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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brianna Keilar  CNN  December 12, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST

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hi there and welcome to "cnn newsroom." thank you for joining me. i'm brianna keilar. just 39 days before donald trump is sworn in as president as he appears on the verge of choosing america's next top diplomat and using incredibly undiplomatic language towards america's experts. for that matter, china. having written off a cia report russian hackers sought to meddle
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in the election but help trump win, the presidentpresident-ele and tweeting early. who was doing the hacking? why wasn't it brought up before the election? well, it was, and they were caught in the act. lots to unpack in those two sentences and doing it throughout the hour. i also want to let you know donald trump officially announced his pick for homeland security secretary. as cnn and others reported dlaft week, he's got retired marine general john kelly, former held of the u.s. southern command, former aide to defense secretary leon panetta and gold star father having lost a son in afghanistan nofor that pick. secretary of state, trump favoring ex ceo of exxon/mobil, rex tillerson. if selected, expect to hear a lot about his ties with vladimir putin. and over to trump tower. when do you think we might hear
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a secretary of state announcement and if tillerson, they must be prepared for backlash here, ryan? >> reporter: yes. if they aren't, probably should be, on a transition conference call this morning, several transition officials saying we could hear this announcement sometimes in next couple of days and all signs point towards ex exxon/mobil ceo rex tillerson and already republicans voicing terns connections to russia talked about. john mccain, very concerned about ties to vladimir putin, a man he call as thug and murderer and marco rubio who sits on the foreign res relations committee. rubio tweeting in the last 24 hours any friend of vladimir putin is not someone he wants to see as secretary of state and rubio, in a powerful position on foreign relations because he could stop that confirmation before it even gets started. the fact trump is getting pushback from prominent republicans shows this could be a serious showdown for the
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preside president-elect in the early days of his election. and does he want that battle? some republicans are showing support for tillerson, like tomorrower secretary of defense bob gates and former secretary of state condoleezza rice. not as though there are republicans who don't support the nomination. be prepared for a fight if it ends up being tillerson. >> and another fight going on as donald trump is positions himself as a russia hacking denier. tell us about this feud with the intel committee. or with the intel community, i should say. >> reporter: yes. seems pretty clear that the president-elect and transition, they don't want to allow any type of question as to whether or not he won this election fair and square. that's why they're pushing back on these reports in a big way. the transition putting out statement, these are the same people talking about the intelligence community that said
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saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. remember, in the run-up to the iraq war, everything that happened there. of course, the weapons of mass destruction were not even found. it's not just the transition statement it is the president-elect himself pushing back on this. listen to what he told fox news over the weekend. >> i think it's ridiculous. i think it's just another excuse. i don't believe it. they have no idea if it's russia or china or somebody. it could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. they have no idea. >> so why would the cia put out the story the russians wanted you to win? >> i don't think they put it out. i think the democrats are purting it out because they suffered one of the greatest losses in the history of this country. >> brianna, it's important to point out just like that tillerson nomination we talked about, there are republicans that believe this situation should be investigated. among them one of the most powerful senators, mitch mcconnell, saying that bipar san investigation should go forward.
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>> ryan nobles in new york. thank you. and i want to bring in dana bash and bob kuzak and rebecca bird from real clear politics. why is donald trump feuding with the cia, dana? >> one reason. main reason. that is, because if the cia is correct in the finding that russia did get involved and try to basically affect the results of the election, then that suggests that the results of the election, which he says, the electoral college, at least, were a landslide, are not necessarily valid. now, that obviously takes a very big leap from what i just said at the beginning from the end, but even the suggestion that that could be possible is something that is anathema to donald trump and he does not want that in the ether. doesn't want it suggested in any
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way, shape or form. that's really, i think, there's no question the main reason why he is challenging that finding in the most, the strongest of terms. >> can he really get rid of that being in the ether, though, bob? seems even with the cia saying this is russia and this is why russia was trying to do it, the effect is hard to quantify. right? >> yeah, it is. it's not like the cia has never been wrong about the rise of isis. they were wrong about iraq, but this is remarkable. democrats blaming the fbi for clinton losing, you have trump at war with the cia. this puts, i think, mike pompeo, leading the cia in a difficult spot. his confirmation could be a little interesting during the questioning. so i think it's unprecedented that you have the intel community so politicized. >> i want to look at a tweet donald trump put out. he said, unless you catch hackers in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. why wasn't this brought up before the election? well, it was brought up before
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the election. i mean, we covered it for months before the election. >> sure. >> rebecca, hackers were caught in the act. especially in the dnc hack. what is he talking about? >> again, i think as dana was noting, donald trump is concerned about these findings potentially delegitimizing his victory. so obviously what he tweeted is not true. because the director of national intelligence and department of homeland security a month before election day put out a statement saying that russia was behind this, and that they were working to affect the election in some way. they hadn't concluded whether just for donald trump or just to stir up some chaos in the electoral system, but either way, they knew russia was behind the hack and in light of that statement, donald trump would not acknowledge it and he is still not acknowledging it now. >> i just want to say. despite what donald trump is doing and pushing back extremely hard for the reasons just
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discussed, the fact that there is bipartisan agreement on capitol hill, that it should be investigated, because it just, just the notion of russia getting so involved in an american election, if true, if so unbelievable, and something that needs to be addressed, and invempt invempt -- investigated, looked into and somehow, some way a conclusion found tells you a lot. >> goes beyond partisan lines there. >> sure. >> and donald trump had said, can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and we tried -- meaning we, my camp, tried to play the russia cia card? it would be called conspiracy theory. to dana's point, you have democrats and republicans who are saying this needs to be looked into, but is he right? >> well, i certainly think sometimes there can be a double standard, but chuck schumer issue add joint statement over the weekend with john mccain as well as lindsey graham. this plays into democrats kind of conquering, divide and
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conquer, and i think now the big question is mitch mcconnell it should be sleshted. not a select committee, through senate committees. what does paul ryan do? does paul ryan direct his house committees to also look into this and see if anything was there? and then you have a nomination that could be happening. rex tillerson, the ceo of exxon/mobil, rebecca, and he does have ties to russia through business. is this something with some bipartisan concerns that would be insurmountable for him in a confirmation process? >> not necessarily insurmountable, but certainly these revelations that russia was trying to disrupt the election with its hacking, trying to help donald trump in this election, certainly that will complicate his nomination process further because of his very close ties to vladimir putin and marco rubio who sits on the senate foreign relations committee tweeted over the weekend he feels uncomfortable with anyone who is considered a friend of vladimir putin moving forward as a potential secretary of state. and it's not just marco rubio in
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the senate foreign relations committee. jeff flake, a big skeptic of donald trump during the election, to put it lightly and rand paul, not a big fan of john bolton, flame out there for deputy secretary of state under tillerson. so major complications. republicans, seems, are sort of sending warning snarl ining si donald trump. maybe don't pick these people for secretary of state, but it's unclear whether he'll heed the warnings. >> he seemed set on this pick, though. is there anything that can derail any donald trump pick? >> the chances of tillerson being picked are on the decrease right knnow. this could be a bruising fight. what does donald trump like? he likes bruising fight so maybe just doubles down. >> what do you think? >> you're exactly right, i think. i think that in sort of normal washington times and terms, having these republicans, like
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marco rubio, send these warning shots, via twitter, that this is not a guy who they're very interested in confirming. because of his ties to vladimir putin n putin. that that would be, well it would make the transition take a step back and even the president-elect take a step back. i'm not so sure that's true with donald trump. >> donald trump took on boeing. now lockheed tweeting the f-35 program and cost is out of control. billions of dollars can and will be saved on military and other purchases after january 20th. now, this is a multibillion dollar program. the f-35 program, but lockheed's stock dropped 4% at the opening. is this about the image of doing something, or actually doing something to diminish costs? what do you think? >> brianna, i think both. he vowed he would take down the special interests and he is not your typical republican. he is going after big corporations. of course, that has huge effects. i think corporate america, whether in the health care field
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or defense, or drug pricing, i mean, you've got to be concerned that donald trump is going to go after you next. >> and i heard democrats this weekend commending him on getting involved. something to be said as well. >> remember, he is a pop pew lift and agrees and lines up on issues like that, a populist. lines up with many democrats. >> thank you all so much. up next, the cia and fbi are not on the same page when it comes to russia's role in the u.s. election. why is there this split between the communities there? we'll discuss, next. your insurance company
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the motive may not be clear
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yet, the u.s. symbol sdwrens committee is growing more confident russian hackers were meddling with the u.s. election. a bipartisan group of senators is calling for an investigation on the republican side, lindy graham and john mccain, on the democrat side, harry reid among others. and i want to bring in a former fbi assistant director and cnn national security analyst juliette cayenne. certainly the boss of the u.s., maybe not their boss, maybe a check on him as well. i want to ask you, juliette. donald trump says the intel community's assessment is ridiculous saying i don't believe it. one of his top aides is trying to clean that statement up. what kellyanne conway said. >> he is calling laughable and ridiculous yesterday george, is the specific conclusion that what russia did led to his victory and hillary clinton's
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defeat. that's where our beef is. he respects the intelligence community. >> that's not exactly what donald trump said. he actually questioned juliette, the very assessment russia is behind the hacking. not just claims from the cia this could have had an affect or this was the motive, i guess, what they said, by russia. why does that distinction matter, that he is indeed questioning the findings of the intelligence community? >> well, it's probably one of the most distressing aspects of a year that's certainly brought a lot of distress in the national security intelligence world. basically you have almost near sort of u nam itty russia hacked the system and questions where it had its influence but did so to favor trump. i think, you know, people worried about this just concede that trump will be president in january. right? that's not why people like me and others who are your analysts are concerned about this.
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the concern is that it's a foreign power that tried to sway an election. a democratic election. and if it is not confronted, if it is not addressed, if it is not penalized for doing so, we have midterms in 2018 and another presidential election in 2020. so that is why it's important for trump and his team no matter how much they try to clean it up, not throw the entire intelligence apparatus under the bus. they can have different policies related to their conclusions, certainly, but, look, there's member and women, right, who are, like, you know, basically -- risking their lives to provide trump and his team daily intelligence briefings, whoever on his team is taking them, and to give them the information they can make sound and fact-based policy decisions, and i think at the very least we have to respect those sacrifices and sort of recognize that this is not about trump. it is about the united states. >> tom, she said differences of
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opinion, which you heard from the fbi and cia. the cia drew the conclusion russia was trying to affect this in a positive way for trump in the election. the fbi did not. why is there that split? >> because i think that the cia information coming out is more along the lines of the russians got into the e-mails of the dnc and some of the officials, you know, associated with the clinton campaign. therefore, it must have been to throw the election. we haven't heard any direct evidence that shows that that was actually the motive for them getting into it. the other thing is that, you know, the question i have here is, what did the president know and when did he know it? >> president obama? >> president obama. these accusations were played in the summ the -- made in the summer, in the fall. director clapper testifying in october they thought the russians were interfering. now, he's the president of the
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united states and its lis duty to protect the sacred aspect of our election process. what did he do? now a month after the election, oh, let's have an investigation. >> there's an investigation. to the point you're bringing up, tom, donald trump tweeting, unless you catch hackers in the act it is very hard to determine who's doing the hacking. why wasn't this brought up before the election? >> you just said it. this was brought up months before the election, juliette, weigh in here. maybe it wasn't treated with the gravity certainly tom says it should have been treated with more gravity, gut but respond t this tweet, so clearly untree? >> it is absolutely untrue. raised by the intelligence agencies and i just -- this may seem like a hodgepodge of agencies but the cia obviously would have foreign intelligence leads, if they were picking up senate intelligence, if we had assets in, or near, putin to figure out whether they were talking about swaying the election towards trump. what's also interesting is the department of homeland security. the department i used to work
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at. they statutorily have oversight and meant to protect the dotcom domain. that's relevant because it's a domain john podesta and the dnc were working on. not working in government on dot mil or dot gov. the timing issue, we don't know, maybe not taken seriously, certainly raised. we don't know the information or sort of coalition of information was gathered to raise the desire by president obama to start this investigation this last friday. what we do know is, it matters not to trump versus clinton at this stage. it matters for 2018, 2020, 2022. >> sure. >> this is serious stuff, not related to any candidate at this stage. >> okay. and so -- i want to ask you, because -- i think we're seeing the, this call from donald trump, tom, that basically --
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he's pouring cold water weerter the intel community should be trusted. you have some experience here. does he have a point? the is he going overboard? is there credence to that? what do you think? >> i think he's going a little overboard and the accusations against the entire intel community, but there are times when even a sitting president doesn't take it seriously, even when getting it, or throws the cia, let's say, under the bus. which president obama just did that in his interview that was aired last week with fareed zakaria saying regarding isis and the rise of isis, it wasn't on my intelligence radar. you had people like general michael flynn, a leader in 2014, february 2014, testifying before the armed services committee at the senate about the rise of isis. so this has already been something coming to the white house for several years. we had 2013, leaders in kur
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kyrgyzstan, talking about isis rising in northern iraq and syria and at that time president obama referred to them as the jv team. he hasn't exactly been true to the intel briefinging he's got either. >> can i say something? >> quickly. >> there's a difference between accepting data and facts and then making policy decisions that may be right or wrong. deployment of troops, calling isis jv, it's different what trump is doing where he's saying he actually does not believe the facts and assessments. we have to distinguish between policy differences and facts. this is very different than previous presidents calculating policy based on intelligence. it's just a difference. >> quick final word to you, tom? >> i think that, still what did he do about any of this information over the last couple years? if you're going to relate policy to the intel briefings you get, so what you did with it that
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affected policy. >> tom fuentes and juliette qaim, thank you to both of you. still to come, donald trump's leading candidate for secretary of state is exxon ceo rex tillerson, but his deep ties with russia is drawing major scrutiny and not just from democrats. we'll break it all do ywn, next. this one is from
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the next 48 hours could bring perhaps the most important cabinet announcement that president-elect donald trump will make before he takes office. a source says his choice for secretary of state will be revealed midweek and we're told this oil industry executive is now the front-runner.
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exxon mobile ceo rex tillerson that close business ties to russia and given the country's order of friendship award by president putin. trump calls tillerson a world-class dealmaker. even republican lawmakers are weary of his close russian connections including senator marco rubio. he said this on twitter. being a friend of putin is not an at tra btribute i am hoping secretary of state. >> and what if donald trump picks him? i'm joined by cristina alesci and elise labbette. tell us about this? >> putin's quote in 2014 called exxon an old reliable partner. the reality, exxon has been operating in russia 20 years but tillerson helped strengthen ties between the company and russia. he was the architect between exxon's biggest deal there, the
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two partnered on a big oil development in the black sea, the arctic, in siberia. they signed aventure in 2011 and important for russia. it has plenty of oil but not the technology to develop it all's for that it depends on partners like the united states. now, exxon reported that agreement was for s 64 million acres, theize of oregon to put it in context. the deal should have been profitable for exxon. in 2014, the eu imposed sanctions on russia over the annexation of crimea and exxon ended up taking a huge loss. as much as $1 billion. this is why lawmakers are so concerned about tillerson. as secretary of state, he could push for removal or relief of sanctions in russia, which would be a windfall for exxon.
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brianna? >> thank you for explainings that. important stuff there. and he's actually been with exxon for decades. how did he rise through the ranks there? >> he actually joined in 1975 as an engineer and then he took a major role managing the russian account in 1998. look, his relationship with the country is one of the reasons he actually became ceo. because the company wanted to expand there, in that role, tillerson, like i said, orchestrated this deal with the largest, one of the largest oil and gas players in the russia. and shortly after that, russia awarded him, you mentioned elderer, the country's -- one of country's biggest honors. over the weekend, a member of parliament in russia said tillerson would be a sensation as secretary of state and that, quote/unquote, trump continues to amaze. again, this kind of reaction is sparking concern among lawmakers and the real question going back to the sanctions is, is tillerson willing to use
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sanctions against adversaries including russia given his history and friendships there, brianna? >> i couldn't have asked that question better myself. so elise labott what is the answer to that? >> well, tillerson himself has said he doesn't think that sanctions work. you remember what he said to shareholders in 2014. the question was about russia in general, but he said that the company doesn't think that, he doesn't think, that sanctions work, unless they're going to be implemented effectively. so the question is wetht ewheth would support the lists of sanctions. rex tillerson may have a good relationship with russia but it's really donald trump's foreign policy he'll be implementing. i think what lawmakers are very concerned about is, yes, with rex tillerson's ties to russia, but the larger policy that donald trump has talked about, about closer ties to russia, that fits into with all the denials of russian involvement in the hacking, that there's
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going to be too cozy of a relationship and they're going to overlook not just russia's influgs elections, meddling across eastern europe, its activities in ukraine and syria, russia will get a pass across the board. if you have a secretary of state, rex tillerson, very close to putin, there's a coziness there that makes lawmakers uncomfortable. >> certainly there is. we're seeing that play out. thank you to you positive both. still to come, russia is not our friend. those words from senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. top republican in the senate. this, as he now joins a chorus of our gop lawmakers who want to investigation the conclusions of the cia over russian hacking. live from the capitol, next. compared to oral-b 7000, philips sonicare flexcare platinum removes significantly more plaque. this is the sound of sonic technology cleaning deep between teeth. hear the difference?
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president-elect donald trump won't take office for another five and a half weeks but is churning of you a storm in capitol hill over russian meddling in the election he just won. the "washington post" reported this weekend the cia believes moscow worked secretly to get donald trump elected, those there's no evidence any medicine'lling affected the outcome. >> i think it's ridiculous. i think it's just another excuse. i don't believe it. personally, it could be russia. i don't -- really think it is, but -- who knows? i don't know either. they don't know and i don't know. >> nonetheless, some top senators from both parties are worried. the four seen here are calling for an investigation into russian meddles releasing a statement saying everything american should be alarmed. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell expressing similar concerns during a news conference a short time ago. >> it defies belief that somehow republicans in the senate are
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reluctant to either review russian tactics or ignore them. the russians are not our friends. >> cnn's manu raju joining us now and you just sat down with the outgoing senate minority leader, harry reid. he's blaming the fbi director for not doing more to investigate russia's meddling. we knew if was happening months before the election? >> right. and reid told me he was pushing jim comey for months to actually act, investigate and say publicly russia was involved in this election and the democratic disappointing election placing it squarely at jim comey's feet. not responsible at all for her own electoral problems. a fired up harry reid i just talked to a few minutes ago. >> reporter: if trump had won the race, if russia did not get involved? >> all i know is that russia helped a lot. those wikileaks comes out, drip,
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drip, drip, hurt her, and comey helped trump significantly. a week before the election, he came out and, with this, oh, he found more e-mails. and as a result of that, we lost senate seats and i think we lost the presidency. >> reporter: do you think comey single-handedly swayed the election and kept control of the senate for the republicans? >> i won't say single-handedly. had he not written that letter a week or so before the election, she would have won. we would have pickle up at least two more senate seats. >> reporter: are you okay with the president skipping briefings, only getting briefed twice a week? >> it's concerning to me. they spend 80 hours a week getting ready to brief the president. 80 hours a week before that information is so sensitive. i don't get one every day but
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one every couple of weeks that's very concerning, and i think it's unbelievable that he said, well, let pence do it. sha should that should be done by the chief executive of our government. >> reporter: and saying that donald trump takes that presidential daily briefing just once a week and outsources the rest to mike pence. reid also in the interview said he tried to, he along with house minority leader nancy pelosi tried to come out way letterer earli ear -- with a letter earlier in the summer suggesting this, and republicans rejected it and said rex tillerson, donald trump's likely pick for secretary of state would have a hard time getting confirmed, gettinged 50 votes to be confirmed. one person not voting, harry reid, retiring the end of the year. >> we'll see if there's enough pressure for rex tillerson to not be the pick. manu raju, thank you. china sending a stern message to the president-elect
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the u.s. intelligence community has taken unprecedented abuse but donald trump is still bashing china threatening to tear up the very foundation of sino american relations, the so-called one china policy relegating taiwan
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to the roam ofle of a renegade chinese province. >> i fully understand the one china policy. i don't know why we have to be bound by a one china policy unless we have a deal having to do with other things, including trade. >> china not amused. so, matt, you first. tell us what beijing is saying today and also just why this is such a touchy subject, taiwan? >> well, the chinese communist party here has reacted in several different ways throughout the day. we'll take you through it chronologically. we woke up this morning here to an editorial in a state-run newspaper that is censored by the chinese communist party usesed to express often more, less measured tones, if you will, and so in this editorial in the "global times" a tabloid
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newspaper, they wrote, he, meaning donald trump is like a child. the one china policy cannot be bought and sold. both by going through tough times will he come to realize that china and other international powers are not to be bullied. very negative editorial there followed up later this afternoon by a regular scheduled press conference at the ministry of foreign affairses where the spokesperson reiterated china's staunch support of the one china policy saying that if it is compromised, cooperation, bilateral cooperation between the u.s. and any major fields between the u.s. and china would be out of the question. so very strong words, but to your question of why this is such a touchy subject, look at the policy itself. so under the one china policy, beijing views taiwan as a renegade chinese, break away chinese province. under that policy the united states only has formal diplomatic relations with beijing and not taiwan. if the incoming trump
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administration were to turn back on this policy and go so far as establish diplomatic relations with taiwan, that could signal to the chinese government that the trump administration is in favor of an independent taiwan, something beijing certainly would not be happy with. >> certainly not. we're seeing china expresses displeasure just through what matt describes and also in other ways? >> right. so china for the first time last week flew nuclear capable bombers along a disputed region in the south china sea. and there china has claimed but that taiwan and other smaller countries dispute in that region nap was regarded as a provocative action. china has also voted in recent days against the united states on the u.n. security council on syria-related measures where previously china a abstained.
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these moves taken together appear to some in the diplomatic community to be calculated messages from china to the president-elect. sort of warning trump and warning the united states th that -- that actions like flouting the one china policy come with consequences. obviously, there have been no, no military attacks or anything along those lines, flying nuclear-capable bombers along the disputed region was, though, something china had not previously done before. >> and we've heard throughout the election so many times donald trump bashing china over its trade practices, but then we also heard him yesterday when he was on fox weighing in on the south china sea dispute. and north korean nukes. what is that going to look like? what's the concern about a potential showdown? >> well, it's somewhat ironic that trump is sort of casting
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all of this as an effort to force china to the table to negotiate new trade bargains, because trump also is indicating that one of his first moves in office will be to withdraw the united states from the trans-pacific partnership, which is a trade deal involving many of china's neighbors, but not china. and that was regarded as an effort to give the united states influence over the economy of the asia-pacific in a way that sort of countered china and denied china the ability to set the rules in the region, and so it's, honestly, not clear right now exactly what trump's end game is here. he's clearly showing that he's willing to, to anger china, to dump decades of u.s. policy, but it's not clear exactly where he wants to go, because he's not in
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office yet. >> yeah. it's very interesting. eric bradner, matt rivers, thanks to both of you. and let's talk about a story six months later now. the pulse nightclub. one community is honors lives lost there. this is cnn talks exclusively with police and first responders who remember that tragic night in orlando. we're hear the harrowing stories, next. before i had the shooting, burning, pins-and-needles of diabetic nerve pain, these feet... ... kicked off a lot of high school games... ... built a life for my family...
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... and liked to help others in need. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer. so i talked to my doctor and he prescribed lyrica. nerve damage from diabetes causes diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is fda-approved to treat this pain, from moderate to even severe diabetic nerve pain. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or blurry vision. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands, legs, and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. now i have less diabetic nerve pain. and it's great to help others get back on their feet. ask your doctor about lyrica.
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it's been six months since 49 people died in a mass shooting in pulse nightclub in orlando. tonight around the club, not the club itself, opened in the names of those who lost their lives read. the exact time the shooter started his attack, survivors staff and family members held a moment of silence. pulse posted this picture on its facebook page along with this message. this morning was very emotional to the beautiful 49 we will never forget and continue to keep your pulse beating. the massacre is also something police officers will never forget. deborah feyerick sat down with the police chief who shared details never revealed, until now. >> at the pulse. p-u-l-s-e. everybody's bleeding everywhere. >> reporter: where was the concentration of people who didn't make it?
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>> the main dance floor was the greatest concentration of dead bodies. he did most of his killing within the first two minutes, and the video and audio that i heard, you know, multiple gunshots. multiple magazine changes all within the first minute or two. >> reporter: do you have any sense of how many rounds he fired? >> hundreds of rounds. i don't know the exact count. >> reporter: the first orlando police officer arrived on-scene while the gunman was still shooting. the sergeants and his team en r entering through the open patio and on to the dance floor. >> stating things like, if anyone can hear us, raise your hand. some of the folks that were, of course, obviously deceased, but they were still trying to hold on to each other to protect each other. >> reporter: on the opposite side near the main door, officer james highland was preparing to make entry with the second team. >> once i was up to the south doors, a female came out and she just dropped to the ground.
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so -- while -- there was gunfire still going on, i tapped one of the officers in front of me. i said, hey, give me some cover. i went and grabbed the female. >> reporter: shattering a picture window, highland and s.w.a.t. officer ben moved quickly towards the back of the club. >> we got five other, five or six other officers with us and made entry into the club, where the gunfire was coming from. we had an idea the gunman was in the bathroom. didn't know where at the time so we held our positions. >> reporter: fair to say you had your firearm up and ready? >> absolutely. >> reporter: the whole time? >> the whole time. >> reporter: the shooter briefly appears. police fire but miss. the gunman is barricaded with hostages. >> shooter in the bathroom, holding cover on him allowing me and a bunch of officers to go in and start extracting the wounded
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that were there there. >> reporter: ambulances blocks away from the safety perimeter. >> i remember, use my truck. get them ouch heout of here. another officer jumped in my truck, take them from behind the cars and load them on the back of the truck and take them down to the hospital down the street. >> reporter: 15 trips in all as frantic phone calls come steadily from inside the night p cl nightcl nightclub. >> advising reloading in the bathroom. >> reporter: 30 minutes into the attack, the self-proclaimed isis gunman exchanges three phone calls with police. >> you have some vehicles outside that have some bombs, just to let you know. your people are going to get it. i'm going to ignite it if they try to do anything stupid. >> reporter: a new threat as a bomb dog identifies the scent of explosives in the gunman's car. dozens of police and deputies work quickly to rescue survivors hiding throughout the club. some two dozen hostages remain
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trapped in the south bathroom and in the north, the gun smman pointing his assault weapon towards the door ready for police. more than two hours into the standoff. >> why isn't anyone coming to get us in the bathroom? there's two people in here about to die. four already dead. someone needs to come in here now. >> if our officers feet away heard him start shooting they obviously would have went right through that bathroom door and engaged him. >> reporter: a text comes through about 4:30 saying he's going to but suicide vests on us and blow the club up. that must have accelerated things quickly. >> it did. negotiations stopped. he wasn't answering our phone call. >> related to us while in there he had explosives and he was going to blows club up if we didn't back out. no one backed out. >> my s.w.a.t. team commander telling me what the plan is. i say, get ready for an explosive breach. he comes back and said, they're ready.
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it went off. >> hit the lights. kind of the dust settled and the wall was still there. >> reporter: s.w.a.t. officer robert hoodyard aims his armored vehicle with a battering ram at the rear wall. >> change it to four-wheel drive just in case and just drove at the hole. that was supposed to be breached. >> reporter: but it was the hallway. the hostages are feet away. so he rams a second hole. >> i remember -- backing out and just seeing hands. just immediately -- a couple of the guys on the ground grabbed a hand-held ram and they started to make the holes bigger, and once it got big enough, people started coming out. >> reporter: the officers did start hearing shots coming from the north bathroom, and we learned later from the survivors that that was the shooter actually shooting out at the officers. so that's when our officers, again, thinking i'll fly through
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diversionary devices, flash bangs, made loud noise, bright light and somewhere during that time period, that's when the shooter came out of the big hole that was maids in the hallway, and immediately began firing at our officers. several officers, officers returned fire, killing him right there. >> reporter: the standoff is over three hours and 15 minutes after it began. 49 people are dead. 53 injured. with 101 people rescued from inside the club. dozens of police and sheriffs deputies. why not launch that rescue operation sooner? >> going in that doorway within the first few minutes basically would have been a suicide mission for the officers, but also, like i said, more importantly, i believe many hostages would have lost their lives at that moment. either from the gunman or from friendly fire from our officers, if we had gone in right away through that bathroom.
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>> reporter: survivors were iran viewed and only then learned the gunman was waiting to ambush his s.w.a.t. team. >> i'm very, very proud the way police responded. >> reporter: deborah feyerick, cnn, florida. thank you to deb for that report and thank you for watching "newsroom." "wolf" starts right now. hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington. 8:00 p.m. in aleppo, syria. 9:00 p.m. in moscow. wherever you're watch from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. discussions about russia top the hour. president-elect donald trump using the word "ridiculous" as his opinion on cia reports russia's hacking was intended to influence the u.s. presidential election. he also tweeted this morning, and i'm quoting now, can you imagine if the election results can the opposite and we tried to play the russia cia card?


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