tv At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan CNN December 13, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PST
never be left alone. even to this day, even though it happened 20 years ago. i can't wait to watch the special, thanks so much for stopping by. cnn special report, the murder of jonbenet ramsey, airs tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific time. thank you for joining me today. "at this hour" starts now. hello, i'm kate bolduan. john berman is off today. waiting game is over. the winner of donald trump's latest reality show who wants to be my secretary of state has been decided. exxon mobil ceo rex tillerson. tillerson is a millionaire many times over with the wealth of global business experience but no formal political or diplomatic experience. his nomination drawing praise and concern at the same time. do in large part to his long-standing business relationship with russian president vladimir putin. that may be a problem for some of trump's own party. like this guy. republican senator marco rubio.
putting out a statement this morning saying in part that he has serious concerns about tillerson. and he's not alone there. but tillerson also picked up big endorsements from the likes of former secretaries of state condoleezza rice and james baker. this is the confirmation battle to watch, i can promise you, so stay tuned there. also new in transition this morning the president-elect has tapped former governor rick perry to head up the energy department. the same rick perry who said he wants to get rid of that department, even though sometimes he forgets which department he's talking about. we'll get more on that in a second. and then there is this. rapper kanye west appeared in trump tower today with none other than the president-elect himself. the musician and husband of kim kardashian of course isn't up for a cabinet post as far as we know. phil mattingly live at trump tower in new york. keep a straight face. quite a morning already. rex tillerson, kanye west,
insert your favorite rap lyric. >> as far as we know, being the operative term there. the secretary of state pick. we've all been following this rather chaotic experience. the president-elect settling on tillerson. more than four decades inside of exxon, obviously rising in 2006 to run the company. extensive global business ties. i'm told from trump transition sources what this really ended up becoming about was the two men were very comfortable with one another. it's important to note, kate, donald trump and rex tillerson did not know one another before this process. it was actually james baker, condoleezza rice and robert gates, obviously three kind of pillars in the gop foreign policy establishment community, who recommended that trump sit down with tillerson. they sat down. they meshed very well. they became comfortable with one another. the world views largely aligned i'm told. and he became the pick, not mitt romney, not david petraeus, not any of the 15 other people it seemed like we were going to go
through at one point. rice and gates did do business with exxon through their firm. but their recommendations and their endorsements were crucial to putting him in position to get this position. obviously there's going to be a lot of deep looks into the more than 50 countries where exxon did business. most notably russia. for the moment, it looks like people are generally accepting of this pick. i can tell you trump transition officials very happy with this direction that this went for good reason. this is the type of pick the president-elect said he was going to make, unorthodox, somebody with deep business ties, somebody who can come in and try to make an immediate impact. rex tillerson not the only selection. cnn also being told from transition officials rick perry will be selected to run the energy department, 14-year governor of texas, obviously extensive experience on job creation, working on energy issues while in that state. obviously has that oops moment of 2011 that we all remember it and of course when he was running for president in 2012.
talked about leliminating the energy department. he was one conservatives wanted in the cabinet. he met with the president-elect a couple of times including at the army/navy game this weekend. keep an eye on that going forward. for the news that is the least important of the entire day, kanye west was in trump tower. i have no idea how that applies to anything we are covering or care about. but hey, why not, right? >> why not. that's exactly what was running through my head. great to see you, phil. thanks so much. keep an eye on those elevators. all right. here's a little bit more information about tillerson. he's 64. he's a native of wichita falls, texas. an eagle scout. started working at exxon as phil said 41 years ago as a production engineer. he was named chairman and ceo in 2006. he himself has said he has a very close relationship with russian president vladimir putin. three years ago, putin awarded him the order of friendship. with all of that background, tillerson could be facing something of a tough road ahead to confirmation. for that, all the focus goes
