a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: in his first news conference as president—elect — donald trump rejects claims he might be vulnerable to blackmail by the russians. trump's choice for us secretary of state hits out at china in his confirmation hearing — calling it aggressive, expansionist and unreliable. the taliban release a video of two abducted professors — one australian, the other american — as they plead for donald trump to help free them. and drawing a line under the obama presidency — we talk to the artist who's painted him every day since he took office. donald trump's first press conference in six months has been dominated by the issue of whether the us president—elect
might be vulnerable to blackmail by the russians. he angrily denied allegations in a leaked report that russian intelligence might have gathered compromising information about him. he attacked america's intelligence agencies — and suggested they might have leaked the report. he criticised some of the media too, for spreading allegations he says are "fake news, phoney stuff, put together by sick people". ian pannell reports from new york. it has been almost half a year since we've seen one of these, a donald trump press conference. and what great timing for the president—elect. with the media baying for blood or at least a bone. because we have just learnt intelligence chiefs gave mr trump documents alleging russia has compromising material on him. i think it is a disgrace that information would be let out. i saw the information, i read the information outside of that meeting. it is all fake news, it is phoney stuff,
it didn't happen. a dossier compiled by an ex—mi6 agent makes unproven allegations that russia has damning details of mr trump's business interest and lurid claims involving sex workers. i am surrounded by people, and i always tell them, anywhere, i always tell them, if i am leaving this country, be very careful, because in your hotel rooms, no matter where you go, you are probably going to have cameras. be careful. because you don't want to see yourself on television. cameras all over the place. and again, notjust russia. all over. does anyone really believe that story? i am also very much a germaphobe, by the way. believe me. mr trump is having none of it, neither is the kremlin. only a handful of people had this information. the president—elect is clear who he thinks leaked it. i think it was disgraceful, disgraceful, that the intelligence
agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake. i think it is a disgrace. and i say that, and i say that, and that is something that nazi germany would have done and did do. i think it is a disgrace. ian pannell from the bbc news. bbc news, that is another beauty. if they come back with any kind of conclusion that any of it stands up, if any of it is true, will you consider your position? there is nothing they can come back with. this is related to the hacking scandal. the kremlin is accused of a cyber attack on the democrats and denies the hacking attack. until now donald trump has refused to single out russia for blame. as far as hacking i think it was russia and i also think we were hacked by other countries, and other people.
even so, mr trump plans to rebuild relations with russia. if putin likes donald trump, i think that is an asset, not a liability. we have a horrible relationship with russia. russia can help us fight isis, which is tricky. there was appeasement for some but vitriol for others, especially cnn, the news channel that broke the russia story. since you are attacking us, can you give us a question? go ahead. no, not you. your organisation is terrible. go ahead. quiet. go ahead. she is asking a question. don't be rude. can you give us a question? no, i am not going to give you a question. you are fake news. this press conference was to be about the trump business empire. today he produced papers showing he is handing over control to his sons. not that he feels he has to, mind. as a president i could run the trump organisation, a great, great company, and i could run the company, oh, the country, but i don't want to do that.
