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Continuing Coverage of Inauguration of Donald Trump. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I think that ties the record for the most number -- the biggest number of living presidents.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You see Rudy Giuliani and his wife walking in, the former New York city mayor.
Dana, he's going to have a role, he's going to be a cyber security adviser to the Trump administration.
TAPPER: He wanted to be secretary of State.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Not the kind of --
BLITZER: Didn't exactly work out for him.
BASH: Not exactly the kind of role that he wanted, to your point, Jake, he wanted to be secretary of State, made that very clear, in a very unusual way, publicly. But I think there was a lot of concern about him getting confirmed. And therefore he wasn't given that job and other jobs didn't work out for him. I think that this particular role might be well-suited for him, because it is his expertise, it's how he's made his money since he's left politics.
But to your point about the whole idea about the story. I love that you told about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in the car.
BLITZER: This is Bob Dole, by the way, being escorted.
BASH: Bob Dole, again, somebody who wished that at some point in his life he were up there putting his hand on the bible, taking the oath. He ran for president in 1996 and lost to Bill Clinton.
TAPPER: Bill Clinton.
BASH: But before that, there was a very intense campaign between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush's father. So this car ride that you described is even more noteworthy and touching, given the fact that the families really had a lot of animosity. And now look at them. The Clintons and the Bushes, I mean, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton joked that they're long-lost brothers. They're actually quite close.
And it kind of gives you I think as an American a lot of hope that people who can be so different and so divisive and have such personal animosity towards one another can bond and learn to work together for the greater good.
BLITZER: We just saw Debbie Wassermann Schultz, the Democratic congresswoman from Florida, former chair of the DNC. She's not boycotting today's inaugural, she is here as well. This is --
BLITZER: By the Democrats. It's interesting, who shows up and who doesn't show up.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You have these VIPs here, they get the best seats in the house, what are they doing? They're all using their phones to take pictures often you hear.
KING: We didn't have super computers in our pockets when I covered my first inaugural, and that was -- not all that long ago. But it's a fascinating scene. To the point about the camaraderie and the exclusive club of the presidents and the ex-presidents, one of the great questions for this president, this was a very rough campaign. He won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, has what appears to be a cordial working, professional relationship with the man he is replacing at the White House.
Will the tone ever change? You mentioned that Bill Clinton has a conversation with George W. Bush, Barack Obama is having it with Donald Trump, given their history that is remarkable. But will Washington go back to its polarized, partisan, everything on party line votes, which we saw throughout the eight years of the Obama presidency? Or will there be something different because Trump is so different? We don't know that question. We won't know it for months, probably.
But as we watched the ceremony of today, the biggest question I have is what happens after. We should celebrate today, the democracy, people have their partisan views, but there are so many questions about this new president because he is so different and so new to us.
BLITZER: These are members -- we've been watching, John, members of the incoming Trump Cabinet. We saw Dr. Ben Carson, who's been nominated to be the Housing secretary, and others, they are walking in right now. Among the VIPs who are coming in.
KING: One of the people who just walked through is former senator Dan Coats, who is the president-elect's choice to be the director of National Intelligence. One of the controversies this weekend is how many of the Trump's nominees will be appointed -- be confirmed on day one. It looks like the Defense secretary will be -- General James Mattis, it looks like General Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary. But there are still have fight back and forth and some Democrats have asked the president-elect to keep on John Brennan, the current CIA director, until the new CIA director is appointed. Continuity of government, to deal with terrorist threats and the like. Well, John Brennan, the current CIA director, has been harshly critical of Donald Trump on the way out. So I would view that one as most unlikely. BLITZER: It looks like Mike -- Mike Pompeo, the CIA director
designate, will be confirmed on Monday. They're holding them from today but John Kelly will be the secretary of Homeland Security, he'll be confirmed later today. And General Mattis will be confirmed as the Defense secretary.
