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Donald Trump Fills out Economic Team with Cabinet Picks; Mitt Romney Meets with Donald Trump; Protests Continue against Dakota Access Pipeline. Interview with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan; Trump- He Will In "No Way Have a Conflict of Interest". Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 30, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, November 30th, 8:00 in the east. Donald Trump's economic team taking shape. We now know his pick for treasury secretary. It will be Wall Street veteran Steve Mnuchin, and we know that billionaire Wilbur Ross will be his choice for commerce secretary. Both men confirming this morning that they got the nod.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This comes after Mr. Trump dined with Mitt Romney last night, and the question remains whether Mr. Trump will make his former vocal critics the nation's top diplomat. And this morning Mr. Trump made another big announcement, so we begin our hour with CNN's Sara Murray live in Washington with all the latest. Hi, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Look, the Mnuchin pick for treasury is real little an indication of how much Donald Trump does value loyalty for some of these high level positions. Mnuchin has been a close economic adviser to Donald Trump. He was a finance chairman for his campaign, and all of this sort of helped him end up getting the nod for this cabinet-level position.

The big question, though, is whether Donald Trump is ready to put some of those loyalties aside particularly when it comes to filling that coveted secretary of state slot.


MURRAY: Donald Trump and Mitt Romney putting their past differences aside, at least for dinner. The two talking foreign policy, alongside Trump 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: Do we have the next secretary of state right here?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: We'll see what happens.

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

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had another discussion of 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 to a nod 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, of 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 president-elect making his economic team official this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you, gentlemen, confirm that this has happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can, indeed. We're thrilled to be here and we're thrilled to work for the president-elect, and honored to have these positions.

MURRAY: Former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin is 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: Commerce secretary, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time will tell.

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


MURRAY: Now, Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be doing a little bit of a victory lap on Thursday. They're expected to visit the Carrier plant in Indiana. Meanwhile, Trump is on Twitter teasing another public appearance, saying coming up December 15th he is going to hold a press conference with his children where he's going to explain how he's going to sever ties with his businesses. In this tweet storm he points out that he's not legally obligated to do it but that he thinks it is visually important. If he does take questions and hold a formal press conference, it will be his first time doing so in a long while. The last one was in July. Back to you, Chris. CUOMO: Again, when it comes to conflicts, the absence of a specific

law does not mean there is an absence of responsibility.

Let's talk about what we know and what we don't know. Let's bring our panel, Paul Begala, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, John Phillips, CNN political commentator and Donald Trump supporter, and Kevin Sheridan, former senior adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Paul Begala, Donald Trump gathered a lot of momentum from the populist segment of politics in saying I'm going to be for the blue collar again. Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs guy, widely criticized for running what was called a foreclosure machine, and Wilbur Ross, a guy who buys companies and figures out how to make the most of their failing assets. Do you think this works to Trump's favor of being for the blue collar guy?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he won fair and square, and he won on a populist message, but he's not putting a populist government in. He said he would drain the swamp. He's just bringing in bigger alligators, a couple of billionaires and a couple of Washington insiders. Mr. Ross and Mr. Mnuchin, billionaires from Wall Street.

[08:05:00] And then on the other side Congressman Tom Price from Georgia, longtime chairman of the budget committee. He's a D.C. insider of the first order. Elaine Chao, very able woman, has served in the cabinet before but has been in Washington longer than the Washington monuments.

CUOMO: Longest serving secretary of labor.

BEGALA: Right, and a good person, but this is not draining the swamp.

CUOMO: And McConnell's wife, also.

BEGALA: She is, But you shouldn't hold that against her. She's suffered enough.


CUOMO: I'm saying it gives her a pedigree. John Phillips, these announcements, why do you like them, specifically Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well Trump's campaign was always aspirational. It was ways, I'm rich, you can rich, too. I'm going to go out and hire the best. I'm going to hire the brightest. I'm going to go out and bring in skilled negotiators, people that are corporate sharks that know how to get the best deal possible, and they're going to go in and they're going to cut that deal for you. And I think that's what we're picks.

He's also, he also ran on an outsider campaign, and this was an outsider election. Voters wanted a change in course. They wanted someone to go in and bring a different look to the ballgame. And that's also what these outsiders who he's putting in these cabinet positions are going to do.

CUOMO: When people learn more about what they did, though, there's going to be some blowback. We'll see how he handles it.

Kevin, Mitt Romney, what, how good was this dinner that he came out of this in a complete about-face about all the things that he said about Donald Trump? How good is the food at Jean Georges and should I get there with my wife right away to try to heal some of my wrongs?

