tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 11, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
blame. donald trump admits he does think moscow was behind election-related cyberattacks but lashing out at u.s. spy agencies and the news media over allegations that moscow has some compromising information about him. trust's trust. the president-elect explains what he will do with his business holdings as he steps back from his country to run the country. some ethics experts still are concerned about conflicts of interest. stand by for all the new information from donald trump's news conference. breaking with the boss. secretary of state nominee, rex tillerson, exposes some important air why is of disagreement with donald trump. we are following the fireworks during confirmation hearings up on capitol hill. senate showdown. democrat, cory booker, makes an unprecedented plea to stop fellow senator, jeff sessions, from becoming attorney general of the united states. on to another critic of sessions and his civil rights record who
testified today. the naacp chief, cornell williams brooks. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf bliter and yzer and yo "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking muse. donald trump acknowledging that he believes russia was behind the election-related cyberattacks. in his first news conference in six months, the president-elect denied allegations that moscow has compromising personal and financial information about him. trump calls it a disgrace if u.s. intelligence agents leaked the allegations adding to his tensions with the intel community. an exclusive cnn report revealed that trump and president barack obama were presented with classified documents on this matter last week. trump was offering new details about the plans for his business
wu once he is president. he says he is putting his holdings in a trust that will be run by his two sons as they take total control of the company. trump says he won't sell his stake in the firm urged by some watch dogs to avoid conflict of interest. >> senator marco rubio says he won't say whether he will vote for rex tillerson after a day of tough questions during the confirmation hearing specially about his tie toss russia. breaking with trump on some key foreign policy issues including russian aggression in the you crain and climate change. also breaking, u.s. military's first response to north korea's claim that it could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. they have learned the defense department has deployed a high-tech sea-based radar system to watch for a potential launch in the coming months.
our correspondents, expert analysts and guests are standing by as we cover all the news. up first, our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta. you were there at the news conference at trump tower in new york city and it got very heated. >> reporter: it did. donald trump held his first news conference since winning the election. there were fireworks. trump lashed out at the news media including this news outlet over reports that the russia news media may have compromising information about him. it got personal. donald trump wasted no time ripping into news report that is the u.s. intelligence community provide unproven information about him at a meeting last week that the russian government has collected damaging information on him for years. they accused them of leaking the unsubstantiated information as part of the smear campaign. >> i think it was a disgrace.
i saw it and i read it. it is all fake news. it is phoney stuff. it didn't happen. >> as for the u.s. intelligence communities information that russia released hacking information. >> as far as hacking, i any was russia. i think we also get hacked by other countries and other people. >> he said there is nothing wrong with being friends with russian president, vladmir putin. >> if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset, not a liability. >> trump is still refusing to release his tax returns to prove he has no business interest at steak stake in russia. the president-elect refused to take follow-up questions on this reporter on whether any of his associates had contact with russian officials during the campaign. >> not you. your organization is terrible. >> can you give us a chance to ask the question, sir. >> quiet, quiet. go ahead.
she is asking a question. don't be rude. >> can you give us a question? >> don't be rude. no, i'm not going to give you a question. you are fake news. >> trump finally answered the question as he was leaving the room denying there were any contacts. the news conference was originally scheduled to lay out his plan toss place his vast he empire in a trust run by his sons, done jr. and eric. >> as the president, i could run the trump organization, great, great company and i could run the country, i would do a very, very good job but i don't want to do that. >> to avoid a constitutional ban on trump receiving gifts from other country, his attorneys revealed that profits from foreign m heads staying at his hotels will be donated to the u.s. treasury. he will replace obamacare as soon as the health care law is repealed. >> it will be repealed and replaced essentially
simultaneously. >> he promised mex co will reimburse the u.s. for a wall. >> it is not a fence. it is a wall. you just misreported it. we are going to build a wall. donald trump also said he will be announcing his pick for the supreme court to replace the late justice anton anyoin scali. that is a pick they did not allow president obama to make in his last year in office. >> a rather lively news conference, indeed. we heard president-elect trump rail against allegation that is russia has compromising information about him. let's take a closer look at what we really know. our chief national security correspondent, jim shciutto, wa involved in this. what was your take on what we heard from the president-elect and some of his top advisers. >> the president-elect nor his advisers did not answer the essential facts of our
reporting. our story was, one, that the president-elect and the current president obama were briefed on these allegations, two, that the fbi is investigating and, three, that both democratic and republican lawmakers are encouraging further investigation of these allegations. we did not report the allegations themselves for the very simple reason that cnn cannot independently confirm them. another news organization, after we did our story, the first to report it, then put out the unsubstantiated allegations. it appeared to be the media strategy to attack the allegations and our reporting. the president-elect was asked about the headline of our story, which was, were you briefed on this in your briefings about russian interference. his answer was, it is classified. i can't say. he was not asked about the fbi investigation. his reaction to that. he was not asked about the fact that senior republicans and
democratic lawmakers had these materials and considered them important. senator john mccain said he considered it important enough to hand it to the director of the fbi. those issues, to this point, neither he nor his campaign have responded to. >> very precise reported on our part. thank you very much. we are going to have much more on this. i want to thank jim sciutto for that report. i want to bring in senator bob menendez. thanks very much for joining us. i want to get right to your questioning of donald trump's nominee for secretary of state, rex tillerson. we are going to talk about all of that. let's talk about donald trump and russia first. were you concerned, senator, were you concerned that tillerson hadn't spoken directly with the president-elect about russian policy. at least that was one of his answers during the course of his confirmation hearing today. >> it was a direct answer to a question i posed to him. i said, truly, you must have the
spoken to the president-elect about your world view and his world view about russia. his answer was that they didn't. that was extraordinary. with everything that is happening, with the hacking and russia's evasion of ukraine and bombing in aleppo and all of the circumstances in which russia is play playing a negative force in the world, to believe that you had a conversation about the world and never spoke about russia is enormously alarming. >> tillerson says he believes the intelligence reports of russian interference and cyberattacks in the u.s. election but he dodged questions on russia's role on possible war crimes in syria and russian assassinations of journalists and diplomats. are you confident that he can hold vladmir putin accountable in light of what they used to have at one point a pretty close relationship, the former exxonmobil ceo and putin?
>> well, that's one of the things i was trying to deduce at the hearing. i walk away not quite assuaged. someone who received the order of friendship and the next year, exxonmobil was lobbying against sanctions against russia as a result of sanctions in ukraine. sanctions i offered and passed here in the senate, has continuously lobbied against sanctions against russia and other entities and cannot squarely define that the indiscriminate bombing in aleppo by russia including of hospitals, for example, is, in essence, an act that not only violates the international norm but violates the international standards of what is considered a war crime. whether you consider putin or not a war crime, his answer would have been that those actions were in violation of what, in essence, is a war crime. it is really troublesome to
understand the person who would be the secretary of state, facing one of the most geopolitical challenges in terms of our p information wi of our information with russia. there is a difference between cutting a deal, a commercial deal, and getting a country to rejoin the international order and do the right thing and move away from the various activities. i didn't necessarily walk away with the understanding that he is up to that task. >> do you believe he has taken all the adequate steps to previpr prevent any conflict of interest? has he done enough? >> well, that's why i agree with senator cardin, the ranking member to get greater disclosure on his income tax issues as well as understanding the transactions that he made with exxonmobil to leave exxonmobil.
he has gotten a windfall. he is going to have tax deferrals and a higher tax price and dealing with aexxonmobil is one year. in a year from now, they will be able to call on you knowing that you will be the secretary of state and that you spent a lifetime at a company and you have a global view as to how that company operates and other companies similarly situated. i don't know that they did or didn't. it raises a serious question. i would like to have seen him say he was going to for his-term exclude himself and many actions on exxonmobil. i would like to have a better understanding of this trance section that he gets all of this
stock at a price that's accelerated, at a higher price. how does that affect potential judgments in the future? >> senator marco rubio met with reporters after he emerged from the hearing room before the senate foreign relations committee, he refused to say whether he is ready to announce he will vote to confirm rex tillerson as the next secretary of state. he needs to consider it a bit longer. what about you? are you ready to confirm his nomination? >> no. i am going to need a lot more information. i am going to look forward to a series of responses to a slew of written questions that i am presenting for the record. i want to see his responses. i want to see responses to other colleagues so i know i am pursuing other lines of questioning. i want to see his answers to that. i find it difficult to understand that as the ceo of exxon ploe exxonmobil that he didn't understand his company was
lobbying millions of dollars. that's why i held up the lobbying forms. lobbying against the very sanctions he said they never lobbied against. it is difficult to understand he never had a conversation with president-elect about russia or that he didn't know the s.e.c. brought to his company's attention that they were, in essence, dealing with companies that were subject to the state sponsors of terrorism. i get concerned. either he is avoiding the question or if he is not in command of what was happening at the company, can he be in command of a large organization like the state department and its employees both here and around the world. >> bottom line, do you think he will be the next secretary of state? >> republicans have the vote to obviously confirm him if they stay united. they won't need any democratic votes for that. there may be some democratic votes. at the end of the day, that's
really in the question of republican hands. >> senator bob menendez, from new jersey, thanks for being with us. >> let's bring in our senior political reporter, manu raju. you just spoke to senator rubio. what did he say about rex tillerson, why he is not yet ready to announce he will vote to confirm his nomination? >> reporter: well, wolf, he was not happy with mr. tillerson's answers on some key questions, namely on russia. of course, marco rubio has taken a rather hard line on russia. he does not believe that vladmir putin is a friend or ally. rex tillerson has had a close personal relationship with vladmir putin. when he was asked, do you think that vladmir putin is a war criminal, mr. tillerson would not say. he said he needs more information. he is not prepared to go that route. also, when rubio was asking a
number of other questions, including on china, what about china, one of the worst human rights abuseers in the world, he would not say that either. he said, it is just a bad human rights abuser. he would not say he would go as far as saying they were one of the worst in the world. there were a number of questions on imposing stiffer sanctions on russia. tillerson would not go he where marco rubio wanted him to go in emerging from this hearing just moments ago. i asked him, are you prepared to be the one republican to vote against mr. tillerson in this committee in the matter of a week or so? this is what he said, wolf. i'll read to you what he said. he said, i'm not looking at it from a partisan lens. i'm going to do what is right. he said that he believes that this position as secretary of state is the second most important position in the united states government and he need to
have moral clarity and be clear about what you are saying around the world and in marco rubio's views. mr. tillerson was not clear on some of those key questions. so i asked him if he will vote against him. he has not made that decision yet. wolf, if he does vote against him, that could mean he will get enough votes to prevent him from getting on a committee. we will see if that happens. significant that marco rubio has not made a decision on what to do for mr. tillerson. >> we'll see how all the ten democrats and 11 republicans, see if all the democrats were united against tillerson. that's a big if, at least right now. manu raju, up on capitol hill, thank you very much. republican senator, james resh. thanks very much for joining us. are you stunned that one of your fellow republicans, senator rubio, is not yet ready to commit to confirming rex
tillerson as the next secretary of state? >> i am not stunned at all, wolf. marco is a very thoughtful person, has legitimate concerns. he is going to attempt to saturdays. >> phi himsesatisfy himself and go from there. >> i thought he had a great hearing. he looked like a secretary of state. he sounded like a secretary of state. he handled himself, i thought, very, very well. >> tillerson seems much more inclined based on his answers at the hearing to intervene in world affairs, for example, than trump. can he truly speak for the president to u.s. allies, adversaries? he also said in response to one question from senator menendez, he really hasn't had a serious conversation with trump when it comes to russia? >> i think he will be able to carry the water for the president. obviously, they are going to have to spend a lot more time together discussing these things. these guys are drinking out of a
fire hose, now. they are trying to stand up a government. we are all trying to stand up a new government. there are a loss of things going on. it always amazes me that they can do as well as they do in a hearing, particularly someone like tillerson who comes not from a governmental background, a foreign relations background and he sat there and i thought answered the questions really, really well. he has made that transition from the business sector, i think, very well to a diplomatic approach that he is going to have to have. he has mastered the language. he sounds like a diplomat. really, he answered the questions very well. i was very impressed with him. >> are you confidence he can hold putin accountable in light of their once close friendship if you will, the relationship? he received an award a few years ago from putin, as you know. marco rubio left that hearing very, very upset by the answers he heard from tillerson.
>> you know, i don't think hold someone accountable under the situation you are talking about is an appropriate analogy. look. there are 200 plus countries in the world. we have to deal with almost all of them. we don't deal with iran or north korea. almost every other country in one way or another we have issues we have to deal with them. when you talk about holding someone accountable for it, there are different way tos to that. i was impressed with tillerson's understanding of the various tools that are available to hold a country accountable. having said that, again, this is a diplomatic spot. diplomacy is different than holding people accountable. it is working through the issues that you have and getting to a common ground gnthat you can std on. i like his personality.
i hope that putin gets to know trump and tillerson better. i think when he gets to know those people, he is going to know that he is not dealing with barack obama. he is dealing with somebody like in the case of the president-elect who when he says something, he means it. i really believe putin is going to understand that if he gets to know the president-elect well. >> here is a problem that the president-elect has. he still has a very serious amount tension going on with the u.s. intelligence community. he said the leak of an unverified report is a blot on the intelligence community. he sweeted earlier in the day, intelligence agencies should have never allowed this fake news to leak into the public. one last shot at me. are we living in nazi germany? making the analogy to nazi germany. how serious of a problem is this, this bitterness he apparently has with the intelligence community right now?
>> in nine days, they are all going to work for him. probably those rough spots and patches are going to get taken care of. they have some sitting down and talking to do. he is going to need to rely on the intelligence community as we do. i can understand why he was upset with the absurd article that came out. it was fake news. i think we will move on from it probably pretty quickly. >> you are talking about the 35 pages, that buzz feed published including all of those unsubstantiated allegations, the president-elect clearly blaming the intelligence community. there is a lot of concern that he is making this analogy to nazi germany and the u.s. intelligence community and the united states right now. has he gone too far in raising the specter of nazi germany. i have a rule of thumb, don't
talk about hitler. don't talk about nazi germany. it never serves a person well. as he goes on, i'm sure that these things will smooth out. one would hope that it would. those kind of analogies always cause problems. they never land well. they are never received well. >> were you satisfied with the business arrangements that he announced today, laid out to try to prevent conflicts of interest while he serves in the oval office? >> i have been in hearings on this and other things all day long. so i have heard about them but i really haven't had a chance to analyze them. having said that, there is an army of lawyers out there that are advising him. there are, i think, very clear ground rules about what a public official can do and can't do when it comes to doing business. i have every confidence tla he is goi is going to get really good advice as to what he can and cannot do.
we are all human beings. we have other interests in life. we have financial interests, family interests. we have the things that make us human beings. certainly, that's true with donald trump. people in america knew what they were voting for when they voted for donald trump. you guys publicized his holdings widely. his beliefs widely, his statements widely. the american people are smart people. they did what they did and i can tell you the landscape up here is such that there is a lot of anger from the other side about how the landscape came out. it is spilling over. there is a lot of anger up here right now. >> senator risch, thanks very much for joining us. >> james risch, a member of the foreign relations and intelligence commit it is. i want to bring in our experts to talk about russia, trump, the president-elect's news conference, evan perez. you have been sitting here listening to all of this.
you were among the team of cnn reporters who meticulously went through what the intelligence community knew, why they were concerned about these unsubstantiated allegations. we heard what some of donald trump's senior advisers had to say. you listened very closely. >> we have to step back a little bit. even the president-elect ought to step back a little bit and instead of taking shots at the intelligence committee, they were trying to tell him, warn him about what's out there and what has been out in washington. members of congress are sharing this stuff, members of the media have been looking at this stuff. this is stuff that certainly i started looking into last summer. gloria borger, who is sitting right here, also heard some of this some months ago. the intelligence community was simply doing their job, presenting some of this stuff so the prek sident-elect is fully informed when he comes into office. they are looking at some of these simply because they have
to. he shouldn't want them to do otherwise. the fbi has to get to the bottom of this. if people are making these allegations, then he deserves the fbi to run this down and get to the bottom of it. there is nothing there, then they can make that clear at the end of that. >> they first have to make an effort to investigate it. the shots that he is taking at the intelligence community are kind of misplaced, frankly. if he wants to take shots, he can take shots at his political enemies who first started this. the shots at the intelligence committee seem a bit misplaced. >> you speak to the intelligence community all the time. they are pretty upset about it. >> yes, no question. that goes tofor high-ranking officials and the folks in the ranks. they are working very hard, take their jobs very seriously. some of them work in dangerous place toss get this information out. you have heard that in public comments as well from director of national intelligence,
clapper, relating those concerns too. that is a concern going forward for the president who is going to need to lean on this intelligence community when the u.s. faces up to its biggest national security risks. >> maybe when the president gets his own leaders in there p, because there seems to be a sense among the trump folks that this is politically motivated, the leaks are politically motivated. maybe once he gets his own people over running the intelligence agencies that he will feel a little bit more comfortable with the information they are providing him. it is really an untenable situation to have a president of the united states in conflict with his own intelligence community. you can be skeptical about intelligence, ask questions about intelligence, you can say go back and find out some more, that's a president's job. to be in complete conflict is
difficult, because these are the people you are depending on when you make major national security decisions. so if he is more comfortable with his own people at the helm, okay, great. >> that will happen very soon. president-elect, went as a candidate, first starting taking shots at james comey when he didn't like the outcome of the investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails. that's when this began. he has continued all throughout through the campaign taking shots at these people. so it is not like this is something that just began because we reported a story yesterday. this is not something that just began yesterday or two weeks ago or a month ago. that's part of the issue. i think gloria is right. when he has his own leaders in place, he will have a better sense of why this is happening. they are taking this stuff seriously. they have to.
they have to get to the bottom of some of these allegations whether or not people in his campaign and icircle were in touch with the members and surrogates. richard quest is with us as well. how do you think the president-elect handled the entire issue of his business relationship. he is trying to walk away from potential conflicts of interest, specially when it comes to foreign ties to the trump organization. did he meet the bottom line basic standards required? >> no. that's not my verdict. that's the verdict of the head of the office of government ethics who has described the trump plan to create a family trust with an ethics adviser as being in their words wholly inadequate. the problem here, wolf, is that it is not a blind trust. the sons will be running the company. he could return to the company after he has finished being
president. we had a real life example of this today. there is a dubai property company called dmak in a meeting with president-elect trump and his family offered a $2 billion deal. the president-elect said today they rejected the deal and d-mcafee grea d-mack agrees that was the substance of the conversation. you are going to have foreign companies that are going to try to curry favor by going to the sons. you don't need to go to the president. the sons are running the company. secondly, how can you have a blind trust when you know everything that's in it because you have refused to divest yourself? tonight, the ethics experts say that the trump plan is simply not adequate.
so how does it play out, richard? we are only nine days away from the inauguration. >> that is the big problem. you have got democrats who are determined to try and raise questions both in the house and the senate, particularly in the house. some of the democrats i was talking to in the house say they are going to raise questions. they are going to demand answers for how this trust will actually work in reality. but, what we got today was an enormous amount of show-and-tell. we got a lot of manila files that were supposed to beholding documents. the truth cannot be escaped. that is that the trump empire will still be run by the trump family even after inauguration day. it begs belief and stretches credulity beyond breaking point for anybody to believe that the sons and the father are not going to talk about business at
some point. >> jeffrey toobin, he did say at one point, donald trump, that his lawyer made the point as well that any of the profits that trump hotels make from foreign entities if a foreign government were to book an event at a trump hotel in washington and new york, the profits from that event, the rooms, the ballrooms, whatever, the restaurants, the profits would go directly into the u.s. treasury. it would be money that would go to u.s. tax payers. you heard him say that. how would that work? >> beats me, wolf. i have to say, it sounds very convoluted. i don't know what exactly it accomplishes, specially since the payments for hotel rooms and catering are a very small part of the overall trump empire.
even if you believe that is going to proceed and there will be some check cut to the treasury, the fact remains that he is going to make decisions every single day that will affect directly how his companies do. i any the correct prism to see this through is not legal. the president-elect was correct, he could run his business with no recusal at all. it's a political question. will republicans that run congress care one way or the other? at the moment, they don't. if things start to go sour, this issue may recur. >> you agree that legally, he doesn't have to do anything. he is not bound by any of these conflicts of interest regulations that others in the cabinet and government would be bound with? what he did today was his
gesture, if he will, to try to make a point na he is trying to at least scale back any potential conflicts. >> absolutely. i any it is a very important point to make in fairness to donald trump, which is that there is no legal obligation for him to divest anything, even control, much less ownership. it is not a legal requirement. there is this issue with the emoluments clause. it is very much a side issue. this is all about appearances. it is not about legal obligations. when you are president of the united states, appearances matter. this is an issue a lot of people will be watching, how the decisions of president trump affect the issues that he still owns and that his sons run. >> there were other important hearings today here in washington including for the next attorney general of the united states, senator jeff sessions.
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con chuts ov conscious over senate. other african-americans spoke out in defense of him. for the first time in the history of the u.s. congress, a sitting senator testifies against his colleague. >> i know that some of my many colleagues aren't happy that i am breaking with senate tradition to testify on the nomination of one of my colleagues. >> new jersey senator, cory booker, a democrat, said he believes that fellow senator jeff sessions would take the justice department in the wrong direction. >> his record indicates we can not count on him to support state and national effort toward bringing justice to the justice system. people on both sides of the aisle readily admit that the justice system as it stands now is biased against the poor, against drug addicted, against mentally ill and against people of color. >> also testifying against sessions, civil rights leader and congressman, john lewis.
>> we need someone who gonna stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help and people that have been discriminated against. he criticized sessions voting rights record pointing to a case where he unsuccessfully prosecuted three african-american voting rights activists known as the maryland three. >> it took massive, well-organized nonviolent dissent for the voting rights law to become law. >> it comes one day after sessions defended himself after charges of racism that sunk his 1986 confirmation as a federal judge. >> i saw discrimination and have no doubt it existed in systematic and powerful and negative way unto millions of people in the south particularly
of our country. i know that was wrong. i know we need to do better. we can never go back. >> sessions and lewis were recently photographed arm in arm, commemorating the 50th anniversary of bloody sunday in selma, alabama, only 30 miles from sessions hometown. >> the son of the south who has had up close experiences with our great civil rights movement, senator sessions is not oblivious to the fact that we have more to do in the area of racial equality. >> the u.s. leader on civil rights came to his defense to change policies that have had negative effects on black employment. >> the one senator that reached out being very alarmed and pursuing this case with ultimate vigor was senator sessions. >> the date for sessions confirmation has not been set by the committee yet, given the republican majority, the numbers
are in his favor. >> certainly are. we will see what happens. >> thank you very much. pamela brown reporting. i want to hear from another outspoken critic. we are joined by the naacp president, cornell william brooks. he testified at the confirmation hearing today against this nomination. why do you feel so strongly against sessions becoming the next attorney general of the united states? >> well, i would simply note this. while the numbers are on his side. history is on our side. the fact of the matter is that senator session when is he was u.s. attorney in alabama he brought a case of voter fraud that led to voter suppression. now he spoeupports voter suppression based on voter fraud. there is a record of continuity and if you notice today he had a
number of character references, not professional references. the people spoke to his character and collegiality, not necessarily the suitability you need to lead the justice department. so the fact of the matter is, we are concerned about his failure to take a position against mandatory minimums with 1 million fathers behind bars, how can you ask this man to lead the justice department and leading us away from this era of mass incarceration? >> we did hear very compelling personal testimony from african-americans that worked with him over 20 years, a man by the name of willie huntley, a lawyer from alabama, jesse sarora, a former u.s. marshal.
they all testified they worked with him, got to know him well. they knew his record on civil rights and these most sensitive issues that are of deep concern to you. they said, this man should be the next attorney general of the united states. >> again, great character references. if you need to go to a doctor for open heart surgery, you are looking for a cardiac surgeon, you would want someone who is skilled, who is committed to the craft of surgery. we need someone who is skilled and committed to the craft of civil rights and the aspirations of civil rights in this country. his record makes clear he is not fit to serve as attorney general of the united states. >> i spoke to his spokesperson. i want to play for you what she said in defending his record. >> i think people were expecting a boogeyman to show up. instead, they got a man who has dedicated his career to the law, the constitution and i think it
is why it was so important that he said he will enforce the law as the attorney general, defend the law as the attorney general, meant relationship was law enforcement, all things that have fallen by the wayside as the department of justice has turned into a wing of the obama administration and a political branch. >> you are smiling. if you ask the young people in ferguson and cleveland, people that have lived under predatory police departments, what happens when you have attorney holder on loretta lynch who dispatches federal official toss protect the vote, this is not about politics, conservative, liberal, democrat or republican, it is about justice. we need someone leading the justice department who understands to be a law enforcer means that you have to realize
and see that the violation of civil rights laws exist. senator sessions can't see violations of the civil rights laws. he doesn't acknowledge them or voter suppression. if you can't see it, it is hard to prosecute it. >> are race relations better now than they were eight years ago? president obama makes the point that race relations are better? do you believe they are? >> i think he makes the case that the state of racial just sis is better in the sense that african-americans are better off than they were, say, 20 years ago. if you ask are things where they should be, it would be the consensus of americans that things are not where they should be and we can certainly make them better than they are. >> the president outlined ways
for people to engage better than they are. you are going to have a republican administration for four years, a represent attorney general, whether it is senator sessions or someone else. >> certainly, it means that ordinary citizens. we say this all the time. the election of a president does not mean the deelection of citizenry. people have to vote, protest, demonstrate. they have to come together to seek collusions at the community level, the neighborhood level. it means we have often worked with the justice department. if senator sessions is confirmed, he should do what a great many attorneys general have done, which is to say they work with the department of justice. they work with the naacp. i will tell you what i was told as a trial attorney when i began my career at the justice department. i was told, when you bring a case, when you bring an investigation, the first thing you do is call the local branch of the naacp. good advice for trial attorney, attorney general.
that's predicated on believing in the work of the naacp. there are civil wrongs that can be made write by enforcing the nation's civil rights laws. >> what role do you hope president obama will play now that he is leaving the white house? >> he is dedicated to his boys and men initiative. i believe that will be incredibly important. when we look at criminal justice reform and some of the challenges in this country, we would look to work with his foundation. he certainly has a large and well respected pulpit and platform that's global. he can certainly do much and i would hope he would do quite a bit with the naacp. >> i'm sure he will, cornell william brooks, thank you. >> a new move by the united states military to detect a potential missile strike by north korea and more on donald trump's first news conference in
barbara starr is joining us. barbara, what are you learning about the u.s. military moves in response to north korea's claim it could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at any time? >> reporter: good evening, wolf. because of that claim by north korea, an icbm, an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially hit the united states, the pentagon has deployed a high-tech radar to see. i want you to look at pictures, video. this is the x-band radar. it may look to us like a giant floating golf ball on the pacific ocean, but this has moved out of hawaii into the pacific. it will be watching the korean peninsula in the coming days and weeks for any sign of an icbm launch out of north korea. there are two scenarios if they were to launch a missile. if it were a threat to the uggs allies, japan, south korea, the u.s. has vowed it would shoot it down. if it goes out to sea and is
harmless, it will not shoot it down. the pentagon said that yesterday. this radar gives the u.s. the ability to collect the electronic intelligence either way whether they need to shoot it down or whether they just want to watch it, gain all the intelligence they can about what exactly a missile might look like, how it's configured, how it flies, gain all the intelligence they can about what north korea is up to. the bottom line right now is the u.s. doesn't think that north korea is ready to launch an icbm, that they haven't perfected the full technology, but by putting this radar out to sea, they will keep watch and it will be the donald trump pentagon, the donald trump military that will watch in the coming weeks and months. wolf? >> barbara starr, thanks very much. cnn is learning details of plans by south korea's military to kill north korean dictator kim
jong-un if war to break out between the two countries. cnn's brian todd joins us with more. south korea apparently has been practicing for this? >> reporter: that's right. practicing, drawing up plans. tonight the south koreans are accelerating those plans. tensions are so high on the korean peninsula tonight that both nations now have plans in place to kill each other's leaders if war breaks out. kim jong-un tonight is dealing with a direct potential threat to his own life, a special south korean military brigade whose mission is to kill him. a south korean defense ministry official tells cnn his country is speeding up plans to create what some call a decapitation unit. the official says the team would be activated only if war breaks out and would target north korea's war-time command led by kim. >> it's hard for me to imagine a commando raid given the enormous killing power and density of the north korean people's army. likely what we saw in the iraq war against saddam's immediate
circle, precision-guided missiles and air missiles and air campaign. >> reporter: the south korean strike plan comes after a series of provocations from kim jong-un. he's threatening to test fire a long-range missile that could hit the u.s. mainland with a nuclear warhead. in recent weeks north korean media claimed he personally had a mock drill on south korea's blue house, their version of the white house. north korean special forces stormed the compound, some parachuting in, took up positions as the building burned, practiced capturing an enemy. >> doing rehearsals, showing the imagery of a blue house attack is essentially being able to terrorize the south koreans. and what's more important, i think the north koreans may well think about trying an attempt at this sort of thing. >> reporter: they've done it before. january 1968. armed with these weapons, dressed in south korean uniforms, north korean commandos infiltrated the south, trying to kill south korea's president. they got to within 350 feet of the blue house. but in a furious gun battle
nearly 60 soldiers from both sides were killed. if the south koreans target kim now, how would he respond? >> i would guess that he doesn't go into hiding because of that particular statement by the south, but instead he plays it and tries to demonstrate he's as prepared to escalate even sooner and prepared to be even crazier than the south and he has the advantage he can make that argument credibly. >> reporter: analysts say if kim does eventually go into hiding in the vent of a war during some kind of a decapitation strike he's got a large network of tunnels and bunkers built by his father and grandfather. experts point out in the early days of the iraq war when the allies were targeting saddam hussein and his inner circle, kim jong-un's father, kim jong-il, went into hiding for more than a month fearing he would be next. wolf? >> interesting, brian. with this news of a plan to target him, kim potentially could turn on his inner circle, fearing some kind of betrayal, right?
>> reporter: that's right. he's paranoid, as we know, and some analysts believe part of the south korean strategy in revealing this decapitation unit is to make kim jong-un more paranoid of those around him and endpanl in more purges of his inner circle. >> brian todd, good report. thanks very much. that's it for me. thanks for watching. "erin burnett out front" starts right now. breaking news, trump firing back, blaming russia, the media, the democrats in his first press conference in six months. plus, war on whites. that's what one lawmaker calls the fight against jeff sessions tonight. can that battle get any uglier? and where was sasha obama last night? that question and some interesting answers taking the wehby storm. let's go "out front." >> i'm erin burnett. donald trump admitting for the first time that russia hacked the u.s. election,