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Ex Clinton Campaign Chief Addresses Harassment Scandal; Trump Attends Swearing in of New HHS Secretary; Trump Targets Jay-Z on African-American Employment Rate; Russian Military Jet Performed Unsafe Intercept of U.S. Plane. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think, looking at how he responded to these reports, the "Buzzfeed" report, great report by Ruby Cramer, great report in "The New York Times," by Maggie Haberman --

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

KEILAR: -- do you think looking especially -- because he did speak to Ruby in that report.

SOLIS DOYLE: Yes.

KEILAR: Do you think he gets it?

SOLIS DOYLE: No. Not at all. He attributed his behavior to him being religious and to him being from the south. That is just, as I tweeted, out-freaking-rageous. It is enraging to me. I know plenty of religious people and plenty of people from the south and they don't treat women that way.

KEILAR: Patti Solis Doyle, thank you for talking to us.

SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you.

KEILAR: We really appreciate it.

We're keeping an eye right now on the White House. President Trump is expected to join the swearing-in ceremony for his new HHS secretary at any moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:35:03] KEILAR: Let's go live to the White House where President Trump has just entered the room for the swearing-in ceremony for his new Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar. Let's listen in as he greets some of the guests there and makes remarks.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Always finish the job, right?

How are you?

Thank you very much. Very special day for me because we have been looking for this day for

a long time. I'm thrilled to be here to administer the oath of office to America's new secretary of Health and Human Services, Mr. Alex Azar.

Come here, Alex.

He's going to get those prescription drug prices way down as a little bit of an extra, right? Come rocketing down.

Alex is joined today by his father, Alex.

Thank you. Congratulations.

Of course, I'll only say congratulations if he does a great job, right?

(LAUGHTER)

Which I know he will. Which I know he will. We have no doubt. You're right. I don't either.

His wife, Jennifer, his daughter, Claire, his son, Alex, his sister, Stacy, and her family, and his sister-in-law, Beth, and her husband, and numerous friends, thank you all for being here. We appreciate it. And Alex appreciates it.

Upon taking his oath of office, Alex will take the helm of the department he has already served with tremendous distinction, first, as general counsel, and later as deputy secretary. In both those roles, Alex was outstanding and an incredible public servant. People talk about him to this day. He was instrumental in improving the department's operations and advancing the emergency response capabilities. Alex knows inside and out the impact of government policy on patients, health care and prices.

As the former president of Lilly, USA, big company, great company, he did an incredible job, Alex brings invaluable private-sector experience to complement his years of public service.

The Department of Health and Human Services has already achieved a great deal rolling back regulations that drive up health care costs, but we have a long way to go. A lot of people are very happy with the amount we have done already, but Alex is going to bring that to a big brand-new level.

As our new secretary, Alex will continue to implement the administrative and regulatory changes needed to ensure that our citizens get the affordable high-quality care they deserve. He will help lead our efforts to confront the national emergency of addiction, and death due to opioids. And I think we're going to be very tough on the drug companies in that regard and very tough on doctors in that regard because what is going on is pretty incredible. And finally, put an end to this plague on the lives of families and communities. People going for minor operation into a hospital, they come out, they're addicted to opioids. They're addicted to drugs after a short period of time.

We have to get the prices of prescription drugs way down and unravel the tangled web of special interests that are driving prices up for medicine and for really hurting patients. And we're going to get that done. That's going to be so important. You look at other countries, they pay a fraction for the exact same drug. The exact same pill, in an identical box from the same factory costs us much more, many times more, than it does in other countries. And nobody knows that process better than Alex. And we're going to get it done because it is very unfair to our country. Neighboring countries pay a tiny fraction of what we pay for the same exact pill made in the same location.

And, Alex, I know there is no one more capable, qualified, and committed than you to overcoming these incredible challenges. So important.

And I will say this, prescription drug prices are going to be one of the big things. And whenever I speak to Alex, I speak to him about that I think prior to anything else. And I know you can do it. You know the system and you can do it. Because it is wrong.

So now I'll ask Vice President Pence to formally administer the oath.

And, again, I just want to congratulate Alex and his family. And God bless you all. He's got a very important job to do. So thank you. Thank you for giving him to us. And we'll give him the chance. But you gave him to us and we appreciate it very much.

Thank you. Thank you.

ALEX AZAR, NEW HHS SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. President.

(APPLAUSE)

[11:40:00] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand, and repeat after me. I, Alex Michael Azar II, do solemnly swear.

AZAR: I, Alex Michael Azar II, do solemnly swear.

PENCE: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

AZAR: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

PENCE: Against all unknowns, foreign and domestic.

AZAR: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

PENCE: I will bear truth faith and allegiance to the same.

AZAR: I will bear truth, faith and allegiance to the same.

