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Intel Chiefs to Brief Trump, Pence on Russian Cyber Attacks; Obama Economy Creates Over 2 Million Jobs in 2016. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired January 6, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. President-elect Donald Trump coming face-to-face with intel chiefs he's been slamming for weeks.
The Director of National Intelligence, the heads of the FBI, CIA, and NSA will brief President-elect Trump on a new report detailing Russia's cyberattacks and meddling in the U.S. election. That includes intercepted conversations of Russian officials celebrating Trump's win, even congratulating each other. The classified report going as far as naming go-betweens that Russia used to deliver hacked DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks.
Our team is covering the story from every angle possible. We begin with, though, with CNN Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. He's in Washington.
Good morning, Evan.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that meeting today. But U.S. officials tell CNN that the U.S. has identified intermediaries who they believe provided WikiLeaks with the Democratic Party e-mails that were stolen by hackers working for Russian intelligence. Now, this is among the pieces of information that the top intelligence officials are expected to provide to Donald Trump today at a meeting in New York in the next couple hours, probably around 12:30.
Today is the first time that Trump is going to get this extensive intelligence report that looks at not only the Russian hacks of the Democratic Party groups this year or last year, but also cyber hacks going all the way back to 2008 in that election year. We're told by officials that the U.S. intelligence agencies also collected intercepts from Russian officials expressing happiness at Donald Trump's victory on November 8th. Now, the officials also say that the intercepts aren't considered smoking gun evidence against the Russians but rather it's part of a broader picture of evidence that they've put together.
Now, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Senators at a hearing in Washington yesterday that the intelligence agencies believe that the evidence points at Russia more resolutely than it did back in October when they first made the charge. We should note WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News this week that the Russian government was not his source, but it's also important to remember that the WikiLeaks says that it never knows its sources.
Carol, at this point, we expect that the plan right now is for the public to see the declassified version of this intelligence report next Monday.
COSTELLO: All right. We're eagerly awaiting results later this afternoon and also for the partial report on Monday. Evan Perez reporting live for us this morning. For more on Trump's meeting with top intelligence officials, let's go to Jason Carroll. He's live outside of Trump Tower.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning too, Carol. The meeting expected to take place at just about 12:30, just about 2 1/2 hours from now. The Vice President-elect expected to be in attendance as well. Top security officials from the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, also Director of National Intelligence will be present during the meeting. Seventeen intelligence agencies have already reached the conclusion that Russia was behind these cyberattacks. The question going forward, will Donald Trump believe it after this briefing as well?
Yesterday, Carol, during those Congressional hearings, it became very clear that his questioning of the intelligence community has really undermined the community, is hurting morale. Martin Dempsey, a former Chairman of Joint Chiefs weighed in on this issue. This is a man who has made a point throughout his career of staying out of the political debate on issues such as this. He weighed in on this, tweeting the following, "Intelligence is hard, thankless work. Fortunately, we have dedicated, patriotic and courageous men and women at the job. Thanks."
Kellyanne Conway, Trump's former campaign manager and current adviser to the President-elect, in a very contentious, if you will, interview on "NEW DAY" with our very own Chris Cuomo weighed in on this issue, defending Trump, saying that Trump is in no way being soft on Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: He's not sheltering Russia. And don't you say that again. He's not sheltering Russia.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How is he not?
CONWAY: What has this current President done vis-a-vis Russia for the last eight years that makes him tough? Name it. Tell me.
CUOMO: I don't understand how the legitimate answer to the question is to blame the current President.
CONWAY: No, I'm not blaming the current President. I'm asking you a question. All of a sudden, we're all frothing about Russia. I mean, what has he done? Do you think that President Obama's legacy vis-a- vis Russia is going to will be one of a tough guy? Is that accurate really? No, it's not. CUOMO: Let's say the legacy with Obama and Russia is the worst, it
couldn't be worst. How is President-elect Trump helping by ignoring Russia's roles in the hacks during the elections?
CONWAY: Oh, he's going to help because the Russians didn't want him elected. You know why? Because he has said very clearly during the campaign and now as President-elect that he is going to modernize our nuclear capability, that he is going to call for an increase in Defense budget, that he's going to have oil and gas exploration, all of which goes against Russia's economic and military interests. Donald Trump got elected in part because people want a tougher leader in the White House, a tougher Commander-in-Chief.
