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Trump's Cabinet Picks Draw Controversy; Interview with Rep. Marsha Blackburn; Interview with Janet Napolitano. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 9, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] KIM SNYDER, DIRECTOR/PRODUCER, "NEWTOWN": Even with the film, we get people on our Newtown film website that just say this is a Hollywood fiction. They've targeted film programmers who programmed our film to say they're FBI operatives who are part of this conspiracy with a fake film.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: How many people are you talking about? Are we talking about a dozen or are we talking about hundreds?


CAMEROTA: No, that are doing these sorts of things online?

SNYDER: If you go to our IMDB page, it's scary. You see all kinds of comments from people buying into this.

CAMEROTA: We're going to figure this out. And we really appreciate you coming on to tell us what you've been on the receiving end of. Thanks so much for all of your candor. Kim Snyder, Dr. William Begg, thank you, we'll talk again.

SNYDER: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news this morning. Let's get to it.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: The enemy is pretty tough, right? So I think we need some tough people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people he is picking is quite frankly, scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These people are far more committed to protecting our democracy than their critics.

TRUMP: The nation of China, they haven't played by the rules. And they know it's time that they're going to start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump says he's going to remain executive producer of "Celebrity Apprentice".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big enough job without the conflicts presented by his business interest.

TRUMP: There's going to be doors on the wall, big beautiful doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Among all of these dreamers, there are some awfully bad people.

TRUMP: Extreme vetting, extreme. Oh, it's going to be extreme.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President-elect Donald Trump taking his victory lap through the Midwest in his thank you tour, touting his ability to keep jobs in America, taking aim at China, kind of, and defending his wealthy cabinet picks.

CAMEROTA: This as a new conflict of interest crops up. The next commander in chief will maintain some control and remain executive producer of the reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice," and he may also collect a paycheck from NBC while serving as the president of the United States. We're just 42 days away from inauguration day. We have it all covered for you, so let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live in Washington. Hi, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. This is real unchartered territory for a president here, certainly raising a lot of questions. Once Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the nation will have a president who will still be part of and still have his name listed in the credits of a reality show. All this as Donald Trump hits the road in full force, defending the people he's chosen for his cabinet.


SERFATY: Reveling in a crowd of thousands in Iowa --

TRUMP: Do you like it so far, everybody?


SERFATY: -- president-elect Donald Trump defending his cabinet appointments.

TRUMP: I want people that made a fortune, because now they're negotiating with you.

SERFATY: Touting the success of some of his wealthy picks.

TRUMP: It's no different than a great baseball player or a great golfer.

SERFATY: Including Carl's Junior and Hardee's executive Andy Puzder to head the Labor Department. Puzder is a staunch critic of paid mandatory sick leave. He's against expanding overtime pay and increasing the minimum wage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: States have every right to decide what the minimum wage should be. I've been opposed to a minimum wage increases that kill jobs.

SERFATY: Trump saying in a statement that Puzder, quote, "will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations."

Meantime, scrutiny is growing over Trump's pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a climate science denier.

SERFATY: At his third victory rally in Des Moines, Trump echoing Pruitt's call to roll back environmental regulations.

TRUMP: And we are going end to the EPA intrusion into your lives.

SERFATY: And doubling down on campaign promises, including immigration.

TRUMP: I've used the expression, extreme vetting, extreme. Oh, it's going to be extreme. But there are going to be doors in the wall, big, beautiful doors.

SERFATY: Trump also calling for improving U.S. relations with China.

TRUMP: They haven't played by the rules and they know it's time that they're going to start.

SERFATY: As he formally rolled out his pick to be U.S. ambassador to China, Iowa governor Terry Branstad, a longtime friend of the Chinese president.

TRUMP: He's a man who knows China and likes China. Better to like China if you're going to be over there, do we agree?

SERFATY: All of this as all eyes are on two big announcements coming next week, potentially the president-elect's choice for secretary of state, and a news conference on Thursday to address potentially backing away from his family business.

But the incoming president is keeping his ties to "Celebrity Apprentice," the NBC reality show he launched nearly 15 years ago. Sources tell CNN Trump will stay on as executive producer of the show and continue being paid as he is in the Oval Office, raising even more questions about the growing list of conflicts between his business dealings and the presidency.


