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Thomas Bossert to Serve as Assistant to Trump on Homeland Security & Counterterrorism; Trump Blasts Obama for Saying He Could Have Beat Trump in Election; Trump to Dissolve Trump Foundation; Carrie Fisher Dies at 60; Japanese Prime Minister Visits Pearl Harbor; 21 Chibok Girls Return Home, Celebrate Christmas. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 13:30   ET



[13:32:15] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news, the sad news that actress and writer, Carrie Fisher, has died at age 60. We're going to continue to bring you more on that story in just a moment.

But while we're gathering elements and guests, let's turn to politics, which continues.

The Trump team says that Thomas Bossert will serve as assistant to President Trump for Homeland Security and counterterrorism.

Jeff Zeleny, our senior Washington correspondent, is covering this from Florida, where the president-elect is spending the holiday.

Jeff, what more can you tell us about this new appointment?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPODNENT: Jake, last week, Thomas Bossert met here with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago as he was going through his final meetings with some potential West Wing advisers, and he named today Thomas Bossert to be his head of Homeland Security, counterterrorism and cyber threats. As you said, cyberthreats so important in this era. And Bossert is from the George W. Bush administration, a deputy Homeland Security adviser in the final years and held positions for George W. Bush as well. He's a reliable, trusted, steady hand to many established Republicans in Washington, many of whom are breathing a sigh of relief Donald Trump is bringing him aboard.

But, Jake, we're finding out some information about his position. He's going to work alongside retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who, of course, has already been named national security adviser. But Donald Trump is essentially going to have those two working side-by- side. But Thomas Bossert is going to head up the national security threats here on the homeland, and Michael Flynn will be handling international threats. And that is different than is currently being done in the Obama administration -- Jake?

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, live from Palm Beach, Florida. Thank you so much. President-elect Trump has been keep a low profile, except when it

comes to Twitter, of course. His latest blast was aimed towards President Obama. President Obama said he could have defeated Donald Trump with his message' of hope and inclusion.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am confident in this vision, because I'm confident that if I -- if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.


TAPPER: In response, President-elect Trump tweeted, quote, "President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that. But I say, no way. Jobs leaving, ISIS, Obamacare, et cetera."

Let's bring in our panel to discuss, Juana Summers, CNN Politics editor, CNN Politics reporter, Eugene Scott; and our CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, not a lot of humility from President Obama. Not a lot of humility from President-elect Trump.

[13:35:08] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very well put. From neither.

But having said that, given the kind of reaction that Donald Trump usually has from a statement like he heard from President Obama, his tweet was a little tempered.

TAPPER: Fairly restrained.

BASH: Yes, I think even he got that the person who was -- who was kind of getting the back of Barack Obama's hand is Hillary Clinton, and not so much Donald Trump. So, he was a little restrained.

You know what? Just for everybody's, never mind it's the holidays, just sort of as our nation tries to move on, probably it's better for the current president to stop the should have, would have, could have game, or at least wait until out of office for, I don't know, a day, a month or so. You know what? He had a nice conversation with his friend --

TAPPER: David Axelrod.

BASH: -- David Axelrod, our colleague. When you have that comfort level, things like that come out.

TAPPER: But I have to say, Eugene, President Obama, because we are now talking about the behavior of children, President Obama started it. I mean, he's the one who said, I could have beat him. Not nice to Hillary Clinton. Not nice to Donald Trump.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think what the president was trying to communicate was to dana's part, that perhaps Hillary Clinton was not as effective at mobilizing the Obama coalition. Voters still there who wanted to get behind something, but didn't seem like they had an option in this election, and I think he believes that he is the one who could have done that.

TAPPER: Let me change the subject a little bit to something that Donald Trump tweeted about his foundation, the Trump Foundation, this controversial charity foundation, which he says he'd going to shut down now. He tweeted, "I gave millions of dollars to the Donald J. Trump foundation, raised millions more, all of which given to charity and media won't report."

We've been reported he's given millions, but he hasn't given any money since 2008 to the foundation. The way the foundation worked, in general, was he collected money from other people and gave it.