TAPPER: And we're looking at -- it looks like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, Republican of Kentucky, whose wife, Elaine Chao, is President-elect Trump's nominee to be secretary of Transportation. And served in the Bush administration as Labor secretary. The Trump transition team making the case that there's no reason why Elaine Chao who in their view is a relatively noncontroversial, non-lightning rod nominee for the Cabinet, why --
BLITZER: You see the Trump children there, too.
TAPPER: Why she shouldn't be confirmed on day one.
[10:35:01] But as John said, the two least controversial, Jim Mattis, former Marine general who will be the head of the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense, and John Kelly, another Marine general, will be secretary of Homeland --
BASH: Here is the House speaker.
BLITZER: I think they're going to convene at 4:00 later today to confirm them.
TAPPER: There's a -- yes, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy.
BASH: It's the Senate and House Republican leadership coming in right there all together. And Paul Ryan is a great example of how the Republican Party here in Washington, the Republican establishment, was not thrilled with the idea of Donald Trump being president of the United States. He never went to a Trump rally until after he was elected and was quite stunned at the fact that he went to a rally in the state of Wisconsin where a lot of Republicans, he said he didn't really recognize a lot of them because they were mostly former Democrats or at least new voters, and it was really giving him a sense of how things have changed with Donald Trump as president.
Paul Ryan certainly excited about having a Republican has president because he's a policy wonk and he can get a lot of things that had been on the back burner done.
TAPPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, who came close to getting the Democratic nomination. John McCain, another former presidential nominee who almost got there but did not quite make it on to the dais here.
BLITZER: Yes. You see the senators, they are here, the congressmen, the representatives, they are here. Members of the incoming Cabinet, a lot of the VIPs, military personnel. On the left part of the screen, let's not forget, we're waiting through those doors the -- President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. They'll be walking out together with the incoming President Donald Trump and the incoming First Lady Melania Trump. They will -- after their coffee, their tea, their hour session inside the White House, a private little meeting, they'll be walking out, getting into the motorcade, driving together to Capitol Hill for this moment in American history, a truly important moment that I want to reiterate what we've been pointing out, this is something that we're watching closely but the whole world will be watching as well.
BASH: And there's --
BLITZER: Because the signal will be significant.
BASH: The Trump children making the walk down, from the crypt down. We'll probably see them soon coming here to the platform, the walk that their father will do not too long from now, that remarkable view that he's going to have as he walks down those stairs and sees not just the capitol grounds but the mall filled with people.
TAPPER: On the left side of your screen, you see the White House, you're seeing the White House. We're waiting for President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump to emerge from their meeting as well as the first ladies, Obama and Trump, to emerge from their meetings. Here are members of the Supreme Court attending the inaugural ceremony. I saw --
BLITZER: The chief justice will swear in Donald Trump to be the president. Clarence Thomas will swear in the Vice President Mike Pence. And those ceremonies will be brief but very important.
BASH: And I should say that the vice president-elect's office says that that will be the first time an African-American swears in a president or a vice president. Obviously we've had an African- American president.
BASH: For the first an African-American has administered the oath.
KING: And yet another reminder that today is about transfer of power and a ceremonial day. We'll have a Supreme Court nomination fight on our hands quickly in the new year as well. The Democrats still have hard feelings that the Republican Senate refused to consider President Obama's pick for that vacancy. So one of president's first big acts will be picking a conservative for the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia.
TAPPER: And one of the ways that Donald Trump got the nomination was by basically agreeing to a list of conservative jurists, conservative judges, because there were conservatives, of course, who are skeptical of President-elect Trump, who had been a Democrat, had given money to Democratic candidates in the past including Hillary Clinton. And he said that the list looked good, that his nominee would come from that list. Just the other day he said he thinks he knows who the nominee will be, he thinks he knows who he's going to pick and nominate to the Supreme Court. They only have eight judges on the Supreme Court right now. KING: If you think the battle we've seen over the Cabinet choices has
split Washington and has the Democrats in a tizzy, wait until we have the Supreme Court fight.
