tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 29, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm PST
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 movements.
after years of hunting, is the military getting close to permanently removing him from the battlefield? wolf blitzer is off. i am jim sciutto, and you are in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. and tonight we are following the breaking news. president obama ordering a sweeping array of u.s. actions to retaliate for russian's cyberattacks and meddling in the presidential election. an executive order slapping sanctions on russia's top two intelligence agencies and other companies and individuals. the u.s. tossing out some 35 russian intelligence operatives and closing down a pair of russian compounds in new york and near here in washington, d.c. president says all americans should be alarmed by russian's actions. but president-elect donald trump is brushing off questions about pay-back for russia's hacking and meddling. he is telling reporters it's
time to, quote, get on with our lives. also tonight, cnn has learned the u.s. military is aware of isis leader abu bakr al baghdadi's recent movements. will the military catch up to him before president obama leaves office? we'll discuss the breaking news with a member of the house foreign affairs committee. that's republican congressman ted yoho and our correspondents, analysts and guests have full coverage of the top stories. cnn's athena jones is in hawaii where president obama is doing more than vacationing. tell us more, athena, about what you are hearing about the retaliatory steps against russia. >> reporter: hi, jim. the white house says russia should not be surprised by these actions. and they're stressing that the announced moves are not, quote, the sum total of our response. the administration is also taking covert measures, all of this aimed at delivering one message to russia. there is a cost and a consequence of their actions.
the obama administration today announced new measures aimed at retaliating against russia for a series of cyberattacks and a disinformation campaign intelligence officials say was aimed at hurting hillary clinton. in a statement, the treasury department named nine entities and individuals now subject to expanded sanctions. including russia's military intelligence unit and its head, as well as the domestic security service. the state department following suit, declaring 35 russian intelligence operatives persona non grata and giving the spies just 72 hours to leave the country. the government also shutting down two russian government-owned compounds, one in maryland and another in new york. in a white house statement, the president said, all americans should be alarmed by russia's actions, and repeated that the activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the russian government. these moves come as president-elect donald trump
continues to dismiss the u.s. intelligence assessment of russian interference in the presidential election. >> 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: while trump has resisted blaming russia, members of his own party are standing behind the obama administration. promising to impose additional sanctions in congress. senators john mccain and lindsey graham on a congressional delegation to russia's neighboring states, took offer trump's comments. >> i agree with president-elect, we need to get on with our lives, without having russians being effect i by getting outside information, especially vladimir putin, who is a thug and a murderer. >> i think most of us, democrats and republicans, really believe that russia is up to no good all over the world. they're trying to break the back
of democracies. if we don't push back against putin, iran and china, they could hack into our systems. today it's democrats. tomorrow it could be republicans. >> reporter: intelligence officials publicly attributed the cyberattacks on u.s. political groups and individuals, including the democratic national committee to russia. even before the announcement of the u.s. retaliation russia promised a response. a spokes woman saying, we are tired about lice of russian hackers that continue to be spread in the united states from the very top. and we can only add that, if washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer. >> we can anticipate a response of some kind. but the truth is that we enjoy the greatest capabilities of any country on earth. that's offensive and defensive. that applies to cyber space but it also applies to diplomatic resources, intelligence resources, and tools we have in our tool box to hold countries
accountable, like sanctions. >> reporter: now, the president has ordered a full review of the hacks with the results expected before trump takes office next month. and as for those sanctions, asked how easy it would be for a trump administration to reverse them, a senior administration official said, hypothetically you could reverse, but i don't think it would make a lot of sense. jim. >> athena jones in hawaii with the president. thanks very much. also tonight, the first indication in months as to the whereabouts of one of the world's most wanted terrorist. that is the isis leader abu bakr al baghdadi. let's go to cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr. unusual, somewhat, for them to telegraph, the pentagon to telegraph that they're getting closer to him. >> the pentagon officially not saying anything about this, jim. i can tell you that a u.s. official told me -- i want to quote this u.s. official directly -- said in the last few weeks we've been aware of some of baghdadi's movement.
so what they're indicating is not that they have realtime intelligence. they don't know where he is by all accounts right this minute. otherwise they would go after him. but they have a report that indicates some recent indications of where he might be. now, they're not saying whether he is in iraq or in syria, you know, both places could be likely, but what they are doing is continuing to watch, gather more intelligence, monitor communications, try and see if they can push this information forward. if somebody knew where he was a few weeks ago, can you begin to determine who he might have met with, who you might have talked to, where and how he might have moved around, were there couriers that came to meet him. take all the bits and pieces, try to move it forward and see if you can establish more information about where he might be right now. >> it was a courier that lead u.s. intelligence to osama bin laden. russia announcing a new ceasefire today in syria.
what worries the u.s. military about that ceasefire? >> that ceasefire is actually supposed to go into effect as we stand here right now. the u.s. military watching it very carefully because iran is part of this, by all indications, and in fact, the russian foreign minister, sergey lavrov, invited the president-elect to sit down with all the parties after he takes office. so what happens if president trump were to decide to sit down and try to have the u.s. be part of this. he would be sitting down with iran at the very time he also says he wants to rip up the iranian nuclear agreement. puts the new president in a very tough spot. the u.s. clearly hopes, you know, for the sake of the civilians there, that the ceasefire is for real, but it could open up a whole range of political dilemmas. jim. >> no question. barbara starr at the pentagon, thanks very much. let's get the insights of a member of the house foreign affairs committee. he is with us now. republican congressman ted yoho
of florida. we appreciate you taking the time. >> thanks for having me on, jim. >> your reaction to the news first. do you support the actions taken today by the obama administration in retaliation for russian cyberattacks? >> i don't want to defend russia if they had a hand in this but i don't support these in the way president obama is going about this. if russia is in fact, if we can prove without a shadow of a doubt that they were interfering with our democratic process they need to be held accountable. for president obama to move unilaterally 20 days before he is out of office without consulting president-elect trump, i think it is a misstep in foreign policy, but yet it shows the hand that president obama has had all along. he has had misstep in foreign policies since the beginning. i just heard you talking about the syrian ceasefire that russia brokered. i think it's a great thing for the syrian people. >> let me ask you this. i noted the "if" in your
premise. if russia is determined to be responsible. the fact is there is a large bipartisan belief that russia is behind the attacks, setting aside that the u.s. intelligence community has already announced that publicly, but you had the speaker, paul ryan, republican speaker paul ryan saying today the sanctions were appropriate and overdue. senator lindsey graham and john mccain on this program earlier in the week welcoming steps against russia. senator graham telling me that 99 senators, he said, believe russia is behind the election hacks. we have senator mitch mcconnell a short time ago welcoming sanctions against russia. i want to ask you this because donald trump continued again last night to say he doubts that assessment. what evidence does donald trump have that that consensus is wrong? >> that's a good question, and i don't know. you would have to talk to mr. trump straightforward. but you said if. the october -- >> what doubts, then, do you have? if you say if it's determined russia is behind it, do you have doubts? >> i do have doubts.
because the october 17th report said there was conjecture. the report that came out now said there is conclusive reports or information that some of the techniques were used -- that were used and linked back to russian operatives, but those fingerprints that could be hacked and taken from somebody else and put into play. we don't know if russia is 100% behind this. i am not thoroughly convinced. i haven't read the final report. i have read a summary of it. until we know that, for this president to move, there will be unintended consequences that the next president will have to deal with. >> let me ask you a question, because you said the october statement said conjecture. in fact, it did not. the early october statement from the dhs and intelligence community said with confidence they determined russia was behind it and, since then, they've now taken these steps. in addition to that, keep in mind the track record on identifying authorship of cyberattacks in the u.s. intel community has been pretty good in recent years. they were able to finger cyber
hackers in china that had been hacking the u.s., including by name and pursuing charges against them, in north korea they established fingerprints on the attack on sony. why so much doubt? i want to ask you because you are expressing the same doubt. i am not asking you to speak for donald trump. why so much doubt when you have multiple intelligence agencies, multiple republican lawmakers saying they have confidence this was an attack on the u.s. by russia? >> well, i think it goes back to the report i read today, it was referencing the one from october and it says conjectures. >> i can read it to you. it said confident assessment of the u.s. intelligence community. >> i am telling you, the one i read said conjectures. it didn't have it underlined but i read it several times. i guess, if you look at some of our intelligence reports from the bush era, you know, about weapons of mass destruction, all these weapons that are moving around, we found out that not to be true. there is going to be
consequences to the actions that this president is setting up. i think, if russia has done this and if it's conclusive -- 100% conclusive, i think there should be some form of -- i don't want to say retribution, but some form of action. but caution. i want to use extreme caution here because we could look at what president obama did with prime minister netanyahu, when he was funding money through the state department, $350,000 to voice one, that interfered with the state's election. if we're going to accuse another state of doing the very same thing that president obama did, we need to be very careful on what we're doing. this is something that should be in our foreign policy -- >> are you equating -- that's an odd point to make for an american. it seems you are making a point that vladimir putin, frankly, has made. you seem to be equating u.s. political action abroad with a russian interference in the u.s. presidential election.
are you putting those on equal footing and saying the u.s. is just as bad as russia, in effect? >> i think we need to be held accountable for when we are interfering. this goes back to george washington when he said don't interfere with other nations. stay on a trade basis. >> is it your job as a member of the house foreign affairs committee to hold foreign nations, particularly adversaries, accountable for interference in our election? are you saying your job is to hold america accountable for operations abroad? what is your responsibility? >> well, my responsibility is to make sure that, number one, our foreign policy has a good direction and a definition, which is doesn't right now. it's like a broken compass. we also need to make sure, being a legislator in the united states congress, we need to set a good example and follow that. if we are not following the sxa example that we ought to, how do you expect anybody else to do anything different?
it's the same thing bringing up your kids and teaching them the way to go. the examples we've seen of this president interfering with other countries and their politics, it comes back and it will bite us. i think we have to have very strong policies, very clear, succinct and direct of what we're going to do and what we're not going to do. the other thing is we don't have a cyber security policy, which is unconscionable, of what constitutes an attack or act of war. we don't have a policy that describes that, and we don't have a policy that says what we're going to do if that does happen. >> congressman -- >> it's something this administration has had eight years to deal with and have failed to do it. i look forward to donald trump coming in and straightening this out. >> because you referenced the statement from october, i'll put it up on the screen. i'll read the sentence. the u.s. intelligence community is confident that the russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from u.s. persons and institutions including from u.s. pril
organizations. that's the first line from the assessment of more than two months ago. since then i am sure they've been doing a lot of digging since then. why -- i suppose i am not the only one, because i have spoke -- like i said, i spoke with ftwo of your republican colleagues from the senate this week who are traveling in eastern europe. i am not the only one confused by the continued reluctance to accept that assessment. >> you got me at a disadvantage because i have my ipad but can't access it. i read that too where it said confident. later on in the report they said some of these were conjectures of who was behind this. i don't want to get into that. i just want to make sure that, if we're going to accuse somebody, you better be willing to back it up. and you better be factual when you come out with this statement, because, again, the consequences that we're going to have long term, all you have to do is look at the afghan and iraqi war that started back in 2002 that we're still fighting.
and the unintended consequences that this nation will pay for a misstep are too grave to not get it right. that's what i am saying is let's get the information. let's be factual. if president obama is 100% sure in this, i would have thought he would have had the maturity, the foresight to deal with donald trump and bring him into the process, because he is the one that's got to ride this pony after it's been let out of the barn. >> congressman, please stay there. we're getting new information. and so you're not at a disadvantage i'll share that information with you during the break. to our audience, stay with us as well. we'll be right back.
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welcome back. we continue to cover the breaking news of president obama announcing numerous steps, retaliatory action against russia, for hacking the u.s. election as assessed by the u.s. intelligence community. we want to get more from representative ted yoho of the house foreign affairs committee. thank you for staying with us. >> sure, jim. >> i hope you had the opportunity over the break to look at the intelligence community's statement from october talking about their confident assessment that rauusa was behind this. during the campaign as you are aware donald trump said frequently his slogan is america first, right? make america great again. >> i agree with that.
