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Trump, Pence Meeting for Cabinet Picks; House Votes on Leadership Today; Possible Loss of Leadership Position for Pelosi; Obama Concerned about Democratic Party; New Details on Clinton Debate Prep. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 15, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:33:17] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Take you straight over to Trump Tower. We just saw Vice-President-elect Mike Pence arriving at Trump Tower for the first big meeting, transition meeting, that he will be heading up since taking on this post as of Friday.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look at that notebook in his arms.

BOLDUAN: A binder full of something. Who knows?

BERMAN: Going up that escalator. He will meet with Donald Trump


BERMAN: I think of the escalator because I've been reminded there's an escalator that played some kind of role in this election.

Mike Pence going up that elevator, meeting with President-elect Trump and the whole transition team. We could get some announcement on some pick as early as today.

BOLDUAN: Keeping an eye on Trump Tower.

Also, keeping an eye on Capitol Hill. Today, House Republicans voting for key leadership positions. Paul Ryan is expected to keep his job as speaker of the House. He spoke to reporters a short time ago. Listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (D-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump's victory into real progress for the American people. Our team is very excited. We cannot wait to get to work. If we're going to put our country back on the right track, we've got to be bold and we have to go big. This country is expecting absolutely no less.


BERMAN: The life for Democrats on Capitol Hill this morning far, far different. Not a lot of peace, not a lot of harmony, not a lot of answers. House Democrats have now delayed voting for their leadership position. This is an interesting development. It's supposed to be a waiting period so they can digest the results of this election.

BOLDUAN: That's for sure.

CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is on Capitol Hill.

Jeff, you've been getting word from inside the room. You've been waiting. What are you hearing?

[11:34:58] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate and John. I'm in the basement of the capitol. House Democrats were meeting for really a couple of hours, talking about their way forward here. This is a big development, the fact that Nancy Pelosi is not going to be elected as the leader this week, and she could have competition in the next 15 days when the leadership elections happen on November 30th. Certainly, a moment for Democrats to discuss their way forward here.

I've been talking to so many members. One thing is clear. They say it may be time for someone from a different part of the country, not from California, not from New York.

One of the challenges here is that no one has stepped forward with the strength of leader, Pelosi, so right now she seems secure.

But I caught up with G.K. Butterfield, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, from North Carolina. This is what he had to say about the election and the way forward. Let's listen.


REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD, (D), NORTH CAROLINA & CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: We just got a shellacking last Tuesday. We had an unexpected defeat and we've got to recalibrate and decide how we go forward. It's just like death. There are different stages of grief that you go through. And after a defeat such as this, there are different stages that we have to go through to interpret the results.


ZELENY: So those stages of grief clearly happening, playing out in real time here.

As Republicans are forming their new government, Speaker Ryan is not expected to have a challenge to his position this afternoon. Not the same for Democrats at all. We're keeping an eye on here to see if this is a change moment for this Democratic Party or if it's no - John and Kate?

BERMAN: Jeff, is this being seen as a sign of weakness for Nancy Pelosi? Are there any other names being seen as a legitimate threat to her?

ZELENY: It's one sign of weakness, the fact that she wanted this to be wrapped up this week. she wanted the leadership election happen this Thursday. Now, that is not going to happen. Now, some people who are considering challenging her, Tim Ryan, the Ohio Congressman. I talked to him a few moments ago. He was out on the campaign trail so aggressively. He said, look, it is time for the Democratic Party to have sort of more representation geographically here. So, he is strongly considering running against her. But he knows that is also a risky proposition. Nancy Pelosi has been in power for a long time in the House Democratic leadership here and, frankly, you're not going to run against her unless you have things lined up here. But keep an eye on Tim Ryan. A younger member, someone who represents what now is red state America.

John and Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating.

Jeff, great to see you. Thank you.

Jeff outside that meeting. We'll get a lot more reporting of what's going on.

And G.K. Butterfield described it as the stages of grief that the Democratic Party is going through right now.

BERMAN: More to go through.

BOLDUAN: Right now, also, we're keeping an eye on Trump Tower. Vice- President-elect Pence, he just arrived for the first big transition meeting he'll be leading since taking on that role, meeting with the president-elect, meeting with all of the transition team. Hopefully, maybe, they can make some cabinet selections as early as today. Big decisions ahead them. We're keeping an eye on Trump.



[11:42:24] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT: In my view, the Democratic Party has not been as strong as it should be. Saying, yeah, we're going to stand with the working people.

I like Hillary Clinton. I knocked my brains out to get her elected. But I think it is fair to say the working class of this country did not believe she was prepared to stand up and fight for them.


BOLDUAN: That was Senator Bernie Sanders there, critical of Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic Party for their approach in winning over or not doing enough to win over working class voters in this election. Sanders isn't alone in his criticism. You might be surprised at who agrees with him at least being critical of the Democratic Party. President Obama expressing some concerns over the last 24 hours, not mentioning though, Hillary Clinton by name.

BERMAN: Joining us to discuss, CNN political commentator, John Phillips, who was supportive of Donald Trump during the election. He is a KABC radio talk show host out in Los Angeles. Also, joining us, CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. She supported Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Angela, what's going on inside your party right now? We just heard from Capitol Hill, a report up there, the House Democrats have delayed their election for House leadership for a few weeks, which could spell trouble for Nancy Pelosi, and the word is maybe they want some geographic diversity. Maybe not so much, you know, San Francisco, a little more heartland.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITIAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me answer the Capitol Hill portion of this first. I think the democrats are not only on the Hill but throughout the country have every right and should be focusing on what went wrong this election. We have to come to terms with the fact there's a large swath of our country, that our policies, our talking points, our messaging, was not speaking to.

What's interesting to me about Nancy Pelosi, is not only these particular optics but potential challengers. Is, this is the one woman left standing in House leadership, in House Democrat leadership, and it will be interesting to see after this election where, frankly, the woman candidate won the popular vote with -- are they really going to take out the only woman in the House leadership? I think that's fascinating. I could be deemed a Beltway insider. I could be too close to what happens in this bubble. I think that's not good optics. That's not the direction we need to be going in as the big-tent party.

BOLDUAN: That's fascinating. A lot of discussions going on right now, Angela.

John, I want to get your interesting perspective on this. President Obama speaking yesterday and today kind of talking -- you can't -- he's critical in so many words. He's critical of the Democratic touting his legacy. Especially yesterday, saying we have to compete everywhere, show up everywhere. Meaning Democrats haven't done that, is what Barack Obama is saying.

What do you think of the role of President Obama right now? He said yesterday, Donald Trump, he's pragmatic, he's not an ideologue, he cares very much about the peaceful transition of power. What do you think of it?

[11:45:34] JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'll go ahead and give him a compliment here because I think he was shocked by the results. If you look at that initial picture of him and Donald Trump sitting at the White House, looked about as comfortable as Liza Minnelli and David Guest (ph) in their wedding photos. But he's really taking the transition from being the campaigner-in-chief, where he was out throwing partisan elbows at Donald Trump the whole way through in the last days of the election to being the president who wants to see the peaceful transition of power. He's going around the world and saying, look, Donald Trump is not going to cause the end or the world so let's go ahead and give him a chance. I think the advice he's giving Democrats is good advice.

It's also, by the way, advice that Bill Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, was giving the campaign before election day. And they treated him like he was some sort of pariah. He was saying, look, you've got to go into Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania. They pretty much only campaigned in Philadelphia. You've got to go into Kentucky. You've got to go into these other states that Bill Clinton won when he ran in 1992 and 1996. And they just ignored him. They figured, you know what, we'll get the base out, we'll have huge turnout in the big cities, and that will be enough to swamp Donald Trump and provide 270- plus electoral votes. Just didn't work out.

BERMAN: Angela Rye, one the things I've been thinking about since, you know, a week ago today basically is, you know, Obama world and Clinton world inside the Democratic Party, those are two different spheres that largely came together over the last several months in this election. But that doesn't mean they all get along.

Are you starting to see the beginnings of Obama world pointing some serious fingers at Clinton world, starting with the president, who basically said, I went to Iowa, I worked really hard, campaigns are about personalities and campaign strategy and, by the way, I won two?

RYE: John, let me push back on that a little bit. I think starting right after the 2008 elections, you didn't see these worlds conflicting, you saw them colliding. I think in a positive way. From the moment, Barack Obama named Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, you saw a lot of overlap, not only in Clinton staffing at the State Department, but also in the White House. There are a number of people who are part of Clinton world who became a part of Obama world. So, I think we need to be careful with that narrative.

I also don't think the president is intending to jab Hillary Clinton in any way by saying, hey, you didn't go to as many places as I did. I think he's saying the reality of this is we needed to have a number of conversations that were far more incident in far more rule areas. Even if cities that are, you know, populations of 51,000 to 100,000, you know, we needed to have some smaller more targeted conversations.

I think the other thing he said that's getting a little bit less traction is it's hard to have, it's hard for people to hear, it's hard for you to share your message when people can't hear you. I think that's important because it wasn't that Hillary Clinton didn't have a platform. It wasn't that he didn't have an agenda that could speak to Americans. It's that with all of the other background noise we talk about - Democrats have to cover, right, her opponent -- we were talking about garbage instead of talking about the platforms of these candidates. That's the real challenge.

BERMAN: Angela Rye, John Philips - John Phillips, thank you always for your insight and observations and keen wit.

Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Brand-new private conversations with Hillary Clinton as she tried to strike the right balance before the big debates with Donald Trump. How would she go about it? We have new insight into this planning. It's all part of a remarkable CNN book.

Stay with us.


[11:53:15] BERMAN: It sounds like a simple question, do you have your strategy? But the answer is complicated as you could ever imagine. This morning, new details emerging about how Hillary Clinton prepared for the three presidential debates.

BOLDUAN: All part of an upcoming book from CNN Politics called "Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything." It reveals how Hillary Clinton struggled in striking a balance ahead of the debates and in the debates.

For more, let's bring in political commentator, Hilary Rosen, longtime Democratic strategist and friend of Hillary Clinton's.

Hilary, in this book, it's fascinating. It reveals private conversations you had with Hillary Clinton. The question, "Do you have a strategy?" That's your question. Her answer, "Difficult."

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I, like a lot of people during this campaign, shared some behind-the-scenes with the reporters of this book knowing it wouldn't be published until after campaign. Look, there were a couple of big moments during the campaign, and clearly, the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most anticipated moment. He had really vanquished his Republican colleagues in the primary debates and people were wondering whether Hillary was up to it, whether he would do the same to her. And, I think by all accounts, she really kicked his butt in that first debate.

BERMAN: And had a lot of different considerations she told you, going in?

ROSEN: She did. She knew the moderators announced a hands-off strategy on fact checking. So, Hillary knows herself very well, and said, you know, people want me to be -- people want me to be likable and approachable but also want to see me as a tough commander-in- chief. I have to be, you know, deep in facts, because that's my contrast with him. Oh, yeah, and I have to be his fact checker. A lot of things she needed to accomplish, and she did. That was a big moment.

[11:55:14]BOLDUAN: A lot of people thought she. Donald Trump tweeted yesterday he thought he won the debates and that helped him to a win. That, of course -


BOLDUAN: -- the debate over the debate continues.

ROSEN: It happened in the last couple debates where it was a little more divided. I still think she won. I think I'm too traumatized to actually read the book but I definitely ordered it. BOLDUAN: You can read it later. No demand you read it now. Just

happy you took part.

Hilary, great to see you. Thank you.

ROSEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: The book we're talking about is "Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything." It's available for pre-order at You can find it in stores December 6th.

Inside Trump Tower right now, Trump and Pence hunkering down as they get ready to announce key cabinet selections maybe as early as today. Just 66 days to have everything ready and in place before they get sworn in as all theirs.