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Team Trump: "Infighting" Reports Overblown; Jared Kushner: Man in the Middle; Trump Grabs Dinner Minus Reporters; Obama: "Anger and Fear" in American People. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired November 16, 2016 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[04:00:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Confusion inside Trump's transition team. The president-elect, he denies there's any trouble. But one man who just got bounced is talking to CNN.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The man in the middle. Trump's son-in- law Jared Kushner said to be rubbing some team members the wrong way.
BERMAN: And then this, as the president-elect ditches the press. An aide says he's in for the night. That turns out to be flat-out false. We'll explain why that should matter to you in a little bit.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.
ROMANS: Nice to see you all this morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, November 16th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.
And new this morning, the Trump's transition team is pushing back hard against reports that it's sharply divided and the Donald Trump's son in law and close adviser Jared Kushner is right in the final of this reported infighting. Sources close to the transition tell CNN there is a battle between Republican -- establishment Republicans and not traditional conservatives.
But a high ranking Trump argues the reports of infighting, they are overblown. This insider is telling CNN that some lobbyists were fired but that there is no purge under way. Trump himself tweeted last night, "Very organized process taking place as I decide on cabinet and many other positions." He added, "I am the only one who knows who the finalists are."
One transition official who was asked, former congressman and CNN commentator, Mike Rogers, let go after months advising the transition on national security.
CNN's Joe Jones has the latest on that.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Mike Rogers, the former House Intelligence Committee chairman, is now out. He was seen as reassuring figure to many Republicans, especially on issues of national security and was thought on the short list for CIA director. He's gone. Of course, he was hired by Chris Christie, who, as well, was demoted.
So, the question is why? What's going on with the transition?
The story they certainly want to put out is this is all about a blending of the campaign staff that traveled around the country with Donald Trump and the transition staff that was put in place to figure out what was going to happen in the event he won. But there is also a question, as to whether all of this is part of a purge, in the continuing fight, the back-fighting, between the establishment figures who work with Donald Trump and the nontraditional figures, the insiders and the outsiders. Of course, they say no, it is not a purge.
BERMAN: All right. So, Mike Rogers says there is some confusion about the chain of command at Trump Tower here in New York where the Vice President-elect Mike Pence, he has now the chair of the transition team.
Now, Mike Rogers, he's the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in his presence on the transition was seen as reassuring to some establishment Republicans. But Rogers, by the way, has done some work with CNN, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that it was, quote, "absolutely the campaign's prerogative to let him go."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE ROGERS, FORMER MEMBER OF TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: They wanted to go in a different direction. It was easy for me to hand it off to Mike Pence in his capable hands coming in. So, I think that was kind of a combination. I think there is some confusion going on about a chain of command coming out of New York. Hopefully, they'll get that settled pretty soon. I think they need to do it because as the clock ticks, all of these decisions become more important. And you have to make them sooner with a little more authority and forward thinking to make sure they don't bump into anything in the future. I think they're going to get there. I'm an optimist about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: All right. New signs this morning that Donald Trump's learning curve. The president-elect violating protocol last night when after an aide told reporters Trump was in for the night, he showed up at a New York City restaurant two hours later without notifying a team of reporters on standby.
It is longstanding procedure for the president-elect to travel with a poll of reporters. Trump's spokesperson says she was not aware of the restaurant plan. She says efforts were underway to set up a pool, sort of dismissing the second time that she sort of back and say, well, hold on, we're going to get the protocol under way, it's just not there yet.
BERMAN: Well, look, there's no evidence that the Trump team has this under control or, frankly, cares about it, other than they were. They did this when they went to Washington, and they did it last night.
And this does matter. Look, you need to be near the president-elect and the president, "A," in case something happens to said person, "B", in case there's a major world event. What happens if there's a major world event and you need a reaction from the president or president- elect right then there?
ROMANS: I mean, this is what happens when you're elected as president, you live in a bubble -- a bubble that is accompanied by a van full of reporters, and that is standard operating procedure.
BERMAN: Right. And the better part is it's not there to harass the person. It's there to be representatives of the American people. Again, to be close to the leader of this country in case something happens.
[04:05:02] All right. On top of that, there is new word this morning about the effort to at least get some members of President-elect Trump's family top security clearance. CNN has learned that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner could end up with that clearance. Kushner is expected to play a key role in the White House as an adviser to his father-in-law. A source tells CNN the clearance for Kushner is likely but it has not happened yet.
ROMANS: Critics are taking aim this morning at Rudy Giuliani, claiming extensive worldwide legal work by the front-runner for secretary of state poses potentially serious conflicts of interest. His former law firm, Bracewell and Giuliani, and another company, Giuliani Security, have done work for governments across Latin American and the Middle East. Senator Rand Paul calls the former New York mayor's ties to foreign governments worrisome.
