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Interview With California Congressman John Garamendi; No Conviction in South Carolina Police Shooting Case; Trump Starts Victory Tour; Victims Angry as Self-Help Guru Seeks Comeback After Deaths; Trump Confirms Choice of Mattis to Lead Pentagon. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 02, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: breaking news. Cannot convict. One juror throws a murder trial into chaos in the case of a former South Carolina police officer who shot an African-American man in the back. Can the deadlock be broken or will there be a mistrial?
Moscow meddling. We're learning more about Russia's attempts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. Democrats are now putting pressure on the Obama administration to declassify secret information about Vladimir Putin's intentions.
Tale of two Trumps. The president-elect gives Americans campaign flashbacks by holding a raucous rally and veering from policy to potshots. Tonight, new details about his plans to keep his victory lap going in the days and weeks ahead.
Cage match. Trump and Clinton campaign aides meet face to face, unleashing anger and ugly accusations. How did a postmortem on the election turn into a bitter brawl? And what does it mean for Trump's calls for unity?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news out of South Carolina right now, where jurors told the judge they're deadlocked in the trial of a former police officer named Michael Slager.
He's accused of murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott. That was captured on cell phone video as Scott was running away from Slager. Moments ago, the judge said the jury is willing to continue deliberations.
Stand by. We will have more on this in a moment.
Right now, president-elect Donald Trump is back at work on his transition. He's meeting with potential candidates for top jobs after returning to campaign mode during his first post-election rally. We're told he's busy, very busy with a schedule for a so-called thank you tour in the days ahead with 10 stops, including events in North Carolina and Iowa next week.
We saw glimpses of the unscripted, unpredictable Donald Trump in Ohio overnight as he revved up supporters by slamming the news media and celebrated his victory over Hillary Clinton.
Also tonight, Senate Democrats are urging the Obama administration to declassify and go public with new intelligence about Russia's attempts to meddle in the presidential election, this as sources tell CNN the intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian hacking was intended to help Donald Trump.
As Mr. Trump prepares to take office, America's unemployment rate has now fallen to its lowest level in nine years. The U.S. economy adding 178,000 jobs in November, and the jobless rate falling sharply to 4.6 percent. I will talk about the Trump transition, Russian hacking with the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman John Garamendi. He's standing by live, along with our correspondents and analysts, as we bring you the full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the breaking news in the trial of former police officer Michael Slager.
CNN's Brian Todd is here with the very latest, along with CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
Brian, jurors are deliberating right now, saying for all practical purposes they're deadlocked, but the judge is instructing them to continue.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
A lot of dramatic and fast-moving developments in the court just now. We were told that the jury is now back in the courtroom and the judge has been handed a note. We don't know what it says. Things are moving very fast. We can show you a live picture of the courtroom and Judge Clifton Newman there speaking.
Just moments ago, when the jury was brought back into the court, the foreman said they want to keep deliberating. The judge then asked him to let him know what further explanation of the law they needed. And then he sent them back into the jury room. But just now, they have been brought back into the courtroom and handed the judge a note. It is not clear whether the judge may declare a mistrial or whether he will ask them to keep deliberating.
Earlier, the jury indicated that a further explanation of the law might help them reach a consensus here. But also one juror sent a note to the judge saying he could not in good conscience convict officer Michael Slager of the murder of Walter Scott. That juror seems to be the real issue here. The other jurors could not convince that person to convict. That person has held out, and now we see the court in session there.
It's possible a mistrial might be declared. It's possible the judge may send them back in to continue deliberating, Wolf. BLITZER: Laura Coates, it just takes one juror to deadlock an entire
trial like this; 11 jurors can say convict, but if one juror is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, that judge has no choice but to call it a mistrial.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely right, Wolf. That's really how the system works. You have to have unanimity.
And all that a prosecutor is fearful of that little inch of reasonable doubt and what a defense attorney holds on to for dear life, or in this case officer Slager was, that reasonable doubt. One thing we're talking about, the fact that we all thought this was going to be a murder case, just a murder case.
They also at the end of the trial said the jury could consider a voluntary manslaughter charge. That may have been enough of a signal to jurors to say -- that one juror to say, well, listen, there may be some doubt whether there was premeditation or malice or whether fear really was justification here.
I don't think it was, but that may in fact be what's driving this person to be the one holdout juror.
BLITZER: The defense attorneys, Brian, as you know, you have been watching this very closely, you were down there -- they argued, yes, we all saw the video of Walter Scott running away. And he was shot in the back by the police officer, Michael Slager.
