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Gov. Haley Being Considered for Secretary of State; Trump to Meet Japanese Prime Minister; Clinton's First Speech Since Concession; Upton Not Pleased With Verlander Snub. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2016 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A surprising candidate emerges as a potential Trump cabinet pick. She used to be a big Trump critic.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Foreign affairs today at the Trump Tower. For the first time, a world leader meets with the new president-elect in person.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know many of you are deeply disappointed by the results of the election. I am, too. More than I can ever express.


ROMANS: Hillary Clinton gives her first public speech since her concession address last week.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. It is Thursday, November 17th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And new this morning, Donald Trump is considering the governor of South Carolina for the role of secretary of state despite their stormy history. That is the word from the transition source. Nikki Haley is set to meet with the president-elect later today at Trump Tower. She spent most of the primary season slamming Trump and backing Marco Rubio. That is until Trump won the Republican nomination and Haley reluctantly said that she would vote for him.

In the meantime, the transition team, it is putting some new teeth into Trump's promise to drain the swamp as the statement goes, announcing overnight that any registered lobbyist would have to unregister before they could be vetted for a senior job. They would also be banned from lobbying for five years after leaving government service.

CNN's Sara Murray has the very latest for us on the Trump transition.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Christine and George.

Donald Trump spent Wednesday ensconced in Trump Tower, taking visits from his top aides and also from his family members.

[05:00:02] But while all of that was happening, some of his top staffers were pushing back on the notion that his transition was in disarray. They're particularly hitting back hard at the idea that Jared Kushner is shaking up some of the transition staffers and ousting others as a way of getting revenge for the fact that Chris Christie put his father in jail.

In fact, they are saying that Donald Trump was taking a look at some of the staffers in the transition, his top aides were and saying these weren't necessarily the kinds of people they wanted running government. That they wanted to get the lobbyists out and others, they felt, simply weren't doing their job. Now, they are insistent things are calm, that they're organized and that different agencies in Washington, D.C. will see landing teams to get the work of the Trump administration starting in the coming days.

But not all of Donald Trump's visitors were necessarily admirers. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a liberal Democrat, stopped by with a warning.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: I tried to express to him how much fear there is, how much fear there is in communities all over this city. A whole range of people in the biggest city in the country who are fearful about this current dynamic, and how we need to see things that will give people more assurance, that all New Yorkers and all Americans will be respected.

MURRAY: Yet another reminder as Trump's top staff is working around the clock to staff a government, Trump himself may have some work to do to continue to unite the country.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Sara, thank you.

Later today, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe becomes the first world leader to meet with President-elect Trump. Abe says he is eager to build trust with Trump, to safeguard their decades old alliance between the two countries. During the campaign, Trump argued the U.S. should withdraw its military from Japan and South Korea and that those two countries should obtain nuclear weapons to protect themselves from North Korea. Top aides to Abe say members of the transition team have told them, do not take all of Trump's remarks literally.

HOWELL: That is interesting, as far as world leaders are concerned.

A top Republican official claims President-elect Trump is committed to making sure his conflict of interests are all cleared up by the time he takes office. Trump has talked about setting up a blind trust and then turning that over, turning his over to his children. But critics say that the president-elect is not addressing obvious conflicts. Something the RNC chief strategist insists will be cleaned up.



REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHIEF STRATEGIST: Everybody is well aware of Donald Trump's successes of his holdings. This is part of why he was elected. I think people have looked at him as a successful businessman, and I think they were going to have a great presidency that he will do whatever it takes to make sure all of those conflicts of interests are resolved properly and legally, and that the assets are handed down and the company run by the kids, as he mentioned.


HOWELL: Legal experts tell CNN if Trump transfers his assets to his children and puts them in charge of his corporation, that does not meet the definition of a blind trust.

And that's the thing, Christine. I mean, if you are talking to your children, your relatives or whatever, you still have some access and interest in what happens in your business. You're not supposed to make money in government.

ROMANS: It's just such a high profile business. It's not as if its assets that can be traded or put in place and not paid attention to or not seeing, you know, like in the case of Mitt Romney, he had a lot of holdings around the world that would have been put into a blind trust overseen by a trustee who would have made the decisions for him. Mitt Romney would have not known what he had in that portfolio.

