tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC December 30, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST
this hour the russians face a deadline to vacate two compounds here in the united states. over it, donald trump says the country should move on and not retaliate against russia. prominent leaders say that the actions need go further. inside the hack. how did the russians get inside of american computer systems and what can be done to stop the next attack?
good to have peter alexander in washington. we'll be following the breaking news at this hour. russian president vladimir putin making a dramatic announcement a few hours ago on the kremlin's website saying he will not expel any american diplomats or close any u.s. facilities in retaliation for the tough new sanctions imposed by president obama. those include expelling 35 suspected russian spies and their families who have until this sunday to leave the country. the russian embassy in washington tweeting this morning a spial flight is being sent in to the u.s. to bring thos ssians back home. and as of right now, high noon eastern time federal officials are shutting down two russian compounds here in the eastern u.s. one of them on the maryland shore. the other on new york's long island. president putin's refusal of this tit for tat response came hours after his foreign minister sergey lavrov recommended
expelling 35 u.s. diplomats and closing a pair of u.s. facilities in moscow. we have our team of correspondents. again with nbc's lucy c anovber, is putin betting on better relations with trump who takes office three weeks from today? >> reporter: hey, peter. russian president vladimir putin may be betting on better relations with the incoming trump administration, but this is exactly the sort of unexpected masterful diplomatic stroke that putin is known for pulling. as you were saying, everyone was expecting a retaliation by the russians. president putin comes out, throws the rule book out the window and says in the statement that russia does have reasons to respond in kind. although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to what he calls irresponsible kitchen diplomacy. but will stand for our further steps to restore russian/u.s. relations based on the policies of the trump administration.
instead, he also twists the knife a bit saying that he in fact welcomes all of the children of the accredited diplomats here in russia to attend the new year's eve and christmas celebrations at the kremlin coming out on top of that effectively, domestically looking like the stronger leader. we spoke to "the washington post's" moscow bureau chief who analyzed what putin's intent may have been. take a listen to how he described the situation. >> it's this sort of twofold step. one when they go low, i go high. you know? i'm above this process. and two, it opens space for president-elect trump to come in not behind the 8 ball, not behind the 8 ball of the nasty it the -- of the tit for tat,
but he can start the relationship on a new foot. >> reporter: in the u.s. the headline is russia may have hacked the u.s. election. the russians are messing with the american democracy system. here in russia it is a totally different picture. the headline here is, the obama administration which has had historically low ties with russia is on itsay out. the political analysts here and political leaders in fact say why is the obama administration messing with russia if you will? why are they trying to undermine russia? the kremlin of course categorically denies hacking any systems in the u.s. and so for president putin to say this he does two things. he looks like the stronger person who's not succumbing to the tit for tat finger pointing and he throws the ball in president-elect donald trump's court. >> sure. >> reporter: while putin may look like he doesn't necessarily care about the ties between the two countries, those sanctions
are hurting russia and he hopes to turn the page. >> lucy, thanks. hans nichols is joining me in washington. you have new reporting from here. we just heard the russian's perspective. what is the administration's perspective on putin's basic refusal at this point to retaliate? >> well, there's some surprise. yesterday afternoon, everyone was clearly expecting a retaliation. this morning the first tip-off that something was different on this is the way that lavrov teased it out. he comes to the cameras this is what i'm recommending. very odd to have public recommendations like that. the view of the administration rinow, yes, there's some surprise andhis whaty an acknowledgment. the failure to respond. the failure to retaliate and check out the diplomats or spies or whatever we have there, maybe they did indeed cross the line by interfering with the u.s. elections. at least a view in the administration that mr. putin has gotten the message and he recognizes he may have crossed the line. >> people have been throwing
around this phrase, does the administration does this does box trump in? if heays yeah i'm going to invite the guys back in, then he'll face political scrutiny for that? >> look, donald trumpan reverse pretty much everything, from the executive order from the expulsion of the diplomats. he can invite the diplomat/spies back in. and in general though, it seems as though the white house wanted to be surgical. they wanted to be tactical about it. and have the response taken care of. what this does for donald trump it gives him a pass. he's got a clean plate, he's got a lot of runway to run on. >> the individuals some of them were familiar to the fbi. there are names on the fbi's wanted list as well for the cyber activities in the past. what more do we know about the actual players? are these the guys really behind what's going on or among many? >> so the four they added to the sanctions list, those are four from the gru, the high levels. a lot of russians are on the list already. you have the head of the oil company there, you have putin's chief of staff. adding the two individuals
probably puts more pressure, a little more pressure on them because they could have more assets or contact with the -- with the officials in the states or have some sort of connection to the states. but remember one of the guys was already charged in the nebraska court. like in a lot of ways the symbolism is here. obama administration thinks they're culpable. >> hans, thank you very much. i want to go to tammy lightener, in hawaii where the president is vacationing. i know you've been getting the administration officials' take on the situation and walk us through the sanctions specifically and what the real impact is. >> reporter: sure, peter. it is unprecedented for the u.s. to retaliate against russia in this way. it's also very unusual for the u.s. to make public the names of these top russian officials who are involved. now let's go over the sanctions. as you mentioned 35 russian diplomats are being kicked out of the u.s. along with their families. they're closing two russian compounds in new york and
maryland. they are sanctioning two russian leading intelligence agencies along with the three russian companies that are said to have supported these hacking efforts. they're also naming four top officials and two others. this is really interesting. they're naming two others who are suspected of having some involvement in unrelated cyber activities and also, stealing more than $100 million from u.s. institutions, univerties, government institutions and financials. now, president obama did release a statement, let's go ahead and put that up. he said the actions are not the sum total of our response to russia's aggressive activities. we'll take a variety of actions, some of which will not be made public. what we can read from that, peter, is that in coming days the u.s. will take some actions but obviously the american people will not know what these additional actions are. >> tammy lighter in in hawaii, thank u ry much. i want to bring in msnbc chief
international security and diplomacy analyst, the former nato supreme allied commander. admir admiral, we appreciate your time during the holidays. thank you. >> my pleasure, peter. >> even before the election back in october, i was reading some of what you wrote. you said that putin's brazen attack on the u.s. democracy means that president obama has to respond with a firm hand. is thissed adequate or appropri? >> i think it's pretty close. we don't know what's happening under the surface of the water, if you will. what i hope is happening is that the administration is clandestinely using cyber techniques and tactics to go after high level russian level finances and going after the gru tactics they're using to suppress people in their own nation. we don't have to reveal all of that, but we need to be firm. russia will keep pressing like a bayonet into mush until they hit
steel. we have to respond. >> you're quoting an old russian quote right there. in one offior recent they do hit mush as they have, we have to make sure that the bayonets of today have become the bits of cyberspace as you understood kated. -- as you indicated. is cyber the new front, where we'll be battling this fight going forward? >> i think we have three areas of confrontation with russia, peter. one is over the ukraine. one is in syria. and the third indeed is in the cyber world where as i said the bayonets have become the bits. but let's shift metaphors. russia is famous for chess players. what we're seeing is a game of chess going back and forth. putin has moved pretty dramatically in holding on to retaliation. it's a very clever tactical
move. >> president-elect donald trump with whom i know you have met privately even recently responded by saying, it's time to move on to bigger and better things. he said he'll get briefed by leaders of the intelligence community next week. what do you make of the next president's response? >> i think we see a deal maker. this of course is president-elect trump's style. he's trying keehis options open. he is being helped at the moment by both putin and kind of strangely by president obama, by lowering these sanctions president obama has effectively given president-elect trump way to say, okay, that was taken care of by president obama. now i can move forward and cut a new deal with vladimir putin. we need to be careful that we don't become pawns in this game of chess. >> without getting into the details of your past private conversations, what would you advise the incoming president right now as it relates to vladimir putin? >> i think we should confront
where we must. that's on syria and the support for assad. that's on ukraine and above all it's in cyber. confront where we must. but we should cooperate where we can on things lik counterterrorism. counterpiracy. in the arctic, potentially on arms control. let's try and construct the different relationship but we have to confront when the behavior is truly outrageous as it was in the case of the hack against our election. >> where are the real risks right now for the united states? where are -- where is the mush so to speak, those weak spots that you think need dramatic change where the risk of consequences exist going forward? >> i'll give you three things. one is infrastructure around the nation. our electric grid is highly vulnerable. secondly, it's further intrusions into our national psychology if you will. the way that information
warfare, fake news, propaganda if you will is penetrating and the third is in the financial sector, which is less vulnerable than the electric grid, for example, but is still at risk. >> do you expect to be joining the trump administration in any form, have you had conversations? any news you can give us? >> no, i think i'll run the fletcher school of law and i'm happy to provide advice but i don't see myself joining the administration. >> this month, president obama ended the dual hat arrangement that exists under which the national security agency and the national cyber warfare commander headed by the same military officer. this something you have called for in the past. why is that so important? and are you confidenthat donald trump will support that new change? >> i think he will support it. it makes enormous sense.
i have spoken about it continuous. >> i why -- why does it matter? >> the reason it matters these are two different functions. the national security agency collects intelligence and defends cyber security. the cyber command, the military side, is in to -- is there to conduct military operations in cyberspace. we don't want the same person running the cia and intelligence operation and the department of defense. we want that separated. same principle applies here and secondly, peter, these are two huge jobs to have one person in charge of both is a span and control problem. >> have a healthy and happy new year. we appreciate your time. >> my pleasure. same to you. >> joining me in the studio the california congressman adam shift, the top democrat on the house intelligence committee. the former cia -- a former cia official who ran the russian operations until he retired the sanctions are pretty weak, perhaps more symbolic. do you agree? >> i don't think they're weak,
but i don't think they're going to be enough. i would like to see congress step up and impose broader sanctions. but what really gets the russian's attention is not the expulsion of diplomats or people masquerading as diplomats, but those economic sanctions imposed over ukraine. that's the only thing that puts putin in jeopardy and the only thing that he cares about. so i would like to see us go further. i look at this as a first step. and i also think that the clandestine steps that the administration may take are more significant. >> what would have had a more stinging impact on vladimir putin himself? he and his cronies you and others allege have been involved in corruption for decades. right now, what could this administration have done that would have more effectively gotten to his bottom line? >> i have urged that they impose sanctions along with the other nations that have been the subject of russian medalliing. that would have had a better impact than targeting individuals. some of the covert steps in
exposing corruption within the kremlin. >> exposing corruption, the reason that's importt is because it can send a message to people inside russia if they have access to what the people up above are doing. >> it tells the russian people about their own leadership. but it also sends a message that to the degree that they continue haing american institutions or individualand release data they could be subject to that as well. that could have a deterrent impact, but these are some of the steps that i think would be more powerful than what's happened so far. >> were you surprised that vladimir putin did not retaliate? >> you know, on one level i am surprised. at the same time, it was a shrewd move. the russians hope to get everything they want from donald trump merely by flattering the man. so far, it's been successful. he's talked about weakening nato. potentially doing away with the ukraine sanctions which is what the russians care about the most. so if they can get what they want just by saying nice things about the man, why risk upsetting the apple cart over a
few expulsions? so it's a shrewd thing to do. i think it makes a lot of sense for them. they may also look at something symbolic they can do that they can view as a give back when trump takes office. something that trump could take credit for. >> he said he think it's time to move on to bigger and better things and he said he'll meet with the intelligence officials to get to the root of the facts next week. does that satisfy you? >> no. look, i'm glad he's going to meet with the intelligence officers but he's been briefed and briefed multiple times. there's no doubt -- >> homeland security and d -- said that russia was behind this back in october. >> right. after meeting with them he's now convinced but he has such difficulty that diminishes his success. he can't accept the fact that he lost the popular vote and he
invents millions of illegals voting. what may change is if there is a personal dynamic with putin that ultimately ends up turning and we have seen really with just the twitter exchange on the nuclear arsenal how quickly things could get out of control if the president-elect feels slighted in any way. i think the russians are being cautious with him, but also very hopeful that mere flattery may get them everything they need. >> it's worth reporting right now that nbc news has confirmed that the senate armed services commit three going to hold hearings on january 5th. that's the thursday of the new year on the foreign cyber threats to the united states. among those in attendance, the director of the national intelligence, james clapper. if lindsey graham, john mccain on the house side, you and others are able to put together a sanctions package that goes even further than president obama has gone to this point, do you think that's something that donald trump would be amenable to? >> i don't know. i think he will probably start
out quite hostile to the whole idea as i think he is right now. >> but he's even in conflict with leading republicans right now. paul ryan, mitch mcconnell, lindsey graham. they basically said it may have been too little, too late. >> he is in conflict with them but the question is how much will the republicans in congress really stand up to him when he's president? i have expressed interest in working with senators graham and others who are interested in fashioning that sanctions package. i think there's bipartisan support for it. but will mitch mcconnell and paul ryan pass it and send it to the president if the president tells them not to? that remains to be seen. but i don't see a lot changing with president trump unless putin takes a move that somehow is off putting to the president-elect. >> some republicans those close to donald trump who said it's line drinking from a fire hose in the first few weeks of this new administration. they're going to be putting forward so many new proposals they'll overwhelm as they describe it a disorganized
democratic party right now. where can the democrats plant their flag? >> certainly on the whole issue of russia's interference, that's a fight that democrats are taking up. we have the support of many republicans in that fight also. we have to also push to hold the president-elect accountable on his promise to have a massive infrastructure package and not some tax give away, but rather something real that invests in the infrastructure of the country. that's a fight we may be able to win. but also where he tries to roll back hard won rights or where the republicans attempt to effectively throw people off their health insurance, the millions and millions of people that have received it. >> that's coming up next week to strategize about how to go about pursuing that. adam shift, have a good holiday. >> thanks. you too. coming up, boxing them in, does part♪ of obama's strategy o make life hard for the russians also limit trump's options once he takes if oath of office? that's next.
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again at this hour we're following breaking news. vladimir putin surprises most everybody by announcing he will not retaliate for president obama imposing new sanctions on russia. nbc's kelly o'donnell is joining us near the president-elect's mar-a-lago's estate in florida. any response from the trump team to putin's announce? >> reporter: they're not talking about it and really looking ahead to next week. when they say the president-elect will have a
special briefing with members of the intelligence community to bring him up to speed on the elements involved in the latest iteration of what president obama has done in response to russian efforts to infiltrate the u.s. democratic process through those hacks aimed at different targets during the election season. so they are not talking about it. now that of course takes on greater implications because many perceive trump as having a friendlier relationship with vladimir putin. in a statement he had said it's time to move on. the president-elect also in his voice had said he's looking forward to that intelligence briefing that he will get. it is also striking that he is not up to date on this at this point because you know president obama had authorized that the vice -- that the president-elect and vice president-elect would be open to receive the same
exact briefing materials that president obama receives as part of the transition. so there's sort of a question as to why donald trump has not been fully briefed to this point. also we can tell you that the reaction to this will certainly rebound next week when official washington is back. a new congress is sworn in. and even before the new president takes over, peter, we know that the senate armed services committee as you know is going to have a hearing on this. john mccain helms that committee. he of course has a very dim view of vladimir putin. and a very strong position that the obama administration was slow to take action in retaliation to the infiltration on the cyber attacks during the election season. peter? >> kelly, looking ahead to new year's eve tomorrow, we're hearing that the president-elect has some plans. they have been announced. who is he joining company with at mar-a-lago to celebrate? >> reporter: well, a couple of things. in the notables department, there will be two well known people, sylvester stallone and quincy jones will attend a party. that will begin at 7:00 and go until 1:00 in the morning. dinner and dancing for new
year's eve. today, still a business day. he's got four meetings set up beginning at 2:00 today. with some people who could perhaps have a role in his administration or again gathering information to help in the transition. so there is business going on today. i can also tell you, peter, we have learned that president obama will make a trip to capitol hill next week and that of course stands out because there's only at that point 2 1/2 weeks left in his term. he'll be meeting with democrats from both the senate and house side and they will all get together privately and it could be perhaps the last time they do that before he leaves office. the purpose of that meeting according to sources is that president obama wants to talk with lawmakers about how they could take steps to protect his signature achieveme durinhis eight years. the health care law which we know that republica vow to replace or repeal, do something to it. they will have the white house and both chambers of congress which will make it easier, although not foolproof for them to make changes. president obama wants to make
sure he talks and strategizes with fellow democrats next week to prepare for that. so we have a whole smattering of things going on. party plans going on at mar-a-lago as everyone rings out the old year and brings in the new. >> well, we appreciate it. thank you very much. president obama receiving bipartisan support for the latest russian sanctions. some top republicans say the punishment should have happened sooner of course. but despite support from both sides of the aisle donald trump could reverse the sanctions once he takes us. still thinking of sly stallone and quincy jones at the big party tomorrow night. as one does. the white house obviously has warned donald trump basically challenged him, saying you can't turn this stuff back. you can legally speaking but politically it may be more challenging. we heard from two of the closest allies, john bolton and rudy giuliani. here's what they said.
>> is he trying to box in the president-elect? >> of course he is. >> what's he trying to do? >> of course. the 18 months of hacking, why didn't he do something about it ten months ago? it never would have happened. >> look, the russians have walked all over the obama administration for eight years. it's really been a pathetic performance. what the last burst of activity has to say, it's hard to do. i think it will fail boxing the president in. >> so rudy giuliani said if this were the case why didn't they do it months ago, and bolton said if it boxes them in it will fail. shouldn't this exist? >> sure, if you have an extent shall threat that's messing around with the elections you think you'd take preemptive action on this. i think this gives donald trump the ability to maneuver as he wants to actually. >> so it does him favor in effect?
>> by not insisting there are sanctions put on retaliation by the russians, then that's not an immediate crisis when he takes over on january 20th. >> donald trump said that we need to move on to bigger and better things. he said he'll meet with the intelligence leaders next week to get to the basis of the facts here. what do you make of that statement from donald trump? this came just hours after this just huge presentation from the administration right now. state, treasury and the white house putting out the information, its evidence and its plans and they basically said we'll talk about it. >> yeah. from his point of vu, -- of view, i think the priorities of his administration are not getting in a tit for tat with russia. they're the very ambitious domestic policy platform he's put forward. that's what he's been talking to the republican leadership and the congress about. that's what they would like to tackle first. this is not part of that true when you're president you have to deal with a lot of different things at once. you can see this is part of his
priorities. >> sometimes the fires burn hot just for a couple of days as aides to donald trump have said. and then they wane. by erhe next week we -- early next week we'll be talking about something. do you think this russian issue will stick with us within the first 100 days if not beyond? >> i think it's going to be lurking out there. certainly the hearings that john mccain and the congress are -- >> at the top of the year. >> it will drive the top of the year, but there's a lot of other action in congress as well. remember the january 11th, the confirmation hearings start. those are certainly not going to be ignored stories so there will be a lot of -- >> with russia playing a role in the conversations, rex tillerson and others. >> for some. >> finally, the inaugural address three weeks away. donald trump's aides have said he's taking inspirationing from ronald reagan and kennedy. >> this is the most cherished tradition in politics standing
up in front of the capitol, addressing the throngs on the mall. everyone around the world. that's i think telling you exactly where he wants to go with the speech and indeed his administration. democrat and republican, moving it together in sort of a unique way. >> he's had opportunities to try to unify a party. now he has one window to try to unify a country in front of everyone. it will be nice to watch. ben, have a good holiday. coming up eviction notice the u.s. has shut down two russian owned compounds here in the united states saying they have been used for espionage. a look inside the facilities. we'll peel back the curtain. that's next. (vo) what's your dog food's first ingredient?
these compounds i have only been to the one in maryland, i haven't been to the one in new york it's a fantastic estate, let's be clear. we were hosted once to celebrate the signing of the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty. he has a great boat, we went water skiinghe and hundreds of russians live out there during the summer. >> that was former ambassador to russia, michael mcfaul, talking about his own personal experience at one of the two russian government owned compounds here in the u.s. that are currently being shut down. president obama ordered all russians out of the compounds that officials described as spy nests used by russian intelligence operatives. this whole story reads like a spy novel right now. for a lot more, we want to get to msnbc's senior news editor cal perry, at the big board for us. walk us through not so much the sanctions but this portionf it what we know about these two specific compounds. >> yeah, these compounds as you
said, this is the fascinating part of the story. you saw ambassador mcfaul talk about it. we're talking about centerville, maryland, on the eastern shore, a very beautiful part of the country especially for those who live in washington, d.c. a good place to go in the summer. right, we're taking about the eastern shore here. you will see pictures here now. this is people moving out. they're starting to pack up and move out. access is being controlled through the state department and local authorities working hand in hand with the working authorities. we're talking about dozens of cottages, multiple apartments. it could accommodate up to 40 families. folks went there on vacations. i spoke with a friend who lives in annapolis, it's very laid back, very rural. bordered by the river. it wasn't a mystery what the compound was. it was a compound with tennis, horseshoes and that sort of thing and there were really good parties. >> i trust there were. apparently the vodka was pouring in large portions there.
swimming pools, soccer field. lighted tennis courts. annual labor day party. we're learning about it as well right now. the bottom line, the individuals got to leave by noon today. which means that process is taking place as we speak. cal, bottom line her were the folks that are being kicked out, the 35, associated with these locations, do we even know that fact? >> if you want to call it a diplomatic enclave, we have the shots of the one in brookville, new york, whether you want to call it a diplomatic enclave or a safe house, it's a place that the russians were familiar with. it's a place that they had presecured. you're looking at documents being removed. these are the arms of the embassy. obviously the russians are saying this was used for diplomatic activity. they're going to point to things like the parties. but as far as the american government is concerned, there was espionage taking place within these come pounds. obviously, there's big gray area when it comes to diplomacy and espionage. but certainly they're going to be shutting these things down,
moving out, getting the paperwork out. as you said, noon today. so we have passed it. right now the state department is controlling access in and out of the compounds. >> great nugget, back in the early '90s a reporter said that the russians didn't cook crabs the local way, but they stabbed them and threw them into the pots. >> that was an obvious give away. >> the hackers, we'll talk to the former director of operations for u.s. cyber command about how the u.s. is trying to track down the cyber criminals who caused so much havoc. more "doing chores for dad" per roll more "earning something you love" per roll bounty is more absorbent, so the roll can last 50% longer than the leading ordinary brand.
the u.s. government is confirming for first time the names of the russian hackers who were suspected in the alleged interference in the u.s. elections. nbc news confirms both are wanted by the fbi. bogachev is wanted for racketeering and bank fraud as well. and the fbi says belan is charged with numerous computer related crimes as well as aggravated theft. and joining me is mr. williams from the u.s. cyber command. the department of homeland security released a report on the russian hacking campaign
that was known as grizzly step. can you cliffs note this for us? what most important information did we learn from the report? >> thanks very much. i would take two major points out of that report. first, it was very pointed in its description of russian activities in cyberspace. not just as it pertains to the activities around the election. but the activities that they are taking as cyber against universities and government institutions and in fact the destructive attacks that have been attributed to the russians in the ukraine and others as far as critical infrastructure and those sorts of things. so point one is the russians have integrated cyber into the national security policy and they're playing by a different set of rules than we are. we really have to think about how we would do that. the second thing i would take out -- go ahead. >> go ahead, sorry i interrupted. >> the second major point is that i would argue the dnc and
the clinton campaign were woefully unprepared for this because as you read through that joint analysis report, there was nothing cosmic or super technical about how the russians gained access into that information environment. it was spear fishing. it was links, it was the sort of things that we talk about every day. >> spear fishing and links means you click on the wrong place and you give up your data, right? >> exactly. don't get me wrong. these were sophisticated e-mails that would entice you to click on that link and the link looks very realistic. but if there was the right culture and the right leadership i think when this campaign started, they would have said, hey, look, cyber, that's a potential strategic risk for us. >> right. >> and we are going to be all over these types of things to train our users not to be subject to these type of an attack. >> and major general williams, you say that the u.s. has sort of failed to this point to
define a post cold war strategy against russia as it relates to cyber specifically. you say we have been too reactive. what is the real risk in that right now for the united states unless things change more urgently? >> i think the -- you know, the large strategic picture i'd up on -- pick up on what the admiral said, can we get away in the first 15 years or so, but in the last eight years russia has democrat on straighted it's got a strategy and we're reactive. it took us a couple of months to decide that the reaction is to this. i know there were arguments in the white house about the executive order, did the rules that we had set up for ourselves allow us to respond? so being reactive in cyberspace the problem is that we haven't really figured it out how to
deter somebody in cyberspace. we have to understand what it is we'll do to first defend ourselves and deny people the capability to take advantage of us and we have to ta it seriously both in our government and in our business sector. and then secondly we have to know very quickly what we're going to do as question get initial indications of something happening. again i'm concerned about potential for attacks on our critical infrastructure. the things that we see the russians and the chinese doing in other countries you have to assume those are dress rehearsals for things they'd like to do with to the united states. >> thank you for your time on this day. coming up an insider's view. the first cia officer to interrogate saddam hussein after his capture, and gives a rebuke of the culture inside the cia. you're watching msnbc. itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order
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♪ but when we brought our daughter home, that was it. now i have nicoderm cq. the nicoderm cq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. it's the best thing that ever happened to me. every great why needs a great how. just three weeks out to his inauguration donald trump questioning whether russia was behind the hacking of the u.s. elections, dismissing findings from the intelligence community. after the cia concluded russia intervened to help trump win, his team slammed the agency saying these are the people who said saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. joining me is the author of "debriefing the president, the interrogation of saddam
hussein." fitting day to have you here. today is the anniversary of his death. you were the first to interrogate him. what are your memories of the moment of being face to face with him? >> if anybody said to me i would talk to him someday i would have thought they were crazy. that's what happened. it was an intense, almost surreal experience. he could be very funny, charming. one of the mast charismatic individuals. i also saw a vicious, nasty, arrogant side. >> you said he was thoroughly unlikable but you came away with a grudging respect. how so? >> that's a view of mine that evolved over time. when i left him in 2004, i remember thinking, gosh, i'm so
glad i don't have to talk to him anymore. on the other hand, ten years later after seeing what happened in iraq and what's become of the country i came away with a grudging respect that he was able to keep it together for so long. >> you said he told me before me there was only bickering and arguing. i made people agree. playing monday morning quarterback now, what would have happened if there was a different outcome, if we left him in power? you say it's one of the provocative questions that needs to be considered. >> if saddam were sti in power he would be getting on in years, maybe would not be alive and there would have been a transition to maybe a new generation of what have you, but it would have been an iraqi solution. that would be better than the american solution imposed on the country and the chaos that ensued. >> what are the lessons that can be learned from your experiences and from our experience broadly as a country invading iraq?
>> one is that whether people are our friends or enemies we have to talk to everybody. you know, having an embassy in iraq might have helped us. >> even the leaders we abhor? >> yes, absolutely. something we have -- we have talked to bad people before and we can again. the other thing is u.s. military does many great things for us. sometimes problems need diplomatic or political solutions. we shouldn't be reaching for our m-16 every time a problem erupts in the world. >> let me ask you about donald trump and the language he's used. he hasn't disguised his dismissal at times of the intelligence community. in 21 days the intel community, he'll be their primary customer. how does this relationship evolve? how do we -- what should we anticipate and what's the challenge for both sides? >> well, both sides despite the rhetoric we hear, both sides need each other. to be honest with you, both
sides have a unique opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. i think one of the things president trump could do is signal his support for the intelligence community and tell them he wants to protect them and keep them out of politics and what the cia can do is say, yes, please. we'll give you our best advice always. we don't want to play politics either. the cia does best when it leaves politics at the door. >> as you say, the bottom line is there are improvements to be made on both sides going forward. >> absolutely. the book is an incredible story. on this day, ten years since his execution, more timely. thank you. >> thank you for having me. still to come, vladimir putin taking a pass a day after the u.s. imposes new sanctions on russia and expels three dozen russian officials from america. the kremlin, declining to reciprocate. we'll look into it next on msnbc. ied an italian. my lineage was the vecchios and zuccolis. through ancestry,
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that will do it for us this hour. follow me on twitter. i'll see you tonight on "nightly news." hallie jackson is next on msnbc. if i don't see you have a happy, healthy new year. >> you, too. good luck on nightly tonight. i'm hallie jackson here from windy west balm beach in florida where president-elect donald trump is spending the last few days of 2016. we are starting with a lot of developing news.
in the past 90 minutes u.s. officials closed down a russian-owned compound in new york expected to close another in the eastern shore of maryland this afternoon. 35 russian diplomats now have until the end of the weekend to get out of the country. but russian president vladimir putin in a surprise move is ruling out retaliation for the new u.s. sanctions on russia. at least for now. we are also watching the monster storm pummelling the northeast. deadly now. one person killed. hundreds of thousands now without power as the nor'easter dumps more than two feet of snow across new england. cities around the world are ready for new year's celebrations tomorrow night. that means boosting security with fears of potential terror attacks. we have a lot to get to starting with russia and vladimir putin. guaranteed to be tops on the political agenda in the new year. senator john mccain planning armed services hearings featuring top personnel from the intelligence committees.