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GOP Aims to Repeal and Replace Obamacare; Trump Admits Russia's Role in Hacking; Trump's War with the Media; New Signs of Tensions Between Taiwan and China; James Clapper on Details; Avoiding Conflicts of Interest. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 12, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: U-turn, Donald Trump concedes Russia played a role in the DNC hack, but lashes out at the media.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a group of opponents who got together, sick people. And they put that crap together.


CHURCH: Mexico defiant, the country's president says it will never pay for a border wall after Donald Trump doubles down on his promise.

And new signs of tension between China and Taiwan as Beijing sends its only aircraft through the Taiwan Strait.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

The top U.S. intelligence chief is offering up new details about recent leaks concerning Donald Trump. James Clapper says he spoke with the president-elect by phone Wednesday night. Clapper appeared to address a document which includes allegations about Trump's ties to Russia.

Clapper says, and I'm quoting here directly, "I emphasize that this document is not a U.S. intelligence community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the I.C." He went on to say, "However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security."

Now, during his news conference Wednesday, Trump refused to say whether he had received that document as part of his intelligence briefing, but he did tweet late Wednesday, "We had a great news conference at Trump Tower today, a couple of fake news organizations were there, but the people truly get what's going on."

CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta was at the center of the storm in Trump Tower. JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump wasted

no time ripping into news reports that the U.S. intelligence community provided unproven information to him at a meeting last week that the Russian government has collected damaging personal and financial details on him for years.


TRUMP: I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.


ACOSTA: As for the U.S. Intelligence communities finding that Russia directed a hacking operation to damage Hillary Clinton, Trump for the first time accepted that conclusion.


TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.


ACOSTA: But he said there's nothing wrong with being friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.


ACOSTA: But Trump is still refusing to release his tax returns to prove that he has no business interest at stake in Russia.


TRUMP: You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters. OK. They're the only ones.


ACOSTA: And the president-elect refused to take follow-up questions from this reporter on whether any of his associates had contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.


TRUMP: No, not you, not you.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance?

TRUMP: Your organization is terrible. ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a

chance to ask a question, sir?

TRUMP: Go ahead.


TRUMP: Quiet.

ACOSTA: Can you state...

TRUMP: Quiet.

ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you state categorically -- Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question for attacking us?

TRUMP: Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: Don't be rude. I'm not going to give you a -- I'm not going to give you a question.

ACOSTA: Can you -- can you state categorically...


TRUMP: I am not giving you a question, you are fake news. Go ahead.


ACOSTA: The news conference was originally scheduled to layout Trump's plans to place his vast empire in a trust run by his sons Don, Jr., and Eric.


TRUMP: As a president I could run the Trump organization, great, great company and I could run the company and the country. I'd do a good job, but I don't want to do that.


ACOSTA: To avoid a constitutional ban on Trump receiving gifts from other countries, his attorney revealed profits from foreign government officials staying in his hotels will be donated to the U.S. treasury.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This way it is the American people who will profit.


ACOSTA: Trump did take on other topics vowing he will sign a bill to replace Obamacare just as soon as the health care law is repealed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It will be repealed and replaced. It will be essentially simultaneously.


ACOSTA: And he promised once again Mexico will reimburse the U.S. for a wall on the border right after the U.S. taxpayers put the bill first.


TRUMP: On the fence, it's not a fence, it's a wall. You just misreported it. We're going to build a wall.


ACOSTA: Trump also said in the coming weeks he would announce his pick for the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. It's a a selection republicans in Congress did not allow President Obama to make in his final year in office.

Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: A lot to digest. So, let's bring in our experts. David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator, and assistant editor of the Washington Post, and Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian, author and professor at Rice University.

[03:05:08] Thank you both for joining us. So, David, I want to go to you. We want to start with reports that Russia has information that compromises Donald Trump as we saw in that report. Here is what the president-elect had to say.


TRUMP: And I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information. I read the information outside of that meeting. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.


CHURCH: David, there are concerns, of course, that Russia could possibly have leverage over Trump. So, how likely is it that his response will put an end to the controversy involving reports of Russia having this compromising information about the U.S. president- elect?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Rosemary, I don't think his answers will put an end to the controversy for this reason. Look, CNN broke this news yesterday. My own outlet, Washington Post, other outlets like the New York Times, have done some very careful and meticulous reporting about the intelligence community's findings and briefings of the president and the president-elect about Russian meddling in the U.S. election cycle. President-elect Trump was sort of, if you will, lashing out at some

members of the media there. Yesterday conflating the reporting of CNN with the reporting of another outlet which actually released, you know, a document that was uncorroborated whether or not some specific salacious and nitty-gritty details about President Trump's activities that may or may not have taken place with regard to Russia.

But the thing that jumped out at me from this conference, Rosemary, was that President-elect Trump did not directly answer when asked whether or not he was briefed on this. It's one thing for him to say, look, this stuff is not true. He denies it categorically. He has every right to say that.

But he was asked whether he was briefed on this last Friday and never answered that question in the press conference, so I think for that reason alone it will remain an ongoing issue.

CHURCH: Interesting. And Douglas, you are an historian. How does this Russia-Trump story compare to the biggest scandals like Watergate and do you think Trump's response Wednesday will put an end to this?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think Trump's beating up of the press there was something that Richard Nixon only dreamed of doing. We've never had a president that just loathes the media. Nixon despised it, created an enemy's list. Then you're starting to see Donald Trump do the same thing except Nixon did it, you know, in a covert fashion.

And Donald Trump's just wants to lash out at reporters by name and denounce their entire news organization.

So, this is a coming attraction that we just saw, it's going to be a very strange and rocky four years. It only spurs the press on more to dig deeper, to look longer hours. Nobody can quite understand why Trump has this kind of ironclad rule to never criticize Putin at all.

As long as he's afraid to kind of square off against Putin in any way, shape or form, people are always going to feel there is something suspicious going on.

CHURCH: And interestingly in that news conference, Trump did finally accept that Russia was behind the hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign. But he downplayed it, didn't he? Saying others do this, too. And he refused to back away from his support of Russia. Let's have a listen.


TRUMP: I don't know that I'm going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do, but there's a good chance I won't. And if I don't, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.


CHURCH: So, David, how are Trump's views going to go down on Capitol Hill? We've already seen differences between him and some of his top nominees, like Rex Tillerson on the issue of Russia.

SWERDLICK: Sure. Yes, so, I think President-elect Trump has created a problem for himself. If you go back to December 11th when he came out on some of the Sunday news shows and dismissed the reports that Russian had meddled in our electoral process as quote-unquote "ridiculous," instead of just saying, look, let's wait for the facts to come in or I'd like to see more information.

And now coming to today where he's saying, yes, sort of I guess it was the Russians, but it could be other people or other countries, China, et cetera, also hack.

In the interim period he's he allowed himself to be seen, Rosemary, as soft on Russia. In 10 days we'll know what he does when he becomes president and he may not be soft on Russia. But at least perception wise he's allowed himself to be seen as soft on Russia.

[03:10:00] And I think that has had the downstream effect of having senators feeling more free to dig in and really question very intensely his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

And has potentially jeopardized the start of his presidency on this footing with this idea that, you know, he doesn't have his foreign policy ducks in a row. He can change that perception, but I think he's made it more difficult for himself.

CHURCH: Yes, the central question has been, what is the relationship between...


CHURCH: ... Trump and Russia. So, Douglas, is the president-elect being naive when it comes to Russia?

BRINKLEY: One would think so, but we'll have to wait and see. I mean, the problem with Donald Trump, there's no real public record. He's been a private business person. We still don't have his taxes.

So, it's a lot of verbiage that he does right now. We'll have to see what happens, but I promise you just like we're talking about it now, everybody is talking about the future meeting between Trump and Putin, what's going to happen between the United States and Russia.

Some people are scared. Some people think Trump's avoiding a new cold war. We're going to have to wait and see how it plays out. But I do agree, I think Tillerson has a problem as seeming to be part of this cabal of pro-Russian figures that Trump seems to surround himself with and nobody can really quite understand why.

And also I thought today was very important that Trump really not just doubling, kind of tripling down on building a wall, mocking that it would be fencing for part of it, re-picking up that pledge to do that along the U.S.-Mexican border.

So, what we saw is a combative and almost belligerent Trump today who believes that he, with his Twitter account, is going to be able to move public opinion in a brand-new direction on a whole bunch of policy issues.

CHURCH: All right. So, let's turn now to Trump's plans to avoid conflicts of interest. And his attorney said Wednesday, "Instead of selling his many interests, he will transfer them into a trust.

Ahead of inauguration on January 20th, Mr. Trump will resign and hand his empire to his two sons, Donald, Jr., and Eric. His daughter Ivanka will leave the business. And a new ethics advisor will be appointed to vet all deals. Mr. Trump says he's going further than is legally required."


TRUMP: I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don't like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to. I'd be the only one that would be able to do that. You can't do that in any other capacity.

But as a president, I could run the Trump organization, great, great company, and I could run the company -- the country. I could do a good job, but I don't want to do that.


CHURCH: And, David, this is, of course, all very legal, but there are still ethical concerns of possible and potential conflicts of interest. How much of a mine field could this prove to be for Trump once he's president?

SWERDLICK: It still leaves questions, right? Why did it take so long for him to say he was going to resign from the Trump organization? And it still leaves some fill in the blank items like he said today, you know, I have very little debt.

But we've reported at the Washington Post and the New York Times has reported that he actually owes hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign banks. That so -- so, that was a little bit, you know, of a fudge there in terms of how much debt he has. Something he could clear up if he released his tax returns, but he said today that he declines to do so.

And one comment that I thought was interesting today, Rosemary, was that his lawyer said, and I want to get the exact quote right here. She said, President-elect Trump, quote, "should not be expected to destroy the company he built," unquote.

CHURCH: Yes, of course it was his choice to run for president, wasn't it?

SWERDLICK: Of course.

CHURCH: Douglas, you get the last question here. Has there ever been a transition like this before? President Obama, of course, promising it would be smooth. We don't appear to be seeing that.

BRINKLEY: No, it's been horrific. It is true that President Obama, Donald Trump have formed a little rapport for the state of the nation to try to make the transition, at least seem smooth, to have an inauguration that's respected.

There will be all the former presidents there when Donald Trump is sworn in. But really, it's been almost two different foreign policies going on right now, anger throughout the Democratic Party at the behavior of Donald Trump.

And, so, we've had transitions that have been difficult where the personalities didn't like each other, but we've never had one like this in recent times where it's just every day almost painful to see how divided our country is. This is not a unifying transition. This election didn't unify America. We are still very deeply divided.

CHURCH: Yes, and we all await to see what happens after January 20th. David Swerdlick and Douglas Brinkley, many thanks to both of you for joining us, we appreciate it.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

[03:15:01] CHURCH: Well, U.S. Senate republicans have made their first big move to get rid of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. They have just approved a budget measure to repeal and replace Obamacare, one of Donald Trump's election promises.

The vote went along party lines in a marathon session that stretched into the wee hours of the morning. Democrats fighting the effort say millions of Americans could lose their coverage. But republicans say they'll come up with better health care. The measure now goes to the House which could vote as soon as Friday.

Well, Mexico's president is saying once again his country will not pay for Donald Trump's border wall. In a televised address, Enrique Pena Nieto said both countries have a responsibility to deal with undocumented immigrants.


ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is evident that we have some differences with the new government of the United States like the topic of the wall that Mexico, of course, will not pay.


CHURCH: Trump has said U.S. tax dollars would get the wall started, and that Mexico will reimburse the cost.

Support for one Trump cabinet nominee is razor thin. Ahead, the contentious confirmation hearing for the candidate for secretary of state.

Plus, Taiwan and China trade displays of military might, why their relationship is getting even more strained. We'll explain with a live report.


CHURCH: The confirmation hearing for Donald Trump's nominee for defense secretary is scheduled for later Thursday.

Retired General James Mattis needs a special waver from Congress to accept the position. Current law prevents anyone who served in the military in the last seven years from taking a top post at the Pentagon.

Meantime, Elise Labott reports on the hours of intense questioning the nominee for the secretary of state faced.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In his confirmation hearing to become Donald Trump's top diplomat, Rex Tillerson was grilled by senators on both sides of the aisle about his views towards Russia.


MARCO RUBIO, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Are you aware that people who oppose Vladimir Putin wind up dead all over the world, poisoned, shot in the back of the head?

REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Well, people who speak up for freedom in regimes that are repressive are often at threat. And these things happen to them. In terms of assigning specific responsibilities, I would have to have more information.


LABOTT: The former ExxonMobil CEO has close ties to the Kremlin, but today he called Russia an adversary.


TILLERSON: Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interest.


[03:20:01] LABOTT: At times taking a harder line than President-elect Trump who has praised President Vladimir Putin and calls for warmer ties with Moscow.


TILLERSON: We're not likely to ever be friends, but I also know the Russian people because of having spent so many years in Russia. There is scope to define a different relationship.


