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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 13, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm PST

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causing alzheimer's and surprising new therapies may come about as a result. >> thank you so much. the first book from cnn politics, "unprecedented, the election that changed everything" available in stores now. follow me on twitter @jaketapper or @cnn "the lead." i turn it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, oil and water. donald trump's pick of the exxonmobil ceo for secretary of state doesn't mix well with some republicans. key gop senators are voicing concerns about rex tillerson's ties to russian president vladimir putin. will he face an uphill battle for confirmation? nuclear science. trump taps former texas governor and "dancing with the stars" alumnus rick perry for energy secretary, putting him in charge of a department perry once said he wanted to abolish. with no atomic background is he ready to ensure the integrity and the safety of the nation's nuclear weapons? tweet the press.
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donald trump postpones the news conference he scheduled to discuss how he'll avoid conflicts of interest. it's been five months since he held a formal press conference. putin's soldiers. never before seen video of russian special operations troops fighting in syria. as controversy swirls in the u.s. over russian hacking and vladimir putin's intentions. a new elite russian unit is taking on isis. can they defeat the terrorists? i am would be. you a -- i am wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." amid mounting concerns over russian interference for the white house. donald trump chose a top oil executive close to vladimir putin for secretary of state. senate democrats and some republicans say they are troubled by rex tillerson's ties to moscow and potential conflicts of interest. one senior lawmaker tells cnn tillerson could have trouble
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winning senate confirmation. multiple sources are telling cnn that trump picked former texas governor rick perry to lead the energy domestic. as a presidential candidate in 2012, perry said he wanted to eliminate three federal agencies, including the energy department. but when asked to name them during a debate he blanked on energy. new tonight, video showing a new elite russian special operations unit fighting isis inside syria. russian authorities say this footage has never been seen in public. the commandos are modelled after the u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s and delta force. we're covering that and more with our guests including a key member of the house intelligence committee, congressman peter king of new york. our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. let's begin with our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. donald trump and mike pence are holding a thank you rally where you are later tonight.
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update us. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. donald trump will be here in wisconsin later tonight to thank voters in the state who were crucial to his victory back in november. his advisers are gearing up for the battle ahead over what could be his most controversial cabinet pick yet, his pick for secretary of state. donald trump is facing a gusher of questions over his pick of exxon ceo rex tillerson for secretary of state. trump aides are already crafting their defense of tillerson who has forged such a close relationship with vladimir putin, cutting oil deals in russia that he accepted a friendship award from the russian leader three years ago. >> frankly, if we want to get things done in russia we need someone who has a relationship not just with putin but from other world leaders. >> reporter: tillerson being praised by gop heavyweights dick cheney. former defense secretary bob bates and condoleezza rice. john mccain and marco rubio all expressing doubts.
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rubio said, while rex tillerson is a respected businessman, i have serious concerns about his nomination. fueling those worries, the u.s. intelligence community's recent findings that russia was hacking into the democratic party to boost trump's chances. the tillerson nomination could give democrats an opening to probe further. >> i'm more concerned to try to figure out exactly what happened, how it happened. this is a fight for the soul of our democracy. >> reporter: even as trump's advisers see a case of sour grapes. >> in the same way we agree no one should interfere with our elections we should also agree that donald trump won resoundingly by the rules establishes. >> reporter: tillerson is an oil man who sounded the alarm over climate change, something trump once caused a hoax. >> the risk posed could be significant. it's been exxonmobil's view for some time that it is prudent to take action while accommodating
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the uncertainties that remain. >> reporter: also tapping former governor rick perry to become secretary of energy. perry, recently an energetic contestant on "dancing with the stars," once forgot he wanted to eliminate the energy department in a debate. >> let's see. i can't. the third one i can't. sorry. oops. >> reporter: trump says he is so busy filling out his cabinet that he is postponing a news conference that scheduled for this week to explain how he'll hand over his vast business dealings to his children. instead, the president-elect tweeted two of his children, don and eric plus executives, will manage them. and that no new deals will be done while he is in office. >> i don't want to do deals. because i want to focus on this. >> reporter: trump did make time for a visit with hip-hop star kanye west. that spilled out in front of the cameras. ensuring plenty of air time. >> just wanted to take a picture right now.
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>> reporter: we should point out that condoleezza rice and bob gates, who were pushing tillerson for secretary of state had ties to exxonmobil through their consulting firms. we should also note that, at this hour at trump tower as we speak. katrina pierson, who was a campaign spokes woman is auditioning for the role of press secretary. others are obviously in the mix. katrina pierson at trump tower now making her pitch for that very important position at the white house. >> thanks very much. jim acosta in wisconsin right now for us. trump will be giving a thank you rally speech in a little while there in wisconsin. let's get some more now on the controversy over tillerson. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto has been looking into his background, working the story for us. jim, tillerson could face an uphill battle, getting senate approval. >> that's right. from democrats and republicans. two key questions. one is personal. is now a time for someone with a close personal relationship with
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the russian president, in increasingly adversarial times between the u.s. and russia. also financial. unless he divests he has an enormous personal financial stake in the state of u.s.-russian relations. rex tillerson doesn't just have a personal relationship with russia's leader. as head of the world's largest oil company, he also has a personal interest in one of the principal foreign policy questions facing the trump administration, whether to continue economic sanctions against russia for its annexation of crimea. and military intervention in eastern ukraine. sanctions that tillerson opposed as exxon ceo. >> it does throw up some red flags, and certainly mr. tillerson should divest himself of his holdings at exxon so that there is no conflict of interest at all. >> reporter: tillerson's nomination follows -- >> wouldn't it be nice if we actually did get along with
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russia? >> -- trump's repeated praise for the russian president on the campaign trail. >> throughout his campaign the president-elect indicated his intent, if elected president, to pursue warmer relations with russia. so what better way to do that than to choose somebody who has been awarded the order of friendship by vladimir putin to be your secretary of state. >> the nomination comes at a precarious time in u.s.-russian relations. u.s. agencies confident that russia hacked democratic party organizations and individuals before the u.s. election. with the approval of the senior-most russian leaders, and the intelligence community has growing confidence, officials tell cnn, that russia's intention was to help trump. gop senator john mccain, who has called for a full senate investigation of the hacking, says tillerson's ties to putin are troubling. >> i have, obviously, concerns of reports of his relationship with vladimir putin, who is a
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thug and a murderer. >> cnn has learned that intel agencies belief russian hacking was intended to help trump is based in part on the fact that they also breached party organizations though it did not release most of the hacked information. asked about that information today, trump's spokesman told us -- >> maybe they hacked the other entities successfully and maybe they didn't find anything worth releasing. we are all sitting around having a parlor game of what ifs and it's devoid of facts. >> sergey lavrov, the russian foreign minister saying of tillerson and trump, these people are pragmatic. wolf, he says the russian government believes they can work with the trump administration. >> you have new information on the president-elect's intelligence briefings. >> you may remember last week we reported, speaking to u.s. intelligence officials that, to that point, donald trump was only getting the presidential
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daily briefing which is prepared for presidents by the intelligence community, once a week. meant to be delivered every day. but i am now told by sean spicer, spokesman for the transition, that donald trump is receiving the so-called pdb three times a week now and in addition is getting a briefing every day from his incoming national security advisor general michael flynn who is getting the pdb every day. at least once a day, sometimes twice a day now, president-elect trump is getting some sort of intelligence briefing. >> good to know. thanks very much. jim sciutto reporting for us. more on this. republican congressman peter king is joining us. a member of both the intelligence and homeland security committees. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf, thank you very much. >> do you support the president-elect's decision to name exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson as secretary of state? >> even though i don't know him, and i've not dealt with him. i've heard he is extremely capable and extremely
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knowledgeable. president-elect trump obviously has faith in him. so to me it's a good choice for president-elect trump. now, obviously his relationship with russia is going to be a main topic of the foreign relations confirmation hearing. and i am sure the senators will ask him some tough questions. it will be up to mr. tillerson to show that his relationship with putin and his dealings in russia actually qualify him to understand more what's going on in russia and to be an effective negotiator and a bargainer for the u.s. he has to accentuate the positive. i think he will. i don't think donald trump would have picked him otherwise. no doubt he is very intelligent and very successful. he has to show that his experience in russia will be a strong positive for the united states. he also has to show that he can make a global view of the world. and that's country by country. i'm confident he will. >> i want you to listen to
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republican senator john mccain outline his concerns about tillerson. listen to this. >> anybody who is a friend of vladimir putin must disregard the fact that vladimir putin is a murderer, a thug, and kgb agent, whose airlines, as we speak, have been targeting, with precision weapons, hospitals in aleppo, who have committed atrocities throughout the region, and has destabilized ukraine. has invaded ukraine, destabilizing, trying to destabilize baltic countries. the list goes on and on. >> tillerson clearly is a friend of russia, of putin. received an award from putin a few years ago. the russians warmly welcomed the announcement today. so what do you say to john mccain? >> well, first of all, i have a great respect for john mccain. and the -- to the extent john mccain is making his case, he is
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accurate on the facts. but the facts also are that, as a business leader, as a person in the energy field, mr. tillerson had to do -- not had to but would be expected to do business with russia and i am sure he has a cordial business relationship with putin. that's different from being secretary of state and representing your country. it's two different roles. again, to me, it makes sense that, if he is in that field, he would have dealings with putin and obviously, if successful, he would have a certain degree of business friendship with him. that doesn't mean that he supports any of the atrocities putin is carrying out. i am against putin. i am a real skeptic when it comes to russia. having said that, i have also spoken to leading diplomats from close allies of ours who think this could be the time for us to make a move and to actually be able to work things out with russia to some extent. now, i am confident donald trump will not be taken in, that there is a possibility of room for negotiations with russia here.
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he should do it with a strong hand. it's up to mr. tillerson to show the senate foreign relations committee and the senate that he is the man to do it. i am confident donald trump knows what he is doing on this. >> as you know it comes as a sensitive moment with the ongoing investigations into russia's interference into the u.s. presidential election. do you accept the conclusion made by both the cia and the fbi that russia was indeed responsible for meddling, conducting cyberattacks to, at a minimum, destabilize the u.s. presidential election process? >> you know what i agree with is that russia was involved in the hacking of the democratic national committee. i also believe that -- i am not certain that they were involved in the hacking of john podesta's e-mails. may or may not. that i am not -- >> why aren't you -- why aren't you certain about that? >> based on briefings i've gotten.
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>> briefings from -- without giving us names but briefings by various law enforcement or national security intelligence agencies? >> combination of both. and i can also tell you this, that i don't know where this conclusion comes from that the cia has said that they know the intent. because we have been briefed recently by the intelligence community, including director clapper, the head of the director of national intelligence, saying that they've not concluded what the intent of the russians were, whether it was to favor donald trump or just to destabilize the election. they started this long before donald trump was the nominee, long before even he was thought to be a serious contender. so i think that is something that's being leaked out. i think it's unfair and could possibly be illegal if they're leaking that out. i tell you, the house intelligence committee has not been told that. in fact, they've been told the opposite. >> i want to be precise. you do believe the russians hacked the democratic national committee. >> yes. >> you're not convinced that the russians hacked john podesta, the former chairman of the
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hillary clinton presidential campaign, that the russians were responsible for hacking and releasing all of his gmail account, if you will. >> i am not. again, it could be. on the evidence i have seen, i am not certain on that. i am virtually certain, as i can be in this world of intelligence, that they did hack the democratic national committee. >> as you know, donald trump isn't even ready to accept that. he believes it's ridiculous to say the russians did it. he said it could have been the chinese, it could have been some guy in new jersey on his bed. >> yeah. well based on what i've seen and dealing with people in the intelligence community and seeing the type of evidence they were looking at as far as signatures, i do believe that the russians did hack the democratic national committee. >> if the russians were not involved in the hacking of john podesta's e-mail, who was? >> that could have been wikileaks itself. and there are reasons for thinking that. but again, the jury is still out on that one. but i said it's not anywhere near -- to me it's not as conclusive as it is with the
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democratic national committee. >> have you been briefed along those lines, that it might have been wikileaks, julian assange, that they were responsible for hacking and releasing john podesta's e-mails as opposed to the russians? >> all i would say on the record for that is that that is what wikileaks itself is saying. >> but have you heard that from reliable sources? i am just wondering because this is new information we're going through right now. >> no i -- yes, i've heard it from reliable sources, yes. >> in formal briefings for you and other members of the intelligence committee? >> i can't go any further than what i said. >> all right. so you're -- what about the hacking of republican political operatives? what can you tell us about that? because very little of that e-mail, of those documents, have been publicly released. why is that? why did they just release information damaging to hillary clinton and the democrats as opposed to information that could have been potentially
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damaging to donald trump and the republicans? >> well, you know, reince priebus said there is no evidence that the democrats -- i mean -- excuse me -- that the russians successfully hacked the republican national committee. >> that's correct. that is correct. there is no evidence. and the fbi doesn't believe, and the cia, for that matter, that the rnc per se was hacked. i will read to you a statement that mike mccaul, the chairman of the house homeland security committee, a man you know well and i'm sure you respect. he was on this program a few months ago back in september and he initially said the rnc had been hacked. right after the program he issued a statement. i'll read it to you. i misspoke by asserting that the rnc was hacked. what i had intended to say was that in addition to the dnc attack republican political operatives have also been hacked. here is the question. republican political operatives. their information was hacked. why wasn't that information released? >> again, i don't know how much information was hacked. i don't know how successful they
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were. i know mike mccaul said that. he must have had some basis for it. i don't know if it was near the extent of podesta. there may have been nothing incriminating or nothing that would get anybody's attention. i know they did hack into colin powell, some of his e-mails. i know that. but as far as i know, i am not aware of who these republican officials are, and i am not aware, if they were, if there is anything significant that was taken from them. again, i received a number of briefings on this issue. let me emphasize again. what we've been told is that, as far as the intent, that the main intent of the russians seems to have been to destabilize the process. to put a cloud over the election. to cause people to doubt who the real winner is and to, again, undermine democracy. maybe they've been successful in that because we're now talking about it five weeks after the election. >> the bottom line. when donald trump tweets or says that he doesn't buy what the
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intelligence community is saying about all of this, you have worked with the intelligence community for a long time. you know these professionals. is that acceptable for the incoming commander in chief to in effect so severely criticize the intelligence community and recall the blunders leading up to saddam hussein's destruction of massive stockpiles. >> if donald trump is saying the cia concluded what the russian intent was -- >> he is saying it's ridiculous to even suggest that the russians hacked at all. >> no. i would have an honest disagreement with him on that. as far as the cia, the overwhelming majority of cia employees are solid people. they're very dedicated. on the other hand, we have found instances in, for instance, during the bush administration, there were elements in the cia that i thought were leaking stuff out to make the administration look bad. you occasionally do have elements within the cia that push back, think they're a
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government unto themselves. the overwhelming majority are outstanding americans. we need to take a quick break. we'll resume our conversation right after this. why pause a spontaneous moment? cialis for daily use treats ed and the urinary symptoms of bph. tell your doctor about your medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, or adempas® for pulmonary hypertension, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have a sudden decrease or loss of hearing or vision, or an allergic reaction, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis.
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or even file a claim. do that.. yeah, yeah that should work. it's not happening... just try again. uh, i think i found your problem. thanks. hmm... the award-winning geico app. download it today. this was supposed to be donald trump's first news conference since july. it's now been postponed at least until next month as questions swirl about how the president-elect will handle his business empire as president. we are back with republican congressman peter king of new york. he is a member of both the intelligence and the homeland security committees. congressman, the president-elect, as you know, was supposed to give this news conference a day after tomorrow,
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on thursday, to announce specific details of how he would attempt to prevent any conflicts of interest with his business empire once he becomes president. that's been postponed, as i just noted. he tweeted last night this. let me put it up on the screen. even though i am not mandated by law to do so, i will be leaving my business before january 20th so that i can focus full-time on the presidency. two of my children, don and eric, plus executives, will manage them. no new deals will be done during my terms in office. so it doesn't sound like he will be divesting from his companies and experts say there is no real way to create a fire wall between the president-elect and his own children, his adult children. do you believe there is any arrangement that would mitigate all of the potential issues surrounding his domestic and international business interests? >> wolf, i am sure no matter what he does people will find something that could be done
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differently or they're going to find something there. the reality is, when donald trump ran, everyone in the country new he had extensive holdings throughout the country and throughout the world. they knew they were very complicated and very detailed investments he had, holdings that he had, relationships. he never said he would divest himself completely. he said he would turn it over to, as i recall it, to his children to run, that he would be out of it himself but that his family would continue to run it. it's not like there is some expose' here. he is trying to do the best he can. we should give him the time to work it out. this isn't something we found out secretly after the election. the whole world knew it. >> is that okay with you, that his two adult sons and other executives would be running the business, even if they wouldn't be doing new deals, as he said, but they have a lot of existing deals, as you well know. >> wolf, i don't think you can expect someone to divest himself of a world-wide enterprise when,
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again, that was not an issue during the campaign. he never said he would. i think he'll do the best he can. they'll try to set up what walls they can. i am sure there will always be ethics experts somewhere saying he should be doing more. the fact is that, when you have these extensive holdings and, again, it's not something we found out after the fact. we have known he's had so many holdings everywhere. give him time to get it done. let's not prejudge him. and let's also realize that he is not doing anything different now from what he said he was going to do when he was running. he is probably going further. at that time he said he would just take himself out of it and have his children run the company. now he's trying to put in more protections. >> congressman king, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> peter king of new york. coming up, more on donald trump's business dilemma. will putting his sons in charge really address potential conflicts? we'll be right back. tokyo-style ramen noodles.
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recapping today's top story. president-elect donald trump wants exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson to become the next secretary of state. the choice is drawing praise from, among others, former vice president dick cheney. many democrats and even some republicans are raising questions which potentially could point to some trouble when tillerson comes up for senate confirmation. cnn political reporter sara murray is outside trump tower in new york city for us. sara, why tillerson and how
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concerned is the trump team about opposition to him up on capitol hill, including even from some republicans? >> reporter: wolf, it did seem in some ways like tillerson came out of nowhere. when donald trump met with him, he was very impressed by his work on the global stage and impressed by the fact that he already had relationships with world leaders and he was impressed by the fact that this is a businessman who knows how to do deals. obviously something donald trump can relate to. the fact that condoleezza rice and robert gates and james baker were willing to put support behind this man, that resonated with donald trump and his team, particularly members who didn't feel comfortable with the notion of trump going with someone like mitt romney for secretary of state. we have heard senators on the hill expressing concern already. in talking to trump's team, they don't seem particularly concerned about the notion of tillerson getting confirmed. they do believe that, once he starts meeting with senators privately and once he is in