CUOMO: So --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: A lot of back and forth during that interview, Carol, as you just heard there. A bit of a surprise to some of Trump's critics who were somewhat encouraged by the development that former Senator Dan Coats has been basically tapped to replace Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. So a bit of encouraging news for some of Trump's critics there. Again, the meeting is scheduled to take place just at about 12:30, Carol.
[09:05:18] COSTELLO: All right. And we just got word that Mike Pence will also be taking part in that briefing along with Donald Trump. Can you tell us anymore about that?
CARROLL: Well, as I said in the beginning, yes, that the Vice President will also be in attendance as well. But, you know, as Evan Perez said, look, to be a fly on the wall during that meeting when he's going to be coming face-to-face with many of the agencies that he's been criticizing over the past few months, few weeks, is definitely going to be something that's going to be interesting to see what the outcome will be.
But, basically, what this comes down to, Carol, through all the back and forth is, at the end of the day, will the President-elect accept the findings of the intelligence community? And that's what we're waiting to find out.
COSTELLO: All right. Jason Carroll reporting live from Trump Tower. So let's talk about this and more. I'm joined by former Senior Bush Administration Official Brian Hook; the deputy director of congressional relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, Boris Zilberman; and former CIA counterterrorism official, Phil Mudd.
Welcome to all of you. OK. Let's dive right in, shall we?
Phil, Sean Spicer, Trump's spokesman, says Trump is prepared to listen during these intel briefings, but he will still have questions, for example, this one. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: There's a question that needs to get asked. The DNC is saying that the FBI never looked at their server. The FBI is saying that the DNC never gave them access to the server. The question is, regardless of who is right and who is wrong, if the server was never looked at, how do you, in the intelligence community, come to this conclusion? It's a fair question to ask.
I think he's going to ask questions like that, not questioning the intelligence but questioning how the conclusions were arrived at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: All right. By server, he means the Democratic National Committee didn't turn the server over to the FBI but instead had a trusted third party look into the server and then pass along that information to the FBI. Phil, what do you make of that?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think they're fair questions that the President-elect and the Vice President-elect should be asking. That's one. I think that's too tactical for a presidential-level conversation. There's a bigger question I believe they'll get into and that is the difference between solid information indicating that Russian-backed entities stole information and whether those hacks lead directly or indirectly back to the office of Vladimir Putin.
The question here is not, I think, these tactical issues of whether the DNC provided information. It's the big question of, if we're going into a situation where the President-elect is dealing with Congressional sanctions against Russia, how confident are we that Putin knew? And there, I think, the answer is tough for the intelligence community.
COSTELLO: OK. So, Brian, is that just a deflection, what Sean Spicer said? Is he just trying to make us all wonder why the Democrats would not turn their computers over to the FBI?
BRIAN HOOK, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION AFFAIR: I don't know if it's a deflection. I think looking that, looking at that segment with Kellyanne Conway, there is a real concern that Democrats are using the Russia issue as a proxy to contest the election or to undermine the result. And I think that perhaps there's some difficulty separating the security concerns from a lot of the political concerns.
I think that the hearings yesterday on the Hill were very productive. I think it's in everyone's interest to get to the bottom of it, but we're still in that pre-inaugural phase. And I think until we get past the inauguration, it's very hard to predict his policy is going to be on Russia.
COSTELLO: OK. So going back to that Congressional hearing yesterday, Boris, that whole hearing was meant to send a message to Donald Trump to trust the intelligence community, something former CIA Director Leon Panetta reinforced on the "Today" show this morning. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: The President has to work with the intelligence community. The President has got to make tough decisions. He cannot make those tough decisions without the very best intelligence that can be provided to him. I'm concerned that it really is damaging the credibility of our intelligence agencies and the morale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK. So you just heard Sean Spicer, right? Trump is still prepared to be skeptical, right? Has Trump put himself in this box that he can't get out of, that he's no longer able to say, you know, I trust whatever the intelligence agencies tell me?
BORIS ZILBERMAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY: I think you're going to see next week, with the confirmation hearings maybe, where they're able to kind of get a different group of his nominees basically to put out different policy positions potentially on Russia and kind of move the ball forward from this box that he may be in. But I think once he finds out exactly what the Russians did or did not do, how far they went, I think you'll maybe be able to see an opening next week during the confirmation hearings to move past this.
[09:10:09] COSTELLO: OK. So that is optimistic in some people's minds. So let's focus on the intelligence report itself. Phil, CNN is told there is no smoking gun, per se, but that top-level Russian officials were celebrating Trump's win and they have hardcore evidence of that. Kellyanne Conway this morning seemingly didn't believe they had such evidence. What do you say?
MUDD: I'm in the middle here. Look, suggesting that they don't have evidence, this is not speculative. This is intelligence professionals saying, we intercepted conversations. I don't know how she disputes that.
I think where the question comes in is, what difference does it make if someone celebrated the victory of one candidate or another? I want to get in the heat of a difficult intelligence conversation to the heart of the matter. Do we have solid information, whether that's from a human source and intercepted communication or elsewhere, that indicates the President's office in Russia was aware of, condoned, supported, backed this operation? All this other stuff is fluff, I think. I don't think it's particularly relevant.
COSTELLO: Well, Brian, do you think that the public will ever know the hardcore evidence that intelligence officials have about Russia, or will we just have to rely on what Mr. Trump imparts to us?
HOOK: There's always a challenge when the intelligence community wants to put forward, you know, proof of the claim because it compromises sources and methods. And so I doubt we're ever going to have, you know, the entire brief on it, but I think that, over time, we're going to learn more. I think that once the President-elect is sworn into office and takes a view of Russia from the Oval Office, it's going to be a very different view. And I think that, you know, he's going to be facing a Congress who's going to want to get to the bottom of it.
I think if we can get all the facts out and just follow the facts to wherever they may lead, it's good to avoid any future possibility of Russian interference in an election. And I do think there is a lot to be said for the eight years of weakness under President Obama inviting the kind of cyber aggression that we saw at the end of his presidency. We saw it with the China hack of the personnel files, federal files. And they certainly were put on notice that Russia wanted to do this, and they should have taken action much sooner to avoid any foreign interference in presidential elections.
COSTELLO: And I just want to follow up on that with you, Brian, because Kellyanne Conway said something else interesting this morning. She said the Russians did not want Mr. Trump to be president, and that's why she found it so hard to believe they were celebrating, because Mr. Trump is stronger on defense than President Obama was, and he talked about reinforcing our nuclear arsenal. And she says that Russia is actually more afraid of Mr. Trump than he ever would be of Mrs. Clinton.
HOOK: When you look at some of the policies he's taken, they would be -- or that he's talked about as something he wants to implement as President, whether it's on strengthening our nuclear capability, strengthening our defense, some of the energy issues. I think these are areas that are probably going to run counter to Russian interests.
But here is what we've seen over at least the last couple of presidencies, Republican or Democrat. When they come into office, they want to get on a good footing with Russia. And I think we generally give incoming presidents the benefit of the doubt on getting on a good footing, whether it's with our allies or our adversaries.
And so, he obviously has some plan to try to get a bilateral relationship with Russia that is functional. And until he's sworn in and starts to govern, we're not really going to know. It's just hard to extrapolate a foreign policy on the basis of tweets.
COSTELLO: OK. So, Boris, final question to you. So look into your crystal ball. Once President-elect Trump is inaugurated and he becomes President of the United States, will he and Congress be on the same page when it comes to Russia?
ZILBERMAN: I think they've got a long way to go. And I think within his own team, there's Russia hawks on his own national security team. And so what they decide to do as far as steps to try to engage the Russians and how they take the tact is going to be key in how this relationship plays out internally and with Congress.
COSTELLO: All right. It will be interesting. Brian Hook, Boris Zilberman, Phil Mudd, thanks to all of you.
The final jobs report of President Obama's tenure is in. The economy adding 156,000 jobs in December. CNN's business guru, Christine Romans, joins us now to parse the numbers.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And this is the final report of his presidency, and it's a solid end to the year. I'm going to show you what the numbers look like for the year. Overall, 2.2 million new jobs created. You can see in November that was revised. About 200,000 jobs created in November, 156 in December.
[09:15:00] This is what it looks like for the President's tenure, Carol. I went back over the numbers. And you look at the first year of his presidency, 5 million jobs vanished. Remember those terrible days? And then the next years were spent rebuilding. After that 5 million --
[09:15:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: In December.
