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President Obama's Farewell Address; Intel Chiefs Presented Trump With Claims Of Russian Efforts To Compromise Him; Obama To Americans: Be Vigilant But Not Afraid; U.S. Senators Question Attorney General Nominee; Court Ruling A First On Religion Versus School Rules; Lucas Picks Los Angeles To Host $1 Billion Museum; FIFA To Expand World Cup to 48 Teams. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 11, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching the second hour of CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Barack Obama's emotional goodbye. We'll bring the highlight of the U.S. President's farewell address to the nation. But first, the story we've brought you first on CNN involving the next U.S. President Donald Trump. Here's Jake Tapper with more.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned the nation's top intelligence officials presented information to President-elect Donald Trump on Friday and President Barack Obama on Thursday, about claims of Russian efforts to compromise President- elect Trump. The information was provided as part of last week's classified briefings -- intelligence briefings regarding the Russian efforts to undermine and interfere in the 2016 Presidential Elections. I worked on the story with Jim Sciutto, with Evan Perez, and with Carl Bernstein -- all of us have been working our sources for several days. They all joined me now. Let me start with my colleague now, Jim Sciutto, walk us through the basic outline of what we've learned.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, this was a team reporting effort at CNN and multiple officials with direct knowledge of those briefings tells CNN that classified documents on Russian interference of the 2016 U.S. Election. It were presented last week to President Obama and to President-elect Trump, included allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump. These allegations were part of a two-page synopsis based on memos compiled by a former British Intelligence Operative, whose past work U.S. Intelligence Officials consider credible.
The FBI is now investigating the credibility and accurate -- accuracy of those allegations which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but the FBI has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump. The classified briefings last week, I'll remind you, were presented by four of the senior most U.S. Intelligence Chiefs; Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper; FBI Director, James Comey; The CIA Director, John Brennan; and NSA Director, Admiral Mike Rogers. The two-page synopsis also included these allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian Government. This, according to two National Security Officials.
CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump. We cannot confirm if it was discussed, it is meeting with the Intelligence Chiefs as well. On note, the Trump transition team has not yet commented on this as have not the office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jake, and the FBI.
TAPPER: That's right, for several hours now we told the Trump transition team about the story, and they said that they would have statement for us. They have yet to provide it. When they do, we will provide it to you. And just to underline, this information -- this two-page synopsis was an addendum, it was an annex to the Intelligence Community report on the Russian hacking. It was not heart of the report -- of the report in itself.
SCIUTTO: That's right. The focus of this briefings was the intelligence and the analysis behind the Intelligence Community's assessment that it was Russia who did the hack of the election and if Russia's intent was to help Mr. Trump. This synopsis though, included in this briefing which shows its importance was not part of that overall assessment.
TAPPER: Now Evan, what we have here are allegations being made by Russians that they have potentially compromising information financial and personal about Donald Trump, and information allegations that there were exchanges of information between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. But, so far, the Intelligence Community has yet to corroborate these allegations, so why even bring it up to President-elect Trump and President Obama?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: But Jake, there's a -- there's couple of reasons why we're told that they were give -- that why they decided to do this. The Senior Intelligence Officials included the synopsis in part to make the President-elect aware that these allegations involving him or circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress, and other government officials in Washington. The officials said that they also included it in part to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information -- potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
Now, this synopsis was not part of an official -- the official Intelligence Community report about Russian hacks, but it really, you know, underscores that, you know, it augments the evidence that Moscow intended to harms -- harm Clinton's candidacy and to help Donald Trump. Several officials acknowledged then these briefings to CNN.
[01:05:02] TAPPER: Its fascinating story, let me bring in the legendary Carl Bernstein. Because Carl, when we're all working together on this story then you brought this to us. This information, the underlying memos upon which the synopsis that was included as an annex in to the Intelligence Community report. These underline many memos, they did not start with U.S. Intelligence, they did not start with the FBI, or U.S. Law Enforcement, where did they come from?
