Return to Transcripts main page
Trumps Departing Church For White House; Vice President-Elect Arrives at White House. President-Elect Arrives at White House; George and Laura Bush Attend Inauguration. Aired 9:30-10:00a ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": To get back literally on an Amtrak train later today and go back to Wilmington, Delaware, with a political future still undefined in his future.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson - Anderson, there may - and Barack Obama's fingerprints may not be on the door jam, but there are many Americans who are kind of wrapping their arms around his leg -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SELLERS: As he gets on that elevator, saying, please don't go. I think Boyz II Men said it best, "it's so hard to say good-bye to yesterday." And so there are a lot of people who are feeling that emotion. But President Obama has been the consummate leader, has been the consummate president throughout this entire transition. And he keeps saying that it's ability "we," it's about "we the people," it's about "yes we can," "we shall overcome." And a lot of people are taking his lead and attempting to come out of their silos and embrace today for what it is. It is an American tradition. And the president of the United States, who is leaving with overwhelming support, is instructing so many people in this country to at least give Donald Trump a chance.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And both of -
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We should - we should also just point out, they're running a little bit late. They were supposed to leave the church actually about 15 minutes ago.
COOPER: This really is choreographed down to the minute, this entire day, so I'm sure there's some amount of time that's a pad for them to catch up, but -
One thing I wanted to say about both of President Obama and Joe Biden is that both of these men are men who have spent most of their lives in public service. Joe Biden certainly. And so you have an incoming president -
COOPER: And there you see - BORGER: Oops, there -
COOPER: Excuse me, there you see Donald Trump, Melania Trump after the church service, escorted also by Secret Service. You also see Tiffany Trump there with her boyfriend I believe she's with, Ross Mechanic is his name. We also - Eric Trump is there with his wife Lara. Let's listen in.
It is no small feat moving the president-elect at this point. It's also just about the most - the toughest job for Secret Service that they have. So there's going to be a certain amount of waiting while they get kind of all the vehicles in a row and everybody in their vehicle. You also see there Vice President-elect Mike Pence, his wife as well.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. What I wanted to say is, we talk about this as a tradition. I actually think it's more than that because anyone who has any sense who's about to assume the presidency should take advantage of these moments to ask for spiritual sustenance because it is an incredibly difficult job. And so I think there is a purpose to these moments of reflection before you step into the most difficult job on the planet with so many consequences attached to every decision you make.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One other thing -
COOPER: Is - go ahead, Jeffrey.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One of the things that - you see that pointed scene of President Obama in the Oval Office for the last time, and then you see all of the - what's going on here with the Secret Service and everything. We talk about how often - and about this office being the most powerful on the planet. This city is named for the first president of the United States, who was, in his day, very powerful, very popular and made it his choice to leave after two terms and set the pattern. It was broken by Franklin Roosevelt. Angry Republicans after four terms, four elections for Franklin Roosevelt, made it a constitutional amendment.
And there is a reason for it, is that human beings of all stripes like power. And we see this all around the world with any number of dictators, et cetera. And the founding fathers wanted to make certain, and George Washington in particular, that, you know, you were on your way out the door after two terms. And that's what we are literally seeing here.
BORGER: And the job is so immense that at - by the end of two terms - and maybe, David, you can talk about this - there probably is the sense that, could I have done this another four years? Should I have done this another four years?
LORD: Reagan said, if he could have, he would have liked that third term.
BORGER: If he could have he would have.
AXELROD: Well, he - he is -
BORGER: But is - if -
AXELROD: He would say that he feels like he is a better president today, that he's learned a lot.
AXELROD: But that there needs to be a renewal.
AXELROD: There needs to be new energy.
COOPER: And certainly that is what the country has voted for. They have voted for change, Wolf Blitzer, and Washington is about to see an awful big change, an enormous change for this government, for this country.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly and one that will be presumably full of lots of surprises down the road. We're watching all of this very, very closely.
Jake, they're over at the church, literally across the street from Lafayette Park at the - from the White House. They'll be driving to the north side of the White House, the north portico, where they will be received by the outgoing president of the United States and the first lady. They will then go inside for a little private coffee or tea and have an opportunity to talk.
[09:35:16] TAPPER: And then they will ride over together, which is a tradition dating back to 1837. It's a beautiful tradition. Even if the president - if the incoming president is one who has defeated the outgoing president, that's how it's been done since 1837, since Martin Van Buren was outgoing and Andrew Jackson was incoming. And it really represents, in the most stark way, the peaceful transfer of power. One person may be popular with half the country and unpopular with the other, and then the reverse, coming together, saying we are all one.
BLITZER: Looks like that motorcade has started to move. It's a large motorcade. When you travel with a president-elect or a president, it's not just two or three cars. It's a lot of cars that are moving in the same direction. Lots of security as well.
Fortunately, Dana, the weather is - it's OK right now. It was raining a little bit earlier.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that -
TAPPER: Don't jinx it. Don't jinx it, Wolf. BASH: You just woke up the weather gods.
BLITZER: But, you know what, it stopped raining, which we're all grateful for. It's approaching maybe 45, 50 degrees.
BASH: That's right. You know, look, it's OK, we can all - we can all handle it. A little rain never hurt anybody. Donald Trump joked in his speech last night that if it does rain, America will see that it is his real hair. So he's prepared for it, trying to be jovial about it and sort of take his lumps as his father used to say to him.
But as we wait for - for Donald Trump to go over to the White House to meet with President Obama, when we saw that remarkable video just a few minutes ago of Barack Obama's final moments in the -
BASH: In the White House as president of the United States, just before that, even ten minutes before that, he sent what we believe will be his final tweet with @potus. And he said, "as we look forward, I want our first text (ph) to reflect what matters most to you. Share your thoughts with me at obama.org," a new website that President Obama has set up with - apparently has - already has a video with him and Michelle. So he's already got his next apparatus ready to go, to continue to communicate with the American people, his supporters and so forth.
TAPPER: And very - and we were talking about how non-traditional President-elect Trump is. Barack Obama, I suspect, is going to be a very non-traditional former president. First of all, he's not leaving Washington. He's staying here for at least a year while his youngest daughter finishes up school. He will be living in the same neighborhood as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the Calarama (ph) section of D.C. And he has also made it very clear that as much as we've been told by David Axelrod and others that Barack Obama really admired the George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush model of being quiet, letting the other president - letting the new president have his say, make his agenda, he has already drawn lines in the sand as to where he will voice opposition if he feels Donald Trump is encroaching on dissent or the press, deporting children who are in this country undocumented.
BLITZER: Voting rights.
TAPPER: Voting rights. Discrimination against minorities. He has said those would prompt him to come forward and speak out. He said that, you know, other traditional political battles he won't wage in on. So I think it's going to be non-traditional for President Obama as well.
BLITZER: John King, you see the motorcade moving now from the St. John's Episcopal Church. They'll be driving around Lafayette Park, heading towards the North Lawn, the north side of the White House. We will watch this - you know, all of us have been former White House correspondents. We know that area very well.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And we've been through this remarkable day. And President Obama, as we discussed earlier, gave great credit to George W. Bush, said despite your handing - in that case, handing over the White House from the Republicans to the Democrats, that George W. Bush was so personally and professional about the transition. Obama said that's the model he wanted to follow. And we've heard Donald Trump repeatedly phrase -
BLITZER: There they are, the vice -
KING: You see - let's watch this.
BLITZER: The vice president - the vice president, Joe Biden, is there, with Dr. Jill Biden. They'll be receiving Mike Pence.
Let's listen as this happens.
[09:40:09] All right, that was part one. Now getting ready for part two. The vice president-elect has arrived. And the vice president - the outgoing vice president has received him, and now we'll wait for the president-elect to arrive and then the president of the United States will receive him.
BASH: Well, but, Wolf, if I may, when I interviewed Mike Pence a couple of days ago, he was telling me privately how - this is not going the surprise anybody - how gracious the Bidens have been. He was with his daughter Charlotte in she is in her early 20s. She is going to live in the residence at the naval observatory where the vice president will be - of course, vice presidents live. And I said, have you seen your room yet? And she said, oh, yes, the Bidens have let us in, have let us, you know, check out where we're going to be and living. And, again, they said, they have just been, not surprisingly, so wonderful to the incoming vice president and his family.
TAPPER: You know, it occurs to me, after just seeing this massive motorcade and obviously once you become popular enough you get Secret Service protection. And once you become a nominee, you - it really increases even more significantly, let alone president-elect.
BLITZER: There's the - there's the president and the first lady there at the red carpet over there.
BLITZER: They're going to be receiving the president-elect of the United States and the next first lady of the United States. This will be a moment - you know, let's see if we can listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President-elect.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How are you? Good to see you. (INAUDIBLE). So nice to see you. How are you? I'm doing very well. Thank you. Ah, we've got to be official (INAUDIBLE). So now you'll get used to the photo (INAUDIBLE). You go right here. Melania, you're going to go on the left side. Ah, hold on a second. (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE). BLITZER: All right, so there you see it, the outgoing president of the
United States and first lady, the incoming president of the United - that was a, Jake, a pretty amazing shot when you think ability the history of these four individuals and this very majestic transfer of power here in the United States.
TAPPER: A lot of water under the bridge in terms of things that have been said, particularly by the president-elect about the outgoing president, Barack Obama. But they are - they are both being incredibly gracious and graceful before the cameras, especially, but we're told also behind the cameras it has been a relationship where President Obama has really done everything he could to try to help the transition, to try to smooth the waters and have this be as peaceful and as constructive a transition as possible, and President-elect Trump has said that it's been - it's gone great and their relationship couldn't be better.
BASH: And -
[09:45:12] BLITZER: He immediately, President Obama, accepted the results of the election on November 8th and began this very smooth transition at their level, although some of their aides at a lower level, not necessarily all that smooth, but at the top levels, very impressive.
BASH: That's right, all the way leading up to this very moment that we saw. And I just have to say, for our viewers at home, I'm sure a lot of people saw what happened. It's a first test and a first reality of the cameras being on you, and you heard President Obama joke about the fact that you've got to learn this protocol. This is what happens, when Melania kind of went in for a shake, and Michelle Obama went in for a hug. You know, it was a little kind of get to know you that could very well happen to any of us in private, except they're going to have very few of those moments, especially when it comes to this.
BLITZER: John, this is where they receive guests, a president of the United States, a first lady of the United States, that north portico of the White House.
KING: Right, and so you see, you know, again, Jake just went through the history. There's a bit of an awkward moment when you see the greeting here and the hug and all that, but the world is watching this. Everybody in the country is watching this. A lot of Democrats who are mad about this are watching this and they see their president leaving after eight years saying, hey, this is important.
The symbolism of this is absolutely critical. And to the point Jake was making earlier about the relationship, this is one of the more fascinating questions I think because President-elect Trump has repeatedly said how grateful he is for the president's - not only the support but the nuts and bolts of the transition, but his advice. Conservatives have cringed sometimes when Donald Trump has said, you know, I'm going to look at some things. He's given me some advice and we're going to keep in touch. We'll see if that happens.
But Barack Obama's about to join one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. Most of the living presidents - ex-presidents will be here. George H.W. Bush not in good health to be here, but President Carter will be here, President Clinton, President George W. Bush. Barack Obama joins that club now, as Jake noted, to stay here in Washington. We don't know - we don't learn about most of the conversations presidents have with ex-presidents on big national security questions, on other questions. It will be interesting to see over the course of the relationship whether Donald Trump actually reaches out to Barack Obama, seems unlikely, and yet, because he is new to Washington, new to this, and they have struck up some kind of a relationship, I'm told that when they were in the room together, when Donald Trump first came to the White House, he jokingly said to President Obama, I want to learn the secret of how you keep your approval rating up. Said in a lighthearted way. I'm not sure - I don't make too much of - just a small talking, getting to know each other. Just in one of many fascinating questions about not only how does the new president govern, but what does a young ex-president, Barack Obama, especially since he's staying so close here while his daughter
finishes school, how public and how much does he actually communicate with the new guy.
BASH: And talk about popularity. There's nobody more popular right now than Michelle Obama.
BASH: And she used that. She used that (INAUDIBLE) over and over again in the campaign, at the end of the campaign, to try to help Hillary Clinton, to make her the successor to her husband and to continue her husband's legacy. And there's probably no one in the Obama family who has been, maybe the daughters, but I would venture to say that Michelle Obama has probably been the most frustrated by what -
BLITZER: There's the president - former President Bush and Laura Bush, by the way, not in this car that you see in front - right in the back seat.
BASH: Oh, yes.
BLITZER: There you see Laura Bush, the former first lady, and President Bush on the other side. They are here. And as we've been pointing out, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, they will be here as well, as well as Jimmy Carter, who has gone through some medical issues, but he's going to be here as well. So a lot of history.
And, John King, Jake makes a really important point. The whole world is watching right now.
But let me quickly go to Jeff Zeleny, because he's right near where Laura and George Bush are.
Jeff, set the scene for us.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I am indeed, Wolf.
We're on the east front of the Capitol here where George W. Bush and Laura Bush are sitting in an SUV. They're awaiting - there's actually a bit of a motorcade backup here as several VIPs are preparing to come to the Capitol for this event today. We saw former Vice President Dan Quayle enter just a short time ago. But the Bushs there - sitting there watching and waiting for all of this.
