tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 13, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
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 world of sports, business
and fashion. we'll take a look at the resolving door at the trump tower. this is "the situation room." we're standing by to hear from donald trump. just hours after his choice for secretary of state. the exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson. now facing the possibility of a confirmation battle because of his close ties to russia at a time when moscow's reported attempts to influence the u.s. presidential election are under scrutiny. marco rubio declaring he has serious concerns about tillerson as a member of the committee that will hold hearings on the nomination. also, sources say trump is tapping a bitter campaign rival turned supporter to be energy secretary. if confirmed, form he texas
governor rick perry would lead a department he once promised to eliminate. and donald trump took time out to pose for photos with kanye west, calling him a good man. i'll talk about trump's choice. and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by as we bring you full coverage of the top stories. first on cnn's phil mattingly in trump tower covering the transition. the tillerson nomination is drawing both praise and criticism. update our viewers. >> reporter: that's right. and trump advisers willing to acknowledge that those willing to do the former are all the more likely to countter latter. there will be problems and major questions but this is a fight the president-elect and his team are willing to have. rex tillerson, ceo giant of
exxonmobil, attempted to be secretary of state. a man with no government experience but decades of deal making and international business ties. >> he knows many of the players and he knows them well. he does massive deals in russia for the company. not for himself. for the company. >> those ties include extensive relations with russia. most notably vladimir putin. ties trump and his team see as a positive. >> he has been a business leader on the world stage. rex tillerson has actually stood up and said no to vladimir putin. >> reporter: the pick coming against allegations that russia was involved in metling in the election. the allegation the trump team rejects, and one that underscores very real concerns awaiting tillerson on capitol hill and not just among democrats. some gop senators quickly raising those concerns. suggesting the possibility
tillerson's nomination could be in for an up-hill climb. marco rubio saying he has serious concerns and lindsey graham. tillerson getting an immediate boost from former gop condoleezza rice. sources said they recommended and endorse aed tillerson to trump. touting experience and success in dealing with foreign leaders. even form he vice president dick cheney weighing in calling tillerson an inspired choice. this as trump says he will select rick perry as his energy secretary. from oil rich texas. perry once proposed eliminating the oil department altogether. in trying explain why, had this
epic oops moment. >> the third one i can't. oops. >> trump is delaying his own announcement about his man to separate himself from his business empire. poe. postponing a news conference from thursday until jab. trump tweeting this. even though i am not mandated by law to do so, i will be leaving my businesses before january 20 so i can focus full time on the presidency. two of my children plus executives will manage them. no new deals will be done in my terms of office. fru trump was able to find time to meet with someone not in contention for a post, hip hop star kanye west. >> i just want a picture right now. >> while that was of a personal variety, he also met with activists and advocates
recommending the african-american community. among them, football super stars ray lewis and jim brown. why that's notable, jim brown is a long time advocate on the civil rights side of things. came in after the meeting saying even though he voted for hillary clinton, he loved what the president-elect had to say in that meeting today. >> outside trump tower in new york. thank you. also tonight, the influential chairman, promising to launch a new investigation of russia's election related hacking. right now i want to bring in our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto and phil mud. >> why does this look like an unprecedented act of cyber warfare as some are suggesting? and should we be talking about it in terms of an invasion into the country by a foreign adversary in. >> listen, there are some that have described that it way.
