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Don Lemon Tonight
U.S. with New President; Trump's Pride and Weakness. Aired 10- 10:30p ET
Aired January 19, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks, Martin. That does it for us. I appreciate you watching. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And we are live at the capitol, that's where Donald Trump makes history in just 14 hours, taking the oath of office and becoming the 45th President of the United States.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us in Washington tonight. The incoming first family celebrating tonight with a dinner for campaign donors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a victory for all of us. A victory for all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, that followed a concert at the Lincoln Memorial, the president-elect telling the cheering crowd this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to make America great again. And I'll add greater than ever before. Thank you very much. And enjoy the fireworks. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But after the fireworks, after the inaugural address, after all the pageantry and parades, the hard work of governing the nation begins. Is team Trump ready and what will happen on day one.
We're going to get into all of that tonight. We're going to start with our panel. I want to bring in David Chalian, CNN political director, Douglas Brinkley, the author of "Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Land of America," Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst, David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator, Mark Preston, CNN politics executive editor, CNN contributor, Emily Jane Fox, and David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst.
And that's it for us tonight with all of that said. That's all the time we have. Before I get to all of you, though, I want to bring in to give us a rundown of the day, CNN senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, he's live for us at Blair House where the president-elect arrived today and where he will spend the night.
So, Jim, good evening to you. What a night. Donald Trump just wrapped up a candlelight dinner. What did he have to say?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it was vintage Donald Trump. He was not holding back. There were some pretty interesting moments in there when he was meeting with the vice president and having dinner with not only with the vice president but major donors to his campaign, and the republican cause in this last election.
And during his remarks, you know, this was -- this was one of these moments where you heard sort of Donald Trump unplugged. He was not holding back. And at one point talked about how he hopes to win re- election in 2020, he hasn't even sworn into office for this four years and he's already thinking ahead to the 2020 race.
When he said he would like to win -- what sounded like a reference to perhaps the popular vote the next time around. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The next time we're going to win the old fashioned way, we're going to win because we did so well. Because it was so overwhelming the thing that we did. Because it was so beautiful how great our cabinet, all of whom are here tonight, how great our cabinet has performed.
We have a cabinet, I believe the likes of which has never been appointed, there's never been a cabinet like this. I will say the other side is going absolutely crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now that comment there at end about his cabinet was sort of an echo of what we heard from Donald Trump earlier today when he was speaking at his hotel to guests that were gathered there, members of his cabinet when he described his cabinet as having the highest I.Q. of any cabinet in American history.
But, Don, I think we should point to some moments at that event earlier this evening at Union Station, that part of which you just played there, which I think are going to create some unfortunate headlines for the 45th president.
At one point he talked about his con-in-law Jared Kushner, and said, well, if Jared can't get peace in the Middle East, then nobody can. Basically saying we've heard this before that his son-in-law is going to be dealing with the issues in the Middle East peace trying to broker some kind of Middle East peace agreement.
And then at one point, and this was almost it was really a cringe worthy moment, he referred to his campaign manager from the 2016 campaign Kellyanne Conway as 'baby.' I'm not sure that's the tone you want to set heading into your inauguration, Don.
LEMON: Yes. We all saw that unfold and we're going to talk about that with...
ACOSTA: I'm just saying he said it.
LEMON: Yes. I know. We're going to talk -- we discuss that with the panel earlier. And a lot of people are taking issue especially to the high I.Q. thing. And I specifically want to talk about that with David Gergen.
But while I have you here, the other big event earlier in the evening was the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The president-elect and the incoming first family seemed to really enjoy that.
ACOSTA: He did. And it was image of the day to see the next president of the United States there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He was sounding much more inclusive tone. Perhaps they might have been where they -- perhaps wanted to wrap him for the day.
[22:05:06] Because he was talking about bringing the country together, he was talking about making America great again, like the cat phrase in this campaign. But not only for his supporters, but for all Americans.
And that is really the message that I think a lot of Americans are really hoping to hear from this new president tomorrow because this was such a divisive campaign. It was so ugly at times. And if he can strike that chord that we heard over at the Lincoln Memorial earlier this evening, then I think he's going to go a long way, and perhaps bringing in some of the skeptics and some of the critics that we've heard over this transition period.
But you know, it was interesting, Don. There was even a moment where we saw Donald Trump singing along with Proud to be an American, I don't recall seeing that happen a whole lot. So, he looked like he was having fun.
LEMON: Yes. And just if you can talk a little bit more about tomorrow. You said that, you know, if they can just hold him into that one point and end it there, they probably would have like to. But move us for tomorrow, just matter of hours before Donald Trump becomes the President. What can we expect tomorrow, Jim?
