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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 15, 2016 2:00pm-2:18pm PST

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beyond the concern the data will be less accessible, the larger fear is that the data won't be collected at all and, without it, tracking trends and mitigating climate change would be nearly impossible. we did speak -- reach out, i should say, to the trump transition team. we have not received a comment on this just as yet. >> rene marsh, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, on putin's orders? cnn has learned that u.s. intelligence now believes russian president vladimir putin personally approved cyberattacks designed to influence the u.s. election. how will washington and the new trump administration respond? growing rift. the white house is stepping up criticism of trump for denying russian election meddling designed to help him and hurt hillary clinton. a transition source says trump is concerned about russian hacking, but why is he refusing to say it publicly?
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russia's end game. with donald trump in the white house, moscow will see the first pro-russian u.s. president in decades. so why is vladimir putin -- what is he hoping to gain? and not complex. trump says the news media is making too much of his personal business conflicts of interest. but his team says separating trump from his empire is a legal labyrinth that forced him to postpone a news conference planned for today. why are trump and his top aides sending mixed messages? i am wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're learning new information about the series of russian cyberattacks, the united states how believes were designed to influence the u.s. presidential election. sources telling cnn that the intelligence community has concluded russian president vladimir putin personally approved the hacking of democratic targets, including the dnc and hillary clinton's campaign manager.
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the white house is sharply calling out president-elect donald trump on the issue. for the second day in a row. the white house press secretary josh earnest criticizing trump for questioning u.s. intelligence on russian hacking. a source tells cnn trump is concerned but think the white house might be using the issue to delegitimize his victory. while some are talking about imposing russian sanctions. former congressman jack kingston says trump does not have to abide by president obama's foreign policy. we're covering that and much more this hour with our guests including the vice chair of the senate intelligence committee, senator diane feinstein and our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by. let's begin with russia's cyberattacks on the election. barbara starr is working the
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story at the pentagon for us. first we want to go to cnn chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. you are learning new information from your sources. >> tonight the u.s. intelligence community has growing confidence based on new intelligence that russian president vladimir putin would have had to personally approve of the hacks targeting the election. the advances, the intelligence community publicly announced one month before the election that rausch w russia was behind the hacking, yet president-elect donald trump continues to question the judgment that russia was involved at all. tonight the white house demanding that president-elect trump accept rather than deny. the intelligence community's assessment that russia was responsible for hacking intended to impact the u.s. presidential race. >> mr. trump obviously knew that russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity that was helping him and hurting secretary clinton's campaign. it might be time to not attack
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the intelligence community but actually be supportive. >> however, trump himself, who sources tell cnn is seeing the intelligence behind that assessment in his classified briefings, continues to express doubts that russia is responsible. tweeting this morning, quote, if russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the white house wait so long to act? why did they only complain after hillary lost? his transition team is now accusing the white house of trying to undermine his presidency. >> the continued efforts to try to delegitimize the election at a certain point have to realize that the election from last month is going to stand, whether it's the recount or continued questions along this line. >> analysis of the digital footprint and intelligence including from human sources has led the intelligence community to conclude that russian president vladimir putin personally approved of the hacking, this according to intelligence, congressional and
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other administration sources. >> there is only one decision-maker. and that is putin. to me, just on the basis of that very circumstantial evidence it's clear that something of this magnitude had to go to the very top. >> republican senator lindsey graham tells cnn he now plans to introduce crippling new economic sanctions aimed at putin himself. >> we're going to hit you and hit you hard. i am going to introduce sanctions that will be bipartisan that names putin as an individual, his inner circle, for not only hacking into our political systems but trying to destabilize democracy throughout the world. >> yet trump supporter and former congressman jack kingston was in moscow this week where he told businesses that trump could reconsider existing sanctions imposed on russia for its invasion of ukraine. >> sanctions, not something that the administration is going to lead with at all. the sanctions have been in place a while now. the administration could take a look and say, are the results what we were looking for?
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>> today the u.s. secretary of defense, ash carter described the hacking of the election as, quote, hybrid warfare comparing it to russia's operations inside ukraine and crimea. john mccain called the attack an act of war as well. today the white house reiterated that the president will respond proportionately but it's not clear that the president has yet ordered any such response. >> thank you. bringing in our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. you're picking up new information over there. what are you learning? >> tonight a u.s. official tells me that there are several signs of what leads them to think putin had his fingerprints all over this affair. and one of them is the technical capability of the hacking. these were highly sophisticated hacking tools, if you will. the kind that are the equivalent of what the u.s. national security agency uses in its covert hacking operations. in its cyber warfare, if you will. the russians have that kind of
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capability at hand. and really, there are only two entities in russia that can do that, one is part of the russian intelligence community and the other is a russian contractor that works for the russian intelligence community. and because this was so high level, this capability, it would have required higher authority, perhaps putin himself, to authorize this operation to take place. and remember, it wasn't just the hacking. it wasn't just the getting into the system. it was the exploitation of that data. it eventually got distributed by wikileaks, and the u.s. feels it would be very unlikely anyone other than vladimir putin would have authorized that part of the operation. wolf. >> another significant part of the debate, barbara. thanks very much for that report. another very significant part of the debate is russia's hacking. it's a deeply personal issue. there has been a back and forth today between the president-elect and the president's white house spokesman, josh earnest.
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i want to bring in our white house correspondent, michelle kosinski. the white house press secretary said not only was russia responsible for hacking, to impact the election, if you will, but that trump himself encouraged it. update our viewers. >> on the hack itself today we heard the press secretary say that in his view it is obvious that vladimir putin played a role. based on that statement the intelligence community put out in october naming russia, even though they didn't specifically name putin. and on donald trump. what we've been hearing from the white house has been the surprising, steady buildup of now direct criticism of donald trump and his team, precipitated, they say, by his repeated denials and questions over russia's role. listen. >> first of all, it's just a fact -- you all have it on tape -- that the republican nominee for president was encouraging russia to hack his opponent because he believed that that would help his campaign.
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that's not a controversial statement. i am not trying to be argumentative. i am trying to acknowledge a basic fact. all of you saw it. this is not in dispute. now, i recognize that the defense from the trump campaign is that he was joking. i don't think anybody at the white house thinks it's funny that an adversary of the united states engaged in malicious cyber activity to destabilize our democracy. that's not a joke. nobody at the white house thought it was a joke. nobody in the intelligence community thought it was a joke. i'm not aware that any members of congress in either party that was briefed on this matter multiple times dating back to the summer thought it was a joke. >> michelle, this is an extraordinary briefing that we saw today at the white house.
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josh earnest also arguing forcefully that the whole point of the russian hacking was to try to hurt hillary clinton's chances of winning the election and actually to go ahead and elect donald trump. is that a fair assessment of what you heard? >> yeah. i mean, the white house still wants to be extremely careful with words here. they don't want to speak specifically to the motivation because that itself is in question, even within the intelligence community. what he is speaking to is the impact of the hacks, saying that it was clear -- and you can kind of draw your own conclusions from that. here is how he put it. >> coverage of the hack and leak operation that russia carried out was focused on e-mails from the democratic party and clinton campaign staffers and not the republican party and trump campaign staffers. it wasn't a secret. it's obvious what the impact was. it benefited the trump campaign.
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and it hurt the clinton campaign. that's why the republican nominee was hoping they would do more of it. that's why his staffers were hoping that they would do more of it. that is why, in the days leading up to election day, the republican nominee himself was encouraging people to check out wikileaks. >> okay. the trump team and others have questioned, is this the white house being defensive because there have been questions over their timing of naming russia. is this the white house trying to delegitimize donald trump's victory. of course, the white house denies that. but what we hear from senior white house officials is that, in the days after the election, they wanted to project calm, continuity, that they're committed to a smooth transition, but they say the game-changer has been those trump denials of russia's role. if they put that, they say, in an entirely different category
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of things donald trump has said. they say that that hits directly at basic national security, that it attacks the intelligence community, that it questions whether president obama kept the american people safe from this kind of thing. on that, they say they're not going to be quiet, obviously, wolf. >> michelle kosinski reporting from the white house. thank you. let's get more on this. democratic senator diane feinstein joins us, the voice chair of the senate intelligence x committee. thank you for joining us. do you believe that vladimir putin personally directed the u.s. election hacks? >> well, let me put it this way. we have had a number of briefings. they go back to the midsummer. they involve the leadership of the intelligence committees. i have been on the committee for 15 years. i have been chair for six. rank vice-chair for two. i have never seen a more
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specific top-level briefing with statements of high confidence when questions were asked. it's clear to me that this is a very serious situation. and i don't want to see the relationship with russia get worse. let me predicate it with this. i deeply believe that the president, soonest time possible, must get out the report that can go before the american people, and the american people can read the unvarnished facts. those of us on the intelligence committee are limited in what we can say. what i can say is what my belief is as a product of those briefings. and my belief is that this was a major covert influence campaign. it was foreign espionage on critical infrastructure, which is that which concerns american
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presidential elections, let alone all other elections. it's this kind of behavior, is not new to russia. what is new and is how this was done, who was involved, what the cutouts were and how the whole thing was put together. and what was released by the russians and what wasn't. now, having said that, the question is, could this much have been done without mr. putin's knowledge or assent. that's the question. is there an objective, strong and positive answer? not necessarily. but it's hard to believe that a country's intelligence services could go ahead with this without the knowledge and assent of the leader, because this is the man that leads all things in russia.
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>> so -- >> now, having said this -- >> what you hear you saying, senator. excuse me for interrupting. i hear you saying that there is circumstantial evidence that putin was directly involved but no hard evidence, actual intelligence that you have discovered? is that what i am hearing? >> well, i can't say what i have discovered or have been told or not. all i can tell you is what my belief is. that's my belief, based on what i know, that there is a high likelihood that he would have had to have known or given his assent or even a direct order. i don't know which of the three that is. but this is really serious, because not only did it impact the presidential race, but, you know, the "new york times" has done a really good series. now, the second day was this morning. and they pointed out house races that may have been affected by this. in four states. so, as all of this comes out,
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what -- you see tempers rise, and statements are made. and that's why i think, what the president is assembling is so important, that it be released as soon as possible, that it not be classified, and that the american people have an opportunity to see what this analysis is. it's really hard to speak because there are things i would say, but i have to be very careful because it's the old sources and methods. i mean, i happen to think that our government overclassifies things. but be that as it may, it is what it is. but this is really serious, because this strikes at the basis of a free democratic system and its ability to conduct a fair election. >> so you believe putin was responsible. was he involved, do you think, before the hacks occurred or after? do you know? >> i am not -- i am specifically not answering that question. i do not know whether he was
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involved before or after. all i am saying is that, based on what i have been told and based on the kind of operation it was, without going into it, i would be hard pressed to think that a country would go ahead with this, without their leader's approval. >> because james clapper, the head of the director of national intelligence and jeh johnson, the secretary of homeland security on october 7th said, only russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities. is that a reference, do you believe, to putin? >> well, what i am telling you, that is my belief based on what i have seen as well. and it's said by the head of the national intelligence community as well as the head of the homeland security community. it's the same thing. so what we need is that to be able to be fleshed out and put before the american people. and this is what i very much
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hope, the president of the united states is doing root at this time. >> was the hacking directed at hillary clinton and her campaign? if the answer is yes, why? >> well, it's my belief based on what i know, that that's highly likely. and it's a -- here is why. much of what was collected on the other side of the aisle was never released. but the releases were made on the democratic side. and the democratic campaigns. and to use a kind of vernacular, what i believe is the intent was to dirty up clinton and make

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