LABOTT: And while he acknowledged Putin likely ordered the hacking of U.S. political groups and denounced Russia's invasion into eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, he held on Russian action in Syria.


RUBIO: You are still not prepared to say that Putin and his military has violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in Aleppo.

TILLERSON: Those are very, very serious charges to make, and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion. I understand there is a body of record in the public domain. I'm sure there is a body of record in the classified domain, and I think in order -- in order to deal with a serious question like this...


RUBIO: Mr. Tillerson, that had happened in Aleppo in the public domain...

TILLERSON: I would want to be...

RUBIO: ... the videos and the pictures are there.

TILLERSON: ... fully informed before advising the president.


LABOTT: Senators repeatedly returned to Tillerson's former CEO role pressing him on the use of sanctions as a tool to punish countries which he said at ExxonMobil hurt U.S. business.


TILLERSON: I have never lobbied against sanctions personally. I continue to believe...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the company you directed did.

TILLERSON: To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions, not to my knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please don't put Exxon in charge of the State Department.


LABOTT: The hearing was interrupted several times by environmental activists worried the former oil man would side with Trump who has called climate change a hoax. Once again, Tillerson broke with his future boss.


TILLERSON: I came to my personal position over about 20 years as an engineer and a scientist, understanding the evolution of the science. Came to the conclusion a few years ago that the risk of climate change does exist, and that the consequences of it could be serious enough that actions should be taken. BOB CORKER, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Do you believe that human

activity based on your belief in science is contributing to climate change?

TILLERSON: The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect. Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.


LABOTT: Frequently, Tillerson faulted the Obama administration for weak leadership which he says has emboldened U.S. adversaries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea. And he said it was time to get tough against China for its aggression in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.


TILLERSON: The island building in the South China Sea itself in many respects in my view, building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia's taking of Crimea.


CHURCH: Well, Taiwan and China are exchanging shows of force amid rising tensions in the region. China's lone aircraft carrier traveled through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday and Taiwan responded by deploying fighter jets and navy frigates.

It's another escalation in what had been strained relations for months now. Ever since Donald Trump broke with decades of protocol and China's one-China policy by speaking to Taiwan's president on the phone.

So, let's turn to Asia-Pacific editor Andrew Stevens now who joins us live from Hong Kong. So, Andrew, we'll start with this apparent show of force from China and then this response from Taiwan in an already tense relationship as we've explained between the two over territorial disputes. So, where is this all going?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, it's certainly not that uncommon for these two to actually have these sorts of action and reaction, Rose. And what China says and China almost playing down the incident saying it was a normal attempt by the Chinese navy to steam home back to their home base which takes them up the -- up the Taiwan Strait between mainland China and Taiwan.

And it's important to remember that this aircraft carrier did not stray into Taiwanese waters. It did, though, stray into air space which Taiwan says that is an identification area. So, it took action and it shadowed that fleet.

Where it goes from here, it's always difficult to say, but as I say it's not uncommon for these two to have these sorts of incidents and that they don't escalate, but at the moment we are seeing a different geopolitical environment, if you like. We've had Donald Trump raising questions about the one-China policy.

That is sacrosanct to China, to Beijing. On top of that, the new president of Taiwan phoned Donald Trump. He took that call, again, against protocol. And we've just had the Taiwan president in the U.S. in the weekend. Again, against China's wishes.

So, China is very, very sensitive. And this is an issue, they're not going to back down on. They're not going to compromise on. This is very, very close to what the communist party is and that's all about unification of the country.

[03:25:07] CHURCH: Yes. And on top of this, Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson as we heard a little earlier, made it clear Wednesday at his confirmation hearing that the U.S. should be tougher on China.

He called its actions in the South China Sea illegal and he said China should be denied access to those islands. How is China responding to this? And if it hasn't already, how is it likely to respond?

STEVENS: Well, I suspect at least privately China would be enraged by these comments. Again, we talked about the one policy being sacrosanct. Their expansion policy this is a very aggressive policy their footprint in the South China Sea.

The communist party also says it's fundamental to them which has raised the pressure and the tension significantly with the U.S. And Rex Tillerson certainly raising the temperature several notches by that.

So, privately Beijing is going to be angry with this sort of very, very blunt language coming from Tillerson. There was a meeting at the ministry of foreign affairs, a press conference. This is a daily event. And the foreign affairs spokesman was asked about this.

They said quite mildly, I think, that they don't want to see the U.S. taking sides in the South China dispute. Said that the issue had been settling down in recent months and the various people involved, various countries involved were now talking to each other.

Remember, though, that China has raised the fears of many of the -- of its neighboring countries by its actions in the South China Sea. Vietnam particularly, the Philippines as we know under the previous president, Philippines actually took them to an international tribunal and won the case against China, China ignored that.

So, this is something which is going to go a long way, I suspect, to defining the incoming presidency. If Rex Tillerson follows through with what he's talking about, that language is going to be a whole new ball game in the South China Sea, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Watching this very closely. Our Andrew Stevens joining us live from Hong Kong where it is nearly 4.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks, Andrew.

Well, Donald Trump may be changing his tune ever so slightly on Russia's meddling in the U.S. election. We will go live to Moscow to see what the Kremlin is saying. That's still to come.

Plus, a parliamentary slug fest why these Turkish lawmakers resorted to violence. We'll have that and more when we come back.


CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I do want to update you on the main stories we've been following this hour.

The top intelligence chief says leaks about his briefing with President-elect Donald Trump, a corrosive and damaging to national security. James Clapper spoke by phone with Trump on Wednesday. He says he doesn't think the leaks are coming from within the intelligence community.

The U.S. Senate has approved a budget measure to repeal and replace Obamacare, one of Donald Trump's election promises. The vote went along party lines with republicans supporting the repeal and democrats fighting the effort. The House gets the measure next and could vote as early as Friday.

Flooding in southern Thailand has killed at least 36 people since the start of the year. Two bridges in the region have also collapsed. One province has already got nearly eight times its average monthly rainfall. The weather is expected to improve in the coming days.

Well, Donald Trump's first news conference since July was supposed to be about his business affairs. But from the start, Russia took center stage. The president-elect was combative with the reporters and creative with the facts.

CNN's Jim Sciutto reports.


TRUMP: As far as hacking I think it was Russia.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight for the first time, President-elect Donald Trump accepting the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia is to blame for the unprecedented attack on the 2016 election process. And then immediately watering down that admission in the very same sentence.


TRUMP: But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.


SCIUTTO: Still the remarks are the most definitive that he has made after months of openly doubting the intelligence community's assessment which includes that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the operation.


TRUMP: He shouldn't have done it. I don't believe he'll be doing it more now.


SCIUTTO: The president-elect's reversal comes after the nation's intelligence chiefs briefed Trump on their classified findings last week. CNN first reported that at the same briefing President-elect Trump was presented with documents alleging that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about him.


TRUMP: It's phony stuff.


SCIUTTO: Today, Trump angrily denied the contents of those claims, accusing the intelligence chiefs of leaking the allegations.


TRUMP: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out.


SCIUTTO: He went on to say that he simply is too cautious when he's traveling for the Russians to have anything damning on him.


TRUMP: I am extremely careful. I'm surrounded by body guards. I'm surrounded by people, and I always tell them anywhere, but I always tell them if I'm leaving this country, be very careful because in your hotel rooms, and no matter where you go, you're going to probably have cameras. I'm not referring just to Russia, but I would certainly put them in that category.


SCIUTTO: The allegations reigniting questions about Donald Trump's ties to Russia, which he has often touted in the past.


TRUMP: I was in Moscow a couple months ago. I own the Miss Universe pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: In 2013, Trump brought his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.

Today, Trump maintains that he has no connections to Russia. And CNN has not been able to find any current business operations there.


TRUMP: I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we've stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia.


SCIUTTO: Asked if Russia's hacking was intended to help him get elected, Trump suggested that in his view that would be a plus.


TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That's called an asset, not a liability. Now, I don't know that I'm going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do, but there's a good chance I won't. And if I don't, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.


[03:35:05] SCIUTTO: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has now released a statement, he says that he spoke directly with President-elect Donald Trump about the intelligence brief on Friday, and immediately after referencing those memos that document that CNN was the first to report, he said the following.

"Part of our obligation is to ensure that policy makers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security."

In effect, confirming that that document was included in the briefing as CNN was first to report, though President-elect Donald Trump and his advisors deny today. Director of national intelligence contradicting that in this statement.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Now regardless of where the 35-page dossier came from, a former acting CIA director says no one can really judge whether any of it is true without a thorough investigation.

Michael Morell spoke to CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.


