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Team Trump Attacks Intel Assessment; Calls For Russian Hacking Probe By Congress; Russia To U.S.: Put Up Or Shut Up; Obama: Still Assessing Russia's Motives; Hundreds Leave Aleppo As Evacuations Resume. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 19, 2016 - 05:00   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: -- Russian hacking was intended to help Trump win. For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Miguel, after wrapping up his "Thank You Tour" this weekend, Donald Trump and his family are here at his resort in South Florida getting ready to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

The Trump administration still has a couple of holes to fill including the secretary of the Veterans Administration. No word if that announcement will come before the Christmas holiday.

The Trump transition is though pushing back on this U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia attempted to intervene in the United States election to help Donald Trump. This is what incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said this weekend. Take a listen.


REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: If there is a conclusive opinion among the intelligence agencies then they should issue a report or stand in front of a camera and make the case.


NOBLES: Monday is of course an important day for Donald Trump as electors from all around the country will formally cast their ballots to elect him as the next president of the United States.

And of course, there has been an effort by some liberal groups to try and either stall this election to allow the electors to hear an intelligence briefing about this alleged hack or to convince them not to cast their ballots for Donald Trump.

Now there is not expected to be any sort of widespread revolt by these electors, but it is something that has the president-elect's attention.

In fact, on Sunday, he tweeted the following, "If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned and called terrible names."

There have been reports that electors have been receiving death threats and others receiving tens of thousands of e-mails a day trying to convince them to vote for someone other than Donald Trump.

That being said, we don't expect anything to happen out of the ordinary in this process and as expected as it plays out that Donald Trump will formally be elected the next president of the United States -- Christine and Miguel.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ryan Nobles. Thank you, Ryan.

Senator John McCain sounding an alarm on the Russian election hacking saying, it could, quote, "Destroy democracy." The influential Republican joining with incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer calling for a select committee to investigate hacking not only by Russia but possibly by other countries.

On CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," McCain slammed the response of the Obama administration to the cyber-attacks calling it paralyzed.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to find out exactly what was done and what the implications of the attacks were, especially if they had an effect on our election. There is no doubt they were interfering. No doubt it was a cyber-attack.

The question now is how much and what damage and what should the United States of America do. So far, we have been totally paralyzed. This is serious business. If they are able to harm the electoral process then they destroyed democracy which is based on free and fair elections.


ROMANS: So far, Republican congressional leaders have rejected McCain and Schumer's idea of a select committee. They say the Russian hacks can be investigated through existing committees.

MARQUEZ: Now in Russia, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman strongly denying Russia was behind any election cyber-attacks and arguing that the U.S. should either prove the claim or shut up.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling the ongoing accusations indecent and unseemly. Senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, is in Moscow for the latest.

Matthew, what is the kremlin really thinking here? Do they think that the U.S. has the goods and trying to put a strong front forward before worst leaks out or comes out?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The indication I get from the kind of language that is used in the kremlin, and they have been very consistent in their denials since October when this allegation first surfaced at the height of the U.S. presidential campaign.

The sense I get is they are pretty confident that there isn't the kind of evidence that is needed to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is a straight line between these hacking and kremlin security services and intelligence services.

Certainly that's been what they have been saying. They are saying it is indecent now that the United States continues to make these allegations without presenting any kind of evidence whatsoever.

Either give us the evidence they say or stop talking about it. Now it is either that they believe that evidence does not exist or they believe the evidence that does exist, if it exist is so sensitive that there is no way the United States intelligence agencies will be able to reveal it.

Because it would expose the extent of their spy network or their intelligence gathering inside of Russia. It may do more damage exposing it than it would good in providing that proof.

[05:05:03]And so yes, the moment the Russians are confident that no evidence proving a link to them is going to be forthcoming. By the way, that is kind of what the Trump campaign is saying as well.

MARQUEZ: Matthew Chance for us in Moscow, thank you very much.

ROMANS: President Obama signaling he hopes to release as much information as possible about those cyber-attacks on the U.S. elections. The president telling NPR, some details can be made public while other materials classified intel would only be conveyed to members of Congress.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it is worth noting that when it comes to the motivations of the Russians that there is still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies.

And so when I receive a final report, we will be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations. That's precisely why I have asked that report to be issued before the 20th so that those aspects of it that are not classified can be presented in some form to the public.


ROMANS: Certainly this has been a big topic dominating the discussion during the Trump transition here as each day ticks by. Let's talk about it with political economist, Greg Valliere. He is chief strategist for Horizon Investments.

Greg's job is to look at all of this, what's happening in Washington and advice Wall Street, to advice decision makers and companies who hire about what is the climate. That interplay here is something that Greg is better than anybody to discuss.

When we talk, Greg, about the Russia issue right now and the current president saying that before January 20th, as you heard in the clip, he hopes to have more information for the American people and for the world. What kind of affect does this have on the Trump transition, on the first days of the Trump presidency?

GREG VALLIERE, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: A bit. And good morning, Christine. Thank you for the kind words. I think what many Democrats would like to do, they are not saying this in public, is they would like to question Trump's legitimacy.

Saying that somehow his election has been clouded by this. I don't think it will succeed. I think people forgot eventually about George W. Bush's Supreme Court victory over Al Gore. We'll move on.

And I think that for the markets at least, we have seen really dramatic rally and signs that the economy is improving. I think that is going to be more important than the Russian story.

ROMANS: He will have to deliver, though, Greg. That's what so interesting to me. You have seen the dollar and interest rates and global stock markets especially the U.S. stock markets. They are expecting results from Donald Trump and quickly. We have been talking, Miguel and I, about tax reform. Miguel makes this good point.

MARQUEZ: Tax reform, Greg, is enormous. It is bigger than Obamacare. He wants to undo Obamacare at the same time he wants to completely reform taxes. What is the chance -- I do agree with you that the Russian stuff will probably go away. How will this look? Donald Trump who shoots from the hip often, is he really going to involve himself in the minutia of politics and get in there with Congress to actually get this done? He has 12 or 18 months before the midterms start to heat up?

VALLIERE: I'd say two things. Number one, he has the votes. Just like he has the votes today in the Electoral College. He has the votes in Congress. So I think he will get what he wants. It looks like the 2018 election will produce even more Republicans in the Senate based on who is up.

So I think that's a really important factor for him. You know, the other thing on the Russians is that I think everybody knows there was some interference. I agree with John McCain. They lied about athletes being on performance enhancing drugs.

This is not a huge surprise. I think fearless forecast, after his victory today, I think Trump may soften on this and say we need an investigation. I think he didn't want to say that before the Electoral College vote.

MARQUEZ: Is the Senate -- look, the House, the Senate, talking about right now, do you really think that they are going to have an easier time getting tax reform done to the degree he wants through the midterm? Doesn't he really have to show real progress on that before the midterms? VALLIERE: It will be gone. I think tax reform will be done.

MARQUEZ: That would be grease lightning in Washington.

ROMANS: But they are saying that Paul Ryan has been working on this for a long time. President-elect Donald Trump, Greg, has moved more toward the House Republicans on tax reform over the months. You see the signs that this thing could happen quickly.

VALLIERE: Yes. I mean, first of all, the House, the Ways and Means Committee in the House will get a tax bill done by spring. The Senate moves more slowly.

[05:10:05]But no, I think a bill will be signed into law this fall. Maybe the effective date is not until January 1st, 2018. But again, I cannot emphasize strongly enough, he has the votes on just about everything.

ROMANS: But what about the fiscal hawks in the Republican Party, I mean, one was just named (inaudible) -- what about the fiscal hawks who -- maybe they will not believe the dynamic scoring and big tax cuts for companies and for people. They think we have to come up with revenue someplace else?

