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U.S. Hits Russia with Sanctions Over Hacking; Trump Praises "Great Move" By "Very Smart Putin"; Trump Takes Credit for Economic Uptick; Obama "Confident" He Could Have Won Again. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 1, 2017 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:09] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN GUEST HOST (voice-over): 2016 goes out with a bang. The president makes a controversial claim that sets off his successor.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.

HENDERSON: Could Obama have taken down Trump?

Trump says that question will stay unanswered.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: He called me. We had a very, very good talk generally about things. We talked about it and smiled about it, and nobody's ever going to know.

HENDERSON: And the Obama administration isn't leaving 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue quietly, including a hard-line with an old ally.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Here is a fundamental reality. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both.

HENDERSON: And payback for Vladimir Putin's election year meddling, but will a President Trump reverse all of Obama's December decisions?

INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS on the first day of the New Year. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson, sitting in for John King.

Who could have predicted we would begin 2017 with a throw back to the Cold War or President-elect Trump praising a great move by a very smart Vladimir Putin. It all started when President Obama hit Russia with sanctions in what the U.S. government calls cyber attacks and meddling in the presidential election. On Thursday, the U.S. ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country, demanded the Russians close two compounds and sanctioned Russian spy agencies, individuals and companies the U.S. government says were involved in the hacking.

In a statement, President Obama also said that his administration will do more and all of those puts punishments might be made public. But that's only the beginning of the saga.

Here to share their reporting and their insights: Matt Viser of "The Boston Globe", "The Daily Beast's" Jackie Kucinich, NPR's Domenico Montanaro, and Karen Tumulty of "The Washington Post."

President Obama's move to punish Russia for meddling in the election aren't only a two-sentence written statement from President-elect Donald Trump. "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

Trump made similar comments the day before sanctions were announced.


TRUMP: I think we have to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated our lives very greatly. The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on. We have speed. We have a lot of other things. But I'm not sure we have the kind of security you need.


HENDERSON: Karen, remarkable to see an incoming Republican president seeming to reluctantly want to have an intelligence briefing in seeming so far to say there's nothing to see here when it comes to Russia and Putin. How did we get here?

KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, he talks about moving on to bigger and better things. I don't know how you get much bigger than this. This is a new form of warfare.

It is something -- how did we get here? One question is why we haven't gotten here sooner. This is something that's been going on for at least nine years since Russia hacked Estonia. It is sort of where things were headed and I think it's going to be a major geopolitical issue going forward.

Now, Donald Trump deciding after these sanctions that he's going to hear from intelligence community is significant in two ways. It's possible that this will give him a way to sort of recalibrate on this, to say he has new information to sort of quit pooh-poohing the intelligence. The other thing is it could be a reset with his relationship with the intelligence community which he has also been sort of dismissing.

HENDERSON: Right. And if there's any doubt about how he feels about Putin, at least, he tweeted on Friday, Trump did, "Great move on delay by Vladimir Putin. I always knew he was very smart." Because, of course, Putin, the expectation was that Putin would respond in kind, maybe eject some U.S. diplomats. He didn't do that.

Matt, what's your sense of how long Trump's stance towards Putin, some might call it a bromance, how long can he maintain that?

MATT VISER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: It's hard to tell. And I do think we're setting up for a clash very early in President Trump's administration with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, people on the Hill ready to challenge Trump on some of his rhetoric on Russia.

[08:05:11] So, I think that they are setting that up as a test of powers, really. Within the Republican Party, too.

The other thing going back to his intelligence briefings, is that he has been briefed on these things, you know, for a while. He's had the opportunity to be briefed even more. And he -- the way that his statement came across, it was as if he was doing us a favor by taking those briefings when it's an obligation of the president to take those briefings. So, I think that's another thing that he'll be challenged more with in his respect of the intelligence community.

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it's not even going to wait until he's inaugurated. John McCain this week has a hearing that is going to begin looking into this. Rex Tillerson is going to have his confirmation hearings. And you know one of the first questions he's going to get is about this issue of hacking and because he has such a close relationship with Vladimir Putin.

So, before Trump even takes the oath of office, there's going to be a debate within his own party and this isn't a partisan issue. Let's make that clear. But in terms of what he's saying and what you heard Republicans saying last week, saying that there were too few sanctions, too little, too late.

HENDERSON: That's what Paul Ryan said.

KUCINICH: Yes, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, most Republicans who were hawks were saying that. So, they are talking past each other and at some point, they are going to have to meet.

HENDERSON: And Lindsey Graham, he has been very much out front, John McCain as well. Here's what Graham had to say.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Ninety-nine of us believe the Russians did this. We're going to have hearings and we're going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual, and his inner circle, for interfering in our elections. And they're doing it all over the world, not just the United States.


HENDERSON: Domenico, it will be hard for Trump to maintain this idea that this is a partisan witch-hunt, if you will, that is what he's said, that's what some of his aides has said when it's Republicans who are leading the charge and certainly Democrats are going to join.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, NPR: Yes. First of all, I love the phone behind Lindsey Graham. It was amazing.

But, you know, I do think, though, the idea that the Trump transition team goes to politics first -- you know, I heard Kellyanne Conway earlier this week say that it was politics -- you know, she's hoping it's not politics from President Obama but has seen that before.

You know, there are ways to win elections and there are elections, but there are also things that are facts. And as Matt was talking about with President-elect Trump, being able to take daily intelligence briefings and kind of setting those aside, saying they are repetitive and now saying he'll meet with them to be updated on facts. You know, there are only two people right now who could push back against the intelligence community and say open up the documents, show me everything you got.

If you're skeptical between Donald Trump and Barack Obama the only two people who could do that right now and passing up that opportunity seems strange.

HENDERSON: Yes, and one of the things we also saw this week in terms of the contrast between this administration and the incoming administration, on foreign policy, was on Israel and John Kerry the outgoing secretary of state commented on two state solution. Here's what he had to say.


KERRY: Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths and friendships require mutual respect.


HENDERSON: Matt, you have covered John Kerry. Why did he give this speech? Some people saw it as in some ways a eulogy for the two-state solution and also about his legacy as well, John Kerry's legacy.

VISER: Yes, I interviewed him two weeks ago and it was very clear even then that this was very much on his mind, exiting the administration, sort of seeing tends of his career really in office.

And I think what led him here feeling the two state solution was slipping away and they wanted to do something to put this back on the agenda and he got ridiculed bipartisan, you know, in terms of in Congress. But talking to the State Department this past week, they do feel comfortable they put this back on the radar where Israel and its settlement policy is very much in the news. In Israel, there's a fierce debate going on right now and internationally there is.

So they are about to give up the reign reins of the State Department and Rex Tillerson if he's confirmed will go in a different direction with Israel, but they've set it up.

TUMULTY: And they certainly signaled that Trump's nominee for ambassador to Israel is very pro-settlement.

HENDERSON: David Friedman.

TUMULTY: It is. Yes, I think the word, a real kind of hinge point of U.S.-Israeli relations and also of U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process, and that speech is the hint.

[08:10:10] MONTANARO: Yes. I mean, maybe you wouldn't have seen as strong a comment from Secretary Kerry if Hillary Clinton had won election, let's say, because you have such a stark difference as Karen is pointing out in policy between what Barack Obama has done and what Donald Trump wants to do as far as a two state solution or Mideast peace that I think the Obama administration and people like John Kerry want to point out this has been fairly consistent 40 years of policy to say that they are against settlement expansion, you don't want to -- and that Jerusalem should be, you know, is up for some negotiation for who runs which parts.

You know, I think the Obama administration wants to put a stamp on that and go out legacy-wise to say, you know, this is breaking with U.S. precedent over the last 40 years.

KUCINICH: But you have to say, I mean, you know John Kerry better than I do, but this also was very personal speech. This was a very emotional speech for John Kerry. So, as much as it was a legacy play, this also was Kerry's legacy in a speech he wouldn't have had to give had Hillary Clinton won and if I'm remembering correctly, he wanted to give this speech earlier and they said no, no, they put it off because they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.

So, you're kind of seeing this in real-time calibration from the Obama administration because trying to rush and hurry to get everything done that they thought would be golden.

