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Donald Trump Expresses Skepticism Regarding Russian Interference in U.S. Election; Interview with Sean Spicer; Confirmation Battles Loom For Trump's Cabinet Picks; New U.S. Congress Begins On Tuesday; Trump Aide: He Will "Repeal A Lot" Of Obama's Actions; Biographer Says Trump Kicked Him Off His Golf Course. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 2, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On day one he's going to sing a series of executive order. One is repeal a lot of actions taken by this administration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. John has his paper ready to go. Chris is off this morning, John joins me.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's my cheat sheet. I have to know today is Monday, January 2nd.
CAMEROTA: Insert name here.
BERMAN: Happy New Year, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: I like it. We begin with president-elect Donald Trump renewing his skepticism of Russia's interference in the U.S. election. Mr. Trump claims he has inside information about these cyber-attacks that others don't now and he promises to reveal those details soon.
BERMAN: In the meantime, Trump's transition team says he plans to repeal, quote, "A lot of President Obama's executive actions on day one." Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer, he will join us in just a few moments. We're just 18 days from the inauguration. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty in Washington. Government, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. The president-elect is back in New York after spending two weeks at his resort in Florida. And he heads into his briefing with intelligence officials this week skeptical of their conclusions that Russian was behind the hacks, insisting that he knows some secret information about this that many people don't.
SERFATY: Donald Trump back in New York City this morning and gearing up for a busy week ahead. The president-elect meeting with intelligence officials for a briefing about Russian hacking just days after again expressing doubt about the intelligence community's conclusions about the Kremlin's interference in the U.S. election.
TRUMP: I just want them to be sure because it's a very serious charge, and I want them to be sure. And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster and they were wrong.
SERFATY: Trump referencing intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Iraq War to bolster his point, and claiming to have inside information about the hacking that he says he will reveal this week.
TRUMP: I also know things that other people don't know. And so they cannot be sure of this situation.
SERFATY: Trump's defiance pitting him against the Obama administration and many of his fellow Republicans.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: When you attack a country, it's an act of war.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (R) CALIFORNIA: If he's going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He's needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community.
SERFATY: While speaking to reporters outside his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, Trump, a lot time skeptic of email, offered this advice.
TRUMP: If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way, because I'll tell you what, no computer is safe.
SERFATY: Also on the president-elect's to-do list this week, filling several open cabinet spots, including the secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Agriculture, and giving a deposition related to his legal battle with Chef Jose Andres.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apologize to every Latino, to every Mexican.
SERFATY: Trump is suing Andres him after he pulled the plug on a restaurant at Trump's new hotel in Washington after the president- elect repeatedly insulted Mexicans during the campaign.
SERFATY: And as the president-elect works to fill out his cabinet, Democrats on Capitol Hill are threatening to drag out votes on Trump's nominees, claiming they have been slow on providing information to the committees ahead of their upcoming hearings. And already three liberal groups are calling for a delay in Senator Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing for attorney general. The hearing, John, was supposed to start next week. BERMAN: All right, Sunlen, thanks so much.
New this morning, the White House just announced that President Obama will deliver his farewell address in Chicago next week, next Tuesday. This comes when the president is set to meet with Democrats on Capitol Hill this Wednesday to discuss efforts to save Obamacare. CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. President Obama and the administration scheduling that farewell speech for January 10th. That is a farewell speech to be given in Chicago, Illinois, where President Obama got his start in politics. The president issuing a statement saying his farewell address follows a tradition started by George Washington in 1796.
Now, this is an opportunity for the outgoing president to thank his supporters for the journey of the last eight years, also to talk about the accomplishments over that period, including the Affordable Care Act, clean energy, and many other things. The president also trying to extend his legacy now, as you said, meeting with congressional Democrats on Wednesday to talk about preserving the Affordable Care Act even though many congressional Republicans and the incoming president have said they want to repeal it.
The importance of this for President Obama and the Democrats very much underscored by the fact that the incoming press secretary has said that president Trump, when he becomes president, will very much try to do what he said he's going to do, and that will be to sign executive orders getting rid of a number of the regulations that president Obama put into place. Back to you.
[08:05:07] CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Let's get some more information on this right now. We want to bring in Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary and communications director for president-elect Trump. Happy New Year, Sean.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Happy New Year, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Our pleasure, great to see you. OK, so, we know that Mr. Trump wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. Beyond Obamacare on day one, what specific regulation will he do away with?
SPICER: I think you're going to see a series of them, and that's to be announced. We're not going to get out ahead of ourselves. We released a video right around Thanksgiving talking about the first five or six executive orders he's going to issue. Some of them, withdrawing from TPP, renegotiating NAFTA and giving notice, instituting a lobbying ban that is very forward thinking that's saying if you want to serve in a Trump administration you need to serve this government, not yourself. It is going to have a five-year ban going forward. It also has a lifetime ban of people who want to serve in this administration and potentially lobby for a foreign government. There will be a lifetime ban on that.
There will be a slew of other things that come forward. But I think part of this is I think we'll have a roll-out when we talk about the agenda and how each of those regulations, both ones we'll repeal and put in place, help grow jobs and economic growth.
CAMEROTA: OK. Sean, let's talk about the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC. Mr. Trump says he knows things that other people don't. What will he be revealing to the American public on Tuesday or Wednesday?
SPICER: It's not a question of necessarily revealing. Remember, the president-elect is privy to a lot of classified information, intelligence reports. He gets briefed by his national security team on a daily basis. So as president-elect, he is privy to information that most people aren't, and he is able to understand what the intelligence is and draw conclusions from that.
But one thing I think that's missing from this discussion, Alisyn, is that this report that everyone keeps talking about is not final. The current president of the United States hasn't seen a final report. The intelligence community is talking about wrapping it up later this week. So for anyone to going out and talking about what's in the report, it's not final yet. And I think that the idea that we're jumping to conclusions before we have a final report is frankly irresponsible.
CAMEROTA: I said alleged hacking. I want to get back to my question. It's Mr. Trump who said he's going to reveal something. So what is it? He says he knows things. We accept obviously he knows things we don't know. He is getting intel briefing. Is he going to reveal something from an intel briefing?
SPICER: He's going to talk about his conclusions and where he thinks things stand. So he's not going to reveal anything that was privileged or shared with him classified. But I think he can share with people his conclusions of the report and his understanding of the situation and make sure people understand that there's a lot of questions out there, Alisyn.
Number one, look at what happened April 2015. The Chinese stole millions of records on U.S. current and former employees, their most sensitive information that was contained in security clearance forms. And nothing happened with the White House, not a single statement. And now you have an instant where there was a political activity going on, and the question is, is the response of this administration, the sanctions they put on, proportional with the activities that have happened? And number two, is it a political response to Russia or is it a diplomatic response, because we haven't seen these kind of sanctions in peacetime in our history.
CAMEROTA: Sean, just to correct you, you say not a single statement was ever issued or made after the Chinese hacking. I have the statement right here in my hands. This is from September, 2015, President Obama said, quote, "We are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset but is something will put significant strains on the bilateral relationships if not resolved." He went on the say "We're prepared to take countervailing actions in order to get their attention." So there were statements.
SPICER: He did answer that. The activity occurred in April of 2015. And what you're saying is six months later he made comments about it when asked. That's different than the activity they're going through right now. The White House is being very -- let me give you another piece of information. The president of the United States says in September, he, quote, told Vladimir Putin to, quote, "knock it off." If he knew then there was activity going on, why didn't they act? Was it because of a political reason, that they thought Hillary Clinton was going the win and they thought why address this now? It's only until Donald Trump won that they seemed to want to react to Russia.
CAMEROTA: Sean, I'm more interested in what Mr. Trump is going to do. We're not electing President Obama again. But you are representing Mr. Trump.
SPICER: I am.
CAMEROTA: If the conclusion is that, in fact, Russia and Vladimir Putin were behind the DNC hacks and tried to meddle in the election, what will Mr. Trump do about it?
SPICER: He will meet with his team, take their recommendations, and make a conclusion based on that as to what a proportion response should and could be.
CAMEROTA: And what does that look like?
SPICER: How can you ask me what it looks like if we don't have a final report?
CAMEROTA: Because you must be planning for that possibility.
[08:10:00] SPICER: No. The idea that you should be talking a about the conclusions or the actions you're going to take on a conclusion that you're not final yet is unbelievably irresponsible.
CAMEROTA: Wait a minute, Sean.
SPICER: No, no. Hold on. The report is not final. He has not been briefed by the heads of the intelligence community yet, and you're asking me what his response should be.
CAMEROTA: He has not been briefed by the heads of the intelligence community about whether or not they believe Russia is behind the hacking?
SPICER: No. They're coming in later this week to do that. And so the idea that you're asking me, and neither has the president of the United States, frankly, because the report isn't final. So the idea you're asking anybody what their reaction should be to a non-final report is unbelievable.
CAMEROTA: Hold on, Sean.
SPICER: No, no. Not hold on. The idea we're asking people and making assumption on a report that's not final is unbelievable.
CAMEROTA: So, in other words, Lindsey Graham and Senator John McCain are also unbelievable and irresponsible?
SPICER: They're not the ones instituting the sanctions. It's the president of the United States.
CAMEROTA: They're planning hearings about it. They've believe these --
SPICER: Listen to what you just said. They're planning hearings. They are actually trying to get it right, listen to what's going on, get the intelligence and then come to a conclusion.
CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. Sean --
SPICER: That's actually the right way to go.
CAMEROTA: They have stated they believe Russia is behind this, that's why they're holding the hearings.
SPICER: Understood. They believe something. Then they're having a hearing to get more information and coming to a conclusion. That's what we believe should happen. Understand all the information, get all of it, get briefed, make sure the report is final, get the intelligence community to brief us on that, and then come to a conclusion.
CAMEROTA: And you're not going to make any plans, you guys aren't even having conversations about the possibility --
SPICER: I know it's frustrating for you that we're doing it in a logical way. No, we're going to get all the information, get briefed properly, and then make a decision. We're not going to put the cart before the horse.
CAMEROTA: And then Mr. Trump is going to speak with his team and decide something.
CAMEROTA: Sean, I know that you want to talk this morning not about any of this, but you want to talk about the cabinet picks, so let's do that. There are still -- we'll put up who Mr. Trump has chosen already. But I'll tell you what posts have to be filled, secretary of Veterans Affairs, council of economic advisers, trade representative, secretary of agriculture.
SPICER: And the director of national intelligence.
CAMEROTA: OK, director of national intelligence. So, since I know your team likes the big reveal we might be getting this week from Mr. Trump, can you give us a reveal of who might be chosen next?
SPICER: Absolutely not, but I appreciate the effort. I think until Mr. Trump makes the decision, there is no decision. He's continuing to meet with folks this week. He met with a lot over this week, made a series of phone calls and in-person meetings to finalize those picks. They're all very important picks and that's why he's taking his time making a deliberative process to get through.
What I think is unfortunate, however, is you saw last night a report coming out from Senator Schumer about how they're planning to oppose all these individuals. And just as a reminder for folks, because I think a lot of folks probably feels like this is how it normally works. In 2008 when President Obama came in, the Republican- controlled Senate confirmed seven of his nominees before they took off and five the following week, so 13 members of President Obama's team were in place within five days of him actually taking office, seven of them before he got sworn in. That's the kind of way it should be looked at.
It is sad that Senator Schumer has chosen to politicize everything, because each of these individuals is an unbelievable agent of success and change who is going to help this country move forward. And the idea the Democrats' choice is to figure out from day one how to oppose every one of these individuals is frankly said.
CAMEROTA: So the Republicans didn't slow roll or dig in on anything, right, that President Obama wanted? They wanted to help and avoid gridlock.
SPICER: There's a difference, Alisyn. I think that there's no question we have a philosophical and political difference of where this country should go and the policies that should be enacted. But we believe and we showed through our actions in 2008 that the president, if they nominate qualified people, they should be nominated. The numbers speak for themselves. We confirmed 13 people in his cabinet within five days, seven before he ever took office. I don't know how you can prove that more than those kinds of actions.
CAMEROTA: What Chuck Schumer has said, Senator, what the Democrats have said, if they're not comfortable --
SPICER: They put out a list.
CAMEROTA: Why should they go along with it? They'll do whatever they can.
SPICER: No, no. They put a list of 10 people out saying we're going to oppose these 10 people, not on the basis of their qualification to hold office, not on their qualification to enact change or that they were the best person, but because they thought they could score political points.
CAMEROTA: And the Republicans, again, before President Obama ever got into office, you know famously said we're going to oppose every possible thing that we can. Isn't this sort of how the game is played in Washington sadly?
[08:15:00] SPICER: Again, just to correct the record. Mitch McConnell, a year after President Obama was in in a political setting, our goal is to make him a one-term president. What Republican doesn't want to make sure that we have one-term people of the opposition party? That's our job, to make sure we elect more Republicans.
So that comment was said a year after he got in office. The idea that they're now trying to obstruct this cabinet prior to him even taking office is quite contrary to anything that's even come close to this.
CAMEROTA: I think your timeline might be wrong. I will check that, Sean because I think it was right when President Obama was elected. Either way, there will be more days for you and I to debate all this. Sean, thank you very much for joining us.
SPICER: Happy New Year, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: You too -- John.
BERMAN: Happy New Year one and all. A lot to discuss no doubt, right? Sean Spicer making claims about Vladimir Putin and Russia, making claims about the nomination and confirmation process, about the executive actions that President Trump will take on day one. We'll talk about all of this with Democratic member of Congress, next.
BERMAN: Just 24 hours, the 115th Congress will be sworn in starting at new term with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate, but most importantly, in 18 days the White House as well. The Republicans vowed to push through a makeover of government taking advantage of this total control. So what are Democrats going to do about this?
Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from New York joins me right now. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. We just heard incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speak at length with our very own Alisyn Camerota.
He talked about some of the executive actions that President Trump will take the minute he gets in. Among them, executive actions perhaps on TPP and trade. You oppose TPP so would support any action he takes to put that to bed forever?
REPRESENTATIVE HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: I certainly think that as it relates to trade, we need to reevaluate the policy that has put in place over the last few decades in terms of making sure that middle class folks and working families particularly in the rust belt states where jobs have been lost can continue to get those jobs back.
BERMAN: And he talks about a lobbying ban, you know, as part of this draining the swamp. Is that something you support as well?
[08:20:05]JEFFRIES: Well, he's talked about draining the swamp, but what we've seen is conflict of interest after conflict of interest. He emerge as relates to the Trump Foundation, the charitable endeavors of his children as well as the continued entanglement of his businesses. So he's going to talk the talk. The big question, John, is whether he'll walk the walk.
BERMAN: And there is no question that he did promise to give a news conference on December 15th where he talked about how he separate his businesses, he didn't do that. We don't know if he will ever give that news conference or how he will separate his business interest. I guess, what I was getting at, though, is there are areas, as a Democratic member of Congress, where you could see yourself agreeing with a President Trump.
JEFFRIES: Well, there should be areas if he plans on following up on some of his promises as it relates to doing things in the best interest of hardworking Americans, as the middle class, those who've been left behind for decades.
We've seen wage stagnation in this country that has taken place going all the way back to the early 1970s. But what we've seen from President-elect Trump is that his cabinet picks, for instance, are inconsistent with his rhetoric on the campaign trail.
His proposed labor secretary, for instance, opposes a minimum wage increase and overtime pay. His proposed health and human services secretary wants to end Medicare.
BERMAN: But you know, is incoming labor secretary -- I mean, Donald Trump never supported a federal increase in the minimum wage. Donald Trump, he talks about HHS secretary. Donald Trump has always opposed Obamacare and said he wanted to repeal or replace it.
So in that sense it is consistent. Since you brought up Obamacare, let's talk about that. You are a Democratic member of Congress. There's going to be action in there starting very, very soon, tomorrow presumably on trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. What are you going to do about it?
JEFFRIES: Repeal and replace has been a cute slogan that has peddled to the American people by Republicans the last six years. But the reality is, now that Republicans have an opportunity to govern, the stakes are incredibly high.
Let's think about what the Affordable Care Act has been able to do for the American people, more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans now have coverage as a result of Obamacare.
No American can get kicked off of health care because of a pre- existing condition. We have younger Americans who can now stay on their parents' insurance plan all the way to the age of 26. These are things that the American people embraced.
It's going to be very difficult for Republicans to repeal and replace, particularly when we don't see an actual credible plan that has been put forth.
BERMAN: Pre-existing conditions are something that Donald Trump says he wants to keep in place. Keeping their kids on parent's insurance until age 26, also something that most Republicans say they would like to keep in there as well.
They may stick around. You're right. I mean, it's going to be hard to pay for it without the rest of Obamacare, but they seemed like this is something they want to do. As a Democrat, how will your vote stop them?
JEFFRIES: Abraham Lincoln once said public sentiment is everything. With it nothing can fail, without it nothing can succeed, and so our job is going to be to communicate the facts to the American people --
BERMAN: Has it not been your job since Obamacare was passed, though, and Donald Trump just won the presidential election, Republicans keep on winning elections in Congress?
JEFFRIES: Well, we've been dealing with a fog of misinformation that's been coming from Republicans in Washington for the last six years. We have to do a better job in dealing with that reality, but particularly because they now have an opportunity to govern, we have a chance to clearly communicate to the American people what's at stake.
You mentioned his health and human services secretary has been involved in the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But what I also said is he wants to end Medicare as we know it.
These are the things that Republicans want to do now that they have the opportunity to govern, and we've got to be able to lay out the stakes to the American people. There will be buyer's remorse because the Republicans in Washington in all likelihood are going to overreach.
They did not win a majority of Americans who came to the polls and voted for a presidential candidate. Donald Trump lost the popular vote. So we've got to keep that in mind. We can't overcorrect in this country, and I'm confident that Democrats will be on the rise as we move forward.
BERMAN: We've 20 seconds left. President Obama coming to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to talk to House and Senate Democrats about protecting Obamacare. What do you want to hear from him?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think he's probably going to thank congressional Democrats in both the House and Senate for the partnership that has taken place, but also lay out a vision for how we can better communicate to the American people the things that Democrats want to accomplish on behalf of the middle class and all those who want to be part of it.
BERMAN: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of the great state of New York, thanks for being with us.
JEFFRIES: Thank you so much.
CAMEROTA: So what happened when the author of an unflattering Donald Trump biography ran into the president-elect on Mr. Trump's Florida golf course? Well, it was awkward, and that biographer tells us about it next.
CAMEROTA: So a couple days ago, our next guest, a Trump biographer was trying to play golf at Donald Trump's golf course in Florida when he ran into Donald Trump. Now, the problem is that that biographer, Harry Hurt, his book was quite critical of Mr. Trump. So their exchange was awkward.
Harry hurt joins us now. He's the author of "Lost Tycoon, The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump." Harry, I see you in your lovely golf ensemble there.
HARRY HURT, AUTHOR, "LOST TYCOON: THE MANY LIVES OF DONALD J. TRUMP": Yes. This is what I wore on Friday. The last two years I've won nothing but traditional golf apparel on the golf course, which is sometimes known as knickers or plus fours. That's what I'm wearing now. I'm going to play later today, but not at a Trump course.
CAMEROTA: Right. I don't think you're welcome on a Trump golf course again. I get your point, you take the game seriously. What happened? First of all, why did you go up to Mr. Trump and what did he say to you when you approached him?
HURT: I went up out of courtesy and respect for the office of the president of the United States. Actually, the last time I've seen Trump was the Saturday before Easter 2015 at the same golf course with my friend, David Koch. We were chatting on the putting green. It was the first time I've worn knickers.