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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sources: Shooting Suspect Heard Voices Telling Him to Join ISIS; Five Dead, Eight Hurt After Gunman Opens Fire In Florida Airport; Officials: Suspect May Have Been in Altercation During Flight; FBI Interviews Aunt of FL Airport Shooing Suspect; Airports Across U.S. Ramp Up Security After Deadly Attack; Intel Report: Putin Ordered Campaign to Influence Election; Intel Report: Putin Ordered Campaign to Influence Election; Michelle Obama in Final Speech: "I Hope I've Made You Proud". Aired: 7:00-8p ET
Aired January 6, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, OutFront breaking news, an airport attack. We are learning tonight that the suspect in the deadly shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport had been known to the FBI. Investigators have not officially named the gunman but sources tell CNN he is now being identified as Esteban Santiago. He is accused of killing five people, injuring eight others at least as he opened fire in a crowded baggage area at the airport as people getting their bags.
The gunfire of course sparking panic, hundreds spilling onto the tarmac fearing for their lives. Law enforcement officials telling CNN that Santiago showed up several months ago at an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska. At that time, he told agents he went to the FBI agent -- office, he told the agents he was hearing voices in his head telling him to join ISIS. President Obama though tonight did not call the shooting an act of terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to comment on it other than just to say how broken we are for the families who have been affected. These kinds of tragedies have happened too often during the eight years that I've been president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And the FBI at this hour is interviewing the aunt of the alleged attacker at her home in New Jersey. We begin our coverage tonight of this breaking story with Boris Sanchez. He is at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. And Boris, Santiago is now in police custody. This did not end in a shoot-out. He is alive. What more can you tell us about what led to this attack?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we're hearing reports from passengers that were on board in his flight that there some kind of altercation and there may have been an altercation with him on board. Right now here at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, we're starting to see the lift of the lockdown. A couple of civilians cars have been allow to pass through, before that it was only law enforcement. And if you look over my left, there's a large group of law enforcement officers over there slowly escorting passengers out of the terminal where all of this happened. We asked to one of them if he would speak with us, he told us he just wanted to go home.
Understandably, he didn't he didn't want to talk to us in light of a day that he will not likely soon forget. Just before 1:00 P.M., a gunman opens fire at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Chaos inside terminal two, at least 13 people shot with multiple casualties. This cell phone video shows people lying on the floor in the baggage claim area. The panic inside the terminal spills outside as hundreds run from the gunshots, flooding onto the tarmac and out onto the runways. The injured quickly evacuated to a nearby hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody started running out of terminal one, out of the rental car place. Some lady was yelling for help. Got in the garage, so I just ran.
BORIS: CNN has learned the suspected shooter left Alaska earlier today bound for Fort Lauderdale. He declared a firearm when boarding, that weapon packed inside his luggage. Sources say the suspect may have gotten into an altercation during the flight. And on arrival after retrieving his bag one source tells CNN he went into a bathroom and came out firing. Long after the shooting, hundreds continued to run through open areas around the airport. Some driven by false reports of additional shootings.
SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: This shooter in custody, he's unharmed. No law enforcement fired any shots. The subject is being interviewed by a team of FBI agents and Broward Sheriff's homicide detectives. At this point it looks like he acted alone.
BORIS: Multiple sources identifying the shooter as Esteban Santiago, he said who have been a member of the Alaska National Guard leaving the guard last July. And we're learning more about his military record, it turns out he served in the National Guard in Puerto Rico, Missouri, and Alaska as well. We're also learning, Erin that he served overseas in Iraq for a little over a year.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Boris. I want to go now straight to Evan Perez OutFront in Washington. I mean, Evan, pretty stunning the news you broke that the gunman spoke to the FBI, went in their offices a couple months ago and told them that he talked to them about ISIS.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. The picture that we're - that's beginning to emerge is of a man who is struggling with mental health issues and that is what happened a couple months ago when he showed up at the Anchorage, Alaska, FBI office and said that he was hearing voices. He said that the voices were saying including that he should join ISIS. Now, it appears that he had -- these voices and his complains and his -- and what he was talking had aroused some concern among some people who are around him, and so when he went to the FBI Office, the FBI called the local authorities and they took him to a local hospital where he checked himself in for a mental health evaluation.
Now, there is -- where we don't know what happens next. We don't know how long he was there, we don't know the result of all that -- the mental health checks that happened but we do know that that's really the only significant interaction that law enforcement had with this suspect. He didn't have much of an arrest record over the last few years and so the next thing we know is he shows up on this flight in Fort Lauderdale as Boris just mentioned. There was some reports from some of the witnesses who had been interviewed by the FBI and by the Broward Sheriff's Office down there in Fort Lauderdale that there might have been some kind of altercation. But apart from that, nothing that really explains the motivation.
At this point he did not show up on any kind of radar for the FBI as someone who might have been extremist or radicalized but really it does raise some very important questions, right? If this is a man who had sought mental health help in Alaska, what kind of process is there for that information to be shared perhaps to prevent him from getting on an aircraft with a check luggage with his -- with his gun checked in luggage and then carry out this attack in Fort Lauderdale?
BURNETT: All right, Evan. Thank you very much. And pretty stunning, he did go himself to the FBI and say he was hearing voices telling him to join ISIS. OutFront now, the Florida Governor Rick Scott. And Governor Scott, thank you for being with me. I am sorry it is under horrible circumstances again. I know you just had a chance to speak President Obama about this attack. What did he tell you?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: He reached out just a few minutes ago and he said, you know, his prayers are with the families, and also offered whatever resources that we might need. I heard from President-elect Trump this afternoon and Vice President Mike Pence this afternoon about this. I say this is disgusting, it's evil. Nobody in our state is going to tolerate this. We'll do everything we can to hold whoever is accountable for this to the full extent of the law. There's an ongoing investigation.
I just left the airport. I've been briefed this afternoon about what was -- what was happening. And there's a lot of unanswered questions. And -- but we're going to hold people accountable. My focus is, you know, to keep everybody safe in my state. We are doing everything we can, I reached out to our national guard to make sure they're ready. And all the airports in our state, sheriff's offices, we are helping displaced passengers. We have the website, floridadisaster/info for any displaced passengers to help them.
BURNETT: And you are talking to investigators as you just said. What are you learning about a motive? I don't know if just our Evan Perez but he said this man had gone into FBI offices under his own auspices in Alaska said he was hearing voices telling him to join ISI. What are you learning tonight about a motive?
SCOTT: Well, Erin, there's a lot of unanswered questions. There's, you know, there -- we're still learning a lot about the shooter. So, there's still a lot of enforcement, the law enforcement will be putting out more information as they have it. It's disgusting. It's evil. We're not going to tolerate it. I know they're working very hard. The local state and federal law enforcement is working well together. No difference than what happened after pulse. This is law enforcement wants to do everything they can to keep people safe.
BURNETT: And President Obama did not say this was an act of terror when asked. Do you think it was?
SCOT: There are so, you know, Erin, there's so many unanswered questions. We know -- what we do know is it's absolute evil. I mean, it's absolutely evil. Let me think about these in --innocent individuals, some children are still -- hopefully they will -- they will survive. We have individuals in the hospital. I hope all those survive but, you know, its absolute evil. Five people just lost their lives defensively.
BURNETT: All right. Governor Scott, thank you very much.
SCOTT: All right. Thank you.
BURNETT: OutFront now, Chris Swecker, the former assistant FBI, director for the criminal investigative division, Art Roderick, former U.S. Marshall and retired U.S. Army Major General Spider Marks. General Marks, what we're learning tonight, the -- when the shooter was being interviewed by the FBI, again, he went in under his own direction, nobody forced him to, he said he was hearing voices in his head, some telling him to join ISIS. They let local authorities know. He went into a mental hospital but he's not on the government radar for terrorism. Allowed to fly, take a gun on a plane. How did that happen?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, (RET) U.S. ARMY RETIRED: Well, first of all the connection also is to his time as a national guardsman. At least we understand his time as national guardsman. Did any of this occur when he was in status as a reservist -- I'm sorry, as a guardsman and what did he notify his Chain of Command, were they involved in some way, was there some referral that might have been helpful as well.
But I think the key thing is when somebody self-refers, in other words, somebody raises hand and says, look, I've got an issue and then you go into either law enforcement office or you go into a medical institution, whether it's mental or whether it's a physical medical type of a challenge, their --
BURNETT: They take it less seriously? I mean, in a sense?
MARK: Well, no, no, no. My point is that there's nothing that can be done legally. We are wrapped in so many legal -- literal legal restrictions that would prohibit very decisive actions. Where common sense approach might be -- we need to put this person over to the side and we might do some form of evaluation, but you can't do that. You are legally prohibited from doing that.
BURNETT: Chris, he shot 13 people. He got off a plane, he went -- he got his bag, he went in the bathroom, he got the gun out, he went and shot 13 people. We understand that there may have been a disagreement on the plane. But what he did, getting that bag, going in bathroom, coming out, 13 people, could this be premeditated?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Very much so. You know, it depends on whether he was -- he said that legal definition of insanity, I mean, that's out there right now, but when you talk about premeditated murder, you can -- you can take 60 seconds, you can take 10 seconds to premeditate a murder. In this case, he flew, he arranged his own flight, something may have happened on the flight, and as you say he went through a lot of deliberate action and then came out shooting. So, it does sound like I that -- if that -- if that is true, it does sounds like he came out and targeted at least one or two individuals coming out of the bathroom.
BURNETT: Bart, what does it say to you about a motive?
ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS: Well, it says to me, I think when you boil this down just purely from a law enforcement perspective, you got an individual here that's got mental health issues. And Erin, how many times have we talked about mental health issues when it comes to active shooter incidents. It's almost every single time. Even when we talk about terrorist attacks, they're not mutually exclusive.
You know, there's a mental health issue in this -- in this country that has got to be addressed and the general is correct, there are so many protections, so many protections for somebody to raise the level high enough to reach the point where they can't carry a gun and they can't fly. It's a very high standard.
BURNETT: And Chris, you know, before we go, what do you make of this crucial fact? He gave himself up to police. This didn't end in a shootout. He is alive. They are questioning him right now.
RODERICK: Yes. That's not sort of a jihadist-type act. I mean, this will to survive, and he's not spouting jihadist ideology. I think that his reference to ISIS is when he went into the FBI in this case, it's just going to be sort of tangential. It's -- and I don't think it's going to be a central theme to this. I think as Art points out, I think mental illness is the central theme to this incident and we've seen these before. Columbine, Aurora, Colorado, the list goes on and on and on.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. And next, next, we're going to go live to New Jersey that is where FBI agents are questioning the suspect's aunt at this hour. Plus more breaking news, a U.S. Intelligence report says Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton, to disparage her, and help Donald Trump. Is it an act of war? And first lady Michelle Obama's emotional farewell speech today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life. And I hope I've made you proud. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news, we have new details about the man police say shot -- is engaged in that shooting rampage at Fort Lauderdale Airport at this hour. Five dead, eight wounded. Sources telling CNN the suspect is Esteban Santiago, a former member of the Alaska Army National Guard. Just moments ago the FBI interviewing his aunt in new jersey searching for clues and answers, trying to understand what the motive might have been. Deborah Feyerick is OutFront Union City. And Deborah, what are they learning right now? What do you know from Santiago's aunt?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, who knows that they were here for about 45 minutes, they were questioning the aunt who lives in the home just behind me there, you can see some little light, she lives in the house next door. And there are about eight agents and police officers who were here speaking to the family. They're trying to get as much information as they can to try to get an understanding as to why this happened. Well, we do know is that the shooter was born here in New Jersey, he moved to Puerto Rico, and it was there that he joined the National Guard and was deployed in 2010 to Iraq. Now, his aunt tells reporters that when he returned after about a year or two-year long stint over in Iraq, he was acting strangely. He did however seem happy about a year ago with the birth of a child and the aunt was completely dumbfounded as to why this happened telling reporters she didn't know why it had happened.
What we do know is that he was in Fairbanks, Alaska prior to his discharge in August of this year. He was discharged for unsatisfactory performance. We're now learning that in fact he did make the radar of law enforcement officials there in Alaska when he basically approached them saying that he was hearing voices and that's when he voluntarily checked himself in for a psychiatric evaluation. Again, we don't know what he was doing going to Fort Lauderdale but again, this is taking the family very much by surprise, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Deborah. Thank you very much. And of course, shocking when you hear the news there being a new child in this too. This comes as airports across the nation are now trying to increase their security following this horrific shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Rene Marsh is OutFront. I mean, Rene, obviously we saw a horrific attack that was terrorism in Turkey. We're now seeing this here at Fort Lauderdale with this shooter. How concerned are authorities now? I mean, He was able to get a gun off the baggage claim and just shoot people.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: They're very concerned. You know, I spoke with two police chiefs, airport police chiefs today and they say although they trained for this sort of active shooter scenario, their hearts just simply dropped when they saw the event unfolding in Fort Lauderdale because the bottom line is this can happen anywhere. It can happen at any airport across the country. All airports across the nation have this so-called soft target area, the area of the airport before you get to the TSA security checkpoint that is vulnerable. And any law enforcement official, any law enforcement expert will tell
you it is virtually impossible to get the vulnerability down to zero. So, when you see the situation like we saw in Fort Lauderdale, it really does send chills up and down the spine of law enforcement charged with protecting airports across the country. In that spirit, we have heard from several major airports from L.A. to airports right there in New York City who have told CNN that they have stepped up their law enforcement presence in that soft area of the airport directly as a result of what happened in Fort Lauderdale, Erin.
BURNETT: And Rene, you know, people are saying that he had the gun in his checked baggage, right? He declared it. He went -- he went to the bathroom, he pulled it out and he came back out. I mean, people are just allowed to do that and are you allowed to do it even if you're flying into a state that doesn't allow you to carry a gun?
MARSH: You know, he did everything right. At this point based on the all information we had, he did everything legally. You are, indeed, allowed to carry a firearm as well as ammunition in your checked luggage. You cannot obviously take it on board in your carry-on luggage, but you can take it in your checked luggage. It has to be unloaded. The firearm cannot have ammo in it. It has to be stored in a hard side case. So there are strict guidelines for how to carry a firearm in checked luggage. You also have to declare it. But as you saw, there's nothing stopping an individual from retrieving that gun and opening fire in that soft target area of the airport, Erin.
BURNETT: Just pretty stunning in any place, including states where you would expect no such thing because it would be against the law. Thank you, Rene. So let's go now to our counter-terrorism analyst Phil Mudd, former Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo and Art Roderick joins me back as well. Mary, it is pretty stunning. He did everything legally. It is legal wherever you're flying to declare your gun, put it in a hard case, carry your ammo, check it, and you're good.
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Right. I think the only glitch here, the only people that didn't follow the rules might have been Alaska airlines if that was the airline, and their regulations on-site state that you have to get your bag with the gun in it by presenting your ID at the bag claim office. Could that have made a difference had they proceed in this way? Would the felon have had time to calm down or, you know, some other method? But that's the only thing I see here where the rules were not followed the way that the bag was claimed and the ID or the bag claim check was not presented at the bag claim office.
BURNETT: So when these horrible things happen, we so often look at the details and say how could the rules be this way? And here we are again, do you think that that is an outrage that's fair to have? How could the rules be this way and why is the security zone in airports not wider?
SCHIAVO: Well, that's right. And here are the --
MUDD: I don't think that's an answer -- BURNETT: Sorry. Go ahead, Phil.
MUDD: I don't think we're going to have answers here that are -- that are pleasing to us at all. I think we're going to walk away in the coming days and say there's not very much we can do. Let's look at the airport itself. We are looking at this incident in isolation. I'd encourage you before we go down this road of saying let's secure baggage areas to understand the targets we've witnessed just in the past five years. Museums, beach resorts, open air markets in Germany last month, synagogues, churches, schools.
At some point you have to step back and say in an open society this is going to happen if you allow people to carry a weapon onto -- not onto an aircraft but in a baggage compartment of an airplane and it's going to happen in museums and it's going to happen in shopping malls. We can't look at this in isolation, Erin.
BURNETT: Which is a very fair point, and yet, Bart, this is something that had happened. It was a terror attack in the case of Turkey. We don't know the motive yet here, you know, where they rushed in, again, into the unsecured areas of the airport, the arrivals and departures. It did not appear that there were any security measures long terms that were taken in this country. It was obviously very easy for him to do this.
RODERICK: I mean, Erin, you can only push out the security so far and break one foot beyond that security is going to be a soft area. So it's very difficult to determine where you actually stop security or where you begin security. I think another key point here that I saw after watching this all unfold today is why did they keep the airport open? I know this happened at a terminal, but then they kept the other terminals open and people are on Snapchat, they were on Twitter talking about what they just saw, and I think that caused a lot of this false positive reporting that occurred at the other terminal causing everybody to start running. Which (INAUDIBLE)
BURNETT: And then they thought there was other shooting.
RODERICK: -- active crime scene.
RODERICK: Exactly. So, I think -- I think law enforcement has to sit back and look at venues that have thousands of people in them and determine, hey, we should shut this whole venue down. Now, I know that flies in the face of commercial airlines but the law enforcement response I think is the key issue here. And to pull people away on false positive reports from an active crime scene is really, you know, that's the detriment to law enforcement investigating this crime.
BURNETT: And so the bottom line here as we know that this individual had, you know, gone to the FBI and talked about how he heard voices including ISIS, you know, encouraging him to join is, he then went to a hospital voluntarily, got a mental health evaluation, is this going on the end up in your view being something that could have been stopped? I mean -- or do you think the FBI simply has so many people walking in saying these sorts of things that they can't be putting them on lists?
MUDD: Look, if you walk into the FBI and you have voices in your head, I don't care if you're talking about ISIS, I don't care if you're talking about Jesus Christ, I don't care if you're talking about a video you saw on the internet, that's information that suggests mental instability. That is not a crime. So, if I were at the FBI yesterday and tomorrow I would do the same thing. The person needs to be reviewed. If somebody's suggesting this is an FBI fault just because somebody who appears to be insane muttered the word ISIS, I'd say think again.
One quick point, Erin, when I was at the CIA people showed up at the front gate all the time saying they had stuff that we installed in their head. We're not going to investigate them. We're going to turn them away.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And next, the U.S. intelligence report just declassified out tonight saying Putin did it. He ordered the campaign to help Trump win the election.
The breaking details coming up. And an emotional Michelle Obama today saying goodbye. Her final big speech after eight years in the White House. Wait that you hear it.
BURNETT: And breaking news, the President-elect Donald Trump briefed tonight by the heads of the intelligence community about the role Russia played in the hacking of the U.S. Election. According to the newly declassified intelligence assessment, and I quote, "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. Presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her potential electability in potential presidency.
We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump." Jim Sciutto is OutFront. And Jim, there was no mincing words. This was a very clear conclusion.
JIM SCIUTOO, CNN CHIEF NATIOANL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. And imagine how difficult one for those top spies to deliver face-to- face to Donald Trump to say it is our judgment with confidence that Russia did this hacking to help you win the election. And it's interesting as well they saw that they Russians adjusting somewhat throughout because when Donald Trump's fortunes were falling they focused more on hurting Hillary Clinton,
[19:30:03] I'm going to quote from the report here, that "When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency." That, of course, as his fortunes picked up again, they focused on helping him win. But throughout, he was their favorite and Hillary Clinton was their target.
BURNETT: The report also cleared um another major controversy, right, which is who was targeted. Obviously we know Democrats were but also the report says Republicans, right?
SCIUTTO: Well, that's the thing, but they say these cyber operations targeted both parties, Republicans and Democrats. And yet, the Russians released strategically in the days and weeks leading up to the election on almost every day, they released only those documents affecting the Democrats. They were able to access both parties but in terms who have that they release to the public in an attempt to influence the election, that was focused purely on the Democratic Party.
And that runs counter, I should say, Erin, to a message you're hearing from a lot of Trump supporters today and even Trump himself. From the IC community's standpoint, they got into both parties and only used the material for one.
BURNETT: Right. Because Trump is coming out and saying the Republicans, whatever, anti-hacking was better. And they didn't get in there.
BURNETT: But they're saying they absolutely got in, but chose not to release.
All right. Jim, thank you very much.
And despite receiving the full briefing on the classified version of the report today, the President-elect Donald Trump is still not blaming Russia.
Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Tonight, after huddling with the nation's top intelligence officials, Donald Trump still isn't ready to point the finger at Russia for election-related cyber hacking. Hours after calling the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the election, a political witch hunt.
Trump was briefed by the heads of the FBI, CIA, and the director of national intelligence. Trump complimented intelligence officials after the meeting, calling it constructive, but he still refused to acknowledge their findings that Russia, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, ordered efforts to influence the U.S. election and that Putin aimed to discredit Hillary Clinton's campaign and improve Trump's odds of winning the election.
Instead, Trump insisted in a statement, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. This morning, Trump told "The New York Times", "The only reason Democrats care about the hacking is because they got beaten very badly in the election. They are very embarrassed about it." In the run-up to the briefing, Trump and his advisers bristled at the idea that the focus on Russia was anything more than a political attack.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: There are those trying to delegitimize his presidency, review the election results, and you know it.
MURRAY: But Trump insisted he will vigorously battle cyber hacking once in office. After his intelligence briefing, Trump saying, "We need to aggressively combat and stop cyber attacks. I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 09 days of taking office."
It's not just Trump's opponents in the Democratic Party that are raising the alarm about Russia's cyber hacking efforts. U.S. intelligence officials are expressing dismay and Republican leaders in Congress say there's little doubt about Russia's role in the cyber hacking.
Still, Trump was apparently more concerned Friday with NBC's cyber hacking coverage than with Russia's efforts to interfere in the U.S. election, tweeting, "I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top-secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it."
The president-elect hinting he may be more willing to trust his own officials once he takes office. Members of Trump's incoming team, including his pick for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and his choice to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, accompanied him for today's briefing. Trump telling "The New York Times," "We have great people going into those slots. I expect to have a very, very good relationship with them."
MURRAY: Now, in speaking with advisers and speaking with people familiar with Donald Trump's thinking, they say that privately, he doesn't dispute the notion that cyber hacking occurred but what he does dispute, what he does take offense to is any kind of suggestion that Russia was out to help him or that they could be in any way responsible for his victory.
I talked to one person who said there's basically nothing that intelligence officials could have said to Donald Trump today to convince him otherwise -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you.
And OUTFRONT now, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, also a retired FBI special agent, and Jeremy Bash, who served as chief of staff to the CIA director and chief of staff to the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Jeremy, let me start with you. Trump still not pointing the finger at Russia, right? He was briefed today. He saw the classified version of this report. Let me be clear -- it had a clear conclusion in both versions that Putin himself, quote, "ordered the Russian sanctions."
Why not? Why won't he say it was Putin?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO CIA DIRECTOR LEON PANETTA: Not only was it Putin, but it was designed to help Trump and undermine the Clinton campaign. And I think those are important.
But I've got to say, I think his tone is changing a little bit, because earlier in the week, he was basically saying, I trust Julian Assange of WikiLeaks more than I trust the officials at the CIA and NSA, who risk their lives to defend our country.
[19:35:16] He was saying he had secret information. There was no talk about that. I think statement today is actually in some ways conciliatory. Basically, he's saying, I get it, there was hacking, they tried to hit us and I'm not going to dispute that.
And there's no way he can dispute it because the evidence is unassailable.
BURNETT: Mike, what does his refusal to come out and say this directly say about Donald Trump? He didn't just come out and say, all right, I saw it, and here's the conclusion and I agree.
MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. Well, a couple of things. First of all, there is this political cloud around this that challenges his legitimacy as a president. And I think that all needs to go away. Candidly, that's not helpful to the nation. It's exactly what the Russians would like to have us be doing right now.
ROGERS: And so, I can understand where he was coming from when he says, hey, I was legitimately elected. I do believe he was legitimately elected. I think Americans should believe you as legitimately elected.
The Russians clearly had a hand in trying to disrupt, to cause some doubt in our election system. That is as serious as it gets, that we think that they have -- this is not the first time they've ever tried this. We watched them do it in Latin America. We've watched them do it in Eastern Europe. Now, they're doing it here and they have this new tool called cyber and social media that ramps up their game.
So, it shows I think the country how serious this issue is, but I think trying to conflate this into Donald Trump didn't win or won because of Vladimir Putin I think is absolutely wrong. The Democrats should stop saying it.
ROGERS: The president should stop saying it.
What we should say, we better look at Russian activities targeted against the United States, including their serious interest in trying to impact in any way the election of the United States.
BURNETT: So, Jeremy, I want to read again from the report because the motive here really matters and that is what had been lacking, at least in the discussions we had before, any formal assessment of the motive. So, here's what they say -- the goal was, quote, "to undermine public faith in the democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electable and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President- elect Trump."
Are you, Jeremy, surprised that the primary motive seemed to be to denigrate Secretary Clinton?
BASH: No. I think that's kind of common sense. I mean, throughout the campaign Trump was saying very pro-Russian things. He was talking about --
BURNETT: But that would be being pro-Trump. They're saying the motive was actually against her and developed a preference.
BASH: But the campaign was a choice between two choices, between Clinton and Trump. So, if you're anti-Clinton, you're going to be pro-Trump.
And, by the way, Hillary Clinton had a record of being tough on Putin and being tough on Russia. And so, it's not surprising.
But I want to also broaden this out of the context of the election because really what's important is not what happened. It's really what's going to happen. It's going to be very important for President Trump, the 45th president of the United States, to keep his eyes wide open and be clear eyed about the threat from Russia. Russia is not our friend.
And over the coming months and years, they're going to continue to try to hack our systems, penetrate our networks, influence our politics, confront us in Europe, in the Middle East, all over the world. And his team has to understand that. If we don't, if we let our guard down, we're going to be hurting our own national security.
BURNETT: So, Mike, you know, when Jeremy makes the point, Vladimir is not our friend, you know, President Obama spoke to George Stephanopoulos tonight. His way of saying it was Vladimir Putin is not on our team, and when he was asked specifically about the conclusion of the new report, here's how he answered the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the thing is am concerned about is the degree to which we've seen a lot of commentary lately where there are Republicans or pundits or cable commentators who seem to have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than fellow Americans because those fellow Americans are Democrats. That cannot be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Do you think Donald Trump has more confidence in Vladimir Putin than in Democrats in the United States?
ROGERS: I don't. I certainly hope that after -- that on January 21st, when they start taking the reins of power, remember, they're going to get the combination to every lock, they're going to get the keys to every cabinet in the intelligence community, I do think their team need to get a good assessment of Russian activities not just in this case but in all cases.
We have seen a ramp-up of Russian activities in recent years that is at a breathtaking pace where they've been very aggressive. You know, a few years ago, "The New York Times" reported they found what appeared to be Russian malware in our financial systems.
ROGERS: We've seen them targeting other places. We've watched their work overseas in Syria and what they're doing across Europe. It's really concerning.
And so, that's I think what Jeremy was talking about and I agree completely. They need to get a good handle on what Russian activities are targeted towards the United States and our allies in total so that we get a good handle on the notion that we better start pushing back on Russia.
And, by the way, if this is a silver lining in this, there's two things. One, finally, Americans I think are getting the hint, both Republicans and Democrats, are also getting the hint that this cyber hacking is a serious, serious issue and threatens the national security of the United States. And by the way, the Russians have never been our friends and will continue to be our adversaries.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
And next, one of Putin's bitter enemies is a close friend of Donald Trump. How does he feel about the Trump/Putin friendship? I'll ask him. He is the former president of Georgia.
And Michelle Obama, her voice breaking during her final good-bye from the White House today. You'll hear everything she said.
BURNETT: Back with our breaking news tonight: President-elect Donald Trump downplaying Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, despite a newly declassified intelligence report saying that Putin did just that.
OUTFRONT now, a bitter opponent of Vladimir Putin who has also done massive business with Donald Trump, Mikheil Saakashvili is the former president of Georgia and opposition leader in Ukraine.
[19:45:01] Good to have you with us here in New York.
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Thank you for inviting me.
BURNETT: So, you've seen the intelligence report.
BURNETT: You have experienced being hacked by Russia and Vladimir Putin. The report concludes, quote, "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered, their word, ordered these efforts to influence the U.S. election.
This is the Putin you know.
SAAKASHVILI: Well, certainly, he heavily influenced our elections in Georgia and he tried to influence Ukrainian elections. But you ask the leaders of both the countries, each of them would tell about Putin's intruding (ph) to their election process.
Back in 2012 -- first of all, in 2008, we were one of the first victims of their cyber attacks. They basically attacked all our computers in the Georgian government just before the military attack. So, cyber attack is part of general warfare, that's for sure.
And then they really have spread heavily fake news. In Georgia's case, they staged a video for which, you know, prison abuse, which was later found out was staged by people with clear ties with Russian intelligence, and it was -- but it spread like fire and had its impact at that moment, so it was well done.
And the other thing they would, they would intercept our telephone calls and then upload just before elections, at important moments, just before elections, just during some political crisis. They do it on Ukraine, they do it in Georgia.
So, that's their way and there is no doubt. I know Putin very well. I've seen this guy many times. I've spoken to him many times.
He always knows every detail of their intelligence operations. He actually boasts with it. It's not like he knows -- nobody would ever dare to challenge him in that way.
BURNETT: So, it's not just that he would have ordered it, he knew the details. He knew it was happening.
So, Donald Trump today, you know, refused to give that direct acknowledgement, that it was Vladimir Putin as opposed to China or someone else. Their statement was like, well, Russia and others engaged in cyber attacks.
You've been friends with Donald Trump for two decades. Why is it so hard for him to admit this?
SAAKASHVILI: Well, yes, I've been in the (INAUDIBLE) for a lot of several years. I've interacted with Donald Trump. Obviously, he's a very, very, you know, intelligent man. I can say he's always speaking out of the box. And his decisions have been everything but boring and standard. So, I think he will surprise lots of people still. That's my
conviction, knowing him.
And he came to us, you know, when -- he came Georgia and really came to a country which was attacked by the Russians. He clearly knew that I was the least favorite of President Putin, but it didn't stop him from coming, from praising me, from helping, from assisting us in supporting the investment projects. So, I didn't detect any particular weaknesses.
The problem here is what we have with Putin, you know, Putin thinks he's eternal. So, he lives for President Bush. And Bush (INAUDIBLE) was kind of reset. So, (INAUDIBLE) brought back all the parts of the administration, but it took some time. Bush was my good friend and also an intelligent man.
Then, President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton also started to reset.
So, Putin thinks that any new U.S. president will come in and he doesn't have to reach us. You know, here --
SAAKASHVILI: Think about it, Russia is a country with less than 3 percent of the world GDP. But because he thinks he can outlive us all or outlive them all, he thinks every new president comes in and readjusts (ph).
The problem here will be President Trump certainly will give benefit of doubt to Russia like every predecessor has done. It's very important that he -- Putin measures everybody from the point of view the carrot. From that point of view, and Putin likes to dominate and Putin likes to intimidate, especially during the beginning. My prediction is they will meet within a couple of months after --
BURNETT: Putin and Trump.
SAAKASHVILI: Yes, after the inauguration. I think that will be the moment because he always measures everybody's character. His first page, that's what he measures. I think from my experience with President-elect Trump, he'll be a very tough nut to crack for Putin. For these kind of reasons, because Putin doesn't like several people, he doesn't like some characters.
He likes people he can manipulate and intimidate.
SAAKASHVILI: The only thing that America cannot afford to show the Russians that America is weak, because the only thing Putin appreciates, everybody knows that, is sheer force.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Mikheil. I very much appreciate your time.
I just want to break in because the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is now speaking live about the shooting. I want to listen in.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: They're looking forward to get on with their lives. Again, we're going to hold people accountable but do everything we can to keep them safe.
[19:50:02] We also have a website, Floridadisaster.org/info for any of the passengers that were displaced to do everything we can to help them. This is a -- this is great state. We love all our tourists, people that live here and we're going to keep everybody safe.
I'm glad to answer any questions that anybody has.
REPORTER: Did you meet with any of the victims? The can you tell us how their spirits are?
SCOTT: Well, the first I did was really --
SCOTT: Say again? OK.
So, the first thing I did is make sure I thanked the people that took care of the patients. I did that. And I walked the hospital and thank them.
I talked to some patients and, you know, they're in there in good spirits. They, you know, this is this is a traumatic experience for them, but they feel blessed that they're in at this hospital.
REPORTER: Governor, you mentioned Pulse. This is your second, a recent mass shooting, debate about guns and all that stuff right now. What's your mind at right now?
SCOTT: Well, you know, look, this is not the time to talk about politics. But I'll tell you what we have to do. We have -- we have an ongoing investigation. We have to make sure we know exactly what happened. We have to hold people accountable.
We have to mourn for those who have lost their life. According to law enforcement, five people lost their lives. So, think about their -- those individuals and their families lives are changed forever. Also have to pray for all those that are still going through the surgeries or aren't you know having life-saving things, surgeries done to help them.
REPORTER: I'm sure you've been talking to the FBI. Do we have a motive or anything yet?
SCOTT: I've been talking to law enforcement, FDLE, FBI, local sheriff's department. I've been kept apprised all day. It's an ongoing investigation.
You know, I tell you what, everybody is working well together. I saw that after Pulse. State, local and federal law enforcement worked together. We're blessed in our state, we're at a 45-year low in our crime rate. But this investigation will take some time and, you know, I'm --
expectation all of us have is that as law enforcement puts out information, we'll find out why this happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll take one more question.
REPORTER: Governor, can you clarify the numbers, please, how many were seriously hurt?
SCOTT: According to law enforcement, five individuals lost their lives. Eight individuals were shot. That's what I've been told by law enforcement but just remember there's an ongoing investigation. They're doing everything they can to take care of everybody. You know, other individuals ended up coming to our hospitals to make sure they were -- if they had injuries, that they were taken care of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, we have one more question here with NBC.
REPORTER: Can you tell us more about your conversations with the president and the president-elect?
SCOTT: Sure. The president called me probably now 30 minutes ago. He, of course, said his prayers were with everybody that was impacted, said that anything we need to make sure I gave him a call.
I talked to President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence earlier this afternoon. They basically said the same thing, their prayers are with us, any resources they can help with. That was -- I was talking to them while the -- no one was exactly sure exactly what happened.
And so -- but they were -- appreciate that both President Obama and President-elect Trump called and Vice President-elect Pence called. And appreciate it when something like this happens, you know that you have the support of the federal government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.
SCOTT: Thanks, everybody.
BURNETT: All right. That was the governor of Florida speaking about the shooting in Ft. Lauderdale earlier today. As we get more on that, we'll bring it to you.
Also tonight, the first lady gave her final farewell. Michelle Obama choked up as she delivered her final official remarks as first lady. She touched on values of hard work and a good education today when she spoke.
Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT.
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: As I end my time in the White House, I can think of no better message to send to our young people. Something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our live, and that is the power of hope, the belief that something better is always possible if you're willing to work for it and fight for it.
It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a crowd of educators, advocates, school counselors, the first lady took this opportunity to speak to America's youth about America's values.
[19:55:05] She didn't miss the chance to once again hit out at the kind of rhetoric she has said defined the Trump campaign.
OBAMA: If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition. And whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, these religions are teaching our young people about justice and compassion and honesty. You see, our glorious diversity, our diversities of faiths, of colors, and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are. It makes us who we are.
KOSINSKI: Noting, too, that it comes with responsibility. Half of those young people she's speaking to didn't vote at all.
OBAMA: You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Empower yourselves with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear.
And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life. And I am so grateful to all of you for your passion and your dedication and all the hard work on behalf of our next generation, and I can think of no better way to end my time as first lady than celebrating with all of you.
So, I want to close today by simply saying thank you. Thank you for everything you to for our kids and for our country. Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I've made you proud.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KOSINSKI: Really got the sense this was tough for her to deliver. Her face was serious most of the time, not smiling. It seemed difficult to keep that emotion under control.
You know, just a few days ago we heard her deliver some surprising words in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. She said we're feeling what not having hope feels like. Well, today, the message was continued hope. Now, tonight, here at the White House, the Obamas are hosting a party,
a farewell party. It's expected to be celebrity studded, and this weekend, the president will work on his farewell speech and the White House says the goal there is for it to be optimistic and forward looking -- Erin.
BURNETT: Thank you, Michelle.
And we'll be right back.
BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere on CNN Go.
Anderson starts now.