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Trump Feuds with John Lewis; Trump Wanting to Lift Russian Sanctions Goes Against Most Republicans in Congress; China Pushes Back on Trump over One China Policy; Newborn Stolen 18 Years Ago Found Alive in S.C.; Democrats Blast FBI Director over Russian Hacking; Rubio Could Derail Trump's Tillerson Pick; Human Smuggling Could Mar MLB's Squeaky Clean Image; Bush Daughters Write Heartfelt Advice for Obama Girls. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired January 14, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York. So, good to be with you.

In six days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and we're following several major stories leading up to his inauguration.

First, in a brand-new interview, the president-elect said he's open to lifting sanctions against Russia, telling the "Wall Street Journal," quote, "If you get along, and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody's doing some really great things?" This goes against almost every single Republican in Congress who either agree with the standing sanctions against Moscow or want more stringent ones passed.

This, as House Democrats are blasting FBI Director James Comey after having a classified meeting with him over Russian hacking. Some say what happened behind closed doors is making them question whether Comey is fit for office. But they're in a tough spot. Do the same Democrats want Donald Trump to pick the next head of the FBI? We'll have more on that in a moment.

But we'll start with President-elect Donald trump firing back at civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, for saying that he does not see Trump as a legitimate president. Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, marking alongside Martin Luther King Jr. And in 1965, Lewis was almost beaten to death while fighting for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. His comments calling Trump illegitimate were made during an interview with NBC News. Listen.


CHUCK TODD, NBC MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: Do you plan to forge a relationship with Donald Trump?

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D), GEORGIA: I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It's going to be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I do not consider the president-elect as a legitimate president. TODD: You do not consider him a legitimate president? Why is that?

LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and it helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. And I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It would be the first one I missed since I've been in the Congress. You cannot be at all responsible that you feel that it's wrong.

TODD: It's going to send a big message to a lot of people in this country that you don't believe he's a legitimate president.

LEWIS: I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him he get elected. That's not right. That's not fair. That's not the open democratic process.


HARLOW: In response, Donald Trump tweeted this, "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime-infested, rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk, no action or results? Sad."

Let's talk about all of this with our panel, Alice Stewart is with me, a Republican strategist and former spokeswoman for Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign; Patti Solis Doyle, a former manager of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid; Wajahat Ali, a Muslim-American playwright and a "New York Times" contributor; and Symone Sanders, former spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. And we're hoping Jeffrey Lord will join us shortly as well, from the Reagan White House.

But let me begin with you, Patti.

Let's look at this big picture, because Democrats and some Republicans howled when Trump, for years, questioned the legitimacy of President Obama's presidency, the Birther movement, and they howled when he questioned how valid the U.S. election results were going to be during the campaign. How is this different now, Representative John Lewis saying this is not a legitimate president?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As I watched that interview with Representative Lewis and NBC, that was pain coming out on his face. It pained him to say those words. And I think Representative Lewis is an icon in the civil rights movement. He basically was almost beaten to death fighting for the rights of others. And for Donald Trump to come out and say he's a man of no action and all talk is really disgraceful.

I also think the onus is on Donald Trump himself. He won the election I'm not questioning the fact he won the election. But as the winner, he should --


HARLOW: I hear you and we're going to debate that in a moment. I hear you on that, and that is a legitimate criticism that should be debated.

But my question to you is, what John Lewis said first, before the president-elect's response, that this is not a legitimate president. Chuck Todd asked why. He said he thinks Russia interfered with the election against Clinton. And the intelligence community has not tied that to Trump's win. They said, yes, Russia tried to meddle but did not say that that is why Trump won. Do you think there's an equivalency here to what Democrats criticized so vehemently that Trump did to what Representative Lewis did?

[15:05:33] SOLIS DOYLE: The intelligence community said they can't come up with a conclusion that it was determinative in this election. We don't know whether Russia's meddling for determinative in this election. And tragically, for Donald Trump, we will never know if it was determinative, and it's that uncertainty that will plague Donald Trump's presidency. And frankly, his actions only add to that skepticism, right? The fact he cannot criticize Vladimir Putin and won't release tax returns to, indeed, show he has no financial dealings in Russia and that he's open to lifting sanctions for Russia.

