Return to Transcripts main page


Bush 41 in Hospital; Trump Education Secretary Nominee Faces Criticism; Over 50 Democratic Representatives Boycotting Inauguration; President George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush Hospitalized; Bush 41 Admitted to ICU for Pneumonia; Barbara Bush Hospitalized For Fatigue And Cough; Bush 41 Skipping Inauguration Over Health Concerns; Security Ramped Up For Trump's Inauguration; Massive Security Amid Potential Threats, Protests; 28,000 Personnel To Be On Duty For Inauguration. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 18, 2017 - 4:30   ET




We're going to stick with politics now. The inauguration is just on Friday, so we're going to stay on that story.

The president-elect taking the time today to pick another fight, even though he's working on his inaugural speech, with a fashion legend and to extend a fight with that civil rights icon. But we are learning more about what Mr. Trump plans to say on Friday, which might be more important than these feuds. He's going to try to attempt to unite a fractured country, we're told.

CNN political reporter Sara Murray joins me now.

And, Sara, this list of Democrats not coming to the inauguration, and whether you support it or not, it is just getting longer and longer. More than 50 now?


And it's worth noting that, in the past, obviously members of Congress will skip an inauguration, but they don't quite make the fuss out of it that they're making this time around, coming out publicly, saying they're boycotting it, a number of them saying this feud that Donald Trump continues to fuel with civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis was really the last straw, in their view.

And they feel like they can no longer go. They can't support it. Now, Donald Trump is sort of shrugging this all aside. He did an interview with FOX and essentially said, well, if you're not going to be there, could you return your tickets, because we know other people would like them?

TAPPER: That's interesting.

Before Mr. Trump engaged in the feud with John Lewis, Democrats were worried, oh, no, we're going to have defend this guy calling him illegitimate. Now Mr. Trump is getting people to rally around John Lewis.

Tell us more about the speech on Friday, because obviously this is, I think it's fair to say, the most important speech of his life.

MURRAY: It is the most important speech. And there really hasn't been a huge moment for him like this since the convention. This is obviously going to be even bigger than that.

And it was interesting talking to Sean Spicer this morning as he was doing his briefing, the incoming press secretary, saying that Donald Trump started thinking about this speech the Wednesday morning after election night, 3:00 in the morning on Wednesday. It was already on his mind.

He has personally written a first draft. Now it's Trump. There are still 48 hours left, so he could still be making changes to it. But the other thing that I think was interesting is that we know that Donald Trump is coming into office with a very low approval rating. We know this is a deeply divided country.

And I think that some people are going to be looking to him to say something unifying in this speech, say something that makes them feel like they can rally behind him.

And our expectation, though, is not for some big piece of soaring rhetoric. It's going to be a relatively short speech, about 20 minutes. And it's going to be more about his plans when he takes office.

And I think that is really what Donald Trump is hoping will change people's minds, not the speech he gives on Inauguration Day, but he might do in the first 100 days, what he might do in his year in office. I think he's hoping to prove to people, hey, I can improve your lives, I can you bring back jobs, I can get you a higher paycheck, and maybe you will come around.

But I don't necessarily think he or his advisers believe that one speech is going to all of a sudden change people's hearts and minds about him on Inauguration Day.

TAPPER: Known for rhetoric, not necessarily known for soaring oratory. But tell me about those 100 days. Other than repealing and replacing Obamacare, what are the plans?

MURRAY: Well, he has promised a lot.

We know that, Jake. And we know all politicians promise a lot in their first 100 days. We know that they're working toward moving to repeal and replace Obamacare. That seems to be the top thing on their list. We do expect executive orders along these lines very quickly.


We also know that tax reform is very high on his list, but more complicated. And finally there is this issue of the wall. Donald Trump says he does not want to wait to get started on it. And that's why he's tweaking his plans about how he's going to pay for it. Listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: When I said we're going to get reimbursed for the wall, they said, oh, Trump is not keeping his promise. Wait a minute.

We're going to build the wall. Mexico is going to reimburse us, and headlines, Trump is not -- what is this all about? Now, I could wait, but in order to get the wall started, which we're going to do sooner than we can do the deal, we have to do it this way.


MURRAY: Now, I don't remember when we were traveling across the country the cheer being who is going to pay for it, Mexico later, they're going to reimburse us. But I think this is a good example of campaign promises meeting political and actual reality.

So, we will see exactly how Donald Trump plans to have Mexico reimburse him for the wall.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, who will be covering Donald Trump at the White House for CNN. We're very excited about that. Thanks for being here. Thanks for joining us.

It's the hearing that's been all the talk online and probably a few PTA meetings. Betsy DeVos, the multibillionaire businesswoman and philanthropist and president-elect Trump's pick for education secretary, she faced the Senate Tuesday.

And while we still do not know where she stands on many key education issues that could impact your children, there was one viral exchange having to do with guns and grizzly bears. What's this?

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live in our D.C. newsroom and has all the highlights of the DeVos hearing.

And, Jeff, she really did face a fury of criticism from the Democrats.


And, of course we know that she is a proponent of charter schools. She is a proponent of diverting some federal money and local money from public schools to private schools. That has been a long-held belief of hers. She's a big Republican contributor as well. So, that put a target on her back when she was at the hearing yesterday.

But it was that one comment about gun policy specifically, a question that was asked by a big proponent of gun policy reform, Connecticut's Senator Chris Murphy, who asked her the question here about gun policy, if she agrees with it or not. And take a listen to what she said, and then we will talk about it on the other side.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: You can't say definitively today that guns shouldn't be in schools?

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE: Well, I will refer back to Senator Enzi and the school that he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there's probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.

MURPHY: If President Trump moves forward with his plan to ban gun- free school zones, will you support that proposal?

DEVOS: I will support what the president-elect does.


ZELENY: And the grizzly comment there, Jake, she was talking about was a comment that Senator Enzi, of course, Republican from Wyoming, was making earlier in the hearing, talking to her about local school control and how some of his districts are very -- are rural and thing like that.

But certainly in terms of gun policy with the memory of Newtown and other shootings we have seen so much, did not resonate very well there. But she was also pressed so hard by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat, of course, of Massachusetts. She was one of the Democratic senators who was simply saying she's not fit for the job, qualified for the job because she herself has not been in public education.

Listen to this exchange.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Mrs. DeVos, have you ever taken out a student loan from the federal government to help pay for college?

DEVOS: I have not.

WARREN: Have any of your children had to borrow money in order to go to college?

DEVOS: They have been fortunate not to.

WARREN: Have you had any personal experience with a Pell Grant?

DEVOS: Not personal experience, but certainly friends and students with whom I have worked have.

WARREN: So, you have no personal experience with college financial aid or management of higher education?

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZELENY: So, Jake, as a matter of substance here, of course, you do not have to be an attendee of public school to be the secretary of education here, but Democratic senators were trying to make the point that she is not an advocate for the department she is going to be leading, but also questions about her ethics review.

She is the only Trump nominee to date that has been sitting before a Senate confirmation hearing whose ethics review has not been completed, still questions about her tax returns, her financial information. She and her family are worth about $5 billion, one estimate shows, from the Amway fortune in Michigan. She's contributed some $200 million, her and her family, over the years to Republicans.

It's one of the reasons Democrats were going after her so hard. Republicans on Capitol Hill today said, Jake, she flatly was not prepared for the hearing, she had a rough day, but the reality also here, she's almost certain to be confirmed and she may be one of the first ones confirmed awaiting President Trump next week -- Jake.

TAPPER: Republicans giving her bad marks, in addition to Democrats, but we should also point out Joe Lieberman, former Democratic senator from Connecticut, was one of the people who introduced her. He supports her, even though he's more of an independent now.


Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up: new information about former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. They're both in the hospital. We will bring you the latest on their conditions next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Let's turn to our health lead now.

Former President George H.W. Bush and wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, are both in the hospital. The 41st president is currently in intensive care.

Let's bring in CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

First to you, Jamie. How are they doing? What do we know about their condition?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, what happened was, President Bush was admitted over the weekend because he was having problem with shortness of breath and cough. They gave him an I.V. antibiotics, and they thought he was doing well.

Unfortunately, today, there was a change in his condition, and he was put in intensive care. [16:45:06] He was diagnosed with pneumonia and we have this statement,

"Doctors performed a procedure to protect and clear his airway that required sedation. President Bush is stable and resting comfortably in the ICU where he will remain for observation." So, that was some unfortunate news. Mrs. Bush was also admitted today for fatigue, cough, just not feeling well. I'm sure her husband's condition didn't help, but that's where we stand. He's 92, she's 91, I think, you know, they're getting on in years.

TAPPER: Yes, no, that's sad. Sanjay, as Jamie said, President Bush is 92 years old, Barbara Bush is 91. Obviously, we're hoping for the best. We want them to get out and get well soon but realistically speaking, people that old get pneumonia, they're in the ICU, should we worry?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely, I think it's concerning -- there's no question. And the hospital obviously has taken actions, putting him in the ICU as you mentioned, and also this procedure that Jamie is describing is actually a breathing tube. He was intubated, so he's now on a breathing tube --

TAPPER: Put tube down his throat.

