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John Kerry to Outline Mideast Peace Plan; Trump Weighs in on Israel, Obama; Trump Lashes Out at Obama Again on Twitter; Remembering Carrie Fisher; Netanyahu Thanks Trump For Support. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired December 28, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:01] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Elise, everybody here -- right, John Kerry leaves office in three weeks. Will this speech have any lasting effect beyond January 20th?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Victor, I don't think Secretary Kerry expects that his words will resonate right now, but after working on this issue for the last four years, and you remember Secretary Kerry led that year-long effort to try and get a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, he wants to lay out his vision, I think what the U.S. had put on the table and how they see this issue being resolved.
Obviously the secretary and President Obama are leaving office without having concluded a deal. The Trump administration will be coming in and will want to take a look at it themselves, but Secretary Kerry is going to outline what he thinks a deal could look like because he hopes at some point that the parties will want to get back to the table and try and negotiate a deal, because that's really the only way the conflict will be resolved.
And you know that this deal is very probably similar to what previous presidents have tried to get the parties to agree to in previous administrations. You remember the Clinton parameters, you remember President Bush had this Annapolis process. And so I think the contours of what a deal could look like are generally known.
I think what you will hear from Secretary Kerry today is a call for the parties to think about whether they are ready to make the painful compromises and difficult choices that are needed for peace -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Elise Labott for us there at the State Department. Elise, thank you so much.
And be sure to head to CNN.com, check out Elise's new piece, "John Kerry's Mission to Save Diplomacy." It's there in the politics section. Again at CNN.com.
Now this morning the president-elect is weighing in on U.S. relations with Israel while also taking aim at the man he will soon succeed.
Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Florida, and Jeff, good morning to you. Donald Trump is, as he has in the last several weeks, gone straight to Twitter to speak about the big issues, 140 characters at a time. What is he saying? JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning,
Victor. He is indeed. Within the last several minutes, he is giving his opinion, a prebuttal, if you will, to the secretary of State's speech that is coming up in the next hour. And of course, he has been a very -- he's been talking about how the Obama administration simply is not a friend of Israel.
Let's take a look at these tweets he sent this morning, Victor. The first was, "We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S. but," he continues, "not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal and now this U.N. Stay strong, Israel. January 20th is fast approaching."
So Donald Trump clearly going after the U.N. decision last week and again, the Obama administration's policy generally toward Israel but not much room for specifics or explanation there as he's giving these messages in 140 characters at a time.
Victor, also going after President Obama, continuing his taking aim at him for a comment that the president made a couple of days ago, saying he would have won the election and it also appears to be responding to a comment that the president made yesterday in Hawaii when he talked about the vitriol in our politics.
Donald Trump was tweeting this. He said, "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. I thought it was going to be a smooth transition. Not."
So clearly, Victor, 23 days before Donald Trump takes office from President Obama, clearly things not as smooth as they once seemed after the election when they met side by side in the Oval Office. Unclear if this is just on the surface or if there are real tensions beneath. I'm told the two have not talked for more than a week, Victor. Unclear if they will in the 23 days to come -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Jeff Zeleny for us there in Palm Beach. Jeff, thanks so much.
And we will certainly bring you Secretary Kerry's speech live when it happens at the top of the hour. Right now, let's talk about what this means going forward. I'm joined now by David Andelman, editor emeritus at the World Policy Journal, and Daniel Kurtzer, former ambassador to Israel and Egypt who just returned from Jerusalem yesterday.
Gentlemen, good morning to both of you.
Mr. Ambassador, I want to start with you and your sense of if this outrage that we are seeing and hearing from the prime minister -- how widespread is that?
DANIEL KURTZER, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL AND EGYPT: Well, there's a mixed view in Israel. I think there's a certain amount of confusion as to why the United States abstained on this resolution. On the other hand, the Israeli population is of a mixed mind on the issue of settlements which is the underlying problem that caused this resolution to be passed.
There's also a tremendous amount of pushback in the Israeli media against the rather inflammatory rhetoric being used by the prime minister against the president and the United States.
[10:05:04] Nobody can understand what has driven Mr. Netanyahu to use such language at this time.
BLACKWELL: David, are you expecting anything new from the secretary today?
DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR EMERITUS, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL: I think it will be a compilation of a whole lot of things that have been said up until now. I think what is particularly interesting is the fact that it does kind of bookend with President Obama's start in the Middle East.
