tv Inside Politics CNN January 12, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PST
your greatest asset is no doubt susan, and your tremendous relationship and your family. and i know that will be a great aset to the nation as well. and so thank you for stepping up to do this. your whole love changed a month ago when you accepted the possibility of a nomination for this. so thanks for stepping up and doing it. let me ask about the role of the cia and its face and the direction that it looks. can you walk me throughior philosophical perspective of it being a foreign face and what is the role in the united states for the cia? >> senator, thanks for the kind words. i enjoyed working alongside you on foreign policy matters as well. and right back at you. look, the central agency agency has a mission to steal secrets. and it's to be an espionage agency. getting hold of information that bad actors around the world don't want us to know. these are foreign entities, foreign actors, foreign
countries, whether it's iran or russia or whoever that actor may be, the intelligence agency's fundamental role is to deliver that information to policymakers so you all can make informed judgments about how to respond and to keep america safe. that's its function. it has lots of pieces to it. people pieces. we have to have the finest talent from all across america so that it can deliver that product. we have to have policies and processes in place so that we can deliver that. we need to make sure when asked to perform covert action that we do so in a professional way consistent with the law and vigorously constitute the president's directives there. this is a world class foreign intelligence service that if i'm confu confirmed, i am humbled to have the opportunity to lead. >> let me ask about gathering intelligence and getting it in a timely basis to the president and other decisionmakers and policymakers. it has been one of the ongoing disputes is the speed of the
turn around. how fresh is that information? and at times for agencies to think and rethink and edit and re-edit information so that by the time you get it, it's so sterile and so old that it's not as useful anymore. talk me through methods and thoughts about trying to get fresh information to policymakers and the president. >> senator, it's incredible important that the information is timely. i understand sometimes there is a trade-off between speed and depth and accuracy, right, and completeness. but that just means we have to be world class. businesses do this every day. i tried to do it in the times i ran my two small companies. we have to make sure the cia is world class with respect to developing this information in timely, speedy fashion, getting it to policymakers in a way that is reliable and timely. we have all seen this. it's a complex world with difficult foreign intelligence collections and pockets and we have to make insure the agency is world class delivering that
to you. >> let me ask a strange question for you. you're going to often be in meetings with dan coats and yourself and the president. what's the difference in the information that you are bringing to the president? how can you and the director of national intelligence cooperate together and bringing information and what's the differences in the roles there as the two of you sit and bring information to the president? >> look, the dni, and senator coats, if confirmed in his role, will have the function of being the president's senior intelligence policy adviser. i have the glory, if confirmed to lead the world's premier intelligence collection organization. certainly with respect to human intelligence. a unique capacity that's unrivaled in the world and i hope to be part of making it even better. and so we'll bring a set of different perspectives. he'll have spent more time evaluating intelligence from different parts of the intelligence community. i will have been focusod the work our agency does. and i have great confidence he and i will work together to deliver a comprehensive view of america's intelligence posture
and the information that's been derived from that. >> okay. thank you. thank you very much, mike, for your service and susan for yours as well. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> senator manchin. >> congressman, thank you for your service. and also congratulations on your nomination and to your family. i'm sure they're extremely proud of you, and they should be. with that being said, we live in a troubled world today as we all know. and i think i just want to hear your thoughts on your experiences within the military and also your experiences as a congress person and in positions you've had in congress on what you consider the greatest threat the united states of america faces today and what person brings the greatest threat to our country that wants to do us harm. >> it's always hard to rack and stack in terms of turmoil around the world we find today. let me give it a throw. so i begin with the threat from terrorism as it extends into the homeland. if you asked the most immediate threat, i think it's certainly that. it presents the most immediate
threat to the personal risk to a person living in south central kansas. and so we need to be -- >> a country associated with that? >> let's start with the activity taking place in syria and iraq and the threat that terrorists have posed both sunni and shia terrorists opposed to the united states. so isis and al qaeda would be the primary organizations today but it extends far beyond that. also challenges from radical islamic terrorism in -- >> do you believe terrorism is the highest threat we face? i'm just saying in your position right now, classified position you have right now -- >> in the near term threat to life and limb of americans, yes. i put north korea, china and russia right up there alongside them. >> which one has the weapons to do us harm? >> oh, goodness. the nuclear powers are the ones that have the biggest threat to do catastrophic harm to the united states. >> and which person in the world do you -- in your estimation has
the desire to do us the most harm? >> to ask me for a singular individual is really a tough question, senator manchin. the list is long. >> there's a lot of them? >> yes, sir. >> okay. west virginians are asking me continually, can we trust the intel community. and they go back and keep referring back because they listen to a lot of the political campaign rhetoric. we had weapons of mass deinstructiop. declared war on iraq and found out we could have taken a difference course or altered that course. they have questions about that. do you have confidence in the intel community, the cia particular, where you're going into? >> i do. i'd never stand here today to tell you the agency has had perrion throughout history nor that it will have perfection if i'm confirmed on my watch. but i have great confidence in the men and women that work out there. they are, you know, they are patriots, warriors, they are real people who have dedicated their life to keeping america
safe. and i have the utmost confidence that if i'm confirmed, i will get an opportunity to lead a set of -- >> right now, i think you'd have to agree that the morale is fairly low, and they are being hit by many different angles and sides through the political process we go through which can be very damaging, if you will. what's your first point of order and what's your first steps that you intend to take if confirmed to lift that morale up and let them know we're on the same side? >> senator, i might dissent from the predication. i've had a chance to spend a little bit of time with a handful of people out there. i haven't seen the low morale that you described. look, they are human beings. they americans, too. they watched the political process. but what i have seen from the spirited warriors out of the spiritual intelligence agency is a desire to get out of the missal miss
middle of this fight and perform their function. do their work in a way that they know how to do. and they are -- i don't mean to denigrate the leadership at the central intelligence leadership at all today. director brennan has performed amazing service to america for an awfully long time. but many of them have served under multiple presidents as well. and they know that times change. leaders change. and they are very much looking forward to the new administration, if confirmed, me as director of the cia to help them perform their function. >> i definitely wish you well on that. and the optimistic view you have. and your thoughts on sanctions. what would be your thoughts on sanctions? we're looking at sanctions? are we looking at it state by state, country by country or should we have a blanket basically piece of legislation here that says that any country that has been state sponsor cyberattacks on the united states of america, should we not have basically sanctions in
place to address all of the same or should it be country by country deciding on what sanctions that we think will be more detrimental. but i'm just saying if it's been the intel community confirms that it's state-sponsored sanctions, shouldn't we know exactly what they're going to be facing if we confirm that? >> senator, you -- given my first opportunity to step out of the political world today and tell you, look, that decision, that policy will be left to others. i do have a record with support to sanctions. i have voted for legislation authori authorizing sanctions a number of times. >> were they country by country? >> they were nation by nation sanctions we were evaluating. >> so whatever relationship we have with that nation, it could be a little easier on one, tougher on the other. don't you think we should have sanctions that say if you do this to us and it's confirmed and state sponsored by you, whether it be financially,
economically, whatever it might be, these sanctions will go into effect immediately? >> i'm going to defer on the policy question today. i'll make sure you have all the information you need to form good judgments. thank you, senator manchin. >> sarnenator cotton. >> mike, welcome before the committee and congratulations on your nomination. susan and nick, good to see you again. i know you're very proud of mike. as we all are. this has been a very thorough hearing. we've spent lord knows how many hours at the agency and traveling around the world. so a good sense of your views on these questions. therefore, i'll reserve the rest of my questions in a closed hearing where we can have a little more frank discussion since senator mccain attacked your education, i'll stand up for our army background. i will say i'm troubled by the material found in your biography that you came in first in your class at west point at chose
armor versus infantry. i will see you this afternoon. >> thank you, senator cotton. >> i'm glad to see, mike, that you haven't forgotten where the razor is like some army veterans. >> i'm preparing to deploy covertly. >> senator harris? >> representative pompeo, glad to meet with you earlier this week. congratulations on your nomination. for clarification, have you read in its entirety the ic report assessing russian activities and intentions in recent u.s. elections? >> i have. >> and do you fully accept its findings, yes or no? >> i've seen nothing to cast any doubt on the findings in the report. >> and your voting record and stated position on gay marriage and the importance of having a traditional family structure for raising children is pretty clear. i disagree withi your position but you are entitled to your opinion.
i don't want that, however, to impact your opinion on that matter. the recruitment or retention of patriotic lgbt men and women in the cia, some of whom have taken great risks to their lives for our country. can you commit to me that your personal views on this issue will remain your personal views and will not impact internal policies that you put in place at the cia? >> senator harris, you have my full commitment to that. i would only add that in my life as a private businessman, this same set of issues was out there. i had my views at that time as well. and i treated each and every member of the workforce that i was responsible for at those times with the dignity and respect and demanded of them the same things i demanded of every other person that was working as part of my team. >> and do i have your assurance that this equal treatment will include policies related to child care services, family benefits and accompanied post for dependents?
