The start of the transition of power

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 10, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with president-elect Trump.  We talked about foreign policy. We talked about domestic policy. We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved. I look forward to being with him many, many more times in the future.


BRET BAIER, HOST: A meeting in the Oval Office today, obviously, a much different tone from the campaign trail. The White House had to deal with questions about that as well.


OBAMA: Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be our chief executive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he still believe that?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president's views haven't changed. He stands by what he said on the campaign trail. But the American people decided. The election is over. The president didn't get to choose his successor. The American people did.


BAIER: And the protesters should hear Josh Earnest about that one.

Let's bring in our panel, Jason Riley, columnist with the Wall Street Journal, editor-in-chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, Charles Lane, opinion writer for the Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

All right, Jason, you heard what they said at the meeting and you heard Paul Ryan as well about the agenda. Your thoughts?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think that president-elect Trump could do a lot of good with the Never Trumpers in particular in bringing them back into the fold based on what he prioritize here. I think if he picks a conservative nominee to replace Justice Scalia and repeals ObamaCare, he will win over a lot of these folks initially, and then go from there. So I think that should be at the top of his agenda. I think it will be at the top of his agenda.

We heard Paul Ryan, there are differences. You pressed on some of the issues, entitlement reform. He seemed to be saying that you can't repeal and replace Obamacare in total without doing some form of entitlement reform. So there will be some sticky areas. But I think the stage is set here for the Republican Party to come back together based on them now controlling both chambers of Congress and the presidency.

BAIER: Once he is sworn in, Laura, President Trump is not probably just going to hand the keys over to Congress and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.  There will be some agenda pushing as far as what he wants to get through.

LAURA INGRAHAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LIFEZETTE.COM: I mean, this is Trump's party now. Never-Trumpers, what, are there five people? No offense, but there's not that many. He flipped all these states that were Democrat states. He came in and completely upended the Bushs, the Clintons, the Obamas, the chamber of commerce, the media, Hollywood. He took them all on. He got vilified. And he made some mistakes. But he won handily.

And the idea that he is going to come in and be like, OK, I've got to make Bill Kristol feel better, that's just ridiculous. He is going to come in and he's going to what he said he is going to do. And it's going to be hard because Obamacare repeal, Paul Ryan is right. It's not that simple.  It's a complex web which was designed that way to make it really hard to repeal.

But I think Trump is happy to work with Paul Ryan on Trump's agenda. And where their agenda coalesces and collides, they will figure it out. But I don't think Trump is going to spend a lot of time about pleasing the Never Trumpers. He pleased the American people, and he has a mandate for that change, and the Democrats are going to have to deal with that agenda. And we will see what happens.

BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: This may surprise you. I agree completely with Laura that this is Trump's party, that the establishment, so to speak, that's there in Congress is definitely not just in his thrall, they are in his debt. As Paul Ryan told you, there were coattails. A lot of people wouldn't be in Congress or the Senate today but for Donald Trump. So he's really got -- he holds all the cards.

What's interesting to me is though is that I heard Paul Ryan essentially prioritizing the things Donald Trump wants or has said he wants, particularly border security. As you well know, amnesty as it's known, amnesty has been something that's been hung around Paul rye Ryan's neck.  He is obviously backing away from that in order, it seems to help Trump -- to help put Trump in a position to support the parts of his agenda that Paul Ryan likes, like the big tax cuts and the deregulation.

BAIER: I think the devil will be in the details about how in the immigration issue about the specifics and the numbers.

Charles, I want to play the sound bite and get your thoughts about President Obama and this exchange today. This is about his legacy. So we're having one of these evenings that it's --

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I agree entirely with what was supposed to have --

BAIER: Here we go. It's actually -- we have it now. It took a little time to warm up. OK.


TRUMP: I'm asking for your vote so we can repeal and replace Obamacare.

OBAMA: If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake.


BAIER: So --

KRAUTHAMMER: As I said, I agree entirely. Obama's legacy was on the line.  Well, I don't know, it could be the vast right wing conspiracy. You never know.

BAIER: OK, my point is, I was going to play this sound bite where President Obama is on the trail and he says it is about our legacy. It's all about our legacy. I'm not on the ballot, but my legacy is on the ballot. You have to elect Hillary Clinton. He said it again and again and again. What is the Obama legacy after Donald Trump comes in and tears up the executive orders, repeals and replaces Obamacare, and maybe tears up the Iran nuclear deal?

KRAUTHAMMER: It will be rubble. Obama understood that from the beginning.  That's why he was so desperate to get Hillary re-elected -- elected potentially as his successor, and continue his legacy.

The thing is that, I think it's largely overlooked, the victory that Trump won was, of course, largely his instincts, also how terrible a campaigner Hillary is. But the third element was that Obama is sort of left wing overreach, starting with Obamacare, has poisoned the Democrats now for the three elections in which he is not at the top of the ticket, the two midterm elections where he got shellacked and now the legacy election. The premiums skyrocketing two weeks before election, they reminded people of why they did not like what had been carried out in his name.

So with Obama off the scene, with Trump in the White House, the executive orders are going to go on day one. The major legislative achievements are going to be repealed. And, as you say, the problem with the Iran deal is it's hard to unwind it because Obama gave away the store from the beginning. So what is there to undo? But nonetheless, he understood what was at stake and he lost.

RILEY: It's important to note that his legacy is not only in jeopardy because he lost the White House to a Republican. It's in jeopardy because of the way he governed. Executive order after executive order on things like immigration, or ramming through large pieces of legislation without bipartisan support like Obamacare. It didn't have to be this way, but this is not a president who worked to build consensus. And that consensus would have helped him carry out a legacy that is in jeopardy.

BAIER: I want to ask about immigration, Laura. This is Newt Gingrich on a conference call today about having Mexico pay for the wall. It's about Trump. "He knows how to build big buildings. He knows how to build golf courses. He knows how to build lots of stuff. The idea that Trump can't figure out how to control the southern border is just silly. He'll spend a lot of time controlling the border. He may not spend much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it, but it was a great campaign device."

INGRAHAM: I'm not sure Newt in that case is speaking directly for the president-elect, but we shall see. I know Pena Nieto and Trump had a very cordial conversation yesterday. That seemed to go well. But those are the kinds of things that they are going to have to answer for. That became a clarion call rally after rally after rally. A lot of folks said maybe there's a way when you renegotiate NAFTA the savings in that or you do a joint fund of the drug interdiction and all the property seized in joint drug raids and you can use that. There are probably a lot of creative ways they can get Mexico to pay for it. But is Mexico going to stroke a check?  That's a hard thing to pull off. But he did say it a bunch of times.

BAIER: Yes, he did.

Next up, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, Congress, stay with us.  



REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Great working lunch. I can tell you what I got out of Donald Trump today is this is a man of action. He is ready to get working. He wants to get it done for the country. It's really, really exciting.

BAIER: Does he want to get it done with you?

RYAN: Oh, yes. We're, we're -- we're already talking about how to execute plans, how to get the transition working, how to make 2017 a success for the American that asked him to be president of the United States.


BAIER: House Speaker Paul Ryan not worried about his speakership or any challenges and also pretty excited about the way forward. We're back with the panel. Chuck, I mean, he was kind of coming out of his shoes there a little bit.

LANE: I almost wanted to stay calm down a minute there. But what's impressive here, one has to recognize what an extraordinary moment this is.  Basically against all expectations, the Republicans are now the ruling party in the United States and will be for at least the next two and it's likely they hold the Senate the next four. And they have a clear field in front of them. They will soon also be in control of the federal judiciary.

And on the other hand, the Democratic Party isn't just kind of in a little bit of trouble. It's as one columnist today referred to it as a pile of smoking rubble. They only have 15 governorships, obviously nothing in Washington. And of course they are engaged in mutual recriminations about the campaign. So the Republicans really have it all in their hands.

And what we're going to see now is all the policy debates in America that have any consequence will be taking place within the Republican Party. And right now, of course, they are very unified and are making a great show of it. But obviously differences here and there will start to develop. And then we will see whether it's true that Donald Trump really has the leadership ability to keep that herd of cats all together.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think Ryan's excitement is absolutely genuine. What the Republicans have a situation of pent up supply. These people have been stockpiling proposals, ideas, legislation now for years and seeing every one die in the Senate or die on Obama's desk. And therefore I'm not that worried about disagreements between, say, Ryan and Obama over policy.  There is so much out there that it will be very easy to start with those things on which they agree.

For example, on immigration, they agree on border security. Ryan is no -- you know, he is not a fan of deportation. But, of course, Donald Trump, he retreated from that. And he said well, we'll deal with this later. So they can easily agree on the wall, all the elements of border security, defer amnesty or defer legalization. And then Trump will decide. He will decide which of the agenda items are going to be proposed and pursued at the beginning. Ryan is over there. It will be Ryan proposing, Trump disposing. So I don't see where the conflict has to be. Later on, it will start. But I don't see it starting now.

