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Report: Trump Inaugural Festivities Underway; Trump Lays Wreath at Tomb of The Unknowns
Aired January 19, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:
KATE BETTS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: I think it was Oleg Cassini who designed for Mrs. Kennedy who said he imagined her as if she was in a movie and of course he was a costume designer for Paramount but it is almost like they are in this tableau and we are looking at this extended family really. It's really one of the largest families I've seen on this stage I think.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All the kids and grandchildren are there. And the incoming first lady, Emily, she's wearing sunglasses which is not unusual even though it's not all that sunny here in Washington but she's got an enormous amount of responsibility as well. It is unusual she's not going to be moving here right away, she wants their son, Barron to finish this semester before they come to the White House.
EMILY JANE FOX, WRITER, VANITY FAIR: In fact, she is going back to New York on Sunday after all the festivity. Barron will be at school bright and early Monday morning just like any other kid in New York City. It's very interesting what's going to happen with the first family, you saw her moving to D.C., Jared will serve in the White House, but the two eldest sons will remain taking care of the Trump organization. I'm excited today to see what the first look at what that will look like.
BLITZER: Historically, it is pretty unusual, isn't it?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There have been first ladies that have not enjoyed being in Washington. Margaret Truman was a very important helper to President Truman, so the fact that the first lady likes to be somewhere other than Washington, that's not news. What's going to be interesting is the fact of what is clear is that the President-elect, soon to be President Trump has enormous respect for his children's advice. That's what's really different. Some people might remember how much trouble President Carter got into when he referred to Amy's thoughts on nuclear weapons. Well, Amy was eight or nine years old at the time, but we are already prepared that his children are going to be seen as sources of advice. That's a big difference.
BLITZER: We do remember Ronald Reagan's wife Nancy played an incredibly important role.
NAFTALI: But Ron Jr. was not a source of advice. BETTS: It is true in terms of first ladies and it does seem like
Ivanka is going to play that sort of role as first lady even though she doesn't like us to say that.
BLITZER: OK. I want to watch this wreath laying ceremony. Now let's just listen and watch.
We're waiting for the start of this wreath laying ceremony. This is Arlington National Cemetery the wreath will be placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the monument dedicated to the U.S. military personnel who have died in action without their remains being identified. Once again this is the first official inaugural event for the President- elect Trump and the Vice President-elect Pence. This event will begin momentarily. We're going to have extensive live coverage of this moment. David Gregory, you and I were both former White House correspondents, no matter how many times you see it you're going to be moved.
[15:35:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's moving to watch as a citizen, it's moving for anybody that's got a role in Washington. It's beyond that. It's a different level of humility because of all the pageantry around you, it is your job alone to order men and women to their potential death. There's no way you can sugarcoat it it is part of the job. It's an awesome responsibility and you come "face to face" with the honor that this represent, the bravery it represents but the painful anonymity that it represents as well that we can have a son or daughter lost in battle.
BLITZER: We're seeing some of the staff there, military personnel awaiting the President-elect of the United States walking down the stairs and there we see some of the family members Ivanka and Jared, some of the adult children of the President-elect of the United States. Matt Lewis is with us as well. Matt, this is a moving moment for them, for the family as well.
MATT LEWIS: SENIOR COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Absolutely. You think about the history, the tradition, the pageantry, the responsibility and then other Presidents throughout history, John F. Kennedy is buried there, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, who sent service members into harm's way and Donald Trump you know maybe he started this as a -- it's unclear but he's about to put his hand on the bible and about to be the person in charge of those decisions.
BLITZER: Emily, we see the family there, we see Ivanka, Jared Kushner, an advisor to the President of the United States, the two adult sons, John Jr. who will not be in the White House. They will be taking care of the family business, but now we're seeing the family beginning to walk down including Melania, the next first lady of the United States. Emily, you studied this family for a long time.
FOX: Yes, absolutely, you see the eldest grandchildren of Donald Trump, you don't see the youngest members. I would find it hard to believe this family has actually visited Arlington before today so not only visiting this emotional seen but visiting it as the first family for the first time. That has to be a tremendous amount to take in. BLITZER: The President-elect of the United States and the Vice
President-elect of the United States will be walking down with military escorts and they will be presiding over this wreath laying ceremony.
GREGORY: Interesting, Wolf, when President Kennedy looked at this space and toured it with superintendent of Arlington, he said out loud this would be a marvelous place to be buried someday, of course so premature in his own life and of course the Kennedy brothers are there as well. So, to take in the view as someone who is going to be sworn in as President tomorrow on top of the honor and awesome responsibility this represents again one of the earliest pieces of the pageantry where the President is going to the history, and he was at Blair house where he learned of the old Kentucky newspaper man who ultimately became an advisor to Andrew Jackson, living this the house where the Gettysburg address resides. There is so much history to get caught up on that he is now part of.
BLITZER: Well, let's bring in the presidential historian Tim Naftali who is watching all of this as well. You studied these presidents for a long time. The 45th President of the United States tomorrow will be Donald Trump.
NAFTALI: Every individual who has become our President shapes the office in a certain way. And we have a sense of how Donald J. Trump --
BLITZER: Here he comes with a military escort.
NAFTALI: But we don't know tomorrow we will start seeing it.
BLITZER: Let's watch the President-elect of the United States. The Vice President-elect of the United States as this wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is about to begin.
[15:40:00] David Gregory, that was a very, very moving moment, the first official inaugural event for the President-elect of the United States.
GREGORY: Yes, we've been reflecting on it again. This is one of the set pieces for the President-elect to pay tribute to the Tomb of the Unknown, as the Trump family looks on, some family so young as children, as we watched the Obama girls grow up in their time in office, but this is a moment where he really prepares as President- elect Trump to become commander in chief and come to grips of the enormous sacrifice of our men and women in the service, and all of the decisions he'll have to make with regard to national security threats.
And challenges he will have to face as President and one of the things we know from Presidents past the reason the former Presidents club is known as that. They can all appreciate the lonely experience it is to be commander in chief and order people to give the ultimate sacrifice you can give the depth of the difficulty of those decisions is now part of what Donald Trump will share with others who have come before him. BLITZER: Jake Tapper is over at the Lincoln Memorial which will be
the next official event. A concert there, what's called A Make America Great Again event. I'm anxious on your thoughts, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Beyond the trade deals, that moment that we just witnessed represents the most serious and consequential trust that a nation can bestow on someone. Lives are about to be in Donald Trump's hands not just the lives of the U.S. service members but as commander in chief his primary responsibility is keeping the American people and homeland safe and secure and what we just witnessed, the wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknowns represents that grave responsibility in a way that words fail to describe, but since we don't have the President-elect with us, let us turn to one of the next best things we have with us with me and Dana, Tom Barrack, who is the chairman of Presidential Inaugural Committee, he is responsible for what we are about to enter, the celebration of the peaceful transfer of power as well as the celebration of the 45th presidency, thanks so much for being here.
TOM BARRACK, chairman, Presidential Inaugural Committee: Thank you.
TAPPER: Congratulations on everything that's about to unfold. Let me ask you as somebody who knows Donald Trump and is watching him go from a civilian to the commander in chief, what are you witnessing behind closed doors?
[15:45:00] BARRACK: Goosebumps. The waiting as of the moment of transitioning from candidate to President is momentous. And I think what you're seeing and if you just look in his eyes at Arlington, you see in that moment and that anticipation of that peaceful transfer of partisan power that the rhetoric of a campaign moves aside and that responsibility of saying all of these lives as we look is incredibly important and say we're just players on this stage and he's the lead actor where you're going to see a shift from candidate to leader.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Before coming out we were watching and you were noticing that the guy that you have known for so many decades the look on his eyes and face change, how so, can you be more specific?
BARRACK: Look, the man is intent. I don't think you have ever had a harder working candidate in history. And instead of showing up for two or three events on Thursday or Friday, tomorrow, St. Johns, coffee and tea with one great President and his wife transcending in three hours to the home and turning that home over to him is a change in attitude of saying I'm here because of a constituency in a political campaign and I'm going to represent all the constituencies that didn't represent me and that heaviness and burden of being able to communicate with that. You can see in his eyes, he's there, up for it.
