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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Utah Congresswoman Mia Love; Interview With Vice President Joe Biden; John Glenn Dies; Trump Picks EPA Critic to Lead EPA; Clinton Attends Tribute for Senate Minority Leader; Interview with Joe Biden. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired December 8, 2016 - 4:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: He had the right stuff.
Colonel John Glenn, rest in peace.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Retiring Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid says that "Donald Trump is not as bad as I thought he was going to be" -- quote, unquote. But the senator and other Democrats are calling Trump's Cabinet picks scary. Some are even warning the one pick may even pose an existential threat to the planet.
Malarkey, that's how Vice President Biden described Donald Trump's promises to middle-class voters. But Hillary Clinton lost largely because those voters with whom Biden identifies did not go her way.
My interview with the vice president and where he thinks it all went wrong for Democrats.
Godspeed, John Glenn. America's astronaut, he flew up, was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth and then later the oldest person to ever venture into space. A senator, a one-time presidential candidate, rest in peace.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
The president-elect's road show recommences in just a few hours, Donald Trump heading to Des Moines, Iowa, this time for another stop on his thank you tour, popping into another state that he brought back into the red column after President Obama won it twice.
Since yesterday's show, yesterday's LEAD, a source says the president- elect has decided upon a secretary of labor nominee, Andy Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns Hardee's and Carl's Jr.
Puzder, along with his wife, donated thousands of dollars to various efforts to elect Donald Trump, is known for opposing minimum wage increases and supporting automation. You may also know his company for its infamous TV ad campaigns, such as this one for the Bacon Three-Way Thick Burger, ads that conservative and Christian groups have long attacked for being -- quote -- "disgusting and sleazy and demeaning to women.'
The president-elect has also chosen to head the Environmental Protection Agency the Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a longtime critic of that agency for alleged over-regulation. Pruitt once sent a letter to the EPA that had been literally drafted for him and given to him by a lobbyist for an oil and gas company, as a "New York Times" investigation once revealed.
CNN's Sara Murray is in Columbus, Ohio, where the president-elect is set to meet any moment now with first-responders who rushed to save lives at Ohio State University after that terrorist car and knife attack.
And, Sara, since yesterday's show, the president-elect responded to criticism of him by a local union president by sending out some vicious tweets about this local labor leader.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. Donald Trump's aides have long said he likes to use his Twitter feed to speak directly to the people, to bypass the press.
But one thing is clear. As president-elect, Donald Trump still plans to use his Twitter feed to try to silence his critics as well.
MURRAY (voice-over): Just because Donald Trump is president-elect doesn't mean he is shying away from Twitter showdowns. After touting his deal with Carrier to keep jobs in the U.S. just a week ago:
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up, and now they're keeping actually -- the number is over 1,100 people, which is so great, which is so great.
MURRAY: Now he is unloading on the president of the union that represents the Indianapolis Carrier plant. Chuck Jones, the president of the United Steel Workers Local 1999, said Trump lied by overstating the number of jobs he convinced Carrier to keep in the U.S. The actual number is 800, not 1,100.
Trump unleashed on Twitter, saying: "Chuck Jones, who is president of United Steel Workers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country."
Jones says, even though he has been receiving threats after Trump's tweets:
CHUCK JONES, UNION LEADER: I have been doing this job 30 years. And I have had a lot more serious threats than what people are making right now. I have got a little more thicker skin maybe than I did many years ago.
MURRAY: He doesn't regret his remarks.
JONES: He didn't tell the truth. He inflated the numbers. And I called him out on it.
MURRAY: The Twitter sideshow playing out as Trump continues building out his Cabinet. A source tells CNN Trump has chosen fast food executive Andy Puzder to serve as labor secretary. The chief executive of CKE Restaurants is both an advocate for scaling back regulation and a critic of efforts to raise the minimum wage, even as he acknowledges states have a right to do So.
ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: There's really nothing you could to do stop states from raising the minimum wage. They want to do that. You could use the bully pulpit to encourage them to do what's best for American workers, what's best for wages, what's best for economic growth.
MURRAY: Trump meeting today with Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford, as well as retired Admiral James Stavridis, a potential candidate for the coveted secretary of state slot. Stavridis was once vetted as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton.
ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Terrific. Had a wonderful meeting with the president-elect. We talked about the world. We talked about defense. We talked about the state of our military. We talked a lot about cyber-security.
MURRAY: All of this as the billionaire businessman continues to revisit the battleground states that delivered him the presidency, making a somber stop in Ohio to meet with first-responders and victims of the attack at Ohio State University, before heading to Iowa for a victory rally.
But even as Trump turns his gaze to the White House, questions linger about how far he is willing to go in separating himself from his business. So far, there is little indication Trump will fully divest from his company. But a source tells CNN Trump may add an additional person to the leadership structure, someone outside his family, a move not only to bat back conflict of interest concerns, but also to protect his children.
MURRAY: Now, when Donald Trump does arrive here in Ohio, it will be an opportunity for Americans to see the formerly bombastic candidate in a different light, playing the role of comforter in chief, something we have come to expect from our presidents.
We're expecting Donald Trump to meet privately with the first- responders, as well as some of the victims of the attack here at OSU. We are not at this point expecting him to deliver any formal remarks, though -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Donald Trump has been ambitious set of goals when he takes office on January 20. He will need help from Republicans in Congress to accomplish many of them, if not all of them.
For more on that, let's bring in one of those members of Congress from the Republican side, GOP Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah, who was skeptical of Trump during the campaign. I think that's fair to say.
Thanks for joining us.
REP. MIA LOVE (R), UTAH: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.
TAPPER: So, I know that you were frustrated during the campaign that you didn't hear enough about Donald Trump's policies.
TAPPER: When you see the people that he is filling his Cabinet with, or wants to, many of them need Senate confirmation, are you happy? Are you concerned? What do you think?
LOVE: Actually, I'm pleasantly -- I am surprised and I'm happy.
He is choosing people that don't necessarily agree with him, but have a -- they have knowledge. They have experience in the areas. I mean, Ben Carson was a great choice. I was a little surprised with HUD. And then I was quite pleased with the choice. Here is a person who grew up in poverty, who really grew up with an understanding of what it's like to live in areas where it's crime-ridden, it's just very difficult.
And now he gets to -- he is a brain surgeon and he gets to lead on these issues that are going to make poverty temporary for people, not just tolerable. So, I am excited about that.
TAPPER: Well, let's hope so.
TAPPER: Trump has yet to fill -- he has filled -- Treasury, State and Defense are usually considered the big three. He has named General Mattis and he has named the treasury nominee. He has yet to fill the secretary of state position.
TAPPER: We know he is considering many people, including Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson, among many, many others. Look at that. It's just a big group of white men over 60.
TAPPER: Are there -- do you have a favorite? Is there someone there that you think would do a particularly good job? Are you a Mitt Romney fan?
LOVE: Well, I'm always a Mitt Romney fan. Mitt has got a wealth of experience. He is -- I just -- I know him personally. I know his heart. I know his experience. He is a great friend and now from Utah, lives in Utah. His family lives in Utah. I know Mitt very well. And I think Mitt would do a great job.
But all of those -- the people that he has that are up there, I think that would be a decent choice for the United States. Obviously, I am a fan of Mitt.
TAPPER: Interesting comment by president-elect Trump yesterday when he was received, he got the honor of person of the year by "TIME" magazine. But it said president of the divided states of America. And he insisted that he was not responsible for the divisions at all because he is not yet president.
I feel like you might disagree with that, that maybe he is responsible for some of divisions, obviously not all of them.
LOVE: You know what? I think that we're more divided today than we were seven years ago. And I think it's a lack of leadership.
TAPPER: So, you put it on President Obama?
LOVE: I put it on a lack of leadership in very many areas, including the president of the United States, the current president of the United States.
