hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. hier in washington. 8:00 p.m. in damascus, syria, and wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. up first -- president-elect donald trump gets back to transition business after a rousing campaign style rally. trump and vice president-elect mike pence made the first stop on their thank you tour in cincinnati, ohio last night. trump used the rally to tout his victory, bash the news media and double down on campaign promises. he also made a major campaign announcement. >> we are going to appoint mad dog mattis -- [ cheers ] -- as our secretary of defense. but we're not announcing it until monday. so don't tell anybody.
>> trump holds on a round of transition meetings today in new york city. those on the list for meetings, georgia republican
senator david perdue, jay cohen, retired navy admiral, former defense secretary robert gates, pam bondi, u.n. ambassador of the u.n., john bolton, heidi heitkamp, democrat, and david malpass. latest cabinet picks, jessica snyder is outside trump tower on fifth avenue in new york city for us right now. jessica, trump describes his pick for defense secretary, and i'm quoting him now, as the closest thing to general george patton that we have. general mattis, as we know, the retired marine corps general has a potential legal hurdle he has to clear in order to be considered for his nomination. >> reporter: yes. you know, wolf, but trump's team is saying they are well on their way to getting a congressional waiver. trump spokesman jason miller, in
fact, this morning saying that senator john mccain is right now drafting legislation that would get general mattis around that law that mandates that uniformed officers
were out of service at least seven years before taking up a civilian post. of course, general mattis retired in 2013. not long enough, but the trump team expressed confidence they will get that waiver. at least one democratic senator is promising to put up a fight. in fact, within minutes of donald trump making this surprise announcement that he would nominate general mattis, new york senator kirsten gillibrand said she would oppose any waiver saying it is fundamental to american democracy that the military be led by civilians in saying that any exception to that, she would not support. at least one democrat speaking out against this waiver. but the trump team says that they believe it's a lock. wolf? >> with a republican majority in the house and senate, probably almost certainly it is. interesting names on the list of people trump is meet wig today,
jessica you including a former ambassador, a democratic congresswoman. what have you learned about those meetings? >> reporter: yeah. well, after hopping around to two different states yesterday, wolf it is back to business here at trump tower. a few notable meetings this afternoon. former u.n. ambassador john bolton as well as former defense secretary robert gates, but the meeting drawing the most intrigue, as you mentioned, is north dakota senator heidi heitkamp. she will be here at trump tower a little later today. we actually caught up with her yesterday and she had said she was a little in the dark what exactly this meeting would entail, but did add that she is open to discussions with the trump administration about potentially joining a trump white house. some potential aboimts thppoint thrown out there could be energy and interior secretary and heitkamp hails from north dakota. that red state that trump won handedly. of course, a democratic senator like heitkamp is somebody trump would look to do help pass his
agenda, but if she were to join the trump white house, of course it would severely handicap senate democrats. wolf? >> the republican majority would go up by one. one more, if she were named to the cabinet. thanks very much for that. jessica, my next guest brought of a possibility of general mattis for secretary of defense. on this program just two weeks ago. >> who would you like to see emerge at secretary of defense and secretary of state? >> oh -- one name i've heard surface would be general mattis. over at defense. he would be a great choice. i think general mattis -- if he were, if he's in the consideration, i think he would have wide support on capitol hill. i know him well. he's worked with me, certainly, but he's a scholar and a warrior and he's somebody who would serve this administration very, very well. >> back with me today, former u.s. secretary of defense served under president bill clinton.
you're obviously happy with the selection of general mattis at defense secretary? >> i am one change i would make i would not call him mad dog. i would call him braveheart. that's what i think jim mattis is. >> why do you think that is? >> brave on the battlefield but the brave spirit that goes with the command of being a general of, a four-star general. for example, when he left the military, he took a two-week tour across the country going -- before he went to seattle. that was to visit ten of the gold star families whose sons were killed under -- during his commands over the years. that really is a -- why soldiers love him. why families should understand this man has a great heart. he's not only brave but he has a great, great spirit and heart of a warrior and i mentioned before of a scholar. >> yes. >> i would say, good man. great choice. >> a very good reputation. what do you say to senator gillibrand of new york, the ranking democrat of the armed
services committee saying you know what? he hasn't been out of uniform for seven years. you've got to keep a civilian, like you. you were secretary of defense. you didn't just go to become secretary of defense from the military? >> no. but there are rules, certainly, and it's a good general rule, but every rule has an exception. for example, we had a rule when i was serving on the senate armed services committee that no uniformed officer should serve at national security adviser. guess what? colin powell was recommended to serve as national security advis adviser. we waived the rule under those circumstances and he did a great job. in this particular case, you could say, generally speaking, we need to have a rule saying, seven years. but there are exceptions. this man is an exception. >> now his national security adviser of the white house, retired general, lieutenant general mike flynn. former head of the intelligence agency. his selection for secretary of defense, general mattis, and there's suspicion he could name another general, secretary of state potentially, general, retired general petraeus.
would that be a mistake, generals surrounding all of these key diplomatic national security portfolios? >> an issue the president-elect would have to contend with. surprising to me the name has not surfaced is jon huntsman. jon huntsman, a republican, former governor of utah, ambassador to china, singapore, two sons in the navy, et cetera. he's somebody i think should be under consideration. >> as secretary -- >> as secretary of state. interestingly enough, bob gates is now apparently going to meet with -- >> today. >> well if that's the case, bob gates would be an excellent choice as well, because he would be the first time since general marshall, who became secretary of state and secretary of defense, the first time you have a secretary of defense and a secretary of state, bob gates a great choit choice. >> for secretary of state. >> absolutely. >> what about the others, who named are floated out there. like rudy giuliani for example?
his name is high on the list. mitt romney. his name is high on the list. john bolton, former u.s. ambassador to the u.n.? >> it's not what i think. it's what president-elect trump thinks. as long as he's meeting with secretary gates, and i'm -- jon huntsman, i never talked to about this. there is a panoply of candidates to call upon with great experience. ultimately he's got to have the person that best reflects his own views. the secretary of state, secretary of defense, they don't set policy. it's the president of the united states. so whomever he feeled comfortable with can carry out his philosophy, his objectives, that's the person to select. >> you were on the inside. secretary of defense for bill clinton and had an impact on the eventual decision that the president of the united states has, and it's really critically important who a president surrounds himself, to make these critically important decisions. let me get back to general mattis a moment. >> sure. >> i interviewed him back at an institute in 2013. summer of 2013.
listen to this exchange i had with general mattis. we spoke for over an hour. >> the single biggest question i was dealing with in my last year was the perceived lack of u.s. reliability as an ally. we were able to overcome that. often working specific issues with them. that sort of thing, but it was something we have to work on. it's just a reality. it's a challenge, but it's not to the point that they are willing to give up on the relationship with us, but we're going to have to demonstrate reliability, because trust is what's it's all built on. if you can't maintain trust, then your leadership is obsol e obsolete. >> so this is three years ago. the biggest problem he faced was the lack, the perceived lack of u.s. reliability as an ally. is that still a huge problem for the u.s. right now? that the allies are worried about u.s. reliability?