HARLOW: Alice, it sounds like it's fair for John Lewis to question the legitimacy of the president-elect but not fair for Trump to question the legitimacy, which was completely based on zero fact, of the sitting president. Your thoughts?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Giving a little context here, I grew up in Georgia right across the line from John Lewis's fifth district and spent my childhood looking at the civil rights act. And as a journalist, I had the privilege to interview him after it forbid him and applauded every time he was reelected 14 times, for his actions that led to results for his constituency. And he's a legend in the civil rights movement and his words matter. I believe that with every bone in my body.

However, for him to question the legitimacy of Donald Trump's victory is wrong. He won 306 or 270 Electoral Votes. That means he won a victory. And for him to say that Hillary Clinton lost due to Russia, that is also wrong. It was Hillary Clinton and not Russia that did not have a message that resonated with the American people. It was Hillary Clinton and not Russia that failed to campaign in battleground states. And it was Hillary Clinton and not Russia that spiked the football in the third quarter leading to her defeat. And she had no one is to blame but herself and her campaign for the victory. So, I think --


HARLOW: I want to bring in Jeffrey Lord as well because, to Patti's point, it was that the way that the president-elect responded by saying, focus on your district, your district is a mess and no action, all talk, no action, I mean, this from a guy -- can we pull up those pictures from the civil rights movement from Selma? This is a man who risked his life for action. What do you make of the response?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, he is an icon and a hero. I have tremendous admiration for him. I think the reference to action is what's going on in his congressional district right this minute, not what's going on in John Lewis in 1965.

I have to say, I'm disappointed in him. I find this strangely both sad and amusing. It's sad because the whole issue of delegitimizing somebody -- John Lewis himself and most of these people who were at senior levels of the civil rights movement in the 1960s were quote, unquote, "delegitimized" by people who didn't think they should have the right to vote, that they were second-class citizens, et cetera. So, that's a terrible thing to do to anybody. And that's what he is, in essence, now sort of come circle around here and is doing this to Donald Trump.

On the other hand, I must say, I find this kind of amusing.


HARLOW: Jeffrey Lord, the man who pushed the Birther movement for years and years to gain support among some to make this presidential bid. Does he have any ground to stand on, to criticize what John Lewis is doing?


LORD: I don't think that the Birther movement bequeathed his candidacy. His candidacy thrived because of issues like trade, the economy, things of that nature. In Pennsylvania, it was definitely trade. I know people who lost their jobs because of these trade deals.


HARLOW: But, Jeffrey Lord, what I'm asking you, is the man who pushed that our current president is illegitimate, does he have ground to stand on to get mad at someone doing the same thing to him?

LORD: I don't think it matters one way or the other. He's the president-elect and he will be president in less than a week from now, and we'll move forward.

[15:09:57] HARLOW: I think history matters.

I'd like to bring in __.

Before I do, listen to what the head of the NAACP just said about this. Let's play it.


CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: In recent hours and days, the president-elect referred to an icon of the civil rights movement, who came perilously close to becoming a martyr of the civil rights movement by the name of Reverend, or rather, Reverend and Representative John Lewis. The president-elect said he was all talk and no action. Disrespected.


HARLOW: Symone, your thoughts?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say that president Brooks is right. I would like to remind folks it was John Lewis who led the House floor sit-in on gun violence and Republicans not going to take a bill with gun control in the U.S. House of representatives. So, look, I want to go back to the point that you were. Russia did meddle in our election and hope people know this is not a bipartisan issue. The fact that Russia meddled in our election affects us all and we should all be concerned about it. John Lewis is an icon and, frankly, he has the right to voice the opinion and many folks who aren't saying it but feel what John Lewis is saying. I think we're having the wrong conversation here. The conversation should be about if the president-elect appropriately responding to something and why is this still a man you can bait with a tweet and where the Republican Congress with Senators and members of Congress who are coming to the defense of John Lewis in the way Democrats came to the defense of John McCain when the president-elect attacked John McCain? This should not be a partisan issue. This is the eve on the Martin Luther King Jr holiday and we should be celebrating our civil rights icon, and this is not how I want to start off the holiday.

HARLOW: Ali, let me get you in here because, as we all know, the election didn't go the way that President Obama wanted it to go. But he is the one who has said, look, we, as Americans, need to be supportive of the next president, help the next president. The two of them met for hours, talked on the phone for many, many hours. That's the message from the sitting president.

WAJAHAT ALI, MUSLIM-AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT & NEW YORK TIMES CONTRIBUTOR: Well, because he acts presidential, because he has to. He has a sense of decorum. There's a reason why President-elect Donald Trump is one of the most historically unpopular presidents about to enter within an approval rating of 37 percent and maybe 38 percent. I'll give a percentage point. It's because he spent 17 minutes on Twitter on MLK weekend, in a tone-deaf way, criticizing civil rights hero, John Lewis, saying he has all talk, no action. I think what would be radical and bold, Poppy, is if Donald J. Trump criticized Putin for once, who he said is a smart man. And when it comes to the illegitimacy claim - and this is very important -- the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to investigate Russia's role in the hacking. The Department of Justice --


HARLOW: A bipartisan panel, by the way.

ALI: Bipartisan panel. They're going to investigate the FBI's role. We have our intelligence communities saying that Russia played a role with the explicit interest and hope that Donald J. Trump would be elected. General Michael Flynn, national security advisor, allegedly takes calls with Russia's ambassador to Washington the day that President Obama says he's going to retaliate against Russia. Then you have Rex Tillerson, secretary of state nominee, who has ties, as a president of Exxon, to Russia. And Donald J. Trump was elected because he was bold, brash, politically incorrect. He would take on Iran, take on Islam, Alicia Machado, China, he takes on everyone. But the person he never takes on is Vladimir Putin.


HARLOW: Guys, we're running out of time. But I need Alice to respond to that.

Alice, your quick response that the president-elect is being more critical of John Lewis than Vladimir Putin?

STEWART: I think for anyone to think that Donald Trump will be a puppet to Putin is sadly mistaken. He's making it clear we don't want to have bad relations with Russia. A good relationship with Russia is in America's best interest. But at the same time, he will be tough if Putin pushes back on us.

And I think there is a great point made by Mattis this week, we can't have history be a straightjacket and the historic relations with Russia need to change, and we need to change the way we deal with them. It remains to see how we'll do it, but we have a good cop/bad cop with some of the national security team. Mattis and Pompeo were clear they will be firm with Russia, and them in concert with the other members of the national security team, I think --


ALI: I don't see how --


HARLOW: Guys, I have to --


HARLOW: I have to leave it there.


[15:15:14] HARLOW: I will note the president-elect has not tweeted about Putin or any of the actions of Putin carried out as he has about John Lewis today.

Guys, a lot more to discuss. You'll all be with me next hour. Thank you very much.

A lot more to get to, including this incredible story. Stolen at birth, a baby taken from a hospital 18 years ago, now found alive. How her birth mother is reacting.

Also, is it Marco Rubio's revenge? Their icy relationship often took center stage on the campaign trail and Marco Rubio could hold the power to derail Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state. The latest on where the vote stands on Rex Tillerson.

And later, criminal underworld. A "CNN Money" investigation exposes ties between Major League Baseball and the world's most-dangerous drug cartel. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: Turning to Russia now, the president-elect is open to lifting sanctions against Russia. This goes against the majority of Republicans who support the sitting sanctions or want more stringent ones.

Jill Dougherty joins me from Moscow, a global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Center and CNN's Moscow bureau chief.

Good to have you on, Jill.

Let me read the exact quote of what the president-elect told the "Wall Street Journal," "If you get along with Russia, and Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody is doing some of these really great things?"

You know Russian politics, the Kremlin well. What message do you think that sends to Russia if he's saying that, and you have the outgoing president and a lot of sitting Republican lawmakers debating further more stringent sanctions?

