tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 6, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
happening now, breaking news. mass shooting. deadly rampage inside ft. lauderdale international airport. at least five people are killed, more injured. tonight, the gunman is in custody and we're learning new details about him. what was his motive? running for cover, the gunfire sends people fleeing for their lives. passengers, streaming out to the tarmac. and the chaos multiplying with reports of additional shooters. how did the evacuations spiral out of control. putin's preference. also breaking, declassified intelligence report on election-related cyber attacks is released stating russian president vladimir putin ordered and influenced campaign aimed at the u.s. presidential election with a clearance preference for donald trump. what tactics did russia use besides hacking? and witch hunt. trump blasts focus on hacking,
blaming adversaries who are embarrassed by their election loss. trump calls his intelligence briefing constructive. will he accept the findings? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're following two major break stories this hour including a deadly shooting rampage in florida. gunman opened fire in a baggage claim area at the ft. lauderdale international airport, killing five people, injuring eight more, triggering a chaotic evacuation that saw hundreds of people fleeing on to the airport tarmac. the suspected shooter is in custody tonight. sources identify him as esteban santiago, former soldier in the alaska national guard. we're also told he was on an arriving flight and retrieved the gun from his checked luggage. also breaking right now, the
release of the intelligence report on russian cyber meddling in the u.s. presidential race, that president putin order an influential campaign aimed at hurting hillary clinton, helping donald trump and undermining public faith in the u.s. democratic process. trump was briefed on the report hours after he called the focus on russian hacking, and i'm quoting him now, a witch hunt. we're covering more of that sbch more this hour. our guests, correspondents are standing by and expert analysts as well. let's begin with the deadly shooting rampage at the ft. lauderdale international airport. cnn sarah dan on is with us. >> reporter: esteban santiago opened fire moments after landing at the airport, killing five people, injuring eight more and sending hundreds running for cover. the bloody scene unfolded
shortly before 1:00 this afternoon as passengers were collecting their luggage at ft. lauderdale airport's terminal two. sources tell cnn the shooter, esteban santiago coldly moved through the crowd, opening fire. panicked passengers were seen running on to the tarmac, escaping the chaos inside. planes landing at the airport were held on the runway. >> evacuation at terminal two. >> reporter: as ambulances raced to the scene, evacuating victims. sources say esteban had landed in ft. lauderdale moments earlier on a flight from alaska. cnn has learned he had legally checked at least one gun into his luggage. when his bag arrived, sources say he went into the bathroom, pulled out the gun and came out shooting. when police arrived, they say he was arrested without incident. >> we have the shooter in custody. he's unharmed.
no law enforcement fired any shots. the subject is being interviewed by a team of fbi agents and broward sheriff's office homicide detectives. >> reporter: then as police worked to clear the scene and let passengers back into the airport, more chaos, as reports spread of possible shooters in two other terminals, leading to more confusion and fear. >> everyone is kind of panicked right now. everyone ran in different directions. >> reporter: tonight, police say santiago was the only shooter and that police never opened fire. wolf, i spoke briefly to one victim who had been on a different flight coming from atlanta, was there in the baggage claim area when the shooting happened. he said some of the victims were on his flight. he said a laptop in his backpack had taken a bullet. he and others are being interviewed as we speak by the fbi about what they saw, wolf. >> santiago arrived on a delta
flight himself. earlier we had mistakenly reported it was air canada. it was not air canada. it was a delta flight from alaska to ft. lauderdale. thank you very much, sara ganim for that. new information about the suspected gunman. our justice correspondent evan perez has that for us. what are you hearing from your sources? >> one of the big questions we have right now is the motivation of this suspect. and we're getting a little bit of a picture of what he -- what the last couple of months was like for him. we know from talking to law enforcement officials that he went to the fbi office in anchorage, alaska, a couple of months ago. apparently he said that he was hearing voices, including hearing voices telling him to join isis. there was some concern about his mental health at that point, wolf. and apparently local authorities were called and they took him to a hospital for a mental evaluation. he voluntarily checked himself in to that hospital. we don't know much more about the kind of treatment he may
have gotten during the time he was being checked out at that hospital. we did talk to a security company in anchorage where he was employed. we talked to the owners there. both owners have told us they were talking to law enforcement and didn't want to talk further. we're told, wolf, that his employers were among the people who heard him talking about hearing these voices. it's important to note that at this point, despite this report about him hearing voices and about him saying that he was hearing voices, telling him to join isis that there's no indication of terrorism, we're told, by law enforcement officials. at this point they're not treating it as a terrorism case. right now they're still trying to figure out all the possible motivations that could come into play here including, wolf, reports from several witnesses on this aircraft that he came in on earlier today that said that there might have been some kind of altercation. we don't know on which leg of the flight. this is a flight from alaska that may have stopped, i believe, in minneapolis before landing in ft. lauderdale
earlier today. that is something that we're checking into as well. according to witnesses who have now been interviewed by law enforcement, they describe some kind of altercation that may have happened. it appears whatever altercation happened it wasn't major enough for security to meet the aircraft when it landed in ft. lauderdale. there was no incident at all when he landed. when -- once he arrived, he went down to the luggage area in the lower level at the ft. lauderdale airport, retrieved his bags, went to the bathroom, retrieved the gun and then opened fire, wolf. >> we're getting more information, evan, on this suspect, esteban santiago, from the alaska national guard. let me update our viewers, what they're telling us right now. he joined the puerto rico national guard on december 14th, 2007. he was then deployed for almost a year to iraq with puerto rico national guard from april 2010 to february 2011. he was in the u.s. army reserves prior to joining the alaska army
national guard. he received a general discharge. that's not an honorable discharge. general discharge from the alaska army national guard on august 16th, 2016. the explanation was unsatisfactory performance. he was a combat engineer during his service in the military when he was discharged. military rank was e-3 private first class. so, it does give us a little bit more information on this individual, esteban santiago, evan. >> right. that's right, wolf. we're told he has been interviewed by the fbi, by the broward sheriff's office down there in ft. lauderdale. and some of what he is saying doesn't check out. for example, he initially told the investigators that he came from canada, which may have led to some assumptions there by the local officials that he came in on this air canada flight. air canada flies into that very same terminal.
we now know he did not come in on air canada. we also know he indicated that he was part of -- was a member of the national guard and then simply stopped showing up. that's again something that he has told investigators. that may explain why he had this discharge from the alaskan national guard that is not honorable. it's simply just a general discharge, because he may have stopped showing up. and that's the reason they decided to separate from him. >> unsatisfactory performance. as a result, he got a general discharge. >> right. >> from the lsksz army national guard in august last year. evan perez reporting for us. florida governor rick scott is joining us on the phone right now. governor, thanks very much for joining us. >> hi, wolf. this is a despicable, evil act. think about these innocent people who come in on a flight, according to law enforcement we've lost five lives here. we have people in our hospitals, fighting for their life. this is something that nobody in
florida is going to tolerate. we'll do everything we can to hold whoever is responsible for this to the full extent of the law. this is just a disgusting act by whoever did this. whoever was involved. >> we know the suspect who was arrested, apprehended, esteban santiago. based on what you know, governor, and you obviously know a lot more than we do. was it one individual who did this or are there others potentially involved? >> according to the sheriff's department of broward county, there was one shooter, but there is still a lot of unanswered questions. i'm still at the airport, being briefed by law enforcement. they are -- you know, if there's a crime scene here, they shut down the airport. they're going through every piece of the airport to find out exactly what happened, talking to everybody. this is a despicable act on innocent people. i've reached out all day. i came over here, landed about -- i guess about 220.