CARL BERNSTEIN, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: The underlying memos were produced by a former British MI6 Intelligence Operative with great experience in Russia and the former Soviet Union. He had been hired by a Washington Political-Oppo Research Firm does opposition research, and he had been doing -- this firm had been doing opposition research on the Trump campaign, on Donald Trump for both Republicans and Democrats opposed to the Trump presidency. And as this firm in Washington started to look at Trump's businesses in Russia, his trips to Russia, his business ties to Russians, and those of others in his family.
They then took their information to this MI6 person in London -- former MI6 person with whom they have worked before to see where he would further develop their information. And over the course of the months he began producing reports. And by August of 2016, he was sufficiently concerned by the substance of the reports to go to Rome, turn them over to an FBI colleague, a counter-intelligence colleague in Rome from the FBI and it was then forwarded to the FBI in Washington, these reports. Subsequent to that, a former British Ambassador to Russia, contacted John McCain, and said there is this information floating around produced by this MI6 guy and a meeting was arranged between McCain and the MI6 -- someone, a meeting was arranged between the former Ambassador and McCain.
And at that point, McCain got the information shortly afterwards the underlying memos he then turned them over -- memos subsequent to the ones that had been turned over the FBI in August. They now go through December. McCain turned those over to FBI Director Comey personally, in December -- on December 9th, and now, people are all waiting to see what the FBI and other investigators produce now that they have this underlying information.
TAPPER: And what's interesting, we obviously -- as we said earlier, reached out to the Trump transition team to get a response to the fact that these intelligence officials provided this information in a briefing to President-elect Trump and to President Obama as well as some Senior Congressional leaders. Suggesting that Russians were making these claims we've been trying to get a response from the Trump transition team for several hours now. I'm told that President-elect Donald Trump had finally issued a response that I can -- I think safely assume is about our inquiry. He wrote, "fake news, a total political witch hunt." OK. I'm not really sure what that specifically addresses; the news that we're bringing you is that these Intelligence Officials provided this information to President-elect Trump. If he believes it's a political witch hunt, that's certainly his perspective.
One of the things that's interesting, of course, Jim, is that a lot of these allegations have been out there before we haven't reported on them, we haven't discussed them. But what changed is, of course, the fact that the Intelligence Officials -- these Senior Intelligence Officials brought them to this level of saying, "Hey, President-elect Trump, you should know about this," for the reasons that Evan enumerated. Who else knows about these charges and allegations? SCIUTTO: Let's be clear here, you have U.S. Intelligence Agencies; they've not corroborated this but they are not dismissing these allegations, right? They are not in-effect tweeting them as fake news. You know, the FBI that has not yet corroborated this but they're not dismissing it, they are investigating. And you have to be clear Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who are pursuing this and in fact want to talk about hearings on this, both to look at alleged communications between the Trump surrogates and Russian operatives during the campaign, but also into the other personal and financial more salacious details.
So, there are multiple outfits as it were in Washington from both parties, that they are taking this at least seriously on the face of it, they haven't confirmed it. In addition to that, we know that on the Hill, that the senior most congressional leader -- the four- congressional leader, plus the four majority and ranking members of the Intelligence Committees have also seen this. This is the so- called gang evade and they have -- and we can see that some of the questions coming out in the hearing today for Attorney General Nominee, Sessions. They have not dismissed this out of hand either.
[01:10:03] TAPPER: And Evan some of this information was floated last year. Senate -- then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, send a blistering letter in October to the FBI Directors saying that there -- that he possessed explosive information about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. And today, Senate then -- now retired Senator Harry Reid said -- his spokesman said, that his statements speak for themselves. What changed? Why is this now elevated?
PEREZ: Well, we know now that Harry Reid is saying this is exactly what he was talking about when he sent those letters. And we know that the FBI has been busy looking at these allegations including the allegations that there have been surrogates of the Donald Trump campaign, who were in touch with intermediaries of the Russian government. Now, none of this has been proven, none of this has gone anywhere in part because of the election -- the FBI had to put a lot of this on hold and on simmer so to speak, until after the election. And now, there's renewed interest in this especially light of the report from the Intelligence Community.
