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Trump Names General John Kelly to Homeland Security; Trump Attacks Union Leader Who Called Him a Liar; EPA Critic Tapped to Lead Agency. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired December 8, 2016 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scott Pruitt. He's actually been involved in lawsuits against the EPA, the very agency that he is nominated to head.

[05:58:30] KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: Pruitt has great qualifications.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump adding another general to his cabinet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know everybody is saying there's too many generals. No one is saying this person is not qualified.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're saving the jobs at the Carrier plant.

CHUCK JONES, UNION LEADER: He misled the people. The actual number of jobs that he claimed that he saved.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no merit and value to attack a union leader just for disagreement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, you are looking and acting as if you are mean and petty, thin-skinned and vindictive. Stop this.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, December 8, 6 a.m. in the east.

Up first, one month after his win, President-elect Donald Trump is churning out his cabinet picks. He's tapped a climate change challenger to head the EPA. And he's added another military general to lead homeland security.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What is the up and down side of putting so many military in power of civilian agencies? We're going to go deep on that.

We also have more proof that Mr. Trump will not change as President Trump. He attacked a union leader who accused Trump of getting the numbers wrong on Carrier. Trump did not challenge the facts.

Still 43 days away from inauguration day. It hasn't even started yet. We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live in Washington -- Sunlen.


Well, there has just been a flurry of announcements in the last 24 hours coming from the Trump transition team, the president-elect making some big kicks -- picks for some of these key roles in his administration.

But Trump is also spending his time taking to Twitter, getting into a war of words with a local union leader who has been critical of Trump's claims over jobs actually saved at Carrier.


SERFATY (voice-over): President-elect Donald Trump naming two more hardliners to his cabinet, elevating climate change denier and fierce EPA critic Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the agency.

CONWAY: There were a number of qualified candidates for that particular position that the president-elect interviewed, and he settled on Attorney General Pruitt.

SERFATY: A signal the Trump administration is intent on reversing President Obama's move to reverse climate change.

Trump also tapping another general to his cabinet, retired General John Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security, raising questions about the militarization of his administration.

Kelly, a decorated four-star Marine general, retired earlier this year as commander of the U.S. Southern Command. He is also a Gold Star father whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

And tonight, Trump will introduce Iowa Governor Terry Branstad at his third stop on his thank-you tour in Des Moines. Branstad's longtime friendship with the Chinese president could help reassure the country that the president-elect is interested in maintaining its relationship with Beijing.

Trump also mixing business and entertainment, nominating former wrestling executive Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration.

All this as Trump is readying to announce his choice for secretary of state, which could come next week. Trump insisting former adversary Mitt Romney still has a chance at the post.

TRUMP: It's not about revenge. It's about what's good for the country.

SERFATY: But Trump's administration moves are being overshadowed by another feud, the president-elect lashing out on Twitter against the Carrier union leader Chuck Jones after he called into question Trump's math over how many jobs the deal he brokered with Carrier actually saved. Jones appearing on CNN last night.

JONES: Five hundred and fifty are still going to lose their jobs.

SERFATY: Trump tweeting minutes later that Jones had done a terrible job and blaming job losses on Jones. Quote, "If United Steel Workers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana."

Jones then calling into "ANDERSON COOPER 360" to respond directly to Trump's attack.

JONES: Because of corporate greed and unfair trade, they want to move these jobs out of the country. So if he wants to blame me, so be it. But I look at him, how many billions of dollars he spent on his hotels and casinos, trying to keep labor unions out.


SERFATY: And today at Trump Tower, the president-elect will be meeting with one potential secretary of state contender, former NATO commander James Stavridis. And then he'll be traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to meet with the victims and first responders from the Ohio State attack from last week. Then tonight, it is on to Des Moines, Iowa, for the next stop of his victory tour, another one, Chris, of these campaign-style rallies he's been having.

CUOMO: The thank-you tour. All right, Sunlen, thank you very much.

Democrats and environmentalists are sounding the alarm about Trump's pick to head the EPA. They're vowing to mount a fierce fight against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns live with more. What's the state of play?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, the selection of Scott Pruitt at EPA is in line with Donald Trump's policy pronouncements on the campaign trail, but it quickly created a storm of outrage on the left. One former top aide to the Obama administration calling Pruitt, quote, "an existential threat to the planet."


JOHNS (voice-over): Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is a staunch climate change denier, giving Democrats and environmental groups whiplash after Trump's highly-publicized meetings with prominent climate change activists.

