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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Aide: He's Broadening Cabinet Search; Union Boss: Trump Inflated Number Of Jobs Saved; Paul Ryan: We Had A Great Meeting On The Transition; Trump To Keep "Celebrity Apprentice" Job; Trump's Labor Pick Critical Of $15 Minimum Wage; Trump Getting Just One "Daily" Intel Briefing A Week. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired December 9, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- that election is settled. Apologies, Jill Stein. Rather, you are seeing a live picture of the airport where Donald Trump will be taking off very shortly. He is going to be heading to Louisiana to campaign for the Republican candidate in the closely watched runoff Senate election there.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Then for the president-elect, it is on to Michigan. This morning he had a sit-down with House Speaker Paul Ryan. You can see some pictures right there of Paul Ryan who emerged from the elevators and said virtually nothing.
Donald Trump continues to fill out his cabinet and this morning we learned that the president-elect plans to keep his title of executive producer on "Celebrity Apprentice" even while serving as commander-in- chief, despite the lack of obvious overlap in the job descriptions.
Let's go to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty in Washington with the very latest. Good morning, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONENT: Good morning, John and Kate. Yes, a lot of questions over this. Certainly flagging potential conflicts of interest here given that Donald Trump will be keeping that executive producer title and appear in the credits of the "Celebrity Apprentice" role while he's in the White House, in the oval office come January.
What we had this morning is really the Trump transition team trying to downplay the significance of all this. You had Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's top advisers, really saying that look, she believes it's the same as what President Obama would do in his spare time, play golf.
She says that work for Donald Trump is something that is a hobby for him and certainly she believes that presidents have a right to do other things in their spare time.
As they deal with the fallout of this, Donald Trump, of course, still looking for choosing the next secretary of state. We know in the last week his list has really expanded of those potential contenders for the role.
But we do know that he is inching towards a decision, it seems. Transition officials tell us that potentially this decision could come at some point next week and it was interesting to listen to Kellyanne Conway this morning really provide a laundry list publicly of people who are being considered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: In recent days, he's been meeting with Ambassador John Bolton, Congressman Rohrabacher and more recently, Rex Tillerson from Exxon and yesterday, Alan Mulally from Ford. These two men are captains of industry who already deal with the developing country.
In the case of Mr. Tillerson, he has dealings with Russia, China, Yemen and of course, most of the world. So it's a fascinating way of approaching such an incredibly important job and it's very Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: So Kellyanne Conway there really trying to paint the picture that Donald Trump is being very deliberate, very thoughtful about this pick -- John and Kate.
BERMAN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty for us in Washington. You know, one of the appointments that we have learned about is the labor secretary, Donald Trump intends to nominate Andrew Puzder, the man who runs the company that runs Hardee's and also Carl's Jr., someone who is known not to be in favor of raising the minimum wage, not to be in favor of increasing the overtime payment.
So let's talk about that with someone deeply interested, Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers. Randi, thanks so much for being with us.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Great to be with you. Sorry for my cold.
BERMAN: Look, the first union leader we have spoken to since the news broke of who the president-elect intends to nominate as his secretary of labor. Obviously, you are not happy with it. We read your statement. I guess the question is, what do you expect, right?
I mean, Puzder is not in favor of raising the minimum wage, at least not to $15, not in favor of overtime rules, and you actually expect President-elect Trump to pick someone who was in favor of those things?
WEINGARTEN: Personally, no. But the president-elect got a lot of votes of a lot of working class people, just read an article today where somebody said because they thought he was for the little guy. The little guy in America needs a raise. That's part of what the problem has been.
The current president has actually brought the economy back, Wall Street went from 8,000 to wherever it is today, 19,000. Wages have, you know, the economy has grown, but most working folks haven't gotten a raise.
So when you have a labor secretary who is against raising the minimum wage, who was robust for his own company, who ships jobs overseas, that is different than the president-elect promised people.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about some labor jobs, some union jobs even being saved. The Carrier deal that Donald Trump had a heavy hand in when they announced that in Indiana. Donald Trump saved jobs, even the union leader who spoke out against him said he helped save the jobs here and we are very thankful, the union jobs. How much credit does Donald Trump deserve for that deal?
WEINGARTEN: So I actually tweeted, you know, thank you, Donald Trump, for saving the jobs, too, because just like when Andrew Cuomo and Chuck Schumer saved the Alcoa jobs in New York, we cheered that. We need manufacturing jobs in the United States. We believe in buying America.
