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Tillerson & Rubio Tangle Over His Ties to Putin; U.S. Intel Chief Assures Trump They Didn't Leak to Media; Reports: San Diego Chargers Moving to L.A. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired January 12, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:48] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state facing tough questions on Russia as well as his conversations with the president-elect. Now, some Republicans are not ready to say whether they will support Tillerson's confirmation.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill with more.
What's the latest, Sunlen?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Alisyn.
Well, this certainly turned into a very contentious hearing with at least one key Republican emerging from that committee hearing, saying he has concerns and reservations and put simply, he doesn't know if he'll vote for him yet.
SERFATY (voice-over): Russia, a major focus of Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing for secretary of state.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Russia today poses a danger but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interest.
SERFATY: The former ExxonMobil CEO facing scrutiny over his ties to Russia and potential conflicts of interest.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?
TILLERSON: I would not use that term.
SERFATY: Refusing to call the Russian president a war criminal when pressed by former Republican presidential candidate, Senator Marco Rubio.
RUBIO: You are still not prepared to say that Vladimir Putin and his military have 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.
RUBIO: Mr. Tillerson, the attack on Aleppo is in the public domain, videos and the pictures --
TILLERSON: I would want to be fully informed before advising the president.
SERFATY: Rubio grilling Tillerson's world view of Russia in this heated exchange.
RUBIO: Are you aware that people who opposed Vladimir wind up dead all over the world, poisoned, shot in the back of the head?
TILLERSON: Well, people who speak up for freedom in regimes that are oppressive are often a threat and these things happen to them. In terms of assigning specific responsibilities, I would have to have more information.
SERFATY: Rubio's support of Tillerson's nomination is still up in the air.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Are you prepared to be the one Republican vote no?
RUBIO: Well, I'm prepared to do what's right. I'm not analyzing it from a partisan standpoint.
SERFATY: The man vying to be the nation's top diplomat even acknowledging that he has talked Russia policy with the president elect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president-elect agree with you?
TILLERSON: The president elect and I have not had the opportunity to discuss this specific issue or the specific area.
SERFATY: And Tillerson repeatedly broke with President-elect Donald Trump on some of his key campaign issues, not only the rhetoric that was heard from him on Russia but other trade deals, TPP. Also Trump's campaign called for a ban on Muslims from coming into the U.S.
Now, today here on Capitol, another marathon day of hearings. We have Ben Carson for HUD secretary, Mike Pompeo for CIA director and the hearing for General James Mattis for defense secretary -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.
Tensions rising between Donald Trump and the U.S. intel community. Will Trump ever trust the agencies charged with keeping Americans safe? Will they trust him? Does it matter? We dig deeper.
[06:36:59] CUOMO: The nations top intelligence chief, James Clapper, reveals he called President-elect Trump last night to reassure him that leaks to the media are not coming from the U.S. intelligence community. Can the strained relations between Trump and the intel community improve and do they matter?
Let's discuss with current terrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official, Phil Mudd, and former CIA officer and former chief policy director for the House Republican Congress, Evan McMullin. Evan, of course, ran for president.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: And was an intern in my office.
MUDD: Yes, Evan was an intern for (INAUDIBLE) a horrible officer, by the way.
CUOMO: Evan, now we have to look is how your trajectory has gone up and look at what Mudd is.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I'll tell you. Phil was my first boss of the agency and he is a wonderful man.
CUOMO: Well, now, your credibility is in question.
So, let's deal with the big question. You talked about this before. Let's give it to the audience. The idea of whether the intel community likes the incoming president. Is it relevant in terms of how they do their job?
MUDD: I don't think it's relevant in the least. The American people elect somebody. He has the will of the people behind him as he goes into inauguration. If you are a CIA officer, you are trained, that we weren't directly elected by the American people. We answer especially to the two branches that work. That is the oversight, intel oversight in the Congress, and the president of the United States.
So, whether or not you like him, it doesn't matter. He comes in. He represents the will of the people. You do what he says, if it's moral, ethical in response to U.S. law.
