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Mitt Romney Praises Donald Trump After Posh Dinner; Trump Strikes Dear with Carrier; 3 Dead, Several Missing in Gatlinburg Wildfires; Ex-Police Officer Michael Slager Testifies at Murder Trial. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 30, 2016 - 06:00   ET



MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I've been impressed by what I've seen.

[05:58:35] SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: He's going to make a tremendous difference as our next president.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We say to all Republicans who want to privatize Medicare? Go try it. Make our day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that the president's health care law violates every single principle we hold dear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump and manufacturer Carrier striking a deal to keep a thousand jobs in the state of Indiana.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had a difficult 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flames everywhere.


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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now you'll see how it actually gets done. What is involved. Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, November 30, 6 a.m. in the east. We now know who President-elect Trump wants to run our economy.

And then this headline, talk about a great second date. What did Romney learn about Donald Trump at dinner?

CAMEROTA: Whatever it was, it impressed him, because Romney came out and said complimentary things about the president-elect. So, last night, they were at this dinner. This high-stakes meeting comes amid speculation that, of course, Donald Trump is still considering Mitt Romney for secretary of state. So have these campaign enemies actually hashed out their differences?

CNN has also learned who Trump will name to his top posts on his economic team. And the president-elect scored a big win. This morning, he is touting a deal to save 1,000 manufacturing jobs at Carrier in Indiana.

So we have all of this coverage for you. Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray. She's live in Washington. Good morning, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, we are expecting the Trump transition team to make it official later this morning. Donald Trump naming two folks who are going to play a pivotal role in steering a U.S. economy in a Donald Trump White House.

But on the big question of secretary of state, still no news on which direction Donald Trump is leaning after another bizarrely public audition to fill the role of the nation's top diplomat.


MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump and Mitt Romney putting their past differences aside, at least for dinner. The two talking foreign policy, alongside Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, over garlic soup and sauteed frog legs at a high-end restaurant inside Trump's international hotel in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President-elect, are we looking at the next secretary of state right here?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well you're going to see what happens.

MURRAY: Romney, speaking to reporters after the meal, showering praise on Trump and the transition.

ROMNEY: We had another discussion about affairs throughout the world. And these discussions I've had with him have been enlightening and interesting and engaging. I've enjoyed them very, very much.

MURRAY: And lauding the president-elect's accomplishments with a nod to where he fell short in 2012.

ROMNEY: It's not easy winning. I know that myself. He did something I tried to do and was unsuccessful in accomplishing. He won the general election. And he continues with a message of inclusion and bringing people together.

MURRAY: Romney's remarks a sharp contrast to their bitter rivalry on the campaign trail. ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.

TRUMP: Mitt was a disaster as a candidate.

MURRAY: The ongoing secretary of state search coming as sources tell CNN Trump is expected to roll out his economic team today. Former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin as treasury secretary. But Mnuchin is sure to face scrutiny for his tenure as a mortgage banker, heading up a firm that made big money off of foreclosures.

The DNC calling out Trump's pledge to drain the swamp, dubbing Mnuchin "a billionaire hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs alumnus who preyed on homeowners struggling during the recession."

Trump also selecting billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you interested in being commerce secretary, sir?


MURRAY: Meanwhile, Carrier announcing they have struck a deal with the Trump administration to save at least 1,000 jobs at its factories in Indiana. But so far the details of the deal haven't been announced.


MURRAY: Now, we know Donald Trump was, of course, planning to kick off his thank-you tour on Thursday. You can add another stop to that. He and Mike Pence will be making a visit to Indiana to stop by the Carrier plant and, of course, tout their chance to make good on one of Donald Trump's campaign promises.

Of course, the key question, since we don't know the terms of the deal, is what is Carrier getting in exchange for this?

Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: That is the big question. You're right. And we will explore that. Sara, thanks so much.

Let's discuss all of this with CNN Politics executive editor Mark Preston and CNN political analyst David Gregory. Gentlemen, great to have you.

Mitt Romney. So they went to this fabulous dinner last night at Jean George here in New York. Very high end chi-chi restaurant. And they did not bring their wives, as originally was reported. They brought Reince Priebus. What's going on here?

