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Donald Trump Inauguration Tomorrow; Ethical Questions Grow About Trump Cabinet Nominees; Outgoing Commerce Secretary Talks Trade; Obama's Final Word. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired January 19, 2017 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:31:10] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: We are one day away from the Donald Trump presidency. Final preparations underway here as Trump gets ready for his full-time move to D.C. We are live here in Washington.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ethics questions growing louder for some of the president-elect's nominees. Can Democrats slow down the confirmation process?
ROMANS: And, President Obama holds his final session with reporters. What is his parting wisdom for the incoming commander-in-chief?
Welcome back to EARLY START from Washington, D.C. I'm Christine Romans.
BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Great to see you this morning. We're looking at 31 minutes after the hour and welcome to the last full day of the Obama presidency. Tomorrow, right here behind us on the steps of the Capitol, the most beautiful building in all America, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. And with just hours to go now until that all happens there's a rush of last-minute preparations underway all across this city.
Today, the president-elect flies here to Washington and for the first time he will arrive on an Air Force jet, not a Trump plane. It means, you know, less gold inlay, I think. This afternoon, the president- elect will attend a wreath-laying at Arlington. He will also attend two concerts. CNN's Athena Jones joins us now this morning. She is at the White House to lay out the president-elect's big day -- Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, John. Well, his last -- the president-elect's last full day as president-elect is shaping up to be a pretty busy one. As you mentioned, he will be flying back to D.C. on a military aircraft.
He's expected to arrive around mid-day. He'll head to Arlington National Cemetery for that wreath-laying. And then, in the mid- afternoon he goes to a concert that's called "The Voices of the People" pre-concert event. That will be held down by the monument. And then, in the late afternoon, early evening, he's going to attend what's being dubbed a "Make America Great Again" welcome concert. That will take place by the -- at the Lincoln Memorial and it will feature Toby Keith, John Voight, Lee Greenwood, Three Doors Down, and others.
Now, he also had a bus night in D.C. last night. The president-elect attending two dinners, one of them to honor cabinet secretaries, the other one to honor his incoming vice president, Mike Pence. It was at that dinner for Pence that the president-elect met with some Wounded Warriors. He tweeted a picture of that -- we can put it up on the screen -- thanking those Wounded Warriors for their service.
And he's also spending this last day, or these last couple of days, finalizing his cabinet choices. CNN has learned he's going to tap former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue to head the Agriculture Department. This is interesting because now Trump has wrapped up his cabinet. This is going to be the first cabinet in about 30 years that doesn't have any Latino representation. Latinos have served in cabinet positions in every presidential administration since 1988, so that's something that's getting some attention. Back to you guys.
BERMAN: All right. Athena Jones for us at the White House. Great to have your live report. Thanks for waking up for us, Athena.
ROMANS: It really is. We love the early birds this morning.
ROMANS: The race is on to get cabinet members confirmed, guys, before the end of Donald Trump's first day in office tomorrow and, slowly, the process or the ethical questions about some of the nominees. Mr. Trump's pick to head the Office of Management & Budget, Congressman Mick Mulvaney. He admitted failing to pay employment taxes for a babysitter -- about $15,000 in taxes. He said he mistakenly believed babysitters were not taxable employees and he paid the taxes as soon as he learned otherwise.
Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross had a housekeeper he says he just learned was undocumented. He says he did his best to verify the employee's documents at the time of hiring, but "it turned out that was incorrect." And there are questions about an investment by the Health & Human Services nominee, Tom Price. More on that in a moment.
BERMAN: Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling this the "swamp" cabinet, carefully chosen words, and he is slamming what he calls the rushed schedule of the hearings.
[05:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: These past two weeks we have seen repeated efforts from the Trump transition, aided and abetted by Senate Republicans, to jam through nominees in a way that hides their views from the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Senator Schumer says that Democrats may try to slow down the confirmation process. More confirmation hearings set for this morning. Former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary, former Texas governor Rick Perry up to be Energy Secretary.
ROMANS: A billionaire business person, not a politician, comes to Washington to run the Commerce Department. An outsider with deep pockets who wants to juice the American economy. Yes, that describes the billionaire investor Wilbur Ross if he is confirmed. He had hearings yesterday.
