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Donald Trump's Speech; Divided Country amid Inauguration; Trumps go to Prayer Service; Trump Oldest President to Take Oath; Trump Relying on Others; Melania Trump's First Lady Role. Aired 8:30- 9:00a ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Having a - keep - having tea and coffee with the outgoing president and that ceremony where the outgoing president bids ado on Marine One and takes off while the current, incoming president and first lady wave good-bye. And then, of course, the ceremony that will take place shortly before noon Eastern right behind us here on Capitol Hill.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, Dana, you're with us as well.
Dana, almost every minute of this important day is scripted out.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Going to be a big challenge for a man who is notoriously unscripted. He is most comfortable when he's off-the-cuff. He - at the end of his campaign, was much more disciplined and staying on his teleprompter than in the past. This is going to be the ultimate test of his ability to be disciplined because he - his aides say he is going to be reading from his script, reading his inaugural address. Obviously a historic thing to be able to read the same kind of address that started with George Washington. Pretty remarkable.
And, you know, it is going to be the first test of the whether or not what he promised during the campaign will be true, which is, can he be presidential? He promised, you know, now I'm just me, I'm just Donald Trump the businessman, Donald Trump the candidate, but when I become president, I'm going to be presidential. We haven't entirely seen it yet, but maybe we will.
And the other thing I want to say is that when we see him put his hand in the air, it will be, to your point, Jake, the very first time that Donald Trump will ever take an oath to this country because he has never served in the military or served in any elected office, whether it is city council, up to senator or governor.
BLITZER: And as we celebrate, John King, all the pomp and circumstance of this historic day, the country still is pretty divided.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The country is very divided and the world watches the United States on this day. And as Jake notes, you have all these traditions, and as Dana notes, a candidate about to be president who doesn't like traditions, who doesn't like a script. What a - or just a remarkable day in our history. You know, the American experiment is 240 years old. We are saying farewell to our first African-American president, a man who's disrupted his own party, leap-frogged the Clintons eight years ago to take over the Democratic Party, a young man who surprised everybody and promised to change Washington. Well, he didn't succeed in changing Washington as much as he would like.
And now you have a man who wants to hostile takeover of the Republican Party, who's not bound by Republican ideology, about to become a disruptive force in American politics at the White House. He disrupted the campaign. He has had a disruptive - and I - some of that has annoyed people. Some of that encourages his people. They want change in Washington. It's just such a turning of the page in history. President Obama leaves incredibly popular, and yet, 10 weeks ago, the American people elected somebody who in every way, how he talks, what he stands for, what he wants to do with the levers of government, is different than our president.
BLITZER: All right, John, we see people beginning to emerge from Blair House. There's the president-elect of the United States. Look, he's wearing his red tie and Melania Trump, the entire family, they spent the night at Blair House. They spent the entire night at Blair House. The first time we're seeing Melania on this - Melania Trump on this date. And I'm sure a lot of people, Dana, are going to be talking about what she's wearing on this day.
BASH: Well, the - the -
BLITZER: Donald Trump, obviously, very, very traditional look. But it's - they're going to drive over, what, only about a block from Blair House -
BASH: That's right.
BLITZER: Over to St. John's Episcopal Church for this prayer service.
BASH: That's right. And, look, the first thing that comes to my mind, the minute I saw Melania, is Jackie Onassis or Jackie Kennedy, of course, at the time. A different color, but, boy, is that a Jackie Kennedy style that she's got there. Very classic. Very elegant. Very refined.
BLITZER: And they're going to get in a little motorcade. It's going to be a very short drive, Jake, from Blair House over to St. John's Episcopal Church. The service will be very significant for this president-elect.
TAPPER: It will. I mean he's not somebody that has a long tradition in the church. He's not somebody known for having a particular spiritual theology. But he is somebody who was embraced by the conservative evangelical community during the primaries, won their votes considerably, was very, very strongly supported by the Christian conservative community here in Washington, D.C., and has talked repeatedly about how honored he has been to have enjoyed their support, even though he comes from, I think it's fair to say, a very different kind of background.
BLITZER: Yes, he does. And he will have his family Bible later behind us when he is sworn in as president of the United States. Also will have a Lincoln Bible as well. So it's a moment that he will certainly cherish as he begins, John King, this four-year adventure.
