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Trump Drops Threat to Prosecute Hillary Clinton, Backs Off Some Campaign Promises; Jared Kushner in Trump's Inner Circle; Severe Weather to Impact Holiday Traveling. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired November 23, 2016 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call it the failing "New York Times."
[05:58:40] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's declared it's not possible for the president to have a conflict of interest.
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST/COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: He's going above and beyond what the law requires. He's going to make sure that there is a wall between his business and the way he governs.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do hope, with all the things that Donald Trump said about how crooked she was, that we just don't let it go.
TRUMP: I don't want to hurt them. They're good people.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: After you win an election, you sort of put things behind you.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Mitt Romney is seriously considering the possibility of being secretary of state.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: It would be great.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I could think of 20 other people who are more compatible with the Trump vision.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Camerota and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, November 23, 6 a.m. in the East.
Up first, President-elect Donald Trump facing real questions from the media and backing off some of his most extreme campaign promises. Trump now dropping his threat to jail Hillary Clinton and also changing his tune on waterboarding and maybe even climate change. All of this in this big interview with "The New York Times."
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Trump also addressing hot-button issues like denouncing support from the hate groups, as well as conflicts of interest. The president-elect is now in Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday, but we're told we could get more cabinet announcements as early as this morning.
So we have it all covered with you. Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray.
Good morning, Sara.
MURRAY: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, you're right. Donald Trump is showing a little bit more flexibility on some promises that were really calling cards during his presidential campaign.
And as for the support he's been getting from some white supremacists, he says he doesn't want to be the candidate who's energizing these groups.
MURRAY (voice-over): President-elect Donald Trump now suggesting he won't push for Hillary Clinton to be prosecuted over her private e- mail server or dealings within the Clinton Foundation. In an interview with "The New York Times," Trump saying, "I don't want to hurt the Clintons. I really don't. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways."
And while it may be up to Trump's Justice Department to make the final call on the matter, the tone is a sharp departure from the one he struck on the trail.
TRUMP: She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.
If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.
MURRAY: Trump also hinting he has changed his mind on waterboarding and now says he might not abandon the International Climate Accord, saying he has an open mind to it.
Trump trying to brush off repeated questions about how he'll ensure his actions as president won't benefit his businesses, saying, "In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like this." Refusing to concede that he should sell his businesses and adding, "The law is totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest." Trump reiterating that he will step back, leaving the Trump Organization for his children to run.
TRUMP: I don't know if it's a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. But is that a blind trust? I don't know.
MURRAY: But that, too, pose a problem since his daughter, Ivanka, has already been part of the meetings with foreign officials, since her father became president-elect. Trump complaining, "If it were up to some people, I would never, ever see my daughter, Ivanka, again."
And making the case for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to have a role in his administration, maybe as a special envoy to the Mideast. Trump boasting, "I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. That would be such a great achievement."
Trump also trying to distance himself from the support of neo-Nazis after this video surfaced of white supremacists cheering him on with Nazi salutes, just blocks from the White House.
RICHARD SPENCER, NATIONAL POLICY INSTITUTE: Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory.
MURRAY: Trump denouncing the group, saying, "Of course, I disavow and condemn them. It's not a group I want to energize. And if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why."
MURRAY: Now, in addition to this, Donald Trump found himself yet again defending one of his first picks to go with him to the White House, chief strategist Steve Bannon, telling "the New York Times" he would have never chosen him if he felt like this was a person who does have ties to the alt-right movement, if this is a person who is racist. Those are all critiques that have been lobbed against Bannon since he's been named.
CUOMO: Also sounds like what Trump said about Manafort before everything came out about him. "I would never have Manafort if he was really" -- and then he wound up leaving.
All right, Sara, stay with us. Let's bring in the rest of the panel. CNN political analyst and "New York Times" presidential campaign correspondent Maggie Haberman, who was in that interview, tweeting for the rest of us to get our information.
Thank you, thank you.
And CNN political commentator and political anchor of Spectrum News, Errol Louis. Good to have you all here.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi.
CUOMO: ... so you were in the room where it happened, in the room where it happened.
CUOMO: What was it like?
HABERMAN: It was very tense initially. When Trump came in, you know, he shook everyone's hands; he moved around the table. There were, I guess, about 20 people there. He sat down sort of very stiff. He had his arms folded, almost like he was waiting for either some kind of blowback or waiting to say something. And he did criticize our coverage pretty forcefully. It was not nasty in tone; it was not aggressive, but he did say he thought that "The Times" had been incredibly unfair to him, the most unfair of anyone.
