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tv   Wolf  CNN  December 30, 2016 10:00am-11:01am PST

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governor-elect cooper requested a retraining order be essentially filed returning some of his powers. that is expected to be heard by a judge in the coming minutes. clearly, though, he is expected to continue to assume office. expected to happen only one minute into the new year. kate? >> that fight continues. polo, thanks. thank you for joining me. coverage continues right now with jim sciutto. hello everyone. i'm jim sciutto in for wolf blitzer. welcome viewers from around the world. it is 1:00 p.m. here on this very windy day in washington, and we are right outside the u.s. capital where in just 21 days donald trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the united states. our political panel is standing by to talk about the president-elect and we'll get to them in a moment. but we start with the russian
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saying, no, to retaliation for now. it was expected even feared by some russia would strike back after the white house announced new sanctions yesterday, but even though russia threw out few threats before the announcement they decided to play the waiting game and perhaps wait for a new president to come on january 20th. here is some of the statement from russian president vladimir putin. considering the special responsibility of russia and the u.s. to keep global security, it damages the entire complex of international ties. reserving the right to retaliate, the restoration of russian-american relations will be built on the basis of the policy, which will be carried out by the administration of president donald trump. all of this comes on the heels of the obama administration announcement of sanctions on several russian individuals, and entities for meddling in the u.s. presidential election. 35 russian diplomats are also being expelled. they have fewer than 72 hours to leave now. two russian compounds in new york and maryland are closed.
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u.s. says russia tried to influence the results of the election, and at the same time, destroy the integrity of the whole u.s. system. but russia is saying the sanctions are just an unfair parting shot from president obama. here's what we heard from russian prime minister dmitri medvedev saying it's regrettable. started by restoring ties is ending its term in an anti-russian agony. rest in peace. and joining me, matthew chance from honolulu, athena jones with the president on vacation. mantle how that, beginning with you, how unexpected was this lack of retaliation from russia, and does it seem that russia is in effect putting pressure on donald trump to reverse these sanctions when he goes into office? >> reporter: well it was totally unexpected. we'd been told by the kremlin, all it, the day before, it was going to be the principle of
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resip ro resipriostity. a tit for tat. diplomats expelled from the united states, expecting the same number from here and the foreign minister appeared looking solemn saying that's what he's recommending to the kremlin that 35 u.s. diplomats should be asked to leave, and should be moved away from their posts here in russia, but that gave vladimir putin the opportunity for a bit of political theater, and he stepped back from that whole, you know, that whole situation and said, no, i'm not going to do that. i'm not going to make it more difficult for u.s. diplomats to work here. no one will be expelled and went a step further saying the children during this holiday period, the children of those diplomats accredited here, i'm inviting them to the kremlin to come and look at all the plays and spectaculars being staged at the kremlin normally for russian children. inviting the american diplomatic kids as well. he really did take the higher
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ground. showed himself to be magnanimous and made obama's expulsion look petty and indicative. the words used by the russian foreign suppose persson after the sanctions when announced. you mentioned, he's looking forward to relations to improve between russia and the united states determined by the policies of donald trump. he's sweeping aside the last weeks of the obama administration and focusing on that next administration of donald trump in the hope that he can build a good relationship with trump a good relationship with that administration. he needs it, because he wants to turn over those sanctions, wants americans to be involved in the peace process in syria and all sorts of other issues over the past years to be resolved, jim. >> and has a president coming in who has made many public statements wantsing to improve that relationship. athena, surprise in the obama administration there was no russian retaliation? as a follow, that the sanctions
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will stand after donald trump takes office? >> reporter: jim no response yet from the white house to this non-response from the russian president, but, remember, some of the actions the u.s. said it's going to take are going to be covert actions, unannounced action. that certainly could be the case on the rush side of the equation. you don't have president putin dismeting u.s. diplomats that doesn't mean he's not taking any action. they expect two things. one, russia will respond in some way and expect russia will continue its cyber hacking activities. certainly continuing trying to carry out these cyber hacking activities. so they stand ready to respond to that. as for whether the sanctions will be reversed by a president trump, one of the white house officials who spoke on a call with reporters yesterday said, hypothetically, you could reverse them, but i don't think that would be a good idea. you now have republicans on capitol hill, for instance, chairman of the senate armed services committee, john mccain,
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having a hearing on this cyber hacking issue next week that could put pressure on president trump and the full review the obama administration ordered of cyber hacking aftertiveties going back many years. they're hoping that with more information, president trump might reach a different decision. but that is the billion dollar question. whether these sanctions will stand. jim? >> athine ena jones and matthew chance, thank you. and keel tatalk more about . russia may merely have been dwho doing what the u.s. media should be doing. a member of the armed services committee joins us live from scottsdale, arizona. congressman. >> thanks very much for taking the time today. >> thanks for having me on, jim. >> let me ask you first, what's your reaction to these steps taken by the obama administration against russia? >> well, you know, since mr.