HENDERSON: You'll see, Matt, like in Congress some efforts to undo Trump's -- Obama's legacy even on this U.N. resolution, right? Congress stepping forward to maybe slap this down and sort of say that they don't agree with this U.N. sanctioning or U.N. vote on Israel.

VISER: Yes. I think that's very much in play. Funding for U.N. and things like that are already sort of under threat.

To Jackie's point, I do think there was a personal aspect about this for John Kerry. He spent the first year in office as secretary of state trying to get these two parties together, you know, Don Quixote- like, to his critics.


VISER: You know, just chasing the windmills. But he put a lot on the line to try and get them together. And the last couple of weeks, he's talked a lot about diplomatic, the ripeness of diplomacy and he was very frustrated that the conditions were there, that he felt like to give these parties to talk but he couldn't force them to come to the table.

HENDERSON: Jackie, Trump has talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resolving it and it would be his ultimate deal, if he was able to do that. What would that look like? Do we know?

KUCINICH: No. It wasn't too long ago he said he was neutral in the dispute which obviously can you not be, particularly when you're a world leader. I don't think we know that. I don't think we know that yet. A lot depends on his ambassador.

But what his ambassador is supporting right now sort of negates -- if he decides to support settlements, if they move the embassy to Jerusalem, this is going to be a nonstarter on the other side. So, we'll have to see. There are a lot of open questions on what his policies will be because he didn't start with any. It was sort of went along -- kind of made it up as he went along.

HENDERSON: Up next, Trump's economic mantra. I did that. The good news the president-elect says belongs to him and why he claims there's much more to come.

But first, a "politician say the darndest thing" flashback. When then candidate Trump met toddler Trump.


TRUMP: What's your name?


TRUMP: Now, he's supposed to look like Donald Trump but he's actually much too good looking. You are really handsome.

Where's your daddy? And your mommy, right?

You want to go back. Do you want to go back to them or do you want to stay with Donald Trump?




HENDERSON: President-elect Donald Trump hasn't even taken office yet, but he claims the country can already see and feel what some of his aides have called the Trump effect on the economy.

There was this tweet Monday, "The world was gloomy before I won. There was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars."

And then this on Tuesday, "The U.S. consumer confidence index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, the highest level in more than 15 years. Thanks, Donald."

On Wednesday, the president-elect announced he was personally responsible for bringing 5,000 jobs back to the U.S.


TRUMP: I was just called by the head people at sprint and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States. They're taking them from other countries. They are bringing them back to the United States.

And also, OneWeb, a new company, is going to be hiring 3,000 people. So, that's very exciting.


HENDERSON: So, Karen, if you look beneath the headlines and beneath what he's saying there in that press conference, this was a deal that was made in October. It really doesn't have anything to do with Trump.

TUMULTY: He had already announced -- it was basically based on a Japanese bank's financing that he had already taken credit for once. He was double counting.

HENDERSON: But it seems to be good for the companies to get these kinds of headlines and certainly good for Donald Trump even if it's not quite true.

TUMULTY: What it really speaks to is he's promised change. He's promised progress. He's going to be under a lot of pressure to produce it in very tangible ways. It's going to be his effort and I think we're going to see this every day, him getting up and sort of pointing to something tangible, however small, however, you know, tangential to whatever he's doing.

And just to sort of give people the sense that things are changing, that they are moving in a way that these big broad economic statistics as Barack Obama learned the hard way don't.

HENDERSON: Don't really tell the story and Obama was never very good at selling even when there was relatively good economic news he would sort of say there's still more work to be done.

MONTANARO: I mean, this approach makes a lot of sense from a brand marketing standpoint. Like we were talking about, when Barack Obama took office, you know, they pointed to a lot of economic statistics to say how things have improved or changed. People don't really feel or get that. They understand Carrier because they might have heating or air conditioning unit or they understand a bank name because they might be there or not.

So, that's what Trump is trying to do.

[08:20:00] It's incumbent on us to look below the surface, make sure that those things that add up whether or not they go to real statistics and do wind up going to make real improvements. I think it's important to have a set of benchmarks from 2009 when Barack Obama took office to 2017 when Donald Trump takes office and maintain some consistency for comparative sake.

HENDERSON: And what kind of bench marks, Jackie, for Trump should we be looking at. He doesn't come in promising a certain number of jobs. He's only said that he would be the best job creator that God ever created I think is what he said. He's talked about growth as well, promising maybe as high as 6 percent growth.

I mean, what are the metrics here?

KUCINICH: I mean, I think checking the facts carefully, it's going to be very important. You mentioned Carrier. He was inflating the numbers of Carrier and we know that because I spoke to a worker who said that's not the number that's coming.

So, that's going to be critical. But in terms of benchmarks and he's talked about manufacturing, manufacturing coming back. He's talked about infrastructure. He's going to need Congress' help with that.

HENDERSON: Bringing the coal industry back as well.

KUCINICH: Yes, bringing the coal industry back, exactly. You can look at the industries that he's spot-lighted which a lot of this is gone because of globalization.


KUCINICH: But again, we've been wrong in the past. Maybe he can do it.

TUMULTY: By the way, beyond globalization, which he has spent a lot of time blaming that on trade, the real reason that a lot -- the majority of manufacturing jobs that have been lost have been lost to automation.


VISER: Productivity has gone up --

HENDERSON: Which is difficult to reverse.

KUCINICH: But also some of the trade policies that he's talked about could actually hurt some of his goals. Things like auto parts. They're not manufactured in the United States. American cars -- American cars are put together here, but the parts come from somewhere else. He could be shooting himself in the foot with some of these other policies he's talking about implementing.

So, he's going to have to find a balance.

HENDERSON: One of the things he's talking about and he Instagramed this on Thursday, kind of a slogan, I guess. He said, "My administration will follow two simple rules, buy American and hire American."

Matt, what do we think that actually looks like in terms of a policy? Is it about, you know, he only has American products in the White House or in these different agencies, American TVs, whatever it is?

VISER: He won't have Ivanka Trump's products in the White House. His own things are made overseas. As a businessman, he made decisions and his daughter whose businesses are successful by some standards have, you know, relied on overseas manufacturing, overseas labor to make those products.

So, I think, you know, he's talked about Apple, for example. Apple has huge manufacturing facilities in China, you know? And does he penalize Apple somehow and force them, to you know, levy some tariffs.

TUMULTY: Some of his businesses, I believe it was his vineyards, that filed for permits to bring foreign workers here.

MONTANARO: And hire American, buy American both sound like great slogans but how does he deliver on that. That's what we're talking about. And that I think is something that you have to, you know, hold him to account for. How do you bring those jobs back that you're suddenly promising and how do you get people then to hire folks.

You know, is it non-union labor, for example? That's one thing that Democrats have been worried about when you watch the increase in car manufacturing, for example in a place like Alabama.

HENDERSON: Right. And one of the things we're also waiting for him to talk about is his businesses, how he's going to extricate himself from those businesses and be more transparent. Here's what he had to say.


TRUMP: It's not a big deal. You people are making it a big deal, the business, because -- look, number one, when I won they all knew I had a big business all over the place. In fact, I reported it with the, as you know, with the federal elections. It's a much bigger business than anybody thought. It's a great business. But I'm going to have nothing to do with it. I don't have to. Because, as you know, I wouldn't have to do that bylaw but I do want to do that because I want to focus on the country.


HENDERSON: Jackie, what's the hold up in terms of this press conference? It was promised I think December 15th and then his aides said, oh, it was complicated. Even though in that clip he said it's simple.

What's your sense? What's the hold up? When might we hear from him on this?

KUCINICH: You know, what Sean Spicer has said is they want to make sure all the I's are dotted and T's are crossed. This is complicated. Hopefully, they will have a press conference. I mean, there's a lot of questions.

HENDERSON: And he hasn't had a press conference. KUCINICH: Yeah.

He's taken questions, but that's very different than a formal press conference.

HENDERSON: Up next, a presidential spat. President Obama says if it came down to him and Trump, he'd win. What the president-elect had to say about that right after the break.