Why is it important for him to shut down the foundation, do you think?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: It's important to him. We've reported, since Donald Trump was elected president there is this long slew of entanglements he has, these perceived or actual conflicts of interest. It makes it important for him to shut it down, even giving away to misgivings.

But what is interesting to me about the tweet, turning it back on the media. He said I'm doing this great work. You noted, Jake, the money given out since 2008 and 2009 has been other people's money, not his own money and doling out, he said, of course, it's the media's fault. He's done nothing wrong and that's the message he's sending to Americans and his supporters.

TAPPER: And the charity is under investigation by the attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, a Hillary Clinton supporter. But questions whether or not he's been self-dealing. Paid for legal fees for something completely separate, not having to do with the foundation. Through the foundation, he apparently, according to the great reporting of David Fahrenthold, paid for a giant portrait of himself.

BASH: Six-feet tall.

TAPPER: Is it six?

BASH: Apparently.


BASH: Shorter than him. I guess it wasn't life size.

TAPPER: I guess not.


The point is I'm sure it's done good. There's also some questions about how he has spent money from this foundation? BASH: Yes, sure. No question. Why it is under investigation, which

is why it's not so easy to say I'm just shutting it down. You know. But I think that the bigger issue and the bigger question is -- whether or not this is a little bit of a teaser what could be to come? This is pretty small stuff.

TAPPER: Compared to the rest of his global empire?

BASH: Compared to the rest of his global empire, which is for-profit, which is, you know, obviously, all very legal when you are a businessman, to be encouraging people to give you money for your product. Very different questions about that, to your point before, when your president of the United States, and so that is "the" thing we have to focus on and get the answers on, allegedly, we'll do soon. Only 20 days?

TAPPER: At some point. At some point.

Thanks, one and all. Appreciate you being here.

[13:39:12] We're still following breaking news of the death of "Star Wars" actress and famous writer, Carrie Fisher. Much more after this quick break. Stay with us.


TAPPER: We are following the sad breaking news, the death of actress and author, Carrie Fisher. She became a beloved figure to millions in the late '70s with the character Princess Leia, who she portrayed in the "Star Wars" series. Daughter of screen legend, Debbie Reynolds, and Singer Eddie Fisher. She passed away four days after she suffered a cardiac event on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She was just 60 years old.

Joining us on the phone right now is "Entertainment Tonight" host and CNN contributor, Nischelle Turner.

Nischelle, give us a sense of the impact Carrie Fisher had on the industry?

NISCHELLE TURNER, HOST, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT & CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Well, she had an enormous impact on the entertainment industry. She played one of the most iconic characters in Princess Leia, back in 1977. She beat out Jody Foster and Amy Irving for the part. Just last year, she reprised the role in "The Force Awakens." And people were excited about her playing Princess Leia as they were when she first got the role in 1977.

Her career spanned so many decades. Not only in movies, you mentioned she wrote many books, but she also did a lot of television. You know, she was in "The Big Bang Theory" and actually was in London filming the third season of "Catastrophe" an Amazon Prime television series that shoots there. Definitely still a working actress.

She said once, interesting in an interview with "Rolling Stone" she was trained in celebrity. What she knew. Felt she would go into the family business. Of course, her mother was Debbie Reynolds, her father, Eddie Fisher. She went into the family business and really did well.

This has been a really rough week, Jake. You know, I just want to kind of lay it out to you. In the past week. I have reported on the deaths of Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Comedian Ricky Harris, and now Carrie Fisher. I just don't even know what's coming next.

[13:45:04] TAPPER: Yeah. Nischelle, stay there.

I want to read from tweets sent by her former co-stars, friends.

Mark Hamill, of course, who played Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" franchise, writes, "No words," and then "#devastated." A picture of him and Carrie Fisher from back in the day.

Billy D. Williams, who played Lando in the "Star Wars" franchise, writes, "I'm deeply saddened at the news of Carrie's passing. She was a dear friend I greatly respected and admired. The force is dark today."

And one from writer, Alfred Brooks (ph), "RIP, Carrie Fisher, a brilliant, funny woman. We will miss your humor now more than ever."

She had a lot of friends in Hollywood, people admired not only her talent but also her perseverance.

TURNER: Absolutely. She admitted having an affair with Harrison Ford when they first did "Star Wars" back in the day, and wishes maybe she didn't say that because it got so much lengths and made so much news. But we heard from Harrison Ford right after she had the cardiac event on the plane, and he told us at "Entertainment Tonight" she was a dear, dear friend and he didn't know what to say about it. He was pulling for her. We have not heard from him yet today.

This is interesting as well, Jake. Back in 2008 she released her book "Wishful Drinking," and she talked a lot about her career and the movie "Star Wars" and talked about George Lucas a lot. The first day on the set came in with that I conic white dress on, George said I don't think you can wear a bra yu7underneath there. She said why? He said, I don't think they wear yu7b8 underwear in space to.


So, she said she actually wish she could have that be in of her obituary, because she thought it was such a funny story. And she thought it was so quirky and so fun, so she wanted that to be part of her obituary, that Princess Leia didn't wear underwear under her dress because there was no underwear in space.

TAPPER: And you just did it part of obituary, Nischelle.

Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, President Barack Obama and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are together at Pearl Harbor today. That will include a tour of the "USS Arizona" Memorial, sacred ground for more than 1000 that were killed when Japan launched its surprise attack in World War II. How far will this historic visit go? The healing of many wounds of 75 years ago that still exist. We'll discuss next. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In just moments, we expect to see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the visitor's center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and later he'll join President Obama at the "USS Arizona" Memorial, which marks the final resting place for more than 900 Marines who were killed during attack 75 years ago, this month.

Here with me is Shihoko Goto, senior associate for Northeast Asia and the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and Sheila Smith, senior fellow fur Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

This is the most public visit to the site of the Pearl Harbor attack by a sitting Japanese prime minister ever. What's the significance of it?

[13:50:21] SHEILA SMITH, SENIOR FELLOW, JAPAN STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It's important this year because it's following on the visit by President Obama to Hiroshima this last spring. I think there was no conditionality attached but it's appropriate for the president and prime minister to acknowledge we've gone from adversaries in a devastating war to deep close allies today.

TAPPER: What do you think about the importance of this?

SHIHOKO GOTO, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, ASIA PROGRAM, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: It brings the relationship to a full circle. For the United States, Pearl Harbor remains the touchstone moment in World War II history. For Japan, it's Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, the two adversaries were able to see eye to eye if not necessarily apologize about those incidents and be prepared to be able to move on and build on a new relationship.

TAPPER: And President Obama visited Hiroshima in August. Let's play a clip of President Obama talking at the site of that memorial.


OBAMA: Since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.


TAPPER: How was that trip received in Japan?

GOTO: Very well. Japanese public opinion received it favorably. And I this I that what the Japanese government is hoping for and certainly Prime Minister Abe is hoping for is a similar kind of response by the American media to his visit to Pearl Harbor today.

TAPPER: And do you think that will happen?

SMITH: I think it will be covered and I think attention will be given as we're given now. I don't think it will have the same depth of meaning it had for the Japanese people who had wished for a long time, I think, the American president would acknowledge what happened at his and Nagasaki. But both the prime minister and president meeting with survivors, survivors of Hiroshima, survivors of Pearl Harbor, so for members of that generation, who are passing from the scene, who fought and experienced the war, it's a very important step.

TAPPER: President Obama and Prime Minister Abe have worked very together. They've had a good working relationship. Prime Minister Abe I believe was the first foreign leader to visit President-elect Trump. But President-elect Trump is a candidate who has talked about the need in his view for Japan to pay for all of the price of U.S. bases in Japan, the possibility of Japan needing to get its own nuclear weapons. How do you see this relationship going forward?

SMITH: I think the president-elect has walked back just a little bit from some of the campaign statement he is made about Japan. He met with Prime Minister Abe. I think President Bush, he felt the alliance was valued but we're moving into an area where the U.S. and Japan will have to work closely together. China is rising. There's ambiguity about what our policy will look like so I expect Mr. Abe want to make sure he and Mr. Trump see eye to eye on how the alliance should be strengthened in the future.

TAPPER: How do you see the relationship moving forward, given the fact that President-elect Trump has given the comments about Japan needing to do more?

GOTO: Two things that have been of concern to the Japanese public during Trump's presidential campaign. One was about the alliance and the strength of U.S./Japan partnership on the military side. The second is economic relations specifically on trades and as we know President-elect Trump has been very anti-trade, anti-TPP, the transpacific trade deal. Japan still hopes the TPP will move forward and the meeting Trump had with Abe, that was one of the issues that was raised. We hope that there will be some kind of breakthrough in trade relations between the two countries to have some kind of trade deal but it -- there is a lot of concern about how these economic relations will move forward.

TAPPER: All right, Shihoko and Sheila, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

21 girls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram finally return home. They were taken from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, more than two years ago. There was a proof of life video relieved at the time. Their captivity started a movement on social media with the hashtag "bring back our girls."

CNN's Isha Sesay was at the reunion in this exclusive report.


[13:54:56] ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After almost two and a half years of Boko Haram captivity, at last it's time to go home. After covered the Chibok girls; abduction from the beginning, I'm going the make the long journey from Abuja to Chibok with them.

(on camera): They're going home.

(How are you feeling? Somebody tell me. What is the feeling in your heart right now? Happy?


SESAY: You're happy?

(voice-over): For all the talk of excitement, some of these girls are also nervous.

(on camera): Don't be nervous. Don't be afraid. OK. You hold your faith. Yeah? You hold on to your faith, OK? OK? The same faith that kept you all those months.

(voice-over): With the girls on the move, there are more smiles as they chat and giggle freely amongst themselves.

Once we land, the girls are welcomed by some of the Chibok community leaders as well as the government of the state.

The road to Chibok, too dangerous to travel after dark, the girls spend the night at a local hotel. Outside, a large security cordon is put in place.

Inside, with their journey delayed, they gather in one room to do what they were unable to do while in Boko Haram captivity.


SESAY: I learned from Rebecca Malan (ph) and Gloria Dama (ph), they were singing local Christian hymns. While in captivity, their Christianity was not tolerated by the terrorists.

(on camera): What have you been doing since you've been back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are grateful. We are grateful for them they have done good for us. And when we are -- we are playing football. We have English class. That we are learning how to speak in English and writing very well.


You guys look so different since I saw you in October. How are you feeling now from that time to now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy. We are feeling beautiful because since we came -- we. SESAY: You can tell me, you can tell me because you are beautiful.

Good morning.

SESAY (voice-over): The next morning, a military convoy escorts the girls to Chibok, a place that holds the promise of long-awaited family reunions and memories of a fateful night.

(on camera): The convoy has stopped in a town about an hour away from Chibok. The movement through these parts, that a well-armed convoy is drawing attention from passersby.

(voice-over): As we entered Chibok town, locals wave excitedly, welcoming their girls home.

The moment of reunion eventually arrives. The room almost vibrating with the sounds of unbridled joy.


SESAY: For some waiting parents, heartbreak. These women have come looking for their daughters, who are still being held by Boko Haram. They thought their children were among the group who were coming home for Christmas.

(voice-over): There has been such an outpouring of grief amid the joy. The piercing screams of mothers realizing they are, indeed, not to be reunited with their daughters on this day, which has turned what should have been an overwhelmingly happy moment into a bittersweet one.

(voice-over): For Rebecca and her father, the nightmare is over and her father is overcome with feelings of gratitude.

Given all they have endured, the mental and physical abuse, the years of painful separation from their loved ones, this reunion here in Chibok moves these fractured families and their community a step closer to wholeness.

Isha Sesay, CNN, Chibok, Nigeria.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Isha Sesay for that report.

That's it for me. I will be back at 4:00 p.m. eastern on "The Lead."

The news continues here on CNN. Thanks for watching.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[13:59:41] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Martin Savidge, in for Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for joining me.

We have breaking news. Acclaimed actress and author, Carrie Fisher, has died. The iconic starlet, who portrayed Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" series, passed away after stuffing a heart attack aboard a Los Angeles-bound flight four days ago. She was 60 years old.

Stephanie Elam takes a look back at her life.


CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS & AUTHOR: I should have expected to find you holding Veda's (ph) leash.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carrie Fisher won the hearts of generations as Princess Leia, in arguably the most beloved movie franchise ever, "Star Wars."