KEVIN SHERIDAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT: We would all be lucky to dine there. Look, we don't know what was discussed at that dinner. But we do know from all the signals that they're still having serious discussions. I still say this is a good sign for the party and the country that these two men are talking. Ultimately we don't know who Donald pick -- Donald Trump is going to pick, and this is his decision to make. If he wants it, you know, if he wants to talk to the best men and the best women in the country, he's doing it right now. He's talked to an impressive A-list of people going in and out of Trump Tower. And he's, you know, by all accounts his picks have been excellent. And, you know, we'll just have to see what happens this week.

PHILLIPS: Chris, can I object to something you said?

CUOMO: Go ahead, John.

PHILLIPS: It's only possible for dinner to be so good when you've got two teetotalers at the table.


CUOMO: I would strongly disagree with that. I think food always makes the meal. But Kevin, let me get back to you about this for a second. I get why this might optically be good for Trump, to show that he can put his arms around people. But I'm saying for Mitt Romney's perspective, you know the man and the politician. He talked about Trump's character. Not about, you know, things like, oh, let's see what he does. Let's wait and see. He said that he's a conman and a bad business guy. And now he's either not saying those things or pretending they don't exist anymore. Why?

SHERIDAN: Well, in 2016 everyone in the Republican party said pretty nasty things about each other, and I think this is a good sign that they are able to get beyond that and have serious discussions about the future of the country. And that's what this is all about. This isn't about anyone's personal pride. And it's not about what happened in the campaign. This is about what's best for the country.

And I think both men, you know, believe in a sense of duty, and I certainly think Mitt Romney does. We don't know ultimately who he's going to offer this position to. I think if he offers it to Mitt Romney, he'll have to make that decision at that time. Only time will tell if that's going to happen. But, look, he's talking to great people. He can't go wrong with his secretary of state pick. He's talking to at least three or four really excellent picks. CUOMO: Now, John Phillips, Carrier, Trump is waving his victory flag,

look, I got jobs to stay here. I'm not even president yet, imagine what's going to happen. Do you know how he got Carrier to stay?

PHILLIPS: Look, he ran on the theme of keeping jobs in the United States and not incentivizing companies to move out --

CUOMO: I know, but do you know how he did it? Because there's a real concern of people looking at the deal, what inducements mean. You know, are these taxpayers in Indiana basically paying to keep their own jobs? Do we know? And should we know? Should we know the details of how he kept Carrier's jobs?

PHILLIPS: Yes, look, that is not something that's uncommon. Those of us here in the state of California do that all the time with film subsidies to try to keep the studios from moving to New Mexico and Canada and Louisiana. It's what you have to do to protect your economy. We're a company town. We're a Hollywood town. And if Hollywood leave California, we're toast. And if manufacturing leaves the Midwest, which they have in large numbers, that area is going to be economically depressed forever. If they want to bounce back, if they want to come back, they have to keep those jobs there.

CUOMO: Is it as simple as that, Paul? First of all, the United States is the number one manufacturing economy in the world. Everybody thinks it's China. It's not. China is growing much more quickly. But does it matter how those jobs were kept and what that means for how other companies may come to the government and asked the same --

BEGALA: That's the problem. I actually applaud him using the bully pulpit to beat up on a powerful corporation to keep jobs in America.

CUOMO: Did he beat them up or did he pay them off?

BEGALA: That's what we don't know. What we need to do is change the policy.

[08:10:00] For years there's been bills in Congress to have an exit tax, they call it, tax companies that ship jobs overseas instead of giving them tax cuts. President Obama has proposed that year after year and the Republican Congress has killed it.

Now president-elect Trump seems to have the same position. I hope he can pass a law because if he doesn't have a law that sets the same tax code for everybody, punishing jobs going overseas, rewarding jobs here at home, every CEO will know that they can jack up Donald Trump, they can hold their jobs hostage and get a special deal. We don't want that. As a one-off it's a good thing, though.

CUOMO: Absolutely. You want more jobs in the country, especially if they're good jobs. Let me bounce back to up for one quick one Kevin. The idea of conflicts, they're real. Donald Trump dealing with that in his Twitter feed this morning, saying they're there going to be legal documents separating him completely from the company and, you know, to string him up to be just about the country. Do you think that we should see what's in those documents?

SHERIDAN: Look, Donald Trump, this is the biggest cloud that could be hanging over his presidency, because he does not want the idea that everything he's doing is a conflict of interest. So we're just going to have to see what happens on December 15th and what his legal team, who's excellent, is going to come up with to be able to separate him from his business. And that's not going to be an easy task because he is his business and his brand is obviously him, and that's not an easy task, and we've never really seen this before. But I have trust in his legal team that they're going to be able to figure out some way to separate him from his business and --

CUOMO: Right, but as Reagan said trust but verify. Do you think the media, or at least Congress oversight committee should see the documents so we can have confidence in what is being done in the name of the United States?

SHERIDAN: I have confidence that he will present something. I'm not sure exactly which documents we'll see ultimately. But I think he's going to have to present something to the American people, and you know, instill in the American people some trust that he's going to do everything he can for the American people and not for his business. And that's just going to have to come in time when his legal team comes out with their December 15th announcement.

CUOMO: Kevin, John, Paul, thank you, as always. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: All right, Chris, we want to get an update on another big story that is unfolding this week, and that's the North Dakota pipeline. Thousands of veterans are now pledging to act as human shields for protesters who are blocking the Dakota access pipeline. All of this as calls for the demonstrators to leave grow stronger.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live near Cannonball, North Dakota, with the latest. Sara, what is the latest there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing the morning prayers here in the camp. This is the largest camp for the Standing Rock Sioux and all their supporters. This is also the camp that the governor has said he wants evacuated. He's ordered an evacuation. There was also some word from law enforcement that they were going to stop people from being able to come in and out of the camp and stop supplies. But then they sort of backtracked, both backtracked on that saying, look, we're worried about the weather. We may ticket people, but we're not going to actually stop people from moving in and out, and bringing in for example food. But I do want to let you hear from one of the tribal members who reacted to the governor's statement that he was trying to people safe by making them evacuate from this camp, and they aren't going anywhere.


WICAHPI KSAPA, TRIBAL HEADSMAN: The governor, if you want to make this safer, then stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Stop the whole thing completely. You didn't want it in Bismarck, but you want to poison our people, you want to poison the rest of the people? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the only way that anyone is going to stop?


SIDNER: And that is the sentiment here. There are no longer just hundreds of people but thousands of people who are inside this camp. And as you can see the temperatures are frigid. There's a very large amount of snow that is covering the tepees and the yurts. But people are saying they're not going anywhere. And they have set up new checkpoints here so that you have to basically get permission to come into this camp.

CUOMO: All right, very cold, and yet at the same time the tension heating up. We'll stay on the story, Sara. Stay warm. Thank you.

So could there be change for Democrats in congressional leadership? Most insiders are saying they think House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi keeps the job, but she's facing an unusual challenge. What will she have to pledge to do differently to keep her job? One of her supporters joins us next.



[08:18:01] REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: I think we're within striking distance. I can tell you that for sure. And, you know, there's a lot of members still out there who haven't committed or being very, very quiet. And they, you know, could break either way.

So I feel really, really good about the campaign we've run. I think we've been very clear. I think we've been very respectful of Leader Pelosi. But we do need change.


CAMEROTA: All right. That was Congressman Tim Ryan, addressing confidence before the vote to become leader of the Democrats today. Ryan is trying to unseat incumbent Nancy Pelosi who has held a leadership role since 2003.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. She is supporting Mrs. Pelosi to keep her position as House minority leader.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for being here.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: Good morning. It's good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: What do you think Tim Ryan's chances are at this upset?

DINGELL: I think Nancy Pelosi's going to be re-elected as leader this morning.

I have a great deal of respect for Tim. He gets in his gut like I do, and said what was happening in the Midwest. But ours is not the only issue that matters in a very diverse caucus. And I say Nancy has been a good leader at pulling ought of the district issues together which we have to be to be united to take on some of the challenges we're going to be facing in this next Congress.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Ryan was on NEW DAY yesterday and I asked him what his beef is with Nancy Pelosi's leadership and he basically said it comes down to math him. He said she had not delivered on winning, and he said that you all are down 60 seats since 2010. He says that's the smallest number in the Democratic caucus in 87 years.

How can you argue with that logic?

DINGELL: Because I don't think it's one person. I think that one of the things that we've all got to start recognizing as members that we're all part of that. And we need somebody who is battle tested.

Donald Trump has made clear he's going to privatize Social Security, privatize Medicare. He's going to try to develop a Muslim registry. We have to have somebody who is not afraid to take on a fight.

[08:20:02] That it's going to represent everybody and bring us all together.

I've had very long talks with the leader over the last two years about what's happening in the Midwest and I know she hears them. But the discontent you've heard also, members of the Black Caucus, the coastal versus the different geographical regions, you can't go into this and be a leader and only focus on one thing.

And the presidential campaign is what -- where some of the failures occurred in this last election, it was most decidedly a down ticket effect. Nancy also won a majority back when we were in the minority.

We've got to have change. We've got to bring in young people. She's doing that. She's listened to the discontent and is bringing in new voices and finding ways that younger members, newly elected members are going to be able to participate in the caucus, as well.

CAMEROTA: I mean, but it does come down to geography for Congressman Ryan at least and it did for the election. I mean, his point is that he, being from Youngstown, Ohio, has his finger on the pulse more of the working-class voters that are the bread and butter, or were, of the Democratic Party, that seemed this year to go for Donald Trump.

So, I mean, what, what about that? That he has this -- he can channel them better, he says, than Nancy Pelosi.

DINGELL: I'm going to tell you. I'm not going any place and I don't disagree with Tim Ryan when he talks about we did not connect with that. As you know, because I've said it multiple times on this show during the last 18 months, there are problems in the Midwest. We're not connecting with working men and women.

But that's all of our responsibility. Nancy understood it. She tried to do some things in the caucus like trade that there were issues. That was a major issue for us.

Donald Trump understood trade was an issue last year when we tried to talk to people and get them to understand what was going on, no one took it seriously until the day after the election. I don't happen to think that that was Leader Pelosi's challenge. I think she tried to bring us together being respectful of a White House, being respectful of a presidential candidate, and navigate a trade in the House of Representatives better than almost any leader could.

And that's what we needed. I love him, and he and I are going to fight for those working men and women. We've got to do that in the caucus, but a leader has to bring in all of the disparate parts of the caucus, and that's why I feel so strongly.

This is -- we are in for the battle of our lifetime these next two years and we need somebody who has heard the discontent but knows how to bring us together.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, Tim Ryan said that he's using a sports analogy and that he just goes which wins, you know? Did you win or did you lose? He's saying that in terms of the wins column, that she has not delivered.

What do you -- just so our viewers understand, what do you think the thing is over these past years of leadership that Nancy Pelosi has delivered on?

DINGELL: What do I think she's delivered? I think she has kept us together as a caucus during some of the past battles. You know it's very hard to be a Democratic minority leader with a White House presidential leader. I have been very impressed with how Nancy has listened to a diverse caucus and tried to make sure that everybody has a seat at the table.

I know that my issues aren't the only issues that have had to play these next years. I'm really worried about what we're going to do. The issue I'm most worried about, Medicare. They're going to move to privatize Medicare right out of the box in January.

Do you know how many seniors we have out there that are scared to death that had been crying? I need somebody who is going to pull us all together and put together a battleground plan on that, and that's why I'm supporting her, because I hear her ready to do that.

CAMEROTA: OK. Congresswoman Dingell, we do appreciate you always coming on and sharing your candid thoughts with us on NEW DAY. It's great to have you. Thanks so much.

DINGELL: Thank you.


CUOMO: Donald Trump tweeting about something relevant? He's saying he's going to address the future of his business next month. He says he wants to avoid conflicts of interest. Can he do that? Is putting billionaires in the cabinet a conflict for him? We'll take it apart in "The Bottom Line".


[08:28:14] CUOMO: Donald Trump tweeting this morning, don't roll your eyes, he's talking about something that matters to you. He has these conflicts of interest with his business that seem apparent to most, including him. He says he's going to have big meeting on December 15th with his kids where he's going to have legal documents drawn up to separate him from his business interests so that he will, quote, "in no way have conflicts of interest."

Can he do that? Is this simple enough?

CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic", Ron Brownstein and CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast", Jackie Kucinich.

Ron, one of the cute things that Trump has done with this is say, "The law says I could do both."


CUOMO: That's misleading. There is no specific law about this because it was never anticipated. But certainly, the Constitution and the ethics requirements of the office made clear that you can't run a business and run the country. So, what does he need to do?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, in fact, almost every ethics lawyer you will talk to, maybe I can take out the almost in that sentence, would say that the answer here, the only real answer, is for Trump to liquidate his assets and turn them over -- convert them into a blind trust run by a disinterested --

CUOMO: Not going to happen.

CUOMO: -- administrator. Not going to happen.

And in this case, you still have the core issue here which is that interests at home and especially abroad inexorably will view it as a way to curry favor with the new president and new administration to make business deals with a Trump company run by Donald Trump's children.

So, whatever he does to kind of legally separate himself from the immediate operation of that, it's not clear how much he changes the structural underlying issue. And then you have kind of the additional question that he's raised by involving Ivanka in particular with calls with world leaders, including in countries where they are doing business.

CAMEROTA: So, Jackie, what does this -- I mean -- if his kids are still running the business, then, will we still be doing lots of stories on conflict of interest?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: There are so many questions that are not answered by this tweet.