[11:05:09]But what happened in Carrier is very disturbing for the following reason. I don't mind at all that Donald Trump goes to Carrier and says I have saved these jobs. But you can't tell 1,100 people their jobs are saved, then later on, these folks, 350 of them find out they weren't. That's what Chuck Jones was saying.
And frankly, he has a right to correct the record without the president-elect going on his Twitter feed to 35 million people and slamming him, and now Chuck Jones is getting death threats because the president-elect slammed him. That's wrong.
BERMAN: It's interesting, you brought a very interesting point. You said a lot of union members, lot of working people did vote for Donald Trump. In fact, the exit polls showed that Donald Trump did very well, unusually well for a Republican. Lost by, what, three points. Hillary Clinton -- sorry, Barack Obama had won by 18. That's a huge difference.
WEINGARTEN: Yes, he lost by about, I would say, probably five to ten points, but your premise is right.
BERMAN: And, and voters knew where Donald Trump stood on these issues you are talking about right now.
WEINGARTEN: Except this. Donald Trump said he was going to shake up Washington, get rid of the elite, get rid of the establishment. People thought he was going to bring not just jobs back to America, but good wages. So when you put a labor secretary in or an ED secretary in who actually make a mockery of the departments that they are leading, who actually are the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing, then that's not shaking up the system. That's imbedding the system with more of the establishment.
BOLDUAN: Want to talk about the labor secretary in just one second.
WEINGARTEN: Excuse me.
BOLDUAN: You are totally fine. We are all going through it. He's only a little bit sick. Before we get to the education secretary --
WEINGARTEN: Those that share water together --
BOLDUAN: Do something. Let me ask you this. You have had time to think about it. Why did Hillary Clinton lose the election? What's your thought?
WEINGARTEN: So I think it's four or five things. I don't think there's one particular reason. I do think that what Comey did had a huge impact on it, because we could see, you could see, I was out in the field a lot, and you could see that that stopped her forward momentum in the last week, because it re-raised issues that had been put to bed.
Frankly issues that, you know, General Flynn had a private server in his office, but issues that seemed to haunt Hillary Clinton. That's number one.
Number two, I think what happened was that more people, look, she won the popular vote by 2 percent. She's won the popular vote by over 2.7 million people. But in three or four of these places, more people believed that Donald Trump would fix the economy and shake things up than believed that Hillary Clinton would.
And that gets to the point I'm making now, which is that it is somewhat -- I'm not surprised by it, but when you go out and tell the American people you're going to shake the system up and then you bring in the elite and billionaires into the system, that's a problem.
BERMAN: In your area of expertise, education, he is shaking things up. Relatively speaking, Betsy DeVos is someone who doesn't like the education system as it is right now. She wants to see more school choice. Again, you have already issued very strong statements against --
WEINGARTEN: But in education --
BERMAN: Have you spoken to her?
WEINGARTEN: No. I have not spoken to her, but I have done a lot of work in Michigan. In education, education wasn't on the ballot this year. Frankly, education was the only place last year where there was a bipartisan consensus to do the opposite of what Betsy DeVos is trying to do.
BOLDUAN: Donald Trump talked about education on the trail. I remember hearing him --
WEINGARTEN: He talked about education -- he talked about he had a proposal for vouchers which he made once a month before the election. What we did in Washington last year is that people all across the country, Republicans and Democrats alike, got rid of no child left behind, brought local control back to schools, got rid of the fixation on testing, and said that the money that the feds give should follow poor children. So that there was a consensus on education which is why it was an issue that wasn't raced in raised in any of the debates. What I'm saying is that on education, there is a consensus in this country that she doesn't follow. She doesn't want public schools. She's fought against them in Michigan and the charter schools in Michigan and the public schools in Michigan are doing pretty poor.
BERMAN: Randi Weingarten, thanks for coming in and sharing your opinion.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Randi, really appreciate it.
All right, joining us now, CNN political commentator and senior writer at "The Federalist," Mary Katherine Ham, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" political correspondent, Patrick Healy and CNN senior political reporter, Manu Raju.
[11:10:11]Guys, great to see you. Manu, I want to get your take on big news just this morning coming from Capitol Hill making its way all the way to New York City. Paul Ryan in the meeting with Donald Trump made a very brief statement coming out of the meeting with Trump. What do you know about the meeting? What's the point? Where is that relationship these days?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it's a lot better than it was a month and a half ago, that's for sure. They are actually talking quite a bit. Paul Ryan has been saying publicly that they are talking virtually every day. There's a very ambitious legislative agenda they want to get rolled out as soon as they get into office.
One of the things that they are going to do in January is start to target specific Obama regulations that they could kill through efforts in Congress. That's going to be right off the bat. They will do that in the House as well as begin that process for repealing Obamacare.
So there are a lot of coordination that needs to happen between the speaker and the president-elect and then of course on the Senate side, all these confirmation battles also going to take place to put people in Donald Trump's cabinet as well as the Supreme Court nominee.
They are talking about that as well as tax reform is going to be next on the agenda after they deal with all of those things which is a very difficult undertaking to rewrite such a massive, massive tax code.
That's one reason why there's a lot of communication right now and they claim the bygones are bygones from that really nasty campaign and their really difficult relationship to say the least.
BERMAN: One of the reasons bygones may be bygones, doesn't seem like Paul Ryan may be getting a lot of what he likes, Mary Katherine Ham, and Republicans may be getting a lot of what they like right now. Listening to Randi Weingarten here, you know, teachers union boss, saying, she's unhappy with the choice for education secretary.
We have heard unions say they are unhappy with the choice for labor secretary who doesn't want to raise the minimum wage by quite as much. On the EPA, you have the incoming or nominated head who isn't necessarily a believer in climate science. In some ways, this is like Republican or at least ideological Valhalla, Mary Katherine.
MARY KATHERINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, I think -- it's an open question to put it likely what Donald Trump's presidency is going to look like. Thus far, especially for ideological conservatives, many of the picks have been like, well, this is sort of a pleasant surprise.
I think Paul Ryan is in that group of people. I think this is what was interesting to me about Paul Ryan and the dance he did with Trump and sort of making him not immediately giving up the endorsement and all that kind of stuff.
I think he got very comfortable with them having a weird relationship and now they can sit face-to-face and talk about it. I also think he earned a bit of respect. Trump does not tend to respond to the people who immediately say oh, yes, whatever you want, Mr. Trump.
I think he did earn a bit there. I think it really remains to be seen how much Trump is going to be actively involved on the Hill and how much he's going to pass off to Ryan. We just don't know right now.
BOLDUAN: But Mary Katherine, from what we have seen, I mean, the only measure that people have is who Donald Trump is, personnel is policy is kind of what we always hear and who he's putting in place. If you were an anti-Trump Republican, is there anything really to be anti, right now?
HAM: I think I for one, who was not pro-Trump, like many of the picks, Betsy DeVos being one that I'm particularly happy about, but I also don't like the setting of trade policy and trade wars on Twitter, right? That's the part, if I could excise the Twitter part from the presidency, I probably would do that. But that will never go away, right?
BERMAN: You know, Patrick Healy, on the subject of jobs, you know, Donald Trump is filling some of them and he is keeping some jobs apparently, too. He's keeping his executive producer title at "Celebrity Apprentice." Does this seem, I'm not sure it is surprising, frankly, but does this seem problematic to you?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's surprising and it is a little problematic but maybe, John, it's really going to sort of his own sense of himself and really kind of the authenticity that he feels like he showed voters and that they were supporting. I say this, he is still very much a showman.
We have never had a business person who had no political experience go into the presidency. We are used to governors and senators leaving behind their political life in Washington or their state and moving to the White House and filling out their cabinet, these normal predictable ways.
But Donald Trump very much ran as someone who leaned into communication styles that made him very popular on television, he incorporated them into his rallies, into his use of Twitter, in a way people felt like was so direct and immediate and what a lot of his voters saw as honest and refreshing, not the usual Washington stuff.
[11:15:00]So it's problematic in the sense that, you know, if he starts saying things about NBC or you know, he starts making sort of like side deals that seem strange, it will be distracting but John, really, what hasn't been?
At this point, "The Apprentice" is one of hundreds of things that he could be tweeting about and saying and aren't as grave as the cyberbullying that's going on.
HAM: Get ready for the prime-time address lead-in to "The Apprentice."
BOLDUAN: That still is the question, if he would tweet about it maybe, but you know, on his faith, I don't know how much of a scandal it is when you can compare, you know, if he has an EP credit still on "Celebrity Apprentice," you didn't see people really lighting their hair on fire with Obama taking royalties from his book.
HEALY: Right. I wouldn't call this like a scandal really at all in any way. You have had in past transitions appointees who were put in place who then had to withdraw because of conflicts. You have had Congress saying we're not going to vote to confirm this person.
You have had, you know, presidents themselves who have had relatives that they have had to sort of deal with and people from their past who they have had to sort of like keep on the bench. I actually don't feel like we have seen much of that over the last month.
It's been relatively orderly on that front and in terms of dealing with personal finances and business, absolutely that's something that he's going to have to reckon with.
BERMAN: Let me play how Kellyanne Conway responded to this whole question about the "Celebrity Apprentice" this morning. Then we will move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: He's a very transparent guy. Everyone can see what he's doing. The fact is that he is conferring with all types of experts to tell him what he's allowed to do and not to do as the president of the United States and if this is one of the approved activities, then perhaps he will consider staying on. Where he's so concerned about hours and hours and hours of the current president on the golf course? Presidents have the right to do things in their spare time or leisure time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It turns out that's a bad answer to a simple question. It's not spare time. He did "Celebrity Apprentice" before. Not like he's working on the show now. But Manu, just quickly, oversight of Donald Trump and these questions, any sign that in Congress they intend to exert their congressional authority, the checks and balances, and watch very carefully what he does?
RAJU: Not yet, John, because, of course, Republicans will control both the House and the Senate next year. I spent a lot of time over the last few days talking to Republican senators, congressmen, are you planning on looking into Donald Trump's business, potential business conflicts.
Right now, they are giving him time. They say let's see what he does, see what he does when he has that press conference on December 15th, did he fully divest from his company, if he keeps a stake in his company, then we will see. They are being very cautious.
They are giving some rope to their president-elect to decide what to do. But Democrats are already calling for those investigations right now and we will see if the Republicans buckle. Right now they are showing no signs they will.
BERMAN: December 15th, we are promised some answers. Guys, join us for that. Thanks so much for coming in.
All right, they are meant to brief the president-elect on the most important threats to the United States around the world. So why is Donald Trump skipping so many of them? A key U.S. senator joins us to discuss.
BOLDUAN: Plus, you just heard from one union leader, very critical of the president-elect's cabinet picks and what they mean for American workers. What does Donald Trump's team have to say about that? We are going to find out in just one moment.
And losing hope in Aleppo. Thousands now fleeing the epicenter of the Syrian civil war as the Syrian regime tightens its grip on the key city. Have the rebels lost? We are going to take you to the center of it all. The first western reporter inside the old city of Aleppo.
BOLDUAN: Just before the break, we heard from leader of a top teachers union, Randi Weingarten, slamming Donald Trump's picks for some of his cabinet positions including his new pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder.
In saying so, Randi Weingarten said these are picks who actually make a mockery of the departments they are leading, going on to say that's not shaking up the system, that's imbedding the system with more of the establishment.
BERMAN: Joining us now to discuss is Anthony Scaramucci, he is an executive member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team. Thanks so much for being with us and joining us at this hour. This is your preview or debut, I should say, on the show. Thanks for coming in. ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, MEMBER, PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION TEAM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Thank you. It's great to be here. I appreciate it.
BERMAN: So let me ask you off the bat, there are some reports this morning that the president-elect has selected Gary Cohen, the number two at Goldman Sachs, to lead his council -- National Economic Council. Can you confirm this?
SCARAMUCCI: I can't confirm that but I can talk about Gary if you want. I know Gary forever. I worked at Goldman from 1989 to 1996 and Gary's a personal friend of mine. He's a brilliant guy and just an incredibly gregarious person as well.
He knows economic and tax policy and one hidden gem about Gary, he's got such a great expertise in the commodities markets. He originally came up through a group called J. Aaron which was acquired by Goldman Sachs back in the early '80s.
So I can't confirm if he's the pick, but I got to tell you he's one incredible person and it's just another person that Mr. Trump has seen here at Trump Tower that is at the top of his game.