But we didn't see everything that happened before that leading up to that moment. The police officer in this particular case, his attorneys, his defense attorneys keep arguing in his mind he still felt threatened.
TODD: That's right. That's been the central core of the defense case here, Wolf.
And we don't know exactly what happened in the moments before this video was shot. The defense claims, officer Slager claims there was a tussle, there was a fight, and that the dead man, Walter Scott, took his Taser.
Well, there is no video to support that. There is some indication of a Taser in one piece of video here in the cell phone video. But, again, the role of this Taser, how it was used is really not clear at all. What is clear is that you see Walter Scott being shot several times in the back by officer Slager as Scott runs away, seemingly a very, very strong and convincing piece of evidence here of some misconduct by that officer, possibly murder or manslaughter by that officer.
This jury not yet reaching a consensus on this, one juror holding out at this point.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin is with us, our senior legal analyst. Jeffrey, it seemed to so many people who just saw the video like a slam dunk. Here the police officer has his gun. The other man unarmed is running away, Walter Scott. The police officer shoots him in the back several times.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know why it seems like a slam dunk, Wolf? Because it is a slam dunk. This is an outrageous case.
You know, of course the defense has a story here that there was some altercation. That never gives a police officer the right to murder someone who is running away. You know, the message that this hung jury sends, if in fact it winds up to be a hung jury, is it just shows how difficult it is to convict police officers of even the most appalling crimes.
Even in a world where there are controversies about Michael Brown's death in Ferguson and Eric Garner's death in Staten Island, this was a case where the prosecutors arrested the police officer instantly, because the evidence was so clear.
I mean, I just find this a heartbreaking situation because this is a slam dunk case, and it is not resolved.
BLITZER: We just learned, Jeffrey, that the judge, he's told the members of the jury, all 12 of them, they can go home for the weekend. But he wants them to resume deliberations Monday morning. He is not yet ready to declare a mistrial. Give us your analysis of that.
TOOBIN: Judges hate mistrials, because they don't want to retry cases. You know, he gave what's called a dynamite charge, or an Allen charge, which is named after a Supreme Court case, which basically says to the jurors, look, you're not supposed to give up your conscience, but you should listen to each other, reason with each other.
But, you know, there is a long history of single holdout jurors, which is especially maddening because it's just one person. I think prosecutors recognize if a jury is split 6-6, 7-5, they recognize there are problems with their case. But if a jury is split 11-1 for conviction, that means almost always that there is a problem with the juror, not with the case.
And that certainly is the conclusion I draw here. But there's nothing that can be done about it, except to have the juror change their mind or have a mistrial.
BLITZER: We will see if that happens.
TODD: Interesting what we heard earlier, Wolf, is that the one juror who held out gave the judge a note himself saying he couldn't in good conscience convict officer Slager.
Laura, you tell me. That seems unusual. Even the judge, I heard him in court say it's unusual for a juror who is not the jury foreman to give him a note like that.
COATES: It is. The judge does not want to know which way someone is leaning, because they want the jury to deliberate and be able to come to -- you almost have a Norman Rockwell painting in your mind of the woman leaning back in her seat being the actual holdout.
But here also think about the optics of this. This judge does not want to let this case go, not only because this case should have been a unanimous conviction, but it's also Friday night after a case that's been widely and highly publicized, and is very, very, very volatile in terms of what it actually represents to the community.
I hope in my mind, and I know all of our hearts, we hope this will be resolved in the minds of the community in the right way and that it will be treated fairly. But, remember, the Friday night after this case is being judged is a mistrial, that would not be what you would like to go in, just optically speaking, as a judge.
Even more so, there is an opportunity at this point that this one juror may, in fact, decide that even though his conscience perhaps can't be the guide, maybe the law, as it should be, is actually his guide. And that may ultimately change his conclusion.
It may not, but it's not a Friday evening.
TODD: By asking for the instructions here, it looks like the other jurors may be trying to convince this one person, follow the law here, maybe trying to nudge this person one way or the other. Very dramatic. Now they have to pick it up on Monday.
BLITZER: The trial is in recess now. They will pick it up Monday morning.
We will see what happens then. All right, guys, thanks so much for that.
Let's move on to the Trump transition right now. Tonight, the president-elect is juggling his behind-the-scenes work with plans to hold more campaign-style rallies.
Let's go CNN's Jessica Schneider. She's over at Trump Tower in New York for us.
Jessica, what's the latest there?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, another a day of back-to-back meetings here at Trump Tower.
The president-elect sitting down with several people, including the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, as well as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and even the Democratic Senator from North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp. But Donald Trump really in his element last night when he went before that crowd, and we saw that return to that candidate Trump persona.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump back to business at Trump Tower just hours after holding a rousing rally for hundreds in Cincinnati, Ohio.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We are going to make America great again. You watch.
SCHNEIDER: The first stop on what he's calling his thank you tour, part on teleprompter, part off the cuff, bombastic, and boastful, with the clear message I told you so, all signature Trump.
TRUMP: We won Wisconsin and we won Michigan, and we won Pennsylvania, and that person is doing the math, and that person was saying for months that there's no way that Donald Trump can break the blue wall, right? We didn't break it. We shattered that sucker.
SCHNEIDER: Trump once again lashing out at the media.
TRUMP: These are very, very dishonest people.
SCHNEIDER: And boasting about his nine-point Ohio win despite a non- endorsement from Governor John Kasich.
TRUMP: Your Governor John Kasich called me after the election. He said, congratulations, that was amazing.
SCHNEIDER: And at a time when many are calling for the president- elect to reach out to the plurality of voters who voted for his opponent, Trump went in the other direction.
TRUMP: Though we did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn't we?
AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
SCHNEIDER: While also calling for the country to come together.
TRUMP: We're going to seek a truly inclusive society where we support each other.
SCHNEIDER: Trump's riffs resulting in confirmation of reports from CNN and others that he will nominate retired Marine General James Mattis as secretary of defense on Monday.
TRUMP: They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have, and it's about time.
SCHNEIDER: But at least one Democrat promising a fight over the waiver necessary for General Mattis to take over the top post at the Pentagon. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand releasing this statement: "While I deeply respect General Mattis' service, I will I oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy. And I will not vote for an exception to this rule." Mattis left the Marines in 2013, not enough time to meet the seven years required by law between a uniformed officer retiring and taking up a civilian post.
Meanwhile, speculation still swirling over who Trump will pick for secretary of state, Mitt Romney continuing to stand out as one of the four leading contenders for the spot after his Tuesday night dinner with Trump. The president-elect providing some insight into his relationship with the former Massachusetts governor who infamously labeled Trump a fraud during the primary fight.
TRUMP: Well, he's been very gracious, and don't forget I hit Mitt pretty hard also before the fact, and so I understand how it all works. But he's been very, very nice. We had dinner the other night. It was great. There was actually a good chemistry.
SCHNEIDER: And Donald Trump promising more Cabinet announcements next week, presumably starting with General Mattis on Monday.
He also says he has his Supreme Court picks narrowed down to four people. And that so-called thank you tour will continue into next week with two just announced, one in Fayetteville, North Carolina, one in Des Moines, Iowa.
And, Wolf, he's promising about 10 of these thank you tour stops over the coming weeks -- back to you.
BLITZER: All right, we will watch them very closely.
Jessica Schneider, thank you very much.
Let's get the latest now on Russia's reported attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election. Democratic senators are urging President Obama to declassify and go public with new intelligence about Moscow's role.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has been digging on this story.
What are you learning, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we're learning that there is new information that Russia's election-related hacking was intended to help steer the election towards Donald Trump.
And Democrats now want the president to make this information public.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Democratic senators are pressing the Obama administration to more forthrightly state based in part on new intelligence that Russia's meddling in the U.S. election was intended to help Donald Trump, multiple sources tell CNN.
The Democratic pressure comes as multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that the U.S. intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian hacking was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine the political process.
The sources, however, do not see the new information as significantly changing the intelligence agency's understanding of Russian motives, since the Democratic Party was the principal target of the hacks.
Seven Democrats on the Senate's Intelligence Committee wrote President Obama yesterday, insisting such intelligence should be -- quote -- "declassified and released." The letter did not specify what the new information was. Senator Angus King signed the letter.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I think the story of Russia's involvement in this election is the biggest story of the decade, frankly. And I think it's going to only grow.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Adam Schiff, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, also wants to see more information public, specific to Russia's involvement.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: They largely accomplished their mission of sowing discord in the United States and maybe even tipping the balance in part of favor of Mr. Trump and against Secretary Clinton.
SCIUTTO: But Republican lawmakers downplayed the letter, telling CNN, there was no new information to suggest the intelligence community has changed its overall assessment in any way.
One month before the election, the intelligence community publicly declared they were -- quote -- "confident the Russian government directed compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations," noting document dumps from the Web sites dcleaks.com and WikiLeaks, which targeted the Democratic Party.
However, the intelligence community has not previously publicly indicated that Russia's intention was to help Donald Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Just after the election, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress he expects Russian hacking to continue.
JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: I don't anticipate a significant change in Russian behavior. The Russians have a very active and aggressive capability to conduct information operations, so-called hybrid warfare.