[04:28:23] TRUMP: He called me. We had a very, very talk about -- generally about things. He was in Hawaii, and it was a very, very nice call. And I actually thought we covered a lot of territory.


HENDERSON: That was the president-elect Wednesday night talking about his brief chat with President Obama. But it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies between these two. It all started with this on Monday.


OBAMA: I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it. I know that in conversations that I've had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.


HENDERSON: What's Obama really saying there? If he ran against Trump, he thinks he would have won. It's not every day that a sitting president, Matt, makes a comment like that. This was essentially trash-talking, right? Some people say it wasn't necessary, it was sort of professorial shade, but shade nonetheless.


VISER: It's a lot of what Obama -- when he throws shade, it's professorial. But, yeah, I mean, I think it is largely academic. But for Obama, it's about his legacy. He does not want this election to be seen as a repudiation of him and his last eight years. He sort of subtly wants it to be seen as a repudiation of Hillary Clinton and the campaign that she ran.

TUMULTY: That wasn't subtle.



[08:30:01] VISER: So, I mean, I think that that is where we're seeing a lot of the trash-talking. And it's striking really the way that, you know, Trump seems to be undermining Obama a lot or trying to from the sidelines. And you wonder whether in a couple months, whether it's going to be role reversals, where Obama is going to be on the sidelines trying to undermine Donald Trump once he takes the oath of office.

HENDERSON: And Trump did not take too kindly to this. He tweeted out, "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition. NOT!"

In some ways, Karen, this is like a reversion to form.

TUMULTY: I know.

HENDERSON: I mean, these folks didn't like each other initially. Then they sort of were friends. And then -- so what's your sense?

TUMULTY: Well, if that was the best he could do at disregarding, it's not very good. And I think it's a preview of what lies ahead. I mean, Donald Trump always is reacting to what is the last thing that was said about Donald Trump.

But Barack Obama seems to have a pretty good talent for getting under his skin. And it would be a very unusual role for an ex-president to play. They usually kind of just fade off. But given that the Democratic Party is sort of leaderless at this point, this may be the preview of a buddy movie not.

HENDERSON: But Obama did seem to know, right, that if he just called Trump and maybe said, "Bruh, chill out," or whatever he may have said, and this is what Trump had to say about that phone call.


TRUMP: Our staffs have been getting along very well, and I'm getting along very well with him, other than a couple of statements that I responded to, and we talked about it, and smiled about it, and nobody is ever going to know because we are never going to be going against each other in that way. So, but he was -- it was a great conversation.


HENDERSON: Domenico, where are things now between these two?

MONTANARO: This is a very delicate thing for President Obama to try to figure out. I mean, he knows that he is probably best, you know, used if he can get in Donald Trump's ear. So you know that if you -- as Karen said -- you know, nice to him and -- to say something complimentary as the last thing that he's heard, then he's more likely to take your call.

At the same time, Donald Trump really doesn't like kind of wusses, right? He doesn't like people who just sort of always are kissing his butt, so to speak, you know, getting him food and just bowing down. He likes people who can sort of mix it up a little bit. You saw that, you know, a little bit of the twinkle in his eye there, a little bit of a smile when he said, you know, other than a couple of statements here and there.

So, I think it's an interesting line to walk. As long as it doesn't get too personal, I think President Obama, you know, is trying to figure out a way to show that he's --


HENDERSON: But -- but, Jackie, this is personal, right? I mean, because here is Donald Trump who ran as the anti-Obama and is poised to roll back much of what Obama has been able to do.

KUCINICH: Of course, it's personal. But this quickly becomes not about President Obama and how Trump reacts to other people, to world leaders that might not like him, to members of Congress who don't like him. How he reacts to them and how he just sort of like takes a punch and moves on, this could be a major distraction during his administration if he doesn't kind of get a handle on this need to punch back for every single thing, because this could cause an international incident.



KUCINICH: It's not -- it's not out of the realm of possibility.

HENDERSON: And they've gone back and forth, Trump and Obama, in terms of this relationship, enemies, sort of friends, and then frenemies. And this was -- this was sort of a snippet of what this relationship has been like.


TRUMP: Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.

President Obama, who, by the way, I've gotten along with so well --


No, no, no, he's really doing great. He's been so nice.


