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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 12, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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happening now, intel outrage. donald trump goes even further in his refusal to accept the cia's findings on russian hacking, prompting new pushback by fellow republicans and the clinton campaign. tonight, new information as to why u.s. intelligence officers suspect the hackers tried to help trump win the election. putin's pal. sources say trump is electing to choose exxonmobil chief rex tillerson to become america's top diplomat. but some members of trump's party is spoiling for a fight, citing his ties to the russian president. nuclear warning. rising tension as china has an unprecedented show of force. could it explode into a military
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conflict. about face on obama. trump says he's not going to wipe out the 44 president's legacy. tonight, the praise of the man he once bashed during the campaign. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." tonight, president-elect donald trump is escalating his dispute with the u.s. intelligence community, rejecting findings that russia tried to help him win the white house as ridiculous. the trump camp now suggesting that intel about russian hacking is part of a partisan conspiracy to delegitimize his presidency. there's a bipartisan push right now to further investigate claims that moscow tried to influence the u.s. presidential election. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell says he backs the idea of a congressional investigation.
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the clinton camp also weighing in. former campaign chairman john podesta is supporting calls for members of the electoral college to get an intelligence briefing on russian hacking, some asking for the information before they vote next week presumably to seal donald trump's victory. the president-elect may be just hours away from revealing his choice of secretary of state. sources say exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson remains the leader candidate. but there are increasing signs that tillerson may face a confirmation fight in the senate. some top gop senators are joining with democrats right now in raising red flags about tillerson's personal ties to russia. we're also following an unprecedented military move in disputed water where is tensions have boiled over before. china, flying nuclear capable bombers over the south china sea for the first time in an apparent warning to president-elect trump. this after trump questioned whether the united states should
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keep its long-standing policy that taiwan is part of one china. we'll get reaction to all of this from a democrat on the house intelligence committee andre carson. and our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by. first, cnn's ryan noblestower i. what's the latest? >> reporter: it's been a busy day for donald trump here on 5th avenue as a parade of potential administration officials have made their way into trump tower. as the trump transition continues to take shape, the president-elect remains at the center of a fierce debate over the alleged role of russia in an attempt to interfere in the presidential election. tonight, donald trump refusing to accept cia reports that conclude russia attempted to intervene in the presidential election, tweeting can you
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imagine if we tried to play the russia/cia card? it would be called conspiracy theory. this just hours after telling fox flues t fox news the same thing. >> i don't believe it. >> reporter: trump claiming that the accusation never came up during the election, even though it did. and that hackers weren't caught in the act, which they were. of course, a bipartisan senators are calling for a deeper probe. and trump insists it's the democrats placing the blame on russia. >> i'm not sure they put it out. i think the democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country, and i think they're putting it out and it's ridiculous. >> reporter: which entirely miss the problem of a foreign entity attempting to undermine the integrity of the u.s. election. it makes any potential investigation challenging.
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but the senate's most powerful republican is also pushing back. arguing that the intelligence is correct, and an investigation is needed. >> i agree with senator schumer, chairman mccain, burr, and others, this cannot be a partisan issue. the russians are not our friends. >> reporter: and now the clinton campaign is backing a demand from electoral college electors for a full intelligence briefing on the matter ahead of their official vote december 19th. this amid questions of trump's likely pick for secretary of state, rex tillerson, and his close ties to putin and russia. florida senator marco rubio, who sits on the senate foreign relations committee, tweeting being a friend of vladamir is not an attribute i'm hoping for from a secretary of state. these battles being waged as trump continues to shape his upcoming administration. making trips to trump tower today -- >> really cool stuff in his office. >> reporter: former presidential candidate carl carl, former
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congressman alan west, and former texas governor rick perry, now considered as the next energy secretary. a department that, as a presidential candidate, he suggested be shut down. and after a day of meetings here in new york city, donald trump will get back on the road. he'll wrap up his thank you tour this week with stops in wisconsin, pennsylvania, florida, and alabama. wolf? >> ryan, thank you very much. ryan nobles reporting for us. tonight, we're getting new information about the u.s. intelligence that president-elect trump refuses to believe. what clues led u.s. intelligence officials to conclude that the hackers were trying to help donald trump win the presidential election? our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto has been digging on this. what are you learning? >> reporter: the new information is that hackers breached several republican targets. lawmakers, as well as republican party organizations, as part of this broad hack, but one thing that's leading the intelligence community to believe that this