very quickly to capitol hill. that's where we find senior political reporter manu raju in washington for us. manu, what is the temperature at this moment on capitol hill. what are you hearing right now? for the likes of tillerson? >> the republican leadership in the senate is actually closing ranks behind tillerson with mitch mcconnell, the majority leader, as well as his number two, john cornyn. the issuing statement saying they would back hillerson's nomination to state. but that does not mean all republicans are falling in line, including on that all-important senate foreign relations committee, which is the panel that will consider his nomination. in a concerning sign for the nomination, florida senator marco rubio who sits on that panel, said he has serious concerns about tillerson. though he respects him as a business man. that's a problem because the gop only has a one-seat advantage on that committee. if rubio were to vote no with the democrats on that committee, the nomination could be stalled. of course, this all stems from
tillerson's close ties with russia. at a time where republican senators want to take a hard line. including republican senator john mccain. would yesterday on "the lead" raised some serious concerns about tillerson's ties to vladimir putin. >> anybody who's a friend of vladimir putin must disregard the fact that vladimir putin is a murderer, a thug, a kgb agent, whose airplanes, as we speak, have been targeting with precision weapons hospitals in aleppo. >> now, tillerson cannot lose more than three republican votes if the democrats do stay united. that's on the full senate floor. already, those four republicans have expressed reservations. that's led actually to outgoing senate minority leader harry reid to say that tillerson may not get approval from the chamber. >> well, i don't know if we can get 50 votes or not. i think it may be hard for him
to do that. >> do the reports you're seeing about his russian connections concern you in anyway -- >> it's in keeping with trump. he's already stated he likes putin better than he likes obama. so it's obvious he likes russia. and that's fairly concerning to the world. certainly concerning to america. concerning to me. >> now, there is time for tillerson to allay a lot of those concerns. already, a statement from foreign policy heavyweights like condoleezza rice and gates coming out in support of tillerson. has actually gone over well with a lot of republicans, including trump critic arizona senator jeff flake who does sit on that foreign relations committee. and he said, kate, he was pleased to hear those officials come out in support and perhaps potentially could vote for tillerson. >> yeah, maybe a hopeful sign, especially coming from jeff flake. no fan of trump all along. in the election. manu, good to see you. one quick question, rick perry,
picked for the energy department. so he announces that. donald trump announces -- well sources in the transition announce that. we're also then getting a statement from senator joe manchin he's now happy to stay in the senate. this was something everyone was watching closely in terms of the balance of power in the senate. what are you hearing over there? what does this all mean? >> he was being considered for the energy department job. manchin had met with trump yesterday. the fact he's saying he's not going to take any job in the administration not now. is going to stay in the senate. ensures that democrats will keep that seat in a very red state. it's heartening for schumer and democrats who want to keep 48 seats in the senate, kate. >> manu, thank you. let me bring in right now cnn political commentator bill press. he supported sanders and clinton during the election. former communications director for the rubio presidential campaign and now with buyerhouse strategies alex conan is here. "washington post" reporter abby phillip it washington bureau chief for the dallas morning news todd gillman. thanks for being here.
abby, manu's kind of laying out, he said very importantly, that amongth the leadership ranks, they seemed -- leadership is closing ranks around to support rex tillerson. do you see a confirmation battle coming for him? >> i see one regardless. step one is leadership surrounding him and supporting his nomination. i do think there are a lot of republicans out there who want to have a lot of conversations with the trump administration publicly about their positions toward russia, about the sort of broader questions of the direction of trump's foreign policy. tillers tillerson's nomination is going to be a proxy for that. that being said, there's never been a secretary of state nomination the senate has blocked or the president has revoked. so it would be extraordinary for this very important and very high-profile position to be blocked. i think that in and of itself. >> especially by his own party. >> i think it would be tough. >> alex, marco rubio, he's got concerned. he's been, you know, no fan of trump for a long time. he's got some concerns.
jeff flake, he, though, says these endorsements that trump has -- that tillerson has picked up is a really good thing. that they've kind of won him over. the fact that condi rice, james baker, they're recommending tillerson, carries considerable weight. i look forward to the hearings. why do they not consider weight with rubio? >> well, they may. marco said over the weekend he has concerns about this potential nomination because he's friends with vladimir putin. marco thinks we need a stronger position as a country towards putin. look, every nomination is fundamentally a campaign. it's a campaign for 51 votes in the senate. today was the start of that campaign. i think he got off to a good start with having those well-respected republicans like condi rice supporting him. and then the senate is the most important. saying that they will support. so he's off to a good start. but there were serious questions raised like rubio said this
morning in the committee hearing, it's going to be fun to watch. >> do you think knowing senator rubio, that he would vote against -- >> i'm sure he has a very open mind right now. at the end of the day, he's going to do what he thinks is best for the senate and for his constituents in florida. it will not be a political decision for rubio. be an absolutely principled one. >> what do you think, bill? >> i think he'll probably get confirmed. i think they'll rally behind him. you know, they always do. but i think it's a troubling nomination for a couple of reasons. one is because, you know, he's made a lot of deals but making deals for the bottom line is different from doing what's best for the american people. i would have to say what's best for exxon mobil is not necessarily what's best for the united states of america, number one. number two, i think it's troubling at a time when we know, we know that russia was trying somehow to influence this election, that he would appoint a secretary of state one of vladimir putin's best at least business associates if not best friends. and thirdly, i think tillerson will need somebody to direct him
when it comes to diplomacy. they're talking about john bolton for number two. which would be insane. i mean, bolton is, you know, crazy. he's a superhawk. he wants us to bomb syria, bomb iran, bomb everybody. those questions are going to be raised. >> i want to talk about bolton in just one second actually, bill, but todd, i want to get your take. exxon, tillerson. big in texas. people you've been covering him for a very long time. do you think what bill said, that tillerson needs help navigating these waters? >> sure he needs that. look, no major oil company let alone one of the biggest corporations in the world is able to thrive in the world
without doing deals without doing business in very rough parts of the world. you can look back at nixon and china. rex knows how to work with putin. whether he can step up and stare him down in a cold war type of way if it comes to that. whether he'd be soft on issues like ukraine incursions. trump is the guy calling the shots. presumabl presumably, tillerson will follow trump aelgs lead on this issue. >> i've seen a lot written already about the biggest loser here is mitt romney. some even saying he's humiliated because of the interviews, the
very public dinner, everything that went down with this. >> i think donald trump made another decision. mitt romney's going to be fine. he was fine before this campaign started. he was fine before this latest transition episode. he'll be fine now. re he remains very well respected. he can comment on trump in an independent way he otherwise could not if he had -- >> i think the big loser is rudy giuliani. i think mitt romney handled himself with dignity. but rudy giuliani was going out there, all over the media, and -- >> rudy giuliani would take exception with that description. >> campaigning for the job and he turned people off. >> he spoke out this morning, he spoke on "new day," and here's what giuliani said this morning about this election and the fact that he didn't get it.
>> i'm totally comfortable being out of it. i have an awful lot to do. it would have been a big sacrifice to do it. i didn't want to be in the big sort of selection panel. >> so that's what giuliani says this morning. it also makes me think so now you've got folks, if you put them all together, giuliani, chris christie, newt gingrich. some of trump's biggest supporters who really stuck their neck out for trump throughout the campaign. walking away with what seems like nothing. >> giuliani mentioned in that interview, he turned down other jobs that were offered to him because the one he wanted was secretary of state and that's not the one he got, and if you're not going to reward your best and most loyal allies with the job they want, that kind of says a lot in and of itself, regardless of what giuliani said. i think that it's a sign, though, to some republicans, that trump isn't just going to reward -- >> right, it might be reassuring
to republicans. >> he's going to find the people he thinks are best capable of doing the job. so some republicans are looking at the situation and they're saying that's okay. that's probably a good sign. >> somebody who works for rubio, i'm glad he's not stocking the trump administration with trump loyalists from day one. i think that's very encouraging. >> guys, i want to show -- let's just have a discussion about this. we had a graphic we can put up. this is kind of as the cabinet is filling out. it really is filling out quickly. if you look at some of the most highest ranking, important cabinet jobs, you see a lot of older white men. there's really no other way to put it. you do see some folks, you know, like with devoss and ben carson. you do see some diversity in there. but largely in some of the highest echelon of the cabinet, a lot of older white men. does donald trump do you think care about diversity in his cabinet? and do his supporters put him in
office? >> i was offered a job -- >> as an older white male. >> you don't need another older white male. >> i think it is a problem. what bothers me more is when i look at that chart, i see too many generals, i see too many goldman sack sachs people and many millionaires and not enough diversity. >> very different types of backgrounds. it's not just a bunch of politicians. it's businessmen. it's people with military experience. it's governors. i think it's a very -- an exciting type of diversity. >> i want to get your final thought just because this is obviously an area you know very well. rick perry, energy department, don't have time to play the sound bite, but we all know the oops moment that will never leave him no matter if he's heading the department or not. how did this come about for rick perry do you think? >> well, first of all, i feel compelled to point out that texas is the most republican state in the country. so to skip over texas being we have the secretary of state now.