Of course it was eight years ago when the Bushs climbed into the helicopter and went off on their way. And now since there is such a backup here, they are getting out and waving there as you can see because quit simply there are so many VIPs. And we are very close to the former president here. We may try and get a moment here to ask him a question or say something here.
But, Wolf, this is a moment here in time where he is coming back to the Capitol.
Hold on one moment.
Mr. President, what do you think about today?
Mr. President, how is your father doing?
[09:50:3] Felling better. How's your mother doing?
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: (INAUDIBLE).
ZELENY: What do you think about today, Mr. President? You were here eight years -
BUSH: Both of my parents are feeling better.
LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: (INAUDIBLE) for President-elect Trump.
ZELENY: So, Wolf, we're just seeing the former President Bush and Mrs. Bush going in. He said his parents are doing better, his mother and father are doing better. He did not answer a question about Donald Trump, what he thinks about today. But, again, we are reminded here of the history and this moment when he is returning to the Capitol eight years ago after he flew away and took his leave back to Texas.
BLITZER: Get ready because Hillary and Bill Clinton, they'll be showing up fairly soon as well. There you see the helicopter that will be taking the soon to be ex-president of the United States out of the capital, heading to Joint Base Andrews, and flying off to California.
TAPPER: You know, it is not uncontroversial that people like Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are coming today. They are liberals, there are progressives, there are Democrats who are furious with them. They say that they are normalizing President-elect Trump. And yet I have to say that whether it's George W. Bush and Laura Bush, who I think made it pretty clear that they were not supporting President-elect Trump during the campaign, or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, they all feel, their reason for being here, is that they are being patriots. They are putting the country ahead of their own personal feels. And I think this also has to do with how we've seen President Obama behaving in the last couple months. He could have been - there we're watching again the - the video from a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nice to see you. How are you?
I'm doing very well, thank you. Ah, we've got to be in the official picture. So now you'll get used to the protocol. You go right here. Melania, you can go on the other side. (INAUDIBLE) hold on a second. We will do - we will (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) I'm always on the (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I think that's -
BLITZER: That was a moment indeed, Jake.
BLITZER: That really symbolizes this transfer of power here in Washington.
TAPPER: And not to put too fine a point on it, but Donald Trump led an effort to suggest that Barack Obama was born in Africa, a falsity claim, a lie. And there you see Barack Obama putting that aside. I'm not going to let that bother me. This man was a chosen president freely and fairly by the American people.
TAPPER: And it looks like Eric - Eric Trump, the son and his family, arriving. These are VIPs, Jake, who are arriving right now at the Capitol for the inaugural event.
TAPPER: Eric, wife, and his - and his - and his wife, Lara and there's Don Jr.
BASH: There's Don Jr.
BLITZER: There's Don Jr.
TAPPER: I believe they have five kids, Don Jr.
BASH: They do. I think - I think those are his two oldest kids, Don III and Kyle.
BLITZER: Let's listen in.
TAPPER: You see Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner walking in.
Donald Trump Jr., an avid and active outdoorsman.
BLITZER: That's Tiffany Trump, the younger daughter.
We're going to continue to watch this very closely. Let's take a quick break.
BLITZER: We're getting ready for the inauguration to get moving up here on Capitol Hill. Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[09:58: 41] BLITZER: We're looking at live pictures of the White House. Inside right now, the president of the United States and the first lady. They're receiving the incoming president of the United States and the new first lady. They're inside having tea and coffee. They will shortly be leaving for the White House, heading over together to Capitol Hill for the inauguration, the swearing in ceremony.
The - the VIPs are arriving right now. We saw Laura and George W. Bush, but now Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, they're expected to arrive up on Capitol Hill momentarily. We'll have live coverage of that as well.
The crowd cooling filling in dramatically. The crowd is getting bigger and bigger as we await these historic moments. A very majestic scene here in the nation's capital. The president - President Obama and the first lady very soon (INAUDIBLE) and drive up Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill.
TAPPER: So, it is a - it is a momentous moment. Let's go to Brooke Baldwin on The Mall.
Brook, you're talking to people out there. What do you see?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEWSROOM": I can't hear. I can't hear.
So we're right here. Right in front of where the swearing in takes place in just a little while. This is an incredible, incredible vantage point. The band has just begun. This is the president's own, the applause, this is the president's own U.S. Marine band. So they have been playing since, I think they said this is their 55th inauguration.
[10:00:09] But just to show you quickly the lay of the land because we are right here in front of where Mr. Trump will be sworn in