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Trump Begins with Historically Low Approval Rating; Growing List of Democrats Boycotting Inauguration; Trump HHS Pick Under Fire for Stock Buy. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It was inappropriate for a president-elect to be stepping in to the politics of other countries.

[05:58:41] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I start off trusting both. Let's see how long that lasts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tom Price facing a rough confirmation.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Did he use that for personal profit?

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: When you see something that is not right, not fair, NOT JUST, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something and not be quiet.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT (via phone): Those who question the legitimacy of this election is deeply disappointing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say John Lewis has demonstrated that he's action.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: We hope that these Democratic members of Congress reconsider. They're welcome to the inauguration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, January 17, 6 p.m. here in New York.

And we begin with a brand-new CNN/ORC poll that shows Donald Trump with an historic low approval rating heading into the White House. Just 40 percent of Americans say they approve of the president-elect's performance during this transition. Fifty-two percent say they do not approve.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This as the list of Democrats who say they will boycott Mr. Trump's inauguration grows. Now one in five House Democrats declare they will skip it. You see all their faces on the wall there. We are three days away from Mr. Trump becoming the 45th president of

the United States. So let's begin with our coverage with CNN political director David Chalian. He's live in Washington with more new poll numbers.

Good morning, David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, Alisyn.

So let's put that 40 percent number that you guys just went over there in terms of disapproval into historical context. It is a low. You called it historic. Take a look at how it stacks up.

Forty percent approval as Donald Trump is about to take the oath of office. Eighty-four percent approval for Obama at this stage eight years ago. Sixty-one percent approval for George W. Bush after that very divided election with the Florida recount. Sixty-seven percent approval for Bill Clinton.

You can see just how historically low Trump is entering into this job. Let's take a look. Also, you mentioned the disapproval number, that 52 percent disapprove, a majority in the country disapprove. Look at where that was just in November in our post-election poll: 45 percent. So the disapproval has grown for Trump. He's not scoring high marks for this transition period.

Now take a look at whether or not people have increased confidence or decreased confidence in how -- what kind of a president Donald Trump will be since the election. Fifty-three percent, again a majority of Americans, have a decreased level of confidence in his ability to do the job. Thirty-seven percent increased, 9 percent no change.

How does that stack up when we asked that question in November? Look at that. The decreased confidence has gone up 10 points. Increased confidence has gone down 11 points.

Again, this transition period, he has not been growing his support. He's actually been losing some support since we polled after the election.

And then finally, this is the optimism right now for Donald Trump and what he has to deliver on. The country really believes he is going to deliver on his promise to create good-paying jobs, especially in economically distressed areas. Sixty-one percent of the country said it's likely he is going to deliver on that.

So this is a big moment now for Donald Trump, because the expectations are high that he's going to deliver on this kind of core promise. If he does, his overall numbers are likely to go up from here, as well -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you very much for all that.

Also, as we said, more than 3 dozen Democratic lawmakers say they will not go to Mr. Trump's inauguration on Friday. Also, CNN has uncovered audio from 2014 where Mr. Trump has a very different take on Russia. CNN's Jason Carroll is live at Trump Tower with more. What's the

latest, Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Alisyn. It's very clear that Trump used to have some tough feelings against Russia in the past. He made that very clear.

What's also clear is that a number of Democrats are feeling not confident about Donald Trump going forward. At least 38 say they will not attend his inauguration.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President-elect.

CARROLL (voice-over): The growing discontent within the Democratic Party over president-elect Donald Trump sparking a massive boycott.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just cannot celebrate in good conscience.

CARROLL: Nearly one in five House Democrats are now saying they will not attend Trump's inauguration.

LEWIS: When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, and not be quiet.

CARROLL: Democrats standing with civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis after Trump called Lewis all talk and no action, angered by Lewis's claim that he is not a legitimate president.

CONWAY: You can respect Congressman Lewis's vaunted place in our history and still defend yourself.

CARROLL: Despite the backlash with Lewis, the president-elect meeting with Martin Luther King's eldest son on the holiday devoted to the civil rights hero.

MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Things get said at both sides in the heat of emotion. And at some point in this nation, we've got to move forward.

CARROLL: This as the battle continues between Trump and the outgoing CIA director, John Brennan. Brennan bristling at the president- elect's comparison of handling of handling of unverified intelligence reports to Nazi Germany.

TRUMP: That's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.

CARROLL: In a new interview, Brennan saying, quote, "Tell the families of those 117 CIA officers who are forever memorialized on our wall of honor that their loved ones who gave their lives were akin to Nazis."

Secretary of State John Kerry criticizing Trump, as well.

KERRY: It was inappropriate for a president-elect of the United States to be stepping into the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner.

CARROLL: And Trump reasserting old criticisms of NATO, saying it is obsolete in an interview with foreign media.

TRUMP: I said a long time ago that NATO has problems. No. 1, it was obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago. No. 2, the countries weren't paying what they're supposed to pay.

CARROLL: Trump also saying that he trusts America's longtime ally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as much as he does Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: Well, I start off trusting both.

CARROLL: But Trump's Russia-friendly rhetoric is a relatively recent development. Nearly three years ago, Trump stuck a different tone.

TRUMP: We should definitely do sanctions.

CARROLL: CNN's K-File unearthing a series of interviews where Trump called Russia America's biggest problem.

TRUMP: We have to show some strength. I mean, Putin has eaten Obama's lunch.

CARROLL: And just to follow up on that recent poll, here's what we're likely to hear coming from team Trump on that matter. What they're likely to tell you is that the polls, some of those polls showing that he was not going to win the election were wrong, and he's going to say this poll is wrong, as well -- Chris, Alisyn.

CARROLL: All right, Jason. Appreciate it.

Let's dig deeper into these new CNN poll numbers. You're dealing with historic lack of approval. The question is why.

Let's bring back CNN political director David Chalian. Joining us now is CNN political analyst and "New York Times" editor Patrick Healy and CNN political commentator and senior columnist for "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis.

Gentlemen, good to see each and all. Let's put these numbers up again. Historically low transition approval, 40 percent. Let's take a look to the past presidents. You've got 44 points lower than Obama. You've got the -- what else you got? So Bush 61 percent, Clinton 67 percent. All right. That's where he is in recent context.

Let's talk about why, David. When you've been crunching the cross tabs on this, let's put up what seems like some kind of guesswork by me on this. The Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election, this issue, how it's been managed. What are you seeing in those numbers? Is that suggestive of why he's struggling?

CHALIAN: You see the number there. Whether or not people think the hacking changed the outcome of the election. Fifty-eight percent say no. They don't believe it is, you know, the result was impacted by the hacking. So I don't know how much that has to do with it, Chris. I think it is

more that our very divided partisanship in this country is reflective in this poll. That is not the norm at this point, when somebody is about to take the oath of office in that transition period after the election. They begin that honeymoon phase, and they tend to start getting support from other partisans, from independents, not just their own party.

That's not the case here. Republicans certainly are approving of Donald Trump's handling of the transition, but Democrats are not at all moving his way; and independents are split. So we're locked sort of where we were instead of Donald Trump using this period to be able to sort of reach across and get a broader swath of Americans to give themselves a boost out of the gate on January 20.

CAMEROTA: So Patrick if only 40 percent of people approve of how Mr. Trump is handling the transition, that means his numbers have gone down since election day. So how do we explain that?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Because basically there has been no growth among the groups, you know, where -- at least they were hoping the Trump campaign was hoping that coming out of the election he would be able to reach out to some extent to Democrats but really to kind of independents who might be able to come along, based on his cabinet appointments, based on some of the policies that he was putting forward.

I mean, sort of a real hope that there would be a rise there. Instead, you had appointments like Steve Bannon as a senior adviser to the White House.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but since then he's had appointments that are popular. I mean, General Mattis, people seem to be, you know, rallying around.

HEALY: Sure.

CAMEROTA: I think that Rex Tillerson had a tough time, but people thought that he acquitted himself well. So why aren't those numbers going up?

HEALY: Because I think that you, at the end of the day, when you see, you know, good confirmation hearings and then you also see the intelligence community, you know, coming forward and saying, "Look, these are -- we still have these questions about -- about the election, questions about Russia's role in it, you know, the degree to which there's still -- I think, sort of like some sort of clouds over what -- what's going on with the president-elect sort of coming in.

He has had trouble -- and again when you're in a transition phase, he has had trouble getting wins on the board ultimately. There hasn't been that much that he has been able to do beyond going to some of the companies that he has...

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HEALY: ... and saying, OK, you need to bring jobs back. CUOMO: He's also not in office, yet. There's always something for

everybody in a poll.

Matt, you know, just on this issue of Russia. Likelihood that intelligence assessment on Russia is correct. I found this cross tab pretty interesting. Because there ain't a hell a lot of confidence in the intel agencies, based on this poll. I mean, look at it. There's your break down of not likely to extremely likely. You know, you're lucky if it comes out about 50-50.

What do you see in this poll? Because you know, you have this weird disconnect between approval, but in hope? You know, people, 61 percent, think he's going to deliver on jobs and a lot of the other, "I hope he will deliver and I think he will" is above 50.

LEWIS: Yes, that's the cognitive dissonance. And I don't think voters are always logical or people are always logical and rational. We saw that happen in the election itself, where people, the exit polling showed things like people said they don't think Donald Trump is prepared to be president and yet, they voted for him. I think that's what's taking place here.

But if you look at the large trend of this poll, what I think is the large message, I think, is just indicative of the fact that we have a country that's coming apart where people don't trust institutions. They don't trust politicians. They don't trust the media, and they don't trust even our government in terms of the intel community. So to me that's the big story, and it's very unfortunate.

And frankly, when you have someone like Congressman John Lewis go out there and say that the election is illegitimate, I think that just feeds into this sort of dangerous ethos.

CAMEROTA: David, also I think it's notable how it breaks down among party. I don't know that we have this graphic built. But in the notes, it says that Democrats, 84 percent consider the Russia issue a crisis or a major problem of Democrats. Thirty-seven percent of Republicans think that Russia is a crisis or a major problem. The party of Ronald Reagan doesn't see it -- I mean, you know, sort of agrees with Mr. Trump. May be a problem. May not. We'll deal with Russia.

CHALIAN: Although, I would say 37 percent of Republicans ain't nothing. It's still a little chunk, but you are right. This is viewed through a partisan lens. I'm not sure Donald Trump is giving voice to that third in his party at all in his welcoming comments about Putin and Russia, his reluctance to accept the intelligence here.

But yes, we are -- you're going to see this, Alisyn, I think time and again with every issue that sort of dominates the headlines, especially the outset of the Trump era, where people are going to sort of put on their partisan glasses and see it through that lens. This is what is going to make Donald Trump's first 100 days agenda so tricky. Because if he can't get the traditional honeymoon where you can really

try to get some big stuff done, then he's going to be left to really just pushing things through with the majorities he has in the House and the Senate without trying to build a broader coalition.

CUOMO: All right. So let's look at how things are shaping up as he enters in, Patrick. One in five Democrats aren't going to the inauguration. So 20 percent of them. This is a rallying around of John Lewis, a fomenting of tensions that they have with Trump. They have the right to boycott it, but is it right to boycott the inauguration?

HEALY: Right. I think it sends a message that they're pushing back on Trump, that they feel like he's consenting to them. There has not been outreach. There has not been overtures from one side to another.

CUOMO: This is the way to show it.

HEALY: This is one of biggest cards they can play, Chris. Now, honestly, they -- what Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are facing up on the Hill is an inability, ultimately, to stop a lot of these nominations. That they can raise -- that they can make noise about, like, Tom Price at HHS and some of the other nominees, but that ultimately, the votes aren't going to be there for many of them.

Supreme Court nomination, that's coming. A policy agenda, you know, especially when he's in office, President Trump is able to make some gains on the jobs front. They may not be able to stop there.

So the inauguration is -- frankly, it's a rallying cry for a lot of Democrats and liberals who still are very upset about the results of this election, who don't see -- it's not legitimate. That was a very strong word. But who really have concerns about the tone and the message that President-elect Trump has sort of set, and this is a big day to do it. You know, a lot of people have felt, you know, probably since the Supreme Court decision in 2000 on Bush v. Gore, you know, that legitimacy is a...

CUOMO: John Lewis was one of those people who felt that way in 2000. He didn't go to President Bush's inauguration.

HEALY: Sure.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. Stick around. We have more questions.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up on this show, longtime Republican Senator John McCain, he's at the center of what is going on in the political dialog right now. We want to get his thoughts on the transition, on this mysterious sheltering of Russia by the president- elect, and what he says is an urgent need for change in our military. What's going on? He'll tell us.

CAMEROTA: Then, if you can stick around until our 8 a.m. hour please do so, because Woodward and Bernstein reunited. They will together again on our air. The legendary journalists will discuss their reported rift over that recent CNN report about the dossier and what they expect for the Trump presidency.

CUOMO: Doesn't quite have the same ring as Cuomo and Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Not yet.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump's pick for Health and Human Services secretary coming under fire for potential ethics violations. What CNN found and why the president-elect's team is still standing by him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:35] CUOMO: First on CNN, new ethics questions are looming over one of Trump's key cabinet picks. A transition team is now defending Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price. House records show that the Georgia lawmaker invested in a company, then introduced a bill days later that would directly benefit the firm.

CNN senior political reporter Manu Raju is live in Washington with more. What do we see here?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris, Congressman Price has been dogged by questions about his trades and stocks in health companies while working on healthcare legislation, especially as Congress is trying to crack down on what critics call inside trading on Capitol Hill.

This latest instance in March of 2016, Price purchasing up to $15,000 in stock in major medical device maker Zimmer Biomed. That would have been hurt by a federal Medicaid rule. Now less than a week after purchasing those shares, Price offered legislation that directly helped that Zimmer Biomed by delaying that federal rule until 2018.

Now, the Trump transition team is dismissing the matter, saying the congressman was not influenced by the company's repeated campaign donations to them. And they say he was not aware that his broker made this purchase until about a month later.

But Price now views the shares as enough of a conflict that he is now promising to divest from Zimmer Biomed, along with 42 other companies, if he gets the cabinet post. This all renewing calls from Democrats for an ethics investigation into Price's trading after our latest report.

[06:20:06] Now this comes as other appointees have endured some controversy, including conservative pundit Monica Crowley, who bowed out of a White House staff job yesterday after CNN's K-File uncovered instances of plagiarism in her record.

A number of those fights over cabinet posts coming to a head this week in several major confirmation hearings, including for the heads of the interior, commerce and energy departments, as well as Treasury, EPA and education.

Price's first hearing coming on Wednesday, so a lot of action on Capitol Hill this week for Donald Trump's first cabinet -- Chris and Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Manu, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Price is just one of several Trump cabinet picks facing Senate confirmation hearings this week. Let's discuss it all. I want to bring back our political panel. We have Patrick Healy and Matt Lewis. Also joining us, politics editor for TheRoot.com and professor of political science and communication at Morgan State University, Jason Johnson.

Jason, I'll start with you.

So you heard his offices, Congressman Price's explanation. This was done through a financial adviser. Many people don't know exactly what stock their financial adviser is picking. How big of a problem is this conflict?

CUOMO: They didn't say that at first, by the way. When they were first asked about this in the broker, they didn't answer the question. And then they later came back. Just for what it's worth.

JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM: Look, I don't believe it. I don't believe he doesn't know how this happened. I do believe it's a conflict of interest.

But here's the key thing. And this is an example that I think the president of the United States will one day use. He's going to divest. And if he divests, if he gives up his stocks, if he makes himself less likely to be in a position to have a conflict of interest, I think that's fine.

CAMEROTA: Within 90 days, is that OK, of his confirmation.

JOHNSON: Yes. Within 90 days of his confirmation, if he's -- "Look, I'm going to drop my investment in these 42 different companies. I want to make sure that there's no -- not even a semblance of a problem. I think that's perfectly fine. That's what you're supposed to do. We can't pretend people don't have financial lives before they get these cabinet positions. But we have to make sure they're ethical and clean when they get them.

CUOMO: Jason, you see how your voice went up at first when you said "divest"? That part signals a lack of confidence. This is not the first time this has happened. And the troubling dynamic is the Office of Government Ethics that's doing the vetting says we only vet conflicts going forward. We don't look backward. How do you know where the conflicts can arise if you don't care about what happened before? What do you tell the kids about this at Morgan State?

JOHNSON: I tell the kids that you should run for Congress. There's a tremendous number of things you can do with your money.

Look, this is the problem that everybody has with President-elect Trump. That, I mean, you can't say that, like, "Oh, I'm going to put this in my left hand and stick it in my pocket. And I won't know what his right hand is doing. These are the things that we heard during the campaign that were supposedly going to be draining the swamp that aren't happening. I don't have a tremendous amount of confidence, but at least the action that Tom Price says that he will take is in the right direction.

CAMEROTA: Matt Lewis, is this draining the swamp, effectively?

LEWIS: No. It looks -- it looks really bad. Whether it's sloppiness. Or at the very least, it's the appearance of impropriety.

I will say this. Congressman Price's net worth has been, like, $13 million, and he may have made -- invested as much as, like, $15,000. So if this is his scheme, it's going to take him a while to get away with it.

But having said that, you know, we've seen confirmations be derailed for less. The Tom Daschle example, you know, eight years ago. So I would be surprised if every single one of president-elect's nominees gets through unscathed. I think something is going to trip somebody up, and we'll see how they handle this one.

CUOMO: Again, they just don't have the votes unless they get defectors from the Republican side.

So Brother Healy, what do you see with Ms. Davos? She's gotten some full-throated animosity directed toward her. Why? And is it substantial?

HEALY: Right. The education establishment is almost totally united in terms -- certainly on the progressive side, Betsy Davos as education secretary. It's her record in Michigan as such a supporter of charter schools and vouchers.

It may have made -- these policies may have made a difference in some parts of Michigan, but the idea of taking kind of a Betsy Davos vision and taking it national, you know, gives people a lot of concern.

And the reality is the Education Department has been a jump ball for a while now. There are really sort of questions about what federal education policy should be. President George W. Bush made -- he made a real effort with No Child Left Behind. That was where he worked across the aisle with Democrats.

You haven't seen any signals coming out of the incoming Trump administration about what Betsy Davos would be doing with Democrats on the Hill or with the education community. S, you know, this is sort of a lot of concern. There's also a lot of money to play with.

CAMEROTA: I mean, look, it's not the public school model that she comes from, but she believes in parent choice, school choice, and a lot of people do.

JOHNSON: I don't think it's her ideology that's a problem. Look, the president should be able to pick most of what they want in their own administration.

[06:25:13] My issue is that education is a lot more complicated now than it was before. You have issues of criminal justice now in education. You have issues of -- you had a young man who was taken to jail because people thought he was making a bomb. Like, you can't just go into education now and talk about vouchers.

You have to talk about discipline. You have to talk about language issues, immigration issues, race issues, health issues, LGBT issues. And we don't know anything about that. And that is a concern when you have somebody coming in to run the Department of Education that has a very limited ideology and little or no paper trail of what she's going to do.

HEALY: This gets back to Jason's earlier point about divesting and President-elect Trump. This is all -- this is all about him and sort of a lack of clarity about what he kind of stands for in this and with, you know, sort of the business dealings, you know, in terms of what he's willing to do with his companies. And you know, you're already seeing the Trump camp going after the Office of Government Ethics and saying it's an Obama appointee. These are Democrats who are coming.

Today you're going to see that on the Hill, as well, when they -- when they start sort of grilling Betsy Davos. I mean, all of these are just proxies for the president-elect who's coming in on Friday, whose numbers are historically low already. And Democrats are looking for softening here.

CAMEROTA: All right. Panel, thank you very much for all of those insights.

CUOMO: All right. Another story for you this morning. The widow of the Pulse nightclub attacker is facing federal charges today. The question is could she have prevented the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history? Investigators are talking about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news about missing Malaysia Flight 370. The underwater search for the missing airplane has been suspended.