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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Manhunt for Istanbul Nightclub Attacker Intensifies; Officials: "Digital Fingerprints" Link Russia to Hacking; Interview with Trump Adviser Kellyanne Conway; Obama & Trump Transition Troubles; Democrats Take Aim at Trump Cabinet Picks. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 2, 2017 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin with breaking news on new evidence linking Russia to the election computer hacking even as President-elect Donald Trump continues downplaying the notion.

And on the search for the gunman who took 39 lives at a Turkish nightclub on New Year's Eve. Authorities today releasing photos of the suspect to Turkish media, one of them apparently taken from this video which began making the rounds late today on social media. Also today, ISIS says he is one of their followers calling him a soldier of the caliphate. And right now, the search is on for this terrorist.

CNN's Sara Sidner is in Istanbul where the killings happened.

Have authorities any gotten further in identifying or finding this person?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly have more clues. There is now that image that has been put out all over Turkey of the suspected gunman. And they've also got fingerprints and a couple of other images. What they don't have is a name and where he might be. And so, a manhunt is definitely under way.

And the entire country is on one hand absolutely furious over this. And on the other hand, so many people are living in sorrow right now because 39 families are having to bury their loved ones -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, we'll have more from you later on at this hour.

We want to turn to the hacking story, the other big breaking story today. New evidence that may fly in the face of President-elect Trump's ongoing effort to cast doubt on Russian involvement in it. He says he knows things that others don't and will reveal them perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Today, though, U.S. intelligence officials did some revealing themselves, saying they've now got another big clue that points to Kremlin.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown, working the story, joins us now.

What is this clue, Pamela, that you're learning about?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are newly identified digital footprints that's bolstering the view in the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow is the culprit, according to U.S. intelligence officials we've been speaking with. Analysts were able to trace the election hack to specific keyboards with Cyrillic text, the alphabet used by the Russians, and they believe these keyboards were used to make the malware code used in the hacks.

This is just one piece in the puzzle, though, leading U.S. intelligence to believe that Russia is the culprit. As one official said, the intelligence in Russia so is high-value, high-quality, that is part of why they are so confident Russia is to blame compared to other cyber hacks we've seen involving more secretive regimes like North Korea -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, how were investigators actually able to trace the keyboards allegedly used in the hacks?

BROWN: Well, they were able to do analysis of the meta data in certain documents and they were able to through this analysis look at the source code and determine that these were keyboards with this Cyrillic text. But as one official cautioned, these same keyboards could be bought online or could be used by other Eastern European hackers not in Russia.

So, as I say this is just one piece of the puzzle, one piece of circumstantial evidence. Still, Anderson, there is a high level of confidence as we know and a consensus in the U.S. intelligence community that Russia is to blame and now, we are just awaiting for that comprehensive review that President Obama ordered about the hacks.

COOPER: And President-elect Trump says he, quote, "knows things" about who's behind the hacking, saying that we can't be sure it actually is the Russians. Could it be someone else? I mean, as you said, these, you know, computer keyboards could have been bought by anybody.

BROWN: Well, but that was one piece of evidence out of lots of evidence, and digital footprints that intelligence analysts were able to gather through the course of this investigation. Now, cyber hacks are rarely a slam dunk definitive in terms of attribution, determining who it is. But as I pointed out, the intelligence is high quality when it comes to Russia. And so, that is why you're seeing this consensus and why the FBI and DHS came out last week, Anderson, pointing the finger at Russia and laying out why it believes that.

It's unclear exactly what President-elect Trump was talking about. Of course, he does know more than most of us because he has received some classified intelligence briefings. He also pointed out that he's skeptical because of the failed intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.

What will be interesting to see though is whether his conclusion or his view changes once he receives the specific intelligence briefing on the Russian hack that he's supposed to be given by leaders in the intelligence community around the time that comprehensive review is completed. We'll have to wait and see what happens -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Pam Brown -- Pam, thanks.

And, again, President-elect Trump said he has got evidence of his own, details to come shortly. I had a chance to ask Trump transition senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about all of that in tonight's breaking news. We spoke just before air time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Kellyanne, over the weekend, President-elect Trump said that the hacking, quote, "could be someone else." Who do you think he thinks it could be? Because CNN is reporting tonight that U.S. intelligence officials have identified digital fingerprints is what they're calling it, which point directly to the Russian government.

[20:05:08] KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP TRANSITION SENIOR ADVISER: The president-elect receives intelligence briefings that you and I are not privy to, Anderson. Additionally, he just is noting that there are unnamed sources, people talking to the press instead of attending House Intelligence Committee briefings where they've been invited.

And -- but the president-elect has agreed to receive an intelligence briefing here at the Trump Tower this week. And we expect that the top intelligence officials in our country, Anderson, will be here to provide that briefing.

At the same time, I mean, we're all just wondering why, when President Obama earlier in this year said to Vladimir Putin, quote, "Knock it off," he didn't come out more strongly. Did he think Hillary Clinton would win the election? And so, knock it off, which is what I tell my dogs when they're fighting over a bone, would be sufficient?

I mean, why not -- was that a diplomatic response? Or was it a political response now?

And so, we do have questions. But he will receive this briefing. Things are not completely clear to us here. And then, he will speak accordingly.

He's got eight years probably to be president. President Obama has 18 days left. And this expulsion of the Russian operatives last week seems sort of curious because there just didn't seem to be such a strong response earlier in the election cycle to these allegations.

COOPER: So, when Trump says he, quote, "knows things" that other people don't know, is he referring to things he's learned in briefings? Or things he just knows prior to even becoming president- elect?

CONWAY: Well, every president of the United States, in this case imminent president of the United States, Donald Trump, ought to know many things that the rest of us do not know. And that is to what he referring. That will include the briefing that he'll receive this week at Trump Tower from our top intelligence officials.

COOPER: Do you expect that Tuesday or Wednesday?

CONWAY: But what we do know -- yes, it looks that way right now, Anderson.

And what we do know or what I can say is that we don't believe that intelligence effort should interfere into politics, certainly. But we also don't believe that politics should interfere with our intelligence. And I can't help but think that many people who are still talking about this are disappointed if not embarrassed by the content of those hacked e-mails at the DNC. The Hillary team, her senior team, was pretty disparaging of her and her lack of judgment, she can't find her voice, 84 different slogans being tested --

COOPER: But even people who weren't supporting Hillary Clinton would understandably be concerned about any foreign entity hacking into anybody's e-mails here, whether it was the Sony hacks, believed to have been done by North Korea -- I mean, it's not necessarily all political.

CONWAY: Well, Anderson, what you just described, we share your view. In other words, of course, we are concerned about a foreign government hacking into our information. But you and I are agreeing on a principle. We're not agreeing on an actual set of facts.

I would tell you another set of facts that we all know that didn't seem to get much more than a shrug and a slap on the wrist from President Obama at the time, and that was the 2015 hack of one million former, I guess, and current government employees at the Office of Personnel Management.

We know that that information was hacked. There was no public punishment of the magnitude that we experienced as a nation last week with these Russian operatives. And people are left wondering, why is that different?

COOPER: I saw one Democrat on I think an Intelligence Committee, I think it was Schiff saying -- and I don't want to misquote him, but saying the difference between, though, is that China hadn't actually weaponized those, Russia had weaponized the hacks in order -- and used them against, in that case the DNC. I'm not saying --

CONWAY: That to me is a very poor excuse, I'm sorry Anderson.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: That's their reason.

CONWAY: Yes, I mean, look, that's a very poor excuse and really very creative. Monday morning quarterbacking after the fact.

So, it doesn't matter to us as a government, doesn't matter to Congressman Schiff or President Obama or the rest of us that one million people who did nothing wrong other than they worked, they had their personnel information in the government files, it's OK that we know things about the them personally now? That's never OK and we as a nation should be outraged about that. But there was no public policy -- public punishment.

We can't help but think that the difference here too is that Hillary Clinton lost an election, and somehow they think they had the wrong messenger. There was hacking, or Jim Comey's fault and whatnot. I mean, it basically was the wrong message, not just the wrong messenger.

COOPER: I want to read something President-elect Trump tweeted tonight. He tweeted, "North Korea just stated it is in the final stages of developing a weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S., it won't happen."

[20:10:01] How exactly does he plan on stopping their nuclear program? And what steps will he take that other presidents haven't?

CONWAY: Well, I tell you what he won't do. He won't do what we've done with Iran, for example. Emboldening Iran with this increased nuclear capability that even prominent Democratic senators like Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Chuck Schumer here in New York opposed. That is not something you do because --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, what will he do?

CONWAY: -- capability also comes -- well, he will meet -- again, he'll meet with his national security team and see what can be done, but he's not going to sit idly by while North Korea is one year away from having this missile that could reach Seattle we all read and we're told, Anderson. You can't --

COOPER: Because right now, the policy, in order to try to stop this, has always been, get China, get a number of state actors in, to put pressure, to put sanctions, to try to stop --

CONWAY: Sanctions and pressure, that's right.

Well, it would be nice if China did more on a number of fronts. I think that President-elect Trump has been very clear about his intention there.

Look, again, sanctions -- he'll discuss it with his security team. But is that actually a deterrent to North Korea? It's not -- we don't know yet. Are the Russian sanctions from last week a deterrent to them? Obviously, Vladimir Putin has said he won't retaliate, he'll wait. He'll delay those sanctions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll have more of that interview of Kellyanne Conway in the next hour of 360.

Just ahead, though, tonight, is the president-elect putting himself in a hard to defend position on the hacking and what to major of his claim suggesting he has inside information? I'll talk to the panel about that.

And, later, what happened to that smooth transition from President Obama's jabs to the president-elect's tweets and plenty of strain behind the scenes as well? We'll take you inside all of it tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:05] COOPER: Given the breaking news, more evidence pointing to Russian involvement in the hacking of the Democrat National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chief, all eyes are now on President- elect Trump who promised to put his own cards on the table perhaps as soon as tomorrow. He says he knows things about it than others don't and he stands virtually alone in deferring to Moscow in the way he has.

Here's more of what senior adviser Kellyanne Conway had to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I want to be clear about the information about the hacks that Trump says he knows. He says, quote, "You'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday." Will he actually announce what the information is Tuesday or Wednesday as he said he would? After being briefed?

CONWAY: Well, he didn't say -- he didn't necessarily say he'd announce it. What he's saying is that we'll find out, he'll find out -- I think it's all very contingent on what these intelligence officials reveal in their briefing, Anderson. And everybody should be very happy that the president-elect is open to receiving that briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: As the kids say, there's plenty to unpack.

Joining us, Republican consultant Margaret Hoover, Jeffrey Lord, contributing editor at the "American Spectator" and former Reagan White House political director and long time Trump supporter, and "Atlantic" contributor Peter Beinart.

Jeff, I mean, do you think Donald Trump is sort of getting over his skis here in terms of talking about I know stuff, I'm going to release stuff in a couple of days, before he actually gets the briefing?

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No, I don't think he gets over his skis. And I say that -- I mean, he's now president-elect of the United States. How many times in the last year and a half have there been all kinds of conversations about in essence saying he's over the top of his skis here?

I think that he will find out what's going on by talking to the appropriate people, he'll get the briefings that none of the rest of us see, then he'll make a judgment as to what to say. I don't think he would ever walk something out like that without having some knowledge of what he needed to see.

COOPER: Peter?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The logic seems to be because Trump was elected, therefore he can't do anything wrong.

LORD: No, no --

BEINART: I mean, Trump was elected, but time and time again, he's said stuff which turned out not to be true, he's shown remarkable ignorance about basic facts, like he didn't know what the nuclear triad was, he didn't know what Brexit was weeks before the vote, right? And he hasn't been taking a lot of intelligence briefings. So, the -- he knew more than the generals did about ISIS.

I think we should take with a large grain of salt any suggestion that Donald Trump knows more than our intelligence agencies.

LORD: Well, I don't think he says he knows more, but I think he's talking to these people. Until we find out that he's had these conversations and if, we may not even get to know exactly what they've said to him other than selective leaks from various quarters. So we need to find out.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We say he's talking to these people but he's actually not talking to them nearly as much as any president-elect in recent history has. I mean, most president- elects get daily presidential briefs.

Kellyanne Conway said Americans should be glad he's going to be talking and taking this presidential brief on Wednesday or Tuesday. Most of them get it every day. George H.W. Bush told his son the most important thing you do when you're president is get your intelligence briefing every day.

I mean, this has -- this has just been cataclysm. This is what president-elects do. This is what he is tasked with, most importantly, keeping this country safe and maintaining stability in the world. You can't do that without information. He's taking scores of calls from world leaders without situational awareness.

COOPER: You know, Jeffrey, I mean, it's interesting, though, because Donald Trump has said and Kellyanne Conway will say he has confidence in the intelligence community. But in public statements, you know, he's raised questions about, well, they got WMD wrong in Iraq.

LORD: They did.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: The intelligence agencies were actually much more correct on WMD than the political appointees of the Bush administration.

COOPER: That was my point. It was more of the politicizing of intelligence, as opposed to the intelligence itself. HOOVER: But this is something that Donald Trump doesn't actually know

the difference about. It appears that he doesn't understand that what went wrong with the lead-up to the Iraq war and the claims of WMDs in Iraq was exactly that, it was the politicization of the intelligence, not the intelligence itself. That's what we've learned in hindsight, sadly.

