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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview with Sen. Sean Duffy; Trump and Obama Meet at the White House; Russian Officials Confirm They Were in Contact With Trump During Campaign; Bernie Sanders Speaks Out about Trump's Win. Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired November 10, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Face to face. The White House transition begins as President-elect Donald Trump sits down with President Obama in the Oval Office. Putting animosity aside, they pledged to cooperate for the benefit of the country.
[17:00:35] Capital thrill. Trump goes and meets with the GOP congressional leadership and says he can't wait to get down to work. But as Trump gets a view from the House speaker's balcony, do they see eye to eye in how to move forward?
The standard bearer. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders warns Trump not to turn against minorities. With Hillary Clinton vanquished, is Trump -- is Bernie Sanders now the voice of the Democratic Party? He'll join me this hour for his first television interview since the election.
And from Russia, much love. Russian lawmakers toasted Donald Trump's victory, and Vladimir Putin was among the first to congratulate him. Now Russia says it was in close touch with Trump's team during the campaign and is ready for cooperation.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to the breaking news right now. President-elect Donald Trump meets at the White House with President Obama, alone in the Oval Office for 90 minutes. Let that sink in.
For years Trump spear-headed the so-called birther movement that tried to deny President Obama's legitimacy to lead. And the meeting comes just days after President Obama mocked Trump for being unfit for the responsibilities of the job.
But after their talk, both then set aside any hostility and vowed to work together for the good of the nation. Obama told Trump, "If you succeed, the country succeeds." Trump called the visit a great honor and called Obama a very good man.
The president-elect then went to Capitol Hill, where he met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Trump had frosty relations with both men during the campaign. At one point, Ryan would barely mention him by name. Trump's agenda is a rejection of so much of what Ryan has stood for, but the speaker now says they'll hit the ground running. And Trump says -- and I'm quoting him now -- "We can't get started fast enough."
Former Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, will join me for his first television interview since the election. And I'll speak also with Republican Congressman Sean Duffy. Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski. Michelle, the image alone is truly extraordinary. Donald Trump and Barack Obama together in the Oval Office and saying very nice things about each other. Tell us about this historic meeting.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Reassuring and everyone on their best behavior is, I think how you can describe this.
I mean, on the one hand, you have this highly organized transition with handshakes, good wishes on all sides. But then on the other, you have this intense bitterness from the campaign trail.
And the White House today didn't hold back either from saying that President Obama meant every word he has said about Donald Trump, that he's unfit, that the president has deep concerns. Well, none of that has changed, but today was all about working together to move forward despite those differences.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): Donald Trump arrives in Washington on his 757 and heads straight to the White House as president-elect, meeting with President Obama alone in the Oval Office that will soon be his.
BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We talked about foreign policy. We talked about domestic policy. I have been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump's wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces.
KOSINSKI: Donald Trump calling his fierce political rival "a good man."
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. And we were just going to get to know each other. We had never met each other.
I have great respect. The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half. And it could have, as far as I'm concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.
We really -- we discussed a lot of different situations. Some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He's -- he explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the -- 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.
OBAMA: Thank you.
KOSINSKI: President Obama telling reporters he wants to help Trump succeed.
OBAMA: My No. 1 priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful.
KOSINSKI: When asked, though, the White House press secretary said all those warnings from President Obama on the campaign trail about Trump, that he's dangerous, unqualified, still holds.
(on camera): Does the president now have any reason to believe that Donald Trump is fit to be president of the United States?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Again, I'm not going to -- the two men did not relitigate their differences in the Oval Office.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): After years of acrimony...
TRUMP: I think President Obama has been the most ignorant president in our history.
KOSINSKI: ... today it was President Obama telling President-elect Donald Trump the tricks of the trade.
OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. We're not -- we are not going to be taking any questions. Thank you, guys. Thank you. It's a good rule. Don't answer questions when they just start...
TRUMP: Very good man; very good man.
KOSINSKI: Also today you had Vice President Joe Biden meeting with Mike Pence, the first lady and Melania Trump having tea together and touring the White House.
For President Obama, though, clearly the gorilla in the room was that Donald Trump has said many times he wants to roll back as many of President Obama's policies as possible. The White House, though, didn't want to talk about that today. They said this was all about the transition, and both of them are committed to that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Michelle, thank you. Michelle Kosinski is over at the White House.
Let's turn now to Donald Trump's meetings with GOP congressional leaders. Our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is with me. Trump, he's had various differences, as you well know, with both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. So what was the mood like today?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seemed to be a very different situation, just like it was at the White House with President Obama.
As you said, the relationship between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, the leaders, who he will work with now, who in this total Republican government, it's been less than -- less than stellar. He didn't even get the -- sort of the benefit of them saying his name. They would just call him "the nominee."
But today Donald Trump, like he did at the White House, really put out many olive branches. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Thank you very much. And Mr. Speaker, it's been an honor. We had a meeting. I met with the president, as you know, before. That was an excellent meeting. We just spent quite a bit of time together. I think we're going to do some absolutely spectacular things for the American people. We look forward to starting.
In fact, truthfully, we can't get started fast enough. And whether it's health care or immigration, so many different things, we will be working on them very rapidly, and I think we'll be putting things up pretty quickly.
So we had a very good meeting, very detailed meeting, and we want to lower taxes, as you know. We're going to fix health care and make it more affordable and better. And we're going to do a real job for the public. That's what we want to do, and that's why we're excited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: You know, Donald Trump has the good fortune of coming into the White House with a Republican Congress, particularly in the House, but both chambers, where they have been working very hard in the opposition party on an agenda, which -- so on many of these issues that he was talking about, tax reform especially, obviously health care is going to be a big one, because they have been trying very -- for years and years and years to repeal Obamacare.
But of course, then they need something to replace it with. House Republicans in particular say they have a plan. They can pass it, because they have the votes. We'll see if -- how that sort of works its way through to the White House.
So the fact that they are all together, the fact that he has partners who run Congress, is absolutely fascinating. And of course, when it comes to the Senate, the No. 1 thing he's going to do is nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill Antonin Scalia's seat.
BLITZER: It will have to be confirmed by the members of the U.S. Senate.
BASH: By the U.S. Senate. BLITZER: That will be very, very important.
What are you hearing about the White House chief of staff under the new -- the incoming president, President-elect Donald Trump? I know you're doing some serious reporting on this.
BASH: I am told that the person that Donald Trump wants as his chief of staff is Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon, who is formerly of Breitbart News, the conservative website, who has been a very integral part of Donald Trump's campaign, particularly in recent months, had been traveling with him. He has really become a trusted advisor to Donald Trump.
[17:10:14] However, I'm also told that there are people in Trump's orbit who are trying to convince him that that is a bad idea. First and foremost, they're saying that the most important -- you know, you covered the White House for years -- the most important trait that a chief of staff should have is knowing how to get the trains running and keeping them running on time and organizing, and that that might be -- not be the best quality that Steve Bannon has. These are people who are trying to convince Trump not to do it.
And the other is, as I said, he was Breitbart. And so that is very appealing to the many people who got Trump elected, but for the people like Paul Ryan and like Mitch McConnell and others, Breitbart has been the thorn in their side for a long time. That might not be the best foot to start off on.
And the other person, I'm told, that is very much on the list is Reince Priebus.
BLITZER: Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chairman. Steve Bannon was the CEO during the Trump campaign.
Dana, good reporting.
BASH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
The former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is warning Donald Trump not to turn the people's anger against minorities. The senator from Vermont is joining us now live for his first TV interview since the election.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My pleasure.
BLITZER: So, a key reason why Donald Trump won was his anti-trade message that appealed to a lot of voters in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, very similar to your own message that you used throughout your campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. If you had been his competitor -- that's a big "if" -- if you had been his competitor, Senator, do you think you could have beaten him? SANDERS: I don't think it's -- makes a whole lot of sense to do
Monday-morning quarterbacking right now. The election is over. Donald Trump won. Between you and me, Wolf, I would have loved to have the -- have the opportunity to run against him, but that did not end up being the case.
Right now where we are is where we are. I intend to work with President Trump on those issues where he will, in fact, work for the middle class and working families of this country. I will vigorously oppose him if he appeals to racism or sexism or some of the other discriminatory measures that he brought up during his campaign.
BLITZER: But it never crossed your mind that you might have done better against him, you might have actually won if you had been the Democratic nominee?
SANDERS: What good does it do now? You know. The election is over. And, you know, Hillary -- I did my best to see that Hillary Clinton get elected. I was out in the -- some 12 states during the last week with, I think, 21 rallies.
So the election is over, and we've got to look to the future. And what we have got to demand, I think, is that Mr. Trump keep the promises that he made to working families. You'll remember, Wolf. He talked about how he was going to be a champion of working families. Well, I hope he will raise the minimum wage so that people who are working for 9 or 10 bucks an hour get the kind of raise they're entitled to. I hope he will do pay equity for women. Women should not be getting 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. I hope he'll rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and I look forward to working with him if he chooses to do that and create millions of decent-paying jobs.
And on trade, absolutely we need a new trade policy. I will work with him to get corporate America to start investing in this country, not just in China and in Mexico.
I hope -- you know, he told the American people, Wolf, that he didn't have to pay any taxes. He is a multi-billionaire. He doesn't have to pay a nickel in federal taxes, because he knows how corrupt the tax system is. Well, if he knows how well that -- how corrupt that system is, I hope very much that he'll work with progressives to create a tax system which, in fact, asks billionaires and multi-national corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes.
BLITZER: Senator, did you personally advise Hillary Clinton to spend more time talking about those issues, specifically, to working-class white voters in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, issues that you championed?
SANDERS: Well, I think it's no secret that our campaign had an impact, a significant impact, on the Democratic platform. No secret that Secretary Clinton supported the Democratic platform, which I think is a document that, if adopted, will transform this country.
So I think, yes, Secretary Clinton I think understood the need to talk about raising the member wag minimum wage to a living wage. To make sure that public colleges and universities in this country are tuition-free, at least for the middle class. To make sure that we do not pass the Transpacific Partnership.
So I think, you know, in that sense, I think Secretary Clinton did listen to what not just I had to say but many other progressives.
BLITZER: Have you spoken with her since Tuesday night?
SANDERS: I have not. I owe her a call, and I will make that call, but I have not. But I think really now...
BLITZER: All right, let's...
SANDERS: ... what we have got to -- go ahead. I'm sorry, Wolf.
BLITZER: No, no, no. Finish your thought, please.
SANDERS: You know, what we have got to be doing now is focusing on the realities of where we are. Donald Trump won the election. He didn't get a majority of the popular vote, but he did win the electoral vote. He will become the next president.
And our job is twofold. Our job is to make sure that the anger that so many people in this country feel, because they are, in fact, working longer hours for lower wages. They're worried about their kids. If they're in rural America, they're seeing their downtown stores boarded up. Their kids are leaving town because there are no jobs in that community. Inner cities, youth unemployment, astronomically high.
People are angry; they have a right to be angry, but we have got to channel that anger against the people who caused the decline of the middle class and so many people living in poverty. Not take it out on our neighbors, who may happen to be Muslim or Latino or women. That is demagoguery. And I will do everything that I can to oppose that.
Let's deal with the real issues, that the rich are getter richer, that we are moving toward an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of billionaires control the economy as a result of Citizens United; control to a significant degree our political system, and may I say, control our media.
So there's a lot of work to be done. But let's not take out our frustration against the poor or minorities.
BLITZER: Senator, I'm curious, what was your reaction Tuesday night as you watched the results come in, and she started losing in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia? You were watching -- I'm sure you were watching TV. Were you surprised?
SANDERS: Watching CNN, as a matter of fact, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
SANDERS: I thought -- heh. I thought, as we went into the day, that there was a two-to-one chance that Hillary Clinton would win. So I thought there was a real possibility that Trump could win. I thought that the likelihood was that Hillary Clinton would win.
And I was sad for two reasons. Obviously, I worry very much about some of the very discriminatory and inflammatory things that Trump said during campaign. This is America. And we are not going to throw out 11 million people in this country who are undocumented. We're not going to turn against one of the largest religions in the world, people who are Muslim. I do not want to see Muslim kids -- and we're hearing about this already -- who feel intimidated in the country and frightened in living in the country where they grew up. That is not America. We do not want to continue the attacks against women that were so prominent in Trump's campaign.
But I hope that, on those areas where Trump talked about the needs, where he was right, the middle class, working class of this country is hurting. Let's work together to improve lives for millions of people who are now living in despair and who have the right to do a lot better than they are today.
BLITZER: And I'm sure you are happy, like you, he opposes the TPP, the Transpacific Partnership. And that apparently is not going to go anywhere under a President Trump.
And Senator, you made a big issue out of that, as well.
You also tweeted a stark warning, though, to Trump today, and I'll put it up on the screen. You tweeted, "If Donald Trump takes people's anger and turns it against Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans and women, we will be his worst nightmare."
So tell us what you mean by that. If a President Trump were to enact, for example, a ban on Muslims, a temporary ban, or mass deportations, what will you do about it? You're in the minority in the U.S. Senate.
BLITZER: The overwhelming majority of the American people, including people who voted for Trump, do not agree with those types of policies. And our job is to bring the people together, to organize, to put pressure on the administration and on the Congress not to go through with those policies which are so, so un-American.