the president—elect has left trump tower and in nine days‘ time he won't be the president—elect, he will be the 45th president of the united states, this is a combative performance by donald trump but doubts and questions will still linger about his business practices and in some people's minds about any associations that may or may not have existed in russia. he repeated his pledge to build a wall with mexico and replace obamacare. if today was any guide you might want to hold onto your hats and your seats for the trump presidency. live now to washington, and the bbc‘s laura bicker. laura, i guess the point we should make is that we are only reporting this information, these allegations because us intelligence agencies considered it relevant enough to brief both the president and the president—elect in official
briefings. they say it is worthy of consideration. that is correct. the sources we have had told us that the information is credible. it does not mean it is accurate nor true. it is unverifiable. but they deemed it sufficiently newsworthy enough to give to the president—elect and the president as part of that briefing that they had last week on russian hacking. we understand that certainly this is the work of my colleague, he has outlined the entire story online if you want to have a look. he had the story and the bbc chose not to publish it because it was unverifiable. but he understands there is more than one source for this and more than one eight. as well there is audio tape and on more than one occasion may have videotapes in saint petersburg and in moscow. when it comes to the claims themselves, you heard that mr
trump denies it and that it is fake news. as far as his supporters are concerned, are they likely to see this as fabricated news and since they voted for him despite everything that has come out about him, they will not care anyway. that is correct. i think it comes to his supporters they will see today's press c0 nfe re nce supporters they will see today's press conference as donald trump himself. there are several lines in bed that were very trump liked and reminiscent of the campaign. he said things like if you think hillary clinton been harder on putin, give us clinton been harder on putin, give usa clinton been harder on putin, give us a break. these are things that his supporters liked to see during the campaign. they liked bombastic billionaires and off—the—cuff remarks. that is what they liked about him. when it comes to the viewer the media, much of the us
media, their view and their editorials from major newspapers condemned mr trump as a presidential candidate. despite that, millions of people are cited that he was to be their president—elect. —— millions of people decided. so today, it is unlikely to affect his standing. thank you very much. the mexican president has again insisted his country will not pay for a wall along the border with the united states. enrique pena nieto was speaking just after the trump press conference, during which the president—elect said he wanted to start building it immediately and that mexico would reimburse the united states for the cost. as donald trump faced the media, his nominee for secretary of state, rex tillerson, was facing questions from a conformation panel of senators considering his suitability for thejob. it lasted around nine hours. the oil executive has been under fire for his close ties to russia. he told senators it was "a fair
assumption" that russia's president was behind hacking of the us election, and criticised china's growing power role in the world. our correspondent aleem maqbool reports. rex tillerson was donald trump's surprise choice to be secretary of state. as he tried to convince congress he's fit for thejob, he appeared to have a tougher line on russia than the man who picked him. russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interest. it has invaded the ukraine, including the taking of crimea, and supported syrian forces that brutally violates the laws of war. but mr tillerson‘s background as chief executive of oil and gas giant exxonmobil involves extensive ties with russia, even receiving the country's medal of friendship from vladimir putin. some politicians are clearly not convinced he's really able to get tough on the kremlin, and it finally showed. is vladimir putin a war criminal? i would not use that term. let me describe the situation
in aleppo and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion. senator rubio went on to describe what he called the "targeting of civilians" by russian forces in syria. you are still not prepared to say that vladimir putin and his military have violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in aleppo? those are very, very serious charges to make and i would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion. there's so much information out there. you know, i find it discouraging, your inability to cite that. and protesters dressed in kkk robes have disrupted proceedings to confirm another of donald trump's picks. would you raise your hand, please? jeff sessions is the man donald trump wants to be his attorney general, a man who, in the 1980s, was denied a judgeship over claims of racial discrimination. i am not a racist. i'm not insensitive to blacks. in his hearing, some of the leading black voices in congress laid
out their concerns. he has demonstrated a total disregard for the equal application ofjustice and protection of the law as it applies to african—americans and falls short on so many issues. it's still likely that both rex tillerson and jeff sessions will be confirmed in their respective posts, but also clear that in these choices, at least, donald trump has not felt the need to reassure those americans who are concerned about his politics when it comes to russia or race. aleem maqbool, bbc news, washington. the taliban has released a video of two men kidnapped in august, pleading for president—elect donald trump to negotiate for their release. it's the first time australian timothy weeks, here on the left, and american kevin king, on the right, have been seen since they were abducted as they left work at the american university in kabul. our correspondent in sydney, hywell griffiths told us more about the video. yes, it is some 13 minutes long
and split into four or five sections and in it you see both men clearly distressed at some point, weeping, but in relatively 0k health, both say that they have been kept in good condition by the taliban, that they eat the same food as their captors, but their distress comes when they discuss what they say is their fate unless a negotiation is made successfully by the us government, and timothy weeks says that he believes unless a deal is struck soon that he will be killed, and he repeats the phrase several times, "i don't want to die here, i don't want to die alone." he talks directly to his family here in australia. his mother who is ill in hospital, he says, his ageing father and his siblings. he impresses on them to try and ask the american government to negotiate. then the american captured professor, kevin king, does something similar, talking about the strain on them
and unless a deal is done to exchange them for some taliban prisoners, then they say that they will be killed, and so it is quite a harrowing video over 13 minutes that emerged through the use of a taliban site some hours ago now. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: volkswagen of greece to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us over the disguising of emissions from its diesel cars. day one of operation desert storm to force the iraqis out of kuwait has seen the most intense air attacks since the second world war. tobacco is america's oldest industry, and it's one of its biggest, but the industry is nervous of this report. this may tend to make people want to stop smoking cigarettes. there is not a street that is unaffected. huge parts of kobe were simply demolished as buildings crashed into one another. this woman said she'd been given no help and no advice by the authorities.