CAMEROTA: Evan, our Christiane Amanpour sat down with Mike Morrell, who was the acting director of the CIA one time. He talked about how extraordinary he finds these disclosures from the intel community. So, let me play that moment for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE MORELL, FORMER CIA ACTING AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR: I was a bit surprised that our intelligence community would take a private document and summarize it for the president and president-elect, if they didn't know anything about the credibility of the information in it. That would be, quite frankly, unprecedented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So, Evan, why did they do that?
MCMULLIN: Well, I agree that it is unusual, but the last sentence of the second paragraph of Clapper's statement, perhaps explains, perhaps sheds a little bit of light on this he said that the intelligence community includes information in these briefings that help provide the fullest picture possible on matters that may affect national security. So, the intelligence community at least made some judgment about this information that led them to believe that it would potentially impact national security and so they shared it.
I believe that they must have, therefore, done some assessment of the credibility of the information. It's not CIA information. It's a CIA or an intelligence community product. But it is something that they must have looked at and vetted at least on some basic level.
The intelligence community comes across, obtains so much information on a daily basis, most of it end up on the cutting room floor or factored in to some degree.
[06:40:09] But not presented to the president and a president-elect in this sort of way, so it truly is unique.
CUOMO: We've got a couple scenarios. One is, what the CNN reporting suggests, which is that the source of the documents and that intelligence, they found credible, that British officer. And that that motivated a little bit of their interest.
Or their put it in there as a reflection of this animus towards the president-elect. Put something in there that's inherently unflattering, and embarrassing to him, to kind of stick it in his face. Is there any chance they would have done that?
MUDD: You are O for two, Chris. I think the explanation is much simpler. The explanation is, we are going into an environment, where the biggest policy issue of the past month or two, has been not just Russian hacking. It's not about Republicans and Democrats. It's about Russian engagement in altering potentially a U.S. election.
Now, I don't believe they altered the election. That's a debate.
In midst of that, you're getting information that I believe is not only unverified, I think this is a salacious and false document. I don't buy it.
Nonetheless, information is being circulated among senators on the Hill related to Russian reports to acquire information to affect U.S. politicians. So, you got a choice. Are you going to tell the president or not?
I think this is a questionable choice. I think the information is false.
That said, the alternative is to say the president is going to find out someplace else and he might turn to us and say, why didn't you tell me?
CAMEROTA: Evan, do you think the information in the document is to salacious and ridiculous to be real?
MCMULLIN: I mean, it's just hard to say without having a full picture of the sourcing.
I will say, the document speaks to the why, but we know what the what is, and what is that Donald Trump remains completely committed to an alignment with Vladimir Putin and his regime, the same regime that is actively trying to undermine our democracy and democracy across Europe.
If this sound to your audience to be something that's bizarre or strange or potentially dangerous, it is, because it is. And that's something that we all need to not lose sight of and be desensitized to, the fact that our president-elect wants to align with an adversary to our democracy, to our free and fair elections in this country. That's the what. That's the most important thing.
Now, we can look and search for the why, but the what is still the main issue and that's something that I think we have to ask ourselves, is this what we want? And I don't think it is.
CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much for all for your expertise on this.
Well, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Mr. Trump's secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, clashing over Russia, as well as human rights. Could Rubio's indecision on Tillerson spell trouble for his nomination? That's ahead on NEW DAY.
[06:46:11] CUOMO: Multiple reports say the San Diego Chargers plan to announce today they are moving to Los Angeles.
Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."
Big news, big snooze. What do you say?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I think it's big news, but a lot of Chargers fans are not happy about this. This means not having a team over 20 years, would have added two, I mean, less than a year, if the Chargers indeed join the Rams there in L.A.
San Diego hasn't been willing to pay for a new stadium with taxpayer money. So, yesterday, Chargers chairman Dean Spanos informed the NFL of the team's demonstration. The franchise actually start today in L.A. as the Chargers in 1960, the old AFL, before moving to San Diego a year later.