OBAMA: I haven't shared previously private conversations I've had with the president-elect. I will say that they have been cordial. Regardless of our obvious deep disagreements about policy, maybe I can transmit some thoughts about maintaining the effectiveness, integrity, cohesion of the office.


HENDERSON: And Matt, that, of course, was all post-election. Where do you see this going? Obama seems to, again, see himself as something of a Trump whisperer, but also seems to be -- Trump at least seems to be a little bit antagonized by Obama's move to cement his legacy on any number of things, whether it's banning some drilling, whether it's rolling back some of the infrastructure in place where you could track mostly Muslim and Arab men.

[08:35:04] Where do we see this going?

VISER: I mean, it is interesting. What Trump -- there's not like a strong ideological core to him. And so you --

HENDERSON: Which is what Obama, said, right, that he's a pragmatist.

VISER: And so you see from all sides people believing that they can influence Trump. And I think Obama is one of those people who believes -- put him in a room with somebody for 30 minutes and he'll convince him to their side.

So I think you see that aspect of President Obama believing that he can influence President-elect Trump on the merits of his health care plan, you know, or trying to win him over, which -- you know, I'd have no -- Trump is so unpredictable. You don't know that. But I think that that's what leads President Obama to both trying to have a relatively seamless transition, but also try and convince him, you know, to keep intact as much of his policy prescriptions as he can.

HENDERSON: And, Jackie, we'll see Obama go into the Hill, meet with Democrats about Obamacare on Thursday.

KUCINICH: I do wonder what kind of reception he's going to get, because he is someone who hasn't really made Congress a priority. He hasn't really fostered --

HENDERSON: Or the party --


KUCINICH: -- over his last eight years. And just at the end there does he start kicking in and, you know, trying to get -- trying to make up, I guess, for lost time, so that'll be really interesting. In addition to him trying to save Obamacare, it'll be interesting to see how Democrats in that room receive a man who led them the last eight years, or kind of, in a lot of ways, hung them out to dry.


And what are you looking for, Domenico, in terms of those meetings that Trump -- that Obama will have? And in terms of, are we going to see more moves for him trying to secure his legacy on any number of items?

MONTANARO: You know, Democrats have a real choice to make on where they stand in the way and try to with Republicans -- or try to work with them. So, you know, you might expect the president to try to pick out some areas that are really important to him, to tell Democrats that they need to try to protect in whatever way that they can, and choose their battles, and maybe lay out a prescription for here are some of the things he wants to do.

But also what he might do post-presidency, because he has talked about trying to recruit some talent to lead the new Democratic Party, whatever that might be.

HENDERSON: And maybe even look at gerrymandering and re-districting, working with Eric Holder on that. We'll have to see.

Coming up, President-elect Trump's inauguration inspirations, possibly a bit of JFK?


JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.


HENDERSON: But who else is Trump studying? That's next.


[08:41:04] HENDERSON: President-elect Trump takes the oath of office in just 19 days, and those close to Trump say he spent some of this week writing his inaugural address.

Presidential historian Doug Brinkley met with Trump this past week, and he found out that Trump wants to keep his speech short, but impactful. Could the incoming commander-in-chief be taking a page from his past playbooks, like this moment at the Republican convention?


TRUMP: Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.


HENDERSON: The hand motions there, always fun to look at those. Trump also an expert at sound bites, but it's also true that I think a lot of inaugural addresses aren't necessarily that memorable. What does he need to do in this speech? What are you expecting?

TUMULTY: Well, it will be interesting to see if he can avoid some of those verbal tics, for instance, putting "believe me" at the end of every line.



TUMULTY: He -- there are actually memorable lines, as, you know, you played earlier, John F. Kennedy was -- you know, ask not what you can do. But you don't get the sense that Trump is actually going to be

summoning the country to some greater purpose. And the whole inaugural thing, it's really just now taking shape, and we don't really have a lot of details, but we already know that where you might have expected a real sort of over-the-top production from Donald Trump, he's talking about he's only going to have two inaugural balls, plus the military ball.

HENDERSON: Obama had 10, I think.