she stood outside the ruins of her business. tens of thousands of black children in south africa have taken advantage of laws, passed by the country's new multiracial government, and enrolled at formerly white schools. tonight sees the 9,610th performance of her long—running play, the mousetrap. when they heard about her death today, the management considered whether to cancel tonight's performance, but agatha christie would have been the last person to want such a thing. this is bbc news. i'm mike embley. the latest headlines: donald trump has angrily dismissed claims that russia has compromising material on him and has suggested that us intelligence agencies may have leaked the allegations. donald trump's choice to be us secretary of state,
rex tillerson, has told a senate confirmation hearing that china is aggressive, and must stop building islands in the south china sea. let's get more on the preparations for the trump presidency. almost overshadowed by all the discussion about allegations of personal scandal is the question of how mr trump should deal with his huge business empire. on wednesday he said he'd hold onto it but hand complete control to his two eldest sons, donald junior and eric. so will it be enough to silence the critics? isaac arnsdorf writes for the politico news site where he covers the influence of money in politics. hejoins me now from washington, dc. first of all this intervention from the director of the us office of government ethics is very unusual for him to comment publicly on a presidential ethics decision, he said mist trump's solution breaks a0 yea rs of said mist trump's solution breaks a0 years of precedent by presidents of both parties. that's right, he says it is unacceptable, it fails the standard and importantly his office, which exists to help the president and other executive officers put
their affairs and other executive officers put theiraffairs in and other executive officers put their affairs in order to prevent conflicts of interest and other ethical problems was completely frozen out of the process, the trump transition and his lawyers did not consult with the office when they we re consult with the office when they were developing this plan and the director's view was had they asked for his help he would have been able to help them arrive at a better solution instead of this one, which he thinks isn't a solution at all. yet mr trump's point, restated publicly again in the press conference, he doesn't even need to do this, he could run the country and he could run his empire. that's not really true. what trump is referring to is a particular statute, the main statute on federal employees and conflicts of interest which does exempt the president but there are several other statutes that apply to the president and could potentially have criminal consequences. there's also this tradition that the director of the
ethics of this was referring to where the president should behave as if the laws do apply to him, because that sets the tone for the entire executive branch. more generally, aizaz, it's high risk for the country to have the president at war with the intelligence agencies and high—risk for anyone who may or may not have skeletons in their closet, financial, sexual or otherwise to fall out publicly and insult so publicly people who specialise in digging out secret information. possibly it is laying down trouble for yourself? there are lots of people concerned about this and it's unprecedented as a situation. part of the reason is you didn't see the kinds of disclosures from trump during the camp rain that modern presidential candidates have subjected themselves to, such as releasing tax returns, and this is pa rt releasing tax returns, and this is part of the reason that you would remove any questions about skeletons that could be lurking, you're vetting the president before the
election so you wouldn't have a scenario like we might be faced with now. aizaz, thank you very much, we will see how it plays out the. thank you. thank you. in other news: it's reported iraqi forces have made new advances fighting the extremists of the so—called islamic state group, around mosul. the troops met fierce resistance when they first fought their way into the outskirts of mosul more than two months ago, but it seems they've made more steady progress in recent weeks. norway's attorney general has told a hearing that the mass murderer, anders breivik, has to be kept in isolation in prison, to stop him spreading far—right ideology and inspiring more attacks. the state is appealing against a lower court ruling that keeping him in isolation breaches his rights. italy's prime minister is recovering from heart surgery in a hospital in rome. paolo gentiloni fell ill on his return from a meeting with the french president in paris. his office says he's awake and in touch by phone. a planned meeting with the british prime minister on thursday has now been postponed. the president of the philippines,
rodrigo duterte, has ordered government agencies to offer free contraceptives to an estimated six million women who cannot obtain them. his plans are seen as controversial in a majority catholic country but the president says he wants to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. the german carmaker volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us for using illegal software to disguise the level of emissions produced by its diesel powered cars. it has also agreed to pay fines worth $a.3 billion. in addition, six employees have been indicted for their role in the affair, including one who was arrested last week. sarah corker reports. it's been dubbed the diesel gin, the world's second biggest carmaker reading environmental tests boardies diesel emissions and now volkswagen will play a heavy price for what us
authorities have described as a 10—year conspiracy. authorities have described as a 10-year conspiracy. volkswagen is pleading guilty to three felonies, conspiracy to defraud the united states, to commit wire fraud and to violate the clear act. obstruction of justice and importation violate the clear act. obstruction ofjustice and importation of goods by false statements. the final $4.3 billion is the biggest ever levied by the us government on a carmaker. bw has already agreed a $15 billion civil settlement with car owners and environmental authorities and worldwide, 11 million vehicles are involved in this scandal. the us attorney general said the w lied to cover up attorney general said the w lied to cover up its actions. hundreds of thousands of cars that volkswagen sold in the united states were pumping illegal levels of nitrogen oxides into our atmosphere. up to a0 times more than the amounts permitted underfederal times more than the amounts permitted under federal law. now, what's more, these vehicles were equipped with software that masked
the true amount of the pollutants the true amount of the pollutants the cars released. and it looks as though the us regulators are far from finished. six executives have been formally charged with conspiracy. translation: been formally charged with conspiracy. translatiosz been formally charged with conspiracy. translation: if it does come out that management was informed about aspects of these aldgate earlier than they have so far admitted then we have to assume that lawsuits will be filed, not just by shareholders but also by the pa rent just by shareholders but also by the parent company who would likely make the management responsible for recalls. volkswagen says it deeply regrets the behaviour that led to this scandal, but there's still a turbulent road ahead as the company faces potentially damaging lawsuits in europe. sarah corker, bbc news. as the world awaits whatever a trump presidency may bring, the obama presidency draws ever closer to its end, and so too does the work of an artist who has followed his daily life for eight years. rob pruitt has painted a single
image for every day of obama's time in office. that's nearly 3,000 paintings. they are now on display at the gavin brown gallery in new york, where the bbc caught up with him. when he won, i thought to myself, i need a place to put all of this energy. you know, ijust can't go back to life as usual so i thought that i would commit to making one painting of him every day of his presidency as a visual diary. it's very rare that you see an image of the president driving a car. when i started to think about what this visual diary would be like, i started thinking about my hometown, which is washington, dc, where there are many monuments to previous presidents. this is a good one. i was thinking i would take the patriotically american colours of red, white and blue and visualise them as stone, and that's how i came up with these muted interpretations of the american flag.
maybe halfway through i woke up in a panic one night not 100% in love with the colours any more, but i have already painted for years in this palette. but now again i like the colours. it was just, sort of, a moment that i subject myself to. i always saw it as one work, all 2,922 paintings. it's at once a record of his presidency and an interpretation. each day is given the same size and the same painting treatment. whether he's getting a shave ice in hawaii on christmas vacation or he's signing the healthcare act, it's all given the same weight within my project because i wanted to make a monument to the entire presidency. so when i look forward to january the 20th, i think that for myself, like for a lot of americans,
it's going to be a very difficult and emotional day. president obama is a very visionary leader and to say goodbye to that is not going to be an easy thing. rob pruitt there, speaking about his extraordinary project. well, after president obama's farewell speech on tuesday night, he set a new personal record on social media. he took to twitter to say: this tweet has become his most popular to date, with more than one million likes and over 500,000 retweets. and before we go, we want to take you to austria and a ski resort with a difference. this minature ski resort is the creation of a 17—year—old called kevin pobatschnig and kevin
built the resort in his parent's backyard. everything in it is around one thirtieth the size of real life. it's a fair bet that he has a very promising career ahead in engineering. well, before we go a reminder of our main news... in his first news conference since he was elected, donald trump has attacked the us intelligence agencies, suggesting they may have leaked allegations that russia has gathered compromising material on him. he said it would be a tremendous blot on the reputation of the agencies if they were responsible. mr trump accused media organisations of publishing fake news put together by sick people. intelligence agencies briefed both mr trump and president obama on the allegations last week. that's it for now. thanks very much for watching. hello.
i know already some of you have seen some fairly wintry conditions. i think, over the next couple of days, that prospect becomes a good deal more widespread across the british isles. thursday dawns with still a lot of wind to be had across the northern half of the british isles, maybe not just as windy as wednesday was, and it is a cold start to the day. cold and dry to start in the south—east. don't be fooled by that, because relatively mild air is moving in from the atlantic. we have real concerns through the day again about the strength of the wind and the snow, initially in northern parts, but there is a change on the way for southern areas. because your mild air, bringing the rain, will eventually run into that cold air, which is already in situ across wales, the midlands, and the northern parts of the british isles. and, as that moisture runs into the cold air,
so i think we'll see quite a significant conversion, slowly but surely through the day, of some of that rain into snow. initially across the high ground of wales, but eventually, as we get on into the afternoon, so more widely snow will become an issue, and notjust at higher levels, either. some doubt about the exact wheres and whens, but that is the general principle. all the while across the northern half of the british isles it is another bitterly cold day, with a lot of wind driving a whole peppering of showers into central and western parts of scotland, across northern ireland, into the north—west of england, and into northern parts of wales, on what is going to feel like a bitterly cold day, given the strength of the wind and the fact that your thermometers are never going to read better than two, three or four degrees. not quite out of the woods with regards to this problem in the south, because increasingly through the evening, so that snow will fall to lower levels. as it quits the scene, so those wetted surfaces will turn into icy surfaces underneath clear skies. at least clear for a time
because we have another weather feature dragging the prospect of more snow ever further south across scotland, into the north of england, such that friday morning could be a real fest of frost and ice, and some snowfall, we think, too, coming down across central and eastern parts of the british isles, before it eventually quits the scene, unfortunately just after the main rush hour, to leave behind another chilly, chilly day right across the piece, with further wintry showers across northern and western parts. but at least there will be some sunshine, and there will be a prospect of somewhat drier conditions following all the snow. the weekend starts chilly again, and then it turns milderfor many as we get to sunday. the latest headlines from bbc news. i'm mike embley. donald trump has said us intelligence agencies may have been behind claims that russia has compromising information on him. in his first news conference as president—elect, mr trump said the leak would be a tremendous blot on the agencies' reputation. the taliban release a video of two abducted university professors,
one australian, here on the left, the other american, pleading for donald trump to help secure their release. the german carmaker volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty in the us. it has also agreed to pay $3.a billion in fines. six employees have been indicted. now on bbc news, it's time for wednesday in parliament.