Here is the simple truth. The people -- so many people in our country, Wolf, are angry because, you know why? They've seen their jobs go to China. Their kids can't afford to go to college. They can't afford childcare. They can't afford, if they're living in a city, often can't afford the high cost of rent. They're angry. And they're seeing almost all new income and wealth in this country going to the top 1 percent. Rich are getting richer. Everybody else is getting poorer. That is the reality.
[17:20:08] But what it would be unacceptable for a president to do is take that anger, that frustration, that hurt, and turn it against the poor, turn it against people of color, turn it against Muslims. That is demagoguery of the worst kind.
And if Trump attempts to do that, I will do everything that I can, along with millions of other people in this country, to say, "Sorry, that is not what the United States of America is about."
BLITZER: So what's your advice? Because you disagree with Donald Trump on a lot of these kinds of issues. What's your specific advice, senator, to Democrats as they deal with Republicans in Congress? Should they obstruct all this kind of potential legislation? What advice do you have for them?
SANDERS: This is what I believe. You know, Trump talked about his concerns about outsourcing, his concerns about a bad trade policy. If he is serious about reforming our trade policies and creating jobs in America and not in China, let us work with him.
Trump talked about a corrupt campaign finance system. He's a billionaire. He was able to fund a large part of his campaign. Well, you know what? Not every candidate is a billionaire. If Trump is serious about understanding that we have a corrupt campaign finance system, where special interests are able to buy politicians, I would hope that Trump will work with us to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and move toward a campaign process by which big money and wealthy contributors cannot control the political process.
If Trump is serious about his concerns about the needs of working people, let's rebuild the infrastructure. He's talked about that. I've talked about it. We can create millions of jobs rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our water systems, airports, our rail system. If he was not just into campaign rhetoric, and if he was sincere about it, let's work together.
So there are a lot of areas I think we can work together, if he was sincere in what he said during the campaign. But if he is going to resort to bigotry, trying to divide us up, we will oppose him, tooth and nail.
BLITZER: What is your message to the protesters? A lot of young people that we saw in the streets, for example, last night, who are very unhappy with the results, what do you say to those -- those young people and so many of them, as you know, supported your campaign?
SANDERS: I would say to them, No. 1, do not despair. Get involved in the political process. The views that we hold, that we should be a vibrant democracy and not move to an oligarchy, the views that we should have a non-discriminatory society, the views that we have got to tackle climate change and transform our energy system, that we need to make our public colleges and universities tuition-free. We have to deal with this grotesque level of income and wealth inequality. All of those issues are what a majority of the American people support.
So I would urge those young people, get involved politically. Run for school board. Run for state legislature. And by the way, a lot of people have done that. We've gotten some really good victories as part of an offshoot of what our campaign was about. And so I would say to the young people, get involved. Help us oppose Trump when he is wrong, and let's work together to create the kind of nation that most of us know we can become. BLITZER: Interestingly, Senator, you haven't -- you have not ruled
out the possibility of a 2020 run for the White House. Is that something you'd seriously consider?
SANDERS: Wolf, the last thing in the world, after this never-ending campaign where we have not even sworn in the new president, is to talk about 2020. So let's not go there at all. Right now what I've got to focus on is doing everything I can as United States senator to improve life for a middle class which is hurting today and to protect the interests of 43 million people who are living in poverty.
BLITZER: That sounds to me -- and you're going to be mad at me for pressing you, Senator, but that's my job. It sounds to me like you're not ruling it out.
SANDERS: Wolf, I would say there will be a whole lot of disappointment in this country if the media starts talking about 2020. We are -- you know, the people are tired of never-ending campaigns. Let us focus on the reality of today. Let's focus on the issues impacting the American people. And let's not worry about who's going to be running in 2080 or something like that.
BLITZER: All right. One final question. I know you've got to run.
BLITZER: The president, President Obama, he's right behind me over there in the White House, he's going to be president until January 20. Would it be a good idea -- do you believe it would be a good idea for President Obama to pardon Hillary Clinton?
SANDERS: To pardon Hillary Clinton? You know, Hillary Clinton is not indicted.
BLITZER: In other words, not allow her -- not allow her to be charged with any potential crimes. Because you know, there are those in the incoming Trump administration who want a special prosecutor to go ahead and file charges against her.
SANDERS: All I would say...
BLITZER: The president -- remember, there was a president, Gerald Ford -- we're old enough to remember when Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon. Do you think it would be a good idea for this president to pardon Hillary Clinton?
SANDERS: All right. I don't -- look, President Obama will do what he feels is best. But the idea in a democracy in the United States of America that a winning candidate would try to imprison the losing candidate, that's what -- that's what dictatorships are about. That's what authoritarian countries are about. You do not imprison somebody you ran against because you have differences of opinion. That would be an outrage beyond believe. And I think the vast majority of the American people would find that totally, totally unacceptable to even think about those things.
BLITZER: Senator Sanders, thanks so much for joining us.
SANDERS: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
I want to show our viewers picture we just received from the White House, showing the first lady, Michelle Obama, with the incoming first lady, Melania Trump. They're having tea in the yellow Oval Room in the White House. Very, very nice picture. I'm anxious to hear some more details how that meeting went.
I want to get some insight now from a member of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives who will be working closely with Speaker Ryan and President-Elect Trump, Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: Absolutely, Wolf. Thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: So you -- President-elect Trump, as you know, he met with your leader, your fellow Wisconsite, Speaker Paul Ryan. How do you think these two will work together?
DUFFY: I think they'll work well together. I know both of them. I know Speaker Ryan a little bit better. But both of them want to move an agenda forward to help the American people. And they understand that any problems that came from the campaign won't move that agenda. And so I think, as what you saw today, these two get along. They'll get along well. They'll start talking about policy. Their teams are talking about ideas. And I think this will be symbiotic as they move forward to inauguration day.
BLITZER: What's the first big policy move you want President-elect Trump to take on? And he'll be president after January 20. Once he takes office, what do you think the most important thing he should start working on?
DUFFY: Well, I think we can -- we can do a lot of things, but I think we have to work on healthcare reform. Our American families are getting slaughtered by the cost increases of health care. We need to work on tax reform, regulatory reform, all things that I think will kick-start and grow our economy.
I think we have to work on immigration reform. And I think we can get a bipartisan buy-in, if we can secure our border, to actually get immigration reform done in a way that works.
But we're going to talk about ideas that are a little bit different than Bernie Sanders, who you just had on the show. I mean, we don't want to -- we don't want to consolidate power in the Washington bureaucrat who think they know better how to run our lives, Wolf. We think Americans and American communities and families better understand how to run their lives and to lift the load of government off their backs. And let them run their businesses and their family and spend their money the best way they know how we think is the most productive way of growing opportunity and jobs in America.
I mean, the Democrat idea -- union shut down. Union jobs building the Keystone Pipeline. The fact that you've taken wage increases away because of all of the global warming regulation that's come on our small manufacturing businesses or the cost increases in health care. All of these things have devastated the American middle class. Middle income folks. And so we want to make it better. We want to improve that opportunity, improve those wages.
And I think Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan, as a leader in the Congress, can work together to get that agenda accomplished. And there are some big things we can do. And we need to bring Democrats in, as well, Wolf. We saw what happened when Barack Obama won and had ultimate power in 2008, and they didn't bring Republicans in. I think you get an electorate backlash if you're not inclusive of the minority party.
And so when we do this, I hope that Democrats will reach our extended hand and say let's work together to get these big things done that Mr. Trump talked about on the campaign trail. We want to include your ideas, your vision and your values in this legislation, as well. And if we do that, I think America is going to be better for it.
[17:30:00] BLITZER: On the issue of health care, Obamacare, does Donald Trump have a plan in place beyond the words "repeal and replace"? And what would happen to the hundreds of thousands of people in your state, in Wisconsin, who now do have insurance, thanks to Obamacare, especially those with preexisting conditions? What happens to those folks?
DUFFY: Well those with pre-existing conditions in Wisconsin Wolf, already, for the most part, had coverage. We had a risk pool. It worked really well.
So, we want to make sure those all across America who have pre- existing conditions can still get health care coverage. But you can't forget those people in my community as well who have been priced out of health care coverage. Their costs have gone up sometimes 100% to 200% over the course of the Obamacare implementation. And so, what we have to do is make sure we have a system in place that can still take care of those low-income folks who need some help to get health care coverage. But, we have to let markets work, competition work and families start to make decisions for themselves.
So, we in the House have put forward a plan and our better way agenda, you can see it on the Speaker's website. And, that's going to be the starting point. We've got to get Mr. Trump's feedback on healthcare reform, I'm sure he's going to want to have his imprint on it. But, I think we can work with him and we have to bring democrats in to and then say OK, what are your priorities as well? What do you think we're missing?
Because, what I've heard from democrats also is Obamacare, The Affordable Care Act is not working for middle-income families. Like Bill Clinton said, the guy that's working, you know, 60 hours a week and can't afford health care coverage, we need to get their ideas and get a holistic, reform approach to health care. And, I think all sides can work on that and do it.
BLITZER: Congressman, we're out of time. But, I want to give you a shout out, a congratulatory note. You told me a few weeks ago when few would have believed it. I looked at the transcript. You said I think Wisconsin will go to Trump in the end. And, guess what, you were right. So many others were wrong. Sean Duffy. Thanks so much for joining us.
DUFFY: Hey Wolf, I told you Wisconsin was the pathway to 270 and it was. Thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: You were right. All right. Thanks so much.
And, to our viewers, please stay with us for much more breaking news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
More information on what happened today in Donald Trump's meetings over at the White House and up on Capitol Hill. We'll be right back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our breaking news, president-elect Donald Trump came to Washington today for important meetings at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He said his one-on-one meeting in the oval office with President Obama lasted a lot longer than he had expected. He said he thought maybe 15 or 20 minutes. They met for more than 90 minutes.
Trump then met with republican leaders up on Capitol Hill, telling reporters his top priorities are immigration and the border, fixing healthcare and, "big-league jobs."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get some insight on all of the developments from our political correspondents and experts. And, David Chalian, I want to get to that in a second, but quickly your reaction to what we heard from Bernie Sanders, who clearly has a voice in the Democratic Party.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: A big voice! You know the , expression, politics abhors a vacuum. And, it doesn't take long to hear from somebody who wants to clearly be part of setting the direction of what the Democratic Party is in the Trump era. And Bernie Sanders is stepping right up to the plate. He in this interview -- he made very clear Wolf, I think, that he plans on shaping how the Democratic Party is the party in opposition to Donald Trump.
BLITZER: And, Mark, he's got a -- he's got a voice there, he's got influence now. He showed what he could do during the primaries.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR: And, he's got a following. And, his following is really the left wing of the party and also young people as well. You know, and the fact is, and when you pressed him a couple times about perhaps running in 2020 he wouldn't say no to it. So, I think in some ways, giddyup to him, right. Like he might be thinking of running.
BLITZER: He's not ruling it out by any means. But, how significant of a player is he right now?
REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, very significant Wolf. Because we saw with the vote on Tuesday really a rejection of the sort of moderate Hillary Clinton politics. And what many democrats would argue is politics of the past for their party. So, that sort of cautious establishment, brand of politics, really the opposite of what Bernie Sanders was selling in the democratic primary.
And, I think many democrats believe that, if the field had not been cleared, if there had been more competition in the primary, they might have had a stronger candidate to compete against Donald Trump.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: But, the interesting issue will be, what about the democratic senators who are up for re-election in red states two years from now? The Joe Donnelly's, the Mansions, in West Virginia. Are they going to take a lead from Bernie Sanders? I don't think so. So I think that's a real point of tension with the Democratic Party.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: But, remember, Bernie Sanders also found this economic populous and message ...
BLITZER: ... which Donald Trump found too ...
MURRAY: ... which is at the root of what helps Donald Trump soar to victory in some of these places. I mean the notion that everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a sexist or bigot or whatever, that doesn't hold weight. Some of these people voted for him, a large number, because of the economic populism. And, it is stunning now that you listen to Bernie Sanders and when you watch Donald Trump at the White House today, how much Hillary Clinton just lost that message even despite the lesson that she should have learned from the primary against Bernie Sanders.
BLITZER: David, Chalian, Donald Trump is now back in New York City, but he had quite an amazing day here in Washington today.
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BLITZER: First, he showed up behind us in the oval office. Look at that picture, who would have thought we would have seen that; the President of the United States welcoming the president-elect of the United States. They're sitting there where world leaders come. And, it was a pretty amazing moment, when you think about what really went on during those 90 minutes and the descriptions both gave. The President said it was excellent. And, Donald Trump was effusive in his praise for the President.
CHALIAN: He said he respected him. He said he's a good man. Not usually the words we've been hearing from Donald Trump about Barack Obama.
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CHALIAN: And, not at all how Barack Obama conducted himself on this campaign trail with regard to Donald Trump. But, this speaks to the last 36-40 hours since Donald Trump won, since he gave the speech that hit the right notes in New York on election night, talking about wanting to be the President for everyone. Barack Obama in the Rose Garden yesterday and, looking at these images today, everyone is sort of sticking to script here which I think gets to how critical it is. And, I think Donald trump, today my big takeaway was he clearly gets how critical it is that the country come together and heal after the election in some way if he is to be successful at getting his presidency started. And, I think that's why you saw quite a bit of humility I thought today in the halls of the Capitol and in the oval office, from Donald.
BLITZER: We certainly did. I'm curious Jeffrey, your reaction?
TOOBIN: Well, I am the skunk at the garden party here as I have been since Election Day ...
BLITZER: ... that's why I was curious.
TOOBIN: And, the same day we heard that he's considering for his Chief of Staff, Steve Bannon, who came from Breitbart. Do you think someone who came from Breitbart is going to lead an administration that --
BLITZER: He led the -- he was the CEO of the campaign.
TOOBIN: Exactly. And look at how he campaigned. He campaigned as Donald Trump. And ...
BLITZER: ... he got him elected -- he got him elected president.
TOOBIN: Exactly. By being an aggressive, controversial, outspoken, often angry person. Also can we say, Donald Trump is 70 years old. Do you think his personality is going to change now? I mean I think Donald Trump is who he is. He's been a fantastic success as Donald Trump and he's not going to stop being Donald.
MURRAY: But, also remember Steve Bannon's Breitbart is the one that's been working to peel the skin off of Paul Ryan as part of the core mission over at Breitbart for quite a long time. And, assuming that Paul Ryan stays on as Speaker of the House, this is something -- someone Donald Trump is going to will have to work, going to want to work with, to get a legislative agenda done. To prove that he is an effective president. To prove that it means something to have a president in the White House, that is a republican. And, also, republican controls congress, and that when you have all of those things, you can push forward an agenda.
And so that, to me, is a little perplexing, to see -- to see a Steve Bannon as Chief of Staff.
BLITZER: You know, Mark, what was significant to me -- and I don't know if it really is going to play out. When the president-elect was in the oval office, the president -- President Obama's Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, he took a tour -- he took a walk around the south lawn of the White House.
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BLITZER: Here, you see a picture. And, who is he walking with? Who did he invite for that little walk? The White House Chief of Staff, invited Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law who's been very involved in the campaign. Donald Trump loves him. Very close relationship. Played a significant role. And, all of a sudden who is walking with the White House Chief of Staff, Jared Kushner.
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PRESTON: Who in some ways was Donald Trump's Chief of Staff, entrusted person you know, that he could turn to throughout the entire campaign, not just the Bannon who came in at the end. Or the Corey Lewandowski at the beginning. Or the Paul Manafort in the middle. It's those meetings right there that really matter.
The symbolism of the pictures we saw today is important for the nation. As we're hearing what we think is probably a protest right now outside the White House that is rather loud. But the symbolism around the world that we had the president-elect and the President who do not like each other, sitting there and talking about a peaceful transition of power was extremely important -- extremely effective. But, it's these meetings right here that is what makes Washington work.
BLITZER: There was also indications today that the president elect wants to start off at least in some areas like jobs, infrastructure, where he can find some bipartisan cooperation. If he starts along those lines, he might start off on a good foot.
BERG: Absolutely. It would be a show of good faith. And certainly Donald Trump is not this ideologue. He's not a traditional republican in many senses even. And that was something that really bothered republicans during the primary process.
So, I wouldn't be surprised to see him extend an olive branch or as, to put it in Donald Trump terms, try to make a deal. This is something that's been a major part of his brand. And, actually, I was talking to Congressman Pete King about this at Donald Trump's victory party on Tuesday night. And he said infrastructure would be a great start just because it would be a bipartisan effort, something that could bring everyone together at a time when the country is so divided.
BLITZER: Let's show a chart, and you focused in on this chart, Rebecca.
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BLITZER: That shows non-college educated whites who voted for Trump. They clearly see the -- there have been some good job numbers for educated people, for people with college degrees. But, there's a lot of people who really haven't seen their jobs increase, their pay increase. They clearly heard the message of Donald Trump.
BERG: Oh, absolutely. I think this chart really tells the story of the 2016 election.
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BERG: And it's something that, frankly, we all maybe missed leading up to this election. I know I talked about the recovery in terms of just blanket job numbers, but I wasn't really looking at this divide between people with bachelor's degrees or higher recovering with millions of jobs being gained. But in the working class, people with high school diplomas, there was no recovery for these people. And, that's exactly why Donald Trump was successful.
BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, you heard Bernie Sanders say, if he wants to help working class folks out there create infrastructure, airports, schools, Donald Trump often talked about that, Bernie Sanders often talked about it. You can find some bipartisanship.
TOOBIN: You can. I mean the interesting complexity there is that it's the democrats and even President Obama who have been calling for infrastructure change. The opponent has been Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. So that's the question, is the republican leadership on board with infrastructure, because they passed a highway bill last year. And they said -- and, McConnell says, why do we need to do infrastructure? We just did it. So that's something to think about.
BLITZER: But, if there's a republican president in the White House now, maybe McConnell, maybe Paul Ryan. Sarah, you've covered Donald Trump from day one of this campaign -- maybe they'll listen to him.
MURRAY: Well, and, this is why you can't just assume that all the coalitions are going to line up when you go to congress the way we've seen them line up in the past. Sure, it's possible that republicans will say Donald Trump is the president and frankly Donald Trump is the reason that we -- a lot of us were re-elected and have these majorities now. And, so maybe we'll do these things because he wants to do them.
But, one of the realities that Donald Trump will run up against in congress that he did not run up against on the campaign trail is what these policies are going to do to the budget. And, the reality is the things he wants to do, across the board tax ruts, infrastructure spending, those are going to blow a hole in the budget. And, that's going to be a problem for republicans on the hill. And, the trade policies that he wants to pass, while they appear to be beneficial to his core supporters, that's part of the reason they elected him, that's going to be another problem for republican congressmen on the hill.
So, you might see a Donald Trump president who has republican majority in both -- in both the senate and in the house, but is relying on democrats to get some of these initiatives done.
BLITZER: Everybody, stay put. There's much more happening. We're falling all the breaking news and a post-election surprise.
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BLITZER: Russian officials now confirm the Kremlin was in what they call regular contact with the Trump team during the presidential campaign. So what are Trump's people saying about that?
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BLITZER: As president elect Donald Trump meets with President Obama and with the republican congressional leaders. Have Trump's aides already been in touch with Russia?
CNN Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto is joining us. Jim, there were toasts to Trump's election victory in the Kremlin. Has the ground work already been laid for a new relationship?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Trump campaign is denying these contacts, but Russian officials are saying that they did happen during the campaign. To be fair, the state department said today that these kinds of contacts, not unusual for both nominees to reach out to key nations in advance of election.
That said, and it is fair to say, that this is somewhat different since Trump often went very far outside the lines of U.S. policy on Russia and had advisers with unusually close ties to Russia, as well. Now today, Russia giving more details of those contacts with the campaign.
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SCIUTTO: During a campaign in which Donald Trump often praised Russia and its president --
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually did get along with Russia?
SCIUTTO: Today, Russian officials said the Kremlin had been in regular contact with the Trump team. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov telling Russian media "obviously we know most of the people from his entourage. Quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives."
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Russia's goal was better relations with the U.S. MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIN MINISTER SPOKESWOMEN: (As Translated)
During this entire period, we not only sent some signals through some representatives or private messages, it was our clear position that we are ready for cooperation and working together and establishing normal relations.
SCIUTTO: Trump's spokesperson, Hope Hick said the Russian account is "not accurate." Some Trump advisers did make public appearances in Russia during the campaign. Including possible cabinet appointee retired U.S. General Michael Flynn, who sat right next to President Putin at a Russian media gala last December; though before he took on a formal campaign role.
And, throughout the campaign Trump spoke of better relations with Russia and openly questioned the U.S. Intel community's assessment that Russia was behind cyber-attacks targeting the U.S. Election.
TRUMP: They always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia is because they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia.
SCIUTTO: Now however, his intelligence briefings will include the same level of intelligence that led the White House to name and shame Russia for the cyber hacks.
HEATHER CONLEY, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: As he starts receives briefings from the national security agencies, there's going to have to be a greater understanding of the Russia challenge.
SCIUTTO: That challenge includes Russian support for the Assad regime in Syria. Continued Russian military activity in Ukraine. NATO allies worried about and Russian aggression in Europe. And, threatening Russian military activity near U.S. ships and aircraft.
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SCIUTTO: A source with the Russian government tells CNN that it also contacted the Clinton campaign, which sent a team to Moscow for high level meetings, this according to that Russian source reached by CNN, the Clinton campaign declined to comment.
But Wolf, again, State department says it is normal for both campaigns to reach out particularly with key nations like Russia. But, of course, the difference here is, and this is a big question mark under a Donald Trump administration, he's expressed big differences with U.S. policy on Russia. Will he follow through with those differences as President?
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, a good report. thank you very much.
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BLITZER: Coming up, the White House transition begins at president elect Donald Trump sits down with President Obama in the oval office, and they pledge to cooperate for the benefit of the country. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news.
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PRESIDENT OBAMA: I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President Elect Trump.
TRUMP: Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you.
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BLITZER: The handshake, President Elect Trump meets with President Obama in the oval office. The two men sending a message of civility and unity to a divided nation and an anxious world.