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President-elect Causing Diplomatic Waves; Mexico's Ambassador to the U.S. Discusses U.S./Mexico Relations; New Details in Tennessee School Bus Crash; Headlines Continue from Trump/NYT Meeting. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 22, 2016 - 13:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:19] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Live pictures coming in. Details from an extraordinary meeting taking place in New York City now between Donald Trump and "The New York Times." He keeps calling the "New York Times" the failing "New York Times," but he's giving them an extensive interview today. Highlights on that interview coming in, for example, on his alleged business conflicts as president-elect of the United States. These are tweets coming in from Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times." Trump on his business conflict, quote, "The law is totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest." In another tweet, she just posted on prosecuting Hillary Clinton, "It would be very divisive for the country." And on global warming, he says, "I think there is some connectivity between humans and climate change." "Some connectivity," he says right there.
The president-elect certainly hasn't assumed office just yet, but he is already causing some diplomatic waves. The U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May rejected a Twitter suggestion from Trump on who should serve as the British ambassador to the United States.
And the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has forbad his ministers from directly contacting Trump advisers.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be meaningless without the United States. That, after Trump promised yesterday to pull out of the deal. That was a campaign commitment he made throughout.
The Argentine president said Trump's daughter, Ivanka, was on a phone call when he was speaking to the new president-elect.
Let's discuss all of this with our senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, who joins us from London.
Clarissa, how did Donald Trump upset the British prime minister with that one tweet?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's a storm in a teacup, as they say here in the United Kingdom. Essentially, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that, quote, "Many people would like to see Nigel Farage represent Great Britain as their ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job." Worth taking into account a controversial figure somewhat here in the U.K. He is one of leader of a populist group known as UKIP. Is one of the main faces of the Leave Europe or Brexit campaign. This tweet by the president-elect rebutted almost instantaneously by Number 10, with a rather tart response saying that, in fact, the U.K. appoints its own ambassadors, and that there was, quote, "no vacancy" because, of course, the post is currently occupied by Sir ken Derek. And then Nigel Farage responds with yet another tweet. Notice out this is all playing out on non-traditional new media, social media. Anyway, Nigel Farage tweets that, "Downing Street needs to accept that the world is changing." And he is in "a good position with the president-elect support to help."
Needless to say, Wolf, unprecedented or extremely rare to have the incoming leader of one country telling another leader who it should appoint as its ambassador. But I think given the depth and history and closeness and importance of the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K., it's particularly egregious and puts Prime Minister Theresa May in a slightly awkward position, given this is coming on the heels of Nigel Farage traveling to New York to meet with Donald Trump, the first British politician, so to speak, to actually sit down with the future president of the U.S.
And more broadly speaking, it really alludes to what is making so many international leaders just a little nervous, which is that there is a sort of unknown quantity when it comes to Donald Trump. Nobody yet knows exactly what kind of a president he's going to be, exactly what his policy will look like, but they do know that he is going to dispense with the traditional rule book. And that has them grappling to find their footing - Wolf?
BLITZER: It is pretty extraordinary to publicly announce who the, the president of the United States to announce who he would like to be the foreign ambassador coming to Washington.
Clarissa, why did the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forbid his cabinet ministers from talking to the Trump team?
WARD: This comes after some meetings that took place between Trump advisers and some Israeli ministers. including the education minister, Natalie Bennett (ph). I think there are several issues are in the background here. Of course, we've seen the public sort of spat if you will between Prime Minister Netanyahu after denouncing President-elect Donald Trump's comments about the potential Muslim ban and Donald Trump saying he would not go and visit Israel. Also, you have a very crucial time here between the U.S. And Israel. There could be potential changes to the Iran deal. There could be potential developments on the U.S. position on settlements. So, it's a crucial time. You also have chief strategist, Donald Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who is a controversial figure. He's been labeled as an anti-Semite by many.
[13:35:24] Actually, I think what the core issues is - and it speaks to what I just talked about before -- is that Donald Trump is doing business and carrying out politics in unusual ways. Meetings on the sideline with advisers. Essentially. recalibrating or formulating the U.S./Israeli relationship by not going through the traditional structures. By not going through the central avenues of power. Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to try to contain that, have ownership of this relationship, be in control of the messaging. And I think would like to see it happening in a more traditional way.
BLITZER: Clarissa Ward, thank you.
Clarissa was honored last week here in Washington by the International Center for Journalists for her very courageous reporting from inside Syria. Well-deserved honor, indeed.
Clarissa, on behalf of all of us, thanks for what you do. Appreciate it very mu.
WARD: Thank you.
BLITZER: And Donald Trump has also had a rather contentious relationship with Mexico. As he outlined his policy plan for his first 100 days, he included some proposals related to immigration. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've asked my transition team to develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one to restore our laws and bring back our jobs. It's about time.
On immigration, I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's discuss U.S./Mexico relations with Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Carlos Sada.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks for joining us.
CARLOS SADA, MEXICAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Wolf, nice to be here.
BLITZER: How is your government's relationship with the incoming president right now?