I say as somebody who was part of the Bush administration and supported the war in Iraq, I mean, that's what we have learned from that. We hope not to repeat those errors again. But 17 intelligence agencies have all concluded definitively that Russia was behind this. That is very different than the Iraq WMDs.

LORD: All I'm trying to communicate, and again, I fall back on his business career here, which until he takes office is what we have to fall back on, is that he knows how to make judgments based on facts. Based on facts, not supposition --

HOOVER: Not getting the facts though, that's the problem.

LORD: But, Margaret, you're assuming the daily presidential brief every day is not saying some version of the same thing. A good executive would immediately say, if they say the dog is red and the next day they say the dog is possibly red or the dog is red again --

HOOVER: Do you know that? Have you gotten those presidential briefs?

LORD: No, no, and neither have you, and that's my point.

HOOVER: I worked in the White House, I have a pretty good sense --

LORD: Neither you nor I got those briefs.

HOOVER: You and I both know the president doesn't -- do you really think President Obama sits there and gets -- by the way, you have to ask for information, too.

[20:20:02] You get deep --

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: I understand.

HOOVER: You tease out. I mean, you don't find Osama bin Laden and you don't sort of rum two wars not getting intelligence briefings every day.

BEINART: Can I say? Nobody needs these briefings more than Donald Trump because no president in recent memory has come in more ignorant about basic realities, right? Nobody needs it more. He needs a tremendous amount -- he didn't know what the nuclear triad was, he couldn't name the leaders of Hezbollah, Hamas or you know -- he'd have that information if he got the briefing every day.

(CROSSTALK)

LORD: George W. Bush didn't know the name of the president of Pakistan --

BEINART: But he got -- to his credit, he at least the daily brief. He at least knew what he didn't know.

LORD: President Obama has been reading these things every day by your lights, and the world is a mess.

BEINART: You want to debate President Obama's again, this goes back --

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: Go ahead.

HOOVER: What Jeffrey just did is something that Kellyanne did as well. A lot of people who are in a position of needing to defend Trump or wanting to defend Trump, and just look out for this, right? You divert and deflect. You put it on Obama's failures, you're putting on Obama's hypocrisy.

And, look, I'm no fan of the current president but you can only do that for ten more days, OK? And then it's on you.

LORD: Day one, day one it becomes his responsibility. And that is my point.

COOPER: You say Donald Trump makes decisions based on facts. I'm not sure if we know that. And I'm not saying this in a disparaging way.

It's very easy -- I think it's very much a gut -- he does things by gut. He has a gut instinct which I think has served him very well, frankly in this election. If he had been listening to facts, there were a lot of factual people saying, there's no way you can win, there's no way you can win. He had a gut feeling and he went with it.

LORD: Right.

COOPER: It was a gut feeling based on Monica's reporting from "Wall Street Journal" when to turn on one of the other GOP candidates.

LORD: Right.

COOPER: A lot of that was done by instinct.

LORD: Right. One of the things I think is very important to understand here is that he sees things, I think he has ability like Ronald Reagan did to see things other people do not see. And he's willing to go outside the box.

And all I can say is, anybody who's president of the United States, if you are of a mind as Reagan was or Trump is to take on the federal bureaucracy, you are immediately, the minute your hand comes down from that Bible, you are put in the position where there's just tons and tons of stuff coming into you that's organized in the shape the bureaucracy wants you to see things. And it becomes very difficult. And this is truly going to be his task, it's going to be his task to get them to look things over in a different capacity and take a fresh look. This is why we have a fresh set of eyes.

COOPER: It is an interesting argument to make. I mean, I think --

HOOVER: I don't know what that --

COOPER: That's a well-crafted argument to take.

HOOVER: I think it's a great argument.

COOPER: Puts things in a new light, maybe it shouldn't be done the way it's always been.

LORD: Right.

BEINART: Right. I mean, that's fine, but --

HOOVER: The argument that you can make --

BEINART: Yes, Donald Trump can challenge the intelligence agencies, but again, you have to start from some basis of knowledge, right? If Donald Trump were to say, you know, I took the intelligence briefing for a month and I find it wasn't that useful, I want to reorganize. But he hasn't been taking it from the very beginning.

LORD: But Peter --

BEINART: Yes?

LORD: The problem with that is, and I hate to use but I will, the Benghazi episode. Hillary Clinton, who was, quote-unquote, "seriously experienced", senator, first lady, attorney, secretary of state, the whole Benghazi thing blew up in her face. She had all this experience, she was in charge and it blew up.

