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Donald Trump's Speech; Trump's Treasury Pick Faces Grilling; Mike Pence Speech. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired January 19, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some exclusionary group that doesn't allow individuals in that are there to do real reporting and cover the administration is false. And I think if the Trump administration tries to continue to push that out there, they're not telling the truth about the White House press corps and what it actually represents.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
MATTINGLY: Now, will they want better access for some of the publications that they feel are more supportive of them? Potentially other White Houses also tend to feed reporters that they feel most comfortable with. That's not crazy. That's not against what we've seen.
I think the big issue now is, don't conflate what you kind of -- your negative opinions about the press corps with what the White House Correspondents Association, what the White House press corps actually is. It is a group of reporters across the ideological spectrum who have press passes, who cover the White House how they want to cover the White House. That shouldn't change. Who you call on is up to you. But there is an effective way to cover the White House that has been consistent over the last couple administrations.
COSTELLO: OK. I've got to -- I've got to leave this here because Sean Spicer's coming up any moment and I'm going to ask you all to stay because we got the two-minute warning. We don't know if that really means anything, but we got that.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Right.
COSTELLO: Guys, stay with me. I've got to take a break. We'll be back with much more.
COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you very much for joining me live from Washington, D.C. See, we're all ready for the big day on Friday. The city looks amazing. Welcome back.
Busy, busy schedule for the Trump team as it gears up for Inauguration Day. Any minute now, Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump's pick for the White House press secretary, will hold his very first on-camera briefing. These are live pictures out of Washington. The flags are ready to go. [09:35:04] Also happening in the nation's capital, another wave of
hearings as Trump tries to get his cabinet into place. First up, Rick Perry, Trump's pick for energy secretary. That hearing expected to get underway any minute now. And then next hour, Steve Mnuchin is in the hot seat. He's tapped for treasury secretary. We'll continue to monitor all of this.
So, back with me now, Phil Mattingly, Rick Santorum, Frank Sesno and Maria Cardona. Also joining our panel, Paul Glastris. He's a former speech writer for President Bill Clinton. He's also editor in chief for "The Washington Monthly."
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Should we start with the newcomer? I think we should.
CARDONA: Yes, we should.
COSTELLO: Let's talk about Mr. Trump's speech because he said he sat down and he wrote it himself. And I know you've participated in many a presidential speech. Do you think he did write it all himself?
PAUL GLASTRIS, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Impossible to know. Presidents don't typically write their own speeches, although Barack Obama wrote quite a few of his. They will download their thoughts to a panel of speech writers and senior staff. They'll then look at drafts, edit them very carefully. President Clinton, after multiple drafts, would then sit there and go line by line and rewrite and -- as he tried it out. So they -- even if they don't write it themselves, they make it their own.
COSTELLO: Well, and I just say that because Donald Trump is so much better when he speaks off-the-cuff.
GLASTRIS: Right. Yes. And he kind of knows that, too. That's been kind of the secret to his rise. And he -- during certain times at the end of the campaign was sticking to texts. The texts weren't terribly inspiring and he didn't speak them with much enjoyment. So it will be interesting to see him in this mode of speaking, not just in a -- with a text, but in the most august and ceremonial and important settings you can imagine.
COSTELLO: And, Rick, Mr. Trump is going to talk about unity. Do you think he'll reach out and recognize some of those people who were adamantly against him? Hillary Clinton, for example, or George W. Bush or --
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean magnanimity is not one of Donald Trump's greatest virtues.
SANTORUM: But -- but --
FRANK SESNO, DIR., SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV.: That's an understatement. SANTORUM: It -- there's -- there is a point in time where, you know, the president, if he's going to talk unity, and he is, has to start demonstrating it. And clearly the inaugural address is sort of step one, day one to do that. So I -- I do expect him to be magnanimous at his inaugural and not boast about how much he won or how big the crowd is. Maybe he'll mention the crowd.
COSTELLO: Oh, yes, he will.
SANTORUM: What am I saying? What am I saying? Of course he'll mention the crowd.
COSTELLO: I don't mean --
SESNO: It will be interesting to see what he mentions if there are demonstrations, audible demonstrations in the crowd in the middle of his speech. Does he react to that? He's not going to be able to throw them out. That -- that has not happened, that I can recall, in inaugurals that I've covered and seen. It could well happen today -- tomorrow.
SANTORUM: I don't know that anybody's going to get close enough to be heard.
COSTELLO: Yes, I don't either.
SANTORUM: This -- this place is pretty cordoned off.
COSTELLO: Don't you think they'll keep them (INAUDIBLE).
SESNO: If they know who they are.
COSTELLO: Oh, that's true, because they do have a way --
CARDONA: They'll show them on camera at least.