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these hearings, that people will get a much better sense of his record and sort of why he did the things he did and that he'll ultimately impress them and win over their support, wolf. >> sara, how much is russia policy actually dominating the decision-making behind the scenes among the trump transition officials? >> reporter: well, while we in the media and members on capitol hill have been very focused on russia, and tillerson's relationship with vladimir putin, donald trump's perspective -- and this is from a senior transition official, is actually that china is the main event here. so when he is looking at people to represent the u.s. on the world stage, he is thinking about china being our number one geopolitical issue here, not russia. that's really what is driving some of his decision-making. for instance, that is the reason mitt romney was such a formidable contender. it was not necessarily an issue about whether he agreed or disagreed with donald trump on russia. but remember, in 2012 mitt romney said he would label china
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a currency manipulator if he were a president. on this key issue in donald trump's mind they actually saw eye to eye. one of the big questions with tillerson is what his view is on china. he doesn't have as much experience with that country as he does with others across the globe. it will be interesting to see how that fits into donald trump's agenda. it gives you yet another perspective that this is a guy who ran on creating jobs and defending the american worker and he sees no country as more pivotal to that than china. that's what we should expect when it comes to his foreign policy. >> sara murray outside trump tower in new york. thank you very much. gloria borger, what does it say to you that neither trump nor rex tillerson, for that matter, see russia as the top priority? they see china as the top priority. >> we know what donald trump believes. at this point we don't know what rex tillerson believes. we know what he's done as the
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ceo of exxon where he did an awful lot of business with russia. he became a friend of vladimir putin's. but we also don't know, for example, wolf, what would he do on the iran nuclear deal. he wasn't opposed to the iran nuclear deal. i should say exxon wasn't necessarily because it would open potentially oil markets for them. they were for tpp at one point. they did not -- tillerson did not oppose the paris climate deal. so, until you get him before that committee and you get to ask him these questions about what would you do as secretary of state for donald trump to implement what donald trump believes, let's hear the answers to his questions, and we'll all be curious to hear what he says about putin. we'll all be curious to hear what he says about china, and we'll all be curious to hear whether he believes he can do deals on a geopolitical scale on behalf of the united states with russia, as he did as the ceo of exxon. i am interested to hear what he's got to say.
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>> you'll hear hours and hours of testimony before senate foreign relations committee. >> we will. we will. >> donald trump tweeted this. i'll put it up on the screen. the thing i like best about rex tillerson is that he has vast experience in dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments. so how does his vast business experience, and it is enormous, running one of the largest companies in the world, exxonmobil, how does it translate to international diplomacy? >> let me add to gloria's good list, what he would do about syria, another big issue. >> yes. >> but i think there is an argument -- sure, this is not a conventional road to the secretary of state. i think you can make an argument that diplomacy, at face value, is the art of negotiation. john kerry negotiated deals with iran, with russia over syrian chemical weapons. this is, in some ways, the job. and the fact that tillerson has so much experience negotiating deals internationally with some
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of the key players that he is going to have to work with in the future, i don't think is disqualifying. in fact, it could be -- could be -- an asset. could he -- could he be vastly unprepared for this job? yes. and i think we would know that very soon. but i am not very quick to dismiss his business -- i mean, this is why we thought mitt romney might be a good secretary of state, because of his business experience. i am -- like gloria, i interested to see what he does say. >> you remember during the campaign donald trump often dismissed politicians, diplomats, careerists, if you will, they couldn't negotiate. he needed the greatest negotiators of the world, people who have made enormous deals. that's who he wanted representing the united states. >> totally. >> so we shouldn't be all that surprised that he selected tillerson who used to -- still does until he leaves exxonmobil, negotiated huge deals. he is getting a lot of concern, rebecca berg. some have expressed concern
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about his ties with russia and putin. how could it color the upcoming hearings, the battle that will clearly take place, because a lot of democrats are not in favor? >> sure. it's my sense, wolf, that this is partially a concern about donald trump and the way he has approached russia throughout the campaign and still during the transition. many republicans have been concerned that he has gone too easy on russia, hasn't taken an aggressive stance. so the fact that he is choosing someone like tillerson, who is close associates with vladimir putin, has worked with him in his capacity as an executive at exxonmobil for almost two decades, that concerns them because, will he be a counter-weight to donald trump on russia, will he take a more aggressive approach, will he encourage an aggressive approach from donald trump. so republicans are looking at this and thinking, will he use kid gloves against vladimir putin. that would be a legitimate concern. in the same way that this could present challenges, it also presents an opportunity. i think that's what donald trump is looking at here.