>> seems like on this issue that he is siding with a foreign a adsa adversary against america and against members of his own party. >> i don't see that. i am not defending russia, trust me. i don't see donald trump doing that. the election has been held, we've moved on. let's get on with business and work on foreign policy diplomacy. if you want to go back to how did we get to this point. think of mrs. clinton having an unsecured server in an unsecured room with classified documents and with all due respect, and we -- to our credit, cnn has done a great deal of reporting on that. >> you have. >> this was an active russian information op to penetrate, offensively, u.s. systems. and then, according to the u.s. intelligence community to release them strategically over time in the days leading up to the election. i just wonder, you talk about
cyber security. donald trump has just hired as his homeland security adviser someone with expertise in cyber security. they point out that it's not just russia but iran, china, they all have cyber capabilities. >> sure. >> shouldn't the u.s. be sending a strong and unified message to the rest of the world to deter future attacks? >> absolutely. >> not to say, move on. let bygones be bygones. >> no. i think that's something we should have as a national policy for any country, but i also think that falls -- if you're going to put other countries and hold them to that standard, you need to hold yourself to that same standard. i think that's just a very important process that has not been followed here in the last eight years, and before that. you know, we need to be, you know, good to our word and stand on the principles that we hold dear for a nation, and we also need to fight to protect the -- our electoral process to
preserve four constitutional republican. if russia has, you know -- i am not 100% convinced that they did this solely, but if they did do that, yeah, i think there has to be some payback on that. but i disagree with president obama saying it's going to be covertly and overtly. i don't think he should announce these things. i think it should be done diplomatically. i think he should have included president-elect donald trump. >> let me ask you this, then. you are not convinced, donald trump clearly isn't convinced on the intelligence. do you believe the trump administration will attempt to reverse some or all of these actions against russia that the obama administration has taken today? >> um, my bet would be yeah, more than likely. again, if you go back to the executive order that the white house put out, it's talking about any person that does this. does that include a state? does that include a rogue actor? >> it talks about a person, not a state or a nation.
i think it's more theetrics on the obama administration. i think they're trying to pivot on why they lost the election. it was because of the failed policies that president obama has done for the last eight years. >> i want to make sure i got it right. you believe president trump will reverse some of these actions, for instance, welcome back the 35 russian operatives that the administration is in effect kicking out of the country? >> i think he'll open up diplomatic negotiations with russia, and i think, over time, that will come back. i would rather have an open dialogue with somebody that we've dealt with over the years. it hasn't been the greatest relationship, but it's somebody that we kind of at this point in time, with america's failing military, or weakening military -- i don't want to say failing, it's never failed, but with the weakening of our military through this administration and george bush consuming so much in the iraq
and afghan wars, i would hope we would keep lines of communication open with a country like russia and a country like china. president obama -- >> but to keep those lines open, you believe it would be necessary or you would welcome, for instance, calling back 35 russian intelligence operatives, stopping sanctions against russian intelligence agencies who carried out cyberattacks. that would be a reasonable price to keep diplomatic lines open? you'd welcome that reversal? >> i'm not saying you're welcoming them back. you're beyond that point. we have to deal with the situation when donald trump takes over. reassess what's going. what's russia going to do in retaliation to us. those are the consequences we're going to have to pay. this administration will start off behind the eight ball again.
