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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
STEVE INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the "NewsHour" tonight:
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: I saw the information.
I read the information outside of that meeting.
It's all fake news.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In his first news conference as president-elect, Donald Trump takes on
reports of Russian spying, questions over conflicts of interest with his business, and
much more.
STEVE INSKEEP: Also ahead: His choice for secretary of state faced questions at a confirmation
Rex Tillerson was asked if Russia's Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Plus, we continue our series The Obama Years with a look at the president's
efforts to fight climate change.
CAROL BROWNER, Former Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change: I think that
this president believes that climate change is real.
He believes there is a moral and ethical imperative to act.
STEVE INSKEEP: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
We are having some guests join me here at the "NewsHour" anchor desk in the coming weeks.
Tonight, it is Steve Inskeep, who many of you recognize from NPR's "Morning Edition."
Welcome, Steve.
STEVE INSKEEP: I'm delighted to be here.
It's an honor.
Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We're so glad to have you.
And we are devoting much of tonight's program to our lead story, and that is the Donald
Trump news conference today.
It came amid a swirl of stories about the president-elect and Russia.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: It's all fake news.
It's phony stuff.
It didn't happen.
And it was gotten by opponents of ours.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At his first news conference since the election, Donald Trump flatly denied
the Russians have any compromising information on him.
DONALD TRUMP: But it should never have been released, but I read what was released.
And I think it's a disgrace.
I think it's an absolute disgrace.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The bombshell burst Tuesday evening, when CNN reported the president-elect
and President Obama were briefed on the matter last week.
The report included unsubstantiated claims that Russian intelligence compiled a dossier
on Mr. Trump during visits to Moscow.
The Web site BuzzFeed then published a 35-page cache of memos from the alleged dossier, including
a claim of sexual activity caught on a Moscow hotel room surveillance camera.
The New York Times and other major news organizations said they had been aware of the information
for months, but could not verify the claims.
Today, Mr. Trump insisted he wouldn't put himself in such a position.
DONALD TRUMP: I told many people, be careful, because you don't want to see yourself on
There are cameras all over the place, and, again, not just Russia, all over.
Does anyone really believe that story?
I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: From there, the president-elect lit into the news media again.
He condemned BuzzFeed.
DONALD TRUMP: It's a failing pile of garbage writing it.
I think they're going to suffer the consequences.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And he accused CNN of being fake news, and brushed off persistent attempts
by its correspondent to ask a question.
Later, CNN's parent company, Time Warner, defended its reporting, and BuzzFeed said
it published what it called a newsworthy document.
As for the leak itself:
DONALD TRUMP: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies
allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out.
I think it's a disgrace, and I say that.
And that's something that Nazi Germany would have done, and did do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On Russian hacking more broadly, the president-elect suggested an upside to
the probing of Democratic Party computers and e-mails.
DONALD TRUMP: The hacking is bad and it shouldn't be done.
But look at the things that were hacked.
Look at what was learned from that hacking, that Hillary Clinton got the questions to
the debate and didn't report it?
That's a horrible thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Likewise, he acknowledged the intelligence verdict that President Vladimir
Putin ordered the hacking, but he didn't leave it there.
DONALD TRUMP: I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries
and other people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And looking ahead, Mr. Trump suggested the hacking will not necessarily
hinder future cooperation with Putin.
DONALD TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks?
That's called an asset, not a liability.
Now, Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I'm leading it than when
other people have led it.
You will see that.
Russia will respect our country more.
He shouldn't have done it.
I don't believe he will be doing it more.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There were also questions about the Trump Organization's business ties to
Russia, and he denied there are any.
DONALD TRUMP: We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to.
I just don't want to, because I think that would be a conflict.
So I have no loans, no dealings and no current pending deals.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Trump has not released tax returns to verify his claims, and he said
again he won't do so until a federal audit is finished.
He also declined to say whether his associates or campaign staff had contact with Russian
officials during the campaign.
An ABC reporter tweeted later that the president-elect denied any such contact after the news conference
We take a closer look at Russia, the president-elect, and these latest revelations with former attorney
at the National Security Agency Susan Hennessey.
She is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution and is managing editor for the Web site Lawfare
about the intersection of the law and national security.
And John Sipher, he served almost 30 years at the CIA, both in the agency's clandestine
service and executive ranks.
He was stationed in Moscow in the 1990s and he ran the CIA's Russia program for three
He's now at CrossLead, a consulting firm.
And welcome to both of you.
So let's start, Susan Hennessey, but I just want to ask both of you in brief, what do
you make of this report?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, Brookings Institution: Right.
So, for the moment, the real story is the allegations themselves are unverified.
They're obviously quite salacious in nature.
The real story is that the intelligence community thought it was appropriate to brief the president
of the United States and the president-elect.
That means that serious people are taking this seriously.
That's different than saying that the intelligence community believes the allegations or has
substantiated them.
But this is a matter that is not just simply a matter of fake news or something that we
should disregard.
It clearly passes some degree of preliminary credibility.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John Sipher, your take?
JOHN SIPHER, Former CIA Officer: I think the question is, is this real?
And there are things on the positive side and the negative side on that.
On the positive side, for those of us who have lived and worked and worked in Russia
and against the Russians, it does feel right.
It does feel like the kind of thing that Russians do.
A lot of those details fit.
Also, I think, the author has some credibility, which is on the positive side.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the former British intelligence officer.
JOHN SIPHER: That's right.
On the negative side, it really is hard to make a distinction if we don't know who those
sources are.
He talks about his sources providing various information.
In the CIA, before we would put out a report like that, an intelligence report, there could
be, you know, hundreds of pages of information on that person's access, on their suitability,
on their personality.
We don't have that.
And, secondly, the fact that a lot of this reporting is the presidential administration
in Russia and the Kremlin is a little bit worrying, because, I mean, that's essentially
a hard nut to crack.
And U.S. intelligence agencies have been trying to do that for years, and the fact that he
has this much data about them does put it into question a little bit.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan Hennessey, let's talk about your organization, Lawfare.
You had a copy of this, what, several weeks ago.
And you started looking into it, decided not to put it out, but you did look into it.
How did you go about figuring out or trying to figure out what's real and what isn't here?
So, the document was shared with us to -- so that we could provide some professional input
as to whether or not it was credible.
As we were satisfied that the relevant government entities were aware of the documents, and
then like everybody else, we attempted to talk to people in various communities to see
whether or not the allegations seemed credible to them.
I think the point that we're at now, it's really not about our organization or anyone
else verifying the specific facts.
The FBI is conducting an investigation.
We will expect -- there are very specific allegations in this document.
Those allegations can either be proven true or proven false.
And so we should expect some answers that provide some additional clarity.
One important note is just because a single fact in the document is true, it doesn't mean
the rest of the document is true.
And just because a single fact in the document is false, that doesn't mean the rest of the
document is false.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That the entire thing is false.
Well, John Sipher, let's go back to what you said a minute ago.
You said there are parts of this that are credible, and you said it's the way the Russians
What did you mean by that?
JOHN SIPHER: It must look odd to views or anybody who has read this thing.
It's such a different world.
But Russia is a police state.
Russia has been a police state for much of its history.
And this is the way they often do business.
They collect blackmail on people.
When I lived there, we had audio and video in our houses.
We were followed all the time.
Restaurants and places, hotels like this are -- have video and audio in them.
They collect this.
They do psychological profiling of people to try to see who might be sources for them.
This is just the way the Russians operate.
So when you read this, it smacks of the kind of thing that we would believe is credible.
That doesn't mean it is.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The methods.
JOHN SIPHER: Right, the methods, right, and the -- right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you went on to say that the precise details in here are not borne
out, are not verified by any individuals outside of this report, the British -- the British
And in that sense, it's difficult because of the hyperpartisan atmosphere here.
The fact that this is now in the public is going to spin up on the salacious details
and these type of things, whereas I think the FBI does have a lot of experience doing
very sensitive investigations like this, working with partners overseas and others to try to
put this together, because there are a lot of details that we as citizens can't follow
up on.
Did people travel during those certain days?
Who are these people?
And that's the kind of stuff that we just can't do, and the FBI can and will.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For example, Susan Hennessey, there's a reference in here to an attempt
to get the FISA court, the court that has to OK investigations, surveillance of individuals,
permission for them to look at four different people who were working for the Trump campaign,
the Trump Organization.
How unusual would something like that be?
SUSAN HENNESSEY: So, certainly, it's highly unusual in the context of a political campaign
or a presidential election.
That said, there is news reports that perhaps there were additional attempts to secure a
FISA warrant, and that the FBI reportedly obtained one in October.
If the allegations in the documents are true, are accurate, those are the kinds of things
that would fall within FISA.
That's the type of warrant that the government would pursue.
That said, just like everything else, we're a step away from actually verifying the substance
of that.
John Sipher, if you're in charge of the investigation to figure out what is and what isn't right,
if anything is accurate in here, what do you need to do now?
JOHN SIPHER: What you need to do is take each piece of this document and run it to ground.
So, you need to find out -- they talk -- the issue here is not the salacious details, the
blackmail piece.
The issue here is the criminal behavior if people in the Trump campaign were working
with Russian intelligence to collect information on Americans.
If that's the case, there's a lot of detail in there that needs to be verified.
And we have to find out, did the people travel on the days they said they traveled, those
type of things?
So, there are a lot of things to run down that you can run down with your partners and
information that you can collect as part of an investigation in U.S. travel records, all
these type of things.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan Hennessey, what would you add to that?
If you were involved in trying to determine if any parts of this are accurate or to verify
that they're not accurate, how would do you that?
So, certainly, the FBI is going to be calling on all of their resources to investigate the
specific allegations, things like travel records, things like financial documents.
They're also going to need to draw on intelligence sources.
And so there are specific sort of comments about meetings between Putin and others, very
sort of high-level, high-value intelligence targets.
They would really need to reach very deeply into their intelligence networks and the networks
of allied intelligence agencies in order to see if anything to lend credibility or substantiate
these very serious allegations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John Sipher, we saw that Senator John McCain had a role, the Republican senator,
of course, from Arizona, had a role in this.
How did he come into this, and does that tell us anything?
JOHN SIPHER: Well, Senator McCain, obviously, has a lot of experience working with the government
on sensitive things and has always been a hawk on Russia issues.