I can tell you, I mean, as early as last summer I began looking at some of these allegations. And so, it tells you something that this has been around in Washington. We, again, we haven't confirmed them but it is something that is being taken very seriously and they're going to have to get to the bottom of it.
TAPPER: And Carl Bernstein let me ask you, the idea that Intelligence Chiefs, people at the level of the head of the CIA; the head of the Director -- the Director of the National Intelligence Agency, that these individuals would bring this to President-elect Trump, to President Obama. Why would they do it?
BERNSTEIN: They want to see that there is an investigation done that is thorough and complete about whatever is there or is not there. And there obviously is some concern that as the new administration comes in with new National Security Officials, that perhaps there might be a disinclination to do the proper investigating. So, they have laid down a marker, they've taken the information to the outgoing President of the United States, to the incoming President of the United States and said, here it is and we are going to make sure that this matter is investigated and it's not going to go away. I think it's very significant and it also does not say that they have expectations of what their findings will be, but rather if they're going to run it down and determine what the findings are.
TAPPER: All right. Carl, Evan, Jim, thank you so much.
VAUSE: Well still become here on NEWSROOM L.A., the U.S. President and his farewell address. And then message from Barack Obama, "yes we did".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I do have one final ask of you, as you President. The same thing I ask when you took the chance on me eight years ago, I'm asking you to believe not in my ability to bring about change but in yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. Barack Obama is ending his presidency with the same message he started with eight years ago, an emotional farewell speech he called "The Hope and Change", urging Americans to protect their democracy. He thanked the country, his daughters, and his wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the south-side, for the past -- for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife, and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. We made the White House a place that belongs to everybody, and the new generation sets its heights higher because it has you, as a role model. So, you have made me proud and you have made the country proud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For more emotional moment joining us now Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein; International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson in London; and CNN Contributor, Jill Dougherty in Moscow. Throughout this speech, we heard from President Obama he was laying out some optimism, he was going through some of his achievements but he was also talking about -- it actually concerns that he has for the future. Listen to the President. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat to our own bubbles whether in our neighborhoods, or on college campuses, or places of worship, or specially our social media feeds. Surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. In the rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splitting of our media, in the -- a channel for every taste, all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Ron it seems in some ways this is almost like a book and not made in 2008, but 2004 when he was then Senator in the Democratic National Convention. He was talking about, you know, we're not red state, we're not blue states, we are the United States but he is leading behind a country which seems more divided than ever.
[01:19:23] RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I was just thinking that as I was looking to that. First of all, that was a very -- it's a very astute and accurate assessment of what is happening in America, that we are in fact, sorting geographically, generationally, racially. Every divided American life, every fault-line in American life was exploded in this election a gap between city and country, the generational gap, the racial gap between white-collar and blue-collar Americans.
95 percent of the people who voted for Clinton said that Trump was not qualified to be President, 95 percent of the people who voted for Trump said that Clinton wasn't honest. We are a deeply divided country at the end of his presidency and I thought that in this speech much like his speech at the Democratic Convention last summer. This was -- this was more of a civic vision than it was a political argument, it was really about how do you hold together a country that is rapidly growing more diverse especially at a time of economic strain. He obviously doesn't have all the answers each of the last Presidents came to Washington; Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama promising to bring us together. Each left with the country more divided but it certainly something that he is on his mind, and he offered I thought some pretty perceptive comments about how we have gotten to this place.
VAUSE: He also talked about what is needed to bring this country together, and he talked about just how important it is for this country to maintain its values.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I so will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America, unless we betray our constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world, unless we give up what we stand for and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: As there, Jill, you in Moscow, was that one last shot at the Russians before Obama leaves office or was that a bit more here?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think it's a message to Russia, to President Putin, and also a President -- a message to President-elect Trump, because after all what the President is saying is, American-values matter. And it would be easy, let's say in a message to President Trump to say that deals matter, economics matters, and that's the most important thing. And what -- Obama is saying really, is that values matter around the world that is really the currency of the United States, is he arguing in the President Obama? And Donald Trump has a different vision in which he looks more to our deals, economics, and in a, you know, black and white more hard-power -- economic power, I should say, approach to the world.
It's also a message, I would say to President Putin, because one thing that President Putin has really attacked the United States about is precisely promoting its values which Putin would argue. It's a way of undermining Russia creating and fermenting color revolutions based on American-values. So, this is -- there're a lot of messages going on here and I think you can be sure that that's what they're referring in the Kremlin, but at this point they don't care because there is a new President coming in.
VAUSE: Yeah, well those also, you know, a small policy it's on one of the speeches actually spent by President Obama talking about -- its all of his successes when it comes to foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If I have told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shutdown Iran's nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11. If I had told you all that you might have said, no sights were settled all too hot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Nick, it almost feels like some kind of rear-guard action here defending his record and his legacy with Trump about to take the White House.
[01:23:20] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Oh, absolutely, the nuclear deal with Iran is going to be one of his sort of main foreign policy achievements on the global stage it was done in conjunction with partners here in Europe. Six nations were behind it and certainly heard from Donald Trump on the campaign trail and other Republicans as well saying that this was a bad deal, it doesn't work. His position -- President Obama's position has always been that this puts the United States and the rest of the world in a safer place because the path-way to make a nuclear weapon has been made much tougher for Iran.
They've had to massively draw down their -- their ability to enrich Uranium to the level that you can weaponize it. They've had massively reduced their stock piles of partially enriched Uranium which speeds that part, so this, for him is a signature strong-formed policy and it has been under-attack. And it is very likely we understand, so far, at least when President-elect Donald Trump to come up for review. Look, President Obama doesn't have a lot that he can point to in terms of foreign policy successes Cuba, then Walden, these are all points.
He has worked tirelessly to try to bring peace to the situation in Syria, peace to -- an enduring peace for Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East and other countries around the world as well. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; Secretary of State, John Kerry travelled the world endlessly it seemed, to those ends. So, he is defending what's core to him there but sort of missing in the speech is a reference that a lot of people look out when they're going to review Obama's foreign policy. And that was his talk of a red line in Syria, if President Assad used chemical weapons that line the world view was breached, President Obama didn't do anything.
The world recognized at the moment that this was not going to be an interventionist President and face perhaps, waiting power and influence, witnessed President Putin's engagement in Ukraine and engagement in Syria pause-stop, pause-stop moment in history. And so, President Obama if you will, was weak on that point in the eyes of many around the world. He doesn't focus on it but he does focus on what he hopes is -- what he believes is important and hopes he's protected going forward.
VAUSE: Wasn't this all about diplomacy and deal-making, there was also one point talking about U.S. Military strength on the world stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists including Bin Laden. With all the coalition were leading against ISOL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half of their territory. ISOL will be destroyed and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Jill how will that be seen by Moscow?
DOUGHERTY: I think if you look at Syria which is really were a lot of this kind of comes together. I think the Russians would say, OK, Obama said that they were going to fail, that they would get involved in this -- involved in a quagmire for the foreseeable future. And I think there's somewhat -- here in Moscow, we told you so, we won't. And they would argue that were able in a pretty pinpoint way to send forces in primarily the air force and be successful in their objectives. And they would certainly criticize President Obama for not doing that, for holding back, and not knowing how to use his forces.
Now, how this all works out? We don't know, in Syria. But at this moment I think Russia would say that they played their hand -- President Putin played his hand a lot more scope fully than Obama did.
VAUSE: This also had question of what role will Barack Obama play when he finally leaves the White House, and what -- just over a week from now. This is what he said tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: My fellow Americans, it has the honor of my life to serve you. I won't stop, in fact I will be right there with you as a citizen for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you're young at heart I do have one final ask of you as your President. The same thing I asked when you took the chance on me eight years ago, I'm asking you to believe not in my ability to bring about change but in yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Ron does it sound to you as if President Obama will do what all the President have done, recede into the background? Will you think the leadership role in the Democratic Party which a little bit is disarray right now?
BROWNSTEIN: Something in between, I mean, as you know, what I mean the tradition has been for Presidents largely to fade away and not to get directly involved in the political controversies of their successors. But, I think this was the latest of a series of statements from the President in which he has signaled that he will be willing to become involved and raise his voice on certain issues. I mean, even before he's left office I can't remember Bill Clinton in 2000, and early 2001; or George W. Bush in late 2008, early 2009 basically setting up as many trip wires as Barack Obama has done in the last few weeks.
Talking about things like climate change, and respect for science, and civil rights, and defending the rights of Muslim-Americans. And America playing a role in the world as Jill and Nic noted not only with its power but also with its values and its experience in a lot of different ways. He is trying to establish a contrast -- reaffirm the contrast at Donald Trump, and I think basically, position himself to argue. I gave him every chance -- I gave him every chance, I was as civil, and cordial and cooperative, because I could have been in the transition but he went in the direction that I think is dangerous for the country and the world. And therefore, I feel the need to speak up more than other Presidents have done. I will not be surprised to see that over the next years.
[01:29:22] VAUSE: He'll also be the first former President in the Social Media Age, which makes it even more interesting. Ron, thank you for being with us. Nic also in London, and Jill in Moscow thanks you two as well.
And, if you missed President Obama's farewell address CNN will replay it. Starting at 06:00 p.m. Hong Kong time, that's 10:00 a.m. in London. We'll take a short break here, when we come back the nominee of the next U.S. Attorney General grilled by the Senate and backing away from telling Donald Trump's controversial campaign promises.
[01:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. The headlines this hour, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech in Chicago where his political career started. Mr. Obama urged Americans to protect their democracy to condemn discrimination and to never lose hope that change for the better is possible. Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General faced more tough questioning from his senate colleagues on Wednesday. Jeff Sessions defended his record on Civil Rights on Day 1 of his confirmation hearing and to the past allegations of racism have been painful. He says (INAUDIBLE) was repeatedly in interrupted by protesters. Welcome all. Let's go back to CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. You know, I was listening to this hearing today, you know, which (INAUDIBLE) in some ways, it did seem to be a master class in deflection by Jeff Sessions.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, as often the case during confirmation hearings. But there were few moments where he gave surprisingly, at least to me, specific commitments, where he said that waterboarding was not legal under current American law, where he said he would recuse himself from Hillary - any investigation - further investigation of Hillary Clinton, given his role in the campaign. And where he also talked about the Muslim ban, and said that was easily, you know, RIP.
VAUSE: OK. Let's listen to what he said about the, you know, the potential temporary ban on Muslims entering United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States. We have great Muslim citizens who have contributed in so many different ways. And America, as I've said in my remarks, at the occasion that we discussed at in committee, are great believers in religious freedom and the right of people to exercise their religious beliefs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:35:05] VAUSE: It is such a different tone --
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it is.
VAUSE: -- from what we've heard coming from the campaign from Donald Trump and all of his surrogates.
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, there are - there are things going overboard. As you know kind of the - look, people argued all the way through that many of the more extreme proposals in the campaign simply were not actionable. I mean, very difficult to execute them. Now, what Attorney General Nominee Sessions said today was really just a continuation of what Donald Trump was saying toward the end of the campaign that rather than ban all Muslims from entering the country, he would instead impose a temporary ban on immigrations from countries in essence that he viewed as infective with terrorism. There is a concept in American Law known as Disparate Impact which says that even something that's neutral, could have a disparate impact on one group. You've got to think that many of the people caught in the net of even that replacement policy would be Muslim. But it raises the question, is he simply going to ban everybody from certain countries, how that would work?
VAUSE: France or Brussels. You have --
BROWNSTEIN: Exactly. If France -- if you're going to ban everybody from France because you think the risk of terror is too great, I mean, they're not - I mean, what he was saying today doesn't really leave them (INAUDIBLE) that we're going to ban Muslims from France.
VAUSE: Yeah. OK. We also heard from Sessions, saying that he did not support a Muslim registry. We also had a confirmation hearing today for Homeland Security nominee, General John Kelly, he also doesn't support the Muslim registry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY NOMINEE, GENERAL: I don't agree with registering people based on ethnic or religion or anything like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Kelly even raised questions about how effective a wall can be if they build it on the Mexican border to control immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: If physical barrier and of itself, certainly as a military person and understands defense and defenses, physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job. It has to be really a layered defense. If you were to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, you'd still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, by sensors, by observation devices, but as I've said to many senators present, and I've said I think, for three years, really, I believe the defense of the southwest border really starts about 1500 miles south. And that is partnering with some great countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And - but a total -- all of these nominees spend through hours and hours of prep with the Trump transition team.
BROWNSTEIN: Right, right, right.
VAUSE: So, is - are these the talking points, would say getting from, you know, the Trump people?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, I mean, it does seem to be negotiation going on between some of these nominees and the Trump kind of high command. We start - we've seen it most directly in the stories about General Kelly's colleague, General Mattis, who's been nominated as defense secretary and reportedly has been pushing back very hard against some of the other personnel choices that the Trump transition is trying to push on him. Look, Donald Trump, you know, ran and won with less institutional support than any nominee in either party in modern times. In many ways, some of these choices like General Kelly and General Mattis, I think, are an effort by him to establish some credibility, and that gives leverage to those choices. I mean, that, you know, that he is not in a position, I think, at least initially. They are just kind of stuff things down their throat. They're in a position to push back because he needs them, especially with everything else going on and all the allegations about Russia, as much as they need him.
VAUSE: OK. We also had the situation that, you know, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, he's from Alabama, he's been dogged by allegations of racism for quite some time.
VAUSE: And we're now being told that when he appears before the confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Democratic Senator Cory Booker -
VAUSE: -- plans to testify. This is what Booker said.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Please understand, I think these are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary measures. There's a whole spectrum of things that Jeff Sessions own words, represent a real threat to vulnerable populations in this country. And it's something that I feel necessary to do everything I can to speak out against.
VAUSE: How significant is a senator testifying against -
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I don't think it's going to stop the nomination. I mean, we have not had a cabinet appointee rejected from either party since 1989. So it happens very rarely. But it is another marker of -- you know, when we talked about the (INAUDIBLE) President Obama, are all that rules of the Geneva Convention American Politics are being shred one by one by one. Any tool that can be used must be used. And that is what the parties, with the base of each party is demanding. And I think what's going to be important - if I had to bet what Cory Booker is going to talk about tomorrow, Senator Booker's going to talk about, is less the comments that Jefferson "Jeff" Sessions made in the 1980s as a private attorney or U.S., you know, out of government but things he has done as a senator.
BROWNSTEIN: In terms of the Voting Rights Acts and immigration.
VAUSE: He has a long history.
BROWNSTEIN: He has a long history. He was a critic not only upon undocumented immigration but a sharp critic of illegal immigration. There's plenty to work with from a democratic audience point of view.
VAUSE: OK. We have Rex Tillerson who's been tapped as Secretary of State. He will also be questioned tomorrow -- a lot of questions about his role about as the former boss of Exxon and his ties to Russia. According to a transcript to his opening statement, he will say this to the - to the confirmation hearing. "Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. It has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war. Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia." It sounds very, very different to his boss, Donald Trump. Is this just to try to appease, you know, his hardline republicans like the John McCains, you know -
[01:40:12] BROWNSTEIN: And it's not only the hardline, right? There's very little institutional support anywhere in the American political system for the view of Putin and Russia that Donald Trump has advanced. Now, I think in the other aspects of that - of that opening statement, he does not rule out the possibility of working with Russia on discreet issues. But certainly, there's a distance between where he - the tone that he is setting there, which is necessary, I think, to get him over the top for the - for the confirmation. And we're hearing not only from Donald Trump, but also from Michael Flynn where the - where the idea needs - it seems to be supplementing concerns about Russian behavior to try to enlist them to work together on some issues particularly ISIS, and really allowing them more freedom of maneuver in their sphere of the world. That's one interesting question really quick, John. I mean, Donald Trump, that he said he's talked about foreign policy in the campaign. One of the things he talked about was really kind of great powers with spheres of influence. He talked about why we needed - we needed China to reign in North Korea. We needed more assertiveness from South Korea and Japan, maybe he has something in mind for Russia, as well.
VAUSE: We'll see. Interesting days ahead. Thanks Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back here in on NEWSROOM L.A., Muslim parents who don't want their daughters in swimming classes with boys, they find out what human rights court has said about the court -- has said about the case. Why this decision could have a significant impact.
VAUSE: A Swiss-Muslim couple who kept their daughters out of a mixed- gender swimming class on religious grounds, do not have the right to do so. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that schooling, including sports, overrides religious convictions. The trial attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar and Edina Lekovic, Communications Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council joins me now for more on this story. Thank you for both coming in, nice to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to see you.
[01:44:53] VAUSE: Anahita, just starting with you, The European Court released the statement and it read in part, "The children's interest in attending swimming lessons was not just to learn to swim, but above all, to take part in that activity with all the other pupils, with no exception on account of children's origin or their parents' religious or philosophical convictions." It basically - I think what they're saying is that, integration took precedents over religious beliefs even if those religious freedoms were being interfered with it. Is that how you see this?
ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, TRIAL ATTORNEY: That's exactly what the court ruled and this is ground breaking. And the court basically put it down to a balancing test, right? They said Let's balanced religious freedom versus social innovation, and they ultimately concluded that social integration in school, particularly as it relates to foreign students to these girls were, takes precedent even if you're interfering with religious freedom. And the court used that word, interfering with religious freedom -- that's critical. But the school's right trumps that according to the court.
VAUSE: So, basically, is there a legal definition here or is it a case by case basis or how does it work?
SEDAGHATFAR: And that's the thing. It sort of leaves the gray area. And according to this ruling, which by the way, will set precedent, because this is ground-breaking. This hasn't - no court has ruled in this manner. I think it will have to be decided on a case by case basis. The court's going to try to find a middle ground, and that's what they try to explain in their ruling that there should be some compromise and, you know, and they gave some examples of some compromises that were offered to these two girls wearing a burkini, was one offer that they were given the parents, refused. And they said that, you know, if these girls had reached the age of puberty, they certainly could be exempt from this. But the question is, what is the reasonable accommodation? What is a middle ground?
VAUSE: But with that in mind, Edina, you know, what is the compromise here? And you know, this was a legal case. It was very high profile. Could the parents have avoided this, maybe by giving a little bit of room? A little bit of compromise here?
EDINA LEKOVIC, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: It's hard to say. I mean, certainly, I think that in most of these situations, the blacks and whites are becoming that much more extreme. And so, unfortunately, there's less and less middle ground. I wish in this case that the parents had taken the option of their child wearing a full length swimsuit because that would be able to allow the child to fully participate as well as, you know, as for the law to be satisfied. It's unfortunate that it had to get to a court system. But the truth is also that this isn't really about handshakes or about swimsuits. It's about integration. And if the Swiss government or any other European government wants to encourage integration, then focusing on what's happening inside of classrooms. Focusing on what's happening in providing English and job skills and citizenship classes in spaces where people feel welcomed and embraced and where they're given the skills and the tools to be fully Swiss. That's not happening in swimming pools or in handshakes in classrooms.
VAUSE: This is the issue which seemed to be across Europe right now, because there was a civil ruling in Germany with the swimming pool as well. So, is swimming pool sort of the new frontier here, when it comes to the whole integration debate? LEKOVIC: It's a symbolic site. You know, I was just laughing before we came on it. I tend to be on air when we're talking about clothing. And fundamentally clothing, it's a symbolic issue, and I think it's unfortunate when Muslim women or children in this case, are being used as political footballs to be able to, you know, to serve as symbols of the larger issue of the integration and of identity in Europe. And there are so many better ways where we could be having these conversations rather than it's a matter of how much - how much clothing or how little clothing you're wearing.
VAUSE: And then you said that this could have implications, that there could be, you know, fallouts, significant fallouts (INAUDIBLE) what are we looking at here, though, in legal terms?
