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Obama Lays Wreath at Tomb of Unknowns; Trump Complains about Protesters Then Praise Them; Who Will Trump Name as Chief of Staff; Giuliani Being Considered as Secretary of State; Gen. Michael Flynn Being Considered as National Security Director. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 11, 2016 - 11:00   ET







KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Watching right there, President Barack Obama, the nation pausing on this Veteran's Day to salute the men and women of our armed forces and for their sacrifice day in and day out, keeping this country safe. The president laying the wreath there at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He walks through the building, then he will be giving remarks, as is tradition at this Veteran's Day ceremony. We will be bringing you those remarks as soon as they begin. We will be bringing you these very important moments throughout the hour.

Just a beautiful scene you are seeing there in the amphitheater we are looking at. We will continue to watch this.

As we watch live pictures from Arlington National Cemetery, let us bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr; CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier; and CNN military analyst, Major General James "Spider" Marks.

An important moment, and also an important day for Barack Obama. This is the final Veteran's Day ceremony he will be taking part in. He is taking part in, as commander-in-chief.

General, your thoughts as you saw Barack Obama there laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, your thoughts on this day.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: it's certainly very humbling, isn't it? It's a tradition that we embrace very, very proudly. It's an opportunity to recognize veterans on this very special day. Veteran's Day was established just short of 100 years ago at the end of World War I, but endlessly every day, 24/7/365 you have soldiers that are guarding that Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington. It really is an opportunity to thank veterans in a very humble and very quiet way for the sacrifices that they have made. So, I know the president is filled with joy and filled with a lot of humility that he can do this as commander-in-chief, and to be among those great soldiers out there and all the service members out there today.

[11:05:29] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly 19 million veterans. And again, our thanks go out to all of them. One of the truly great things about our country is how we do honor and respect all those men and women who have served. Then another one of the great things about our country is the peaceful transition of power $ which we are in the middle of right now. As President Obama is in the midst of his final Veteran's Day celebration as president, Donald Trump here in New York City is meeting with his advisers today and the transition team to move forward in one of the big decisions he will be making among the many is how to fill out that national security team.

Barbara Starr, I want to bring you into this discussion and us a sense of where we are right now in that transition.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, by all accounts, President-elect Trump is beginning to think about, meet with his people and trying to determine how he does want to fill out that national security team. These are going to be the first big appointments for this new commander-in-chief. They will set the tone not only for his administration, secretary of state, secretary of defense, CIA director, director of National Intelligence, national security adviser. But they will send messages to the world about the shape and tone of Trump administration policy.

I don't think it is lost on anyone as we look at these pictures that these ceremonies really do reflect the reality as President-elect Trump begins to assume that mantle of power, these are the moments that define a commander-in-chief, that define an American president to the world.

I want to go back on one point. It's so important to remember on this Veteran's Day that as the president lays the wreath, he is laying it at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Thankfully, with the advent of modern technology and DNA testing, we don't have unknowns falling on the battlefield. But it's the words. These are those who fell whose identity is known only to God because it's not known who they were. The military has been brought so far into the modern age that it is a new entity, it is moving forward.

And as commander in President-elect Trump will take charge of that. He will have to demonstrate clearly his views to both his four-star generals and his enlisted troops. He will have their loyalty. It's a country with civilian control of the military. There is no question about that. But they will be looking at him, he will be looking at them and there will be many challenges in the very opening weeks of any administration.

BOLDUAN: The first day he takes office, he's facing ongoing operations abroad, threats here at home. This is the most serious, this really kind of brings into stark focus the serious challenge, the serious responsibility of the next president, president-elect, when he takes office.

Kimberly, you have been doing some very interesting reporting actually about Donald Trump's potential national security team. Who he could be putting in place. There are hundreds of positions to fill when it comes to his national security team. Is he having difficulty filling $, out those positions because many republican national security experts had come out during the campaign to speak out against him. We have also gotten a lot of pushback. What are you hearing?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There are new faces vying for top positions who simply would have never been in contention before because of the way Washington works. Normally when there's a democratic administration in power, the top republicans go to industry or think tanks and they wait for their team to come back in office. The people who normally join in an administration have had prior experience as senior secretaries of departments. They know where the bodies are buried. They know how to pull the levers of power. The people applying for some of these jobs include 39-year-old Representative Duncan Hunter who$, is being considered for the post of secretary of defense. Normally someone at his age, his level of experience, wouldn't have a shot at that job. But because of his loyalty to considered. And you also have other people in the military industrial complex who have the top-secret ratings needed for some of these thousands of positions that need to be filled who are reaching out to the Trump team and saying consider us.

