Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Filling Cabinet with CEOs and Generals; Trump May Keep Business Interests, Ivanka Might Leave Trump Org.; Manhunt Under Way in George for Police Killer. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 8, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Live pictures from inside the lobby of Trump Tower. Who will go up that elevator next?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Who will come down? I don't know. Just sounded appropriate.

BERMAN: Good point, though.

Donald Trump today meeting with retired four-star admiral, James Stavridis. Stavridis now apparently on that growing list of those being considered for secretary of state.

BOLDUAN: With us now to talk about it all, CNN political director, David Chalian; CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston; and national political reporter for "Politico," Eliana Johnson.

David, let's throw up the map. It's not a map. I just call it a map. Of who Trump picked so far for his cabinet. Scott Pruitt, some of the latest ones, Scott Pruitt for EPA, John Kelly for Homeland Security, Linda McMahon for the Small Business Administration.

What do we know, what does this all say about the cabinet that Trump is building right now?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, let's just also remark how quickly actually he's doing this. If you look historically, he's filling out this cabinet with some deliberate speed. And it's a little more ideological in nature on the conservative side than many would have expected from Donald Trump, who is really all things in his life has proven to be a pragmatist. But this in many respects looks like a playbook from the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, Mike Pence's world, if you will, and really starting to fill out with some real ideological conservatives in this cabinet, which you would expect in a Republican administration. But as we all know, Donald Trump has broken with conservatives, time and again. And I think even with his own cabinet choices here, you will find that in some policy areas, he doesn't quite align with every single thing they have said in the past on the issues they will now be overseeing if confirmed.

BERMAN: The Pentagon with Mnuchin and -- sorry, treasury with Mnuchin, the Pentagon with Mattis, not particularly ideological, and those are big jobs, too.

On that front, the EPA, Eliana, Scott Pruitt, this is a guy who I don't think wants the EPA, probably at all, or if he does, barely. How do you square the fact that Donald Trump picks him within 24 hours of meeting with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio? How do those things make sense together?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think Trump on the campaign trail marketed himself as somebody who was a deal maker, I think even as he picked somebody. And I would emphasize that Scott Pruitt is somebody who I think Republicans will cheer. Democrats are appalled but I think he's somebody Republicans far and wide really like and think highly of, and who Trump's blue collar, even union voters have chafed at the overregulation, what they consider overregulation from the EPA, which has hurt sort of small businesses. You saw even unions in Ohio endorsing Republicans because of this.

But Trump also wants to keep people like Al Gore on his side. He doesn't want to be bashed and criticized by them. I think it's a savvy strategic move by him.

BOLDUAN: Mark, one interesting thing I have been harping on all morning, Pruitt has a case pending in court against the EPA along with some other states right now. Can you sue yourself? What's going to happen when he takes over the EPA?

BERMAN: You can go blind if you do that.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: A couple of things, Kate. There's a list of how many times Pruitt has sued the EPA. It's at least eight times. He often loses. There are actually three cases to which he's a party to right now that are being under consideration right now where he's sued the EPA. One of them is just him directly, his state suing the EPA. The other two cases, he's a party to.

Look, he can take his name off the lawsuit and the case can move forward with whoever is his successor. But you have to wonder when you are talking about rules and regulations and what his plan is, I suspect a lot of these lawsuits might go away, because if they have the ability to stop overregulating in their eyes, then they are not going to have a need for these lawsuits. You are not going to have all these Republican state attorneys general trying to sue the EPA. This has really become a major political headache for environmentalists and really a nightmare for environmentalists. At the same time, the folks like Jim Inhofe and others, who are very conservative, who have been very much against the EPA, are certainly cheering this on.

[11:36:01] BERMAN: There's no doubt what Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump want to do.

It reminds me, David, of the China business. He has the phone call with the president of Taiwan, then nominates as ambassador to China, someone China loves. China loves Terry Branstad. Donald Trump, the president-elect showing again how he can work both sides of the same thing, looking more like a deal maker here.

CHALIAN: That's his trade, right? This is classic Trump, to push as far as you can so that when you actually sit down and get a deal, it is more to the liking of where you would like to be. But also, to make sure that as you are bringing people to the table that everybody has a little something to hang on to. So, China has Terry Branstad while he actually on twitter is saying let's get tough with China. At least they have something to hang on to, to get to the table.

I think this sort of good cop/bad cop Trump is playing himself on both sides --


BERMAN: He's both cops.

CHALIAN: Yeah, he's both cops. Both the good and the bad. Because that's what he has found successful in business.

BOLDUAN: Mark, the Carrier deal, last week. I remember when we were talking about this, you said, no matter what you say about it, this is a big political win for Donald Trump. But now the more we learn about the deal, the numbers are changing about how many jobs are saved, how many jobs are still going overseas and then this fight on twitter, is this becoming more of a nuanced political win?

PRESTON: Well, I will go back and still say it's a political win. 800 jobs were saved, whether it's because of Mike Pence eventually giving in, but to the point Donald Trump has taken a situation where it was a very big positive for him, he's turned it into a negative. He overexaggerated the number of jobs that were going to be saved. Even the local union boss said listen, he could have said 800 jobs were going to be saved but 300 extra people who are out of work. Then watching Donald Trump, watching Erin Burnett last night, and hearing what this local union official had to say, then has to tweet about it. So again, drawing attention where he doesn't need to draw attention to himself. He should take the win and try to move on. But I suspect that's not going to happen for the next four years.

BERMAN: Eliana, last word?

JOHNSON: I think for Trump, using the power of the bully pulpit now that he's president to personally attack individual American citizens -- you saw him do it during the campaign toward Republican fundraisers who were spending money against him. He did it to the Ricketts family, for example, who eventually supported him -- is very dangerous, and he's going to get a lot of pushback if he doesn't stop doing it once he's inaugurated. But it's something I think the American people don't like to see in their president. Obama got a lot of blowback for doing it with Skip Gates (ph) during an incident about the police.


JOHNSOLN: And all presidents learn when they realize how powerful their words are, you know, as president of the United States. BOLDUAN: We haven't seen it -- he hasn't seen it hurt him yet.

That's the bottom line.

Mark, David, Eliana, great to see you all. Thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, it's a wall Trump may not build after all. Not that one. But the one between the president-elect and his business empire. A new report says Trump may keep a stake in his companies. What does that look like and what does it really mean?

BERMAN: Plus, the frantic search for the killer of a police officer. A huge team of investigators now on the hunt for this man, accused of shooting a pair of Georgia officers, killing one. They say he's armed and very dangerous.


[11:43:52] BOLDUAN: Let's have a talk. Let's talk about the delicate relationship between Donald Trump, the president-elect, and Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman. "The New York Times" is reporting that Trump is thinking about handing the reins of his empire over to his two older sons, but here's the important part. He's also still planning, according to "The New York Times," to keep a stake in the business.

BERMAN: Wait, there's more. We are learning, daughter, Ivanka, might step away from the company and became an advocate for issues near and dear to her in Washington.

Trump Attorney Michael Cohen was asked about all this earlier. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I want to talk to you about what's going to happen with the business.

MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: I'd rather not talk about it at the moment. If that's all right. I know everybody is concentrating on what he's going to do with the business. They will find out on December 15th, I believe, he said he's going to make a statement. He's going to describe how business will be run in the future once he takes the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any truth to "The New York Times" story that he may keep a stake?

COHEN: I'm not going to comment on that. Again, Mr. Trump will talk about it on December 15th at his press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. Any word if Ivanka Trump is stepping away, possibly moving to D.C.?

COHEN: That's a question you should be asking of Ivanka, correct? UNIDENTIFIED REPROTER: OK, yeah.


[11:45:04] BERMAN: An attorney at heart, not wanting to go there.

Let's bring in our panel to discuss, CNN political commentator, Republican strategist, Alice Stewart; and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who supported Hillary Clinton during the campaign.

Alice Stewart, we will learn the details next week but "The New York Times" reporting Donald Trump intends to maintain, keep a stake in his business. That's not a blind trust. That is enough?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's the thing. Obviously, we will find out more next week. It's clear that he is going to focus first and foremost on the business of the nation, the people's business, not his. I take him at his word. I truly believe he will. He's taken the proper steps now to make sure there is a wall and --


BOLDUAN: Really?

STEWART: I think it's a good thing.

BOLDUAN: That's a wall?

STEWART: He's made it quite clear that -- first of all, he doesn't have to do this. It's not a matter of law. It's a matter of making sure there's not the appearance of anything untoward happening. But he's making steps to make sure that there's a distinction between him and his business.

BOLDUAN: That clearly is not good enough for you, Mayor. Why?

PHILIP LEVINE, (D), MIAMI BEACH MAYOR: Well, I got to tell you, Kate, I'm an entrepreneur, built my companies and became mayor. And I got to tell you, when you are the mayor, nothing compared to being president of the United States, it is a 24/7 job. You have to be focused on it. I kept my companies. They are completely separate. I'm actually not -- I have an executive team that runs it. I think Mayor Bloomberg had a really good model. Mayor Bloomberg put everything in a blind trust and it worked out wonderfully.

Listen, Donald Trump, the president-elect, needs to focus on the country. There's only one organization he really needs to run now and that's the United States of America. I trust, I hope he will do that.

But we elected, we, all of us, elected the new president as an international businessman. It wasn't like he said I'm not. He said that's who I am. He didn't think he was going to win. A lot of people didn't think he was going to win. You have to give him time to figure out what to do with his assets. It's pretty fast. Imagine unraveling your entire life from November until January? Let's give it time. Give him the benefit of the doubt. I think he will realize he needs to be the CEO of America.

BERMAN: What about his daughter, Alice? What about Ivanka? What does she need to do? What role is right for her to play in this administration?

STEWART: I think as we have seen throughout the campaign, she has been very involved, very hands-on. I have seen her at many events. She's very well-spoken and a great representative for him. And with her proposals she's already put forth about child care, she certainly wants to have a finger in the political side and, obviously, talk of her moving to D.C. I think she has -- would have a strong role in the administration. I think she would be very beneficial. So, whatever she decides to do, I think she's a great representative for him and she's very effective at getting things done.

BOLDUAN: Mayor, let's be honest, deep down, are you very much OK with Ivanka Trump having some kind of government role? Because you guys -- I think a lot of Democrats say they think she's way more liberal than her father is. The things she cares about, child care, child care issues, climate issues, something you care about.

LEVINE: That's a very good thing. Clearly, Ivanka has been a tremendous asset to the president-elect for most of her adult life. I think that we should welcome that. I think president-elect needs to figure out the great management team, have his sons involved, run the businesses.

Listen, we all know he knows what assets he has. If you put it in a blind trust, he knows what he's got, he knows what policies will affect positively or negatively his business organization.

One thing I learned as mayor, and the president-elect is going to learn quickly, is that everybody you meet in our country is a shareholder and also a customer. It's a very different type of organization to run. He will certainly see this very clearly.

STEWART: To his point about she's obviously a little more moderate than Donald Trump, I think others, especially Democrats, would welcome her coming to the table and having a little bit more moderate influence on policy and policy initiatives, because I think that would balance things out. I think her having a political role I think would be a good thing in terms of leveling the playing field.

BERMAN: Still, interesting to see the oversight that exists, if it exists, from Congress. That is something we have to watch.

Alice, Mayor, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Developing right now, there's a massive search for an accused killer under way. Police are saying this man shot two police officers in Georgia, killing one. Now he's armed, dangerous, and on the run, police say. Details on that man hunt straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:53:18] BERMAN: He is armed and he is on the run. His name is Minguelle Lembrick. He allegedly shot and killed a police officer in Georgia and injured another.

BOLDUAN: 20 agencies involved in a massive manhunt to find him.

Let's get straight over to CNN correspondent, Victor Blackwell, right now with more on this.

Victor, what are you hearing?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kate, let me show you ways happening now in Americus, Georgia. We got the tape here of a house surrounded, according to local affiliates there, where we've got, as you said, more than 20 agencies involved. You see the local sheriff's department there in Sumter County, Georgia. SWAT teams there surrounding this hour. They're reporting this is in connection with the search Minguelle Lembrick. They believe possibly he could be inside this house. We saw a lot of activity, SWAT team members running, in just the last few minutes.

Of course, this is in connection with the alleged shooting and killing of this officer by Minguelle Lembrick, 32 years old, said to be armed and dangerous.

Let me take you back to the beginning. It was just after 9:00 on Wednesday when we're told that Officer Nicholas Smar, with the Americus, Georgia, Police Department, about 100 miles south of Atlanta, and Officer Jody Smith, with the Georgia Southwestern State University Campus Department, showed up in relation to a domestic dispute call. They encountered Lembrick and shots were fired. Officer Smar was killed. We're told at last check, Officer Jody Smith, campus officer, is in critical condition. This was not on school property. This was not a campus apartment complex. But it was very close there. The school was shut down for a period. Finals ended yesterday. We know that local grade schools are open there with additional security.

But there have been a flood of tips coming in. We're told officers are searching for those. And if this does not end, what we saw today, this house being surrounded, if this does not end this search, we know the reward for information leading to Lembrick's arrest has been increased to $70,000, doubling overnight, and nearly doubling again this morning -- Kate, John?

[11:55:30] BERMAN: Again, we are seeing a lot of police activity around the House right now. Victor just reporting on that. So, we will keep our eye on that throughout the next several minutes to see if there's any more action. You can see that happening now.

Thank you.

BOLDUAN: There's a lot going on. We're going to follow this very closely. Victor, thank you.

Victor's got his eye on that as well. Keeping our eye on this manhunt along with you.

BERMAN: Coming up, is Donald Trump preparing for a fight over his business ties? There's a new report on Donald Trump's plans raising red flags over potential conflicts of interests. That's coming up.