BERMAN: If you want to walk down memory lane, Google the debates that Ron Paul, Rand Paul's father, was in 2008 with Rudy Giuliani when they were both running for president. You can see a family history there.
All right. One name crossed off the cabinet list, Dr. Ben Carson. He says he does not want to be the nation's next secretary of Health and Human Services. He says he doesn't think he has the experience or wherewithal, or really the desire to oversee a giant government agency. An aide says Carson will continue to advise from outside the White House. The Trump transition did not response to request for comment.
ROMANS: All right. Guess who stopped by Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday for a private meeting with the president-elect? Ted Cruz. Trump and the Texas senator were fierce rivals, of course, during their primary battle. It's not clear who initiated this visit or what was discussed. A Cruz spokeswoman said the Texas senator, quote, "looks forward to assisting the Trump administration." That's fueling speculation Cruz might have a role in Trump's White House.
BERMAN: And the conservative Twittersphere abuzzed with the possibility that maybe that Supreme Court they can see. And Cruz who knows a little thing pertaining about the law. New backlash this morning to Donald Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist. The outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid led a scathing Democratic assault on Bannon's selection. Reid argued that Bannon's former job as chair of Breitbart News links him to white nationalist and anti-Semitic views. Reid called on Trump to rescind the White House job offer.
Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has the latest.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, as President Obama and Hillary Clinton say that people should wait and take a wait and see attitude towards Donald Trump, there is one leading Democrat who is doing no such thing. That is Harry Reid, the outgoing Senate Democratic leader who took to the floor of the Senate and made a blistering statement against Donald Trump again last night. He talked about the fact he did not win the popular vote and he called on him to reject the hiring of Steve Bannon. He also gave him this admonition.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: We have a responsibility to prevent Trump's bullying, aggressive behavior from becoming normalized in the eyes of America, especially the millions of young people who are watching and wondering.
ZELENY: Now, Senator Reid will never have to work with President Trump. He will be leaving the capitol after a long service there just as President Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. That is specifically why he's reaching out, why he is talking so aggressively.
And it's music to many Democrats' ears. So many Democrats I talked to in Capitol Hill are stunned that President Obama and Hillary Clinton have said that people should keep an open mind about Donald Trump. They like what Harry Reid is doing, and many of them, as this Democratic Party rebuilds, plan to do the same thing -- John and Christine.
BERMAN: All right. Jeff, thanks so much.
Three luxury high-rise apartment buildings in Manhattan getting rid of the Trump name. The three structures that make up Trump Place feature 1,300 upscale apartments renting from anywhere from $2,600 a month to $12,000 for a penthouse. After the election, a group of residents started a petition to drop the Trump name and the owner agreed. The former Trump Place buildings are now known simply by their addresses as 140, 160, and 180 Riverside Boulevard.
Again, you know, Donald Trump has a range of directorship and ownerships and everything else. There are some things names that his name was on or licensed. There are other things he owns. I think this was just a licensing agreement. ROMANS: All right. President-elect Donald Trump will reshaping
America's trade policy on day one on his administration, that's according to a memo drafted by his transition and obtained by CNN.
Now, this document lays out five trade goals be accomplished in the first 200 days. First, renegotiate or withdrawing from NAFTA. And then stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, which is all but dead actually anyway. Third, banning unfair imports and then ending unfair trade practices. And finally, pursuing bilateral trade deals.
Another big focus of the memo: retain and return manufacturing jobs. Trump's administration thinks it can achieve this by lowering the business tax rate, eliminating certain regulations and lifting restrictions on domestic energy. Now, the memo itself says things could change. These are points for discussion purposes only. And there's a lot of great reporting on NAFTA, and what it would take to kill it right now, on CNN Money.
[04:10:00] But this shows you that that redrawing the trade map is really part and parcel of what Donald Trump wants to do in a very beginning here. And it's so interesting, the IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sent this letter yesterday to Donald Trump, basically saying let's make new collar jobs. Let's not think about bringing the old jobs back. Let's work together to make new jobs. There are millions of job openings in America right now.
BERMAN: Not white collar, not blue collar, new collar.
ROMANS: Let's put people together.
BERMAN: All right. House Democrats, they were supposed to hold her leadership election this week, but that vote has been delayed. So, does this signal trouble for Nancy Pelosi? Closer look coming up.
BERMAN: Republicans in House of Representatives leaving no doubt who they want as their legislative leader. Paul Ryan received unanimous support for another term as House speaker. Now, Ryan, who kept Donald Trump at arm's length or further for much of the campaign now says he cannot wait to get to work with the president-elect. The speaker says the nation is in the dawn of a new Republican government.
[04:15:02] Let's get the latest from CNN's Manu Raju.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.
House Republicans choosing Paul Ryan to be the next House speaker in overwhelming fashion, actually voting with voice vote, with dissention publicly voiced in the room, a sign that Paul Ryan is in a much, much secure position, in large part because of Donald Trump, a man he did not actually want to be the Republican nominee suddenly has helped Paul Ryan become speaker once again. Now, it's not final yet, I should add. There's going to be a vote on
the House floor to formalize Paul Ryan's selection to be reelected as speaker. But essentially, he will be. Yesterday's vote significant in the fact that Republicans are putting up their nominee to be speaker. They have chosen Paul Ryan who is aligning himself very closely with Donald Trump.
This is such a significant shift from just a month ago when it looked like conservatives were looking for a scalp, and that scalp being Paul Ryan, in no small part because of the way he had dealt with Donald trp. He did not support, did not say he would defend the campaign with Donald Trump and he criticized Donald Trump at key moments of the campaign season.
But in recent weeks, Paul Ryan has aligned himself with Trump, has said that they could work together and now is enthusiastically embracing the Trump agenda. So, the party really trying to showcase some unity heading into the first and the opening day of a Trump administration, which is one reason why even people who don't like Paul Ryan, in the conservative side, like in the House Freedom Caucus, they're not willing to put up a challenge for the speaker because they know overwhelmingly they would lose and the party wants to show some unity heading into the opening days of the Trump administration -- John and Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Manu Raju, thank you for that.
House Democrats meanwhile have decided to delay their leadership elections until after Thanksgiving. It's a sign longtime leader Nancy Pelosi, she could be in trouble. No normal challenger to Pelosi has emerged so far. But one Democratic House member and a Pelosi supporter says they just need time to recalibrate and decide how to move forward.
BERMAN: Sources say that Dave Urban who ran the winning Trump political operation in Pennsylvania is being considered as the next Republican National Committee chair. Urban is a long time Republican operative and prominent lobbyist. He said to have the trust of Trump, his children and senior staff. Urban will replace Reince Priebus and was tapped by Trump to be chief of staff.
The win in Pennsylvania for Trump was among the more impressive by Urban largely credited with helping to pull that off. So, that was a big, big deal.
ROMANS: California Senator Barbara Boxer, a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, has introduced a bill that would abolish the Electoral College. It is in response to Clinton winning the popular vote, but losing the election to Donald Trump. Clinton has nearly 950,000 more votes nationally than the president-elect. A final vote count is still pending.
And in California, for example, there are those that think that spread will widen for her. BERMAN: It will spread. I mean, it could get up to as high as 2
million votes at the end of the day.
Hillary Clinton, she is about to make her first public appearance since the presidential election. She will be honored tonight by the Children's Defense Fund in Washington. Clinton worked for the group in the 1970s, later joining its board, the head of it. The group calls the secretary of state a tireless voice for children. Clinton is expected to give remarks at the end of the event.
ROMANS: All right. President Obama is trying to calm global anxieties about a Donald Trump White House. He is Greece, speaking out about the rhetoric that put his successor over the top. A live report from Athens, next.
[04:23:07] ROMANS: No matter how far he travels, President Obama cannot escape the long shadow being cast by Donald Trump. The president gets to play first tourist this morning at the acropolis before departing Greece for Germany, and he's letting the global community know he's concerned about a, quote, "troubling strain" of rhetoric that launched Trump into the White House.
I want to go live to Athens and bring in CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski.
He's really kind on this soothing jangled nerves tour for America's friends and allies, at the same time, trying to explain the rise of Donald Trump, really remarkable, some of his rhetoric.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it wasn't based on what he probably wanted to say at the moment. But the questions that he got, and the questions that he knew he was going to get. The first time we heard from President Obama after the election, he came out into the briefing room with his upbeat tone. And, you know, somewhat optimistically and hopefully talked about how America really needs to move forward. And give Donald Trump space. Let him make his decisions.
But yesterday, here in Athens, at this press conference where he's getting these tough questions from American reporters, and even from at least one of the Greek reporters, that really what he thought happened, did he see this coming? Did he know that there was so much anger and frustration in America? It was a time for him to get a little more introspective about what he thought.
Now, he wasn't going to talk about the Democratic candidate and what might have gone wrong there, he was go to talk about the other side, what he saw troubling as he described the rhetoric. Listen to part of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've seen some of the rhetoric among Republican elected officials and activists and media. [04:25:06] Some of it pretty troubling and not necessarily connected
to facts, but being used effectively to mobilize people. And, obviously, President-elect Trump tapped into that particular strain, within the Republican Party. And then was able to broaden that enough and get enough votes to win the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: Now, this was not him being particularly optimistic. I mean, he was kind of talking about the dark side of these populist movements on both the right and the left. And he talked about letting that sentiment that led the election we had dividing America and calls that dangerous -- John and Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Michelle Kosinski in Athens, thank you so much for that.
BERMAN: All right. The Trump campaign, it denies reports of turmoil in the transition team. Donald Trump even taking to Twitter overnight to say everything is going just fine. But there are reports of fierce infighting with his son-in-law right in the middle of it. Don't go anywhere.