SADA: I would say, Wolf, that with any administration, throughout so many of decades, we forged a very solid relationship with the United States, whether Republicans or Democrats, it's the same. We are building bridges with the administration of the soon to be president of the United States.
BLITZER: Are you talking to people inside of the Trump transition team right now?
SADA: Yes. BLITZER: Have you had a conversation, for example, with Donald
SADA: Well, not with him directly. With some of his people, yes.
BLITZER: Who from the Mexican government? Contacted Mr. Trump?
SADA: The person, yes, contacted Mr. Trump. He gave a call. The very same day that he was elected, next day, and we will continue with this context throughout different areas of the administration.
BLITZER: We know they met a few months ago. All of us remember that meeting. Pretty extraordinary.
BLITZER: Are you convinced that Donald Trump, his new administration, willing to build this wall along the U.S./Mexico border?
SADA: As you know, we do not like walls. We like to build bridges and that's why Mexico is nowadays one of the most open economies in the world. That's what we're aiming at. A very close relationship with the new administration, with President-elect Trump to continue to strengthen the relationship with Mexico and the United States. You know, Wolf, a good, prosperous secure Mexico is in the best national interests of the United States. That's what we are doing.
BLITZER: He keeps saying the U.S. will build a wall, if these president, and he will now that he is the president of the United States, and Mexico will pay for that wall. You say --
SADA: We say that we are not going to pay for the wall, and that we would like the wall to be there. We would like --
BLITZER: How can you stop it?
SADA: We cannot stop it, but I think can send messages that have the relationship working so well, so many years and as you neighbor, friends. More importantly so, partners, and very important strategic ally of the United States. That is a conception that we want to develop.
BLITZER: And has the Mexican government officially informed Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, that Mexico will not pay for that wall?
SADA: Actually, if you recall that time that Mr. Trump went to Mexico, president of Mexico said, we are not going to pay for the wall.
BLITZER: Remained the same? SADA: Same position, keep repeating, Mexico will not pay for the
BLITZER: President-elect Trump said he would withdraw from NAFTA. Is that OK with you?
SADA: Actually, it was said we are ready to modernize NATFA, a better deal for everybody. Both the United States and Mexico. It's given up a lot of competitiveness against the rest of the worlds. Mexicans are not the enemy, partners and fighting against other blocs in the world. Not the one that is within our region.
BLITZER: In that "60 Minutes" interview, he granted shortly after he won the election, he says he's going to start deporting two million or three million undocumented people here in the United States, immigrants in the United States, immediately. The criminals. Those with records. Start sending them back. Are you, the Mexican government, ready to start accepting hundreds of thousands, millions of deportees from the United States into Mexico?
[13:40:24] SADA: Well, I'm glad you asked that, because it important to know the figures. People say there is 12 million undocumented people in the United States. But only half of them are from Mexico.
BLITZER: Say there are six million undocumented immigrants from Mexico --
BLITZER: -- and say he immediately wants to send back a million of them. Are you ready to accept those million people?
SADA: I do not want to anticipate what will happen but I can tell you we are ready to go to the different cases of people deported, no whom they are. From Mexico. Throughout the years, the situation has been very collaborative between the two nations. We have a very close relationship with security, people that handle that, and handle it case by case. It important for everybody to understand that we are here to help, to protect the interests of the Mexicans and to apply the different pros calls that exist in national security.
BLITZER: I assume all Mexicans deported in a Trump administration will be welcomed back? Some say we don't want these people, you have to keep them.
SADA: We've always accepted Mexicans. Always accepted because they are Mexican nationality. We have to make sure they are of Mexican descent.
BLITZER: How worried are you about all this?
SADA: Working with differ administration in different periods and ready to face whatever that cos. That throughout the next days we are going to be learning more in detail what is going to happen.
BLITZER: Carlos Sada, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. You have a tough job, Mr. Ambassador. Thanks very much for coming in.
SADA: We are friends. Thanks so much.
BLITZER: The U.S. and Mexico are, indeed, good friends. The U.S. and Canada good friends, too. The United States is blessed with good friends to the south and to the north.
SADA: Exactly my point.
Thank you, Wolf. Appreciate it.
BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back with much more news.
[13:46:27] BLITZER: New details emerging from the investigation into that horrific bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At least five children killed when the school bus ran off the road and hit a tree. Police arrested the bus driver charges him with vehicular homicide.
CNN's Martin Savidge joining us now from Chattanooga, a city in mourning.
Martin, dispatch tapes released. What are we learning?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CDNN CORRESPONDENT: They're begun to give you a sense of horrific imagery they found when they came across the scene. Of course, they knew it was a school bus accident but you don't know how bad in you're there. Listen to what they found.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
DISPATCHER: I have an MVC with a school bus. The bus is flipped over, occupied with children. It's going to be an MVC involving a school bus flipped over with children. They believe there are ejections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can see an arm moving but I don't know if anybody can get to it.
(END AUDIO FEED)
SAVIDGE: So you hear the description of ejections, children being thrown from the bus, and then that last call where you hear the description of an arm waving out of the bus and authorities aren't sure how they'll get to them.
It took firefighters hours to eventually free all the children from inside the wreckage. The shock in this community is twofold. One, of course, the deaths of five children. And now you have 12 that are still trying to recover in hospital here.
And the real question is what was the bus driver doing? Why did this happen? High rate of speed appears to be the culprit. Those who saw it and actually measured the marks of that bus getting across the ground. A clear indication this driver was exceeding, at least in the minds of authorities, well beyond the 30 mile-per-hour posted limit. Why? That's still to be determined. Locally and federal authorities now aiding in that investigation -- Wolf?
BLITZER: A horrific story.
Thank you, Martin Savidge. We'll check back with you for updates.
We're continuing to following developments coming out of "The New York Times" meeting under way right now with Donald Trump. And moments ago, the president-elect telling the "Times," according to Maggie Haberman's tweet, quote, "Paul Ryan right now loves me. Mitch McConnell loves me," Trump says. And then he says, quote, "I've liked Chuck Schumer" -- incoming Democrat in the Senate -- "for a long time."
Much more after a quick break.
[13:53:02] BLITZER: We're continuing to get headlines coming out of Donald Trump's extraordinary meeting under way right now with the "New York Times," thanks to Maggie Haberman, a reporter there. When asked about Steve Bannon, he said, "If I thought he was a racist or Alt- Right or any of those things, the terms we could use, I wouldn't even think about hiring him." The president-elect also said he won't go ahead and prosecute Hillary Clinton, explaining, "I think it would be very divisive for the country."
Let's talk more about this with former Democratic Congressman Steve Israel.
Congressman, first of all your, reaction from these tweets coming in from Maggie Haberman from the "New York Times," the latest thoughts from the president-elect.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL, (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think we're going to be looking at a bipolar presidency. Donald Trump's challenge is if he doubles down on his craziness on talking about building walls and excluding Muslims and bombing Syria, he loses more moderate voters. If he moves to the center, he loses his base, which is why you see tweets that contradict themselves and policies that contradict themselves. and we're looking at more of that in the days, weeks, months ahead.
BLITZER: But you're happy when he says he has no plans to go ahead and prosecute Hillary Clinton, despite the chanting going on during the campaign, "Lock her up." I assume that's welcome news to you.
ISRAEL: Well, of course, it's welcome news it's welcome news to the country. We want a president and Congress focusing on building infrastructure, strengthening paychecks, reducing college costs, and not having oversight hearings and criminal investigations of everybody that Donald Trump may not like. So, yes, it's welcome news. But it comes with a cost to Donald Trump. When he begins to cut
back not towards the center but to sanity, he loses that portion of his base that thought that he was going to, as his first order of business on inauguration day, announce the prosecution of Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: Another headline with the meeting from "The New York Times," Trump saying he thinks there is some connectivity between humans and climate change. That's a significant statement on the part of Donald Trump because during the campaign he seemed to ridicule climate change.
[13:55:18] ISRAEL: It is, Wolf. It is significant that he's joining 99.9 percent of scientists who recognize that there is some human connectivity to climate change. But, you know, policy cannot just be postulated in a tweet. It's got to be postulated by who you appoint to the EPA, who you appoint as secretary of energy, by what your policy priorities are. It is welcoming that he now has a tweet that says, well, there may be a connection, the real test is who is he appointing and what will his policies be and we will see about that in the course of the near future.
BLITZER: Senator Bernie Sanders holding the president-elect accountable. He's calling the infrastructure plan put forward -- and I'm quoting him now -- he says, "It's a scam." Do you think the Democrats -- and I know you're leaving the House of Representatives -- will find some common ground with the new president?
ISRAEL: This is one area of common ground that believe we can reach. There are Democrats and Republicans and may I add a critical mass of Democrats and Republicans in the House who want to find a way not only to build infrastructure but to finance it. And I think the American people want to see some progress on at least one issue. This is an issue where we can agree. We cannot agree with Donald Trump and Paul Ryan's ideological obsession to privatize Medicare. So, we'll fight them on privatizing Medicare, but if we can join them in some sensible investments in infrastructure, I think we should.
BLITZER: Congressman Steve Israel, thanks very much joining us, and happy Thanksgiving.
ISRAEL: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanksgiving, by the way, just two days away. Many families are still split over a deep political divide. Ellen DeGeneres has one very brilliant idea on keeping the post-election peace at your holiday dinner table. Watch this.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, he should build the wall. They're coming across like a million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's nowhere near a million.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary should be in president.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't you tell everybody who you voted for in the election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for Gary Johnson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, god!
BLITZER: All right, everybody, everybody, quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still with her. BLITZER: Excuse me. Excuse me, everybody quiet. Quiet.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: I have a feeling I'm going to be very busy.
Much more, by the way, on the Ellen DeGeneres, which airs this afternoon on NBC.
And a happy Thanksgiving to all of our viewers out there.
Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."
Until then, the news continues right here on CNN.
[13:59:58] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
A big day for America's president-elect because, moments ago, Mr. Trump made news on a variety of topics, everything from Hillary Clinton to climate change and the white supremacists seen in a new video cheering him on.