Return to Transcripts main page
Coverage of Trump Inauguration; Interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMEROTA: -- is NEW DAY, and what a day it is. It is Friday, January 20, 5 a.m. here in Washington. No, it's not.
It's already 7 a.m. in Washington.
CUOMO: It was 5 a.m. when we were supposed to be on, and we were at a security checkpoint for an hour and a half.
CAMEROTA: It's inauguration day in America, and we are just hours away from Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, capping his improbable and incredible journey to the White House after, of course, an unprecedented campaign.
CUOMO: You know, the eyes of the world will be on the United States today and for good reason. This inauguration is the symbol of the freedom and the free exercise of democracy the world over. We'll have our 45th president. We'll have our 48th vice president here today. It's going to be a very big deal, filled with all the pomp and circumstance that the United States can muster.
But the big time will be 12 noon. That's when our Constitution, the 20th Amendment, says the new president takes over and executes the office. And what is he going to say? The president-elect, we're told, Donald Trump, has written his own speech. The need is clear. The unity. What is he going to say, and how will the gods of weather impact on this? Is it going to rain? We'll see.
We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, live on the steps of the Capitol -- Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is where the historic moment will happen here on the steps of the U.S. Capitol where, frankly, there has still been a flurry of last-minute preparations to the stage where Donald Trump will be taking the oath of office.
This is the program for the day here. The festivities, the official program. As you can see there, the presidential coat of arms emblazoned in gold at the top.
Now Donald Trump will be sworn in using two Bibles today. Not only President Lincoln's Bible -- that was also used by President Obama at his inauguration in 2009 -- but a more personal Bible, his childhood Bible, one that was given to him by his mom when he was only 9 years old. And then the big event, the most important political speech of his life. His inaugural address. Aides say that he has largely written that on his own, that it won't be agenda focused. It will be something more philosophical, more personal about what it means to be an American.
And kicking off the festivities here in Washington, D.C., last night, Trump already basking in the glow of the significance of this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a celebration of victory. My friends, we needed this victory. Three weeks before we won as you know, it was going to be the single greatest defeat in the history of politics. They predicted this would be the greatest loss in political history. Not even modern political history. They said in political history. And I'll tell you one thing...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: Where all of this will exactly go down this morning. If we can just turn the camera here, we're going to zoom in on the spot where Donald Trump will be delivering that all-important inaugural address. What we've seen this morning.
And what we're doing right now is testing the microphones. They've also been adjusting the height of the podium, making sure that each and everything is right.
We also saw them drill some in the last touches, the final touches: the presidential seal down below. These final details. Certainly, an important setting for Donald Trump's major speech.
Now before he comes here, he will be waking up this morning at the Blair House. He'll go to church with his family at St. John's. Then for tea with the Obamas over at the White House -- John [SIC].
CUOMO: All right, Sunlen. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Joining us now is Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
You know, we heard in one of the excerpts of what the president-elect was saying last night, still dwelling on the election, the bitterness of the election, how he wasn't supposed to win and yet he did. That is relevant for his mindset. The question then becomes you are the leader of the Democrats. Where is your mind in terms of helping this president get on his way?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Well, it's a good question. Look, when Donald Trump campaigned, he campaigned against both the Democratic and Republican establishments. Some of the things he talked about -- changing our trade laws, a big infrastructure bill, getting rid of the carrying interest loophole -- Democrats have always supported. Since he was elected, it seems they're moving in a much harder right
direction. Some of his cabinet nominees and Medicare as we know it, slash education, undue our environmental laws, are quite different than the way he campaigned.
So if he tries to move back to the old way we are -- we will work with him on things he believes in. But when he goes against us and against our values and against many of the things he said in his campaign, we'll fight him tooth and nail.
The classic right now, of course, repeal Obamacare. They don't know what to do. And many of his Republican colleagues now are urging him to not repeal it but rather work to improve it. If he says he won't repeal, we'll work with him to improve it. If he says repeal, again, we'll fight it tooth and nail.
[07:05:07] CUOMO: Fight it tooth and nail, yes, but ultimately.
SCHUMER: He needs votes in the Senate. First, he may lose Republicans. He needs 51 to start it going, already one has defected. Two or three more are talking about defecting. He may not get that, but he'll need 60 votes on many of the parts...
SCHUMER: Because the Senate -- the way the Senate works, you need 60 for anything major legislatively that is not in what's so-called reconciliation.
So we have some tools to use, and we will use them. We won't oppose Trump just because his name is on something, but he -- but when he's against the values we believe in, many of the things he campaigned on we're going to -- we're going to fight.
CAMEROTA: So given all of that, give me an adjective for how you're feeling today.
SCHUMER: I am ready for the fight. I really am. I mean, it's a tremendous responsibility. This president ran an unconventional campaign, to say the least. He pleased many people but upset many more, probably, and they're looking to us to hold up that banner, and we will. Not just for its own sake. Not to, quote, "see him fail" but to hold to the values that so many Americans hold dear.
CUOMO: There won't be as many hands on the banner, though, today. The Democratic leadership is here. You're here. All the senators, I think, will be here, the Democratic senators. On the House side you have this faction that has broken off. They have different reasons, but over 60, House Democrats won't be here for some variety of negativity toward the incoming president. Do you respect their decision?
SCHUMER: I do. I don't agree with it. I'm obviously here, but I certainly respect it.
This has been a nasty and vitriolic campaign. Many people were treated very, very poorly, way beyond the bounds of a usual campaign. And if they are going to express it that way, that's their right. I told the senators it's an individual conscious decision. Every senator is attending but I don't begrudge those that made a different decision.
CAMEROTA: And yet, look at -- look at President Obama's tone and his actions. I mean, it's hard to imagine there being more water under the bridge between two men than Donald Trump and Barack Obama. And yet, it seems that President Obama is taking the high road. And today they will be -- literally and figuratively, these two men will be taking the road together in their shared ride.
SCHUMER: Look, we always respect in America the peaceful transition of power. It is an amazing thing, when you think about it. Even in an election as heated as this, there are no tanks in the street. There are not people saying, you know, we're going to form a new government, maybe in Los Angeles or somewhere. It is an amazing thing.
And America has so many strengths, and I know there are people now worried about the future. I'll be speaking about this. I'm addressing, as vice chair of the inauguration, I get to say a few words.
And I have faith in the American people and in America. In our difficult times, the American people -- practical, problem solving, fundamentally non-ideological -- are always our anchor, and they straighten us out. Right now, as you can see, some of the things Trump is doing, his cabinet, least popular transition president there is. His numbers are lower than any other transition president.
So he has his supporters. They're all here. God bless them. They're entitled to celebrate. But most of America is not happy with what he's doing.
CUOMO: All right. Let's -- as Alisyn says, you have two things to unpack. You have how you quiet or how you deal with the angry portions of your own party. And then you have what you're doing with the confirmation process.
The first one is the peaceful transition of power. We keep hearing from your side of the political aisle, this is not a rightful transition of power. This isn't legitimate. Elijah Cummings yesterday said, "If you people knew what we know from our classified briefings," you'd understand why they're not going tomorrow. These are loaded implications.
What do you say to Democrats, whether they're elected or they're at home and they're watching and say, "He's not my president"?
SCHUMER: I understand your anguish. I understand your anger. But we will be there to defend you. We will be there to defend the values of America when candidate Trump and now President Trump deviates from them.
CAMEROTA: Cabinet picks: Do you predict that anyone will not be confirmed?
SCHUMER: It's too early to tell. This cabinet selection has been a disaster for the president. We call it the Swamp Cabinet. You know, billionaires and...
CUOMO: The royal "we."
SCHUMER: ... are calling it that. We Democrats call it that. Yes. Why? More -- more conflicts of interest than you have ever seen. People whose positions are fundamentally different than President- elect Trump's. Example: President-elect Trump said not going to cut Medicare in America or for Medicare. His nominee for the secretary of Health and Human Services made a career of trying to privatize, which means end Medicare as we know it.
So these cabinet nominees need thorough, thorough scrutiny. What have our Republican colleagues done? They've tried to rush them through. Short hearings, not rounds of questions, many of them stacked up. Some of them didn't have their papers. You know, you're required by law to file an ethics report and how are you going to get rid of your conflicts of interests?
Ms. Devos, controversial secretary of education, didn't file any papers. They put her on at 5 p.m. at night. Each senator only got five minutes of questions.
CUOMO: Smooth transition of power requires transition, as well. What votes will you put up today?
SCHUMER: There are some who are not controversial. We're not opposing for its own sake. I think General Mattis is a very good choice as defense secretary. We'll vote on him this afternoon. I think Mr. Kelly, General Kelly, is a great choice for homeland security. We'll put him up today.
And Pompeo for CIA, which is a little bit more controversial. Some of our members want to question him, but if he's not voted on today, he will be Monday. And these are the three top national security people that the country needs the most.
But to spend a few days on people as controversial as Price or Devos, or Puzder, who wants -- who's against SOAP and against the working man and woman, even though Trump campaigned for them, to take a few days in power, that's what we should do.
CAMEROTA: So what happens on Monday?
SCHUMER: Well, on Monday...
CAMEROTA: I mean, what are -- you say you're ready for the fight. What's -- what's your tack when you go in on Monday?
SCHUMER: On Monday, we will go through some of the nominees, you know, the less controversial ones. And we'll talk about them and ask questions. The ACA battle is coming forward. We'll see if the Republicans have
the votes in the second round to actually put in something that actually repeals and how they're going to repeal it. And the next few weeks, some of these cabinet nominees, not the noncontroversial ones but the very controversial ones, will be discussed very thoroughly on the floor of the Senate.
CUOMO: You say we will not be dilatory for no reason.
CUOMO: We don't want to delay for no reason. But that's exactly what the GOP says that Trump and Co. says you're doing: "This is sour grapes. These are successful business people. You know what? They have more complications."
SCHUMER: They could have avoided all this by filing the ethics reports, filing the FBI reports that every other nominee from every other administration has done. There are rules here. There's scrutiny here. That's what the Constitution says, advise and consent. They want us to just not pay any attention to these very controversial nominees. We're not doing that. That's not our constitutional duty, and that's not our duty to the American people.
CAMEROTA: Senator Chuck Schumer, thank you very much.
SCHUMER: Great to be here.
CAMEROTA: Great to have you on NEW DAY.
CUOMO: And our responsibility is to report on what happens in that fight every day. You're always welcome here to make the case for the Democrats.
SCHUMER: OK. I like your show and if you keep this view, how can I resist?
CAMEROTA: Good point.
CUOMO: Senator, thank you very much.
So President-elect Donald John Trump has a packed inauguration day scheduled. In just a few hours, he's going to have tea with the president, the outgoing president, President Obama. But he kicks off the day with services at the St. John's Episcopal Church just steps from the White House, and that's where we have CNN national correspondent Phil Mattingly.
Phil, the scene.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.
Just to kind of walk you through what's going to happen here in about 90 minutes, we're about right across Lafayette Park from the White House, about a block away and of course, cattycornered to the Blair House where the president-elect and his family were staying last night.
They will hop into a motorcade in about 90 minutes and head here, right behind me, St. John's Episcopal Church. Why does this matter? This is tradition. Ever since 1933 with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, every president but one held a worship service in advance of their inauguration. As you noted, before that coffee or tea with President Obama and Michelle Obama. President-elect Trump will be doing that here. This is a faith service, a private service for the Trumps and the Pence family. There are expected to be about 300 individuals here.
And guys, you can go down the list of the surprising and very intense evangelical support that the president got throughout the campaign. They will be here: Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, Mark Ferns. A lot of individuals that kind of took a different path that wasn't expected and were kind of the core of the evangelical support of the Trump campaign. They will be here. They will be present.
There will also a sermon by Pastor Robert Jefferson. And this matters, one, because he is a very large figure in the evangelical community, a mega church down in Dallas, Texas, but also he said many inflammatory things. So a bit of a surprise pick here. But as one Trump official informed me, this was a man who was very behind the president-elect. It matters deeply to the president-elect and his family. That's exactly why he'll be speaking today, guys.
CAMEROTA: OK. Phil, thank you very much.
There's so much to discuss on this historic day, so let's bring in our panel. We have CNN contributor, "Washington Examiner" reporter and "New York Post" columnist Salena Zito; CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN political analyst and presidential campaign correspondent for "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman; CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston. Great to have all of you on this historic day.
[07:15:09] It's hard, David, I mean, to -- to not feel the weight of how important this day is and how significant it is in our tradition. It dates back to George Washington; and you feel the pageantry everywhere here in D.C.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you do, and there's huge crowds who are part of the inaugural festivities, a celebration of constitutional democracy. We're in a really politically divided time in the country, and Senator Schumer speaks to that.
But we have to remember how many hundreds of thousands will be here who really embraced the message of making America great again, of shaking up the political system in the way that Donald Trump did it in such a disruptive fashion. That is being celebrated all around the country today, and it's also being protested all around the country, in ways large and small and will be over the weekend.
But I think it's interesting to put into perspective the celebratory nature of what we're able to do as Americans and how we transfer power. You know, Preston and I were talking a little bit earlier today. In 1861 -- Trump will use the Lincoln Bible. This was the year of the Civil War.
As divided as we are politically in this country and about the role of government and social fabric of the country, we are not debating issues that will fundamentally tear this country apart literally. We've come a long way in that regard.
And I think that's part of what the peaceful transfer of power reminds us of, about how strong the country is, even when we seem so divided.
CUOMO: And yet, Maggie, when he takes the podium today as president of the United States, there's all this speculation about what the weight of the actual office will do. We've been told that the office changes the man. We have seen no change in Trump since this transition has begun.
But how much of this, this tone, this division, perceived or real, is on him in this moments and the moments that immediately follow?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a mistake to say that divisions were created solely by Donald Trump. That has been a theme, certainly, among Democrats and some of his Republican critics over many months. I don't think that is the case.
I do think that he has not used the transition period to try to bring people together the way he could have. Part of that is we have seen over the last week he cannot stop reliving this greatest hits record of how he won the campaign; and I've never seen anything like this. I don't think anyone here has. He has been talking about it literally in every single speech.
He gave a toast honoring Mike Pence at a dinner for Mike Pence the other night. He was not initially supposed to be there. He insisted on going, and instead it was almost a roast of the room and a reminder repeatedly of Mike Pence that he had not supported him.
He has -- in that speech he thanked black voters who voted for him and then thanked black voters that stayed home and said there was no reason to vote.
So I think it's going to be important to see what the tone is in this speech. What I think we need to remember is that what Donald Trump says at any given moment -- and I'm afraid I don't think that we can say the inaugural address is going to be necessarily different -- does not necessarily reflect on what he does, so we need to wait and see.
CAMEROTA: Salena, what are you listening for in his inaugural address today?
SALENA ZITO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm listening for -- I mean, they're saying that the theme is going to be America first, but I think what's more important for him to convey is bringing people together.
I think yesterday we saw some hints that -- that the enormity of what he was going to do was impacting him. He went to Arlington. You could tell that that was an incredibly moving thing. And I think that any time a president goes there or a president-elect goes there for the first time, they are reminded that the national treasure is laying there; and it is because of the men who have proceeded them.
CAMEROTA: His demeanor looked different. Yesterday. At times.
ZITO: It looked completely different. But he also was joyful last night. If you saw the ceremony last night at the Lincoln Memorial, it was -- he was singing. It was -- he was swaying with the music. He gave -- unifying, small, small speech.
And I found people there at that event that did not support him. But they came, because they believe that it was important to celebrate the moment. This one guy said, "This is like opening day for me. You know, this has all those traditions and all those sort of Americanisms that are important to me with the inauguration of the next president."
GREGORY: Those core supporters are going to be disappointed as Donald Trump comes in with record levels of disapproval and unpopularity. I mean, even President George W. Bush after the Supreme Court decided the election in 2000 had a higher approval rating.
And I think, to Maggie's point, that's because of how the president- elect has decided to conduct himself in this transition period.
So nobody is expecting him to fall into kind of regular order as far as presidents go, but even his disruptive nature, he's got to find a way to build some support and bring along the opposition.
[07:20:09] CUOMO: Mark, to get you in here, a quick word. Every president that I've covered has said, "The office overcame me." It's bigger than just being a man.
Do you think that happens?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I think we hope it happens. I mean, the bottom line, the simple answer is that, when he walks into the White House after the parade, does he stop? Does he take a deep breath and realize that he's no longer on the campaign trail? That, in fact, he is the leader of the free world.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much.
What should be President-elect Trump's No. 1 priority as he takes office? You can tweet us. One word using the hashtag "#newdayCNN." We'll share the results later in the show.
CUOMO: All right. Donald John Trump is going to take the oath of office in a few hours. The forecast, not so great. It could be rain on this historic moment. Reagan is the only president to have had an inaugural parade cancelled because of weather. Andrew Jackson had one cancelled for another reason some 100 years before. But what will that mean for spectators and guests if it's wet today? Chad Myers has the answer. Next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: It's a big day, no matter your party, no matter your position. Thousands of Americans are making their way to Washington, D.C., hoping to get a good spot for the inauguration of the president, many of them waking up early, trying to get through very, very tight security, some with better success than others.
CNN's Brian Todd is just outside the National Mall. Brian, Alisyn and I spent some quality bonding time outside a security checkpoint for some two hours with much of our staff. How is it now?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, it's just past daybreak, and already there's just so much raw energy on the streets here, and a lot of enthusiasm. And part of that is the passion for protests. This is one of those pop-up protests that we knew were going to happen today.
This is a group protesting in favor of refugee rights and in favor of minority rights here, an anti-Trump group. This is a spontaneous protest that popped up on this intersection. Photojournalist John Bennett (ph) and I are going to take you down. This way. Sorry, John. Come on down this way.
You know, again, part of the passion and energy of the protestors hasn't taken away from the enthusiasm of the people who just want to come here and take in the historic spectacle. Some of these people are right down here at this checkpoint. They were waiting here since, some of them since 2 and 3 a.m. in the morning. We talked to people from Texas, from New Hampshire, from North Carolina and South Carolina. One group came in driving in from Seattle and they had to wait in a checkpoint line like this one.
Now, some of the issues here have been maybe not enough staffing or equipment at some of these checkpoints. We've been to three checkpoints now, and they've had some of these problems. This one didn't have enough staffing, but again, they have started letting people in here. Hundreds of people waiting here since very, very early. Most of them, Chris, telling us that they're really just happy to be here, take in the spectacle of this inauguration.
Alisyn, back to you.
CAMEROTA: Brian, thank you very much for all of that.
As I speak there's a beautiful golden sunrise behind me over the Capitol. However, we hear that rain is headed here.
Let's get to CNN's Chad Myers. He has the forecast. What are you seeing, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I hate to do that "red sky in the morning thing." But I mean, there you go.
High cirrus clouds bouncing off the sunlight right now. Beautiful sunrise. But there's those clouds are bringing in. It's going to be rain right behind it. That's why the clouds are there. Rain coming into D.C. this afternoon, for sure, I think likely by 10 a.m. it will be raining.
There may be, and I don't have this nailed down yet. There's even a chance of a lightning strike or two. That would be the worst possible scenario here.
But there will be some heavier rain moving in. Rain showers into D.C. by 10, 11, 12, staying around 1, 2. And finally out by 3 or 4 a.m. later on this afternoon. So it does clear out, but it will take some time to do that.
So temperatures, how will they be? They will be in the 40s. Rain, yes. Mists, drizzle. It's not going to warm up very much; there won't be much sunshine. Forty-seven will be the new high temperature, with the chance of rain there 90 percent. It will rain on and off all day. You're just not going to see sunshine. You'll have that mist and drizzle kind of day, so just get ready for the umbrellas.
You know, we've talked about that earlier today. You can have them on the Mall. You can have them on the parade route. You can't have them if you have seats there at the inauguration. They'll take them away from you. But they have to be, even if you have them, they have to be the very, very small ones. Not the big long ones like the Joker carried.
CUOMO: All right, Chad. Red skies in the morn, sailors be warned, is what you're referring to.
CUOMO: Thank you for the report. Let us know if anything changes.
Let's talk about this historic day and what is the first order of business when you have our Republican-controlled White House and Congress in full effect.
We have Congressman Kevin Brady, deputy -- House deputy whip; also the chairman of the House Ways And Means Committee. It's good to have you.
Let's put up that picture for our audience again of the sunrise coming up. Look at behind us right now. That is not fake, and it really does capture the majesty of the moment, our 58th presidential inauguration. The history that just falls on top of you. The first one in D.C. was Thomas Jefferson. The first president to be at the west front of the Capitol where this is going to take place, Ronald Reagan.
And some history that Donald Trump doesn't want to repeat. First inauguration parade cancelled for weather was Ronald Reagan also. We hope you don't have a repeat of that history today. But so much history, what does this mean to you today?
REP. KEVIN BRADY (R-TX), HOUSE DEPUTY WHIP: This is an exciting day. Look, this is -- these are moments in history, you know, in this country, and I think especially so with Donald Trump, because here's an election which rarely happens, where voters just define the pundits, the experts, the pollsters and said, "This is our guy. He's a guy that will fight for us. We want to shake things up and change the direction of the country."
And so I think today really is about a new start, fresh start. And I think a pretty exciting start for the country.
Now they always say that the office overcomes the man, right? And that is a big question going into what happens with Donald Trump as president. Will he be like presidents before him inasmuch as the office becomes more important than his own emotions? What are you expecting?
BRADY: Well, you know, he is very much his own man. And I think that is why he prevailed through a very tough primary, through a tough general election, as well. And you know, he's one of these guys who --