>> absolutely. it's a question of not being constant in our philosophy, and in our actions. that's true with respect to the european friends. had to pass a $3.2 billion european reassurance initiative. think than. reassure european allies, we're still with them and have great questions about on constant and reliability in the middle east and i'm sure that our chinese friends also look with some, certainly apprehension about what the policy is going to be and all of our allies in the asrab arab -- asian-pacific region. >> is that president obama's fault? >> congress has a role to play as well. certain the role of the president and specifically dealing with syria. really unsecretary of stated our allies as far a drawing lines and not enforcing them. a major transition point for our credibility in the region. >> secretary cohen, thank for
joining us. >> my pleasure. coming up, where does general mattis stand on syria, iran, other key foreign policy issues? we'll discuss that. senator ben cardin is standing by. you see him. the ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee. discuss this with him and also president-elect trump teasing several imminent cabinet announcements and potential supreme court picks. a member of his transition team will join us. that's coming up. ke clockwork. month after month. year after year. then one night, you hydroplane into a ditch. yeah... surprise... your insurance company tells you to pay up again. why pay for insurance if you have to pay even more for using it? if you have liberty mutual deductible fund™, you could pay no deductible at all. sign up to immediately lower your deductible by $100. and keep lowering it $100 annually, until it's gone. then continue to earn that $100 every year. there's no limit to how much you can earn
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president-elect donald trump choosing another key member of his cabinet. retired general james, so-called mad dog. mattis, his pick for secretary of defense. soon in charge to hot spots around the globe. joining us from baltimore to talk about this and more, democrat senator ben cardin of maryland, ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee. thanks for joining us. >> good to be with you, thanks. >> what's your reaction to retired marine corps general mattis to become the next defense secretary? >> i certainly respect general mattis' service to our country. he was an outstanding general and served our country with
great distinction. there's a reason we want civilian control of our military. since its birth. the law prohibits anyone who's been in service within seven years to serve as secretary of defense. that requires us to change that law for general mattis to be considered. that's a matter that's going to be taken up in the congress. not just the senate but in the congress itself and i'm sure different views. >> your colleague, senator gillibrand of new york already said she would oppose a waiver for general mattis. are you with her? >> i'm going to listen. look, i'm concerned about some other appoints whether, how much military will be at the highest ranks of the cabinet. we want to make sure we maintain civilian control of our national security. so the department of defense is certainly an important position and see who he appoints secretary of state. two issue, first, whether qualified to serve because of the prohibition of recent
retirees from the military and secondly, his own personal credentials, going through a confirmation process in the senate. i'm not going to prejudge either. because i think i have a responsibility to listen. to see how the hearings go. to see what information we receive. so i'll, i'm going to be considering this very carefully before i render a decision. >> would you have a problem with retired general petraeus as secretary of state? >> well, i do think it's extremely important the person who leads the state department recognizes that they need to be a counter in many respects to the department of defense. no. i wouldn't disqualify an individual, but it has to be from the point of view of someone who understands the role of the state department, diplomacy. development assistance, as part of our national security blanket. and that will advocate for that type of power at some times it's in conflict with the department of defense. >> senator, when i iran viewed general mattis at the aspen security conference in aspen,
colorado, back in june of to 13, i asked him about the situation in syria. listen to this exchange. >> what, if anything, should the united states be doing to get rid of bashar al assad? assuming that's what the u.s. wants? >> we are going to have to determine what is the end state we want? this war needs to be ended as rapidly as possible. that's the bottom line. but if the americans go in, if the americans take leadership, if the americans take ownership of this, it's going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war. we need to be very clear about our military end state contributing to what political end state. otherwise you're liable to invade a country, pull down a statue and then say, now what do we do? you know what i mean? >> you know, everybody know what's he means when the u.s. went in and -- liberated iraq back in 2003.
statue of saddam hussein went down and everybody knows what happened after that. >> right. i think general mattis is absolutely right. he's absolutely correct about the military capacities of the united states. we have, by far, the world's strongest military capacity. we can do some amazing things with our military. what happened afterwards? how do we make sure there's a stable regime that represents all of the people? that's how much more complicated, a much more complicated process. were we go in use or military, we need to know the end game. >> i also asked general mattis about iran. listen to this answer. listen closely. >> how much time, worry, concern, did you have on iran? was that your primary concern? >> the first three things i asked my briefers about when i awoke every morning were iran, iran and iran. >> so what do you say about that. remember, this is the summer of 2013. before the iran nuclear deal. >> well, iran is very active in the middle east.
when i was, had a chance to meet with our gulf states, aal l all and strategic partners they mentioned iran first on their list. iran through its proxies are involved in so many places through the middle east. they're funding terrorist operations that affect the security of israel. iran is a country of major interest. yes, we have a game plan in regards to their nuclear ambitions but we don't have a game plan that's been effective in preventing their use of supporting terrorists. their proliferation of ballistic missiles, the way they violate basic human rights of its citizens. all these are major areas of concern for stability in that region of the world that affects u.s. national security. >> i should point out when i interviewed is general mattis, it was shortly after he retired as head mp the u.s. military central command in charge of north africa and the middle east. that's why every morning he would ask his team, what's the
biggest issues and he would say, iran, iran, iran, because that was in his area of responsibility. senator, thanks so much for joining us. >> wolf, always good to be with you. these are certainly very important security issues for our country. >> you're going to be very busy in that senate foreign relations nominations. coming up, a shouting match between top aides from the trump and clinton campaigns during an convenient hosted by harvard university. details when we come back.