BASH: You also said you don't think he's going to be as glib anymore. Not just the campaigner, but also the TV reality star, you really think so?
BARRACK: No, the glibness 144 characters, polls are relevant, short quip when you don't have to dictate policy is OK, and it's a great tool that he utilized. Now he has a cabinet, now he has heavy issues and I think you're going to see him do it as he did selecting his cabinet. Thoughtfully, considered. He's got a team, he's going to give them accountability, responsibility. And I think it's time for all of us in America to say whatever it was that we did during the campaign, we should follow his lead. Let's put it behind us, give him a chance -- look at the monuments, Korea, Vietnam, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln.
These were will built on the backs of people's lives and spirits and this moment is one in the world in which transfer of power happens in this one way, the one most unbelievable way is coffee and tea, the compassion they must feel for each other, President Obama saying hey, pal, you're about to step into something you probably can't imagine, and President-elect Trump saying, I have such compassion, respect for what you have done, may not agree with the political issues, but as a man and a leader, thank you.
[15:50:00] TAPPER: This evening there will be a dinner with President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Pence, we're told there may be some big names at that dinner. Can you fill us in, anyone that we should know about?
BARRACK: The big names in Trump land are actually the invisible people. If you look at the people who got him elected. It's the waiters, the drivers, the people who are working three shifts when we the beneficiaries are able to celebrate a triumph, all the big donors, big cabinet nominees the Congressional leadership, it's who you would expect as a prelude to the next day which is really show time. Right? At 11:23 when he steps on to the west platform of the capitol, that moment is an impactive moment so this isn't just a prelude of that community for everybody that's worked for that two-year period to say thank you on his behalf.
TAPPER: I think there are a lot of Americans out there who would love President-elect Trump to rise to the moment you talked about in a way to uniting the country to talk about putting away the divisions of the campaign, that have been disappointed by a lot of things that have happened in the transition. This is not a Sunday show, you understand what I'm saying, there are a lot of people who would love to rally behind him.
BARRACK: He's totally ready and he gets it. And I think what we have to do is give him a chance. He hasn't got his team in place. He's President-elect and if you look at the cabinet selections, people criticize it saying it's all billionaires or only successful people and I say would you like him to have unsuccessful people? If we're having cardiac surgery you go to the best cardiac surgeon in the world or if you're going into a war you would prefer to have a general, General Mattis than a West Point cadet and that's what's happened and what I would love to see and I think what will happen with him is he now knows he's President for all.
I think you're going to see it in spades and in turn all of us need to give him a chance and to say great, now you're the leader, take those 100 days and fabricate that tapestry with Congressional leadership, you have 535 people he's got to meld this way, he's not a dictator so that weaving of that tapestry which is his vision which incorporates all the threads of all of us in every walk in life can happen and it can happen if we all get behind it. He'll do it.
TAPPER: And his first opportunity to do that
BARRACK: His first opportunity to do that is his big address down on the mall, his inaugural address.
TAPPER: Have you spoken to him about it, have you seen it, do you feel confident he's going to set the tone you describe in the major address?
BARRACK: Yes, by the way, he wrote it himself. He's got the best speech writers available to him. He wrote it himself. He's written 13 best sellers.
TAPPER: Have you seen it?
BARRACK: No, he would never share it with any of us, right? Probably going to use it as a surprise for all of you. It's from his heart, well thought, and I think it will be a message to the world. And what we need to do as a message to the world is say, look, we can never be attacked by the outside if we're together on the inside. So, I think that's the first task. The first 100 days, domestic policies, immigration, tax reform, Obamacare, education, he'll nail those and his team will do it.
And foreign policy, he was the first President that ever reached out to the domestic diplomatic core. When we start, this had he said, look, I want you to reach out to the domestic diplomatic core. I want to know what they think. I researched it, it had never been done. So, he said I want to do it someplace special. He did it in the Mellon building which he's been a critic of NATO. We did it at a building in with history.
[15:55:00] TAPPER: Best of luck. I hope it is a great inaugural celebration for you. We're going to take a very quick break. Whether we come back, the inaugural is just getting started. Stay with us.