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Trump Picks Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey; Interview with Steve Forbes. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 13, 2016 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:16] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Team Trump naming ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as its choice for secretary of State. Tillerson has spent decades in corporate America without ever holding a government job.

Is that a plus? Is that a minus? Who is he? What are the concerns being raised?

We've got a look at the man who may be the next secretary of State. Here's CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: We are the largest American oil company. We're very global.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over: Rex Tillerson, a career oil man, on track to become the nation's chief diplomat.

TILLERSON: As someone who has spent his entire career in the energy industry --

SERFATY: Tillerson, a 64-year-old conservative Texan, has no government or foreign policy experience. He has only held one job in his adult life, working for the last 40 years at Exxon. First hired as a civil engineer out of college, working his way up the corporate ladder through the international division, and then rising to CEO in 2006.

TILLERSON: The belief in the promise of international engagement and in the potential for global approaches to meeting this nation's challenges.

SERFATY: At the helm of ExxonMobil, Tillerson operated at a high level internationally, negotiating on behalf of Exxon's interests with deep relationship in the Gulf and Middle East, Asia, and Russia.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: He's much more than a business executive. I mean, he's a world-class player.

SERFATY: Tillerson having deep ties, especially to Russia and Vladimir Putin, even receiving the Order of Friendship in 2012, a high honor bestowed to him personally from Putin.

TRUMP: To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players. And he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia.

SERFATY: But that's seen as an asset to President-elect Trump is a problem for some on Capitol Hill.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have obviously concerns of reports of his relationship with Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer.

SERFATY: Marco Rubio tweeting, quote, "Being a friend of Vladimir Putin is not an attribute I am hoping for from a secretary of State." Meantime, Tillerson's views on climate change in opposition to the president he's about to serve.

TRUMP: We will cancel this deal so that our companies can compete.

SERFATY: Tillerson supported the Paris climate change agreement reached earlier this year and has declared climate change a problem, at odds with Trump.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Where are you on the environment?

TRUMP: I'm very open minded. I'm still open minded. Nobody really knows.

SERFATY: While Exxon spent years denying that burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change, under Tillerson's time the company softened its stance.

TILLERSON: While there are a range of possible outcomes, the risk posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions could prove to be significant.

SERFATY: Outside of his work, Tillerson, a father of four, has deep lineage in the Boy Scouts of America. An Eagle Scout himself, he served as national president in 2010 and had a big role in moving the organization forward and allowing the acceptance of gay scouts.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Sunlen, thank you very much.

Here to discuss this choice of Rex Tillerson as secretary of State and what the confirmation process will be like, CNN political analyst David Gregory, and reporter for the "Washington Post," Abby Philip.

Good to have you both. Abby, let me begin with you. You think Tillerson is a compromise pick. I wonder where are the loyalists? Where's Rudy Giuliani, where's Chris Christie? Rudy Giuliani, tons of international experience. You know, security adviser in all of these different countries. And Chris made a good point earlier on the show. Rex Tillerson has a ton of experience in oil rich countries, a ton of experience in Russia, Saudi Arabia, et cetera. But he doesn't have any diplomatic experience and he doesn't have any experience in countries that don't have oil.

ABBY PHILIP, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: That's true, but this is a president who also has no political experience and no diplomatic experience. I mean --


HARLOW: Even you're making the case. Then don't you need someone who does?

PHILIP: But he's looking for people who understand the world like he does in some sense.

[07:35:03] And I think that he views -- he and others in his camp and some of the folks who've been advising him on this, Bob Gates, former defense secretary, Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of State.

HARLOW: James Baker.

PHILIP: James Baker. They believe that Tillerson has had enough experience engaging with world leaders on the world stage as in the public -- in the private sector and can take that experience into, you know, the State Department. But in terms of Trump's inner circle, there were folks who wanted anybody but Romney. They did not believe that Romney possessed the loyalty to do that job.

Tillerson is not quite a Rudy Giuliani. He's not the sort of long- time loyalist, but he doesn't raise a lot of the red flags in terms of temperament, in terms of stamina, and other concerns that had kind of bubbled up over the course of the last few weeks within his inner circle. So the never-Romney folks and the Romney folks look at Tillerson as someone who can satisfy both camps. They have a lot of similar attributes in terms of being global business leaders.

And Trump believes that they have the stature. They can stand up in a room with Vladimir Putin and look eye-to-eye with those folks. That's very important to him.

CUOMO: The biggest problem for Tillerson at this point, before we get digging into other things that are there, because this is new, is really a problem that Trump is creating for him, which is the perspective that he's close to Putin.


CUOMO: And that there's another layer of compromise with this odd- slash-bizarre reluctance of Trump and the people around him to call Russia and Vladimir Putin for what it is.

GREGORY: Yes, it's striking to me because it doesn't have to be -- I think what you're getting at in your interview, this doesn't have to be about delegitimizing the result of Trump being president, being elected president. It's about a pattern of Russia trying to interfere in American processes, in our elections, and by hacking, whether it's companies, the DNC, and saying, you know, that shouldn't happen. And there should be some kind of brush back pitch to Russia. We're not seeing that. And yet the president-elect is not reluctant to call out China, for example, at his rallies and say they're not playing by his rules. So that is puzzling to me at the very least and problematic.

Look, Rex Tillerson is an impressive business leader, an impressive guy. He has told people about the need to be tough with Putin and that's how you negotiate things. I think there's no question that President-elect Trump looks at a guy like Tillerson and sees somebody that is kind of in his image in terms of how he does things and they might have their own strategy for dealing with Putin. I'm sure they're thinking, let's go out there and extract some real concession from Putin.

The danger is, we've seen administrations do this and then get manipulated by Putin, so they've got to be very careful. And it's not clear what they know that other administrations haven't known. But I do think some of the people vouching for Tillerson who have worked with him, Bob Gates, James Baker, and others, will be very strong.

Tillerson again is an impressive guy who's going to, in his confirmation hearings, talk about his -- both his knowledge of Putin, his business dealings with Putin, and talk about how doing deals for ExxonMobil is different than representing the United States.

HARLOW: Very different. So let's go to a mock confirmation hearing, if you will. And a senator says, sir, you said the sanctions were a bad idea. You said it was really important to look at who the sanctions hurt and who they harm. So what are you going to do if the consensus is that we need to impose more sanctions? And by the way, Jason Miller said that Order of Friendship award is not a big deal. I mean, that doesn't just go to anyone.

I mean, Vladimir Putin came to the big oil deal signing where Rex Tillerson was. I mean, these two men go back to 1999. Can you really throw out all of that friendship and all of that past and say, fine, slap tougher sanctions on Russia?

PHILIP: Yes, I mean, I think that he's going to have to answer for all of that. And beyond the Order of Friendship, whether it's a big deal or not, it's a pretty symbolic thing that I guarantee you no matter what happens, if he's confirmed, that will come up over and over and over again.

CUOMO: And you have John McCain who's going to say, a man who I call a thug and a murderer calls you a friend.


CUOMO: Why should I be comfortable with you?

PHILIP: It's a huge problem. This is going to be a litmus test for members of the Senate who want to make Russia an issue, who want to bring it to the table. They want to have this conversation. And whether it's warranted or not, Rex Tillerson going up there as the recipient of the Order of Friendship from Vladimir Putin is going to have to answer for what is the policy.

HARLOW: I guess, how do you -- how do you answer that, David Gregory?

GREGORY: I think he would say, look, you have to establish some degree of trust with a leader like Putin. I've got that. I've been a business dealer. This is not friendship. We're not going on play dates. We're negotiating complex deals.

HARLOW: But a business deal that made them both richer.


HARLOW: A business deal that made them both richer. It's different when you're getting rich off deals and you're helping your business.

GREGORY: Right. But there's lots of people who've come from the private sector entering the government.


GREGORY: Yes, there's going to be those questions of conflict. But nevertheless, I think he would say, I've got a working knowledge of Putin. I've negotiated across the table from Putin. I know what motivates him. I'm going to be able to -- because I've got that trust, I'm going to tell him where the lines are very clearly, and he's not going to cross that. I think that'll be the advocacy for Tillerson.

[07:40:06] PHILIP: I think beyond Russia, there are going to be a lot of other things coming up. Exxon is a giant corporation. They've done business in countries all around the world with regimes that may or may not be good regimes. That stuff is going to come up and it's going to be a problem.

CUOMO: Profits or people. It's going to be a big discussion.

All right. So coming up in our next hour, Rudy Giuliani. How come he's not in the Cabinet? Why didn't get the pick for secretary of State? If he wants him, but he's got international experience. We're going to ask him what he thinks of Tillerson and what he thinks the motivation is behind this reluctance to acknowledge what Russia did in this election by Trump and the people around him.

HARLOW: Also, for 20 years, her face and the mystery surrounding her death has haunted many people. Now CNN has new information about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Our CNN Special Report is next.


HARLOW: It has been 20 years, 20 years since 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey's death first captured the attention of the nation.

In a new CNN Special Report, "The Murder of JonBenet," airing tonight, CNN's Jean Casarez talks with those closest to the young beauty queen's murder investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on, ma'am?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is one of the greatest unsolved crimes in history.

PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER: We have a kidnapping. There's a ransom note here.

CASAREZ: A little girl vanishes from home Christmas night.

JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER: It's just like you got hit in the stomach. Where's my child?

CASAREZ: Hours later, she's found strangled to death.

[07:45:02] J. RAMSEY: I couldn't do anything but scream.

P. RAMSEY: Keep your babies close to you. There's someone out there.

CASAREZ: Surreal images of the pageant star transfixed the nation.

LARRY KING, TV HOST: Were you a stage mother?

P. RAMSEY: Probably. What's wrong with that?

CASAREZ: No charges have ever been filed. Nobody ever convicted. Tonight, the theories, secrets, and bombshells.

P. RAMSEY: Hurry, hurry, hurry.



HARLOW: Wow. I don't know what else you'd watch tonight. That has me on the edge of my seat. Jean Casarez is with me.

Congratulations to you and your producer, Elise Iger. I know how much work goes into these. So I can't wait to see it.


HARLOW: You had a long sit-down interview with her father, with JonBenet -- with John Ramsey.


HARLOW: What did he say?

CASAREZ: You know, he lives a long ways away in a very remote area. He wants his privacy, but he allowed us to travel there to get to him. And I spoke with him for hours. And we heard things that I'd never heard before. What it's done to his life. He told me he's lost his privacy. He lost his money. He lost his reputation. And he truly says for the rest of his life he is trying to find who murdered his daughter. He talks about that he knows he was the prime suspect. He knows the

grand jury indicted he and his wife, even though charges were never brought and what that did to his life. They had even signed custody of Burke to someone else because they believe --

HARLOW: Their son.

CASAREZ: Yes, because they believed they were going to be charged.

HARLOW: Because there are all of these incredibly confusing details, not to mention the ransom note, the three-page ransom note, the ransom that they wanted, the exact amount, right, of his bonus?

CASAREZ: And so then all of a sudden because this ransom note is "To Mr. Ramsey," they're asking for the amount of his bonus, police honed in on him. And his good friend comes to him, a former D.A., and says, look, they believe you murdered your daughter. Get yourself a defense attorney, get it now, and make it the best one you can.

HARLOW: Wow. We know that they're still investigating. All of that is tonight in the special report. Thank you so much.

CASAREZ: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Twenty years later, Jean Casarez.

Be sure to watch the CNN Special Report, "The Murder of JonBenet." That is tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Chris?

CUOMO: Boy, I spent a lot of time on that case out there in Colorado. It'd be great to watch that. Our thanks to Jean.

All right. So most of President-elect Trump's Cabinet members have won thing in common. A lot of cash. So how will that affect the choices they make in office? We're going to talk to a businessman extraordinaire, Steve Forbes. Is business good for government? Next.


[07:51:37] CUOMO: President-elect Donald Trump nominating CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of State. Who is he? What can we expect to hear about him as this confirmation hearing draws closer? Let's get some perspective from someone who knows.

Steve Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and a former presidential candidate, friend of the show.

Mr. Forbes, always a pleasure.


CUOMO: Let's get into what some of the tension will be. All right. You have two main components. One is Trump's bringing in lots of high profile, big bank account business men into government and the other will be Rex Tillerson's specific issues with his relationship with Russia. So let's deal with the first. The pushback that, hey, you were supposed to drain the swamp. You're supposed to be about the little guy. You keep bringing in all these Goldman Sachs and big pocket guys into government like Tillerson. How is that good for the working man and woman?

FORBES: I think the bottom line is what do you get done? And the three big things you're going to see next year is the big tax cut, far bigger than I think the House and Senate leadership realized. Trump is very serious about that.

On the regulatory side he's going to do what Reagan did in the early -- when Reagan took office, start serious deregulation. There are a lot of crazy regulations on the books. He's got a whole list of them. And that's why you see the stocks of small cap companies doing well. They've been hurt most by these kinds of regulations. And then a major overhaul of health care. Done in a way where you get a more effective safety net instead of the hodgepodge system we have today.


FORBES: So the key thing, people don't look who's on your team as much as does the team score.

HARLOW: To Chris's point, though, when you -- let's just take one of those things. You put a lot out there. Let's just unpack tax reform. Right?


HARLOW: So history is an indicator for us. As you well know, the last time we had a big tax holiday, corporate tax holiday, 2004, it was a total failure in terms of job creation in helping the middle America. It led to mainly the rich getting richer which is not problematic if you're helping those you're intending to help. And it was mainly companies buying back their shares. What would be different this time when he cuts the corporate tax rate to 15 percent which he'll get through this Republican Congress?

FORBES: Well, the 2004 thing was a one shot. One shots are one shots. And they don't lead to long-term investing. This brought -- the 2004 thing brought back $18 billion to the Treasury Department.

HARLOW: Carl Icahn said to me last week, and as you know he's a big Wall Street guy.

FORBES: Yes, but the point --

HARLOW: He said we should have restrictions on buying back these shares so companies actually have to hire people.

FORBES: Well, let's get some things like the minimum wage. Trying to force things that you want to have happen don't work. We should have learned that from the 1930s and the 1970s. The way you get investments is what we did in the '80s and in the '90s. And that is you have a benign tax code. He's not just going to reduce the corporate side, which is going to be huge but also individual rates, as well, and start to simplify, drain the swamp at the tax code. Those two things together are enormous.

I was in Indonesia a few days ago. The finance minister there said, are you serious about reducing this to 15 percent, the corporate rate? And I said, yes, I think he is. She said, oh, my god, all of us are going to have to do it. So you're going to see this pro-business push. The Brits have been doing this for years. The Canadians have been doing --

CUOMO: Why will it work better than the current reality, which is, sure, your notional rates are much higher but the practical rate the businesses play is routinely put at well under 20 percent?

HARLOW: Already is.

CUOMO: So why would it work much better?

FORBES: Well, it's about 22, 23. But it's -- you get disparate results for all different kinds of industries. Some industries can knock it down to virtually zero, others take the full hit. So why not just de-clutter the code and bring the whole thing down so you don't have to have an army of tax --

[07:55:05] CUOMO: But the optics are, you're going to help who you are. And if you're a Goldman Sachs guy, you're going to help the big banks, you're going to help the rich. That's what's happened in history.

FORBES: Well --

CUOMO: And Trump said he would be different. That he owed those people nothing. That he wouldn't cut deals with the same old cronies, he would drain the swamp. And the joke now has become he's just bringing in bigger alligators.

HARLOW: I mean, his last campaign actually had this ominous image of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein. I mean, he hammered Goldman on the trail. Now he's got three big Goldman Guys in Bannon, Mnuchin and Cohen.

FORBES: Well, Goldman has done -- in terms of a crony capitalism has done a share of it. But what I think --

HARLOW: Gary Cohen is the president.

FORBES: I know. But --

HARLOW: And now he's going to run the National Economic Council.

FORBES: But the thing is, what are the policies? You know, Franklin Roosevelt got a lot of criticism when he brought Joseph Kennedy to be first head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. A plunger, a guy who drove stocks down, the kind of guy who normally would have gone to jail in the modern era. Roosevelt figured this guy knows where everything is, he can get it done. And Kennedy was a successful SEC chairman. And so I think what Trump here is, how do you get these big things done? If you sharply reduce the tax code for individuals and for businesses,

especially small businesses, that's a key part of it, he's going to have a fight with the House on this.

HARLOW: Can I --

FORBES: Getting small business taxes down, getting them deregulated, that's how you start to get the economy moving.

HARLOW: Can I ask, how would you advise when it comes to all of these companies? This week it's Lockheed Martin stocks fall 3 percent on this tweet, saying the F-35 program is total -- way over budget. Then like just a few days before that it was Boeing, all the Air Force Ones too expensive.

FORBES: This --

HARLOW: A few weeks before that it's Carrier. Can you do that when you're a sitting president, just constantly --


HARLOW: But is that the most effective way to change things?

FORBES: What he's underscoring, sure, it shows he's not a tool of corporate America when each day he's whacking something that he doesn't like out there. But on the Lockheed thing, this is very significant when Mattis became secretary of Defense. Why is it that these weapons system programs for decades always take 15, 20 years, three, four times, five times over budget? The procurement system of the Defense Department hasn't had a really serious review, I don't think, since the early --

CUOMO: Because there are deep pocket rich guys that are friends with the guys in government and they get those fat contracts. Now we've got a bunch of them in the Cabinet.

FORBES: You know what drives up the costs? Just horrendously is the constant changes you make. You know, when you remodel your house, you know if you start making change orders, the price starts really to zoom up. They do this on a daily basis.

CUOMO: Got sweetheart deals also.

FORBES: And if you clean that out, you get a simplified -- I used to head up the oversight board for radio for Europe and Radio Liberty. And peculiarity of the laws we didn't have to go by government contracting regulations so when we put in a new radio transmitter, we could do it at a fraction of the cost of the Voice of America because we didn't have this pile of regulations. You start to remove that out of the way you're going to get serious savings. But you have to have people who know what the problem is. And that's what I think he's trying to do.

CUOMO: So let's see what the specifics are. What regulations. How the policies come down. We'll have you back on to help guide us through it, why it's good for America.

FORBES: Looking forward to it. Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks for coming in, Steve.

FORBES: Thank you.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

What do you think? Do the players matter on the field or just as Steve Forbes says, is it about how many points they put up on the board? Tweet us @newday. Post your comment on

There is a lot of news. There's a big announcement from the Trump transition team. Rudy Giuliani is going to be on in a few minutes. Let's get to it.


TRUMP: He knows many of the players. He knows them well.

CUOMO: Trump announcing his nominee for secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: I often get 50 votes.

TRUMP: Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice.

MCCAIN: I don't see how anybody can 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 cyber activity.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: This smells like politics. Plain and simple.

TRUMP: I'm 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.


CUOMO: Good morning to you. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, December 13th, 8:00 in the East. Alisyn is off, Poppy Harlow joins me this morning. Always a pleasure.

HARLOW: Good morning. You too. CUOMO: And we bring you breaking news. President-elect Donald Trump

has chosen his secretary of State. The nominee is ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson. Bigger names. Romney, Rudy Giuliani, what happened to them? Rudy Giuliani is going to have his reaction to this and the situation with Russia in just a moment.

HARLOW: It's going to be a great interview. Before that, Tillerson's confirmation hearing could get heated, likely will, why? Because you've got senators on both sides of the aisle with some major concerns. One Republican senator even calling it unnerving because of his close ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

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 outside of Trump Tower here in Manhattan.

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Poppy, good morning. You know, a number of GOP leaders have already come forward in support of Tillerson. People like Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich.