tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN December 16, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm PST
you totally nailed that buddy. simple. don't let directv now limit your entertainment. only xfinity gives you more to stream to any screen. hello, i'm wolf blitzer in washington. i want to welcome our viewers in united states and around the world. this is cnn's special live coverage of president obama's final news conference of his final full year in the white house. and it comes just hours after the president promised retaliation against russia for its interference in the u.s. presidential election. russia, by the way, is telling the u.s. "prove we were involved in the hacks on the democratic party and hillary clinton's campaign or stop talking." and in the middle of all of this, president obama's successor, donald trump, we will
have full team coverage of all of this. our correspondents and analysts are standing by to cover this presidential event, covering it the way only cnn can. let's start with our white house correspondent michelle kosinski in the briefing room right now. michelle, it's likely the russian hacking response will certainly be a main issue that the president will have to address. >> he knows these questions are coming, he can predict them beforehand. what we've been hearing in conversations we've been having is we can expect to hear him speak more bluntly, more forcefully on the subject, very similar to what we heard him say in an interview this morning about the potential response to russia. but he's going to be less reassuring. he wants to convey optimism going forward but because this intense debate has been roiling in america we expect him to want to get to the heart of that.
remember, this is the last time, the last chance he has before he leaves for vacation for two weeks to respond to these questions and for reporters we feel like this is our last chance in his time that he has left in office to ask the questions we've been wanting to ask him for a long time. this is likely to be far reaching, blunt questions, blunt answer answers but focused around the russian hacking. here's what he most recently said. >> i think there's no doubt that when any foreign entity tries to impact our elections we will take action. and we will at the time and place of our own choosing. some of it may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be. but mr. putin is well aware of my feelings about this because i
spoke to him directly about it. >> that's a preview of what we'll hear today but he wants to hit the points he feels are important. he wants to convey strength in the face of the latest information on the russian hacking. we know there's a sensitivity there in the administration, to the criticism over the timing of naming russia as the culprit here. he's going to want to respond to that and also we know that when we've seen this back-and-forth that seem to get away from the initial very smooth transition that let's give the next administration a chance and we saw early on now there's out right criticism. we know that was precipitated by the administration's anger over donald trump's and others questions and denials that russia played a role in this so we'll hear the president want to be more aligned with his press secretary, what's been coming out dave ldaily in the briefing surprised so many people. he'll want to defend his press
secretary and hit those same points in his own words once again. >> stand by, we'll get back to you. cnn is also learning russian cyber hacking has been on going since the u.s. presidential election. sources tell cnn, the intelligence community has concluded the russian leader vladimir putin personally signed off on the hacking of the u.s. presidential election using sophisticated hacking tools like the ones used by the national security agency, the nsa here in the united states. meanwhile, the kremlin is dismissing these accusations. joining us from moscow is our senior international correspondent clarissa ward. clarissa, what more are you hearing from the kremlin? >>. >> what we're hearing from the kremlin, wolf, is essentially prove it or stop making these accusations. kremlin spokesman dimitry peskov said these accusations were becoming indecent and this is very much the line we have heard from the kremlin repeatedly since the allegations first
surfaced back in october. they have routinely dismissed them as ludicrous nonsense and said there is no physical tangible evidence to prove any connection between the kremlin and russian involvement in the hacking. people who are watching state tv, an arm of propaganda for the kremlin, they're very much buying into the state narrative here, essentially, that russia had nothing to do with this. they say that basically this is an attempt to distract americans from all the deep problems that exist in if u.s. and that it's an attempt to poison the well as donald trump gets ready to assume the presidency. at the same time, what's interesting, on the one hand people say this is ridiculous, this is u.s. accusations, the evidence is circumstantial,
another the same time one gets the sense talking to people that russians do sort of enjoy the idea that president putin and the kremlin could pull off such an audacious move as actually managing to swing the u.s. election. but officially the party line still very much this is outrageous, ludicrous nonsense and stop these indecent accusations. wolf. >> clarissa ward, we'll check back with you after the news conference. join joining us, jake tapper. jake, what will you watch for as the president gets ready to go to the lectern. >> well, we're hearing sound and fury from both sides and i don't want to suggest a false equivalence but i'm hearing things that are not accurate. from the trump side we are hearing that there was no cyber espionage and that this is
