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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  January 26, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PST

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but mitch mcconnell said they are going to be looking at ways to pay pfor this wall and president trump will have to deal with the diplomatic fallout. >> and fallout, just beginning. it's not even begun to see what the fallout is from this. jim acosta, thanks. our special coverage will continue in just a moment with john king. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. breaking news this hour. that's philadelphia on the screen. air force one has just landed. president trump's first ride on air force one. a short trip from washington up to philadelphia where just moments from now he'll address a very important meeting. republican leadership gathered at a strategy retreat in philadelphia. a lot to work out there. also some breaking news on that flight. the white house press secretary sean spicer saying this afternoon when he's back in washington, the president of the united states will sign an executive order going forward with what he has promised to have an investigation into voter fraud. voter fraud that just about everybody else says didn't happen but the president of the
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united states will sign an executive order later today ordering some investigation into what he says is his belief that millions of undocumented workers -- undocumented voted in the last election. more breaking news from air force one. the president of the united states is meet with the british prime minister theresa may tomorrow. the first foreign leader to meet with president trump. they'll have a jount news conference at the white house. and even more breaking news. you may have heard it last hour with john and kate. enrique pena nieto due here in washington next week to meet with president trump canceling that trip saying he'll not come to washington now because of the executive order president trump signed yesterday trying to speed construction of a border wall along the u.s./mexico border. you see right there the president's plane, air force one. his first time on air force one as president. we'll stay with these pictures. see what he does when he comes off the plane. then he heads to a very, very important meeting. i may bring in my panel here to have a conversation as this goes forward. with me to share the reporting and insights, glen trust of the
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"new york times." a very important meeting just minutes away for this president. on the surface, republicans are in this great mood of celebration. we control everything. we have a republican president. we have the house. we have the senate. we want to cut taxes. have stronger immigration policies. we want to create jobs, repeal and replirace obamacare. here's the house speaker paul ryan up in philadelphia saying all is fine. >> weer the same page with the white house. wooe we've been working with the administration to work out and plan a very bold aggressive to make good on our campaign promises and to fix these problems. >> but there's always a but, they have profound disagreements over how to replace obamacare. let alone with the white house where they think this president has boxed them in saying i like
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some of the most popular and most expensive parts of obamacare. they don't like his trade policy, immigration policy. they are furious that he keeps wandering off into conversations about torture, waterboarding and voter fraud. >> that's what i enjoyed about paul ryan's approach to this during the election. he recognized this is not exactly coming together in the way that we traditionally have seen a reconciliation of a party to a nominee. that being said, he's been friendly and they've had plenty of back and forth. it may have earned him a bit of respect from a negotiating partner but there are going to be negotiations. it's not a -- it's not a yes, we are doing this and everyone agrees. there are very powerful parts of the republican party. there's still free trade and other things. >> and as we watch this picture and i want to dig much deeper on the domestic issues the president will be discuss with his republican allies in moments. look at the banner right there. right out of the box, day six of
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the trump presidency. this would be a contentious relationship. it's also a critical economic relationship. the united states and mexico to our south. not just about the border and immigration. a huge trading partner with canada as well to our north. what does it tell us that you essentially have two men who are digging in their heels against each other. the mexican president says i'm not coming if right out of the box you're saying, we'll pay for that number. >> two numbers are vital to understand. one is 12%, which is what president nieto's approval rating is in mexico right now. he has tanked. and particularly tanked since his meet with the president during the campaign. and the other is president trump's approval rating between 37% and 41%. the thing that's really striking here is you have two leaders on the border who are both historically unpopular at this point in their tenures. and to some extent, this is a conflict that benefits both of them in terms of galvanizing their bases and appearing to at
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least be tough. >> benefits both of them politically in that if you are a trump voter out there and immigration was important, the fact he's in this fight with the mexican president out of the box is graduateat. he's going to be tougher. if you look more broadly at the economic partnership, trump wanted to test the waters of renegotiating nafta. as a candidate, said he was going to rip it up. now he said he wants to renegotiate it. we didn't have supercomputers in our pockets, plants didn't have so much automation. the countries have changed considerably. what does it do to the tone of that, an important economic conversation when now they're at each other over the immigration point? >> it's also going to test how this republican party is reshaped. thinking about how the republican party has been so free trade over so many years and you've had donald trump come out with this america first policy as he's rebranded it to be. something about protectionist, populist, nationalist agenda that has to do with trade.
