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Mitt Romney Out of the List; Russia Possibly Meddling Elections in the U.S; Two Sides Skeptical About Tillerson; Trump Rescheduling Press Conference; Trump Picks Outsiders. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired December 12, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: In our breaking news tonight, Donald Trump says he'll announce his pick for secretary of state tomorrow morning.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The rumored front-runner for the position of America's top diplomat, the millionaire CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson. Trump calling Mitt Romney tonight to tell him that he is out. More news on that in a moment.
Meanwhile, the president-elect who hasn't held a news conference in five months still won't be holding the one he promised Thursday on the topic of how he plans to deal with conflicts of interest in his businesses.
And Trump is in conflict with many in his own party on Russian hacking of the election, suggesting nothing to see here, folks. Let's just move along.
We're going to get to CNN's Jim Sciutto in a moment. But I want to get straight to CNN's Phil Mattingly. He is outside of Trump Tower for us. So, Phil, good evening to you. There is breaking news on the Donald Trump pick for secretary of state. What are you learning?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. The president-elect tweeting earlier tonight that he will make the announcement tomorrow morning, Don, the one thing we know for sure Mitt Romney will not be the selection.
Mitt Romney taking to Facebook just a few minutes ago saying, it was a tremendous honor for him to be considered for secretary of state, and also adding that he has very high hopes for this administration, an administration a president-elect who he was a sharp critic of throughout the course of the general election, during the primary process, as well.
But yet, he was brought into the fold and considered very much, sources tell me, a finalist for the secretary of state position. However, the president-elect has decided to go a different direction, sources saying all signs right now, as you noted, Don, to Rex Tillerson, the Exxon CEO. The president-elect did called Mitt Romney tonight to let the 2012
nominee know that he appreciated his willingness to be a part of the entire process. He appreciated his council counsel that he hopes to be able to draw on going forward.
But what we know right now Mitt Romney is officially not going to be the selection for secretary of state. Right now it looks like Rex Tillerson the Exxon CEO with many business relationships throughout the globe, somebody who tracks very well with the president-elect, sources say, will be that selection announced tomorrow morning. Don?
LEMON: And Mitt Romney confirming again on Twitter that Phil just read that. Phil, I also want to talk about something else that we just learned. Donald Trump postponed his first press conference since July? What's going on with that?
MATTINGLY: Yes, July 27th, the last time the president-elect took questions in a news conference. He was supposed to put that street to an end, on December 15th, announced it very proudly he would have a news conference to announce that he would fully lay out his plans to separate himself from his business empire, a business empire that we've seen repeatedly over the course of the last few weeks, Don, is right with potential conflicts of interest.
Well, that, that has been postponed until January. The news conference and plans for how he's going to try and separate himself. Sources say this is in part because he's been so focused on personnel; he's been so focused on these cabinet selections and the stream of people going in and out of that building behind me, Don.
But the reality is also this. This is very complicated. And the president-elect has made clear, that he wants to hold on to as much of his business as he possibly can while trying to separate from those conflicts of interest.
What we know is structures to make that legally happen simply haven't been finalized. Lawyers haven't been able to get through this entire process, and there have been some disagreements I'm told internally about what those final structures should look like.
So because of that, this has been postponed and because of that the news conference has, as well. Don?
LEMON: Phil Mattingly outside the Trump Tower. Phil, stand by. I want to get to Jim Sciutto now. Jim joining us from the White House. Jim, Donald Trump would surely have faced tough questions about Russia's interference in the election at that press conference.
You have some new information about the extent of Russian hacking. What are you hearing from your sources?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: that's right. The new information is this, and that is that Russian hackers, in addition to hacking into the Democratic Party official's e-mails, the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, they also hacked into Republican Party e-mails, that's members of Congress from the GOP, republican affiliated nonprofits, as well as thought leaders among the Republican Party, and why is this important, Don?
That's because while those hackers then exposed the information from the hacks of the Democratic Party, they did not then expose the hacks of the information from the Republican Party or at least the vast majority of it.
And it is that detail that has led to increased confidence in the intelligence community that the aim of these hacks was not just to disrupt the election process and the preamble to the election but was in fact, aid Donald Trump.
They haven't made that conclusion with confidence. But the fact that both parties were hacked, and that one party was the subject of those releases by in large, this is adding to the confidence in the intelligence community that there was an intent here from the Russian side, and that was either to help Donald Trump or at least to weaken Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: Interesting. Jim Sciutto, many republicans are questioning the man who is expected to be name secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, his ties to Russia, especially in light of Donald Trump's comments about Vladimir Putin. Will he run into resistance?
[22:05:06] SCIUTTO: He will certainly. The question is how strongly is that resistance. Democrats are very skeptical and you have a handful of republicans who have already expressed publicly, Marco Rubio being among them, concerns about Marco Rubio famously tweeting now that a friend of Putin not considered in his view a strong quality for secretary of state.
You have others that have expressed their skepticism. Rand Paul, John McCain, now, does Rex Tillerson answer those questions with substance in a confirmation hearing? He very possibly could. We don't know. But at least we can expect that he will face hard questions because of the sensitivity of that topic.
You know, right now, this is very much in the news because of the election hacks, you have republicans, even Mitch McConnell saying they want a deeper investigation of this to have a secretary of state candidate with those ties. It's at least going to be something he's going to be asked about.
LEMON: Jim, the secretary of state has to interact with the entire world, not just Russia, what qualifications does Tillerson have for that?
SCIUTTO: Well, that's in the judgment of the president. He is the head of the largest oil company in the world. It has dealing across the world. He certainly would have not only dealt with the leaders of countries beyond Russia, China, Latin America, you name it.
But when you're drilling for oil in these countries, you're inevitably involved in the politics as well. So they would have had to deal with or at least be aware of the diplomatic issues in those places as it relates to the business. Now, does that give you the qualification to handle, for instance, the sensitivity of the one China question, which Donald Trump has put on the table here, and others -- again, that's going to be a question in the confirmation hearings.
But I can tell you there are diplomats that I speak to, and diplomats who align themselves with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party who are skeptical of that. It doesn't mean they're going to have the final word, but it's certainly something we should expect to come up in the confirmation process.
LEMON: Jim Sciutto and Phil Mattingly, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
I want to bring in now Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Kennan Institute at Wilson Centre, and also CNN political commentator, Ryan Lizza, CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, the author of "Security Mom," and CNN political commentator Buck Sexton.
Good evening to all of you this evening. Thank you so much for joining us. Ryan, I'm going to start with you. We're going to talk more about the Russia hacking story in a moment. But first, I want to get your reaction on the news of Mitt Romney and the secretary of state announcement tomorrow. What do you think?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if indeed it is Tillerson, the head of Exxon, he's going to have a rough confirmation hearing, because what we've heard from John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and almost all democrats, is deep skepticism that the head of Exxon Mobil someone with close ties. And really a personal relationship with Vladimir Putin is the right person for this job.
So, watch what those key republicans. Watch what McCain says over the next few days. Watch what Lindsey Graham said -- says over the next few days. They seem to have been trying to tell Trump don't pick this guy without actually saying they'll oppose him. So, they're going to have a big decision to make and that confirmation hearing will be very important.
I mean, the way to understand Exxon is not just as an American company but as almost sovereign state in itself. It's a company with its own foreign policy.
So, as Jim pointed out, he's used to going and meeting with world leaders, there's no doubt about it, the issues were always of course, in the best interest of Exxon, how to secure oil drilling rights around the worlds, right?
So, he's against American sanctions on a number of states including Russia. And his foreign policy, when he was running Exxon often was at odds with the United States its foreign policy in a given place.
LIZZA: So, he's going to have -- if he's going to have this job, and if indeed this is Trump's pick, of course, he's going to have to learn how to represent the United States of America, not Exxon Mobil.
LEMON: Not just Exxon Mobil.
LIZZA: And that's going to be very important question for his confirmation hearing.
LEMON: Buck, I want to get your reaction. I want to bring you in here and I want to get your reaction to Mitt Romney. What happened there?
BUCK SEXTON, THE BLAZE NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, it seems like Mitt Romney was brought in perhaps as a means of trying to coalesce the Republican Party after a very bruising primary and just a very bruising lection over all.
Mitt Romney was very vocally opposed to Donald Trump as the candidate, and bringing in Mitt I think showed that Donald Trump was willing to as president perhaps extend his hand to those who were vociferously against him in the process.
So, I think Mitt would have been a great pick, by the way. I mean, I'm going to go I remember when democrats were saying that Mitt Romney want to know people to die, gave people cancer and was mean to dogs in the roof of his car.
But now under a Trump residency they seem to realize they would have had it great with Mitt, and Mitt is actually a pretty moderate guy and very good at what he does and has a long track record of success.
So if nothing else, at least I think Mitt Romney brings that to the table the recognition that some republicans are easier for democrats to stomach than others. They shouldn't just necessarily take the dial to 11 every time.
LEMON: Interesting. The CIA reported that Russian interference in the U.S. election was intended to help Donald Trump win the election. Donald Trump rejects that calling it ridiculous.
But I want to ask you, Matthew. You are an expert in Russia and its tactics in the world. Is that a likely scenario you think?
[22:10:00] MATTHEW ROJANSKY, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER DIRECTOR: So, the question that I'm wrestling with at this moment, Don, is if you look at the effect that this hack has had in particular, the argument that it may have been intended to help Trump, it's hemming Trump in politically, it's weakening his hand, he has less political capital, in one area especially, and that's building an administration that can engage effectively with Moscow.
LEMON: So how is that?
ROJANSKY: So, what we're hearing that Rex Tillerson is going to be challenged on his ties with the Kremlin. Obviously, Trump himself has been challenged over and over. He's been pushed back on the defensive on the Russia specifically.
So, if you're Vladimir Putin and you're looking to have a more productive relationship with the next U.S. president, in fact, maybe you're intervening to try to get that to happen. You've just actually worsen your situation instead of improving it.
So, I ask myself, what might they have actually been thinking during the campaign before they knew the outcome. I mean, one possibility is, they expected that Hillary was going to win. They were watching most of the news coverage which was indicating that that likely, and so what they wanted to do was knock her down a few pegs.
Knowing she was going to be tough and hawkish on Russia they probably wanted to do whatever damage they could do, and they did that during the campaign.
Here's another possibility. Irrespective of what candidate won, they wanted to put cyber on the agenda, as something scary that Americans would have to take seriously and maybe do something that Russians said they wanted to do a decade ago during the Bush administration but the United States reject it. And that's negotiate a treaty about cyber warfare.
LEMON: You're wrestling with a few questions. A lot of people are wrestling with a few questions, including the current administration, Juliette. Because President Obama will talk about the Russian hack on the Daily Show later tonight, I have a clip for you, let's listen in and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason that I have called for a review is really just to gather all the threads of the investigations, the intelligence work that has been done over many months, and put it in a single document that can be shared with members of Congress, relative -- relevant intelligence agencies.
They can be shared with the transition team so that they understand what exactly happened. And so, that the public and our elected representatives going-forward can find ways to prevent this kind of interference from having an impact on the elections in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I want you to react to what he said. But also, Juliette, why do you think he waited until after the election?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, what we don't know is that whether there's new information or evidence that would have made the CIA and other intelligence agencies more confident in their assessment that it wasn't simply that Russia got engaged or involved in hacking the election, but did so to favor Trump.
And just to Matt's point, I mean, Russia's actions make sense if they thought they wouldn't get caught. I mean, so, in other words, their motivation may have been to help Trump and they assumed that maybe they would not have gotten caught.
I think Obama here is taking the long view, which is important to all of us, whether they're democrats or republicans, which is there is a midterm in 2018, there is another presidential election in 2020. There's governors and senators, if we do not figure out how Russia did it, forget the motivation at this stage.
What we can do to protect our networks, what various parties can do to protect their networks, and also, potentially punish Russia, that won't be President Obama's decision, that will be president-elect Trump's decision, then let's do this investigation, it matters to democrats and republicans simply because this is a foreign -- a foreign country as you know, play in our democratic elections at this stage.
SEXTON: Don, there's much more interest in this, by the way, the notion that we're going to be able to stop people from having their unclassified e-mail accounts hacked and that information shared. I mean, essentially they can put out what would be called a public warning notice and they could get people a sort of general -- general safety outline of how to deal with unclassified e-mails.
But the reason this is getting so much attention right now, it's because it's part of a broader narrative, and that narrative is that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president that Russia took the scale in his favor.
You have major newspapers and there are editorial columns across the country with people that are writing exactly that, and it's not legitimate. Maybe we can't redo the election, but we've now seen a steady stream of a different story every couple weeks. Whether it's fake news which I know the network covered earlier tonight.
Or now it's that Russia was involved in the election, or was it that FBI Director Comey with some sort of republican operative who threw it for Donald Trump, that's why this is getting so much attention, it's not because we're going to get some security review that finds out that yes, straightforward hacking...
LEMON: Do you think -- do you think that this is -- what you're saying is that - what you're saying if this is a partisan -- go ahead.
KAYYEM: Don, I think that -- I think that's a very -- I think that's a very unfair -- I think that's a very unfair myopic short lived.
KAYYEM: In some ways, just very insulting attitude about what is going on here. Just take a step back. I'm Hillary, I was a Hillary supporter, Donald Trump is going to be my president. I'm not interested in all these other fights.
[22:15:01] I'm actually interested as a national security expert, and as an American citizen in what happened and why Russia, and how they did this, this is relevant. Do we -- and look, the republican senators who know the most about
this stuff, also want this review, so it's not like this is some democratic conspiracy out there. And I think you really do, in some ways, sort of undermine both the sanctity of those out there, you know, risking their lives.
SEXTON: Juliette, I'm former CIA. I don't need a lecture about the sanctity of people risking their lives.
LEMON: Well, I don't think she's -- stand by, hold on.
KAYYEM: I recognize.
LEMON: I don't think she's lecturing you. I think she's getting her point of view just as you did.
SEXTON: No, that was actually a lecture.
LEMON: Just as you did. Calm down, Buck. Let her -- let her finish.
SEXTON: I served into war zones; I'm not going to be lectured about...
KAYYEM: As a democrat...
SEXTON: ... people taking risks overseas.
SEXTON: And how they are undermined.
LEMON: Stand by, Buck. People give their opinions on this show. I don't think it's this personal.
KAYYEM: It's not election, Buck. We don't have to take it personally.
LEMON: Just let her and give her opinion.
KAYYEM: And it's not personal at all. It is -- thank you.
SEXTON: No, no, that was personal.
KAYYEM: It's not personal at all. We just take a step back right here, as I said, I am a democrat, I supported Hillary Clinton. I am not interested in re-litigating this campaign.
SEXTON: But a lot of people are, did you read Paul Krugman today? I mean, a lot of people on the left are interested in that.