partisan and that's not true. u.s. intelligence agencies are saying very clearly that russians conducted these hacks of the dnc and some of the e-mails ended up in the public domain through wikileaks and that may have had an influence on the election. but that's just a fact and this was discussed throughout the election, this is not only post-hillary clinton so that's one. then i'm hearing this idea -- and we're hearing this from comments hillary clinton made last night and president obama suggesting in his interview with national public radio with steve inkeep "there's no doubt the cloug the only thing we heard about were hillary's e-mail, the clinton foundation and e-mails surrounding the dnc." that did not happen. i certainly recall a lot of coverage about donald trump. so what is needed is president
obama underlining the facts these hacks are serious and that the intelligence community and congress and the next administration need to get together and talk about this but no blaming the russians for this one thing as if this threw the election. the clinton campaign still blaming everything on james comey and the fbi which is completely unremitted to the hack so i think a measure of non-partisan emphasis of what the serious problem is here without trying to blame the result of the presidential election on the russians because there is no evidence for that. >> the relationship between the outgoing president and incoming president since the election has been good but there could be strains right now. >> well, if you look at josh earnest as a conduit for what president obama has been think
i ing. donald trump is saying nobody brought this up before the election, obviously it was brought up inany number of time. it came up in one of the presidential debates you might remember donald trump saying "you're a puppet." that was all about vladimir putin and very pointed comments from josh earnest saying it's just a fact, you have it on tape, the republican nominee for president was encouraging russia to hack his opponent because he believed that would help his campaign. there was the last press conference that he gave in july, i believe it was july 7 saying where were the 30,000 e-mails that hillary clinton habit turned over, maybe the russians can get them. he says it was a joke, josh earnest says nobody thought it was funny and there was evidence to indicate he knew what he was talking about so josh earnest has basically been out there as the lightning rod for the administration taking the heat
from donald trump who attacked him last night but also just saying these are the facts and nobody should be joking about this and president-elect trump is saying things that are demonstrably false. >> josh earnest would not be doing this unless he had authorization from the president. >> absolutely not. that's not a press secretary. >> i want to make that point. nia-malika henderson is with us, jim sciutto is with us. nia, what are you looking for? >> i think the tone. you're right, what we've seen from the president-elect in terms of how he talks about this, he has almost seen him as a friend, he said complimentary things about him so far. he was harsh in terms of his comments about josh earnest in this last rally he gave. but he hadn't yet criticized the president. so far obama has seen himself as a tu toor to donald trump.
>> the trump whisperer. >> exactly. saying he's going to talk to him about obamacare, seemed to maybe change his mind in terms of how he thinks about that ch. so we know how obama feels, and they're doing this because they think donald trump might not do anything because of his views of put putin. >> listen to hillary clinton last night speaking to donors about russian hacking. >> we're also learning more everyday about the unprecedented russian plot to swing this election. and this is something every american should be worried about. you know, we have to recognize that as the latest reports made
clear vladimir putin himself directed the covert cyber attacks against our electoral system. against our democracy apparently because he has a personal beef against me. and why is that? because when he came back into power -- when i became secretary of state he was serving as prime minister to medvedev who was president. and i want you to know this because you'll go home and people will ask you and so he decided, you know, that's the way their system works, he decided he would be president again so in the fall of 2011 they had "parliamentary elections" which were so flawed, so ill lej mat that it was embarrassing. i was your sixty. at least in those years we stood up for democracy and human
rights and one of the things that was clear -- [ cheers and applause ] -- was that this was a phony attempt for him to appear as though he had a parliamentary victory. and so i issued a statement, that's what secretaries of state do, and i basically said, based on independent observations and analysis this was unfair, not free illegitimate election. >> so you heard her directly blame putin for the hacking. >> she's not alone. the u.s. intelligence community believes they have the goods. a month before the election they identified russia for this and said senior-most russian officials would have had to approve this. in russia that means putin. now they have more intelligence to support that conclusion. i think we're headed towards crisis territory here because you have an outgoing president who accepts the intelligence communities' judgment that
