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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Arrives at White House to Meet with Obama; First Lady to Welcome Incoming First Lady to White House; Ash Carter: Military Will Work with Trump Team; Trump to Meet with House, Senate Leaders. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired November 10, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the question of special -- you know what's happening in the country. Donald Trump won fair and square. Donald Trump will be the president- elect. But we live in a divided America. A lot of people are anxious about this.
On that specific question, he said should I name a special prosecutor as I said in the campaign, would you say, sir, go ahead? You promised that? Or sir, maybe you should leave that in the campaign and have a different tone as president?
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I tell you, I think he laid out a lot of things, solutions and policies and priorities. The counsel that I would give him is to focus on a lot of those things that are going to unite us as a country, make the country better, lift people out of poverty, create jobs, reform health care. He has a lot of things on that agenda. Beyond that, I would keep my advice to him very private.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think he's going to, on day one, January 20th, 2017, only a few weeks from now, Sean, that he's going to start on day one and issue a series of executive orders eliminating a lot of the decisions, executive actions that President Obama took, whether on immigration, climate change, sensitive issues like that?
SPICER: I think he's got about two s until that difficult in January where he raises his hand and puts his other on the bible and gets sworn in as president to lay out that agenda and figure out what exactly needs to come first, second or third. But I'm going to tell you now that there's no question that starting day one, he is going to make it very clear that this is going to be an administration that is not going to stand for the status quo and is going to change the way that this government operates to make people's lives better. You are going to notice it on day one. I don't want to lay out and I'm not going to prejudge how he wants to do it or exactly the way in which he wants to do it but I know this. On day one, you are going to feel a positive impact for this country because Mike Pence and Donald Trump have become the president and vice president of this country.
BLITZER: I know you had a very, very busy role in the campaign and you were up in New York over at Trump Tower trying to help get him elected. Do you have a specific role, I know you work at the RNC, during this transition that you are going to be working on, helping Chris Christie, the governor of new jersey, who is in charge of the transition, do you have a specific role right now, Sean?
SPICER: No, I don't. I will do what I'm asked. 2=ok, I'm honored -- I'm honored to have been part of it, but there's a lot of great people in Trump Tower that have really worked hard and across the country, frankly, putting up signs and advising and creating policy. So, I think all of them want to be part of this historic opportunity and wherever he or his team asks, I know people $,
BLITZER: One final question before I let you go. Were you stunned that he won?
I was a bit shocked by the depth and breadth of it. When you saw some of the counties come in that Obama had won 52-47, 51-48, some Wisconsin counties, the Michigan counties, places where we knew we would do well, we had seen the surge, but sort of in a couple of the areas frankly you watched these counties flip, and it really spoke to the depth and breadth of the change and movement that he was spearheading.
BLITZER: Sean Spicer, chief strategist, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, thanks very much for joining us.
SPICER: Thank you, Wolf.
Thank you, John.
BLITZER: We are going to take another quick break. We're waiting to go into the Oval Office at the White House, right behind where we are right now. The president and president-elect, they are meeting right now. Towards the end of their meeting they will invite camera crews, reporters in. They will make statements, the president and the president-elect. We will get live coverage of that and share it with you, of course.
Much more special coverage on this historic day in Washington after this.
[11:38:07] BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage. Take a look at the live picture coming in from the White House right now. Inside the White House, inside the Oval Office, the president-elect of the United States Donald Trump is being received by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, their first meeting during this transition process. Presumably, there will be more down the road leading up to January 20th of next year, only a few weeks from now, when Donald Trump will be inaugurated, sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Our camera crews are getting ready to go into the Oval Office. Reporters will be going in there as well. President Obama will make a statement, President-elect Donald Trump statement. We will see if they answer reporters' questions. We will, of course, have coverage of all of that.
The incoming first lady, Melania Trump, is also being received right now by Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States. Presumably we will see both of them at some point as well.
In the meantime, as we await the statements from the president and the president-elect, our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us.
Barbara, yesterday, Ash Carter, the defense secretary, said he wants everyone at the Pentagon, military and civilian personnel, to work together with the incoming Trump team to make sure there's a smooth transition. What are you hearing?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you would expect, there's a lot of chatter up and down the Pentagon hallways. L would say the top curiosity here is who will be the new secretary of defense. A lot of names being thrown around. Nobody's hearing anything very definitive yet.
One of the big underlying questions so many senior people in the U.S. military have quite remarkably is who is this new commander-in-chief that they will have. They have seen Donald Trump's statements on the campaign trail, talking about waterboarding, talking about bombing with little regard to civilian casualties, talking about taking the oil in Iraq. All of these things potentially very serious violations of international law, violations of the Geneva Conventions. Quite remarkably, they want to know is that the Donald Trump that is the new commander-in-chief or will he ratchet back once he takes office. Nobody wants to contemplate having to deal with illegal orders from any president of the United States. So, that's a big question.
But now, President-elect Trump really beginning to understand what is coming at him because the intelligence community very much preparing to give him a very comprehensive set of briefings, not just the daily intelligence briefing about what is going on in the world, but the so- called crown jewels, how does the military, how does the CIA, how does the U.S. government spy and collect information around the world to keep this country safe. That may be a very sobering prospect for any president-elect -- Wolf?
[11:45:50] BLITZER: Let's not forget during the campaign, Donald Trump said that when it comes to fighting ISIS, he knows more than the generals do. I assume that did not go over all that well where you are,
STARR: Yeah. You know, some people I suspect see it as campaign rhetoric, but deep inside, who are the generals in the U.S. military today? Most of these people have served multiple combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, around the world. They have been away from their families for years. They have buried their troops at Arlington Cemetery. So, these people feel these things, very heart-felt. They feel that they are giving the president, any president of the United States, their best military advice.
It just really has to be said, this is a military totally loyal to any commander-in-chief. Of course, there is civilian control of the military in this country but very much the generals will be waiting to see everything they can, learn everything they can about Donald Trump - Wolf? BLITZER: Barbara at the Pentagon. Barbara Starr reporting.
Kim Dozier is our global affairs analyst.
There are hundreds of jobs that will have to be filled by the incoming president, when it comes to national security, the national Security Council, elsewhere at the State Department, the Pentagon. What are you hearing, Kim, because lot of speculation, lot of names out there?
KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Wolf, I'm hearing that they are scrambling to gather the resumes they need to fill up to positions that require top-secret security clearance. Now, initially, about three weeks ago, a month ago, they had a few hundred names for people who would take top posts, posts like secretary of defense. But when they looked at their internal polling and realizing that they might win, they started reaching out further. And within the hours since Donald Trump has been named president-elect, I'm hearing that even since the publication of a story I wrote about this transition process, they are getting flooded with resumes, but from a different group of people than are normally applying for these kind of jobs, a lot of people from the military contractor world, retired military types who have a top-secret clearance and have been frustrated by what they perceive as the Obama administration's sort of weak or lackluster campaign against Islamic militancy and extremism. A change from the previous administration or Washington as we know it because you might have a surge of people in these jobs who haven't done them before.
BLITZER: Kimberly, stand by. We will get back to you as well.
John King is here with me.
John, I want to point out the Marine guard standing outside that door at the West Wing of the White House. Tell our viewers the history $ere.
KINGT: It's the Marine outside the West Wing, that means the president is in the West Wing. It's one of the ways when you cover the White House you know if the president is, quote, unquote, "on the job. The president works 24/7. I don't mean that disrespectfully. If the Marine is there, you know the president has come over from the residence and is actually in the West Wing. The president is in the West Wing.
This is the back door of the White House, if you will. This is the door, this is the part of the White House Americans see every day, if you watch the White House. But the South Portico where Donald Trump came in, that's the entrance to the White House, looking at the Mall, at the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. If you think of your home, lot of people come in the back door. You park the car in the garage, come up the driveway, go in the back or the side. That's the back door of the White House. But it's the working side of the White House, if you will. That's where the West Wing is. You walk in that wing there, the reception desk, and take a few steps, and you are in the president's office. You are where the chief of staff is.
That's what Donald Trump's learning today, what is business going to be like. He has an office in the Trump Tower his staff is around him. Well, he's about to be leader of the free world and that will be his office.
Then as we talked earlier, people remember where the president was yesterday, in the Rose Garden, the place where the president often uses the bully pulpit. How Donald Trump handles communicating with the American people and the world is one of the fascinating questions we have after this campaign in which he was so provocative, in which he said those things Barbara Starr was just talking about that alarmed the Pentagon. Let's see what a president Trump and how he's different from Candidate Trump.
[11:45:12] But we do know he's a very effective communicator. He likes to use the media and his own statements to communicate. He will do a lot of that in the Rose Garden, especially on beautiful days like this in the nation's capital. The majesty of the White House is going to be introduced to Donald Trump today. And no matter how successful you are, no matter your track record, when you walk into the Oval Office, you walk out into the rose over to the residence, which will be Donald Trump's home. It's both a museum -- as Kate was saying, it's both an office and a museum all at once. It's a majestic place. We worked there together for years. Even when you come in in a grumpy mood, when traffic was horrible, your coffee doesn't taste right, you walk into that building and -- I'm in the White House. It's just a majestic wonderful amazing place.
I think both of these leaders, we will hear from thein a few minutes, I'm sure they are having a substantive conversation about how the job works but also just an historic conversation about this is America.
BLITZER: In the seven years when I was CNN senior White House correspondent, you are absolutely right, you go through that gate in the north side of the White House, walk down that driveway, you sort of -- I did it all the time, pinching myself, here I am a kid from Buffalo, New York, you are a kid from Boston, and we are covering the White House. I'm sure Donald Trump as much as he's a billionaire and knows so much about world affairs, he's pinching himself right now that he's sitting in the Oval Office with the president of the United States.
KING: You are reminded, this is a very less perspective, we are correspondents, covering the White House. He will be president of the United States. But you come to work many days thinking today's story is going to be Social Security reform, or the president setting up his budget or this, and you are -- literally, I remember days walking down the driveway to do live shot on some issue and getting a frantic phone call, North Korea just launched a missile or some world leader has done this or the financial markets are crashing. The unpredictability of the awesome responsibility Donald Trump is about to assume, I assume that is the biggest message President Obama will convey today because that's the message George H.W. Bush gave to Bill Clinton, that Bill Clinton gave to George W. Bush. Democrats or Republicans, Republicans or Democrat, yes, there are partisan differences but you are the keeper of that amazing building and that building represents the job and responsibility you have to the nation and to the world. BLITZER: A few days ago, the president was ridiculing Donald Trump on
the campaign trail, saying his aides took away his access to Twitter and now he wants to have access to the nuclear codes. Hear a very different genre from both of these men coming up in a few minutes.
KIKNG: Absolutely. That's important. Look, we -- I remember covering the Bush to Obama transition. Was a little more messy, not between the two leaders, but between the staffs. It was very different for George W. Bush to come into the White House because he grew up in the White House. He was around the White House for years, eight years of the Reagan presidency and four years of the George H.W. Bush presidency. That was very different in terms of familiarity with how it works. Bill Clinton had been a governor. Reagan had been a governor.
Donald Trump is the first president in American history who has not served in the military or any government position. That's just a fact. So, he has a lot to learn. That's not a criticism. He has a lot to bring. He has an outsider's perspective. He has business experience. But he does have a lot to learn about the nuts and bolts of government, the levers of government.
I think one of the things he's going to learn quickly is that during the campaign, he would say things and he might dominate the news cycle for 24 hours. A president can move financial markets. A president can change geopolitics around the world with a sentence. That's the first part of learning to be comfortable in the job and how you want to conduct yourself in the job.
BLITZER: Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is with us.
Gloria, you have covered a lot of these transitions over the years as well. This is an historic moment. I'm anxious to get your thoughts because the president of the United States and the president-elect are going to be speaking not only to the American people but to the world$, in a few minutes.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. In how long their conversation continues, because that will give us an indication of whether they are having a real substantive conversation or whether Barack Obama is being polite, showing him around the place, letting him in on what his schedule is like every day.
One thing John was talking about, Donald Trump is kind of used to living above the store. He's got his offices in Trump Tower. So, he's used to not having a commute to work. That part of it won't be odd for him because that is the situation the president of the United States is in. I think what will be different for Donald Trump. And I don't know if he's ever been to the White House before. Maybe you guys know. I'm not quite sure whether he's done the tour or has been invited as a social guest to a state dinner. I really don't know.
What struck me in visiting the offices of Donald Trump, is that it's pretty informal. That he is always in his suit and tie. But the offices are kind of -- you know, some folk's offices are a mess and it's -- there's not the formality of the White House, I mean, nowhere has the formality of the White House. I think that will strike Donald Trump. He likes to kind of shout out at his assistants, get me this, get me that. That's not the way it works in the Oval Office. At least we don't think so.
[11:50:33] So the thing all of us are struck into the White House is that sort of way, it's kind of hushed and the way -- how formal it is. And the military there that you're seeing there outside. And the -- it's not so much the grandeur of the place as it really is the nature of the fact that people are there to protect this person as he goes through his day to day job, and everything he does, everything he does, is important. It's not like he goes downstairs and into one of his restaurants and, you know, has lunch. This is a completely different environment. Which is why those of us who have worked there and covered the White House, like you guys or me, who has been a visitor there many times to talk to sources, I'm just always struck by the solemnity of the place and the seriousness of purpose inside the White House every single day.
So, I'm very curious about this meeting and how Donald Trump will be coming out of it. He is who he is. As he told us on the campaign trail, he's not going to change. The question is how does the White House adapt to Donald Trump, and, and vice versa.
BLITZER: Good point, Dana -- Gloria, I should say. Good point, Gloria.
Stay with us.
We're awaiting the first images of Donald Trump and President Obama. The president-elect of the United States and the president of the United States. They are now in the Oval Office. You see that Marine guard outside the West Wing. The president is in the West Wing. Whenever you see that Marine guard there, you know the president is somewhere in the West Wing. We now know he is in the Oval Office with the president-elect of the United States. They're getting ready to meet with reporters. Camera crews will come in. Momentarily, we'll get the first statements, the first images from the president-elect and the president.
We'll be right back.
[11:55:50] BLITZER: Welcome back. A few minutes away from the first images of the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, being sketched in the Oval Office by the president of it is United States, Barack Obama. They've been meeting since the top of the hour, almost an hour since Donald Trump and his entourage arrived at the White House. Melania Trump, the incoming first lady, is meeting with Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, at the same time. We were going to be watching all of this very closely. We'll, of course, have complete coverage of the statements that the president and the president elect will be making shortly. Stay with us for that.
Dana Bash is with us. Dana, you know, we're going to be studying every little nuance that
comes out of this. The body language. The statements. The words, if you will. It's going to be fascinating, not only for those of us who are journalists, but for people out there around the country, indeed, around the world, how are these two men going to get together, and how will they behave
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLTICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, you know, not only would you and I want to be a fly on the wall, we almost would want to be inside their brains, what their inside voices are saying to one another.
But, you know, you and I were talking about sort of the access issue and the ability for the press there to capture history. It was unfortunate we didn't get that kind of iconic picture of president- elect Donald Trump coming in to the South Lawn like we saw of Bill Clinton in 1992 and being greeted in the Rose Garden by the president. But I am reminded by a White House aide that there was no photo op of the president-elect, Barack Obama, with then-President George W. Bush in the Oval Office, which will happen today. They're meeting we understand the White House pool has gone at least towards the Oval. It's unclear if they're actually in the Oval. But we will get that picture today.
And to your point, that image not only will we be studying it, but I think the fact that they decided to do this in the Oval Office for people to see the two of them together but to see Donald Trump actually sitting in the place where he will make some of the most important consequential decisions of his life and, more importantly, the life of, you know, 300-plus million Americans over and over again, is quite important to the modern story of a peaceful transition.
BLITZER: Donald Trump is going to be the commander-in-chief. And he will have control over the millions of young men and women, potentially, active-duty Reservists who are serving in the United States military. I'm sure the president is underscoring that enormous responsibility --
BASH: I'm sure.
BLITZER: -- during their meeting in the Oval Office right now.
Dana, stay with us.
Josh Holmes is with us as well, former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader.
I understand after Donald Trump leaves the White House, he'll head up to Capitol Hill. He'll meet with the speak of the House, Paul Ryan. He's had sort of a testy relationship with him. Also, meet with Mitch McConnell. The relationship hasn't been that great with him either.
Set the scene for us, Josh, how is that meeting going to unfold, because the president-elect, once he's president, he's going to rely on the Republican leadership of the House and Senate to get the job done, to pass the legislation he promised the American people he would recommend.
JOSH HOLMES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL: That's absolutely right. These are amongst the most important meetings that he's going to have. And as you said, Wolf, everything he talked about in the campaign and the agenda for the first 100 days and beyond is going to be reliant on that relationship that he has with both speaker Ryan, and Majority Leader McConnell.
I think this is a good positive first step. Obviously, some of this is formality in that you've got to go up and meet with folks. This is a relationship that I think there's a lot of lessons to be learned of the Obama administration in 2009. They did not spend a ton of time on Capitol Hill between the time that he was elected and by the time he was inaugurated in January. And those relationships never really were fully formed. And I think that an in-coming Trump administration, both in terms of their appointments to the cabinet, in terms of staff, and in terms of the --