Steve Inskeep on White House Transition: Both Sides Insist on Mechanical Level, 'It's Fine'

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13:00 | 01/01/17

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Transcript for Steve Inskeep on White House Transition: Both Sides Insist on Mechanical Level, 'It's Fine'
Okay doctor. Let. She's doing her. And there's president elect trumpet last night talking about the latest moves by President Obama. I'm joined this first day of 2017 by an. NPR's Steve Inskeep move on dot Orix create John Pierre Republican strategist Kevin Madden. And our very own congressional correspondent. Mary Bruce. So Steve view. Just back from your exit interview extensive acts interview with President Obama what what's your sense reading between the lines. How does he feel this transition is Gil. Well I hear from both sides job that in spite of some of the fireworks in recent days that the logistics the basic work of the transition is going on people on both sides insist that on that mechanical level it's fine. But clearly there's a slight difference of opinion on issue after issue after issue which they're continuing to press. And you heard president elect prompts say in that clip just a second ago. He's president until January 20 referring to President Obama. That is exactly the way the current president sees it obviously he's been comfortable taking dramatic last minute actions about oil drilling for example about Israel. On some other issues regarding the Russians which have been talking about. And they are intent as I understand it is to keep going in that same way right up until the advocates see more dramatics from this administration. So it's extra order on all sides to be we've had this traditional area of one president at a time mandate the tradition is that the outgoing president is you don't kind of taken a foot off the gas the incoming president doesn't comment on our on foreign policy and other major issues. I mean I'm sorry. Unless this time are up and he you know this White House is reminding publicly of that. Protocol that tradition that there is one president at a time you hear from Trump's team will they respect that. But it certainly Donald Trump does they say is not the money's going to sit idly by he's going to act he's going to take action and ST mentions you're seeing. President Obama do that as well he is throwing up you know roadblock after roadblock as many world will criticize him for doing but there's a present about as well. Many presidents have certainly tried to cement their legacy try to get a lot of things done as the clock ticked down to to their. Part soap McCree in the when you look towards these first hundred days and the confirmation battles ahead those hearings are actually gonna start. Up four. Trump is sworn in. What are where the Democrats gonna pick their biggest fights and it's. It's hard to tell right now where the the biggest fights are going to happen because haven new congress has even been confirmed jet but I will say that they will ask some pointed serious questions right you have. You have many questionable. Cabinet picks like Tillerson rate where you hear senators. McCain and Marco Rubio even in and Graham saying hate group we're not comfortable with this guy who has close relationships. With Russia and also. If he becomes secretary of state he will be the first secretary of state that doesn't have government experience. And has never been an area that that they're gonna try I think I I think there might be some bipartisan parson consensus on that land and effort from these sessions rate who has. Has some questionable a kind of stance on on on racial issues in this country. You have you have HHS and Ben Carson who's own who's a little spot person. Yes but hinted at who owns Burson said hey you know let he's not even ready he could he shouldn't be leading an agency so I think there is going to be some strong pointed questions that the Democrats will ask. And I think the other part of it too is the conflict of interest if that's not dealt with. By Donald Trump witches with what constitutional lawyers and folks from the White House who who served on both side of the aisle have said hey you need to divest. From your businesses in order to not have conflict it be interesting to see if congress is going to do their duty and really asked of strong but. But Kevin it's gonna take what fire Republicans. Assuming all the Democrats remain united to beat anyone of these nominees. And I don't see that I do agree that that many Democrats see. That is particularly against the backdrop of the allegations of Russian acting right now. The the confirmation hearings with Rex Tillerson has. One of the areas where maybe you had a nominee who's vulnerable from criticism inside their own party. And I do believe that the culture wars will be very hard to resist. Up on Capitol Hill with regard to the nomination of Jeff Sessions. But I think if you look at the numbers across the board from from from them puck inside the Republican Party. Up on Capitol Hill I think the numbers are there for received confirmation of those two nominees. But where's the biggest battle going to be outlets so much interest in where the Democrats are gonna go after trump that's predictable. But where's the biggest battle with the Republicans will get on the trillion dollar infrastructure plan is talking about doing where's it all yeah Russia's. Well I think the Russia stuff I I do think there's a leadership test for Republicans here. All are we going to see a party sort of resort partisan tribalism and just defend. The but that the Dave incoming president because he happens to be of the same party or is this an opportunity to really demonstrate that they have a better way forward on things like national security and foreign policy that will be a big test. And who going that well I think the sanctions I think what you're seeing right now what President Obama has just done on Russia is puts Republicans now on a collision course with president dropped. This is the first big break in your RD seeing signs about I mean so far. Republicans have been walking this fine line they've been careful to make clear where they disagree with the president elect but they have been criticizing him. And you're seeing that start to change every penny comes out and praises tune every time he. Questions US intelligence that starts to crack added that all of these calls for even tougher sanctions then honey maybe a. In principle what the president elect is trying to do makes sense and is within the within the bounds of what previous presidents have done you heard Sean Spicer say it earlier he was saying. The president elect just wants a better relationship with Russia it's in US interest and if you talk. With people who were around trumped they will say look to Russia's an important country China is an important country want to play one off the other. That's what they'll say but there's a tone in the president elect's remarks that has concerned a lot of people. And there is something happening in the Republican Party within the Republican Party. As regards Putin and Russia there's a guy named Mike Gonzales he writes for other Heritage Foundation who put out a thing the other day pointing out that there are a lot of people within the Republican Party. Who would become enamored of Putin who portrays himself it is as a defender of Christian. Western civilization values that conservatives would hold dear. But it's lot of Mir Putin as this guy points out and that's causing a real friction within the Republican Party that's reflected in some of the remarks the president elect makes our. Flashback to a moment in the 2012 campaign during you know you if you remember. Mitt Romney said that Russia is America's biggest greatest geopolitical followed this number I just. Present a problem. As governor Romney I'm glad that you recognize that al-Qaeda threat because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America you said Russia. Not al-Qaeda is that Russia. In the 1980s are now calling asked for their foreign policy back I mean if everything here is. Obama seems to be channeling a future president elect the. Well look there there that's why there is a bit of that that the White House right now does have a credibility crisis on this they did for very long mock anybody who. Criticized the that they are position on. On June particularly during the 2000. 2011 when he be proclaimed that he wanted to be more flexible while with been on president Medvedev. So this is this is a particular problem that's why I think that the actions right now that you seen. In the twilight. Of the of them Obama presidency do look like they're somewhat. Toothless can I mentioned though I don't think that the president the current president has really changed his view of Russia he's continue to say even in recent days these people aren't that strong they don't make anything important they're not that great country. But we need to deal with them as as a threat. So he still doesn't see Russia I know I'm not sure that he does see Russia is a big problem but obviously Russia has made itself a big problem that the United States has not figured out under this president how to deal with. And I would have to say the only difference here is that Russia has actually tried to undermine democracy right and so this is why the reaction of the president has been such as it as it is. And what I mean the best thing to his. On the Republican side the person who's the leader of their curry is tweeting about how wonderful. Vladimir Putin is and that is a problem for Republicans how are they going to deal with that and you hadn't had a question earlier John in about what's going to be the big fight. Here's a thing are not at the get the Trump's campaign rhetoric. It's going to bump against. Mitt Mitt Mitt Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and what they want to do you in their budget is that's when it comes to things like social security and Medicare. Joseph pets but I don't want to top touch those things so what is that going to look like as this has. As we do know how how big outing desert when how long the price tag of populism. Locals a good way to put glass up on Capitol Hill before there is a collision with the fiscal hawks upon capital. Let mr. trump teams spend if I can Jared briefly if that's the word of the way that that trump has spoken about Putin's one way to portray that is he's trying to get food and to trust him. That's the way it is described sometimes what people around. Mr. trump. But the you have to ask is who never going to trust the United States and can the United States ever trust put that's going to be the child will most want to the Democrats because you know this was a tough election tree right. Absolutely this was that this was a tough election Democrats who is right now the leading spokesperson. For the democratic. Party is it they'll cut Warren Bernie Sanders wing still five stop at what roles Obama gonna play I mean what who'll. Who leads the charge. Well right now prison Obama is kind is the leader of the Democratic Party or what are your Saturday for a twenty or so days and and we've also see what he's planning to do which which trying to put a organization. To really deal with 20/20 redistricting which I think will be very important we'll help rebuild. The Democratic Party look I think the way that I see it is a Democrats need to come together and B and create a national resistance. And it's going to start in the states and we have 2018 coming around and that's going to be very important to build what's going on you know get back to state legislators dean's gubernatorial races. And is going to lead not just when it when he read it election but also redistricting as I just mentioned. But lastly voter suppression is going to be really key and that's where I believe the Democrats should be trying to really. Get behind. Let's notion of an avenue outsiders like it's taken a page out of the Republican playbook here it is the Republican playbook but somebody I mean doesn't have to he had no word. Mark Cuban. We're writing program on DA's out there you know. Up and put pictures you Howard Schultz volume founder of Starbucks. If stepping down in April and believe it is ready to go may be made. It's a possibility and down from the shown that that that playbook can be followed any Democrats have a big bench probably mean even Harry Reid. Reportedly joking that you know it looks like an old folks on the big they have a big issue here in what are they going to do to fill that and if you look even at the leaders in congress. Especially not look to the committee's right look at who's on what committees right now you've got Warren on armed services Cory Booker on foreign relations Klobuchar on armed services they're all. On these committees now that are ready yet as a platform right OK as a minister we. We're we're almost out of time I've got to get to prediction so to all of you first of law want to ask. What will be the biggest trump promised that he delivers on what will be the biggest one that he fails to the LeBron Stevens get there will be an increase in manufacturing jobs but surely not to the grand dimensions that the president elect promised during his campaign because trade has not been according to economists the real cost of the real cause of the loss of manufacturing jobs something that'll keep I think he is gonna change the tone of the political conversation forced Democrats to compete differently and change American politics and a great way or a tremendous way let's not from embrace good or bad I don't know but it had a huge range. Look I pick up unfortunately for a lot of Americans Donald Trump does have the votes in congress to repeal to take away. A health care for many Americans may think that could potentially happen something he delivers on. The other thing is you know for all those folks who works chanting at his rallies Mexico is not going to pay for the wall that is great I don't. I actually agree with both of those the -- repeal of the ACA I think he's going to happen very quickly it's not only a priority of of of president trump but of the of the congress and and I think. The idea the we're gonna see a physical wall. Is is not one that I think that's something they're gonna start walking back right away her quick I was Steve I think the change in tone you're already seeing that he shaking things up that's for sure. Muslim ban not. Here all right that's all the time we have will be right back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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