from capitol hill where the president will address a joint session of congress tonight. the stakes are very high but the president trump says his goal is simple. >> all i can do is speak from the heart. >> the white house says the president will strike a hopeful tone in contrast to images of american carnage, you may remember, in his inaugural address. the theme of tonight, renewal of spirit and optimism for all americans. the president says it is a chance to better get his message across. >> i think i've done just about more than everybody in the first four weeks. i think e've done great things, but i don't think i and my people, i don't think we've explained it well enough to the american public. i think i get an a in terms of what i've actually done. in terms of messaging, i give myself a c or c plus. >> how are you going to change
that? >> during my speech. >> let's get with more. jim acosta joins us along with manu raju. he's on capitol hill. jim, let's start with you. what more have you learned about what the president will say about that and the president's plans? >> well, jim, it sounds like we're going to get more clarity tonight. i was talking to some republican sources on capitol hill earlier today and what they're indicating is house speaker paul ryan is going to be a very happy man later on tonight during this speech to a joijts session of congress from president trump and that is because when the house speaker was here yesterday meeting with the president and meeting with the white house teams in terms of what is going to be in the president's speech he was given some pretty dece assurance that they're going to address that. they're talking about the
individual mandate but at the same time they're trying to keep some of the items of obamacare that people like such as keeping the ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, also allowing young people to stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26. they're talking about reforming medicaid. that's part of the affordable care act. that's going to be scaled back over time. all of that is not set in stone but the indication that the speaker's office got, jim, that i'm hearing from source sources is, yes, the president is moving in the direction of the speaker and house republican proposals, and that's going to go a difference. what are you going to show us in terms of it?
i think illegal immigration, the crackdown that the president is going to be talking about, i think that's also going to be a major focus of the speem in the first lady's box during this joint speech -- in the joint session of congress. they're criminals who killed members of families. that's an indication that the president is going to be taking a tough tone, continuing to take a tough tone when it comes to illegal immigration. while they say it's going to be an optimistic tone, keep it toned. they're very worried about what the president is saying tonight, jim. >> that's the tactic that the president used in debates too.
manu, what are you hearing from democrats about the president's speech tonight who's boycotting the event. will there also be weapon nicing of guests as it were to send a message to the president? >> absolutely. in fact, the democratic leaders in both the house and senate say they're going to have rank-and-file members and invite them in a negative way by donald trump's policies on health care and immigrants who have been affected by the travel ban and the hard-line policies about deportation for those undocumented immigrants. watch for those political points to be made. at the same time democrats are urging the fellow members to be respectful, not to speak out in ways that could look poorly on the democratic party. we all recall that moment in president obama's health care speech when joe wilson, said you
lie to the president in the middle of his speech. the presidents are trying to make sure that does not happen. actually nancy pelosi issuing this warning to her colleagues today in a caucus saying i think we have to deal with this in the ult most dignity. we don't like what they did to our president. we cannot be outclassed by donald trump. that would be the worst of all outcomes. now some democrats are taking a different approach and they didn't pass some including elliott enfwel of new york who was one of those members who waited, reserved a seat along the aisle in the house chamber so he could shake the president's hand as he came down the aisle. he said he's not going to do it this time. take a listen. >> i have a deep respect for the presidency and will attend the joint session but it has to be mutual. he's cozied up to vladimir putin
and looked the other way on the jewish community. this isn't part of our norm real political discourse. this goes beyond ideological and political differences. the president needs to work with all people. therefore, i will listen to what hi has to say but i will not greet him and shake his hand. >> >> reporter: now another congress lawmaker said something similar. sheila jackson lee of texas. now a spokesperson for congresswoman lee has not made a decision whether to shake president trump's hand and sit along the aisle. one who's boycotted is maxine waters, long-time black caucus member. she said she will not be attending the matter altogether. she's raised significant concerns about trump, even
raising the specter he could be impreached some day. showing a lot of consternation. >> thanks very much. i want to talk more about tonight's address by president trump and some of the main themes. joining me now republican congressman mark meadows. he's the head of the oversight committee and faron afors committee and freedom caucus. congressman meadows, thanks for joining me today. >> great to be with you, jim. >> great to be with you. this is an issue on which you disagree with the president particularly as it relates to tax credits. tell us why? >> he wants to make sure more people are covered at a lower cost. really the position we've taken
is one in support of the plan that does exactly as the president wants. it happens to disagree with our leadership primarily because the leadership plan as i see it doesn't really affect the overall health care cost. it doesn't drive it doubt. at the same time the obamacare act with another care act that doesn't work won't affect mons and dads on main street. it's not as much at odds with main streak but with what we're trying to do right now in implements a replacement that only partially repeals and partially replaces. >> if the president is as our reporting reflecting, you say you would vote against the plan s that correctsome. >> that's correct. i can tell you there's a number of reasons why we would vote against it that is consistent with where the president is.
when we look at the plan of taxing the hard-working taxable, that's a nonstarter for me. it's a nonstarter for the president as well. we're about making shoe it's affordable and providing a safety net that's there for all of those people who perhaps can't afford health insurance now. >> we did a little research and found there are more than 40,000 people in your district who currently take advantage of obamacare, of the affordable care act. what do you say to them, those constituents who are concerned they won't have health insurance if the current plan disappears? >> well, i've made a very strong commitment. there's three things. one in north carolina, if you did your research, you'll realize that insurance rates have gone up at 30, 35%. and, again, 30% this year.
so that's unsustainable. so we're trying to drive the cost of health care down. the other part of that is all about the pre-existing conditions and making sure insurance companies can't kick people off. e've mate a commitment on cnn to make sure we address it so any replacement plan will help those constituents. the 40,000 that you mentioned and drive health care done. so they don't have to decide between interest and a mortgage. >> let me ask you this about the president's budget plan. he's talking about adding $54 pl increase to the defense budget built in part on cuts, particularly large cuts to the state department, other agencies and departments. we heard just a short time ago from senator lindsey graham, of course, republican, he said that budget in his words is there. would you vote for or against the president's budget as it
stands? >> you know, i support the president's effort to increase the spending for our military. i talk to director mulvaney last night about the budget proposal ha's come across. we do know $54 million gets added to the military. hopefully we'll be able to reconcile it together. i applaud the president for putting forth a conservative plan. the devil will be in the details and we'll see it in the days and weeks to come. as we work on that and look at the budget here, i look forward to working closely with the president and the new director mick mulvaney that actually reprioritizes the spending. >> to be fair, congressman, one pretty big detail is already out there.
and that ice a significant increase to the defense structure. built on as much as a 30% cut to the state department budget is that a fair trade-off in your view? >> well, again, you and i have not seen the details, jim, i know they're not out there because i asked for those last night so i could make an informed desoigs an that. i can tell you i see the value in the state department and a number of the issues there but i also understand where the issues are with the state department and not providing a return. et's critically important before we make a pass or fail, that we do that. it's important that we look specifically at the numbersing jim. >> congressman mark meadows, thank anniversary much. >> it's great to be with you. thanks so much. >> tonight's cnn's special
starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern time right here on cnn. be sure to join us. up next, why president trump says obama is to blame for leaks coming out of the trump white house. and angry protesters at republican town hall. congressman james clyburn joins me next to skuz. >> plus why that's not going well with military leaders. some members of the president's own party and even his own secretary of defense. it's my decision ito make beauty last.
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welcome back. at this hour president trump scheduled to sign an executive order instructing the epa to look at their clean water rule and eliminate the rule if it's a cost to the economy. he's looking aet deep cuts to the agency as part of his upcoming budget. that budget and his health care will be big topics. joining me is jim clyburn, south
carolina democrat and member of the house democratic leadershipleadership, third ranking democrat. thanksbeing here. >> thanks for having me. >> the theme tonight, renewed optimistic america. what do you need to hear from the president tonight to deliver on that theme? >> one word. optimism. i think he should develop that theme in a positive way. if he does, it would be good for the country, good for him personally, and it would be the kind of thing that i would love to see. i think we've heard enough. it's time to get beyond the campaigning and let's see what we can do to find common ground to carry out the agenda that the american people would be proud of. >> the president this morning in
an interview offered up his own assessment, his own grade. he gave himself an "a" for his achievements but only a "c" or a ""c" plus. i'm a former teacher. you give the grade in private. you don't discuss it in front of anybody. i'm not goid to grade the president. i'm going to wait for the president to put forth an agenda in the country irrespective of what he's done thus far. it's been him reacting on his own emotions and things that he's been seeing and tweeting about. rather than laying out a roadmap
and agenda for the country. that's what he's going to do tonight. after he's laid that out, i will grade his agenda and then i will watch and hopefully participate in helping him to achieve those things that i think make sense. now if he lays out an agenda that moves us backward and not forward,'ll not just grid grade his performance, i will loudly disagree with it. >> but you won't fail him, you're say, or you won't do it in public. you'll save it for private. the president is putting blame on former president obama for these towel hahn protests.
are these presidents behind those leaks? protests? >> i don't think so. mark sanford, i don't think those were obama people out there at all unless they were obamacare people. the fact remains that people are reacting based upon what they see and here. now, it's one thing for you o have disagreements over whether or not something should be offered to people. telling people they have to kick their children off their policies as soon as they turn 21 years old, irrespective of whether or not they're gainfully employed or you tell someone
your child born with diabetes will not be allowed to come onto your insurance policy or say to someone who gets sick, we're going to kick you off of your insurance policies, we cannot go back to that southward of thing and these people are saying to this administration, to this congress, we do not wish to go back having ceos make a determination whether a child shout be taken care of on my insurance policy. so that's what's going on with my insurance policy. that's just not a good thing to do. >> you will remember they bow coted as a form of protests. maxine waters said she will not attend tonight's presidential
address. to you approve of that decision. >> well, people have to make up their own minds about how they react to anything. i am going to be at the speech tonight. >> i'm going to be as courteous as i can. i'm on the escort committee. aisle care out my responsibilities as i did with president bush and president obama. i will do that which my constituents expect me to do. i am hopeful that the president will do what my constituents hopeful that he does. my dark used to tell me the first sign of a good education
is good manners. i'm demonstrate that in hopes that it will be interpreted by my constituented by someone who's well educated. >> congressman clyburn, my mom told me the same thing. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. president trump announces draconian cuts to the state department but more than 120 say that funding is critical to keeping it same. richard haass will join me live right after this break. you accidentally booked a flight to athens, georgia. with travelocity, there's no fee to cancel or rebook most flights within 24 hours. travelocity® wander wisely™
i want to a world in disarray, best enjoyed with a bourbon or choose your poison really lace out all the problems for the next president. mr. ambassador, i want you to listen to some experts on the recent speeches on his view of the world. have a listen. >> from this day forward it's going to be only america first. >> getting along with other countries is good. it's very important, but there's no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag. this is the united states of america that i'm representing. i'm not representing the globe. >> america first as president trump lays out in your view -- you've served republican and democratic presidents, us the it make america safer?
>> it's a formulation i find awfully narrow. the united states leads in the world, is active in the world, not as a form of charity or philanthropy but as we learn the hard way it makes the united states safer. an unstable world will hurt us and undermine our own security. it seems a little bit narrow. it also sends the mlk to everybody else we're not any necessarily there for them and that might mean the allies decide they have to defer to powerful neighbors. >> in this direction with the world view and increase. the support by a draconian cut
in the stand department, serving in the state department. et cetera. 120 retired military leaders writing an open letter to the president saying the state department funding is critical to keeping america safe. >> i think there's a good case for increasing american defense spending. we have to be concerned for the terrorist threat efforts and we have to prepare for all sorts of conventional conflicts in asia, north korea, russia, and europe and iran and others in the middle east. so i understand the case for defense spending but it shouldn't come at the cost of diplomacy. it shouldn't come at the cost of foreign aid. they contribute significantly to american national security. if there's a place that needs to be cut it needs to be entitlements. that's not an investment in our security. it's not an investment in our
future like discretionary domestic spending and there's lots of things that can be done, for instance, means testing. the wealthy don't get the same things as the poor or raising retirement ages for paem who are still many their 40s so they can plan their life differently but given the fact that americans live a lot longer. there are things we can and should do without robs one part of national security to pay for another part of national security. >> russia, of course, a major topic, particularly this president including the differing approach. sergei markoff, a leading analyst was quoted as saying the following. right now the kremlin is looking for ways that russia can use the chaos in washington to pursue its own interests. do you believe that's true? >> well, it's always hard to speak for this russia because it all comes town to one guy named vladimir putin. the one thing we can control is ourselves so we ought to be taking steps to make europe less
vulnerable to military pressure, that means going ahead with the restrengthening of nato, that means near russia. we ought to open up more of a diplomatic dialogue with russia. our goal is not to humiliate them or isolate them. we've got the decide where we're going to use military force and protect our own interest in the middle least. we can't lead the people to russia or assume that mr. putin has any sense of self-restraint. we need a comprehensive policy toward russia and that ought too be one of the new priorities of the administration. >> richard haass, his book available now. thanks very much for joining us, mr. ambassador. >> thank you, jim, good to be with you. president trump, coming up, he said he would have handled the white house leaks differently but the president says he needs to adjust his own messaging. the details after this.
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welcome back. as president trump prepares, he's taking an honest look at his performance so far. >> i think i get an "a" in terms of what i've done by in terms of messaging, a "c" or "c" plus. >> let's talk with adam miller. he was the senior communications adviser for the trump campaign. jennifer granholm is a former governor of the great state of michigan. do you agree it's just about messaging? >> i would give him a much
better grade than a c or c-plus. he's the master at setting the bar and we'll see an a-plus performance. really i think what we'll see tonight is a bit of something for everybody from existing supporters. they'll like what they hear about the president in terms of keeping promises and also this unifying message for people who did not support them. we're going to hear a lot of that. in particular there's a line in the speech. i even only seen a small amount where he talks about everything in our country that is broke condition be fixed. there's a beautiful package that is a unifying theme. more important than that, it reminds voters he's a business man, a problem-solver and a fixer and it's really uplifting. >> governor granholm, first on the grade and a message as well. >> i think it would be amazing if he were actually unifying and
he does have to speak to the whole country. it's not just congress obviously, but the people who are against him, you've heard him bluster his way through, bluster his exaggerations, be a showman. i would be grateful if he'd just level with u tell us that he understands, for example, the role of congress and the courts even when he pushes the envelope. tell us for example, yes, he has access o the nuclear codes but he's not going to use them. tell us, for example, yes, he understands russia wanted to impact the outcome of the election but he's going to look into it because that's not good for america. level with us. take down the temperature just a bit. >> those rshlgts big asks there, right? particularly when you're talking about a unifying message. let's be honest. many of the president's public comments, he's thrown barbs and
arrows at anybody who krit siechls him. how can he turn on a dime so dramatically tonight? >> i think the way the president moves people is by doing thing and shows that he can get it done and in particular i think the economy is one we've seen so far. we've seen all the stockmarkets doing great. the consumer confidence, the job market confidence. >> pull about up the economy. >> right. they're showing -- that's what people want. obviously there's going to be a political divide. that's what eeg going to bring people in. governor, respectfully to your point, that sounds like a democratic phone book to get up there and read on talking points against him. he has his message. he won 3507 electoral votes and people voted for him because of
the pledges and policies. >> great. he's a minority president. he has a lot of persuading to do. so when he came in, people were giving him the benefit of the doubt. he had about a 45/45 approval/disapproval rating. now he's 12 points under water. people are watching. yes, he's bringing in ceos but he's taking credit for things that were already happening. name one action he's taken that he's been able to have an impact on the economy, that's his responsibility? >> we saw it even before the president was even inaugurated. we saw the carrier deal. >> but the carrier deal was the result of state tax incentives. he did nothing but shining a light on it. >> i would say f you ask any of those families getting -- >> i'm all about this happening but what is his -- he didn't provide any incentives. >> we're going to see that
tonight. >> okay. that's what i want to hear. >> he'll talk about his priorities. obviously we know about taxes, trade, immigration, and national security. there are oert things we'll see. americans doing big things. that's really the tenet of the speech tonight. in addition to the core campaign promises we'll hear about the president doing renewed commitment to the space program and talking about school choice which is something he introduced as part of hitz urban renewal project during the campaign. i think you're going to see him talking about that. >> i'm not so sure he did so well with african-american voters. but he's bringing a person to highlight this school choice issue which is a young woman who actually got a vouter to be able
to go to a private school. is this something? >> you know from michigan and the struggles your state has had over the years. >> yes. >> competition is what's going to improve. >> are you going to take money away from the public sector to put to private schools? that's really the question. >> i do want too have more time because that's one you have to dive into. i do want to ask. you have maxime waters as you know. as you remember, there were a number of members of congress who boycotted it. you don't have members like that now but maxine waters and others like eliot engel saying he's not going to shake the president's hand as he goes down the aisle. do you think they should boycott? >> i don't think boycott. he is the president of the united states. you hope you can move him in the direction that helps everyday
citizens. what they've seen so far has been alarming to them so you can understand because of the divisive actions and the districts that they represent why this would be alarming, but you have to try. only 40 days in to work with the president. however, they are going to hold his feet to the fire on these promises, on jobs. if he's going to represent the everyday person, why right out of the bag did he make it more difficult for everyday people to get mortgages. why right out of the bag you can't have financial advisers when making decisions. i know you've got to go. i'm just saying. >> quick final thought but it's got to be a sentence. >> we've seen the president come out of the gate killing job regulations, fixing our tax code and the way we're going to continue to see our economy to grow, putting people to work is going to improve our country. >> i agree with that. >> a clear focus on this. i'm looking forward to a big unifying theme this evening. i'm excited.
>> all right. >> the test will be what happens torn and after tonight. jason and jennifer, thanks very much. we ought to do this more often. very calm, reasonable, friendly discussion. tonight president trump will join the discussion. up next the plit cal panel will tell you what they think they can expect from tonight's speech. ♪ when i got into my accident i broke almost every bone in both my legs. when i came home from the hospital i needed to be able to recover. tempur-pedic allowed me to do just that.
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to have american spirit and optimism for all americans. the second part grabs me because it is to bring everybody together. >> have you ever heard a speech that's not supposed to be optimistic. >> a bigger challenge for this president at this time. >> that's right. how detailed is he going to be on health care reform? he's goedt a divided republican party. and is this going to be a campaign speech or governing speech and by governing speech, does he reach out in any way, shape or form beyond the i'm going bring the county together rhetoric in any real way on any issue does he do that? >> dana bash, if you look at the inaugural, there were a lot of negative -- there was they were going to make america great again. >> it was pretty dark and
stormy, dark carnage. >> just based on what i am hearing from fellow republicans on capitol hill. one who was back in his home state doing a lot of town halls, a senator, getting the push back on obamacare, the key thing he said he wants to hear from the president is the why. meaning they need him to do what he does best. be a salesman, keep the big picture, and explain why affordable care act needs to be repealed, why obamacare needs to be replaced and to make the kbas the preside -- case because something president obama couldn't do himself was make his plan
popular, it's turned the polling -- >> saying it's a disaster. >> saying it's a disaster, but what they need to do generally philosophically to do it and the reason is gloria is because they have been losing the public relations battle. >> this is exactly why he gives himself a c and c plus in terms of messaging because he hasn't explained the why in terms of obamacare, or in terms of the wall other than to say it's a campaign promise but why do you spend $20 billion on it? what is the why of the travel ban. >> he did explain the why but is backing off of the why, but isn't it i've done an a-grade job, but i'm doing such a great job but no one knows how great a
job i'm doing. >> it's never the communication strategy. i think president trump's problem is there's no plan that everybody can support. if there had been a plan and members would have been able to go home to their district and say here is how we're going to fix it, they would have been in much better shape. >> even the house speaker, i was in a breakfast with him this morning insisted by the end of the night that the people are going to see that congress and republicans are on the same page. >> but regardless the idea is that they're going to appear he says to be on the same page, but again, when you're talking about big picture, it's one thing when you get to the nitty-gritty. >> you have these major disagreements in his own administration on key foreign policies, do you support nato or
not? did russia attack the election our not? we're hearing his new defense secretary have input tonight. do you expect the president to be clear on these issues? >> he certainly hasn't been clear, consistently clear and on the same page as the folks around him and people will be looking for that. there's a number of audiences, the american audience, the broad audience, the audience gathered the room and leaders and foreign policymakers around the world. >> will he say radical islamic terrorism? >> and militarily and also on the budget cut severely cutting the state department saying that keep it is country safe. thanks very much as always and thanks to all of you, that's it for me, wolf is back tonight 5
i'm brianna keilar coming to you live from capitol hill before the president's first address to congress. president trump will have hours from now his biggest moment since his inauguration and lay it out in primetime and before a joint session of congress. will he succeed in restarting a turbulent committee. he admits he could do a better job communicating. >> all i can do is speak from the heart and say what i wt