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Trump Shuts Down CNN Reporter; Tillerson's Global Business Record; Tillerson, From Oil Man to Secretary of State; ExxonMobil's Business Dealings in Africa; "Star Trek's" George Takei Starts Petition to Protect Muslim-Americans. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 12, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Donald Trump faces off with CNN dismissing our reporter and shutting down Jim Acosta, our reporter. Also, the former Exxon oil man, who's now Trump's pick for Top Diplomat as poised to look at Rex Tillerson's global business career. And later, as Barack Obama said goodbye, the Internet wanted to know where was his youngest daughter, Sasha.
Hello everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. We're now into the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.
The top U.S. Intelligence Chief is offering up new details about recent leaks concerning Donald Trump. James Clapper says, he spoke with the President-elect by phone, Wednesday night. Clapper appeared to address the document which includes allegations about Trump's ties to Russia. Clapper said, "I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product, and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the I.C." He went on to say, "However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.
During his news conference Wednesday, Trump refused to say whether he had received that document as part of his intelligence briefing, but he did tweet late Wednesday, "We had a great news conference at Trump Tower today. A couple of fake news organizations were there, but the people truly get what is going on." CNN's Jim Acosta has details.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump wasted no time ripping into news reports that the U.S. Intelligence Community provided unproven information to him at a meeting last week that the Russian government has collected damaging personal and financial details on him for years.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen. ACOSTA: As for the U.S. Intelligence Communities finding that Russia
directed a hacking operation to damage Hillary Clinton, Trump for the first time accepted that conclusion.
TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.
ACOSTA: But he said there is nothing wrong with being friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset not a liability.
ACOSTA: But Trump, is still refusing to release his tax returns to prove that he has no business interest at stake in Russia.
TRUMP: You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters. OK, they're the only ones -
ACOSTA: And the President-elect refused to take follow up questions from this reporter on whether any of his associate had contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.
ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance?
TRUMP: Not you, your organization is terrible.
ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization.
TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.
ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? Sir, can you state -
TRUMP: Quiet, quiet. Go ahead.
ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you state categorically -
TRUMP: She's asking a question. Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: President-elect, can you give us explanation why you're attacking us?
TRUMP: Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: No, I'm not going to give you a - I'm not going to give you a question.
ACOSTA: Can you state categorically -
TRUMP: You are fake news.
ACOSTA: The conference was originally scheduled to layout Trump's plans to place his vast empire in a trust, run by his sons Don Jr. and Eric.
TRUMP: As a President, I could run the Trump organization great, great company, and I could run the company - country. I'd do a very good job but I don't want to do that.
ACOSTA: To avoid a constitutional ban on Trump receiving gifts from other countries, his Attorney revealed profits from foreign government officials staying at his hotels will be donated to the U.S. Treasury.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This way, it is the American people who will profit.
ACOSTA: Trump did take on other topics vowing he will sign a bill to replace Obamacare just as soon as the healthcare law is repealed.
TRUMP: It'll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously.
ACOSTA: And he promised once again Mexico, will reimburse the U.S. for a wall on the border right after U.S. taxpayers put the bill first.
TRUMP: On the fence - it's not a fence, it's a wall. We just misreported it. We're going to build a wall.
ACOSTA: Trump also said in the coming weeks he would announce his picks for the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. It's a selection Republicans in Congress did not allow President Obama to make in his final year in office. Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: Joining me now here in Los Angeles: Talk Radio host Mo'Kelly; CNN Political Commentator, John Phillips; and from Moscow, CNN Contributor, Jill Dougherty, thanks guys for being with us. OK, for the record our friends at Fox News, they don't often come to our defense, but listen to anchor Shepard Smith a little earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:04:50] SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: President-elect Trump today told CNN's Jim Acosta, that his organization amounts to fake news. CNN's exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate and distinctly different from the document dump executed by an online news property. Though, we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN's report, it is our observation that its correspondents followed journalistic standards, and that neither they nor any other journalists should be subjected to belittling and delegitimizing by the President-elect of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: So Mo, despite what, you know, Shepard Smith said, is this the media strategy here moving forward with Donald Trump so as to divide and conquer the media. Be kind to the ones you like, and just simply ignore the ones who report things you don't like?
MORRIS O'KELLY, THE MO'KELLY SHOW HOST: I think that's obviously the strategy, I'm not so sure how long that strategy will work. I was - I'm concerned that this President-elect is picking too many fights and too many battles, literally, at the same time. I'm not sure he can take on the Intelligence Community, and the media, and possibly leaders of the Republican-led Congress. After a while he is going to need someone at some point, and there's a difference between governance and campaigning, and it seems like he's still in campaign mode. And until he moves to governance, there may be some roadblocks in front of him with this strategy.
VAUSE: Is he in campaign mode? Because I think that's a fair point, John.
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we saw elements of the campaign out there, but I think in a roundabout way, this BuzzFeed report is going to help Donald Trump, and it's going to help his ignoring of the media or adversarial relationship with the media. Because people look at this report that was a false report - it was fake news, and it was obviously put out there with the intention of damaging his credibility, of hurting his public standing. And they say, you know what, this was - this report was put out there because there was an editorial bias on behalf of BuzzFeed towards Trump and therefore, we're not going to believe a lot of criticism that's out there because we think it comes from a bad place. And when they start ignoring criticism, they're not only ignoring the fake news and the fake criticism, they're ignoring the legitimate criticism as well.
VAUSE: OK. Well, the issue that the Trump team has with CNN, they're accusing us of releasing the 35 pages of unverified documents, which we did not do. Here's Kellyanne Conway on CNN, a little earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360 ANCHOR: Do you acknowledge here now, that CNN did not release the 35-page unsubstantiated claims against Donald Trump, and it was misleading and untrue for Sean Spicer to suggest otherwise?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, our incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer was exactly right, as was the President-elect. He understands CNN went first, yesterday, and BuzzFeed went second. CNN released --
COOPER: We didn't report what BuzzFeed reported.
CONWAY: I didn't say that you did, but you linked to it in your story.
COOPER: But, Sean Spicer said we did. CONWAY: Let me just tell you - Anderson, let's back up. I know CNN must be feeling the heat today of having a headline yesterday at around 6:30 p.m. that said, "Intel Chiefs presented Trump with information that Russia could compromise - Russia had information to compromise him." That is just false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: To be clear we did not link to the BuzzFeed report, and it does appear that the information was included in the briefing. But John, this does seem to be the strategy here, you'd link CNN to the BuzzFeed report which I think we all agree should not have actually happened, and just sort of muddies the waters.
PHILLIPS: Yes, I think Jim made a mistake when he was shouting out his questions to Donald Trump. He should have offered a peace fight and say, hey! We weren't the ones that hired Megyn Kelly, NBC did.
VAUSE: Yes, you have a point. One of the actual things that came out of the - one of the big headlines to come out of the Trump news conference, he now admits that Russia was part of -- or at least was behind all the hacking. Jill Dougherty, to you, that was a, you know, fairly candid admission from -- or at least a reluctant one from Donald Trump, but he still seems to be taking it very easy with Moscow and Vladimir Putin.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he's got kind of a number of positions there. I mean, he says, yes, I think that the Russians were the hackers, doesn't blame Vladimir Putin. Says it's an asset if Vladimir Putin likes me. And then in the same breath says, I'm going to be tough on Russia, in fact, who would ever believe that Hillary Clinton would be tougher than I will be. And then, you know, hope I have a good relationship but maybe I won't. So, he's kind of, you know, he's covering all bases and then you bring in his nominee for the State Department, Rex Tillerson, who is more specific but also kind of - it takes a harder position than many expected. And yet it's kind of unclear who will set the policy, the President or the Secretary of State. So, it's confusing.
VAUSE: It is, indeed. So, let's listen to Rex Tillerson as he spoke before lawmakers. He did, as you say, have a tough line when it came to Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:09:42] REX TILLERSON, EXXONMOBIL FORMER CHAIRMAN AND CEO: I found the Russians to be very strategic in their thinking, very tactical and they generally have a very clear plan that they've laid before them, and so, in terms of -- when I make the statement they're not unpredictable, if one is able to step back and understand what they're long-term motivation is and you see that they're going to chart a course, then it's an understanding of how are they likely to carry that plan out? And where are all of the elements of that plan that are on the table? And in my view, the leadership of Russia has a plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: And Jill, Tillerson also went on to say it's unlikely that the
United States and Russia could even be friends.
DOUGHERTY: Yes, I think he was, as we said, harder than many expected. And he actually contradicted a lot of the positions of Donald Trump himself. I mean, when he talks about Ukraine he's talking about if I had been in office at that particular point as Secretary of State, I would have urged arming the Ukrainian government, having aerial reconnaissance along the border. He also talked about NATO and that, you know, the U.S. will follow its commitments to other members in the coalition. That's something that Donald Trump has said, you know, they have to pay for it and we might not defend them.
There were number of different points, which again, brings up this issue of how the Trump administration especially the National Security team is going to go about setting this policy. There are a lot of internal contradictions especially on this issue of Russia, which is critical.
VAUSE: Yes, and Mo, you talked about, you know, Trump having too many conflicts; too many wars so early and he does seem to have this ongoing conflict right now with the Intelligence Agencies. This is what he said during the news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the Intelligence Agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake, out. I think it's a disgrace and I say that - and I say that, and that's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Strong words, and this is not obviously, you know, (INAUDIBLE) he says (INAUDIBLE)
O'KELLY: Two things, if it was fake news then how could it be leaked? That's the first thing. Secondarily, it's kind of rich and full of irony that the person who has - who cut his political teeth, if you will, talking about trying to delegitimize the presidency of President Obama with the birther controversy, if you will, with the help of Breitbart News is now trying to turn around and say this is a disgrace. I mean, if anything, I would say he is fully aware of what is disgraceful or not.
VAUSE: There is this problem for Donald Trump he will have to sort of find a way of working with the Intelligence Community eventually, when they're done. Otherwise, you know, they can do a lot of damage.
PHILLIPS: I think he's going to have this problem not just with the Intelligence Community but with the bureaucracy of the government in general. You have a lot of people who worked for the federal government for a long time who like the status quo. And the fact that he's coming in and he's bringing in the outsiders that he's bringing. He's bringing a lot of generals, he's bringing in business executives, that's going to really shake their world and rock their world.
They're not going to like it and they're going to leak things that are damaging to him they're going to fight of every step of the way, and he's got to let them know that he's got a spine of steel and he's not going to back down and change is coming to Washington, D.C., because that's what the voters wanted.
VAUSE: Well, on the issue of the leaks and about what may or may not have happened in Moscow back in 2013, Trump is dismissive, he talked about how - when he would travel to Moscow, he took extra precautions. This is sort of one of the stranger moments of these conference, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was in Russia years ago, with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well Moscow - the Moscow area. Did very, very well. And I told many people, be careful. Because you don't want to see yourself on television. Cameras all over the place. And again, not just Russia, all over. Does anyone really believe that story? I'm also very much of a germophobe, by the way, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So Jill, is Donald Trump, right? Would he have been the target for intelligence gathering even when he was just a businessman and a reality T.V. star?
DOUGHERTY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think it's actually refreshing that he has that position because he is right, that cameras and all sorts of devices are everywhere here in Russia and in other countries. And by the way, the U.S. does quite a bit of that domestically as well. I mean, Donald Trump is a rich businessman coming to Moscow to try to do deals. It's just obvious that there would be interest in finding out what he thinks, what kind of deals he wants to do and then also, you know, maybe Russia had ulterior motives in trying to, let's say, get into his graces. You never know. Anything is possible. But it's interesting that he would say I'm very careful. Because that is - that's precisely what he should be.
[01:14:56] VAUSE: Yes, we also have some details (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump will separate himself from his business dealings and how, you know, and basically the presidency. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I'm going to be doing is my two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me. Again, I don't have to do this. They're not going to discuss it with me. And with that, I'm going to bring up Sheri Dillon, and she's going to go - these papers are just some of the many documents that I've signed turning over complete and total control to my sons.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: And, John we should note, no one got to actually see those documents. It was just sort of a prop, I guess, but the criticism is this doesn't even meet the bear minimum of legal standards let alone, you know, what is needed to avoid conflicts of interests and allegations of corruption, you know, when he actually does takes over the White House.
PHILLIPS: I would argue that he's been the most scrutinized President-elect in the history of the country. He's been the most scrutinized candidate in the history of the country. So, if anything is going on with the Trump business operation that is clandestine, or illegal, or a conflict of interest, I have no doubt that there will be any number of media organizations that will be putting that on the front page of their paper or covering it on their newscasts. He big - builds big building with his name written all over them in gold. I don't think he can hide it from us.
O'KELLY: But let's not confuse scrutiny with transparency. I mean, he was very flip and dismissive about who would like to see his taxes. I would like to see his taxes. I would like to be able to hold him accountable and take them as his word, but also, you know, trust but verify. Allow us the voters, the people in the media, and even his colleagues in Washington to verify that he is who he says he is.
VAUSE: There is a lot of trust me, trust me, trust me going on.
PHILLIPS: Well, he ran on the platform of "when my audit is over, I'll release my tax returns." That was - that was said by Donald Trump before the election and the voters elected him.
VAUSE: OK. Well, we will wait to see if we ever get to see the tax returns. It may be a long wait. John and Mo, here in Los Angeles, thank you. And also, Jill Dougherty in Moscow, I appreciate you all being with us. Thank you.
And well take a short break, when we come back Rex Tillerson facing a tough confirmation hearing to run the State Department. Why his comments on trade are more Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. Also, ahead why this Star Trek actor is on a mission to help Muslim- Americans.
[01:19:40] ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Alex Thomas with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. Just as the critics who poised the right, The Barcelona in crisis headlines, The Catalan Giants have instead rewritten football's record books. Luis Enrique's man have recovered from 2-1 down after the first leg of the Copa del Rey last 16 match against Athletic Bilbao to win the second leg, 3-1. And all three of the famed MSN got on the score sheet. Luis Suarez scoring his 100th Barcelona goal, Neyma ended an 82-day goal drought, and Leonel Messi scored taking the MSN's tally as an attacking-trio passed the 300-mark for the first time.
It was a very different night for Liverpool, and the semi-finals of England's EFL cup. The first leg of this match was away to South Hampton, and it was the home team who scored the only goal of the game. Forward Nathan Redmond, giving The Saints a slim victory take to Enfield in a fortnight's time.
Lindsey Vonn's skiing is golden girl whose quest for history's (INAUDIBLE) interrupted by injury will be returning to the slopes. The American confirmed her latest comeback will be on Saturday in the World Cup Downhill race in Austria. Vonn, broke her right arm training in Colorado last November and the 32-year-old is keen to get back to competition as she aims to build on her 76th World Cup race wins and jive the all-time record. That's a look at your sports headlines, I'm Alex Thomas.
VAUSE: Donald Trump's choice for the Secretary of State has disagreed with his future boss on an important issue, Rex Tillerson told his senate confirmation hearing he does not opposed the transpacific partnership which Trump has opposed. Tillerson says, he shares Trump's concerns about whether the trade deal serves all America's interests. Tillerson also talked tough on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: The island building in the South China Sea itself in many respects in my view, building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia's taking of Crimea. It's taking of territory that others lay claim to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, the region is specially - seems tense right now. Taiwan reportedly deployed fighter jets and navy frigates after a Chinese aircraft carrier - their only aircraft carrier, steamed through the Taiwan strait on Wednesday. Let's bring in Asia Pacific Editor, Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong and Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul, South Korea. So, Andrew first to you, Tillerson went on to say that China should in fact be denied access to those man-made islands. This would certainly be something which would enrage Beijing to say the least.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: I think you're absolutely right, John. I think it would enrage Beijing. Rex Tillerson very, very strong in the language he used against China as you say, talking about its actions on the South China Sea equivalent to Russia annexing the Crimea. And now, he's saying we have to send a clear message that not only should China stop building on those islands but it should be banned from actually being allowed on those islands. These are very strong words indeed.
We may get a reaction from China in the next hour or so, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have the daily press conference. So, stand by for that one but certainly, Rex Tillerson is making a stand - again, it's just another point of contact that's obviously been a point of tension between the U.S. and China about these island expansions. But, Rex Tillerson, raising the temperature significantly there, you've also got growing tensions about the One China Policy. The fact that China refuses to recognize Taiwan, and Donald Trump has raised questions about that policy and of course you've got the whole Trump trade issue, where Donald Trump is still threatening about putting taxes - big taxes on Chinese imports to the U.S.
VAUSE: Yes, with all that going on with this, you know, relationship, you know, almost up in flames between the incoming administration and Beijing. Tillerson, also told lawmakers that, you know, the U.S. must compel challenge China to challenge basically, to bring North Korea on board when it comes to North Korea, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: I think a lot of our troubles today are that we do not enforce. We make commitments, we say we're going to do something and then we don't enforce it. And that is, again, a mixed message that I think has been sent in the case of North Korea and our expectations of China. I think we have to be clear-eyed as to what - how far China will go and not get overly optimistic as to how far they'll go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Paula, how do you get China on board to deal with North Korea, while also having all these other arguments in going head to head with issues like; trade, and Taiwan, and, you know, the territorial dispute in the South China Sea?
[01:24:50] PAULA HANCOCK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Washington has tried to push Beijing even further for years now to try and curtail the nuclear and missile program of North Korea and it has not done it very successfully. So, when you're - you have a President-elect like Donald Trump who does seem so willing to confront China, it's very difficult see how they're going to convince them to stay on board when they're talking about North Korea.
Then back in March of last year, China did sign on to strengthen sanctions against North Korea. So, that was a step in the right direction it's anyone's guess at this point in this disagreement, just how that has actually impacted North Korea and whether or not it has impacted them enough. But you did hear some real - reality and some realism in Tillerson's comments there. He said you can't be overly optimistic as to what Beijing will do. China does not want North Korea to collapse. China does not want millions of refugees streaming across their border. And they certainly don't want South Korea to take over the peninsula and have that U.S. ally on their doorstep. So, that's the understanding that Tillerson, of course, Donald Trump has to have that China will be supporting North Korea in some regards because they simply don't want it to collapse.
VAUSE: OK. Also, we heard from Tillerson. He broke with Donald Trump when it came to that big Asia Free Trade Zone known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: I do not oppose TPP. I share some of his views regarding whether the agreement that was negotiated serves all of America's interests best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Andrew, Tillerson in some ways sounds more in line with Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.
STEVENS: Also, he sounds more in line with Barack Obama than he does with even Hillary Clinton. This is an interesting one and it actually goes back to 2013 when Rex Tillerson was publicly talking about the upside of the TPP saying, that it would help worker's rights, it would help living standards across the Pacific, it would open up new markets for the U.S. Of course, Donald Trump will say and has been saying loudly to anyone who will listen is that these big international trade deals hurt American workers. The cheap imports come in, that workers who are paid less in other countries can sell their goods into the U.S. and American workers pay the price for that. So, that's an ideological difference between the Secretary of State and Donald Trump, how that will play out? It will be fascinating if indeed he's confirmed in the Secretary of State's job.
VAUSE: It will make for interesting times in the cabinet. Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong, thanks you and Paula Stevens - and Paula Hancock in Seoul, thanks to you both. You guys is not married. OK. Thank you.
OK, we'll take a short break. When we come back, Rex Tillerson's years at ExxonMobil are a major point of contention at his confirmation hearing. We'll take a closer look at his business style and the deals he cut.
[01:31:17] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour.
VAUSE: Trump's nominee for secretary of state faced a Senate committee grilling on his past business deals as head of ExxonMobil and how that would be balanced against U.S. foreign policy. Rex Tillerson did take a harder stance on Russia compared with Trump, saying he would push back against President Putin's efforts to expand Moscow's influence in Ukraine and other areas.
But during the hearing, Tillerson defended ExxonMobil's dealings with dictators and autocratic regimes.
John Defterios reports now on Tillerson, the oil boss, and what that might mean for Tillerson, the secretary of state.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Middle East, where crude reigns supreme, it is fair to say, when it comes to the international oil majors, Rex Tillerson's ExxonMobil is top of the heap. It flies its flag where oil and gas can be found, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
JOHN ROPER, CHAIRMAN, PETEROLIUM CLUB, DUBAI: The red here is the gas in the north field in Qatar.
John Roper has tracked the region's energy business for a quarter century.
ROPER: It's certainly a part of the world they have taken to have committed to and I think have proven their worth.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): They're a player, is that what you're saying?
ROPER: Yes, they're definitely a player.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): This is evident in the numbers. ExxonMobil gets 17 percent of its global oil output from the Middle East and a third of its natural gas.
(on camera): Those here in the Middle East describe Tillerson as the deal maker, the man with the high-level relationships to get the contracts signed. But unlike others in the business with a lot of swagger, the tall Texan prefers to maintain a low profile.
(voice-over): Drill a bit deeper and it gets even more interesting. In late 2009, ExxonMobil entered into a $50 billion joint venture in southern Iraq for a giant field in the Shia heartland of the country. Two years later, Tillerson made a bold play in the semi-autonomous Kurdish north against the wishes, analysts say, of both of Baghdad and Washington.
ROBIN MILLS, CEO, QAMAR ENERGY: They were in southern Iraq and then decided to enter Kurdistan. And it made it very hard for the central government in Baghdad to throw them out of southern Iraq. They were in an oil project and the Iraqis eventually -- they said they couldn't afford to lose them.
DEFTERIOS: ExxonMobil reached a compromise and later agreed to reduce its majority stake in Southern Iraq down to 25 percent.
Additionally, ExxonMobil maintains a stake in an energy trading arm out of Europe that reportedly handled oil sales to Iran over a decade ago, however, the company says the joint venture operates under independent management and is not controlled by ExxonMobil.
In Qatar, the energy giant rolled the dice on the former emir of the gulf state, who made a huge bet on liquefied natural gas. The $30 billion investment paid off handsomely for both parties. Now Qatar is a major investor in trophy assets like Harrods's, designer Valentino and London property.
ROPER: ExxonMobil were there in the early stages and they took what was a nascent business and have helped Qatar turn it into a global leader.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): And here in the UAE, the American oil giant has been present since 1939 as a top-tier producer with output approaching three quarters of a million barrels a day. Add it all up and Tillerson is associated with power, influence and discretion in a region that appreciates all three.
John Defterios, CNN Money, Abu Dhabi.
[01:35:] VAUSE: And it's not just the Middle East where ExxonMobil is huge. It has big investments as well in Africa. And the anti- corruption watchdog group, Global Witness, was calling on Senators to ask Rex Tillerson specifically about what it calls questionable deals between Exxon and autocratic oil-rich regimes, which have fueled instability and entrenched poverty in some of the world's most volatile regions. Under Tillerson's watch, they say, ExxonMobil has led efforts to gut policies designed to reduce corruption.
One of the few questions during the hearing about Africa touched on a program called PEPFAR, designed to combat HIV and AIDs and was started by President George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, FORMER CEO, EXXONMOBIL & INCOMING SECRETARY OF STATE: PEPFAR, I think, clearly, has been one of the most extraordinarily successful programs in Africa. I saw it up close and personal because ExxonMobil had taken on the challenge of eradicating malaria because of business activities in Central Africa where malaria is quite prevalent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: At least we know Tillerson supports PEPFAR, which is a good thing. He also wants to get rid of Malaria, which is also good. But that was pretty much it.
For more on Tillerson and Exxon and its record in Africa, Ian Gary, with the aid group, Oxfam, joins us now from Boston.
Ian, over the years, explain how Exxon has operated in Africa in terms of the deals it is willing to do with dictators and also the transparency around those deals, especially compared to other major oil companies.
IAN GARY, POLICY DIRECTOR, OXFAM AMERICA: Over the last three decades, Exxon has signed deals with dictators across Africa from long-running dictator Eduardo dos Santos in Angola, to President Obiang in Equatorial Guinea, to authoritarian rulers in Nigeria and Chad. And across the continent, they've kept their payments secret. They've kept their contracts secret. And these are situations where the countries are mired in poverty but elites are amassing great wealth. Not only has Exxon looked the other way in terms of corruption but they have actively fought against international efforts to bring more transparency to those financial deals so that citizens in these countries know exactly how much their governments are receiving. VAUSE: So at risk of sounding like a ridiculous question, what is the
upshot if the people in those countries don't know the details of the oil deals and where the money is going and who is getting it?
GARY: If you are a citizen in Angola or Equatorial Guinea or Nigeria and you have no information on how much your government is getting -- Equatorial Guinea's has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, $45,000 a person, but its population lives at the bottom of the Human Development Index. Without that basic information about how much money is flowing into government coffers, there is no chance for a democratic debate about how the money should be used.
In your lead-in, you talked about how -- or Tillerson talked about how he was supportive of aid programs in Africa. What would be better is that those governments themselves can use the resources they are getting from deals with Exxon to fight poverty and fight disease on the continent.
VAUSE: How does the business practice of Exxon under a Rex Tillerson put the company at odds with the U.S. government's foreign policy and goals for Africa?
GARY: Under the Obama administration, under Secretary Kerry and Secretary Clinton, they prioritized human rights, anti-corruption and transparency in the extractive industries. This was a specific foreign policy goal. They didn't see any separation between our economic security and transparency, good governance in the countries where we are extracting oil. Both Secretaries Kerry and Clinton supported bipartisan legislation that was passed in 2010. Under Rex Tillerson, Exxon, along with the American Petroleum Institute, sued the U.S. government to try to keep their payments secret. Other companies, such as Statoil in Norway, have published their payments, including in places like Angola. This shows it can be done. So, Exxon is on the far end of the spectrum of trying to keep citizens in the dark in the places where they work.
VAUSE: We have heard from Team Trump that Secretary of State Tillerson will be very different from Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, he will be working for the American people. How do you see it?
[01:39:51] GARY: I would say the initial day of testimony was not reassuring. He failed to address how he would deal with human rights issues. He said it's not helpful to label countries as human rights violators. The State Department puts out annual reports on human rights situations, including in countries where Exxon has worked. And that's something that we do. Calling out human rights violations has to be a part of the diplomatic tool kit for the secretary of state. I don't see how somebody who has made a career in the oil business doing deals with dictators can suddenly change their stripes overnight. So, we have big concerns about the experience that Rex Tillerson brings and whether he can shift from being an oil man to a statesman overnight.
VAUSE: OK. I guess we'll see.
Ian, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate. GARY: Thanks so much.
VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A. "Star Trek's" helmsman takes the stand on Muslim-Americans decades after his own family suffered from war-time paranoia and discrimination. My interview with George Takei coming up.
VAUSE: Anyone who is a fan of "Star Trek" will know the name of George Takei. He was the original helmsman of the Starship Enterprise in their iconic TV series and six feature films. But long before he was famous, as a young boy, he was imprisoned along with his family in an internment camp during World War II because, at the time, Japanese- Americans were deemed a threat to national security. Now, he wants to make sure that no Americans are ever unfairly targeted by a government again. He is especially worried about Muslim-Americans.
George Takei joins us ow from New York.
Mr. Takei, thank you so much for joining us.
GOERGE TAKEI, ACTOR: Good to be here. Thank you for inviting us.
VAUSE: You have this petition where you are calling on people to stand up for Muslims and you make the argument that national security must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections.
Do you see similarities now when it comes to Muslims in the U.S. to what you went through all those years ago?
TAKEI: I must say I was chilled when, during the campaign, Donald Trump made the statement that all Muslims should be banned from entry into the United States. That kind of sweeping characterization of a whole group of people is exactly what we were subjected to. They had a registry, -- they called it a database -- on us. They knew where we lived and what we did for a living and how many in a family. That was followed by the curfew where we are had to be home by 7:00 p.m. and stay home until 6:00 a.m. We were imprisoned in our homes at night. And then we discovered that our bank accounts had been frozen. We couldn't have access to our life savings. And so, we were impoverished by -- and then that was followed by the soldiers coming to take us.
People know very little about that chapter in American history. That's why we are doing this, to call attention to that. And to express our solidarity with Muslim-Americans as Americans, people who represent American values. And we want to show that there is strength in numbers and that there is an overwhelming public opinion supporting our solidarity with the Muslim-Americans.
[01:46:06] VAUSE: You're one of many in Hollywood who have spoken out against Donald Trump. You do it regularly. You have a huge following on social media. You are one of the more regular critics. How do you answer the criticism that you are just a bunch of liberal elites out of touch with real America?
TAKEI: Well, I grew up behind American barbed-wire fences. I know the consequence of this kind of registry. This kind of insanity can happen. And it was the president of the United States, Mr. Roosevelt, and another great man who, at that time, was the attorney general of California, Earl Warren, who led the charge on locking Japanese- Americans up. And he fed into that hysteria which reached the presidency. Great people can make horrific mistakes that do huge damage, and primarily to the ideals of American democracy. We are determined to not let that happen again because it's against American values.
VAUSE: One of the great things about "Star Trek," the original TV series and great social commentary, is there an episode which you can think of from the original series which perhaps best fits what's happening right now in America?
TAKEI: You know, I don't remember the episodes by title but there was one where we were sending surrogates into a machine that destroyed. There were two great civilizations at war with each other. It was a war game that was played and then surrogates were sent to the machine to be destroyed. So, you know, people make mistakes. And warfare and fear and ignorance make us -- make horrific mistakes. We want to avoid that. And we're sharing the experience of Japanese-Americans. Americans -- my mother was born in Sacramento, the capital of California. My father was a San Franciscan. They met and married in Los Angeles. And my siblings and I were born there. We are Americans. And they were stampeded by the hysteria of war. And that is what is happening now with the testimony of Tillerson this afternoon and, yesterday, Senator Jeff Sessions. These are people that have accomplished a great deal in their lives. But, yet, they are fallible human beings and they are about to repeat a mistake for which President Ronald Reagan in 1988 apologized and paid a $20,000 redress apology. So, we don't want to be through this again. And we're telling this to the elected officials, particularly Donald Trump, that we are not going to tolerate this kind of mistake being made again with other innocent people, simply because they look like people that might be potential terrorists. There is -- this is a country that stands for the rule of law, for due process, and that's the way to do this, not that all-encompassing, sweeping, generalized characterization of a group of people.
VAUSE: OK. Well, it has been great to speak with you, sir. Thank you so much. Appreciate you giving us your time and insights. Thank you, Mr. Takei.
TAKEI: Thank you very much.
[01:49:45] VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., Malia Obama was there, but what was so important that kept her younger sister, Sasha, from her father's farewell address? The Internet would like to know.
VAUSE: U.S. Senate Republicans have made their first move to get rid of President Obama's signature health care law. They just approved a budget measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. The vote went along party lines. Democrats are fighting the effort, declaring why they voted against the repeal. The measure goes to the House which could vote as soon as Friday.
Michelle Obama was there wiping tears away with her daughter, Malia. But some keen-eyed viewers pointed out that Sasha was nowhere to be seen when her dad delivered his final address to the nation. So, what was more important?
Jeanne Moos has the details.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We watched her grow --
SASHA OBAMA, DAUGHTER OF BARACK OBAMA: Hi, Daddy!
MOOS: -- from a kid to a teenager, from petting a turkey to barely putting up with the turkey pardon. But when President Obama delivered his swan song.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women.
MOOS: -- only one of the two was there.
OBAMA: You are kind and thoughtful and you are full of passion.
MOOS: While Malia shed a tear, Sasha had disappeared, inspiring the #whereisSasha? A tweet featuring binoculars asked, "But for real, where is Sasha Obama?
And there was this answer, "Hopefully, blocking the driveway to the White House so the next occupant can't move in."
The family of four reduced to three.
(on camera): She was out on a date?
UNIDENTIFID FEMALE: No.
MOOS: She's got the flu?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MOOS: She was taking care of the dogs?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
[01:55:00] MOOS (voice-over): Tweeted someone, "Anyone wondering if Sasha Obama is the designated survivor?"
As the president spoke, Google searches for Sasha spiked over searches for Malia. Remember back in 2008 when Sasha asked her dad up on the screen.
SASHA OBAMA: Daddy, what city are you in?
MOOS: That's what we wondered about you, Sasha.
(on camera): She hates Chicago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No
MOOS: She wouldn't go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. She had to study.
MOOS (voice-over): The White House says Sasha couldn't come to Chicago had an exam the next morning at her private school in Washington.
(on camera): A once-in-a-lifetime farewell speech by dad versus a science exam?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's important that they're showing that the education is the most valuable thing.
MOOS (voice-over): But whether or not Sasha aces the exam --
BARACK OBAMA: Of all I have done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
Stay with us. A lot more news in just a moment.
[02:00:09] VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.