KAYYEM: Right. But that's of less -- so who cares? Who cares at this stage?
SEXTON: Most of the...
KAYYEM: What matters the most is that a foreign country thought that they could play in our election, that should matter to you not...
SEXTON: It matters, and we've known that -- we've known that for months.
LEMON: OK. Matthew and Ryan will weigh-in right after the break.
LEMON: President-elect Donald Trump at odds with the leaders of his own party in Congress over Russia's hacking of the election.
Back with me now Matthew Rojansky, also Ryan Lizza, Juliette Kayyem, and Buck Sexton.
[22:20:00] Mack -- Matt -- Matthew, excuse me, you first, do you -- do you -- what is a partisan aspect of this, is there one, does Buck have a point here?
ROJANSKY: So, look, historically, when the Russians the Soviet Union before them, you know, KGB, secret agent man, when they were intervening in American politics which they did all throughout the Cold War they didn't come at us on our strong suit, they came at us where we were weak, right?
So, it was, you know, our racial divisions during the Cold War, our support for authoritarian regimes that happened to be anti-communist. You know, areas where we had serious problems. Where's our biggest problem in politics today? Hyper partisanship.
The fact that any issue even if it's a vital national security question can be politicized and turned into a vulnerability. Where are they striking now, this is the perfect place to strike. And watch, they have unleashed an absolute partisan feeding frenzy, that I think is weakening the country and it's not getting at the core problem as some other guests have mentioned.
LEMON: You said you want to respond to something that Juliette said.
ROJANSKY: Yes. That Juliette made the point about, you know, if the Russians hadn't been caught, well then this plan would have worked perfectly.
So, first of all, you always get caught. If you look at the last half century, the United States has intervened in other country's politics. The Soviet Union has done, so almost without exception, you know, there -- some information about that has come out.
That's part of the reason U.S./Iran relationship became so dysfunctional. Because we intervened in the most sadist (Ph0 way. However, this is a win-win for the Russians, because even with this information having come out, it demonstrates this hyper partisanship and the dysfunction of the system.
Even the FBI and the CIA saying different things about what the intelligence indicates. This is a win for the Russians.
LEMON: I want to get the Trump folks response to this Kellyanne Conway talked about Donald Trump and his criticism of the intelligence assessments on Russia. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I would never paint with such a broad brush to implicate the CIA. We have based in the intelligence community Donald Trump was asked that question squarely this weekend, do you have faith in the intelligence community. He turned around and said, I do. And he does, we all do.
So, we're not talking about the CIA here. We're talking about a few people, apparently, who are leaking information to journalists maybe to carry favor, maybe to feel like they are effecting the election after the outcome, which of course we know they can't do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's a far cry from calling the CIA ridiculous is she trying to clean up at this point?
LIZZA: I think she's trying to clean it up a little bit. I mean, it's not her issue and Trump's issue is indeed with the CIA. It is the CIA that went to Congress and briefed Congress and said that it is their judgment that it would not just that the Russians hacked the democrats, but that they wanted -- it was their intention to help elect Donald Trump.
Now, I think everyone needs to have a little bit more clarity on this, right? This is coming from anonymous sources on the Hill. But I don't think we have any doubt that this -- it was the CIA's understanding that they do this briefing.
But it's not helpful to anyone. It's not helpful for the American people to make sense of this all unless we have a further investigation...
LEMON: What about the partisan aspect of this?
LIZZA: Because we've just in the bottom of what has happened.
Well, this is where I wanted to say in respond to what Buck said. Because I think Buck is channeling the frustration of a lot of Trump supporters who see this investigation, who see this issue of what Russia did as simply a way to discredit Donald Trump's victory.
And I don't think there's anybody around that. The fact to the matter is, it does put a bit of an asterisk next to his victory but at the same time...
LEMON: But is that on the Russians part or the democrat's part?
LIZZA: ... we can't.
SEXTON: Can I actually respond?
LIZZA: Look, the democrats, there's no doubt that the democrats are...
LEMON: Yes, Buck, when he's done you can respond. Go ahead.
LIZZA: ... going to seize on this issue, but to me, that doesn't mean that we don't look into it. That doesn't mean that we don't put together some kind of fair hopefully bipartisan investigation that lays out the facts clearly.
And look, if that means that Donald Trump -- if his victory is somewhat tainted or some people would argue that it's tainted, so be it. It's far more important -- it's beyond Trump, it's beyond republicans and democrats. This is about our country and our democracy. And what partisans do with that information, so what?
LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Buck.
SEXTON: I just feel like I'm drowning on the sanctity of this issue. The reality here is that this didn't change the election. Nobody in the intelligence community believes that it changed the election, but that is a leap that is already being made analytically by a lot of very prominent voices in this country who want that they are going to be more than an asterisk under Donald Trump's name, they want this to be an illegitimate presidency.
And they are trying to undermine it from the very beginning. Investigate this all you want, that's great. Congress is going to do that. Donald Trump is not going to stop them nor he could he stop them from doing so. We're not going to find out a whole lot of new information.