BAIER: Jason, Chuck mentioned the Democrats kind of imploding. Howard Dean today tweeted out that "Democrats need organization and focus on the young, need a 50 state strategy and tech rehab. I am in for chairman again." Howard Dean back in the saddle.

RILEY: That's because he is a healer, Bret, and that's what the Democratic Party needs. So he is the go-to guy for that. He unifies people, as we know.

No. They are in trouble. They know they are in trouble. Although I do think that there are going to be some areas where Donald Trump can work with Democrats and Chuck Schumer in particular. They know each other because Donald Trump is a New Yorker. I think you have issues like carried interest with Wall Street where it's very popular that Chuck Schumer would be willing to deal on that. And I think it's also this idea that Trump has taken entitlement reform off the table will bring a lot of Democrats to the table.

BAIER: Not only that but you have 25 Democratic senators up for re-election, five of them in red states. So something tells me they will be willing to deal.

RILEY: And Paul Ryan was also excited because for years the Republican leadership has been telling the public and their constituents it's not that we don't have the will or the idea. It's that we don't have the numbers.  And now he has the numbers. And I think he is very excited to get something done here. And the other thing is that Obama has always been more popular than his policies and Republicans know that. The other amazing thing that Trump did was defeat a party with a president approval rating well above 50 percent.

INGRAHAM: Remember in the exit polls, the country, 46 percent said they wanted a more conservative leader, which was quite something, you're right, coming out 59 percent approval with the polls. We don't know if we can believe that. Is that really the case? He has that rock star kind of quality, but that is more of a celebrity quality. And I think the policy, especially with the Obamacare premiums.

I just want to address a little bit of the staffing question here in the White House, because there are 4,000 positions that have to be filled. And from my time a long time ago in 1987, 1988 in the Reagan administration, it was very -- it's very interesting to see how people burrow in to positions in the executive branch, OMB, Office of Management Budget, all the departments, who sometimes are working against the interest of the chief executive and an agenda. So, you know, don't let the foxes into the henhouse.

BAIER: That brings me up a question. There are some people that I have heard concerned about the head of the national security transition that is happening now for Donald Trump's administration, and that is former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. Mike Rogers, you may all remember, was responsible for the intelligence committee bill on Benghazi.  And that got a lot of attacks from conservatives and including a prominent one, Trey Gowdy. And I asked him about it here on the show.


BAIER: The Democrats and the White House pointing to Mike Rogers committee, Intel chairman, and saying that he essentially found different findings than you all found. Are you saying that his report was not good and that people shouldn't take him seriously?

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Yes. Well, they can take him seriously if they want to, but two of his Intel committee members were our Benghazi committee. They didn't sign his report. They signed ours. You don't issue a final definitive report without interviewing eyewitnesses.  He didn't interview the eyewitnesses. He didn't even interview the guy that we found that told us who evacuated our folks from the annex.


BAIER: So here's a candidate who ran in part on the Benghazi issue. You have got the 13 hours guys that endorsed Donald Trump, and you have got a guy running your national security transition that comes under fire from conservatives over Benghazi.

INGRAHAM: Yes. People aren't happy about that. The “13 Hours” guys were infuriated, fuming after that report came out because the report basically called their integrity into question and said that these, you know, heroes were doing it just to sell a book. And I think it's important to note that a lot of the committee members just stopped going to the hearings because they felt it was such a travesty with Mike Rogers. And Benghazi really was the tent pole in what Trump is trying to say about Hillary Clinton.

BAIER: Does Trump not know --

INGRAHAM: I think maybe in the beginning they had all these national security guys who were writing letters against Trump. And so there weren't a lot of people maybe rushing at that point in time in the Intel community to work with Trump. It was Chertoff. It was Rom Ridge. All these guys were against Trump. Mike Rogers comes in and says I will do it. But there a lot of people unhappy about that Mike Rogers deal.

BAIER: We have a lot of days to talk about the transition, in fact 71 more of them before the inauguration. But it's a big job. That is it with the panel, but we'll take a look at a jaw dropping moment from the Cleveland Cavaliers' visit to the White House.



BAIER: Finally tonight, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert was in for quite a surprise apparently during his White House visit today when he discovered that podiums could move. Watch closely.


OBAMA: Why don't we strike the podium here so we get a better picture.  See, come on up.


BAIER: Here he is. What? What? He is very surprised about the podium moving. Wait. They can move the podium? Look at that. Wow. He cannot believe they can move the podium.

Anyway, we thought that was funny.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this “Special Report,” fair, balanced, and unafraid. “On the Record” starts right now.  Does it? Yes.

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