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Trump Kicks Off First Week in White House with Packed Agenda. Source: Trump to Withdraw from TPP Deal; U.S. Markets To Open As Trump Kicks Off First Week; Trump Meets With Business Leaders. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired January 23, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:01] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That is so wonderful. Usually, wrong numbers don't go that well but that was luck and grace.
Time now for NEWSROOM with Carol Costello. Hi, Carol.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of luck and grace.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: That's me, the very definition. Get out. Have a great day. NEWSROOM starts right now.
And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.
Donald Trump kicks off his first full week in the White House, and it begins with a jam-packed schedule that gets under way this hour.
At any moment now, the new President tries to get back on message. He's meeting with business leaders. But his own business dealings are the focus of a new lawsuit set to be filed at any moment. An ethics watchdog group accuses Trump of violating the constitution because foreign governments do business with his vast empire.
Also in the next hour, the new President will sign executive orders. One of them, we have already learned, is his first shot against U.S. trade deals. With the stroke of a pen, America's role in the Trans- Pacific Partnership, the TPP, will be dead.
Later today, the full Senate is set to vote on Trump's pick to lead the CIA. Congressman Mike Pompeo is expected to win nomination -- or win confirmation, I should say.
We're covering it all from the public hearings on Capitol Hill to the closed-door meetings at the White House. Let's begin with CNN's Athena Jones, though, shall we?
ATHENA JONES, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Carol. As you mentioned, a very busy first Monday for the President in office, kicking off with that breakfast meeting and listening session with business leaders. He'll meet later with union leaders and workers.
And then signing those executive orders. We learned the first executive order he's going to be signing will withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. And that's in keeping with the promise he campaigned on. All of these coming after a busy and, at times, rocky first weekend.
JONES (voice-over): President Donald Trump has a lot on his plate this week, from getting his Cabinet nominees confirmed to signing a series of new executive orders. The President also prepping for his first meeting with a world leader at the White House, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, after setting up meetings with Mexico's President, Canada's Prime Minister, and Israel's Prime Minister.
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I've never seen anyone work harder and have more energy than this President.
JONES (voice-over): But the President and his senior staff distracting from his ambitious agenda by fixating on the size of his inauguration crowd. Side by side comparisons to former President Obama's inauguration in 2009 upsetting the new administration. In his signature campaign style, the President blasting the media.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.
JONES (voice-over): Former CIA Director John Brennan and Congressional Democrats criticizing the President over his visit to the spy agency's headquarters Saturday. At issue, his political comments made while standing in front of the CIA's Memorial Wall honoring those killed in the line of service.
TRUMP: I made a speech. I looked out. The field was -- it looked like a million, a million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.
JONES (voice-over): Continuing the fight, Trump's Press Secretary Sean Spicer grossly exaggerating the inauguration crowds in a combative statement to the press.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.
JONES (voice-over): His claim totally false.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: Answer the question of why the President asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood.
JONES (voice-over): The President's counselor Kellyanne Conway defending Spicer's fabrication.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really we make that there's --
TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts?
JONES (voice-over): Conway also saying Trump will never release his tax returns.
CONWAY: He's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care.
JONES (voice-over): Late Sunday, walking back her comment, asserting the President is still under audit and has been advised not to release his taxes. But she still did not clarify whether they will ever be released.
This as a prominent a liberal ethics group says they're going to sue the President. The conflict of interest lawsuit alleges Mr. Trump is violating the constitution by receiving illegal payments from foreign governments.
JONES: Now, later today, the President will be meeting with Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle here at the White House. After that meeting, he'll sit down with House Speaker Paul Ryan. So very, very busy Monday here -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Very busy Monday. Athena Jones, thanks so much. And of course, one of the first things the President will do is he'll get rid of the TPP. So what will that mean to his supporters, to all of those who didn't like that trade deal?
Our CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans is here to tell us.
[09:04:56] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Well, he said he's fulfilling his campaign promise to them. He said that he was not going to get in any more of these bad trade deals, as he calls them, and he really sold it to his supporters that this was, essentially, NAFTA on steroids.