We certainly not going to have the disclosure of sources and methods about the specificity of this information. The chain of who got it, when they got it, and how they got it, we're never going to know that.
So, what they might found out is that, yes, Russia was meddling in this. By the way, the notion that they hacked into the RNC or into republican GOP e-mail accounts, and then did nothing, and that somehow proved that they are trying to help the democrats all along. Why hack into the GOP e-mail accounts in the first place?
LEMON: Are you saying that seems to be... [22:24:59] SEXTON: And they may use that stuff, they may use that down the line actually against the GOP, that's already been raised, But this is being inflated as an issue, specifically because of the partisan politics behind it. And everybody pretending that this is about saving about democracy is just hyperventilating over something that had no chance of changing the election whatsoever.
LIZZA: But then I don't think that -- but that would mean that Mitch McConnell who came out today in favor of a bipartisan investigation, that would mean that Mitch McConnell is in favor of somehow making Donald Trump's election tainted. I mean, you don't believe that, do you?
SEXTON: No, no, just the investigation doesn't tainted, but the fact that there is an investigation as being used as fodder for people to go out there and go beyond the fact, for example, this notion that there's a consensus within the CIA, that they know this for a fact, no, we keep going back to this -- it is a few sources or rather it might even be sources from within Congress who should not be speaking out of school about this. This should not be investigated undermining Donald Trump.
LEMON: Are you saying it should not be investigated, Buck?
SEXTON: I'm sorry, Don?
LEMON: Are you saying they should not be investigated?
SEXTON: No, I have said already that it should definitely be investigated but we should keep the issue in the proper context and understand that there is an effort right now to create a narrative before we have all the facts that what Russia did here, either tip the election or show that there is some shady underhanded connection between Donald Trump and Russia and that this is an illegitimate election.
Do you want to talk about dangerous by the way, of separating people and not bring the country together, that's incredibly dangerous before a president going to take office.
LEMON: Isn't that a leap that you're making? Because I haven't heard many people saying, that this is to delegitimize Donald Trump.
SEXTON: The Daily Beast, the New York Times, read the editorial pages of some of the most widely read papers in the country.
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Well, OK, fine. We're just talking about the press -- we're
talking about the intelligence -- we're talking the intelligence here and also people on the Hill like Mitch McConnell and others who are saying this should definitely be investigate.
Listen, partisan news organizations are folks are going to do with it what they will. That doesn't mean that is necessarily so just because you're saying that.
SEXTON: I'm not saying they won't investigate, Don. I'm just saying we should give this the proper context, which is that this didn't change the election. Nobody is making that case...
LEMON: I don't think anyone is going to -- no one is making the case that it's going to changes the election.
SEXTON: No, I was going to say no one makes that case base on the facts but that's the insinuation actually.
SEXTON: That's what they're trying to do there. They're trying to -- they're trying to undermine a Trump presidency before it takes effect by saying that well, Russia intervene? The fake news, a couple of weeks ago, that was -- that was out of nowhere and the FBI director. Hillary Clinton herself said, the FBI director tipped the election for her. I mean, this is nonsense.
LEMON: Yes. So, Juliette, moving on, if Donald Trump doesn't believe the intelligence on the hacking in regards to Russia, what -- that raises the question, what other intelligence assessments will he question?
KAYYEM: Well, I think the way he did it so publicly dangerous, look, he's not taking the daily presidential brief, that's his choice, I personally think he should take it, because people think that the CIA just stands there or the intelligence briefer just stands there and said, you know, this is happening, and we'll let you know when there's a smoking gun.
That's the wrong theory of intelligence. And what -- what any briefing does, especially daily briefing it lets the principle understand what is happening around the world, let's the principle ask questions which is key so that the intelligence agency has come back to the next day with the answers.
Also it helps drive resources, policy decisions, where are you going to put money or more troops or more agents. So, it's a more iterative more active process than him sitting passively by.
I think the most disconcerting thing about this and this is just, you know, he's not going to take my advices, but just, you know, something that -- to either not be interested in the intelligence or as related to the hacking, to show hostility toward the intelligence agencies is just a really bad message to our enemies.
It shows a lack of interest or curiosity. It shows hostility. One day President Trump will ask us as a nation to go to war possibly to deploy troops, and he will base that on the various intelligence agencies that he's either not listening to or undermining, and I think he has to take the long view in this.
SEXTON: I remember when President Obama wanted to lock up people from the intelligence agencies for doing their jobs.
LEMON: That's going to be the last word. Thank you very much. We'll be right back and we're going to talk about the president-elect's choice for secretary of state. Thank you.
[22:30:00] LEMON: We have some breaking news tonight Transition sources say, President-elect Trump is picking Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state.
Let's discuss with Major General James Spider Marks, a CNN military analyst, and Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Fareed, I want to start with you. What's your reaction to the Tillerson pick?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Well, Rex Tillerson, if there is a CEO who is prepared to be secretary of state. It is certainly Rex Tillerson. Exxon is like a country. I mean, it has, you know, it's one of the five or six largest companies in the world. It has its operations all over the world.
