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Pressure on Trump to Accept Russian Hack Evidence; Trump Disagrees with Congress Gutting of Ethics Office; Ford Cancelling Mexico Move, Adding 700 Jobs in Michigan; Trump Lashing Out at North Korea; Dresser Falls on Boy; Swearing In of Republican-Controlled Congress Today. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 3, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:23] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN exclusive. Intelligence officials say digital fingerprints indicate Moscow was, indeed, behind the hack in the U.S. election season. Pressure is growing for the President-elect Donald Trump to accept the mounting evidence of Russia's involvement.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect has all along cast doubt on the connection to Russia with regard to the election hacking. He's also, though, saying most recently he's withholding judgment until he gets briefed, which will happen this week.

Let's get more on this with CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, and former CIA operative, Bob Baer.

Pamela, first to you.

This exclusive reporting on CNN about these digital fingerprints, what does this mean?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is another piece of evidence, new evidence, that is bolstering confidence among U.S. Intelligence officials that Russia is to blame for the election hack. Essentially through an analysis of data of documents, officials were able to trace the hack to specific keyboards with Cyrillic text. The Russian alphabet on the keyboard. They believe these keyboards were used to make the malware code that was used in the hacks during the election. And as one official said, though, this is just one piece of evidence. There are many pieces of the puzzle that the U.S. intelligence community has looked at in making the determination and giving them the high level of confidence that Russia is to blame, and this is part of that.

BERMAN: Bob Baer, the Kremlin responded to that. A spokesman told CNN, "I don't understand what this means but Cyrillic characters can be used anywhere. One again, I reject that Russia can be involved in any way."

So, Bob, when you hear digital fingerprints, what does it mean to you?

BOB BAER, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: First of all, with the Russians, it doesn't matter what they say. This was a covert operation, which they're never going to admit, nor would any intelligence service.

But to get to the digital fingerprint, it's almost like a 3-D image because on one level you're looking at the code. It's code the Russian KGB has used before in the Baltics, Ukraine, Europe as well. The intelligence agencies will compare this to the history of using this code. And then you have the metadata, the timing of the hacks, I.P. addresses and the rest of it. It gets very complicated. It's beyond my complete understanding but it's not just a keyboard. And you just look at means and motive, and it all points to Russia. It's going to be very difficult for the president-elect to overcome this intelligence now that it's out there. And I think the more that's declassified, the more comprehensible it will be to us.

BOLDUAN: Bob, former CIA Director James Woolsey, he's saying now that, in his view, Woolsey's view, that it's probably Russia behind the attacks but it's also probably China and Iran involved as well. Is there a clear-cut answer to be had who exactly and how much they were involved?

BAER: Well, here's the theory out there. And I've heard this from people in national security. They said maybe somebody stole the Russian code or the Russians gave it to the Iranians, for instance. And that the Iranians or Chinese are behind this or who knows but that's conspiracy theory which -- I don't believe it. Did more people hack into the DNC? Very easy to do. It's possible. But I think it's significant that Jim Woolsey who -- I've worked for the guy -- has come out and said the Russians were probably behind it. I think he's right.

[11:35:08] BERMAN: Pamela, the Trump transition continues to point to this final report from the intelligence community that the White House asked for. Is there any sense when this comes out how much will be in it and how much the public will be able to see?

BROWN: My colleague, Evan Perez, and I are told by officials that the report is expected to come out this week. Of course, that could change, but the expectation is to come out this week and after that, President-elect Trump will be briefed by leaders in the intelligence community specifically about the Russian hack. Now we are told there will be new information in this report. Some information will be declassified so that it can be included in this report to the public. But as we've heard from officials before, they are not going to include everything they know because they don't want to reveal sources and methods and tip off people with malicious intent in the future. But we're told there will be information about why the administration believes Russia is to blame.

BOLDUAN: Pamela Brown, thank you.

Bob, thank you as always.

BERMAN: Donald Trump on Twitter conducting nuclear diplomacy, telling the erratic leader of North Korea that when it comes to testing missiles, it won't happen. Is that the right way to deal with nuclear weapons? BOLDUAN: Plus, this. Every parent's nightmare caught on camera. A

dresser falling on a 2-year-old child. Then his twin brother - oh, god, every time -- springs into action. That is next.


[11:39:55] BOLDUAN: BERMAN: We have a lot going on this hour. Number one, Ford just announced it's canceling plans to build a plant in Mexico.

BOLDUAN: Number two.

BERMAN: Number two, Donald Trump, the president-elect, splitting with House Republicans on the ethics panel the Republicans just emasculated, or tried to, in the House.

BOLDUAN: Number three.

BERMAN: Number three is Russian hacking into the U.S. election. New information on that. Digital fingerprints found linking it to Russia. Plus, a new interview with someone who will be key on this.

Joining us to discuss it all, CNN political commentators, Republican strategist, Doug Heye; CNN political commentator, radio host, Ben Ferguson, host of the "Ben Ferguson Radio Show"; CNN political reporter, Manu Raju. And hopefully, joining us soon, CNN political commentator, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Angela Rye.

The newest thing is this interview with John McCain, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee who will be holding news on this hearing on Russian hacking. And you have news.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right I talked to him, just a few moments ago, in the capitol. John McCain is a hardline critic of Vladimir Putin. He wants the Trump administration to take a firmer line on Russia. And he wants more investigations into the alleged Russian hacking of the United States elections.

Now I asked him about this push to create a select bipartisan committee to investigate the Russia hacking. And he does not think it's going to happen. Here's what's he had to say.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: Without the support of the leadership, I would imagine, it won't. But we'll move ahead in the armed services committee.

RAJU: What's your reaction?

MCCAIN: I can assure you our friends in eastern Europe are very nervous and very concerned about what this administration's policy will be towards Vladimir Putin.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: The reason he says he does not think that select committee probably will not happen is because of the opposition of Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who does not want to go forward with a select committee investigating the Russia hacks. Instead, McConnell and others want to do that with existing committees where they have more oversight, more control over something that could be more expansive. Potentially, a distraction to the new Trump administration.

One other thing McCain said, he still has concerns with Rex Tillerson as the secretary of state nominee for Donald Trump. He's going to meet with him this week because he's concerned with his position on Russia.

BOLDUAN: Good stuff, Manu.

Doug, on this issue of Russia, so John McCain is -- regardless if it's a select committee or not, John McCain is holding hearings. He's going to investigate this. Pushing for more sanctions, more everything when it comes to fighting Russia. What does this fight look like if Donald Trump doesn't change his position where he's doubted the intelligence connecting Russia to the election hack? Where is this fight headed between this new Congress and Donald Trump?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's an interparty fight. Similar to the struggles in 2009 between House and Senate Democrats in the White House. These things are natural. Whether it's an independence committee, select committee which ultimately has a lot of titles and so forth but doesn't have much more authority than an actual committee, John McCain is going to investigate this. This will not be uninvestigated. The question is whether Senate Republicans, Senate Republican leadership will push that as well, vis-a-vis everything happening just in the next 17 days with the start of the Trump administration.

BERMAN: Ben Ferguson, Donald Trump creating distance between himself and House Republicans on the issue of the Office of Congressional Ethics, this once independent panel that Republicans voted to gut. Donald Trump didn't necessarily say it was a bad decision to change the panel but he didn't like the timing, he doesn't like it. He says, why did we have to do this now? Seems like a layup for Donald Trump to do this? What do you make of this split?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, first off, he's saying, is this the first thing you really want to do? Probably not the best optics. And a lot of people are only going to read the panel instead of seeing what this panel has not accomplished. It's been used to politically go after people and even their staff members as a personal vendetta back and forth between some people in Congress. That's one reason we saw this happen.

The issue is the optics. The average person sees a headline that you'll not have ethics or as much ethical standards in Congress. They're not going to like that.

So, Donald Trump was saying, look, the inner workings of this may make sense for this to happen. It doesn't look good on day one of Congress. They probably should have waited on this. And I agree with Donald Trump on this one. They probably should have waited because it's a hard sell when people don't pay attention to the actual facts of what goes on with these ethics investigations.

BOLDUAN: Angela, I'm sure you have a difference opinion on what the facts are.

[11:44:57] ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There have been -- there's been a bipartisan plea for the office of government ethics to work, to function. There is a committee on ethics and that is the challenge there is folks have always said that members shouldn't be responsible for investigating each other. And it doesn't have as much strength as this independent ethics committee.

The challenge is, over time -- Ben is absolutely right -- there have been personal vendettas. I know for a fact, having worked for the Congressional Black Caucus, where members of the CBC were targeted. There are some frustrations there.

The interesting thing is, for Donald Trump to have any pushback to anything relative to ethics, he has yet to release his tax returns he's got his own hands tied in all types of conflicts of interest issues that far exceed what people were screaming about on the Clinton side. So, I think it's not just about optics. It's about what he's really going to stand for. If your messaging throughout the campaign was drain the swamp, then says later he didn't really want to drain the swamp and maybe he's going to play in the swamp. I think the challenge is not just optics. It's what you actually stand for. We know there's ethics issues in politics, period.

But the reality is, again, talk about repeal and replace Obamacare, maybe the issue isn't to repeal and replace the Office of Congressional Ethics but to ensure it actually functions and there aren't ways for people to have personal vendettas and pursue those concerns or ethics charges that way. The issue here is the matter in which they engage. That is the real problem. It doesn't mean you completely dismantle the thing.

BERMAN: Manu, last question, is this a done deal at this point now that Trump has created this criticism? Congress gavels in, in like 20 minutes here. Might it change?

RAJU: I don't think it's going to change, John and Kate. This is going to move forward this afternoon. Kevin McCarthy just announced this package will be voted on this afternoon without any changes, even though he opposes, Paul Ryan opposes it. They align themselves with Donald Trump. But it's part of a larger rules package and they can only adopt it at the beginning of the new Congress. That's why it's happening now, even though a lot of members I spoke to are very concerned about it. One member told me he thought it was a stupid idea, and that was a Republican that said that.

BOLDUAN: Doug, other big news we heard this hour, Ford canceling plans for a plant in Mexico. 700 jobs are going to be added in Michigan. Ford, in an exclusive interview, speaking to Poppy Harlow, spoke with the V.P.-elect and the president-elect. Though was not a deal struck through the president-elect. But you've not been a fan of the president-elect. Do you think he deserves credit?

HEYE: I do. I hate to sound like Amy Klobuchar, believe it or not. I think he deserves credit on this. I'm a little troubled that companies are looking at what the president-elect or the president of the United States says when they're making their business decisions. But that's where he plays a role. That's why his tweet about congressional ethics is right. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have a bold agenda they want to push through, on Obamacare, on tax reform. Let's stay out of our own way and get done the things we want to get done that we've told the American people we'll do so we don't have problems we see right now, we're not talking about the big-ticket items that Americans care about.

BERMAN: Angela Rye, I saw Danny Dengel, the Democrat from Michigan, praising this move from Ford. Do you see this as a positive move?

RYE: Any time you keep jobs here in America, it's a positive thing. The economy was, it's not a number one issue at times, a number two issue. It's always a major issue whether you are from the rural parts of this country or in an urban area. Anything that can be done to keep jobs here is great. I'm eager to see what the details are, and why Donald Trump would take credit for this and how, but we'll see.

BOLDUAN: We will see. We're always looking for more details. More details than less.

Thanks, guys. Great to see you. A lot happening this hour. Thanks for joining us.

Including this, any moment -- live pictures of Capitol Hill.

BERMAN: The capitol is not moving.


BERMAN: Live, still pictures.

BOLDUAN: It's a live, still picture of the capitol. It's nice to see the construction down finally, if you look at Capitol Hill. Is that a live picture?

BERMAN: It's a live picture of Capitol Hill.

BOLDUAN: Republican-controlled Congress will take the reins on Capitol Hill. Are they all on the same page, as we've been discussing with this segment, on the conservative agenda? More on that ahead.

[11:49:26] BERMAN: Plus, some pictures to see. Watch this. A dresser falls on a 2-year-old boy. Oh! That's the bad part. The miraculous part, we'll show you coming up.


BERMAN: A very close call and an incredible rescue caught on camera. 2-year-old twins Brody and Brock Shaw (ph) were playing in their Utah home Friday when the dresser they were climbing on --

BOLDUAN: Oh, my god. Every time.

BERMAN: -- oh! -- topples over pinning Brock underneath it for nearly two minutes. Until this. His brother successfully tried to lift the dresser. He pushed it up just enough, just enough, for Brock to wiggle out.

BOLDUAN: I can't even watch it every time it is played. The wonderful news here -- and this is why we want to talk about it -- is neither of the boys were hurt. I know, it's amazing to even think that that's possible. The dresser is now secured to the wall. The parents actually said that they were very hesitant to post this video because of facing ridicule, but they wanted to highlight that very fact. It doesn't matter the size of any furniture. When are you in a house with toddlers, it's so important to secure it to the wall because they have miracle strength. They can pull anything off the wall.

BERMAN: I'm laughing because, you know, I have twins, and just as likely they are to save one another if something goes wrong, in my house one would have pushed the book case onto the other. That would have happened first before the saving.

BOLDUAN: I don't have a second child, god willing, maybe someday, to worry about this.

BERMAN: Do you want one after seeing this?

BOLDUAN: Exactly. But I will tell you, seeing that now, I feel better than ever that I was the very paranoid parent to make sure everything was secured to the wall. Thankfully, the boys were OK.

BERMAN: Paranoid.


Any moment now, we'll have live pictures from Capitol Hill.

BOLDUAN: Still live. Still live.

[11:54:18] BERMAN: Any moment, we'll be allowed inside to see actual humans and actual movement, the actual gavel kicking off the 115th Congress. This kicks off a big new era in Washington. The Republicans, within 17 days, they will control Congress, control the White House. What will they do and what will they do first? So much at stake. The swearing in is next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King.

A very big day in the nation's capital and a very busy hour ahead. The new Republican-controlled Congress, just moments away from opening for business. We will take you there live as both the House and the Senate gavel in the 115th Congress. The 114th just ended. We'll take you there live for all the key moments.

Republican control Congress, of course, is not new. The GOP has had majorities of the House and Senate the past two years, but the energy among congressional Republicans is new. They believe they're just 17 days away now from having an administration that will embrace most of the policy ideas the Obama White House refused to even consider the past eight years. Things like repealing the president's signature health care law, cutting taxes, repealing regulations on banks and energy companies.

But don't think for a minute this is all going to be easy between the GOP Congress and the new Republican White House. A short time ago, for example, the president-elect, Donald Trump, tweeted his displeasure with the House Republican plan to gut an agency that polices congressional ethics. Just one of many interesting twists to discuss on this dramatic first day for the 115th Congress.

With us to navigate the big developments in the hour ahead, chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; on Capitol Hill, CNN's Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly. Here in studio, Julie Pace of the Associated Press, Reid Wilson, of "the Hill," CNN's Jeff Zeleny; and Mary Katharine Ham of "The Federalist."

We'll take you in and out of a lot of live events. It's going to be fun and interesting. Not always pretty.

Let's start with the President-elect Donald Trump as we prepare in the noon hour. They will gavel the new Congress into session. We'll stop ourselves to take you there.

But as we prepare for this, Dana Bash, I want to start with you.

Donald Trump during the campaign said he was going to drain the swamp. This, for Congress is supposed to be a day of celebration, a day of ceremony. Instead, the president-elect tweeting his displeasure with something House Republicans did yesterday, to essentially pull the teeth out of an agency that polices congressional ethics. President- elect Trump tweeting, "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the independent ethics watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number-one act, their priority? Focus on tax reform, health care, and so many other things of far greater importance, #DTS," drain the swamp.

What the House Republicans were proposing yesterday, Dana, was essentially not to drain the swamp --