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Trump Touts Defense Nominee, Interview with Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows; Deal-Making Skills; Obama Hands Off War on Terrorism to Trump; Battle Brewing Over Future of Obamacare; Interview with Sen. Jeff Merkley. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 7, 2016 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, President-elect Trump promising to put America first by creating jobs, cutting taxes and repealing Obamacare, appearing for the first time also with one of his cabinet picks, defense nominee General James Mattis.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Trump also selling his skills as a dealmaker in chief, taking aim at corporate America, taking credit for attracting $50 billion from a Japanese telecom giant, a deal agreed upon before he was elected.

We're just 44 days away from inauguration day. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jessica Schneider live outside Trump Tower in New York. He may not be president officially yet, but he's certainly already doing the job.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is, Chris. Making some announcements, holding some rallies. Donald Trump is back in New York City this morning after fighting through the inclement weather to get to those crowds down in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

It was a thank-you rally where Donald Trump did largely stick to his script. He listed off his list of priorities. He also promised to keep this country unified. But of course, he also touted his business experience and his business expertise and his election win.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will have two simple rules when it comes to rebuilding this country. Buy American and hire American.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Taking his "America first" message to North Carolina, the president-elect vowing to protect American jobs.

TRUMP: We will defeat the enemy on jobs, and we have to look at it almost as a war.

SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump, once again, taking aim at corporate America. The president-elect spent much of Tuesday criticizing a government contract with Boeing to build a new Air Force One. Trump tweeting, "Costs are out of control. More than $4 billion. Cancel order." It's unclear why Trump attacked Boeing, America's largest exporter, or

where Trump even got that hefty price tag. Boeing says it currently has a $170 million development deal to study the new aircraft.

TRUMP: I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number.

SCHNEIDER: Trump also touting his deal-making skills, claiming credit for a months-old pledge by Japanese telecom giant SoftBank to invest $50 billion in the United States aimed at creating jobs. Details of the deal have not been released.

TRUMP: Masa, great guy of Japan. He's pledged that he's going to put $50 billion into the United States because of our victory. He wasn't investing in our country. Fifty billion, 50,000 jobs.

SCHNEIDER: Staying largely on message, a more controlled Trump promising to fight terror and increase military spending.

TRUMP: In my first budget report to Congress, I am going to ask for the elimination of the defense sequester.

SCHNEIDER: Trump officially announcing his secretary of defense pick, General James Mattis.

TRUMP: Mad Dog plays no games.

SCHNEIDER: Touting his credentials as a four-star general, NATO commander and his leadership during Desert Storm.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I look forward to being a civilian leader, so long as the Congress gives me the waiver and the Senate votes to consent.

SCHNEIDER: All this coming on the heels of a shakeup in the Trump transition team. Trump firing the son of national security aide, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn for pushing a baseless conspiracy theory that led a man to fire a rifle inside a Washington pizza shop. Jake Tapper grilling the vice-president-elect over security clearances requested for Flynn's son.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're downplaying his role, but you must be aware that the transition team put in for security clearance for Michael G. Flynn, the son of Lieutenant General Flynn.

PENCE: Well, I'm aware in talking to General Flynn that -- that his son was helping the scheduling, Jake.

TAPPER: No, but you put in for security clearances for him.

PENCE: He's helping his dad arrange for meetings and provide meetings. But that's no longer the case.

TAPPER: But do you need security clearance just to do scheduling?

PENCE: I think that's the appropriate decision for us to move forward. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump will attend a fund-raising breakfast this morning in New York. He'll also meet with outgoing North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who conceded the contested election this week. Could a potential cabinet post be on that agenda for that meeting? We will see.