BEINART: There you go again. This is exactly what Margaret said, right? It's like saying, because the pilot who has experience flying the plane crashed, therefore it's fine for someone who didn't get the requisite training to fly the plane. Hillary Clinton and lots of people who had lots of experience made terrible mistakes. It's not an excuse for going into the job without information.

COOPER: Let's take a break. Everyone is going to stick around.

Coming up next, remember all that transition good cheer at the White House, well, the eggnog seems to have gone bad a little bit. Things have turned a little sour. You can see how and why when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:27:18] COOPER: Well, with Congress back tomorrow promising to undo his legacy and the president-elect taking office with no public service experience, whatever you can understand why President Obama might feel torn about the transition.

On the one hand, he's sought to help prepare Donald Trump and ease him into the job. On the other hand, we're talking about a guy who openly and loudly doubted his citizenship, who's promising to dismantle everything he holds dear and has expressed disdain for the nonpolitical professionals, especially from the intelligence community, who he's relied on the last eight years.

Now, for several weeks after the election, Obama sought to minimize those irritations. Lately, though, not so much. The strain is showing as Michelle Kosinski reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama with only days remaining in office looking to preserve his legacy in any way possible, taking to, yes, Twitter, while on vacation and out of sight to defend his work on job creation, health care, and energy.

This week, he'll head to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats trying to protect at least parts of Obamacare.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Another busy day.

KOSINSKI: And virtually at the same time Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be meeting with Republicans on repealing it. It was only weeks ago the first face-to-face meeting show of good will --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future.

KOSINSKI: Didn't take long for the winds of politics carrying plenty of thorns to blow from the campaign trail into this transition.

OBAMA: Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.

KOSINSKI: Just in the last few days, President Obama saying he thinks he would have beaten Donald Trump in the election. Trump responding by tweet, "He thinks he would have won against he, he should say that but I say no way." And another one, "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition. Not."

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Because he thought --

KOSINSKI: We've heard from the first lady.

M. OBAMA: We're feeling what not having hope feels like.

KOSINSKI: We've seen top Democrats blast the head of the FBI over the Clinton e-mail investigation. Obama administration standing by its expressions of deep concern and belief that Donald Trump is unqualified, hitting his campaign picks, excoriating the Trump team for denials and doubts that Russia hacked the Democratic website trying to influence the election. JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Republican nominee for

president was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent, because he believed that would help his campaign.

KOSINSKI (on camera): So, despite these very public clashes, Trump speaks of a, quote, "good relationship" with the outgoing president, whose legacy is already under fierce attack.

(voice-over): The two spoke again by phone Friday.

TRUMP: I'm getting along very well with him other than a couple of statements. And I responded to him, and we talked about it and smiled about it.

KOSINSKI: Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let's talk about with CNN Senior Political Commentator and Former Senior Obama Adviser, David Axelrod. He'd also host "The Axe Files" podcast on cnn.com.

David, the day after the election, President Obama and President-elect Trump voiced commitment to a smooth transition. Do you think either of them has kept their word?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that insofar as there are communications between the staffs of both men at various levels who are affecting a transition.

Yes, insofar as, generally their rhetoric has been friendly, yes. But obviously there are big differences about the direction of the country. One president is finishing up his administration trying to lock in those things that he believes are important. The other president has been very vocal about a variety of issues kind of breaking with tradition in that regard. And -- so, there is this natural tension that we've seen.

COOPER: And -- I mean just in the last couple of weeks President Obama has imposed sanctions on Russia, kicked out some of their diplomats, letting U.N. resolution condemning Israel settlement, buildings past. I mean if you ask the Trump folks they'll tell you the President is trying to box them in. Do you think that's true?

AXELROD: Well, I don't know that the resolution in the U.N. of box, I mean sounds like President-elect Trump is going to chart his own course in the Middle East. On the issue of Russia, I mean there's a bipartisan consensus in the Congress that something should be done. The criticism of President Obama has been that he didn't act soon enough in the minds of some members of Congress on both sides harshly enough against the Russians. So on this Trump stance, almost alone.

But, clearly, these are not things that he welcomed and they have been bumps in the road along this transition period.

COOPER: President-elect Trump, certainly has been sitting quietly either though. Is this just what happens when you have a president and president-elect who are as different as these two men are, or is it more complicated than that, you think? I mean, it is an awkward --

AXELROD: Well, look, every -- I think it's fair to say, Anderson, that everything involving Donald Trump is a little more complicated because he doesn't operate by the same rules that we're accustomed to.

His tweets are often provocative. I mean, he sent out a tweet accusing President Obama of bad faith in the transition. And then the next day he reported that they have had a good conversation and the transition was going swimmingly. So it's kind of like a Dr. Jekyll Mr. Twitter thing he's got going. And you never know exactly which side is up.

