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Republican-Led Congress Sworn In; Bill, Hillary Clinton, former presidents to Attend Inaugural; Interview with Rep. Jackie Speier; Ford Cancelling Mexico Move, Adding 700 Jobs in Michigan. Aired 2:30- 3p ET
Aired January 3, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's probably the one day where the approval rating for Congress probably breaks into the 20s. The rest of the two years the country doesn't like so much. But also said that the unified Republican government was not given to them by goodwill. That's going to be Paul Ryan's job to deliver results in a way that the country quite frankly has been frustrated that Washington has not been able to do for them. That's the mark he's going to be measured against.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Republicans are in charge, the White House, the majority of the House of representatives, a slight majority in the Senate, 52-48. That's significant because you need 50 with the Vice President Mike Pence, who will be able to break a tie, so you really need 50. They have the majority of the state legislature are the majority of the governors are Republicans. They are doing really well. The Democrats, not so much.
CHALIAN: Without a doubt. Electorally, it's been good business for the Republicans, but it's the first time in 10 years that we have seen Republicans in charge of every facet of government, and so they have all the levers that they can pull and pursue their agenda, but Donald Trump is such a different kind of Republican. He's been a Republican for a little while, he's not an ideological guy. A lot of these Republicans in Congress have been dreaming of fighting these ideological battles and now they have the power to do it but that's going to be one of the major news lines is how is Trump and the Republicans on the Hill come to terms to pursue an agenda.
BLITZER: Gloria, we just got official word that Bill and Hillary Clinton will be coming January 20th to Washington to attend the inauguration of the president-elect. Jimmy Carter, the former president, will be in Washington for the inauguration. So, things are moving the way they're supposed to be moving. Former presidents are going to be in Washington. George H.W. Bush probably won't be there for health reasons.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANAYST: And they should be there, as well as George W. and Jimmy Carter.
BLITZER: Bill and Hillary Clinton. BORGER: And Bill and Hillary Clinton. And if he were well, I'm sure H.W. Bush would be there, too, with his wife. They should attend the inauguration of the next president of the United States. And I think it is something that the country will appreciate in this transition of power that Paul Ryan was talking about. And I think it's something that Donald Trump will appreciate. None of these people were great supporters of his when he ran for the presidency. They didn't go to the Republican convention, the Bushes for example, but they are going to his inauguration, as it should be.
CHALIAN: According to some of the reporting out there, Hillary Clinton was seeking council from her advisors whether or not she should attend and how that would play. And according some of the reporting, Wolf, the Clintons came to the decision, for the good of smooth transition of power, to celebrate the American Democratic moment that a presidential inauguration is. They decided it was important to attend.
BLITZER: On this historic day in Washington, the start of the 115th Congress, a Congress that will be led by Republicans in both chambers.
Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, of California.
Congresswoman, thank you for being here.
Curious to hear your reaction to what you've heard so far this. Are you encouraged that your minority, the Democrats, can work with the new Republican majority and the new Republican president to really get stuff done in Washington?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D), CALIFORNIA: I think both the speaker and Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, spoke eloquently about the importance of coming together, finding common ground, and then standing our ground. So, to the extent to that we're going to be able to do an infrastructure, you will see Democrats embracing Republicans to create jobs in this country. We will not however, undo the Affordable Care Act. We want to make sure that people who are suffering from cancer and heart disease are not subject to preexisting seasons and the kids can stay on the family's policies and that in fact the benefits that have accrued to so many will continue to.
BLITZER: You did hear Chuck Schumer, the minority leader? He said, "We cannot afford a Twitter presidency." I'm quoting him. What does that mean to you?
SPEIER: I think we have a Twitter presidency and a Twitter speaker of House because it was a Republican caucus that was trying to undo the office of ethics and yet with a simple tweet the president-elect was able to scuttle that, but we have to remember that came from the caucus, the Republican caucus and in effect the leader, the speaker was unable to get his caucus to comply until president-elect tweeted.