SCIUTTO: In his annual address to Parliament yesterday, Russian president Vladimir Putin dismissed the claims as myths.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: Reached tonight by CNN, a Trump ally said, "This is nothing more than sour grapes from partisan Democrats upset that Hillary Clinton lost."
I want to make something clear here, Wolf. When you speak to Democratic lawmakers, they are telling CNN their concerns are not about who won the election. They say the election is about behind us, but the integrity of the U.S. electoral process going forward.
And as you heard DNI Clapper there, he has told Congress he expects such hacks to continue.
BLITZER: On another matter, a very sensitive diplomatic matter, Jim, we're also learning about this phone call the president-elect Donald Trump had with the president of Taiwan. You know a lot about this issue. Tell us why this is so, so sensitive.
SCIUTTO: I got to tell you, Wolf, I have covered China for more than 20 years. If you wanted to poke China in the eye diplomatically, to cause a diplomatic uproar, this would be the way to do it.
A U.S. president-elect has not spoken directly with a leader of Taiwan since 1979. That's when the U.S. recognized Beijing rather than Taiwan as the U.N. seat of China, as in effect the real China. So to have this direct back and forth just after the election before he takes office, a significant diplomatic development.
I have to tell you, it is very likely that heads are spinning in Beijing tonight over this. They're going to want clarification. Does this signal a change in U.S. recognition of Taiwan vs. China? Those are the questions that are going to get asked of the Trump team.
BLITZER: Yes. Since the '70s, it's been a one-China policy, and potentially this could signal to China that's changing. We will see what happens. No reaction, we're told, yet from the Chinese government. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Let's talk about all of this with a top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman John Garamendi of California is joining us.
Your reaction, first of all, Congressman, to the fact that the president-elect, in their official announcement, said he spoke with the president of Taiwan, who offered her congratulations during the discussion. They noted the close economic, political and security ties that exist between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated the Taiwanese president on becoming president of Taiwan earlier this year.
It's a sensitive diplomatic issue.
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: No doubt about it. And whoever is going to be the next secretary of state is going to be
on his horse, out in the field trying to clarify where this president- elect is going.
Beyond that, let's also understand that on November the 19th, the Trump Organization was in Taiwan trying to close a real estate deal. So here we have got not only this issue of international diplomacy going on, but you also have this issue, are there conflicts here?
This is going to be a very, very complex situation going forward for the president, or as he tries to understand it. And God help the next secretary of state trying to sort out this man who is just not even bothering to take his daily intelligence briefings.
BLITZER: He's taken, we're told, at least three so far.
The vice president-elect, he gets that daily intelligence briefing every day.
Let's talk about this other issue, the allegation that the Russian government deliberately tried to intervene in the U.S. presidential election with the hope of helping Donald Trump become the next president of the United States. You have seen this letter from Senate Democrats. You're briefed on this. How serious is this issue?
GARAMENDI: It's a very, very serious issue.
This is intervention by Russia.
BLITZER: Do you believe it absolutely happened?
GARAMENDI: Oh, it did happen. There's no doubt about it. We know that there was a hacking. We know who the...
BLITZER: There was a hacking of the Democratic National Committee. All of that has been publicly announced by the U.S. intelligence community.
BLITZER: But what exactly is your intelligence as far what the Russians did as far as the presidential election is concerned?
GARAMENDI: Without going into any of the intelligence, which is still classified, all you need to do is to take a look at what was going on.
Did you see anything about the Republican campaigns, any hacks of the Republican National Committee, any hacks of any of the individuals in the Republican -- no. It was all hacks of Democrats and then rolled out over time.
You don't need to be an intelligence expert to understand what was going on. Connect the dots. Russia did it, no doubt about it. And what was the result?
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: You want the president to release all this classified information?
GARAMENDI: Absolutely. Get it out. This is not just about today. This is about the future.
This is about -- they could just as easily hack Donald Trump's organization. They could just as easily hack his communications. And what does that mean for the president of the United States going forward?
We have got to deal with this. And we have got to make it very clear to Russia, you do this, there will be a clear retribution. You're going to get hit.
BLITZER: With a U.S. cyber-attack in retaliation?
GARAMENDI: There are many different ways you can do it. There are sanctions. There's retaliation on the cyber side of this. This has got to stop, because it is dealing with the fundamental democracy of this nation.
BLITZER: Congressman, there's more to discuss. There's other developments that are happening right now.
Stick around. We will continue our conversation with Congressman Garamendi right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with the House Armed Services Committee member John Garamendi, the Democratic congressman from California.
