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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Washington Congressman Adam Smith; Interview With Former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston; Clinton Blame Game; Pence and Trump Kids Now Leading Transition Team; Racist Chants, Vandalism Reported After Election; Clinton Camp Casts Blame for Loss on FBI Chief; Interview with Congressman John Garamendi of California; Trump May Keep Part of Obamacare. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 11, 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: Happening now, breaking news: It's different now.
Donald Trump hints at a possible compromise on a major campaign promise now that he's won the White House. Trump says his meeting with President Obama gave him new perspective.
Christie gets trumped. The president-elect demotes the head of his transition team and puts his running mate, Mike Pence, in charge instead. We're getting new details on the shakeup and the role of Trump's children and his son-in-law.
Unfair protests? Trump criticizes the demonstrations against his election victory, and then praises them a few hours later, the mixed messages coming as new anti-Trump rallies are under way this hour.
And blame game. Hillary Clinton's spokeswoman suggests their crushing defeat is mostly the FBI director's fault. Tonight, new details on the Democrats in disarray, struggling to find a new leader and a new message.
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: Donald Trump reveals that he's taking a personal plea from President Obama to heart.
In his first interview since becoming president-elect, Trump tells "The Wall Street Journal" that he will consider leaving parts of the Affordable Care Act in place. Trump says the president urged him to reconsider his campaign promise to repeal Mr. Obama's signature health care law.
Also breaking, the incoming vice president, Mike Pence, he's now taking over as chairman of the Trump transition team, while Governor Chris Christie is being sidelined to a lesser role. In a major shakeup, Trump is also adding many members of his inner circle to the transition team, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband and sons Eric and Don Jr.
Sources tell CNN that all signs now point to Republican National Committee Reince Priebus getting the critical job of White House chief of staff, instead of Steve Bannon, the controversial Trump campaign CEO.
The president-elect is promising to make important decisions soon on top jobs within his administration.
That anti-Trump protest movement continues tonight with new demonstrations planned in multiple cities this hour. Trump posted a tweet overnight criticizing the rallies as unfair, only to switch gears hours later and praise the demonstrators.
We're going to get reaction to all of this from Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, former Republican congressman and Trump campaign adviser Jack Kingston. And our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by, as we bring you full coverage of the breaking stories.
Up first, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, you have covered many events. You have covered Trump for many months, I should say, right now, and we're beginning to get in these first few days some hints of potential compromise.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Wolf. That remains to be seen, but to be Trump or not to be Trump, that seems to be the question, Wolf.
In that interview that you mentioned with "The Wall Street Journal," Donald Trump seems to be tempering his fire-breathing agenda from the campaign. But make no mistake, Trump is still being Trump as his administration starts to take shape.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Just days after the election, a shakeup inside the Trump transition team. Vice president-elect Mike Pence has taken over Trump's transition efforts, bumping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie down to vice chairman, along with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, Newt Gingrich, and Dr. Ben Carson.
Sources say the move comes after infighting inside the transition over whether the team should hire previously anti-Trump Republicans, the so-called never-Trumpers, not to mention the still unfolding Bridgegate scandal in New Jersey.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you.
ACOSTA: Another surprise for the new administration comes one day after Donald Trump met with President Obama. Following his conversation with the president, Trump is now open to keeping some portions of Obamacare, something he vowed to repeal during the campaign.
Trump told "The Wall Street Journal": "Either Obamacare will be amended or repealed and replaced."
But the incoming administration is facing a more pressing concern, continued protests against the president-elect flaring up across the country.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Look, I everyone needs to just take a deep breath.
ACOSTA: RNC Chair Reince Priebus urged calm after the president-elect himself ratcheted up the tension, returning to Twitter to complain: "Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters incited by the media are protesting. Very unfair," a gripe he walked back, later tweeting: "Love the fact that the small group of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud."
But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says Trump must do more than just tweet. "If this going to be a time of healing," Reid says in a statement, "we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs, at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate."
Priebus, who helped persuade Trump to stop tweeting at the end of the campaign and now a front-runner for White House chief of staff, agreed demonstrators have a right to protest.
PRIEBUS: I understand the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, but this election's over now. And we have a president-elect who has done everything he can do over the last 48 hours to say, let's bring people together.
ACOSTA: CNN has learned Priebus and former campaign chairman Steven Bannon are the leading candidates for the powerful chief of staff position, with a source telling CNN that signs are pointing to Priebus. And key staffing positions may be coming soon, though House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, who is under consideration for treasury secretary, says he's still waiting to talk to Trump officials.
REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: I'm very excited about Donald Trump's economic agenda for America, fundamental tax reform, getting rid of bank bailouts, getting rid of Dodd-Frank, having better competitive trade deals.
ACOSTA: Now, there are some familiar names mentioned on the Trump transition team's executive committee, including his children, Ivanka Trump, Don Trump Jr., and Eric Trump.
The team's new executive director, Rick Dearborn, replaces Rich Bagger, who is also tied to Chris Christie, Wolf. So even though there are sources close to Chris Christie saying this wasn't about elbowing him out of the way, sure seems that way.
BLITZER: Good point. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, reporting for us.
Let's get a Democratic take on the breaking news.
We're joined now by Congressman Adam Smith. He's the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, Donald Trump gave an interview today to "The Wall Street Journal" where he really sounded like he had changed, at least his tone from the campaign. He's opened to amending Obamacare, instead of necessarily -- instead of repealing it. Didn't mention building a wall.
Do you anticipate that a Trump administration will put forth a conservative policies? Do you think that we might see a more moderate President Trump emerge than candidate Trump?
SMITH: It's impossible to say.
It sort of lurches back and forth from one moment to the other. But I must say that I agree most with Senator Reid. If there's any healing in this country, it's going have to start with Donald Trump walking back a lot of what he said during the campaign.
Look, he ran one of the most bitter, divisive, and negative campaigns we have seen. He made inflammatory comments about women, countless ethnic groups, a whole bunch of individuals. It was just a very, very nasty effort. A lot of it was tweeted. A lot of it was said.
If he wants to unite the country, he is going to have to walk back from that and give some indication that he's going to be inclusive of the entire country, including the groups that he insulted during the campaign.
BLITZER: Because President Obama yesterday at the Oval Office meeting said it was a very positive meeting. Hillary Clinton, in her concession speech, she said this is an opportunity for a new development, a new change in Donald Trump's plan.
Do you think that the House Democrats, and you're one of the leaders, will be able to work with Trump and his administration?
SMITH: I don't know. It depends a great deal on what he does.
We already heard from Speaker Ryan that they're planning on doing a reconciliation bill as their first order of business that would completely get rid of Obamacare, which, by the way, would take 20 million people's health insurance away instantaneously. They want to do massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. So there is always an opportunity, when you have a new president and a new Congress. But I enter this one with a great deal of skepticism, hoping that I will be proven wrong, that Donald Trump and the Republicans will indeed work together with Democrats and work together with the rest of the country.
There wasn't much indication of that on the campaign. A couple comments in the last couple of days have been OK, but still count me as a skeptic on whether or not President Trump is going to reach out in any sort of broad-based way.
BLITZER: Well, he seems to be doing so in that interview that just came out in "The Wall Street Journal." Let's see what happens.
The Clinton campaign put out a statement today saying their campaign couldn't get past FBI Director James Comey's decision to notify Congress that the FBI was sort of reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server. That was ultimately during the final 11 days of the campaign the main reason why Hillary Clinton didn't win.
Is it really fair to blame this on the FBI director?
SMITH: Well, as with any campaign, particularly a presidential campaign, when you're talking about hundreds of millions of votes, there are a lot of factors that go into it.
I certainly don't think that helped. It shifted the focus back over to Secretary Clinton and away from a lot of the inflammatory things that Donald Trump said. Now, keep in mind, this was a razor-thin election.
In the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, it was very, very close. And if Donald Trump had lost those states, he would have lost the election. So, virtually anything that shifted the election slightly one way or the other could be deemed as decisive.
Now, there were other factors. But I don't think, you know, announcing that there was a reopening of the case what, a week, 10 days before the election helped. But there were many other factors.
BLITZER: Because Hillary Clinton lost blue states, as you point out, like Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, states the Democrats haven't lost in presidential contests in a very, very long time. Did her campaign misinterpret her support in that so-called blue firewall?
SMITH: Well, I don't know about that.
I think they were trying to make sure that they had a presence. They were certainly running ads in all of those states. They were certainly active. I know she did a rally in Michigan.
And one of the things that had gone, I think, underreported... BLITZER: She didn't go to -- Congressman, she didn't go to Wisconsin once since -- after the convention. All those months, she never set foot in Wisconsin.
SMITH: Look, I'm not going to second-guess the Clinton campaign. I don't think that's helpful at this point.
Going forward, I think one thing that would be helpful is to look at some of these states that had these very aggressive voter I.D. laws and that also purged people from the rolls. There were a lot of people who were turned away at the polls who showed up expecting to be able to vote in states like Wisconsin who didn't have the proper I.D. and weren't allowed to vote.
I think that too was a big factor in this election. And I think denying people the right to vote is about as anti-American as I can imagine. And I hope there will be a serious look at that and we will do something to change those laws, so that people do in fact get the right to exercise their vote.
BLITZER: Who do you think should be the next chairman or chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee?
SMITH: I know there's a number of candidates being mentioned.
I will say I think Howard Dean did a fantastic job when he was DNC chair. And I was a huge John Kerry supporter in 2004. So, I was no fan of his presidential campaign in 2004. But what did when he was DNC chair is, he took what he called a 50-state strategy.
And whoever the next DNC chair is, I think that has to be the approach. We have to develop a message for the entire country. We have to recruit candidates all across the country, build an organization that looks at this in its totality. And I think Howard Dean did a good job of that when he was the DNC chair.
I also think that our DNC chair should be a full-time position. I have heard several members of Congress' names floated. I just -- being a member of Congress and being DNC chair is a lot to ask, particularly when you're the party of power. We need a full-time DNC chair who is focused on getting out our message broadly.
It's also worth noting that,as of last count, somewhere around seven million fewer people voted in 2016 than voted in 2012, which shows that our party has to do something to appeal to people and get them out to vote. We lost something in those four years.
We have got to go get it back, get community -- people of color, millennials, new voters. We have got to get them to the polls, because those seven million votes that disappeared from 2012 to 2016 would clearly have made the difference in this election.
BLITZER: Sounds like you really want the Democratic Party to do a full autopsy right now to learn some lessons, what happened this time, so they're not repeated next time.
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Smith, thank you very much for joining us.
SMITH: Thank you, Wolf. I appreciate the chance.
BLITZER: Just ahead, so who's on the short list to serve on the Trump national security team? We're getting new details on the president- elect's possible choices and the challenges he faces.
And we will get special insight from a senior Trump campaign adviser, the former Republican Congressman Jack Kingston. He's here with me. We will be right back.
BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is promising to make important decisions soon about his picks for top jobs in his incoming administration.
We're getting new information right now about the potential leaders of his national security team.
Let's bring in our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, what are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're learning that several of the leaders of his transition team, including Rudy Giuliani, General Michael Flynn, Senator Jeff Sessions, Newt Gingrich, all of them likely to take senior national security roles in a Trump administration.
They were with him throughout the campaign, but it might surprise that latecomers, even some of the never-Trumpers, aren't entirely off the list as well.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Trump adviser and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani now helping to lead Trump's transition team.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Donald has been my friend for 28 years. All of my work on behalf of him has been out of great loyalty and friendship to him. I can see already how he's going to be a great president, and I'm glad I could play a small role.
SCIUTTO: Before the election, dozens of GOP national security officials and experts declared in two separate letters that they would never work for a Trump administration. But sources tell CNN that many of those so-called never-Trumpers are coming back, even offering mea culpas.
Still, his innermost national security circle will be led by advisers who gave him early and unwavering support. GIULIANI: The next president of the United States, Donald Trump!
SCIUTTO: Giuliani possible for secretary of state, chief of staff, and telling CNN on Thursday attorney general.
GIULIANI: I certainly have the energy, and there's probably nobody that knows the Justice Department better than me.
SCIUTTO: Senator Jeff Sessions.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Donald, welcome to my hometown, Mobile, Alabama.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCIUTTO: A transition team leader and one of the first GOP senators to back Trump is also likely to land a plum job, including possibly secretary of defense.
LT. GEN. MIKE FLYNN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Donald J. Trump to be the next president of the United States.
SCIUTTO: Retired General Michael Flynn offered trip vociferous support and Hillary Clinton vociferous criticism throughout the campaign, including tweeting just one week before the election -- quote -- "You decide. NYPD blows whistle on new Hillary e-mails, money laundering, sex crimes with children, et cetera. Must read," allegations that remain unsubstantiated.
He is a possibility for senior posts, including national security adviser. His new national security postings will send the world revealing signals about his new foreign policy. Earlier this year, Trump said that he wasn't looking for people with the usual backgrounds.
TRUMP: I also look and have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect resumes.
SCIUTTO: Trump will receive his first high-level intelligence briefings, the same as the president, within days.
Today, CIA Director John Brennan expressed hope that those briefings would rein in any dramatic foreign policy changes, such as reevaluating U.S. treaties with Asian and European allies, those changes that he, as you know, Wolf, touted during the campaign. We will see.
And there's still a lot of questions about what exactly a Trump foreign policy will look like.
BLITZER: Good report. Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, reporting for us.
Let's talk a little bit more about the breaking news on the Trump transition.
Joining us now, Trump senior campaign adviser former Congressman Jack Kingston.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, you have read that new interview, the first interview he's done since becoming president-elect, with "The Wall Street Journal." He's open to amending Obamacare, instead of just simply outright repealing it, if you will, replacing it.
He said out of respect to the president, he wants to consider that. Didn't speak about building the wall, Mexico paying for it. Is there a difference now in governing, as opposed to campaigning?
KINGSTON: There is a difference, and I think a lot of it is just the tone and the words that you choose and you need to choose them carefully.
I believe that the two provisions that he's talking about do have overwhelming Republican support, the preexisting illness part, which was not unique to Obamacare. There were a lot of provisions on that. Allowing adult children who live at home who are in between jobs to stay on their parents' health care, I think that's a lot of Republican support for that, with or without Obamacare.
But I think getting back to what are you going to do, there's still 28 million people who are underinsured. How do you get them into the market at an affordable level?
BLITZER: Does he have a plan for that?
KINGSTON: There are a lot of plans.
BLITZER: I know there are a lot of plans, but does he have a specific plan?
KINGSTON: I think he's probably working with Paul Ryan, Congressman Tom Price, who has been a great champion of this for many years.
And so I think they are going to be moving in the Senate as well, Senator Barrasso. So, I believe that there's going to be of a lot of kind of combining of Trump ideas, Senate and House ideas, and they will get a good product.
BLITZER: Why did the vice president-elect all of a sudden become the head of the transition committee? Because it looks like Chris Christie has been demoted.
KINGSTON: Well, Chris Christie has been a loyal soldier. He did transfer -- I would say, unlike some of the other potential nominees, Chris Christie followed through and he supported Mr. Trump.
But I think that Mr. Trump was worried about a distraction. Mike Pence not only knows the Capitol. He knows the players in the House and the Senate. He knows how the committee system works. But he also knows all the governors. And so that really brings a unique talent to the picture.
And so I think it's not going to be a bump in the road. I think it's just going to be a change.
BLITZER: When you say distractions, Chris Christie was a distraction, if you will?
KINGSTON: I think we don't want to talk about bridges. And so I think that he wanted to make sure, look, we have got about 70 days to get a good team together. We have got to hire 4,000 people; 1,000 of them have to be approved by the Senate. We can't waste an hour.
BLITZER: Is it appropriate that his adult children are on this transition committee? Because, as you know, during the campaign, he said look, my kids are going to be running the business, they're not going to be part of the government.
But here they're helping this team select the most important government officials, and to some it looks like a potential conflict of interests.
KINGSTON: Well, I remember Chip Carter, Jimmy Carter's son, was part of his team.
And I don't know officially what kind of title they would have. Certainly, the Bush family was part of the team, and I'm not certain about the Clintons so much. But I think bringing in a family member, a trusted -- a Bobby and a John Kennedy, those are going to be very, very loyal people who a president needs to surround himself with, not just because of the loyalty, but because of the emotional support they could give the president.
BLITZER: But the difference, though, is that Donald Trump has a huge business, a billion -- tens of billions of -- a $10 billion business, as he likes to say.
These other children, they were not part of some mega-business like that. Donald Trump has said, look, we will deal with all the ironclad rules to prevent any conflict of interests. This would give appearance, though, that if these children, adult children, all very talented, all very intelligent, are involved in selecting secretary of state, secretary of defense, secretary of the treasury, potentially, it could be a conflict.
KINGSTON: Well, I think that, in terms of the business, where the firewall is, we're all going to figure out what that is.
And I know that the Trump family does not want to cross that a bit. But I think somebody like his son-in-law Jared, or somebody like Ivanka, who has been on the campaign trail with him steadily throughout, advising him on the family leave plan, for example, or Donald Trump hooking into the millennials, I think that he does want their advice and counsel. I think it's appropriate.
BLITZER: Are you ready for a new job?
KINGSTON: Well, I'm a volunteer and I was proud to be part of the campaign.
BLITZER: And you will of course be open if the president-elect of the United States calls you to do something, right?
KINGSTON: Well, I'm just a volunteer in the campaign.
BLITZER: Very diplomatic. Maybe in the State Department. You can become a diplomat.
BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
KINGSTON: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead: Donald Trump may be softening on Obamacare after his meeting with the president. Is he suddenly sounding like Hillary Clinton?
And who is to blame for Hillary Clinton's election defeat? We will take a closer look at the hand-wringing and the finger-pointing inside the Democratic Party.
Take a look at this. We're getting some live pictures in from Miami right now. Looks like some protests are developing there, anti-Donald Trump protests developing in Miami, other cities. We saw some in New York City.
We will take a look at that, much more, right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news. Donald Trump now hinting that he may be willing to keep parts of Obamacare in place after President Obama urged him to reconsider his vow to repeal the law.
[18:32:08] We're joined now by our political team. Jeff Zeleny, you've been covering Hillary Clinton for a long time.
In this interview with "The Wall Street Journal" that Donald Trump just gave, he sounded, at least a bit, like Hillary Clinton, saying Obamacare, he wants to amend it. She always said she wanted to change and improve it, if you will.
What is the behind-the-scenes development here? Because it sounds, from the Democrats' perspective, very encouraging.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, this is just one example of I think we're heading into an unpredictable situation. Big shocker with Donald Trump, right?
But look, I mean, he said on the preexisting conditions specifically, it's something that he will consider. And he said it came out of his conversation with President Obama in the Oval Office.
So I think one thing to keep in mind here, Donald Trump has -- before he ran for president as a Republican -- he was always a Manhattan liberal. So there's more of him, potentially, coming up here. But he could also, if he goes down this path, will get himself into a fight with conservatives over this. So who knows if this is just a trial balloon or whatnot? But certainly, him even leaving the door open to this probably is giving heartburn to some conservatives.
BLITZER: And he said he's doing this out of respect to the president, that 90-minute meeting he had yesterday.
Jim, also give us the behind the scenes on this decision for a change in the transition team. The vice-president-elect, Mike Pence, is now in charge. Chris Christie, not so much.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think another effort to turn down the temperature here in Washington. I think what we were hearing behind the scenes inside the transition office is that Chris Christie was running into some trouble, because he was trying to persuade Trump and other people that, "Listen, we've got to hire some 'never-Trumpers' here. There are Republicans here in Washington who want to work for this administration," and there was some infighting going on over this.
I was talking to one transition official earlier today, who was not a part of the "never-Trumper" movement, was actually supporting Donald Trump and saying, "Hey, wait a minute. Why are we hiring 'never- Trumpers'?"
And so you can see why this in-fighting would occur.
But also, the Bridgegate scandal weakened Donald -- Chris Christie's standing in Donald Trump's inner circle. And so they were really left with no choice here but to put Mike Pence in this position.
BLITZER: We just heard Congressman Jack Kingston, who's an advisor, say they didn't want any distractions; they didn't want to hear any more about bridges and that you may be right on that.
Abby, other newly-named members of this transition team, a few members of Congress, the adult children of Donald Trump, as well. What do you make of that?
ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, for the -- for starters, I mean, I think having his children on the transition team raises a lot of questions about what happens in the future. We know they are going to basically inherit control over the companies, the for-profit businesses that are part of Trump's wealth. And I think that raises a lot of questions about how they can be doing both of these jobs simultaneously.
We knew from the very beginning that these entanglements that Trump has in his businesses with foreign governments and people all over the world would pose an unprecedented problem in a presidential administration. I think having the adult children as part of the transition doesn't assuage any concerns about whether those entanglements will continue to impact the composition of the government.
[18:35:11] And also, you know, I mean, we know that Ivanka and the other children are close -- close advisers to their father. I think this signals that he's going to continue with that.
BLITZER: They're obviously all very talented, intelligent young people, as well.
Ron, there's a battle brewing to be Trump's chief of staff. Trump is said to favor his campaign CEO, Steve Bannon. Most of the inner circle thinks the Republican National Committee chair, Reince Priebus, is the best for the job. Is this another case of what some have called Trump's choosing between his head and his heart?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, it is literally impossible to think of anyone who would be more confrontational, not only to the existing Republican congressional leadership but to the plurality of over 60 million people who voted against Donald Trump than Stephen Bannon, who comes out of kind of the Breitbart, you know, experience, a website that has routinely trafficked in articles that are accused of racism, anti-Semitism and not to mention kind of scathing attacks on Republican leaders.
So I mean, the fact that Donald Trump is saying that this is, you know, making it clear this is his personal choice, I think is an important signal, even if, in the end, you would think that the pressure around him will kind of force him towards Reince Priebus or another choice. I think this is a very interesting moment about -- for Donald Trump, about whether -- and how much he is willing to concede to what will, I'm sure, be an almost unified chorus, saying don't do this.
And by the way, relevant to kind of this conversation, the parts of the Affordable Care Act that he's talking about are not, I wouldn't say, peripheral, but they are not central to the law. I mean, the centrality of the law are the subsidies and the expansion of Medicaid that has provided coverage for 20 million people. And there's no indication that he is willing to continue with that. And I think that will be the core question.
Are they going to withdraw, as your guest said before, I think it was coverage from 20 million people? And do they have anything to replace it with, if they do?
BLITZER: We just got the first excerpt of Donald Trump's first television interview that he granted to Leslie Stahl of "60 Minutes." Watch this.
LESLIE STAHL, "60 MINUTES": Let me ask you about Obamacare, which you say you're going to repeal and replace. When you replace it, are you going to make sure that people with preconditions are still covered?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Yes, because it happens to be one of the strongest assets.
STAHL: You're going to keep that?
TRUMP: Also, with the children living with their parents for an extended period, we're going to...
STAHL: You're going to keep that?
TRUMP: Very much try and keep that in. It adds cost, but it's very much something we're going to try and keep.
STAHL: And there's going to be a period, if you repeal it and before you replace it, when millions of people could lose...
TRUMP: We're going to do it simultaneously. It will be just fine. That's what I do. I do a good job. You know, I mean, I know how to do this stuff. We're going to repeal it and replace it. And we're not going to have, like, like a two-day period and we're not a two- year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we'll know, and it will be great health care for much less money.
BLITZER: All right. You heard, Jackie, the president-elect say he likes some parts of Obamacare, similarly to what he said in "The Wall Street Journal." But he still wants to go on and repeal and replace and create a much better, cheaper system.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: OK. What's that going to be? I mean, is it going to be what the House Republicans have presented? Is it going to be something else entirely? We don't know, because Donald Trump hasn't really given us any specifics over the course of this campaign. It's been a lot of rhetoric, not a lot of details. So we sort of have to wait and see.
But you imagine if he's working with someone like Paul Ryan, maybe some of the stuff that the House Republicans have put forward will be what he ultimately embraces.
BLITZER: It's a different -- it's a different tone we're hearing, at a minimum. You've got to agree.
ACOSTA: It is. And he is getting to the reality of governing. But here's the problem with the Affordable Care Act when you start to pull it apart.
If you keep the part where you say we're going to have people with preexisting conditions covered, then you run into a problem. Because if you take away the individual mandate, that is what helps pay for the system. You force people to buy health care. That revenue goes into the insurance companies, which covers the people with the preexisting conditions.
Once you pull pieces of this puzzle out, you don't have full coverage anymore. And you're going to have insurance companies screaming mad.
PHILLIP: And the health insurance industry is so fundamentally changed by the existence of the law for all of these years. Some of these changes are irreversible. The structure of the industry has changed.
So Donald Trump has to really think about what happens when you decide to repeal Obamacare? What does that actually mean? Some of these changes cannot be undone, because they've -- the entire industry has changed their -- the way that the operate in order to accommodate this law.
ZELENY: Right. And for all these reasons, I think that is probably one of the reasons at least many Republicans think that Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, will not be the first thing he tries to work on, because it is so complicated. It's hard to get a win on that. Look for infrastructure, something else to be the first item up for business.
KUCINICH: But that's an issue with spending. If you start increasing the spending, he's going to run into a problem with conservatives who have been trying to keep a lid on spending.
ZELENY: That's where Chuck Schumer and Donald Trump come together.
BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, there are areas, it's emerged over the past 48 hours or so, where a lot of Democrats think they can work, at least initially, with Donald Trump as president of the United States on this infrastructure, building new roads, bridges, highways, fixing airports, schools. That area specifically, there seems to be some bipartisan cooperation in the works.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Right, no, I think infrastructure is the most conspicuous area of the Trump agenda the Democrats may be able to work with. Although I did a panel a few weeks ago with Paul Ryan, and I asked him about Donald Trump's promise to spend twice as much as Hillary Clinton on infrastructure. It would be at least $500 billion. He said rather dryly, "That is not in the Better Way document." Hard to believe that Ryan would be very enthusiastic about it. Most of the Trump agenda, though, it's going to be full-scale war with Democrats.
BLITZER: All right. Ron, we have another excerpt from the "60 Minutes" interview. Donald Trump speaking about his phone conversation with Hillary Clinton the night she conceded and congratulated him.
STAHL: Hillary called you. Tell us about that phone call. TRUMP: So Hillary called, and it was a lovely call. And it was a
tough call for her. I mean, I can imagine. Tougher for her than it would have been for me, and for me, it would have been very -- very difficult.
She couldn't have been nicer. She just said, "Congratulations, Donald. Well done."
And I said, "I want to thank you very much. You were a great competitor." She's very strong, and very smart.
STAHL: What about Bill Clinton? Did you talk to him?
TRUMP: He did. He called the next day.
STAHL: Really, what did he say?
TRUMP: Actually he called last night.
STAHL: What did he say?
TRUMP: And he -- he couldn't have been more gracious. He said it was an amazing run, one of the most amazing he's ever seen.
STAHL: He said that?
TRUMP: He was very, very -- really, very nice.
STAHL: You know, you said that you might call President Obama for advice. Would you think of calling President Clinton for advice?
TRUMP: Well, he's a very talented guy, both of them. I mean, this is a very talented family. Certainly, I would certainly think about that.
BLITZER: It's amazing, Jeff, the words he just said there, so different than what we heard about Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, President Obama, for that matter, during the course of this campaign.
ZELENY: I guess that's what winning will do to you. It makes you a bigger person, at least in that moment there.
And I mean, that is one of the things, as we can sort of hear some protesters outside in Washington tonight on Friday, the leaders of this, all the principals, have been really, I think, living up to a good example here, the Obamas, the Clintons, the Trumps in terms of how they're acting. I think the most important thing, though, is what happens from here. So I do not expect Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton to be advisers to Donald Trump.
BLITZER: You remember, Ron Brownstein, and you remember this. I remember it, too. What was it, a decade or so ago, that Bill and Hillary Clinton were actually invited to his wedding...
BLITZER: ... when he married Melania. So they have a history, these people, as you well know.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. I mean, they kind of circulated in the same circulated in the same circles in, obviously, New York for many years. And Donald Trump, as Jeff said, you know, had expressed many kind of liberal New York views.
I mean, Ted Cruz talked about New York values. But I really think this is -- this is not what this presidency is going to be. I think -- I think what you are seeing in the protests is probably more of an accurate reflection.
I mean, we had an enormous divide in the country, and we ended up with an election that was kind of extraordinary to the degree to which the voters to each side were so negative on the other. Much more than we saw, for example, in 2008, much less in the '90s with Bill Clinton and Bob Dole or George H.W. Bush.
And I think kind of the structural imperatives of where Donald Trump is going, where he wants to take the country, is so anathema to the Democratic coalition, and I think it's going to be more -- more like what we're seeing in the street than in kind of the tone that Bill and Hillary Clinton have to set and President Obama has to set. That's where you have to do as a leader in the society. I just don't think that is going to be the way it plays out on very many issues.
BLITZER: Meanwhile, tonight, there are new attempts to cast blame for Hillary Clinton's stunning loss to Donald Trump, as the Democratic Party tries to take a closer look at an uncertain future.
Jeff, you've been taking a closer look at all this. What are you finding out?
ZELENY: I have been, Wolf. I mean, the Clinton campaign has been circling the wagons today, trying to get people on board. But other Democrats have been pointing fingers at one another. The simplest way to explain this is that she simply did not turn out her own Democratic base. Now, one aide I talked to today said some of the head winds of our own making. Some, however, were not.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, there is one question above all inside a decimated Democratic party.
[18:45:02] Who's to blame? There may be more than enough to go around for one of the biggest defeats in political memory. In calls with donors and supporters, CNN has learned Clinton campaign chair John Podesta says FBI Director James Comey reviving the e-mail controversy cost Hillary Clinton the election, by turning away some of her wavering supporters.
Some allies agree. REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: I was in Clinton headquarters just a
few days before the election. And we were looking at data that was very favorable. The Comey announcement had kind of turned that data in a different direction.
ZELENY: Yet others believe the blame begins with Clinton and her campaign.
Jane Sanders at her husband's side during the long democratic primary fight with Clinton, not mincing words today with Wolf.
JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: People are hungry for new direction. I think that's why Trump has won this election. They want change.
ZELENY: As a new political order falls over Washington, Democrats are looking back before they can look forward. Two central questions -- why did college educated voters turn away from Clinton at the end? And why did working class voters even Democrats long friendly to the Clintons, go another way?
REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: In the end, they were scared. They cared about their job. They're tired of the status quo. And they voted to shake it up and to have someone who understood that they were scared and was going to care about them.
ZELENY: CNN has learned there was also considerable second guessing about not paying closer attention to Bill Clinton's advice, to spend more time focusing on disaffected white working class voters, who were the life blood of his campaigns.
Now for the first time in a generation, the Democratic Party is moving forward without a Clinton in the mix. Today, an early scramble to lead the Democratic National Committee. Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley among the early names eyeing bids.
Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Chuck Schumer throwing their support behind Ellison, a Muslim and leading liberal, who could be the face of the opposition to Donald Trump. It was Ellison more than a year ago who suggested on a Sunday talk show President Trump was a possibility.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Anybody from the Democratic side of the fence who thinks that -- who is terrified of the possibility of President Trump, better vote, better get active, better get involved, because this man has got some momentum and we better be ready.
ZELENY: So as the future of Democratic Party is taking shape here in Washington, Hillary Clinton will be taking her leave. But she will be making one more appearance, I'm told tonight, at a staff party in Brooklyn. She will be attending that to thank all of her many staffers for all their hard work.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting.
All right. Jeff, thanks very much.
Let's get a little bit more on the future of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's loss. We're joined now Democratic Congressman John Garamendi.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
All right, congressman, you heard Jeff Zeleny's report. The Clinton campaign is saying that their campaign couldn't simply -- couldn't get past James Comey's decision to notify Congress, the FBI was reviewing their investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server. And that ultimately was the reason why she didn't win. Is it really fair to blame Comey on this?
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely, it's fair. It was a reality and it happened 11 days before the election, and it was a terrible, terrible blow. I know here in California, which is strongly in support of Hillary, there was dismay and there was a lot of fallout as a result of that.
It's not the only reason, of course. There are many other things. Most of which you talked about a few moments ago. But when you put all of those together and you come up 11 days before the election and the entire thing is upset by an FBI director's statement, you just cannot ignore the reality that it had a very significant impact on it.
But there's another thing out there that I think we really have to pay attention to, and that is that the children are listening. There's incredibly horrible things happening in our schools across the country right now, that we had better pay attention to, and specifically Mr. Trump has to walk back all of his racist statements, all of his statements about women, because the children are in the classroom, they are trumpeting Trump's statements and it is horrible.
BLITZER: Well, you just heard some excerpts, I assume you heard the excerpts from the new "60 Minutes" interview which he said very, very nice things about Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, saying he wants to bring the country together. Similar things he said in this "Wall Street Journal" interview today.
Also shifting his tone on Obamacare, saying he's open to amending it instead of necessarily repealing it. He likes some aspects of it, and he is saying this because of his respect, he said, for President Obama. And he said that 90-minute meeting they had in the Oval Office behind me right here was really, really important.
So, he's saying a lot of positive things from your perspective, right?
[18:50:02] GARAMENDI: No, he's not. He's not yet dealing with the fact that there was almost 15 months of bullying going on in the Republican primary. The children were listening. Back before the conventions, it is being played out in kindergartens here in California and across the nation. And then as soon as this election was over, the day after the
election, kids were in the classroom in Trump marches with their signs and many cases saying now we can be racist. Come on now. This is really serious stuff across this nation.
BLITZER: Tell me, Congressman. What do you want the president elect to do?
GARAMENDI: I want him to stand before the television cameras as soon as he possibly can and say, we're all American, wherever we've come from, whether we've come from Mexico or from the Middle East, we are all Americans. This country is made up of men and women of every color, every ethnicity, every religion. And we're going to be together here. There is no place in this nation for racism, bigotry or misogyny against women. That's what he has to tell the nation, he has to make it clear, because the children are listening.
BLITZER: His victory speech though the other night in New York, at the New York -- at that hotel where he was delivering it, in New York Hilton Hotel, it was 3:00 a.m. here on the East Coast. It was midnight out where you are in California. He did say he wants to be the president of all Americans. He did say he wants to bring the country together.
Was that not enough?
GARAMENDI: That is clearly not enough. He's got to be very, very specific. In the classrooms here in California, the Mexican -- those of Mexican heritage are being told by their classmates you got to two home now. There is going to be a wall. You got to go home.
A classroom teacher of Hispanic heritage. Her family in America for generations was told by one student, I don't have to listen to you anymore because you are going to have to go home. That kind of thing has to be addressed and it is not just the Hispanics, certainly the Muslims, certainly people of color.
People of other religions, they are fearful. They fear for their lives. They fear for their children. And the president of the United States has to reach out.
Now, George W. Bush did this at 9/11. He very clearly reached out to the Muslim community in this nation and said this is something where we will stand together.
Now, Trump has do that, otherwise we're heading down an extraordinarily dangerous path. And once again, the children listened very, very carefully over the last year. They listened to all he said about women. They listened to what he said about disabled people. They were watching. They were listening and now they are acting out.
And this has to be put to rest immediately. Otherwise, it is going to be a fire that will burn this country for a long, long time.
BLITZER: How will House Democrats work with this new administration to bring the country together?
GARAMENDI: Well, we will work very closely with everything that deals with the fundamental problems of the jobs in the United States, the income discrepancy that exists between the wealthy, the working men and women. We believe in making it in America.
Trump wants to bring jobs back to America. Let's make sure American taxpayer dollars are spent on American made equipment. If you want an infrastructure program, build that in. That will build jobs.
We must renew the manufacturing sector. We know the trade deals are going to have to be negotiated and when they are, they must be fair to the American workers.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman Garamendi, thanks so much for joining us.
GARAMENDI: You bet.
BLITZER: Just ahead more breaking news. A shake up in Trump's transition team. New hints of compromise from the president-elect.
We'll be right back.
[18:58:35] BLITZER: Tonight, a divided nation is honoring the service men and women who defend our democracy. It's President Obama's final Veterans Day as commander chief and he's urging Americans to heal election wounds by paying tribute to those who have worn the uniform. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BAND PLAYING "TAPS")
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Veterans Day, we honor those who honored our country with its highest form of service.
We owe you our thanks. We owe your our respect. We owe you our freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And on behalf of all of our viewers, thanks to our military veterans.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.