We have had -- I think it's important for us as leaders to make sure we're not victimizing people, that we're empowering them, that we are treating people equally, that we are not creating an environment where we're pitting up Americans against another.
I think you will remember during the RNC speech when Mitt Romney was running for president, I said that this is -- we are facing a situation where this president is dividing us based on social status, income levels, race and gender.
I mean, remember there was the war against women. There were all these of other things that were coming in and it was pitting Americans up against each other. And more than anything, we need to unify as Americans. My children are of mixed race. We see ourselves as first and foremost Americans and Utahans.
And I think that there is a lot of healing that has to happen in this country.
Let me ask you, though, you have seen the tweets that the president- elect has sent, some of them directly aimed at critics, including this local labor leader in Indiana, Chuck Jones, who now says there have been some vague threats at him, although you heard him in that spot, nothing that he couldn't handle.
TAPPER: I can't imagine the kind of thick skin you need to be a labor leader in Indiana. But does that bother you at all? But it trouble you at all?
To a lot of people, to a lot of Mr. Trump's critics, it seems like anytime anybody pops up with a criticism of him, he uses his bully pulpit in a way that could actually potentially be dangerous even.
LOVE: Well, nobody is perfect. Right? We know this.
And probably one of the problem areas is how you respond, because you still have to represent everyone.
LOVE: Whether they supported you or not, you are the president of the United States. You don't represent one side vs. another. You are supposed to make life better for all Americans.
And so if you're going to make America great again, you have to make it great again for everyone. And so I think that that is -- he reacts quite a bit. It's one of the things that people like about him, that he is not a pushover. When somebody pushes him, he pushes back.
That can also be a downside. And I think that that's one of the things that we have to keep in check. As a leader of the free world, I think it's important to make sure that you're not just reacting, that you're being thoughtful and you're being responsive.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Mia Love, I don't think I said, but congratulations on your reelection.
LOVE: Thank you. Thank you.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We're glad to have you back in Washington. And we will be seeing a lot of you in the next couple of years.
LOVE: Thank you. Thank you.
TAPPER: Thank you so much.
He has spent much of his career fighting the EPA. Now he's been picked to lead it. How is that going to work?
From the ends of the earth to the edge of space, John Glenn was a true American hero. We will remember that legend next.
[16:16:05] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
You're seeing live images right now of President-elect Trump. His plane touching down at the John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. John Glenn, dead today at the age of 95. We'll talk more about him in a little bit on the program. But let's stick with politics right now. Just this week, President-
elect Trump sat down with both Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio to discuss climate change. This while also announcing that he will nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to engineer climate change policy as head of the EPA. Pruitt not exactly one who tends to listen to the likes of Gore or DiCaprio or the overwhelming majority of climate scientists.
CNN's Rene Marsh has been putting together a dossier on Pruitt for us.
And, Rene, Dan Pfeiffer, a former adviser to President Obama, he tweeted after the announcement of Scott Pruitt, quote, "At the risk of being dramatic, Scott Pruitt of EPA is an existential threat to the planet."
That is quite a charge.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: To say the least, he has been a lightning rod pick. We have seen passion on both sides of this. You have the Republicans who looked at the EPA as a wasteful agency that over regulates. They say Pruitt will cut wasteful spending and useless laws. On the other side, you have the environmentalists who called Pruitt dangerous both to American's health and the environment. Today, we talk a loot at Trump's EPA and what it means for the air you breath and the water you drink.
MARSH (voice-over): Scott Pruitt's stance is clear, the EPA is guilty of overreach.
SCOTT PRUITT (R), OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have an EPA, we have a federal government actively involved in picking winners and losers and using regulatory power to penalize fossil fuels --
MARSH: As attorney general of Oklahoma, the biggest oil and natural gas producing state in the nation, he launched multiple legal battles against the Obama administration's key climate change laws attempting to essentially dismantle the very agency he will now lead.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Department of Environmental Protection, we are going to get rid of it in almost every form. We're going to have little tidbits left.
MARSH: Team Trump says Pruitt, quote, "brings a deep understanding of the impact of regulations on both the environment and the economy."
NICK LORIS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Attorney General Pruitt has been a leader in fighting against excessive regulations from the EPA that have driven up costs for American families and businesses and have been devoid of any real meaningful environmental benefit.
MARSH: Pruitt, a climate change denier has said, quote, "Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connections to the actions to mankind. A November radio interview gave insight on how he'd run the agency. HOST: Tell us, under a Trumpadministration, what are you looking
PRUITT: Regulatory rollback. Washington has been become way too consequential in the lives of citizens across the country. They've been dictating to the states, dictating to business, dictating to industry, sometimes outside of the Constitution.
MARSH: The easiest and fastest action Pruitt can take on day one is simply not enforce the laws on the books.
Trump says his administration values clean air and water, but his EPA pick sued the agency 12 times, challenging its clean power plan which seeks to curb carbon emissions from power plants. He's also sued the EPA for trying to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.
FRED KRUPP, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND: He has taken lawsuits to eliminate the regulations on soot. He's taken lawsuits to allow more mercury to be put out by coal-fired power plants.
MARSH: He's the strong supporter of the energy industry and they support him, too. In 2014, his campaign committee received more than $700,000 in contributions, more than 17 percent of that came from the energy industry. A 2014 "New York Times" investigation found he collaborated secretly with the energy industry, sending letters lobbyists wrote for him to the U.S. government attacking the EPA.
[16:20:12] MARSH: While Democrats don't have the power, obviously to block, but lawmakers see and spoke to say the game plan is to essentially reach across the aisle and have discussions about what's at stake. But really the big picture for the Trump administration, this goes beyond the environment. The philosophy of fewer environmental regulations really speaks to President-elect Trump's larger goal of economic growth.
Of course, Jake, the thinking is, if you get rid of the regulation, then that allows businesses to flourish.
TAPPER: Of course, a lot of concern about the air we breathe and the water we drink. Rene Marsh, thank you so much.
A special ceremony on Capitol Hill for retiring Senate Minority Harry Reid, as his new portrait is being unveiled. Hillary Clinton there.
Let's listen in.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for inviting me to be part of this celebration.
As we celebrate a great leader and a great senator and, yes, a great American, I just want to pause for a moment and mark the passing of one of our great as well. Senator John Glenn, a friend to many of us and a genuine American hero, passed away today. And I know the tributes will be flowing. I'm sure the congressional record will be filled with pages of appreciation and recognition of this extraordinary American's life.
It is fitting that we're here in the Kennedy Caucus Room, which has seen so much history. Harry got his start in politics organizing for JFK. Even then, he knew how to win. My very first experience as an intern here on the Hill was helping with hearings right in this caucus room. And it's fitting that we would gather in a place that represents the values of this extraordinary, deliberative body.
I want to thank Landra and the entire Reid family for sharing Harry with us all these years, and I'm delighted to be here with Vice President Biden, Leaders McConnell and Pelosi and my former partner from New York, Chuck Schumer, as well as so many other friends and former colleagues.
Today, we are hanging Harry's portrait here in the Capitol, but the more fitting portrait of him will be the one that goes in the dictionary next to the word "fighter." Throughout his career, Harry has fought the good fight, on behalf of the working families of Nevada and all Americans. Harry welcomed me as a new senator more than 15 years ago, and over the years, he became both a trusted colleague as well as a friend.
One of my favorite memories, Harry, is going with you to Fallon, Nevada. We went to hold a hearing about the high rates of leukemia in that small town. We both shared a passion for health care and a worry about so-called cancer clusters.
And on that trip and on many occasions, I saw firsthand Harry's deep commitment to the state and country he loved and served so well. No matter how high he rose here in Washington, he never lost touch with the people and values he grew up with back in Searchlight.
In the little house where he was born, there was an embroidered pillowcase with a quote from Franklin Roosevelt that embodied Harry's life and career. "We can, we must, we will."
I have walked the neighborhoods, sat in union halls, met workers in casino kitchens, and everywhere I went, Nevadans told me how much it meant to them to have Harry Reid as their corner man. We've seen the strength of that bond in election after election. I have benefited from it, and so have many Democrats.
Harry's commitment to our country runs just as deep. Throughout his career, he has fought tirelessly to protect America's public lands and natural beauty. From protecting the great basin national park to restoring Lake Tahoe, to leading the way on clean energy.
Harry's legacy is embodied in landmark legislation that made life better for American families, like the Affordable Care Act, which wouldn't have passed without his leadership and now provides health coverage to more than 22 million people.
[16:25:15] Millions of young people can stay on their parents' health plans because Harry Reid fought for it. And that's not all. Millions of seniors rely on Social Security today because Harry led the fight to stop it from being privatized.
He fought to pass comprehensive immigration reform and got it through the Senate. If it had been signed into law, millions of families would not be living in fear of being torn apart and our economy would benefit from the millions of workers coming out of the shadows.
As a senator, I learned a lot from Harry about how actually to get things done in this place. He is not a man of many words, but when he uses them, he always tells it as he sees it. He is never afraid to speak out, even when it's not easy or popular.
Harry has fought for the simple but powerful idea that, yes, we are all created equal. He understood that all our leaders and all of our citizens alike have a responsibility to defend the rights of every single American. After the Constitutional Convention, it's well known Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government the new nation would have. "A republic," he replied, "if you can keep it."
Well, that's still our charge, and it's as urgent as it's ever been. We must stand up for our democracy just as Harry has done his entire career.
Let me just mention briefly one thread in particular that should concern all Americans --
TAPPER: Former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, just now at an event honoring Senate Minority Harry Reid who is retiring. Clinton said this was not exactly the speech at the Capitol she had hoped to be giving after the election.
Earlier today, I met with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House for an exclusive, an exit interview of sorts. And one of the things we talked about was how did working class Joes of Scranton, PA, feel about the fact that so many working-class voters went for Donald Trump?
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton lost in part because of how incredibly poorly she did with a voting group that is one of the groups that you speak for and have historically. People used to call you Middle Class Joe, son of Scranton. And she got clobbered with white working-class voters. You've said that post (INAUDIBLE), you might be the only Democrat elected to the Senate that won white men.
Why do you think she did so poorly with white working-class voters?
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, I don't think as a party we spent -- look, I am really proud of what Barack and I -- the president and I were able to do in the economy. But if you notice, the last two years in the president's State of the Union, there has been a shift in the focus now that we got the car out of the ditch and on the road and running and focusing on the inequities that still exist for working class and middle class people who are left behind. And what happened was that wasn't the central part of the campaign
moving forward in my view. I said at the convention when I introduced Hillary and praised her, I said we don't show enough respect to that group that has in fact been left behind. And these are people who had good, decent jobs.
My dad used to have an expression, for real. He'd say, remember, Joe, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity. It's about your respect.
TAPPER: He did say a lot that the trade deals had sold out the American people and that he was going to bring those jobs back and that he was going to fight for the American worker. That did cut through.
BIDEN: That cut through, but there was no detail about any of it.
TAPPER: Do you think you could have done a better job?
BIDEN: Oh, I don't know. They'd probably have eaten me alive. Who knows what would have happened? But -- and I really mean that. I don't know.
I mean, right -- I learned how to become popular. Announce you're not running for president and, boom, man, you're the most popular guy out there.
TAPPER: That's not entirely true. You're being -- I can't believe that you didn't sit there at times during the campaign and think, ah, Hillary, why don't you say, or you're not connecting with my people.
You and President Obama won Lackawanna County, home of Scranton, by almost 30 points. Hillary Clinton almost -- she barely won it. Like three or four points.
BIDEN: Look, again, it was so easy to go back and Monday morning quarterback.
TAPPER: I'm talking about quarterbacking during the game.
BIDEN: Well, during the game we believed that -- and one of the reasons the president acknowledged was because of --