Return to Transcripts main page
Donald Trump Inaugurated As 45th President; The Obamas Departing U.S. Capitol; Bidens Departing From Union Station. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired January 20, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COERRESPONDENT: Very short sentences, direct to the point. And there's no reading between the lines in any of the speeches and the sentences he gave. And he exclusively said, "America first" more than once.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And John, so many times the themes that came through during the campaign, when he says -- when he wrote that speech, he clearly had a tremendous influence in writing those words.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If you are a Trump voter, you heard from your new president what you wanted to hear consistent with the campaign. Every decision he says would be America first, whether it's a taxes decision, a infrastructure decision, a border decision, a national security decision. He said everything would be through the prism of "America first."
But it was a dark, a dark view, even a pessimistic view of where we are at the moment. The statistics will tell you illegal border crossings are down. Didn't sound like that from the speech. The statistics would tell you we have 4.7 percent unemployment. He talked about how terrible things were and how horrible it was in the country. He spoke of gangs and drugs and American carnage.
At a time, again, the outgoing president I think would tell you not that there aren't problems in America, but the crime is largely under control in America. And so that this is a trademark Trump. This is how he campaigned. It is his brand of populism.
And what a scathing indictment of this town really are. Not just the Democrats but he's watching for the establishment, he said, and enriched itself and then benefited politics, but not the American people. So he's off to a start that is very anti-establishment.
BLITZER: Former President Obama about to be escorted by President Trump to that helicopter that will take him over to Joint Base Andrews and flying off to California. Anderson, lots to assess based on what we just heard.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There is indeed. And we'll continue to watch for the departure of former President Obama and Mrs. Obama from Executive One, that helicopter which is waiting to take them off. Let's get some quick thoughts from Gloria Borger. Gloria?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this was an unusual inaugural speech. It was a continuation of the campaign very much. I think it was kind of a fist bump of a speech. This is what I'm going to do, this is what I campaigned on. And then he gave the kind of literal fist bump when it was over. I think that -- I couldn't help but thinking about the president sitting there when he talked about the American carnage that they had presided over. I'm not quite sure that that would have gone over well with them.
And I was also surprised that in some way he did not pay some tribute to Hillary Clinton. I expected, as George W. Bush did to Al Gore when they had a hard fought fight, I thought that would have been a unifying moment for him. And I -- he did not do it. But to me this was Donald Trump that we saw during the campaign and saying "I didn't win. You, the American public, won."
COOPER: David Axelrod, in terms of unity, he said, "By loyalty to country we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism there is no room for prejudice."
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean I think that there were words that were aimed at trying to unify the country. But then there were statements like we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the great American flag. Well we all salute the same flag, but not everybody in the country feels like they have an equal share of freedom, which is a big concern of many. But look, this was a full-throated as has been said populist manifesto.
AXELROD: And he lit this town on fire. He made very clear that he believes it's America first. We're going to protect our borders. We're going to protect our jobs. We're going to essentially draw a line around this country and fight that fight. And he laid down the gauntlet.
But he also said one thing that I think will be remembered by others, which is "We'll no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it". And said, "We're going to change everything for the better." And he took it on his shoulders to say he is going to do this. He will be held accountable for that in years to come.
BORGER: And he was criticizing Republicans as well as Democrats there.
COOPER: Yeah. Michael Smerconish.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: If you took this transcript and you removed the pomp and circumstance, you take away reference to the chief justice of the Supreme Court, it's a speech that could have been delivered in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania on November 7th.
And I kept waiting for that paragraph, that beyond just extending an olive branch given that 60 Democratic House members saw fit not to be here, to glorious point, to acknowledge Bill Clinton and not just to -- and the same breath, say. And of course, the secretary of state was really surprising to me.
COOPER: And there you see President Trump, former President Obama. They are walking towards -- to exit heading toward Executive One, the helicopter that will take the Obamas out of Washington D.C.
[12:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, yeah. I think the speech was very much like, not only his campaign speeches but a shorter, I think more clearly voiced version of his RNC speech. There was not a lot of "I" in his speech in the way there was in that RNC speech when he said, "I alone can fix it." There was a lot of "we and you." We are issuing a new decree. We will seek friendship. We will reinforce old alliances. We'll rediscover our loyalty to each other.
I think most people, no matter where you're from, no matter what station in life it was very easy to understand the speech. I don't think it was a speech that is going to change the minds of any of those folks of the 65 million or so who do not like Donald Trump, who are afraid of him in some ways.
COOPER: This is such a historic moment now. It is something every president we have watched go through. Let's just listen in as we watch President Obama, excuse me, former President Obama, President Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, going toward Executive One, Mrs. Obama as well. The Bidens will not be flying out on this helicopter. They depart by car as is part of tradition.
Jeffrey Lord, I mean, as we wait for them to appear, is this what you expected?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes.
COOPER: You said he was looking at Reagan, you said he was looking at JFK.
LORD: I've been sitting here going back to Ronald Reagan's inaugural speech and it is very much like this. In particular Reagan has a passage in there where he says that is in essence that the government is not ours. It's yours. It belongs to the American people. And that's more or less exactly what Donald Trump is trying to say.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think the speech is going to appeal to a lot of people who are hurting. Parts of it could have been delivered by Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders identified a corporate elite centered on Wall Street and said "They are the source of your problem." Trump identified a government elite in Washington, D.C. says they're the source of your problem. But this is a big deal in that America is leaving the world stage.
COOPER: Let's watch this.
David Axelrod as we watch former Vice President Biden departing, what are your thoughts are? You were there watching Obama eight years ago come into this office. AXELROD: Just, I think that so much has happened in those eight years that must be running through his mind right now as he leaves. Gloria is right, the words of the address was very much an indictment of those. Because I don't think he was surprised by them. I think he's kind of expected that. But I'm sure he's wondering exactly where this is going to lead now and what of those things that he put in place are going to undo.
[12:40:14] COOPER: Former President Obama, Michelle Obama are going to Joint Base Andrews. We'll hear him address his staff and then he'll go to California for some time. Let's watch.
BLITZER: Very emotional moment for the former President Barack Obama. There you see the current, the new president of the United States, Donald Trump with Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States.
The former President now with Michelle Obama, they're on this helicopter. It's called Executive One. Jake, it will take them to Joint Base Andrews. They'll then board a plane to fly out to California. He must be going through an emotional roller coaster right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's hard to imagine what he's going through. And he obviously put on a good face. He was having a pleasant small talk with President Trump. They were joking around.
Michelle Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, rather stoic. And there were moments when the camera caught her that it seemed like she was really having a tough time, understandably, perhaps, given what she and her husband were able to accomplish and now they're leaving it behind and obviously given the results of the election.
A very, very intense day. President Obama, Michelle Obama leaving the White House with very unusually high approval ratings, immense popularity amongst the American people.
BLITZER: Her popularity is even higher than his popularity. And he's leaving, according to our poll, 60 percent approval. Dana.
BASH: That's his personal approval rating. But let's just look at the objective reality of where this country was eight years ago when he's the one who took that oath.
The economy had collapsed. It was in a - we were in a major financial crisis. The car companies were in trouble. I mean, you go on down the line. And, you know, it's not perfect, obviously the voters wanted change. But Donald Trump is starting out at a better place than Barack Obama was. And I think that is an objective factual truth.
BLITZER: Let's watch this moment.
John, so this helicopter will take off for Joint Base Andrews, about a 10-minute ride. And then former President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, they are out of Washington headed toward Palm Springs. KING: Taking a little break in Palm Springs. Their youngest daughter, of course, still in school here in Washington, D.C. So they will be in D.C. for at least another year. But taking a little break, which is traditional to give the new President time.
I was just thinking, the turning of the page here, a two-term president, that's 2,921 days when you count the extra one day from the one leap year. He served two terms. The Presidential election year is always leap year.
[12:45:08] This is the first time in -- he's on Executive One now. It was Marine One when you're president. It was Air Force One when you're President. A set of dramatic changes from a historical standpoint. You see the wave here. Just a remarkable picture. The helicopter on the other side of the Capitol from where we are.
You have to go back to Jefferson, Madison, Monroe. You have to go that far back in the history books. We have three consecutive elected two-term presidencies, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. We now begin the presidency of Donald Trump in a new political era here in Washington. (inaudible) upon the new Republican era as we watch the helicopter. What a majestic shot.
When George W. Bush left, they went by the White House and did a pass by. I don't know if they're going to do that this time. When the helicopter went up it did one last pass by the White House. We'll see if it happens here as --
BLITZER: Looks like it is about to do a little final tour for the President and the First lady. The former President and the First Lady, a little tour of Washington, maybe go around the White House one last time before they head off to Joint Base Andrews, get on a much bigger plane obviously and fly out to California. And this is a moment that they knew it was going to happen, but, Jake, once it happens, reality sets in very quickly.
TAPPER: Yeah, and it's just -- when you think about how meticulously choreographed this day is and what it is supposed -- the message is supposed to be saying to the American people. When you have the new president, vice president, and the first and second ladies there standing on the other side of the Capitol waving to the outgoing president and first lady, that's not a moment that just organically happens. That's choreographed.
And the message that all six of those individuals are trying to say to the American people is we're friends, we're Americans, everything is going to be OK. This is a departure from what you're used to but everything is going to be fine. And whether -- whatever your politics and however you feel, that is what they were trying to say with that message, with that moment. And it was a moving moment.
BASH: It's something we shouldn't take for granted. We're seeing a military helicopter taking a president off after a peaceful transition. No tanks in the streets. No military coup. This is what the founding fathers set out to do three centuries ago and it's still happening. And we really shouldn't take that for granted. BLITZER: You got give President Obama a lot of credit because right after the election he wanted to have that gracious peaceful transfer. He made it happened. He made it work. And the new president, President Trump, I'm sure is grateful to him, John, for that.
KING: And the next time we see this helicopter we like to be, either leaving or coming to the White House, with President Trump aboard it at the moment. You can see it. It went flew over the Capitol right now doing a loop around the Washington monument and back over so the President, the former President and former First Lady we'll going to have to get used to that. They can look out one last time at the White House complex as they fly by. And now they will go out just outside of D.C., to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland just outside of D.C., passing over the crowds gathered here for the Trump inaugural.
BLITZER: They leaving Washington and head over the Potomac a little bit, then head out towards Joint Base Andrews which is in suburban Maryland.
The next thing on the agenda, Jake, for the President and the First Lady, a luncheon in Statuary Hall. There'll be a little signing ceremony first but then they go to a luncheon before they head back on this parade route that will take them back to the White House.
TAPPER: This has been a tradition for several decades now. It's a tradition. It's a welcoming of the new executive branch by the legislative branch. The United States government obviously split into three different groups, judicial, executive, legislative. The lawmakers are saying to the new president, welcome.
BLITZER: You see Senator McCain there, John McCain, at this luncheon, Statutory Hall. It's a beautiful hall in the Capitol.
KING: It's a beautiful hall. I just want to make known at the moment after this happens, of course everybody talks about what they just saw and just heard. The new president, Donald Trump, is about to have lunch with the people he just said spent the last years, he didn't put a number on it, enriching themselves at the expense of the American people.
And so this is a creative tension, if you will, in Washington, D.C. right now. Donald Trump is a Republican president. As Jake noted right after the speech, there was nothing ideological about that speech. He didn't talk about, you know, conservatives and tax cuts. He didn't lay down any markers. It was much more of a Trump brand of populism agenda.
And Washington is in this fascinating feeling out period right now. Yes, you have a Republican Senate and Republican House. They say relations with the President-elect have improved dramatically from the campaign when he was running against them as much as he was running against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
[12:50:00] But there are many of his priorities, even some listed there, infrastructure for example, where a lot of Republicans say we're all for improving roads and bridges but we're not for blowing up the budget deficit. How are we going to pay for that? And so, now begins, even though this is still part of the ceremony, begins the feeling out process of how to actually get things done.
BASH: And, you know, he's going to -- you mentioned, well, he's going to do some signing. Some of it is pro forma like putting his new cabinet in place or disbanding the old cabinet. But, some of it is going to be very soon keeping his promises, to try to keep his promises. And the question is whether or not he is going to keep promises that he made over and over on the campaign trail, in his words to unsign President Obama's executive orders.
He's the transition now. The White House staff has said that we should expect some things very soon. They've been closed lipped. I'm not entirely sure if they knew what they were going to do first, second and third and when they were going to start. But, it wouldn't be surprising if it started today, certainly tomorrow, meaning, over the weekend.
BLITZER: By the way, if you look at the lower right-hand corner of the screen, you can see that Union Station. The Bidens are about to do what they did for years when he -- 30 plus years when he was a United States senator. Get on that Amtrak. Take the train to Wilmington, Delaware.
TAPPER: And we should note that Joe Biden, Vice President Biden -- former Vice President Biden isn't going soft into that good night either. We're going to hear a lot from him over the next few years. He'll be in Washington D.C. He's setting up a think tank of sorts with the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He is going to be outspoken and active as well.
One point I want to make about lawmakers and what President Trump has just basically been saying about them, as well as the former president on the day he's with him, is that the most, I guess, partisan moment of the entire inaugural so far came, I think, when the Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer spoke and he gave his speech as one of the two co-chairs of the inaugural committee. And many members of the crowd, not here close to President Trump, but other supporters of President Trump were heckling him and booing him and chanting Trump's name, chanting other things that they won't say on a television.
And it was interesting because of all of the lawmakers on Capitol Hill that Donald Trump is going to be dealing with now, he's actually closest with Chuck Schumer. He's given him money. He's supported him in the past. Chuck Schumer is his senator.
So, it's interesting even though Schumer obviously a partisan Democrat. They're going to be butting heads a lot in future. It's interesting that Schumer is the first one to get the wrath of the Trump supporters.
KING: It's such a great part because what we're going to learn here is how much of this is for performance. And performance is important in politics. I'm not saying that critically. But how much of this is rhetoric and positioning and how much of this is real because he does have the relationship with Chuck Schumer, yet the tweet. A week or so he like called him the chief clown. Is that real? Is that just a new positioning? Or, they're going to do business, you know?
BASH: Yes and yes.
BLITZER: Anderson, we're about to see President Trump sign some orders then attend this luncheon Democrats and Republican, Statuary Hall here on Capitol Hill. There's still plenty of activity before that parade begins that will take the President, the First Lady and their entourage from Capitol Hill down Pennsylvania Avenue, back to the White House.
COOPER: All part of the tradition of the day. The question also will Donald Trump and the First Lady, will President Trump and the First Lady, will they exit the vehicle at some point as presidents have done so often in the recent past? Let's continue with our panel here. Van Jones, we stopped you.
JONES: I just want to say that he has authored now a form of patriotism unrecognizable to the left or the right or to the world. For the right, he says patriotic protectionism can lead to prosperity. That is not what conservatives say about protectionism. So, he believes that patriotic protectionism is a pathway to prosperity. That's not what the conservative --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It used to be, though.
JONES: That's not what you think nowadays. He also says to the left, very interesting, patriotism is a cure for prejudice. Now, that is an interesting approach, we'll see, but that's not the normal position that you have about patriotism.
And to the world he actually now says the United States is now a radically ordinary country. We will be petty. We will be small. We will be focused on our own interest. And we're abandoning now that inspirational "city on the hill" position that Reagan talked about.
So, this is a very -- it's a very patriotic speech but it's patriotism unrecognizable I think to the world, to the left, to the right. And I don't know where it leads us but I think the world is now adrift. I don't know who leads the world now.
[12:55:05] LORD: I think he's saying that the city on the -- the shining city on a hill has been devastated and needs to be rebuilt. That's a different thing altogether. But let me just --
COOPER: But you're saying that not -- that the U.S. is going to be telling other countries --
COOPER: -- what they should be doing, that the U.S. is just going to be such a shining example that everyone's going to want to do what the U.S is doing.
LORD: Right. And in other words, I think to some degree that this is a reputation of neoconservatism that came into power in the Bush years as opposed to the Reagan years. COOPER: But the difficulty is if you're trying to completely eliminate and wipe out radical Islamic terrorism that he says from the face of the earth, I mean, for many presidents that has led to nation building in a lot of places. Can you do one without the other?
LORD: Well, I think he's going to try.
COOPER: Maybe he can try.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yeah. I was struck by how religious and spiritual the speech was in tone. You know, we talked about how similar it is to a stump speech in a lot of ways. But, I thought he struck a religious tone that I haven't seen him strike on the stump speech.
He had this line that these children, whether they're from Detroit or Nebraska, are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator. And he's clearly trying to locate some commonality in a spiritual rhetoric that's pretty familiar if you think of Kennedy or Reagan or even Bush. But frankly, isn't that common in the rhetoric of Obama or in Donald Trump during the campaign? So, I think that's an interesting departure.
COOPER: That was brilliant.
BRINKLEY: Well, and he said people will be the rulers again. That is a populist manifesto. That could have come out of William Jennings Bryan.
However, there was also a kind of builders manifesto. There is something that FDR would have like. The one bright spot for Democrats was infrastructure. We're going build bridges and hospitals. So, I thought that it was interesting. He seemed to be underlining something that the Democratic Party is hoping he might do first is jobs and infrastructure. And nobody's going to complain about that.
And I'd also like to say, Anderson, I thought it was Donald Trump's best speech he's ever delivered in his life. I don't think he had one as good as that on the campaign trail. It did strike a unity tone. There were no ragged edges to it. He didn't really offend people. We're going to cherry pick the good lines and the bad.
COOPER: Do you agree with what Jack Tapper said that he -- Jake Tapper was saying he thinks, you know, sort of radical inaugural address that perhaps --
BRINKLEY: I don't agree with that. I think considering how radical Donald Trump has been on the campaign trail, I thought this was pretty dialed back for him in a line like when you open your heart to patriotism there's room for -- no room for prejudice. I think people wanted to hear that from him. He did said nothing incendiary. That's one positive thing.
JONES: So, you have to mention what he said. He did not attack the press. One of the standard features of a Trump speech is the attack on the media. And he (inaudible) avoided that. I thought that was an encouraging moment.
BORGER: Well, I think what he was trying to do and he did this well is talk about what he called the forgotten men and women in this country. And he said you will be forgotten no longer because this government is now yours. And one of his best line was it's not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people.
And that, of course, is the populist message. And what he's saying to the people sitting right there up on the stage with him was, you know, you guys have failed both parties.
COOPER: I guess one of the radical things about it is not that different than what he said on the campaign trail but to say it on this --
COOPER: -- the west side of the capitol with former president sitting there and all of the political elites sitting there.
AXELROD: You asked me earlier what President Obama was thinking. I think he may have been thinking you should have been here when I was here standing here eight years ago, brother, if you want to know what carnage looks like --
AXELROD: -- and the economy was shrinking by 8.9 percent. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month and now we see where we are. We're at 75 straight months of job growth. We've seen both incomes rising for the last year or two, poverty decreasing.
And I'm sure, you know, his view is much different than Donald Trump's view. But, Donald Trump was speaking as he did to the campaign to -- and J.D Vance has written eloquently about folks in this country who believe that they have been left behind --
AXELROD: -- in this economy.
COOPER: And just to explain what we're seeing. There's going to be a luncheon in the Statuary Hall. That's on the left hand side of your screen. You're seeing the Executive One helicopter now at Joint Base Andrews with former President Obama and Michelle Obama. They're going to be getting out there and then ultimately getting to a aircraft to fly to California.
SMERCONISH: I wanted to say that I think it's a speech that will be extremely well received by 46 percent of the American people. And what I'm surprised -- I'm surprised, Douglas, that you take away from this a message of unity because that's what I was waiting to hear that I didn't. Where in here is the pitch that say I know a lot of didn't vote for me. I know that I lost the popular vote to Secretary Clinton and I want you to be a part of this as well.