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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Minnesota Senator Al Franken; Interview With RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Trump and Obama Meet in Oval Office; Trump Vows to Repeal & Replace Obamacare; Interview with Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired November 10, 2016 - 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: President-elect Donald Trump meeting with the guy he once called the founder of ISIS.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President-elect Donald Trump meeting hours ago with President Barack Obama. I think it's fair to say the respect they have for one another knows bounds. What was side inside that Oval Office?

Trump now tasked with building an administration that could decide the way forward for this country. Where could RNC Chairman Reince Priebus land? We will ask him live.

Plus, after months of allegedly messing with our democracy, does Vladimir Putin see a partner or a puppet in our new president? The signs that Moscow may want to hit the reset button again.

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Seventy-one days, that's how long president-elect Donald Trump and his team have to prepare to run the biggest government and the biggest military in existence. Step one happened this afternoon. The president-elect met with President Barack Obama, their first-ever meeting in the Oval Office.

Before, from afar, both men had lustily attacked the each other. Trump, former birther in chief, having led the charge falsely questioning whether the first African-American president had been born in Africa. For his part, President Obama taking to the campaign trail repeatedly insisting that Donald Trump was temperamentally unfit to be president.

But, today, as a testament to the peaceful transition of power we have in this nation, both men shook hands, they said nice things, both men trying to speak to a fraught nation eager to hear some reassuring words.

President Obama said if president-elect Trump succeeds, then the nation succeeds, president-elect Trump saying he would be seeking the counsel of President Obama.

Jim Acosta is at the White House. Jim, what are your sources saying that the tone was of the actual 90- minute meeting between these two? Was it as sunny as presented to the public?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It appears that way, Jake.

While people here at the White House are very clear they have not changed their views on Donald Trump, senior administration officials from the president on down say they're devoting their final weeks here in office to ensuring a smooth transfer of power to the incoming Trump administration.

And that was very much the spirit of the day in this first face-to- face meeting between the president and president-elect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): It was an image designed to calm a nervous world, the president and the president-elect fresh off the political battlefield sitting together in the Oval Office, calling on a divided nation to come together.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed, because, if you succeed, then the country succeeds.

ACOSTA: Following his 90-minute meeting with President Obama, Donald Trump offered his own display of restraint and respect.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He has explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets, and some of the really great things that have been achieved.

So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you. And I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.

Thank you.

ACOSTA: And as reporters were ushered out of the room, Trump added one more compliment for the president.

TRUMP: Very good man.

ACOSTA: And even got a little advice from the man.

OBAMA: Here's a good rule. Don't answer questions when they just start yelling.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: It's always the last one.

ACOSTA: Away from the news cameras, first lady Michelle Obama and soon-to-be-first-lady Melania Trump met in private, as two key transition figures, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Trump's son-in-law top aide Jared Kushner went for a long stroll on the South Lawn.

It was all a far cry from the down-and-dirty campaign that just wrapped up earlier this week.

OBAMA: If his closest advisers don't trust him to tweet, why would any of us trust him with the nuclear codes?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ACOSTA: Mr. Obama argued Trump was unfit for the White House only weeks after the GOP nominee finally conceded the president was an American citizen.

TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.

ACOSTA: Their last encounter face to face came when the president mocked the idea of a Trump administration five years ago.

OBAMA: Say what you will about Mr. Trump. He would certainly bring change to the White House. Let's see what we have got up there.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: The president-elect also stopped by the Capitol, where House Speaker Paul Ryan gave him the view from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where he also met Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to start plotting the GOP agenda.

[16:05:10]

Trump's stunning rise to power has sent shockwaves around the world, sparking protests in cities across the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Not my president, not today!

ACOSTA: Top Trump advisers like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are trying to lower the temperature, suggesting the new president will not seek to imprison Hillary Clinton, as he suggested during the campaign.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Politics are over now. People have spoken. Time to move to uniting the country.

ACOSTA: Though Rudy Giuliani made it clear Trump is determined to carry out his plans, including that wall on the Mexican border.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The wall is going to take a while. I'm sure he's going to build it. It's a campaign promise.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, there are other signs, Jake, that this transition is a work in progress.

