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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 7, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm PST

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and look at his presidency at 9:00 p.m. eastern. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. follow me on twitter @jake tapper. now to wolf blitzer, he is next-door in a place i like to call the situation room. happening now, the washington generals. donald trump recruits another military leader, asking general john kelly to be homeland security secretary. three generals are slated for top positions in his administration. general david petraeus is still in the running for secretary of state. is the president-elect leaning too heavily on the military? isis hostage. a journist held by terrorist forces appears in an isis video for the first time in five months and shows damage done by allied bombs in mosul. is isis sending a signal with the latest propaganda piece? targeting moscow. a top senate republican vows to investigate russian interference of the u.s. election as donald trump once again dismisses the
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allegation. why is trump refusing to believe u.s. intelligence? saturday night whine. trump brushes aside concern over his relentless use of twitter to voice his grievances including his rants about "saturday night live" which he praised when he was host. now "time" magazine names trump person of the year. will it change trump's opinion of the magazine he previously criticized? i am wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." he spoke critically of american generallies during the campaign claiming to know more about isis than they do. president-elect donald trump is now adding a third military commander to his inner circle, retired marine corps general john kelly. we're told he has asked kelly to be his security secretary.
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trump is once again dismissing the issue of russia interfering in the election. despite assertions by top u.s. intelligence officials. a british journalist held by isis has appeared for the first time since june. jan cantlie is seen in a newly released propaganda video showing bridges damaged in the offensive against terrorist forces in the iraqi city of mosul. we're covering that and more this hour with our guests including sean spicer and republican senator james risch, a member of the intelligence and foreign relations committees. our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by. let's begin with the trump transition. cnn political reporter sara murray is at trump tower in new york city for us. sara, the president-elect now has assigned three generals, retired, to top positions in his administration. update our viewers. >> reporter: that's right. he is relying awfully heavily on
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the military as he fills out some of the top slots. the latest, a source tells cnn, is retired general john kelly to be the head of the department of homeland security. all of this leaves one big lingering gap, and that is who will be the secretary of state. from trump, still no word on that as he works at quite a quick pace to fill out his white house. donald trump may have held a dim view of the generals as a candidate. >> i know more about isis than the generals do, believe me. >> reporter: but as president-elect, he is changing his tune. after selecting retired general michael flynn as national security advisor and retired marine general james mattis as defense secretary, a source tells cnn trump has chosen retired general john kelly to head the department of homeland security. trump also announcing he will tap iowa governor terry branstad to serve as the next u.s. ambassador to china. >> i am very proud to have supported donald trump for president. i think he is going to make
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america great again. >> reporter: all of this as trump puts yet another industry on notice today. after striking a deal with carrier to keep jobs in the u.s. and warning boeing about its prices trump may be taking a closer look at pharmaceutical companies, telling "time" magazine, i am going to bring down drug prices. i don't like what's happened with drug prices. trump dabbling in the private sector part of his job. >> you know, that's what i am here for. i am going to negotiate prices. it's the -- the planes are too expensive. >> reporter: even though trump's words, whether on television or on twitter, can now move markets, he brushed aside concern that he is using the social media platform to air grievances an everything from boeing to broadway shows to "saturday night live." >> i think i am very restrained, and i talk about important things. >> reporter: as the often unpredictable billionaire maps out plans for his white house,
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he is relying on an unexpected source for guidance. president obama. >> i have asked him what he thinks are the biggest problems of the country, what are some of the greatest assets going forward, and we have a very good dialogue. i really -- i do like him. i love getting his ideas. >> the president is responsive to requests and phone calls from the president-elect. so he is certainly pleased that he can offer advice and assistance that may be useful to the incoming administration. >> reporter: today trump is basking in his first accolade as president-elect, "time" magazine naming him 2016's person of the year. but trump's already taking issue with their headline. >> i think putting "divided" is snarky. again, it's divided. i am not president yet. so i didn't do anything to divide. >> reporter: while he may not to take responsibility for rifts in the nation, he is already claiming credit for accomplishments preceding his tenure in the white house.
