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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  December 15, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST

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election. kids' table. new questions about the trump children's potential white house roles after theyook part in that tech summit yesterday. >> but the president does have discretion to choose a staff of his liking. and so if that actually is tree and that legal advice holds, then that will open up a realm of possibility. and escaping the ravages of aleppo. some of the sick and wounded are fleeing. for those still trapped, the fight is far from over. coming up, we'll have my exclusive interview with deputy national security adviser ben rhodes on the future of the obama/cuba policy. a lot more. stay with us. and good day, i'm andrea mitchell in new york. nbc news has learned vladimir putin was directly involved in the hacking of largely
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democratic targets and the transmission of that stolen material to wikileaks. that's what we know so far. u.s. intelligence officials now believe with a high level of confidence that putin became personally involved in the campaign to interfere with our presidential election. two senior officials telling nbc news that new intelligence shows mr. putin personally directed how that hacked material from democrats was leaked. and sources believe it all started as a vendetta against clinton, tracing back to comments the former secretary of state made about russian elections five years ago. president-elect trump already on the record calling the cia assessment of russian hacking ridiculous and he cast more doubt this morning in a tweet saying, if russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the white house wait so long to act? why do they only complain after hillary lost? joining me now is nbc news national correspondent peter alexander, "new york times" political reporter, and ken
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delaney and in moscow, nbc news foreign correspondent richard engel. peter, first to you, because donald trump's reaction has been spotlighted here. we know it's been reported nbc news exclusively now linking putin to this. the fact is, donald trump was saying during the election contest, you know, the election's being rigged. they seem to be focusing, and they did again in their conference call with you today, with you and other reporters, that this is an attempt to delegitimize the election. we're not talking about the results. we're talking about the attempt. >> that was their exact language. they said, we're not even going to discuss this conversation you and the media are pressing forward, saying this is an effort to delegitimize the election. they say we are moving forward to other things. what was notable is we heard from a trump transition official last night, who basically said, we don't dispute this is the finding right now. we're upset about it. and he indicated he thought donald trump was trying to digest the intelligence right now, which may note a shift, at
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least in terms of his position, his thoughts on this. i asked them specifically. he said, you know, why didn't the white house do more about this or act on it. we asked what they would do to act on this if they determined this hacking -- the information, the intelligence to be true. they didn't have any answer to that. more broadly, it does pose a real challenge for donald trump going forward, when you get this intelligence, this is what it says, what are you going to do about it? >> and then the question that the obama white house is going to do something about it between now and january 20th. >> correct. >> a lot of focus on why president obama didn't react more aggressively at the time. they knew about it. they knew about it and announced it from the intelligence community in a two-line sentence on october 7th, before the election. a month before the election. yet when north korea hacked sony the president went on camera and pledged countermeasures. they say he was reluctant to act because he didn't want to be
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accused of political sizing the cia. >> now he's being accused of that same thing by trump. a lot were upset media wasn't focusing more on hacked documents. i think the white house expected more buy-in from republicans in congress. you recall they went to congress, tried to have a united front and got rebuffed. >> by mcconnell, the house leader. >> exactly. >> i was talking to dianne feinstein on this show yesterday. they've been briefed continuously on this. she has to be careful what she says publicly. but read between the lines, this is the question and the answer at noon yesterday. >> there's a lot of public reporting the fsb and gru, two separate -- one military, one nonmilitary, supposedly, from russia were both involved. you have a former kgb/fsb intelligence officer in vladimir putin.