GUPTA: Tube down the throat, through the mouth into the -- into the trachea to help him with his breathing. He hadn't had that done before even on the times that he'd been sick before. So, even as compared to his other bouts of pneumonia, which he's had in the past, this does seem more serious. We always say, Jake, you know, age is not measured in years. You know, there's people's physiology seems - this is a guy who was jumping out of planes recently still, but 92 years old with this kind of diagnosis, everyone is going to be very, very cautious in the hospital.

GANGEL: And I just want to add, I saw them several times this summer and he was in great shape, better than I would say he's been in years. He's had health scares before, and so he was doing really well. He said to me, Jamie, I'm going to live to be 104. But wintertime, cold, flu, when you're elderly, when you're vulnerable, that's, you know, this is what happened to him in 2012 and 2014, and unfortunately today.

TAPPER: And we'd also -- we already been told that he was not going to attend the inaugural because his doctor said to go out into the winter like this he would be six feet under. George W. Bush, his son, is still planning on coming?

GANGEL: He's still scheduled to come. So ...

TAPPER: All right. Well, we're all hoping for the best. Thank you so much, Sanjay, Jamie.

GANGEL: Thank you.

TAPPER: I really, really appreciate it.

Protecting the president-elect, the head of the U.S. Secret Service, talking about how they're preparing for Donald Trump. Plus, the new tool they're going to use at this Friday's inauguration. Stay with us.


[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. A beautiful vista here in Washington, D.C. A CNN exclusive now in our "NATIONAL LEAD" with President-elect Trump takes the oath of office. Friday, the full force of the U.S. domestic security apparatus will be around him ready for any possible threats, including any possible terrorism. Let's bring in CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, you had an exclusive interview with the head of the U.S. Secret Service. Are they ready for Friday?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Secret Service director says his agency is prepared, and has been doing actual training with law enforcement partners for various scenarios that could happen along the parade route. And he says what makes this year's inauguration unique from years past is the expanded perimeter and evolving security threats like drones.


BROWN: It's a monumental event that Washington, D.C. and the nation's top security officials have been preparing for relentlessly.

JOSEPH CLANCY, UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: I think I should start with -- it's a national special security event.

BROWN: Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy sat down exclusively with CNN to explain how he and his team plan to protect and serve.

CLANCY: Everyone from the Secret Service who's involved in the parade will come out through our training facility and will go through scenarios of what may or may not happen during that parade route or at the Capital. We also bring in our tactical teams so there is this joint effort.

BROWN: The Department of Homeland Security estimates the inauguration will see 28,000 security personnel from multiple departments, including the FBI.

PAUL ABBATE, FBI EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR THE CRIMINAL, CYBER, RESPONSE AND SERVICES BRANCH: For us in the FBI, it will certainly be in the hundreds on Inauguration Day. Every seat in here will be filled, will be sharing information and intelligence throughout the event. Again, to get ahead of things, to stay ahead of the threat, and to stop bad things from happening.

BROWN: All hands will be on deck to protect the nearly 1 million people expected to attend Friday's events. Among the attendees, congressional leaders, former presidents and cabinet members, and, of course, the Trumps. Law enforcement wants to ensure there is little reprise of campaign rallies that saw clashes between protesters and Trump supporters. Even tense moments for the candidate himself.

Are you concerned about protesters and people coming amped up and maybe wanting to cause violence?

CLANCY: There's always that -- I don't know if I'd say concern, but there is always that awareness, that protesters may be at any of our sites. We dealt with this throughout the campaign, and I think we were very successful with that, working with our partners.

BROWN: Unlike many inaugurations past, security plans this year include drone detection. The aerial devices have breached White House security in the past, flying over the fences as recently as 2015.

That's one evolving security threat.

CLANCY: Sure, absolutely, and it's a concern for so many people. And there's been a lot of work done in that area and certainly over the inauguration, that's restricted air space. So, I would advise any of your viewers not to have any of those up in the air.

[16:55:01] BROWN: Experts tell CNN, authorities can now intercept and land drones, and even use radio frequencies to track the operators.

ABBATE: I'm not going to go into it, but we do have certain capabilities to detect and defeat devices of that nature.


BROWN: And officials are expecting dozens of demonstration groups on Inauguration Day. The Washington Post site 63 groups, both pro and con, expected to be in attendance. Security officials say, as you heard there, they are prepared if anything gets out of hand, and the Secret Service says it will only intervene if there is a direct threat to the president. Jake?

TAPPER: A big, big security challenge. Pamela Brown, thank you so much. That's it for me in THE LEAD. Don't forget tonight, CNN "FILMS" was allowed unique access, rarely seen by the public as part of a new documentary, "THE END: INSIDE THE LAST DAYS OF THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE", that airs this evening at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Wolf Blitzer is coming up next in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Stay with us. See you tomorrow.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Final answers. President Obama gave his last news conference. He defends the news media, partially criticized by President --