But another billionaire had that job first. Penny Pritzker. We spoke last night in an exclusive interview. I asked her the incoming administration's rejection of Obama's trade agenda -- what she thinks about that. Wilbur Ross told senators his first priority is to renegotiate NAFTA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENNY PRITZKER, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Look, I think, first of all, Mexico and Canada are extremely important trading partners for the United States. But what you don't want to do is throw out the baby with the bathwater, and I don't think that's what Wilbur Ross has in mind. What he wants to do is improve the trade deal between the three countries. TPP did a lot of that -- state-owned enterprises, labor, you know.
Look, Mexico just changed their constitution to improve their labor laws to elevate the quality of conditions and opportunity for labor in their country. That was a direct result of the TPP negotiation. We should take advantage of that. NAFTA can benefit from all that, but why not bring the other nine countries along who want to have the same deal? I don't get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Remember, this is an administration that was going for TPP, it was going for multi-lateral trade deals. It was moving forward with trade and free trade and, boy, the brakes have been put on all of that.
"CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan is here. Eugene Scott is here. It's always a really interesting time to talk to outgoing cabinet secretaries when they're watching, you know, the new team come to town here. But she was really pushing how strong she things the U.S. economy is. How she thinks this team -- the incoming Trump team is wrong about trade and about protectionism, and she says she has talked to Wilbur Ross about that.
TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, it's going to be really interesting to see how quickly the gears are switched. You know, one question is how quickly they can be. You know, how fast the Trump administration can move to deliver on some of its promises on trade. It's not that easy, you know, to put in border taxes and, you know, renegotiate treaties and that kind of thing, so they're going to have a little bit of time to have to work these issues out.
It's also going to be really interesting to see if once in office, you know, if the Republicans in the House and Senate get a little bit concerned about some of the policies. We've already heard them speaking out against some of the tariffs that Donald Trump has tweeted about. Things are not as easy as they seem when you're governing.
ROMANS: Well, for example, talking about gutting NAFTA or changing NAFTA. One of the biggest beneficiaries of NAFTA has been American agriculture. What is his incoming Ag secretary going to say about how -- you know, how you've got NAFTA or changed NAFTA? But, Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary nominee, says NAFTA will be the first thing -- first thing they --
BERMAN: Look, I wouldn't underestimate what will be an instant change in disposition. They may not be able to force --
BERMAN: -- all the changes through that they want, but there's just no question that the attitude will be different, and it already is, you know. And TPP is dead, effectively, in the water right now and that happened the minute that Donald Trump was elected, so big changes have already happened --
BERMAN: -- certainly tonally. Eugene, Iwant to talk a little bit about ethics because Democrats are pushing hard on these ethics issues. Mick Mulvaney up to be head of the Office of Management and Budget. Didn't pay $15,000 worth of employment taxes, which is a lot for a babysitter, I think. He admitted to that. Chuck Schumer talked about the fact that in past confirmation processes that might have been enough to derail someone. Listen to Chuck Schumer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If Tom Daschle couldn't become a cabinet member for not paying taxes for a household employee, then the same standard ought to apply to Mick Mulvaney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now, Eugene, I get a sense we're going to hear a lot about gooses and ganders, or geese and ganders as the case may be going forward. Tom Daschle ended up paying $140,000 worth of taxes, which is, you know --
ROMANS: It was for car services, right?
BERMAN: -- significantly more and it was for drivers and what-not, but you get the point there. Do we think that ethics could derail any of these nominees, for real?
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I have -- I have no confidence that ethics is going to derail any of these nominees. But I think you have to figure out what the Democrats are looking at and when they're trying to consider what is a win. I think what the Democrats are trying to do, knowing that they probably can't block as many nominees as they would like, is just paint a much clearer picture of the people that Donald Trump is appointing to lead this U.S. government. [05:40:00] We're seeing them attack these nominees on many of the same issues that the Democrats and Hillary Clinton were pretty aggressive and productive at attacking Donald Trump on in terms of conflicts of interests, a lack of integrity, and a lack transparency. And I think what we're going to see throughout, just going beyond even this nomination process, is these issues continue to be brought up.
ROMANS: I think you're also seeing who will emerge from the Democrats as the real attack dogs and driving the agenda here. We've seen from Bernie Sanders in a couple of hearings a really strong progressive voice there where's he's been very sharp. Elizabeth Warren, same thing.
BERMAN: Al Franken, all of a sudden emerging.
ROMANS: And then you hear Tom Perez. These was this DNC -- not really a debate, but this DNC debate last night. He said this. He said, "We could hit them between the eyes with a two by four and treat him" -- Donald Trump -- "like Mitch McConnell treated Barack Obama." And he's, you know, a candidate for DNC chair. It's interesting to see who will emerge, I guess, as the next line of Democrats now.
SCOTT: Yes, there's great interest as the Democratic Party is trying to figure out who they are going to be in a Trump administration and how they can convince the American people, many of who voted for President Obama but did not back Donald Trump, that they really are the party that's looking out for their concerns, and some of them have to do that very aggressively. And we're going to see new voices, I believe, raise to the surface.
ROMANS: Do you think so?
SCOTT: Yes, I do.
KOPAN: Well, we have to. I mean, Bernie Sanders could run again in 2020 but, you know, some of these voices that we're talking about are getting up there in years, as well. And so, the Democrats have to strike this balance right now where they have these stars that exist, like Sanders and Warren, that can command a stage, that can create a viral moment, which is one of the only wins you can get out of these hearings. But who comes next is a huge question for Democrats.
BERMAN: And they've got to build beyond just behind us right here. It can't come just from there.
BERMAN: What the Republicans have done is build all across the country. That's why they have the bench they have right now. Guys, stick around. President Obama, he held his final news conference before leaving office. We'll talk about his reflections and his hope for the future. That's next.
[05:45:35] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not just a matter of no drama Obama, this is -- this is what I really believe. It is true that behind closed doors I curse more than I do in front of them and sometimes I get mad and frustrated like everybody else does. But in my core, I think we're going to be OK. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it and not take it for granted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was the president admitting to swearing behind closed doors. That was his final news conference. His final time to meet with members of the press. He was probably kinder to them in that news conference --
BERMAN: -- in some ways than he's been in the eight years in his administration. He was talking about the past. He was also talking about the future. Joining us once again, Tal Kopan and Eugene Scott. You know, we are in this city that is changing beneath us right now. One of the most amazing things that I want people to understand, if they haven't been in Washington for a presidential transition, is how you can feel it --
BERMAN: -- all around you. And it's not just the barricades, it's not just the hustle and bustle, but it's certain people coming and certain people going out, and there's a big difference, Tal.
KOPAN: Yes, absolutely, and emotion, too. I mean, it's who you talk to and what their state of mind is. And there's been a rapid swing for people on the Democratic side versus the Republican side, you know. Republicans are ready for a party this weekend. I mean, it has been eight years in the wilderness for them, so to speak, and now they have their guy in the White House, and you're going to see it in the balls all around town.
Whereas, Democrats are going to have to figure out what comes next. And so, there are also going to be some protests this weekend that we're going. So this town is preparing for that sort of different energies to come in. It's going to be a very different emotional time in Washington.
ROMANS: I was at the Commerce Department yesterday and you can see the physical transformation.
ROMANS: Even there are boxes, as people are packing up their offices. There are pictures, you know, coming off the wall, the private art of -- you know, the Commerce Secretary packs up to go. I mean, it's really interesting how it is a new day -- a new day starts -- well, actually "NEW DAY" starts in 13 minutes, but a new day starts in Washington starting tomorrow. What do we think we're going to hear from the president-elect? I know he's going to stand on -- behind us on those steps. He's going to put America first. He says that's what he's writing.
SCOTT: I certainly think he's going to talk about putting America first. And I think, honestly, one thing he is going to focus on quite a bit because there have been calls to is to unifying America and trying to get behind one vision. This has been a very difficult week in terms of unity. We see more than, I think, 30 percent of Democratic lawmakers planning to boycott this inauguration. And so I think what he's going to try to convince the people is that he really does have the desire to represent this country -- America as a whole -- on the international stage and for everyone, with everyone's best interest at the forefront.
BERMAN: The criticism from some is that he hasn't spoken, Tal, nearly at all to the people who did not vote for him in this election. He has his ardent supporters, many people who have felt unheard over the last eight years, but he hasn't spoken to the other people yet.
KOPAN: Yes. You know, he's said things like I'm going to be president for all Americans and I want to unite the country. I'm thinking back to his election night speech. That might be sort of the model for what we might hear from tomorrow. But what he hasn't really said, at any point, is I understand why you didn't vote for me and here's how I'm going to address those concerns. Now, that's sort of an Obama tactic, right?
KOPAN: To think through things and be slightly professorial is how Obama approached issues. Donald Trump is going to have to approach things as Donald Trump. But I think there's a large segment of the population that's looking for him to say not just I'm going to be president for all Americans, but here's how I'm going to be president for all Americans.
ROMANS: You know, just listening to the president -- the current president's press conference yesterday, it's so different the way these two men communicate. I mean, it could not be more different. The president taking a long time to give a sentence where he pauses and he thinks about what he's trying to say and Donald Trump uses Twitter.
ROMANS: It's going to be such an adjustment, I think, in the communication -- in communications of this new president.
SCOTT: I certainly think so, and it's really interesting because different people are responding to that differently.
SCOTT: So, generally speaking, Americans wish Donald Trump would back away from Twitter a bit, but when you parse those numbers a bit, many of the Republicans, many of the people who backed him like it and they like that he's aggressive. And they like, perhaps, that he is not focused as much on, as he would call them, the losers, as perhaps President Obama has been on the people who did not vote for Hillary.
[05:50:00] ROMANS: You know what I hear a lot from friends and family, people I know who are Donald Trump supporters in the Midwest? They say you guys are so uptight. Why are people so uptight about Donald Trump, you know? Who cares about his tweets?
BERMAN: And then you say, we're just uptight.
ROMANS: John's uptight, you know. I'm not uptight. But, no, what I mean is, you know, I think Serena so perfectly put it, you know. We spend too much time taking him literally but not seriously. The rest of the country takes him seriously but not literally. I mean, I think that we're -- everyone's in for an adjustment and you can feel that. You can feel that in Washington right now.
KOPAN: Yes, they like that it's unfiltered and unvarnished. You know, the Obama argument is that it's important to think through your words because words have consequences. But the Trump argument is, you know, let's not -- let's not play politics. Let's say what we mean, let's negotiate deals, and let's move forward.
And, you know, sometimes you've seen his tweets come out and the people around him seem to be sort of scrambling to contextualize and put what he tweets into play, including the Republicans on the Hill who sometimes have no idea what exactly he's going after, but they like that he's clear about it, at least.
BERMAN: Thirty hours -- about 30 hours and 10 minutes to go until it all begins. Eugene Scott, Tal Kopan, thanks so much for being with us this morning. You will be here with us all week. Appreciate it.
ROMANS: You guys are great.
ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump's pro-growth policies have given a huge boost to the stock market since Election Day, so where does the so-called Trump bump stack up against some of the biggest presidential rallies of all time?
BERMAN: I know because you told me last hour.
ROMANS: I know. We're going to get a check on CNN Money Stream next.
ROMANS: Breaking overnight, dozens of people feared dead after an avalanche slams into a hotel in Italy. Officials say the roof partially collapsed. So far, two people have been rescued. At least 22 people were staying at this hotel in the Abruzzo region. Authorities say a series of earthquakes in central Italy targeted that avalanche.
BERMAN: The FBI is investigating a new wave of bomb threats at a Jewish community center -- Jewish community centers, really, across the country. This is the second time in two weeks these centers have been targeted. Officials say 27 centers in 17 states received threatening phone calls this week. Some of the facilities were evacuated as a precaution. No devices were found. Federal authorities, right now, are investigating.
[05:55:15] ROMANS: The teenager who was discovered 18 years after being abducted as a newborn from her mother's hospital bed in Florida, she's speaking out for the first time. Alexis Manigo says she has accepted the fact that she was actually born as Kamiyah Mobley, but she says it's hard to view her apparent abductor in a negative way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXIS MANIGO, TEENAGER KIDNAPPED AT BIRTH: I still feel the same about her. Nothing -- there's nothing different. There is nothing different. I'm processing it, like I said, but I'm a big girl. It's just life is just at my front door right now. But I'm a big girl. I can process it all. But like I said, my feelings towards my mother will never change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: A DNA test revealed last week that Alexis was the newborn stolen from a hospital in 1998 by a woman posing as a nurse. The woman who raised her is now in jail.
Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning here. Dow futures slightly lower on the docket. Confirmation hearing of the Treasury Secretary pick, Steve Mnuchin, that could move markets. A mixed picture in global markets right now. Stocks in Europe are down. Shares in Asia closing mixed overnight.
Upbeat comments from the Federal Reserve Chief Janet Yellen yesterday, really failing to excite investors. Here's what she said. She said the labor market is near full employment. Consumer prices are near the Fed's target. She called the economic recovery a long, slow, slog.
Watch Netflix today. Shares of Netflix today -- the stock is up nearly eight percent -- eight percent in pre-market trading. Another huge quarter of subscriber growth. It added seven million customers in the final quarter of 2016.
ROMANS: The stock has surged 51 percent over the past six months. Over all of last year it added 19 million members.
BERMAN: The crowd is really good.
ROMANS: It is.
BERMAN: The crowd is really, really good.
ROMANS: It's so good. It's so good. Netflix now has a total of 93.8 million subscribers worldwide. This year it should pass another milestone, more customers overseas than in the U.S. All right, this is a pop quiz. What president saw the biggest stock
market rally from Election Day to their inauguration?
BERMAN: It's really hard.
ROMANS: It's not Donald Trump, but he is among the big gainers in history, going back to Ithink 1900 we looked at his. He has a 6.5 percent gain on the S&P 500 sincehe was elected. That's better than presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Dwight Eisenhower after their -- after their victories. There's two trading days left in this timespan for Trump. He probably won't catch JFK -- he had 8.8 percent -- or Herbert Hoover at more than 10 percent. Hoover was actually inaugurated in March so we adjustment the math on this one to match the others.
The biggest rally ever from Election Day to inauguration belongs to Calvin Coolidge, 1924, 1925. The S&P was just 90 stocks at that point but it gained in incredible 17.1 percent.
BERMAN: You know, what's interesting to me is that a lot of these gains have seen -- came quickly, you know, in November and December --
BERMAN: -- and now it seems that the market's saying show me.
ROMANS: There's a lid. There's a lid.
BERMAN: You really have to show me what you're going to do. We're going to wait and see before we act again.
ROMANS: Show me the money. The like infrastructure, they like tax reform, they like pro-growth policies, and now they want to see what they are and how quickly they come. You know, look, CEO's say their concerned about protectionism but they are adding jobs.
BERMAN: They want to see something delivered, though, next.
ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.
BERMAN: Tomorrow, 3:00 a.m., tune in. I'm John Berman. "NEW DAY" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PRICE, DHHS NOMINEE: Everything that we have done has been aboveboard, transparent, ethical, and legal.
SCHUMER: This is a swamp cabinet full of bankers and billionaires.
SCOTT PRIUTT, EPA NOMINEE: I do not believe that climate change is a hoax.
OBAMA: If you're only hearing from people who agree with you on everything you start making mistakes.
NIKKI HALEY, U.N. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. NOMINEE: Russia is trying to show their muscle. I don't think that we can trust them.
GOV. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: President Donald Trump's going to hit the ground running.
BERMAN: More than 30 percent of House Democrats now boycotting the inauguration.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": What do you say to people about the word of a commutation of the sentence of Chelsea Manning?
ASH CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I did not support the direction the president went.
OBAMA: In my core, I think we're going to be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Thursday, January 19th, 6:00 here in Washington, D.C. This is where history will be made. Donald John Trump will be sworn in tomorrow as the 45th President of the United States. The president-elect hoping most of his cabinet will be confirmed as he takes office.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But, Democrats trying to slow things down, focusing on ethical issues for some of Mr. Trump's nominees. And there are questions about the incoming administration'sreadiness to take the reins of federal government. We are one day away from the inauguration. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She is live on Capitol Hill. Good morning, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn. President-elect Donald Trump is pushing for his cabinet nominees to be confirmed quickly.