Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

House GOP to scrap plan to gut independent ethics panel; Terror in Turkey: Police release "selfie" video of suspected shooter; Trump: Gitmo releases must stop; US Officials: "Digital fingerprints" tie Russia to hacks; New York governor proposes free tuition program; Megyn Kelly leaving "Fox" for "NBC News"; New CNN book chronicles hard-fought 2016 election. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 3, 2017 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chuck Schumer's early donors. And the two of them had a phone call recently, which Schumer confirmed to me. It was noteworthy in that Trump told him that he actually likes him better than fellow Republicans who run Congress.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: The president-elect reportedly told you he likes you more than his fellow Republicans here in Congress. Did he tell you that?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I don't want to get into what he told me. This was reported by someone "from the transition team."

Look, I don't know Donald Trump very well. I never played golf with him. I never had a meal with him. I cross his path with things in New York, but that's going to have very little effect.

My guiding light is going to be the principles of our party and what I think are the right principles of our country, helping the middle class, helping those trying to get there.

BASH: But you're not saying he didn't say that.

SCHUMER: He said something close to it.

BASH: Were you surprised to hear a Republican president tell a Democrat leader he likes you more than the Republicans?

SCHUNER: When you get to be in my position, people do tend to want to flatter you and you've got to take it with a grain of salt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And then, Brooke, on the Senate floor, when he gave his maiden speech today as Democratic leader, the sort of - if you were to sum up the speech in one word, the hope inside Schumerland would be accountability. That's what he was saying, that he is going to be really focused more than anything else on making sure that Donald Trump and Republicans who run Congress are accountable.

And one of the thing that I thought was just also fascinating and sweet is that his parents were both there, they came from New York. His father, I think is in his 90s. His mother is in her late 80s. They've been married for more than 60 years. They were there to see their son sworn in as, I believe, the first Jewish leader of either party in Congress.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: How about that!?

So, when we watch, though, the maiden speech, as you put it, watching SEN. Schumer sort of take Trump to task on his Twitter, and especially on national security, Russia, North Korea, there's also the storyline today which Manu has been all over on the succession of tweets from Donald Trump with regard to OCE, which you well know, the ethics committee and how that vote then got scrapped apparently because of the tweet.

I'm curious if you think Trump is getting too much credit for the tweets because now we're hearing there were these angry constituent phone calls -

BASH: Yes.

BALDWIN: - that could also be playing a role as well. That's right.

And Manu Raju and the rest of our Hill team, they are -

BALDWIN: Amazing.

BASH: - having been up there since this morning, they've been working the hall since this whole thing blew up, talking to members, talking to their staff who are getting those phone calls and they are reporting that that is exactly what is happening. It's probably a combination of all of that.

Donald Trump's tweets gave the leaders in the House, who didn't want to do this in the first place, who were surprised by this behind closed doors, vote yesterday in their first meeting, coming back from the holidays. They didn't want this to happen. So, they were given some backup by Donald Trump with the tweets.

If the tweets had happened without constituent anger, who knows if they wouldn't have been able to turn this thing around, the way they did so quickly this morning.

BALDWIN: Got it. Got it. Dana, thank you so much -

BASH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: - in Washington.

Coming up next, two new arrests today tied to that deadly New Year's Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, but the main suspect is still on the run. We will discuss the manhunt and Turkey's response to terrorism with the former US ambassador to that country. Coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:37:02] BALDWIN: Massive manhunt for the gunmen who attacked in Istanbul nightclub has netted two more arrests, but the gunman is still on the run.

Two foreign nationals arrested today at Istanbul's airport. Turkish media reporting they are being held in connection with Sunday's terror attack. At least 16 people have been detained thus far.

These arrests come as we are finally getting a look at the face here of the man who police believe killed 39 people on New Year's Eve. Now, his name has not been released, but authorities say they do have his fingerprints.

Here with me James Jeffrey, former US ambassador both to Iraq and Turkey and a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute. Mr. Ambassador, welcome back.

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ AND TURKEY: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: First, just on the manhunt, as this continues, as they're looking for this individual, and we know ISIS has claimed responsibility, just because you have a face and some fingerprints, Mr. Ambassador, when you look at the geography of the region, how confident are you that Turkey will find him?