it's a poor diplomatic move. i think there was a better way president obama could have done this. >> congressman yoho. thanks for taking the tough question. will the u.s. retaliation for russia's hacking make any difference in vladimir putin's behavior. a dangerous winter storm affecting millions of people in new england. stand by for the latest forecast. with the xfinity tv app,
download the xfinity tv app today. we are following breaking news. president obama saying, quote, all americans should be alarmed by russia's actions. this afternoon, then ordering an array of punishments for the russian meddling in the presidential election. bringing in our panel. evelyn farkas, if i could begin with you as former assistant deputy of defense. you've seen the intelligence, right, not just on these specific attacks but on the long history of russian cyberattacks. of course, without getting into classified material, we just heard ted yoho expressing doubts as some have, we've heard donald trump expressing doubts russia
could be behind this. is there any doubt? >> there is no doubt. i don't understand why there are continued statements by the president-elect and others saying nobody knows. the 16 intelligence agencies plus the d.n.i. which oversees all of them unanimously said the russians tampered with our elections. >> with confidence. >> with confidence. that's another thing. it's unusual nowadays especially after the much mentioned by president-elect trump failure to get the intelligence right in the runup to the iraq war. since then the intelligence community has been really careful. high confidence is something they rarely have in their own assessments. >> right. can you, then, panel of wise political experts that you are, explain this reluctance of donald trump? again last night we were here together and watched the sound come in. donald trump not just saying we don't really know, it's time to move on. he said you can never really know. it's the age of computers, et cetera. what's happening here? i think he is seeing it through
the prism of his election. through the prism of democrats attacking him and thinking that he is not a legitimate president. he needs to get beyond that, frankly. so do democrats, for that matter. because this is about future attacks, much more than it's about attacks that have already happened. it's important to understand what happened, of course, but this is about what could happen the next election and the next election and everything in between, with businesses, with anyone who depends on a computer for goodness sakes. >> set democrats aside for a moment because republicans have moved beyond that election sensitivity. mitch mcconnell, paul ryan. senators graham and mccain saying the whole senate believes that this is serious and that the u.s. has to respond. so the republican party is ahead of and divided with their president. >> you know, this whole spectacle of how this has turned into a partisan football even though it was an attack on america and you would expect both sides to come together on this, it shows how smart, frankly, putin was in aiming at one of our great vulnerabilities
which is the polarization and partisanship in this country. back in the soviet days they used to look to american weaknesses like our record on civil rights or supporting dictators overseas. now they hit our soft spots -- one of our soft spots, which is this partisanship. you know, i think there is -- trump -- as jackie said, trump is only seeing this through the lenz of. oh, democrats and obama are using this to somehow undermine my legitimacy. he needs to get over this. he'll no longer be the beneficiary of a russian cyberattack, he'll be the target next. >> it's also donald trump's world view. he has spoken positively of vladimir putin and russia throughout the campaign. even before there was this intelligence community consensus that russia was behind the hacking, donald trump was relatively supportive of vladimir putin and russia and supportive of trying to, for lack of a better term, reset
relations with russia if he were elected and now that he is elected. so this is more, i think, than just him being thin-skinned, him wanting to really protect his reputation. >> the only thing he hasn't changed his mind on, really. >> this is one of his consistent policies that he wants to have stronger relations with russia. >> let's talk about how serious these moves are. 35 operatives kicked out in 72 hours. sanctions against two russian intelligence services. but the line that really struck me was the kind of not-too-subtle hint, these actions are not the sum total of our response. we'll continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing. is that a message that there are cyber attacks and retaliation happening or will happen? >> perhaps. i think it's great, because i think that the russian government needs to be on alert, they need to pay a price. it shouldn't necessarily be a public price.
it issued beshould be a price t. we can sigh mayee maybe a cyber response. the cyber experts have said it may not be cyber. for this administration it will be a question of whether they think it's es clatory. >> this administration has tried this tactic before against russia regarding action in crimea and ukraine, going after individuals, making it painful economically. the u.s. knows it has been painful. against the russian economy and certain individuals. crime why is still annexed by russia. separatists backed by russian forces on the ground in the ukraine. why does the administration believe this time it will work? >> i actually worry about that -- >> it's not enough. >> even the people who briefed on the background, the reporters, from the white house, they basically said, we can expect russia to keep on doing
this. so i don't know whether they have full confidence -- >> what's the point? i would say what's the point? >> you have to try this. >> they can't be the administration that went out without doing anything. the fantastic "new york times" piece a few weeks ago sort of outlined the fact that they didn't do anything during the election because they were worried how it would effect hillary clinton. >> undermining her. >> a politicizing it. they couldn't leave that to be the story. >> you have this odd political battle set up. the outgoing administration, democrat, does something the incoming president doesn't want. and then criticized for saying they're not tough enough. mcconnell, graham, mccain saying they want tougher penalties. and the incoming president who may reverse it. >> not all republicans are in the president's camp. trump and the other republicans are attacking obama but for two different things. ryan, mcconnell and the more hawkish republicans are saying,
finally obama is getting tough on russia. we've been calling for this for a long time. this is one of the tests of who will drive policy? the new president or the lead republicans on the hill. you have a lot of the republicans on the hill saying never mind what trump says. we believe this is what should be happening on russia foreign policy. >> a lot of this will play pout with rex tillerson, the potential square ro potential secretary of state for donald trump. close ties with russia. i think that will be an illustration of how republicans will deal with the issue. >> we'll supposed to get a statement soon from donald trump. >> a statement or a tweet? >> does he say he'll reverse this. remember, this is an executive order. >> or say again, time to move on. >> what does the hill do? >> will they try to fight for sanctions. stand by. there is news coming in from the donald trump transition.
