Trump Takes On U.S. Intelligence Community; Trump Shaking Up Intelligence Agencies; Obamacare Battle Heats Up; China To Trump: Lay



Intelligence Agencies; Obamacare Battle Heats Up; China To Trump: Lay

Off Twitter; Police Arrest 4 People Over Torture Video. Aired 5:30-6a

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[05:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The battle between President- elect Trump and the intelligence community. Not only does Mr. Trump doubt their views on Russian hacking but now he's expressing doubts about whether the whole intelligence apparatus is set up the right way, to begin with. We're going to have more on that in a moment.

As far as the allegations that Russians directed hacking into the Democratic Party during the election season, the president-elect has publicly sided with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over U.S. intelligence. The president-elected tweeted, "Julian Assange said "a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta" -- why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" Now, Mr. Trump has repeatedly dismissed claims by U.S. intelligence pointing to the Russians for the hack and release of John Podesta's emails.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All this ahead of a hearing this morning by the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning foreign cyber threats to the U.S. Meanwhile, a comprehensive review of Russia's meddling in the U.S. election is expected to be released on Monday. This, as we learn more about Trump's plans to overhaul the way he will receive critical intelligence once he's in the White House. Here's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine. Donald Trump going to battle not just with U.S. intelligence agencies but also with some leaders of his own party. That, as he takes to Twitter once again to suggest that he doesn't believe U.S. intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia attempted to meddle in the U.S. election.

Instead, suggesting he may be more likely to believe Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who insists none of his information about Hillary Clinton's campaign came from the Russian government. But just because Donald Trump says he not inclined to believe the intelligence agencies doesn't mean all members of his party are following suit.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I've had a lot more faith in our intelligence officers serving around the world, but -- some very smart and experienced analysts that we have here in the nation's capital than I do in people like Julian Assange. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This was done by the Russians and I hope by Friday President-elect Trump will come to that realization and ignore Mr. Assange. Not only should he ignore Julian Assange, he should condemn him for what he's done to our country, putting our soldiers at risk, putting our foreign policy at risk. Julian Assange is no friend of America and he's no friend of democracy.

MURRAY: Now, we heard a number of other Republican officials echo Lindsey Graham's concerns about Russia's attempt to meddle in the U.S. election and also about Julian Assange's credibility. Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says Donald Trump's concern is not with the raw intelligence gathered but, rather, the conclusion that Russia attempted to interfere in the U.S. election. He says that is what Trump will ask intelligence officials about when he meets with them in New York on Friday. Back to you guys.


BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Now overnight, we learned that President-elect Trump wants to limit the power of the Director of National Intelligence. According to sources close to the transition team the president-elect's pick for National Security Adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, believes the Director of National Intelligence -- the DNI -- often gets in the way of the 16 intelligence agencies it represents.

It is worth noting that Gen. Flynn has clashed in the past with the current National Intelligence director, James Clapper, who is also scheduled to give Trump a highly anticipated briefing on Russia tomorrow. This is a complicated web here. The president-elect is also considering expanding the CIA's human spying capabilities. More assets overseas on the ground and perhaps relying too much -- he thinks, perhaps, we've been relying too much on electronic spies.

ROMANS: All right. Republicans are moving forward with their longstanding promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Vice President- elect Mike Pence met privately with House and Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill yesterday. Later, he made it clear the Affordable Care Act will be dismantled through a series of executive actions and legislation, even though there's no concrete plan yet to replace it.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Look, Obamacare has failed. All the promises of Obamacare have been shown to be false and broken promises. And the American people want us to start over, to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the kind of reforms that will give the American people more choices when it comes to health insurance. Releasing the power of the free market is the pathway toward expanding access and affordability of health care across this country and the American people know it.


ROMANS: All right. The president, President Obama, also made a rare appearance on the Hill yesterday, urging Democrats not to help Republicans with a new healthcare law. We get more from CNN's Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine. The fight over Obamacare really began in earnest on day two of the new Congress when Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, came to Capitol Hill, met with House and Senate Republicans, and they discussed how to move forward on the repeal of Obamacare and the replacement.

There were not many details on what would be in that replacement other than the fact that Donald Trump, as president, will move on some executive actions and Tom Price, the Health and Human Services secretary assuming he's confirmed, will move on things administratively as well.

[05:35:05] Now on the Democratic side they are digging in. They're saying we will not work with Republicans on a replacement if the Obamacare plan is ultimately repealed. President Obama, himself, making that case yesterday to Democrats in a closed-door session, saying we will not "rescue" Republicans if they do replace the plan.

Even saying that -- suggesting that what Republicans are doing is "Trumpcare" and he thought that it would pay a political price if Republicans do repeal the law, saying that the town halls will be outraged -- outrageous. There will be storms of protesters and activists expressing their concerns at these Republican districts in states if they do move forward with this. This is all the beginning of a very long debate here that will dominate the next two years on Capitol Hill -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: Manu Raju, thanks so much. The Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says that when it comes to Obamacare, Republicans are like the 'dog who caught the bus'. They don't know what to do next. Senator Schumer is warning that a Republican repeal of Obamacare without a concrete plan to replace it would instantly devastate rural hospitals and leave millions of Americans vulnerable.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The Republican plan to cut health care wouldn't make America great again, it would make America sick again and lead to chaos instead of affordable care. Republicans would create chaos in the health system because they're stuck between a rock and a hard place and have no idea what to put in place of the Affordable Care Act. They had five years when they talked about repeal. There still isn't a plan to replace it on the table because they don't have one.


ROMANS: All right. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is firing back at Schumer for threatening to block President-elect Trump's pick for the vacancy in the Supreme Court. McConnell claims any attempt by Democrats to obstruct Trump will draw the wrath of voters.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Senator Schumer said in the second Bush administration that they would not confirm the Supreme Court nominee in the last 18 months of President Bush 43's tenure. Apparently, there is yet a new standard now which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate and we'll be looking forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it.


ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott. There's so much to talk about here. Can we talk first about this whole idea of how he gets intelligence? We're not talking about the president's daily briefing -- whether he gets it in the hard drive or whether he gets it, you know, verbally. We're talking about how the architecture -- the apparatus of the power in the intelligence agencies is divided, right?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, very much so, and so we're dealing with 16 different agencies and there's quite a bit of overlap. But there also are different levels, as you can imagine, of control and infrastructure and there's been a bit of debate about whether or not that keeps American intelligence from doing what it is that they're supposed to be doing. And I think that's what Donald Trump is pushing back on.

He doesn't think it's as effective as it could be and he thinks many people are in place keeping him and like-minded people from getting forward their policy ideas about national security.

BERMAN: The question is, you know -- is this about whether or not the Director of National Intelligence is not an efficient office at this point. Whether that, you know, that office is a bloated office -- that's what others have said -- or is this about the fact that Donald Trump, the president-elect, doesn't like what intelligence he is hearing about the Russian hacking? That's the question that's being asked right now and the timing of it.

You know, as president, he has absolutely every right in the world to look at the architecture of the intelligence services to make sure it's running as efficiently as possible. That said, you would hope that any president would also listen to the intelligence services that do work for him when it comes to subjects like Russian hacking, and that is front and center this week. There's a hearing in just a few hours on Capitol Hill with the Senate Armed Services Committee who will be looking into this.

SCOTT: Right, it's about all of those things, John. I also think it's about politics. So, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's National Security Adviser pick, has issues with this and his resignation from the Obama administration and regarding his role in intelligence, there's been some debate about what the motivations behind it were. And, perhaps, Donald Trump is helping to repay Michael Flynn for having such a difficult exit.

ROMANS: Can we talk a little bit about Twitter? Donald Trump likes to use Twitter --

SCOTT: He does.

ROMANS: -- and it's --

BERMAN: I hadn't heard that.

ROMANS: -- been challenging to try to tease out sort of the nuance, as some would say, when you're reading a policy prescription or a statement in just 140 characters. And, Sean Spicer, who will be his spokesperson, was sitting down with David Axelrod. What an interesting combination yesterday --


ROMANS: -- at the University of Chicago -- and he was asked about this. Listen.


DAVID AXELROD, POLITICAL ANALYST: When you wake up in the morning --


AXELROD: If you -- if you sleep.

SPICER: Yes, one eye open.

AXELROD: And you -- and you -- and you -- do you look with a certain sense of dread?

[05:40:03] SPICER: No, I -- no, but I do look there first because that's what's going to drive the news. I mean, you saw the House vote the other day. He sends a single tweet out saying, you know, the idea that the House is not focused on tax reform and health care and, instead, focused on the Office of Government Ethics. And, you know, immediately it's withdrawn.


ROMANS: So, you know, I've heard so many sort of presidential historians and, you know -- I don't know, ivory tower types who've said this is not presidential to just be throwing out Twitter bombs. This is the way it's going to be, I think, right?

SCOTT: Yes. I mean, this is how it's been and I don't see that changing anytime soon. And even if you think it's OK for Twitter to drive the news -- the tweets of the president-elect -- many critics think that it certainly shouldn't drive policy, especially international foreign -- international security policy. ROMANS: Right.

SCOTT: And we're seeing many major statements being made about Assange, about Obamacare, about tax reform, about government ethics in 140 characters.

ROMANS: But maybe tweets aren't policy. Tweets are what he's thinking at the moment and we have to change how we think about tweets.

BERMAN: The part of this discussion that I don't understand is he's the president-elect -- he will be the president. Anything he says or writes is news.


BERMAN: And what's the difference between putting out a Twitter statement and a press release? I mean, it's 140 characters rather than 500 characters, but it's a statement. And I think -- I always am curious that people say we shouldn't cover it at all. What are we supposed to do, ignore the fact that the president's saying --

SCOTT: Right.

BERMAN: That the president-elect is saying he believes Julian Assange?

ROMANS: But what is the difference between a statement from the White House and a tweet at 3:00 in the morning from Donald Trump? I mean, don't you think that there's a difference in the context?

SCOTT: Well, it's certainly different but, I mean, to the point where we can't ignore it when you're talking about major issues. When you're shutting down the Republicans' main focus area like we saw with this ethics watchdog group. Like, you can't ignore that. You can't ignore that. And we certainly can't ignore --

BERMAN: I mean --

SCOTT: -- what's happening with national security.

BERMAN: I will say this. You know, he tweeted -- he tweeted this morning -- or overnight -- about the person whose name I can't even say, Jackie Evancho --


BERMAN: -- who is singing at the inauguration --

SCOTT: Right.

BERMAN: -- right? He tweeted about her album. He says we don't have to cover that, right?

SCOTT: Yes. BERMAN: That's not something that needs to be covered for hours and hours. But when he's tweeting about Julian Assange, tweeting about China, tweeting about American auto companies, I think it's important information, you know.

SCOTT: Right, and especially right now. Everyone's so interested in Obamacare, as our pack has suggested, and he's going to Twitter quite a bit to talk about what's going to happen if 20 million Americans don't have this coverage.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right. Eugene Scott, nice to see you this morning.

SCOTT: You all, as well, always.

ROMANS: We will tweet out a link to this conversation. All right. A Chinese news agency is slamming Donald Trump's twitter diplomacy as "child's play" but a real estate mogul and a friend of President Obama says Trump is doing the right thing when it comes to his tough talk on trade. We'll bring you that interview next.


[05:46:30] ROMANS: All right. China's official news agency blasting Donald Trump this morning, calling his use of Twitter "Twitter diplomacy" -- decrying it, calling it "child's game". But Trump's tough talk on countries and trade with China and Mexico were one of the reasons he was elected. He masterfully tapped into the middle- class anxiety of those who felt left behind by what they perceive as bad trade deals and 30 years of globalization.

Real estate developer Don Peebles, fresh off his closed-door meeting with Donald Trump -- he tells me the president-elect is doing the right thing when it comes to trade and even Democrats should support it.


DON PEEBLES, FOUNDER & CEO, THE PEEBLES CORPORATION: The North American Free Trade Agreement was a bad deal. It is -- we can see the impact that it has had on our manufacturing.

ROMANS: And that's where he overlaps with some of the unions and some people on the left, right?


ROMANS: You see this overlap between Donald Trump and his criticism of NAFTA and folks on the left.