Now, the advantage is a lot of them have the operators' experience on the ground but they don't know how to necessarily move a large bureaucracy. They are driven in large part by a resentment towards the current administration, towards President Barack Obama, for in their perception, not doing enough to keep success going in Iraq, to maintain the situation in Afghanistan, and not doing enough to fight ISIS and Islam radicalism.

[11:10:39] BERMAN: Just to remind people, what you are watching right now, this is Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknowns. This is the Veteran's Day service at Arlington. We are waiting to hear from President Obama. Just moments ago, he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and he will deliver remarks shortly. We will bring you those remarks live on this day when we honor 19 million veterans.

We are using this as a chance to discuss the transition that we were in the midst right now from the Obama administration to the Trump administration and the decisions that President-elect Trump is making right now as he fills out his national security team or prepares to, at least.

I want to bring in General James "Spider" Marks.

Just to be clear, you supported Hillary Clinton during the election. The election I now over. As a veteran and someone with your military experience, what signs are you looking for during this transition period in the people that Donald Trump chooses to surround himself with?

MARKS: John, great question. I would tell you one of the things about national security in my view is it's ecumenical. It reaches across the aisle. Kimberly very, very precisely laid out how you have national figures that are in the republican side of the team and you have national figures on the democrat side of the team. In matters of national security, I think we would all agree that you want the very best talent, irrespective of what your political alignment might be but we are not naive. You have to have folks on the team that have that alignment but also have over the course of years, a sense of loyalty toward those that are in the party. Right now, you have the republican party that owns both houses of the Congress coming up as well as the presidency. So, there will be some very familiar Republican faces and my suggestion would be let's get as many folks who understand both the levers of power, as Kimberly indicated, those that can run government and then let's get some change agents who can change government because, clearly, a lot of stuff needs to get blown up and then be fixed in very quick order in order to make some adjustments as indicated by the president-elect and as necessary.

I think there are a whole bunch of folks in the national security apparatus right now that would say we have got to, in private moments, we have got to change the way things are happening not just what we see routinely in terms of our fight against is, how are we going to shore of our alliances, how do we get NATO to really stay aligned, we have new challenges with Putin being extremely aggressive, volatile and meddling, if you will. The pivot to China, the pivot to Asia, is that in fact realistic, is that going to happen? We can't -- can we remove the discussion of removing forces from the Korean peninsula. That would be disastrous. You have to have all these brains that can sit around and say, look, let's do what's best. That's job one of our Constitution and for our commander-in-chief.

So, what are you looking for are those that can raise their hand and be in my cases contrarians to say let's take another look at that, but also they have got to be loyal and folks in the military do transitions exceptionally well. That's when we do. Folks are moving in and out all the time so it's the ability to say yeah, we can do that and yeah, I understand what my chain of command looks like. It's no secret.

BOLDUAN: We are looking at the beginnings of that transition. One of those transitions, play out before us right now. You are looking at Arlington National Cemetery. Please stay with us. We will be hearing from President Obama delivering his final Veteran's Day address as commander-in-chief moments away. We're watching it with you.

Be right back.


[11:18:15] BERMAN: So as we wait to hear from President Obama delivering h& final Veteran's Day address as commander-in-chief, some political news. This morning, for the first time as president-elect, Donald Trump spoke out on the outbreak of protests around the country since the election and he offered mixed messages. You almost see an evolution in messaging. First, overnight, he tweeted, "Just had a very open and successful presidential election, now professional protesters incited by the media are protesting. Very unfair." He put that overnight. There was a lot of criticism nearly immediately by pointing the finger at the media, which really incited nothing. But after that, in the wee hours of the morning he put this out. It was a very different message. That said, "Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud." Quite a difference.

BOLDUAN: Quite a difference. Absolutely. This all happens as we are discussing the transition, all those conversations are under way for president-elect.

Let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray.

You are looking at the transition. What are you hearing is happening behind closed doors, because there's a whole lot of guessing going on outside of those closed doors right now.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I love that john calls it an evolution. That's very charitable. I look at those tweets and see it as an indication that Donald Trump got his hands slapped by one of his staffers after that first tweet and had to send another one to make up for it. I think what you are kind of seeing are sort of the push and pull, we have perpetually seen it during Donald Trump's campaign whether to follow his baser instincts or whether to follow what some of his advisers are telling him.

We are seeing that play out in the wrangling over who is going to be his chief of staff. Obviously, we have been talking about the potential for RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, to step up as Donald Trump's chief of staff which would send a signal that he's ready to immediately come in and work with the Hill. Priebus has a lot of relationships, of course, on Capitol Hill both with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

But the other name in this mix is Steve Bannon, who was Donald Trump's campaign CEO. He came from "Breitbart." And you know, really, when we talk about "Breitbart" we talk about it as a conservative website but it is really a conservative website that has become the home for sort of the Alt-Right fringe he is a flame thrower and a lot of people look at that as an indication that if he chose Steve Bannon he would be coming in and really sort of embracing the Alt-Right support that he at times, that Donald Trump at times disavowed as a candidate. Two very different signals. A very important position. Obviously, we are waiting to see who Donald Trump actually does select for that.

[11:20:56] BERMAN: It was interesting, I happened to be up in the wee hours of the night doing another show.

BOLDUAN: Really?

BERMAN: After that first tweet and after that Steve Bannon float, stock futures got a little hesitant after a few days of stock gains. The market didn't like it. There were investors saying, all of a sudden, they were concerned that this was the Trump they were hoping would go away so he may have had his hand slapped in doing some correction there as you say.

Meanwhile, Sara Murray, Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, seen going into Trump Tower earlier today. His name being rumored for a number of jobs, including maybe perhaps one that wasn't on people's radar as of a day ago.

MURRAY: Yeah, that's right. One of the areas that's emerging that we have heard really Rudy Giuliani is being considered for and is interested in would be potential secretary of state.

One of the things we need to keep in mind when we look at Donald Trump's consideration of his cabinet is that he does prize loyalty above all else. The people who stuck their neck out for Donald Trump and said they supported him and acted as advisers to him when many in the republican party wouldn't do so are likely to be rewarded in a now, Rudy Giuliani has a very long history. He's not exactly known for being soft-spoken and having that kind of diplomatic flare. It would certainly make for a very interesting confirmation hearing.

But I think we are starting to see a lot of different names floated for a lot of different positions and we are just now going to see Donald Trump wading into this process. He's meeting with people in Trump Tower today to be briefed on where his transition planning stands so far. A lot of people, even people working on the transition, did not expect to be at this point on this day, so there's a lot of chaos running around right now. We are a little bit further behind where we would be in a normal transition process.

BOLDUAN: Sara, I was going to ask you, with all of that in mind, is there any sense of timing on key posts like chief of staff? You really want a chief of staff in place quickly to help you with all the rest of it.

MURRAY: And there is a lot of pressure on Donald Trump to figure out this chief of staff situation. Over the weekend, and to come out and sort of be ready to get the ball rolling on Monday. Donald Trump has been known to sort of operate on his own timeline so we will see if that actually comes together.

I think in terms of chief of staff, in terms of some of the top core appointments, people do want to see who Donald Trump I seriously considering, is seriously going to put forward for these core cabinet positions because frankly, when you have a candidate who has been so erratic at times, who has taken so many different positions, who is so outside the norm of candidates we see, people coming in as president- elect, people do want a sense of what they are about to get themselves into. That could potentially be the kind of thing that calms people down or if you start seeing more people in the realm of Steve Bannon, we could see more jitters ahead.

BERMAN: Meetings in Trump Tower as we speak.

Sara Murray, thank you very much. Keep us posted if you get any news. It could really come at any moment.

BOLDUAN: Also, please stay with us. We will take a quick break and get straight back to Arlington National Cemetery where President Obama will offer his final Veteran's Day address as commander-in-chief. That's moments away.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:28:29] BERMAN: Once again, welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world.

And thank you to any of our veterans who might be watching.

We are moments away from hearing from President Obama in what will be his final Veteran's Day address as commander-in-chief.

As we watch these events live, we want to discuss sort of the current national security situation around the world during this transition period.

Let's bring in Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr; CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier; and CNN military analyst, Major General James -- retired Major General James "Spider" Marks.

Barbara, one of the names being bandied about most often as someone who will play a key role in President-elect Trump's national security team is retired General Michael Flynn, most likely as his national security adviser. What is his reputation and how is he looked upon inside the defense establishment right now?

STARR: Well, many of us as reporters have covered General Flynn for many years. He left the military a couple years ago basically being pushed out as head of the defense intelligence agency. There's just no way around it. He had a very difficult relationship with leaders in the U.S. Military, in the U.S. Intelligence community. He was someone who is very strong-willed, is very certain of what he believes, in his opinions. You can read his writings on this. He's been interviewed many times. He's a very adamant personality. You're right, he's the one, he's been very loyal to President-elect Trump. He's likely to be rewarded for that loyalty. Likely to become national security adviser.