so we're getting a representation in the cabinet. but rick perry is a guy with a tremendous record of job creation. texas economy is not entirely dependent but is very intertwined with the energy sector. he's familiar with that. it is pretty amazing to pick somebody who wants to get rid of that department who did want to, the trump people say now we're not sure if that's really the agenda but streamlining government is part of the agenda and we'll talk about that. there seems to be a chemistry between the two men. perry, you may recall, he's the one who called trump a cancer on conservativism. so this is really a huge 180. eventually perry came around. he supported ted cruz later in the primaries after he dropped out. he was kind of late to the trump party. but very enthusiastic once he got there as a surrogate through the campaign. that did apparently pay off. they hit it off. look, long-serving governor, popular, charismatic, a good salesman for whatever it is you
ask him to sell and that's an asset in the cabinet. >> quite an evolution. we've seen that with many as this election has continued. now we see it in the transition. guys, thanks very much. for weeks we've seen candidates for trump's cabinet walk into trump tower and out once again. today, a new one for you. kanye west walked in for a meeting, walked out for a photo op. plus, president obama warned donald trump what would happen if he continued to avoid intelligence briefings. and we have breaking news. a quote, complete meltdown of humanity inside aleppo. government forces reportedly walking into home, and shooting civilians on the spot. now families are sending out their heartbreaking final messages. your insurance company
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donald trump has announced his choice. rex tillerson has been tapped as trump's nominee for secretary of state. trump in a statement saying this, rex knows how to manage a global enterprise which is crucial to running a successful state department and his relationship with leaders all over the world are second to none. what exactly do those global relationships look like? joining me is the cnn global economic analyst and author of "makers and takers." a lot to go through. exxon mobil is a huge company. >> absolutely. >> one of the biggest in the world. you say when it comes to the relationship that an oil company executive or an energy company executive has with foreign governments, it's different and unique in business. this is an exxon map that they actually hand out of where all their production is coming from. that gives you a small idea of
how huge this company is. why is that relationship different? >> first of all, just look at how incredibly global this company is. many companies are global but look at all the areas of conflict they're in. west africa. parts of russia. ass eser pagen kazakhstan, many the hot spots diplomatically are the hot spots in the energy sector. oil companies tend to be the longest time line horizon-type businesses. they're looking at 20-year projections. so this is a different kind of business. much more global. ceos spend most of their time lee yasing with foreign leaders. >> the concern is russia and this is kind of some of the ties we know about that tiller son has with russia. is tillerson's relationship with putin different than an energy company's ceo would have with the head of a government? >> special as it were. special friend. i would have to say there's nothing i've seen so far that
tells me he is in deeper with putin than any other oil ceo that would be doing business in russia. i have actually interviewed a lot of these folks. they all walk a very fine line. i remember interviewing john brown, the former chair of bp, back when he was in charge there. i know he had these issues. i think it's very interesting to see confirmation hearings what the nature of that relationship is. so far, it seemed like business as usual in an autocratic government. >> this is an area i'm fascinated. one of the first things that could land on tillerson's lap is the question of sanctions against russia. obviously, this coming -- having to do with russia aggression in ukraine and the annexation of crimea. this could land on tillerson's lap. tillerson is actually -- exxon has been impacted by the sanctions. >> definitely has. i think we have to go back to an historical point which companies like exxon were encouraged to go into the russian market as an economic diplomacy, that the u.s. has encouraged both on the
right and the left. >> right. >> administrations of all kinds have encouraged companies to go into these areas. after the invasion of crimea, there was a whole shift in that mind-set. sanctions put in. exxon's been hurt. absolutely it's going to be difficult to separate that personal relationship. tillerson's relationship with the company. and what he's going to do at the state department. i think he's going to have to be very careful to walk that line. i think we'll see talk about putting business interests in a blind trust. beyond that, how much transparency is it going to offer us in that relationship with putin in particular. >> it is fascinating. a lot to be learned. thank you so much. great to see you. coming up for us, then to kanye west who said he will run for president in 2020. he just walked into trump tower for a meeting with the guy that i guess he could actually maybe be challenging then. no, i am not joking in terms of at least him going to trump tower. what gives here. we'll talk about it. plus, as president obama issued a warning to donald trump over intelligence briefings, the president also says americans should have cared more about the russian hacks. we'll speak live with the former
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it doesn't matter how smart you are. you have to have the best information possible to make the best decisions possible. and my experience with our intelligence agencies is that they were not perfect. they'd be the first to acknowledge that. but they are full of extraordinarily hard working patriotic and knowledgeable experts, and if you're not getting their perspective, their
detailed perspective, then you are flying blind. >> flying blind. president obama sending a warning to donald trump after the president-elect said he does not need daily intelligence briefings because he is, quote, a smart person and he also thinks it's repetitive. trump has been dell gating daily briefings to the vice president elect and top advisers. let's talk about this and more. evan mcmullen. he's joining me now. he ran against trump as an independent candidate for president. he's also a former policy director for the house republican conference. great to see you, thanks for coming back in. >> great to be with you, kate. >> thank you. on exactly what president obama was talking about here and the fact that donald trump has said he doesn't need daily briefings, some of the information it appears he thinks has seemed repetitive. if they got something new, if the assessment changes, he know where to find him is what he says. does that work for you? >> no, not at all. it shouldn't work for any american president.
look, when the cia briefers come to you, they're bringing information that is based on signals intelligence. that means intercepted foreign communications, information from human sources, information from a range of other open and covert sources. you simply cannot function as a president without having access to that information. at least not function well. so it's highly concerning. it should be highly concerning for all americans that donald trump first and foremost doesn't have interest in that information. that's not to say that it's always perfect. we live in an uncertain world. our intelligence analysts are connecting dots that are, you know, not always obvious and that have to be discovered and it's not -- it's not always easy but that's why they're there. that's why they're there. that's why they have the expertise they do. that's why any american president needs to make sure they're tapped into that information and that expertise. >> kind of to that point, we've talked a lot about russian influence.
and over the weekend, the intel assessment that russia was behind the hackings during the election and did so in order to tip the scales in favor of donald trump. kellyanne conway, trump's campaign manager, she has spoke out a low about this. listen to this. >> politics plain and simple. we in the trump presidency do not want foreign governments interfering in our elections. we also don't want -- we don't want intelligence interfering in our politics. we certainly don't want what we have now, politics interfering in our intelligence. >> you were at the cia. you've moved into the world of politics. do you think politics bled into this? >> i think what you just heard from kellyanne conway is politics. what you're hearing from the cia is not, absolutely not. we cannot lose site of something that is highly troubling.
we have a us president-elect staunchly in favor of aligning our country with the very country that sought to undermine and influence our election. think about that. an all alarm alert. it should be something that all americans regardless of political persuasion regardless of what ever party you belong to, this should be something we reject, we need to stand up and oppose this. we need to watch everything this administration does. i mean, it is highly, highly troubling. >> one of the things that the president has done -- well, when you look at the relationship with russia is coming out as pick for secretary of state, rex tillerson, do you like him? >> i don't know him personally. still, this isn't about tillerson. i think trump was going to choose somebody for secretary of state that would not get in the way of his plans to align our country with putin and russia. we should talk more about what that means and we need to make
sure we all understand what that means. he wasn't going to choose somebody who would get in the way of that. he wants a stronger relationship with russia even if it undermines our democracy. >> what we've seen was a lot of republican lawmakers, you know, coming, happy with the picks. tillerson is getting praise and concern. republican leaders, they're getting behind tillerson as secretary of state. are you getting more comfortable or less comfortable with his presidency now that you see people he's surrounding himself with? >> there's some speak out against tillerson. mccain is one of them and there
are others. we'll see how things play out. look, i hope he'll be blocked in the senate. i'm calling on americans to stand up -- >> you want to see tillerson blocked? >> yes, i would like to see tillerson blocked. it's not about him as much as it is standing u. ining up to donas alignment with president putin in russia. tillerson is a proxy for that. that's the issue. we cannot lose sight of that. that is what the issue is. now, as far as the broader cabinet, there have been many picks i'm neutral on. some picks i think are good. i think pompeo at cia will do a good job. i know him. i know he's a very, very smart man. he's got a very -- he's strong willed. so can stand up for truth. i'm confident he'll do a good job at cia. i'm hopeful. general matt tis is a world class leader. there are other troubling appointments. sessions for one on civil rights issues.
