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Donald Trump Inauguration Tomorrow; Ethical Questions Grow About Trump Cabinet Nominees; Hall of Fame Class of 2017; Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired January 19, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Dwight Eisenhower saw after they won. There's two trading days left in this span for Trump. He probably won't catch JFK at 8.8 percent or -- Herbert Hoover at more than 10 percent. Hoover was actually inaugurated in March. So we adjusted the math so that that one matches the others. But the biggest rally ever from election day to inauguration belongs to Calvin Coolidge. 1924 and '25.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. The S&P was only 90 stocks at that point. But it gained an incredible 17 percent. Calvin Coolidge.

BERMAN: That dude had it going on.

ROMANS: Yes. I got to tell you.

BERMAN: Calvin Coolidge. All right. EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: Useless information.

BERMAN: Just one day until Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Final preparations under way. We are live in Washington.

ROMANS: Growing ethics questions surrounding some of Trump's top Cabinet picks and those questions are causing some fireworks on Capitol Hill.

BERMAN: President Obama face-to-face with the media for the last time. His final news conference. What was the number one message the outgoing president wanted to send?

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this special pre-inauguration edition of EARLY START.

ROMANS: That's music. You hear it?

BERMAN: Live from Washington. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, it is January 19th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. And January 19th, that means it is T- minus one day and counting to the inauguration of Donald Trump. Soon to be the 45th president of the United States. Right there behind us on the beautiful steps of the capitol, President-elect Trump will be transformed into President Trump. And with hours to go, the rush of last-minute preparations are under way across the city.

Today Mr. Trump flies here to Washington and for the first time he will arrive on an Air Force jet. This afternoon he will attend a wreath laying at Arlington. He will attend two welcoming being concerts.

Joining us now with all the details on the president-in-waiting's schedule for today, CNN's Athena Jones in our Washington bureau.

And Athena, the bunting is up at all the hotels. The barricades are beginning to go up. Uber drivers are complaining about blocked roads. It's all here.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's all here. Good morning. That means we're getting very, very close with one day to go. You have pretty busy day for the president-elect. As you mentioned he'll be coming in, flying into D.C. on a military aircraft. He is expected to arrive midday. Then he heads over to Arlington National Cemetery for that wreath laying. And he attends two concerts, one in the mid- afternoon called the Voices of the People pre-concert that will take place down by the monuments.

And then in the late afternoon, early evening, he's attending what's being dubbed a Make America Great Again welcome concert. That will be down at the Lincoln Memorial. And it will include acts like Toby Keith, Three Doors Down among others.

Now he also had a busy night last night. The president-elect attending two dinners here in Washington, D.C. One was to honor Cabinet secretaries. The other one was to honor his incoming vice president Mike Pence. He tweeted a photo from that dinner. He met with some Wounded Warriors at that dinner with Mike Pence. And he tweeted this photo. You can see it on the screen thanking them for their service. So busy night last night.

One more thing that the president-elect is now doing is he's finalizing his Cabinet. CNN has learned he's going to tap former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue to serve as his Agriculture secretary. And with that pick, he wraps up all of his Cabinet picks. It means that he'll have a Cabinet that has not Latino representation for the first time in nearly 30 years. Latinos have served in Cabinet positions in every presidential administration since 1988. So that's something that's going to get some attention.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: Dating back to Ronald Reagan. And of course the president- elect will spend tonight in Blair House before he walks across the street tomorrow morning and has coffee with the president.

Athena Jones, thank you very, very much.

The administration wants as many nominees confirmed as possible by the close of business tomorrow. But slowing this process down growing ethical questions about some of the picks. Mr. Trump's choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, Congress Mick Mulvaney, has admitted failing to pay employment taxes for a babysitter, $15,000 worth. The congressman says he mistakenly believed that babysitters, as he's called them, were not taxable employees. He says he paid the taxes as soon as he learned otherwise.

The nominee for Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, he had a housekeeper that he says he just learned was undocumented. He says he'd done his best to verify the employee's documents at the time of hiring, but, quote, "it turned out that was incorrect."

And there are questions about an investment by the Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price. We're going to have more on that in a moment.

ROMANS: Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling it the swamp Cabinet and slamming the rushed schedule hearings.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: These past two weeks, we have seen repeated efforts from the Trump transition aided and abetted by Senate Republicans to jam through nominees in a way that hides their views from the American people.


ROMANS: Schumer says Democrats may choose to slow down the confirmation process, something they can easily do using Senate procedures.

[05:05:08] More confirmation hearings are set for this morning. Former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, former Texas governor Rick Perry for Energy.

BERMAN: So today's hearings follow some tough questions for some of the president-elect's nominees. Georgia congressman, Tom Price, you saw him there, the nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. He promised not to pull the rug out from Americans covered by Obamacare. But Democrats, they pushed back pretty hard. They asked Price about some of his stock trades.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Did you buy the stock and then did you introduce a bill that would be helpful to the companies you just bought stock in?

REP. TOM PRICE, HHS NOMINEE: The stock was bought by -- by a broker who was making those decisions.

WARREN: When you found out that your broker had made this trade without your knowledge, did you reprimand her?

PRICE: What I did was comply -- WARREN: Well, you found that she made it.

PRICE: What I did was comply --

WARREN: Did you fire her? Did you sell the stock?

PRICE: What I did was comply with the rules of the House in an ethical and legal and aboveboard manner and in a transparent way.


WARREN: I didn't ask whether or not the rules of the House -- because you decide not to tell them, wink, wink, nod, nod, and we're all just supposed to believe that?

PRICE: It's what members of this committee. It's the manner of which members of this committee.

WARREN: No, I'm not one of those. So --

PRICE: I understand that.

WARREN: What I'm asking about is --

PRICE: But it's important to appreciate that that's the case.


BERMAN: The president-elect's pick to head up the EPA, Scott Pruitt, he also faced tough questions from Democrats. He said more research is needed to determine how much global warming is manmade. Pruitt repeatedly has sued the EPA. He did that as Oklahoma attorney general. And he refused to say if he will recuse himself from the ongoing cases.

Joining us to discuss all of these, CNN political reporter Tal Kopan and Eugene Scott, and CNN contributor Salena Zito, a reporter for the "Washington Examiner," and columnist for the "New York Post."

Guys, let's just a look if we can at the cabinet picks as they stand right now. No one has been confirmed. Some will be confirmed tomorrow. And then some of the confirmation process it will drag out over the week after that. But if we can take a look at -- there we go. There is the full slate of people up for grabs this morning.

And as Athena Jones noted no Latinos this time for the first time in a long time. And we know that former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue up for Ag secretary. That is a new pick as well.

Salena Zito, you know, we're starting to see the contours of what Democrats are doing here. They're pushing on ethics and they're also pushing on traditional partisan issues. Partisan issues, they don't keep you from being confirmed.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Right. I mean, the Democrats are doing what they're supposed to be doing. They're supposed draw sort of stark lines between who they are and who the Republicans are and how different their policies and their core beliefs are different from the Republicans. Having said that, they probably not going to be able to not confirm any of those -- any of those picks. But this is what they're supposed to do. This is what the Republicans do.

ROMANS: Right.

ZITO: This is that process of building yourself back up from out of the wilderness and letting people know who you are so that people have an understanding of the differences between the two parties. And that's what they're doing essentially.

ROMANS: When I look at that board, almost it looks like a corporate board to me. Especially when you see the CVs, the resumes of so many of these people. We're going to be hearing from, you know, Steve Mnuchin, today, somebody with a very kind of a diverse financial background but clearly another person who started at Goldman Sachs.

It's interesting to me when you talk about Democrats doing what they're supposed to be doing. Bernie Sanders emerging yesterday as really the guy rattling the cage and trying to be the progressive standard bearer and really hit on this.

Let's listen to an exchange between Congress Price and Bernie Sanders about health care.


PRICE: 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.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Has access to does not mean that they are guaranteed health care. I have access to buy a $10 million home, I don't have the money to do that.

PRICE: And that's why the -- we believe it's appropriate to put in place a system that gives every person the financial feasibility to be able to purchase the coverage that they want for themselves and for their family. Again not what the government forces them to buy.


ROMANS: It wasn't just that hearing, Eugene. It was interesting because Bernie Sanders was also sort of banging the drum about climate change and really trying to hold Scott Pruitt to it. We heard that sound bite earlier. So Bernie Sanders emerging as kind of, like, you know, the star for the Democrats here.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Indeed. And I think we're going to see more Bernie Sanders. The Democratic Party is at a place right now where they're trying to figure out if they're going to embrace the more progressive wing of the party or if they're going to lean more on the establishment wing that Hillary Clinton seemed to represent more for voters and figure out what they need to do to become the people who are able to put forth ideas and policies and keep issues before the American people that Donald Trump is opposed to, does not represent.

They really want to figure out how they can remain relevant and how this translates to hopefully some relevancy increasingly during the midterms.

[05:10:05] BERMAN: You know, I have been surprised, something Salena was saying about the Democrats pushing back is how effective they have been on health care, on Obamacare. It's ironic to me that the policy that may help them build again is the one that dragged them down since 2010.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: But, you know, they have effectively made this a complicated issue for Republicans on how they want to replace it.


BERMAN: And you can see it in the questioning right there from Bernie Sanders.

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, absolutely. And keep in mind, somewhere along the way, the White House made a conscious decision to adopt the Obamacare label after all. It started as a, you know, sort of way of insulting the bill and saying this is your thing. And along the way somewhere Obama and the Democrats said yes, this is our thing. And this is -- we're still seeing the result of that.

They truly believe that at this point it's sort of baked into the ecosystem that there are Americans, estimate of about 20 million, who are sort of reliant on this bill. And now that those people on this bill, they can say what are you going to do about these individuals who would not have health care without it? That puts them in a very strategic position in terms of leverage. And to be non political about it, I mean, it's real. These people are real now. And that's a very hard question to answer when you're talking about a theoretical replacement.

ROMANS: Well, these people are real and some of these people voted for Donald Trump.


ROMANS: So that's a really important of it. So, Tal, Eugene, Salena, stick with us. You know, that may come up at the big confirmation hearing today quite frankly and what it would do to the economy.


ROMANS: If you repealed Obamacare and what it would cost to replace it. And you could hear that be posed to the Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin. He has his hearing today. He's a former Goldman Sachs banker turned Hollywood producer.

BERMAN: "Avatar." ROMANS: Those jobs likely will not be the focus today, though.

"Avatar" will not be the focus, John Berman. Democrats are likely going to hammer him on the his record at OneWest. That is a bank he formed by purchasing the failed mortgage lender Indymac after the financial crisis. This week, two advocacy groups filed a claim alleging OneWest discriminated against minorities. Critics have blasted the company's mortgage practices.

Mnuchin is a frequent critic of Dodd-Frank. That's the banking regulations passed after the financial crisis. Trump has said he wants to dismantle it. We'll see if there is any daylight between the two on that. Trump also wants tax cuts. Lawmakers may ask Mnuchin how he plans to pay for them and if his plan matches up with the president-elect. You know, they want tax reform in particular very soon. He is on the record, Mnuchin, with that.

Finally one of his first duties will likely be dealing with the debt selling. There is a March 15th deadline to raise that cap. So the new team in place will have a very big financial decision to make very, very soon.

BERMAN: Interesting to see. Wonder if Republicans in Congress will push back so hard on the administration on the debt ceiling this time around.

ROMANS: We'll see.

BERMAN: President Obama, he held his final news conference before leaving office. So how does he think things went given the last eight years and what did he think things are going to be like tomorrow?



[05:16:07] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You find yourself isolated because the process breaks down or if you are only hearing from people who agree with you on everything, or if you haven't created a process that is fact checking and probing and asking hard questions about policies or promises that you made, that's when you start making mistakes.


ROMANS: President Obama giving his final news conference at the White House explaining his advice to the president-elect on the need to assemble a team with the best information and listen to those who don't always agree with you.

Joining me us again Tal Kopan and Eugene Scott. You know, the president there, talking to the press, talking -- giving advice to the president-elect and really talking to the American people for the last time, you know, as commander-in-chief. He also talked about the consequence of big shifts in policy. Almost kind of -- I think a pointed piece of advice to Donald Trump. Let's listen to that.


OBAMA: If you don't make big shifts in policy, just make sure you thought it through and understand that there are going to be consequences and actions typically create reactions. And so you want to be intentional about it. You don't want to do things off the cuff.


ROMANS: The good thing, Eugene Scott, is there's -- everything is intentional and there's nothing off the cuff about this incoming administration.

SCOTT: That's certainly true. That is certainly true.

BERMAN: What the president was saying was be more like me, not like you. I mean, that --


BERMAN: That's what he was saying right there and I thought that advice is kind of, you know, interesting, Eugene.

SCOTT: Well, we have seen the American people based on recent polls express great dissatisfaction with this transition and how it has gone so far and Trump's use of Twitter. And there is some dissatisfaction with who he is and quite a bit of approval for who President Barack Obama has been as he leaves the office. But I think the overarching theme of that piece is that he wants people to remember that policy is about people. There are people on the other side of all of these ideas and of these campaign promises that will have to live with the consequences of you changing things significantly that will affect them in their everyday lives.

BERMAN: Yes, but, I mean -- again, I mean, Donald Trump won the election. People knew what they were getting into. That's it. Every president has to learn how to do the job. I mean, every president who comes in the job says they learned a tremendous amount in the first six months that they're there, Tal.

KOPAN: Yes, absolutely. And I actually -- if I recall correctly, I think President Obama was talking about the situation in Israel when that came up and so he was referencing something very specific. You know, it's a broad piece of advice but it's also, you know, in very sensitive situations like the situation in Israel. It can also be applied to Obamacare. Moving so quickly, even as you promised it, he is saying at least think it through. Right? Don't just act because you've sort of made a promise, but think about what it's going to mean.

But you're right. Every president has to make it their own. And, you know, President Obama early in the press conference, it was really interesting, he was asked if he feels like he's had an influence in all of the conversations he's had with Donald Trump. And he said sort of very realistically these are the things he's campaigned on.

ROMANS: Right. KOPAN: That's what got him in office. I don't expect him to suddenly

move away from all of those.

SCOTT: Right.

KOPAN: I'll give him my advice but he's going to do what he said he was going to do.

ROMANS: I wonder if Donald Trump mentions the president at all or mentions in his address -- his inaugural address. It's interesting he's going to be talking about America first, we know. So that will be, you know, remarkable to see here after -- you know, after the eight years we've been through with the financial crisis and the rest of -- you know, Brexit and all this.

I want to step back, though, and talk about former president George H.W. Bush, who we told you and we've reported to you, was hospitalized. His wife, Barbara Bush, also in the hospital.

Last night at Anderson a spokesman for the family bringing us update to date on the condition of the former president. Let's listen to that.


JIM MCGRATH, BUSH FAMILY SPOKESMAN: They are both on an upswing.

[05:20:02] President Bush in particular had a rough morning. Mrs. Bush did for that matter as well. They are getting the best care and they were able to certainly treat what was ailing the president this morning. Successful procedure. And now he's in stable condition. They're going to keep him in the ICU for some observation.