a few swipes at his former rivals. >> i'm going to discuss our action plan to make america great again. we're going to discuss. although, we did have a lot of fun fighting hillary. didn't we? right? >> as a republican, i'm supposed to win the great state of utah. i love you. love those states. remember when they said, donald trump is going to loses to some guy i never even heard of. who is that guy? and, by the way, hillary came in second and that guy came in third. i was still trying to figure out -- i'm still trying to figure out what was he going to prove? >> i watched that speech last night. what did you think? is this the way to emerge, what? three weeks after the election and try to unify the country? >> this donald trump. this is the way it's going to be. whether it's unifying, not unifying. this is trump. none of us should be surprised by it. a couple of lines in the speech about unifying the country.
and i -- it's something he didn't say a lot during the campaign. now president-elect, he is saying it now, but he can't resist. it's a victory lap, and he loves talking about the campaign, because he won, and at a certain point i think he'll move -- he'll move away from that when he's going to take to the bully pulpit to win on issues and what struck me about that speech is, as i watched it, this is what he's going to do during his presidency. much like ronald reagan did, except for so. has a fight with congress, somebody else will play the inside game. maybe mike pence. he'll play the outside game and take the fight directly to the people. >> these events, these rallies during the year and a half running for the republican nominati nomination, then in the general election. they clearly generate a lot of energy. he'll do a bunch more in the coming days? >> more like teddy roosevelt. put the bully in bully pulpit
and take his campaigning in a sense to the american people in parts of the country that are his territory and feed off that audience and he's going to go around the media and going to go around the political elites. everything he did in the campaign i think he's going to make a more permanent condition, and advance his agenda that way, and i think it is a populist economic agenda that he wants to lead with. i think he sees that as the keys to his political prospects. >> yeah, and we'll see a lot more of this. not j just the next four days but next four years and maybe eight years? >> right. trump, a big desire, we shouldn't forget it, for him to perhaps take that this tour to places he didn't win and maybe do a little listening while at it. not just talking. anything he does in that regard would help him certainly with critics and those still really sour over the fact that -- he won. >> he's not a great sit down and live to folks but some of these moves he's making, in terms of
people he's hiring reflects listening. reflects listening to people who disagree with him, criticized his sharply. all reassuring people, certainly in the political class, about his judgment, about his pragmatism and we see it. talking so much about general mattis. fact he can sit down with general mattis and get a talking by general mattis, change his views on torture. you'd be critical on trump about that, but clearly something of an open mind. >> i was told by somebody familiar buy their conversation, what impressed trump about mattis, straightforward answers to his questions and when they disagreed on torture, mattis' point, not only don't i agree with it, but i don't think i'd ever have to use it. when they disagree, he said, i disagree. and if you have a good reason for disagreeing, trump will listen to you. there isn't any sense you can't disagree with him, as long as you can make a strong argument. >> and there's been a remarkable
amount of sort of republican party and republican intelligence made in the last few weeks, whether with regard to the education department, mnuchin and suddenly resumes will pour into the transition office. anyone who's a military mind in republican circles sees that, goes, that's the kind of defense secretary i want to work with. >> he's meeting with a democratic senator from north dakota today. and there's speculation she could be on the list secretary of energy? >> a brilliant move. politics. what he's doing here is signaling to democrats, we may try to poach another seat from you. seats from north dakota a republican state. there are republicans lining up to take it, if she were to leave and republicans lining up to run against her. that said, should heitkamp not take the position or get offered anything, this helps her, and trump, who we know has been talking frequently with the
incoming senate ma nofinority l with democrats. doing her a favor making her look good. >> look what he did with nikki haley. could have been in a position as governor of south carolina to challenge a president trump after one term and now is in the wilds of the united states. not exactly a high-profile area in this administration and her lieutenant governor is a big trump guy. >> yeah. >> what he means when he says i like to cut deals. i like to negotiate. >> of course, president obama did that with jon huntsman. >> right. >> let me play a clip and i want david, you and all to react, jennifer palmieri with communications director during the clinton campaign. kellyanne conway, the trump campaign manager, they had an exchange at harvard university last night. supposed to be a very serious,
intellectual discussion. that turned into this. >> prying a platform for white supremacists i am glad to have laws -- >> i would rather lose than win the way you did. >> do you think a ran a campaign where white sue prem sifts -- >> you did. >> a little unusually nasty. >> yeah. i think it did. look, this is not just a -- a difference in ideological vision for the country. i mean, this was very personal. heart-thought and the clinton team made a bet to disqualify this guy on temperament and qualifications and last to bet. they didn't turn out democrats. i think, you know, going after them the way they, may be heartfelt. maybe people i glee with that. a self-indulgence to say if you're a democrat, i see.
energized white supremacists that's why hillary clinton lost. it's a misreading of what happened. >> nobody's over it on the clinton side yet, and i think it's going to take an awfully long time. i've been to a lot of these. i didn't go to this one, unfortunately. i moderate add plan like that and usually it's all about the mechanics. what were you thinking at this point while we thinking this and everyone is gracious. this is way too raw. i think maybe it was a little too soon. >> yeah. conceivable. stick around. don't go far. up next, unemployment rate at its lowest point now in nearly a decade here in the united states. what behind the numbers? what it means for the u.s. economy, for the trump administration. we'll be right back.
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a look at the latest jobs report. 1778,000 jobs created across the u.s. last month. 178,000. the big surprise today, jobless rate. 4.6%. lowest rate since 2007. wages rose as well. here's a look where the jobs were created. business services, 63,000 net new jobs there. health care, diverse industry, a number of jobs. 28,000. the pain, though in the labor market, manufacturing, lost another 4,000 jobs. talk about the numbers. joined by the united states deputy secretary of labor chris lew. thank you, mr. secretary for joining us. >> my pleasure. great to you here. >> why another 4,000 manufacturing jobs last month disappeared? >> look, this is -- again, we don't take too much stock of one month's job numbers.
what is important is that since 2010, 800,000 manufacturing jobs have been createdeneder president obama's watch. we've taken strong steps to bring jobs back to the united states and train woeshgs for those jobs. >> what's the strongest aspect of the u.s. economy now that president-elect trump will be inheriting when it comes to jobs? >> it's important to know, wolf, the difference between where we are now versus where we were eight years ago. eight years ago when president obama took over he lost 2.3 million jobs in the three months before office. >> a recession? >> we were in the midst of the greatest recision of our lifetime. unemployment, 10%. a stork contrast between the economy we inherited and are passing off to our successor. >> the numbers look pretty good, but it's mgs leading. so many are simply dropping out of the jobs market and have given up hope? >> right. we need to get more people into the jobs market. talk every month about labor
first to participation and how to get more people off the sidelines. whether young adults who need skills to get new jobs, fathers, mothers raising skids and home, want to work part-time or paid leave to get into the workforce, older workers, all of that we need to do and grow wages at the same time. >> the president-elect intervened with care ye and saved 1000-plus jobs and saw it unfold yesterday in indiana. says he'll do a lot more of that to save jobs, prevent people from going offshore, if you will, exporting jobs from the united states. is that a good idea. >> look, it's always a good idea when more americans make more products here in the united states. the real question is, whether that is a sustainable and scalable economic recovery approach. again, i go back to the point that since 2010, 800,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under president obama's watch. that doesn't even include the 1 million jobs in the auto industry that were saved. so, again, we always applaud
more jobs created in the united states, but is that a long-term strategy? i'll leave that to others to decide. >> the criticism that donald trump is getting including from the "wall street journal" is that you are providing tax incentives, tax breaks to save some jobs, but it's really not a good idea to have the government intervene in these areas. they like to see the government stay away from these kinds of areas. your reaction? >> wolf, an important point. would have been interesting to see what the reaction would have been on the other side if president obama had taken an action like this. from our perspective in the department of labor, it's how do we train people for the good-paying jobs of the 21st century understanding technology changes, new industries created, other industries being moved offshore? that's our focus over the last eight years. >> one of the first legislative initiatives he wants, an infrastructure program. it's going to create millions of jobs, he says. but also going to rebuild roads, bridges. make sure the highways are safe. airports, which are a disaster,
he points out here in the united states. a lot of democrat sass pos supp. you would. almost like a jobs stimulus program? >> you know, president obama has been calling for this bill for years and stymied in attempts to get that. there are good and bad infrastructure builds. a tax giveaway to developers projects they already were going to undergo, that's not creating new jobs simply a tax giveaway. >> one final question, mr. secretary. you have been playing a an important role, president of the united states, president obama, assigned this role to help in the transition to the next president of the united states, and that's to be donald trump. he was elected president. tell us what you've been doing and how it's gone. >> at the department of labor we are following the president's command to all of us which is, we provide the same level of cooperation and collaboration to the incoming time we received from president bush back in 2008. what we're committed to doing. >> helping the trump transition, work wig them on a daily basis?
>> i talk to them on a regular basis. >> making sure they have all the information they need so on january 20th they're ready to go. >> that's right. >> secretary lu, thanks for coming in. >> thanks for having me. making his decision on several cabinet positions. who are they? when will they be announced? discussing that with congressman chris collins, standing by live. my goal was to finally get in shape. not to be focusing on my moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis. so i made a decision to talk to my dermatologist about humira. humira works inside my body to target and help block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to my symptoms. in clinical trials, most adults taking humira were clear or almost clear, and many saw 75% and even 90% clearance in just 4 months. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems,
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donald trump is subtly building his cabinet. look at this. like pictures from inside trump tower in new york city, serving as transition headquarters. people are walking in and out. elevators right there. a lot of reporters standing by trying to get glimpses of individuals walking in. the president-elect is expected to meet with a handful of people today. one of them is senator heidi heitkamp, a north dakota democrat. could it be an olive branch of sorts? joining us now congressman chris collins of new york. he's a member of the trump transition team. congressman, thank you much for joining us. you're the transition team's chief liaison to members of congress. what do you think about a
democratic senator emerging potentially as secretary of energy? >> i think it's brilliant. especially since there's a republican governor of north dakota and that would push us from 52 to 53 senators. >> looking to find senators? democratic senators, you can pick off, maybe? some speculation about senator joe manchin of west virginia, for example. would he be on your short list? >> let's just say there's politics and then there's politics. which a find a qualified person and it's a good politics as well as filling the best and brightest. heard extraordinarily good things about the senate but you can't miss the nuance it's a republican state and schumer and others saying, we can't let that happen, of course, we're playing chess. and we have to be aware of these things. >> yes, and you're very much involved in this and we know there was one republican who served in the obama cabinet. there was a democrat who served in the bush and in president
bush's cabinet. presumably looking for a good democrat or two to serve in the cabinet? >> yeah. there may be a couple in the house we could find jobs for. >> people are coming up to you all the time looking for work? >> they are. including democrats. >> what do they say to you, when they come up to you? >> many of them on the republican side would say, this is a moment in time. a moment in history. a day we never expected and i want to be part of it. it's not just members of congress. it's people from around the country. but members of congress who may be looking for positions that are not cabinet level, which i find a little surprising, but -- >> willing to give up a seat for a subcabinet position? >> absolutely. including things like ahead of nasa. head of epa. under secretary in the treasury for something. no. it is truly people that want to be part of an administration that is a game-changer. i have democrats coming up. also suggesting that they could play a role, and if it's an under secretary level.
politics tends to be set aside at that kind of level. >> people don't realize. there's 4,000 political appointments the new president has to make. >> right. what we're trying to do in my staff is call it 4,000 mail slots. find a person that can be seven levels down, someone that wants that administrative assistant to the deputy secretary to the undersecretary, find the mail slot, slide that resume in at which point highly qualified person come highly recommended we fill that spot then we can move on to the other 3, 999. >> let's say republican member of the house comes over to you says i really would like that this job. or a democratic member. i'm sure a few of them have come to you. what happens then? i'd like to be whatever. >> well, i get a resume because a piece of paper helps.
we then feed that to rick dearborn, the executive director, jeff session's chief of staff, to make sure they're on the list and being considered and depending on the slot and the individual i might then contact someone which i've done a few times to put my direct recommendation into the president-elect or someone like his son-in-law jared kushner just to say this is somebody i know and i can tell you he's loyal, he's the right guy, the smart guy, so i know the decision will be made by the president-ele president-elect. >> so jared kushner, they know you, they trust you, you were the first member of congress to endorse donald trump. so you have some cache with them. they think you have credibility? >> well, i've always been loyal, i've put donald j. trump first always, and i've always reminded people of his vision of america, making america great again and, of course, those close to mr. trump have recognized that role
and i'd like to think that my advice or -- i'm an honest broker, as you know, i wasn't looking to move into the administration, this was something i did because it was the right thing to do. >> you're a blunt guy from buffalo, new york, my hometown. >> that's how we are. >> and you've always been very blunt with me. who do you want donald trump to pick as secretary of state? >> i would like to see either general petraeus or rudy giuliani. i'd be very supportive of each of those. i don't know senator corker but, you know, you know what i said and i don't take it back about mitt romney. if he is chosen i'll support him but i would certainly prefer either general petraeus or rudy giuliani. i know both of them, i know what a great job they would do. >> when you head back to buffalo, say hello to all our friends over there. >> i certainly will. >> thank you very much, chris collins, for joining us. good luck. >> all righty. coming up, the growing crisis in syria being described as a descent into hell as u.s. and russian officials meet to find a new agreement to stop the
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a. after five years of brutal, horrendous warfare in syria, the u.s. secretary of state john kerry maintains diplomacy in his words is still alive. he made the kmens during his meeting with his russian counterpart sergei lavrov in rome where they were discussing the crisis. this as syrian government troops advance further into eastern lea aleppo. rebels are surrounded and civilians are trapped inside. our senior international correspondent fred pleitgen is in damascus for us. fred, tell us more about the situation. what are you hearing it's like on the ground? >> you know the situation is miserable there in those rebel-held areas that are surrounded by the syrian military, wolf, and those rebel-held areas appear to be getting smaller by the day.
it's remarkable to see those sweeping gains the syrian arm has made. however, in the past two days that has slowed down and that is just to do with the weather there over aleppo because it was so cloudy, so rainy that the syrian air force wasn't able to fly a lot of missions. however that apparently changed today and we have been getting reports that there were fierce air strikes on those enclaves surrounded by the syrian army. a lot of artillery shelling as well. dozens of people were killed, many more wounded. as you've mentioned, the humanitarian situation on the ground getting worse by the day, the u.n. saying that it could be a slow descent into hell with already almost no food, no medical supply there is left in those besieged areas, wolf. >> so is the end near right now? what are the experts telling you? >> well, you know, as far as
aleppo is concerned, there are some who believe that this could very well be very close to the end. what's happened over the course of today is that the rebel groups remaining in those very small areas in the eastern part of aleppo is that they've banded together to form what they call a unified front. they've banded together to fight the syrian military. but that's become desperate. they are outgunned, the syrian military has air power and the syrian military is closing in and the battle for aleppo is one that almost everyone says is pivotal for syria's civil war because it's the last place where the rebels hold any meaningful territory in one of syria's largest cities so if they lose that this will largely be an insurgency that takes place in the countryside so it will be far less significant here in syria if, indeed, they lose that strong hold there in aleppo so a key battle, an important battle and one that at this point in time appears to be
going in the way of bashar al assad and, of course, his backers from iran, russia and hezbollah. wolf? >> fred pleitgen, be careful. we'll stay in close touch. thanks for that report. that's it for me. i'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in the situation room. for our international viewers, "amanpour" is next. for our viewers in north america "newsroom" with brooke baldwin starts right now. very . thank you for being with me on this friday, i'm brooke baldwin. you are watching cnn. we are watching the gold elevators inside the lobby of trump tower where day by day, meeting by meeting a new presidency, a new administration is taking shape. according to our sources telling cnn, john bolton is being considered for secretary of state.