Let's break everything down that's happening in Trump Tower and in Washington right now. CNN politics digital managing editor Zachary Wolf joins us now.

And, you know, just this whole -- Zach, good morning. This whole discussion about blind trust or turning the reins of the business over to his kids, to the fact that, you know, he has a brand new big hotel just down the street from the White House. I think it just really highlights how we've never had a president like President-elect Trump.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR: Obviously, we have been talking about that for more than a year now, the possibility or the idea that he is so different than anybody who has been in politics. I mean, his business not only is it large, it's complicated. We don't know everything about it. We don't know, you know, who all he has loans to or from, or, you know, there are just so much. We haven't seen his tax returns.

So, you know, the idea he needs to have an arm' length from the business I think is obvious to most people. But how exactly that will happen, there is no rule book for this for anyone.

HOWELL: Let's talk about the development now seeing with New York's Chuck Schumer will be one of the lead Democrats to, you know, basically stand for, you know, Democratic issues against the new Republican Trump administration. I want to hear what Schumer had to say and how he defines it himself.

Let's take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We're ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with Republicans, working with soon-to-President Trump on issues where we agree. But we will go toe-to-toe against the president-elect whenever our values or the progress we've made is under assault.


[05:05:07] HOWELL: And, obviously, these two know each other. They have a history. I remember even Schumer defending Donald Trump when the issue of New York values came up, when Ted Cruz made that statement back during the primaries. But how will this relationship go between these people who have a deep history?

WOLF: I think we have to see what kind of President Trump shows up to see how it goes. We know there's going to be Republican Congress and there's going to be a Republican Senate. They're going to be trying to move a lot of legislation. So, something tells me it's going to be more toe-to-toe than shoulder-to-shoulder, as Chuck Schumer points out.

I think a lot of people -- a lot of Americans might not know who Chuck Schumer is. When Barack Obama leaves office, he's going to be the most high profile official Democrat in the country after Hillary Clinton lost and Democrats weren't able to flip the House or the Senate.

So, he's going to be the face of the party in a lot of ways, and he's going to represent their ability to -- I mean, he says they will work with Republicans, I'm sure that's true. But probably, a lot more functionally, he's going to be the guy standing in the way of all of these things that Donald Trump and the Republicans want to do.

ROMANS: Late yesterday afternoon, there was this photo-op between Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, his wife, and the current vice president and his wife in Washington. And I want to listen to this a little bit from this, because it -- to me, it was sort of Joe Biden continuing the president's trend of a couple of days ago, or tone of a couple days ago trying to almost will on to this new administration gravitas and stability. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No administration is ready on day one. We weren't ready on day one. I never met one that's ever been ready in day one. But I'm confident on day one everything will be in good hands.


ROMANS: And the question that was shouted from the reporter was, are they going to be ready to go on day one? I mean, there's all of the talk on the transition turmoil. Transitions are always full of turmoil. I mean, when Obama was elected, we're in the middle of financial crisis. They had to stack this cabinet in the time when the marketing were in freefall and jobs are being lost. It's always in turmoil.

What do you make of Joe Biden trying to calm those fears?

WOLF: I mean, Joe Biden is known for kind of saying things, things that pop into his head, I guess. And that's sort of what's on everybody's mind is, are they going to be ready, you know? Joe Biden is plain spoken. He is trying to be reassuring about it.

But there are some real questions. I mean, never before has an administration, at least not in modern times, come in and been so at odds with major parts of its party and had such -- sort of a shallow bench, I guess, of people, of supporters to call on for cabinet positions. There's not a lot of obvious choices for a lot of these positions because so many people were opposed to Trump during the primary and then during the general campaign from his own party as well.

So, it's just a totally unique situation yet again. We're not sure what's going to happen. We are starting to get to the point where you're wondering, you're looking at your watch and you are wondering, when are they going to start appointing some of these people, when are they going to start talking seriously about Senate confirmation fights for some of these people, things like that.

HOWELL: You know, so, world leaders are reaching out to the president-elect. Shinzo Abe of Japan will be meeting with Donald Trump. And it's interesting here, because apparently, he is being told by his aides to take the president-elect literally. And such an interesting concept for world leaders who, you know, every word matters.

WOLF: Certainly, every word matters, I think with world leaders and Donald Trump, this is something they'll probably have to repeat over and over again, especially considering his rhetoric over the campaign. I mean, you know, just getting beyond Japan, he had said that Japan should have -- consider having nuclear weapons. I don't think that's something they want to do to protect themselves. I think they are more interested in working with the U.S. and other nuclear countries. So, there's that.

There is also his rhetoric about Muslim countries. He's going to have to tell them, well, maybe I didn't quite mean all that stuff or not. It will be interesting to see how it plays out certainly on the world stage. But, again, we're sensing a theme here never before.

HOWELL: Never before.

All right. Thanks so much, Zach. Nice to see you. We'll talk to you again in a few minutes, OK?

HOWELL: New remarks overnight from Hillary Clinton. Her first public speech since she conceded to Donald Trump last week. Clinton spoke at a gala for the Children's Defense Fund. That's the organization where she started her legal career back in the early '70s. The former presidential candidate admitted that it wasn't the easiest thing for her to come to the event, but she urged her supporters to stay strong in the face of the Trump administration.

CNN's Joe Johns was there and has this report for us.


[05:10:00]JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and George, Hillary Clinton going back to her roots with a speech before the Children's Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., the first speech she has given her concession speech at the New Yorker hotel after that crushing defeat by Donald Trump. She did not mention the president-elect by name. It was intended to be an encouragement for her supporters to stay the course in public life.

CLINTON: I know this isn't easy. I know that over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was. The divisions laid bear by this election run deep.

But please listen to me when I say this -- America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country. Fight for our values and never, ever give up.

JOHNS: Secretary Clinton agreed to make the appearance before the election. The Children's Defense Fund happens to be the first group Bill Clinton spoke to after he was elected president -- Christine and George.


ROMANS: All right. Joe Johns, thank you.

Americans are signing up for Obamacare, despite the president-elect's promise to get rid of it. One million people signed up for health insurance through the federal exchange in the first 12 days of that's more than this time last year. And the pace picked up after the election, with 300,000 people selecting plans in the three days after Trump won.

The White House posted this video on YouTube yesterday. The president, current president, President Obama, encouraging people to enroll.

You know, even if Trump repeals and replaces the law, as he promises to, customers may not see changes until next year. And Trump is suggesting he will likely keep the rules on pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans until they are 26.

We're in a middle of open enrolment for this. If you need insurance, you know, log on, shop around. Even if you enrolled last year, there are changes for 2017. Your current plan may not be the cheapest next year. So, you've got to check your options here. But, you know, a lot of people are arguing about Obamacare. Some of the premiums are really rising quickly. You cannot plan when premiums are rising like this. But, you know, he promised to repeal and replace it. But the parts of Obamacare that are so important, the pre-existing conditions and the kids --

HOWELL: Right, the parts that are working.

ROMANS: Right, those are probably not going to go away. Many are saying, that's what Obamacare really is, you know?

HOWELL: Right.

ROMANS: So, you can repeal and replace Obamacare and replace it with what essentially is Obamacare.

HOWELL: Right, or just reform or tweak some things, I guess.

Speaking of the current president, President Obama is in Germany for final meeting with his closest political ally, Angela Merkel. These two leaders have forged a legacy over the last eight years. But with Donald Trump now taking office soon, what will become of that legacy?

A live report from Berlin as EARLY START continues.


[05:17:07] ROMANS: President Obama is in Berlin this morning, preparing to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally he calls his closest international partner. Obama and Merkel faced many challenges together over the past eight years. I mean, the global financial crisis was one, climate change, recovery and issues in Europe.

But with Donald Trump about to assume office, the legacy they forged is on the line.

Let's go live to Berlin and bring in CNN's Atika Shubert.

Good morning, Atika.


While President Obama is here, he and Chancellor Merkel actually put out a joint editorial this week really appealing for a defense of globalization, those trade and security agreements they worked hard for in the last eight years and now that Donald Trump has threatened to upend.

What they're basically arguing is that, you know, these countries work better together, to resist the sort of nationalist, isolationist urge that Trump's election has really given a boost to those far-right nationalist movements here in Europe.

So, in many ways, Obama is handing over to Merkel to carry on their legacy, to protect their legacy. You can kind of think of Merkel as the anti-Trump, the strong woman leader who is very cautious, pragmatic, always chooses her words carefully, and she is the strongest leader in Europe to sort of defend those liberal democratic values.

So, it will be interesting to see when they meet today, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel. What they talk about, they will be having a press conference where they answer some reporters' questions. And I think you can be sure that it will pretty much focus on what the incoming administration will bring with it.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

All right. Thanks so much for that, Atika Shubert, for us this morning in, I think the weather is almost a metaphor for the discussions that are about to happen, thank you so much, Atika.

HOWELL: All right. He received more first place votes than any other American League pitcher. But the Tiger's Justin Verlander is not just the AL Cy Young Award, and that his supermodel girlfriend tweeting her displeasure.

Andy Scholes is live this morning with "The Bleacher Report", next.


[05:23:36] HOWELL: Welcome back.

Major League Baseball announcing this year's Cy Young Award winners. Model Kate Upton was not very happy.

ROMANS: Yes, she told her 2.25 million Twitter followers about it too.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, guys. You know, not happy would be an understatement.

Kate Upton engaged to Tigers' ace Justin Verlander. She wrote an epic Twitter rant after Verlander came in second to Rick Porcello for the American League Cy Young Award. Now, Verlander had more first place votes, but Porcello edged him out because he got more second and third place votes.

Now, Upton tweeting, "He," speaking of Verlander, "had a majority of first place votes and two writers did not have them on their ballots. Can you pick more out of touch people to vote MLB?" She went on to tweet, "Sorry, Rick, you didn't get any first place votes. You didn't win. #byefelicia." MLB, keep up with the times and fire those writers." Now, Upton had another tweet as well, but it is not TV friendly, so we cannot show you.

All right. Congrats to CNN's own Hines Ward. He was named one of the semifinalists for the Hall of Fame class 2017. The former Super Bowl MVP and Steelers great speaking about the honor last night.


HINES WARD, HALL OF FAME SEMIFINALIST: I was shocked and very humbled. I mean, when my agent told me, man, I just had a smile on my face. It is still hard to believe. I mean, to have my name mentioned on the semifinal list of the Hall of Fame. Man, I can't do -- I don't want to pinch myself.

[05:25:04] So, I'm very humbled. I'm very honored.


SCHOLES: The 2017 class can be selected on the day before the Super Bowl between four to eight players will get in.

All right. Before President Obama leaves office, he is going to be handing out the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 people. Now, the Medal of Freedom is the country's highest civilian honor. And legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, he made the list and press secretary and huge Dodgers fan Josh Earnest, he called him to break the news.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You get to a handful of people. And this year, he's going to give it to you.


EARNEST: Yes. So, you've had --

SCULLY: Are you sure? I'm an old baseball announcer. I'm rather overwhelmed and humbled. Thank you so much, Josh.

EARNEST: My pleasure. Take care.

SCULLY: Bye for now.

EARNEST: How cool is that?


SCHOLES: That is pretty cool.

Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, guys, Robert De Niro, they're all going to be getting the Medal of Freedom this time around for President Obama. They're going to have a big ceremony next week at the White House. It will be quite the party, I imagine.

ROMANS: Bill Gates, I mean, who has had a bigger impact on American culture, on American success, putting a PC on every table or every desktop, or Michael Jordan in the '90s? I don't know.



HOWELL: But Vin Scully's reaction, I mean, that was just so authentic. It was just amazing to hear.

ROMANS: That's cool.

SCHOLES: Yes, pretty cool.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

She was tough on Donald Trump during the campaign. Now, she -- maybe she's for a job in his administration. More on Nikki Haley's trip to Trump Tower today, coming up.