[14:35:36] BLITZER: Speaking of tweets -- and you're on the Intelligence Committee -- Trump tweeted this about Gitmo, he said, "There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back on to the battlefield."
That sounded like it was a direct message to the sitting president of the United States: President Obama, don't even think about releasing any more of these inmates, at Gitmo. What was your reaction?
SPEIER: There's only one president at the time in this country and while president-elect Trump has done his best to try to assert himself, he doesn't have that role until January 20th, President Obama has made this a cornerstone of his presidency.
I've been to Gitmo. We're spending $3 million per detainee, and they can be housed in maximum security prisons. And many are housed in maximum security prisons here in the United States. That's not furthering our interest. Those who are dangerous will no doubt remain there, but others who we have not been able to charge with any kind of offense, who have been there 10, 12, 13 years, we need to find a way to either charge them or release them.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, from California, thanks for joining us.
SPEIER: My pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, President-elect Trump threatening G.M., telling them, make your Chevy Cruze models in the United States or pay up.
Hours later, Ford announced it has cancelled plans to build a new plant in Mexico. The company's CEO sat down with CNN, with Poppy Harlow, to explain and why, and if it had anything to do with Donald Trump.
We'll be right back.
[14:40:44] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we'll take it from here.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to be with you.
We're back with breaking news. An about face from Republicans who tried to kill this ethics panel but received a Twitter scolding, so to speak, from the president-elect.
Here we are, you have been watching coverage right here from day one, the 115th Congress. In its first move of the year, they wanted to place the ethics panel under control of the very lawmakers it would be investigating. This despite opposition from Democrats and top House Republican leaders. It wasn't until President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that the proposal was finally pulled. Here were his tweets, "With all the Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the independent ethics watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number-one act and priority? Focus on tax reform, health care, and so many other things of far greater importance, #DTS, Drain the swamp."
CNN senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is with me from Trump Tower in New York.
We all were watching and saw Manu's reporting. What's this? Day one of Congress and he's unifying the rank and file with two tweets, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Unifying them or knocking them upside the head.
ACOSTA: I think this under lines there are no limits to being tone deaf in Washington when you consider the fact that Republican House leadership was against this idea of putting the ethics watchdog under the purview of the members up on Capitol Hill. And that tone deafness was felt all the way up at Trump tower. That's why you saw the tweet saying really, is this the first thing you have to tackle, the first thing out of the gate? And within hours, as you said, it came down. But I talked to a top Trump aide, and he said, listen, anything that goes against this mantra of draining the swamp is not going to be received well, as long as the president is here or when he moves to the White House. That whole notion we heard from Newt Gingrich that drain the swamp is out. It definitely is not out and the president- elect intends to police that once he gets into the White House -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Let me ask you, 17 days from the big inauguration, as previous first families attend, why don't you tell us who perhaps surprisingly, for a smooth transition, will be attending?
ACOSTA: Right, and these were questions that a lot of people had. Would former President Bill Clinton and secretary Clinton will at the inauguration? The answer is going to be yes. This is going on the first time they have been around each other "face to face" since those debates. And so, that's going to be interesting to watch.
And also, it was worth noting that George W. Bush and Laura Bush will be at the inauguration of Donald Trump. That is not as surprising since George W. Bush is Republican, but thinking back to that scorched-earth that Donald Trump waged after the Bush family, certainly, that's not water under the bridge. They're going to be at the inauguration as well. So, it's going to be quite a sight to behold. Remember, President Obama, who Trump questioned his citizenship, will also be standing there to congratulate the 45th president. An interesting political theater to watch on this upcoming Inauguration Day, which is fast approaching -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: According to recent reports, the Clintons were chatting it over with aides and decided, for the good of the country and a smooth transition, they would attend.
Jim Acosta, thank you very much --
ACOSTA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: -- in a rainy Midtown Manhattan.
In what has been called a "vote of confidence" in Trump, Ford is switching gears on plans to build a plant in New Mexico. The automaker reversing its decision. And now expanding a plant in Michigan. It will add at least 700 new jobs. That comes after a clear threat from Mr. Trump to Ford's competitor General Motors. Trump tweeted to G.M., quote, "General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers tax free across the border. Make in USA or pay big border tax."