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obama first came into office, he has had this mind-set at the very beginning that the entire cold war was just some sort of giant misunderstanding. he stood by and watched russia march into ukraine and even though we had an agreement with ukraine to protect their national sovereignty, at least their territorial sovereignty. he stood by and watched as the russians bombed aleppo into oblivion after he had his famous red line. now 400,000 people are dead. 4 million refugees. he took out our missile defense and stabbed poland in the back, and czech republic in the back, all to placate russia and now sees his tongue, when he seize an opportunity, to delegitimize, quote/unquote, the election of donald trump to be the president, and i find -- >> to be fair, president obama has not said that russian -- to
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be fair, president obama, the administration harks not said the hacking delegitimizes d don trump. that's what donald trump and his aides talked about. he's talked about this being an attack on american democracy. not a, not one party or the other party but an attack on the whole u.s. political system. >> i am completely convinced that barack obama's primary motivation is to try to delegitimize the election here. because the fact is, you know, the media sort of ignored a lot of the wikileaks -- the releases there. the only thing they could talk about was somehow the russian connection, what gave it any legs at all. now, of course, after the election, this is the reason that hillary clinton lost. and i find that to be untenable. >> let me contest one point as a member of the media and employee of cnn, we did numerous stories on daily basis regarding content of the e-mails as released by
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wikileaks. i want to quote you from an interview on msnbc yesterday. if russian suck cede esucceeded information, they've done what they should have done. are you saying allowing penetration of e-mails systems, et cetera? >> of course not. those statements were completely misconstrued. if you saw the whole interview you would know this. no one has been harder on russia than me. i have been deeply committed making sure they're expansionism and efforts did not result in the deaths of innocent people across the world, and i have been absolutely bewildered as how barack obama has stood by and let them do all of these things. of course, now, i think it's important here to keep in mind that the congress hasn't been fully briefed on this. in fact, fully is an overstatement. the fact is, we haven't had the kinds of clear information, and you'll have to forgive me,
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because barack obama -- this is the same gentleman that said you can keep your -- keep -- >> this is a familiar point i've heard from other republicans that somehow congress has been kept in the dark on this. the fact is, the house and senate intelligence committees, republican and democratic members have in fact been briefed repeatedly on the assessment. you know several colleagues in the house and several gop colleagues in the senate, senator mccain and graham, for instance, are convinced that russia is behind this attack, in fact, calling for stiffer penalties. what exactly is the basis for saying -- >> i'm all about -- >> for saying -- >> the penalties against russia are long overdue and i absolutely favor sanctions. i'm suggesting they came too late and at the motivation that is completely hidden to the public right now. all of a sudden this man finds his tongue after russia's done all of these things because he see as political advantage. and again, this is the same gentleman that said, if you want
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your doctor, you can keep it. that al qaeda is on the run. that isis is a jv team and he tells israel when the chips are down, i've got your back and now the world finally sees the knife in his hand. so you'll have to forgive me -- >> congressman -- >> if i'm careful what i believe that this administration says or does. >> well, it is, not this administration but the 16 intelligence agencies that made that assessment. i want to ask you this point. your russia on russia stands for several and you've been very tough. you cite russian steps, set aside the election hacking but killing of civilians in aleppo, annexation of crimea, military activity in ukraine. >> weren't those worthy of being responded to before now? >> that's not my decision, but what i'm going to ask you is -- >> but it was barack obama's decision. >> no, no. i'm asking about the incoming president of the united states. president trump, elect trump, despite all that is calling for a cozier relationship with
