What do Cabinet picks say about Trump's administration?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," November 29, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: Another productive day in the transition.

SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENN.: We need to choose someone that he's very comfortable with, that he knows there's going to be no daylight between him and them. The world needs to know that the secretary of state is someone who speaks fully for the president.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: I just had a very substantive and productive conversation with the president-elect, Donald Trump, regarding Homeland Security issues, national security issues, the most important issues facing this nation.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE: Things are in good hands. He's moving forward, and he's going to make America great again.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Dan Quayle there at Trump Tower having lunch, we're told, with vice president-elect Mike Pence as well as meeting with the president- elect. A busy day today, and the breaking news that a treasury secretary nominee has been chosen, as we reported at the top of the show. Steve Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs banker, Dune Capital Management, a person who is well known in the Trump universe because he ran the finances for the Trump campaign. He has been tapped by Donald Trump, we're told, to be treasury secretary. Now, that includes a nomination and an official hearing, and he has to get through all of that. And we're told that that was part of the reason it was taking a little longer to get to the decision, whether he was going to do that.

Also Wilbur Ross, also well known on Wall Street, asset investor, has been tapped, we're told, as the commerce secretary nominee. Other picks, Representative Tom Price from Georgia for HHS. And Elaine Chao, also a former secretary of commerce, and she is also the wife of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. So there is that.

Let's bring in our panel to break down all the latest moves, some of them happening by the minute: Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for The Hill; Charles Hurt, political columnist -- that's not Charles Hurt.

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: Let me introduce myself.

BAIER: Oh, my goodness. The Washington Post, it's not Charles Hurt. Holy cow.

LANES: It hurt.

BAIER: Chuck Lane, Charles Lane. And syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Chuck Lane, I'm going to start with you.


BAIER: Because I so rudely called you Charlie Hurt.

LANE: It's OK. It's a compliment.

BAIER: Yes. OK, let's start with treasury secretary and this word that Steve Mnuchin is the pick.

LANE: That's really interesting to me because in a way, this is maybe marginally the politically riskier pick he could have made. The other person who was being talked about was Jeb Hensarling, the congressman from Texas. He's not going to get it apparently. Steve Mnuchin comes straight out of Wall Street, and that tees up an argument for the Democrats that, you know, here you go, Donald Trump gave you a bait and switch. He talked about a rigged system and he talked about how, you know, insiders were, you know, getting a better deal out of the economy than the average Joe and here he comes along and picks a guy out of Wall Street. You can expect to hear the Democrats saying a lot about that, but on the other hand, Donald Trump in his own business career doesn't have great relationships with Wall Street, and presumably one of the things Mnuchin brings to the table for Trump is a bridge to that financial community.

BAIER: Yes, Jonathan, I mean, some of the initial reaction on Twitter is, you know, are we draining the swamp or not? But, as Chuck points out, there is a calming effect if somebody like a Jamie Dimon or Steve Mnuchin or someone gets through and becomes treasury secretary.

JONATHAN SWAN, THE HILL: Steve Mnuchin is very well connected on Wall Street. He's not politically that well connected. When I was covering this and he was first appointed finance chair, I was calling around, and most Republicans hadn't heard of him. But he's very well connected on Wall Street. He's not going to give people jitters on that score. And it really does seem to be to be a pure loyalty play. Steve Mnuchin signed up with Trump when it wasn't popular to do so. He took a lot of hate for doing so and seems like he's getting rewarded for that.

BAIER: But it's interesting you point that out, because a pure loyalty play would also tend to lend its toward Rudy Giuliani as secretary of state. However, it's taking a while to get to that decision.

SWAN: It's public torture of Rudy Giuliani, excruciating to watch. And I think Rudy Giuliani thought that was going to be the case. He was telling people weeks ago that's the only position he wanted. I was talking to sources who were on the phone to him and he was making that very clear. And this is now extended out. Some of the story have come out about his business entanglements overseas and it seems like there is real hesitation there.