>> without knowing the full set of policies and benefits at the central intelligence agency, i haven't had a chance to find that out just yet, you have my assurance that every employee will be treated in a way that is appropriate and equal. >> and that you will not put in place any policies that would discriminate against any members because of their sexual orientation? >> ma'am, i can't imagine putting in place any policy that waskrim na tcriminatory with re to any employee. >> also rhetoric regarding muslims from high-profile members of the incoming administration, in particular, michael flynn who i imagine you'll be working closely with. i don't want that to impact recruitment of the important muslim men and women of the cia, some, of course, who have taken great risks to serve our country. can you commit to me that you will be a tireless advocate for all members of the cia? all of the workforce? >> yes, ma'am. >> cia director brennan who
spent 25-year career at the cia as an analyst, senior manager and station chief in the field has said that when, quote, cia analysts look for deeper causes of rising instability in the world, one of the causes those cia analysts see as the -- is the impact of climate change. do you have any reason to doubt the assessment of these cia analysts? >> senator harris, i haven't had a chance to read those materials with respect to climate change. i do know the agency's role there. its role is to collect foreign intelligence, to understand threats to the world. that would certainly include threats from poor governance, regional instability, threats from all sources and deliver that information to policymakers. and to the extent the changes in c climatic activity are part of that, we'll deliver that information to you all and to the president. >> in the past you have
questioned the scientific consensus on climate change. nevertheless, according to nasa, multiple studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals showed 97% or more of actively published climate scientists agree that climate warning trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. in addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. do you have any reason to doubt nasa's findings? >> senator, i've actually spoken to this in my political life some. my commentary, most all has been directed to ensuring the policies that america put in place actually achieve the objective of ensuring we didn't have catastrophic harm that resulted from changing climate. i continue to hold that view. i, frankly, as the director of cia, would prefer today not to get into the details of climate debate and science. it seems -- my role is going to
be so different and unique from that. it is going to be to work alongside warriors keeping americans safe and so i stand by the things i've said previously with respect to that issue. >> so i'm not clear. do you believe that nasa's findings are debatable? >> i haven't spent enough time to tell you that i've looked at nasa's findings in particular. i can't give you any judgment about that today. >> can you guarantee me that you will and we'll have a follow-up conversation on this. >> i'm happy to continue to talk about it, yes, ma'am, of course. >> senator cornyn. >> congratulations, congressman pompeo on your nomination and your family. i know they're very proud of you. and i have every confidence that you will do an outstanding job as the next director of the cia. i want to ask you about the comments that were made by the fbi director back in may 2016 when he identified what he call the ferguson effect on law enforcement and hang in there with me. let me make the application to
this context. basically, the argument was that law enforcement was being self-restrained in terms of its policing activities, plus exposing law enforcement to assaults and many of which were deadly assaults. and the public safety was not being enhanced because they were not using the full array of their authorities for fear of what might happen in terms of public opinion or political retribution. i have read your predecessor's, general michael hayden's book "playing to the edge" and it strikes me that he states the proposition well in terms of my view about what our intelligence authorities ought to do in collecting intelligence and protecting the safety and security of the united states. i don't want our intelligence
officers and authorities to restrain their activities for fear of political retribution or for fear of -- that they will be criticized for using the lawful authorities granted by the united states government to the edge. not going over the edge but i want to make sure they take full use of those lawful authorities. i know that one of the conundrums that we have in a democracy is when we start talking about what those authorities are and what they should be. there's a natural reticence to do so. because, course in russia and other places they don't have those things. they do what they want to do without regard to any oversight, any laws, any constitution that necessarily and importantly
limits what we can do in a democracy. but i think there is a danger when we start talking about the role of our intelligence agencies that either wittingly or unwittingly sometimes misinformation or disinformation about the nature of the activity and nature of the authorities enters into the debate in a way that eventually damages or limits our ability to play to the edge of our lawful authorities and the interest of our security and safety. i just want to get an idea from you about what you think the director's role is in terms of engaging in the debate. when it comes to what authorities that either your agency or the fbi or other members of the intelligence community need. there was a question about meta data which, of course, meta data is not content.
the united states supreme court has said there's no reasonable expectation of privacy so the fourth amendment isn't implicated. this is information that's routinely collected by law enforcement agencies, but my concern is, and maybe i'm not being as direct and clear as i should, i want to know what you think your role will be in terms of standing up and defending the lawful authorities of the intelligence community in order to play to the edge of that legal authority in the interest of the safety and security of the american people. >> senator, thank you for that question. it's a great and incredibly important question. i share your concerns that we run the risk of not using the authorities in a way that's important to keeping america safe. if folks are afraid that there will be political retribution. one of my tasks in that vain will be to make insure that we're doing it right. that we are doing it in a legal
and constitutional way. and then when we are, to defend the people who were doing that vigorously with all my might to have their backs at every moment. you have my word i will do that. there's a second piece to this as well, i think, that's important and you hit upon it which is we have an obligation as leaders to share with the american people all that we can about what's going on and what's not going on and to do so in a truthful and complete manner. it's part of why the oversight function is so important to the extent we're surprising people whether we're surprising members of congress or we're surprising the public, we run the risk of losing those very important authorities. so i think each of us has a responsibility. if confirmed as the director of the cia, i'll see it as my responsibility to do everything i can to milwaukake sure we're g about the critical nature of these authorities and how they keep americans safe and the goals that they have accomplished in this good work in a way that permits the intelligence community to lawfully and constitutionally do
all of its responsibilities. >> mr. chairman, can i follow up just briefly with one last question. >> senator, you can. >> of course, none of those authorities are going to be decided in all likelihood by the supreme court of the united states. in other words, the office of legal counsel, the appropriate authorities at the department of justice are going to give guidance to the cia and intelligence community on what those -- where that line is. so you can consistent with your commitment make sure that you apply the law that congress has passed and is signed by the president. but ultimately, no one is ever going to give you 100% assurance that you are playing consistent with those laws as interpreted by the department of justice, the office of legal counsel, won't be criticized in a political format later on in such a way as to cause retaliation perhaps or some concern that intelligence
officers are going to jeopardize their career and their families' livelihood by playing consistent with the best and highest legal guidance they are given. how do you view that role and maybe that's just inherent in the nature of our system. but it always strikes me as a tremendous disservice to our men and women in the intelligence field for politics to intervene and come back and undermine the lawful authorities and direction that our intelligence community has given when they are conducting their activities. >> senator, it's a real risk. it's an important part of my role to make sure that we have clarity. that those lines you talk about are clear and bright and so that this risk you refer to. i've heard others talk about it as second-guessing is minimized, happens as rarely as possible and that there aren't surprises to people as they go through. that's incredibly important and the director of the cia has an
important role making sure we're behaving lawfully and asking the men and women we're asking to do hard thing inside of those laws. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the chair will recognize senator warner for a brief statement and then senator wyden for one question. >> i just -- understand what my friend the senator from texas has been saying, but i want to -- ten of the comments i just wanted to respond, put on the record. one of the things that's impressed me with you, congressman in our meetings is your thoughtfulness and i think you are a student of history as well. and we've talked about that. and i think part of the responsibility of the agency that you may head is unique in that it is tasked with taking on covert activities and relies in many ways upon the oversight of
this committee and, frankly, the trust of the american public to not go over the edge. and i think there have been times and we can debate those, times where clearly in history of the agency there have been examples where, whether it was through political pressure or otherwise, the agency went over the edge and, unfortunately, in the end, did not make america safer. i'd also say that in many of these areas, whether it's through changes of technology, and i know there's a robust debate around encryption and privacy in the digital age, that edge is not defined yet, both in a legal standpoint and many times, congress has not done its job in terms of giving those policy guidances. so i want you and hope that you will carry out your duties and keep america safe. but i think we get into
treacherous area when we're trying to push over an edge where those edges are not defined or congress has not done its job. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman, thank you. congressman, during the campaign, the president-elect essentially laid out something that looks to me like outsourcing surveillance. he says about russian hacking, i'd love to have that power. and he encouraged the russians to hack secretary clinton's e-mails and suggested they be provided to the press. but we're now in a difference period. the president-elect. and it's one thing to talk as we did earlier, with respect to your idea for collecting meta data in the future, all meta data, in your words. but i want to ask you about outsourced surveillance. if a foreign government, an organization, a company or an individual provided the agency with the communications of
americans on whom there were no warrants, what would your response be? >> senator, that's a complex question that you've asked. i understand that there are policies in place, i believe at the agency. may even be at the department of justice with respect to this very issue. if i can step back and tell you that, look, it is not lawful to outsource that which we cannot do under -- that the agency cannot do under its laws. >> that's not the question. you can't request the information from foreign government. we understand that. but the question is, what happens if it's provided to you, especially since it's being encouraged? >> senator, my understanding is that the same set of rules that surround the information, if it were collected by the u.s. government, apply to information that becomes available as a result of collection from non-u.s. sources as well. >> mr. chairman, your courtesy has been appreciated. i would only ask, in writing,
i'd like your response on that. obviously, part of this involves minimization. there are other issues, 12-333 and i'd also like in writing what limits you would have on your meta data proposal since you are advocating it applied to personal lifestyle information. thank you, mr. chairman. >> it was the hope of the chair that we would allow the congressman an hour in between this and the closed session. we're down to 30 minutes. i'm going to recognize sarenato harris for a very brief question and if there are any additional follow-ups they be moved to the closed session. >> sure. mr. pompeo, on the issue of climate change, i understand you aren't a scientist. what i'd like to know and what i want to hear from you is, i want a cia director who is willing to accept the overwhelming weight of evidence when presented, even if it turns out to be politically inconvenient or require you to change a previ s previously held position. so what i want to hear from you
