Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

The Twitter Presidency?; Trump Promises News Conference Next Week; Hillary & Bill Clinton at Trump's Inauguration; Trump Claims Intel Briefing Delayed. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 3, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: President Barack Obama making a rare trip to Capitol Hill tomorrow, trying to save Obamacare. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Donald Trump promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but how much of the rest of the Obama legacy will survive? But first what is wrong with this picture? Who is that? Joseph Cinque, known by colorful name Joey "No Socks."

He is a convicted felon who was once linked with the infamous mob boss, John Gotti. So what is he doing sharing the stage with president-elect. We'll discuss that.

Let's get right to CNN's White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, with the very latest on Donald Trump's long-awaited news conference. Good evening, Michelle. The president-elect hasn't held a news conference since late July, but that's changing. What can you tell us?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So a tweet comes out tonight announcing this, saying, I will be having a general news conference on January 11th in NYC. Thank you. So this is a news conference that's been long anticipated by reporters.

He campaigned constantly criticizing Hillary Clinton on how long it had been, you know, at one point, it was more than 270 days since she had spoken to the press in that format.

Well, for him it's gone on more than 150 days or so, you know, depending on what you consider his interactions with the press. So now he's going to have this. He's expected to address his business dealings, how he's going to handle his many business interests.

He's expected to add much clarity to that, but he's saying this is a general news conference so other things are going to come too. I will say that he did have a little interaction with the press on New Year's Eve.

So we've heard from him since then, but this is a full-on news conference where, you know, reporters are going to throw anything they got at him. LEMON: And it is a little bit more important now, actually a lot more because he is the president-elect of the United States. He's not just a candidate anymore.

KOSINSKI: Yes. There's a lot to talk about.

LEMON: He's also tweeting about Russian hacking tonight. What is he saying, Michelle?

KOSINSKI: Yes, I mean, this was interesting. Take a look at this tweet because the way it's formatted is just as interesting and perhaps confusing as the way it's worded. The quote, "Intelligence briefing on so-called Russian hacking," also in quotes, "was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange."

Well, members of the intelligence community talking to CNN think that this tweet is very strange. That wouldn't be the first time necessarily, but this is once again, you know, putting intelligence in quotes, so called Russian hacking in quotes.

He essentially once again calling into question the work of top intelligence officials in the country and their conviction that Russia was behind the hacking of those Democratic websites with the view of influencing the presidential election.

So that raises questions on its own. But as to what exactly he's referring to, intelligence officials are not sure either. I mean, he had a daily briefing this morning. It wasn't like a deep dive on the Russian hacking, which is they think maybe what he was expecting.

But he is going to meet with intelligence officials on Friday for something they've been trying to organize with the Trump campaign. However, what he seems to be referring to comprehensive review into the hacking that President Obama ordered, that's not done yet.

President Obama hasn't seen it yet. So they're confused and they think that he might be confused, but apparently right now, we are not getting any more clarity as to what exactly he meant.

LEMON: I'm confused. I'm sure the people at home are confused. So now that we're done with the tweets of the day, Michelle, how exactly is the White House preparing for the new administration? Because right after Trump was elected, there were reports that his team was surprised by having to staff the west wing. Why would one be surprised by that?

KOSINSKI: Yes, I mean, you hear these kinds of dribs and drabs of conversation from current staffers, their concerns about the preparation of the team, their view -- you know, of what they think the job is compared to what it really entails. Are there going to be people to fill these positions?

He's been quick with many of his appointments, but we've heard rumblings especially from national security community that they haven't been having meetings as much as the current transition team, you know, the team within the White House that's working on the transition would like to see.

So there have been plenty of meetings. I mean, Trump team officials have been coming to the White House and to offices around Washington to hammer this all out. It just remains to be seen, you know, how quickly this all gets done and what that preparation level really is.

[23:05:05]LEMON: Michelle Kosinski, our White House correspondent in Washington this evening. Thank you, Michelle. I appreciate that.

As the Obama presidency comes to an end, how will America change especially as it comes to race? Let's discuss now with F. Michael Higginbotham, the author of "Ghosts of Jim Crow" and CNN political contributor, Van Jones joins us well. Good evening, Gentlemen.

Van, you first, a new year and we're at the last few weeks of President Obama's presidency. He's going to be giving a farewell in Chicago next week then the week after that, the week after that, Donald Trump is inaugurated. So explain for me how you see this change that we're about to go through as a country. What can we expect?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, it's going to be a very I think emotional moment for people like myself who were hope and changers eight years ago. Showing up in Washington, D.C., with bright eyes thinking that Dr. King's dream had come true and going to make the whole country amazing.

