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State of the Union

Trump Meets With Romney; Interview With Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan; Interview With Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; Romney Meets With Donald Trump; New National Security Adviser: Islam Is Like Cancer; The Cast of "Hamilton" Delivers Message To Mike Pence. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 20, 2016 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Secretary of State Mitt Romney?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look forward to the coming administration.

TAPPER: Trump reaches out to a bitter rival.

ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Mitt Romney let us down. He failed. He choked.

TAPPER: After a week of naming loyal hard-liners to top posts, what kind of government are we really going to get? Newly named White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is here.

Plus, Broadway boos. Mike Pence's night on the town ends with a plea from the cast of "Hamilton."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.

TAPPER: Earning applause from the audience and a scolding from president-elect Trump. Is this a real issue or just a weapon of mass distraction?

And stronger together? Bernie Sanders says he can find common ground with Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: If Mr. Trump has the guts to stand up to those corporations, he will have an ally with me.

TAPPER: As some Democrats plan a revolt against the leadership who got them here, can this man Nancy Pelosi? He will be here live.

Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights on what happens next.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is behind closed doors.

President-elect Trump is spending the weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey meeting with potential picks for his Cabinet.

Among those stopping by, one-time bitter foe Mitt Romney, who is now, we're told, being considered for secretary of state. Mr. Trump characterized their meeting as -- quote -- "extremely positive and productive."

Also making an appearance today, the new leading contender for defense secretary -- yesterday, rather -- General James Mattis. The retired four-star general and seasoned combat commander is widely respected.


TRUMP: All I can say, he's the real deal. He's the real deal.

Thank you, James. Thank you.


TAPPER: Advising president-elect Trump as he builds his Cabinet is incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who joins me from Bedminster, New Jersey.

Good morning, Reince.


TAPPER: So, let me start with Trump University; 7,000 people sued Mr. Trump, alleging that they were defrauded. Mr. Trump said he would never settle.

But, on Friday, without acknowledging any wrongdoing or fault, Mr. Trump paid them $25 million to settle the case.

Now just a few weeks ago on this network, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was suggesting that Bill Clinton's $850,000 settlement in the Paula Jones case suggested that he was guilty.

How is this settlement any different?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, it's a civil matter. But let's go back to where we're at on this operation.

Back on Wednesday morning, Jake, the president-elect made a call to all Americans to come together, to -- no matter who you are, your race, your gender, your ethnic background. He wants to make you proud of this country. He wants to lead and bring people together. You saw yesterday, with Mitt Romney coming in, people Ted Cruz a day earlier, the best and the brightest he's talking to. And all of that history, he wants to put behind him and lead for all Americans.

The Trump University issue is in the same vein, that, you know, when the presidency hits you, and it's at your front door, and you realize that you're president of the United States for all Americans, there are some things that are important to you and some things that you just decide, look, let's move on. We're not admitting wrongdoing. And let's just start leading this country without distraction. That's what you're seeing.

And I think that Americans should look at this as a real positive sign about what kind of great president he is going to be and how he wants to lead this country.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, about leading this country without distraction.

Last week, I had a lot of questions for Rudy Giuliani, a top Trump adviser, about the potential conflicts of interest that the president will face if he does not put all his assets into a blind trust. And I was told by Mr. Giuliani not to worry, because the adult Trump children will run the business and they'll stay out of government.

But, since then, Mr. Trump met with the prime minister of Japan. And his daughter, Ivanka, one of the people running his businesses, was there. In addition, "The Washington Post" reported that the Trump Hotel in D.C. is pushing itself onto foreign diplomats. And we also learned that the president-elect met with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai, all of this in the last week.

As White House -- White House chief of staff, you're supposed to look out for any political or ethical mine fields. Is it seriously the position of the Trump transition team that this is not a huge cauldron of potential conflicts of interest?

PRIEBUS: No, I think look -- it -- Donald Trump has been very clear from the very beginning that his family is very important to him.


And I think that while it's unique, it's certainly compliant with the law. And, obviously, we will comply with all of those laws, and we will have our White House counsel review all of these things, and we will every I dotted and every T crossed, and I can assure the American people that there wouldn't be any wrongdoing, or any sort of undue influence over any decision-making.

The truth of the matter is -- and I can just tell you this even from the four days that -- or five days or so that I've been in a different role -- Donald Trump makes the decisions in this operation.

And while there are meetings that place, it's Donald Trump that makes the decisions, and nothing should be further from the truth. And so I can assure you and everyone out there that all of these things will be followed and they'll be done properly.

TAPPER: During the campaign, you put out a statement saying that the Clinton Foundation represents a -- quote -- "pay-to-play culture that would be on full display should Hillary Clinton be elected president."

Are you at all concerned that Mr. Trump now could be depicted at somebody engaged in pay-to-play politics?

PRIEBUS: No, not at all, Jake. I mean, we've been at this for a few days. I mean, this is ridiculous.

Let's just kind of a take a deep breath. Let's look at what's going on. He made the call to bring all Americans together. He then met with many, many people from all walks of life, Safra Catz, General Mattis, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney. The list goes on and on.

The point is, what Americans should see from president-elect Trump is someone who, by deed and action, from the moment he was declared the winner, he was on a mission to bring everyone together. That, to me, is what we should be celebrating. I think people should be encouraged by what they see.

And I think it's a really positive sign for the future of our country.

TAPPER: Let's talk to Mr. Trump's pick for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Democrats have criticized his record on civil rights issues and comments he allegedly made, though he denies it, about race years ago.

I want to ask you a policy-related question about Attorney General Sessions, should he be confirmed. Under Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Justice Department has looked into local police departments, and their investigations found examples of systemic racism. And the Justice Department mandated reforms.

Now, Senator Sessions has called such interventions an abuse of federal authority. Does that mean that, under Attorney General Sessions, there will not be these kinds of investigations and federally mandated reforms of local police departments?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I mean, this -- it's a good question for Senator Sessions.

Let me just hit this issue that you brought up initially, something he denies 30 years ago. Let's look at this man's life. I sure wish that people would judge me on my entire my life, and I know that you and others out there watching wish the same.

He started out his political career fighting George Wallace. He served an incredible career as a U.S. attorney, attorney general, filing one desegregation lawsuit after the next. He prosecuted that person that was alleged to -- in this -- in this story for the murder. He then presided over the execution of this person.

He voted for Eric Holder. He fought for a Congressional Gold Medal for Rosa Parks. This is an honorable, decent, good human being that we're talking about.

I can assure you that, if there's wrongdoing out there, whether it's on the streets or whether it's on -- in the police department, no matter where it is, Senator Jeff Sessions is going to find it and bring justice to whoever justice need to be brought to.

TAPPER: I guess my question -- I don't want to get into a whole issue about -- there's going to be confirmation hearings that examine all that.

But he has called these interventions by the Justice Department into local police departments, he's called them intrusive. And I'm just wondering, for people out there who believe that there are issues with systemic racism in some police departments, with some police officers, not all, I'm wondering if they should expect that the Sessions Justice Department will not look into the behavior of local police departments.

PRIEBUS: Well, of course not.

I mean, there is, in fact, systemic racism, then I'm certain that he would. But I'm sure there's also cases where there have been intrusive investigations.

Look, this is something for him to answer, but I can assure you that where wrongdoing is taking place, the Trump administration, along with, I'm sure, the soon-to-be attorney general, will look into it.

TAPPER: Let's go to your pick for -- or president-elect Trump's pick for national security adviser, General Michael Flynn.

Take a look at what he tweeted back in February -- quote -- "Fear of Muslims is rational. Please forward this others. The truth fears no questions."

Is that the official policy of the Trump administration, that fear of Muslims is rational?


PRIEBUS: Look, I think, in some cases, there are radical members of a -- of that religion that need to be dealt with, but certainly we make it clear that that's not a blanket statement for everyone. And that's how we're going to lead.

I mean, these are -- when you think about the immigration policy in that regard, what president-elect Trump has said is that where systematic terrorism is taking place, where countries are harboring or in places where countries are harboring and training terrorists, we're going to temporarily suspend that immigration from that country or region until a better vetting system is put in place.