COOPER: And I mean there was this back and forth between the President and President-elect. I mean, do you think there is lasting effect here or come January 20th, their ships passing in the night?

AXELROD: Well, I think, you know, very clearly on January 20th, Donald Trump will become president of the United States. He may or may not rely on his predecessors for council. I remember, Anderson, one of the things that President-elect Obama asked of President Bush was that he assemble all the former presidents for a conversation about the presidency and what he should be thinking about President- elect Obama as he entered office.

There hasn't been such a meeting, I assume because this President- elect hasn't asked for such a meeting. So, how much he's going to rely on his predecessors for advice I don't know. And once that transition is affected on January 20th, there really isn't any constitutional reason for them to be in communication. So, they may well be ships in the night.

But until then, I can tell you as someone who was involved in a transition eight years ago, it is very, very helpful to have the resource of people who have been there for eight years to help acclimate you to all the nuances of life in the White House. And I assume that that is going on.

COOPER: David Axelrod. David, thanks very much.

AXELROD: OK, Anderson.

COOPER: We'll have more of David in our second hour. The Democrats are planning to begin thwarting President-elect Trump's administration, that plan is taking shape and it starts on Capitol Hill.

Dana Bash has that coming up. And the breaking news, new video in the man authorities think killed more than two dozen people on New Year's Eve. The manhunt for him is on right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:38:30] COOPER: Welcome back. It's a new year and a new world order. At least in New Washington order where Congress is gathered back in session tomorrow. President-elect Trump has made it clear he has got a list of Obama policies he wants to unravel and he's going to look for his fellow Republicans in the House and Senate to waste no time in that effort.

But do not look for Democrats to sit by and make things easy. They are picking their battles, have their sites square under Trump's cabinet choices. Here is -- Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats may not have the votes to defeat Donald Trump's nominees but can delay their confirmation.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: I am concerned about a bunch of the nominees if it's --

BASH: And incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is warning, Democrats will slow walk eight of Trump's picks unless they turn over additional financial information to the Senate saying in a statement, "If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they're sorely mistaken."

Democrats say these eight Trump nominees have yet to provide key committees and the office of government ethics enough records for Senators to make informed decisions about potential conflicts of interest.

For example, Rex Tillerson, Trump's nominee for secretary of state handed over information about his taxes. He is not required to turn over his full tax returns but Democrats want to change that.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D) MICHIGAN: Without seeing their tax returns, it's impossible to know if his nominees have conflicts of interest from their financial dealings that would influence their decisions affecting the American people.

BASH: Tom Price, Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services, is also on the Democrat's target list. This year, he bought and sold 12 health care stocks. Democrats are pushing for more information to investigate whether Congressman Price violated a 2013 inside our trading law.

[20:40:16] But the reality is beyond his business dealings, Democrats strongly oppose Price on policy.

SCHUMER: When it comes to issues like Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, Congressman Price and the average American couldn't be further apart.

BASH: In fact these eight Trump nominees are being singled out by Democrats because of what they believe as much as where they invest.

Like Hardee's CEO, Andrew Puzder, Trump's pick for Labor Secretary who was criticized federal minimum wage increases.

SCHUMER: Mr. Puzder who's supposed to be for labor, has been pretty anti-worker when he was the head of Hardees.

BASH: Incoming White House Press-Secretary Sean Spicer says, Democrats should act as the GOP did eight years ago, allowing Democrats to confirm seven of Obama's nominees on the day he took office.

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Each of these individuals is an unbelievably agent of success and change. He's going to help this country move forward. And the idea that the Democrats' choice is to figure out from day one, how to oppose everyone in these individuals is just -- is frankly sad.

BASH: Democrats argue the difference now is that Trump is filling his cabinet with billionaires who haven't handed over enough information to be properly vetted.

Still, Democrats aren't just doing this to scrutinize Trump's nominees. This is also a way to try to mess up the GOP legislative agenda like repealing Obamacare by bearing the Senate floor with lengthy debates on nominees, which could take weeks or even months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Dana joins us now along with the panel, Margaret Hoover, Jeffrey Lord and Peter Beinart. So, Dana, even though the Democrats don't have the actual votes to block any of these nominees, I mean, what exactly is it they gain by delaying the process?

BASH: Attention and time. And the more time they have, the more attention they can get. And it's not so much for necessarily, it certainly didn't have a benefit, but it's not so much necessarily about potential conflicts of interest for these nominees. It's using the nominees as a vehicle to discuss policy issues that they represent. For example, take Tom Price at a health and human services for example. They -- if they delay that for a week, let's just say on the Senate floor. And by delaying it, it means you have to talk a lot.

They can talk a lot about the reasons why they think that the Republicans are wrong to repeal Obamacare and you can sort of go down the line from the EPA administrator on down.

At the end of the day, this is the most important thing. It's going to be very hard to see how they could possibly block any of these nominees and that's not really their goal. It is to get attention and also to unify the pretty fractured Democratic caucus around these ideas and around these sorts of anti-Republican messages.

COOPER: It's also, I mean, Margaret, the other way of looking this, you know, one way of looking this is that it's pretty cynical. It's the same thing that Democrats criticized Republicans for doing against President Obama which they did from the get go.

HOOVER: Yes, but it's not even apples to apples. Look, there is, as you said, a real risk to doing it. But even Republicans who, I mean, Democrats constantly cite Mitch McConnell saying, you know, his job was to make sure that Obama failed.

Republicans still confirmed all of Obama's cabinet nominees. I mean, he didn't slow a real any of them, even on the day he was inaugurated. Five of them were confirmed. I mean, there wasn't any kind of this.

So this actually, to me, represents more of this unraveling of just civility and the basic way this business has been done. It's sort of like peeling off layers of the big onion. It just sort of gets worse and worse and worse of each successive Congress.

COOPER: Well, Jeffrey, is it just unraveling the civility or is it unraveling on the Democratic Party trying to figure out what to do?

LORD: Right. Anderson, I've been through a number of these confirmation situations. And it is almost always exactly as Dana just described it.

They've got a policy difference with nominee A, B or C. But they don't want to go out there and say, they've already said that, you know. We don't want Obamacare repealed. But they are not going to touch that. What they're going to do is go after some conflict of interest. They'll find some other subject, and that's what they do.

And if the thing is big enough, then they hope to hammer the nominee into the ground and defeat it. But that's the M.O. always. And it's a pretty cynical game. And I would add, it's a dangerous game because at this point, one of the reasons Donald Trump is president is because so many people think these people are cynical politicians. And they're just going to reenforce that image doing this.

COOPER: Well, Peter, what about, I mean, should Democrats do this?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that, ultimately, these people deserve a vote. I'm sure that they will -- almost all of them will be confirmed. And I agree they should have the votes at the same time process that happened for Obama nominees. I don't think that there should be some excessive, you know, delay.

But I do think that there is an important principle here about whether these people are going to give over the same information that previous cabinet nominees did. We know that Donald Trump has changed the rules when it comes to himself, right, unlike all the other presidential nominees, he didn't release his tax returns.

[20:45:07] I think it's important to try to hold the line and make sure this doesn't become true of the entire Trump Administration. So, on that point, as if the Democrat --

COOPER: Well, we should point out though, that Donald Trump didn't change the rules. There was no rules --

BEINART: No, right. These are unwritten -- these are kind of unwritten terms of norms.

COOPER: -- president.

BEINART: Norms that people have abided by. And I think they're important norms.

HOOVER: They are important norms, but the difference, fortunately, is that for cabinet level officials and everybody else in these executive agencies, they're statutes. I mean there are laws. They have to just main --

COOPER: Right. More binding than it is actually for president candidates. Right, Dana, go ahead.

BASH: And, yeah, I just want to add, I think Peter is exactly right that, you know, as cynical as this is and, you know, shocking, there is politics in Washington, there is a difference. Margaret points out that the Republicans, who were in the minority, when President Obama took office allowed seven nominees to be approved the day he was inaugurated. That is true.

But the Democrats rightly point out that those nominees had given all their paperwork. They didn't just hear from the president-elect that this is the person who I want to nominate and that's the end of it. But they actually got all their information to the appropriate committee so they can get the trains moving on time.

And that's why one of the reasons, what legitimate reasons why Democrats are saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, we're not going to move this fast, especially in a day and age where we're supposed to say that politics, as usual, is going to be different. And these people are not going to be bought and sold because that's what Donald Trump ran on. We want to make sure that that's the case.

So, it is cynical, politically, but there is some -- it's understandable that they're doing that on the other hand.

COOPER: Dana, do you think there is some chance that some of this in the middle of the road Republicans that there might be enough that one or more of these confirmations actually doesn't get through?

BASH: Probably not. You know, there is always the exception. There is always a chance that we learn something about one of these nominees that we didn't expect. Who would have thought eight years ago that Tom Dashal who had been the Democratic leader in the Senate would sink as the nominee for treasury secretary because he had his own personal tax issue?

So you never know. I probably the more likely scenario and are more likely thing that we're going to look for is how many Democrats peel off from their party and support the president's nominees.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody on our panel tonight. Just ahead, more breaking news. The killer, the terrorist who attacked in the Istanbul night club on New Year's Eve, still at large tonight as the man hunt intensifies. We are learning more about some of his victims and also clues he left behind.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:51:30] COOPER: Well, the other breaking news tonight, we're following the escalating manhunt for the terrorist who gun downed dozens of people on New Years Eve in Istanbul. Authorities have released photos of the suspect to Turkish media including one, apparently, taken from this video making the rounds on social media.

As we've said on the top to program, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which claimed victims from across the globe, men and women celebrating the start of a New Year at a popular club when they came under fire. Here again is our Sara Sidner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: Video from a party inside the upscale reign on night club the moment Istanbul entered 2017.

Just 75 minutes later, mayhem. Flashes from a gun held by a man as he begins his killing spree. First outside, shooting a police officer and security guard, then he opened fire inside. 39 people are killed, 69 injured, the victims from all over the world, including the United States.

WILLIAM RAAK, AMERICAN VICTIM OF TURKISH NIGHTCLUB ATTACK: I got shot in the fucking leg, man. He's crazy. People came and shooting everything.

SIDNER: William Jacob Raak survived the night of terror. Seven of the nine people he entered the club with left with bullet ones. Raak, now heading home.

RAAK: For me, I wake up in the United States, I eat breakfast. You guys wake up and have to think of this, it's so sad. And I really wish everybody here the best.

SIDNER: But the worse was yet to come for the victims' families. 24 hours after the massacre, the funerals began this one for Fatih Cakmak, another security guard. His mother's moans pierce the silence.

His father in shocked. His son had survived this car bomb attack three weeks ago at an Istanbul stadium, but not the nightclub massacre.

HASAN CAKMAK, FAITH CAKMAK'S FATHER: (Speaking foreign language).

SIDNER: "He was one in a million. If he wasn't special, hundreds of people would not have bothered to show up here," he says.

This sorrow will be multiplied 39 times. This is just one of the families forced to say good bye to their young loved ones after the reign in night club attack.

27 of the 39 victims were foreign nationals, including a film producer and a fashion designer from India, a beautiful 19-year old Israeli citizen with a full life awaiting her.

A massive manhunt is now underway for the man believed to be the lone attacker. Turkish authorities say they have his fingerprints and image but still have not caught him.

The aim of the attack, though, has come into focus as ISIS claimed responsibility, using social media, saying in part, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday.

But the majority killed were Muslim, many from Saudi, Arabia. The killer's ideology against the western ideals failing to change minds but succeeding in sowing sorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Sara joins us tonight from Istanbul. So, this manhunt in the video that just out, the alleged attacker, I mean, do Turkish authorities think they're closer to catching him?

SIDNER: They do. They think they're getting closer and closer with every new clue that they've been able to find. But, Anderson, it is now been more than 48 hours since this attacked happened there at the course border with theory here. And they do not know the attacker's name, and they do not know his whereabouts at this hour.

COOPER: And Turkey is experienced, I mean, a big uptick in attacks, have they all been claimed by ISIS?

SIDNER: No. Interestingly, there have been times when the government thought that ISIS perpetrated the attack.

[20:55:04] But, this is the first time, Anderson, which makes it significant, that ISIS has officially said that it was behind this terrible massacre.

COOPER: And you mentioned some of the security? I mean how much security was there at this club? Do we know?

SIDNER: We know that there were at least two security guards because two security guards were killed. We also know there was a policeman who was killed.

And in this particular neighborhood, Anderson, it's quite a place where a lot of people end up going, because there are cafes that are affordable. There are shops that people go to. And at night, there are a lot of nightclubs. The Reina nightclub is the most famous. But certainly, there are others in the area.

So it's usually filled with people, and Istanbul was on high alert. There was a bigger police presence in the neighborhood than there has been in a while because of all the premise attacks, including the attack in December, where the security guard that we just showed who died in this particular attack, avoided being killed when there was a bombing at stadium, Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner. Sara, thanks for the reporting. More breaking news ahead tonight, including the new evidence that appears to weaken President-elect Trump's claim that we don't know who hacked the e- mails of the Democratic Party officials and Hillary Clinton's campaign chief. More on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Good evening. Top in the hour breaking news, digital fingerprints that intelligence officials say may make their hacking case against Russia even stronger and weaken President-elect Trump repeated claims that we just do not know.

Mr. Trump says, he knows things that the public does and he revealed them shortly.