ROMANS: Did either of you see that sweet note that he sent that -- declining to Donald Trump he would not be able to come here because his doctor said if he sat outside, he'd be six feet under.


ROMANS: Which is sort of a very George Bush kind of note. He said, he was going to be here anyway but certainly his health, being ill right now, ill health, he and his wife, certainly casts a little bit of a shadow over this.

KOPAN: Yes, absolutely. But I think -- you know, I think the line will be towed. And we certainly expect former presidents to be there and to show Donald Trump that they do support this peaceful transfer of power. And I think the fact that from his sick bed while he's in the hospital that H.W. took the time to write a note and make it public that he very much wants to be there and this is why he is not. It all indicates that everyone recognizes that this is Donald Trump's day and they're going to play along.

BERMAN: By the way, you know, the bipartisan outpouring of concern and thoughts and prayers for George H.W. Bush also shows you in some ways this town and this country is unified on some things.

All right. Guys, stick around. A lot more to discuss. Including the baseball Hall of Fame. Making room for three new inductees. Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report," that's next.


BERMAN: The baseball hall of fame welcoming three new members to its club and the long national nightmare is over. Tim "Rock" Raines getting in, finally along with Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Pudge Rodriguez.

[05:25:04] ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys. You know, Jeff Bagwell is one of my -- was my favorite player growing up so seeing him make it into the Hall of Fame, it's pretty cool. You know, Bagwell getting in on his seventh nod or seventh time around appearing on 86 percent of ballots. The Hall of Fame, it's voted on by baseball writers. You need 75 percent or be on 75 percent of the ballots in order to get in.

Ivan Rodriguez known as Pudge, he can now call himself a first-time hall of famer. He's the second catcher ever to get in on his first try. Tim Raines, on the other hand, making the cut in his last year of eligibility. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens once again falling short due to their ties with performance enhancing drugs. But they both did see a bump in their numbers from voters which is a good sign for their Hall of Fame hope.

All right. Kevin Ray and Russell Westbrook squaring off for the second time since Durant left Oklahoma City. And you guys check out what happened in the third quarter. Westbrook is going to run into Zaza Pachulia and go down. And Pachulia is just going to stand over him and he got a flagrant foul for that. And Westbrook might have still been dazed later in the game. He gets his inbound pass and then just starts walking with the ball. You can actually Steph Curry in the background going nuts, calling for the travel. He would get that call. Durant, he would score 40 in this one and gets his former team, the Warriors, went 121-100.

All right. James Harden and the Rockets is being the boss last night. Harden, another MVP performance but it was what he did after the game that was extra special. Harden driving the game ball, signing it, and presenting it Lucy Pierce who is sitting courtside celebrating her 100th birthday. Harden said he wanted to give her the game ball and tell her how blessed she is and how blessed he is for getting to meet her. Pretty cool.

All right, finally, Rodriguez was out for a nice little bike ride with his GoPro when that happened. He went off the side of a cliff. Amazingly, Rodriguez was not seriously hurt in that fall which is pretty incredible. And he was able to actually climb back up and eventually get back on his bike and ride away. Amazing video.

Guys, finally, I wanted to share a little Throwback Thursday pic for you. You know, I said Jeff Bagwell was my favorite player. Well, here's me and him way back in 1996 when I was kid.


SCHOLES: I basically lived outside the Astrodome trying to get autographs every day and Jeff Bagwell, one of the coolest players you ever come across. Many times when it was 100 degrees outside in Houston, he would stop and sign and take pictures with all his fans. And he was definitely my favorite.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes, a handsome young man, you know, growing up into a handsome adult right there. You know, you've had Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. And you have two Astros in, this is like the best thing ever for you.

SCHOLES: We went from zero to getting two in three years so a pretty good run for us.

ROMANS: Nice. All right. Andy Scholes, thanks for the -- love the throwback. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right. Ethics questions for some of Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees causing some concern here in Washington. How Democrats say they could try to prevent confirmations. That's next.