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you've seen some industry groups, agriculture, for example, beef producers come out and say that they think that this is a big problem trying to renegotiate nafta. getting out of tpp. that they export a lot of their -- a lot of their agricultural products. so this is going to fundamentally, we're going to get an idea now finally putting some practicality on a lot of those lofty goals and ambitions that donald trump had tried to say that he would want to do during the campaign and also happens to be during that time when republicans are there in philadelphia as you noted who are going to have to put the money on the table for doing a lot of these really ambitious projects that trump wants to. >> the bottom line is you can't have a deal or a negotiation if nobody is at the table. and trump is supposed to be a dealmaker. and he's executing on his promise to treat this like he would a business deal. but i think he's going to learn, and maybe this is a good illustration of this, that
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diplomacy is not the same thing as deal making. in the context of a board room and money making. it's just not the same. and nobody is at the table right now. it's hard to have a renegotiation of nafta under those terms. it's impossible to work with mexico on other issues, including border security and also the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband across the border. those are issues we work with mexico on every single day. if they're not talking, it's not going to happen. >> we're going to spend a lot of time on important policy issues in the hour ahead. thus relationship that's gone off the rails in the very first week. difficult negotiations the president has, even though republicans are happy at the moment and celebrating. the devil is in the details. there's a lot of disagreement on the details. president trump. you see the vice president on the left. he's at the meeting in philadelphia as well as republicans gather. these are the debates that cost john boehner his job. so many disagreements within the republican conference on taxes and spending. if we're spending here,
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shouldn't we offset here. the border wall will cost $15 billion. you can be certain that the tea party and misicfiscal conservat will say, that's fine but where is that money coming from? i want to stop on the big picture you see there. because it's not going to affect the price of bread, relationships with mexico or whether donald trump gets his agenda through the congress but the trappings of the presidency are still new to him. his first flight on air force one during the transition. he caused a bit of a stir about replacing this plane. the 747. any plane the president is on is designated air force one. this is the 747. he gave a communicate yesterday where he was talking about it, whether you are a trump supporter or not, how cool it was to have the high-tech -- >> these are the most beautiful phones i've ever seen. >> so secure. and about -- >> and just explode -- the words just explode in the air. >> and walking the halls. he put a picture of andrew
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jackson in the office. brought back the churchill bust. to walk through and sleep where lincoln slept and roamed in the house. whatever your political views. we're awaiting the president of the united states to step off. whatever your political views. that's the air force attendant, i believe. it's cool and must be an interesting adjustment in to the trappings of the presidency. >> it's nice to hear him be a little taken aback because he's a man who has plenty of trappings of his own. seeing that and maybe a tiny bit humbled occasionally is a nice thing to see from a president trump. >> and didn't he put bill clinton's drapes back in the oval office, which i thought was -- >> something about sitting behind that desk in the oval office he seems particularly enamored with. it definitely makes you feel like the president. >> it's getting cluttered like his trump tower desk. >> as we wait for the president to step off here, but my colleague manu raju is at the philadelphia retreat and spoke
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not long ago with the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell in these negotiations on all the domestic issues. you asked mitch mcconnell whether it was smart for trump to get into a twitter fight with the mexican president. >> indeed, i did. mcconnell side stepping that, not wanting to give the president of the united states advice. i asked him specifically, should president trump tone it down and try to salvage this relationship with mexico? take a listen to mcconnell's response. >> -- >> i don't have any advice to give to the president about that issue. we are moving ahead. as the speaker pointed out to our group yesterday with --
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roughly -- >> 12 to 15. >> -- 12 to $15 billion. we intend to address the wall issue ourselves. >> and i asked -- i asked them afterwards, what do you think about the relationship with mexico? are you concerned about the u.s./mexico relationship. and paul ryan said, i think we'll be fine and moved on from there. they clearly don't want to talk about donald trump's tone, his tweeting but making some news about the cost of that proposal. and interestingly, too, john, not saying whether or not that $12 billion to $15 billion package will be offset by corresponding spending cuts. you were mentioning fiscal conservatives raising concerns about deficit spending. this could be deficit spending if mexico does not, indeed, pay for the wall. and $12 billion to $15 billion is a lot of money, of course, and a lot more than even a lot of federal agencies, major
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programs through the federal budget. whether or not they can actually get this money appropriated is a big question. and it could -- they can't get it approved it could undermine and undercut one of donald trump's key agenda items. an interesting development and one that sort of up ends the republicans carefully laid plans. now they have to worry about this as well, john. >> here we see, manu raju at the retreat where the president will be momentarily. president trump coming down the steps at the philadelphia international airport. he's got a crisp salute. he's been working on that. interesting to watch a new president in his early days in office. straight into the motorcade and off to that retreat. as we noted, if you are just joining us, on the flight up from washington, the white house learned number one the mexican president has canceled his planned meet with the president of the united states. president enrique pena nieto
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will not travel to the united states next week because he's angry that donald trump signed an executive action to speed construction of the border wall and take several other steps related to immigration and made clear that ultimately he expects mexico to pay for that wall. the profit mexico canceling that trip. a diplomatic stir on just day six of the trump administration. the white house press secretary on the flight up also announcing, let's discuss this that lart today the president will sign an executive order. we don't know the details yet. when you talk about this, the president can sign a piece of paper. that doesn't necessarily mean that that stuff happens. we see the president can sign an executive order and it states his goal. states what he wants. doesn't necessarily mean he can achieve all those things. we'll get an executive order later to carry out what the president says he now wants, an rftigation into his belief that 3 million to 5 million undocumented here in the united states, illegally voted in the presidential election. we'll keep an eye on the motorcade as it prepares to
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leave here. we don't know the details, obviously. we have to look at it. is he asking the justice department to do this? calling on states? the constitution leads to the states administration of elections. states leave it to their individual counties or however they break down their structures. yesterday sean spicer believed this happened mostly in new york and california. election officials in both of those states have said preposterous. we've looked at our elections. we don't believe there's any significant fraud and something on that scale. >> our elections system is a product of federalism. something liberals will learn and love during the trump years probably, but -- >> well played. >> there's a distinction here. does voter fraud exist? >> yes. >> dont tell anybody it does not exist. does large widespread change the face of the election exist in 2016? no it did not. what he ends up saying he wants to investigate, because it would
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go beyond 2016. it may be a broader investigation. i don't think it's necessary but there's a distinction there. >> the country has already paid for a voter frautd investigation from 2002 to 2007, the bush administration under went its own voter fraud investigation. they found something like 129 people who may have voted illegally. that is not 3 million to 5 million people. not even close to the kind of scale or any evidence that there could potentially be some kind of widespread voter conspiracy. a mini part of this played out in north carolina during the recount when the outgoing governor was defeated and they went through this broad recount to see if there were other -- potential for people who may have voted illegally. and what the court actually found was that one of the people who was a republican actually had coordinated some effort to
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have people vote illegally. even though they were looking mostly in african-american areas n found little to nothing. a lot of it is around voter assistance. jeff sessions back in 1986, which derailed part of his -- his trying to become a federal judge, was that he had brought to court some folks who had helped with voter assistance which is legal. and they claim that that was some show of voter fraud which was not. and the court threw that out. >> to your point, i think i personally, if this is a bipartisan commission, independent of the president's control that's going to investigate this, i would feel much more comfortable about it. and why have a narrow view of this stuff? there were accusations in north carolina in particular that the closing of polling sites and restrictions in places like florida and early voting had a suppression effect. why don't we use this inquiry that the president seems to want to make to open up the whole question. there are real questions about
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the validity of the election that extend beyond his accusations. >> the devil is in the details. i think if at the end of this week donald trump has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of executive orders by essentially making them hollow, i think that will probably do more damage to his cause than help it. we have no idea what this investigation is going to be. we have no idea where it's going to be centered or who is going to pay for it. and we have to have those details first because we can't assume that it's going to even exist. and, you know, it's very possible to write an executive order that calls for someone to look into creating an investigation that does not create an investigation. >> it is hard to pursue facts that are not on the table that nobody else believes exists that the president and most people think you are the president and very few others are out on their own. the devil is in the details. we'll get that order later today. we'll also hear from the president drctly. he's in the motorcade. he'll be addressing republican readers gathered in philadelphia. replacing obamacare, tax cuts, a
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growth agenda, foreign policy. a lot for the president to discuss. we'll take you there live when it happens. "inside politics" back after a quick break. people confuse nice and kind but they're different... nice tells you what you want to hear. but kind is honest. this bar is made with cranberries and almonds. so, guess what? we call it cranberry almond. give kind a try.
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welcome back to "inside politics." live pictures there, the lowes hotel in philadelphia. donald trump momentarily will address a big republican strategy retreat. republicans control the house and the senate. now a republican president. lawmakers debating an agenda that includes tax cuts, repealing and replacing obamacare. also some big differences between the republican president and republican leadership in congress. the president is on his way to that retreat. we'll take you there live as soon as he receives.
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mexico's president says he will not come to the united states next week as scheduled because he is angry now at the new american president donald trump. donald trump signing executive orders yesterday to speed up the construction of a border wall along the southern border of the united states with mexico. also taking some other immigration steps that mexico is now offended. donald trump says mexico will pay for that wall. president enrique pena nieto says, no, we will not. he's now canceled that trip. let's go to mexic mexico city a leyla santiago. give us the perspective from mexico city. >> well, john, we know that within just the last half hour, president enrique pena nieto of mexico tweeted saying, i will not be attending this meeting in the white house, but i am looking forward to a relationship that is mutually beneficial. it's really been this sort of back and forth between the two presidents. this morning, when we woke up,
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around 9:57 eastern time, president trump tweeted saying perhaps we shouldn't have a meeting if mexico is not willing to pay for the wall. and that came, let's rewind a little more, after last night's video post from mexican president enrique pena nieto saying, look, i don't believe in a wall. i will never pay for a wall, but i want to be friends is essentially what he said in that video post. so okay. then this morning we wake up and i want to show you the headlines. this is really on the minds of mexicans. this one says "he did it." in other words, donald trump is following through with his campaign promises. then this one says, he is following through with that threat. these are developments that have been coming on, day-to-day, hour by hour as both presidents go back and forth. and one sort of trying to prove
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to each other, approve one's case that they will protect their country's interests. that is what the mexican president has said is his goal to make sure that he protects mexico's interests. and it comes at a very interesting time for him because i got to tell you, his approval ratings not so great right now. the mexican president's approval ratings stand at about 12%. it also comes at a time when the peso is plunging. it also comes at a time when mexicans have taken to the streets to protest the government's decision to raise those gas prices. so not necessarily the most stable time but clearly a sign he is trying to stand his ground. >> and leyla, how concerned is the mexican government, mexican economic interest, the business community that this fight between the two stubborn men over the wall and who is going to pay for it and whether that will be built, will spill over into broader damage to an economic relationship that is absolutely vital to both
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countries? >> sure. and that's the point that the mexican president has been trying to make all week that they are crucial to each other. vital is a good way to say that, john. but every single time i have spoken to a mexican official about this new relationship, the very first thing they tell me is nafta is a huge concern. that free trade deal. it's because of that. they depend on each other so much. so there is a concern that what is starting to twitter, this sort of war of words on wait to ethe back and forth is going to spill over and have a greater impact not only on the u.s. but on mexico which i want to reiterate, the economy is not so stable right now. it really could have a greater impact that goes beyond social media. this could also impact the next presidential election here in mexico next year. this could impact the legacy of pena nieto and what has been sort of a history of some
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conflict but also friendship between the two countries when you look over the last century of a relationship between the two countries. >> leyla santiago for us in mexico city. also want to welcome our viewers watching around the world on cnn international and our viewers here in the united states. you see on the bottom right of the screen, president trump soon to speak to a very important republican strategy session a couple hours north of washington in philadelphia. you listen to the accounts from mexico city. you see the president's first actions. he is proving as he did during the campaign, like it or not, understand it or not, that he is going to be a disruptive force. not just in our domestic politics when it comes to issues of taxes and spending and repealing and replacing the signature initiative of the previous president, barack obama, obamacare. but also on the world stage. and he seems to like it that way. >> yes, he does. and here's the thing about it. often i don't like it, but i am sort of done underestimating it because he seems to get more success out of some of these
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tactics than i thought he would. even when i think this is not the right way to do things or the mature or helpful way to do things. it could be that next week pena nieto is like, never mind, i'm coming. at this point -- >> the white house press secretary sean spicer was asked about this and he said we'll look for a date in the near future to reschedule. the white house could have said fine. that's a diplomatic answer and we'll see if diplomacy comes -- >> time for back-channel talks. >> that's another part of the problem, though, is that the president's team isn't all in place yet. his secretary of state has not been confirmed. that's the back channel. who is it that picks up the phone and tries to turn the temperature down here? >> i think, again, i think the issue here is you have world leaders and this is the most extreme example, trying to figure out how to deal with this guy. i thought it was very interesting when the president tweeted some stuff about china a couple of weeks ago, the way the chinese reacted to it which was, oh, just donald trump says stuff. we'll see a lot more of that.
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people are trying to figure out various modalities of deal with this guy. the japanese dealt with it in a very direct way. abe visited trump in trump tower. i don't think that necessarily worked. i think a lot of people are going to be deal with him like he's an uncle who says crazy stuff at dinner. it's like, oh -- >> don't get caught up in what he tweets or says. don't follow the tweets as much as follow what happens after. on this issue, we're talking about the international ramifications of the early trump actions on immigration. also significant domestic ramifications. one of the things he said and this will be tested in the courts. but one of the orders signed yesterday instructs his government, his agencies to look for ways to cut off funding for so-called sanctuary cities. if you are boston, chicago, san francisco, new york and you don't enforce federal immigration laws, then the -- this president says he's going to cut off your money. the mayor of boston, marty
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walsh, one of many democratic mayors have fired back. to anyone who feels threat bed or vulnerable today, you are safe in boston. if necessary, we'll use city hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who's targeted unjustly. they can use my office. they can use any office in this building. they'll be able to use this building as a safe space. democratic areas where the mayors are probably on safe political ground for them to stand up but where is this fight going. >> i want to point out there was a giant loophole in that executive order which is that all of these places rely heavily on federal funds for security. and that is the one exception that's written into the executive order. so there is a lot of vagueness. this is maybe my hobby horse today. but there's a lot of vagueness in this executive order that does not spell out how this is going to work and exactly what funds will be cut off and whether or not they will be automatically cut off. it just directs the department
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of homeland security to look into the issue. n i think that they will find there are a lot of really good reasons not to do that, even in spite of the sanctuary city issue. >> planting a flag so it sounds good to his supporters. we'll see what happens when it plays out. one other quick issue his supporters may be dismayed, donald trump sounds tough on the wall. he sounds tough on sanctuary cities but listen to him here in this interview with abc that aired last night about the so-called d.r.e.a.m.ers. young undocumented brought into this country when they were at a young age, not old enough to make the judgment themselves. brought here by parents. many are in college, have jobs, many are productive. some say he should have immediately reversed an obama executive order that allowed them to stay or at least reduced enforcement. listen to donald trump. >> they shouldn't be very worried. they're here illegally. they shouldn't be worried. we're going to take care of everybody. we're going to have a very strong border.
