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Trump On Romney: "We've Come A Long Way Together"; Trump Asked Obama For Cabinet Recommendations; Terry Branstad Accepts Ambassador To China Offer; Trump: "A Lot Of Angry People" If Mattis Denied Waiver; Dem Heavyweight Rahm Emanuel Just Met With Trump; Trump Falsely Claims 1,100 Carrier Jobs Saved. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 7, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:02] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is off today. The president-elect working to keep up the suspense around his most important cabinet pick, secretary of state. Donald Trump suggesting that the contest is still wide open. That an announcement may come next week.

Mitt Romney, who auditioned for the role, has been unusually public, is still in the running. This we all know from the man himself. Donald Trump revealed this after being named this morning as "Time" magazine's person of the year. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT (via telephone): Yes, he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he have a chance to become secretary of state?

TRUMP: Yes, he does. I mean, I have spoken to him a lot. We have come a long way together. We had some tremendous difficulty together and now I think we have come a long way, but the answer is yes, he does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this isn't about some case stringing him along as revenge being a dish best served cold for the comments he made during the campaign?

TRUMP: No. It's not about revenge. It's about what's good for the country.


BOLDUAN: Speaking to NBC there, of course, this morning. With that, let's get over to CNN's Jessica Schneider live outside Trump Tower. So Jessica, Trump insisting this morning that he is sincere and still considering Mitt Romney for secretary of state. What are you hearing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right, Kate. You know, Donald Trump saying he is not in fact stringing Mitt Romney along in these potentials here, but of course, you put that with the fact in the past few days, ever since Mitt Romney met with Donald Trump for that second sit-down at the restaurant just a few blocks from Trump Tower, there have been several additional names floated as potentials for secretary of state.

We heard a number of names over the past few days including former Utah governor, former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, as well as former General David Petraeus, and even the name Ron Tillerson, the Exxon CEO. Donald Trump even alluded to Tillerson this morning calling him a great man.

A lot of people saying that it's not a strong contender, Tillerson isn't, but that Donald Trump is intrigued by his world view. So all of these names floating out there. In fact, instead of tailoring this list of potential secretary of state picks, we've actually seen it expand over the past few days.

Donald Trump, though, saying that Mitt Romney and him have come a long way in their relationship, that Donald Trump has come a long way in how he respects Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney of course after their last meeting, sung Donald Trump's praises in a way saying that he admired his electoral victory.

So Mitt Romney still very much on the table. Donald Trump saying that he could make an announcement about secretary of state, that most intriguing position, perhaps next week -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Perhaps next week. Also during this interview, Donald Trump, this interview with NBC this morning, Donald Trump revealed that President Obama has in a way helped shape his cabinet. I found that fascinating.

SCHNEIDER: Right. It seems that they obviously met at the White House several weeks ago. They've talked since and Donald Trump has called it a good dialogue between him as the president-elect and President Obama, the current president. He says that President Obama has actually helped him weigh in on some potential picks. Take a listen.


TRUMP (via telephone): I have asked him what he would think of this one or that one. I have asked him what he thinks are the biggest problems of the country, what are some of the greatest assets going forward, and we have a very good dialogue. I take his recommendations very seriously and there are some people that I will be appointing and in one case, have appointed where he thought very highly of that person.


SCHNEIDER: So it's interesting, Donald Trump giving a little bit of insight there into his conversations with President Obama but the White House is not weighing in. They are not saying what the conversations were about or even who President Obama may have recommended to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump saying he actually did pick one of President Obama's suggestions. Kellyanne Conway saying that actually today, we could hear several more announcements. We do know that Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad has been offered and accepted the position of U.S. ambassador to China. He will be in Des Moines with President-elect Trump tomorrow so a lot more potential nominations or announcements happening in the next few days -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. Let the guessing game begin. I'm sure, as everyone will be guessing which one did President Obama recommended that Donald Trump pick. Great to see you, Jessica. Thank you so much.

Let's talk more now about Donald Trump's transition with Arkansas attorney general and Donald Trump supporter, Leslie Rutledge. Attorney General, thanks so much for being here. Great to have you in person.


BOLDUAN: Thank you. You have been a supporter of Donald Trump really from the very beginning. Mitt Romney has not, as you know, was not a supporter of Donald Trump. So what do you think of Mitt Romney as secretary of state?

RUTLEDGE: Well, that's a decision for President-elect Trump to make as to whether or not he chooses Governor Romney or the other many qualified candidates. What I do know and what I think the American public should know is that President-elect Trump is going to select the people best suited for the position, best for America and around the world.

[11:05:04]And that's what we have seen in every single decision that he has made as he's filling his cabinet, he's filling his cabinet with qualified individuals at an exponential speed that we have not seen before really.

BOLDUAN: He's really filling it up quite quickly now. Since he is in serious contention, do you think Mitt Romney would make a good secretary of state?

RUTLEDGE: Well, I think any of those individuals would make a fantastic secretary of state. Certainly what we have seen in the past several years, making certain that the United States is the world leader as we are, seen as a world leader and respected around the world, that the president-elects vision is carried out and perhaps the most important thing as he looks to who is going to be his secretary of state, is someone who will carry out his vision for America around the world.

BOLDUAN: You have been talked about --

RUTLEDGE: Not for secretary of state.

BOLDUAN: Not for secretary of state. I won't go there. But you are in consideration to be Donald Trump's EPA administrator. If offered, would you take the post? RUTLEDGE: I love being the attorney general of Arkansas. It is quite an honor to have my name in the mix. It is probably in the mix because of the strong stances I have taken against the current EPA and some of the rules such as the waters of the United States, the so- called clean power plant, number of things that this administration has done with regard to states' rights.

So that's probably why my name is in the mix and I have been a tremendous supporter of President-elect Trump from the beginning and have talked to people across Arkansas and across America and I was not the one who is surprised on election night.

BOLDUAN: So Donald Trump, this was a surprise, though, Donald Trump meeting with Al Gore last week, who is obviously a very well-known and very big climate change activist. During the campaign, we all very well remember Donald Trump tweeting that he believed climate change was a hoax that was created by the Chinese.

Since being elected attorney general, he has seemed to soften on that, kind of noting that there is some human connectivity in interviews with regard to climate change, since EPA is obviously something you are in consideration for, do you believe climate change is man-made or a hoax?

RUTLEDGE: Well, I perhaps have not had the sort of in-depth information that our president-elect has had and certainly have not spent the amount of time on it our former vice president, Al Gore, has. I know there are concerns about the issues.

We are all environmentalists. I know in my home state of Arkansas, I'm a land owner, my husband and I have a farm, so no one cares more about the environment than those of us who own land and depend on it for our livelihood.

I do think more that we can do to take care of the environment, take care of our precious earth is important. However, I do think we have to be -- lean on those scientist who are the experts in the area and not those who have a political agenda.

Perhaps that has been the problem over years is that we have individuals pushing a political agenda without the science to back it up. I think as we see in the court system that science is finally catching up to a number of issues and not just climate change.

BOLDUAN: Do you think as Donald Trump said most recently with the "New York Times" that he believed, his exact wording was I think there is some connectivity when asked if human activity is linked to climate change. Do you agree with Donald Trump on that one?

RUTLEDGE: Well, I think that everything that we do as humans impacts where we live and the environment we live in, to what extent it has --

BOLDUAN: It's a very important question.

RUTLEDGE: Sure. To what extent it has an impact and I think we have seen in this administration in particular an overreach and that's why we have these out of control regulations and why industry and jobs have been at a standstill. We are seeing those increases because getting regulations off the backs because people overreacted to something that science quite frankly has not backed up.

BOLDUAN: You don't think science backs up climate change?

RUTLEDGE: I don't know the specifics. I'm saying that overreach of the regulations is not backed up by the science.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this, one of the biggest employers in Arkansas is Walmart. Clearly a trade policy with China is very important to your state. Donald Trump has discussed pushing a 35 percent tax tariff on companies who ship jobs overseas when they want to bring their products back in. He's also discussed even a 45 percent tariff possibly on Chinese goods coming into the United States. Is that good for your state?

RUTLEDGE: Well, certainly Walmart is the largest retailer in the entire world. It is probably one of the largest companies in the state in terms of employers and I think that's something I'm going to lean on the individuals, the CEOs and business managers of those companies to give us the insight.