JASON MILLER, TRUMP TRANSITION SPOKESMAN (via phone): Attorney General Pruitt has a strong conservative record as a state prosecutor and has demonstrated a familiarity with laws and regulations impacting a large energy resource state. JOHNS: An ally of the fossil fuel industry, the Oklahoma attorney

general is a fierce critic of the agency he may soon lead, filing lawsuits against the EPA over its regulations of power plants, including Obama's effort to significantly reduce their emissions.

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINEE: When you look at the EPA and the role that it's played over the last several years, there's going to be substantial change in that agency. There's going to be a regulatory rollback.

JOHNS: Critics blasting Trump's nominee. The League of Conservation Voters writing, "Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the henhouse. He has fought to pad the profits of big polluters at the expense of public health."

As for climate change, Pruitt wrote in "The National Review" just a few months ago that the link between global warming and human activity is far from settled.

[06:05:00] Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying Pruitt's "reluctance to accept the facts on climate change couldn't make him any more out of touch with the American people and with reality."


JOHNS: You can't really call this a surprise, but the naming of Scott Pruitt came shortly after the president-elect gave environmentalists some hope by meeting with Al Gore, who's been a leading voice on the issue of climate change -- Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Joe, thanks so much for all the background.

Let's discuss it now with CNN Politics executive editor Mark Preston; and national political reporter for Bloomberg Politics, Jennifer Jacobs. Great to see both of you guys.

So Scott Pruitt does not like the EPA. He has sued them many times. How is this going to work?

JENNIFER JACOBS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: He's got several active lawsuits right now. So, yes, he is a critic of the EPA, but, listen, he's the kind of guy who might have faced a lot of controversy, and he could have been blocked in the Senate in the past, but it looks like he's going to sail right through. I mean, all they need is 50 votes plus the vice president. I'm not seeing any defectors, you know, who are peeling away from approving him. So far there's a lot of criticism, a lot of controversy, but it seems like, you know, despite all that, it's going to be just fine. And Trump is going to get his way.

CUOMO: Is it too early to know if anybody will peel off, the idea that he doesn't accept the science on what is causing global warming? Could be something -- plenty of GOP senators who believe in global warming and its human -- and its human impact. MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: That's a good point,

because we're looking at it from, you know, the Democratic side criticizing him, but you also have Democrats like Joe Manchin from West Virginia who potentially could say, "You know, listen, he's been fighting for an industry that's been critical to my home state." So, you know, that is interesting.

But you could see some centrist Republicans go the other way.

I think Jennifer is absolutely right. They do have the votes. In the end Republicans will have the votes to get them through, but Democrats will try to do, though, is to try to damage him and beat him up as much as possible and perhaps try to get him to withdraw. And from what he has said in the past, done in the past, it's very unlikely he would do so.

CAMEROTA: I mean, he's certainly fossil fuel friendly. We know that. But he -- you know, he hasn't denied global warming.

CUOMO: Says it's far from settled.

CAMEROTA: He says the science is--

CUOMO: He's not accepting the science.


JACOBS: It's acceptable. It's OK to question it.

CAMEROTA: It's OK to question it. That's different.

CUOMO: Either you accept the science or you don't.

CAMEROTA: No, that's not what he's saying. He saying that -- he sees nuance where you see black and white, that it's either settled or not settled.

CUOMO: Ninety-nine percent of the scientific community says global warming--

CAMEROTA: CNN says the number is 90 percent. But here's the deal,

Republicans, a lot of Republicans and certainly something like 30 percent of voters -- and they voted for Trump -- agree with him. And they think that, in terms of the predictions and the forecasts, this is where it comes in, that it's far from settled. The predictions and the forecasts--

CUOMO: People thought the world was flat.


CUOMO: People thought blacks and whites shouldn't marry. People thought blacks shouldn't be equal. That doesn't mean that you accept it as fact as a leader. CAMEROTA: People thought that the Antarctic ice would be gone by now.

It increased in 2014. This is what people hang their hat on when they say that the forecasts are not settled. They fluctuate.

PRESTON: May I split the baby on this, perhaps?


CUOMO: How -- you really want to split the baby on global science?

PRESTON: No, no, no.

CUOMO: Well, that's what you're doing then.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, let's go.

PRESTON: What I think, if you're an environmentalist and you believe, in fact, as most people do, that climate change is real, him heading the EPA is certainly going to slow down any efforts to continue to put in place regulations and policies that would perhaps slow it down. And that's where I think the environmental community is very much concerned.

CUOMO: What happens if you get a guy in charge of the EPA who believes what Alisyn does, that the science isn't settled and whether or not global warming is impacted by the -- our acts?

