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Prince Harry Grills Obama In Rapid-Fire Exchange; Obama Warns Against Biased Social Media Use; Extreme Weather Events Wash Over U.S. Aired 12:30-1pm ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] KORI SCHAKE, RESEARCH FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: -- at us and our allies, and taking the risk of a preventive war. Ensures we have those casualties rather than operating from confidence that we can deter them.

DANA BASH, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: And never mind a point you also make in your piece that President Trump ran a very clear campaign in his presidential race against what the president -- then President George W. Bush did in Iraq against preemptive war because of the mistakes. So the question is whether he would, as you note the in your piece, tragically repeat that.

I want to ask about General Mattis. So, you talk about what you're hearing the rhetoric from the White House and from the Trump administration. You're worried that they're barreling towards war.

I'm not going to ask you to give me any confidences but because you do obviously know General Mattis, the Defense Secretary quite well. You wrote -- co-authored a book with him. Do you -- can you tell us if he shares your concerns?

SCHAKE: Well, the Secretary of Defense can surely speak for himself. What I notice in the difference in the rhetoric I hear from the White House versus what I hear from Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson is that Secretary Mattis and Tillerson keep emphasizing that diplomacy is at the lead of our strategy. And that economic sanctions should have time to work.

One of the inconsistencies about what the White House is saying is that H.R. McMaster -- Lieutenant General McMaster has emphasized several times as your clip pointed out that time is running out. And that, you know, we're near the point of no return.

But in fact, unlike Iraq, time is working in our favor. The administration has gotten several rounds of unanimous U.N. Security Council resolutions passed to increase sanctions that the North Koreans are increasingly boxed in and time is working for us because they already have nuclear weapons. And they already have long-range ballistic missiles.

As the director of Central Intelligence, Mike Pompeo has said, we ought to be operating as though North Korea already has that ability. And the right deterrent threat, the threat that has worked to keep North Korea from attacking South Korea, Japan and the United States for decades has been that any attack on us or our allies will result in a military retaliation by us that the North Korean government won't survive.

BASH: Kori, thank you so much. Your piece was really interesting in the Atlantic. I think it's an important read and an important warning particularly giving your insight and your experience in the George W. Bush White House and the run-up to the Iraq war. Thanks for joining me.

SCHAKE: Thank you.

BASH: And ahead, from a leader's role on social media to effecting change outside the Oval Office, President Obama opens up to Prince Harry on life after the White House.


[12:36:59] BASH: Prince Harry is taking his BBC guest reporter job really seriously. He scored an interview with the former U.S. President Barack Obama, and talked about a slew of topics.

The President offered his take on the use of social media by leaders. Wonder who he was talking about. He warned of the danger of divisiveness but they also had some fun.




PRINCE HARRY: "Titanic" or "The Bodyguard"?

OBAMA: "Titanic."

PRINCE HARRY: "Suits" or "The Good Wife"?

OBAMA: "Suits," obviously.

PRINCE HARRY: Great, great answer. Cigarettes or gum?

OBAMA: The gum now, baby.

PRINCE HARRY: Gum. White House or Buckingham Palace?

OBAMA: White House just because Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a really long time to mow.

PRINCE HARRY: OK. Fair enough.

OBAMA: Lot of upkeep.

PRINCE HARRY: "Queen" or "The Queen?"

OBAMA: "The Queen."


BASH: CNN Correspondent Melissa Bell joins me now. Melissa, that was pretty fun. Of course, he's going to choose "Suits." I mean --

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It would be the only answer to the question, let's says to the reference, of course, to Meghan Markle. We know that Prince Harry is to marry her on May 19th.

Now this was a scoop to the BBC when this interview was shot back in September, Dana, because of course, the former American President simply doesn't give that many interviews. And although his successor's name was never mentioned, it was fascinating to hear his take on such issues as the use of social media.

And of course, there was a very clear dig at Donald Trump's use of social media since Barack Obama referred to the fact that civil discourse was being corroded, that it was important once again to find common spaces. That it was harder to be obnoxious and cruel in real life than it was on Twitter. Although of course, he never mentioned his successor by name.

But what was really so interesting about this beyond the fact of Barack Obama's interview, beyond the fact of what he has to say about power especially since he's been in a position to speak openly about letting it go was the fact that this was one extremely famous man interviewing another extremely famous man.

And as you just heard in that clip, you got a really interesting insight into the two men. Of course, since that interview was recorded, we've learned of the engagement. We've learned the wedding date and Prince Harry is even more in the news than ever. So, was he going to invite the man he'd so clearly enjoyed interviewing to the wedding?


PRINCE HARRY: We share the same kind of mind-set on the outlook on the charitable sector, on foundations and mainly on the youth of today. The young people of this world are incredibly inspirational.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well enough to invite him to your wedding?

PRINCE HARRY: Well I don't know about that. That's -- we haven't put the invites or the guest list together yet. So, who knows whether he's going to be invited or not, I wouldn't want to ruin that surprise.


BELL: And that's a very important question particularly for the British press over here, Dana. The question of whether the former American President might be invited to a British royal wedding even before the current American President has taken up his invitation to come to the U.K.

[12:40:10] BASH: I think the technical term for that is a royal punt. Melissa, thank you so much for that report.

And joining me now is Chris Lu, former Deputy Secretary of Labor and a former classmate of the President, former President Obama in law school, among other things, and Amie Parnes, CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent at the Hill. Thank you both for joining me.

What's your take on this interview and particularly how personal he got? In fact, I just want to jump ahead to something that we didn't see there that the former President did say about how he felt when he left the White House.

He said the following, "You know, the sense that there was a completion and that we had done the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole and that we hadn't fundamentally changed. I think was a satisfying feeling. That was mixed with all the work that was still undone. Concerns about how the country moves forward but, you know, overall there was a serenity there. More than I would have expected, I think there was a sense we had run a good race."

So, you, as I mentioned have known President Obama since you were in law school together and worked with him in politics before you were in his administration. Serenity, that's not the word I would think that President Obama leaving the White House to Donald Trump whom he you've heard all the things he said about him in the campaign would feel as he was going in the helicopter.

CHRIS LU, FORMER DEPURY LABOR SECRETARY, CABINET SECRETARY IN OBAMA ADMIN: You know, what's remarkable as we talks about the presidency as being one leg in a relay race and he took the baton from his predecessor. He ran what he said was a good race and he passed it on.

And he recognized that there's more work to be done, the history is long. And you heard a lot of interesting themes. You heard about humility and empathy and finding common ground in many ways. This interview was kind of the antithesis of what we've heard from Donald Trump over the last year.

BASH: And Amie, you heard the President talk in not so veiled terms about the President, current President's social media use. How do you think that Democrats want to use or how much they want to hear from people like President Obama and even Hillary Clinton perhaps going into the next election year on issues like that? Will it help?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICS ANALYST: Yes. I've written about those quite extensively. They actually want President Obama to kind of -- they want him to play a behind the scenes role. They're looking for a leader right now of the party. And they can't find one.

So the natural leader is President Obama. So a lot of people are still looking to him for guidance. They've been meeting with him in his office behind the scenes. And he's been meeting with lawmakers and providing some assistance. But he doesn't want to be a foil for the Republican Party.

So, he is kind of wanting to play more of a behind the scenes role and he's happy to do that. He wants more people to kind of bubble up. He wants the party to have, you know, more of the fresh blood, a new chance for leaders to come up. And so, I think he wants to play that kind of role, behind the scenes role. And he's happy to do that which is why you're not seeing him do a lot of these interviews and why this interview with Prince Harry is pretty rare.

BASH: It is rare. And that's not -- that's a typical thing. The former Presidents don't tend to give a lot of interviews. They tend to let the current President do their thing.

Before we go, I just want to ask you about sort of the more personal things that we heard from the former President since you know him so well and have for so long. He talked about the pressure on his family, about leaving the White House as we mentioned and what he misses about it. What did you make of the way that he reflected?

LU: Well, it was interesting when the Prince Harry asked him what his feeling was on the inaugural standing. He first talked about his wife and how they made it through and they were stronger. They have raised two wonderful daughters. And then, he talked about how he missed the team around him in the White House. He did joke about getting stuck in traffic.

But you had the sense of -- he was at peace with what he accomplished. The President always has the arc of history is long and there's much more work to be done. But, I think he can take pride in not only the accomplishments, not only domestic and foreign policy as well, but the tone that he set for the presidency. And I think it's something that has been in rare supply and why he will be out on the campaign trail a lot of next year.

BASH: Chris, thank you. Amie, thank you, as well. Appreciate the discussion.

And it was a record-setting White House Christmas in Erie, Pennsylvania. And it's not over yet. Details on the frigid weather, ahead next.


[12:48:54] BASH: It sure was a white Christmas in Erie, Pennsylvania. Take a look at that. That is what nearly 60, 6-0, inches of snow looks like. The two-day total is the highest in the entire State of Pennsylvania according to National Weather Service. 2017 ending with a wintry mess seems fitting for a year that was filled with extreme weather.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It was an incredible year of weather extremes. 2017 produced 15 different billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. Here are the top seven weather and climate events of 2017.

Number seven. Every acre of California was in drought and nearly two- thirds of the state was classified exceptional. Tens of millions of trees dying, creating concern for a major wildfire season ahead.

Rain and snows returned with a vengeance to California in the fall of 2016 and continued through the spring of this year. By April, Governor Brown officially declared the drought over. The heavy rain and melting snow was beneficial to most but for some, it became too much of a good thing.

[12:50:11] In February, the Oroville Dam was in danger as an emergency spillway began to erode. One hundred and eighty-eight thousands residents below the dam were evacuated. In the end, the dam was shored up and the disaster was narrowly avoided.

Number six, the eclipse of the century. On August 21st, millions of Americans stopped what they were doing and witnessed something that hadn't happened in almost a century.

Those lucky enough to be in the path of totality, which was about 70 miles wide -- it went all the way from Oregon to South Carolina -- they were plunged into darkness for just a couple of minutes. But millions drove hours to see the amazing show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. You can -- look at the corona. The corona is crazy.

MYERS: Number five. On Earth Day 2016, countries around the world came together to sign a historic agreement. The U.S. pledged to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025. But in one of the most significant moves in his first year in office --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord.

MYERS: -- President Trump pulled out of the deal. The U.S. is the second-biggest emitter of fossil fuel gases behind only China. And is now the only country in the world not part of this agreement.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news. The death toll from the wildfires raging in Northern California has now climbed to 29 with hundreds of people reported missing.

MYERS: California wildfires are number four on our list of the biggest weather stories of 2017. In October, Northern California was hit with deadly wildfires, the worst damage and highest death toll occurred in wine country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the city of Santa Rosa, entire neighborhoods have been reduced to ashes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no words. It's a nightmare. It's a real- life nightmare.

MYERS: The fast-moving fires killed dozens and destroyed thousands of structures.

BLITZER: A new blaze that's erupted in the fire-ravaged Southern California. MYERS: Strong Santa Ana winds violently spread these large fires just north of L.A.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of these embers fly toward the houses that haven't burned yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the foothill area of Ventura, California this home completely lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty homes that we can count that are burned to the ground. They look just like this.

MYERS: The Thomas Fire alone, in Ventura County, scorched an area bigger than Boston and New York City combined and will likely continue to burn into 2018.

MYERS: In 2017, our hurricane drought ended abruptly. Irma, Maria, Harvey brought death and destruction from the islands of the Caribbean right through the Florida Keys and up the Gulf Coast.

Now, it's not like we didn't have major hurricanes in the Atlantic or Caribbean, they just never hit the U.S. They were what we call fish storms. But with these, many are still picking up the pieces or even waiting for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Irma has made the turn. It is moving up the west coast.

MYERS: Irma is number three on our list. The storm set many jaw- dropping records. It was the strongest Atlantic Basin hurricane ever recorded outside of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

It spent three days as a cat five, the highest category hurricane with winds that approached, at times, 200 miles per hour.

It brought its fury to Florida on September 10th, starting with a direct hit on the lower Keys, then flooding Miami, and landing again near Naples where our CNN crew experienced being in the eye of the storm.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: These gusts are the real deal.

MYERS: Over 6 million people were ordered to evacuate along its projected path and impacted at least nine states in the southeast leaving a trail of destruction and millions without power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most devastating storm either in the century or, quite frankly, in modern history.

MYERS: At number two, Hurricane Maria. This devastating storm reached category five strength and hit the small island of Dominica on September 18th.

The storm then made a direct hit on Puerto Rico. It was one of the strongest storms to ever hit the island.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been trying to find the words. Ferocious doesn't seem to even be enough for how this storm has intensified.

MYERS: At the peak of the hurricane, 100 percent of the island was without power. Even now, months later, power is still out to many. And the CNN investigation found that the death toll has been vastly underreported.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems that every hour I keep telling people that it's -- it couldn't get worse, and yet every hour it does seem to get worse.

MYERS: At number one this year, Hurricane Harvey. The numbers are staggering. They're still being counted.

[12:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's heart-wrenching. Everything is gone.

MYERS: By some estimates, Harvey could be the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. The storm made landfall as a category four storm with winds of 130 miles per hour, just north of Corpus Christi, but the damage had just begun.

Houston was especially hard hit with flooding. Parts of the metro area saw over 50 inches of rain. Beaumont-Port Arthur picked up 26 inches of rain in just 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just got rescued right now. We've been at it since 10:00 a.m. in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paramedics and volunteers are carrying her through the floodwaters.

MYERS: And in the end, an incredible 27 trillion gallons of rain fell on Texas and Louisiana over just six days.


BASH: And that's it for me. The news continues with Brianna Keilar after a quick break.