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At Least 23 Lawmakers Will Boycott Trump's Inauguration; Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus Will End May 2016; Republicans Begin Obamacare Repeal; Trump Criticizes "Saturday Night Live"; Trump Asks if CIA Director John Brennan Leaker of Fake News. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 15, 2017 - 19:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:00:10] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: 7:00 P.M. eastern. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We are so glad you are with us.

A lot of news to get to this hour because by this time next week, Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. And tonight he is sharing his views on two of the world's top leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you trust more if you talk to them, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I start off trusting them both. But let's see how long it will lasts. That may not last long at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: We will have more on that in just a moment. But first, word that now 23 House Democrats will boycott the inauguration. Some making the decision because of Trump's war of words with the civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis who questioned Trump's legitimacy as president. That triggered a heated response from Trump on twitter.

All of this as rehearsals continue for the big inauguration that is just five days away. We have every angle of this story covered. Let's begin tonight with our Suzanne Malveaux in Washington.

Hi, Suzanne. What are we hearing from both Republicans and Democrats on Lewis's comments and on this apparent growing boycott?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, you know, the fact that this war of words, this feud between president-elect Trump and Congressman John Lewis is happening during the MLK holiday weekend is especially troubling to many African-Americans. Lewis is getting strong push back today from vice president-elect Mike Pence while trying to give Lewis his props as a civil rights leader, also defended Trump's attack because Lewis went after Trump's legitimacy. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein along with many of her Democratic

colleague blaming Trump for creating the tension that is leading up to this inauguration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: And to hear John Lewis, a man that I served with, that I respect, to question is legitimacy of the election and to say that Donald Trump will not be a legitimate president was deeply disappointing to me and also to hear that he was not going to attend the inauguration this Friday. I hope he reconsiders both statements.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I understand why John Lewis feels the way he does. This is a very fearful and divided nation right now. And the Trumps have not done anything to bring it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And Congressman Lewis joining now at least 22 other of his colleagues, House Democrats have also announced that so far, they are not going to be attending the inauguration.

Today, Trump tweeted for many years our country have been divided, angry and untrusting. Many say it will never change. The hatred is too deep. It will change.

Well, going into this week, Poppy, law enforcement officials, they are gearing up for who will be attending, not only the 800,000 expected to attend the inauguration, but also the 100 protest groups that have formally announced that they are also coming -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And we will be on top of all of it.

Suzanne Malveaux in Washington, thank you. We will see you this week in Washington.

All right. I want to bring in our CNN political commentators. Paris Dennard, a member of the national diversity coalition for Donald Trump. Also with us, Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist who served as press secretary for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

And Symone, first question to you since you didn't get the last answer in last time. Let's begin with this. On "STATE OF THE UNION" today, senator Rand Paul had these to say about Congressman John Lewis and then subsequently Trump's decision to respond. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I do appreciate what him being a civil rights icon. But I would also say that that doesn't make us immune from criticism or debates. So John Lewis isn't in a position where there can't be a healthy debate back and forth because he is a civil rights icon, shouldn't make him immune. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Does he have a point, Symone?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Agreed, because John Lewis is a civil rights icon does not preclude him from engaging in a civil discourse. Donald Trump did not give Congressman John Lewis a civil discourse. He attacked his record and the community that he served with a racist stereotype.

So I mean, here I agree with Rand Paul. And I wish that the president-elect will pick some of which Mr. Rand Paul just said. We can have a civil discourse. That's not what we're having.

HARLOW: Paris, let's bring up this tweet, the latest tweet because let's read it for you guys if we have it. There we go.

For many years our country has been divided, angry and untrusting. Many say it will never change. The hatred is deep. It will change!!!

When he says that in all caps, it will change!!!! That the division in our country will change, that's one of many, I mean just take a look at this list of tweets. These are a lot of different entities that he has targeted with anger and at points, vitriol. What is he going to do to make the divisiveness stop when he is participating in it even in the way that he responded to Congressman Lewis.

[19:05:01] PARIS DENNARD, NATIONAL DIVERSITY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Yes. I want to point out one thing, I disagree with Symone, that he said something that was racist in the tweet. I didn't see anything that was racist. But to your point, Poppy --.

SANDERS: The stereotype about black and brown communities.

DENNARD: I think what the president-elect is going to do is put together a coalition of people on the inside of the administration and on the outside of the administration who are going to work with him. There are going to be Democrats and there are going to be Republicans. I think the cabinet positions that he has put together, especially by Dr. Ben Carson at HUD, people like Betsy Devos as secretary of education. I think these people have an understanding of how he wants to do to make America great for everyone. And so --.

HARLOW: But what I'm actually asking is that the way that the president-elect speaks and what he tweets, how is that going to change to further unite the country instead of dividing the country. I understand he is upset that a sitting well respected congressman said I don't think you are a legitimate president. And he can indeed respond however he wants to. But as he writes an inaugural address that is about unity, how is he going to do that and show that as commander in-chief.

DENNARD: Well, I think we have to stop and ask ourselves, are 140 characters the way we are going to define how someone is going to unify the country. I think how he is going to unify the country --.

HARLOW: So you know, Paris, he is not sitting down for interviews with us. He is doing that instead.

DENNARD: True. But I think we should look at actions more so than tweet. And his actions I believe, Poppy, are going to show how he is going to unify this country, by opening up the inauguration, by having a diversity coalition, by saying I want to give parents school choice, by saying dear Dr. Ben Carson. Let's figure out ways to bring people together, like Steve Harvey, like Jim Brown. Let's bring people together.

And I think personally, Congressman Lewis is missing a major opportunity to sit at the table, use his expertise and his years as being a wonderful human being and a great American by helping bring this country together. By boycotting the inauguration and by saying he would never invite the president-elect down to Selma is a missed opportunity for us to come together. And I hope he will reconsider.

HARLOW: But Symone, some of the concern, Symone, is that this boycott that is growing by the hour seemingly is a harbinger of things to come, right. If, you know, many of those Democrats are sat with the way the president-elect respondent. They are not coming. How does this get deescalated? It doesn't help deescalate to just not show up.

SANDERS: I will say this. Look. A boycott, a blanket boycott seemed to work for the tea party Republicans, now they got Donald Trump as their president. And folks like congressman Pompeo ascending to the higher ranks of government.

Look. Does boycotting make people uncomfortable? Does it wave the flag of unity? Of course not. But that's what a boycott is about. It's supposed to make you uncomfortable. It's supposed to say that we don't like that's happening.

I agree with Paris in the aspect of we should be -- folks should trying to come to the table. But the president-elect has not set and include the table. The president-elect has to lead by examples. And until Donald Trump leads by example, until he stops disparaging the intelligence community, black and brown communities, our respected congressman on the eve of MLK day, the media, we are never going to get to a great table.

So no. People are going to boycott. And I think folks are well within their rights. This is the resistance, Poppy. This is just what it looks like right now.

HARLOW: Paris, does the president-elect need to form a thicker skin about things like this? I mean, would you have liked to have seen his tweets say, it is unfortunate you feel that way congressman Lewis. Thank you for your service to this country. Let's sit down and talk about this.

DENNARD: Of course, the president-elect could have tweeted something differently, hindsight is 20/20. But at the end of the day, he is going to have to grow, I guess in your terms thicker skin. But he is not the president yet. He is the president-elect and I believe --

HARLOW: So it's OK five days before you're president and then it's not?

DENNARD: I didn't say that it was OK. What I'm saying is that I think it will be a different tone and a different way he tweets when he is president. This president-elect is very, very smart and he is very, very keen on how to talk to the American people, how a message to the American people and how to make the media so upset.

HARLOW: It doesn't get under my skin so much.

Symone, before I move on to some other topic, I will say Hillary Clinton is going to the inauguration. It was Barack Obama, our sitting president, who said we have to do everything as a country that we can to help this president.

SANDERS: Because Barack Obama --.

HARLOW: Should we see the other Democrats taking a page from that?

SANDERS: Look, Poppy. I think Barack Obama is the epitome of a grace and class. And is a face of - let's not forget, the president-elect is the one who challenge his legitimacy as president. Said he wasn't born here and fought him every single day up until the moment that Donald Trump was, you know, nominated as the next president of the United States.

So look. President Obama is doing his job as the current president to try and just keep these little pieces of thread threaded together. Unfortunately, the rest of the country doesn't necessarily fairly feel like that. Folks are not just ready to roll over and forget everything that Donald Trump has done.

So I definitely think we have to have some reconciliation. Again, we got -- before we can heal, we got to pull the knife out, and Donald Trump just keeps on stabbing people, proverbially.