This would have been the biggest trade deal, really, in history. We're talking about 12 countries. And what it would have done, the goal of this here, was to be a pivot to China. China, which is really dominating the markets in that part of the world.
This would be a pivot to China. It would be these 12 countries that would lower tariffs for American goods in all these other countries. That's something that the business community here really liked. But the whole idea of trade deals now is very, very dangerous in this country, and the President is saying he's going to get rid of it.
This is something that every administration before it worked on for a very, very long time. This is years of work to try to better the conditions for U.S. products in that part of the world. But the big fear is that it would just be more competition for U.S. workers. And that's what matters right now, is U.S. workers and making sure that any perception of more competition for them doesn't happen here, Carol.
COSTELLO: So TPP is gone --
ROMANS: It's gone.
COSTELLO: -- before it ever began, and --
ROMANS: And we probably will see NAFTA, he'll probably --
COSTELLO: Renegotiation of NAFTA.
ROMANS: Renegotiation of NAFTA. I expect that will happen this week. He's going to meet with the leaders of both of our neighbors, our northern and southern neighbor. And that's something that's going to be renegotiated as well.
So we'll have to see because Mexico has said it is ready to put tariffs on U.S. goods. We know there are 6 million jobs in the U.S. that depend on trade with Mexico. So stay tuned. He's going to fulfill that campaign promise, too, I'm sure.
COSTELLO: Thanks. Stay tuned and stay here because we have a lot to talk about, right?
President Trump, as I said, has a busy day signing executive orders, meeting with business leaders, and setting fires. His team has been setting fires all weekend over crowd size and alternative facts. So let's talk about that and more.
With me now is David Swerdlick, assistant editor for "The Washington Post" and a CNN commentator. Ed Brookover is a former senior adviser for Donald Trump. Angela Rye is the former executive director for the Congressional Black Caucus and a CNN commentator. And Christine Romans continues to be with us as well.
OK. David, first question to you. President Trump will sign these executive orders today. He's meeting with the business leaders. Let's assume there will be no talk about crowd size and media hatred. Will we finally see a President who can focus?
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don't know if we can assume that, Carol. But let's say there's not talk about crowd size, I think when you talk about the executive order that's been advertised to roll back TPP, I think this is a clearer signal of the repudiation of, as Christine said a moment ago, work that's been done for years in both parties, right?
I'm old enough to remember a time when both President Obama and Speaker Ryan were for TPP. And now, both parties have sort of signaled that they're moving in this direction against it. I think it clears the way for China to have a bigger hand in the Pacific Rim economy, one that we were trying to grab and now President-elect Trump is gambling on the idea that he's going to bring back jobs, manufacturing jobs, to the United States based on our withdrawal from this agreement. COSTELLO: That's right. He's got a lot to deliver for those who
voted for him. And, Ed, I talk about focus because focus is important because even powerful Senate Republicans are not quite so sure what lies ahead with Mr. Trump. Here is Senator John McCain. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Obviously, I disagree with some of the things that the President-elect said, but the point to me is not what he's saying, because we keep reacting to just things he says in his tweets. What he is doing is important.
And I have the utmost confidence in General Mattis, General Flynn, General Kelly, Dan Coates. I couldn't have picked a better team. And so I'm confident that he will listen to them and be guided by them.
As far as this back and forth on his tweet, that's an endless rabbit hole in my view.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: You say you have utmost confidence in his team. Do you have utmost confidence in President Trump?
MCCAIN: I do not know, George. I do not know because he has made so many comments that are contradictory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: So, Ed, you advised President Trump. Why can't he forget the small stuff and focus on the big stuff?
ED BROOKOVER, FORMER CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think that he does focus on the big stuff and the other stuff is the small stuff. Over the weekend, for example, he's talking to foreign leaders. He's talking about and setting up signing executive orders. He's getting ready for these meetings that are happening today. So he is focusing on what's important, which is jobs --
COSTELLO: So why then, Ed, does he talk about crowd size? Because he does focus on the small stuff. And the small stuff is so --
BROOKOVER: I don't --
COSTELLO: You know, it doesn't make sense in a lot of people's minds, and it overshadows the big stuff.
BROOKOVER: Carol, see, I think what counts are results. And his results are going to be proven in what he does as President. He comes out, he's going to defend himself. He's always going to defend himself. And his people are going to defend him, as they should.
But what we really need to focus on is, at the end of the day, are more Americans working? Are we safer? Are we better off?
COSTELLO: OK. So I'll throw this question to you, Angela. Democrats say Mr. Trump's ego is at play here, but there are signs that Democrats and activists are trying to weaken the presidency. So how exactly does Donald Trump fight back, if not for how he fought back over the weekend?
[09:10:04] ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Well, wow. I definitely would not think that we should advise Donald Trump to pursue any of the courses of action that he or his team pursued over the course of the weekend.
In a matter of 72 hours, he frustrated CIA officials and former officials at the CIA. In a matter of the weekend, we learned of, I guess, a faux press conference because the real press conference will be today. And then, Kellyanne, of course, defending said press conference for using alternative facts which, at one point, used to just be lies.
I don't know that the Democrats have an obligation, at this point, to engage with someone who is still very much trying to find their way, even their way to the truth. I think, right now, it is the obligation of Democrats and all wise folks who are kind of more on the resistance side to ensure that our voices are heard, that he pursues an agenda that is beneficial to American workers, whether they voted for him or not.
And part of that means not signing or getting rid of something like the TPP. Part of that means not getting rid of or not rejecting the President's pursuit of an FHA cut so that people can buy homes, right? He has basically taken $500 out of the pockets of American people.
COSTELLO: Well, let's just focus on TPP because that's what's going to happen today. So TPP --
RYE: Sure, but FHA was first.
ROMANS: Yes, it was.
COSTELLO: Right. So President Obama was all for TPP. Hillary Clinton was for TPP until she was against it, right?
ROMANS: The gold standard in trade deals, she once said, right.
COSTELLO: Right, until it wasn't. Right? So clearly the American people had a problem with this trade deal.
ROMANS: Look, what the administration is going to do now is pursue bilateral trade deals with all of these countries, right? So instead of doing one big trade deal with all of them together, what the new philosophy is, is that these should be bilateral deals so that Donald Trump and his team, you know, Wilbur Ross, Peter Navarro -- the new U.S. trade representative -- can get the best deal because they're better dealmakers singularly here.
And that's really a rejection, Carol, of, you know, 20 or 30 years of what business and government has done here. So they're really remaking how we're going to do it, and they say that they can get the better deal for American workers. So their argument is they're not leaving China to gobble up all of Asia, that they're going to do a better job singularly with these countries. And that's just not something that the prior couple of administrations has thought was possible.
COSTELLO: OK. So he's going to sign this executive order which will make a lot of his supporters very happy, right? And there are signs, David, that Mr. Trump, he's trying to be less divisive. Let's put it that way.
He's trying to deal with these people. We saw the big protests on the mall over the weekend. He's trying to deal with them. And I'll give you an example of how he's struggling.
So Trump first tweeted this, "Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly." Just an hour later, Trump tweeted this, "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views."
So, David, is it more that Mr. Trump is trying to find the right way to reach out to those who perhaps don't support him?
SWERDLICK: So I think both of those tweets have the benefit of being true, Carol. Right, on the one hand, you had President Trump pointing out that he had the biggest crowds and the biggest turn out on Election Day in the key swing states when it mattered most. I think he also was right to point out that this was an exercise in free speech.
And as an exercise in free speech and dissent, I think it was a success on the part of the march organizers. Those two tweets kind of encapsulated that.
At the same time, one gets the sense, when you couple it with what happened at the CIA on Saturday and when you couple it with some of the other comments the President-elect made during some of the other inaugural events, that all of these centers around his fixation on crowd size and how big he was able to, quote, unquote, "draw." I think that's the word he used when he was at CIA headquarters.
And it's a little bit jarring because it does give the sense, whether or not he intends it, that as President now, not President-elect, he still is thinking of himself as like someone who's, you know, a headliner at Madison Square Garden instead of someone who is laser focused on the business of government and governing.
COSTELLO: So, Ed, Sean Spicer is going to hold a press briefing later this afternoon, 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and he will take questions. And I'm sure one of those questions will be about alternative facts.
Will Mr. Spicer shoot that down once and for all? There's no such thing as alternative facts. There's political spin, but alternative facts is something else, right? BROOKOVER: I have every faith that Sean Spicer will handle himself
and handle that press conference wonderfully today, and he'll direct the focus back to where we want it, which is on what's happening today.
COSTELLO: Well, what evidence do you have of that because the first one was not so good?
BROOKOVER: Well, I have evidence of Sean's experience and his experience in the whole campaign, when he was with the RNC and then when he was working on helping elect Mr. Trump. He did a very good job. Obviously, he helped Mr. Trump in winning the election, so I have every faith that Sean's going to move forward as a professional, as a Press Secretary the press will come to trust even more than they already do.
[09:15:08] COSTELLO: So, Ed, will we ever hear the term "alternative facts" again?
BROOKOVER: I don't know whether we'll hear it from us. You guys seem to be focused on it a little bit.
COSTELLO: Kellyanne Conway said it.
BROOKOVER: It's been every segment so far this morning rather than trying to move forward and get jobs for Americans and peace and security.
COSTELLO: But Ed, do you understand why we're focused on that? Because the voters, people, even people who voted for Mr. Trump wants the truth from him. They don't want alternative facts, they want the facts. That's why we're fixated on this.
BROOKOVER: We're trying to get to the facts. The Presidential Inaugural Committee talked about what they thought and saw over the weekend as well. And so, you know, we're out there. We're trying to do the best that we can --
COSTELLO: But those aren't facts, what you thought. It's not about what you saw. We got figures from officials who do this for a living. We didn't just pull those figures out of the air because of just what we saw.
BROOKOVER: Neither did the committee. That's what he is reporting to the Trump campaign, White House. We're ready to move on and get going on getting America working again.
COSTELLO: OK, so Angela, why is it? I mean, are we harping too much on that phrase that Kellyanne Conway uttered?
RYE: No. I think it could be a sub theme of the campaign, right. Alternative facts was in many ways how they ran it. It was like we were living in an alternative universe. I hate to continue to use this word. There was also this tie into this alt right, which we also know is just plain white supremacy. So there's a consistent theme of alternative everything. I don't think we're wrong for questioning them on representations of the truth. I didn't know, Christine, until this weekend that there were crowd scientists.
There were crowd scientists that actually listed the size of this crowd. So until they put forward their own crowd scientists, I think we have every right to say it's just numbers. They say in basketball, ball don't lie. The numbers don't lie.
COSTELLO: All right, I want to talk about the economy and facts about the economy before you have to go.
ROMANS: Looking at the market today, Friday, the Dow closed strongly because there's some enthusiasm about this administration, pro-growth policies, right? So we'll see money -- show me the money now is what people in the markets are saying, Dow futures up a tiny bit. There's a little bit of worry about protectionists tone.
But for the most part, tax reform, pro-growth policies, that's what markets want to see and that could continue to push the rally forward. It's been one of the best rallies from Election Day to inauguration day, Mr. Trump is in the top five of the best -- President Trump is in the top five of the best rallies. Now the policies have to come through to prove it.
COSTELLO: All right, Christine Romans and thanks to David Swerdlick as well, Ed Brookover, and Angela Rye, thanks to all of you.
Still to come in the NEWSROOM, by the end of the day, this man's primary job may be to keep you safe. The Senate just hours away from voting on whether Mike Pompeo should head the CIA.
COSTELLO: President Trump's inner circle is likely to take a bit more shape today. His nominee to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, faces a full Senate confirmation vote today. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins us live from Capitol Hill with more on that. Hi, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol. It's very likely that by the end of the day today we will see President Trump have three of his cabinet nominees confirmed and in place, the third of three because we had two confirmed on Friday, inauguration day.
The Senate this evening will go ahead and vote for Trump CIA director pick, Mike Pompeo, after six hours of debate, something that Democrats pushed for and part of the holdup over the delay on his vote. Very expected that he will pass through tonight.
Also some movement on one of Donald Trump's most controversial nominee, Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today will vote on that. The big question is how Senator Marco Rubio, Republican on that committee, will vote.
He has not said whether he will support or disprove of Rex Tillerson. But regardless of how that vote goes before the committee today, Republican leaders have indicated that they intend to put his vote before the full Senate.
Senator McCain and Lindsey Graham said yes, they will approve him. So very likely that paves the way for his nomination.
COSTELLO: All right, Sunlen, I want you to stick around for just a second because in a moment I will take you into the White House Roosevelt room where President Trump is meeting with key business leaders today. As soon as we get that taped turned, I'll play it for you.
Because Mr. Trump did say a little something to those business leaders. I'd like you to hear what he had to say. But Sunlen, this will be a busy day for the president.
SERFATY: It certainly will be, Carol.
COSTELLO: Sunlen, we have the tape. Let's go to it. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Mr. President.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Sit down, please. Mark was so nice with the plan, coming back I wanted to sit next to him. Thank you very much, everybody. This is really our first official meeting. Andrew, it's nice to have you set everything up so well. I hear your company is doing well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I really do. I appreciate we'll get to know each other very well. We'll have these meetings every -- whenever you need them, I would say every quarter perhaps.
[09:25:14]You could say monthly, but then all of a sudden monthly becomes repetitive. It sounds good but then you have to do it and it gets a little repetitive. I would say probably on a quarterly basis. You are great people, you've done an amazing job and the biggest in the world, and this is a worldwide meeting.
And what we want to do is bring manufacturing back to our country. Vice President Pence, good morning, is very much involved with me on that, one of my most important subjects, what the people wanted, one of the reasons I'm sitting here instead of somebody else sitting here.
I think it's something I'm good at. We've already had a big impact. I want to thank Mark and Ford because you've been great. I think Marilyn is going to be terrific, we'll find out soon. That's Lockheed Martin. I think we'll have a tremendous amount of business coming back.
If you read today's papers, you'll see what's happening with four or five different companies that announced they feel much differently, Fox Con is going to spend a tremendous amount of money on building a massive plant and probably more than one. So that's what we want.
We want to start making our products again. We don't want to bring them in, we want to make them here. That doesn't mean we don't trade because we do trade, but we want to make our products here. If you look at some of the original great people that ran this country, you will see that they felt very strongly about that, about making products.
We're going to start making our products. There will be advantages to companies that do, indeed, make our products here. We've seen it. It's going to get -- it's going to be a way -- you watch. It's going to be a win.
I've always said, by the time you put them on these massive ships or airplanes and fly them, I think it's going to be cheaper. What we're doing is we are going to be cutting taxes massively for both the middle class and for companies, and that's massively.
We're trying to get it down to anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent, and it's now 35 percent. But it's probably more 38 percent than it is 35, wouldn't you say? That's a big thing. A bigger thing, and that surprised me, is the fact that we're going to be cutting regulation massively.
We're going to have regulation and it will be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with regulation that we have right now is you can't do anything.
I have people that tell me they have more people working on regulations than they are doing product, and it's out of control. It's gotten out of control. I'm a very big person when it comes to the environment. I've received awards on the environment, but some of that stuff makes it impossible to get anything built.
It takes years and years -- you can look at some examples, I read one recently where a man has been trying to build a factory for many, many years, and his vote was going to be fairly soon, and he gave up because he wasn't going to win the vote. Spent millions and millions of dollars. Actually ruined his life.
We can't have that. If somebody wants to put up a factory, it's going to be expedited. You have to go through the process, but it's going to be expedited, and we're going to take care of the environment, we're going to take care of safety and all the other things we have to take care of. You're going to get such great service.
There will be no country that's going to be faster, better, more fair, and at the same time protecting the people of the country, whether it's safety or so many other reasons. We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent, maybe more, but by 75 percent to have, in a certain way, better protections.
But when you want to expand your plant or when Mark wants to come in and build a big massive plant or when Dell wants to come in and do something monstrous and special, you're going to have your approvals really fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And the one thing that surprised me, and I want to hear what you have to say. The one thing that surprised me, going around and meeting with a lot of people at this table and meeting with a lot of the small business owners.
If I gave them a choice of this massive tax decrease that we're giving for business, for everybody, but for business, or the cutting down of regulation, if I took a vote, I think -- the regulation wins a 100 percent.