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Trump Watches Inaugural Parade; James Mattis Confirmed as Defense Secretary. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 20, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at this. Live pictures coming in at the inaugural parade here in Washington, D.C., honoring the new president of the United States, Donald Trump.

[17:00:53] We're here right across the street from the White House. Dana Bash and I, we're covering this inaugural parade. We're literally right in front of that reviewing stand where the president, the vice-president, their families will be. They will be reviewing all of these parades, representatives who have come from all over the country to honor the new president.

Dana, this is a tradition. It goes back to George Washington, actually. He started the inaugural parade tradition when government officials, members of Congress, Army units, prominent citizens simply came in for the swearing-in ceremony, and it's obviously, over all of these years, become so much more elaborate.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Although this is not as elaborate as parades that we've seen in the past. Certainly that you've covered, and that's intentional. Donald Trump actually, surprisingly perhaps for some, didn't want to have an over-the-top parade, actually limiting the number of inaugural balls tonight, as well.

But for this parade he wanted to focus on specific themes, including the military and war veterans. And, so, you'll see a lot of themes and a lot of participants in this parade that bolster that theme.

One thing I have to tell you, if you saw this with Sara Murray, our White House correspondent, she reported earlier that one thing that Donald Trump really wanted in this parade was a tank. He asked, "Can I have a tank as part of the parade?"

And the source told Sara Murray that he was told that no, sir, that's not feasible. So he didn't get one thing he wanted. But, you know, I think this is pretty good for celebration.

BLITZER: What he did get was a lot of representatives of the United States military. He has often wanted to honor the veterans, the U.S. military personnel, a lot of unit from the U.S. military from across the country. They are marching. They are walking in this parade right now down Pennsylvania Avenue. They started up on Capitol Hill, and they're making their way to where we are right across from the reviewing stand, the North Lawn of the White House. That's where the president will be, the first lady, the vice-president, Mrs. Pence as well as their families.

And you can see this parade beginning to move. They're running a little bit behind schedule. Dana, this is -- but they've built in some time.

What's interesting is some of the reviewing stands pretty empty right now. Maybe it's because of the rain earlier in the day that deterred some folks from coming. But you've been speaking to some of the organizers, and it's a little surprising to me to see some empty reviewing stands.

BASH: That's right. I actually was going back and forth with Tom Barak (ph), who is in charge of the inaugural, and asked him about the -- the empty stands, those that are closest to the reviewing stand. And his answer was that they -- at least these were reserved for cabinet and families of cabinet, or if they hope -- people they hope will be cabinet, VIP and that they were having trouble getting across town. We'll see, though, if that remains the case as the motorcade is now here. The president, President Trump, is now in his new home in Washington inside the White House. And if people can make their way closer, because right as of now, the stands closest to where he is going to be reviewing the parade are not entirely full.

BLITZER: Yes. The ones on the North Lawn of the White House. They are inside. They walked up -- they were right in front of us. You were down on Pennsylvania Avenue as the car pulled up right in front of you.

BASH: I tried to get them to come out. Obviously, I wasn't successful, because we didn't get a brand-new interview with President Trump. And he was waving, he was happy; and we did see them get out as they turned the corner onto Pennsylvania Avenue. And obviously, before that, as well, not surprisingly, in front of the Trump Hotel -- excuse me, also on Pennsylvania Avenue.

BLITZER: Tim Naftali, the CNN presidential historian, is with us, as well. There is a rich history, Tim, to these parades.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, like so many things in our history. George Washington established this precedent. But it was Thomas Jefferson who made it in Washington. As we know, the very first inauguration was in New York City.

It's Theodore Roosevelt we have to thank for the -- for the magnificent level of certain parades. It was Theodore Roosevelt who took the parade, it became much larger under Ulysses S. Grant. He said, "I want something absolutely magnificent. I want something for an old Rough Rider." And so our -- the concept of the modern parade, the inaugural parade on the day of the inauguration, that's T.R.'s contribution.

[17:05:24] BLITZER: Tim, it's interesting that some of the units that are participating in this inaugural parade, it's been controversial for their schools, their universities. Some critics saying they should not be here, but these folks decided they wanted to be here. This is an important day in American history. NAFTALI: Well, American citizens have this internal debate. Some of

them say, "Look, the inauguration is a matter of our constitutional system," and others say, "No, it's a celebration of the man who is elected."

Those who feel it's a celebration of the man who is elected, didn't -- and didn't like him, didn't want to participate. Those who felt, "No, this is part of the peaceful transfer of government; it's what makes our country so different from others. I'm going to participate because I'm a citizen, and this is part of our constitutional system."

BASH: a celebration of that.

NAFTALI: "That's what I'm celebrating." But again, each citizen makes up his or her own mind.

BLITZER: Dana, the president was sworn in almost exactly five hours ago. He's already done some business. But the U.S. Senate is doing some formal business even as we speak and as we observe the inaugural parade.

BASH: That's right, Wolf. You mentioned that he wants this to be a hat tip to the United States military. The person who -- the civilian, now civilian he wants to be in charge of that, the defense -- the defense secretary, there's a vote going on for his confirmation as we speak. The expectation, given the fact that he only had one no- vote in committee, is that he should pass pretty easily.

BLITZER: General James Mattis.

BASH: General James Mattis should pass pretty easily to become President Trump's defense secretary. And when it comes to national security, he will probably be one of maybe two or three people in place by the end of the day. Donald Trump is hoping that it would be more. In the past we have seen more than a handful. President Obama had seven by the time his inaugural day was over.

BLITZER: At least General Mattis will be the defense secretary of the United States within the next hour or so. And General John Kelly, the retired general, he will be the secretary of homeland security. His nomination will come forward.

And it's interesting, Dana, that the first piece of legislation that President Trump signed onto law just a few hours ago is legislation, a waiver allowing General Mattis to become the secretary of defense. He's only been out of uniform three years. The law says you have to be out of uniform for seven years, but Congress passed legislation, a waiver authorizing that he could serve as defense secretary. And President Trump, shortly after he became president, signed that legislation into law.

BASH: That's right. And many Democrats, although there is only one Democrat who voted no in the committee, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. And she did it, she said, because she didn't like the fact that he had so recently been in the United States military. And many Democrats said, "You know what? Generally, we think that's an important law, to keep the civilian leadership of the military." However, in this particular case, this particular individual in General James Mattis, they think he is an important person to be in this role for this president.

And I'm talking about many Democrats and some Republicans who were very unsure about the fact that President Trump doesn't have any national security experience, because he couldn't, because he has never served in the military or the United States government.

BLITZER: The first time, Tim, that there is a president who has never served either in the military or in government service.

NAFTALI: That's right. We've had presidents before who had never been elected, Herbert Hoover, and were not military. And we have had a military officer. Dwight Eisenhower was never elected, but we've never had anyone who wasn't elected or served in military office.

BLITZER: This is a new development in American history right now.

Dana, the third individual that they're really hoping could be confirmed today, Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the director of the CIA. He will be confirmed. The question is will it happen today or Monday? They really wanted him to be confirmed to take over the CIA today, but apparently Ron Wyden of Oregon has put up some resistance.

That's right. And I'm just looking at some notes from our exceptional Hill team, Ted Barrett and Manu Raju talking about the fact that already things are tense on the Senate floor over this issue. The, I guess, now former CIA directors, they're gone. They resigned.

So this administration wanted to have their guy in place, their guy in Mike Pompeo in this critical role as CIA director immediately on day one, today. And it looks like that might not be happening, but things are fluid, as they say in the United States Senate at this moment.

[17:10:10] BLITZER: We know that, at the luncheon today after the swearing in ceremony, the president was there; had a little time to talk with the Democratic leader, Dana, in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer. It seemed like they had some good conversations and I'm sure that this issue came up, getting some of these non-controversial candidates approved so that the government can proceed quickly, rapidly with its business.

BASH: One of the most fascinating relationships that I'm going to watch, and you're going to watch, we're all going to watch develop, or not develop, is that of President Trump and Chuck Schumer, his fellow New Yorker, who is the Democratic leader who could make or break a lot of the things that he wants -- he, President Trump, wants to get done.

Jim Acosta, senior White House correspondent, you're getting news. What are you learning?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are waiting on the Senate to finally confirm Donald Trump's pick to be secretary of defense, General James Mattis. We did see Donald Trump sign that legislation earlier today, essentially allowing General Mattis to have that waiver so he can serve as secretary of defense, being a retired general.

One thing that we also should point out is that Donald Trump has already started to undo the Obama agenda. Earlier today, he signed an executive action essentially eliminate this cut in the mortgage insurance premium that President Obama announced at the end of his administration. That is a sign right there that Donald Trump is starting to go after and undo what president had done, Obama had done in office.

But just to paint a picture of where we are right now, Wolf, we're standing -- and we don't do this very much, Wolf. You can appreciate this. We're standing in the middle of the North Lawn of the White House. If you try to do this on any other day at the White House, you would be escorted rather quickly by Secret Service out of this area.

And Donald Trump is going to walk out of the White House where he is inside right now, which we should mention, this is a very historic moment. Donald Trump as president of the United States, inside the White House right now.

But soon he'll come out of the White House, that North Portico entrance and then come right past this honor guard. He has a taste for military pomp and circumstance. Well, this honor guard which has been standing here the last couple of hours in this position, Wolf, really a testament to their dedication. They will be greeting Donald Trump, the president of the United States, as he comes through here with the first family.

But this has been an extraordinary past few hours here at the White House, Wolf. We've seen senior officials with this new administration sort of kicking the tires inside. Steve Bannon, the -- who is going to be the chief political advisor to President Trump, he was just inside the White House briefing room, which is very interesting. Obviously, there's been a lot of talk as to what might happen to the White House press and the White House briefing room in this new administration.

Sean Spicer, the incoming now White House press secretary, he's inherited the at-press-sec Twitter handle. He was also inside the press briefing room, talking to reporters earlier today.

And, Wolf, from what we expect to hear from Donald Trump shortly is that he's been inside this White House, has looked around, and really gotten a sense of where, you know, he is at this moment. The scope, the magnitude of the presidency is now resting on his shoulders, and, you know, he maybe even have had a chance to read that letter that President Obama left behind in the Oval Office. The outgoing Obama administration officials wouldn't tell us what was in that letter to Donald Trump. Perhaps we'll get a sense of that from the new president here in the coming hours.

And I mean, just to really paint this picture, Wolf, it hasn't been that often today where the press has gotten this close to the new president, but he's going to be walking just about ten or so feet from where I'm standing right now. This is going to be quite a moment when he comes out of the White House and walks right past us, Wolf. BLITZER: He's going to be walking past you towards the reviewing

stand, right -- right behind us here on Pennsylvania Avenue. We're in Lafayette park, directly across from the North Lawn of the White House.

Jim, while you were speaking, we got the official word from the United States Senate. The Senate has voted to confirm General James Mattis as the next defense secretary. Overwhelming approval for him, the cabinet. The Senate now taking up the confirmation of retired General John Kelly to be secretary of homeland security. Dana, he will be confirmed overwhelmingly.

They're still fighting whether Congressman Mike Pompeo, whether his vote to become the CIA director will happen today or it will be delayed until Monday. He'll be confirmed as the CIA director. The Republicans and the president really want him to be confirmed today. They want that operation to go forward.

BASH: That's right. And as you said, the Democrats are resisting. This, you know, is the way the United States Senate works. Get used to it, President Trump. There are times when one senator can use the power that each senator has to hold something up, even when perhaps -- I'm not sure if that's the case now, but all 99 others say, "OK, we can move something quickly."

[17:15:13] And this is a power that senators use to barter and to trade. So, in that sense, perhaps Donald Trump is well-suited for that, because he knows how to do the trade, the deal.

BLITZER: I want to go back to Jim Acosta.

Jim, you're there on the North Lawn of the White House, not your usual position, as you point out, right in the center of the North Lawn. They've allowed you to go there. Pretty soon, momentarily, we're told -- in fact, looks like they're beginning to walk out, at least some folks from the White House going towards the reviewing stand.

Looks like that's Barron Trump and looks like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Dana, we're seeing the family coming out. First, Don Jr., Eric Trump, their family, the kids, the president and the president's grandchildren are there, as well. This is historic. They're going to be walking, Jim Acosta, right near you. I don't know if any of them they are going to want to stop and say hello. Go ahead as they walk past you. Maybe some of them will want to come over and say hi.

ACOSTA: We're going to give it a is shot, Wolf. We've this honor guard in front of you. But you can see Eric Trump. You can see Barron and Tiffany Trump just They're making their way down this walkway that they put in the North Lawn of the White House. Then behind Tiffany is Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, her husband who is going to be a senior advisor to President Trump, as you know. And then Don Jr., and all the grandkids are in tow. We've been talking about this all day long. There's Don Jr., nodding to us.

How do you feel -- how do you feel, Don Jr., about the day?

DON TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Feel good.

ACOSTA: Good, good. I said, how's it going there?

But it has felt like, to a lot of Americans watching this, as sort of a new Camelot. And other officials are making their way here, Wolf. And we expect to see the incoming or the new president very shortly.

Here comes Reince Priebus and his wife. They're starting to come down this walkway. Of course, Reince Priebus being the new White House chief of staff. He's brought a lot of his folks over from the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Priebus, how are you today, sir? How did it go today? Very good, got a thumbs up from Mr. Priebus. Good to see you, sir. Everything's good.

Dan Scavino, who's going to be in charge of social media. He is making his way, walked through, just walked past the camera. Wolf, you're going to be seeing a lot of pictures, Instagrams and tweets from Dan Scavino. We saw that throughout the campaign. But don't see Donald Trump and Melania Trump...

BLITZER: We see the vice-president and Mrs. Pence right now, Jim Acosta. They just walked out of the North Portico of the White House. They'll be walking towards the reviewing stand. They'll be walking right past you very, very shortly. And eventually, the president and the first lady, they will be walking past you, as well, to the reviewing stand.

And then all of those units in this inaugural parade, they'll be coming right in front of the president and the vice-president, their families. They'll have an opportunity to see this special event...

ACOSTA: How do you feel about the day, sir, Mr. Vice president, how do you feel about the day?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very humbling. Very grateful.

ACOSTA: All right. Thank you, sir. I don't know if you heard that, Wolf, but he just said, "Very humbling, very grateful." I asked him to describe this day. Obviously, the weight of the world is now on both Donald Trump and Mike Pence as this new administration gets moving.

BLITZER: I think those are appropriate words, Dana, very humbling to see yourself, in his particular case, as the vice president of the United States, now the former governor of Indiana, former U.S. congressman.

BASH: That's right. I actually had a chance to interview him a couple of days ago just on the Mall down the -- down the Mall from the Capitol. And he was looking at it saying, "I really can't believe that this is going to happen, that I am going to be the 48th vice president of the United States." Certainly, this has been a roller coaster of what, three, four months for him. BLITZER: All right. Let's listen in. The president of the United

States is about to be introduced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the United States, Michael Pence, and Mrs. Karen Pence.

ACOSTA: I wasn't expecting that.

(MUSIC: FANFARE)

BLITZER: And here comes the president of the United States and the first lady of the United States, Dana. They've just walked down the North Portico. They'll be walking along the North Lawn of the White House towards that reviewing stand.

Jim Acosta, you're there.

ACOSTA: Yes.

BLITZER: Maybe he'll stop by and give you a word.

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. You can see the president of the United States and the first lady making their way towards us right now. It's not just me out here, Wolf. We've got a lot of other reporters asking questions, and we'll give it a shot here. Just gave a thumbs up to one of my colleagues.

Mr. President, how would you describe the day, sir?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unbelievable, beautiful.

ACOSTA: All right. Thank you, sir. There you go. He says, "Unbelievable" when asked to describe the day, Wolf, as he's walking past us.

BLITZER: Dana, it is unbelievable when you think about where he was only, what, a year and a half or so ago. And all of a sudden, he's now the president of the United States.

BASH: It is, and Wolf, and think about what has just happened in the past hour, less than an hour. He came up on his parade route, went into the White House, and likely sat in the Oval Office for the very first time probably, opened the drawer and read the note, the traditional handwritten note from his predecessor, President Barack Obama, former president Barack Obama and sat there and said, "Wow."

BLITZER: All right. Let's listen in. He's going to be introduced, together with the first lady, as well. They will be going down those stairs into the reviewing stand and see this parade unfold.

(MUSIC: FANFARE)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump. (MUSIC: "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

BLITZER: All right. There you see the president of the United States and the first lady of the United States, surrounded by their family, surrounded by close friends, surrounded by some top officials who will be serving in the Trump administration. And they will now have a front-row seat, Dana, as this -- in the reviewing stand as this parade, all the various units who have come, military, civilian from around the country, to honor the new president of the United States and the new first lady. And the vice president is there, as well.