is a guarantee that when presented with that evidence, you are willing to then take a position that defers to the weight of that evidence, even if it requires you to change a previously held position that may have been politically helpful to you or a position that you have taken during your tenure in elected office. >> senator, you have my commitment to that. i'm an engineer by training. facts and data matter, and you have my assurance if i'm confirmed in my role as cia director, i will look at the evidence and give a straight-up answer to you and all the policymakers to whom i have a responsibility. >> thank you. >> congressman pompeo, this brings to a close the open session of this hearing. let me add to senator corn be and senator warren spoke on. every president has the authority to provide direction or directives and that has
certainly been the case for every president i've been involved with in the intelligence community. and that expands or contracts in some cases the ability of the agency. and all members of this committee should realize that. i want to apologize for not giving you the hour and apologize for the power interruption. but i want to thank you for your service to kansas. i want to thank you for your service to the congress. i want to thank you for your service to the country. as a board member of west point, as you have served, like i have in the past, i want to thank you for how you have used your military education. and, more importantly, how that's highlighted the greatness of the institution and the role it plays in developing future leaders of the country of which you exemplify that. for that, we are grateful. >> thank you senator warner.
>> you have been watching the confirmation hearings of president-elect donald trump's nominees for the cia and the defense department. and as we learned more about where trump's picks stands on all the critically important issues, one thing became very, very clear over the past few hours. these men, along with the attorney general nominee jeff sessions, they have sharp differences with the president-elect on various topics, including russia, iran, torture and more. here's just a portion of what president-elect trump's nominees had to say. >> it is an imperfect arms control agreement. it's not a friendship treaty. but when america gives her word, we have to live up to it, and work with our allies. >> with respect to iran. we must be rigorously objective in assessing the progress made under the joint comprehensive plan of action. while i oppose the iran deal as a member of congress, if confirmed my role will change. >> we have a long list of times
we've tried to engage positively with russia. we have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. and i think right now, the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with with mr. putin. and we recognize that he is trying to break the north atlantic alliance. >> it's pretty clear about what took place here. about russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have anm pact on american democracy. i am very clear about what that intelligence report says. >> my view is that nations with allies thrive and nations without allies don't. and so i would see us maintaining the strongest possible relationship with nato. i have had discussions with him on this issue. he has shown himself open. even to the point of asking more questions, going deeper into the issue, about why i feel so strongly. and he understands where i stand. i can tell you in my many years
of involvement in the military, i had a close relationship with the intelligence community. i could evaluate their effectiveness at times on a daily basis. and i have very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community. >> if you were ordered by the president to restart the cia's use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the army field manual, would you comply? >> senator, absolutely not. >> congress has taken an action now that makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding or any other form of torture in the united states by our military and by all our other departments and agencies. >> very strong statements coming up from three of president trump's nominees for critically important positions in the cabinet. we've got an excellent panel here to assess what we've just
heard. dana, let me start with you. these three men had no problem making it clear they disagree with the stated views of the president-elect as he stated them throughout the many months of this campaign. some of these very, very sensitive issues, the iran nuclear deal, the use of torture, other specific issues. >> nato, russia, hacking, which obviously is very much in the news now but also more importantly, how to deal with vladimir putin and whether he's a friend or foe or frenemy or something in between. the fact we heard particularly early this morning from general mattis so forthrightly and almost eagerly saying that he has no problem differing -- same with mike pompeo, no problem differing with the president-elect. tells you a lot about why they are getting the reception they're getting. it would nobt surprit be surpri see an overwhelming vote for general mattis.
republicans and democrats alike. lot of reasons but one main reason, a week from tomorrow, donald trump is going to raise his hand back there and he's going to become the 45th president. and they know that's the reality. therefore, they want somebody like general mattis who clearly is not only very well respected, very well regarded but a -- somebody who is a strong personality to be at the president's side in the defense department, to help guide him. and that is really something that we've seen similarities with a lot of these nominees. mattis, even tillerson, assuming he gets through and also pompeo. they are strong individuals who can help shape the policy and make clear that they do differ with him and will differ with him and probably, let's be honest, will guide the policy the way they see it as oppose the way the president-elect talked about it on the campaign trail. >> john king? >> this is the paradox of the trump transition and maybe the trump presidency where you have senior people in important
positions. i'd add general kelly who questioned the effectiveness of a wall and talked about, there are other ways to do this or other ways to secure the border. to dana's point, it's striking how even democrats who will vote against some of these gentlemen believe they'll be confirmed. both republicans and democrats in private conversations because so many have disagreed fundamentally with the things the president-elect said during the election. he may have changed his mind on some of these subjects as he meets more people and gets more fully briefed. let's see what he says once, a week from now, he becomes president. some will cast no votes against these nominees because they believe they may disgre on some policies or this may be a more conservative cabinet but they believe they are educated, informed, open-minded grown-ups and to be frankly honest, even a lot of the republicans don't view the president-elect that way. >> doesn't this make you question whether campaigns matter at all?
when you look at the statements from these men today, down the line, they seem to be disagreeing with the president of the united states, soon to be president, on almost every single issue. it particularly including putin. pompeo made it very clear that he believes that the hacking done by the russians went to what he called the senior leadership. >> aggressive action taken by the senior leadership. >> exactly. and pompeo had to say, in order to calm the people over at langley that he is confident that the new president will respect the work that is done there. and he said he will obey the law on torture and mattis said he will honor the iran deal, although, obviously, both of these men have questions about it. pompeo voted against it. and mattis said that nato is the most successful alliance in modern history. so the question is, will push
come to shove where the president says, this is my gut, and i disagree with you and this is what i campaigned on? or, as you suggest, john, will they be able to help shape the president into what they believe because of their experience? >> we're going to know very quickly, right? these are not just rhetorical differences with the president-elect. they are substantive differences and they have decisions. some of them immediate decisions attached to them. you talk about russia. there's going to be an immediate or very soon decision on whether to impose new sanctions on russia for hacking. does the president go along with that decision? not just the talk. the decision. on nato, there's a proposal about a permanent nato base in the baltic states, right on the front lines with russia. does the president go along with that decision to send u.s. forces into harm's way? he's going to be tested. so does he go along with them? we don't know who is going to prevail. the other thing which i find remarkable, every single national security nominee for
the president-elect has been asked repeatedly by democratic and republican senators whether they respect the u.s. intelligence community. you have democratic and republican senators looking for reassurance that they respect the u.s. intelligence community because the president-elect repeatedly has called that into question. it's fairly remarkable that every nominee has to -- you would think that would be a boiler pleat. i'm proud to be here and respect you and i am happy to be a part of this great team. no, they are asked because the president-elect has repeatedly said, i don't trust them. >> it's critically important to note on some of these very sensitive issues where the president-elect was extremely forceful in rejecting, for example, the iran nuclear deal saying it's the worst deal ever and he would rip it up, get rid of it right away. general mattis, former head of the u.s. military central command which is in charge of the entire middle eastern region. it's an um perfect arms control agreement, not a friendship treaty. but when america gives its word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.
that agreement was worked out with britain and france and germany and russia and china for that matter as well. >> laura, the president has already decided or at least in his public comments to go forward with an issue that one of his nominees, disagrees with on the wall, right? his wall for -- his nominee for dhs, general kelly, says no need. trump the day before, i'm going to build it. mexico is going to pay for it, eventually. >> you know, i want to bring in some of our more partisan analysts as well. are you impressed the president-elect has surrounded himself in these key national security positions with forceful, in this particular case, men who are willing to stand up and disagree with him publicly during their confirmation process? what does it say about the confidence of the president-elect of the united states? he's willing to bring in these kinds of strong, forceful
leaders? >> kind of so -- i'm actually surprised and glad about a lot of the things i heard today. but it makes me wonder if donald trump knew the extent of the positions of the folks he put up there. donald trump during a republican debate, he defended torture and advocated for going farther than waterboarding. you have mike pompeo saying under no circumstances would i allow that to happen. so i am optimistic. i definitely think, though, from general mattis all the way down to pompeo and general kelly, folks have to not just say but be able to demonstrate and actively show they are willing to stand up to the president-elect when push comes to shove. >> are they doing that today? >> i think clearly, there is this opportunity today to show where there is some daylight between a lot of these cabinet posts and these high-ranking officials and donald trump. i think the biggest contrast as jim mentioned is updying support for our intelligence agencies. and that is critical given all that's been going on recently. they really doubled down on their support for the intelligence agencies.