KING: And he begins it - today we will focus on the ceremony, the transfer of power, the peaceful transition of power that makes America the beacon around the world. And one of the big questions for this president is the speech he will deliver right there behind us is, you know, can he take - he can't unify the country today. The country is still very divided. But with the Lincoln Bible, with the symbolism and then his words, can he take an important first step and lay the foundation for bringing together - look, he lost the popular vote. He won the Electoral College. There are a good number of Democrats boycotting this inauguration. One very prominent who has said he's illegitimate. Others who say they just have differences with this president and don't want to be here.
[08:35:21] So there's a huge challenge for him going forward when he begins the governing challenge, and that will come later today. After the parade, we expect the first executive orders. Then the Congress is already about the business of reversing Obamacare and things like that. Today is more about the transfer of power, but the message he sends in that first speech I think is very important to see if he can take that important first step to bridge what is a huge divide.
TAPPER: And what's interesting is one of his dear friends and the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, told Dana and I yesterday that the theme of the speech that we're going to hear shortly before noon Eastern, and also the theme of this entire weekend is unity and bringing the country together, honoring the traditions of this nation, the peaceful transfer of power, more than 220 years of that tradition, not something that is seen in every country around the world, especially after such a bitter and divisive election. And the notes that we have heard so far have - some have been in that direction, some have been quite in the opposite direction. Tom Barrack saying the time to put the campaign is over, the time to unite the country is now. There's also been a lot of talk about the campaign still and a lot of -
BASH: Including last night.
TAPPER: And a lot of attacks on opponents of President-elect Trump. It is a moment for him to put that aside and call for unity.
And, look, we're not going to dwell on this today, but he is entering the presidency the least popular president-elect in modern American history. I think he's going to find that popularity will help him do what he wants to do. It will give him power over members of Congress.
TAPPER: And power over members of the media.
BASH: Yes. And the other thing is that, although he is a businessman, the Trump Organization is not that big actually when it comes to personnel. I mean it's big in terms of it sands the globe, but when it comes to personnel, it's not that big. He doesn't - people who are close to him even say that the reason why he's needed to get out of Trump Tower and here, he needs to grasp the notion of the fact that this is a sprawling organization. He's not going to just be with the small band of aides that are actually with him right now anymore.
BASH: It's going to be very different.
BLITZER: It's beginning to rain a little bit here in the nation's capital. We'll endure for sure. Huge crowds already gathering.
I want to go over to Blair House. Michelle Kosinski, our White House correspondent, is on scene.
We saw the president-elect and the incoming first lady. They've walk down the stairs from Blair House. They're now in their vehicles. They're getting ready for that very brief drive from where you are, Michelle, over to St. John's Episcopal Church.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's the picture everybody was waiting for. I mean people have been assembled out here since before dawn. But most of those around us are police. Security is already in place, and volunteers. They're going to be working this event. But they, themselves, wanted to get that first view of the family, the soon-to-be first family, as they begin this incredible day for them.
They all spent the night in Blair House. This is four buildings put together. So they have plenty of room in there. It's this beautiful old building, traditional for the president-elect to spend the night there. And he just had his entire family with him. His daughter, Ivanka, her husband and their three children. His sons and their wives and their children, as well as Tiffany Trump all spent the night together there.
And then earlier this morning, I guess it would be about half an hour, 45 minutes ago, we saw Kellyanne Conway arrive. She went in, spent some time with the family, and now they've all exited the building, gotten into their respective cars and now they'll make this procession starting to move now to St. John's Episcopal Church, which is just across Lafayette Park. It's about a block and a half away.
Now people are starting to wave out here. There's some clapping.
KOSINSKI: To see them off as they start this traditional service before the inauguration itself.
BLITZER: Right across the - Michelle, right across the street, as you well know, from the White House, Pennsylvania Avenue, one-block, a short, little drive. We saw the motorcade leave. They'll be heading over to St. John's Episcopal Church for this service this morning. It will set the scene. After the service, the Trumps will head back over to the White House for tea, coffee with the president and the first lady, Michelle Obama, before they head up to where we are right now up on Capitol Hill. You're looking at live pictures over there. This is right near - this motorcade is going to be heading over to the church. On the right you see, John, what the Hay-Adams Hotel right across the street from St. John's Episcopal Church.
BLITZER: They'll be walking out. It's a slight drizzle, Jake, as we await the president-elect. We'll see them get out of the vehicles right now and head into the church.
[08:40:03] TAPPER: Everything about this day is fastidiously choreographing, everything from the walking down of the stairs, to where cars are going to park. It is meticulous. It is in keeping with the long traditions of this country. This day is very un-Trumpian in that way, in the sense that he has - he has been somebody who has been more of an add-libber, who has done things his own way and won the nomination and won the election doing things his own way.
BLITZER: He's about - he's getting out of the vehicle now. Let's just listen for a second.
We saw the rector of St. John's, Louis Leon (ph), greet the president- elect. Now we see Ivanka Trump, the daughter, and Jared Kushner, her husband, the son-in-law. Jared Kushner, Jake, he's going to play a very significant role in this new administration.
TAPPER: That's right. President-elect Trump was very impressed with Jared Kushner's guidance during the campaign, and he's bringing him to the White House.
There is - there are his two grown sons, Don Jr. and Eric and their wives and children.
BLITZER: Don Jr. and Eric. All the grandchildren are there for this historic occasion. A day they will, for sure, always remember. And there's Tiffany Trump. She just recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.
TAPPER: That's right, Tiffany Trump.
BLITZER: The sons, Eric and Don Jr., they will be in charge of the business. They're not coming to Washington.
TAPPER: They are not coming to Washington. And, of course, there remain a lot of questions about the ability of President-elect Trump to keep his businesses separated from his job now as president of the United States in a few hours with his sons running it. Those questions will no doubt continue to dog his presidency.
Tiffany Trump, the daughter of President-elect Trump and Marla Maples from his second marriage.
BLITZER: The family is inside right now.
Phil Mattingly is over at the church himself.
So, Phil, walk us through who's inside, who will be at this service and what we - what we'll be hearing?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So we obviously just saw the president-elect and the future first lady walk in. Over the course of the last 45 minutes, Wolf, we've really seen kind of every close confidant, cabinet member, incoming senior level White House staffer also make their way into St. John's Episcopal Church. About 300 individuals are expected to attend this service.
And kind of as Jake pointed out earlier, when you look back over the course of the campaign, one of the more surprising elements was the really intense evangelical support that now President-elect Trump got. And that will be represented heavily at this service. Jerry Fallwell, Jr., James Dobson, a lot of individuals that made kind of concrete decisions to back the president-elect when maybe it wasn't the most popular or even kind of sensical (ph) idea at the time as far as they were talking are here. They've been close confidants throughout the campaign. They remain so now.
As the service itself occurs, the president-elect and the first lady- to-be will be sitting in the front row of this service. This service is expected, Wolf, to last about an hour long, perhaps a little bit longer. One of the more interesting elements of the service is who will be delivering this sermon. It will be Reverend Robert Jeffress. And he is known as a megachurch pastor, a very popular one, a southern Baptist from down in Dallas, Texas. But he's also one who's made a lot of inflammatory and controversial remarks about other religions, about the LGBT community over the course of the last couple of years.
That said, in talking to Trump officials about this, they say, look, his message will be one of unification. He is one who has been backing the Trump family from the very beginning. One who's very respected and thought very highly of inside the Trump operation. That's why he's here today.
As for the sermon that he will be giving, it will be titled "When God Chooses a Leader." And at the crux of it will be the story of Nehemiah, obviously an old testament story about an individual who built a wall around Jerusalem to help protect the city. That will be at the center of the sermon today that will be delivered.
Again, Wolf, should be about an hour long before they head back over to the White House for that tea with the Obamas. But everybody that you would expect to be here is here. And this is kind of a tradition that we've seen pretty much consistently since 1933. President-elect Trump continuing that today, Wolf.
[08:45:05] TAPPER: Dr. Jeffress -- Reverend Jeffress indeed very controversial. He runs a 12,000-member megachurch in Dallas. But we should point out, I mean, he has - he has said that Islam and Mormonism are heresies from the pit of hell, he's suggested that the Catholic Church was led astray by Satan and on and on.
KING: It's one of the challenges for the president-elect on this day when he wants to projecting a message of unity, but he's also still surrounding himself with allies in the campaign. Dr. Jeffress was out on the campaign, campaigning aggressively for President-elect Trump. If you're left of center you look at this and say, how can you deliver a message of unity when you allow the lead sermon, when you go to the president's church, as St. John's is called, to be somebody with the representation of the political activity of Dr. Jeffress. That's again one of the big challenges this president-elect faces, soon to be president, in keeping the loyalty and rewarding the loyalty of those who stood with him in the campaign, but trying to reach out to the 54 percent of Americans who didn't vote for him.
BASH: One thing I want to point out, as we were watching the shots of the first family going into that service, that we didn't see one of Donald Trump's children, his youngest son, Baron. He wasn't there last night and -
TAPPER: Ten years old.
BASH: Ten years old.
BASH: And Donald Trump, last night when he was speaking to donors, said that he was home. We're not sure where he is or why he's not here. But wanted to note that we did see his adult children, a couple of his adult children's children. I think the two oldest kids of Don Jr. But, you know, it's not always - it's not always easy when you're a young kid, I think, to deal with this. But certainly noteworthy that he wasn't there. Maybe we'll see him later here.
TAPPER: And all - and all those - those grown children and grandchildren underscore something that I think many of us have forgotten because Donald Trump has traditionally projected such an energetic and robust image. And, obviously, a lot of his supporters think that he is an alpha male and very strong. He will be the oldest person in the history of this country ever inaugurated. He is 70 years old. I believe Ronald Reagan was 69 -
BASH: Correct. Yes.
BLITZER: For the first time.
TAPPER: For the first inauguration.
TAPPER: So he will be the oldest president ever inaugurated for the first time in this country. Again, a man of his times. He's a man who has been married more than once. Americans live much longer today than they did several years ago. But just another historical moment.
KING: One of the big contrasts because we've had three consecutive two-term presidents, these were young men, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, three men who assumed the presidency in their 40s or early 50s. It's just one of the many contrasts you get with this new administration.
BASH: And in some ways going back a little bit. I mean Obama is pretty much a generation younger than Donald Trump. TAPPER: Right.
BASH: You know, almost. Maybe just a little bit short of it. So, you know, even though Obama is retiring from the White House, he is retiring and giving over the job to somebody who is, what, 15 - more than 15 years his senior.
TAPPER: It's interesting because when Ronald Reagan was running, obviously, there were all those questions from his opponents and from the media about his age. There really weren't many about Donald Trump and his age.
BLITZER: This is Inauguration Day here in the United States. It's only just beginning. Donald Trump, he's over at St. John's Episcopal Church right now. He'll be heading over to the White House to sit down with President Obama. That's shortly after the church service. We're standing by for their meeting, their drive to the Capitol and all the big moments on this Inauguration Day. Stay with us.
[08:52:34] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the inauguration of Donald Trump, a day of history.
Right now the president-elect is inside St. John's Church here in Washington, attending a private service. It is a moment for prayer, for reflection before he assumes the awesome responsibility of leading this nation.
Soon he'll head to his new home and office, the White House. We'll see the Obamas welcome the Trumps at the White House. We'll see all of that live. And then they will head inside for tea, coffee and some conversation before the official handover of power.
Good morning, I'm Anderson Cooper, overlooking the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. And what a view it is. All morning long we have seen thousands and thousands of people lining up through security in order to get a great spot so that they can witness this historic day.
I'm here with the panel. Michael Smerconish, Nia-Malika Henderson, David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, Kate Andersen Brower, Douglas Brinkley, Jeffrey Lord, Bakari Sellers, all joining me.
David Axelrod, you know what it's like to be with a president on this day where their whole life completely changes. Eric Trump, on another network this morning, was asked, what is the biggest fear for your dad? And I thought it was interesting what he said.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I heard that.
COOPER: He said, I think having a lot of new people around him.
COOPER: We've always been a little bit insular. That is the new reality for Donald Trump.
AXELROD: It is because the most important thing, and the president said this the other day, President Obama, is, you cannot do this alone. You have to be reliant on others. And that is not the way Donald Trump has structured his life to date. So this is a huge challenge for him, to put trust in others, to operate on a much larger scale than he has before and to do it in a way that gives people confidence, not just in the operations of government, but that everyone is being accounted for in it and by it.
COOPER: Because, Gloria, I mean as much as, you know, Donald Trump's talked about the tens of thousands of employees he's, you know, had over the years, but the Trump Organization itself is actually, to Eric Trump's words, pretty insular. It's relatively small.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. And he's used to being this autonomous leader of a privately held empire that is run largely with his children. And now he's got to confront the reality of a Congress that wants the answers to everything. He's got to bring in new people. And what he values the most is loyalty. And loyalty comes, he believes, from family and from knowing someone for decades.
[08:54:59] What he is used to, I was saying as we saw that beautiful picture of the White House, he is used to living and working in the same place, because at Trump Tower he, of course, lives up on the top of Trump Tower and he works - he works down - down on a lower level there. But this is going to be a very, very different environment for him because he's going to have to broaden -
BORGER: And he won't always get what he wants.
