Insiders Vs. Outsiders? A Look Inside Trump's Transition Team Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a member of Donald Trump's transition team, discusses conflict within his circle of advisers and his plans to "drain the swamp" with NPR's Robert Siegel.
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Insiders Vs. Outsiders? A Look Inside Trump's Transition Team

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Insiders Vs. Outsiders? A Look Inside Trump's Transition Team

Insiders Vs. Outsiders? A Look Inside Trump's Transition Team

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I spoke earlier with a member of Trump's transition team, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She's represented the 7th Congressional District of Tennessee in Washington since 2003, and she says there are only healthy discussions going on between establishment Republicans and Trump loyalists on the transition team. And she says Steve Bannon's appointment should be taken in context.

MARSHA BLACKBURN: When you look at the different appointments that are going to come into the administration, I think you choose the right person for the right job. This is someone Mr. Trump has confidence in. He has done a good job.

And what we need to do is give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt that the people who helped him run this campaign and then move to the point that he was elected president and has over 300 electoral votes - that they are in touch with what the American people want to see happen...

SIEGEL: Stephen Bannon has been quoted.

BLACKBURN: ...In this administration.

SIEGEL: Yeah, Stephen Bannon, though, has been quoted as saying such things as, I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment, and what we need to do is bitch slap the Republican Party.

He speaks of being virulently anti-establishment. You've been in Congress for seven terms. I mean do you feel like you're part of the establishment that he's talking about?

BLACKBURN: There are people that are going to say that I am part of the establishment. There are people that are going to say that I am part of the Tea Party. And what you have to realize is that having those monikers and those titles probably received too much credence from the media. I look at it as being somebody who is here to do my job. I accept that as all part of the conversation that takes place on a daily basis around anyone that is in elective office.

SIEGEL: But Trump has raised systemic structural issues about Washington. The closing argument of his campaign was drain the swamp. And I just wonder. How do people like you who've been working in Washington for years take to hearing the relationship between politicians and lobbyists as a swamp of corruption?

BLACKBURN: (Laughter) Well, I have to tell you. Drain the swamp is a term that I have heard for years and years and years. And I came to Washington saying my only special interest was the people of the 7th District of Tennessee because you do have special interests that have been able to get in here and work on getting provisions into tax law or into different bills. And the American tax payer wants to make certain that that comes to an end.

SIEGEL: Representative Blackburn, though, you're vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. You've received contributions in the most recent cycle from insurance companies - Aetna, BlueCross, BlueShield, from Koch Industries, AT&T, Verizon among others. Trump says rich people and corporations give money to politicians to get them to do favors for them. I mean is he fundamentally right or wrong about politics and money in Washington?

BLACKBURN: I - he has some points that are credible, and I would say that his points apply differently to different people. But what you do need to do is get some of the money out of politics. And I am thrilled that Donald Trump was able to run a presidential campaign and spend less than half of what Hillary Clinton spent and then spend less than a fourth of what Barack Obama spent in his election campaign.

SIEGEL: That was Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican and a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team executive committee.

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