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is it -- is it credible that anything of this nature could have happened without him knowing? >> i'll say this, it is very credible at this point in time. without him knowing, i doubt it. >> making it really very clear. now, in moscow, we've got richard engel. richard, from all of your reporting, fascinating over the last few days, they're celebrating donald trump's election in moscow. >> oh, they are absolutely celebrating this. if you remember just before the elections, this country was putting itself on war footing. people in russia were being told they needed to brace for a potential conflict. many in this country, the official estimates by the kremlin, i'm told, were predicting hillary clinton was going to win and this country was preparing for a serious confrontation. that may have been hyperbole but that was the mood in this
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country. now there's an atmosphere of celebration. people here think they could have a new start with trump, that it's going to be an era of business, that the u.s. is not going to be lecturing russia about its military moves in areas that were once part of the soviet union, areas like crimea or eastern ukraine. so, they are very happy with trump and they were even happier with the nomination or the expected appointment, i guess, of the exxonmobil chief to be secretary of state. so, right now here in moscow, some are calling trump and his new cabinet a dream team. >> a dream team from russia. that might make for a difficult confirmation for rex tillerson, the ex-exxonmobil ceo. ken, you did a lot of the reporting on this. how firm is u.s. intelligence
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that putin himself was involved? >> well, there's a lot we don't know about the intelligence on this for good reason because it involves sensitive sources and methods. when they say something with high confidence, that's about as solid a judgment they can render. it suggests they have very good sourcing. we understand it involves human sourcing from liaison sources and diplomatic sources on putin's involvement and what they believe is putin was helping direct how the hacked material was used, which is pretty remarkable. >> remarkable, indeed. you also have a lot of reporting on michael flynn, the national security add adviser. he's not a confirmable post so he's in, and the controversy involving his past, why he left the defense intelligence agency and reportedly he has a lot of bitterness over being kicked out of dia by the obama administration. tell me what you've been reporting on. >> that's fair. i was speaking to someone about this today who was on the inside
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with flynn at dia. he was very angry. he felt he was trying to make change at defense organization and reorganized it and he was done in by entrenched bureaucrats. the other side of the story is he was a bit of a chaotic manager and didn't execute the change he was proposing very well. and there are these things called flynn facts that apparently staff members at dia had to go around and check some statements he was making that didn't add up. the other thing we've been reporting on is the investigation where he was found by military to have inappropriately shared classified information in afghanistan with british and -- he says it was british and australian allies. no disciplinary was taken and he was promoted after that investigation. it was noteworthy he was found to have shared classified information. >> the other controversy today that was a matter of your telephone conversation with officials jason miller and i think sean spicer was on that
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call as well, is whether the adult children should have been at the table at the tech summit. according to our legal experts and our own colleague, pete williams, they are correct that if they are in advisory roles in the office of the president in the white house, not in a cabinet agency, there's precedent, legal precedent, it's never been tested up to the supreme court, but there's legal precedent they can, without pay, obtain team. >> the bottom line, transition official intimately familiar with this and the legal process that's taking place to try to separate donald trump from his business interests, says their understanding of this anti-nepotism law there is this exception. they wrote, the president has absolute and total discretion who works for him in the west wing. there were five trumps at the table of yesterday out of 25. what was striking about this was the fact that today was the day that donald trump was supposed to announce his plans to
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separate himself from his business interest. as he sat in that meeting, two of the individuals who were there were his adult sons who he wrote in that tweet just days ago will be taking over the reins of his businesses going forward. so, obviously, the conflict, the appearance of conflict of interest that exists, is they're there, having these private conversations with people he's discussing to have some involvement and helping him as he builds his administration are so active in that conversation, but the campaign -- we should say, theransition now says, there's another sneaky, nothing nefarious. we even have a camera in trump tower. you get to see everybody going up the elevators. we got a sense that a lot of people will be asking questions about exactly what this role will look like. >> that brings me to directly what jared kushner's role may or may not be but it's been reported by "the new york times" that he's one of the advocates for john bell tolton as secreta
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state. there's a lot of controversy because we know condoleeza rice and bob gates and others who have talked to mr. trump are saying, do not do john bolton as secretary of state. he's too much of a lightning rod. they battled with him in the george w. bush white house and that administration. what do we know about what's going to happen and whether rex tillerson will have the say over who's going to be his deputy? or are they going to put somebody in there to watch him or to be running the state department? >> there's a contention of donors and others who want a hawk on iran, a critic of the iran deal, in that post. remember, it's an operational post. a day-to-day management. it's confirmable as well. i think for rex tillerson it's difficult to say, if you have a deputy who is against you on these various issues or is over -- he's running his department day to day and knows it better than you do, that's problematic for tillerson. i'm sure he's trying to get some say over this appointment. some are pushing for tillerson
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because they want his views represented there. >> rex tillerson, it's difficult to overstate just how difficult his role is with vladimir putin. his defenders, advocates say that -- i mean, you talk to jim baker, we'll play that in a little bit, that in -- as secretary of state, he would number a completely different role. he would not be the oil executive who does the biggest deals ever with vladimir putin. and oppose the sanctions on russia that came after its takeover in ukraine. richard? >> reporter: well, it's been widely reported that rex tillerson won this medal of friendship from russia, which is the highest honor that civilians, foreign civilians, can be -- foreigners can be given by this country. and it was because he was willing to reach out to a russian state-backed company, the russian oil company, resneft, which had a bad reputation in certain circles in
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russia and abroad, as having been cobbled together from stolen assets, from the dismantled company ucos. when exxonmobil reached out and put aside the criticism that was facing this company rosneft that it was effectively cobble together with stolen assets and made an enormous deal to explore and drill for oil in the arctic, that it was such a moment for russia of coming out of the cold, of re-establishing a relationship with a major international oil company that russia, particularly vladimir putin, were deeply appreciative. that deal that was signed between resneft and exxonmobil potentially worked hundreds of billions of dollars is on hold because of current sanctions. sanctions that the future secretary of state would certainly be in a position to lobby for their lifting. >> richard engel, nick, ken, and, of course, peter alexander
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here, thank you all so very much for getting us off to a big start today. coming up, putin's revenge. tracing the russian president's vendetta against hillary clinton. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc, the place for politics. they are the natural born enemy of the way things are. yes, ideas are scary, and messy and fragile. but under the proper care, they become something beautiful. ♪ everything your family touches sticks with them. make sure the germs they bring home don't stick around. use clorox disinfecting products. because no one kills germs better than clorox.
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military community by the end of 2017. i'm very proud of him. male vo: comcast. so, why was hillary clinton on vladimir putin's so-called hit list? one official says it started when clinton criticized russia's parliamentary elections back in 2011. >> we do have serious concerns about the conduct of the elections. we think that the preliminary report just issued by the osce, international mission, raised a number of questions about the conduct of the elections. >> so, joining me now is ambassador james jeffrey, former ambassador to iraq and turkey,
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former national security adviser. thank you for being with us, ambassador. let's talk about putvladimir pu and what could have motivated putin to take such aggressive action. two spy agencies starting in 2015, then 2016 the fsb and the gru, then both going after democratic national committee material, and then specific material to john podesta in the clinton campaign, and then the putin decision, which was the most aggressive decision, to turn it over to wikileaks and put it all over there. we're not suggesting it affected the outcome of the election. that's something donald trump seems to be seizing on. we're talking about interfering with the democratic process, creating disruption. >> andrea, thank you for having me. i met recently twice with senior advisers to putin and in the bush administration i was in meetings with putin. two things are in play here.
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one is he really does want to overturn the existing post-cold war order that the united states and our friends have set up around the world of collected security. secondly, he's also defensive. he truly believes looking at iraq, looking at afghanistan, looking at libya, looking at kosovo, that the united states really does want to overthrow regimes, including ultimately that of russia. he's wrong on that. secretary clinton's criticisms -- these are the rhetoric you get here in washington. nobody really wanted to see putin and the current system go away, but that in a way motivates him to react offensively to what he thinks is a potential threat to his very existence. >> and you have the backdrop with donald trump during the primary election campaign praising putin, controversy it was at the time. so, he clearly had two choices.
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hillary clinton who was always going after putin, who was going after him, challenging him on human rights, and this donald trump character, new to politics, who kind of liked him and had business dealings in moscow. >> well, as we're seeing, and i think putin is smart enough to realize, trump as nominee is different than trump as successful presidential candidate and then as president. i think it's more putin felt that hillary clinton would be more aggressive than barack obama. i don't think that's the case, but that's in his world view how he looks at these democratic color revolutions he saw springing up all around him, georgia, ukraine, in the middle east. >> i was at the state department last night. there is great distress over the possibility of a controversial figure, former u.n. ambassador, former undersecretary for nonproliferation, john bolton, if he becomes deputy secretary of state. a lot of excitement, frankly, about rex tillerson coming
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because they believe that of all the people who have been mentioned, rudy giuliani and others, that he is the most credible figure to be secretary of state. that's not the view on the hill, perhaps, but certainly the view among foreign service people but they're so concerned about john bolton. tell us about john bolton. >> i worked with john bolton. let's leave aside personalities here, andrea. what i can say is john bolton is a strong believer in regime change. not just the rhetoric, but the reality. and that gets to what i just talked about with putin. if we're in -- no one is stronger and no one has put his life on the line -- well, others have more than me, but i certainly have, trying to block iranian terrorists and other aggression against our order in the middle east and elsewhere. but i'm absolutely opposed to trying to do regime changes in iran, russia and elsewhere. that's a recipe for losing the american people, for losing the
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international community, and failure again. to the extent bolton believes in this, we've got trouble. that's the problem, not personality. >> and his belief in regime change contradicts what donald trump has said during the campaign about iraq, about the iraq war and other regimes. >> absolutely. but trust me, he's a very pervasive guy. >> so stay tuned, in other words. thank you very much, ambassador. good to see you again. coming up, escape from aleppo. thousands of syrian civilians trying to flee the city's final onslaught. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports."
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the watchful eye of russian military drones. president bashar al assad released a video message celebrating what he calls the liberation of aleppo. itn's dan rivers filed this report. >> reporter: across this city and across the world is finally the fighting and suffering that has punctuated this war and has drawn in people from around the world to watch the plight of the people trapped inside. it's all finally over. the wider war in syria, though, is very far from that. >> msnbc's has been watching all of this. the tragedy of aleppo is unspeakable. it reminds me of serbnecia and other hoer horrors. we saw samantha power. >> her words were moving at the u.n. it breaks down the international order trying to address the
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larger syrian conflict because it underscores the paralysis in trying to reach an agreement not just on the resolution of the war politically but trying to alleviate human suffering. look how many times cease-fires have started and stopped and breached and all the times people inside, various communities trapped, unaable to get out. today we're seeing the first glimpses of people get out. 1,000 so far according to aid workers on the ground. you're talking about an area with 50,000 to 100,000 people. 1,000 people leaving this morning, that's a drop in the bucket for what the people there are going through. >> and john kerry trying repeatedly -- mean, for years now, to try to get something going. really hamstrung by resistance initially from the white house to use more of a real threat of military force and the dysfunction now leaving the rebels in no man's land, and
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they reacting angrily in new york to kerry, the one trying to negotiate something. >> the syrian opposition, the rebels on the ground as well as the political leadership, they feel they've been abandoned by the international community. at the helm of it, the united states. for a long time throughout this fight, they have been supported by the united states militarily, financially, the saudis, qatar, turks, adding resources to the rebels, but they didn't back up that fight with the willpower to go to their defense when it came to on-the-ground fighting. on the opposite side you have syrians backed by russian air power, backed by iranian government, hezbollah fighters, who actually put blood into that fight. they put troops on the ground, money in the purses of the government. so they were able to take the fight to the government systematic over the years. when push came to shove in a standoff like aleppo, the united states did not come to the defense, at least according to syrian opposition figures i've been speaking to, the u.s. and the saudis and qataris, didn't
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come to the defense of those rebels in a meaningful way against the might of the russians and iranians and syrian government. >> i hope i'm wrong, but this reminds me so much of what we're now possibly going to see, a complete collapse, the opposition, the rebels subsumed and the blow-back, all that weaponry will end up in hostile hands and used against americans potentially in syria and iraq. >> the battle for aleppo is over but not for syria. it could be entering into a more dangerous chapter. it's hard to believe it could get worse, but there's a chapter that could see syria get worse. >> thanks so much. still ahead, deputy national security adviser ben rhodes joining us, white house reaction to the nbc news investigation into the alleged russian hack. first, former secretary of state baker on secretary of state and his russian connections. our conversation coming up next
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donald trump choice for secretary of state, rex tillerson, has described his relationship with vladimir putin as close. i talked with former secretary of state james baker, a friend of the texas oilman's, about whether that would create a conflict of interest for tillerson as the country's top diplomat. welcome, mr. secretary. thank you for joining us. rex tillerson has spent his entire life at exxonmobil. doesn't he have a lot of potential conflicts of interest taking over the state department? >> well, i don't think he'll have conflicts of interest if he's required by the government ethics office to divest all of his interest in exxon. i wopt think there would be any conflicts there. the mere fact that someone knows something about foreign countries or foreign leaders shouldot disqualify them from being secretary of state. in fact, it's an advantage and a
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benefit provided that person is going to put the interest of the united states first in formulating and implementing foreign policy. and i'm quite convinced that rex tillerson is the type of person who will do that. >> well, one of his issues has been opposing the sanctions on russia because of ukraine. >> right. >> one of his earliest decisions may be to decide whether to keep those sanctions. >> right. >> does he have to recuse himself from that or he can put on a different hat? >>, no i don't think he has to recuse himself. he had an opinion as a private citizen. and i think that opinion -- i hope that opinion, and believe that opinion, will be different when he's a government official because he will want to be,ite quite confident, supporting the national interest of the united states and the principles and values of the united states. you know, it's one thing to be a ceo of a huge company in
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international business in the private sector. quite something else to serve the government. and don't tell me that people of quality and intellect and character can't move from one of those positions to another. they can. and that should not be a qualified. >> john mccain has described vladimir putin as a butcher and has real concerns, he says, that mr. tillerson is too close to vladimir putin. what's your take on that? >> it's one thing to be ceo of a major corporation where your number one responsibility is to create worth for your shareholders. you deal sometimes with very authoritarian people because your nobody one goal is to create value for your shareholders. you have a different responsibility as a government official and particularly as secretary of state. you know, i -- i came to the secretary of state's job
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primarily from government because i'd been chief of staff at the white house and treasury secretary first. but i had been a lawyer representing clients, big corporate clients, who might have had interests that were adverse to the united states from time to time. but i just don't see this as a disqualifier. >> i think your firm has in the past had some relationship with exxonmobil. >> right. >> have you ever represented them or dealt with them professionally? >> well, we have -- yeah, our firm has represented exxonmobil from time to time in the past. there's no -- there's no secret about that. i hope you don't -- you're not suggesting that that -- that would prevent me from expressing my opinion about rex tillerson when you ask me about it. >> no, not at all. i just wanted to be very clear to our viewers because those questions have been raised about in particular secretary rates and secretary rice whether or
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not they were truly objective about rex tillerson. what can you tell him as a person? >> first, let me tell you, i never said anything about rex tillerson in connection with his job until i was asked some questions by high-level officials in the trump transition team. and those questions were put to me on monday afternoon, the day before yesterday. his appointment was announced tuesday morning. so, it's not as if i was out there schilling for his appointment. having said that, i think he's going to -- it's an excellent appointment. and i think you're going to find that he will be a very effective and formidable secretary of state for the united states. >> now, it's a very different subject but i want to ask you about one of your passions, which is protecting elephants, protecting the poaching of ivory. >> right. >> legislation that has been trying to do something about what is really a global problem with the afternoon elephants.
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>> well, there is a global problem with elephants. there's really an epidemic of slaughtering and killing elephants, poaching elephants, for their ivory. it's something if we don't get a handle on it is something to lead to a far less attractive world. let me tell you something really staggering to me. 35,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks, poached. and that comes out to 96 elephants a day. and that's a lot of elephants. and so it's really tragic and we need to do something about it. >> well, thank you so much as a conservationist. we appreciate your comments. we appreciate everything you've done. thank you for joining us today. jim baker. >> thank you. pleasure to be with you. >> the former chief of staff, the former secretary of
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treasury, former secretary of state, and ardent hunter and great conservationist, james baker. thanks to him. coming up next, it's take your kids to work day. donald trump under fire for involving his children, adult children, in transition meetings while also saying they will take over his business. president obama's former ethics czar joins me to break it down right here on "andrea mitchell repor reports." will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job,
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with donald trump now challenging the intelligence that russia and, in fact, putin himself, according to nbc news sources, was directly behind the hacking of largely democratic targets, president obama take action against russia before he takes office? what about the president's breakthrough policies in cuba under the new regime? ben rhodes joins me now exclusively. thank you very much. let's talk about cuba. you were largely the point person, part of those secret negotiations. you were recently in havana. can all of this be reversed by
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canceling the executive orders? >> well, no, andrea. a lot of the changes we made are complimented regulatory amendments that took almost two years to complete. that's allowed for direct flights to cuba. over half million americans traveling to cuba last year. businesses signing deals down there, including google, that just brought a number of servers to increase internet. the new administration could take steps to try to wind this back, but we feel like there's so much travel, people-to-people exchange, business taking place down there, that not only would it be the wrong decision but invite significant opposition from many constituencies in the united states. >> my reporting and other reporting is that this was one of the topics discussed between president obama and president-elect trump at considerable length. just what the value is of this business relationship and that a lot of these direct contacts do help the cuban people, not the regime. can you expand on that?