This is similar to many bills that are right now sitting in the House and the Senate that either can't press or the president won't sign. So, our policies are going to be very similar to the policies that are in place, that are ready to get passed, and what president-elect Trump has already articulated.

TAPPER: I guess -- I mean, I don't think anybody would dispute that fear of radical Islamic terrorists is rational, but that's not what the national security adviser said. He said fear of Muslims is rational.

And, as you know, national security experts discourage that kind of broad, sweeping, generalized language, because these national security experts, Democrats and Republicans, say it's used by organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS to recruit terrorists.

Do you worry at all?

PRIEBUS: And president...

TAPPER: Go ahead.

PRIEBUS: And president-elect Trump's opinion is that there are some people within that particular religion that are -- that we do fear.

But he also has made it very clear that we don't believe in religious tests and that we are not blanketly judging an entire religion, but, in fact, we will try to pinpoint the problems and temporarily suspend those areas from -- in coming into the United States until a better vetting system is in place.

That's what we're going to do. That's what the president-elect believes.

TAPPER: Let's turn to sanctuary cities. The city of Los Angeles is home to about half-a-million undocumented immigrants.

The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department said that he will not cooperate with federal agents when it comes to deporting them. And Mr. Trump has promised to -- quote -- "cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities."

The city of Los Angeles got $500 million from the federal government last year. Will that money be cut? And when will that happen? Day one?

PRIEBUS: Well, that's something for the new administration to decide and something that we're going to all be working on and looking into.

But I will say, as a general matter, I totally agree that sanctuary cities -- I mean, the idea that a city would decide to ignore federal law, and then want the federal government to help them anyway, is an inconsistent position for those local governments to continue to engage in.

And so I think this is a matter of negotiation. I think it's something that the Trump administration, myself and others included that are the appropriate levels of government, will deal with.

But, certainly, I can't imagine that too many Americans are watching this and thinking that it's a good idea for a city to allow for blanket amnesty, ignoring federal law, and then saying, now give me $500 million.

No, that's not the way life works. And I think that the Trump administration is going to explore this issue and I think resolve some of these major problems happening all across the country.

TAPPER: Well, let's be more specific with some of these individuals. Under President Obama, 750,000 so-called dreamers, young people who were brought into the United States illegally when they were children, so through no fault of their own, President Obama shielded them from deportation and gave them work permits.

Mr. Trump's immigration plan says that that executive action will be terminated immediately.

What happens to those individuals? Are they going to be -- about 750,000 brought into the country when they were children, illegally, but again not by them -- not on their own volition, will they be stripped of their protected status?

PRIEBUS: Look, I think it been very clear this president is going to do a couple things first.

First, what he is going to do is start working on legislation to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States, number one, to secure the border. I think everyone understands that. And, quite frankly, most people agree that we need to secure our border and protect Americans all across our country.

Secondly, he has said that we are going to do our best, and get the best and brightest people together to remove the criminal elements from our prison system and folks that need to be removed from our country that shouldn't be here anyway and are people that are not good people.

But, thirdly, what he's also made clear is that, after all those things are done, he will then look at what we are going to do and how we're going to deal with the fact that there are -- millions and millions of people are here that aren't bad people, and, in many cases, brought here by their parents when they were little.


But that's a subject that's going to come up after those first two things are taken care of. And I just reiterate that, because that's the position of president-elect Trump.

TAPPER: Reince Priebus, incoming White House chief of staff, that's all the time we have.

Thank you so much for your time, sir.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

TAPPER: The calls for Nancy Pelosi to step down, they're coming from inside the House, an uprising on Capitol Hill, as Pelosi's power is threatened by one of her fellow Democrats. Her challenger will be here next live.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Still smarting from their unexpected losses, some Democrats are angry with President Obama for extending his hand to president-elect Trump to ensure a smooth transition of power.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy can be frustrating, because democracy means that you don't always get 100 percent of what you want.

Democracy means that, sometimes, you have to compromise. And it means that the outcomes of elections don't always turn out the way you would hope.


TAPPER: The outcome of this election certainly did not turn out the way Democrats hoped. And some say it might be time for some heads to roll.


Now, does that include the head of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California? She has led House Democrats for nearly a decade. Her challenger for the role of House minority leader is here with me, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

So, you're challenging Pelosi for House Democratic leader. And you say that you think the Democratic Party cannot win back the majority with its current leadership. And you say the party needs an economic message, a deep economic message.

I don't really understand what the message is in terms of how it might differ from what we have heard from Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton.

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: Well, I think we were talking a lot about issues that were not deeply economic. And I think that provided a huge opening for Donald Trump to come in. And that led to the disaster that happened on Tuesday.

TAPPER: Well, what were the Democrats talking about too much and what were they not talking about enough?

RYAN: Well, I think, from the House of Representatives side, if you go and look back to the month or two or three before we even left to come home to campaign, we were talking about things like the Zika virus and other issues.

I'm for increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control. Of course we need to fund that and we need to help deal with the Zika virus. But that's not a deep economic message that's a national message. That's a message in a couple of regions in the country.

And I think things like that throw us off track. We need a brand as a party that says we're the party that are going to help working-class people, white people, black people, brown people, gay people, straight people, improve opportunity for them to grow their wages, to have security, economic security.

And we got off that message. And when we don't talk about economics, we lose elections.

TAPPER: So, I did hear Hillary Clinton talk about raising the minimum wage. And I did hear her talk about an infrastructure bill. And I did hear her talk about a lot of these issues that you're referring to. You are just saying that people in Ohio didn't hear it enough?

RYAN: Obviously, there was a lot of noise through it.

But here's the deal. We have to talk about moving forward. I can't in good conscience hang this election around Nancy Pelosi's neck, of course. But, moving forward, we have to win congressional seats in areas of the country that voted for Donald Trump, even in my district, where they voted for me and they voted for Donald Trump.

So, I think I'm uniquely qualified, because I know who these people are. And some of them are friends of mine, neighbors of mine who voted for me and voted for Donald Trump. We have to get those people back into the fold.

And, as I told my colleagues, I just -- I know in my heart that we cannot win the House back under the current leadership. It is time for a change. The American people asked us to make a change here. And we have got to do it.

And it's not easy. We're in the middle of a family fight here. But we got elected to come to the United States Congress. There's only been 10,000 members of Congress in the history of our country, Jake, 10,000. Wearing this pin is an honor. And with that comes the opportunity to have to make some really tough decisions. And, sometimes, they are family decisions.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you about a tough decision.

RYAN: But we have got to -- we have got to move in another direction.

TAPPER: Considering that your district went for you and for Donald Trump, let me ask you, do you think that House Democrats and Senate Democrats should try to cooperate with Donald Trump and work with him on issues where there might be some common ground, like, for instance, infrastructure, theoretically, or do you think that Democrats should be an opposition party that tries to stop him?

RYAN: Let me say, if he tries to defund Planned Parenthood, if he tries to kick people off their health insurance, if they try to privatize Medicare or cut taxes for the wealthy, you know, we are going to have a Youngstown street fight in the Capitol. That's what is going to happen.

If he has other opportunities where we can grow the economy, where we can invest in the working-class people, knowing that a third of working-class people are people of color, so this is our broad coalition, then we will look for places to work with him.

But, as I'm reading about his infrastructure bill in the last couple of days, it looks like a bunch of smoke and mirrors and some corporate giveaways. And if that's what it looks like, then he's going to have a fight on his hands.

TAPPER: There's another fight going on, which is for the DNC chair position. Your colleague Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, has picked up the support of Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.

I want to you take a listen to what Congressman Ellison had to say about guns in 2014.


BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Then why doesn't your party come out against the Second Amendment?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Bill, I sure wish they would. I sure wish they would.

MAHER: Really?


MAHER: Because I never hear anybody in the Democratic Party say that.


TAPPER: So, that's your candidate for -- a candidate for DNC chair saying that he sure wishes the Democratic Party would come out against the Second Amendment. Is that the appropriate leadership for the DNC?

RYAN: Well, that's not my decision entirely to make. I really don't have a horse in that fight. And so the DNC members are going to have to make that decision. Ultimately, that...

TAPPER: But you want to lead the Democratic Party in the House. Don't -- you must have a position.

RYAN: That's -- that's not my position.

My position on guns and gun violence is not to get rid of the Second Amendment. We need people who can -- who are sportsmen and can hunt and fish. We need to have background checks. We need to close the gun show loophole. We need to make sure terrorists don't have guns. And we need to close the Charleston loophole. Those are the things we are pushing.

[09:25:10] And I was on the House floor when we were having this sit-in on guns. I think that's an important discussion we need to have, but not to give away the Second Amendment. I don't think that's appropriate.

But on the issue of gun violence, why do we have violence in our inner cities? It's economics. We -- it's poverty issues. This economic message should drive everything we talk about as Democrats.

Poverty, middle-class wages, gun violence, things that happen in rural America, these are economic issues that the Democratic Party has lost its way. And if we want these Trump voters to come back, we need to start talking about these bread-and-butter, fundamental issues that make us Democrats.

TAPPER: Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

RYAN: Thanks.

TAPPER: Coming up: Team of rivals? Donald Trump meets with Mitt Romney. Will he ask him to serve as secretary of state?

That story next.




ROMNEY: We had a far reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance. We discussed those areas and exchanged our views on those topics. Very thorough and in depth discussion in the time we had. And appreciate the chance to speak with the president-elect and look forward to the coming administration.


TAPPER: Scenes from Earth II. That was Mitt Romney after his meeting with Donald Trump sounding an awfully like someone who's considering taking a role in president-elect Trump's new administration. So is this the real deal or is it a head fake?

Here with me to discuss it all is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. Also with us CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers and Republican Congresswoman Diane Black of Tennessee. Great to have all of you here. Thanks for being here.

Is this the real deal? Is Mitt Romney really being considered to be secretary of state?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I think so. I think -- listen Donald Trump is not going take the time to bring somebody up to do that interview process. That's what we've learned over certainly over the last eight days or so if he's not at least under serious consideration. And I think that's great.

This is kind of that team of rivals that I think can make for really good government. He's trying to find the right people that fit with the direction he wants to go. I think Mitt Romney would be great in that role.

TAPPER: I mean, you fought Mitt Romney bitterly when he was running for president. But I sense in this new world you would like Mitt Romney at the State Department, am I wrong?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: In this new world I would love Mitt Romney at the State Department. I think he would be a consummate diplomat. He can come up to speed on foreign policy issues but I think it's a total head fake.

I think this is Donald Trump still being the entertainer, still running a show where he wants to build suspense. He alone knows who the contestant will be, the winner. And I this is more of a nod to give the appearance of bringing people together but I'd be very surprised if he chooses Romney.

TAPPER: So, congresswoman let me ask you Mitt Romney and Donald Trump have very different positions on, for example, Russia.

Romney has been very outspoken. In fact he was ridiculed by Democrats and he turned out to be have been correct when he said that Russia was our number one geopolitical foe back in 2012. Say the least president-elect Trump has a different take on Putin and Russia. Can people who disagree so much on issues having to do with the job like secretary of state, can they work together?

REP. DIANE BLACK (R), TENNESSEE: I think I'm going to listen to what president-elect Trump has said is that he wants all voices and he wants to bring America together. And I think we ought to applaud the fact he's bringing in people that maybe he had a different opinion, but he is wanting that to come to his administration.

And I think as Mike Rogers says he's very smart like Lincoln did in the team of rivals and I applaud that. Like Mike I don't think he'll bring somebody to Trump Tower and spend and an hour and a half with him if he doesn't have a serious consideration of bringing him into the fold of the difference of opinion.

TAPPER: Bakari, your home state governor Nikki Haley also made a trip to Trump Tower and we were also told that she might be considered for secretary of state. Do you think that she's being considered for something?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I would think so. Eight years ago Nikki Haley and I were sitting at desks beside each other talking about issues that were near and dear to the hearts of South Carolinians. We weren't talking about nearly the issues that would affect someone as being secretary of state or anything of that nature and experiences of question. But what we've seen in the cabinet choices so far outside of chief of staff Priebus -- but you have Steve Bannon. You have Michael Flynn. You have Jeff Sessions. You've had these very divisive figures. If he were to nominate or choose someone like a Mike Rogers or like a Nikki Haley or like a Mitt Romney then I think that people could take what Congresswoman Black was saying to heart that he's attempting to bring this country together.

