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Trump To Meet With Mitt Romney; Reports Sen. Sessions Offered Attorney General Post; NC Governor's Race Still Undecided. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired November 18, 2016 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER ROMNEY PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR: I think there are questions also regarding differences, potentially, on trade. Although I do remind people that in 2012, Gov. Romney was pretty forward-leaning in talking about our need to be more aggressive in our trading relationship with China.

But John, here's what I come back to at the end of the day. I do think that there is some similarity in a focus on American interest that both Gov. Romney and, I think, Donald Trump expressed on the campaign trail. So if you look at the atmospheric -- the macro level -- there may actually be more there than meets the eye in terms of commonality between things that Donald Trump has expressed and Gov. Romney has expressed.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Mary Katharine, do you think that there is any way that Donald Trump offers Mitt Romney secretary of state, which we hear Mitt Romney has an interest in?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: I -- it feels unlikely and off brand, but it's 2016. And here's the thing about understanding this transition, I think, in context. It's like anyone who thought it was going to be a normal transition, you're out of your mind. It's going to be chaotic, it's going to be about New York grudge matches and relationships, and we're going to have to interpret it as we go.

Look, I think there's a possibility that he's just meeting with a bunch of his former rivals to mess with us and put up trial balloons. There's a possibility he wants to keep his enemies close and might actually give them those jobs. Or there's a possibility that Donald Trump, being the dealmaker, floats a bunch of people who sound a little bit more outside the box and then gives you a Romney and everybody goes oh, that sounds nice.

When would people have said that -- you know, people on the other side have said that Romney sounded like a great option a couple of years ago? They wouldn't have, they thought he was a monster. Well, this is how you make a deal, perhaps. I don't know.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: And you have -- no, on Twitter, I mean, you know, Donald Trump known to be something of a showman right now but the optics here do matter. I mean, meeting with these people --

HAM: Yes. BERMAN: -- of all strife and of all opinions, it's what a president- elect should do.

HAM: It looks -- it's like a mature, professional relationship that they are looking for and I think there's the capacity to do that.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER MITT ROMNEY SENIOR ADVISER: Yes, and a lot of this -- John, if I may -- a lot of this is signaling. There are a lot of positive professionals that look at what seems like a lot of chaos in the transitionand it may keep them from serving. At the same time, what the transition needs to get rid of the chaos is really good positive professionals to step up and be willing to serve.

When they see somebody like Mitt Romney, who is seen as a critic and a rival of President-elect Trump, be able to sit down, that does give people a little bit more license to consider doing the same. And that, I think, will ultimately help the transition and that may be one of the -- part of why this is -- this is happening.

CAMEROTA: Lanhee, there is more breaking news in terms of appointments. CBS is reporting -- CNN has not yet been able to confirm this but they are reporting that Jeff Sessions, a senator, has been offered the attorney general position. What do you think of that? And what does this mean for Rudy Giuliani, all of this talk of secretary of state and attorney general and where he would be?

CHEN: Well, this is a period of time when we're bound to hear a lot of rumors. There's a lot of -- you know, people have referred to sort of chaos in the transition. I do think that there is a natural element of sorting out that's happening.

But the appointment of Jeff Sessions, if that is in fact what has happened, does reaffirm this notion that Donald Trump is putting people in place around him who he's comfortable with. Who, ultimately, were supportive and loyal during his campaign but share his vision on policy and certainly with respect to immigration. No one has been more forceful about talking about the need for border security over the years than Jeff Sessions. So in many ways this appointment, if true, would make perfect sense.

BERMAN: You know, Mary Katharine, you look at Jeff Sessions. I don't think that would be a surprise given how close the two men were and how much work Jeff Sessions did, nor was Gen. Flynn a surprise, nor Reince Priebus. Steve Bannon, maybe a little bit of a surprise. But right now you've got four potential people being named, all white men. At what point do you think that becomes an issue and diversity becomes a concern for this incoming administration?

HAM: I think there -- I think there may be areas where he surprises us, like with a Peter Thiel, who is an openly gay -- would be an openly gay appointment and who spoke at the RNC. So I think there are ways that Donald Trump -- I mean, he's a New Yorker. Like, he has experience with diverse people. And again, it's 2016.

I think the Sessions pick is definitely more on brand but all of these people that you're hearing could definitely have spots -- or we'll see on the Sessions thing -- almost definitely have spots -- are people who were loyal to him throughout the campaign. And I think throughout his career that's more of what you see than the critics coming in and giving him honest feedback. I would hope for some of the Romney style criticism as well in his team, but we will see.

CAMEROTA: Kevin, are you hopeful for a more diverse team than what we've seen so far?

