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Trump Tweets Inauguration Bigger Than Expected; Press Could Be Evicted from White House Under Trump; First Daughter Ivanka Trump; Famed Ringling Brothers Circus to Close After 130 Years; Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired January 16, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] SARA ARMSTRONG, CEO, PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: We have only a few days left to get all the final details in. But we are very excited and we are ready.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have any surprises in store for us?

ARMSTRONG: Well, you know, Mr. Trump is a very different president- elect. And so I think we're going to have some -- a few surprises that will be -- make it special for all the people coming to town. You know, I think it's about making it about the American people. And we want to make it special for those individuals. And so we have a lot of great entertainment for them. We have several concerts for them. The Voices of the People concert prior to our welcome celebration. So I think people will have fun.

COSTELLO: I interviewed Steve Ray, he's going to be announcing the inaugural parade this time around. And he told me there will be even more surprises than you just outlined. I'll let my viewers listen to what he has to say then you can comment on the other side. Here he is.


STEVE RAY, 2017 PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL ANNOUNCER: I've never met him. So I should have that honor once the parade is done. And I think really this is so uniquely American that we get to celebrate the transition of power as opposed to, as you know, right after the Brexit vote, Mr. Cameron was out as PM on a Tuesday and Theresa May in on a Thursday. No time for this type of celebration. So again uniquely American. And this is truly an honor.


COSTELLO: OK. Specifically what he's talking about, he says the inaugural parade will be much shorter than in years past. It will only last, what, an hour and a half? Why is that?

ARMSTRONG: Well, we wanted to make sure that we have an enjoyable performance for everybody. We had a lot of applicants apply and we weren't actually able to include all of them. We're putting those individuals into the Voices of the People concert. We have a lot of military performances and we wanted to celebrate our military. We also wanted to make sure that we pay tribute to veterans, first responders. So we have a large audience of those types of groups coming. And we thought that an hour and a half was going to be a wonderful parade for everybody. It's going to be terrific.

COSTELLO: So it's not because there weren't enough acts to fill the two hours?

ARMSTRONG: No, absolutely not.

COSTELLO: To fill two hours of parade.

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely not. In fact that's where we're putting the other groups.

COSTELLO: I ask you that in light of, you know, you heard Jennifer Holliday, she really wanted to sing at Trump's inauguration for the American people.


COSTELLO: But felt she had to pull out because her fans were not happy with her. What do you make of that?

ARMSTRONG: Well, I think it's unfortunate. You know, Jennifer Holliday wanted to perform, she was excited about performing. And I think that that is an unfortunate thing for her that she couldn't do so. You know, the negative, you know, pushback to her was unfortunate. And this should be about uniting the country and it should be about the American people. And, you know, it's an unfortunate thing that she was pressured to do so.

COSTELLO: So why do you think there was such -- I mean, there was such a pushback for her she decided not to do something she actually wanted to do? Why do you think people are pushing back so hard on these performers?

ARMSTRONG: Well, you know, I think it's a tough environment right now. I think a lot of people are still frustrated with the results of the election and, you know, are pushing back for that reason. But again, this is supposed to be about unity. And we're supposed to bring everybody together as one American, you know, country and people. And that's what we're attempting to do with this inauguration, is making it about the people.

And so, you know, I understand that she had to drop out, and we respect that and we're disappointed that she was pushed in that position. But we still have a lot of other great entertainers that are coming and are willing to perform. Toby Keith, Three Doors Down, Jackie Ivanco in fact had her record sales go up. So we're seeing a lot of support on the other side. There's a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement for this inauguration.

COSTELLO: And a couple of dozen Democratic lawmakers say they're going to boycott Mr. Trump's inauguration in light of what he said about Congressman John Lewis. How do you respond to that? ARMSTRONG: Well, we're disappointed that they're not coming, and we

hope they change their mind. Again, this is about unifying the country. And we hope that as many members Congress will come and be a part of this historic event. It's, you know, something that our country is able to do every four years. And the historic nature of it is so important to our country. And so we hope that they change their mind. We want them all to be there. It's an important part of our country.

COSTELLO: Anyone from the Trump team reaching out to them and saying, hey, look, we're all one, we're all Americans, why aren't you coming, we would love to have you?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, we've extended our invitations and we do hope that they'll come. And so -- but if they choose not to, you know, we respect their right to make that choice. But we do want them --

COSTELLO: So have you reached out to these Democratic lawmakers?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, they're invited to the inauguration. And so I haven't personally spoken to any of those individuals, but I know that we've been hoping that they'll be there and expecting that they, you know, will make that decision, you know, that's right for them.

COSTELLO: Sara Armstrong, thanks for being with me.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you.

COSTELLO: I'll be right back.


[10:39:17] COSTELLO: Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer shooting down a report the press corps could be evicted from the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is the press conference going to be held in the executive office building?

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think we're looking at both options. The idea, for your viewers at home, is that the current press briefing room has 49 seats. And if you saw the press conference at Trump Tower the other day, you get one taste of the excitement, energy, and intensity of people who want to cover the president-elect and his agenda. So we've looked at some other rooms that are bigger and can hold more members of the press.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean, will the press still be allowed to have offices in the West Wing?


(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Even if the White House press can stay in the West Wing, journalists are concerned about transparency with the incoming White House.

[10:40:01] As "Washington Post" columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote, quote, "Journalists are in the fight for their lives and they're going to have to be better than ever before just to do their jobs."

CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, joins us with more on this.

So do you believe Sean Spicer?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: So that is the big debate among the Washington Correspondents Association. Both Spicer and the other side, the head of the association last night, Jeff Mason, these two men had a two-hour long meeting yesterday because this "Esquire" story started all this over the weekend. An "Esquire" story saying the press could be evicted from the White House altogether. Sean Spicer says no, that's not true, but as he confirmed there in that interview this morning, he is thinking about moving the briefings to a bigger room, more spacious room where there could be more journalists.

Two things about that that stand out. Number one, there's nothing like the briefing room in the West Wing. 49 seats, room for some more people in the back, steps from the Oval Office. There's something special about that and the access and the symbolism it all represents. Number two, the Trump administration is going to try to bring in more friendly voices to these briefings, trying to stack the room with clearly pro-Trump journalists as opposed to objective journalists like people here at CNN, then that can be troubling.

And then the broader issue here, Carol, is there's a concern about a slippery slope. This is what White House correspondents are saying privately. They're worried that, OK, today it's about moving the briefing room, but next year it might be moving the workspace out of the West Wing.

You know, CNN has a tiny little booth in the basement of the West Wing.


STELTER: Where the pool used to be, where we can work during the day. FOX and all the other news outlets have that as well. So the concern is, right now it's about the briefings, but could there be a slippery slope here where Spicer and Trump will try to take away more access over time.

COSTELLO: Well, it certainly appears that Mr. Trump wants to control the message when it comes about him, not only --

STELTER: And keep us on our toes, right?

(CROSSTALK) COSTELLO: Keep us on our toes, right.

STELTER: To keep journalists sort of on their edge, on their backs and seem to be in control.

COSTELLO: Well, and he's not shy about speaking out about against things that he doesn't agree with or doesn't like, as he did with "SNL" again.

STELTER: "SNL." So I waited all day Sunday wondering if he was going to weigh in on "Saturday Night Live." He waited until Sunday night to do it and then we can show his tweet on screen. He said, "NBC News is bad but 'SNL' is the worst of NBC. Not funny. Cast are terrible. Always a complete hit job. Really bad television."

So here's what the TV critic-in-chief may not have liked.


ALEC BALDWIN, "SNL" ACTOR: Thank you for coming. I'd like to start by answering the question that's on everyone's mind. Yes, this is real life. This is really happening.


BALDWIN: On January 20th, I, Donald J. Trump, will become the 45th president of the United States. And then two months later, Mike Pence will become the 46th.

SPICER: What "Saturday Night Live" did on Saturday -- you know, last night was disappointing. It was not funny. It was mean spirited. And it's gone from being a show that you could sit back and get a good laugh out of to just being something that frankly mean and bad television.


STELTER: I think a lot of folks hear this, Carol, and worry about Trump and his aides not respecting dissent, not being able to handle criticism. The silver lining, though, of his tweets, he's about to hit 20 million followers on Twitter, is that we always know what the president-elect is thinking.

COSTELLO: That's true. You know, in that "Saturday Night Live" skit, and my senior producer, who's a brilliant woman, she noticed this. Did you notice on Alec Baldwin's lapel, instead of an American flag it had the Russian flag?


STELTER: I did not notice that.

COSTELLO: Little pin. It was really.

STELTER: "SNL" really going hard. I had not seen that.

COSTELLO: That's hardcore, right?


COSTELLO: Yes, I wish I would have thought of that earlier because then we could zoom into it. But yes, that's not the American flag.

STELTER: I bet the president-elect noticed.

COSTELLO: I bet he did, too. We'll see if he tweets about that. Brian Stelter, many thanks.

STELTER: Thanks.

COSTELLO: Coming up in the NEWSROOM, this week not only are we getting a new president but a new first daughter. Coming up, how Ivanka Trump's influence could impact the White House.


[10:47:41] COSTELLO: Changes are coming to the White House. The Trump transition team planning to change the name of the Office of the First Lady to the Office of the First Family. Melania Trump will play a role but it's the visibility of Trump's eldest daughter that has people talking.

In the CNN special report, "FIRST DAUGHTER IVANKA TRUMP," CNN's Gloria Borger explores her potential impact.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): While Jared is taking a coveted spot inside the West Wing, Ivanka has decided not to take an office there, at least not yet. Instead, she's working on a childcare proposal behind the scenes and getting her family settled in the Tony Kalorama neighborhood in Washington.

(On camera): How will she be most helpful, if you were to kind of take, say, this is the way I think Ivanka would most help Donald Trump?

DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: I think there's the Donald Trump that I know as a son and so I think if she can sort of show some of the softer side of him and be able to bridge some of those gaps, I think it could go a long way towards his efficacy in getting things that he wants done, done.

BORGER (voice-over): Though she's stepping away from the Trump Organization and her own brand, Ivanka will likely face constant questions about her possible conflicts of interest, like marketing the dress she wore at the Republican convention.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think that idea of conflict of interest is going to hound her. If she meets with somebody who runs one of the Trump hotels, after that same day she was in the White House, people are going to say it's a conflict. That's going to happen. The key to the Trump enterprise is they don't think in terms of per se

of conflict of interest. They think of legal and illegal. They think of winning and losing.

BORGER: With her father winning the White House, Ivanka Trump is on target to become the most influential first daughter ever.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Ivanka Trump certainly is, as 35, she's -- and as a successful businesswoman twice, in real estate development and certainly in her own brand, I think she'd be very powerful. But again I don't sense from Ivanka it's about power. It's about impact.

BORGER: And it's about the family. Protecting and enhancing the newest brand, the Trump presidency.

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: You value family, especially in that world. I think, you know, for years we had always heard real estate is one of the most cutthroat industries in the world.

[10:50:05] Nothing compared to politics. It's nothing compared to politics. And then I think when you go through that and you live through it, I think quite frankly you become a closer family than ever before. They're the closest people in your life, they're the people who will look out for you while others might have conflicting interests. And that's very, very special. And I think we all lend that in some certain way, and Ivanka will lend that in a very big way.

D. TRUMP: She has a great way of being able to talk to him. He trusts her. She's proven herself time and time again in business. And whatever she decides to do in Washington, you know, if there is a role for her, then I'm sure it will be similar to that. But that's really up to her.


COSTELLO: Joining us now is the host of the special, Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst.

I can't wait to watch the rest of that. It just looks fascinating. So in the end, what role will Ivanka Trump choose to take?

BORGER: Well, whether it's formal or informal, it's going to be really important, Carol. She is the kind of gut check for her father. I imagine Ivanka -- and we know Jared is going to have an official role. And the question whether Ivanka decides to go into the West Wing or not remains to be seen. But she's going to be the -- probably one of the last people he speaks to in the evening. She's going to be his antenna, political. She's clearly going to be somebody who is going to be social around Washington. And I think she will help, as Don Junior said, soften Donald Trump's rough edges.

And that's been a problem for her during the campaign particularly regarding her own brand, which is about empowering women. She's lived in Washington. She went to Georgetown University for a couple of years. So I think in Ivanka, she's going to serve as a guidepost in many ways for him.

COSTELLO: And of course a lot of women will be watching her because she --


COSTELLO: She promised to, you know, come up with a childcare plan that will benefit all women. How difficult might that be?

BORGER: She's working on it. She's working on it. She is making phone calls on it and she is clearly pushing her father towards that as she did during the campaign. And I think she's made that her personal mission. So if you were to ask me what would be her first objective, her first objective would be to get that done. But then don't forget, she's going to meet political reality also, because these things cost money and there's not a lot of money floating around Washington.

And particularly when you want to do tax reform and you want to give people tax cuts and you want to have corporate tax reform. So she's going to learn a little real politic here. But that's going to be her first agenda. But her second agenda, always, always, always will be to protect her father. That's what she did during the campaign and tried to do. And that's what she's going to be doing in Washington.

COSTELLO: All right. Gloria Borger, can't wait to see it, thank you.

BORGER: Thanks.

COSTELLO: So another reminder, you can catch "FIRST DAUGHTER IVANKA TRUMP" tonight right here on CNN, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Speaking of strong women, I interviewed former FOX News anchor Gretchen Carlson in an exclusive interview for "Good Housekeeping" magazine. You can check it out at this month's issue. Carlson talked with me about the importance of women standing up for themselves and fighting against sexual harassment and of course Donald Trump.

I'll be right back.


[10:57:42] COSTELLO: The owners of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus are now making it official. It is the end of an era.


KENNETH FELD, CEO, FELD ENTERPRISE: Of course we're sad. And it was a very difficult decision to make. But, you know, we look at the entirety of it. We look at what the future is. And as Juliette said, it's not a sustainable business model.


COSTELLO: Billed as the greatest show on earth, The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will stage its final show in May. Fredricka Whitfield has more for you.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the end of the road for the greatest show on earth. In just four months, the curtain falls on the one and only Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. An iconic road show that defined of the circus experience for generations of children. In the end, CEO Kenneth Feld said the circus was simply too expensive to produce.

His family has owned the show for the past 50 years. But ticket sales were declining and the circus's fate was likely sealed last year when it retired the popular elephant show. Feld said then it was inevitable.

FELD: There's a saying and it's been around for a long time. You can't fight city hall. And we found that to be the case in this situation.

WHITFIELD: For years, the elephants and their dance routines were a big draw for a circus fan, but not at all popular with animal rights groups which deplored their treatment and repeatedly criticized, picketed and sued the company for its treatment of animals.

In 2011, the circus paid a fine of more than a quarter million dollars for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act. And last year, it retired the elephants to a conservation center in Florida.

After the closure was announced People for the Ethical Treatment of the Animals declared victory while admitting its war against other wild animal exhibitors including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld is far from over.

The last performance of the Ringling Brother Barnum and Bailey Circus will be on May 21st in Uniondale, New York.

Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, Atlanta.


COSTELLO: And thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. "AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND BOLDUAN" starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.