One thing I can say about Nikki Haley is we're going to disagree about policy from here until the end of time but she's at least the statesman. There had been three appointments that Donald Trump has made which have proven to be nothing but divisive in this country. And again I'll reiterate those names. It's Bannon. It's Flynn. It's Sessions. You cannot sit here and say wholehearted that you want to bring the country together but then nominate those three.

TAPPER: Let's talk about Mike Flynn.

Here is the general speaking about Islam. He has made some controversial comments, some would say bigoted about the religion. Take a listen.


LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, INCOMING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion. It's like cancer. And I've gone through cancer in my own life. And so it's like cancer. And it's like a -- it's like a malignant cancer though in this case and has metastasized.


TAPPER: A lot of the reasons and you know this from your days with the FBI and also on the House Intelligence Committee a lot of the reasons why people in the Bush administration and the Obama administration say, don't talk that way about religion, not only because it's not true it's because it emboldens enemy and gives them propaganda material.


What do you think when you hear that?

ROGERS: Well, two parts of that. I wasn't sure of the first part because there are a group of scholars that believe ISIS and those like ISIS are using the political context for Islam to do what they do including beheadings and other things which is entirely wrong.


ROGERS: The other part of that is we do need our Arab partners. We need our Sunni Arab partners. We need Shiite Arab partners to help get a handle on this extremism in Islam. They're the ones that are going to help us do it. Leaders like el-Sisi of Egypt who had come out and said we need to have a reformation in Islam to try to fix those problems. So there's a combination of this.

I would be careful. I believe he was talking about ISIS. I don't know that for a fact. If he was there's lots of scholarly research and development on the fact that that's what they believe, those ISIS who are out liars in the religion of Islam believe that that's true.

Now we just need to make sure that all of the other Arab -- like I just said our Muslim partners in the United States and overseas that we can band together and come together to make sure that we all can defeat what is the this group of people who are pretty vicious and believe it's a political system in their own right.

TAPPER: Congressman, defenders of Flynn say, look there is a problem in Islam. Obviously 1.6 billion Muslims are not the problem but there is a problem in Islam. Why is taking that on a problem?

SCHIFF: Taking on al Qaeda and ISIS and those who would pervert the faith of Islam is not a problem but what Flynn does is a tremendous problem because it plays right into the al Qaeda and ISIS narrative that there's a clash of civilizations that's Islam against the west. That is deeply destructive. It's going to alienate our allies and it's just plain wrong.

That clip demonstrates why a lot of people I think throughout the I.C. have real problems with Flynn. He has a reputation for saying things that are counterproductive, being a hot head and divisive. Qualities you don't want in a national security adviser who's supposed to bring together the professionals and the National Security Council, the secretary of state and defense, and reaching decisions often under very challenging time constrained important crises, that is not the kind of personality or vision you want in that position.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the nomination of another individual Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986 and Democrats in the Senate blocked the appointment. Here is what senator, I guess he was then U.S. Attorney Session had to say back then, 1986.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks. I've supported civil rights activity in my state.


TAPPER: There are instances that Sessions' supporters turn to where he did enforce civil rights laws and he fought segregation and he prosecuted the Klan.

SELLERS: Well, he did his job of prosecuting the Klan but let's talk about the fact that, one, Jeff Sessions is not a racist. I can flat out say that. That's fine. I don't really think that matters for this discussion. What does matter is his record.

When you look at someone like Albert Turner -- Albert Turner was actually there at the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. He was actually beaten. We look at Albert Turner he actually carried the horse drawn mule of Martin Luther King after he was assassinated.

Do you know what Jeff Sessions did when he was the United States Attorney? He prosecuted him for voter fraud for registering black voters. That's a part of his record. Jeff Sessions says that you should not take the confederate flag down off state property. That's a part of his record. Jeff Sessions on the floor of the United States Senate said the Dominican -- that the immigrants from the Dominican Republic don't bring any talent or skills to the United States. That's a part of his record.