ACOSTA: Right. We're hearing from aides that the speech is done, it's written. He along with his main speechwriter Stephen Miller worked on this. And that he's going to be, quote, "philosophical," according to his top aides. And so that's a side that we don't see very often. It's not going to be a long laundry list of proposals, it's not a state of the union type of speech, it's an inaugural speech so it's going to be more thematic. But we are going to hear Donald Trump talk about some of the issues that got him the support of a lot of those blue-collar workers out there that we talked about so much during the campaign. He's going to be talking about infrastructure, manufacturing, building up the middle class, and so those are things that you'll hear tomorrow.
But at the same time, Don, I think that more than anything given some of these low approval numbers that the incoming president has which are really at historic lows, I think also look tomorrow to hear Donald Trump try to bring this country together. He may not convince everybody, he's obviously not going to convince everybody but it could be an important first step, Don.
LEMON: Jim Acosta, thank you so much. I appreciate that. Now it's time for the panel. And I'm going to start with you, Mr. David Chalian, what about the priorities for the first 100 days. And what do you think; do you think he'll do something really big or symbolic on his first day, maybe some executive orders or something?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He may. The transition team refuses to rule out that possibility which keeps all of us on our toes looking to see. We've certainly gotten some guidance that he's going to do some ceremonial executive orders and logistical executive orders so there will be something tomorrow.
But whether or not we got substantive executive order tomorrow or if that comes Monday, remains to be seen. In terms of the priorities, Don, at the Lincoln Memorial event Donald Trump gave a list of three. He -- jobs, building up our military and the border.
And I would keep your eye on the last one. If there is something coming out of this early executive orders I would imagine it might be something immigration related because it was such the heart and soul of the through line throughout this entire campaign.
LEMON: OK. Now let's discuss this evening, what we just saw, and then we'll discuss what's in the -- you know, in front of us. The tone of this evening. Because as you heard Jim Acosta say, maybe his people, his folks would have liked him to stop, I think he said after Arlington after the concert.
His tone at Union Station tonight, would you like to weigh in on that, Mr. Gergen, saying, you know, his cabinet is the smartest, I think the highest I.Q. I think Kellyanne Conway made those comments as well, the same comments that the president-elect made.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Don, you know, it's almost hard to talk about this. Because we're on the eve of one of the most important rituals in our political life and the transfer of power to one president to the next all went all the back to George Washington, the most important thing George Washington did for the country was not to win the war and not win the presidency but to give up power voluntarily as a democratic tradition and we see that continuing.
And when that happens you want your next president to do good things for American too. I think all of us are united in the hope that he will be good for America. But the he gets in his way. So often he distracts us. This thing about the I.Q. of his cabinet making this preposterous claim that his cabinet is the you know, the smartest, the highest I.Q. collectively than any cabinet in history.
As Philip Bump of the Washington Post often on this program said today, you know, he seems to forget Washington's cabinet with Jefferson and Hamilton, and John Adams sitting there to chime in. And James Madison up to Hill to help him.
You know, there's just no sense of proportion.
GERGEN: And where he fits into the bigger scheme of things. These presidents, the good presidents think of themselves as part of a chain. That there are people who came before them, there are going to be people will come after them who have done good things in the country and they want to do that. And his ego just gets in the way. And tonight, I mean, you know, as David asked whether he was unplugged tonight at the speech. He was unhinged.
[22:10:59] LEMON: Yes. And this -- this is the criticism, Kirsten, when people say he's the president of all of America now. I mean, you may say he's the president because he's going to be sworn in in just couple of hours.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
LEMON: And you know, very shortly we're going to call him the president not the president-elect. That he's the president of all the people not just the people who he voted -- who voted for him and the people he want.
LEMON: And I got to because I was watching it as I was coming in on my phone with a number of different people throughout the time both conservative and liberal saying why is he saying this? Why -- doesn't he realize where he is now, he doesn't have to talk about victory anymore, he should talk about uniting.
POWERS: Yes. This but I think to a certain extent we're going to have to make our peace with this is who Donald Trump is. There is the Donald Trump unplugged. This is part of his personality and he...
LEMON: But that doesn't grow the tenet as he says when he talks about 2020.
POWERS: No. But he does -- he does see this kind of stream of consciousness for people. And he's entertaining people. I mean, that's what it seems like to me. That he's being entertaining and he's either not aware or he's aware and he doesn't care. We don't really know which it is. But he doesn't seem to care how it makes some people feel. Because
let's be honest. There are some people that actually like that. And probably the people in the audience who are watching it liked it very much. Trump supporters like it, they like it's different, they like it's free flowing and it's who he is.
For other people it's alarming and it feels un-presidential. And so, he's going to have to decide. And this is we're now at this next point of now when he walks into the Oval Office tomorrow, does anything happen? Is there any sobering effect on him or not?
LEMON: If people -- if people like it and he is aware of it, then he should understand why people are saying there's nothing normal about today. Except maybe the mechanics of it are normal.
LEMON: But certainly not the behavior of the person who is going to be sitting in the most powerful seat in the country. That's not normal.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No. And he was speaking at Union Station to his donors, he is trying to get them excited. And it's one thing to talk about your victory. But I agree with David, this was very rambling and incoherent even for Donald Trump standards.
And I don't -- I thought he did so well all day, Donald Trump. I thought the Lincoln Memorial was fine. And then tonight we started seeing we're going to have to live with that unscripted part. But I don't think, David, he has a sense of those founding fathers, I don't think he reads presidential biography, I don't think he cares much about history.
He's coming out of business and advertising and the idea is to sell something, you say it's the best. The hotel is the biggest, the greatest, the best. And he can't help himself. He's been being that kind of salesman Donald Trump for so long, he's had no public service. And it's taken him to the White House, so why is he going to get off that salesman rollercoaster.
LEMON: David Swerdlick, how this is -- does this carry over till tomorrow and throughout his entire...
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. A couple of things. One, and to Kirsten point, so, right. If he wants to just speak to his base, then he's doing what he should be doing. Because this is what people liked about him in the election.
LEMON: Yes, but he has the base.
SWERDLICK: Yes, right. If he wants to be the president of everybody all he has to do is turn this a couple of notches. And instead of saying the I.Q. comment, simply say, I think my cabinet is great, and I encourage Congress to not be -- to confirm them quickly. But he hasn't done that so far. To your question, tomorrow may be one of his last chance to get off on sort of a running start with the broader body of politics, right? Because after tomorrow the pomp and circumstance kind of fades away and there's more just the governing and people are going to judge him on that.
LEMON: So, Emily, I know that you are -- you've been paying attention to the family, Ivanka, Jared, and what have you. As the family is sitting there, what do you think the reaction is from the family as this -- because you know, they've said don't go on Twitter so much, be more presidential. They're in the room tonight, do you think they're OK with it.
EMILY JANE FOX, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that the demeanor of the children is the way that the president-elect should behave, they seemed to be incredibly sobered by what is going on and in awe as most president-elects would be. They're really taking in the magnitude of the day and really appreciating it for what it is and where it fits in history, and I think their father can take a lesson from their behavior over the last so hours.
LEMON: Yes. And I think, Mark, as I said, as I said to someone earlier, I think, listen, he won. People didn't think he was going to win. So, maybe you just give him a little breathing room to say, hey, you know when I did this. Or do you think that time is over?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: That time was over. I mean, the time was over. When he gave that speech the day after Election Day at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning he actually delivered a very grown-up speech I have to say for Donald Trump. I think we all walked away from it saying, wow, maybe he has turned the corner. But to David Gergen's point, he always trips himself up.
LEMON: Is he becoming a sore winner?
PRESTON: Listen, I talked to one of his very close friends about this. I said, what is his biggest weakness? And he said, his biggest weakness is that he always has to win. When he leaves the room he has to feel like he won. And clearly, he still doesn't feel like he has won because there are people that are going to be protesting his inauguration tomorrow and that gets under his skin. He wants everyone to look at him and say you are the one.
POWERS: One other thing...
[22:14:59] LEMON: Yes. And interesting because he talked about all the crowds. Well, there are crowds for every single president who is inaugurated.
LEMON: He talked about the concert, there are number of president who had concert on the mall. He's not the first one to do it.
POWERS: No. I also think another thing he doesn't understand, and I'm going to say this is the kind of thing that will make Trump supporters really angry but I think it's true. He thinks he can bully Washington and bully Washington and that Washington is going to bow down to him. It's just never going to happen.
POWERS: And Washington is an institution, it has its ways for good or bad, but it's just not going to be a situation where he can just keep bullying and bullying and bullying. And it will -- people are going to stand the ground. And I think whether we're talking about journalists or we're talking about the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.
POWERS: He has a lot of people that he tries to bully.
LEMON: He talked about journalists tonight and he also spoke about his family. And we're going to play his words on what he said about his family and we'll discuss all of that when we come right back.
LEMON: Back now live from Washington, D.C. American history in the making now. We're now less than 14 hours from Donald Trump taking the oath of office and becoming the 45th President of the United States.