TUMULTY: Bill Clinton had close to a dozen.

He's hoping to get the parade down to an hour. You do get the sense -- you know, surprisingly that Donald Trump does not seem to be that invested in all the hoopla around this. And beyond that, you're going to have a whole lot of protestors in this city as sort of the backdrop of it.

HENDERSON: Yes, one of the folks that he's looking at is Reagan, his speech, Reagan, Kennedy, and apparently Nixon. Here is one of the more memorable lines from Reagan's inaugural address, the first one.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states. The states created the federal government.


HENDERSON: Matt, it seems to be one of the reasons that Trump is looking to Reagan, looking to Kennedy, probably less so Nixon, is this idea -- Kennedy was this young, fresh candidate and incoming president. And Reagan had the whole morning in America thing as a candidate and incoming as a president, too. Can he summon that? Does he have that in him to be more optimistic?

VISER: It's interesting. I mean, his mode of speech -- you know, he does have memorable lines, but he's not eloquent by traditional standards.

HENDERSON: Very well said.


VISER: He's very -- he's -- at one point during the campaign, I analyzed the speech levels and what grade level that they're speaking at. Donald Trump by far was the lowest, at a fourth-grade level.

HENDERSON: Which has helped him, right?

VISER: Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

HENDERSON: Which is sort of marketing -- yes. VISER: You know, you appeal to more people, you're speaking to more people. But JFK, Ronald Reagan were speaking at an 11th grade level. You know, so they're speaking in more traditionally eloquent terms.

So, I don't know that with Trump we can expect him to suddenly take on that type of language and rhetorical skill, but I think he could expect him, you know, to have lines that try to appeal to broad swaths of the country.

KUCINICH: And I do wonder how optimistic this speech is going to be, because you'll remember the convention speech, you kind of wanted to go hide under your bed.

HENDERSON: It's very dark, right?

KUCINICH: It was very dark. So -- and he has some of the same people working on this speech.

[08:45:02] He said he's writing a lot himself, but also Stephen Miller, who was one of Jeff Sessions' close aides, is also working on it.

So, it will be interesting to me, and interjects a little bit of levity and a little bit of light into this speech and not -- because inauguration speeches do tend to be forward-looking and uplifting.

MONTANARO: But, remember, post-election, he did try to have that sort of unifying message a little bit more, to be able to say that this is something that the country needs to do to be able to come together. We know that he'll probably keep it short, because he doesn't want to be out there in the cold for that long.

HENDERSON: Maybe it will be a sunny day.

MONTANARO: Well, maybe it'll be a sunny day, but it's still January in Washington, D.C. You know, he probably wants to keep it short, you know, by historical standards, too, though, because, you know, William Henry Harrison gave an hour and 45-minute speech in a snowstorm, and a month later, he died of pneumonia. So --

HENDERSON: And apparently, this topic came up with Douglas Brinkley and Donald Trump when they were chatting, and maybe that's why he wants to keep this thing short.

President Obama was at Pearl Harbor, met with the Japanese prime minister, and seemed to be talking to Trump in some ways in some of his statements. This is what he had to say.


OBAMA: This is the enduring truth of this hallowed harbor. It is here that we remember that even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.


HENDERSON: Karen, Obama's also set to give some sort of farewell address at some point. Is this kind of a preview of what we might hear from him? Is it a message to Trump? How do you see that?

TUMULTY: You know, I think it's a framing device for his own presidency, as much as anything. It's always difficult for a president when he goes out of office and the country has decided to turn the page, not only from -- and especially after Hillary Clinton ran very explicitly as continuing Obama's legacy. And the country went a different direction.

So, I think we're going to hear a lot of him framing his own presidency. He's going to probably get the biggest book deal in history, as well, to give himself another shot at it.

HENDERSON: And, Jackie, Congress getting to work next week and really trying to figure out what they're going to do. What do you think is on their agenda, starting tomorrow?

KUCINICH: Yeah, the two marquee events are going to be this meeting Obama has with the Democrats and McCain kicking off the cyber hearings this week. That's what everybody is going to be talking about and continue to talk about throughout, you know, this period before Trump is sworn in, until the confirmation hearings start, which is the week after next.

HENDERSON: Yes, on I think Sessions on the 10th, I think?

KUCINICH: Tenth and 11th, yes.


And, Matt, how do you see Obama -- how successful do you see him being in terms of securing parts of his legacy when he's got a Congress that is going to work against him starting tomorrow and then obviously this incoming president?

VISER: I think it's going to be tough, you know? And I think what we've alluded to a couple of times, but just, you know, the Democratic Party right now not necessarily having one leader, you know? And they're in a position very much like Republicans were in 2009 where they united, you know, fairly strongly against everything that Obama, you know, stood for.

And I don't know how the Democrats will necessarily do that. And you have a sense that Trump, to borrow a phrase from the Clintons, will triangulate, you know, with the Democratic Party and sort of, you know, peel off the Democrats to some of the stuff that he wants to do.

So I think it's going to be hard for Obama to hold onto some of at least his legislative accomplishments -- I mean, culturally, you know, there are other sort of aspects of his legacy --

HENDERSON: The symbolism.

VISER: -- that he can -- he can point to. But the legislative pieces I think are going to be a little more difficult.

HENDERSON: Next up, the reporters share from their notebooks, including if we'll see a commander-in-chief shift as Trump goes from president-elect to president.


[08:53:00] HENDERSON: Each week, INSIDE POLITICS brings you a bit of tomorrow's news today as our reporters share a tidbit or a scoop they are hearing from their source. Since today is the first of the New Year, let's find out what stories have caught their eye for 2017.

Matt, we're going to start with you.

VISER: So Donald Trump and change. He is a radical departure, as we know, from just about anything we've seen in modern politics.

And so, 2017 to me is going to be marked by change. And sort of him taking over these things, like a state dinner, the White House correspondents' dinner, press conferences, tweeting, his relationships with Congress, I think he is so unconventional and he's taking over an office that is steeped in tradition.

So, the question is, how much will he conform to these offices? And how much will he upend them? And we saw a little bit of both during his transition, and Barack Obama, also transformational figure, found out how hard it was to actually change this town. So, I think that story for me watching 2017 is Donald Trump and can he change?

HENDERSON: Yes, how much change can he bring?


KUCINICH: When Obama was elected, Republicans very quickly made themselves a force to be reckoned with and not -- and could not be ignored. Can Democrats do the same in 2017? And who's going to emerge as the leader of that effort? They're about to watch everything they hold near and dear either changed or dismantled entirely. How hard are they going to fight? And will they be effective in getting their way on anything?

HENDERSON: It's the only position they didn't think they'd be in.


MONTANARO: Well, Matt mentioned change and Trump and change. I'm going to look at White House changes. You know, Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, as well as Sean Spicer, the new press secretary, have promised all kinds of different changes to the protocols at the White House. Haven't been specific about what they would wind up doing.

But things like press conferences and assigned seating, which sounds kind of arcane, but actually started in 1981 as a way for administrations, both Republican and Democratic, to not show favoritism or an appearance of favoritism toward any specific reporters. [08:55:10] But what's gotten under the skin of some of the Trump transition officials is that they think that a lot of reporters do a lot of showboating in the White House.


MONTANARO: Mostly TV reporters do -- you know, look, if NPR gets more questions, maybe I'd be OK with it.

HENDERSON: Karen, what about you?

TUMULTY: Well, I don't know. After two solid years of politics, politics, politics, I'm kind of in the mood for policy.

So, I'm really anxious to see what repeal and replace Obamacare actually looks like. Do the Republicans have a plan? Will they be able to come up with a plan that can actually cover all these people who -- 20 million or so who've gotten benefits under it?

And also, can the Democrats face up to the fact that there have been some problems in affordability, in sort of the scope of coverage of Obamacare as it stands? I mean, is this -- is the fact that 20 million people could be losing benefits, is that going to be enough to finally actually force the two parties to sit down at the table and talk policy?

HENDERSON: That is -- we'll see. I mean, that's kind of unimaginable.

Thanks very much for spending the first day of 2017 with us. John will be back at the anchor desk this Tuesday for INSIDE POLITICS at noon.

"STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper is next.