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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
U.S. Intel Chiefs Briefing Senators On Hacking; Senators Grill Trump's Pick for CIA Director; ; Tillerson Denies Lobbying Against Russian Sanctions; Probe Into Possible "Improper Actions" by FBI; Trump Lashes Out at Media Over Dossier; France's Marine Le Pen Spotted at Trump Tower;
Aired January 12, 2017 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Hala Gorani.
Special coverage, we're following a very busy day on Capitol Hill, where Russia and its alleged cyber-attacks are once again in the spotlight, as
senators grill some of Donald Trump's top cabinet nominees in Washington, D.C. on this day. We'll have the latest on the confirmation hearings in
just a moment.
But we begin with a rare public statement by the U.S. director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is pushing back against Donald Trump's claims
that American intelligence allowed the leak of an unsubstantiated dossier. CNN's Evan Perez has those details -- Evan
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is trying to defuse a feud between the
nation's next president and the U.S. intelligence community. Clapper says he called President-elect Donald Trump last night to assure him that the
intelligence agencies were not the source of leaks about an opposition research dossier containing unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Trump.
A two-page summary pending to briefing documents for Mr. Trump last week described allegations by a former intelligence operative that Russians --
Russians claimed to have compromising personal and financial information on Mr. Trump.
Clapper issued a statement last night, explaining why the unverified information was included in briefing documents last Friday. Clapper says,
quote, "Part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national
The statement was the first on-the-record confirmation from a government official that Trump's briefing documents did include information on the
opposition research. Now, the nation's top intelligence official noted that the intelligence agencies did not produce the 35-page dossier
containing the underlying allegations.
The FBI and the intelligence agencies haven't verified those claims. And as CNN first reported, the original documents were compiled as opposition
research for Mr. Trump's Republican and Democratic political opponents.
GORANI: Evan Perez there. Here's what Trump tweeted about that phone call. "James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and
fictitious report that was illegally circulated, made up, phony facts, too bad.
We want to point out that Clapper did not post, quote, "denounce" the false and fictitious report. He denounced the leak about it and said American
intelligence hasn't made any judgments that the substance is reliable.
That dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steel. Sources tell CNN that U.S. intelligence officials
consider his past work credible. Trump has called not only the unsubstantiated dossier fake news, but also CNN's reporting about its
Reporting that CNN is, of course, still supporting and stands by. At his news conference yesterday, Trump did accept U.S. intelligence findings that
Russia was behind election-related hacking.
U.S. senators are now getting a closed-door briefing on those cyber-attacks this hour. Let's get more from senior political reporter, Manu Raju.
First, Manu, let's start with the reaction to this reporting that circulated now over the last 48 hours about the existence of this dossier,
what was shown to President-elect Donald Trump. The fallout continues, doesn't it?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It does, indeed. Particularly among Democrats who are very concerned about what they're seeing here.
Some Democrats in Congress actually calling for an investigation, a deeper dive into whether or not any of these allegations true and whether or not
the Russians have any information that could compromise the president- elect.
But Republicans, on the other hand, are being a little bit more delicate. They're saying that they're more critical than Donald Trump is on Vladimir
Putin and on Russia, but they're also saying that a lot of these allegations are unfair and unsubstantiated.
And some already saying that we should investigate the press, instead of the actual substance of the allegation. So, you're seeing a difference in
the responses, but clearly, both sides concerned about what's happening with Russia and the fact that the possibility they may have some
GORANI: And two very different sets of reactions. Before I get to that closed-door meeting with, the CIA director and nominee, Mike Pompeo,
Representative Mike Pompeo, was asked specifically about Russia and Donald Trump. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are unsubstantiated media reports that there were contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians. If confirmed, will
you commit to exploring those questions?
[15:05:05]And if you find there is validity to those allegations, refer the information that you discovered to the FBI?
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I want to make clear that I share your view that these are unsubstantiated allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I emphasize that.
POMPEO: I understand. I want to make sure --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are very serious allegations.
POMPEO: Look. There are a number of very serious things that have taken place. The leaks that have occurred, as well, I consider to be intensely
serious, too. And I think Director Clapper's statement from last night or this morning about his concern about these leaks is worthy as well. But to
your question more directly, I promise I will pursue the facts wherever they take us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And Manu, there you have it, as well. The nominee saying the leaks appear to be more of a concern than perhaps anything contained in
that set of unsubstantiated, unconfirmed facts in that report.
RAJU: And you're hearing that being sort of the line that Republicans are starting to take, including the CIA director. Now, he's also saying -- Mr.
Pompeo is also saying that he would look into the substance of the allegations, trying to appease some of those critics, like Angus King, who
is a Democrat who sides with the Democrats here on Capitol Hill, even though he's an independent, trying to make sure that he will look into
those allegations. But also siding with Donald Trump, who's raising concerns about those leaks.
GORANI: Well, certainly, we're still hearing about it. We're still talking about it. It's still a topic of discussion, but regarding hacking
and Russia, what do we know about what is a closed-door hearing right now on Capitol Hill?
RAJU: Yes. Right now, actually, all senators, 100 of them, are meeting behind closed doors in a classified setting to hear from senior
intelligence officials about exactly what the intelligence community knows about what Russia did, allegedly, during the election season.
Now, they're going to go into more detail than what we know publicly from that declassified report last week that showed Vladimir Putin alleging that
he authorized a cyber-campaign against Hillary Clinton.
We'll see if they learn more details, because a lot of members of Congress have not been read into the full extent of what happened here, but we'll
see what they have to say after their hearing this afternoon -- Hala.
GORANI: OK, Manu Raju, thanks very much. He's live in Washington. Another major political story developing in just the last hour. The FBI
and Justice Department will face a probe over how they handled the Clinton e-mail investigation.
We're going back several months now. You'll remember Hillary Clinton's use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state became a big,
a huge issue during the campaign. Now an internal watchdog will review the actions of FBI and justice officials.
It will examine whether parts of their investigation were, quote, "improper." So you have that going on, as well, but that's looking back.
Let's take a look forward at the topics of discussion in Washington. The subject of Russian cyber-attacks.
Coming up once again during the confirmation hearings for Trump's pick for U.S. defense secretary, Retired General James Mattis, pinpointed Russian
aggression as a major threat to the U.S. Listen to this exchange with the chairman of the committee, Republican John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), CHAIRMAN, SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The list goes on and on, of the atrocities that have been committed by Vladimir
Putin, while we again try a reset as -- I've watched three presidents commit themselves to a new relationship with Vladimir Putin. All three
have been an abysmal failure. Should we ignore the lessons of history in our relationship with Vladimir Putin and what should we be doing?
GENERAL JAMES MATTIS (RETIRED), U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: Chairman, history is not a strait jacket, but I've never found a better guide for the
way ahead than studying history. Since Yalta, we've had a long list of times we've tried to engage positively with Russia.
We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard and I think right now, the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of
what we deal with, with Mr. Putin.
And we recognize that he is trying to break the north Atlantic alliance, and we take the steps, the integrated steps, diplomatic, economic,
military, and the alliance steps, the working with our allies to defend ourselves where we must.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: James Mattis there. Those are his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. Let's go to Phil Mattingly. He joins me now live. I find
it interesting that many of the nominees, over the last few days, there's been a lot of daylight between some of the things they've said in their
testimony and what President-elect Donald Trump said during the campaign.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Hala, and look, to some degree, that's intentional. When you talk to the team that was
preparing these nominees for these hearings, they were one, very cognizant of the fact that they had a lot of people on the foreign policy side of
things that were concerned.
And not just Democrats, which I think everybody expects, but Republicans as well. And two, they felt like it was necessary to show some of that
daylight to assuage some of those corresponds.
[15:10:06]You probably didn't see as good an example with anybody else as did with James Mattis today during that hearing. And I think, Hala, one of
the important points here, there's a particular reason why James Mattis is to respected on Capitol Hill and why his confirmation is expected to cruise
when the full Senate votes on it.
And it's his willingness to take positions like that during these hearings. There's an expectation he'll do the same thing if he is, when he is
confirmed to be Trump's defense secretary. That's why you're seeing bipartisan support.
That's why lawmakers are probably more enthused about his cabinet nomination than perhaps any other.
GORANI: All right, and as you say, it's expected to go through. Thanks very much, Phil Mattingly, in Washington.
The confirmation hearings are far from over. The man tipped to be Trump's secretary of state is already facing an uncertain future. We'll be looking
at why senators are vowing some of them to reject Rex Tillerson. We'll discuss that later in the program.
Let's take the temperature on how these confirmation hearings are going from the perspective of a man who supported Donald Trump for a very long
time during the campaign.
Randy Evans is an attorney and a member of the Republican National Committee and he's from the state of Georgia, happens to be in London, so
we invited him on the program.
Now let's talk a little bit about these hearings, these nominees clearly on different pages at the times with the president-elect. Let me just go
through some of the lists here.
On Russia, for instance, Mattis, U.S. support for NATO members, not conditional on their financial contributions. We know Donald Trump during
the campaign cast some doubt about that.
Mike Pompeo disagrees with the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, a.k.a., torture, like waterboarding. There are a lot of differences of
RANDY EVANS, RNC COMMITTEE MEMBER: Yes, I'm not sure I agree with you there. I think you're actually finding that middle balance between the
two. The balance between being too friendly and not friendly enough.
If you have suddenly the president-elect were to say, we're going to be hostile to Russia, everybody would accuse him of triggering a new arms race
or a new global warm. If he's too friendly then he's too cozy.
What you literally saw with both Mr. Tillerson and General Mattis is that middle balance, which is a recognition that Russia is, indeed, a threat.
It is the most serious threat --
GORANI: That's not what we heard from Donald Trump at all. We have tweets from him praising Vladimir Putin for being a smart man. He even said so
when he didn't reciprocate with any diplomatic tit for tat measures after President Obama sent 35 diplomats home.
EVANS: I think there's a big difference between calling somebody smart and saying that, in fact, you trust them. There's a big difference between
saying he has been an effective leader for the Russian people and saying that he should be an effective leader for the world. Donald Trump is
recognized, repeatedly, that it's a threat, he's going to treat it as a real threat --
GORANI: When did he recognize that? I can't remember a single time Donald Trump has said anything negative about Vladimir Putin, tweeted it or said
it. Is there a time that I missed something?
EVANS: You did miss something because there's a difference between the response to Russia and the response to the individual who occupies that
office and how we would respond to Russia and I think Mr. Tillerson made the point with regard to the invasion of Crimea.
I think General Mattis made it with response to NATO. Repeatedly, there's been this balance to say, you're not going to pitch us into a box to say,
if I'm too friendly to him, that maybe I should -- I'm cozying up and I'm not sufficiently strong.
I could guarantee you this. Donald F. Trump will be stronger against Russia than Hillary Clinton would have ever been and the American people
know that and the rest of the world know that.
GORANI: Well, I mean, there's been some doubt about that, actually, because of the fact that you're saying that there are times, but let's get
off this point. But that there are times that Donald Trump has said things that were negative about Vladimir Putin. I don't remember a time --
EVANS: Said things that were directly confirmatory of the fact that Russia is a threat, separating Russia from the leader, who he agrees is a smart
leader, who has been an aggressive leader, and taken advantage of President Obama's weakness, including the annexation of Crimea.
GORANI: All right. Let's talk about the press conference yesterday, his first news conference since the summer of 2016. Are you comfortable with
the fact that the man you supported, who's now president-elect, is not taking questions from journalists, just because he's unhappy about a report
he saw on their network? Are you OK with that and should that happen when he's in the White House?
EVANS: Well, listen. For a candidate, where we had before the Democratic nominee who didn't have press conferences and for this president --
GORANI: But we're not talking about Hillary Clinton now. We're talking about a news conference a few days before the inauguration.
EVANS: You're right. I'm just giving a little context.
EVANS: With the context of who was the Democratic nominee and who will be the next president of the United States, who agrees to a press conference
before his inauguration to answer questions from a crowded press room, from every media source, except for the one who he had questions about.
And he called them out for it and I would rather have a president who's going to be honest with you, who's going to raise questions than a
president who wouldn't, who would just kind of smooth over the edges ignore it. He directly raised the issue. He did it in a very direct way.
GORANI: But should he act this way in the White House? He said, I don't like you, no question. I like you, you can ask me a question.
[15:15:03]EVANS: We have two different jobs to do. One job is the job of the media and I think CNN is doing its job. I think it's asking the right
questions, many times. I think sometimes it's asking the wrong questions, but it's not my judgment. I think they're doing their job.
He has a different job to do, which is to lead the American people and make America great again. I think he's trying to do that job to the best he
can. Sometimes that involves filtering and it does involve filtering who you're going to respond to, especially when you have your own questions
about the credibility of the news organization at stake.
GORANI: All right. The conflict of interest question. So much criticism out there about that. His sons will run his business, his empire, in a
trust. But you know as well as anybody else, I mean, how do you -- how do you make that work?
How do you have the Trump Organization, owes money to Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bank is in talks with the Justice Department, the Justice
Department will be headed by a man Donald Trump has nominated. There's just almost no way, is there?
EVANS: There's no way that a sitting president doesn't affect their own financial interests in the future. No matter what --
GORANI: But even in the president?
EVANS: There's no way that a sitting president doesn't affect their own financial interests, both present and future. Look at how much money
President Obama and Mrs. Obama made --
GORANI: I don't think you can make that comparison.
EVANS: That's a fair comparison. If you look at the fact that the things that you do, the speeches you give, the causes you've support, the books
that you write, all of that -- if you authored a single book, a single book before you became president, you inevitably are going to boost the sales of
GORANI: All right. Randy Evans, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate your take. We'll have a very different point of view after the
break. We'll be speaking to Robert Reich, a man who was labor secretary under Clinton. More on Trump's plans to avoid his conflicts of interest
come under attack. We will be speaking to Robert Reich after a quick break. So do stay with us.
GORANI: The man tapped to be the next American secretary of state is now facing an uncertain future. Some senators signal they may vote against Rex
Tillerson after a rocky confirmation hearing Wednesday. Listen to how he struggled to reassure members of Trump's own party about his close
relationship with Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: I would not use that term.
RUBIO: Based on all this information and what's publicly in the record about what's happened in Aleppo and the Russian military, you are still not
prepared to say that Vladimir Putin and his military have violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in Aleppo?
TILLERSON: Now, those are very, very serious charges to make, and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Tillerson spent years at the helm of oil giant, ExxonMobil. Lawmakers grilled him about allegations the company once lobbied against
U.S. government sanctions on Russia. Under oath, Tillerson denied any involvement. But then Democrats produced disclosure records that seemed to
contradict that that Exxon had, in fact, lobbied.
[15:20:10]CNN's Elise Labott joins me live from Washington with more on this. What's the word in D.C. about whether or not Rex Tillerson's
confirmation has suffered as a result of what was said on Capitol Hill today during this hearing?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, I think that the transition really thought that Rex Tillerson was going to hit it out of
the park and really charm the committee. And that they would get some contentious questions, but I don't think they were expecting the hearing
that they got.
And some of the senators said they didn't think that Rex Tillerson was really prepared for some of the questions. Because in that particular
exchange you just heard about Vladimir Putin being a war criminal, about Russia's actions in Aleppo, Senator Rubio kind of countered back, listen,
these are things in the public record.
When he was asked about Russia, Vladimir Putin's political opponents miraculous ending up dead, he said, well, I don't really know anything
about that. And again, Rubio said, these are things that are in the public record.
So whether it was that or questions about Mexico and Senator Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the committee, was asking about that, about Cuba, they
didn't think he was really prepared.
I think the real main holdout on the committee right now is Marco Rubio, who, you know, look, you can't forget, he was a presidential candidate
against Donald Trump. It was a very bitter campaign between the two.
So you can't leave politics out of it. But I do think that Senator Rubio had some very serious concerns about the answers that he was hearing from
Mr. Tillerson, and that he didn't feel that he was satisfied.
Now, that doesn't mean that it would tank his nomination entirely. There are some Democratic senators who want to perhaps vote for him. They think
that President-elect Trump deserves some latitude on his appointments. They're worried about an alternative, perhaps.
You saw some of the other candidates like John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani. This would be actually preferable to that. And then there is also
procedural things that could get him to the full House, full Senate vote, but he does have opposition there from Republicans.
Key votes like Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator John McCain so it's not even a done deal. I think the expectation is that he will move through, but
it's not going to be smooth sailing -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, Elise Labott.
Let's take a look at our breaking news story we mentioned near the top of the hour. News today that the FBI and Justice Department are going to face
a probe over how they handled their investigation into the Clinton e-mail server.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, has more from Washington. What exactly does this mean?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So we've learned today, Hala, that the Justice Department's internal watchdog, the inspector general,
will be launching this probe into the FBI and Department of Justice's handling of the Hillary Clinton private e-mail server and the actions that
were taken before the election.
There are a number of allegations that the inspector general will be investigating, including how the FBI handled the public disclosures of the
investigation. As we know, the director of the FBI broke with president on a couple of occasions.
Back in July, he held this press conference, announcing that the investigation was closed. There wasn't enough evidence to prosecute.
However, he went on to say that Hillary Clinton was careless and irresponsible in her handling of classified information.
Typically, the FBI doesn't talk publicly about anything if the person is not prosecuted. If the investigation is closed. So this was a break in
precedent, including that letter that was sent before the election by James Comey, the director of the FBI, saying that in essence, the investigation
would be reopened, because of new information that came to light.
That also was against DOJ policy because it was so close to an election and policy is not to go public with politically sensitive information so close
to an election. At the time, James Comey said he felt like he had the -- he owed it to Congress to write that letter, because he said he would keep
them apprised of any developments in that investigation.
It was harshly criticized at the time. The inspector general will be looking at that allegation as well, including other disclosures by DOJ and
And I just want to wrap this up by saying a couple of the other allegations involved the FBI deputy director, Andy McCabe, and whether he should have
recused himself from this investigation, because his wife was running for public office.
And it was revealed that Clinton supporters had donated to her race and so that's something that is also going to be looked at. Andy McCabe joined
the investigation after she lost the race, but they were strongly criticized for not -- for having him part of it, given the circumstances.
And also, the inspector general will be looking at communications between a DOJ employee and John Podesta, about the Clinton e-mail server, before the
[15:25:05]This DOJ employee had been his lawyer years past and was telling him -- giving him a heads up about a hearing involving the investigation.
But at the time, people said it was improper, and perhaps a conflict of interest for there to be any communication between the Clinton camp and
Department of Justice.
I should mention, as I wrap this up, Hala, that this probe is a result of calls from Republicans and Democrats on the Hill, who have, you know,
blamed the FBI and DOJ of impropriety for different reasons.
And so we know today, the watchdog will be looking into these allegations and it's unclear how long this investigation will take -- Hala.
GORANI: Right. Absolutely. And what could the possible consequences be? Tom Fuentes, our senior law enforcement analyst joins me now live from
Washington, as well.
I mean, this is an internal investigation, essentially, into the agencies, we're talking about the FBI and the Justice Department. This is looking
back at what happened several months ago. Tom, what could the consequences be if wrongdoing or negligence or whatever is, emerges as something that
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that will be interesting, Hala, whether they could refer charges to or recommendations
for charges to the Department of Justice or, you know, initiate more hearings with Congress.
But technically, the inspector general is not really part of the Department of Justice. It's an independent body that they were set up for all of the
cabinet positions in the government, so that internal investigations could be conducted and not be influenced by the current head of those.
So you have a State Department inspector general that does not answer to the secretary of state. Defense Department that does not answer to that
secretary. So, that's the same with the inspector general.
So, they will be investigating the FBI, the way this investigation was conducted, the Department of Justice, as Pamela mentioned, various aspects
of that part of the investigation.
And then, subsequent to the announcement July 5th, the announcement itself, that the FBI recommended no charges, just, there's a number of things that
will be under investigation and, for my mind, the investigation of the investigation, is going to take longer than the original investigation.
There is a lot on the table for this.
GORANI: I'm sure. And we don't know how long it will take. I'm sure the Clinton camp, though, is wishing, perhaps, that this discussion had
happened a little bit earlier. Thanks very much --
FUENTES: Well, they should be careful what they wish for, because we don't know what else will be revealed, as a result of this new investigation. So
I think everybody is going to be a little bit nervous about what the outcome of this inquiry is going to be.
GORANI: That's very true. Tom Fuentes, we always appreciate it. Pamela Brown, our justice correspondent, in Washington. Thanks to both of you.
FUENTES: Thank you, Hala.
GORANI: Up next on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are attacking our --
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: No, not you! Not you. Your organization's terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're attacking our organization --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Donald Trump's rocky relationship with the media that took the spotlight in an exchange with you our own reporter. We'll be right back.
[15:30:27] GORANI: Breaking this hour, we've been discussing this over the last several minutes. The FBI and Justice Department will face a probe
over how they handled the investigation into the Clinton e-mail server. They came up for criticism about how they dealt with the probe, which was a
major issue on the campaign trail.
Officials never did recommend charges against Clinton but did suggest that she had acted inappropriately. Now, a watchdog is going to examine whether
the agency's actions were wrong on any level.
Let's get back to the next president, Donald Trump. He says he has an airtight plan to avoid conflicts of interest as president. But for one of
Washington's top ethics officials, it's simply not good enough.
Under the plan, the President-elect will resign as head of the Trump Organization. His business holdings will be placed into a trust, but they
will be controlled by his two adult sons. The Trump Organization will not enter into new deals in foreign countries while Trump is in office, and
Trump vowed that his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, will not discuss business with him. But the Director of the Office of Government Ethics says Trump's
plan is wholly inadequate and that it breaks with the process followed by presidents over the last four decades.
Let's discuss this issue, among others, with Robert Reich. He's a former U.S. Labor Secretary and a professor at the University of California
Berkeley. He's also the author of "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few."
Thank you, Mr. Reich, for being with us. You wrote a piece that was published yesterday, warning signs of tyranny. You had 15 warning signs.
Some of them -- turn the public against journalists, threaten mass deportations, registries of minorities, put generals in top civilian posts.
Essentially, you're referring to things Donald Trump, you say, has done. Do you think the President-elect will act as a tyrant?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: Well, I don't know. He's not going to be President for another eight days.
I hope not, but there, certainly, is room for concern. The way he handled his press conference yesterday, picking the people, the reporters, that he
would answer on the basis of whether he liked what they've reported in the past and whether their news outlets had been appropriate and had given him
adequate respect, also filling the room with his paid staffer members who applauded him and jeered at the reporters, demeaning and disparaging the
press and members of the press, calling the press dishonest over and over again.
These are the kind of things and habits that tyrants and despots have used when they take over democratic governments. I'm not saying Donald Trump is
a tyrant, but we will see. I'm troubled by some of this pattern.
GORANI: But if he continues to act this way, I mean, if he continues to single out reporters or, you know, do these sorts of things that you say
are things that tyrants do when he's in the White House, at that point, what would your level of concern be?
REICH: Well, I would obviously be more concerned. It's not just his treatment of the press. It's also putting relatives into high places
despite the anti-nepotism law. It's having his own private security guards, not the Secret Service.
It's also, generally, disregarding a lot of laws and democratic institutions that we've built up such as, for example, not having a blind
trust. Every president, for decades, has put assets into a blind trust. Donald Trump, I mean, he's the richest president by far we've had, and for
his refusal to do that does raise questions of public trust.
GORANI: Yes Now, Randy Evans, who's his supporter says, look, every president benefits in some way or another, either in the present or in the
future, based on the actions that they take while in office. For instance, Barack Obama wrote a book. He got royalties for that. He was comparing
the business interests of Donald Trump with, for instance, the royalties that were collected by Barack Obama. How do you react to that?
REICH: Well, that's ridiculous. It's entirely different because Barack Obama did not have holdings and does not have holdings around the world.
Donald Trump says he has $8 billion worth of holdings around the world. We don't know very much.
Barack Obama also filed tax disclosures and has continued to disclose his tax returns. Donald Trump never filed a tax disclosure. We have no idea,
for example, of Donald Trump's debts, to whom he owes money and how much he owes, not only in the United States but around the world, including the
Kremlin. Including the oligarchs around Putin.
[15:35:05] This lack of information, fundamental lack of information, combined with a failure to put all of his assets in a blind trust that
would be overseen by a neutral arbitrator, a kind of trustee who is independent of Donald Trump, raises huge and they are ethical problems but
they're also prudential problems about how a President should behave in a democracy.
GORANI: You've actually called on people to resist the Donald Trump presidency. How?
REIGH: Well, peacefully resist. And what people ought to be doing and what I keep urging people to do is to make sure their members of Congress
know how they feel about all of these infringements on our democracy. Make sure their members of Congress know that those members of Congress will be
held accountable. Make sure that even though Republicans are in charge of Congress, they understand their constitutional responsibilities with regard
to a President. They are the checks and balance.
We have separation of powers in this country, and we're relying on the House and the Senate to constrain Donald Trump from any of these tendencies
that I've talked about toward anti-democratic actions.
GORANI: But he hasn't, from campaign Donald Trump to President-elect Donald Trump, changed one bit in his approach and how he communicates over
Twitter and how he signals for a policy change or proposal, also over social media. Do you have any expectation that this will change when he
REICH: I don't have a lot of expectation this will change. Now, I have been in and around. I've been in the White House. I've worked for four
separate presidents. I've worked closely with three presidents.
I've seen that the White House does have a moderating influence on presidents, but we've never had a president like Donald Trump before. Not
only without any public experience, but also with the kind of -- let me be very, very frank about it -- the narcissistic tendencies and also the mean-
spiritedness that Donald Trump has shown. The thin-skinned vindictiveness that he has shown in terms of those tweets, I mean, when somebody
Where before have we had a President who turns around and criticizes the people who criticized him personally and directly, not just obviously
through tweets -- we haven't had Twitter all that long -- but through direct personal disparagement? I don't recall anything like that before.
Let's not normalize what's about to happen. I'm not paid by CNN. I'm completely independent. I'm a university professor. But I was appalled
when Donald Trump yesterday kind of said to CNN and the CNN reporter there that, I'm not going to answer you because CNN promotes junk news. Well,
that's absurd! That is a public disservice.
Donald Trump, in eight days, is going to be working for us. He is going to be a public servant. We're not working for him. He can't fire us. He
can't tell us what to do. He is a public servant for us. We can fire him. And we will fire him in four years, certainly, if he doesn't do what he is
supposed to do and respect democratic institutions.
GORANI: Robert Reich, thanks very much for coming on, the former Labor Secretary. We appreciate your time on the program this evening. Thank
REICH: Thank you.
GORANI: Donald Trump is furious about the dossier that makes unsubstantiated claims about him and his relationship with Russia. He's
not only blasting a media outlet that published the entire dossier, but also CNN, which never reported on the allegations themselves. We said only
that a summary was included in Trump's briefing by intelligence officials last week, which we stand by.
Intel chief James Clapper has now confirmed that in a statement. Nevertheless, Trump's fury was on full display when he refused to take a
question from Jim Acosta at a news conference yesterday. Here's a reminder of what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Since you are attacking our news organization --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, not you. Not you.
ACOSTA: -- can you give us a chance?
TRUMP: Your organization's terrible.
ACOSTA: You're attacking our news organization --
TRUMP: Your organization's terrible.
ACOSTA: -- can you give us a chance to ask you a question, sir?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
ACOSTA: Sir, can you state --
TRUMP: Quiet. Quiet.
ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you state categorically --
TRUMP: Go ahead. She's asking a question. Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Since you're attacking us, can you give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be rude. I'm not going to give you a --
ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: I'm not going to give you a question.
ACOSTA: Sir, can you state categorically --
TRUMP: You are fake news.
ACOSTA: Sir, can you state categorically that nobody --
ACOSTA: No, Mr. President-elect, that's not appropriate.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: CNN's Anderson Cooper later pressed a top Trump adviser on what exactly she believed was inaccurate in CNN's reporting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm trying to figure out from you --
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: Well, here's what America think.
COOPER: -- what you can say about what is true and what is not, and you cannot take issue with any specific that we have reported. I've yet to
hear you say, specifically, that is not true.
CONWAY: It's not true. And here is what --
[15:40:00] COOPER: It's not true that those were the briefing documents?
CONWAY: Here is what is true.
COOPER: It's not true that those --
CONWAY: Here is what is true.
COOPER: It's not true that was in any of the briefing documents? You're saying that categorically? And how do you know that?
CONWAY: It's true that you have no evidence of it other than unnamed sources. You don't have the briefing documents. That's what's true
because they would not have access to the briefing documents and you know it.
COOPER: Well, you don't who the sources are. But we have multiple sources and, again, this is something also that "The New York Times" --
CONWAY: Tell them to come forward. Tell them they can have this chair any time. Tell them to come forward. Why are they unnamed sources?
COOPER: Again, this is a red herring. You're just --
CONWAY: Who are they protecting? Except Democrats --
COOPER: It's like you've got bright --
CONWAY: -- offices. No, innocence --
COOPER: You're trying to distract from my question, which is, you do not have information whether it's true or not.
CONWAY: Anderson, you can use words like pivot, distract, red herring all you want. The fact is that the media have a 16 percent approval rating for
a reason. It's been earned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's bring in Dylan Byers, a senior media and politics reporter for CNN. Four years, at least, possibly longer, of, I think, incidents
like this that everyone expect will now happen pretty regularly. This is really a new era.
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: Yes, that's absolutely right. And that interview last night between Anderson Cooper
and Kellyanne Conway, which lasted almost 30 minutes, 30 minutes of my life that I'll never get back, was -- look, Anderson Cooper did a masterful job.
He continued to ask her questions and to call her to account for things she was saying that were just fundamentally not true. She, however, continued
to just stonewall and continued to say things that weren't true.
And at the end of that 30-minute conversation, you know, you just have to sort of agree to disagree and leave it up to the viewers. And, yes, that
is what we're looking at for the next four years. There is no indication that Trump or his Cabinet or his aides intend to do anything differently
than what you saw there in that interview.
And frankly, you know, Kellyanne Conway's response, this sort of suggestion that somehow CNN had done what BuzzFeed had done, that CNN had published
things that it could not verify, none of that is true. And to continue to say that again and again and again, which is what Trump and his
GORANI: And tweet it.
BYERS: -- Sean Spicer did, and tweet it.
BYERS: And that is their approach to the media. And it is politically strategic --
GORANI: But so how do you --
BYERS: -- but it's disingenuous.
GORANI: But how do you then cover that White House? How do you cover that White House as a reporter?