MICHAEL MORELL, UNITED STATES FORMER ACTING CIA DIRECTOR: What I was looking at were things that I knew some small bits of information that I knew were true, that the head of presidential administration in Moscow in the summer and he got fired. I saw stuff that was absolutely not true, small bits. I saw a bunch of stuff I had no idea. I saw stuff that was contradictory.

This is what you see when you look at raw intelligence. And very important to remember that sources, even the best CIA sources, get things wrong all the time. They lie to enhance their credibility, right, to try to get more money.

So, when you're looking at raw information, when you're looking at raw intelligence, it's very hard to make anything of it until you start investigating, until you start putting pieces together and trying to corroborate.


CHURCH: Morell says a lot more work is needed before investigators are able to get a full picture. So, let's go live to Moscow where CNN contributor Jill Dougherty joins us. Jill, thanks so much for being with us. So, what have the Russians been saying about reports they have compromising material on Donald Trump?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they're saying they don't collect compremat (Ph) as they call it in Russian. They are basically, you know, denying that part of it and I think also accentuating the positive.

You know, when you look at those comments by Donald Trump about the relationship, they are accenting what -- when Trump says that he hopes that there will be a good relationship, and then kind of ignoring the side that Russia was at fault for the hacking. Maybe I won't get along with Russia, et cetera.

I think the overall approach on this relationship is they're trying to basically, they say, the elite of the United States, the political elite are trying to undermine Donald Trump and undermine his attempts to improve the relationship with Russia.

I give you an example, Rosemary, of one tweet. You know, we follow Aleksey Pushkov who is a member of parliament, and one of the most prolific tweeters here in Moscow. And he said, "The liberal media have been carrying out an info war against Mr. Trump. And then they're surprised at the bad relationship that they have with him." And then he ended by saying, "So, what you sow you shall reap." So, that gives you some of the flavor.

CHURCH: All right. And Jill, you mentioned the Kremlin says it doesn't collect compromising information on people. But you have lived and worked in Russia for many years. What's your view on that assessment?

DOUGHERTY: It sounds dubious to me, quite honestly, because this has been -- collected for many, many years, and they're back in the Soviet days and in modern Russian days, in fact, just recently there was a case of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Kasyanov who had some compremat (Ph) of a sexual nature are revealed. And it pretty much derailed a lot of his political aspirations.

You know, sometimes what's difficult is you can't necessarily pin it down to who did it. It's usually understood that it's the intelligence services leaking to the media. But the tracks are pretty well covered. But, I think you'd have to say compremat (Ph) compromising information is definitely traditionally and now a tool that's used in politics here in Russia.

CHURCH: All right, Jill Dougherty, many thanks for joining us and sharing your perspective on this. We do appreciate it.

Well, the Afghan Taliban has released video which appears to show two teachers begging Donald Trump to make a deal for their release. The men, one from Australia, the other from the U.S., were abducted five months ago in Kabul. One of them says the recording was made on January 1st. CNN has not independently verified the video.

[03:40:00] Well, Turkish lawmakers traded parliamentary decorum for wild kicks and punches over proposed constitutional changes. The measures would give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater powers.

The brawl erupted after an opposition name they tried to record the vote. Supporters say changes are needed to strengthen the executive branch. Opponents fear it's a step toward authoritarianism.

The proposals would give President Erdogan the power to appoint and dismiss government ministers at will. It would eliminate the role of prime minister, and it would create new term limits which could extend Erdogan's rule until 2029. Assuming the changes are approved by lawmakers, it will go to a public referendum expected in the spring.

Extreme rainfall in the New Year has turned deadly in Thailand impacting millions in the region. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with the details on this. Just how extensive is this, Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Rosemary, when it comes to flooding, of course, and you think about Thailand, it is not an unusual sight across this region to see a lot of rainfall. This time of year in particular, that is a little unusual in itself.

And then you take a look at some of the images, we're talking about an area where 1.1 million people have been impacted, over 30 fatalities across this region, across 12 provinces, roads and bridges also buckle as well.

I want to show you what we're talking about when it comes to rainfall amounts in particular. Because climatologically speaking, the rainy season very easy to pick out, October, November, and December, November is the wettest time of the engineer.

As we get to January it certainly quite down as far as rainfall. And Nakhon Si Thammarat, one of the communities there in southern portion of Thailand where the average for this time of year is about 140 millimeters of rainfall. How about 10 times that amount has already fallen in 2017. Just a remarkable number right there.

