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'Star Wars' Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60; Obama & Japanese Leader at USS Arizona Memorial; McCain, Graham Speak out about Russia. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 27, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I turn you over to Jim Sciutto, who's in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. May the force be with you.
[17:00:10] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Iconic star, actress Carrie Fisher, known and beloved around the world for her role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movies, died today. Tributes pouring in from celebrities and her many fans.
Russia's role. President-elect Donald Trump continues to dismiss the role that Russia's cyber hacking played in the presidential election. But Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham say the entire U.S. Senate disagrees with Trump. I'll speak with him in an exclusive interview.
And alliance of hope. Seventy-five years after the day of infamy, Japan's prime minister joins President Obama for an historic visit to the site of the sneak attack that propelled America into World War II. We'll hear live this hour from the leaders.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Sciutto, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
SCIUTTO: And we are following breaking news. The deluge of tributes to actress Carrie Fisher. She was barely out of her teens when her iconic role as Princess Leia in "Star Wars" transformed her into an international star. The love and affection never waned, despite Fisher's struggles with the burdens of celebrity, mental illness, drugs and alcohol. Fisher returned to her most famous role in last year's newest installment of the "Star Wars" saga. She was flying from London to Los Angeles last week when she suffered a heart attack.
Also breaking this hour, an historic moment of unity between former enemies. We're standing by for live remarks from President Obama and the prime minister of Japan. They're visiting the USS Arizona memorial, the first time a Japanese leader has done so, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by to bring you full coverage of the breaking news, as well as all of today's top stories.
Let's begin, though, with the reaction to today's death of "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is live in Los Angeles -- Paul.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I'm on Hollywood Boulevard, where people often dress in "Star Wars" costumes. And they observed a moment of silence for Carrie Fisher earlier.
And one man dressed as Darth Vader sort of encapsulated what so many here say. He remembers her from "Star Wars," and like so many young men, he had a crush on her.
But Carrie Fisher was a lot more than just that Princess Leia character.
CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS: I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash.
VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Carrie Fisher won the hearts of generations as Princess Leia, in arguably the most beloved movie franchise ever, "Star Wars."
(MUSIC: "STAR WARS THEME")
VERCAMMEN: Princess on screen, Hollywood royalty off it, with a sharp wit and sharper pen. Fisher was born in Beverly Hills. Mother, actress Debbie Reynolds; father, singer Eddie Fisher.
FISHER: I was primarily brought up by my mother, but I saw my father.
VERCAMMEN: Fisher deftly wove her experiences as a showbiz kid who struggled with addiction into the best-selling comedic novel "Postcards from the Edge."
FISHER: I was writing different takes on obsession. So I think of that as sort of the edge. And I thought of it in the car one day driving back from Palm Springs with the music up loud.
VERCAMMEN: Fisher turned her acclaimed book into a movie starring Meryl Streep as a recovering addict embroiled in constant, often funny, mother-daughter drama.
MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Remember my 17th birthday party when you lifted your skirt up in front of all those people.
SHIRLEY MCCLAIN, ACTRESS: I did not. It twirled up!
VERCAMMEN: Fisher poked fun at the absurdities of showbiz life and all manner of self-medication, including taking pills to control her emotions.
FISHER: Any mood stabilizer is a weight gainer. So whether you feel better, but then you're fat. So what you gain is a loss. It's just -- it's not a good situation.
VERCAMMEN: Fisher spoke about being bipolar and often turned pain into humor, also writing "Wishful Drinking," and "Shockaholic."
There seemed no lack of material. After all, Elizabeth Taylor became her stepmother when Eddie Fisher remarried.
Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon in the 1980s. Years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Billie Catherine, from her relationship with agent Bryan Lourd.
She debuted in the acclaimed film "Shampoo."
FISHER: They're not. I wasn't like my mother.
VERCAMMEN: In between the "Star Wars" movies, Fisher landed a mish- mash of movie roles. Some stinkers: "Under the Rainbow," "Hollywood Vice Squad"...
FISHER: I bet you have names for every part of your body.