Vice President Joe Biden just wrapped up a meeting with the vice president-elect Mike Pence a little while ago here at the White House. And I'm told by one key transition official that the transition office base has been building up for several months now.

There will be office space of course here in Washington, but they will be maintaining transition office space in both New York and Indianapolis.

And one other final note to point out, Jake. One of Donald Trump's former foes, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, was here at the White House earlier this afternoon. He was here because the Cleveland Cavaliers were celebrating their big NBA finals victory with President Obama. John Kasich, even though he didn't attend Donald Trump's convention and didn't vote for him in the November election, did say that he is offering his prayers to the incoming president-elect -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jim Acosta at the White House for us, thank you so much.

Joining me now, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.

First of all, Mr. Priebus, congratulations. I know the RNC had a lot to do with the ground game for Mr. Trump. A huge victory for you.

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, we appreciate that.

And the most important thing is having a great candidate and someone that the electorate believed in, and they believed in the authenticity and the genuineness of Donald, of president-elect Trump. That's where it starts.

And then being good at the small stuff and the mechanics is part of the equation, and certainly the team at the RNC, along with the Trump campaign, delivered in a way that I think shocked a lot of people.

TAPPER: Indeed.

President-elect Trump obviously met with President Obama this morning. What can you tell us about the meeting, what they actually talked about for an hour-and-a-half?

PRIEBUS: I can't tell you much about it.

I met with president-elect Trump for a little bit, but I didn't get the details about what that meeting -- what happened there. But everything anecdotally that I have heard, it was a fantastic meeting, very cordial, same with the meeting after that with Speaker Ryan.

And everyone is just, you know, slowly building out what the operation is going to look at moving forward. And I hope that everyone has seen sort of this presidential Donald Trump that we knew all along was up to the task. And I think he's going to make us all proud. TAPPER: Speaking of that, moving forward, there is a lot of talk

about who he might staff in his administration. There's a lot of discussion about what role you might play as somebody who understands Washington, D.C., and how this town functions, somebody who has excellent relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan.

I know you are not going to answer my question if I ask you if there has been any conversation about what job you might take.

PRIEBUS: Yes.

TAPPER: But let me put it this way.

PRIEBUS: You already know.

TAPPER: What job do you think might be best suited for someone of your talents beyond the RNC?

PRIEBUS: I don't know, Jake.

You're clever to ask the question that way through the side door instead of the front door. But, look, it's really not an issue. I mean, really, just honestly, it just isn't. I mean, right now, basically most of us have had two hours of sleep in four days.

I think people are taking a breath, getting some of the details figured out. There is just -- these transition teams, as you know, have been working for months and months and months. And so slowly but surely, I think those details will come out.

But certainly we're proud of what had happened. We're proud of where we took the party and how far we have come. But most importantly we're proud of who will be our next president, Donald Trump.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you a question. This is a time, obviously, for unifying the nation. There are millions of Americans out there, Latinos, African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women, people with disabilities, millions of Americans who are scared, frankly, about what a Trump presidency might mean to them because of the rhetoric of some of his supporters, some, not all, some, and because of some of the things he said.

Do you think, in order to heal this nation after this wrenching process, that president-elect Trump should take this issue head on, reach out and address individuals who might actually be scared in their own country?

[16:10:03]

PRIEBUS: Well, I think, obviously, I maybe disagree with the characterization that you laid on the table here.

But if you look at Donald Trump's first speech after knowing that he was going to be president-elect of the United States, you saw at 2:30 in the morning, this is a person who gave a conciliatory, measured, very appropriate, I think extremely impressive speech about coming together, building bridges.

There was no there -- was no bragging. There was no relitigating issues from the campaign trail. And he did that. That was -- that was president-elect Trump's decision to do that. It wasn't a speechwriter that decided, here is the speech you need to give. He looked at the speech and said, no, no, no. We are going to bring this country together, and we want to tell the whole world that this is going to be America for all Americans. I am going to be a president for all Americans, all races, all religions.

Whatever the background, he is going to...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So, that's it, though? That's all we're going to -- so, that one speech at 2:30 in the morning is all that's necessary?

PRIEBUS: No.

TAPPER: I know you're not going to take my word for it, but I can tell you, according to polls, millions -- and, first of all, I mean, I don't want to belabor the point, but Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote.

So there are more people who wanted her to be president than wanted him to be president. That said, the rules are the rules.

PRIEBUS: Yes, but let me tell you something about that, Jake.

TAPPER: There are -- yes.

PRIEBUS: Well, let me tell you something about that.

What we have going on in America, though, is you have an election in about 12 states, OK? And every year, unfortunately, the map of states gets smaller and smaller. It just so happened that Hillary Clinton forgot about a few states as well and Donald Trump was very popular in places that she didn't expect, and he ran the table in the Midwest.

TAPPER: Yes.

PRIEBUS: But we don't have an election anymore in California or New York, OK? So that's why the Electoral College matters. And Donald Trump had the most impressive...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I am not saying it doesn't. And obviously this was a huge success.

PRIEBUS: ... American political victory that we have had in ages.

TAPPER: No, totally, absolutely. I am not taking anything away from that. My only point is that there...

(CROSSTALK) PRIEBUS: Right.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

PRIEBUS: Wednesday morning, he gave a speech, OK? It's Thursday afternoon.

I am not sure if you were expecting him to give daily speeches, but he had given the speech and to unify this country. And I am certain, I am certain that what's in his heart is to continue reminding America that he wants to be a president for everyone in this country, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, that he wants to lead and he wants to make them proud.

But he also wants to do the will of the voters that decided on Tuesday night that Donald Trump should be president of the United States.

TAPPER: OK. Fair enough.

Let me ask you, though, about the whole mandate issue, because obviously he did have an electoral win that was solid. And you're right. He swept a number of important battleground states that Democrats take for granted.

How much of a mandate do you think you have in terms of how Republican you think the country is and the director that Mr. Trump, president- elect Trump, should take the country, given the fact that it is such a divided country and the popular vote did go to the other candidate?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, the Democrats are completely out of power.

I mean, politics is a game of winning and losing, but it's also a game of bridge-building and leading and doing the right thing of our country. So, you always have to balance out all of those factors when leading forward.

But I would say that the goal now is to accomplish the plan that Donald Trump has laid on the table. The American people saw the plans of both candidates. They chose Donald Trump. They chose a majority in the House. They chose a majority in the Senate, when many people thought that we were going to lose everything.

So, now we owe it to the American people to follow through on all of our promises, which will be the things that we talked about. So it would be improper for us to win the election, make the promises, and say, well, even though we won everything, why don't we just back off on everything that we promised?

No, that's not the way it works. We're going to execute the plan and an agenda. And that plan is going to be the one that we campaigned on.

TAPPER: All right, Chairman Priebus, thank you so much. Once again, congratulations on the hard-fought victory.

PRIEBUS: Thank you, sir. TAPPER: He is not happy with the presidential results, but does

Democratic Senator Al Franken agree with president-elect Trump on anything? Can they find common ground? I will ask him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:18:26] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Sticking with our politics lead. There will be few checks on President Trump. Under a Trump administration, Republicans will also control the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. This afternoon, the president-elect and his vice president met with GOP congressional leaders to discuss the coming agenda.

So, what can we expect from President-elect Trump's or President Trump's first 100 days in office?

Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill right now for us.

Manu, Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare. Is it likely to happen? How quickly could he get that done?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Jake, he can certainly gut core aspects of the health care law because of Senate budget rules that actually allow for key aspects of that law to be overhauled, to be repealed, or to be killed by just 51 votes. And remember, Republicans will probably control 52 seats in the new Congress. So, that means they could get rid of things such as taxes in Obamacare, subsidies, that gigantic Medicaid expansion, all could be on the chopping blocks.

But because of Senate procedures, other aspects will not be under a 51-vote threshold. They'll have to overcome a filibuster 60-vote threshold to kill other aspects of the law, including those state- based insurance exchanges, as well as insuring that people who have preexisting conditions will not be denied health care coverage and ensuring that kids up to the age of 26 can stay on their health care plans.

In addition, Jake, the Republicans will need 60 votes to pass a replacement bill. And as we know, that's very hard to do over such a polarizing issue. They're going to need Democratic support.

[16:20:01] Not an easy task, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much.

RAJU: Thank you.

TAPPER: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

Senator Franken, thanks for being here. And I suppose, condolences.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Well, yes. I worked very hard for Hillary. Went around the country for her. Thought that she was the most qualified to be president, but we have had the election. The people have spoken, and I'm a senator and -- still and got a lot of work ahead of us.

TAPPER: I want to ask about the results, and then we can move on to what you're going to be doing in the future with this new president. But Donald Trump almost won your home state of Minnesota. He didn't. But it was very close. And Minnesota obviously long --

FRANKEN: Yes.

TAPPER: -- a Democratic stronghold. He won Wisconsin, and Iowa, and Ohio and Pennsylvania. He is leading in Michigan, which hasn't been called yet.

Why do you think Democrats did not turn out to vote for Hillary Clinton in the numbers you needed?

FRANKEN: Well, you know, I kind to want to leave that to pundits and others, but I'd say that there obviously a feeling among a lot of people that the country hasn't been working for them and that they wanted to try something new. And we got him. We got Donald Trump.

And, you know, I am concerned about a lot of the issues that he talked about in a way that -- on immigration. I don't want to see mass deportation.

On climate, I think that's very real. I think most Americans know that that's real and it's man-made, and there's a reason that sea levels are going up.

The Affordable Care Act, he said he was going to repeal and replace that. He said he would do it on day one, but you have to replace it with something, and I haven't heard anything, really, about what that would be. I want to make sure the people --

TAPPER: Let me ask you on the subject of Obamacare.

FRANKEN: Yes?

TAPPER: Because one of my relatives in Minnesota, a constituent of yours, who voted for Obama four years ago, she saw her health premiums skyrocket. I know it's a problem in Minnesota. As a result, she voted for Trump.

How much do you think Obamacare might have ultimately hurt Hillary Clinton?

FRANKEN: I think that hurt. I think a number of things hurt. Look, that is about the exchanges. So your relative is probably getting her health care through the exchanges, and this is something that people have a right to be mad about.

And -- but the people they should be mad at, really, are Republican officeholders who refused to do anything other than vote to repeal the ACA, refused to -- made it more difficult for insurance companies to be in the market by -- this gets down to the weeds, but the risk corridors. They basically did everything to undermine them.

You know, now, we're going to get into a little bit of the weeds of health care, and I hope that President-elect Trump, you know, informs himself about what -- how health care works in this country. We need to, if we're going to repeal and replace, we need to replace it with something that doesn't take health care away or insurance away from 20 million people, that doesn't take it away from people who have preexisting conditions.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about what you can work on with Donald Trump. Obviously, you'll be fighting to preserve health care for those 20 million Americans who got it through the Medicaid expansion. What are issues moving away from health care where you think you might be able to work with Donald Trump? It seems to me you oppose the Pacific trade deal that seems to be dead for all intents and purposes. It seems there may be overlap in views of progressive senators like yourself and Donald Trump when it comes to issues like trade.

FRANKEN: Yes. Here is one: infrastructure. He has talked about spending a lot on American infrastructure, and I agree with him completely on that. And that includes not just roads and bridges but broadband, rail, schools.

This is something that we -- that we should be doing. And I think that I may be more in line with the president-elect than some of my colleagues on the Republican side in the Senate and in the House.

TAPPER: There is going to be, obviously, a post-mortem done by Democrats. Do you think Bernie Sanders, because of his appeal to worker-class voters and young people, do you think he could have beaten Donald Trump?

[16:25:02] FRANKEN: I don't know. I'm not a -- I'm not a pundit. We are where we are. There will be discussions within the Democratic Party on where we go from here.

I think that the -- the Republican Party now has gone through an incredible change, and I think they're going to have some post-mortems too in figuring out where they are.

We are in the middle of a big, big change, and I think it affects everybody.

TAPPER: Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

FRANKEN: Jake Tapper. Washington, D.C.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: She spent the past 18 months getting to know and understand Trump supporters. What one journalist saw that so many others missed, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)