BASH: And it really is remarkable. And I don't think we can say it enough on this day. Donald Trump is president of the United States. And he decided he was going to do this, and he's the first to say, nobody took him seriously. And you know what? He's not wrong. Not a lot of people did take him seriously. And then he started to obviously catch fire with -- look at that. Look at how he's having a great time with his son Barron.

BLITZER: Ten years old. He's been here. He's been with the president all day at all of the events.

BASH: I don't know -- I don't know if our viewers can hear. There's a group of people down below us chanting for Barron. He's been having a blast today, hasn't he?

BLITZER: Yes. He certainly has.

BASH: And that's the other wonderful thing about these events. You really get to know your leaders as human beings, as parents, as grandparents. And that's what we got to see today.

BLITZER: All right. The various units in the parade, they're going to be marching right in front of the reviewing stand, right in front of the president, the vice-president, their families, their close friends.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to watch all of this unfold on this very historic day. A special SITUATION ROOM unfolding. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM. There you see the 45th president of the United States and his top

aides, the vice-president saluting the U.S. military units parading in front of the reviewing stand, right in front of the North Lawn of the White House.

We're here, a special SITUATION ROOM. Dana Bash is with me, as we watch the units, the military units. There will be civilian units, as well, representatives from universities and other institutions, all marching on this historic day, January 20, 2017. 2017, the first day of this new presidency, Dana. And it's a moment that the Trumps, the Pences, they will always remember.

BASH: No question. And this is one coming up that's near and dear to the new president's heart. City of New York Police Department.

BLITZER: He is a New Yorker, born and bred.

BASH: Absolutely. He is all New Yorker, and he's standing up and he's saluting.

BLITZER: You see his family there. There's Ivanka and Jared right in front of your screen. And the first lady, Melania, right in the middle of the screen, the vice-president there in the front row, as well.

Let's just listen for a moment.

(MUSIC)

And now you see them saluting. Now, you see the president never served in the military, like the former president, President Obama, never served in the military. They were making sure the U.S. military experts there that he is saluting properly.

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's got a lot of people around him who knows -- that who knows the real -- look, you remember you covered Bill Clinton. He got a lot of flak for not saluting properly.

BLITZER: Right.

BASH: Especially given the context of the fact that he hadn't served and that was an issue in his campaign. Now, Donald Trump has not served in the military, but he was sent to military school.

BLITZER: In high school.

BASH: In high school. So, I'm guessing they did a fair bit of saluting there. But that was a long time ago, wasn't it?

BLITZER: Yes. There he is. He is saluting the U.S. military. He's obviously very, very grateful for the service of the United States military. He's there with his family and right in the front of the screen once again, that's his 10-year-old son Barron. For a 10-year- old, Dana, he's pretty tall.

BASH: Barron?

BLITZER: Yes.

BASH: Yes, for a 10-year old. He's got tall parents. That's what happens.

BLITZER: I guess that's what happens. It's a historic moment. Tim Naftali, the presidential historian is with us as well. Give us a little history, big picture of history right now, Tim.

NAFTALI: Well, right now, President Trump is enjoying one of the benefits of being president, because America is coming and marching in front of him. And presidential parades just like the rest of the inauguration reflect the personality and vision of the president. And the themes of this parade echo some of the themes of President Trump's campaign, and some of the things he wanted to focus on, law and order and the military.

BASH: I just want to add one thing while we see the new president saluting. Reporting from our Jeff Zeleny that he actually did practice, actively practice with a member of the military to make sure that he knew how to do it right, not just obviously for this parade, but as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

BLITZER: And President Obama did the same thing back in 2009. And now, you see another unit beginning to walk in front of the reviewing stand, a unit very close to the president's heart, the Wounded Warrior Project as well, the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and unfortunately, so many of them came home wounded. This is a subject very, very, very dear to this new President of the United States.

BASH: That's right. You got more than one veterans group.

NAFTALI: Near and dear to the departing President of the United States.

BASH: No question.

NAFTALI: And also the Bidens spent a lot of time working with wounded veterans.