PENCE: Without any mental reservation.

AZAR: Without any mental reservation.

PENCE: Or purpose of evasion.

AZAR: Or purpose of evasion.

PENCE: And that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties.

AZAR: I will well and faithfully discharge the duties.

PENCE: Of the office upon which I'm about to enter.

AZAR: Of the office upon which I'm about to enter.

PENCE: So help me, God.

AZAR: So help me, God.

(APPLAUSE)

AZAR: What an honor it is today to become the 24th secretary of Health and Human Services here in the United States. Only in America the grandchild and great grandchild of immigrants from Lebanon, from Ukraine, from England, Switzerland, gets to have that opportunity.

Mr. President, thank you so much for the confidence that you have bestowed upon me and the incredible department you have entrusted me with.

Mr. Vice President, thank you for your many years of friendship and for administration the oath today.

And to my family, to Jennifer and the rest of my family, thank you for all of the many years of support and for the years of support coming. It is going to be tough. But we'll do well with it.

I also would like to thank the 79,000 men and women of HHS who it's now my great honor to lead. I know these -- these people, I know this team, and the deep commitment that they have to the mission of HHS to enhance and protect the well-being and health of all Americans. That is a solemn charge. It is a charge that I am committed to. And as you heard from the president today, it is a charge that includes his personal direction to me that we have to tackle the scourge of the opiate crisis and we'll bring down prescription drug prices. I look forward to that mission, to the work ahead, and now it is time to get to work.

Thank you, all, very much.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. It is going to be good. We worked on it hard. Covered a lot of territory, including the success with the markets and the tax cut. And it is a big speech, important speech. We cover immigration and for many years, to many, many years they have been talking immigration and never got anything done. We're going to get something done. We hope it's going to be bipartisan because the Republicans really don't have the votes to get it done in any other way. It has to be bipartisan. But hopefully, the Democrats will join us or enough of them will join us so we can really do something great with DACA and for immigration in general. But it is going to be, I think, a very important speech on trade. The world has taken advantage of us on trade for many years. And as you probably noticed, we're stopping that. We're stopping it cold. And we have to. We have to have reciprocal trade. It's not a one-way deal anymore.

So we have a lot of things to discuss and we'll be discussing them, and I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you, all, very much. See you tomorrow night.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: All right, we're getting a little preview from the president himself on what he's going to say tomorrow night in his State of the Union address. Maybe not terribly surprising, right. But he just talked about, clearly, he's going to be touting the economy, he'll be talking about immigration and bipartisanship on immigration. We'll see how that message manifests itself tomorrow night. And he'll be talking about trade.

All right, so just days ahead now -- or just ahead of this first State of the Union address, President Trump took some time to target an African-American entertainer over unemployment numbers.

On the debut of CNN's "THE Van JONES SHOW," rapper, Jay-Z, was on, and he discussed personal and political issues. This included whether the drop in the African-American unemployment rate makes President Trump a good leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, RAPPER: No. Because it is not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- doesn't equate to, like, happiness. It doesn't. That's not -- you're missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings. It goes back to the whole thing, treat me really bad and pay me well. It is not going to lead to happiness. It is going to lead to, like, again, same thing, everyone is going to be sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:45:09] KEILAR: The next day, the president tweeted, "Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the lowest rate ever recorded."

And joining me now to discuss this, CNN political analyst and chief White House correspondent for Urban Radio Network, April Ryan, with us. And also Republican strategist and political commentator, Shermichael Singleton, with us as well.

Thank you for joining me to talk about this. April, I think what I sort of noticed about this tweet is that Jay-Z

wasn't denying low unemployment among black Americans. That was the premise of the question and the answer to Van Jones. He was saying that number doesn't tell the whole story.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It doesn't. That number doesn't tell the whole story. And, you know, Jay-Z talked about it, it is like spraying perfume on a trash can. And some of his comments. I find it interesting that the president touts these numbers, and I have been at the White House for 21 years now, that's one of the stories I've been first and foremost just pushing, and you know that. And the issue is the black unemployment rate is much higher. A lot of times two times that of white America. The December unemployment rate for black America, I believe, 6.8 percent, for white America it is 3.7, for Hispanics, 4.9, for Asians, 2.5. So and then during the Obama years, when he received -- when President Obama received the recession and tried to work on it, the numbers went as high as 16 percent. Started coming down then. So, you know, if you want to say that you brought it down, where is your -- I want to know where the targeting approach was, the targeted approach was to bring it down. And also, you know, Jane Sperling said you're coasting on a trend. They have been talking about it when they talk about this America first message, but there has not been a targeted approach. If you tout the fact that it came down, still twice that of white America. There is still a historic and traditional problem with black unemployment. So I don't think that is really something to jump for joy about, and it goes to Jay-Z's point. So I don't know. The devil is in the details. But you have to figure out will this president, because it is front and center in 2018, he's talking about economics, will this be part of his State of the Union address tomorrow. Will he start a targeted approach with black unemployment?

KEILAR: Shermichael, what did you think about what Jay-Z said and how the president responded?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Jay-Z had a fair point, Brianna. The issues of the African-American community do not exist within a vacuum. You cannot address or target one issue and ignore the others. You can now say I'm going to continue this downward trend of trying to figure out ways to employ more African- Americans to create economic mobility, while ignoring the other issues that African-Americans face such as criminal justice reform issues, et cetera, racial issues within the workplace, et cetera. If you're an African-American man, you may be college educated, but still have to deal with racism. Despite the progress we made, what do you say in spite of the isms you have to face throughout the country.

KEILAR: What did you think about his point of just, you know, clearly, Jay-Z speaking to how he believes the president addresses black America, and how he makes many black Americans feel with the things he says.

SINGLETON: Those feelings are legitimate, back to my point, you cannot address one issue or talk about one issue while ignoring all the others. So, sure, you may talk about employment or African- Americans, sure, you may talk about other ways to create pathways of success for African-Americans, but if you talk down on me, if you make me feel marginalized, how do you expect me to respect you, how do you expect me to want to be a part of the conversation to move things forward for my community.

KEILAR: April, I want you to listen to something that Van asked Jay-Z about, about the president calling African countries shitholes. Here is the exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z: It is disappointing, and it is hurtful. It really is hurtful more so. Everyone feels anger. But after the anger is really hurtful because, like, you look down on a whole population of people. And you're so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and have beautiful everything. And it is just, like, this is the leader of the free world speaking like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Jay-Z, he's tapping into something here. I wonder if it is that the emotion that Trump's comments evoke overshadow whether it is Donald Trump highlighting certain economic indicators, which you say are nothing to revel in anyways. But is he missing that -- these emotions really penetrate more with people than, you know, an economic or paying attention to a policy.

[11:50:06] RYAN: You know, Brianna, you hit something squarely. Before we even go there, we had Eminem a couple weeks ago who went in on the president. He basically drew a line in the fan and said if you go there, don't even talk to me. And he never really responded to Eminem. But with Jay-Z, another rapper who happens to be black. Eminem is white, Jay-Z is black. Jay-Z touched on humanity more than anything else. He said they're beautiful people with beautiful everything. When you think about the black and brown populations -- and let's go to the continent of Africa. A lot of people go by their feelings and what they think. They talk about Tarzan movies and swinging from trees. That's not Africa. That's the Bush. That's Sub-Saharan Africa. That goes to what Jay-Z was talking about beautiful everything and beautiful people. Let's go to the center for American progress and is their report saying that brown -- well, that black immigrants are much more educated than any other immigrant population that comes here --

KEILAR: April?

RYAN: -- so that speaks to it.

Yes, Brianna?

KEILAR: I'd just want to give Shermichael another quick word because I'm out of time. I am out of time. I just want to --

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I'm sorry.

KEILAR: No, no. That's not your fault at all.

To April's point, why did he respond to Jay-Z and not Eminem?

SINGLETON: It leads to a lot of people questioning President Trump's standing on racial issues, people of different ethnicities. I can understand why people may say, well, maybe he does have an issue with people who are not white. Look, Brianna, as an African-American, I am proud of our community. We are the product of slaves. People who were brought here from an unfamiliar place. And in spite of all those things, look at the progress we've made. So in spite of Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric, we will continue to make progress in the right direction. And for those listening to his words, screw Donald Trump. We'll continue moving forward and progressing and making our communities better.

KEILAR: Shermichael Singleton and April Ryan, thank you for your time.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: I know. We are out of time, but you heard, certainly, there Shermichael's words.

All right. We have to talk about some breaking news just in. We're learning a Russian military jet performed an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Navy plane. We'll have the latest from the Pentagon after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: We have some breaking news coming to us from the Pentagon. CNN is learning that a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy plane over the Black Sea.

CNN's Ryan Browne is joining me from the Pentagon.

What happened here?

[11:54:56] RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Brianna, defense officials telling me that this U.S. Navy P-3 surveillance plane was intercepted by a Russian military jet. And that U.S. officials are deeming this intercept to be unsafe, partly because of the proximity. It flew within five feet. But also because of some of the jet wash and other actions that the intercept caused, which forced the Navy plane to end its mission prematurely. The Black Sea is where both U.S. and Russia both maintain a relatively active military presence. That's where a lot of these intercepts tend to take place. The last intercept happening in November.

Back to you.

KEILAR: Ryan Browne, at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

Still ahead, it is a controversial memo putting the White House at odds with its own Justice Department. Who it names, when it could be released to the public, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:12] DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash --