Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Awaiting Donald Trump at Rally in Michigan; Giuliani, Christie Out of Running For Trump Admin Jobs; Schwarzenegger Defense Trump Keeping Apprentice Role; Official: Trump Taking Only About One Intel Briefing a Week; Gen. Flynn: Arabic Signs on Border Guide Radical Into U.S. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 9, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news. Donald Trump about to speak live in Michigan as we learn new details about why Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie will not be serving with Donald Trump.
And Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new host of "Celebrity Apprentice," what does he think of Trump staying as executive producer?
Plus, Trump asking for intelligence briefings on one specific country with great alarm. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. Donald Trump is about to speak live in Michigan. This is part of his victory tour of swing states that were key to his electoral victory. You're looking at live pictures from Grand Rapids in Michigan. Thousands right now turning out for Trump's latest campaign-style rally, as he's been going across the country. Earlier today he addressed a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to bring back our manufacturing jobs. Reduce taxes big list (ph). We're going to confirm our nominee to the United States Supreme Court. The people that were forgotten people. You know what I'm talking about. They were forgotten. Folks, you're not forgotten anymore. Believe me. Nobody is forgotten.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This as we are learning that two of Trump's most high profile and loyal supporter Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani are no longer in the running for jobs in Trump's administration. Christies was the first mainstream Republican to back Trump. He led his transition team in the months before the election. And Giuliani of course defended Trump tirelessly and when no one else would and has been on the list for both secretary of state and Homeland security. Tonight though we're told neither man is getting a job.
And we begin our coverage with Jason Carroll OUTFRONT at that Trump rally in Grand Rapids. Jason, let's start with Giuliani, he was the top contender for secretary of state.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At one point he seemed to be. I mean, you heard Donald Trump there in Louisiana talking about forgotten people. I think that a number of Rudy Giuliani supporters are going feel as though he was one of those people who was been forgotten. At one point he seemed to be in the run for secretary of state. There seems to be some questions as to why he is no longer and not in the running for that anymore.
Could it have been his ties, his business ties to the Middle East with countries such as Qatar and Iran. Could it be for other reasons simply because the other two candidates who seem to now be in the running are stronger candidates. Mitt Romney being one of them. Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon being the other person said to be in the front running for the position but what really seems to come down to is this meeting that Giuliani had with the Trump transition team saying that look at this point that he was going to basically take his name out of the running Erin for these positions.
But I think that many people see this as a way of sort of stating base, seems like a lot of chairs -- the game of musical chairs where you've got a number of chairs that are being sat down there and the chairs just didn't seem to be lined up for Rudy Giuliani. Not for this particular position. Though when you hear from a number of people who are in this room, who support Rudy Giuliani, have supported him throughout this sort of campaign. I think a lot of them are going to be wondering where is the payback for folks like Rudy Giuliani or even a Chris Christie.
BURNETT: And what about Chris Christie? I mean, also trying to say, you know, it's me, not him. Right? You know, to save face. But you know, Chris Christie very loyal and very early before anybody else did. And that was very important moment for Donald Trump when Chris Christie stepped up and said, I support you.
CARROLL: One of the earliest supports out there for Donald Trump. But again just things not lining up for him. It could be for a number of reasons for Chris Christie. As you know in terms of his approval ratings in the state of New Jersey. One of the lowest for any governor. He still has the whole Bridgegate controversy hanging over his head. So, there could be any number of reasons. The thought was, at one point he might be one of those to take over for Reince Priebus as head of the RNC. But you know, now they were hearing that another Romney might be in the running for that position.
Of course, this time it's a different Romney. Ronna Romney McDaniel, his niece who is the state chair here in Michigan and wildly seen as being one of those people credited for helping Trump pull out a win here in the state. Something that hasn't been done for a Republican since 1988.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Jason Carroll. And of course we are awaiting Donald Trump there in Grand Rapids any moment where Jason is standing.
OUTFRONT now, Basil Smikle, New York State Democratic Party executive director. Alice Stewart, Republican strategist. The former communications director for Ted Cruz. Patrick Healy, New York Times political correspondent. And Major General Spider Marks, former commanding general of the United States Army Intelligence Center. Thank you all.
Patrick, let me start with you. Giuliani and Christie, both officially out of contention. I mean, this was something, in a sense you could have seen coming. But it is surprising in that Trump so deeply values loyalty and these two men were loyal.
PATRICK HEALY, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They were loyal. And Erin, it was only two months ago, look, that Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, they were some of the few that were willing to kind of stand by Donald Trump and go on television and defend him during the allegations from women, about inappropriate conduct. Around all the questions around Donald Trump's temperament. They were his campaign surrogates. But now he's governing. Now he's going to Washington.
He's got to get people confirmed from the U.S. Senate. He doesn't want to create fights as much as possible with the Senate. Giuliani and especially Chris Christie would be hard. But there are also concerns, you know, Giuliani is 72 years old. The secretary of state job as Hillary Clinton showed as others requires incredible energy and stamina. It also shows --
[19:05:43] BURNETT: To use a word Donald Trump likes to use.
HEALY: To use a word Donald Trump likes. But also Donald Trump is conveyed it seems like with the businessmen and generals who is tapping, especially he seems like he wants to make the secretary of state job as much as part of the deal-making weighing of this operation as a diplomacy.
BURNETT: Right. Not just calming down and being statesman like but getting things done.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the questions that you brought up, and something Jason has said about this business ties and going through the confirmation process. One thing that's really important in the announcement of this is that he was no longer going to be seeking secretary of state. Reince Priebus made it quite clear in the announcement from the transition team that they did do a vetting of Giuliani and he passed with flying colors. So, that's important to know -- and it was last week when Giuliani himself took himself out of consideration. Because there is a lot he can do for Donald Trump and his presidency from the outside and that is the way he wants to help moving forward.
BURNETT: Can this all be kind of spun this way so positively, Basil. Because there is truth. I remember the week on that tape came out on Friday. That's Sunday actually, Chris Christie was going to appear to some of those Sunday shows, he didn't. That maybe a strike against him. Rudy Giuliani took a spot. Rudy Giuliani went out and said, who doesn't have a skeleton like this in their closet? Rudy Giuliani stood by Donald Trump when nobody else wood. BASIL SMIKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: He
did. But a lot of people didn't believe he was the right person for that job.
SMIKLE: In fact, they just had the odds of 22 to three that he would not. Of him getting 22 to three. Listen, I lived in New York City under Rudy Giuliani as mayor. I never saw him demurring himself. Enough to be sort of subordinate to Donald Trump in this regard. Maybe as Attorney General, not as Secretary of State. And I think his business dealings did factor heavily in this. Because he is encumbered across the globe in terms of his business and I don't know if he wanted to sort of extricate himself from that just yet.
BURNETT: So General Marks, Giuliani did not go quietly though. He took a swipe at a rival for the Secretary of State position on his way out of contention. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: My advice would be Mitt went just a little too far. I would not see him as a candidate for the cabinet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Referring of course to things Mitt Romney said about Donald Trump which were terrible, Donald Trump of course responded in kind. Kellyanne Conway has slammed Mitt Romney though, General. Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich have slammed him. But we know Mitt Romney has been back and forth between New York and Utah meeting with Donald Trump. Does he still have a chance?
MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I think he does. You never want to depart any type of a potential marriage by slamming the door. You always want to lead with a big smile on your face and say look, I'm available when you need me. My view is and we've talked about this, as you know the narrative now is, President- Elect Trump is surrounding himself with military guys. A bunch of generals are out there. Potential admirals are out there.
So, we have a former mayor and a civilian who now departs the list. We now have an admiral that is added to the list. James Stavridis who is the president of the Fletcher School at Tufts as a legitimate candidate. They're not dropping off. So, you still see that the talent full exists there. And I think that narrative of the President potentially surrounds itself with too many military guys really is something that we need to embrace. We need to realize the talent exists there. And if the President goes to that vertical of talent that exists within American society, we should be grateful. It is out there. It is available to us.
BURNETT: And of course he could go, as someone like General Petraeus, Patrick. But he also could go with Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobile. HEALY: Right.
BURNETT: Who would sort of be in the Trump world, perfect, right?
BURNETT: CEO, military sort of mindset. Knows everybody around the world. Knows how to get deals done. But in a way that favors himself as opposed to a secretary of state that just sort of glad hands.
HEALY: Exactly. He knows geopolitics but he also knows business. And Donald Trump wants that. He wants the money. He wants the secretary of state who can go to China and handle the diplomacy and talk about human rights. But can also really talk about business, talk about trade, talk about tax, currency manipulation. And that is a real goal here. The thing is two -- I think Donald Trump -- there is a reason that he's taking all of his time with this particular job, secretary of state. What his advisors have told me is that he spent so much of this year without an establishment under him. He was running against an establishment.
HEALY: And part of what he's trying to do in transition is to show that sort of the Mitt Romneys of the world, the Rudy Giulianis of the world, all of these generals, they want to be sort of part of his team.
HEALY: But that sort of conveys --
[19:10:10] BURNETT: But he could be a team operator and not just a me guy.
HEALY: Right. And a unifying figure to the degree that that is possible.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all staying here because next Trump's pick for National Security advisor says, he's seen Arabic signs directing terrorists on how to get over the Southern Border. Where are the signs? My guest is a border patrol agent who's walked the line.
Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger taking the reins at "Celebrity Apprentice." And coming up, what he thinks about his new boss the President-Elect?
And Trump's controversial choice for Labor Secretary, a fast-food king who approved this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW PUZDER, CEO, CKE RESTAURANT: I don't think there is anything wrong with a beautiful women in a bikini eating a burger and washing a Bentley or a pickup truck. (END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:14:42] BURNETT: Donald Trump breaking news, about to take the stage in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can see him being introduced as they're getting ready for him. He's expected to be there tonight with Mitt Romney's niece. Sources tell CNN she is Trump's choice to lead the Republican National Committee. That is a crucial post and once Trump makes that choice, given that he's the President-Elect, she's basically got the job.
Also there tonight, Betsy DeVos, the billionaire that Trump picked to run the Education Department, which brings us to tonight's big number, ten. Trump has selected ten millionaires and billionaires as part of his administration so far. Among them, Labor Secretary Andrew Puzder, the CEO of the company that owns the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, he is controversial.
Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's pick for labor secretary not without a side of controversy. Andy Puzder is the CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. The company responsible for racy ads like these.
PUZDER: I don't think there is anything wrong with a beautiful woman in a bikini, eating a burger and washing a Bentley or pick-up truck or being in a hot tub. I think there's probably nothing more American.
JOHNS: And while Puzder does have experience running a company like Trump, he has no prior experience in government.
PUZDER: I think it would be the most fun you could have with your clothes on to be in this cabinet and get things going.
JOHNS: Puzder holds some views that conflict with the department's current mission. On the minimum wage.
PUZDER: I've been opposed to minimum wage increases that kill jobs. And a lot of these state increases are to that level where they would kill jobs. I think that's bad for American workers.
JOHNS: Puzder argued that businesses may turn to automation to cut labor costs saying, machines are, quote, "always polite and never take a vacation." Trump allies are praising the pick today.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: Nobody can deny this man is in touch with how to create jobs. The importance of labor management roles and responsibilities. I think he's a great choice.
JOHNS: But the labor community is voicing concerns. ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: He's filled his
administration with nominees who are millionaire, multi-millionaires and billionaires and appointed the most anti-worker secretary of labor in modern history.
JOHNS: One key to Donald Trump's win was the appeal to blue collar workers, with promises to keep jobs in America.
TRUMP: My administration will follow two simple rules. Buy American, and hire American.
JOHNS: Puzder riding last year, businesses create jobs, labor unions do not. To the contrary labor unions often discourage businesses from creating jobs particularly entry level wins by increasing the cost of labor without increasing its value. This after Trump's recent Twitter take down of Carrier union boss Chuck Jones who said that Trump exaggerated the number of jobs he saved.
CHUCK JONES, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL 1999: He didn't tell the truth. He inflated the numbers and I called him out on it.
JOHNS: Prompting organized labor leaders to come to Jones' defense, including the head of the United Steelworkers on OUTFRONT.
LEO GERARD, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS INTERNATIONAL: I really thought that that wasn't a role for President-Elect Trump to go after Chuck Jones.
JOHNS: One interesting footnote to the President-Elect's toured organized labor so far, Trump narrowed the gap with union households in the 2016 election. He only lost those voters by nine points to Hillary Clinton. While Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney among union households by 18 points in 2012 -- Erin.
BURNETT: We're still really closing that gap. Thank you, Joe.
And OUTFRONT now, Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of the Job Creators Network. And Symone Sanders, the former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders. So, Simone, let me start with you.
You heard him. Machines are always polite. They never take a vacation. He is against waste in the minimum wage. A study by the CBO under President Obama has numbers that support him Simone. It concluded half a million people would lose their jobs if the minimum wage rose to $10.10 cents. That's three quarters of million jobs if it goes to the $15 an hour. The Bernie Sanders wanted many unions want. Those numbers seem to support Puzder's point of view.
SYMONE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think we've seen success in places like New York where they have raised the minimum wage. Agreed. Especially with Senator Sanders talking about raising the minimum wage. It is not something that happens overnight. It is something that has to happen over time that allows, you know, the economy and businesses in that way to adjust. So, I really do believe that we have to look at raising the minimum wage. But in terms of just Puzder himself, fine, you don't want to raise the minimum wage, we can have a debate about that.
But there is no debate and that Puzder is not a friend of the American worker. He's an enemy of the American worker. He's somebody that doesn't even believe in our American labor force. He wants machines. So how can he effectively lead as the secretary of labor? I just don't know.
[19:19:18] BURNETT: Alfredo, you heard Symone. Enemy of the American worker and she's right. He did say machines are always polite and never take a vacation.
ALFREDO ORTIZ, PRESIDENT AND CEO, JOB CREATORS NETWORK: Erin, well, thank you first of all for having me this evening. He's absolutely not an enemy of the American worker. He's actually pro the American worker. And if you look at the unenviable task for example that he had when he took over the Hardee's, Carl's, Jr. business, that was a business that was facing basically bankruptcy was almost out of business. He turned that around. He applied some great skills that he has. Business sense skills.
And he turned that around and today that, you know, Hardee's and Carl's, Jr. has 75,000 people working for across 3200 different franchises. So, he is very pro-American and in terms of the automation fees, all he basically stated there is that automation is a reality of this country. If you see automation continues to move forward across every single industry and when we think about overall the small business owner, which really is what comprises the franchise businesses across this country, right? That small business owner which is really the heartbeat of America employs two-thirds of new job growth is in their hands. Right? We need to make sure that we have policies that help our small business owners and that doesn't break the backs of our small business owners which unfortunately is what these --
SANDERS: But what about the workers? Erin, what about the workers? What he just described was that, the potential, the next potential secretary of labor is good for business. Great. But what about the American people? What about the 1.3 million people that are working at a minimum wage?
ORTIZ: So Symone, what you're forgetting about -- Symone what you're forgetting about is the small business owner for example in this country, there are about 30 million small business owners employing 56 million employees. Right? So, that's 85 -- over 85 million people --
BURNETT: But Alfredo, what is he doing for that?
SANDERS: What is he doing for the people?
BURNETT: I mean, you are giving statistics but what is he doing to increase that number?
ORTIZ: Right. Well, if you are thinking about what he's doing, he's saved first of all the 75,000 jobs and now currently exists with Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. And what this is trying to do is make sure that we have plans in place that actually are pro-growth plans being able to reduce the illness of regulation and taxation in particular is extremely, extremely important.
SANDERS: This all sounds very pro-business and I have heard nothing that specifically speaks --
ORTIZ: It's pro-small business, Symone. It's pro-small business. There were two thirds of new job growth is in the hands --
BURNETT: Go ahead, Symone.
SANDERS: My grandparents owned the first African-American beauty supply in the state of Nebraska. So, I think I know a little bit about small business. What we're talking about though and frankly what a lot of some supporters voted for was to make America great again for the American worker supposedly. What is the secretary of labor, the potential again, Puzder, what is his record? The only record he has to stand on that that he's an enemy with the American workers. He's wanted to take their jobs and replace them with machines. He doesn't support raising the minimum wage although that is the overwhelmingly popular proposal for unions and hardworking American people across this country. He has disparaged women, he's used sex to sell burgers and that may work if you're a CEO --
BURNETT: So let me ask you -- so Symone I just wanted to interrupt you there because Alfredo, I want to get your response to this.
BURNETT: Because she raises the issue about women. He has defended his use of these ads of the women everyone has seen on this. I'll show everyone, this is, you know, what we saw obviously for the Super Bowl. He said there is nothing more American than scantily clad women selling burgers on cars? Does this give you any pause at all or no?
ORTIZ: Erin, so let me kind of address Symone's points first and then I'll answer your question. Because when you look actually at the minimum wage, there are about 550,000 employees out there that make the minimum wage that are 25 and over out of a pool about 77 million hourly workers right. That is definitely an issue that we need to address and then we think we can address that. And Andy believes he can address that through a lot of the skills training. So he's not opposed to actually raising the minimum wage just to the point where he's not --
SANDERS: I think he is --
ORTIZ: Symone, I think I'll let you finish. Let me finish, thank you. What he is opposed to is the fact that he's going to -- you raise the wages up to a point and Erin you mentioned that at 10.10 and now the CBO itself said that it would be about 500,000 jobs lost and about 750,000 lost if you raise it up to 15 which is what recommended. So, that is truly jobs killer and that's Obama's CBO office itself is giving those numbers.
BURNETT: All right.
ORTIZ: So coming back to that, we've got to make sure that we raise the minimum wage to a level that makes sense.
ORTIZ: And he's not against automation.
BURNETT: We didn't get a chance to talk about the ad. I will say though just because I want to make sure as I think both of you that we do say that same study did say nearly 900,000 people would be raised out of poverty if the minimum wage went to 10.10. So you lose jobs but people come out of poverty. That's the choice that we all have to make.
Thank you. Thank you both.
ORTIZ: Well, and again, Erin --
BURNETT: I got to leave it there. I got to leave it there, Alfredo but thank you.
Next, Trump's choice for national security advisor, General Michael Flynn claims there are signs in Arabic on our Southern border directing potential terrorists on how to come over. Is he right? I'll ask the border patrol agent.
And the controversy over Trump staying with "Celebrity Apprentice." It is not the first time the show and the presidency have come together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Everybody is saying I should run for president. Let me ask you a question. Meatloaf, should I run for president?
MEATLOAF, MUSICIAN: Absolutely.
TRUMP: Now you would definitely vote for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:28:02] BURNETT: Breaking news, the new host of "Celebrity Apprentice" coming to Donald Trump's defense. Well, I mean, it's going to be his boss, it turns out. Arnold Schwarzenegger says, the President-Elect shouldn't have to give up his executive producer credit on the series. Schwarzenegger says, quote, "It is no different than when I was running for governor and when I was governor, my credit for Terminator stayed the same."
Others say it's a big problem. Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump on "The Celebrity Apprentice."
TRUMP: Let me ask you a question, Meatloaf, should I run for president?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He did. And now America's future commander-in-chief plans on doing double duty.
TRUMP: You're fired.
SIDNER: His team reaffirming to CNN, Trump's desire to be both an executive producer of TV show "The Celebrity Apprentice" and the President of the United States.
TRUMP: Eric, am I right or am I wrong?
ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: See? Good son.
SIDNER: When asked about the time demands of a second job, Trump's senior advisor likened it to President Obama playing golf.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: Okay. But were we so concerned about the hours and hours spent on the golf course by the current president? I mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time. I mean, nobody objects to that.
SIDNER: Hollywood reporter, senior writer Michael O'Connell says, Trump was intimately involved when the show was created and he was hosting it. But in the upcoming season, "Celebrity Apprentice" has a new host.
TRUMP: They just announced today that Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be doing "The Apprentice" because I'm not allowed to do it because I'm doing this. So, I wish Arnold well.
SIDNER (on camera): How involved is Donald Trump when it comes to the inner workings of "The Apprentice"?
MICHAEL O'CONNELL, SENIOR WRITER, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: His day to day involvement in the new season can't be much because the show wrapped filming almost ten months ago. So there really aren't any decisions to be made at this point. The show is in the can.
SIDNER (voice-over): Trump isn't the first entertainer to take office. His replacement, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a huge star in the Box Office before becoming California governor. Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor before becoming president. But they both stopped their action careers when they took office. It's apparent Trump may take another path.
O'CONNELL: It seems wildly unlikely that he would have any role in the creative because he's not going to be on set. He's not going to be in production meetings. This is all, it's just an untenable situation. But he is going to be making money off of it.
SIDNER: Making money off of the currencies as executive producer probably kind of a name on the credit and that's it. What will get interesting is if it is picked up for another season, because at that point, not only be NBC be paying him through the production company, through licensing, they bought it from MGM. But he may be a little bit more involved, and at that point, he'll be in the middle of his presidency -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, Basil Smikle, New York state Democratic Party executive director, Alice Stewart, former communications director for Ted Cruz's campaign and Republican strategist, and Cynthia Littleton, managing editor for "Variety", who first broke the story that Trump was going to stay on as executive producer here.
And, Cynthia, the big issue is payment. Dylan Byers is now saying it could be product integration deals that he'd gotten money that way before and he could still be getting a cut of the money which, of course, opens up lots of the conflicts of interests.
CYNTHIA LITTLETON, VARIETY: Right.
BURNETT: What are you learning about this crucial question of payment?
LITTLETON: The question of payment is the really the key here. It is -- you know, in the scheme of Trump's wealth it is a small amount of money. But it is kind of the optics here. And it's really stirred an incredible level of debate about the propriety of the situation.
BURNETT: And this is the whole situation. Trump when he called Mexican immigrants rapists, NBC said we're going to end our business relationship with him. And yet, now, "The Apprentice" is going to air on NBC with Donald Trump as the executive producer. His name emblazoned every time you watch the show.
LITTLETON: He -- I mean, NBC does have a little bit of cover here in that the show. NBC does not own the show. They are the network that carries the show. But they don't own it. It is produced by MGM, a major Hollywood studio. And it's MGM that will be writing the checks to Donald Trump.
BURNETT: So, OK. They can try that. Optics here if people care about them.
But, Alice, Kellyanne Conway made a comparison. She said that Trump staying on as executive producer as "Celebrity Apprentice" is something he would do in his free time. She compared it to President Obama playing golf.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I completely agree. I don't see the questions about a conflict of interest here, specifically we just heard in that Sara's piece that season is already in the can. So, it's not as though he has an editorial decision making ability in the season anyway, and this is something that he will just -- have his name on and certainly, as we've said, make money. But this is -- I agree, it's equivalent to President Obama wants to spend his time, he plays golf and Donald Trump --
BURNETT: If it were really just a credit, he's not spending any time on it. But when the next season rolls around, he's spending time on it. He's deciding who gets cast, who gets picked, what the products are.
STEWART: That is part of his. He likes that. That is his pastime. That is what he wants to do in his spare time. He's made it quite clear his number one priority is the people's business. And he's going to make sure that is his top priority.
BASIL SMIKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I've not known or really think of presidents as having spare time. Voters say it is their time. But to take time to go work on a talk show, I don't think the American people have been wrestling with that for a long time. And I don't know how settled they will be with that, especially when this is the same individual that will make a decision on who becomes attorney general. And with respect to anti-trust matters, there is a direct line of accountability. FCC appointments, Donald Trump will make those, again another line of accountability there.
So, look, I think we can wait and see. But one point I want to make is it seems like a lot of his business deals obscure a lot of the clarity around how he makes money. Tax returns would have helped us make that decision but we didn't see those.
BURNETT: As a point of disclosure, I did for "Celebrity Apprentice" appear a few years ago, and I can tell you that Donald Trump takes it extremely seriously. He does love doing this. And, in fact, during his campaign, Alice, he brought it up. He brought up how he would do on the show and how his replacement would do. Here he is at a rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: How will Arnold do, by the way? Does anybody know? Who would be better, Arnold or Trump? Ready, Arnold? Trump?
Well, we're going to find out if Arnold is quick, because if he's not quick he's not going look good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Just when Arnold thought he was in charge, Donald says I'll be back.
BURNETT: But I guess the point is here that he does take it personally. He doesn't want the show to suddenly look bad because Trump considers "The Apprentice" to be a part of him.
STEWART: Absolutely. That is his trademark and he did a lot and worked a lot to make it what it is today and, of course, he wants it to succeed. And I think, as we said, this is something he enjoys doing, something that's been a hobby of his. A very lucrative hobby of his for many years, and I think he wants it to see.
SMIKLE: When he tweets about the show, do the ratings go up?
[19:35:01] Does he get more money as a result of that? Because we know he likes to tweet.
BURNETT: What if he tweets watch tonight's "Apprentice", I know it's going to be really good?
BURNETT: And you have a link check on a product promotion and his money goes up. What happens then?
STEWART: Well, I still don't see a conflict of interest. I don't see how that affect or impact his role as president of the United States. If anything, this is great news for "The Apprentice". It's great news for the show. Certainly, the ratings would go up.
But it has no bearing whatsoever on his ability to do his job as president.
BURNETT: Could he ever appear on the show? As an executive producer, it could be a credit, it could be working on the show, it could be casting. It could be anything.
LITTLETON: I think that would be very interesting. I think that having him appear given all of the uproar over just having his name flash on the credits for, you know, milliseconds, I think that it would be very hard for him even as the president of the United States to convince MGM and NBC, given the sensitivity, for him to appear on it.
I think one thing important to remember is Trump has said he's set a news conference for December 15th where he's going to explain how he's going to handle his business dealing. So he may have a solution to this. I think we owe him the benefit of that doubt.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all.
And next, standing by for Donald Trump to take the stage at the rally in Michigan tonight. Plus, Trump focusing on one major imminent threat to America. Why is he so alarmed?
Plus, Trump constantly ranting against China. But what do the people there really think about him.
[19:40:23] BURNETT: Tonight, President Obama ordering a full review into Russia's attempts to hack the U.S. election. As U.S. officials tell CNN that Trump is getting an average of one presidential intelligence briefing a week, his predecessor got one a day.
Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It was unprecedented cyber attack ordered by senior Russian leadership on the U.S. election, hacking the emails of Democratic officials then released to the public virtually daily by WikiLeaks. Now, President Obama is ordering the intelligence community to conduct a full review of Putin's medley and all cyberattacks on U.S. elections going back to 2008.
The question is, how will his successor react?
TRUMP: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually did get along with Russia?
SCIUTTO: Trump repeatedly praised Russia during his campaign, and denied that the Kremlin interfered in the election. And he's continued to express doubts even now that he has access to top U.S. intelligence as the president-elect, telling "TIME" magazine this week, "I don't believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point; a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say oh Russia interfered."
Trump's skepticism of the intelligence community comes despite his own limited appetite of the intelligence briefings. So far, Trump has only had four presidential daily briefings. On average, one per week.
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta telling CBS News that is not nearly often enough.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If you are president of the United States you better in touch on a daily basis with your intelligence briefers so that you have an understanding as to what's happening in the world, what are the crises you have to pay attention to and what steps you have to take in order to deal with those crises.
SCIUTTO: CNN has learned however that Trump has requested a for focused briefing on the threat from North Korea. The U.S. now believes the regime can mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, according to a senior military official.
CIA Director John Brennan told Erin Burnett in a recent interview that he considers Pyongyang America's biggest current threat.
JOHN BRENNNA, CIA DIRECTOR: If you look at the globe right now, North Korea with continued march with increasing Kim Jong-un's nuclear arsenal, missile capability, not just to threaten his neighbors but also to have intercontinental capability. We can't allow Kim Jong-un to continue on this march.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: As for Mr. Trump's intelligence briefings, he is receiving them less frequently than previous president-elects. However, Reince Priebus, his incoming chief of staff, telling CBS News that as they get closer to inauguration day, that the number, the frequency of those briefings, Erin, will increase.
BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you.
And OUTFRONT now, Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World".
Gordon, Trump has indicated he would talk to Kim Jong-un. Here is what he said this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: One of the papers called the other day, and they said, would you speak to the leader of North Korea? I said, absolutely. Why not? Why not?
There is a 10 percent or a 20 percent chance that I can talk him out of those damn nukes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A nuclear when that they are now the intelligence community feels fully on board of saying, you heard John Brennan, going to have in the next few years. Is Trump right, 10 to 20 percent chance that talking to Kim Jong-un can talk him out of it?
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR OF "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": Probably about zero, the closer to it. You know, because nukes are considered to be the mainstay of the regime.
You know, Kim Jong-un, he saw Gadhafi. And the timeline is, OK, Gadhafi decides to give up his program and then, later on, he's killed. So, Kim Jong-un is thinking, look, I'm not going to give it up, because I can't depend on China, I can't depend on Russia, I can only depend on my own arsenal.
BURNETT: All right. So, Trump has said he can negotiate this. When I speak to the CIA Director John Brennan recently, I asked him, how do you describe Kim Jong-un, right, in terms of what kind of a negotiator potentially for Donald Trump? But I simply said, how do you describe Kim Jong-un? Here is what John Brennan said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: A megalomaniac. Calculating. He is delusional, because he believes that the world is going to accept a nuclear North Korea and allow it to maintain that arsenal. He's invested so much in this effort of building a military -- a nuclear capability and he thinks this is his ticket to greatness. I think it's his ticket to oblivion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He also said while he was a megalomaniac and calculating, not reckless.
[19:45:01] Donald Trump as we know can lash out. Use Twitter to do so. Would he be able to sit across from Kim Jong-un and negotiate? Could Trump be the one to crack the nut that no one else could crack?
GORDON: Yes, I don't think so. And the reason is, it's not just Trump and not just Kim Jong-un. Remember the regime right now looks to be unstable. Every once in a while you have these executions, demotions. These big events --
BURNETT: -- Kim Jong-un himself.
GORDON: Yes. Even if Kim Jong-un wanted to do a deal to the U.S. he can't do it because of the nature of his system right now. So, I don't think Trump can do it.
BURNETT: And in terms of this ability, the ability for a missile attached to a war hard that could hit the United States and be aimed to hit the United States. They are going to be there, do you think?
GORDON: They are going to be there in three, maybe four years. Right now, they've got three launchers that can hit the lower end of the United States, Taepodong 2 and KN08 KN14. They can't get a nuke that those, but they can make a nuke to a Nodong, which is an intermediate range missile.
BURNETT: Shorter range.
GORDON: Which can get to Alaska.
But nonetheless --
BURNETT: That's just a matter of practice.
GORDON: It's just a matter of time. And by the way, when you got a nuke, even if you are a mile off you still make big dent.
BURNETT: Gordon Chang, thank you very much.
And as we said, Donald Trump very aware of this threat, alarmed by it and requesting a specific briefing about North Korea.
OUTFRONT next, Trump's pick for national security adviser says there are signs on the southern border directing terrorists to the United States.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET), INCOMING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that, you know, in Arabic, you know, this way, move to this point. I mean, it's unbelievable.
(END AUDIO CLIP) BURNETT: But is it true? We'll ask a border security agent who's walked that line, next.
Plus, Trump slamming China day after day. But do the Chinese actually like Trump's tough talk?
BURNETT: Tonight, we are learning Donald Trump's pick for national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, claims there are Arabic signs along the border of Mexico to guide terrorists into the United States.
[19:50:00] Here's what he said he learned from friends in border patrol.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FLYNN: There's radical Islamist countries state-sponsored that are cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the lanes of entry into our country. And I have seen -- I have personal seen the photos of the signage, OK, the signage along those paths that are in Arabic. They are like way points along the path, as you come in. The one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that, you know, in Arabic, you know, this way, move to this point. I mean, it's unbelievable.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was a radio interview with Breitbart News late this summer.
A spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protections declined to comment but OUTFRONT now is Shawn Moran, the vice president of the National Border Council, the labor union of Border Patrol agents which endorsed Donald Trump.
But, Shawn, I appreciate your time tonight. I want to talk you do about several things that he said there, but first, just the basic question here about these signs. Have you or any of your agents ever seen any signs like in Arabic like the ones General Flynn describes?
SHAWN MORAN, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: I've never seen any signs let alone in Arabic. This is a smuggling operation. It would not bode well for the smugglers if they were advertising where their smuggler routes were.
So, I've never seen it and I've never heard it from any agents.
BURNETT: So, when he says he's personally seen photos of this. And you raise a good point. Why would you put signage up if you are trying to do it under cover and smuggle? There's no proof. You haven't seen it. Your agents haven't seen it. Why do you think he would say it?
MORAN: I'm not sure. I am concerned though about the sentiment of his statement, that there is a smuggling route from the Middle East to the southern border. We've seen that. We've seen people in the past six months arrested from Saudi Arabia, from Syria, from Pakistan.
So, it is a concern that people are finding their way from the Middle Eastern countries to the southern border.
BURNETT: And how big a problem is this? I mean, we do know, there are government reports that show that this has happened and this is happening. How big of an issue is it?
MORAN: I think it's a huge issue. "A.P." recently did a story saying that the border patrol is only capturing half of the people that are crossing the border. So it only takes a few number of people to inflict damage on this country if they are intent on doing us harm. So, it is a huge concern to board patrol agents.
BURNETT: And, of course, at this time, none of them have. There's been no terrorist attack by anyone who came over the southern border in this way. So, there is no evidence that could happen. But you're saying you think it could.
MORAN: I absolutely think it could. You know, it never happens until the first time it happens. So, we can't let our guard down. We're obviously not doing as good a job as we could do, and I think that is due in large part to the bad policies of the Obama administration. But we're enthusiastic that will change come January 20th.
BURNETT: So, you know you have problems on the southern border. You have talked about that. You know, your union had come out for the border protection supporting Donald Trump. But when you have General Flynn coming out and saying what he's saying that there are pictures and signs in Arabic guiding people all over the border and there don't seem to be any such thing, does that help you by putting something out there that may not be true when you actually do have this real problem that you are trying to focus attention on?
MORAN: I'll take any attention I can get on the southern border. It's been neglected for far too long. Our border security needs to be improved. I'm not saying that these pictures don't exist, that this hasn't happened. I just never heard about it.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Shawn Moran, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you, sir.
MORAN: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And Trump slamming China daily. How are the Chinese responding? By tweeting, of course.
[19:57:38] BURNETT: New tonight, Trump taking aim at China, telling supporters at a rally in Baton Rouge today that the Chinese are not playing fair.
So, what do the Chinese think of him after all of this?
Alexandra Field went to find out. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a country of 1.3 billion, a lot of people have something to say about Donald Trump.
TONY CHOU, COMEDIAN: It is like the guy goes for blind date and he opens by asking the girl, would you like to have sex with me?
FIELD (on camera): That's Donald Trump to you?
Politicians in China are all like play safe. It is a huge contrast. And I think that's what brought Donald Trump into the spotlight.
FIELD (voice-over: Comedian Tony Chou got a million views online, mostly in China, for a video skewering then-candidate Trump who once took to Twitter to blame China for a global warming hoax.
CHOU: If China wants to damage America, why would we come up with a climate change hoax? We'll just support Donald Trump.
FIELD: Again this week, the president tweeted, taking aim at Beijing, alleging currency manipulation and military posturing in the South China Sea. Trump writes, "Did China ask us if it was OK?"
Twitter is blocked in China but users found their way around the country's firewall to respond to his question, with #askTrumpfirst which been shared several hundred times on Twitter and been seeing nearly a million times on the Chinese equivalent, Weibo.
It is spawning snarky responses like hashtag ask Trump first if it's OK to make Chinese air quality great again.
The trend started with a graduate student in southern China who said he wanted to speak truth to power in a language Trump would understand.
YIN HAO, STARTED #ASKTRUMPFIRST IN CHINA: He's a Internet troll running for president and now he's president elect.
FIELD: A conversation about the president-elect spiked across China's social sites after his tweets and a controversial phone call with Taiwan's leader, actions that sparked concern for the communist party leader whose consider Taiwan a break-away province. A style that fuels fascination among Chinese people.
(on camera): When you talk to his supporters here, what do they tell you that they like about President-elect Trump?
CHOU: Because, you know, he's a nationalist, he cared about the domestic issue, because his policy obviously America first. So, pretty similar with something most of the Chinese people's mindset, we only care about ourselves.
FIELD (voice-over): Alexandra Field, CNN, Beijing. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BURNETT: And thanks to Alex and thanks to you for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.