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>> i hope i am judged from the time of election as opposed to from january 20th because the stock marketplace has had a tremendous bounce. people are seeing very good things for business in this country. >> reporter: now, there is yet another announcement from donald trump. tonight he has chosen linda mcmahon to head the small business administration. she is the former ceo of the wwe. he respects her ex speerperienc business woman and felt she was the right woman for the job. >> donald trump talked about russian interference in the election in his interview with "time" magazine saying he doesn't believe it happened. jim sciutto joins us now with more. jim, tonight there are signs congress will, in fact, investigate russia's role in trying to influence the election. is that right? >> that's right, wolf. despite this being the public assessment of u.s. intelligence agencies that this is exactly what russia did, to this point public voices calling for more
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investigation have largely been from the democratic party. that changing today. republican senator and former presidential candidate lindsey graham saying the following. >> i am going to lead the charge to investigate russia's role, not only in the elections but throughout the world. i think they're one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage, and i think they did interfere with our elections and i want putin personally to pay a price. >> senator graham says he believes putin and russia should face sanctions as a result of this including economic sanctions. he had pointed words for donald trump saying that he should be more critical as well in light of russia's interference with the election. >> we know that donald trump also spoke out about this very sensitive issue in that interview he granted to "time" magazine. tell our viewers what he said. >> that's right. spoke out but sticking to the line that he has maintained throughout the campaign and since the election, and that is that he doesn't believe, he doesn't buy, in effect, the intelligence community's assessment that russia was behind this. here is what he said to "time"
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magazine today. if you look at the quote, i don't believe they interfered. that became a laughing point not a talking point. a laughing point. anytime i do something, they say, oh, russia interfered. why not get along with russia. now, wolf, presumably -- not just presumably -- this has certainly come up in the intelligence briefings he has gotten most likely before the election but certainly after the election, that this is the judgment of u.s. intelligence agencies. i speak to a lot of intelligence officials and the word baffled comes to mind. they're baffled that he continues to say that he doesn't believe russia was involved. >> i'll speak with the trump transition team spokesman sean spicer in a few moments. first, republican senator james risch of idaho, a member of the foreign relations committee as well as the intelligence committee. senator, thank you for joining us. lots to discuss. three generals, retired generals, serving in sensitive homeland security, national security positions. are you okay with that?
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>> i am. i think you need to take them one at a time. i know everybody is saying there are too many generals. you want to keep it to a minimum. on the other hand, it's interesting, no one is saying, well, this person isn't qualified, this person wouldn't do a good job. these people -- general kelly, this is a guy who is widely admired around the world and by both political parties. >> general mattis aswell. general flynn has some problems. he doesn't need your senate confirmation but there have been issues with him. >> there have been. everyone will have issues. we're all human beings. the media particularly forgets that -- >> are you okay with general flynn being the national security advisor to the president? >> i haven't heard all the facts on that yet. i would say this. the president of the united states really needs to have his pick for a security advisor. so if he is comfortable with that, i am going to be comfortable with that. >> what about the russian
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interference in the u.s. election? you have been briefed, you are a am m of the intelligence committee. first of all, do you believe that russia has interfered by hacking into computers and other means? >> you mixed a couple of things there, wolf. everybody here is talking past each other. the question is, did they attempt to interfere and do some things and then the separate question is did what they do have any effect whatsoever on the election? those are two very different questions. they're always mixed when people are talking about this. it is well known. it is a fact that no one can deny that the russians attempt to influence elections all over the world. in austria. >> including in the u.s. election. >> including in the u.s. >> so why does donald trump deny that? >> i am not sure he's denying that. in listening to what he's saying, he is saying whatever the russians did had no effect whatsoever on the election and no one including in the intelligence community has proffered anything that the russians -- whatever they did,
