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Intelligence Report Presented to Trump and Obama; Barack Obama's Farewell Address; U.S. Senators Question Attorney General Nominee; Trump's Pick for Homeland Security Chief Questioned; Trump Aide Accused of Plagiarizing Book, Articles. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 11, 2017 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:33] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us.

We begin with a story that we brought you first on CNN involving the next U.S. President Donald Trump. Here is Jake Tapper with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned that the nation's top intelligence officials presented information to President-Elect Donald Trump on Friday and President Barack Obama on Thursday about claims of Russian efforts to compromise President-Elect Trump.

The information was provided as part of last week's classified briefings, intelligence briefings regarding the Russian efforts to undermine and interfere in the 2016 elections.

I worked on the story with Jim Sciutto, with Evan Perez and with Carl Bernstein -- all of us have been working our sources for several days. They all join me now.

Let me start with my colleague now. Jim Sciutto -- walk us through the basic outline of what we have learned.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This was is a team reporting effort at CNN. And multiple officials with direct knowledge of those briefings tell CNN that classified documents on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election that were presented last week to President Obama and to President-Elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.

These allegations were part of a two-page synopsis based on memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative whose past work U.S. intelligence officials consider credible.

The FBI is now investigating the credibility and accuracy of those allegations which are based primarily on information from Russian sources. But the FBI has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump. The classified briefings last week, I remind you, were presented by four of the senior most U.S. intelligence chiefs -- director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI director James Comey, the CIA director John Brennan and NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers.

The two-page synopsis also included these allegations. That there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government -- this according to two national security officials.

CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump. We cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs as well.

I'll note the Trump transition team has not yet commented on this as have not the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jake, and the FBI.

TAPPER: That's right. For several hours now we told the Trump transition team about the story, and they said that they would have a statement for us. They have yet to provide it. When they do, we will provide it to you.

And just to underline, this information, this two-page synopsis was an addendum. It was an annex to the intelligence community report on the Russian hacking. It was not part of the report in itself.

SCIUTTO: That's right. The focus of this briefing was the intelligence and the analysis behind the intelligence community's assessment that it was Russia who did the hack of the election, and that Russia's intent was to help Mr. Trump.

This synopsis, though, included in this briefing which shows its importance was not part of that overall assessment.

TAPPER: Now, Evan -- what we have here are allegations being made by Russians that they have potentially compromising information, financial and personal, about Donald Trump and information allegations that there were exchanges of information between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

But so far the intelligence community has yet to corroborate these allegations. So why even bring it up to President-Elect Trump and President Obama?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well Jake -- there are a couple of reasons why we're told that they were -- why they decided to do this. The senior intelligence officials included the synopsis in part to make the President-Elect aware that these allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress, and other government officials in Washington.

The officials said that they also included it in part to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and the democrats. Now this synopsis was not part of an official -- the official intelligence community report about the Russian hacks, but it really, you know, underscores that it augments the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton's candidacy and to help Donald Trump. Several officials acknowledge in these briefings to CNN.

[00:05:02] TAPPER: It's a fascinating story.

Let me bring in the legendary Carl Bernstein because Carl -- when we're all working together on the story and you brought this to us, this information, the underlying memos upon which the synopsis that was included as an annex to the intelligence community report, these underlying memos, they did not start with U.S. intelligence. They did not start with the FBI or U.S. law enforcement. Where did they come from?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The underlying memos were produced by a former British MI-6 intelligence operative with great experience in Russia and the former Soviet Union. He had been hired by a Washington political oppo research firm -- does opposition research and he'd been doing -- this firm had been doing opposition research on the Trump campaign, on Donald Trump for both Republicans and Democrats opposed to the Trump presidency.

And as this firm in Washington started to look at Trump's businesses in Russia, his trips to Russia, his business ties to Russians, and those of others in his family, they then took their information to this MI-6 person in London, former MI-6 person with whom they had worked before to see where he would further develop their information.

And over the course of the months, he began producing reports. And by August of 2016, he was sufficiently concerned by the substance of the reports to go to Rome, turn them over to an FBI colleague, a counter intelligence colleague in Rome from the FBI and it was then forwarded to the FBI in Washington -- these reports.

Subsequent to that, a former British ambassador to Russia contacted John McCain and said there is this information floating around produced by this MI-6 guy. And a meeting was arranged between McCain and the MI-6 -- a meeting was arranged between the former ambassador and McCain.

And at that point, McCain got the information shortly afterwards -- the underlying memos. He then turned them over, memos subsequent to the ones that had been turned over to the FBI in August. They now go through December. McCain turned those over to FBI Director Comey personally in December, on December 9th. And now people are a-waiting to see what the FBI and other investigators produce now that they have this underlying information.

TAPPER: And what is interesting, we obviously, as we said earlier reached out to the Trump transition team to get a response to the fact that these intelligence officials provided this information in a briefing to President-Elect Trump and to President Obama as well as some senior congressional leaders suggesting that Russians were making these claims. We've been trying to get a response from the Trump transition team for several hours now. I'm told that President-Elect Donald Trump finally issued a response that I can, I think safely assume is about our inquiry.

He wrote, quote, "Fake news, a total political witch-hunt." Ok. I'm not really sure what that specifically addresses. The news that we're bringing you is that these intelligence officials provided this information to President-Elect Trump. If he believes it's a political witch-hunt, that's certainly his perspective.

One of the things that is interesting, of course, Jim is that a lot of these allegations have been out there before. We haven't reported on them. We haven't discussed them. But what changed is, of course, the fact that the intelligence officials, these senior intelligence officials brought them to this level of saying, hey, President-Elect Trump, you should know about this for the reasons that Evan enumerated.

Who else knows about these charges and allegations?

SCIUTTO: Let's be clear here. You have U.S. intelligence agencies -- they have not corroborated this. But they're not dismissing these allegations, right. They're not in effect treating them as fake news.

You have the FBI that has not yet corroborated this. But they're not dismissing it. They are investigating.

And you have to be clear Democratic and Republican lawmakers who are pursuing this and in fact want to talk about hearings on this, both to look at alleged communications between the Trump surrogates and Russian operatives during the campaign but also into the other personal and financial, more salacious details.

So there are multiple outfits, as it were, in Washington, from both parties that are taking this at least seriously on the face of it. They haven't confirmed it.

In addition to that we know that on the Hill the eight senior most congressional leaders, the four (AUDIO GAP) majority and ranking members of the intelligence committees have also seen this. This is the so-called gang of eight. And they have -- we can see that based on some of the questions coming out in the hearing today for attorney general nominee Sessions. They have not dismissed this out of hand either.

[00:10:03] TAPPER: And Evan -- some of this information was floated last year. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a blistering letter in October to the FBI director saying that he possessed explosive information about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

And today now-retired Senator Harry Reid, a spokesman said that his statements speak for themselves. What changed? Why is this now elevated? PEREZ: Well, we know now that Harry Reid is saying this is exactly

what he was talking about when he sent those letters. And we know that the FBI has been busy looking at these allegations including the allegations that there have been surrogates of the Donald Trump campaign who were in touch with intermediaries of the Russian government.

Now, none of this has been proven. None of this has gone anywhere in part because of the election. The FBI had to put a lot of this on hold and on simmer, so to speak, until after the election. And now there is a renewed interest in this especially in light of the report from the intelligence community.

I can tell you that as early as last summer, I began looking at some of these allegations. And so it tells you something that this has been around in Washington. Again -- we haven't confirmed them but it is something that is being taken very seriously and they're going to have to get to the bottom of it.

TAPPER: And Carl Bernstein -- let me ask you, the idea that intelligence chiefs, people at the level of the head of the CIA, the head of the -- director of the National Intelligence Agency -- that these individuals would bring this to President-Elect Trump, to President Obama -- why would they do it?

BERNSTEIN: They want to see that there is an investigation done that is thorough and complete about whatever is there or is not there.

And there obviously is some concern that as a new administration comes in with new national security officials that perhaps there might be a disinclination to do the proper investigating. So they have laid down a marker, they've taken the information to the outgoing president of the United States, the incoming president of the United States and said here it is and we are going to make sure that this matter is investigated. And it's not going to go away.

I think it's very significant and it also does not say that they have expectations of what their findings will be, but rather that they're going to run it down and determine what the findings are.

TAPPER: All right. Carl, Evan, Jim -- thank you so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We'll take a short break now but when we come back the U.S. President and his farewell address and the message from Barack Obama -- yes, we did.

And the nominee for the next U.S. Attorney General grilled by the Senate and backed away from some of Donald Trump's more controversial campaign promises.

[00:12:56] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Barack Obama started his presidency with a message of hope and change. Eight years later -- that's how he's ending. In an emotional farewell speech, Mr. Obama said the U.S. is stronger and better but more needs to be done. He thanked the country, his staff and supporters but especially his wife and daughters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes that we've received over the past few weeks. But tonight -- tonight it's my turn to say thinks.

Whether we have seen eye to eye or whether we agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people, in living rooms and in schools, at farms, on factory floors, at diners and on distant military outposts -- those conversations are what have kept me honest and kept me inspired and kept me going. And everyday I have learned from you.

You made me a better president and you made me a better man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining us now senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us from London, and CNN contributor Jill Dougherty is in Moscow. Thank you all for being with us.

This was an optimistic speech, Ron, but also a warning of the challenges which lie ahead. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: After my election there was talk of a post-racial America and such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.

And all of us have more work to do. If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and an undeserving minority then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Ron -- first to you. That line there, the last part of what Barack Obama was saying. It seemed to be one of the more powerful lines of his speech and also seemed to be referencing Donald Trump in a way.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, he started as you said with hope and change, he ended with a land of hope and dreams -- Bruce Springsteen as he walked off the stage. So there was a nice symmetry there.

Look, I thought the speech had a lot in common with his speech at the Democratic convention last summer in that it was mostly a meditation about what it takes to hold together and create any kind of civic cohesion in a country undergoing rapid demographic change at a time when it is also undergoing economic unease.

And those -- those two forces together are a very volatile mix as this campaign showed. I mean Donald Trump did best among voters who are feeling both economically squeezed and culturally marginalized.

[00:19:54] And I think President Obama, while kind of talking in a very high-minded and civic way, also laid down some very clear trip wires about what he thinks, you know, what it is the essence of American unity requires and gave himself, I think, some room to come back if Donald Trump crosses those trip wires once he's in office.

VAUSE: Nic -- to you, there seemed to be a rearguard-action feel to this when it came to some of his decisions on foreign policy. Listen to what Barack Obama had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If I told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran's nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11; if I told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So Nic clearly, Barack Obama not backing away on some of those decisions which really enraged so many of his critics.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. And certainly that is going to be one of the big challenges that people will be watching to see how President-Elect Donald Trump handles this Iranian nuclear deal because it has been so heavily criticized by him and others in Republican circles.

President Obama in many ways started his presidency overseas with a real flourish, with a lot of goodwill from around the world. We think of the speech that he gave in Cairo in 2009 -- huge applause there. Everyone really expecting the United States and President Obama to make positive change around the world and that's what he aspired to.

But by the end of his presidency he really seems to have little that's actually come through for him and he really highlights it and points to it there and the Iranian nuclear deal one of them clearly, opening up relations with Cuba another very significant thing and of course, taking down Osama bin Laden.

But you know, for all the positives that he points to, there's no mention of that red line in Syria, the use of chemical weapons by Assad; the threat that there would be a use of force by the United States, if that were to happen. It didn't happen. The realization around the world about a point that you could not count on American intervention as perhaps would have been the belief and understand a few presidents back.

So there's a sense here that draw and point towards the positive, absolutely as you would expect but as he says, if I had told you back then but that was quite a short list in reality to eight years in office -- John.

VAUSE: Yes, very true. There did seem to be a short list of the accomplishments. And he did focus a lot on the threats which the country will be facing now and in the future.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses or places of worship, or especially our social media (inaudible). Surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenged our assumptions and the rise of naked partisanship and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splitting of our media in a channel for every taste. All this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.

VAUSE: Ron it sounds like he's definitely describing the past 16 months.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, describing the past 16 months. But also he really is describing a longer-term trend in American life. There's a book called "The Big Sort". I wrote a book called "The Second Civil War" about polarization. All of the trends that the President talked about were accentuated in this campaign. I mean this campaign took every fault line in American life and just kind of widened them, whether it was urban versus non-urban; whether it was blue collar versus white collar; generational.

And Donald Trump, you know, was able to pull together a coalition, as I said of the voters who are both most culturally and economically uneasy. And what the President was arguing today was essentially that the country doesn't work if we are divided to that extent and we're only talking to kind of like-minded people.

It's worth nothing that this sort is very real. 60 percent of Americans live in a county that in this presidential race was decided by 20 points or more. And that's in a race that was a two-point race nationally. So we are pulling apart and everything he talked about is real.

The question, you know, we had three presidents a row -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama who all came into office saying that we're going to narrow America's divides. They were wider when they left than when they started. And now we have someone who really -- his approach is more pouring gasoline on the fire. So where this goes from here, you've got to think only more division in the years ahead.

VAUSE: Well, I guess the point the President is making also in this speech is that one way to deal with that was to cherish American values and to, you know, that's one way of bringing this country back together. Listen to what the President said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [00:25:08] OBAMA: ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our constitution and our principles in the fight.

Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world unless we give up what we stand for and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Jill -- one last shot at Russia in the final few days he has left in office in his last major speech.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is. But I think it's a broader issue. It's a broader, really philosophical issue because what he is saying is it's a message to Donald Trump and it's a message to Vladimir Putin.

To Donald Trump, he is saying that values matter; that not just a deal with another country makes up foreign policy; that you can be guided by more than economics and you can be guided by human rights and other rights.

And in a message to Vladimir Putin it is really a challenge to Vladimir Putin's approach that it's pretty much les' affaires. Every country can do what it wants even internally; you could argue even repress human rights internally and nobody should really interfere with those countries.

So I think that Obama is saying the United States does still stand for human rights in a period where a lot of people would say stay out of our country, stay out of our business and let us do what we want to do.

He is rejecting that but the new president, Donald Trump, appears to have a more limited view of what the United States will do internationally, again guided more by egonomics.

VAUSE: Yes. And Nic -- how will that be viewed, I guess, in a wider context from, you know, not just countries like Russia and China but a whole host of challengers which the United States will face with Donald Trump as president?

ROBERTSON: You know, I think part of that message there again, as Jill so rightly says, this is a message that seems very squarely aimed at Donald Trump and how he might lead the United States. And of course, there are sections of the community, the global community, Muslims in particularly are deeply troubled by what Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail about excluding Muslims from the United States until we can understand what their intentions are, he sort of backtracked and vacillated a little bit on that precise term as he has done on many other things that he said in the campaign trail.

So I think the world waits to see what Donald Trump does there specifically but what President Obama is saying is look, if you do exclude, for example, Muslims from traveling easily to the United States, then there's going to be a backlash in public opinion around the world particularly in Muslim nations against the United States.

This will be the narrative of terrorists like ISIS who want to create divisions, who want divide democracies, divide democratically elected governments from their people and exploit that sort of agenda.

So the message there is you see, United States, Donald Trump -- you see that moral high ground, the world sees it and the narrative therefore of Russia or China will pre-empt the narrative of the United States, the sort of -- the ability of the United States to have a huge, huge global soft power whether it's through the, you know, Hollywood movies that are seen and enjoyed around the world to, you know, projects to help build water plants from Afghanistan to countries in Africa and you risk losing that. That seems to be the message from President Obama there.

VAUSE: Ok. We have a lot more on President Obama's farewell speech. We'll get to it next hour.

But for now I'd like to thank you all for being with us. Nic Robertson there in London, Jill Dougherty in Moscow, Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles.

Like I said, a lot more on this next hour.

And also a programming note here, CNN will replay President Obama's farewell address at 6:00 p.m. Hong Kong and 10:00 a.m. in London.

And we'll take a short break.

When we come back Donald Trump's pick for Attorney General offers his take on a proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. How it differs from the President-Elect's.

Plus new questions about the proposed U.S. border wall with Mexico. Why the man tapped to head Homeland Security says it won't be enough.

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[00:32:40] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech in Chicago where his political career started. Mr. Obama urged Americans to protect their democracy, to condemn discrimination and to never lose hope that change for the better is possible.

Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general will face more tough questioning from his Senate colleagues on Wednesday. Jeff Sessions defended his record on civil rights on day one of his confirmation hearing and said the past allegations of racism against him have been painful. His attorney was repeatedly interrupted by protestors.

For more on that, let's go back to CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Good to have you with us.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

VAUSE: OK. We let a few things on the confirmation hearings today. The difference between candidate Donald Trump and President Donald Trump. This was Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III when he was asked about Muslims entering the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States. We have great Muslim citizens, who have contributed in so many different ways and America as I said in my remarks at the occasion that we discussed it in community are great believers in religious freedom and the right of people to exercise their religious beliefs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK. Does this now mean the Muslim ban is over? It's no longer on the Web site.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And Donald Trump had moved away from it as a candidate. But, you know, the replacement has a lot of overlap with the original idea because he's talking about now ban -- temporarily banning immigration from countries that he views as infected or the government decides are infected with terrorism until more extreme vetting can be put in place.

So in practice, there may be a lot of overlap, but there is no doubt they've moved away from the blanket ban on Muslim.

VAUSE: Are they playing with words here?

BROWNSTEIN: No. Well, I think, it's not quite playing with words because it was broader. I mean, it was -- but what they are talking about as a replacement, I think, would have as they say in the U.S. law disproportionate impact, desperate impact on Muslim population.

VAUSE: There was also the issue of waterboarding again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[00:35:07] SESSION: Congress is taking an action now. It makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding or any other form of torture on in the United States by our military and by all our other departments and agencies.

VAUSE: We also had John Kelly, General John Kelly for Homeland Security. I want to play his sound because he was asked about this as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: What is your personal view of waterboarding and other forms of torture?

GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY NOMINEE: Senator, I don't think we should ever come close to crossing the line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques.

MCCAIN: That would be, basically, the Geneva conventions?

KELLY: Absolutely. Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWNSTEIN: And General Mattis was the defense secretary.

VAUSE: Again, a big campaign pledge.

BROWNSTEIN: A big campaign pledge. And, you know, you do see the reality kind of closing in. Now, you know, there are a lot of areas where they are signalling they are still going to go forward, but some of the more kind of Vanguard proposals are being reigned in.

I thought it was pretty striking today how intent Senator Sessions was on basically saying, look, I am going to be an independent voice. Now how much anybody truly believes that, I think, you know, has set a standard for himself that is going to be hard to completely walk away from.

VAUSE: OK. There was also the issue of the Muslim registry.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

VAUSE: Session says he does not support it. And, again, John Kelly was asked about that. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: I don't agree with registering people based on ethnic or religion or anything like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Kelly was also asked about building a wall and border as a way of controlling immigration from Mexico.

We'll have sound bite from John Kelly. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: A physical barrier in and of itself certainly as a military person that understands defense and defences, physical barrier in and of itself will do the job. It has to be really a layered defense. If you were to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, you'd still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, by sensors, by observation devices, but as I have said to many of the senators present and I've said I think for three years really, I believe the defense of the Southwest border really starts about 1500 miles south and that is partnering with some great countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So the wall isn't going to be enough. It's not going to work. We're in waterboarding. There would be numbers on registry. How does this work? Do they get their talking points from the Trump transition team? They stick to that.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think there's a negotiation between -- I mean, look, Donald Trump has -- you know, there are picks in this mix of like Ben Carson and some of the others that are at the edge of counter policy, but you know, someone like General Kelly is not someone who is ever been thought of is out of the mainstream. And Donald Trump by selecting people like that has seen a certain amount of control to them.

It's, you know, it's hard to name someone like that, put them initially and then expect them to basically rollover.

VAUSE: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: So there is some leverage on the part of his cabinet official now. Also you have a White House with Steve Bannon, who will have very different views on many of these issues particularly kind of relating to this whole question of kind of America's role in the world and kind of retreating from globalism, whether it's immigration or trade.

So there is going to be some tension but by choosing figures like Mattis and Kelly almost by definition Donald Trump needs their credibility. You can't have them kind of walking away. And we see, you know, for example, there had been reports that Mattis, the Defense secretary nominee has been in intense pushback over some of the proposed deputies that the Trump transition wants to impose on him.

VAUSE: But having said all of this, the reality is Sessions will be easily confirmed? Won't he?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

VAUSE: And same with Kelly.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, look, we've own -- the last time a cabinet nominee from either party was not confirmed was 1989.

VAUSE: OK.

BROWNSTEIN: It was John Tower, a former senator, who was done in by very serious allegations of personal misconduct. It happens rarely. If there is anyone that has been kind of most focus on has been Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, especially with the back drop of everything happening with Russia in this campaign.

But he in the event of his opening statement is saying things that people want to hear. So it may be tough even to mobilize a majority against him. It doesn't happen very often.

VAUSE: We'll get to Tillerson next hour, but he will go before the Senate hearing on Wednesday as well.

Ron, thanks for being with us.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: OK. Well, coming up here next, the honesty. One of Trump's aids is being questioned. We'll have the fallout from a CNN K-File investigation on Monica Crowley's alleged plagiarism.

And the suspense is over. "Star Wars" creator George Lucas has chosen a home for his extensive art collection and the winner is in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:41:52] VAUSE: Well, a major publishing house wants Donald Trump's national security aid to rewrite a book that was published in 2012 and just take out the bits that was stolen. Harper Collins has stop selling Monica Crowley's book, "What the Bleep Just Happen?"

CNN "KFile" investigation reports it contains more than 50 instances of plagiarism from news reports, columns, think tanks, other places.

Crowley is Trump's pick for a senior communications role at the National Security Council. The Trump transition team has said any attempt to discredit Crowley is politically motivated attack and it's meant to distract from the real issues.

After a lot of speculations, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas has chosen a home for his $1 billion museum. Los Angeles will host Lucas's extensive art and movie memorabilia collection, including pieces from the "Star Wars" franchise.

These will be the futuristic museum will look like. Lucas plans to fund most of the project. LA beat out San Francisco in a competition for posting rights. Opening date, though, has not been set.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next. Then I will be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.

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