JEFFREY: There's no guarantee, Brooke. The border between Turkey and Syria, in particular, remains porous. There are what we call rat lines to move ISIS supporters in and out of Syria via Turkey. They're well-developed. They have hidden cells in Turkey. And that's what the Turks are trying to crack down on now, but I don't know how successful they're going to be.

BALDWIN: With the rise of attacks, we've talked on television before on what's happened in Turkey. How does, how should Erdogan handle it?

JEFFREY: President Erdogan is facing a security threat from the PKK, internal Kurdish insurgency which attack security forces, not civilians, and now these ISIS attacks, which are focused particularly in Istanbul on tourists, on international trade and on the Turkish economy.

He's got to start producing results quickly. He's got a military force in northern Syria that's pushing against the ISIS forces, which is why ISIS are reacting against him.

Erdogan is actually trying to defeat ISIS and that's a good thing, but he's paying a high price for it.

BALDWIN: You had the attempted coup, then the assassination of that Russian ambassador last month in the capital. Turkey finally becoming this powerbroker in Syria. Why the rise in attacks? How is this contributing to the rise of Turkey on the target list? JEFFREY: Two separate issues, Brooke. First of all, the problems between Erdogan and the Kurdish insurgents, the PKK from Eastern Turkey, but they have bases in northern Iraq as well and their allied with the PYD Syrian Kurds. That's a long-term threat to Erdogan.

But he has non-military ways to deal with it. In the past, through a cease-fire and through negotiation. So, that's a possibility.

With ISIS, we've got to destroy ISIS. As I said, Erdogan has put tanks and combat troops on the ground with Arab forces in northern Syria to go after ISIS. That's the right step. They need to be supported by us and the rest of the international community, putting as much skin in the game, if you will, to take down ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa and wherever else they are because as long as they're around, be it Berlin or Istanbul, our friends are going to be threatened and we are too.

[15:40:20] BALDWIN: On these terrorists, since I have you Mr. Ambassador, I wanted to ask you about the president-elect today. He tweeted criticism of the Obama administration's policy of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

He tweeted this. "There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back on to the battlefield."

Critics argue, Guantanamo Bay abuses human rights by detaining prisoners. How would you respond to the president-elect?

JEFFREY: Well, first of all, you have to look at the individual cases. There is a recidivism rate among people who we've released from Guantanamo. It certainly is in the two figures. It is troubling.

On the other hand, not only President Obama, but President Bush, did want to close the operation because of the bad black eye it gives us internationally.

But in and of itself, you have to have a place to detain people, terrorists that you seize on the battlefield, and it's very difficult to put them in prisons inside the United States.

So, I think we're stuck with Guantanamo.

BALDWIN: Stuck with Guantanamo, so says former Ambassador James Jeffrey. Thank you so very much, former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. Thank you, sir.

Coming up next, intelligence officials release new details about Russian hacking of the US election. This, as one of the president- elect's national security advisor suggests that Mr. Trump might need toying with us a little about what he knows.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:45:06] BALDWIN: The classified review of election hacking ordered by the Obama administration could be finished at some point this week. The Obama administration now saying it is 100 percent certain of Russia's involvement.

Pressure is growing for president-elect Trump to accept that evidence. He has all long cast doubt on any sort of connection to Russia.

However, one of his national security advisors tell CNN he has a different view.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES WOOLSEY, TRUMP ADVISER ON NATIONAL SECURITY, INTELLIGENCE: It looks from all the indicators that we've read about from the NSA and CIA and so forth as if the Russians were there and perhaps even principally there. It doesn't mean that there isn't somebody else in there.

Donald Trump is an expert at this kind of weaving around and attracting everybody's attention. It's exactly what he did during the campaign.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": You're saying playing us in effect.

WOOLSEY: There is a possibility that he is, a little bit.

TAPPER: But is that something a president-elect should be doing on a serious issue of national security?

WOOLSEY: Why not? I mean, he's not interfering with anything. He's not talking about anything classified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go justice correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, what do we know about what the intelligence officials are calling a digital fingerprint?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: so, we've learned that there is new information uncovered through the course of the investigation, Brooke. And that is this specific keyboard relating to the election hack that had Cyrillic text, so the Russian alphabet letters on the keyboards that officials were able to connect with the malware code used in the hacks.

So, this is just one piece of the puzzle of many different digital fingerprints and footprints, if you will, that the US intelligence community has gathered and that has basically led them to this assessment and the high confidence that Russia was, in fact, behind the hack and the Russian government was directing it.

Now, Russia has come out today once again denying any involvement, saying the Cyrillic text can be used everywhere and that the Russian government had nothing to do with it. But we know, Brooke, that this comprehensive review that was ordered by President Obama is basically wrapping up this week. The expectation is that it will be handed over to the president this week and then President-elect Trump will be briefed on it by leaders in the intelligence community. So, he will receive a specific briefing about the election hack and why the intelligence community believes Russia is to blame. Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. That's quite a soundbite from James Woolsey. Pamela Brown, thank you.

Switching gears. New York could become the first state in the country to offer free college tuition to families. You heard me, free for families, though, who do earn less than $125,000 a year.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with SEN. Bernie Sanders at his side, proposed such a plan today. Governor Cuomo called college as mandatory today as high school was one generation ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR, NEW YORK: College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success. And the way this society said we're going to pay for high school because you need high school, this society should say we're going to pay for college because you need college to be successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let me bring in CNN national correspondent Deborah Feyerick. So, how will this work? Go to the legislature first. Don't - everyone, play a role just yet.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, exactly. Well, this is really interesting.

New York state college students are graduating with an average college debt of $30,000 and that's just for a basic education. But it's that education that is mandatory, crucial really, to land a job in the current economy.

And that's why New York's governor and US Senator Bernie Sanders today proposed this free tuition to New York's public colleges and universities for middle-class families who earn $125,000 and under.

It seems like a lot of money. But, really, for a family who's got children, that tuition is very expensive. And here's how it works.

First, students must be accepted into either a two or four-year program. They then apply for existing state and federal financial aid, the governor's new Excelsior Scholarship. It covers whatever is left over, essentially closing the tuition gap and making tuition free.

Now, this could impact about 80 percent or 940,000 eligible New York households with college age children. It is only for public universities and is expected to cost $163 million a year. This does not cover undocumented students because they are not eligible for state and federal tuition. It does not cover outside tuition, like room or - anything outside tuition, like room, board, books.

But the governor did praise this as really the first in its nation and it's expected to be phased in over three years. It would begin this year, in 2017, targeting families making $100,000 or less. Next year, it would go to $110,000 or less. And then, from then on, it would be $125,000 or less.

[15:50:01] Now, this all looks good. But, Brooke, to go to your question, which is, well, how do they pay for this and is this going to pass since it does have to go to the legislature, Brian Kolb, the leading Republican criticized the cost of this program, saying that it's really unfair to taxpayers because the governor, in his words, is telling New Yorkers simply to write a bigger check.

Now, full-time enrollment is mandatory. And the reason for this is they're really also trying to boost on-time graduation because the rates are so low. At a four-year public college, only 39 percent of students graduate in four years. At two-year colleges, only 8.5 percent of students graduate.

So, it's also designed to fix that problem. Accelerate education by promising students that it's going to be free for all those who are eligible and then you get kids in and out and into the job market.

BALDWIN: OK. It could be great. It could be the beginning of many things to come. But this has to happen in this and this and this place.

All right. Deb, thank you very much.

FEYERICK: Of course.

BALDWIN: Next, one of the most recognizable faces in cable news takes a new talk job. Where "Fox's" Megyn Kelly is going and why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: "Fox News" about to lose one of its biggest stars. Megyn Kelly announced today she is heading to "NBC News" later this year. Her last day at "Fox" will be this Friday.

Her future has been hot speculation in the TV news business. Brian Stelter has been waiting for the news to drop, our senior media correspondent. Are you surprised by the move?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I have to admit I was surprised. I expected her to stay at "Fox" or maybe go to CNN or "ABC". She had been in talks with a bunch of networks.

I wasn't expecting NBC, but that is something Megyn Kelly is known for. She is known for defying expectations and she is doing that again. She's leaving Fox as of Friday, starting at NBC later this year and she'll be having a daytime news program. Not something we're used in daytime on broadcast networks.

Of course, you come to cable -

[15:55:04] BALDWIN: You come right here and you've got it on CNN, yes.

STELTER: But she's trying something a little bit like Katie Couric's daytime show or Meredith Vieira's daytime show. A lot of those have failed over the years.

But Kelly believes there's room for her and a chance to be different. Maybe a combination of Oprah and Charlie Rose. And then, Sunday nights saw the prime-time news magazine as well.

BALDWIN: OK. She's got kiddos. I'm sure the hours will be better for her.

STELTER: And that was a big factor.

BALDWIN: In terms of pennies, nickels and dollars, Brian Stelter -

STELTER: Everybody wants to know. Was it $15 million? Was it $20 million? "Fox" would've offered her more than $20 million to stay in prime time there.

Her spokeswoman tells me money was not the driving factor. That's code for saying, she's actually taking not as much money as she could have. I'm sure she's still going to make $15 million or something, but she's sacrificing some money in order to have a better quality of life, a better scheduled to be with her three young children.

Bottom line, Brooke, she wanted out of "Fox News." "Fox" moved heaven and earth to keep her and she wanted something new.

BALDWIN: Good luck to her. Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: With fewer than three weeks until Inauguration Day, I believe it's 17. Are we at 17 days to be precise? President-elect Donald Trump already proving to be a president like no other.

And his historic run for the White House is chronicled in "Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything." The first ever book from "CNN Politics". Its author Thomas Lake joins me now.

Thomas Lake, congratulations. I lugged like four of those books home for the holidays to Atlanta to give to my family members.

So, I wanted to ask you, specifically, a piece in the book, one of the biggest controversies of the campaign, the release of that "Access Hollywood" tape where Trump was on with Billy Bush, caught with sexually aggressive language, I guess is how we can characterize that, about women.

And so, in the book, you write this. "The video forced elected Republicans into excruciating contortions. Many rebuked him in public statements. Some said he should step aside and let Mike Pence lead the ticket. And then, when Trump refused to quit, several Republicans who had unendorsed him or called for his withdrawal said they would vote for him after all. In a different year, the video might have been a campaign ender, not this time."

And you go on to give a little color, behind-the-scenes color about why the tape didn't really have as big of an impact as the Clinton campaign was hoping. Tell me about that.

THOMAS LAKE, AUTHOR OF "UNPRECEDENTED: THE ELECTION THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING": Yes. My colleague on this book, Jody Enda got a fascinating piece of insight from the Clinton campaign.

She spoke with their director of opinion research who talked about an ad Clinton campaign wanted to cut based on the "Access Hollywood" tape. This would sort of use the scandal against Trump.

And polls showed that the vast majority of American voters knew about the scandal. Well, then a few weeks later, the Clinton campaign is setting up this focus group to test the ad. And it's a Republican mother who is basically saying, well, and then he dismissed it all as locker room talk and I realized that I couldn't answer to my own daughter if I voted for him.

Well, to the Clinton campaign's surprise, more than half the people in that focus group did not know what she was talking about. And that was only about three weeks after this happened. People seemed to have short memories.

Also, there were so many of these moments like that that knocked people for a loop, so to speak. It was hard to keep track of all of them that Trump seems to have benefited from that.

BALDWIN: In 60 seconds, why do you think - I think it's fascinating, weeks after that. I remember when the tape dropped, David Fahrenthold over at "The Washington Post" poofed, "there it went." Why do you think it didn't stick?

LAKE: I guess, in the end, there were just enough voters who wanted change. Hillary Clinton was, other than potential for being the first woman president, she was something of a status quo candidate.

And you just saw, no matter how far down Trump went in the polls, Clinton almost never hit 50 percent and that was a dangerous sign for somebody who was sort of a de facto incumbent. And so, people who wanted the system blown up, they were willing to forgive so much from a guy who promised to do just that.

BALDWIN: This is a book that covers everything. It's about 17 months' worth from really start all the way - I know you all were writing it to the very end, until November 9. Thomas Lake, I really thank you. Congratulations on the book. Again, if you'd like to pick it up, it's called "Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything".