GOP Reverses Plan To Gut Ethics Panel After Trump Tweets; Interview with Rep. Tom Cole; Tensions Rise After Trump Taunts North



Interview with Rep. Tom Cole; Tensions Rise After Trump Taunts North

Korea; Interview with John Kirby; Ford Scraps Mexico Plans, Cites

"Confidence" in Trump; Aide: Trump Won't Discuss Russian Hack

Tomorrow, Despite Promise. Aired 7-8p ET - Part 2>

BURNETT: Miguel, thank you.

And OUTFRONT now, let's go straight to it. Former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord, and former Clinton White House aide, Keith Boykin. This is a guy who claims a relationship to Gotti, convicted felon. You know, you saw the whole thing.

Why is Trump hanging around with this guy?


BURNETT: Even though he said a few months ago he doesn't. He clearly does. Yes.

LORD: I mean, there we are.

Donald Trump, first of all, if he meets you for ten minutes, he's going to be a pretty loyal guy to you, number one. But number two, I mean, I do think with all due respect, this is overplayed. This guy has some problem in his past. The gentleman we just said here said that why would the president-elect will next to somebody?

I mean, a convicted drug smuggler was there in the Clinton White House posing for a Christmas party picture with Hillary Clinton shortly after he paid money to Al Gore for the 2000 race. We can get well into the CIA and (INAUDIBLE) sharing a mistress with the president of the United States. This isn't even close to this kind of thing. This isn't even close to this kind of thing.


LORD: And let's go with Barack Obama, I mean, this is just --

BURNETT: Because they're all hanging out with convicted felons.

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: We just had an election in November where a certain guy named Donald Trump said he was going to drain the swamp, that he was going to get rid of the shady business dealings, and now your excuse is everybody does this, it's not a problem.

LORD: No, no, no.


BURNETT: Those were politicians he was talking about.

BOYKIN: Of course, it's OK when a billionaire does it.

LORD: I don't know anything about the guy, but I just think that --

BURNETT: Joey No Socks.

LORD: Joey No Socks.

BOYKIN: But Donald Trump does, and that's the problem. You know, Donald Trump is surrounding himself with yes people. He needs better people to give him advice because somebody should tell him don't neat with convicted felons on New Year's Eve. Don't tweet every day. Somebody needs to tell him not to suck up to Russian dictators and CEOs who want to curry his favor because somebody says something nice about him.

BURNETT: There's something else at the heart of it which is how Trump has handled the attention on Joey No Socks, OK? He said in May he did not know Joey No Socks very well, OK?

Obviously, that piece would show that to not be the case on the surface level. He appeared in a tribute video for him. Let me play what Trump said about Joey No Socks.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'd especially like to congratulate and thank Joey Cinque, the head of the academy, for the unbelievable job that he does. There's nobody like him. He's a special guy. There's just nobody close.


LORD: Erin --

BURNETT: Either he speaks that glowingly of somebody he doesn't know at all, which is its own issue, or he knows him.

LORD: News flash, I personally have spent decades going to events where some political figure will stand up and say glowing things about somebody they hardly know.

BURNETT: A special guy.

LORD: Yes, indeed. Not only that, they have speechwriters that do this for them.

I just don't even think -- I mean, we're dealing with ISIS, we're dealing with Obamacare, we're dealing -- I mean, I just don't think this is anywhere on the radar.


BURNETT: Fundamental honesty matter of whether you ask, do you know somebody and you say, I don't know them that well when again and again you're seen with him?

LORD: He may not know about this guy, I mean, that's entirely possible.

BOYKIN: Jeffrey, that's not possible. It's not even plausible. This is why it matters. It's not just Joey No Socks. It's Don King, who's also a convicted felon. It's the Russian immigrant who was another convicted felon who's involved in the Trump Soho project.

Trump has a history of dealing with shady people and he says he hires and will surround himself with the best people. There's no evidence of that. We see is evidence of corruption and pay to play and crookedness, the same stuff he accused other people of engaging in, he's doing that now.

LORD: I don't see that at all.

BOYKIN: People see more when the hearings happen because there's plenty of evidence. Look, for example, at General Michael Flynn, a conspiracy theorist who's been appointed --

LORD: Are you saying General Flynn is a crook?

BOYKIN: I'm saying he's a conspiracy theorist and Trump doesn't pick the best people. He doesn't surround himself with the best people. This is another indication.

Why is he meeting with Don King and Joey No Socks and not having intelligence briefings? He doesn't have time for intelligence briefings. He has time to tweet every day.

LORD: That's not so.

BOYKIN: His lack of seriousness of the job of president.

LORD: All I can say is we litigated all this kind of stuff in the campaign. It's over, my friend, and I know it's a new year and there's a new president-elect.

BOYKIN: Not acting like a president of the United States.

LORD: As you think the president should behave.

BOYKIN: You think the president should be associated with the criminals?

LORD: Of course not.

BOYKIN: Then it's not just --

LORD: Of course not.

BOYKIN: We agree.

LORD: Unless he's about to become attorney general of the United States, I don't think you have to worry.

BOYKIN: If you held the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to the same standard, I would feel comfortable about that. Donald Trump said he was going to drain the swamp and there's every evidence he's not doing it.

LORD: I mean, the drain the swamp is about lobbyists and consultants in Washington, not about --

BOYKIN: Not about criminals? Convicted criminals?


LORD: I never heard of him. I don't think he's player in Washington. (CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Thank you both.

Next, Ford scrapping plans to build a plant in Mexico. Ford says it's good business but Trump is getting all the credit.

And Trump's pal Putin has a strange habit of appearing in public half dressed. Is there a method to his seeming madness? Well, tonight, Putin's onetime top aide speaks out.


[19:40:50] BURNETT: New tonight, Donald Trump taunting Ford's decision to reverse course on a plant in Mexico, instead upgrade a facility in Michigan. Now, the CEO of Ford, Mark Fields, says Trump's policies are crucial to the decision, but it wasn't because Trump said he had to do it, nothing because of that. That's the Ford view.

The announcement comes on the same day Trump took another carmaker to task, General Motors, saying GM should not be building one of its models in Mexico. Trump tweets, "General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers, tax-free across border, make in the USA or pay a big border tax."

And Poppy Harlow is at a Ford plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, tonight.

Poppy, you sat down with Ford's CEO. So they're going to cancel this Mexican plant. Plans for this. Why?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's a huge cancellation, a $1.6 billion plant. It is in part political and it is in part, they say, driven by the business environment right now.

I should note, Erin, when you look at all of this, there has been no love lost between the president-elect and Ford. They have quite a long history trading barbs back and forth. At one point, the president-elect even said Ford was going to fire all of its workers in the United States. That is just not true.

So, I asked Mark Fields today, are you making this change because of Trump?


MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: This makes sense for our business and we look at all factor, including what we view as a more positive U.S. manufacturing business environment under President-elect Trump and it's literally a vote of confidence around some of the pro- growth policies that he has been outlining.

HARLOW: But this is a trend we've seen. The president-elect calls out Carrier, he gets jobs to stay here. He calls out Boeing, he gets a cheaper Air Force One. He calls out Lockheed Martin, and they say we're going to work with you. There is a concern among some, Mark, that this is in essence a form of crony capitalism, that it's dangerous to American democracy, that the president can cut deals with companies and then they expect favors from the administration in return.

FIELDS: Well, first off, we didn't cut a deal with the president- elect. We did what's right for our business, first and foremost. That's what drives us in every business decision we make. We look at a lot of factors, Poppy, and one that we see is this more positive U.S. environment for manufacturing and investment here.


BURNETT: It's interesting, Poppy, when you pushed him, he said we didn't cut a deal with the president-elect. But as you point out to him, you asked him the question, you said it would be 40 percent cheaper for you to make those cars in Mexico, 40 percent cheaper. It's hard to imagine they would go ahead and reverse a decision like that if not because of Donald Trump's specifically and his threats.

HARLOW: It is indeed, Erin. You know, this is a $1.6 billion plant that they're just not moving forward with. On top of the fact that it costs them so much less to make cars in Mexico.

He never said that Trump was not part of the decision. He just said Trump wasn't the full driver of the decision. An outstanding question is, will it cost Americans more now to buy their cars that are made here because labor cost is so much higher?


HARLOW: That's certainly a question. At the same point in time, remember, Erin, they're not spending $1.6 billion in Mexico. What they're spending that the plant in Michigan is $700 million. So, there is a cost savings there as well. He said demand for small cars is not where it was before, so that's another driver for this. But everything in this environment is political.

BURNETT: All right. Poppy, thank you so much.


BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, does Vladimir Putin see himself in Donald Trump? Well, a Putin insider speaks out OUTFRONT for the first time.

And Jeanne Moos on how a 2-year-old saves the day teaching all parents an important lesson.


[19:48:30] BURNETT: Breaking news: a Trump transition official telling CNN the president-elect is not scheduled tomorrow to comment about the Russian hacking investigation, which contradicts Trump over the weekend, because he said he would have more to say on it, quote, "Tuesday or Wednesday". This comes as Trump faces questions about his ties to Vladimir Putin. Frederik Pleitgen is OUTFRONT.


TRUMP: It would be nice if we got along. If we don't, we don't, but it would be nice.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Donald Trump, then a candidate hoping for warmer ties with Vladimir Putin. Now, it appears his wish is coming true.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): He is a brilliant, intelligent person without a doubt.

PLEITGEN: As President Obama all but accuses Vladimir Putin himself of election-related hacking in the U.S., Trump is finding an admirer in Putin.

GLEB PAVLOVSKI, FORMER PUTIN ADVISER (through translator): Putin was very excited about Trump's election. I think he even had a brief moment of euphoria.

PLEITGEN: Gleb Pavlovski was a top Putin adviser for ten years until he says he was dismissed in 2011 for opposing Putin's controversial third term in office. He says Putin has high expectations for Donald Trump.

PAVLOVSKI: Putin is expecting an acceptance of Russia's agenda from the new President Trump.

PLEITGEN: That could include less criticism of Russia's controversial intervention in Syria and more importantly, a possible easing of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe over the crisis in Ukraine.

[19:50:00] The Russian president even seeing a reflection of himself in Donald Trump, Pavlovski says.

PAVLOVSKI: He just likes a strong man, a winner in a situation where no one believed in his victory because that's how it had been with Putin himself.

PLEITGEN: Since his election, Trump has been careful not to criticize Russia or its leader, while blasting China for what he calls one-sided trade relations with the U.S. and a lack of support pressuring North Korea on its nuke program. That China bashing even helps Putin, Pavlovski says.

PAVLOVSKI: We don't want to find ourselves in one bed with China and Trump could help us find a middle way.

PLEITGEN: Both Putin and Trump have a way of playing to the cameras. Trump with his reality TV career, Putin with photos like these showing him braving the outdoors, wrestling tiger, and riding shirtless on a horse.

PAVLOVSKI: Putin's character, style, habits are those of a middle- class bourgeois. He's prone to comfort. He absolutely didn't want to be the man who works 10 to 20 hours a day.


PLEITGEN: And, Erin, Pavlovski also tells me that he believes right now, the Kremlin is anxiously waiting to see whether Donald Trump will follow up on a lot of the positive things he's been saying about Vladimir Putin once he takes office -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. No doubt. Fred, thank you very much.

And I want to go straight now to our military analyst, Retired Major General Spider Marks.

General, thanks for being with me.

You know, just hearing this, this is a man who had worked for Putin for a long, long time. He still lives in Russia, all right? So, he's not saying anything negative about Vladimir Putin but his description of how Vladimir Putin feels about Donald Trump, very excited he won, he had a brief moment of euphoria. He's expecting an acceptance of Russia's agenda.

Does this concern you?

MAJ. GEN. SPIDER MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it does. A little bit dangerous, frankly, if the expectation is, is that the United States with the new president is going to fully embrace Vladimir Putin and what he wants, pew tip, to achieve.

It's a good thing that our president-elect wants to try to have a better relationship with Russia. But let's be frank, this is the third administration that's tried to do that. And for a whole bunch of reasons, primarily our focus and deep engagement in the Middle East, we've been diverted by putting resources and real attention to this. But Bush 43 and President Obama and now President-elect Donald Trump would love to try to improve that relationship.

I'm concerned that there's going to be an embrace here and we need to -- the only way that you improve this relationship is to trust building measures that are very, very measured and very precise.

BURNETT: And, of course, we'll see whether that happens. I mean, you know, President Obama started with a wonderful new relationship with Vladimir Putin and we see where that ended.

But then this former adviser talking to Fred said that Putin sees a lot of himself in Donald Trump. Now, Vladimir Putin loves propaganda pictures of himself. One year, I know he sent everybody in the country a DVD of himself playing judo or something like that.

MARKS: With Medvedev, yes.

BURNETT: Yes, that's right. And now, you know, Donald Trump obviously also has that showmanship about him. Obviously, I don't think we'll ever see Donald Trump putting up a picture of himself without his shirt on. MARKS: Please.

BURNETT: However, Vladimir Putin saying that Trump, that he likes a strong man, he likes a winner, he sees himself in Donald Trump. Will that flattery blind Trump to the truth of Putin?

MARKS: Well, I think President-elect Trump is a bright guy. I mean, let's give him credit for that. He is a bright -- I would say very, very intuitive guy.

I don't think he's going to be blinded by that. But I think what you see is you see these two personalities that might in fact conflate in that they both have excessive, what I would call excessive confidence. And when you act on that confidence, you tend to dismiss what might be contrarian views that are coming in, those whispers in your ear that are absolutely essential to good, solid leadership.

You need to have somebody that's telling you routinely, hey, president, put your shirt back on. Hey, president-elect, let's not try to embrace Putin too much.

BURNETT: Nobody tells Putin to put his shirt back on.

MARKS: Probably not.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, General Marks.

MARKS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Jeanne Moos with a story of the 2-year-old who's being called a mini superman after saving his twin.


[19:57:53] BURNETT: A dresser falls over, a 2-year-old saves the day, brother of the year. Already?

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Kayli Shoff reviewed the video of a chest falling on her twin sons, she felt it in her chest.

KAYLI SHOFF, MOTHER: My heart sank. I didn't know what to do. I felt like the worst mom.

MOOS: But the worst did not happen. Two and a half-year-old Bowdy got right up while his twin brother Brock remained pinned.

SHOFF: This one's Bowdy and this one's Brock, and they're super rambunctious.

MOOS: It was around 8:30 in the morning, the boys and their parents were in separate bedrooms in their Orem, Utah home.

SHOFF: We usually hear everything. We didn't hear a cry or a big thud.

MOOS: For two minutes, Bowdy tried to free his twin, first by pushing then trying to move the dresser from the other side, then trying to lift it in vain. But finally, Bodie managed to push the chest far enough for Brock to squirm out from under it. Both boys were fine.

SHOFF: No bumps or bruises.

MOOS: Online commenters asked, "And the parents were where? Mom? Dad? Hello?"

But the Shoffs heard nothing and we saw in the security monitor that the dresser had fallen after the kids were both safe. They risked online criticism posting the video to demonstrate the dangers of unfastened furniture.

The chest of drawers is now bolted to the wall.

Of course, we in the media are falling all over Bowdy. How could we not?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving a whole new meaning to the term brotherly love.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many are now calling him a real life mini super kid.

MOOS: Bodie did take time off from saving his brother to play with an electric bottle warmer and even follow the cord. Wrote one commenter, "Love the way he first clambers over the chest of drawers, further crushing his brother.

But someday, Bowdy will puff out his chest, curling about the chest he lifted to rescue his twin bro.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: There is something, of course, in all this that isn't incredible. Obviously, a wonderful ending there, but to make sure you bolt things. It can be so scary when you realize it can happen with young kids.

Thanks for joining us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. Go to CNN Go.

Anderson is next.

(Byline: Erin Burnett, Manu Raju, Jeff Zeleny, Jim Sciutto, Miguel Marquez, Jeffrey Lord, Poppy Harlow, Frederik Pleitgen, Spider Marks, Jeanne Moos)

(Guest: Tom Cole, John Kirby, Keith Boykin)

(High: President-elect Donald Trump slammed House Republicans on Twitter. Ford scrapping plans to build a plant in Mexico and Ford says it's good business, but Trump is getting all the credit. A Trump transition official telling CNN the president-elect is not scheduled tomorrow to comment about the Russian hacking investigation, which contradicts Trump over the weekend, because he said he would have more to say on it "Tuesday or Wednesday".)

(Spec: Ford; Automotive Industry; Business; Congress; Government; Donald Trump; North Korea; Policies; Politics)