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Russian Hacking Conspiracy Theory; Another Neighborhood Reclaim in Aleppo; Hero of the Year Jeison Aristizabal. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 12, 2016 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:31:36] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President-elect Donald Trump has just tweeted something out this morning that we think is very relevant to the conversation that we've been having. He says, "can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and we tried to play the Russia CIA card, it would be called conspiracy theories. Unless you catch hackers in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn't this brought up before the election?"

Let's get "The Bottom Line" on Russia's meddling with "New York Times" national security correspondent David Sanger.

David, thanks so much for being here and sharing your reporting with us.

Is it fair to say that all of the intelligence agencies have concluded that, yes, Russia meddled? Is this still an open question?

DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No, that wasn't and -- and it wasn't an open question before the election, which is what's interesting about the president-elect's tweet that you just read. And, obviously, the intelligence community, led by the director of National Intelligence and backed up by the Department of Homeland Security, turned out a statement on October 7th saying that the Russians were responsible at the highest levels for the attacks on the DNC, and the -- the stealing of other e-mails. They did not come to the conclusion at that time about what the motive was, other than to try to disrupt the electoral process. In other words, undercut the integrity of it. It was only after the election that the CIA, in briefing Congress, said that their assessment had changed, they would say evolved, and they now actually believed the Russians in the latter stages of the campaign were trying to support Mr. Trump and undercut Secretary Clinton.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So is what we're seeing from the Trump team here, that they can't separate supporting the fact finding that Russia was involved with the political implication that somehow this means Trump's win was nullified, which I'm not hearing suggested by any credible source, even on the Democratic side?

SANGER: No, I'm not either. And, you know, I don't think anybody believes, at least that I have interviewed, that this would overturn the election. I've run into some of Secretary Clinton's supporters who believe that it was one of several factors that contributed to her defeat.

CUOMO: But it seems that this is what's driving the president-elect. I mean even when you look at what he said about this, with Chris Wallace, "I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it." It seems to me like he's speaking to the, you only won because of Russia, which again we're not reporting. I haven't heard from any credible source saying that. But that he is therefore overlooking what is a dangerous ignoring of fact that Russia was behind this. And this is something that was said, what, almost two months ago by Clapper.

SANGER: It was said in October and we reported in the "Times" in July that the intelligence community had concluded with high confidence that the hacks on the DNC were Russian. So, there is nothing new about that. And, of course, President-elect Trump responded to some of that on the campaign trail.

You know, you could imagine an alternative set of responses in which he or anybody else who had won the presidency or even somebody who had lost the presidency said, look, the election results were what they were. We believe they were legitimate. We don't think this made a difference. But we need a serious investigation into whether a foreign power was attempting to alter the results, and come up with a set of protocols and a strategy to prevent that from happening again, whether it was Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or somebody else who we -- has considerable cyber capability.

[08:35:22] CAMEROTA: But, David, how does the CIA know what Russia's motives were? We just had our FBI expert, Tom Fuentes, on and he said that, you know, the FBI has to deal in facts. They have to go into a court. They have a law enforcement foundation. They need actual proof and the CIA can operate more on like a hunch. So how do they know what Russia's motives were and that they wanted Donald Trump elected?

SANGER: You ask a superb question. And I think he's got a very good point. The FBI is a domestic law enforcement agency and when they go and do prosecutions, they have to do it with the thought of getting to beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not the standard used by intelligence agencies, which are asked to come up with faster analysis, and analysis that is not necessarily going to hold up in, you know, in a court level of proof. And so that could be part of it.

The second thing is, foreign intelligence agencies can do something that the FBI cannot do, which is, they can go look into the implants they may have in foreign computer networks. They can listen to the conversations they may have tapped of foreign leaders or others abroad. And so they can gather the information at that end. And as we've learned in past cases, they don't always share with the FBI, which is one of the -- was one of the big problems that we ran into in the run-up to 9/11. So it's entirely possible that the FBI and the intelligence agencies are working from a different fact base here.

CUOMO: So it seems like this is a moment where you should have unanimity of intent here, which is the American officials getting on board together to stop this Russian influence, and yet you have the president-elect, somewhat fighting against it. And as a result, David, you seem to have this new alliance being formed among Republicans and Democrats on this issue. What happens going forward if you have Congress kind of taking this on themselves in defiance of the president and they wind up having high ground because it seems pretty clear they're in the right, that Russia was meddling?

SANGER: You know, I -- it's pretty fascinating for just the reasons you lay out. So what's going to happen in the next five or six weeks? President Obama ordered, we learned on Friday, a study done by the intelligence community that will be delivered to him before he leaves office. And that study is supposed to look at everything that was known and the lessons learned from it. Clearly what he's trying to do is box in the president-elect by at least making public part of those findings so that they know what the intelligence community believes at the end of the Obama term. Then you're seeing Senator McCain, Senator Graham --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

SANGER: A number of Democrats say that there will be hearings and some effort to have a congressional investigation. That will go on into the beginning of Mr. Trump's term. And that's going to be pretty fascinating because you -- they're going to be coming to conclusions that I suspect the president-elect has made clear already he's not interested in hearing.

CAMEROTA: David Sanger, thank you very much for sharing all of your reporting with us.

SANGER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, still ahead, the fight for Aleppo. Syrian government forces say the battle is almost over. But in a way, that means the hard work is only just about to begin. What do you do about hundreds of thousands of displaced people with nowhere to live and no hope for the future? A live report, next.

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[08:42:55] CUOMO: All right, the fighting in Aleppo may be in its final stages. It seems Syrian government forces are tightening their grip on the city, at least the eastern part of it, reclaiming yet another neighborhood as tens of thousands are now running for their lives, in addition to the hundreds of thousands who were already fleeing.

CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen spent the weekend in Aleppo.

What is the situation on the ground, my friend?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's absolutely devastating, Chris, and, you know, it's getting devastating by the hour from what we're hearing. You're absolutely right, the rebels did get out of one of their key neighborhoods and apparently have withdrawn from other areas, as well. It looks almost like it's almost like an all-out collapse of many of those rebel defenses. There's people that we've been speaking to who are in with the Syrian military who say they believe that the operation in Aleppo could be in the final stages, and certainly that does almost certainly appear to be the case.

Now, the civilians there, you know, it's hard to describe just how bad their situation is. When we were on the front line there in the south of Aleppo, we saw tens of thousands coming across that front line despite the battles going on, despite the fact that there were mortars being launched, that there were war planes in the skies. And many of them were absolutely malnourished. They were tired. They were sick. And they were, of course, very scared. And all they were looking for is to try to get to some place to safety.

Now, it's absolutely unclear what's going to happen to them in the future. Are they going to be able to go back? Are they going to get the care that they need. Certainly, Syria and the international aid groups are struggling to do that. So a really devastating situation there in Aleppo. And then to make matters worse in Syria, ISIS is also on the march again and has managed to take back the ancient town of Palmyra.

CAMEROTA: All right, Fred, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Still ahead, get the tissues ready because the hero of heroes is here. The 2016 CNN Hero of the Year crowned last night is going to join us live and you're going to find out what he did to rise to the top of a field of amazing and selfless people.

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[08:48:39] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY RIPA, CO-HOST, "CNN HEROES: ALL-STAR TRIBUTE": And the 2016 CNN Cero of the Year is Jeison--

ANDERSON COOPER, CO-HOST, "CNN HEROES: ALL-STAR TRIBUTE": Jeison --

RIPA AND COOPER: Aristizabal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Each year, CNN honors everyday people making extraordinary contributions around the world. And this year, you, the viewers, you voted, and you chose Jeison Aristizabal. He is with us. Born with cerebral palsy. It has only become the motivation for an amazing life. He's helping to educate disabled children and give them hope for a better future. Here's a little bit of what he said in his acceptance speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEISON ARISTIZABAL, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR (through translator): He can't believe it. Hello to Colombia. Hello to all the families that have a child with a disability. I want to tell you that yes you can. You can dream, and you can achieve your dreams. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). Oh, this is great.

We have the hero of the year along with us right now, and his translator, Julio Gonzales, is with us. It's great to have you both here. So, what does this mean for your important work going forward?

[08:50:08] JULIO GONZALES, TRANSLATOR: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

JEISON ARISTIZABAL, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

GONZALES: It's huge work. It's been a work in progress for 15 years and it's a door that's -- that's going to open to help many, many children.

CAMEROTA: Let's show people exactly what Jeison has devoted his life to. So take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARISTIZABAL (through translator): Many children with disabilities in Awablanca (ph) grow up with no type of opportunity, because families don't know how to take care of them. They think that it's God's punishment. It's very important to change that way of thinking.

I began doing therapy out of my parents' garage. The foundation now has its own location. We have therapy services, medical treatment, school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. That is just beautiful. There wasn't a dry eye in the place last night when we watched Jeison's work. Why was Jason able to overcome his own disability to help others?

GONZALES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

ARISTIZABAL: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

GONZALES: First and foremost, it's his family support. His parents have been huge support in his life and they have always told him that, yes, you can. He can achieve anything he wants.

CUOMO: And he's carrying that same message forward. He's also finishing his doctorate in law. He's going to be a lawyer. Why? What tool will that give him?

GONZALES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

ARISTIZABAL: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

GONZALES: He -- it's very exciting for him because, you know, he saw that there were a lot of laws that hindered kids from getting the medical, you know, treatment that they needed and so -- and that got him interested in law.

CAMEROTA: So --

ARISTIZABAL: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

GONZALES: There's these -- there's this short form of like petitions, almost, like you see in the United States.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

GONZALES: With the goal of, you know, getting health care to these kids that didn't have any access to it and --

CUOMO: Have to do it through the courts and you need to know the laws. So he's going to be a better advocate that way.

GONZALES: Right. And he -- and he started off doing those and he would win them and that's what got him interested in law and pursuing that further now as, you know, with a law degree.

CAMEROTA: Wow. So what was last night like for him? To be at that, you know, sort of, fancy dinner where there were celebrities and there were also all of the other heroes?

GONZALES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

ARISTIZABAL: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

GONZALES: He was very, very happy and very impressed, because that was a night of recognition for a work in progress for many years.

CAMEROTA: Ah, it was so great to spend last night with you. Congratulations. Thank you for doing all of your important, impressive, inspiring work. It was really, really wonderful.

GONZALES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

ARISTIZABAL: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

GONZALES: He says thank you, thank you very much, CNN, and everybody involved. That he has been getting calls since 5:30 in the morning from people in Colombia (INAUDIBLE) --

CUOMO: Good. Tell him to take every call and to ask everybody for money so he can continue his work.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes.

GONZALES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, by the way, people can still go -- I think go on the website and find out how to contribute and continue to contribute to your great project.

CUOMO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: All right, late night laughs, next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:58:44] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": We have some breaking news tonight. President-elect Trump has just made his choice for head of the DEA, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and it's a high school science teacher from New Mexico named Walter Wright (ph). He joins us now.

Do you know anything about drug enforcement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Oh, trust me, I know the DEA better than anyone, inside and out.

Donald Trump and I agree, it's time to make America cook again.

We want to fill this nation with red, white, and a whole lot of blue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Good morning, Mr. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Huge, huge success. Fantastic. Victory. Landslide. Fox News.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": In fashion, (INAUDIBLE) and long red ties have been (INAUDIBLE) --

ON SCREEN NEWSPAPER HEADLINE: "False Report, Biased."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: I don't exactly get it, but I think that it's funny. That was -- that was through Donald Trump's lens, how he sees the world.

CUOMO: Let's give our twister feed -- Twitter feeds a rest. Let's let -- let's let Carol Costello figure out what it -- all means.

[09:00:01] CAMEROTA: That's a great --

CUOMO: It's time for the "Newsroom" with you.

CAMEROTA: As we do every day.

CUOMO: You can tell people whether or not that was parody or that was reality.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: OK, I'm going to be thinking about that through my whole show. You guys have a great day. NEWSROOM starts now.