And energy is a political business. And Tillerson has negotiated with the governments all over the world. Exxon has its own intelligence department, which is very good, they do forecasting of the very same kind that the CIA does. So, you know, he is in the sense had a dry run for this job in a way that very few CEO's have had.
The two things that I worry about, one is, you know, what is good for Exxon is not always the same as what's good for America. For example, Exxon did a deal with the Kurds, in which they got the oil from northern Iraq.
The State Department, the National Security Council, the Defense Department all said was a bad idea, because it would break Iraq apart. Exxon said, we don't care. This is under Tillerson, it's good for our shareholders. Perfectly fine, perfectly appropriate, but we hope that, you know, as he transitions to be secretary of state, he will put the interest of the broader interests of the country.
And it's quite, you know, it's quite possible he will, it's quite -- one should hope and expect he will. The puzzle here does remain the Russia angle, it's not Rex Tillerson. Rex Tillerson, again, he's a very fine businessman, he's done what he should do for his company.
But if you add it all together Donald Trump's repeated soft, generous, warm statements toward Putin and toward Russia, the appointment of Mike Flynn who has taken money to stir, you know, to be a bank what's honoring Putin and the Russians.
Now, Tillerson, you wonder whether there is some kind, you know, strange pro-Russian tilt here that is inexplicable. But I don't have, I have to say, I think that it would be wrong to cast aspersions on Rex Tillerson without giving him a chance to explain some of this, he's been a -- he has a lot of the background that you would look for in a highly competent secretary of state.
LEMON: I want to bring in the general now and to get him to respond, but to -- what he thinks. But before I do that, General, Tilerson has very close ties to Russia. He Friendship from Putin in 2013, one of the highest awards a foreign person can receive. Are you troubled by that friendship?
[22:35:03] JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I am, from this perspective that we need to be cautious. As Fareed laid out so very well. You have to be very cautious in terms of the type of relationship we want to try to establish with Russia.
What that means is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with trying to embrace Russia in a very measured, trust building way, and we've not defined what that is, it's dangerous I think to try to define Syria as the testing ground for where we might find a way to cooperate and work together with the Russians.
That's as dangerous as it can be. We've never had at the operational and the technical level any ability. We've never worked either with the Soviets or with Russia. We -- there's a lot at stake there.
So, Syria is not a place where you want to do that. But there are a number of places where we could engage with Russia, and try to walk down a path that would allow us to have a better more trusting relationship. Right there, it's not there, so we can't just scale and jump right into this.
LEMON: So, just overall his choice as for Tillerson what do you think?
MARKS: I think he's a talented guy. You know, again, to Fareed's point, the intelligence, Exxon has sources, primarily sources all over the world. They have employees all over the place that can give you immediate realtime assessments of what's taking place on the ground. That's invaluable.
LEMON: All right. Good. And that's the breaking news. Rex Tillerson CEO, CNN is learning that he will be pick as secretary of state. Fareed, in general, I want to move on now and I want to talk about the hacking. Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies concluded before the election that Russia is responsible. And now the CIA says that they are confident the Russians did it to help Donald Trump.
Trump calls that ridiculous, and won't even say the Russians did it, why is he taking on the intelligence community like this? Fareed first.
ZAKARIA: Well, you know why, Don. I mean, it's one of the unfortunate character traits of Donald Trump, which is he's thin-skinned, he's defensive, he takes everything personally, everything is about him, imagine if Donald Trump as president-elect were to say something completely different, were to say, look, the whole issue of cyber warfare is really serious, it's very important.
We -- I look forward to, you know, reading the reports and getting briefings from the intelligence community. We'll take it very seriously.
It doesn't change the election, he's still won, it doesn't change anything, he's just approaching it seriously, in the way it should be taken. Look, cyber warfare is the next frontier and what the Russians appeared to be doing, forget about this particular case.
What the Russians appeared to be doing all over Europe, is this very clever cyber warfare where they influence political events, influence elections, and they do it with plausible deniability because they are doing it in these -- in these kind of off-fly in these ways that are very difficult to prove.
I think this is a very serious problem, and I think not taking it seriously is frankly, irresponsible. It cannot change the outcome of the election. That's done. What we can do going forward surely Donald Trump does not want to live in a country that is hostage to a foreign country's ability to meddle.
To Gary Kasparov, the Russian, you know, chess Grandmaster, who is a very close student predicted exactly that he said I would bet you that what the Russians have done, he said this I think six months ago, is they hacked into the Democratic and Republican National Committees, they are leaking the Democratic National Committee stuff because for now they favor Trump, but they are holding stuff about the republicans because they want to have leverage with Trump.
If that's the case, that's not very good for Donald Trump either, and he should learn about it, and we should learn what are the best ways the United States can counter that kind of new warfare.
LEMON: General, should we assume that the Russians are hacking the military as well, at least -- at least trying to?
