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The Inauguration of Donald Trump. Aired 5-5:30a ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, this is where that historic moment will happen, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where Donald Trump will be sworn into office. And as he takes the oath today, he'll be using two bibles, one, a bible that was President Lincoln, also used by President Obama in 2009 when he was sworn in, and also a bible that's more personal in nature, his childhood bible that was given to him when he was only 9 years old by his mother.
[05:00:10] Afterwards, he will be giving, of course the most important address of his political life. His inaugural speech. One, we are told he has largely written by himself. Aides say it will not be an agenda, more a philosophical speech, outlining his vision for what being an America is. Aides describe it as a personal speech, sincere speech.
And we saw some hints of the tone that he could be bringing today at the kickoff of the festivities last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to unify our country and our phrase, you all know it, half of you are wearing the hat, make America great again.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
But we're going to make America great for all of our people, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And this morning, Donald Trump will wake up at the Blair House across the street from the White House where he spent the night. He'll then go with his family to St. John's across the street from the White House. And then over for tea with the Obamas before coming here to the U.S. Capitol. The big kickoff of the pageantry in the tradition of this day John and Christine.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is an amazing thing to witness and a wonderful thing that we get to see it every four years.
Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the end of the Obama era now just hours away. The outgoing president and his successor Donald Trump scheduled to meet this morning over tea at the White House. CNN's Athena Jones live in Washington with those details.
It will be a very busy morning.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very, very busy.
Good morning, Christine.
And this is what we have been talking about. Today is what it's all about. The peaceful transfer of power the hallmark of our democracy. It's something you hear a lot from our President Obama.
Here is how his last day or last half day I should say is shaping up. It will start with him welcoming him, he and the first lady welcoming the Trumps to the White House, the Pences, for tea. Then the Trumps and Obamas will head over to the inauguration ceremony together. That is a tradition that dates back to 1837 with Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson.
After the inauguration ceremony, there will be a farewell event at Joint Base Andrews. Then the Obamas jet off to Palm Springs for that long awaited and much discussed vacation. Now, in his farewell letter to the American people, the president called on American, regardless of party to throw themselves into the work of citizenship.
And he said, "When the arc of progress seems slow, remember America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'we.' 'We the people.' 'We shall overcome.' 'Yes, we can.'"
I should mention the president did do as promised, working up to the last minute, running through the tape as he has been putting it. Yesterday, he commuted the sentences of 330 people, most of them non- violent drug offenders. It was the most commutations ever in a single day.
So, some last minute acts for the outgoing president -- John, Christine.
ROMANS: All right, Athena. Thank you so much for that, for setting the stage for us of what will happen behind us today.
Let's bring in our panel, this morning. Political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments, CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott, CNN contributor Salena Zito, reporter for the "Washington Examiner" and "New York Post" columnist and CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali, former director of the Nixon Presidential Library.
Tim, let me start with, the historian of the group. Look, this is a heavy important day. No matter what happened before, only America does it like this. At that very moment when he becomes the president of the United States, he will assume control of the American military. He will get the nuclear codes. It is to quote Joe Biden, a big deal.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's a big day. It's a national civics lesson day. You know, we are more than our presidents, but our presidents matter a lot. And when you think of those moments that define presidencies, it's always the inauguration is one of a handful.
So, today, we get to see Donald Trump define himself as president. We also get to see the America that he wants to create or help shape. His words matter today in a way they've never mattered before for him. He's going to be speaking in more than 140 characters and not only America, but the world is listening.
A lot happens today. This is going to influence at least the next four years of our life.
BERMAN: And, of course, candidate Donald J. Trump was known for speaking off the cuff, known for improvisation. Today, Salena, you know, it's a largely scripted day and for reason too. We like to see the incoming president walk across the street to have tea with the outgoing president if fact that they ride up to the capital together. That's important for us to see them together.
SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
BERMAN: And then, to look up behind us right now. And look, it is really the rings of power sitting around them and those closest to the podium with the most power and those furthest away, you know, it goes out.
[05:05:05] Now, each little thing matters a lot I think to all of us.
ZITO: Well, in every aspect of our lives, we love -- Americans love traditions. We love all sort of traditions, family tradition sporting traditions. But our government traditions, the act of governing our country is very important to us so each one retaining them, and maybe every president does one little nuance that is new, I think John F. Kennedy was the first to do, to have the poet speak, if I may be correct.
So, you know, not every president has done that, but you know, I'm sure that Trump will bring one nuance to the day, but I think that he'll respect everything that we have done in previous -- with previous inaugurations.
ROMANS: Greg, you think that he starts work right away or he needs to start right away on these promises that he made to the people in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, who voted for him.
GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST: These voters in Pennsylvania, they want to see action immediately. And I think, I fully agree, a very profound experience at 12:00 noon, you have to get goose bumps.
But I think by late afternoon, early evening, he will be killing regulations, acting on trade, maybe pulling us out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is hated in the Rust Belt, maybe acting on illegal immigration. I think he'll do several things between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00. BERMAN: And, Eugene Scott, the way it all happens today, we're
talking about the pageantry again, Clarence Thomas will swear in, the vice president, Mike Pence. He will be using Ronald Reagan's bible -- a bible that Ronald Reagan used to swear in as governor of California. This will be the first time someone other than Ronald Reagan has used it. And then, Chief Justice Roberts Swears in Donald Trump to be president of the United States on two bibles.
Tell us about that.
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, no, there is so much symbolism. I mean, with the Clarence Thomas piece, will be the first black American to swear in a president or a vice president. We're going to have Donald Trump swearing in on a bible he got from his mother in 1955 when he completed Sunday school at a Presbyterian Church in Queens.
These elections tell you about the president's value, we know President Obama during his second inauguration was sworn in on a bible that belonged to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But I think what we are hoping for and what we're going to see in this country moving forward can be symbolized in what both Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump have chosen to be sworn in on Lincoln's bibles.
ROMANS: The symbolism of -- it just gives me goose bumps. You know, yesterday, when we saw the family come off the plane at Andrews, there was just so much attention on the tableau of this family, you know? I mean, there is a real fascination, Selena, with the Trump family.
When you have the laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown, the littlest grandkids were there. It was the kids who are kind of old enough I think to maybe understand the importance of that moment. But already, the eyes of the world are on this entire family.
ZITO: It was a very sombering moment to see them stand at Arlington, and you could tell that they were struck by the enormity of the moment. You know, at Arlington, you are there with you're faced with all of the treasures that presidents have lost before you.
And I think you saw the look on his face and his family's face. I think it really sunk in at that moment. Look, I am responsible for a lot of things, including the lives of the --
ROMANS: Today at noon.
BERMAN: You know, it's interesting. You know, we have that count up clock up on the screen counting down to when our coverage begins to the actual inauguration ceremony and there's going to be a count down clock I'm sure to 12:00 noon when he becomes president of the United States.
But then it's on. Then he is president. It is day one. Andy Card, who was chief of staff to George W. Bush, he was reflecting
what it exactly means. What it means the moment you go from president-elect, a year-and-a-half of being candidate to actual president. There is a big difference.
Listen to what Andy Card said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY CARD, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Truth is, one minute after 12:00 when the president takes the oath of office, he is the president. So there is no transition. You don't say, "Oh, good, I'll get a good night's sleep and then I'll meet the responsibilities." The chief of staff's job is to understand that and to make sure that there is an infrastructure in place on minute one to help the president with some of the impossible challenges he might have, especially with regard to national security policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You know, every incoming president knows it's coming, Tim, every incoming president tries to get ready and everyone who takes the office admits that they weren't completely ready.
NAFTALI: Well, look, actually there is no way to be president without being president. The vice president is not in the chain of command. The vice president -- it's not a deputy position.
So, until you take the oath of office, until noon, you've never had experience as president.
[05:10:03] The first thing he's going to, is he's going to make sure his cabinet is paved. And he'll probably have a secretary of state by then, a secretary of defense, by then, General Mattis.
The next thing he's going to do, we'll see. He's probably going to try to lay some markers down, to say, I work fast. Unlike people in Washington, I work fast. I work all the time as a CEO.
There are certain things, though, he has to follow. There are certain traditions. A lot of the government is going to be the permanent government. He hasn't had a chance to pick the assistant secretary, the under secretaries yet. So, a lot of Washington is going to be managed for the next little while by people he didn't put in place. It's going to take a while for the Trump team to come together.
