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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Eric Trump: "Likely" Some Nominees Will Be Named Today; Trump: "Very Organized Process" Underway; Senate Dems Elect Schumer As Minority Leader; Clinton To Make First Public Appearance Since Conceding; Lessons Learned From Dems Election Stunner. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired November 16, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- president-elect announced today his picks for more key administration positions? According to his son, Eric, it's likely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eric, what are you expecting for today? What do you guys have planned?
ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Good day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good day? Are you guys planning on naming any more positions today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Likely? Anyone in particular?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He said likely. I heard him say likely.
BOLDUAN: As it reverberated off the marble walls. This comes amid reports of infighting within Trump's transition team. Trump took to Twitter overnight to push back on those reports, posting this, "Very organized process taking place as I decide on cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are."
BERMAN: And yet, yet, at least five transition officials have been pushed out. Multiple sources tell CNN that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is orchestrating what is described as a purge of anyone with ties to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie was really the first to get the boot as head of Trump's transition team.
I want to go right now to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, who is outside Trump Tower, watching the comings and goings. Sunlen, what's the latest from inside that building?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONENT: A lot of comings and goings and right now we know that Trump transition officials, John, are really pushing back about what's happening inside Trump Tower, disputing the notion at all that there's any turmoil among their staff. A Trump transition official describing it as calm behind the
scenes and certainly it was notable that President-elect Donald Trump himself jumping into the fray on this, really defending what's going on and really taking issue most notably with news accounts that he was pursuing potentially looking into getting secret clearance for some of his adult kids.
Trump tweeting earlier this morning, quote, "I'm not trying to get top level security clearance for my children. This was a typically false news story." That story did stem, according to one transition official, from a lower level transition staffer with ties to the Department of Defense who really seemed to speak out of term and was making this ask without proper authority to do so.
We know since CNN has confirmed that this transition staffer has been let go. Here at Trump Tower, it really has been a hub of activity as we have seen most days, we have seen a lot of comings and goings.
Eric Trump, Don Jr., Bill de Blasio, the New York mayor, in meeting with Donald Trump now and also notably, Steve Mnuchin (ph), who is under active consideration for the next potential treasury secretary. He has been here a lot these days and he spoke to the press a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you guys working on today? What's on the agenda?
STEVE MNUCHIN, CHAIRMAN, DUNE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: You know, I think I mentioned yesterday talked about taxes. I think the other important focus is regulatory changes, looking at the creation of new infrastructure investment. So there's a lot of things to do. I'd say, you know, the economic priorities are clearly taxes, regulatory, trade and infrastructure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you involved with any staff --
MNUCHIN: I'm really focused on the policies right now. Thank you, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: Mnuchin there clearly not wanting to engage at all about what his future in a Trump administration could be. But John and Kate, we do know according to sources that he's on the very, very short list for treasury secretary. Back to you.
BOLDUAN: Yes, key in success in life. Don't get ahead of the boss in terms of announcements. Rule number one for Steve Mnuchin. Great to see you, Sunlen. Thank you so much.
So joining us now to discuss, CNN's Phil Mattingly, Jackie Kucinich is also here, a CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief from "The Daily Beast," Abby Philip, national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and Norman Eisen, former ethics czar for the Obama administration and former ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Great to have all of you here. Phil, you have been working the phones night and day. What are you hearing from within Trump Tower right now, where things stand?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You kind of have to look at this as if there's two camps. What's going on inside Trump Tower, what Donald Trump is tweeting about, what you are hearing from his innermost circle is not necessarily wrong. They believe that this is a process that's happening at least in their eyes in orderly fashion.
But that's different inside Donald Trump's offices right now than what's going on in the outside. There's a transition team with dozens of staffers right now and we have all seen over the course of the last two, three, four days that is anything but calm, anything but orderly.
I think the problem right now in the issue right now that they are having is trying to merge those two camps together. A key point I'm reminded of pretty regularly when I talk to folks, Donald Trump did not pay attention to this process during the campaign.
He made it very clear he didn't want to start looking at these things until he was actually elected. That means he's late to the game here. Mike Pence taking over the transition, also fairly late to the process.
So what they are doing right now is looking at what the transition team did before they started paying attention. Some of the things they don't like, they dispatched with those ideas and those people, now they are trying to get their heads around the current state of play.
[11:05:11]That has made for a lot of chaos on the outside. On the inside, though, what I'm told is don't expect despite what Eric Trump said, any cabinet official nominations or picks to come out today.
Maybe some White House staff but again, they are taking their time with this. The reason why, guys, is because they got a very late start. No matter what the transition team will tell you.
BERMAN: They are sort of learning as they go along. One insider told me this morning they think they have a handle on it right now and have turned a corner and moving forward, we shall see.
Ambassador, I want your take on the Jared Kushner situation right now because CNN is reporting despite what Donald Trump is tweeting about no family members being -- trying to get security clearance, CNN is reporting is that Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, might get said clearance. What issues does or should that raise?
NORMAN EISEN, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ETHIC CZAR: Well, the extreme irregularity of the entire process is troubling and the Kushner examples one of the most concerning. To the extent that Mr. Kushner is being considered as some press reports have suggested for an informal, unpaid advisory role and that's why he needs the security clearance. That is against the law.
On the one hand, there's the anti-nepotism law. You can't use, you can't hire your relatives including your son-in-law, if you are a President Trump. On the other hand --
BOLDUAN: Norm, just this point of comparison, the nepotism law would apply to a son-in-law?
EISEN: It does expressly apply to a son-in-law. That's 5 U.S. Code 3110. On the other hand, if you try to get away from that by saying, well, I'm going to accept his voluntary advisory services, you can't do that either. That's a violation of a long-standing body of law called the anti-deficiency act.
And accepting personal volunteer services by the president is actually a crime that's punishable by fine or imprisonment. So I don't want to get ahead of ourselves at this point. It is rumors, but if they are contemplating security clearance for that arrangement, it raises some very troubling legal problems.
BOLDUAN: It's interesting, I'm just thinking out loud, Norm, because you are presenting this right now, but informal advice, I feel like presidents take informal advice all the time. How I all of that illegal? How is this illegal?
EISEN: Well, certainly there is no rule on sitting around the dinner table with your family members and talking about issues the way every family around America does. But it's completely unprecedented to get a top secret security clearance and share the most sensitive secrets of our nation and the world with your son-in-law in an advisory position.
Particularly when there are also reports, these partially confirmed by the Trump campaign, that Mr. Kushner's wife, Ivanka, is going to be managing Mr. Trump's business interests. It kind of turns the CIA into a management consulting firm for the Trump family.
It's never been done, this level of clearance and seriousness, really he's an adviser. If they want Mr. Kushner to be an adviser, they can't hire him because of the anti-nepotism law. So this is a much more serious matter than trading insights about the news while you walk the dog.
BERMAN: So Jackie, this is just one of the issues that has come up over the last several days and in fact, we have been in several days now of this story every day, Trump transition in turmoil, "Game of Thrones" Dana Bash said yesterday. So how do they turn the corner? When will you know, Jackie, that this transition team has turned the corner?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's hard to say. It is kind of amazing that it has just been a week since the election. It feels like it's been a lot longer at this point. But I think once they get these cabinet secretaries in place and you actually get -- because it goes far beyond the cabinet secretaries, of course. There are people down the line that need to be hired and they
are in this kind of weird position where old hands, people who actually know how to make these organizations run don't want to be involved, have been pushed out.
[11:10:07]And that's another layer of issues. You know, some Trump supporters may say that's good because these are the people that were the problem, but they also have the tools and they know how government works. That's not going to change overnight.
You have a lot of people on that transition team and in Trump's inner circle who don't know how to do this. It's the first time they have been doing it and they need that advice. So until they are able to take it, it's going to be hard to right the ship.
BOLDUAN: Abby, "New York Times" reporting that foreign leaders, this is one of the things Donald Trump is pushing back on, the "New York Times" is reporting that foreign leaders are having a hard time even getting in touch or making contact with the president-elect. Trump has taken to Twitter to deny that. What are you hearing? Do you get the sense this is growing pains or that this is something more?
ABBY PHILLIP, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": There is a certain level of disorder that's sort of permeating this entire process. It isn't just that foreign leaders are having a hard time getting ahold of Donald Trump. It's also that Donald Trump is making entrees to foreign leaders in an order that would alarm diplomats.
I think that would come as no surprise to folks who have been covering this campaign up until this point because Trump hasn't always paid very close attention to long-standing alliances and diplomatic relationships that exist.
To Jackie's point about folks wanting or deciding whether they want to stay in government or come into government, the perception of disorder is incredibly detrimental to the Trump transition process.
They are making no attempts to really ease people's fears. There's this constant parade of candidates coming in and out of Trump Tower, basically in broad daylight in public, and these rumors that are flying here, there and everywhere are having an effect on people's willingness to want to come into a government that seems so uncertain.
And so the Trump campaign, the Trump transition process right now is doing this in a way that really is far out of the standard for the kind of secrecy and sort of process that other transitions have put in place.
Because rumors are not very helpful when you are trying to get career civil servants to stay in government and also folks to want to come in and serve for the next four years.
BERMAN: It's 11:12 a.m. right now. Let's see where we are in a few hours if this continue throughout the day. All of you thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it. OK, President Obama, how do you feel about democracy now? The
president with some choice words for the process. Here's a preview. It's messy, he says.
BOLDUAN: Plus, Hillary Clinton is making her first public appearance today since her concession speech. A key member of the Clinton campaign is joining us. We will hear from someone inside Team Clinton since the loss.
There's a new top Democrat in the Senate. He's very familiar with Donald Trump. What the election of New York Senator Chuck Schumer as the top Democrat in the Senate, the new minority leader, means for the presidential transition and the administration ahead.
BERMAN: President Obama talks democracy in the birthplace of democracy. The headline, it's messy. This was part of his speech from Athens just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Democracy, like all human institutions is imperfect. It can be slow. It can be frustrating. It can be hard. It can be messy and in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural society like the United States democracy can be especially complicated. Believe me, I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So that's in Athens. Back in Washington just a short time ago, Senate Democrats elected Chuck Schumer, the longtime senator from New York as the minority leader to replace Harry Reid as he is retiring.
CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us now from Washington, from the capitol, with more of the details. Jeff, Chuck Schumer elected and took to the microphone to take questions. What did we hear?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He did indeed, Kate. You can really call Chuck Schumer now the last Democrat standing against Donald Trump. This is going to be a fascinating dynamic and relationship to watch play out next year.
These two towering figures from New York going against one another. But Senator Schumer said today he didn't mince words, he said we cannot ignore the fact of the election. We can't look over that.
He said the party needs to figure out what went wrong. He said he's simply not going to oppose Donald Trump simply because they are Trump ideas. But more importantly, he had a message for Democrats. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We needed a much sharper, bolder, stronger economic message and we needed to let the American people understand what we all believe, that the system's not working for them and we are going to change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So he said we are going to change it. Those are the opening words of the next election, maybe a change election, too. He wants to get on that side of it. But I was struck by how he had such a different tone than Harry Reid yesterday, the outgoing Democratic leader.
He said, look, I am going to work with President-elect Trump on things that work for the American people, like infrastructure, tax reform, perhaps. He said I'm not going to oppose things simply because he's Donald Trump.
But adding Bernie Sanders to the ranks of Democratic leadership, which also happened today tells you everything you need to know about this messy Democratic Party here. Now Chuck Schumer needs to corral it all -- John and Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Jeff, great to see you. Thank you.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton will be making her first public appearance since losing the election. She will be receiving an honor at an event for the Children's Defense Fund, which she worked for back in the 1970s.
BERMAN: Joining us now is Karen Finney. She was a senior spokeswoman for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Karen, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.
KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Great to be with you guys.
BERMAN: So it's been a week since the election and I'm sure it hasn't been easy. But now that you have had some time to digest it, what happened?
[11:20:07]FINNEY: Well, I think the answer to that question is complicated. I think you heard a lot -- some of it last week from Jennifer Palmieri and from Secretary Clinton herself and John Podesta. I think there were a number of factors.
I do think it's wise for us to take a step back and recognize that it's going to take a little time to fully understand what happened but I will offer a couple of thoughts.
Number one, I think one of the things we saw, there were a number of head winds that just proved to be too strong. Electing the first woman president was always going to be tough.
I think given the level of sexism and misogyny that we saw come to the surface and be very public, I think that supports the fact that in this country we are going to have to have a real conversation about that.
This was also the first election that we had without the protections of the Voting Rights Act. I think there's a lot of good work going on now to try to understand what kind of implications that may have had.
I also think that one of the things we have to take a look at is what happened with the third party votes, because in a number of cases, Hillary lost some key states by very close margins in places where perhaps that third party vote could have made up the difference.
So I think there are any number of factors. I also happen to believe, having been on the road, the Comey letter did have an impact on our momentum. It was palpable frankly in some of the places that I visited.
I was traveling as you know pretty consistently since the convention with Tim Kaine and so had a real sense of what was happening on the ground. Again, I think there are a confluence of a whole host of things that there's not one simple answer to what happened here.
BOLDUAN: On the Comey letters, Karen, it has been in the reporting and kind of the conversations coming out of donor phone calls with Hillary Clinton and other members of Team Clinton, it's been described, the Comey letters, as one hurdle too many for the campaign to overcome. Without the Comey letters, would you guys have won? Are you sure of that?
FINNEY: You know, you can never be sure of anything in hindsight. But what I would say, it certainly felt that way. Again, having been on the road, you know, we were seeing increasing sizes of crowds, increasingly people were more emotional on some of these rope lines, which is something that you tend to see frankly when you are getting towards the end.
And people, you know, the momentum is there with you because people, you know, they believe you might be the person who is holding in their hand the future of their family. And so the energy and enthusiasm but also just the intensity that we were seeing, and then it did feel a bit different and there did seem to be a bit of a difference.
Like I say, I can only speak to what was happening on the ground and what I saw and felt and then saw in the numbers. I think it certainly played a role and was an important factor.
In addition, though, you know, to the fact that here we were talking about things like the Clinton Foundation for months and months and months and months when what do we know about the foundation, the Clintons don't get any money from it.
They actually do real charitable work, versus the Trump Foundation which, you know, used its money to buy portraits of Donald Trump. I raise that to say -- hold on -- I do think the media plays a role in the coverage of this campaign, is another piece that will have to be examined in its aftermath.
BERMAN: At the very beginning, you said you thought that sexism and misogyny may have played a role in Hillary Clinton's defeat. I think there's no question that a lot of things were said in this campaign that many people deemed as sexist and misogynist, but what evidence do you have that voters made their decisions based on sexism or misogyny?
FINNEY: Well, look, I think a couple of things, right. Number one, I think one of the things we never really had a conversation about but again, I think going forward we should talk about, is how this country, how people feel about women in power.
There is a reason that it is so hard for women, that we haven't had a female president before and that it's harder for women candidates in executive positions. There are a lot of dynamics around that.
So I guess, I would say I would offer that as some evidence. I think there's a lot of good research on that. I certainly think that there was the narrative about Hillary and the sort of very ugly signs that I can't actually repeat the words that were said about Hillary.
And the sort of sentiment and the chants I think contributed to a narrative about her as someone who is untrustworthy, even in places where that just wasn't true, there just wasn't evidence to bear that fact out.
[11:25:00]And I will be really honest, and some of my colleagues won't like this, but I think even in the primary, some of what we saw with the Bernie bros had a real chilling effect on a lot of women, young women in particular.
We learned about during the primary there were a number of these secret Facebook groups of young progressive women who were supporting Hillary but frankly, they didn't want to deal with the backlash online from some of the Bernie bros. So again, I think, you know, there's a lot of pieces to sort of tease out in this conversation.
BOLDUAN: A couple things. I mean, on the foundation bit, there's nothing to argue on it, but we did cover very extensively the Trump campaign didn't like how much that we talked about the Trump Foundation. That was extensively covered. I just want to point that out. I know that you know that. But when it comes to Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton, did you guys underestimate Donald Trump, do you think?
FINNEY: You know, I think that's hard to say. Again, one of the other pieces that we are going to have to learn about what happened here is did everybody underestimate what was going on in the electorate. Again, think the fact it was so close suggests that we didn't
see a significant massive realignment, but I think it shows that we are a closely divided country, that's something we knew, and we are a country that is undergoing a tremendous moment of turmoil and change. So I think --
BOLDUAN: But Karen, I think the question is what we haven't heard in o conversation is where do you see that the Clinton campaign got it wrong?
FINNEY: Well, again, I think there are any number of places where we may have made a decision that didn't turn out the way we wanted it to but again, I think there were a lot of factors contributing to that.
Could we have done more, spent more or done more around the African-American vote and Latino vote? Potentially, although if you take a look at the numbers, Hillary was pretty close on target in a lot of key places on those numbers.
BERMAN: Last question. In terms of numbers, Hillary Clinton is going to win the popular vote right now. She's ahead by about a million and may end up being two million by the time it's all said and done. Do you think it's time to take a look at the Electoral College system?
FINNEY: I do, but I think here's what's more important about this. I think what's important about this is to say that is an incredible achievement both for Hillary, for the people who supported her and that should send a message to Donald Trump and the Republicans that they do not have a mandate.
And certainly Republicans in Congress who were just talking about Chuck Schumer kind of being the last stand, I think that's so true, but I also think Republicans in Congress are going to have to make a choice, as will Donald Trump and his administration.
Are the Republicans in Congress who said Never Trump, now who are getting on board, are they the party of Trump or are they for this country? I think there's just as much at stake for the Republican Party in the popular vote results as there is for Democrats.
I think there's a lot of positives about what's happening in the popular vote for Democrats. And frankly for Hillary, who deserves a tremendous amount of credit for her hard work.
BOLDUAN: Can I get a one word answer? Is Hillary Clinton done with politics?
FINNEY: I doubt it. Put it that way. I mean, I think she is someone who still has so much to contribute to this country.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Karen. Great to see you. Thanks for coming on. A lot more to discuss. Thank you.
Coming up, including this, an uncertain future. That may be what Nancy Pelosi is looking at right now as the Democratic Party is still reeling from Election Day losses. One top Democratic congressman says his party got a shellacking and it's time to recalibrate. What does that recalibration look like?
BERMAN: Plus, is there a conflict of interest, why Rudy Giuliani's business ties and millions of dollars he made, why it may come back to haunt him. Stay with us.