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Adviser Contradicts Trump: Russians Hacked The U.S.; House Republicans Gut Independent Ethics Watchdog; Church Shooter Ruled Competent For Sentencing Phase; Trump Calls For Federal Help To Combat Chicago Murders. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 3, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He joins us now, along with David Priess, former CIA intel officer and author of "The President's Book of Secrets".

I think it is more fair to you Mr. Woolsey, because we've discussed this before on NEW DAY, to say that you've never expressed any doubt about whether or not Russia was involved. You say that it's just a more complex picture. Who was involved, who else was involved, what trickery is involved, why they did it? That all of those are separate considerations. But I don't remember you, to my recollection, ever questioning the intelligence reports that Russia was somehow involved here. Your comment?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The intelligence reports usually say something more than 'somehow involved'. But I want to go back to your initial use of the word behind -- who is behind this. This is not an organized operation that is hacking into a target. It's not like taking a number at a bakery and standing in line to politely get your dozen cookies you want to buy. It's more like a bunch of jackals at the carcass of an antelope.

Is it Russian? Probably some. Is it some Chinese and Iranian? Maybe, who knows? Somebody may be getting more and more information about it. We may find out more from Mr. Trump coming up today. We may find out more from the people in the intelligence community, but it shouldn't be portrayed as one guilty party. It's much more complicated than that.

CUOMO: If it is, just a couple of follow-up questions for you. The intelligence community has not communicated it the way you just did. They don't say we think it's Russia and so, so, so. When Clapper came out in early October with his assessment of this, he included nobody else. He talked about Russia.

And to what the president-elect may or may not say, as you know, it is reported that he was going to come out with what he knows. What can he know that the intelligence communities don't know? We do know that there's a mixed signal from his own team about whether or not he's gotten any intel reports about the hacking, specifically, but what could he know that the intelligence agencies do not?

WOOLSEY: Well, he could have people talking to him from within the system. I've had a couple talk to me. And when something like this drags on for a substantial period of time people in the system sometimes will call you and say, you know, here's what I know. And so, I think the possibility that there's more than one country involved is really there and I don't think people ought to say they know for sure that there's only one. I don't think they're likely to be proven correct.

CUOMO: Mr. Priess, you know, we've had Bob Baer, we've had Phil Mudd, and now a bunch of other men and women from your community. Nobody has heard that it could be anybody other than Russia. The question of motive gets very muddy, very quickly. I'm not going there. I'm just talking about these digital fingerprints and the ownership of Russia as a motivator of these hacks. What is your understanding?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, AUTHOR, "THE PRESIDENT'S BOOK OF SECRETS": Well, this is the kind of thing that would appear, you know, a full-out assessment in something like the president's daily brief and you wouldn't just have the tweets or the headline of Russia responsible.

What a full piece of analysis does is it gives the bottom line judgment and then it gives the reasons for that judgment -- the evidence from all sources of intelligence, top secret -- to give the reader a sense of why the intelligence community believes what it believes. And in that piece there may be nuance, there may be alternative explanations.

The bottom line judgment has been put out there publically. We have not seen the full page or the full couple of pages where all of those details are laid out. That may be part of this full assessment that's coming within the next couple of weeks but, surely, in the president's daily brief in the last several weeks there have been these assessments that have that level of nuance in them.

CUOMO: Do you have any reason to believe that the intel agencies would be talking about Russia and neglecting the fact that it was also China?

PRIESS: It would surprise me if the intelligence analysts looking at this have not looked at every alternative given the stakes of the issues and, frankly, given the ethics of intelligence analysis. This is their job. This is what they do. They look at the situation, they look at the facts that are known. They look at what is unknown but what is likely, based on past history. They put it all together and they use some of the best intelligence collection in the world to do it.

The assessments that are put forward to the president, and the president-elect now if he chooses to receive the briefings, that is serious analysis and not just somebody winging it one day.

CUOMO: And when it comes to winging it there is something about this, Mr. Woolsey, that smacks of politics. That the president-elect is using this as a device somehow either to shield Russia or to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our intelligence community. He's gone as far as to say what about those WMD's back there with Bush and Iraq? They were wrong about that. They said they knew what that was, too. Do you think that's a fair comparison and fair to undermine the intel efforts?

[07:35:13] WOOLSEY: Well, you know, they were wrong about one of the weapons of mass destruction but the other two, chemical and bacteriological, those were, in fact, in Saddam's hands. He used the chemicals against the Kurds and his brother-in-law was the head of the biological weapons program and defected to us. So when people say there were no WMD's in Iraq they're talking about nuclear, but they're not talking about the other two out of three WMD's.

