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China 'Seriously Concerned' by Trump's Comments on Taiwan; Interview with Sen. Angus King; CIA & FBI Differ on Russian Interference. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired December 12, 2016 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with Donald Trump tangling with China and his own intelligence agencies. The president-elect insisting Democrats are behind the CIA's claim that Russia tried to influence the U.S. election in his favor. He calls the finding ridiculous, even though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for a bipartisan investigation.
[07:00:12] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This as Mr. Trump increases tensions with Beijing, questioning America's need to adhere to a one- China policy. Chinese state officials lashing out at the president- elect, calling him, quote, "an ignorant child."
This is just 39 days before inauguration day. CNN has the transition covered, starting with Jason Carroll live from Trump Tower in Manhattan. Good morning, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Alisyn.
The Chinese government has made it very clear that the one-China policy is essential to U.S.-Chinese relations. Meanwhile, the president-elect also challenging U.S. intelligence showing Russia was behind the hacking during the election.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it.
CARROLL (voice-over): Fiercely attacking the credibility of the Central Intelligence Agency, the president-elect dismissing the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the election to help him win.
TRUMP: They have no idea if it's Russia or China. Could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace.
CARROLL: And claiming, without offering specifics, the analysis is politically motivated.
TRUMP: I think the Democrats are putting it out, because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.
CARROLL: But it's not just Democrats. A group of bipartisan senators are joining forces, calling for Congress to launch an in-depth probe into Russia's tampering, saying the reports "should alarm every American" and urging cyberattacks "cannot become a partisan issue."
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay a price.
CARROLL: This as speculation continues over Trump's nomination for secretary of state. Multiple sources familiar with the transition telling CNN ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson has emerged as the frontrunner.
TRUMP: He's much more than a business executive. I mean, he's a world-class player.
CARROLL: The possible nomination already sparking sharp criticism from some in the GOP establishment, concerned about Tillerson's own ties to Russia. In 2013 Tillerson was awarded Russia's top honor for foreigners, the Order of Friendship, from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's a matter of concern to me that he has such a close, personal relationship with Vladimir Putin.
CARROLL: Florida Senator Marco Rubio blasting Trump's pick, tweeting, "Being a friend of Vladimir is not an attribute I am hoping for from a secretary of state."
And the president-elect, again, showing his willingness to challenge China, questioning whether the U.S. should keep its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of one China.
TRUMP: I fully understand the one-China policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy, unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.
CARROLL: And the Chinese foreign ministry releasing a statement, Alisyn, basically saying, in part, that the one-China policy is basically the bedrock between the United States and China, saying in part, "We urge the new administration and its new leadership to stick to the one-China policy."
Also, on a side note that the Trump campaign also taking some heat and some criticism for not taking as many daily briefings as past president-elects, to which part the president-elect says, Alisyn, basically he doesn't need briefings on a day-to-day basis, basically saying weekly might be OK for now, saying he is a, quote, "smart person" -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: We'll be analyzing all of that, Jason. Thanks so much for the reporting.
Seventeen intelligence agencies conclude that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, but the CIA and the FBI differ on why. Let's bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr to break down the conflicting information. Help us understand this, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
The why is the big question. What did Russia do and why did they do it?
Now, the CIA, by all accounts, believes that the Russians were trying to steer the election to Donald Trump. Why does the CIA come to this conclusion? That is because the information, the hacked information that was put out in public was only from hacking the Democrats. The CIA believes Republican entities were also hacked, that the Russians had that information but only put out information about the Democrats.
What does the FBI say about this? The FBI is not so sure that the RNC itself was hacked, but maybe some entity, some third-party entity that was holding some Republican data. The Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer very adamant about this, speaking over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:05:05] SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: If the CIA is so conclude -- convinced of this, why won't they go on the record and say that it was, as they did with the DNC? This is -- I mean, I believe that there are people within these agencies that are upset with the outcome of the election and are pushing a personal agenda. But the facts don't add up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: So some people saying this is all politics, maybe at the hands of the Democrats. The intelligence community really convinced that the Russians were behind it. President Obama now calling for an investigation into all of this before he leaves office.
And as we've been talking about, now a bipartisan consensus also growing in Congress that this is so serious that the U.S. government really does have to get to the bottom of it all -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, thank you very much.
Let's bring in independent senator from Maine Angus King. Senator King sits on the Senate select committees on intelligence and armed services.
Senator, thank you for joining us.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Hi, Chris.