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>> that's right. it was one of the subjects of discussion they had. president obama made clear there are real opportunities for american business down there. the chamber of commerce has supported our policy down there. a quarter of cubans are now self-employed because of the changes we made. they're getting capital from the united states, opening businesses, restaurants, hosting americans in their homes. this has real benefits to the cuban people. it enjoys broad support among the american people, including cuban-americans. another point the president always makes is this hugely benefits us in latin america. it's transformed our standing in the americas. if we're to turn this back, it wouldn't just hurt the cuban people, it would set back our ability to get things done across our own hemisphere. >> do you have any indication he might modify his pre-election policy, which was very hard line against the new diplomatic relations? >> well, it remains to be seen, an dr andrea. a lot of his appointments have come out of our business community. if you look at the constituencies for this policy,
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it includes the catholic church, includes american business. we would hope the new administration would see that engagement is good. not just for the cuban people, but for americans who want to do business down there and travel down there. frankly, counter to a policy of promoting freedom to tell americans, you can't travel this this place that's 90 miles away or tell a business, you have to cancel a deal, including google, which had a deal that will accelerate internet access. we think that provides momentum for this new team to carry the policy forward. >> now, ben, nbc news has been reporting that vladimir putin himself was involved in the transmission of the hacked/stolen e-mails, the material from the dnc, from john podesta through, perhaps, intermediaries to wikileaks, the distribution of it during the campaign. we're not suggesting nor is the intelligence community, as i understand it, that the election result would have been different, although donald trump and his team seem to be focusing on this as an attempt to
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delegitimize his election. that said, you've got russia interfering, you know, creating chaos within the election process. doesn't the white house have to take some action? >> well, andrea, we are reviewing what actions we can take in response to this russian hacking. it's important to note. it's a fact. russia hacked dnc. that was disseminated during our election season. this is similar to what they've done in european countries. in october when we put this assessment out, we said this could only happen with the highest levels of the russian government. we didn't think russia would engage in hacking american political organizations without the approval from the highest level of government. we are considering what are the responses that can be taken. >> "the new york times" has reported and others have reported that the president did talk to putin face-to-face about this, but didn't take countermeasures. were you concerned necessity might up the ante, there might be another reaction and they might try to actually interfere with the election results
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itself? >> well, he did talk to them at the g-20. i was in their meeting. then they had some time alone together and president obama made very clear that we were going to do what was necessary to protect our election process. i think the way these things go, you have to gather the intelligence, assign responsibility for the hacking, and then you want to be very careful in considering what are the responses. is it a cyber response, defensive or offensive? are there sanctions involved? there's a timeline that plays out where we assign responsibility, as we did in october. we review the information. we get the results. we'll take action. it's important to note, andrea, that this isn't just about this election. we don't want russia to feel they can do this with impunity going forward in future elections or european allies. it's important we acknowledge this as americans and we take response. >> what do you say to critics, including democrats, that say president obama came out when
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north korea hacked sony and was forceful. this was a written statement from the dni and head of homeland security. there was no reaction from the president himself. no counteraction. in fact, we weren't as tough against russia in real time. >> well, look, president obama did speak to this. i think it was a powerful thing to have the intelligence community in that statement verify russia meddling in our elections. it was plain for everybody to see what was happening. it was election season. there were e-mails being released from the dnc, john podes podesta, other officials. we blew the whistle on russian meddling. it was available for people to evaluate that information. at the same time, we have to be careful and deliberate in how we respond to these cyber intrusions. we will do that. we also need to learn everything we need to know about what took
