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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Arrives at White House to Meet with Obama; British PM Congratulates Trump; First Lady to Welcome Incoming First Lady to White House; Melania Trump. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired November 10, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00:] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think Donald Trump given the chance to speak in the Oval Office and perhaps he will, will also want to once again send a more unifying message and set a more unifying tone.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I suspect both of these men, the president of the United States and the president-elect of the United States, have been thinking long and hard about what they are going to say to those cameras in the Oval Office of the White House. I suspect we will hear that.
I'm hearing sirens behind me here. I'm just across the street from the White House myself so I suspect that motorcade is getting closer and closer. We hear the sirens coming in right now.
It's 11:00 a.m. here on the east coast of the United States. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We are reporting history unfolding here in the nation's capital. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Momentarily, the President-elect Donald Trump will be arriving here at the White House to go into the Oval Office and meet for the first time as president-elect with the president of the United States, Barack Obama. They will meet in the Oval Office. It might last and hour or two hours based on historic precedent. They will have an opportunity to discuss all of the history that is unfolding right now, and the president, President Obama, clearly wants to do as much as he can to make this a smooth transition. We know from President Obama he was very grateful to President Bush eight years ago, when President Bush warmly welcomed him into the White House and provided him with a lot of the background he needed during this transition period between now and January 20th, when President-elect Trump eventually on January 20th will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Dana, once again, it's a little frustrating to the journalists that the White House apparently has not allowed cameras to capture live images of Donald Trump arriving at the White House. We will have images. We will have cameras inside the Oval Office at the end of their meeting when they will both speak out and we will see that.
But it's always frustrating to me as a former White House correspondent that sometimes the White House will have their own cameras, their official White House photographer there, but they are not letting even apparently not letting even a small pool of network television cameras and print reporters over to get an eyewitness account to this historic moment. But maybe they will surprise us and allow us to do that.
Go ahead, Dana. I'm anxious to get your thoughts on this historic moment. Looking at live pictures of the West Wing of the White House, the North Lawn entrance to the West Wing. I don't know if he's going to be driving in there. We haven't really been told.
Go ahead, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. First of all, I agree with you. I have been covering politics and I covered the White House, Capitol Hill for so long, and still even traveling the world with George W. Bush, covering many, many summits, many majestic things, one of the images that I just have in my mind and I will for the rest of my life was lawn, again, I was still in school.
I should tell you Donald Trump has arrived, we are told, has arrived at the White House. The fact we are told and we have to tell you and we haven't been able to show you the image speaks to what Wolf was just saying, that apparently, we don't have, clearly we don't have the live pictures.
What I was saying was that there were live pictures of the historic moment back in 1992 which was the moment I remember when Bill Clinton, who had just defeated George H.W. Bush, rived on the South Lawn of the White House, walked back towards the Oval Office. People who have seen press conferences and events even yesterday with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, they walk out to the Rose Garden. That was the image that you can even google it now, that was there for history, that the press was able to get. Clearly we are not going to see that. If we do, maybe, maybe fingers crossed, we can see it later.
But much more importantly, the moment that's going to happen in the Oval Office. The Oval Office --
BLITZER: I just want to interrupt for a moment. I want to interrupt for a moment.
We are now told that Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, has arrived at the White House. He will go into the West Wing, the North Lawn entrance we see there. Didn't come in through the executive drive area between the executive office building. On the South Lawn of the White House which is a much more majestic entrance. We didn't see live pictures of that but we are now told that President-elect Trump is there. He's inside the White House. He has arrived and presumably the president, President Obama, will escort him, invite him into the Oval Office at which point they can spend an hour or longer and talk about this process.
John King, a former White House correspondent, just like me, is here with me. We are across the street from the White House, majestic view we have.
John, I'm anxious for your thoughts, because so many people never thought we would see a day that President Obama would welcome President-elect Trump to the Oval Office.
[11:05:13] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So you can look in the rear-view mirror and talk about the animosity between these two men. Donald Trump was a cheerleader for the Birther movement. President Obama was harshly critical saying Donald Trump was unstable, erratic, not prepared to be president.
But I think today we should spent most of our time looking in the windshield, not the rear-view mirror. On this remarkable moment, having covered the White House, in life, when you cover the White House you walk down that driveway every day and what a gift and honor it is to work in that building. Donald Trump today I think the awesome responsibility he's about to inherit, if it hasn't sunk in already, it will when you walk into the Oval Office. The shrine of American democracy. When the president takes him into the Rose Garden, they walk over to the White House residence. This is a changing of the guard in the United States. The entire world is watching this. A divided nation is watching this. As President Obama struck the perfect tone yesterday, paying respects to George W. Bush and I don't see today is the remarkable moment in American history and however you voted in this election, a celebration of the continuity of power, transfer of power and strength of the republic.
BLITZER: You and I, we covered that transition back in November, December, 1992 when President George H.W. Bush welcomed the president- elect, the Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton, to the White House. We remember how smooth that transition went. We remember eight years ago, how smooth the transition from President George W. Bush to President Obama went. I suspect this transition will be smooth as well.
KING: This is the beginning of an incredibly important ten-week period of time. Yes, President Obama still has so business he wants to get done. Yes, President Obama will probably have a few private words with Donald Trump about I know you promised to change everything I have done. Maybe you want to keep this or that. Mostly, this is about how this works, pledging cooperation, making sure the teams are in sync with each other and it sounds like little stuff, but Donald Trump is about to start getting the most sensitive intelligence briefings, about to learn a lot about ISIS, a lot about what's going on in the Middle East, a lot about the China relationship. And as he learns that during the transition, he will probably want to reach out and talk to people who are in government at the moment. So, some of this is the simple stuff if you will, exchange of contacts. Some of it is just the preparation of how the president runs his day. And Donald Trump will have his own way of doing it. Every president is different. This is the beginning of a process.
The end of a process is a fascinating tradition. The president leaving always leaves a note for the president, the incoming president, and that note -- I remember you mentioned Bill Clinton -
BLITZER: Usually on January 20th. The last time the president is in the Oval Office. Those notes are very, very historic and significant.
KING: So that's 10 weeks from now. I remember George H.W. Bush left a note to Bill Clinton saying I know you promised in your campaign to focus like a laser on the economy. Good luck. God bless. I just want to tell you that every problem in the world will come across your desk. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Then George W. Bush came promising a humble administration to focus on the hemisphere and 9/11 happened.
I'm sure President Obama will say to Trump for all you planned for this job, it's the unpredictable, the unexpected that will dominate your days.
BLITZER: Let's not forget that transition in 2000 from President Clinton to president George W. Bush. That was also extremely historic and smooth transition as well. You were there.
ACOSTA: There were some bumps in that transition. There was childish behavior, some people saying they took "W"s off the keyboards and the computers. And that was -
# That was on President Clinton, some of his junior aides.
ACOSTA: I'm not saying it was President Clinton. The principles - and given the personal animosity between President Obama and Donald Trump, you cannot forget that, you cannot wipe that away on this day. But the professionalism of the president and again, I think the example of George W. Bush to President Obama is the example he's going to follow as he hands over to Donald Trump, understanding the moment we're in. There are still many problems in the world. Again, the financial markets started to jump around a little bit right after the election. They seem to have settled in right now. How this is handled, these are two men with very different agendas, very different views, with a personal history, but how this is handled president to president-elect will say a lot about the early days of the Trump administration and this is the last 70 days of the Obama presidency.
BLITZER: Yes. Jim Acosta, you are at the White House for us. We are now told President-elect Trump is in the White House. He has arrived. He is there and he's getting ready, they are getting ready to go into the Oval Office with the president of the United States and start this meeting.
As I was pointing out, it's a little frustrating we didn't have live cameras to record that historic moment, but this White House has been a little bit less open to those tight pools as we called them to allow the news media to capture the historic moments. I hope it changes.
But go ahead.
[11:1O:55] KING: Yeah. That's true. After when we experienced over the last campaign, it bears reminding that yes, there were some clashes from time to time between the White House und, President Obama and the White House press corps over access and those sorts of issues. They may pale in comparison in terms of what's to come.
But we should point out there's a little bit of news involving the president-elect, Donald Trump. He did have a call earlier this morning with the prime minister of Britain, Theresa May. She spoke to Donald Trump, according to this readout from the British government, congratulating him on his victory, and according to this readout from the British government, Donald Trump invited the prime minister here to the White House, to Washington, as soon as possible. That, too, is a sign of this peaceful transfer of power that the president-elect is on the phone with foreign leaders reestablishing those ties with important heads of state around the world that yes, when President- elect Trump comes into the Oval Office there will be a continuity in terms of United States foreign policy, in terms of dealing with our closest allies.
Of course, there are going to be some questions about how Donald Trump deals with Russia and whether or not he sort of reshuffles the deck in terms of dealing with other foreign leaders but that's a very interesting development that we are seeing this morning, on the very same morning he's meeting with the president of the united
BLITZER: Very interesting. I'm sure he's going to be taking a lot of phone calls from world leaders. The British prime minister, Theresa May, calling, having this conversation. I'm sure he's going to be taking phone calls from other prime ministers and presidents, friendly countries, maybe some not so friendly countries as well during these weeks of this transition that is historic as well.
Doug Brinkley, presidential historian, is joining us right now.
Doug, it's always fascinating, this is sort of history unfolding on a minute by minute basis. But step back a little bit and give us your perspective on what we are about to see when the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is seen in the Oval Office with President Obama.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, this can't be an easy moment for President Obama. He's shattered like a lot of Democrats are. He really thought Hillary Clinton was going to be hl successor. The fact that Donald Trump won is a blow to his legacy, particularly the Affordable Care Act, which Donald Trump is claiming on day one he's going to try to repeal Obama's singularly most important domestic achievement. But historians look at these moments and we focus on them a lot. This really is a big moment we're watching here. The healing factor going on. Some transitions are easy, some are tough. Reagan and Jimmy Carter had zero chemistry, couldn't stand each other. Carter wanted nothing to do really with Reagan. He just lost Carter in 1980 a landslide election, he knew a lot of his programs would be dismantled. Reagan immediately took the solar panels off the White House that Carter had put on to make a big point there's new management in town. But Barack Obama is a pro. When the going gets weird, the weird turns pro. This is Obama, what he's good at. He's going to try to be a healer for our country and be instructive to Donald Trump and make sure the institution of the presidency continues unabated with at least amount of drama coming out of today as possible.
BLITZER: There have been some comparisons made, the transition from Jimmy Carter in 1980 to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Jimmy Carter was the incumbent president, deeply frustrated that he wasn't re-elected. Ronald Reagan, two-term governor $ of California, was elected. Movie star, cowboy, if you will, officials in the Carter White House were belittling him and you say that transition was tough, the weeks between the election in November and the inauguration on January 20th. Was it a tough transition like that, or did they manage for the good of the country to make it smooth as possible?
BRINKLEY: They managed but barely. Carter didn't want to eve talk to Reagan on the time of the inaugural when famously the Iran hostages got released. The problem was when they met, Jimmy Carter had a whole list of all these things that he was going to have to do like micro-lists and Reagan kind of half listened and said well, I'm not going to be able to do all that. I'm going to need my sleeping hours. I'm only going to work an eight hour, nine-hour day. Carter was aghast that Reagan in his mind didn't seem to grasp how urgent so many of these thorny problems were. At the heart of it, though, was 1980 was a revolution. The right came in, the progressive movement of Lyndon Johnson had gotten shattered and it was a revolutionary moment. We are in another revolutionary moment where Barack Obama has to worry that not only is Donald Trump coming in, his arch-enemy, but a lot of what he's accomplished these last eight years might be unraveled in a Trump presidency.
[11:15:18] BLITZER: The president-elect of the United States is now here in Washington. He's over at the White House right now. He arrived on the South Lawn of the White House. We didn't get any pictures, there were no live cameras allowed there. We will see President-elect Trump and President Obama in the Oval Office. We are standing by for that. That meeting is an historic meeting.
The first lady is also welcoming the incoming first lady of the United States to the White House. Important historic moment.
Kate Anderson Brower who wrote an important book on first ladies, "First Woman, The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies" is with us here.
This is an historic moment. Give us a little sense, Kate, what is likely to happen when the incoming first lady is received by the first lady.
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR: Like Doug says, the animosity transfers over to the first ladies, too. The Bush -- I mean the Reagan/Carter handover was difficult. They barely spoke to each other in the limo on the way to the swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill.
I suspect Mrs. Obama will take Melania to the west sitting hall, have a coffee while the president and president-elect meet in the Oval Office, and this isn't the formal pass over where they do a residence tour, where the interior decorators are with them. They get down to details, even what kind of deodorant the new first family wants to use and what rooms they can change. There are binders of information. The Trumps can't come in and change the yellow oval room in the residence or the queen's bedroom or Lincoln bedroom, without getting permission from the curator staff. $ere are checks and balances.
I think the animosity cannot be overstated here. Betty Ford said when the Carters came in, you know whoever is replacing you didn't deserve to be here, because these women traditionally work very hard to get their husbands elected. One term presidents take it very hard and the first ladies do, too. Melania was much less present on the campaign trail than we have seen in the past from other first ladies.
BLITZER: Melania Trump will get a tour from Michelle Obama, the first the first lady. The first lady will take her upstairs to the residence, show her the Lincoln bedroom, other historic sites there, not just the East Room or the big dining room. They will have an opportunity to see where family is actually going to live.
ANDERSON BROWER: Exactly. Instead of having an actual letter that presidents leave behind for each other, this is the handover of power between the first ladies, is the tour. On this tour, which I don't think is happening today. That will happen in the future. I think this is more symbolic today. The first lady stands the incoming first lady at a certain window in the dressing room and says if you look at this spot you will be able to see your husband at work in the Oval Office. This is what Barbara Bush did for Hillary Clinton and what Hillary Clinton did for Laura Bush. Regardless of political party, there's a respect for the position of first lady and a sorority of first ladies but this is more difficult than a lot of past transitions.
BLITZER: So, Kate, there's a real protocol for what's going to happen today between the incoming and outgoing first ladies?
ANDERSON BROWER: Absolutely. And there's respect for this position. I think that these are the only women in the world who know what it's like to live in the White House, to have these expectations. First ladies are very controversial usually. They have to pick an apolitical issue that doesn't offend anyone. We saw Melania Trump talk about cyberbullying and immediately, get pilloried in the press because of what her husband does on Twitter. Melania has never been married to an elected politician before. I think she will find it especially difficult.
BLITZER: Do they have a conversation that would be normal? I assume it would be normal for Melania Trump -- they have a young son, Baron. When Michelle Obama came to the White House, two young daughters, they had to find a school, had to talk a little bit. We know Melania and Donald Trump want to protect their young son. I assume they will take him out of his school in New York, bring him to Washington and find a nice school for him to go to just as the Obama girls grew up here over these past eight years, went to school here. ANDERSON BROWER: It's interesting because Sasha goes to Sidwell
Friends and the Obamas are staying here so she can finish school there. There's a chance Baron could go there, too. There could be overlap there.
BLITZER: Where Chelsea Clinton went, too.
ANDERSON BROWER: Exactly. That's what Hillary Clinton did with Jackie Kennedy, she asked for advice. Having a young son -- Baron is 10 years old, we haven't had a son in the White House since John Kennedy Jr. It's been all daughters. So, this is historic and important because of that, to have this young son. I think like Hillary did with Jackie, Melania would be wise to reach back and talk to Michelle Obama and other first ladies about what it's like raising children.
BLITZER: Stay with us.
Can you stay with us?
John, you will stay with us as well? You have no choice.
KING: I learned that -
[11:20:03] BLITZER: We have a lot more coming up. We are only moments away. We will see the president of the United States and the president-elect of the United States in the Oval Office, first time together since Donald Trump won the presidency.
We will take a quick break. Our special coverage continues right after this.
BLITZER: Once again, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
History unfolding here in Washington, D.C. You are taking a look at live pictures coming from the White House. The president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is now in the White House. He's being received by the president of the United States, Barack Obama. They are having a meeting in the Oval Office. First time they are getting together since President-elect Trump was elected president of the United States. The historic moment. indeed.
At the end of that meeting, camera crews and reporters, photographers, will be allowed Oval Office for what's called photo opportunity. We will hear statements from the president and the president-elect. Reporters will then try to get a few questions in. We will see if they answer reporters' questions. Later the president- elect will head up to Capitol Hill for a very important meeting with the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Sean Spicer is joining us right now, the chief spokesman,
strategist for the Republican National Committee. He's been very much involved in trying to get Donald Trump elected president.
First of all, I know you worked really hard to get him elected, in your role as the Republican National Committee strategist. Congratulations. What do you anticipate will happen today?
[11:25:23] SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: First, I appreciate it. Thank you, Wolf. Most of the credit goes to my boss, RNC chair, Reince Priebus, whose vision and investment over the last four years really helped take the movement and the message that this candidate brought and helped the entire ticket win up and down, put together one of the most amazing ground games and data operations that any party has ever seen.
I know we talked to a lot of people over the next few weeks about how we will translate the movement and the message Trump brought on to the ground and how we have been working hand in hand with the campaign to go door to door. I think Chairman Priebus' vision and message combined with an amazing message and movement that Donald Trump and the campaign had really showed how impressive it was on Tuesday night.
As for today, I think, look, I was there on the last day of the Bush White House. The president and Mrs. Bush could not have been more classy and gracious and I think President Obama and Mrs. Obama have noted that and I think they will follow that example that President Bush and Mrs. Bush used to ensure that there's a peaceful transfer of power and that the same accommodations and hospitality that they were shown by the Bush team will be shown to the Trump team to ensure that our country continues to show how beautifully retransfer power after one election.
BLITZER: I suspect you're right. You mentioned Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, your boss. Lot of speculation that he's become close to Donald Trump over these past several months. Lot of speculation he could emerge as White House chief of staff. That speculation. Questions. Is he going to be chief of staff and what about you? What role do you want in a Trump administration?
SPICER: All I'm looking forward to is a good seat at the inauguration right now. I'm looking forward to watching Donald Trump and Mike Pence get sworn in as the next president and vice president of the United States and I'm honored to have played a small part in that. I know chairman Priebus and the rest of the team at the RNC, Chris Carr, our political director, Garrett Lancing, who runs the digital, Kate Walsh, our chief of staff, have all been working tirelessly to help this campaign and I think all of us frankly just spend the last 36 hours excited and happy and we'll see where it goes from there. I know that everyone wants to make sure we help Donald Trump and his team be successful and -- but it's too early for any of those questions to be asked right now.
BLITZER: I suspect that's a very diplomatic answer. Maybe State Department, maybe a role as the State Department, some senior position there.
We have John King with us, he has a lot of experience covering the White House over these years. He's got a question for you.
KING: John, let me echo the congratulations from Wolf. I hope there's a well-deserved beach in your future before that great seat at the inauguration.
You are a very smart person when it comes to messaging and strategy. I'm wondering if Donald Trump, the tone Donald Trump sets early on, you remember the early days of the Obama administration I'm not trying to assign blame to which side but the Republicans said he came out with this Democratic partisan agenda and immediately you had the divide between the two. If Donald Trump asks you during the campaign I said I would appoint a special prosecutor, during the campaign my crowds chanted repeatedly, "Lock her up, lock her up." Should I do that or turn the page and say it's time to let Hillary Clinton go into retirement peacefully? If he asked you that question, how would you answer?
SPICER: I would say the tone and sentiment he expressed -- well, actually, on Wednesday morning when he took the stage officially, is the tone that I think we should carry through, which is he talked about a lot of polies, helping people from around this country understand how policies can help them enact policies and solutions that will lift up all Americans. I think that would be where the focus should be. I think when you think of the multiple ambitious pieces of his agenda to help America, I think that's where we start. And again, I think that's where you will see him go.
He understands that so many people from around this country are hurting and that they really, really believe in the message and the movement that he and Governor Pence have taken from one corner of this country to the next, to the inner cities, to the rural parts of this country, north, south, east and west. There are so many people that have looked to Donald Trump and Mike Pence to bring that change to Washington that I think that's where we are going to probably spend -- he will spend the most amount of his time.
KING: You are showing your skills here, avoiding the very specific part of the question. On the question of special -- you know what's happening in the country. Donald Trump won fair and square. Donald Trump will be the president-elect. But we live in a divided America. A lot of people are anxious about this.
On that specific question, he said should I name a special prosecutor as I said in the campaign, would -