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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Holding First Meeting with Foreign Leader; Trump & Romney to Meet This Weekend; Fear & Anger Over Potential 'Muslim Registry'. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 17, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:07] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, transition reality show. Donald Trump's transition team racing to fill key positions while Trump's son-in-law weighs what role he will play in the new administration.
Romney meeting. A source tells CNN Mitt Romney and Donald Trump will meet this weekend to discuss possibly serving in the Trump cabinet. Is Romney, who refused to endorse Trump and once called him a fraud, really willing to serve in the Trump administration?
Muslim registry. Would a Trump administration consider forcing Muslims entering the United States to register in a database? Tonight, Muslim-Americans and civil rights group, they are worried about a possible new wave of discrimination.
And nuclear options. As Trump prepares for his first post-election meeting with a world leader, is he pushing the idea of more countries building their own nuclear arsenals?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news this hour, as Donald Trump holds his first meeting since the election with the leader of another country. Japan's prime minister is coming to Trump Tower in New York, saying he wants to build trust with the president-elect. During the campaign, Trump criticized the U.S.-Japanese military relationship and even raised the possibility of Japan's possessing nuclear weapons.
Also breaking, word that President-elect Trump will meet this weekend with one of his harshest Republican critics, former presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Even more surprising, Romney may be under consideration for a post in the Trump cabinet.
We're also following a new controversy. New talk about setting up a registry for people coming to the United States from high-risk areas, mostly Muslim majority countries. Is that, in effect, a Muslim registry?
We'll discuss today's important developments with former congressman Jack Kingston. He was a senior advisor to the Trump campaign. And our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the breaking news. Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is over at Trump Tower.
Jim, has the prime minister of Japan arrived already to see Donald Trump?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump will be sitting down shortly with the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, for his first meeting with a foreign leader since winning the presidency just last week.
But, Wolf, Donald Trump is also tending to some domestic matters, namely filling his cabinet. And he is considering names at this point that are very surprising and suggest that he knows he has some fence- mending to do.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In all the comings and goings at Trump Tower, a signal is being sent that the president-elect just might be ready to put the scorched-earth campaign behind him and perhaps engage in some healing.
In addition to his meetings with foreign policy heavyweights like Henry Kissinger, Donald Trump has been sitting down with some of his biggest rivals and toughest critics from the primaries. South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, who's under consideration for secretary of state. Former Texas governor Rick Perry, at energy. And Ted Cruz, contender for attorney general.
SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR & CHIEF STRATEGIST: Donald Trump right now isn't looking to figure out who supported him and who didn't. If you are the best person for that job, then he wants you as part of this team.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I taught my two little ones that you don't push people around.
ACOSTA: Haley fought hard against Trump, announcing she reluctantly supported him in the general election.
HALEY: The best person based on the policies and dealing with things like Obamacare still is Donald Trump. That doesn't mean it's an easy vote.
ACOSTA: Trump was just as brutal, once tweeting, "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley."
RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservativism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded.
ACOSTA: Trump once said of Perry, he should be forced to take an I.Q. test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate. Vice-president-elect Mike Pence was on Capitol Hill, reaching out to
Democrats, meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after flexing some of the GOP's new muscle in this selfie.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very humbled to be back with my former colleagues. We're excited about moving the Trump agenda forward. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And I'm just so grateful.
ACOSTA: But House Speaker Paul Ryan hinted it's not clear how quickly the GOP will be able to deliver on its promise of repealing Obamacare.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's too early to have the -- to know the answer to how fast can Obamacare really occur?
ACOSTA: But Pence and the transition are vowing to clean up Washington, with new restrictions on lobbyists joining the administration.
TRUMP: Governor Chris Christie, folks, was unbelievable.
ACOSTA: Part of the criticism of ousted transition chair Chris Christie is that he had too many lobbyists on board, leading Trump loyalists to question what happened to "drain the swamp"?
On "60 Minutes" Trump himself seemed resigned to working with the lobbyists he blasted on the campaign trail.
LESLIE STAHL, "60 MINUTES": You don't like it, but your own transition team is filled with lobbyists.
TRUMP: That's the only people you have down there.
[17:05:07] ACOSTA: And one of the other interesting guests here at Trump Tower today, Wolf, was the Israeli ambassador to the U.S, Ron Dermer. Ron Dermer came downstairs after his meeting with Donald Trump and said he looks forward to working with all members of the Trump administration. And he specifically mentioned Steve Bannon, the chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Trump.
Wolf, that is interesting, because of course, we know that Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart News, which had posted material that was viewed as anti-Semitic.
We should also point out, coming up after Thanksgiving, aides to Donald Trump say he's going to be going on a thank America tour. They're not calling it a victory tour. Calling it a thank America tour, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. Jim Acosta over at Trump Tower, thank you.
Let's get some more on the surprising news about the upcoming Trump/Romney meeting this weekend. Our politics executive editor, Mark Preston, he broke the story earlier today here on CNN.
What else are you hearing, Mark?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, Wolf, we know that this weekend Mitt Romney and Donald Trump will sit down and discuss, amongst other things, how to govern, how to move forward and also the idea of the potential of Mitt Romney joining Donald Trump's cabinet.
What does that mean? Well, there are only two positions, really, when you talk to Republicans that they think that Romney would actually be interested in. One would be secretary of state. The second one would be treasury secretary. Although I have to hedge and say that it seems as though Mitt Romney would be more interested in the secretary of state.
Now, what's interesting, too, about Romney, as when people were talking about him today, they talk about him as somebody who is very tough, but he's a gentleman and he knows when to draw the line, which is obviously needed when you become secretary of state.
And our own Jamie Gangel is now just reporting as I read this off my Blackberry that Mitt Romney has told friends that he would like to serve in government again. And one of the positions that he'd like to serve is as the secretary of state and that Romney is being presented as a choice to Donald Trump, you know, as Donald Trump is looking for, quote-unquote, "adults" that he would bring into his team.
Now, this all comes as there's been questions being raised about whether Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and the top surrogate for Donald Trump, could actually make it through a confirmation hearing, Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff. What does it tell you, Mark, that Donald Trump is inviting his fierce critics, Republican critics, like Mitt Romney, to come over to Trump Tower, to sit down with him and to review, discuss and maybe even discuss the possibility of serving in a Trump cabinet?
PRESTON: Well, we've certainly transitioned out of the campaign aspect of what we've been through the last year, year and a half to where we are now into governing. And I think what we're seeing from Donald Trump now is him using his business acumen, trying to bring in the smartest people to his fold to try to help him move the country forward.
Now, the idea of bringing Romney in is interesting, because Romney understands global affairs, but he also understand the global economy. And the fact that he had the likes of Ted Cruz up to Trump Tower as well as Nikki Haley today says something about trying to mend fences with those that you were battling with over the past year, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, he certainly is trying to do that. All right. Thanks very much. Good reporting, as well, Mark Preston helping us.
Joining us is now here in THE SITUATION ROOM is Jack Kingston. He's a former U.S. congressman from Georgia. He was a senior advisor to the Trump campaign. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISOR TO TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Glad to be with you.
BLITZER: What do you think about this development? Surprising. Mitt Romney all of a sudden this weekend, going to sit down with Donald Trump and maybe discuss the possibility of becoming secretary of state.
KINGSTON: You know, I think it's exciting. It shows that the campaign is over with, that the administration is moving forward, and in my opinion, it started at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning with the tone, and then the next day Hillary Clinton striking the right tone. The next day meeting with Barack Obama. I believe that Donald Trump has quickly brought a closure to the campaign phase, and now he's talking about governing.
And reaching out to your political enemies, as you know, Wolf, very, very difficult. A lot of politicians never do it. But it sort of fits the theme of Donald Trump being a different type of leader and somebody who doesn't go by all the conventional rules.
BLITZER: It was closer to 3 a.m., by the way. I remember it very, very vividly that night. I'd been on the air since 5 p.m. It was 3 a.m.