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place. that's why it's important the president gather all the information, make it available to congress and ultimately the american people. >> when you say the highest levels, which was said back in october, let's be very clear. we're talking about vladimir putin. >> without getting into a specific piece of intelligence, i don't think things happen in the russian government of this consequence without vladimir putin knowing about it. everything we know about how russia operates and how putin controls the government would suggest, again when you're talkinabout a significant cyber intrusion like this, we're talking about the highest levels of government. ultimately, vladimir putin is the person responsible for the actions of the russian government. >> do you have concerns going forward with donald trump pushing back against this, that if you don't do something before january 20th, it will be dropped? >> we have to operate on the basis of facts in the u.s. government. the fact is russia was behind this. we need to do what we feel is necessary to respond. we feel like people of both
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political parties across the spectrum should be determined about what russia is doing. we've been criticized for not being harder on russia. we think something as significant as russia hacking into political organizations in the midst of our elections should invite a bipartisan response. that's what we'll continue to advocate. >> ben rhodes, thank you very much. thank you for being with us today. appreciate it. >> thanks, andrea. coming up -- family business. how will donald trump separate his adult children and their involvement in the transition from their role in his businesses? that and a lot more with president obama's ethics czar next. ♪ see ya next year. this season, start a new tradition. experience the power of infiniti now, with leases starting at $319 a month.
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it's not like there's anything nefarious going on or sneaky or transparent. we've been very clear about the role of his family. >> sean spicer defending the inclusion of trump's three adult children at the meeting with silicon valley. joining us is norm eisen, former
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ethics czar. do you have a mrob with them being a part of this meeting and other meetings as well as being a part of the business, at least don jr. and eric? >> thanks, andrea. and i do have a problem with the blurring of the trump family business and the official business of the president-elect and the united states of america. look, every president has had family, but we've never had a president-elect who's inserted his family into official business starting in the transition the way we've seen under president-elect trump. the problem with it is that these same kids, he's just tweeted his two sons are going to run the business after he goes into the white house, so it sends a signal that the trump business is going to be a way
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you can influence the trump administration. and it sends signals that decisions can be made with an eye toward the trump family interest. when you combine it with president-elect trump's resistance so far to doing what every president has done for the past four decades, andrea, selling his business interest through the use of an independent trustee, not a family member, and putting those investments behind a wall, a big, beautiful, ethics wall. we call that a blind trust. he doesn't want to do it, it seems. it's a recipe for scandal. and it's wrong. >> well, let me just play devil's advocate here because selling stock is a lot easier than selling real estate. these are hard assets, not liquid assets. >> of course you're right, andrea. but the president-elect doesn't have to worry about any of that. he can do what the others have done. it's -- have done. it's very simple. he can do it with one piece of paper and the stroke of a pen.
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find a top-notch independent trustee, a nonfamily member, sign all of those liquid and illiquid assets over to the trustee. let the trustee sort that out. take some time, unwind things, package them up, do private equity, do an lbo, a leveraged buyout. trustee could even do an ipo. let donald trump focus on the business of the united states. that's more than enough to fill his day. keep the kids totally out of government business. my goodness, what are his children doing sitting there in official meetings with business leaders and heads of state in countries where the kids are already doing business? it sends an awful signal. it's like the princlings of china and other corrupt gimes. not the united states perform. >> thanks for being with us. >> thanks, andrea.
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that does it for us. remember, follow the show online, facebook and twitter. katy tur is right here on msnbc. >> andrea, thank you so much. i hope you have a great rest of the day. hi, everyone, i'm katy tur in for hallie jackson. today on msnbc, president-elect trump and his campaign still refusing to concede russia hacked into american political systems despite the bipartisan chorus of outrage. the latest, a bombshell. intelligence officials telling nbc news vladimir putin was personally involved. also, closing arguments in that charleston church shooting trial. chilling 911 calls from the lone survivor played in the courtroom. the defense's defense -- we're sorry. moments ago, facebook officially announcing new methods it says will combat the sort of fake news that flooded feeds in advance of the election. let's start with msnbc's kelly

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