flynn is -- somebody who has had a financial relationship with the russian government through rt america, their cable channel in the united states, which has promoted donald trump through the election while undermining american's faith in our democratic institutions. then you've got bannon of course who has promoted, or turned breitbart, as he described it, a platform for the white supremist or the alt white movement which is a euphemism for -- >> so mcmullen still not happy -- >> no, it's not going to change. i am eager to praise this administration and i praise decisions i agree with, but we've got to stand up to this. we cannot be desensitized to the things we're talking about today. >> evan, great to see you. coming up, one of the most important questions that donald trump has yet to answer before taking office. how does he plan to separate himself from his business empire? you're going to have to wait a
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donald trump failing to meet his own deadline for explaining how he plans to separate himself from his business empire. the president-elect has not set a date yet. now that he's moved it back. for a long awaited news conference that was supposed to be this week. he's committed to speaking to the press in the near future. trump tweeting this. he will leave his businesses before january 20th to focus full time on the presidency. he goes on to say his sons don and eric plus executives will manage the business and no deals
will be done during his term in office. let's discuss this with michael crowley, foreign affairs correspondent for politico and david chalian, cnn's political director. david what are you hearing at this moment is really behind this postponement? now it's been pushed back. >> i just don't think all the ducks are in a row to take questions and be scrutinized for it. you want to make sure all of that is buttoned down. that's my sense of why this might be kicked down the road a bit. look at those tweets you just had. it's pretty clear ivanka trump, his daughter, who has been groomed to be part of this business for long term, is not going to be in that role because clearly she and her husband jared kushner are going to be playing a role much more directly inside the white house not related to the business which i think is the subtext of
what he's saying there as well. >> in an important subtext. but also this line i found fascinating, want to get your take on in that sweet. when he said no deals will be done during my terms in office. what does that mean for him in terms of actually cutting ties? or is it that he's actually just not going to cut ties and they're not going to do any deals? what's your sense here? >> yes, that does seem to set a pretty low bar. ideally, you would have somebody sever their financial stake entirely. so that he's not thinking when he's conducting foreign policy with a country like turkey for instance about the value of the trump tower and shopping mall complex in istanbul. to say we're not going to do any deals. it's just not that tough of a standard. and of course if you have a huge empire of real estate properties around the world and other businesses, you know, things are happening to those businesses all the time that you have to respond to. the environment is changing. it's not saying that much to say
i'm not going to do any more deals. as though that takes this issue off the table. his businesses are constantly being affected by changes in the world. again, it's very concerning when you have a guy who's going to be conducting american foreign policy and making decisions about america's relationship with countries around the world, and, most importantly, having foreign leaders who understand that trump has these big financial stakes in their country and that is going to be part of the context with which he's dealing with them, and are they going to want to do favors for him. are they going to make it easier for his businesses to operate. >> all of these questions, folks were looking for answers when this press conference was going to happen this week. now that's delayed until we don't yet know exactly when it will happen. >> i just want to underscore what michael is saying. this is clearly because he's not divesting himself, not doing a true blind trust, liquidating assets -- >> he was never going to do it, it right. he didn't even know the
definition of blind trust during the debates. >> anything short of that means this is a narrative through everything he does. every time we see don jr. or eric come into the white house to visit with their father, every time, this is one of the story lines tying back to how does this impact his businesses. >> so then this happened. donald trump, kanye wet, we can talk about it as we show you the video of when they came down for a photo op. david chalian, what happened? >> i don't know that i want this one. i'm going to defer -- listen, obviously, kanye west has made some post election comments, if you recall, that were exactly the kind to appeal to donald trump. they have a preexiting relationship. donald trump loves surrounding himself with this kind of buzzy celebrity and clearly was doing something today.
i don't think we're going to see kanye west in the administration. >> there's been a lot of debate about when trump tweets something outrageous is he trying to change the subject. i think in a lot of cases it's maybe not that strategic. in this case, i really do have to think there's a lot of negative stories. a lot of talk about tillerson and russia that they don't welcome. this really looks like a bright shine object to me. almost more than anything we've seen in the transition so far. >> you don't want to step on the day you announce your secretary of state though. this was just the only time that kanye could come to trump tower. it was a scheduling conflict. >> maybe. >> good to see you, thank you so much. all right, we have breaking news coming to us out syria. aleppo, syria. where one leader says we're watching, in his words, the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century. kids, 7 years old. now saying good-bye on social media. putting their final messages out to the world as they come to grips with their brutal situation. the stunning new details coming out in just the last 24 hours. that's ahead. ♪ (woman) one year ago today mom started searching for her words.
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breaking news. tens of thousands of families, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, trapped right now in aleppo, syria. in what the united nations is calling a complete meltdown of humanity. aid groups in syria desperately pleading for help for some 100,000 people as government forces are making a brutal final push into rebel-held areas of
the city. many people that are stuck there are simply saying good-bye, and the only way they can. sending out on social media. a tweet from a 7-year-old syrian girl saying -- last moment to live or die. an activist tweeted it is doomsday inside aleppo and says people are running, but don't they where to go. i want to bring in fred pleitgen right now. in aleppo, out now. fred, what are you hearing? what is happening there right now? things seem to have changed in just the last 24, 48 hours? >> reporter: yes. you know, they're changing by the minute there in aleppo. the reason, rebels have a very small territory left inside that city, besieged on all sides by the pro-governments fors, of course, also have much more fire power. you're right. the big concern at this point in time, the people still trapped inside those besieged areas. by all accounts seems though the rebels will only be able to hold
out a couple more hours unless they possibly reach an agreement with the syrian government and pro-government forces to perhaps give them safe passage out in return for those government forces moving in. at the same time, there is that grave concern for the swims on the ground. the u.n. says that it has reports there may have been executions on the part of pro-government forces. 23 they say at this point in time they're not sure the stories are true but they come from sources credible in the past. of course, the most vulnerable caught up in between all of this are the children on the ground and unicef put out anurgent statement saying they believe as many as 100 children are trapped inside a building in the besieged areas. of course, very much at risk at this point of the heavy fighting, the air strikes that have been going on in those areas and, of course, all of these international groups calling for an immediate end to the fighting. a cease-fire to make sure the civilians remain safe. kate?
>> fred, thank you so much. let's discuss this more. joining me now, cnn chief correspondent host of "amman pour," christiane amanpour. horrific seems to be the status what's going on now in aleppo. images coming out, hard to imagine it could get worse, but seems it has. >> reporter: well, kate, indeed, the very, very worst is if there were to be continued mass executions of civilians, non-combatants, men, women and children which already, as you heard fred say, the u.n. is picking up reports, and we also have been talking to people who have been trapped behind the lines. as fred was following the advance of the syrian forces further and further into eastern aleppo, as they took it back from the rebels, after about four years, we were also talking by skype and telephone to people still trapped behind the lines waiting for the forces just to
turn up, and not knowing what to do, because they couldn't escape. this is what an english teacher there, mohammed edel told us, exactly one week ago today. listen. >> reporter: what happens if the regime forces take your neighborhood? >> i am going to be killed. that's -- that is going to happen. i'm going to be killed. and that's all -- also a lot of the civilians are going to be killed, too. >> reporter: kate, every night people told us that, and right now on this telephone here we have had a message in the last couple of hours from mohammed edel, that man, who literally is pleading for a cease-fire, pleading for people to come and save them saying that he is seeing bodies in the streets and they are absolutely terrified. cnn is trying to confirm reports that are circulating on our wires, according to the rebels, they say they may have reached or have reached a cease fire ending bombardments, reached
this with the russians. we've not been able to pin that down but the u.n. is calling right now for the syrians and their backers, the russians, iranians, all the other militias to prioritize the right of life for people in those enclaves they keep moving into and trying to take back. this is a very, very bad situation that's going on. reminiscent of what happened in strebnaneetza and 8,000 men and women were slaughtered, and this is many, many more people, civilians, at mercy of these advancing troops in eastern aleppo right now. >> just need safe passage out. just need it. as you're saying, and getting messages from inside aleppo, it's truly amazing. christiane, thanks. great to see you. keeping an eye on that very closely and keeping an eye on this escalating situation in syria, especially aleppo in the minutes and hours ahead. from that, back to politics here in the united states. a very busy day over at trump
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hi there, and welcome to "cnn newsroom." thank you so much for joining me. i'm brianna keilar. the search is over for america's next diplomat. the drama is just getting started. >> we just couldn't be more grateful someone of rex tillerson's proven leadership and accomplishment has been willing to step forward and serve our nation as our next secretary of state. >> so that's vp-elect mike pence sings the praises of this man, exxon mobile ceo rex tillerson emerged as a serious contender for the state department job only in the past couple of weeks. the thing i like best about rex tillerson, tweets soon to be president trump, he has all sorts of experience with internation international, and rick perry heading the department of energy