SEDAGHATFAR: Well, I mean, this is going to set a precedent. This was a unanimous ruling. We know that -
VAUSE: It can still be appealed, though, right?
SEDAGHATFAR: It can be appealed. They have three months to appeal. But it's gone to three other courts. They've all ruled the same way. And I think, to your point, the court sort of emphasized the fact that, look, it's a balancing test. We're going to five them, you know, something that's a common ground, but the parents didn't want to accept that. And so, the question is, should they be forced to do to that? And when the court is saying and actually acknowledging explicitly, that this interferes with their constitutional rights to religious freedom, nonetheless, the school, according to the court has a fundamental compelling interest in integration. And so, the court, sort of, explained their ruling that way. That the school should have a right to set rules and policies that coincide with the society in which they live, and in this case, that is social integration and assimilation.
VAUSE: And Edina, I can hear a lot of people out there who are saying, if you want to live in Switzerland, you got to live by the rules and you got to do what the law says and that's - if you don't like it, then, you know, you can just leave.
LEKOVIC: I mean, look, and I don't - I don't discount what those people are saying. But we have to look at the human element here. I think that this is - I think that this - it'll be reasonable to expect to compromise from a family that's been living there for decades. If this happens to be a family that is more recent immigrants who might be refugees who are having, you know, cultural adjustment issues in addition to building a whole new life. Just look at the layers of challenges that are there. And again, how do we meet people in those moments of challenge? I look once again, to Canada, as a place where thinking about how we welcome people into our societies and show them that you can be one of us, we can embrace you and learn about you and you can do the same for us.
[01:50:00] And the people will opt in to these customs, to these values and feel less threatened by them. They shouldn't have to choose. You can be European and Muslim, you know, my family has been for generations, you can be American and Muslim without having to give up aspects of your identity.
VAUSE: Canada, always like to call it "opposite America".
LEKOVIC: It is now.
VAUSE: I mean, yes, it just - it does seem to be very different in so many - in so many ways. Anahita, thanks for the legal interpretation and analysis,
SEDAGHATFAR: Thank you for having me.
VAUSE: And Edina, thank you for coming in and share your thoughts as well. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks for having us.
VAUSE: OK, we will take a short break. When we come back, FIFA expanding one of football's biggest tournaments, we'll have those details in just a moment.
VAUSE: Well, after a lot of speculations, Star Wars creator, George Lucas, has chosen a home for his $1-billion museum. Los Angeles will host Lucas' extensive art and movie memorabilia collection including pieces from the Star Wars franchise, this is what the futuristic museum will look like. Lucas plans to fund most of the project himself, LAEP San Francisco in the competition for hosting rights. No opening date has been set, at least not yet.
One of the world's biggest sporting events will get even bigger. FIFA is expanding the World Cup from 32 teams to 48. Alex Thomas has the pros and the cons.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It goes against tradition, is one of the cries from critics of a bigger World Cup, except, it doesn't really. Football's flagship events has already been expanded three times before. Back at the first World Cup in Uruguay, in 1930, there were only 13 countries invited to compete, all from Europe or the Americans. Four years later, and the number of teams rose to 16 with Egypt becoming the first African nation to qualify. Almost half a century later, 24 countries contested the 1982 World Cup in Spain. And it wasn't until France '98, that football's most prestigious events became a 32-teamed tournament. The 2026 World Cup is the earliest it would grow to 48 nations.
[01:55:05] So, how would it work? The most likely option for a 48- team World Cup is to start with 16 groups of three, and two countries qualifying from each group. That would leave us with just 32 nations and five knock-out rounds later, one team will be world champions. All that, would require more games, an increase from 64 to 80 matches overall. Critics say it will dilute the quality of the competition. It is almost the quarter of the world's football nations will be at the World Cup, but the plan has plenty of support within football because of bigger World Cup will bring in even more money than the $4.8 billion Brazil 2014 report to be made. And there'll be extra spots, especially the countries from Africa, Asia, North and Central America, and the Caribbean.
VAUSE: Well, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay with us, I'll be back with a lot more news, right after this.