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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With New York Congressman Chris Collins; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Global Anxiety; Trump Wins; Clinton Calls for Unity; Obama Vows to Work Hard for Successful Transition; What Will Trump Do in His Administration?; World Leaders Reaching Out to Trump. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 9, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Are Democrats really ready to give Trump a chance?
Balance of power. Trump is getting credit for helping Republicans keep control of both the House and the Senate. But, tonight, one GOP leader in Congress already is signaling that the next president won't always get what he wants.
And world reaction. Russia are toasting Trump's victory, while the headlines in Mexico reflect high anxiety. Will Trump follow through on campaign promises that have left many global leaders on edge?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, we're following the first urgent hours of Donald Trump's transition from political outsider to president of the United States.
After his early morning election victory, we're told Trump's team is hitting the ground running, planning for his first 100 days in office and narrowing his choices for top positions in his administration.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton is urging her supporters to give Trump a chance to lead. She gave an emotional concession speech hours it was clear that she had been defeated. Clinton called the loss painful, but said she offered to work with Trump to help the country.
President Obama is promising a smooth transition of power, saying he's rooting for Trump to unify the nation. The president and the president-elect, they are set to meet at the White House tomorrow. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's talked to Trump about the work ahead, with Republicans now set to control the White House and both chambers of Congress. Ryan is promising GOP unity, after distancing himself from Trump during the campaign.
I will ask two prominent congressman about what's ahead for Trump and the nation, Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Chris Collins are both standing by, along with our correspondents and analysts, as we cover all the breaking news on this historic election.
First, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's over at Trump Tower tonight in New York City.
Jim, what are you learning?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump and his team have been huddled inside Trump Tower all day long, working through the shock of this election and also planning for a new administration that promises to transform the nation and, as the president-elect likes to say, drain the swamp in Washington.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It's no longer Mr. Trump. It's president-elect Trump. And the incoming 45th president of the United States is so far trying out a new, more unified message.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division. Have to get together.
ACOSTA: And that theme is filtering down to his top aides. In response to Hillary Clinton's concession speech, senior Trump adviser Jason Miller did not use the term crooked Hillary and tweeted: "Very classy speech from Hillary Clinton. Important step in bringing our country together."
And Trump's GOP critics are saying the right things, too, from Jeb Bush and George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. After a campaign that alienated Hispanics, Muslims and women, Trump is sounding an inclusive tone.
TRUMP: It's a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people, it will.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ACOSTA: Even the proposals Trump talked about in his victory speech have broad appeal.
TRUMP: We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure. We will also finally take care of our great veterans.
ACOSTA: But Trump has also promised a more partisan agenda, repealing Obamacare, building a wall on the Mexican border, renegotiating trade deals, improving ties with Russia, even water-boarding terror suspects.
And he will have a Republic Congress led for now by House Speaker Paul Ryan, backing some of his plans.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard. He connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head. And now Donald Trump will lead a unified Republican government.
ACOSTA: Trump's administration should have plenty of familiar faces. RNC Chair Reince Priebus and Chris Christie are mentioned as favorites for White House chief of staff, as is Mike Flynn for national security adviser, while top campaign officials Kellyanne Conway and Steven Bannon are likely to become senior advisers.
And sources say Trump's Cabinet could feature Newt Gingrich, Bob Corker, Jeff Sessions, and Rudy Giuliani in powerful positions.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He went way out to make sure everybody heard him loudly and clearly that he will be the president for all Americans.
ACOSTA: These potential new members of the Trump administration say Americans need to give the man they know intimately a chance.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: He is a reflective person. He isn't a bombastic guy that the media tries to portray. He is a gracious, personable guy that has a lot of qualities that make him endearing. He wants to be a great president. And he will be.
ACOSTA: And Donald Trump is already being swept into the important business of running the country. He's been cleared to receive those national security briefings that are given to the president of the United States.
And speaking of the current president, Wolf, as you said, he's extended an invitation to Donald Trump to meet him at the White House tomorrow, a president Donald Trump viewed at one time as not born in this country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting. All right, thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta.
Now to Hillary Clinton's concession speech and the aftershocks felt by Democrats who were expecting her to become the first woman president of the United States.
Let's go to our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Clinton campaign entered election night thinking they were going to win, and by the end, they were crestfallen, many of them in tears this morning, audible sobs even as Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech in New York.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton ending her run shocked, saddened, and gracious.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must accept this result, and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.
KEILAR: Apologizing to those who worked on her campaign.
CLINTON: This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for. And I'm sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.
KEILAR: With a nod to young supporters and to women.
CLINTON: Especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.
KEILAR: As polls closed Tuesday night, cheer gave way to concern, then disbelief and tears at Clinton's election night party, battleground Florida, where the campaign was confident about victory, going red, North Carolina doing the same. Then the blue firewall went up in flames, Trump scooping up reliably Democratic Wisconsin, surging in Michigan, still too close to call, and Pennsylvania, where Clinton consistently led in the polls, ending her hopes as it turned red.
Gathered beneath the glass ceiling of the Javits Center, her supporters expected a triumphant sequel of her 2008 concession speech.
CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: Instead, workers emptied confetti cannons of unused metallic confetti meant to imitate shattered glass, Clinton falling short of her goal.
CLINTON: I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but, someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: In the end, the polls were wrong, almost all of them, and Clinton irrevocably damaged by her own deeds, including the use of a private e-mail address and server while secretary of state.
CLINTON: The server will remain private.
KEILAR: President Obama's argument that Clinton would protect his legacy not enough.
OBAMA: It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team. We all want what's best for this country. That's what I heard in Mr. Trump's remarks last night. That's what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that.
KEILAR: Clinton also urging unity, but acknowledging the hurt her supporters feel.
CLINTON: This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this. Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love, and about building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.
KEILAR: Though not widespread, there is some finger-pointing going on within the Democratic Party. I spoke with a Bernie Sanders surrogate, his biographer as well, Jonathan Tasini, and he said: "We told the party Bernie movement. They would not listen." He said: "No, they had to anoint her. It was like an alcoholic family not willing to have an intervention" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brianna Keilar reporting for us, Brianna, thanks very much.
I have got to add, now, she got almost 59 million votes yesterday, so she could say there are now almost 59, almost 60 cracks in that glass ceiling.
Now let's talk a little bit more about Donald Trump's victory, what to expect in his administration.
Joining us now, Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, Donald Trump says he wants to get together with Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Are Democrats ready to work with president-elect Trump right now? Are you?
SCHIFF: I am ready to work with him, and I think Democrats are as well. I think we will bear very much in mind what Secretary Clinton said, that we ought to go into this with an open mind.
And as the president said, this is all about what's in the national good. We have to try to find a way to bridge the divide in the country. We have to find a way to grapple with some of the challenges that we have here at home and abroad, and that really requires us to work together.
I think it's going to be important, as a member of the minority, when the other branch, all the other branches are controlled by one party, to make sure that we vigorously protect the rights of all Americans against discrimination, to give them every opportunity to succeed, and to counter any attempt to violate either the values or the Constitution. So that will be a very important role for us in the opposition.
BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, he always said he knows how to negotiate. Do you see him reaching across the aisle quickly to folks like you?
SCHIFF: I think he will.
I think at heart he may be very pragmatic, and on some issues like infrastructure, he may have more of a problem with his own party than he has with Democrats. So, I think he will try. I think it's going to be, frankly, fascinating to see how the GOP in Congress reacts with him, because he's at odds with them on a lot of their orthodoxy.
But I certainly stand ready to see where we can find common ground. I do hope that we don't spend lot of time trying to roll back the progress that we have made over the last eight years. On that, I think he will find some very strong opposition.
But there ought to be ways to work together, to move forward, and we are going to approach this with an open mind.
BLITZER: Given some of the problems he's had with the Republican establishment, the leadership and the fact that, over the years, as you know, he's changed his position on a lot of sensitive issues, do you believe he's really a Republican?
SCHIFF: You know, I don't know what he is, really. I think you're right. If you look over the years, his positions on things even that are normally ones of great conviction have been very malleable.
So, I don't think we know at all what to expect. And I'm gravely concerned, as you know, Wolf, about his foreign policy and national security ideas. I'm terrified that the Kremlin finds his election something to applaud. That's a very disturbing prospect to me.
What does that mean in terms of our NATO allies? What does it mean in terms of maintaining the pressure on Russia to get out of Ukraine, to abide by the Minsk accords, to stop bombing civilians in Aleppo? A lot of profound questions. How much of what Donald Trump was saying was election posturing and how much does he really believe? None of us have any way of knowing at this point.
BLITZER: As you know, he has vowed to diminish the U.S. commitment to NATO if the NATO allies don't pay up, pay more money. He's vowed to renegotiate NAFTA or simply get rid of it, also wants to get rid of the Iran nuclear agreement. He says Iran, from his perspective, they will break that agreement.
He really has various views that you totally disagree with in a Trump presidency. How are you going to deal with him on those sensitive issues?
SCHIFF: Well, I'm hoping that when he comes to understand a lot of the difficulties and complexities with what he has proposed as a candidate, he will understand this is not so simple. The Iran nuclear agreement, for example, was an agreement that was reached not only between the United States and Iran, but many other countries as well, and has had the effect of rolling back Iran's nuclear program.
So, let's say we somehow annul it or say we're not going to don't abide by it. What does that mean when Iran then starts to turn back on its nuclear program in a mad dash to move forward? That is a pretty terrifying prospect as well.
So it's easy to make these pronouncements, like his pronouncement about repealing Obamacare and replacing it. But, as of this point, he's never had to say what he would replace it with, and what do you do when you essentially kick 20 million people off their health insurance plans?
So, again, these have made good electioneering slogans. In fact, they made winning slogans. But whether they can be translated productively into action, I think he's going to find that's entirely problematic and would be really a disservice to the country.
BLITZER: The defense secretary, Ashton Carter, has urged a peaceful transition of power. He ordered everyone at the Pentagon today, military and civilian employees: "I am committed to overseeing the orderly transition to the next commander in chief."
Do you think Trump has a plan to defeat ISIS, or do you see the U.S. military -- in the first 100 days, he says he's going to listen to some of the generals. But when it comes to ISIS, you heard him say several times he says he knows more about defeating ISIS than the generals do.
SCHIFF: You know, I have to hope that this was, frankly, election posturing.
And we have to hope that we have a president, frankly, that has the humility to know that he doesn't know everything and can rely on people that have expertise and draw on it and know when to go with one opinion, when to accept the validity of the underlying arguments that are made by the military or civil leadership within the Pentagon.
We hope that he has both that humility and that judgment. In terms of the plan for ISIS, the secret plan, I have to say I'm skeptical there is a secret plan. I do think that he will listen to the generals. I hope that he will be persuaded to continue the prosecution of the war that is making such progress against ISIS militarily.
The bigger challenge of course is going to be in Syria, and, there again, I have profound concerns about cozying up with the Russians and anything that preserves Assad in power, because I think, as long as he is there, that terrible churning civil war is going to go on.
BLITZER: Speaking of the Russians, what about the role of the Russian cyber-attacks? After seeing the results, do you think the Russians did, in fact, have a direct impact on the U.S. presidential election? SCHIFF: You know, they certainly had an impact. The hacking that
they did, the dumps of documents did sow discord between within the Democratic Party between some of the Clinton people and the Sanders people.
So, it had an impact. Did it have a dispositive impact? I will leave that to the expects to analyze and determine. But it certainly had an influence. I hope that, frankly, that Mr. Trump will listen to the intelligence professionals when they talk about Russia's role in that.
It was very disturbing to me that even after getting briefed, he denied Russia's complicity. That said to me that he may be willing to deny even sound intelligence and expertise when it contradicts his personal interest. And that is not a quality we want to see in a president of the United States.
So he will have to be briefed. He should be briefed. He will know the dearest and closest held secrets of the country, because he will need to know them to satisfy his constitutional duty to protect the country. And we have to all hope and pray that he can maintain the sanctity of that information, but also have the good judgment to know how to rely upon that information and that expertise.
BLITZER: Yes, starting today, he gets that presidential daily brief, the most sensitive national security information, the most highly classified information. He will get it on daily basis.
One final question, Congressman, before I let you go. Who do you think the leader of the Democratic Party is right now?
SCHIFF: Well, Nancy Pelosi is our leader in the Congress. And I think she does a fabulous job.
I'll tell you, she is among the toughest and smartest people I have ever worked with. And I'm only sorry that she won't have another tough, smart woman in the White House to work with. But she's been an extraordinary leader for us.
This was a tough election at a time when the outsiders really prevailed, and notwithstanding, I think, having a superb and really the most superbly qualified candidate for president in my lifetime. It didn't prove to be enough, at least not in terms of the Electoral College. It was enough for the popular vote.
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thanks very much.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, I will get a Republican view from Congressman Chris Collins of New York. Will he be part of a Trump team? Guess what? I will ask him when we come back.
BLITZER: The transition of power is under way tonight with Donald Trump's team looking at potential Cabinet members, floating names for top spots inside the Trump White House and the Trump administration.
Let's get some more.
Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York is joining us.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you. Good to be here.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.
You were the first member of the U.S. Congress to support Donald Trump. Do you see yourself potentially as part of a Trump White House team?
COLLINS: I really don't.
I have been thinking long and hard about this. I had a long conversation with president-elect Trump today. And I told him I'm really not interested in joining the administration. I'm in a job now on the Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress at a stage in my career.
That's where I want to end my career. But I do think there's a role I can play, you know, having assisted Mr. Trump for -- or president- elect Trump for nine months, with my colleagues in Congress. And I actually floated that today with Speaker Ryan as well.
So, I do think I'm going to have a role to play, but I don't see myself, at this late stage of my career, which has been quite varied over four decades, going and taking something in the administration. I want to stay right here in Congress and conclude my career as a congressman.
BLITZER: So, tell us how that call went. What did you discuss with the president-elect?
COLLINS: Well, he and Ivanka called me. I was honored to have gotten that phone call to thank me for everything I have done.
We reminisced about the campaign from February 24, when I endorsed him, to some spots where you and others put really me on the hot seat from time to time. He certainly was watching and we chatted about those things. We also, as I said, talked about what is going on in the administration.
He asked me actually was I surprised last night? And I said, Mr. Trump, no. If you remember on February 25, I drew that exact path of victory, going right through Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan. I may have missed that one, but I went up into Wisconsin.
So, I said I knew the feelings and the mood of the working-class men and women in the Rust Belt that lost their jobs. I knew there would be massive turnout, irrespective of party loyalty.
And so I said, no, I'm not surprised, but I'm also quite happy it's over with.
I was a little worried about Florida. So, actually, it was just a nice, comfortable chat. But I did make it clear I want to stay in Congress. I have a role to play on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee, Telecommunications and Oversight.
That's what I enjoy doing. That's what I signed up for four years ago. I'm honored now to be doing it for two more on the number one committee. So I think we have got an opening here where I could be maybe a go-between between Mr. Ryan and Mr. Trump, and I think that's a role that I would do very well at.
BLITZER: Did you get a sense of what role Ivanka might play in the Trump administration?
COLLINS: Well, Ivanka being, you know, her dad's daughter, I think he always had respected her opinions, as you do your family members. I think she's got a special place as the daughter.
So, I don't think she's going to have an official role or title. But I think she will always be the family adviser that I'm sure Mr. Trump will appreciate, as well as his sons.
BLITZER: You're a business guy. How do you think, as president of the United States, he actually separates himself from a huge business he's got? All the Trump businesses, they're enormous right now. How does he separate himself from all that?
COLLINS: It's really not that hard.
I have done it with my own private businesses. I have partners that are running those companies. They don't need my day-to-day input. And it wasn't like Mr. Trump was running one particular hotel. His family has been very involved. And it's really not that hard to step away once you have got all your management team in place.
And in his case, family that he knows he can trust is an important thing. So it's much easier than you would think, especially with his family around him, to let the professional managers do the job, just like he is going to look at his Cabinet officials to give him advice, whether it's his secretary of defense, treasury secretary, et cetera.
That's what a CEO does. He gets a lot of balls in the air, and Mr. Trump made the decision he was going to prioritize our country, put America first, and now that he is going to be president, I don't see any bumps in the road there at all.
BLITZER: I wonder if you have any sense on whether Melania Trump, Donald Trump's wife, will actually move to Washington, live in the White House? I asked the question. They have a young son, Barron. She's made a point that her primary responsibility now is raising Barron, making sure he does well, keeping him out of spotlight.
Do you have any idea whether or not they will actually come and live in Washington, she will uproot him from his school in New York? Do you have any sense over of that? We see Barron on the stage last night with Donald Trump and Melania Trump. You see him right there.
COLLINS: Well, I don't have any inside information, but I would just say what kid wouldn't want to live in the White House? My goodness.
They have movies about things like that. And they are a very close family, so I don't have any insight, but I would think Barron would want to live in the White House, frankly.
BLITZER: You say you want to be a liaison between Donald Trump and the House speaker, Paul Ryan. I assume you think Paul Ryan is going to keep his speakership.
COLLINS: Oh, there's no question. We have elections next Tuesday. Monday. We will got through some -- the process on Monday. We were on a conference call today.
I think that's a slam dunk. I don't believe there's anyone even running against our leadership team. Heck, we're coming back with 240, 241 members, when most folks, most of the pundits thought we would be coming back with 225 or less.
Our team has done a marvelous job. Paul Ryan raised incredible sums of money to help our folks withstand a barrage coming from the other side. He's well-respected. I don't even see a challenge to his leadership, and I think we will select him next Tuesday.
BLITZER: The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, he wouldn't say today if he actually backs Donald Trump's plan to build a border wall with Mexico and have Mexico pay for it. Mitch McConnell said it's always a mistake to misread your mandate.
Does Donald Trump have Congress' support for an initiative like that?
COLLINS: Well, he certainly has my support.
And if you look back a couple, three, four years ago, Wolf, Congress did pass a law and appropriated money to build a wall. It may have been the exact wall that Mr. Trump is talking about now, but it's a normal thing to have some kind of physical barrier at your border, and we will see how it plays out.
But I think everyone's got to say, that was front and center. Bringing our jobs back, and building that wall were front and center in his campaign. I would be surprised if any Republican at this point with what we've accomplished: the House, the Senate, and the administration would stand in the way of pretty much his signature pledge to America that he's going to build a wall. I know I wouldn't stand in the way of that. So -- I can't speak for the -- for Mitch McConnell, but I think most Republican say, "Let's go ahead and build the wall."
[18:30:24] BLITZER: You honestly believe Mexico will pay for it?
COLLINS: In one way or another. I mean, look at the trade deficit that we have. They are dependent on our economy. So I think we call all the shots there, Wolf. There's no two ways about it.
If somehow their goods are not going to flow across our border, that would devastate their entire country, their economy, their way of living. So I think President Trump is holding all the cards to say, if we're going to, you know, have some kind of a new trade deal, you, Mexico, are going to have to pay for a wall that will keep your citizens in. That's not unreasonable. I don't know what -- what the final details would be.
But, you know, Mr. Trump wrote the book "Art of the Deal." I think one way or the other, he'll extract payments for Mexico towards the wall.
BLITZER: Donald Trump has spent many months calling the election system rigged. He's complained. You heard him often talk about the so-called rigged system.
Last night, he was elected president of the United States in a free and fair election. Many in that time lost faith in democracy, some of his supporters, when he kept talking about a rigged election.
Was that irresponsible to suggest that the system is rigged? Because he won in a free and fair election. The system clearly is not rigged.
COLLINS: Well, I never thought Mr. Trump was talking about ballot stuffing, although we know there are always some instances of folks voting that shouldn't be, perhaps some illegal immigrants voting. I think his -- he was referring to the liberal press that had such a gross bias against him and thoughts that questions in debates were being leaked or even provided, and what I would say was really Trump bashing by some of the networks, unrelenting. That's what he's mean [SIC].
The public was not getting a fair look at the candidates in an unbiased way. There was a media bias there that was disproportionately targeting him. And I believe that's what he was referring to, not ballot stuffing.
BLITZER: Well, because yes, he often railed against the news media, the mainstream news media. He was very, very forceful on that. But he also -- he also tweeted this. This was October 17. I'll put it up on the screen. I'll read it: "Of course there is large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive."
That's what -- that's what he said only a few weeks ago, a few weeks before this election. Would you agree that there was yesterday widespread voter fraud?
COLLINS: No, I don't think there was widespread voter fraud, nothing that would have influenced the results of this election. I do think we should be able to do better, especially with I.D., to make sure that we absolutely don't have voter fraud, to make sure the folks voting should be voting. No, no, no. I don't think there was widespread voter fraud, nothing that would have influenced the results of this election.
I do think we should be able to do better, especially with I.D., you know, to make sure that we absolutely don't have any voter fraud, to make sure the folks that are voting should be voting. No, I don't think there was anything along those lines. There were probably isolated instances here and there but nothing that would influence the election.
BLITZER: And very quickly, you're from Erie County in Western New York, Buffalo, New York, my home town. How did Trump do there?
COLLINS: Hillary got 50 percent. Donald Trump got 45 percent. But in a county that is 2-1 Democrat, it was way closer than Hillary Clinton would have liked. So she may have won by five points, but she went -- came in with a 2-1 voter advantage.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman Chris Collins, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.
COLLINS: OK. Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Say hello to all my friends in Buffalo.
Coming up, we have details of Donald Trump's transition to power. What will it look like? There's more breaking news here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
[18:38:12] BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, President-elect Donald Trump's team is now working on the transition to power following his truly remarkable White House win. And he'll be working with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, as he works to implement his controversial campaign pledges.
Let's get some more with our panel. And let me start with the news from Bernie Sanders, the Democratic -- the independent senator, I should say, who caucuses with the Democrats. He just issued a statement on Donald Trump. Let me read this -- this excerpt, quote, "To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. Pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him" -- David Axelrod.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
AXELROD: Listen, I think that the appropriate posture to take is to work with him when they agree and to vigorously oppose him when they don't. But it's interesting to hear Bernie Sanders make this statement, because there's one big thing on which they do agree, which is opposition to trade -- to these trade treaties. So there may be one piece of the agenda on which the left and right come together here.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There is one big issue, which is climate change, which is Bernie Sanders' raison d'etre he would talk to during the campaign.
BORGER: Everything was climate change to him.
BLITZER: Not so much with Donald Trump.
BORGER: Not so much with Donald Trump. He will...
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Climate change? Climate change...
BORGER: ... fight him on that.
TOOBIN: Donald Trump thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax.
TOOBIN: Environmental regulation is gone. The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, is going to be decimated.
BORGER: And this will rally the Sanders supporters.
AXELROD: More -- I think Gloria's point is, this isn't going to sit well with Bernie Sanders.
BORGER: This will be...
TOOBIN: You know what? You know what the Democrats are? Irrelevant. So what it doesn't sit well with Bernie Sanders. I mean, really. The Democrats don't control the Senate, don't control the House. They're irrelevant.
BLITZER: Let me go to Manu. I want to bring in Manu Raju, our senior political reporter, into this. Manu, you had a chance to speak with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. What did he tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was in a good mood, Wolf, obviously, because Republicans, it looked like they were going to lose the majority in the Senate just a couple days ago. In fact, they only lost two seats and look like they're going to have a 52-48 Senate majority in the next year.
But we had a chance to ask him a lot of questions at the news conference earlier today about Donald Trump, his positions on some of the key issues. And it's clear that a lot of the things Donald Trump was saying on the campaign trail just may not pass muster with the Senate Republican relationship.
One on term limits. He said that's not going to happen. And Donald Trump says he wanted to, of course, drain the swamp.
Also, Mitch McConnell expressing his support for NATO. Of course, that's an institution that Donald Trump told you, Wolf, that is obsolete.
And also about that border wall with Mexico. I asked Mitch McConnell three times at this press conference today whether or not he supports a wall with Mexico as Donald has made the centerpiece of his campaign, and Mitch McConnell just flatly would not say. He said, "We need to do something about border security, and I'm looking for the best, most effective way to do it."
It really just shows, Wolf, that the Republican Party leadership is just not quite sure what they're in for with Donald Trump. Will he push traditional Republican bills, traditional Republican ideas, or will he champion those populist ideas that were so controversial on the campaign trail? They just don't know yet, Wolf.
BLITZER: Gloria, in his victory speech last night, Donald Trump sought to reach out to all Americans, including those who didn't support him. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It's time.
I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.
As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement, made up of millions of hardworking men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their family. It's a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Gloria, how effective is that strategy going to be?
BORGER: Look, I think you have to give Donald Trump credit last night for that speech. I think he did exactly what he ought to do, which is reach out to everybody in his new role as, you know, the president- elect of the United States. And so I give him credit for doing that.
The question is -- and we'll just have to see -- can he continue along that line and still say, "I'm going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. I'm going to take away Obamacare and go down -- I'm going to undo all the executive actions that -- on immigration, and I'm going to get rid of climate change policy"? Can he -- can he do that and still do all the things that he has promised his supporters he will do? Because he wants to keep his base of the Republican Party intact, and his coalition intact. So that remains to be seen.
But as for last night, heading into the office of the presidency, I think he did exactly the right thing.
BLITZER: He's going to be meeting tomorrow at the White House with President Obama. Can he do it? Can he govern the way he has campaigned?
AXELROD: Not if he keeps the pledge that he made last night. I mean, the whole essence of his campaign was to polarize the American people and to incite his constituency, and he did that very effectively. If he's going to govern in a way that brings people together and accomplish things, then he's going to have to govern differently.
But as Jeff points out, he has the advantage of a Republican Congress. He doesn't have the numbers in the Senate to avoid getting tied up in the way the Senate does.
[18:45:04] BLITZER: Usually in the Senate, if something is really important, you need 60 votes, not a majority.
AXELROD: Right, he has 52. But -- so he could run into that quagmire. But he's going to find that governing is not simply tweeting and holding -- and going on television and inflaming. Governing means sitting down, doing the homework, bringing people together and forging progress, and that's a whole different pursuit.
BLITZER: Very quickly, David, but, Jeffrey, you're basically suggesting that Democrats now in this new Congress, the Republicans in the majority and in the executive branch, the White House, as the legislative branch, and soon the judicial branch, Democrats have become irrelevant?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. When you look at the areas of agreement between Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, the areas of agreement are much bigger than the areas of disagreement. There are a few disagreements. But abolishing Obamacare, cutting taxes, abolishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you know, limiting environmental enforcement -- I mean, those are all forces that unite them, and they will clearly have the votes to do it.
And the filibuster exists currently in the Senate, but it is far from clear that Mitch McConnell will allow the filibuster to continue, if the Democrats actually do obstruct their agenda.
AXELROD: I think the point, though, Jeffrey, is that there is the House Republicans is a smaller caucus. They've got their own internal issues. The Senate does have the filibuster rule. And wily leaders on both sides of the capital can create problems for them in this regard, political problems. So, I don't think it's a lay down on the part of the Democrats, I think the Democrats will be active in thwarting that agenda when they see problems with them. BORGER: But the Democrats are going to have their own civil war here,
because, you know, you're going to have some Democrats up in red states in the next campaign, and they're going to be wanting to cut some more deals with Republicans than the left wing of the Democratic Party is going to want to cut, the Elizabeth Warrens and the Bernie Sanders. And so, the Democrats are going to have to chart a path for themselves if they want to have the possibility of --
BLITZER: A lot more Democrats up for re-election in two years.
BORGER: Exactly, and perhaps retaking control.
BLITZER: How is the transition looking right now, David?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we're hearing a lot of names of individuals who might be cabinet secretaries. The most interesting name among those to me is Rudy Giuliani, former prosecutor, former mayor of New York. If he is, as his name has been floated, the top candidate for attorney general, I think it will be interesting to see, to your point about what Congress will do with Trump, actually Republicans in Congress, whether Republicans will have worked on criminal justice reform like Senator Mike Lee, like Senator Rand Paul, will say anything or if they would just sort of go along and rubber-stamp Donald Trump's choice even though --
TOOBIN: And Rudy Giuliani has been outspoken that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted in connection with the Clinton Foundation and the e-mails. This is something that is not dead by any means.
BLITZER: Do you think he will appoint a special prosecutor?
TOOBIN: I don't think he needs to appoint a special prosecutor. He can just have it done in the Justice Department. There's more complex of interest. She's no longer in the government.
I mean, I think Donald Trump abhors weakness and loves revenge. This is something he's written about it. He said it. I think prosecuting Hillary Clinton is something that will be very much on the table.
AXELROD: Yes, but whether he'll move to heal all wounds as he said last night, or wound the people he considers to be heels, and we'll see. And if he doesn't -- if he acts on the second, I think it's going to be a galvanic, very difficult four years.
BORGER: And if it's anybody other than Rudy Giuliani, I don't know that they would be so eager. And, you know, there are questions about whether Rudy Giuliani would be the most likely person to become the next attorney general.
BLITZER: All right. Manu, in his remarks earlier today, President Obama spoke about the importance of this transition. I want to play for you what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a chance to talk to President-elect Trump last night, about 3:30 in the morning, I think it was, to congratulate him on winning the election. And I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies.
Now, it is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush's team could not have been more professional and more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running.
And one thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us.
[18:50:00] So, I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush's team set eight years ago and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president- elect, because we are now all rooting for his success and uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we're going to show that to the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So, Manu, how might the president inspire Democrats to work in good faith with the president-elect?
RAJU: Well, I think these are similar to what you kind -- the messages that you hear at the end of every election, vowing to work together and so forth. But what really going to -- what really will be determinative of whether or not Democrats can work with Donald Trump is how Donald Trump forges ahead with his own agenda. Does he try to push bills and legislation in which Democrats can easily support like a jobs infrastructure bill, for instance? Or does he go guns blazing? Repeal Obamacare, build that wall in Mexico?
And then, conversely, how do Democrats deal with that, too? Gloria made a key point earlier. There is going to be a fundamental divide particularly within the Senate Democratic caucus between the liberal progressive wing, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren wing, and five -- and moderate Democrats who are facing very difficult reelection races. Five actually from a deeply red state that Trump won convincingly last night.
So, I talked to one of them today, Wolf, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who said it would be the stupidest thing for the Democratic Party, those are his words, the stupidest thing for the Democratic Party to fight Donald Trump tooth and nail. He thinks that it's time to work with him and cut deals and sometimes Democrats may agree it made sense to fight Donald Trump and other times, the party will be divided.
So, it is going to be determinative on how Donald Trump approaches the new Congress. But also how Democrats themselves, whether or not they think it's time to cut deals or time to battle what they believe is bad policy from Donald Trump.
BLITZER: All right. Manu, good explanation. Everybody, standby.
We have much more coming up, including global reaction to the Trump victory. Details of the president-elect's phone calls with world leaders. What message is Russia's Vladimir Putin sending to the next U.S. commander-in-chief?
[18:56:18] BLITZER: President-elect Donald Trump getting phone calls and messages from world leaders. Some of them weary but most offering congratulations and cooperation.
Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is with us.
The latest, Elise, leaders from Russia, Israel, Mexico, lot of other countries, they are reaching out to Donald Trump right now.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
While congratulations are pouring in from around the world for President-elect Trump's stunning victory. But many were laced with shock and uncertainty. U.S. allies in Europe and Asia nervous about Trump's promise to remake much of the world order. While in Russia, hope of a new day.
LABOTT (voice-over): Tonight, world leaders pledge to work with President-elect Donald Trump but with a healthy dose of anxiety over how he would confront world challenges with his foreign policy of America first.
DOUGLAS TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I want to tell the world community, that while we will always put America's interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone. We will seek common ground, not hostility. Partnership not conflict.
LABOTT: The question for many American allies, will President-elect Trump make good on his controversial campaign pledges, to rip up trade deal, build a wall against a Mexican border and bar Muslim immigrants.
In Russia, the champagne was popping. Lawmakers breaking out in applause over the election of Trump, who has praised President Putin and promised to work closely with Moscow in Syria and in the fight against ISIS.
Trump has also rejected findings by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies, tying hacking of U.S. political groups to the Kremlin.
An enthusiastic Putin sent a telegram to the president-elect, expressing hope in a Trump administration.
PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Russia is ready and wants to restore full-fledged relations with the U.S. LABOTT: But in Asia, anxiety over how Trump would lead. South Korea
convened an emergency national security meeting, as Japan's financial markets tumble -- as Trump's call for both countries to develop nuclear weapons to defend themselves hit close to home.
In Iran, a warning to remain committed to the nuclear deal, which Trump threatened to undo.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Future U.S. president elect is obliged to stay committed to this not bilateral but multilateral nuclear deal.
LABOTT: After warning that the fate of the world is at risk with a President Trump --
OBAMA: This guy is temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief.
LABOTT: -- the White House now turning the page.
OBAMA: The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.
LABOTT: Across Europe, congratulations, but unease that the U.S. will now move closer to Russia and away from NATO, which Trump said he could abandon unless allies pay their fair share.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I will discuss with President-elect Trump the way forward regarding how NATO shall continue to respond to a new and more challenging security environment and a more dangerous role.
LABOTT: And leaders of the European Union are holding an emergency meeting this weekend to discuss the implications of Trump's election. The E.U. has also invited him for a summit as soon as possible to chart the next four years. Some leaders want to talk to the president-elect immediately to clarify some of his more controversial policy positions.
French President Hollande said tonight, Wolf, the election of Donald Trump opens a period of uncertainty.
BLITZER: Elise Labott, thanks very much for that report.
I just want to let our viewers know, tomorrow morning, 11:00 a.m. Eastern, the president-elect of the United States will be in the Oval Office with President Obama at President Obama's invitation.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.