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Obama's Unprecedented Retaliation Against Russia Hacking; Will Trump Continue Obama's Retaliatory Measures against Russia; Trump Writing Own Inaugural Speech. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Matthew, one of my producers telling me in my ear, Matthew, that diplomats there have 72 hours in which to leave. How might that impact those American diplomats there, with just that little bit of time?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not very long, is it? But that's the kind of time frame they usually give diplomats when they're expelled under those kinds of circumstances. I expect the reaction of the Russian foreign ministry with will be swift. We'll have that for you as soon as it comes -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: OK. So, let's clarify that. The producer telling me it's Russian diplomats being given 72 hours, David, in which to leave this country. We just heard through our reporting, the Maryland and New York installations being shut down. So, is that much time or is that too much time?

DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR EMERITUS, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL: That's basically the standard. 72 hours is the standard protocol.

What is interesting is that they're closing down these facilities and this could hurt Russians' ability to keep track of certain things over here because those kinds of facilities that do have high tech capabilities and so forth and where the Russians can base themselves outside of their immediate embassy building here.

WHITFIELD: I wonder, knowing that could happen, it would seem there would be a plan "B," plan "C," that they would always have that, that they were found out, or something like this were to be revealed, what's the plan to make sure there's still something in place if they were forced to leave?

ANDELMAN: Oh, no doubt. And these facilities help them a lot. But clearly, the Russians are going to be able to continue to function in this country, operate in this country and very effectively.

What is interesting to know is whether any American diplomats outside of Moscow will be affected by this, other operations of the United States in Russia. And that will be interesting to find out as we go forward.

WHITFIELD: Again, just clarity for those just joining us. The White House, the Obama White House now saying that there are at least 35 Russian officials operating in the United States, who are considered persona non-grata, are being asked to leave. And we understand, through the State Department and other sources, they have 72 hours to leave. There are also installations in Maryland and New York being shut down. This is a widening sweep now. Reaction coming from this White House, the Obama White House, and in support of U.S. intelligence saying Russia did influence U.S. elections. We'll have much more on this conversation.

We'll take a short break for now. We'll be right back.


[14:35:56] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

More on our breaking news. The Obama White House making strong statements with Russian cyber hacking, threatening to deport or ask for the departure of 35 Russian operatives, the closing down of at least two Russia-based operations in Maryland and New York.

Let's talk more about this. I have a fantastic panel of people joining us.

General James "Spider" Marks back with me now.

General Marks, this is what's being revealed in a lengthy four- paragraph statement from the White House. But a lot of information we don't know in terms of the action this White House is going to take. What's your reaction right now?

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, we should all be surprised. I'm being facetious here. Spies spy, and when they get caught, they're asked to leave. That's what we have going on here. Russia clearly conducted an influence operation. The fact that we're talking about this influence operation, i.e., to get engaged and influence the outcome of our presidential election by way of using the Internet and conducting an operation that allowed voters to get certain types of information and disinformation. That's what spies do. We should not be surprised by this at all.

And my view of all of this is that this should be below the radar. This is the activity that we should be able to take, allow to occur as a matter of routine and dispel these folks. And, at some point, other folks will come back in and the United States and Russia will try to patch up this relationship.

WHITFIELD: Am I hearing you right? You're saying this should be done quietly?


MARKS: It should.

WHITFIELD: But the deportation or the dispelling, expelling of these people, these 35 operatives, the closing down of these operations, that should not be in public view. MARKS: No. What we should say is, look, you 35 folks are gone.

You're disinvited. Your clearance for being here, your visa for being here, your diplomatic passport for being here is rescinded. You need to go away. That should be the end of it.

What we should not do is have this public discussion about what we know and don't know and start to open the door in terms of sources and methods and what we can and should do. And again, this is all based on activity that's taking place online, which, again, I view this as a military guy and a national security guy, this is a new domain of warfare. We are conducting forms of warfare, albeit, you could get into intellectual discussions about what that looks like. But if Russian jets flew past an American carrier, a carrier battle group, in the Indian Ocean or someplace else, we'd be up in arms and talking about this.

WHITFIELD: Is the difference here because there was public discourse? There was confusion publicly about the potential influence, about the intelligence community saying, yes, indeed, U.S. elections were impacted by this kind of cyber hacking, and so the American people are owed an explanation of transparency of how this investigation is unfolded and what potential repercussions there are?

MARKS: I think what we're doing is we've conflated a couple things here, Fred. Number one is we can state emphatically that Russian hacking got involved in our election. We can put that on the table and say, yep, we all agree.

What the result of that was where we have discourse and disagreement. Did they, in fact, influence? Did they, in fact, affect the outcome of this election. That's up for the debate, and always will be up for debate. So, we should be able to have this discussion. But at the same time, what we do about it should be our options. All options should be on the table. We shouldn't draw -- this is, again, what I call -- this is analogous to the Syrian red line. Number one, we shouldn't draw lines. But if we do, we need to ensure they are enforced.

