Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Orders Review of Alleged Allegations of Russian Hacking; Dems Blast Trump for Skipping Intel Briefings; Civilians Flee as Syrian Regime Gains Control of Aleppo; Historic Army/Navy Football Game Tomorrow. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 9, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00) JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, from very bad to even worse in Aleppo, where the Syrian regime is now in near total control of that city. Thousands are fleeing. Too many have given up hope. We're live in the war zone, next.


BERMAN: We do have some breaking news. CNN has confirmed that President Obama has ordered a full review into the allegations that the Russians tried to influence the 2016 elections, including the charges of hacking into various systems around the country. This is all according to the counterterror adviser, Lisa Monaco, in the White House.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's discuss this with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.

[11:35:04] SEN. RON WYDEN, (D), OREGON: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: On this news that we are just learning that President Obama is putting forth this full review into the hacking allegations by Russians, what does that mean?

WYDEN: First of all, it's a good step. And what's important is that it lead quickly to declassifying and releasing information to the American people with respect to Russian involvement in our elections. I, and a number of other intelligence members, it's the first time so many members in recent years have asked that this information be declassified. I think the president's step is constructive.

BERMAN: Let me read you what Donald Trump said about this broader issue, to "Time" magazine, the issue just put out this week. He said, "I don't believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something they say, oh, Russia interfered."

So, Donald Trump doesn't believe it. I know you can't tell us all the classified information, but what can you tell us to make your case that Donald Trump is wrong?

WYDEN: First of all, I consider it bizarre in that the president- elect is reportedly making time for the "Celebrity Apprentice" show, but not for the traditional intelligence briefings. These are the briefings done by actual current intelligence officials who have the latest information, the latest details, about threats to our country. And this is what his predecessors have used for years and years. And ever since October, when our key intelligence officials, Jeh Johnson and James Clapper, said they felt the Russians, the disclosure of these e-mails had been interfering with our elections, the president has dismissed it. I just think to dismiss those officials is unbefitting of what we expect of a president-elect or a president.

BOLDUAN: Senator, you call it bizarre but it's not really clear how much work Donald Trump is doing on "Celebrity Apprentice." He's just really getting the E.P. credit, is what it kind of seems like.

Regardless, to your point, about the intelligence briefings that he's getting or not getting, our reporting is from Jim Sciutto that he's getting, on average, one presidential daily briefing, these intelligence briefings, a week, far fewer than presidents past. What is he missing, do you think, in these briefings?

WYDEN: I think you miss the latest information about current threats. I heard your previous story about various people that he may be talking to, and certainly that's his right, but if you really want to get the best and most current objective information about the threats on the ground, you talk to our current intelligence officials and, apparently, he's not doing that. And I just think to break with the precedent, decades of precedent that his predecessors followed is a big mistake.

BERMAN: Do you think he would be learning about potential Russian interference in these briefings?

WYDEN: Let's put it this way. I have no reason to doubt the assessment made by the intelligence community back in October. The intelligence community was very explicit back in October.

BERMAN: Have they given you evidence that you are just not telling us because it's classified?

WYDEN: I'm not going to get into matters that are classified. That's why I, and a number of Intelligence Committee members, said it ought to be a top priority to get more information to the American people about what actually took place. Yes, there is more information. Yes, it would be in the public interest. And, as Americans, we have always felt if a foreign power is going to interfere with American institutions, we are not going to leave that unchecked.

BOLDUAN: On that breaking news off the top that the president has called for this review, are you clear yet how much information following the result of this review will actually be revealed? Because what I see here from Lisa Monaco, you want to be very attentive to not disclose sources and methods that would impede our ability to identify and attribute malicious actors in the future with the clear understanding of -- there are potential consequences of revealing maybe some of the results of this review. Are you confident they are actually going to other than release it to people with classified clearance like you, release it to the public?

WYDEN: I believe there is significant additional information that could be made available to the American people which would not compromise sources and methods. There always is a test here, and that's why my colleagues and I said, look, we believe there is certainly a need for the American people to have more information. We submitted, in classified channels, the areas we thought were more important. I think it is a priority for the American people to get this information quickly.

Now, I'm also pleased today that we learned that thoughtful Republicans just feel it doesn't pass the smell test for the folks surrounding the president-elect to be just dismissing these concerns, and they are looking at starting their own inquiries. I commend them for it.

[11:40:14] BOLDUAN: Including Senator Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

Senator, always great to have you. Senator Ron Wyden, great to see you.

WYDEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

WYDEN: Let's do it again. Bye.

BOLDUAN: Good. Thank you.

BERMAN: Horror in Aleppo. Hundreds disappearing, thousands fleeing. The Syrian government has gained more control of that key city. Is hope lost for the rebels? We are live inside Aleppo.


BERMAN: For many years, this time of year is about giving back. This weekend, "The Tenth Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute" solutes 10 people who put others first.

BOLDUAN: The gala airs live on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

Take a look at a preview.


ANNOUNCER: They are the kind, the caring, the strong and the brave. They are the ones who see a need, fill a void, make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I'm trying to give them all the opportunities they deserve.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: This has become my life. I don't ever want to do anything else.

ANNOUNCER: They don't do it for themselves. They do it for all the rest of us. They are a reminder of what's good in this world and what it truly means to be a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: We give them the foundation from which they can thrive. The feeling of family.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: We have transformed the lives of thousands of children.

ANNOUCER: This Sunday night, CNN presents a very special live event, "The Tenth Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute."

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, CNN A.C. 360: Tonight, we are gathered to celebrate extraordinary men and women, to highlight the best of what humanity has to offer.

ANNOUNCER: Join host, Anderson Cooper, and special co-host, Kelly Ripa, as we honor 10 extraordinary people. "The Tenth Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute," live Sunday night, at 8:00, on CNN.


BOLDUAN: You will not want to miss it. We are going to be there right along with you. Gather the family and friends, get ready to be inspired. That's Sunday, 8:00 p.m. eastern, here on CNN.


[11:46:38] BOLDUAN: In Syria, air strikes, ground fighting, government forces are pulling out all the stops to try to retake the tiny bit of Aleppo still under rebel control.

BERMAN: This morning, Russia said it's ally, the Syrian regime, now controls 93 percent of eastern Aleppo. And more than 10,000 civilians have fled the area in the last 24 hours.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is the first Western TV reporter inside the old city of Aleppo. He joins us right now.

Fred, first of all, thank you for being there for us.

Give us a sense of what you are seeing and what the reality on the ground is.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, the reality is that there is a massive offensive going on by the Syrian government. We saw this earlier today when first the Russians said there would be a halt in military operations by the Syrian armed forces and by their own armed forces but we saw none of that. We saw a lot of shelling, heavy gunfire, mortar fire, jets in the sky.

As I'm talking to you, I can hear the jets hovering overhead. And I can hear intermittent air strikes on the bit of enclave the rebels still have.

You're right, the Russians say they believe the Syrian government has taken away about 93 percent of what the rebels used to hold. From our vantage point, it looks like they still have maybe about 20 percent of what they used to have, but they certainly are on the back foot, on the defensive. They are losing ground by the hour. And also, there's a lot of people who are fleeing. Those people are in a very bad state -- John?

BERMAN: How many people, Fred? Do you have a sense?

PLEITGEN: I would say that it's tens of thousands. I would say alone, the past couple days that we have been watching, the people who have been coming out, we have at least seen 10,000, maybe 15,000 people who are coming out of various parts of eastern Aleppo. Some say as many as 30,000 to 40,000 people have left, but it really is a lot of them. And it's really hard to do justice to just how bad the people look who come out. It's very difficult to describe, many children who haven't been able to change their clothes or even wash in weeks, elderly people who can barely walk, some who can't walk at all who have to be carted out, all of them hungry because they have been starving. But for the past week, many of them sick because it's so cold here right now. It really is a devastating sight to see these masses of people and the state they're in -- John?

BERMAN: Important you are there to tell their story.

Fred Pleitgen, for us. Please stay safe.

[11:49:13] BOLDUAN: Thank you, Fred.

Right now, the president-elect is en route to Louisiana to stump for a Republican Senate candidate there in a run-off election that is happening tomorrow. Will Donald Trump take on the news that he's keeping his credit with "Celebrity Apprentice" while there? What will he discuss? How will he stump for this candidate today? We will find out. We go live to Baton Rouge.


BERMAN: Army and Navy are set to clash tomorrow in the 117th edition of their historic rivalry. President-elect Trump will be in the stands getting a jump, really, on tradition that began with Teddy Roosevelt in 1901. Nine different presidents have attended the game for a total 19 times.

BOLDUAN: Coy Wire is in Annapolis, Maryland, covering the big showdown for us.

Coy Wire, with some friends with you. What should we expect?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You should expect awesomeness, Ms. Kate.

Good to see you, John.

I'm here at the naval academy in Annapolis. This historic rivalry dates way back to 1890. It's one of the most enchanting rivalries in all of sports. You have men committed to each other and the game, and to us, to the nation they're serving and protecting. We talked to a bunch of players and coaches to find out what makes

this game so special.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Army/Navy game, it's the greatest game in college football, the greatest rivalry in sports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can play at a big stadium, big team, come out Army/Navy, it's a different feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're on the field, the crowd's roaring. The cadets of Army, everybody going nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's awesome to go out with a bunch of guys you have shared experiences with and go play each other on such a big stage and just do it for your country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As bad as we want to beat them and bad as they want to beat us, still a great respect for each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This game is a fight. You know, it'll be blow for blow, a 15-round headway bout.


WIRE: Fierce competition but also camaraderie.

I'm here with Jeff from the naval academy and Randy from Navy.

Somehow, some way, they're still friends.

How did you meet?

[11:55:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While working for Procter & Gamble, and then we rode our bikes across the United States together. That's cemented the friendship.

WIRE: They've known each other 15 years.

What's special, Randy, about this rivalry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that, one day, we're foes, next day, we have to go back together and defend the country.

WIRE: Best chant. Let's hear it!



WIRE: They're ready, guys. It's going to an awesome game.

Tomorrow, America's game, at 3:00 p.m.

BOLDUAN: It's exactly how we got pumped up for the show today. That's amazing.

BERMAN: It sounds like one of our panels!

BOLDUAN: Coy, thank you. And thank everybody there. We appreciate it.

We'll be right back.