[19:10:31] HARLOW: All right. Guys, let's talk about this other - I got to get to this other news because Donald Trump just gave an extensive interview to a German and a British newspaper. And one of the question was about whether he will, you know, give equal trust to Vladimir Putin and German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Here is his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you trust more when you talk to them, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: Well, I start off trusting both. But let's see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Some of the other headlines. OK. He said basically, he put them on equal footing, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. He also said (INAUDIBLE) which General Mattis completely disagrees with. He also left the door open to banning some Europeans from coming into the United States, and those are just three of the major headlines there. Any concern, Paris?

DENNARD: No. I think it's a good thing that you have a president- elect so openly talking about these world affairs, and specifically saying that he is going to at first trust both Germany and Russia on the same footing. I think that is positive thing going --.

HARLOW: Why? Trust based on what? On what history, on what actions does Angela Merkel only deserve the same amount of trust as Vladimir Putin after Vladimir Putin hacked into this election?

DENNARD: I think you go into it diplomatically saying I will trust you both right now. And he said we will see how it goes. Actions speak louder than words. And like president Reagan said you trust but you verify. And I think that as --.

HARLOW: And as we said in the last hour, these are completely different circumstances.

DENNARD: I'm saying that president-elect Trump is going to verify by their actions. He is going to verify how much he can trust them. And if he can't trust them --.

HARLOW: We already know the action. The actions are that the Russians hacked the election and the electoral process of the United States -- Symone.

SANDERS: You know what? If I was Angela Merkel, I would be offended right now because if actions do speak louder than words, Angela Merkel, they have shown that they are staunch allies of the United States. They have been there when we need them. And they have been allies in the fight.

Russia, on the other hand, not only has they hack our elections and try to undermine our democracy, some would argue Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. And they have engaged in some very risky behavior that is dangerous to the international community.

So I think the president-elect actually was speaking from a place of ignorance. He was a little bit aloof. And if he would like to speak callously about world affairs, I would hope he would be brief. Because it is extremely important of because who the president is matters and the president's words matter and right now this is risky business.

HARLOW: What does this mean for the world order as we know it? Do you believe, Paris? I mean, is he turning things on their head?

DENNARD: I believe this is good for the world order because we have a president-elect who understands diplomacy, who is going to garner the respect of our world leaders like we haven't seen in the past eight years. And we are going to have someone who is going to go in there, having dealt with them and having dealt with the international skill as a successful business person.

And so, I think his ability to negotiate, to make deals is going to be very, very good for the country. And he is going to make America great begin because he has an understanding that you have to show respect to give respect.

HARLOW: He has no concern about offending, you know, the leader of one of our largest allies, our most significant allies, the biggest economy in Europe, Germany. He has no concerns about that?

DENNARD: No more than I had about President Obama offending Israel.

HARLOW: Not a direct answer but it is all the time we have.

Thank you, Paris. Thank you, Symone.

DENNARD: Thanks, Poppy.

SANDERS: Thanks.

HARLOW: Coming up, a lot ahead, the big top is coming down, why the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is ending after more than a century.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time we got our national priorities right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Plus rallies held from Maine to California as Democrats look to send a big message to Republicans on healthcare.

And the evolution of a first lady, Michelle Obama's journey from reluctant political figure to democratic rock star, where does she go next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:29] HARLOW: For pretty much 100 years, some version of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus has entertained crowds and bid top tents across America, but not so much longer. Loved by many but fiercely criticize by animal rights groups. The owners of the Ringling Brothers circus have said they are pulling up the stakes for the very last time in May.

Fredericka Whitfield explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the end of the road for the greatest show on earth. In just four months, the curtain falls on the one and only Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, an iconic road show that defined the circus experience for generations of children.

In the end, CEO, Kenneth Feld, said the circus was simply too expensive to produce. His family has owned the show for the past 50 years. But ticket sales were declining and the circus's fate was likely sealed last year when it retired the popular elephant show. Feld said then it was inevitable.

KENNETH FELD, CEO, RINGLING BROTHERS AND BARNUM AND BAILEY CIRCUS: There is a saying, and it has been around for a long time, you can't fight city hall. And we found that's to be the case in this situation.

WHITFIELD: For years, the elephants and their dance routines were a big draw for circus fans but not at all popular with animal rights groups which deplored their treatment, and repeatedly criticized, picketed and sued the company for its treatment of animals.

In 2011, the circus paid a fine of more than a quarter million dollars for alleged violations of the animal welfare act.

And last year, it retired the elephants to a conservation center in Florida.

After closure was announced, people for the epical treatment of animals declared victory while admitting it is as against other wild animal exhibitors including marine amusement parks lie Sea World is far from over.

The last performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuit will be on May 21st in Union Dale, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Something else to remember, Poppy. School kids have been taught a few favorite coin praises linked to circus co-founder PT Barnum (ph) like get the show in the road and throwing their hat into the ring after a candidate for office did just that at a Ringling Brothers circus while announcing he was running for political office. Praises outliving that American past time under the big talk - Poppy.

HARLOW: Indeed.

Fredricka, thank you so much.

Coming up, rallies held from Maine to California as Democrats wants to send a big message to Republicans on healthcare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:20:04] B. SANDERS: You are going to have to worry about millions of people who are standing up, who are fighting back and who demand the day when healthcare will be a right of all people, not just a privilege.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:23:05] REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Let me say this. I believe we can and should have a system in this country where everybody can have access to affordable healthcare including people with preexisting conditions no matter how much money they make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That was House speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday at the CNN town hall as Republicans begin the process of repealing Obamacare and debating what is to be replaced with Democrats for their part are staging was zip and trying to save at least parts of it.

Rallies held across the country today and Jessica Schneider was there.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, we saw these sorts of rallies taking center stage during the campaign. Now it appears they are extending into Donald Trump's presidency. This one here in Michigan, just one of many, about 40 happening all over the country from Maine to California. People looking to send a message to Republicans that they should not and cannot repeal and replace the affordable care act.

People got up on stages throughout the country, sharing their story about the affordable care act, how it literally saved their lives and also saved them millions of dollars collectively throughout the country.

Senator Bernie Sanders was right here in Michigan leading the charge. He was here in a state that Democrats haven't lost since 1988 but of course this state went for Donald Trump this election season. I asked senator Sanders why he would be here in Michigan when there is a similar rally held - happening in his home state of Vermont.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. SANDERS: Mr. Trump, when he ran for president, promised the people of Michigan and the people of America that he was a different type of Republican. He was not going to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. So part of what today is about is reminding Mr. Trump that he better keep his promises because we are watching.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: President-elect Donald Trump has been speaking out repeatedly about this saying he wants an immediate repeal and replace of Obamacare. House speaker Paul Ryan says it will be a simultaneous repeal and replace. But Democrats I spoke with out here in Michigan and throughout the country are saying that they are skeptical because they have not seen a plan from Republicans so they do not believe that a repeal and replace is proper -- Poppy.

[19:25:12] HARLOW: Jessica Schneider for us in Michigan. Thanks you, Jess.

Coming up, Donald Trump takes on "SNL" again, responding to the show's latest spoof of his battle with the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, I have been loving this press conference. I love the press. I respect the press. Let's take another question from the press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm from Buzzfeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no. Not you Buzzfeed. You are a failing pile of garbage. You want to know why? Because I took your quiz yesterday and I'm taking right now. I'm not a Joey. I'm a Rachel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:47] HARLOW: It's become somewhat expected in this otherwise unprecedented election cycle. "Saturday Night Live" mocks president- elect Donald Trump and he responds with an angry tweet.

If you thought this weekend was going to be an exception, you were wrong. He is how it fall and play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The intelligence community has said definitively that Russia hacked the election. Why won't you say On the Record that you agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will. I'm happy to say that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then do it. Say Russia hacks the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What should I do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little louder, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Fine, Russia hacked the election, are you happy, mom? Next question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Trump tweeted this moments ago. NBC News is bad, but "Saturday Night Live" is the worst of NBC, not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television.

Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" is with me now.

Record season for "SNL," right.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Some standard it just having its highest ratings in a couple of decade.

HARLOW: Wow. STELTER: Donald Trump, of course, clearly tuning in. I to admit I

wondered all day. Was this going to be the week that he would stop tweeting about "SNL," because the show took a holiday break for about a month. It came back. He didn't weigh in all day. But tonight, he did comment. And you can understand why. I mean, the show is very, very aggressive, both in front of him, making fun of him at length.

But here we are, five days from inauguration day and he is not just the soon to be commander in-chief. (INAUDIBLE) the TV critic in- chief. It was only from 15 months ago that he hosted "SNL" himself. We remember the video. He was dancing to hot line bling, making jokes about his campaign. Of course, this was before any votes were actually cast. So it was a great moment for Trump. It really gave him a campaign boost, and showed a lighter side. Now, of course, 14, 15 months later, not so pleased with "SNL."

But what is so amusing, Poppy, if you look at episode from last night, (INAUDIBLE) was hosting for the first time. The show had some fun with this idea that Trump would be watching. Here's what Tina Fey told Felicity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:31:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a bit nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't be. If Steven Segall can do it, so can you. All you need to do is go out there and do your best. Don't worry about what the reviews say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this show get reviewed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, way too much. Also no matter how it goes, the president of the United States will say that it's sad and overrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the president. Its fine, no one cares.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: So that joke proving to be quite true.

HARLOW: What was Tina Fey there? I was as you know, fast asleep.

STELTER: She was some sort of ghost, you know, returning from star wars or something like that.

HARLOW: There you go. The thing is this is going to go on for the next four years or eight years if he wins a second term. Would it behoove him to go on the show?

STELTER: You know, I would not be surprised if he became the first sitting president in a long time to show up on "SNL." You know, this series has been around for decades. And as much as Donald Trump might want it to go away, might want to run in for the ground, it's not going anywhere. And I think that is something that his aides would be wise to reminds him about.

HARLOW: But did "SNL" - has "SNL" ever made fun of a president or a president-elect or candidate as much?

STELTER: That's interesting. Yes, I think some of Trump supporters would say no.

If you go back and look at George W. Bush and the way he was treated by the show a decade ago, I think you can make a case that it was almost as harsh. Trump, however, he is a unique character for this program. You know, in some cases, what "SNL" is doing, including last night is using his own words, literally, he is using some of his quotes from the press conference and then repeating them on the show.

So yes, even though, you know he has drove in there in 2015, maybe it will be awhile before he has done.

HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) did that entire sort of tour across America.

STELTER: That's right. You know, obviously, the show leans to the left. And not a lot of Trump voters appreciate that. Trump in some ways takes advantage of these cultural divides.

HARLOW: I know a lot of Trump supporters who are having a laugh at this.

STELTER: Some. I think Trump takes advantage of these cultural divides.

HARLOW: Yes.

STELTER: One big item in this Sunday Times interview you have been talking about. He described as use of twitter. Remember in November, Trump said he thought he would be more restrained once he moves into the oval office. He say otherwise now, take a look at what he told the Sunday Times about his use of twitter. He said I thought I would do less of it. But I'm covered so dishonestly by the press, so dishonestly that I can put out twitter and I can go bing, bing, bing. And they put it on as soon as I tweeted out. This morning on television, on Fox, Donald Trump, we had breaking news.

So this is sort of meta (ph). He is referring to us on television, covering his tweets that we are doing it now.

HARLOW: It is true.

STELTER: But I think he is right. That he has figured out a way to issue a new kind of press release and they were going to get his message out without going and doing television interviews. I think it is notable there he is saying, maybe it is not going to be restrained after all. He is going to continue to use this platform. And by the way, he is this close to 20 million followers, he'll probably top 20 million tomorrow.

HARLOW: Right. So the question will he be tweeting from his account or the potus account. But I want to get something else very, very serious when it comes to

the forth to say that journalist covering the White House. Esquire had this big report that the press corps could be in their words quote "evicted from the White House." And if you read into this, it's about moving them into a different room, possibly a different building across the street. What does all this mean? I know you have gotten a statement from Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary.

STELTER: And his indication is about funding more space for more journalists. That's the official line from the Trump transition team. I think unofficially, this is about creating uncertainty, a vulnerability, keeping the press back on their heels so to speak, creating a sense of uncertainty about what the Trump administration will do. And they say they would like to make room for more journalists than the briefing room can hold --

HARLOW: What do you make of that? What does that really meant, 49 journalists can now be in the room.

STELTER: Yes. There is 49 seats, maybe a little bit more room on the sides. The reality is there are trump radio host, other journalists, bloggers who are in the room. But I think the Trump administration would like to bring in more of those people. Perhaps more pro Trump or Trump friendly voices. There's a lot of journalists, most of them in that briefing room now who aren't pro Trump or anti-Trump or pro- Obama or anti-Obama. They are just trying to cover the White House objectively. I think the Trump administration would like to bring in more clearly Trump supporters.

[19:35:00] HARLOW: Josh Earnest made a point recently of saying, you know, I call on Breitbart News, et cetera, et cetera. We saw what happened to our Jim Acosta this week. Donald Trump would not take his question after criticizing/slamming this network. What do you think is going to happen? I mean, is Sean Spicer going to call on, you know, fairly on all the news networks?

STELTER: Yes. This week it was CNN. And I think we can expect that next week it will be the AP or ABC or NBC or one of these some other network or some other news outlet. The true line here, it's not about Trump picking on or attacking any individual news outlet. It's about reacting and dismissing any news coverage that he doesn't like. Tonight in "the Washington Post," the media columnist there, (INAUDIBLE), as an excellent column. It is on washingtonpost.com. It says journalists in five days are in for the fight of their lives.

HARLOW: I think your next book is going to be about this.

STELTER: Well, we are writing it right now, aren't we, right here?

HARLOW: There you go. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

HARLOW: Be sure to catch Brian every, obviously, every Sunday on the show "RELIABLE SOURCES" 11:00 a.m. Sunday. Coming up for us, for every successful president--for every successful

man, there's a great woman behind them. Come on. How Michelle Obama made the office and even turnips cool.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:39:25] HARLOW: In just five days, the Obamas will move out of the White House. But before they go, they are opening the doors to everyone in a pretty unique way. It is a new virtual reality tour. They talk about the White House's history and their own eight years living there, all while giving you a 360-degree view of the rooms like the oval office and "the situation room." And for the first lady Michelle Obama, there's been a lot of changes since, of course, the family moved in.

Our Michelle Kosinski reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michelle Obama's first steps on to that enormous, exhilarating, terrifying national political stage were reluctant, cautious. Remember the family back then?

[19:40:06] MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack is home at least once a week and we are really doing family stuff.

KOSINSKI: On the campaign trail, young Malia and Sasha talk about the weirdness of seeing their parents in magazines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pretty good because you see people like Angelina Jolie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a really important people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No offense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy is important.

KOSINSKI: And the beginning was not so easy, moving into the White House, where the bullet proof windows can't be opened, but secret service was always there. She recently described that first day.

OBAMA: I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just seven and ten years old pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns. And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window and the only thing I could think is what have we done?

KOSINSKI: And she did face criticism even before the election.

OBAMA: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country.

KOSINSKI: Soon after that, portrayed on this New Yorker cover, today how far she's come. On the cover of "Vogue" three times. She is long since found her footing, her causes. By her husband's second term, Michelle emerged much more comfortable in public, polished, but loosening up, in more ways than one.

OBAMA: Turnip for what? Roses are red, violates are blue, you are the president and I am your boo.

KOSINSKI: The first lady seemed to not only accept the public eye and the constraint of the White House.

OBAMA: There are prison elements. But it is a really nice (INAUDIBLE).

KOSINSKI: But to embrace the opportunity to let her voice be heard, including her fashion even taking some risks, competing with the best of them and making headlines. Remember the bangs?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We borrowed one of Michelle's tries.

KOSINSKI: America has seen Michelle Obama, Harvard educated lawyer and mother, use her humor, her star power, even hire viral mean power, occasionally shedding light on what it's like to raise now teenagers in these circumstances.

M. OBAMA: We have one who generally stays here, and then we have one we call a grumpy cat. They are salty biscuit.

KOSINSKI: At their time in office drew down, the once reluctant now determined first lady, drew upon her swelling popularity to enter the campaign trails as one of the most powerful voices for her party earning her in a game, the closer.

M. OBAMA: I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watched my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.

KOSINSKI: She took on Donald Trump's access Hollywood tapes.

M. OBAMA: It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted. It's cruel and it's frightening and the truth is, it hurts.

KOSINSKI: Speaking her mind even after the election.

M. OBAMA: We are feeling what not have and hope feels like, you know.

KOSINSKI: In her final speech as first lady, her emotion is raw. She once again urging Americans not to give up, to celebrate diversity and to use education and talent to better their nation.

M. OBAMA: Thank you for everything you do for our kids and for our country. Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I have made you proud.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Michelle Kosinski, thank you for that.

Joining me now is Jodi Kantor. She is obviously a fantastic reporter at the "New York Times," but also the author of this book, "the Obamas, the partnership behind a historic presidency."

Thanks for being here.

JODI KANTOR, NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you.

HARLOW: You wrote a great article in the past week or so on the first lady. And the headline s which Michelle Obama will we get when she leaves the White House. And in it, you write the hunger among Democrats for her to speak out will be enormous. But she knows better than anyone what that could cost her.

As someone who has covered the first lady in depth, what do you think we will see from her next?

KANTOR: I think she has a very tough choice. On Friday we are going to watch as the first lady and President Obamas hand the keys to their house who rose to power in part by smearing the president, who is somebody who disagrees with all of their policies and will try to undo the president's legacy.

Michelle Obama on the one hand, I think really respects the kind of Laura Bush tradition of being very above it all and not interfering in politics. We know that she is looking forward to the relief of having a private life again.

On the other hand, Democrats really want to hear from her. She is one of the most respected voices in the country. She is a unifying figure for a Democratic Party that's in meltdown.

And one of the things I really shown in my book is that when Mrs. Obama became first lady, she edited herself. The version we see as first lady, it's authentic, it's not fake. But it is one part of her. She calls herself the mom when she spends a lot of time in the White House garden.

[19:45:23] HARLOW: That's strike me because you also wrote about that also in your article. Why do you think she edited herself?

KANTOR: What she said at the time to advisors that she said she hated the idea that she could be a liability for the president. I know it is strange to think about because she is such a popular figure now. But there was some controversy over things she had said in the 2008 campaign. It was very clear to her that one false word, one bad story could really hurt the president's chance, his first of getting elected and then his policies.

And her advisers talked about her determination to do everything well as a first lady. She really did not want to become part of the partisan fray. And part of what my book is about, it is about her discovering this kind of paradox where the more above it all and nonpartisan you seem, the more political power you actually have. HARLOW: But it is interesting because she has constantly said, you

know, I don't want to be in politics or all those around here say politics is not for her. But you, you know, end your article talking about when she spoke out in the final weeks of the campaign and said it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to move on like this was all just a bad dream, of access at the Hollywood tape release, et cetera. Do you think she delves in?

KANTOR: In private, absolutely.

HARLOW: I mean into politics.

KANTOR: Into politics? In private, of course.

HARLOW: After this, do you think she would ever run?

KANTOR: So in private in the White House, she absolutely does now. What friend in it say is that, you know, her critique of Republicans behind closed doors is scathing. We don't often hear it in public.

I don't think she runs for president. I mean, she and the president have both said that was the status and that she would never be interested in.

I think the question is how she uses her voice. In politics, when people want to hear from you, it's really hard not to weigh in. There's going to be a lot of pressure on her to help the Democrats rebuild, to be a contrary voice to the Trump administration, but I don't think it's an easy decision for her about how much she wants to engage with that.

HARLOW: You know, what is also interesting to me is that you say she did a lot of very important things including fighting childhood obesity, et cetera, but they were not really controversial issues she took on and you write that that did not capture her true depth, originality or directness.

KANTOR: So one of the reasons I really love writing biography about Michelle Obama is that she is a very original figure. She is her (INAUDIBLE) four years. She is the daughter of (INAUDIBLE). She is a social critique on her own terms. She has very original thoughts. She likes defying what other people think she should say, whether it is a political wife or a black woman. And the early Michelle Obama quotes from that years covering her that like 2000 to 2007, 2008, when they are so rich and original and funny and interesting. And she was willing to make assertions that people would sometimes disagree with.

So my question is will we see a little bit more of that Michelle Obama, not really a different Michelle Obama, just a different side of her after the White House.

HARLOW: And she has become not only all of those things you just discussed, but a pop culture icon. Obviously, her style. She was just on the cover of "Vogue" with that fascinating piece. She's also spent a lot of time especially in recent weeks on late night television. Let's look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. OBAMA: What can we say? We just dropped the mic. Don't tell people.

Where is the rash?

My shoulder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lower than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: This is a first lady who I think so much of America felt relaxed by.

KANTOR: Well, I think those appearances we just watched were very strategic. They were fun. They seemed spontaneous. But they are not spontaneous. Advisors spent a lot of time planning those stuff. And also, think about what counter it is to what we generally experience in politics. This has been a bitter, polarized time in American society, generally full of really painful incidents. By doing those kinds of appearances which feel fresh and funny and they feel less calculated even though they are. It actually wins her more influence and more political effectiveness.

HARLOW: So the question of race relations is obviously a huge topic for this country right now and through this presidency. And she said in her final remarks there, we need to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. And as you noted, uplifting message with a settle critique. And then you take us back to the 2008 where she said I hate diversity workshops. Real change comes from having enough comfort to be really honest and say something very uncomfortable. What has she done for race relations in this country? What might she do?

[19:50:16] KANTOR: Well, in terms of what she's done, I would say simply being the first African-American first lady is a pretty enormous contribution. The kind of everyday work of that job, figuring out what the first African-American first lady sounds like, you know, looks like, and just sending that positive role model to people. There was actually a tremendous amount of work that went into that.

I think the question about the future is whether she's going to share what she has seen. Very few people have surveyed the country from the height that the Obamas have. Certainly they are the first African- Americans to look at the country from that height.

So what looks different? How does power look? How does opportunity look? What did they notice about the system that the rest of us don't see? Especially during an incredibly difficult time racially in this country, right? I mean we have heard the president talk about it a little bit, the first lady has said less, think of her in the White House watching the Trayvon Martin case, or watching what happened in Ferguson, is Michelle Obama going to share that experience and share her views with us? We just don't know yet. HARLOW: Jodi Kantor, thank you so much.

KANTOR: Thank you.

HARLOW: Appreciate it. Nice to have you on. Again, the author of the book "the Obamas."

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:54:32] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HARLOW: All right. This is breaking news just in to us here at CNN. In tweets just sent out by president-elect Donald Trump moments ago, he asks if CIA director John Brennan is quote "a leaker of fake news." That he is retweeting this Fox News article. The title of it is "Outgoing CIA chief John Brennan, blast president-elect Trump on Russia threat, does not fully understand. Trump goes on to say, really, couldn't do much worse, just look at Syria, red line, Crimea, Ukraine and the buildup of Russian nukes, not good. Was this the leaker of fake news?

All right, the context here is important. Earlier today, in an interview with FOX News Sunday, John Brennan, the head of the CIA, has some pretty harsh words for Trump. Here's part of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: What I do find outrageous is equating an intelligence community with Nazi Germany. I do take great umbrage at that. And there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:55:37] HARLOW: OK. Joining me on the phone is Kimberly Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst and senior national correspondent for "the Daily Beast," somebody incredibly well-sourced within the intelligence community.

I mean, he is asking did John Brennan, the head of the CIA, leak this 35-page dossier to the public. Your thoughts?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (on the phone): Well, Poppy, he has been hinting at that all along about naming anyone. But now that John Brennan took this unprecedented step to go on FOX News, on a program that he knows the president-elect watches to say what you said this past week, you have gone too far. This is open warfare. Well, open warfare through words.

What he could do, however, Brennan is taking Trump's anger at the intelligence community on himself, he is making himself a target, so that hopefully in the long-term this will stick to him as a member of the Obama administration and that Trump would then trust the community once he has got his own people in charge.

HARLOW: So then, what does this mean? Does it stick to Mike Pompeo, the, if confirmed, incoming next head of the CIA?

DOZIER: Well, it means he is going to have a bruised and wary intelligence community of CIA officers to take care of when he comes in there. And he is going to have to show them that he has their backs otherwise you may see things like leaks not through the intelligence community reporters, but leaks from the intelligence community say to the house and Senate intelligence committees about things that they think are going wrong.

It's an interesting procedure that happens that they are protected as whistle blowers to do something like that. And if they're unhappy, that's when you see those kind of complaints rise in frequency.

HARLOW: Here's the issue. If the president-elect, soon to be the sitting president needs to make the case to the American public to go to war, that case is based on the intelligence from his intelligence community. That is why this relationship is so important, Kimberly. Have we ever seen anything like this between a commander in chief and the intelligence community that serves him? Questioning whether the head of the CIA leaked something that was damning and really not verified at all to the press?

DOZIER: I can't recall any sort of open verbal warfare back and forth like this. But remember that document was already floating around. As Brennan said and it has been in the hands of the media for a long time, they just couldn't verify it. But of course, just as national intelligence Clapper and FBI director Comey waved it to a national security issue simply by briefing it to members of Congress to president Obama and to president-elect Trump. So then it becomes something that were all came attention to.

Now, in the long-term, over the next few months, we are going to be watching for what is the -- what is the confirmation hear for the director of national intelligence nominee Dan Coats like? What kind of question does he get?

What we heard from Trump's nominees this past week was a lot of anti- Russia sentiment. We haven't heard the same thing from the president- elect. This is now going to become the main issue dogging everyone going for a full-time job in the Trump administration. And in the meantime, with John Brennan and director Clapper both -- director Clapper had reached out to president-elect Trump this past week and tried to make amends. That obviously didn't work. So now, you have those two men about to leave office on the 19th. And after that, you're going to have to have some real healing between the White House and the intelligence community. And we will have to see if the people who have been nominated have the (INAUDIBLE) of Trump and they are allowed to do their jobs.

HARLOW: Kimberly, I have to leave it there. We appreciate you coming on this breaking news. Thank you very much.

Thank you all for being with us this weekend. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Good night.