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russia. in fact, he's dismissed some of those steps as unimportant. talked to times of letting annexation of crimea stand. i wonder if light of your own tough, substantive record on russia if you're concerned about those positions of the incoming president? >> well, i will just say this. i said this on cnn here just a week ago. that vladimir putin knows there's going to be a different person in the white house, and he is going to take a different tactic, in my judgment, he realizes if he doesn't change trajectory he'll see pushback from the united states. i can't express to you how hopeful i am that the trump administration will take charge as soon as possible, because under this president, under barack obama, we have seen ourselves weakened across the world worldability -- world and russian strength applied and president putin mop the world. my positions woenl change a
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great30 years to look at and i'll continue to be a hawk. anything should be met with clear and unequivocal response and i want to say this, this happens every day, and it's amazing to me that after all of the things russia has done, and all the innocent people that have died. innocent men, women and children that have died because of their belligerence. now barack obama finally finds his tongue on his way out in the a lame duck session and i find that bewildering. >> congressman franks, we have to leave it there. i richard your thoughts on that and the whole -- >> that's okay. thank you very much. >> thank you for taking the time. later this hour, live to the pentagon for an update on the coalition's efforts to capture abubakar al baghdadi, leader of isis. up next, the panel ask here to talk about president-elect's bl plans for rush once sworn in. back with the panel, right after this.
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b welcome back. interesting video shot outside the russian embassy here in washington, d.c. in that video you're watching now we see vans ay rive i arriv coming from that russian facility in centreville, maryland. one of the two facilities ordered closes at noon eastern today as part of are the obama administration response to russia's meddling in the u.s. election process. were you don't know if those vehicles are carrying some of those 35 russian diplomats, which the u.s. believes are intelligence operatives ordered to leave the country. we'll continue following this and update when we know more. president-elect donald trump and the russian leader vladimir
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putin are sending similar messages over the new sanctions against moscow. saying they are looking beyond them. trump says, time for the u.s. to move on to bigger and better things, quote/unquote, and putin saying he will not retaliate against the u.s. one question, does part of moving on potentially include reverses sanctions in 21 days once trump takes office? he could, if he wanted to. lisa monaco told cnn it would be highly unusual. >> the reversal of sanctions such as what you've described would be highly unusual. indeed, the sanctions usually remain in place until the activity and the reasons for them imposed in the first place has been removed. >> lisa monkic icco. and a hearing next we'll talking about cyber threats and the
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future. earlier john mccain told us from his travels in europe he would do just that. talking this over with my panel. rebecca byrd and jackie kucinich and ask you your opinion. listening to congressman franks. this is a developing response to this russian hacking response by the u.s. administration from trump supporters saying, we're not sure russia did it. but we have to be tougher on russia. >> right. >> and obama was never tough enough. but their president denies the premise that russia attacked, and seems to say he doesn't want to be tougher. how do you rectify this? there's division even within the republican party? >> seems they're talking past each other now. not willing to address trump's position. to be honest, this is headed for a collision course no matter how a slice it. trump decides to roll back sanctions it can be done away
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with by the next president, there's going to be a lot of political friction. right out of the gate, on the hill. nob not only that, when you see what mitch mcconnell put out last night and paul ryan, saying what obama did, too little, too late. they want harsher sanctions on russia. interesting politics playing out on capitol hill right out of the gate. >> and aaron, a lot of talk, what's the first fight democrats will pick with donald trump in this new administration with majorities for republicans in both houses? reality, the first fight between republicans and their own president? mccain saying, hearings next week and a majority of senators saying they want tougher sanctions, not a reversal. >> right. and president obama to thank, institutioning sanctions in the closing days of presidency effectively pits trump against these more hawkish republicans. sanctions in place. up to donald trump to get rid of them if he wants to. he'll get resistance from people like mccain. i think that the interview with
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congressman franks was a perfect example how this issue is tying republicans in knot s now. there is no good answer. president obama hasn't said trump would have lost without this. nobody said that so directly in arguing this is important, but it's kind of inherent in the issue. donald trump won by less than 1% in the three states that mattered in this election. you can't have this conversation sand and say it mattered without it essentially making a difference. seeing congressman franks and congressman yost you talked to yesterday saying it wasn't a big impact and just true information coming out. >> rebecca, before we go, get inside the head of donald trump a moment, if you can. >> why not? >> does donald trump not believe that russia's behind the hacking? generally doubt it, or is he most concerned about the pla
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implication it delegitimizes him? >> my sense based on what he said publicly, i couldn't claim to get inside the head of donald trump necessarily on this, but based on what he has said publicly, jim, it seems to be the latter. he is worried about what this says about his victory, because as we all know, he's receiving the same intelligence briefings on this that the president has received. he now is receiving classified briefings so he would have that information from the intelligence community that russia was behind this, and now much of that is also public as well. but he has expressed that this is politically driven. that democrats are pushing this issue because they want to undermine his victory. and i think that's a big part of this for him. so my question moving forward is, if russia continueses with think sort of activity in a contact separate from the election, will he respond in a more forceful way? >> no question.
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thank you all so much, as always. see all of them again in a few minutes. up next, the cease-fire between the syrian government forces and opposition groups is holding for now. did russia's involvement put russian president vladimir putin in the quagmire that president obama predicted? a live report from the region, and that's coming up. with the xfinity tv app,
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except for campaigns against isis and other groups they designate as tear risks. muhammad lila covers the story from istanbul, turkey. russian president vladimir putin announce add cease-fire and described it as very fragile. >> reporter: yes, jim. >> your thoughts? >> reporter: i don't know anyone on the ground is under any illusions this was going to be an easy process. in fact, it's proving to be the opposite. very difficult to monitor and enforce the cease-fire when there is so many different groups on the ground that are not only fighting the assad government, in many cases also fighting each other. the good news is that we're almost coming up to the 24-hour mark of the cease-fire and all groups involved, meaning turkey, russia, iran and syria, not reported any kind of fighting that would push this over to the edge saying that the cease-fire has been violated. so far it's looking like it will hold and, of course, it does, more proof ow powerful russia and turkey has become in the
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conflict. the cease-fire would not have started, kwiquite frankly, if i wasn't for russia and turkey getting together. if it proves successful, they would have done some the united states has proven incapable of doug. somehow miraculously getting talken on the road to ending this. >> we have ambassador robert ford, ambassador to syria, of course, joining us now from mousse head in maine. is this a positive development? the state department calls it a positive step? >> i certainly think it's a positive step. it means there will be a reduction in bloodshed, and it also means that fewer syrians will be impelled to leave the country and end up as refugees in places like lebanon, turkey, or even europe.
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so, yes, i think it's positive, if it holds. that's a big question. >> let me ask you this. senator mccain, for instance, senator graham, they have said that this, in fact, means cedeing? is that correct? >> yes it is. very little chance now that the syrian armed opposition could force syrian president bashar al assad from power, and assad is a very close ally of russia and iran. he's a dependent of them and it is correct. russia and iran have now really consolidated their position in syria. >> and that, i imagine, means a diminishment of u.s. influence, certainly in syria, and the end result? i imagine, in syria? >> absolutely. it mean as reduction in american influence in syria.
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not that american influence in syria ever was very big, but now we have a new, permanent russian air base in syria that wasn't there two years ago. they've upgraded their navy base in syria, and so the russians are much stronger in this area. kind of peculiar. same time, the u.s. military is conducting military operations in eastern syria against the islamic state, but that counts for little. it gives little leverage in the broader conflict between syrian president assad and the syrian opposition. >> you've been critical, ex-. seely critical of the obama administration handling of this and left your post saying you could no longer defend america's policy. we're here, 21 days away from the end of the obama administration, how much of a black mark on his foreign policy legacy is the syria war?
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>> well i think president obama will leave office with some genuine achievements, even in the middle east, such as the iranian nuclear deal, but i have no doubt that the syrian crisis, the carnage, the pressure on nato allies, because of the refugee crisis, and the dim munition of american cred habit and influence in the middle east because of the syrian crisis and the obama administration's handling of it, i have no doubt that will be a black mark on the administration's history. >> we, of course have a new president coming. president trump. i want to play for what you he said about his plans for syria just a short time ago. >> when i look at what's going on in syria, it's so sad. i will get the gulf states to give us lots of money, and we'll build and help build safe zones in syria so people can have a chance. >> is that still a realistic prospect in light of the
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cease-fire in russian and syrian government advances? >> well, if the -- if the syrian government would agree to areas where reconstruction could begin outside of syrian government control, the gulf states and the americans would manage, maybe, but i'm not exactly sure what the president-elect means by "safe zones." it's not a very clear expression, and who would protect it? how would aid get into it? there are huge questions. it's not just about getting money from the gulf states. the united nations is already deeply involved in humanitarian assistan assistance, with a lot of american money and gulf money and other money. it's not a money issue. it's a -- kind of a, how do you make the deal on the ground with the iranians, russians, syrians, the turks? a lot of negotiation involved. >> how to make the peace last. ambassador robert ford, thanks very much. >> my pleasure.
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and just ahead, the u.s. retaliates over russian hacking, but vladimir putin decides not to expel american diplomats in response. what does all of this mean for the future of u.s./russian relations? we'll talk with the ranking member of the house intelligence committee. he is congressman adam schiff right here with me and we'll be live when we return.
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joining us now to talk about the russian retaliation as well as the situation in syria is democratic congressman adam schiff of california, ranking member of the intelligence committee. thanks so much. >> you bet. >> there is is a read of this cease-fire now in syria, and as well as syrian advances on the ground, that russia has won, in
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effect. it got what it wanted. assad is still in poweris that accurate? >> it's gotten a lot of what it wants, yes, unfortunately, and i think what's so telling here is with the cease-fire that russia always had the capability of pressure erg the regime, which is so dependent on the russians, to bring about a cease-fire, but never wanted to use that pressure until it had changed the facts on the battlefield, until it had helped the regime take back aleppo. now that its accomplished those military objectives it is now a new-found interest in a cease-fire and we're seeing that manifest in a quelling of the guns, at least temporarily. >> is that a bad thing for the u.s.? for influence in the reach rgio and -- >> it will save syrian lives. that's very positive, but i think we've lost some of our stature in theed middle east, some of our credibility there and i think the russians gained. this has been a win for the
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russians. they may have bit off something in the long term is a problem for them, because the insurgency there isn't going to go away. and i think they're going to have attrition on this hands, as the regime will also. so they've taken on a lot but it's bunnished their image and ability to project their power. >> on to the russian hacking here. if there was an issue that could unite the divided parties on the hill it appears to be russian hacking. right? you've been a very strong voice on this but are hearing from the mccains and grahams of the world, from paul ryan, mcconnell and others they believe russia did the hacking, should be tough penalties, in fact even tougher sanctions. it's between everybody on the hill, it seems and president-elect donald trump. how is that resolved when he takes office? >> i think resolved either by an about-face by president-elect trump, when he gets this intelligence briefing, maybe that's the way he makes his pivot. or you might have an about-face by the republican leadership in
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congress. that's not willing to send him a sanctions bill notwithstanding support of mccains and others. right now that republican resistance is torpedoing every effort of a comprehensive select committee or joint committee investigation of the hacking that-of-notwithstanding a lot of bipartisan issupport for that's one has to give to there will be a real confrontation what do you do if republicans don't hold their fire, or rather hold their ground on this? what do they do in regards to the majority in the senator and the house? >> on the russian hacking we push for the most thorough investigation and we have the ability to conduct part of that ourselves and a bipartisan willingness at least in the intelligence committees to go forward with that. on the broader issue of going after russia, punishing russia, deterring russia, we ought to do everything we can as democrats to work with republicans and put
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together the strongest sanctions bill possible and send it to the president. he may or may not sign it. none the hesstheles nonetheless, the steps this president took are an important first step but not ultimately to deter the russians. >> you've been pushing for these kinds of steps for quite some time. did president obama wait too long? >> i think they. it would have been more powerful had it come earlier, in combination with allies, tough 20 put together in the last couple weeks of your office, but a these are significant steps none the less. i don't think it's superficial and i hope what the administration is doing covertly is more significant than what its doing overtly, and covert action, a bunch of alternatives involving exposing corruption in the kremlin, putin's only stashes of money around the world, these things are not easy to undo and would have a lasting impact. >> what evidence, though, do you have? do you believe that will work?
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will they deter? stop putin from doing this again? >> the steps taken so far. no. if we do more it can be a credible deterrent. the things the russians care about most, the economy. the real threat to the regime, if their economy continues to go south. building on sanctions over u xrain t crane is t ukraine is the most powerful. they're hoping to get everything they want from trump, a weakened nato, doing away with sanctions, free reign in their sphere of influence. why rock that boat? >> we'll watch it closely. adam schiff, thanks very much. happy holidays to your family. >> to you, too. coming up, president obama fresh off his hawaii vacation heads to capitol hill next week to powwow with democrats on how to defend obama care from his successor. is the president boxing in the president-elect? our panel will be back to discuss. your insurance company
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welcome back. we are back with our panel, rebecca berg, aaron blake and jackie kucinich. rebecca, in so many words, president obama waited too long on these sanctions. something you certainly hear from republicans as well? >> absolutely part of the calculation for president obama was that he didn't want this to be seen as political during the election, but now you're having to deal with the same accusations of this having been political now that donald trump is waiting to be sworn in as president. and so i guess as it turns out, there was no perfect time for this, and that's going to be the criticism from republicans and democrats alike hiwho wanted hi to be stronger against russia.
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should have done it sooner. >> he didn't want to do it before the election, in part because he thought hillary clinton would win and i hate to repeat delegitimize or undermine her own victory. >> if he had been putting in these sanctions in the context of a president-elect hillary clinton, no one could have accused him of trying to box her in or making this into a political -- >> speaking of a box, a pretty efficient one right now, because it deals with putting trump in a box. obama, nothing he could have done right in this particular situation. >> wait. to be fair, aaron blake, it's not exactly a noble motivation as president to not take these steps because you expect your party's candidate to win the white house? >> right. >> and then to take the steps after, when the other guy wins? >> seems like that shouldn't really be part of the calculus. you should be doing what's right. if you tonigdon't to release be the election, you don't want incomplete information that could have an impact on the election. the same thing happened with james comey coming out with that
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letter 11 days before the election. an impossible choice for him. he could, you know, put this out there. and have people think it was trying to influence the election or ignore it and people looking saying, why didn't you do something about this, that you had new e-mails? turned out to be not much of anything that impacted the election, the actual content of the e-mails but so much reluctance to do anything that close tolt the election and thought hillary clinton was going to win. >> is the republican charge true to some degree? that obama is trying to tie trump's hand with these steps on sanctions? with the u.n. resolution on israel? go up to the hill next week to talk about obama care? seems there's something to back that up? >> trying to make things politically very difficult for him. in ways some of the things he's done, some of the arctic drilling provisions he's put in place will be very hard for trump to undo unilaterally.
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that will involve a fight in the courts. >> politically hard or legally? >> legally hard, maybe both. in terms of sanctions, obama care, trying to make it politically hard for trump and variations how thard will be. republicans and obama care not much reach initialliness there's nothing to replace it. >> too much done in the last few days and weeks for this to be coincidence. they want as much done as they can towards the end and so much seems to be geared towards putting trump in a little bit of a box. the israel speech from john kerry is another good example of pes thp the russian sanctions that pit him against the more hawkish republicans. the monuments in utah and nevada. all stuff 245they're putting ou there and basically daring donald trump to undo once he becomes president. >> are you, really, mr. trumping going to welcome 35 prooperativ
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back into the country? really hard to reverse. >> exactly. donald trump views the world very differently and there's a little fear among president obama and democrats about what donald trump will do in office, and so part of this is just them playing defense. trying to stop him from doing some of those things or at least make it as difficult as possible for him politically and practically to get those things done, because he doesn't just want to see everything he's done in the past eight years evaporate on day one. >> interesting. a lot of talk about the first 100 days of the . they've already telegraphed that they're going to replace obamacare and infrastructure and that kind of thing, but we're seeing a situation where russia could swallow that up, could it not? if you have senate republicans talking about hearings and votes on new tougher measures, that's going to occupy -- suck up a lot of oxygen on the hill, isn't it? >> it's too soon to say what will dominate the first 100 days
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because of the nature how news is right now, looking at igt right now, certainly because this sets up trump against his own party on its face. >> but the white house sets the agenda not congress so president-elect trump where go up to the capitol on inauguration day, give his inaugural address and there will be a lot of pressure on congressional republicans to if not give up on the russia issue, at least be quiet for a while, focus on the initiatives president trump wants to focus on. >> it depends. they set the agenda, you're right. but if one of trump's first things is he erases those sanctions hill will react. >> i would anticipate his focus will be on jobs as a result because it's less politically difficult, something everyone can rally around. >> infrastructure, maybe taxes. rebecca berg, aaron blake, jackie kucinich. coming up, the war against isis marches on in mosul as
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iraqi forces fight to push the terrorist group out of iraq. we'll go live to the pentagon right after this. jack knocked over a candlestick onto the shag carpeting... ...and his pants ignited into flames, causing him to stop, drop and roll. luckily jack recently had geico help him with renters insurance. because all his belongings went up in flames. jack got full replacement and now has new pants he ordered from banana republic. visit and see how affordable renters insurance can be.
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the elusive leader of isis may now be on the u.s.'s radar. a u.s. official tells cnn in the last few weeks they have been aware of abu bakr al baghdadi's movements. a few weeks ago the u.s. upped a reward for information that would lead to his capture, jumping from $10 million to $25 million, same amount they'd asked for osama bin laden. pentagon press secretary peter cook joins me now. peter i know much of this gets into extremely classified territory here but let me ask you, how confident is the u.s., one, that baghdadi is alive and, two that they're getting closer to know his location. >> well, you are getting into sensitive intelligence matters. what i can tell you is we do think baghdadi is alive and is
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still leading isil and we are obviously doing everything we can to track his movements and if we get the opportunity we certainly would take advantage of any opportunity to deliver him the justice he deserves but i won't get into it beyond that. we're doing everything we can. this is something we're sending a lot of time on as you know, we've had a lot of success hitting and targeting isil leaders. he's having a hard time finding advisers and confidantes to speak with because a lot of them are no longer with us. >> let me can you this. there's a lot of talk of president obama wanting to get baghdadi before the end of his term. is that a realistic possibility that in the next 21 days baghdadi could be dead or captured? >> well, jim, there's no calendar or timeline on this. we are actively going after isil's leadership, including baghdadi. we have from the start of this campaign and we're doing everything we can, working with our coalition partners, working with partners on the ground to try and assess intelligence, to
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try and achieve this goal but there's a larger gel of defeating isil and that's what we're most focused on. we're doing everything we can and rest assured the u.s. military and our partners are actively doing everything we can to identify where he may be and the rest of the leadership team for isil because we think if we tryke leadership it does skr an impact on the organization as a whole. that's what we've seen from the strikes we've conducted so far. >> let's tack about the offensive to retake mosul. isis forces have been battling there for a number of weeks now. how close are iraqi forces backed by coalition air strikes and forces to taking back the city? >> well, jim, this is a hard fight and you've seen that play out on cnn on a daily basis. the iraqi security forces have shown determination, they've shown resilience against a difficult and hardened enemy, an enemy that's been able to build up defenses in mosul for the last two years and basically as
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you've seen this is very difficult urban warfare in which the iraqis to their credit are taking great steps to make sure that civilians, the risk to civilians is reduce sod this is going to take time but what we've seen in the last 48 hours is significant. the iraqi security forces in a coordinated attack along three separate axes has put the most pressure so far on isil and we've seen so far that it's hard for isil to defend each and every one of those axises of attack. that simultaneous nayty is difficult to bring to bear. in the last 24 hours we've delivered nearly 200 munitions in support of the efforts in mosul. this is a hard fight but the iraqis are carrying this out in the way we expected, appropriately and time, to some extent, jim, is also on the iraqi security forces' side. remember, isil is isolated here, unable to resupply significantly. unable to get reinforced by
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outside forces and to some extent this is, again, patience is a virtue for the iraqi security forces. >> you mentioned the risk to civilians. there were reports of civilian casualties from a u.s. air strike in mosul. is there any update? >> i know it's still under investigation as our folks at operation inherent resolve, the combined joint task force reported yesterday. what happened here as best we can tell there was a vehicle, an isil vehicle that was firing a web from that vehicle and the vehicle itself was targeted and at the time it was targeted it may have been near a hospital. that's what they're investigating what happened here and whether or not there is the possibility of civilian casualties. our goal is never to incur civil van casualties. there's a risk here. in this urban environment it's something we'll investigate as soon as we determine there was a credible possibility that civilian casualties occurred here.
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>> final question, you're aware of the cease-fire announced by russia in syria. how does this affect u.s.-backed anti-isis forces on the ground there? >> well, it doesn't have an impact on our isil fight. as you know, the cease-fire appears to be holding. we think that's a good thing for the syrian people. the suffering of the syrian people and perhaps an opportunity forren end to the syrian civil war political resolution but in the meantime isil is still very present in syria, particularly eastern syria and our fight there continues and the partner force s we're working with are showing progress in that fight against isil and they'll continue to have our support. >> and, yes, u.s. troops on the ground there still in the line of fire as well. peter cook from the pentagon, thanks very much for taking the time today. >> you bet, jim. happy new year. that's it for me now. i will be back at 5:00 eastern time on "the situation room." for our international viewers "the world right now" with my colleague hala gorani is next.
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for our viewers in north america, "newsroom" with fredricka whitfield starts right now. hello, everyone, i'm fredricka whitfield filling in for brooke baldwin. we start with russia's bizarre reaction to america's retaliation for hacks targeting the dnc during the 2016 race. just hours after the u.s. hit russia with some of the toughest sanctions ever imposed, russia did what few anticipated -- nothing. america forcing russian diplomats suspected spies out of this country, shuttering two russian compounds, one in maryland, the other in new york, and hitting russia's chief intelligence agencies with tough sanctions. russia deciding not