VERCAMMEN: ... received praise for "Soap Dish"...
FISHER: I think we found our waiter.
VERCAMMEN: ... and played Meg Ryan's wise-cracking friend in "When Harry Met Sally."
FISHER: Someone is staring at you in Personal Growth.
VERCAMMEN: But nothing could, would or perhaps should loom larger on screen than Fisher in "Star Wars.."
FISHER: Transported you. It was extraordinary entertainment film maker.
LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: Do you like the princess?
FISHER: I have her over sometimes. She's a little bitchy, you know?
[17:05:12] VERCAMMEN: In 2016, 40 years after making "Star Wars," she wrote a book based on her diaries and, for the first time, revealed an intense affair with the real Han Solo, Harrison Ford. It was Han and Leia during the week and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend, she wrote. Ford has not commented.
Fisher spent a lifetime trying to separate the princess from the person, one wisecrack at a time.
FISHER: I always felt like I was restricted, because I was bigger than life and twice as unpleasant.
VERCAMMEN: And back here live on Hollywood Boulevard, one aspiring actress praising Carrie Fisher for her bravery saying, because she was so open talking about her addiction and being bipolar, perhaps many other people also had the courage to discuss such challenges.
Back to you now, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Paul Vercammen, live from Los Angeles.
For more insights on her career, her impact, we're joined now by Matthew Bellamy. He's executive editor of "The Hollywood Reporter." Sara Nathan, she's executive editor of People.com. Also, "Entertainment Tonight" host and CNN contributor Nischelle Turner. It's great to have all of you here tonight.
Nathan, if I could start with you. One of the many impacts, lasting impacts, Sara, that Carrie Fisher will have on our culture is her outspoken advocacy on the issues: mental illness, drug addiction, things that she suffered herself. I want to play a brief exchange she had with Larry King in 1990.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You know why you were an addict, Carrie? Is that explainable?
FISHER: No. Well, I don't know. I mean, I think my father is or was one. He just got out of Betty Ford. And I was very like him in my tastes. I liked -- I didn't like illegal drugs. I liked legal drugs. So I liked medicine, because I liked the philosophy of it. You're going to feel better when you take two or eight of these.
FISHER: And I always wanted to feel better. And one of the side effects of Percodan is euphoria. And I thought that was a side effect that I could easily live with. Doesn't matter that the rest of them that follow that are palpitations, heart attack and death. I couldn't get over euphoria.
KING: Are you now over euphoria?
FISHER: Ha, ha. I'm dysphoric now. Am I over the need to be...
FISHER: ... euphoric? Yes. Or I'll have to find other methods, because the route I took led to rehab. But now I just drive with the radio up really loud or do a relaxing talk show when I really want to feel great and like myself.
KING: Is it -- is it day-to-day? Kitty -- Kitty Dukakis is going to be with us Monday. And she ends her book by saying it's still day-to- day difficult. Is it the day-to-day difficult for you?
FISHER: Well, sometimes it can be minute to minute. Some of the days aren't that difficult, and some of them are worse. Sometimes I want an IV hookup everywhere that I am. But you know, if you can't have it, you just have to sort of put your head down and move through those feelings and hope that you're building the right kind of character.
SCIUTTO: Sara Nathan, that's pretty a remarkably candid description of the struggles of addiction.
SARA NATHAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, PEOPLE.COM: Yes, absolutely. And I think the one thing that is the legacy, the shining legacy of Carrie Fisher is actually just was so very honest about her addiction and her struggles, whether she was talking about electric shock therapy, she was talking about her battles with weight gain after taking prescription pills and illegal pills, whether she was talking about her battles with Debbie Fisher, she was so honest. And I think that really helped so many people.
SCIUTTO: Nischelle, certainly she was vocal on mental health and drug addiction.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
SCIUTTO: But she was also a feminist icon, as well.
TURNER: Yes. Almost an accidental feminist, you know, because Princess Leia was, for you know, our generation, I think one of the first really kind of, if I could say bad-ass feminist and females' roles on film. And the interesting thing was, you know, George Lucas wasn't quite sold on whether or not he wanted Princess Leia to be so in-your-face and strong, but that's who Carrie Fisher was, so that's who she brought to that character; and that's what we saw on the screen. And then this, you know, iconic, immortal character was born for us.
And I know a lot of little girls -- I was one of them -- looked at Princess Leia, wanted those buns on my hair and wanted to walk around with a sword and just be tough and strong. So yes, she very much, very much was an advocate for feminism and for women.
SCIUTTO: Well, a lot of little boys, I can attest, mesmerized by her -- by her, as well.
TURNER: You're right!
[17:10:00] SCIUTTO: Matthew, Fisher -- Fisher, she raised a lot of eyebrows last month, revealing that she had an affair with her costar, Harrison Ford, during her filming of the original "Star Wars" in 1997 -- 1977, rather, only 19 at the time. What more can you tell us about that and her decision to go public with that almost 40 years later?
MATTHEW BELLAMY, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Well, it was perfectly in character with who she was. She has been honest and forthright and, you know, has pulled no punches throughout most of her career. She's always outspoken. She was a big tweeter. Whenever you'd interview her, you could always count on her for a fresh and honest take.
She would not be shy about political opinions. She said recently that, if she could use the force, she would get rid of Donald Trump. So she was not afraid to say what she thought. And this admission in
her diary -- in her book about her diary was not a surprise. It was actually -- I remember when I saw it, I said, "Oh, of course she's talking about this now."
SCIUTTO: Harrison Ford, I should mention, just released a statement on Fisher's death. I'll read from it here. He said, "Carrie was one- of-a-kind, brilliant, original, funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely."
Sara Nathan, that really gets to -- gets to her, both her artistic talent as an actress but also her -- her outspokenness on all these other personal issues.
NATHAN: Absolutely. And I think the one thing we all loved about her was just that she was so very outspoken.
I loved her from when I was a little girl. And, you know, we were just saying, you know, you grow up watching her be so outspoken and be so brilliant and be that accidental feminist. And even in the most recent -- I loved watching her recently in a -- in a TV show called "Catastrophe." She was her usual brilliant self in that.
SCIUTTO: Nischelle, one thing, and I'm sure fans wonder what effect does this have on the "Star Wars" franchise? There were reports that they've already finished filming her role in the next installment next year. Is that right? Can the next -- can the show go on, in effect, after her passing?
TURNER: Well, yes, I think the show can go on. I think what it does is just cement her legacy. I think it cements her legacy, like we've been talking about, as one of the most iconic characters in film history.
I mean, she -- she kind of took over "Star Wars," and you know, it was supposed to be Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and their movie. But it became Princess Leia in many respects. And so I think that what this does with her passing is just cements her legacy.
And I think that, yes, the show can go on, because she was in "The Force Awakens," but in "Rogue One," you know, we didn't see her. So I think the show can go on, definitely. And I think it will, but I think that there will be a lot of respect paid to and for her in the installments to come.
SCIUTTO: I'll tell you, we just played a clip there when she made her appearance in the most recent installment last year. And I'll tell you, I remember being in the movie theater there, the cheers, the applause that came up when...
TURNER: Yes, exactly!
SCIUTTO: ... she walked onto the screen.
But I want to -- I'm going to turn the clock back now 40-some-odd years to the audition tape of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford before the first "Star Wars." Let's have a look at this.
FISHER: All the data banks in R-2 are still secure.
HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: Well, I think that we ought to have the reward that you were talking about. And I hope it will be substantial, considering what we've been through already.
FISHER: When R-2 has been safely delivered to my forces, you'll get your reward. You have my guarantee.
FORD: What's the little droid carrying that's so blasted important?
FISHER: The plans and specifications to a battle station with enough fire power to destroy an entire system. Our only hope in destroying it is to find its weakness, which we will determine from the data I stored in R-2. We captured the plans in a raid on the imperial shipyards, but we -- we fell under attack before I could get the data to safety, so I hid it in this R-2 unit and sent him off.
FORD: Now where are you taking us?
FISHER: The fourth moon of Yavin.
I've given the coordinates to Chewbacca.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Matt Bellamy, as you look at that there, I mean, you see some of the sass that she brought to life in that performance as Princess Leia. And keep in mind, she was still a teenager at this point.
BELLAMY: Absolutely. She was 19 years old when she was cast. And she beat out a number of other young actresses, including Jodie Foster, who Carrie Fisher has said that she thought she was going to lose the role to.
And absolutely, the essence of Princess Leia is there in that audition. George Lucas has said that, when he saw her, he absolutely knew that this was the right person for the character.
SCIUTTO: Matt Bellamy, Sara Nathan, Nischelle Turner. Thanks so much for helping us remember this remarkable life and career but also a life going through struggle and sharing that struggle.
NATHAN: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: I want to remind our viewers, we're standing by for President Obama, who is in Japan [SIC] You see the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, speaking there, this at the memorial for the "USS Arizona." President Obama will follow him shortly. [17:15:06] Also ahead, a CNN exclusive. I spoke earlier with senators
John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They are traveling in Eastern Europe now, right in the middle of the growing struggle with Russia. We speak with them exclusively. All this after this break.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back, breaking news. President Obama speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Abe near the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. President -- joining his comments now. Let's listen.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We salute the defenders of Oahu, who pulled themselves a little straighter every December 7; and we reflect on the heroism that's shown here 75 years ago.
As dawn broke that December day, paradise never seemed so sweet. The water was warm and impossibly blue. Sailors ate in the mess hall or readied themselves for church, dressed in crisp white shorts and T- shirts. In the harbor, ships at anchor floated in neat rows: the California, the Maryland, and the Oklahoma; the Tennessee, the West Virginia and the Nevada. On the deck of the Arizona, the Navy band was tuning up.
That morning, the ranks on men's shoulders defined them less than the courage in their hearts. Across the island, Americans defended themselves however they could: firing trading (ph) shells, working old bolt-action rifles.
An African-American mess steward who would typically be confined to cleaning duties carried his commander to safety and then fired an anti-aircraft gun until he ran out of ammo.
We honor Americans like Jim Downing, a gunner's mate first class of the West Virginia. Before he raced to the harbor his new bride pressed into his hand a verse of scripture, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
As Jim fought to save his ship, he simultaneously gathered the names of the fallen so that he could give closure to their families. He said it was just something you do.
We remember Americans like Harry Payne, a fireman from Honolulu, who in the face of withering fire, worked to douse burning planes until he gave his last full measure of devotion. One of the only civilian firefighters ever to receive the Purple Heart.
We salute Americans like Chief Petty Officer John Finn, who manned a .50-caliber machine gun for more than two hours and was wounded more than 20 times, earning him our nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
And it is here that we reflect on how war tests our most enduring values, how, even as Japanese-Americans were deprived of their own liberty during the war, one of the most decorated military units in the history of the United States, was the 442nd infantry regiment and its 100th Infantry Battalion, the Japanese-American Nisei.
In that 442nd served by friend and proud Hawaiian Daniel Inoue, a man who was a senator from Hawaii for most of my life and with whom I would find myself proud to serve in the Senate chamber. A man who was not only the recipient of the Medal of Honor and the presidential Medal of Freedom but was one of the most distinguished statesman of his generation, as well.
Here at Pearl Harbor, America's first battle of the Second World War roused a nation. Here in so many ways, America came of age. A generation of Americans, including my grandparents, that greatest generation, they did not seek war, but they refused to shrink from it. And they all did their part on fronts and in factories.
And while, 75 years later, the proud ranks of Pearl Harbor survivors have thinned with time, the bravery we recall here is forever etched in our national heart.
I would ask all our Pearl Harbor and World War II veterans who are able to please stand or raise your hands, because a grateful nation thanks you.
The character of nations is tested in war, but it is defined in peace. After one of the most horrific chapters in human history, one that took not tens of thousands but tens of millions of lives, with ferocious fighting across this ocean, the United States and Japan chose friendship, and they chose peace.
[17:25:06] Over the decades, our alliance has made both of our nations more successful. It has helped underwrite an international order that has prevented another world war and that has lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty.
Today the alliance between the United States and Japan, bound not only by shared interests but also rooted in common values, stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asian Pacific and a force for progress around the globe.
Our alliance has never been stronger. In good times and in bad, we are there for each other. Recall five years ago when a wall of water bored down an Japan and reactors in Fukushima melted. America's men and women in uniform were there to help our Japanese friends.
Across the globe, the United States and Japan worked shoulder to shoulder to strengthen the security of the Asia Pacific and the world. Turning back piracy, combatting disease, slowing the spread of nuclear weapons, keeping the peace in war-torn lands.
Earlier this year near Pearl Harbor, Japan joined with two dozen nations in the world's largest maritime military exercise, and that included our forces from U.S. Pacific Command, led by Admiral Harry Harris, the son of an American naval officer and a Japanese mother. Harry was born in Yokosuka, but you wouldn't know it from his Tennessee twang. Thank you, Harry, for your outstanding leadership.
In this sense, our presence here today, the connections not just between our governments but between our people, the presence of Prime Minister Abe here today, remind us of what is possible between nations and between peoples. Wars can end. The most bitter of adversaries can become the strongest of allies. The fruits of peace always outweigh the plunder of war. This is the enduring truth of this hallowed harbor.
It is here that we remember that, even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different. The sacrifice made here, the anguish of war, reminds us to seek the divine spark that is common to all humanity. It insists that we strive to be what our Japanese friends called "Otagai no tame ni," "with and for each other."
That's the lesson of Captain William Callahan of The Missouri. Even after an attack on his ship, he ordered that the Japanese pilot be laid to rest with military honors, wrapped in a Japanese flag sewn by American sailors.
It's the lesson, in turn, of the Japanese pilot who, years later, returned to this harbor, befriended an old Marine bugler, and asked him to play "Taps" and lay roses at this memorial every month, one for America's fallen and one for Japan's.
It's a lesson our two peoples learn every day in the most ordinary of ways, whether it's Americans studying in Tokyo, young Japanese studying across America, scientists from our two nations together unraveling the mysteries of cancer or combatting climate change, exploring the stars.
[17:30:15] It's a baseball player like Ichiro lighting up a stadium in Miami, buoyed by the shared pride of two peoples, both American and Japanese, united in peace and friendship.
As nations and as people, we cannot choose the history that we inherit, but we can choose what lessons to draw from it. And use those lessons to chart our own futures.
Mr. Abe, I welcome you here in the spirit of friendship, as the people of Japan have always welcomed me. I hope that, together, we send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war, that reconciliation carries more rewards than retribution. Here in this quiet harbor, we honor those we lost, and we give thanks for all that our two nations have won together, as friends.
May God hold the fallen in his everlasting arms. May He watch over our veterans and all who stand guard on our behalf. May God bless us all. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: You've been listening there to President Obama speaking alongside the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, at Pearl Harbor. The president ending with a message there, saying they hope to send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war. Seventy-five years since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Coming up, we will have more on today's other breaking news story, the death of "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher. Reaction continues to come in from her friends and colleagues.
Also ahead, a CNN exclusive. I'm joined by senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to talk about the many and growing threats posed by Russia's Vladimir Putin.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:36:24] SCIUTTO: We continue to follow the breaking news of actress Carrie Fisher's death. We will have more on her life and career in a moment.
We are also following important developments as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators takes a firsthand look at new, aggressive moves by Russia's Vladimir Putin.
SCIUTTO: I'm joined now by Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham. They're coming from us from Tallinn, Estonia. Thanks to both of you for taking the time on this very important trip.
Senator McCain, if I could begin with you. Both you and Senator Graham have criticized President Obama for being weak on Russia. President-elect Trump, he has repeatedly discussed a friendlier relationship with Russia, for instance, letting the annexation, even, of Crimes stand. Senator McCain, is that a danger to the national security of the U.S. and, in particular, its Eastern European allies?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think, if that happened, obviously, it would. But I have seen General Mattis, and he has very strong statement -- views on it, and so do many others.