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hack was intended to primarily target or injure hillary clinton, hurt her chances, is that information from republican sources was not released to the public. a former senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the inquiry tells cnn the investigation discovered russian hacking of republican entities, not just the democratic national committee, and hillary clinton's top aide john podesta. cnn has told that hackers got hold of information from some republican house members, pundits, a third party entity that held data for the republican national committee and nonprofit groups tied to the party. most of the information relating to the republican party was not released by hackers. that, in part, led the intelligence community to assess that russia could have been acting to impact the election for trump. though it was not clear whether this was truly for trump or just to weaken clinton. fbi investigators were not as convinced. some of the data appears to have
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been outdated and perhaps of less value to hackers. tonight, the white house said it believes it is clear who russia was trying to help. >> these were e-mails from the dnc, and john podesta, not from the rnc and steve bannon. >> reporter: this has put president elect donald trump and his team at odds with the u.s. intelligence committee. the president-elect himself is questioning the assessment that russia was involved in any election related hacking at all. >> once they hack, if you don't catch them in the act, you're not going to catch them. they have no idea whether it's russia, china, or somebody. >> reporter: trump's transition team is disputing a report that the republican national committee was hacked as well, though no information was made public. >> the intelligence is wrong, because they're writing the conclusion they came to was based in part the rnc was hacked. it wasn't hacked. >> reporter: though investigators do have republican
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entitie entities, though not the rnc, was hacked. so he can argue that the rnc was not hacked but other republicans were breached. but again, part of the judgment from the intelligence community that this was intended to help trump, that information was not released to the public the way we saw was targeting the democratic party. >> a lot of that information so embarrassing and damaging to the hillary clinton campaign. thank you very much, jim sciutto reporting. joining dimitri, thank you very much for coming in. you investigated the hacks of the democratic national committee. >> our firm did catch the
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russians in the act when the dnc hired us back in may. we employed our technology and we watched these adversaries, for a number of days and weeks, as we we prr pairing to kick them out. >> who were these adversaries, these people doing the hacking of the dnc? >> there were two independent working groups we associated with russian intelligence agent sis. one we associated with gru, the military russian agency. they're responsible for the takeover of crimea. putin had admitted these were gru operatives. >> where were they based? >> we can't get that specific, but the headquarters of the gru were in moscow. >> but the hackers, the major russian intelligence agency. >> highly likely these were gru operatives, working out of buildings in moscow, perhaps a
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headquarters in moscow. but perhaps contractors. >> you say you caught them in the act of doing this at the democratic national committee. talk to us about that, how do you do that? >> the democratic national committee suspected something may be wrong. they brought us in and we deployed our falcon technology and picked up a trace of these two attackers. we saw them going after e-mail community servers, stealing e-mails from the dnc for a period of nine months going back to 2013. and then going after sensitive documents that the campaign was preparing on donald trump and other republican candidates that were running for the primary. >> so the working assumption is the russian intelligence agency then gave these documents, all these e-mails to wikileaks, and then wikileaks would release them on a daily basis, is that your understanding? >> we have two other sources, an organization called d.c. leaks and gucifer and gucifer claimed
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he claim the information to wikileaks. >> what is your reaction when you hear john bolton, former u.s. ambassador to the united nations, a man considered possibly a deputy secretary of state in a trump administration, saying this could have been what he calls a false flag? >> you can never discount that, but the evidence here is overwhelming. we looked at all the forensic evidence, we have the fbi and the intelligence community confirm publicly in october, independently that they believe the pollutions were behind the attack. and the thing you have to understand is that we've been tracking these intelligence agencies for years. one of them, the gru, has been active since mid 2000. we have over ten years of history of their campaigns, hundreds of intrusions into different organizations. >> how high is your confidence that the russian did this? >> very high. >> is it your understanding that
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the u.s. intelligence community agrees with you? >> yes. they would not have come out in october with a public statement saying the same. >> what is your reaction as donald trump says it could have been some guy sitting on his bed in new jersey doing this? >> well, i think the evidence here is overwhelming. i hope he's getting briefed on the evidence the intelligence community has which is much wider than what we're looking at. they may have human sources inside russia or signal intelligence that suggests that people may be behind this. so hopefully they're briefing him on this. >> has the republican national committee asked you to do a similar investigation whether you were hacked? >> they have not. but we are working on other organizations on the republican side. >> have they been hacked similarly? >> there have been republican operatives have been hacked. >> when you say operatives, what does that mean? >> people affiliated with the republican party. >> that's what mike mccaul told me back in september, originally
