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Trump Meets with Presidential Historian; Transgender Boy Ousted from Cub Scouts; Debbie Reynolds Dies Day After Daughter. Aired 8:30- 9a ET

Aired December 29, 2016 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:12] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect meeting with a noted presidential historian. That's none other than Douglas Brinkley. It was yesterday at Mar-a-Lago, at his estate. So, what did the incoming president want to know about his predecessor's heading into his inauguration? CNN contributor and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, well, he's here to tell us.

So, what did he want to know?

Well, first of all let's say that you were -


LEMON: Before you get to that, it's - the - there's an interesting back story here, right?


LEMON: You were there at Mar-a-Lago. You were a lunch guest of one of his longtime friends, Christopher Ruddy (ph). But then apparently Donald Trump himself came over and talked to you quite a bit.

BRINKLEY: Yes, I came over with Christopher Ruddy, a friend, and with the idea that I'd get to have a - some face time with him to talk about presidents and inaugurations and presidential memoirs and things like that. And he didn't disappoint. Really gave me an opportunity to ask him anything I wanted. And so I talked to him about presidents that he admired. Reagan is the one that he talked about first. But he said not just the policies of Reagan, but just the way the style of the Reagan years, the presidency. But also John F. Kennedy is somebody that he's attracted to that - and felt that Kennedy still has credence today.

And then I asked him about knowing presidents like Richard Nixon, and he told me stories about how they got to know each other, and his relationship with Jimmy Carter. And even a little bit about Barack Obama. So I - I kind of went through the galaxy of presidents. He says - he told me he was excited to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom his first night because of the -

LEMON: What did he say about the current president, because there's been some contention and now he's saying that the transition is going well. What - did he say anything of note?

BRINKLEY: He likes him. He likes him very much and feels that he's been helpful and that the transition couldn't be going better on a staff level. And personally he seems to have been - is a bit taken with President Obama's intelligence and willingness to develop a relationship with him.

[08:35:12] On the other land, Bill and Hillary Clinton, a little better (ph). He feels like he's known them for a long time. There's nothing new, really, that he's going to be learning from them at this moment in time. So he made it seem like his relationship with President Obama is healthy right now.

HARLOW: You just - in the context of, you know, really being a leading voice on the birther movement, et cetera, it's fascinating to hear that.

Talking about his inaugural address, he said to you that he will be writing it and that he's sort of modeling in on the style of Reagan and the aspiration and grand nature of Kennedy?

LEMON: What happened to Steven Miller?

BRINKLEY: Yes. Well, you know, that's the - the - what's interesting is one of the things he - he - we were talking about, William Henry Harrison, who gave this long-winded inaugural and then he died of pneumonia a month later, and Donald Trump said, look, I'm going to give a short inauguration. I don't want something long-winded. I don't like that. I want to get right to my point and I'm going to write it all myself. And I kind of maybe raised an eyebrow about that and he said, look, I've done best-selling books and I'm going to put my energy, it's going to be mine and I'm going to write it.

So, yes, he's going to have speech writers. I'm sure there are other people that are going to be giving input. But I think he liked to think that that end product that we're going to hear on that historic day in January is - comes from Donald Trump. He's probably going to take things that work for him on the campaign trail and kind of put some of those together and give it his own aura.

LEMON: So you are - you're here on CNN a lot. You appear on my show a lot. We analyze the president-elect, what he's saying, what he's tweeting, what he's doing. Is it surprising - maybe a little bit surprising to me that he would come over and speak to someone from a quote "elite media." What did he say? Did he have - did he weigh in on the media?

BRINKLEY: Well, he seemed to be aware. H was not very keen on the fairness of our network, CNN. He thought we were being hard on him. But, overall, you know, I think he's just feeling in a victorious mode right now. He knew me from history books or people have told him about some of the things.

One of the things I like about Donald Trump is, he'll tell you, I don't know anything about that, or, it's - you know, when it comes to history. He doesn't kind of do history faking. I don't think he processes life from a historical perspective and I think it's very much from the gut and perception of things around him. But he talked a little bit about the American spirit. And I mentioning him going to the moon and Neil Armstrong -


BRINKLEY: That he would be president in 2019 for that 50th anniversary on the moon and he said, I want to double-down on NASA. I think it's good for the spirit of the American people that we're competitive. And you're - we're getting reports now, of course, about China going to Mars and the like and he was talking about NASA, not the privatization of space, but the U.S. government getting back and making space exciting again.

HARLOW: Be fascinating to see.

Douglas Brinkley, wish we could have been there. Thank you.

BRINKLEY: It was fascinating. Thank you.

HARLOW: I bet.

Coming up, he joined the Cub Scouts but now he's not allowed to go to the meetings. So why is this eight-year-old being forced out? And is it discrimination? We will ask the boy and his mother, next.


[08:42:08] LEMON: (INAUDIBLE) Boy Scouts under fire after a decision to ban an eight-year-old transgender boy from participating in the Cub Scouts over his gender identity. Joe Maldonado and his mother Kristie are fighting this decision and they join me now.

How are you guys doing?




LEMON: A merry belated Christmas.

J. MALDONADO: Thank you.

LEMON: I understand you got a drone for Christmas.


LEMON: Are you excited?


LEMON: We forget in all of this that we're dealing with an eight-year- old - an eight year old boy here.

When you got the call from the scouts saying that they didn't want him to participate, what was your reaction?

K. MALDONADO: I was angry and hurt because he was going for a month and he was enjoying himself. Right from the beginning, I actually got permission, because I had asked to see if he could join. And they had mentioned no problem. So, I went, I gave them my fee, I filled out the application, and everything was going well for a month and then I received a phone call from the council saying that he can no longer be in the scouts because his identity is a female.

LEMON: But you - you told them? You asked about it, right? So what do you think changed? What changed, do you think?

K. MALDONADO: I believe it had to do with some of the parents. They made a call.


K. MALDONADO: Because they didn't ask for a birth certificate.

LEMON: Uh-huh. Yes.

K. MALDONADO: Umm, so -

LEMON: So what - why did you want to join?

J. MALDONADO: Because my friend was a - a boy - in the Boy Scouts and it was really fun. I had a barbecue. I was playing with my friends. It had a science - I did science experiments. And it was just so fun. I can't believe this happened.

K. MALDONADO: Right. The last day he was in, they had a big party and it was three hours. It was around Halloween. They had cupcakes. They were giving out badges. And then downstairs they were doing like science experiments. So he had a lot of fun the last day. And then, four days later, I received a call from the council.

LEMON: Joe, how did this make you feel when you heard that?

J. MALDONADO: Well, it made me feel sad at first but then I got really mad.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. And no crying, you were just mad and upset about it, right?

J. MALDONADO: Yes, I wasn't - I wasn't crying. No.

LEMON: Yes. You don't think it's fair?

J. MALDONADO: No, not at all.

LEMON: Why not?

J. MALDONADO: Because - because - because all my friends get to do it and I can't.

LEMON: Yes. Kristie, this is what the Boy Scouts released a statement. They're saying, "it was brought to our attention that their child does not meet the eligibility requirements to participate in this program. So Boy Scouts of America, BSA, leadership reached out to the family to inform them and share information on alternative programs." Did they explain the eligibility requirements before?

K. MALDONADO: They did not. The last time I talked to them was that day when he mentioned that he could no longer be in the Boy Scouts. And that was on the phone. That was the last time.

[08:45:10] LEMON: What are the alternatives that they presented to you?

K. MALDONADO: They didn't.

LEMON: They didn't say anything?



K. MALDONADO: No, not at all.

LEMON: At all? At all?

K. MALDONADO: No. The conversation on the phone, no.

LEMON: Yes. Not at all?


LEMON: No. And you want to be a part of the Cub Scouts?

J. MALDONADO: Absolutely.

LEMON: Correct? So what do you say? You know, people are watching. I know, you know, you're a big guy, eight years old, what do you say to people out there who are wondering why you wanted to join, and, you know, about this whole thing, what's going on?

J. MALDONADO: Well, I really don't understand why they kicked me out all because I was born a girl. This - this is just ridiculous.

K. MALDONADO: Because he lives as a boy. His identity is a boy. He wouldn't look right if I put him in Girl Scouts.

LEMON: Do you think that you're going to help people understand transgender issues? Do you think that maybe this - there was a reason that this happened? That maybe you're going to sort of be a conduit to the public to help people understand this?


LEMON: Mom, same question. K. MALDONADO: I just feel they should go by - they should accept all

transgenders, and go by their identity and not go by their birth certificates.

LEMON: I see - I see the way you're looking at him. What did you - what did you say to him?


LEMON: What do you say to him when - when you found out? How do you explain it, the conversation?

K. MALDONADO: He was actually in the car when I got the phone call.

LEMON: Yes. And it upset you more than it did him.

K. MALDONADO: It did. It did.

LEMON: Are you -

K. MALDONADO: Because he wants to just live life normal. He plays basketball. Everything's going well in school. He's accepting by his peers. I don't understand what the issue is.

LEMON: Are you going to take - are you considering legal action with this?

K. MALDONADO: I am not.



LEMON: Yes. Anything you want -

K. MALDONADO: I think this is the best way to go.


Are you going to be OK if you can't participate?

J. MALDONADO: Yes, I guess.


Thank you. I appreciate you joining us. Thank you, Joe.

K. MALDONADO: Ah, thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Best of luck to you. Happy New Year.

K. MALDONADO: Thank you.

LEMON: Poppy.

HARLOW: What a great interview. Thank you, mom. Thank you, Joe. We'll stay on this one.

Still to come for us, the death of Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds just a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away. Up next, we will speak with one of Reynolds' longtime friends, Tab Hunter, about her life and her legacy.

But first, what you eat before you work out can be just as important as the exercise itself. Whoops, I've already screwed up on that this morning. CNN health writer Jacqueline Howard shares some nutritionist approved picks in today's "Food as Fuel."


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH WRITER: Fueling up before exercise comes down to carbs. Before a moderate workout, like brisk walking or swimming, nutritionists recommend a low-fat granola bar or a banana. For more high intensity workouts, go for pasta or peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Timing also matters. Eat one to four hours before exercise. And if you like to work out first thing in the morning, nutritionists say to still eat something first, like eggs, toast, or fruit and yogurt. My personal favorite, multigrain toast with peanut butter, sliced bananas and a dash of cinnamon. Yum.



[08:52:20] HARLOW: Film legend Debbie Reynolds, one of Hollywood's biggest stars, died just a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away. Joining us now is one of Debbie Reynolds' close friends, Hollywood legend Tab Hunter, the author of "Tab Hunter Confidential."

We are so glad you're with us.

And let's just talk about your memories of this woman who meant so much to you. You've said that she was a contributor. That she gave so much. What do you mean?

TAB HUNTER, (via telephone): Well, I think it's very important in life. I mean we're all on this journey and I think we've got to be contributors and do something. And she was amazing gal. I knew her at the very beginning of her career because we were both starting out about the same time. You know, she was from Burbank High School, played the French horn in the band, lived in a wonderful little house in the neighborhood in Burbank with her mother Maxine, and her father and her brother. And with her first big paycheck, she bought a swimming pool that just fit inside the backyard, so when you step out of the screen door, you'd fall in the pool, practically. We did a lot of movie magazine layouts around that pool. And I dated her a lot. She was a - she was a heck of a lot of fun.

LEMON: Yes, you guys -

HUNTER: A very dedicated young woman. LEMON: Yes, you guys dated. I mean you've known her for six decades.

And then Debbie wrote in her book "Unsinkable," she said, "we always laughed and had fun when we were together. Tab's a wonderful man. I'm glad we've been friends for so long." How would you - I mean having dated her and - how would you describe her friendship?

HUNTER: Well, you know, she - we were both kids starting out in the industry and she was put under contract with Warner Brothers, and they dropped her, and luckily, you know, MGM snatched her up and put her under contract, and she went on from there. And she was outstanding. MGM did great musicals. And it was the end of the studio system or toward the end of it, and they made a major star out of her. She was phenomenal.

LEMON: You guys - you -

HUNTER: We used to go, you know, skiing together and we'd go to the ice shows together. And it was sort of a, you know, just a young group. But I loved being with her.

And then we didn't see each other for a long, long while, but every time we would, I'd say, hi, Mary Francis. She'd say, hi, Art. You know, we knew each other with our real names before Hollywood got its stamp on us.

LEMON: And so you really know her. And that's why I want to ask you because you wrote the - the -

HUNTER: Well, I didn't see her for a long, long while. You know, but every now and then, I would see her and then I asked her to be a part of my documentary, "Tab Hunter Confidential," and she graciously did that. And then I heard from her not long before Carrie's 60th birthday and she asked me if I would join them. I was unable to. And then when I heard about Carrie's passing, I - I just sent her a note. And then to see that on the news last night, just was a major shock.

[08:55:06] LEMON: Broken heart, you think?

HUNTER: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. And I can't wait to go to church this morning and say a prayer for her.

HARLOW: Let's talk about her sense of humor. Her bawdy sense of humor. This woman could make us laugh.

HUNTER: Bawdy is a wonderful word because she always - she had a great spark. She was wonderful. She really was.

HARLOW: When we look at what she and her daughter have done for women in Hollywood, it really can't be overstated. I mean they were in these incredible roles that I think a lot of people sort of didn't realize how much they would both break through and lay this path.

HUNTER: Well, without a doubt. And Debbie was a - just a hair of a tomboy. She was this little gal and she just - she had a little - she had a spark. It was quite - quite incredible. I was very fortunate to know her. LEMON: What's the takeaway from her life, you think?

HUNTER: Sorry?

LEMON: What's the takeaway from her life? What did the world learn from Debbie Reynolds?

HUNTER: I think just what I said about her being a contributor. We're all on a journey and her journey was a fabulous one. We've got to be thankful every day that we're here.

LEMON: Yes. Tab Hunter.

HARLOW: It's wonderful to see. Thank you for sharing your personal memories of her.

HUNTER: Thank you so much for, you know, guys, you know, she was a major part of my early Hollywood career and I love - loved her.

LEMON: And, of course, our condolences. We appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thank you, Tab.

HUNTER: Thank you.

LEMON: "Newsroom" with Victor Blackwell picks up right after this break.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell, in for Carol Costello this morning. Thank you for being with me.

We're beginning this morning with sad news. Tributes pouring in as Hollywood mourns the death of actress and singer Debbie Reynolds. She died just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher. Her son tells CNN that "she's with Carrie now."

[09:00:00] The beloved star took Hollywood by storm for decades, making her debut in 1952's "Singing in the Rain."


DEBBIE REYNOLDS, ACTRESS/SINGER (singing): Good morning, good morning, we danced the night whole through. Good morning, good morning to you.