and john mccain called it an act of war. folks in the intelligence community referred to it as a successful information op. they also referred to it as criminal activity backed by a foreign state. by any measure it was unprecedented. they have done these operations before. but using cyber means in the u.s. with a presidential election, applying to the u.s., a tactic used in eastern europe and other european countries. in that sense, yes, it is. and the significance of it, listen. the counter terror, the intelligence or even the administration as well. >> so in that context, how significant is that it the president-elect refuses to accept russia's involvement? >> i think it is hugely significant. let's move forward. we came out of a campaign where
fact became irrelevant. it was fact-free zone. we're moving into a situation where the facts don't reflight a campaign. they rehate to national security. let's fast forward. iranian come minus with the iranian nuclear deal which the trump administration will presumably oppose. if that suggests iran is complying, what exacts are presented? or do you say i don't see what we see on the ground? a second issue, the president-elect is setting himself up already before entering office in a fight with the congress, including congressional republicans. that's to me extremely surprising for an incoming republican. and furthermore, he has a cia nominee who will go down for a hearing in an impossible situation. do you support the president by saying that cia information was incredible and you don't believe it or do you back the work force that you're going on lead by
saying, i don't agree with the president? he is putting mike pompeo in an impossible situation. >> not that we know of. we know the obama administration, they've talked about how the president was reluctant to immediately respond, perhaps, with a retaliatory cyber attack. there are other kernels. they were trying to make a deal with russia on syria. all these factors factoring in. you're even hearing decisions from democrats. this was a massive asymmetric attack where a smaller power attacks a bigger power to bring about an effect here.
some fairly low level attacks. it is something they've experienced before. a lot of this started with something very simple. not particularly sophisticated but with tremendous effect. >> with a needs to happen now to deter russia? for that matter, china or north korea or iran or others from launching these kinds of cyber attacks against the united states? what is the outgoing administration need to do? and the incoming administration need to do? >> they can't do much. let's try russian piece of this and make a couple of moves. typically putin's approval ratings hover around 80%. one of the reasons his interventions in crimea and syria are extremely well received within the russian
population. you want to find another lever. that is russian pocket book. what might putin do? make one of those moves in an area where we have difficulty responding like eastern europe or syria to relieve the pressure. so if you make one move, it causes another move. and you have an incoming secretary of state because of the impanel on the oil industry. >> thank you very much. let's bring in senator chris kuhns. senator, thank you very much for joining us. what do you think they need to do? to deter russia from these cyber attacks? >> first make sure that we have all the relevant facts. i called for a hearing that there had been an effort to influence our elections. i'm encourage that had mitch
mcconnell has joined the minority leader, chuck schumer and a number of others of republicans and democrats. and i'm hopeful that we'll see those hearings. not just the intelligence community but armed services, foreign relations, we need to be united and firm. and pushing back. >> do you have any doubt that russia was behind the hacking and john podesta's e-mail account? >> i've gotten conclusive evidence that they have done both. >> from new york, they're saying there was no dpout russia was responsible for the hacking. there is question of whether they can the john podesta e-mail. that's what he says. >> i think all members of the senate and the house need to
have thorough hearings where we get access to the best and most colonel information we have, particularly given the recent change about what goal russians were trying pursue. they could not cheweded they were trying on undermine confidence. more recently they reached the conclusion that they were trying to help donald trump win the election. >> so tell our viewers who are watching at home right now why they should care? >> they should care it was united states finds itself as a democracy. because a country, russia, has been our adversary for decades, has now knowingly and intentionally enter veered. and for us to take some measures. it is also complicated by the fact we have a president-elect who didn't disclose his taxes so we don't really know his potential of interests. in the course of the campaign said positive, even laudatory things about vladimir putin and we are the principle architect of sanctions against putin for
his illegal invasion and an. heation. >> what are your concerns about rex tillerson becoming secretary of state? you know the announcement came forward today. >> he'll be nominated. >> his near decade leading one of the largest oil companies in the world. my core concern is that he has a very close relationship with vladimir putin. he help to execute an agreement to drill in arctic batters would have been worth billions of dollars to exxonmobil and he's been a strong critic on the sanctions that we imposed. >> the president-elect and his advisers say that is an advantage that the u.s., as one who has known putin, has made tough deals with putin. they say that would be an advantage for the u.s. in scoring advantages with the russians.
