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Donald Trump Selects Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; Interview with Rudy Giuliani; Interview with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 13, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Jason Carroll outside of Trump Tower here in Manhattan. Good morning, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Poppy, good morning. A number of GOP leaders have already come forward in support of Tillerson, people like Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich. Trump for his part tweeting about it this morning, saying "I have chosen one of the truly great business leaders of the world," despite critics who say that Tillerson does not have the type of foreign policy experience needed for the job and is just too close to the Russian president.


CARROLL: This morning president-elect Donald Trump picking Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Sources say Tillerson was recommended by former Republican secretaries of state including James Baker and Condoleezza Rice. Tillerson chosen after Trump's very public vetting of a string of high profile candidates, including an unlikely courtship with one-time rival Mitt Romney. Sources say Trump called the 2012 GOP nominee personally last night to say it wasn't all a game.

Tillerson's nomination already generating controversy with no formal foreign policy experience. The business titan instead forming close relationships with many world leaders by closing massive oil deals, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, sparking criticism from both sides of the aisle.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Anybody who's a friend of Vladimir Putin must disregard the fact that Vladimir Putin is a murderer, a thug, a KGB agent.

CARROLL: This as Trump and his top advisors continue to attack the CIA over their findings that Russia meddled in the election.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It smells like politics, plain and simple.

CARROLL: Trump's camp offering no proof of their claims as a bipartisan group of senators calls for a congressional inquiry.

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I think we ought to approach all of these issues on the assumption that the Russians do not wish us well.

CARROLL: President Obama reiterating calls for a review to prevent Russia from impacting future elections.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was not a secret running up to the election. The president-elect in some of his political events specifically said to the Russians, hack Hillary's e- mails.

CARROLL: Trump's team says he won't interfere with an investigation.

CONWAY: He's the president of the United States. The legislature can do what it wants.

CARROLL: For his part, Trump delays a news conference where he promised he'd address how he'll handle the conflicts of interests with his business. Trump tweeting late Monday he will be leaving his businesses before January 20th, and two of his three children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will run the companies, notably no mention of his daughter Ivanka who is likely to step away from the businesses and serve as an advisor to her father. Trump also promising no new deals will be done during his terms in office.


CARROLL: And, Poppy, Trump will be continuing with his thank you tour, heading to Wisconsin tonight, and continuing to name new members of his administration. Gary Cohn will now be director of the National Economic Council. You'll also have Ronna Romney McDaniel heading up the RNC. And former Texas governor Rick Perry now seems to be the leading candidate for the department of energy, a department he said he would eliminate if he became president. Poppy?

HARLOW: Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

Rex Tillerson's relationship that goes back a long time with Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely going to make his confirmation hearings pretty tough from senators on both sides of the aisle. Let's bring in CNN senior political reporter Manu Raju live from Washington. This is not just Democrats who are worried?

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. It could be Donald Trump's first big fight with Senate Republicans who hold 52 seats in that chamber. Just three defections could be enough to prevent Tillerson from getting this job. We're hearing pushback already from at least four Republicans, including Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and even a conservative senator James Lankford, all concerned about his ties to Russia. They want to hear more from him. And he has to win over Senate Democratic support in order to pick up to win confirmation if he does not win over those skeptical Republican senators.

First he will have to win approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Republicans will hold just a one seat advantage. So what does that mean? One Republican defection could be enough to derail the nomination if Democrats stay united, and already Marco Rubio sits on that panel has been sharply critical of Tillerson's ties to Vladimir Putin. Chris and Poppy?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Manu Raju, thank you very much.

Joining us now is former New York City mayor and former Trump campaign senior advisor Rudy Giuliani.


CUOMO: Mr. Giuliani, always a pleasure.

Rex Tillerson -- Donald Trump had said I'm going to drain the swamp, I'm not going to bring in the big pocket guys. I owe them nothing. Russia has its head in our election. The intel community is always concerned. Now comes Rex Tillerson, big rich guy, Exxon Mobil, and friend of Vladimir Putin. Why should people be comfortable with this choice?

[08:05:00] GIULIANI: Well, I think you're just looking at one aspect of his career. I mean, he's been head of one of the largest companies in the world. He has relationships all over the world. It wouldn't be unusual for a person in the energy business to have a relationship with Russia. Obviously that has to be looked at. I don't know that he's really a friend of Putin's. I don't know Mr. Tillerson. I do know he received an award from the Russian government, but so did astronauts and other notable Americans. So I think it's something you have to really take a look at. He certainly has the background and experience to understand the world. And if you're going to get somebody in that position, you're probably going to get a very successful person.

CUOMO: So you're OK with the choice?

GIULIANI: I'm OK with the choice. I think Donald Trump has selected somebody who knows the world and can advise him on the world. If you pick somebody like that, somewhere, someplace they're going to have some issues that you're just going to have to deal with. Whether it's George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, any of the great ones, they all had certain issues.

CUOMO: What about Rudy Giuliani? If they're picking this one, Donald Trump just said one of the things I liked best about Tillerson is he knows how to deal with world leaders, he's been around, he's a big- time player. How is that not more true for you? You go all over the country almost every month out of the year. Some people know, some people don't that you have very vibrant international consulting and legal businesses. You don't just go to oil rich countries. You deal with lots of bad actors in terms of what's going on with security in the countries. What box does he check that you don't?

GIULIANI: I think the president has to pick the person he feels the most comfortable person. I took myself out of it on November 28th.


GIULIANI: Because it seemed to me the president shouldn't have to go through that I've got to choose this one, this one, this one. I think he has to have total, 100 percent confidence.

CUOMO: Why wouldn't he have 100 percent confidence to you? What happened to loyalty? That's what you guys kept telling us about Trump is that loyalty -- Newt, out, Christie, out.

GIULIANI: I am totally comfortable with being out of it. I have an awful lot to do. It would have been a big sacrifice to do it. So I had to make a choice early on in the game. I didn't want to be in the big sort of selection panel.

CUOMO: But you made a sacrifice to get into the election in the first place.

GIULIANI: That's a small one.

CUOMO: You didn't need it.

GIULIANI: That's a small one.


CUOMO: You wound up fighting battles, getting bruised up. You came out on the right side of the equation, but it doesn't make sense to me. If he wants to reward loyalty and he wanted somebody he knows he can trust in such a key position who knows the world, why wasn't he hammering on you to make the commitment and help him?

GIULIANI: Hammering on me never works.


CUOMO: I've noticed.

GIULIANI: And I actually decided when I balanced my life, three or four people in the process, all of whom were very, very good. I'm very high, for example, on John Bolton. I thought John Bolton would have been a great secretary of state. But all the people in the process, he had enough good people to choose from. I wasn't necessary. If I thought I was necessary, I would have stayed in, but I wasn't necessary.

CUOMO: You think Tillerson's better than you for secretary of state?

GIULIANI: I'm saying I'm not necessary. He'll do a good job. It's hard to say who will be better as secretary of state. You'll find that out three or four years from now.

CUOMO: What does it mean that the people who fought hardest for Donald Trump are not going to be in his cabinet?

GIULIANI: Some of them are.

CUOMO: Who? Who fought -- who came in earlier than Christie, fought harder than Rudy, was a bigger voice of the so-called establishment than Newt?

GIULIANI: Steve Mnuchin.

CUOMO: He raised money. He was on the outside. He didn't take any punches for Trump in the public eye.

GIULIANI: Very, very active in the campaign.

CUOMO: Raising money. Not on TV, not taking the punches, not going to the party in the same way that you and Newt and Christie did.

GIULIANI: It's a different kind of thing. You've got to choose -- running and governing are two different things. A lot of people are very good for running, a lot of people are very good for governing. And he made, I think, some very, very good choices. In my particular case, as he's publicly stated so I don't feel uncomfortable stating it, he offered me two very high positions in government which I turned down because I didn't want to do it.

CUOMO: Which ones?

GIULIANI: I don't like to mention it because the other person becomes the second choice but they were at the very high positions for government.

CUOMO: Was one of them secretary of state?

GIULIANI: It was not, but two very high positions, cabinet level positions, which he offered me. And as far as I'm concerned, he fulfilled whatever loyalty that entails. I mean, it was my own decision not to do it largely because of my personal life.

CUOMO: Do you believe that your international business and the relationships you had and the financial considerations you had made you a compromise in terms of ethics and the vetting process that would happen in the nomination process and the confirmation process?

GIULIANI: No. I put myself through the vetting process before I dropped out because I wanted to make sure there was no question about that. I had them examine all of my contracts, all of my tax returns to make sure there was no single issue or --

[08:10:02] CUOMO: You weren't a lobbyist. You weren't trying to help bad guys get good things from the American people.

GIULIANI: You've got it, never lobbied for anyone.

Here's what I do. I do security consulting. I do cyber-security consulting. I come in and I take a look at your cyber system, see if it works. I do police consulting. I do urban development consulting. That's the kind of work that I do. I don't do relationships with governments and representing governments before an agency.

CUOMO: Gotcha. I don't understand yet, but we'll leave it for today, why Donald Trump wouldn't have found a way to get Rudy Giuliani in there to help him on a daily basis because you've been so important to him. But I get your explanation, I take it. And I want to use this time to get a couple other things I don't understand. GIULIANI: Sure.

CUOMO: One is just a fact question. This idea it's become way too political. With your understanding of the intel committee and what you hear and what you know, is there reason to believe that the RNC or e-mails of high placed and influential people within the GOP might have been hacked by some of these Russian actors?

GIULIANI: Well, OK. The FBI says no. There are other people who suggest maybe yes but the FBI has gone through their system, I think twice, you'd have to ask Priebus this, pretty certain twice, and has found no evidence of hacking of the --

CUOMO: And you've heard nothing different? These are the people who say we think the RNC was, we think some influential --

GIULIANI: Here's what disturbs me greatly. We established this office of director of national intelligence, ODNI.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: He's supposed to bring all of these agencies together.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: It's his job to get the CIA that says that there might have been interference, et cetera, et cetera, and the FBI that says there was no interference, to get them together. We shouldn't be having this battle. The government should be speaking with one voice on this. And that's the job of Mr. Clapper --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- who is the head of ODNI.

CUOMO: That's the discrete issue of the RNC and GOP influencers specifically. October 7th Clapper came out and said, as to the question of Russia's intentionality and its actions and its procuring of actions to get involved in this election through hacking, it happened. Do you accept that intelligence?

GIULIANI: I accept that -- I accept that. I also accept the FBI's saying that that isn't so.

CUOMO: No, the FBI didn't say we don't think Russia had anything to do with the hacks that happened here. You're talking about the discrete issue of RNC and GOP influentials. I'm putting that to the side.

GIULIANI: No, the FBI says there is no evidence of any kind of -- of any kind of hacking. The FBI comes to a totally opposite conclusion than the CIA does. And now it could be a different burden of proof. The CIA can use inferences, it can use the --

CUOMO: My understanding is the FBI won't go as far as the CIA did in terms of motive. Why did Russia do what -- GIULIANI: I see what you're saying.

CUOMO: But that's a key distinction, because when the president-elect says this is ridiculous, the idea that Russia -- hold on. The idea that Russia was involved with the hacking that happened in this election is believed and accepted beyond a certainty by Clapper as the coordinator of the intel agencies. That's why you had that memo that came out from the 16 plus agencies saying Russia is behind what's going on here. The president-elect doesn't accept that, he says this is about delegitimizing his win. Nobody's saying that that's credible in my estimation. Why deny what the intel agency is saying about what Russia did?

GIULIANI: First of all, you have to see the report. You have to analyze the report. There are conflicting pieces of evidence as to all of this. And all of this is kind of leaked, with some people saying one thing, other people saying another thing.

CUOMO: Clapper was clear. He put out a memo on October 7th saying -- it has all the signatures, and the type of circumstantial belief of what Russia does.

GIULIANI: Inference, inference, inference.

CUOMO: No, intel community doesn't give its sources on a lot of these things. You know why they don't do that.

GIULIANI: No physical proof. No physical evidence. This needs somebody to quietly sit them all down in one room, put it all together, and put out the information as owe pieced to --

CUOMO: Why isn't that what clapper did on October 7th by coming forward and saying we've gone through it. This is what we've found. We believe Russia is behind it.

GIULIANI: Since then there have been three other report, three other reports that come to different conclusions. We confuse interfering with the election, meaning the voting, with actual information that was taken like from Podesta or people like that. Those are two different things. There also is some evidence of internal extraction of information from within the Democratic National Committee. I don't know how far that went.

