Return to Transcripts main page
Senate Confirmations Expected for Two Trump Cabinet Nominees; Donald Trump Prepares Inaugural Speech. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have much more of our inaugural coverage starting right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to have four incredible years. It's going to be something special.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is one minute after 12:00 he's going to be president.
TRUMP: That was some big victory. I outworked everybody. I think I outworked anybody whoever ran for office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or job is to be ready on day on one. The American people can be confident that we will be.
TRUMP: The cabinet members are doing really fantastic. I'm very, very proud of my picks.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: You'll know almost immediately that there's a new sheriff in town.
TRUMP: We're going to unify our country and make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, look how beautiful our capitol looks on this historic morning. We want to welcome all our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY, and it's a big one. It's Friday, January 20th, 8:00 here in Washington. It is inauguration day in America, just four hours away from history. That's when our constitution says Donald John Trump gets sworn in as the 45th president of the United States and executes the office. What an improbable journey has gotten us to this point.
CAMEROTA: The eyes of the world are on the pageantry of this day which dates back 228 years to our nation's first president, George Washington. The peaceful transfer of power is steeped in tradition. It is, of course, a pillar of our democracy. So what will the president-elect say when he's president in his inaugural address? And how will the weather impact the ceremony? We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She is live on the west front of the U.S. capitol. What's happening there, Sunlen?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, this is where that historic moment will take place. And I can tell you it is already a hotbed of activity, a feeling of energy certainly in the air.
I want to show you what's going on on the stage behind me. They are certainly making a flurry of last-minute preparations, putting all the finishing touches on things that add to the grandeur of this sort of event. We saw them a few minutes ago drilling in the presidential seal. And as you see there, they just put some plastic coating over the lectern for today where President Trump will give his inaugural address after being sworn in. And we are getting our first raindrops out here, so that may come into play later in the morning.
This is the stage where Trump will not only give that address but be sworn in. And when he does he'll be using two Bibles, one will be President Lincoln's bible, which was also used by President Obama when he was inaugurated in 2009, but then his personal bible, one that was given to him when he was only nine-years-old after completing Sunday school.
He then goes on to give the biggest speech of his political life, his inaugural address, one that we are told he has written largely on his own. It will not be an agenda focus. It will more a personal address of what it means to be an American. And this is something that we saw hints of last night at the kickoff of these festivities at the Lincoln Memorial. Here is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to unify or country, and our phrase, you all know it, half of you are wearing the hat, make America great again.
TRUMP: But we're going to make America great for all of our people, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And Trump woke up this morning at Blair House where he slept with his family overnight. And we know he is up and tweeting already. He will then later to go to church at St. John's and then will meet with the Obamas over at the White House for tea. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Sunlen, thank you.
So a couple hours from now president-elect Donald Trump will meet with President Obama at the White House before both men travel to the U.S. capital together for Mr. Trump's swearing in. The outgoing 45th president penning a goodbye letter to the American people. And CNN's Michelle Kosinski is live at the White House with more. What a tradition, Michelle, what we're going to see play out this morning.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's something that we've seen before. We've seen this peaceful transition of power, and President Obama has absolutely tried to abide by that. I mean, in the lead-up to this, there have been ugly words exchanged on both sides.
But President Obama has made an effort and tried to remind others too that this is supposed to be smooth, it's supposed to be orderly, and it's supposed to be a part of our democracy itself. He's also talked about how gracious his predecessor was in writing a letter to him. President Obama is now writing a letter to Donald Trump that he'll leave for him.
[08:05:00] He also wrote a letter to the American people yesterday. And it said, in part, "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."
But the president also plays a big role in this. That historical guidance that is there for an outgoing president is that it's not supposed to be such a big deal. It's not supposed to be a huge process for the outgoing president to leave. But he is a part of it. We're going to get a picture of President Obama today leaving the Oval Office for the last time.
Just looking at his schedule, he will meet with president-elect Trump and Melania Trump here at the White House. They will have a tea, a traditional tea in the blue room. It's in the past been described sometimes as a bit stiff or awkward. But remember, President Obama and president-elect Trump have had a number of long, candid conversations on the phone prior to this. So they've gotten to know each other at least a little bit. Back to you guys.
CUOMO: Michelle, thank you very much. We know that members of Congress are beginning to arrive at the U.S. capital for today's historic inauguration. Republicans are going to be in control of the White House and both houses of Congress in just four hours. CNN's Manu Raju is live in the capitol rotunda. Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris. Just in about two hours we're going to start seeing senators gather just down the hall from where I'm standing right now. They're expected to walk through here and eventually out into the front steps of the capital and watch the speech and the festivities unfold. On the House side, members attending as well, but as we know a number of House Democrats deciding not to attend this inauguration because of their frustration with the election, concerns about Donald Trump. Roughly a third of House Democrats actually not attending the proceedings.
But on the Senate side, Democrats are planning on attending by and large. You're not seeing that boycott happening over there. But today, also an important day in the Senate because some of Donald Trump's nominees will get confirmed later today, two of his national security nominees, that is General James Mattis to head the defense department, and General John Kelly to head homeland security. Other nominees, however, are still waiting, including the CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo. There will be a big push, watch that today, for Republicans to try to get him confirmed. That could delay until Monday, ahead of what Donald Trump wanted to do tomorrow, which is to go to the CIA tomorrow. So one of the major things the Senate will have to deal with, nomination fights just beginning here, Chris and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Indeed, Manu. Thank you very much for that.
There's so much to discuss on this historic day, so let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "The New York Times," Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst David Gregory, senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and host of the podcast "Examining Politics" David Drucker, and co-author of the book "Trump Revealed," Michael Kranish. Great to have all of you here.
David Gregory, I just can't help but continue to be struck by what's going to happen this morning between President Obama, president-elect Donald Trump. There's so much water under the bridge with these two men. There's been so much acrimony. If there can be a peaceful transition of power and they're riding together in the car to the capitol and have a conversation together, our democracy is strong.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is strong, and our country is strong, and I think these symbols of the transfer of power that America does unlike any other country are just an amazing testament to the strength of the republic, even at a divided time.
You have Trump coming in with low approval numbers, historically low numbers coming into the presidency, and near historic numbers of approval for President Obama as he exits. And yet his successor is someone who ran really completely against everything that Obama stood for in terms of his policies and his placement of America in the rest of the world.
But these traditions are amazingly strong. They go back to Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren riding up to the capitol together. And these moments are really a realization that you're part of a very special club. I can remember outgoing President Clinton meeting in these moments with George W. Bush, the incoming Bush. George W. Bush had made a big point of talking about during the campaign how the shadow of Clinton would come into the campaign and hurt Al Gore. And they had a laugh about that. He said, how did you like how I talked about the shadow returning?
GREGORY: And they had a good chuckle about that. And so this is a moment to enjoy the moment and be part of the celebration.
CUOMO: Mr. Kranish, one of the big questions today will be what will the moment mean to and for Donald John Trump. Unity starts at the top. The tone is set by the president. Do you think there's a chance that when he puts his hand on the same bible that Lincoln used that he will understand better why that man used the phrase "our better angels" and trying to teach people that they cannot be enemies if they want progress in America.
[08:10:06] MICHAEL KRANISH, INVESTIGATIVE POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. You know, throughout his life, from the time he was a child to the candidate we saw, he was a fighter, he was pushing back. And there's this phrase he used recently where he said he quoted the philosophy of boxer Mike Tyson, his friend. And Tyson says everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. So that's been the Trump philosophy. He was taught that by his and mentor Roy Cohn, the lawyer. But he's used that throughout his life.
This is the moment, to use the title of your show, a new day. For a lot of people, this is a new introduction to Donald Trump. They want to see if he's going to change his tone. This is the time when presidents who are inaugurated traditionally say they're reaching out, they want to bring the country together. Sometimes that doesn't last very long. Barack Obama certainly tried it when he was first inaugurated, but then he passed health care without a single Republican vote.
So this is a moment where Donald Trump does need, in fact he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, probably some Democratic support. So it's a very important moment for him. He's probably going to get the largest audience perhaps of his presidency today, and he can send a new message. And that message could be one, he continues to punch back or could be a more conciliatory tone which you would expect today.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, you've been following the Trump team for at least 18 months now. What are you listening for today?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Especially as we were talking, especially as you were telling that story about Gore, I was thinking that one of the aspects that we haven't really talked about is that Hillary Clinton will be there. And I'm very curious to see what he says about here.
Among the things to listen for in his inauguration address obviously is how much off script he goes. As we know he is not great with teleprompter speech. His aides have said he wrote this himself. I think we will know when we hear it. I'm wondering how he deals with her presence. I'm wondering what he says to her.
This was not a remember that time when Russia was accused of hacking our election and wasn't it funny situation. So I think that is going to be a potentially tense and fraught moment. And how he addresses her is going to I think matter for Democrats going forward. Obviously there are a lot of Democrats who do not like Hillary Clinton, but they also don't necessarily like Donald Trump. But we need to see how that goes forward.
I do think he's going to talk about America first and this term that he first I believe heard from my colleague David Sanger and then he sort of made it his own. It obviously has a historical context that is not positive. But he has used it as his slogan. I think he's going to -- his advisers have said it's going to be sort of a philosophical speech and not political. Trump's philosophy, to your point, is about brawling and punching people in the face. And I don't think that's the philosophy he's going to espouse. So there's a lot of questions as we approach this speech. CUOMO: David Drucker, the magic of the moment. You talked about it,
and it can feel a little phony when people hear it, but we see it time and time again. President after president says the same thing, boy, when you put your hand on the bible, when you take the oath, you realize that this position is something. This is the biggest moment of Donald Trump's life. You think that should be factored in when people are looking at what he's been every moment before this because everything will be different after this.
DAVID DRUCKER, SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": I'm very curious to see if the weight of the job really is something that he internalizes, and if it changes him a little bit. And we know presidents tend to change over time. We joke about the cliche leader of the free world. But you really are the leader of the free world. What Barack Obama is handing over are the keys to the most potent nuclear arsenal and the most potent military ever created. You can do a lot with that. And so we'll see how Donald Trump reacts to that.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all of those insights. It's great to talk to you. We'll rely on you all day long. We also need to know what the weather is going to be. Chris needs to know how unsightly a rain cap I will be wearing during our parade coverage in a few hours. So we're going to check with Chad Myers when we come back.
[08:17:43] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Donald Trump is about to depart for church services steps from the White House. The president-elect will be joined by his wife, the vice president and some of his cabinet picks at St. John's Episcopal Church.
CNN national correspondent Phil Mattingly is live there.
Tell us what you're seeing, Phil.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn.
What we're seeing, so far, is a number of VIPs, a number of top Trump administration officials, incoming officials some have already filed in to St. John's Church, the church behind me. And what we're going to see this morning is really a continuation of tradition, something that's happened since 1933 pretty much consistently with the exception of one president, a worship service before the inauguration.
As you noted, just about a block away from the Blair House, where the president-elect and his family are staying here, they're going to hop into a motorcade in about 15 minutes, head over here for that service, services expected to last around an hour. And who you're going to see here besides Trump's future staff is a lot of evangelical supporters that were so crucial to his campaign.
Also, the person who is going to deliver the sermon, Robert Jeffress, a reverend from Dallas, Texas, who kind of runs a mega church down there, a very important, very crucial figure in the Southern Baptist Movement, he will be giving the sermon. He's a controversial figure for some of the comments he's made about other religions, about the LBGT community.
But when I talked to a Trump official about that decision, he said, look, this is an individual who's been extraordinarily supportive of Mr. Trump. He's been extraordinarily the campaign. He's a crucial, kind of -- not adviser, but at least somebody who on the faith side of things has been very helpful. That is why he has this role.
As to what he'll be talking about, the name of the sermon, according to the pastor will be "how God chose a leader". It will be something to keep a close eye on. A lot of support in the faith community over the course of the last 18 months and all of it represented here -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, Phil, the word inauguration comes from the word to consecrate. It does seem our next president is trying to draw as much divine energy as he can and will set a record with six different prayers before the ceremonies begin.
Thousands of Americans are making their way to Washington, D.C. hoping to get a good spot from the inaugural celebration. Many of them waking up very early to get through very tight security.
CNN's Brian Todd is just outside the National Mall.
[08:20:00] So tight, Brian, that even Alisyn Camerota had to wait.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you guys are VIPs. And if you guys can't get in, it will be tough for anybody. But it has started to smooth out a little bit. The crowd coming in now, this checkpoint and the one down the street there opened a little over an hour ago. So, people are being let in.
So, this one, move over here for a second, this one just closed temporarily, a minor security snafu, they're going to check something out. But they assure it's likely a temporary closing of these gates. Then they're going to start letting people through.
Energy and enthusiasm really are the order of the morning here. We've talked to people from Tennessee, North and South Carolina. We've talked to people from Seattle. One young man and his mother drove here from Seattle, four and a half days it took them to get here to take in the spectacle.
That's what it's about this morning. People just wanting to get as close as they can to the podium. They've asked us for directions on how to get to the best places and where to go. It's really fun to talk to people about that. They're so enthusiastic about being here that the energy is infectious.
Now, part of the day are these pop-up protests. Here is one over here. They have tried to block people from getting in. People have been able to nudge their way through the protesters. Nobody is getting too heated about it. So, the protesters are having their voices heard, but not a huge factor in the equation this morning as far as getting the crowds through. Now you see these people are moving again. The gates are opening up
again. We did have issues earlier because a couple of the checkpoints had staffing problems, had equipment problems and were not able to let people in on time.
They have started to do that now and people are moving through, very enthusiastic to get to the mall or as close to it as they can to hear President Trump in his speech, in his oath taking. And they're not daunted by the weather. The rain has not started here yet, guys.
It's going too soon, but getting a break in the temperature. It's only in the low 50s right now. And when it does rain, we're told it won't be a real driving rain. So, people are very enthusiastic about coming out here.
CAMEROTA: OK, Brian, thank you very much.
I'm getting a lot of suggestions for headgear. I'm going to have it festooned with something.
How much rain will fall here in Washington?
CNN's Chad Myers has the forecast.
What are you seeing, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Alisyn, probably less than a quarter inch, but likely over a tenth of an inch. What I'm worried about on the radar, at least the future radar projections are some of the yellow spots I'm about to show you. We're going to get rain into D.C., Baltimore in the next hour or two. What we don't want would be thunder and lightning with all those people outside.
Now, just like Brian said, this is not a severe thunderstorm type of event, but there are these convective little cells here that each one of them could have a thunder or lightning strike, hopefully cloud to cloud, not cloud to ground. But the likelihood of rain is 100 percent. The likelihood of thunder is still there.
It's not a probability, but a possibility. You have all those people outside with thunder and lightning. Where do they go?
CUOMO: Rain or shine, the democracy will move.
Thank you, Chad.
CNN's special coverage of the 58th inauguration, Donald John Trump will become the 45th president. Our coverage begins right after this break.
[08:27:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're live at the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, and the seismic shift in power here in Washington.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
We're about to see the president-elect for the first time on this historic day. Moments from now, Donald and Melania Trump will leave the president guest quarters over at Blair House. You're looking at live pictures.
They spent the night there, the official guest house of the White House along with their children and grandchildren, as is customary on this very important day, the Trumps will take a short drive around the corner to St. John's Episcopal Church to attend a private service. It's one of many inauguration traditions being honored by the president-elect.
In about an hour, the Trumps will head over to the White House for a truly iconic moment. They'll be greeted by president and Mrs. Obama before they all go inside for some tea and coffee.
We'll carry all the big inauguration events live throughout the day. We have a team of correspondents in place. They're spread out across the nation's capital including over at Blair House and over at St. John's church. They're awaiting the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, just hours before he takes charge at the White House. Extensive live coverage coming up.
Jake, this is going to be an historic moment because we will see the full majesty, but it begins with a church service.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It does, it begins with a church service. The person delivering the sermon for President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence, Dr. Robert Jeffress, said the topic of his sermon that will be delivered at St. John's is when God chooses a leader from Nehemiah. So, that's the sermon that will greet the day for the president and the president-elect.
This is going to be a fascinating day because President-elect Trump, I think it's fair to say in any objective term, is the most non- traditional president-elect we have ever had. He is the first one in the history of this country never to have before held elected office or military service, the first one ever who has never been in the military or in the government in some capacity.
He's very much a man of his particular time, somebody who uses Twitter to communicate, somebody who comes from reality television, in addition to his successful business career. And yet, the day is very traditional. It is full of customs that have been going on for decades, and in some cases hundreds of years, having to do with the peaceful transfer of power, the traditions of going to St. John's Church, the traditions of having tea and coffee with the outgoing president, and that ceremony where the outgoing president bids adieu on Marine One and takes off while the current, incoming president and first lady wave goodbye.