Congressman, let's talk about General Mattis, who the president-elect says he wants to serve as defense secretary. As you know, if you're out of uniform for less than seven years, you guys in the House and the Senate, you're going to have to pass special legislation, a waiver to give that individual permission to become the civilian leader of the Department of Defense.
Your colleague Adam Smith, the congressman, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, he said this. He said: "The unusual circumstances of his nomination raise serious questions about fundamental principles of our constitutional order. Civilian control of the military is not something to be casually cast aside."
Are you in favor of voting in favor of a waiver to allow General Mattis to become defense secretary?
GARAMENDI: I'm very concern, very, very concerned about this, because it goes right back to George Washington.
He resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army to become president. Now, that was one day to the next. BLITZER: General Mattis resigned three years ago.
GARAMENDI: I understand.
But, nonetheless, after World War II, the federal government, the Congress decided they wanted a separation. And that's been in place with one exception, George Marshall in the '50s. It's a very, very important point, because it's not just the secretary of defense. It's all the secretary -- Army, Navy, Air Force, all of those secretaries are also -- they're also civilian.
So there's an important dichotomy here, and we really ought to be very, very careful about this. Which way I'm going to go on this, I'm going to go to the hearings, but just up front, I am concerned and I suspect all of Congress should be concerned. It's not Democrat, Republican. It's about civilian control of the most awesome military machine in the world.
BLITZER: Before he could be confirmed by the United States Senate, the House has nothing to do with that -- both chambers have to pass this legislation of this waiver that would allow him to be considered as the secretary of defense.
And I assume we will see what happens down the road. What about if he does become the secretary of defense? Would you have a problem with General David Petraeus becoming secretary of state?
GARAMENDI: Well, we're beginning to stack up the generals here, aren't we?
BLITZER: You have a problem with that?
GARAMENDI: I think we need to be very careful.
Petraeus is a good person, no doubt.
BLITZER: General Mattis is a good person too.
GARAMENDI: Absolutely true.
But now we're beginning to have generals, ex-generals in every one of the key positions dealing with the military, dealing with international affairs. And that begins to take on a heavy, heavy tilt to the military.
And we can best be careful here about what all of this adds up to, when you start looking at the intelligence community, you start looking at the military, and the secretary of state, and where we're going to go on homeland defense. All of those things, we need to careful.
BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. Congressman John Garamendi of California, appreciate it.
Just ahead, can the president-elect bring Americans together when he's telling his doubters, "I told you so?"
[18:35:08] BLITZER: President-elect Donald Trump is extending his thank-you tour to 10 stops in the coming days. At his first rally in Cincinnati, we saw some classic Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We spend too much time focusing on what divides us. Now is the time to embrace the one thing that truly unites us. You know what that is? America. It's America. From now on, it's going to be America first. We're going to put ourselves first.
We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms. We denounce all of the hatred, and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We're going to make joint decisions.
And the nice part, our victory was so great, we have the House, we have the Senate, and we have the presidency.
Remember when they said, he cannot win North Carolina? So we had just won Ohio, Iowa, and we had just won Florida. Breaking news, Donald Trump has won Florida. They say, "Whoa." And we won it big.
But then the people back there, the extremely dishonest press -- said, right? I mean, think of it. We won in a landslide. That was a landslide. Remember, "You cannot get to 270," the dishonest press.
How many times did we hear this? "There is no path to 270." They go for weeks, "Texas is in play." Then you turn on the television, like two minutes later, "Donald Trump has won Texas."
It's like 12 a.m. in the evening, and Pennsylvania, I'm leading by a lot. And we couldn't get off 98 percent. They didn't want to call it. We're leading by so much that it's impossible, if I lost every other vote, and they refused to call.
And we won Wisconsin, and we won Michigan, and we won Pennsylvania! And that person is doing the math, and that person was saying for months that there's no way that Donald Trump can break the blue wall, right? We didn't break it, we shattered that sucker. I'll never forget it, though, because it felt so good.
And then they're looking at the map. They're saying, "Oh, wow, there's no way for Hillary Clinton to become president. Donald Trump is president of the United States."
The bottom line is, we won. We won. We won big.
The African-American community was so great to me in this election. The Hispanic community, great. We did great with women. Can you believe it? For whatever reason, people in uniforms like Trump.
This is truly an exciting time to be alive. There's been no time like it.
The script is not yet written. We do not know what the next page will read. But I'll tell you, it's going to be a great page.
You know, I talk about our great movement. You are the movement. I'm just really the messenger. Although I've been a very good messenger, let's face it. Right?
BLITZER: Let's get some analysis from our political experts. Rebecca Berg, let me start with you. That was vintage Donald Trump, the Donald Trump we saw for, what, a year and a half winning the Republican primaries and then winning the general election.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was. So we talked a lot, speculated that maybe Donald Trump would pivot, would evolve during this transition period as he moves towards the presidency, Wolf. We haven't really seen much of an instance of that. He is still Donald Trump. Still very much an entertainer, and as we know, his default mode is very much to create drama. He thrives off of plot twists, off of entertainment, and I think we're going to see a lot more of that.
But that's what has kept his supporters so captivated throughout the campaign, and I think he doesn't want to lose that momentum moving into the White House.
BLITZER: And Abby Phillip, it's worked so well for him all these many, many months. Why not continue that for the next four years, maybe even the next eight years?
ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. And like any good politician, he knows that he has to keep his supporters happy in order to remain president and continue on, perhaps, to another -- another four years.
And I think his advisers look at his rallies as something that is like a rock concert or a football game. It's something where people go to be entertained, to be energized. And so it's actually -- you can't separate Donald Trump from his rallies. He is his rallies. And so I wouldn't be surprised to see this become, basically, a permanent fixture of his candidacy.
BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, will you be surprised if -- if he were to change and became, as they say, quote, "more presidential"?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, look, I think other presidents obviously have gone out and done rallies with their supporters. It's not unique for Donald Trump. I think what is unique is the ad hoc nature of it. His rallies, maybe like his diplomacy with Taiwan, is more ad hoc.
[18:40:10] I think the real question is the one you raised at the beginning with Rebecca, which is can he find a language and, even more important, an agenda that speaks beyond -- speaks to Americans beyond his base? Obviously, this was a very divisive election. We saw enormous divides between town and country, between urban and non-urban voters. He is on track to lose the popular vote by over 2.5 million votes, even though he won under the rules, clearly under the Electoral College and one of the places he had to win.
There is a lot of division and apprehension still as he nears the White House. And while he is obviously very successful at stirring up and energizing his supporters, I think the larger question over the long run is can he find a language and an agenda that reaches beyond them?
BLITZER: I was struck, Jeffrey Toobin, by the fact on this program yesterday, almost exactly 24 hours ago, we were reporting pretty hard that he had selected James Mattis, General James Mattis to become his secretary of defense. We said the announcement would come early next week.
His aides then immediately started pushing back: No decision has been made. The president-elect is still deciding, no decision. And they encouraged us to move back. Then all of a sudden last night at his rally, he went off script and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we're not announcing it until Monday, so don't tell anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Jeffrey, his special spokesman only a little while earlier had said -- tweeted no decision had been made. And I get the sense that the president-elect, he has a lot of fun doing this kind of stuff. He didn't want to wait until Monday.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think that is a safe bet. He was having the time of his life.
What is so interesting about these sorts of speeches, especially about, you know, going state by state through the election, is that it was all about him and his, you know, his triumph. And we won this state, and we won that state.
You know, ultimately, though, the -- you know, the success or failure of a presidency is about things that are accomplished or not accomplished.
And you know, there was an announcement today that unemployment went to 4.6 percent. That is historically a very low unemployment rate. And unemployment is like a report card on presidents. Donald Trump is going to take office with a very low unemployment rate. If it continues to go down, that will reflect well. But if it goes up, then he's got a problem. And that's what is going to matter, not the rallies.
BLITZER: We're going to talk about that in a moment. But Ron Brownstein, he clearly enjoys the showmanship aspect... BROWNSTEIN: Yes.
BLITZER: ... of all of this, Donald Trump. And that was so evident in that speech in Cincinnati last night.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, as I said, you now, it's not unusual for presidents to go out and rally their supporters, but usually, they're doing so with a teleprompter, a very carefully prepared remark. Donald Trump was still basically, it seemed, winging it.
As the author back in 2009 of the phrase of "the blue wall," I was glad to hear him talking about it being shattered, as he did in this election in those three close races in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But you do wonder if, once he gets into the White House itself, will a communications team be able to establish more kind of structure around what he does on the stump?
Because the words of a president, as you've been talking about with Taiwan today, matter enormously. And what we've seen -- that is the real difference here, is I think the degree of kind of free-flowing, extemporaneous, ad hoc kind of continuation of the campaign. And we'll see if that can continue into office itself.
BLITZER: Rebecca, let's talk a little bit about what Jeffrey Toobin reported, the very positive jobs numbers that came out today, 4.6 percent unemployment. That's the lowest, what, in nine years. The Republican National Committee put out a statement, though, looking at the downside of all of this, even though 178,000 jobs were created.
