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Electoral College to Vote Today; Toddler Killed in Apparent Road Rage Incident; Obama: I Told Putin to 'Cut It Out' After DNC Hack. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired December 19, 2016 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's something that happens every year, but this year we're expecting protesters. And there have already been thousands of calls for electors to, quote, "vote their conscience," an unlikely scenario, though.
[07:00:15] SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Donald Trump getting one step closer to officially becoming the next president of the United States today, all 538 members of the Electoral College casting their ballots across the country. The typically ceremonial process in the spotlight, since some are urging electors to go rogue and block Trump from the office. For that to happen, though, 37 Republican electors must switch their votes, a scenario seen as highly unlikely.
JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CHAIRMAN, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: The question is whether there are 37 Republican electors who think that -- that either there are open questions or that Donald Trump, based on everything we know about him, is really unfit to be president of the United States.
SCHNEIDER: So far, only one elector, a Republican from Texas, has said he will not cast his vote for Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to pull the brake.
SCHNEIDER: Some Republican electors say they've gotten thousands of letters, even death threats, after pledging to vote for Trump, regardless of outside pressure.
MICHAEL BANERAN, MICHIGAN ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTER: It's utter hypocrisy, because I don't think that, if the roles were reversed, most of these people would be OK with electors being faithless.
SCHNEIDER: Trump fighting back, tweeting, "If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned and called terrible names," after praising the Electoral College over the weekend.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The electoral vote, and I never appreciated it until now, how genius it was.
SCHNEIDER: Meanwhile, the president-elect's top aides continue to question Russia's interference in the U.S. election, now asking for a unified presentation from U.S. intelligence agencies.
REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING CHIEF OF STAFF: If there is this conclusive opinion among all of these intelligence agencies, then they should issue a report or they should stand in front of a camera and make the case.
SCHNEIDER: President Obama speaking out about the hacking operation in a new interview.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The issue now is not re-litigating the election. The issue now is for us to learn lessons so that we don't have an ongoing situation in every election cycle where you have substantial foreign influence in our campaigns.
SCHNEIDER: Team Trump questioning the president's motivation.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: It seems like the president is under pressure from team Hillary, who can't accept the election results.
SCHNEIDER: Four bipartisan senators continue to press for a select committee to investigate Russian interference in the election.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is serious business. If they're able to harm the electoral process, then they destroy democracy. Which is based on free and fair elections.
SCHNEIDER: And many Democrats pointing to the details of those Russian hacks and hoping that it could sway electors. In fact, Michigan's own Michael Moore, the documentary filmmaker and activist, even pledging to pay the fines of electors who go rogue and, quote, "vote their conscience." But 28 states do have faithless elector laws, and Republican officials right here in Michigan tell me that if any of their electors go rogue, which they are not expecting, they would just simply replace those electors -- Chris.
CUOMO: Right. Now Jessica, lot of those laws haven't been tested for constitutionality, but they're just another nod to that today should give you an outcome that is anything but a surprise. Our thanks to Jessica Schneider.
Let's bring in former congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia. He was a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
Good to see you, Congressman. Best to your family for the holidays.
JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, same to you, Chris. Great to be with you.
CUOMO: So, with the Electoral College doing a direct vote today, do you think that will end the need for this silly spin coming out of the Trump team about the uncertainty of whether or not Russia was involved with the hacks and that President Obama's acknowledging the hacks because of pressure from the Clinton camp. This is silly. We had on October 7 Clapper came out. He coordinates with all the
intel agencies. He said Russia is behind the hacks. Forget about why they did it for now. Shouldn't the president-elect acknowledge the threat of Putin and these hacks?
KINGSTON: Well, I don't think the pressure is on him to really have to acknowledge it either way. I think if Congress could do its job, because the CIA would show up, it would mean a huge difference -- make a huge difference.
As you know, Devin Nunes, the House Intel Committee tried to have a hearing with Clapper just Thursday. And he would not show up. Which I got to say, Chris, as somebody who served in Congress for 22 years, that is absolutely outrageous.
The executive branch is funded by the legislative branch, and they have to have an oversight and they show up. So, if the CIA -- if the CIA has such compelling evidence, they need to come forward without any equivocation and say, "Look, here's what we got. And by the way, we are on the same page with the FBI, which in my -- my estimation has yet to be determined. Clapper is the one saying the FBI is on the same page as he is. But Comey has not said that yet.
[07:05:03] CUOMO: Jack, a couple of things. Because you know better, that there's a difference between having somebody come forward with evidence of a crime, as the FBI also does, and having intelligence reveal its sources and methods. You know that there's a significant difference in the danger of exposing those two different types of information.
And, also, just for point of fact, Nunes may have wanted Clapper to come out and expose methods and sources. Clapper didn't want to do that. But Clapper says he tried to call Nunes three times, which makes Nunes look like he was trying to score some political points and pull a stunt and not actually get information from Clapper, because he could have done that on the phone. He didn't need the hearing for it.
KINGSTON: Well, Chris, I know Devin Nunes. I know Peter King. I believe you do. I know you've interviewed them before. These are really serious guys. To have a classified hearing is nothing to them. There's a room I've been in that I've had these classified briefings. It's a well-swept room. There's no bugs in it, and they can talk about anything they want inside that room. And Devin Nunes is a guy, and Peter King, as well, who have a track record of keeping confidential information, classified information. They deal with it on a weekly basis. So, to me, for Clapper not to step forward is really disturbing.
But, remember what President Obama said on Friday. He said that there was evidence that hacking took place on DNC and on John Podesta's e- mails. There was no evidence that it disrupted or affected the election results. And there is this kind of perception that they broke into the voting machines in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or anywhere else; and they swayed the outcome--
CUOMO: Right. KINGSTON: -- and that's not true. What they did is they embarrassed the DNC.
KINGSTON: And we also know about hacking that you make it look like somebody else did it. And it's highly unlikely that -- that only Russia was doing it. There is probably hacking going on all over the place from other countries, as well. And lone wolf actors.
CUOMO: A couple things. One, the -- Clapper came out October 7, again. This is what they do. They're very confident that it was Russia. They know how to see when it's Russia. We've talked to people who were involved in the investigation. I don't think we need to muddy those waters absent any new information.
Secondly, you're right. It wasn't about what they did to the election machines and the actual polling places, but part of the reason people think that goes back to the Trump campaign, because they were advancing theories about the concern of that and about Soros and his ownership of the machines. That was coming from Trump's team and the surrogates around him who were spreading that B.S. in the days leading up to the election.
So, they have to own that, too. This is -- those chickens are coming home to roost.
KINGSTON: Well, yes, but the irony is the Clinton team and MoveOn.org and this guy Clayton or whoever is behind this Americans United group or whatever it's called that hired the Hollywood actors to try to sway the electors and all the intimidation that's going on of the electors. They're the ones now not accepting the results of the election, and they're the ones who are putting democracy in a spin, to use their own words.
But also, Chris, remember, October 7, why wasn't the president acting at a higher level then? Where was the bipartisan Senate outrage? Where were those senators who are now come for hearings on October 7, because what evidence has changed?
KINGSTON: If the evidence was out there on October 7, surely they should have been jumping up and down.
CUOMO: Politicians not doing the right thing does not mean the evidence is not there, because it was certainly to the satisfaction of the intel community.
Let me ask you about something else, though. You just took an important trip over to Russia. You went as a private citizen. People have to know that. You support the president-elect. You're a senior adviser, but you went there as a private citizen, understood.
You said, while you were over there that, hey, we should look at these sanctions, because they haven't had their intended effect. What does that mean? I mean, they were just put in in 2014, and they were at targeted individuals and entities that we're seeing as bearing responsibility for the obvious illegal incursion by the Russian government into Ukraine. How do we know they haven't been effective? Why would you want to remove them?
KINGSTON: Well, two things, Chris. I'm glad that you have said that. But I will reiterate that I was there as a private citizen. I work for a law firm that has been there for 20 years, and we did post- election reviews in Brussels, London and in Sydney, Australia, and in Washington, D.C. So this was just part of that. We would have done that if Hillary Clinton was the winner.
KINGSTON: No longer an adviser to the Trump campaign that ended with the election. But what my statement was is that the sanctions have been in place long enough to know if the results that we wanted were achieved, and that's a far more tame statement than the one I got credit for.
The point being that has Putin withdrawn from Crimea. Have they straightened out their relationship with the Ukraine? And I think there's a legitimate question there for the U.S. Congress and for the new administration to ask. Were those sanctions effective? And if they weren't effective, do you double down on them or do you withdraw them? Do you get more of an international community pressure to join the sanctions?
My point was, if you look at the results, because they've been in place, are you where you wanted to be? And I think that we're hearing, for example, Lindsey Graham said he wants to bear down, double down on the sanctions. And I think, you know, that's a legitimate discussion, as well.
But what I was trying to do is you look at Russian-American relationships. They have not been great under Obama. A new administration has the opportunity to come in there and say, how can we address Crimea? How can we address the Ukraine? How can we address Syria, where there's so much human suffering going on. And utilize our relationships that have worked. We have American businesses that have been in Russia for 20 and 30 years, and these are Fortune 500 companies that do $50 billion worth of work in Russia a year. Can that not be used as a conduit for communication and some cooperation in a positive sense? I think most Americans will say we need to have a new and a better chapter with Russia.
CUOMO: Jack Kingston, thank you very much for your perspective. And again, best for Christmas for the family.
KINGSTON: Thank you, Chris. It's great to be with you. Be well.
CAMEROTA: Chris, we have a horrible story to tell you about. A manhunt is under way in Little Rock, Arkansas, for a driver accused of shooting and killing a toddler during an apparent case of road rage. CNN's Miguel Marquez is here with more.
Miguel, what have you learned?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is just a horrific and cowardly situation. Little Rock police say the grandmother was driving, but apparently, not fast enough for the person behind her. That man began honking, trying to get her to speed up. She had two kids in the car, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so maybe she was taking a little extra precaution.
When she pulled up to a stop sign and didn't move fast enough, the man hopped out of his car, fired one shot into the car. She drove off, not realizing that the 3-year-old had been hit. Only when she pulled into a department store parking lot a short time later did she realize the little boy had been shot. She called 911, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
This is the second child killed by gunfire in Little Rock in the last month and the city's 40th homicide this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. BENNY JOHNSON, FOUNDER, LITTLE ROCK STOP THE VIOLENCE: This is a little precious baby. Innocent baby. We done lost two. And it's a time now when the community got to say enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, Little Rock police say they are looking for a tall, African-American male who was driving an older model black Chevy Impala. Police now offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this individual.
Back to you.
CUOMO: All right, Miguel. Appreciate the reporting.
People in Corpus Christi, Texas, can use tap water, again. State officials giving the all-clear on drinking, bathing and cooking with the city's drinking water. What happened? Well, there was a chemical leak, and it got its way into the water system. Why? They don't know yet. But they know the chemical was used in the making of asphalt and somehow got to enter the water supply.
That chemical can cause burning on the skin at the least. The restrictions were in place for about four days. A lot of people are still skeptical about how safe the water is.
CAMEROTA: All right. Listen to this crazy story. Police in Hudson, New York, say their rescue of a reportedly frozen woman inside a cold car went cold. The officer smashed the vehicle's rear window when the mask-wearing woman did not answer them in 5 degree weather. Well, it turns out the woman was a life-size mannequin used for medical training, they say. Police say its owner used some very colorful language to the officer who smashed his window.
OK. That looks like a real person.
CUOMO: Wait. Why was the mannequin in the car?
CAMEROTA: Because it was going somewhere for medical training.
CUOMO: The mannequin was?
CAMEROTA: And -- yes, with the driver.
CUOMO: So the mannequin was -- it was in the passenger seat.
CUOMO: That's a key fact, by the way.
CAMEROTA: I think it's obvious right there.
CUOMO: I couldn't tell what seat it was in. So the mannequin was in the passenger seat.
CUOMO: But it had a seat belt on.
CAMEROTA: You can never be too safe.
CUOMO: Is that what you would do with a mannequin? Would you put it in the passenger seat and put a seat belt on it?
CAMEROTA: Yes, I would.
CUOMO: You wouldn't throw it in the trunk?
CAMEROTA: No. That would arouse the police suspicion even more.
CUOMO: They wouldn't have seen it if it was in the trunk.
Anyway, I'm sure he was upset. I'm sure they were upset, too. That's the last thing cops--
CAMEROTA: First of all, that is a very realistic looking mannequin.
CUOMO: Yes. That's great.
CAMEROTA: OK. Saw what you think.
CUOMO: President -- President Obama offering some choice words to his Russian counterport -- counterpart, vowing retaliation for what happened with the hacking. So, how does Moscow feel about what President Obama said? We get insight from Moscow, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:18:38] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In early September when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly. And tell him to cut it out and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President Obama, strongly implying that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the hack on the DNC during the presidential election. What does Russia think about these accusations?
Joining us from Moscow is veteran Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner. Good morning, Vladimir.
VLADIMIR POZNER, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: How is all of this playing on the street in Moscow, in the media, in Russia? What are people there saying about Russia having meddled in the U.S. election?
POZNER: Well, I can't speak for everybody, obviously, but the general feeling I get is that people would basically say in response to what President Obama said is put up or shut up. There's no proof, whatsoever, except that the CIA and the NSA say that they believe strongly that it was the Russians who did it. And that it was Mr. Putin behind it all. Have not furnished an iota of proof.
So I think most Russians feel, look, why don't you drop this thing? Stop jabbing your finger at us, and let's get down to serious business.
[07:20:08] And in addition to that, for most Russians, Obama is on his way out.
POZNER: And it really doesn't matter what he says.
CAMEROTA: Well, look, of course, it's more than the CIA and the NSA. There are more than a dozen U.S. intelligence agencies that say that what they've done is found these cyber-fingerprints of the Russian government. I mean, here's just a couple of bits of evidence that you say that you're looking for.
They say that investigators have found digital footprints known to be tied to the Russian government. Sophisticated hacking tools indicate that it went to the highest levels, meaning Putin's involvement. And entities connected to the Russian government bankrolled fake news about Clinton, and Russian hackers did breach GOP individuals and organizations.