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a solid border. where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried. we'll be coming out with policy on that over the next period of four weeks. >> mr. president, will they be allowed to stay? >> i'll tell you over the next four weeks. >> certainly sounds there like he's going to be much more moderate than he was in the campaign. and much more moderate than many conservative, immigration hawks. >> and this is a place, where so many of my ideological liberal friends running around with their hair on fire all the time. this is the part of trump we should recognize that is perhaps heartening. he is not this ideological creature and perhaps the d.r.e.a.m. part of this, the most sympathetic immigrants were part of a negotiating tactic where he says i'm going to do these two things and inn force current law and tell sanctuary cities you're on notice. you don't take this federal money from the federal government if you don't do this but over here i'm willing to talk about this. >> in that executive order and
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during the campaign he stressed it was going to be criminals that they would go after. there was the secure communities act which they want to bring back to be able to coordinate more with law enforcement to identify folks who have committed crimes. and catch and release, for example. and finally deport some of those folks. i do wonder, though, ideologically, what this says going forward to mary katharrin's point about federal ump and what weigh out. federal jurisdiction and state jurisdiction. as jeff sessions is going to move in to be attorney general, most likely, and will get confirmed given republicans have those votes, he's someone very anti-marijuana. he has said that good people don't smoke marijuana. what happens in colorado? what happens in states like that when you have a justice department that believes that the federal law weighs out and that ideologically, very much against what that state is doing? >> a lot of questions as the new administration takes shape. everybody sit tight. we have to work in a quick
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break. "inside politics" will be right back. president trump on his way to address the important republican retreat in philadelphia. we'll get right back to it in just a minute. with not food, become food? thankfully at panera, 100% of our food is 100% clean. no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, or colors. panera. food as it should be. this is judy. judy is 63 years old. her mortgage payment is $728 a month. that's almost 9 thousand dollars a year. now judy doesn't think that she'll be able to retire until her mortgage is fully paid off. this is mike. mike is also 63 years old. his mortgage payment
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welcome back to "inside politics." a lot happening this hour. on the left, protests in philadelphia. nearby, the right of the screen, the president of the united states donald trump about to address a republican strategy retreat in philadelphia. a lot for the president to discuss. we'll take you there live the moment the presidents gets there. they'll be introduced by house speaker paul ryan in just a few minutes. he has a domestic agenda to push. pro-growth tax cuts. and he wants republicans to help him with a tougher trade policy, including tariffs. big disputes even though they share the goal of repealing and replacing obamacare. a lot of differences about how to do it. also a lot of worries among republicans that the president, to be polite, keeps are getting distracted. one thing, we are told he'll sign an executive order ordering some kind of investigation, we don't have the details, into what he believes and he alone believes was massive voter fraud
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in the 2016 presidential election. he believes some 3 million to 5 million undocumented illegally voted in the presidential election. he was asked about this by david muir in his first television interview. he said, sir, nobody else believes this to be true. don't you worry that your credibility is at risk? >> do you think your words matter more? >> yes, very much. >> do you think that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous -- >> no, because many people feel the same way i do. >> you don't think it undermines your credibility? >> they didn't come to me, believe me. those were hillary votes. >> that's his way of trying to rationalize why he lost the popular vote to hillary clinton boo by a sizable margin. if you call the secretaries of state, the officials who run the vote, the former missouri secretary of state said it's easy to fake a mars landing than
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to have 3 million to 5 million illegally turn up and vote. and even his own top aides say we can't stop him from doing this but wish we would. >> i think this is going to be a pattern. the funny thing is, he had the right argument which was, if the rules need i need the popular, that's what i would have tried to get. that's the solid argument. these executive orders depending where they go from there. one of obama's first was to get rid of gitmo. >> but a new president, it's critical for a new president to stay focused. it is critical for a new president to move his agenda. if he wants to pick a fight with mexico, that's his right. why can't he let this go? >> the question is whether it behooves him that we spend days talking about this when a bunch of executive orders are going on that are doing other things. so there's a method to the madness. >> and that was sort of the theory of the campaign. he was doing this chaos theory of politics where you throw all this stuff out there, dangle the keys. have a shiny metal object.
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we all run off on something else and try to sneak through a border policy instead of talking about the depth or substance of the border and the fact that it could cost some $10 million to $13 million a mile to have a border fence in the most difficult terrain. how much money that would cost. how would republicans pay for that when the congressional budget office comes out saying on the current trajectory, we're at potentially 89% in ten years of gdp which could be crippling for the country. >> we'll cover all those issues, i promise. one thing in a new administration it's striking to me to hear from his people, people on his payroll, how insecure he is about this. how reflexive he gets about this. trying to justify the popular vote. he's the president. you wrote a remarkable story, i wish we could play the music. heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend, but tell us where this comes from. >> so we've known for a while that this is a president who
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listens to anecdote quite a bit. part of his -- the comments about mexican rapists i have written in the past were motivated by conversations he had in passing with border patrol agents. anyway, when he was confronted during this congressional meeting, bipartisan congressional meeting on monday with, why are you going after this voter fraud thing, he unleashed annanec dote involving someone he described as his friend bernard langer, the german golfer who told him, either bernhard langer, or a friend was turned away from a polling place in florida on election day. well, as it turns out, bernhard langer is not an american citizen and when i got in touch with his daughter, she said she didn't know what the president was talking about. today the golfer has put out a statement saying, and let's try to follow this. he told a friend who told the president who told -- he told a friend who -- no, who told a
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staffer to the president who then told the president who then told it to congressional leaders. so the point is, when confronted on why he was doing this, he told what is either a third, fourth or fifth hand anecdote of dubious provenance and it just goes to show you that this is the way that this guy absorbs information. more along the oral tradition than written word. >> now we'll get some sort of investigation and we assume use of taxpayer money, resources to go after this anecdote. among the republicans gathered there, many members of congress who wish the president would focus elsewhere on the big agenda items and not on something they believe not only is a waste of time but undermined faith in democracy. here's congressman adam kinzinger. >> any time we undermine the faith in a free and fair election you undermine the constitution. he's had a very successful first few days, whether meet with business leaders, rolling out
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executive actions, following through on his campaign promises. but fighting over crowd size and things like that takes off the message. >> off the message is the polite way of saying it there. it's fascinating to me when you see manu there talking to adam kinzinger. what he does in the early days is important to building trust in the relationship. he's going to speak to the republicans. this house republicans and the senate republicans. 75% of the house republicans have never worked with a republican president. never worked with a republican president. they don't have the loyalty to the white house that if you remember back to the bush administration or early days of the obama administration, when democrats were in congress, protocol is now bite your tongue because that's your guy in the white house. i'm fascinated if president trump can work this out with a group of young people, some sent here in the tea party elections who are principled about spending and cutting, devolving from washington back to the states. and who have no relationship with working with a president
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who they've spent their entire careers in washington fighting the white house. >> the difference is it's arguable they are work with a republican president now. i mean, he is not very ideological. he's more of a right wing nationalist. think about that proclamation about the patriotic day of devotion. seems to come straight out of the bannon breitbart playbook of hollywood movie script of this importance of heritage and nationalism. that protectionism, the anti-free trade stuff. this is not working with george w. bush to get through the paul ryan playbook. >> if he wants these republicans to take some tough votes thaul have to go home and explain to their district and say i needed to do this for the president. probably not what i would have done. they need to know that he's going to have their back and municate in a way and not take them off into rabbit holes like voter fraud. >> trump has maybe about 12 months to make this work with house republicans. and then he'll start to see the
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gravity of re-election. this honeymoon is not going to last very long. you can look at this -- the fact that 75% of these folks have never worked with a republican president. the other way meaning that they have never experienced that it probably should be easier than this. it shouldn't be this hard to get on the same page with another republican. so maybe they might give him more leeway but that ends in 12 months. >> i love your optimism. >> to use a technical term, protocol schmotocol. they have never experienced the ease of an everyone agrees, republican presidency alignment with a republican congress and trump likes to get in there and have these discussions. if they're not disagreeing, then what is he making a deal about, even with his own party. it won't always turn out bad for him, as we have seen. >> this guy got elected by crossing over. instead of talking about how
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many people were there during his inauguration, maybe if his speech had been a little more inclusive, he could get more people for the next one. >> that's a great point, too. he's speaking here. the democrats are also having a retreat where they're saying very unkind things about the president. when it comes to replacing obamacare he's going to need some democratic votes to make that happen. as we await the president of the united states, this is still a feeling out period. dominica just noted donald trump ran as a republican. he was once a democrat. many of his positions don't fit really either party. this is house majority leader kevin mccarthy who has to twist the arms and round up the votes along with the leadership team in the house. it's very important to meet with the president today because, well, he's a little unpredictable. >> you can never predict what you're going to hear. he's unpredictable. he's going to push us and drive
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us. >> an understatement. a lot of overstatements in the early days. a lot of bombastic statements in the early days. an understatement that he's unpredictable. but these guys want to pass their agenda. speaker ryan has had an agenda on paper for years. much mcconnell has a lot of things he wants to do. they think they can pass most of it and trump will sign it. he's also sent a few signals early on that he may be a little more involved than they thought he would be. >> your point about people taking tough votes and knowing they'll have his back. i don't think there's that assurance in a donald trump relationship. here's the other side of that coin. he likes to schmooz with these guys and democrats, which obama was not doing. >> you see the republican leadership. there's kevin mccarthy. we just heard the sound from him. the number two in the house coming out on stage. the speaker, majority leader, mitch mcconnell and the president and vice president will soon follow. in this feeling out period, how important is it, we're talking about the president. how important for the president.
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these guys are on the ballot next. the next election is 2018. so they have a lot to prove, too. >> let's also remember, kevin mccarthy was supposed to be speaker of the house. anyone remember that? and he wasn't able to become speaker of the house, mostly because of his inability to communicate. when you think about who is going to win out on these arguments that they're going to make to constituents, to the rest of america, my bet is on donald trump to be able to try to push the republican conference to go in whatever direction he feels they need to go. >> one of the first things that happened to paul ryan is he had to get with his good buddy reince priebus from wisconsin and get trump to either moderate or to put out these tweets, knocking down this insurreks by his own committees that -- >> and the republicans except the senate was donald trump in the final weeks dragged over the line republican candidates in pennsylvania and north carolina and kept their senate majority on donald trump's coattails. they are aware of that. >> the biggest risk for
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republicans with trump being unpredictable is they don't know when he's going to weigh in. he could weigh in at the beginning or the end and totally up end the apple cart. or in the middle. this is a serious issue when it comes to health care. there's a sense nobody really knows what the white house wants on this and maybe donald trump will weigh in but maybe he'll do it right when they are getting to the finish line and have to start over. >> it may not seem like an important point to people watching at home who don't get into the sausage making in washington. speaker ryan and leader mcconnell have asked the president, stop talking so much about the details. talk in broad strokes about replacing obamacare and tax code that creates jobs and makes your life easier. don't get into section 72 and sub paragraph 3e. you can't keep laying out these details because we need to round up the votes. >> or saying things like insurance for everybody. >> that's going to be tough because one of the things that's good for the american people about donald trump is that when
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he's asked a question, he goes down that road. he is not a goi who goes, i'd rather not and go over here. even when he doesn't know exactly what the folks purpose that can be great for transparency. >> let's go into the room as we await the president to come out. manu raju is there. as we talked earlier, a great sense of celebration but also a little jitters here as these republican leadership in congress and republican rank and file have this getting to know you phase with the new president. >> absolutely john. is he going to lay out a specific agenda, talk about the things they are talking about in these private meetings about obamacare repealer replace, tax reform. supreme court nominee. or will this be a donald trump speech that's not read from a teleprompter that's rambling at times and talks about things like voter fraud n othand other issues that divide the party. i don't think anyone knows what
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to expect here in this room, but i can tell you, i talked to a number of republicans attending this retreat. they are concerned that he is saying things that are stepping on their very carefully constructed message that this is a party that's united, trying to get major things done. but talking about things like initiating a voter fraud investigation, that's something that a lot of republicans don't support. so it will be interesting to see how the president of the united states deals with that here in just a couple of minutes. >> manu, stand by in the room. we'll keep our eye on the podium. a little breaking news first here on cnn out of the state department. two senior administration officials saying top state department officials were fired by the trump department in an effort to clean house at the state department. let's get to elise labott. >> typical with any transition, all top officials, the heads of all these agencyies and bureaus
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are asked to submit resignations. all of those top officials in the management departments of the state department, we're talking the under secretary of management, the long-serving pat kennedy, the assistant secretaries of consular affairs, administration and the office, the director of the office of board emissions, that's embassies here in the united states by international countries, were all those resignations were accepted. they were sent letters by the white house this week that their service was no longer required. and officials are telling me it's very common when these resignations are submitted. these officials are, you know, asked to stay on a few months until their replacements are confirmed. we're talking about 150 years of combined institutional knowledge by all of these officials. and, john, that's really leaving a gaping hole in the state department's management structure as the new secretary of state rex tillerson is expected to take office next week.