PEEBLES: Yes, and, in fact, you're right. It's a very good point. And so, unions who want to preserve jobs, you know -- the United Autoworkers, for example -- should be big cheerleaders and supporters of Trump, but they also venture into the social issues and that's where there's a bit of a difference. And I think that ultimately -- you know, I think you're right. I think that his pro-jobs and keeping jobs here in America is something that the left wants to support.


ROMANS: So, let's be clear here. This is somebody who was a fundraiser for a friend of an adviser to President Barack Obama, who has known Donald Trump. I mean, they're both real estate developers in New York and in Miami and Florida. But he's known him for a long time and he sees someone who is taking the right steps for working people. So it's really interesting, kind of the overlap between some of the people on the left and some of Donald Trump's populous policies.

BERMAN: All right. You know there's one thing I want to know?

ROMANS: What do you want to know?

BERMAN: What's coming up on "NEW DAY"?

ROMANS: I want to know what Chris Cuomo's tie looks like today. Oh, some synergy here, gentlemen.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": You know what, J.B.'s tie is better. This has a pattern on it that is too small to be picked up. He went with the more obvious pattern. He wins, once again. All right.

So, President-elect Donald Trump is escalating his feud with U.S. intelligence agencies. This has become a really bizarre situation. You have Donald Trump saying that he knows things about what's going on with Russian hacking, but then his team acknowledging he has not been briefed yet. He has not met the head of the intel agencies. That's supposed to happen tomorrow.

Just ahead of that meeting he puts out word, with his team, that they're going to shake up the intelligence agencies. That they don't like the way the Director of National Intelligence operation works. He doesn't like the way the CIA works. And then he leans on the words of Julian Assange, a man who he said, in 2010, should be put to death for what he does with hacking. So, that is the bizarre situation that leads us into tomorrow's big showdown, I guess, with the intelligence folks and the president-elect.

Now, another showdown, I guess, is what happened on Capitol Hill that you guys have been reporting about this morning. Pence going to his team, Obama going to his team. Already, that's not a good signal, right, for working together, which most mature lawmakers are saying is the key to making any positive changes to the ACA. So what is behind each of these team meetings? We'll get into it this morning.

BERMAN: All right.

ROMANS: Chris Cuomo, dapper, but it is a small print. Thank you.

CUOMO: I know.

BERMAN: Take care. All right, we've got about 11 minutes to the hour right now. Disturbing video from Chicago, all seen on Facebook Live. Four people abusing a bound man with mental challenges. What they told the victim, really, as they tortured him. That's next.


[05:53:20] BERMAN: All right. Duke star Grayson Allen suiting up last night after serving a one-game ban for tripping an opponent.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more from Las Vegas in this morning's Bleacher Report. It is early in Las Vegas. Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Wednesday night in Las Vegas, guys. I'm out here covering the consumer electronics show. We'll have more on that in a moment but first, let's talk a little Grayson Allen. You know, he was originally suspended indefinitely for tripping an opponent for the third time, but Duke surprising a lot of people, announcing last night that Grayson Allen would be back in the lineup for their game against Virginia Tech (sic).

Now, Coach K. said he thought it was an appropriate time for Allen to come back, considering what he had done in practice and in meetings. Allen ended up scoring 15 points as the Blue Devils just crushed the Georgia Tech 110-57. This was Coach K.'s last game before he takes a leave of absence for a few weeks to have back surgery, so a good way to send him out.

In the NBA, meanwhile, Thunder at the Hornets. Oklahoma City called a timeout. Check this out. Russell Westbrook is heading to the bench and he tosses the ball towards the ref under the basket, nailing him right in the head. You can take another look at it. Now, Westbrook immediately reacts like, you know, he thought the ref was, in fact, looking. But one of the other referees saw the whole thing and ended up giving Westbrook a technical foul. Westbrook just couldn't believe it. The Hornets would end up beating the Thunder in that one, 123- 112.

Now here at CES, they're expecting more than 150,000 people over the next four days to come out here to check out all the new cool tech products. I walked around yesterday checking out everything with Shaquille O'Neal. Now, Shaq, of course, a big tech fan and he was getting the lowdown on all kinds of products, including a new Samsung refrigerator that has a huge touchscreen and Shaq used that touchscreen to actually Google himself, which was pretty funny.

[05:55:14] Shaq also was out there shooting free throws with this new gadget that helps track your form (audio gap). I asked Shaq, you know, what does he love about CES?


SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, SELF-PROCLAIMED TECH GEEK: I'm big on wearables, I'm big on headphones, I'm big on speakers. I'm just big on technology. I like to consider myself a geek and I just love coming here, you know. I just love seeing -- meeting new people and meeting inspirational people. And, you know, just trying to help people get their -- get their projects off the ground. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And guys, Shaq wasn't only out here checking out all the new cool products. The entire "Inside The NBA" crew is going to be broadcasting live here later today for their shows tonight.

ROMANS: Awesome.

BERMAN: It's simple -- 150,000 people there to see you, Andy, not to see the technology.

ROMANS: Yes. Andy Scholes in Vegas for us, Wednesday night --

SCHOLES: Maybe half of them.

ROMANS: Thursday morning. We're not sure what time it is in Vegas. What stays in Vegas.

BERMAN: All right, just a couple of minutes before the hour right now. Chicago police have arrested four people over a disturbing torture video broadcast on Facebook Live. The 30-minute video shows a group of African-American suspects kicking, punching, and cutting a white man -- this man has special needs -- while shouting anti-Trump and anti-white slurs. Police made four arrests. They say the victim was a classmate of one of the suspects. They believe he was held as long as 48 hours.

ROMANS: All right, 56 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this Thursday morning. Dow 20,000 watch is back on. The Dow just 58 points away after two solid weeks of gains. You know, some of this optimism coming from the Federal Reserve. Minutes from its last meeting show policymakers discussed Trump's economic proposals and they say that there's a deal -- a great deal of uncertainty with them. And also, possible paths to quicker interest rate hikes this year. Futures right now are basically flat.

There's a big sale at Macy's today -- its stock. A nine percent discount on its shares in premarket trading. Macy's has had a tough year struggling against discounters and fast fashion competitors like H&M. And then Macy's holiday sales were weak, so Macy's will lay off 10,000 employees. It will close 68 stores. Now just 660 locations in the U.S. And you know what, retail experts say it may have to cut even deeper for a serious turnaround.

And finally, if you raked in $25 million last year, just scored a job as America's top diplomat, struck a deal with your old employer to cash out $230 million worth of stock, would you do your own grocery shopping? Apparently, for Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, that answer is yes. A lot of people talking about this Twitter post. Twitter user Sanho Tree snapped this pic of the former ExxonMobil CEO at a Washington, D.C.-area grocery store. Tillerson is in the canned goods and pasta aisle. His basket is filled with Raisin Bran, milk, and baby carrots, among other things.

Ironically, locals call this store the "Soviet Safeway" because of its long lines and bad selection. Apparently, a lot of the Safeways in D.C. have their own personalities. There's a social Safeway, there's a senior citizens Safeway. There's a lot of different Safeways in D.C.

BERMAN: And the baby carrots -- I don't think they were canned, even though he was in the canned goods aisle.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, yes.

BERMAN: Right?


BERMAN: We'll have to get to the bottom of that.

ROMANS: Yes. I love all the investigating on exactly what was in the -- in the basket.

BERMAN: This is the kind of reporting we need.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "NEW DAY" starts now.


PENCE: The president-elect has expressed his skepticism about intelligence conclusion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody needs to march into his office and explain who Julian Assange is.

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: Our source is not the Russian government.

GRAHAM: Don't listen to him, listen to the American intelligence community.

PENCE: The American people voted to repeal and replace Obamacare.

BERMAN: President Obama urging Democrats not to help Republicans.

SCHUMER: The Republican plan to cut health care would make America sick again.

SPICER: We understand that health care is crucial to every American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very disturbing.

ROMANS: A mentally challenged man tortured on Facebook Live.

(Video of man being tortured on Facebook Live)


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. CUOMO: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, January 5th, 6:00 here in New York. And up first, President-elect Donald Trump has a new political enemy, the U.S. intelligence community. His criticism causing divisions in his own party, especially his decision to take the word of Julian Assange over intel determinations. A man that Trump said should be put to death for hacking just a few years ago.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So in just a few hours the top U.S. intelligence chiefs will testify on Capitol Hill about the alleged Russian hacking. This, as we learn the president-elect wants to overhaul the nation's top spy agency.