They said this: "The 4,000 manufacturing jobs that disappeared last month come on top of the over 300,000 that have been lost under President Obama, more proof that President-elect Trump's efforts to stand up for the American worker is the commitment our country needs right now. President-elect Trump's determination to save 1,000 jobs in Indiana is just a preview of his agenda and his prosperity for all."
So you know, you hear one thing from the Republicans. You hear something else from the Obama administration. These numbers, 4.6 percent unemployment, that's a very, very good number.
BERG: Right, it's very positive. And we've seen this growth throughout these past years in the Obama administration. But what that statement hits on was really the story of this campaign, that that growth, the jobs growth in the Obama administration, has been mostly for white-collar jobs and white-collar workers, people with college educations, not the people who largely came out and supported Trump, these working-class Americans.
[18:45:00] And so, even though the carrier announcement was mostly symbolic, I mean, a thousand jobs, that matters, but in the broader scheme, it's sort of a drop in the bucket. That was basically symbolism for what Donald Trump hopes to accomplish. He hopes to focus on the working class job and bring those jobs back.
But it's absolutely spin. I mean, Democrats are always going to find in the coming years the bad aspect of Donald Trump's accomplishment.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And if you take look at where the economy is, Abby, right now, as opposed to eight years ago, the economy that President Obama inherited, it's so much better, the unemployment rate, the Dow Jones at 19,000, it was 6,500 eight years ago.
But in the election that really wasn't translated to the benefit of the Democrats, whether running for the House or the Senate or for Hillary Clinton.
ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. And added to that, you know, the president himself with high approval ratings. But I would for one wanted to get rid of these jobs statements, because I think they're kind of useless. They don't really tell us anything.
And -- but this jobs report with Trump is not so much about whether jobs exist and who they're for, but the quality of jobs. So, people might be employed, but they're not employed in jobs that they feel are pushing them into the middle class. So, it's a cultural statement that Trump voters are making about whose side is Washington on? Are they helping us move into the middle class?
And so, that's not reflective in the jobs numbers. When people are employed at McDonald's or at Burger King, and they want to be employed in a middle class manufacturing job, like their father was, they're not going to necessarily feel like the economy is working for them.
BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, you studied this very closely. Those 1,000 plus jobs that were saved at that Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Donald Trump getting an enormous amount of credit for that right now, especially when he says to his supporters, you know what, that's only just the beginning. Wait and see what I do.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. It's hard to reverse literally generations of global and technological change that have reduced manufacturing employment, even as manufacturing output has continued to increase on a case by case basis. Ultimately, you can't really do it. I mean, it's like trying to use a teacup to hold back an ocean.
But the powerful symbolism of showing, as Abby said, that I am concerned about your welfare, I feel your pain, as another president once said, I think is very powerful for him.
What's striking is the degree to which this intervention has already divided conservatives and many of his traditional allies. I mean, you had "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, Sarah Palin, of all people today, denouncing what he did as the kind of picking of winners and losers that were Republicans would condemn under a Democratic president.
So, it will be interesting to see how far this goes, because on the one hand, I think the business community and most Republicans like the idea of rolling back taxes and regulations. They're probably less enthusiastic about publicly shaming companies, making investment decisions that involve moving investment or jobs overseas. So, we'll see how sustainable this model is within his own coalition, but I think it is a powerful way for him to talk to his voters.
BLITZER: Yes. We'll see if he can do more of that.
Jeffrey Toobin, I'm curious to get your reaction to this exchange that occurred at Harvard University, the Kennedy School, the Institute of Politics, normally since the early '70s, political operatives of all the campaigns, they have a very fancy little dialogue about what's going on.
But listen to how it deteriorated between Clinton and Trump operatives yesterday at Harvard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a very, very important moment in our history of our country. And I think as, you know, his presidency goes forward, I'm going to be very glad to have been part of the campaign that tried to stop him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Jen, do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did, Kellyanne, it did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you could had just a decent message for the white working class voters? Do you think this woman who has nothing in common with anybody?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It got pretty nasty over there, which is -- I watch these kinds of events at Harvard over these many years. That was extraordinary.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, and I think it speaks to one of the great historical debates we're going to have about the 2016 election, because was it really about the white working class who were upset about the flight of jobs and manufacturing jobs, or how much of it was an appeal to racism, to sexism, to, you know, out and out really ugly parts of American life?
Clearly, the Clinton campaign feels that Trump, you know, through his association with the alt-right movement, played into precisely those things and it wasn't just about economics. It was about race and gender, too. And I think that historical debate is going to rage for a long time.