My job is to go after bad guys and to ensure that business has the opportunity to grow and expand, so we continue to meet with business leaders in the state, whether or not that sort of tariff would impact them negatively, I will leave that question up to the executives at Walmart.

BOLDUAN: It seems the Republicans on Capitol Hill aren't too happy about it or aren't signing on at least yet. So that might be some indication of what Walmart might feel about it. Attorney General, it's always great to see you. Thank you.

RUTLEDGE: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for joining me. I really appreciate it.

[11:10:09]All right, ahead for us, let us discuss much more about Donald Trump's transition and what we've already learned. CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is joining me now. CNN senior political reporter, Manu Raju, is here as well.

Guys, a lot to discuss. A lot this morning coming from Donald Trump himself, Dana, announcing, saying that we may have an announcement on his secretary of state pick next week. Also saying that he's been taking advice from President Obama on his picks in his cabinet. That was fascinating to me.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely fascinating. Look, we know that they have an open line of communication ever since the two of them sat down together two days after Donald Trump was elected president. It was pretty clear that from what he said that moment in the oval office, that the weight of the job was kind of -- he was getting it. And more importantly, he was also getting a very different perspective of the guy who he spent a lot of time railing against, the guy who he had never met and that of course is Barack Obama. The two of them could not be more different.

But from sources I have spoken to who are close to the president, they have said and it's been pretty obvious in public that he sees nothing more important than making sure the country is in good shape and to do that you have -- he feels that he has to try to advise the next president as much as he can.

The fact that Donald Trump says he is seeking that advice, taking that advice, look, I think it's something we should all applauding. You know, a lot of Democrats are saying he's normalizing the president- elect. You know what?

The country normalized Donald Trump. They elected him president. It is what it is. I think the fact that Barack Obama is trying to help him along is something that we should all take a lot of comfort in.

BOLDUAN: Any guess, Manu, on who that one pick is, the one cabinet pick that Barack Obama spoke so highly of?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It's a good question, Kate. He would not say so this morning himself. What's so interesting is the impact that Obama may be having on Donald Trump. You saw in that "Time" magazine interview this morning where he said he will work something out to help immigrants who are brought here as children illegally.

That' a lot different tone than he, of course, expressed, his very hard line tone on immigration during the campaign and similarly, of course, saying immediately after the election he wanted to keep the most popular provisions of Obamacare in the law just after the meeting with President Obama.

How much influence is Obama having on the president-elect, it's very significant. It shows that he can change if he gets advice from people that he respects and listens to.

BOLDUAN: Another announcement this morning, Dana, and you had it early on, Iowa's governor, Terry Branstad, has been named ambassador to China. Yes, an important post normally and with everything now going on with the call of Taiwan and the very hard line stance the president-elect has taken towards China so far, what kind of job does he face right now?

BASH: Well, it's so fascinating because this could be the classic good cop/bad cop scenario. The good cop in this situation would be Terry Branstad because he's governor of Iowa, the longest serving governor in the history of this country, but also somebody who happens to have apparently a close personal relationship with the president of China.

So when I say good cop/bad cop, he could be the good cop, actually in China trying to kind of work things back channel with the Chinese as Donald Trump does what Donald Trump does, like he did this week with a very tough stance against China. Obviously he did so on the campaign trail, but it's a different thing to do so as president-elect.

Never mind having that conversation with the leader of Taiwan which is a diplomatic no-no, but doubling down on it and going after China on Twitter about currency manipulation and trade manipulation and building islands in the South China Sea.

So I think that that is a fascinating pick for that reason and I think that for a lot of people kind of in the foreign policy world who are worried about what the ramifications are of Trump and his tough talk toward China might breathe a little more easily knowing that his pick for ambassador kind of has a real understanding of the Chinese.

BOLDUAN: Another thing that happened last night, Donald Trump brought General James Mattis onstage, his pick for defense secretary, Manu, and when he was -- when Trump talked about it, he said he's -- we have to stop for a minute.

We don't have time to play it. He has to talk about the waiver coming from Congress and if he doesn't get it there will be a lot of angry people, he's such a popular choice. After that you say it's never that easy when it comes to Congress.

[11:15:11]Dana, you very well know, there's now a bit of a fight brewing over even how this waiver is going to be considered. What is the latest here?

RAJU: Yes. That's right. You know, actually, Republicans are trying to move this very quickly to try to get this waiver enacted. Of course, the waiver being that within seven years of someone from the military retires, they can't serve in the top civilian position in the Defense Department.

They are trying to give that to General Mattis who retired from the Marine Corps just three years ago. The Republicans added language in a must-pass spending bill that has to pass Congress by the end of this week or the government will shut down.

That language would expedite consideration of that waiver next year. Now, that means that they would still have to vote to grant that waiver, both the House and the Senate, and Democrats would still be able to block it potentially because it would require 60 votes in the Senate in order to enact that waiver.

That means 52 Republicans will need to get eight Democrats to support them. Right now, Democrats are signaling they probably aren't going to put up much of a fight, but you never know how these confirmation battles play out. It could be used as a proxy war to battle other picks within Trump administration.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Real quick, Dana, Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, but probably more importantly for this conversation, former chief of staff to President Obama, meeting with Donald Trump right now. Your thoughts? BASH: Why not? You know, he met with the D.C. mayor a little bit different, since Donald Trump will be sort of a D.C. resident, but look, it's not a surprise. I think given the cast of characters who have walked through that lobby at Trump Tower and I think we should again, take heart in that.

We should also note that in this weird web of characters that are part of this scenario, Ari Emanuel, who is Rahm Emanuel's brother and he is a big Hollywood agent, is also somebody who has been talking to Donald Trump behind the scenes so you know, can't make it up.

BOLDUAN: We need a flow chart. Literally I'm going to get a punch board with string. It will be really pretty. Great to see you guys. Thanks so much.

All right, ahead for us, in the words of the Carrier union president, he quote, "lied his ass off." He's talking about the president-elect and the deal to save jobs in Indiana. Up next, one of the workers whose jobs was saved in that deal joins me to discuss.

Plus why a big party at the new Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. is causing a big problem for the president-elect. That's ahead.



BOLDUAN: Live pictures of Trump Tower right now. Another busy day for the Donald Trump transition. Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, actually was just meeting with Donald Trump and spoke with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower just moments ago after that meeting. The former chief of staff to President Obama says that he and the president-elect discussed a number of issues. Listen here.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: Second, we also discussed immigration. I delivered to the president-elect and his senior adviser and chief of staff a letter signed by 14 mayors put together from across the country about our DACA students and that they were working hard towards the American dream.

And all of us fundamentally believe that those are students, those are also people that want to join the armed forces. They gave their name, their address, their phone number, where they are. They are trying to achieve the American dream, no fault of their own their parents came here. They are something we should hold up and embrace.


BOLDUAN: Also this morning, President-elect Donald Trump again warning companies against any plans that they might have to move jobs outside of the United States. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT (via telephone): I believe in free trade, but I don't believe in stupid trade, and stupid trade is when our companies all move out of our country, fire their workers and then come back in, Matt, and sell their product back in with no retribution. I'm saying very simply if they want to fire their workers, move to Mexico or some other country and sell their product into our country, they will be paying a tax.


BOLDUAN: So of course, we now know Donald Trump claimed his first job-saving victory here, in Indianapolis, at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis last week, where he announced that he had saved more than 1,100 jobs. But the union leader there says that's not the case.

My next guest, TJ Bray, is a spokesman for the union in Carrier, representing Carrier workers there in Indianapolis. He's also one of the Carrier employees who gets to keep his job thanks to the deal with the president-elect. T.J., it's great to meet you. Thanks for coming in.

So last night, Donald Trump said it in front of you all at Carrier last week, just last night the president-elect talked about it again and talked about all the jobs that had been saved at the plant. For our viewers, listen to this.


TRUMP: We were very proud of saving 1,100 jobs in Indiana with the help of Mike Pence, vice president-elect, who is incredible. We are very proud of Mike Pence.


BOLDUAN: President-elect says it's 1,100 jobs. What is the latest, though, you are hearing in terms of the jobs saved at your plant?