[08:05:01] SERFATY: And a transition official confirms this morning at Trump Tower, the president-elect will be meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Also with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat potentially being considered for a cabinet post. Then Trump will be spending most of his day on the road. He'll be in Louisiana for the state Republican party get out the vote rally there, and on to Michigan, Chris, for another stop on his thank you tour.

CUOMO: Thank you, Sunlen.

Joining us now is Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn. She's vice chair of the Trump transition team. This news of the president-elect staying on as the executive producer of "The Apprentice," tell the American people why they should not be concerned about this apparent conflict of interest.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, VICE CHAIR, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: He has a great team around him and I'm certain they are telling him exactly what he can and cannot do. And we're going to leave that for all of the attorneys and those who deal with ethics in government employees. We're going to leave that for them to work o and the decisions that they bring forward --

CUOMO: It is a legal question? Is it about what he can or can't do or is about what he should or should not do in terms of befitting the office of president?

BLACKBURN: It is about what is allowed and what Mr. Trump would choose to do and how he would approach it within that code of ethics and conduct. And so we're going to leave that for them.

I know, Chris, it's not the -- that word that he would stay on is probably not something that would make you happy, but I think what we have to realize is that Mr. Trump comes from a different place into the Oval Office. He is not someone who has been previously me elective office. The American people are ready for change. They want the government to run in a more business-like fashion. You are seeing that reflected in the choices that he is making. They want strong leadership who is going to get this country back on the right track and pay attention to national security and job security.

CUOMO: One more quick beat on this. I often see answers that personalize the criticism as if it's just about me as a pretty obvious deflection. So you're saying it doesn't bother you at all that Donald Trump is going to stay as executive producer and have maybe corporate responsibilities at the same time that he has governmental ones. Doesn't bother you at all, because?

BLACKBURN: I know that there are stricter requirements around the code of ethics and the filings that are required for anyone who is serving in elective office at the federal level. I trust that those who are handling that for Mr. Trump and for the office of government ethics are paying close attention to every word, dotting every "i," crossing every "t." And my faith is that they are going to do the appropriate thing and give him the right guidance and then the correct decisions will be made.

CUOMO: You know, one of the things that you've been pretty strong on over the years, and I want to see how it's going to manifest now. And it goes to our constitutional reckoning of Article I and the idea that you make laws, not the president. You were very critical about this with President Obama, these executive orders, these runarounds. We're hearing a lot of the same tactical approach coming from president- elect Trump, that he will do, he will do, he will do, he will make happen. Where is your feeling now about pushing back on the executive, that you make the laws, not the president?

BLACKBURN: I think you're going to see respect for the separate divisions, equal -- co-equal branches of government. And I am pleased that Speaker Ryan has been so forthright in his work that we would recapture our Article I powers and that we, in the House, would make this a priority. And so much of what Speaker Ryan has done has set that forth. Our Republican conference has been diligent as we have looked at the Obamacare replacement, as we are looking at tax reform. Even the ways and means committee under Chairman Brady, next week, they're going to be in D.C. working on a tax reform plan.

CUOMO: But you have not said anything recently about your concern about the president-elect thinking that he can do things that are really within the purview of your job as a congressperson. Is this something that just bothered you with a Democratic president and doesn't bother you as much with a Republican president?

BLACKBURN: Respect for the co-equal branches of government is something that I treasure. And I know that you're going to see the executive branch work within their lane in the appropriate manner in working with the legislative branch.

You know, it's so interesting, Chris, right now, I could not tell you who my White House liaison is. We sent an email to who we thought was our White House liaison and it bounced back. That shows you the lack of communication that exists between these two branches.

[08:10:03] CUOMO: The White House called that a reflection of the obstructionism from the Republican side of Congress who didn't want to work with who I asked. Maybe you're showing some evidence of that.

BLACKBURN: No, we've tried to reach out and the right person wasn't there or we did not even know who to be in communication with. We had to go and search it out when we were seeking to get information from them.

So, you know, what we hope is just as with any relationship that you ever have, that stability of that relationship depends on respect. And what we are hopeful for is that there will be a respect from the executive branch shown to the legislative branch. And that is -- that's something that we have things we want to get passed. We want to get to the president's desk. We are pleased that he is working with our speaker in making certain that the agenda is set forth. We are heading back on January 3rd to be sworn in and immediately go to work. Leader McCarthy has said we immediately will go to work and will work up until the time that the Secret Service closes and the capitol police close the capitol to prepare for the inaugural.

