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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  November 13, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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receive his first two top-level intelligence briefings. trump will learn about the nation's most secret intel-gathering programs and u.s. spying operations overseas. but the timing of all of this playing a part in trump's ongoing world right now, the legal woes. his attorneys in the trump university suit, lawsuit, have asked a federal judge to postpone this month's trial until after his inauguration. his attorney's arguing the trial would take time away from trump's "critical and all-consuming" transition process. meanwhile, protests against the president-elect are entering a fifth straight day now. thousands marching in major cities across the u.s., not at all backing down overnight. we'll continue to monitor these demonstrations as they progress throughout the day now. but first, more evidence that donald trump may be waffling on some of his defining campaign promises.
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this morning, house speaker paul ryan told jake tapper that under trump's immigration plan, there will not be any mass deportations. the two of them began their conversation about the nationwide divide some people are feeling in the wake of trump's win. >> there are millions of americans out there, as i'm sure you know, who are, frankly, terrified about what this america under president trump will mean for them. is there anything that you as speaker of the house, one of the leaders of the nation, want to say to them? >> sure. first of all, i hate it that people feel this way. and second of all, they should not. i think people should be rest assured, america is a pluralistic, inclusive country. it is, it has been, and it will continue to be. so, i really think that people should put their minds at ease. we're going to get to work on solving the big country's problems -- getting this economy growing, fixing our national security, you know, fixing our
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health care problems, getting our budget put together. you know, the things that we've been talking about. so, i think people should just really put their minds at ease. we are pluralistic, we're inclusive. that's the kind of country we want, that's the kind of country we are, and that's the country we are still going to have. >> but just to accept and acknowledge that there are these incidents taking place all over the country. >> it's awful. by the way, that's not republicans. we are the party of lincoln. people who espouse those views, they're not republicans, and we don't want them in our party even if they're thinking about it, and i'm confident donald trump feels the same way. so, there's no place for that. and protests, as long as protests are peaceful, if people want to express themselves that way, that's what we can do in this country. that's what the first amendment's all about. >> let's move forward to some of the action items. obviously, repealing and replacing obamacare is one of the big items that preside president-elect trump and you want to tackle. president-elect trump recently said there are elements of obamacare he wanted to keep.
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miss that what he said to "60 minutes." take a listen. >> let me ask you about obamacare, which you say you're going to repeal and replace. when you replace it, are you going to make sure that people with preconditions are still covered? >> yes, because it happens to be one of the strongest assets. >> reporter: now, your better way agenda talks about spending $25 billion on high-risk pools that would help those with pre-existing conditions afford insurance. where would that $25 billion come from? >> well, we actually have it paid for in our bill. you really want me to give you a technical answer with this? it gets little technical. the point is, we have in our plan pay for doing that. here's the bigger point, jake -- we agreed. it's in our plan. donald trump agrees with this. we need to have a solution for people with pre-existing conditions. in our plan is also allowing younger people up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents' plans. so there are aspects that we've all along agreed to.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> all right, this breaking news now into the newsroom. cnn has learned that president-elect donald trump has indeed made a very big decision. he's selected rnc chair reince priebus as his chief of staff. cnn's chief political correspondent dana bash is joining us on the phone. also with us, cnn's chris frates joining us from washington. so first to you, dana. what more are you hearing about why reince priebus and what is the hope as chief of staff? >> reporter: hi, there, fred. first of all, sources tell myself and jim acosta that this is the decision that mr. trump, president-elect trump has settled on and that this is something that he obviously feels the most comfortable with at this point. and you know, on its face, you might say, well, why would somebody who was elected as the ultimate outsider choose
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somebody who has, you know, been a party leader? i mean, he was leader of the party. he was elected by a national committee and then usually by the establishment. and the answer is -- several answers, but one of them is that the two of them have gotten to know each other quite well, particularly during the general election. and even, and especially in the winning weeks of the campaign, reince priebus was around a lot. he was, along with chris christie, led mr. trump's debate prep after the first debate didn't go so well. and maybe more importantly, he has been on the plane and around as president-elect trump ended his campaign and was much more disciplined, obviously to great effect, considering the fact that he is now going to be the 45th president of the united states. so, for that reason, first and foremost, they've gotten to know each other quite well, but also,
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because reince priebus comes from the establishment of the republican party, he can be a bridge to that wing, particularly the republicans who run congress. he is very, very close with house speaker paul ryan. the two of them kind of grew up together in republican politics in wisconsin. so, he can help, you know, kind of lead the trump administration and coordinate with republican leaders on capitol hill, the legislative agenda, which is going to be so crucial for mr. trump, as it is for any president. >> so then, dana, help people understand the importance of a chief of staff, you know, the highest ranking employee within the white house, serving at the pleasure, you know, of the president. he doesn't have to go through any kind of hearings or confirmation, et cetera. >> reporter: that's right. >> but explain the importance of a chief of staff and how this is the right-hand person of the president.
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>> reporter: so, the chief of staff is kind of a combination of gatekeeper, meaning the person who is going to decide who gets to see the president, what papers the president gets to see, is usually the person who when that 3:00 a.m. phone call happens, when there's a national or international incident, the person to call the president and tell them that. but the chief of staff is also kind of the conductor on a very, very busy train track and keeps all those trains running on time and staying on the right track. in the white house and even more broadly in the administration, which is obviously far greater and more vast than just the white house and the complex itself. so, it's those two, and then also it is somebody who is a sounding board for the president, is somebody who is, as i said, is somebody who is a liaison for the president to
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various parts of washington and even parts of the country. so, it's a very, very important role, and it is the first, obviously, the first decision that president-elect trump will make, and it is very telling as to kind of the direction he wants to go. now, i will tell you that people who i've talked to who are close to president-elect trump have said that, you know, even if he does pick reince priebus, which it looks like, according to our sources, he will, other people who were also instrumental in getting him elected, like steve bannon, for example, who was his chief executive officer, will likely be very, very involved, maybe a senior adviser, and others will, too. so, the kind of band, if you will, of brothers, and i guess a sister or two, who helped get him elected are expected to be still in his inner circle. reince priebus is just the one who is, it looks like, is going to be the first formal staffer as chief of staff named.
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>> okay. so let me bring in chris on this as well, because you know, chris, there was a lot of criticism that reince priebus was not throwing enough support behind donald trump earlier on in the campaign, and then it seems as though he was the one who kind of extended the olive branch first in terms of, you know, the establishment, the gop, to say, okay, let's work with him. and then as dana just said, they have developed a relationship. donald trump has gotten to know him, vice versa, trusting him enough. how is this being interpreted? how does this settle among the gop establishment, particularly those who have remained reluctant to get behind donald trump? how does this assist donald trump, that reince priebus would step in this role, if, indeed, being asked? >> yeah, fred, well, i think this is a big sigh of relief for
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a lot of washington gop establishment, seeing reince priebus being donald trump's right-hand man. it's going to send a signal that donald trump is very interested in governing and that he wants to legislate. because as dana pointed out, he is very close with house speaker paul ryan. they're kind of the wisconsin mafia, him and sean duffy, a congressman from wisconsin, and reince priebus all came up in those wisconsin political circles. also on the senate side, rines was the choice of senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. we know that when donald trump went to the capitol last week and met with mitch mcconnell, met with paul ryan, that he was encouraged to go with somebody like reince priebus because he has those relationships. remember, donald trump ran as an outsider, but to get things done, he's going to need an insider like priebus. in fact, we saw a little bit eight years ago where president obama was criticized. he ran as an outsider, as a change agent, but he didn't bring a lot of that democratic
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inside washington staff into the white house, and a lot of people thought that was part of the reason why he maybe wasn't as effective getting his agenda through congress. now we're seeing that president-elect trump may be learning a lesson from that, bringing somebody like reince priebus in. and you know, remember, the other choice that we had here, according to our sources, that president-elect trump was seriously considering was steve bannon, ceo of breitbart news, a website that had gone after the gop establishment in washington very hard, gone after guys like paul ryan and mitch mcconnell and been very critical that they weren't conservative enough, that they weren't right wing enough. that had some republicans here in washington a little concerned, that you know, a guy like bannon would be the right-hand man, he would be the gatekeeper. he's also an outsider. he hasn't played washington politics. and while donald trump can continue to be the guy in charge, obviously, with this outsider message, he needs an
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insider like a reince priebus to move things along. legislation is very complicated. the negotiations that happen, the back-room discussions, those are the kinds of things that reince priebus is going to be able to facilitate with his relationships because he's trusted. he's a known quantity. and he also, as you pointed out, fred, helped bridge that gap between the establishment here in washington and the donald trump campaign. he was in a really tough spot for a lot of this campaign as the head of the rnc. he had to support the nominee. the party wasn't completely behind donald trump, and he helped, you know, sometimes kind of pull those two forces together. and you can see he's really earned donald trump's respect and trust, now that donald trump has put him in that position of chief of staff. and we expect that, according to dana and jim acosta's sources, that we're going to hear that announcement pretty soon here, fred. >> dana, as you described, chief of staff, that is your confidante. and when you think about president obama and his
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friendship with rahm emanuel, which was his first staff of chief. they had known each other for a very long time. by relation, this is a fresh relationship between reince priebus and donald trump. is it being interpreted as a bold move? >> reporter: you know, i think it depends where you sit. if you, you know, sit in paul ryan's chair or any other republican member of congress, i think chris said it very well, it's considered a sigh of relief. but if you are somebody who is a conservative who likes the fact that donald trump sort of bucks the establishment, there might be some disappointment. we know that there are some groups out there who are saying, you know, please don't do this, but i think that the fact that reince priebus is, as you said, fred, a relatively new confidante says a lot about the kind of, you know, how donald trump is going to set his staff,
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maybe set his cabinet up, you know, relying not just on people who he knows very well -- reince priebus has become that person -- but also people who he knows will help him succeed. and you know, it's certainly, according to our sources as we were reporting this out towards the end of last week, mr. trump was reluctant only in reince priebus because of the nature of his job, because he is the rnc chair, he had to publicly criticize donald trump, like when the "access hollywood" tape came out, as his responsibility as chair of the republican party was to put out a statement saying that this is not okay to talk like this. and so, you know, that's not usually somebody like donald trump who really expects and requires loyalty, not necessarily somebody who you would think automatically somebody who would do that would be his chief of staff, but it's
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a whole new world, and i think it does say a lot about the fact that he can kind of, you know, look beyond that and look at what he needs. and clearly, he thinks that reince priebus is that guy. >> political analyst gloria borger also with us. so, gloria, what is the message sent by one of the biggest, the first biggest decisions from a president-elect donald trump? >> reporter: well, i think as dana was talking about earlier, the message is that he is willing to reach out to the republicans on capitol hill and around the country, quite frankly. reince priebus is somebody who walked a line for him, and it was a fine line, and it was difficult for reince priebus, because there are lots of republicans that i've spoken to during this election who believed that reince was too much out front for donald trump,
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or he could have done more to stop donald trump's ascension, et cetera. and i think that reince priebus had to prove his loyalty to donald trump, because that's what donald trump prizes above all else. and i think with this choice, he believes he's found someone who is loyal and someone who can also reach out to republicans on his behalf, not the least of whom is paul ryan, the speaker of the house, also from the state of wisconsin -- priebus from the state of wisconsin. they are very close personally. and i think that if he feels like he needs a bridge to paul ryan that reince priebus will be the person who can be that go-between. i also think that reince priebus has been honest with donald trump throughout this campaign. i know from talking to people close to him that when priebus is upset, he tells donald trump, and that they were in constant contact, if not physically, then
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over the phone every day, multiple times. and i think that priebus kind of helped guide the ship, if you will, and pulled trump back when he needed to be pulled back and criticized him when he needed to be criticized. so, i think that there are lots of republicans kind of breathing a sigh of relief here, but i also believe that donald trump is going to keep a lot of different people close to him, and he's going to get conflicting advice, and that's going to be very interesting for us to watch, because steve bannon may tell him one thing and reince priebus may tell him another, and the president is going to have to decide who he listens to. >> and as it pertains to that relationship with, you know, fellow wisconsin house speaker paul ryan, do you see that reince prieb reince priebus' appointment as the chief of staff would present a new conflict between those two, or would it simply give
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assurance because the two of them have a relationship that is strong? >> reporter: i think what it means is that there will be communication. i don't think it means that donald trump is going to agree with paul ryan all of the time. donald trump got elected president. paul ryan did not. paul ryan was someone who did not endorse him right away. paul ryan, however, has an agenda, and trump may choose to pick parts of it, and he may choose to reject other parts of it. but what i think it means with reince priebus there is that there will be discussion, communication, and that things won't be left unsaid. and i think that's going to be important. don't forget, donald trump doesn't know washington. he's the ultimate outsider, has never been in elective office before. he's the first president we're going to have since ike eisenhower who's never been in elective office before, so he needs someone to guide him and
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to navigate for him and open up lines of communication. and i think reince priebus is going to do that. >> and donald trump said long ago that he was willing to bring in people who knew washington because he said, i know business, i really don't know politics. so this decision is evidence of that. former rnc chief of staff mike shields is also with us now. and mike, i'd love to hear your impressions on this decision, reince priebus as the chief of staff for donald trump. >> well, i think it's a great decision, and i think president-elect trump has done a stellar job of bringing people together already, and he's named reince priebus. i think it's an excellent choice to be his chief of staff. i think that steve bannon, i'm guessing, will have a very strong role still to play in the administration, and it's a team effort, and they all worked well together. you know, bannon and bossi and kellyanne conway and reince and
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the entire team played well together on this team and they'll work well together in an administration. i think it's a huge signal of the intentions of president-elect trump to get things done. he's brought in someone who can get things done. and reince can cross a lot of boundaries in the republican party. i think he'll be called by some people right now an establishment figure, whatever that word means. but reince came up through the grassroots as state party chairman. he's become very skilled at the rnc, when you don't have the white house and you have a lot of different factions going on in the country, of managing to communicate to all of them to be with the grassroots, the movement conservatives, as well as other parts of the party. so you know, you can't ever really describe reince as anything other than very conservative himself. so, i think it's an excellent choice of somebody who can bring the party together and help enact president trump's agenda. >> what did you learn about reince priebus when he was willing to back donald trump when many others in the establishment were not? >> well, he's a man of
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principle, and he stuck to his principles. he sort of laid out exactly what he was going to do and never wavered from it. he said he was going to have fair debates, a fair process, and whoever got the delegates was going to be the nominee, and whoever that nominee was was going to work with the rnc and try to win the election. and he had critics from, i mean, some people thought he wasn't helping enough, some people thought he was helping too much. he stayed right down the middle. he did his job and he earned the trust of the trump campaign. and i think, you know, you really saw when the new team came in, there are people who were criticizing -- i run down-ballot races -- were worried about how the campaign was going. when bannon and bossi and kelly yawn conway and those folks started working with reince, look at the dates when the poll numbers started to improve. he was leading by september because this team was working so well together. so, that's a signal, a testament to all of their abilities to form a team, and they're going to continue having that team, and i think it's really going to benefit president-elect trump very well. >> do you think this invitation came as a surprise to a reince
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priebus? or do you think along the way he's demonstrated loyalty or advocacy of donald trump before the election might potentially lead to some sort of post or an invitation like this if, indeed, trump were to win? >> oh, you know, reince was doing this because he was chairman of the party. he was doing his other job because he's chairman of the party. you always want to win the election. you want to do everything you possibly can. look, reince is leaving the rnc as the most successful chairman in the history of the republican party. and you can go back to the forming of the party. where the republican party stands now electorally under his watch is stronger than it's ever been, and the rnc as an institution was incredibly strong, and the trump campaign benefited from that. they worked together. they recognized that the rnc was a strong partner and could help them win. they were wise enough to see that and to work together with them. so, those were his motivations. i know that he would have said i'm going to let whatever happens after the election happen. that wasn't a part of the equation. >> and so, dana, are you still with us on the phone?
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all right. okay, how about gloria, are you still with me? >> reporter: i am. >> okay, so, gloria, what do you expect the first order of business to be for a chief of staff, reince priebus, at this point? >> reporter: well, i think they have to work on the cabinet, obviously, and they have to work on the first 100 days' agenda, which is going to be very important. there was discussion today of congress meeting right after the inauguration to deal with the questions of obamacare, what you do with obamacare. so, i think you have to get your white house staff together. i am sure steve bannon will still be an important part of that white house staff, as kellyanne conway will be. and i think that you have to get those ducks in a row. then you have to get your legislative person. you have to figure out the president-elect's first 100-day promotions. and you have to go down your list about what you can do, say through executive action.
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there are some things he can do on immigration through executive orders that he has promised he will do. and then you have to sort of get up and running on your legislative agenda, because candidate trump promised to do an awful lot in his first 100 days. and so, you have to try and follow through on some of those promises to the american people who voted for you. >> political analyst david gergen also with us now on the phone. so david, what's your reaction to this choice of reince priebus as chief of staff? >> it's a very promising choice. this chief of staff's job is probably the number two or number three most powerful job in washington these days because so much power is centralized in the presidency as it's changed. and putting someone in there who is going to send reassuring signals to the republican party, to many in the business
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community and elsewhere, and indeed, the people around the world about what kind of president trump intends to be. this is an important moment, an important choice. i can't stress for you enough that trump -- no one really knows what donald trump will be like. will he be like the campaigner who was often rambunctious, can say brash, often sexist things? or is he going to be someone to settle down and be more in the presidential mode? and there have been other promising signs that have come out, but i think this is the single most promising one about which way he's going to go. remember that the choice appeared to come down to reince priebus versus steve bannon. steve bannon, arch conservative, would have been very divisive. and for republicans, he is a nemesis of paul ryan and wants to bring down much of the republican establishment. reince priebus sends a signal from trump that he wants to work with republicans, not against them, and that that relationship with congress is likely to be more harmonious.
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they're not always going to agree, as you witnessed today on the questions of immigration where paul ryan and trump have disagreed, but this shows that donald trump really does intend to cooperate, be a partner with the congress, especially with the republican party. and i think all of that will be reassuring. priebus is also, by all accounts, a very good administrator, which is important in this job. and it wasn't well recognized and he's still too humble to say much about it, but priebus really surprised the democrats by the quality of the field operation he put into place for this campaign. it was almost if he surprised democrats, let them get complacent. and boom, it worked. >> wow. so, you're calling it promising. lots of up sides. do you see any potential down sides to this election? >> well, you'll have to wait and see when he gets into office.
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he does seem to be a fairly easy guy to get along with. he does seem to have some animus toward the press. the most successful chiefs of staff have found that it's important -- you've got to be tough with the press, but you've got to be open and responsive. and the best chiefs of staff have done that. priebus seems to have a chip on his shoulder about that. we'll have to see if it comes off. i don't think he knows much about international affairs. and it may well be that, you know, sometimes in the past, chief of staff has had to step in and crack a whip on a secretary of state or somebody else when the national security team isn't pulling together. i don't know whether that's his strength. i don't think that is. but again, overall, you have to say it's a very promising selection that's going to send reassuring signals to lots and lots of people in the political system. >> is chris frates still with us? >> i am, fred. >> okay. so, chris, in that "60 minutes"
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interview, donald trump says he will show more restraint once he is sworn in. is there a feeling that a reince priebus as chief of staff is also going to be charged with that responsibility of helping to, i guess control donald trump or make sure that he does show some restraint? does he get credit thus far as, you know, having to help impose that real lesson, you know, to donald trump? >> yeah, i think, fred, what we learned on this campaign is that donald trump, as his advisers like to say, trump's going to be trump, and you can only do so much. but priebus was really credited with help to kind of smooth some of those rough edges off donald trump and make him a more disciplined campaigner and that you saw that start to happen at the end of the campaign, particularly when the hillary clinton e-mail scandal reappeared and reignited. donald trump became much more focused, much more disciplined, and he allowed that fire to burn
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on the clinton camp. oftentimes during that campaign, he had stepped out and stepped on something. what comes to mind is when hillary clinton testified at the fbi. you know, that was a huge story republicans jumped all over, but donald trump then made those comments about judge curiel, who is the judge on his trump university, saying that because he was of mexican heritage, he might not be the right judge for that case, and that totally blanketed the news coverage. and reince priebus was able in that second go-round, when the e-mail stuff came to a head again right before the election, to help that fire burn on the clinton side, which really helped donald trump. the other thing i want to point out here, fred, is that, you know, reince priebus is a guy who has fixed broken organizations before. if you remember, you know, we've made a lot of the fact that he is the longest serving rnc chairman. you know, he took over back in 2011. that was after a time when a lot of republicans felt like the rnc had gone way off the
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reservation. he inherited debts. he started putting and rebuilding the republican party on his own credit card because they couldn't even get credit. so, this is a guy who is well known, who put his own personal credit card down to help rebuild the rnc and now has built it and built that ground game, as david gergen pointed out, in a way that helped donald trump get the voters out and really took democrats by surprise. so, this is a guy who has really, you know, kind of become a confidante of donald trump. he is a guy who understands washington and also understands donald trump and may help him, you know, kind of bridge that gap of letting trump be trump, letting him lead, but also helping and giving him the layers underneath, the undergirding to enact his agenda, fred. >> you know, and this just released by donald trump. we understand now that steve bannon has been appointed the chief strategist and chief
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counselor. david gergen, back to you. you talk about him being, you know, polarizing in some ways, not necessarily getting along well with paul ryan. what's your response to steve bannon becoming the chief strategist and chief counselor? what does that mean, in your view? >> well, it's an important role, and it says that trump did find a place for him, that he wanted him by his side. you know, having a strategist, someone to think strategically around you and is not caught up in the day-to-day management and the hour-to-hour emergencies is really important for a president, and it tends to be, often tends to be someone who, you know, keeps the flame burning and keeps people adhering to what the candidate said in the primaries and told voters in the general election. you need someone around like that who is, you know, who wants to sort of think through, here
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are the three or four steps we have to take. and then i have no, you know, from my point of view, i have no grief for steve bannon. a lot of what he believes, i believe 190 degrees opposite. but if, you know, and if he were running things, i would be like, oh, my goodness. but in that position, i can see him bringing strength to trump. we'll have to see where it goes. i think you've got to know that he is -- you know, he can be -- give you recommendations that are going to be explosive. >> and gloria -- >> and priebus and others are going to be the ones to sort of say no. that's why i think there is some tension in there between ivanka trump and jared kushner, the son-in-law, obviously had a lot to do with priebus. i'll be interested in seeing how they get along with bannon. >> hmm, interesting. so gloria, what a contrast here, establishment in reince priebus as chief of staff, antiestablishment in steve
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bannon as chief strategist and chief counselor. what's the message being sent by donald trump on his vision, what he plans and who he surrounds himself with? >> reporter: i think that he's not going to be a wholly owned subsidiary of any part of the republican party. and when you look at this press release they put out, and this is all reading between the tea leaves and maybe because i've been in washington a while, but steve bannon was named first, and then came white house chief of staff reince priebus. and i think that's a real signal, that not only is he going to be a senior counselor, but he's going to have a seat at every single table that the white house chief of staff has a seat at. don't forget, these are people who have not served in a white house before, so there is no sense of how it ought to work, other than what they're being told. i think that this really gives us an indication that it's going to work a different way and that
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we all know the duties of a white house chief of staff and how important that is to any president because he's the gatekeeper, he or she is the gatekeeper, but i think what we're seeing in steve bannon is that he might be the whisperer to the president. i was told in doing my reporting on this earlier this week, this past week, that steve bannon in many ways is like donald trump in that winning is what's important, and that he, even though, obviously, he has his pedigree from the right wing of the republican party, that he wants to succeed, and that is where donald trump sits. and so, i think that these two men -- i mean, obviously, white house chief of staff is the plum job here, but don't underestimate the impact and the importance of the steve bannon
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appointment as well, because i think he is going to have donald trump's ear all the time. >> okay. governor john sununu, former chief of staff to president george h.w. bush, is with me now. your point of view on these two decisions. let's begin with the chief of staff, reince priebus. is this a nice pairing, in your view, with donald j. trump? >> well, i think reince's appointment is a very good one. i think reince can do the job. i think he has enough of a set of relationships with republicans in the house and the senate that will stand him in good stead. i think he's been in washington enough that he recognizes the system. when he was running first time around for chairman of the party, i actually was a member of the rnc because i had gone back to be state chairman, and i worked very hard to get him elected that first time. so, i'm thrilled at this appointment, and i applaud
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donald trump for making this selection. >> so, as a chief of staff for the former president, george h.w. bush, describe what your relationship was like so that people can get a better understanding of the importance of that job as chief of staff. you are the confidante. you are the right-hand person to the president. what was your relationship like? how much did president bush rely on your direction, opinion, point of view, you know, bouncing ideas off you? how did it go? explain. >> look, the job of chief of staff is what the president makes it, and i was fortunate enough to work for a president that, you know, displayed great trust in what i was doing for him and great trust in having me help develop the policies that he cared about. and so, we had a very close r g
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relationship. i've once pointed out to people that during the course of a day, i probably sat in 75% of the meetings that the president had and came down to ask him questions in the oval office probably a dozen times. and we certainly set the agenda for the day in our morning meeting. and starting with, you know, cia briefings and then moving on to the legislative agenda, the political agenda, the international agenda. and i was fortune enough to work with a national security adviser, brent scowcroft, that we both got along very well and operated quite closely so that the president didn't have to deal with what sometimes is the internal tensions in the white house. so, it was a great relationship with a president i admired greatly. >> and what's your expectation of the importance of the job of chief of staff to a president
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who is an outsider to washington, who is getting to know the system, so to speak, how the white house and congress are going to be working together, a businessman who, you know, campaigned on being an outsider, not knowing what washington was all about? so, how does that change the role, in your view, of this chief of staff? >> well, i think vice president-elect pence and reince are going to be, you know, the key contacts within the white house to guide, if you will, a president trump over some of the internal pitfalls. you're dealing with giant bureaucracies on the legislative side and giant bureaucracies that the president will preside over on the executive side, and they are both notorious for being extremely patient in the sense of if they don't like what direction they've been given,
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they just sit and wait. and i think pence and priebus will have the responsibility of moving those reluctant bureaucracies in the right direction. i think that's what those two can bring to the game, and it's important for president trump to understand how valuable those two people are going to be in getting him a successful agenda through the system. >> so, you say the appointment of reince priebus as chief of staff, you said it's a very good one, a good decision. >> it is. >> now let me ask you about the decision to have steve bannon as the chief strategist and chief counselor. what's your opinion or thought about that? help us have a better understanding of what that job entails and how steve bannon is a good fit for that. >> i must admit, i don't know mr. bannon personally. i think if he has donald trump's ear, he has a very important role. he certainly seems to have mr. trump's ear.
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and certainly reflected donald trump's agenda in some of the things that he was responsible for in terms of what we saw online. so i think he's going to try and keep donald trump committed to the agenda that he and trump laid out as part of the campaign. >> do you see any overlapping duties as it pertains to a chief strategist -- >> i'm sorry, say that again. >> are there overlapping duties as it pertains to the chief of staff and chief strategist? >> one would hope not. and what i mean by that is once you start getting these overlapping responsibilities is when you begin to create tensions in the system. i think if bannon has the role of counselor to the president, that's what he taught do. he ought to counsel the president and advise him, if you will, on broad strategies and policies and leave the day-to-day stuff to the chief of staff to make sure that the
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system is functioning well and that the is are dotted on policy and the ts are crossed and that the president is interacting effectively with congress and communicating to the rest of the cabinet. >> let me bring back gloria borger. she's still with us, as is david gergen and chris frates and mike shields. the gang all here. so, gloria, do you see these very different individuals here as potentially overlapping duties? they both, clearly, have to have the ear of the president-elect and soon-to-be president donald trump, but do you see that it will be complicated working together? >> reporter: well, you know, they were on the same team running the campaign, and they did pretty well with that. and steve bannon came on later in the campaign. and after he and kellyanne conway came on, the campaign seemed to really start moving.
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and i think that that is something that donald trump is really indebted to steve bannon for. i think that, you know, as governor sununu was saying, these people are going to have different roles, but they'll all be sitting at the same table with the president. they will all have access to the oval office. i think the chief of staff will have much more access and will also be dealing with foreign policy, et cetera, but i think steve bannon's role is not to be understated or underestimated. when you have a senior adviser to the president, you do get his ear, and i think donald trump trusts him, as he trusts reince priebus, and maybe they will -- you know, he picked them in these two jobs for very obvious reasons. reince as a bridge to congress and bannon as a bridge to his supporters, to the people who voted for him. and i think that, you know, what
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i'm assuming they hope is that they will work well together, as they did during the campaign. >> and former rnc chief of staff mike shields still with us. what do you believe the next very important appointment would be from president-elect trump now? we have two appointments. what would be third? >> oh, goodness. i mean, you've got a whole administration to fill out. you've got to have press secretaries, you've got to have cabinet officials, you've got to staff the rest of the white house. and really, i think -- look, i want to go back to what was being said about bannon before and echo what gloria was saying. >> sure. >> this is a really, really smart guy. and he came into a campaign -- i don't know how many people drop into a presidential campaign as late as he did. and if you look at the polls where they were when he came and joined the campaign and look at where they were about four weeks later. and so, this is an incredibly intelligent political strategist that the president has at his right-hand side, and he worked in a team effort with reince.
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so, i really commend the president-elect for saying, you know what, i'm going to have everybody that worked on this team together here to work with us, and i think it's a brilliant move on his part. and so, you know, they're going to decide who the next people are. i think right now the important thing is to see that president-elect trump has put next to him the two people that really engineered his victory and people that can get a lot of different things done for his administration, and that means he's pretty serious about getting some things done. and that's what both of these men will do in his administration. >> david gergen, agreed, brilliant moves? >> let's wait and see. i think so much depends on how they work it out, whether they can maintain the kind of harmony they had in the campaign. if they can, it could work out very well. but as john sununu knows so well, the chief of staff traditionally has been, or in recent years has become the cockpit of the white house, the person who's most important to the president, the person who often talks to the president, first one to talk to the
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president in the morning, often the last person to talk to him at night. and that person is not only giving, you know, talking about administrative aspects of the white house, but far more important is the decisions that presidents have to make on a daily basis. it's really important who has his ear and whom he trusts and whom he can confide. and that person usually is the chief of staff. i think it is notable, as gloria pointed out a while earlier, that in putting out this release, the trump team did something unorthodox, and that is, they put bannon first in terms of the two appointments and then put priebus, almost as if bannon has some kind of seniority -- >> david, david -- >> it may be symbolic, but that's what we have to see how it works out. yes, please. >> david, that may have been sort of a, yeah, i've picked reince to be chief of staff, but i'm going to not only make you counselor, but i'm going to announce you first, you know, trying to balance it all out,
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you know. >> it could well be symbolic, that's right. >> there's too much tea leaf reading in that. >> that's why i said i think we need to let it work itself out. you know how complicated it would be if there are two different people with conflicting views who have equal access to the president. that gets really tough, because you know that so well. >> right. but look, the important thing, i think, is that, "a," the president-elect has made these selections early, and it's very important to get them done, especially the chief of staff, early in the transition. number two, he has taken care of rather quickly an issue of loyalties that if he didn't take care of quickly would linger on in there and create problems as he was making additional appointments. and number three, these are, as gloria pointed out, two individuals that worked very well -- appear to have worked very well on the campaign, and therefore, i think can continue
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that kind of a relationship. and finally, their job will be what the president tells them their job is. >> and governor sununu, i want to bring back chris frates, who has more information about how these decisions came to be. chris. >> yeah, fred. well, our own dana bash reporting that a source who's been involved in this discussion, in this decision, said that, you know, this reflects the two different sides of donald trump, the two different constituencies that trump's going to need to manage here. of course, steve bannon is going to need to manage the conservatives, that alt-right movement who are essentially a throw the bums out constituency. they wanted all of washington house cleaned, including mitch mcconnell and paul ryan. now, on the other side of that, reince priebus. he's a washington insider, as we've pointed out here. very tight with paul ryan, knows mitch mcconnell, is going to help donald trump enact his legislative agenda, that he needs those men and that institution to get through. and we're also told -- dana's
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also told that both priebus and bannon were highly involved in working this out. so, it sounds like, you know, donald trump, steve bannon, reince priebus having discussions about what kinds of roles should they take, where are people best suited to. and the other thing i want to point out here, fred, that we've talked a little bit about is that sometimes there can be that tension here. and i was just looking at breitbart news, which, of course, steve bannon ran before he went over to the trump campaign. and there was a headline there saying -- it was by michael savage, who, of course, is a well listened-to radio host with about 12 million conservative listeners across the country. he had a piece up on breitbart saying, you know, reince rights, don't pick him for chief of staff. that's very interesting, because that is, of course, steve bannon's, you know, home base there. it will be interesting to see, how does bannon use breitbart in service of the white house? does it become part of his arsenal in interwhite house
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rivalries, or does that start to dissipate now that these decisions have been made, the lobbying is done? you know, how will he use his very important media property that has kind of stoked conservatives? i mean, critics will say that it kind of trafficked in conspiracies, that sometimes it didn't fact-check out, but it's been an important piece there. so, i think you can see steve bannon as kind of the karl rove of this white house. you know, george w. bush's political brains. that's kind of the zite geist that steve bannon helps channel. he is in tune with where the conservatives are and how the kinds of decisions that a president-elect trump is going to consider are going to go over with that very key constituency. reince priebus, on the other hand, is going to understand what needs to get done, how the establishment needs to do it, what kind of political cover they need to be able to get things done. so, you clearly can see, you know, that donald trump picking two men who understand both
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trump's populist instinct there in steve bannon and trump's pragmatism in that if we're going to get anything done, i need an operator who knows the players, fred. >> and chris, we just received a statement now from the trump campaign, saying, "steve and reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. now i will have them both with me in the white house as we work to make america great again." that coming from donald trump. now i want to play a portion of an interview that cnn special correspondent jamie gangel had with reince priebus. listen. >> sometimes you can't fix it. sometimes you can just take a seven-alarm fire and just make it a four-alarm fire. it's still burning, but it's not as bad as it was. no one should feel sorry for me. i signed up for this. >> you are the man in the middle. you have donald trump doing his thing. and then you have the gop
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establishment, whatever that is. >> yeah, that's a word that apparently no one can quite define. but yeah, i understand it. >> all those people over there who are not on the same side as donald trump. >> right. >> they're saying, well, it's all your fault. how'd you let trump -- why didn't you get rid of him? >> yeah. well, look, being in the middle, you have to accept the fact that there is a thousand opinions. i mean, i'm so used to it that i don't even care. it doesn't bother me. >> you're not pulling out your hair? >> no, i'm not. people assume, oh, you must be miserable, you've got a horrible job. but i don't see it that way. that's what i'm saying. i'm not pouring bailey's in my cereal. i'm not here trying to find the johnnie walker. i mean, this is fun. >> all right, let's talk more about this. former rnc chief of staff mike
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shields back with us now. all right, you mentioned it earlier. you talked about his loyalty to the party. he reiterated it in that interview with jamie gangel, saying don't feel sorry for me, i signed up for this. so now the reward for being so loyal, not just to the party but also donald trump by throwing his support behind him when others wouldn't. >> yeah, i mean, i guess you can look at it as a reward or you could look at it as a smart move from the president-elect to hire a chief of staff that's effective. he's not coming in to be so-called rewarded. i understand your point, but he's coming in to get something done. and i have never worked for anybody who worked harder than reince priebus. i mean, he is a very, very dedicated, driven person who will see things through and get things done. and to take over a party when we don't have the white house, go through six years of really transforming the party and building the machine that helped elect president-elect donald trump was a serious, serious accomplishment. he's now the most successful
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chairman in the history of the republican party. and so, i think the wisdom of president-elect trump here is he's hiring somebody to be his chief of staff that he knows he can count on to both get things done and to bring people together, work as a team with steve bannon and work with people in the administration. i mean, that's really what we -- you know, when you're hiring a chief of staff, it is incredibly important statement but an incredibly important position to accomplish your goals as president. and over the next, say 90 days, so many decisions are going to be made that really determine the success of the presidency. and so, he's put someone in charge he knows he can count on to get things done. >> underscoring, really, the point of loyalty, the loyalty of reince priebus that has been demonstrated. and the point has just been made so many times over from you, from governor sununu, talking about the loyalty that comes with the job of chief of staff serving at the privilege and the request of the president. all right, i want you, mike, to stick around, governor sununu,
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we've got gloria borger, chris frates. the gang is all here. we'll take a short break. we'll talk more about these two appointments coming from president-elect donald j. trump.
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all right, welcome back. i want to get back to our breaking news that we're following this hour, cnn learning that president-elect donald trump has chosen reince prieb priebus, the rnc chairman, as trump's chief of staff in the white house. his campaign chairman, steve n bannon will serve as chief strategist for donald trump. i'm joined again by gloria borger, political analyst back with me. and so, gloria, let's zero in on this position of chief strategist and chief counselor involving steve bannon, who comes, you know, with some criticism of his own because of behavior and comments as it relates to race, women, anti-semitism. will there be some problems as
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it pertains to this job? >> reporter: look, there's going to be problems no matter what this president-elect does, and i think what we've seen, this appointme appointment, is that he is appointing people he believes can do him the best good. and as we were talking about earlier, i think that reince priebus is his bridge to the congress and governors and the republican hierarchy and that steve bannon is his bridge to his base and his voters and that steve bannon will be there as somebody who will remind him, i'm sure, what got him into office in the first place and what he needs to do to keep those people with him and enthusiastic about his presidency. so, i think there are flip sides of the same coin. and don't forget, these with people that have worked together. neither of them have worked in the white house, which i also think is something of note,
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because i think what they're doing is they are forming their own white house structure that might be different from white house structures we've seen in the past, when governor sununu, for example, who you spoke with earlier, was chief of staff. this could be very different. i mean, nothing we've seen from donald trump has bveen as other people have done it. >> been is the operative word. >> reporter: i think they may have very different jobs, but i think it may be part of a whole organic way that donald trump is deciding to run his white house that might be different than we've seen before. >> we'll leave it there, gloria borger. thank you. governor sununu also, david gergen, mike shields, dana bash, chris frates. thanks to all of you. much more straight ahead on these appointments. i'm fredricka whitfield. thanks for being with me today. have a great week. much more ahead.
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