So, I mean, what more evidence do you want? Mr. Pozner.
Oh, that is not him just staring at me. That is the satellite having frozen. Do we have him back? All right. Mr. Pozner, can you hear me? All right. We've lost him from the satellite. That was very-- CUOMO: We'll get him back. We'll get the satellite back. We'll continue the conversation.
CAMEROTA: I'm sure there was nothing that the Kremlin did there to make the satellite go down.
CUOMO: Anyway, we'll get Victor Pozner back. Important conversation to have. You've got to understand the perspective from there. But you are making a good point about proof. This is not about a lack of proof. This is about the intelligence community being careful about how it wants to describe its proof.
And it's a great play for Russia to say, "Put up or shut up," because they'd love to know how the intel agencies--
CAMEROTA: Right. Get the CIA to display their hand. That way.
CUOMO: That's it exactly.
All right. So let's move onto another story right now. We'll get Pozner back as soon as we can.
Members of the Electoral College are set to make history today. Remember, our elections are indirect ones. You vote for a slate of electors. And they're going to make their ballots today, make them formally and make them conclusive.
One elector publicly acknowledged he wouldn't vote for Trump. This is a so-called faithless elector. We've heard about them before. This guy is getting an ugly backlash. We have his story, next.
[07:26:13] CAMEROTA: Back with us now from Moscow is veteran Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner. Mr. Pozner, so sorry about our little satellite mishap there.
So let's pick up where we left off. You were saying the CIA has not presented any evidence that Russia was behind the hacking. But, in fact, they have. I mean, they say that they found the cyber- fingerprints that point not only to Russia but to the Russian government, the highest levels of the government, suggesting that Vladimir Putin signed off on this.
POZNER: Yes, they say. Now, all I say is show it to me. Show it to me.
CAMEROTA: But the CIA doesn't play their hand in that way.
POZNER: I'm not saying that the Russians didn't do it. I'm simply saying, I'm saying, please, do show it to me. That's all.
Now, if you won't do that, then there's always going to be doubt. I'm not protecting the Russians here. I'm saying there's only one way to make this really accepted by everyone, and that is not say that you have it; show it. That's all I'm asking for. CAMEROTA: Yes. I understand.
POZNER: And that's only No. 1.
CAMEROTA: Hold on, one second, Mr. Pozner. Because I just want to say, the CIA doesn't want to reveal to Russia and to President Putin exactly what their evidence is, because they think that then they wouldn't be able to catch them in the act in the future.
POZNER: I don't know how you know what they think. Maybe you have contract with the CIA. I don't. As a regular citizen, I want to know if it's true. And I, for one, don't particularly believe the CIA. I don't believe spooks anywhere, in America or in Russia, for that matter. I want to have the proof. And I want to have it clear so that I will know that, yes, Mr. Putin did something that he shouldn't have done. And the Russians should be blamed for it, if that's true. Just make it clear to me. That's point No. 1.
And point No. 2, when people talk about the fact that Putin and the hackers supposedly impacted the election process, I have to say, if you think that the Russian propaganda apparatus is a powerful enough to sway the minds of 100 and -- what is it, 160 million Americans who went to the polls, that's a heck of a feather in the Russian cap, if you will.
POZNER: I don't believe that at all. And I don't think they even tried.
CAMEROTA: Do you believe that President Putin preferred Donald Trump to become president over Hillary Clinton?
POZNER: I believe the vast majority of Russians preferred Trump. All they heard from Hillary Clinton was a lot of nasty and, I would say, pretty -- pretty harsh words about Russia and about Putin.
And on the other hand, from Trump, they heard not harsh words, but just more or less normal words. And most Russians would like to have normal relations with the United States. And they figured, if Hillary Clinton's elected, we'll never have normal relations; and there may be a war.
So, yes, I think that probably 90 percent of the Russians would prefer to see Donald Trump president. Absolutely.
CAMEROTA: I mean, you describe it as normal words, however, this is highly unusual to have a president-elect describing Putin, Mr. Putin in as complimentary and flattering terms as Donald Trump has. I mean, he has really been making nice with the Russian president in a way that we haven't heard for decades.
POZNER: Well, is that the Russians' fault? I mean, have the Russians bought him? I mean, what's going on here. Is it not -- should you not be talking to Mr. Trump rather than talking to me about why is Trump saying these things about Putin? I don't know why he's doing it. He probably has his own ideas.
But you don't believe for a minute, do you, that there's some kind of hanky-panky going on between Putin and Trump? Or do you actually believe that?
CAMEROTA: What I'm asking is that wouldn't that make Mr. Putin prefer Donald Trump? And if you follow that line of logic, that he preferred Donald Trump to win, why do you have so much doubt that he might have tried to meddle somehow to make that outcome?