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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Works on Putting Team Together; Clinton: We Owe Trump 'An Open Mind' and 'Chance to Lead'; Interview with Sen. Tom Cotton; Interview with Rep. Adam Kinzinger; Clinton's Loss Renews Calls To Abolish Electoral College; World Leaders Weigh In On Trump's Election; Trump To Receive Daily, Classified Intel Briefings. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 9, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Transition of power. After a shocking election victory, Donald Trump begins the process of becoming president of the United States. He's considering names for his cabinet and White House staff, and his advisors have delivered plans for his first 100 days.
[17:00:22] Path forward. Hillary Clinton makes a painful concession speech, calling on supporters to focus on the future and give the president-elect a chance to lead.
President Obama, who will welcome Donald Trump to the White House tomorrow, says we are Americans first and should be rooting for Trump to succeed.
Keeping promises. The president-elect has vowed to build a border wall, rip up trade deals, repeal Obamacare and restore American industry. Will a Republican House and Senate give him the muscle to follow through?
And popular vote. Despite losing the electoral count, Hillary Clinton looks like she's won the popular vote. The second time that's happened in the past 16 years. Is it time to rework the way Americans pick our president?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. Hours after Donald Trump's stunning victory, the president-elect is getting ready for his new job. He'll now receive classified briefings. He's looking at candidates for cabinet and White House posts. And Trump's team has delivered plans to kick off his administration.
Hillary Clinton publicly concedes, calling it a painful time for her and millions of her supporters. But she also calls on all Americans to give the president-elect, quote, "an open mind and the chance to lead."
President Obama, who will host Trump at the White House tomorrow, is also calling for reconciliation and a smooth transition, saying we all want what's best for this country. Republicans, who were bitterly divided by Trump's campaign, are
celebrating his upset win and the fact that they managed to keep control of both the House and the Senate. That will allow the president-elect to freely pursue his sweeping agenda, which includes rolling back President Obama's signature programs, and gives him the chance to put his stamp on the U.S. Supreme Court.
I'll speak with two Republican lawmakers this hour, Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Adam Kinzinger. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
His election victory has shocked the nation and the world. And now President-elect Donald Trump is getting ready to lead the nation. Let's begin our coverage with CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll.
Jason, the Trump transition is now under way.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, very much under way. And some familiar names already being floated, like Chris Christie and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, just to name a few.
The question going forward: how is Trump going to lead a very, very divided country?
CARROLL (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump is embracing a new reality, as the next president of the United States.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us -- it's about us -- on our victory. And I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign. And we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.
CARROLL: The president-elect pulling off a stunning victory, capturing the key battleground states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio and blasting through Hillary Clinton's blue wall in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which put him over the top.
TRUMP: As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement, made up of millions of hard- working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their family. It's a movement comprised of American from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.
CARROLL: Trump, the first non-politician to assume the presidency since Dwight Eisenhower, now shifts his focus to the transition to the White House and building a Trump administration. Current RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, one potential option for Trump's chief of staff.
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIR: I haven't thought about it. And right now I'm chairman of the party. I'm excited about that job. CARROLL: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also mentioned as a
possibility for the chief of staff role, with potential cabinet selections including former House Speaker Gingrich, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Jeff Sessions and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
[17:05:05] Starting today, Trump will be offered the daily classified briefings, getting the same high-level intelligence as President Obama, who will welcome Trump to the White House tomorrow.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all want what's best for this country. That's what I heard in Mr. Trump's remarks last night. That's what I heard when I spoke to him, directly. And I was heartened by that. That's what the country needs.
CARROLL: Once Trump takes office in January, he'll have Republican majorities in both houses of Congress to help push through his agenda.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think what Donald Trump just pulled off is an enormous political feat. It's an enormous feat in that he heard those voices that were out there that other people weren't hearing. And he just earned a mandate. And we now just have a unified Republican government.
CARROLL: Despite his overwhelming Electoral College win, Trump still faces the challenge of bringing together a nation bitterly divided by a hard-fought campaign.
TRUMP: Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division. Have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
CARROLL: And though you heard there, Wolf, that -- that what Donald Trump wants to do going forward is have this mandate. But it should also be noted that Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote. Trump saying that he wants to unite this country going forward. It's also very clear that he's got his work cut out for him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He certainly does. Jason, thank you very much. Jason Carroll reporting.
For Hillary Clinton and millions of her supporters, it's a traumatic end to a dream, but in a gracious concession speech, Clinton is calling on Americans to show unity and to support the president-elect. And President Obama is doing the same thing.
Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns. Joe, it was a difficult but dignified moment for Hillary Clinton.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, a very painful speech for Hillary Clinton, Wolf. The fact of the matter is, we're told she was supposed to be heading home here to Chappaqua, New York, after that last painful speech in New York City. She tried to console her supporters, but after that bitter campaign
and the bitter outcome, there was only so much to work with.
CARROLL (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's bid to become the first woman elected president coming to a painful end.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I'm sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.
JOHNS: The Democrat urged the country to embrace Donald Trump as the president-elect and, in an address to supporters and campaign staff in New York, her first public comments since the outcome of the election became clear.
CLINTON: We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.
JOHNS: President Obama echoing that call in remarks from the Rose Garden.
OBAMA: Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team.
JOHNS: The president pledging to make sure the transition to a Trump administration is as seamless as possible.
OBAMA: We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.
JOHNS: Clinton not hiding the impact of the rebuke by voters.
CLINTON: This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this. Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love.
JOHNS: Her voice breaking with emotion as she spoke to young women who believed in her historic candidacy.
CLINTON: To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.
JOHNS: In the end, it was a stunning defeat. Clinton came up well short in the electoral vote count, despite holding a narrow lead in the popular vote, with some still left to be counted. Battleground Florida, one of the big prizes with 29 electoral votes, going red. Same with North Carolina.
Then Clinton's blue firewall crumbled. Trump taking Wisconsin, running strong in Michigan, where the vote is too close to call, and even claiming Pennsylvania, going Republican for the first time since 1988, bringing an end to Clinton's White House hopes.
[17:10:04] The defeat leaving supporters in a state of shock, some in tears, consoling each other. Clinton trying to give them a lift today with her words.
CLINTON: I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will, and hopefully, sooner than we might think right now.
JOHNS: There will be plenty of soul-searching for Democrats in the months ahead. But one of the key questions will be why Hillary Clinton was not able to fully get out the vote of the key demographics that got the current occupant of the White House elected twice -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Joe. Thanks very much. Joe Johns reporting from Chappaqua, New York.
Joining us now, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He's a member of both the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee. He served also in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: My pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: Have you talked to Donald Trump, any of his key advisors over the past 24 hours or so?
COTTON: I spoke with Jeff Sessions earlier today.
BLITZER: Senator Jeff Sessions.
COTTON: Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama. He's become a good friend of mine and a member of the Armed Services Committee with me, a key ally on immigration policy. Haven't spoken to the president-elect yet. He's got a lot of calls from foreign leaders and very busy. I expect to speak to him in the days and add my voice to his congratulations. And look forward to working together.
BLITZER: If he came to you and said, "Senator Cotton, you're a talented guy. I could use you in my administration," what would you -- you're smiling -- what would you say to the president -- he's going to be the president of the United States?
COTTON: Well, I'm very happy in the Senate right now. And he's going to need a lot of allies in the Senate when it comes to rebuilding our military and building a wall and repealing Obamacare. And that's where I expect to be an ally of his.
BLITZER: The majority leader, Mitch McConnell today, your leader, he said, it's -- and I'm quoting now -- "It's always a mistake to misread your mandate."
So assuming that Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States on January 20, and immediately wants to start building that wall and immediately is going to demand that Mexico is going to pay for that wall, where do you stand on that?
COTTON: Well, Donald Trump promised that we're going to build a wall. And we've needed a wall for a long time. We need more than that. We need to enforce our immigration laws, and we need to eliminate sanctuary cities, where cities have illegal immigrants that they don't turn over to federal authorities if they've committed crimes.
We need to have a working employment verification system. Donald Trump promised these things during his campaign. That's one of the reason I think he won such a historic victory. So I strongly support those proposals.
And then we have to move further, I think, and re-evaluate our entire immigration policy. Because right now when we have so many folks who work with their hands, work on their feet, who haven't had a raise in decades in real dollars, we need to rethink whether we should be admitting a million new green card holders a year in this country and a million more visa holders. And whether or not it's better to have a tight labor market with immigrants we have now and native-born Americans to help lift wages for everyone...
BLITZER: So are you with him when he says totally ban Syrian refugees from immigrating to the United States?
COTTON: Well, he said that he's going to undergo extreme vetting.
BLITZER: Well, he said no Syrian refugees, he says. But also extreme vetting for everyone else.
COTTON: We have -- we have to make sure that anyone who comes into this country is not going to be a security risk to Americans.
Also, I think that we need to take stock of whether or not we should be admitting the 14,000, 150,000 refugees that President Obama admitted last year.
You know, just a few years ago the figure was only 50,000 people. It's better to try to keep people who are coming from war-torn lands in their own region and help their countries through skillful diplomacy.
BLITZER: I understand extreme vetting. But are you with him when he says no more Syrian refugees, at least for now?
COTTON: It's very hard to imagine how you can admit Syrians on a one by one basis when they just show up at a refugee camp and say, "We want to come in." Now, I have a proposal that would let Syrian religious minorities into our country in the same way.
BLITZER: You mean, Christians for example? COTTON: Yazidis, Jews or others. Because it's much easier to vet
entire communities which have been displaced because of religious persecution.
BLITZER: As far as the Supreme Court nominee. He's going to have the chance to nominate a Supreme Court nominee. Would you favor what they used to call the nuclear option, preventing a filibuster in order -- that would require 60 votes. You're going to have the Republicans, a very narrow majority in the U.S. Senate. Would you go that far and say, you know what? We're going to do that nuclear option and just have a straight up and down straight majority vote?
COTTON: Wolf, I hope it doesn't come to that. It's been a pretty remarkable 18 hours or so in American politics. The polls just closed about 18 hours ago. And Donald Trump gave a very unifying presidential speech last night. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama gave very gracious speeches today. So I hope that we can move forward together in a spirit of cooperation and address some of the challenges our country faces and that when Donald Trump submits a nominee to the United States Senate for that Supreme Court slot from the list of nominees he's proposed publicly, that we'll have large bipartisan support for that nomination.
BLITZER: The Democrats didn't insist on that nuclear option with Merrick Garland, who the president nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. He never even got a hearing.
COTTON: Well, I think we're in an historic moment in which it had been something like 80 or 100 years since there was a Supreme Court vacancy with -- in the middle of a presidential campaign. And Senator McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said all along the American people would have a chance to speak on this Supreme Court opening. They did. They spoke loudly and clearly. And now we'll have a nominee sometime early next year.
BLITZER: He says -- Donald Trump has said -- and you served in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says, "When it comes to ISIS, I know more," he said, "than the generals do." He says he has a plan to defeat ISIS. He won't reveal it. Doesn't want to tip off ISIS what he has in mind.
He's also saying he's going to convene his top generals and admirals in the first 100 days to come up with another plan. You're a combat veteran. Do you really think he already has a plan? And does he understand this ISIS problem better than the generals do?
COTTON: Well, the thing he certainly understands, that ISIS is Islamic. It's the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. That's something that President Obama and too many other administration officials haven't been willing to say. This is radical Islamic terrorism, not mainly violent extremism.
Now, a particular plan to counteract the Islamic State depends on backs on the ground. And it's going to be another ten weeks before Donald Trump takes office. He will be getting briefings. He will be consulting with our senior military and intelligence officers. I am confident that, whatever the conditions are on the ground come January 20, he'll be able to move forward in aggressive fashion to rip out ISIS, root and branch from the Middle East and eliminate that threat to American citizens.
BLITZER: Who do you think? Who would you recommend to him if he said to you, "Senator, I'm going to have to name someone to be secretary of defense"? Who would you like?
COTTON: Well, there's a lot of possibilities to be secretary of defense, secretary of state. One distinguished American I think we need to get back in service is Marine General John Kelly. Longest serving man in uniform during his 46 years in the Marine Corps. He was the combatant commander for the Southern Command; longest serving man in uniform during his 46 years in the Marine Corps and the most senior military officer to lose a child in this combat -- in this war in Afghanistan.
So whether secretary of defense, secretary of state, national security advisor, John Kelly is an American that needs to be serving our country again.
BLITZER: During the campaign, Donald Trump has said, and it caused a lot of controversy, torture works. He backs waterboarding and he says, much worse.
At the same time he says he won't order the military to commit war crimes, if you will, to beyond international law. Do you agree with him that torture works; and waterboarding and much worse would be a good idea?
COTTON: Waterboarding isn't torture. We do waterboarding to our own soldiers in the military.
BLITZER: That's in training. But the U.S. doesn't do it anymore. They've stopped.
COTTON: But we've done it in the past.
BLITZER: Do you think the U.S. can do it again?
COTTON: And radio DJs volunteer for it. I don't think something people volunteer for is torture.
BLITZER: So you accept waterboarding?
COTTON: If experienced intelligence professionals come to the United States and say, "We think this terrorist has critical information. And we need to obtain it, and this is the only way we can obtain it," that's a tough call. But the presidency is a tough job. And if you're not willing to make those tough calls, then you shouldn't seek the office. Donald Trump is a pretty tough guy, and I think he's ready to make those tough calls.
BLITZER: The Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, today said -- he called on Donald Trump today to make good on his promise to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I asked Donald Trump about that back in march. Listen to this clip from the interview on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Will you recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
TRUMP: The answer is yes, I would.
BLITZER: When? How quickly after you become...
TRUMP: Fairly quickly. I mean, it's a process, but fairly quickly. I mean, the fact is I would like to see it moved, and I would like to see it in Jerusalem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As you know, throughout Israel's history, no American president, Democrat or a Republican, has moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Do you think Donald Trump actually will live up to that promise he just made?
COTTON: Yes. I think the president-elect should keep that promise and move the embassy to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. Everyone knows that; everyone acknowledges that. That will be part of a final negotiated peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It's best that we live in the world of fact, not the world of fantasy. In the world of fact, Jerusalem is the capital. The president-elect should move the embassy to Jerusalem.
BLITZER: And the angry reaction that would result in the Arab world, the Muslim world if the U.S. were to do it? As you know, almost all countries keep their embassies in Tel Aviv. They don't move the embassies to Jerusalem.
COTTON: Well, that's in part because of the failed -- failure of U.S. leadership on this question over the years.
But -- in the past eight years, a lot of the Arab states have actually become much closer allies in Israel because of the threat that's posed to them by Iran and Iran-backed regime -- or regimes in Syria and terrorist groups on their borders.
So I actually think the response would be much more muted than you might expect.
BLITZER: And one final thing on the alleged torture issue, waterboard. You're college John McCain, who himself was tortured as a POW during the Vietnam War, he says waterboarding is a violation of the Geneva Convention's international law right now. And he strongly opposes it.
COTTON: I understand his position, but I disagree. Now, as a matter of federal law, it might have to change if the president was to take this policy and the president-elect would have to come to Congress. But ultimately, I would say that anything that American troops volunteer for, that radio DJs volunteer for, is not torture. And if it has to be done to save American lives, that's a tough call.
BLITZER: Because if you're violating the Geneva Conventions, you could be charged with war crimes.
COTTON: Well, America -- America is charged with a lot that is scandalous in my eyes by countries like Iran, and Syria and other gross human rights abusers. America does not torture. We never have, and we never will.
BLITZER: All right, Senator. Thanks very much for joining us.
COTTON: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator Cotton. Looking forward, I'm sure you are, to the president-elect of the United States.
Now we've spoken with a member of the United States Senate. Let's switch focus to the other side of Capitol Hill, a key member of the House of Representatives. Joining us now, Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: You bet, Wolf, thanks. Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: You served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well. You didn't support Donald Trump, but today you came out with this statement. Let me read a sentence or two from the statement that you put out.
"I applaud our president-elect, Donald Trump, and look forward to working with his administration in Congress. As a country, we must look at this election as an opportunity to rally together, to move our country forward."
You've been in disagreement with Trump's international stances on several issues. As you know, he's vowed to diminish the U.S. commitment to NATO unless the NATO allies pay a whole lot more, wants to rip up NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. If he does these kinds of things, will you support him?
KINZINGER: Well, you know, look, I'll be very supportive of Donald Trump in areas where I agree. But just as I was elected to do, to represent the 16th district of Illinois, I will, no matter who's president, stand strong for what I think is a strong U.S. foreign policy, strong commitment to NATO, pushing back against Russian encroachment in Europe and elsewhere, solving the situation in Syria.
I'm supportive now of Donald Trump as president, because we have an opportunity to do a lot of great things, and I'm excited about that. But I will continue to stand strong when it comes to issues like -- like foreign policy. And I'll tell you, the moment you get elected as president, I guess -- I've obviously never been elected as president, but there is a huge weight of the world that comes onto your shoulders. And now it goes from, in theory, where you're having a campaign, to in reality, where you realize things like Syria and Russia, there's people's lives on the line; and you're now the one everybody is looking at.
So I would assume and hope that, as he's beginning his transition, he's really studying these issues; and I'll continue to be there to help him through them if he asks.
BLITZER: And he's now getting these daily national security intelligence briefings, as well, from indeed the most secret, the most classified information. A lot of people in the administration right now are hoping that, over the course of the next two and a half months as he gets the briefings, maybe his views on some of these sensitive issues will modify, will change, if you will.
I want to get your thought. You did not support Trump during the -- during the campaign. A Trump surrogate, "The Apprentice" star Omarosa, she said that the Trump campaign is keeping a list of enemies. You said you couldn't support Trump during the campaign. Do you think you might be on that so-called list of enemies?
KINZINGER: Maybe. I'm on -- I'm on a lot of people's enemies lists, I'm sure, all over the place.
No, look. I'm excited. I think, you know, the night of the election, there's a lot of emotion. You know, people are upset. You get some of the Trump supporters that were upset with me. I understand it. I mean, I've had to live that every day. And, you know, you have people that are upset. And so in that emotion, it's kind of like, OK, it's time for some payback.
But I think the next morning -- and this is how I feel today. It's like this is an opportunity to unify the country.
First, you know, Trump's job, if he wants to have a legacy and pass some big things, which I hope he does and believe he does, he's going to have to unify his party.
And then secondly, we're going to have to unify the country. We're going to have to reach across the aisle to Democrats and say, "You know, look, hey, we want to work on things like tax reform," or work on the national deficit, or how do we get an infrastructure bill and, you know, all these big issues. And we'd love to have some Democratic buy-in, not just for politics, but it's good for the American people.
Because, you know, like with Obamacare in 2009 and '10, there was no Republican support for that. And it was an albatross around the president's neck for many years after. I think the way to do good government, even if you have all the levers of government, is to do your best to reach the other side of the aisle. You may not always find agreement, but I think you always ought to try to find agreement.
BLITZER: Do you believe that Donald Trump -- he said he wants to get together with Republicans in addition to Democrats, he says, and independents. Do you actually think a Trump White House will embrace you, reach out to you and try to work with you?
KINZINGER: Well, that's on them. You know, I'm not -- I'm not going to go out and beg for it. I understand everything. But I am committed to unifying this party. I am committed to supporting the areas of Donald Trump that he wants to move forward with our agenda.
[17:25:25:11] Again, as I said, no matter who was president, whether it was Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or somebody else, I'll continue to stand strong on issues of national defense and speak out for the voiceless, for instance, in Syria that are taking barrel bombs every day from helicopters indiscriminately bombing them, or the Russian doing the same.
So I'm going to continue to be as bold and aggressive as a congressman as I have always tried to be, and you know, that's up to the Trump campaign or the Trump president-elect, I guess, infrastructure now, but I am there to support the next president in every way I can.
BLITZER: And national security, just very quickly. Are you with Donald Trump and Senator Cotton, for that matter, when it comes to waterboarding?
KINZINGER: Well, I agree to an extent with Senator Cotton on that, whereas, in extreme times it ought to be an option. But I think, when it comes to waterboarding, it's not something we ought to revert to in the very first case.
He is true. We do use enhanced interrogation techniques, what are so- called enhanced interrogation techniques, against even -- you know, when I go through survival training with the military, for instance.
So I think it ought to be a tool in the pocket, but I don't think anybody would advocate -- and I certainly wouldn't advocate -- using that and much worse as kind of a frontline way to get intelligence. We actually see that the best way to gather intelligence is through developing a relationship with whoever you're interrogating. Frankly, that's what breaks people more than anything.
BLITZER: Do you see the House speaker, Paul Ryan, keeping his speakership in a Trump presidency?
KINZINGER: I do, and I certainly hope so. I think it would be really beneficial for that endorsement of Paul Ryan to be made. I support him. I think Paul Ryan and Donald Trump have had some probably really good conversations since.
And again, if I'm in Donald Trump's position, my goal now is to say, OK, we have to achieve some big things. And the infighting in the party that's been very real has got to stop, and we have to unify around these principles.
And so I think Paul Ryan survives. He definitely has my support. And I think the party can move forward united.
BLITZER: As I said earlier, you're an Iraq War veteran. Trump said he knows more about ISIS than the generals do. Do you think -- do you think he really has a plan in mind? He won't reveal it. Do you think he knows more how to defeat ISIS than the generals do?
KINZINGER: I don't think anybody knows more than our generals in terms of strategies, tactics, and bringing in State Department to understand building alliances outside of just kinetic military action and how groups in Iraq and what groups you can support.
My guess is, in the heat of the campaign, that's just something that was said. But I think he understands that, look, he wants to defeat ISIS. You know, what are we doing that works? What are we doing that hasn't worked? What next steps do we need to take?
And I fully expect President-elect Trump will convene the people that know all this the best, whether it's the diplomatic side, whether it's the military side, and come up with a plan to crush this cancer and be on the alert for the next iteration of ISIS that's certain to come eventually.
BLITZER: Do you think the U.S. military would support a Trump plan? We don't know what the Trump plan would be. But let's say he comes up in the first 100 days with a Trump plan that is not necessarily conventional. Do you think the military over at the Pentagon, the joint chiefs, would automatically support what their commander in chief tells them to do?
KINZINGER: Yes. That's their job. And, you know, they work for the commander in chief. They defend the Constitution. Obviously, still being in the military, these men and women are heroes, and they'll do what they're told.
You know, when it comes to the joint chief level, I mean, obviously, they'll give the president some input, some pushback when developing that plan. But ultimately, we understand as military members -- and when I'm on military status -- that I work for the commander in chief, and the commander in chief sets the policies.
Look, there's a lot of stuff President Obama has done overseas in military that the military kind of shakes their head at and say, "Why are we doing things this way?" Or "Why aren't we taking the fight more to the enemy somewhere else"? But they act heroically no matter who that is.
That's what's great about our country. We have civilian leadership of our military. We don't worry about coups like you see in other countries. And we have a peaceful, great transition, power transition that will occur.
And both candidates, by the way, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, gave very humble and frankly inspiring speeches, and I was glad to see that.
BLITZER: And Ash Carter, the secretary of defense wrote a letter today, a memorandum to all Defense Department employees, civilian and military, saying, "I am committed to overseeing the orderly transition to the next commander in chief," promising to work very closely very closely with Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United states.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
KINZINGER: You bet, Wolf. Thanks a lot. Take care.
BLITZER: All right. We've got some breaking news. The Democrats pick up another seat in the United States Senate. CNN now projects that Maggie Hassan has defeated the incumbent New Hampshire Republican Senator, Kelly Ayotte. Senator Ayotte has now conceded. We're going to have much more on this developing story. That's coming up.
[17:30:02] Also coming up, Hillary Clinton lost the presidency because of the Electoral College, but it looks now as if she actually won the popular nationwide vote. The second time that's happened in the past 16 years. Is it now time to change how to elect a president?
And Democrats say they'll try to work with Donald Trump. But as the president-elect gets ready to push forward his sweeping agenda, is there room for compromise?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Our Constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. And we don't just respect that. We cherish it.
It also enshrines other things. The rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. The Democrats pick up another seat in the U.S. Senate. CNN now projects that Maggie Hassan has defeated New Hampshire Republican senator, the incumbent Kelly Ayotte. Senator Ayotte has now conceded, as well.
[18:35:04] Look at this. The balance of power in the U.S. Senate now is closer. Republicans have 51 seats. Democrats have 48. One state, Louisiana, is still left to call. It's headed for a runoff. But presumably, a Republican in Louisiana would be elected. That would bring the final balance of power in the U.S. Senate 52 Republicans, 48 Democrats. Remember, of those 48 Democrats, two independents who caucus with -- with the Democrats.
Also breaking, the transition from President Obama to President-elect Donald Trump. This afternoon the president promised to work closely with Trump's team to assure a smooth transfer of power, despite their many differences. Both men will meet face-to-face at the White House tomorrow.
Let's get some insight from our political experts. David Chalian, I'll start with you. Can Donald Trump govern the way he campaigned?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Wow. Questions about can Donald Trump do "X" the way he did "Y" are tricky, because I didn't know -- I don't many of us thought he would be able to win the presidency the way that he conducted his campaign.
BLITZER: A lot of people didn't think he could win the Republican nomination.
CHALIAN: Right. So -- so I am aware of that, and I'm careful to say that.
I do think that anybody who wins the presidency finds that to be a transformative experience in some way from the campaign trail. And there is a transition, not just the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next, but there is a transition from candidate to president-elect to president.
And I'm very eager to watch Donald Trump. I thought last night he hit some notes in his speech that indicated he seems aware that that transition is on its way. And I'm very eager to see if, indeed, some of the red meat that you toss out on the campaign trail is left behind on the campaign trail and that a slightly different approach comes into the...
BLITZER: Dana, he was very gracious last night to Hillary Clinton.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He was.
BLITZER: He thanked her for her service over the years, says you know, he wants to work together for all of the American people, you know. So he sounds -- at least sounded the right note last night. A lot of the note that the -- President Obama, Hillary Clinton, they sounded the same thing.
But also what's clear -- and you look at all the exit polls, the American people are angry. A lot of them are angry. They want change. Can he deliver on those commitments he made?
BASH: That is the key question. And just sort of following Donald Trump for the past year and a half and sort of, you know, studying a little bit of how he operates and his approach to things, winning -- and he says this very explicitly -- winning is No. 1. He's done that, getting the presidency.
But it's not just that. And I do think he understands that. It's about making it a successful term, however long he's going to be there. If he wins another.
But starting with right now, I actually think he has a lot of running room and kind of breathing space, because not only does he have a Republican Congress, he has a Republican Congress suddenly sort of not scared of their own shadows with regard to the base, because they know that the base is very supportive of the new president.
Therefore, if the new president says, you know what? Let's make a deal on immigration reform, the Nixon in China situation, they won't say, "No, no, no" like they did to John Boehner or to Paul Ryan or to any other Republican leader, because they're worried about getting a primary from the right.
BLITZER: Like John McCain, who...
BASH: Or John McCain. Or George W. Bush, exactly.
BLITZER: ... in that whole matter. Mark, his biggest campaign promises, and there were many of them --
building the wall, repealing Obamacare, negotiating new trade agreements, ending NAFTA, if you will, creating jobs, with a Republican House and a Republican Senate, are those goals within reach?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Trade deals are certainly going to be a lot different, I think, than what we've seen so far. And we've already heard from Mitch McConnell, who has said that TPP will not come up I the lame duck.
So that's one, I think, that we'll see will be low-hanging fruit in some ways for him.
Look, Obamacare feels like it's going the way of repeal in some way, shape or form. How will it reconstitute, I don't think any of us know, because we won't go into the weeds. But the legislative process to get rid of it is a lot easier than trying to get a new one passed. So we'll see how that goes.
And what we saw, in foreign policy, there's a lot of questions on foreign policy. But there is a possibility that we're going to see the embassy, the U.S. embassy in Israel move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which will be earth-shattering in many ways, given what our policy has been over there with the two-state solution.
BLITZER: Yes, the U.S. does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel, for that matter. That's why the U.S. has not moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But Donald Trump says he's going to do it and do it very quickly. We shall see.
I want you to listen, Rebecca. President Obama, he campaigned very harshly against Donald Trump over these past several months, but today he sort of had a brand-new tone. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day, after we have to remember that we're actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We're not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We're patriots first. We all want what's best for this country.
[17:35:21] That's what I heard in Mr. Trump's remarks last night. That's what I heard when I spoke to him, directly. And I was heartened by that. That's what the country needs. A sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope residency has a chance to begin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Very nice words from the president last night. Very nice words from Donald Trump. Is there a chance that Democrats are going to work together with this new Republican administration?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think certainly there is an incentive, at least, to try to soothe people for right now, because you have seen the divisions in this election. There is the potential for great unrest in the aftermath of this election, if our elected officials and especially leaders like President Obama and Hillary Clinton didn't come out and try to soothe people. We're already seeing protests.
But there is, if, you know, things were to devolve, there is potential for more. And so it's important to hear this message from the leaders of the Democratic Party.
But in terms of moving forward the potential for any sort of bipartisan cooperation, Democrats might actually be optimistic when it comes to Donald Trump, because in many ways, he's not a traditional Republican. He's certainly not an ideologue. He's kind of been all over the place on some policies.
And last night at his victory party in New York I asked Congressman Peter King, one of his supporters, the congressman from New York, where could he possibly go in terms of policy early on in his presidency? And King told me he thinks that Donald Trump, early on, should push for some sort of bipartisan policy to be implemented like infrastructure spending. And this is something that actually Nancy Pelosi brought up today, as well. So that might be one...
CHALIAN: He mentioned it in his remarks last night.
BERG: Exactly. So that might be where this is going.
BLITZER: Maybe that would be a gesture, but an important one.
BERG: A gesture of good faith.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by.
I want to show our viewers the latest popular vote total right. Hillary Clinton remains a couple of hundred thousand votes ahead of Donald Trump nationwide, but she's still losing the election. because it's the Electoral College. not the popular national vote. that determines who becomes president and who wins.
CNN -- CNN's Brian Todd has been taking a closer look at this. Brian, does it look like this process the United States has, the Electoral College process, is going to change? Will it ever change? There's been some momentum from that over many years, but nothing has really changed.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Tonight, there is kind of a renewed push for it to change, especially among Democrats, because they've been burned by the Electoral College twice in the past 16 years.
But for now, it looks like Americans are going to have to endure the system, which is not seen anywhere else in the world. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): Hillary Clinton might not have lost everything.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE-PRESIDENT NOMINEE: Last night won the popular vote of Americans.
TODD: Secretary Clinton will likely win the popular vote for president; could end up capturing more individual votes nationwide than Donald Trump by the narrowest of margins. But because Trump won the necessary number of Electoral College votes, he'll become America's 45th president. And tonight, that's a formula under fire.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There are a lot of Democrats, especially, who -- who will question the fairness of the current system of the Electoral College.
TODD: For the second time in 16 years, a Democratic candidate for president won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College and lost the election.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We won the national popular vote.
TODD: It happened to Al Gore in 2000.
Three times in the 1800s a candidate won the popular vote but lost the presidency because of the Electoral College. Trump himself, now set to take the Oval Office because of this strange system, once blasted it, tweeting in 2012, the day Mitt Romney lost, "The Electoral College is a disaster for democracy."
Under the Electoral College system, in all but two states, a candidate who wins the most votes gets all of that state's electoral votes. A candidate can win millions of individual votes in a state like Florida, like Clinton did, and still lose all that state's electoral votes, because they lost the popular vote there.
So a candidate like Clinton, whose voters are all concentrated in a few states, won't score well in the end. And states with smaller populations get disproportionate influence while larger, more populated states can sometimes have less influence. What party does that favor?
[17:45:00] GERGEN: The Republicans would like to keep the system. It works well for them.
DR. LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: There is a Republican bias in the Electoral College simply because, in the modern era, Republicans carry most of the smaller states.
TODD,(voice-over): Why did the founding fathers create this system?
SABATO: They feared mob rule. At the time when the Electoral College was put into the Constitution, there was no popular vote for President.
TODD (voice-over): But tonight experts say, like it or not, we're probably stuck with this quirky arrangement.
SABATO: This is not going to be changed. As I like to say, the Electoral College will be abolished on the 12th of never.
TODD: That's because, to get rid of the Electoral College, you'd have to have a constitutional amendment passed by two-thirds of each House of Congress, and then 38 of the 50 State Legislatures would have to ratify it. That means several senators and congressmen, many from small states, would have to vote for it, and experts say they're not about to vote to reduce their state's power. Wolf.
BLITZER: Because he, so far, doesn't seem to have won the popular vote, is Donald Trump seen as weakened, potentially, politically?
TODD: Some believe he is tonight, Wolf. Some analysts say because he may have indeed lost the popular vote, that Trump doesn't have that sweeping mandate to the effective as President. But our analyst, David Gergen, says he doesn't think Trump's going to be weakened politically very much. And he's got so much popular support to bring change, and he's got that Republican Congress behind him coming in January.
BLITZER: Yes. I've heard talk of getting rid of the Electoral College for a long time. And I agree, it's not going to happen. All those smaller states would lose a lot of influence and a lot power. So get ready for the Electoral College in four years, eight years, and way down the road. Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Coming up. World leaders including Vladimir Putin are reaching out to President-elect Donald Trump. So what's the agenda behind the Russian leader's latest message to Trump?
[17:50:44] BLITZER: As President-elect Donald Trump gets ready for his new job, world leaders are weighing in on his stunning election victory and what it might mean for America's friends and foes.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto's been looking into this for us. Jim, what's the mood around the world?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, the world has certainly been watching this election closely from the beginning and is reacting now with a combination of genuine surprise. In Japan today, for instance, newspapers felt the need to publish short explainers of exactly how Trump won. But also uncertainty. Allies and adversaries alike, from Japan, South Korea, and NATO to China and Russia, just don't know what exactly a Trump foreign policy looks like, though some do have particularly high hopes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Applause in the Russian Parliament, even champagne toast to Donald Trump's victory. Putin's allies and then Putin himself congratulating Trump just hours after his presidential win, pledging to improve ties with the U.S.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION (through translator): Russia is ready and wants to restore full-fledged relations with the U.S. We understand this won't be an easy path, but we are ready to play our part in it.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): As Russia, a growing U.S. adversary, spoke of a cozier relationship, U.S. allies around the world expressed nervousness. Faced with a nuclear-armed North Korea, South Korea, stung by Trump's questioning during the campaign of the U.S. defense of Seoul, convened a National Security Council meeting.
PARK GEUN-HYE, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA (through translator): I'm calling your utmost efforts and unwavering work to maintain the U.S. and South Korea's strong position against North Korea to solve the North's nuclear issue.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): NATO, jolted by Trump's criticisms of alliance members' military contributions, so its Secretary General announced he will find a way to work with Trump.
JENS STOLTENBBERG, SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO: I will discuss with President-elect Trump the way forward regarding how NATO shall continue to respond to a new and more challenging security environment.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): As U.S. troop support Iraqi forces in a bloody battle to reclaim the city of Mosul from ISIS, an operation that Trump called a total disaster, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted, "Congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump," before adding, "Look forward to continued U.S. support for Iraq in the war against terror."
And to Iran, just months into a nuclear deal that Donald Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail to dismantle, made a public point of arguing the nuclear agreement depends on more than just the next U.S. President.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF IRAN (through translator): The future U.S. President-elect is obliged to stay committed to this, not bilateral but multilateral nuclear deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: A leading member of the Russian Parliament told CNN today that he believes Trump will pursue policies friendly to Russia, specifically overturning those economic sanctions for its invasion of Crimea and Ukraine. Not clear how or why he knows that.
Another Kremlin adviser said, and this caught our attention, quote, "Maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks." As you know, the U.S. intelligence community has pointed its finger at Russia for, at least, the hacked e-mails that lead to those WikiLeaks releases. Whether that's anything of an admission, not clear.
BLITZER: It's interesting. Since the Republican convention, Trump has been receiving occasional briefings from the U.S. intelligence community, not at the highest classified level. But now, now that he is President-elect, over this period between now and January 20th when he's sworn in as the next President of the United States, he's going to get daily national security briefings, right, at the highest levels?
SCIUTTO: That's right. He's basically going to get what the President gets, the PDB as it's known, the President's daily brief. And it will have the most classified information. Up until now, he and Hillary Clinton -- Trump and Hillary Clinton got a broad overview, you know, classified information, but didn't, for instance, get into sources and methods, intercepted communications, covert operations.
Now, he's going to get all of that. He's going to get the latest information, for instance, on terror threats to Americans abroad, here in the U.S. And he will certainly get, Wolf -- and this is important, he'll get the latest intelligence on what Russia is up to in terms of cyber-attacks and what their involvement was in the hacking of the Democratic e-mails.
[17:55:09] And, as you know, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly disparaged those assessments.
BLITZER: Even though, during some of the earlier less secure briefings, he was told the same thing.
BLITZER: But he didn't buy that. We'll see how he buys --
SCIUTTO: Now, arguably, he'll see more proof.
BLITZER: Let's see if that changes his position. Thanks very much. Jim Sciutto reporting for us.
Coming up, our breaking news. After a stunning election victory, Donald Trump begins the process of becoming the next President of the United States. He is considering names for his cabinet and White House staff, and his advisers have already delivered plans for his first 100 days.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. The thrill of victory. Only hours after his astounding election upset, Donald Trump is beginning his transition to the White House. The President-elect, now being briefed on national security secrets and zeroing in on possible cabinet picks. We're getting new details about the road ahead.
And the agony of defeat. Hillary Clinton delivers an emotional concession speech urging supporters to keep an open mind about the man who crushed her presidential dream. Are Democrats really ready to give Trump a chance?