I had heard him, to be clear, make that kind of accusation against "The Washington Post," as well, at various points in the campaign. And then he basically moved on, and he took a number of questions. The most surprising thing that he said was on climate change, where he appeared to at least be open to the possibility of the Paris Accords, where he said he thinks that there's, quote unquote, "conductivity between humans and a change in environment."
CAMEROTA: That's very different. He had tweeted that global warming was a hoax.
HABERMAN: And on a range of other issues, you know, I asked him about torture, which he enthusiastically advocated in the form of waterboarding during the campaign. And his exact quote in South Carolina was "Torture works."
When I asked him about waterboarding specifically, he sounded as if he was backing off a bit, essentially after a conversation with General Mattis, who he's considering very seriously. He left me with the impression that he's likely to be named for Department of Defense.
I asked him about his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and what role he will play. Trump clearly wants him involved in some way, but possibly in an outside role where it wouldn't face the nepotism laws. Trump was adamant, and this was the most striking, that a president can't have conflicts of interest. We asked him about his business entanglements, and he essentially said that's not definitionally possible, because everything essentially would have been a conflict.
[06:05:06] CUOMO: Should have been a lawyer, because that's very clever reading on the absence of law. There is no real conflict law set up for the president. So he's using that as a construction that a conflict is impossible, which is clearly not the case.
HABERMAN: Right. And that literally was his argument. So "In theory I can do these two things simultaneously." He did not use the words that we heard during the campaign, "a blind trust." As we know, a blind trust run by his children is not, in fact, a blind trust.
But he didn't even go there yesterday. He literally just said, "I'm going to, you know, have my children, primarily Ivanka, run the business." He said he was stepping back. He did not say, "And I will have nothing to do with it."
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, before we get to our other panelists. What did he say about that alt-right, white supremacist -- let's call it what it is -- conference just blocks away from the White House that is energized, because he is now president? People have been wanting him to give a very full-throated denouncement. What did he say?
HABERMAN: He did denounce it. He said that's not, you know, something that he's looking to energize; that's not support he wants. He was asked specifically about Steve Bannon, who has come under heavy criticism, primarily from Democrats for running Breitbart and, you know, comments he's alleged to have made. Trump defended Bannon very, very strongly and essentially said, "This
is a good man" and said, "If I thought he had any connection to the alt-right movement, as you said, I'd never let him in the administration."
CAMEROTA: Steve Bannon...
HABERMAN: He has said it -- correct.
CAMEROTA: He created the platform at Breitbart for the alt-right. How can there be no connection?
HABERMAN: Right. So that, I think, will be one of the many things.
CUOMO: Same thing -- same thing happened with Manafort. The alt- right stuff. I mean, the conclusion is pretty simple. Errol, he does not deny this group the way he does other things he doesn't like.
Why he doesn't remains a mystery. Go ahead.
CAMEROTA: Let's just read what he said to Maggie and everybody else at "The New York Times." I don't want to energize the group. I'm not looking to energize them. I don't want to energize the group, and I disavow the group. And the next sentence he said, it's not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.
HABERMAN: Let me just say one thing that I was struck there, too. Elizabeth B. Miller, our White House, our D.C. bureau chief, followed up and tried to ask it again. She hasn't -- she came in the room late, hadn't realized that he'd addressed it already.
But he got annoyed when he got asked about it, again. He said something like, "Boy, you're really stuck on this" or something like that. And that is the kind of reaction I would get throughout the campaign when I would approach them about, you know, David Duke praising him.
CUOMO: Because he knows it's bad for him. And that's why he wants to deny the connection, and he wants to be as subtle about this for Trump as he can be. He's just not like this about anything else he doesn't like.
HABERMAN: No. And he wants to -- he wants to excoriate people for asking about it in the first place, which is the other thing. He didn't the first time. But he did...
CUOMO: He got that talking point yesterday. One of his supporters kept saying, "Do you think he's a racist? Do you think he's a racist?" which is an obvious distraction, getting around the issue.
So Errol, how do you decipher these big changes by Trump? Is this a positive sign, because it shows it can be more open-minded, or is this a negative sign, because it shows what he says ultimately means nothing? ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's really both,
right? If you were concerned, and some people were very, very concerned, about some of these statements that he's made around climate change, around jailing his opponent and so forth, you maybe have a little reason for hope. You know, I mean, there's some reason for hope even in that statement, that, "Well, I want to find out why they're being energized by me." OK, so that's a little bit of curiosity, and that's probably not a bad thing.
On the other hand, I take it as him being Trump. Meaning these are his commercial negotiating skills. Nothing is final until the deal is done, and as we're going into sign, you know, maybe I've got a couple of clauses I want to slip in. This is how he's operated throughout his business life. This is how he operated, frankly, throughout the campaign, if you think about it. He really has sort of migrated on a number of different issues.
He says complete and total shut down of Muslim immigration. That migrates into, "Well, just from the regions where there's a terrorism problem." That, in turn, has changed into, "Well, just Syrian refugees are going to be extremely vetted and so forth."
So he puts a lot of different statements out there. Lets -- lets it wash around and then tries to see what...
CUOMO: For a guy who's not a politician, he seems to do what's worst about politicians, saying to your own advantage, Sara, "I'm going to find you. I'm going to put you in jail. I'm going to appoint a special prosecutor. You must go jail. You must go to jail."
And then, "You've suffered enough." Yes, at his hand you suffered enough.
CAMEROTA: Let me read -- let me read exactly what he said so you can respond to it. This is about Hillary Clinton and not wanting to now appoint a special prosecutor. "I don't want to hurt the Clintons."
CUOMO: Any more.
CAMEROTA: "I really don't."
HABERMAN: You're ad libbing. Here a little.
CAMEROTA: He's ad libbing. "I really don't. She went through a lot." Go ahead. "She suffered greatly in many ways, and I'm not looking to hurt them at all."
It is hard to get your mind around that after everything that was said on the campaign trail.
MURRAY: Well, the other thing he said during this interview which is so striking to me is that he said he doesn't feel very strongly about it. Well, you know, I went all over the country with Donald Trump while he called her Crooked Hillary and said he was going to lock her up. But I do think that you have to remember that the people who supported
Donald Trump and the people who voted Donald Trump into office see him differently than we do. They see him as a vessel for a lot of different feelings and a lot of different positions.
[06:10:06] And even talking to them on the campaign trail, a lot of them would say, "I don't necessarily believe Donald Trump is going to build a wall. I don't believe he's going to deport everyone who's here illegally. I don't even believe he's going to throw Hillary Clinton in jail. But I like that he sounds tough when he's talking about it. And I like that, you know, he would put out a very tough stance as a starting negotiating position."
That makes it really difficult for us to say how he's actually going to govern as president, and that means that he's sort of taken different sides on every single issue.
But for his core supporters, I don't necessarily think a lot of them will be surprised to see him begin to change.
CUOMO: They don't have any choice now, because they're with him. I'll tell you, a lot of my friends who voted for Trump wanted the walls, wanted these things, believed in it, believed there was finally going to be a check on corruption in government that they saw Hillary Clinton as the face of; and they're disappointed by this.
HABERMAN: The question that I didn't get to ask him that I did want to ask him yesterday and we just were out of time in a crowded room, was "How is what you are saying about your business as president, that a president cannot definitionally have a conflict of interest, how is that different than had Chelsea Clinton been running the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was president?"
Which he railed against. And he talked about, you know, how the e- mails from her server showed -- or the WikiLeaks documents all showed some kind of overlap. And there's no huge difference, as best as I can tell here.
CAMEROTA: We are going to talk a lot more about that and the conflicts of interest. So coming up, more of "New York Times" interview with Donald Trump and those growing concerns about his business ties and his children's business ties. Trump says the law is on his side. He says presidents cannot have a conflict of interest. What does that mean? We dig deeper.
[06:15:33] CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump sat down with "The New York Times" yesterday for a wide-ranging interview, and it made a lot of news.
So let's get back to our panel. We have Maggie Haberman, who was part of that round table interview; also Errol Louis and Sara Murray.
Let's talk about conflicts of interest, because we've never had a business mogul, as you say, become president before. So, just since winning the election, here are some of the things that have cropped up that have raised eyebrows and certainly questions about how he would handle it.
Let's pull this up. Donald Trump and his children met with Indian developers. They have businesses there. Trump and his family met with the Japanese prime minister, Abe. Trump's children are on his transition team. Ivanka Trump was on a phone call with the Argentinian president. Foreign diplomats are courted as Trump Hotel clientele.
Su substitute the word "Donald Trump" in there and put in "Hillary Clinton" and then substitute "Ivanka Trump" and put in "Chelsea Clinton." And the Republicans in Congress would be losing their minds. Why such silence about these conflicts of interest?
HABERMAN: Well, because Republicans for the first time have Congress, Senate and the White House. And, so, I mean, among other things, I think they're waiting to see what happens.
I don't think that this is sustainable for a long time. And one thing I'd point out about that list that you just showed, with the exception of the hotel story, which is an excellent "Washington Post" story, basically, every single one of those is something we learned from the foreign press. Because we are not really being told a whole lot from his transition team. We're not getting traditional readouts other than it was a good phone call. They talked about world issues.
CAMEROTA: Totally different than in the past.
HABERMAN: There is a huge drum beat on editorial pages that Trump does pay attention to, including "The Wall Street Journal," including "The New York Post." Both are owned by Rupert Murdoch. That are saying, you know, you really can't continue this way with your business.
And I think that that is going to become complicating for him if this is just a daily coverage, and it will be. It's going to swamp him.
The other thing that I would point out that happened since the election, according to "The Washington Post," his foundation was -- basically admitted self-dealing and violating the law in that respect. That's...
CUOMO: We have Dave Fahrenthold on today. He did the reporting on that.
CUOMO: And he's coming on to say what he found and didn't find on the foundation. His thing that he has working for him and against him at the same time is the lack of information. Right?
These are all privately held concerns. Trump doesn't run a public company, so there are no public filings.
So, he has put out no information. That's what the tax returns were a metaphor for. Do you think that, at some point, he's going to have to put out information or one of his kids will have to open the books, at least to a select congressional committee who will -- because they do have oversight over this. Even the Democrats, not in power, will have investigative authority. Do you think that happens at some point? That some information from the president of the United States will have to be offered?
LOUIS: If he allows it to go that far. I mean, it really is, you know, the joke is that this is a full employment bill for investigative reporters. There are so many conflicts. There are so many businesses. There's so much to look into. And every day that the transition team and the Trump Organization refuse to make any of his available, more people will find more stuff.
And it's not just the investigations and the bad press that can follow it. It's not just even the congressional investigations, but there could be lawsuits. You know, there's even a possibility, you know, because his name is plastered on so many buildings all over the world, that they become terror targets.
There are huge, important questions that surround all of this stuff. And it's not just a matter of whether or not the president-elect gets to make money for his family any more. It's really sort of a big deal and can end up hampering almost everything that he tries to do following the inauguration.
MURRAY: This is sort of an ironic blind spot for Donald Trump, because he did make the case that, regardless of whether anyone was going to press any charges against Hillary Clinton, regardless of whether she did anything that ran afoul of legal boundaries, she was crooked and it looked bad; and you shouldn't be allowed to do it; and drain the swamp.
And now he's saying, "Well, there is no rule that says that I am subject to conflict of interest laws. And so who cares how it looks, because I'm allowed to do that."
And so you can -- you can go on like that from a legal standpoint for a while, but I do think you've already seen some Republicans in the House fire off warning shots, saying, "Look, this doesn't look great." So I think you need to start taking a look at how you're going to handle this.
You asked him about Jared Kushner. One of the big open questions. His son-in-law. What will his son-in-law's position be in the White House? What did he tell you?
HABERMAN: So his -- his son-in-law is exploring the possibility of joining the White House, which his son-in-law is said to believe will be legal, based on the conference he has done. I haven't spoken to a single ethics lawyer who thinks that would be permissible under the anti-nepotism laws.
[06:20:18] CUOMO: Why? If it's a White House position, not a cabinet position, not a government position? HABERMAN: Because it still applies, the anti-nepotism law, and it's very clear whether it's son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law. It's very clear.
CAMEROTA: But isn't it also very clear that it's about collecting a paycheck? And he said, "I won't collect a paycheck."
HABERMAN: It's not very clear that that's what it's about. I know that that's what they are arguing it's about, and I know that he is looking, and I actually reported this on CNN soon after the election, that he was talking to people about whether he could be a volunteer.
I still think that it would face a huge, even possibly preemptive legal challenge. So when I asked him what role he hopes that Kushner would play he made clear, once again -- we know this -- how important Jared Kushner is to him and in all of his governing and all of his campaigning and all of his thinking. He said that -- he volunteered that he thought that Jared could be involved in attempting a Mideast peace process again. And Trump, as you know, has talked about this not Kushner, but has talked about wanting to get a peace deal done for a very, very long time. Critics say you can't do it. I think you can.
Having Kushner play a role and that is not a huge surprise. Kushner helped write his AIPAC speech earlier this year. Kushner has advised him on Israel.
But, again, it's a really interesting and unusual and public co- mingling of personal, family and the White House and policy in a way that people were concerned about wit the Clintons.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. Thanks for sharing all of your reporting with us.
CUOMO: All right. As we start to measure progress going forward after this election, we do have new poll numbers. CNN/ORC has some good news for the White House.
President Obama's approval rating is at a seven-year high as he's preparing to leave office. Fifty-seven percent of Americans approve of the outgoing president. That's as high as ratings in September 2009. How much of this is by comparison with what we just lived through in the election and that President Obama now looks better than ever.
When George W. Bush left office, he had a 24 percent approval rating. You'll remember, it was a very different moment in time as we were entering the biggest economic depression of this generation. Reagan matched Obama's numbers. Clinton actually surpassed them.
CAMEROTA: Now, take a look at the contrast between the favorability numbers for President Obama and the Democratic Party. Fifty-nine percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the president, but only 39 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party since Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race. CUOMO: Millions of Americans are doing what we love and hate to do:
getting ready to travel for the holiday. Thanksgiving is drive time. But you're going to have severe weather impacting plans, whether you're on the roads or in the skies. We have the 411 for you when we get back.
[06:26:52] CAMEROTA: The Thanksgiving getaway is on. Millions of people will be on the road and in the air to get to their holiday destinations, but severe weather could impact your travel plans.
CNN's Ryan Young is live at what is soon to be one of the busiest places on earth, Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
What are you seeing, Ryan?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Are you ready for this? That's what you have to say when you come to this airport.
You look over here, already the lines are pretty long. This has been going since about 4:30 this morning. People have been lining up. So far it looks like a lot of people packed their patience. They're smiling. They're getting through this line.
But you're talking about some 48.7 million people who are going to be traveling. This is some of the highest numbers that has happened in the last ten years of people not only hitting the road, but hitting the air.
Of course, when you come to the airport, you've got to think ahead. Pack a little extra time and pack that patience when you come out here. What we've seen so far is just a steady flow of people. Of course, there's been a lot of talk about the idea there might be a strike. That's not going to happen. That's going to happen here on Tuesday at the airport with those workers here.
But what we're seeing on the boards, all clear. All the flights are going out so far. That severe weather not having the impact just yet -- Chris.
CUOMO: We're noticing the goatee from here, Ryan. Is that a November thing, or is this the new you? What have we got going?
YOUNG: I'm not sure yet, Chris. I'm not sure. Thanks for the call out.
CUOMO: Don't cover up that handsome face. Don't cover up that handsome face. You only need that when you look like me. Have a good Thanksgiving, my friend.
YOUNG: I've got to watch out for you. Thank you, man.
CUOMO: All right. So you're going to get snow. You're going to get ice. You're going to get rain. You know, you could look at them all as reasons to be thankful. Thankful, that is, if you make it to where you're going at all in several different states.
CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has a look at that forecast. What do you see, my friend?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, really it's a Midwest thing. It's a Great Lakes thing all the way down to Houston. The corners are great. New York City all the way down to Florida and the west coast, perfect.
So, I guess this could be a lot worse. We've talked about a lot worse during Thanksgiving or Christmas travel in the past.
This weather is brought to you by Humana. And at Hunan, we think great things are ahead of you when your health is ready for them.
So what we're ready for today is a little bit of weather through Minnesota, though Chicago, all the way down to St. Louis. This is the low that we're worried about.
It does not make it to New York until after the parade is over tomorrow. Rain showers down in Louisiana. Maybe some bumps in the road around Houston. But other than that, I think the forecast looks pretty good.
Here it goes, right across the northeast. Rain coming in late tomorrow afternoon. Should be dry for the parade. We'll get to that in just a second.
But here is the forecast now for your travel. All of the northeast airports are green. We should have less than 30-minute delays there. The big one, I think, the major hub that does anything wrong today, weather-wise, will be Chicago. And Chicago you could get 60- to 90- minute delays. Detroit probably close to the same. Down to St. Louis, it clears up later on today and then some snow into Minneapolis. But other than that, the West Coast airports are in great shape. And I think everybody else is going to really enjoy this change.
Other than the Midwest, the change in the forecast looks pretty good, and I think Snoopy flies tomorrow. The winds get to about eight miles per hour at noon, and that is good enough to let all those balloons fly.
CAMEROTA: That's our litmus test, does Snoopy fly? Yes, he does.
Thank you, Chad.
MYERS: You're welcome.
CAMEROTA: Donald Trump now disavowing the support from that neo-Nazi group in wide-ranging interview with "The New York Times." But did the president-elect go far enough? His critics say no. So what else can he say?