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Trump Backs Off Some Campaign Promises, Including Prosecuting Clinton; Chattanooga Mourns School Bush Crash Victims; San Antonio Suspect Marries After Killing Cop; Kansas Water Park To Demolish Slide Linked To Death; What Trump's Appointments Signal About His Administration. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 23, 2016 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Why didn't he mention any of the things -- or you mention any of the things during the campaign that you're now saying?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: 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 made those -- Jeff Sessions. It's not over. This does not mean -- this does not mean, necessarily, that it's not going to happen. This just means that he's opening up.

So you know what? We've got bigger things to focus on. Let's actually try to start representing all the -- all those in unifying them together. And, you know, like I said, we're going to see what the FBI investigation comes back. The door was left open if some new evidence is revealed. It's not necessarily saying he's not going to, but at this point --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Scottie, everybody says -- everybody says that they're not going to do it because it doesn't make political sense and that's -- I don't think that's the point of criticism. The point of -- the question is whether or not you feel duped. You know, this was a big campaign promise. He said it again and again to rallies. He meant it. He said it on a debate stage and then he walked away from it. He's walked away from the wall. He walked away from what he said on climate change.

Now, there are a lot of people in the country, center and left, who would be like whoo, thank God, maybe he -- you know, there's something in his head that we can agree with. But for people like you and for people who would come up and say I want that wall. You know, finally, this climate change stuff is being exposed as a hoax. You know, yes, Clinton, the corruption, they're going pay, finally. Do you feel duped?

HUGHES: No, I don't feel duped. Well, yes, I would love to have every -- I would love to see a completely conservative -- people that were a part of Mr. Trump's team from day one be a part of the cabinet. While I'dlike to see all of us -- it's not -- he is not president yet. We have not seen his actions, so let's make sure that once he gets into his office -- let's see what happens there before we start this criticism. Let's remember, you know, we saw something back in 1974 with this 'Saturday Night Massacre' that happened with Nixon when he got involved with an FBI investigation.


HUGHES: One of the big criticisms right now of President Obama is that he's got involved with the Department of Justice. Let's get Mr. Trump sworn in and then you can start criticizing the actions from there.


HUGHES: At this point right now, I think he's just trying to get everybody on board.

CAMEROTA: OK. Christine, how do you feel?

QUINN: So -- well, if I think what I heard Scottie say is that yes, this is the in-between that we -- yes, this is a flip-flop, but it's OK because we're expecting another flip-flop when he gets into the White House. That, to me, is just bizarre.

CUOMO: Either way, you should be happy because it means that Clinton's not going to get prosecuted.

QUINN: Well look, I'm happy on two -- well, I'm happy and I'm not, right? I knew Clinton was never going to get prosecuted by -- Secretary Clinton -- by Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: You never believed it?

QUINN: Never believed it. I thought it was one, there was no there, there to prosecute. Two, I knew the president couldn't wave a magic wand and make that happen. Three, I realized, as I think a lot of people in the secretary's campaign did, that that was just -- it was showmanship, right? But what bothers me isn't now doing the right thing, and I hope we can take him at his word to bring the country together.

I'm much happier to hear the president-elect say that climate change might be influenced by humans. I'd like him to actually retract that it was a hoax and endorse science but these are positive things. But, for me, what's troubling is what does our president-elect believe? Was the whole campaign just opportunistic to say whatever he had to say to get elected? That's the worst of American politics. That is the swamp he promised to drain.

And hypocrisy and politics -- and I'm not saying there aren't things you could say about Democrats being hypocritical -- maybe even me having been hypocritical in office, but we should strive not to be. And we should strive, certainly, not to be on the level and scale that as soon as you're president-elect everything gets flipped. I'm happier that he's starting to see climate change isn't, you know, a magical act and a hoax, but real. CAMEROTA: Let's switch to the conference of neo-Nazis and white supremacists that was held blocks away from the White House this weekend. You know, Mr. Trump has been asked to full-throatedly denounce that.

Yesterday he did so in his own terms with "The New York Times". Let me read that. "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." He then, in another portion, 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."

Scottie, you know, his people keep saying why is the media fixated on this? Why do you keep asking him about this? Isn't it important to have our president strongly, in no uncertain terms, disavow neo-Nazis?

HUGHES: I think he has and he's done that multiple times.

QUINN: No --

HUGHES: He just doesn't want to give them any more attention. He did it yesterday.

QUINN: Hey, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: He did it yesterday but we've been waiting for something this clear.

QUINN: Alisyn, he's been doing -- he's called --

HUGHES: He called out David Duke 30 years ago, saying that he was a racist and he was horrible --

CAMEROTA: Yes, and then in this campaign --

HUGHES: -- and he didn't want to have anything to do with him.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but hold on, Scottie. I want to hear about this. He did it a long time ago and then when he was running for president he sort of did the same thing. He was like I don't even know who that is. David Duke? I don't know what you're talking about. And when Jake Tapper pressed him he said OK, OK, I disavow. That's not the full-throated condemnation that people were looking for.

[07:35:02] HUGHES: He does not want to give this group of horrible, hateful people any more attention than what these 75 members that showed -- of the media that showed up at this conference in Washington, D.C. that only had 285 evil people to get.

QUINN: A lot of people.

HUGHES: Seventy-five members of the media showed up to cover this conference looking -- basically looking -- salivating over something they could use to incite this race -- this racist argument --

CAMEROTA: We're trying to shine a light on something repugnant. HUGHES: Or -- you know what? This is such a small -- I mean, this is such a small evil-minded society. A part of America that exists that I wish would go away, and I think Mr. Trump does. And he's making it go away by not giving it any attention. But I think when it comes to Mr. Trump's denouncement, I think it actually speaks -- nothing you says is probably going to make some members ever happy about what he said.


HUGHES: He's said it over and over but here's the thing. Actions speak louder than words. This morning we're waking up to olive branches. We're seeing Harold Ford, possibly, a Democratic -- an African-American Democratic from Memphis possibly joining his cabinet.


HUGHES: We're seeing things like Nikki Haley coming in. That is going to speak louder than probably some of those folks that could never be happy with his apology.

CAMEROTA: OK, your reaction?

QUINN: And we also see Jeff Sessions as the attorney general and Steve Bannon in the White House as strategist, so let's look at all of the appointments. You know, I think --

HUGHES: Not racist.

CAMEROTA: Hold on.

QUINN: I think there's something in the Trump camp that's causing them to fundamentally misunderstand, purposely or by accident, what this -- what happened and what was needed. Now, first of all, the campaign -- or, I'm sorry, the transition says we don't want to make a story of it. But, in fact, by not quickly, cleanly, and directly disavowing, and criticizing, and condemningthis event, they have made a story of it.

And in making that story where people are debating back and forth when he said, what he said, it only adds to the fear of people who are afraid of being targeted, and not purposely, but empowers these other people. They did something we've never seen in this country, use the Hitler salute for a president's name. There's no question there. You say that's wrong, it's un-American, period. You're the president- elect. It puts it to bed.

CAMEROTA: Ladies --


HUGHES: Why give them more --


CUOMO: Scottie, we've got to go, but I'll tell you what. Your argument makes perfect sense if you're talking about somebody who has ever done that before. This man never is subtle --

QUINN: Right.

CUOMO: -- when he wants to go after something. He calls you out by name, he makes it a big deal, and he makes sure everybody knows --

QUINN: And he's done that to --

CUOMO: Not on this. Not on this and you know it. Not on this and you know it. The question is why?

QUINN: He criticized "Hamilton" repeatedly --

CUOMO: Right.

QUINN: -- and we go back 30 years ago --


CAMEROTA: Scottie, thank you. You've made your point. Christine, thank you.

CUOMO: Nobody's saying he's racist. It's just about how he deals with racists. That's the question.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so up next we've got new details emerging about the driver involved in this deadly school bus crash in Tennessee. The community is mourning the loss of five young children right before Thanksgiving.


[07:41:35] CUOMO: Federal investigators are now on the scene of a deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This entire community there is mourning just this horrible situation. They don't understand why it happened but they know five young kids are gone. Investigators are focusing on the driver's record. What does that mean? CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Chattanooga with more. What are you hearing?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. It goes without saying this is going to be an extremely sad Thanksgiving holiday for numerous family members here in Chattanooga. The suspect in this crash, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, remains in custody charged with five counts of vehicular homicide.

And, at least according to initial reports, it is believed that this appears to be an intentional act. Johnthony Walker was going well above the 30 mile per hour posted speed limit when that school bus flipped and crashed, hitting a tree. Five children were killed. Twelve of them remain hospitalized. We're outside the Children's Hospital here in Chattanooga. Six of those kids are still in critical condition, six others in stable condition. I mentioned the grieving families. Well, the suspect's mother also

said he, too, is suffering and grieving, saying that he called her immediately after the crash to say "there was a drastic accident". She says that he actually tried to help some of those children get off the bus before police arrived.

Part of this investigation will focus on, of course, the driver and the driver's history, but also on this company contracted by the school district to see if more could have been done to stop this horrific tragedy -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Nick, thank you for all of that reporting. So, this tragedy in Chattanooga is, of course, every parent's worst nightmare. There was a vigil held last night for the victims of the crash and their families.

So joining us now is Bishop Kevin Adams of the Olivet Baptist Church. He has been consoling some of the families and survivors. Bishop, thank you for being with us this morning.


CAMEROTA: Bishop, what is the -- what are the families saying about this bus driver?

ADAMS: Well, there's a lot of turmoil. They've got many questions -- many questions we still cannot answer at this time. But they want to know why this happened and how they're going to go on with their lives. How they're going to heal from this. So, just a tragic situation for the entire city.

CAMEROTA: Is there a feeling among the family members of what our Nick Valencia just reported that somehow this, unthinkably, was an intentional act?

ADAMS: As you talk to a lot of family members, we're hearing a lot of things that reports have been made and they're wondering why the driver, of course, was going at that amount of speed. But our focus has, of course, been on just trying to bring healing. Trying to bring encouragement to these families because none of those questions we have the answer to and we know it's an ongoing investigation. But we really just feel for these families and I just feel their hearts.

CAMEROTA: Bishop, have you been able to determine or has the community been able to determine if it is true, that the driver was wearing a seat belt but the children in the bus were not?

ADAMS: Yes, I think that that's really a discussion, even for this whole nation, that we're going to protect our kids. Certainly, if the driver was protected then our kids need to be protected. I'm just appalled at the fact that our kids were that vulnerable. That many of them, perhaps, would not have had to die if they would have had on seat belts. And so, just a horrific tragedy and scene for little kids to lose their lives at any point, but especially right here around the holiday season, and to think that some of this could have been prevented.

[07:45:25] CAMEROTA: Gosh, it is such a searing loss and -- any time of the year, and very heartbreaking, obviously today, the day before Thanksgiving. What are you planning for the families?

ADAMS: We have a dinner prepared. Not many of them are not thinking about, of course, cooking and those kind of things, and so we have a dinner prepared at the church. Many of them have been invited to come by and to share in that. And we just want to love on them, just encourage them. Even waking up this morning, I could still hear some of the screams and cries of some of the parents and so we want to do our part as a community -- as a community of faith to just love on them to encourage them to let them know that God is still with them and, of course, this community is still with them.

CAMEROTA: That's a beautiful message and we can hear how emotional it is for everybody there. How do you explain to them that God is with them but somehow this happened?

ADAMS: Really, that's something that I can't explain. I don't try to explain. As they ask the questions why did this happen, why did God permit this, the Bible says the secret things belong unto the Lord. So I don't try to give explanations. I just try to be present, try to love on them by getting in the floor and just hugging mothers who were crying, who was hysterical. Just the presence sometimes is all that is needed, and to let them know that God did promise never to leave us and never to forsake us, and we believe in the God that's going to bring us through this.

CAMEROTA: Bishop Kevin Adams, I'm sure that your presence is comforting to those moms and the entire community. Thank you very much for taking time to be with us today, and we're thinking of your community.

ADAMS: Thank you so much and God bless you all.


CUOMO: All right. It has been two weeks since Donald Trump won the election so what have we learned about how he will lead? It's still early but Donald Trump is making decisions and he's showing a process. He's also different than he was when he was running. For better or for worse? Carl Bernstein joins us with perspective, next.


[07:51:30] CAMEROTA: A couple of headlines for you. Detroit police say they've made an arrest after a Wayne State University police officer was shot. Investigators say officer Colin Rose stopped a man on a bicycle near some off-campus apartments when he was shot at least once in the head. Rose is said to be in critical condition. Police say they have a person of interest in custody.

CUOMO: The suspected killer of a San Antonio cop got married by a judge only hours after allegedly pulling the trigger. Thirty-one- year-old Otis McKane is accused of shooting Detective Benjamin Marconi to death while he was sitting in his patrol car. He was writing a traffic ticket. Six and one-half hours after getting married, McKane was arrested. He told reporters he was sorry for killing Marconi and he was lashing out in anger against someone who didn't deserve it because society hadn't allowed him to see his son.

CAMEROTA: A Kansas City water park is tearing down the world's tallest water slide that was linked to the death of a young boy. Caleb Schwab suffered a fatal neck injury while riding the water slide back in August. Officials at the water park say the attraction will be demolished and replaced once the investigation into Caleb's death is complete.

CUOMO: So, it is a working holiday for the Trump transition team. They're going to continue the process of constructing the administration over the Thanksgiving weekend. What do the choices so far reveal about this presidency going forward? What about the process? What have we learned? Let's discuss with CNN political commentator and journalist, Carl Bernstein. Good to see you.


CUOMO: The best of Thanksgiving. We are grateful for you being at this table as often as you have been. What have you learned that should matter to the American people?

BERNSTEIN: That Donald Trump, to do the right thing, has to be pushed into it by real opposition and somehow be led by the hand to do the right thing.

CAMEROTA: Meaning?

BERNSTEIN: Meaning that we finally see him say something about Nazis and still not sufficient --

CUOMO: He doesn't say Nazis.

BERNSTEIN: He doesn't --

CUOMO: He doesn't say alt-right.

BERNSTEIN: Still not sufficient. His notion of the American idea is he doesn't understand the American idea. Where we come from and what our history is. Why it is so important for the president or president-elect of the United States to immediately say we have no place in our culture, except for the First Amendment, to be listening to Nazi rhetoric. Our administration rejects it. I call on all Americans to have nothing to do with these people. That's the first instinct not to be pushed into it.

But I think what we've seen in this transition are his own instincts in his national security picks, the attorney general pick, not to condemn racism but to give tacit encouragement to it by his pick of Sessions. I'm not saying Sessions is still a racist.

CAMEROTA: Right. He was in public life in the eighties, but people change. I mean, there's nothing recent.

BERNSTEIN: Look, the more Donald Trump changes, but I don't expect him to change, the better. But what we see is a need for really fierce opposition to his instincts, including the idea that a President of the United States would have the conflicts of interest that he has. He's not wrong. There's no law against what he's doing or planning to do, that I know of, with his private business holdings and being the President of the United States.

[05:55:00] CAMEROTA: But then, who will stop him?

BERNSTEIN: But it's wrong.

CAMEROTA: But then, who will stop him?

BERNSTEIN: Again, I think only -- on this one, I don't think anyone will. And I think what we're seeing is Trump by attrition, which is the pattern. That he says the most outrageous things, does the most outrageous things. His objective is to get what he wants. He's results-oriented, as we know from his business. His businesses have nothing to do with conventional, moral business practices. He's a con man. He's cheated people. But, if there is enough opposition he might be pushed.

CUOMO: Or if there's enough advantage to be had. People around him are wondering if being president and seeing his approval ratings -- if they're only at 46-47 percent, which is his base, right -- which is what he got in the vote -- he won't be happy and he'll say how do I get these other people? What do I need to say? Just like we saw in the campaign. The wall is gone. Repeal and replace is my first priority, gone. Go after Clinton as my first priority, gone.

CAMEROTA: Well, they're not gone. They're being pushed --

CUOMO: Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: They're being delayed.

BERNSTEIN: That's my point.

CUOMO: The Clinton thing is gone. You're not going to hear about it anymore.

BERNSTEIN: The point is that he gets --

CAMEROTA: Perhaps not.

BERNSTEIN: -- pushed when, sometimes, there is an outcry. But I think that where we are heading is a division in America by his instinctive actions, such as we've seen in the national -- look, Mike Flynn -- look at that pick. Mike Flynn is someone known to the intelligence community and to the military community as somebody who flipped out. That he was a fine intelligence officer in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and then he just cut loose, went off the reservation, said wild and crazy things.

CAMEROTA: Are you referring to the stuff about Islam is a political movement, not a --

BERNSTEIN: More than that.


BERNSTEIN: His demeanor, generally. What we saw in the campaign. What he has said that is neo-racist or racist. That this goes on and on in the Trump circle -- that there is going to have to be real opposition both among Republicans and Democrats to his worst instincts. We've seen an awful lot of his worst instincts and now seeing pushback, and then he returns to taking some ideas off the table.

CAMEROTA: What about this idea that he's taken off the table that he is not interested in prosecuting Hillary Clinton or jailing her or appointing a special prosecutor. He says the Clintons have suffered enough.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it might be the right instinct, perhaps, but it's not the role of the President of the United States to determine who is prosecuted. That's up to the Justice Department, which is --

CUOMO: It worked well in the campaign, though.

BERNSTEIN: It worked -- well look, he campaigned very effectively and he won the presidency. It's not the role of the president to say who is going to be prosecuted --

CUOMO: Do you think it hurts --

BERSTEIN: -- prosecuted at the same time. You know, there has been some determination made at the level with the Justice Department.

CUOMO: Well, people aren't that thin.

BERNSTEIN: But it's not prosecutable.

CUOMO: What I'm saying, Carl, is people liked him, who voted for him, in big part because they thought he was going to go after Clinton and the rest of the swamp. Does it hurt him if he doesn't go after her?

BERNSTEIN: First of all, he's not draining the swamp because right now the swamp is Trumpism. The swamp is what he is doing in terms of his own businesses and being President of the United States, and the two are comingled in a way that is unheard of. Where is the draining of the swamp?

Also, there is a moral swamp and part of the moral swamp are appointments such as his early ones of Bannon, of Flynn, of Sessions. Instead of sending a signal to the people of America that the most important thing the Justice Department does is protect the rights of all Americans -- the civil rights division. It's an historic role --


BERNSTEIN: -- since Robert Kennedy to make sure that Americans of all races and colors are protected. This is not the message that has been sent. Now, let's see what the message on secretary of state. If he moves away from Giuliani --


BERNSTEIN: -- and toward Mitt Romney, that might be a signal once again that he's pushed into doing, perhaps, the right thing.

CAMEROTA: We shall see. Carl Bernstein, thanks so much for the analysis.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Nice to see you. We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I call it the failing "New York Times".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's declared that it's not possible for the president to have a conflict of interest.

SEAN SPICER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: He is going above and beyond what the law requires and he's going to make sure that there's a wall between his business and the way he governs.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I do hope that 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.

GIULIANI: After you win an election you sort of put things behind you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This car came of out of nowhere. I ended up falling off the bridge.

CAMEROTA: An Idaho man's harrowing struggle for survival.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a seven-month-old son at home. It wasn't thinking I'm not going to make it.


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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. I hope your travel plans go well. This is a tough day. We'll give you the reports on why. President-elect Donald Trump backing off some of his most extreme campaign promises. He gave this interview with "The New York Times" on the record.