MADDEN: I don't think that they just put as much a premium on diversity and worrying about some of the gender balance. They didn't do as much of that during the campaign and, you know, they weren't exactly punished for that. So I expect that they're going to -- I think Mary Katharine is exactly right. I think the premium they put on when they're looking at -- when they're looking at appointments is on who is loyal to Donald Trump and does it fit sort of with the world view and some of the agenda that he's laid out that he got elected on. I think that's much more of a -- of an -- of a priority for them right now.

[07:35:06] CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. Great to get --

HAM: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- all of your perspective.

MADDEN: Great to be with you.

CAMEROTA: More than a week after the election still no word on who won the governor's race in North Carolina, and now a bitter battle is emerging. We have a live report on this ahead.


BERMAN: More than a week after the election still no winner declared in North Carolina's governor's race. An ugly battle now brewing between the incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Democratic challenger Ray Cooper.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live in Raleigh, North Carolina with the latest -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, breaking news overnight in the State House behind me. The question of who's going to become North Carolina's next governor got a lot more complicated. Republicans have now filed complaints of protest not against a dozen counties, but we're now talking about 50 counties. That is half of the counties in this state.

The current Republican governor, he says he has known instances of people casting ballots. Those ballots cast by dead people, he says, felons, and people who voted twice. Democrats say that he is just getting desperate.



MALVEAUX: North Carolina delivered Donald Trump an easy victory over Hillary Clinton on election night but left its Republican governor, Pat McCrory, in limbo.

[07:40:05] GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We're going to fight for every vote.

MALVEAUX: His Democratic opponent, state attorney general Roy Cooper, eked out nearly 5,000 more votes than McCrory, just one-tenth of one percent ahead. The race was declared too close to call but the Democratic, Cooper, announced himself as the winner.

ROY COOPER (D), NC ATTORNEY GENERAL: Because of your hard work we have won this race for governor of North Carolina.

MALVEAUX: Republican officials accuse Democrats of engaging in voter fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have people who voted and registered on the same day and have not gone through the verification process.

MALVEAUX: Democrats says Republicans purged legitimate voters from the rolls and suppressed voter turnout just days before the election. The NAACP accused three counties of illegal voter purges targeting African-Americans and a federal judge agreed, ordering to restore names to voter rolls.

McCrory supporters expected his race to be an easy victory. After all, in 2012, he won by double digits. And this time around Trump easily carried the so-called battleground state by nearly 180,000 votes.

MCCRORY: Thank you all very much.

MALVEAUX: But many, including his supporters, blame his potential defeat on HB2, a highly controversial bathroom bill which he supported --

PROTESTERS: Hey, hey, ho, ho, HB2 has got to go.

MALVEAUX: -- requiring transgendered individuals to use the public bathroom which corresponds to their gender at birth.

RANDY HOLTS, OWNER, COOPER'S BBQ: HB2 did bring him down.

GRACE WILLIAMSON, MARKETING CONSULTANT: HB2, I think, really had a negative impact on our state.

MALVEAUX: Forbes estimates the state has lost more than $600 million in business after a swift backlash from corporations and entertainers. Recently the state lost hosting the NCAA Championships, an NBA All- Star game, and concerts by Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, and Nick Jonas.

MCCRORY: This is my priority at this point in time. MALVEAUX: Thursday, as Gov. McCrory tried to go about the business of governing addressing the state's raging wildfires, state Democratic officials accused him of sabotage, saying "Unfortunately as Cooper's lead grows stronger, the McCrory campaign is getting increasingly desperate at attempting to undermine the results of the election" -- an election that has to be resolved before January 1st.


BERMAN: All right, Suzanne, so what happens next there?

MALVEAUX: Well, John, in the last 10 days they're counting the provisional and those absentee ballots. All of the results for all 100 counties are due today. This could be delayed because of a couple of things. First of all, you talk about all of those challenges to 50 counties in the process in which they cast the ballots. If that's not resolved today it's going to be pushed back.

And if you did have that tally and it was less than 10,000 votes between the two candidates, the loser could call for a recountwhich would start this process all over again.So it is very likely that we are not going to find out the results of this race until probably well after Thanksgiving, John, so stayed tuned.

CAMEROTA: That will be a nice vacation for you to stay down there in North Carolina, Suzanne, and bring us all the news.


BERMAN: It's lovely this time of year.


MALVEAUX: I want Thanksgiving with my family.

CAMEROTA: All right, we understand.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, we'll be back.

CAMEROTA: Good. All right, thank you very much for all of that, Suzanne.

Listen to this story. A police officer spots a teenager walking in the early hours of the morning, but it's what happens next that's the real story.

BERMAN: But first, on this Sunday's "PARTS UNKNOWN" at 9:00 p.m., Anthony Bourdain travels to the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. He shares why the summer season is the best time to head there.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN": Here in Buenos Aires it's summer in the city and in a decision that will please absolutely no one down here we are filming in the dead heat of summer when nobody's in town and it's kind of sad, mournful, empty. A totally awesome quality that, of course, I really like.

(Music playing)

This is when you should come here, in my view.



[07:48:40] BERMAN: What started as a chance encounter beside a California freeway turns into a lifeline for one determined student. CNN's Dan Simon introduces us to an officer who truly went beyond the call of duty.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Working the graveyard shift can be lonely for a cop but on a chilly September night Benicia Police Cpl. Kirk Keffer would have some company.

CORPORAL KIRK KEFFER, BENICIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: He had a hoodie on. He was dressed all in black.

JOURDAN DUNCAN, MANUFACTURING EMPLOYEE: I had seen some lights like flash at my back.

SIMON: Eighteen-year-old Jourdan Duncan had just finished his own graveyard shift packing boxes at a nearby business.

Did you think that this person was up to no good?

KEFFER: Since he was so close to the freeway I thought he was broke down.

SIMON: Jourdan explained that he was just walking home but it was the distance of that walk that left the officer speechless.

KEFFER: And he tells me the exact path he takes through our city and it's literally uphill both ways. So I said, you know, if you don't mind hold a second. I went over to my front seat, cleared it out, and said -- asked him if I can give him a ride home. He was like, you can do that? I said yeah, I can do that.

SIMON: So it took you two hours each way to get to work?

DUNCAN: Yes. My car had broke down and so I figured I had no other way to work.

SIMON: Jourdan says he didn't want to burden others by asking for a ride so he walked seven miles each way, six days a week.

[07:50:00] KEFFER: Most people use that distance and not having a car as an excuse not to find a job, but this kid just -- it didn't -- it wasn't an obstacle.

SIMON: On the ride home Jourdan shared his dream to go to college and to become a police officer. Corporal Keffer was so struck by the chance encounter he knew he had to do something to make Jourdan's life a little easier. Getting the car fixed was going to be too expensive but Corporal Keffer had an idea. If four wheels wasn't an option, how about two? So for $500 the Benicia Police Department bought Jourdan a brand new bike.

KEFFER: He was speechless and he kind of said just, you know, all this for walking. I'm like, but it's so much more than that. You're not putting obstacles in front of you. You're getting your job done and, I mean, that's impressive.

DUNCAN: Words couldn't explain how flabbergasted I was.

KEFFER: Did you stay in the car?

SIMON: But that was just the beginning. Keffer and his colleagues have launched a fund to help pay for Jourdan's college and maybe a new car as well. In the meantime, the bike will do just fine.

DUNCAN: I just treasure the bike. It's never been dirty before.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Benicia, California.


CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump offering the post of national security adviser to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Critics have accused Flynn of stoking Islamophobia with tweets like this one. "Fear of Muslims is rational. Please forward this to others. The truth fears no questions."

Our next guest, a Muslim and new U.S. citizen, says that attitude is not helpful, especially in the fight against terror. Dr. Qanta Ahmed is the author of "In the Land of Invisible Women" and she joins us now. Doctor, great to see you here. So fear of Muslims is rational, let's start there. What do you think about that?

DR. QANTA AHMED, AUTHOR, "IN THE LAND OF INVISIBLE WOMEN": Honestly, it's rubbish. It's absolutely not helpful. Are we now, as Americans -- are our military leaders going to fear one-quarter of humanity? That makes no sense. We're going to be afraid of 1.7 billion people? What is -- I wouldn't even consider it fear. What we do need to be concerned about is Islamism and that's what I'm hoping Trump's administration would be able to focus on.

CAMEROTA: You have always drawn a deep distinction between Islam and Islamism, which is the more radical strain of it. Let me play for you something that Gen. Flynn said because he doesn't seem to be drawing that distinction. So let me play for you what he said at a conference this summer.


LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this idea -- this notion of it being a religion. I don't see a lot of people screaming Jesus Christ with hatchets or machetes or rifles shooting up clubs or hatcheting -- you know, literally axing families on a train. And so it's like cancer and it's like a -- it's like a malignant cancer though in this case. It has metastasized.


CAMEROTA: What's your response?

AHMED: The first precept that he makes is completely false. Islamism is a political ideology, Islam is a faith. And we need -- nobody needs to know that more clearly than our military leaders and that's a very important distinction. By not making the distinction we actually shelter Islamism. Remember, that's the totalitarian ideology that does seek to dismantle world order which masquerades as Islam as countless Muslim majority countries will tell you.

CAMEROTA: So he's melding the two and I know that you fear that for a military leader and certainly the national security adviser because there are so many Muslims in our armed services.

AHMED: That's one. So many Muslim men are in our armed services. The second is don't forget we have American special forces now in Iraq alongside Muslim armies from Iraq and Iran, in fact, combating ISIS. Now how do they digest this? It's absolutely not useful but it is a golden nugget if you are an Islamist. If you are proposing and if you are supporting radical and violent Islamism or radical institutional Islamism this is a gift from God. And that's the kind of opportunity.

I'm not here to berate the new administration. My job as a citizen is to try and serve them to the best of my ability. Muslims like me can explain the distinction and the values of making that distinction.

CAMEROTA: How will you enlighten President-elect Trump and now his national security adviser about what they should be saying?

AHMED: What I would like to see is for President Trump-elect -- President-elect Trump to succeed where President Obama failed to separate the religion of Islam from the political ideology. To engage with America's Muslims -- 3.3 million of us. The whole world is looking to see how America treats the Muslims within her borders and that is something he could start off by. He's very good at rallies, he's very good at engaging the public.

[07:55:02] Think of the forum where Muhammad Ali had a funeral. The kind of diverse American community that came together. Multi- religious but also diversity within Islam. That's only possible in the United States.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: So you would like to see President-elect Trump have one of those rallies in front of a Muslim audience and talk directly to them?

AHMED: I think -- you know where would be a great place? Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States where -- let's give him a chance. Let's engage with him, let's hear. He's our president, not just president for everyone in the nation except Americans who are Muslim or Muslim migrants here.

The other thing is I'd like him to bring intellect to the table that are real scholars in Islamism. I'd like him to empower intellectual exchange in universities of political Islamism with Muslim scholars not funded by patrons of Islamism like Iran, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia. Those are the kinds of things he could do.

CAMEROTA: President-elect Trump had talked about a ban on Muslims. That would have banned you from coming to this country, practicing medicine, becoming a U.S. citizen and, yet, you're still open to working with him. I mean, what did the ban mean to you?

AHMED: The ban was astonishing in many regards but I feel he may not have been adequately informed. How do we ban Muslims that make their homes here from 68 different nations, all 183 nationalities that are homes to Muslims? How do we do that? And to me, I feel American's made such an incredible investment in my education, which I took to Muslim countries and shared with Muslim patients and physicians.

CAMEROTA: You went to Saudi Arabia to work after you were educated here, then you came back --

AHMED: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: -- and are now working here.

AHMED: But when you work in the Muslim world you represent America and they were just so delighted to see a highly-trained woman help their family member get sick (sic). That's a great asset. We haven't really engaged, post-9/11, America's soft power. We've kind of forgotten that we have tremendous soft power, intellectual exchange, academic exchange, building in intelligentsia.

We're not going to be able to defeat Islamism with registries and isolationism, borders, and camps. That's not going to do it. What that will do is ghettoize Muslims in America and we know what happens because we can look to Europe.

CAMEROTA: If President-elect Trump calls, you are prepared to talk to him about all of this?

AHMED: It would be my honor to share my knowledge.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Qanta Ahmed, always great to see you. Thanks so much for being here. We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.


GOV. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are working briskly in the transition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn does have the confidence of Donald Trump.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I would be worried about an impulsive president with an impulsive national security adviser.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I know that Mr. Trump is very excited to meet with Gov. Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were the best person for that job then he wants you as part of his team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again.

NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: House Democrats must be unified, strategic, and unwavering.

BERMAN: Heart-pounding video out of Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt like something came and just pushed me forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just a miracle. All of our lives contained in a second.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: And we'll talk to that little hero -- that little baby saver coming up in the program. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, November 18th, 8:00 in the East. Chris is off this morning. John Berman is happy to be here --

BERMAN: Thrilled.

CAMEROTA: -- on a Friday. All right, we have breaking news for you. This, in the transition of power. An official close to the Trump transition team tells CNN that President-elect Trump has selected Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

BERMAN: Jeff Sessions, a key loyalist to Donald Trump. Someone who was very close to Donald Trump all through the campaign. And this comes hours after the president-elect offered the post of national security adviser to someone else who was very loyal and close to him during the campaign, retired Gen. Michael Flynn.

CNN has the transition covered from every angle this morning starting with Sunlen Serfaty live outside Trump Tower in Manhattan -- Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Yes, a lot of moves being made this morning by the Trump transition team. My colleague Phil Mattingly confirming that Donald Trump has indeed settled on Alabama's Jeff Sessions -- Sen. Jeff Sessions -- to be his pick for attorney general.

Now, as you said, Sessions has really been by his side nearly from the start of his campaign. He notably -- at a time when many on Capitol Hill did not support Donald Trump, he was the very first senator to endorse Donald Trump and really stuck by his side serving not only as a chief surrogate on the campaign but a real close adviser. Many times Donald Trump sought counsel from him, most notably when he was moving to pick Mike Pence for vice president.

Also, a big meeting scheduled this weekend Donald Trump as he moves to potentially consider other names for other top cabinet positions. He is meeting with his former rival Mitt Romney, someone who was very adamantly opposed to Donald Trump during the campaign.