Now in addition, after some of these meetings today, Donald Trump will hit the road back on that thank-you tour to Des Moines, Iowa, tomorrow. Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday. He'll also attend the Army/Navy game down in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Jessica. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in now Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan and North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. Mr. Meadows is the newly-elected chair of the House Freedom Caucus, and Congressman Jordan will be the chair emeritus. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Good to be with you.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Let me first ask you both about the waiver for General Mattis. So he has been in civilian life only three years, not the necessary seven years. Are you both comfortable granting that waiver?

MEADOWS: Yes, I think so. I mean, when you really look at his career and where he's been, obviously, it's the president-elect's pick. I don't see a real issue in terms of some of the times that you put those prohibitions on there, where General Mattis would violate any of that. And I don't hear a whole lot of pushback here on Capitol Hill one way or another. It's really a minor concern for most members, whether they be Democrat or Republican.

CAMEROTA: You agree, Congressman?

JORDAN: I do. And, look, he has to go through Senate confirmation. There's going to be hearings. There's going to be witnesses. There's going to be all kinds of discussion and questions, so the American people can judge for themselves and the United States Senate can get to an answer. But I think -- I think it makes sense that's who the president-elect wants for that position. So, let's just move forward.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's do that. And let's talk about some of the issues on which the House Freedom Caucus seems to diverge from President-elect Trump.

So, let's just tick through some of them. Free trade. You've seen things crop up already. Mr. Trump seems to not be as comfortable with free trade as the House Freedom Caucus is. Congressman Meadows, how are you going to reconcile that?

MEADOWS: you know, I think, really, when we come to look at this it's not necessarily where we disagree on free trade. It's really the parameters around that. Many of you might recall more than 12 months ago when the whole issue of TPP came up. It was the Freedom Caucus that kind of held the line there, and even though we're real free traders. We felt like it was a bad deal for America.

And so, I think that we'll find some common ground with the president- elect in terms of trade and protecting American jobs and making sure that we put those people in Ohio and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and North Carolina back to work. But it's really about making sure that we have a level playing field.

So, I think that there is really a foundation where perhaps we may have some differences on tactics. Overall the strategy will be a common denominator.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Jordan, let's talk about -- let's dive into a couple of those things. How do you feel about the tariffs? The stiff tariffs that President-elect Trump says companies that employ people overseas and make some of their products overseas should have to pay to the tune of, like, 35 percent?

JORDAN: Alisyn, look, we're going to make deals that are best for America, just like the president-elect has talked about.

I'm much more concerned about not where there may be some perceived differences between us and the president-elect. I'm much more concerned about all those areas where we agree. All those things the American people sent us here to do. That this town has a way -- the establishment in this town has a way of taking those things, what we are supposed to do, that they sent us here to do and watering those down and not getting accomplished what they sent us to accomplished.

I'm much more concerned about those areas than maybe some of the perceived differences and how this all may shake out in the end. That's what we need to focus on. Our job is real simple. Do what the voters sent us here to do, fix the border, secure the border and get rid of Obamacare. Make sure we have work requirements for able-bodied people in the welfare system. Get rid of this tax code, put in a tax code that's conducive to economic growth. I'm much more focused on those things and making sure this town doesn't water those things down than I am some of those things you all want to talk about.

CAMEROTA: I understand. But some of these things are big deals, and some of these things you were sent to deal with. For instance, the national debt. So a House Freedom Caucus obviously thinks that that's a big deal. You guys are...

JORDAN: It is a big deal.

CAMEROTA: You're opposed to increasing...

JORDAN: Forty billion dollars.

CAMEROTA: Indeed. I mean, you're opposed to increasing the debt, and then there are all of these different tax policy centers that have said that Mr. Trump's plans will increase the debt. I'll just pull up some for you. Tax Policy Center says that they would increase the debt by $7.2 trillion over a decade.

MEADOWS: Alisyn...

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Congressman.

MEADOWS: Yes, Alisyn. And this is the first president, President Obama. The first president since World War II not to have at least one year of 3 percent growth or higher. Not one single year.

CAMEROTA: It's just gone up. You know that it's just gone up right now. The new numbers, right? That after eight years of digging out the growth has just now gone back up.

JORDAN: They know a Republican's come to the White House. That's what's -- took them eight years to get there. Maybe some of it has to do with the fact that they know there's a new president coming to the White House who's going to get rid of this ridiculous tax code, who's going to put in place policies that are conducive to economic growth so we're not stumbling along like we have been for the last eight years.

CAMEROTA: So you think that the new jobless numbers, where unemployment has gone down in -- to record levels now, and growth has gone up. You think that that's because of this election?

JORDAN: All I'm saying, Alisyn, is I think that, when you get rid of the current tax code and reform the tax code we have and get rid of some of the ridiculous regulations placed on the job creators and entrepreneurs, you're going to create an environment that's much more conducive to economic growth and not have the thing we've had for the last eight years, stumbling along at about a percent, percent-and-a- half growth rate.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Meadows, I see you...

JORDAN: And that's good to deal with the debt.

CAMEROTA: I see you, Congressman Meadows, enjoying this exchange, but I do want to bring you in. Are you comfortable with the predictions that Donald Trump will increase the national debt by $7.2 trillion over the next decade?

[07:10:01] MEADOWS: Well, you know, when you get a lot of the think tanks, what they do is they don't do what they call dynamic scoring. And so what they look at is just the number of jobs, perhaps, that are created, the tax and the potential for that to grow. So, they don't look at the growth and the economy.

I'm a business guy. I understand that, you know, when you lower taxes, you actually increase job growth and opportunity. So, it's not just on the taxes. Because the other component of that -- there was a study in 2011 that says for each 5 percent reduction and regulations that we create between 1.1 and 1.2 million jobs.

And so, on that, that coupled with that will spur a growth that hopefully will be at 4 to 4.5 percent GDP. When we start to see that, then all of a sudden, some of these conversations we have are not as difficult.

Now, are we looking at the debt without a doubt and we need to make sure that we have a plan to pay it off. What we've done in the past is we just continue to increase it and increase it. I'm willing to recognize that it may go up in the short term as long as we have a real plan to pay it off in the long term.

CAMEROTA: OK, gentlemen. Thank you very much for taking time to be on NEW DAY.

JORDAN: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Nice to talk to you -- Chris.

MEADOWS: Same here.

CUOMO: Please take the time. Go online and Google and see if reductions in regulations and lowering of taxes always equals more jobs. Google for yourself and see if it's that simple.

So he never mentioned President-elect Donald Trump by name. But when President Obama visited McDill Air Force Base on Tuesday to deliver his final address to the troops, he was sending a clear message to his successor.

CNN's Athena Jones live at the White House with more. What was that message and what do you think it meant to the president to deliver it at this stage?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

Well, part of the message was that it's a complex world and you've got to look at these foreign policy issues, fighting counterterrorism and recognize its complexity. This was a speech, a wide-ranging speech the president used to tout his administration's accomplishments in the fight against terror groups.

The killing of Osama bin Laden, weakening of al Qaeda. And the progress made so far in the war against ISIS. While he didn't say President-elect Trump's name, the president did press his case for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, for maintaining the ban on torture. These are two areas where it's clear he has views that are at odds with those expressed by President-elect Trump.

He also talked about the need to live up to American values during this fight against terrorism. Upholding the rule of law, protecting several liberties, not making decisions based on fear and not stigmatizing Muslims. Here's more of what he had to say on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We act like this is a war between the United States and Islam, we're not just going to lose more Americans to terrorist attacks. But we'll also lose sight of the very principles we claim to defend. The United States of America is not a country that imposes religious tests as a price for freedom. We're a country that was founded so that people could practice their faiths as they choose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Now, of course, during the campaign, Donald Trump famously proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country. He since softened that a bit and now focusing on suspension of immigration from regions that export terrorism or it's hard to vet.

The White House insists that this is a speech that was planned, that was in the works before Donald Trump won the election, and so it's not our response to him. It wasn't written for him.

But it's very clear the president wanted to use this opportunity at McDill not only to thank those Special Operation forces but also to talk about what his administration has accomplished and make the case that his approach is the best way to go forward. We'll see if Donald Trump accepts that advice.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we shall. Athena, thank you very much for that reporting.

We are following some breaking news for you right now. This is out of Pakistan. Local media reports that a passenger plane has gone missing shortly after taking off. The plane has at least 37 people onboard. Officials say the airline lost contact with the plane on this domestic flight heading to Islamabad. So we will stay on top of this story and bring you developments.

CUOMO: The exact origin and cause of the deadly Oakland warehouse fire is still a mystery. But we do know more. For instance, the city received 21 complaints about the, quote, "Ghost Ship" warehouse over three decades. The most recent complaint came just three weeks before the inferno. And it was about trash and debris around the building. At least 36 people died during Friday's electric dance party at that warehouse.

CAMEROTA: A controversial abortion bill called the "heartbeat bill" is now sitting on Ohio Governor John Kasich's desk. Ohio state lawmakers approving legislation banning abortions the moment the heartbeat of a fetus is detected. That usually happens about six weeks into a pregnancy. If Governor Kasich signs the so-called heartbeat bill into law, it will be one of the toughest restrictions on abortion in the nation.

CUOMO: Now, usually the law, as set out by the Supreme Court says that after the period in Roe v. Wade, that's when states can legislate what they want to do. But the fundamental question for that issue has never been answered. When does life begin?

CAMEROTA: Right.

CUOMO: We never...

CAMEROTA: People feel differently about that.

CUOMO: Well, but there's -- but usually, in this society, secular society, you convene science to do this. It used to be that when your heart stopped, you were dead.

CAMEROTA: Right.

CUOMO: Science evolved and was marshalled to evolve, that brain activity is what you have to look at. Why don't they do it when life begins? It's so important to stem cell research, to reproductive rights. And yet, we don't have any...

CAMEROTA: There's lots of different definitions about viability.

CUOMO: Because in the absence of science, you will have a divergence of opinion.

CAMEROTA: OK.

CUOMO: You know, if you're going to have different religious -- but it's interesting. This law is something that you really have to think about. Because there's a big implication...

CAMEROTA: Of course.

CUOMO: ... for what we are as a people.

All right. So you just heard Republican leaders say their first item of business is repealing Obamacare. Then what? We're going to talk to a Democratic senator about this healthcare fight. Everybody knows that the ACA need fixing, but what is your future and who loses if it's gone?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:20:05] CUOMO: Campaign in poetry, govern in prose. Let's see it now in action when it comes to healthcare. The latest: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence say, oh, yes, they're going to repeal the ACA. First priority. But then what? Now we're getting into this reckoning of an extended timeline of what comes next.

Let's discuss this from the Democratic side. We have Senator Jeff Merkley. Senator, thank you for joining us.

Now, to be fair, Hillary Clinton lost this argument in the election. She allowed the Trump campaign to win on the notion of repealing it being good enough. But what is the reality of what happens once it is repealed, which is just a signature away? What about the replacement part?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, the Republicans are terrified of actually repealing, because so many elements are quite popular. The idea that you can get insurance even if you have pre-existing conditions. The fact that children can stay on your policy to age 26. The investment in prevention, because prevention is so much smarter than treating diseases down the road. All these elements really resonate.

So now what the Republicans are talking about is saying, "Well, we're going to repeal it, but we're only going to make that come into effect three years from now, because we know there will be a big backlash from Americans if we take away these very popular elements of making healthcare work for all Americans."

CUOMO: Vice-President-elect Mike Pence was speaking to the ease of repeal and the difficulty of replace in actual practice recently. Here's the sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: We're going to keep our promise to the American people, and we're going to repeal Obamacare, lock, stock and barrel. And what we're also going to do is work with members of the House and Senate to ensure an orderly transition. And the length of time that that will take will be a subject of legislative debate, and we'll fill in the substance of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Well, that certainly wasn't part of the Trump campaign. That work with the other side, orderly transition. It was get rid of it and put in something else.

The problem is, that's much easier said than done. The Urban Institute says 56 percent of the newly uninsured, if you get rid of all the ACA protections and subsidies, will be non-Hispanic whites, also known as the Trump base of their vote. What does that reality mean to you on the Democratic side?

MERKLEY: Well, I tell you, take my home state of Oregon. There's been a vast expansion of health care, particularly in rural areas. Access. This is a profound impact on folks in America who have very modest income who finally have the peace of mind that they can access health care when they need it and that their children will be able to access it. And they have been very against the idea of a government takeover of health care. That is as the way Obamacare has been projected. But what they have really liked is their own personal ability to get a private policy through the exchange and actually be able to afford it and protect themselves and their families.

CUOMO: Whites and those without college degrees have been the main beneficiaries in terms of raw numbers in getting plans under Obamacare.

The question becomes this, politically, because the policy part is too dense. You guys are going to have to accept a loss on the Democratic side by this being renamed and reinstituted. And, yet, it seems as though the reality of the policy may be largely the same, with the one area of what to do about the mandate.

Politically, do you think the Democrats will stomach taking that blow if it is in the interests of the American people?

MERKLEY: We're going to take a fight to make sure we have affordable, accessible health care for every American. We've made huge strides in this. In my home state of Oregon, it's less than 4 million people. Nearly

500,000 people gained access to health care. That's an incredible impact. We've dropped the uninsured rate enormously. We've provided so much more preventive care, so many more clinics that are the front door to the healthcare system. We're going to fight to sustain this system.

Now, the Republicans say maybe we can do all this, and we can -- we can take away the mandate, and we can play a little bit over here, a little over there. Certainly, they want to rename things.

But we are going to fight to say that health care is a fundamental right. That no one should be without it in America. It should be affordable, and it should be quality for everyone.

CUOMO: All right. Quick beat on something else. The Democrats, in terms of raw numbers, can't block any of Donald Trump, president- elect's picks for his cabinet members. What does the party expect to come of the vetting of, say, Dr. Ben Carson, who's, obviously, a controversial pick for an organization cabinet position such as HUD? What do you think you can get done?

MERKLEY: Yes, we're seeing much less the team of rivals than the team of cronies. People from the very far right. People who are very wealthy. People very disconnected from the status and condition of working Americans.

[07:25:06] I live in a blue-collar community. I come from a working family. And so many of these individuals have been living in a bubble so far removed from working America it makes it hard to understand how Trump believes that they actually can pursue the policies that he thinks might help working America.

But let's take Ben Carson, for example. Ben Carson had said -- he disqualified himself. He said, "I don't have the expertise to run an agency." And he was talking about Health And Human Services, where he actually is a medical expert. And now he's taking the portfolio of housing, and the housing, we are in deep crisis in America. We have vacancy rates that are very low in major cities. We have tents cities popping up in our nation's capital and in cities in my home state of Oregon, because there isn't enough affordable housing.

But Ben Carson doesn't understand that there is a problem and, furthermore, he doesn't understand that there is actually discrimination that keeps many individuals, many minorities from getting fair access to the housing we have. He's really criticized the Health and Human Services -- or not Health and Human Services but Housing -- for undertaking and enforcing anti-discrimination rules.

CUOMO: All right. Senator Jeff Merkley, there's going to be a lot of fighting ahead. Hopefully it's all in the name of had good fight. We'll stay on these stories for sure. Thank you for joining us.

MERKLEY: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Alisyn. CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump targeting America's biggest exporter, Boeing. Is it a smart move to take on Boeing on Twitter? We discuss, next.

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