in part, this resolution conveys the overwhelming support of the international community including Israel's closest friends and allies for the two state solution and their deep concern over the deteriorating status quo between Israelis and Palestinians and the lack of meaningful progress towards peace.

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the president of J Street and joins me now.

Jeremy, critics see this as a slap in the face to Israel. Your group has a very different view.

JEREMY BEN-AMI, PRESIDENT, J STREET: We do. It's not a slap in the face to Israel. What it is, is a reminder to the Israeli right wing and to the settler movement in particular and to Prime Minister Netanyahu's government that the entirety of the international community rejects the notion that Israel can continue to expand settlements on the West Bank without end in sight. There needs to be state for the Palestinian people that there is effort to be peace. The state has to be on the land that Israel occupied in 1967. And settlement construction is a major obstacle in the promotion of a two state solution to this conflict.

BASH: So you argue that the president action or administration's actions at the Security Council was in line with longstanding American policy which is opposing Israeli settlements. But doesn't the U.S. abstaining also fly in the face of decades of another U.S. policy which is to protect Israel at the U.N. which is a place Israel often needs protecting?

BEN-AMI: Right. Well, of course, and I should say at the outset that the United Nations, a, should have other things on its mind. There are other crises around the world and the amount of focus that goes towards Israel and the occupation of these lands is disproportionate to the percentage of the concern of what really should be troubling the world right now. But that having been said, this is in fact the international consensus

about what needs to happen in order to resolve this conflict and the United States has been onboard with that consensus since 1967. And every administration has actually abstained from vetoing resolutions at the United Nations other than the Obama administration. This was the first time the Obama administration has done this at the United Nations. But both President Bush, President Clinton, Carter, Reagan, Ford, you name it, they have all done that during the course of their administration.

BASH: Now, last hour I spoke with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who I'm you know has a very different view than you have on this resolution yesterday. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here is my idea of the peace process. Israel gave Gaza completely to the Palestinians years ago. They withdrew. They gotten 10,000 rockets fires from the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas. Who in the hell is Israel supposed to do peace with? Not only am I going to lead the charge to suspend funding to the United Nations until they correct this problem, we are going to suspend funding to the Palestinian's authority until they stop paying young Palestinians to murder innocent people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: What's your response to that?

BEN-AMI: Well, frankly, Senator Graham is just 100 percent wrong. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank keeping millions of Palestinians under military rule without political rights is going to remain a festering conflict that will undermine Israel's security in the long run. It will undermine its ability to be recognized within the region or to be accepted around the world. And a very, very limited number of people in this country and in Israel believe that uninhibited settlement expansion and continued occupation is in the best interest of Israel. And sadly that limited minority is going to control the government of the United States and the government of the state of Israel and the consequences of where that leads us will be there for all to see until we can reverse course.

BASH: Jeremy Ben-Ami joining us from the Bahamas where people are supposed to be right now on vacation, I hope. Thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it on this very important matter.

BEN-AMI: Happy holidays.

[16:20:01] BASH: You, too.

And ahead in the NEWSROOM, fresh terror warnings targeting U.S. gatherings just before Christmas and Hanukkah. What information the FBI has found.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[16:27:057 BASH: We are back with brand new warnings from the FBI and homeland security over possible threats from ISIS. They say the terror group might target churches and other holiday events as millions of Americans gather to celebrate Christmas. Of course, this comes just days after a truck attack killed 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin. Three men are now under arrest accused of having ties to the man who hijacked that truck. Among them, the suspect's nephew.

And joining me now is former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Bear.

Bob, thanks for joining me. First, I think probably what everybody wants to know watching television right now, what would you tell your family? What should viewers think about when they are planning to go to church tonight or tomorrow? Should they go?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I think they should go, Dana. This is a call from the Islamic state to attack Americans, attack Europeans on Christmas. This is very much aspirational. There's no way for the FBI to predict who is going to answer this call. But I certainly don't think it's a widespread threat. And at the end of the day, we just have to get by this, you know. I don't think anything is going to happen but there's that possibility and the FBI has a duty to warn Americans. There's chatter out there about an attack. But if there were anything specific, I guarantee we would hear about it.

BASH: And this kind of public warning is part of the deterrent right?

BAER: It's part of the deterrent, the police to be vigilant and these warnings to put out to everybody because that's the federal government's responsibility. They simply can't, you know, tell the police for instance and the police only. So they are just warning us to be overcautious, time of Christmas, especially for the police, and for any suspects or any people that are subscribing to jihadist philosophy are being watched right now. But absolutely, you know, the season, it's time to get out there and celebrate Christmas.

[16:25:09] BASH: And when you look at the truck attack in Berlin, it was an open air Christmas market, how do you even protect a venue like that at an ultimate soft target?

BAER: You can't protect a venue like that. Absolutely, you can't. There's nothing you can do about it. You can put armed police with automatic weapons around sites like this. But frankly there are too many things going on. There's too much, you know, there's too many celebrations. You can't, you know. And also, I think Europe is a completely different terrain for these people because you have so many refugees that you cannot integrate in the society. And frankly we as Americans do a lot better at the end of the day or are more tolerant. And I think right now this is European problem rather than the American problem.

BASH: Well, speaking of that, we know that the Berlin suspect made it all the way to Milan in Italy. That's 600 miles from the scene. Do you think a day will come when terror attacks like this are going to be a catalyst for Europe changing its open borders?

BAER: Again, I think Europe is going to swing right in terms of immigration. I think it's almost inevitable. France, Hungary, Poland. You see right-wing (INAUDIBLE) or becoming stronger. And if the borders had been border checks in Europe, he would not have made it all the way back to Italy. He would have been stopped coming into France.

This is a good argument for people against - I mean, I think this is very, very damaging for the European Union. I do not see one, two, three more of these attacks, how would open border (INAUDIBLE) could survive.

BASH: Bob Bear, thank you so much for your insight. Appreciate it. And Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy holidays.

And speaking of that on a much, much happier note, Christmas celebrations are already underway on the other side of the world. You're looking at live pictures inside St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City where Pope Francis is leading a Christmas Eve mass. Thousands flock there every year to hear the Pope's Christmas Eve blessing. And tomorrow he will deliver his Christmas day address to the city and the world.

We'll be back in a moment.

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DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: President-Elect Donald Trump is pushing his foreign policy rhetoric into new territory this week with some stunning comments about nuclear weapon. It started with this tweet on Thursday when he said The U.S. must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." Trump raised more eyebrows by, then, telling -- reportedly telling MSNBC anchor, Mika Brzezinski "Let it be an arms race." Now, it is provocative, but CNN's Elise Labott points out it's reminiscent of a strategy used with some sass -- some success, rather -- by a president four decades ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT-ELECT: We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.

ELISE LABBOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's called the madman theory, a term and strategy taken from the playbook of former President Richard Nixon. The objective? Keep your enemies guessing about your motives, temperament and willingness to go to the extreme. Nixon used it to get the North Vietnamese to the table by making them think he'd use nuclear weapons to defeat Communism.

UNKNOWN MALE: Madman theory, which I watched, as a young soldier, Nixon and Kissinger do, is to basically use unpredictable, seemingly brash, bravado, over-escalation to get the other side to fall off its positions.

LABBOTT: Trump has used similar questions about how he would handle foreign confrontations, refusing to rule out nuclear weapons:

TRUMP: But, I can't take anything off the table.

LABOTT: Calling for a ban on Muslims:

TRUMP: A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

LABOTT: And, most recently, taking the call from the president of Taiwan, a break with diplomatic tradition billed as a calculated ploy for leverage:

TRUMP: I don't know why we have to be bound by a one-China plicy, unless we make a deal with China, having to do with other things, including trade.

LABOTT: But some warn about taking the madman approach too far, saying Nixon knew not to corner his adversary.

UNKNOWN MALE: You have to give them a way out. If you have a zero- sum game end, along with a highly risky "roll the dice, look at me" means, you are going to sooner or later run into very, very serious trouble.

LABOTT: And some call it a dangerous gambit in a world craving stability, where unpredictable leaders like North Korea's Kim Jong-Un could call his bluff.

UNKNOWN MALE: There is no question there is a time and place for performance art, even in diplomacy. There are times when you kind of make your adversary just not sure at all what you're going to do, but I don't think you can play that all the time, and I know you can't play it as a substitute for really knowing what the issues are.

LABOTT: Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.

BASH: Let's take a closer look at the president-elect's pattern of making provocative foreign policy statements, often through Twitter. Joining me now is conservative political commentator and host of the Ben Ferguson Show, Ben Ferguson. Also with us, A. Scott Bolden, former chairman of the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party. Well, speaking of --

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, ATTORNEY: Good afternoon.

BASH: Good afternoon to both of you, And Merry Christmas. Speaking of the president-elect --

BEN FERGUSON, COMMENTATOR: Merry Christmas.

