Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Announces Nikki Haley and Ben Carson as Potential Appointees to Presidential Administration; 90th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade to Begin Soon; Donald Trump's Potential Conflicts of Interest. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 24, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: There's going to be millions of people ling the parade route, and we will have live reports as well as your holiday forecast, coming up.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It's the little things, people. It really is. First before we do balloons and Thanksgiving Day parade let's talk politics. President-elect Donald Trump diversifying his team by nominating not just one but two women to serve within his administration. With other cabinet nominees expected shortly Trump released a holiday video message calling for national healing on this Thanksgiving.

Jason Carroll is live for us at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. So we'll send it to you first. Happy Thanksgiving, Jason, good morning.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. The president-elect enjoying a very sunny Palm Beach. He's having a down day with his family. No announcements expected today. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has released a video message saying it's time for the country to come together.


CARROLL: President-elect Donald Trump diversifying his administration, picking two women to fill key positions, tapping former critic Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That is not who we want as president.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: She is very, very weak on illegal immigration. You can't have that.

CARROLL: Trump now touting the South Carolina governor as a proven dealmaker with a proven track record of bringing people together. Haley has accepted the position, she says, out of a sense of duty. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, is the first woman and first person of color to be elected as governor in South Carolina. But some are questioning if she has enough foreign policy experience for her new diplomatic post at the U.N. Trump also naming a top billionaire GOP donor, Betsy DeVos, as

secretary of education. The president-elect calling the school choice activist a brilliant and passionate education advocate, even though she also heavily criticized him throughout his candidacy, raising money for other Republicans on the ballot. And DeVos previously served on the board of an education group led by Jeb Bush that supports Common Core standards.

TRUMP: We are going to provide school choice and put an end to Common Core, bring our education locally.

CARROLL: DeVos setting the record straight on Common Core in a statement saying, "I am not a supporter, period."

Trump also announcing on Twitter that he's seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as head of Housing and Urban Development.

BEN CARSON, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are a lot of things that were put on the table, and I'm thinking about them.

CARROLL: All as Trump channels the spirit of Thanksgiving, releasing this holiday message on YouTube after what he calls a long and bruising campaign.

TRUMP: It's my prayer that on this Thanksgiving we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one country.


CARROLL: Again, Alisyn, no announcement expected today, but we could see some movement either tomorrow or in the next few days. Dr. Ben Carson saying just last night that, quote, an offer is on the table. He's also defending some comments that his spokesperson made when his spokesperson said that he wasn't qualified to run a federal agency because he didn't have any political experience. Carson now saying that that comment was just an off-the-cuff comment. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Hmm. Wonder what that means. Jason. Thank you very much.

Let's discuss all of this with CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic" Ron Brownstein, and CNN contributor and historian Julian Zelizer. Gentlemen, thanks so much. Happy Thanksgiving.


JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

CAMEROTA: Julian I want to start with you. What we know now is there is some diversity in terms of the picks, Nikki Haley or U.N. ambassador, Betsy DeVos for education secretary, maybe Ben Carson for HUD. So your point is, yes, gender and racial diversity, not ideological diversity. Should we be expecting ideological diversity in a cabinet?

ZELIZER: We shouldn't be expecting it at this point. I think he's given the signals, president-elect Trump, that he will stay to the right. And all of these picks, Haley comes from the Tea Party movement, DeVos is a major conservative player, not only in education, but in all sorts of issues, as is Ben Carson. So I think he's also sending a signal to Republicans on the Hill, I'm very much on your team

BALDWIN: But what about in terms of diversity of the picks, and Ron, I'll pose this to you, Governor Mitt Romney as a potential pick for secretary of state? I mean when you look back at their record, not just the verbal evisceration that Governor Romney had for Mr. Trump a that Utah speech, what they said, how far apart they are on Russia, do you give the Trump team credit, actually both men credit for considering this?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it would be quite a step. But there's a really interesting point in the previous spot where you saw Betsy DeVos renounce any previous support for Common Core. There was an interesting moment where this week it was a report that Steve Moore, who was one of president-elect Trump's top economic advisers but also more importantly the founder for the Club for Growth, the ideological enforcer of small government ideology in the Republican party, went to House Republicans and said this is not Reagan's party anymore. This is now Trump's party. We are a populist working-class party, a message that you're going to have to change some of your positions.

So the big question with the kind of a Mitt Romney -- first of all, if Donald Trump is to fill up a cabinet he has to go beyond people who supported him because there were simply fewer Republican officials supporting him probably than any nominee in modern times. He would have to reach out to critics to kind of put together a plausible government.

The question would be whether Mitt Romney, if he was brought in, would have to kind of make the same declaration that Betsy DeVos did, for example, on Russia where Romney's principle foreign policy argument in 2012 was that we were too soft on Russia and the indications continue to mount, including a report about his son meeting with Syrian activists during the campaign, that he wants to renegotiate or reassess that relationship with Russia to make it a much more cooperative one.

CAMEROTA: Julian, what do you think of the Romney/Rudy divide, and who's going to win this one since there are so many public voices, including Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, two big early supporters of Donald Trump, once they decided not to have their own races, they say they do not like the idea of Mitt Romney.

ZELIZER: Yes I think symbolically it would be a big step, not because they were just opponents, but this was a pretty bitter rivalry and bitter statements that Mitt Romney made about Trump during the campaign. I mean, he headed an effort to basically get him off the ticket, and there are divisions on Russia.

Interestingly, if you look at 2012 on many other issues, they're not that far apart, including how to fight against terrorism, including criticism of the Iran deal, which is very big in the Trump administration to try to remove that. So there are points of commonality. But president-elect Trump will have to overcome this brewing tension with people like Newt Gingrich who are saying absolutely not.

CAMEROTA: Not if he appoints Rudy Giuliani then he doesn't have to overcome that tension. But I guess there are other voices, Ron, who say, never Rudy.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And look, I mean, the foreign policy one is the most complicated area for Trump because as we were saying there was not a lot of support for him from the existing Republican infrastructure. But that was especially true in foreign policy where you had these two extraordinary letters, including one signed by dozens of former top national security officials in previous Republican administrations, including several cabinet secretaries who said flat out he was not qualified or fit by judgment and temperament to be commander in chief.

If you appoint Rudy Giuliani after appointing Michael Flynn as the national security adviser, it is unlikely you're going to kind of make a bridge or reach a bridge to many of those kinds of those Republican established foreign policy thinkers. Mitt Romney at least offers him the chance to kind of have what happened with Nikki Haley, which is former critic saying I have a sense of duty. I want to go in and kind of help this new administration for the country.

So it is a very consequential choice not only for that top job but I think what happens beneath it, especially given how polarizing a choice he has already made with Michael Flynn.

BALDWIN: Let me move on. I want to ask this "Washington Post" piece, Julian, about the intel briefings. As president-elect Trump could say yes to intel briefings each and every day. He's apparently taken only two of them. We know vice president-elect Pence does the daily contacts. Obama took the dailies. Bush 43 took them daily. Not everyone did. And then one source quoted in the piece says Trump has a lot of catching up to do. Is that alarming or not quite yet?

ZELIZER: Well, I believe expertise does matter. And I think this is the moment we need to see president-elect Trump take these policies seriously, and we would hope that he's taking as much in terms of briefings as possible. So there is a lot of catching up to do and I think it should be alarming. The question of his expertise, of his knowledge, of his sense of what the presidency is about is very serious question that emerged from this campaign. So he is not someone who could be on the lighter side of gaining a lot of knowledge right now.

BALDWIN: Ron, isn't so much of being a leader knowing what you know and knowing what you don't. What you don't know, you say yes to a briefing.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, look, during the campaign he said he knew more about ISIS than the generals. You do get the sense that the actual act of being elected has been somewhat sobering and that he has taken a more measured tone. But, I mean, that's absolutely right. I mean, you know, the experience, the life experience in business is ultimately different than the life experience as a leader of, you know, of an elected office where it's fundamentally a job of persuasion. There are definitely assets coming from the outside that were attractive to many of his supporters, but this is a big change for him. And it is not yet clear whether he fully recognizes the magnitude of the change.

CAMEROTA: Julian, Hillary Clinton is nearing, by our account, 2 million more votes in the popular vote than Donald Trump. Some counts have her above 2 million at this point.

[08:10:08] So there are some movements afoot to try to either get some of the electors in the Electoral College to switch their vote away from Donald Trump, or Jill Stein is leading the charge that there might have been some sort of electronic glitch or even hacking in three battleground states that could have swayed the results or changed them. So what do you think? If it is found out that there was a technical glitch, or there was hacking before the inauguration, what happens?

ZELIZER: Well, first we don't know if that happened. That comes out of a report by some computer science experts who raised this possibility in these battleground states. But they're two separate issues. One is her winning the popular vote not by a little, but by a lot. So that raises --

CAMEROTA: More than anybody has in the past.

ZELIZER: So this raises a question of how much is this a mandate for president-elect Trump? How much does this signal a fundamental shift in the electorate when she actually did quite well?

The second is a different issue. Were there problems in particular areas with voting, with electronic voting in particular? There's no indication the Clinton team is doing anything like this. There are some electors who are saying they might switch their votes. But I don't think we're at the point yet where we're going to see any effort to really change the outcome of the election. And it's not clear from the evidence we have that this would change the outcome, either.

CAMEROTA: We've got to leave it there, guys. Ron, Julian, thank you very much for spending part of your Thanksgiving with us. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Can we talk about balloons and parades and turkeys now?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Let's do it.

BALDWIN: It's just about time for the big Thanksgiving tradition to begin. Live pictures outside in New York City. The balloons are up. There's my man Charlie Brown. Millions are lining the streets. Coming up next we will take you live to the parade on this Thanksgiving.

CAMEROTA: But first we do have a Thanksgiving message from one of our brave service members overseas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Lieutenant Tyler Johnson. I wish I could be home for Thanksgiving. I miss my family home in South Dakota, and to everyone back home, happy Thanksgiving.



[08:15:51] CAMEROTA: The Thanksgiving excitement is building on the streets of New York. The balloons are up over the 90th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade which gets under way in just minutes.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in the center of it all on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

What's the latest, Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESONDENT: Hey, good morning, Alisyn.

We're about 45 minutes away from the start of the parade. As you can see behind me, things are getting set to kick off. We've got Charlie Brown in the background.

Right in front of us, several dozen New York City police officers getting ready to hit the parade route. There are about 3,000 of them uniformed here today.

We've also got about 1,000 clowns, some of them on roller blades and with confetti. Very, very exciting stuff here. Thank you so much. I don't even know how to get away with that. Thank you.

Aside from that the crowd is extremely excited. They are pumped to be here. We have kids of all ages that are very, very excited not just for the floats, the balloons, but also the characters and performances. I don't know if you've heard but cats is making --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you doing? We're doing great.

SANCHEZ: Happy Birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Happy Birthday. Happy Thanksgiving.

SANCHEZ: A lot of joy in this crowd, also. People very, very thankful that they've got New York's finest here. About 3,000 police officers watching the parade route.

We spoke a short while ago with the commissioner of New York police saying this is one of the most important days for the city of New York. It's not just about making sure that the crowds are safe, but also making sure that they have a good time. As I said before there are a lot of families here. A lot of excitement in the air. And a lot of folks here thankful to have those officers putting their lives on the line to make sure everybody has a good time -- Brooke and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Boris. I'm feeling a lot better about the clowns. Those were very nonthreatening clowns.