CUOMO: We are of the understanding that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have been briefed. We're not hearing from any of you disputing the basic intel that Russia was involved in the hacking attempts on the U.S. election.
But because of the president-elect's questioning of even that basic understanding, do you think proof of the hacking and Russia's involvement should be made public to the American people?
KING: Absolutely. And Chris, on those two points, it has been made public. Back in October, Jim Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and Jeh Johnson at homeland security released an extraordinary statement. It kind of got lost in the midst of the campaign at the time. But it concluded very clearly that Russia was behind the hacking. They were behind the leaks. It was intended -- the word they used was "interfere with our election" and that the decision to do so came from the highest levels of the U.S. [SIC] government. I'm not...
CUOMO: That is a conclusion, not proof. That's a conclusion. It's not their basis for the conclusion.
KING: Well, and that's why I think we need to have hearings. I think that's exactly why John McCain and Chuck Schumer and others on a bipartisan basis have said let's have -- let's have the hearings and try to get to the bottom of it.
Now, there is a challenge, Chris, from the point of view of intelligence, and that is sometimes, if you give all the evidence, you're giving away your methods and sources of getting that evidence. And that's always a danger when you're talking about, we don't want to compromise good sources.
But I've got to tell you, here's this little bit of inside baseball. But Jim Clapper, who's the head of the -- who's the head of the, overall the director of national intelligence, all 17 agencies, a 53- year veteran of intelligence services for the United States of America through all administrations. If he says it, you can take it to the bank. He's about the least partisan and most straight shooter I've seen in Washington.
So, to dispute and blow off what he said, I guess I would say, if you blow off what Jim Clapper is telling you, you do so at your peril.
CUOMO: What do you say, the same agency told America that there were weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of 2003. It turned out to be wrong. Why should they believe him now?
KING: Well, there is a difference. And what we're talking about here is not the agency. There's a lot of -- I think we need to -- there's the CIA. But the intelligence community which Jim Clapper speaks for and which issued that statement is 17 different agencies that reached a consensus position, including the FBI. So, to say, well, that's -- it's sort of confusing to say, "Well, the CIA made a mistake." Of course, people make mistakes.
I've got to tell you, I've read a lot of intelligence briefings. That statement they put out in October is one of the more unequivocal that I've seen. There just doesn't seem to be much doubt that the Russians were involved.
There are questions about what their motivations were, and that is something yet to be fully determined. And that's one of the reasons I think people need to say -- say that we have some hearings. This is really serious. This -- what if they had parachuted eight
guys into Washington and broken into the building and carried the computers out under their arms? That's effectively what they did. This is -- this is an attack on democracy, and it's absolutely consistent with what they're doing around the world.
CUOMO: What do you say to the president-elect about his resistance to what you say is definitive?
KING: Well, I think he ought to sit down with some of the top people -- and I keep coming back to Jim Clapper, who has such credibility -- and take a deep breath and listen to this. I think he's too defensive right now, and I can understand that. This is -- these are -- this is serious business. But, you know, this is not a partisan issue.
I met last week with a group of people from the Baltic states, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. They said -- they said welcome to the club. I mean, they're been -- they've been experiencing this for years.
[07:10:03] And the interesting thing they said, Chris -- and I think this goes to the hearings and the declassification of this information. I said, "How do you guys defend yourself against Russia meddling like this?"
They said, "We defend ourselves by everybody in the country knowing about it, understanding it, knowing, hey, there go the Russians, again. And that's the best defense." And that's why we need to get this out in the open so the American people understand what's going on here and what they're trying to do.
CUOMO: You spend so much time gathering intelligence and understanding it. What do you make of the president-elect's comments that he doesn't need a briefing every day?
KING: Well, I've got to tell you, in my experience, when you have to make difficult decisions -- and he's, you know, he's a member of Congress times 100 in terms of difficult decisions -- I want the best data I can get, and I want it as soon as I can get it; and I don't want it filtered through a lot of other people.
I just -- you know, I'm not going to criticize him for it. I just think it's a mistake, because it's the -- it's the basis of these very important decisions he's going to -- he's going to have to make. And to not have that direct face-to-face briefing every day, I just think is a mistake and will cost him when he makes a decision based on what somebody on his staff filtered the information.
CUOMO: Do you think the president-elect being in somewhat of an apparent denial about Russia's role in the hacking here is going to jeopardize Rex Tillerson as a potential secretary of state pick if he is the nominee?
KING: Well, I think it certainly raises the question -- I almost said raises a red flag. I guess I shouldn't say that.
CUOMO: Too on the nose. Too on the nose, Senator.
KING: When you've got all these other questions swirling about what's the policy with Russia, who by the way, is an adversary. Let's be clear: they are an adversary. They are trying to upset democracy all over the world, and certainly they're trying to do so here.
And -- and the fact that Mr. Tillerson seems to have such deep relationships, both business and personal, in Russia and with Putin himself is a real question that's going to have to be addressed in depth at his confirmation hearings.
I'm going to take them one at a time, Chris, and I'm going to go to a lot of the hearings, even though I may not be on the -- on the committee, just to listen to these folks' answers and to try to get a flavor of what their policies are.
But clearly, naming someone as secretary of state with these close ties to Russia certainly raises questions.
CUOMO: Senator, please keep us in the loop in what you come to understand about what hearings are going to be on this Russia matter. A lot of us are going to want to be down there.
Thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY.
KING: Will do, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Well, China not waiting until the inauguration to weigh in on Donald Trump. So what does Mr. Trump's transition team say about China's serious concerns? We talk to them, next.
[07:16:57] CAMEROTA: The president-elect's transition team making an announcement at this hour, officially nominating retired General John Kelly as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Let's bring in a member of Mr. Trump's transition committee to talk about all of the other possibilities. We have Anthony Scaramucci here to discuss. Morning, Anthony.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM MEMBER: Alisyn, good morning.
CAMEROTA: OK, so John Kelly, we had already heard that name obviously floated. We know that Mr. Trump is a big fan. But now it has been made official.
Of course, the question still lingers about secretary of state. That's the big question that everybody wants to know, if they'll have an announcement this week.
Let's just talk about the person who seems to be the frontrunner, at least from where we sit, and that is Rex Tillerson. I'll put up what we know about him. He's long been the ExxonMobil and CEO. He's 64 years old. He was set to retire from that post next year. He's a free trade proponent, and we also know that he has a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. They have done business deals together. In fact, he received the Order of Friendship from Vladimir Putin.
Before we get to whether or not he is the pick, I just want to put up what Senator Marco Rubio has said about the possibility of Rex Tillerson. He tweeted yesterday, "Being a" -- quote "'friend of Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for from a secretary of state."
Is Rex Tillerson the next secretary of state?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I -- I can't comment on whether or not he's the next secretary of state. I think it's really up to the president- elect to comment on that.
But what I can say about Rex Tillerson is that this man has had a phenomenal career. You have to remember, Alisyn, that he joined Exxon right out of college. He spent his whole career there. This is one of the most successful companies in the world, and he's doing business on six of the seven continents. So I would say not only does he have a relationship with Vladimir Putin, but there's probably 160 nations where Exxon is doing business; and my guess is that Mr. Tillerson has relationships with most of the heads of states in those areas.
SCARAMUCCI: Moreover, other secretaries of state like Condoleezza Rice and Secretary Jim Baker, Secretary Rice and Baker have recommended him as a person that would be great at this job. I don't...
CAMEROTA: OK, that's good to know. And does it worry you that Senator Rubio, it sounds like, as well as possibly Senator McCain, Lindsey Graham, that they would not necessarily support him and his -- that pick?
SCARAMUCCI: See, I don't get the -- I don't get that indication at all that they're not going to support him. I think what they're doing is they're raising issues. They're responsible people in the Senate. They have a job to cross rough all of our nominees. And so I just think that they're raising the issue.
I do believe, if it should come to pass that he is named secretary of state and they get to meet him and interact with him, they will see that he's an America-first sort of person. He is somebody that is a phenomenal negotiator and will bring those negotiating skills, on behalf of the American people, to the State Department.
[07:20:04] Moreover, as you and I have talked about before, Alisyn, we need to look carefully at the State Department. You've got a $65.9 billion budget there.
CAMEROTA: Yes. SCARAMUCCI: This is a man that's running a $370 billion company. And we believe, if he ultimately gets that job, he's the right type of person to rigorously look through that department and help us shrink it a little bit as it relates to its costs and make it more efficient.
So, there's a combination of things there with Mr. Tillerson that I know that the president-elect likes a lot.
SCARAMUCCI: But I didn't say he's the choice, because we don't know that yet.
CAMEROTA: Do you agree with the CIA and the FBI that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential race?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I've looked at all of this information, and even before I came on this morning I was looking at our daily brief. And it's still a little bit inconclusive. And so, I'm not here to say it happened or...
CAMEROTA: How? Just help me understand. How is it inconclusive when the CIA and, as you know, 17 intelligence agencies say it happened?
SCARAMUCCI: OK. But there's been no source attributed to those people, No. 1.
And No. 2, the FBI is a little bit murky on it. And so...
CAMEROTA: They're murky on why. I hear you. There's a difference in terms of motive. They're murky on why. But they also think...
SCARAMUCCI: They're murky on why, but...
CAMEROTA: ... there was meddling by Russia.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. Alisyn, when it is finally conclusive, I am very confident that the president-elect is going to make a statement about it. But I think right now we're looking at it and waiting.
I think one of the things that we're not upset about, but one of the things that we're calling into question is why is this coming out right now? Is it a White House staffer that's leaking it? It seems very odd to us that someone inside the CIA, which is the most prominent secret intelligence agency...
SCARAMUCCI: ... in the United States, would have somebody in there leaking it. And so, we just need to understand where it's...
CAMEROTA: Well, the CIA -- I mean, the CIA is on the record saying that they actually didn't want to sway the presidential race the way they felt James Comey did, so that's why they announced it afterwards.
SCARAMUCCI: I understand that, Alisyn, but again, until this stuff is completely validated and fully substantiated, I think it's inappropriate for us to comment on it and super speculating.
Here's what I do know. The president-elect won that election fair and square. It was an Electoral College landslide, and that's how you win the presidency. And, so we'll wait until we get all the information, and then we'll comment on it very fairly and succinctly.
CAMEROTA: Sure. I hear you. But if it turns out that, yes, you can confirm from these 17 intelligence agencies that Russia did, in fact, meddle, then what would President-elect Trump do?
SCARAMUCCI: Alisyn, I think we've got to -- again, I think we've got to wait for the information. It's not -- I don't want to shirk the question, but I think it's unfair to throw up a speculative balloon like that and then ask us to speculate on it.
What I'd like to focus on is John Kelly, General John Kelly, who I think is going to be a phenomenal Department of Homeland Security person, who's going to work terrifically with Secretary of Defense Mattis in helping to keep the American people safe, lowering the drug importation into the United States, securing the border, making our workers and working families feel safer with their jobs.
SCARAMUCCI: There's a whole host of things that we're working on here at Trump Tower that I think are more important than that issue right now.
CAMEROTA: OK, so then...
SCARAMUCCI: So when it is time to comment on that, I hope you'll invite me back on, and I'll be very happy to explain to your viewers our position on that and how we think about it.
CAMEROTA: OK, that's a deal. So let's do a lightning round of transition teams, since that is your expertise.
CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani. Where is he? What position might he get?
SCARAMUCCI: You know, I think it's early to say. I know that the president-elect is very fond of the mayor, as all of us are here. They attended the Army/Navy game together over the weekend. I still think that there's a role for the mayor inside the administration, as long as he wants one.
SCARAMUCCI: The president-elect is one of the most loyal people I ever met in my life. And I would say this about the mayor. When times were rough during the campaign, he was there for all of us and there for the president-elect; and he's a very competent, very talented guy. And so my guess is he will get a terrific role, just probably won't be the secretary of state, primarily because he pulled himself out of that consideration. CAMEROTA: Right, right.
SCARAMUCCI: And we respect that. So, that's lightning round No. 1. Keep going, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Well, I wish I could. My producers are wrapping me, so we'll have you back...
CAMEROTA: ... because I have other lightning round questions for you.
Anthony Scaramucci, thanks so much.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. Thanks for having me.
CUOMO: So why is team Trump reluctant to accept the CIA's report that Russia meddled in the election? Not this division on why they might have meddled but that they were involved at all?
[07:25:05] Michael Smerconish discusses with us, next.
CAMEROTA: Turkish forces pounding Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. This comes after Saturday's car bombing and suicide bombing moments apart in Istanbul left more than 40 people dead, most of them police officers. This was after thousands of fans had left a soccer game. It is believed the attackers targeted the police patrolling that stadium area. A splinter group of the Kurdistan Workers' Party has claimed responsibility.
CUOMO: Funeral services are under way for some of the parishioners killed in the bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Cairo, Egypt. It happened during Sunday services. Twenty-five people at least were killed. Nearly 50 others were hurt. No claim of responsibility yet.
CAMEROTA: A two-day mourning period in Nigeria after a weekend church collapse that killed at least 50 worshippers. The roof came crashing down during dedication ceremonies for the church, which was still under construction. The governor was among the dignitaries inside. He has ordered the immediate arrest of the contractor and is setting up a task force to figure out what went wrong.