This is what it looks like for the president's tenure, Carol. I went back over the numbers. You look at the first year of his presidency, five million jobs vanished. Remember those terrible days? And then the next years were spent rebuilding. After that five million loss, there were about 15 million jobs -- more than 15 million jobs created. So overall the president -- under this president, 11 million net new jobs created.
Let me show you the unemployment rate because that's a similarly dramatic reversal over the course of the last eight years. We got above 10 percent. And then finally now here at 4.7 percent. You might recall last month it was 4.6 percent. So why would the unemployment rate rise?
Carol, it rose because 184,000 people may have been more encouraged about the news they're hearing and have gotten off the sidelines and are now looking for a job. They're not counted in the labor market. And so that unemployment rate ticked up.
Let me show you where the jobs are. Health care, this has been unbelievable, the growth in health care. And these are jobs that span the wage spectrum. Food services, those tend to be lower paid jobs. But states have been raising their minimum wages, so those -- some states, they're now $1.00 an hour more there. Manufacturing, now kind a bit of a surprise, 17,000 increase last month in manufacturing.
When I look at the wage numbers overall for the end of the year, the fastest wage growth since 2009, so the economy, the labor market gathering some momentum, people starting to come off the sidelines, even the underemployment rate, that's a number that counts people who would likely working full time but aren't, that's even declining, too, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: So who should we credit this jobs report?
ROMANS: You know, I say that presidents get too much credit and too much blame for the economy. What I can tell you is this is better job creation than under George W. Bush before this administration. It's not as strong as it was under Bill Clinton. But remember under Bill Clinton the -- you know, the PC was on every desk, there's a big transformation there.
I think what we can say very fairly is that this economy is being handed to Donald Trump with a tail wind. He's going to have an economy that is growing here. There are millions of open jobs, several hundred thousand open manufacturing jobs right now. The discussion I'd like to hear a little bit more of is skills, matching people who are out of work to the jobs, the new collar jobs as the IBM CEO calls it. And maybe that's something we'll be hearing about soon.
COSTELLO: Christine Romans, thanks so much.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Donald Trump set to get the ball rolling on that big wall he promised during the campaign. But it turns out you may be footing the bill for it, at least for now.
[09:20:50] COSTELLO: Critics say Donald Trump is going back on a key campaign promise. Instead of having Mexico pay for that big, beautiful wall, his transition team is signaling it wants to fund the wall through the appropriations process in Congress, and that will happen in just a few months. That means you will pay for the wall, not Mexico, at least for now. That's a stark difference from what we heard on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Who is going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: By the way, 100 percent. That wall will go up so fast your head will spin. You'll say, you know, he meant it. You know what else I mean? Mexico is going to pay for the wall. We will build a great wall along the southern border and Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK. So but by October, just a few months after that, Trump did float the idea of a Mexico reimbursement payment. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Remember I said Mexico is paying for the wall. With the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall, OK? We're going to have the wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: All right. Let's talk about. With me, Javier Palomarez. He's the president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Welcome.
Good morning, Carol. How are you?
COSTELLO: I'm good. In light of what Mr. Trump said on October 22nd, should taxpayers be surprised that they will foot the bill for the wall at least for now?
JAVIER PALOMAREZ, PRESIDENT, U.S. HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Well, you know, I think again, as I've said before, we are now transitioning from the rhetoric of the campaign to the reality of the presidency. I think that the good news here is that it appears that Donald Trump, in fact, is beginning to deal with this issue as he's putting it front and center and dealing it -- dealing with it, you know, from the onset.
Unlike President Obama, I think what we're seeing here is a willingness to put this thing out there and begin to deal with this thorny, sometimes very emotional issue that has many facets to it. So he gets credit from me for wanting to deal with it right off -- you know, from the get-go.
COSTELLO: Right up front. From the get-go. But you really think that Mexico will reimburse the United States taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars?
PALOMAREZ: You know, I think that, first of all, we need to deal with the reality that the wall is not the panacea. It's not the final solution. It is the beginning of a comprehensive solution that needs to -- that needs to be put into place. Keep in mind that 42 percent of the people who are in this country in an undocumented fashion actually flew into the country. So a physical wall along the southern border between Mexico and the United States is not going to fix the problem, but it is the beginning of the process.