BASH: -- using twitter to get his thoughts out, we have a new tweet from him -- a Christmas Eve tweet going after NBC news saying -- you see it on the screen -- "NBC news purposefully left out this part of my nuclear quote, 'Until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes'. Dishonest." Mr. Trump, you can come on CNN and you tell us and we'll get it -- we'll get it right, but we're going to put that aside -- our competitive juices are flowing here -- and talk, more importantly --

BOLDEN: Even on Christmas Eve.

BASH: More importantly, about the substance --

BOLDEN: Or New Years.

BASH: -- of what he is saying. Or whatever -- right -- of the substance of what he is saying.

Ben, let's go to you. Does that clarify things? Does that change the context of what he said?

FERGUSON: One, I think -- I think it definitely changes the context of what he said and that's probably the reason why he put this tweet out there is to make it clear he was taken out of context. But, I also think what you're seeing from Donald Trump is something that's very clear. He is not going to play games; he is going to protect and defend America; he's going to be blunt and bold, and that's what got him to the White House. And he's going to do that on issues like this.

The same way that it -- whether it's negotiating on the price of Air Force One, meeting with Lockheed Martin, dealing with trade issues, drones that are taken from us in the sea, he is going to speak out very clear and publicly early on and that's going to be the way he -- he, not only communicates with the American people, but also with leaders around the world. You're going to know where you stand with Donald Trump and it may be through Twitter.

BOLDEN: Yeah, but Dana, do we know that through Twitter? I mean, talking about expanding an arms race? This is pretty serious, sophisticated stuff. I understand the madman theory and what I understand Ben is saying. At the same time, though, he's got to take some responsibility. If he's going to take his shots, there are ways and times and places to do so, and talking about a nuclear arms race, whether it's conditional or not, on Twitter, at the whim of Donald Trump and his narcissism, isn't the way to do it. And, secondly, other foreign governments --

FERGUSON: I don't think it's on a whim.

BOLDEN: -- my not react the same way. Hold on, Ben. Other foreign governments may not react the same way as we do here in the U.S. That's dangerous.

BASH: Ben, hang on one second; I'll let you in. But, Scott, I want to ask -- you said you understand the madman theory that Elise Labott just described, which Richard Nixon did use with some success, but do you think you buy it? I mean, do you think it could work? Will you -- will you concede that?

BOLDEN: Well, no, I don't concede that, because if you read Donald Trump's biography, he talks about hyperbole, and overselling, and what-have-you. And here, in 2017 -- 2016, we have much more sophisticated international relationships with governments -- governments are more sophisticated; we have social media; we have a lot more complicated, significant issues -- far more than the relationships that Nixon had with China and North Korea and what-have- you and this is dangerous. This is -- if the governments -- if international governments call him on his bluff, if you will, and believe him when they should not believe him, then we've got a real problem with those countries and it will be the narrative driven by Donald Trump and his twitter account.

FERGUSON: Can we --

BASH: Go ahead, Ben.

FERGUASON: Yeah, let me say -- can we go back about two weeks ago when democrats were tweeting out and saying that Donald Trump might start a third war by his comments and his tweets and taking a phone call from the leader in in Taiwan? Guess what? None of that happened. I think what Donald Trump is saying is "I'm going to be direct and I'm going to use Twitter and I'm not going to go through the media every single day to do it." And guess what? Everything is still okay in Taiwan, everything is still okay with China. He's letting them know there's going to be a different person you're going to be negotiating with.

And so, some of the people, I think, that are overreacting are the people that literally were saying he was so crazy to tweet this out, that -- literally that he was going to start a war. That is political posturing and -- and it's ridiculous when people are saying that.

BASH: Ben. Ben, let me --

FERGUSON: And guess what? Everything is fine.

BASH: Let me -- let me propose this hypothetical question to you.

FERGUSON: Sure.

BASH: Let's just say, going back eight years, George W. Bush was still president and incoming president Barack Obama was doing -- you know, saying what he's saying on Twitter, calling world leaders, getting involved in U.N. votes. Would you not be saying excuse me, Mr. Obama, there's only one president at a time?

BOLDEN: Exactly.

FERGUSON: Well, one, Barack Obama actually did get involved. One -- key example, he gave a very public speech basically condemning the moves that were being made on Wall Street on domestic issues weeks before he was sworn in in January. I think it was January the 8th, making it clear that was not going to be his position -- BASH: That's fair, but I'm talking about -- I'm talking about commander-in-chief issues on the world stage. That's fair, but I'm talking about foreign policy.

