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Protests Concerning Donald Trump's Presidency Take Place Across U.S. and Internationally; Donald Trump Attends Interfaith Prayer Service at National Cathedral. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 21, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": -- very often during the campaign. But this morning the new president embraces it. Any moment now he's expected to leave the White House bound for the National Cathedral to attend a prayer service. The vice president, Mike Pence, has already arrived. It's a tradition for newly installed presidents dating back to George Washington. It's the only scheduled event on the president's first full day in office.
Also this hour here in Washington, a women's march is getting under way, just one of many around the country, indeed around the world today. Protesters say they are deeply worried about the Trump White House and its potential impact on women's rights and civil liberties. Similar demonstrations are being held across the country, and as I said, around the world.
We're covering all the fast moving developments this morning. I want to quickly get over to Jeff Zeleny who is outside the National Cathedral in Washington where this prayer service is set to begin. Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good morning. This interfaith prayer service here is going to begin shortly. Vice President Mike Pence arrived just a short time ago. His new residence, the Naval Observatory, just a few blocks from here in northwest Washington. Donald Trump will be leaving the White House shortly coming here as well for this interfaith prayer service, really featuring a diversity of religious readings and songs, a call to prayer, a Muslim call to prayer in Arabic, a Jewish call to prayer in Hebrew.
So Wolf, this is the sense of the kind of message that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be listening to today inside. Now, we are seeing protests around Washington of course and around the world. And Wolf, there even have been some protests here in the days leading up to this about the idea of even having this event here. This is an episcopal cathedral that has been hosting this are many years, but many members of this congregation were upset about this, Wolf.
But this is what the dean of the cathedral said in response to that. Let's take a look. He said "I am sorry that these decisions have caused such turmoil and pain, yet I stand by the decisions not because we are celebrating the president-elect but because we want to be a model for him and the rest of the country in an approach to civility."
So Wolf, this service here this morning will be approach to civility. We'll be talking about that. "Let There be Peace on Earth" will be sung here this morning. The book of Romans and Matthew. So Donald Trump will be listening to this, not talking at all here at this service when it gets under way shortly. It's expected to last an hour or a little more than that. This is his first official act on his first full day of office, Wolf.
BLITZER: Those first few rows that were still empty. Those are the rows reserved for the president, the first lady, the vice president, his wife Karen, and their respective families and other VIPs who will still be attending, members of the new cabinet among others, is that right?
ZELENY: Indeed, Wolf. He'll be coming here with members of his family. I am told that Justice Kennedy is inside from the Supreme Court as well, of course, Ben Carson, the cabinet nominee to lead the Housing and Urban Development, Tom Price, the HHS, Health and Human Services secretary nominee are inside as well as others.
I was inside a few minutes ago, Wolf, but we are broadcasting from outside this morning so we're not interrupting this prayer service inside. But it is not completely full. I'm told by reporters inside that it is filling up here this morning.
And Wolf, this is going to be another moment for Donald Trump really to sort of, you know, accept the magnitude of this office here. He is also going to be hearing from some pastors, some evangelical pastors along the way who supported him and often spoke at his rallies that we saw so much of during the campaign here. But Wolf, it is an interfaith service going back for every president the morning after the inauguration to George Washington.
BLITZER: As I said, he started yesterday with a prayer service at a church. Today he starts with another prayer service at the National Cathedral. Jeff, we'll get back to you. Jeff Zeleny reporting.
And as some pray, others are protesting here in Washington. right now women here in the nation's capital, indeed around the country are gathering in a show of solidarity for women's rights and to protest the new president's policies. Sister marches, they are planned in other cities from one end of the country to the other, and even overseas in places like London and Paris.
All this began on Facebook as a call to action after Hillary Clinton's defeat in November. And it could evolve into one of the biggest political demonstrations in Washington. We have live coverage of the major protests in Washington, New York, Boston, London among other places, the president's hometown where thousands are expected to march from the U.N., from the United Nations building, over to Trump Tower in New York City.