obama's cooperation on the transition of power. after tweeting a complaint that things aren't going as smoothly as he had hoped, trump twice and on camera actually praised the president's cooperation. cnn's sunlen serfaty is keeping an eye on the president-elect in florida. so what else has he been saying or tweeting today, sunlen? >> reporter: well, it's been quite the 360, jim. after having the phone call with president obama on wednesday, president-elect donald trump is now saying that he does think his transition is going smoothly and calling that phone call with president obama a good conversation, a nice conversation. but today here at his resort in florida he is trying to turn his attention back to business, holding meetings all day and starting to work on that big speech he will give in just 22 days. his inaugural address. president-elect donald trump hedling behind closed doors today with his inner circle, with private meetings focused on national security, attempting to move past the public feud with president obama, after their phone call wednesday which seemed to lower the temperature
on both sides. >> it was a very, very nice call, and i -- i actually thought we covered a lot of territory. >> reporter: trump trying to put to bed their simmering spat. >> our staffs are getting along very well, and i am getting along very well with him. other than a couple of statements. and i responded to them and we talked about it and smiled about it. >> reporter: trump also taking a small victory lap. >> and they're going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the united states. they're taking them from other countries. they're bringing them back to the united states. >> reporter: taking credit and claiming he helped save or create 8,000 jobs in the u.s. from a tech start-up called one-web with plans to hire 3,000. and 5,000 from sprint moving or adding jobs in the u.s. but some of those jobs had already been previously announced in a deal brokered before the election. the sprint ceo today trying to defend the announcement, tweeting, stop speculating. this has nothing to do with previously announced sprint
initiatives. and trump continuing to dismiss lingering questions over potential conflicts of interest in what is still an unclear role the future president will have in the trump organization. >> it's not a big deal. you people are making that a big deal, the business, because, look, number one when i won they all knew i had a big business all over the place. in fact, i reported it with the, as you know, with the federal elections. it's a much bigger business than anybody thought. it's a great business. but i'm going to have nothing to do with it. i don't have to because, as you know, i wouldn't have to do that by law but i want to do that because i want to focus on the country. >> reporter: perhaps first and foremost on the president-elect's mind his inaugural address, the most high-profile speech of his professional life. cnn as learned trump is taking a personal role in working on the speech, is said to be writing it himself, mindful about the tone the speech will set for his administration, according to
presidential historian douglas brinkley who met with him wednesday. >> he said it will be short. i don't like something long-winded. i'm going to get right to my point and i'm going to write it all myself. >> reporter: a transition official says that donald trump will be convening a dinner meeting here tonight to get some input from his top aides about his speech and going forward we know that he has been discussing a few past inauguration addresses, those of former president reagan and kennedy, certainly trying to look, jim, to -- at both those speeches as models for his own coming up. >> sunlen serfaty, thank you very much. evelyn farkas, we heard donald trump again in sunlen's piece talk about how he'll have nothing to do with his business, not a conflict of interest. i want to quote who you wrote today in "people" magazine. you said we know per donald trump jr. that russia makes up a significant amount of the family business. what we don't know is how much
russian money is involved and what russian money. how did trump get out of debt? to whom does he owe money? who provides collateral for his banks? how serious a question is that? >> i think it's pretty serious because there is so much information we don't have. my hope is that, when he is ready, he has got his lawyer, his teams together, and they've decided what their approach will be towards his conflicts of interest, that they start that conversation by first revealing, first of all, his tax returns, and then what his ties are specifically to russia and powerful russians, especially those close to the kremlin, there are too many questions. the statements that his family members have made and the things his advisers have done and certainly even his own statements definitely point us towards some sort of close friendly relationship with maybe a business relationship with key russians. >> this is a key question. we have very little evidence we'll know anything about it to
answer that question because donald trump doubled down on the point last night that he's made before, one, i am not really connected to it. two he said the people elected me knowing i have business ties. that, in fact, gives me free rein. any substance to it? >> people know he is a businessman but i don't know if it drove a lot of voters to ignore these issues. he is right. there is no law that prevents him from -- it's not the same. when evelyn goes into the administration you have to divest from certain things. that doesn't apply to the presidents. we do have the emoluments clause of the constitution. it's never been tested by the courts. >> briefly explain. meaning you can't profit from -- >> the founders were worried about someone being under the thumb of a foreign entity. saying you can't receive gifts or anything of value from a foreign state. so this would -- so the constitutional scholars that have written about that say, if
there is a bank that a foreign state has an ownership interest in and that money goes to a trump-owned business, that trump still owns while president, that could trigger the emoluments clause and congress would have to decide what to do about it. >> politically it won't go away. it will haunt him. especially if he just gives it to his kids. every time he talks to eric or don jr. this will come up. you're telling me they're never going to talk about this? it doesn't pass the smell test. >> politically it may not go away but legally will anyone challenge it? >> as ryan said, a lot of this hasn't been tested. legally -- potentially nepotism could come up if he hires ivanka and jared to work in the white house. it's really unclear right now what could happen legally with this. certainly politically it will be a problem for donald trump moving forward, potentially, and something he'll continually have to answer for unless he solves
this problem and presents -- >> based upon his statements, it doesn't seem to be a priority. >> to the still ahead, reaction to president obama's retaliating for russia's meddling in the election. and a powerful storm hitting in the northeast and in new england. all right, here we go, baby. hey! we're doing the wave! taking off with me! for 42 minutes he's been trying to bring an entire stadium to its feet. you missed it buddy. (rich) why does he do it? for glory? notoriety? we don't know. waaaaave! frankly, we don't need to know. but much like this hero, courtyard is all about the game. taking off with me! one, two, three! waaaaave-- there's my guy! yes. snacks? yeah, man, eat it up and we're gonna burn it off doing the wave!
and breaking news. the first major winter storm of the year is hitting new england right now. not only is it bringing snow and rain but dangerously strong winds. let's get the latest from tom satyr. as you look at this, who is in the bull's-eye tonight? >> i think there's several bull's-eyes. if you're in buffalo, lake-effect snow machine is in full force. if you're flying out of newark, you're got an hour and a half delay. jfk, up to two hours. boston, an hour and a half, as well. there is some good news, as we look at rain ending in new york city, still raining in long island. rain changes to snow in western
connecticut. central western mass, blinding snowfall. blizzard conditions. but it's rain in boston. i think boston could see the rain change over to light snow and get a dusting to an inch. for new hampshire, vermont, and maine, they could be buried with maybe a foot of snow. so warnings are in effect. mainly snow for interior sections. we're going to see snow down the spine of the appalachians. when it comes to these two storm systems, they're going to join hands. the winds will die down, gusting to 50 miles per hour. the heavier snowfall stays inland, which is some good news and not blanketing everyone. >> tom sater, thank you very much. coming up, the latest on this afternoon's breaking story. president obama ordering sanctions and expelling russians from the u.s. for retaliation in meddling in the u.s. election. months after his trail went cold, the u.s. has information about the recent movements of
operatives. new isis intel. the u.s. picks up movements by the terror group's leader after his trail had been cold for months. are coalition forces any closer to capturing or killing abu bakr al-baghdadi? we'll tell you what we're learn thing hour. and not a big deal. trump insists his future plans for his business aren't all that complicated, even as he continues to withhold any details. tonight, widening concerns about conflicts of interests, and a possible conflict with the small thing of the constitution. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm jim sciutto. you're in "the situation room." ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> and our breaking news tonight. vladamir putin's government is vowing to respond in kind to dramatic new punishment by the united states for russian meddling in the