COSTELLO: They'll show them on camera.
COSTELLO: So he says, though, he's going to talk about unity, Maria.
COSTELLO: And the country does need to unify behind the president of the United States, whether you like the guy or not. So what can he say --
CARDONA: Well, right.
COSTELLO: What can he say for you to say, well, maybe?
CARDONA: I think he needs to talk about how this campaign was divisive, but now is the time to reach out to everybody, including frankly the majority of Americans who did not vote for him, and work together on the issues that we all care about. And he should mention the communities of color that feel so fearful and anxious and terrified at this man taking office. And this speech I believe is going to be pivotal, especially because he has not been magnanimous since the night of the election. And I gave him credit for that night during the election when he won. He was magnanimous. That was the last time though that you could describe him as being that because since then he has been as divisive, you know, as -- as -- hitting back to people that he sees are insulting him as he was during the campaign. So you have, you know, Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, women, all of the people that have felt insulted during the 18 months of the campaign thinking, this is not a guy who seems to want to represent me. And --
COSTELLO: So -- so --
CARDONA: One particular element that's important, too, the cabinet is lacking a Hispanic American for the first time since 1988. So I think he needs to acknowledge that kind of divisiveness and be the one to reach out to try to have unity.
COSTELLO: Well, let's ask the speech writer. So, Paul, if you were helping Mr. Trump with his speech and Mr. Trump wanted to unify the country at this fraught time, and it is fraught, what would you tell him to write?
GLASTRIS: Speeches are not about words, they're about the substance behind the words. So there are substantive that Donald Trump ran on that can appeal to people across the aisle.
[09:40:03] Let's just pick infrastructure. You know, building roads and bridges, which is one that everyone acknowledges both sides care about. If he were to hit -- he does -- you don't want to -- an inauguration speech to be a State of the Union, right? But there are ways of talking about the substantive policy of his agenda that, if he carries it forth, this could be a very memorable and important speech.
If, however, he is magnanimous and says wonderful things about groups that he's, you know, previously insulted and then, you know, two days later insults them again, right?
GLASTRIS: If he doesn't carry through with some of the interesting bipartisan policy ideas that he's put forth, then it's empty rhetoric. But if he does, if this is -- does mark a change, this will be an important speech.
COSTELLO: So -- so -- I'm just, you know, judging the -- I don't know, on a scale of one to ten, the importance of this particular speech, since it is such a strange time in our history. Is this speech perhaps more important than others in modern times, Frank?
CARDONA: Yes. SESNO: I mean there -- this is his first speech as president of the United States, not as the outsider looking in. This is a speech, and presidents have done it all the way back, where he sets the soaring themes, where this is a kinder, gentler, or the better angels of our nature, or whatever we -- he chooses to say. There are words to be remembered by. This is sort of the constitution of his administration. And we will be coming back to this, journalists, historians, citizens, to see what goals he lays out and how he articulates them. Are they jobs for all Americans? Is this a conversation that engages all Americans?
SESNO: Is there a hand across the aisle? Is this going to be an indication of how he governs, how he speaks, the tone he sets for his administration and this era? We are in an era now. And the country enters that era with great anxiety.
SESNO: And this is an opportunity for him to address that anxiety and say, I am now everyone's president, and this is my vision.
COSTELLO: OK, well, I have to leave it there. Thanks to all of you so much. So interesting. So fascinating. Phil Mattingly, Rick Santorum, Frank Sesno, Maria Cardona and Paul Glastris, thank you so much.
And thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. Our special coverage of all these live events in Washington begins after a break. See you.
[09:45:47] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Jake Tapper live in Washington.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.
Today, all eyes are on the last two Senate confirmation hearings before Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. That will happen at noon eastern tomorrow right here in Washington. Facing the Senate as we speak is the energy secretary nominee, the former Texas governor, Rick Gerry. Perry now says he regrets recommending back in 2012 that the Energy Department should be abolished.
And moments from now, one of Trump's most controversial nominees faces the Senate. Former Goldman Sachs backer Steve Mnuchin, picked to lead the Treasury Department, faces questions about his record on foreclosures, among other issues.
And then at 2:45 p.m. Eastern, the president-elect and the vice president-elect, Mike Pence, they will place a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. And later, a pre-inaugural concert over at the Lincoln Memorial at which Donald Trump is expected to speak. A busy day.
TAPPER: And at any moment the incoming White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, we're told, will give a briefing. We will cover that live as it happens.
Let's go live now, however, to Capitol Hill, where we will meet CNN senior congressional reporter Manu Raju.