And I'm supportive of that.
I think he's been good in that case.
My understanding is the author of this himself provided information, this information to
get to the FBI, through Mr. McCain, who got the information through the FBI.
And, obviously, other news places had it.
What's interesting is President Trump, president-elect Trump seems to think that the intelligence
agencies themselves leaked this information, whereas it doesn't seem to me that that's
the case.
The fact that you and others have had this for so long and actually held off on putting
it suggests to me that this information has been out there for a while, and I think that's
why General Clapper and others briefed the president-elect on this last Friday.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you add to that?
SUSAN HENNESSEY: So, I think this is an incredibly important point.
So, when President-elect Trump today seemed to suggest that he believes the intelligence
community leaked this, saying it would be a blot if they had done so, there's absolutely
no indication that the intelligence community is the source of the documents.
BuzzFeed, the organization that published this document, this is actually not even an
intelligence community document.
It is a private company.
It's not even classified material.
And so a little bit, there is a suspicion that once again Donald Trump is using his
personal attacks on the intelligence community a little bit to divert attention away from
the substance of the allegations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly to both of you, how confident are you that we're going to
know eventually whether this is -- whether any of this is accurate?
JOHN SIPHER: I have confidence.
Yes, I have confidence that the FBI is going to follow this through.
My nervousness is that these kind of things are going to dribble and drabble out for the
next several years and cause a real problem for this administration going forward.
SUSAN HENNESSEY: Because this is so important to the credibility of the president, we would
really want to see him establish some kind of independent commission or council in order
to really get to the bottom of these facts and provide some reassurance to the American
people, not only that this is being investigated, but also that president-elect Trump himself
is taking this matter very seriously.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan Hennessey, John Sipher, we thank you both.
JOHN SIPHER: Thank you.
STEVE INSKEEP: Now, during his press conference, the president-elect said something that no
president-elect may have said before.
He said he had just turned down a multibillion-dollar business deal.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: Over the weekend, I was offered $2 billion to do a
deal in Dubai with a very, very, very amazing man, a great, great developer from the Middle
East, Hussain Damac, a friend of mine, great guy.
And I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai, a number of deals.
And I turned it down.
STEVE INSKEEP: Now, $2 billion, his friend Hussain Damac was apparently a man with a
different last name, who runs a company called DAMAC Group.
But, nevertheless, the talk of a deal in a key Persian Gulf nation, days before he moves
into the White House, suggests the clash between the president's duties and his worldwide business.
The president-elect says he has a plan to manage those conflicts, which we're going
to evaluate this evening.
That plan includes turning the business over to his two older sons, plus a business executive.
His sons aren't supposed to tell him what they're doing.
And the president-elect will step back from management, but remain the owner of Trump
Organization, and the company will avoid new overseas business deals.
Mr. Trump said he's doing this, even though the law would allow him to keep making deals
as president.
DONALD TRUMP: I don't like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted
I would be the only one that would be able to do that.
You can't do that in any other capacity.
But, as a president, I could run the Trump Organization, great, great company, and I
could run the company -- the country.
I would do a very good job, but I don't want to do that.
STEVE INSKEEP: The president-elect is correct that a federal conflict of interest law excludes
the president, but what about all the other issues?
We have brought in two lawyers who managed ethics issues for two presidents.
Richard Painter did it for President George W. Bush.
Norm Eisen did it for President Obama.
And, Mr. Eisen, let's start with you.
The president-elect suggests he is going above and beyond.
Is he?
NORMAN EISEN, Former Special Counsel to President Obama: No.
He's going beneath and below the minimum floor that's required by law, that's required by
our most fundamental law, the Constitution, that is established by what every president
for four decades has done, that ethics require and that common sense requires, Steve.
This was a sad day.
I wasn't happy to see what happened here.
But what the president has announced fails every aspect of the bipartisan consensus that
has emerged on what he should do, and it's going to lead to scandal and corruption and
a constitutional crisis from the moment he's sworn in.
STEVE INSKEEP: OK, you mentioned the law.
You mentioned common sense.
Let's talk about common sense here a little bit here, Richard Painter.
We will get to the law.
What is wrong with turning over management of the company to his sons, who it is said
will act independently of him?
RICHARD PAINTER, Former Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush: Well, he will
still own the company.
And the problem is the company, the Trump Organization, has business deals all over
the world.
And some may be getting turned down, although some might get accepted.
There are already deals in place.
There are deals with powerful politicians in Indonesia, with oligarchs in the Philippines,
deals in Turkey.
I mean, these are parts of the world where there's very important issues to be dealt
with on behalf of the United States and strategic concerns.
We can't have the president have substantial economic exposure himself in these countries
and business partners who may be in league with foreign governments.
This is an enormous conflict of interests.
We also have the president of the president's name being on buildings around the world in
places where it's questionable whether these other countries can protect those buildings.
We don't have the Obama Tower in downtown Paris or Nairobi or some place.
And we couldn't protect it.
And then we put the Trump name up.
That's going to be jeopardizing the lives of the people who live in those buildings
and could drag the United States into a conflict.
That's only the beginnings of the problems.
We have potential mixing Trump business with United States government business.
And that would trigger a bribery investigation.
And then we, of course, have those payments coming in from foreign governments and companies
controlled by foreign governments that violate the Constitution, unless they sweep all of
those out of the Trump Organization as of January 20.
And they don't have the time to do it.
STEVE INSKEEP: You mentioned also the Constitution, and I definitely want to get to that, but
let's just refer to something else that Norm Eisen mentioned.
Norm Eisen said that this arrangement violates the bipartisan consensus about ethics for
the president of the United States in recent decades.
The president-elect, however, brought out a lawyer -- Sheri Dillon is her name -- at
this press conference, and she dismissed some of the more conventional solutions.
Let's watch.
SHERI DILLON, Attorney for Donald Trump: Some people have suggested a blind trust, but you
cannot have a totally blind trust with operating businesses.
President Trump can't un-know he owns Trump Tower.
And the press will make sure that any new developments at the Trump Organization are
well publicized.
Further, it would be impossible to find an institutional trustee that would be competent
to run the Trump Organization.
The approach he is taking allows Don and Eric to preserve this great company and its iconic
STEVE INSKEEP: Norm Eisen, I have actually heard this from a lot of people, who said,
blind trust, how can that be possible, because his assets are so visible?
His name is on buildings.
The name itself is the asset.
Is she right that a blind trust isn't going to work?
NORMAN EISEN: No, she's wrong on all three of those points.
On the first point, if it's a problem that he would still know things in a blind trust,
how much more of a problem is it now, where he has this completely unprecedented continuing
ownership interest, and very weak protections that were outlined today for communications
between and among his sons?
Does anybody really believe that they're not going to be talking about the business?
Then, number two, it actually would be simple to do this.
All Trump needs to do -- this is not complicated -- find an independent professional trustee.
There are plenty out there who have dealt with far more complications.
This is -- the Trump Organization is just a big international family business.
Trump signs it over.
This is what we hoped in a bipartisan way and prayed would happen today.
He signs it over to the trustee.
The trustee figures out, what can I sell?
How do I sell it?
What can I borrow?
Maybe I do a public equity, so if it's not sold on the market, the executives buy it,
package the less-indebted properties with the more-indebted properties.
Donald Trump has enough to worry about without thinking about that.
And then, on the third point of destroying the business, the Donald Trump name is at
an all-time high.
This is the best time to make these moves.
When the corruptions and the scandals start to flow, it's going to be much harder.
But he is going to have to do it, because those negative consequences are sure to follow.
STEVE INSKEEP: OK, just very briefly here now, the law.
You mentioned the law.
You mentioned the Constitution.
You have said that the president would violate the Constitution if he continues on this course.
The Emoluments Clause is what you're talking about.
It prohibits gifts from a foreign government.
But the president-elect's lawyer says nobody has defined a gift before for that purpose.
And she says the president doing business is not a gift.
SHERI DILLON: No one would have thought, when the Constitution was written, that paying
your hotel bill was an emolument.
Instead, it would have been thought of as a value-for-value exchange, not a gift, not
a title, and not an emolument.
But since president-elect Trump has been elected, some people want to define emoluments to cover
routine business transactions like paying for hotel rooms.
They suggest that the Constitution prohibits the businesses from even arm's-length transactions
that the president-elect has absolutely nothing to do with and isn't even aware of.
These people are wrong.
This is not what the Constitution says.
Paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present, and it has nothing to do with an
It's not an emolument.
STEVE INSKEEP: Richard Painter, what's wrong with that logic?
It's routine business.
RICHARD PAINTER: This is a for-profit hotel.
He is making profits over dealing with foreign governments.
Same with the loans from foreign government-owned banks.
Those are for a for-profit business.
That is prohibited under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Now, she's right on one point, that you can't take the Trump Tower, put it in a trust, and
pretend you don't have it.
Of course, the trustee will have to sell the Trump Tower.
He needs to make a decision, does he wants to be president, or does he want to be a landlord
and a hotel owner?
He has nine days to make that decision.
I thought he'd already made it.
But that's what this is about.
He just doesn't want to give up the hotel.
He doesn't want to give Trump Tower to his son or sell it.
And it is not that difficult to sell a nice building like that on Fifth Avenue.
STEVE INSKEEP: Norm Eisen, very briefly, can the president-elect resolve some of these
concerns just by being a lot more transparent about who is paying what for what?
NORMAN EISEN: Well, Professor Painter and I laid out yesterday a scorecard of five criteria.
And one of them was to have strong ethics provisions with strong transparency around
them, an ethics firewall.
But we made the point that alone is not enough.
He is going to be -- as Professor Painter says, emoluments covers all of the different
benefits that he's getting, loans, permits, trademarks, other things outside the hotel,
selling apartments to foreign government agents and sovereigns.
He's going to be in violation of the Constitution on day one, and no amount of transparency
can cure that offense against our founding document.
STEVE INSKEEP: Could they solve some of this problem by releasing the president-elect's
tax return?
NORMAN EISEN: It's critical that the tax returns come out, particularly today, when there's
been so much talk about Russia, Steve.
Professor Painter and I wrote during the campaign that there's an enormous amount of information
about foreign governments, gifts, payments, partnerships, even business expenses, possibly,
in deductions taken.
Given the nature of the Russia allegations, we need to see that.
And Richard and I said today that all Russia-related aspects of the tax returns should be released.
And the Intelligence Committees should get the full tax returns to put these Russia allegations
to bed.
STEVE INSKEEP: Norm Eisen was the top ethics lawyer for President Obama.
Richard Painter was the top ethics lawyers for President George W. Bush.
Gentlemen, thanks to you both.
NORMAN EISEN: Thanks, Steve.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president-elect made news on a number of other fronts today.
Our John Yang was in the room this morning, and he joins us now from Trump Tower.
So, John, as we said before, it's been a long time since Mr. Trump had had a news conference,
almost six months.
Before you tell us what more he said, give us a sense of the room, the scene.
JOHN YANG: It was in the lobby here of Trump Tower, the pink marble lobby of the tower.
It was standing room only.
Two hours before the session began, all the seats had already been claimed, reporters,
photographers, camera crews from all around the globe.
And it was if there was a pent-up demand to ask questions of the president-elect.
And Mr. Trump didn't disappoint.
In addition to all the big headlines that you have already talked about, he made news
on some other fronts, on Obamacare, for example.
He said he wants to move quickly to repeal and replace at the same time, even though
some key lawmakers of his own party say that may be hard to do.
He says he's going to unveil his own proposal as a replacement as soon as Representative
Tom Price is confirmed as his health and human services secretary.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: So, the easiest thing would be to let it implode in
And, believe me, we'd get pretty much whatever we wanted.
But it would take a long time.
We're going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously,
shortly thereafter, a plan.
It will be repeal and replace.
It will be essentially simultaneously.
It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or
the same week, but probably the same day.
JOHN YANG: Now, that Price nomination has run into some headwinds over questions about
his selling and trading health care-related stocks while he sits on the Ways and Means
Some Democrats say they want to know if he profited from insider information.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, another area where he made news had to do with filling that vacancy
on the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost a year ago, during which
time Republicans didn't go along with President Obama's nominee.
JOHN YANG: That's right.
And folks may remember that, in September, during the campaign, Mr. Trump released a
list of 21 possible nominees.
He said today that he's already begun interviewing some of those candidates, and he said he will
make his nomination to fill the court vacancy within two weeks after he's inaugurated.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John, he also spoke about the issue that really helped launch his campaign,
building the border wall with Mexico.
JOHN YANG: That's right, that signature issue of the campaign.
He said that Mexico is going to pay for it one way or another.
He said he doesn't want to wait and negotiate with Mexico about how they're going to pick
up the tab.
He said he wants to start building right away.
And Vice President Mike Pence is in charge of making that happen.
And then, he says, he will negotiate with Mexico on picking up the tab.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, John, he and his press spokesman had plenty to say about
the press, about -- in the wake of the story today about the Russian intel report on him.
JOHN YANG: That's right, Judy.
It wouldn't be a Trump press conference without a little press bashing.
Interestingly enough, he started out by saying how glad he was to be there holding a press
He sounded almost nostalgic for news conferences.
He even credited news conferences for winning the nomination for him.
But then things turned tense later in the session when he refused to take a question
from Jim Acosta of CNN.
CNN has been reporting very aggressively on this allegation that Russia has compromising
information about the president-elect.
DONALD TRUMP: CNN going out of their way to build it up, it's a disgrace.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: Sir, since you're attacking us, can you give us a question?
Mr. President-elect...
Go ahead.
JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, since you are attacking our news organization...
DONALD TRUMP: No, not you.
JIM ACOSTA: ... can you give us a chance?
DONALD TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.
JIM ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization.
DONALD TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.
JIM ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?
Sir, can you...
JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you say...
DONALD TRUMP: She's asking a question.
Don't be rude.
Don't be rude.
JIM ACOSTA: Can you give us a question since you're attacking us?
Can you give us a question?
DONALD TRUMP: Don't be rude.
No, I'm not going to give you a question.
I'm not going to give you a question.
JIM ACOSTA: Can you state...
DONALD TRUMP: You are fake news.
Go ahead.
JIM ACOSTA: Sir, can you...
JOHN YANG: Since then, CNN has pointed out that they have refrained from reporting on
the details of the alleged dossier, unlike BuzzFeed, because CNN hasn't been able to
independently verify any of the information.
But, in any case, Judy, it looks lie it's going to be an interesting four years in the
White House Briefing Room.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That's right, John.
The president-elect had strong words for both BuzzFeed and CNN.
John Yang reporting from just outside Trump Tower, thank you.
STEVE INSKEEP: The president-elect, as we have heard, took some questions about his
relationship with Russia.
And many more questions today went to his choice for secretary of
Margaret Warner has been watching the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
MARGARET WARNER: Rex Tillerson was nearly obscured by the mob of cameras as he settled
in for the marathon session.
Senators quickly focused on the topic of Russia.
Did Tillerson, as chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, have too cozy a relationship with Russian
President Vladimir Putin?
Florida Republican Marco Rubio:
MARCO RUBIO (R), Florida: Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?
REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State Nominee: I wouldn't use that term.
MARCO RUBIO: In Aleppo, Mr. Putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign.
He's targeted schools, markets.
It's resulted in the death of thousands of civilians.
This is not the first time Mr. Putin is involved in campaigns of this kind.
REX TILLERSON: Those are very, very serious charges to make, and I would want to have
much more information before reaching a conclusion.
REX TILLERSON: I would want to be fully informed before advising the president.
MARCO RUBIO: Well, are you aware that people who oppose Vladimir Putin wind up dead all
over the world, poisoned, shot in the back of the head?
And do you think that was coincidental, or do you think that it is quite possible or
likely, as I believe, that they were a part of an effort to murder his political opponents?
REX TILLERSON: Well, people who speak up for freedom in regimes that are repressive are
often at threat, and these things happen to them.
In terms of assigning specific responsibilities, I would have to have more information.
MARCO RUBIO: None of this is classified, Mr. Tillerson.
These people are dead.
MARGARET WARNER: Tillerson, at ExxonMobil, brokered multibillion-dollar deals with Russia,
meeting with Putin multiple times.
In 2013, he received the Order of Friendship award from Putin himself.
But Tillerson today said he'd support continuing sanctions against Russia for now.
He also implied his intimate knowledge of Russia meant he understood its strategy, and
could anticipate its moves, to America's benefit.
REX TILLERSON: Do you want this to get worse?
Or does Russia desire a different relationship?
We're not likely to ever be friends.
But I also know the Russian people, because of having spent so many years in Russia.
There is scope to define a different relationship that can bring down the temperature around
the conflicts we have today.
MARGARET WARNER: Outside the hearing and inside, protesters called on senators to reject the
nominee for his big oil ties.
Tillerson promised to recuse himself for a year from any decisions that would affect
REX TILLERSON: My love of country and my patriotism is going to dictate that I serve no one's
interests but that of the American people in advancing our own national security.
MARGARET WARNER: Climate change was also at issue.
As candidate, president-elect Trump called it a hoax, and promised to pull out of the
new Paris agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
At Exxon, Tillerson did oversee the company's shift from vigorously denying climate change
to acknowledging it.
Today, he did the same, with a caveat.
REX TILLERSON: I came to the conclusion a few years ago that the risk of climate change
does exist.
BOB CORKER (R), Tennessee: You believe that human activity, based on your belief and the
science, is contributing to climate change?
REX TILLERSON: The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having
an effect.
Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.
MARGARET WARNER: At steps along the way, Tillerson showed he diverges with Mr. Trump, as here
on NATO's response following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
BEN CARDIN (D), Maryland: So, your recommendation would have been to do a more robust supply
of military?
what -- I think what Russian leadership would have understood is a powerful response that
indicated a, yes, you took the Crimea, but this stops right here.
BEN CARDIN: And that's encouraging to me to hear you say that, because it's not exactly
consistent with what Mr. Trump has been saying.
MARGARET WARNER: Tillerson said if Russia invaded a NATO ally, he'd support an alliance
response under Article V.
He had some tough words on China, too, equating its island-building in the South China Sea
with Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Mr. Trump's penchant for announcing policy on Twitter also came up.
TODD YOUNG (R), Indiana: So, how do you finesse this?
How would you ensure the legs are not cut out from underneath you as the nation's chief
REX TILLERSON: Well, if confirmed, and I am able to serve this president-elect, I don't
think I'm going to be telling the boss how he ought to communicate with American people.
That's going to be his choice.
TODD YOUNG: Do you have in mind any contingency plans to address...
REX TILLERSON: Yes, I have his cell phone number.
REX TILLERSON: And he's promised me he will answer.
MARGARET WARNER: Tillerson's confirmation hearing is set to continue tomorrow morning.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Margaret Warner.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Still to come on the "NewsHour": a look back on President Obama's struggle
to cement his legacy on climate change.
But first, in the rest of the day's news: This was the second and final day of the confirmation
hearing for Jeff Sessions, the Trump nominee to be attorney general.
Black leaders have strongly criticized the Alabama senator.
And, as William Brangham reports, their views got a full airing today.
CORY BOOKER (D), New Jersey: I know it is exceptional for a senator to testify against
another senator
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Jeff Sessions wasn't in the room to hear it, but his nomination drew
a rare rebuke from a Senate colleague, Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey.
CORY BOOKER: He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender
Americans, but his record indicates that he won't.
He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won't.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis also spoke against
the nomination.
JOHN LEWIS (D), Georgia: It doesn't matter how Senator Sessions may smile, how friendly
he may be, how he may speak to you, but we need someone who's going to stand up, speak
up, and speak out for the people that need help, for people who have been discriminated
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Three black officials who worked with Sessions in the past gave their
support to the attorney general-designate.
MAN: Senator Sessions is unquestionably qualified for the job.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And a former attorney general, Michael Mukasey, came to his defense as well.
MICHAEL MUKASEY, Former U.S. Attorney General: Principled, intelligent, knowledgeable, thorough,
modest, and thoroughly dedicated to the rule of law and to the mission of the department,
which is to enforce the law and to preserve our freedoms.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sessions is ultimately expected to win easy confirmation in the Senate.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.
STEVE INSKEEP: Amid the president's Cabinet choices from outside Washington, there are
some from well inside.
His choice for transportation secretary is Elaine Chao.
She served two previous presidents.
And she testified today with her husband Mitch McConnell behind her.
She spoke of using private money to build up public infrastructure.
ELAINE CHAO, Secretary of Transportation-Designate: We all know that the government doesn't have
the resources to do it all.
It's also important to recognize that the way we build and deliver projects is just
as important as how much we invest.
STEVE INSKEEP: Now, Chao's words hint at a potential political conflict.
The president-elect says he wants big spending on roads and bridges and airports.
Democrats do too, but some Republicans fought that spending when President Obama wanted
it, and they don't agree yet on how to pay for it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President-elect Trump also today announced his nominee for secretary
of Veterans Affairs.
David Shulkin is currently the department's top health official, managing 1,700 facilities
that treat nine million veterans.
In a statement, Shulkin said he is eager to begin reforming a system plagued by long wait
lines -- times.
STEVE INSKEEP: A federal judge today formally sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing
nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
A jury agreed on the sentence yesterday.
Now, Roof stared straight ahead today as relatives of some of the victims said they forgive him,
but one called his name and finally shouted in frustration, "I wish you would look at
me, boy."
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Afghanistan, the death toll climbed past 50 in Tuesday's bombings in Kabul
and Kandahar.
Five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates died in the attack in Kandahar.
The Persian Gulf state's ambassador was among the wounded.
The Taliban claimed the Kabul bombing, but there's been no claim in the Kandahar incident.
STEVE INSKEEP: In other news, Volkswagen agreed today to plead guilty to criminal charges.
The company will also pay $4.3 billion in fines for cheating on emissions.
It's part of a plea bargain with the U.S. Justice Department.
A grand jury has indicted six high-ranking V.W. employees for allegedly lying to regulators
and destroying evidence, among other charges.
Federal prosecutors say at least 40 people took part in the fraud and the cover-up.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. Attorney General: This is a case that illustrates a company that
at very high levels knew of this problem and deliberately chose to continue with this fraudulent
And that's one reason why the actions taken here are so severe and do devolve on individuals.
STEVE INSKEEP: We should mention that Volkswagen already settled civil charges related to the
emissions cheating for $15 billion.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Eastern Europe is struggling to cope with a blast of bitter cold and heavy
Officials report at least 73 deaths in recent days.
Temperatures have hit minus-14 in parts of the Balkans, the coldest in more than 50 years.
And, in Greece, medical officials warned of inhuman conditions at migrant camps.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, rescue crews used boats to reach stranded people
after the heaviest rain in a decade.
Thousands more have been urged to evacuate ahead of the floods.
STEVE INSKEEP: And on Wall Street, oil prices went up, and so did stocks.
For weeks now, people have been waiting for the Dow to climb over 20000.
It hasn't quite happened yet.
It gained 98 points today to close at 19954.
The Nasdaq rose 11 points, and the S&P 500 added six.
STEVE INSKEEP: And finally tonight, we continue our series about The Obama Years.
In his farewell address last night, the president spoke of his actions against climate change,
including a global accord to reduce emissions.
He did more as his time in office went on, despite opponents who criticized the costs
or doubted the science.
Miles O'Brien reports, as part of our weekly look at the Leading Edge of science and technology.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: And that's why I invited Luther, my anger
translator, to join me here tonight.
MILES O'BRIEN: In the long, heated debate over global warming, this was a night to remember.
BARACK OBAMA: But we do need to stay focused on some big challenges, like climate change.
KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY, Actor: Hey, listen, you all, if you haven't noticed, California is
MILES O'BRIEN: At the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2015, Barack Obama became the first
president to openly scorn climate change deniers, with the help of comedian Keegan-Michael Key
playing the president's anger translator, Luther.
BARACK OBAMA: Instead of doing anything about it, we have got elected officials throwing
snowballs in the Senate.
I think I got it, bro.
BARACK OBAMA: It is crazy.
What about our kids?
What kind of stupid, shortsighted, irresponsible bull...
KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
MILES O'BRIEN: By all accounts, the president's frustration and anger were real.
CAROL BROWNER, Former Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change: I think that
this president believes that climate change is real.
He believes there is a moral and ethical imperative to act.
And he has taken the laws on the books and implemented them to their fullest.
MILES O'BRIEN: Carol Browner ran the Environmental Protection Agency in the '90s.
She joined the Obama White House as a senior adviser.
She helped guide the administration as it aggressively employed existing laws to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
They raised the bar on mileage for automakers, made appliances more efficient and tried to
control carbon dioxide emissions at power plants as if it were any other kind of pollutant.
CAROL BROWNER: He said, "This is a serious problem, and I am committed to taking every
MILES O'BRIEN: But, for Browner, the rule changes were a consolation prize.
She came to the White House to shepherd a sweeping climate change bill through Congress.
CAROL BROWNER: We had looked economy-wide to look at all sources of carbon pollution.
At the time, it really seemed like the thoughtful and wise thing to do, because, obviously,
this is an economy-wide problem.
MILES O'BRIEN: She envisioned an economy-wide cap-and-trade system that would have set a
nationwide limit, or cap, on greenhouse gas emissions.
Companies would be granted allowances to produce these climate-altering gases.
Those that produced less than their allowance could sell or trade permits to emit more to
companies that could not reach the goal.
But the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, sponsored by Democrats Henry
Waxman and Ed Markey, ran into a political buzz saw.
Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the president of the American Action Forum and a veteran
of the John McCain presidential campaign.
DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, Former Congressional Budget Office Director: It was a very intrusive,
heavily regulatory bill, where literally, at the key moment, John Boehner literally
went to the podium, started flipping through and reading pages randomly, and he could find
something bad on everyone.
JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), House Minority Leader: Twenty percent of the electricity that goes
into every federal agency has to come from renewable sources.
Do we have any idea whether this is possible?
I can't find the answer here.
MILES O'BRIEN: The money that would change hands in cap-and-trade was supposed to stay
in the private sector, not go to the U.S. Treasury.
But in its first budget message to Congress, the administration implied it would auction
the emission allowances to companies, making it look like a tax.
ROBERT STAVINS, Harvard University: Some staffers on the Hill or someone saw that, and within
six months, cap-and-trade became labeled as cap-and-tax.
MILES O'BRIEN: Robert Stavins is the director of the Environmental Economics Program at
ROBERT STAVINS: And that was the theme that conservative Republicans and coal state Democrats
used to fight against Waxman-Markey in the House of Representatives and to stop it in
the Senate.
MAN: I sued the EPA, and I will take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill, because it's
bad for West Virginia.
MILES O'BRIEN: The cap-and-trade climate bill passed in the House in 2009.
MAN: The bill is passed.
MILES O'BRIEN: But it never even reached the floor of the Senate for a vote.
DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN: Had they scaled it back and answered the question, what can we get
the votes for, that would have been very different than Waxman-Markey.
MILES O'BRIEN: After Democrats lost control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections,
the administration's lawmaking prospects were fading.
So, Mr. Obama started issuing executive orders aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
John Holdren is the president's science adviser.
JOHN HOLDREN, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: I think
it was the only sensible decision to make, to ask, what can we do using executive authority
to carry us until we get a Congress that's more willing to consider these kinds of actions?
MILES O'BRIEN: The biggest of these rule-making steps was the Clean Power Plan.
BARACK OBAMA: The single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against
global climate change.
MILES O'BRIEN: It uses the Clean Air Act, first enacted in 1963, to control other pollutants
to encourage states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions generated by the electric utilities.
CHELSEA HENDERSON, republicEn: I think it was his only chess move, at that point.
MILES O'BRIEN: Chelsea Henderson is with an organization called republicEn, conservatives
who are seeking government action on climate change.
CHELSEA HENDERSON: In the end, I would have liked to have seen him overreach earlier in
the legislative process, rather than on the regulatory side.
MILES O'BRIEN: Twenty-seven states took the Obama administration to court to try and stop
the plan.
Early last year, the Supreme Court ordered the EPA not to enforce it.
JOHN HOLDREN: I think the president did the best he had with the tools he had, which were
the tools of executive authority.
I don't think he exceeded the legal extent of those tools.
But those are questions that will continue to be tested in the courts obviously, and
some of them may be tested in the Congress.
MILES O'BRIEN: And, of course, executive orders that can be enacted with the stroke of a presidential
pen can be undone in similar fashion.
But Mr. Obama's defenders say changing existing rules was a more nimble tool than passing
new laws.
CAROL BROWNER: If we had waited to start the existing law, cars wouldn't have gotten more
efficient for at least another year or two.
And, more importantly, the president wouldn't have had the kind of efficiency standards,
the proposal on power plants that then allowed us to go to Paris and really establish our
MILES O'BRIEN: Paris, the site of a pivotal meeting of 195 nations that led to an agreement
to curb greenhouse gas emissions, limiting the increase in the global average temperature
to two degrees Celsius or below, it is the first comprehensive climate agreement in history.
JOHN HOLDREN: It happened only because the United States and China stood up together.
President Obama and President Xi in Beijing in November 2014 stood up, said: We're the
two biggest economies, we're the two biggest emitters.
This is a huge problem.
We are jointly going to lead.
MILES O'BRIEN: U.S. participation in the Paris agreement cannot be quickly revoked.
A withdrawal has to be announced three years in advance, and then it takes another year
for it to become official.
But the agreement is voluntary, with no teeth, besides global peer pressure.
And there is a loophole.
ROBERT STAVINS: If the Trump administration decided instead not just to remove itself
from the Paris climate agreement, but from the overall U.N. Framework Convention on Climate
Change that goes back to 1992, ratified by the Senate, signed by Republican President
George H.W. Bush, that takes only one-year delay.
MILES O'BRIEN: Barack Obama leaves a climate legacy that is bold, yet fragile.
History will likely remember him as the first climate president, but, in today's political
climate, that moniker could very quickly become a footnote.
Miles O'Brien, the "PBS NewsHour," Washington.
STEVE INSKEEP: And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Steve Inskeep.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's great to have you here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff.
It is -- we're going to tell you all to join us online and right here again tomorrow night.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, and good night.
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PBS NewsHour full episode Jan. 11, 2017

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