Chargers fan, check this out, not happy. Within hours of the initial report last night, someone threw eggs at the front door of the team's headquarters. Not sure how many fans will follow the team up to L.A.
The Dallas Cowboy versus a big playoff matchup with the Packers in three days. A lot of NFL fans teams are done for the season. So, the Cowboys are making it easy to jump on the cowboy's band wagon. They posted an official bandwagon fan application on Twitter -- and Alisyn Camerota, I filled out one for you.
Have you ever talked trash about the Dallas Cowboys? No, Alisyn would never do that. Do you mind working on Thanksgiving? Alisyn doesn't mind.
CAMEROTA: Wait, what?
WIRE: Yes, you're going to be hopefully an official bandwagon fan of the Cowboys. Btu maybe hopefully not, Alisyn, because I want you to cheer for my Atlanta Falcons to beat them in the conference championship.
CAMEROTA: Coy, I will do whatever you tell me to do, all right? I follow your advice on sports, always.
WIRE: All right. So, tell Chris that his Jets are awful.
CAMEROTA: Your Jets are awful.
WIRE: Thank you.
CUOMO: Tell him his head looks like a big toe.
CAMEROTA: No, I only follow his instructions.
Coy, thank you very much.
Well, the contentious hearings will hit full throttle today, with Mr. Trump's pick for defense, CIA director and housing secretary all in hot seats. Our political panel takes that up next.
[06:52:15] CAMEROTA: Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state facing tough questions about Russia at his confirmation hearing yesterday. The former ExxonMobil exec was grilled about President Vladimir Putin and more.
So, let's welcome back our panel, David Drucker, Alex Burns and David Gregory.
So, a lot to talk about. Let's talk about the moment that has been ruled false that Mr. Tillerson testified to about whether or not he or ExxonMobil ever lobbied Congress or the White House about sanctions against Russia. Let me play what he said, what Tillerson said, when asked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: I have never lobbied against sanctions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The company you directed did.
TILLERSON: To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. That has been ruled by fact checkers as false, David Drucker. According to congressional records, the oil company repeatedly talked to lawmakers and the White House about their dealings on sanction.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR COGNRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right. So, this is something companies like Exxon routinely do. I mean, their job is to make money, and especially, if you are in the energy business, there are parts of the world that are very challenging in terms of U.S. national security and foreign policy, it's not always good business for those companies to have to teal with U.S. foreign policy that's more value space than money based.
I think that Rex Tillerson will be fine if he takes sort of at least somewhat tougher line on Russia than his boss did.
CAMEROTA: Wait, did he lie under oath there?
DRUCKER: This is what I was going to say, Alisyn, in finishing is, he needs to be careful about getting facts like this correct, because these are the seemingly minor things that can trip up a nominee for a key cabinet position. It's never the big problems, are you a friend of Vladimir Putin? Things we anticipate. It's always the smaller things that come up and almost by accident without anticipation can cause you a real problem.
CUOMO: He's been well-briefed in that he is giving as little as possible. I think the answer to Alisyn's question is I think his side feels they have wiggle room on this. Did they lobby against sanctions? No.
Did they lobby against a bill that would have locked in sanctions for a period beyond President Obama's term? Yes.
CAMEROTA: OK. Outside of Washington, that is not a --
CUOMO: But that's probably his wiggle room on it. We never went to the sanctions specifically. We went to the bill that locked in sanctions.
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In that clip we just heard, the word "directly" is doing a lot of work there, right? The trouble for Rex Tillerson is --
CUOMO: He's got a bad back and sore knees.
BURNS: You know the swing votes on this nomination that in all likelihood, are Republican senators who are intimately familiar with those sanction bills and really passionate about them as sort of a first principle of American policy towards Russia.
[06:55:01] We heard it from Marco Rubio over and over yesterday. There are a number of senators who are not on the Foreign Relations Committee, on Armed Services or other communities that deal with national security, where this is the alpha and omega of their priority set right now.
So they're not going -- John McCain, Lindsey Graham and obviously as we saw Marco Rubio, they're not going to take that kind of lawyerly answer as the final word.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, David.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because there is a bigger issue here. The hawks in the Republican Party who want to crack down on Russia don't like how Trump has positioned himself vis-a-vis Russia. And they also don't like what they know about Rex Tillerson here.
Tillerson has got the experience with Putin. He's not chummy with Putin in the sense that he's going to give him a pass by any means. But both Tillerson and Trump are clinging to the idea that it's very a macho thing. We're going to get tougher with Russia, because, you know, Putin respects strength and he's going to respect us.
And there is a naivete in that, even if a guy like Tillerson's got great history with Russia and really understands Russia. They think that Obama was so weak that Putin will respect a tougher line. But one of the things that was revealed yesterday that I thought was illuminating is that Tillerson and Trump haven't talked about Russian policy, so they don't know what they will do, other than be tougher than Obama and they think that's enough. And they think presumably that Putin hasn't thought this through, how to game this out and he's always gaming this out.
CUOMO: He was so careful not to give away things that would hurt him. Why would he acknowledge on the stand, in effect, yeah, we haven't discussed this area at all?
DRUCKER: Well, I think that was his area of saying, I don't want to speak on what Donald Trump believes on Russia. I think in large part, that could be because Tillerson's whole potential problem in terms of confirmation is that if he is viewed as having Donald Trump's views on Russia and Vladimir Putin then he will have a problem with confirmation, Gregory makes a really good point in that Trump and some of his team have talked about getting tougher with Vladimir Putin than President Obama has been.
Yet, everything we have seen from Donald Trump since day one of the campaign has suggested that he believes, just like his three predecessors, Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, that maybe he can charm Vladimir Putin and maybe we can reset our relations with Russia yet again. It has never worked.
And so, that's why I believe it was so important for Tillerson to act knowledge that Russia is an adversary and not a friend, because we haven't seen out of this new administration an actual change in policy other than Trump insisting, that I'm a tough guy and he's going to respect me.
CAMEROTA: And yet, he was not willing to go so far, Alex, as to say that he thought that Vladimir Putin was responsible for war crimes in the bloodshed that we are seeing in Syria.
BURNS: Yes, I think that would be a difficult question for any nominee, branding Russia as a war criminal is a pretty drastic action. But, you know, you did see this pattern over and over, I do think this reflects something deeper about the Trump's administration to foreign policy. There's real a unwillingness to take on widely human rights abuses, not just Russia, by governments in places like the Philippines and Saudi Arabia and elsewhere it didn't seem there was a whole lot of interests in doing that and that's very upsetting to, you know, not just Democrats but a whole lot of Republicans.
CUOMO: And to be fair, I don't know that John Kerry ever said that Putin is a war criminal.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you all for that.
CUOMO: Thank you, international viewers for watching CNN. "NEWSROOM" is going to begin in a few moments on CNN International.
For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: All I can ask for is honest reporters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us a question? You're attacking us.
TRUMP: Don't be rude.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be rude. You are fake news.
CUOMO: James Clapper trying to reassure the president-elect that the intelligence community did not leak an unsubstantiated dossier.
TRUMP: I could actually run my business and run government at the same time, but I don't want to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is going to know when they're doing business with Eric or Don, Jr., they're doing business with the president.
TILLERSON: Russia today pushes a dangerous, but it is not unpredictable.
TRUMP: I'm very proud of the cabinet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Sessions is out of line. This is clearly something they could not remain silent on.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Thirty million will lose their health care with many thousands dying as a result.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CAMEROTA: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
Up first, America's top intelligence chief reaching out to Donald Trump. James Clapper telling the president-elect that the intelligence community did not leak a dossier that sparked a firestorm of controversy for Mr. Trump yesterday. Mr. Clapper issuing a rare statement, saying that he shares Mr. Trump's dismay over those leaks.
CUOMO: The president-elect decided to deal with the story by doing what he did best, he blasted the media in his first press conference, finally conceding, though, that Russia was behind election hacks.