Manu, busy, busy day on Capitol Hill today.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, just another one of those contentious hearings that we're expecting here, as we've seen these very partisan hearings take shape over the last couple of days, whether it's Betsy DeVos for education secretary, Tom Price for Health and Human Services. That's what's going to happen with Steve Mnuchin's hearing that's going to kick off in just a few minutes. Watch for Democrats to go very aggressively after Mr. Mnuchin's record during the time of the housing collapse and in 2009 as investment in the subprime mortgage lender Indy Mac (ph), and Republicans to come pretty aggressively to his defense, saying that he is being attacked.
In fact, Mr. Mnuchin, in his opening statement, is expected to say something along the lines of, my character has been unfairly maligned, and that he's had extensive work in the financial sector and is well prepared for this job.
And one other issue that's hanging over this, Democrats have not been happy with the paperwork that he's been submitting back and forth to the committee, leaving out some of his investments in the initial round of questionnaires he submitted to the Senate Finance Committee. He has since amended those. And -- but Democrats are already jumping on that omission. So expect that also to be a line of questioning, but no question about it, this is going to be one of the more contentious nominations, one of the most -- m ore contentious hearings Democrats hoping they can flip some Republicans to oppose Mr. Mnuchin. No sign of that happening just quote yet guys.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thank you so much.
And Steve Mnuchin just one of the controversial nominees the Democrats are going to attempt to draw some blood from today. We also have, of course, the nominee for secretary of energy, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who famously in 2012 listed three agents he wanted to get rid of. One of them, the one that he actually forgot during the debate, was the Energy Department. He is going to say today that he regrets calling for the Energy Department to be shut down.
BLITZER: Yes, he says that was a mistake. And he's changed his views on the Department of Energy.
The whole notion, though, Steve Mnuchin, he's, obviously, a very rich guy, Goldman Sachs -- former Goldman Sachs banker. He's going to be asked a lot of questions about his own personal investments, especially in the aftermath of the collapse back in 2008-2009.
TAPPER: That's right. There's a bank called the One West Bank, which he helped take over during the Obama years after the crisis began. And there are going to be a lot of questions about how the One West Bank handled foreclosures, how they handled various allegations.
You know, when nominees, when their names are put forward, they basically go into hibernation, they go into hiding and they're focusing on their confirmation hearings and preparing. They don't get a real chance to answer a lot of these allegations. So for weeks on end, they read stories about them that they want to respond to. Maybe the transition team puts out a statement here or there. But generally speaking, allegations about them go unanswered. Then, finally, they have their confirmation hearing and they want to respond to the various attacks.
[09:50:10] We saw that by Congressman Tom Price earlier this week, although he basically just confirmed a lot of the charges that had been made against him, although he offered his own perspective on them. We're going to hear from steve Mnuchin today when it comes to allegations made about One West Bank and during the foreclosure crisis.
BLITZER: And I'm looking at the senators, Orin Hatch of Utah, the veteran senator, he is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Ron Wyden of Oregon, he is the ranking Democrat. But I'm looking at -- obviously the Republicans are going to be very sympathetic to Steve Mnuchin. Among the Democrats, though, there are some progressives, liberals there who could presumably ask him some serious questions on policy issues. For example, tax cuts for the rich. Donald Trump has promised some significant tax cuts. Steve Mnuchin says he's all for it as well.
TAPPER: I'm told that Sean Spicer is addressing reporters right now. Let's go to that live.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Distinct honor to introduce the head of the transition team, our next vice president, Mike Pence.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Thank you. Thank you, Sean.
And good morning.
It is a momentous day before a historic day. And I'm pleased to have a chance to report to the American people and to all of you the progress that we have made, at the president-elect's direction, preparing a team that will be ready to serve the American people and make America great again on day one.
I'm grateful to be with all of you today.
Before I give you a brief summary, let me first express our thoughts and prayers, on behalf of the president-elect and myself, for President Bush and Barbara. They're on the hearts of every American this morning. We understand they had a good night last night, but we encourage every American to remember President Bush and his wonderful wife, Barbara, in their prayers. Seventy-two days ago we elected Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States of America. Seventy-one days ago Donald Trump set an ambitious schedule, prior to this inauguration and he asked me to chair the transition effort. And I was -- I was grateful and honored to be given the opportunity to do just that.
When we took over, I was impressed, frankly, with the work that Governor Christie and the transition team had done prior to the election. More than 170 interviews had already been done prior to Election Day.
I'm pleased to report that, as of this morning's announcement for our secretary of agriculture, all 21 Cabinet nominees have been named, 27 total individuals have been named that require the consent of the Senate. And we have 536 beachhead team members that will be reporting for duty at agencies following the inauguration, bright and early on Monday morning.
There are many people, many people to thank in this regard and I'm really here just to do that.
There is a memorandum that will be in your possession by the end of this briefing that I'll be conveying to the president-elect today to give him a full report on the transition efforts and the progress that we've made. But allow me to give you a couple of top lines.
In addition to the hundreds of interviews and meetings that the president-elect has conducted in the course of this transition, I'm pleased to report that the Presidential Appointments Team has conducted more than 170 interviews prior to the election. More than 200 people since the election have sat down with what we call our tiger teams for full vetting and full review.
I'm happy to say the interests of the American people in this administration has been overwhelming. More than 86,000 resumes have been submitted to the transition and over 4,000 candidate referrals. And on the eve of the inauguration, as I mentioned, our beachhead teams are ready to land and go to work in these -- in these various agencies of the incoming administration.
On legislative affairs, we organized more than 90 volunteers to create and execute a confirmation strategy to support the 27 publicly announced Senate-confirmed nominees. Designees attended so far more than 370 visits with senators and will continue to work very, very closely to support their efforts as they move toward confirmation.
There's been work on -- on agency action, as I mentioned. Policy implementation though, has also been very brisk in the course of this transition.
Specifically, we focused at the president-elect's direction on a day one, a day 100 and day 200 action plan for keeping our word to the American people and putting the president-elect's promises into practice.
[09:55:05] Fourteen policy implementation teams attracted over 110 active team participants. Additionally, 90 experts have been serving in an advisory capacity as we formulated executive action and legislative policy to pursue the goals of this administration.
In addition to that, we've been listening. We established through the course of the transition the office of nationwide engagement, ONE for short and they've been busy; 28 listening sessions conducted December 1 through January 13, 22 business days met with -- and heard top policy issues and concerns for more than 1,200 organizations, associations and various interests and entities.
There's an awful lot of people to thank and more details that you will see in the memorandum that I'll be conveying to the president- elect today. But let me begin by expressing my appreciation first and foremost to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The cooperation that the outgoing administration has extended in this transition effort would make every American proud. And I know the president-elect has expressed his appreciation, not just for the hospitality, but for the collaboration of this administration in supporting our team's transition efforts, and I would reiterate that today.
Also, very grateful to the GSA administrator, Denise Turner Roth and her outstanding team here at GSA for the work that they've done to support our efforts. Also grateful for the vice chairs and the executive committee of the transition effort who have put in very long hours. A number of them are with us today. Ben Carson is -- is with us. Rudy Giuliani, Jeff sessions, Marsha Blackburn, Tom Reed represent a part of the vice chair team, and we express our appreciation on behalf of the president-elect for the many, many hours that you've put in helping to assemble this day one team.
We also express appreciation to the members of our executive committee who donated literally hundreds of hours in assisting us in preparing -- preparing the recommendations to the president-elect over the course of this.
Lastly, two more things to mention. Number one is just to thank my team. You know, there's a -- there's an old saying back in Indiana when you see a box turtle on a fence post, one thing you know for sure is they had help getting there. I can tell you that while it's been my privilege to chair this transition effort, the team that we've had around us and the extraordinary seven day a week hours that they have put into this effort is greatly to their credit. I want to specifically thank the Executive Director Rick Dearborn, who has done a -- a masterful job, extremely grateful for energetic leadership of our incoming White House chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, incoming general counsel at the White House, Don McGahn, literally working almost around the clock in supporting the efforts of this transition effort.
For our team here, Bill Hagerty, on presidential appointments, Ron Nicol on agency action, Otto Matito (ph) and Andrew Bremberg on policy, Jamie Burke and Elizabeth Pinkerton on personnel, Eric Ueland on legislative affairs, and a balance of a team that would make anyone proud.
The progress that we have made in the course of this transition and the extraordinarily brisk pace with which it's been conducted is a tribute to integrity and work ethic of these men and women. And -- and I know the president-elect is grateful for their efforts and as chair, I am as well. Ken Hagan (ph) is taking over as executive director to wind down the transition. The office of White House personnel will take over the official duties as we continue in the weeks and months ahead to fill out the balance of the administration. But this is the team that got us -- that got us here to this day at the direction of the president-elect.
Lastly, I'm especially pleased and I know the president-elect is especially pleased, that we're wrapping up this transition on schedule and under budget.
We will -- we will actually return some 20 percent of taxpayer funding back to the U.S. Treasury, and that is just exactly in keeping with the president-elect's expectations going forward. He is a businessman that knows how to sharpen his pencil, and I am pleased to report that we were able to do that and -- and -- and restore those dollars to the Treasury.
Let me say I -- I've been much honored to serve as chair of the transition effort, but all that we have accomplished here, credit goes to a great team.
Our volunteers, literally hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who put in -- in hours and hours to support this effort, our executive committee, our vice chairs, our staff. But really, the credit I can tell you goes to our president-elect.