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here is someone who knows how vladimir putin operates, intimately knows how the russian government works. knows where their interests lie and oil is a big driver of their economy. he understands that. donald trump and his team are thinking here is someone whom they can really negotiate with. >> jeffrey, he spent his whole career at exxonmobil, ever since he finished college he was at exxonmobil all these years. to his credit, he worked his way up to the top. he has been there for a while. as a secretary of state, you have to do a lot of other things too. >> right. but i think -- you know, this is a guy who disagrees with the president-elect on tpp, on the big trade deal. >> which the president-elect says he has already gotten rid of. >> correct. >> and he disagrees with the president on the paris agreement on global warming. he agrees with him on russia. so russia has to be a big reason why he was named. also, we talk about russia like it's some, you know -- just like another country.
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russia, apparently, was intimately involved in the presidential election, on donald trump's side, according to the cia. so the fact that he is engaged in this very considerable outreach towards a country that apparently helped him become president, i think -- that's not part -- that's part of it. >> we're just getting word that another new person has emerged as a cabinet member potentially in the trump administration. we'll report what we've just learned, we'll take a quick break. we'll be right back. hi, we're the hulford quads. (laughter) we're in 8th grade. technology is the only thing that really entertains us. i'm gonna use this picture on sketchbook, and i'm going to draw mustaches on you all. using the pen instead of fingers, it just feels more comfortable for me. be like, boop! it's gone. i like that only i can get into it and that it recognizes my fingerprint. our old tablet couldn't do that. it kind of makes you feel like you're your own person, which is a rare opportunity in my family.
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we have some breaking news coming into "the situation room." and the transition of power alert. two transition sources now tell cnn that president-elect trump has selected congressman ryan zinke of montana to become the next interior secretary.
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a former commander in the navy s.e.a.l.s, has accepted the offer. the announcement has not officially been made. ryan zinke will be tapped to become the secretary of the interior. we are back with our political experts. he is moving quickly, relatively speaking compared to predecessors to fill out the cabinet. it's impressive the speed at which he's doing this. >> what's also impressive is that donald trump is not doing it because he has a bunch of ious. if he had them it may have been to chris christie and rudy giuliani, and they didn't get jobs. and jeff sessions, of course, is going to be a.g. there are a lot of people who didn't support donald trump in the republican party or in the business community who were they lu lu lukewarm to him. steve mnuchin did get to be treasury secretary. what donald trump is doing is casting the net wide. he is going to respected republicans and saying, okay,
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give me a list of names and let me meet with these people. and i think he is kind of feeling them out on a -- and having these peer-to-peer conversations which he had clearly with tillerson to where he felt some kind of camaraderie. >> you say reaching out. he is not reaching out to moderates. these are all conservatives. zinke is a very honorable and conservative navisaly seal. >> has a 3% rating. >> i said reaching out to republicans. >> he met with democratic gabbert. he has met with former rivals in the republican party. i think, for mitt romney, to others, has met with moderate republicans. there is one in the white house as his chief of staff. i don't think reince priebus is a moderate republican. i think the common thread to all of these disparate people that
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he is appointing that they all, at least in my estimation, have a deep suspicion of just now involved the government and these big departments should be. even appointing some people who don't think the very departments they're going to be heading should even exist. from ryan zinke from montana, who i think has very sort of small government, limited government, starve the beast, ideas. i think that's a motivating factor in all of these picks that you are seeing. >> he is meeting with some moderates, bill gates today. he met with bill gates. he met with al gore. he is not offering them any jobs but he is reaching out. i think ivanka trump potentially is his inspiration for that. what are you hearing, rebecca? >> that's right. he did meet with democrats as potential candidates for some of these cabinet positions. heidi heitkamp was one. that's now going to rick perry.
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donald trump is listening to some of these people. the republicans would argue the same could not be said of barack obama listening to republicans during his administration. donald trump is at least trying to send signals, i think, that his ears are open and he is weighing all the options. donald trump is notoriously a listener. sort of the original crowd sourcer. he is clearly on a listening tour during the transition. there comes a point when you need to start filling the positions. >> what does it mean if you listen to al gore and appoint as head of the epa someone who doesn't believe in climate change. >> he changed his tune on climate change. he once tweeted that it was a hoax and now he is seeming, after meeting with al gore saying he was interested in what he had to say. i think that we should not be surprised at the appointments
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that donald trump has made. he got elected because -- precisely because he has more faith in business than in government to do the right thing, that he believes in smaller government. so he appoints rick perry as head of a department that rick perry wanted to get rid of. he'll make it smaller. >> stand by. he also likes generals too as we have seen in some of his appointments as well. >> well, yes. stick around. i want to alert our viewers. please check out the first-ever book from cnn politics called "unprecedented: the election that changed everything." pick up your copy today in stores, or you can get it online. just go to cnn.com/book. coming up, never-before-seen footage showing russian special operations forces fighting inside syria. what are vladimir putin's troops accomplishing? we'll be right back. there is no typical day. there is nothing typical about making movies. i'm victoria alonso and i'm an executive producer... ...at marvel studios. we are very much hands-on producers. if my office...
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we're keeping a very close eye on the dire situation in syria right now. russia says the syrian government now controls eastern aleppo where a new cease fire is supposed to be in effect show the can be evacuations. there are reports of atrocities as civilians have been caught up in the middle of the fighting. the forces supported by russia. let's write in brian todd who has some never before seen video of russian special operations groups.
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>> we are seeing this elite russian unit actually taking on its enemies on the battlefield. experts say this might not be as good as the navy s.e.a.l.s or the delta force yet but in its short life span, this group has been battle tested a few times. these men we're told are isis fighters in syria about to meet their deaths. in an instant, they're cut down by sniper fire. this new video airing on russian state tv shows something russian authorities has never been seen. a new elite russian special operations unit called the kso fighting inside syria. >> how elite is this unit? >> in material of russian forces, it is their most elite unit. and the main missions are one torsion fight behind enemy lines. take out key targets. but also to enable larger parts
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of the fight such as gather intelligence, do recould not sanls or do targeting or conventional strikes. >> here three men identified as militants in a truck from the right. a projectile and they're pulverized. it shows militants being assassinated by snipers. here an enemy sniper position is blown apart. the commanders are modeled after navy s.e.a.l.s and delta force. it shows them training, displaying their weaponry. noise reduction headgear. modern bolt iron sniper rifles and similar forces what what u.s. forces use in battle. >> they have a thermal capability lets them see the enemy when the enemy can't see them. the video talks about this. the enemy is blind and we can see him. they write this, persistent surveillance, we see shots elsewhere in the video. >> they said they were wearing suicide vests.
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they disable the vests, a common practice among other special ops forces. >> certainly would you want to see what intelligence value you can get off these dead combatants. >> the video shows them that their special forces are trained in preferring the scuba triks to tactical assaults. it has allowed vladimir putin to show off russia's capabilities from an aircraft carrier to precision bombing. this video allows the president to crow about russian special forces, taxes and technology. >> it is so they can show how they're fighting terrorists and thaeg them out. and that is a crucial piece. experts say this is crucial to show that russian special forces are taking tight to terrorists. many of whom are from the former soviet republics.
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they're taking them in syria to prevent them from returning home and russians at home. >> all right. thanks very much for that report. coming up, key republicans join democrats and voicing concern about donald trump's pick for secretary of state. will there be a senate battle? generosity is its own form of power.
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happening now, red flags. concerns because of close ties to russia. tonight there's new fuel over the nomination of oil executive rex tillerson. stalled intelligence. what did the obama administration know about russia's election related hacking? and when did they know it? we're getting new information on that this hour. conflicts can wait. suggesting the president-elect is too busy to separate himself from his busy. what will he reveal and when? a f a '38 news conference actually happens. and west wing. trump takes time out from his transition to meet with rapper kanye west and other stars in the wor

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