and what i think also is important, mattis today was quite clear and unequivocal in that he has every assurance that donald trump will listen to him when it comes to his opinion on these issues. and he will not hesitate to say something that donald trump may not want to hear. he's not going to get caught up in the politics of it. he's a strong advocate for the military. what the military needs, making us -- about continuing to be the strongest military force in the world. he's not going to worry about hurting donald trump's feelings. and that is critical for all of these appointments moving forward. >> cedric, you are a military man. at least you retired. and it's important to recall, as i'm sure you do, that general mattis when head of the central command, he would often say, he worries number one about iran, number two about iran, number three about iran. he was very, very tough on iran as the head of the u.s. military's central command. he saw iran as the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism. the state department still regards iran as the number one
state sponsor of terrorism. but today you heard him say, you know what? there's a deal. you got to live with it. the u.s. made commitments to allies. >> there's also a different role he's playing now, wolf. and the big difference is this. he is now going to be as secretary of defense a diplomat as well as a leader of the largest military force that we have. n so when you look at that and you look at -- when he was the boss of central command, his main focus had to be oiran. that was enemy number one whether we said that officially or not. right now he also is charged with not only implementing the agreement with iran but he's also there with enforcing it from a verification standpoint because a lot of the department of defense assets that will be used in this case are going to be his assets. and so he has to keep enough of an open mind to see whether or not this is actually -- >> dana, no surprise but the senate armed services committee has just voted to grant the waiver so general mattis who has been out of the military for three years can in fact become a
civilian leader of the u.s. department of defense. >> the law says he -- >> the law says he has to be out for seven years before he can do that. unless there's a waiver. he has now received that waive are. at least from the armed services committee of the senate. >> right. i don't know the exact vote count but a lot of democrats said they were going to support it. to follow up on what you were saying, i think that beyond the specifics to go back also to gloria, the do campaigns matter? the one thing that is surprising is that big picture, donald trump's rhetoric was very nationalistic. we're going to sort of receive from the world a little bit and focus more on america and if it means a choice between that and an alliance or even a treaty. and general mattis made very, very clear, that's not his position. his position is alliances matter. that because he is an historian and a scholar in his experience,
democracies and countries only succeed if they have alliances that work. and that's why he was so forward leaning on nato and others. and that in and of itself as a fundamental principle, guiding principle, is so difference from the rhetoric we heard from donald trump. >> and the questioners on both sides went out of their way not to say, do you disagree with the president-elect on x, y or z? they didn't sort of go there. they just asked them specifically about those issues. when we think in the lincoln terms of team of rivals, this is -- this is the rival could be the president. this is what's so strange and interesting about this. and it may be, to give donald trump some credit here, it may be his way of saying, these people know a lot. i picked them because they know a lot. and i am going to be willing to listen to them. i guarantee you that in their interviews with the president-elect, somebody as
strong as a mattis or pompeo or a sessions, who have reputations that proceed them for quite some time, would say the president-elect, i disagree with you, and would you listen to me? and i'm hoping the answer was yes. >> he does listen to these -- especially the generals because even after he was elected president of the united states, he had a private conversation with general mattis on waterboarding, on torture and general mattis said, you know, my experience, mr. president-elect, you can get a lot more done with a pack of cigarettes than you can with waterboarding. and that seemed to have had an impact on him. >> to gloria's point, some have mocked the president because he comes out of hollywood and was on the "celebrity apprentice" and "apprentice" that he's looking for a celebrity cast. he's looking to play the part. if we are getting a team of very talented people open to having a big debate and the president who
happens to look the part, sure. but he wants an all-star cabinet and they have healthy debates and the president makes a decision, good for him. one of the question marks, and what's interesting because we heard congressman pompeo said, i talked to the president-elect. i would not have taken this job if i couldn't tell him the unvarnished truth. what we haven't heard and the nominee for state rex tillerson said he has not talked about these things since taking the job with the president-elect. the inauguration is a week away. to jim's point, north korea could roll a missile out on the platform on day one, two, or three. the fact we don't hear, i just talked about this with the president-elect yesterday. we've been having mock cabinet meetings. that part is a little troubling because they start governing in a week. >> to be fair, donald trump would not be the first president of any party to make promises on the campaign trail or enter the white house with a world view that has changed by events. george w. bush, end of nation building. 9/11 happens. you start two of the longest wars.
barack obama, i'm going to understand these wars. leaves office with those two longest wars and expanding, frankly. >> bill clinton wouldn't deal with the butchers in beijing. did. and the dictator in damascus. the old assad at that point. >> all right. everybody stand by. there's a lot happening behind us up on capitol hill. including dr. ben carson, the president-elect's form eer riva. his pick to become the next secretary of housing and urban development. we're going to hear what he had to say. our special cnn coverage continues right after a quick break. fit me matte + poreless foundation make fit happen! from maybelline new york. beyond matching skin tone... fits skin's texture. blurs pores. controls shine. our most natural look... now, in more shades than ever! maybelline's fit me make it happen maybelline new york.
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development. he pushed back on concerns about his lack of government experience. he fielded questions about his strong stances against government overreach. >> my concern is whether or not among the billions of dollars that you will be responsible for handing out in grants and loans. can you just assure us that not one dollar will go to benefit either the president-elect or his family? >> it will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any american. >> i understand that. >> it's for all americans, everything that we do. >> but do i take that to mean that you may manage programs that will signif capitally benefit the president-elect? >> you can take it to mean that i will manage things in a way that benefits the american people. that is going to be the goal. >> to the best you understand that --
>> if there happens to be an extraordinarily good program that's working for millions of people and it turns out that someone that you are targeting is going to gain, you know, $10 from it, am i going to say, no, the rest of you americans can't have it? i think logic and common sense would probably be the best way. >> although we do have a problem here, and i appreciate your good faith in this, and i do, dr. carson. the problem is that you can't assure us that hud money, not a $10 varieties but of multimillion-dollar varieties will not end up in president-elect's pockets. and the reason you can't assure us of that is because the president-elect is hiding his family's business interests from you, from me, from the rest of america. >> tough exchange there with the senator elizabeth warren and dr. ben carson.
dr. carson never lived in public housing, he did begin his testimony by highlighting his impoverished childhood in inner city detroit where he was raised by a single mother. let's get back to the panel. is he going to have a serious problem getting confirmed by that, first of all, that senate committee? >> i don't know if serious problem yet. i think this is one of the instances where the hearing actually really does matter. they really want to hear what he has to say. not just on issues like senator warren was pushing him on, conflicts of interest which probably have throws less to do him and more the way his boss is or is not separating his businesses from his role as president. but the bigger question when it comes to ben carson is his experience and ability to run a big agency. you know, he is a renowned neurosurgeon, and he, you know, everybody should give him credit for that. but the fact of the matter is that he doesn't have experience with what -- at all, with what
he's being asked to do. >> i want to go back to the congress right now. some senate democrats are speaking out against the nomination of senator jeff sessions to become the attorney general of the united states. there is senator bloomenthal of connecticut. let's listen in. >> for civil rights and liberties. a zealous advocate and legal conscience for the nation in protecting those rights and liberties. senator sessions said he'd follow the law but the attorney general of the united states has to be more than a follower. he needs to be a leader. and his advocacy needs to move the nation forward in the active pursuit of justice. and that is equal justice under law. i know something about the position of attorney general because i served as the united
states attorney in connecticut for 4 1/2 years. the chief federal prosecutor in the department of justice for our state. and i served for 20 years as our state's attorney general litigating alongside and in opposition to the department of justice. and i feel especially strongly about this office. it is not just another government lawyer. it is not just another cabinet secretary. it is the nation's lawyer and legal conscience, especially when it comes to protecting civil rights and civil liberties. senator sessions has failed to demonstrate that he will be that vigorous, zealous advocate in protecting civil rights and liberties. he has demonstrated hostility
and antipathy, even outright opposition to voting rights, women's health care and privacy rights, religious freedom rights. he has staunchly opposed immigration reform and criminal justice reform that implicate constitutional values and civil rights. and he has opposed hate crimes legislation. the violence against women act. a number of measures that helped to guarantee and protect civil rights in america today. this point is especially important because those rights are increasingly threatened. not just from outside this country but from forces within it. and the attorney general needs to be a public official who will speak truth to power and provide
an independent voice assuring that the president of the united states is never above the law. he must speak truth to power and tell the president what he cannot do. senator sessions has failed to demonstrate that he will provide that independent voice and assure that the president of the united states completely adheres to the law when it comes to conflicts of interest or controversies and we are encountering an administration that seems to be prone to those conflicts of interest in unprecedented scope and scale. on voting rights, senator sessions set about shelby county versus holder that it was good news, even though it gutted an essential enforcement provision of the voting rights act.
when 250,000 citizens in his state were denied photo identifications necessary to vote because department of motor vehicles offices were closed, he did nothing. in effect, no comment. his antipathy and hostility to that vigorous advocacy as a champion, not a bystander, not a passive follower of the law, but as a zealous advocate is lacking. and that is one of the key reasons that lack of commitment, iron clad commitment to civil rights is one of the reasons i have said that i will oppose his nomination. and i want to introduce now senator -- to be followed by
senator duckworth and senator matthews. >> thank you, senator blumenthal and aloha to all of you. i served with senator jeff sessions throughout my time in the senate, and i respect him as a colleague. but i have deep concerns about how senator sessions would use his prosecutorial discretion as attorney general to address a number of critical issues. during his confirmation hearing, i pressed senator sessions for a commitment to vigorously protect every citizen's right to vote, particularly with regard to section 2 of the voting rights act, which safeguards americans from discriminatory voting laws. he did not give me a satisfactory answer that he would scrutinize states voting laws for discriminatory effect. i also asked senator sessions whether he would