CAMEROTA: Time out. I'm telling you, I've lots of -- I've interviewed several scientists from the National Academy of Sciences, and what they hang their hat on is not that it's not happening. It's that the pace at which it's happening, the forecasts have been wrong. Some of the forecast models. We know this.

CUOMO: But that's not -- that's not the issue.

CAMEROTA: That is what he's saying.

CUOMO: The issue is does the actions of human beings affect what's going on with carbon emissions and global warming as impact? The scientific community has consensus in that, yes, that is what is causing global warming.

JACOBS: Pruitt has said he's just not sure.

CUOMO: That's right.

CAMEROTA: But he said he's not sure exactly what the consequences are.

CUOMO: That means he doesn't accept the scientific consensus.

CAMEROTA: I don't know that you're right about this. What he has said, and it's very -- in other words, we can't find a place where he says, "I don't believe in global warming." We can't find it.

CUOMO: But all he needs to say is "I don't accept the science." PRESTON: You know what I think is going to happen?

CAMEROTA: He's just not settled. And a lot of people think that it's not settled.

PRESTON: This debate that's happening right now--

CUOMO: Hold on a second.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

CUOMO: You can't say a lot of people who are relevant who matter in this discussion think it's not true, because the scientific community is who matters. We don't know. We don't know what we're talking about.


CUOMO: The scientists do. And I'll take your number. Ninety percent of them say you and I are affecting global warming.

CAMEROTA: And the question comes in, how much, what year is it happening? When will we see all the ice melting? When will sea levels rise? That's the part that he's talking about--

[06:10:07] CUOMO: I actually think it's the premise. She's saying -- Alisyn is saying -- what do you think, Jen, in terms of the reporting on why he's getting pushback? Is it because he's looking at nuance, like when and how and how much? Or that he doesn't know whether human beings are behind it in the first place.

JACOBS: I think what we know is that he's the kind of guy who has said he doesn't think that we should be -- the federal government should be restricting greenhouse gas emissions the way they are. He is opposed to some of these, you know, federal regulations on the oil and gas industry. That is one thing we can be certain of is that he agrees with Trump that many of those things should be ruled back.

CAMEROTA: But Trump has called it a hoax. He has never called it a hoax. Pruitt has never called it a hoax. But either way, it doesn't matter. He doesn't like the EPA. That's the point, right?

PRESTON: But Trump has walked it back, too, in "The New York Times" just a few weeks ago, saying that that, in fact--

CAMEROTA: There is some human. The debate that's happening right now at this table at this moment, this issue has always been a big issue. It has always been debated, but it is now going to go very much mainstream. And given who is going to head the EPA, what Donald Trump has said, I think it just goes to show you that environmentalists, which have always been kind of put on the shelf and discussed, it means that they're going to be, you know, right on the front burner come next year.

CUOMO: I just want to be very clear. I don't think that there's any debate over whether or not human beings have an impact on global warming.

CAMEROTA: I want to be very clear that he thinks there should be debate about the level and the number and dates--

CUOMO: I don't know that. I just know that he denies that he thinks it's still open to interpretation that the science isn't clear. I don't think that that's going to be the scientific consensus.

CAMEROTA: I -- I have read him say that he believes there should be debate.

CUOMO: We'll see many people report on this. How about something that's clear-cut for both of us even? That putting a lot of generals in place around you can be a show of strength, but also a concern of the military encroaching on civilian agencies. What's the plus/minus on it?

JACOBS: Well, I talked to some transition officials about this, and they do note, yes, that you know, we would like to have civilians in charge of our government. Having, like, for example, Egypt the military is the strongest institution there, the most powerful institution, and it's led to a lot of trouble. So the transition team is aware of the risks, but they say that this is a good mix.

So, you've got General Kelly, when General Mattis was in charge of the first Marine division, Kelly was his assistant division commander. These guys are tight; they're cohesive. He says the transition team told me that they believe these guys are really personable. They're really responsible. They believe in accountability. They get things done. They don't suffer fools gladly. They're just really smart go getter guys, and they just really think that this particular cabinet and this national security team is going to be really tight and cohesive.

CAMEROTA: Anything particularly controversial?

PRESTON: Well, I agree with Jennifer there. I don't think that we should just count these folks just because they've served in the military. In many ways, we should applaud the fact that they want to continue on in public service.

If you are a four-star general, a three-star general, a two-star general, a one-star general, you can leave the military and make a lot of money. And they are choosing to go back in and continue their service.

I do think that there should be a check and balance on it, no question about that. Lieutenant Flynn clearly is controversial, but not because he's been in the military but because of who he is. General Mattis is considered a scholar warrior. Kelly's son has died in combat. They know war.