BLITZER: Yes. Ron Brownstein, you've attended these events, as well. It shows how raw three weeks plus after the election, how raw the tensions are right now.
[18:50:00] In fact, four years ago, Gloria Borger and I co-moderated that very same panel in the general election debrief.
Yes, this was an extraordinary exchange. I mean, you know, the Clinton -- and it goes to the point of somewhat Jeffrey said. I mean, how much of what we saw in the Trump coalition was economic anxiety and how much of it was cultural and demographic anxiety, about feeling left behind in America that is changing in many ways.
I tend to think the two things kind of braid together and overlap and then fundamentally that many in the same communities and voters who feel left behind economically, also feel eclipsed culturally. And Donald Trump spoke to that very powerfully, but in ways often that did kind of touched on racial anxieties. For example, on his comments about Judge Curiel last June.
So, that debate I think is going not only going to go on academic sense, but it's going to shadow his presidency, because there is a substantial portion of electorate as he arrived that have used him more as a divider than uniter despite what he said in a clip that you begun our segment there.
BLITZER: Abby, how do you see it?
PHILLIP: Yes, over the last -- over the course of the last two days, I was up in Harvard for many of these sessions. One of the important things that came out of it was the tenor of the Trump camp. They were very fixated on winning. Not as fixated on, sort of, having a kind of calm dialogue like we might have experienced in past sessions.
And I think that tells us something about how the team is going to go forward. You saw with Trump last night at his rally. They are obsessed with coming out on top and they are not as concerned about extending that olive branch and that's one of the reasons the things got so high, you know, not just with the Clinton campaign, but also with Republican campaigns throughout the sessions and the previous days as well.
BLITZER: That was a pretty extraordinary moment indeed. Stick around, we have much more coming up. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:56:24] BLITZER: A new CNN film tells the story of a self-help guru turned convicted felon and the deadly price his clients paid for seeking enlightenment.
CNN Sara Sidner has more on James Arthur Ray and the victims who are furious that he's now trying to make a comeback.
VIRGINIA BROWN, KIRBY BROWN'S MOTHER: A state trooper came to my door and said, do you know Kirby Brown?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She did. Virginia Brown is Kirby's mother, and that day, she learned her daughter was dead. BROWN: She was cooked to death. That is how she died. This
beautiful woman, who was drunk on life and had friends all over.
SIDNER: Kirby's life ended while she was trying to improve it. The surfer and avid horseback rider wanted more, a life partner and help growing her business.
That's when she found self-help guru James Arthur Ray.
JAMES ARTHUR RAY, SELF-HELP GURU: And I can help you, I really can.
SIDNER: The motivational speaker had already built a multimillion dollar business, launched by the popular movie "The Secret", and appearances on Oprah, Larry King and the today show.
BROWN: She really was very taken and signed up immediately.
SIDNER: She reached one of the highest level workshops, a retreat which cost her her live savings, $10,000.
(on camera): During the five day retreat at this campground outside Sedona, Arizona, participates were challenged to shave their heads, go on a 36-hour trek into the desert without food or water and ultimately end up in a steaming hot sweat lodge, all in an effort to transform their lives.
(voice-over): It was in the sweat lodge where it all went wrong. Hot rocks doused with water, creating steam and temperatures well past 100 degrees. Courtroom testimony revealed that people were screaming, throwing up, crying and babbling. Others were passed out. Nineteen people end up in the hospital that day. Mother of three Liz Newman died at the hospital.
James Shore, a father of three pulled one person to safety, right James Ray. Shore went back in to get Kirby Brown. According to witnesses, they lay dying inside the tent feet away from Ray.
BROWN: What did James Ray do to my life? He blew up my life.
SIDNER: A jury convicted ray of negligent homicide. He served 20 months in prison. After his release, Ray told CNN this about the sweat lodge.
RAY: I didn't know, nor did anyone know that anyone was in -- in a death, a life or death situation.
SIDNER: He's now making another run at success as a motivational speaker, as documented in this CNN film "Enlighten Us".
RYAN: I was involved in a terrible accident and I lost three friends, people who I really cared about.
BROWN: His three good friends, that he left in the dirt, unconscious and did nothing to help them. Those are his three good friends?
SIDNER: After her daughter died at Sedona, Virginia Brown started a non-profit organization called "Seek Safely," an educational tool to protect those interested in self help. The $11 billion industry is not regulated.
BROWN: I want this story of her death to be that cautionary tale that will save other people's lives.
SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Sedona, Arizona.
BLITZER: Be sure to watch the film "Enlighten Us", tomorrow night 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here an CNN.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.