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Washington Prepares for Inauguration Week; Trump Attacks Civil Rights Icon on Twitter (Again); Will Obama's Policies Survive Trump?; 4 Dead in Ice Storms; Mexico and China Fire Back at Trump Threats; Tensions Escalate in the Baltic States. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 15, 2017 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And those activists criticized, picketed and sued the company over its treatment of the elephants. PETA celebrated the closing of the circus after decades of protest.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Circus fans who want to catch the last performance, you have to travel to Union Dale, New York. The greatest show on earth ends its historic run May 21st, just show you know.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Next hour starts right now.


PAUL: Want to wish you a hearty hello on this Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

Inauguration week is here. President-elect Donald Trump's historic political rise to the White House will be official when he takes the oath of office on Friday.

Now, look at this -- crews have been prepping Capitol Hill and the National Mall in Washington for the big events for months now, and the first rehearsals are starting today.

PAUL: It's set to be a triumphant week for the real estate mogul. It comes as Trump continues, though, to attack civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, on Twitter. That's ruffled a lot of feathers over the last 24 hours. That's leading to even more Democratic lawmakers as well saying, you know what, they're going to boycott the inauguration.

BLACKWELL: And in a few hours, Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer will be in Michigan leading the call to save Obamacare. Democrats are billing today as a day of action, 45 rallies across the country expected to be a show of force against Republican's plans to repeal President Obama's signature health care law.

PAUL: There's a lot to talk about here. Polo Sandoval is with us to talk about the new uproar surrounding the president-elect because this thing, it took off yesterday -- I guess started late Friday night and then once Trump tweeted yesterday morning, it was off.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh my God. We have seen this really sweep across the country, particularly there on Twitter at some of the comments there directed at a civil rights icon, John Lewis. As a result, we have seen people here in Atlanta speak out in an uproar among the constituents here in Atlanta, as well as some of the local leaders. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He dedicated his life to community service. That's a lot more that what Mr. Trump has to offer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you do in the civil rights movement? I didn't see you out here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the only city raising a family in midtown, which is just down the street from downtown --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't feel unsafe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I'm concerned about that, there's less crime in our neighborhoods than in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's rather clear that President-elect Trump doesn't know much about Atlanta and I really want to call him out on his promise to fix American cities.


SANDOVAL: Atlanta is not alone. There are plenty of other people and organizations that Trump has targeted since the election. Let's take at some of organizations Trump has specifically gone after using n his official Twitter account.

We do have what is very lengthy list, and also, several of the organizations that have been targeting, including, of course, most recently Representative John Lewis, that is causing this great uproar, as well as, of course, Hillary Clinton, his former opponent. And then, as you can see here, the list goes on and on.

Of course, CNN targeted there on the list as we learned during this week, Victor and Christi. So, it will be interesting to see what happens next. This could be seen by many as a galvanizing moment, and many Democrats, as you just mentioned a while ago, break with tradition and decide to skip the inauguration on Friday.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

SANDOVAL: You bet, guys.

BLACKWELL: Last hour, I spoke with Oliver McGee, a former Trump adviser about Mr. Trump's latest Twitter feud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Do you agree with the sentiment and characterization from the president-elect that Congressman Lewis is all talk, talk, talk and no action?

OLIVER MCGEE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that Congressman Lewis is basically viewed very, very favorably among blacks and whites, left and right of the aisle, because he's a solon, a statesman. He's establishing rule of law when he was doing his activism, that's the wrong territory for the distraction (INAUDIBLE) on the week of the inauguration.

But more importantly, we have to look at the technology and how it is defining, how we communicate in -- across democracy's markets and communications and technology, and what we are going to see in the Trump administration is a brand change of how we do that, how we do presidential politics.


BLACKWELL: All right. I want to bring in now, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Reverend, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: You are a long-time friend of the congressman. What's your reaction to this exchange between Congressman Lewis and the president-elect?

JACKSON: Really, this is Dr. King's birthday, and John is a part of this great legacy, and change for our country. I wish that Mr. Trump rather than challenge John Lewis with a Twitter war, meet with the Black Congressional Caucus, meet with the Latino caucus, meet with significant mayors around the country, Atlanta, and Detroit and Chicago, and begin to engage in policy talks as opposed to these private challenges.

