News Wrap: Kremlin wants to tear apart NATO, Mattis warns

In our news wrap Thursday, defense secretary-designate Gen. James Mattis said at his confirmation hearing that the U.S. must recognize Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to break apart the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Also, the first of 3,500 U.S. troops arrived in southwest Poland, in a NATO buildup to deter Russia.

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    Tough talk on Russia today from the Trump nominees to run the Pentagon and the CIA. At their Senate confirmation hearings, both men took a harder line than the president-elect has on dealing with the Kremlin.

    The defense secretary-designate, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, minced no words.

    GEN. JAMES MATTIS (RET.), Secretary of Defense-Designate: We have a long list of times that we have tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. And I think right now, the most important thing is that recognize the reality of what we deal with Mr. Putin and we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic Alliance.


    At a separate hearing, the CIA nominee, Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, accused the Russians of aggressive action in meddling in the U.S. presidential election. We will take a deeper look at today's statements by both of these key Trump advisers right after the news summary.

    In the day's other news, the first of 3,500 U.S. troops arrived in southwestern Poland in a NATO buildup to deter Russia. The Armored Brigade Combat Team was met with fanfare from the Polish military and public. The U.S. now plans to keep troops in Poland on an ongoing basis. Russia charged that the U.S. move threatens its own security.


    FBI Director James Comey will face an investigation of his investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails. The Justice Department's inspector general says he will examine what the bureau did and what it said before the election. That includes Comey's disclosure in late October that agents were reviewing e-mails again. Nothing came of that review, but Clinton says it hurt her chances.


    The nominee for U.S. housing secretary defended his qualifications for the job today at his confirmation hearing. Dr. Ben Carson, a former pediatric neurosurgeon, said after growing up poor in inner-city Detroit, he's committed to affordable housing for the poor.

    But Democrat Elizabeth Warren pressed Carson to guarantee that federal housing funds won't go to help the Trump family's real estate business.

    DR. BEN CARSON, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development-Designate: It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any — any American.


    I understand that


    It's for all Americans, everything that we do.


    But do I take that to mean that you may manage programs that will significantly benefit the president-elect?


    You can take it to mean that I will manage things in a way that benefits the American people. That is going to be the goal.


    Also today, the president-elect tapped Rudy Giuliani to advise his administration on cyber-security. The former New York City mayor is a long Trump friend who campaigned for him. He currently heads a cyber-security consulting firm. Giuliani was considered for several Cabinet jobs, but ultimately pulled himself out of the running for those.

    There is also word this evening that President Obama will scrap a policy allowing any Cubans who get to U.S. soil to stay. The White House announcement follows months of negotiation, and it means that Cubans trying to flee the communist island could be sent back. The existing policy had been in effect since 1995.


    Baltimore has committed to changing the way its police do business. The city reached agreement today with the U.S. Justice Department. They were responding to the case of Freddie Gray, who died after being taken into police custody. Baltimore cops will have to work the streets differently. They have to change the way they stop suspects. And an independent monitor will check on their process.

    The agreement is one of the final acts for Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

  • LORETTA LYNCH, Attorney General:

    This consent decree is going to empower the community and it will also strengthen the police force in their pure crime-fighting role, as well as the role that engages the community in that. And with that, we hope that we will have a reduction in crime in Baltimore, but more importantly an increase in the participation of the community in this entire process.


    The agreement comes after the Justice Department found Baltimore police commonly stopped poor or black residents without good cause.


    The Environmental Protection Agency accused Fiat Chrysler today of cheating on emissions testing. It involves software that lets some Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees emit more pollution than federal law allows. Just yesterday, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to emissions cheating.


    Americans who really want Obamacare repealed started to get what they want this morning. The Republican-led Senate passed a budget rule that amounts to a first step. Americans who want to know what replaces Obamacare still don't know. Republicans don't agree what to do with millions who gained insurance under the law. To finish the job, Republicans need Democrats and also president-elect Trump, who's said he wants replacement nearly simultaneously with repeal.


    The storms that brought a deluge to parts of California are moving on, and leaving some good news in their wake. Federal officials announced today that 42 percent of the state has now emerged from a five-year drought, thanks to all that rain.

    Still, some Northern California communities remain paralyzed by flooding. In towns like Hollister, the surge took people by surprise.

  • RICHARD SANCHEZ, Hollister, California Resident:

    House is OK, but all around me, my cars, we're stranded in, unless I get like carried out or driven out. My yard is just an ocean, but I don't really do agriculture or nothing. So, it's just kind of a — until it flows out, man, I just got a big lake in my backyard for now.


    Forecasters expect the rainfall in Northern California to taper off after today.


    Amazon says it plans to hire 100,000 full-time workers over the next year-and-a-half. The company intends to open pop-up retail stores, largely in Texas and California. Amazon will grow, as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Macy's are cutting thousands of jobs.


    And on Wall Street, a drop in bond yields sent bank stocks into a slump, and pushed down the broader market. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 63 points to close at 19891. The Nasdaq fell 16 points, and the S&P 500 slipped almost five.

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