So I believe that Vladimir Putin is a thug and a bully, and I believe that that has become apparent. And one of the reasons why Lindsey Graham and I are here is to reassure our allies of strong support from the United States Senate and the Armed Services Committee.
SCIUTTO: Well, let me ask you this, then, because Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the assessment of the U.S. Intelligence committee that Russia, led by Putin, the dictator and the thug, as you described him, that Russia hacked the U.S. election.
Senator Graham, are you concerned that Trump is, in effect, siding with a dangerous adversary of the United States against his own intelligence agencies?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, when I heard that President-elect Trump basically dismissed the intelligence, I was very shocked, because I'd been briefed by the FBI. There's no doubt in my mind that Russia hacked into our political systems, that it was Russian groups that hacked into John Podesta's e-mail at the DNC. They hacked into my campaign account.
Reince Priebus said that the president-elect would accept the results if all the intelligence community is on the same sheet of music. Well, now the FBI, the CIA and the D.I., director of national intelligence, all are saying the same thing, that the Russians tried to influence our elections.
SCIUTTO: Do you have any explanation for why the president-elect still refuses to, then, accept that assessment, particularly now that he's being briefed, presumably, on the classified intelligence that led to that assessment?
MCCAIN: Well, Jim, I think he -- he will be, when presented with the overwhelming evidence, change his view. And he has said some things, like he wants to spend more money on defense. He has said some favorable things about NATO.
But on the issue of the Russians, I mean, there is no doubt about it, and we have to act and we have to have a policy, which this administration does not have, and a strategy, which this administration does not have, and address this threat to our national security. If they're able to undermine an election, they are able, then, to undermine democracy.
SCIUTTO: But let me ask you this, because the president-elect has had...
GRAHAM: Jim, if I may add...
SCIUTTO: He's had multiple opportunities -- and I do want you to answer, Senator Graham -- to, both before and after the election, to accept that assessment. And yet he's doubled and tripled down on talking about a cozier relationship with Putin, denying the intelligence community's assessment. What are you going to do, Senator Graham and Senator McCain, if he doesn't change his tune, in effect, on Russia?
[17:40:04] GRAHAM: There are 100 United States senators. Amy Klobuchar is on this trip with us. She's a Democrat from Minnesota. I would say that 99 of us believe the Russians did this, and we're going to do something about it. Along with Senator McCain, after this trip's over, we'll have the hearings. And we're going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual, and his inner circle, for interfering in our election.
And they're doing it all over the world, not just in the United States. Estonia is hit all the time. They're interfering in elections and democratic countries' efforts to self-determination all over the world. It's just not in our back yard.
SCIUTTO: Senator Graham, you're right in the middle of it there, in the Baltics, arguably the most nervous NATO allies right now in light of Russia's moves in Ukraine, Crimes, et cetera.
GRAHAM: Right. Right.
SCIUTTO: What are they expressing to you about their concerns about Trump's commitment to NATO, as well as his cozier relationship with Russia? How concerned are they? GRAHAM: Well, what they're telling us is that there has been a
massive Russian military build-up in the western military district of Russia along the Balkan's borders in Poland. The Russians are absolutely increasing military capabilities in this region.
We have American forces over here training with Estonians. We have an American company over here. John McCain and Lindsey Graham believe and will advise the president-elect that, when he becomes president, to continually keep U.S. troops in the region, partnering with training, advising, assisting, exercising with our Balkan partners, to reassure them of our commitment.
Apparently, President-elect Trump has reached out to political leaders in Estonia to reassure them of his commitment to NATO. So I'm going to give him a chance to lead. I think he will. And the best thing the president-elect could do when he becomes president is to keep a continued U.S. military presence, along with a NATO presence, in the Balkans.
SCIUTTO: Senator McCain, do you have any doubt that, if Vladimir Putin were to invade a NATO ally, for instance, Estonia, do you believe that President Trump would send U.S. forces to defend them.
MCCAIN: I do believe that. And I believe that the president-elect will understand better over time the need for an American presence here, the need for, as he himself has said, we need to rebuild the military, which has been harmed dramatically over the last eight years.
SCIUTTO: Senator, please stand by for a moment. We're going to take a very quick break and be back to continue the conversation in just a moment.
[17:46:36] SCIUTTO: -- from Tallinn, Estonia.
Senator McCain, if I could start with you. Donald Trump, as you know, has threatened to expand America's nuclear arsenal, even suggested that he would welcome a nuclear arms race with Russia and other nuclear powers. As you know, nuclear arms reduction has been a bipartisan priority for decades. In your view, are his comments, in this case via Twitter, are they dangerous?
MCCAIN: I believe that there -- it's patently obvious that Vladimir Putin is increasing his nuclear arsenal. He is violating agreements that he has made concerning certain types of nuclear weapons, and we need to have a strong nuclear inventory, and we ought to do what we can to make Vladimir Putin stay with the agreements that he signed that he is now violating.
SCIUTTO: Senator Graham, on the issue of nukes, you, during the campaign, had been critical of many of Donald Trump's positions and the way he's expressed those positions on key national security issues. Do you worry that Trump's communication style, using Twitter, could
lead to misunderstanding, potentially escalate conflicts, over what are sensitive, arguably the most sensitive issues, involving nuclear weapons, whether it's a North Korea or a Pakistan or Russia? How concerned are you about that being a platform for stating potential changes in U.S. security policy?
GRAHAM: Well, when it comes to the nuclear issue, President-elect Trump said we need to modernize our nuclear force, and we do as some of it is falling into a state of disrepair. But I will be honest with you, I'm not so sure this is the best way to communicate. It's up to him. He beat me. He is President of the United States.
All I can say is that, one thing Putin has done, he has brought Democrats and Republicans together to go after him. I think most of us, Democrats and Republicans, really believe that Russia is up to no good all over the world. They're trying to break the back of democracies.
And if we don't push back against Putin, Iran and China, they could hack into our systems. Today it's Democrats, tomorrow it could be Republicans with the Iranians and Chinese. Trump says he's going to be tough with Iran and China. He needs to be.
Well, we need so show any nation what happens to them if they try to interfere in our democratic process. To my Republican colleagues, it's the Democrats today. It could be us tomorrow.
SCIUTTO: The point is the President-elect doesn't just have a minor difference on that issue, a slightly different approach, at least in his public comments so far. He has a diametrically opposed concern about this. He says Russia, not a threat. He wants to get closer to Russia. He denies that Russia hacked the election.
I mean, that's not a minor adjustment to the view of Russia that, for instance, you and, you said, 99 members of the Senate have. How do you rectify that?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, let me point out that I have disagreed with Republican presidents in the past. I had disagreed with Ronald Reagan when he sent marines to Lebanon. I had said that Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, had to be fired because of his failure in Iraq. So it's not unusual for me not to agree with the President of the United States.
And on this issue, as we have hearings on cyber, which will be, I think, very helpful to helping him understand the threat that cyber poses, and I believe that he will take appropriate action in order to help us counter what is really a threat to the very fundamental of democracy, which is the ability to distort the outcome of the free and fair election.
[17:50:22] SCIUTTO: Senator McCain, one signal as to Donald Trump's approach to an issue such as Russia, of course, will be his senior appointments. And Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, he has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin which you called, quote, "a matter of concern." Do you believe there will be a confirmation showdown next month over Tillerson even though Republicans have the majority in the Senate?
MCCAIN: I have concerns and I will wait until the nominee responds to the questions that we have, clarify his positions, and clarify his record. Every elected President has the -- it's not the right but the President should be able to name that nominee that the President chooses, and then the Congress and the United States Senate exercises its role of advice and consent. And that's what I will be exercising in the case of Mr. Tillerson.
And, yes, I have concerns. I have concerns about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, with relationships with Russia, and other issues as well. And so we'll wait and see. I am supposed to meet with Mr. Tillerson and I look forward to that opportunity.
SCIUTTO: Senator Graham, finally, you're very aware of this public confrontation between the U.S. and Israel over the U.N. Security Council resolution on Israel's settlement policy. Under President Trump, do you believe that the relationship will improve?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. I am very pleased, what I've heard from President-elect Trump about our relationship with Israel. This resolution basically declaring that the western wall is part of the occupied territory is ridiculous. It's a break in policy.
For decades, we've had a dispute with Israel about settlements but every President has agreed not to take that dispute to the U.N. Security Council. And as B.B. says, you don't take friends to the U.N. Security Council.
What I thought the U.N. Security Council did was really, quite frankly, outrageous. It undercuts the prospects of peace. And I will be working with my colleagues to push back against this resolution, either cut off funding, suspend funding, or some form of reprisal against the United Nations to give President Trump some leverage to get a better outcome. So I'm very encouraged that under president Trump, Israel's going to get a better deal.
SCIUTTO: Senator Graham, Senator McCain, thanks very much for taking the time, and we wish you safe travels home.
Our experts are here now to react to what we've just heard from Senators Graham and McCain.
Josh Rogin, if I could ask you, this is a pretty remarkable division between the President-elect, not only the intelligence community but, as you heard Senator Graham say, 99 U.S. Senators. They seem to be hoping he will come around, Mr. Trump on Russia. What is that hope based on?
JOSH ROGIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: They're making their case. They're literally traveling the world to collect evidence to present to the incoming administration to prove that Russia did this beyond any reasonable doubt. And as you pointed out very skillfully in your interview, if President Trump doesn't want to believe it, he's not going to believe it.
They can pass sanctions. They can hold hearings. They can have intelligence officials make statements. In the end, the only person that matters is the President-elect. They're doing their best to collect as much evidence as possible. They're not there yet.
SCIUTTO: General Hertling, Senator McCain says that he's confident that President-elect Trump would, if necessary, defend NATO members from Russian aggression. But, of course, you're very aware, Donald Trump's comments, both, you know, before and after the election, have questioned the U.S. commitment to NATO. Should U.S. NATO allies, particularly in Eastern Europe, be concerned? Should they be fearful?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. ARMY EUROPE AND THE SEVENTH ARMY: Well, I'm very biased, first of all, Jim, in favor of NATO. I think it's a terrific organization that has expanded the communication and the exercises and the support on combat and other areas among the 28 nations of NATO. And that goes even beyond those 28 nations.
The concerns I have right now are nations outside of NATO like Ukraine and Georgia and Moldova, some of those other ones that are not receiving the support that they should from the United States. So I believe that, as Josh just said, there is a lot of evidence out there.
I think once Mr. Trump is presented with it, if he does have the ability to kind of expand his worldview a little bit and see how important this organization that's been around for over 70 years is, I think he will begin to understand how critically important NATO is in securing the continued peace of Europe and areas outside of Europe.
[17:55:09] SCIUTTO: It will be pretty remarkable to have that happen only after becoming President. General Hertling, thanks very much. Josh Rogin as well.
Coming up, new reaction as "Star Wars" fans around the globe learn of today's breaking news, the death of actress Carrie Fisher. You'll also hear more of Fisher's own thoughts on that iconic character of hers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS: It was extraordinary entertainment film making.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like the princess?
FISHER: I have her over sometimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Happening now. Breaking news. Loss of a legend. Generations of fans are mourning the death of actress Carrie Fisher who brought one of the most iconic roles in movie history to life as Princess Leia in "Star Wars." This hour, new reaction from Hollywood.
From enemies to allies. President Obama and Japan's Prime Minister pay a historic visit to Pearl Harbor, 75 years after the surprise Japanese attack. Tonight, Mr. Obama is reminding the world and a divided nation at home that old wounds can heal.
[18:00:05] Trump's choice. The President-elect reaches back to the Bush era to select the top Homeland Security and cyber terror adviser.