FERGUSON: Well, look, I think -- right, but, the point is this: It's not unprecedented for presidents to talk about the news of the day. Right now, international news -- terrorism and issues like that are the news of the day, not so much the economy right now. So, I think it is appropriate for, at the time when you're coming into office, to make it clear where you stand, the same way that Barack Obama did it January right before he was sworn in with the biggest news issue. It was the financial crisis that we were in during that moment. If it was a foreign policy, I have a gut feeling that Barack Obama probably would have commented on it, as well, if he disagreed with George Bush. And he did disagree with George Bush and and ran his entire campaign against George Bush on his foreign policy -- shutting down Gitmo, getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

BOLDEN: Yeah, but he didn't --

FERGUSON: He did it, and he also made comments --

BASH: Scott, you get the last word real fast.

BOLDEN: Yeah, but he didn't undermine -- he never undermined Bush. In fact, Bush invited him --

BASH: Sure he did.

BOLDEN: -- to a couple of public meetings and he declined because there is only one president. Listen, Donald Trump is a nuisance, quite frankly, in regard to -- he's outside the tent and there's only one president, and he's not recognizing that.

FERGUSON: He's your president. So get ready for him.

BOLDEN: Hold on Ben. He's not recognizing that, and it's a nuisance, more or less.

BASH: Let's stay civil. It's Christmas Eve, guys.

BOLDEN: It's a -- it's a nuisance, more than anything. But, again, this is his narcissism that is driving this narrative. It wasn't an international incident. It was -- he wasn't commenting about nukes -- I'm talking about Barack Obama. He was not getting involved in U.N. resolutions regarding Israel. This is unheard of, even though he is still president-elect. He has no power. Hold your horse. Be patient. You can make all the changes you want to make, unfortunately, come January 21st, but for now don't undermine the president and don't be so arrogant as to talk about and try to negotiate issues that you're -- you're not -- you don't understand, first of all; and, secondly, you're on the outside (inaudible) looking in.

BASH: I'm glad -- I -- we've got to wrap this up. Everybody has got to take -- take a breath and go have their turkey, and go hug their children, and go hug their families, and sing jingle bells, and do whatever you do to get to your happy place. Thank you so much.

BOLDEN: Does that mean I'm right? Does that mean I'm right?

FERGUSON: Definitely not.

BASH: I think everybody has points. Everybody has points. He says no. Okay. Thank you both very much.

FERGUSON: Thanks, Dana.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

BASH: Merry Christmas to you both.

And, coming up, breaking news on the future of Donald Trump's foundation. What the president-elect just announced. Stay with us. You're live in the CNN newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASH: Well, we have some breaking news now from the Trump transition team. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is on the phone with us from Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Jeremy, what's the news?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN REPORTER: Well, Dana, Donald Trump has just announced in a statement that he's essentially intending to dissolve the Trump Foundation; that's the charitable foundation in his name, and he's saying, essentially, that he's doing so to "avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president." He said he has "decided to continue to pursue his strong interest in philanthropy in other ways." This is, of course, significant because Donald Trump has been working -- and his attorneys and his executives at the Trump organization have been working to find ways to disentangle him from any conflicts of interest, or the appearance of conflicts of interest, before he is sworn into office next month.

And, so, attorneys and executives are continuing to work on this. He said he's planning on giving a press conference next month to talk about the ways in which he plans to remove himself from his business and avoid any conflicts of interest there. Of course, this is just the beginning of several other announcements we expect to hear in the coming weeks as far as how, exactly, he plans to avoid conflicts of interest related to his multibillion dollar corporation.

BASH: Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much for bringing us that breaking news. Appreciate it.

And, speaking of how Donald Trump is ending 2016, it was a year that turned conventional politics on its head and a year filled with unforgettable moments. Which ones are the most indelible? We're counting them down. You're live in the newsroom.

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(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Controversial, unprecedented and unexpected. 2016 was an election for the ages with an ending meant to disrupt Washington and that it did. The fight for the GOP presidential nomination hit new lows in 2016, as republicans scrambled to beat front-runner Donald Trump at his own game.

MARCO RUBIO, SENATOR, FLORIDA: And you know what they say about men with small hands?

(LAUGHTER)

You can't trust them. You can't trust them. You can't trust them.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: The insults got under Trump's skin.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands -- if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee it.

(LAUGHTER)

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: But nothing could knock the billionaire from the top spot.

PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: All right, everybody, welcome.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: In a remarkable display of GOP hesitation and consternation about Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top republican in government, refused to endorse the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

RYAN: Well, to be candid with you, Jake, I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.