VALLIERE: Yes, this fellow Mulvaney has been just appointed over the weekend to head the Office of Management and Budget, kind of a square peg in a round hole. He is a fiscal hawk. Trump wants to spend billions more on infrastructure and defense. There could be some clashes there. There could be Trump clashes with Yellen. It will not be a totally smooth ride. I think on the signature issues, he will get his way.

ROMANS: The irony, you talk about clashes (inaudible), the irony is that Janet Yellen and the fed have been asking for someone in Washington to do something for so long. Now someone is the fed will have to pull away the punch bowl to quote the famous line from 1955. They're going to have to pull back the punch bowl just as Donald Trump is getting ready for a party.

VALLIERE: Yes, and they could have a little spat too as the year goes on. He could say, well, she was plenty dovish enough for Barack Obama, she didn't raise rates. Now that I'm president, rates are going straight up. So that is a risk, but that's a risk you get when you see an economy start to heat up.

ROMANS: All right, Greg Valliere, we'll talk to you in a few minutes about how hot that economy is. Mortgage rates are rising. You are seeing things around the world that matter to money. We will talk about that. Get a cup of coffee and come back to talk to us in a few minutes. Greg Valliere, thanks.

All right, President-elect Donald Trump is tapping South Carolina Congressman Mike Mulvaney to head the Office of Management and Budget. If he's confirmed by the Senate, he will manage White House proposals, the annual budget, spending programs and policies.

He's also the guy that set up the federal government's purchase of goods and services and he oversees the performance reviews for government agencies and federal employees. He has been in Congress since 2011. He is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

He co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers, who have clashed with party leadership over issues like government debt. He wasn't always a Trump supporter. Endorsing Kentucky Senator Rand Paul during the primaries.

But he threw his support behind Trump a few hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan did in June. Ryan praised Mulvaney's nomination over the weekend saying he is absolutely the right man for the job.

You just heard Greg Valliere say he's a square peg in a round hole. He doesn't want to blow up the budget, you know --

MARQUEZ: Greg had a very sort of cheery idea of how things are going to go. I think it will be a little more interesting.

ROMANS: I think it will be interesting. I think he thinks we will get tax reform.

MARQUEZ: Escape from the war zone in Aleppo delayed. A fleet of buses sabotaged. A live report coming up.



ROMANS: Evacuations have resumed in Aleppo. The Red Cross says ambulances and buses carrying at least 1,000 people have left rebel- held areas of the war-torn city. Initial efforts to get civilians out of the danger zone were put on hold after a number of buses were set on fire. All this as the U.N. votes today on a plan to monitor evacuations.

Let's go back to CNN's Muhammad Lila. He is live on the Turkish/Syrian border. He's been covering all of this so closely. Muhammad, when you talk about Aleppo, it is always one step forward and three steps back quite frankly. It's how its felt over the past four years.

Tell me where we are now. Are people getting out? Have they resolved this conflict with the burning buses and are people really getting out to safety?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, I think you hit it right on the head. It is not just one step forward three steps back. It is one step forward ten steps back. You realize that one step forward was not as forward as you thought in the first place.

The good news is that after a weekend of so much despair and disappointment, those buses are finally moving again, those infamous buses shuttling people to safety. We understand the latest estimate is around 3,000 people or so have been evacuated from the eastern part of Aleppo.

Now it is important to note that these are not just civilians. There are also armed rebel fighters and their families amongst them. But it's part of the deal for them to be released and in exchange, there are a civilians in a couple of other towns that have been besieged by Jihadi militants for a very long time.

Civilians in those towns will be released as well. All of these transfers are taking place on these green buses. There is live footage showing transfers taking place. The reason that is important is because we are talking about a civilian and population transfer, there have to be mechanisms on the ground to make sure that things move smoothly.

For example, there are a lot of militant groups on the ground that are not just fighting the Assad regime, but in some case fighting each other and all it takes is one rogue element in those groups to do something drastic like we saw in this case, setting some buses on fire, to derail this entire thing.

But the hope now especially with a vote coming up tonight at the U.N. Security Council is that they'll approve international monitors and observers on the ground. Hopefully that will make sure that this evacuation transfer takes place much more smoothly moving forward -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Muhammad Lila, I know you're following it for us very closely, thank you.

MARQUEZ: Now here at home, the hunt is on to find a man who shot and killed a 3-year-old during an apparent road rage incident. The incident unfolded Saturday in Little Rock, Arkansas. Authorities say he got mad at a grandmother who was moving too slowly in front of him. They say he started honking his horn.

When she stopped at an intersection, he got out and opened fire. One of the bullets pierced the window and hit the boy. Crime stoppers is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. Disgusting.

ROMANS: It's 19 minutes past the hour. Attorney General Loretta Lynch opening up about the controversial meeting with Bill Clinton over the summer. Lynch told CNN's Jake Tapper she did not know their talk would turn out to be so problematic. She insists she did not discuss anything inappropriate with Bill Clinton especially not the probe into his wife's private email server.


LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do regret sitting down and having a conversation with him because it did give people concern. My greatest concern has always been making sure that people understand that the Department of Justice works in a way that is independent and looks at everybody equally.

And when you do something that gives people a reason to think differently, that's a problem. It was a problem for me. I was painful for me. So I felt it was important to clarify it as quickly and as clearly and cleanly as possible.


ROMANS: The meeting came right before the FBI, which Lynch supervises was set to deliver its findings in the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe.

MARQUEZ: Now the Dallas Cowboys getting back on the right foot in primetime television. Not only that, they are spreading holiday cheer. Coy Wire with this morning's "Bleacher Report." We will see him in just a minute. Hello, Coy. Good morning.



MARQUEZ: The Cowboys holding off the Buccaneers in Sunday night thriller. The real winner may have been the Salvation Army.

ROMANS: I love this. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. At 12-2, Dallas is tied with the Patriots for the best record in the NFL thanks in large part to rookies Dak Prescott and Eziekel Elliott. Let's check out Elliott's touchdown run in the second quarter yesterday. He punched it in from two yards out and donates himself to the Salvation Army's red kettle.

Elliott will likely be fined for that unsportsmanlike after the game, but he will match that fine the NFL gives him with a donation to the Salvation Army. Jerry Jones says the Salvation Army should give him the highest award. Dallas goes on to win, 26-20.

For the first time in 14 long years, the Oakland Raiders are heading to the playoffs people. They beat the Chargers yesterday moving to 11 and 3 on the season clinching at least a wildcards berth. In 2002 was the last time the Raiders made the play offs. I still have nightmares about that team.

I was a young, dumb rookie defensive back trying to cover two hall of fame receivers they had, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. The Raiders made it all the way to the Super Bowl that season before losing to the Bucs. They are rolling this year, though.

[05:25:02]Chiefs fans are diehard fans. The air temperature at kick off in Kansas City was 1 degree, but wind chill made it feel like 9 below. That's the coldest game ever played in Arrowhead Stadium. It was so cold that before the games, tickets were going for $2. To make it worse, the Chiefs ended losing to the Titans, 19-7. The Chiefs now is at 10-4.

It was brutally cold in Chicago as well for the Packers-Bears game. The game time temperature was 11 with the wind chill, minus 4. That's so cold that the glue on the helmet decal packed it in. A huge hit on (inaudible) knocked the sticker clean off his helmet. The Packers win 30-27 on the last play of the game. Bears quarterback wore a wet suit under his uniform, a wet suit.

ROMANS: Coy, the coldest I have ever been in my life was at one of those games. Sitting with the cold air coming off the lake.

MARQUEZ: She was boozing the entire cam time.

WIRE: Trying to keep warm.

ROMANS: Coy Wire, thank you so much. It's cold and those are people who know how to take the cold.

MARQUEZ: When you get together, you cheer, you huddle.

ROMANS: Tough people.

All eyes on an event we usually take for granted, the Electoral College votes for president. What to expect? Next on EARLY START.