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. volkswagen agrees to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us and will pay the biggest fine ever imposed for disguising the level of emissions from its diesel cars. 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. not 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 germophobe, 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, out. 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. the bbc has known about this leaked report that alleges russia has compromising information about trump for some time now, but decided to report only after it became clear the us intelligence agencies were taking them seriously enough to brief the president and president—elect. paul wood has been following the story for months and this is what he told us. well, let's not lose sight of the central allegation here, which is donald
trump, president—elect of the united states, is vulnerable to blackmail by the russians. that is such an extraordinary claim, so much depends on the credibility of author of this dossier. he has now been named as christopher steele, a former mi6 agent who was in moscow in the early 19905. speaking to one intelligence source, he is apparently very highly regarded among his peers as competent and trustworthy and that reputation, i think, is one of the main reasons why what he said, the allegations that he repeated from russian security officers, were taken so seriously by the american intelligence institutions. i spoke to one intermediary, we cannot speak to cia case officers directly, but i spoke to an intermediary and the message came back that the people dealing with this file, that they found it credible, that there was more than one tape, an audiotape as well as a video tape, that there were several times that these activities supposedly took place and in more than one location,
not only the ritz carlton in moscow but saint petersburg as well. the fact that the cia found those allegations credible enough to put on the desk of president obama is not them saying they believe the allegations, they are just saying they are worthy of consideration. one further thing — this former mi6 officer is not the only source. i spoke to a retired spy last august who said he had been told of the existence of a blackmail tape by the head of an east european intelligence agency over the summer. we should stress in all of this that these are allegations and mr trump is literally correct when he says they are unsubstantiated. nevertheless, america's are in an incredible position nine days before an inauguration to decide whether or not their president is a russian agent of influence. 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 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 $4.3 billion. in addition, six employees have been indicted for their role in the affair, including one who was arrested last week. sarah corker responds reports. it has been dubbed diesel gate. the world ‘s second—biggest carmaker ridding environmental tests for diesel emissions. and now volkswagen will pay a heavy price for what us authorities have described as a ten year conspiracy. volkswagen is pleading guilty to three felony. conspiracy to defraud the us state, to commit wire fraud and to violate
the clean air act. obstruction of justice and importation of goods by false statement. the final $3.4 billion eases the biggest ever levied by the us government against thekm i have. volkswagen has already agreed to a $15 billion civil settle m e nt agreed to a $15 billion civil settlement and worldwide over 11 million vehicles involved in scandal. the us attorney general says that vw lied to cover up of its actions. hundreds of thousands of ca i’s actions. hundreds of thousands of cars that volkswagen sold in the united states were pumping illegal levels of much an ox —— nitrogen oxide into our atmosphere. what is more, these vehicles were equipped with software that masked the true amount of the pollutants that the car is released. it looks as though us regulators are far from finished. six executives have been formally
charged with conspiracy. translation: if it does come out that management was informed about aspect of diesel gate earlier than they have admitted them we must assume that lawsuits will be filed, not just by shareholders assume that lawsuits will be filed, notjust by shareholders at assume that lawsuits will be filed, not just by shareholders at a assume that lawsuits will be filed, notjust by shareholders at a whole also by the parent company would likely make the management responsible for recourse. volkswagen says a deeply regrets the behaviour that led to the scandal but there is still a turbulent road ahead as the company still a turbulent road ahead as the com pa ny faces still a turbulent road ahead as the company faces potentially damaging suits in europe. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: the afghan taliban release a video of two abducted professors, one australian, the other american, we'll have the latest from sydney. 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.
volkswagen agrees to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us for disguising the level of emissions from its diesel cars. the taliban has released a video of two men kidnapped in august, in which they plead 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 see since they were abducted as they left work at the american university in kabul. let's speak to our sydney correspondent hywel griffith. this video makes pretty distressing viewing? yes, it is 13 minutes long in several sections and we see both men really distraught, weeping at stages as they describe how they were abducted and how they have been kept, they seemed in relatively good condition but making it clear, they
said, that if no negotiation or exchange takes place soon they are sure they will die. they will have been undertake stream to rest when this was recorded and they said the video is being recorded onjanuary the first, a week and a half ago —— extreme to rest. clearly the impact is meant to be felt in australia and the us. as far as we know no negotiations have taken place. the men import their families to put pressure on the authorities to do so, again underline what they say will be their fate if no prisoner exchange takes place with taliban prisoners —— implore. exchange takes place with taliban prisoners -- implore. any indications as to the attitude of the australian government and the incoming american government?” the australian government and the incoming american government? i have heard from the australian government within the last hour, they have said they have made efforts with other governments, we assume the american government, to try and release timothy weeks, they say they have been given support from his family
but they don't want to discuss it any further. nothing from the americans so far, certainly it isn't evenin americans so far, certainly it isn't even in donald trump's and yet to play a part in this sort of negotiation but there's a president in 2014 when sergeant bowe bergdahl was exchange for prisoners held at guantanamo bay so there's a president but there's no indication from the us, who seem to be in the driving seat, as to how they would wa nt driving seat, as to how they would want this to play out. it is clear the two professors are distressed. any more indication on health generally? they say that they either the same food as the taliban, they use the phrase good conditions. certainly they look distressed. at one stage it suggests they are straining with the light and they may have potentially been kept in dark conditions. certainly their whereabouts have been difficult to