TJ BRAY, JOB AT CARRIER SAVED BY TRUMP DEAL: Yes. You know, President-elect Trump came in and said it was 1,100 jobs. We find out, sat with the company the day before yesterday and find out it's actually only 750 actually union production jobs that will be staying so Trump kind of added in the 400 R&D and engineering jobs that were already slated to stay. We were kind of disappointed that we're losing 550 actual union jobs.

BOLDUAN: You shook his hand, before he even came on, you said that was pretty cool, you got to shake the president-elect's hand but disappointing, though, that the numbers are off.

BRAY: Right.

BOLDUAN: The union president said that the president-elect lied his ass off is how he put it, about how this deal is looking for the workers.

[11:25:11]BRAY: Right. BOLDUAN: Do you feed lied to?

BRAY: Well, in a way we do. I mean, we feel like, you know, we thought you were going to save all the jobs. I mean, we have 1,400 people at this facility, union, factory, regular jobs, and he didn't say anything about the 400 that were already going to stay. So you know, it kind of seems like it was a dog and pony show and we were happy that no doubt some jobs were saved, but disappointed we are still losing a lot of workers.

BOLDUAN: I think what is most important here is to hear your voice. We've heard from the president-elect a lot through the campaign talking about Carrier and the vice president-elect, but it seems to me as you sit here now, you seemed to be a little conflicted about the deal. Conflicted about how it all went down. How are you feeling?

BRAY: Lot of confusion. You know, we were also confused when he was talking about, you know, I wasn't really -- when I was talking about saving Carrier jobs, I wasn't talking about this facility. I was just talking about Carrier as a whole in the country.

We were like, yes, but you used Carrier as your platform for jobs. We literally thought you meant us. That's why a lot of us and myself and other leaders of the union, we called Trump out on it and said, you know, if you're going to run on this, use these workers as your platform, we will hold you accountable to it and that's what we did.

BOLDUAN: But the same time, you are very thankful you have your job staying, than 750, 800 people at Carrier will have their jobs where they didn't. That seems -- that's, you know, that's conflicting.

BRAY: Right. Like I said, I'm happy myself for the ones that are going to be able to stay, but I will be losing a lot of friends there. You got to be in their shoes. The president coming in saying jobs are being saved but these people, their jobs aren't being saved.

BOLDUAN: Did you support the president? Did you support Donald Trump in the election? I ask because I wonder if this experience has changed your opinion of the president-elect.

BRAY: No. I was not a big supporter of Trump. I didn't vote for him. I didn't know how to take the guy. I still don't know how to take the guy. Trust me, I give him all the respect for being able to make this deal happen because this is unprecedented to see this, and I'm happy that a lot of these jobs are staying.

And I'm hopeful that he continues the promises he's made of keeping American jobs here and threatening these companies that are wanting to leave. So that's all we can do is hope for the best that he follows through on the other promises he made.

BOLDUAN: When you talk about hope, you have your job now. How confident are you about your future?

BRAY: Well, as to Carrier, I'm definitely thankful I have my job for the future. You know, the details of the deal we don't know if Carrier decides to leave after Trump, if he's not re-elected, so you know, the company through UTC, our parent company, offers a program we go back to school, they reimburse you. We have other opportunities. I have currently been working with a company called "Working Nation." who kind of opened this discussion up about jobs and the future.

BOLDUAN: You're not banking on Carrier. You are looking for other avenues now?

BRAY: I'm going to go back to school. I'm going to take advantage of the employee scholar program. I will stay at Carrier and continue to go to work every day and do my job but, you know, at the same time, I want to get an education and have that in my back pocket in case Carrier decides to jump up and leave three, four years.

And then as Greg Hayes had an interview, the CEO of UTC a few days ago and Trump mentioned the $16 million investment in our facility in the future, and we found out that all that $16 million is going towards is automation which will cost jobs.

BOLDUAN: Which is a much bigger part of the conversation about where jobs are going in manufacturing industry, and bigger conversation we all need to be having in this country.

BRAY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: It's great to meet you, TJ. Thanks for coming in.

BRAY: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Good man from the good state of Indiana's. No, I am not biased because I'm from Indiana as well.

Coming up, a foreign government booking a Donald Trump Hotel ballroom for a party. Live pictures there of that hotel. Good business or a bad conflict? Details on the party raising serious ethical concerns in a second.