Let's talk about Mitt Romney, though. I had a chance to sit down with him in Park City, Utah, earlier in the year. And listen to what he said about Donald Trump then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He's demonstrated who he is, and I've decided that a person of that nature should not be the one who, if you will, becomes the example for coming generations or the example of America to the world.
Look, I don't want to see trickle-down racism. I don't want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation. And trickle- down racism, trickle-down bigotry, a trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now those are pretty powerful words he said then.
[17:10:00] KINGSTON: They are. But you know, when you -- even listening to those words, you can see what a diplomat that Mitt Romney is. So many of the other critics of Donald Trump were just bare knuckles. "You're a horrible guy," kind of grabbing people by the throat and saying, "I don't like Donald Trump."
But I think Mitt Romney was very forceful but also very selective with his tone. And that's what you want in a secretary of state, somebody who can actually just be a little bit more patient, a little bit more careful with what he says.
And I think, if the two of them can get together, Mitt Romney is an extremely smart guy. He brings a lot to the table. And so I think looking at him as a candidate is the right thing to do.
BLITZER: And if -- if Donald Trump, the president-elect, were to select Mitt Romney as his secretary of state, clearly, I think, Mitt Romney would be interested in that. What would it say to you, given those harsh words, what would it say to you about Donald Trump?
KINGSTON: I think that he's just willing to move forward. He wants to do what's best for the United States of America.
But the other thing, Mitt Romney does represent a more moderate part, a more mainstream part to the Republican Party and having somebody like that who's extremely pro-America, pro-business, who's been around the block a few times, I think it would not be a bad move.
And I think that the more conservative base of the party would not be uncomfortable with Mitt Romney in that role. There may be some other roles where they would not want him, but I think secretary of state, I don't think the two are too far apart on the Middle East or on China, or North Korea, some of these other big...
BLITZER: Ted Cruz was there yesterday. They exchanged some pretty harsh words during the campaign. He was at Trump Tower. Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina. They exchanged some pretty harsh words, as well. Yet now, what, all of that is the past? Forget about it?
KINGSTON: I don't know that everybody is ready to forget everything, but I think to start talking is the right thing. Sometimes when somebody is throwing plates at you, you've got something to work with as opposed to indifference. The best thing to do is start communicating and start engaging. He is sending that signal that, you know, we need to come together.
BLITZER: What do you think about this notion of reviving what had been in place, some sort of Muslim registry, as some people are calling it, people from Muslim-majority countries coming to the United States, being on a database. Because that's causing some alarm bells. It had existed before during the Bush administration, went away during the Obama administration.
Now apparently, the Trump -- the incoming Trump administration is re -- is considering it once again.
KINGSTON: I think you'd really have to justify it internationally, and you'd have to show why it worked before and why it wasn't a violation of liberties.
For example, if -- and he has said this with the extreme vetting, is that, if you come from a country that has a pattern of being anti- American, we want to know about you. We want to know what your person feelings are before you come into this country. And it is all part of the bigger picture of border security. He also talked about a committee on how do you stop people from being
radicalized once they're in America? And I think this is part of it. You know, what do we do for people who come -- who are coming here? You know, what are the motivations? So I think the discussion of it is a national security issue, and I think it's consistent with his immigration security plan.
BLITZER: Because when they did away with it, the inspectors general and those who were reviewing it called it obsolete, not reliable. There was a lot of -- a lot of concern. They also said it was inefficient. But from what you're hearing, they're thinking of reviving it?
KINGSTON: Well, I'm not certain that they are. But if it's a discussion item, you just need to know what were the pros and the cons? But I'd say this. In terms of the relationship with Muslims, he has an opportunity when he talks about the Obama administration got it wrong with the Arab Spring and embracing the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt. And I think he can build upon that.
I don't want to make the same mistake that the Obama administration did with the Arab Spring. And I think that will be well-received around the Middle East.
BLITZER: What's very worrying right now are the hate crimes being committed against Muslims in the United States at mosques and other places, as well. That's very disturbing right now.
KINGSTON: And he certainly denounced that. And now Hillary Clinton has. I think both. And President Obama. The tone that has been set, I think, is a very good one, and people need to step back and say, you know, this is not what America is about. We've got to get along.
But he has that opportunity again with Muslims to say, "We are going to engage in the Middle East. We're going to try to do what we can in Syria, and we want to bring civility, and we're not going to make the same mistake that the Obama administration did."
BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stand by. We're standing by. The first meeting that Donald Trump is about to have with a foreign leader. We're watching Trump Tower very, very closely right now. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
[17:19:04] BLITZER: We're back with the Republican -- former Republican congressman Jack Kingston as we cover the hour's breaking news. He was an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign.
The meeting between Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it's the president-elect's first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader since the election but only one of many meetings that Trump is considering as he chooses his cabinet and his White House staff.
Congressman, this meeting that he's having with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, emphasize -- the first meeting that the president-elect is having with a foreign leader, there's been a whole issue over these many months of the campaign that at one point Donald Trump said, "You know what? Maybe Japan should go nuclear. Have its own nuclear arsenal to deal, for example, with North Korea." It caused alarm bells in Japan, given the history of World War II, as we all know. Is that still, as far as you know, the president-elect's policy?
KINGSTON: No. I think that was something that he threw out there somewhat for discussion. I think also to send a signal to North Korea and maybe to China at the time that we have an ally over there that's sort of getting pushed around when it comes to the sea lanes by China, potentially by North Korea. And I think what he was saying is Japan is a great ally of the United States, has been for decades. We're not going to lower our commitment.
One of the things I...
BLITZER: So he really doesn't want Japan to go nuclear?
KINGSTON: No, I don't think so.
BLITZER: All right. What about the other criticism he had of Japan? The U.S., as you know, has still 50,000 troops in Japan right now. He was very critical of the Japanese for not shelling out more money to pay for that U.S. military protection that it gets in Japan. He says they pay some but not enough. He wants more, I assume. I don't know if he will raise this issue with Prime Minister Abe.
KINGSTON: You know, in our installations around the seas -- around the globe, we kind of have a mixed review. If you talk about moving one of those installations out of a country -- Germany, Italy or wherever -- they say, no, it's a great economic impact. But sometimes the citizens on the streets, you know, have this "Yankee, go home" attitude; and we've gone through that with Japan.
So I think the concern is, look, if you -- if you want us there, we're going to stay, but you've got to appreciate us. And sometimes we do on military constructions -- construction -- I used to serve on that committee. We pay very, very high prices to get new barracks built or runways, or so forth. And you know, I think...
BLITZER: So you want -- Donald Trump still wants Japan to pay the U.S. more to take care of those troops that are deployed there?
KINGSTON: I think it always has to be kind of a landlord/tenant discussion. And I don't think it's anything unusual. I don't think it's going to be anything that pulls us apart.
It's important for us to be in Japan because of China, because of North Korea. And really the trade and economic issues in that area. And we're committed to that. The fact that this is his first diplomatic meeting, I think shows a very strong signal not to -- not just to Japan but to the Pacific Rim in general.
BLITZER: It's interesting you used a landlord-tenant analogy. Donald Trump knows a lot about being a landlord... KINGSTON: That's right.
BLITZER: ... and dealing with tenants.
Thanks very much, Congressman, for joining us.
KINGSTON: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, fear and anger as a Trump transition advisor raised the idea of setting up a registry for people coming to the United States from high-risk areas, as they defined them, mostly Muslim majority countries.
Plus, is Donald Trump ready to follow through on his campaign suggestion that a nuclear-armed Japan potentially could help deter North Korea?
[17:26:53] BLITZER: A prominent member of Donald Trump's transition team is touting a registry for immigrants from nations which he calls high risk. That could mean the incoming administration revives a controversial program which critics say unfairly targets Muslims based on their religion.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is digging into all of this, looking for details. What are you learning, Drew?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the campaign promise was extreme vetting for potential terrorists. This certainly seems to be the start of that policy.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): It is an idea that has immigration groups in a panic. Forcing people from some Muslim majority nations to register when they come to the U.S. And it comes from this man, Kris Kobach, a Kansas secretary of state, a highly polarizing figure who's an immigration hard-liner and reportedly helping President-elect Trump form immigration policy.
TRUMP: My plan ends illegal immigration and suspends immigration from terror-prone regions. Now, I have to tell you, we're going to have the wall.
GRIFFIN: The idea isn't new. The U.S. had such a registry in place for nine years. It was called the NSEARS, or National Security Entry- Exit Program, developed largely by Kris Kobach when he worked at the Department of Justice.
REP. KRIS KOBACH (R), KANSAS: One of the things that we did right after 9/11 -- I say "we," the Justice Department -- was implement the NSEERS system, which took people from high-risk countries and required that they check in after 30 days. GRIFFIN: Immigrants and visitors from more than two dozen countries were required to check in, be interviewed, fingerprinted and monitored while they were in the U.S. Virtually all of those countries were predominantly Muslim. Kobach is talking with the Trump transition team to bring it back.
Critics call it a Muslim registry. Today in a text to CNN, Kobach says it's no such thing. "There is no registry of Muslims proposal whatsoever," he wrote. "The model I discussed was the NSEERS system for screening aliens from high-risk areas without regard to religion."
The program began under President George Bush following the 9/11 attack. It ended nine years later. An inspector general's report in 2012 called the program then "obsolete, unreliable and an inefficient use of resources." The ACLU, which fought the program, says it was worse than that.
OMAR JADWAT, ACLU: It actually made genuine efforts at trying to combat terrorism more difficult by destroying relationships with immigrant communities and actually negatively impacting the ability of the federal government to cooperate with foreign governments in fighting terrorism.
GRIFFIN: The screening of people from certain high-risk countries is just the start of the ACLU's problems with Kris Kobach. He has spoken before groups critics consider to be white nationalists. He's pushed for very strict immigration laws in at least six states. He was the architect behind Arizona's controversial state bill 1070, which allows police to ask for immigration papers for anyone who looks like they might be from another country.
[17:30:00] Kobach has been sued at least half a dozen times over his policies against illegal immigrants. The ACLU says, if Trump follows his advice, they expect to file many more lawsuits.
JADWAT: Our focus is on his policies and on the abject failure of those policies to respect the constitution and the laws and the fact that they've been incredibly discriminatory.
GRIFFIN: No official comment, Wolf, from the Trump transition team, but now, two sources familiar with this process are telling CNN it's not all majority-Muslim countries part of this current list, it seems the countries with heavy ISIS presence, though, are a campaign promise, again, from Donald Trump. Wolf?
BLITZER: Drew Griffin reporting for us. Thanks very much. Let's talk about all of this and more with our political experts and guests. Harris Zafar joining us right now. Harris, I'll start with you. You're a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community here in the United States. What is your reaction when you hear about this proposal to revive what in effect is a registry of people from Muslim -- largely Muslim-majority countries coming to the United States?
HARRIS ZAFAR, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN FOR AHMADIYYA MUSLIM COMMUNITY: Well, Wolf, as Muslims who believe in the messiah (INAUDIBLE) we within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community find it patently absurd and profoundly appalling that in the 21st century we have people vying for leadership roles in president-elect's cabinet who are advocating for the removal of rights from the U.S. constitution. We have people talking about this is a precedent set by what we did to the Japanese in internment camps, which is not a success story. That's an embarrassment and a stain on the legacy of the United States.
And so, the question is why is this - why is this registry idea scary. Of course, on the one side, we have droves, we have swarms of Americans who are coming to Muslim neighbors to show their support. They're going on trueislam.com, their adding their list to the growing number of Americans to show support for that cause. But you do also have a growing segment, or in the past 10 days, who have been attacking Muslims, threatening them, berating them, vandalizing property, attacking Muslim women. So, under the leadership of the Khalifa of Muslim, we're saying let's not talk about things that are unconstitutional that take away people's human rights. Instead, let's talk about discussion, and dialogue and bringing people together from the opposite ends. That's what makes us American.
BLITZER: Because -- I just want to point out that the person promoting the intern camps was a supporter of Donald Trump, not a member of the transition team, just want to be precise. Have you actually seen within your community, Harris, I know you're well plugged in, violence attacks against Muslims resulting from all of the conversation that's been going on?
ZAFAR: I have indeed had conversations with Muslims who have faced or their family members have faced physical attacks. Within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in particular, we haven't yet. Our mosque in Connecticut was shot up last year in a - in a famous incident. But so far, it hasn't been exclusively our community, but in the broader community, absolutely. We've seen Muslims that have been attacked with vandalism on their property, and even Muslim women who've had their hijabs physically pulled off. And so, this is something of concern. Of course, his holiness told us that we don't - he doesn't believe this can actually be enacted. He doesn't believe that Muslims can truly be round up and taken - and their rights taken from them in a society and a government like the United States. So we should stay - we should stay calm, but at the same time, speak out when anyone's rights, Muslim or not, are being taken from them.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Sara, and you've covered this campaign from the beginning. He started off, Donald Trump, with a temporary ban on all Muslims coming to the United States, but that was moderated later to extreme vetting, not necessarily of all Muslims. Where do you expect, based on all the conversations, the reporting you've done, as President of the United States, where do you expect Donald Trump to move this policy?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think that's still an open question in part because, you know, that's not what Donald Trump is spending his days holed up in Trump Tower working on. He's still building out his cabinet. And he did moderate his tone, he talked about extreme vetting, but he also talked about how that was an expansion of the Muslim ban. He said he wasn't rolling it back. And as part of that extreme vetting, there was also a religion test, which raised a whole new set of red flags for people, because obviously, under our constitution, you're free to practice any religion without persecution from the government.
So, I think that it's a little irresponsible for us to say, here's what Donald Trump would do as president, and to sort of try to walk back his rhetoric to make people feel better. I think that people have a real reason to be concerned right now, and we need to wait to see what policies he actually proposes, and see if that was sort of the beginning of walking back, not just rhetoric, but also policy.
BLITZER: Mark, you broke the story that Mitt Romney is going to be meeting this weekend with Donald Trump and may be actually interested in getting a cabinet position, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, for example. How serious do you -- based on all the conversations you've had in your reporting, how serious is that possibility?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I think it's a lot more serious than most people think, and for a couple of reasons. One, a lot of people were taken aback including those in the Romney orbit, and quite frankly, those in the Trump orbit as well. But it does say something about both men. One, that Donald Trump is bringing his enemies in and seeking counsel or at least trying to break down whatever anger they had towards one another. Nikki Haley today, we saw Ted Cruz earlier this week, and of course, Mitt Romney now will be meeting with Donald Trump in New Jersey on Saturday for this meeting. Now, I'm told that they will discuss the Secretary of State job, which would be an interesting job for Mitt Romney, given the fact that he does know global affairs, he also understands global economy, and really, those are two things that really go hand and glove.
In addition to that, our Jamie Gangel is reporting that Mitt Romney has expressed interest in continuing to serve the country, which I think we have all covered him enough that we know really where his heart is, and that he's actually mentioned the Secretary of State job as something he would be interested in doing. This all comes as Rudy Giuliani was said to be the frontrunner for the Secretary of State job. However, we saw what happened with questions about what would go on with a Rudy Giuliani confirmation process.
BLITZER: As you know, Rebecca Berg, in the final weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump's theme was "drain the swamp." Now, they've decided to eliminate lobbyists from the transition team and to say anybody who serves of the 4,000 political appointees serves in the government in the Trump administration would not be able to become lobbyist for five years after leaving the government, and I assume there's more of that on the way.
REBECCA BERG, REAL CLEAR POLITICS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And that was certainly an important first gesture for Donald Trump. But during this transition process, it's really an interesting balance that he needs to strike, Wolf. Because on the one hand, Donald Trump ran as an outsider, he doesn't have any government experience of his own, doesn't understand policy at the level of people who do have government experience. And so, he needs some people who have served in government to kind of guide him through this process and serve in his cabinet. On the other hand, because of this drain the swamp promise, you don't want only insiders in his administration, and so that's why he's going to need to turn, as well, to some what we would consider outsiders, people maybe who have worked in business, people who have gone on to do other things outside of government. But it's a really interesting balance that he needs to strike, certainly the lobbying ban is an important gesture. It shows that he's going to be serious about looking outside of Washington, looking outside of Washington insiders to help shape his administration.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. There's more coming up. And to our viewers, please be sure to check out the first-ever book from CNN Politics, it's called "Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything." It'll be in the book stores December 6th in stores around the country. You can pre-order your copy, though, right now at cnn.com/book.
Coming up, new questions about whether a nuclear-armed Japan could help counterbalance the threat posed by North Korea. Donald Trump suggested the idea during the campaign. Is he discussing it with Japan's Prime Minister right now? Stay with us. We're expecting new details about this first meeting the President-elect is having with a foreign leader.
BLITZER: The "BREAKING NEWS." Donald Trump meeting right now with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, the first foreign leader to visit Donald Trump since his election. The meeting comes at a crucial time for American strategic interests in Asia. Brian Todd is joining us. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're hearing fresh concerns tonight about how Donald Trump will handle nuclear weapons in Asia and elsewhere. National Security experts openly worry tonight about whether President-elect Trump will allow countries like Japan a South Korea to get those weapons. And there's more concern about Trump's personal temperament, whether he'd launch nuclear missiles at even the slightest provocation.
TODD: In about nine weeks, Donald Trump will take hold of America's nuclear codes. He'll be able to launch nuclear missiles with a single, momentary decision. And tonight, there are serious concerns about whether Trump wants countries like Japan and South Korea to have nuclear weapons. As a candidate, Trump said this ...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?
TODD: A few days later, he went back on that, sort of.
TRUMP: Japan should have nuclear, that's what I said, supposedly. I didn't say that. I would rather have them not armed. But I'm not going to continue to lose this tremendous amount of money. And frankly, the case could be made that let them protect themselves against North Korea.
TODD: Anti-nuclear advocates say the uncertainty is dangerous.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT OF THE PLOUGHSHARES FUND: Japan is in crisis, South Korea is in even in a more severe crisis. There are ultra-right, nationalists forces in both countries that want nuclear weapons. The president of the United States must be absolutely clear that we do not want them to do that. That is not the path for security in Asia.
TODD: We asked the Trump transition team to clarify the president- elect's position. We haven't heard back. Tonight, some of Trump's national security critics say they're outright scared about him having the nuclear codes. They describe him as quick-tempered, prone to lash out.
TRUMP: I would bomb the (BLEEP) out of them.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If your closest advisers don't trust you to tweet, how can you trust him with the nuclear codes? You can't do it.
TODD: Trump told NBC he'll be responsible with the codes.
TRUMP (via telephone): I will not be a happy trigger like some people might be. I will be the last, but I will never, ever rule it out.
TODD: The moment he's sworn in, Trump will have several potential nuclear crises to deal with. Tensions between Vladimir Putin's forces and NATO are escalating. North Korea's belligerent dictator Kim Jong- un already has nuclear weapons that can threaten his neighbors and tens of thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea. If there's an alarm, even a false one, Trump would have only a few minutes to decide whether to launch nuclear weapons or hold back. Pete Metzger is a former marine who carried the nuclear football, the (INAUDIBLE) with launch codes, for President Reagan.
PETE METZGER, CARRIED NUCLEAR FOOTBALL FOR PRESIDENT REAGAN: The result of a decision the president would make is so grotesquely horrible, so grotesquely horrible. It would change the face of the earth, it would change humanity, it would change mankind. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TODD: If the president decides to use the "Nuclear Football" and launch a nuclear strike, is there anyone on the chain of command who can actually stop that order? The White House won't comment on that but Pete Metzger and other experts tell us, "Unless there's a full-on mutiny, no one can stop the president's order." Wolf.
WOLF: Brian Todd reporting for us. Brian, thanks very much. We have our experts standing by to discuss. We're joined by our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto, our Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott and our Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson. Actually, guys, stay with us for a moment. We're getting some new information. We'll take a quick break, we'll be right back.
WOLF: The "BREAKING NEWS," we're following. We're waiting word from President-elect Donald Trump's first meeting since the election with the leader of another country, the Prime Minister of Japan. Japan rearranged his travel plans and as at Trump Tower in New York City right now. Let's get the expertise of our correspondents. Jim Sciutto, you know this region quite well. Trump has been pretty critical during the campaign of Japan, saying, "You know what, on trade issues, Japan doesn't reimburse the United States enough for the 50,000 U.S. troops that are stationed in Japan." This meeting is potentially very significant.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And he also raised the possibility of giving Japan nuclear weapons and other U.S. allies in the region, unsettling U.S. policy. I mean, listen, it's not clear that this meeting or the order of this meeting follows any particular plan. I mean, we know even with the phone calls that Donald Trump has had so far that it's been a little bit haphazard that the Australian Prime Minister have to get Greg Norman's - Greg Norman to get the phone number of Donald Trump to arrange that meeting. I spoke to a close U.S. ally yesterday. So, they had to reach out to half a dozen people inside Trump world to arrange a meeting.
So, it's a little unconventional, shall we say early on, so not clear that this meeting is number one for any particular foreign policy region - reason. It may very well be just because the Japan pushed so hard for it, because Japan needs some reassurance on these issues, on the nuclear issue, on their ties, you know, the military bases, et cetera. They're going to be looking for reassurance as they sit down with the President-elect.
WOLF: Ivan, as you know, Trump suggested during the campaign, unless Japan reimbursed United States more money for the 50,000 U.S. troops who are based there, he would - he might pull out those troops. What would be their reaction of that?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it would just kind of destroy one of the central pillars of Japan's national security policy, which relies very much on the U.S. military deployment there. It would also raise some serious questions, where will the U.S. put its seventh navy fleet, for example, which has been operating in the Pacific Ocean, since World War II. That comprises more than 40,000 sailors and troops, and more than 100 aircraft, dozens of ships as well. Where would they go? Aides to the Japanese Prime Minister have been making the case, listen, it's pretty affordable for the U.S. to have its troop deployment in Japan, arguing that Japan pays more than 50 percent of the cost, different estimates up to perhaps five billion dollars a year that Japan pays. And that's far more, Japan argues, than Germany or South Korea pay for U.S. deployments in those countries. So, it would essentially up-end the post-World War II kind of military and strategic architecture in the Pacific Ocean that the U.S. has helped set up from some 70 years, Wolf.
WOLF: It's interesting, you know, in a least, as the President-elect is meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan earlier, just few hours ago, the president of the United States, President Obama, was meeting with Angela Merkel in Germany. And he said he hopes Donald Trump is willing to stand up to Russia. Those are pretty significant words.
ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Very significant, and I think what you're seeing from President Obama is, you know, traditional diplomacy, right? Traditional diplomacy is not, you know, big deal making between leaders. It's what they call tending the garden, the nurturing of relationships and alliances, and also sending signals to the world, just like President Obama was sending a message to Donald Trump, don't make deals with Russia, giving all the complicated issues that we're talking about today. And you know, if whether you agree with President Obama's diplomacy or not, or his policies, he always is trying to be statesman-like and send these careful messages. You haven't seen that from Donald Trump, talking about alliances, talking about building relationship. You hear a lot about adversaries or how countries are a drain. And so, these kind of meetings like today, with no preparation from the State Department or the Defense Department, no briefing much like the calls we've been talking about, are a little bit risky, because right now, countries might have given him a pass on the campaign, but now they're really listening to what he -- the President-elect has to say.
WOLF: And we're expecting a statement from the Trump campaign on this important meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan. Also a statement from the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Abe, I think he's going to go to the microphones, we'll, of course, have live coverage of that.
Also coming up, were expecting a statement from the Trump transition about other developments that are going on. Of course, a statement involving this meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan and more on this afternoon surprising breaking news -- important breaking news that Donald Trump will meet this weekend with Mitt Romney, who may be under consideration for a senior role in the Trump administration.
WOLF: Happening now, breaking news, building trust. Donald Trump host his first meeting as President-elect, with a world leader sitting down in New York with Japan's Prime Minister. He says he wants to build trust with the next U.S. Commander-in-Chief.