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Trump To Tap Tillerson For Sec. Of State; Trump "Leaving My Businesses"; Senate Concerns About Rex Tillerson. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 13, 2016 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:43] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect's pick for Secretary of State, an oil man with ties to Russia's Vladimir Putin. Rex Tillerson recommended by two former Secretaries of State.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump postpones his first press conference as president-elect. Instead, he tweets about turning his businesses over to his two sons.

Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm George Howell.

ROMANS: Good morning, nice to see you. I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, 32 minutes past the hour. Let's begin here. Breaking overnight, Donald Trump set to name his choice for Secretary of State this morning. Multiple sources tell CNN the president-elect has chosen ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

But even before an official announcement there are signs of questions for Tillerson's nomination. Uncertainty over his views on climate change and his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin raising concerns on both sides of the aisle. The latest now from CNN's Phil Mattingly at Trump Tower.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, George and Christine. Well, the pick is in. The president-elect will announce that Rex Tillerson, the Exxon CEO, will be his selection for Secretary of State. He intends to nominate the Exxon CEO because sources say the two just hit it off. They found a fit with another, they share similar world views, they share similar business backgrounds as dealmakers.

But it really comes down to, I'm told, three people -- Condoleezza Rice, James Baker, and Robert Gates, obviously three individuals with extensive government experience and three individuals who all recommended Rex Tillerson to the president-elect. The two did not have a relationship before this process started. Now, he will be the president-elect's top diplomat.

Now, that doesn't mean he's going to have clear sailing through the confirmation process. Democrats have already raised concerns about his potential nomination. It's not just Democrats. Republicans have, as well, primarily because of Tillerson's ties to Russia. Now, Exxon, as an oil company, has done numerous deals with the

country of Russia and Tillerson, himself, has a relationship with Vladimir Putin. That relationship has drawn scrutiny from individuals like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, all individuals who could make his confirmation incredibly difficult in a Senate where Republicans just hold a four-seat advantage.

Now, what does this mean for the other candidates -- the many candidates who we've seen cycle through over the course of the last couple of weeks? Well, obviously, they didn't get the job. But most interestingly, Mitt Romney taking to Facebook saying he was honored to have even been considered for the position, and saying he has very high hopes for the Trump administration.

This is a long way from when he called the president-elect a phony and fake throughout the general election process. But the two formed a sort of mutual respect for one another over the course of the process according to sources. The president-elect even calling Mitt Romney on Monday night to tell him he did not get the position. That he appreciated his willingness to participate at all.

Now, obviously, that's on the cabinet side of things but there is a big question on the conflict of interest side of things and the president-elect was supposed to answer those questions this week, touting his own news conference on December 15th where he was going to announce how he was going to separate himself from his business interests. Well, no longer.

The reality, according to Trump advisers, is the president-elect has been almost solely focused on personnel -- cabinet decisions -- and certainly that's been backed up by the steady stream of individuals we've seen going in and out of the building behind me over the course of the last couple of weeks.

[05:35:06] But there's also this fact. This is an incredibly complicated process according to Trump advisers, one that Trump's lawyers -- the Trump Organization's legal team -- simply haven't gotten their heads around yet. Donald Trump, himself, wants to maintain his stake in the company. While he wants to remove himself from operational side of things, he wants to maintain a stake and obviously figure out a legal structure to pass this down to his children -- George and Christine.


HOWELL: Phil Mattingly, thank you. President-elect Trump says he does still plan to disentangle himself from his business empire. He underscored that point in, what else, a series of tweets. No, not a press conference but, rather, tweets saying this. "Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my businesses before January 20th, the inauguration, so that I can focus full time on the presidency. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives will manage the team." And he added this, "No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office."

In a final tweet Mr. Trump committed to hold that "press conference in the near future to discuss the business, cabinet picks and other topics of interest. Busy times."

ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump has a message for CEO's, look out. With his tweet yesterday about Lockheed Martin's F-35 program and a similar tweet last week directed at Boeing, Trump is firing a warning to business leaders. You know, here's what's interesting about that, though. It's in stark contrast to the optimism, overall, these CEO's are feeling about business.

The stock market is up about 5.8 percent since the election -- record highs. The jobless rate down to 4.6 percent. And get this, a survey of CEO's -- brand new survey of CEO's shows their outlook for sales and hiring is the best it's been in years.

So what are business leaders supposed to do here? An expert negotiator tells us that CEO's should not take Donald Trump's tweets literally but they should find out what he is serious about and work toward reaching an agreement that both sides can live with. Carrier did this with its deal to save some jobs in Indianapolis. Ford did it as well, keeping production of the mildly popular Lincoln model in the U.S.

After waiting for weeks now we expect to know for sure who Donald Trump is putting forward as Secretary of State. Let's break that down and the questions surrounding Rex Tillerson's nomination with CNN POLITICS reporter Tal Kopan, along with political analyst and best- selling author Ellis Henican. Good morning, you guys.



ROMANS: Rex Tillerson -- look, somebody like me who covers business, this is a household name. For Vladimir Putin this is someone who's on speed dial, potentially. This is someone who knows how to talk the language of diplomacy. He's been doing petro diplomacy for years. Will that translate in the eyes of the people who are going to have to nominate him -- confirm him?

HENICAN: For those of who weren't hanging out with Rex, is that what you're asking?


ROMANS: No, for the people who are going to have to confirm this nomination.

HENICAN: Yes, but listen --

ROMANS: Are they going to see Donald Trump's world view that this is a guy who gets stuff done. He makes deals, he knows all the player.

HENICAN: I think that's a good point and I do have a sense that there's a certain maturity there and, yes, some relationships and all of that helps. But in the end, what we don't know the answer to, Christine, is what are the policies here, right, as we go through the Exxon portfolio. Is it on climate change he seems to feel this way, you know? On environmental issues he's that way and the interest groups respond accordingly. But we don't know yet what Rex looks like through the Trump filter.

ROMANS: Right.

HENICAN: What is that? If you can tell me what that is then I'll give you an answer.

ROMANS: He's is the senior -- he is the senior diplomat for Donald Trump's world view.

HENICAN: A really, really good point.

ROMANS: Who will -- I guess, who will, you know, guide whom in that? That's what we don't know.

KOPAN: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, like we were talking about of it before, you know, the other thing is keep in mind the State Department has thousands of sort of career diplomats who have specialized in various regions of the world and traditionally that expertise is drawn from very heavily. I mean, we've already seen the Trump transition really breaking with that and they're not consulting with the State Department before speaking with some of these world leaders.

There is an indication that they really don't necessarily go to -- some might say they're not thinking things through. They might say we're not going to waste all that time in going through all of these steps before we make these calls. We're going to sort of go with our guts here and the Rex Tillerson pick is very much in line with that.

But I think you're going to see from some of the senators, especially on the Foreign Relations Committee who are very committed to this notion of career diplomats, a lot of questions about how they're going to interact with that sort of career service that's at the State Department.

HOWELL: Some of those questions, Rex Tillerson's relationship with Russia. All you have to do is go online, go to Google to look at these many images of Rex Tillerson with Vladimir Putin. That's an indicator also. Donald Trump -- this is all very favorable for Russia. So the big question now among the intelligence community, they are concerned. They believe with confidence that Russia had some involvement in swaying the vote -- the election -- toward Donald Trump.

[05:40:00] Donald Trump, though, believes that's ridiculous -- that claim is ridiculous -- throwing the intelligence community under the bus, really. And here's the question. Even his campaign -- rather, the transition -- the person on his transition team calling it into question, calling it a political situation. Let's take a listen to Kellyanne Conway here.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: And this smells like politics, plain and simple. We, in the Trump presidency, do not want foreign governments interfering in our elections. That's very clear. We also don't want -- we don't want intelligence interfering in our politics but we certainly don't want what we have now which is politics interfering in our intelligence.


HOWELL: Is this politics interfering with intelligence?


KOPAN: Well, keep in mind -- well, keep in mind here what experts have said because I think has gotten very muddled. So there is very good evidence from both the private sector and U.S. intelligence agencies that actors working for senior levels of the Russian government hacked into groups like the DNC and, you know, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, and released damaging things online that were intended to sway public opinion. The statement from the U.S. government is that it was intended to sow discord and sort of distrust.

Now, there's this report that the CIA believes it was actually intended to sway the election in Donald Trump's favor. That's being confused a little bit with the notion that somehow this changed votes and I think that's what you're seeing the Trump campaign respond to. They don't like the idea that their election is being delegitimized.

But the concern -- the pushback on that is that they're not recognizing this argument that the Russians, very based on evidence, did attempt to meddle. And that's what a lot of the intelligence agencies are really concerned about and looking to Donald Trump to acknowledge in a more powerful way.

ROMANS: Cyber espionage will be one of the biggest challenges in the next administration and the one after that, no question.

HENICAN: Right, and the word meddle is a kind of a mushy word --

KOPAN: Sure.

HENICAN: -- because what it really comes down to, yes, is getting people to behave differently, getting us to behave differently, right? If you put out a bunch of bad embarrassing stuff about one candidate and not the other candidate, I mean, it's meddling but it's also meddling with a purpose, isn't it? I mean, it's not -- it's not random, I don't think.