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>> elise labott, is rex tillerson, are his deputies ready to come in with him? >> he's not named a deputy. the white house has not said they have a specific candidate in mind. my understanding is that mr. tillerson is not coming with anybody from his office at exxon. he's really coming by himself so he's looking to these top officials at the state department to help him get acclimated and help him start running the building. and not just in the management department, in some of these regional bureaus. assistant secretary for europe, for instance, victoria newland also submitted her resignation. that resignation was accepted. he's really coming in at a bit of a disadvantage. look, there are very good deputies in the department who are carrying on the mantel. these are all career people who have served. he's coming in with a gaping hole at the top of his leadership, john. >> elise labott with the breaking news. we're awaiting the president of
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the united states to come out and speak in philadelphia. you said it best a few moment ago, protocol schmotocol. some of the holdovers from the obama administration don't want to do things the way we do them so we'd rather deal with a little chaos and unpredictability and probably have some things fall through the cracks than have the old guard stay on board. >> they are more comfortable with that than the rest of washington. some agencies you'll see places where it's like, okay, maybe all that personnel didn't matter as much as that personnel thought they did. somewhere like state, continuity is more important. but this is going to be a way of doing things. i woulduate as a cautionary note, the part where the social media campaigns start burn booking the president as he becomes the president with their tweets, i don't think it's particularly helpful for that transition when dealing with somebody who says protocol schmotocol. >> in the case of patrick kennedy at state, he was
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appointed by george bush and stayed on throughout obama's presidency. some of these other officials who resigned were responsible for essentially the safety and security of u.s. diplomats abroad and consulates and embassies abroad. these are actually real positions where you need actual leadership. and maybe there are people waiting in the wings. we don't know yet. these are not jobs that can just go by the wayside. there's got to be a plan to keep the trains running on time when it comes to the safety of u.s. public servants working internationally. >> as we await the president, this transition period has been rocky. you were sent in to break up washington and disrupt. one of the other conversations is he said he wanted to bring back waterboarding. he thought it was an effective tactic. now he says general mattis and congressman pompeo have told him
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they don't need this and he'll probably listen to them. but this came up at the congressional retreat. please don't takous us on a side track on this conversation. listen to the president last night in the abc conversation saying i'm not convinced not to do this. >> as far as i'm concerned, we have to fight feire with fire. that being said, i'm going with general mattis and with my secretary because i think pompeo is going to be phenomenal. i'm going to go with what they say. but i have spoken as roontly as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence and i asked them, does it work? does torture work? and the answer was, yes, absolutely. >> again, the oral tradition here. we're sitting around the campfire asking everyone what they think. there's been -- as far as i can tell, there's been a couple of reports on this. we have the heavily redacted
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torture report that there were years of fighting between feinstein's office, the state department and pentagon on. this is not new stuff, folks. this is a president of the united states who has not done a ton of homework on this learning while on the job sitting down with people in a room and asking them questions. and it seems sometimes -- and this is opinions of people who work with him, that the last person that spoke to him is at times the most influential. >> banned in the army field manual. his nominees have all said during their hearings that they don't think it works. they would not advocate for it. my question is, what happens when or if there's an attack on the united states? >> that's a great question. does the new administration try to change policy then? i don't think this matters two months, three months from now but they keep getting asked
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about this and they say it's against the law and it's settled. >> nobody is going to accuse general mattis of being insufficiently tough on terrorists. so that's a really nice backup for trump to have if he decides to come out with no change. >> i think trump, if he listens to general mattis, maybe that's where he'll be. i didn't get the seps nse he wa deciding on who to listen to. if he gets conflicting advice, who is he going to listen to? he hasn't laid out his decision-making process. he's not consuming information on his own. he's asking for advice and maybe the last person who talks to him. maybe it's not. i think for people who work in government, for the american people watching this, there's got to be a sense of confusion about where this whole thing is going to end up. >> the president of the united states is at that hotel preparing to speak to a republican strategy conference. big questions about his agenda
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going forward. british prime minister theresa may will be in the same room. my colleague wolf blitzer takes over my coverage right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello. i'm wolf blitzer. we begin with breaking fuse this hour. we want to welcome our viewers around the united states and the world. president trump will step in front of that podium to speak. this as a world leader cancels plans to meet with him here in washington. look at these live pictures coming in from the annual republican congressional retreat under way right now in philadelphia. we're going to bring you the president's speech live as soon as it begins. in the meantime, the war over the wall with mexico intensifies. just a little while ago, the mexican president enrique pena nieto canceled plans to meet


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