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Inauguration of Donald Trump. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 21, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: It is 1 AM here in Washington and you are watching a special live edition of CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Poppy Harlow and this is the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. The final inaugural ball wrapped a short time ago. The new president and first lady dancing Frank Sinatra's My Way, a fitting choice for a man who has certainly forged a unique and his very own path to the White House. Before the ball, President Trump managed to squeeze in some work at the Oval Office. He signed an executive order related to the repeal of Obamacare. He also reversed the cut on federal mortgage insurance premiums that President Obama had just announced earlier this month.
So far, only two of Trump's cabinet picks have been confirmed, including Defense Secretary James Mattis. This, as a fight looms over the rest of his nominees. We have all of it covered including, of course, the fashion, live tonight from Capitol Hill. We begin right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear -
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
So to all Americans, in every city near and far, hear these words: You will never be ignored again.
We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together, we will make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: You're looking at live pictures of the White House and the first family are spending their first night. There won't be any sleeping in, though, because in just nine short hours, President Trump, Vice President Pence and their families will attend a prayer service at the National Cathedral. I'm signaling to my crew because I am hearing myself. At the very same time, tens of thousands of anti-Trump protesters will gather at the capital for the women's march on Washington with sister marchers planned across the country.
Let's bring in my panel with me. Robert P. Jones, Founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute and the author of The End of White Christian America; Tim Naftali, CNN Presidential Historian; Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist; Sara Murray, CNN White House Correspondent; Mark Preston, CNN Senior Political Analyst; Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist; Andre Bauer, CNN political commentator and former lieutenant governor of South Carolina; and Wajahat Ali, a contributor for "The New York Times."
Guys, thank you all - that's like eight panel at 1 o' clock in the morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HARLOW: Not really, not really. Mark Preston, let me begin with you. You know, when you think about where this inaugural speech will go down in history, this address, this was populist. This was not particularly conservative. This was - I think will become known to many as sort of the American Carnage speech where he says the American carnage stops here. It doesn't matter what side of the political aisle you are on, you are not on the right side of Donald Trump in this speech because he said you have both - both parties have failed the American people.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You are not on the right side of Donald Trump unless you are one of the folks that are standing out there in the drizzle, looking up at him on the US Capitol where he just lambasted former presidents, Republicans and Democrats alike, you know. It was a populist message that had a collision with a sense of nationalism as well. It was this collision course between these ideas where, as you pointed out, he not only went after Democrats, he went after Republicans.
HARLOW: Of course, he did. Some say more so than, say, George W. Bush than others.
PRESTON: No doubt. And then, for our viewers around the world right now that are watching, not only did he go after our enemies, he went after our allies. He talked about how he was going to form new alliances around the world. He was going to rethink what America's role is when it comes to democracy. And I've got to tell you, for me, I thought it was a very dark speech for half of America that voted for him. They probably embraced it. But it really does come down to one simple thing. Can he deliver? And you know what? We'll have to see in the next few weeks, the next few months.
HARLOW: The Trump promise. Sara, he said, 'You will no longer be ignored. This is your day. 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation.' If we thought that this president was going to pivot when he became president, he's not. SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I don't know why we keep thinking that all of a sudden we're going to wake up one day and Donald Trump is going to be a different person. This speech, it had a few more rhetorical flourishes than we're used to seeing. It was more honed, it was more edited. This is Donald Trump stump speech. I heard it every single day for over a year on the campaign trail. This is what he campaigned on. This is what won him the presidency. And he was never going to come out and try to offer the kind of unifying speech or, you know, something we might've heard from President Barack Obama because that's not how Donald Trump thinks. He knows he's not going to show up and win over hearts and minds of people who disagree with him in a 20-minute address. He feels like he will win them over by following through on this agenda that he will go up there in six months, in a year and say look at all of these jobs I have created, look at your pay check, now can you get behind me?
HARLOW: So to that point, Alice, because he and his team - and his team certainly said in the weeks leading up to this that this was going to be a speech of unity. And you had, you know, some lawmakers pointing out - and granted, some of them Democrats, pointing out that this was not a speech that necessarily spoke to or mentioned the Americans that did not vote for him. He did not get up there and say, for those of you who did not vote for me, for those of you who may be disappointed today, here is what I promise to try to do for you. Should he have done that? Did that surprise you?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he did when he stressed that America is at its greatest when America is unified. And I think that resonated with people. And to Mark's point, this speech and this address was for those people standing out there. This is the first time I've ever had the opportunity to listen to a speech actually out there as opposed to in a newsroom or someplace else. And the people really connected mostly with that line you mentioned that today is the day the people are the rulers of this nation.
HARLOW: It is the people's house after all.
STEWART: They clapped emphatically to that, as well as the forgotten will be forgotten no more. And so, this is something that really connected with the base. They appreciated the America - the importance for American strength and working together and certainly they all talked with him in the very last line, it is time to make America great again. So, he was really speaking to them, but also the need to use unify.
HARLOW: As the presidential historian, Tim here with us, there was not a great nod to history, there was a repudiation of politicians on both sides of the aisle, and there was a very clear populist message, but not a lot of history in it. Did that surprise you?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes. In fact, it's the first inaugural address that had no references to any historical events, no battles described, no times in our history. The sense was that American history was to begin on January 20, 2017. I want to point out a grace note that was missing. One of the ways to show unity is to show respect for the person you're following. When Barack Obama gave his inaugural speech in 2009, the first thing he did was to thank George W. Bush for his service to the country.
HARLOW: He did say the Obamas have been magnificent.
NAFTALI: In the transition. You basically gave us tea on time.
NAFTALI: The point is, this was an opportunity to send a message that we work together. And the last thing I would mention is that I think one of the things that we will remember from the speech is that it's the first annunciation of the Trump doctrine. Yes, it's a repeat of things he said on the campaign trail, but when you're a campaigner, it's different from being president. Now that language is freighted with more meaning. And today, when he talked about America first is our guiding principle in the international arena, that's the Trump doctrine.
HARLOW: But you're talking about all presidents we've known in the past. And as we've all said, this is a president unlike any other. Robert, to you, the president is not known as a particularly religious president, although we did see him talk about his religion on the campaign trail a bit. You say that this inaugural address has the most exclusively Christian rhetoric of any in recent memory.
ROBERT P. JONES, FOUNDER AND CEO, PUBLIC RELIGION RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Well, I won't say that - it's the entire inaugural ceremony. And what's important is that the speech is situated actually between usually prayers. And this actually set a record for the number of religious leaders on the platform at six. It's usually one or two. But even though there was this kind of - lot of numbers there, it also set a record for the number of times that Jesus Christ was mentioned before and after this very explicitly Christian and sectarian rhetoric that in the past actually has caused some controversy when it's come up. Franklin Graham, for example, when he previously gave an address, caused a fair amount of controversy. And the reason for that is that as soon as you say things like Franklin Graham said is that there is no other mediator between God and man except our Lord Jesus Christ, about a third of the country can no longer identify with that statement. So, in the same way that I think the ignored people you're not going to be ignored again inside the speech really was talking to his base, not really to everyone. In the same way, those prayers I think echoed in a religious register, a very similar sentiment, right, back to his base, back to his conservative white Christian base that really just put him at the top. But at the same time, the thing that an inaugural is supposed to do is it's a ritual, right? It's a ritual moment. And so, he legally becomes the president, but the ritual performance is what makes him embody the presidency, right? And there, I think he didn't get there.
HARLOW: Wajahat, to you, in his speech, he specifically used the term radical Islamic terror. Something that President Obama refused to do, that he was criticized for by a number of conservatives, your take when you heard that in the context?
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, as one of the ignored members of the communities, I certainly don't feel great again after that speech. I wanted to really feel great again, but it was interesting that he makes a lot of these promises. And one of the promises was that he's going to be unite the civilized world to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, which is interesting considering that ISIS and Al Qaeda are currently celebrating Trump's victory publicly. They wanted him to win. Why? Based on his rhetoric, based on his policies such as the Muslim registry, the temporary ban of Muslims, it's interesting for this speech he had a moment of reconciliation, to reach out to the majority of Americans who did not vote for him. I did not hear that. I heard the America first, which was, of course, a take from UKIP British first, which is a far right nationalistic message. And most of us felt ignored by this message. Unlike Kellyanne Conway, I cannot see through Donald Trump's heart. I'm not a cardiologist. I'm not Dr. Strange. I don't have powers. I take him by his words, his rhetoric, his policies. He called Muslims - he said Islam - Islam hates us. Not just radical Islam, Islam hates us.
HARLOW: What did he need to say to not win you over, but get you on the path to acceptance?
ALI: Well, the thing - you know, he had an opportunity here. I would love to have heard that I'm the president for all Americans. Muslim Americans, mention them by name. The Mexicans who he called rapists and criminals,, mention them by name. The women who he offended, mention them by name, their contributions. And mention, just like George W. Bush did, who probably would not be elected today because he'd seen as too pro-Muslim that immigrants and Islam are a contributing positive factor in the force of the American fabric. He did not say that.
HARLOW: We've got to get to a break. Before I do, I want to get you guys in very quickly. Maria Cardona, talking about unity and unifying people, some 60 Democrats did not show up. They boycotted. Not exactly an olive branch.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it underscores what we have seen up until now, which is, you know, today, he did have a great opportunity to unify the country. He did not do that. But he also has had an opportunity since he got elected on November.
HARLOW: Let's wait and see if he - well, it's only a few hours into his presidency.
CARDONA: Well, how long have we been saying.
HARLOW: Well, let's wait - well, you know what, now he's the president of all Americans. We have to wait and see. Andre Bauer, I just want to quickly play what he said about Twitter. Of course, he talked about Twitter on his first night as president at one of the inaugural balls. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Should I keep the Twitter going or not? Keep it going? I think so. I think so. Yes. The enemies keep saying, oh, that's terrible. But, you know, it's a way of bypassing dishonest media, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So, Andre, the tweets are here to stay.
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Probably so. And they're a very powerful tool for him. Lincoln had a practice where, when he wrote a letter, he put it in his desk drawer, sat for a while before he mailed it out and sometimes he did mail that letter out. I would like to see Donald Trump have the same practice.
HARLOW: There's actually a filter, I think, through Gmail where you can let it like (INAUDIBLE) send an email that then makes you stop.
BAUER: It's a very powerful thing for him and it's great. But there are times when it probably doesn't service him as well as it could. I just had an image of (INAUDIBLE) of tweeting.
BAUER: With emojis or no? Would he use emojis.
HARLOW: Guys, stick around. We have a lot more to get to tonight. We're just getting started with the special live coverage of CNN - CNN's special live coverage of Donald Trump's inauguration. A lot ahead this hour. The latest on his cabinet picks and why 96% of the key executive branch positions are still to be filled. Also, the world is reacting to Donald Trump. We'll take you to cities across the globe. And later, the dresses and the dance. Behind the scenes of Friday's inaugural ball.
But, first, a remarkable moment from today. The Obamas' departure from Washington after a friendly good bye to the new president and first lady. Possibly, the more clear image of a peaceful transfer of a power. Back in a moment.
HARLOW: Welcome back live to Washington DC on President Trump's inauguration day. The Senate confirmed Trump's first two cabinet members. James Mattis sworn in as defense secretary Friday as well as General John Kelly sworn in as secretary of homeland security. Both retired generals. President Trump celebrated their confirmations at the Armed Services Ball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just want to tell you that General Mattis was just approved by the Senate. First one. General Kelly was just approved by the Senate. And isn't this something? Two generals are the first ones. With all the people and all the politicians, the generals got approved first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Trump's presidency begins without a full national security team, though. Republicans wanted CIA Director Mike Pompeo confirmed today. Some Democrats objected stating no CIA director in history has ever been confirmed on Inauguration Day. The Senate said they will vote on Pompeo's nomination on Monday.
My panel is back with me. Also, joining us is politics reporter, Eugene Scott and Salena Zito, "Washington Examiner" reporter and columnist for "The New York Post." When we look at all of this, Salena, let me begin with you and just look at the numbers and what we know factually. President Obama, President George W. Bush, each had seven level positions in place by today. OK, the president - President Trump has two. He's got a long way to go. Is this a cause for concern or is the greater concern the fact that you've got 96% of those executive branch positions still open. That's who are the people that are running the government.
SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. That's more of a concern. I think by the end of next week that the rest of his cabinet picks are probably going to be confirmed. It's going to be incredibly difficult for the Democrats to stall it. They can make it hard. They can, you know, nudge at them, but I don't think at the end of the day that - there's no indication none of them are going to not get confirmed by the end of next week.
HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) he hasn't made a decision on Tillerson, but they can (INAUDIBLE).
ZITO: I think that might be what happened. There might be some positioning going on right there with that. So, I'm not convinced that they don't get confirmed. And the bigger problem is what you talked about, the people - you know, that squishy middle that actually run things every day.
HARLOW: You've got, Andre, so far only 4% of those 690 key executive branch positions have been filled. You've got some people from the Obama administration staying over to sort of fill the gap for now. Does that concern you?
BAUER: Well, historically, what most presidents do is they cherry pick the best and the brightest within the chain.
