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Trump Names Son-in-Law as Adviser; Confirmation Hearings for Trump's Cabinet; Dems to Re-Hang Painting Depicting Police. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired January 10, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:31:03] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Donald Trump named son-in-law, Jared Kushner as senior White House adviser. Is that a big surprise? Nope. But is it a big problem? Maybe. Why? Because although his son-in-law played a major role in the campaign, there are big, potential ethics conflicts and this law hanging over their heads that was passed in 1967.
Let's get to "The Bottom Line" with senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and host of the podcast "Examining Politics," David Drucker, and CNN political commentator and senior contributor for "The Daily Caller," Matt Lewis.
So, the law, David Drucker, is vague. That's scary when you're in politics. There was one decision in 1993 involving Hillary Clinton, but it wasn't on this issue. It was about the FACA and whether or not her health care thing was an advisory committee. It was in the weeds. Two of the three judges said, by the way, I don't think that Clinton did the wrong thing putting his wife in the White House, I don't think the nepotism laws were meant to apply to it. A third judge said, you two are crazy, but people don't know. What's your take on this being about the law?
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORR., "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, as you've said, this really hasn't been tested. And so when it hasn't been tested, it's hard for us to make a definitive determination about where the thing is going to fall. I think politically the issue for Donald Trump is whether or not voters feel like he's getting the job done, because if he is not, this is how Washington works. Everybody in town that wants to do business with the Republican Congress and the new White House are all going to rush to the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump's not asking them to do it. Trump doesn't necessarily want them to do it. Maybe he does. But they're all going to do it so they can drop in conversation that I'm staying at the Trump Hotel, come meet me for drinks at the Trump Hotel, because in Washington when you're doing deals and you're trying to advocate for legislation or against legislation, you want any edge you can get. And so just dropping that, I'm staying here, meet me here, they're going to see that as a way to facilitate what they want on the back end and I think that's the danger for Trump. In the immediate, he is going to make a lot of money because he's president of the United States.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Matt, so here's what we do know about Jared Kushner and what his plans are. He plans to resign from his management position that he holds at many of his companies, and to divest from a, quote, "significant number of his assets to comply with government ethics rules." As a conservative, are you concerned about Jared Kushner becoming a senior adviser?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think it's probably a good thing. I think it's obviously appropriate that he takes care of the potential business conflict of interest.
In terms of the nepotism thing, I don't have a problem with it. Clearly this is somebody who's been advising Donald Trump for a long time. I think he's probably giving him good advice. It worked to get him to the presidency and I think he may have a calming effect compared to some of the other people who might otherwise be whispering in Trump's ear.
DRUCKER: And, look, I think part of what we're trying to deal with here is, you know, how effective Jared Kushner is going to be. I mean -
CUOMO: What do you think of that? He's a young man. He's never been in politics before. So a lot of this currency is based on the son-in-law intimacy value with Trump, that Trump will trust him. But trust in politics is often based on experience and gut level, right, and those tough decisions. How do you think it plays?
DRUCKER: Well, we know that trust does (INAUDIBLE) trust - we know that Trump does trust Jared Kushner.
DRUCKER: And we saw Jared Kushner play a very effective role during the campaign. So I think the question is, what kind of a gatekeeper is he going to be in the White House? Does he have a relationship with his father-in-law such that he can tell his father-in-law, no, I don't think that's a good idea. I don't think we can be critical of Jared Kushner because Trump trusts him, because that's who a president needs around him.
DRUCKER: But you do want senior advisers around the president who can tell them no. Who can even be willing to say things like, if you do that, I'm going to walk, because at that time you can communicate to the most powerful man really in the world that -
CUOMO: It doesn't seem like it's being done right now, though. So if the - you know, if the past is any predictor of the future, I don't know who tells President-elect Donald Trump what to do.
[08:35:04] The idea of the divestiture that Matt Lewis was talking about. The ethical standard is semblance of impropriety, which means, if it looks bad, is it bad. How do they pass that test here? We know that Kushner has brought more than one person in to meet in with the president-elect, who he did business with -
CUOMO: Recommending them to do something for the government. How do you satisfy that idea that this person doesn't have an obvious conflict?
DRUCKER: Look, because the Trump brand is so ubiquitous, I don't think you can ever really pass this test politically with your opponents. I do think there are things Trump can do, if he really wants to, to separate himself from his businesses. I mean Jared Kushner is as, you know, we are learning, is resigning his positions with his companies, and separating himself. I mean I think the question is, will Trump separate him and his children from the business while he is in the White House and turn it over to an independent executive who would make all of the decisions the same way presidents and politician with a lot of money have separated themselves from their investments during the time of being in office.
And Trump has been very hesitant to do that. He's talked about the need - he's basically said, hey, they elected me knowing that I was a businessman, so I don't think it's necessary that I do this. Interestingly enough, though, a lot of the people Trump is hiring, trying to bring on to his cabinet, they are going through normal channels. It may be taking a while through the Ethics Office, but you're seeing them separate themselves from their business dealings.
DRUCKER: And so I think the question is, does Trump ever feel motivated to do it?
CAMEROTA: So let's talk about this, Matt. So between Jared Kushner plus the spate of confirmation hearings that we're seeing this week with, you know, Jeff Sessions beginning today, is there anybody who is not going to pass muster?
LEWIS: Well, first of all, I would say I think this is - whether it's strategic or fortuitous, Republicans are flooding the zone. Democrats are trying to, you know, it's like a hockey goalie trying to block 10 shots. You know, if you go up for Kushner, then what about Jeff Sessions. So there's going to be like eight - you know, then President Obama's giving a speech, Donald Trump's giving a press conference. A lot of news. So how do Democrats - they can't do everything, all right, so they've got to pick your - pick your spots. But if history is a predictor, the odds are pretty good that somebody, one of these Trump nominees, will stumble or there will be something that comes out in the vetting that stops them.
CAMEROTA: You think, even with the numbers so heavily in Republican's favor, you think that there is - there could be an impediment with one of Mr. Trump's picks? LEWIS: I certainly do. You know, history seems to indicate one person,
whether it's Tom Daschle or Linda Chavez with George W. Bush, will hit some stumbles. And, you know, it could be Tillerson because there you could have some bipartisan opposition. You could potentially have John McCain and Lindsay Graham and maybe a Marco Rubio join with Democrats if they don't like what they hear about Russia, what he has to say about Russia. It's possible.
CAMEROTA: They might unearth something during the confirmation hearing -
CAMEROTA: That you think could trip him up?
LEWIS: You don't know what's going to happen until they -
CUOMO: And Iran too.
LEWIS: Until they start talking.
CUOMO: With Tillerson.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Chris.
CUOMO: I mean with Tillerson you've got that article running around this morning, Alisyn, about, you know, the business that Tillerson did with Iran. The problem is, you know, as David Drucker was speaking to it, when you have people with such intricate, developed business lives and relationships, this gets to be a very sticky wicket, as they say when you're doing this kind of analysis of. We've never seen anybody like Trump. Eisenhower was the closest. His business concerns were nothing like what we have with Donald Trump. So are they going to have to create a new standard?
DRUCKER: Well, you know, the voters will decide what the standard is ultimately. But I think that, as we watch these confirmation hearings, a couple of things. If Democrats decide to treat all of Trump's nominees as equally bad, then in a sense none of them are bad. You have a much better chance of succeeding if you say basically, look, I'd prefer to confirm none of them, but most of them are acceptable. These particular two or three, you know, these are out-of-bounds.
CUOMO: They've still got to get Republicans votes or they can do nothing.
DRUCKER: Yes, number two, it's usually the small things that trip you up. Not the big, political problems, but with Tom Daschle eight years ago it was a small tax issue, dug up, by the way, by Senate Democrats, nothing by - nothing that people actually expected.
CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line." Great to talk to you.
DRUCKER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We also want to tell you about this developing story. Police in Orlando are vowing to find the killer who shot one of their own. We have the latest on the manhunt for you, next.
[08:43:07] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."
Confirmation hearings about to begin on Capitol Hill. First up, Senator Jeff Sessions, attorney general hearing. Also in the hot seat today, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, Mr. Trump's pick for Homeland Security chief.
President-elect Trump tapping his son-in-law and confidant Jared Kushner to be a senior White House adviser. The Trump team says the pick does not violate the anti-nepotism law. Democrats want the Justice Department to review this appointment.
President Barack Obama will deliver his farewell address tonight. He is returning to his hometown of Chicago to reflect on his accomplishments and legacy.
There's a manhunt underway in the Orlando area. Hundreds of law enforcement officers are looking for a man suspected of shooting and killing a veteran police officer on Monday. There is a $60,000 reward being offered for his capture. Call your local authorities if you know anything.
The Clemson Tigers are champions of college football. Receiver Hunter Renfrow catching his second touchdown pass of the game with one second remaining to give the Tigers a thrilling 35-31 comeback victory.
For more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to newdaycnn.com for the latest.
Chris, hurry back, the "Five Things" are very hard to do without you. They're exhausting.
CUOMO: You nailed it. I am just dragging you down.
CAMEROTA: Sure thing. Well -
CUOMO: All right, so when we come back, we're going to discuss this controversial painting. Some call it offensive. And there's no question that lawmakers are divided on Capitol Hill. But what is the right thing to do? This painting is supposed to be hung on the walls in Congress. It was taken down. Next.
[08:48:50] CUOMO: All right, so this morning, members of the Congressional Black Caucus are going to gather to rehang a controversial paging. Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter removed the artwork on your screen from its spot in the Capitol. Some lawmakers criticized this painting because it depicts police as animals. One of them seems to have a pig's head. The painting belongs to Congressman William Lacy Clay's district, who's planning to take legal action against Congressman Hunter for taking down the painting.
Let's discuss with CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show," Ben Ferguson.
Ben, I don't think we should take too much time discussing the legality of this for it to be a theft, which is what Lacy Clay wants to do with it.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
CUOMO: That would mean that the other congressman took it and kept it away. He supposedly delivered it to the congressman's office. It doesn't really set up as a theft.
CUOMO: The real question is whether or not it should be on the wall. What's your take?
FERGUSON: Well, if this congressman wants this painting to be up in his own office, that's fine. That's his right to do that. If he wants to sit there and depict police officers as pigs and he thinks that's what his constituency wants him to believe or to stand for, he should do that in his own office. But when you put this out there inside the Capitol Building, where the Capitol Police and others are walking around, the government should not sanction an artwork in Washington that depicts police officers as pigs.
[08:50:15] Let's remember, police officers get shot and killed. We have many of them that are African-American that are shot and killed in the line of duty. This has no place in the halls of Washington. It's an embarrassment.
CAMEROTA: Yes, Ben, I - I just want to give you a little bit more context to see if you still feel this way.
CAMEROTA: This was the winner of the National Congressional Art Competition. They hold this every year for decades. Who - they vote around the country. This was a high schooler who depicted this from Missouri. And whoever wins, it's from every state, then that painting is put up in the halls of Congress. This is how it's worked for decades. So I get that you don't like the painting, but it sounds like you're being a little politically correct to say that any painting that you don't like or that depicts a controversial image shouldn't be hung. That's not the tradition or the spirit of this.
FERGUSON: Well, I also think if you look back at past winners, I highly doubt you've ever had a policeman depicted as a pig before in any one of these. And imagine if someone would -
CAMEROTA: Right. So you want to sensor the artwork if you don't like the subject matter?
FERGUSON: And, again, I don't - I don't have a problem with this hanging in the congressman's office. That is his decision. That is his right with his art that he is in favor of. I have a big problem -
CAMEROTA: That's not the rules of this competition.
FERGUSON: Well, I understand the rules -
CAMEROTA: The rules of this competition is that the winner - the national winner hangs in the halls of Congress publicly.
FERGUSON: But I also think - then I think you should relook at the rules and decide that you don't allow defensive artwork. Imagine if someone would have won this contest and it would have been a negative image of the president of the United States of America, whether it b Barack Obama or Donald Trump, should that be hanging in the halls of Congress?
This is a lot an attack on law enforcement, and this goes back to the - the Congressional Black Caucus. What are they doing in Washington? What are they standing for?
FERGUS: They're literally taking time today, out of - when they're supposed to be doing the work of the people, taxpayers pay their salaries, to put up a piece of artwork that attacks the police and depicts them as pigs. That is not a message that we want to be sending to young people. That is not a message we want to be sending to kids.
CUOMO: That's your - that's your problem, though, Ben, that's the problem here. First of all, Joe Casper, the chief of staff for Representative Hunter says, if it is rehung on the wall there, that he would not take it down again. So we have to factor that in. And you're dealing with a very tricky problem here. One, you have an aspect of art, although nobody's questioning the right of this young man to paint it or for it to be displayed, but you're getting into this tricky situation -
CAMEROTA: That is.
CUOMO: No, no, no. No, it can be displayed -
FERGUSON: No, I'm - no, I'm not - I'm not -
CAMEROTA: You don't think it should be displayed. You don't think it should be displayed where it is.
CUOMO: The right to be - the right to be displayed is not being questioned.
FERGUSON: No, no, no, it was - let's be clear - let's be clear -
CUOMO: Where they're displaying it is what he's talking about.
CUOMO: But that is a tricky consideration because, how do you avoid this problem, this slippery slope of how we only show what we feel? And you say, well, not in the halls of Congress. Not where the taxpayers pay for it. Others would argue, that's exactly where it should be, even though it is offensive and will bother people because that's how you (INAUDIBLE) ideas in a democracy.
FERGUSON: And, Chris, here - here's my point. I think we shouldn't have artwork that is hanging in the halls of Congress that depicts police officers, or the military, in a negative light when they protect and serve and put their lives on the line. And when you dial 911, they come and help you and they save you. I think this congressman knows that. I think this is grandstanding by the Congressional Black Caucus to somehow be relevant today and to start some sort of race-type conversation. This is wrong and it should not hang there, period.
CAMEROTA: Ben, thank you very much for your perspective on this.
CUOMO: Look, it's a tough one because it's not easy to like. Nobody likes to see police being depicted that way, or at least they shouldn't, but what's the right thing to do? Tweet us @newday or post your comment at facebook.com/newday.
How about some "Good Stuff," next?
[08:57:50] CUOMO: All right, it's time for "The Good Stuff."
Retired Army vet Jim Hodgins has been dealing with a leaking roof for a long time. He's unable to fix it himself because he is bound to a wheelchair. About 20 years ago, Hodgins was shot six times when someone robbed his store. The Main Veterans Project heard about his situation and two local roofing companies did the right thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE HANSON, A.M. ROOFING: I really think that we need to do more to take care of our vets, you know, and I think it's, you know, that you've got to put your money where your mouth is.
JIM HODGINS, RETIRED ARMY VETERAN: Can't thank them enough for spending their time doing it. Great to have people doing things for you like that for nothing, just out of the kindness of their heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Not for nothing, but because of your sacrifice to this country. The veteran is expected to be able to return home with a new roof over his head next week, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Chris, that is beautiful. That's a wonderful story.
All right, let's lighten it up a little more. Time now for late night laughs. The comics jumping into the feud between President-elect Donald Trump and Meryl Streep. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CORDEN, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": In a tense exchange yesterday, a U.S. Navy destroyer fired warning shots at fast approaching Iranian naval ships. So, of course, our president-elect tweeted about how overrated Meryl Streep is.
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Of course the president-elect, Trump, was too focused on defeating ISIS and creating jobs to pick a fight with a celebrity. Just kidding. Trump tweeted, "Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood."
If you can refuse to release your taxes, you can call it a ban on an entire religion, you can play footsie with a dictator, but calling Meryl Streep overrated? No. No. Too far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Funny stuff, Chris. Funny stuff.
Great job last night with Bernie Sanders. That was a terrific town hall. And hurry back here. We have a lot to cover this week.
CUOMO: See you soon.
CNN's special coverage of the Senate confirmation hearings begins right now with Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer.