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Last Days of Obama White House; Is Team Trump Ready?; President Obama Advice; FLOTUS Thanks America; President Obama's Final News Conference; Obama to Press: You Make Us Better; Pres. Obama: We're going to be OK; Trump's Cabinet on Capitol Hill; Trump Promising to Repeal and Replace Obamacare; Trump Wants Insurance For Everybody; Trump Arriving in NYC, Trump's EPA Nominee Grilled at Hearing; Trump's Vs. Fashion Designer Tom Ford; The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump; Trump Plans Shorter, Smaller Inauguration; Aired 11:00-11:12p ET
Aired January 18, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
January 18, 2017
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: That was The End. And now the beginning, this is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon here in Washington. In a little more than one day Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. But is Team Trump ready to take the reins? President Obama has this advice.
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: This is a job of such magnitude that you can't do it by yourself.
LEMON: Well, tonight saw unprecedented and intimate look of end of the Obama administration as seen and experience by the President's inner circle. So let's get right to it. Here to discuss, Douglas Brinkley, CNN Presidential Historian and author or Rightful Heritage, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and The Land of America. Kirsten Powers is here as well, CNN Political Analyst. Mark Preston is here, CNN Politics Executive Editor and David Gergen, Senior Political Analyst for CNN as well. David that was very intimate and incredible look inside the closing days of the Obama Presidency. What were your thoughts as you heard from people inside the White House?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought his greatest legacy may not be in legislation or international agreements but it may be in the quality of -- the principles for which he stood, the decency with which he stood. You know, Bill Moyers were circulating a quote today which I like. He said, "History will judge him as president. We can already judge his character and it's sterling." And I think that's really important legacy for a president to have.
LEMON: What do you think, Douglas?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Absolutely. And I thought the documentary CNN just ran was just remarkable. I mean, that inside look that we got of the White House, reminded me of The War Room, Pennebaker film that made George Stephanopoulos and Carville (hassle names) way back in 1992. But that inside look and I thought the star of the CNN film is the speech writer Cody Keenan. And he is a good speech writer, you know, David and I talk about speech writers sometimes but --
GERGEN: He was a student.
BRINLEY: Student, I know, like Ted Sorensen was for Kennedy, he -- Cody has really came in, he wrote the great Selma Speech for Barack Obama in the 50th anniversary. So I think we got to treat him as a as Peggy Noonan like.
GERGEN: Jon Favreau.
BRINKLEY: Favreau was the big loftier speeches but Cody gave the --
LEMON: I remember back in the beginning in 2006 when Barack Obama won went and then with the Valerie Jarrett's office, so had a reverse scene, that scene of her in her office in Chicago packing up and getting ready to go to the Washington with the showing of pictures and then we have the pictures here. I mean -- and it's hard to believe that it's been eight years. And Valerie Jarrett has been with him for eight years. That's' a lot long time. That doesn't usually happen.
PRESTON: Don, I remember back in 2008 when you and I were -- or rather I guess it was 2009 when we were on the mall.
LEMON: It was like 300 degrees below 0.
PRESTON: And it was incredibly cold out but it was a different feeling back then when he -- when Barack Obama was about to take office. It's the different feeling certainly back then from the feeling that you and I and everyone else I think right at this table probably is experiencing with Donald Trump.
LEMON: Do you think that will feel more like an inauguration as the week progresses? Because I remember being here this time for last two inaugurations and it was more of a, you know, more people here, it was more of a festive attitude. I don't know, you know, why it's different this time. Maybe people are waiting until the end of the week to come, who knows.
KRISTEN POWERS, CNN POLTICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think we have a very different kind of President-elect this time. And of course obviously with President Obama, I think even people that didn't vote for him, the historic nature of that election made -- especially 2008, a very special time for most Americans. So it had a real emotional feel even with conservatives, you know, for -- I think for any American that was looking in that, the first African-American president just made it made it very meaningful.
LEMON: I want to put this up. This is from the first lady tonight. She tweeted, she said, "Being your first lady has been honor of a lifetime. From the bottom of my heart, thank you." And then his M.O. Michelle Obama. And then there's a touching photo of the Obamas looking out toward the Washington monument. It feels like end of an era, doesn't it?
POWERS: Yes. It does. And I think Michelle Obama will going to go down in history as one of the great first ladies, you know, somebody who was a real partner to her husband and who ended up, you know, playing a huge role I think, a public role that coming into it, she didn't even really want to run for office let alone the President of the United States and have her the first lady and how she really just leaned into that and owned it and became this force into her own right.
LEMON: Yes. It was Incredible documentary. And if you didn't see it and you're just tuning in now, make sure you, you know, watch the replay later on. It's really beautiful. Donald Trump has been so critical of the press and today President Barack Obama held his final news conference began it with a full-throated defense of the press. Let's listen to that.
OBAMA: You're not supposed to be sycophants, you're supposed to be skeptics, you're supposed to ask me tough questions. You're not supposed to be complimentary but you're supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here. And you have done that. And having you in this building has made this place work better.
LEMON: Mark Preston, what is your read into that? Was he speaking to someone?
PRESTON: Well, I want to go back to what you said about, it feels like it's the end of an era. And I got to tell you what, in some ways it is of course because something very historic. We all experienced something very historic. But he also said during that news conference that is going to speak up, he's going to speak up when he sees the core values of America at stake, whether that's systemic racism, you know, whether that is an effort to try to stymie the free press, and really telling as well, when he -- when talks about protecting dreamers, those children who are brought her illegally but know nothing other than United States being their home. He says, he won't get involved in every tax fight but unlike other presidents that we've seen, I think that Barack Obama is not going away.
LEMON: No. I mean, he's still very young when he becomes president. I want to get to the dreamers in all of that but let's -- can we talk about the press? Because I thought that was -- that was a direct message to the incoming president. Especially the incoming president and the administration who's saying they may move the press corps away from the White House. He spoke to that directly.
GERGEN: Right, right, right. And I think what was interesting was a central conclusion that he reached above all this. It's not like that the press corps (INAUDIBLE) because of historic traditions on the first amendment. But that he appreciates the fact that having the press corps in the west wing of the White House, seeing who is coming and going and but being able to interact with the White House staff a lot of things, in the administrations I served in, he drew the same lesson I -- from what I did and that is having the press there actually makes the White House staff more honest, it makes them more accountable.
GERGEN: If you weren't there, you would feel like, you know, we can get away with this kind of thing. But when you have to go out and answer questions every day, when you have regular news conferences, it forces staff to look each other in the eye and say, "We can't get away with it, let's tell the truth."
LEMON: And you -- they may think in the beginning that it's great if you can get away with everything but in the end that ultimately does a lot of people --
POWERS: Yes. But I do think it's worth reflecting a little bit on President Obama's legacy and how he interacted with the media which really wasn't very good.
POWERS: And he -- the White House Correspondents' Association repeatedly complained to them about the lack of access. Jill Abramson, the former Executive Editor of New York Times said this White House is the most secretive White House she ever dealt with. They waged a war on whistleblowers which is really -- they -- remember the whole thing with the justice department, you know, seizing phone records of journalists.
GERGEN: (INAUDIBLE) small, my comparison --
POWERS: Well, I actually -- the thing is I think it does affect your ability to have a principled criticism of it when you behave that way. And it started with the Bush Administration and --
LEMON: Doesn't every administration have adversarial relationship with the press? Bush was close and this was a very --
POWERS: They have an adversarial relationship but since the Bush Administration has been getting worse. And if you talk to White House, you know, long-standing White House reporters they will tell you with the Bush Administration and then they would actually say that the Obama administration was worse than the bush administration in many ways in terms of access and transparency.
BRINKLEY: What's helping Barack Obama's legacy with the press is Donald Trump.
POWERS: Yes. Exactly.
GERGEN: Yes. By comparison.
BRINLEY: By comparison he's like St. Augustine up there.
POWERS: So true.
BRINKLEY: And it's -- and also I think Josh Earnest has been a very good Press Secretary for the second term. He ranks as one of the better ones. So, the New York Times' recent series, the Washington Post, the press media loves Barack Obama right now. It's not -- if 60 percent of the American people have approval rating of Barack Obama, the press seems to have about an 8 percent approval rating of him right now.
PRESTON: Yes. To Chris's point though, let me -- just add, is that the mainstream media, Dossier at CNN and associated press and the New York Times, whatever they may be, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama oftentimes went around the mainstream media, they would go to celebrity-type magazines, celebrity-type T.V. shows to deliver their message. And also, their administration started at time when Twitter and instant feedback really came into full force and they were able to command their own message, they put out their own news briefing every week on YouTube. So, they understood how to manipulate the media.
GERGEN: They didn't have a big scandal in eight years, that's very rare.
LEMON: Class, very classy family. And peaking of, the Obamas especially Michelle Obama, the first lady spoke so movingly on the campaign trail about the importance of electing Hillary Clinton but also of defeating Donald Trump. Today the President was asked about his daughters- reaction to the election. He spoke at length and ended on a somewhat subdued note. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Man, my daughters are something. And they just surprise and enchant and impress me more and more every single day as they grow up. They were disappointed. They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it because it's consistent with what we tried to teach them in our household. And what I've tried to model as a father with their mom. And what we've asked them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses.
But what we've also tried to teach them is resilience and we tried to teach them hope and that the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world. And so you get knocked down, you get up, brush yourself off, and you get back to work. And my corps, I think we're going to be OK. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it and not take it for granted. And I know that you will help us do that. Thank you very much press corps. Good luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Those are no doubt the sentiments a lot of people share. Do you think he felt the need to console the people who didn't necessarily vote for Donald Trump within that message right there?
POWERS: I'm sure he feels -- definitely feels the pressure of that. And I think it's, you know, also just a reminder, again, we just keep talking about how classy they are and it's just such a -- I think a classy way to handle it, you know, to basically say, you know, we're going to be OK. And I think we know the President is probably a little worried but he's not really letting on.
LEMON: On of these, we haven't seen a young family like this in the White House since the Kennedys, right? Is that correct?
GERGEN: That's true.
LEMON: Yes. Young and very good-looking family. And again, no scandals, very classy. Stick around, everybody. When we come right back, a tough day on Capitol Hill for some of Donald Trump's cabinet picks but one of them broke with the President-elect on a key policy.
LEMON: Back now live from Washington, D.C. And, you know, Donald Trump becomes the President a little more than a day and all during the transition he has been saying that one of the first things he wants to do is to repeal and replace Obamacare. So, let's discuss that now. So let's discuss that now, Douglas Brinkley is here, Kristen Powers, Mark Preston and also David Gergen. Dana Bash sat down with Mike Pence today, Mark Preston this is for you. Press him about his promise to -- his plan to replace Obamacare to provide insurance for everybody. Let's take a look at this.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What does insurance for everybody mean?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think it means making insurance affordable for everyone but also allowing for the kind of reforms in Medicaid, on a state-by-state basis that will ensure -- that will make sure that we have healthcare coverage for the most vulnerable in our society.
BASH: So, making it affordable and you said the most vulnerable, but not making -- I mean, I'm guessing you're not talking about a mandate because that would be anathema to what you were talking about. But when he says insurance for everybody, you know, that sort of sends a signal that people are not going to lose the health insurance that they have.
PENCE: Well, our commitment is to an orderly transition out of Obamacare. And we don't want anyone to be anxious who has insurance through an exchange or through the process of Obamacare. To be -- and we don't want people to be concerned that they're going to lose that coverage and face hardship for their families.
LEMON: So, Mark, Trump says insurance for everyone, Pence clarifies that he meant make it affordable for everyone. And then yesterday, maybe the day before, I think it was access for everyone.
LEMON: So, I mean, seriously, you know, Donald Trump says something that people come on to clarify and then he says something else. I don't know if you know what he means and is this what it's going to be like for the next four years?
PRESTON: If I knew what he meant, can you imagine --
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: I mean, couple of explanations, am I right?
PRESTON: Right. So this is I think the best way to take a step back with the whole situation, my money is on Mike Pence and the reason being is that Mike Pence is the one who has all the relationships in the building behind us, Mike Pence is the one that understands how legislation works. Mike Pence, if you go back to the vice presidential debate where he was continuously thrown up against the ropes by to having to defend Donald Trump for all the crazy things that Donald Trump had said whether about Russia or how he treated women or his view on women and Mike Pence did a really good job of deflecting, deflecting, deflecting. So, I think that in many ways Mike Pence is going to become probably one of the most powerful vice presidents in history and (INAUDIBLE) make you probably speak to that more than --
PRESTON: Interview today, he is -- he looks like the thing in the picture frame, the pictures of the picture frame before you put it if it said vice president.
LEMON: Yes. He could be on a two-dollar bill.
PRESTON: He's Straight out --
LEMON: Yes. Yes. No doubt. No doubt about --
PRESTON: I mean the guy with a gray hair and as you said within the deep voice.
LEMON: In the deep voice and he's very smart. And I think Mike Pence is going to play a critical role in this administration.
BRINKLEY: But I bet you Donald Trump doesn't let it be called Pencecare, he's going to want it to be Trumpcare and may simply repeal the Affordable Care Act and all get rid of Obamacare and then follow Trumpcare and to do changes to it. I mean, he very much just maybe wanting to shed the name of Obama from to take away the signature achievement.
LEMON: Well, my line was -- my line was --last night of the night before -- I think it was the night before where I said, Donald Trump plans to get rid of Obamacare with something that looks a lot like Obamacare.
BRINLEY: (INAUDBLE) called Trump like he does with the buildings.
LEMON: Right. It's rebranding.
POWERS: Well, from Donald Trump it might be but not for the republicans, that is not what they want and that's not what they mean when they say repeal and replace. I mean, their replacement with something else. But that's been pointed out, you know, the republicans are the dog who caught the car and don't know what to do with it. Like they never expected to be in the situation, and so they've been talking about repealing it without really having a way to replace it in a way the Americans have come to expect which I think is one of Barack Obama's greatest legacy.
LEMON: Before you jump in, David, I just want to explain to our viewers, that's Donald Trump's plane arriving back at Laguardia. He was in Washington, D.C. earlier. (INAUDBLE) he has been popping in and out but then in Friday, you know, I think it's going to be his permanent home, meaning staying at the White House. You go on, David.
GERGEN: Until Saturday.
LEMON: Until Saturday. He always say he's going to start governing on Monday, he may go back on Saturday. One never knows.
GERGEN: Yes. There's something weird going on about this healthcare deliberation, if you quote, that was in the administration. Donald Trump seems to have pulled it back inside Trump Tower, all the planning and thinking. I mean, we've learned that his Secretary for HSS was actually purposefully excluded from the conversations about what the answer all to be. I can't imagine. I've gone to this place with the other presidents, the HHS Secretary is pivotal, they got the team, they got the resources to figure out how these things work. This is complicated stuff, you need a big team to figure this thing out. And I just don't' understand what they're doing. And they're giving that contradictory signals. I have no idea what it's going to look like (INAUDBLE)
LEMON: What I heard in Dana's interview when she say, "Can you give us a hint of what it's going to look like?" And he said, I don't want to give away the surprise. Why would it be a surprise?
POWERS: What are the republicans been doing for the last eight years? I mean, I don't under -- truly, if they don't, how can they not have something to replace this when they have voted to repeal --
PRESTON: Because they've never been able to appeal, but they have never been able to agree on how it should actually be done, right? I mean, that is the problem. And the HHS Secretary Nominee himself has had legislation but yet it hasn't been embraced by everybody on the house republican side. So -- I mean, to your point they really have caught the car and now don't know what to do with it.
LEMON: They're going to have to figure it out soon enough. You mentioned the HHS, Secretary, I'm going to play -- I'm to play -- Douglas did you want to get in on this?
BRINLEY: No. Go ahead. You go.
LEMON: OK. I wanted to play these exchanges between Bernie Sanders and Scott Pruitt. Trump speak to lead the Environment of Protection Agency. Listen to this.
SCOTT PRUITT, REPUBLICAN POLITICIAN FROM THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA: As I've indicated, climate -- the climate is changing and even --
BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: But haven't told me why you think the climate is changing.
PRUITT: Well Senator, the job of the administrator is to carry out the statutes as passed by this body --
SANDERS: Why is the climate changing?
PRUITT: Senator, in response to the CO2 issue, the EPA administrator is constrained by statutes --
SANDERS: I'm asking you a personal opinion.
PRUITT: My personal opinion is immaterial to the job of -- to the job --
SANDERS: Really? You are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?
PRUITT: Senator, I've acknowledged to you that human activity impacts...
LEMON: So, Kristen, democrats want to paint him as pro energy anti- environment, he rejects that narrative. What do you make of it?
POWERS: Well, I don't know why dodging the question, I mean, it's a pretty straightforward question, but the thing that -- this -- what struck me with this is that I feel like this is almost something any of the nominees could have said because they all seem to disagree with him on some pretty fundamental things and I don't know whether he agrees or disagrees but it seems to be -- it doesn't really matter what we think because we're just going to do what Donald Trump is going to do, I presume because -- or unless they think that they're going to somehow convince him to do something different. But when you have people like, you know, even the idea you don't have the person who's responsible for appealing or, you know, coming up with replacement for Obamacare in on the discussions, it's just a very unorthodox way to be going about it.
LEMON: Douglas, Is there a right answer? What was the right answer for that?
BRINKLEY: The right answer is Scott Pruitt is a really awful choice for EPA in my opinion. He wants to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency. And if you look at his record in Oklahoma and look at what he's done on any issue on the environment, he seems to be an enemy of not only the climate movement but just grassroots environmentalists, he couldn't have pick a more controversial guy than Pruitt but he probably will pass.
LEMON: Interesting. These are interesting times. I have to run. Thank you, David. Thank you, Douglas, Kristen, Mark. I appreciate it. Up next, Donald Trump's latest feud this time with fashion designer Tom Ford and it's all about the incoming first lady Melania Trump.
LEMON: Donald J. Trump's less than two days away from addressing the nation as 45th President of the United States. But what sort of inauguration do we expect from a man who has been unconventional from day one of his campaign. Let's discuss now with Bob Colacello, Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair and the author or Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House, 1911 to 1980. Good evening. Thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.
BOB COLACELLO, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT FOR VANITY FAIR: THANK YOU.
LEMON: So you have covered with four presidential inaugurations up close and personal?
COLACELLO: Well, Jimmy Carter, the Reagans, Bush one, Clinton.
LEMON: Yes. Four presidents. So listen, what do you make about the controversy, have you ever seen this much controversies swelling around the President-elect and --
COLACELLO: Not to this degree. No. I mean, Reagan, there was a lot of talk in the east coast press and in the Washington establishment that Ronald Reagan was this cowboy from out west who couldn't wait to push the button but it wasn't -- there wasn't this level of intensity, nobody was going on strike, members of the Democratic Party weren't refusing to attend the inauguration.
LEMON: Yes. Usually, you know, inaugurations are pretty glitzy and glamorous affairs. And I wonder what you think the Trump appeal will be because there's -- there going to be fewer balls, fewer celebrity performances in the past. What do you think the social scene is going to be like in the -- in the Trump -- in D.C. during a Trump administration?
COLACELLO: Well, I hope it picks up actually from the Obama and Bush, two administrations where you didn't really have first ladies who liked to entertain a lot. I think one of the geniuses of Nancy Reagan was she understood getting people together socially was a way to, you know, get people to know each other and work together. I think Trump, you know, he and Melania are not very social people, like Trump is always kind of spurn the idea of society, even in Palm Beach, I think Ivanka and Jarred Kushner might end up being the, sort of, social epicenter of Washington.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: It's interesting that you say that because if you, you know, if you lived in New York especially in the 80s and 90s, I mean, Donald Trump was a - was a man about town. Do you think that's in recent years that he spurned the social scene?
COLACELLO: No, Donald was - Donald was a, you know, sort of a protege of Roy Kohn, who was, I mean, a player in New York. Ivana, his first wife, was running Atlantic City Casinos and the Plaza Hotels, she wanted to be more social, but, you know, you could go to endless dinner parties in New York and you never really see Donald and Melania. Donald, I think part of his populist appeal was he still like a guy from Queens who really does - he's not really into the society scene.
LEMON: And you think it would - it would better suit - it would help bring them together like Nancy Reagan did if there was - if there was more time?
COLACELLO: I think if Melania, you know, took a more active role. I think Ivanka will fill that role.
LEMON: It seems Donald Trump is in feud with someone all the time. His latest one is with Tom Ford, the designer. I'm sure you're very aware that. This is what Tom Ford said on "The View." This was back in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM FORD, FASHION DESIGNER: I don't know, I was asked to dress her quite a few years ago, and I declined.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
FORD: Well, she's not necessarily my image and, you know, also the first lady -- other than the fact that I'm a democrat and voted for Hillary and I'm very sad and disappointed that she's not in office, but other than that, you know, even had Hillary won, she shouldn't be wearing my clothes. They're too expensive.
(END OF VIDEOCLIP)
LEMON: So he was talking about dressing Melania for the Inaugural Ball, so the Inauguration. What do you think of that?
COLACELLO: Well, look, I know Tom Ford from Studio 54 days when he was a student at NYU and his (INAUDIBLE) and Levi's 501s. I think - look, it's - I go with that Carolina Herrera and Tommy Hilfiger and even Diane Furstenberg who was a very fervent Hillary supporter and as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America who said it's an honor to dress the first lady.
LEMON: And I think Ralph Lauren saying the same thing, and Ralph Lauren may be a choice and we'll see. We'll find out.
COLACELLO: Melania has worn a lot of foreign designers, as -- so has Michelle, actually. That's a big break. When Nancy Reagan wore one Valentino for dinner upstairs in the White House, she was severely criticized for wearing Italian designer.
LEMON: Here's how Donald Trump responded. This is on FOX News.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tom Ford is an example. I will not dress the first lady. He was never asked to dress. And Steve Wynn just called me and he said he thought it was so terrible what Tom Ford said, that he threw his clothing out of his Las Vegas Hotel. I'm not a fan of Tom Ford, never have been.
(END OF VIDEOCLIP)
COLACELLO: Steve Wynn, I did a profile on Steve Wynn for Vanity Fair (INAUDIBLE) with Bellagio. He was - I've kept - it was 11:00 at night and he's still talking, you know, I mean, the thing about all of this, is it's all people who love publicity. I started out working for Andy Warhol, and sat through her interview. And Andy really predicted where we're at today. You know, where fame has become the ultimate value and we're living in reality TV world. I mean, it's quite funny to see the president-elect talk about Steve Wynn, a casino operator throwing out, you know, Tom Ford's clothes from the stores in Las Vegas.
LEMON: Are you surprised or that's just, you know, two days (INAUDIBLE)
COLACELLO: I can't see, you know, Ronald Reagan or either Bush or even Bill Clinton, you know, making a remark like that. And I say this as someone who actually likes Donald and I'm the token republican at "Vanity Fair" so, but it's like, surreal, you know, the whole thing.
LEMON: Yes, he's the president-elect, why would he care, right? Listen, tonight we all send our best wishes to the Bush family. George H.W. Bush is in the hospital and the former first lady as well. They've being treated for acute respiratory problem. The first lady has bronchitis. Is there anything, you know, you went to their inaugurations, right?
LEMON: You knew them. Is there anything you'd like to share about the former first?
COLACELLO: Well, I really didn't know them that well. I saw them after they were out of office at - in Dominican Republic a few times. You know, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush were not the best of friends, although when Ron Reagan, Jr. made a very anti-republican speech at the Democratic Convention, an anti-Bush speech, Nancy actually called Barbara Bush to apologize, and she said, "We have a black sheep in our family, too."
[23:35:01] You know, she was a beloved first lady, Barbara Bush, but she was tough. I mean, people who knew her, she was tough. And Nancy Reagan was portrayed as tough and I don't think she was as tough as she really -- you know, people -- the perception of people isn't always what they're really like.
LEMON: Yes, don't I know that. Thank you, Bob. And of course, we wish the Bushes the very best.
COLACELLO: Yes. No, I think -- you know, I think they were very distinguished couple and she's a lady and he's a gentleman.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. When we come right back, Donald Trump's Washington will be a very different place. But what happens on Day One, and is team Trump ready for Day One?
LEMON: Donald Trump takes office in a little over a day, but some of his cabinet picks are still a long way from being confirmed. Let's discuss now with CNN Political Commentator, Matt Lewis; CNN Political Contributor, Hilary Rosen; Politics and Political Commentators, Kayleigh McEnany and Symone Sanders.
[23:40:00] Symone, I want to talk about the Donald Trump's cabinet picks today, Tom Price, Betsy DeVos, of course, and Scott Pruitt. They face really tough questions on Capitol Hill from democrats. But beyond putting them on a hot seat, is there anything that democrats can really do at this point?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, democrats can continue to ask really great questions and have a really good research. Because we saw that Betsy DeVos really didn't know the depth and breadth of her job, didn't know about the Disabilities Act and how that applied to her job as Secretary of Education. We need to ask tough questions of Price, have to ask tough questions at Pruitt, he's a climate denier. Who's going to put a climate denier as head of the EPA? These are real questions we have to ask, and I think the American people appreciate these questions, and informs their opinion.
LEMON: But will it have any impact?
SANDERS: Well, you know, the republicans are in charge and the republicans can ram through these nominations. But not to say that the democrats should not put up a fight, and that's exactly what they're doing.
LEMON: Any impact?
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think we've already seen an impact and we look at what happened today with Congressman Price and his hearings on Obamacare. He was challenged by senate democrats who say, you know, president-elect Trump has promised - he wasn't going to cut Social Security, promised he wasn't going to take away Medicare for seniors, are you going to keep that promise?
And then, you have a cabinet secretary, sort of, on the hot seat here. We've seen with Obamacare that the democrats fighting back, has actually changed the conversation about Obamacare. The republicans thought they were going to ram through a repeal, guess what, that has totally slowed down.
LEMON: All right. We'll discuss more and more discussions. Let's look at this. This -- a couple of times - a few times the confirmation hearings got heated. Watch this.
CHRIS MURPHY, UNITED STATES SENATOR: You can't say definitively today that guns shouldn't be in schools?
BETSY DEVOS, NOMINEE FOR SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Well, I will refer back to Senator Enzi and the school that he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably, there, I would imagine that there's probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies. TOM PRICE, NOMINEE FOR DEPT. OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I look forward to working with you to make sure that every single American has access to the highest quality care and coverage that is possible.
BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: "Has access to," does not mean that they are guaranteed health care. I have access to buying a $10- million home, I don't have the money to do that.
CORY BOOKER, UNITES STATES SENATOR: You've been writing letters on behalf of polluting industries. I want to ask you, how many letters did you write to the EPA about this health crisis?
SCOTT PRUITT, NOMINEE FOR EPA ADMINISTRATOR: You just can't bring a lawsuit if you don't understand, and if there's not been some injury to the State of Oklahoma, and each of those cases -
BOOKER: My time's expired, but if I could just say, injury? Clearly, asthma is triggered and caused by air pollutants.
(END OF VIDEOCLIP)
LEMON: So, Kayleigh, similar question to what I asked Symone and Hilary, do you think, I mean, those were some very fiery moments. Some of the - I think some of the candidates seemed to be caught off guard or the picks. Do you think that's going to have any impact?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: None whatsoever, because democrats sealed the deal for republicans when they eliminated the filibuster for cabinet picks and basically said, hey, you just need 50 votes in order to secure your cabinet picks. So these all will get through. The only one potentially at risk, and I don't even think he's at risk, is Rex Tillerson.
I think Rubio will eventually come around, McCain will eventually come around, because they don't want to be the republican who stopped Donald Trump from getting his pick. And I would have to disagree with Hilary that the reason we're talking about a replacement of Obamacare, is not because of democrats but because we have a president-elect who has said, I'm not going to let people die on the streets. It's important to me that people keep their healthcare in some form, going forward. It's not the democrats who've changed the conversation. It's the fact that we have a president-elect who's a post partisan president.
LEMON: Are we at this moment -
ROSEN: He didn't really start saying that until the democrats put a huge amount of pressure on this issue for the last couple of weeks.
MCENANY: No, he said it in the republican primary. He said it in the republican primary.
ROSEN: Yes, but then he got to Washington and they were planning this repeal all along. So look, if Donald Trump wants to work with democrats to protect Americans from a radical congress, more power to him. You know, I'm happy to have him do it. But I think that we shouldn't kid ourselves that he is going to be following what congress is doing in many respects here.
LEMON: Matt, I think that you made this point the other night, the fact that we're even having this conversation in the country, is because of President Obama, because of Obamacare.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
LEMON: That we're in the position to even be able to discuss this.
LEWIS: No, I think that's true. I think that one way of looking at this is to say that, you know, Obamacare is going to go away, and therefore President Obama's legacy is going to go away. But I think the fact is, once Obamacare passed, the paradigm shifted and there became an assumption that government is responsible for providing at least, access to healthcare. And I think it's echoed in Donald Trump's own statements. This is not a libertarian, sort of, conservatism that says let the market decide. There is an assumption that government has some responsibility to make sure this works.
[23:45:00] LEMON: Yes. And here's what you said -- this is a piece of - part of the piece that you wrote in The Daily Beast, you say, "These are picks intended -- getting back to the picks -- these are picks intended to upset the apple cart. Trump doesn't want to manage the status quo; he wants to shift the paradigm." Explain that.
LEWIS: Right. So, if you were trying to have this ship run without scandal or problems, you would pick administrators, managers, bureaucrats to manage your bureaucracy. But in the case of Pruitt at EPA, you've got a guy who's going to push back against environmental overreach during the Obama years. In the case of Jeff Sessions, a guy who clearly cares about law and order issues. In the case of Price, his whole thing is Obamacare. Flynn is about ISIS, and I think for DeVos -- Betsy DeVos, it's about school choice. And -- so these are not picks of people who are safe administrators, who would manage things smoothly. They're big gambles to change the country, I would say mostly in a positive direction, but I would -- I would not be surprised if there are not a few hiccups along the way to doing --
LEMON: Well, six of the picks have no government experience. That's a big learning curb. Don't you think?
SANDERS: I think so. And I think it's also important to note that the Trump administration and the republicans will own the successes but they'll also own those failures. They will not have a democratic president to push this off on. They won't have democratic in charge in congress to push this off on. This will be solely on the hands of the republicans. They will be left holding the bag.
LEMON: OK. We'll be right back.
[23:50:00] LEMON: A divided America counting down to the inauguration of Donald Trump. Back now with Matt Lewis, Hilary Rosen, Kayleigh McEnany, and Symone Sanders. Ms. McEnany, Donald Trump tweeted a photo - or released a photo on Instagram and Twitter today, and it says, "Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a- Lago," and that was three weeks ago. "Looking forward to Friday. It was a brutal campaign, the country's deeply divided." What does he need to say in his speech to try to bring this country together? First of all, do you believe he's writing his own speech?
MCENANY: I do. He's bucked the system so far in every way possible.
LEMON: Do you? Do you?
LEWIS: No way.
ROSEN: I think he's actually going to ad lib it like he did his rallies. That's my prediction.
LEMON: I -- listen, I think he has some influence, but I mean, who would? That's what speechwriters are for. Speechwriters are awesome.
MCENANY: Well, we were told Stephen Miller was writing it, so -- but at the same time, I think there's a lot of America that's done with the floor soaring rhetoric we've had the last eight years, made just like an adulterated real stake, which is what Donald Trump gave us, and that's why he won the election. But --
LEMON: I like inspiration.
MCENANY: I like inspiration, too, but I also like honest speech that doesn't -- haven't been poll tested, focus-group tested, you know, gone over, over and over and over again.
LEMON: What does he need to say? What do you want him to say?
MCENANY: I -- look, I think when he came out -- when he won the presidency and he came out and said, "I want to be a president for all Americans, all religions, all creeds." it was basically the second sentence that came out of his mouth on the night of November 8th. That's the tone he needs to hit. It's the chord he needs to strike. And if he does so, it will be a great speech.
LEMON: Yes. What do you think he needs to do?
ROSEN: You know, he has -- he said that the night he was elected, and then he has spent the last, you know, month and a half picking fights with people. Smashing at Hillary and smashing at, you know, Congressman Lewis and smashing at all of the losers and doubters and media, and, you know, he needs to just rise above it and just be a president for all Americans. I think we'll hear that probably in his speech, whether he can do it the next day, too --
LEMON: Yes. ROSEN: -- is really the challenge.
LEMON: Well, he said he's going to start on Monday. He's going to get a fresh start on Monday. I kind of like --
SANDERS: Because he has been so busy.
LEMON: Well, I mean, you know, it's probably -- it is going to be big (INAUDIBLE).
ROSEN: He actually becomes president on Friday. Has nobody told him that?
LEMON: I know but he said he's going to start on Monday. Did you guys not hear?
MCENANY: I did. I heard he's going to start on Monday.
SANDERS: He's going to start signing the bills on Monday. But what has he been doing? These last two weeks, he hasn't even been talking to his picks for his cabinet, because they all get in these hearings. They say, "Well, we haven't spoken to Mr. Trump about that.
LEMON: Matt, you see it's a good that he's so unpopular right now because there's -- well, he can only do better. That's actually there's nowhere to go but up.
LEWIS: It's a -- I know it's a counter-intuitive perspective but -- look, I think that there are some arguments of that, under promised and overachieve, and I think that's actually parallel with that and with the speech, you know. The fact is that if he comes out and is humble and I think that Kayleigh is right. If he can channel what he did after the election, that first speech, I think people will be like, "Oh my -- he is so eloquent. He is so humble." So, I think the low expectations do help him.
LEMON: Well, I think it's -- I mean, we've asked this question before but maybe it will be like Tara Setmayer said. Maybe he will realize that this is something that's bigger than he is.
LEWIS: That's the Thomas Beckett rule, you know, when you were thrust this -- the awesome responsibility that you are thrust then sometimes people can rise to the occasion. And I think we should hope that he does that.
LEMON: This is --
ROSEN: But, you know, you see -- and we have this amazing view of it out here, when you see the majesty of Washington, D.C., the capital behind you and the people in front of you, facing the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, if are not overcome with some humility, if you don't experience some moment where you recognize the responsibility you are about to undertake, then you really are not even fit to be leader. So, I can't imagine he won't have some moment there. The question is, does it ever get sustained with Donald Trump?
LEMON: The President -- the current President, Barack Obama, held his final press conference today. This was his departing message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad. In my core, I think we are going to be okay. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it, and not take it for granted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He says I think we are going to be okay. Did you hear that as a calming or sort of concerning?
[23:55:02] MCENANY: Oh, I thought it was a great message. You know, democrats looked at this like, "Oh, normally, President Obama is optimistic. He's not as optimistic as he typically is; this is a kind of bad prediction of what's to come for Trump, and how he sees it. I saw it as entirely the opposite. You have 50 democrats sitting out and pouting and not attending the swearing in. And you had the president today, saying, "Look, guys, everything is going to be OK. You don't need to be apoplectic about this. Everything is going to be OK."
I saw it as a reassuring message and I admire President Obama for how he's handled the last 60 days. He's been nothing but graceful and respectful, and I admire him for that.
LEMON: Do you think - are you apoplectic?
SANDERS: I love my president, President Obama. And I think he is the epitome of grace and class.
LEMON: Can I ask you something?
LEMON: What are you going to do because I saw in the CNN (INAUDIBLE) TONIGHT when the Bushes got on the helicopter and left? What are you going to do when he gets home -
SANDERS: I think I might fallout.
SANDERS: I mean, I'll be - I'll be watching and it'll be a sad moment, but I know that they're coming back. You know, the Obamas will be here, they'll be here for the fight, and they're going to continue to do the work. And today, I think President Obama sat up there, and he gave up a little hope and change on his way out.
LEMON: Thank you panel. I got to go.
ROSEN: You know, if Donald Trump had to work for him to be our president, too.
LEMON: Thank you.
ROSEN: He has to work with that.
LEMON: Thanks everyone. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.