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Obama Expels Russian Diplomats; Interview with Kellyanne Conway; World Mourns Carrie Fisher. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 19:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... she did in the movie and I think later, Carrie Fisher would say that people kind of assumed that that the movie was based on Debbie Reynolds more than it really was.

But yes, they did sort of undergo these, again these iconic struggles, you know, Debbie Reynolds with the breakup of the marriage to Eddie Fisher and then subsequent marriages to men who didn't treat her very nicely.

JIM SCIUTTO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And (Anne) and (Steven), we are going to have to leave it there on those two remarkable careers. Thanks very much. I'm Jim Sciutto, thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next, President Obama hits Russia hard expelling 35 Russian diplomats and shuttering spy compound in the US. How will Russia now respond?

Plus Donald Trump has long doubted Russia was ever behind the hacks at all. Did this change his mind? I'll ask Senior Trump Advisor, Kellyanne Conway.

And Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds dies just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher, did she die of a broken heart? Let's go OutFront.

Good evening, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, we have breaking news. President Obama fires back at Russia slapping unprecedented new measures against Moscow for hacking the 2016 presidential election today kicking out 35 Russian operatives with diplomatic status here, giving them to 72 hours to get out of the country.

The president also shutting down to Russian intelligence facilities in Maryland and New York and imposing new sanctions on Russians believed to be behind the cyberattacks. President Obama said in a statement that the hacking is this, "Could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government." And just moments ago, President-elect Donald Trump reacted saying this, "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things."

President-elect also said that he is going to meet with the intelligence community to get an update on the factsnext week. Athena Jones is outfront in Honolulu where the President Obama is vacationing right now.

Athena, what more are you learning tonight about this major move by the President?

ATHENA JONES, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, the White House says that Russia shouldn't be surprised by these actions and they're stressing that the announced moves do not amount to the quote "sum total" of our response. The administration is also planning covert measures, all of these aimed at delivering one message to Russia.

There are costs and consequences for their actions.


JONES: In a statement, the Treasury Department named nine entities and individuals now subject to expanded sanctions, including Russia's military intelligence unit and it's head, as well as the Domestic Security Service.

The State Department following suit declaring 35 Russian intelligence operatives persona non grata and giving these spies just 72 hours to leave the country. The government also is shutting down two Russian government-owned compounds, one in New York and this one on the Eastern shore of Maryland.

In a White House statement, the President said, "All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions..." and repeated that the activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.

This moves and comments, President-elect Donald Trump continues to dismiss the US intelligence assessment of Russian interference in the presidential election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. You know, the age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on.

JONES: While Trump has resisted blaming Russia, members of his own party are standing behind the Obama administration, promising to impose additional sanctions in Congress. Senator Lindsey Graham on a Congressional delegation to Russia's neighboring states took on Trump's comments.

LINDSAY GRAHAM, SENATOR OF SOUUTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: And I think most of us, Democrats and Republicans really believe that Russia is up to no good all over the world. They are trying to break the back of democracies and if we don't push back against Putin, Iran and China they could hack into our systems.

JONES: Intelligence officials have publicly attributed the cyberattacks on US political groups and individuals including the Democratic National Committee to Russia. Even before the announcement of the US retaliation, Russia promised a response. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry saying in a statement quote,

"Frankly speaking, we are tired of lies about Russian hackers that continue to be spread in the United States from the very top and we can only add that if Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer."

The White House is ready to respond whatever actions Russia takes.

ERIC SHULTZ, SPOKESMAN, WHITE HOUSE: We can anticipate a response of some kind, but the truth is that we enjoy the greatest capabilities of any country on earth. That's offensive and defensive that applies to cyber space, but it also applies to diplomatic resources, intelligence resources and tools we have in our toolbox that hold countries accountable to sanctions.


JONES: And that response from Russia is already beginning. Russian authorities have ordered the American school in Moscow to close according to a US official briefed on the matter and more measures are coming.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in a statement on Facebook that Russia will announce retaliation measures tomorrow saying quote. "Tomorrow will be the official statements, countermeasures and a lot of other things." Kate?

BOLDUAN: More to come. Athena, thank you very much. OutFront now with me tonight, former CIA operative, Bob Baer. Bob, in the spy world, what does this all mean?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, Kate, it reminds me of the Cold War. I think the evidence is pretty clear that the Russians did hack and if they did hack, the KGB or military intelligence, the GRU, it was done at the top at Putin's orders and the United States had to respond and expelling 35 diplomats is one way. It could be KGB operatives, but what you can count on is there will be countermeasures, retaliation by Putin and it would be heavy -- heavy- handed.

So we are deep back into the Cold War. I mean, who knows what Trump's going to do once he gets in, but right now, this is what we have.