Return to Transcripts main page
President-elect Trump Criticizes Union Leader on Twitter; Interview with Representative Steve King; Donald Trump's Comments on Dreamers Examined; Interview with Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired December 8, 2016 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're saving the jobs at the Carrier plant.
[08:00:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He misled the people on the actual numbers of jobs he claimed was saved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no merit and value to attack a union leader for disagreeing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, you are looking and acting as if you are mean, petty, and vindictive. Stop this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, president-elect Donald Trump announcing a series of new appointments to his cabinet 30 days after claiming victory. Mr. Trump is picking a skeptic of climate change to head the EPA and tapping another military general to lead Homeland Security.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Trump making the latest appointments as he launches an attack on a union leader on Twitter of course. The Twitter, the basis of it was that the union leader called Trump a liar about the Carrier deal. Now he says the president also over reacted to what he said. We're just 43 days away from Trump's inauguration. We've got it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty live in Washington. I say the president. Of course Trump is still the president-elect but he's already seeming to do the job, isn't he?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. And he has been lining up a flurry of announcements last 24 hours. The president clearly making some big picks here for 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 critical of Trump's claims over jobs he actually saved at Carrier.
SERFATY: 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.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There were a number of qualified candidates for that 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 curb 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 as ambassador to China 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.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's not about revenge. It's about what's good for the country.
SERFATY: But Trump's overshadowed by another feud, the president- elect lashing out again 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.
CHUCK JONES, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES STEELWORKERS 1999: And 550 are still going to lose their jobs.
SERFATY: Trump tweeting meant later that Jones had done a terrible job and blaming job losses on Jones. Quote, "If United Steelworkers 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 and 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 off to Columbus, Ohio. He will meet with the victims and the first responders when the Ohio State attack happened last week. Then it is on to Des Moines, Iowa, for that next stop on his victory tour, having another one of these campaign-style rallies. Chris?
CUOMO: Sunlen, that Ohio State stop will be something to watch to see what message the president-elect conveys. Thanks for the reporting.
So Democrats and environmentalists are already promising to fight president-elect Trump's choice to run the EPA, that's Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt. Why? Well for that part of the story let's get to CNN's Washington correspondent Joe Johns. What do we know, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Scott Pruitt calls himself a leading advocate against what he says is the EPA's activist agenda. And now Donald Trump wants to put him in control of the agency. The selection quickly created a storm of outrage on the left, one top former aid to the administration calling Pruitt, quote, "an existential threat to the planet."
[08:05:13] JOHNS: 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 SPOKESMAN: 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, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA: 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 roll back.
JOHNS: Critics blasting Trump's nominee, the League of Conservation Voters writing "Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the hen house. 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. Incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer saying Pruitt's reluctance to accept the facts or science on climate change couldn't make him any more out of touch with the American people and with reality.
JOHNS: The decision to name Scott Pruitt came just a short time after the president-elect gave environmentalists a glimmer of hope for middle ground by meeting with Al Gore who has been a leading voice on the issue of climate change. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thanks so much for all of that. Joining us now is Iowa Republican Representative Steve King. Good morning, congressman.
REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So let's talk about some of these new cabinet picks. We'll get to Scott Pruitt, but let's start with General John Kelly. He's been tapped for DHS. How do you think General Kelly will change the Department of Homeland Security?
KING: Well, we know about General John Kelly's military experience and his record there and being a decorated veteran of combat over in Iraq in particular. In fact, that's where I first met him was when Ramadi was shot to shambles during the surge era. We took a ride around there, even a minaret was shot in half and he pointed to that and said we were taking fire from that minaret. My son took that down with a 20 milimeter cannon. That's my first impression of John Kelly.
KING: I've met him several times since then, and I know that he will take command of DHS. And in the department of homeland security and each agency that's there there's a morale problem. It's a different morale problem in each one. And I think if you serve under John Kelly your morale is going to be good. It would probably be a direct order, shape up your morale. And so he understands command. He understands how to delegate. And I think that he will bring law and order. And what I'm hoping for with this --
KING: -- is that the restoration of the rule of law, especially with regard to immigration, that is the main principle that needs to be driven by the secretary of homeland security.
CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about that. Will he build a wall?
KING: If his order from the president is to build a wall, John Kelly will build a wall. And I've got a design out there and I hope it's considered. There are other good designs out there. But he will get it done. He's a doer. I don't have any doubt about that. President- elect Trump has said thousands of times, I will build a wall. He didn't just say he'll build a wall. I'll build a great wall and it will be a beautiful wall, and I'll make the Mexicans pay for it. I don't know that John Kelly will figure out how to make the Mexicans pay for it, but we'll do all the rest.
CAMEROTA: Because president-elect Trump said it so many times, it was confusing yesterday when Congressman Dennis Ross, Republican, one of your come eagles said this is "Bloomberg." Let me read it for you. "The wall is a term to help understand it, to describe it. It could be a fence. It could be an open surveillance to prevent people from crossing. It does not mean an actual wall." Congressman, is the wall an actual wall? KING: I would say to my friend Dennis that's, you know, that's news
speak. When you say a wall's not a wall, then what is anything, anything?
CAMEROTA: I don't know.
KING: When you say a wall, you mean a wall. You want to build a fence, you say fence. You don't use it as a euphemism for a virtual, say surveillance from hot air balloons that are floating over the border which some people have advocated. And I'll say this, the cheapest and most effective thing we can do is build a concrete wall, a precast, structural concrete wall, I know that there's equipment out there that could -- could form and implement in place a trench, a foundation for a wall. You could drop the slots in. Our little company could build a mile a day of that.
[08:10:08] CAMEROTA: Sure. So you're saying your belief today as you stand here is that there will be an actual, literal wall, built along our southern border?
KING: Made out of concrete. And I'm calling upon president-elect Trump to not just settle for a wall. Let's build a fence, then a wall, then a fence, so we create two no man's lands, one on either side of the wall. That way when we pick people up there they don't really have an excuse. They weren't out there picking mushrooms. They were illegally in the United States. It will simplify the adjudication and will expedite the voluntary return, and it will allow our border patrol officers to patrol both sides of that wall. And we can put surveillance devices on top of the wall, vibration detectors and other devices.
CAMEROTA: OK, that's a super-duper wall. That's a -- that's a fence- wall-fence you're talking about. So let me get your clarification on something else about immigration. As you know, Mr. Trump during the campaign said a couple of different things about the levels of deportation, who would be deported. As you understand it today, congressman, will the so-called DREAMers, the people who were brought here as minors, will they'll be deported or will he find a way to allow them to become citizens and stay in the U.S.?
KING: Maybe there's a place in between on that, too. But I'll try to hit each spot. First if I listen to a campaign promises, I would expect that on the first day he would cancel all of the DACA documents out there that President Obama unconstitutionally issued. And that would end it for them. And then as they're encountered by law enforcement, local law enforcement often, then they would be put through the process. That's what we would expect from his campaign promises.
CAMEROTA: OK, let me stoop you right there because I want to read to you what president-elect Donald Trump said in an interview to "Time" magazine yesterday, because it's different than what you're describing. He said "We're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud. They were brought here at a very young age. They've worked here. They've gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs, and they're in never- never land because they don't know what's going to happen." That sounds like he is not going to cancel DACA, the executive order of President Obama. That sounds like he is sympathetic to their cause.
KING: I was hoping he was going to say we're going to do something that makes Steve King happy, but I didn't hear that.
CAMEROTA: Yes, strangely.
KING: So when you look at this, I think that there's been such a hard push on this. The reason they're called DREAMers is because that's the most sympathetic term that could be applied to --
CAMEROTA: And it sounds like Mr. Trump agrees with that. I mean he's talking about the merits of keeping them here.
KING: Well, in -- among all of these DREAMers, there are some awfully bad people. And these dreamers go on to the age of 37 or 38 or maybe older.