HARLOW: But, you generally - you know you generally don't have 96% of these positions.
BAUER: You've got a businessman now that is vetting people and he is getting the best and brightest. The two generals confirmed today, those are what are called mustangs. Those are things that never ever, ever happen. Both of those guys did not come from service academies and they rose to the rise of general, which absolutely doesn't happen. You ask a troop, a basic training guy, that's what they aspire to be because it never happens.
HARLOW: Look, there are a lot of Democrats who love the Mattis pick. I'm not questioning. What I am saying is what do you with, you know, over 600 open positions and the government has got to function on Monday?
BAUER: But they're going to get there with the best people that he can absolutely find anywhere in the country. HARLOW: So, I wonder, Alice, are we going to see some more ladies joining because when you - let's look at the cabinet makeup here because when you look at his cabinet nominees and picks, you've got 13 white men, you've got two women. And when you look by race, you've got 14 white people, one African-American, one Asian, no Hispanics even when Hispanics represent 17% of the country right now. Sean Spicer said that is a "very narrow way to look at it." I don't know what he means by that because those are the facts.
STEWART: When he elaborated on that response, what he was referring to was there was a lot of people in the administration, not necessarily at the top - in the cabinet positions, but underneath there, that is a good cross reference and mix of the populations.
HARLOW: But, as you know, those are not front-facing, public-facing positions.
STEWART: But at the same time, we're not finished yet. There are still some people that need to be appointed and moved into place, and Sean did reinforce and stress that they are working to get diversity. But at the same time, to Andre's point, they are working to get the best of the best. They are not looking to get someone right here, right now, they are looking to get someone who is the best. And it is unfortunate that the Democrats are slow-rolling some of these. In particular, Pompeo, who need to flesh out the national security team. As Sen. Cotton, let's hope the jihadis take the weekend off because we've got some work that we have to finish up with the help of Democrats and that should happen on Monday.
HARLOW: Eugene, you know, Alice makes the point that not everyone is in position. But he has made the nominees for almost all of these top positions, for all of the top positions. So, the chances of getting much more diverse a cabinet at this point are nil, aren't they?
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Not at that top level. I mean, what we have is what we will probably have at best. Now, what Mr. Spice said is that when we look further down, we could see more diversity in that. But the optics of putting people of color at positions only when they are at lower parts of the government as opposed to the highest, it's alarming. It's not just that there's no Latinos nominated for the cabinet, it's that - this has happened in like 30 years despite the progress that has been made in terms of diversity in government. Time will tell if there is some change in this. Spicer said there will be, but we will be watching.
HARLOW: And the president made in his remarks, in his inaugural address today, he talked about no matter what color we are, we all bleed the same blood. And that's not reflected in these picks, Tim.
NAFTALI: It isn't. And, I mean, he's going to have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I think a very interesting question when we're talking about the national security team is whether President Trump is going to back away from his current position that anybody who has signed a letter saying never Trump cannot be in his national security team, some very fine Republican foreign policy experts are not getting into this administration because of this apparent ban. And that would fill the second and third tiers in the national security team.
HARLOW: One thing that I found interesting, Maria, is that General Mattis said when he was asked about this in his confirmation hearings, will you disagree with the then President-Elect on certain things, he said you don't want the tyranny of consensus of a group. It's actually healthy. It's not tidy. I thought that was a really interesting point. I mean, don't you want really smart people around you arguing about the best path and then US Commander-in-Chief choose?
CARDONA: Yes, absolutely. And you've mentioned this earlier, Mattis, I think, is one of the picks that calms Democrats and that calms folks who were very concerned, for example, about General Flynn, who, you know, a lot of people think he's actually a danger to national security because of what he has said and done in the past. So, Mattis, I think, is one of those folks who does reassure Democrats and those who oppose Trump.
But I want to go back to the diversity piece because as a Latina, I have to underscore how egregious this is. Since 1988 - Ronald Reagan was the first one to put a Latino in his cabinet. There has been multiple Latinos on his cabinet, but not just that. You have only three women. You have one African-American, one Asian, and zero Latinos. And when Sean Spicer says things like, well, but he's got the best and brightest, that is an insult to these communities of color when they keep saying, oh, but he's going to have - he has the best and brightest and not just anybody. That is such an insult to these communities because, in fact, he is saying that he doesn't believe that people from those communities represent the best interests.
HARLOW: All right. So what's done is done, right? And you all have your opinions on it. Wajahat, what can he do from here on this issue of diversity?