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whether it was hacking or whether it was releasing things, had any effect whatsoever on the election. >> there was a "time" magazine interview, he was asked about russia in the u.s. election, he said, i don't believe they interfered. those are his words. >> i would agree with him. i don't think they interfered. i think they attempted. >> by hacking into the democratic national committee campaign, john podesta's, the chairman of the hillary clinton campaign, leaking all that information through wikileaks and other sources, didn't they try to interfere, get involved in the u.s. election, in order to help donald trump win? >> i agree with you. they tried to interfere. >> would you -- they didn't just try. they did interfere. don't you think they did? >> i don't think they interfered. i think they tried to interfere. >> here is what the director of national intelligence, a man who briefs you all the time. james clapper. he said the u.s. intelligence community is confident that the
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russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from persons and institutions including from u.s. prolitical organizations. dnc. we believe that only rush's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities. >> i don't disagree with that. we're talking about interfere in my judgment it means did they affect the outcome of the election. in my judgment they had no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election. one could argue that if anything it went the other way. if indeed the russians were involved in trying to help donald trump and, as was reported before the election, that became a news item, i would think that the american people would go, whoa, i don't want anything to do with the russians. >> don't you think all those embarrassing e-mails, thousands and thousands of e-mails from john podesta's g-mail account, the dnc. some were so embarrassing to the democrats, you don't think that
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had any impact on how people decided to vote? >> if you want to put up a scale and say how many embarrassing things came out about hillary clinton and how many embarrassing things came out about donald trump, i think the scale would be about even. i do not believe -- believe me, i have sat through hours of this at different levels, and i -- i am firmly convinced that the russians, as they did in france, as they did in austria, as they did in all other kinds of elections, attempted to interfere. they've been notoriously unsuccessful in influencing elections. >> do you support senator lindsey graham's proposal for a full-scale senate investigation of russian interference in the u.s. election? >> if lindsey believes he needs more, i support that. i have sat through hours of this. i can't go into details for obvious reasons. if lindsey feels he needs more, i support lindsey in chasing that down. >> all of a sudden, after months of no word or pictures. john cantlie, the british
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journalist appears in a propaganda video recently recorded in mosul and iraq where there is a war under way right now. what can you tell us about this british journalist? >> he has been hold for some time. i can also tell you that they have used him previously in videos like this attempting to influence national thought or what have you. i wish they'd start showing these in russia as opposed to the united states. russia can put an end to this in a heartbeat if they want you. >> thank you for joining us. let's bring in sean spicer. chief strategist and chief communications director for the republican national committee. thank you for joining us. >> good evening. thanks for having me. >> let's talk about some of the names coming out today. sources are telling cnn that the president-elect will name retired u.s. marine corps general kelly to become the head of the secretary of homeland security. is that true? >> i cannot confirm that at this time. the two announcements that have been official today are iowa
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governor terry branstad as the next ambassador to china and that donald trump intends to nominate linda mcmahon who founded the world wrestling federation, grew it from 13 employs to 800 members as the head of the small business administration. those are the two announcements that have been made. others will come. we have seen a lot of great names. general kelly would be a phenomenal pick if the president-elect chooses him. that name has not been formalized yet. >> cnn and various other news organizations have confirmed he will be named. you are not trying to push us away from that, are you? >> here is what i know. that until donald trump says something, it's not official. so i am going to wait until donald trump gives his official blessing to this because the president-elect makes the ultimate decisions around here. >> he will be the third general in a key slot. secretary of defense, national security advisor.
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secretary of homeland security. during the campaign donald trump caused a big uproar when he said this about american generals. >> i know more about isis than the generals do, believe me. i would bomb the [ bleep ] out of them. [ applause ] i would just bomb those suckers. and, that's right, i would blow up the pipes. i would blow up the re -- i would blow up every single inch. there would be nothing left. >> all of a sudden he is picking the generals. clearly he admires these generals. these are the most sensitive national security slots. does he still believe he knows more about isis, let's say, than the generals? >> again, you look at someone like jim mattis, who is world renowned as a tough guy. he takes no prisoners, he'll get the job done. mike flynn, headed up d.i.a.
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general kelly if he were announced. these are tough individuals to get the job done. wolf, i think the focus is not necessarily on what job they've had. it's the success they've had. in this case they're generals. lin linda mcmahon. terry branstad, the longest serving governor in our country. these are quality individuals, not just today. you go back over the last month of people he has announced, the people he has brought in and talked to. it's in every case a top quality, top tier person regardless of whether it's academia, business, government, these are the best of the best to implement a trum agenp agend get things done. >> is general david petraeus still in the running to become secretary of state? >> well, the only people who know who is in the running is the president-elect himself. ultimately all of these decisions are president-elect trump's. he makes those decisions. so i don't know who is in and
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who is out. that's for him. he keeps bringing in these quality people. you see it day in and day out. they come in. and it's within his purview who is in the short list for whatever particular job. >> there are some who have suggested, you can respond, that he likes the generals now for the sensitive national security picks because his experience in national security is limited. is that true? >> in what sense? i mean -- i guess the point is, is that -- in a lot of areas his, you know, experience may be limited, but he goes out and he finds the best people. that's frankly what he has done in business. he goes out, finds the best people to fill the best slots to make sure that the business succeeds. in this case he is hiring and choosing people to fill government roles. he figures out who the best qualified person is to advance the agenda and vision that he has put forward. but i mean, when you look at the totality of government, whether it's the irs, the post office, homeland security, the
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department of defense, department of labor, i mean, there's a lot of -- areas -- this is a -- can implement the agenda and vision that he has put forward. >> there are perhaps some nuances here. you just heard my conversation with senator risch, with russia interfering in the u.s. election. does the president-elect still doubt that russia actually interfered? >> you read his comments earlier. of course he does. but again, i am sort of perplexed why we're spending another segment talking about something. you understand where he says -- you heard senator risch articulate this very well. there is a question of whether they tried and whether they did. mr. trump has been very clear that his position is he doesn't think they did. senator risch echoed that similarly. i think that the position has been stated over and over again and we know where everyone stands. >> to be precise, sean, he believes they tried, like senator risch, they tried to interfere with all the hacking of the dnc of john podesta's e-mails, but it's unclear whether they actually succeeded in interfering.
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is that what i am hearing you say? >> the question that he was asked is did they interfere. he answered that unequivocally that they didn't. >> he did say -- i'll repeat what he told "time" magazine. i don't believe they interfered. later he said, i believe that it could have been russia. it could have been any one of many other people, sources or even individuals who actually hacked into the dnc computers, in john podesta's computers. i assume that's what he is talking about. is that your assumption as well? >> that seems to be the case. >> all right. so let's talk about mitt romney for a moment. earlier today in the interview he granted to the "today" show, he said he is still talking to mitt romney, still considering him for secretary of state. walk us through where this process for secretary of state stands right now, because there is word that the president-elect might be meeting again, maybe as early as tomorrow, with mitt romney. is that right? >> well, let's walk back one second because i think a lot of us who have worked with donald
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trump are proud of why he was on the "today" show. it was to accept "time" magazine's person of the year award, which is a huge honor for anyone. i think it's especially humbling for mr. trump who grew up reading "time" magazine to have this honor bestowed upon him. to mitt romney, you've seen the number of quality candidates he has talked about. whether it's rudy giuliani, mitt romney and others. he understands the importance of this, he wants to restore america's place in the world and he knows the secretary of state position is vital to implementing his foreign policy. he is taking his time, he is meeting with these individuals, in some cases multiple times, having multiple conversations to get to know who they are, are they capable of instituting his vision and his foreign policy and restoring america's place abroad. it's not something that will be rushed. he'll do it on his timetable and make sure that he chooses the best person to represent this country and his administration. >> are they going to meet tomorrow? can you confirm that? there is word that that might happen. >> i cannot.
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i will give a readout tomorrow on the schedule for the day. >> we'll be anxious to see that. talk about this "new york times" report that former senator bob dole who endorsed donald trump, worked for six months, supposedly, on planning the president-elect's phone conversation with the president of taiwan. the paper reports dole's lobbying firm set up meetings between donald trump's national security advisors and taiwanese officials and has forms showing that dole's firm was paid upwards of $140,000 for the work that they did. first of all, is that true? did bob dole help orchestrate that very controversial phone call? >> i don't know. to be honest with you. what i do know is that almost 50 foreign leaders have called president-elect trump to offer their congratulations. he has taken those calls, accepted the congratulations and begun a working relationship with those countries throughout the world who want to foster a better relationship with the
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united states, who want to rebuild the relationship. he has taken those calls and begun those relationships. again, this was one of 50 calls that he and vice president-elect pence have received. >> no second thoughts as far as the president-elect is concerned, because you know the controversy that that phone conversation has had and the angry reaction from the government of china as well. >> i think mr. trump's tweets were clear about this. he understands the one china policy, he understands taiwan's relationship to mainland china. at the same time, china doesn't ask permission to do certain things. donald trump won't ask for permission. he'll do what's in the country's best interest. they were calling to congratulate him on a huge win. he takes the call. he wants to maintain a great relationship with all of the world leaders on the earth. >> the allegation in the "new york times" report that there was a quid pro quo, senator dole, the only former republican
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presidential nominee who endorsed mr. trump for president. he worked hard to get that phone conversation going. that may have been a thank you note, if you will, from the president-elect to bob dole. your reaction? >> again, i am unaware of any of that. when you look at the number of world leaders who have called to offer their congratulations to the president-elect and the vice president-elect, it seems to me, and again, from the readouts we give daily to the press he has been making a steady stream of the calls with countries throughout the world. this was pretty routine. i am not really sure what happened behind the scenes if that's the case. >> he is not backing away at all. he's defending that decision. sean spicer, as usually, thanks for joining us. >> coming up, donald trump called president obama the worst president. so why is he now taking some serious advice from the president? mr. trump reveals details of their multiple conversations.
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we'll share them with you when we come back.
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trump is "time" magazine's person of the year. a transition source also says the president-elect has selected another retired general for his administration, john kelly will be in charge of the department of homeland security. we have a lot to discuss with our political experts. let's bring in dana bash first. john kelly nominated -- he will be nominated to be the secretary of homeland security. during the campaign, we heard the sound bite, trump says he knows more about isis than the generals do. it's fascinating now that he's bringing in all these retired generals for sensitive national
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security and homeland security positions. >> it really is. you know, as we have learned, every single day of this transition, campaigning is one thing, and governing is another, especially when you are somebody who has no government or military experience. and the fact that he has, it appears, we were told, that he has chosen this retired general, really does speak to the fact that, now that it's real, now that he has more of an understanding, now that he has met with the current commander in chief and perhaps has gotten a lot of advice, both at that initial oval office meeting and in subsequent phone calls, his approach seems to be changing. now, the retired general who is his national security advisor, michael kelly, is somebody who was at his side throughout the whole campaign -- >> michael flynn. >> michael flynn. but the others are new. it's quite telling. >> mark preston, he did also say
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today, the president-elect, that mitt romney still very much in the running to possibly becoming secretary of state. and he dismissed any suggestion from the interviewer that the -- this decision is a form of revenge, if you will, dragging out this decision, a form of revenge against mitt romney. what do you think? why do you think all of this is taking relatively long compared to other sensitive positions in this cabinet? >> wolf, i think we would be naive to rule anything out with donald trump because he has been so unpredictable in the campaign and certainly has been very unpredictable in the first few weeks here of becoming president-elect. i do think it does say something that he does understand how important this job is as secretary of state, given the time, given the unrest around the globe. and quite frankly, given his own personal views on some issues. for instance, he has general mattis, he has chosen him as his defense secretary. general mattis doesn't necessarily agree with him when it comes to the issue of russia.
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he has taken a separate stand. with mitt romney, there may be something to be said that he is playing this out not only because he doesn't necessarily feel as close as he feels he should be to mitt romney, but maybe it's also a test about mitt romney. maybe he is testing to see if romney will get out before actually offering it. but we should note, he also had bob gates in the former defense secretary barack obama as well as george w. bush, a former sia director and someone who also said pretty nasty things about donald trump. give him the benefit of the doubt. but i think we're getting close. >> ron brownstein, "time" magazine, person of the year, not a huge surprise, donald trump. he was elected president of the united states. clearly the president-elect very pleased about this. but the sort of sub-headline on the cover of "time" magazine said "the divided states of america." not the united states of america, the divided states of
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america. you have been looking closely at the division that currently exists in the united states. do you -- do americans believe that this new incoming president will be able to unify the country? >> i think the headline, the sub-head was pretty accurate. in the election. 60% of us live in counties decided by a landslide one way or another. we have a new poll out today, and we asked two questions. do you think donald trump will be able to unify the country or do you think we'll remain divided and we also asked do you think he'll try to govern as the president of all americans or be biased against certain groups of people? 80% of clinton voters said he would continue to be a divider and 90% of trump voters said he would continue to be a uniter. the country is divided half and half on whether the incoming president can unite us. there are very deep grooves cut
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by this election that will not be easily bridged. >> rebecca berg, the president-elect, he phoned in to the "today" show this morning after the "today" show announced who was going to be the person of the year. he had some really nice things to say about president obama. listen to this. >> i have asked him what he would think of this one and that one. i have asked him what he thinks are the biggest problems of the country, what are some of the greatest great assets going forward. we have a very good dialogue. i must tell you, i never met him before this and i never spoke to him before this. i really -- i do like him. i loved getting his ideas. i would say that, yes, i take his recommendations very seriously, and there are some people that i will be appointing and in one case have appointed where he thought very highly of that person. >> very interesting, because we all remember what he used to say during the campaign, that president obama was the worst president in american history, created, founded isis, if you
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will. how times have changed. >> right. it is actually somewhat refreshing in light of the fact that the country is still so divided from this campaign and sort of the bad taste that it left in the mouths of many americans. it's refreshing to hear that civil tone from donald trump, very different from what we heard from him on the campaign trail. i think it is, in part, a recognition by donald trump of what this office is and the task ahead for him to actually learn what being president is. i mean, he can still believe that president obama was not a great president, but also acknowledge that he has a lot to learn from him because president obama has held this job for the past eight years. donald trump has never held any elected office. so this is a new challenge for him. he doesn't know how the day-to-day works in the presidency. >> clearly, dana, the 90-minute meeting that these two men had in the oval office. who knows what actually went on. but donald trump emerged from that meeting with glowing praise for the outgoing president. >> no question. that was just two days after he
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was elected. you see the pictures there. you could see it at the time on his face and the fact that he has continued this open line of communication that president obama made clear in private and in public that he would encourage and welcome. tells you a lot about, as you said, rebecca, how much donald trump realizes how sobering it is to be the leader of the free world. and the idea that he has his predecessor there to, you know, actually bounce ideas off of and get advice and he is using it, should be something that we happy about. >> one, two, three, who knows how many phone conversations since then as well. and donald trump has been impressed. he made that clear in the "today" show interview earlier this morning. we're getting new information. everybody stand by. we'll continue all of this when we come back. the heirloom tomato. intensely-flavored. colorfully-diverse. beautifully-misshapen. cultivated for generations, it's the unexpected hero of any dish.