[10:05:03] Our correspondent Jessica Schneider is right in the middle of the action over there. Jessica, what's it like?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a lot of people telling me this morning they actually wanted to stay away from Washington, D.C., away from the inauguration and instead make their voices heard right here in New York City, President Trump's home town.
I'll show you some of the crowds that have been growing considerably over the past hour. This whole thing, this women's march of New York City, expected to kick off around 10:45 this morning. A lot of the people you're seeing gathered here, they'll start off in that first wave making their way from the United Nations up about 10 blocks and west few avenues to stand and protest in front of Trump tower on Fifth Avenue. Of course, Trump Tower, the president's home and where he's based much of his transition efforts. But the people here saying they want to get out, get their voices heard, and make it a message directly to the president.
As you'll notice here, not just women. This is called the women's march of New York City, much like the women's marches throughout the country. But out here people of all -- both genders, all races, they say that this isn't just about women's rights. They say it's about equality and maintaining civil rights protections for everyone in the country. So the crowds are revving up here. Everything out here gets started around 11:00 a.m. They'll march throughout the day, making their way to Trump Tower to send their message to the new president. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Jessica, thanks very much. Jessica Schneider is over at the U.N. at New York City.
I want to go to CNN's Kyung Lah. He's here in Washington on the National Mall where huge crowds have been gathering all morning. What's it like over there, Kyung?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I've just heard the first speaker, performer take the stage here. And what we've been hearing from everyone we've been speaking to is that the message here is going to be told in the size of the crowd. So I'm going to have my photographer take a look. I'm going to pan both ways so be patient with me because I want you to take a look at just this one section. This is the front section. We're up on a riser so we can only have him show you one small part. I'm going to have him pan all the way across now.
What the crowd is doing is funneling towards the stage, and then as Jordan is panning back, it is stretching all the way down the street. I can't tell you where this crowd ends because I can't see the end. The signs, the pink hats go as far as the eye can see. What we have been told by organizers is that they were hoping that 250,000 plus people were going to be there. I can't tell you if we've got that, but we can certainly tell you there are a lot of people.
We've been in the crowds talking to a lot of people. We've spoken to women who brought their children, women who marched in the 1970s for equal rights. We've spoken to women of color. We've spoken to gay women. And what they all say is they may have their own issues, it could be climate change, it could be reproductive rights, rights for protection of Planned Parenthood, but all of them say what they are truly looking for is to send a message to the new president, that these bodies that you are seeing, the swells of people from California, Hawaii, Alaska, all along the east coast and the south, that they want to make sure that their voices are heard, that they understand there's been a shift in the politics of this country, who sits in the White House, but they want to make sure that women's rights are protected in this next administration. Wolf?
BLITZER: I'm looking at some of the speakers who will be attending. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, America Ferrera, the actress, the activist Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Moore among others. So there's a full range of speakers and events that have been planned. Kyung, we're going to get back to you. We're going to cover this extensively.
I want to go to CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's on a bus bound for Washington D.C. from New York City. On board with here, a group of women headed to the march. Brynn is joining us from the bus. Brynn, what's it like?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf, we're getting closer to D.C. We're getting a little bit delayed with some traffic right now on the highway, but certainly that's not stopping the excitement that's happening in this bus as people continue their conversations amongst each other, talking about what they're going to do, what they're going to feel, what they're going to say when they get to this rally and join the thousands that we know are already there.
Again, I keep talking about the personal reasons that people are here and needing to be here today and joining these other women and men and children, really, in D.C. Mary here actually organized this group. She organized this group, two buses full following each other to D.C., 55 people. Mary told me that she's doing it for her son.
[10:10:01] A lot of people doing this, again, for very personal reasons, whether it be a certain issue like abortion or LGBTQ community, or whether they're doing it because they came from a family of immigrants. There are so many reasons. And that's what makes this march so important, so exciting for the people we've been talking to on this bus.