>> he knows many leaders around the world. it is a very different thing to be negotiating deals for an oil and gas company is that pursuing shareholder interests than it is to be standing up for american interests. the secretary of state has to fight for things like a free press, human rights, democracy, that aren't always at the top of the list for an international oil and gas company. >> john mccain said he would never take any work from putin. he called him a murderer, a killer, invaded crimea, doing what he's doing in syria right now. yet, tillerson second an award from putin? i assume that's a problem for you as well? >> i'm real concerned about the ongoing conflicts of interest. he has 40 years of relationships and ties to folks often in
authoritarian countries who are not our allies. that's why we need some confirmation theergs get answers to questions that have been raised by both sides. >> back in an interview, tillerson was asked if his philosophy was, drill, baby, drill. he's in the oil industry. he responded this way. >> my philosophy is to make money. if i can drill and make money, then that's what i want to do. >> do you think he can translate that and deal with delicate international issues. >> i think the larger issue is that there's some unresolved questions about donald trump and his relationship with putin and
what kinds of decisions he might make with regard to syria and russia's elections. whether hacking into the elections or ongoing violations of human rights. >> you're open minded. >> that's right. i have some very tough questions. i'm forward to thorough answers. i think we owe everyone of donald trump's nominees what judge garland did not get in the last congress. a full, fair and open hearing. >> he was the nominee for the supreme court justice position that was vacated. all right. stand by. there is much more to discuss 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.
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tonight, a highly anticipated news superconference on hold and it may be a few more weeks before america finds out how he plans to separate himself from his businesses. we're not hearing from you that you'll be meeting, you're going up to new york to trump tower to sit down and meet with donald trump? what's that all about? yes. it will probably be a fairly brief meeting. senator bozeman and i, we are
the chairman of the national prayer breakfast and we're simply extending an invitation on president-elect trump to follow a tradition that goes back to president eisenhower. every president has spoken at this wonderful breakfast. it is nonpartisan and a celebration of the role of prayer and spirituality in america. there are 3,500 people who come from over 70 countries and we're very hopeful that he'll accept the invitation and speak in february. >> i'm sure he will accept the invitation. almost all the presidents do accept it. will you raise concerns about russian or some of the nominees he's put forward? >> my goal is simply to extend an invitation. >> if he says let's get into a conversation with you and your republican colleague, you're more than happy to talk to him about those kinds of sensitive issues. >> we'll try on keep it focused on what i think will be a very positive national event. if he wants to talk, always happy to talk about other things. >> let's talk about the news
conference that has been delayed, at least until january and how he will separate himself from his huge business. this is what he tweeted last night. even though i am not mandated by law to do so, i will be leaving my businesses before january 20 so i can focus full time on the presidency. two of my children,ton and eric, plus executive there's manage them. no new deals will be done during my terms in office. is that satisfactory to you? >> well, i don't think we even know yet how sprawling his interests are. we don't know the reach and scope of his business interests. we don't who know is invested in his properties. we don't know whether he has obligations or commitment to the russian oligarch or the chinese. we don't know and i don't know whether this will be acceptable.
i think he has a significantly freighter risk than any modern president because of how broad and complicated his global network is. they would have a direct hand in those decisions. he is right when he says i am not mandated by law to do so. he doesn't to have but he is doing it any way. >> there are statutes that cover thousands of federal employees and specifically the president and vice president. we haven't had a modern president with the kind of potential for very real conflicts here. when i was a county elected official, i was involved in a lot of land use decisions. those can be complicated and political. i don't see how he can be president and still have this family empire going with development projects. >> he won't do new ones though. he has existing dpeels will be implemented. his two sonls with executives will be in charge.
and we'll get more details if and when he holds this news conference in january. he makes the point, being president is a full time 100% job. >> i hope what we'll hear is he will sever all ties from family business. >> you want him to sell that business? >> the only way he can completely separate himself is it is up for sale. let some huge company by the whole thing. it is not simple. >> it is not. the brand depends on things that he donald trump does. i think it will be very hard to be president ask stay focused on the obligations of the presidency if he still has this complex web of significant interests. >> thank you for coming on.
we're getting some new information with the russian hacking controversy. the obama white house knew about the intelligence on the cyber attacks months before the election and had been debating what to do about it. >> tell our viewers what you're learning. whatever they're asking why didn't the obama white house
responsibility more forcefully? six months ago by july this year, law enforcement and jen agencies were sure that the russian intelligence hackers had breached the democratic national committee. a month earlier in june they had released an opposition file on donald trump that had been stolen from the democrats. over the next three months, white house and government agencies debated over exactly how to respond. some officials warned that the u.s. risked starting a wider cyber conflict with russia in which the u.s. had a lot more to lose. the state department on the other hand was worried the risk to ongoing efforts to strike a deal with russia over syria. now, as the months went by, wikileaks kept releasing documents only targeting the democrats. obama officials were growing confident that the russians were deliberately trying to hurt the clinton campaign and therefore trying to get donald trump elected. now, at the same time the white house officials were worried that publicly outing russia would appear to be an effort to help clinton, and they were also
sure that trump was going to lose. so they were worried that giving him any excuse to call the election results into question would play into his hands. now, months later, democrats are now angry because they now see the elections results and they blame the white house for not to go something earlier. we now know the white house officials are preparing a range of options for president obama, hopefully for him to have something to do about this before he leaves office in january. all right. thank you very much. >> let's talk about russian hacking. donald trump's choice to be secretary of state is with us. dana bash, do you get a sense that democrats are frustrated, angry at the president for not speaking up more directly, more assertively? >> not yet that it is directed at the president per se. but i'm guessing more people who hear what evan is reporting, the more that frustration is going
to sort of bubble up. if you go back in time, the democrats over the summer, as the postings became more prevalent, they were saying very forcefully, publicly, that they believed the russians were behind it. it is one thing to have the campaign say it. it is another thing for the administration with all of its intelligence agencies and so forth -- >> they did it on october 7. the intelligence community issued a statement blaming the russians for the hacking. so they did do that. >> they did. they did it for the president who was highly political to say it at the time. i'm trying to remember if he he said it point blank. he might have alluded to it. who knows what a difference this was. there was a siren being called
by the clinton campaign oriole saying we believe this is the russians. >> how much of a problem is he going to have getting confirmed? marco rubio said he has some serious questions. >> we all thought that jeff sessions would be the one that was going to take a real beating on capitol hill. certainfully democrats. then we said, he will be the one to get beat up on capitol hill. it is not so much that he has exxonmobil, it is his connections to russia and vladimir putin in particular. what are those connections? it is a little bit murky. he certainly has better connections to russia than most people do. the question is can the republicans marshal up 51 votes to get him confirmed? it is very likely they will be able to.
>> but reince priebus said that's beneficial, the fact that he has a history, a relationship with the russians. person is when i putin. >> i think that's okay. being able to get putin on the line is important. i think the question about trump and his attitude toward foreign policy, will he be considered weak? and we have to see what happens. >> mitt romney was under consideration. he got the call last night from the president-elect. he was not going to be the secretary of state. but do you see him still having some sort of advisory role? >> sure. i think during the whole process he made it cheer that he wanted to offer ensights or help in any way. that would apply to any current president-elect? donald trump or somebody else.
so i think he will offer insights. we have seen a lot of needs in the past on foreign policy for senior statesmen or envoys in a complementary role. he could be in line for something like that. i know throughout this whole process, he has made it clear. >> he will say, if it is squint some of his beliefs that he would do that. >> something along those lines. rick perry, the longest serving governor in texas. we're told to become the secretary of energy. four years ago, that oops moment in the debate. he couldn't remember the department of energy. he wanted to eliminate the department. he said now he will be leading if he is confirmed, the department of energy. what's your take? >> despite saying that he wanted to eliminate it at the time.
