Return to Transcripts main page


Parade of Familiar Faces; Press Conference Re-scheduled; Rex Tillerson as Trump's Secretary of State; Catch Hackers by Act.. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 13, 2016 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to make America great again. So, I want to thank you, Wisconsin, god bless you, Merry Christmas.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Donald Trump's Merry Christmas USA thank you tour. Sounding a lot like the greatest hits from his campaign.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

While the president-elect is in the heartland, Washington is buzzing over his choice for secretary of state. Exxon Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson. Do Tillerson's ties to Vladimir Putin signal a new Russian reset. And is that good news or is it bad news?

Meanwhile, the parade of familiar faces at Trump Tower rolling on today. That's former Texas Governor that you should be looking at right there. There he is, Rick Perry, tapped to be energy secretary. He'd be heading up an energy he once tried to eliminate.

And then there's Kanye West. Probably the only person to visit Trump Tower in the past few weeks who doesn't want a job, maybe. So what's behind all of this?


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: I just wanted to take a picture right now.


LEMON: OK. Let's go right to CNN's Jim Acosta in Wisconsin for us this evening. Jim, good evening to you. It's almost too much to believe.


LEMON: You're covering another so-called thank you rally.

ACOSTA: Yes. LEMON: This one in Wisconsin, a pivotal state in Trump's victory. How did it go?

ACOSTA: Well, there were no Kanye sightings here, Don. But there are some Christmas trees behind me. And you can -- you can -- I guess say that Donald Trump was in sort of the Christmas spirit tonight. Although I think he feels it's better to receive a lectured victories than to give them.

He was giving sort of a play by play of his election night victory on November 8th. Gobbling up about 22 minutes of this 50 or so minute rally. Talking about his victory on election night. But he also used this rally to defend some of the decisions he's made as president- elect.

Most specifically, Rex Tillerson, as secretary of state. He announced that earlier today. And he talked about Tillerson's presence on the world stage. His contacts with world leaders. Even some world leaders that he mentions the United States does not get along with.

Though, Donald Trump did not mention one name in particular, and that is Russian President Vladimir Putin who has a long relationship with Rex Tillerson.

Here's more of how Donald Trump put it tonight here in Wisconsin.


TRUMP: Rex will be a fierce advocate for America's interest around the world and has the insights and talents necessary to help reverse years of foreign policy blunders and disasters.


Blunders and disasters. Very excited about Rex. And you know Rex is friendly with many of the leaders in the world that we don't get along with. And some people don't like that. They don't want him to be friendly.


ACOSTA: And as you know, Don, earlier today, Donald Trump did announce some other cabinet selection picks. Energy secretary Rick Perry. That's the choice that Donald Trump is making for the energy department.

And we also learn that Ryan Zinke, a republican Congressman from Montana has been tapped for interior secretary. And there are other auditions going on at Trump Tower.

We understand Katrina Pierson, who is a spokesperson for the campaign during that long election cycle, she was at Trump Tower earlier today. We were told to talk about the position of press secretary as well as other positions in the administration, Don.

LEMON: OK. So, Paul Ryan was by his side tonight. Are they on the same page now, Jim?

ACOSTA: That's right. On the same page, that is a tricky question. As we saw during the campaign, they were not on the same page. As a matter of fact, there were times when Paul Ryan had to cancel campaign appearances with Donald Trump. He did not want to appear essentially by and large with Donald Trump during this election cycle.

But, he was here on stage tonight. There were a few boos for the house speaker. Some republicans here in Wisconsin who are still upset with the speaker of the house for not fully embracing Donald Trump throughout this campaign cycle.

And Donald Trump seemed to acknowledge some of those feelings in his own feelings about the house speaker. You know, there were times when they clashed publicly, privately, and always and at one point during this rally, Trump did praise Ryan though, in a somewhat unusual way. Here's what he had to say.


TRUMP: Speaker Paul Ryan, I've really come -- oh no. I've come to appreciate him. Speaker Paul Ryan. Where is the speaker? Where is he? He has been -- I'll tell you, he has been terrific. And you know, honestly, he's like a fine wine.

[22:04:57] Every day goes by, I get to appreciate his genius more and more. Now if he ever goes against me, I'm not going to say that, OK. He's a great guy. And we have some amazing things in store. And we're going to work on taxes, we're going to work on Obamacare, we're going to work on things and he's going to lead the way, so thank you.


ACOSTA: And that was not the only mention of rivals from the past, Don, at one point, Donald Trump was talking about Hillary Clinton and her election night party on November 8th that he said had Gucci fireworks waiting in the wings for her expected victory.