BLITZER: These are the Paralyzed Veterans of America, as you see followed by the New York Military Academy. We're going to continue to watch this parade unfold. We're going to watch the new president. We're going to watch the new vice-president, their families as they observe -- they're right across the street from us in the reviewing stand on the north lawn of the White House. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:35:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: You're looking at the view from the reviewing stand, President Trump watching the inaugural parade in his honor during this celebration of the 45th presidency and the peaceful transition of power in American democracy on this day, that ended up having much nicer weather than we thought it was going to, but while all this pageantry is going on, on this end of Pennsylvania Avenue, on the other end, there is actually work being done in the U.S. Senate, and for that, we go to our own Manu Raju. And Manu, I guess, first order of business, we have a new Secretary of Defense.

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. General James Mattis, actually, in the process of being confirmed by the United States Senate as the next Secretary of Defense, overwhelmingly, right now there are 98 senators in favor of Mr. Mattis, General -- former General Mattis to take that position. Only one voting against Mattis, that's Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York democrat who is concerned about having a former military officer take the top civilian post of the Pentagon. But right after that, the senate is going to move to confirm General John Kelly to be the next Homeland Security Secretary, also expected to be done by partisan basis. But it's not all kum ba yah in the senate. In fact, there is a big fight that's happening right now over the CIA Director Nominee Mike Pompeo and whether or not he should be confirmed today or next week.

There are some democrats who, like Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who want to hold that fight over to next week because they believe there are some questions that Mr. Pompeo has to answer about key surveillance programs. But republicans are dead set on getting the CIA Director Nominee confirmed tonight, and they're trying to push very hard, force democrats to cave, get Mr. Pompeo into the post, and Jake, some tempers flying as well, some republicans accusing Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, of breaking his word by not allowing a vote to happen tonight that something that Schumer aids firmly deny, and there's actually a confrontation on the floor between Tom Cotton, Richard Burr, the two republicans, and Schumer over this topic. So, some tension happening after that, it was very bipartisan day, but we'll see what happens with Pompeo. It's uncertain exactly when he will be confirmed to the post, Jake.

TAPPER: And Manu, Pompeo will almost certainly be confirmed, if not today, Monday. So, why are democrats delaying it? What's the issue specifically?

[17:39:48] RAJU: Well, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden took to the floor and said that there are a number of issues that Pompeo has not fully explained. And they're also concerned that the committee did not have actual vote in the committee, the Intelligence Committee before the floor vote happened later. So, he said that there are things that he needs to respond to, particularly regards to the domestic surveillance on Americans. That's, of course, an issue that civil libertarians by Senator Wyden himself have raised concerns over.

The republicans say that as -- he has answered those questions and they say that the country cannot afford to not have a CIA Director now given that John Brennan, the former -- outgoing CIA Director, resigned his post at noon today. So, there are some questions going forward about whether or not democrats will allow that to happen tonight. But that's the issue that's coming to a head here on Capitol Hill, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thank you so much. I'm back with our panel. And Jeff, we were just talking about this a second ago. At this point, eight years ago, seven Obama nominees have been confirmed. Do republicans have a case to make when they say that the opposition party is slow walking their nominees in a way they didn't do for President Obama eight years ago?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think they do overall in the outcome of how many nominees are confirmed, but there are many differences in this case. One, a lot of these nominees were put up after the fact President Obama was clearly more prepared for his transition. He had a lot of the vetting done beforehand as opposed to after the election. So, I think so many differences, and the ethics office here is also going through a far different array of people. There were a lot of governors, a lot of cabinet -- elected officials in the Obama cabinet. In this cabinet, there aren't. A lot of billionaires -- a lot of billionaires which is much more complex. Some of them have not been forthcoming with their paperwork. So, I think, you know, if the shoe is on the other foot this time and in the Obama cabinet (INAUDIBLE) with billionaires who hadn't completed their ethics report, I think republicans would be doing the same thing. This is one of those things that will work itself out. I don't think we should get too stirred up about this. The worry I hear more is what is happening below this cabinet secretaries. These are really the people who run the government.

TAPPER: The deputies, the assistants.

ZELENY: Exactly. And a lot of offices on Monday morning will be dark. These people do not -- and those positions haven't been filled yet.

TAPPER: And David Gergen, I think it's fair to say that in the same way that Donald Trump, the president, was not confident he was going to win, this transition got off to a slow start.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO RICHARD NIXON, GERALD FORD, RONALD REAGAN, AND BILL CLINTON: It did get off to a slow start, and especially in this case, because he had Chris Christie running the transition team as you recall. And started a while ago, quite well before the election. But he was decapitated, this whole team was decapitated and they had to start all over again, which, I think, really slowed them down.

But I want to go to Jeff's point, I think the substructure is a critical point because we live in a dangerous world. Which is CNN has been reporting North Korea may as well be, you know, firing some missiles that threaten us, challenge us. And Donald Trump deserves to get someone like Pompeo confirmed as quickly as possible so he has people who have security clearances. You know, Secretary of State, would-be Secretary of State, I don't know, I think that could be confirmed (INAUDIBLE) he's not going to have security clearance if something happens here in the next few days.

The national security is particularly important and to get that substructure -- and I think the Trump team needs to build a far stronger team of their own to get these people processed, get the names up there and get it done.

TAPPER: Jamie?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the big concerns I've heard from republicans talking about this also is that this is a vulnerable time. Donald Trump is new to politics; much of his team is new to government. And so, someone like Pompeo, they really would like to have in there as quickly as possible. The other thing is just to what David said was, not only was Chris Christie decapitated, but let's face it, Donald Trump didn't think he was going to win. And so, a lot of these things simply were not ready to go in the same way as Barack Obama or other past presidents. The whole thing is way behind.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: One of the other things about Pompeo, I think those that the major story line of this transition was this whole Russian intelligence and whether - and the war that Donald Trump was having with the Intelligence Community. I think that's another reason we're seeing that republicans are eager to have a new head of the intelligence of the CIA, so that Donald Trump can begin to really put that behind him. I know we are all very interested in the business of the Trump administration getting underway. I just -- out of the corner of my eye, I'm still watching these pictures, though, of Donald Trump and his family in front of the White House. I don't know about you guys, I'm a little surprised how much Donald Trump seems to be relishing this parade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The parade's for him though. Why wouldn't he?

(CROSSTALK)

CHALIAN: He is not usually -- I don't think, somebody who like loves ceremony like this. He certainly loves his own P.R. on his terms but he just seems to be having a ball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He loves this day.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: This doesn't seem to surprise you that Donald Trump likes it so much.

[17:44:51] SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND WASHINGTON EXAMINER REPORTER: No, I mean, if you saw him at the celebration thing the other night on the Lincoln Memorial, he was swaying with the music. He was singing. I've seen him at -- before his rallies. And if the music is playing, he'll just stand back and watch and sort of sway with the music. I think he's really into this. Yes, and really into the people. I think he's not only he loves seeing the parade, but I think he loves seeing the people there, too. He feeds off of that.

TAPPER: And Andre, I think this is one of the things when Donald Trump talks about how he's here for the people, he doesn't care about the stars, he wants these -- well, we can debate how much he actually does care about that, but his public position is, "I don't care about that. I care about the forgotten men, the forgotten women." You could -- you could look at these people participating in these parades, police forces, high schools, from all over the country and say "This is who he was talking about."

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is a patriotic guy. When you see pictures of him hugging the flag, when you see him saluting the troops -- I mean, in his heart of hearts, he's benefitted from the American system. He has the American dream. He loves this country no matter what you personally think about Donald Trump. And this is a day for him. He's getting to see the country that he loves so much, and at the come together day, he's getting a little of the past today, we all know it won't be like that tomorrow. But today, he's feeling every bit of it. He gave a speech that I think eloquently stated that, that this is about the people.

TAPPER: All right, we're going to take a very quick break. When we come back, more in THE SITUATION ROOM and the inaugural parade. Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: These are Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers who perform on the same motorcycles they use in their daily patrol.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:00] BLITZER: The inaugural parade continues in front of the reviewing stand. There you see the reviewing stand. The President and the First Lady they're there. The Vice President, Mrs. Pence, they're there as well. You're seeing -- you're seeing the marching bands, they continue to go forward. And welcome back to our special SITUATION ROOM. Brianna Keilar, our Senior Washington Correspondent is with me right now. Brianna, you and I are - when we turn around, we can see the President and the First Lady, they are so happy right now. Their smiles are enormous as they see these various units go by.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I would say Mike Pence, the Vice President, especially ecstatic about the marching, and we saw right before this group (INAUDIBLE) it was actually his alma mater, the Columbus North High School band which weighs $120,000 to make it here for this inaugural parade. Something obviously near and dear to his heart, but of course, this group that you're looking at right now, Tragedy Assistance Program, this is all -- this is a fantastic program that we have actually done a number of stories on at CNN where you have kids and spouses of service members who have been lost either in training, or in war, and they help out the families. So you're seeing just the gamut of all of these groups that are participating, the thousands of people participating in this parade.

BLITZER: And, you know, they were really happy, not just the president and the first lady, but all of the family. It's not every day you see the entire family of the president and the entire family of the vice president. When the Talladega College marching band -- when they went by from Alabama historically black college and they performed in front of the president and the first lady, their smiles, you saw the president moving, and reacting, so positively.

KEILAR: That's right. They're called the "Marching Tornadoes", and I think we saw why, so much energy that they brought to this, and they were also a group that faced a little bit of backlash coming here, but they said, "Look, we're representing our school, this is about something very big and we're going to be here for this," and they came and put on quite amazing show.

BLITZER: And the -- and then you saw the president reacting very, very warmly. There you see the bottom of your screen, see the First Lady in blue, you see Ivanka Trump, the daughter, their family's there, and then the 10-year old son, Barron, is there, he's smiling. He's clearly a happy young boy today on this special day. He sees his Dad become the 45th President of the United States.

KEILAR: Yes, he's been hanging in there because from -- you look at him, he's so tall, it's easy to forget that he's only 10 years old and he's showed an amazing attention span throughout the day, enjoying all of the various festivities that we have been seeing, including this parade here, hours and hours of pageantry, it's a lot to ask of kids and we've been seeing him go through that today, Wolf.

BLITZER: And this is something that he clearly is enjoying just watching these units go by the reviewing stand. It's been a full day for the president as you know, he started off the Blair House, he slept their last night, right down the street from where we are, the official guest house, visitors of the White House. Tonight, he and his family, they'll be staying in the White House. And Melania Trump and Barron, they're staying for the weekend as well before they go back to New York, he has school in New York on Monday.

KEILAR: That's right. And reminder that they will not be moving into the White House right away as Barron does finishes school year in the White House. But we're told, of course, by Trump sources that they are going to be moving. The First Lady will, and Barron Trump will be moving at the end of the school year here at the Washington and the White House, Wolf.

BLITZER: Tim Naftali, our presidential historian is with us as well. (INAUDIBLE) these first days, January 20th, these are long days for a new president.

NAFTALI: You know, I --

BLITZER: By the way, they're going to balls tonight, too.

NAFTALI: And the problem is they're supposed to -- they're supposed to relax and have a good time and they got a lot of work to do. So at a certain point during the balls, a lot of the folks, members of the administration are going to be in to wonder, "I may have to get to bed because I have got a heck of a lot of work to do tomorrow." So there's a combination of celebration and a sense of we got to get started.

KEILAR: And you hear this from other administrations, this isn't a day that begins at 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. tomorrow because they had a late night, this is something they hit the ground running very early in the morning, typically.

BLITZER: I just want to point out to our viewers as well, Brianna, General James Mattis, the retired general, he has now been confirmed as the next Defense Secretary of the United States. The vote 98 to 1. Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic Senator from New York, the one she had a problem that he's only been out on the military for three years instead of the required seven. She didn't like that waiver that the president signed into law today, after both the house and senate approved that waiver.

[17:55:02] But the first member of the new Trump cabinet, it's official now, James Mattis is the Defense Secretary of the United States. Now, they're going to take up General John Kelly, retired, he's going to be clearly the next Secretary of Homeland Security as well. There you see the president, you see the vice president, the marching bands continue in front of the reviewing stand. Our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM continues right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. The inaugural parades continue here on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, a special SITUATION ROOM. Brianna Keilar is with us as well. We're directly across from the reviewing stand, Brianna, where the President and the First Lady, the Vice President, Mrs. Pence, they are watching together with their families. A very happy -- look at how happy the President is. He's there -- he's getting the briefings because a lot of the military units -- they are marching in front of the President.

END