track. we believe u.s. whereabouts have been difficult to track. we believe us. navy seals did at one stage shortly after the kidnap in august tried to actually rescue them a couple of weeks afterwards in kabul, but it is believed they have been moved hours before the navy seals hit the ground. they have been kept well away from public view. this is the first release from the taliban giving any indication of their existence, that they are still alive. theirfamilies existence, that they are still alive. their families will dearly hope that remains the case and this can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. for sure. thank you very much. in other news: it's reported iraqi forces have made new advances fighting the extremists of the so—called islamic state group, around mosul. 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. there's been a dramatic drop in the number of migrants seeking asylum in germany in the past year. official figures show that 280,000 claimants arrived there last year, compared to 890,000 in 2015. the german interior minister
thomas de maiziere said that the decrease was due to the closure of the baulk route and the migrant deal between the eu and turkey. our correspondentjenny hill has this assessment from berlin. these figures represent a reduction in the number of people seeking asylu m in the number of people seeking asylum in germany, bearing in mind a year before nearly 900,000 people arrived in this country and that triggered not just arrived in this country and that triggered notjust social disquiet but huge political turmoil too. these figures are not only a significant reduction, they actually come much closer to what some of angela merkel‘s critics have been calling for, and of annual upper limit of 200,000 migrants every year —— an. on the one hand i think there isa —— an. on the one hand i think there is a sense of relief here but even ministers admit there are huge challenges ahead. first of all there are still hundreds of thousands of outstanding asylum applications. and then there's the business of trying to integrate the people who have been granted leave to stay and those who will be allowed to stay. this is an election year for germany. angela merkel‘s government have to persuade
a pretty nervous german electorate that not only can integration happens successfully but that it can also in sure it will identify any potential terrorists who have managed to come in with that migrant influx. i think too any sense of triumph might be tempered by the fa ct triumph might be tempered by the fact this production in numbers has very little to do with any kind of domestic policy. angela merkel‘s government has gradually toughened its asylum policy, but the reason these numbers are down is twofold. first of all its to do with the fact those countries along the so—called balkans route closed their doors to migrants, in effect ceiling of the so—called major route through europe to germany and ministers i think i'll also painfully aware that this reduction, these lower numbers, is also very much reliant on that migrant deal struck between the eu and turkey. it's a fragile deal, they don't relieve no if it's going to hold at the moment, it seems to
be doing so but it is precarious. 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 1.3 million likes and over 655,000 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... it's emerged that the us intelligence chief james clapper has spoken to the president—elect on the phone. in a statement mr clapper says he doesn't believe the us intelligence community leaked the documents which allege russian intelligence has compromising information on mr trump. more on that when we have it. that's it for now. thanks very much for watching. and you can get in touch with me and most of the team on twitter, i'm @bbcmikeembley. thanks very much for watching. hello.
i know already some of you have seen some fairly wintry conditions. you may have seen some wintry fair in the last day or two but that prospect is more widespread across britain in the next couple of days. a cold, blowy start to the day in the northern half of the british isles but something slightly different coming from the south—west, mild, moist atlantic air. don't be fooled by the dry start in the south—east, things will change markedly here and through the day further concerns for those on the move about the strength of the wind and there will be snow and notjust where we've already seen it because we're bringing in that mild, moist air into an atmosphere really quite cold i suspect eventually through the day across some parts of southern britain we will see a conversion of some of this rain into snow. first up you may think what's all the fuss is about, "i thought there would be loads of snow?" it will be this mild air first of all that has to drag the moisture in from the atlantic and run it into that cold air and once that process really gets going, and it
may be well into the afternoon before you see it, eventually there will be some snowfall tracking its way ever further to the east, some of it getting to and lying in lower levels and all the while in the northern half of the british isles it's that cold, blustery sort of day again with frequent snow showers, blizzards across higher ground so not a day for the mountains by any means at all! that's what the thermometers will say, this is how cold it will feel especially across northern parts given the strength of the wind here. we have real concerns for the evening rush that some of the snow, as i say, could well lie to low levels across east anglia, the south—east midlands and the south—east and once it's away underneath clearing skies, the temperatures will fall and ice could become an issue for a time until we bring potentially another belt of snow down to the northern half of the british isles. if you're on the move first thing on friday morning it could be a real fest of frost and ice
and for some, further snowfall. notjust across northern britain, this feature could drag that's no prospect in east anglia, these midlands and parts of the south—east during friday rush hour but once it's away there is a brighterfresher prospect with some sunshine, but it does nothing for the feel of the day. the latest headlines from bbc news. i'm mike embley. 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 compromising material on him. he said it would be a "tremendous blot" on their reputation if they were responsible. the taliban has released a video of two professors kidnapped in august, pleading for donald trump to negotiate their release. it's the first time the australian timothy weeks, here on the left, and the american kevin king, have been seen since they were abducted as they left work at the american university in kabul. 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 from its diesel powered cars. it has also agreed to pay 4.3 billion dollars in fines. six employees have been indicted, including one arrested just last week. now it's time for panorama. on panorama tonight: we return to tunisia to investigate the terror attack on the beach. i was on my knees. i just kept praying to god to keep us alive. we find the holidaymakers who say they were misled about the risks. i was just constantly asking the question — are we going to be safe? we expose the police failures that may have cost lives. the policeman admitted he was so scared he fainted. and we identify the man accused of masterminding the attack.