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State of the Union

Cuba's Fidel Castro Dead at 90; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Interview With Florida Senator Marco Rubio; Interview With Donald Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway; Donald Trump Not Looking To Prosecute Clinton; Nancy Pelosi's Leadership Vote. Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired November 27, 2016 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: After Castro. The world reacts to the death of the famed dictator, with many wondering, what's next for Cuba and America under a President Trump? Senator Marco Rubio will be here in minutes.

Plus, Cabinet campaign. Trump allies go public to stop him from picking Mitt Romney for secretary of state.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Romney does represent a very different viewpoint. I'm not sure whose secretary of state he will be.

BASH: Will the threat of a conservative backlash influence the president-elect, or will a dark horse become America's top diplomat? Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway will be here with the latest.

And Recount. Hillary Clinton's campaign joins the Green Party's challenge in Wisconsin.

JILL STEIN, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have an election system that relies on computerized electronic equipment, which is wide-open to hacks.

BASH: But with no evidence of voter tampering, is this just wishful thinking?

Senator Bernie Sanders is here on the Democrats' path forward.

Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights on what happens next.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper, where the state of our union is shifting.

Flags are flying at half-staff in Cuba as that country begins a nine- day mourning period for its former President and famed dictator Fidel Castro. Leaders of Russia, China and North Korea praised Castro's leadership, while human rights organizations noted his suppression of freedom and imprisonment of political enemies.

Here in the U.S., president-elect Donald Trump first tweeted after hearing the news, "Fidel Castro is dead," and later issued a longer statement, saying in part: "Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental rights." And he said, "Our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally their journey towards prosperity and liberty."

Trump also criticized Green Party leader Jill Stein filing for a recount in the Wisconsin election results. She's fund-raising as well to finance an effort in other stars where it's still legally possible.

Yesterday, the Clinton campaign said they would join the effort, despite finding no evidence of voter hacking. And last night, president-elect Trump tweeted, saying: "The Green Party's scam to fill up their coffers for asking impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated and demoralized Democrats."

Is he right?

Joining me to talk about all of this is former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and author of the new book, "Our Revolution."

Senator Sanders, thank you so much for joining me.

Let me start with Cuba.

In President Obama's statement on Fidel Castro's death, he said -- quote -- "We offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people."

Is it appropriate for the leader of the free world to offer condolences of a brutal dictator who killed his own people, as well as Americans?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I think what we have seen in the last number of years is an improved relationship between the United States and Cuba.

The United States of America has relations with China. We have had relation with brutal dictatorships all over the world. The goal right now is see that we can improve our relationship with the people of Cuba to do what we can to improve their economy and to make sure that the younger generation does better than their older generation.

BASH: So, you're OK with him offering condolences? If you were president, would you have said something similar?

SANDERS: Yes. Yes, I would have.

BASH: OK. Thank you.

Let's talk about politics here and what is going on in Wisconsin. Yesterday, the Clinton campaign joined an effort started by Green Party candidate Jill Stein for an official recount in Wisconsin.

Hillary Clinton's general counsel said that they were doing this without any actionable evidence of hacking the voting system. Do you support that recount as well?

SANDERS: It's taking place. The Green Party has the legal right to do it. We have recounts. Probably almost every election, there's a recount. No one expects there to be profound change. But there's nothing wrong with going through the process.

The issue right now, it seems to me, at this particular moment in American history is whether Donald Trump is going to keep faith with the promises that he made to the American people.

As you will remember, during the campaign, Dana, he talked about the fact that he would take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower drug prices in this country. And I'm a little bit nervous that I haven't heard too much about that since he's been elected.

He said that Medicare should be able to negotiate prices with the drug companies, that you're able to import cheaper medicine from Canada and other countries. I look forward to doing that.

He made a very big deal about saying he was the only Republican candidate in the primary to say that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

BASH: Senator...

SANDERS: Let's see if he keeps his word. And many of us are going to demand that he does keep the promises that he made.


BASH: I know you will.

But just to follow up on the recount, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway tweeted this. She said: "Look who can't accept the election results. Hillary Clinton supporters call for..."


SANDERS: This is exactly the issue. Nobody cares.

The Green Party has the legal right. Republicans have requested -- I think the governor of North Carolina right now is thinking about doing a recount. That's a legal right. They do it.

I don't think that Hillary Clinton, who got two million more votes than Mr. Trump in the popular election, thinks that it's going to transform the election. But do people have the legal right to do it? Yes, we do.

The real issue now, in my view, is to focus what we do to rebuild a disappearing middle class, deal with income and wealth inequality. Let's focus on the issues of importance to the American people. BASH: You mentioned that Hillary Clinton is now nearing a two-million vote lead in the popular vote.


BASH: But she obviously has shown a solid loss in the Electoral College.

Do you think the Electoral College system should be reexamined?

SANDERS: I do. I will tell you why.

I mean, on the surface, you just said it. We have one candidate who got two million more votes than the other candidate, but she's not going to be sworn in as president. And I think, on the surface, that's a little bit weird.

The second thing that bothers me is that, as everybody knows, that, during the campaign, we have states, California, New York, and many others that are traditionally Democratic. You got a whole lot of states that are traditionally Republican.

The needs and the people of those states are ignored during the political process. And then what ends up happening is campaigns basically are about 16, 17 states, battleground states, in this country.

And I think that's unfair to the other 30-plus states that also would like to be participating in the political process.

BASH: Senator, let's talk about rebuilding the Democratic Party.

You have endorsed Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison to be DNC chair.


BASH: "The New York Times" is reporting that the Obama White House is looking for a more moderate candidate. What do you make of that?

SANDERS: Well, I think Keith is the candidate that we need. And I will tell you why.

I mean, if you assess where the Democratic Party is -- and that is, the Republicans have won the White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, I think they control about two-thirds of the governors' chairs in this country -- in the last eight years, the Democrats have lost over 900 legislative seats around the country in state legislatures, I think it's time to take a reassessment of the purpose of where the Democratic Party is and where it wants to go.

And I think, essentially, what we need to do right now is to become a grassroots party, which is what Keith Ellison believes, open the doors to working people, open the doors to young people, less emphasis on raising large sums of money, more emphasis on bringing new blood into the political party. And I think that, if you look at the issues that we talk about,

whether or not we're going to give tax breaks to billionaires, as the Republicans want, whether we are going to expand Social Security, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, deal with climate change, those are issues that the vast majority of the American people support.

We should be winning their votes. Got to figure out why we're not right now.

BASH: And you have been talking about this around the country about how to move forward. I want to play something that you said in Boston last week. Take a listen.


SANDERS: It is not good enough for somebody to say: "I'm a woman. Vote for me."

What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.



BASH: Senator, was that a dig at Hillary Clinton?

SANDERS: No, it really wasn't.

What it was is to say that, in my view, we need more women in elected position. We need more African-Americans, more Latinos. We need a more diversified, diverse government.

But, at the same time, it is not good enough to say, oh, somebody is a Latino, somebody is a white, somebody is a black.

What do they stand for and the major issue, Dana, to my mind right now is the fact that we have a growth in the number of billionaires, that we're moving toward oligarchy, where a handful of very, very wealthy people control not only our economic life, but our political life.

How do we turn that around?

BASH: Senator...

SANDERS: So, we want more diversity, but we need to have people have the guts to stand up to big money interests.

BASH: Nancy Pelosi is facing a leadership battle this week within the House Caucus. She has at least some opposition, including from Congressman Tim Ryan.

Do you think it's time to replace Nancy Pelosi?

SANDERS: I will leave that to the -- I was in the House for 16 years.

BASH: Exactly.

SANDERS: I'm not in the House right now. I will leave that to the members of the House.

BASH: Do you think, though, that...

SANDERS: Nancy is a friend of mine. I think she's done a very good.

But I think that is an issue the people in the House will have to decide.

BASH: But you have been very outspoken about what the party -- you just were -- needs to do to move forward. Do you think that she's the right leader to rebuild the party that you envision?


SANDERS: Well, again, Dana, you are going to have fewer than 200 people who make that decision. Those are the Democrats in the House. And they will have that debate, and they will make that decision. Not for me to make.

BASH: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: And coming up: The death of Fidel Castro is being cheered by many Cuban Americans, but what should Donald Trump's Cuba policy be? We will ask one of the Cuban regime's most prominent critics, Senator Marco Rubio, next.


BASH: In Florida's Little Havana, Cuban Americans broke out in celebrations over the news of Fidel Castro's death.

Many Cuban immigrants and their descendants are rejoicing at the demise of a man who created a communist stronghold just 90 miles from the U.S.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to negotiate a new deal with Cuba, but it's unclear whether or not he will completely roll back President Obama's new open policies.


BASH: Joining me now to talk about this is Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants.

Senator, thanks for joining me.


BASH: First, I want to ask about president-elect Donald Trump.

He has called President Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba a weak agreement. But, in the past, he also expressed interest in opening a hotel in Cuba, saying it's OK to bring Cuba back into the fold.

What will you be demanding of the Trump administration vis-a-vis Cuba?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, the thing you outlined about Donald Trump happened a long time ago. He has since then said that that's not -- they never went forward with it and he has since changed this position.

You know, we're always -- you have to have for keep -- for many people, Cuba is an issue they're not dealing with every single day, unless you live down here in Miami.

And so we're always looking to change people's minds on it. And since that time, as a candidate for president, he made it very clear that he felt that the moves that President Obama had made toward Cuba were wrong and that he would examine them and -- and change the ones that needed to be changed. And I think that's very promising.


So, what I'll argue is, number one, our goal is the national security and national interests of the United States and, as part of that, to do everything possible through our foreign policy towards Cuba to incentivize and pave the way for demo -- the move toward democracy.

BASH: So...

RUBIO: And we should examine our policy toward Cuba through those -- those lenses. And if there's a policy that helps that, it remains in place. And if it's a policy that doesn't, it's removed. And that's what I would encourage them to do. And I look forward to working with them on that.

BASH: So, Senator, just to be clear, do you feel confident that a president-elect Trump, when in office, will roll back the openings that President Obama put in place?

RUBIO: Well, I'll take him at his word for it. That's what he said he was going to do.

And, number two, I'm a little more confident in him doing this than I would have been in Hillary Clinton doing it, which I'm sure she would not have.

So, again, we intend to play an active role in making suggestions and providing guidance about what we specifically think needs to happen. But, so far, he has said all the right things. I know they've had good people advising them on this issue, as well. So, I certainly have confidence that he's going to do the right thing when it comes to Cuba.

BASH: Senator, you called President Obama pathetic for offering condolences to Fidel Castro's family.

RUBIO: Absolutely.

BASH: But, you know, he wasn't the only world leader to do so. And even Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing sentiments of sorrow.

As a practicing Catholic, what's your reaction to that?

RUBIO: Well, as a practicing Catholic, I believe in the theological authority of the bishop of Rome. And that's what Pope Francis is.

On political matters, however, particularly on foreign policy issues, I don't necessarily believe that that binds those of us in the faith in terms of issues of foreign policy. I still respect it, but this is a very different thing.

Pope Francis is the leader of a religious organization, the Roman Catholic Church. Barack Obama is the president of the most powerful country in the world.

And what I called pathetic is not mentioning whatsoever in that statement the reality that there are thousands upon thousands of people who suffered brutally under the Castro regime. He executed people. He jailed people for 20 to 30 years. The Florida Straits, there are thousands of people who lost their lives fleeing his dictatorship.

And not to acknowledge any of that in the statement, I felt was pathetic, absolutely.

BASH: Senator, I want to talk about the election that just happened.

You endorsed Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. But it wasn't that long ago, you were running against Mr. Trump for the GOP nomination. And you called him unfit for the presidency.

Take a listen.


RUBIO: We're about to turn over the conservative movement to a person that has no ideas of any substance on the important issues, the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.


BASH: Senator, do -- do you still have those concerns about president-elect Trump?

RUBIO: Well, Dana, the bottom line, we had an election. And, ultimately, the voters chose him, both as our nominee and now as our president.

So, the election is over, and now it comes time to govern. And -- and we're going to give him every chance to be successful. And that's what I'm focused on now. At some point, elections end and the governing needs to begin.

But we'll have another election for Congress in two years and another election for president in four. But, right now, my hope is that this president is given the opportunity, this president-elect is given the opportunity to be successful.

And that's been a long tradition in this country. When the election ends, you don't root against the president-elect. You -- because you understand that, while you have significant policy disagreements with them, whether they're in your party or not, if they don't succeed, the country gets hurt.

So, I'm going to give him all the opportunity to be successful. He has earned this position. He was elected to this position. And -- and he deserves the opportunity to be successful.

BASH: Senator, I -- I completely get that elections are over, and now it is time for governing.

But given the fact that it is time for governing and your criticism was about his abilities to govern, you know, even as far as saying that he shouldn't have his -- have the nuclear codes because he's too erratic, what will you do as senator, as somebody who actually has the -- the responsibility of check and balance, to make sure that he is governing properly, given the concerns that you expressed?

RUBIO: The same -- the same as I would do with anybody else who's elected.

I mean, we have a role in the Senate, for example, in our Cabinet appointments and nominations, that we'll review each of those. And -- and we'll play our proper role under the Constitution.

We'll do the same with public policy. If I agree with him on a public policy, I'll work with him on it. If I disagree with him, I'll oppose it. And that's the job of the Senate, not to be a rubber stamp.

But that doesn't mean we open this broadcast here today by attacking the person or our differences. There's no doubt that, during the campaign, I wanted to be the president of the United States. The voters chose differently, both in the Republican primary and ultimately in the general election.

So, the campaign ends and now he is -- should be given the opportunity to be successful. And, again, if I agree with him on something, I'm going to be a supporter and will work hard to achieve it. And if I disagree with him on a policy matter, then I'll come on this show and others and I'll talk about why I believe that's the wrong way forward and -- and offer an alternative.

BASH: So, do you feel comfortable now with Donald Trump in charge of the nuclear arsenal?

RUBIO: I feel comfortable that the voters have chosen him to be the commander in chief. And we're going to give him every chance to be a successful one. [09:20:00]

And, ultimately, it will be incumbent upon him, as it would be upon any president who was elected, but a -- to prove their capability in that role.

And -- and he deserves that opportunity. He has earned it at the ballot box.

BASH: Senator, let's talk about the way that he is going to put his administration together. He is still mulling his choice for secretary of State.

Given how critical you were about his abilities on the world stage, who would you like to see in that role?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not going to do that, because that's his prerogative, to choose the person that he can work with.

And he was elected president, not me. And so he has the opportunity to pick someone that he believes will carry out his vision of American foreign policy. When that nomination is made, we will play our role in the Senate of examining that individual, understanding their -- both their background and qualifications and then making a determination upon whether or not we're going to support that nomination.

But it is not my role, nor would it be appropriate for me to sit here and come -- go out and throw out names. That's -- that's the role that he has earned and -- and -- and he deserves the opportunity to pick someone that he could work with, not just someone who's qualified, but someone that he can work with and feel comfortable working with.

BASH: Well, let me throw out a name, then, of somebody who has been publicly lobbying for the job, Rudy Giuliani.

You're a member of the -- of the Foreign Relations Committee. It would be your job to vote.

Would you vote -- would you vote to confirm Rudy Giuliani as secretary of State?

RUBIO: Well, I like -- I like Rudy Giuliani a lot. I know him -- I know him well. He's -- I consider him to be a friend and a supporter of mine.

And, obviously, you know, Rudy will have to go through that process. I'll have specific questions. He'll be treated in -- fairly. And it's important for me to know where he stands on a couple of key issues, if he is, in fact, the person who is nominated.

But I like him personally. I think he's certainly intelligent and capable and knowledgeable. He'll have to go through that process. And we'll make a determination once we've had a chance to sit with him, ask him specific questions and understand a little bit better about his view moving forward.

BASH: Senator Marco Rubio, thank you for your time this morning.

Appreciate it.

RUBIO: Thank you.

BASH: Happy Thanksgiving.

RUBIO: Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.


BASH: Coming up: friends, enemies or frenemies? Mitt Romney, one of Donald Trump's harshest critics, could be his next secretary of state, but will conservatives accept him? I will ask one of Trump's top advisers next.



BASH: Welcome back.

Donald Trump will host eight meetings tomorrow with businessmen, politicians and former Republican officials, as he works to fill top spots in his administration.

This week, he announced two Cabinet-level posts, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to serve as U.N. ambassador and school choice activist Betsy DeVos for education secretary.

But inside the highest echelons of the Trump transition, the fight has gone public to influence the president-elect's pick for secretary of state.

After a reported positive meeting with Mitt Romney, conservatives balked, going public with their protests.


GINGRICH: I can think of 20 other people who would be more naturally compatible with the Trump vision of foreign policy.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: He attacked him on a personal level about his character, integrity, his honor.


BASH: So, will any of this sway Donald Trump?

Joining me now is Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway.

Kellyanne, thanks for joining me.

I just want to start with what you just heard from Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee, both going public against Mitt Romney for secretary of state. You seemed to join in as well. You tweeted: "Receiving deluge of social media and private coms re: Romney. Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as secretary of state."

Do you think Mitt Romney could be a loyal secretary of state for Donald Trump?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I would hope so, because that's the first job of any secretary of state, Dana, is to support and work directly for and advise the president for whom you work.

I felt compelled to mention it because I -- it's just breathtaking in scope and intensity the type of messages I have received from all over the country. And I'm just me. I'm not Donald Trump.

And so, just as his former campaign manager, the number of people who feel betrayed to think that a Governor Romney would get the most prominent Cabinet post, after he went so far out of his way to hurt Donald Trump -- there was the never-Trump movement and then there was Mitt Romney.

He gave speeches against Donald Trump. He attacked his character. I never heard Governor Romney come out and say, hey, you know, I have a problem with X, Y and Z, but that 25 million job creation plan over the next 10 years is really something to look at. The fact that you will reduce the capital gains tax and the tax on employers and businesses, or you will unleash energy investment, or you have 10- point plan to reform the Veterans Administration, none of that was ever said.

And his -- the Romney consultants transparent were the worst to all of us, including Mr. Trump. Their Twitter feeds were complete 100 percent anti-Trump screed.

And, look, if president-elect Trump chooses Mitt Romney as his secretary of state, or whomever he chooses, that will have the full support and backing of all of us. I respect the brilliance and judgment and sheer instincts of president-elect Trump to form his Cabinet as he wishes.

But I felt compelled to come forward on behalf of the people who were weighing in.

BASH: Absolutely.

We know that you have been supportive of president-elect Trump and his decisions. But it really sounds like you personally -- it's not just that you have been receiving criticism and concerns about Mitt Romney, that you personally have concerns about a potential secretary of state Mitt Romney for Donald Trump.

CONWAY: Well, it's what I'm -- I'm not sure that my personal concerns matter.


BASH: But am I wrong to say that?

CONWAY: That decision rests with one man.

No, you're not wrong to say that, because Governor Romney went out of his way. I also just think that it's Donald Trump who has shown that he has political instincts. Governor Romney ran for the same office four years ago, and lost spectacularly.

It's Donald Trump who just won 306 electoral votes, won states like Michigan.


Mitt Romney lost Michigan by 10 points. Donald Trump just won it. Donald Trump won Wisconsin for the first time since 1984, won Pennsylvania, won Florida, won Iowa, won Ohio. All these states that were elusive to the last couple of nominees.

And the other thing is, Dana, I think there are other -- well, I know there are other candidates being considered apart from the ones that are just being covered more commonly in the media but apart from that Governor Romney in the last four years -- I mean, has he even been around the globe doing something on behalf of the United States of which we're unaware? Did he go and intervene in Syria where they are having a massive humanitarian crisis? Meaning when I say intervene like offered help. Has he been helpful to Mr. Netanyahu?

In other words what -- I'm all for party unity but I'm not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position. But again, let me repeat. What Donald Trump decides Kellyanne Conway and everybody else will respect. It's just the backlash from the grassroots.

I'm hearing from people say, hey, my aunt -- my parents died penniless but I gave $216 to Donald Trump's campaign and I would feel betrayed. You have people saying, I thought we got rid of this type.

He's -- I'm just saying that there were -- we don't even know if Mitt Romney voted for Donald Trump. He put (INAUDIBLE) in Utah. And so I think there are concerns that those of us who are loyal have and you want somebody -- you want a secretary of state who is loyal to the president and (INAUDIBLE) the president's vision of the world.

BASH: It's pretty clear how you feel about that. But I want to move on to Cuba given the fact that Fidel Castro died this weekend. President-elect Trump said in September that he will reverse President Obama's concessions to the Cuban regime but in March he told Wolf Blitzer that he would consider building a hotel in Havana. So what is his policy? Would he allow American businesses to operate in Cuba or would he stop that and close the U.S. embassy and ties, U.S. ties to Cuba?

CONWAY: He will consider all that, Dana, and as the president in short time he will make those decisions. I think for the moment what you heard from president-elect Trump is that we should not be romanticizing Fidel Castro who was a ruthless dictator who imprisoned and tortured and had murdered many Cubans.

I've met them. I'm sure you've met them, the families. And what president-elect Trump is also saying is that he just objects to the way that we re-engage diplomatic relations with Cuba in the last several years in this administration because we got nothing in return. And it's not as if we're doing business the Cuban people, we're still doing business -- those who are doing business with Cuba are doing business with the Cuban government not the Cuban people. And it is -- what president-elect Trump has is his priorities to make sure those political prisoners freed from Cuba and to make sure that Cubans start to enjoy after 60 years of oppression political economic and religious freedom.

BASH: Kellyanne, a report on "The Washington Post" says that president-elect Trump has only received two classified intelligence briefings since his election and he has turned down many daily opportunities for briefings.

Is this true? Has he turned down the opportunity to get classified intelligence briefings?

CONWAY: So he is receiving classified intelligence briefings and the president-elect is also receiving information through his personal and on the phone meetings with over what's now 41 world leaders. In addition to meeting with 60 men and women who could serve in his government but certainly without the promise of any formal position or certainly --


BASH: But, Kellyanne, has he turned down classified briefings?

CONWAY: I really -- I can't discuss that publicly. What I can tell you is that he is the most engaged individual I've ever met and brilliant to boot and he is certainly availing himself of the information as provided to him from a number of sources including those intelligence briefings.

BASH: We understand and we know just in recent history President Obama, President George W. Bush they all when they -- as soon as they could received daily intelligence briefings to immerse themselves on national security matters that they weren't aware of because they hadn't been commander-in-chief yet especially given the fact that president-elect Trump has no experience in government or the military, shouldn't he also be getting the everyday as it is allowed to be?

CONWAY: Dana, I assure you president-elect Trump and vice president- elect Pence are receiving a steady stream of information including intelligence that will further prepare them to be the number one and number two leaders of this country.

BASH: OK. Let's move on to something that you are well aware of as Donald Trump's campaign manager.

At pretty much every rally president-elect Trump was hearing from the crowds, lock her up. And he said on Tuesday to the "New York Times" that he is not looking to prosecute Hillary Clinton when he comes into office.


He said he won't rule it out but he really isn't looking to hurt the Clintons. Given the fact that the base was so energized by the prospect of going after Hillary Clinton legally, is this something that you agree with? Should he be moving on from this?

CONWAY: Well the full comment that he made was he's not focused on it and he said at the "New York Times" and elsewhere, I'm focused on health care and immigration. And then he went on the list all the issues that he's been talking about, trade, et cetera.

And so he said he wouldn't rule it out. He said it's just not his focus right now. I think he's being quite magnanimous and at the same time he's not undercutting at all the authority and the autonomy of the Department of Justice, of the FBI, of the House Committees, who knows where the evidence may lead if, in fact, it were -- if the investigation were re-opened somewhere.

But this is the president-elect's position right now and I would say he has been incredibly gracious and magnanimous to Secretary Clinton at a time when for whatever reason her folks are saying they will join in a recount to try to somehow undo the 70 plus electoral votes that he beat her by. I mean this -- you know, I was asked on CNN and elsewhere, goodness a thousand times, will Donald Trump accept the election results? And now you've got the Democrats and Jill Stein saying they do not accept the election results. She congratulated him and conceded to him on election night. I was right there. And the idea that we are going to drag this out now where the president-elect has been incredible y magnanimous to the Clintons and to the Obamas is incredible.

BASH: Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

CONWAY: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Coming up, who will head the Democratic Party after President Obama leaves office? The battle among Democrats to lead the Trump opposition next.




RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: A tradition in American politics that after you win an election you sort of put things behind you and if that's the decision he reached, that's perfectly consistent with sort of a historical pattern of things coming up, we say some things, even some bad things might happen and then you sort of put it behind you in order to unite the nation. So if you made that decision I would be supportive of it. I'll also be supportive of continuing the investigation. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So, don't lock her up? That was Rudy Giuliani expressing support after Donald Trump said he's not looking to prosecute Hillary Clinton when he gets to the White House. How will Trump's base react to a change to one of his most famous campaign promises?

With me now are CNN political commentator, Andre Bauer, Democratic representative, Debbie Dingell of Michigan, CNN political commentators, Bakari Sellers and Alice Stewart. Good morning...


BASH: ... and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Andre, what do you think? How is the base going to react to this?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think as adults and moving the country forward it's the best thing. It's kind of like this recount. It's just not where we want to go as a country. We're in a place where there's a lot of divisiveness and we need to heal as a country and moving forward the best thing for all of us is kind of like when Ford pardon Nixon, it just -- it is better for the country to move forward. She did break what we think could have been several laws but it doesn't help anything moving forward.

BASH: Alice, what's your take? I mean, we were all adults presumably during the campaign as well.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, clearly at a lot of those rallies you heard his supporters say lock her up, lock her up. But now as he is president-elect and we got short time for him to get into office there are much bigger priorities for him to focus on such as filling a huge cabinet, filling these positions, laying out his priorities for the first 100 days, and that's where he's going to focus. And I think the fact that he came right out of the gate and said he wants to move forward, look ahead and allow Hillary Clinton --


BASH: This is what everybody hates about politics that they say what they want to say during the campaign. And then once they get in office they say, never mind.

SELLERS: It was -- but it was -- it was nonsense then -- it was nonsense then. It's nonsense now. As president of the United States you do not have the authority to single-handedly launch investigations and lock up your political rivals.

I think it was absurd when he said it then. It's absurd for anyone to believe that he can do that now as president of the United States. We don't live in some dictatorship.

But even further briefly I think that you had two people who were leading these chants. Governor Chris Christie was leading the lock her up chant and found her guilty at the Republican National Convention and Michael Flynn did it day in and day out on the campaign trail. We now know that Michael Flynn was actually running illegal internet connections when he was a high ranking intelligence officer. So I say lock them up.

BASH: Let's ask you, congresswoman, because you're going to have to be deal with him in the Congress. Does this actually give you some hope that maybe there is room to work together and move on?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: Look I'm always somebody that wants to work with everybody because I think the American people needs us to work together and that's the first thing we have to do.

I thought it was campaign rhetoric at the time. We had the FBI director not once but twice say that there's nothing there, a prosecutor wouldn't have a case. We do -- it angered me during the campaign but we do need to move on. And we'll have to see what kind of president he's going to be.

BASH: OK. So apparently Twitter works at Mar-a-Lago because the president-elect is there this holiday weekend tweeting up a storm this morning as we speak and we just show one of his tweets. This is about the recount in Wisconsin.

"Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change."

Congresswoman, does he have a point? I mean, isn't this exactly what Democrats were warning Donald Trump not to do?


DINGELL: ... several (ph) things (ph).


First of all, George Bush conceded back in 2000 and we saw the direction that the election changed. We have a free country. People are able to do what they're going to do. I don't think in the end that anything is going to change from where we are.

The fact that Michigan has paper ballots. But it is the recount process is part of who we are as a democracy. If it gives people more confidence that what happened happened, then we need to let it move forward. And it was not the Clinton campaign that moved this forward it was the green party that --


BASH: But the Clinton campaign is now on board.

DINGELL: How could they not be on board once the recount is going to happen to make sure that it is going to happen. I think we're going to follow an orderly process. I don't think it's going to change anything and most people are --


BASH: Call me a cynic, Andre, but could this twitter storm this morning and the president-elect really latching on to this be a way to keep the Republican base energize at a time where, you know, he's saying I'm not going to lock up Hillary Clinton and oh, by the way I might put Mitt Romney in as my secretary of state?

BAUER: Well, I think he's passionate on the fact he was chastised for saying, hey, I may question it if I think there are irregularities in the process. And now the very people that chastised him and said, no, we're going to accept the election aren't accepting it. So, it shows hypocrisy at the highest level. And I think he's aggravated by it which he has every right to be.

BASH: Alice, do you want to jump in?

STEWART: And I think clearly if the Clinton campaign listened to Congressman Dingell from the very beginning she would have spent more time in Michigan and we'd probably be in a different situation today because she saw there was problems there a long time ago.

BASH: I was going to give you a shout out but it's better coming from a Republican.


BASH: She did say that.

STEWART: The reality is -- look the votes are in. The voters have spoken. Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes. That is the key here. It doesn't matter what's happening in these three states. He won nine of 13 battleground states, 30 of 50 states. He is the clear winner in this case. And if there were any problems in these three states I guarantee you the secretary of states would be the first one to --


BASH: Bakari, I want to turn to the future of your party, the Democratic Party, and something that's happening this week. Nancy Pelosi is going to face a rather tough battle to continue to be the head of the House Democrats. Do you think she's the right person at this time?

SELLERS: I think right now she is. I think that Nancy Pelosi is -- and we were having this conversation in the back is the most prolific Democratic fundraiser that we have.

BASH: So is it about fund raising?

SELLERS: After -- well, I mean, -- that part -- that's part of --

BASH: Being in touch with the --


SELLERS: That's part of the machine. And we have to do -- we have to begin to get in touch with the voters that we've lost.

And Democrats right now we -- instead of focusing on a recount in three states we need to be focusing on Foster Campbell who's running a United States Senate race down in Louisiana right now. Another Senate race that we can pick up.

But Democrats -- I think that what we're doing is we're over correcting. We're saying, oh, my God. We need go out and win white working class voters. And then people are saying, oh, my God. We need to become more progressive. And then people are saying, oh, my God. We need to get (INAUDIBLE) reasons for persons of color to come out and vote for us. Instead of doing all three we have to become a party who does not get static and are thinking of binary but we do all three --


BASH: And let me ask somebody who actually get to vote.

I do want to say that you were kind of the canary in the coal mine. You were saying before the Democratic primary, you were warning the Hillary Clinton people she could lose and then you warned that she could lose in the general election in your home state of Michigan. Given the fact that you see to get the working class voters, do you think that Nancy Pelosi is a person who gets them too?

DINGELL: I'm strongly supporting her because what Mr. Sellers (ph) is absolutely right. We are disparate party. We are party of many people. I care deeply about the Midwest right now because I have seen us lose some of those voters. But I have a very complicated district, the largest population of Muslims and a large group of liberals too. We can do all three. And we have to do all three.

You can't just represent one. Nancy Pelosi as President Obama said this week has done a good job of bringing a disparate group of people together.

BASH: Thank you all very much. Appreciate your time. Great discussion.

And after the break the secret service takes Fifth Avenue leaving some shouting bah humbug during the holiday shopping season. The new realities of the White House north, next.



BASH: It is being called White House north. New York's Trump Tower home to the president-elect, transition offices and now the secret service. A law enforcement official tells CNN the secret service is considering renting a floor in the Tower as Trump prepares to take office which means New Yorkers are preparing for a new reality.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BASH (voice-over): The holiday shopping season kicking into high- gear. Yet the shopping Mecca of Fifth Avenue in New York City is now a security zone to protect its famous resident president-elect Donald Trump and his family.

And it is presenting unprecedented challenges and costs. According to New York officials the city is spending more than $1 million a day to secure Trump's residence on the famous avenue. Nearly 100 NYPD officers are assigned to secure the outside of Trump Tower and patrol the area.

The busy intersection near it is restricted by metal barricades, portable road blocks and concrete barriers.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: In the modern world with the security dynamics we face today we have never had a situation where a president of the United States would be here on such a regular basis.

BASH: The steep cost won't necessarily drop once Trump moves into the White House since his wife Melania and their 10-year-old son Barron plan to stay at their Trump Tower home until the end of the school year.

JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: We have been planning this with an eye towards how we keep New Yorkers safe and to minimize disruptions to all other New Yorkers -- tourist, public transportation, and those who need to make commercial deliveries in the area surrounding Fifth Avenue.

BASH: For businesses nearby and inside Trump Tower, a ripple effect.


Tiffany's cancelled their holiday window unveiling. Customers have to go through security to enter stores. And foot traffic has dropped.

Local businesses have reported losses in sales since the election.

DEREK WALSH, BUSINESS OWNER ON 56TH STREET: Nobody can run a business if you have no pedestrians.

BASH: Not to mention car gridlocks for blocks and blocks all around this nerve center of New York thanks to heightened security. But with the Trumps planning to keep their New York residence part time while in the White House, many in the big apple are taking it in stride and work around the new First Family.

CARLOS ROMAN, RESTAURANT MANAGER ON 56TH STREET: As long as we know for sure what's going to happen, we have to adjust.


BASH: Thanks for watching.