KING: And that's if they tell the truth.
CAMEROTA: But what's your example that there's awfully bad DREAMers here.
KING: I'm sorry?
CAMEROTA: Give me an example of there being terrible DREAMers.
KING: I'll just say this, that I've spent a fair amount of time down at the worlder. I've been down there and helped arrest people that are smuggling drugs in. I have watched as these packs of marijuana are on the backs of young men that are walking across the border. They're hauling an average of about 65 pounds, some of them every day they take another load.
CAMEROTA: OK, so you think that those -- you think those drug traffickers are what are referred to as the DREAMers who were brought here against their will as minors and now go to school here and have jobs?
KING: Wait, wait, wait. This definition about against their will, that's a made up term. Did any of those little kids say I didn't want to come here? Or did any of them came in the day before they turned 18 they qualified, too --
CAMEROTA: But --
KING: Did they say I was brought here against my will? Some of them were walking across the border on their own, lots of them, and we'll see them coming across every day at McCallum, Texas. They're still pouring across the border. They know what they're doing. It's not against their will. And they came here to live in the shadows. So if we enforce the law and they live in the shadows that's what they came here to do. CAMEROTA: What about those that are under, let's pick an arbitrary
number under 10 years old. Did they come of their own free will?
KING: Let's ask their parents. And will those children point to their parents and tell us you really need to enforce the law against my parents? Because they know what they were doing when they caused me to break the law. I don't think we've thought through this very well. But there's a reason why in the president's DACA programs he didn't grant his unconstitutional executive amnesty to the parents of dreamers. He would like to. But they're unspoken to out there. They're the facilitators. If the kids are innocent, the parents are guilty.
KING: We have to look at the parents.
CAMEROTA: OK. Just so I understand your position on this, even if it differs from president-elect Trump, you're saying that if a child was brought here as an infant, a two-year-old, a seven-year-old, a 10- year-old, regardless of if they're in college, regardless of if they have made something good with their life and if they're working here, they have to go.
[08:15:05] KING: That is the law. And if he's going to change that, he needs to come to Congress and ask us to change the law.
But I don't think you get that ask unless you first enforce the law, and demonstrate you secured the border. And still whatever this does to our hearts, and it tugs on mine, too, but the most important thing is to restore the respect for the rule of law.
KING: And we failed to do that if we reward people for breaking it. And so in the end, what was all this about? I worked 30 years to try to restore respect for the rule of law because of Ronald Reagan's amnesty in 1986. And I don't want to let this go because somebody's heart got a little softer than it was before the election.
CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman Steve King, we appreciate your candor and we will see how this all plays out in Congress in the next month. Thanks so much.
KING: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. We're going to take a quick break here. On the other side of the political field, Democratic lawmakers have been calling for an investigation into Russia's role in the election. Now, a big name Republican senator agrees. So, what is the next step?
We ask the congressman leading the charge, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am going to lead the charge to investigate Russia's role not only in the elections but throughout the world. We're going to look deeply into what Russia may have done regarding our election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Manu Raju of CNN on the right, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham there talking to him, vowing to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
[08:20:04] In fact, he said more than that. The senator said that he had real concerns, that he was upset with Russia and their role in the election.
Now, this is something the Democrats have been calling for for a long time, including our next guest.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.
Congressman, so, this is an interesting turn-about in play. The political right had been tamping down, at best, and completely dismissing in the main the idea that Russia was messing with the U.S. elections. What do you believe right now, and what are you trying to do?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: And this is very astounding, because, on the intelligence Committees where we've been briefed on this, there's really no disagreement between Democrats and Republicans that the Russians were hacking our institutions, and dumping information. Indeed, that's the broad consensus of the intelligence community.
You don't get a statement like we had weeks ago from the Director of National Intelligence expressing not only the Russians were hacking but it could not except come from the highest levels of the Kremlin unless they have a lot of confidence in that assessment. So, I'm glad to see Lindsey Graham step forward and call for an investigation of this. This is something I think the country needs to know about more. I'm urging that the entire Congress be briefed not just the members of the intelligence committees, so that all members can share the understanding that we have.
