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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Hotel Conflict?; Trump Starts Victory Tour. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired December 2, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Even Rob Gronkowski was surprised at how hard Donald Trump spiked the football last night.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The whole leader of the free world-elect thing not cramping his style. President-elect Donald Trump kicking off his victory tour by showing the Trump that America elected is probably the Trump that is going to be in the Oval Office.
The deadly fight against ISIS literally now melting the Earth. Stunning video, as terrorists on the run torch the oil fields.
Plus, wall of warriors. Pipeline protesters in the frozen tundra of North Dakota about to get reinforcements as thousands of veterans are about to join the fight.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We are going to begin today with our politics lead. Earlier this year, asked if he would temper his tone if he actually won the White House, Donald Trump promised, "I will be so presidential, you won't believe it."
He declared, "I will be so presidential that you will call me and you will say, Donald, you have to stop that." And he said, "I will be so presidential that you people will be so bored."
Well, it sure didn't seem that way last night in Cincinnati, where our nation's next commander in chief began his post-election victory lap and what could be described as the I told you so tour. Mr. Trump reminding supporters that they accomplished what many pundits, if not all, considered unthinkable, shattering Hillary Clinton's blue wall.
He blasted his favorite target, of course, reporters. He talked about how much fun it was to fight Hillary Clinton, which prompted chants in the crowd of "Lock her up, lock her up." He proverbially spiked the football and then did an end zone dance.
CNN's Jessica Schneider is outside Trump Tower in New York City.
Jessica, last night notwithstanding, Trump apparently got back down to work today. JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he did, Jake.
Donald Trump holed up once again inside Trump Tower holding those back-to-back meetings, but it was last night where the president-elect was really in his element, playing to those crowds and sounding more like the candidate we had grown accustomed to.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Back to business at Trump Tower hours after returning to those rousing rallies on the first stop of what Trump is calling his thank you tour.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We are going to make America great again. You watch.
SCHNEIDER: The president-elect holding court for hundreds in Cincinnati, part on teleprompter, part off the cuff, bombastic, boastful, with the clear message I told you so, all signature Trump.
TRUMP: We won Wisconsin and we won Michigan, and we won Pennsylvania, and that person is doing the math, and that person was saying for months that there's no way that Donald Trump can break the blue wall, right? We didn't break it. We shattered that sucker.
SCHNEIDER: Trump lashing out at the media.
TRUMP: These are very, very dishonest people.
SCHNEIDER: And boasting about his nine-point Ohio win despite a non- endorsement from Governor John Kasich.
TRUMP: Your Governor John Kasich called me after the election. He said, congratulations, that was amazing.
SCHNEIDER: And at a time when many are calling for the president- elect to reach out to the plurality of voters who voted for his opponent, Trump went in the other direction.
TRUMP: Though we did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn't we?
AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
SCHNEIDER: While also calling for the country to come together.
TRUMP: We're going to seek a truly inclusive society where we support each other.
SCHNEIDER: Trump's riffs resulting in confirmation of reports from CNN and others that he will nominate retired Marine General James Mattis as secretary of defense on Monday.
TRUMP: They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have, and it's about time.
SCHNEIDER: But at least one Democrat promising a fight over the waiver necessary for General Mattis to take over the top post at the Pentagon. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand releasing this statement: "While I deeply respect General Mattis' service, I will I oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy. And I will not vote for an exception to this rule."
Mattis left the Marines in 2013, not enough time to meet the seven years required by law between a uniformed officer retiring and taking up a civilian post.
Meanwhile, speculation still swirling over who Trump will pick for secretary of state, Mitt Romney continuing to stand out as one of the four leading contenders for the spot after his Tuesday night dinner with Trump. The president-elect providing some insight into his relationship with the former Massachusetts governor who infamously labeled Trump a fraud during the primary fight.
TRUMP: Well, he's been very gracious, and don't forget I hit Mitt pretty hard also before the fact, and so I understand how it all works. But he's been very, very nice. We had dinner the other night. It was great. There was actually a good chemistry.
SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump promising more Cabinet announcements next week, presumably starting with General Mattis as secretary of defense.
Now, as for that so-called thank you tour, they will continue, three stops scheduled for next week. There will be 10 in total, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider outside Trump Tower, thank you so much.
As Donald Trump was celebrating his big win, rubbing salt in the wounds of Clinton supporters and bringing smiles to the faces of his backers, I was witnessing firsthand the continued bitterness and resentment, anger and emotion of the top officials who ran those two campaigns.
Trump's campaign's manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, sat down with me as Harvard's Institute of Politics for the first and maybe only time together, just the two of them. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You have referred though this as a post-factual election where facts don't matter. And you were just taking issue with something that Donald Trump said. And there were other things, the so-called fakes news, disinformation out there, stories.
There was a crazy story towards the end of the campaign in which the NYPD was supposedly about to throw Hillary Clinton and her whole gang in jail because of stuff found on Anthony Weiner's computer that linked everybody to child sex trafficking, just a bizarre story that, interestingly enough, General Flynn retweeted at one point.
How much of a problem was this post-factual election, in your view?
ROBBY MOOK, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think it was huge problem.
Look, Jake, I think there's a lot of things we need to examine coming out of this. You just named one of them. Congress has got to investigate what happened with Russia here. We cannot have foreign -- and foreign aggressors, I would argue, intervening in our elections.
And we know that the Russians were promulgating fake news through Facebook and other outlets. But, look, we also had -- and this is with all due respect to Kellyanne and to her colleagues. This isn't personal.
But Steve Bannon ran Breitbart News, which was notorious for peddling stories like this. And I'm not attacking him personally, but they peddled a lot of stories on that Web site that are just false, they're just not true, and that reinforced sexist, racist, anti-Semitic notions in people, you know, headlines that just make your -- that, you know, are shocking and insulting, and shouldn't be part of our public discourse.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I think the biggest piece of fake news in this election was that Donald Trump couldn't win.
So, there's that. And that was peddled probably for weeks and months before the campaign, definitely in the closing days. If you look at major newspapers and major cable stations, networks, Jake, it's unmistakable.
TAPPER: I never said that he couldn't win. I said it was a competitive race.
CONWAY: I didn't say you did.
TAPPER: Well, there's a motion.
CONWAY: No, no, no, I'm saying but particularly print stories. We have colleagues who we all respect, some of whom are in this room, that represent outlets literally if you go back, because we have them, and you pull the whole front page...
TAPPER: There's a lot of Dewey defeats Trumans out there, absolutely.
CONWAY: It's unbelievable. But that's fake, because it's based on things that just aren't true. They have no path. They have no ground game. She's got more money. She has more personnel. She can't possibly lose.
And then, of course, the growing narratives, which I'm not going to -- the persist, chronic narratives, which I'm not going to repeat here, but they essentially boil down to Donald Trump takes the wings off of butterflies.
And America said there's a difference between what may offend me and what absolutely affects me. And I as a voter am going to go that way. And I'm going to vote according to what absolutely affects me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And you can see much more of my exclusive discussion with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's campaign managers on State of the Union. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern, and again at noon, only on CNN.
Will Trump have to check out of D.C. to move into the White House? His brand-news luxury hotel just down the block from his new digs could pose a giant ethical problem for his transition to power -- that story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
More in our politics lead now, our latest installment of conflict of interest watch, in which we take a look at the vast array of potential conflicts if president-elect Trump doesn't wall himself off from his sprawling global business empire.
For instance, before president-elect Trump moves into the White House next month, he may have to figure out just what to do with his brand- new property just a few blocks away on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Trump International Hotel, which opened in a federally owned building a couple weeks before Election Day, is now becoming the center of a debate that seemed almost unimaginable three years ago.
Back then, Mr. Trump signed a 60-year lease with the General Services Administration, which helps manage and support federal agencies, and that lease included a term that Mr. Trump is clearly about to violate.
So, as CNN's Cristina Alesci explains why the new hotel may not only post an ethical problem, she also explains how it might also be a deal-breaker.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
The lease between Donald Trump's hotel in D.C. and the federal government could turn out to be a disaster for Trump. Worst-case scenario, the government could terminate the lease and take over the hotel.
Here's why. There's a clause buried in the 300-page contract that says no elected official of the government shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease or to any benefit that may arise therefrom. After January 20, Trump is an elected official. And that appears to break the lease. The agency overseeing the lease could just tear it up, because Trump is technically violating a term that he previously agreed to.
But according to a government law protester, Trump could sue. Here's the thing. Even if Trump wins the case, the government would only have to pay a relatively small fee, and the Trump Organization would still lose control of the hotel.
That's right. The federal government, which Donald Trump will soon run, could seize control of the D.C. hotel owned by President Donald Trump.
The question is, will it? The General Services Administration is the federal agency in charge of this contract. Now, come the 20th, Donald Trump will be able to hire or fire the head of the GSA
[16:15:02] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Staying with politics now, lots to discuss with our political panel, Margaret Talev, she's the White House correspondent from Bloomberg, and Bill Kristol, he's the editor of the conservative publication, "The Weekly Standard".
Thanks to both of you for being here.
So, Margaret, we have this thank you tour, it's already begun. We have another stop tonight in Ohio. Do you expect to hear a similar tone and message to that we heard from Trump during the campaign even similar chants, "lock her up", et cetera, or to you expect a toning down?
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: Well, I actually would be really surprised to hear lock her up, but I think this is a Trump victory tour. And it's not just the way Trump has presented himself today at the Carrier plant. It is what Jason Miller and his communications have been doing, have been ramping up all week as we've seen. Like cabinet full of winners, he's picking winners.
This is his chance to say two things, to say thank you to the people who voted for him both Democrats in places that Hillary Clinton thought were going to vote for her, and Republicans, right? And to show that he's in command, he's making decisions, he's making things happen. That's a lot of what we're going to be seeing.
SCIUTTO: Bill, is he going to be open to criticism for -- you got a lot to do. Put together an administration, for going around and kind of soaking up the adulation in a thank you tour, going back to his greatest hits in effect?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I mean, I guess, of course. People can criticize him and he'll say, look, I'm busy appointments right and left and draining the swamp here in Washington and so forth. And he's delivering these jobs apparently by bludgeoning, or appearing to bludgeon Carrier not to move its plant. I'm not sure that's a great precedent for having presidents to deal with every private business in America. You know, it has all kinds of worrisome, I'd say, implications.
KRISTOL: But short term, they're very happy in Indianapolis. Meanwhile back here in Washington in the swamp, I have to say, if he's draining the swamp, the alligators are doing pretty well, right? What does this cabinet consist of?
So far, one senator, two congressmen, three billionaires, you know?
KRISTOL: It's not only the most outsider cabinet we've ever seen. It's one of the most insider you've ever seen. It's on the whole a lot of the appointments are pretty good. But, I don't know.
So, maybe, this is in a way a model though for the question going forward: can Trump sustain this? Can he govern in a fairly, traditional, it looks like, and responsible way? Look at these appointments, right? Senators, congressmen, et cetera, a few billionaires. Few billionaires, that's not quite so traditional, but that's Trump's world. And then, meanwhile, go out and give speeches in Middle America where it's, I'm fighting for you, I'm taking on those powerful guys.
TALEV: Well, fulfilling that populist demand. That's really the --
SCIUTTO: That's true. In a way, it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't, right? Because if he was hiring or selecting people who were true outsiders, not known here, then of course, you'd say, oh my guys, you would hear here in Washington from the chattering classes we're so nervous, they're unfamiliar, what are they going to do, we have no idea what their Treasury Department or their Defense Department was going to look like.
TALEV: Well, and you would see the markets react which I think is the one thing we can say that Trump is trying to avoid right now. He likes the fact that the markets have responded positively so far to these changes. That is a big sign of confidence for New York, for Wall Street and for the insiders who's trying to reach. But again, it is the threading of that needle which is how do you keep a populist message going when the things that you're actually doing are not any of those things that you were intimating or even saying that you would do.
SCIUTTO: And when did his supporters see that and start to ask, have I been sold a false bill of goods? I want to quote, she's obviously not a supporter of Donald Trump, but what Elizabeth Warren told Anderson Cooper, my colleague, last night about Trump's choice for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The American people are furious over what Wall Street has done. They don't want somebody who's going to come in here and say, hey, let's help Wall Street. And what Donald Trump is doing is he's literally handing the keys to the treasury over to a Wall Street banker who helped cause the crash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Warren called Mnuchin the Forrest Gump, in fact, of the 2008 crash. But fair criticism there? And how do -- more specifically, how do his supporters react to that?
KRISTOL: I think his supporters were thrilled that he just saved 1,000 jobs in Middle America. They'd be thrilled if he renegotiates a couple trade deals, even if he doesn't fundamentally changed them.
There are plenty of things that he can do to keep them happy. And they're going to say, fine, look, Trump himself is an extremely rich guy, an insider who gave money to Democrats, played the system, as he himself says. And they'll do a little bit of this.
You have to know the system to really fix it, you know? And I think Mnuchin is the most vulnerable of his appointments, in terms of confirmation, incidentally, just from reading, I don't know, I have no inside knowledge . Just reading about him, you can imagine Democrats really picking a fight and some Republicans being nervous defending him. But, fine, Trump will say maybe Mnuchin won't make it, he will appoint someone else to be secretary of the treasury.
TALEV: I think there's three people who are actually furious, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, right? Right now, right now.
SCIUTTO: At least for now.
When you look at this and certainly there have been a lot of cagey appointments at this point. Several of the names being considered for other posts, Defense Department, et cetera, you know, fairly popular across party, which is interesting.
[16:20:02] But you are seeing within the Trump camp really open fighting, you know, public fighting over particularly the State Department choice. I want to lay what Newt Gingrich had to say about the possibility of Mitt Romney for secretary of state.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: You have never ever in your career seen a serious adult who is wealthy, independent, has been a presidential nominee, suck up at the rate that Mitt Romney is sucking up. I mean, I am confident that he thinks now that Donald Trump is one of his closest friends, that they have so many things in common that they both are such wise brilliant people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: We should note that Newt Gingrich was considered early on a possibility for secretary of state, so perhaps there's a bit of personal interest there. But have you, Bill, you've been around long time, have you ever seen anything so public? And, of course, there are comments from Kellyanne Conway in a tweet earlier in the week.
KRISTOL: I mean, I've known Newt since I came to Washington 30 years ago and I've always gotten along well with him. But, really, it's really deplorable if I can use that term -- maybe I shouldn't use that term what he's doing.
SCIUTTO: Let's be fair, there are other members of the circle that are publicly criticizing --
KRISTOL: Gingrich thinks -- he thinks Romney defeated him. Romney did defeat him for presidential nomination in 2012 and he's never forgiven Romney I suppose.
Romney I think has behaved actually with considerable dignity. He has not apologized. He has not said he was wrong about what he said. He said, what I -- myself as a never Trumper think that the Trump administration is off to a pretty promising start and I think Romney thinks he can help the country as secretary of state, he should take it. He has not been campaigning for the job at all.
So, the criticism is unfair. But, yes, there were many splits in Trump world, it sounds like. But, look, Trump used to like that, and it is, you know, we're talking about -- one way of thinking about it, you know, threading the needle.
KRISTOL: And the other way of doing it is, you know, you can keep a couple balls in the air at once, keep the populist ball in the air, keep the insider ball in the air, keep the establishment ball in the air, keep the conservative ball in the air, keep the bipartisan ball in the air. Jim Mattis, if he's appointed to defense, a wonderful, he'll be held by people from both parties.
SCIUTTO: No question.
KRISTOL: Jeff Sessions, that will be a partisan vote for confirmation. Everyone has got something.
SCIUTTO: But, Margaret, it does also expose real disagreement inside the circle.
TALEV: Yes. I think tactically, this is actually a smart -- well, I don't know if it's smart. I think it's an interesting and possibly smart route. Strategically, I think you're like planting a lot of seeds of destruction later. You foment a lot of stuff when you do this.
But when you parade everyone through in front of Trump Tower or a restaurant, and you make it like again, of "The Apprentice", the upside is, especially when you're doing it for everyone, you know right away how everyone feels about everyone. If Mitt Romney can withstand the onslaught of all of this now, and it's done with, and Trump decides that's the way he wants to go, it's done, and he's also put Mitt Romney in his place and reminded him exactly how vulnerable he is.
So, you can see tactically kind of the thinking behind that move. But I think in the long term, there are so many bad feelings and kind of seeds of power games that get planted here that if any of these nominees actually gets confirmed and lasts more than a year or so, history began before the presidency even started.
SCIUTTO: I mean, we saw people are now talking again about the team of rivals, you know, referencing Lincoln's cabinets. Of course they talked the same about Obama's cabinet. They have some attempts there. The Republican for instance, ambassador to China, et cetera. But very quickly, overtime, that was a pretty tight knit group there, not many rivals by the end of his administration.
KRISTOL: Look, at the end of the day, this is -- it's early, just (INAUDIBLE). Governing matters, right? Governing is what is going to matter most. And so, at the end of the day, Margaret is absolutely right. You can juggle these balls there at some point, but at some point, you have to decide what is our policy towards Russia, towards Syria, you know, et cetera, towards the economy. Am I going to renegotiate the trade deals a little or am I going to change the world trading system? So, those will be decisions he will have to make.
But I think for now, short term, he's doing a pretty good job of juggling.
SCIUTTO: We'll see.
Bill Kristol, Margaret Talev, thanks so much for joining us today.
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[16:28:39] SCIUTTO: We have now a transition of power alert. Just in to CNN, a source with knowledge of the transition tells us that President-elect Trump is tapping another general for his administration.
I want to get right to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Barbara, a source just telling CNN that retired Marine General James Mattis will be the president-elect's nominee to lead the Defense Department. This was expected. He was the leading candidate, wasn't he?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: He seemed to have emerged as a leading candidate indeed over the last several days after meeting with Mr. Trump in New Jersey. Trump indicating that he was very favorable towards Jim Mattis. Jim Mattis is a general very well- known in the Pentagon and throughout the military. In fact, as many people know, his nickname is Mad Dog Mattis.
A marine general, highly decorated, more than 30 years of service, served in many billets, many jobs, in combat zones, served as the head of the U.S. Central Command overseeing military operations in the Middle East up until 2013 when he retired. Now, that 2013 date is vital, because the law requires that an active duty military person be retired for seven years before they can become secretary of defense.
So, the Trump administration will have to have legislation submitted to Congress for a waiver for Jim Mattis. And, in fact, we know very quietly Congress itself was beginning to look at what that legislation might have to look like.