A lot of people around the world obviously thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. He described her fireworks there at the Javits Center as quote, Gucci fireworks. And then at one point, he seems to take a jab at her when he asked the crowd here whether anybody remembers her name.

So even though it's been more than a month since Donald Trump was elected president, he's still taking shots at Hillary Clinton. Still taking shots at the news media, and still relishing his victory on November 8th.

LEMON: It is Grucci brothers, with an R, right, and not Gucci, right, I think the fireworks, I'm pretty sure.

ACOSTA: I don't know.

LEMON: Yes, I think it's the Grucci brothers -- sorry.

ACOSTA: It sounded like Gucci from my -- where I was standing.

LEMON: I addition, let's get back on track.

ACOSTA: All right.

LEMON: In addition to the secretary of state, Trump has chosen an interior secretary, what can you tell us about him?

ACOSTA: Right. It is going to be the Montana republican Ryan Zinke, Congressman, former Navy SEAL. You know, we were hearing for about a week and a half that the number four speak -- number four republican in the house, Cathy McMorris Rodgers that she sort of had the inside track for that position of interior secretary.

And then sort of late in the selection process, Ryan Zinke's name was emerging as well as a congressman from Idaho Raul Labrador and seemed to be between those two candidates. At the end they went with Ryan Zinke.

According to a transition official they were pretty impressed with his interview. But one potential, you know, ramification from all of this, Don, is that there was some talk back in Montana that Ryan Zinke was going to challenge Montana Senator John Tester coming up in a couple of years.

So that would potentially take that off of the table. There might be some Montana republicans who aren't particularly happy about that. Although they're probably pretty pleased to see one of their own in the Trump cabinet. Given the assumption that everything should be just fine with Ryan Zinke being confirmed.

LEMON: Jim Acosta, with the news tonight. Jim, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now CNN's Fareed Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed, welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on.

So, listen, he has no political experience. He spent his life working to advance big oil for Exxon Mobil, but you don't think that necessarily disqualifies him, right?

FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS HOST: No. Big oil is a, it's a very political business. You know, there's no question with this nomination that the guy is competent. He runs the largest oil company in America. One of the largest companies in the world. They employ, you know, 80, 90,000 people. They're in more countries, I think than the State Department. They have their own internal intelligence agency like the CIA.

So he has, he's run a big organization with the State Department is very large. So, he has all the attributes you'd like for. He comes highly recommended. I think that this is an -- this is a nomination where the debate will actually end up being something which one could look forward to. It's on the substance.

Nobody disputes that Rex Tillerson is competent, has the experience, that he has the background. That he would know how to run the State Department, that he would know how to negotiate.

The question will be more about the substantive policies that he might pursue. Will they be too closely tied to what is good for Exxon and what's good for the United States? And where does he stand on the all- important issue of Russia.

LEMON: Yes. We'll talk a little bit more about Russia. But I want to get this in there, because several high ranking people in the Bush administration, bush big wigs, they have praise for him.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of States Condoleezza Rice, and James Baker, Gates and Rice, so we should say they are paid consultants for Exxon. Do you think that they are going to have an influence in the confirmation process here?

ZAKARIA: I don't think -- you know, the one thing we have learned over these past few months, six months, a year is that the republican establishment does not hold as much sway's way with the public as we thought they would.

Because after all, think of how many of them came out against Donald Trump. And it made no difference, Condoleezza Rice posted on Facebook against him. Robert Gates said that Trump did not have the temperament that you need for a commander in chief.

So, I don't know that they're going to make that much difference. I think here what you are moving to is something -- you know, there is an important moment here for American democracy where the Senate seems to be taking its role quite seriously, with regards to this including republican senators.

[22:09:57] LEMON: He is controversial though democrats are highly critical. Three republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Senators John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, say that they are concerned specifically about, as you've mentioned, his ties to Russia.

Rubio issued a statement. Here's what he said. He said, "While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination. The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America's interest, and will be a forceful advocate for America's foreign policy goals to the president within the administration and on the world stage."

Could those three senators hold up this nomination?

ZAKARIA: Well they could. Three senators is all it would take. The really interesting question is, you know, as I said, Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, are starting a very important conversation about what American policy toward Russia should be and what Russia -- what is -- what are Russia's goals right now.

Because what we are witnessing with Russia over the last few years has been a country that has decided to invade Georgia, invade Ukraine. Interfere in elections in Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe. We now know with some degree of certainty that they in some way or the other tried to get involved in the American political process in the election as well.

They're trying to assert more and more control in Syria. So, this is a Russia that is on the move that is aggressive. It's ironic that Rex Tillerson is getting this job, because that does seem to vindicate one of the principle points of Mitt Romney, when he ran for president.

Do you remember in 2012, he said, "Russia is our number one geopolitical adversary." And increasingly it does appear to be that that is the case. Now can Rex Tillerson who has had close relations with Putin -- in fact, one of the reasons he got promoted to be CEO of Exxon, was that he was -- he had a very good relationship with the Russians and was able to do deals.

That does not mean he will not be able to move on and represent American interests, and American national interests. But that is the issue. It's not his competence. The guy is obviously competent.

The question is where does he stand on what is likely again to be -- again, Mitt Romney was correct, America's principle geopolitical problem. How to deal with Vladimir Putin.

LEMON: And more on John McCain now. Because John McCain has called Putin a murderer, he's called him a thug, and tonight he took issues with the Tillerson friendship with Putin. Particularly the Order of Friendship that Putin awarded him back in 2003. Listen to this.


JOHN MCCAIN, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Frankly, I would never accept an award from Vladimir Putin because then you kind of give some credence and credibility to this butcher, this KGB agent which is what he is. For being against sanctions after Vladimir Putin invaded, basically, Ukraine and partitioned it and the violation involving international law, and took Crimea.

Then that leads to me to question what about the issue of morality? There's should be some certain standards, whatever business we are in. And again, honoring having, to accepting an honor from Vladimir Putin legitimizes Vladimir Putin.

Do you see my point?


LEMON: John McCain, a very respected senator. That seems like a very high hurdle to clear.

ZAKARIA: Certainly the way McCain described it. The only thing I would say is, you know, being a businessman and being secretary of state are different things. If you are running a big company and you have deal -- you know, Russia is at the end of the day, one of the two or three largest oil producers in the world, and you're doing business with them, you know, I think that's one thing. The real question is can Tillerson recognize that what is good for

Exxon is not necessarily always good for America. Can he -- can he recognize that in a geopolitical sense.

You know, and we're entering a very dangerous waters here where it's -- you know, it's possible that the president-elect wants to make some kind of deal with Russia. He's talked about it all the time.

But in doing that, you would make insecure all of eastern Europe. The polls, the Baltic States, all these countries will get deeply insecure think that the United States was abandoning them.

You would actually create an enormous amount of instability in doing this one deal with Putin. And so, one would hope that Rex Tillerson would understand that. As I said, there is no reason to assume he wouldn't. He was a businessman. He was protecting Exxon's interests. I don't fault him for that at all.

The test that he should be put to is, can he -- can he now defend America's interest with the same zeal and the same intelligence that he defended Exxon?

LEMON: At Exxon. Thank you very much. I always appreciate it, Fareed Zakaria.

When we come right back, Donald Trump's building his cabinet. But what does his picks tell us about what to expect after he takes the oath of office in 38 days.


LEMON: After weeks of drama, we now know Donald Trump's choice for his secretary of state. Exxon Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson. One of the slew of new cabinet appointment just today.

So here to discuss CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers, CNN contributor Salena Zito, and Rick Santorum, the former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.

Good evening. Thank you all for coming on. Kirsten, I want you to pay close attention to this, because a lot of new cabinet appointments announced by the Trump transition team today, Rex Tillerson, as I said as secretary of state, Rick Perry, secretary of energy, Representative Ryan Zinke for interior.

Here's how Donald Trump described his cabinet earlier tonight.


TRUMP: And I believe we're in the process of putting together one of the great cabinets. Certainly a cabinet with the highest I.Q. than anybody has ever -- I mean these, these are seriously great people.


LEMON: Kirsten, do you think he's on the mark? KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Tremendous.

LEMON: Tremendous. Huge.


POWERS: Amazing. Huge. Yes. Well, look, this is how he -- this is how he talks.

LEMON: Right.

POWERS: And so, you know, I think that he's putting together a cabinet that is one that would make conservative republicans very happy. Probably in some ways their dream team. You know, when you think about the type of people that they have wanted to have somebody who's going to be taking on the EPA. Somebody who's going to be possibly taking on the energy department.

You know, I think that they are looking at the kinds of people that they never thought that they were going to be able to have in office, and it's interest -- in cabinet positions. And it's interesting because Donald Trump is not really a conservative.

LEMON: Do you think...



LEMON: Hold on -- go on, I'll let you finish your thought but I want to...


POWERS: No, I mean, I just think it's interesting that republicans I think one of the biggest reasons a lot of people opposed him, is that they didn't really believe that he would be conservative, right?

LEMON: Yes. Senator, the criticism of him at least during the primary is that he's not a real conservative. He's a democrat, he's a rhino, and now, Kirsten says this is sort of the dream team for most republicans.

[22:19:58] RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If anybody thought that Donald Trump wasn't serious about what he was saying during the campaign that he was just sort of mouthing words that were on the teleprompter, that this was just another show and that he had no idea -- I heard this over and over.

We have no idea what he's going to be like. You know, we can't believe anything he says. Well, I don't think anybody has any questions now. I mean, as Kirsten said, correctly, this is a -- this is a conservative cabinet. This is a more conservative than any of the Bush cabinets of the last three cabinets under the President Bush's.

And not just that, the people surrounding him. It's not just cabinet people, but it's other folks. I mean, I was up at tower the last couple of days. There are a lot of good, strong principled conservatives who are vetting the next round. Deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, why?

Because Donald Trump went out and made a promise to the American public he was going to do certain things and he feels bound to deliver on that. And if you're going to do that, you got to have people that share that vision and that's what he's doing.

LEMON: When you say that the tower, it sounds like Wayne industries. I was at Wayne towers the other day.

POWERS: The towers.

LEMON: What do you make of what Rick Santorum just said and also how do you think this is playing among voters? These appointments?

SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: Well, I mean the basics are that people wanted change, right? I mean that's part of why they voted for him. But they, you know, conservatives -- I don't -- like Kirsten said, I don't think they thought that they would maybe get this kind of cabinet because there was no ideology.

I'm going to step to differ with the senator there and no ideology with this guy. He didn't profess to have any sort of set values on where his political lines were.


SANTORUM: Salena, I'm going to disagree with you. I mean, Donald Trump said that he was going to -- he was going to drain the swamp. He was going to, you know, cut back the, you know, the regulations in this country. He was going to create opportunities for manufacturing and energy.

He was going to re -- have a reset when it came to our foreign policy that was going to be American first foreign policy on immigration, look at, you know, Jeff Sessions at Justice Department. I mean, you go on down the list, the things that he campaigned on were very clear, not all of them were traditional conservative. I agree with that.


LEMON: But do you think -- do you think draining the swamp...

SANTORUM: But his cabinet reflects that.

LEMON: ... do you think by appointing traditional conservatives and people tied to Wall Street, is that consistent with draining the swamp?

SANTORUM: Well, I think if you look at the fact that there are very few people, quote, "tied to Wall Street." I mean, you got, obviously your treasury secretary which has been sort of a long history of treasury secretaries. It is sort of -- sort of a Wall Street kind of function. You don't

want somebody who doesn't really understand the functions of the treasury to be your treasury secretary.

But if you go beyond that, I mean, you're talking about a lot of, you know, good, solid Americans who have great track record of accomplishment outside of government primarily.


SANTORUM: And I think that's what -- that's what Donald Trump was looking for and he's delivering it.

LEMON: Similar question to Kirsten, do you think it's draining the swamp. We've had this conversation where you consider a lot of traditional folks. I mean, you know, Rick Perry today, you know, his former rival.


LEMON: Is that do you think that's draining the swamp?

POWERS: Well, I think -- OK, so when he said drain the swamp, what I think he's talking about is the sort of creatures of Washington.

LEMON: Of Washington.

POWERS: So the K street lobbyists. The people who just sort of live there all the time and make money off of the government. Which has been, I've been in Washington back and forth between Washington and New York. And it's definitely been an ever expanding group of people who are getting rich off of the government.

So, that's what I think he was talking about. I don't know that he's necessarily talking about not having a treasury secretary who is from Goldman Sachs. I mean, Bill Clinton had a treasury secretary from Goldman Sachs.

So, but, Rick Perry is -- he's a politician, obviously. And he's -- but he's also somebody who's very critical of Trump, very critical of Trump, ultimately came around and did campaign for him, but I think it's interesting that he would choose somebody who had really come after him.

LEMON: And speaking of Rick Perry. Let's look at Rick Perry now, Secretary of energy. That's the pick -- we all remember this moment from 2011.


RICK PERRY, FORMER GOVER OF TEXAS: It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can't name the third one?

PERRY: The third agency of government that I would -- I would do away with education, the -- commerce, and let's see...


PERRY: I can't. The third one I can't, I'm sorry. Oops.


LEMON: That went on for much longer than that. We cut a little bit. It was so painful. It hurts.


ZITO: It actually hurts like right here when you watch that.

LEMON: Are you surprise that he forgot the name of the department that he's chosen to run?

ZITO: Well, it's kind of ironic, but it's almost as if the university warded him, right.

LEMON: It's almost like it's kidding though, right.

ZITO: OK. Because we've played this so many times you actually get to have that agency.


ZITO: You know, the guy was just off of a surgery when he ran. He probably should have never run at that time. I'm sure that, you know, his mind just went -- we've all had those moments. He just has to have this replayed over and over again.

[22:25:03] LEMON: And over and over again. Yes, yes. So, I've had those moments too. Rick, you've had those moments, I'm sure.

SANTORUM: Well, I was actually on the stage at the time.

LEMON: Yes. I heard you guys mumbling under your breath, someone said, "oh, my God."

SANTORUM: I, you know, look, Rick Perry is one of the -- one of the nicest guys you'll ever going to meet. He's a great guy and actually we became friends. I didn't know him before the race in 2012. But we became friends through that race. And I stood there and I mean, I knew that was the end of everything. And it was just -- it was tragic.

And as Salena said, there are a lot of reasons for it, but the bottom line is, you know, now he's -- again, contrast with Kirsten, I mean, look, Rick Perry is not a Washington insider. Rick Perry has written books on federalism. How to skip power out of Washington, put it back to the states.

So, I mean, if you look at the people that he's put forward, some of them have some government experience, sure. But the government experience is how to get Washington out of people's lives and get more freedom and opportunity back to people. So, it's very consistent with the Trump message.

LEMON: All right. A lot more to discuss. Every stay with me. When we come right back, Donald Trump was supposed to be holding a big news conference this week. His first in five months. So why did he postpone it?


LEMON: Donald Trump hasn't held a news conference in five months and now it looks like it will be six months, at least. The president-elect says he'll postpone Thursday's promised news conference until January.

Back with me now, Kirsten Powers, Salena Zito, and Rick Santorum.

Kirsten, he's supposed to announce his plan for clearing up his, you know, ethics possible conflicts of interest on Thursday. But he is kicking the can down the road.

[22:30:02] POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: Why the delay do you think?

POWERS: I don't know. You know, he obviously feels like he's not ready to have the conversation, maybe he hasn't completely sorted out, it's actually how he is going to deal with the conflicts of interest. He seems to be floating things, you know, like saying there aren't going to be any more deals made.

LEMON: Right.

POWERS: And then that of course is immediately come under criticism because most businesses are always making deals. That's the sort of way it works...


LEMON: Here's what he -- here's what he said when you mentioned that.


LEMON: He tweeted out his business plan last night, he said, "Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my businesses before January 20th so that I can focus full-time on the presidency. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives will manage them. No new deals will be done during my terms in office."

And so, I mean, we're just hearing about the no new deals part, Rick Santorum for the first time this week. But it's not just about the new deals here. This is also about existing holdings, how his policies as president could enrich him and his family. That's a concern.

SANTORUM: Well, yes. It's a concern that, you know, he should -- he should not have obviously any operational control of the company. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, he has tremendous amount of his wealth is in that company. But I have -- I have no doubt that Donald Trump is going to do what's

in the best interest of America. I don't think Donald Trump is, you know, ran for president so he could get rich. Or wants to be president so he can get richer.

I think a lot of this is just pretty obvious that Trump wants to be president because he wants to deliver to the American public the success that he has to a lot more people across this country.

So, I am not as concerned about that as I think a lot of people are focusing the attention. I think -- I think Donald Trump will be focused on what's important. And that's delivering what he said he would do for the American public?

LEMON: Do you think delivering what you can do for the American public isn't that sort of the point that that's more important than any business holdings? Because even...



LEMON: ... after he becomes president, he can get those business holdings back, even if he divests himself of it, why not just get rid of it now, do the job that, you know, that you're supposed to do, do what every other person before you has done, and then go back to the business afterwards?

SANTORUM: I think in large part, he will do that. How you do that, how you unwind it, I think it's very complicated. But I don't have any doubt that Donald Trump is not going to have any operational control of his company and I can tell you that, I'm sure he's going to do everything and the people around him will do everything to make sure nothing that he does is going to be seen as favoring the Trump enterprises over any other enterprise when it comes to the decision that he makes as president.

LEMON: Salena, do you think he will have no idea what's going on in the business when his children will be running the business and what executives I'm sure he's familiar with. I'm just asking.

ZITO: It's hard to imagine, right?


ZITO: I mean this has been his whole life. I mean, one of the things that Trump has always excelled at is projecting strength and using that strength to leverage things. And you know, it's hard to imagine him letting go of that. Even though he will have the most powerful position arguably in the world.

LEMON: Yes. It's -- yes. Do you...


SANTORUM: Well, if I can... LEMON: Go ahead.

SANTORUM: Let me assure you, being president of the United States is a pretty busy job. I mean, it's not like he's going to have a lot of time to be focusing on how, you know, how his company's doing.