BASH: But, but I've talked to a lot of Republicans who were elected to work in this building who are looking forward to -- there's the Democratic leader there, Chuck Schumer. But as I was saying, I talked to a lot of Republicans here who want President Trump to do the Supreme Court nomination very quickly because it will be the unifying thing for Republicans.
BASH: If he picks anybody on that list you talked about, Jake, most Republicans --
BLITZER: The reason that Chuck Schumer was there and Roy Blunt, the Republican senator from Missouri, they're the co-chairs of the inaugural event that is about to take place.
[10:40:07] BLITZER: So they were at the White House themselves. They've been both very involved in all the logistics, all the preparations for this important ceremony. And it is a truly important ceremony.
Once again, let's not forget, the president, the first lady, the incoming president and the incoming first lady, they'll be leaving the White House. It's now 10:40. They were originally scheduled to leave I think around 10:30 a.m. But, you know, there's always a little bit gap.
TAPPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren is here. A lot of people wondering if she's going to run for president in 2020. She is one of the strong liberal voices in Congress. She has been a tough questioner of some of the president-elect's nominations, nominees for the Cabinet.
Let me ask you a question. Did Senator Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, did he say that all -- I think it's 21 judges on that list, right, of possible Supreme Court picks that Donald Trump agreed to? Did he say every single one of them was out of the mainstream? Did he say that?
BASH: Yes. He doesn't believe any one of them is in the mainstream. Now out of the mainstream and what they're going to do about it is a very different question. He also said that he is not wedded to the idea of letting a vote happen. Now they're pretty limited in the raw numbers but they do still have the power of a filibuster for the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: For the Supreme Court.
BASH: And so --
BLITZER: That means they need 60. BASH: Right.
BLITZER: Republicans have 52.
TAPPER: I'm sorry. I digress, I apologize.
BASH: Right. But --
BLITZER: You know what, I want to -- I want go to Jim Acosta, our senior White House correspondent, he's getting some new information.
You're hearing, Jim, what they might be talking about when they drive over from the White House up to Capitol Hill?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, it has been very cordial between President Obama and soon to be president Trump. When we saw them arrive at the White House earlier this morning, the president of the United States was all smiles, as Donald Trump walked up the steps into the White House. They're going to be taking this ride into history shortly. I'm told by one official that this is not a new beast. There have been a lot questions, are they riding in a new beast today, the presidential limousine? No, that's not the case.
And I'm also told that despite the fact that Donald Trump once questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama, the relations between these two leaders over the course of this transition have been remarkably positive. I'm told by officials in both camps that these two leaders have been speaking to each other during this transition more than we know, having more conversations over the phone than the public knows about.
Obama aides do caution, though, that, you know, the president is not gushing with praise for Donald Trump. He wanted to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition of power. And he is very, very concerned, Wolf, let's make no mistake, about the road ahead for the country. But at the same time, these two men have gotten along very, very well during this transition process. It says a lot about what's coming up next for this country.
And we should point out, though, Wolf, just a few moments ago, earlier this morning, the White House put out one of its last tweets under President Obama. It is quite striking what this image shows, it shows President Obama and Congressman John Lewis holding hands in Selma during that historic visit that the president took to Alabama to celebrate the civil rights achievements carried out by John Lewis and others.
And it's notable, Wolf, that this tweet was issued by the White House the very day that Barack Obama's handing over the Oval Office to Donald Trump, just days after Donald Trump got into that very nasty back and forth with the congressman, the congressman referring to Donald Trump as not legitimate, and Donald Trump saying that John Lewis was all talk and no action.
So a show of support there from the president of the United States. He's not boycotting this inauguration, Wolf, but he does appear to be showing some support for the congressman and the other members of Congress on the Democratic side who are sitting this out.