CUOMO: Who paid? Did we pay? Did the government pay? Who paid? Do we know? Preston.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I would suspect that it was probably on the house. Because when they walked in--

CUOMO: That's not allowed.

PRESTON: Well, it is allowed, because he's not yet the president of the United States. Right? So--

CAMEROTA: But -- so Romney came out, and he had words of praise.


CAMEROTA: Donald Trump clearly has impressed him, I think we can assume from this.


CAMEROTA: So, where are we with this dance that's being done so publicly?

PRESTON: So a couple things, and I spoke to people last night about this after the dinner to try to get a feel for it.

First of all, for those inside the room, you know, they did it in a very public setting, of course. You know, which a lot of people say conjures up images of "The Apprentice," right, that he is actually auditioning people.

What's my understanding from the dinner is that it went swimmingly well, like, better than anyone could have expected. They got along very well. They were trading stories. And Romney is -- is very much on the top of the list. I mean, we always thought he was. There was some question whether Trump was trying to lead him on and then he'd cut him off at the end.

CAMEROTA: That's what we thought. When Kellyanne and Newt Gingrich came out and so publicly criticized him, it felt like this was some sort of public flogging of him.


CAMEROTA: But something seems to have turned the tables again.

PRESTON: Right. And two things on this right now. If you really listen and look at the words that Mitt Romney said last night, there'd been a lot of talk in the Trump campaign that Mitt Romney needed to publicly apologize, because he had been so against Donald Trump. He'd been so strongly critical of him. Well, if you really look at those words, it was kind of close to an apology, one.

CUOMO: Let's listen to them. Here's what he had to say.


ROMNEY: I happen to think that America's best days are ahead of us. I think you're going to see America continuing to lead the world in this century. And what I've seen through these discussions I've had with President-elect Trump, as well as what we've seen in his speech at the -- on the night of his victory, as well as the people he's selected to be part of this transition.

All of those things combined give me increasing hope that President- elect Trump is the very man that can lead us to that better future. Thank you.


CUOMO: So, David Gregory, the word I hear from inside the Trump camp is, boy, does Romney want it. He really wants it. Now that he's been around Trump more, he understands that this guy can get it done and that he was wrong and he'll say what we tell him to say so that he can get this job. It does seem that way with this kind of about-face that Romney is having.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The about face and the fact that now it's so very public that they got together again. The second dinner. The cameras capturing the scene. I think it would be difficult to walk away, certainly, on either end of it now.

But I think that there's no question, as I talk to Romney people, as well, that he wants to be part of this. He doesn't want to be left out and feels he can have a real influence.

And I do think, as Mark was saying, there's no question that, everything we know about Donald Trump, is he would like to see someone of the ilk of Mitt Romney come out in a contrite way and say, "You know what? I was wrong about this guy. He can actually get things done." If it's just that, if it's just an ago play, that would be disappointing.

I suspect that Trump has something else going on here, too. Which is he doesn't mind if there's public discord about this. He doesn't mind if top members of his team disagree with him and think this would be a betrayal to his top supporters. That he wants to have a very strong inside game. He wants to be accepted by the Republican establishment and by Washington; and he thinks that Mitt Romney can help him and can balance his views around the world.

I think those are positive points for Donald Trump, as we look at how he's building a team.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about some other cabinet posts. We now know Steve Mnuchin, treasury; Wilbur Ross, commerce. What should we know about these guys?

PRESTON: Well, a couple things. One, Mnuchin was the finance chair for Donald Trump's campaign. So in many ways, you know, he's rewarding those who are loyal to him, although we've seen some people that were loyal to him that he wasn't so loyal back. Chris Christie being one of those.

But Mnuchin is kind of a strange character, somebody who was a Goldman Sachs executive for many years and ran a hedge fund, ran into a little bit of trouble. You know, he was -- he was alleged -- there were allegations that he or his company would not allow minorities or wouldn't give mortgages out to minorities. In addition to that, they did acknowledge some kind of fraud on their

part. But he's also been a very successful movie producer.

Wilbur Ross, a very successful Democrat, mind you, whose job now is going to be at commerce to really try to broker trade deals for Donald Trump.

CUOMO: But both of them, David, represent something that's going to be a tough sell for Donald Trump. Of course, they have the votes, so they can make these confirmations happen. But it's about the process.

Ross and Mnuchin not known as blue-collar heroes. We'll remember Ross is -- you know, he's a takeover guy and made money in steel businesses and had that huge catastrophe with the mine and all the safety issues that went down when all those people died in the mine.

Mnuchin ran a mortgage-lending bank that was called by critics a foreclosure machine. Tough sells as being for the people.

GREGORY: Well, and just cue up Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others who are going to say, "Wait a minute. I thought you were draining the swamp and wanting to help middle-class folks. In fact, you're surrounding yourself with your -- your very wealthy cohort here.

And that is a big piece of this. Donald Trump and the business community, his friends who are in business, these are folks that he's bringing into the government. People that he has known. People that he respects. People who have similar views about trade, about regulation and about taxes.

It's his social group, too. I mean, Wilbur Ross spends time, a big part of his year down in Palm Beach, as does Donald Trump.

So right, the idea of draining the swamp and the kind of blue-collar heroes. Donald Trump was never going to be, you know, hanging out with blue-collar folks in America. That's not the point. He's got an agenda that people can sign onto. That's the difference.

And again, this is going to be a focus on redoing trade deals, ending certain regulation, cutting taxes, infrastructure, all of those things where I think Trump wants to spend a lot of his time.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about what is -- what looks like a big coup for the president-elect, and that is, Mark, that he has struck some sort of deal -- we don't know the terms -- with the air-conditioning company Carrier in Indiana, Mike Pence's home state. Where they were going to be moving 2,000 jobs to Mexico to save money. They were going to get much cheaper labor there. And he announced yesterday and Carrier sent out announcement that they are keeping 1,000 jobs in Indiana. That is a huge feather in his cap so soon.

[06:10:05] PRESTON: Yes, no doubt. And it was Carrier who actually announced it before Donald Trump officially came out and said he was going to do it. And we'll see them in Thursday, him being Donald Trump, as well as Mike Pence, going to Indianapolis and really doing a victory lap when it comes to, you know, this big coup for him. We should note, though, Carrier, owned by United Technologies, has $5.6 billion worth of business before the U.S. government. It's a defense contractor.

CAMEROTA: So there's some sort of deal there that--

CUOMO: Well, there's definitely a deal.

CAMEROTA: We don't know what it was.

CUOMO: But we kind of do know. They used the word "incentives" to keep the business here. And that means givebacks to business. And the concern becomes, if you are sweetening the pot for Carrier to stay and keep jobs, because they keep floating this number--


CUOMO: -- we are going to save $65 million in labor costs.

CAMEROTA: Right, right.

CUOMO: Why do they keep putting that number out there? It may encourage other businesses to say, "If you want me to say, I want to be paid to stay, also." So there's a concern about what this deal was. Lack of specifics matters here.

CAMEROTA: Ten seconds. David, quickly.

GREGORY: Remember when Republicans said we didn't pick winners and losers in the economy, there might be a new trend here.

CAMEROTA: OK. We have more to talk to you guys about. Stick around.

CUOMO: That was only, like, six seconds.

CAMEROTA: I know, but we're going to give him four back. Three weeks after his big win, Donald Trump wants to thank America. So the president-elect is going to take a victory lap in several swing states. Will we see candidate Trump at these bi rallies or someone with a different tone? Our political panel weighs in on that, next.


[06:15:29] CUOMO: President-elect Donald Trump has a message for his supporters. Thank you. And he is planning to deliver that message in person with a victory tour, a thank you tour through some of the swing states that put him in the White House.

Now, what will this look like? What is the goal? What might be the impact?

Let's bring back our panel, Mark Preston, David Gregory.

Brother Gregory, this is new. This is not something that we see as common practice, but kind of an intriguing idea. It's always good to be able to circle back to the people who brought you there. GREGORY: Look, this is a president-elect who has achieved and wants

more of direct contact with his supporters. And he, obviously, likes all of the imagery around being at a big rally and having people yelling and screaming for him as a contrast to the kind of scrutiny he's going to get in the news media, the major papers, on cable news and elsewhere. And he can create it, and he wants -- this is what -- this is what got him here.

And I think it allows him to work his material, too. To work a populist economic message, to campaign directly. It's kind of old- fashioned in that sense, and it's certainly an indication of the permanent campaign that Trump intends to wage, as well.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's not only the imagery, actually, David and Mark. He does like the personal touch. We know this guy. He likes to glad- hand people he likes. The roar of the crowd. He likes the one on one with people. So he'll be able to experience that. What do you think his tone will be? I mean, will he, Mark, back to campaign Donald Trump, or will it be kinder and gentler?

CUOMO: When have we seen that? He's pretty much one mode.

PRESTON: Right. And the only time we saw that was when he gave his speech on the next morning when he won, right?

No, I think, I mean, to David's point, he is like a plug. He needs to be plugged back into the wall to get energized. And he goes out and he gets these big crowds, and they're very laudatory for him. And they hang on every word that he says. And that's where, you know, drove him through the campaign.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But you can pot down the inflammatory. I mean, you can pot down -- a lot of that during the campaign, obviously, was "Lock her up" and the crowd would chant that. That's gone.

PRESTON: Right. But I mean, just look at the past few days here. You know, potting him down is -- it doesn't seem to be, you know -- he's not capable of doing so. He's already claimed voter fraud, which is false.

CUOMO: Right.

PRESTON: And then, of course, what he did yesterday, as well, with flag burning, as well. He is not the candidate that we're--

CUOMO: You don't want to mistake not having a direct opponent for a change in tone. He's just coming at the media right now as an opponent, specifically us, because he doesn't have a Clinton standing right in front of them.

But the man does like a pageant, David, you know. Look at what's going on with secretary of state. Is it really that big of deal who becomes secretary of state, especially with Trump wanting to be obviously isolationist? And yet he makes it into a pageant and all the drama follows. GREGORY: Well, because I think in this particular case, if he reaches

out to someone who was so pointed and personal and cutting in his condemnation of him that speaks to kind of reaching out, reaching beyond the campaign. That's a positive.

The other piece of it is like you said, it is a pageant. It's very public. He doesn't mind airing all these grievances. And there's this compartmentalization about Trump that's very difficult to get your head around and has been now for a year.

The fact that he can be tweeting false claims about voter fraud, that he can be talking about criminalizing the First Amendment. These are very worrisome signs about the incoming president-elect, and they can happen alongside more establishment, more mainstream moves that he's making in terms of filling out the government or moves he'd make on the economy.

These things are disturbing, and I don't know who around him is going to get him to stop just shooting off at the hip like that.

CAMEROTA: Well, Newt Gingrich has a suggestion about that. He publicly is talking about how to get him to stop from making these tweets. So let's listen to the former speaker.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think the worst thing he did was tweet the other night about illegal votes. I mean, you know, presidents of the United States can't randomly tweet without having somebody check it out. I mean, it just -- it makes you wonder about whatever else he's doing. It undermines much more than just a single tweet.


CUOMO; That's exactly right. And that's from a huge supporter of his.

CAMEROTA: One of the top transition team.

CUOMO: People say, oh, you want to cherry pick everything that comes out of him? Yes. Because he's president-elect. And Mark, when you say something as president-elect, it does refer to your state of mind, you know, to what competency you have on other things. And there it is, his own friend saying, "Stop it. It makes you look foolish."

[06:20:08] PRESTON: Right. You know, when we say words matter. I mean, when you're the president, when you're president of the United States, the leader of the free world, a word matters. You can change markets. You can influence foreign policy decisions. You can go to war.

So, that's why he needs to be very careful. But you know, Donald Trump doing these rallies, Donald Trump using Twitter. You know what he's doing, is that he's cutting out the media. He's going directly with his own message on his own terms, trying to sell his own vision. CAMEROTA: Hey, David, very quickly. Is Nancy Pelosi going to keep

her leadership today?

GREGORY: Well, it appears that she will, but it also seems like this is a proxy fight for the future of the Democratic Party, which has a lot of work to do. It has its own populist strain, and it's got real questions about how it's lost touch with working-class voters. So I think all of that is really on display here in this test that she's getting.

CUOMO: For her to be challenged in this way is unique. I think that part is going to you're going to see something happen or there will be a lot of bad things happen in the midterms.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, guys.

CUOMO: All right. So we have news of these raging wildfires in Tennessee. They're still going, and now they've turned deadly. Wait until you see the trail of destruction. Thousands are being forced to flee their homes. Others are missing. We're at the zone, next.


[06:25:19] CAMEROTA: Raging wildfires in eastern Tennessee killing three people. And several families this morning are still looking for missing loved ones. The wildfires consuming 15,000 acres, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses.

CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is live in Gatlinburg with the latest. How's it going there, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we are getting a nice little round of rain. Unfortunately, along with that, we're getting strong winds, as well as lightning. But firefighters still fighting those blazes as people here in this evacuation center say they are living a horror movie.



GRAY: Search and rescue efforts under way this morning in fire- ravaged eastern Tennessee.

GOV. BILL HASLAM (R), TENNESSEE: This is the largest fire in the last 100 years in the state of Tennessee.

GRAY: Firefighters continuing to put out flames and bracing for the possibility of spot fires after a terrifying 24 hours that left at least 250 homes and businesses destroyed. And forced more than 14,000 residents and tourists to flee to nearby shelters.

KIP MCLAUGHLIN, EVACUATED TOURISTS: You just don't know what to do. I mean, you sit there and you're expecting to come on a vacation and, again, find out that you can't get back to your family. GRAY: Drivers capturing terrifying video as they scrambled to escape

the fires Monday night. At least three people have died since the flames spread with little warning. Officials now say the fire is human caused.

Denise Bearden and her fiance, Mark Berzschawel, were asleep when the inferno reached their doorsteps. Police rescuing them just in time.

MARK BERZSCHAWEL, EVACUATED RESIDENT: Flames were just everywhere. On both sides of the road. Crossing the road. Embers flying everywhere. It was a nightmare.

GRAY: Like many others, they are unsure when they can return home or what they'll find.

DENISE BEARDEN, EVACUATED RESIDENT: That's the hard part. You just don't know if it's still going to be there or not. And we may go back to absolutely nothing. But we have each other. That's all that matters. We made it out with our lives.

GRAY: Others praying their loved ones are safe. Michael Reed has not heard from his wife or two daughters since Monday night as they tried to escape.

MICHAEL REED, WIFE AND DAUGHTERS MISSING: I've called the other shelters here, and they said she isn't there. Just hoping for a miracle.


GRAY: And, Chris, the vibe here at the evacuation center is unbelievably positive. Everyone trying to uplift each other, but also a sense of pure desperation, because there's no word on when they'll be able to get back to their homes or what they'll find -- Chris.

CUOMO: And look, it's hard there, because there's like a communication blackout there right now. But for those people in waiting, boy, is that torture. Jennifer, thank you very much for keeping us on top of the progress there.

We're also following breaking news out of Alabama. Three people there lost their lives from a tornado that tore through Jackson County overnight. Several others are hurt, as well. Thousands are without power after these storms damaged homes in neighboring Mississippi, as well.

CAMEROTA: Closing arguments expected today in the trial of former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. He's charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott, who you'll remember was running away unarmed. On Tuesday, Slager testified in his own defense, and CNN's Boris Sanchez has been following this for us in Charleston with more. What have you learned, Boris?

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

Some very emotional and uncomfortable moments in court yesterday as Michael Slager took the stand in his own defense, the prosecution grilling him and showing that now infamous video of his encounter with Walter Scott that was shot by a witness. The prosecution going frame by frame second by second in excruciating detail, asking Michael Slager about where he was looking at certain points in the video, how he was moving his feet and shifting his weight; and then repeatedly asking him how Walter Scott could have been a threat to his life if he was so far away, trying to run away.

Here's a bit of that exchange between Slager and the prosecution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've seen the video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you heard that he was 18 feet away. Would you agree that he was not a threat to you with that Taser without a cartridge from that distance?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So you're going to stick to that?

SLAGER: Yes, and the reason is, from 18 feet, he could have turned around and attacked me again.


SANCHEZ: That led to another awkward and tense moment where the prosecution literally handed Michael Slager a tape measure and asked him to hold it. The prosecutor then moving across the courtroom 18 feet. The 18 feet symbolized the distance between Michael Slager and Walter Scott when Slager first opened fire.

The prosecutor held a tape measure behind him, turned around and asked, again, how Walter Scott could have been threat to his life from that distance.