PBS NewsHour for January 4, 2017 - Part 1





and vice president-elect Pence head to the hill to make their case to

lawmakers. CIA Director John Brennan discusses the Trump administration`s

relationship with Russia and U.S. intelligence. As the battle for Mosul

continues, residents flee to camps where security concerns are ripping

families apart. Some boys are being taken from ISIS-held areas, never to

be heard from again. Protests continue against Senator Jeff Sessions,

Donald Trump`s pick for attorney general. What is the potential for

nuclear technology to lower carbon emissions?>

Trump; Iraq; Policies; Health and Medicine; Barack Obama; Democratic Party;

Mike Pence; John Brennan; Russia; War; Government; Elections>

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I`m Judy Woodruff.

ALISON STEWART: And I`m Alison Stewart.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the "NewsHour" tonight: the future of health care in the balance. President Obama and vice president-elect Pence head to the Hill to make their case to lawmakers.

ALISON STEWART: Also ahead this Wednesday, the second part of Judy`s conversation with CIA Director John Brennan, looking ahead to the Trump administration`s relationship with Russia and U.S. intelligence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Plus, from Iraq, as the battle for Mosul continues, residents flee to camps where security concerns are ripping families apart.

BELKIS WILLE, Human Rights Watch: Now, all of them might be in official detention facilities, and maybe the moment the operation is done, we will see a lot of these people released. But, for the moment, we don`t know that, and all their families know is that they have gone missing.

ALISON STEWART: All that and more on tonight`s "PBS NewsHour."


JUDY WOODRUFF: The battle over repealing Obamacare has been joined at the U.S. Capitol tonight. Both the sitting president and the incoming vice president were there, making their cases for reprieve or repeal.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

LISA DESJARDINS: At the Capitol, President Obama and vice president-elect Pence were minutes apart in arrival, and light years apart in purpose. Mr. Obama, in a private meeting with Democrats, urged them to defend his signature health care law.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: Hello, everybody. Happy new year.

LISA DESJARDINS: While a few floors up, Mr. Pence rallied his former Republican colleagues in the House to dismantle it. He said afterward that Republicans are paying attention to how to avoid ripple effects of repeal, for individuals and the market.

MIKE PENCE (R), Vice President-Elect: We`re working right now, the White House staff is, on a series of executive orders that will enable that orderly transition to take place, even as the Congress appropriately debates alternatives to, and replacement of, Obamacare.

LISA DESJARDINS: Pence gave no specifics, saying it`s too soon.

Those who will have to wrestle with the specifics, rank-and-file Republicans, focused on their energy.

MAN: It was more a pep rally.

LISA DESJARDINS: As for a timeline on a Republican replacement plan, Trump transition team member Chris Collins and others offered this.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), New York: We`re going to have to, over the next six months, put that pen to paper.

REP. KRISTI NOEM (R), South Dakota: Oh, absolutely. That`s our agreed- upon agenda, is to get it done within six months. We`re not wholly united on one idea right now, but I would say we`re definitely in a better spot than we were six months ago.

LISA DESJARDINS: This is a good time to explain how Republicans plan this repeal. Step one, what`s happening now, is a procedural move, not the actual repeal yet. Both chambers will instruct committees to submit budget ideas by January 27.

Then, step two, inside those budget resolutions will be the repeal of all or part of Obamacare. Why budget resolutions? They require just 51 votes in the Senate. So those budget plans will be the actual repeal. Republicans hope to do that by March.

Step three is the replacement, and that could come in several pieces. As you heard, many Republicans want to propose something within six months. All of those decisions, affecting nearly every American, are politically precarious. President-elect Trump himself warned Republicans on Twitter today to be careful.

President Obama didn`t speak publicly at the Capitol today. Instead, Democratic leaders did in a fiery news conference, insisting Republicans could make things worse, a point highlighted in a new Trump-inspired motto.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), 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.

LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats are, of course, in the minority in both chambers, but they were joined by one Republican this afternoon. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against the first procedural move toward health care repeal, citing cost concerns. It passed without him.

And even if Rand Paul continues to be a no vote, Republicans have enough votes to repeal Obamacare. What is not clear is if they have enough votes for any one replacement plan. There will be a lot of maneuvering and speeches over the next couple of weeks, but, Alison, what is key to watch for is the decision Republicans make as to when the Obamacare repeal should take effect, quickly or over years -- Alison.

ALISON STEWART: In the day`s other news: The white supremacist who killed nine black church worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina, insisted he is not mentally ill. Dylann Roof is acting as his own lawyer for the death penalty phase of his federal hate crimes trial.

In his opening statement, he said -- quote -- "There is nothing wrong with me psychologically." He didn`t address his crimes, and didn`t ask to be spared execution. The prosecution argued that Roof`s actions justify capital punishment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Turkey, authorities say they have identified the gunman in a New Year`s Eve nightclub attack that killed 39 people. But they didn`t release the name today, and the killer remained at large. Turkish police detained 20 suspects linked to the assault, all said to be Islamic State militants, including 11 women.

And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the nation, insisting he won`t surrender to terrorists.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through translator): Nobody`s lifestyle is under systematic threat in Turkey. We will never allow this. We haven`t allowed this since we took the helm 14 years ago. Anyone who claims otherwise must prove it with concrete examples.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Islamic State group has said the nightclub attack was retaliation for Turkish military operations in Northern Syria.

ALISON STEWART: A military court in Israel has convicted a soldier of manslaughter for killing a Palestinian who had stabbed another soldier. Sergeant Elor Azaria shot the attacker, who was wounded, disarmed and laying on the ground. Supporters of Azaria clashed with police outside the courtroom today, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israel`s president to grant a pardon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, president-elect Trump announced he has chosen Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to chair the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Clayton is noted for his expertise in public and private mergers and public offerings.

ALISON STEWART: Macy`s announced today its cutting more than 10,000 jobs and going ahead with plans to close 68 stores.

And on Wall Street, retailers helped lead the way higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 60 points to close at 19942. The Nasdaq rose almost 48 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly 13.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Still to come on the "NewsHour": part two of my discussion with the CIA director -- we talk about the president-elect`s distrust of the intelligence community; boys taken from ISIS-held areas, never to be heard from again; and much more.

We return now to my conversation with CIA Director John Brennan.

Last night, we focused largely on allegations of Russian hacking of U.S. political operations during the election and the war in Syria.

Tonight, we begin with concerns raised by European intelligence officials about possible Russian intrusion in upcoming elections there, and whether Director Brennan believes the U.S. is facing a new Cold War with Russia.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA Director: Well, I certainly hope not.

And I certainly hope that, looking out over the next several years, the relationship between Moscow and Washington improves, because it is critically important for global stability for the United States and Russia to have a better relationship, absolutely, and so I fully endorse that.

However, we see that there are still a lot of actions that Russia is undertaking that undermine the principles of democracy in so many countries. What has happened in our recent election is not new. The Russians have engaged in trying to manipulate elections in Europe for a number of years.

We see that they take advantage of corrupt politicians. They will fund the parties and groups that support their aims. And so there`s active exploitation and manipulation of the political processes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But some now have the sense that this will all improve under a President Trump, that this may have just been a feature of the Obama administration.

JOHN BRENNAN: Oh, I don`t think it was a feature of the Obama administration. I think it was more a feature of the Putin administration in terms of what the Russians have been doing over the last eight years, and certainly before that.

This is not to say that we cannot find ways to be able to work together, the United States and Russia. Again, I think it`s critically important that we do. And maybe now, with a new administration, there will be opportunities to do that. I certainly hope so.

But the facts are that the Russians tried to interfere in our electoral process recently, and were actively involved in that. And that is something that we can`t countenance, because, as you point out, there are a number of countries in Europe that are going to be having elections in this year, whether it be Germany, France, and others.

And I must tell you, there is level of anxiety among my European counterparts about what the Russians might have up their sleeve in order to promote their objectives in these electoral processes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: One other question about the president-elect and the intelligence community.

He has been very critical of parts of the intelligence community. Has the well already been poisoned before he takes office between him and the CIA, which he has been particularly critical of? What are your colleagues saying to you about that?

JOHN BRENNAN: The professionals at the CIA are very much looking forward to having the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise, their capabilities to the incoming administration, president-elect, vice president-elect, and others.

And so every time there`s a transition, the CIA recognizes that it has a special responsibility and obligation to make sure those who have our national security in their hands are going to be as best informed and as enlightened as possible about the complexities of world events.

And so I know there have been a lot of things in the media and the press. And I have told our folks, just focus on your work and look forward to the opportunity to brief the incoming team. So, nothing is soured at this point. And I really do believe that agency officers are ready and looking forward to this opportunity.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A few other important parts of the world I want to ask you about.

North Korea, over the weekend, its leader, Kim Jong-un, said that his country is -- quote -- "finalizing preparations of a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile," which one assumes would mark -- well, would mark an advance in Korea`s attempt to build a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States.

Are the North Koreans as far along as it sounds like they are? How much should the United States, should the incoming president be concerned about it?

JOHN BRENNAN: I think the incoming administration needs to be very concerned about North Korea.

They continue to advance their ballistic missile capability, and as Kim Jong-un said, even at the intercontinental ballistic range. They continue to develop their nuclear program in terms of having nuclear capability that they could then marry with a ballistic missile. And that would be a threat and is a threat to regional states, as well as potentially to the U.S. homeland.

Obviously, the trajectory that Pyongyang has been on over the past two decades, to include the last number of years under Kim Jong-un, has not been a good path. And we, the United States, along with our partners and allies around the world, to include China, which has an extraordinary amount of influence on North Korea, we need to work together to change that trajectory, so that North Korea doesn`t pose that threat to regional stability, as well as to global stability.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Your administration has, in effect, celebrated the nuclear agreement with Iran, holding off Iran`s ability to have a breakout capability when it comes to nuclear weapons.

Does North Korea represent a failure in that regard?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, North Korea has been embarked on this for the last couple of decades, it`s clear.

And there have been a number of steps taken to try to prevent its continued march along this path in terms of sanctions and international program and criticism and isolation of North Korea. But Kim Jong-un and his father and grandfather before him were on this path.

And it`s a -- it`s an unfortunate failure of the international community to find a way to bring North Korea to its senses, so that it can focus on the health and well-being and welfare of its people, who are impoverished, and for him not to be able to continue to invest in a military capability that is only leading to North Korea`s continued isolation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How close is North Korea to being able to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon?

JOHN BRENNAN: To me, the fact that he has a ballistic missile capability and he has said that he is going on the intercontinental side of it, and he has a nuclear capability, to me, that`s too close.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does that mean? I mean...

JOHN BRENNAN: It means that we cannot be -- we shouldn`t feel comfortable with the continued military capabilities and the growth of those capabilities in North Korea. That needs to be addressed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What should president-elect Trump, once he`s in office, and your successor, Congressman now Mike Pompeo, be lying awake worrying about in the months to come, more than anything else?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think it`s all these things.

It`s trying to make sure that they understand the complexities of the various challenges that are out there, whether you`re talking about a Ukraine or Iraq or Syria or North Korea or any of the issues we deal with cyber and terrorism. These are complex and complicated issues.

And they`re not -- they don`t lend themselves to easy and simple solutions. And also, in my experience, the past five, eight years or so, the number of these challenges continues to go up. And so it`s not just complexities of these issues. It`s the simultaneity of it.

And the United States is the global superpower, remains so. And what they need to worry about is how are they going to ensure that they`re able to monitor what`s going on around the world, protect U.S. national security interests, not overcommit, and also make sure that the policy course that they stake out is one that has near-term interests in mind, but also longer-term strategic goals and objectives of the United States.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you believe they`re up to that challenge?

JOHN BRENNAN: I believe that any administration that comes in, I think, sometimes is taken aback by the scope, the scale, the complexity of the problems.

I was part of the incoming Obama administration, and I had served in government before. And I must tell you, once you have that responsibility, it`s rather daunting.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And where will John Brennan be?

JOHN BRENNAN: I will be on the sidelines, will be finishing up on Inauguration Day. And this is the absolute best job that I could ever imagine. And so this will be my last job in government.

But I will be doing what I can to support our national security from the sidelines.

JUDY WOODRUFF: John Brennan, the director of the CIA, thank you very much for joining us.

JOHN BRENNAN: Thank you, Judy. Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch my entire interview with Director Brennan at PBS.org/NewsHour.