CUOMO: Well, it's not people. I'm talking about the president-elect and he says as part of his rationale for questioning this intelligence, he's saying the intel community gets things wrong. Look at those WMD's. And he goes very hard at protecting Russia, apparently --

WOOLSEY: It looks like they --

CUOMO: -- by not saying what the rest of the intel community says.

WOOLSEY: It looks like they got the nuclear weapon side of it wrong.

PRIESS: Let me say, Chris --

CUOMO: Go ahead, sir.

PRIESS: -- every day in the president's daily brief there are often dozens of intelligence assessments. That's every day. One judgment from 13 or 14 years ago that was not perfect is a very thin read to hang this criticism of the intelligence community on because nobody learns better from their past mistakes than the intelligence community.

When I spoke with all the living former presidents and vice presidents, they talked a lot about how they felt that the president's daily briefing and the intelligence that they got, got better over time because of that self-reflection in the intelligence community.

So even if you chalk up to the intelligence community a failure on the Iraq WMD question, there's a whole lot of learning that's gone on since then to make sure that the assessments coming out now do not make these same mistakes as before. If anything, there should be more confidence in the assessments coming out of the intelligence community now.

CUOMO: Well, Mr. Priess, thank you very much for your perspective as a former CIA officer. And, of course, Mr. Woolsey, former CIA director, appreciate your take on these. And we await to see if the president-elect does, in fact, know something that the intelligence community has not communicated. Be well.

PRIESS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: House Republicans secretly voting to weaken an independent watchdog of Congress. How will Democrats fight back in this new Republican-controlled Congress? We'll ask a Democratic lawmaker, next.


[07:40:50] CAMEROTA: So, even before the new Congress is sworn in today, House GOP leaders voted last night behind closed doors to gut the Independent Ethics Commission that was tasked with keeping Congress on the straight and narrow. What will Democrats do now? Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee from Michigan. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.

CAMEROTA: Why do you think Republicans voted last night to get rid of the office of ethics -- the congressional office of ethics?

KILDEE: Well, it's beyond my comprehension and it is a question that they are going to have to answer. You know, you have to wonder if they had been running last fall on a platform that says on day one they were going to not repeal the Affordable Care Act, not come up with an infrastructure bill, not work on the priorities that they -- that the American people want them to work on -- but if they had campaigned on the idea that they're going to end the Office of Congressional Ethics, what do you think the citizens of the United States would have done?

It was dishonest for them to do this in the middle of the night and to try to bring it up without any debate at all. And, unfortunately, it looks like this will probably pass. I think it's a terrible moment for Congress and it's something that they should be ashamed of.

CAMEROTA: You know, the nighttime, behind closed doors vote does give it an air of something secret. Some sort of -- I don't know. I'm struggling for the word because I don't to cast aspersions. Maybe this was totally on the up and up, but why did they do it behind closed doors?

KILDEE: Well, I mean, obviously, they don't want to have to answer questions or have a real debate. I assume they thought they could get this done without much notice, but it's just beyond me. I mean, do we really think that what Washington needs -- what the Congress of the United States needs is less ethics? Is that draining the swamp?

I guess the question, really, we have to ask ourselves is why is the environment in Washington now one that allows this sort of thing to take place? Have we seen the standards lowered this far that the Office of Congressional Ethics can be eliminated without a debate, and the rules package? This is really incomprehensible.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Bob Goodlatte is one of the people who spearheaded this effort and it sounds like what he felt about the OCE was that it was overzealous, it sometimes engaged in overreaching, and it could have the potential to deny people their due process.

KILDEE: Well then, if those are real problems, hold a hearing. Come up with solutions. Fix it. But don't decide that the independent nature of the Office of Congressional Ethics needs to be completely eliminated because there are maybe some problems. Now, you know, I'm open to suggestions that there might be ways to improve any aspect of government or any aspect of oversight, including ethical oversight.

But to simply say that because there have been some problems, perhaps, we're going to eliminate the public's avenue to blow the whistle on misconduct by a member of a Congress, it is -- it's just a bridge too far and this is not a good start for the 115th Congress and for complete Republican control of government. If this is the way they intend to govern for the next couple of years we better fasten our seatbelts.

CAMEROTA: So what are Democrats going to do?

KILDEE: Well, this is the -- this government belongs to the American people. We'll take our case to the American people. And I'm confident that there are enough Republican members of Congress -- if they begin to hear from their constituents exactly what they feel about this that, perhaps, they'll have to make an about-face on this. It's just unbelievable to me that we're going to be sworn in at noon today and one of the first things they're going to bring up is a rules package that eliminates the Office of Congressional Ethics. It's just beyond belief.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, your timeline is very shortened and accelerated since you're going to vote on it today.