CAMEROTA: Fascinating. Thanks so much, guys.

CUOMO: All right. Stick around and do not come at me with your tweets about what the science is. Send them to Camerota, with a "Y." CAMEROTA: I'm all ears. I'm open.

CUOMO: Please. Please. I hope so.

Donald Trump going on the attack on Twitter, targeting Carrier's union leader in Indiana. Why did he do this? What are the facts? Next.


[06:17:29] CUOMO: All right. So, a local union leader comes out and says that the numbers on the Carrier deal are wrong and that Trump got them wrong, and the president-elect goes right after that union leader, bashing the union for doing a bad job. The president-elect singling out Chuck Jones, the union leader in a tweet just minutes after Jones appeared here on CNN saying, Chuck Jones, who is president of United Steel Workers 1999 -- that's true -- has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee the country.

Let's discuss this method of politicking with CNN global economic analyst and author of "Makers and Takers," Rana Foroohar. Let's bring back the rest of our panel, Mark Preston and Jen Jacobs.

So Rana--


CUOMO: President-elect Trump did not question the facts that the union leader were bringing up. That the number of jobs is far less than what was going to be done and that Carrier is sweating other jobs, as well. And the man has insecurity about the workers going forward. Is what he's saying true, the union leader?

FOROOHAR: Yes, I think it is. He's on the ground. He knows what's happening with the particular number of jobs. But I think that we actually need to step back. We're getting really caught up in the idea of can Donald Trump save 1,000 jobs here, 700 jobs here?

The formula for economic growth, it seems complicated. It's actually really simple. It's population plus productivity. And when you think about population issues and what Trump's anti-immigration policies are doing to that, not helping economic growth. When you think about productivity and how you make American workers more productive so companies want to keep jobs here. That's about retraining them. That's about buying high-tech equipment and making investments into local factories. That's not what anybody is talking about, and that's not what I see Trump's policies being about.

I think we really need to refocus on what's the bigger picture here? How do you keep jobs in America? And it's really simple. You just have to make workers more productive.

CAMEROTA: Yours is a long-term solution. This is a short-term fix. But what happened with Carrier overnight those 800 -- he said 1,100. Now it turns out it's more like 800 people get to keep their jobs. That's why that was so satisfying, right, on that level. FOROOHAR: Listen, and I'm all for that. I grew up in Indiana. I saw

the devastation of Rust Belt manufacturing. And my father worked in that industry for many years. But it is not coming back the way it was 20 or 30 years ago, and I think that that message gets lost here in these sort of particular details.

JACOBS: And Trump wants it to be simple. He wants Carrier to be an example of how his firm fits and how he can come in and save jobs. But, I mean, this Chuck Jones, union leader, and Trump are on the exact same side, and they're just quibbling over a few hundred jobs. They both want to save these jobs. They both agree that Trump did save some of the jobs. They're just disagreeing on exactly how many.

[06:20:06] CUOMO: And they're disagreeing on a larger level, also. Which is, as Alisyn says, this was satisfying. It was a quick score for Trump. But Chuck Jones and a lot of the economists are saying it was also misleading, because you paid, you bribed Carrier to keep these jobs with state incentives. You picked a winner and a loser in an industry now, right? Because the competitors are going to ask for the same thing or they're going to lose by this. And that it's not a sustainable way to save jobs. And that's the concern on the labor side, the union side.

PRESTON: Right. And we're just talking about Trump meddling or getting involved in, you know, small-time economic issues here in the United States.

And then when he attacks a local union leader, you have to wonder down the road six months, eight months, a year from now, if he continues to do this, it's diluting his ability to show strength and to show power. Right?

At some point not only will folks here in the United States but world leaders are going to say, "Does he really mean it? Does it really matter?" It shouldn't be him, necessarily, attacking Chuck Jones. It should have been one of his economic advisors. Donald Trump should only speak when he needs to speak on major, major issues.

FOROOHAR: By the way, can we talk about the Twitter thing for a minute, too? Because I really feel like the president tweeting about companies, about you know, industries that could be affected by his decision, I almost feel like that should be market manipulation. You know? I mean, this is -- this is--

CAMEROTA: Be considered market manipulation.

FOROOHAR: Be considered market manipulation, if you think about it. Look what happened at Boeing. Boeing stocks have tanked. Biotech stocks have tanked. I mean, you know, this is just clearly having an effect on the material stock price of public companies. You know?

CUOMO: But how do you balance that with -- you know, we don't usually deal with it in this way, but now we are. Which is president-elect private citizen Donald Trump still has every right to express an opinion about what's going on around him. FOROOHAR: Indeed. And this is a problem, really, that isn't just

limited to the president. If you look at people like Carl Icahn, you know, tweeting about Apple stock. It goes up. They make billions of dollars. I think that, actually, there's a bigger conversation about Twitter and how it's being used to create volatility in the markets. Which, by the way, is going to discourage exactly the kind of interest in American business and investments that Trump wants to see.

CAMEROTA: This is complicated, Rana, I mean, absolutely, because we've been cautioned not to take Donald Trump literally, as we did during the campaign. But if we are to take him seriously and his words mean something, we see stock prices tumbling on some tweets. And, you know, it's been pointed out that president's words can also send people marching into war.

JACOBS: We see in contrast, Mike Pence also tweeted about Chuck Jones. It was back in March, and he just said something as governor of Indiana: "I really appreciated meeting with this union leader. You know, we are on the same side. We're both working to save these jobs in Indiana. You see Mike Pence doing the opposite. Using Twitter to thank and praise and be kind.

PRESTON: But you know what? But again, just going back to the fact that Donald Trump can watch Erin Burnett and immediately fire off a tweet attacking a local union. Who, by the way, actually said something nice about Donald Trump, as well. He just said he was exaggerating the facts. He used a bit more colorful language. But, again, we're talking as we're sitting here.

CUOMO: He responded. Trump responded because of Chuck Jones' characterization of how wrong he was. The problem is for Trump, was wrong. Let me ask you something else. "The New York Times." What Ron is talking about, it kind of threads it all together. Trump says he sold all his private stock interests. We don't know if that's true, because he doesn't put it out. He's also saying he's going to divest and separate from the Trump Organization, and there will be many legal documents making this so. "The Times" has reporting on it. What's their take?

PRESTON: Well, look, I mean, the bottom line, it doesn't necessarily matter. He can write up as many contracts as he want and as many legal documents as he wants. But there's really only one on the book that would prevent him from being involved in a conflict of interest, and that's getting a title from another country or, quite frankly, getting a gift, which is really what it is. Trump can -- there's no way that Trump is still not going to be involved in his businesses. I think anyone who says otherwise is just fooling himself.

He grew up in his business that is his life blood, and his children were to run the business, what do they talk about? They talk about business.

FOROOHAR: Well, absolutely, and it's interesting. I have been speaking to business leaders, policymakers in Asia and Latin America. They actually feel like there is a sort of a kiss the ring message being sent here. And they say, "Hey, we get that. That's how business is done in our country. He told us who we need to go to, you know, symbolically to get what we need done." And I think that that's really worrisome that he's giving off that impression.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, Jennifer, do we know about Ivanka's role? She -- we hear -- is moving to Washington, D.C. She may not be involved in the Trump Organization. He may be handing it off to his sons.

JACOBS: Right. "The Times" is reporting that she would like to separate herself from her fashion brands and the other businesses, and she would like to take on some sort of role in D.C. At least advocating for things she really values such as child care.

CAMEROTA: So not in the White House.

JACOBS: Right.

CAMEROTA: But a corollary.

CUOMO: She can't get -- she can't get a governmental position, because of the anti-nepotism.

CAMEROTA: Right. But connected.

JACOBS: Exactly. Being an influence.

CAMEROTA: Being connected. That's right. Panel, thank you very much.

[06:25:06] CUOMO: So there are a lot of issues that wind up connecting into why this Carrier deal was very important. And in the next hour, we're going to have the union leader involved, Chuck Jones. He's going to give us his take on why these jobs are leaving and what needs to happen for them to stay.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, two teenagers charged with arson in connection with those deadly Tennessee wildfires. Even though they're minors, they could be facing adult punishment. We have the details for you next.


CAMEROTA: Police in Columbia, South Carolina, are asking the public's help this morning to find an escaped inmate wanting in the stabbing of a police officer. Michael Williamson, who is serving a life sentence, escaped from prison and traveled more than an hour to a Wal-Mart in Columbia, where the attack happened. The injured officer is reportedly recovering from her injuries.

CUOMO: Two teens are facing serious charges in connection with the deadly wildfires in Tennessee. More than a dozen people died. Thousands of properties were destroyed. Let's get the latest from CNN's Polo Sandoval, live in Gatlinburg. What do we know?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, at this point we do understand that there are many people here in Gatlinburg that are waking up to news that these two individuals have been arrested. They don't know a whole lot about them, as they are juveniles, but you hear from some of the residents who call this part of Tennessee home, and there is a growing call to have these two young individuals charged as adults.