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he said on our show that the -- he believed the republican national committee was hacked. he said that was a misstatement. he said, what he intended to say in addition to the dnc hack, republican political operatives have also been hacked. >> that is correct. >> that is your understanding? >> yes. >> but that information was not released through wikileaks or anybody else? >> we saw some releasing. we saw colin powell's releases getting released, some low level operatives getting released, their e-mails on d.c. leaks. but that hasn't gotten much attention. >> thanks so much for coming in. >> thank you. >> we'll continue this conversation. in the last hour, we spoke with a donald trump ally, chairman pete hook stra. now let's talk to a current member of the intelligence committee, greg carson. thank you very much for joining us, congressman. >> thank you for having me, wolf. >> so based on the briefings
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you've received in the house intelligence committee, do you believe the cia, in its conclusion that russia not only wanted to erode trust in the entire democratic process here in the united states, but was actually working to try to get donald trump elected president? >> my personal opinion is that i trust what we've been hearing from news outlets, that, in fact, there was an honest attempt or an attempt, pardon me, by moscow to disrupt our electoral process. to me that's unacceptable. it brings into question where do we go from here? it could be us reverting back to a system that is nonelectronic as it relates to our elected positions. >> why do you believe russian hackers potentially could sit on stolen information from republican targets, whether members of congress, republican pundits, an rnc vendor, and not
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release that information as opposed to releasing information that was embarrassing to the democrats and hillary clinton's campaign? >> well, i think we're still gathering additional information as we speak. i think that the senate intelligence committee, the house intelligence committee, we will certainly have hearings related to unearthing these matters going forward, as well as working with house and senate leaders in terms of pressing the issue to get to the root causes. but it seems as if mr. trump's language, his overtures to russia, could have been a motivating factor, that is not to say that mr. trump gave a directive or was in concert with the russian government, but it is to suggest that his favorable comments throughout the campaign opened the door for the russian government to feel as if they have an ally in the white house. and that is very troubling for
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our national security. >> i want you to stand by, congressman. we're getting breaking news coming into "the situation room." we've got to take a quick break. we'll resume this conversation. share the new information we're getting right after this. whoa, whoa, i got this. just gotta get the check. almost there. i can't reach it. if you have alligator arms, you avoid picking up the check. what? it's what you do. i got this. thanks, dennis! if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. growwwlph. it's what you do. oh that is good crispy duck.
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news conference that had been scheduled for this thursday, the sources now tell cnn the president-elect will make the announcement on how she's splitting up his business to avoid potential conflicts of interest as much as possible, handing over the business to his adult children. that news conference will now take place in january. we're getting more information on this. we're back with house intelligence committee member andre carson. are you satisfied that he will be able to make sure that his adult children, his two sons in particular, some others run the business, so that he avoids any potential conflict of interest as president of the united states? >> well, mr. trump's decision to choose whomever he wishes to rub
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his organizations is a personal one. i just want to make sure we don't have the appearance of impropriety or any impropriety as it relates to our commander in chief, being focused on the issues of the day. the job of president is very demanding and requires that president be free of any personal business obligation to focus on the american people and focus on our presence in the world and moving our country forward. >> as you know, the president-elect is rejecting the cia's person, the intelligence committee's concern about russia's involvement. he's concerned that all of these stories, all these reports are politically motivated to raise questions about his legitimacy as the elected president of the united states. what is your response going to be? >> i think the men and women who work hard each and every day throughout our 17 intelligence agencies do a great job. i think it's important to note that we cannot minimize their great work, nor can we
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recklessly accuse this of being a false flag operation. i think it's irresponsible and unbecoming of a commander in chief. my hope is that mr. trump will walk back his language going forward. i think these times are ever critical, wolf. and it's time for us to take these assessments quite seriously, because we are the greatest nation in recorded history. and that does not come without its enemies. >> how do you respond to that tweet that the trump campaign released saying the u.s. intelligence got it way wrong as far as saddam hussein's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, so don't believe everything you hear from the u.s. intelligence community. you remember the intelligence committee. what's your response? >> it's obvious that intelligence is not perfect. we're always making corrections. the intelligence community is always coming with additional information from additional
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sources. so it's not fail proof. but at the same time, he cannot cite the situation that happened with saddam hussein and iraq and compare it to this one. what is most important is that he has the microphone. he has the largest stage in the world, and to talk recklessly, because he still is speaking to his group of supporters. he's styling himself as being someone who is anti-establishment and as a maverick, and that fits into his narrative. >> listen to what the president-elect said yesterday about the daily presidential intelligence briefings that he's been getting maybe once a week. the vice president elect gets them every day. listen to what he said. >> these are very good people that are giving me the briefings. and i said, if something should change at this point, immediately call me. i'm available on one minute's notice. i'm like a smart person. i don't have to be told the same
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thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years, would be eight years, but eight years. i don't need that. >> do you think that's an appropriate attitude for the incoming commander in chief? >> i think about the words my grandmother told me, i think about lee hamilton, one of our state dignitaries and statesman, i think about congressman jacobs who gave me the advice to master the briefing, master the briefing. it's about showing up, putting yourself into the work, understanding the different policy issues. it may sound redundant, but if you're there for practice each day, understanding these issues, it will help hone your instincts. it will put you in tune with the hard work and the sacrifices that these men and women are making in our intelligence community each day, and you may miss something if you simply dismiss the intelligence briefing. there's so much going on in our world each and every day that
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requires a commander in chief to be briefed by the fbi and the cia on a daily basis. and to be as dismissive as he has been troubles me, because this is not a business, this is the united states of america. >> ten members of the electoral college, they're asking for a full intelligence briefing on russia's role in the election before they make it official. they do their vote next week for the electoral college. today, john podesta with the clinton campaign, came out in support of that effort that these members of the electoral college should have a full-scale briefing. do you really think that's a good idea? >> i think it's important that the members of the electoral college are briefed to the degree that it would bring calm to their minds. i don't think that a top secret level security briefing is necessary. but i think perhaps a briefing is not out of the question to the degree that it would calm their concerns. i think going back to the
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founding fathers, wanting to establish the electoral college, which is very complicated -- that's another conversation -- but at least in wanting to prevent a buffer, in fact, from having the influence of a foreign nation interfere with our elections. so here we are right now with members of the electoral college being deeply concerned about the results and the fact that there could have been external influences, ie, russia, i don't think it's out of the question to have some kind of briefing. the level of the briefing concerns me, but to have a general briefing i think is acceptable. >> do you think it's credible at all that the electoral college, when they meet next week, won't make it official and elect donald trump as the next president of the united states? >> well, wolf, based on the numbers, the numbers that you see each and every day, the numbers you see more than i do, you can best answer that more than i can. >> he clearly has a lot more
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electoral college votes than hillary clinton has. that should make it official. we're going to -- i just want to wrap it up with one final question, congressman. i know you have to run. even as donald trump is questioning russia's involvement in the hacking of the dnc, he's now seriously considering exxon ceo rex tillerson as secretary of state. that announcement could come as early as this week. how concerned are you, if you are, about tillerson's work over the years in russia and his personal relationship with vladamir putin? >> he certainly doesn't have a background as a diplomat. i'm concerned that anyone who is representing our nation as a global ambassador of sorts will have to be deeply entrenched with the issues of the israeli-palestinian conflict, issues with syria, russia, the ukraine, south china sea and other parts of our globe just to name a few.
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but to have someone who is alleged to have ties to the russian government, given mr. trump's rhetoric, given the evidence that has been unearthed by the cia as it relates to hacking, troubles me even more so. and i think we have to take a greater look beyond the political pageantry that's taking place, beyond the narrative of mr. trump being this maverick of sorts, going against traditional politics. we have to look at the future of our company, and going forward, we cannot take this electoral college process lightly. and we cannot take our electoral process lightly, and we have to really decide the fate of our country, whether you're republican, democrat, independent, libertarian, we have to talk about these issues and not allow elections to be based on our emotional response, but really look at the candidates deeply and look at their backgrounds and experience and see what we want to lead our nation going forward. >> congressman andre carson,
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thanks for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, will donald trump be able to work with the u.s. intelligence community as president of the united states when he's bashing its conclusions about russian hacking and skipping that daily intelligence briefing? and china's unprecedented military move in an already tense region. it's a nuclear charged message to the president-elect. but is he listening?
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generosity is its oyou can handle being a mom for half an hour. i'm in all the way. is that understood? i don't know what she's up to, but it's not good. can't the world be my noodles and butter? get your mind out of the gutter. mornings are for coffee and contemplation. that was a really profound observation. you got a mean case of the detox blues. don't start a war you know you're going to lose. finally you can now find all of netflix in the same place as all your other entertainment. on xfinity x1. we're back with the breaking news. president-elect trump now delaying his planned announcement on the future of his huge business. we're now told in a news conference that it was scheduled
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for this coming thursday won't happen until next month. our experts are here to assist this. ron brownstein, let me start with you. apparently his aides are suggesting it's a lot more complicated to hand over the business, it's a huge business, to his adult sons, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. the lawyers are still working on it. ath the end of november, he said it would be announced december 15th. >> look, this is why you had that bipartisan group of former ethics officials from the bush administration, the obama administration, the conservative author of the clinton cashbook which excoriated hillary clinton, all arguing last week that the only true solution here for donald trump is to do what donald trump has done, sell off his assets and create a true blind trust. it is going to be very difficult in practice to create separation between a trump company that is still, you know, in essence in
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the family, and the -- and the desire of outside parties to curry favor with the new administration. that's just a fundamental problem. then you add to what happened yesterday where donald trump said on fox news that he has turned down, and thus has been considering further business deals during the transition period after his election. so i just think it's an indication how complicated it will be to produce something that most americans will feel truly does create a separation. >> yeah. stand by for that. that will happen in january in the new year. julie, you're an expert on russia. you've spent a lot of time studying what's going on. when you see donald trump dismissing this notion, calling it ridiculous that the russians were hacking the democrats, the hillary clinton campaign, saying it could have been china, north korea, it could have been a guy sitting on his bed in new jersey -- >> this time he didn't weigh 400 pounds though. >> what's your reaction when you hear that?
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>> it's more donald trump. it's the same kind of -- it's the same lack of intellectual curiosity, lack of trust in institutions of government. he knows more about isis than the generals. this isn't the first time he's disparaged the work of the intelligence community. the stuff didn't like using the right fork at a very proper dinner party. this stuff exists for a reason. the fact that he keeps bucking precedent is troubling. >> phil mudd, you worked with the cia, the fbi. when you hear donald trump saying i don't need these daily presidential intelligence briefings, i can do it once a week. they're just telling me the same thing every single day. you helped prepare those presidential daily briefs. what's your reaction to that? >> i can't figure that out. telling you the same thing every day? he's a migraine for the cia.
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if he's telling you the same thing over the past three days, we've had bombings in turkey, somalia, action with the south korean president, you look at what's happening in aleppo where the government is making major gains against some of the people that we, the u.s. government and cia supports. if i were him, i would be curious about what the pressing social media is saying about his own comments in china and taiwan, all over 72 hours, wolf. the question is not whether the man is smart, the question is whether he's informed. if you're not listening to what's going on around the world, the answer is no. >> why is he dismissing -- i mean, you cover the justice department, the fbi? he simply seems to be dismissing the cia's bottom line analysis, but the fbi's analysis. >> this goes back to earlier in the campaign. he sort of suggested all along that perhaps all of these people who have been running the
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government, the professionals at the intelligence agencies, at the fbi law enforcement, he suggests that these people have essentially driven the country into a ditch. and so he's here to pull the country out. that's why they keep saying we're going to put our own people in those agencies and fix them. in his view, he's here to fix not only the administration, but also all of these government agencies that he feels has not served the country well. >> phil, he also says, look at this intelligence community. they got the saddam hussein weapons of mass destruction wrong. you can't just buy what they're trying to sell. >> so excuse me, the man who wrote "the art of the deal" has been bankrupt how many times? anybody who is on the field of play occasionally makes a mistake. i was involved in the wmd mistake. let's look at a couple other issues, what the intelligence community has done in 15 years after nfl. not one catastrophic attack on
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u.s. soil. who did that? that's the military, the intelligence and the fbi. >> what do you think? >> look, i think there's a broader issue here. you remember the famous daniel patrick moynihan when he said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts. what you have here is a question of whether donald trump, as president, is going to be willing to accept facts from the intelligence community that contradict or conflict with his idealogical predispositions. you have him saying over the weekend again that the science of climate change is not settled. who knows? and on this, you know, rejecting not only the idea that russia intervened to help him, which still isn't some dispute in the intelligence community, but rejecting a point that is not in dispute, which that russia sp
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intervened at all. so we don't know the degree to which he's going to be willing to accept information from the intelligence community that goes against the way he wants the world to be or the way he wants policy to go. >> everybody, stand by. more to discuss, including china, now accusing the president-elect of acting like a child. tonight, we're getting new information on this part of the story. we'll share it with you right after this. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple veggie dish ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple dinner ever? heart healthy california walnuts. great tasting, heart healthy california walnuts. so simple. get the recipes at won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company.
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we're getting new details tonight about china's unprecedented military response to president-elect trump after he opened the door to potential dramatic change in america's china policy. let's go to our global affairs
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correspondent. china raising serious concerns, and unleashing warplanes. what's the latest? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. the president-elect is playing hardball with china, saying he sees no reason to abide by long-standing u.s. poll circumstances unless a grand bargain with china is reached over trade, north korea, and other issues. but china watchers are concerned that could risk a confrontation with china in the pacific, even before donald trump takes office. in a bold show of force, china flying a nuclear capable bomber over the south china sea, a defiant warning to donald trump just days after his controversial phone call with the president of taiwan. the bomber flew past taiwan and past disputed islands in the south china sea, where a massive military build up is underway. >> i don't want china dictating to me. >> reporter: in an interview with fox news, president-elect trump threatened to overturn a
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four-decades long policy of treating taiwan as part of one china. >> i fully understand the one china policy, but i don't know why we have to be bound by it, unless we make a deal with china having to do with other things, including trade. i mean look, we're being hurt very badly by china with devaluation, taxing us heavy at the borders when we don't tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the south china sea, which they shouldn't be doing. and frankly, they're not helping us at all with the north korea. >> reporter: but the cheese foreign ministry said there's no deal to be had with the one china policy. >> translator: if it is compromised or disrupted, the sound and steady growth of the bilateral relationship and cooperation in major fields would be out of the question. >> reporter: and a state controlled newspaper editorial
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mocking trump as being like a child inis ignorance of foreign policy, writing "only by going through some tough times will he come to realize that china and other international powers are not to be bullied, and warning the one china policy is not for sale. an idea echoed today by the white house. >> the obama administration does not view taiwan and our relationship with taiwan as a bargaining chip. taiwan is not a source of leverage. >> reporter: and fears from a former secondary of defense that a confrontation with china over taiwan could spin out of control, possibly even risking a military clash in the pacific. >> china is a big player in the east, and they're a growing military power. so it's going to put the united states up to a challenge, how do we respond? we have to ask the question, would the american people support going to war with china over the issue of taiwan's
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status? >> reporter: many long-time diplomats agree the u.s. should strengthen relations with taiwan but caution the incoming administration should thoughtfully consider such a dramatic change in policy and warn against doing it to black mail china, because in that game of chicken, the u.s. could lose cooperation with china on issues such as north korea, fighting terrorism and climate change. >> lots at stake. thank you very much. julia, let's talk a little bit about it. the donald trump approach towards china, is it deliberate, well thought out or sort of random based on lack of experience? >> i keep thinking here we go, he hasn't taken office and we're already approaching a military confrontation with china? i'm amazed he said the words south china say and talking about a fortress in the middle of it. someone probably briefed him before that interview, but it doesn't sound like he
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understands what he's getting into or what that said, i'm worried he's going to see that as a provocation which it is and provoke right back and like elise said we can end up in a kind of death spiral with china. that's not, i mean, again, he hasn't even taken office. >> phil mudd, how do you see it? >> i'd be a little more cautious on this one. look, we have somebody who's going to the card-playing table with another poker player. that's the chinese. there's a lot in the center of the pot here, that's chinese human rights, activity in the south china sea, that's trade policy. i suspect what you may have here is a president-elect who says i'm going to throw some cards on the table, too, the first one is taiwan. so that the adversary i'm negotiating with when i walk in the room says new sheriff in town, i'm not sure what we got here, we better be careful. that may be giving him too much credit, but i'd be cautious on this one. >> you think the chinese are deliberately sending him a message right now, that nuclear bomber flying over the south
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china sea? >> absolutely. i do not believe that's a military act. i believe that's a message the president-elect that says when you speak, be careful, there are implicati implications. >> what about you, ron brownstein? >> look, one thing we learned about donald trump from the beginning is he is a disrupter, political disrupter. for many of his voters, that was a very attractive quality especially applied to a domestic political system they felt has been failing to meet their needs. it's a little less clear that that will be as attractive to americans in structuring our relationship with the rest of the world. there may be aspects of that that americans want to reconsider or at least the trump coalition wants to reconsider, but i think the sheer level of kind of confrontation and disruption may, itself, become a source of anxiety over whether, you know, trump has a steady course, a clear thought-out vision, or is simply improvising in a way that can lead us to places that really nobody wants to get. >> evan, you've been talking to your sources, what are you hearing? >> well, you know, i think with regard to china, i think we also
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do need to calm down a little bit because i think one of the things we have is to remember, i think the chinese don't want a confrontation either, so if he comes in and tries to shake up a policy that was set, wolf, 30, 40 years ago, when taiwan was a dictatorship, now it's a democracy, he seems to be saying let's change the relationship because this is a different country than when this policy was set up. i'm not sure that you should just -- we should just freak out right now. i mean, let's see how this goes. i don't think china wants a confrontation. i think we have to wait and see. >> we may know more once there is a secretary of state in place with some serious views. very quickly, julia, john bolton, former u.s. ambassador to the u.n., suggesting maybe the russian hacking, that's a false flag, russians really didn't do it, somebody else did it, but they're blaming the russians. >> you know, when i heard that my first thought was this sounds a lot like what a russian politician would say. it sounds a lot like putin's spokesman saying, eh, it's a
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false flag, it's a conspiracy theory. dismissing out-of-hand facts that contradict your built-in narrative, that's very dangerous because you just marginalize any dissenting voices and end up with a very, you know, a vertical of power that is not responsive to any developing situations. >> all right, guys, stick around. don't go too far away. an important note to our viewers, please be sure to check out the first ever book from cnn politics, it's called "unprecede "unprecedented: the election that changed everything." pick up your copy today in bookstores or get it online at just ahead, thousands of isis fighters reportedly swarming an ancient city. have the terrorists retaken a world heritage site?
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volunteer emergency workers report a mass exodus of terrified civilians in aleppo where syrian government forces are making major gains in the city's rebel-controlled eastern neighborhoods. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is working the story for us. barbara, what does this all mean for the actual people who live there? >> it is terrifying for them, wlf. the fighting in syria stepping up on several fronts. first up over the weekend, the pentagon announced 200 additional special operations forces will go to syria to help train and advise those forces fighting isis. but in aleppo, these people, this is a killing field. maybe as many as 10,000 people trying to escape those eastern neighborhoods because syrian forces are coming at them full tilt. we have some overhead video taken by drones showing one of
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the neighborhoods. constant assault by syrian forces. civilian casualties, nobody can say at this point how many people have been killed, as people try to escape the fighting but are often killed by those government forces. all of this underscoring, besides the humanitarian disast disaster, underscoring what the u.s. believes is the very reason to be careful of russia. this fighting by the regime has basically been facilitated by russian support for bashar al assad over the months it has kept him in power. it has given his forces the ability basically, wolf, to kill the people of aleppo. >> there are also reports, barbara, that isis has retaken the ancient syrian city of pal m myra. what can you tell us? >> isis moving back into this central area in syria that is basically unpopulated. it is giving them a toe hold in this ancient city which is also
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a world heritage site. they had already destroyed the ruins there. >> barbara starr reporting from the pentagon. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news, sudden delay, donald trump putting on hold a major press conference. he promised he'd address his conflicts of interest. why the change? plus trump mocking the cia as more republicans ask for a probe on russia and whether putin tried to help trump win the white house. plus, who is rex tillerson and why is he so controversial as a pick for secretary of state? let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight the breaking news, donald trump suddenly postponing what he had billed as his words, a major news


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