CUOMO: And, I have reporting, as well, that backs up the assertion that the Russians had a hand in the hacks, and what we saw with WikiLeaks.
The president-elect of the United States does not believe it. He thinks you're playing politics. Donald Trump has said as much, and he doesn't want to hear it from you, even now. We have been reading.
Can you confirm that that the president-elect doesn't want any briefings from the House Intelligence Committee about what they believe about Russian intervention?
SCHIFF: Well, I can certainly tell you that the president-elect has been briefed, so it's very disturbing to me that even hearing from our intelligence officials about their confidence in the assessment, of Russia hacking our institutions, the president-elect is still willing to go before the public and say he doesn't think this really happened.
To me, Chris, it's very much like the tweet he sent out saying that millions of illegal immigrants voted. This is someone who just cannot accept the fact that he may have benefited from Russian intervention.
Look, he won the election, we're not disputing that he won the Electoral College. But he ought to acknowledge Russian interference in our country because it may have benefited him this time but if he crosses Russia and ultimately he'll have to because the Russians are not our friends, then he may be the subject of similar hacks and I would hate to wait for that point to try to establish some kind of a deterrent.
CUOMO: Well, take me one more step down the road of playing politics. So, you're going to investigate. What do you think you could really find? And what could you do about it anyway?
SCHIFF: Well, I think we can both prepare ourselves to resist Russian interference in the future by informing the public. Part of the issue, I think, here during the presidential campaign is that we need to get better information out to the country to know that there was an attempt by the Russians to manipulate our political processes. That's part of inoculating ourselves against Russian interference.
But more than that, calling them out, exposing their malevolence helps to deter the Russians. It's not enough and I also think we ought to be sanctioning Russia for their interference in our political affairs and that of our European allies but these are all very important steps to take going forward.
CUOMO: What are you hearing from your brothers and sisters on the Democratic side about the military choices to Donald Trump's cabinet?
SCHIFF: Well, I think most of us like General Kelly. He has a very good reputation. We want to know more about his views on immigration and some of the issues he hasn't directly confronted or at least not to the degree he will at the Department of Homeland Security.
I like General Mattis very much. I like how he's pushed back on the torture issue. I like how he's frankly very tough on Russia and I hope will talk some sense into the president-elect. And very strongly supportive of NATO.
We are concerned, though, with appointing so many generals, and this I think is directly implicated in that statutory prohibition on filling the slot at secretary of defense with a recent retired military officer.
CUOMO: But that was 1946 when that was passed, right? It was a very different time in our history.
SCHIFF: Well, it certainly was passed a long time ago, but it stood the test of time. The principle of civilian leadership of the military, it was important then. It's important now, and, in fact, Chris, given the open-ended authorization to use military force that unfortunately still remains in effect notwithstanding mine and other efforts to repeal that and replace it with something, that is an open door to the next president and secretary of defense to broadly engage military forces and I think heightens the need to have some commitment to civilian control of that institution, even greater in the face of that wide open AOMF.
[08:25:02] CUOMO: Is there any real chance that the law is not waived, the law that restricts military membership in the cabinet to somebody who's been retired for seven years?
SCHIFF: Look, I think the Republicans are all going to support a waiver. And even among Democrats a lot of us have such great admiration for General Mattis, we're going to be inclined to support a waiver. But the more the president-elect fills his cabinet with other generals, the graver the concerns that we have, and that, frankly, has given me a lot of heartburn about a waiver that initially I've been very inclined to want to support.
He's considering other generals for key positions like secretary of state, like the director of national intelligence, and should he populate his entire cabinet this way, that I think will put more question in terms of Democrats on whether to support the waiver.
CUOMO: Congressman, thank you for your perspective on NEW DAY this morning.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump fact checked by a union pose resulting in Mr. Trump attacking him on Twitter. So, what does this mean for what will happen once Mr. Trump is in office? We get the bottom line on this, and others, next.