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Donald Trump Picks Ben Carson as HUD Secretary; Interview with Rep. Adam Kinzinger; Conspiracy Theory Promoted by General Michael Flynn and Son Examined; CNN Explores "The Messy Truth" About 2016 Race. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 6, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was weird that this has gotten so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To come to a unanimous decision. Until my family can see justice, no, there's no forgiveness.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President-elect Donald Trump hitting the road again. Mr. Trump's thank you tour heads to three states this week beginning with North Carolina tonight. This as we await his final cabinet picks.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Critics are not happy with Trump's latest choice for housing secretary. That will be Dr. Ben Carson. They say he may have lived in public housing at one time, he may be a good doctor, but he doesn't have any expertise that goes into a job like this. Trump's national security advisor General Michael Flynn and his son are under scrutiny for peddling conspiracy theories. What will Flynn say about that? With just 45 days away from the inauguration, let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jessica Schneider live outside Trump Tower. Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, today an array of meetings at Trump Tower, before Donald Trump once again hits the road to play to those crowds. His second thank you tour stop will be in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And top advisor Kellyanne Conway says that it is these rallies that we saw throughout the campaign season that gives the president-elect his oxygen.


SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump continuing his victory lap by visiting three more states this week.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: President-elect loves the most getting oxygen directly from the people.

SCHNEIDER: The president-elect headed to North Carolina today and on Thursday he'll travel to Iowa, Michigan on Friday. Trump's team says he'll formally announce another cabinet appointment tonight.



SCHNEIDER: Touting the credentials of his defense secretary pick, retired Marine General James Mattis. Trump also tapping Dr. Ben Carson to be housing secretary.

MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENT ELECT: We're excited to have Dr. Carson as our intended nominee.

SCHNEIDER: Trump describes Carson as brilliant, declaring he is, quote, "passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.' Some are calling Carson's qualifications into question. Last month a key confidante of Carson's said running an agency isn't his strength. Democrats now arguing he's woefully unqualified.

Meanwhile Trump national security aide General Michael Flynn coming under fire. Flynn's son continuing to push a baseless conspiracy theory that led a man to fire an assault weapon inside a Washington pizza shop. The White House weighing in.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We all hold the responsibility regardless of whether or not we are planning to serve in a government position or if one of our family members is planning to serve in a government position that we shouldn't be propagating false things that could inspire violence.

SCHNEIDER: The White House also responding to Trump's controversial phone call with Taiwan's president, stressing the U.S.'s commitment to the one China policy.

EARNEST: Some of the progress we had made in our relationship with China could be undermined by this issue flaring up.


SCHNEIDER: Some of the notable names showing up here at Trump Tower today, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, his name now being thrown into the widening list for secretary of state. Also D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser as well as former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. We know that Henry Kissinger just arrived back in the U.S. from China with a meeting with President Xi. But of course people out here still buzzing about that unexpected meeting between former vice president Al Gore and Donald Trump. The topic of conversation climate change, it's something that Al Gore discussed with Ivanka earlier right before a meeting with Donald Trump. And Al Gore not revealing much, but saying it was a lengthy and interesting discussion. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Interesting bedfellows indeed. Jessica, thank you very much.

Joining us now to talk about all of this, Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) ILLINOIS: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Let's start with the Al Gore meeting. You have been vocal in your support for clear energy. Where do you think Mr. Trump is now on climate change and global warming, something that before he was elected he called a hoax?

KINZINGER: I don't know. It will be interesting. I think his latest statement was he thinks there's some role that humans have in that. You know, it depends what that is. I think, you know, he's shown that he's willing to look at both sides of the issue.

And, you know, again, we've seen and, you know, there's -- and you see this, frankly, every time there's a presidential race, you have a candidate and then you have a president-elect. I think, you know, with Donald Trump, he's had in essence the weight of the presidency on his shoulder. And it goes from, you know, running for an office and kind of having fun with it to all of a sudden realizing, man, I'm going to be president of the United States, a big deal, so I have got to take these issues seriously.

[08:05:00] CAMEROTA: But are you worried today given his position that he will try to blow up some global treaties that were moving towards, you know, work on climate change?

KINZINGER: No. I think he's going to do the right thing. While I believe in the need to go after free energy, you also have to do it not at the cost of the U.S. economy. So there's a fine line to walk there. I think you're going to see a Donald Trump look at this in a very respectful and very understanding that he has an impact on the future of not just our country but the world. And, you know, I'm going to give him a lot of space to figure that out. And I've been pretty impressed by what I've seen so far since the beginning of the transition.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's talk about Dr. Ben Carson. Do you feel that he is qualified to be HUD secretary?