Let's go to Poppy Harlow. She interviewed Ford CEO Mark Fields.
Tell me what he said, Poppy.
[14:45:52] POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I don't think anything these days is not political in one way or another. This CEO of Ford sitting down with us here, saying this was driven by the business environment. The business decision was key here. But Donald Trump has been slamming Ford for a better part of a year and a half, even one time saying they would fire all workers in the United States, which was false. The point is this is good for American workers. It means a $1.5 billion plant planned in Mexico will no longer be there. Those jobs are coming to Michigan. The employees cheered the news.
The broader concern is why. This is something we're never seen before, an American president calling out individual companies and them changing plans, at least, in part, as a result. It brings up questions about crony capitalism. Is there a quid pro quo here or not? We talked about all of it today. Listen.
HARLOW: As you know, Trump has attacked Ford many, many times in his rallies and on Twitter. He even once said that you were firing all your employees in the U.S., which is not true. Are you planning to build this plant because of the president-elect?
MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD: First, this makes sense for our business and we look at all factors, including what we view as a more positive manufacturing environment under President-elect Trump. And it's literally a vote of confidence from the policies he's been outlining and that's why we're making this decision to invest in the U.S. and Michigan.
HARLOW: What policy specifically I know you have spoken to him about policy decisions today. Did he make promises to Ford, things he will do to make it beneficial to stay here and cancel that Mexico plant?
FIELDS: This decision was made independently but we did speak to the president-elect and vice president-elect this morning. And this is really around making sure that, as we make these decisions, that it's, first, right for our business to do this.
HARLOW: So what will they do to make it right for your business because, Mark, you told me it costs you 40 percent less to build these cars in Mexico?
FIELDS: We are really encouraged about the pro-growth policy, particular around reform, tax policy and regulatory policy. Those types of things I think are going to build a positive investment environment for the U.S.
HARLOW: He wants to bring the tax down to 15 percent. What do you mean by regulatory? Are you talking about fuel efficiency standards?
FIELDS: Overall, fuel efficiency standards, but just regulatory burdens that are on businesses. He wants to create a very positive environment for businesses to build in the U.S. We'll see how that rolls out. But this is a vote of confidence that we feel good about going that direction and making these decisions.
HARLOW: What did the president-elect say to you this morning? You called him, along with Bill Ford.
FIELDS: I talked to the vice president-elect this morning. He was very happy about the news, and that we were making the investments here in America, which is not only good for Ford, but good for the U.S. and the American workers. Did not get a chance to talk to president-elect Trump. Bill Ford did that. He reiterated the same things.
HARLOW: Did he say he was stop with the tweets and attacks towards Ford?
FIELDS: I don't think he got into that level. He was very appreciative that we are going to invest our business around these seven electrified products to show we're a leader in this area.
[14:49:41] HARLOW: Let's talk about the jobs. 2,800 jobs were slated to be added to Mexico through this plant that is now cancelled. Instead of that, you're going to create 700 jobs here. Why not as many jobs here as in Mexico?
FIELDS: First off, the main reason we are canceling our plan is because we are seeing a decline for small vehicles. And we are asking ourselves where can we utilize it. And, therefore, well produce the Focus at an existing plant in Mexico so we don't have to build a new one and create those 2800 jobs. And that's due to just as we see demand for that type of segment and that type of vehicle.
HARLOW: It certainly had something to do with the fact that the president-elect has singled out Ford, among automakers. Pretty much, he did tweet about G.M. today, but this is a trend we've seen. He called out Carrier and gets jobs to stay here. He calls out Boeing, for a cheaper Air Force One. He calls out Lockheed Martin, and they say we're going to work with you. And there's a concern, Mark, this is, in essence, a form of cronyism. They cut deals and expect favors from the administration in return.
FIELDS: First off, we didn't cut a deal with the president-elect. We did what's best for us. That's what drives us. But we looked at the factors, Poppy. One factor we see is this more positive U.S. environment for manufacturing and investment here. We take that into account in our investment decisions.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HARLOW: So, Brooke, when did the president-elect find out about this? He has subsequently tweeted about it. He found out this morning because Mark Fields, the CEO, and Bill Ford, the chairman, called him. And I asked him if there was any relation to the timing on that tweet attacking General Motors, and they told me that they called him after that tweet. So apparently, the Ford jobs here didn't spark the attack on General Motors --Brooke?
BALDWIN: Awesome interview, Poppy. And I'm glad that's good news for the men and women in Michigan.
I want to broaden this out. Rana Foroohar is with me, our CNN global economic analyst is here.
And I jotted down, he said we didn't cut a deal for the president- elect we did what's best for the business. He didn't deny the conversation, looking into the future and potential jobs here in the good old USA.
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: There's a lot of different layers, on the one hand, Poppy is asking the right questions, is this about crony capitalism. But there's a legitimate case for companies to be bringing back jobs to the U.S. This has actually been happening the last few years. Labor cost is one consideration and sure, America can labor is still cheaper but when you look at how much more productive U.S. workers are and the cost of energy, a factor in transport, and political issues around the supply chains, not only in Mexico, but in the South China Sea. Companies are worried about these things and think about all this stuff when thinking about where to put jobs.
BALDWIN: You talk to a lot of smart people in this country and I think we are all in the watch and wait. It could be, yes, she asked the right question on crony capitalism, but it would be a great thing if Donald Trump picks up a phone and calls these businesses to keep jobs in this country.
FOROOHAR: Here is the thing though. I don't believe you can actually bring back jobs in mass to the U.S. by simply calling up company by company. What could do that is we have a real infrastructure program, where companies want to invest.
BALDWIN: If that comes to fruition versus talk, talk, talk, talk.
FOROOHAR: Right. When they say, we're having a vote of confidence in the U.S. economy, what I think they might mean is we think corporate taxes are going to be lower, we'll be able to repatriate cash at a favorable rate. In two years, are we going to see an environment where we have an infrastructure plan, real investment in this country that makes business have the confidence to start putting their own money into the country into the factory training, et cetera.
BALDWIN: Rana Foroohar, thank you so much. Happy New Year.
FOROOHAR: Happy New Year to you.
[14:54:51] BALDWIN: Next, breaking, we're going to take you back to Washington, D.C. House Republicans reversing course to not kill the ethics panel this morning. Did two tweets from the president-elect prompt this change? We'll take you live to Capitol Hill.
BALDWIN: We'll take you back to Capitol Hill in a moment.
But if you are a techie, this is your Super Bowl. We're getting ready for the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You will get to see all the new technology before it's available in stores or online.
Apparently, one of the coolest items this year is E-sports.
CNN's Andy Scholes is there.
E-sporty, what is that my friend?
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORT CORRESPONDENT: I tell you what, Brooke, CES is ramping up today. Thousands of companies are here, all setting up to display their cool new products.
One to keep an eye on is E-sport, competitive video game playing. The industry has exploded. Global revenue expected over $1 billion.
This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford. Go further.
This week, here at CES, Turner Sports is teaming up with the FIE Formula E Championship to hold a virtual race. If you're not familiar with Formula E, it's classic auto racing that uses only electric- powered cars. They're going to compete against 10 fans in that race for a share of $1 million and that $1 million prize. That prizes goes to show you how popular E-sports has become. So, that's one thing we're going to keep an eye on here this week.
And did you know you could get a college scholarship at some universities for playing video games now, Brooke?
SCHOLES: So, all the parents out there watching, if your kids are playing a lot of video games, you may not want to be so hard on them. You may want to ease back because they may have a future playing video games in college.
BALDWIN: All the kids playing this segment back for mom and dad.
Andy Scholes --
-- have fun in Vegas.
SCHOLES: Thanks. BALDWIN: Thank you.