In fact, you see on the fifth of January, over 600 millimeters fell. That would be equivalent to an entire year's worth out of London in one day across this region of Thailand. And, of course, you take a look, conditions are now improving dramatically. That is wonderful news across that region.

We've seen some wet weather work its way across western areas of say, Vietnam. There is some around Danang and Ho Chi Minh City getting some heavy rainfall, but certainly not as much around places such as Thailand.

But I want to show the other end of the spectrum, taking you out towards areas of eastern Europe, we've had tremendous cold air lock in place here. Some really heartbreaking images coming out of this region of Serbia where you see some of the migrants standing in line for food.

And of course, it is brutally cold outside, the snow coming down in earnest. You work your way up towards Berlin, Germany, the snow showers also in place across this region. And now notice what the models want to indicate, potentially getting some snow showers as far to the west there as London over the next couple of days.

I want to show you the cold air outbreak that's currently in place across places such as London and also much of western and Eastern Europe as well. It looks like we get a second blast of cold air that will want to move down to the south over the next couple of days.

So, we see this pattern really staying put for the foreseeable future. And that is really not something you want to see if you're across this region and the pattern again goes to persist, you look at the forecast for places such as London, a mix of rain and snow showers in the forecast come Friday.

It could get a little bit of break going in from Saturday into Sunday and then another chance of snow showers back in the forecast come Monday morning across London.

Some of the models saying maybe 5 to say 10 centimeters in the forecast. But of course, you put any snow in a major populated area, it is going to be troublesome. So we're watching this carefully for London to get their first snow of the season there, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. At least they are able to deal with it unlike other parts of the world, right?


CHURCH: All right. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, many thanks to you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Donald Trump's relationship with the press has gone from adversarial to combative. The latest explosive interaction is just ahead. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: Since you are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance?

TRUMP: No, not you, not you.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance?

TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.

ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?

TRUMP: Go ahead.


TRUMP: Quiet.

ACOSTA: Can you state...

TRUMP: Quiet.

ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you state categorically -- Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question for attacking us?

TRUMP: Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: Don't be rude. I'm not going to give you a -- I'm not going to give you a question.

ACOSTA: Can you -- can you state categorically...


TRUMP: I am not giving you a question, you are fake news. Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Sir, can you state categorically that nobody...


No, Mr. President-elect, that's not appropriate.

TRUMP: Go ahead.


CHURCH: Welcome back. Well, that is the U.S. president-elect going after our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta and this network at his first news conference in months.

Donald Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer later called Jim's behavior disrespectful.


SPICER: No one needs to be treated with that level of disrespect and rudeness. I think Mr. Acosta owes the president-elect, and frankly, the entire press corps an apology for his childish and inappropriate behavior.


CHURCH: Well, Trump spoke for about 45 minutes. He talked about Russia and his plans for a border wall, but it was his attack on the media that got a lot of attention even from an unexpected supporter.


SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: President-elect Trump today told CNN's Jim Acosta that his organization amounts to fake news. CNN's exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate and distinctly different from the document dump executed by an online news property.

Though, we, at Fox News cannot confirm CNN's report, it is our observation that its correspondence followed journalistic standards and neither they, nor any other journalist should be subjected to be belittling and delegitimizing by the president-elect of the United States.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington bureau chief and author of the new book "Ask More, the Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions and Spark Change." Great to have you here.


CHURCH: Wonderful. We saw a very combative Donald Trump at his first news conference in six months. Trump refused to take a question from our Jim Acosta and even calling CNN fake news. What was your reading of that exchange, and what might it tell us about how Trump will handle the media as president?

SESNO: Well, it shows that he's not changed his demeanor at all from the way he campaigned when he had turned the media from adversaries into enemies and called people out by name. When he tried to freeze out certain news organizations who he felt were too critical, and he felt were unfair, he's also trying to discredit actual news by calling it fake news and suggesting that it doesn't even exist.

When, in fact, the story that has been reported and not just reported by CNN, but other major news organizations such as the Washington Post, is a very clear and fairly simple and legitimate story, which is that there are reports unsubstantiated though they are, you know, floating around out there that top officials in the intelligence community wanted the president-elect and the president, the current president to know about. So, you know, Donald Trump has declared war on the media. He's trying

as I say to kind of delegitimize. I see as it an effort to inoculate himself against what will continue to be tough, tough questions which goes with the territory, and the criticism which a thin-skinned Donald Trump doesn't like.

CHURCH: And Frank, the Trump team was outraged by the reporting of that dossier you mentioned on Trump which was included in the intelligence briefing for both the president and the president-elect.

Now, Trump calls it fake news. How do media organizations make a determination on what to publish when they're dealing with sensitive, unsubstantiated material like this? What is the process they go through?

SESNO: Well, it's a very thoughtful process, or it should be. And I think it was in this case, where news executives and reporters as they get the information have to, you know, cast a very quick and pretty straightforward calculus, which is, is this information that is in the public interest? Is this something that people should know about?

[03:49:58] And if top, you know, national intelligence and security officials are briefing the president and the president-elect on something that is as salacious and potentially damaging as this, I think it reaches that threshold.

Now what CNN and Washington Post and other news organizations decided to do was not to publish the document or link to the document itself that had all the salacious and unproven allegations. And it's quite remarkable that intelligence officials would actually include material in a briefing that they themselves have not been able to substantiate or really vet in any way.

They're sort of passing along this stuff that's out there essentially. But nonetheless, you know, news organizations, many of them, most of them decided not to link to the specific allegations, but to include the information that this stuff was part of the briefing.

One very quick point, and that is that by picking this fight in the way that Donald Trump and his lieutenants have done, I believe they have elevated the story.


SESNO: They could have made this not necessarily go away, but they could have played this way down and changed the subject. Instead, they are engaging over it in a very different way.

CHURCH: Yes. There is a sense it sort of fuels it doesn't it?

SESNO: Very much.

CHURCH: So, how concerned are you about media access under a Trump presidency going forward? And what problems can occur when that relationship deteriorates? SESNO: I've been a White House correspondent and I know it's kind of

a messy place. And not all the journalism is great. There is a lot of got you journalism, there's a lot of politics that goes into covering the White House. The White House is fundamentally a political place.

But as Donald Trump stood there today talking to 250 journalists from all over the world, he literally was speaking through them to the entire world. He literally was speaking through them to billions of people. The words of the president of the United States matter. His relationship with the press core matters.

If it is unnecessarily hostile, I have never seen that actually work in the favor of the president because at the end of the day those 250 people are free to write and say what they choose. And if that's a false hostility, in many cases it's going to come back and it's going to play against Donald Trump and his presidency.

And so, a very troubled relationship with the press corps, I'm not sure he and those around him have done the, you know, the real calculus. They're playing to their base. They're getting brawny points from people who are very distrustful of the press and the press has a very low public approval rating in the United States and elsewhere these days. People don't trust what they hear.

But that's not going to make it go away and it's not going to change the relationship and his need to be able to communicate through them.

CHURCH: Yes. Certainly a delicate relationship. Frank Sesno, many thanks to you for joining us.

SESNO: It's a pleasure.

CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. Back in a moment.


CHURCH: Donald Trump's first news conference in six months is providing a lot of fresh material for the U.S. late night comedians. Here are some of the zingers.


JIMMY KIMMEL, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE SHOW HOST: In case you missed the press conference you missed a lot, but we boiled it down to the key parts.

TRUMP: Sick, crap China, Russia, fake news, hacking Hillary Clinton, fake. Terrible, disgraceful. Horrible. Nazi, Germany, fantastic. Garbage, germophobe, give me a break. You're hired.

KIMMEL: Hannity, you're fired.


So, it's going to be a good four years. You know, Donald Trump press conference is not unlike going to the bathroom. You already know what you're going to get. You just don't know exactly what it will look like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No joke, Trump's taking his new job really seriously and to show how hard he's working, he even brought every single Manila folder in America. Look at that table. Wow! That's a prop.

You know somewhere in America there is staple where someone walk in and said, you know what I need? One of everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Trump of course defended his relationship with Russia.

TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, at this point I think we all consider you a Russian asset.

SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT HOST: Even if Russian operatives did claim to have compromising information on Trump, you know who else does? All of us.

For example, while everyone was talking about these wild claims today, Trump was announcing that he will not divest from his business empire and admitting that a foreign entity offered him a massive amount of money just this weekend.

TRUMP: Over the weekend I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very he amazing man, a great, great developer from the Middle East. Hussein Demac, a friend of mine, great guy. And I turned it down.

MEYERS: He wants credit for not committing an impeachable offense. So, China tried to buy Rhode Island and I said, no way.


CHURCH: We like to leave you laughing. Have a great one. Stay with us. More news after this.