Back with me now David Chalian, Douglas Brinkley, Kirsten Powers, David Swerdlick, Mark Preston, Emily Jane Fox, and David Gergen. Emily, I want to start with you. Because we all saw the Trump family appears all together as a first family at various events today getting off of the airplane at the re-playing there are the concert. Donald Trump talked about them just a short while ago. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:20:04] TRUMP: We actually have a very, very good family. We have a family -- we have a family that gets along. My sons, look at them standing there, today, I say why aren't you campaigning today?
Eric and Don, and Tiffany who was incredible. And Baron is home. But we had a -- we had a great group of people, right? We worked hard. So, I want to thank everybody. We're going to have four incredible years, it's going to be something special.
We have in the audience a special person who has worked very hard, who married very well, it's my daughter Ivanka, where is she?
I sort of stole her husband. He's so great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He stole her husband. He had some really funny lines in that. How much is he going to rely on his family?
FOX: Well, I think this is a man who values family loyalty so much that he's having his two adult sons run his business while he's in Washington, he has son-in-law, essentially in the West Wing running any myriad of things that he's going to do as president.
He has daughter moving to Washington to effect change on issues relating to women and families. If that doesn't give you an indication of how much he is going to rely on him -- on his children both professionally in his business life and professionally his Washington life, I don't know what will. They are part of every facet of his life and that seems to be how it's going to go when he takes office tomorrow.
LEMON: So, Emily and I rode over in traffic together as we were watching the speech. And I think you saw something that I did too at the ceremonies earlier. Is that Ivanka and Jared were sitting in the front row with him. What does that -- does that say anything to you?
POWERS: Well, it could have been just the seating arrangement, I don't know for sure. But to me it said something that Ivanka, Jared, Melania and Donald were sitting in the front row.
POWERS: Her brothers were behind them. I think that said something symbolically. Tiffany was there as well.
LEMON: Yes. What do you think?
GERGEN: I think we should be watching who is sitting where in the West Wing.
GERGEN: And by the end of tomorrow is Jared next to the Oval Office? Is he upstairs in the second floor? It makes a big difference.
LEMON: David Swerdlick, aside from the cabinet level positions there are 4,000 jobs that have to be filled. Spicer says 536 transition people who will report to work on Monday, some are going to stay permanently, some won't. So, who is going to run the country, well, not tomorrow, but on -- I guess tomorrow, Friday after a certain time.
SWERDLICK: Or afternoon.
LEMON: Are they ready?
SWERDLICK: I don't think they're totally ready. I mean, they're ramping up.
LEMON: They have to be. [00:02:51] Two things. One, you know, there was transition in the transition earlier on, right? Chris Christie and his team were running things, they switched over to the Pence team that slowed things down, and then they had sort of trouble selecting and getting this cabinet and subcabinet level people through. You know, I think pretty quickly we'll see people get into position, but they're behind where they should be.
LEMON: Yes. Of the key 15 cabinet posts, 13 of Donald Trump's nominees are white, 10 of the 15 have never held political office. Sean Spicer defended those choices today. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING UNITED STATES PRESS SECRETARY: The number one thing that I think American should focus on is he hiring the best and the brightest? Is he hiring people who are committed to enacting real change, respecting tax payers, bringing about an agenda that will create jobs and lift up wages?
And I think that what you're seeing and you're going to continue to see not just through the cabinet but through the entire thing is the diversity in gender, and diversity in thinking, and diversity of ideology. So, it's not just about, you know, skin color or ethnic heritage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, is so little diversity, David Chalian, is that a problem?
CHALIAN: Sure. It's a cabinet that doesn't look like America. I mean, I don't think it's a political problem for him that is going to be a major distraction, but I think it's a problem in the sense that Sean Spicer doesn't have a very good answer there.
You know, I think that he was searching for other ways to show that they are going to have diversity. The simple fact, you just put up the numbers. The simple fact is this is a cabinet that is the least diverse since Reagan's cabinet at a time when the country is becoming more diverse. Those are just the simple facts.
SWERDLICK: Can I just add? You can have the best and the brightest and have racial, ethnic, gender and orientation, not diversity.
LEMON: Not usually exclusive, right?
SWERDLICK: Right. Right. They are not exclusive things.
POWERS: Yes. But the problem is for Trump, the people who elected him, I think that this actually sort of reflects the coalition that elected him. I mean, the fact that it is overwhelmingly white male that there aren't as many women as you might see in another cabinet actually is pretty reflective of the type of people who voted him in. And so, from the pool he has to choose from I don't think that makes
it OK, but I don't think it's that surprising.
[22:25:01] PRESTON: But that beg the question again. Are you governing just the electorate that sent you there or your voters or are you governing for the whole country.
GERGEN: Can I add a point to this, Don. And that is that there's a fair amount of social science research now that shows if a company is more diverse, if there are more women on the board, if there are more women in the company, if there are more minorities in, the company actually performs better.
Now what helps to make you best and brightest if you have more diversity. And to reject that is to say I don't care much about that. I care -- I just care about putting in place people who like me.
LEMON: Yes. I just had to quickly, Douglas, because I wonder if the Trump people are looking at notes -- early you look at legacy, but when you look at the lens of the long arc of history, history won't mark certain things but it will mark if you have a diverse cabinet. It will mark the grace and class you handle yourself with, how you made the transition.
All those things will be marked and some of the little things, reaching out to your base, and some of that stuff history will not judge you well from that. I wonder if he's even thinking about that now.
BRINKLEY: I don't think he is thinking about it. I mean, we are such a multicultural country now and what is stark on this transition eve, is Barack Obama, the first African-American President who did so much, I mean, two women to the Supreme Court. And you know, what he fought for diversity, and then Trump, the differences are just extreme between the two.
And tonight, at Union Station, that rambling Donald Trump, Barack Obama would never have done that, so we're not used to it. When you watch Obama's mind work, you could see him typing out the specific words. And Donald Trump plays on the American spirit of spontaneity, some Americans like it and he play on this notion of if I could go willy-nilly in any direction in any moment. That appeals to some people. But boy, that is the Barack Obama side.
LEMON: Humility and then all shucks quality.
LEMON: I can't believe that this is happening to me. I'm so fortunate. I'm so thankful, and grateful to be here. That goes a long way to mending fences.
BRINKLEY: Yes, absolutely.
LEMON: Everyone, stay with me. Up next, the final hours in the office for America's first black president.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We're back now live from Washington as the nation prepares for the inauguration of the president in just a few hours.
The outgoing commander in chief, Barack Obama, spending his final night in the White House.
Back with me now the very bright political team. I think you guys have the highest I.Q.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The brightest in the world.
LEMON: I really do.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Highest since the last team.
LEMON: Since the last. Mark Preston, I'm going to start with you. Because President Obama had said that he is proud that he is probably the first administration in modern history to not have a major scandal. Why do you think that is?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, it's only...
LEMON: He had to by the way, as the first black president.
LEMON: I mean, there is a high standard but he had to do it and he did.
PRESTON: Right. And it's a mixture of a couple of things. I mean, part of it is luck. And I think we have to acknowledge that. That you employ so many people as the president of the United States. As you pointed out there's 4,000 positions in the government. You're lucky if somebody doesn't do something wrong, but there is something to be said about the character that you bring into the office and the people that you surround yourself with.
And I think from Barack Obama came into the office he came in with some very high expectations and surrounded himself with some very smart and intelligent people. And if you do that and lead by example, you know, in the end you're going to be scandal-free or at least you will not be tarnished by many scandals. And you know, that's a notch on his belt as he leaves tomorrow.
LEMON: I want to put, let's put up Nick Kristof's quote up. And I want to read the whole thing but I will let the audience read and then I'll just read the first part. He said, "We want our children and world to admire our president and where Obama is strongest and Trump is weakest." And then he goes on to say at the end that, "We, as a nation will be more appreciative of the first family that set an impeccable example for all the world."
That is high standard. Do you think that the Trump administration can hold that standard?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No. It's very hard to set the Barack Obama standard. In my mind he's like Dwight Eisenhower, he's almost unimpeachable, he is governed with such honesty and integrity and he's not only leaving with that 60 percent we keep talking about but a growing reputation.
And the legacy of having eight scandal-free years is going to look larger and larger in history. Because we're already looking at bog of what's going to happen in the first months of Trump's presidency. I'm not saying Donald Trump may not be a very successful president. But when you rank presidents on ethical standards Barack Obama is the highest, he is up there with some of our really great American leaders.
LEMON: Yes. And you look at the -- and it's been carefully, I don't know if it's stage craft or crafted, don't you think that the Barack Obama image, and of course, no scandals, if you look at the picture that first lady tweeted today them looking out on the south lawn looking at the monument.
And then when you consider you know, President-elect Trump writing his inaugural address at a desk that's a reception area at Mar-a-Lago supposedly.
LEMON: In many ways it starts, requires fitting an image. Can you compare the two?
POWERS: Well, yes, you're exactly right. I mean, stage craft is such an important part of it. I mean, I don't know at this point. I think it's too soon frankly to judge exactly how he's going to be as president.
LEMON: He's not even in office yet.
POWERS: We can look at some of the things with his nominees or his business dealings and some ethical questions and the way that he kind of deal with things to saying well, as long as it's legal doesn't like them to talk that much about whether it's ethical. That's different from Barack Obama, but I think you're right. I think Barack Obama was very aware and I think that his wife was very aware, they were the first African-American couple in the White House and they had to be, you know, almost perfect.
POWERS: And I think that -- I think that Trump operates a little more entitlement frankly.
LEMON: Well, that was my whole point when I ask Douglas about history. You have to be aware of history as a president, and I think the Obamas were very aware of how history was going to judge them and how this would look as the first step.
[22:35:00] DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, they were very aware and as you said, I think they were very conscious about how they presented themselves as an African-American family. I mean, if you go back and look at some of their Christmas photos, you can go on the White House Flicker and look at them, they looked like a Norman Rockwell painting.
But the fact that it's an African-American family sends out a message, at a very positive message to the entire country and the entire world. And they cultivated that.
LEMON: Yes. And his -- every president, I think their early days define you. Then the middle days and your last days but really you have to be careful about your early days, David Chalian.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you do. Because I think you're right. That it is -- it's a definition...
LEMON: It sets the tone from where you're going.
CHALIAN: Exactly. And so, if you stumble out of the gate and you can't get a victory up there, that sets you behind. And quite frankly, that's why Donald Trump coming in actually has this extra burden now because he's not coming in with the wind at his back and a honeymoon.
He's coming in with a really divided country and a low approval rating because he squandered this opportunity in the transition. And so now his job is not so much -- let me take all that goodwill and do something with it right now, instead let me take this position now and prove to you I belong here. That the task is immediately on him to prove back to the country that he can be a good president.
LEMON: What about Obamacare? What about Obamacare? Because Matt Lewis I think makes a good point that the only reason that we, as country, and our lawmakers are able to have this discussion about the government providing health care for people is because Obamacare passed. Whether you like it or not it's a good plan or not, it's a good legislation or not we're having this conversation in large part because of Obamacare. GERGEN: I think that's absolutely true. I do not believe the
republicans would have its much urgency about providing a national health care plan where if not for the fact that Obamacare is in place. And they want to get rid of it but there are also a lot of people who now want to, you know, not want to keep it as they look at the alternatives.
But I want to go back to this point, I think -- I think the challenge tomorrow, David, may be this, and that is he needs to give a speech which is uniting, right, it reaches out to all Americans. But then and later in the afternoon he's going to go back and sign -- start signing executive orders and start signing things to carry out his pledges and some of those are going to be highly controversial.
Reuters has reported tonight, Don, that the president tomorrow or the next of couple of days is essentially going to phase out the DREAMERS program, the DACA program. That is enormously stressful within college campuses across this country.
There is 750,000 young people here who came here when they were very young from other countries with undocumented parents, and if they get sort of thrown out here, it's going to be a big, big deal if he does that.
GERGEN: And you got other things like moving the embassy to Jerusalem, he's saying that he's going to do that again.
LEMON: It's going to be -- that's going to be the last. I'm sorry. I got to the break. You can blame the other 20 people on the panel. But thank you all. I really appreciate it.
Up next, a big moment for Donald Trump supporters. We're going to talk about that. Do they like what they see with only hours to go until his inauguration? And also there's the motorcade, Donald Trump's motorcade of course leaving the Union Station.
And I worry he had a rally for supporters and it's actually right behind us, and you can -- we can look behind us in this big picture window and see the motorcade going past the capitol here in Washington, D.D.
Donald Trump will be President in less than 14 hours. He'll be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, making his way through Washington, D.C., back to Blair House. We'll be right back.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We're back now live from Washington, D.C. Donald Trump's motorcade just passed us here on Constitution Avenue. Donald Trump just hours away from being sworn in as 45th President of the United States and his voters are feeling pretty darn good tonight.
Let's discuss now with CNN contributor, Salena Zito, J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a Memoir of Family and Culture and Crisis," who I saw on our morning show, he's been up very early, and CNN contributor, Larry Noble. You guys may have been up early but I didn't see you this morning so I don't know for sure.
SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: I was on at 4.
LEMON: Oh, my goodness. So, thank you troopers. Thank you guys so much for joining us. So, tomorrow is the big day. You've been out speaking to Trump supporters.
LEMON: How are they feeling, are they excited? What's going on?