Remember, in June of 2009 he went to Cairo and he gave an enormously well-received speech throughout the Middle East, except perhaps in Israel, and then he kind of left it all to the Arab spring which didn't work out so well.
I think what Kerry is likely to do now is to try to set up his heritage, his inheritance, his going forward, his legacy for the future, and that of Obama as well. And I think that's what he's really hoping to see.
What he's also hoping to see is to set out parameters that all of the rest of the Security Council and the rest of the world can embrace that may perhaps force the Israelis to take some kind of an action that they may have been reluctant to take without that kind of a setup.
BLACKWELL: Mr. Ambassador, to you, one man's policy vision which we're hearing from the secretary today can be another man's lecture. How is this likely to be received there by Benjamin Netanyahu and what does he have to do to potentially, as he has many goals and many things that have to be accomplished in this speech, to quell some of the concerns that you just talked about?
KURTZER: Well, even without the dispute over the settlements resolution, Netanyahu would not be in a good mood to hear what the secretary has to say, because U.S. policy and U.S. views on the core issues -- territory, borders, security, refugees and so forth -- are not congruent exactly with those of Israel. At the same time, the Palestinians are not going to be entirely happy with what the secretary has to say because he's looking for some ground that might be bridgeable in a negotiation so you now have a backdrop of a dispute over a settlements resolution in which the secretary of State is going to outline a vision for the future and I think you're going to get a very, very strong reaction out of Israel, somewhat milder reaction out of the Palestinians, but they are also not going to be entirely happy with what the secretary has to say.
BLACKWELL: Ambassador, let me stay with you and this canceled vote overnight from the Jerusalem city council to discuss construction on almost 500 additional units there in east Jerusalem that. That was canceled reportedly at the request of the prime minister. Is that a gesture of good faith? How should the U.S. read that?
KURTZER: Well, I think it is a move by the prime minister to not further inflame the situation, but I would expect that the shoe will drop relatively soon. Israel -- this government in Israel traditionally has a way of responding to attacks on its settlements policy by building more settlements. I think the prime minister understands that at this moment it would not be tactically wise to do so. I would not be surprised after the secretary of State's speech if we see a revival of some of these ideas.
BLACKWELL: David, to you. We were talking during the break that this is not unprecedented to have a statement specifically on Middle East peace on the way out the door from an administration.
ANDELMAN: Right. That's exactly what Bill Clinton did in -- actually 12 days before he left office in 2000 -- in January 2000. He came up with his Clinton principles, if you will, and they were kind of a road map going forward for President Bush, which was very good because they both believed in a two-state solution, unlike the current administration which seems to believe only in a one-state solution and has indeed named an ambassador who is virulently in favor of a one- state solution.
BLACKWELL: You mean the Trump administration.
ANDELMAN: Yes. I'm sorry. The Trump administration.
BLACKWELL: OK. Yes.
ANDELMAN: And going forward, this is very -- this is very difficult. It places the United States in a very difficult position because really we are embracing a policy that is embraced only by one other country in the world, and that is the state of Israel.
BLACKWELL: David, finally to you, this question of the evidence that Israel says it has, this iron-clad information, as the prime minister called it, that the U.S. pushed, orchestrated this resolution. There was a State Department official who said that the secretary will touch on that. He has to do more than touch on it, doesn't he?
ANDELMAN: Well, he does, to a degree. Look, this was a resolution that was embraced by 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council, all four permanent members, except the United States which simply abstained, and the 10 regular members.
The entire world is really kind of effectively embraced the concept behind this proposal. So really it's going to be very hard for much of the world to embrace any kind of a suggestion by Netanyahu or for that matter by the Trump administration going forward that this was orchestrated and was part of a plot, if you will.
[10:10:05] BLACKWELL: All right. David Andelman, former Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, thank you both. All right. Coming up, so much for rubbing elbows with President
Obama. Now Donald Trump is lobbing Twitter insults at him. In just the last few means what this means for the transition potentially, that's next.
BLACKWELL: A very good man who Donald Trump looked forward to working with in the future. That's how the president-elect described President Obama when the two rivals met shortly after the election. But now -- now there's a bit of a change in tone for Donald Trump. He's taking aim at the president on Twitter for the second time in less than 24 hours. Now saying the idea of a so-called smooth transition of power may now be a thing of the past.
Let's talk about this among other topics. Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times" joining us and Paul Singer, Washington correspondent for "USA Today."
Good morning to both of you.
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Good morning.
PAUL SINGER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Good morning.