Now, we'll have 35 diplomats disappear. All of those folks are spies. Let's put that on the table. That's what diplomats are when they are overseas. So, those folks will be dispelled. They'll be replaced by other folks. There will be a new normalcy that will occur, that will look very much like what we have right now. And we're back to where we are. So, have we achieved anything? We're making a lot of noise. I hope we can put the skins on the wall that say here are the results of what we did.

[14:40:23] WHITFIELD: So we've had a lengthy four-paragraph statement coming from the White House. We've tried to truncate the message by giving some bullet point messaging.

And now we have a statement from House Speaker Paul Ryan. I can read the whole thing because it's only a paragraph. Issuing this statement in response to the Obama administration's announcement, saying, quote, "Russia does not share America's interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world. While today's action by the administration is overdue, it's an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia, and it serves as a prime example of this administration's ineffective foreign policy that has left America weaker in the eyes of the world."

So clearly, a lot of disagreement on one end, agreement on other ends as well.

Our former Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, also with us now.

Jill, this is information -- I guess planned sanctions that the administration had been promising to Russia. Is it still too early to hear a reaction, and know how Vladimir Putin and others are reacting to this there?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They'll probably react pretty quickly because -- (INAUDIBLE). I think one of the problems that this is a message for Vladimir Putin. And the closer we get to Vladimir Putin in making this message -- (INAUDIBLE).


WHITFIELD: Jill, excuse me, I'm hearing in my ear piece but, apparently, the audio is terrible. So, we'll try to work that out and get back to you, Jill.

So back to you David Andelman.

So, contrasting reactions here about the actions from President Obama. This White House threatened that it would do something with the intelligence information that it received. This is the consequence, now 35 operatives who have 72 hours to leave, there are sanctions. We're still waiting for more details on that. But harsh criticism coming from the House speaker that this is too little too late.

ANDELMAN: Maybe too little, and too much, as well. But what's going to happen is we'll get rid of 35 Russian spies here, some of whom were probably accomplished at what they did. These are not necessarily the people involved directly in this activity. People probably in the old KGB, the FSB, perhaps the GRU as well --

WHITFIELD: That this country knew. This country knew about them?

ANDELMAN: In this country. We knew about them.

Well, we know about all these folks. That's easy to do. The FBI knows about them.


WHITFIELD: What's different now is the association with the influence of the U.S. elections.

ANDELMAN: Right. But what's interesting is also that we're going to lose a lot of our best people over there as a result, so it's good and bad. They lose their best people here. We will lose our best people over there. So, at the end of the day --

WHITFIELD: How worrisome is that to you?

ANDELMAN: Worrisome, there's no doubt about that. But on the other hand, this is the game that they play. We have to show the Russians we mean business. We've done that now. The Russians will show they can take equal --


WHITFIELD: Is the message that this country loses more by not reacting to, by not removing operatives that are here, as opposed to what the U.S. loses by U.S. diplomats having to leave Russian consequently?

ANDELMAN: In my view, we had to take some actions. This is the most clear, appropriate, and immediate action. We get them out and then we figure out how to work effectively. And I think --


WHITFIELD: Not just diplomats, but U.S. operatives in Russia?

ANDELMAN: Right. The people that they will be throwing out will be comparable to the people we're expelling as well. There will be people in our DIA and our CIA over there, no doubt.

[14:44:23] WHITFIELD: David, we'll take a short break for now.

We'll continue our conversation, this breaking news about the repercussions now being imposed on Russia as a result of it influencing U.S. elections.

We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Back to our breaking news, the names of six Russian nationals and five Russian groups that the United States will punish for interfering in this year's election. But will President-elect Trump continue what President Obama has just started against Russia? There is some question after Trump's latest comments.

CNN national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, joining me.

Suzanne, reporters just asked Trump about Russian sanctions and then he had some interesting comments.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When Donald Trump says move on, it seems he has very little appetite for economic sanctions against Russia. Fred, he's indicated he would like a closer relationship with President Putin, who he expressed a great deal of admiration for.

So, here's how he responded to this idea of punishing Russia.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows what's going on. We have speed, we have other things, but I'm not sure you have the kind of security that you need. But I have not spoken with the Senators, and I certainly will be over a period of time.


MALVEAUX: So what is behind Trump's thinking? Well, this morning Trump's incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, explained it this way. He said, that they believe there are people on the left trying to undermine or discredit Trump's big win and that is what is driving this." He said, "If the U.S. has clear evidence Russia interfered with the election, it should be put out there and made public." He says the need -- they need to see further facts.

Of course, Fred, the intelligence community would certainly argue they have already presented that to Trump.

As for today, Trump is hunkering down at his Mar-a-Lago resort meeting with his senior team. They are prepping, among other things, for the inaugural speech. He told presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley, who visited with him yesterday, that he is going to write it himself. It will be short, he says, and it will take on a tone reminiscent of two presidents he admires, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

Trump was also vetting candidates for the four remaining positions that are unfilled, most notably, the secretary of Veteran Affairs. It was just yesterday, Fred, he hosted three CEOs of the country's top hospitals asking for their input. He is considering a controversial model, which would partly privatize veterans' health care. And I'm told, Fred, we could get a cabinet announcement before the weekend.

[14:50:29] WHITFIELD: All right, stay tuned.

Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much, in Washington. Appreciate it.

So, Suzanne just mentioned Trump's inauguration. More now from CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. He had a conversation with Trump about that upcoming speech.


DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Reagan is the one he talked about the first, but he said not just the policies of Reagan but just the way the style of the Reagan years. But also, John F. Kennedy, somebody he's attracted to. He felt Kennedy has credence today.

"Look, I'm going to give a short inauguration. I don't want something long winded. I don't like that. I want to get right to my point and write it all myself." And I maybe raised an eyebrow about that. And he said, look, I've done best-selling books, and I'm going to put my energy, it will be mine, and I'm going to write it.


WHITFIELD: So joining me now to talk more about this is CNN national political reporter, Maeve Reston; and Craig Shirley, a conservative political strategist, who authored "Last Act, The Final Years, An Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan."

Good to see both of you.


Maeve, you first.

Trump reportedly saying he admired Kennedy and his ability to motivate people. He brought up the moon landing. Is it going to be a challenge for Trump to be that inspiring and motivating after what many called his very dark speech at the Republican National Convention? Is it likely we will see the RNC Trump or the "election night victory speech about unity" Trump?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, I think he has certainly heard the message the last couple weeks since he's been going through this transition that this is a time to pull the country together and to start taking that tone more seriously. But with Trump it's so hard to predict, even the moment he stands in front of the teleprompters.

It's interesting, he's mentioning folks like Reagan and the idea of morning in America. I could see him digging into that theme, talking about bringing jobs back to the United States and reaching out to those forgotten voices who were such a big part of his campaign and his victory. But the fact that he's written best-selling books, those were about, like, 10 ways to get to financial success or pull yourself out of the brink. So, the exercise of writing the inaugural speech is going to be a very different one from him. And I bet he will take a lot of input on that.

WHITFIELD: Craig, what do you envision when you hear Donald Trump say he wants to somehow weave a Ronald Reagan and a John F. Kennedy into his address? What are the characteristics that you envision that he's talking about?

CRAIG SHIRLEY, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL STRATEGIST & REAGAN BIOGRAPHER: Well, with JFK and Ronald Reagan, these were naturally bubbly enthusiastic forward-looking individuals. And they didn't write their own speeches, by the way. They had a lot of help. Reagan had help and Kennedy had help from Ted Sorensen.

I think Trump would be well served to get somebody to help him. I think they'll go through the speech. He'll have to go a far piece to get to JFK and Reagan standards, the most cited inaugural addresses of the modern age, since Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 when he said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. So, he's going to have to go a long way to meet or exceed JFK and Reagan. I don't know if he can do it but it will be interesting to see. WHITFIELD: Trump also talked about his last phone call with President

Obama. Take a listen.


TRUMP: He called me. We had a very, very good talk about -- generally about things. He was in Hawaii and it was a very, very nice call and I actually thought we covered a lot of territory.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you satisfied with the transition thus far?

TRUMP: Well, our staffs are getting along very well. And I'm getting along very well with him, other than a couple statements, and I responded to him. And we talked about it and smiled and it.


WHITFIELD: So, Maeve, this was yesterday. This, after this tweet where Trump is talking about a transition with roadblocks and the transition not going smoothly. So, do you see that there is maybe a resumption of what Donald Trump said that he and President Obama -- I don't know -- Obama might act as his counsel in some way? That now, that's back on, that kind of relationship?

[14:55:16] RESTON: I think we see this so often from Donald Trump. He likes to play this cat-and-mouse game on Twitter. There certainly have been a lot bumps in this transition but President Obama made it very clear from the outset that he was going to try to do everything he could to make sure that the staffs were meshing, that the information flow was really working. So you know, from Trump's comments from yesterday, it seems like maybe that tweet was tongue in cheek and they talked about more serious things once they got on the phone. Because he's going to need a lot of help, and he is clearly leaning on President Obama for some of that.

WHITFIELD: And new presidents like to consult with their predecessors, so it will be interesting.



Maeve Reston, Craig Shirley, thank you so much to both of you. Appreciate it.

RESTON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: More now on breaking news. The White House announcing punishment against Russia for interfering in the presidential election, including 35 Russian diplomats ordered to leave the U.S. within 72 hours. We'll take you live to Moscow.

Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[14:59:38] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Top of the hour now. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Payback has begun. The U.S. government is retaliating over Russia's hacking of the U.S. election. In an unprecedented step, the Obama administration has just named names of those believed to be responsible. Six Russians and five entities, including Russia's main intelligence body, now facing sanctions. This, as Obama orders 35 Russian operatives to leave the United States, and they have to do so within 72 hours. The president also announcing he is shutting down two Russian compounds here in the U.S.