Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Inauguration Preparations Continue; The Inaugural Concert. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired January 19, 2017 - 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: And, as we discussed earlier, there were other entertainers who didn't necessarily support president-elect Trump who were invited to perform, who said that they would.
Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will begin in five minutes.
TAPPER: Just we're being told -- being told that it's five minutes.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Five minutes away.
TAPPER: Yes. Thanks to my executive for producer for making me interrupt that.
So, anyway, what I was saying was, just like there is this idea of -- that a lot of entertainers agreed with of just coming to honor the presidency, honor the peaceful transfer of power, honor the event, honor the nation.
TAPPER: But there was a backlash, and a lot of liberals were very critical of those entertainers who said they were going to perform, and a number of them pulled out.
But we will hear from some of them, Sam from Sam and Dave, the famous blues group Sam and Dave of "Soul Man" fame.
BASH: They're the ones who you followed around for a summer.
TAPPER: I followed Dave. I didn't follow Sam.
TAPPER: He will be performing. And then in between different acts, D.J. Ravidrums will be performing as well.
BASH: You talked about the people who said that no way, no how, I'm not going to show up. The people who did are saying, and who are going to be performing and it is going to be a lively concert, are performing in some cases because they genuinely support Donald Trump, but in other cases it's because they genuinely support this country. And they say this is about a peaceful transfer of power. And as we're
talking about this, what struck me is we talked so much over the past 18 months about this unconventional guy, Donald Trump. This is as conventional and traditional as it gets, getting off the big blue plane, going in the motorcade to Arlington, laying the wreath, coming here.
This is what presidents do to kick off their celebration. And that's what Donald Trump is doing.
TAPPER: It's been pretty traditional. I think that's fair to say.
It is interesting also, one of the things that's been going on is there have been individual Girl Scout troops that are going to be marching in the inaugural parade tomorrow, also individual Girl Scout troops that are going to be participating in the Saturday Women's March, which in many ways is a protest of Donald Trump.
TAPPER: And there has been a backlash against the Girl Scouts for letting Girl Scouts march in an inaugural parade, which a lot of people find odd given the Girl Scout tradition is generally just to let individual troupes engaged in civic participation however they want to.
Wolf Blitzer, you have covered a few of these. Do you agree with Dana here that this is a fairly traditional inauguration so far, despite it is a fairly untraditional president-elect?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Very untraditional president-elect, but a very traditional inauguration.
I have covered several of them, and it's unfolding the way it's supposed to unfold, precisely, with a very somber ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, now a very different event over at the Lincoln Memorial.
David Gregory, among others, is with us right now. You have covered a lot of these inaugurations as well.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BLITZER: So far, so good.
GREGORY: So far, so good.
It's a great part of our country and our democracy and the transfer of power. It's a beautiful day for it to get started. And it's worth remembering there are so many people who come here, a lot of them supporters of our president-elect, others may not necessarily be.
But to see this in person, to experience history is really -- I can remember being a student here in Washington and going to my first inauguration just as a student. I talked to friends who live in Northern Virginia who rented out part of their house, rented a room, and they had actually from Axe's hometown a mother and daughter from Chicago land who were coming to see the inauguration.
So, it's worth remembering how exciting it is for Americans of all political stripes to come see this close up and to take part in an extravaganza of democracy which includes this concert we're about to see.
BLITZER: Kate Bennett is with us, our newest CNN contributor.
Welcome, first of all, to CNN.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
BLITZER: Kate, I think it's fair to say we're going to see a new Washington starting tomorrow.
BENNETT: I think so.
You have to remember we're coming off a presidency that was culturally aware, that used popular culture and celebrities to its advantage strategically. That is going to be a different type of administration we're going to be seeing, but exciting nonetheless, just maybe a different breed of glitz and glamour.
BLITZER: It's exciting, and to a certain degree unpredictable.
BLITZER: Because it's Donald Trump. He will be the president of the United States. We have watched him very closely over many years, but especially over the past, what, year-and-a-half, two years as he was running and he actually won.
BENNETT: Exactly. I mean, no one -- maybe most of us might not have predicted this moment. But as I'm walking over here, Americans were filling in and people had their banners and the guys were rolling up their carts to sell the Trump paraphernalia on the street corners. And it was feeling very exciting and electricity was happening. And it's going to be here.
BLITZER: David Axelrod is with us as well.
What's going through your mind right now?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can't claim with a straight face to have predicted that he would be here today, so, let's get that straight.
A couple of things. One is, I was a 9-year-old at Lyndon Johnson's inaugural came. See, I was one of those young people who was pie-eyed in watching an inaugural. That is one of my early political experiences. But I'm thinking today also of the incoming White House staff, the
incoming Cabinet and their staffs, because as people are celebrating this moment, they are contemplating that, at noon tomorrow, the responsibility of running the United States government will be theirs.
And, so, there is always that in the back of your mind. It's an exhilarating moment on the one hand. On the other hand, you're a bit, you know, daunted about what's about to happen.
BLITZER: You were with President Obama exactly eight years ago when that responsibility all of a sudden dawned on him. He was then the president of the United States, no longer simply president-elect or a candidate.
AXELROD: It's quite a transformation.
And, you know, that particular -- I have told this story before, but we were -- there was a threat of some action on the inauguration. And so there was quite a bit of activity behind the scenes that nobody was aware of.
But for those of us who were about to step into office, the realization of the enormous responsibilities that we were about to undertake were very clear from the moment he stepped on that stage.
BLITZER: Emily, you have been covering this first, soon to be first family for a while now. Give us a little insight what's going through their minds.
EMILY JANE FOX, "VANITY FAIR": Well, I think this is incomprehensible for most of the family. This is a role that they never felt that they would play, and I think they're awestruck.
These are traditions that -- this is a show business family, right? These are not strangers to the spotlight. They have been -- the children have been in the spotlight their entire lives, but this is a very different kind of spotlight, a tremendous amount of responsibility.
And I think they are really -- you're seeing them really appreciate that and watching that dawn on them. They're letting it play out in the public. They're posting about how awe-inspiring this is for them. So, this is really a millennial version of the first family that you're seeing for the first time.
These are adult children and it's just really interesting to watch that play out.
BLITZER: Jake and Dana, this concert where you are over at the Lincoln Memorial getting ready to begin.
TAPPER: That's right. And beyond the individual acts, I have to say, this is really a moment for the country. This is going to be the first time that the American people see president-elect Donald Trump in the role of commander in chief with the first family. We will hear from him at the end of the concert. He will address
everybody. And it's just a big moment. I think a lot of people are used to seeing president-elect Trump in campaign events. They're used to seeing him in certain settings.
BASH: In the tower of Trump Tower -- in the lobby of Trump Tower.
TAPPER: In Trump Tower, in the boardroom for "The Apprentice," et cetera.
TAPPER: This will be -- every time there is a new president, it's a little strange at first to see him in the new role.
BASH: That's so true.
TAPPER: And try to adjust your brain around the fact that this person is the one we're going to hear from the next four to eight years. This person who didn't seem prepared for it is now in charge, ready or not.
But this is somebody who has not been a governor, has not been a senator, is the first person to be elected president without ever having held public office or a military rank in the history of this nation.
BASH: You think Barack Obama had been sworn in before as state senator, as United States senator. George W. Bush had been sworn in before with his hand on a Bible as governor and it went on and on and on.
BASH: He's never been sworn in before for anything.
TAPPER: No. No.
And while there was a tradition in the 19th century of people who had been generals who were then elected to the presidency, he is the first person who has neither been a public servant or an officer in the military. So, this is really new, in the sense of he's never really been in charge of a public sector or military enterprise.
Now, of course, he's a very successful businessman with a global business empire, but it's just going take an adjustment for people to wrap their heads around. You heard Tom Barrack, his dear friend and the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, talking about how he has seen the transformation begin as the weight of this office has started to settle on the shoulders of Donald Trump.