KILDEE: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: I don't that people are going to be able to contact their representatives and tell them that they don't want this to happen. So --

[07:45:04] KILDEE: Well, they -- you know, they may vote on it today, we'll see. There may be some folks who are against that. But even if they do, this is not over. We're not -- we're not going to just sort of say oh, we lost this one. The American people are going to weigh in on this and they may have to make a change.

CAMEROTA: Obamacare. As you know, your Republican colleagues have said that that's their first order of business. They're going to repeal it and there are various ideas out there among some of your colleagues about what to replace it with. So, what do Democrats do today about that?

KILDEE: Well, obviously, what the Republicans are suggesting is to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no idea how to replace it, and it speaks to how difficult this is. Look, obviously, there are ways to improve any law and there would be ways to improve the Affordable Care Act. I just heard Dr. Emanuel on your show suggesting some of those ways. We ought to be focusing on that.

But the Republican Party and the Republicans in Congress are suddenly now in a position where they don't have a presidential veto to prevent them from their own decisions. They had the freedom to vote 50 or 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act knowing that President Obama would not let that come to pass. It wouldn't become law.

They're going to have to explain to 20 million Americans why they're taking their health care away from them. Why a 26-year-old or 25- year-old can no longer be on their parent's health care. Why you can be kicked off your insurance if you get sick. Why you cannot get insurance because you have diabetes. They're going to have to explain that.

This is about real people and this is not going to be some sort of esoteric political conversation. This is about the health and lives of Americans. If they don't understand that and they take this repeal act without knowing how they're going to replace it -- this is not just about politics or about the next election. This is about the health of American citizens.


KILDEE: It's hard to believe.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY. We will be watching with great interest as this 115th Congress unfolds. Thank you.

KILDEE: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: -- Chris.

CUOMO: Something else that's hard to believe. Chicago has more shootings and gun deaths than New York and L.A. combined. Why? Is there a solution? President-elect Trump is calling for federal help. Does that make sense? Next.


[07:51:15] CAMEROTA: We have a terrible story to tell you right now. Four children were killed in a tragic accident at a mobile home park in Texas. Fire officials say that they were poisoned on Monday when a family member used water to try to wash off a pesticide and it caused a deadly chemical reaction. At least five other people were hospitalized, including firefighters and first responders. The children ranged in age from seven to 17 years old.

CUOMO: So, the death penalty phase of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof's murder trial is set to start tomorrow. A federal judge ruling that Roof is mentally competent to represent himself during the sentencing phase. Now, last month, a federal jury convicted Roof on all 33 charges stemming from the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel AME church. Roof killed the nine black church members in a racially- motivated attack.

CAMEROTA: SpaceX expected to resume rocket launches five days from now. The company says it will use revised operational practices to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from California on January 8th. SpaceX suspended flights after a similar rocket went up in flames last September during a pre-launch test at Cape Canaveral. They say a problem with the helium tank caused that blast. CUOMO: President-elect Trump calling on Chicago's city leaders to ask for federal help. The violence in that city is out of control and under a microscope. The city ended 2016 with a staggering 762 homicides. That's up nearly 60 percent in a year. Why? What can be done?

Let's talk to some people who understand the situation very well. Former Chicago police officer, president and founder of SevenStar Consulting, Dimitri Roberts. And, CNN law enforcement analyst, former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey.Dimitri, let's start with the obvious question. Why is there so much gun play and murder in Chicago?

DIMITRI ROBERTS, FORMER CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER, SEVENSTAR CONSULTING: Well, there are three problems that are causing these types of issues. The economics, the education, and the community not being thoughtfully engaged by not just the police, but being under-resourced and underutilized.

Again, these are -- these are issues that not just going on in Chicago, but these are issues that are going on nationally. So where we have a solution here is putting the resources back in the community. Again, folks like Donald Trump using his office not to put forth messages from Twitter, but to lead this country and to help lead our communities in a real thoughtful way by putting our resources where they need, and that's back in the communities like on the south and west sides of Chicago.

CUOMO: But help us understand, Dimitri, because look, those problems exist in Philly where Ramsey was, you know. In New York, in L.A., and a lot of big metropolitan areas have that trifecta of problems that you identified. They don't have these numbers. So what is going on in Chicago that's different?

ROBERTS: Well, you have under-resourced communities that have been largely over-policed but, also, that have not utilized its community members in the right way to help them address these tough issues on their own. So again, where do we have a solution here? We can look at the economic divide, we can look at the cultural differences that are there -- and when I say cultural I don't mean race, I mean behavior. And when you change behavior you change lives, you save lives.

