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Trump, Pence to Meet with Intelligence Chiefs today; Trump to Meet with Magazine Editors; Will Taxpayers Foot Bill for Trump's Wall. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired January 6, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: If you need and ought a selfie, this is a great product for you, you can just walk around and you constantly have a camera on you at all times. It also shoots 4k video. This is incredible.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is so weird. It's like a weird kind of pet. OK. We'll expect to see that video because I'm sure it's fantastic. Andy Scholes reporting live for us this morning, thank you. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
And good morning, I'm Carol Costello, thank you so much for joining me. In just a couple of hours, Donald Trump will be face-to-face with intelligence chiefs he slammed for weeks. Trump and Vice President- elect Mike Pence will be briefed by the director of National Intelligence, the heads of the FBI, CIA, and NSA, on a new report detailing Russia's cyberattacks and meddling in the U.S. election, this, just one day after that new report detailing Russia's hacking, included intercepted conversations of Russian officials celebrating Trump's win, even congratulating each other.
Trump is also meeting today with magazine editors, including "Vogue" chief, Anna Wintour, a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser. Our great team here, covering the story, these stories from every angle. We begin though with CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll. He is outside of Trump Tower. Good morning, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, Carol. Let's begin with that meeting -- set to begin in just about 12:30 p.m. with all these intelligence officials that Donald Trump has basically been criticizing over the past few months, past few weeks. During that Congressional Hearing yesterday it became very, very evident that his continued questioning of the intelligence that is out there about the Russian cyberattacks has been hurting the Intelligence Community, undermining the community, hurting morale. That was made very clear during Congressional Hearings yesterday.
Having said that, Kellyanne Conway, early this morning on "New Day" speaking to our own Chris Cuomo, made it very clear in her eyes that the president-elect is not going easy on Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: He's not sheltering Russia, and don't you say that again. He's not sheltering Russia. --
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR "NEW DAY": How is he not?
CONWAY: What the heck has the current president done vis-a-vis Russia for the last eight years to make you proud? Name it. Tell me.
CUOMO: I don't understand how the legitimate answer to the question is to blame the current president.
CONWAY: I'm not blaming the current president. I'm asking you a question. All of a sudden, we're all frothing about Russia. I mean, what has he done? Do you think the President Obama's legacy vis-a-vis Russia is going to be one of a tough guy? -
CUOMO: Let's say it's terrible. Let's say the legacy with Obama and Russia is the worst, it couldn't be worst. How is President-elect Trump helping by ignoring Russia's role in the hacks during the election?
CONWAY: He's going to help because the Russians didn't want him elected. You know why? Because he has said very clearly, during the campaign and now as president-elect, that he is going to modernize our nuclear capability, that he is going to call for an increase in defense budget, if he's going to have oil and gas exploration, all of which goes against Russia's economic and military interests. He got elected. Donald Trump got elected in part because people want a tougher leader in the White House, -- a tougher commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Despite all the back and forth, Carol, 17 intelligence agencies have already come to the conclusion that Russia was indeed behind the cyberattacks and did try to affect the U.S. election. Trump for his part, tweeting on a number of issues this morning, including one of his biggest campaign promises, and that's to build the wall in the U.S./Mexico border. As you recall, he would chant over and over throughout the campaign that Mexico is going to pay for this wall.
But now, what we're hearing from GOP officials is that actually, -- that Trump is going to be asking for American taxpayers to foot the bill, at least at first, that according to Donald Trump. He tweeted about it this morning, just to clarify, saying the following. "The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!"
Trump's critics are already saying, what does later mean, does is mean that Mexico would pay it back in a year, two years? A number of his critics, Carol, as you can imagine, not confident that Mexico would end up paying the U.S. back for that wall. Trump, having a big day today, as you mentioned, not only will he be having that meeting on cyber security but he will also be meeting with editors at "Conde Nast." That should be taking place just about now. Carol?
COSTELLO: All right. Jason Carroll, reporting live from Trump Tower, thanks.
Today's briefing comes after that marathon hearing on Capitol Hill where intelligence chiefs defended their assessment of Russia's hacking. They also expressed concern about the president-elect's constant dismissal of U.S. intelligence. A sentiment echoed this morning by former CIA director Leon Panetta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I've been in public service for over 50 years. I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime. But the fact that the president-elect is tweeting on this issue
[10:05:00] and taking it to the public and in many ways, undermining the credibility of the very intelligence agencies that have to provide information to him, in order for him to be President of the United States, this is just unheard of and unprecedented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Phil Mattingly. He's live in Washington. Good morning, Phil.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. And Carol, look, as you know quite well, these first three days of the U.S. Congress coming in session, there aren't exactly reams of bipartisan areas where both sides seem to get along, except here, yesterday. In that hearing, you noted, 2 1/2 hours where not only were the intelligence chiefs clearly rejecting what the President-elect has questioned about their assessment on Russian's cyber activities, but you saw senators from both parties doing just that as well.
And also, what you saw, really, was senators and the intelligence officials laying the groundwork for that meeting today with the president-elect. Obviously, a closed-door meeting, transition officials saying that's starting at 12:30 p.m. And we're getting kind of a sense from Trump advisers what the president-elect will be looking for, what he'll be asking about as he heads into that meeting, as skeptical as he's been up to this point. Take a listen to future Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's a question that needs to get asked. The DNC is saying that the FBI never looked at their server. The FBI is saying that the DNC never gave them access to the server. The question is, regardless of who is right and who is wrong, if the server was never looked at, how do you, as in the Intelligence Community come to this conclusion? It's a fair question to ask. I think he's going to ask questions like that, not questioning the intelligence but questioning how the conclusions were arrived at. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And Carol, what you hear from Sean Spicer there is kind of -- the doubt that has been sewn by the president-elect, by his team into what has, as Jason laid out, then more or less a unanimous assessment of these findings. And I think the interesting element here is this. When you talk to Trump transition officials, they say the biggest frustration of the president-elect is the continued questioning of the legitimacy of his election. You hear that from Democrats. Where you don't hear that from is from intelligence officials. James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, saying repeatedly yesterday during that hearing, this didn't change votes. They don't have any indication whatsoever that it may have.
But you saw again last night from the president-elect tweeting out, as leaks were coming out about this final report that would be presented to the president-elect or to President Obama, that he has questions whether the Intelligence Community is being political, whether that's why these leaks are happening. That's what's surrounding this meeting today in just a couple of hours with the Intelligence Community. Carol?
COSTELLO: Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Phil Mattingly, reporting live from Washington. Thank you so much.
So let's talk about this. I want to bring in my panel now. Malcolm Nance is a former U.S. intelligence officer and the author of a new book "The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election," along with David Brody, CNN's global affairs analyst and a national security investigations editor at "Reuters." Welcome to both of you. So, while Phil is describing what Sean Spicer said about the DNC server. I mean, DNC didn't turn the server or the computers over to the FBI, so the FBI could investigate the computers. A third party did, and you're both saying, oh, come on, that's a deflection. So, why do you say that, Malcolm?
MALCOLM NANCE, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT, FORMER U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER AND AUTHOR "THE PLOT TO HACK AMERICA": Well, that's -- but the intelligence collections systems that the United States government uses are strategic assets or they are human intelligence assets which are oriented at our enemies, at our opposition. We collect against our targets. We don't care whether the DNC server was turned over to the FBI because the intelligence we're going to get is going to be from the actual systems that penetrated the DNC system.
So, you know, we know that -- FSB, former Russian intelligence, which is the old KGB, and Russian GRU military intelligence hackers are going into a United States entity, we're going to focus on those hackers.
COSTELLO: So, that's standard operating procedure.
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST AND NATIONAL SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS EDITOR "REUTERS": Yes. And you know a colleague of mine in "Reuters" that has story on this. Nine out of ten times the FBI doesn't actually have to look at the server. This is normal. So, it's really deflection and spin. You know, it's not unusual that they didn't look at it.
COSTELLO: So, why do you think they're still spinning before this intelligence briefing? Why not just stop, listen, and then talk?
NANCE: You know I have a lot of -- a lot of people in the Intelligence Community who come to me every day. And, you know, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul made a very good statement a few weeks ago, where he said this has now moved from the ludicrous to the suspicious. That all of these denials are starting to appear be more of a cover-up. I think this has gone from silly to serious, serious to suspicious, suspicious next -- the only thing left.
COSTELLO: Suspicious in what way?
NANCE: Suspicious in the sense that their absolute vehement denials. That they have - that this has anything to do with Russia, they defend Russia. As Tim Kaine said yesterday, that he is acting as the defense lawyer for Russian intelligence and a former director of the KGB, is absolutely amazing. And anyone else in my community, who would ever speak like this, there would be a counterintelligence investigation going on that would be ripping their lives apart.
[10:10:03] COSTELLO: So - but you heard what Kellyanne Conway said, David, she said Russia is actually more afraid of Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump is muscular when it comes to National Defense. He wants to, like you know, make America's nuclear arsenal better, right? And he wants -- I don't understand what she meant about the oil field, -- because didn't Exxon want to drill oil in Russia and that would benefit in America -- but anyway, what do you think about that, is that possible?
ROHDE: The only evidence -- the most evidence we have are these tweets. And there's been a clear pattern that he's tweeted very negatively and aggressively towards China and he has, you know, said much more positive - in a much more positive tone in his tweets towards Russia. And to be fair to Trump, what matters is what he does after January 20th. And the key question is these new sanctions, and the previously existing sanctions that Obama put in regarding Crimea.
If he loosens those sanctions or weakness them in anyway, then you'll have a lot of questions asked about what he's done. This could be -- you know, I'm trying to be fair. People say the president-elect is thin-skinned. He feels the intelligence reports are questioning the legitimacy of his election win. Maybe that's just it. Or is he, you know, very sympathetic towards Russia and he'll actually reduce these sanctions. Let's see what he does.
COSTELLO: I think that the American people right now are just confused because you know the latest bit of information to come out of these intelligence briefings is that Russian officials were captured celebrating and congratulating themselves on Trump's win, which could mean nothing at all.
NANCE: Well, I certainly wouldn't want to discuss anything related to special intelligence. But with regards to Russia's beliefs, we have seen throughout the course of this election that Donald Trump's adamant support for Russia and supposedly wanting to reset the relationship with Russia. There is nothing wrong with that for a president or prospective President of the United States to want to help U.S./Russian relations.
It's the methodologies that Russia used to influence this election and Trump's approval of it. And I think he went from, you know, what Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA said, an unwitting asset. He went witting on July 27th when he said, Russia, if you're listening, release Hillary Clinton's hacked e-mails. He knew at that point that Russia was working in his favor to get him elected.
COSTELLO: You don't think that was just a joke? Because that's what he said it was.
NANCE: You know, within four weeks, the CIA came to the conclusion that Russia was doing this. This would have taken a very large, what we would call an information warfare management cell by Russian intelligence to get all of that stolen information out, turned over to "WikiLeaks." And it was released in great precision in time to support Donald Trump. The U.S. Intelligence came to that conclusion. The president warned Russia about any further interference. And now, the questions that are only left to be asked are, what did Donald Trump's campaign know, when did he know it, and was he cooperating or co-opted in any way to support this.
ROHDE: Yes. I mean, we've been looking at this for months. There have been rumors swirling since at least earlier in July. We have not been able to confirm that there was any secret channel between the Trump campaign, you know, and Russia. You know, we have to see what happens over time. You hope that intelligence, and frankly, law enforcement, the FBI, the Department of Justice, would be looking at anything like this. But to be fair to the Trump campaign, I don't know of any proof of any direct communication or any sort of coordination with Moscow.
COSTELLO: Maybe we'll know more after all of these intelligence briefings. Unfortunately, I have to leave it there. But Malcolm, thank you very much, David, thank you very much for stopping by this morning.
Coming up in the NEWSROOM, "Build that wall," a familiar chant during Donald Trump rallies, his supporters may soon get their wish but they may also have to put up the money to make it happen.
[10:17:49] COSTELLO: Critics say Donald Trump is going back on a key campaign promise that pledged to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: I would build a great wall and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And I build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: But as it turns out, taxpayers, as in you, could ultimately foot the bill. Trump's transition team is hinting they'll ask Congress to pay for the wall or to find a way to pay for the wall with Mexico reimbursing the United States later, a plan that Trump actually first talked about late in the campaign in October. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Remember, I said Mexico is paying for the wall, with the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall, OK? We're going to have the wall. Mexico's going to pay for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK. So, let's talk about this. I'm joined now by CNN political commentator and assistant editor at "The Washington Post," David Swerdlick, and CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief at "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich. Welcome to both of you. So, David, in light of what Mr. Trump said back on October 22nd, should taxpayers be surprised that they will foot the bill for Mr. Trump's wall at least for now?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND ASSISTANT EDITOR "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. I don't think people should be too surprised, Carol. And I don't think that this is going to be the issue that sort of trips up President Trump, even though during the campaign he did backtrack and flip-flop on a variety of issues. When it came to building the wall and making Mexico pay for it, I don't think a lot of people actually took this -- at least this one particular campaign pledge that seriously.
What the voters who supported Donald Trump got and what they liked, in my view, is that he talked tough with Mexico. He was the guy who put his finger in Mexico's chest and said I'm going to build the wall and Mexico I'm going to make you pay for it. Whether or not now, we built it and then send them an invoice for it. Or whether or not we ultimately just wind up paying for it ourselves.
[10:20:01] I don't think this is what is going to ultimately trip up President-elect Trump. I think his bigger problem is this trend over the course of the transition where he's allowed some waffling on this issue, allowed himself to look soft on Russia and Putin, allowed himself to get some daylight between him and his Republican Congress on the Affordable Care Act, these little things are going to start adding up. We're not even to the inauguration yet and it's clear that he has sort of softened his stance on a variety of fronts.
COSTELLO: So Jackie, is David right, I mean, will taxpayers care that they may have to foot an $8 billion bill for this wall?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF "THE DAILY BEAST": I think spending, in general, is going to end up being his biggest problem because it's not just the wall. He's talking about a lot of money for infrastructure spending. He's talking about cutting taxes. He's talking about doing a range of things that isn't bringing in money.
So, -- if I know House Republicans, especially, they're going to want these things paid for, and how they do that is going to be an open question. And they really don't want to go back to the days of the last Republican majority where they increased the debt, spent a bunch of money, and then got booted out of office for a number of reasons. But also, because of how much they were spending. So, it really is -- I think the overall price tag is going to start weighing on him and being problematic.
COSTELLO: So, David, what if, because -- this is one of Mr. Trump's ideas, that he was going to impose a tariff on Mexico and that's how he was going to force Mexico to pay for the wall. Good idea?
SWERDLICK: Look, I don't think a trade war -- with Mexico or with China or any other country is really a good idea. He certainly -- that is his prerogative, if he can implement that and get the Republican Congress behind him. But I don't think most economists would describe that as a good idea. And I think there's a reason why free trade was supported by both Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic President Barack Obama. Big picture long term that was in the economic interests of the United States. I mean, Jackie is totally right that what this comes down to ultimately, whether you're talking about the tariff or the wall, is whether or not Republicans in Congress will challenge President-elect Trump or whether they'll go along.
COSTELLO: OK. So, let's talk about the physical wall, because if the United States builds a physical wall, the costs could balloon to what, $25 billion by some estimates, right? So, will the wall, Jackie, be more like a fence?
KUCINICH: That is an open question, Carol. But you know one of your guests earlier today made the point that a lot of people who come into this country and end up overstaying their visas come in via plane. So, it isn't really clear how much this will actually fix at the end of the day too. And that will certainly be part of the debate as well as what sort of form this wall actually manifests itself in.
COSTELLO: Yes, because you know visas are a problem too, people overstaying their visas, David. So, why not concentrate on that first instead of making the taxpayers you know foot a bill for $8 billion before you know, how you're going to pay for it, or how to reimburse them, I should say.
SWERDLICK: Right. Immigration, both legal and undocumented, is a big problem. Congress tried a couple of years ago to address it with a comprehensive immigration reform. It got through the Senate, did not go anywhere in the House. I think that build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, right, is a nice slogan or a catchy slogan in any case, but it doesn't address all those issues.
As you point out, visa overstays from countries where people do not cross a land frontier but come by air or by sea, or the fact that right now we have net negative migration coming from Mexico. We still have -- or from South and Central America. We still have a lot of undocumented immigrants in this country from all over the world, not just Mexico. But it's not necessarily that the wall is a cure-all for that problem.
COSTELLO: OK. I've got to leave it there. David Swerdlick, Jackie Kucinich, thanks to both of you.
Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Speaker Ryan vows to strip Planned Parenthood a federal funding. Now, he's promised to threaten his own party's plan to repeal Obamacare. Up next, the number two Democrat in the House weighs in.
[10:28:45] COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. In the last hour, North Carolina's governor declared a state of emergency. The Carolinas expected to get a hit especially hard by a snowstorm that's headed for the southeast. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the winter weather is already rolling in. Chad Myers, I suspect people are scared and miserable.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I just got a picture from my wife. She went to the grocery store because we're going to make a chili cook-off tonight at home and there's no celery left. How do you sell out of celery? I mean, you know, I understand you sell out of milk today --
COSTELLO: People are going to buy groceries.
MYERS: Yes, exactly. But the place is a desert. It looks like, you know, in the old Soviet Union when there was no food on the shelves. Anyway, yes, people are freaking out here across the south, Carol. As really, as expected, I guess. I mean, we expect this because if we're stuck in our houses for, you know, 12 hours, you're definitely going to need to have some extra food around.
There's some sleet coming in for Atlanta. There's sleet coming in for the Carolinas. But there is a lot of snow coming to the north of that sleet event, winter storm warnings all the way from Mississippi, almost all the way to Delaware. And those warnings include rain for the south part, sleet and freezing rain, a significant batch of maybe one inch deep sleet could be out there, that could be harder to drive on than snow. And then, north of that, that is where the snow is.
A lot of this storm is going to be rain. I mean, we're going to talk about 90 percent of all the precip that falls out is going to be liquid rain in the warm air. 33 and above.