MARKS: Don, absolutely, without a doubt. The cyber domain is a domain of warfare, we have air, ground, et cetera, and we have rules that govern all that. Cyber is an ungoverned common, folks exist and operate and do things online without any rules. So we have to assume that they are attacking us, we have an ability to
pick that up. Our NSA is unmatched. They have, they, the Russians and others that mean us harm, have some incredible capabilities, but we have to assume.
In fact, I would say, every time you go online, every time you hit send, you consent to monitoring, somebody is picking up what you're doing and how you're doing it, so, yes, the Russians are doing that and yes, we have to be very aggressive.
In fact, I would argue what the president-elect should do is say, Russia did try to get into our election, they were successful, we can't draw, you know, draw causality in terms of how that influenced the outcome. So let's not talk about that. But he should walk up with the report and go right to Putin and say, OK, man, I know what you're doing, I know how you're doing it, I don't care about where and when. I know you did it. Let's establish some rules.
Let this you and I agree if this doesn't work but we can work together and let's describe what that looks like.
[22:40:02] LEMON: General, thank you. Fareed, thank you as well. I appreciate it. When we come right back, it has been five months since Donald Trump held a news conference, and the one he promised for this week, that's postponed. So, why the delay? We'll talk about that.
LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. This is according transition sources. They say President-elect Donald Trump is picking Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state.
Let's discuss now with CNN political commentator David Swerdlick is here. CNN political analyst, Rebecca Berg, CNN political commentator, Kevin Maddden, a republican strategist. Thank you all. Let me start with David. The Tillerson pick, do you think it's going to face resistance, stiff resistance in confirmation?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Stiff resistance, we'll see. I think there will be some resistance. You already had some of those republicans out there today like Senator Rubio, saying that they, you know, -- this is not exactly what they had in mind. You also had republicans also gearing up on the other front with the Russia hack issue suggesting that they want investigations into it.
All this adds up to, I think because Mr. Tillerson has ties to Russia, ties to Putin through his business contacts, it's going to face more scrutiny than some of his other picks. But will still he be confirmed? Right now I have to say I bet he will be confirmed.
LEMON: Let me go around the table just for some quick assessment? What do you make of this?
[22:44:59] KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there will be -- there were some troubling signs today that there was some resistance, but I think one of the interesting things is whether now that the -- now that the actual nomination has been put in play, whether now that resistance begins to subside.
Because I think Mr. Trump, President-elect Trump, I think he has very strong faith in Rex Tillerson's ability to make the case himself, so as Rex Tillerson begins to meet with senators around the Hill, he begins to confront some of these questions that have been raised about his ties with Russia directly that he'll start to win some converts, and that you'll some of that resistance start to subside.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And there were also be a huge push by some of his allies, so we're hearing now that Condoleezza Rice is a supporter of Tillerson's, and actually her firm has worked with Exxon Mobil doing consulting so she knows him quite him.
Bob Gates is another name we're hearing. Dick Cheney, James Baker, all of these people will be involved in pushing Tillerson on the Hill vouching for his credentials.
BERG: And so, I think the challenge for him and for Trump's team is going to really be making the case that although he has this deep connection with someone like Vladimir Putin, that that's more a reflection of his deep experience across the globe. And all the work he's done for Exxon Mobil internationally. And he does.
I mean, he's been doing this job for many years, he's travelled internationally, extensively and worked with these leaders for decades. And so, the challenge for them will be making the case that that is more of a reflection of his experience than necessarily his personal relationship with Vladimir Putin.
SWERDLICK: Don, I was just going to add. I also think that President- elect Trump has confidence in the fact that republicans in Congress are not quite ready to really challenge him on something this important yet. We may get to that point, but I don't think we're there yet.
LEMON: An interesting choice at least to sort of vet with Mitt Romney, and Mitt Romney confirming and if we can put the tweet up, confirming tonight that he will not be picked as secretary of state, and here's what he said on a Facebook post.
He said, "It was an honor to have been considered for secretary of state of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace."
I want to ask you first because you worked with Mitt Romney, right? What do you think of that? Does this surprise you?
MADDEN: Well, I think he's genuinely interested in seeing the administration succeed, he, I think he's being honest, too, about the fact that they did have good discussions. And you know, I think he was -- I think he legitimately was being considered himself. And that the process, I think that he saw was one that he thinks is going to produce a strong secretary of state nominee in Rex Tillerson.
LEMON: I have to ask you, I have to move on and ask about Trump transition team announcing, David, that they are not going to be giving a press conference, he's not going to be giving a press conference tomorrow to talk about his business plans. And he's going to make the announcement in January. Why do you think the delay till then?
SWERDLICK: Well, it's probably a combination of what they're saying, which is that they still got some legal issues to work out. They didn't expect to win this election so they're behind the eight ball in terms of planning for this separation of President-elect Trump from his business. But also it's not clear how much he is going to separate from his business.
You know, going back a couple of weeks when he was taking calls from world leaders and then having, for instance, Ivanka Trump on the phone with him when they talked to the president of Argentina, where they have a real estate deal going on under the Trump organization does.
It's not clear to me that there's going to be a clean separation. And this is buying them some time at least to figure out how they are going to present this to the public.
LEMON: All right. More to come. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
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LEMON: Back now with my guests David Swerdlick, Rebeccca berg, and Kevin Madden. I want to ask you about this, David, three of the most prominent supporters of Donald Trump in the election haven't found a place in the new administration. Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich. Does that surprise you?
SWERDLICK: Not completely. Because there's been this narrative out here that Donald Trump prizes loyalty above all things, but that just simply hasn't been the case. He's been through several campaign managers during the campaign. When it suited him he moved on, smartly, probably.
But now we're in this phase where even though you have these gentlemen who defended him when no one else would defend him, he's gone with picks that he thinks are going to make him look better. What people should understand about Donald Trump whether they like or don't like him is that his motivation, one of his top line motivations, is he wants to look good. And if a pick is not going to make him look good he won't pick them.
LEMON: But, Rebecca, is that him is that the team around him going, listen, I know that you like this person, but we're telling you, you need to move on.
BERG: The sense that I've gone, Don, is that it really is Donald Trump making these decisions ultimately, and that's why leading up to a lot of these picks, there's been some confusion around who he might actually select.
Because ultimately, Donald Trump is the only one in this -- in his inner circle who knows what he is thinking, and he can change his mind very rapidly as we've seen during the campaign and during the transition. So, really this is -- this is driven by him.
LEMON: So, do you think -- do you think these early picks were surprise -- these gentlemen were surprised because they supported him very early on and they were not picked? Do you think they were surprise like, wait a minute, we thought you were loyal?
BERG: Well, you know, it's impossible for me to get inside maybe Newt Gingrich's head and figure that out, but based on some of their public comments. Newt Gingrich has gone out there, and you know, in some cases kind of gone a little bit off message from what you would expect from an inside adviser, so there might be a little bit of bitterness there.
I mean, you look at the way he reacted to Mitt Romney potentially being picked as secretary of state, someone who vehemently opposed Donald Trump during the election. And you got the sense that Newt Gingrich, that didn't really sit well with him, because he had been so loyal. And what was he getting out of that.
LEMON: Do you think this is about trying to avoid confirmation trouble?
MADDEN: Well, I think -- I think it's two things. I think first, it is the wants and the needs didn't necessarily match. They may have wanted to some of these bigger jobs but Donald Trump didn't need them in that. And then yes, say, you know, two out of those three, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Rudy Giuliani may have had problems getting confirmed.
And that's a simple reality, and particularly when you have the stress of a transition and the pressures on a transition, to make sure that the people you put up will be confirmed, you know, that probably left them cancelled out.
[22:55:02] BERG: And Donald Trump does care so much about stature, and as you were saying, David, how people around him make him look, can you think of anyone that garners more respect than the CEO of Exxon Mobil, for example, these titans of industry, and generals who literally have medals on their chests. I mean, it's...
MADDEN: Yes. And they also, they're exactly -- they're also they exactly what he said he wanted to put in place when he was running, he said, we need people who understand business, we need people who aren't of Washington and haven't been in government. And so, you know, the first three names are a departure from that profile.
LEMON: But he also that -- go ahead.
SWERDLICK: I was just going to say he picked Mike Pence as his running mate, even though Mike Pence endorsed Ted Cruz in the primaries.
MADDEN: He was more of an outsider, too, Mike Pence.
SWERDLICK: Well, Mike pence is a conservative and Donald Trump is something other than that.
LEMON: But David, so far, he has -- he has chosen several major donors or fund-raisers to join his cabinet. During the campaign he said that he was going to drain the swamp, do you think these kinds of appointments are contrary to that statement?
SWERDLICK: Yes. I do.
MADDEN: He said, OK, that's it.
SWERDLICK: Well, it remains to be seen what kind of job they'll do. But you have folks like Betsy DeVos for education. You have Rex Tillerson. These are -- these are establishment people, these are not, you know, the people up from the body politics so to speak.
These are well heeled, people who have contributed to the party, who have connections within the party, who have -- who have been insider circles for throughout their careers, this is who Donald Trump is running himself with, and I think it's by design. Whether it works or not is what makes...
MADDEN: But if you look at it in a different they're all outsiders. Like even someone like Congressman Tom Price, he is a critic of the way HHS has been run. He's an outsider in that agency, that's why he's there. Steve Mnuchin is somebody who has Wall Street experience but he has not of Washington, neither is Rex Tillerson. So, they all fit a very similar profile of being -- of having a career outside the swamp.
SWERDLICK: They're not creatures of Washington.
SWERDLICK: But they are not -- but they are not outside Washington.
LEMON: I've never heard someone's name mispronounced so much as Mnuchin. I've heard of Mnuchin.
MADDEN: Did I get it right?
LEMON: You got it right.
MADDEN: There you go.
LEMON: Munchin, Nunchin, Noonchin, whatever. Thank you. I appreciate it.
When we come right back, is free speech under fire in America. Why some students are calling for safe spaces to protect them on campus. And those students are not liberals.
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