It's going to be emotional moment to hear his final farewell when there are things you cannot take back. I mean, there are 10.5 million net new jobs. Whenever Donald Trump saves like 13 jobs, everybody jumps up and down.

This guy gave us 10.5 net million new jobs, those things can't be taken away. We've got out on some of those tough wars. We got through some tough times.

But hope that we had inaugurated some whole new era when it comes to race, obviously election of a Donald Trump who ran such a divisive campaign on the issues of race, those hopes did not come true. So it's going to be bitter sweet.

LEMON: So you heard the president when he spoke to David Axelrod, he says sometimes those changes, Van, I'll get to Michael in just a second. Sometimes those changes don't show up in elections. They don't show up in politics. They may go through the culture, but it may not show up politically. Do you disagree with that?

JONES: I do agree with that. You know, I have always said that Obama's power as president was always second to his power as precedent. In other words people around the world, children around the world including in the United States seeing someone who looked that way with that kind of a name doing something extraordinary.

He set a precedent for a whole generation of kids globally and that's going to pay itself off again and again. And also Michelle Obama did the same thing. So that stuff you can't take back. You can't un-ring that bell, but in the narrow confines of politics, you got to have some disappointment.

LEMON: Michael, I want to talk about Donald Trump's victory. There's a great piece on cnn.com where historians discuss Trump's winning described as revolt by white working-class voters, but that it had little to do with racism or xenophobia, calling it racial amnesia. What do you think about that?

F. MICHAEL HIGGINBOTHAM, AUTHOR, "GHOSTS OF JIM CROW": Well, I think there's a lot of merit to the argument that lot of Americans are in denial about the significance of race in America today. I've written a couple of books talking about just how far we've come but also how far we still need to go.

And unfortunately, race is still so significant in our society today and as Van mentioned, Donald Trump ran a very divisive campaign where he used a lot of racial rhetoric.

And people voted for Trump for many reasons, but I think some voted for him because that racial rhetoric appealed to them. For me it's unfortunate because those people that voted for Trump because they were upset with Washington or disappointed with their own economic situations, to me the racial rhetoric should have prohibited those individuals from voting for Trump.

That should have disqualified. Unfortunately, many of those individuals seemed to discount the racial rhetoric or ignore it. To me that's very unfortunate because that reflects a Jim Crow mentality from days gone by.

LEMON: Van Jones has reported here when he went around to interview a lot of those Trump supporters that it wasn't disqualifying for them. But I want to dig deeper because the article goes on to say that this is -- that this racial amnesia is similar to what we saw after the civil war, defeated confederates argued that the civil war was about states' rights and not slavery. Are we seeing a rewriting of history now, Michael?

HIGGINBOTHAM: I think we are and the comparisons are fascinating and I think very accurate "Birth of A Nation," which most individuals, Americans, know about, it was a rewriting of history about reconstruction, basically glorifying the Klu Klux Klan and suggesting that they were the saviors of the south rather than a racist terrorist organization.

And I think we are seeing that to an extent today with the denial about the significance of race for some Trump supporters. Remember Trump ran a very divisive campaign on race.

[23:10:06]He initially -- when he announced he talked about Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. He talked about a Muslim ban for all Muslims coming to America. I mean, these were clearly racist notions and unfortunately, it resonated with some Americans.

LEMON: But many of his supporters did not see it that way and Van, on election night, you called Donald Trump's win white-lash. You're also saying that what he said about race was not the disqualifying, which is interesting because when you look at marginalized people, the issues -- you said people voted on economics. When you look at it for marginalized people those things translate into economics for them.

JONES: Well, absolutely. I mean, part of the thing that's so tough and one of the reasons why I did this special called "The Messy Truth" is that it's messy. People say it was only racial resentment and antagonism from Trump voters, well, that's not true. There were other issues.

Then say well, it was not that at all. It was only economics for every single Trump voter. That's also not true. What you have is -- it's marbled together, some of these racial resentments marbled in with some of these economic concerns, anti-elitism.

Some of the stuff that he won on was stuff that Bernie Sanders was winning on for some voters, but there were some voters for whom the racial appeals were powerful. The thing that's most heartbreaking for me is that those racially charged statements were not disqualifying.

For some people -- I didn't like that stuff. I don't feel that way. I wouldn't want my kid talking that way, but I didn't care enough about that. The other issues were not important. So it was distasteful but not disqualifying.

That's where the heartbreak is, where people knew it was wrong what he was saying that they didn't care enough to vote on that basis. That means it's a messy situation for all Americans. They have to listen to each other more carefully to really understand how you make sense of this going forward.

LEMON: Michael, what will Obama's legacy be on race, President Obama's legacy be on race? And how do you think the incoming president will change or build on that?

HIGGINBOTHAM: Well, I think that one thing that can never be taken away from President Obama is that he was the first non-white president in the United States. Firsts follow people. George Washington was the first president. JFK was the first Catholic president.

Those followed them for the rest of their lives and this will follow Obama. It can never be taken away. I think also Obama's legacy on race is very significant in that he appointed the first Latina to the Supreme Court.

Justice Sotomayor will be on the court for many years. She is a strong advocate for racial equality and you will see that in her opinions as well as in her descents.

He also had Eric Holder as the first black attorney general, very strong on equality. His investigations of law enforcement in a number of cities particularly after racial incidents was very powerful and thorough. And I think will be very effective in the future.

LEMON: Thank you, Gentlemen. Appreciate it. See you soon. Happy New Year. When we come right back, the president-elect and a convicted felon. Why Donald Trump took the stage on New Year's Eve with the man known as Joey No Socks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:16:55]

LEMON: The president-elect spent New Year's Eve at a bash at his estate in Mar-a-Lago surrounded by family, friends and a crowd of well-wishers including one who goes by the colorful name Joey "No Socks," a convicted felon whose real name is Joseph Cinque.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joins me now with more. So what do we know about this guy?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, these are two guys that know each other very, very well. Donald Trump seems to be disavowing his knowledge of Joey "No Socks" Cinque at the moment, but this is a guy raising questions because he's a convicted felon able to get so close to the president-elect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Joseph Cinque, a.k.a. Joey No Socks, convicted of a felony in 1989 for art theft, celebrating next to the president- elect on New Year's Eve.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. It's a great honor.

MARQUEZ: Cinque's current lawyer insists the art was legally owned by him, but the New York Supreme Court says Joey No Socks pled guilty and his conviction still stands. He was given a conditional discharge and served no jail time. Trump and Cinque go way back. In 2008, they shared a stage at the Miss Universe contest, Trump calling him Joe.

TRUMP: By the way, Joe is probably one of the most important men in the hotel industry.

MARQUEZ: In 2009, Trump was given an award by Cinque, one of many bestowed on Trump and his properties by Cinque over a decade.

TRUMP: I'd especially like to congratulate and thank Joe Cinque, the head of the academy, for the unbelievable job that he does.

MARQUEZ: And last year at Trump's Mar-a-Lago New Year's Eve celebration.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Joe.

MARQUEZ: Again, Joey "No Socks" Cinque front and center with Donald Trump. Last May, Trump told the "Associated Press" he didn't know him well and wasn't aware of his conviction.

DAVID K. JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP": Let's assume Donald Trump doesn't know who this guy is. Wow. Donald Trump is so unaware and doesn't have people around him to warn him that you're standing next to a convicted felon?

MARQUEZ: David K. Johnston for 30 years covered Trump's rough and tumble rise mostly for "The New York Times." His new book "The Making of Donald Trump" pulls no punches.

KINGSTON: I was absolutely shocked that Donald Trump, president- elect, would stand at a public forum next to a convicted felon, who claimed to be connected with John Gotti, credibly enough that the New York City prosecutor's office thought that that was a real connection.

MARQUEZ: The U.S. Secret Service declined to comment on the matter referring CNN to the Trump transition team, which also refused to comment on the relationship between Trump and Cinque. Several Mar-a- Lago members and guests who attended the party tell CNN there was no secret service background check prior to it, but they did go through metal detectors.

The Trump/Joey "No Socks" connection rooted in the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, an organization that over the years Trump has been listed as ambassador extraordinaire.

[23:20:10]JOHNSTON: Donald Trump proudly hangs at least 19 awards. You'll notice they're signed not just by Joey "No Socks," they are also signed by Donald J. Trump as chairman of the board.

MARQUEZ: Trump's signature is on some of the awards. It's like Trump giving himself an award.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Now the U.S. Secret Service does say that they're only there to protect the president or the president-elect physically. They are in control of the guest list. They transferred us over to the transition office to talk to them about it. They did not want to talk about Joseph "Joey No Socks" Cinque.

LEMON: Did he really say he didn't know him or didn't know him well?

MARQUEZ: He said he didn't know him well and wasn't aware of any conviction and sort of disavowed any knowledge of him that the transition office did not want to speak about him at all today. They referred us back to the (inaudible).

LEMON: People have been talking about Joseph Cinque and Donald Trump for years. I mean, you have all those footage of them together.

MARQUEZ: There's endless amounts of video of them.

LEMON: All right, I want you to standby because I want to bring in, David K. Johnston. He is the author of "The Making of Donald Trump." David, thank you for joining the show this evening.

Joey "No Socks" Cinque celebrated New Year's with the president-elect at Mar-a-Lago once reportedly survived a mob hit and was once associated with the infamous mob boss, John Gotti. You know, had people during the campaign especially during -- when the "Access Hollywood" tapes came out saying, I have heard Joey Cinque and Donald Trump in conversations and they are not surprised by this. What can you tell us about this relationship?

JOHNSTON: Well, it goes back many years. Joe Cinque has been at that party at Mar-a-Lago by his own account every year for more than a decade. Donald was chairman of the board at one time of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, which is basically a scam.

They sell for a price these awards that they give out including the ones that hang in at least 19 of the properties that Donald Trump owns. But the deeper problem here, Don, is this is the second time in a week now that Donald Trump has publicly stood with a serious criminal.

He was with Don King earlier. Don King stomped to death one of his employees over a $600 dispute back in the '60s. He was later pardoned, but fact is he killed the man. This is two people in one week.

And because Donald Trump's operating the way he is with his own security as well as Secret Service, we don't know what other criminals he's seeing currently, but we do know that Donald has spent his entire adult life deeply in the embrace of one of the biggest cocaine traffickers in America with violent convicted felons and mobsters, often gratuitously.

Donald comes with this in a family sort of way, his father's business partner was Willy (inaudible) identified in law enforcement reports as a front or an associate for the Gambino and Jen Vasy crime families in New York.

We've never had anything like this, Don. Most candidates for office or people holding office, if you found out that somebody made a donation, they never even met them. They just send in the donation.

They get rid of that money. They send it back, give to charity, and they distance themselves. Donald Trump puts his arms around these people.

LEMON: So that's the reason you think for the denial that he knew him well as Miguel reported and then you have all this evidence?

JOHNSTON: Donald denies all the time things that are very well documented in public record. He claims he hardly knows and couldn't identify in the same room, Felix Saiter, the son of the reputed Russian mob boss.

Well, there's videotape of him flying all around the country with Felix Saiter. Felix Saiter says they know each other very well. And by the way, that piece by Miguel and the producers working with him that is the clearest best piece that I've seen on this issues.

And I'm glad once I broke this story in essence by tweeting about it that you guys jumped on it and really terrific work by Miguel and the producers he's working with.

LEMON: I think Miguel must agree with that.

JOHNSTON: He should. He should be proud of that piece.

LEMON: It is true and since I have both of you, I have to say if Joey "No Socks" Cinque is a convicted felon, but his offense took place decades ago and he's paid his debt to society. Some would say what does it matter whether he's spending time with the president-elect? Miguel, you first?

MARQUEZ: Well, I mean, that's what they say basically, this is -- the Secret Service says look, this is not a crime that was dangerous, this was not something that he did that was going to get Donald Trump hurt. Everybody went through a magnetometer at this party and they don't control the guest list. So there is no security issue at least with him hanging out with this one individual.

LEMON: Yes, but is it the sort of the cover-up do you think, David, that -- I don't know this guy and I've never spent time with him, is that the worst part of it or I mean, do you think that they are some things there that are sort of clandestine relationships or dealings that maybe the public doesn't know about?

[23:25:11]JOHNSTON: Well, First of all, it's just lying. Donald has lied repeatedly in public about things where the public record or videotapes and photographs show that he's not telling the truth about his associations with people like this.

But the really troubling part is we don't know who else he's seeing or what are the deals he's doing? Look at effort to extort $4 billion from the biggest mining company in America, Free Port McMoran and Donald during the campaign holding up the extortionist as one of the people he really supports and he's friends with, posing like this for the cameras.

Donald has lots of deep connections including with the Russian oligarchs, who are essentially a network of international criminals sponsored by Vladimir Putin's government. We really need to know about these relationships and why Trump doesn't distance himself.

LEMON: Thank you, David. Thank you, Miguel. Appreciate it.

When we come right back, it doesn't look like Donald Trump will give up Twitter anytime soon, but what happens once he becomes president?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Donald Trump may be our first so-called Twitter president, but could that back fire? Let's discuss now, CNN political commentator, Kayleigh McEnany is here, CNN political contributor, Hilary Rosen, Alice Stewart, the former communications director for Ted Cruz, and CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers.

Good evening. Welcome all. Alice, you first, just in 24 hours Trump has been tweeting about everything from Russia, North Korea, China, Guantanamo Bay. What do you make of how Donald Trump is handling foreign policy in a 140 characters?

ALICE STEWART, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR OF TED CRUZ: Well, I don't see it changing. I think this has been his way from the very beginning of communicating his message directly to the people and oftentimes setting the narrative for those in media. And despite the Chuck Schumer's statement we're rattling today and saying we can't afford a Twitter presidency, I don't see it's going to change and be a high price to pay for anyone who tries to pry that Twitter phone out of Donald Trump's hand because I don't see it happening.

LEMON: OK. Hilary, you say that this tweeting style is going to backfire and provoke countries like North Korea. Explain that.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think that Alice is right. It's probably not going to change. And I think that Donald Trump is actually from his perspective being pretty smart because he wakes up and he drives the message of the day with his tweets.

On the other hand he's not being a very good -- you know, he won't be a very good president if that's what he does because he's not essentially getting into kind of the nuances and complexity of policy. There was an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal today that's he's constantly setting up a negotiation. So, you know, when my child wants to be provocative, he says the most aggressive thing possible to me and then I got to beat it out of him, you know, some sort of normal conversation.

LEMON: You bring up a -- you bring up a really good point, you know.

ROSEN: I think, you know, that's what it feels like Donald Trump is doing.

LEMON: You bring up a really good point because the media falls for it every time and they report, you know, on the tweets. We should say we report on the tweets.

Now, for me, there's much more importance of it, you know, Donald Trump saying he's going to hold a press conference coming out of Kellyanne Conway's mouth but straight from Donald Trump's mouth than it is from Donald Trump's Twitter feed because you don't get what it's about or nuance. Why do we keep reporting on tweets and that why can't it just be, you know, Kellyanne Conway say Donald Trump is going to hold a press conference? That carries more weight that a tweet, shouldn't it?

ROSEN: Well, we've consistently seen actually that Donald Trump contradicts his own staff. I mean he that all throughout the campaign. We saw it again today when Kellyanne made that comment about the House Ethics Committee action and then Trump went and took a different position. So I actually feel sorry for Kellyanne and the rest of the team who are going to be in that White House staff because the tweets seem to matter more than any policy communicated by any government officials in his administration.

LEMON: I have to ask you because if you look over his Twitter feed, this is for your Kayleigh, he has called his adversaries everything from dummies to losers to unattractive and pathetic. Do you think nothing is going to change once he becomes president? I know we've said he's going to pivot, he's going to change, he's going to -- do you -- but do you think exactly --

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he's going to be his real, authentic self. But I think if you look over the last few days or weeks, what we've seen, he's hammering home the top line message today with North Korea. We're not going to let this happen. They're not going to send a long-range ballistic missile here. But I think what we neglect is that we think that the entirety of Donald Trump's foreign policy or his engagements with other countries is going to be what in his tweet. Really, there ware going to be summits in the background, diplomatic communications talks between ambassadors and the top line message comes out on Twitter. I think maybe dummies and those sort of words will be left for the campaign so I do think we'll see a little bit of a change. And I think we've already seen one.

LEMON: You heard Hilary what said. She said it poses a problem for people like Kellyanne Conway. She said, you know, she was a little bit stronger in her language, I feel sorry for them. But even you, someone who is a Donald Trump supporter, sometimes you have to change your message when you come on the 5:00 or even at 5:30 or 6:00 because you might have said something else. Does that pose a problem you think when it's a 140-character diplomacy or messaging?

MCENANY: Look, I think it's important that everyone is on the same page but I also think sometimes we read into these nuances and think there's these divisions within. So with Kellyanne Conway today, we neglect the part of the Trump's tweet that he did say that, you know, this Ethics Board is unfair, nevertheless it shouldn't be what's on the agenda on day one. So I think sometimes you might see differences in nuances but I think that's just in communication.

LEMON: Bakari Sellers, Gerald Seib for the Wall Street Journal writes, he said, "Certainly there is a danger in leaving the world unsure which messages to take literally in trying to handle subjects as sensitive as nuclear weapons strategy on the fly. But it's also likely Mr. Trump knows exactly what he is doing." So what do you think, is Trump's communication style intentional?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's a good question. I don't think anybody knows the answer to that. You caught me off guard. That's somewhat of a trick question. Is it intentional? I think it's intentional at moment but I think it changes periodically throughout the day.

I think there are two things that we have to analyze when we're talking about Donald Trump's tweets. The first is I agree with you. I have no idea why the media covers his tweets the way they do. In fact, they lack context. They do a disservice to the American public and I just don't think that they're newsworthy per se.

[23:35:06] That's first. The second thing is they're dangerous. Donald Trump's tweets are very dangerous. My good friend Kayleigh just casually talked about a tweet about North Korea sending a ballistic missile to the United States. Casually talked about it because he put it in 140 characters. You simply cannot do when you're President of the United States, when you're dealing with diplomacy and even more importantly you're dealing with nuclear weapons. I mean I think that everybody wants Donald Trump to step up to the mantle of being President of the United States and he can use social media, he can use social media in very provocative ways. He can use social media in very good ways. But foreign policy and some of the dangerous things that he tweets out, I mean that -- it deserves more than 140 characters. And media has --

LEMON: But Bakari, you said you can't do as president. He's president-elect and he is doing it. And he -- there is probably -- you know, he's probably going to continue to do it as president, Kayleigh.

STEWART: Hey, Don.

MCENANY: And we're still here. There hasn't been a nuclear war yet. That -- it's to me, it's such --

SELLERS: Don't say yet. Don't say yet.

MCENANY: It's such -- I'm making a joke.

SELLERS: I mean that's a horrible statement.

MCENANY: I'm making --

LEMON: Let her finish her thought before we jump on --

MCENANY: I'm being satirical to illustrate a point. You give these apocalyptic predictions but I don't think it's controversial for the president-elect to come out on Twitter and say North Korea is not going to send a long-range ballistic missile here. That's pretty uncontroversial statement. I think your problem when you call it casual is because they came out on Twitter. But my earlier point was there going to be all sorts of diplomatic communications that's going on behind the scenes. And for the president-elect to put out a top line message on Twitter, I don't think that's a big deal.

STEWART: Hey, Don?

ROSEN: Let's talk something that might be a little more --

LEMON: Hilary, quickly because I got to get to the break, and we'll come back though.

ROSEN: Just a quick, a little more serious which is his tweet attacking the intelligence agencies today and the so-called Russian hacking. You know, he said at one point during the campaign, "Well, I'm not going to give away my plans that lets foreigners, you know, know what I might do." And yet he's willing to tell the entire world that he does not believe the U.S. intelligence agencies' information. I mean, you can't have that conversation in a tweet. It's just so unbelievably wrong and dangerous, and calls into question so much of global U.S. strategy. So I think Kayleigh is kind of parsing through some of, you know, the least harmful things, but there are a lot of examples just over the last week of things that he has said that are dangerous and that require more explanation.

LEMON: We'll discuss more right after the break. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:16] LEMON: We're back. Donald Trump hasn't held a news conference since the end of July but that is about to change. Now back with me now, Kayleigh McEnany, Hilary Rosen, Alice Stewart and Bakari Sellers. Alice, you wanted to make a point about the 140- character diplomacy?

STEWART: Sure. Having worked with Ted Cruz, someone who is a recipient of some of those harsh tweets from Donald Trump, sure, it's frustrating and if I had my way, it wouldn't have happened. But I come from -- I also come from the old school of communications when it comes to campaigning and serving in elected office where you hold a press conference and fully flesh out your policies. That's not going to be the way moving forward. Donald Trump has set a new style for how he wants to lead, how he wants to govern, how we wants to get his message out. And while many people think Twitter is now a four-letter word, I think we all just need to embrace it. It's a new era, it's a new age, we're going to have a new president-elect and we all just have to get used to it because things are going to be different.

LEMON: I think everyone has embraced Twitter. The thing is though is that, Hilary, if you can -- when you're the leader of the free world, precision is important. You must be precise. And one thing that many people are happy about is that he has announced that there is -- he's going to hold a news conference on January 11th. So in that where the journalists can ask him questions, he can respond, you can get nuance, you can get clarification, what are you hoping to hear?

ROSEN: Well, I think also the frame is important. This isn't just a narrative that the Republicans are trying to create that say, oh, yeah, we're just all old school. You know, you want things like, you know, real long explanations, but Twitter is the way of the future. I think this is about accountability. And when you have that kind of one-way communication and untruths which, you know, this guys says as we saw, you know, multiple times in the last couple of weeks on Twitter, there's nobody really responding saying, "Wait a minute, you know, how -- what's your evidence for that Mr. President-Elect?"