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we're back with our political experts. dana, let's talk about what else donald trump said today. he says he wants to be judged on how he's doing, not necessarily just from afternoon the inauguration on january 20th, he wants to be judged starting from the time he was elected president of the united states. isn't that a little unusual? >> yes, but i think it's pretty clear why. it's because he feels that he is getting things done kind of bite-sized victories that are, you know, good for his brand, good for the idea that he promised he was going to get things done like jobs. the carrier deal. i know there is controversy about that, but it's something that he certainly feels was a victory. and then, you know, other issues
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like that. but at the same time, that's the kind of thing that he can still do kind of as a businessman/president-elect. once he becomes president, he certainly has tools to undo some of president obama's executive orders, maybe do some of his own. but then he's got, you know, reality that will smack him in the face. that's congress. and not just democrats but fellow republicans. because his policies are not in line cleanly with either of the parties up there. and so the first hundred days is what most presidents are judged on. and his legislative accomplishments are really going to be it. that's not just something that he can manage. he has got to manage that along with the partnership of congress. >> he is going to realize it's not easy being president of the united states, as we know. mark preston. let's talk a little bit about it. he also said today he likes twitter because it allows him to get his message out, quote, more honestly than dealing with dishonest reporters. he has gone on twitter, i just checked, 16.9 million followers,
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almost 17 million followers on twitter. he has millions more on facebook. about 16 million on facebook. what, if anything, is wrong, if he wants to send a message to the american public to do it on facebook, to do it on twitter? >> well, wolf, it was an understatement to say that he likes twitter. he loves twitter, right? that's been his whole campaign messaging operation and had worked very well. the problem with it now, though is that he is the president of the united states. two, three, four, five words can change markets, they can start wars, they can create diplomatic problems. he can do a lot of things wrong with just spouting off on twitter. right now it doesn't seem as he is being regulated by his aides on it. we know that donald trump is thin-skinned. look, we're all thin-skinned, right, we're human. but he is the president of the united states. there is a difference to it. having said that, though, if used accurately and smartly, he can bypass us, he can break his
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own news, he can do things to try to get away from the media. look, this has been going on now for five or six years, politicians have been trying to use social media in a way that can get around the mainstream media, so to speak. he's done it the most effectively to this point. >> president obama does it as well. he on twitter, @potus. he has, what, 12.4 million followers. he makes statements on facebook, on youtube. >> right. >> ron brownstein, this is not something necessarily all that new that donald trump is doing, though his tweets are sometimes a lot more controversial. >> hey, if the two of them get together. president obama and president-elect trump, maybe they'll approach beyonce's level of twitter following. which gives you a sense of where we are. look, the ability of politicians to have mass communication without mass media is a game changer in a way that our leaders interact with the public. it has been under way, really,
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throughout the century, but certainly starting in the 2008 election, the ability of campaigns to talk to millions of people directly through e-mail, through facebook, through the techniques of allowing -- people allowing them to get at your own friend networks on social media, that is an important mechanism. it tends to have the effect, though, wolf, of encouraging you to govern more towards your base than toward the middle. no question about it. the shift in politics in 2004, each side has been more about mobilizing the base than on converting undecided and kind of swing voters. to the extent that politicians are mostly about speaking to their own people it pushes them marginally further in that direction. >> president obama clearly has done that through social media. donald trump loves to do it, rebecca berg. i don't see anything wrong with that, if they want to get a message out to their followers on twitter, facebook, through a youtube video, fine. i also believe that they have to respect the traditional news media that's trying to cover them for the american people. >> i certainly agree with that,
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wolf. obviously i am a biased party in this case. i am a reporter. we all are. but the press does serve a very important purpose here. we are supposed to be sort of an adversary to the government, to the president and congress. giving the public a different point of view. because certainly donald trump is going to want to spin whatever he does in the best possible light. and someone needs to be there to tell the other side of the story, the other sides of the story, to present all of the information, and we know that donald trump, on the campaign trail and during this transition, has been given to hyperbole, taken credit for things that maybe weren't necessarily his doing, the softbank announcement this week. so it's important the public get the full view of what's going on. >> we all love freedom of the press. very important. stick around. coming up, vladimir putin orders extra moves to prevent cyberattacks even though his country is suspected of being one of the world's biggest aggressors in cyber space.
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lindsey graham tells cnn he plans to lead an inquiry into russian hacking next year. but tonight, russia's vladamir putin appears to be worried that his country is the target of cyber attacks. championsh so what is the russian president up to tonight? >> reporter: vladamir putin has a new plan to guard russia against what the kremlin calls stepped up cyber attacks.
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it's not clear if any u.s.-led hacks against russia are under way. but after his meddling in america's election, he seems to be feeling the heat tonight. the man whose hacking teams are accused of cyber attacks on the democratic party in the midst of a u.s. election is bracing for a similar attack on him. vladamir putin has put out a new plan against what the kremlin calls stepped up cyber attacks and psychological aggression. he calls for better forecasting, detection, and evaluation of cyber threats. "including threats to the armed forces of the russian federation in the field of information." >> he's very worried. he sees conspiracies everywhere. he's an ex-kgb officer. he sees the united states and our allies and news services are trying to poison the minds of the russian people against him, that we're trying to undermine russian democracy. >> reporter: but america's leaders claims they're the leaders from those attacks from
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putin. the obama administration has named putin's government for the democratic party hacks and the theft of clinton e-mails posted on wikileaks. and the white house has accused putin and hackers of trying to destabilize america's political system. putin has denied all of it and has issued this warning -- >> translator: unlike some of our foreign colleagues, we are not seeking and have never sought enemies. we need friends, but we will not allow anyone to infringe upon or ignore our interests. >> reporter: u.s. officials have told cnn they're looking at all options to respond to the election hacks, retaliatory cyber attacks are among those options. >> the u.s. cyber command at ft. mead has a team that's looking at what the russians are doing, not to collect intelligence on it, but to be ready to disrupt it in case the president efficient gave the order. >> reporter: putin's new plan
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doesn't mention any specific cyber strikes that could be under way from the u.s. tonight, analysts have a warning for america's allies. >> so we've got elections coming up in france and in germany. we know that putin has preferred outcomes there, just the way he did in the united states. and in the brexit vote. >> reporter: experts say weather expert putin to escalate cyber attacks, especially against german chancellor angela merkel, who is up for re-election next year. will the cyber cold war between putin and america escalate? one analyst says putin may diminish his cyber attacks on the u.s., at least until the relationship between president-elect donald trump and putin goes south. >> you're also picking up new information just how much more aggressive putin's hackers have become over the past two years, right? >> reporter: cyber security experts say before russia's invasion of crimea in 2014,
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hackers from russian intelligence were very disciplined. they didn't want to be noticed. but since that invasion, he says the russians have been much more blata blatant. they've hacked the white house, the joint chief of staff e-mail systems. they don't care if the americans know they're there, and in some cases instead of backing down, they have fought in cyberspace against the american defenders of our computer systems. they are very aggressive right now. >> brian todd, thank you. coming up, donald trump fills some key positions in his incoming administration. we're learning new information right now. stay with us. [vo] quickbooks introduces jeanette and her new mobile wedding business. at first, getting paid was tough... until she got quickbooks. now she sends invoices, sees when they've been viewed and ta-da, paid twice as fast! see how at quickbooks-dot-com.
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happening now. general advice.
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president-elect taps another retired military leader for his national security team as he acknowledges that he's seeking feedback on his appointments from a surprising source, the current commander in chief. cabinet mania. trump reaches into the world of pro-wrestling to fill a key post aimed at helping small businesses in the united states thrive. tonight he's offering a timetable for another nomination that could be the most important one yet. time heals all wounds. trump calls it an honor to be named person of the year by a magazine he once criticized. the president-elect revealing another change of heart about a former target of his attacks. and room service. foreign leaders of political insiders are flocking to trump's new hotel just blocks from the white house. are they expecting to get more than a luxury room and a good meal? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."


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