russia is behind the hack and said he's going to order a response of some kind before january 20 when he leaves office. you have an income president-elect of the united states who denies that premise that russia at least in public, i don't know what's in his head but at least in public and calls into question the credibility of u.s. intelligence agencies making that judgment. he's -- as you know, in tweet he is' attacked the cia to the point where the republican senate intelligence committee chairman today felt the need in a statement announcing a bipartisan appropriate of this hacking to make a statement of support for the intelligence community saying that, listen, these are hard-working people, they leave their politics at the door. that's senator richard burr, a republican, who in effect is contradicting the republican president-elect of the united states so you'll have an outgoing president who believes the premise, will order some response, an incoming president who either he will reverse that response or stop it or not do it
or maybe make friends with russia over this attack. we knew this was a big election with a lot of differences on a lot of fronts. that's a big national security disagreement to have between the outgoing administration and the incoming administration. i expect to hear more about that today. >> one thing we know russia wants and they do this all over the world, especially in europe, they want the american people to lose confidence in its institutions. they want the american people to no longer trust its intelligence agencies. they want the american people to no longer trust the media or its own government. whoever talks about this among these world leaders, among these national leaders, whether it's president obama, president-elect trump, kellyanne conway, whomever, needs to keep that in mind. it is important that we do not do russia's work for them. it's important that we do not -- it's fine to question intelligence agencies and it's our responsibility to question the government but based on substance and just to undermine intelligence agencies because you don't like their conclusions or to undermine the incoming
trump administration. look, the kremlin did not tell hillary clinton "don't go to wisconsin." there are reasons and you can say well there are any number of reasons that could have changed votes one way or the other. we don't know what tipped the balance one way or the other in wisconsin, pennsylvania, and michigan but there's no proof and we'll never say it was james comey and we'll never be able to say it was vladimir putin so democrats need to keep in mind if you present this instead of as a security crisis but as a partisan issue you are doing the bidding of russia because half the country will tune you out and no longer listen to you and the other half will say the incoming administration is no longer legitimate. >> that's russia's goals, but also on the world stage this is a soft power battle, the u.s. has advertised its democracy to the world as a better way to pew sin is thinking about his own people but he's thinking about people in european union and
asia, look at that mess in america, do you want that for yourselves? this has enormous domestic and international implications. >> stand by. there's more coming up. moments away from president obama, he'll address all of these issues and more including the growing rift between donald trump and the white house. stand by. this is cnn's special live coverage of the president's final news conference of this year.
with his family to hawaii for the holiday time off. he'll be back in washington after the new year, jake tapper, the first lady of the united states gave an interview to oprah winfrey, she said some words that were seen as controversial i want to play the clip and we'll discuss. >> your husband's administration, everything, the election, was all about hope, do you think this administration achieved that? >> yes. i do. because we feel the difference now. see now we're feeling what not having hope feels like. you know? hope is necessary. >> weigh in on that, jake. because the controversy is that she's saying there's no hope now in effect. >> i'm not sure that's what she was saying but if that's what she was saying i'm sure that's how a lot of obama supporters feel and it's about how a
plurality of the country who voted for hillary clinton feels. it's not how people who voted for donald trump feel. there are people who voted for barack obama twice and pulled the lever for donald trump. there are 200 counties that obama won twice that went for donald trump. i think a lot of those people voted for donald trump because they felt like he would finally pay attention to them and their needs, especially in the small manufacturing towns. so i certainly know a lot of people who feel that way and i hear from a lot of people who feel that way, they don't have hope, they're scared of this administration, the incoming administration. there's also a lot of people i know who feel the exact opposite and this is, again, maybe we're misreading her -- what she said. maybe there's a larger context if you play five minutes of the clip but it's important for leaders to be uniting the country right now and not dividing the country right now. >> nia, led me read to you what she said again. >> "we are feeling what not having hope feels like."