And so that's what I think we will see a lot of at the news conference. I think if he had done actually less tweeting and more communicating over the last three weeks, this first news conference would be a lot less confrontational. I expect it to be very confrontational on everything from are you lying about Ford to, you know, what are your relationship really been with Vladimir Putin and what conversations have you had behind the scenes? Why are you doubting the intelligence agencies on the election hacking? You know, what's your connection with the House Ethics Committee? So I think we're going to see a very combative news conference.

LEMON: Jeez, Hilary, you're going to be at that new conference. You have a lot of questions.

ROSEN: And I think it's going to -- my guess is it will shut Trump down again for several months more because he won't be able to handle the scrutiny.

MCENANY: I don't think so. Look, he is the -- out of all the primary contenders, he was the one who took the hard interviews. He is the one who went to every single news station regardless of how he felt they depicted him and gave everyone an interview. That was in the primary. I agree he needs to give this new conference. It's been a while. It's been a long time. But the idea that he can handle it, he handled it all throughout the primary and went back and went back for some more despite getting beatings from some of the interviewers. So I think he absolutely can handle it and I don't think Donald Trump is someone who's going to go away and shy and, you know --

ROSEN: He hasn't met the press in 160 days. But he had interviews with Sean Hannity on Fox News that were, you know, softballs. But hasn't actually met the press in almost 200 days, the same amount of time that he has criticized so many others for.

LEMON: There was Chris Wallace too that he did interview but go ahead Bakari.

SELLERS: Right. But that -- I mean I think there are few things that we need to tackle. This isn't the first press conference he's said he's going to have. So we need to make sure this conference actually comes off because he is supposed to discuss his conflicts of interest before and he refused to do that.

[23:45:04] And so I believe this press conference is going to be a general press conference where various issues can be asked. But I mean one of the things that the American public deserves to know the answer to are his conflicts of interest and how he plans on untangling those. We know his business interests are very vast and go throughout the world.

I mean you talk about somebody who owns $650 million to the Bank of China who's also, you know, in any of the Chinese state bank that's one of the largest tenants in Trump Tower. I mean, it's these things that when you see him tweet about China on Twitter, you have to wonder, you know, is there a true conflict of interest. But something else that people just don't mention enough is the simple fact that Donald Trump lies, and Donald Trump lies a lot.

And that's going to be very difficult for journalist and that's going to be very difficult for the media to handle even in a press conference. I think Kayleigh is actually right when she's discussing with Hilary the fact that he handles press conferences and he handles media very well because Donald Trump simply lies. And I think that it's our job to call them out on a number of occasions. I mean Donald Trump today in his most recent tweet about the National Intelligence Agencies, he lied. I mean he simply lied. The intelligence agencies had to come out and say that there was no intention for them to meet today. They were always going to meet on Friday. MCENANY: First, the "New York Times" says they're unable to confirm whether that's true or not. Sure, the intel community is saying one thing, Trump saying another. But in terms of lying --.

SELLERS: No, that's a lie.

MCENANY: -- the press handled Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton for more than a decade and they're not necessarily known for their truthfulness.

STEWART: And one thing while we're going down the list of the interviews he's on, we can't forget sitting down with Lesley Stahl, also the "New York Times" about very substantive sit down roundtable with the "New York Times" recently which I think a lot of good information came out of that. I do agree with Hilary. This will be a tough news conference as it should be. It's been quite some time since he's met with the press. Every single topic that she mentioned and more will be on the table. But I think it will be helpful for him to reengage with the press, reengage with the people that's asking questions on a daily basis and put some of this to rest, which I do think a lot of questions that have been out there will be put to rest and behind him once he is able to sit down with the press.

LEMON: To lie or not to lie. Bakari and Kayleigh, that's an interesting conversation. Why don't we continue on the other side? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:51:01] LEMON: I want to get back to the conversation we're talking about. You know, Bakari, your word said Donald -- you said Donald Trump lies a lot. Kayleigh took issue with that. There was a conversation on "Meet the Press" about he called them untrues, Dan Rather responding Facebook saying that the press must call Donald Trump on his lies and he called it a lie is a lie is a lie. Why did you say that, Bakari?

SELLERS: Because it's the truth. I mean the fact to the matter is, if you say something that is not accurate, if you intentionally say something that is misleading. If you intentionally say something that you know not to be the case, then fundamentally it's a lie. And so let me explain to you and the viewers what that means.

Today when Donald Trump tweets out that the intelligence agencies were supposed to meet with him today and it's somehow so-called just changed and it sounds so strange to him, and then we found out that the intelligence agencies actually didn't say they were going to meet today, they were going to meet on Friday. That is a lie.

I mean, this happens repeatedly with Donald Trump and we have to call it what it is. Now, if that's how he wants to conduct his presidency, if that's how he wants to conduct his press conferences, then so be it. It's the duty for everyone else to open their eyes and as Dan Rather said, call a lie is a lie is a lie.

MCENANY: But here is -- none of us know what happened, the conversation behind the scenes. Donald Trump was under the impression this was happening tomorrow. I know there were some disputes after whether it would happen in person or whether it was going to happen not in person. But that is unclear as to those conversations.

And I think what you said, Bakari, is really important. You said a lie is an intent to mislead which is exactly what Gerard Baker said that Dan Rather has such a problem with and he's exactly right. I was just looking up the list of some "Trump lies" and one of them was when he asked, you know, Wisconsin, there is a 20 percent unemployment rate here and he was inquiring about it but it was classified as a lie. That was not an intent to mislead but we're so quick to just label everything a lie when in fact there was not an intent there to mislead anyone at all.

LEMON: But if you're not 100 percent sure, why put it out there? Go ahead, Bakari.

MCENANY: He was asking questions.

SELLERS: But even more importantly, you repeated that -- you actually repeated that Donald Trump lie a number of times and I've had to correct you in the fact that Donald Trump quote this African-American unemployment rate at being like 52 percent or 53 percent when we know that's not the case, when we know that there was an intent to deceive, when we know it's not the truth.

And I don't mind calling it a lie. I don't mind telling Donald Trump to his face that he has a problem with the truth. And we can actually -- and I know that there is going to be this deflection by the right and people are going to say Hillary Clinton this or the Clinton is that. But the fact of that matter is, Donald Trump is the President- Elect of the United States of America and Donald Trump has a problem with the truth.

MCENANY: That's not true. And, Bakari, how many times does people come on this program and they said he's called Mexican immigrants rapist? That is, in my mind, an absolute lie. If you look at the nuance of the statement, it was when Mexico sends people, the government. That to me is a lie. So this is the point. We're getting into semantics here about what you could be labeled a lie. You can call his statement a lie and I call yours a lie.

SELLERS: We're not. We're not.

STEWART: If you want to talk about lies, you can't -- if we want to talk about lies, we can't forget Barack Obama saying if you like your doctor, you can keep it. And so that's just one of many that comes to mind when it comes to Barack Obama. I think --

LEMON: Listen. Wait, wait, hold on, hold on, hold on.

STEWART: I think it's important that all elected officials are --

LEMON: There are a lot of people and a lot of politicians who say things that they may not live up to or what have you, but if Donald Trump doesn't tell the truth, what's wrong with pointing it out? He is the President-Elect of the United States.

SELLERS: But --

LEMON: We're not going to go back to -- and by the way we're talking about, you know, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton or whatever. I mean, quite frankly they're fairly irrelevant right now because Hillary Clinton is not the President-Elect of the United States.

SELLERS: And that's not the biggest lie. And with all due respect, that's not the biggest lie that you think about when you think about Barack Obama and having this kind of conversation about Donald Trump. The biggest lie you think about is the fact that Donald Trump again went on Twitter and actually said that he on good sources have proof that Barack Obama's birth certificate was fake. That is a lie. Donald Trump lied about the President of United States multiple times. Donald Trump lies and he lies compulsively.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I've got to move on. I've got to move on. I've got to move on.

ROSEN: Just one quick thing which is we do need to distinguish between political promises and actual statements of fact.

[23:55:07] LEMON: OK, Hilary, I want to ask you this because we're talking Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, all the first ladies are going to be there, all the former presidents are going to be there at the inauguration. It's got to be -- and of course there's no doubt that Hillary Clinton is going to show up. She had to. She's the former first lady. Her husband was president. She's going to have to sit there at this inauguration. That's going to be interesting to watch.

ROSEN: It's going to be, I think frankly extremely difficult for Hillary Clinton. I think it's -- it would be difficult for any one who lost in such a close election knowing that she had the majority of the American people voting for her but lost, you know 50,000 votes in key state. So she's going to sit there I'm sure hoping the best for the country but, you know, you can't help but fanaticize in that moment what you would be saying if the situation were different. So look, I admire for showing up and by the way, I expect that the Trumps are going to be extremely gracious to both her and President Clinton because the day calls for -- the moment calls for it.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Happy New Year to all you. Thank you so much. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)