ROMANS: All right, nice to see you guys. Lots more to do on this. Thanks, guys.

HENICAN: Wild, huh?

ROMANS: Nice to see you. Happy Tuesday.

HOWELL: There is a lot. Thank you. Still ahead here -- so, the Donald Trump "thank you" tour, it is hitting the road again. The president-elect making a stop in Wisconsin later tonight. He'll be joined by the Vice President-elect Mike Pence and also the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The next stop on that "thank you" tour is Hershey, Pennsylvania. That is set for Thursday.

ROMANS: All right, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expected to meet with Donald Trump in New York in the coming days. General Joseph Dunford is the chief military adviser to the president. We're told he is finalizing a new classified military strategy to present to the president-elect. He also plans to discuss how U.S. forces are deployed around the world.

HOWELL: The Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan, Ronna Romney McDaniel, is Donald Trump's pick to become the next head of the RNC. A transition source tells CNN the announcement is expected this week. Romney McDaniel would take over from Reince Priebus who is now the president-elect's chief of staff. She is the niece of the former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

ROMANS: All right. The ballots have been officially recounted in Wisconsin and the winner is Donald Trump. The State Elections Commission saying it can not only recertify that the president-elect is the winner but they're also going to award him 131 more votes in the process.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein ordered and financed the recount over those concerns of hacking possibilities and what she called other voter irregularities. Trump celebrating that win on Twitter saying, "The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what -- we just picked up an additional 131 votes. The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!"

HOWELL: Also, in Pennsylvania, a federal there ruled last month's election results will stand. Donald Trump is the winner in that state. A judge rejecting Jill Stein's push for a recount saying in part, "Suspicion of a hacked Pennsylvania election borders on the irrational."

ROMANS: All right. An epic match-up on Monday Night Football. Tom Brady and John Berman's New England Patriots tangling with the Baltimore Ravens and this one was decided by a fourth-quarter bomb. Hines Ward with this morning's Bleacher Report, next.


[05:48:00] HOWELL: I just know John Berman was on the edge of his seat with this one. The Patriots almost giving up a huge lead against the Ravens Monday night in football, but here it goes again, Tom Brady to the rescue.

ROMANS: All right. The equally handsome Hines Ward has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, guys. Yes, Tom Brady, he looked like he's on his way to winning another MVP award. I mean, all the guy does is come up big when it matters the most. Now check him out here where he finds Martellus Bennett in the end zone. That's what we call a 50-50 ball. There's nothing better than taking the ball away from a defensive player to score the touchdown.

But the play that sealed the game was Brady's long touchdown strike to Chris Hogan. But look at this pass by Brady. I mean, you've got to look at it closely. He's right there in the breadbasket. Tom Brady, he's the ultimate x-factor. He's the best quarterback in the game. The Patriots would go on to win 30-23.

The stars were out last night at the Barclay Center in New York. "Sports Illustrated" was handing out awards to athletes who defined the year in sports. Now, LeBron James, he was the big winner of the night bringing home "Sportsman of the Year" but during his speech he couldn't hold back how impressed he is with Michael Phelps.


LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: You're literally a fish -- literally. Like, I have no idea how you do what you do. You would definitely win the game that me and my boys play that let's see who could stay underwater the longest and not come up. You're not invited to that game, by the way.


WARD: The NFL announcing yesterday they plan to spice up the Pro Bowl weekend. They'll have a skills showdown that will include --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joanie loves Chachi.


[05:50:00] WARD: (LAUGHTER) That's right, baby, dodgeball -- dodgeball. They're going old school. That's going to be so funny to see. But also, the players will take part in other events as well, such as the relay race, precision passing, and the one that I'm really looking forward to, guys, the best hands challenge. Now, the NFL has moved the Pro Bowl from Hawaii to Orlando this year, so it should be fun. I can't wait.

ROMANS: That sounds great.

HOWELL: Dodgeball.

ROMANS: All right.

WARD: Dodgeball.

ROMANS: Hines Ward, nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

HOWELL: Thanks, Hines.

WARD: No problem.

ROMANS: Two big name tech titans joining the group of Silicon Valley leaders meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow. Here's a hint, they both love launching rockets into space. We'll tell you who's in.


[05:54:15] HOWELL: Welcome back to EARLY START. A major development in the Bill Cosby sex crimes case. His criminal trial just months away but this morning a Pennsylvania judge will hear arguments on whether to let as many as 13 accusers confront him in court. Prosecutors in the Andrea Constand case say that they want to show a pattern of behavior over decades. Cosby's defense expected to argue that only Constand should be allowed to testify.

All right, some bitter cold weather is on the way for parts of the northern United States. Let's bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with the forecast.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Christine and George, the calendar tells us we have eight days of autumn left. Try telling that to Mother Nature in the next couple of days. The doors just open up out of the Arctic Circle and we get multiple blasts of cold air in the coming two days.

[05:55:00] And your first one here really going to bring the temperatures back down to some historic values for a few places. In fact, look at the disparity in place right now. In Barrow, Alaska where the sun, by the way, sets there on the 19th of November and will not rise again until the latter portion of January, it is warmer than what's going on in Minneapolis into the early morning hours today. And, of course, you factor in the wind chill it is an entirely different story, but big-time cooling trend compared to yesterday.

Chicago made it to the freezing mark yesterday, 18 the best they can do this afternoon, and wind chill values as cold as 35 below across the northern tier of the country. And in places like Minneapolis, multiple days of single-digit temperatures. In fact, by Saturday morning going into Sunday temps could drop as cold as 17 below zero in the overnight hours.

And, of course, all of that air wants to shift farther to the east. It will modify as it does so but the temperature trend does cool off for just about everyone, especially around places like New York City. Up towards Boston down into the twenties -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, Pedram Javaheri, thank you for that. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream right now. Dow futures pointing higher. The focus is on the Federal Reserve. It starts a two-day policy meeting this morning. What to expect? An interest rate hike for the first time since last December. The economy is strong enough for it and lots of folks in the markets are expecting higher rates here quickly.

Stock markets in Europe are higher. Shares in Asia closing higher. Oil now above $53 a barrel. The Dow hit a record high at Monday's close. The Nasdaq and S&P, they were down. Since the election, the Dow has hit 15 record highs, all of that over just 24 trading days.

Donald Trump's pick to lead the National Economic Council is a top executive at Goldman Sachs. Gary Cohn is currently the president and chief operating officer of the powerful Wall Street firm. As NEC chief, he works inside the White House to be the architect of Trump's biggest economic goals.

Cohn joins three other Goldman Sachs alums now close in this incoming administration. The treasury secretary pick Steve Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years before going onto a pretty diverse portfolio in finance. Chief strategist Steve Bannon worked there in the 1980's. Anthony Scaramucci is also rumored to be in the running for a top job. He is currently an adviser to the transition team. He has had two stints at Goldman Sachs.

All right. Two space cowboys set to meet with Donald Trump tomorrow along with a slew of other Silicon Valley titans. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one. You might recall he joked during the campaign that he would like to send Donald Trump into space. Trump has targeted and criticized him on Twitter, criticizing "The Washington Post" coverage of Donald Trump and his campaign. Bezos bought the "Post" in 2013.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is another one. He also runs Tesla. Just before the election he told the business network Trump would -- was "probably not the right guy for the presidency." The two will join the CEO's of Apple, Google parent company Alphabet, and Microsoft, along with Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and a handful of other tech executives.

As you know, Silicon Valley slow to warm to a Donald Trump presidency. This will be a mending of fences, if you will. The invitation, interestingly, from Reince Priebus, from Peter Thiel, who was a Silicon Valley supporter of him, and from Jarred Kushner, so --

HOWELL: You just wonder how that meeting will go.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. Well, hopefully we'll know by tomorrow. That's EARLY START for today. I'm Christine Romans.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The president-elect will have a new cabinet announcement at any moment. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: He knows many of the players and he knows them well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All signs pointing to Rex Tillerson getting the position of Secretary of State.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: I don't know if he can get 50 votes. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This guy is a thug and a murderer and

I don't see how anybody could be a friend of this old-time KGB agent.

TRUMP: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You didn't need a security clearance to figure out who benefitted from malicious Russian cyberactivity.

CONWAY: This smells like politics, plain and simple.

TRUMP: I'm like a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our intelligence agencies -- if you're not getting their perspective you are flying blind.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, December 13th, 6:00 in the East. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow is here. Thank you for joining us this morning.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to be here.

CUOMO: We got big news coming our way. Donald Trump set to announce his pick for Secretary of State in just a matter of hours. Who will it be? Sources tell CNN it will be ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson. Now, that choice is going to likely have many in the Senate seeing red, as in Russia, because of Tillerson's close ties to Vladimir Putin.

HARLOW: No question about that. The president-elect also postponing a news conference to discuss how he will resolve conflicts of interest, but taking to Twitter and revealing plans to leave his business, he says, before he takes office. Also vowing no new deals for the Trump Organization at all during his presidency. How will it all work? We have to wait and see.

Just 38 days until President-elect Trump is inaugurated. We have the transition covered from every angle this morning. Let's begin with Jason Carroll, live from Trump Tower in Manhattan. Good morning.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Pop.