So I love how Reince Priebus and other Republicans are now trying to rehabilitate his image especially when it comes to civil rights and making not to be some type of civil rights champion. But the fact is this Jeff. When you talk about his record of desegregation it's very thin.

Let me tell you who Jeff Sessions is not. Jeff Sessions is not moving bridges. Jeff Sessions is not J.A. Delane. Jeff Sessions is not Thurgood Marshall. Jeff Sessions is not some champion for civil rights. He has a very, very troublesome record that makes most people who are vulnerable feel trepidation.

TAPPER: Congresswoman.

BLACK: Listen, the Senate is going to have an opportunity to be able to fully back him and we'll see what they have to say. But I think, once again there are pieces that people want to pick out and say let's look at this and turn it and twist (ph) it (ph). Let's give him an opportunity to have a full hearing in the Senate.

He has done some good things as has already been said. With the segregation, he filed those lawsuits. He has done a number of really good things and I think that give him a chance to be seen truly of what he has done.

TAPPER: All right. Everybody stay here. We're going to take a very quick break.

Coming up hip-hop but no hooray. The cast of "Hamilton" issuing a plea to Mike Pence about a multi-cultural America. But did the vice president-elect hear them. That's next.




BRANDON VICTOR DIXON, ACTOR: We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.


TAPPER: That was the cast of the Broadway smash hit "Hamilton" with a message for vice president-elect Mike Pence who took in the show Friday night. President-elect Trump fired back via Twitter with four separate tweets including one that he deleted.

This latest one coming this morning reads -- quote -- "the cast and producers of "Hamilton" which I hear is highly overrated should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior."

First off, fact check, it's not overrated.


TAPPER: It's a fantastic and incredibly patriotic show. The behavior of these individuals and the cast notwithstanding or (ph) the president-elect.


Do you think that the cast might have stepped over to line at all?

SELLERS: Not at all.

I mean, look Donald Trump, if you're offended by someone actually speaking their mind and talking about the fact that there are many people in this country, minorities, the vulnerable, many people who have some sense of apprehension, have some sense of worry and simply want you to make sure that you protect our inalienable rights, if you have a problem with that then that is a problem. That is an issue.

And I know that -- all of my friends right here they had the privilege of serving in the United States Congress. Imagine if the United States congressman actually heckle a president of the United States during the State of the Union. That (INAUDIBLE).

I mean, we're actually...

TAPPER: All right. We know that happened. We know that happened. From South Carolina.

SELLERS: From South -- from Joe (INAUDIBLE) Wilson.

TAPPER: Yes. What do you think? Do you think this matters in the heartland of American, in Tennessee where you represent, or does it -- is this just something that is debated on Sunday shows?

BLACK: I think that they should have just let this go.

Look he went there to enjoy himself. He had his family there. Let's have some civility here in this country. If you disagree with someone that's fine to disagree with them but allow him to be able to have a night of just relaxation and enjoy the show. As you say it's a wonderful show. Give him an opportunity. I don't think it was necessary.

TAPPER: What do you think?

SCHIFF: I think it was rude of the audience to boo him particularly with his family but at all I think they should -- could have showed more respect than that. But I think it was perfectly appropriate what the cast did.

It was respectful what they said and I think it would have been much smarter for Mike Pence to say, I hear you. I appreciate you sharing those thoughts. But for the president to be out there again tweeting and it (ph) appears (ph) overrated is his favorite word. We're probably going to hear that word a lot more about anybody criticizes him and that's a terrible mistake. It makes the president look small.

TAPPER: It's also, again, just to reiterate it's not true.


TAPPER: It's really a great show. But you were saying that you think it's regretful because now there will be conservatives who won't go see the show because of this (INAUDIBLE).

ROGERS: I think that's right. You know, listen, I'm old fashioned about my entertainment. I just like to go to be entertained. If I want politics I'll go to a town hall meeting. I'll turn on cable news. There's lots of outlets you can go to get politics even the issues and ideas that you disagree with.