BALDWIN: That was so okay. I mean, you tee this whole thing, a thousand clowns, we're a little worried.

CAMEROTA: Taking over the streets. Those were friendly clowns.

SANCHEZ: Those are friendly clowns. I'm worried about because there's about 1,000 of them. I'm not a huge fan of clowns to begin with. At least these aren't as bad.

They're holding balloons. They have glitter, roller skates. Not the creepy clowns that might be hiding in the woods.

You guys aren't like the bad clowns are, are you?

They got a little bit offended that I asked that question. So, I'm going to start walking away --

BALDWIN: Walk away, Boris. Walk away.


BALDWIN: Clowns, the musical. Wow.

Anyway. Weather. How will that balloons fair on this brisk New York morning?

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the scoop. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We have great weather. I tell you what, Brooke, winds are going to be 5 miles per hour. All the balloons will be up all day it's going to be a fantastic day out there.

Temperature-wise, though, we will see temperatures in the 40s all day, maybe up to around a high of around 52 if we really kind of heat this out around 2:00 this afternoon. There's Snoopy. It's going to be a great day for everybody out there. Away from that balloon.

There are no creepy balloons. That's kind of the one thing that I like. But I'm kind with Boris on the clown thing.

Otherwise, Buffalo upstate we could see a little bit of icing there. Watch out for that if you're driving this morning. It warms up enough this afternoon that it's just all rain. Green and white mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire a little bit of snow. A lot of people are starting to ski out to the west. We are getting snow reports that ski resorts are opening in Colorado.

So, if you may want to call ahead or look online.

BALDWIN: Awesome.

CAMEROTA: There are threatening turkeys.

BALDWIN: Threatening turkeys on the weather map. And occasionally that appear on the desk. Waiting for it. Waiting for it. Here it is.

CAMEROTA: Other direction.

BALDWIN: It's Thanksgiving. We can have a little fun.

Coming up, two more Trump cabinet picks, both of them women. What else can we expect from the president-elect as he puts his administration together? That is coming up.


[08:23:54] CAMEROTA: Every day, there seem to be new revelations about potential conflicts of interest for President-elect Donald Trump. We're learning that his son, Donald Trump Jr., met with diplomats, businessmen, and politicians last month, in part to discuss cooperating with Russia on Syrian policy.

That's just one of the many things to discuss with CNN political commentators Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson.

Happy Thanksgiving, guys.



CAMEROTA: All right. Let me pull up a couple of the conflicts of interest that we know about just this week so that you can both see them as well as our viewers.

Donald Trump and his family met with Indian developers. Of course they have hotels in India. Donald Trump and Ivanka met with the Japanese Prime Minister Abe, Trump's children, of course, are connected to his transition team. Ivanka we know was on a phone call wit the Argentinean president. Foreign diplomats, of course, have been courted to stay at Trump hotels.

And now this, that Don Jr. had attended this event at the French think tank and met with Russia diplomats and politicians to talk about that.

Oh, by the way there was also the conversation with Nigel Farage in Britain about Donald Trump not liking the wind farms that might block the view from his golf course.

Marc, what bothers you the most?

HILL: Oh, wow, it's a tough choice. They're all so appalling. I think that the biggest challenge here -- one or two challenges.

One, of course, is the legal question. Are there legal conflicts of interest here? Things that can compromise his ability to be an effective, but also legally sort of informed president.

And I suspect that legally he's going to be on good ground according to all the experts I've spoken to. There aren't that many precedents for this thing so I'm not sure there's legal infrastructure to challenge him.

But the second issue is the appearance of impropriety. There's this idea that the American people should be able to believe that the president is operating in the interests of the citizenry and not his own private business interests. There's also the global community which shouldn't believe the president is on the take for his private interests and not the public interests for the nation. It looks bad, it smells bad. That's what compromises his ability to be an effective president.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Ben, if you substituted the name Hillary Clinton, and with all of these different leaders, if you substituted Clinton Global Initiative, meeting with all of these foreign leaders, and if you substituted Ivanka's name and put in Chelsea Clinton being on these phone calls and being involved in these meetings, with these foreign leaders, your head would explode.

FERGUSON: Well, look, I was a big critic of the Clinton Foundation and I think the corruption that we saw there with her taking a government job and steering money to the foundation. I'm going to be just as critical of Donald Trump.

But let's be clear. It has been what, less than two weeks, since he found out he was going to be president of the United States of America. You've got 40-plus years here of business. It's going to take more than two weeks or 2 1/2 or 3 weeks to figure out how to get these things separated in a clear fashion for the American people.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, Ben.

FERGUSON: So I think Donald Trump understands something here.


FERGUSON: He understands that he doesn't want to go down this line that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation went down. And I also think he understands that conservatives like myself are going to be even more critical than Marc Lamont Hill, which is something shocking to say, right, Marc, if he doesn't get this very cleaned up before the Election Day. But I'm going to give him time to do that. Because I do think it takes longer than 2, 2 1/2 weeks to separate 40 plus years of business around the world.

CAMEROTA: You know, Ben, that's fair. But, are you seeing signs that he's unwinding things?

FERGUSON: Well, I don't think that you're going to see signs publicly in the -- while we're also demanding a transition, while we're also demanding that he tells who his cabinet picks are. He's probably going to go after his cabinet picks first and foremost because that's setting up a government, and also say to people around him including his kids, look, we got to figure this out and make it clear because he doesn't want the stories to be week after week, month after month that there might be conflicts of interest.

He certainly doesn't want to be flying around the world and then the stories being when he's over in that part of the world is he really here for the U.S. government or is he really here for a Trump hotel property. That's something that's going to have to be very clear --


FERGUSON: -- that I'm the president, I'm not a businessman. Remember, he's a politician now.


FERGUSON: He's not a businessman anymore. He's the president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: Marc, I mean, you yourself just said that legally you on good ground because there aren't necessarily laws against this. Basically, we've trusted presidents to separate themselves from conflicts of interest. So, then what, Marc?

I mean where does that lead Democrats in Congress? Who are outnumbered if they think that there's a conflict of interest?

HILL: You know, I think the thing that Donald Trump is -- the persuade or move Donald Trump is not going to be Congress, because again as you mentioned, he has Congress on his side both chambers. What goes to move him is the American public and American sentiment. He has to be shamed into doing this, which is tough because Donald Trump has not shown that he has very much shame.

What he does want to do is win. What he does want to do is move this campaign -- his administration forward and he ultimately doesn't want to be president who looks bad, if his narcissism will at least allow him to operate in the public interest to some extent.

So, I think we have to place public pressure on him. The media has to place tremendous scrutiny on Donald Trump and Republicans need to stand, there are principled Americans who have said Donald Trump is wrong on this issue, they have to continue to speak up and speak out as well, and if that happens, perhaps we can get Donald Trump's at least the appearance of some level of propriety here.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Ben, I have five seconds. What's the grace period?


CAMEROTA: How long are you going to give him?

FERGUSON: Look, I --

HILL: Four years.

FERGUSON: -- I think he has until election day.

CAMEROTA: You mean inauguration day?

FERGUSON: Inauguration Day, excuse me, yeah. I he's got until January the 20th to get this in order. That gives him enough time. But after that it's got to be a very clear line of separation between his business interests of his family, and the White House and the presidency, and if he wants to get off to a bad start, the way to do it is to make this -- these lines intermingle and he's got to separate them.

But, look, he's a smart guy. I think he knows this and I think he's going to do it the right way.

CAMEROTA: OK, producers hang onto this tape. We will maybe rerack it for Ben but we will see.

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Happy Thanksgiving.


HILL: Have a good day.


BALDWIN: Donald Trump adding diversity to his cabinet. Will it mean anything?