ZITO: I saw a wide variety of people, I saw families, I saw this choir group break out in acapella singing America the Beautiful, it was really kind of moving. You know, like this young people. I even talk to people that didn't support him but came in from their towns.
This gentleman from Erie and his wife. They did not -- he's African- American, he did not support Trump but he felt -- and he runs a youth group. He felt that he wanted to send the right message home by coming, experiencing it, and bringing couple of kids with him and let them see, you know, moving forward. So, where are some of the areas where you can move forward?
LEMON: I think it was interesting that you say that. Because I saw -- I spoke to some people tonight as I was on the street, who were not Trump supporters and some of them had their hotel rooms because they are Hillary Clinton supporters but they are here for the inauguration because they want to see...
ZITO: That's great.
LEMON: ... the transition of power.
ZITO: And that's really good.
ZITO: That's great for the country. I think there's more people that believe that -- you know, want it -- want it to be positive, even if they have their own personal resentments.
ZITO: That you always want the country to do better.
LEMON: Yes. So, let's talk about some of the people, J.D., who are -- who may not have been Donald Trump supporters and some people who came to him. Wall Street Journal talked to Michigan lawyer, the Michigan lawyer who came to Trump late in the game. And she said, she had some second thoughts.
She says, "I'm hoping that Trump begins to speak and act like the intelligent businessman that I'm sure he is, I'm hoping he stops tweeting like a 13-year-old boy and starts acting like an adult."
And if you look at, if you speak to Trump supporters they'll tell you the same thing. I like the guy, I think he's original, he's not from Washington. He's not a politician. But I want him to grow up and act like an adult and I want him to stop tweeting. Is that a red flag for Donald Trump?
[22:44:55] J.D. VANCE, "HILLBILLY ELEGY" AUTHOR: Well, I think it could be a red flag if he continues to tweet and continues to do some of the things that he's been doing. But you know, I always think that folks are going to give a pretty long leash, right. So, these folks they don't like the tweeting but they are going to stick by their man for now.
And my suspicion is that it's going to take a long time for that sort of behavior to really wear thin with some of his core voters.
LEMON: I wonder how it sits with his voters, Larry, that he's a businessman, he's chosen a number of billionaire business people for his cabinet. And people are OK with that?
LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's a really good question. I mean, he ran on the idea of draining the swamp and yet he has nominated billionaires, business people, people who you would think of as the denizens of the swamp.
So, it's a good question about how his supporters are going to react, especially when we start seeing proposals coming out of various agencies, when we start seeing a deregulatory effort. If looks like they are really trying to help their own interests, then I think people are going to have a negative issue.
LEMON: Do you see ethics issues with Donald Trump cabinet nominees?
NOBLE: Yes, we see a number of ethics issues with his nominees. Starting with Scott Pruitt, who is the Attorney General of Oklahoma and who is going to running the EPA and has spearheaded the lawsuits against the EPA which are still ongoing. And right now, he will be the head of an agency where he will get to settle the lawsuits.
Now he has an ethics agreement with Office of the Government Ethics that does require him for a year to stay out of these but he can ask for a waiver and come after a year.
NOBLE: That most people won't accept in a business, that somebody would come in from the other side of the case.
NOBLE: And be able to control it. LEMON: I want to play this. This is Tom Barrack who is the Chairman of Donald Trump's inaugural committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BARRACK, PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: If you look at the cabinet selections. I mean, people criticizing saying it's all billionaires or it's only successful people. And I say would you like him to have unsuccessful people, right? If we're having cardiac surgery, you go to the best cardiac surgeon in the world or going into a war you would prefer to have a general, you'd prefer to have General Mattis than a West Point cadet. And that's what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I mean, that may be true but in other cases these people have very little government experience or no government experience, especially in the particular cabinet area where they're supposed to be experts. What do you think of these cabinet picks?
ZITO: Well, I think that's part of the appeal, that they don't have government experience. So, when you say drain the swamp and you say, well, you know, there's billionaires, but people don't think the same way that we do. They think that just because you're a billionaire doesn't mean you're part of the Washington establishment. You are successful outside of Washington, you are successful in your own business, and so they look at these people like he just said as experts.
LEMON: But they are also part of the Wall Street that he rallied against. Especially Goldman Sachs because some of them are from Goldman Sachs and he really hit them hard.
ZITO: Yes. But the swamp part for people as I understood it during the election was Washington, the bureaucracy, that was the -- that's what the crux of it for them.
VANCE: I think there's a real difference between people who take advantage of the unfair rules and the unfair rules themselves. And the sense that I've always gotten from Trump's core voters is that they're not so mad of the billionaires who are taking advantage of the rules. They're mad that the rules exist in the first place.
VANCE: So, it's not we're mad at you because you're swearing money in Cayman offshore accounts. We're mad that it's legal to store that money in the first place.
LEMON: Or as we say, as the old saying, don't hate the player, hate the game.
NOBLE: But a lot of these rules exist because these people or their companies lobbied for these rules.
NOBLE: They wanted these rules in place.
LEMON: Yes. And actually he talked about Price, also Steve Mnuchin who failed to disclose, you know, a million dollar assets and he has other issues, an investment fund in the Cayman island, and so on. And that's also one of his choices.
We're going to continue to discuss this right after this break. Don't go anywhere.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: It is such a beautiful evening here in Washington. Look at that capitol, right, isn't amazing?
ZITO: So gorgeous.
LEMON: I'm back now with my panel, Salena Zito, J.D. Vance, and Larry Noble. And we're discussing the president-elect's cabinet picks among other things. Again, I can't get over that shot. It's just really o gorgeous.
So, before we went to break I was talking about, J.D. I was talking about Steven Mnuchin. So, he, Donald Trump has one of the very wealthy people -- one of the very wealthiest people in the world for his cabinet. Steve Mnuchin, his treasury secretary pick failed to disclose $100 million as an assets this paperwork to the Senate, also failed to mention, as I mentioned before the break, an investment fund in the Cayman Islands, which is a well-known tax haven.
Chuck Schumer said this about it. Watch this. I'm sorry. He didn't Let me read this. He says, "Mr. Mnuchin failure to disclose his Cayman Island holdings just weeks of the swamp that the president-elect promised to drain on the campaign trail." Do you agree with that, and do you think his supporters are going to see it that way?
VANCE: Well, it definitely doesn't look bad. The fact that he failed to disclose the stuff. My suspicion is that it was a mistake. I mean, it's not like someone else discovered that he failed to disclose this stuff. He came back and honestly said this is the stuff that I forgot to disclose. But I mean, the optics are pretty terrible.
And my suspicion is that folks are going to take a look at it. They're not going to be especially happy about it. But given just where we are in the political cycle I doubt that Donald Trump supporters are going to rise and try to, you know, reverse the appointment of Steve Mnuchin. LEMON: Do you think it's an honest oversight and is that something
that people should think about before being appointed to the government?
NOBLE: I think it is something they need to think about. I don't know if it was an honest oversight. He did say that the forms are complicated, they're hard to fill out. If you feel that way, maybe you don't want to be secretary of the treasury because it's complicated position.
But it does show that an attitude towards government I'm afraid that it doesn't take it seriously, he doesn't these issues, these ethics rules seriously and figures like they can just talk my way out of it. And that's problem. So, I think, you know, I think the voters the public may give him some leeway at the beginning, but if this is the attitude he's bring to the job you have to be really concerned. And it falls to a lot of the cabinet appointees.
NOBLE: This attitude of I'm from business therefore I can do government. That's not necessarily true. Government and business are two different things.
[22:55:03] LEMON: Yes. And just, you know, when you are saying earlier that, you know, just because you are not of Washington, you're not an expert. They want people not expert. But that doesn't always work out. In some instances it might.
But there are -- speaking of Steve Mnuchin there are a lot of anecdotes out there about people whose homes are foreclosed on by Mnuchin's bank. I think there is one woman of the 90-year-old woman was sued by Mnuchin's bank after she was 27 cents short on her mortgage payment.
LEMON: How does the story play in Trump country?
ZITO: He went into great detail about that during the hearings. That was this morning. This morning, we went into great detail about how he, you know, he tried to work with I think it was HUD, I'm not sure, I think it was HUD. And you know, they were going to fine him if he tried to pursue and sort of negate those fines on -- I mean, he was explaining like there were fines there for like $1.08 and 27 cents.
I mean, this again, it doesn't -- the optics do not help. Does that -- does that hurt him get in. No.
ZITO: He's going to get in. but I will say that I think that if you're going to be in the minority, I think Chuck Schumer is having the best time ever. I've never seen anyone sort of enjoy and relish -- and he's doing a great job as a minority leader, in sharply defining what the progressive agenda is, and sharply nicking Trump's nominees.
LEMON: But regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump or democrat or republican it's good that tough questions are asked...
ZITO: Yes, for sure.
LEMON: ... for people who are going to be serving us as American people. And to vet them as Donald Trump says extreme vetting. This is all fit together.
ZITO: Yes, absolutely.
LEMON: Thank you very much, panel.
LEMON: I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)