A play for the vice president-elect of the United States who was there with his family to get booed tells you how far gone civility is in America. This outrages me and they knew it -- the cast knew it and then doubled down at the end by deciding they are going to capitalize on (ph) it (ph). Now just wait a minute. I just think it's wrong. This was --

TAPPER: The cast didn't boo just for -- I mean --

ROGERS: My problem with the cast was they knew what the environment was in the hall.

TAPPER: Because they heard the boos.

ROGERS: Then they doubled down at the end. I thought, no, that's not right. This is the vice president-elect of the United States. They should want him to be successful. They should want his family to feel welcome in anywhere they go in the United States like everybody should want to feel welcomed anywhere in the United States. And it starts with a small thing like not booing the vice president-elect of the United States and not having a cast come out and lecture somebody who probably paid 800 bucks to be there.


ROGERS: I hope they give him his money back. SELLERS: Hypocrisy is getting pretty deep around the table here because right now we've seen a president who has been booed, who's been hung in effigy, who literally got heckled from the floor of the United States Congress by one of (INAUDIBLE) caucus members.

ROGERS: Yes. But the members came out and said that was wrong.

SELLERS: But it doesn't matter.


BLACK: ... Bakari (INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: I'm just saying. I mean, this type of do not say all that of a sudden because we're at the brink of going over to incivility because this happened at a play. Imagine when Donald Trump throws the first pitch at a baseball game. Donald Trump wants those boos so loud. So we're not talking about the $25 million Trump U settlement. So we're not talking about that he met with his Indian business partners. And so we're not talking about how Trump International was pushing its rooms that's nobody's in on (INAUDIBLE).

ROGERS: That is why...


ROGERS: ... Bakari. He's always in closing argument mode. (INAUDIBLE).

BLACK: Bakari, one question. If I may jump in here. Bakari, was it wrong when Joe Wilson did what did?

SELLERS: Definitely.

BLACK: Did they hold him accountable?


BLACK: He did. Oh, yes.


SCHIFF (ph): ...disrespectfully during the State of the Union.

BLACK: I'm sorry. If you think that that's disrespectful then this is disrespectful. This is our vice president-elect. This was disrespectful. And I think that we ought to say that on both sides. And I'm with you --

SELLERS: But you know the most amazing part of...


SELLERS: ... the most amazing part about this is Donald Trump actually said that we need a safe space at a theater. I thought that was -- (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: OK. I'm -- it sounds like we could talk about this for the next six hours but I have to stop it right there. Thank you one and all for being here. Great conversations.

What an epic election it was and the drama was all captured in the first-ever book from CNN Politics "Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything." It's in stores December 6. You can pre-order your copy today at

Coming up. Who are the final contestants -- I mean, contenders? What "The Apprentice" might tell us about Trump's potential cabinet picks it's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion." Next.



TAPPER: I don't know if you knew this but before Donald Trump was the president-elect he was a reality T.V. star. "The Apprentice" was the show and it made him famous as a tough boss and it gave us some insights into how he might pick talent. So went back to the video vault to look for clues as he tries to staff his administration and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): President Obama will soon hand over the keys to the White House to president-elect Donald Trump and the press is abuzz with questions about who will join his administration. Trump stoked the drama with a tweet declaring himself -- quote -- "the only one who knows who the finalists are."

The finalists. Remind you of anything?

Perhaps Trump is thinking less about "The Situation Room" and more about the boardroom.


TRUMP: You're hired.

TAPPER: So we looked to "The Apprentice" for clues on how the new cabinet might be chosen.

TRUMP: Getting along with people is very important to success.

TAPPER: He likes to meet face to face.

TRUMP: Family is very important to business.

TAPPER: He likes to have his family around such as in this case son- in-law Jared Kushner who might be a top adviser.

TRUMP: There's nothing worse than disloyalty. If you find a disloyal person get rid of him or her immediately.

TAPPER: And he defers to his family. That might be why Chris Christie who sent Kushner's father to jail years ago is on the outs.

TRUMP: You're fired.

TAPPER: Whoever ultimately makes the cut, it's clear that this is unlikely to be like any White House we have ever seen.

TRUMP: I make life interesting. It's always different. It's always exciting.


TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.