[07:05:01] There are some low-hanging grapes of creditability crisis around the campaign. For example, the 101, the winner won -- the loser won, the winner lost. That was a crisis, and that's about the Electoral College. And then came the Russian factor, 17 agencies said that Russia was involved in the campaign, and then the Comey and the FBI factor, and then, the suppression of the black vote.

There are layers of crisis here and it creates a credibility crisis around the campaign. I hope that Mr. Trump move away from the personal attacks to a real policy discussion.

BLACKWELL: What do you say about the people that criticize and say Donald Trump is not a legitimate president, which actually lines up with what you said, that loser won and the winner lost, to say that this is not the way to move forward in a country that has so many divisions, by questioning or commenting on the legitimacy of the president-elect? JACKSON: Well, if we have one person, one vote democracy, then, of

course, the winner is Hillary Clinton. But then you have the Electoral College, the kind of oversight, which most people don't recognize it as being legitimate, in this day and time is rather archaic oversight. That being done, the Russian factor, which the intelligence community said it is a big factor in the campaign, not the sole determining factor. But the FBI involvement ten days before, another factor.

Then, I think the most significant hacking was done the day after the election, "The New York Times" ran an editorial that the Republican chairman of North Carolina celebrating the fact the black vote was down 9 percent, the white up 21 percent, because they moved precincts. Since 2013, they moved 860 precincts. And so, the manipulation of the campaign is left a real credibility crisis.

BLACKWELL: Let me push you to answer the question that Congressman Lewis answered, in citing all of the elements you have now, do you see Donald Trump as the legitimate president, the president-elect?

JACKSON: Legally =, he is the president, but without a moral foundation. It's a very weak foundation, and therefore, about 20 Congress people said they will not attend. That number is growing and he should respond to the legitimacy of their pain. He is legally the president, but that does not make it have the moral foundation he needs to be the leader of a one big America.

BLACKWELL: OK. I want you to listen to what the presidency of NAACP, Cornell Williams Brook, said yesterday about Donald Trump's comments and how he can bring the country together. Let's watch.


CORNELL WILLIAMS BROOK, NAACP PRESIDENT: It is a campaign in which many of us felt disrespected, unless we missed the point. In recent hours, in recent days, we have the president-elect referred to an icon of the civil rights movement who came (INAUDIBLE) perilously close to becoming a martyr of the civil rights movement, by a name of reverend, reverend and representative, John Lewis. The president-elect said that he was all talk and no action. Disrespected.


BLACKWELL: Some have called for the president-elect to apologize. Beyond that, how does Donald Trump get to the point where he does what he says he wants to do which is unite a divided country?

JACKSON: Well, the Congressional Black Caucus, 50 of them now, Latino Caucus, and Progressive Caucus, meet with those leaders. We need to have a White House conference on violence, causes and cures on racial disparities in our country, on the impact of poverty, the growth of poverty and a plan for reconstruction.

It is now time for policy discussions. There are too few getting the idea -- the first idea would be to cut affordable health care. People are confused and they want affordable health care, and they want Obamacare. They want omelet but they want the eggs, it's irrational. We need leadership that will bring us together. So far, that has not been apparent.

I think John Lewis is too much of an icon, who was in (ph) too much news. He has been walk, walk, walk, and not talk, talk, talk. That's really the John Lewis that we all know and love.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk policy because you bring up Obamacare and you wrote in your column in the "Chicago Sun-Times" that, quote, "this opposition to the Affordable Care Act is founded in large part on racial delusions. You cite research that shows that more non-college educated whites gain coverage than college educated whites and minorities combined in all five of the Rust Belt states that flipped from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.

How do you believe that will impact this conversation, this effort to repeal and replace moving forward?

[07:10:02] JACKSON: Well, many of the Trump supporters are voting against Obamacare, and they are now demonstrating and a form of healthcare. They are appealing, please don't cut it, because one thing President Obama didn't want, he came into office, and we lost jobs that month but net gain of jobs every since, 20 plus million Americans have health care that never had before, they cannot do without it. Without it, they will die.

South Carolina has a billion-dollar budget turned down, and closed rural hospitals. President Barack was on the right track, and those opposed to it are on the wrong track and they are going to attack their own base and that's unfortunate and unfair.

BLACKWELL: Finally, before we let you go, Reverend, you were in Chicago for the president's farewell address this week. We don't know yet what the president will do post-White House. But what would you hope to see from President Obama from Mrs. Obama after they leave the White House?

JACKSON: First of all, the address was a magnificent address, one where Mrs. Robinson raising the children in the White House, and most of the mother raised them in the big house, so that's a big deal. That's the family idea.

Secondly, that in these inner cities, a renewed focus on urban crisis. Chicago, there are nine communities with unemployment above 20 percent, poverty above 40 percent, income range $9,000 to $15,000 a year. In this city, for example, 80,000 vacant homes and abandoned lots, you have 50 public schools that are now closed, that have now become eyesores.

If, in fact, if you, in fact, were to remove the lead paint and lead in the water, jobs. If you cut the weeds down now growing and get landscapers, jobs. If you demolish those houses that cannot be restored, jobs.

My point is, if we turn our focus as Dr. King would from war in nuclear development, to economic development, we may have more jobs than people, let's put America back to work and turn to each other and not on each other. Dr. King, he spent that time at Ebenezer Church focused on the war on poverty, how to end -- the war on poverty at home, end the war in Vietnam. That is agenda for today, end the war of wars abroad, invest and heal America.

BLACKWELL: All right. Reverend Jesse Jackson, always good to have you. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

JACKSON: Thank you, sir.

BLACKWELL: All right. Christi?

PAUL: Well, President Obama is putting some last-minute policies into place before he exits the Oval Office. What will survive a Trump administration which has vowed to reverse his executive orders? We'll talk about it.


[07:15:47] BLACKWELL: The transition from the 44th president to the 45th president now just a few days away. A new CNN film is taking you inside the White House in the final days of the Obama administration.

PAUL: They weren't expecting to turn the keys over to a president with such a different agenda.

Listen to Press Secretary Josh Earnest describe those first hours after they realized Trump's victory.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is the White House where reporters are gathered and everybody is here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are all waiting to find out, what will be said. What will be said publicly?

EARNEST: The first couple of days immediately after the election, you know, other than the statement that the president delivered in the Rose Garden, that was basically the only Democrat in the country who was out publicly answering questions and that's the nature of the job.

But all of the questions centered on the painful outcome of the election.

REPORTER: I know it has been less than 24 hours, but obviously, the Trump message resonated with the majority of the voters. What happened last night?

REPORTER: Does the president feel the results were some sort of rejection of him?

REPORTER: This is now real. Truly, the president must have some real concerns right now?

EARNEST: Listen, I want to be real clear about this. The election is over.

Those briefings were difficult for me and my staff. This isn't just a job. This isn't just a 9:00 to 5:00 gig to pay the mortgage. A lot of this work is what people feel called to do.

What are you suggesting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is progress we made over the last eight years.



PAUL: And you can watch this CNN film "The End: Inside the Last Days of the Obama White House", Wednesday, January 19, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's talk about President Obama and his legacy. CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joining us now.

Sorry, Ron.

So, let's talk about Obama. He's got 5 1/2 days left as president.


PAUL: Do you expect any surprises? What might he do?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, he's been using every hour as we have often seen in presidents, especially when we see a switch of parties at the end of the eight years. And, by the way, President Obama joins a long list since World War II, Ronald Reagan is the only two-term president succeeded by a successor from his own party. So, we have often been in this situation, President Obama is clearly intent on using every hour to engrave as much of his agenda as he can and we'll probably see Donald Trump move aggressively against whatever isn't firmly nailed down in a legal sense.

PAUL: Pretty good point, and I want to go through a couple of things that President Obama has done since the election. He ended a long- standing policy allowing Cubans who arrived without a visa to become permanent residents. He slashed federally issued mortgage insurance premiums. He got the type of bumblebee listed on the endangered species list, you know? A wide plethora of things there across the spectrum.


PAUL: But some of these were done, you know, we know Trump, too, can overturn some of these. Do you expect that to happen across the spectrum? Will some be left in place?

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. I think people have to look at this as a tier or ladder of actions that President Obama has taken, and they vary, and how easy it is for the next administration to overturn them. The easiest are the executive orders. Anything done by the sign -- by

the stroke of a pen can be undone by the stroke of a pen, and there, the big one, the big question was whether when Donald Trump becomes president, he will undo the deferred action that allowed the so-called DREAMers to remain in the U.S., once step up, proposed regulations by the agencies can be withdrawn by the next administration, and we have seen that repeatedly at the transfer of power.

It gets tougher when a regulation has been completed. There's something like the clean power plant to deal with carbon regulation. There, the administration might choose to stop defending it in court, but environmental groups can defend it, and Congress can vote, they've only done it once ever the congressional review act to repeal and complete a regulation.

[07:20:00] And then the last step are legislation, and there you see with the Affordable Car Act, one example, with Dodd-Frank or Republicans tried to overturn. There, they can overturn probably whatever they can do on the party line vote, or what's called the reconciliation process, but where they need 60 votes to do so to break us a filibuster, eight Democrats, that could get a lot tougher.

PAUL: What's was unique over the last couple of terms is that President Obama is going to stay in Washington. What does that signal to you about his future?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the first thing it signals is he's got school-aged kids who he wants to be able to continue, you know, with continuity. I think it' very -- I think the indications are President Obama will be more visible and vocal and active than we have seen former presidents be. You know, he has gone out of his way, both he and Donald Trump have had a personal nonaggression pact for most of this transition, he's gone out of his way to basically do everything he can to kind of ease the transfer of power.

But he also set out a number of trip wires and made very clear that when the next president moves in a direction that he thinks is dangerous to the country on some very big issues, perhaps race relations, perhaps race relations on immigration and climate change, that he may be more willing to speak out than certainly what we have seen from George W. Bush, or even Bill Clinton.

Given the kind of paucity of leadership at the national level of the Democratic Party now, I am betting there are a lot of Democrats who are hoping to hear more from President Obama and Vice President Biden after the inaugural.

PAUL: It's going to be just as interesting afterwards as it has been up to this point.

Ron Brownstein, always appreciate you. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: "Saturday Night Live" back from the holiday break, taking aim at the president-elect, his relationship with the media and his upcoming inauguration. We've got a few highlights.

Also, be careful out there. Travel conditions are impossible, and they are leaving a lot of people without power. There's an ice storm that is hitting the Midwest.


BLACKWELL: There's a deadly winter storm that's sweeping across the central U.S. Four people already have died in Missouri as a result of this ice storm there.

PAUL: And more than 20 million of you are waking up to a winter watch, a winter warning, some sort of advisory because of the storm.

CNN's Allison Chinchar has been watching it for you.

[07:25:01] Allison, what do you see this morning?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the thing we're really focused on is where this is going to shift in the coming days. So, right now, the focus is really from, say, Texas over towards Illinois, but and we are going to start to add more states further east as we go through the coming days and the system also begins to shift. Right now, some of the heaviest ice stretches from Oklahoma City up towards Kansas City with some really heavy ice coming down, and freezing rain in between those areas.

Now, we have the low that developed out towards Baja, California, and has really been able to pull a lot of that moisture into regions of the central U.S. Already, just in the last 24 hours, we had a half of inch of ice accumulated, places Elmwood, Oklahoma, Canadian, Texas, just under that in Joplin, Missouri. But you have to keep in mind, they're not done yet. We're going to get more ice on top of that, and in some areas, especially in Oklahoma and Kansas, we could be talking an additional half of inch of ice on top of the half inch they already had.

Then, as we take the storm a little further out, say Monday, Tuesday, into Wednesday, then we start to have impacts in Chicago, Detroit, and eventually into Boston by the time we get into the day on Wednesday.

Now, the problem with this becomes the ice accumulations, not just on the roadways. We know about the slick spots that will occur when you start to get quarter of an inch up to half an inch on the roads, but then you also have to factor in, it starts to accumulate on some trees and power lines especially, and that's where it becomes hazardous.

Now, one good thing that at least bodes well for states like Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, there's not as many trees as we have in the Midwest or Northeast, but as we talk about it, this storm system is going to shift into those directions. So, power outages will still be a concern for the Midwest and Northeast, Victor and Christi, as we go through the coming days.

BLACKWELL: All right. Everybody, be safe out there. You can't drive safely in ice, so stay off the roads. All right. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.

PAUL: Victor, giving you permission to stay home and not go to work.


PAUL: All righty. President-elect Donald Trump at odds with Mexico, with China. Is it more political rhetoric or the first shots in a coming trade war?


PAUL: So good to see you. Just about half past the hour right now on Sunday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

Democrats are planning 45 rallies across the country, and they call it the last stand against the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.

PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) later this morning from Michigan, Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer.

BLACKWELL: Also new this morning, as John Lewis' supporters call for Donald Trump to apologize for slamming the civil rights icon and congressman, the president-elect is now doubling down on his Twitter attack, saying this to Congressman Lewis, this is a newer tweet, "Finally focus on the burning and crime-infested inner cities of the U.S.," he's calling for Congressman Lewis to do.

[07:30:19] "I can use all the help I can get."

PAUL: This is leading to more Democratic lawmakers saying they will boycott his inauguration on Friday. Take a look at some of them there.


On the international front, Mexico says they will retaliate if Donald Trump fires the first shot in a potential trade war, and China is warning the president-elect not to mess with the bedrock of the diplomatic relationship of the U.S. Is this from the president-elect political posturing or this is an economic battle that's brewing?


BLACKWELL (voice-over): President-elect Trump made his reputation as a dealmaker, but China and Mexico have made it clear that not everything is up for negotiation.

First, China. In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal", Mr. Trump said, quote, "Everything is under negotiation including One China." One-China is a policy that accepts that Taiwan and the mainland are part of the same China. Beijing insists it's not a bargaining chip. China's government released a statement saying, "There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The one-China principle, which is the political foundation of the China and U.S. relations, is nonnegotiable."

The president-elect clearly does not see it that way. Here he is speaking last month.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I fully understand the one-China policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by one-China policy unless we make a deal with China.

BLACKWELL: And Mexico, casts as an adversary with Trump's campaign, along with U.S. companies that have sent jobs across the border.

TRUMP: There will be a major border tax on the companies that are leaving and getting away with murder, and if our politicians had what it takes, they would have done this years ago.

BLACKWELL: Mr. Trump has said a tax on those companies' products could be as high as 35 percent. On Friday, Mexico's economic minister responded to the threat forcefully, saying his nation could be forced to retaliate and that a tariff, will, quote, "have a wave of impacts that could take us into a global recession."

The anxiety over tariff is not limited to the Mexican government. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico. American businesses like Ford are also concerned.

MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Tariffs in general, you know, in general, wouldn't be positive. I think the thing is making sure that, you know, as the president-elect gets into office and as the administration gets into office, that we could have a fact-based discussion.

BLACKWELL: What that discussion looks like could well determine the fate of the economy, here at home and around the world.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk more about this with CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson.

Stephen, I wonder, from your reporting, were you able to tell if this political posturing, part of the deal-making process, or are policies central to the U.S. and China relationship like one-China really up for negotiation?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think it's a bit of both, to be honest, Victor. You know, it's clear that Donald Trump ran for office on a set of policies that include renegotiating the North America Free Trade agreement, which is the agreement with Mexico and Canada, and governs free trade in the Western hemisphere, and took a more proactive response against rising China, and that's something that's clearly caught to his set of political beliefs.

A lot of people, though, do think that, you know, this is an opening bid of Donald Trump. He wants to reset relations with both of those countries and he's taking a position which some people would regard as extreme, as, you know, the starting point for negotiations. But look at this, so -- if Donald Trump's present administration

follows through on some of the rhetoric that is adopted on the one- China policy, the very foundation of U.S. China relations for 40 years, and we are going to go into the most turbulent period of Sino- U.S. relations since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger opened relations with China back in the '70s.

So, you know, make no mistake, even if it's a rhetorical starting point and negotiating point, we're going to see very contentious relations with China, with Mexico and other U.S. foes and even allies around the world.

BLACKWELL: You know, throughout the week during the confirmation hearings, we saw that there were really important discrepancies between Donald Trump and the position of his nominees. When we look at his economic team, are they in lockstep with the president-elect or are these discrepancies potentially on some of these important ideas and theories as well?

[07:35:03] COLLINSON: I think, at this point we can see we don't know for sure. But it was clear, as you said, you look at the nomination hearings of Rex Tillerson, for example, General Mattis, even Mike Pompeo at the CIA, there were clear differences between what Donald Trump said during the election on issues like torture, on issues of national security, things like NATO, U.S. alliances around the world, and what his nominees actually said. They pursued a far more central establishment line on issues of foreign policy than Donald Trump adopted during the campaign.

Now, the question is, as we go into the second week of hearings, for example, the hearings with Steve Mnuchin, the designee of treasury secretary, are we going to see those similar divisions open up?

