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Mitt Romney Praises Trump after Posh Dinner; Trump Picks Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary; Obamacare ArchitectSpeaks Out on Trump's Health Secretary Pick; 3 Dead, Several Missing in Gatlinburg Wildfires. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 30, 2016 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

[07:00:02] We're following a lot of news this morning. There's some important weather information to get you. Let's get right to it.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The people he selected are solid and effective, capable people.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: He's got a choice to make as to who he feels most comfortable with.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Washington Republicans plotting a war on seniors. Democrats will not let them win.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect touting a deal to save 1,000 manufacturing jobs in Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he does it, kudos to him. I will believe it when I see it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Smoke was so thick we couldn't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flames were just everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the largest fire in the last 100 years of the state of Tennessee.



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

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

Up first, Mitt Romney publicly praising President-elect Donald Trump after months of calling him phony and a fraud. So this private meeting comes, of course, amid speculation that President-elect Trump is considering Mitt Romney, still, for secretary of state.

So, will these campaign enemies somehow become allies?

CUOMO: The power of a fancy dinner. We'll get into that and what it means. Also, CNN has learned Trump has two top posts decided. The people who will decide a big part of your economic future. The president-elect is also touting a deal to save 1,000 manufacturing jobs in Indiana. We're going to look at how he got that done.

Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray live in Washington. The president- elect busy on Twitter, once again.

MURRAY: He is absolutely. He's busy on Twitter. He's busy fleshing out his cabinet. The announcements we're expecting this morning are in the vein of the Donald Trump loyalists. We're expecting him to pick Steve Mnuchin, who is a campaign finance chair, who has been a close adviser to be the treasury secretary.

The question is, will loyalty matter for all of these positions? Donald Trump still not showing his hand on which way he's leaning on secretary of state. 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're expecting Donald Trump and Mike Pence to actually visit that Carrier plant on Thursday to tout making good on one of their campaign promises.

But I want to bring you to Donald Trump's tweet storm of the morning, because he is teasing another public appearance. That's a press conference on December 15 in New York City. Donald Trump saying he's going to appear with his children and basically roll out the plans for how he's going to sever ties with his businesses.

It's interesting. In this sort of spree of tweets he points out that technically, technically there is no conflict of interest law for the president. But says he thinks it's visually important to show how he is going to be separating himself from his business. As of today, it's been 126 days since he has held a formal press conference. So I'm sure there will be plenty of questions for the president-elect come December.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: We're going to get deeper into what Trump's obligations are as president. There is no law, but absence of a specific law does not mean absence of responsibility.

[07:05:04] Also, to make it official. Breaking news in the transition of power, President-elect Donald Trump has made two big picks to his cabinet.

First Wall Street veteran, Goldman Sachs partner former Steven Mnuchin, confirming on another network just moments ago he will become the next U.S. treasury secretary. Mnuchin worked as Trump's campaign finance chair for the last few months. He's a Hollywood insider now, a movie executive. He's produced two feature films, and he's financed other films like "Avatar" and "X-men."

President-elect Trump also choosing billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be his commerce secretary. Ross made a name for himself in business by rebuilding faltering companies.

We're going to have much more on these appointments throughout the morning -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. We are joined now by Republican Congresswoman from Tennessee Marcia Blackburn. She is a vice chair on Donald Trump's transition team.

Good morning, Congresswoman.


CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this dinner last night first between Mitt Romney and the president-elect. Where do you think Mr. Trump's head is now on Mitt Romney?

BLACKBURN: What you're seeing from Mr. Trump is extending the hand of friendship and fellowship to Mr. Romney. I think this sends the appropriate message. I was delighted to see that they took the time to have dinner last night. I just wish I had been there for that chocolate dessert. I'm such a chocoholic. Alisyn, I think you are, too.

CAMEROTA: I am, and it's a fabulous restaurant. I would have skipped the frog leg appetizer.

BLACKBURN: I couldn't have gone there either. You know, I would have skipped that. But I tell you what, let's line up for that chocolate cake.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that the chocolate cake and any of the other tea leaves that we're reading from this dinner suggest that Mitt Romney is going to get secretary of state?

BLACKBURN: Mr. Trump is going to know the answer to that. And I am fully confident that what he is going to do is build out a cabinet and a team that will work closely with him. It's a heavy lift when you look at reorganizing, reinventing, right sizing the federal government. It has grown so big and bureaucratic and bloated.

And we have complaints all the time from our constituents about labor rules and the EPA and the overreach there.


BLACKBURN: And I think that what he's going to do is find the best pick. And leadership is about putting the right person in the right cue. And that's what he's doing.

CAMEROTA: When do you think you'll have that answer? What is his time frame?

BLACKBURN: Well, he's ahead of schedule, actually. If you look at past presidents how they built out their cabinet and what he is doing is going through and putting this first wave, as you would call it, the secretaries and the cabinet-level positions in place.

And then he's going to move on to what you would call the second and third wave. The deputies and the assistants and the heads of different agencies that are going to be a part of going through and making certain that the federal government is to the point that it's workable. It's gotten to the point it's not workable. Anybody that's tried to call the IRS and get a straight answer knows that.

CAMEROTA: So, for the first wave, do you think that we'll be hearing something in the next 48 hours about secretary of state?

BLACKBURN: I'm not sure about that. I think that Mr. Trump is going through his vetting timetable. And when he is comfortable and feels that he's on the same page with someone, I think he'll move forward and make that announcement.

I appreciate the personal touch that he is bringing to every one of these choices. The amount of time that he is spending sitting down with individuals and seeing where they are, what they would do and how that meshes with his vision.

You know, if you've got your team on the right page with you, then it is going to be a much easier task in leading that team. And, so, I think he's doing, he's going about it the right way. Little bit untraditional, but I think it's the right way.

CAMEROTA: We do know that he has named Steve Mnuchin for treasury secretary.


CAMEROTA: Here's what the DNC has put out about that pick. I will read it for you. "So much for draining the swam. Nominating Steve Mnuchin to be treasury secretary, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs alumnus who preyed on homeowners struggling during the recession is a slap in the face to voters who hoped he would shake up Washington."

Your response?

BLACKBURN: I would expect nothing less from the DNC.

CAMEROTA: But do you think what their accusation that he's not -- I mean, that he preyed on homeowners.


CAMEROTA: That he is not the right person who personifies draining the swamp.

BLACKBURN: What they're not doing -- what they're not doing is looking at the whole and total of his experience. And he brings a wide and vast experience. He is a talented individual. Personally, I appreciate the fact that he has an appreciation for the value of intellectual property. Not only does that underpin our economy, it underpins our trade. [07:10:07] So much of our trade now is based on intellectual property

and intellectual-property-based product. When you look at entertainment being our No. 2 trade item. And this is an export for us.

So, to have someone that, yes, understands the financial systems that, yes, understands that entire underpinning of the economy and appreciates the value of intellectual property and what that brings to the table, I think that is a -- a rounding of experience that generally we're not going to see in someone.

And that's one of the good things with building out this cabinet. There is an interjection of a wholeness and a roundness of experience that maybe you not have seen in previous nominations. Take a look at Elaine Chao for Department of Transportation. She knows how to run a department. She ran Labor very efficiently when she was the secretary of labor.


BLACKBURN: She and I had the opportunity to work together with General Petraeus' wife, Holly. And worked on some military spouse jobs programs that went into place at Ft. Campbell, which is located in my district, right there on the Kentucky/Tennessee border innovative.


BLACKBURN: And the very innovative, entrepreneurial government is what the American people want to see. Downsizing of the federal government. Devolution of power and money back to the states and localities. It's time for it, and it's what you're going to get.

CAMEROTA: Marcia Blackburn, thanks so much for sharing your perspective.

BLACKBURN: Good to be with you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's get over to Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Another big pick from the president-elect. Health and human services secretary, Tom Price. What is he going to do with Obamacare? How will he make sure that all the people that need care get it? It's a tough bar, next.


[07:16:01] CUOMO: President-elect Trump's pick for health and human services secretary is Congressman Tom Price. He has definite ideas that he's written up in several plans about how to repeal and replace Obamacare. Many of them did not get support from his own leadership. They were seen as extreme.

So, will he be able to keep everyone who currently is insured with care and make it less affordable at the same time? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel joins us now with his reaction. Zeke is currently

the chair of medical ethics department at the University of Pennsylvania. He's also a former advisor former of health policy to the director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House.

Doctor, it's good to have you with us, as always. So you know who Tom Price is. You know what he thinks about Obamacare. The important discussion is about what he'll do. It seems as though the mandate is going to go away.

An advocate of his just on the show, Congressman Burgess said it makes no sense the mandate. We're going to get rid of it. It's an invasion of liberty. We're going to create cost effectiveness without forcing everybody to buy in. Your thought?

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, you cannot have the pre-existing disease exclusion that insurance companies can't deny health care, health insurance to people who have cancer or heart disease or multiple sclerosis or other conditions without something like a mandate that forces everyone to be in the system and get insurance and pay in before, when they need it and before they need it.

You can't just have people come in and get insurance when they're sick and get a cost-effective system. We know that doesn't work. It's been proven over and over that it doesn't work. So the Republicans are either not going to have that pre-existing disease exclusion for the insurance company, which, by the way, 80 percent of the American public wants. Or they are going to have to find some other way, without calling it a mandate, of actually getting people in and buying insurance. Otherwise, there's no cost effectiveness to their plan.

CUOMO: He says that we're going to put a condition on the pre- existing condition coverage that, as long as you continue your coverage for 10 to 18 months, the companies have to keep covering you and that's how they'll take care of that; and they'll go back to the idea of a high-risk pool where you put money in. You're going to put in millions of dollars to fund that threshold instead of a mandate. They'll pay money in to support the high-risk health care.

EMANUEL: So there are two things to note. First, requiring you to have continuous insurance. That sounds like a mandate to me without calling it a mandate. All right. It's a requirement on people to have insurance; otherwise they can't get insurance. So you don't have to call it a mandate for it to be a mandate and for you to, quote/unquote, "force people with -- people to buy insurance."

The second thing is these high-risk pools. Tom -- Tom Price has actually proposed very little money for the high-risk pools. Not enough to cover by any stretch of the imagination all the people, which -- which means many people with diseases such as emphysema and kidney failure will not be able to get insurance in the high-risk pools. And, by the way, high-risk pools are terribly inefficient way of providing coverage. And so, it's not going to be the most efficient way of spending

government money. So, you can get some people in high-risk pools. It's the way Tom Price has suggested it with $3 billion is substantially underfunded. Even his colleague, Paul Ryan, suggested $25 billion to cover the people in high-risk pools.

So, having a small amount of money will not do it. I might also point out one very big difference between Tom Price and President-elect Trump. And that is their support for Medicare. Tom Price has never been a supporter of Medicare. He wants to privatize it. He wants to get rid of it as a government program, even though it's enormously popular.

[07:20:05] And President-elect Trump has said that he wants to keep Medicare. He thinks it's a wonderful program, and he's been very supportive of it during the campaign. So, that actually is a big difference between the two of them. I don't know how they're going to sort that one out, because it's a major policy divide.

CUOMO: But Price loses, right, because he's the cabinet secretary and the other man is president of the United States. One of the other things that came up in the offering. And again, Zeke, we'll do this in phases. Right? Because we're going to have to see what gets proposed. We'll get you a chance to weigh in. People get a sense of this.

EMANUEL: Right now we're speculating.

CUOMO: Well, but he's put out points from his prior plans that you have to believe he still believes in. Otherwise, they wouldn't know how to pick him or not. So his ideas have been out there.

And one of them that he is big on is saying, you know, "Even Bill Clinton talked about all these high premiums that everybody is getting. You're getting twice as much and getting half the care. We're going to help these people who are paying for their own health care by giving them tax credits towards the money to offset the money that they pay for healthcare."

And to a lot of voters, that sounds like a great idea. What's your critique on that?

EMANUEL: Well, say you're 35 years old. Mr. Price's suggestion is you get a $1,200 tax credit. And let me tell you what your health insurance bill is likely to be. Likely to be between $4,000 and $5,000.

At 35 years of age, that means you're going to spend $2,800 to $3,800 of your own money for insurance. In addition, Representative Price's proposal will give tax credits to people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk to buy insurance. That makes no economic sense.

And finally, his tax credits are not linked to how much you earn. So, poorer people get the same tax credit as people who make, say, $100,000, $150,000. That also doesn't make sense, because they have a less ability to buy insurance. One of the consequences is that independent analyses of these kinds of proposals like Representative Price's have suggested somewhere around 9, 12, 15 million people will lose coverage compared to Obamacare. That is a huge number.

These tax credits, they are the -- Obamacare has tax credits, too, in them. That's part of the subsidies that they get for buying insurance on the exchanges. And the Obama tax credits are more generous than Representative Price's. So, if you like Representative Price's, you should like the subsidies under Obamacare even more.

CUOMO: Well, and one of the big question marks going forward is how will they keep all the people covered who are covered currently, especially poorer people. Zeke, we'll check back with you about this.

EMANUEL: Let me just suggest, independent analyses of Representative Ryan's plan, Senator Hatch's plan and Representative Price's plan have shown that they will not keep as many people covered as President Obama's Affordable Care Act has kept covered. They will have millions of people losing coverage. So, there should be no question about that. That's what the analyses suggest.

CUOMO: We understand the concern, but we have to see what they actually do, and we'll come back to you when we know. Zeke Emanuel, thank you very much, appreciate it, as always.

EMANUEL: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: How are Donald Trump supporters feeling about what the president-elect has delivered so far? Up next, the reporter who crisscrossed the country in the days before the election, talking to Trump supporters, brings us their thoughts now.


[07:27:25] CUOMO: The intense wildfire fight in eastern Tennessee has now turned deadly. Three people have lost their lives so far. Several families are still looking for missing loved ones. The wildfires have consumed 15,000 acres. Hundreds of homes, businesses burned to the ground.

We have CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray live in Gatlinburg with the latest, and the scariest stories are the unknown. People who are looking for their families in these community centers. What is stalling all the communications? Is it just the frenzy of fighting the fires or are coms down? What are they telling you?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, a lot of these areas are blocked off, because we still have active wildfires. And so I think crews want to make sure that those areas are safe before they can get back in.

We just talked with one man, and he said he was given a list of addresses in his neighborhood. Thirty-six homes were burned. He thinks his is OK. So that's one more step forward to giving people at least a sense of peace or a sense of closure during these horrific times.



GRAY (voice-over): 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 of 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.