But I think the rhetoric is going to change from the start. I think he will know from the beginning, this is the beginning of the Trump presidency. All presidents do it that way. That's an American tradition.
Starting at noon, it's a new person, it's a new presidency. It's the same America. But it has a new face and perhaps a new tone.
ROMANS: It's so amazing to see the former presidents right there. Also, what is that feeling of the person who is walking away and will get on the helicopter and will leave here, we'll do a last little look and then leave. You know, you just wonder at the kind of emotions there in that room.
BERMAN: Let's get to the bar as quickly as possible. I think that's what it must feel like.
Selena, you know, among the people who will be sitting there, not just former president, former first ladies as well, Hillary Clinton will be there?
BERMAN: There are more than 50 members of Congress not going, Hillary Clinton is. Which I think says something.
ZITO: Right. I think that was very important that she did that. It's important for the country. It was very graceful of her to attend this. It was a tough race. It was a tough campaign.
But at the end of the day, this is all about the country. And she knew that, she understood that. Her husband was in the White House. She faced her own tough times when she was in the White House.
So, I think it was a great decision on the family's part to be there.
VALLIERE: I agree.
BERMAN: Even if it can't be easy?
ZITO: No, it definitely can't be easy.
BERMAN: You know the cameras been on her face, how she is reacting.
ROMANS: Oh my goodness, yes.
BERMAN: How she is reacting.
All right, guys. Stick around. What should the number one priority be for President Trump after he takes office? Health care, ISIS, immigration, the economy? Maybe something else.
You can tweet us one word using #NewDayCNN. We will display the results this morning.
ROMANS: All right. The Trump transition team hoping at least seven of their cabinet nominees are confirmed today. Only two look like a sure thing.
Up next, which Trump picks will be challenged by Democrats. But, first, a look back at the inauguration of our 40th president, Ronald Reagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem. (END VIDEO CLIP)
[05:16:06] BERMAN: People from across the country are making their way to Washington, hoping to get a good spot for the inauguration festivities. So many waking up way, way early. Some even driving across the country to see history in person.
CNN's Brian Todd is at a security checkpoint just outside the National Mall.
Good morning, Brian. What are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. We see a lot of enthusiasm and energy here. You know, we've seen it a lot over the past year at primaries, at rallies, at campaign stops, the energy on the street is really what has driven the election.
That has translated this morning here in Washington as people are gathering. I'm going to show you a couple people who are really dedicated. Come one over here, guys.
This is Ryley Canda, 17-years-old, and his mom, Keri Canda.
OK, you guys, you drove four days from Seattle. What drew you here?
RYLEY CANDA, DROVE FROM SEATTLE FOR INAUGURATION: Well, I just turned 17. This is the first election I paid attention to. So, it's cool to kind of experience everything and just see what it's all about.
TODD: All right. Keri, you came a long way, your first inauguration, too. What do you want to hear from the president when he speaks?
KERI CANDA, DROVE FROM SEATTLE FOR INAUGURATION: Well, I think I heard it last night when he said we the forgotten people are no longer forgotten. That really spoke to me. So, I'm here and I want to hear that message.
TODD: How excited are you guys? It will rain later, maybe not much, but it will be raining probably during the ceremony.
R. CANDA: We're used to the rain, we love it.
TODD: Have a great time today, guys. Thanks for coming.
We will take you guys up here.
Now, on the weather the rain is supposed to start in a couple of hours, it will be heaviest around the time that President Trump is taking his oath of office, but not too heavy all day. So it's an endurable rain for most of the people here.
Let's walk up here, our photojournalist John Benn (ph) and I will show you, these folks, they're ready. Hey, guys, just a lot of energy here. People are starting to gather. You are a little less than seven hours away from the oath of office. Look at this a lot of enthusiastic people here gathering for this.
They're at the security checkpoint in line. They have not started letting people through just yet. But they will be shortly.
And if you check it out up here, this is one of the security precautions they are taking. This is a result of the Nice and Berlin attacks. Trucks along these roads, blocking roads, blocking access for vehicles. You got two-and-a-half miles of streets in this city closed off. But again not stopping people from really coming out here and taking in there scenes here.
This is really what's fun about covering this, because you got people like this coming from all over the place. I talked to people here from Texas, from New York, New Jersey who have come and lined up here at O dark 30 to try to get in here.
And they're loving it. This is what it's all about. They really want to take in the atmosphere here. They're enthusiastic about getting through checkpoint and getting as close as they can to the festivities -- John and Christine.
BERMAN: Brian, what are they allowed to bring? What are they allowed to bring with them when they go through security?
I know there have been issues with umbrellas. Initially, they weren't going to be allowed now. Now, I believe in most places, they will be, which is welcomed because it will be able to rain.
What about coolers, refreshments, things like that?
TODD: You can't bring that stuff in. It's too much for security to check. They're lot letting backpacks in. They're not letting backs in. They're not letting selfie sticks in or long umbrellas.
But you're right, John, they have modified the rules for umbrellas, because we are expecting the rain to start lightly in a couple of hours. You can bring a collapsable small umbrella. That's a nod to Mother Nature. And people are allowed to do that.
So, hopefully, you know, that will be enough for people. It won't take them too long to get through these checkpoints with that.
BERMAN: It is no small thing. I am sure very, very welcome.
Brian Todd, thanks so much for being with us.
Really, the world does come together, the country comes together physically on the National Mall to be a part of this event. And we'll look at over it with thousands of thousands of people there.
And in just a few hours, you know, the newly sworn in President Donald Trump will give his inaugural address, which he says he wrote himself.
[05:20:08] What does he need to say?
Let's bring back our panel, Greg Valliere, Eugene Scott, Salena Zito, and Tim Naftali.
And, Salena, again the message we heard from candidate Trump really carried through this transition. Up until last night when he was still speaking in campaign-like terms.
BERMAN: If you are going to change and focus on something more than the campaign, this is the time, this is the place to do it.
ZITO: This is his moment. This is the moment to put the campaign rhetoric behind. To put behind you that you beat someone. None of that needs to be at this inauguration.
Today is the day you bring the country together, that you are the president of everyone, that you remind people that I understand you didn't support me. I understand that maybe you didn't like what I had to say. But here's our moment to come together. Here's where I want to take you. And I want to take you on that journey together.
And he can't say that enough. Those sort of tangible benefits are the kind of things that can start to bring people together.
ROMANS: We are told it will be maybe 20 minutes. Who knows? From the guidance, we are told it's about making America great again. I'm sure we're going to hear something about that, Eugene, and about putting America first. That is sort of the umbrella that he's operating under.
SCOTT: That is certainly something many people are paying attention to, a lot of the issues that got attention during this campaign had to relate to international affairs, related to trade and immigration and terrorism. And so when he talks about putting America first, you know, we have this global audience here at CNN, many people abroad will be watching to see what does that mean for them and how will that impact people beyond our borders?
VALLIERE: I just say, he will be majestic. He will try to bring us together, but he's a guy from Queens and he ran as a populist. I do think there's going to be at least two or three Queens sound bytes from Donald Trump because that's who he is.
BERMAN: Can I play you something that maybe it wasn't a majestic sound byte last night. But it captures sort of Donald Trump, it captures the moment and also captures the issue of weather, because we are expecting rain today. Last night, Donald Trump was talking about the possibility it might rain. You really see his personality shine through here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Tomorrow, we have a speech, probably around 12:00. It may rain, it may not rain. I don't care. It doesn't matter. For me the truth is, if it really pours, that's OK, because people will realize it's my real hair and that's OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That's the guy hosting "Saturday Night Live." You know, I think he knows how to deliver a joke at times.
But, Greg, beyond the rain and beyond the majesty, there is the business of governing, which begins for him today at noon. Let's talk about priorities. What do you think the priorities will be? I'm not talking about in the first days, on our weeks of this administration. I'm talking about the first minutes and hours.
VALLIERE: And as Tim said, he owns this stuff. As of 12:01, he owns the economy. He owns health care.
Isn't it ironic, eight years ago, the Obama administration got bogged down early by health care? Could we see a repeat? Because I don't think the Republicans have a plan ready to replace Obamacare with. So, I think he has to focus, as Obama didn't, on jobs, on tax reform, getting the economy stronger.
ROMANS: Let me talk a little bit about the optics of the outgoing president and the incoming president. You know, this happened every time there was a transition of power. It's unique. We all see it. We are all witnesses to it.
There were these letters that were released. A letter from Clinton to Bush and a letter from Bush to Obama, where they each give advice to the person who is coming in and is going to be sitting in that seat. I want to quote from one of these letters. This is from George W. Bush.
He said, "There will be trying moment, your critics will rage. Your friends will disappoint you. But you will have an Almighty God to come for you, a family who loves you and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead. God bless you."
And then there is another letter from Bill Clinton to him, to George Bush, that he got, "You are especially fortunate to lead our country at a time of profound and largely positive change."
What is so interesting to me about reading these letters is how different today is than it was eight years ago when President Barack Obama was coming into office and the different tone of the country, when you talk about a divide country or whatever. But in terms of, we really thought the world was ending eight years ago. Remember in the depths of that financial crisis?
Tim, when you look at this moment in time for Donald Trump, what strikes you how different each of these transitions has been?
NAFTALI: Well, it is going to be very interesting to see how he describes America in his inaugural address. Because in the summer in Cleveland, the America he describes sounded just as bad as America was during the Great Depression of 2008.
[05:25:02] NAFTALI: When Barack Obama came into power, he had just as Franklin Roosevelt had to do, judge two generations before. He had to calm us down. He had to restore our confidence in institutions. He had to calm the world's confidence in him and in institutions.
Today, Donald Trump has to show the world that he's prepared to be an international statesman. He has to also show Americans who are not a part of his populist movement that they are going to be in his governing coalition, that he is their president, too. That's a tall order and it will be very interesting to see how he does it today.
BERMAN: You know, it's so interesting in those letters, too, if you look eight years ago, it's easy to forget how bad things were. You are looking at 16 years ago when Bill Clinton was turning over to George W. Bush, Bill Clinton's letter was noting how good things were. You know, Bill Clinton wrote to George W. Bush, "You are especially fortunate to lead our country in a time of profound and largely positive change."
And, Salena, that was written on January 20th, 2001. Of course, it was nine months later on September 11th, 2001, when everything changed.
So, no matter what the priorities are, no matter what the agenda is, there is the unpredictable.
ZITO: There is absolutely unpredictable. I would argue that the populist movement that we saw this year has its inkling and its beginning at 9/11. That's when we all started to feel unrest in a very small incremental way and in the way that our politics works, it built up over years. You saw the evidence in the wave election cycles that we had.
So, things can change dramatically, quickly, or it takes -- there is a slow ease. But, you know, this is his moment to make his mark, to set the -- throw flacks down, say this is where we are. This is who we want to be and I'm going to take you there.
NAFTALI: One thing, this is when the world slows down, today world slows down. Then he loses control.
NAFTALI: This is his moment. He wants to set a tone, do it now.
ROMANS: You're absolutely right, if you can't predict the future. So, you look at each of these transitions, each of these letters. Those men could never have known what the future holds. You are electing a leader who you trust to guide the company through what will be uncertainty. No question. BERMAN: Greg Valliere, priority, again, we are talking about health
care. Here's the battle against ISIS. We may get an executive order today. I'm not sure what the parameters of that would be. And then, of course, there's trade.
We have been talking with our reporters around the world, there are countries and there are leaders watching today, watching this speech and the hours after this speech, very, very closely to see what signals it send.
VALLIERE: I spent yesterday talking to very, very bright people. Very smart investors. They're excited about his tax reform. They think the economy will be pretty good. The labor market is healing. They really worry about trade protectionism.
If he starts right out of the chute tonight in getting tough on trade, provoking people, that's something the markets are going to worry about.
BERMAN: You don't worry about the Goldman Sachs alums -- I mean, there are those that believe it belongs in the inner circle will tamp down the anti-trade worry.
VALLIERE: Yes, but, you know, this is sort of like the Lincoln's cabinet, a team of rivals. Lincoln at all has conflicting views. No, I do think he is a protectionist. He has to respect those voters in Pennsylvania who put him in office.
ROMANS: All right. Guys, everyone sit there. Lots to talk about this morning, because the crowd are already building. They are already gathering in the nation's capitol behind me. They are ready to witness history, keeping everyone safe will be a monumental challenge.
We can take a closer look at the extraordinary security for the inauguration ahead.
But, first, George H.W. Bush's America, his swearing in, 28 years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE. H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I do not fear what is ahead, or our problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are great, but our will is greater.
(END VIDEO CLIP)