COOPER: And, Kate, for the family, too, I mean this is - obviously much of the family, Ivanka Trump is moving down here with Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner's going to have a senior adviser role in the White House. The grown Trump boys, Eric and Don Jr., they're going to be staying in New York running the business. But, for the family, this is completely new. For Melania Trump, this will be a completely new life.
KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN": It is completely new. I mean I think we've seen this with other first ladies, but nothing quite as stark as this, someone who really seems reluctant to be in the middle of the fray. And, you know, Melania is the first foreign- born first lady we've had since Louisa Adams. I think it's going to be interesting to see how she - she fills this role. I think she feels very vulnerable right now. She's following on the heels of one of the most popular first ladies in history. And she wants to find, you know, a cause, a non -
COOPER: Which often takes months for a first lady.
COOPER: I mean people think about what Michelle Obama, you know, has been doing. But it took her months to kind of meet with people and figure out what she wanted to do (INAUDIBLE).
BROWER: Right. Right. And they don't have a social secretary yet or a chief of staff for her that the Obamas had in place by this time in 2009. So I think that they're really taking their time to set up the East Wing, at least, and she - you know, by staying in New York, I think is sending the message that she's not going to be a traditional first lady like we've seen before, and Ivanka might fill some of that void.
COOPER: Although, Douglas Brinkley, Ivanka Trump sort of bristled at the suggestion that she would be playing kind of the role of the first lady also in a recent interview. And we should point out, Melania Trump is going to be staying in New York at least for several months while their son Baron completes this year of school. But the role of first lady, I mean, it is different with every first lady. Every first lady sort of determines how they want to be. Melania Trump has talked about Jackie Onassis' - Jacqueline Kennedy as somebody she admired and looked to and also spoke very highly of Michelle Obama as well.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, that's right, all first ladies are different. I mean Eleanor Roosevelt would just disappear from her husband, not even see him for months at a time, had her own set of friends, seldom did they ever really interact for months at a time. Today, just looking at Melania, she does remind one of Jacqueline Kennedy, at least in the fashion sense. And I think the sense of glamour, we've got to remember that Melania is a and was a model. She grew up in a world of fashion. She lives in New York City. And when we say about being away from D.C., she's going to be in Trump Tower with all of the media are surrounding her in New York. So I think she's going to be a fairly visible first lady, maybe just not as much so in Washington, D.C., at least for this first season.
COOPER: You know, Donald Trump, during the campaign, talked a lot about, you know, what he's going to do on day one. And though day one may be officially start on Monday, I mean, once you are sworn in as president, it begins.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. You know, he will -
COOPER: I mean you immediately - you get the nuclear codes, the responsibility, the weight is taken on right then.
HENDERSON: It is. I mean as he's there, as you said, he will have the nuclear codes. We've had mixed signals from his team. He would start on day one on Monday. And there are some notions that he would start as early as Friday. They seem to sort of want credit for this idea that he's going to hit the ground running. Well, guess what, that's the nature of the job. You have to hit the ground running right away.
I think it will be interesting to see what sort of notes he sounds of unity and inclusion in his speech and whether or not what he does after that sort of undermines whatever his messages are in his speech.
COOPER: Michael Smerconish, your thoughts on this historic morning? MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": Well, we've sat here on
so many occasions as a group and we've wondered, is this where we're about to see the pivot. And we never saw the pivot. We didn't see the pivot from the moment that he descended that escalator and began the campaign at Trump Tower through all those primaries and caucuses, through the debates, through the conventions, through the whole process. But perhaps today in the speech at noon the pivot will come.
He was running the campaign all the way through last evening, which really surprised me, still calling out different events that had transpired and making refers to things that had happened. Is this the new beginning? I hope so.
COOPER: Jeffrey Lord.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One of the things -
COOPER: You knew (INAUDIBLE) -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
LORD: I got my tux two years ago. I was ready.
One of the things I've seen in the press is that the speeches that he's looked at inauguration-wise are John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. And the geek that I was as a kid, growing up in Massachusetts, and a JFK fan, I memorized JFK's inaugural address. And, of course, Ronald Reagan's was memorable as well. And what they had in common was summoning the country to a challenge and also appealing to American greatness and the - what the country meant as a whole. And that was their sort of historic themes that the two of those people shared. And it went over very well in the day for each of them.
[09:00:13] And I think he's going to follow --