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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy; Michelle Meets With Melania; Racist Chants, Vandalism Reported After Election. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 11, 2016 - 4:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will his advisers have to tell president- elect Trump to drop his phone before raising his right hand to take the oath?
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news: changes inside team Trump before there's even officially a team. The vice president-elect now taking charge of the transition as Trump tweets his way into another mini-controversy.
He's the battering ram, the alt-right man for the job. Steve Bannon of Breitbart being talked about for a key senior White House role. What that would mean for those Breitbart has repeatedly attacked, including the Republican establishment?
Plus, she's one of the most popular first ladies in history, so what advice did Michelle Obama give to incoming first lady Melania Trump? We will talk to her chief of staff live.
Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper.
First things first. To all veterans today, from my family and the team here at THE LEAD, thank you.
Our politics lead now. We are three days into the Trump transition and there are already has been a shakeup, a transition in the transition, if you will. Governor Chris Christie, the head of the transition team since May, has been demoted and vice president-elect Mike Pence is now in charge.
We're all trying to figure out just how president-elect Trump is going to govern. Will he be profane and alienating? Will he be presidential? Will he unite the country? Will we see this guy or will we see this guy?
This is the very first governing decision made by president-elect Trump. What does it mean?
Jim Acosta is tracking all the developments in the transition today.
Jim, just a short while ago, RNC chair Reince Priebus walked into the Trump building. Have we seen any white smoke from Trump Tower indicating that the president-elect has settled on a White House chief of staff?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There is often white smoke in New York City, but this is not the white smoke we're looking for just yet, Jake.
Donald Trump is closing in on making his selections for some of the most important staffers in his upcoming ministration. But we're also learning there is some infighting behind the scenes inside his transition, as you said, as vice president-elect Mike Pence is taking over the effort to build up the administration and Chris Christie.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Just days after the election, a shakeup inside the Trump transition team. Vice president-elect Mike Pence has taken over Trump's transition efforts, bumping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie down to vice chairman, along with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, Newt Gingrich, and Dr. Ben Carson.
Sources say the move comes after infighting inside the transition over whether the team should hire previously anti-Trump Republicans, the so-called never-Trumpers, not to mention the still unfolding Bridgegate scandal in New Jersey.
But the incoming administration is facing a more pressing concern, continued protests against the president-elect flaring up across the country.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Look, I everyone needs to just take a deep breath.
ACOSTA: RNC Chair Reince Priebus urged calm after the president-elect himself ratcheted up the tension, returning to Twitter to complain: "Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters incited by the media are protesting. Very unfair," a gripe he walked back, later tweeting: "Love the fact that the small group of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud."
But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says Trump must do more than just tweet. "If this going to be a time of healing," Reid says in a statement, "we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs, at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate."
Priebus, who helped persuade Trump to stop tweeting at the end of the campaign and now a front-runner for White House chief of staff, agreed demonstrators have a right to protest.
PRIEBUS: I understand the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, but this election's over now. And we have a president-elect who has done everything he can do over the last 48 hours to say, let's bring people together.
ACOSTA: CNN has learned Priebus and former campaign chairman Steven Bannon are the leading candidates for the powerful chief of staff position, with a source telling CNN that signs are pointing to Priebus. And key staffing positions may be coming soon, though House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, who is under consideration for treasury secretary, says he's still waiting to talk to Trump officials.
REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: I'm very excited about Donald Trump's economic agenda for America, fundamental tax reform, getting rid of bank bailouts, getting rid of Dodd-Frank, having better competitive trade deals.
ACOSTA: And there are some familiar names mentioned on the Trump transition's executive committee, including his children, Ivanka Trump, Don Trump Jr., and Eric Trump.
The team's new executive director, Rick Dearborn, replaces Rich Bagger, who was also, by the way, Jake, tied to Christie. We should point out "The Wall Street Journal" just came out with an interview that they did with Donald Trump.
He mentions in that interview that he's open to keeping parts of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, which is interesting, because that is something he vowed to repeal during the campaign.
TAPPER: Interesting. Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
And despite the public tone put forward immediately after the election by president-elect Trump and President Obama and Hillary Clinton imploring citizens to come together, there have regrettably been outbursts of hatred across the nation in the days since the election.
This map shows just a few places we know of where people have been victimized by racially tinged or politically motivated attacks and even what authorities are calling hate crimes since Tuesday night. Some of these pictures we're about to show you might be hard to look at.
In Maple Grove, students scrawled racist graffiti on a high school bathroom, #gobacktoAfrica and #whitesonly crudely carved into a bathroom door. In South Philadelphia, Nazi graffiti appeared on a storefront window. "Sieg heil 2016," it said, right next to Trump, the T replaced with a swastika.
Some of the violence has been against Trump supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You voted Trump? You voted Trump? Yes. He voted Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: That cell phone video from the West Side of Chicago catching two men literally trying to kick a man's teeth in. We have no idea why the two men brutally assaulted this man, but you can clearly hear onlookers shouting, even encouraging with the attackers, with chants of "You voted Trump. Beat his ass. You voted Trump."
Joining me now to talk about this and much more, Congressman Sean Duffy. He supported president-elect Trump's campaign.
Sir, congratulations on your candidate's win. I'm sure you're happy there's about to be a unified Republican government and maybe even happier that Wisconsin went Republican.
REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: Yes.
So, we predicted that Wisconsin could actually go red, but we were more hopeful probably than seeing data on the ground. And it was a good night for us as Republicans, first time Wisconsin went red since 1984.
And Ron Johnson was reelected. So, we feel pretty good in the Badger State turning it red from blue. And, yes, ready to go.
TAPPER: So, I just -- I want to ask you. So, you just saw those incidents of violence, racially, anti-Semitic-tinged graffiti. Supporters of Trump have been committing some of these acts. Opponents of Trump have been committing some of these acts.
Do you think that president-elect Trump should do more to address the country to try to encourage unity, especially after an election where he said a lot of things that offended a lot of people?
DUFFY: Well, so, first, the video you just showed of a man getting beaten outside of his car, there's also one of a young girl, a sophomore who was beaten up in high school by another girl because she was a supporter of Trump.
We see the protests in the streets that are causing criminal damage to property. I think what we need is both Mr. Trump, Mr. Obama, and Mrs. Clinton to all talk to the American people and say, listen, let's stand down. We had an election. That's what we do in America. We have a debate. It can get tough at times. But once the debate is over and we declare a winner, we accept the votes at the ballot box.
Let's not take to the street. Let's not beat each other up. Let's not, you know -- let's not put discriminatory things in our bathrooms or our on monuments. But it takes both sides to calm this thing down. And you know, Jake, that WikiLeaks indicated that it was the liberal side of the Democrat Party that was trying to foment violence within Trump rallies and make it see like Donald Trump was a man of violence, but they were instigating that, as WikiLeaks exposed.
So, I think, again, Barack Obama has a very strong voice, and he can help calm the country. And so too can Hillary. And I think Donald should be part of s well. TAPPER: Mr. Trump is currently deliberating over whom to make his
chief of staff. Our reporting says that he personally wants Steve Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart Media, to do It, either as a White House chief of staff or as a senior adviser.
As I'm sure you know, many progressive groups, including the Sovereign Poverty Law Center, have been very critical of Bannon for things in his past, as things that Breitbart has said about minorities, not to mention attacks by Breitbart against the Republican establishment, including your good friend Speaker Ryan.
What do you think about a Bannon appointment?
DUFFY: Well, listen, this is going to be Mr. Trump's choice.
But, from my perspective, I look at Reince Priebus, who is also up for this position, and a Wisconsin guy, Jake. But Reince is good friends with Paul Ryan and has the ear and the trust of Donald Trump.
And if you want to get legislation through the Congress, and get the president to sign it, there's one guy who can bring all sides together, all viewpoints together, and be the grease in the wheel to make legislation work. And that's Reince Priebus.
And so I think he would be the best choice. Now, I don't know that he actually wants the job. It's a tough job. But I think Reince would be the best guy because he knows all the players and all the players trust him because he's a straight shooter.
So -- but, again, Mr. Trump will make the decision who's best to lead his team in the White House. But Reince and his relationships would, I think, bode well for the Republican Party as a whole.
TAPPER: In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal" just published, his first interview since becoming president-elect, Mr. Trump told reporters that he wants to keep some pieces of Obamacare in place, including the prohibition against insurers denying coverage because of a patient's preexisting conditions, in addition the measure that allows kids to stay on their parents' insurance plans up until I believe age 25 or 26.
As someone who wants Obamacare completely repealed and replaced, is that acceptable to you, or do you want the whole thing gone?
DUFFY: Well, first, there's principles that we agree with.
We want people who have preexisting conditions to get health coverage. In Wisconsin, we had a high-risk pool that allowed those with preexisting conditions to actually buy insurance. It was a little more expensive, but they could afford it.
You don't to want see folks who had cancer or a heart attack not be able to buy insurance. But we have got to do it the right way. Also, I mean, Jake, you can run for Congress at 25. Obamacare lets
you stay on your parents' health care until 26. We might have to relook at that and maybe say 22 or 23. Get people through college, but not -- you know, not into their young adult life. That just gets to be really expensive and drives up the cost.
And so I think we have to look Obamacare that are working and maybe repackage them in new way. But, also, a lot of this doesn't work, Jake. And in my community, we have people who are having a hard time paying their mortgage or putting food on the table. And when they get a 20 or 25 percent increase in their cost of health care, they can't afford this stuff.
And so we have to have a significant remake of health care. And we will sit down with Mr. Trump and see what he likes and what he doesn't like and make our decisions from there. But we don't disagree with every concept within Obamacare. We disagree with how this whole thing has worked as a package to drive up costs.
TAPPER: Republican Congressman Sean Duffy, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
DUFFY: Hey, thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: He's feared by both Democrats and Republicans alike, and now Trump wants him to help him run his White House,so just who is Steve Bannon? That story next.
[16:16:10] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
The breaking news this afternoon, the Vice President-elect Mike Pence now in charge of the Trump transition, replacing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. This move comes after news that President-elect Trump is considering his campaign CEO Steve Bannon for one of the most important jobs in Washington, White House chief of staff.
Today, CNN learned that in their meetings with President-elect Trump yesterday, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan told Trump they thought RNC chair Reince Priebus would be the right choice and best fit for chief of staff. Now, some sources are suggesting that Priebus still seems to have the inside track on the chief of staff job.
But either way, Steve Bannon seems to be headed to a senior role, and that has many Americans, including many Republicans in Washington quite nervous.
TAPPER (voice-over): As one of the few who took Donald Trump's presidential potential seriously before almost anyone else, and as an architect of Trump's take no prisoner strategy, Steve Bannon is the man that Trump's gut tells him should be the White House chief of staff, and if not that, then at least a senior advisor at the White House, sources tell CNN.
But it's a prospect that gives many Americans, not to mention Washington Republicans, severe heartburn.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Do you have match so that I can set my hair on fire?
TAPPER: Steve Bannon came to the Trump campaign from Breitbart News, a bomb-throwing site favored by the so-called "alt-right", a mixture of conservatives and populists, white supremacists, and anti-Semites, a news outlet that gave Trump favorable coverage.
Bannon's appointment to the Trump campaign immediately raised flags at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
RICHARD COHEN, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I don't think people realize how far outside of the mainstream some of the ideas are that the Breitbart website under Mr. Bannon has promoted. It's been racist, it's been homophobic, it's been anti-immigrant.
TAPPER: Many establishment Republicans found themselves agreeing with Hillary Clinton when she took on Bannon and Breitbart in August.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here are a few headlines they published and I'm not making this up -- birth control makes women unattractive and crazy. Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer? Gabby Giffords, the gun control movement's human shield.
TAPPER: Another problem in terms of day-to-day governing is that Bannon and Breitbart have a long record of taking on establishment Republicans whom Bannon felt betrayed the conservative cause.
STEVE BANNON, THEN-CHAIRMAN, BREITBART NEWS: We don't really believe there is a functional conservative party in this country. We certainly don't think the Republican Party is that.
TAPPER: One prime target: House Speaker Paul Ryan, whom Bannon once complained was, quote, "rubbing his social justice Catholicism in my nose every second."
Weeks after Paul Ryan have been named speaker of the House, according to a leaked email published by "The Hill", Bannon said that he had plans for the Republican, quote, "long game is him gone by spring."
BANNON: What we need to do is bitch-slap the Republican Party and get those guys heeding to, and if we have to, we'll take it over.
TAPPER: Bannon guided Trump to take his campaign and American politics into places that establishment Republicans found uncomfortable. He was a major force behind Trump's decision to appear with women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Regardless of Trump's own vulnerabilities on that issue and that "Access Hollywood" tape that come out just days before. DONALD TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy.
TAPPER: For Trump, a candidate who dispends with many of the political, not to mention general societal niceties.
TRUMP: And you can tell them to go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) themselves.
TAPPER: Bannon was a good fit. In 2007, Bannon's ex-wife accused him of making anti-Semitic remarks trying to keep his daughters from attending a school with a sizable Jewish population.
[16:20:03] Quote, "He said he doesn't like Jewish and that he doesn't like that they raise their kids to be whiney brats," his wife said in a court documents.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Steve Bannon has denied those charges. I know he enjoys a very strong relationship with his ex- wife.
COHEN: Bannon created a home for white supremacy, white nationalism online. And the danger now, of course, is that he's going to provide a home for it in the White House.
TAPPER: A Bannon pick would speak to the way Trump intends to govern and interact with party leaders and political opponents in Washington.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: They saw the movement of the people rising up against the government really before anyone. So, if he chooses Steve Bannon, it shows he's going stick to his roots.
TAPPER: Reince Priebus is one of the leading contenders to run Trump's White House. We'll talk to RNC chair Reince Priebus's former chief of staff next.
Stay with us.
[16:25:11] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Our money lead today: the Dow is up more than 5 percent this week and closed above 18,800. So far, the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump's election has been pretty good for investors' bottom line. After fears of a market crash, Wall Street soared to record territory and all-time high, fighting back from futures that plunged hundreds of points as election results came rolling in Tuesday night.
The economy, of course, will be in a major focus of the Trump administration, ensuring the highs on Wall Street translates to Main Street.
Joining me now to talk about all this is Angela Rye, CNN political commentator and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. Also here, Mike Shields, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund and former chief of staff at the Republican National Committee.
Thanks to both of you for being here. Really appreciate it.
So, first of all, before we get to Reince Priebus, I know you want to talk about him. But before we get to him, what do you make of the first governing decision that Donald Trump has made demoting Chris Christie and putting Mike Pence in charge of the transition?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Mike Pence is his vice presidential nominee, will be the vice president, he's going to play a huge role I think as you're putting a transition team together, you needed experienced hands, right? This is an outsider government coming in, but he put Mike Pence on the ticket for a reason. And so now, you've got an experienced hand come in.
Obviously, you know, you're asking me because of the Chris Christie side of this. I can't speak to what the decision was there. We know that there are some difficulties that the governor of New Jersey is facing. But Mike Pence was going to play a big role, obviously. So, in some ways, it's sort of like let's get on with putting the administration together with Pence.
TAPPER: Let me ask you about the talk that Steve Bannon might be the White House chief of staff, and if not the White House chief of staff, at least a senior advisor. He had always said, Steve Bannon always said he was going to go back to Breitbart News after the election. It looks like that's not necessarily going to be the case.
I'll ask you about Reince Priebus in a second, but what do you make of Steve Bannon. Is that something that might alienate Americans?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It certainly alienates folks the 59 or now the 60-plus million folks who already did not vote for Donald Trump. I think further exacerbates that frustration. I think that just like President Obama, you sent a very strong signal to the American when you first picked your chief of staff and you also send a strong signal to the Hill. So, he's sending a signal that says I am doubling down on an alt-right message, one that has ginned up my base, but aliened many of who you talked about an outsider message, the insiders.
So, I think it's a really interesting thing. We, of course, know that Barack Obama chose Rahm Emanuel to be his first chief of staff. You hate or love him, and I think the same is true for Steve Bannon. You hate him or love him.
TAPPER: What do you make of it? I know you support Reince Priebus and think he would be great. You heard Sean Duffy just saying the praises of him. Do you think Bannon both because of the things that Breitbart has said about minorities and things he has personally said about minorities, but also because Breitbart has gone after Republican leaders, by name, including the speaker, that that could hurt Donald Trump's ability to govern as president?
SHIIELDS: I think who names his chief of staff matters I think more than anything. So, you're going to have senior advisers, the people that work on the campaigns, Bannon was in charge of the campaign.
SHIELDS: He's going to be in the administration. I think, you know, there's nothing surprising about that. And he's going to play a role.
I think the person who's the chief of staff really matters because they're governing, they're overseeing all of these things. They're bringing all the people together to enact the president's agenda, to hire the staff, the cabinet, all those sorts of things.
So, look at the decisions we're already seeing President-elect Trump make. He's already named a transition team as we mention with Mike Pence. Reince Priebus is on there as chief of staff, Katie Walsh is on there. Members of Congress are on there. People that are in Washington are being named to the transition named here.
So, you're already seeing -- Bannon may be a part of the administration, but it's not the only story. I think you're starting to see that President-elect Trump wants to work with people. He's starting to realize he's got an agenda to put forth. He's bringing people into the administration already that can get the job done. I think that's the bigger story.
RYE: But isn't he also sending kind of a conflicting message? So, on one hand, he's talking about Steve Bannon potentially being chief of staff. On the other hand, Mike Pence who is very much a D.C. insider. A transition team that is full, you're talking about draining the swamp, full of lobbyists, like full of lobbyists. And then you're transition team executive committee has three Trump children on it. So, it's just interesting to see the --
TAPPER: Grown children, we should note. In their 20s and 30s.
RYE: Grown kids, but they're three Trumps on the transition team. So, it's very much incestuous. It's very much one that is not -- I'm not saying that in a nasty way, I'm just saying, it's more of the same. Trump's family has run his businesses, now they're also planning in some way to plan how he runs the government. And he also is saying on one hand, I'm going to run an outsiders game, but at the same time the insiders game and I might keep Obamacare.
TAPPER: Key parts of Obamacare, he said in an interview --
RYE: Most important parts that we love and Republicans hate.
SHIELDS: Which, by the way, every Republican reform plan of Obamacare that's actually been introduced and contains those two provisions still staying. To say -- they do, look at the bills that are introduced on the floor. The preexisting conditions and children age 26 staying on your parent's insurance, that does not mean you're keeping Obamacare.