BOLDUAN: Anthony, let me ask about what Randi Weingarten said talking specifically about Donald Trump's pick for labor secretary. She slammed Puzder saying he's anti-labor and anti-fighting for the little guy that Donald Trump promised he would fight for. You respond.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, so obviously that's not true. What I would say to Randi and other people is actions speak louder than words. Just the Carrier deal is a vivid example of Mr. Trump, Mr. President-elect fighting for the quote/unquote, "little guy." But I think there's more to it than this.
[11:25:00]You know, we are focusing on Andy's background in the restaurant business, but what you guys are missing about Andy, he's a great macro economist and has a very, very good understanding about the broader interconnectivity of the economy.
And so we are focusing on things like minimum wages when we shouldn't be. What Andy's going to be focusing on is wage increases for all Americans. What Andy wants to focus on is not only bringing jobs back into the United States, helping the administration on these trade deals, which he has a native understanding of, but just making this society better for labor in general.
And so when Randi is saying that he's part of the establishment, she really doesn't know him personally the way I know him. This is a very disruptive entrepreneur. He's got a great legal background.
So for me, I couldn't be happier about this pick for the American people. You guys may not know this about me. I grew up in a working class family so I identify with these people that are struggling. I know Andy will bring a lot of help to them.
BERMAN: You know, it is interesting going back to Gary Cohen who you said you also do know personally. Steve Mnuchin has a long history at Goldman Sachs. Gary Cohen the number two there. People thought he would take over Goldman Sachs. Is there something about the fact Donald Trump criticized the role Goldman Sachs has in the country, and now potentially filling key economic positions with Goldman people?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I think the cabal against the bankers is over. I think what Mr. Trump is really trying to do right now is put the country together. We've had a rough campaign, but he said most graciously in his speech and you can see it in his actions in terms of his outreach to so many different people, we really want to bring the country together, not just the party, not just the people that voted for Mr. Trump but the entire country.
So what I would say and I'm in these meetings, thankfully, I'm here at Trump Tower talking to you, if you saw the process, the American people would be super happy about the way we are going about this and the talent that we're seeing.
I think they would also be very proud about people willing to make these sorts of sacrifices to go into the government to serve them. That combination is great.
Now, I worked at Goldman Sachs 20 years ago so for some reason, I'm still, I guess it's permanently affixed on my forehead --
BOLDUAN: They brand you, I thought.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. It's probably on one of my cheeks. I won't say which one. Here's what I would say to you guys. Goldman Sachs was a phenomenal place when I was there. It is still a phenomenal place. It has a great team oriented culture.
People that are successful in their orientation have gone to work at Goldman. That's why it's been so phenomenally successful. I really hope this whole banker cabal and hatred dies down in the next three or four years.
BOLDUAN: There are reports out this morning, Jim Sciutto has just confirmed this, that Donald Trump, the president-elect, has been receiving on average one presidential daily briefing, those classified intelligence briefing a week. Far fewer than his predecessors, fewer than the vice president-elect according to a Reuters report. Is that enough for you?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, see, this is the problem with what's going on from the outside of the tower versus inside of the tower. I sit directly across from General Flynn and K.T. McFarland. I was just upstairs with Speaker Ryan and the president-elect, with General Flynn and K.T. McFarland.
And so the notion that he's getting one briefing versus ten briefings, I just really think it's not fair to him. I think he's very plugged into the national security situation of what's going on and he asks phenomenal questions.
There's also some other misnomer out there that he's not a great listener. I get the opportunity to sit in these meetings. I find the questions he's asking these people are not only demonstrating great intuition but just a real native understanding of complex situations around the world.
I just left General Flynn and K.T. to come down here to talk to you guys. I know they spent time with Mr. Trump this morning before the Speaker Ryan meeting. So I have to disagree with that. I'm trying to give your viewers real hands-on stuff that's actually going on here at Trump Tower.
BERMAN: We got to let you go. Those are not the intelligence briefings from the intelligence service that he's entitled to. He may be getting advice from General Flynn and K.T. McFarland, but that is a different thing, but I do understand your point. Anthony Scaramucci, thanks so much for being with us.
BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Anthony. We appreciate it.
SCARAMUCCI: Have a great weekend, guys. Thanks.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, top Democrats are sounding the alarm on Donald Trump's intelligence briefings. We will talk to one top member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who is speaking out about that.
BERMAN: Plus, from very bad to even worse in Aleppo, where the Syrian regime is now in near total control of that city. Thousands are fleeing. Too many have given up hope. We are live in the war zone next.