I know these things very well from living on the south side and then working in those same communities also. But these things are very personal to me. I take these things very seriously and where we do have a solution is by resourcing the folks that can really do some help and do some good in our communities.

CUOMO: Charles, what do you see in your comparative analysis of what you dealt with in Philly versus what's going on in Chicago?

[07:55:05] CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, you know, I'm from Chicago originally. I spent 30 years as a member of the Chicago Police Department and historically, Chicago's had a very deeply ingrained gang culture that don't hesitate to use guns in order to resolve issues. That's, historically, been a problem in Chicago. Now, I'm not familiar with everything going on in Chicago but I do know that in light of some of the controversies and so forth that's had an impact on some of the officers.

Now, I think that the leadership there is very good and moving toward trying to find a solution to the problem by adding some fusion centers to a couple of the more troubled districts and really trying to get a handle on what's going on. But you've got a community there that's really traumatized by the violence and has been for so long that it's almost become normal to them, and that's very, very unfortunate.

CUOMO: The mayor is the one who seems to want to get his hands around this and certainly the one that's taking the political heat for this 60 jump in years of sustained problems, Rahm Emanuel.

Let's put up his response. "As the president-elect knows" -- now remember, Donald Trump put out hey, they need federal help there. So, "As the president-elect knows from his conversation with the mayor, we agree the federal government has a strong role to play in public safety. We are heartened he is taking the issue seriously and look forward to working with the new administration on these important efforts."

So that's an 'I don't want to fight' statement from Rahm Emanuel, which is probably the right one politically. But federal help, what would that mean in this situation, Charles?

RAMSEY: Well, you know, one of the things everybody goes to the federal help and,certainly, federal help is always welcome, but don't overplay that card. These federal agencies are not that large. They rely very heavily on task forces made up of local, state, and federal agencies. The U.S. Attorney's Office is also not equipped to handle the volume of cases so it's not an easy fix. We need their help. They need to do it at the state level with the state's attorneys.

But Chicago, right now, is going through a very interesting period of time. You know, the housing developments were pretty much all torn down. Many of those gang members that were in those complexes --

CUOMO: Right.

RAMSEY: -- have been put out in neighborhoods. These gangs that were once very organized are now fragmented and they're fighting amongst themselves. So you've got a lot of things going on in Chicago and it's not going to be cured overnight.

CUOMO: You know, Dimitri, I'm older than you. I was back there with brother Bill in Cabrini-Green watching this, you know, white man in these ragged jeans -- you know, he looked like a monk -- holding his arms up trying to stop the gang violence. And the promise that as you move poverty out of concentrated conditions like Cabrini-Green, these problems would abate and yet, the gangs are still there and a 60 percent increase year-over-year. This is after they thought they'd found the right solutions. What does that tell you? ROBERTS: Well, what it tells me is a couple of things we can focus on. We have to focus on sensible solutions now and -- because people are losing their lives. What I think Rahm Emanuel has done well is he's put forth programs like mentorships, like One Chicago, where's he putting youth to work over the summer where we know violence spikes.

So, I'm not impressed with Donald Trump leading from his Twitter account. What I'm looking forward to is seeing where Donald Trump is going to put resources in areas like Chicago and really address these issues. So again, what can we unify behind? We can unify behind sensible solutions that regardless of what side of a hashtag you come from or what side of politics, nobody wants to see any more killing in these communities.

And what I can say is the mayor, the city officials, the folks here in the city of Chicago don't want to see these issues playing out in their communities no more than people around the country. So what can we do? Let's unify. We have a real opportunity here to make a difference but we have to put forth sensible solutions now. That's the only way that we get this done.

And further, the last thing I'll say, Chris, is this. Donald Trump doesn't have the right to criticize the mayor. The community members that are losing their lives, the community members that are in this city that are fighting this fight every day, those are the folks that can criticize the mayor. I can criticize the mayor, not Donald Trump. I welcome President-elect Trump to come here to Chicago and look at these issues at the ground level and then put some real resources behind them once he gets into the Oval Office.

CUOMO: One thing that is obvious, to be clear, is the problem. The solution continues to evade. Dimitri Roberts, Charles Ramsey, thank you for adding your perspective to this. We'll be talking about this a lot more.

There's a lot of news to follow for you this morning. Let's get right to it.


CAMEROTA: House Republicans voting to neutralize the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Drain the swamp.There's some beautiful people from Dubai are here.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: This man is allowed to have a celebration with his business partners.

CUOMO: Trump taking on North Korea's nuclear threat in a series of tweets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't allow North Korea to get their hands on nuclear weapons.