tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN December 29, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
president obama had said he would respond to russia at a time of his choosing, and it looks as though that time has arrived. "the lead" starts right now. payback. the white house taking serious action against russia for meddling in the u.s. election. action that could take the cyber war to a new level. and moscow is already really unhappy about it. movement. after months of nothing, a u.s. official now says there are signs that the isis leader baggabu bakr al baghdadi is on the move. but might he have already gotten
a i way? when you're allegedly so extreme, even a self-proclaimed hit man didn't want anything to do with you. a cnn exclusive who claims the philippines president ran a death squad. good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we begin with breaking news in our world lead. a russian novelist once wrote of crime and punishment. today president obama did as well, handing out punishments for alleged cyber crimes for alleged hacking of the dnc and hillary clinton's campaign chairman during the 2016 race and sharing information gleaned from those accounts to allegedly influence the election and undermine confidence in the american electoral system. and for our campaign of harassing u.s. documents in moscow. we learned this afternoon that the obama administration identified 35 russians with diplomat status in the u.s. whom they believe to be intelligence officers or spies, declaring them persona nongrata, giving
them and their families 72 hours to get out. the u.s. is also shutting down two russian compounds in maryland and new york and imposing sanctions on those inside russia believed to be behind the cyber attacks. they're naming names of individuals and agencies, including two people already warranted by the fbi for cyber crimes. jim sciutto joins me now. jim, this is just the response we know about. >> reporter: exactly. this line from the president's statement. these actions are not the sum total of our response to russia's aggressive actions. we will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing. not too subtle code there for cyber activity that may have happened already or may still be happening. keep in mind, the administration says that these cyber attacks by russia on u.s. political parties, et cetera, continue, but keep this in mind as well. as this broad-reaching u.s. response happens to this russian hack, it happens as the president-elect continues to deny that the hack happened at
all. >> reporter: tonight, president obama ordering strong and far-reaching retaliation against russia, for its unprecedented cyber attack on the u.s. election system. the u.s. is imposing sanctions against nine russian individuals and entities, including the russian spy agency, the fsb, and the russian military intelligence unit, the gru, both believed to be behind the hack. the u.s. is ordering 35 russian intelligence operatives and their families in california and washington, d.c., out of the country within 72 hours. and shutting down two russian government-owned compounds, one in maryland and another in new york. the president also de-classifying intelligence on russian cyber activity to help networks in the u.s. and abroad, quote, identify, detect and disrupt russian cyber attacks. in spite of this, and the u.s. intelligence community's assessment that russian ordered the election hacking,
president-elect trump, just last night, continued to dismiss both moscow's involvement and the importance of the hacking at all. >> i think we ought to get on with our lives. i think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. the whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on. >> reporter: senator john mccain traveling this week with other senators in the baltic region where countries are most worried about russian aggression responding with a sarcastic jab. >> i agree with president-elect, we need to get on with our lives without having elections being affected by any outside influence, especially vladimir putin, who is a thug. >> reporter: in a statement before the announcement russian promised it's own retall latiia saying if washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer. any actions against russian
diplomatic missions in the united states will immediately backfier at u.s. diplomats in russia. vladimir putin approved the hacking in part to hurt hillary clinton's campaign. earlier this week, senator lindsey graham, who is traveling with mccain, told cnn in an interview that congress is planning its own payback. >> what are you going to do, senator graham and senator mccain, if he doesn't change his tune, in fact, on russian? >> there are a hundred united states senators. i would say that 99 of us believe the russians did this, and we're going to do something about it, along with senator mccain, after this trip is over, we're going to have the hearings and we're going to put sanctions together that hit putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election. and they're doing it all over the world, not just in the united states. >> the republican house speaker paul ryan also welcoming these sanctions putting out a statement saying that they are overdue and appropriate. he also said that russia does
not share america's interests, in fact has consistently sought to undermine them. you have the republican speaker of the house, republicans senators like mccain and graham saying the whole senate agrees with them, the whole scope of the u.s. intelligence agencies who blame russia for this and call this a serious alack on the u.s. election system. donald trump, the president-elect, is becoming increasingly isolated in holding his ground saying, well, we don't really know, it's not that serious and we've got to get on with our lives. it's a remarkable division in our government as we await a new president. >> thank you so much. a putin spokesman called u.s. allegations of hacking groundless and said we don't know exactly what their response will be. cnn senior international correspondent matthew chance joins us live from moscow. tell us a little bit more about the individuals in russia facing sanctions, a couple of them known to the fbi already. >> reporter: yeah, a couple of
them. two known cyber criminals. wanted by the fbi for several years. they've now been sanctioned by the united states state department. the treasury, rather, announced the sanctions. the other four individuals are the top brass of the gru as your reporter was saying, jim sciutto. the gru, the intelligence service of the russian military. so the intelligence and secret services for russia, the top brass, have been identified. not names that are well known in the public. the kremlin in the past few minutes just made a call to us. it's gathered journalists around it and said this is what our response will be. they're not going to identify what concrete measures exactly but they talked about the 35 diplomats expelled from the united states and saying there is no alternative but the principle of reciprocity. they're going to expel u.s. diplomats from russia as well.
but they also said the final decision is up to vladimir putin, the russian president, and he is in no rush, they said, to make that decision now. what he is waiting for, we don't know, normally you would see a response very quickly to an action like this from the united states by the kremlin. we are in a difficult and unusual situation. donald trump takes office in, what, three weeks. maybe the kremlin wants to bide its time. >> the russian embassy in the uk sent out a nasty tweet with a picture of a lame duck and suggesting that they and the american people are glad to see the last of this hapless administration. >> reporter: yeah. i saw that. yes. it was a very unusual tweet -- a very undiplomatic tweet, shall we say, that came out of the russian embassy in london. it fits in with the general tone we're getting from the russian
foreign ministry and officials. the ministry said last night, before the sanctions are implemented, a last christmas greeting from the obama team which is already preparing for eviction from the white house. this is all misinformation by the obama administration aimed at providing an excuse for its own failures. and so they talk about the obama administration in very disparaging terms in this, its last few weeks in power, and they're preparing, of course, for a whole new relationship. they're drawing a line under it and hoping that things get dramatically better when donald trump takes his position in the oval office. >> matthew chance for us in moscow. thank you so much. we have yet to hear from president-elect trump on the new white house actions on russia, but it seems unlikely he would approve. christian correspondent sunlen serfaty is live in palm beach. sunlen, the president-elect seemingly patched up his relationship with president obama on the phone yesterday, but today's russia announcement, it's not likely to be welcome news for the incoming president.
>> reporter: absolutely right, jake. it's not likely to be welcome news at all. if you look at the tone, the tenor and the exact words coming not only from the president-elect over the last days and weeks about this but also from members of his transition team as they in some sort -- form some sort of formal response. certainly they will have to articulate farther their formal response to this. it was just yesterday here at his resort in florida where president-elect donald trump addressed this issue that the obama administration at that time was putting together sanctions, and he was really dismissive of the u.s. intelligence connecting russia to this hack and really tried to make sure that the blame was off russia, seemed very eager to do so. he said, look, this is basically a matter he thinks should be put to rest. here is more of what the president-elect said before the sanctions were formally put in place. >> i think we ought to get on with our lives. i think that computers have
complicated lives greatly. the whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on. we have speed, we have a lot of other things, but i'm not sure you have the kind of security that you need. >> reporter: so key there, really, get on with our lives. that's something that was very notable coming from the president-elect yesterday before these sanctions were announced. now today, president-elect donald trump has really been huddled behind closed doors for much of the day here at his resort. we know he's been meeting with top aides, going over transition planning. and we are told not to expect any sort of formal statement anytime soon. we'll see, though, if they do respond in any capacity coming up. jake. >> sunlen, the trump team is trying to make this into a partisan issue. they are saying that democrats are trying to suggest that president-elect trump is not a legitimate president, this is all just a partisan political issue. but it's not just democrats who are talking about this, obviously, it's the entire intelligence community, all 17
agencies. as well as many republicans on the hill, including house speaker paul ryan, john mccain, lindsey graham, marco rubio, et cetera. will those republicans pressuring donald trump to act have any influence on him at all? >> i don't think there is any likelihood as of now if we look at the words that are coming from the president-elect. this is a very notable issue that divides trump with members of his own party, and very high-profile members, very vocal members. powerful on capitol hill. as you mentioned, speaker of the house paul ryan today coming out with a statement after the sanctions were put in place saying that these are long overdue, very similar words from senator mccain and graham who have been vocal and outspoken a and split with president-elect trump over this issue. and saying they'll likely to
bring additional and tougher sanctions on capitol hill. >> sunlen serfaty, thank you so much. what exactly were these 35 individuals in the u.s. doing to merit them getting expelled from this country? the homeland security adviser to president obama will join us live next. 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. the world is full of surprising moments. they're everywhere. and as a marriot rewards member,