[15:19:49] JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's probably a careful response thinking that, yes, we want to get rid of sanctions, yes, that's what Donald Trump said all along. And maybe it will happen but it's quite complicated. I do think that what they would think of initially would be working together on Syria and in fact, there are now these indications that they want the United States to participate Russia, and turkey. So maybe that's a sign that they can work together, but Poppy, it really is very complicated and the incoming president is not being very specific in how he's defining that. There are a lot of caveats in those.

HARLOW: He said if they're helping us and doing really great things and that's very broad, obviously, but let's say that Russia does step up its efforts to help the United States in terms of defeating ISIS and more in line with the United States when it comes to the situation in Syria. That doesn't negate all of the other things and doesn't negate the annexation of Crimea and the attacks against civilians in Syria. It doesn't negate the assassination of Boris. It's a lot more complex.

DOUGHERTY: But don't forget, that's what you're saying and not what Donald Trump is saying. Donald Trump has said, well, maybe I could accept Russia's taking Crimea. Maybe we could work something out on Ukraine. There's a lot -- he already stated positions, albeit not very specifically, but NATO, NATO is absolutely obsolete and maybe we shouldn't defend our NATO partners unless they cough up the money. So, there's a lot that Russia likes. But getting back to Syria, ISIS is something Trump would like because it would be a win, and Putin would like that, too.

HARLOW: Thank you, Jill Dougherty, live from Moscow. Coming up, China today pushing back hard against President-elect

Donald Trump's suggestion that the One China policy is negotiable. This follows the controversial phone call that Trump had with Taiwan's president last month. Beijing releasing this statement today, quote, "The One China principle is the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations and is non-negotiable." It went on to say, "We urge the relevant in the United States to recognize the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and abide by the pledges by successive U.S. administrations from both parties." The Chinese government responding to an interview that Trump gave, that same interview to the "Wall Street Journal" where Trump said this, "Everything is under negotiation, including One China." China, of course, views Taiwan as a renegade province since 1979. The U.S. acknowledged Beijing's claim that Taiwan is, indeed, part of China.

Still to come for us, a remarkable story unfolding right now in South Carolina and Florida. An 18-year-old discovered she was snatched, kidnapped at birth, from the hospital, while the family who lost her so many years ago finds out she is alive. We'll bring that story to you next.


[15:26:10] HARLOW: Now an 18-year-old mystery suddenly solved. A baby girl stolen at birth back in 1998 has been found alive and living all of these years with the woman she thought was her mother, and that woman is in police custody, and a family in Florida is learning their baby taken from them so many years ago is, indeed, a teenager living in South Carolina.

Our Polo Sandoval is following this.

Polo, has the family been reunited with the now woman they last saw as an infant?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Poppy, at least that's what our sources are telling us. She remains in South Carolina but does hopes to make contact with her family in Jacksonville. This is leading to many emotions and also many questions, including what was it that led deputies from Florida to South Carolina to give this woman the news that would change her life?


VELMA AIKEN, GRANDMOTHER OF BABY KAMYA: I always thought it would happen one day. I had no idea it would be this day.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Velma Aiken's prayers answered 18 years after this rendering of her granddaughter happened.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It happened at this Jacksonville hospital.

SANDOVAL: In July, 1998, Kamya Mobley (ph) was just a few hours old when a woman dressed as a nurse walked out of a Florida hospital with her. She left behind no trace in a heartbroken young mother.

UNIDENTIFIED BIRTH MOTHER: I would be the happiest woman in the world if I could just to hold my baby.

SANDOVAL: The exhaustive search turned up clues but no Baby Kamya.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: OK, you all have a great day. Thanks.

SANDOVAL: 18 years and nearly 2500 tips later, the Jacksonville sheriff's office received the tips they need. Investigators were led to the tiny town of Walterboro, South Carolina.

MIKE WILLIAMS, SHERIFF, JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We found an 18-year-old young woman with the same date of birth but a different name. So, further investigation revealed fraudulent documents have been used for that identity.

SANDOVAL: Sheriff Mike Williams said DNA analysis confirms that the 18-year-old woman in Walterboro is Baby Kamya.

WILLIAMS: I am not revealing her name, the name that she's lived under for all these years.

SANDOVAL: Gloria Williams, the woman believed to have raised Baby Kamya, was arrested Friday and charged with kidnapping. A neighbor of the 51-year-old woman told CNN, Williams and the girl she raised seemed to have a normal mother/daughter relationship.

Today, the young woman faces a new reality, being away from the only mother she ever knew.


SANDOVAL: So now one of the lingering questions, what will happen next for this young lady? Who will she choose to live with? My colleagues there in South Carolina did have an opportunity to speak with some of the family members and the friends here of Gloria Williams, who described her as a normal mom, someone, as you just heard, maintained a good relationship with someone that many believe was actually her daughter. So, as you may imagine, Poppy, this is coming as a major surprise for that small town in South Carolina.

HARLOW: And, Polo, I understand some tips came in, in recent months, right? What ultimately led these authorities to find her?

SANDOVAL: That's something we've been working all day. The sheriff's office in Jacksonville is not elaborating a whole lot. Just saying they received several tips late last year. It led their deputies from Florida to South Carolina but they wouldn't say much more. They wouldn't say where the tips came from or what they were about.

[15:30:00] And finally, Poppy, another interesting note, directly from the Jacksonville sheriff, was they have reason to believe that perhaps Kamya already suspected she may have been a victim of kidnapping in the months leading up to that development. I asked for more information on that and they said, at this point, they released about everything they're willing to release.

HARLOW: Of course, because it's obviously her life and a lot of private things.

SANDOVAL: And it's an ongoing investigation.

HARLOW: Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

HARLOW: Straight ahead, could a no-vote from Senator Marco Rubio derail Rex Tillerson's plans to be the next secretary of state? What we're learning about a possible meeting between the two and the Democrats who could still throw their support behind Tillerson.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: Donald Trump may have a problem in the form of Senator Marco Rubio. The president-elect crushed the Florida Republican's presidential dreams in a bitter primary. Now Rubio may have an opportunity for revenge. If he chooses to flex his Congressional muscle over one of Donald Trump's most controversial picks.

Manu Raju explains.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): The fate of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state in the hands of someone Donald Trump often derided when they were campaign rivals.


RAJU: Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican Senator, could provide a crucial vote to block Tillerson in the Foreign Relations Committee which would be a major embarrassment for Trump.

Rubio refuses to say what he'll do.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: We're still working through it, so, you know, we'll have a decision here soon.

RAJU: And he won't say if he'll even meet with Tillerson.

(on camera): A lot has transpired since this morning. Have you met with him yet?

RUBIO: I don't have anything to add.

RAJU: Rubio grew visibly frustrated at Tillerson during the nearly nine-hour confirmation hearing. The nominee repeatedly dodged his questions, mainly about Russia, a country Tillerson had extensive ties with.

RUBIO: Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?


RUBIO: Based on all this information and what's publicly in the record about what happened in Russia and the Aleppo military, you are still not prepared to say that Vladimir Putin have violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in Aleppo?

[15:35:11] TILLERSON: Those are very, very serious charges to make and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion.

RUBIO: It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin's military has conducted war crimes in Aleppo. I mean, I find it discouraging.

RAJU (on camera): What concerns you most?

RUBIO: I stated that already. I think it's important if you're going to stand for moral clarity that you be clear.

RAJU (voice-over): Rubio and other Senators, including John McCain, are concerned with Trump's praise of Putin and uncertain that Tillerson would take a harder line as secretary of state.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you want a better deal with Russia, you better punch Russia in the face.

RAJU: But Tillerson's nomination may be saved by Democrats on the committee who are still open to backing him.

(on camera): Could you vote for Tillerson?

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: I'm not ruling that out at all.


HARLOW: Manu Raju reporting.