>> i think she is probably speaking for the obama coalition and of course some of those people stayed home or peeled off and voted for donald trump. she had for much of her tenure -- she's got very high approval ratings, 66%, it might be 72% now, had been a very non-partisan first lady in many ways in the way that a lot of first ladies tend to be but she was very partisan during this campaign, remember that big speech she gave in new hampshire where she really called donald trump out in terms of some of the things he said on that "access hollywood" tape so this seems to be a continuation of that. it was a partisan statement, she does seem to be forgetting as jake said the 60 million people who have hope in donald trump and believe in his slogan that he can make america great again and that currently america is in a tough position and on the decline. they feel like donald trump is going to turn that around so i wonder what figure can be sort of a uniting figure at this
point, to heal this rift, this very big rift between the two sides, the folks that voted for clinton, the folks that voted for trump, whether or not that person exists. you saw obama -- >> wolf. >> maybe it's wolf, make maybe, who knows. we saw obama try to do that in those initial words in that press conference but it's a tough road in terms of uniting those two sides. >> the thing is, michelle obama is the first lady of the united states of america not the first lady of the blue states of america and more importantly because she's the first lady not the president and she is on her way out donald trump needs to remember he will be the president of the united states of america. that means he's going to be the president of tens of millions of people who did not vote for him, including his critics and it just feels like at this point in the nation and our history people are just losing sight of that. that you're the first lady for everyone, you're going to be the president for everyone and especially for president-elect
trump, that's something he needs to take to heart. >> we talk so much about loss of faith in institutions. we've felt -- people have said that about congress, congress isn't working, talking about law enforcement in the context of black lives matter. the presidential election, you have a big portion of the country and you're hearing that expressed by a clinton or michelle obama losing faith in the institution of the presidential election, right? in effect saying it wasn't legitimate. and to your point earlier, jake, you get into dangerous territory from both sides if you call that into question because then you may be upset and rightfully so in your head but this election system has served us pretty well for a couple hundred years and there have been divisive elections in the past and if you don't accept the results of that election -- and let's be honest, that happened with barack obama as well for a big portion of the country, but if you don't accept the results of that, that sets you up for dangerous divisions going forward.
>> we should point out some democrats are really treading on very thin ice here because whatever you think about fbi director james comey and whatever you think about the decisions he made and i know a lot of people who know him and disagree with the decisions he made. i don't know one person who knows him who thinks he did it to change the outcome of the election. the worst interpretation is that he's so infach rated with his own sense of integrity that he put that ahead of the american electoral system but i don't know anybody who thinks he's a partisan republican trying to help donald trump. except for the senate democratic leader harry reid who this week said comey is a partisan hack and should resign and should become chairman of the republican national committee. except for in a way john podesta hillary clinton's campaign chairman who has an on said saying something stinks at the fbi. >> it's broken. >> something is afoul at the fbi. this is dangerous territory
talking about undermining institutions. agains criticism of institutionings, totally legitimate but what we're hearing is a real casting of illegitimacy by democrat leaders as well as republican leaders. >> especially at something like the fbi which has not been partisan, which has gone -- j. edgar hoover there was controversy in those days but that was decades ago and all of a sudden to hear these kinds of words you're right, being uttered, involving james comey and the fbi, it's pretty significant and very worrisome. everybody stay with us, we're waiting for the president of the united states. we're told momentarily he will go into the briefing room, make a statement, answer reporters' questions. our live coverage continues right after this.
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statement, an opening statement and answer reporters' questions, probably for at least one hour. we'll have live coverage of that every step of the way. michelle kosinski is in the briefing room getting ready. michelle, set the scene for us. you're getting information about what we might hear. >> there are going to be a lot of questions obviously. but obviously this isn't for the benefit of reporters who have these difficult questions, this is also for president obama to get out there and hit those points he feels are important. i mean, he's going to want to be in a position of strength against russia towards the hack without getting into too much detail on this proportion al response he's been warning about but the white house wants to clarify what's been called now an ugly transition, what's been termed a gloves-off
back-and-forth between the white house and donald trump and his team. it has been surprising in some respects the way this information has been put out there, the responses by the white house and the defense of the white house for the way it's responded and why. the white house has been wanting to explain that and i think hoob wi -- president obama will want to put that in his own words. we're hearing from senior administration officials that it's materially different, the kinds of statements that have been made by trump's team with kellyanne conway getting out there and calling the press secretary, for example, a foolish guy or saying he's deeply irresponsible or calling on president obama to end this back and forth. if he loved america more. is they see that as being an entirely different category than the kinds of things they've said publicly this week this they say is stating facts, repeting things donald trump has said himself that is true but context also matters. and that's where the trump
campaign -- the trump team now has bristled. the back and forth and strong words go back to the campaign and now despite the initial smooth transition and the well wishes, it seems to have gotten back to some of that so president obama's going to want to speak in direct terms, he's going to want to clarify points. he's going to want to hit on the point he is feels are important. one thing the administration feels was a game changer was donald trump's about others denials and questions that russia even played a role in this hack. i think the president will want to hit on the risks of those kinds of statements, why they're not true, he's going to get his own way of framing this out there and i think he's going to do so at some length, wolf. >> michelle kosinski is in the briefing room waiting for the president. we're waiting for the president right now. stand by. one other issue the president will almost certainly face, the crisis in syria.