in a way, being a governor of a big oil and gas state, it makes stone pick rick perry dpemt department of energy has a lot to do with nuclear energy and nuclear labs. we'll have to see. >> and nuclear bombs. >> see if he can ramp up to that or if that's his area of expertise. the outgoing secretary is someone who made a big role in the iran nuclear deal. it is a different thing. >> perry was very, very critical of donald trump. he was running for the republican nomination as well. listen to this. these comments that bed the then republican front-runner. >> let no one be mistaken. donald trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded. >> i've seen rick perry the
other day. he put glasses on so people let's he's smart. and it just doesn't work. >> people can see through glasses. >> and now best to be nominated. he is responsible for the safety of america's nuclear weapons. >> yeah. i think a couple things come to mind. one is when a politician said something nowadays, perhaps you just can't believe them anymore. we've seen it time and time again. people have come out and been highly critical of donald trump. only then to go up to trump tower, sit down and hold a meeting. perhaps they're being patriotic. but perhaps they're also being opportunists. and for donald trump to bring these people in. >> a cancer on conservatism. throws the words he leveled
against donald trump and donald trump made it cheer that he said he is wearing glasses to make him look -- >> you actually need them on see. >> but go ahead. those were angry words for both of them. but remember, he was one of the first of the form he rivals after it was clear he would lock up the nomination. to say he would endorse donald trump. i remember calling him and talking to him on the phone and asking him specifically with the fact that he did call him a cancer on conservatism. and he gave never long story about how he and his former republican rival in texas were really at each other's throats and good have the two of them worked beautifully together. they have that sort of admiration for one another as political adversaries. there are all kinds of ways that people who go after one another explain it away when they need
to work together because the circumstances change. and this is clearly one of those circumstances. i do believe that the fact that he says that he wants to get rid of the department of energy, that epa has said the same. it shouldn't be a surprise. this is one of thele times where elections have consequences. republicans have said this for years and years. if they got into office they would hope they would help dismantle those agencies. >> scott pruitt, the man selected to head it, he. he wants to get rid of it. but donald trump has said he wants to get rid of the epa too. there's more coming up. an important note to our viewers. please be sure to check out the first ever book from cnn politics. it is called unprecedented. the election that changed everything.
you can get it online or go to cnn.com/book. why did the president-elect meet with kanye west today? we'll talk about the transition priorities and more. afoot and light-hearted i take to the open road. healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever i choose. the east and the west are mine. the north and the south are mine. all seems beautiful to me.
regarding avoiding conflicts of interest. saying it is very complicated and i'm sure it is. but there's always political advantage to delay the answers to these questions, isn't there? >> i think first and foremost, you're right. the answers are not readily available. it will take a very long time to figure out how to unwind. but sure. the longer they delay, the more it gets caught up in the reality of a new administration. confirmation hearings and everything else. right now there's a lot of talk. news. picks that we're hearing about for the first time. pretty soon it won't just be about personnel. it will be about the personnel making policy. and the longer he delays whether or not this is the reason, just the political plus, is that it can get hidden tunneled other things that are very, very real. >> you've heard the criticism
from some of his biggest critics say, they see a pattern. at one point he said he would release his tax returns. he said he will detail regarding the conflicts of interest but he never will. >> we will get answers but it won't be satisfying to 99.9% of americans. the fact is, he has interests or he has ownership in 500 companies, 125 of them have done business in -- 150 have done business in 25 foreign countries. that's just foreign countries and business. i don't know how he sits down at dinner with his two sons who are supposedly taking over the business and not talk about business. his whole life is one big deal. as he has said over and over again.
>> he is working very, very hard but he did take some time off today. we'll show you donald trump with a special guest, kanye. the president-elect brought him down to the lobby to talk a little with reporters. some are this was simply a pr stunt. how do you see it? >> to quote kanye himself, president trump listens to the kids. these two guys with big egos with a lot of self-regard and a lot to say. it makes sense. maybe trump is considering him for the national endowment of the arts. >> he did tweet, i don't know how serious he is. kanye west, 2024. >> you're telling me that's a future debate stage there?