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welcome back to "the lead." we're covering breaking news. in our world lead, the obama administration out with a sweeping set of actions against russia, punishment for what the u.s. intelligence community says were cyber attacks by the russian government on u.s. political targets during the 2016 election. the government will expel 35 russian diplomats. shut down two russian compounds. lisa monaco joins me now live for more. lisa, thank you for joining us. the 35 individuals with diplomatic and consular passes into the united states, who you are now identifying as intelligence operatives, what were they doing to merit being ejected? >> good to be with you, jake. what these individuals were doing were basically collecting intelligence. they were intelligence officers operating here and using these compounds, one in new york, one in maryland, for intelligence collection purposes. and what we are saying today is,
in response to and in order to impose consequences for the russian government's increasing harassment and aggression toward our personnel in moscow and, of course, their malicious cyber activities, interfering and an effort to interfere in our election process, we are imposing consequences. we are expelling the 35 intelligence officers and their families from this country. they've got 72 hours to leave the country. we're also closing those compounds and not allowing access anymore to those compounds and shutting down that intelligence collection activity. >> lisa, were these individuals allegedly involved in the hacks? >> we're not alleging that, jake. we are putting forward a set of actions designed to respond to and impose consequences for russia's aggressive activity. included in that is this expulsion of these intelligence officers, included in that is the imposition of unprecedented sanctions against 11 entities and individuals including the
head of the gru, that's the military intelligence op rattap for the russian government. imposing sanctions on them and both the military and civilian intelligence services in russia, in response to their malicious cyber activity and efforts to interfere in our elections. and importantly, we are also disclosing today and exposing today a set of information from the department of homeland security and the fbi that will enable network defenders, people operating networks across our country and frankly internationally to better defend themselves. we are exposing the tactics, techniques and procedures that the russian intelligence services have used to interfere in our election and to probe our systems. >> lisa, these compounds, one in new york and one in maryland, how long has the u.s. intelligence apparatus known about them? >> we've known about these for a while, jake. what i can tell you is these are
a set of steps that are responding to increasing levels of aggression against our personnel in moscow. we take seriously the safety and well-being of our diplomatic personnel and their families operating abroad including in moscow. and what we have seen is an unacceptable level of harassment and mistreatment of our personnel. you're seeing response and consequences for that. >> a top intelligence officer in the obama administration i think a week or two ago said that there were roughly 100 russian spies in the united states. this would only be about a third of them being ejected. >> not going to comment on the full presence of russian personnel here, though you might want to consult with the russian representatives here on that. we are confident in the steps we are taking today. they were arrived at deliberately and with precision in order to impose consequences. >> it seems possible that these sanctions might only last 22 days, that president-elect trump might lift them, might
reinvite the diplomats back into this country. has president obama discussed any of this with president-elect trump? >> i am not going to talk about whatever conversations the president and the president-elect have had over -- since the election. what i can say is -- and nor am i going to speculate, quite frankly, on what the new administration might do. i will say the reversal of sanctions such as what you have described would be highly unusual. indeed, the sanctions usually remain in place until the activity and the reasons for them being imposed in the first place has been removed. >> of course, one of the issues is that the transition team and president-elect trump don't acknowledge that there was any russian hacking or that it continues. take a listen to incoming white house press secretary sean spicer, whom i interviewed earlier today before the obama administration announced these new actions. take a listen. >> if we're going to make such
broad, sweeping claims about the involvement of anybody in the legitimacy of an election and the integrity of our election sometimes we need the intelligence community to come forward publicly and on the record and make it clear exactly how this happened and who was responsible por it. right now we continue to get unsourced media accounts for what the activity is. i think that's not acceptable. >> does the intelligence community need to publicly make its case as to why these actions are being taken? >> so, jake, i think what you saw was earlier this fall an unprecedented statement from the dni, from the secretary of homeland security, representing the full intelligence community, calling out and attributing clearly the highest levels of the russian government as being responsible for interfering or attempting to interfere and sow confusion about our electoral system. that was an unprecedented disclosure and attribution that happened earlier this fall.
that's clearly been stated on the record. what you also have is the president directing the intelligence community to issue a report to him before he leaves office that lays out not only the full accounting of what we understand the russian government to have done in the 2016 election process but going back to 2008 and prior election processes. and that's because we face a very significant and serious threat from malicious cyber actors, state actors and others, and it's important to have this laid out for the congress and other stakeholders. that's why the president directed that report be produced. >> right. lisa, trump is saying it's not enough, he needs more information before he's going to believe it. >> so, jake, again, the president directed the composition and the accounting and the pulling together of all of that information from the intelligence community, and that's what is going on, and that report will be produced before the president leaves office. >> in announcing the measures,
the current white house press secretary, josh earnest wrote today, quote, russia's cyber activities were intended to influence the election. erode f erode faith in the democratic institutions. one of the items is influence the election. is is the white house official position that the russians were trying to help donald trump and defeat hillary clinton? >> the position has been laid out quite clearly by the statement of the dni and the secretary of homeland security issued back in october, which expressed the confidence of the intelligence community that the russian government was seeking to interfere in our election process. and i'll leave it at that. >> a russian foreign ministry spokes woman said they'll retaliate against the u.s. expulsion of the 35 russian diplomats. is the united states prepared for russian retaliation?
>> so, jake, again, these steps were taken and arrived at quite deliberately and with precision and with our national interests in mind. we're prepared for retaliatory steps that the russian government may take. >> last question, lisa. the incoming administration, trump's administration, has signalled that they're going to have a very different posture towards putin, towards moscow, towards the kremlin, than the obama administration posture. did that weigh at all into your deliberations when you took these strong actions? >> i am not going to speculate about what the new administration will do. these steps were arrived at and taken quite deliberately in order to make clear both to russia and to other actors, that steps that are outside of international norms will be responded to and that they will have consequences. >> lisa monaco, thank you so much. appreciate it. >> thank you. next, republican congress adam kinzinger joins me to weigh in on the white house steps to
punish russia. for months there was no sign he was alive. now possible evidence the head of isis is on the move. what it means for the fight against the terrorist organization. like the game. and the next county over. and the curvature of the earth. but to those in section 532 we say "we get it" and like you courtyard is all about the game. ♪ won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, you won't have to worry about replacing your car because you'll get the full value back including depreciation. and if you have more than one liberty mutual policy, you qualify for a multi-policy discount, saving you money on your car and home coverage. call
welcome back to "the lead." the breaking news this hour, the united states announcing some serious measures against russian institutions, suspected spies and wanted cyber criminals for hacking the dnc and hillary clinton's campaign chairman during the 2016 race and more. joining me now, republican congressman adam kinzinger. a veteran of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. thank you for being here. are you satisfied with the actions so far -- we just lost the congressman's feed. he's back. congressman, are you there? >> i'm here. i'm here. >> all right. are you satisfied with the measures taken by the white house today? >> yeah, i am. it's a good start. i think there is going to be
some things done that we are not going to necessarily know about, as has been implied by the administration. i think we need to send a clear message. politics used to end at the water's edge and we would be united. we need to get back to that first off. there is plenty of blame on both sides to go around for that. we're also the united states of america. this is sending a message that we will not be pushed around by a country that's basically a gas can in europe with an economy roughly the size of italy. i think it's about time. it's taken long enough. this is an important first step to saying to the russians that we are not one of your former satellite states. we are the united states of america, and you will not mess around with our election system. you will not mess around with, you know, with europe anymore and the middle east. it's an important step to push back. i am looking forward to more, frankly. >> with all due respect, sir, the only one not united in this in washington, d.c., and new york is the president-elect. i mean, you have president obama, the republican leaders of the house and senate, you have a
number of republicans on capitol hill, such as you, democrats on capitol hill, like chuck schumer, nancy pelosi, et cetera. the only person i hear expressing any skepticism about our own intelligence agencies and saying that we all just need to move past this is president-elect donald trump. >> yeah. and i can't defend that. i am not going to. i mean, i think to disparage the intel-gathering mechanisms that we have here is not the right answer. i hope, when he is actually sworn in as president, you know -- now the weight of the world has fallen on to him. he realizes -- frankly, for the last eight years america has given up its role in the world to russia. we need to claw it back. i hope it changes on inauguration day. there are people like myself. lindsey graham, john mccain and marco rubio who are going to continue to say, look, we swear -- i it did as a military member and a congressman to protect and defend the
constitution against all enemies foreign and document. it's all about our country. when someone thinks they can come in and mess with -- it's not questioning the legitimacy of donald trump. he won. i think he won by having a strong message. but it is saying that, if a country thinks they can influence us in a certain way, there is going to be consequences for them. frankly, it will have to be escalating consequences if they try to do it again. >> with all due respect, you have been outspoken on this issue. so have senators, mccain, graham and rubio. but i wouldn't say all your republican colleagues have been. >> that's probably true. i think a lot of them are waiting to see what happens. a lot of them don't necessarily always talk about foreign policy issues. that's not going to change who i am and what i stand for. my hope is, again, when president-elect trump is sworn in, on this specific issue there is an awakening of the fact that, look, we can try to have a better relationship with russia. but we also have to defend ourselves.
