How President-elect Donald Trump dominated 2016

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 7, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: We're in the process of putting together one of the all-time great Cabinets that has ever been assembled in our nation's history.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: President-elect Trump and vice- president-elect Pence have met with over 70 or 75 men and women, not all of whom will end up in the cabinet or are they seeking to, but really very appreciative of their council, their advice, their experiences and their vision for this nation.


JAMES ROSEN, GUEST ANCHOR: All right, that was Kellyanne Conway, the senior Trump adviser speaking on Fox News earlier today, preceded of course by her boss talking about putting together one of the all-time great Cabinets.

Let's look at how that cabinet is now shaping up. Just in the past 24 hours or so, we are getting word of a bunch of new picks by Mr. Trump, including Iowa governor Terry Branstad as the U.S. ambassador to China, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly as the secretary of homeland security, according to him. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a critic of the EPA, is now in line to be nominated at the EPA administrator. And Linda McMahon, former wrestling executive and former senate candidate, is now going to be nominated as the administrator for the small business administration.

Also in today's news, Time named Donald Trump as its person of the year, but also adding in its headline there on front of the magazine, you can see it, "President of the divided states of America." Let's talk about this with our panel: Syndicated columnist George Will, A.B. Stoddard; associate editor at RealClearPolitics, and Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times.

George Will, we begin with you. What do you make of this Time magazine cover?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's obviously right. It's an easy call. It's supposed to be the person who dominated the news. The first one they had in 1927 was Charles Lindbergh. A few hours over the Atlantic but he did dominate the news. In 1936, I give you 20 guesses. You won't guess who it was. Wallace Simpson. If you had been the crown you'd know that it was a big deal at that time. So it's a good choice by them. "Time" has on some years has thrown up its hands because it wasn't dominated by someone. In 1982, it was the computer. In 1966, it was Americans under 26. In 2006, they put a mirror on the cover, and the person of the year was you. It was a tribute to our national narcissism, I guess.


WILL: But this I said was a very easy choice and rewrite the rules, dominated the year. Good for him.

ROSEN: One has to imagine Hillary Clinton agrees, although she might decide that the people who were most decisive in this election were probably James Comey and Putin and Julian Assange. Sometimes Time magazine doesn't always flatter the person they choose as man of the year. In 1972 when Richard Nixon won reelection with 49 state, they put a paper mache of his head, and it wasn't the most flattering image of the man. A.B., what do you make of this headline, "President of the divided states of America"?

A.B. STODDARD, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, Donald Trump loves being named person of the year. It's a big deal to him. He felt that that was a little bit snarky, he said, the divided states of America.

ROSEN: Was he right?

STODDARD: Is it in the copy in the story is about basically -- it's not flattering, per se. There's a lot of criticism woven into there. But it's Donald Trump in all of his dominating. George is right, he dominated the year and it was an obvious choice. They wouldn't have -- they couldn't have picked anybody else. And Donald Trump does not hide his delight at being picked "Time" person of the year.

ROSEN: Mr. Trump conducted a telephone interview with the "Today" show on NBC this morning in which he discussed his continuing deliberations over the person who will serve as his secretary of state. Let's listen to that.


MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Let me go back to Mitt Romney. Is he still under consideration?

TRUMP: Yes, he is.

LAUER: Does he have a chance to become secretary of state?

TRUMP: Yes, he does. I mean, I've spoken to him a lot. We have come a long way together. We had some tremendous difficulty together, and now I think we have come a long way.


ROSEN: All right, Charlie Hurt, what do you make of the continuing deliberations over the secretary of state job? We have ambassadors to the U.N. named. We have an ambassador to China named. But those people don't know who their boss at the State Department is going to be yet.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Well, if he does pick Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney will have earned it for the times he has had to go to Bedminster to kiss the ring. From the beginning, I thought that it was a very distinct possibility that he could possibly pick him, for a host of reasons, not the least of which is Donald Trump does want to prove he can make good with people that he has had big fights with in the past.

One of the things that I think is particularly interesting about the Time man of the year thing is that at least Time magazine has not learned a lesson about Donald Trump, because they also took -- not only did they have the phrase about the divided states of America, but they -- Nancy gives at the beginning, the managing editor, wrote this forward in which she called him a huckster, an addict, a fabulist, and a demagogue. And people may all agree these are accurate terms, but this is -- it's hardly a fair way to describe a guy that has just won the presidency.

ROSEN: It's not reminiscent of the clean shave for President Nixon. Do we have the short list? Can we bring up the short list of secretary of state candidates? So let's look at this short list. This is the longest short list I have ever seen. The list of single malt scotches at the Trump International Hotel probably isn't this long.


ROSEN: A.B., it seems to be expanding and growing. And what does this say for both Mr. Trump's decision making in this moment and whether the person who eventually gets it might enter the office somehow weakened?

STODDARD: Well, there were two things, I think going on. When they announced a few at the start of the week that it was expanding, there were some indications that they're really having trouble with dissent over Giuliani, Petraeus, much more Romney, not sure which direction to go. And they keep throwing out Senator Corker and I just don't think Trump is serious about picking him. But I could be wrong.

And I think this need to expand the list all of a sudden was a sure sign that they weren't -- he wasn't comfortable with his choices, or the team wasn't, or something.

And I think that there's also a part of this -- governing is going to be pretty boring for Donald Trump. It doesn't mean he is not going to it. But this deal a day thing he is doing with Boeing and Carrier and all this stuff is a sign that life is a TV show and he wants to show that things are going on and they're exciting and he is making things happen. The secretary of state has become such an important position and the process is so agonizing, and I do think he is kind of enjoying it.

So he has more time to pick someone. The list is long. He is considering the head of Exxon Mobil. He is making it much bigger than it has to be and louder than it has to be, and I do think he does sort of like all the attention to the process.

BAIER: George, 30 seconds left. I seem to remember in 1988 as soon as he won George H. W. Bush, the first thing he did was name James Baker as his secretary of state. Does this show a certain indecisiveness on the part of our president-elect?

WILL: It's odd to allow staff, and a lot of the dissent you tour is coming from staff. It's odd to allow staff to have an opinion. They are not people. They're staff. They should get on with it.

But this looks like a good administration in which to be secretary of state. It was agony for Secretary of State Rogers under Nixon in his first term because the national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, dealt with the president and left him out, didn't even tell him about the opening to China. Because Mr. Trump may not be absolutely obsessed with details about this, this would be a great time to restore the office of secretary of state.

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