Now we explore the widening rift between the president-elect and the intelligence community.

After we recorded the Brennan interview yesterday, Mr. Trump tweeted: "The `intelligence` briefing on so-called `Russian hacking` was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time need to build a case. Very strange!"

Well, that briefing, it was widely reported, was always scheduled for Friday.

For more on this divide, or what appears to be a divide, we turn to James Woolsey. He was the CIA director during the Clinton administration. He is now at Booz Allen, a major defense contractor, and he is a senior adviser to the Trump transition. And Jeffrey Smith, he`s a former general counsel at the CIA. He currently serves on the Department of Defense Legal Policy Advisory Board.

And we welcome both of you to the "NewsHour."

So I`m going to start with you, James Woolsey. These tweets that we`re quoting from Donald Trump are just the latest in a series of statements he`s made dismissing either the CIA or the intelligence agency. What does he -- you`re advising the transition. What does he really think of the professionals in the intelligence community?

JAMES WOOLSEY, Former CIA Director: I think he`s got an open mind.

I think we need to have some things take place which haven`t taken place yet. He needs to get to know the top people in the agency. I think they need to go the extra mile in order to present things to him in a way that he wants. He doesn`t want the morning briefing, apparently. Well, neither did Bill Clinton when I was director of central intelligence. He read the briefing and asked questions sometimes.

So there`s not any one way to do that. But the point is that they need to find out what will help him get into this very important job quickly and effectively and plan their presentations that way, rather than complaining, frankly.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey Smith, what do you make of what we have heard, really just a stream of critical comments by Donald Trump about the intelligence community, the CIA and the rest of it?

JEFFREY SMITH, Former CIA General Counsel: I find them deeply disturbing and potentially very dangerous.

They`re disturbing because he seems to be saying, I don`t trust the intelligence community.

And I don`t know quite why he believes that. We all understand they have made mistakes in the past, but I think they have also understand how important it is to get it right. So I think he`s prejudging them a little bit.

And I think they`re dangerous because he`s set in motion all kinds of potential conflicts down the road and some uncertainty with our allies.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It may go further than criticism. We are just tonight seeing, literally just in the last few minutes, Jim Woolsey and Jeffrey Smith, a report in The Wall Street Journal that a source close to Donald Trump, the Trump transition, is saying that he`s looking at restructuring the entire intelligence community, frankly, overhauling the CIA.

Is it your understand understanding that that`s what he may be up to?

JAMES WOOLSEY: There`s been talk about this not just within the Trump transition, but around the community now for some months, verging into years.

Part of the reason is that the director of national intelligence, which does the sort of chairman of the board job that used to be done by the director of central intelligence, as well as managing the CIA, that sort of chairman of the board job was done more or less by 18, 19 people when I was director back in the `93-`94 time.


JAMES WOOLSEY: It`s now done in one way or another by 2,000 or 3,000.

And there has been a huge surge in numbers of people in the community as a whole, not just at the CIA, and I think they`re going to, understandably, take a look at that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Jeffrey Smith, we don`t know -- again, this report just came out by The Wall Street Journal, and the person, the source is not named. But what would an overhaul like that mean?

JEFFREY SMITH: Well, I agree with Jim.

If the size of the ODNI staff could be reduced and streamlined, I think that`s good. It has become overhead that is largely unnecessary. And the story also suggests that CIA should do more in the field. I think that`s probably right.

But I also think that it`s wise for an administration to come in and take the measure of things before they start reshuffling everything, because a huge amount of effort would be spent on reorganizing things at a time when that energy would be better spent, it seems to me, on addressing the crises that exist in the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But I want to come back, Jim Woolsey, to what Donald Trump has been saying. He`s siding -- frankly, appears to be siding with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks over the CIA, pretty much dismissing the CIA and the entire intelligence community finding that the Russians were behind this hacking of the Democrats during the election.

Do we have any precedent for an incoming president of the United States having this much disregard for the entire intelligence community?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Well, I don`t know that it`s disregard. It certainly is raising issues. There`s no doubt about is that.

Donald Trump does that in his own way. He raised issues in a way that turned out to be very successful for him politically, got him elected president of the United States, when virtually everybody that he talked to said you can`t raise issues that way.

So I think we all need to take half a step back and look at the fact that he handles things like this differently than a lot of other people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me stop and ask Jeffrey Smith.

What Jim Woolsey said a few moments ago was that the intelligence community needs find another way to come to Donald Trump. If he doesn`t like the way the current briefings are structured, they need to find another way to do it. Could that be a solution here?

JEFFREY SMITH: That could help. However it`s done matters less than they need to convince the president, their new boss, that they can be trusted.

And he needs to work to develop their trust. This has to be a mutual understanding of trust between both sides, because there`s going to be some crisis very early in the administration, and the president is going to rely on what he hears from the intelligence community. And if he has been saying before he became president that they can`t be trusted, what does he say to the American people now that I`m relying on them to make recommendations to take action?

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jim Woolsey, I think that`s the question, because if something comes up and Donald Trump has declared that he doesn`t trust the CIA, what does that mean?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Well, I think those -- some things like that can be surmounted by spending some time together and so forth. I don`t think that`s the main problem.

The main problem is that I think the entire leadership, not just the president-elect himself, but the entire leadership in the national security area needs to realize that one of the most important things you`re going to do in this job is deal with crises of one sort or another.

And in crises, it has historically been the case that almost always the first reports are wrong. You cannot deal with them by making a quick judgment based on the first things that you hear, even though they sound -- if they sound reasonable.

The Tonkin Gulf resolution is one example of something that was taken off of a non-occurrence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That sounds like a warning to the incoming administration.

What other advice would you have, just quickly, Jeffrey Smith?

JEFFREY SMITH: Mr. Trump has had an extraordinary business career, but dealing with sovereign states with nuclear weapons is fundamentally different than building a golf course in Scotland.

He has to understand that he has huge responsibilities. He has to be extremely careful about what he says. He has to listen to those terrific professionals in the intelligence community, the diplomatic community, the military community. They have to begin to trust him, and he has to begin to trust them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey Smith, Jim Woolsey, we thank you both.

JAMES WOOLSEY: Good to be with you, as always.


ALISON STEWART: Stay with us.

Coming up on the "NewsHour": protests against Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump`s pick for attorney general; and the potential for nuclear technology to lower carbon emissions.

But first: For nearly three months, Iraqi forces backed by the U.S. have been fighting to re-take the ISIS-held city of Mosul. The militants still hold much of the city and its nearly one million residents.

Almost 130,000 people have fled Mosul since the battle began. Security officials are now trying to harbor the displaced, while also containing the spread of ISIS. But the process of screening and detaining men and boys who have left to ensure they are not extremists is fraught and controversial.

From Northern Iraq, special correspondent Marcia Biggs and videographer Eric O`Conner (ph) report.

MARCIA BIGGS: It`s a slow and steady exodus, civilians fleeing the battle for Mosul. Those who make it to the relative safety of Iraqi checkpoints tell harrowing stories.

MAN (through translator): A mortar landed on my house, destroyed it, and killed my wife. We had no place to bury her, and now our daughter has no mother.

MARCIA BIGGS: The danger of Mosul behind them, they are first screened by Iraqis, then boarded onto buses for a journey into the unknown.

WOMAN (through translator): The shelling destroyed us. All our houses are gone now. Nothing remains for us.

MARCIA BIGGS: Do you know where you`re going?

WOMAN (through translator): I don`t know, but they are saying that they are taking us to the tents.

MARCIA BIGGS: They`re heading to a handful of camps for internally displaced people here in Iraqi-held Kurdistan. It`s a long wait. They`re facing a bottleneck from previous buses as the newly arrived register and receive supplies, and, at every stage, more screening.

Both Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish authorities have a mandate to keep members of ISIS from escaping through the mass of civilians fleeing the battle, and they have gathered intelligence on tens of thousands of ISIS suspects, creating a database with a list of names. Everywhere we went in the camps, we heard the same story.

WOMAN (through translator): I only have one son. They took him 20 days ago. We don`t know where he is. He went to get gas and they just took him. He`s innocent.

MARCIA BIGGS: Aziza says she and her 18-year-old son, Radwan, escaped Mosul, only to be ripped apart by local authorities once they arrived at the camp.