we have to defend the integrity of our voting systems. we have to defend our role in the world. and that's a role that's been given up over the last eight years, and hopefully that changes under the new administration. and i look forward to seeing him come in and kind of understanding what's going on and hopefully the tone changes. >> it seems as though this is going to escalate. we've already heard from the kremlin that they'll carry out reciprocal measures compared to retaliating to what the united states is doing with these 35 individuals with diplomatic and consular passes who the u.s. is saying are now basically spies. we are expecting, i am sure, americans to be ejected from russia. what else do you think might happen? >> well, i don't know. and they've obviously been abusive to our diplomats in russia. you've seen them when it comes to military moving into the eastern ukraine, say they weren't there. you see them bomb a convoy and say they didn't. they bomb innocents in aleppo
and say they weren't part of that. who knows what they'll do and admit to. the key is this. anytime you see a quote about leadership it's not about how easy it is, it's always about how tough it is. we're the united states of america. we're stuck in this mindset of thinking of russia as our equivalent, the old soviet union. they're not. their economy is the size of italy. this idea that we have to be scared to confront them because we're scared of what they're going to do back to us, we have way more tools in our arsenal to make this painful on russia. they can do what they choose to and we'll come back. russia says it's brokered a ceasefire in syria and is now inviting the president-elect to join them at the negotiating table with countries the u.s. would not exactly call allies. that story next.
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leader, abu bakr al baghdadi has been moving around, dismissing rumors that he may be injured or dead. bringing in cnn correspondent barbara starr. are officials close to pin-pointing his location? >> we don't really know the answer to that because this is such sensitive information. very little is being said about it, they are saying that in the last few weeks they've been aware of some of his movements. so this is an indication they do have some recent intelligence. it's not realtime. we don't know where he is right this minute. one official has indicated. but they are working this now, working their way back, trying to see if they can move some of this information forward, where he might be, who he might be talking to, how he might be moving around, and see what they can develop to see if it is possible to go after him at this point. there is a $25 million reward on his head for his capture. he -- the thinking is, you know, he may be hiding somewhere in iraq. he may be deep in deep hiding
somewhere around raqqa, syria. they are looking at all of these areas now, taking this report and seeing what they can make of it all. jake. >> i guess the big question is also, what exactly is president-elect trump's position on the war against isis in syria and in iraq going to be? is he going to withdraw troops altogether, double down and do even more air strikes. does anyone at the pentagon have any idea, are they getting any guidance going forward? >> not as far as we can tell. military planners, there have been public indications they are looking at a variety ideas of so they are ready if the new president asks for a new plan, in fact. but right now they're making progress, they say, against isis. they're going to conduct as many airstrikes as they possibly can. say they do get baghdadi. will that really change the course of the war? likely not. the general thinking is that
isis will go underground and stage guerilla insurgent attacks. >> barbara starr, thank you. in 20 minutes all military operations that have ravaged syria for the past six years could come to a complete halt. the syrian government and opposition rebels have agreed on a ceasefire, we are told, one that could finally bring peace to the war-torn country. this was announced by russian president vladimir putin, who a orchestrated and backed the deal while leaving the u.s. out of the negotiations but the kremlin did invite the incoming trump administration to join the syrian peace process once president-elect trump takes office. and syrian president bashar al assad said he is optimistic about trump's presidency. bringing in cnn's mohammed leila in turkey. previous ceasefire deals didn't work out. are we sure this one will actually go into effect? >> both russia and turkey say they have concrete measures on the ground and guarantees in
place. they say they'll each guarantee that the ceasefire takes hold. a lot of people would see this as the natural outcome of what happens when the united states chooses to not engage in a meaningful way in syria. what happens when that happens is that turkey, russia, syria and iran essentially get together and decide a ceasefire on their own. this was decided without united states involvement. the u.s. didn't participate in this peace process or this fledgling peace process, you could say. the talks that will take place in a few weeks' time, the united states has not been invited. the kremlin throwing out an olive branch to president-elect trump, sort of bypassing obama in the last stages of his presidency and inviting trump to come to the table and saying, we're hopeful president-elect trump may have a seat at the table when the peace talks take place. clearly they're considering the obama administration as not being able to do thing and they're reaching out directly to trump to help.
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she is with carrie now. he shared this drawing saying this is a beautiful love story to witness in my 58 years. i miss them both so much. joining me now to talk about these two is james lipton. host of inside the actor studio. thank you for joining us. in just two days the death of two hollywood icons, a mother and a daughter. we do not know yet the cause of reynolds' death. fans and even some cardiologists suspect maybe she died from a broken heart. >> that's my theory. i have always thought that the idea of dying of a broken heart was a sentimental myth until last night when i heard what had happened. then i decided it's not. i am absolutely convinced that debbie died of a broken heart. a lot of people feel that way today. >> in 2011 debbie reynolds spoke with oprah about a time when her daughter carrie fisher was rushed to the hospital after collapsing on the set. let's take a listen to that. >> it was a terrifying night.
it was pouring rain, you can just picture, in the car, with the rain smashing against the windshield and you're crying like mad and you don't know if your daughter is going to be alive when you get there. there have been a few times when i thought that i was going to lose carrie. i have had to walk through a lot of my tears, but she is worth it. >> difficult for any parent to lose a child, but these two had a very unique and close relationship. tell us about it. >> well, the relationship was an up and down relationship. through the years they were close and they were not close, but in the end, of course, they left us together. last night i was watching an oscar screener of "lala land," the story of two young people trying to survive in hollywood. and i got a call suddenly informing me that debbie reynolds had died 24 hours after her daughter. and now, at the age of 19, this
amazing woman shot to fame in one of the greatest films in the history of hollywood musicals, "singin' in the rain." it was a story of three people struggling to survive in hollywood. she was plucked from obscurity and then taught to sing, dance and act by gene kelly and donald o'connor. in the ultimate crash course that she took, they drilled her 12 hours a day, and then she held her own with them in the infinitely cheerful song, the most cheerful song hollywood ever wrote, that's the song we've been hearing ♪ good morning, good morning now they're all gone. my first thought last night as i received the shocking news, if, as my question asks at the end of every episode of my show, heaven exists, what would we like to hear god say when we
arrive at the pearly gates. my thought was that gene and donald are greeting debbie at the pearly gates with, ♪ good morning, good morning and she is falling into perfect step with them as they do, and then the three of them are romping off through paradise followed by a cheering carrie fisher. >> i think that i read that debbie reynolds once said that the two most difficult things in her life were "singin' in the rain" and childbirth. when you look at the effortless -- seemingly effortless, i should say -- performance in "singin' in the rain," especially the good morning scene. it's incredible how graceful the three are. both reynolds and fisher were more than actors. they were more than performers. tell us about that. >> absolutely. debbie did something very difficult. she learned to act, she learned to sing. she learned to dance, and she had a radiant p personality on the screen and became america's sweet heart. those are different crafts and
require different disciplines and training. she mastered them all. carrie did something equally amazing. she had the "star wars" trilogy. she was a superstar. she did "hannah" and when harry met sally. she wrote "postcards from the edge," a remarkable book turned into a film starring meryl streep and shirley mcclain, directed by mike nichols. she became a famous script doctor. she would fix everybody else's scripts. she went from a superstar actor to a superstar writer. imagine doing -- each of them had two careers, a lot of twos in this story. each had two careers, a beginning career and then a chapter two. and then finally, when it came time for them to exit, they exited together. another two. amazing. >> you've covered show business for a long time. this year we lost a lot of big
names. you just mentioned two of them. debbie reynolds and carrie fisher. prince. david bowie. gene wilder. harper lee. mohamud ali. i could go on and on. did we really lose more icons in pop culture than in other years? >> i think when they're really big stars we have the impression there are more of them going. i suppose every year the same number of people leave us. but sometimes when they are big stars, and when they are mother and daughter, dying within 24 hours of each other, we take note of it, and then we start noticing every death that happens. we add them all up, and it seems like more. i suppose statistically it's the same every year. but it doesn't make it any easier to endure, especially this. these were two beloved people, and we lost them both, and we lost them, i believe, because one couldn't go on living without the other. >> sad, but likely true. james lipton, thank you so much.
happy new year to you, sir. thanks for joining us. >> a happy new year. much happier nan it is today, right? the president of the philippines, rodrigo duterte told president obama to, quote, go to hell, claiming he even threw someone out of a flying helicopter once. now cnn sits down with someone who claims to be rodrigo duterte's former hitman. that story next. no corn, wheat or soy. support your active dog's whole body health with purina one.
we have a cnn exclusive for you in our world lead now. an alleged former hitman with some explosive claims. he says that philippines president rodrigo duterte once ran secret death squads and ordered him to commit unthinkable acts. when duterte as the city's mayor. this as he prosecutes a controversial drug war and mikes threats that might jeopardize his military alliance with the united states. bringing in will ripley. this sounds like some sort of
film. as bombastic as duterte's previous comments. >> reporter: i told the president's communications secretary yesterday it feels like a live version of scar face, huge drug problem in the philippines. you have the president openly boasting about killing several people when he was a mayor. he even said this week that he threw someone out of his helicopter and then back-tracked from that remark. then you have the former hitman. we had to drive to a secret location. he is in hiding because he said he will be killed if he is found. he says he and a small army of assassins were operating on the direct orders of the man who is now president. edgar matobato says he and philippine president rodrigo duterte have something in common, they both have blood on their hands. i want him to pay for what he did, for the many killings he ordered, he says. if we bring back the death penalty, i hope duterte is the first to hang, and then i will
follow. decades before the president took his bloody war on drugs nationwide, matobato says he was part of a group known in the philippines as the devout death squad, a 2008 u.n. investigation found the shadowy band of asa assassins wer assassins was committing hundreds of murders as the gun-toting, crime fighting mayor beginning in 1988. i personally killed around 50 people, matobato says. he shows us a journal with names and dates as some of his victims written by his wife because he can't read or write. matobato showed his city i.d. saying he was a ghost employee earning $100 a month to murder on command. who was ordering to kill all these people? we got the orders from mayor
duterte, he says. cnn cannot verify his story but matobato's graphic testimony in september on a testimony on vigilante killings shocked the philippines. the human rights organization is investigating. the president's office says he changed some details in his story. >> very inconsistent. if you go through the transcript, you will see for yourself that matobato is lying through his teeth. >> reporter: the president's communications secretary says, if the testimony was credible, police would have built a case. >> the death squad that people are talking about is all legend. it's all legend. there is no death squad. >> i did kill. i was only three months mayor. >> reporter: duterte told me he personally gunned down three people while mayor of davao. to set an example for his officers. in media interviews he said he doesn't remember matobato and denies ordering vigilante
killings. for several years matobato was in official witness protection, now that duterte is president he is just in hiding. we meet at a safe house several hours from manila. he has moved ten times in the last year and currently faces charges of kidnapping and illegal firearms possession. "i was told to cut the body parts in pieces" he says. matobato claims they dumped bodies in crocodile farms, in the streets, and even in mass graves, but those graves have never been found. why are you the only one who has come forward? he says, many of them are scared. if we try to change, we're killed. so you think, if they find you, they'll kill you? they will kill me, he says, because now their secrets have been revealed. matobato says he is eager to confess his sins, to shine a light on the dark reality behind
the president's deadly drug war. president duterte says if the united states continues to criticize his human rights record here, jake, he will cut off the visiting forces agreement that allows u.s. forces to operate here, essentially changing the whole geopolitical dynamic as the killings continue here in the philippines. >> will ripley, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." turning it over to jim sciutto who is in for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." president obama hits back at russia for its meddling in the presidential election. but will anything rein in russia's leader? get on with our lives. president-elect trump dismisses concerns about russian interference in the u.s. election. and eyes on isis. u.s. officials tell cnn they're aware of isis leader abu bakr al baghdadi's recent