One final thing, Wolf, that I want to point out. That letter that President Obama left in the Oval Office for Donald Trump, aides to President Obama are not saying what is in that letter. That is the custom over here. That was also the case when George W. Bush left the White House and left a letter for President Obama, that is to ensure that these two leaders do have private conversations from time to time. After all, presidents should be able to do that over the course of history, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta, our senior White House correspondent. Jim, thank you very much.
So, Jake, they're running about 15 minutes behind the schedule. But once again, there is some padding. And it won't take very long for them to get into that motorcade and drive up Pennsylvania Avenue, what, maybe five minutes, 10 minutes top.
TAPPER: I'm pretty sure they're going to run into traffic.
BLITZER: There will be no traffic.
BASH: We know they won't run into traffic.
BLITZER: We've been driving around this morning trying to get here, security pretty intense throughout the nation's capitol.
TAPPER: Yes. Every four years it gets more intense than it was the year before. The Secret Service taking it very seriously.
[10:45:03] BLITZER: Right. Jimmy Carter -- former president Jimmy Carter walking in among all the presidents who will be here.
TAPPER: Rosslyn Carter.
BLITZER: Rosslyn and Jimmy Carter, they are here. The only living president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, unfortunately both of them have been sick. They've been in the hospital. We're wishing a speedy recovery. There's Jimmy Carter and Rosslyn Carter.
BASH: And they just announced the Supreme Court justices as you see them. Coming on to the platform.
TAPPER: Here is chief justice of the United States, John Roberts.
BLITZER: He will have the important responsibility of swearing in the 45th president of the United States.
BASH: The first one didn't go too well.
TAPPER: We all remember eight years ago when he did it with President Obama and he had to come back -- there's Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito. We all remember eight years ago when he stumbled a little bit. Sonia Sotomayor. There's Clarence Thomas, who will be swearing in Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the court.
BLITZER: Eight justice. But as we pointed out, the president-elect says he will be nominating someone very, very soon, maybe, John, in the coming days.
TAPPER: He promises to get off to a quick start. His adviser Kellyanne Conway who we saw earlier in her festive red, white, and blue jacket, on her 50th birthday, happens to the inauguration of the new boss, says he will issue some executive orders this afternoon. They said they want to get off to a quick start. And in the next week or two we do expect Donald Trump to send up his name for the Supreme Court pics. So part of the official work as we see all the VIPs in tonight.
Fascinating today, though, all of us have covered the White House and as we wait for the president of the United States and the president- elect to come out of the White House, to me one of the most fascinating traits for Donald Trump, you know, a man of considerable wealth, New Yorkers think New York is the capital of the world, I say that with no disrespect, but as he comes to Washington just the -- you know, when the marines is outside the West Wing, that -- it means the president is in the Oval Office. The transition from Donald Trump into that building for me is one of the more fascinating questions, how he moves --
BLITZER: This is Joe Biden, the vice president and the vice president-elect, they've been meeting with their families, so they'll be driving together to Capitol Hill. Presumably we'll see Joe Biden and Mike Pence walking out momentarily. And they will then be followed by first ladies, incoming and outgoing, as well as the president and the next president of the United States. They'll be driving up in that motorcade.
And you know, it's interesting. Vice President-elect Pence and Vice President Biden both have similar jobs to do. Remember, Barack Obama had been in the Senate but only for four years. And Joe Biden really was an emissary to Capitol Hill for him. And there are the other first ladies.
BLITZER: Here come the first ladies, the incoming and the outgoing first ladies. Let's listen in.
I think Mike Pence and Joe Biden will be walking out next. It's interesting that the incoming and outgoing vice presidents will be in one limousine taking them over, and the first ladies in a separate limousine, and the president and the next president will be in another. There's a long motorcade.
Here come the Vice President Biden and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. We'll listen in.
Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, not much longer. I think he's already given up that position. But he spent 10 years in Congress so he knows the Congress. Now the president will be walking out with the president-elect. They will be getting into the limousine. And then finally that motorcade will take off for Capitol Hill. BASH: And you know, Mike Pence was -- he told me he was the only
Republican governor to come to President Obama's second inaugural. So he was here. And so he -- I'm not sure he spent time with the president then, but he certainly has at least symbolically been supportive --
[10:50:05] BLITZER: Here they come. Let's watch.
What a remarkable split screen moment that we just saw. The president and the next president getting into that limousine to head up to Capitol Hill. And there on the right part of the screen you see the former president and Hillary Clinton walking in. They'll be observing this inaugural.
TAPPER: And it must be very difficult right now for Hillary Clinton to be here. Obviously having worked so hard to be here under completely different circumstances.
BASH: And I have to say, that moment, it gave me the chills, not for any reason other than it's just a reminder of how nobody ever knows what their fate is going to be. To just literally see Donald Trump walk out the door with president Obama, get into his car to go to his inauguration, and Hillary Clinton walking with her husband who was president, knowing she will never be at the very same time, wow.
KING: The two men who denied her the presidency in one car. The current president of the United States who beat her in the 2008 primaries and Donald Trump who beat her in this general election. A remarkable, remarkable day.
BLITZER: Yes. I can only imagine what must be going through her mind right now, two months after this presidential election. She got more votes, popular votes, but you know what counts is the electoral college. That's why Donald Trump is sitting with President Obama in that limousine right now, driving up to Capitol Hill. And she's standing there with her husband waiting to be an observer.
KING: One of my great inauguration day memories is when Bill Clinton left office, he invited four of us who had covered him back in their early days to go with him on the flight out of Washington, although war stories. It was a great remarkable thing. They call that executive one.
TAPPER: They're going to introduce the former president and first lady Bill and Hillary Clinton. Let's listen.
All right. We'll bring you for the formal announcements, introductions of the former presidents who are here together with the former first ladies who are here as well.
The left part of your screen, you see the presidential motorcade taking the president and the incoming president, the first ladies, the vice president, the incoming vice president, their wives as well. They're all driving up. This is going to be the parade route later in the afternoon, they're driving up Pennsylvania Avenue towards Capitol Hill, a short drive. There won't be any traffic. All of these streets around the capitol have been totally cleared. No traffic at all. People will be standing. Let's listen into the introductions.
ANNOUNCER: The Color Guard presents our national colors.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and Mrs. Rosslyn Carter.
[10:57:05] BLITZER: All right. On the left part of your screen you see the motorcade taking the president and the next president and the vice president and the next vice president up to Capitol Hill for the inaugural for the swearing-in ceremonies. You see the VIPs already have gathered, a huge crowd up here on Capitol Hill, getting ready for the start, the formal start of this inauguration.
Jake, it's not going to take a long time. It's a relatively brief service. We will hear the inaugural address, we anticipate that will be about 20 minutes by Donald Trump.
TAPPER: That's right. We're told that Donald Trump took some inspiration from John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech in writing his own. He's been pretty close-lipped as to what's in it. But we look forward to what we're told will be a relatively short speech. It would be great to be a fly in the wall in that limo where President Obama and incoming President Trump are right now.
Two men so different in so many ways and yet both of them represented to voters change and both of them spoke to voters.
ANNOUNCER: William Jefferson Clinton and the Honorable --
BLITZER: Let's listen in.
TAPPER: There's Bill Clinton.
So there you have the former president and Hillary Clinton, they are there joining the former President Jimmy Carter and Rosslyn Carter. They are there. We saw former vice president Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, they are there as well. Jeb Bush will be -- I don't think Jeb Bush is there, but George W. Bush is definitely there, and Laura Bush as well.
BASH: Can I just say one comment --
TAPPER: And the Hillary Clinton Twitter account just said -- gave an explanation of why she's here. It said, "I am here today to honor our democracy and its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country and its future."
BASH: And Hillary Clinton is wearing white today. Now it's a color that she likes.