If Rubio decided to come out against Tillerson, he would be lining up with GOP foreign policy hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. And given the narrow GOP majority, a decision by the three of them to oppose Tillerson to doom the nomination and should all band together in opposition, including Democrats, which is not a given. We don't know. We could see some Democrats vote for him.

Let's talk this over with our panel. Alice Stewart and Patti Solis Doyle are back.

Alice, Rubio also said in that with Manu this week when Manu said, are you prepared to be the sole Republican in committee to block this and slow it down? He said, quote, "I'm prepared to do what's right." What do you think Rubio's end game is here?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That remains to be seen. I think it's important to note he hasn't said he's not going to vote for Tillerson and he's asking simply the hard questions. Look, at this stage of the game, after the hearings that we've seen, I think any Republican that opposes Tillerson's nomination is on an island against many GOP heavyweights when it comes to national security. Look at those that have supported Tillerson. We've had Stephen Hadley, Robert Gates, Condoleezza Rice and heavyweights with foreign policy with the faith and confidence they need to support Tillerson and his experience in not just the private sector but his experience in building national and global relationships which are critical to this role. Russia is the key factor and the key issue but you have to look at the full context of this experience that it's a reason why so many in the GOP and as we saw in Manu's piece, Cory Booker of all people saying in addition to the hearings said I expect you to be the secretary of state and he looks forward to working with him.


STEWART: So you need to take a look at that.

HARLOW: To that point, Patti, do you think if Rubio wants a political future in the national stage, he's risking that and goes against a lot of these established heavyweights? If he doesn't vote for him?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that Marco Rubio did not fare very well during the election and trying to gain back some of, you know, his political mojo in this hearing and he did just that. I think he really put Rex Tiller season on the ropes and I think Rex Tillerson had a rocky confirmation hearing. Russia is clearly looming large in this administration and the fact that Rex Tillerson could not call Vladimir Putin a war criminal and was disingenuous at best when he said that Exxon never lobbied to lift sanctions for Russia, I think it only adds to the intrigue of the relationships between Trump and his administration with the Russians. So, I think Marco Rubio fared very well during this hearing.

HARLOW: Alice --


HARLOW: Alice, does it concern you when he was asked this week in the confirmation hearing that Tillerson said he and the president-elect had not talked about the policy? That is the biggest concern people had about the nomination coming into this, and the two haven't talked about it?

STEWART: I think what it shows is that clearly there's many things they've had discussions about but he knows where Donald Trump stands with regard to Russia and they've seen.


HARLOW: But, Alice, he said -- he said under oath that they hadn't talked about it.

STEWART: That's probably true, but the fact remains, he knows exactly where Donald Trump stands with regard to Russia. I'm sure he had a huge briefing paper with regard to where Donald Trump stands. And what we see on a lot of these hearings, Donald Trump puts up people for the cabinet positions that don't drink an ounce of his Kool-Ade when it comes to these issues and we have differences on issues whether it comes to TPP and Russia and whether it comes to a lot of these trade deals. So, he's bringing in a team of rivals with different opinions and listening to where they stand on it.

[15:40:18] HARLOW: It's an important point for sure because the question is sort of what will net out when you do you have people like Mattis when it comes to NATO and Russia, and even the Iran deal, for example?

Because Patti, Sean Spicer, when asked about that this week said this, quote, "They will pursue a Trump agenda and a Trump vision." How do you see it?

SOLIS DOYLE: It's important to have different opinions because you can only be smarter by having different voices and that's why I'm more comfortable with Mattis as secretary of defense. But when it comes to Rex Tillerson, which is what we're talking about here, his views correspond directly with Trump's views, which is he's advocating for Russia and at a time when we are about to have hearings about Russia meddling with our U.S. elections, a hostile nation meddling in our U.S. election. And the idea that our secretary of state --


HARLOW: Not exactly, Patti. In that confirmation hearing, he said Russia must, quote, "be held to account for its actions," which he called, quote, "illegal actions," and he said it's a fair assumption that Putin authorized the hack on the election. So, he actually is going further, Tillerson is, than Trump.

SOLID DOYLE: Barely further. He couldn't call him a war criminal and basically denied his company that had been with for decades wasn't lobbying for Russia.

STEWART: One thing I want to point out in regard to Tillerson --

HARLOW: Very quickly.

STEWART: -- and Russia, with the position in the global economic realm, he understands fully what sanctions do, not just what they're intended to do but to do. And also, he's one piece of the U.S. policy toward Russia. We have his view, and Mattis' and Pompeo's and others, which are more firm when it comes to Russia. Tillerson is one piece of the U.S. policy towards Russia. I think we'll have of these difference voices together. Donald Trump makes the final decision but I think it's a good, well-rounded voice of experts with national security.

HARLOW: The lingering question, what will Marco Rubio do. We'll watch and cover all week.

Thank you both very much. We appreciate it.

Ahead, we're turning to a fascinating story only here on CNN. There's a dark underside to Major League Baseball. How human smuggling could mar the sport's squeaky clean image. We'll have that and the latest "CNN Money" investigation ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:46:12] HARLOW: Baseball is America's favorite past time, right? But there is a dark underside to this game with links to Cuba, vast human trafficking network and ties to the world's most-dangerous drug cartel. It's on a CNN investigation that has uncovered how that network supplies MLB with some top players. And it reveals that MLB knows and sometimes ignores that these players are preyed upon by this violent criminal underworld.

Joining me now, "CNN Money" sport business reporter, Ahiza Garcia; and "CNN Money" investigative reporter, Jose Pagliery.

Thank you both for being here.

This was stunning to me, stunning to so many people. You worked on this months and months pouring through court documents. It kept you up at night, no doubt.

There have been multiple federal investigations. What's happening? What's the crux of how this has happened?

AHIZA GARCIA, CNN MONEY SPORT BUSINESS REPORTER: Poppy, there are essentially three reasons why this is happening. The first is that U.S. companies can't negotiate directly with Cubans, so created an opportunity there. The second thing is that Cubans under the wet foot dry foot policy were able to come and put on a pathway to citizenship or residency. What that means is they come here, considered almost residents and so they're entered into the draft which definitely cuts back on negotiating power. If they're able to stop in a third country, Mexico, for example, and establish residency there, they get a lot more leverage. They're considered free agents. They don't have to enter the draft and they can score some of the multi-million dollar contracts we're seeing.

HARLOW: So these smugglers, essentially, Jose, pose as their agents?


HARLOW: And then take huge cuts of their salaries and don't let them reunite with their family?

PAGLIERY: The money really drives it. The path they've taken starts in Cuba. And the ones we've documented usually go through Mexico and a map shows us how this works. Cuba to Mexico and held by these smugglers who say, we could take you straight to the U.S. But we'll keep you here, sometimes by lock and key while we make deals with drug cartels to maximize the potential for these teams. We documented cases where they are held for weeks or months while the smugglers become the agents, hook them up with MLB teams and then eventually pull them.

HARLOW: Some of the witnesses -- I know there's one case going to trial really soon. Some of the witnesses are star MLB players.

GARCIA: Yes. HARLOW: What is Major League Baseball saying about this?

GARCIA: They have yet to respond.

HARLOW: At all?

GARCIA: At all.

HARLOW: Even after the story broke?

GARCIA: Yes, even after the story.


GARCIA: We spoke to two scouts who said they were aware there was a criminal element to this but it was not their business to get involved. A smuggler --

PAGLIERY: It's their job to sign to the MLB. They'll turn the other way.

HARLOW: Doesn't matter how they got here.

PAGLIERY: Right. It doesn't matter --

HARLOW: They're going to keep their money.

PAGLIERY: Right. Even though it's known that this is how he has players managed to get here and the smugglers take a huge chunk of their contracts. So, the public sees a player gets a $70 million contract, what they don't though is 30 percent of that is promised to their smuggler and a huge chunk of that goes to a drug cartel like the Zetas in Mexico.


GARCIA: One of the scouts said he advised the player to pay them off, just make it go away.

HARLOW: Just make it go away.