CUOMO: Why would Clapper have come out on October 7th and said, this is Russia. What happened with WikiLeaks, what's going on with the DNC, that's Russia. This is what they do. By the way, this isn't the first time they did it.

[08:15:02] It may have gone back two or three cycles. That's why Obama wanted the investigation done. Why deny that? It seemed like Donald Trump is giving the benefit of the doubt to Russia in a way that he gives it to no one else.

GIULIANI: But it also is what China does. It's what Iran does. It's what China did successfully with OPM, and taking out 20 million identities from the United States government. So, it is very, very hard to know who actually -- who actually did it.

And rather than having this big political discussion about it, somebody should do a really nonpolitical investigation and determine what happened.

CUOMO: What's going to happen now is it will be interesting to see what the president-elect does.

GIULIANI: It has to happen. It should happen within the intelligence community and the new director of national intelligence should get them altogether and do it in an apolitical way.

CUOMO: Rudy Giuliani, great to have you on the show. I hope as part of your private life you still come on and make the case for the policies as you see fit going forward.

GIULIANI: I would be very happy to do that. I always enjoy it.

CUOMO: All right. The best to you and the family.

GIULIANI: Thank you very much. Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: Poppy?

HARLOW: Thank you, guys.

We want to bring breaking news this morning out of Aleppo, Syria. The United Nations say there are reports that pro-government forces have killed 82 civilians, including 11 women and 13 children. A spokesperson for the U.N.'s humanitarian office is calling the situation now, quote, "a complete meltdown of humanity."

This comes as much of eastern Aleppo has been taken over by advancing Syrian troops. The Syrian government for its part not commenting yet on this report.

An encouraging new study shows that teen drug use is actually going down. According to the latest monitoring of future survey 8th, 10th, 12th grader's use of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco keeps going down. Illicit drug use over the past year among eight graders is the lowest in the survey's 40-year history.

And police in Missouri say they've arrested a woman, one victim is calling the "granny who stole Christmas." Officials say this 65-year- old woman has been hitting front porches in St. Louis County and walking away with your packages. This is one of the thefts caught on surveillance video, the woman facing multiple charges. She'll be in court later today.


CUOMO: Hmm. How about that? Right on video.

All right. Now that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been tapped for secretary of state, what are the Democrats going to say? We're going to ask Democratic senator coming on right now on NEW DAY. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:21:05] HARLOW: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

President-elect Donald Trump tapping ExxonMobil boss, Rex Tillerson, to be the next secretary of state if he gets confirmed. This is a decision that will lead to a pretty rough, rowdy confirmation process, because of concerns on both sides and the Democrats and from some big name Republican senators.

Let's bring in Democratic senator from the great state of Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar.

I bet you're glad you're not there right now. It is freezing, so says my mother.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I am very much looking forward to going back soon and I will say, Poppy, it's great to be on with a fellow Minnesotan.

HARLOW: And there -- don't you know.

All right. Let's jump right into this, though. Tillerson, your assessment of him? Let's first talk about Russia and Tillerson. Obviously, that's going to be a sticking point. But then, also, you know, all the supporters of his on the show this morning say, look at his business skills.

And it's true. I mean, when he was tapped to be CEO in 2006, one of the reasons was because he knows the ins and outs so well. You say?

KLOBUCHAR: I first start with what Republican senators have been saying. That's the first place to go for some trouble here. Marco Rubio tweeting out that an attribute, being a friend of Putin is not exactly an attribute he looked for in a secretary of state. You have Senator McCain and you have Senator Graham and Langford voicing concerns. That's a pretty big deal when an incoming president has put a name out there.

I think that's a bipartisan concern. You can see a number of us have been calling for a thorough investigation of the potential here after our CIA assessment that Russia has been involved in hacking at the heart of our very democracy, and all of that is going on at the same time that Tillerson, who I would tell you, I'm sure he has excellent business credential, but Donald Trump has chosen to put someone in as a nominee who does not have foreign policy or diplomatic experience and has these ties to Russia.

And I think that's the conflagration you see occurring right now.

HARLOW: So, look, even some people who were not big supporters of Donald Trump at all during the election, like Condoleezza Rice, just came out with a statement calling Tillerson an excellent choice. It's not just her, it's Bob Gates, former defense secretary. It's James Baker who has served in that post.

Why do you think they're all wrong?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think first of all, I, like many of my fellow senators, want him to have a fair hearing. I'm sure that Senator Corker and Senator Cardin will give him that hearing. I don't think anyone has said what their views are yet. That's where we are and that's what we should do as elected officials.

I'm a former prosecutor. I always like to see what the evidence is and listen to someone's views before you make a decision. I will say people like, you know, senator corker or even Mitt Romney would have most likely sailed through the process because of the fact that people know them, Democrats know both of them, Republicans know both of them and they have diplomatic experience or experience in government.

HARLOW: What we've heard is that from the Trump team is that the two men had similar world views. Trump was intrigued by him because he was really pushed by people like Condoleezza Rice and James Baker. And the thinking is that he will take a -- they argue a tough hand against Vladimir Putin.

Now, obviously huge concerns, the fact that he received this order of friendship. They inked a half a trillion dollar deal with Russia. I get all that. It is being investigated from a bipartisan level, as you know. You're supportive of this investigation when it comes to hacking and how this all -- the timing of this difficult obviously for the Trump team and a confirmation because of the Russian hacking.

You're supportive of this bipartisan investigation. What is the end goal there? Is it to get all the intelligence agencies on the same page? Is it to make the case of the American people? What do you want from it?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, we already a month, in October, 17 agencies, Director Clapper came out and said, in fact, this is going on.

[08:25:02] Russia has been hacking into our systems.

They've been trying to influence the elections and that is what -- why we need to get this out and that's why you see a bipartisan cry for this. Right now, maybe it affected one candidate. The next time it could affect the candidate of the other party.

You have security concerns here, Poppy. Ukraine hanging on with their democracy and the nominee for secretary of state has actually questions and sanctions against Russia. And yet this is a country that has illegally annexed Crimea. Violation of the Minsk agreement, 10,000 people dead in Ukraine because of their illegal activities.

All of this is going on at the same time a man has been put forth that has called for a lessening of those sanctions.

HARLOW: It's an important point. He did it most recently in 2014 at an Exxon shareholder meeting, saying we've got to look really carefully at who these sanctions help and who they help. Let's turn to another subject, and that is your party's loss in this election and where you go from here. Harry Reid fascinating interview with CNN yesterday. Our Manu Raju

gave this interview. Here's one part that really stood out to us about the outcome of the election and some of the reasons for it. Let's listen.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The DNC was hacked. We knew WikiLeaks was coming out drip by drip by drip. They wouldn't do it all at once, of course, because they were coordinating this obviously from the Trump folks and the Russians.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: Do Trump had won this race if Russia did not get involved?

REID: All I know is that Russia helped a lot.


HARLOW: Do you agree with that? Do you think Russia helped Donald Trump win?

KLOBUCHAR: Again, that's why we want to have this bipartisan commission. I think there's a lot of factors that influenced this election. The letter as Senator Reid mentioned and I don't question here Director Comey's motives, but the letter slowed the momentum at a time.

You have the hacking. You have the fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign's decision to not focus as much on some of those Midwestern states and finally --

HARLOW: She didn't go to our neighboring state Wisconsin once in the general.

KLOBUCHAR: There you go.

But our -- our -- the one thing that we can change moving forward from the perspective of the Democratic party and really the perspective of our nation is to focus very -- in a laser-like way -- on the economy and some of the things that affect people in their daily lives.

You've been in our state. You know how people are doing up in northern Minnesota. It's not easy. And so, focusing on steel dumping from China, doing something about prescription drug prices, doing -- looking at our new economy where so many people live in this gig economy where they need a different kind of safety net, having -- creating incentives so companies hold the money and try to invest it more in our own American workers and technology and innovation.

We are now governing from opportunity instead of crisis.

HARLOW: So, look --

KLOBUCHAR: And that message got lost in the campaign. HARLOW: Look, I wish we had more time. That's exactly what the Vice

President Joe Biden said in his interview this weekend with Jake Tapper. As you do the autopsy of what happened and where your party goes from here, that is a key part of it, speaking to middle America, the Rust Belt, saying there is opportunity for you ahead in this new economy.

Senator, it's nice to have you on. Thank you so much.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Chris?

CUOMO: So what does it take to get your top cabinet choices through Senate confirmation? Former senior advisor for President Obama knows the answer to this question. We're going to get the bottom line with the Axe next.