BLACKWELL: And so, Lynn, I want to start with you. Is this idea of a smooth transition now out the door?
SWEET: Well, things can change. I take President-elect Trump's Twitter at its face value. He doesn't think it's going well. Maybe tomorrow will bring a new day and he'll change his mind. The -- you know, what is different here and unprecedented, to use the name of a CNN book, is that --
BLACKWELL: Thank you.
[10:15:02] SWEET: There is an unusual amount of reaction from President-elect Trump to the last weeks of the Obama administration. That's unusual, but what hasn't been unusual in this whole election cycle? So today, President-elect Trump says things are not going well. Maybe some things will happen in the next few days where he will judge the -- you know, judge what's going on in a different light.
The other thing is I believe he's commenting at the very most public parts of the transition. There are still landing teams that his team has at the different Obama agencies. So there's a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that is still going on in a very business-like transfer of government way.
BLACKWELL: Yes. The transfer is multi-faceted from the transition, I should say.
Paul, let me come to you. I went back and tried to find out if this is indeed unprecedented, what the president said during his interview with David Axelrod on that "Axe Files" podcast, saying that he would have won against Donald Trump and it isn't. Bill Clinton said the same thing about George W. Bush. But we are seeing what seems to be this personal sensitivity from Donald Trump, the idea that the president would say this about potentially winning against him in a general election.
SINGER: And this will be interesting to watch when Donald Trump becomes the president of the United States. Will he still respond in such a sort of personal and public way to every slight that he sees on Twitter or on cable news? And I think what we've seen so far during this period is that the fact of the matter is things Donald Trump said about people on Twitter six months ago or even three weeks ago no longer really matter when he sits down and talks to them face to face. They have very nice relationships.
In fact, he had said very hostile things about Barack Obama shortly before the election and then they sat down in the White House a couple of weeks later and got along famously. So I'm not sure how much we should read into his Twitter account. The question is going to become when he's president of the United States, does he sort of step back and say, I don't need to comment on everything that's going on in front of us?
BLACKWELL: Yes, let's step away from the tweets for a moment and talk about some choices that are being made for the Trump administration, the selection of Tom Bossert to be his homeland security adviser, who was picked from the Bush administration, who was a top aide to then President George W. Bush.
Let's revisit what Donald Trump said during the campaign about the Bush administration, their execution of the war in Iraq and their handling of national security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: The war in Iraq was a big fat mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. I think the Bushes are fine but he can't lie about his brother's record.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: He's had the gall to go after --
TRUMP: World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign. Remember that. That's not keeping us safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: So, Lynn, with that as context, what's the strategy here from the Trump perspective of choosing Tom Bossert to be on his national security team?
SWEET: Well, I don't think that it appears that Trump has criticism of the presidency of George W. Bush but not necessarily of everyone who served in the administration. As was just mentioned in the graphic he has a cybersecurity expertise and that's very important to U.S. security in the coming years. That might have been an appeal.
It is very traditional for the people who have served in prior administrations to get hired when there's a new one, meaning President Obama ran against Hillary Clinton but many people who served in 2008, many people who served in the Bill Clinton White House ended up in the Obama White House. There's only so many people that really have expertise in running some of these government agencies and you certainly will have many new people with different perspectives and experience.
But I see no bigger story to read into this one than they're looking for somebody here who has some subject matter expertise, notwithstanding the criticisms that Trump heaped on former President Bush.
BLACKWELL: Which made the challenge -- made the promise of draining the swamp a challenge from the beginning because you have such a small pool to pull from.
SWEET: Though I don't know if they meant, if Trump meant, maybe I'm reading between the lines here, I don't know if he meant necessarily subject matter experts as opposed to big money people, Wall Street people, Goldman Sachs.
BLACKWELL: All right.
SWEET: That might be more the reference.
BLACKWELL: Let me come to you. Does this tell us about how the Trump administration will be run? You have now this voice that many on Capitol Hill, Republicans, find reassuring with Tom Bossert over their concerns of General Flynn, the national security adviser.
[10:20:09] Just like you have on one side, you have potentially Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon on the other with chief adviser -- political adviser and chief of staff. What does this tell us about how he will run his White House?
SINGER: Well, you should make note of the fact as well that Trump promoted this Bossert position before he named Bossert to it. That is to say, Bossert's position previously, this homeland security adviser, was a deputy to the National Security adviser. That's not going to be true in the Trump administration. This position has been promoted and is now an equivalent position to National Security adviser.
What that suggests is that they are taking very seriously his subject matter expertise and perhaps in fact they are trying to assuage some of the concerns of people who are concerned that Mr. Flynn was a little too unsteady.
This appears to be a professional with a lot of subject matter experience who will now have significant independent authority independent of Michael Flynn.
BLACKWELL: All right. Paul Singer, Lynn Sweet, thank you both.
SWEET: Thank you.
SINGER: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up, may the force be with you. Carrie Fisher. Her fans are mourning the loss of the iconic actress, author and advocate.
BLACKWELL: Reaction is pouring in after actress Carrie Fisher's death and while she's best known for that iconic role in "Star Wars" her role as author and advocate had a major impact on many others.
[10:25:07] CNN's Paul Vercammen is live in Los Angeles with more on her life and legacy and we are learning a lot about how important her work was to so many people -- Paul.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure was, Victor. And yesterday for a moment there on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one aspiring actress telling me that Carrie Fisher was just an inspiration to her, not only because what she was doing on screen but because she was so open off screen and that also made her much admired by her "Star Wars" family and we are starting to hear from them early on. It seemed some of them were so overwhelmed they did not take to social media.
But let's start with George Lucas who explained that she was an extremely smart and talented actress, writer and comedian with a very colorful personality that everyone loved. In "Star Wars" she was our great and powerful princess, feisty and wise.
And now let's also hear from Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker, who basically was attached to Carrie Fisher growing up. Mark Hamill was devastated early and put #devastated on the Internet early in the day. Finally he said she played such a crucial role in my professional and personal life and I would have been -- he was so overcome, he talked about her being bratty and self-indulgent and called her my beloved space twin.
And then finally, the man who played Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, and he said there are no words for this loss. Carrie was the brightest light in every room she entered. I will miss her dearly.
And perhaps best would be Carrie Fisher encapsulating herself and her career. Let's give a listen to -- her from one of her last we'll call it lines onscreen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS: Ray, may the force be with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: Carrie Fisher being fondly remembered in and around Hollywood and again, so many people, Victor, praising her for her honesty and her courage and talking openly about her being bipolar and her addiction issues.
BLACKWELL: All right. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much.
Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell in for Carol Costello. Thank you for being with me.
We are now just minutes away from a major speech from Secretary of State John Kerry. He's expected to lay out a road map for peace in the Middle East. Now the speech comes as you know after days of accusations -- of collusion and backroom dealings following that U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Well, that resolution infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has curbed diplomatic ties with several nations following the vote.
For more, we are joined now by CNN's Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem.
Oren, good morning to you.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a bit quieter today. None of the accusations we have seen that the U.S. was colluding and working behind Israel's back with the Palestinians and with other countries at the U.N. to get this resolution passed, perhaps because now he's waiting to see what Secretary of State John Kerry has to say. What is his vision for peace, what will he lay out, and what will it entail.
This is -- we are expecting, rather I should say, that he'll lay out his parameters, what he sees as the conditions needed to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the table, to get them talking, how he sees the resolution of some of those complex issues here, the status of Jerusalem, borders and refugees, and yet it seems especially with this war of words we've been seeing between Netanyahu and the Obama administration, that pretty much whatever Kerry says it's not going to be taken well here -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: And we just received this, so just picked this up on Twitter from the prime minister there in Israel. "President-elect Trump," let's put it on the screen, "Thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel." A strong departure from what you were just describing there, communications between Netanyahu and President Obama and Secretary Kerry.
LIEBERMANN: Well, there's no doubt that Netanyahu is done working with Obama, he's looking forward to working with President Trump. It's now just getting through the last three weeks, perhaps just being a bit quieter now at least today just to see what Secretary of State Kerry has, but Netanyahu has made it clear he's looking forward to working with the Trump administration, as has many of the ministers and, although Netanyahu has been quiet before today's speech, some of his ministers and some of the others in Israeli politics have not. They have taken almost a preemptive strike against whatever it is that Kerry will lay out saying -- accusing Kerry, I should say, of not being a true friend of Israel. And again that's why I say that no matter what Kerry puts forward,
it's unlikely to be accepted very much by the Israelis. The question is how much will it be accepted by the international community and here I'll add a bit of context.
It was Bill Clinton who -- in 2000 at the end of his time in office essentially did this same thing, he put forward his own parameters for peace. Today, they are commonly known as the Clinton parameters. Neither the Israelis nor Palestinians signed on the deal.