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Latest on Ft. Lauderdale Shooting Investigation; Intel Report on Russian Hacking Released; Secret Service Director Sets Record Straight on Trump Protection; Relatives: Santiago Suffered from PTSD; Anti-Inauguration Day Tips; Some Trump Cabinet Picks Not Properly Vetted Before Hearings; 50 Million on East Coast Facing Winter Weather Advisory or Warning. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired January 7, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:09] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Pamela Brown, in Washington, in for Poppy Harlow. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.
We begin with the desperate search following the mass shooting at the Florida airport. Investigators try to figure out why did a 26-year- old former National Guardsman pack a single handgun, fly across the country to Fort Lauderdale, and allegedly open fire in an airport terminal, sending hundreds of people running for their lives? Five people are dead, six are wounded. At least two of those injured, reportedly shot in the head. We'll have more on the victims in a moment.
But first, the latest on the investigation. Police tell us they're chasing every possible lead and exploring all motives and, so far, haven't ruled out terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE PIRO, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We've conducted roughly 175 witness interviews, recovered video, physical evidence. And we continue to pursue every investigative lead. We have not ruled out anything. We continue to look at all avenues and all motives for this horrific attack. And at this point, we continue to look at the terrorism angle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: CNN's Boris Sanchez at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
I understand you have new information about a visit the suspect made to the FBI before the shooting, is that right?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORERSPONDENT: That's right, Pam. We learned they made contact in Anchorage, back in November. And we learned in the past few hours, sources telling CNN apparently visited the office with a weapon. Apparently, the same weapon that he used in yesterday's attack here at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. I asked the spokesperson of the FBI yesterday if there was any attempt made to perhaps confiscate that weapon. After all, when he approached the office of the FBI, he told agents he was hearing voices and that those voices were telling him to watch ISIS videos. He told me that he couldn't answer the question at that point.
We're also learning more about the shooter's personal life. In an altercation he apparently had with his girlfriend back in January of 2016, she alleges that he strangled her and smacked her on the side of the head. He pled not guilty to charges of assault and criminal mischief, or rather pled no contest to those charges. We believe eventually went through a program. He was due in court in March, likely to have those charges dismissed.
Aside from all of that, Pam, we are hearing from family members of the gunman of Santiago. His aunt actually speaking to CNN and telling us that after he served in Iraq for about 10 months, when he came back, he wasn't the same. She also said he, quote, "had visions all the time." Avery interesting picture of the shooter.
On top of that, as you mentioned, Pam, the FBI is still investigating this as a potential terror attack so still a lot of questions to be answered.
BROWN: Not ruling anything out at this early stage in the investigation.
Has the airport completely reopened?
SANCHEZ: They're still working on that right now. Terminal 2, to the right of me, where the attack took place in the first level of terminal 2, is still shut down from what I understand, but the upper level, the departures level, people are being allowed now through security. So, it's only a matter of time before flights are let out of terminal 2 where they hadn't been earlier. And finally, the full airport can be up and running again -- Pam?
BROWN: Boris Sanchez, thank you so much. We'll check back with you soon.
We have been able to confirm the names of two people shot and killed yesterday in the baggage claim earlier of the Fort Lauderdale airport. One of them, a grandmother from Georgia. Olga Wolzery (ph) was with her husband about to go on a cruise. Another name confirmed, Terry Andreas (ph), from Virginia Beach, Virginia. He and his wife were on vacation celebrating his birthday. Just a couple of people moving on with their lives and then this happened. Three other people were killed. Six wounded before that gunman stopped shooting.
CNN's Ryan Young is at a hospital in Broward County, Florida.
Ryan, can you tell us how serious is the condition of those wounded?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do know three remain in critical condition. This is the level-one trauma center. They got a heads-up from the airport that some victims will be transported. Six in total transported here in critical condition. And three upgraded so far. That's all they're sharing about those conditions. The governor, who was here about an hour and a half ago, told us that
one of the victims he talked to said they were shot a few times but they still felt like they could keep running. So, he felt like that person's spirits were pretty high. But the governor told them they believe one of the patients here would be released this afternoon. That's all the details he was willing to give. But for the hospital CEO, he believes the people did a great job in terms of helping the patients who were in need.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:05:10] MARK SPRADA, CEO, BROWARD HEALTH MEDICAL CENTER: We do have six shooting victims. They range in terms of their prognosis but they're being supported by loved ones and the staff members. And everyone who came through our doors with their life today and we're making sure they enjoy the gift of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Pamela, you've covered cases like this one before. And I had a chance to talk to the CEO. They prepare for this all the time, those mass casualty situations, so when something like this happens at the airport or somewhere else, they know how many patients are coming and a team on standby to deal with this. The doctors and nurses, the heroes in this, we ready when they arrived. And as those ambulances all pulled up one another after, they were able to get each patient, critical care, especially when dealing with gunshot wounds. And a lot of those staff members off today. We reached out to try to talk to them.
But right now, their critical need was to make sure those people who were shot and had those gunshot wounds were able to progress.
When you hear about a young man who was shot several times, able to talk to the governor today, you know they're getting excellent care.
BROWN: Absolutely right. And far too often, that practice that they prepare for, these worst-case scenarios, become reality.
Ryan Young, thank you for that.
Next hour, the FBI's Anchorage field office is holding a press conference. We expect to hear more about the visit the alleged shooter made back in November.
And with me to talk about this, Tom Fuentes, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, and former assistant director of the FBI; as well as Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and Department of Homeland Security advisor.
So, Tom, we've learned that back in November, the alleged gunman went to the FBI field office and said there were voices told him to watch ISIS videos. Was this a missed opportunity in your view?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, Pamela, it wasn't, because it's not the FBI's job to normally deal with mentally disturbed individuals. Once they determine that they don't think the person is actually radicalized or about to commit a felony on the spot, but just having mental problems, they make a reference or turn over to the local police. And the police deal with this almost on a daily basis. They know which medical facility they can transport the person to, to try to have a mental evaluation. They know how to handle a situation like this. So, standard procedure is, once the FBI determines it's not a terrorist act in progress, they're going to turn this over to the local police.
BROWN: How does the FBI determine that? I imagine it's not always clear cut, initially. When you're dealing with someone who comes in to say they're hearing voices and appears to have mental health issues and talked about is. How does this FBI determine, OK, we don't need to worry about this person, this is just mental health?
FUENTES: First of all, they deal with this surprisingly large number of times so they have a pretty good indication of someone even remotely serious but they look into it and look at this person's social media and background and maybe interview family members and at a point where they're learning that he's had a consistent history of mental illness problems since getting out of the military, I think at that point, they have a pretty good indication that they're dealing with somebody that needs to be treated for that mental problem and therefore, call the police and have that individual into a facility by the police.
BROWN: Which is exactly what happened in this case.
And, Juliette, it appears the FBI handled the visit appropriately in that view. So, the gun, as we know, was packed according to TSA guidelines. Is there anything that could have been done differently, should have been done differently to prevent this?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There's a couple of things that come to mind but, of course, the investigation is ongoing. So what we think we know today may end up not being true. But at least if there is a strong suspicion by the FBI that he was on the plane with the intention of doing the harm upon arrival, it would be very difficult to stop something, someone as determined as that. Now, there if there was some sort of fight or something that raised his temperature and got him to sort of explode, then maybe there are ways we could think about how are people trying to deescalate problems in airports, things like that.
The other question is the military. We're so focused on the FBI, and that's important to see what they knew and what they might have been able to do, but there's a long military record. And at least a lot of people -- it's not easy to get kicked out of the National Guard. And there's a lot of people in the military who may have known something about his mental health and what they did to help him, given the systemic mental health issues occurring, unfortunately, with some of our veterans.
[15:10:05] BROWN: As we know, his family has come out and said after he's spent time in Iraq, he did exhibit mental health issues, post- traumatic stress but didn't get the help he needed. And what strikes me, Tom, is this is someone who proactively went to the FBI, he was taken to this hospital and voluntarily signed up for a mental health evaluation. But yet, he was still able to get his gun back, board this plane, and launch this shooting once he arrived in Florida. Should that mental health evaluation or any of these red flags have prevented him from continuing to own a gun, Tom?
FUENTES: It takes more than a red flag to deny someone of their constitutional right to own a weapon. He has to be judged mentally ill by a competent authority and/or convicted of a felony. And if that's not the case, as happened in this case, apparently, when he checks himself back out of the hospital and he's not been judged as mentally ill, the police have no choice but to return his property to him, which happens to be a firearm. And in this case, we just have so many mentally ill individuals at large in our society and, unfortunately, many of them have access to firearms.
BROWN: The system is clearly broken.
Juliette, when you look, you take a step back and look at airport attacks in Istanbul, Brussels, and now Florida, are airports easy targets? What can be done to make them safer? And so many go to fly. I've been there. What can be done to make them safer?
KAYYEM: Security planning. Really do think of layered security. You cannot think that any one thing. Gosh, if we only put that stuff in in we would be perfectly safe. So, we really think about open targets and airports also have hard aspects to them, of course. Think about layering on security and things that can be done. But the basic part of that is also response communication and protecting the public. And I do think that one of the lessons learned will be how much was communicated to people during the crisis, how quick was the response. Those are the kinds of things we can do to also protect people. But people shouldn't think that, oh, if we only did this, right, at an airport, then everything would be fine. Airports are too dynamic. I remind people, every day, close to a million people domestically getting on and off of airports every single day in the United States. Those numbers are so overwhelming. And unless you're willing to bring down the system, which we don't want to do because we're a vibrant country, we are going to have a level of vulnerability.
BROWN: And like you say, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution here.
Juliette Kayyem and Tom Fuentes, thank you for coming on and sharing your perspective. We do appreciate it.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
FUENTES: Thank you.
BROWN: Ahead this hour, election influence, our other top story. U.S. intelligence releasing classified information about how Russia's President Putin influenced the election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. What's in the report, what the president-elect is saying about it. Plus, the anti-inauguration. That's what CNN political commentator,
Charles Blow, is preparing for. How Trump supporters are reacting to his so-called tips for Inauguration Day.
And later, a monster storm. 50 million people along the east coast under a winter weather advisory or warning. We'll tell you where the storm is headed and where it's expected to be the worst.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.
15:15:57] BROWN: The U.S. intel community going public with the first declassified report on Russia's interference on the U.S. election, concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin directly ordered a, quote, "influence campaign" aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump win the White House.
President-elect Trump is downplaying the effort and totally defended his long-held belief that closer ties with Russia would be beneficial. He tweeted today, "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only, quote, 'stupid people or fools' would think that this is bad. We have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am president, Russia will respect us far more than they do now. And both countries will perhaps work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the world."
All right. Let's bring in Ryan Nobles.
Did he explain more, Ryan, why it would be good to have a better relationship with Russia, what did he say?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting because the president-elect himself did meet with the various heads of these intelligence agencies on Friday where he got a briefing of his own. And after that briefing, he did put out a statement where he did concede that Russia may have been involved in some attempt to interfere in the United States election.
But since he put out that statement, he's been seriously downplaying Russia's involvement. In fact, he's gone so far as to say the blame should be laid on Democratic opponents. Trump tweeting this about his Democratic opponent and what he's describing as a vulnerable network saying that "gross intelligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place and the Republican National Committee had strong defense."
And Trump emphasizing the aspects of the report that specifically reveal that this alleged Russian hack had no impact on the outcome of the election and they never gained access to voting machines themselves.
But the president-elect's statements, Pam, stand in direct contrast to some of his most prominent Republican friends, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who believes that the House and the Senate need to take a closer look at this Russian involvement and push back that the Russians did, in fact, attempt to get involved in this United States election.
BROWN: When you look at the report, Ryan, it makes clear that the Russians were successful in hacking into some Republican entity systems but didn't disclose the information. It was not successful against the RNC, apparently. How is the Clinton camp responding to all of this?
NOBLES: Not a surprise at all, Pam, that they are criticizing the president-elect in the way he's handling this situation. Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, tweeting this not too long ago, "What is stopping the president-elect from accepting the intel community's findings? Until he accepts them, he's effectively siding with Putin over the United States."
And Mook isn't alone in this comment. The former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also releasing a statement along those lines.
Pam, this could be a hot topic this week on Capitol Hill because we're going to start to see some of these confirmation hearings for Trump's important members of his cabinet, including his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO. He has close relations with Russia and Vladimir Putin. You can expect tough questions on those topics later this week.
[15:50:25] BROWN: We'll watch all of that next week very closely.
Ryan Nobles, thank you very much for that.
NOBLES: Thank you.
BROWN: And next on this Saturday, a national security expert who says the intel report makes clear Russia is playing, quote, "a dangerous game," and he's worried that our next president is failing to take this seriously enough.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BROWN: President-elect Donald Trump says no evidence in the newly declassified U.S. intel report shows that Russia's meddling affected the U.S. election's outcome. The report does conclude Russia's President Putin directly ordered the interference. But Trump is powering ahead with plans to improve U.S. relations with Russia when he takes over the White House 13 days from now.
Let's talk it over with CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier, a senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast,"
Kim, thank you for coming on.
You tweeted, "Oh, I'd hope, Mr. President-elect, you'd realize Russia is playing a dangerous game and are biding their time to respond. Guess you didn't see it that way." Explain what you mean by Russia playing a dangerous game and what kind
of a response you'd like to see from Trump.
[15:25:12] DOZIER: I'm reflecting what I've heard from intelligence professionals, both current and former national security policy makers, who worry that Trump is focusing on the fact that no matter what Russia did, it helped him, it didn't hurt him. He's ignoring the evidence they presented him behind closed doors that shows this maligned campaign. The concern is, you take this down the road when Russia starts doing something that is in Russia's interest, not in Trump's interest -- it always behaves in its own interest like any country does -- that the president-elect, then commander-in-chief, won't believe his intelligence community when they lay it out for him. Consider what he saw behind closed doors. We're all looking at the unclassified report. It included transcripts of phone calls, e-mails of Russian officials and shows the intelligence community's belief they wanted to throw this election, and it didn't seem to faze him.
BROWN: And according to this declassified report, Russia not only hacked the Democratic National Committee but Republican affiliated groups but only released info on Democrats, not the Republican side. So, could this mean that Russia could have leverage they're saving this perhaps?
DOZIER: That has been muttered darkly by some of the Trump campaign trackers. I haven't seen proof of that. You could say perhaps that Trump is playing by Moscow rules in that he has a larger game plan. He's hiring many people for his cabinet who have been anti-Russia in the past, who have even been banned from Russia, such as former Senator Dan Coats, who is nominated to be his director of National Intelligence. So, these people have Moscow's number. So, the hope is that maybe he's being publicly towards Moscow while quietly biding his time until he's president, and then going to have both a carrot-and- stick approach to Moscow. At this point, insufficient information to know.
BROWN: He tweeted today that it's a good thing to have a good relationship with Russia, that perhaps the two countries could work together and solve some of the world's most pressing problems. Does he have a point here?
DOZIER: You know, previous White Houses have tried to warm the relationship with Russia to accomplish things just like that. And remember that Moscow and the current White House worked to remove the majority of the weapons of mass destruction from the Syrian regime and it was only possible because Russia convinced its client state and Bashar al Assad to give up the weapons. You could argue the Syrian civil war would be worse right now if those kinds of weapons were still available to his regime. So, can the two nations work together for good? In the past, absolutely, it's been possible. But we'll have to see how Trump handles or makes deals with Putin in the years to come.
BROWN: Kim Dozier, thank you very much.
Questions have been raised about the costs of securing the president- elect with his lavish properties, including in New York City. This week, I sat down with the current U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy for an exclusive interview, his first since Trump was elected, and I asked to set the record straight on reports that others have taken on the role of protecting the incoming president. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: There have been reports out there basically saying that Donald Trump kept his private security even after he was elected. Is that true?
JOSEPH CLANCY, DIRECTOR, SECRET SERVICE: First of all, let me just say that the Secret Service has the sole responsibility of protecting the president, vice president, first family, et cetera. Under U.S. Code 18:30.56, we have the authority and mandate, and only the Secret Service has the authority to protect these individuals. And we only work with law enforcement partners. This group you're referring to, they're not in any of our meetings or advanced meetings or not armed. They're more of a staff function than a security function. So, we don't interact with them.
[15:30:00] BROWN: If there was a threat to the president-elect, they wouldn't interfere?
CLANCY: That's correct. We have our own plan for protecting the president-elect and there's no interaction at all there.
BROWN: There's no concern there might be friction or might be --
CLANCY: No, no friction at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And I also asked him about Keith Stiller, who was considered Trump's bodyguard before, and now he will have a prominent role in the Oval Office, but Clancy tells me he will be acting more of a liaison than having any role in protecting the president. if there was a threat, they wouldn't interfere.
In the meantime, on this Saturday, relatives of the alleged gunman in Fort Lauderdale say the warning signs were there, and he snapped as a result of post-traumatic stress order. We'll discuss that possibility with a psychologist who was worked with military veterans, up next,
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BROWN: Just in to CNN, the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport is beginning to fully reopen with flights now departing from terminal 2 where the deadly shooting took place yesterday, the first time since Friday's rampage, and the baggage claim area is still closed.
Five people were killed and six wounded in the shooting allegedly by one man, Esteban Santiago. CNN has since talked to his brother, who said Santiago had mental problems, which he links to his brother's combat deployment to Iraq.
For more, I want to talk to Terry Lyalls, a psychologist and stress coach.
Terry, thank you for coming on.
You have said before that people who experience traumatic stress can, in your words, "snap." Would it surprise you that this violence is linked to this man's military experience?
TERRY LYALLS, PSCYHOLOGIST & STRESS COACH: No, not necessarily. Thank you for having me on. I live in Fort Lauderdale, actually minutes away from the airport. I was in some of the melee yesterday. It's tragic when this happens. Our thoughts and prayers out to the families.
But I hate to say, it's not uncommon that stuff like this happens because of the trauma. It's dependent how the trauma was released in the mind and the body. And I think, from the military standpoint, we work on how to better debrief individuals that go in and out of combat. I work with a group called Connected Warriors, and that's what exactly what we do with the biotelemetry (ph) services, trying to understand how does this cycle work of debriefing individuals so that we can mitigate this situation from happening in the future?
[13:35:15] BROWN: And it struck me, Terry, that the suspect proactively went to the FBI this past November saying he was hearing voices and that voices were telling him to join ISIS. He then voluntarily underwent a psych evaluation less than 72 hours, but then released, got his gun back. In your view, how did the system fail?
LYALLS: Well, you know, the system is constantly changing, and it's going to continue to change because of the world that we live in, obviously. Our world has changed over the last several years. And I think when something is flagged in the mental health world, there needs to be separate steps taken to guard against this, especially if it's a military person that we know has a track record. Obviously, he was seeking help. He was released, it seems, early. And we've seen this kind of thing happen before. And I think it just shows you that our system has gaps in it or blind spots that we really need to take a look at. It's not the weapon's fault, necessarily. This person is trained in weaponry. But the usage and the mindset after trauma and unprocessed trauma can lead the all kinds of situations, unfortunately, like we saw yesterday.
BROWN: And we know that investigators have been interviewing him since the shooting rampage. What will they do to determine whether he is, indeed, suffering from PTSD and how might that factor in to all of this?
LYALLS: I think there's going to be a continuation of debriefing now especially. We saw this with Beau Bergdahl and others that I've talked to repeatedly on CNN. And we don't know until we get more of the information but obviously, there's more attention to it around him because of what's happening. The sad part is that that needs to be going on before this happens. Before TSA was formulated and homeland security before 9/11, which I worked at -- our system continues to change and augment, which is a good thing and just shows you we're not there yet. We have to keep working at the problem, be diligent and still make our system better, but not just blame the system but work to repair it from the V.A. the DOD and our local services system.
BROWN: Far too often, Terry, we have these conversations after the fact and talk about the solutions that should go into place.
Terry Lyalls, thank you very much.
LYALLS: You're welcome.
BROWN: For Donald Trump and his supporters, Inauguration Day will be a moment of celebration, for his opponents, a moment of anguish. Also, an opportunity to protest his positions, on everything from immigration to health care. We'll look at the clash that's fewer than two weeks away.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:41:29] BROWN: OK. We are just 13 days from Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. While inauguration plans are in high gear, for those who did not vote for Trump, the ceremony may have a different feel.
Let's talk it over with Charles Blow, "New York Times" opinion columnist; and Jeffrey Lord, former Reagan White House political director and Trump supporter.
Great to have you both on.
BROWN: And I have a feeling this could be a fiery segment, so we'll have to see what happens.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Never, Charles and I, never.
BROWN: Particularly when talking about Charles' recent column called "The Anti-Inauguration."
And this column, Charles, directed to Trump's opponents, and here's what you say, "The point is not necessarily to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power but to deprive it of oxygen and eyeballs, to plant a flag of resistance firmly at the opening gate. This, doesn't mean that people won't attend or watch, they will, but every station that carries it, as many will, should tell the impact of your absence.
Share your anti-Inauguration Day recommendation for Trump opponents. CHARLES BLOW, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I believe that
citizenship is an act, that you have to be actively engaged in your democracy for it to survive. And if the presidency or the candidacy and soon to be presidency of Donald Trump has threatened things that are important to you, principles that you hold dear, then it is really incumbent upon you to do something to support those causes and those principles and to send a signal to this president, this incoming president and this Congress that you have a position and it is a strong one, that it is not about passive and sitting around pouting and hashtags but you are actively engaged as a citizen and you want to make your voice heard. That's really incredibly important because resistance without action is dead.
BROWN: Jeffrey, your reaction to the anti-inauguration tips?
LORD: First of all, I hate to do this and shock my friend Charles but I agree with him that's part of the citizenship, totally. But I must say, from a political standpoint, I really hope they do this. I'm old enough, alas, to remember Richard Nixon's first inaugural and there were all types of protests in the streets, anti-war and anti-Nixon protests. All it did was help Richard Nixon. And I would say there's nothing better than getting a bunch of elitist rich liberals in the street to protest the working-class folks who voted here in Pennsylvania and across the country in places like Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin, to reaffirm they made the right decision. So, I hope they go out and do it.
BROWN: Elitist rich liberals.
Charles, what's your view?
BLOW: My view is this: Protest I think is part of the American expression and people should be able to do that and do that as much as they want. But in addition to that, I strongly encourage people to do other things. The number of people who even know their representative in Congress is abysmally low. Find out who that person is. As often as you tweet or post on Facebook, you could tweet to your own representative, and it doesn't have to be a diatribe. It just has to say, you are my Congressman, you are my Senator, I expect you to vote this way on this piece of legislation that I understand is coming your way, and to hold them accountable for that. If there's a cause that you know is under threat, whether that be women's access to a full range of reproductive rights or that is kind of immigrant causes or that is LGBT issues, no matter what it is, there are people out there doing the work and will be deprived of funding and under tremendous pressure in this administration, and you can help them. You can volunteer your time, you can give your money, you can send a note of encouragement. All of those things are really important to do. And it's not just the idea of showing up on one day and protesting, though I believe that's a valid thing to do, 52but protest every day.
[15:45:52] BROWN: Charles, let me just ask you -- because we want to pivot to other topics.
BLOW: Sure. BROWN: But Donald Trump, as we know, has not officially taken office and not officially the president yet, but the president-elect. Should people wait and see what he's going to do in the White House instead of protesting on Inauguration Day and assume he's going to do certain things. He hasn't had the job yet. Or is it fair in your view to go ahead and protest?
BLOW: There's something he has done. He has, in fact, attacked a lot of different groups in America. And those people have every right to take him at his word, to take his hostility that he has aimed at them and to remember that that was real for them and that he has promised to take that from the campaign into the White House and amassing a cabinet that reinforces these views. Are we waiting to pretend he didn't say something that he already said? I don't understand the idea of, like, let's wait to -- we see that -- he has told us who he is. And we're not supposed to believe him. I don't understand the wait thing.
BROWN: OK, let me pivot to something else, because my colleague, Manu Raju, is reporting several of Trump's cabinet nominees still have not been properly vetted less than a week before hearings begin on Capitol Hill. Sighting a government ethics letter to Democratic Senators and a source telling CNN the nominees are Trump's Homeland Security pick, Commerce security nominee, Education secretary pick, nominee, and Housing and Urban Development nominee.
Jeffrey, the OTC says this is about getting the nominee's current disclosure reports, and that hasn't happened. Should the hearings be on hold until that happens?
LORD: I think they should get on the ball with this. The Republican Senate, as I recall, confirmed President Obama's or the Senate Republicans in accordance, I think seven of President Obama's cabinet appointments on the day he took office or the next day. So, I think we should get on with this.
And this ties into what Charles is saying earlier here. I mean, these are people who took, you know, the case to the American people, they won the election, and so just as people have a right to be in a street, in the streets, they need to get into their cabinet positions and start acting and taking action on the program and the platform that Donald Trump ran on, and then the two of them will come together. You will see more people in the streets or less people in the streets. The argument will proceed from there. But you have to have these people in place to do their jobs first.
BROWN: Charles, your reaction.
BLOW: I just - the idea of disclosure is an issue, not just with these particular cabinet picks, but the whole Trump administration. And we have to keep saying this, we have not seen this man's tax returns.
BLOW: We don't know whatever debts he may owe to other countries, whatever debts he may owe to banks in other countries that may be closely aligned with the government of that country. We just don't know - there's so much that we don't know, and we're basically -- there's a hand in our back that keeps saying, just keep moving forward, don't worry about it, don't worry about it, but we should be worried about it. This is --
BROWN: Does it feed into the larger issue that we haven't seen those tax returns, we haven't seen everything? Go ahead Jeffrey.
LORD: And, Pam, I have to say -- and I disagreed with this, all the way through the election. I don't think Donald Trump should ever release his tax returns, period. I think we've gotten so caught up in this stuff in the last 40 years to no useful purpose. And this is something presented by, if you will, the political class. What about political conflicts of interest? There are other kinds of conflicts of interests that just financial. Why about people who are feathering their nests politically by doing A, B, or C? We never even go there. It's not even on the table. I just think that this has gotten out of hand. We've had 36 presidents of the United States or more that never had their finances checked before they were elected to public -- elected to the presidency, and we survived. JFK and Franklin Roosevelt and Lincoln and all these other presidents, particularly the wealthy ones, who may have had a lot of interesting things going on in their financial background, and we survived perfectly well.
[15:50:27] BROWN: Speaking of past presidents, on a lighter note, it appears there's a picture of Reagan still behind you. You've had this behind you all along. Will this ever be replaced by President Trump?
LORD: When he gets his official portrait.
LORD: But I hate to not have something Reagan in a segment with Charles Blow, because I know he looks forward to it all the time.
BROWN: Oh, OK.
BLOW: I want to count how many times you've said Reagan.
BROWN: That will be quite the day when you switch off that picture.
All right. Jeffrey Lord, Charles Blow, great to have you both on. Thank you.
BROWN: Straight ahead, 50 million Americans on the east coast facing a winter weather advisory or warning. One of those cities is where we find our Polo Sandoval.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. It's been a soggy and snowy day here in North Carolina, but finally a small break in the clouds, even some sunshine a little while ago. The worst could still be ahead, according to officials. We'll tell you why, coming up next.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:55:14] BROWN: A widespread winter storm has blanketed much of the southeast with snow, freezing rain and ice. But forecasters say it is nothing compared to what's coming to the mid-Atlantic and northeast tonight. Right now, ten of the lower 48 states are currently under some sort of winter storm advisory. The national weather service says it is impacting 50 million people. Stretching from the mid-Atlantic to the northeast. Last night, snow swept into metro Atlanta, Birmingham, Norfolk and Raleigh, North Carolina.
That's where CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval, joins me now.
Polo, what did you wake up to this morning? It looks like a lot of snow.
SANDOVAL: Yeah, a lot of snow, Pam, but before that snowfall, came the rain, came the sleet. And it covered many of the roads around the Durham area. You could still see it on top of the roadways here. As we take an even closer look, you can see kind of what looks like, Pam -- you know it well, you've seen it in Washington, D.C. -- this mucky, slush that begins to accumulate on some of the roads. The problem is that tonight the temperatures are going to continue to drop, go down into the single digits. And the temperatures going to stay at below freezing for the next two days or so, according to several meteorologists., which means all of this mess is likely to harden, likely to freeze. And the threat of black ice could linger into Tuesday, which means when people head back to work at the beginning of the week, the threat will linger Monday and Tuesday -- Pam?
BROWN: Seeing snow in a lot of places, including here in Washington, D.C.
Polo Sandoval, stay warm. Thanks so much.
We'll be right back.