TODD: I`m joined now by Kellyanne Conway, top transition adviser and, of
course, Donald Trump`s campaign manager during the campaign. Kellyanne,
welcome to the set.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRANSITION ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP: Yes, thank you.
TODD: It`s been a while. Let me go right there to Goldman Sachs. He
railed against Goldman Sachs. Three Goldman Sachs alum, fairly prominent
positions. How is this not hypocritical?
CONWAY: He rallied against their political influence. And he doesn`t like
that and he said that they don`t have influence over him, politically. And
they will not have influence over him politically in this White House.
They need to work with him to implement the president-elect`s vision for
TODD: What would Kellyanne Conway say if a president Hillary Clinton
appointed three Goldman Sachs guys? Would you – would you be saying, oh,
they don`t have any influence over her?
CONWAY: You know, I don`t remember myself being incredibly critical of
President-elect Obama`s cabinet positions because – or cabinet selections.
Because every president has the right, in this peaceful transfer of power
in our great democracy, Chuck, to make his own decisions.
In the case here, though, the first criterion is that the person be
qualified and capable to do the job on day one. And to do the job within
the structure that the president-elect has set forward, he`s been very
straight forward about what his vision is for each of the cabinet
TODD: You know, let me take another look. Because this is not the first
Goldman alum to serve in this very post, OK, the chief economic adviser in
the White House. It is basically a – it is almost a Goldman seat. I
don`t to be that cliche, but I think almost every president has had a
Goldman alum serve there at one point.
Is there – was there – was the trashing of Goldman just simply campaign
rhetoric and, sort of, B.S.?
CONWAY: Now, remember, he`s talking about political influence. These are
cabinet positions. These are people that who going to serve –
TODD: They`re political appointments.
CONWAY: They`re making policy. They`re helping to make policy. They`re
helping to roll back really bad policy that we`ve had.
This president wants to create 25 million jobs over 10 years. This
president wants to unleash energy in a way – really have an energy
revolution like we`ve never seen. Invest in coal and shale as well not
just a silly, I`m for all about energy, as they all say, right, left and
He needs people around him who believe in that and can help execute on
that. And you`re not going to find better people than those who have been
at the top of finance, the top of our markets, frankly, and understand how
the markets work.
In the case of Rover Ross, somebody who has taken distressed companies and
turned them around. Each of these men, also, Chuck, are proven job
creators. And that`s a centerpiece of Donald Trump`s administration. It`s
actually a centerpiece of President-elect Donald Trump`s tenure in that
look what he did with Carrier in Indianapolis.
TODD: Let me ask you about this, Rudy Giuliani. The withdrawal today, it
does seem as if it – he was, sort of, out of the mix. Were you – was
everybody just being polite by keeping his name in the mix until Rudy
Giuliani had – was able to withdraw on his own timetable?
CONWAY: Well, it`s a mutual decision by President-elect Trump and Mayor
Giuliani. It should be respected by everyone. They will be close friends.
Mayor Giuliani will continue to be an informal advisor to the president-
elect. And Mayor Giuliani was incredibly loyal to Donald Trump, especially
in his waning months of the campaign.
And, actually, he gave great advice. I grew very close to him in the
course of the campaign. But in addition to that, he is a very lucrative,
very successful, very in demand private sector business. And it`s
difficult for people to walk away from that often enough.
So, I think until the two of them had agreed to this mutually, it really
was up to them to (INAUDIBLE.)
[17:25:03] TODD: I find that an interesting phrase you used, mutual
TODD: Right. That Donald Trump wasn`t – he wasn`t sold on the idea of
Rudy Giuliani as secretary of state.
CONWAY: Oh, no, I mean that the president – no, I meant that, as the
President-elect Trump accepted Mayor Giuliani`s decision to withdraw his
CONWAY: And, obviously, the president-elect is considering a number of
people for that post that the actual scope has widened of late. You just
mentioned Rex Tillerson, the head of Exxon. A very intriguing pick to many
people. He`s already active in Russian, China, Yemen, and the developing
world across our globe. He has the kind of business experience that Donald
CONWAY: That`s your golden question.
TODD: What is the – what is the – what are among the criterias for state
because let me just take – let`s take Rex Tillerson and Mitt Romney. When
it comes to Putin, they totally have different takes on Putin. So,
obviously, you`re sending two different messages, depending on who you
pick. Is the Putin – is the candidate`s position on Putin part of the
CONWAY: Well, the candidates being Tillerson and Romney?
CONWAY: Well, I believe, Chuck, that everybody should recognize it is
President-elect Trump`s position on Putin that will dominate the secretary
of state role at foggy bottom and across the globe.
TODD: So, this is an implementer. Everyone needs to remember that this is
CONWAY: Well, of course, he`ll take the counsel of those around him and he
always does. We always feel welcome. He`s a master listener and learner,
Donald Trump. But he`s also a master communicator in connecting with
And he is sending a message in tone and content to the world through the
secretary of state pick as to how or whom he believes will help implement
his vision, really what will become the Trump doctrine.
And he has been very clear about how he views Vladimir Putin, the
possibilities of coming together, say, to, perhaps, double down and try to
defeat, once and for all, radicals on the terrorism and try to get – to
get the ISIS to actually be the J.V. team that is no longer announcing it
was once said to be by President Obama.
And yet, we know that Vladimir Putin is – also does things that Donald
Trump doesn`t always agree with. I mean, that is going to come with the
territory. He talked to over 50 heads of states since he became the
president-elect. He and Vice President-elect Pence have.
And – but he`s receiving calls. He`s discussing issues with world
leaders, knowing that we still have another president and commander in
chief for the next six weeks or so.
But, at the same time, it doesn`t mean that he agrees with everything or
most things that these leaders are doing or saying.
TODD: You may know bones about Mitt Romney and his position. Is Mitt
Romney still a candidate?
CONWAY: He is. And I also may know bones about the fact that I will
support, completely and whole heartedly, whoever President-elect Trump
picks to serve in his cabinet, including secretary of state. He has my
All I was trying to do was give some voice, first privately and then, with
permission, publicly, to what I saw as just a breathtaking onslaught of
resistance to the idea.
And that came in a week when President-elect Trump told “The New York
Times” on the record, Chuck, that he was rethinking water boarding. That
he had conferred with his now defense department nominee, General Mattis,
that he would take a look at the Paris accords on climate change.
And that he wasn`t much interested in having it as a priority right now,
prosecuting Hillary Clinton. He`s focused on immigration. Health care is
what he said in that on-the-record briefing.
It doesn`t mean that it won`t happen. It doesn`t mean that some other
people are in charge of it. But in the week when he said those things, the
biggest news story for the grass roots was the prospect of secretary of
state, Mitt Romney.
TODD: You were trying to make sure he didn`t – he didn`t miss that.
CONWAY: Well, no, he didn`t miss it because it was said to him privately.
But also, what I think ultimately doesn`t matter. What Donald Trump, as
the president-elect and president of the United States, does is all that
But I appreciate the fact that he takes the counsel and the advice of many
different senior advisers. And, ultimately, we already – we always know
who`s in command and control of the decision. He is a master decision
maker. He is a brilliant – he`s a brilliant accomplished businessman
whose instincts and who`s role intelligence are really incredible.
TODD: I want to ask you about General Flynn and what`s happened in the
countries that surrounds his son. McCaffrey, the former general, NBC News
Military Analyst. He had some tough words for General Flynn to us earlier
this week. I want to play them for you and get you to react.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET): You know, I was very strong in my
endorsement of him when he was first announced in the NSC position. I said
he was correctly probably the best intelligence officer of his generation.
But I must admit, I`m now am extremely uneasy about some of these tweets
which don`t sound so much as if they are political skullduggery, but
instead border on being demented. I think it needs closer scrutiny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Those are tough words from somebody who`s not known as a partisan.
CONWAY: Very tough words.
And the first part which General McCaffrey said hasn`t changed. And that`s
that General Michael Flynn has served his country for 30 years including
five years in combat, many tours of duty, missed his older son`s wedding
and made it just in the nick of time for his second son`s wedding.
These are his sacrifices that people like General Flynn make. And he said
very clear what his top priorities are. He talked about security and peace.
He talked about government reform. And he will – of course he is another
one who will implement what President Donald Trump`s vision for the
national security post is.
But I think what General McCaffrey said about this man`s decades of service
should not be undercut by recent events. I think that would be very
TODD: Why shouldn`t people have some questions about.
CONWAY: I didn`t say they shouldn`t.
TODD: . General Flynn`s judgment that he didn`t, you know, maybe it`s love
for his son that made him not have sort of overlooked or have not used
correct judgment here. Whatever it is, there`s clearly a question he used
wrong judgment here.
CONWAY: They apologized. His son has been removed from the transition team.
The fact is that I think everybody can relate to love for one`s son. But at
the same time we really need to look at his full record. What qualifies him
to be national security adviser and you find a very long list of items in
response to that question.
TODD: If he doesn`t have the respect of the military community though, can
he effectively do that?
CONWAY: You are presuming he doesn`t. He does.
TODD: There is a lot of questions. It is bubbling. It is not, you`re right,
not a lot of people going on the record. General McCaffrey is one of the
few. Would that be a concern to president-elect Trump?
CONWAY: I believe it is not a fact. And I think that people will come on TV
if they have something to say that is negative in that regard, but the
question is does he have the trust of the president-elect Donald Trump? The
question is does he have the trust and the backing of the military
community who are looking at it through a non-jaundiced eye? And so far,
the answer is yes.
TODD: Alright. There`s a lot more to get to, but I don`t have that time.
TODD: We will have you here again.
CONWAY: Thank you.
TODD: Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much, nice to see you. Still ahead,
fake news equals big business in one small European town. NBC News went on
the ground in Macedonia to find out where supposed fake news starts. We got
some interesting details on that up ahead.