BASH: That's right.
But before that happens, which is going to be very soon, there is going to be a celebration here. He is going to appear as the celebration is beginning. And it's going to end, not surprisingly, with a fireworks display, which is the ultimate show of celebration in America.
And I should say that the company doing the fireworks display holds the Guinness world record for largest fireworks display.
TAPPER: Of course. To be involved in this inaugural, you have to be associated with a reality TV show TV or in the Guinness Book of World Records."
BASH: I think it's a rule.
But in fairness to him, this is the seventh consecutive presidential inauguration that they're doing. And if you hear the announcement behind me, they're saying that this is a celebration that is about to begin.
TAPPER: It is about to begin.
As soon as it begins, we will shut up and let it begin.
We should also note, Lee Greenwood, who is going to be one of the first performers that we hear from, this will be the fourth president for whom he performs at their inaugural, having performed at the inaugurals of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
When we talk about president-elect Trump in his inaugural, if nothing else, keeping with tradition, Lee Greenwood is part of that family tradition, to quote a different country music star.
BASH: As is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They have done this before. The Rockettes have done this before. And we're going to both of those behind us.
But I think -- but, as you said, the most fascinating thing as Americans and really people around the world, it's going to be to lay our eyes on Donald Trump and Melania Trump and watch them watching the celebration and try to imagine what's going on in their minds.
I mean, as we all know and as president-elect Trump has discussed, they did not think this was going to happen. They were not expecting it. They wanted it to happen. He worked very hard for it to happen. But they were not expecting it.
So, there is a certain reality that takes place with any president- elect. We talked about this, the first intelligence briefing that one undergoes as president-elect, when you hear about the actual threats to the nation and the responsibility you have.
BASH: You know, before coming on with Tom Barrack, the president- elect's very good friend, he was saying not only does he think that the president-elect is going to be less glib when he actually takes the oath of office. He said we just had to get him out of Trump Tower. We just had to get him out of his comfort zone, out of his familiar surroundings, where he does things as candidate Trump and before that businessman Trump.
And being in the Oval Office is definitely not a familiar surrounding for Donald Trump or anybody.
TAPPER: No, and it's true. There have been different moments throughout this process, where you have seen humility in president- elect Trump, who is not particularly known for humility.
To be fair, neither was his predecessor. But he has really shown moments of saying, I'm honored. I'm honored to be here. I'm proud to be here.
He did that early on in the process, quite a bit when he would do interviews and people would take him seriously. He was honored to be taken seriously along with others in terms of his policy positions and others.
And then, of course, it was a wild ride through the primaries and through the general election. And I think we have seen glimpses of that same humility as the weight of the office and the realization of what he is responsible for -- let's listen in.
It's -- it's beginning.
[16:17:52] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take a very quick break. When we come back, we're going to see the president-elect come out and join the crowd here at the Lincoln Memorial.
Stay with us.
[16:22:19] TAPPER: We're back at the Lincoln Memorial at a concert celebrating the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. And Mr. Trump will soon make his entrance on the eve of his swearing in ceremony.
We're listening to a little John Philip Sousa right now. In a few minutes we'll hear from the actor John Voight.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's just going to kickoff the festivities here. What's going to be interesting to watch out Donald Trump comes in. He likes to make an entrance.
TAPPER: He's a man who enjoys a big entrance. BASH: He does. He does. He understands the beauty of stage craft
and of theatrics. We saw that the first night or the second night of the Republican convention. And we understand he's going to come down the stairs here which I don't remember other president-elects, almost presidents doing, do you?
TAPPER: We're going to listen to the national anthem.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the presentation of colors, the playing of the national anthem, and the retirement of the colors.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: His innovative and dynamic drumming has been seen everywhere from the super bowl to the academy awards. Please welcome the rhythmic beats of Ravidrums.
(DJ RAVIDRUMS' PERFORMANCE)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)