You mentioned in your report there that, you know, the huge number of U.S. jobs, for example, that are contingent on trade with Mexico, also contingent on the billion-dollar trade with Canada. If Donald Trump adopts a tariff, adopts sort of what some people would say are restrictive trade policies, and those jobs could be under threat and could cause a recession and economic impacts, which could ruin us to his political prospect.

So I don't know for sure exactly how Donald Trump economic team views a lot of the rhetoric he adopted in the campaign, but there's certainly room for differences.

BLACKWELL: All right. Stephen Collinson, thanks so much.



PAUL: Coming up, the U.S. stepping up the military presence in Europe, deploying thousands of troops to Poland. What Russia has to say about that? We're talking about it with General Hertling. Stay close.


BLACKWELL: Thousands of U.S. soldiers have arrived in Eastern Europe, and soon, they will bolster training exercises with Baltic troops. This is part of an effort to show U.S. commitment to the European allies.

PAUL: It's the latest move by the U.S. to ramp up its cousins in Europe.

[07:40:01] But now, Russia believes it to be a threat.

CNN's Phil Black has the story.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Estonia and the other Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, have long considered Russia to be a potential threat. Part of that is history because they say they know what it is to be occupied and ruled by Moscow, first as part of the Russian empire, and later, as part of the Soviet Union.

But since the early '90s, they have been independent and looking to the West to guarantee their security, especially through NATO and its promise of collective defense, in the hope that would detour Russian aggression. The Estonian government says it hasn't worked entirely, that Russia has still launched massive cyberattacks against Estonia. It says Russian military aircraft regularly penetrate Estonian airspace.

But, really, it was the Ukrainian crisis which has shown, it says, that fears about Russia are not unfounded because the Baltic states like Ukraine have sizeable ethic Russian minorities, and they say President Putin has shown what he is prepared to do in the name of protecting ethnic Russians living just beyond the borders of the Russian federation.

So, Estonia is set to get its own NATO deployment, around 1,200 troops from Britain and France, and Estonian defense minister told me that he is very satisfied with that commitment of resolve and the message it sends to Moscow.

MARCUS TSAHKNA, ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: This is a real military combat ability that's coming here, and we are happy U.S. troops are now coming to Poland, and this is a clear message that we are ready to be together for independence and to defend the peace in this district.

BLACK: The Estonian government has watched with interest and concern as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have traded compliments. They've also watched, as Donald Trump, both as a presidential candidate and now president-elect, has called into question the very usefulness of the NATO alliance, describing it as obsolete, while also giving equivocal answers about whether or not, as president, he would be prepared to defend this region in the event it came under attack.

Estonians want that NATO policy to be clarified very quickly. They say they understand why a new U.S. administration would want to forge new closer and warmer ties with Russia, but they believe it's inevitable, this new American president will realize, as others have, that it's very difficult to achieve.

Phil Black, CNN, Tallinn, Estonia.


PAUL: Phil, thank you so much.

U.S. soldiers officially welcomed at the opening ceremony in Poland, where the prime minister called it a great day.

CNN military analyst Mark Hertling is with us.

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, I'm wondering -- give us your assessment of the deployment and its importance.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I have been involved in it since the beginning when I was still wearing the uniform, Christi, we started the planning for this in 2004 as we begin to drawdown of the size of the force in Europe, the size of the U.S. force in Europe. There were 100,000 soldiers in Europe in the late 1990s, there's about 30,000 permanently stationed there now.

So, this rotational brigade is a critically important part of reinforcing and reinsuring our allies. And when you go to a part about what's going on with Russia, Russia has a strategy of undermining the competence that the NATO nations have in the Article 5 procedures, and that Article 5 is if one nation attacked, other is attacked, others will come to their aid. So, this reassurance initiative, what these troops are doing, is saying to NATO, we will be there for you. It's critically important and it's been going on for the last several years. It's just that this is the first time it's -- we have stationed soldiers in Poland itself.

PAUL: So, General Hertling, how do you think this move by President Obama may shape what Donald Trump does moving forward?

HERTLING: Well, again, this has been in the works for a while, Christi. This was not geared toward the inauguration and what is going on this month with our politics, and it has to do with reinforcing NATO. It will give the Trump administration a little bit of time to consider this as he talks to our European allies and gets a firmer grip on what goes on in NATO. So, it will be important to have these 5,000 additional troops conducting exercises in key NATO countries.

PAUL: Let's listen to the Polish prime minister and what he had to say.


BEATA SZYDLO, POLISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This is very important for Poland and the region. We live in Europe where there are many external threats, Russian policy is confrontational. For states bordering Russia such as Poland, this constitutes a real threat. We are conscious that Poland must strengthen its alliances.


PAUL: As she points out there, at the end of the day, if there is a warming between the U.S. and Russia in some capacity, that puts Poland in a very delicate position?

[07:45:00] HERTLING: Well, certainly, a warming would be a good thing. But all historical indicators are, past presidents have attempted to do that, and they've all come in with great goals for improving relations with Russia, but it never happens, since Mr. Putin has been in charge.

He has a strategy and we have to understand this. This isn't whether you like or dislike a person. This has to do with his strategy for the country of Russia.

And Phil Black mentioned the issue with Lithuania. It wasn't just the fact that's they gained their freedom in 1990. They had to fight for their freedom in 1990. Google Lithuania, and there were Lithuanian citizens literally approaching Russian tanks with their fists in their town squares, they want them out.

So, this is a very good thing for these new NATO countries, Poland and the Baltics have all joined NATO in 2004. So, they want to see assurances that they will be defended under Article 5 of the NATO policy.

PAUL: Well, earlier in the week, General James Mattis, nominee for defense secretary, said he supports NATO. That's something that goes against the grain of what President-elect Trump has said. What do you make of what could happen with that relationship?

HERTLING: Well, I think General Mattis, he not only said he supports NATO. What he said was if NATO wasn't in existence now, we would have to create it, wow. That's a huge statement on the part of a guy who's getting part of the secretary of defense what counters what Trump has said during his entire campaign.

NATO in my view and in many others' views is a very important alliance and we have to keep it strong. And, by the way, Christi, it has transformed over its years to address its threat today, unlike what Mr. Trump has said, that it's an old institution and stodgy institution. It is very modern and they do a lot of very good things.

PAUL: All right. We appreciate it so much. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling -- always good to get your thoughts and perspective. Thank you, sir.

HERTLING: My pleasure. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: "Saturday Night Live" going after the president-elect once again. Alec Baldwin back to take on Donald Trump, but will the president-elect respond?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Here's a frightening thing to think about -- sex trafficking, but it may be happening we think in the shadows, though it is happening much closer to home than many of us believe.

There's a new documentary that's taking it on. It's called "Trapped", showing how the underworld crime of sex trafficking breaks out in middle schools and high schools.

[07:50:02] In this film, a teenager makes a single bad decision at a party and look what it does.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good girls get in trouble for doing these kinds of things. Now, meets me at the diner at 2:00 p.m. or these go viral and don't tell your parents.


PAUL: I spoke with Jan Edwards earlier. She's from the advocacy group Paving the Way, and she talked about the warning signs that we need to look out for in our kids.


JAN EDWARDS, PAVING THE WAY: The average age is 12, according to the FBI.

PAUL: Twelve?

EDWARDS: -- in homeland security, yes.

PAUL: So, there are parents watching this going what do I do to keep this from happening?

EDWARDS: Yes, yes. So, parents are the front line of defense for us, and it's when you spend quality time with your children and you really get to know who they spend time with, what they love, what they are passionate about, such that you can notice the slight alterations of a child who loves dance and then comes home one day and I don't want to dance any more, or they are playing baseball or they are playing football, but go I really don't want to do that anymore. That's a massive alteration and behavior, you know, low self-esteem. Watching grades drop, having a whole new set of friends.


PAUL: The CNN Freedom Project is committed to helping bring an end to modern day slavery. To learn more and find a way to help, go to our website

We'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: Hello and thank you for coming. I'd like to start by answer the question that everyone is on mind. Yes, this is real life. This is really happening.

On January 20th, I, Donald Trump, will become the 45th president of the United States and then two months later, Mike Pence will become the 46th.


BLACKWELL: "Saturday Night Live" taking aim at Donald Trump as he prepares for his inauguration.

PAUL: Of course, Alec Baldwin was back to reprise his role as the president-elect. Here with some of the highlights, CNN senior media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter.

And, Brian, I think I read somewhere, he only gets $1,200 for each appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

[07:55:04] BLACKWELL: Really?

PAUL: I mean, I think -- I mean, $1,200 is a lot of money, don't get me wrong, but in that vain on "SNL," I think you would expect more -- but he doesn't do it for the money, he said.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he makes hundred of thousands, and millions of dollars from films, from TV. But, you know, he just gets the usual actor rate to show up for these appearances of "SNL." That's what he told the "New York Times" about playing Trump.

Clearly, Baldwin is in it for reasons other than the money and so, this press conference cold open last night, a lot of topics discussed including, of course, the big issue on Capitol Hill right now, Obamacare.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Mr. Trump, you and the Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, but why would you do that before coming up with a replacement plan?

BALDWIN: Because Obamacare is a disaster and I actually do have a replacement plan, OK. I just read about it this week, it's a terrific plan. It's great. It's called the Affordable Care Act.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the same thing as Obamacare, and if you repeal it, 20 million people will lose their health insurance. I mean, people could die.

BALDWIN: Listen, sweetheart. I'm about to be president. We're all going to die.

Next question.


STELTER: All right. There's Baldwin as Trump having some fun with this issue.

Of course, going to be a big story in the days and weeks to come. You know, "SNL" will be back after the inauguration, but this is the first time the show had been on since Christmas, so there was a lot to make fun of.

BLACKWELL: It was also the relationship between the president-elect hand the media that -- that a sketch made fun of, and what we actually saw over the last week really didn't seem like real life when we were watching it on Wednesday.

STELTER: I completely agree with you. Here's the version of BuzzFeed and CNN at the press conference.


BALDWIN: God, I'm loving this press conference. I love the press, I respect. Press.

Let's take another question from the press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Yes, I'm from BuzzFeed.

BALDWIN: No, no, no, not you, BuzzFeed. You're a failing pile of garbage and you want to know why? Because I took your quiz yesterday, and I'll tell you right now. I am not a Joey, I'm a Rachel. Who else also has a question? I love the press.


BALDWIN: No, not CNN, either. You're overrated. You're fake news. I tried to watch your network last night and it was just some crazy blond woman spouting lies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was Kellyanne Conway.

BALDWIN: Oh, right.

God, I love Kellyanne.


STELTER: So, there you go again from the Alec Baldwin version of Donald Trump.

You know, one of the things that "SNL" is doing here, Victor and Christi, is using Trump's words and then having Baldwin just read them in an exaggerated way. Trump really did call BuzzFeed a failing pile of garbage, really did call CNN fake news.

You know what BuzzFeed did? It printed up shirts, calling itself a failing pile of garbage, sold them on the Internet, and then it says it's donating the money to the Committee to Protect Journalists. PAUL: We usually get a response from Donald Trump after SNL.

Anything yet?

STELTER: Yes, not yet. I keep looking, I keep checking. Maybe he's figured out the Streisand effect, a term for when a celebrity attacks something or talks about something and then gives it even more attention. That's what Trump had done with "SNL" earlier in the season. Maybe he'll avoid that today.

BLACKWELL: Hey, what's coming up on the show today?

STELTER: "RELIABLE SOURCES," we got the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, Ben Smith, you know, under a lot of fire for publishing all of that unverified, unsubstantiated information about Trump. I'm going to have Ben on the program to talk to him about that 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

PAUL: All righty. Brian Stelter, always good to see you. Thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

PAUL: And don't forget, you can catch Brian on "RELIABLE SOURCES" today at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

It's the end of the road for the greatest show on earth.

BLACKWELL: The world famous Ringling, Barnum & Bailey's Circus folding up that big top 10. The iconic road show defined what a circus should be for generations of children, and had been on the road in one form or another for about 150 years.

PAUL: In the end, though, CEO Kenneth Feld said the circus was too expensive to produce and when they retired the popular elephant show. He said, at that time, it was inevitable.


KENNETH FELD, CEO FELD ENTERTAINMENT: There is a saying and it's been around for a long time, you can't fight city hall, and we found that to be the case in that situation.


PAUL: The elephants are living out their retirement by the way at a conservation center in Florida.

BLACKWELL: Now, for years, the elephants and their dance routines were a big draw for the circus fans, but hated by animal rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Those activists criticized and picketed and sued the company over its treatment of the elephants there. PETA celebrated the closing of the circus after decades of protests.

PAUL: Yes, circus fans who want to catch the last performance, you can do if you travel to Uniondale, New York. The greatest show on earth ends its historic run on May 21st. So, we hope you make good memories today. Thank you for spending some

of your time with us.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.