evacuations from aleppo suspended, thousands of lives are hanging in the balance right now. that's the situation in aleppo where people desperate to escape a five-year-old civil war are told the buses sent to rescue them have stopped. fred pleitgen the is joining us now. fred, you told me a second round of buses have started shipping people off. now we're getting conflicting reports about the evacuation, what happened between then and now? >> well, wolf, there were several convoys that made it through, we're hearing about six or seven or possibly even eight convoys with about a thousand people each that made it out of eastern aleppo through government-held territory and then into other rebel-held areas. so about 8,000 to 9,000 people were evacuated. many of them very sick, many wounded, many of them children on the brink of dying but at some point one of the convoys got stopped and it becomes
unclear what happened. the syrian government says some of the people on the convoy were rebel fighters trying to smuggle their weapons out of eastern aleppo, the opposition for its part says the convoy was held up by a shiite militia that fights on the part of syrian president bashar al assad that they were unhappy with the fact that this evacuation deal for the rebels had gone through and so therefore they stopped the convoy, allegedly executed several people and then sent the convoy back and after that happened, wolf, all of the international aid workers in eastern aleppo, from the international red cross, from the world health organization, the red crescent, all of them were pulled, were told to go away because the situation so unsafe. it's unclear whether or not these evacuations will resume because the united nations believe there is could be up to 50,000 people still in that rebel enclave trying to get out, needing to get out because, again, many of them are also children, unicef put out a statement really that sounds tragic about a number of
orphans, they say thousands of children are still there in eastern aleppo, they're also in dire need as well. the temperatures are cold but wolf right now it's not clear whether or not the evacuations will resume and you and i know how volatile the situation is on the ground there with those different militias, people who have been fighting each other for a very long time, anything could kick off at any time and that would be the worst scenario because that would be full on war again. that certainly would be a tragedy for the people who are still stuck there in eastern aleppo. wolf? >> good point. thanks very much, a real tragic story unfolding there and has been unfolding for the past five years, fred pleitgen joining us from beirut. when the president at this news conference, presumably he'll be asked what are you going to do? what are you done? what can you do to try to stop the slaughter of these women and children, these -- the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding, that is escalating in syria right now. what can he say?
>> what he has said i think most recently to fareed zakaria is that it was the best option of a host of horrific options and that he didn't think involving u.s. troops in any major way and entangling the united states in another middle east war would have made the situation any better. i'm not saying i agree or disagree, but that's basically been his argument. there are a lot of people in the human rights community and people who are looking at what is -- has essentially been a genocide by another name in that country, hundreds of thousands killed, millions and millions displaced, a whole bunch of instability throughout the region now, even in europe because of the immigration crisis that they have there who can't imagine how anything could be a worse option than this one but, yeah, as you watch these images from aleppo it's just been one of the worst thing that's happened in the obama
presidency and it will be something that he has president is going to have to reckon with in the same way president clinton had to reckon with inaction in rwanda. >> i heard yesterday from chuck hagel who was president obama's defense secretary and he said there were other options short of deploying 50,000 or 100,000 u.s. ground troops to syria that might have prevented this humanitarian disaster but for whatever reason the president decided to stop short of that. >> and part of -- this president wanted to pivot away from the middle east, wanted more of an asia pivot and i think it's one of these quagmires and we hear the practical obama when he talks about this, this idea that as jake said there aren't necessarily any good choices in this, i do think -- you think about sir again i think at this point it will be trump's problem, right? he's going to be inaugurated next month and obviously the russian government and putin has a hand in terms of that alliance
with bashar al assad so obama has done what he's done, some people criticize him and say he hasn't done enough and he blinked, right? this whole idea of setting a red line when there were -- a sense that there was chemical warfare being used there but it's trump's problem now so it will be up to him to figure out what a solution is. >> the thing is, there was an option short of 50,000 troops on the ground, right? that's a no-fly zone. that's not a low investment problem, the u.s. military made very clear the syrians, unlike, say, iraq, had sophisticated anti-aircraft systems. it wouldn't have been a small job but certainly something short of putting 50,000 troops on the ground and one of the justifications for not doing that that the president cites now, which is igniting a war with russia because you have loads of russian assets, that didn't exist a couple years ago, yes russia was backing assad but you didn't have russian planes
on the ground there, forces, et cetera so there were steps he could have taken, not to say they were simple but there were steps short of a full scale iraq invasion. >> two people have blood on their hands for what's going on in syria, vladimir putin and bashar al assad. those are the two people responsible. in terms of the blame in the united states, president obama gets blame for his policy which cannot be seen as a success in any way, shape or form but to led congress off the hook would be doings a disservice to history. congress didn't have the votes, that i weren't going to vote to try to impose and enforce the red line that president obama talked about when it came to chemical weapons against -- using chemical weapons against his own people. there are not a lot of profiles in courage i see on the other end of pennsylvania avenue when it comes to syria either and it's very easy for members of congress to beat their chest and talk about president obama's failure. i didn't see many of them -- there are exceptions -- stepping up to the plate and saying we need to send troops and this is what we need to do and why we need to do it. i saw a lot of them running back
to their home districts and blaming it on president obama from the comfort of under their desks. >> you make a good point because the president did say i don't need congressional authorization to deploy troops or engage in a no-fly zone but it would be good if congress had the guts to go ahead and act and pass legislation authorizing the u.s. to do something. congress didn't do that. >> they like shirking responsibility, they like not having the war powers act be a real resolution because it enables them to blame the president when things go wrong and not have any ownership of anything that goes wrong as well and the truth of the matter is anybody who wants to blame president obama for this who's in congress needs to show all the places and times when they pointed to what they wanted to do and called for action. >> here comes the president of the united states. >> good arfternoon. this is the most wonderful press conference of the year. [ laughter ] i've got a list of who's been naughty and nice to call on. but let me first make a couple of quick points then i'll take your questions.
typically i use this year end press conference to review how far we've come over the course of the year, today understandably i'm going to talk a little bit about how far we've come over the past eight years as i was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10%, today it's at 4.6%, the lowest in nearly a decade. we've seen the longest streak of job growth on record and wages have grown faster in the past few years than any time in the past 4040. when i came into office 44 million people were uninsured. today we've covered more than 20 million of them. for the first time in our history, more than 90% of americans are insured. in fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for healthcare.gov, more than 670,000 americans signed up to get covered and more are signing up by the day. we've cut our dependence on
foreign oil by more than half, doubled production of renewable energy, enacted the most sweeping reforms since fdr to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on wall street from punishing main street ever again. none of these actions stifled growth as critics predicted. instead, the stock market has nearly tripled. since i signed obamacare will sb law, businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs and the economy is undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money as it all up, and last year the poverty rate fell at the festest rate in almost 50 years. while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record. in fact, income gains were larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top. and we've done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly
two thirds and protecting investments that grow the middle-class. when i came into office we were in the midst of two wars. now nearly 180,000 troops are down to 15,000 oiver the past eight years, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully directed an attack on our homeland. through diplomacy we've been sure iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon without going to war with iran we opened up a new chapter with the people of cuba and brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could very well save this planet for our kids
almost every country on earth sees america as stronger and more respected today than they did as eight years ago. in other words, by so many measures our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started. it's a situation i'm proud to li to my successor and it's thankts to the american people, to the hard work you've put in, the sacrifices you've made for your families and communities, the businesses you started or invested in, the way you looked out for one another and i could not be prouder to be your president. of course, to tout this progress doesn't mean we're not more mindful of how much there is to do. in this season in particular we are reminded there are people who are still hungry, people who are still homeless, people who still have trouble paying the bills or finding work after being laid off. their communities that are still
mourning those who. stolen to us by senseless gun violence and parents who still are wondering how to protect their kids and after i leave office i intend to continue to work with organizations and citizens doing good across the country on these and other pressing issues to build on the progress that we've made around the world as well there are hot spots where disputes have been intractable, conflicts have flared up and people, innocent people, are suffering as a result and nowhere is this more terribly true than in the city of aleppo, for years we've worked to stop the civil war in syria and alleviate human suffering. it's been one of the hardest issues i've faced as president. the world as we speak is united in horror at the savage assault by the syrian regime and its russian and iranian allies on the city of aleppo we have sign
a deliberate strategy of surrounding berkshire hathaway siegi sie -- besieging civilians. we've seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and dust. there are continuing reports of civils being executed. these are all horrific violations of international law. responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone with the assad regime and its allies, russia and iran, and this baghdad and these atrocities are on their hands. there's a national observer force in aleppo that can help coordinate an evacuation through safe corridors. beyond that there needs to be a
broader cease-fire that serves as the basis for a political rather than military solution. that's what the united states will push for both with our partners and through multilateral institutions like the u.n. regretfully but unsurprisingly, russia has repeatedly blocked the security council from taking action on these issues so we're going to keep pressing the security counsel to help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in desperate need including monitoring chemical weapons in syria. and we'll work in the u.n. general assembly as well both on accountability and to advance a political settlement because it should be clear that although you may achieve tactical victories over the long term, they can not slaughter their way to legitimacy. that's why i'll transition to a more representative government
and why the world must not avert our eyes to the terrible events unfolding. the syrian regime and its russian and iranian allies are trying to obfuscate the truth the world should not be fooled and the world will not forget. so even in a season where the incredible blessings we know as americans are all around us, even as we enjoy family and friends and are reminded of how lucky we are we should also be reminded that to be an american involves bearing obligations to others. american ideals are what will lead the way to a safer and more prosperous 2017, both here and abroad. by the way, if you embody those values and ideals like our brave
men and women in uniform and their families, i want to close by wishing all of them a very merry christmas and and happy new year. with that i'll take questions and i'll start with josh letterman of a.p. >> reporter: thank you, mr. president, there's a perceptions but that you're letting president putin get away with interfering in the u.s. elections and that a response that nobody knows about just don't cut out. are you prepared to call out president putin by name for ordering the attack and do you agree with what hillary clinton says, that the hacking was partially responsible for her loss? and is your administration's open quarrelling with trump and his team on this issue tarnishing the smooth transition of power that you have promised? >> well, first of all with respect to the transition i think they would be the first to
acknowledge that we have done everything we can to make sure they are successful, as i promised, and that will continue and it's just been a few days since i last talked to the president-elect about a whole range of transition issues. that cooperation will continue. there hasn't been a lot of squabbling. what we've simply said is the facts which are that based on uniform intelligence assessments, the russians were responsible for hacking the dnc. and that as a consequence it's important for us to review all elements of that and make sure we are preventing that kind of interference through cyber attacks in the future. twh that should be a bipartisan issue, that shouldn't be a partisan issue and my hope is
that the president-elect is going to similarly be concerned with making sure that we don't have potential foreign influence in our election process. i don't think any american wants that. and that shouldn't be a source of an argument. i think part of the challenge is that it gets caught up in carry over from election season and i think it's very important for us to distinguish between the politics of the election and the need for us as a country both from a national security perspective but also in terms of the integrity of our election system and our democracy to make sure we don't create a political football here. now with respect to how this
thing unfolded last year, let's go through the facts pretty quickly. over the summer we were alerted to the possibility that the dnc had been hacked and i immediately order law enforcement as well as our intelligence teams to find out everything about it, investigate it thoroughly, to brief the potential victims of this hacking. to brief on a bipartisan basis the leaders of both the house and the senate and the relevant intelligence committees and once we had clarity and certainty around what, in fact, had happened, we publicly announced that in fact russia had hacked into the dnc. and at that time we did not attribute motives or any
interpretations of why they had done so. we didn't discuss what the effects of it might be. we simply let people know, the public know, just as we had let members of congress know that this had happened. as a consequence, all of you wrote a lot of stories about both what had happened and then you interpret ed why that might have happened and what effect it would have on the election outcomes. we did not and the reason we did not was because in this hyperpartisan atmosphere, at a time when my primary concern was making sure the integrity of the election process was not in any way damaged. at a time when anything that was said by me or anybody in the
white house would immediately be seen through a partisan lens, i wanted to make sure everybody understood we were playing this thing straight. that we weren't trying to advantage one side or another but what we were trying to do is let people know that this had taken splice if you had started seeing the effects on the election, if you were trying to measure why this was happening and how you should consume the information that was being leaked that you might want to take this into account. imagine if we had done the opposite. it would have become immediately one more political scrum and part of the goal here was to make sure we did not do the work of the leakers for them by raising more and more questions about the integrity of the election right before the election was taking place at a
time when the president-elect himself was racing questions about the integrity of the election. and finally, i think it's worth pointing out that the information was already out. it was in the hands of wikileaks so that was going to come out no matter what. what i was concerned about in particular was making sure that wasn't compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote count i counting, affect the actual election process itself so in early september when i saw president putin in china i felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn't. and in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process. but the leaks through wikileaks
had already occurred. so when i look back in terms of how we handled it, i think we handled it the way it should have been handled. we allowed law enforcement and the intelligence community to do its job without political influence. we briefed all relevant parties involved in terms of what was taking place. when we had a consensus around what happened we announced it not through the white house, not through me, but rather through the intelligence communities that had actually carried out these investigations and then we allowed you and the american public to make an assessment as to how to weigh that going into the election. and the truth is is that there was nobody here who didn't have some sense of what kind of effect it might have. i'm finding it curious that everybody is suddenly acting
surprised that this looked like disdisadvantaging hillary clinton because you guys wrote about it everyday. every single leak about every little juicy tidbit of political gossip. including john podesta's risotto recipe. this was an obsession that dominated the news coverage. so i do think it's worth us reflecting how it is that a presidential election of such importance, of such moment, with so many big issues at stake and such a contrast between the candidate candidates came to be dominated by a bunch of these leaks. what is it about our political system that made us vulnerable to these kinds of potential
manipulations which, as i've said publicly before, were not particularly sophisticated. this was not some elaborate complicated espionage scheme. they hacked into some democratic party e-mails that contained pretty routine stuff, some of it embarrassing or uncomfortable because i suspect that if any of us got our e-mails hacked into there might be some things we wouldn't want suddenly appearing on the front page of a newspaper or a telecast even if there wasn't anything particularly illegal or controversial about it. and then it just took off. and that concerns me, and it should concern all of us. but the truth of the matter is is that everybody had the
information. it was out there and we handled it the way we should have. now, moving forward i think there are a couple of issues that this raises. number one is just the constant challenge that we are going to have with cyber security throughout our economy and throughout our society, we are a digitalized culture and there is hacking going on every single day. there's not a company, there's not a major organization, there's not a financial institution, there's not a branch of our government where somebody's not going to be fishing for something or trying to penetrate or put in a virus or malware and this is why for the last eight years i've been obsessed with how do we continually upgrade our cyber security systems and this particular concern around russian hacking is part of a broader set of concerns about how do we deal with cyber issues
being used in ways that can affect our infrastructure, affect the stability of our financial systems and affect the integrity of our institutions like our election process. i just received a couple weeks back, it wasn't widely reported on. a report from our cyber security commission that outlines a whole range of strategies to do a better job on this. but it's difficult because it's not all housed -- you know, the target of cyber attacks is not one entity but it's widely dispersed and a lot of it is private. like the dnc. it's not a branch of government. we can't tell people what to do. what we can do is inform them, get best practices. what we can also