He's going to be involved with a lot of decisions on a day-to-day basis. He doesn't strike me -- and I've had an opportunity - I've had a couple opportunities to meet with him. Talk to him, I should say, since the election. He's very focused on building out his team. And I have no doubt that he's going to be a very active president.

LEMON: Go ahead, Kirsten.


POWERS: Couldn't you maybe...

SANTORUM: And I just don't see the problem.

POWERS: I just like -- couldn't you have made the same argument about Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. That she was very busy being secretary of state and she didn't have time to be colluding with her husband over who was giving money to the Clinton Foundation?

I just don't remember that argument in that case. You know, it was, we were supposed to believe that they were somehow -- she was somehow aware of everything that was going on over at the foundation, but now with the Trump children, no one's going to know...


LEMON: When actually the secretary of state travels even more than the president of the United States.


SANTORUM: Well, let me -- let me just look at it that this way, Bill and Hillary Clinton were not rich before they get into politics. Bill and Hillary Clinton got rich in politics.


POWERS: But they were running a foundation that was charitable.

SANTORUM: And continued to use politics to enhance themselves to get richer.

POWERS: It was a charitable organization.

SANTORUM: Donald Trump did not get rich because he was in politics. Donald Trump made a sacrifice, financially, to get into politics. So, I don't -- I just -- it's a completely different thing.

POWERS: It's exactly the same thing.

SANTORUM: The Clintons always leverage -- no, it is not.

POWERS: Yes, it is.

SANTORUM: Clinton always leveraged to benefit himself and themselves, and Trump basically used his business so he could have the opportunity to run for president not the other way around.

LEMON: Go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: The only way that this is different is that they were running a charitable organization that was helping people and the Trumps are running a business to make money. That's the only way it's different in every other way it's the same, it's the same argument which is that -- and I think it was a correct argument.

[22:34:58] I do -- I think that if she'd become president, that she would have -- they would have to have stepped away from that foundation because you could not have them having operational control over that foundation while she was president.


SANTORUM: I've not arguing, Kirsten, that he should not step away, he should step way. And he shouldn't be involved in the business. I don't think he will be involved in the business.

POWERS: But here's the...


SANTORUM: So, I think that will come to pass.

POWER: ... but here's the question though, would you -- would you have said that it would be OK for Chelsea and Bill to continue to run the foundation while Hillary was president? That's the analogy I'm making.


SANTORUM: I don't think you have someone who's built a huge business to sell his business because he's president of the United States. That's a ridiculous thing to ask.

LEMON: But they did ask the Clintons to get rid of the foundation...


POWERS: Right.

LEMON: ... if she came -- became president conservatives did.

SANTORUM: I think that's a fundamentally different thing. The Clinton Foundation was built up to support Bill and Hillary and their activities, their political activities. So that's just a fundamentally different things. You're comparing apples and oranges.

LEMON: Kirsten?

POWERS: I just -- I think they're apples and apples. I don't know why you're saying that. It really doesn't -- I disagree with you about what you just said.


POWERS: But even if that was true, how would that fundamentally change anything? What the motives underlying doesn't change anything. The problem is that other people can be using this organization whether it's the Trump organization or the Clinton Foundation to curry favor with people in power.


POWERS: That's what makes it the same.

LEMON: Salena, here's one way to look at it the problem, we may never know if Donald Trump is making money from his business, making deals with foreign partners or borrowing money from foreign banks or somehow using his office to help himself or his kids getting richer, if that did happened, would that go beyond conflict of interest to corruption, Salena?

ZITO: Yes. I mean, I think that's a problem. If that -- if that happens, if that scenario plays out, I think that that ends up being a problem for Trump.

I think he needs to separate himself from the business. I think his family probably needs to step away or not have that close association in the White House that they are projecting right now.

LEMON: Right. Thank you very much. I appreciate all of you coming on.

Just ahead, what kind of secretary of state will Rex Tillerson be if he is confirmed by the Senate, of course. I'm going to talk to a former business colleague at Exxon Mobil and one of Tillerson's former fraternity brothers.


LEMON: If Rex Tillerson is confirmed by the Senate to be secretary of state, he'll be one of the Trump administration's most powerful and most visible officials.

I want to bring in now Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution who was a Middle East advisor to Exxon Mobil, and James Flodine, who is a fraternity brother of Tillerson.

Good evening. It's good to have both of you on. Thank you so much for joining us here. James, I'm going to start with you first. You knew Rex Tillerson from his college years, you guys were fraternity brothers, what was he like?

JAMES FLODINE, REX TILLERSON'S FRATERNITY BROTHER: Oh wow. What a great guy. Let me, let you understand, our fraternity wasn't the fraternity that most people think of. It's a social great fraternity. We were service fraternity. Basically we're compromised of former boy scouts.

And so our fraternity was organized to do service projects either on campus or to other scout trips in the Austin area or to the campus itself. So, we conducted elections, did the registration of the students. So, we're very busy doing a lot of different projects and so, that's how I met Rex was involved with that. He was younger than I.

And he came on, pledged, and did all the things you have to do which is worth extra 35 hours a semester. And meet the actives and do all the other things you have to do to be a member of that fraternity.

In addition to that, we're pointing out that he's also a member of the Long Horn band, which if you're not familiar with that, it's a very large organization, about 400 band members. He spends a lot of time working.

And all that's said that being an engineer, being a Long Horn band, and do the APO stuff, he was really, really busy. And had to really manage his time efficiently to do all of them well, which he obviously did or he wouldn't have gotten a job at Exxon.

LEMON: Yes. So let's look at his resume. He's an impressive businessman, as you said, but he has zero government foreign policy experience. Are you surprised at all by the nomination?

FLODINE: Well, I don't know about that. I've been in the international business myself. Those of us international business, spend a lot of time all over the world and meeting all kinds of people and how to figure out ways to do deals with them that comply with the U.S. law.

I think Rex probably did an excellent job of that and personally, I think we'd be lucky to have a guy like that to help us out. Because most of us who are always in angst about who we're going to have as elected officials and a lot of can't be better people, and now we got better people. I think we should support him and see what he can do for us.

LEMON: Suzanne, to you now, you're a former Exxon employee who worked with people on Tillerson's team. Tell us what you know about his style of leadership.

SUZANNE MALONEY, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think what I can tell you is that Rex Tillerson comes out of an environment in which results matter, an environment in which strict compliance with both U.S. law and the principle of the company, which focus on operational excellence, strong financial results and a really clear ethical framework are absolutely enviable.

So, you know, this is someone who is succeeded in a very tough industry whose worked all over the world, who has been responsible for actually getting projects done in very difficult environments. And I think that in a sense that gives him a different kind of a lens

than we typically see in foreign policy leadership, but I think it can be a quite useful one.

LEMON: Can you share a specific examples of that?

MALONEY: Well, what I think his most notable about Rex Tillerson's career is his long experience in building Exxon Mobil's business in Russia. It was I think crucial to his elevation to the highest position in the company.

Russia is not an easy place to do business. And while there are many who are focused on the photo op with Vladimir Putin, or some presumptive friendship that he must have with Vladimir Putin, I think it's important to recall that, you know, particularly in a company like Exxon where there is such a, you know, dogged determination to ensure that the bottom line is solid, business opportunities and long standing business doesn't happen out of some, you know, sort of personal affinity.

It really reflects an ability to actually get things done and to do it in a way that as James just suggested, adheres to U.S. law as well as to, you know, the sort of contractual environment it has created.

[22:45:02] That's important. This is -- this is not someone who simply, you know, seated to a Russian aim. This is someone who managed to build trust and actually get things done in a difficult environment.

LEMON: And you mentioned Russia. Several high profile republicans have expressed concerns about Tillerson's relationship with Russia. Here's John McCain.


JOHN MCCAIN, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Anybody who's a friend of Vladimir Putin must disregard the fact that Vladimir Putin is a murderer, a thug, a KGB agent, whose airplanes as we speak have been targeting, with precision weapon -- weapons, hospitals in Aleppo, who have committed atrocities throughout the region, and it has destabilized the Ukraine. Has invaded Ukraine. Destabilizing -- trying to destabilize Baltic countries and the list goes on and on.


LEMON: So, James, why do you say that Tillerson is the right person to lead the State Department given concerns that many have about Russia and its leader?

FLODINE: Well, I think -- I think Suzanne said accurately. I don't know where people get that he's a great friend of Putin. It just seems to me like he did business with him. I mean, I go to Macy's and buy a watch, it doesn't mean the salesman is a great friend of mine. I did a transaction with them.

And I realize that the business that he did is much more long standing than that. But the fact is that all of us who had to work and do international deals do deals with people we don't necessarily love them or make best friends with them, but we understand they have certain interests, we have certain interests and that we can get those interests to aligned enough to where we can make a deal, we make a deal.

LEMON: And James, if I might, that he accepted a friendship with Putin, the friendship award, it's called the Order of Friendship that Putin awarded him back in 2013. That may be -- that may be the reason for some concern.

FLODINE: Well, you have to understand that our army gives out coins when you go to do different things that they think are noteworthy. There are many countries these leaders have these little medals they can hand out and they got a great name for it and everything.

But this was given primarily because they were successful in making a very large deal with Exxon. So, you know, if it was me and for an Exxon, they would have given me the award. I mean, there's nothing to do with Rex.

It just happened to be he's the guy in charge and he met, he got the deal done or the people he was working with got the deal done more likely. And so they gave him this medal. I think a lot of them have been made out of very little.

LEMON: James Flodine and Suzanne Maloney, thank you very much.

MALONEY: Thank you.

LEMON: Up next, Donald Trump say us the only way to identify hackers is to catch them in the act. Is that true? I'm going to ask a man who once known as the world's most wanted hacker.


LEMON: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker plans to launch a new review of Russia's hacking of our election, despite President-elect Donald Trump's statements discounting the intelligence.

Who better to ask then about this than a man who once was known as the world's most-wanted hacker. Here to discuss is Kevin Mitnick, he is the author of "The Art of Invisibility" and probably a good person to know. So, thank you for coming on.

KEVIN MITNICK, "THE ART OF INVISIBILITY" AUTHOR: Hey, thanks, Don. Great to be on your show.

LEMON: So, Donald Trump claims it's almost impossible to determine who was actually behind the hacks during the election. He tweeted this "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?" Why is he wrong?

MITNICK: Well, first of all, most hackers are caught after a forensic analysis and an investigation. I have actually first-hand experience in dealing with this in my younger years as a hacker.

So, most of cases are solve this way. There are some cases where they do catch people red-handed, if you remember Ross Ulbrich, the guy behind Silk Road, they actually had him under surveillance as he was at the San Francisco Public Library and when he was logged into an administrator account on Silk Road, that's when the agents nabbed him.

That's where the guy had his hand in the cookie jar, but if most cases a lot of these cases are solved after the fact.

LEMON: So you write about it, you're a former hacker...


LEMON: ... who spent five years in prison for computer-related crimes.


LEMON: What happened in your case?

MITNICK: Oh, I ended up, yes, again, I spent five years in prison, got out, Congress asked me to go to Washington and testify on how the government can better protect their systems and today I run a company that we do -- I do hacking.

In other words, companies hire me to try to break into their systems and my team to find their vulnerabilities so they can fix them. So that's -- you know, that's kind of cool to be able to do the same thing that I was doing before but now it's a 100 percent legal.

LEMON: So, I would imagine hackers leave clues behind. And can you give us some examples...


MITNICK: Absolutely.

LEMON: ... of what they might leave behind to cyber security professionals to use to identify them?

MITNICK: Yes, like most -- the biggest thing that they don't want to leave behind that they do is their IP address because once an investigator, say the FBI or local police, could trace the bad guy to an IP address that actually belongs where they're the subscriber or their families are the subscriber, then they can execute a search warrant, pull the computers, analyze the computers and determine, hey, was this individual the person behind the attacks?

What hackers do, though, is they try to launder their IP address, they use VPNs like in a case where this group called LulzSec which was a hacker group that, you know, kind of did it for the laughs, they were using VPN's services but were eventually caught.

There's Proxies. In case of more sophisticated attackers, they might break in to a company's computer in China and then leverage that system to break into other systems. So, if that connection is actually traced back, they get that -- you know, law enforcement gets the cutout connection.

So it really depends on the sophistication of the person behind the hacking of how easy it is to capture them -- or to catch them or not.

LEMON: I want to read this, because this is just something that the New York Times is reporting tonight because sometimes mistakes aren't so sophisticated and the New York Times is reporting that John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, was hacked when his aides, who had access to his account, noticed a phishing attack, flagged it and one of them responded by saying "This is a legitimate e-mail. John needs to change his password immediately."

[22:55:11] Now the late -- the aide later said that he knew it was a phishing e-mail and he meant to write illegitimate, not legitimate. It is just shocking that such a small error could have such a huge -- have huge repercussions, how often does something like this happen?

MITNICK: Well, most hacks today, Don, actually begin with an e-mail. It's called social engineering and what this attack method is a junior high-schooler can do it. They send phishing attacks with malicious attachments, malicious links or, like in this case a fake Gmail.

But we call this in the security world credential harvesting. In other words, stealing people's credentials and this stuff is really, really common. And I'm really -- and I don't think Podesta knew, he would have never put in his credentials or his assistant. Whoever put in these credentials was actually fooled by the attack and this is the problem is there's -- you know, there needs to be more security awareness behind the trade craft that hackers use so the public doesn't fall for these types of attacks and hopefully my new book "Art of Invisibility" will help people with that.

LEMON: Nice plug there. Thank you, Kevin Mitnick, I appreciate that.

MITNICK: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come right back, yeses and the president-elect. Kanye West meets with Donald Trump in New York. I'm not making this up. It actually happened. Both of them blond, by the way. Or something.