KINZINGER: I'm going to leave that to Donald Trump. I don't know a lot about Ben Carson except for ads he ran in the presidency. He does come from a very amazing background, which is somebody that's really lived in public housing, worked themselves through process, became a doctor, and has gone back and not just, you know, talked about being a doctor but has talked to folks about, you know, his life and been a good leader.

A lot of the times when it comes to leadership of these cabinet organizations it's not as much about sitting at the desk and, you know, writing the next executive order or next thing you have to do in the administration. It's about bringing people together and outlining a vision. So I think he'll do just fine at it. I think he's a great pick, but ultimately that will be to the Senate to confirm. I've been impressed with the president-elect's choices, though. CAMEROTA: Does it worry you that Dr. Carson's business manager and

close friend a couple of weeks ago, Armstrong Williams, said this, "Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience. He's never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do is take a position that could cripple the presidency"?

KINZINGER: Yes, it's a little ironic, and I thought -- when I heard that the first time I actually said, why would you be out saying anything like that? Because you never say what you never know is going to happen. So, you know, I think that's probably a line that's going to come back to be a little bit painful in this confirmation process. But I have no doubt that Ben Carson will be very able to handle this and will put the right people around him to make sure that -- you know, being a leader, it's all about putting people around you that make you look good and successful.

CAMEROTA: Yes. What do you think about the choice of General Michael Flynn?

KINZINGER: You know, that's the one choice I have a little bit of concern about because, you know, I think there's been express sympathy for Russia in that. And there's been -- there's no doubt he's very good when it comes to talking about the fact of terror and the fact about what we have to do to ISIS and destroying that organization, but the Russia thing concerns me a little bit. But it's mitigated by the fact, however, that Donald Trump has seemed to put people around him that understand like "Mad Dog" Mattis that Russia is a big issue and one that we can't take lightly.

CAMEROTA: So Michael Flynn's position on Russia concerns you a little bit. What about these tweets? These tweets that go to conspiracy theories that he and his son have sent out from fake news sites, does that worry you?

KINZINGER: It does -- well, it worries me from his son's perspective. I don't know necessarily what Mike Flynn has or hasn't done from that. I know obviously his son is putting out the conspiracies on this pizza restaurant. And it is concerning. I mean, really, you look at it, when people log on to Facebook or they log on to Twitter and they see an outrageous headline, and in many cases instead of going to the second click and the third click to find out if, in fact, it's true or corroborate it somewhere else, it sears in your mind and that's something that stays with you.

We saw this all throughout the campaign. You log on and there's some headline about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton that's outrageous. That has to be tied down. And it's really incumbent on the end user and the person using Facebook to find out if that story that sounds pretty outrageous actually is. Nine times out of 10 if it sounds crazy, it usually is.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that is a great rule of thumb to use, congressman. And so it is troubling, I mean, I hear what you're saying, when people fall for these things. And what does it say -- I'll just read to our viewers so people understand what you're talking about in terms of his son. Michael Flynn Jr. put out this, "Until Pizza-gate is proven to be false, it will remain a story. The left seems to forget Podesta e- mails and the many, quote, coincidences tie to it." He is talking about a totally outrageous easily debunked story of some child sex ring being operated out of a popular pizza joint in Washington, D.C. Not true. Not a shred of truth. Now --


CAMEROTA: -- General Flynn himself re-tweeted two completely spurious claims about Hillary Clinton being connected to some child sex ring. So does it show a level of gullibility or what?

KINZINGER: I think it's part of that. I think it's when you're in the middle of the campaign, you have a deep desire to discredit the opponent, and so you see something on the internet, you feel like if you re-tweet it you're not the one responsible because you didn't write it. You're just in essence re-tweeting out there for other people to see.

[08:10:02] When you get a government position, whether it's a U.S. congressman, whether it's national security advisor, or anything else, you now have a different level of commitment to the truth that you have to hold on to, because people are going to take your words and take them literally. I mean, things I've read about me, you know, in terms of involvement in the Middle East and things like that, you look at this and you're like on the surface it's utterly crazy, but some people believe it.

CAMEROTA: Right. Congressman Kinzinger, thanks so much. Great to have you on NEW DAY.

KINZINGER: Yes, you bet. It was great, thanks.

CAMEROTA: Let's get over to Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so President Obama is expected to defend his counterterrorism strategy in his speech in Tampa today. He's going to speak at an air force base where combat teams have targeted groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. For a preview on that we have CNN's Athena Jones live at the White House. What do we know?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. The president is going to use this last national major security speech -- last major speech on national security, I should say, to talk about his administration's record on fighting terrorism and to argue for a continuation of the current approach.

We expect to hear him talk about why he believes it's still a good idea to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. This is a campaign promise he was never able to fulfill. He'll explain why he believes the ban on torture should remain in case. And he'll make the case for a targeted approach to fighting terror groups like ISIS rather than using a large scale ground war like we've seen in previous campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we expect he'll defend the Iran nuclear deal.

These are all areas where president-elect Trump has suggested he could take a different approach. During the campaign he talked about filling up the prison at Guantanamo with more bad dudes. He railed against the Iran nuclear deal, and he talked about bringing back waterboarding which people consider torture.

Now, the White House says this is a speech that was in the works for a long time. It wasn't written or rewritten because Donald Trump won the presidency, but it's still likely to be seen as a message of sorts for the incoming president. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Athena, thank you very much for all of that.

Well, CNN's Van Jones going to battleground states that voted for Donald Trump to get what he calls the messy truth. Why did they vote for Trump when they also had voted for Barack Obama? Van Jones joins us with a preview of his CNN special next.


[08:15:58] CUOMO: All right. So, CNN is going to explore the messy truth about the 2016 race tonight in a special hosted by our friend, CNN political commentator, Van Jones.

Van takes to the hustings and talks to people across the political spectrum about how they are feeling following this certainly divisive and unprecedented presidential race.

Here's a look.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Then, you have Trump. Help me understand how even if you don't like the health care, you like Trump. I just don't understand the Trump part.

SCOTT SEITZ, OHIO DEMOCRAT WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP: You know, Hillary's message was this, "I'm with her." Trump's message was, "I'm with you." I'm with you. And that kind of stuck with us.

JONES: Trump has not necessarily been the friendliest to American workers. He stiffed contractors. I mean, how -- help me understand how you round that corner even if you want jobs.

SEITZ: There was the other side of the coin as well. You know, Hillary, we couldn't trust her. You know, anybody who deletes, as I understand it, 30,000 e-mails two days after she was subpoenaed and then she takes her server and acid washes it, and clears it, that to me is admitting guilt. And people in this area kind of really looked at that.

JONES: When the tape came out, you had the "p" word, he's talking about assaulting women, that was -- that was just him and it wasn't just the foul language, it was also foul deeds. I mean, he's saying he can grab people and that type of stuff. Again, if integrity is the thing --

SEITZ: It comes down to the economy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Van Jones joins us now.

So, you were talking to your own and what did you learn?

JONES: Well, I mean, those were two-time Obama voters in a county that had been blue since I think '72 or '76 and that county flipped and that family flipped and, you know, so I need to sit down and talk with them.

They didn't like some of those inflammatory comments that Trump made. They called them crap. They didn't like them.

But even though they were distasteful comments on race, they weren't disqualifying for them because they had other issues that weren't being addressed. There are some Trump voters, I don't care what anybody says, who were delighted by those kind of racially provocative terms you saw at the rallies.

But at the same time I think there's a much, much, much bigger set of voters for whom this was a much more complicated decision. And I think those voters have not been heard from well enough yet. That's why we're doing a special tonight.

CAMEROTA: Was Obamacare the tipping point for them tonight?

JONES: That was a part of it. I think it all adds up. It was the Obamacare struggles, some of which I couldn't figure out if it was exactly Obamacare or just health care in general they were mad at, some of it was jobs. But some of it they just didn't feel that Hillary understood them and that she was there for them, that she was speaking their language and it left them open to at least Trump was trying.

It's kind of like, you know, you're sitting at home waiting for a date and the phone never rings. The guy that comes by, at least he shows up with flowers, you're going to go with that person. It almost felt that way.

CUOMO: That he was change. Maybe not have been change the way you liked it, may not have been the best kind of change that might have been available, but in this race, how many people like that did you hear say either -- I can't go with her, she's not on the right side of us versus them or I'm thinking of voting for her but I'm not crazy about her?

JONES: It's more than change. What struck me was he seemed to care.

See, underneath the rage and the lock her up and all sort of stuff, if you talk long enough, you get down to the pain and nobody cares about me, and they didn't reach out to me. And we put them in there and they forgot about us.

That pain is common for all the underdogs in the red states and the blue states, but now, the underdogs in both states are mad at each other. But that common pain could lead to common purpose if we listen to each other better.

[08:20:00] CAMEROTA: Well, let's talk about that. Let's talk about that because, I mean, this election really laid bare the divisions in this country. It came as a wake-up call for people on the coasts --


CAMEROTA: -- who felt that that morning that it was a country they didn't recognize. They were shell shocked. So, where does this leave us?

JONES: Well, I think that for -- if you are a good coastal liberal, when you hear Donald Trump speak, the 5 or 10 percent of things he says that are really outrageous, that's all you hear. So, you think everybody else hears it the same way as you. So, if you're going with those tough on the Muslims, tough on the Mexicans, tough on the black protesters, then that's what you're voting for.

Other people, they take that 5 or 10 percent, they put it to the side and they listen to the other 90 percent about jobs, about American greatness. They're voting on those lines. We're hearing the other lines and now we're confused.

CUOMO: So, did it change your opinion? I mean, people should know, you didn't do it just because it was an assignment. You went out because this was a listening tour for you as well.


CUOMO: The idea of white-lash got you tons of headlines coming out of the election. Now that you've gotten to talk to them about what it was for them, what do you feel?

JONES: Well, I still feel -- I said the whole time it was a white- lash in part. I was trying to talk about that alt right white supremacist, you know, element that frankly Donald Trump kept retweeting. That after you had what happened in South Carolina where a young white supremacist went and killed nine African-Americans and then you have Donald Trump retweeting people who think that way, that was terrifying for a lot of us.

And so, I was saying, listen, there was a white-lash element. I said even that night in part, took it. It became what it became.

CAMEROTA: But what did you mean by white-lash? Explain what white- lash means.

JONES: What white-lash means when you have a part of white working class that gets fired up in race and they begin to vote in that direction. It's happening across the West. It's not the whole of the -- yes, 50 million, 60 million Trump voters, but you have that small group that is angry, that is hostile. And you've got to be able to talk about both them and the broader phenomenon.

CAMEROTA: Right. But that small group, isn't that group small enough that that isn't what tipped the election for them? How big -- in other words, the people who you think are racist, how big of a voting bloc do you think that is?

JONES: It is hard to know, but I've got to tell you, if you have a who's trying to kill white guys and the -- Obama's retweeting them, that becomes a very source of a lot of alarm for that community.

CUOMO: Right. At the end of the day they think about their pocketbooks first. So, you had white people there who it wasn't about race, it was about am I -- is it us or is it them? Which side are you on?

JONES: Why do we call it the messy truth? It's messy. Yes, the majority of people were willing to overlook some of the toxic crap voting on pocketbooks. But you can't ignore that there was a group of people that were excited about the toxic crap. It's messy. And everybody wants it to be either this or that. It's messy.

CAMEROTA: Can't wait to watch it, Van. Thanks so much for previewing it with us.

CUOMO: All right. "THE MESSY TRUTH", tonight at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: OK. Could fake news cause real trouble for a member of president-elect Trump's team? We'll get the bottom line next.

CUOMO: All right. Did you see this yet? There's a kangaroo holding this guy's dog in a headlock. So, now watch what he does? Got to keep your left up, kangaroo ski. Then he walks away. Now he trash talks the kangaroo. Look at the kangaroo. He doesn't know what to do. This is what I -- can you --


[08:27:25] CAMEROTA: OK. Here's your daily update on fake news. It has turned into real headlines as you know. It's also put a member of the Trump transition administration under the magnifying glass. Trump's national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, has peddled some conspiracy theories before via Twitter. And his son, who happens to be his father's chief of staff, is continuing to tweet his support for conspiracy theory that as you know led a man to open fire at a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.

So, let's get the bottom line on this and so much more, with CNN political analyst David Gregory.

Where are we with how fake news has real consequences?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I think this is a serious topic. And it's one that can go a long way to actually eroding our democracy. You know, the news media has a lot of credibility problems right now as a result of this election, and the fact that the media as a big institution is in dispute among a lot of people.

But that doesn't mean that facts aren't facts and that we have to be grounded in truth. I think for -- for General Flynn and his son to be out there so casually retweeting these kinds of conspiracy nonsense, this really dangerous information that can lead to violence, somebody who should know better.

I mean, General Flynn is in the intelligence world, right? Ali Soufan who was on with Anderson last night who interrogated people with the FBI, who believed that Jews, and Zionists, Americans knew about 9/11. People get killed. Kind of conspiracy theories in the Middle East lead to Americans to get killed. We cannot allow this to take further root here --

CUOMO: Also, look, the problem for him seems to be optics. You know, the best defense they have for the general right now is, well, he didn't specifically retweet the pizza-gate thing. That was the son. He did the other things about sex crimes and weird --


CUOMO: Why aren't they letting him come out, own that he shouldn't have done it so he maintains what most people say is a pretty solid bedrock of conspiracy? Yes -- of integrity? Yes, he got sideways with the Obama people before he left, but most will say he's got a good head for intel. Why don't they let him come out?

GREGORY: I don't know the answer to that, Chris. And it's disturbing. I think that the president-elect who, by the way, who was spreading his own nonsense spreading about people who were voting who were not legal citizens, without any basis in truth, or people who work for him is going down a very dangerous road if he doesn't try to clean this kind of thing up.

Flynn isn't doing any interviews so he hasn't been out there at all. But I also think we should add into this discussion that, look, there's lots of conspiracy theories out there. We can't spend all of our time on this program debunking these things. And it does become a question of that they can fall on the kind of ears, vulnerable ears that can lead people to do horrible things.