i heard from president-elect trump right away and vice president-elect pence right away. i've kept them informed. i've talked to the sheriff's department around the state where we have major airports, national guard to make sure they're ready. my focus, hold people accountable and keep people safe. >> what else can you tell us about this suspect, esteban santiago, governor? >> it will come out. we're in the middle of an investigation. it will come out as they confirm the information. right now, it's in the middle of an investigation. everybody is working well together. the sheriff's department, the fbi, the florida department of law enforcement. everybody is working together to milk sure exactly what happened, who was accountable and then we'll hold them accountable. >> make sure it doesn't happen again. do you know anything about a potential motive? >> right now, i don't know. there's an ongoing
investigation. wolf, today i announced i'm going to put more money in our budget for counterterrorism and intelligence efforts. it's very important and we're doing everything we can to help passengers. they can go to floridadisaster.org/info. we'll do everything we can to take care of them. i'm going to continue to pray for the individuals in the hospital that we don't lose another life here. >> would you characterize this as a terrorist attack? five people were killed. eight people injured. as you point out, some of them now fighting for their lives in ft. lauderdale hospitals? >> what we know so far was this was clearly an evil act. i mean, this is despicable. people just flying in and being murdered by this shooter. it's despicable the stuff that's going on.
i am going to do everything i can to keep everybody safe that comes to our state. and i'm not going to tolerate any of this. and i'm going to do everything i can to hold whoever was responsible, wolf. there's an investigation going on. whoever was, we're going to hold them accountable. >> do you believe, governor, airports in florida -- those airports are huge. lot of tourists coming in, lot of florida iians using those airports. airports around the country as well, do they need to rethink how they approach security, specifically at baggage claim? >> wolf i reached out to all the major airports in the state today and sheriff's departments in each of those counties to make sure they had the resources they needed. look, what you do -- the way you do this, we'll find out what happened here. we'll figure this out. and then if something else needs to be done, we'll do it. florida is a 45-year low crime rate. we look at what's happened and
we figure out how to improve constantly. >> governor, where does the investigation go from here? >> well, right now, i'm sitting right outside the terminal where the shooting was. they are doing -- they are interviewing people. i remember the pulse attack. they went through -- they'll understand. they'll talk to everybody they can. they'll know where every bullet went. they'll know everything about this. fbi. sheriff's department. fbi did a very thorough job at trying to figure out what happened here. we're going to find out what happened. law enforcement will -- you know, is committed to provide information as they're able to. they toent want to do anything that would impact their investigation. >> the airport, i take it, is still shut down? >> yeah. right now, wolf, the airport is shut down. they're sweeping the entire airport. so the terminal where the shooting was is going to take a
while. it's a crime scene. it will take a while before it reopens. >> governor rick scott of florida, thank you so much for joining us. good luck. >> thank you, wolf. >> ft. lauderdale airport is, as we said, shut down right now. we want to bring in tom fuentes, former assistant director of the fbi. is there more that needs to be done? should this individual, santiago, should he have been on a no-fly list, for example? the fbi -- he went to the fbi in alaska a few months ago and said he was hearing voices in his head. they were obviously worried about him. they took somesteps. but he got on a plane with a gun and ammunition in his checked bag. >> someone goes into a law enforcement office, whether it's the fbi or state and local police -- this happens almost on a daily basis even when i was a cop. almost every day somebody comes in, makes wild statements and the authorities think they have mental problems. they can try to refer them to a
mental institution but they can't track him the rest of his life to see that he gets treatment or gets cured or is continuously monitored. the next step is they're not in a position to deny somebody, unless they're ajudged mentally ill in a formal process -- if that doesn't happen they will not be able to keep them from obtaining a weapon. because he was in the national guard, he may have had it all along before anybody had any idea that he was mentally ill. there's only so much that any law enforcement agency is going to do if someone expresses some degree of mental illness. they just can't lock them up based on that and keep them locked up forever. >> at what point does the fbi say there are serious concerns about an individual, he should be on the no-fly list. >> as far as the no-fly list he has to express some type of terrorist rhetoric or something that he's going to join. many people will come in and say things like that, that they want to be a member of a terrorist group or that they are.
if they're more convinced that he's mentally ill as opposed to serious about it this is probably what's going to happen. even that, we don't know that he's a terrorist yet. >> we're just learning more about it, including the general discharge from the alaska national guard back in august this past year. ft. lauderdale airport once again is shut down as this investigation unfolds. cnn's boris sanchez is on the scene for us. very can chaotic scene over the past few hours. it was one individual shooter, there was a lot of panic going on in the hours that followed. >> wolf, there were a few moments where we had no idea what was going and on even i got behind a column. i wasn't sure what people were run running. hundreds of people were seemingly running in all directions. i want to update you on the situation here at ft. lauderdale international airport. broward county sheriff's helicopter has been circling us for several hours. we are still on lockdown here.
several hundred travelers have been stranded here. they have nowhere to go because there's no way in or out of this airport. we spoke to several people out on the tarmac and were terrified in the mele that we saw this afternoon. several people evacuated from this parking structure next to me in that panic, fear of that second shooter. it all started just down from where we're starting right now at terminal two. there were several dozen people huddled around law enforcement and at one point several law enforcement officers that were heavily armed started running across the street into one of those parking garages. at that point, we heard screaming. we heard people running. they moved into this parking garage, starting to go floor by floor, scanning it. that was happening behind us. on the other side terminal one. then we started hearing screams and seeing people running from there. we watched folks on the lower level being evacuated out by law enforcement. they were yelling at us to even
get out of the way. we were seemingly way too close to what was going on. at one point this afternoon hundreds of people were standing on the runway, many of them screaming and crying. at one point, they were moved to some -- to an area essentially on the other side of the airport. eventually they were able to move on. as i said before, we are in lockdown here. several hundred people are still not able to leave as this investigation unfolds. it will be some time, wolf, until we get a clear picture of what unfolded here. >> thank you very much. joining us on the phone right now is the mayor of broward county, barbara sharif. thank you for joining us. i wonder if you could update us with any more information you might have about the suspect or his motivations. >> at this time, wolf, there has not been any updates in terms of what the motivation of the suspect is. what i can tell you is that
there has been quite a bit of information that has been given out and law enforcement right now is really concerned about mus information. particularly with the identification of the suspect. they are reverifying that. at this point in time, there are some things about that that are not checking out. >> like what, for example? we want to be as accurate as possible, mayor. tell us what the problems are. >> in terms of the name itself, that may not be the appropriate or accurate information. >> really? >> yeah. so what they're trying to do is identify and confirm that yes, that is in fact the person that they do have in custody. i can tell you that he was taken alive. he is not injured. he did surrender to the personnel that was on scene during the shooting. >> in other words he may have had some sort of identification identifying him as esteban
santiago, former member of the alaskan national guard but it may be false i.d., he may be someone else? is that what i'm hearing from you, mayor? >> correct. correct. >> and do -- >> we don't want to continue to give that information out and so we would like to just clarify that point. >> so, in other words what i hear you saying is we no longer should refer to him as esteban santiago, is that what you're saying? >> what i'm saying right now is that we can't confirm that for sure. so i'm not going to confirm that at this time. >> okay. we will obviously be as precise as possible right now. can you update us on any information, mayor, you have on the status of the eight individuals who were injured? the governor said some of them are fighting for their lives. >> yes. so we have, at this point in time, there was a total of 13 people injured during the attack and several of those people were
transferred to area hospitals. out of those eight people, their injures are varying in severity. so, i can't give out any information at this time about those individuals specifically because some of the families have not been notified as of yet and some cannot be contacted as of yet. >> how long will the airport, do you believe, mayor, be shut down? >> this airport may be shut down into the night. right now, they have swept the airport. they have moved all the passengers that were in the different terminals to the safety areas as protocol dictates. what we're trying to do at this point in time is empty the airport, get the passengers off the tarmac as quickly as possible that need to be existed off the airplane and then do a final sweep of the airport. make sure that everything is safe and then the airport will be reopened. as you know, that's going to take some time. so, we're not looking at opening
flight. the gun was actually checked in his bag, his checked bag. ammunition as well. the sheriff says the attacker is unharmed and was arrested without incident. the suspect does have a military background. let's bring in our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr. barbara, update our viewers on what we're learning about this guy. >> well, wolf, a short time ago the pentagon released a service record, military service record for a man with the name esteban santiago ruiz. this matches the name of the person that, by all accounts, civilian law enforcement in florida has in custody now. and this service record has some very interesting details in it. this man was a member of the puerto rico national guard and the alaskan national guard and he did have a combat deployment to iraq. he went to iraq, deployed from april 2010 to february 2011. now you will recall this was
eventually -- there was the wind down in iraq but this was still during some of the very heavy periods of combat. and during that time, he engaged in military activities that resulted in him getting a couple of very significant medals. he got the iraq campaign medal with a star. that means he was in a combat environment. he was also awarded a service combat action badge as a driver and mechanic. so here is the obvious question that we don't know the answer to. he was in a position to be driesk a wheeled vehicle during combat activity in iraq. could he have been blown up? could he have been in an ied explosion? could he have suffered traumatic brain injury? could he have suffered post traumatic stress? these are some of the obvious questions of any service member that might have been in that kind of combat environment in iraq back during those years. we do not know the answer. that information, that medical
information not likely to be publicly released. but it certainly is an interesting question about this man. he doesn't show that he got a purple heart. it doesn't show that he was ever wounded. but during those years, those who were in some of these explosive events, ied explosions, didn't always get purple hearts. people standing nearby might not have gotten a purple heart for a traditional activity in which they would have been wounded. it's just something to consider. he served during these years of a great deal of military activity in iraq. he is a combat veteran. still all the pieces being put together. the pentagon releasing the bare bones of his military record. the fbi has really taken this over and the pentagon does not expect a lot more to say about any of this. wolf? >> by the way, these are live pictures, left part of the screen. armored police. you see them walking just
outside the airport there. this is still a very tense situation. barbara, we've also been told he received what's called a general discharge last august from the alaska army national guard for unsatisfactory performance. not an honorable discharge. tell us about that. >> a general discharge, for many military people, is considered quite serious. it would have indicated that during whatever final period of time he was serving in the guard, he was not performing to standard. sometimes this is done because people may briefly go awol. they may not report for duty as expected, may not meet disciplinary or performance standards. there's any number of reasons for it. it can actually have quite an impact on your ability to find employment down the road. on your ability to really, shall we say, integrate back into
civilian life. to be clear, we don't know about this man. we don't know what he was facing. we don't really know, confirmed what his issues were and why he got a general discharge. but make no mistake, it's a very serious matter. most people get honorable discharges. it doesn't indicate that he ever faced criminal activity. he did not get a dishonorable discharge by any information that we have here tonight. but a general discharge, let's be clear, it's not a great situation for any soldier to be facing. >> you're absolutely right. barbara, thank you very much. i know we'll be learning a lot more about esteban santiago in the hours ahead. aviation correspondent, renee marsh, is working the story for us. what did you find out specifically if this could happen at baggage claim at other
airports around the country. it's outside the security perimeter? >> that's right. we talk about this all the time when we see incidents happen not just here but overseas. this is the so-called soft target area of the airport f you talk to any law enforcement official they will tell you it's almost impossible to eliminate vulnerabilities or a threat and get that down to zero. he took advantage of that vulnerability within the airport, the baggage claim. as we've been reporting, legally, as it appears now, based on the information that we have, have that weapon inside his checked luggage. he also had the ammunition. that is perfectly fine if you follow very specific procedures. at this point it appears as if he did. you have to have it in a special case, a hard-side case. you cannot have the ammunition actually in the firearm. that needs to be separated. and you also need to check in with the ticket counter. it seems as if he followed all
of those steps until, wolf, as we know how this all unfolded when he arrived in ft. lauderdale. >> evan perez, he did show up some time last year at an fbi office in lskz, saying he was hearing voices in his head? >> right. that does raise very important questions that law enforcement will have to answer over the next few weeks, which is he shows up at fbi anchorage office and says he has been hearing voices, exhibits signs of a mental illness situation. they call the local authorities and take him to the local hospital. he admits himself. he essentially checks himself in for a mental health information. the question is, why does that allow him to still have a firearm, weapons permit? that allows him to take this firearm on aircraft? is there something that should have been done there that would have made him prohibited from being able to carry a firearm
inside his checked bags? perhaps his military background, i'm not sure, would have allowed him to do that. >> do we know what he was telling the fbi in alaska about the voices, what the voices were saying? >> yeah, we do know. according to the authorities we were talking about, he was hearing voices, including voices telling him to join isis. they're going to go back to see if there's something more that could have been done. when you're facing someone with a mental health situation, you know, it's really unclear what the fbi should do in that case. it's not clear necessarily that he's done anything beyond just saying these words.
with regard to the discharge, at some point he stopped showing up with the national guard. that might perhaps explain why they finally separated from him in august of 2016. again, there's still a lot more investigation to be done but very important questions are beginning to emerge, including about the mental health issue, about the ability to carry this gun after having reported, after checking himself in for this mental health evaluation. is that something that should have been forwarded to some kind of national screening center so that perhaps he couldn't board this aircraft with this gun? >> michael weiss is with us as well. an individual with an army record, generally discharged, general discharge from the alaska army national guard shows up at the fbi offices in alaska and he says he's hearing voices in his head from isis, if you will. and then, obviously, we know what happened. today, a mass shooting, mass
killing at the ft. lauderdale international airport. this is extremely worrisome. >> it is. if he's an isis terrorist, why is he going to the fbi? he said he heard voices saying he was jesus christ we would argue he's a crazy person. it's not mutually exclusive. you can be an islamic terrorist and a bit off. in fact, isis predecessor organization used to lure disabled, handicapped people into becoming suicide bombers. there's something in the air now when it comes to isis and, frankly, everything else with international politics that people are driven to these ultra violent, extremist ideologies. you want to commit an act of mass murder you need a banner, a cause, to make yourself greater than the act itself. it could very well be that this guy just said this. let's see what the fbi and
others find on his lap top, if there's any kind of recruitment material, but nothing i'm hearing makes me think this was an isis attack zblefs taken alive, tom. clearly not a martyr ready to commit suicide on behalf isis. he wasn't even harmed in the course of this, after he shot and killed all those people and injured so many others. he was arrested by local law enforcement. i assume the fbi offices, fbi in alaska right now will do a major post mortem. what did they miss? what should this guy have done when he shows up in their offices in alaska saying i want to join isis and all of a sudden six months later he shows up at ft. lauderdale airport and has these weapons and kills all these people. >> if they referred him to state or local police, that's the procedure. the fbi doesn't get involved in
individual citizens who might have mental problem. >> fbi doesn't put people on watch lists, no fly lists? >> can you imagine the civil rights in this country if the fbi locked people up because they were mentally ill? >> you could put them on a list. >> that doesn't necessarily stop t the thing about the list, what was he ajudged? he is turned over to local police. they get him to commit himself into an institution. he could check himself out any time. that's the rule of the law in the united states mentally ill people can go in but can check themselves out as soon as possible. there's no way to enforce it. we don't know when he obtained the weapon. it could be years ago. we don't know what happened when he went into the mental health facility. you have to be ajudged mentally ill again by a zblunlg judge. >> by a judge before -- we saw
this in the virginia tech shooting. the shooting there had been adjudged mentally ill and nobody notified law enforcement or anybody and he was able to buy two guns at the roanoke gun shop. this whole issue of mental health in this country has been disgraceful for years and it still is. we have people amongst us -- >> repeatedly in these type of situations. >> large number of mentally ill people who are free and over 300 million guns in this country, which many times they can get access to. >> what we're learning from law enforcement officials, there's no any other indication that he had any kind of radicalization or extremism. he wasn't on the radar for the fbi. even though he shows up and says these things, the judgment of the agents who are talking to him and even the people around him who had brought him there apparently was that he was having mental health issues.
that might have influenced the way this was handled at the time. xwen they'll go back and take a look at it. but the fakt that mental health continues to keep coming up in these situations. we don't know how to handle it of the and we toedon't know whe these records need to become more than private records so that people can't fly with weapons and so on. >> to your point, i mean, if he didn't have a background, if he was not on the fbi's radar, you really cannot just add his name to no-fly list because then you have civil rights issue. >> and second amendment right, right to own firearms unless they've been adjudicated as tom points out, by a judge that they've been declared mentally defective. >> there will be a major post
news at the ft. lauderdale international airport that left five people dead and eight people wounded. in a taping, president obama spoke about the attack and whether there may be any connection to terrorism. listen to this. >> that shooting dmoun ft. lauderdale this afternoon, do we know enough now to know whether it was an act of terror? >> as a general rule until i've got all the information, george, i don't want to comment on it other than just to say how heartbroken we are for the families who have been affected. these kinds of tragedies have happened too often during the eight years i've been president. the pain, the grief, the shock that they must be going through is enormous. i have asked my staff to reach out to the mayor down there and make sure that the coordination between state and local officials is what it should be. but i think we'll find out over the next 24 hours exactly how this happened and what motivated this individual.
>> the president also reacting to the attack at the ft. lauderdale airport. we're also following another breaking story, release of the intelligence report on russian cyber meddling in the u.s. presidential election. u.s. intelligence has conclude that russian president vladimir putin ordered an influence campaign, that's what they call it aimed at hurting hillary clinton and helping donald trump. let's go to our national chief correspondent, jim sciuto. the report says this is all part of president putin's ongoing effort to undermine -- >> that's something they determined with confidence months ago but to deliver in detail their assessment that the intention of russia was to weaken hillary clinton and help donald trump within the presidential election, a message that the nation's top spies had to sit across from donald trump today in his classified briefing and deliver to him directly.
tonight, a declassified version of the intelligence community's report on russian hacking concluded that, quote, putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect trump. russian president vladimir putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the u.s. presidential election. russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the u.s. democratic process, denegrade secretary clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency. the russian's assault on the u.s. election used several different techniques, blending, quote, convert intelligence operations such as cyber activity with overt efforts by russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media usero ers or trols. when it appeared that secretary clinton was likely to win the election, they began to focus more on undermining
they targeted not just the democratic party but also the republican party made that clear and yet the releases largely targeted just one candidate. the democrat hillary clinton. they targeted both parties, might have stolen material from both parties but only released it on one and that's what's led them to the conclusion as to what the intention of this attack was. >> our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. thanks very much. trump was briefed on the report before it was released. our senior white house correspondent jim acosta is working that part of the story for us. you're getting new information about that briefing with the highest ranking u.s. intelligence officials. what are you learning? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. i just got off the phone with a senior transition official familiar with what went on in
that meeting between donald trump and those intelligence officials. i was told this meeting was not contentious, there was no yelling going on, it was cordial as it was drined to me, but there are a couple of key highlights i think we want to point out to our viewers reporting to this senior transition official. they did talk about this issue of the fbi going to the dnc and saying to the democratic national committee that your computer servers have been hacked and there was a conversation that went on during this meeting, wolf, where it was asked why didn't the dnc act soon enough and had they acted sooner might that have made a difference? and according to the senior transition official, the acknowledgment was from the intelligence community officials yes, perhaps, it might have made a difference. a couple other things that came up during the meeting according to the senior transition official, the intelligence leaders that the meeting told donald trump the cyber hacking activity began in late 2015,
early 2016, so the question they had inside the transition is if it began in late 2015, early 2016, how is there this motive to help donald trump get elected president? now, there is an acknowledgment inside the transition after this meeting because they say they did receive new information at this meeting they did not have before that there was an intent through this hacking activity to harm and damage hillary clinton's candidacy. they are not disputing that according to the senior transition official, but they still dispute this notion that vladimir putin, the kremlin, and the russians were involved in hacking to get donald trump elected. they say if you look at the evidence there was no hacking of election tallies and so forth but there is an acknowledgment inside this transition team that there was an intent to harm hillary clinton's candidacy. >> jim acosta outside trump tower in new york city, thank you. let's get more on all of this. former republican congressman jack kingston, senior adviser to the trump campaign, joining us. thanks very much. >> thank you.
>> i assume you've gone through the declassified report. the bottom line, do you assess what the u.s. intelligence community has contincluded thate russians were trying to help bolster donald trump and undermine hillary clinton? >> i think the fbi and the cia are on the same page, that there was russian interference, and russia was coordinating it from the top levels. but i also say the nsa only had a moderate level of confidence on that. but what was clear, that there was no effect of the results because of this. no tampering of machines, and no motive that was found and so forth. i think the good part about this report and today's action and the hearings this week is that maybe we can get beyond the politics and say, okay, what do we do about this? because we know russia isn't alone. there's lone actors. there's china, other nations
always trying to hack into our computer systems. what can we do about that? and then, you know, one other question, if we're going to continue, we as a community of maybe critics in washington, d.c., where was the president? if this was going on in 2015, 2016, why did the president wait till this fall to talk to putin about it? and even when he did talk to putin about it he said you guys need to cut that out. those were his words. it seems to me like it would have been a much bigger deal for the president of the united states and would have merited him sitting down with putin saying what the heck are you guys doing and if you're continuing this we're going to get very involved. >> that is a fair criticism that even some democrats like adam schiff, dianne feinstein have leveled against the president, that he waited too long to launch these sanctions and to punish russia for these cyberattacks. i just want your personal understanding. do you agree with this line from
this report -- we further asays that putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect trump? we have high confidence in these judgments. do you agree with that? >> well, i would accept that. but, you know, again, now that we have this report, can we get beyond the political side of it and say, you know, what are we going to do about it from this point forward? and in that respect, donald trump called for a 90-day action plan. he's going to put dan coats, mike pompeo, general flynn, everybody to task immediately to come back with what are we going to do about this, how do we prevent it in the future from other nations and sole actors who are out there. i think that the president has acted in a very responsible -- the president-elect has acted in a responsible manner. and he also by the way as you note complimented the intelligence community. i think he wants to get kind of the public debate over this and
let's move to a constructive solution, how do you learn from this and what can we do going forward. >> there's reaction from president obama in his new interview with george stephanopoulos with abc. listen to this. >> vladimir putin got what he wanted. >> well, look, i think that what is true is that the russians intended to meddle and they meddled. i'll be honest with you, george, a lot of things that i am concerned about is the degree to which we've seen a lot of commentary lately where there were republicans or pundits or cable commentators who seem to have more confidence in vladimir putin than fellow americans because those fellow americans are democrats. that cannot be. >> does that include the president-elect? >> well, what i will say is that -- and i said this right after the election -- we have to remind ourselves we're on the
same team. vladimir putin is not on our team. >> go ahead and react to, that congressman. >> i would agree with him. we are all on the same team and vladimir putin and people who would hack into an american elections are not on our team. and i think that, again, moving forward and looking at the president's 90-day deadline for coming up with solutions, i think that's a positive thing. it might be something also where it will white house, the current president's team could sit down with the president-elect's team and say, okay, let's get out off of the public debate, let's, you know, go off to camp david or wherever we need to be sequestered and come up with some solutions, because as you know, peter king is very, very respect -- well respected intelligence leader in congress. he's very, very concerned that the leaks to the press came from the cia director. we don't want that either. and so to me, you know, that's a question that caused some wound as well.
>> jack kingston, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> jim sciutto, button this up for us because i've gone through this report a couple times. you have as well. and there's a ton of information here including cutouts or third party individuals used by the russians to provide this information to wikileaks. >> two big headlines here. russia wanted to help trump win the election and weaken hillary clinton. two, they hacked both party, democrats and republicans. finally, they showed some of the goods to why they believe that including the middlemen russia used after stealing the toerl the get it in the public eye. >> it was also very interesting the fake news, the propaganda that they got out there very successf successfully. >> absolutely. they made it clear this is a comprehensive campaign, not just hack documents but in effect hack america news media to some degree, get out fake information as well. >> it would be on the internet getting a lot of exposure, all
these false stories. thanks very much, jim sciutto. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm blilts bliwolf blitzer in " situation room." "erin burnett out front" starts right now. good evening. i'm erin burnett. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. an airport attack. we are learning tonight that the suspect in the delgadoly shooting at the ft. lauderdale airport had been known to the fbi. investigators have not officially named the gunman but sources tell cnn he's being identified as stay van santiago. accused of killing five people, injuring at least eight others opening fire in a crowded baggage area at the airport. the gunfire sparking panic, hundreds spilling onto the tarmac, fearing for their lives. law enforcement officials