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Trump Drops Threat to Prosecute Hillary Clinton, Backs Off Some Campaign Promises; Source: Trump Picks Nikki Haley to be Ambassador to U.N.; Trump's Foundation Admits Violating IRS Rules. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired November 23, 2016 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Solve the crisis between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST/COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: His expertise might come in helpful as he tries to make the world and the country a better place.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: When I pointed out there are anti-nepotism laws, he just sort of brushed right past that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The school bus slipped off the roadway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bus driver is being charged with five counts of vehicular homicide.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I heard was kids screaming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And seeing the kids, I was down there, and I hadn't seen my son yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My baby is gone.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: There goes Bill Carter running off set. Just a little behind the scenes for you.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to NEW DAY.
President-elect Donald Trump backing off some of his most extreme campaign promises in his new interview with "New York Times." Mr. Trump ditching his threat to jail Hillary Clinton and shifting his view on waterboarding and climate change.
CUOMO: A big question for you and for Trump voters in general will be, "Do you care that he's changing about this?"
Something else we heard from the president-elect is that he denounced hate group. He addressed potential conflicts of interest. This as we're just learning about a new top pick for the Trump administration. We could get more cabinet picks today.
We've got all these different angles covered. Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray -- Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris.
Whether it is climate change, whether it's torture or whether it's the possibility of throwing Hillary Clinton in jail, Donald Trump is making it clear that, on some of his core campaign promises, his views are actually flexible.
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.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, poses 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, breaking news of yet another cabinet pick for Donald Trump. Sources are confirming to CNN that he will name South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Of course, this is notable, because Nikki Haley was very critical of Donald Trump in the past, but he's also been catching a little bit of flak for mostly naming older white men to serve in some of these senior-level positions, so she brings a little bit more diversity. Obviously, she's a woman, but she's also the daughter of two immigrants who came here from India.
Back to you guys.
CAMEROTA: OK, Sara. Thank you so much.
Let's bring in a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team. We have hedge fund executive Anthony Scaramucci.
Anthony, great to have you here.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM MEMBER: Alisyn, thank you. Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving.
CAMEROTA: And to you, as well. And to your Italian family and your mom who watches us every morning.
SCARAMUCCI: My mom is crushing on Chris. But don't tell him that. I don't want to feed his ego.
CAMEROTA: Don't mention that.
Let's talk about the big news that Sara just announced, and that is Governor Nikki Haley becoming U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Why was she the right pick?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, I don't want to speak for Mr. Trump because, really, he would be the best person to say why she's the right pick. I can talk about her personally. I mean, I love her. She's been a phenomenal Republican, great executive. She has the diplomatic skills to handle this.
I think you saw her in the crisis during that -- the gun situation in the church, maybe 18, 24 months ago. She is a person that has an enormous amount of respect across parties.
CAMEROTA: Yes. [07:05:11] SCARAMUCCI: And so my guess is she'll do a phenomenal job
there. And this is a big message, I think, to people about the transition, is that Mr. Trump wants to reach out to everybody whether they were with them or not with them prior to the campaign. I think he would say, if he was sitting here, that whatever was said prior is sort of over.
We have to come together as a nation. We have to come together as a party, and he also wants to bring a very diverse group of people to Washington. And obviously, she'll be in New York, but on his team.
CAMEROTA: That is interesting, because she was critical of him during the campaign. How did he get past that? I mean, we often see Donald Trump as someone who does remember the critical things that people said about him and doesn't let those go so easily. So how did he get past it?
SCARAMUCCI: I see a different side of him, probably because I spent so much time with him over the last six months. You know, my grandfather would say this: You have to be a good sport in life. You've heard that expression.
And so Mr. Trump, the president-elect is definitely a good sport. His attitude is, it's a hard-scrabble environment. Governor Haley is probably loyal to factions in the Bush or the Rubio campaign...
SCARAMUCCI: ... or Cruz at that time. And you have to remember she had long ties to them. Mr. Trump is 18 months into his political career and, so, I think he would look at this and say, "Listen, these people are loyal to each other." He respects that. He respects that loyalty.
SCARAMUCCI: But now that he's the president-elect, he would like to bring those people in. It's sort of that sort of team of rivals concept that President Obama employed...
CAMEROTA: President Lincoln.
SCARAMUCCI: President Lincoln.
CAMEROTA: We've heard that there might be other big news. Can you break some news here on what other announcements will be happening today?
SCARAMUCCI: You know, that's really not for me to do.
CAMEROTA: You are here for Mr. Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: I am here for Mr. Trump, but I will tell you that I think -- I don't like stealing people's thunder. At the end of the day, I think I'm on the team, because I understand the concept of team. And you remember this, probably, from high school. Together everyone achieves more. So it's Mr. Trump's voice that we have to hear from.
CAMEROTA: Will there be an announcement today of some kind?
SCARAMUCCI: You know, my guess is there probably won't be. My guess is that there will probably be more announcements next week. I think this will probably be the announcement for today.
CAMEROTA: Secretary of state...
CAMEROTA: ... where is it right now in the negotiations? Is it leaning Mitt Romney? Is it leaning Rudy Giuliani? Is there another name we should know about?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I mean, I think that -- I think, again, this is a president-elect decision, but I think he loves both these guys for different reasons. And he's willing to put aside whatever the things that Governor Romney said during the campaign.
One thing that I think your viewers and you should really focus on as it relates to the State Department, we see a lot of problems in there. You know, the $6 billion that went missing. The person that gets dropped into the State Department, he or she, is going to be somebody that the president-elect really thinks they can really fix the department and figure out what went wrong there.
So the restructuring aspect of both a Rudy Giuliani and a Governor Mitt Romney would be good things to look at in terms of their skill set.
CAMEROTA: Here's one person who does not think that Mitt Romney would not be a good choice, and that is former speaker Newt Gingrich.
SCARAMUCCI: I'm not surprised.
CAMEROTA: I have it for you. Let me play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I would be concerned, one, I think the vast majority of Trump supporters will initially be very unhappy and will be reminded of all the things that Romney said over the years.
Two, because Romney does represent a very different viewpoint. I can think of 20 other people who would be more naturally compatible with the Trump vision of foreign policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What does Speaker Gingrich know that you and Mr. Trump don't? SCARAMUCCI: I love the speaker, and he was incredibly impactful
during the campaign. But I think that the message to the executive committee on the transition team, which I happen to be a member of from the president-elect is that we need to bring A-plus, plus players into the -- into the game.
And, so, I think we need to put aside our differences. The first thing we need to serve is the American people and the second thing we need to do is surround the president-elect with people that he can trust to execute that job on behalf of the American people. So there will be some soreness, whoever is named. There's pluses and minuses to everybody else.
CAMEROTA: Ben Carson, has he been offered HUD secretary?
SCARAMUCCI: I have to take him at his word. He said that he has been offered the job, so my guess...
CAMEROTA: Wouldn't you know that?
SCARAMUCCI: But I would take him at his word. Here's the problem, because I'm here to talk about the concepts, and I'm here to talk about what we're trying to do as a team. But I don't think it's fair for me to steal the thunder of Mr. Trump. And I'll tell you why.
One of the most exciting things. Think about early decision in college. OK? If you knew before your kid, you still want your kid to find out on the Internet. And so for me, I sort of feel like I don't want to steal any thunder.
CAMEROTA: I'm just looking for a confirmation.
CAMEROTA: So has he -- you're saying take Ben Carson at his word. He has been offered.
SCARAMUCCI: Absolutely. Ben Carson is an incredibly honest guy.
[07:10:05] CAMEROTA: OK. But I mean, this is the same person who just last week we heard his top adviser, Armstrong Williams, say that he's never -- Mr. Carson, Dr. Carson has never run an agency.
CAMEROTA: That's a lot to ask. He's a neophyte, and that's not his strength.
SCARAMUCCI: You know, look, here's what happens when you get people that are not typical politicians. They don't have the verbal dexterity or the verbal acuity of what CNN is used to or other news outlets.
CAMEROTA: Sure, but is this a slip of the tongue, or does he really not have the experience to run an agency? Is this truth telling? SCARAMUCCI: Let me -- let me put it to you this way. We're probably
going to have people who don't have governmental experience in that cabinet but that are very, very effective at what they do. It would probably take me 25 or 30 years to learn how to be a brain surgeon, but I don't think it's going to take that long to be a HUD secretary. Now, maybe I'm wrong about that.
But my guess is, is that he's got the right social skills. He loves the country. And he understands the issues that we need to tackle right now in the country.
And so I love the guy. I think he's terrific. But he's not a politician. I think that's the big message we have to send to people, that we're going to be putting nonpoliticians in these jobs to help disrupt the system a little bit and possibly make the system a lot better, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. Very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing the process with us.
SCARAMUCCI: A pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
CAMEROTA: Have a great one.
Let's get over to Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Alisyn.
New details about the suspected killer of a San Antonio police officer. Court records show the man on your screen, 31-year-old Otis McCain got married on Monday before he was captured for allegedly shooting and killing Detective Benjamin Marconi. He was arrested six and a half hours later.
McCain told reporters he was sorry for Marconi, and he said that he was lashing out in anger at the wrong person, because society wasn't allowing him to see his son.
CAMEROTA: President Obama reducing the prison sentences of 79 more inmates. The total number of commutations this week hitting 1,000, more than the previous 11 presidential administrations combined. The White House says the president will grant more before he leaves office. Mr. Obama has said he wants to bring the existing sentences in line with today's laws, which are not as harsh for nonviolent drug offenders.
CUOMO: An Idaho man is now out of the hospital after he was struck by a car and fell 50 feet into a river. His name is Steven Arrowsmith, and he had stopped to help another driver on an icy bridge when he was hit. The 34-year-old's leg was badly broken, but he still managed to swim through frigid waters to an island where he was finally rescued. Steven is going to join us live in our next hour to tell us about how he made it through and the image that was in his head the whole time that kept him going.
CAMEROTA: He'll be on in our 8 p.m. hour, and he does talk about the one thing that he thought about that allowed him to swim through all that cold water. My gosh!
CUOMO: Talk about being thankful on Thanksgiving. He is at the top of the list.
CAMEROTA: All right. We'll talk to him.
Meanwhile, a stunning admission of wrongdoing by the Trump Foundation. It was detailed in a "Washington Post" report. We're going to talk to the journalist who broke this story. That's next.
CUOMO: President-elect Donald Trump's charitable foundation has been under scrutiny and is the subject of an investigation by the New York attorney general. The "Washington Post" is now reporting a new revelation that the Trump Foundation admitted to the IRS that it engaged in self-dealing and legally misusing charitable donations to benefit himself or actually, itself, for business or his family.
Joining us now is the "Washington Post" reporter who broke that story, David Fahrenthold.
David, happy Thanksgiving to you and the family. Good to have you with us.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Thank you.
CUOMO: Let's do this through the lens of the opposition it will receive. OK? People -- the first blush will be, what's new? Didn't we already hear this and it wasn't any big deal? What do you know?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, what's new is the Trump Foundation, Donald Trump is now admitting to something that, for a long time they told the IRS they had never done, which is, as you said, take money that was in the charity that was meant for charitable purposes, serving the public good, and spending it to benefit Trump or to benefit one of his family members or one of his businesses.
CUOMO: And the, so -- and so, well, what was the penalty, and how can we substantiate as reporters that this matters?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the penalty, we don't know yet. There's a separate IRS form that we haven't gotten a copy of yet in which Trump will lay out all the specific instances that he broke this rule, broke this law. And he will describe the penalty taxes or reimbursements he will have paid. I don't know that yet. I've asked for it but haven't gotten it.
And you asked why it matters. I mean, this is a guy who's about to be responsible for executing -- faithfully executing all the laws of the country. It's important to know. He's been running a federally certified charity for a long time. Has he been following the rather simple laws of how to run a charity?
CUOMO: Trump Foundation may have been receiving donations from foreigners during the campaign. How do we know and how much are we talking about?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the one example we know about is in this same tax filing. In September 2015, when Trump was already, obviously, a pretty major candidate for president, he took $150,000 from a guy who is a Ukrainian steel magnate; $150,000 was in exchange for a 20-minute speech Trump gave by video link. He sat in Trump tower, talked over video for 20 minutes and got $150,000 for his charity.
Now, the same Ukrainian steel magnate was the guy who donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation, and there were questions raised about whether Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, showed him sort of extra favoritism.
It's just one donation, but you see the potential here. Right? This is a president-elect who will be the president. If he keeps the Trump Foundation open, this is a way for foreign governments, foreign businessmen to give a money to a cause close to Donald Trump. Because of the way the IRS rules work, we wouldn't know about it for a year or more after the gift came in.
[07:20:02] CUOMO: You have been tuned into the potential hypocrisy of what Trump was saying about Clinton, despite what may be going on with his own foundation. That seemed to have also taken you down the road of what the Trump Foundation was doing during the campaign in addition to this type of foreign donation. What did you find?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the biggest thing that the Trump Foundation did during the campaign was, if you recall back in January, Trump had this big fund-raiser for veterans...
FAHRENTHOLD: ... when he raised $6 million. A lot of that money went into the Trump Foundation. And then Donald Trump gave it out to people. So this is money from other people.
Trump would go on the road at campaign rallies and stop the rally and then bring up a local veterans group from Iowa or New Hampshire and give them a giant, oversized Ed McMahon-style check that said, "Donald J. Trump Foundation" on the top, and "Make America great again" on the bottom.
Now, it's illegal to mix a nonprofit's work with that of a presidential campaign. Trump obviously used the Donald Trump Foundation -- again, other people's money -- to boost his image in Iowa and New Hampshire and other places. That's another example. Something we might see the IRS or the New York A.G. take a look into later on.
CUOMO: The idea of where that money went. I don't know what you found. Our Drew griffin was looking. We were never account for all $6 million that he said he raised and sent off to veterans groups. Do you think that's just about accounting and time, or do you think it's about something else?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, what I found back then was that Trump took all the money in; said he raised $6 million, including a million dollars of own. And he gave out a little bit right at the beginning, a little bit more than a million dollars in sort of high-profile gifts in the middle of his rallies, and then stopped.
And then for months and months and months, I and Drew and other folks were trying to figure out what happened to the money. Did Trump give his million dollars? Did he gave away the rest of the money to other people entrusted to him to give to veterans' groups?
And it took months of media badgering for Trump to admit to a couple of things. One, he was sitting on his million dollars. He hadn't actually given it out, even after his campaign said he had. And he didn't give away a lot of the money that other people had entrusted to him until much later. You'll remember, he had a very angry press conference at Trump Tower in which he said, "I can't believe you're making me account for money that I took from other people and where it went."
That was not a very encouraging sort of example about the way that Trump views the public trust of being donated money to help others.
CUOMO: And the foundation is another example of the advantage to Trump of a private concern. Right? Is that, until it does its tax filing, there's really no way, unless you get good tips and really work it as a reporter, to know what's going on inside of the operations. Right?
FAHRENTHOLD: That's right. The Trump Foundation is more transparent than Trump himself, because it has to release its tax returns, unlike him.
But the way the IRS does this, the -- all the information about 2016 won't have to be revealed until November of 2017. And same thing for the next year. So if Trump got a million dollars in his foundation from some foreign government on the day he was inaugurated in January 2017, we wouldn't know about it until the end of November 2018.
So it makes it a very difficult -- as you said, a very difficult way to -- very difficult place to watch. It's a back door that foreign governments or businessmen could use to influence Trump or suck up to Trump in a way that it would be really hard to watch until much later.
CUOMO: So hook me up, Fahrenthold. We're always on here, pumping your reporting. What are you looking at next? Give me a little bit of an advance of questions you're asking.
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, a couple of things. One is how much did Trump actually pay in penalty taxes? What were the specific acts of self- dealing that he admitted to? You remember, during the campaign, we found some pretty big ones. He said he bought two giant portraits of himself with money from the charity, including one he hung up in his sports bar. He spent $250,000 from the charity to settle his business's legal debts. All those things appear to be violations of the self-dealing law. Which ones does he admit to?
And speaking of the foreign donations, I've asked again and again, how many foreign donations has he gotten since 2015? How many did he get from foreign governments during 2016, and will he do anything to try to limit the conflicts of interest this will pose as president?
Hillary Clinton, as you'll recall, signed an MOU with the Obama administration when she became secretary of state, set to limit foreign donations. Will he do anything like that?
CUOMO: David Fahrenthold, again, good Thanksgiving to you and the family. Thanks for being on NEW DAY, as always.
FAHRENTHOLD: You, too.
CAMEROTA: The president-elect doing an about face on one of his biggest promises: his threat to jail Hillary Clinton. Why would he drop something that he campaigned on for months? We discuss that, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:28:22] TRUMP: She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President-elect Donald Trump just a month ago calling for Hillary Clinton to be jailed over her use of a private e- mail server. Now he's backing off that campaign promise, dropping the threat of a special prosecutor.
Let's discuss this and more with CNN political commentators Christine Quinn and Scottie Nell Hughes. Ladies, thanks so much for being here.
Let me just read to you what he told "The New York Times" yesterday about why he's backing off of this. He said, "I don't want to hurt the Clintons. I really don't. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many ways, and I'm not looking to hurt them at all. So for whatever it's worth, my attitude is strongly that we have to go forward. We have so many different problems to solve. I don't think we have to delve back in the past."
So, Scottie, now he doesn't want to hurt the Clintons?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's a lot of things this morning that conservatives are waking up and going -- kind of taking a second glance at. And this is one of the stories.
But let me say this. Anything that Mr. Trump would do at this point, whatever the results would be, would be highly politicized. And he is in the process of healing our country and try to unify it before he takes office.
And technically, legally, the president himself cannot appoint a special investigator. This actually has to come from the attorney general. And the attorney general is only going to do this if there's enough information and there's enough -- there's enough evidence to warrant this, which comes from the FBI investigation or themselves.
CAMEROTA: I mean, this is -- people -- this makes people's heads spin. Why did he promise this, Scottie? Why did he claim that he could? Why didn't he mention any of the things or you mention any of the things during the campaign that you're now saying?
HUGHES: Well, I think now we're starting to -- you're starting to see him come, actually, under the advice of the attorney general, since he has named Jeff Sessions. It's not over.