CUOMO: Good. It will be refreshing to see Congress get back to work for the American people. That's for sure.

BLACKBURN: Yes, it will. CUOMO: So a couple of questions about the cabinet. In terms of the

recent EPA pick, the concern is that the attorney general from Oklahoma is a denier of some of the science behind global warming. What do you know about Pruitt and how can you reassure people who believe that it is scientific fact that man has a hand in the effects of global warming, that Scott Pruitt, as the EPA administrator, will not be someone who denies that basic science?

BLACKBURN: First and foremost, Scott Pruitt has respect for the rule of law. And he understands, also, the heavy burden that the EPA by getting outside of their wheelhouse and past their mission, the burden that they have put on businesses. You know, at one point in a hearing, when we were doing our oversight work for the EPA, I asked the administrator about cost-benefit analysis. And her response to me was they didn't do cost-benefit analysis, because they were interested in the end product.

Now, that tells us a couple of things, Chris. They weren't interested in the impact it was going to have on business. Now, we are all for clean air. We're all for clean water. We are all for efficiencies when it comes to electric power generation.

CUOMO: Can you be for clean air and water if you do not believe that man has a hand in global warming?

BLACKBURN: Of course you can. Of course you can be a believer in clean air and clean water and realize that when you look at global warming or are climate change, as it is now popularly called, that it is cyclical. And you have to look at it in terms of centuries, not in terms of decades. And the science around that is not a settled science.

CUOMO: But the predictions you're talking about. I'm asking about something that you haven't addressed yet, which is the idea that our activities contribute greatly to what is warming our planet over time. Do you accept that?

BLACKBURN: I think that there are those that would say no, it is more of a cyclical process. There are those that will say, well, we do think humans have something to do with it.

CUOMO: It's not "some," though, congressman. You know that it's an overwhelming scientific consensus on the notion of whether or not man- made activities negatively impact global warming --

BLACKBURN: No, I do not --

CUOMO: -- it's not an open debate within the scientific community. It's a big majority and a small level of people that resist it on that level, not the predictions, not the cycles, no what you do about it, those are all very debatable. I'm talking about the basic science. The last word on this?

BLACKBURN: The fact is that there is still debate about that and the participation of human beings in this. We all will agree that we want the earth to stay healthy. We all want clean air, we want clean water. We also want productivity, and we want to make certain that efficiencies in our electric grid are realized, and we want to make certain that we are able to have the energy that is necessary to fuel a productive economy.

CUOMO: Congressman Blackburn, always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY. Thank you for making the case.

BLACKBURN: Good to be you. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, best for Christmas. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Chris, president-elect Trump vowing to keep his word on two big campaign promises, the wall and extreme vetting. Well, former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano joins us next to explain her plan to counter his.


[08:18:37] CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump thanking his supporters in Iowa last night and pledging to follow through on two of his key campaign promises.


TRUMP: We will suspend immigration from regions where it cannot be safely processed or vetted. You know I've used the expression extreme vetting. Extreme. Oh, it's going to be extreme.

We want people coming into our country, we want them coming in legally, but we want them coming legally. But we want them coming in.

You know, when I talk about, we'll build the wall, we will. There's going to be doors on the wall. Big, beautiful doors.


CAMEROTA: Here this morning with her reaction, former homeland security secretary, and current president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano.

Great to have you here in studio.


CAMEROTA: When you hear Mr. Trump talking about his ideas for immigration, what troubles you?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think we have to translate the ideas into reality. So I'm a former governor of Arizona, as well as former land security. I know that southwest border like the back of my hand. And when you go down there, you realize that a wall is not a solution to illegal immigration.

CAMEROTA: Why not? If you build a big wall, how do people will get around? NAPOLITANO: As I like to say, show me a 10-foot wall and I'll show

you a 12-foot ladder. That's not the point. The point is to have layers of security.

[08:20:02] Part is fencing, part of it is wall. Part of it is better ports of entry for legal migration and trade, air cover. Checkpoints on the road that come into the country from the border. All of those things that have been in place are being put in place now so that we have net negative migration actually from the south into the United States.

CUOMO: So, how do you -- if the president puts in plans about DACA, even dealing with people who came here illegally, even as children, that were brought in, so-called DREAMers.


CUOMO: If the law changes and all of that population are put in the category of those who must exit, because they are here illegally, you said University of California is not going to help with that.

NAPOLITANO: That's right.

CUOMO: Do you have the ability to not go along with what the law of the land is?

NAPOLITANO: Yes, we do not have a legal obligation to be adjunct immigration officers. Our university police focus on campus safety, but DACA, Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, the DREAMers, this is a really good program. This is taking students who were brought here as children, raised here, done everything right. Did well enough in school to get into the University of California.

These are people you want to keep in the country. They've had background checks, they've had criminal background checks --

CUOMO: But isn't the operative word there "you." and if the law changes and DREAMers are seen as, if you came in illegally, you are here illegally, whatever the law winds up saying is the consequence for that, what gives the University of California the right not to comply?

NAPOLITANO: Well, because we're not part of the federal government. There's no absolute obligation to be adjunct immigration officers, like I said.

Our law enforcement officers focus on things like campus safety. We also have an obligation to protect the privacy of student records. That's another federal law that's on the books.

But DACA was a good idea at the time. It remains a good idea at the time. It's a way to say, look, in immigration enforcement, you've got to have priorities. Felons, yes, gang members, yes, security threats, yes. Find them. Get them out of the country.

These are no risk young people that have been raised in this country, many of them have never actually been to their country of origin, don't speak the language. It doesn't make any sense to have a brain drain as part of your immigration policy.

CAMEROTA: We had Congressman Steve King on our program yesterday who feels quite differently about DREAMers, so-called DREAMers. Here's what he said.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Among all of these DREAMers, there are some awfully bad people. DREAMers go on up to the age of 37 or 38 or maybe older. Some of them are walking across the border on their own, lots of them, and we'll see them coming across every day at McAllen, 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.


NAPOLITANO: Well, Congressman King just wrong. He doesn't understand the program.

To qualify for DACA, you have to have lived here a certain number of years, you have to have come here as a young person. You have to have a criminal history check and all those other checks, as I mentioned. It has to be renewed every two years.

So, it's not as if all of a sudden, you get a criminal record and you're still safe because of DACA. It's a two-year renewal program. It's designed to do a case-by-case evaluation of young people who, you know, from a value standpoint and from a legal and constitutional standpoint make sense to keep in the country.

CUOMO: What do you think of General Kelly in the post of homeland security?

NAPOLITANO: I think -- I don't know General Kelly well. But I think the secretary feeds to be someone who can lead a large complex organization.

CUOMO: The military aspect trouble you at all?

NAPOLITANO: Not so much, but it is a civilian organization. It's run very differently than the Pentagon. You're dealing primarily with civilians. You do have the coast guard as part of homeland security.

But you've got to be able to multitask. On the same deal with a terrorism issue, something happening in the air with a terrorism issue, you've got to deal with cybersecurity, which is an emerging threat that no one yet is adequately dealing with.

CAMEROTA: Are there any of the cabinet picks you've heard thus far that you do have issues with? NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, I think senator sessions as the attorney

general, that's a troublesome pick. He's had such extreme views on so many issues that come before the Department of Justice.

CAMEROTA: You mean modern day or things he's said decades ago?

NAPOLITANO: Both. I would say both.

And I've testified before him many times. He's very anti-immigration. But, you know, you've got to have somebody that looks at immigration as a whole complex, a whole series of things, not all immigrants who are undocumented are alike.

The DREAMers are not the same as Steve King was talking about, someone sneaking across the border to deal drugs.

[08:25:01] These are very different situations. Your policy has to capture that.

CUOMO: Do you have hope that President-elect Trump will be a different person than he was during the campaign? That he does want to unite? That he will do things that really encapsulate the role of the president being a president for all?

NAPOLITANO: I hope so. And I think the country hopes so. And, you know, all presidents change once they take office. And the reality, the responsibility of the job really takes hold. But we're going to have to wait and see.

CAMEROTA: Janet Napolitano, thanks so much. Great to have you here.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

CUOMO: Come again!

CAMEROTA: The name "Trump" will still be associated with "Celebrity Apprentice." What conflicts of interest does this post for the president-elect? We get the bottom line, next.


CUOMO: President-elect Donald Trump says he will stay on as executive producer of "Celebrity Apprentice." Controversy, nontroversy.

Let's take it on as part of the bottom line with CNN political director David Chalian.

You know, I've put it as a binary choice, because that's what it is. This is going to bother people or it won't. This isn't about legal or illegal, is it?