BYERS: Right. And, look, this is the question that I think every one of our colleagues is wrestling with right now. Ultimately, what it comes down
to is, how are viewers going to be affected?
Will their come a breaking point at which viewers will look and say, you know what, the reason Donald Trump is going after CNN, the reason he's
going after the media, is because he's trying to discredit the media because the media is raising questions about his conflicts of interest,
about things that he has said he's going to do that he's not doing, about things that he's doing that seem to go against the very grain of the
American democratic project?
BYERS: The question is, when can you convince those viewers?
GORANI: But you're on social media, Dylan. This would be my natural follow up to that. You're on social media and you can see for yourself how
many people fundamentally believe this now because this is somehow -- the seed was planted, the plant has grown. There's a large portion, not just
in the United States, internationally, of people who will continue to retweet this fake news stuff, which is just absolutely untrue.
GORANI: Yet, somehow, it's just kind of, like, at some point, it gains traction just because of the number of times that it's repeated.
BYERS: Right. And look, I think that goes deeper than media. I think we in the media are sort of looking to see what can the media do differently.
What has the media done wrong? How can we reestablish this trust?
I hate to say it and I hate to sound pessimistic, I feel as though we've reached a point at which the fundamental underlying, basically, the
principles of like rational society, wherein you can agree on facts and agree on rational thinking, that those are sort of gone out the window.
And there's an idea that somehow because the media has been portrayed -- and it's played its own roll in sort of earning this portrayal.
The media is portrayed as being aligned with a sort of cultural, global elite that is working against the interests of the American middle class.
I think that has pulled out all level of trust among many of Trump's supporters. And in terms of how we get that back and how we establish it,
I don't know. You know, I think we have to continue to --
GORANI: But there are fair criticisms and then --
BYERS: -- hold this administration --
GORANI: And then there are lies. I mean, there's a big difference between the two. And how do you respond to, you know, lies about the work that you
do that are constantly being repeated?
BYERS: And how do you make the American people care about the fact that their political leaders are lying? I think that is the question, and it's
an unanswered question.
GORANI: All right, Dylan Byers. We'll have many opportunities to discuss this. Thanks very much.
By the way, a face that will be familiar to many of our viewers was spotted at Trump Tower today. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's National
Front, can be seen here. She was seated at a table in the public area of Trump Tower.
[15:45:09] Trump's Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, said Le Pen would not be meeting with Trump or anyone else from his team. So unclear why she is
having a coffee, obviously, at Trump Tower.
Le Pen is expected to be one of the front-runners in France's presidential election later this year. She's expressed admiration for the President-
elect in many of the interviews we've done with her.
Still to come, Russia lashes out over the claims in an intelligence dossier. We'll have a live report from Moscow. Reaction from Russia,
GORANI: Russia is once again rejecting the contents of an unsubstantiated dossier about the President-elect. Before a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
says the so-called memos contain, quote, "unfounded accusations." Fred Pleitgen joins me now live from Moscow with more reaction.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. You know, I was at a press conference today by Maria
Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry.
And she also said that she felt that the release of these unsubstantiated report was also political. And she felt that it was there to damage future
relations between Russia and the incoming Trump administration. She also said, and I quote, "The document, whose main goal was to complicate the
process of normalizing relations with Russia for the new team, does not contain any serious evidentiary basis. All these are unfounded
And, you know, one of the interesting things that we've been following here in Moscow is that some of the people who are supposed to be in the new
Trump administration, like Rex Tillerson, like General Mattis, they've been saying some fairly critical things about Russia. And then, of course,
Hala, you also had Donald Trump who, for the first time, came forward in his press conference yesterday and said that he believed that Russia was
behind the hacking of the DNC.
But the Russians themselves still continue to be positive and say, look, we're not going to let that get in the way of potentially better relations.
In fact, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin said, "Indeed, Moscow hopes that our presidents will get along. At least Mr. Trump was talking
about his readiness to have a dialogue."
So they're continuing to be quite positive about the incoming Trump administration despite the fact that we have heard some more critical
voices coming out of Washington.
GORANI: Yes. And we also heard from Rex Tillerson. It's a fair assumption, he said --
GORANI: -- this is the nominee for Secretary of State -- that Putin was behind the hacks. You had an opportunity to speak with a cyber expert, a
cybersecurity expert, about this whole hacking thing. What did he say?
PLEITGEN: Yes. Well, exactly. And, you know, the thing that we were mostly interested in is, how does something like this work? How would a
Russian government entity go about something like this? And we spoke to one of the premiere cyber journalists here in Russia, and here's what he
had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:50:01] PLEITGEN (voice-over): The U.S. intelligence community says it's certain Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee servers on
orders from Vladimir Putin, aiming to help Donald Trump win the presidency. I sat down with one of Russia's premiere cyber journalists, Andrei
Soldatov, co-author of the book, "The Red Web." His assessment is clear.
ANDREI SOLDATOV, CO-AUTHOR, "THE RED WEB": Well, I think that the Kremlin was involved. And given the background and the history of all cyber
offensive launched by the Kremlin over the last, say, 10 years, at least since 2007, it looks very plausible to me.
PLEITGEN: The Putin administration has vehemently denied claims that it's behind the hacking attacks, calling the assessments absurd and, quote, "a
witch hunt." But Andrei Soldatov says the Kremlin often turns to private cyber security firms to carry out similar operations.
SOLDATOV: They have this mark that they usually are not directly sponsored by the state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: We're going to break into this report and take you live to the White House. President Barack Obama is giving his Vice President, Joe
Biden, a special sendoff. Let's listen in.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- time that I have doubted the wisdom of that decision. He was the best possible choice, not just for
me but for the American people. This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service. This is somebody the people of
Delaware sent to the Senate as quickly as they possibly could.
OBAMA: Elected at age 29, for more than a dozen years apiece, he served as chair or ranking member of the Judiciary and Foreign Relation Committees.
Domestically, he championed landmark legislation to make our communities safer, to protect our women from violence. Internationally, his wisdom and
capacity to build relationships has shaped our nation's response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, to counterterrorism, Iraq,
And for the past eight years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we've made. He fought to make
college more affordable and revitalized American manufacturing as the head of our Middle Class Task Force. He suited up for our Cancer Moonshot,
giving hope to millions of Americans touched by this disease.
He led our efforts to combat gun violence. And he rooted out any possible misappropriations that might have occurred, and as a consequence, the
Recovery Act worked as well as just about any large-scale stimulus project has ever worked in this country. He visited college after college, and
made friends with Lady Gaga for our "It's on Us" campaign against campus sexual assault.
And when the Pope visited, Joe was even kind enough to let me talk to the Holiness as well.
OBAMA: Behind the scenes, Joe's candid, honest counsel has made me a better President and a better Commander-in-Chief. From the situation room
to our weekly lunches to our huddles after everybody else has cleared out of the room, he's been unafraid to give it to me straight. Even if we
disagree. In fact, especially when we disagree. And all of this makes him, I believe, the finest Vice President we have ever seen.
And I also think he has been a lion of American history. The best part is, he's nowhere close to finished. In the years ahead, as a citizen, he will
continue to build on that legacy internationally and domestically. He's got a voice of vision and reason and optimism and love for people, and
we're going to need that spirit and that vision as we continue to try to make our world safer and to make sure that everybody's got a fair shot in
So, all told, that's a pretty remarkable legacy, an amazing career in public service. It is, as Joe once said, a big deal.
OBAMA: It is!
OBAMA: But we all know that on its own, his work, this list of accomplishments, the amazing resume, does not capture the full measure of
Joe Biden. I have not mentioned Amtrak yet or aviators, literally.
[15:55:16] OBAMA: Folks don't just feel like they know Joe, the politician. They feel like they know the person. What makes him laugh,
what he believes, what he cares about, where he came from. Pretty much every time he speaks, he treats us to some wisdom from the nuns who taught
him in grade school or an old Senate colleague. But, of course, most frequently cited, Katherine and Joseph Senior, his mom and dad.
No one's better than you, but you're better than nobody.
Bravery resides in every heart and yours is fierce and clear.
And when you get knocked down, Joey, get up!
OBAMA: Get up!
OBAMA: Get up!
OBAMA: That's where he got those broad shoulders, that's where he got that Biden heart, and through his life, through trial after trial, he has never
once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is. That's what stills his faith in God and in America and in his friends and
in all of us.
When Joe talks to auto workers whose livelihoods he helped save, we hear the sound of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that
he had lost his job. When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so he
could be there to tuck his kids into bed.
When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young boy who used to stand in front of the mirror, reciting Yates or Emerson, studying the
muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter.
When Joe talks to Gold Star families who've lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit. Another father of an American veteran, somebody who's faith has
been tested and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself and who knows who to lean on to find the light.
So that's Joe Biden, a resilient and loyal and humble servant. And a patriot. But most of all, a family man.
It starts with Jill, captain of the vice squad.
OBAMA: Only the second lady in our history to keep her regular day job.
OBAMA: Jill says teaching isn't what she does, it's who she is. A few days after Joe and I were inaugurated in 2009, she was back in the
classroom teaching. That's why when our administration worked to strengthen community colleges, we looked to Jill to lead the way. She's
also travelled the world to boost education and empowerment for women.
And as a Blue Star mom, her work with Michelle to honor our military families will go down in history as one of the most lasting and powerful
efforts of this administration.
Of course, like Joe, Jill's work is only part of the story. She just seems to walk this earth so lightly. Spreads her joy so freely. And she reminds
us that although we're in a serious business, we don't have take ourselves too seriously. She's quick with a laugh of a practical joke, disguising
herself as a server at a party she once hosted.
OBAMA: To liven the mood. She once hid in the overhead compartment of Air Force 2 to scare the senior staff.
OBAMA: Because why not? And she seems to have a sixth sense of when to send a note of encouragement to a friend or a staffer, a simple thank you,
or a box of macaroons. She is one of the best, most genuine people that I've met, not just in politics but my entire life.
She is grounded and caring and generous and funny, and that's why Joe is proud to introduce himself as Jill Biden's husband. And to see them
together is to see what real love looks like, through thick and thin, good times and bad. It's an all-American love story. And Jill once surprised
Joe by painting hearts on his office windows for Valentine's Day.
And then there are these Biden kids and grandkids. They're everywhere.