And I really have to mention as we pan over, not sure about this bus, but I've got to tell you, as we've been traveling along this highway, we've been seeing a number of buses and we can tell that many of them are going to the same place we are. I can tell because some of them, the people inside are wearing pink hats. They're wearing t- shirts that you can see through the windows. We actually made a quick pit stop at one point and a whole bunch of buses were lined up with women coming out holding their signs. So there is certainly a sense of camaraderie here today. And we're going to feel that even more when we get to Washington, hopefully sooner than later, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brynn, we'll see you here in Washington. Brynn Gingras reporting from the bus on the way.
The march in Boston, by the way, the second largest outside of Washington D.C. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, she's expected to be one of the headline speakers there. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Boston with more on the preparations under way. Miguel? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, when they first launched the
idea for this march in Boston, they expected 25,000 people. Today they say they're expecting over 100,000 people. Those are the people that are registered on their Website. They were going to cross New England and coming into Boston.
I want to give aw sense of what's happening here. It's a bit of a dance party, a bit of a confluence of different groups that have come together her here, over 200 groups across the area are participating in this. Look at the hill here in Boston Common, how people are starting to pack in. It is just enormous. They say they oldest here today will be 96 years old, and they will step off on a very short march, only about a mile long. They're not sure they'll have enough room on that mile to get all the people out. It hasn't even gotten going yet.
What they want is the Trump administration to know that they are watching their every move. They sort of treat this as an organizing event, a national organizing event they say for what they are expecting to be a very tumultuous four years. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Miguel Marquez, reporting from Boston where huge crowds have already gathered. The women's march on Washington also spreading overseas in London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona. They're holding their own rallies. CNN's Nina dos Santos is in London joining us now with more. What's it like over there, Nina?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the crowds are really gathering apace, Wolf. As you can see behind me we've still got people converging upon the streets around Trafalgar square, and Trafalgar square itself, this landmark here that is the end point of that march. It's a two-mile-long march going from the U.S. ambassador at the other end of London towards here near the banks of the Thames. And there's still people reportedly ling the roads, spilling onto the streets here behind me.
Now, officially 42,000 people had signed up to take part in this particular march according to the Facebook page of the organizers, a number we can't confirm and authorities aren't telling us how many people are on the streets here. But as you can see behind me, it is packed.
A lot of people taking issue with some of the things that Donald Trump has said during the campaign, that harshly fought electoral campaign in the United States. But they're also highlighting other issues closer to home, notably a very divisive campaign that saw the U.K. vote for Brexit, for leaving the European Union.
As you can see behind me, they're also protesting the workers' rights. We've got all sorts of people's rights here being represented, women's rights, equality, LGBT issues coming to the fore as well. And as you can see further afield, this is the scene here behind us. It's one of many generations, not just women here. There's a lot of men here, there's a lot of grandparents who have come. There's a lot of people who brought their children and even their pets here. There's a jubilant mood but also one of saying we're going to stand up against some of the rhetoric that we've heard in many political, harshly fought campaigns to make sure that a lot of that rhetoric, Wolf, doesn't turn out to be facts later on. Back to you.
BLITZER: Nina, thank you, Nina dos Santos in London over at Trafalgar Square.
Coming up, we are waiting for President Trump to arrive at the National Cathedral for the prayer service. We'll have coverage of that. But right now you can see America Ferrera, the actress and activist, she is speaking at this woman's march in Washington. I want to listen in.
[10:00:02] AMERICA FERRERA, ACTOR: It has been a heartbreaking time to be a woman and an immigrant in this country. Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack. And the platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday.
But the president is not America.
FERRERA: His cabinet is not America.
FERRERA: Congress is not America.
FERRERA: We are America.
FERRERA: And we are here to stay. We march today for our families and our neighbors, for our future, for the causes we claim and for the causes that claim us. We march today for the moral core of this nation against which our new president is waging a war.
He would like us to forget the words "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," and instead take up a credo of hate, fear, and suspicion of one another. But we are gathered here and across the country and around the world today to say, Mr. Trump, we refuse.
FERRERA: We reject the demonization of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
FERRERA: We demand an end to the systemic murder and incarceration of our black brothers and sisters.
FERRERA: We will not give up our right to safe and legal abortion.
FERRERA: We will not ask our LGBTQ families to go backwards.
FERRERA: We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance.
FERRERA: We won't build walls and we won't see the worst in each other, and we won't turn our backs on the more than 750,000 young immigrants in this country currently protected by DACA. They are hardworking, upstanding, courageous individuals who refuse to live in the shadow of fear and isolation. They bravely took to the streets to declare themselves and to provide a voice and hope for their community. Today we march with and for them.
FERRERA: Together, we, all of us will fight, resist, and oppose every single action that threatens the lives and dignity of any and all of our communities.
FERRERA: Marchers make no mistake -- we are every single one of us under attack. Our safety and freedom are on the chopping block, and we are the only ones who can protect one another. If we do not stand together, march together, fight together for the next four years, then we will lose together.
Our opposition knows how to stick together. They are united in their agenda to hold this country back and to revert progress. It is in their slogan. So we, too, must stand united. If we, the millions of Americans who believe in the common decency, in a greater good, in justice for all, if we fall into the trap of separating ourselves by our causes and our labels, then we will weaken our fight and we will lose. But if we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together steadfast and determined, then we stand a chance at saving the soul of our country.
[10:20:11] So let's march together. And at this point we want everyone to take out their cell phone and text "women" to 40649. Sign up with us so that we can continue to work together. This is only day one in our united movement. So take out your phone and text "women" to 40649. Let's march.
BLITZER: The actress America Ferrera, the activist as well, speaking at this women's march here in Washington, D.C., where thousands and thousands and thousands of people have gathered to protest the new Trump administration. We're told, by the way, the president, President Trump, has arrived
already at this prayer service in Washington at the National Cathedral. The vice president is there as well. They've not yet walked in. They have not yet taken their seats.
I want to go back to Jeff Zeleny outside the National Cathedral. We're balancing our coverage, Jeff, two very different events. The Washington women's march, huge numbers here in Washington, and now this prayer service at this National Cathedral.
ZELENY: Indeed, Wolf, from protest to prayer just across Washington. And President Trump and his family and quite a large motorcade came from the White House here to the National Cathedral in northwest Washington just a short time ago. Several members of this family also will be at this event, Wolf. And this is a traditional moment of reflection and peace, but it certainly has, you know, all of the politics from the bitter and divisive campaigns still infused in all of this.
And President Trump will not be speaking here at the service, but he will be listening. And Wolf, I've been looking through the prayers and the readings that will be given in this hour-long or so service. And several of them hit directly on this divisive nature that we are seeing. So it will be fascinating to watch President Trump from his seat listening to these prayers.
Wolf, one of them that stuck out to me is by the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, the Reverend Randolph Hollerith. And he's going to say this, "Look with compassion on the whole human family, but take away the arrogance and the hatred which infect our hearts. Break down the walls that separate us and unite us in bonds of love to work through our struggle and confusion."
And Wolf, there are several readings and prayers that go on to acknowledge the divisive nature, the divisive moment that Donald Trump is stepping into as he becomes the 45th -- as he is the 45th president of the United States, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll have coverage of this prayer service at the National Cathedral. In fact, we're seeing some family members now walking in from the Trump family. There we see Don Jr. and his family walking in. We see Tiffany Trump and her boyfriend walking in as well. They'll be taking their seats. Eric Trump and his family are coming in as well. You see Secret Service personnel, obviously, at the same time. And presumably momentarily we'll see the president and first lady. The vice president and Karen Pence, they will be walking in as well to participate in this interfaith service at the National Cathedral. We'll have extensive coverage of that coming on.
I want to bring in our panel as we watch these events unfolding right now. Let's see who is walking in right now. It looks like Ivanka Trump is walking in with her three kids and Jared Kushner, who will be senior adviser to the president in the White House. Ivanka Trump is there and Jared Kushner are there. Jared Kushner is Jewish, Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism, and both of them are very observant. They are attending this interfaith prayer service as well. Let's get some analysis here. We've got a good panel as we watch this unfold. Max Stier is joining us. He's president and CEO of Partnerships for Public Service. David Urban is with us, president of the American Continental Group, a major Trump supporter. Maria Cardona is here, a CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist, and David Gergen, our senior political analyst for all the presidential advisers to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton.
Davis, as we see these live pictures coming in from the National Cathedral, this traditional of prayer service, it goes back to George Washington so that the new president is honoring this tradition as we see more people arriving.
[10:25:08] It looks like the vice president, Mike Pence and his wife Karen, they are walking in right now as well, and I'm sure they will be followed by the president and the first lady.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, these traditions we saw unfold yesterday are something, I think it does bind us together as a people and binds us across time. So I think it's good that the president, he has such a large contingent there, but when he comes out the door he has to be aware of some of the large crowds of women who are gathering here. It's an unexpected size crowd. It almost feels like a second inaugural going on right in our midst the day after. I think it really points out to the enormity of what the president faces in trying to bring us together.
BLITZER: Very different pictures, images we've been showing, Maria. We've been showing the women who are here, a lot of men who are demonstrating, marching on Washington. We just heard America Ferrera speak, others will be speaking as well. Hillary Clinton, by the way, she just tweeted a few minutes ago, "Thanks for standing, speaking and marching for our values, women's march important as ever. I truly believe we're always stronger together." Bernie Sanders tweeted "Congratulations to the women marching today. We must go forward to ensure full reproductive justice for all women, #womensmarch."
Very different images, the prayer service we're watching, Maria, and the women's march.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's right. But I think that there is a unifying thread that goes through it. If we heard what Jeff Zeleny was reporting even the things that the interfaith religious leaders were talking about was exactly what we all want in this country, which is to bring people together, to stop the arrogance, to stop the divisive nature of what this whole campaign has been about, and frankly, what so many people up to now they're estimating 500,000 that are going to gather on the mall, what they believe was divisive rhetoric led by Donald Trump the past 18 months and the fact he doesn't done anything to unify in the country including in his inauguration speech yesterday.
So I think that is -- again, underscores, to David's point, the huge challenge that Donald Trump is walking into in his presidency. And up until now I don't think the folks that have felt left out because of the divisive nature of his rhetoric, they haven't seen or heard anything from him that says that he really wants to be the president of everybody.
BLITZER: David Urban, I'm sure you disagree with that. You were a major supporter of Donald Trump, still are a major supporter. You helped him carry the state of Pennsylvania.
DAVID URBAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CONTINENTAL GROUP: Yes, Wolf. And Maria, I disagree. I think that President Trump intends to be the president for all. I think today is a celebration of American values. You have the prayer service on one hand, and on the mall you have hundreds of thousands of Americans exercising their First Amendment right.
BLITZER: I have to interrupt you for a moment. Through see the president of the United States walking in with the first lady of the United States. They're walking in. Everyone has stood in honor of the president. You know what? Let's just listen in. Maybe we can catch a word or two.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to this house of prayer for all people. Welcome to this hour of prayer for our nation, its leaders, and all those who call this land their home. As we mark this moment of political transition, let us all draw strength and courage from the sacred texts and songs and petitions from the many traditions of our land, and may they inspire us always to seek divine assistance, care for one another, and live according to the highest aspiration God calls us as individuals and a nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let all the peoples praise you, oh, God.
CROWD: Let all the peoples praise you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day by day we bless you. Blessed be the one holy and living God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us pray. O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your son. Look with compassion on the whole human family. Take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts. Break down the walls that separate us. Unite us in bonds of love and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth that in your good time all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A reading from the First Book of Kings.
There has never been anyone like you before. Nor will anyone like you arise again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O, Lord, our God, accept the fervent prayers of all your people for our nation and for all those who govern. Lord God almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory to serve you in freedom and in peace. Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will. Keep this nation under your care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almighty and ever living God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, grant to the president, vice president, and members of the cabinet wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties, that they may serve all people of this nation and promote the dignity and freedom of every person. Keep this nation under your care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Lord, God, our heavenly father whose glory is in all the world, we commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guarded by thy providence we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to Donald John Trump, president of the United States, and to all in authority thy grace and favor. Give them wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Imbue them with thy heavenly gifts. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear. Through Jesus Christ our lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.