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Trump to Appoint Nikki Haley as Ambassador to U.N.; Interview with Congressman Sean Duffy; Trump Tries to Distance Himself from White Supremacists. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 23, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: 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. Trump says he's not going to go after Hillary Clinton. He says she suffered enough. She also softened his tone on waterboarding and climate change.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He also denounced hate groups and talked about potential conflicts of interest in his administration. The president-elect is now in Florida for the holiday. But we have one new high-level nomination to tell you about this morning. Will there be more announcements this weekend? We have it all covered for you. So let's start with CNN's Sara Murray. Good morning, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys. Look, whether it comes to climate change, whether it comes to torture, whether it comes to Donald Trump's pledge to throw Hillary Clinton behind bars, it turns out all of those promises that were really the calling cards of his campaign appear to be a little bit more flexible than he was letting on.


MURRAY: 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: 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 run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like." Refusing to conceded 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. 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 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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: Donald Trump is continuing to flesh out his cabinet this morning. Sources tell CNN that he will choose South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Remember, she was a sharp critic of Donald Trump throughout the presidential campaign, but she recently met with him, trying to bury the hatchet and talk about this potential job. It could also help shield him against some criticism that he's mostly put older white men in a lot of these top slots. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Let's discuss this with longtime Trump supporter, Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy. Duffy, the best to you and your family for thanksgiving.

REP. SEAN DUFFY, (R) WISCONSIN: You, too, Chris. Thanks for having me out.

CUOMO: All right, so make the case for Nikki Haley. People know her. Very strong political presence down there in South Carolina. Showed her at her best during a very hard time during the hate shooting down there. Critic of Trump. No foreign or diplomatic experience. She'd be the first person to go into the ambassador job to the U.N. without that kind of background. But what's the plus side for you?

DUFFY: Listen, she's a smart woman. She's been governor of South Carolina. She's accomplished. And I don't think you need this great history of diplomatic experience to go into the U.N. and be successful. And so you take accomplished, smart people, and you plug them into the right position and you'll see them flourish. You'll see them grow and you'll see them represent United States very, very well.

And I think what you want to do is find people who will share your worldview, especially when they go and represent you from the administration to the U.N. or any other post. And I think probably Mr. Trump saw that there is that connection that the two share on how they view the world, and that's why she was selected. I would imagine. I wasn't in the room.

CUOMO: Are you a Romney or Rudy guy?

[08:05:00] DUFFY: You know I think there's something to be said about loyalty. I like Rudy Giuliani. I think he's a great guy and would serve the country well. But again, I think Mr. Trump is looking at different things in different candidates.

And I think Mr. Romney is well respected all over the world. And he ran a great campaign for president. Though he said mean things about Mr. Trump, I think it's pretty remarkable and says a lot about Mr. Trump that he's brought Mr. Romney in to the fold and even is considering him after the nasty things he said about Mr. Trump for the position of secretary of state. And not only that, he's bringing in Nikki Haley. It's quite remarkable that he's looking for talent, not trying to settle old scores.

CUOMO: The blowback on his light touch with disavowing neo-Nazis and alt-right hate groups. Why do you think Donald Trump doesn't call them by name? He doesn't say neo-Nazis, all the things that you would do if a group like that ever said we're happy about Duffy. You'd call them out by name. You'd say that's not who we are. I'm not about that. No one should be about that. He's not that heavy-handed here. Why?

DUFFY: Well, I don't know. I'm not in the room with Mr. Trump. But you also have to recognize, Chris, that he is trying to put together a government, and he doesn't have much time to it.

CUOMO: He's got time to talk about "Saturday Night Live" and "Hamilton" and everything else that piques his interest, but this he doesn't have time for?

DUFFY: But to be very clear, he did condemn these people. Mike Pence didn't go to the neo-Nazi rally. He did go to "Hamilton" and was called out on stage at "Hamilton." I think these are two different scenarios. But again, I'm proud that he called them out. He should have called out this organization.

CUOMO: By name?

DUFFY: Chris, he can get stuck to when the media -- every little thing that's said about him the media goes did you call out these people? Did you call out those people? You haven't built out your administration quick enough. Let's give the guy a break. CUOMO: I agree with the nitpicking --

DUFFY: You've got to give him time.

CUOMO: But this is different. I agree with you, you don't nitpick. He hasn't picked his team yet. Let him get in office and start doing things and then you can assess what's positive and negative about how he does the job. I get that. But we're talking about something different here. Every leader of this country, and on congressional levels as well, when it comes to hate, when it comes to anyone raising their hand in Nazi fashion, you get heavy and hard immediately on those people because you don't want them to pick their heads up ever. He didn't do that.

DUFFY: But he did do that. Now you would say well he didn't do it quick enough. And I'm not in a room, I'm not defending the timeline of it, but he did condemn them.

And you have to recognize the guy has been, you know, starting meetings at 5:00 in the morning, going until 9:00 at night, interviewing different people to into the right potions to make Americans into the right positions to make America great again, as he would say. And so the guy's time has been consumed, and though he might be sitting at home, you know, watching the news and seeing what happens at "Hamilton," and he might see "Saturday Night Live" because he's done with work at 10:00 at night after a full day and a full weekend of interviewing. We do have to cut him some slack.

And I agree with you. We don't allow any space for racist, hateful neo-Nazi groups. We should condemn them, we should call them out. I'm happy that he did it and we should take it at that, Chris. Good on you Mr. Trump, call them out, disavow them. They have no place, I think, in in our American society.

CUOMO: Early and often and with the hostility that he has for anything else. Who deserves more hostility than these groups?

Let me ask you one more thing before I let you get on with your Thanksgiving festivities. The decision not to go after Clinton, do you think that any of his support base should feel duped that he was so strong on this, that this was definitely going to happen, it gave a lot of people confidence that Donald Trump would be different. That he would go after people who they perceived as corrupt, largely at Donald Trump's urging, and now he says she's suffered enough, I'm OK with that. Should people feel duped? If not, why not?

DUFFY: I don't know duped. But I think there's a lot of people on the right who if he starts to move, as you reported throughout this morning, on a number of different positions, they're going to be frustrated. And that frustration will turn into anger.

In regard to Hillary Clinton, Chris, I think that it's important to note, there's two different investigations. One is the e-mails and the private server. Director Comey from the FBI has investigated that. The Department of Justice said they're not going to prosecute it. And I think you have to let that dog lie. Let it go. I don't think it's appropriate that Mr. Trump come into the presidency and demand that that investigation be reopened.

CUOMO: Where was that Duffy during the campaign? We had this conversation during the campaign. You were like -- she broke laws. I'm a former prosecutor --

DUFFY: Yes, lock her up.

CUOMO: Yes. What happened to that, Duffy?

DUFFY: But hold on a second. Let me make my point and I'm come back to you chastising me.

[08:10:00] The Clinton Foundation is fair game. That investigation is not complete. So I think if there's criminal activity within that organization it has to be called out, and Mr. Trump has to stand out of the way and let a special prosecutor investigate it and potentially hold Mrs. Clinton to account.

I think that the American people in regard to the e-mail server, we had a big American jury trial in this election, and Mrs. Clinton lost. She's been called out for her bad acts with the server, exposing American secrets. And at one point we can say, is that enough? Did we get our pound of flesh on her? I think so. And let's set this one aside. The investigation has already taken place. It's over. Let's move forward making America great again.

You know this, Chris. If you're going to get the big things done to help grow our economy and put those middle Americans who've been left behind back to work, you can't have a massive, big fight with Mrs. Clinton. How do I secure the border? How do I roll back regulation? How do I reform the tax code? How do I fix health care? And a lot of those things you need Democrats in the Senate to get on board to help you out. Let's work on those things that help grow people's paychecks and their opportunity, and I think that's the mandate that Mr. Trump has is to help middle America out not to go on this other path.

CUOMO: All right, Sean Duffy thank you for being on to make the case as always on NEW DAY. And again, best to you and the family for Thanksgiving.

DUFFY: Happy Thanksgiving, Chris. Have a good one.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: A couple of headlines. Democrats may want vice president Joe Biden to lead the party, but he does not want to, at least not officially. Biden's spokesperson says he is not interested in taking the post of DNC chair once the vice president leaves the White House in January, but Biden will be deeply involved in shaping the future direction of the Democratic party.

CUOMO: Two weeks after the election North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory filing papers demanding a recount, alleging widespread election fraud. Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is ahead by just more than about 6,000 votes. He's already declared victory, considers himself governor-elect. North Carolina law does have a provision for recounts in races decided by fewer than 10,000 votes. So stay tuned.

CAMEROTA: Before President Obama's final Medal of Freedom ceremony got under way, the honorees had a little fun. Take a look at this star-studded mannequin challenge. Oh, my gosh, this is a good one. You can see -- ours did not take off in quite the viral way you and I thought it would. But as you can see here, Tom Hanks, Bill Gates, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bruce Springsteen.

CUOMO: Diana Ross.

CAMEROTA: Ellen Degeneres.

CUOMO: Michael Jordan.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Ellen Degeneres almost did not make it into the building for her award. Before the ceremony, the comedian tweeted she had to wait to get into the White House because she forgot her I.D. She said, yes, this is for real. I really can't get in. But as you saw it turned out OK and it was actually quite emotional when she was awarded medal, as it was for so many people.

CUOMO: Big day to get that commendation, highest civilian honor you can get.

All right, with political tensions still running high and annoying relatives visiting, like dear old aunt Pearl -- I don't have one of those -- but things could get heated at the Thanksgiving table. So who are you going to call? CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the mobile moderator, of course.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The moderator will restore civility to the conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This broccoli casserole is so good.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lucas, don't interrupt your sister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Plus your moderator can serve as a fact checker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard that Barack Hussein Obama made it legal to steal things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is completely false.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then who stole my glasses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your glasses are on your forehead.


CUOMO: Surprised that she didn't look at him and then say, "biased." Wolf being a good sport in this spoof of the Ellen Degeneres show. CAMEROTA: That's awesome.

CUOMO: I would love to have Wolf at thanksgiving.

CAMEROTA: Why haven't we thought of this? Wolf, can you come to our Thanksgiving dinner? That would be so great.

CUOMO: Right?

CAMEROTA: He moderates through the fights, and the --

CUOMO: I like how he never breaks character. When we did the anchorman thing, Ron Burgundy, he was the best. It was him, me, Cooper, he was the best.

CAMEROTA: Because maybe he's not in character. That is Wolf.

CUOMO: I'm saying he never breaks it. He's always that way. You see him in the elevator. How you doing today? "How am I doing? Very well."


CAMEROTA: That's not what he said.

CUOMO: Every time.

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump putting distance between himself and those white supremacists who praised him at that conference. Is it enough? What else can he do besides disavow and condemn them? What else should he do? Maybe nothing. That conversation is next.


[08:18:20] CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump disavowing a group of neo-Nazis who praised and saluted him this past weekend. That's just one of the headlines that came out of his sit-down with "The New York Times."

So, let's talk about it all. We want to bring in senior editor for "The Atlantic", David Frum, and CNN political commentator and former White House political director under Ronald Reagan, Jeffrey Lord.

Gentlemen, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: Good morning.

Let's talk about all the news that was made from Mr. Trump's sit-down with "The New York Times." Let's just start Jeffrey with this disavowal that he did give against neo-Nazis. I'll read what he told "The New York Times."

Mr. Trump said, "I don't want to energize the group. I'm not looking to energize them. I don't want to energize the group. I disavow the group." He went on to say, "It's not a group I want to energize. And if they are energized, I want to look into it, and find out why."

Is that far enough, Jeffrey?

LORD: Yes, I'll tell you something, Aly, "The Wall Street Journal's" Jason Riley has a great column this morning, and wants to know why during a meeting of 275 extremist Nazis, at a meeting in Washington, are getting all this attention from the media. And his answer is, that it fits the narrative basket of deplorables.

But he points out that in places like Wisconsin and Ohio, counties that voted heavily for President Obama turned to Donald Trump this year. White counties.


LORD: So, in other words, this is a media narrative because the American left, as you've heard me say many times, is obsessed with race and has been ever since they instituted slavery in this country, all the way through illegal immigration by skin color. It's race, race, race all the time. It's wrong picture.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, I just want to ask you a question about that. So, neo-Nazis should be allowed sort of with impunity to have conferences, and have meetings, and say whatever they want, and set up websites, and at what point should the media pay attention to them?

[08:20:16] LORD: Well, you know, Aly, the point is, do we pay equal attention when these things go on on the left? For instance, Hillary Clinton was endorsed by the communist party chairman.


LORD: I mean, where was all the attention to that? There was none. There was none.


LORD: They have a First Amendment right. Everybody has a First Amendment right. We don't have to pay attention to people who have First Amendment rights.

CAMEROTA: Sure. It's always judgment call of when you start to pay attention. And I just --

LORD: I mean, I just think this is obsessive. This is way over the top.


LORD: These are Nazis for heaven's sakes. Leftists, I might add, Nazis being national socialists.



CAMEROTA: David, what's the answer to that? Should we in the media pay attention to them or no?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Now, aside from the dopey claims of the American left instituted slavery, I basically agree with what Jeffrey Lord just said. This is a distraction.

The news from that "New York Times" interview was Donald Trump's confirmation that he improperly used the office of presidency to try to enrich himself at his golf course in Scotland. Every minute that you are not talking about Donald Trump's self-enrichment and corruption is a minute you're wasting. There are always be psychopaths who will throw the press, something that get the press excited.

Pay attention to the money.


FRUM: That is the story of the next four years. The organized self- dealing, self-enrichment of the Trump administration.

CAMEROTA: OK, point taken. Let's get to that. Let's talk about the other things that came out of "The New York Times."

Here's one of the things that Donald Trump said about conflict of interest. Let's start there. About all of his various business holdings, internationally. And whether or not, when meeting with, say, Indian developers when he is now president-elect, meeting with the Japanese prime minister, his daughter was there. She has also an international retail business.

Putting his children on the transition team. Ivanka his daughter was on a phone call with the Argentinian president.

David, I want to go to you because you didn't have as much time as Jeffrey. Here's what Donald Trump said about this, "The law is totally on my side." Meaning "the president cannot have a conflict of interest."

FRUM: No, the law does not give us a remedy if the president has a conflict of interest. But, of course, the president can have conflicts of interest. And this one does.

But it is illegal for the president to solicit bribes. It is illegal for the president to use the power of his office to extract gratuities from foreign officials. Those are clearly illegal things.

And it is true that we don't have an adequate mechanism to police conflicts of interest. And that there's some separation of powers problem there.

But, our first safeguard against conflicts of interest has always been the assumption of disclosure. Disclosure of tax returns, for example, every president since Watergate has done and this president-elect almost certainly will not do.

And the second is the sense of honor, integrity and good sense of people we've elected for the president. Most of the presidents have been very honorable people who have gone out of their way to avoid creating conflicts.

Donald Trump -- these aren't conflicts, by the way, these are abuses of power. A conflict is a temptation. If you take the temptation, accept the temptation, you actually say to a -- you know, foreign political politician in the case of Nigel Farage, please organize a political movement to increase the value of my Scottish golf course, that's not a conflict of interest. That is an abuse of power and, of course, there's so many others.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, are you comfortable with these?

LORD: Well, look, look, this is the, the, you know, the new version of the never Trumpers here. I mean, that's really all this is.

FRUM: It's called integrity in government.

LORD: Right, right.

So, when the Kennedy family didn't give up the Merchandise Mart when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, there was a massive conflict of interest throughout the Kennedy administration, particularly when the president of the --

CAMEROTA: What about this, Jeffrey, what about in -- in present day --


FRUM: Other things that happened 200 years ago. This is today.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, are you comfortable with all of these mixing and matching of personal stuff and now government stuff?

LORD: Look, there's no question that this is going to be unconventional. There's no question.

But, you know, every time Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE), David is apparently intent on saying he's committing a conflict of interest and should be, what, impeached? I mean, this is where this is going. This -- these are the never Trumpers. I mean, let's just be candid about this.


CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, just one second I just want to be clear on something. I understand. Just one thing. If the name that were substituted in here were Chelsea Clinton, if Chelsea Clinton were on Hillary Clinton's transition team, if Chelsea Clinton sat in on a meeting with the prime minister of Japan.

LORD: I wouldn't care.

CAMEROTA: You wouldn't care?

LORD: I would not care.

CAMEROTA: You didn't care about the Clinton Foundation and CGI?

FRUM: OK, well I --

LORD: I wrote a whole column at the "American Spectator" yesterday about this in terms of Jared Kushner. Presidents from time of John Adams on, John Adams had his son appointed minister to the Netherlands.

[08:25:01] Andrew Jackson was his private secretary for eight years, one president after another has used family members inside the White House, if not in the diplomatic corps or the military. There's nothing new here.

CAMEROTA: David, go ahead.

FRUM: In fairness, I think Jeffrey may be either counting on American -- on the viewers not to know the law or he may not know it. But the laws of the United States are different than they were during the Adams administration of the 1820s. And there are anti-nepotism statutes.

But the thing here is not to be considered just so much with the conflict of interests. We have actual abuses, and there are prophylactics we can take that will protect this president from the impeachment which he may be driving himself. For example, Senator Wyden of Oregon has a statute, a bill that would require the president to disclose his taxes as every president since Gerald Ford has done. That would be a great protection of public integrity.

Again, we count on presidents to do it willingly and voluntarily.


FRUM: We counted on them to be people of honor. If you have a president who is not a person of honor, then you need a statute to say the president must release his tax return. If he doesn't, the Department of the Treasury should do it. So, that would be great prophylactic.

CAMEROTA: Got it. Gentlemen, we have to leave it there.

LORD: There are presidents who didn't release their tax returns and we survived.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, we hear you. We hear your perspective. Interesting times ahead.

Thank you very much. Have a nice --

LORD: Happy Day, Aly.

CAMEROTA: You too.

Let's get to Chris. CUOMO: All right. So, Donald Trump's administration is starting to

come together. We're going to dig into why he picked a former detractor, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be ambassador to the U.N. We're going to get the bottom line, next.