How vast is this criminality? And what is law enforcement doing about it?

PAGLIERY: This is interesting. The way we found out about this is there's this upcoming trial of this agent who is an alleged smuggler. We looked back into how many cases are there that prosecutors in Miami have looked into in the past? We went back to 2010, 2006, 2004. This has been going on for more than 10 years, involving multiple rings and dozens of MLB players, this is pretty extensive?

HARLOW: Are the feds doing anything?

[15:50:05] GARCIA: They are.

HARLOW: I mean, we've got this trial. But on a material scale? PAGLIERY: They've gone after individual smuggler's rings.


GARCIA: We spoke to one smuggler who was once a multimillionaire and now drives an Uber. Now he's -- he's gone to prison on this. His big thing is that, with MLB, why are they not being --


PAGLIERY: What we're hearing from smugglers that we've spoken to and have been convicted is, all right, you went after us, but why don't you go after the MLB because they happen to know about this.

HARLOW: Maybe we'll get a comment. Maybe they're watching.


HARLOW: Thank you. Great reporting as always.

You can read more about this by Jose and Ahiza on

Thank you both.

GARCIA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Coming up next -- I love seeing this this week. Did you see it? A very touching letter from two former first daughters, to Sasha and Malia Obama. What Jenna and Barbara Bush have to say to the to face life after the White House, that's next.


HARLOW: The Bush twins have an emotional heartfelt message for President Obama's daughters. In an open letter, Jenna Bush Hagger and her sister, Barbara Bush, are welcoming Sasha and Malia Obama as they prepare to join the former first-children club. Security is very tight, lots of photographs and photographers hanging around, watching your every move.

Jean Casarez has more on the Bush twins' advice for the Obama girls.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, with the inauguration of Donald Trump less than a week away, it is not only president and Mrs. Obama that will be leaving the White House, but also their daughters, Sasha and Malia.

There are two young women out there who can understand what the current first daughters are going through -- Jenna and Barbara Bush. The Bush daughters wrote a welcome letter to Sasha and Malia in 2008. Now they have written another.

(voice-over): In a gesture of solidarity, Jenna and Barbara Bush write to the sisters who followed them into the White House eight years ago.

BARBARA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE W. BUSH: Malia and Sasha, eight years ago, on a cold November day, we greeted you on the steps at the White House. We saw both the light and wariness as you gazed at your new home.

[15:55:11] CASAREZ: Malia and Sasha were 10 and 8 years old when their father was elected president.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The Bush daughters were so nice to Malia and Sasha and showed them where their rooms might be and told them all the secrets of how life at the White House can be fun.

CASAREZ: They even taught them how to slide down the bannister in the White House solarium.

It's not the first emotional letter they've written to the Obama sisters.

"Sasha and Malia, here is some advice to you from two sisters who have stood where you will stand and who have lived where you will live." That was January 20, 2009, Inauguration day.

The relationship between the four girls continued as Malia and Sasha embraced their roles of first daughters, growing up in the White House, while going on official trips with their parents all over the world.

And it was Jenna Bush who quickly came to the defense of the Obama sisters when a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill criticized them for their attire and expressions during the 2014 annual White House turkey pardon.

JENNA BUSH HAGGER, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm fiercely protective. They're great girls. I think social media sort of exploded. They've done an incredible job.

CASAREZ: A job as first daughters that may now be ending. But headed towards a new chapter of young adulthood.

"Explorer your passions, learn who you are. Make mistakes. You are allowed to."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of all that I've done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.


CASAREZ: In 2009, Barbara and Jenna's letter spoke of love and family. "Here is our most important piece of advice, remember who your dad really is."

And in 2016 --

HAGGER: You've listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who have never even met them.

As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin this next chapter.

BUSH: And so will we.

CASAREZ (on camera): The question now is will this tradition continue? Barron, the 10-year-old son of Donald Trump, won't move into the White House until the current school year is over. But will Sasha and Malia write to this little boy about the new world that awaits him -- Poppy?


HARLOW: Jean, thank you so much.

We have a lot more ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We're back in a moment.