>> no. he can only run two terms. if he gets reelected if 2020, then 2024 he can't serve again. >> i was going to say five words. welcome to the trump years. >> it is something we'll to have get used to in. >> totally. >> i'm wondering what their conversation was and what was the purpose of actually going down before the cameras. >> he's kanye west. the reinprecht has been friends with him for a long time but it is always interesting to see who he goes down the elevator with. and you see all those cameras throughout. it is live all the time. he decides i'll go down there with the guests. when al gore came down, he didn't go down with al gore. >> right. there's no purpose to go down with kanye. >> the criticism he's getting, he postponed his news conference
on his conflicts of interest until january because he is so busy. it is very complicated. but he >> he's got time to meet with kanye west and not necessarily take the daily briefing. >> the intelligence briefing. >> apparently jim sciutto telling he's getting it three times a week. better than once a week. stick around. a emotional day for president obama. as he signed one more bill into law before leaving the white house. includes a boost for spending cancer research in bo biden's name who died of cancer last year. democrats and republicans supported the measure, striking a bipartisan accord just ahead of the election. your insurance company
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tonight the u.s. military is revealing details about a new success against isis. let's go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. three leaders of the terror group were killed? >> reporter: in fact, wolf. the pentagon announcing today they conducted this strike back on sunday. a drone strike against three men in a single vehicle in raqqah, syria. raqqah isis's self declared capital deep inside isis led territory. a u.s. led drone had been watching all three men and all three killed be with a hell fire. they were all working on external attacks. attacks golden state western targets. two said to be responsible for the deadly 2015 attacks in paris. they were involved in plotting, in financing, in getting foreign
fighters, all of it, wolf. this really underscores an intelligence plus for the u.s. military. they have drones over raqqah. they watch constantly. they are getting better information on where these people are and they watch. so when they move, the u.s. can move in and strike them. >> we're also following urgent new developments in aleppo, syria. reports of dozens of women and children slaughtered. what are you hearing? >> summary executions are the words of what we're healing. aleppo being called a melt down of humanity. there is some talk of safe passage being granted to some people out of aleppo. but this horror continues. right now it does appear that the syrian rejean has control and the russians are not doing anything to stop in to stop the
slaughter. that may well be a message to the trump people about what russia's priorities are and what the u.s. needs to consider under a trump administration in dealing with moscow, wolf. >> thanks barbara. also tonight a shocking murder that's remained a mystery for two decades. a child beauty queen killed. her family under suspicion. now jonbenet ramsay's. >> one of the greatest unsolved crimes in history. >> little girl vanishes christmas night. >> like we got hit in the stomach. just a child. >> hours later she's found strangled to death. >> you can't do anything but dreep screen.
>> keep your baby close to you. >> some real images of the pageant star transfixed the nation. >> were you a stage mother? probably. what's wrong with that? >> nobody ever convicted. tonight the theories, secrets and bomb shells. >> hurry, hurry, hurry. >> cnn's gene casarez joining us. how has he dealt with this unsolved murder for so long specifically being in the shadow of his daughter's death. >> it was so interesting to talk to him about at this point. he doesn't do interviews anymore. this is one of the very few he's done recently.
he admitted i lost his respect because there were leaks in the boulder police department. the media took ahold of that. he says he lost all of his money. he was very wealthy. in he had a company in boulder that made over a billion dollars back then. and he had to pay attorneys and p.r. agents. and he lost his privacy. he lives in a very small community we traveled there. and he leads a very peaceful life now. he is remarried. but he said every day of his life he looks at that picture of jonbenet on his tvgsz and he wants to find who he says murdered her because he wants to restore the reputation of his family members. >> why do you think after all these years people are so fascinated with jonbenet ramsey? >> and wolf i know you did a lot on this case you used to anchor larry king and you would talk about it. you know it is a mystery then. it is a mystery now. and you can go various ways on
this. so we want everybody to watch tonight at 9:00. >> the c cnn special report the murder of jonbenet. tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern. that's it for me. i'm wolf blifrtser in the situation room. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. bracing for battle. republicans claiming donald trump's pick for secretary of state as trump names rick perry the head of the department he once famously forgot. and who is giving trump his daily briefings? is he the reason trump is so skeptical of the cia? and free peach or hate speech? let's go "outfront." i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight the breaking news.