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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Who Will Run EPA?; Trump Transition; State Department: No Contact By Anyone On the Trump Team; Trump Speaks to Multiple Foreign Leaders with Pentagon Briefing. Aired 4:30-4:45p ET

Aired November 16, 2016 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:34:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

As the world tries to figure out just what comes next, one of the clearest policy differences between the current president and his successor, president-elect Trump, has to do with combating climate change.

President-elect Trump has made no bones about his belief, contrary to the vast majority of scientists, that manmade climate change is not a legitimate phenomenon and now he is tapping one of the nation's leading climate change deniers to head the transition for the Environmental Protection Agency, someone who may not want the agency to exist at all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to cancel billions and billions of dollars in payments to the United Nations' climate change programs and use the money to fix America's environmental infrastructure.

TAPPER (voice-over): Suffice it to say Donald Trump is not a big believer in manmade climate change, contrary to the views and data of the vast majority of scientists.

TRUMP: Our plan will end the EPA, which is a -- hey, look, it's all wonderful, but it's a disaster.

[16:35:02]

TAPPER: That's why the former EPA administrators under Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush hammered Trump during the election for pledging to yank the U.S. from the Paris accords, an international agreement to fight climate change, a move they said -- quote -- "would set the world back decades."

MYRON EBELL, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT: My name is Myron Ebell.

TAPPER: Leading the Trump transition on environmental matters is an avid climate change denier, a man who was once funded by the tobacco industry to fight those seeking to further regulate cigarettes. Myron Ebell is the director for the Center for Energy and Environment, part of a libertarian think tank that -- quote -- "questions global warming alarmism," partly funded by some of the same industries such as coal that are being hurt by the regulations of the fossil fuel industry.

Ebell has long fight against environmental regulations, arguing they're an extension of government power. As he told PBS in 2012, he rejects the reams of data and evidence suggesting that manmade climate change is real.

EBELL: We believe that the so-called global warming consensus was not based on science, but was a political consensus.

TAPPER: That's rejecting evidence accepted by most scientists as well as a growing number of Republicans, including former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis.

BOB INGLIS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It's really quite comical, really, to have one of the merchants of doubt as the head of EPA. That really would be a continuing joke on America.

TAPPER: As founder of environmental group republicEn, Inglis says there must be a way everyone can move together, a balanced way.

INGLIS: This is for real. And it's happening to us now. We want to take care of the problem. It may be, just may be that somebody like Donald Trump could show that there is a free enterprise answer to climate change. But he won't show it if he's got Myron Ebell as the director, as the administrator of EPA, however.

TAPPER: Trump's appointee will also have the power to affect how we work with the international community to combat a changing environment that's proven deadly time and again.

Ebell tops Trump's list less than a year after protesters publicly named him a climate criminal during an annual U.N. conference in Paris.

EBELL: I'm used to that from the far left. But I did go out and get my photo taken with my poster, just so I have it as a memento.

TAPPER: When the online channel Climate Home caught up with Ebell, he made his priorities clear.

EBELL: I hope whoever is elected president in 2017, of whatever party, will undo the EPA power plant regs and some of the other regs that are very harmful to our economy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Let's bring in our panel now.

Joining us, CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich, who is Washington bureau chief of The Daily Beast, CNN political commentator Mary Katharine Ham, who is a senior writer at The Federalist. Also with me, David Ignatius, foreign affairs columnist at "The Washington Post."

And, Jackie, first of all, beyond his position, is this draining the swamp to have somebody so affiliated with these environmental -- I'm sorry -- these energy industries to be in charge of energy policy?

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, there's -- I feel like there's two parts to draining the swamp. Right?

This is draining the regulations. This is about regulations. It's not about necessarily what you just said, having maybe some interests that you shouldn't have if you are the secretary of energy.

That said, it just -- this is what Donald Trump said he was going to do. This is what -- why some people particularly in places like coal country voted for him, because he said that he would roll back these regulations. If this surprises anybody, I guess you weren't paying attention during the election.

TAPPER: Absolutely not a surprise.

Mary Katharine, you know Mr. Ebell, right?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I know -- I have worked with CEI in the past and done events with them. So...

TAPPER: So?

HAM: I am a libertarian radical on this regulation stuff, to put it nicely.

No. But I think, look, I think most Americans, their relationship with the EPA comes more from fuel standards that may make their cars less efficient and make their fuel more expensive or things like the coal regulations that make it tougher to get a job in the area. Their relationship with the EPA is not the same as a college-educated Ivy League kid who is panicky about climate change.

It's just not the same. And I think the question was always with climate change not this adherence to whether it's true or not, but the question of what the government can actually do to change any of it. I think certainly the Paris accords and things like that, most Americans are like, yes, I'm not seeing that work real well.

TAPPER: David, what do you think?

DAVID IGNATIUS, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think first putting Ebell on the transition team is a symbolic action. It is an attempt to deliver for Trump's voters.

I am reminded of how Ronald Reagan appointed James Watt as secretary of the interior 30 years ago, again, in a symbolic move. It was deeply upsetting to environmentalists back then. These regulations will be harder to undo than Trump and Ebell have implied.

[16:40:01]

And, also, there is so much momentum in the world now toward carbon reduction, sustainability. If you are a big global company trying to sell products, you want to be seen as pro-environment. You want to be seen as caring about the issue of climate change.

And, you know, regulations, one way or the other, I don't think are going to change that business reality that companies want to be seen as being involved in this.

HAM: In which case I think that's a good reason not to panic about a guy who can get probably get sort of incremental change done and streamlining done at the EPA while there is a cultural consensus that companies should be working on this.

TAPPER: Let's talk more broadly about the transition. I do not remember this much at least described chaos bend the scenes, Jackie, during the Obama transition or the Bush transition, although we should point out it was three weeks until president-elect Obama named a Cabinet official.

So, it's not as if not having named anybody a week out is symbolic of anything at all.

KUCINICH: Right. Well, right.

It just there is a lot of palace intrigue here, though, right? And also the other thing is I feel like I am at a balloon festival. There are so many trial balloons. There is a new name every day. Some make sense, some make absolutely no sense whatsoever and we vet them all.

But it does seem like we're being thrown off in some ways. And only -- you know, only a couple of people actually know who is actually being vetted, who is real. And that's hard to decipher here because no one was expecting to be covering -- let's be honest -- to be covering a Trump transition.

TAPPER: I don't think the Trump transition was expecting to be covering the Trump transition.

KUCINICH: And hence the chaos.

TAPPER: David, let me ask you, is all the intrigue right now because Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, has reportedly been purging not only former governor -- or former transition head Governor Chris Christie from the transition team, but also all these people who are fairly well-respected in Washington from -- who were affiliated with Christie?

Kushner obviously hates Christie because Christie prosecuted his father back in 2005. None of this seems to me to have anything to do with how well Donald Trump can staff up an administration. Is this good advice that he is listening to?

IGNATIUS: Well, I think there is kind of a Night of the Long Knives quality as this Trump team sorts out who is going to be on top, who is going to have the president-elect's ear. Jared Kushner is a person who has a deep political personal history

with Christie. I think there was general concern among the traditional foreign policy group in Washington when Mike Rogers, who was a key transition figure, former House Intelligence Committee chairman, a conservative Republican, but somebody who worked very hard to make his committee work, when he was removed, ousted from a key position over the weekend and others came into the center.

I think the issue really is, are they going to have qualified, experienced people directing these most sensitive activities of the U.S. government or people who are less knowledgeable, less trustworthy?

TAPPER: All right, David Ignatius, Mary Katharine Ham, Jackie Kucinich, thank you, one and all.

With friends like this. President Trump garnering praise from some brutal foreign dictators -- that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] TAPPER,: We're back with more on our "POLITICS LEAD." Since the election, there are some world leaders welcoming Donald Trump as the next U.S. President. They are Russia's Vladimir Putin, Syria's Bashar al-Assad and the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, a fairly notorious trio, all credibly accused of various human rights abuses.

Let's bring in CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto. And Jim, I don't know how much they actually care about the opinion of leaders in the U.K or France, but the Trump transition team claims that the president-elect has spoken with at least 29 world leaders, although the state department says none of them were with briefing materials that would be provided by the state department.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Contact with these foreign leaders without any preparation or help from the arm of the U.S government built specifically for relations with foreign leaders. But I'm also told that many of those powers including some very close U.S. allies have had to scramble to speak to the President-elect of the United States causing at best some diplomatic peak, at worse, real confusion.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Donald Trump's first contacts with foreign leaders are breaking long-established practices for an important early ritual for newly elected presidents. One close U.S. ally had to reach out to multiple contact before successfully arranging a phone call with President-elect Trump, a diplomatic source tells CNN. This, a full day after his victory. And the State Department, normally an intermediary for such key conversations has yet to be contacted by the Trump team.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We stand ready to support him and his team with any information that they might require, either in advance of or on the back end. SCIUTTO: Today, President-elect Trump himself touted his first

foreign contacts on Twitter, quote, "I have received and taken calls from many foreign leaders despite what the failing New York Times said. Russia, U.K., China, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and his spokesman Jason Miller told CNN that Mr. Trump has always intended to follow a different playbook.

JASON MILLER, TRUMP'S SENIOR ADVISER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: He's going to have strong relations and he's going to be able to work with other foreign leaders and show that he is able to reach out and step outside of the political norms to do different things.

SCIUTTO: Different also means uncertain for foreign leaders eager to see where Donald Trump stands on foreign policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it takes on greater urgency in this circumstance since so little is known about Mr. Trump, how he'll actually govern and even who will advise him.

SCIUTTO: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be the first world leader to meet with Trump on Thursday. And again, the transition team has not sought guidance or a briefing from the State Department in advance.

[16:50:04] TOMOHIKO TANIGUCHI, SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE CABINET OF THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: There's a genuine interest, even curiosity, for him to get to know more of who Mr. Trump is about. And I think it's going to be vice versa, Mr. Trump may be equally interested, even curious, to know who Shinzo Abe is. So, this is going to be very much a classic icebreaking opportunity for both of these people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Lots of icebreaking. Japan a country, arguably with one of the most pressing questions for Mr. Trump, and that is what is his position actually on nuclearizing Asia. You remember that he said during the campaign he might support allowing U.S. allies in Asia, including Japan, to acquire nuclear weapons. He's since, as you know, denied that position, but it is certainly a question for these powers here, because words like that from the leader of the free world, they have an effect.

TAPPER: He said it during a town hall and during an interview.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

TAPPER: Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

It almost cost him his voice. Next, the kind of problem when your voice is your calling card. Sportscaster Joe Buck joins me to talk about his super strange addiction and how it nearly put him out of a job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] JOE BUCK, FOX SPORTS LEAD PLAY-BY-PLAY BROADCASTER: Well, here's Jack Tapper digging in number 23 for the Bears. Obviously, home plate hasn't been watered down in, oh, three or four months. Baseball pants are dirty. Here's a swing and a ground ball. Right side, Jack is bustling it down the line, kick it back and a slide into first. They teach you to never do that. Jake missed that lesson, but safe with another hit for Jack Tapper.

TAPPER: Welcome back. That was the legendary sportscaster Joe Buck, calling my son Jack's little league at bat. We were going to play when he called the Cubs winning the World Series, but that was just way too expensive so we did that instead. Joe Buck is out with a new book about his life, and career, and his legendary father, it's called "Lucky Bastard." And Joe Buck joins me now. Joe, welcome to THE LEAD. Thanks for being here.

BUCK: Hey, I've done a lot of big events in my life. I've been lucky as we'll talk about to do those, but to actually call Jack Tapper with that smash that he hit and him running as fast as he thought about for a little while down the first base line and sliding? I mean, that's gold right there.

TAPPER: So, you've been there to call some of the biggest moments in sports history. The Red Sox breaking their curse, The Giants becoming the one in 18-1 against The Patriots, even though you're a Saint Louis guy, where does this Cubs' win rank for you in the pantheon of sports events?

BUCK: One. You know, I have two daughters and I love them both equally. I think one of them is my favorite, but I'm not allowed to tell either one which one I think that is. So, it's hard to really differentiate all these different World Series and thank God I've been lucky enough to sit there and call all these, but I think with the history involved for both teams and the fact that the World Series hadn't even been at Wrigley since right after World War II, and they hadn't won since before World War I, since before the Titanic sunk, yeah, it was - it was pretty special. In seven games, 10 innings in seven games, it's number one.

TAPPER: I know. It was incredible. Let's get down to selling you some books. Those of us who just finished marathon election coverage may be able to identify with this. You write that you once called a touchdown while going to the bathroom. Please explain.

BUCK: Yes. Well, I'm kind of at the mercy of the engineering and blueprint plans for these different stadiums, so, life's good when there's a bathroom close to the broadcast booth. When the bathroom is, like, you know, hook and ladder system and some sort of pulley deal and you've got to sprint and run through the press box and elbow your way through sports writers to get to the bathroom, I mean, I've got like a two-minute window to sprint there, get it done, sprint back. And, well, one time in Milwaukee, where The Packers used to play one home game a year, I couldn't hold it, I couldn't get there, I had to start in the booth while there was a time-out, and the time-out finished before I finished, and then somebody -- Sterling Sharpe scored a touchdown, and I was still going as I called the touchdown.

TAPPER: You don't even want to know what was going on here at the CNN Studio on election night.

BUCK: I can't even imagine.

TAPPER: The story getting the most buzz from the book, you nearly lost your voice, your meal ticket, because of your addiction to hair plugs. You wrote, quote "My voice didn't feel strange or fatigued. It felt thin, weird and hopeless -- kind of like Lindsay Lohan. I knew my voice wasn't coming back in a matter of hours." Tell us about that. That must have been actually really quite awful.

BUCK: Oh, yeah. And that was in like a little sneak peek that si.com put out. So, Richard Deitsch is a great writer, just took a page out of my book. And as you can see with the Lindsay Lohan reference, my book is a little bit tongue in cheek, so I would be a psycho if I was addicted to hair plug surgery. I guess I'm addicted to the result of it, but it's a barbaric, awful procedure. But when I went under, they put a cuff down my throat, it holds the breathing tube in place, and it was misplaced, and it sat in my laryngeal nerve for six hours, and when I woke up, the nerve wouldn't fire and my vocal cord was paralyzed.

And so, I couldn't talk, I mean, I sounded like I was dying every time I open my mouth. And that coincided with divorce and then, you know, big events coming up. And so, it was just a lot of pressure, and I think I told the story because, you know, somewhere out there somebody can identify, even if they're not calling World Series or Super Bowls.

TAPPER: Well, Joe Buck, thank you very much. The book is fantastic, highly recommended. Hopefully we're selling you a few right now. Hope to see you soon. Thanks for stopping by.

BUCK: All right, buddy, anytime. Thanks Jake.

TAPPER: Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JakeTapper or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. That is it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next-door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.