BAIER: Charles, your thoughts on these picks today and what they say about an upcoming Trump administration?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It tells me that Trump wants to get stuff done. He doesn't care if he creates an argument for Democrats to say you're hypocritical about Wall Street. He cares about results. And you see that in the Tom Price pick. He is the perfect man if you want to dismantle Obamacare, and that is very difficult and it will be a drawn-out process that Price has been working on since before Obamacare was passed. He's a doctor. He knows exactly what the various plans are. The key to his plan, the one he's proposed every year for the last eight years, is to give tax credits, not just tax deductions, that are far more expensive but allows the individual to choose their own insurance.

Look, his argument and Trump's argument is you want to have the widest coverage you can. You don't want to be seen as the Grinch taking it away. But with the Democrats, what liberals do reflexively is if you give something, you want to get control. And the Price plan idea is to remove government control and dictation as to what you have to do, what you have to have in your plan, and how the system is run. I think it's a good plan, and this is the right guy to get it done.

BAIER: OK, let's put up the short list for secretary of state. We mentioned it briefly there. Mitt Romney, former GOP nominee, is having dinner with the president-elect. You wonder, you know, how that dinner is going, what it means. You see Rudy Giuliani there. David Petraeus, former general, met yesterday with the president-elect. Bob Corker, chairman of Senate foreign relations, met today. And John Bolton's name is still on there, Chuck.

LANE: Well, you know, Jonathan said this is torture for Rudy. I'm thinking it's kind of a little bit of torture for Mitt Romney. I mean, my goodness, this is a guy who is -- there's talk that he's going to have to apologize, some people want him to apologize before he does this. He's a former nominee of the party being made to come, you know, I guess plead or ask or audition twice now in front of Donald Trump. And if he ends up not getting it, I think it would be kind of a humiliating experience for him.

But really interesting one on that list is David Petraeus who, after all, you know, had to plead guilty in a case involving his mishandling of classified information right after a campaign in which the argument was that Hillary Clinton was disqualified to be commander in chief because of her e-mail scandal. I understand there are differences between the two cases. But David Petraeus also, you know, lied to the FBI in the course of that investigation. That's pretty serious business. And if he chooses him -- he's a very able man, there's no question about it -- Trump is going to have a lot of explaining to do on that point.

BAIER: Jonathan, how much do you think, talking to the Trump people that you talked to, the potential for explosions in the confirmation hearings factors into where his head is on some of these picks.

SWAN: It really factors in. I'll give you a great example, Chris Christie. We haven't talked about that guy for a long time. But I talked to a senior Trump source, I said what about Chris Christi Christie? And he said one thing, he said, let me ask you a question. Do you think Chris Christie would get through a confirmation hearing? And I said good question. He said, yes, it's a good question. And they're thinking about this stuff. They really -- they're looking ahead and saying, OK, we're going to cop some heat with Jeff Sessions. How much political capital are we willing to invest in these different people? It's absolutely on their minds.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I think their main concern, again, is not what people will remember what was said in the campaign and how that may have contradicted who ends up getting appointed, like Petraeus. Does anybody remember what Obama promised in '08 and how that might have contradicted how he made his appointments in '09? No. All you care about is results.

And I see Trump being decisive and very specific. Sessions, he wanted as a guy who's going to go after immigration seriously. Price is going to change Obamacare, going to abolish it and replace it. And there's another element in that appointment. Price is really close to Paul Ryan. He inherited his position as head of the budget committee. He's completely on board with the entire Ryan agenda. This is a signal that Trump is prepared to work very closely on domestic issues with the Ryan House and that they actually want to go through an agenda. That's extremely encouraging.

BAIER: All right, one clarification, the administration wants to point out that James Baker, George Schultz, a former ambassador, the current person on the ground in England, went to Margaret Thatcher's funeral in 2013 but no one from the administration attended. Wanted to clarify that.

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