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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Trump Pulls U.S. Out of TPP, Opens Door for China; Trump Aims for Labor Union Support; A Down Day For the Dollar and the Dow; Spicer: My Intention is Never To Lie To The Press; Gambia's new President To Return Within The Week; Top Republicans Warn Trump on NAFTA; French Fin. Min.: Enough of the Trump-Le Pen comparisons. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 23, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:03] ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, and we're back now. That marks the end of yet another trading day on Wall Street. Stocks looking a
little bit cautious, down about 20 odd points or so as investors waiting for a little bit more guidance as to what Donald Trump's policies will be.
It is Monday, the 23rd of January. Tonight, with a stroke of a pen, President Trump pulls the U.S. out of TPP. I'll speak to the U.S. trade
rep who helped put it together to get his thoughts. Also ahead, the Mexican president said he's ready to renegotiate on NAFTA and Carl Icahn
said the slide towards socialism is over, thanks to a new commander-in- chief.
Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
All right. A busy Monday today. Tonight, President Trump takes on trade and jobs in his very first full day as U.S. president. He signed three
executive actions, including one, which is what we're going to be talking about here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. One withdrawing the U.S. from the
Transpacific Trade Partnership. That was a key part of Donald Trump's America first campaign agenda, as I'm sure you'll remember. And one that
union leaders applauded when they met with the president just a short time ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have trade, but we're going to have one-on-one. And if somebody misbehaves, we're
going to send them a letter of termination, 30 days, and they'll either straighten it out or we're gone. Not one of these deals where you can't
get out of them and it's a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right, so that meeting you saw there actually followed another meeting a few hours ago with business leaders. The president pledged to
cut regulation. He also promised to cut taxes, corporate taxes, as well. He also threatened -- and this is a highlight -- he also threatened to levy
a tariff, a tax on companies that move jobs overseas. It was a threat that Mr. Trump made time and time again during the campaign.
One of the companies he targeted was Ford. Today at the White House, the Ford CEO said he felt encouraged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK FIELDS, FORD CEO: Walking out of the meeting today, I know I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious on making
sure that the United States economy is going to be strong and they have policies, tax, regulatory or trade, to drive that. And I think that
encourages all of us, as CEOs, as we make decisions going forward. So it's a very, very positive meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Joining us now to talk about this is Jeff Zeleny, who's live for us at the White House.
So, Jeff, I'm sure you'll remember, just over the weekend, during the inauguration, Trump promised to put the American worker first and based on
the actions today, he's certainly keeping that promise.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it. I mean, this morning, he started out in the Oval Office with so many business
leaders. And then later today, as you said, with the union representatives, really trying to take his populist free trade message to -
- addressing to those people who campaigned so hard against him.
I apologize for the noise in here, we are in the White House briefing room, as you can see, and the members of the pool are going in to see the
president, who will be meeting with some congressional leaders. But definitely a message today of jobs and the economy here at the White House.
He is trying to make the case that from day one, at least the first full work day, he is going to, you know, have a whole new policy on the economy
and these trade agreements. But so interestingly, the TPP, of course, in signing that executive action to withdraw the U.S. from that, that puts him
at odds, in the crosshairs with many Republicans here in the U.S., as well. Senator John McCain, of course, first and foremost among them.
So signing the executive order is easier than actually negotiating some type of new trade agreement. But he plans to do something on that score
this year -- Zain.
ASHER: But, Jeff, the fact that he started off -- started off his first full week in the White House by signing not one, not two, but three
executive orders, what sort of message do you think that sends to Congress?
ZELENY: Trying to just send the message that he is at work, that he is here taking over for business. And a lot of these executive actions are
really no surprise. It's common business for a Republican coming into office to sign the Mexico City executive action. What that means is that
no federal funding can be used for NGOs and other companies that provide abortion services. So, George W. Bush did that on his first day. Barack
Obama reversed that on his first day. So all of that is pretty typical.
But really going forward the key thing to watch is the legislation. But Zain, I was also struck by in the first press briefing today with White
House press secretary, Sean Spicer, still talking about how President Trump is watching those crowd sizes, and still yet does not feel validated, even
though he was sitting in the Oval Office, he is now in the White House.
Let's take a listen to a very interesting comment from Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:05:02] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's about a constant theme. It's about sitting here every time and being told no. Well, we
don't think he can do that. He'll never accomplish that. He can't win that. It won't be the biggest, it's not going to be that good. The crowds
aren't that big, he's not that successful. The narrative and the default narrative is always negative. And it's demoralizing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So demoralizing. You still get that sense of grievance that is clearly on the mind of the president, on the mind of the White House press
secretary. But, Zain, you can feel a shift. They are trying to certainly turn the president's words away from talking about small things like crowd
sizes and other things, to actually showing him do things. Of course, the -- you know, the result here will be the action that actually comes from
these new jobs. Because it's not just trade agreements. It's automation, other things that are complicating the economic picture here.
He, of course, is inheriting a much stronger economy than the one that President Obama inherited some eight years ago. Now it is his burden, his
challenge, to keep it going -- Zain.
ASHER: That's right. Jeff Zeleny, live for us there, thank you so much.
I want to talk a little bit more about Donald Trump pulling out of the TPP because the message we're getting from member countries of the TPP and
NAFTA is very clear. Ministers from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have all told this program, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, they do not want to see
trade deals ripped up entirely. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN CIOBO, AUSTRALIAN TRADE MINISTER: What I would encourage President- elect Trump to do, what we'd really encourage the Americans to do is to consider that there may be aspects of the TPP that they don't like. But
this is not a deal to be dropped. This is a deal that should continue because it's going to be good for all 12 countries.
FRANCOIS PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE, CANADIAN TRADE MINISTER: We have an integrated economy. They understand that, you know, because we are the
biggest trading partner of the United States. So therefore, when you said that, you said, let's review the agreement. Let's look at things that we
BILL ENGLISH, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Look, we've been seeing the U.S. completely disengage from the Asia-Pacific. But look, we think they can
fulfill their political objectives around America first without taking too drastic a shift in their engagement in the Asia-Pacific, because it's so
important for our economic development and for the geopolitical balance that they are engaged significantly in the Asia-Pacific.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right. So let's talk about China because they're technically not part of the TPP. China in fact has their own version of that trade
agreement. It's called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and President Trump's decision to kill the TPP leaves a major opening for
CNN's Dave McKenzie is live for us in Beijing.
So, David, does this mean that China will then step in to fill a void in terms of the global economy?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly that's what China would like, Zain. And I think it's worth remembering what the
TPP was all about. How huge this proposed deal was with nearly 40 percent of the world's economy. 18,000 different goods would have been tax free
and it was a major, major part of President Obama's so-called pivot to Asia.
Now this was a long time coming, this slow death of the TPP with the final nail in the coffin, that executive order from President Trump. It does
provide an opening for China, for sure, in the region. China has been pushing for some time to become the major partner for some of these
countries, many of them key U.S. allies, like Australia and New Zealand, its own trade deal that it's been proposing does include those two
countries. In total, 16 countries.
And those who are pro-free trade, like certain Republican senators, like John McCain and certainly the outgoing administration would say that this
is both a national security issue, that the U.S. influence within the Asia- Pacific region will be greatly reduced. Also, it's an issue that some of these countries, these local leaders, these regional leaders, had to push
through the agreement to TPP in the first place, past some domestic pushback, politically.
Now with the U.S. officially abandoning this policy, they'll feel aggrieved and not necessarily want to play ball with the U.S. and take those
political risks. The initial reaction, though, because they've had some time, probably, to realize that this was not going to happen, has been
somewhat muted, because these countries like New Zealand, like Japan, and others will have to deal with the Trump administration, they are looking
possibly to push through some of those bilateral trade deals, but those don't happen overnight. And so, certainly, it's back to the drawing board
ASHER: So, David, you mentioned a possible bilateral agreement instead of the TPP, but is it fair to say that the TPP could actually go ahead without
the U.S.? Is that at all feasible?
[16:10:01] MCKENZIE: Well, already, some of the countries including New Zealand's prime minister speaking on radio there saying, well, it's worth
looking at the option of pushing through without the U.S., but, of course, the American economy was by far the biggest in that trading block and the
leader both in terms of policy and in terms of clout in this huge trading block that was proposed.
So, in the past, some of the countries including japans' prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had said that, well, it's meaningless, quote, to have this
without the United States. Now he's -- at least his initial reaction, as I said, was somewhat more muted because they're going to have to deal with
the incoming Trump administration. That is the political reality right now, is that the inward looking, at least at this stage, protectionist
policy that President Trump has been touting throughout the campaign and now putting into action through executive action, will create a new dynamic
in the pacific -- Asia=Pacific region.
You know, one of the most important trading regions in the world. So there'll be novice capitals right now throughout this region. One area,
one place here, Beijing. They'll certainly be happy about this move. And they will be pushing their own trade relationships and heavily investing in
the region and many say that this will give that opportunity to China to become the major player in the Asia-Pacific -- Zain.
ASHER: It will be interesting to see what the future holds. David McKenzie live for us in Beijing. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
Well, Mr. Trump promised to take action on U.S. trade and he has already ticked off key items on his checklist. He signed an executive order ending
U.S. involvement, of course, as we've been discussing, in the Transpacific trade deal. That agreement was a major priority for President Obama and
opposed by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well.
President Trump pledged to renegotiate NAFTA at the appropriate time. Earlier in the day, he spoke with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. He
announced he would be meeting with Enrique Pena Nieto next Tuesday, but still pending, though, a trade deal with the United Kingdom. President
Trump is expected to discuss that issue with Prime Minister Theresa May. She is due to visit the White House on Friday.
Ron Kirk was a key architect of the Transpacific trade pact. He served as the U.S. trade representative under former President Obama. He joins me
So, Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us. No doubt, you were disappointed when you read the headlines, given that you played a role in
negotiating TPP. If you had the opportunity to tell President Trump why he was making a mistake, what would you say?
RON KIRK, FORMER U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, one, I would say two things, is his ambition to strengthen American manufacturing and use that
as a conduit to help many of these workers and families that I think he was genuinely moved by throughout the campaign is one that we all share, and
one that he shared with President Obama and that part of our agenda, in fact, our entire trade agenda was crafting a new trade program for America
that was fair. That strengthened manufacturing, gave us access to new markets, modernized many of our old trade agreements, like NAFTA, and
protected our workers, but I also understand that sometimes it's hard to balance rhetoric with facts.
But, I know, I'm hopeful that the businessmen and women with whom he met this morning made that point to him, that the United States unilaterally
withdrawing from these trade agreements very much could have the opposite effect of what the president wants.
ASHER: How so? How so?
KIRK: In that it will put us in an immediate -- well, one, look, there is nothing -- I heard you with the earlier speaker saying, inquiring about
whether or not the other 11 countries that made up the Transpacific partnership could go forward. Well, they absolutely could. Because one of
the things the United States is an architect of that, put in provisions that said, if some country, you know, for whatever reason tried to be a
stumbling block, but the others wanted to go forward, we could move forward and do that.
And one of the reasons we were so excited about this agreement, the Transpacific Partnership, because it included, for example Mexico and
Canada, effectively renegotiated NAFTA with a stronger positions on intellectual property rights and anti-counterfeiting, because we already
have zero tariffs. And my fear is that if they were to go forward with this agreement now, then every U.S. farmer, every U.S. cattleman, every
U.S. small business that now wants to sell into this region is going to be subject to tariffs as high as 120 percent. And you heard the other speaker
ASHER: And what effect could that have on the U.S. economy do you think?
KIRK: -- their tariffs go away. Pardon me?
ASHER: What affect do you think that will have on the U.S. economy then?
[16:15:02] KIRK: It would have -- I think a very damning effect on our economy, but even more tragically, it will hurt consumers. Anytime a
tariff -- if there's anything your viewers should take from this, a tariff is just a fancy way for taxes. We're going to be paying taxes that the
rest of the world would not. And if you think of this Transpacific Partnership as the world's largest duty-free zone, we just helped build the
most modern, up-to-date, U.S.-friendly duty-free zone in the world and then we just had an administration decide, you know what, we don't want to be a
part of it.
So everybody else who shops there is going to shop there duty-free. But if you're from the United States, we're going to be paying those taxes.
ASHER: You know, Ambassador, Donald Trump says his goal is for a 4 percent growth rate, and also to bring or to create, rather, 25 million U.S. jobs.
Do you think it's possible to have both? Is it possible to have an America first, you know, protectionist rhetoric, but also 4 percent growth and
creating 25 million jobs? Is it possible?
KIRK: I think that's as likely as me sitting in this chair and deciding that I want to continue to eat everything I want, lose 35 pounds, grow my
hair back, and live a healthier lifestyle. Of course it's not possible.
ASHER: You are so funny.
KIRK: And you've heard economists all tell us that. Look, and believe me, no one was more committed, no one cared more about the plight of working
families or cared anymore than they did than the president that I was privileged to work for. So I applaud President Clinton -- I mean president
-- boy, that's a fumble.
ASHER: That's funny.
KIRK: I can say it, president --
ASHER: You're thinking about the NAFTA. Wrong trade agreement.
KIRK: I applaud President Trump for his commitment to that but you've heard -- I don't think you found any economist anywhere in this country or
the world that believes that what he's put forward in terms of being protectionist, levying tariffs, growing the economy and creating jobs as
being feasible or achievable. And in fact, most have said that it could have very damning economic consequences for the U.S., because we could
spark a trade war. And the last time we did this was after the great depression, and there seems to be general recognition and acceptance that
that prolonged the depression even more.
ASHER: All right. Ambassador Kirk, thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us. Appreciate it. Thank you so much.
KIRK: Zain, thanks for having me.
ASHER: Of course.
Well, Trump wants blue-collar Americans to turn red and back his new administration. The president is meeting with labor unions on his first
day in the White House, and he's hoping to pitch their support from the Democrats. That story, next.
ASHER: In the past hour, Donald Trump has met with American labor unions in the White House. The president is paying tribute to the blue-collar
voter that helped secure his election victory. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all blue states that turned red on November
[16:20:03] Now, with today's announcements, Mr. Trump is looking to make union workers a central part of his new coalition.
S.E. Cupp is a CNN political commentator. She joins me live now from Washington.
So, S.E., listen, it is no secret that you are not Donald Trump's number one fan, but, he has --
S.E. CUP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Who told you?
ASHER: I don't know. I got the memo. But he sent a very clear message to the American worker. Listen, I have your back, I have your back 100
percent. Your thoughts?
CUPP: Yes, and I think that's a really good distinction, Zain. Yes, he met with union workers today, but I think the message he's sending goes
beyond union members.
Let's be clear, Hillary Clinton won union households, that is, households with at least one union member, by a margin of eight points. Now that's as
good a margin as any Republican has gotten since Reagan. So Trump deserves some credit for that. But I think his message goes beyond union members,
to the kinds of blue-collar workers, manufacturers, coal miners, who really came out in droves to support him, whether they were part of unions or not.
And I think he sees a real opportunity to encroach into one-time Democrat strongholds in the rust belt, blue-dog Democrats, and win them over, to at
least support him, if not the Republican Party at large. So it was a really smart move today.
ASHER: OK. So -- but going forward, you know, this is a man who says that he represents, in theory, the Republican Party, but yet his very first move
today, his very first move in terms of withdrawing, pulling out of the TPP goes against everything the Republican Party stands for.
CUPP: Yes. And while we're talking about how friendly he's being to labor today, let's also remind people he met with the CEOs of some huge
companies, Under Armour, Ford, Tesla, today.
CUPP: He also put a freeze -- hiring and wage freeze on federal employees, not something that union workers want. So I think what all of this,
including the trade stuff shows is that Trump the not beholden to party or principle. So, that, you know, that frustrated a lot of Republicans, but
also to a lot of people, that was really refreshing. That even though Trump ran as a Republican and a conservative, I'll put that in quotes, he
oftentimes, you know, separated, deviated from the Republican and conservative dogmas. And I think you're going to see a lot of that over
the course of the next few months and years, which makes it kind of exciting, actually.
ASHER: Interesting. So, you know, it is interesting, because as you mentioned, he does sort of pick out the parts that he admires about
Republican ideology. He's sort of picking out like an a la carte menu, if you will. He talks about, obviously, he's against free trade, but at the
same time, he does offer businesses concessions, like, for example, lowering the tax rates.
ASHER: And also reducing regulations, as well.
CUPP: Right. You know, I don't know if you have this over here, but in America we have something called cafeteria Catholics, and those are
Catholics that sort of decide what parts of Catholicism they want to follow. You could call Donald Trump a cafeteria conservative. Right?
There are parts of his agenda that are very pleasing to conservatives, that hiring freeze today of federal workers. Conservatives who think that the
government is bloated would be very pleased by that.
On other issues like trade, he seems to go with his own instinct. And that's probably based on his years in business. Now, there are
conservatives like me who wish he had a better understanding of the conservative movement, but there are plenty of voters who say, I don't care
what he says he is or what party he's a part of. You know, tell me what you plan to do and tell me that you plan to make good on those promises.
And I think it's pretty telling that on day one, he followed up, in small part, on the major pillars of his campaign.
ASHER: Right. Yes, he kept his promise. S.E. Cupp, live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
CUPP: Thanks, Zain.
ASHER: In the meantime, Trump's supporter and investor, Carl Icahn, tweeted that President Trump's inauguration speech was brilliant and
declared an end to socialism in the United States. Icahn was named an official adviser to the president last month. He wrote, "Donald Trump's
brilliant inaugural speech defying worst critics, leaves no doubt our dangerous slides towards socialism is over."
Icahn seems to be referring to Obama's term, which saw health care for most American and reforms for Wall Street and the big banks. His comments come
as both the dollar and the Dow take a hit today.
Follow me over here. Let me just walk over to my good friend, Paul La Monica.
So, Paul, let's talk about this. Because when I looked at the Dow after the closing bell, it was down about 20 odd points. So why are investors
right now acting much more cautious than they have been to Donald Trump's policies, do you think, on day one?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: I think right now, Zain, the key is that investors want real action, they don't want more spin, they don't
want talk, they don't want tweets.
[16:25:05] They want to see real evidence that Trump's stimulus plan can actually stimulate the economy, get through Congress relatively easily and
then maybe put more people to work. So right now I think there's a healthy dose of skepticism. But it's important to note that investors clearly
aren't panicking. I mean, the Dow has not, by any stretch, tanked. The market is still near all-time highs. It's just that it's not going to keep
hitting new highs until we get real evidence from Trump of what he wants to do.
ASHER: And we actually -- just want to tell everybody, we do have some breaking news, that Yahoo! is expecting its Verizon takeover deal to be
LA MONICA: Yes, delayed by one quarter. They had originally hoped that that deal would close in the first quarter of this year. They're now
saying that the second quarter is more likely. There clearly have been some issues with Yahoo! because of concerns about compromised accounts and
what Verizon knew and when they found out about it. Verizon and Yahoo! say they're still committed to the deal, it's just going to take a little bit
more time. The good news for Yahoo! for those who still care about their actual results, they were better than expected, surprisingly enough.
LA MONICA: Yes. We haven't seen any noticeable decline in users or ad revenue. I think part of it is that a lot of what happened was several
years ago. And then, you know, a lot of people also joke about the fact that even with Yahoo! having its problems with security, their bigger issue
is that they have had declining ad revenues and user interest for such a long time, because of the emergence of Google and Facebook. So I think
these security issues are clearly a problem, but there's a reason Yahoo! is selling out to begin with. They're just not a viable independent company
ASHER: And when you look at the dollar, just switching gears slightly, looking at the dollar, it slid less than 1 percent, I believe. So -- I
mean, is that just a direct ramification, repercussion of Trump's America first rhetoric?
LA MONICA: I think that is part of it. And I think Trump also talked the dollar down a little bit. And I think President Trump realizes that if the
dollar gets aggressively strong, that might be something to pat yourself on the back for and be very patriotic about. But it's not great news for
multi-national companies. It's not great news for anyone looking to travel, obviously. So I think Donald Trump realizes and everyone in his
ASHER: But good news for exporters.
LA MONICA: It is good news for exporters, but it could be a problem for, you know, big companies that are doing business here. So I think people
realize that a strong dollar has benefits, but also several big negatives in this inter-connective world that we live in, Donald Trump, like it or
ASHER: Right. Paul La Monica live for us, thank you so much.
LA MONICA: Thank you.
ASHER: Always good to see you.
It feels like the prospect of the Dow hitting 20k is dying away. The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Tom Farley, told Richard last
week in Davos that he's positive about these volatile times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM FARLEY, PRESIDENT, NYSE: I'm an optimist. I feel quite good. I mean, you look at what's going on in the United States. You mentioned the Trump
rally, the Dow went from 17,000 and changed to 19,000 and change. The S&P is up 10 percent, and it reflects real optimism, not just from investors
but CEOs that I meet with about the prospect for tax reform, the prospect for smarter pin-point regulation reform, the prospect of potentially
infrastructure spending that could have a stimulative impact. So I feel good. I'm speaking as an American, Richard.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
FARLEY: In particular I feel very good about the prospects for the American economy.
QUEST: What I find fascinating is if we take 20,000 on the Dow, which it tries and can't get there. Now I've talked enough on air about
psychologically important barriers and I've never really understood, I can see them, but I still don't know why it can't do it.
FARLEY: Yes, 19,999.37 or whatever --
QUEST: So what happens, do you think?
FARLEY: Well, first of all, we had to go unlock the closet that has all of our Dow 20,000 hats to be absolutely ready. You know, I think that there's
just a lot of sell orders that are in it to price 20,000. It's very simple or 19995, 19996, 19997, which would tell you, if we do burst through 20,000
look for it to trickle on the upside. I'm not a technical trader, I'm not a trader, but that's what's going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: And during crucial moments in the White House situation room, he's the man who will have Trump's ear. Now there are new questions about the
National Security adviser Michael Flynn and phone calls he made with the Russian diplomat. That story after the break.
[16:30:00] ASHER: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher. Coming up in the next half hour of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, it is decision time for the senate over
Rex Tillerson's nomination for Secretary of State. We'll be live in Washington. And France's finance minister tells us why you can't compare
Donald Trump with Marine Le Pen. Before that, these are the top headlines we're following for you at this hour.
On his fourth day in office, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order to withdraw from the Transpacific Partnership, the TPP. It's a trade
agreement between 12 countries. And it covers policies that make up 40 percent of the world's economy. Trump claims the TPP is harmful to
American manufacturing. His press secretary echoed his concerns today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's symbolic both here in America and around the world of a new era in trade policy. One that's
going to put American workers first and foremost. And one that assures the rest of the world that the way that we negotiate bilateral agreements is
going to ensure that we have - we get something out of these deals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: And Sean Spicer who you just saw there has been under fire in recent days for inaccurate claims about crowd size, numbers for Trump's
inauguration, despite an already combative relationship with the press, Spicer said his intention is never to lie going forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: It's an honor to do this. And, yes, I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with
the facts. There are certain things that we may miss - we may not fully understand. We come out, but our intention is never to lie to you,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: The new President of Gambia tells CNN, he intends to return home within a week. Adama Barrow is in Senegal where he sought refuge after his
predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, refused to concede defeat in the presidential election. Jammeh finally left Gambia on Saturday, one of Barrow's aides
tells - says Jammeh looted the treasury. Mr. Barrow said he cannot confirm that.
And CNN has confirmed the trident missile test last year did go wrong. A U.S. defense official tells us Britain's test failed last June off the
Florida coast. The missile veered off-course, back towards the U.S., after it was launched from a British submarine. The missile was not armed with a
nuclear warhead, and later self-destructed. British lawmakers are asking why they had to find out from the U.S., rather than from the UK.
And former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is being moved out of the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital today. Bush was admitted last
week, due to a respiratory issue related to Pneumonia. The 92-year-old will remain in hospital for now, according to his doctors.
And Disney has revealed the official title for Star Wars episode 8. It's called "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." The ominous title has left Star Wars
fans concerned about the fate of one of the saga's main characters. The movie opens in December.
[16:35:00] All right. We have new reporting now regarding the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the U.S. government and
scrutiny, of course, between a top Trump official and the Russian Ambassador. Evan Perez is live for us in Washington. Evan, what more do
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, U.S. investigators are scrutinizing calls in recent weeks between Mike Flynn, President Donald
Trump's National Security Adviser and Russia's ambassador to the United States, as part of a broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian
activities inside this country. Now, this is according to law enforcement and intelligence officials that we've talked to. The calls were captured
by routine U.S. eavesdropping, targeting Russian diplomats. But officials say that some of the content of the conversations drew enough potential
concerns that investigators are still looking into the discussions, amid a broader concern about Russian intelligence gathering activities in the
United States. And officials stress that so far, there's been no determination of wrong doing, Zain.
ASHER: So, Evan, just give us more detail, as to why the U.S. was monitoring these calls?
PEREZ: Well, the calls were heard in the course of monitoring of communications of Russian diplomats. U.S. intelligence agencies routinely
capture communications of senior foreign officials, including those based here in the United States. We know that the FBI and intelligence officials
briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Obama left office about these calls between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador. Now, in
a statement Sunday night, a spokesman for President Trump said that the White House had absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a
basis for such an investigation.
ASHER: So, do we know anything about these calls and as to why they're getting attention?
PEREZ: Well, among the communications that are being scrutinized were calls between the Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Flynn on December 29th. Now,
these calls would have come on the same day that the United States announced further sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of a group of
35 Russian diplomats that the United States says were actually spies.
Now, we should add that Sean Spicer, the Press Secretary, today, also said that there were a lot of other things that were discussed, including
setting up a phone call between Vladimir Putin and President Trump, as well as a possible meeting about fighting ISIS. So they say - according to the
White House now, they say that there's not much to these phone calls, Zain.
ASHER: All right. Evan Perez, we appreciate your reporting. Thank you so much.
PEREZ: Thank you.
ASHER: All right. Congress is back to work in Washington after the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration. Right now, the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee is meeting to consider former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson's nomination for Secretary of State. And in the next few minutes, President
Trump is due to meet with the congressional leadership before a private sit-down with House Speaker, Paul Ryan. Joining me live now is Tal Kopan
from Washington, D.C. So Tal, just explain to us, in terms of this meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan, what is the number one priority on the agenda, do
TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think that's one of the questions that we sort of all have, which is to say, not to dodge your question, but the
working relationship of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan going forward is going to be very interesting. And so the question is, what do they prioritize
first. I mean, keep in mind, one of the things that Paul Ryan has really been looking for, for a long time, and house republicans more broadly, is
tax reform. And that definitely sounds like something the White House is also interested in moving very quickly on. You know, some of the other
things we know are high on the agenda, include trade, which you need sort of limited congressional involvement and depending on what you're looking
to do, we saw an executive action signed on trade today, officially ending the TPP deal, which is actually been sort of effectively dead for some
But you know, Donald Trump has talked about some border tariffs, that type of thing might require an act of congress. And so, you know, this meeting
with Paul Ryan is really an indication that Donald Trump is ready to hit the ground running and to move things through congress, you really need
Paul Ryan to get it done. So it's interesting that he's having one congressional leadership meeting, and then a specific Paul Ryan meeting.
ASHER: So, you know, you know as well as I do, this was a bruising campaign. How much unified support does Donald Trump have right now in
KOPAN: Well, so far, it's pretty good for him. You know, you talked about Tillerson, early on, that nominee had some detractors among the Republican
Party. And keep in mind, the senate republican majority is razor thin. They can't lose three republicans and still pass all their nominees without
democratic support. So when you had John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio expressing concern about Rex Tillerson, that was a big warning
flag. All of those men have now said that they will support that nominee. And there aren't really any nominees that have any major republican
[16:40:03] So, so far, we're definitely seeing unity for Donald Trump, but we did get a pretty out spoken critique of the TPP move today by Donald
Trump -- by some republicans, John McCain was one of them, who sort of criticized that move. So, you know, we're starting to see backlash in
certain ways, but we haven't actually seen it play out in terms of potentially jeopardizing his agenda on the floor.
ASHER: So just - I want to talk a little bit more about cabinet. Because you mentioned that obviously, Rex Tillerson does have support, but it's a
different story, at least in terms of democrats, for Mike Pompeo. His confirmation got delayed. What exactly - and obviously, this is a very
important job. It's arguably the most important job. What exactly is the holdup with Mike Pompeo, specifically?
KOPAN: Yes, that's an interesting quirk of sort of senate procedure, which is not the most scintillating topic there is, but it's important. So, you
know, to move quickly on nominees, you basically need unanimous consent from everyone in the senate to move forward. And so, Mike Pompeo was one
that, even Chuck Schumer, who's the top democrat in the senate, thought on Friday afternoon, right after Donald Trump was inaugurated, that they could
go ahead and confirm Mike Pompeo. But there are certain members of the Democratic Party, three in particular, who have really spoken out against
Mike Pompeo, especially Ron Wyden of Oregon, who's on the Intelligence Community, is a very outspoken critic on issues of surveillance, on issues
of torture, and it's clear, and he has made clear that he did not want to move quickly on Pompeo, without being able to voice those concerns on the
So while he is still expected to pass, with a lot of democratic support, there are democrats who sort of voiced their prerogative to say, you know,
we'll eventually hold the vote on him, but before we do, we want our concerns heard. And we're going to see that democrats may not be able to
stop any of these nominees, but in this way, they can slow them down, for sure.
ASHER: And even just by slowing them down, Trump is certainly not happy about that. Tal Kopan, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much.
KOPAN: Thank you.
ASHER: Well, top republican lawmakers are urging Donald Trump to remain in the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. The President has other
ideas and says it will be renegotiated. We'll be live in Mexico City for the latest views south of the U.S. border. That story in just a moment.
ASHER: The final question at Monday's White House press briefing went to a journalist who asked about trade with India, whether it's India or other
countries, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the goal is to think about markets we want to access to benefit the American worker. In our series,
India 20 under 40, we meet the founder of a digital book publisher who says that India is the best place for entrepreneurs.
[16:44:57] CHIKI SARKAR, JOURNALIST: When I moved to India, I think I changed profoundly and I stopped being just a girl who loved reading series
books. My name is Chiki Sarkar, I'm 39 years old, and I run a company called "Juggernaut Books". The average book in India sells 3,000 copies.
Young India don't seem to walk into book stores. How do you find your readers in a country where your book shop distribution system is deeply
flawed? That's why I've gone digital. Juggernaut's entire model is based on a small component that does traditional physical publishing and then
this large chaotic full website and app, where we put out all kinds of books. So Juggernaut then becomes a place where editors buy books and put
out books, but also, if you feel that you're being bypassed by the editorial community, you can put out your own book.
I think most traditional publishers both are watching me with interest, but also mostly they think it won't work. And I think that's what interests
me. You know, I said, how can I change the game a little bit? How can I learn more about my readers? I finally have the power to ask these
questions that I wouldn't have had as a traditional publisher.
When I began to think of Juggernaut, and I thought, what can Juggernaut, and what can I do on the phone that I couldn't do physically? And I
thought, I'm going to get some (INAUDIBLE) adult film actress to write erotic short stories for me that we publish at 8:00 p.m. every night, so we
do appointment reading. You sign up for seven stories and you get one every day.
In India, I think I've learned to take risks. And I think I've learned to make great big leaps. I think it's a culture and a country where they say,
"sure, go ahead." Every time I've had a crazy idea, no one's ever said no to it in India. To India's youth, I would just say, be true to yourself.
It's the easiest thing to say and it's the hardest thing to do. You're in the best country to be an entrepreneur in.
ASHER: Still to come here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, the French socialists face a stark choice as they decide who leads their party. It is between a
former statesman and a maverick outsider with a radical agenda. Like we haven't seen that before. We'll have details, coming up after the break.
Don't go away.
ASHER: Welcome back, everybody. An admirer of Bernie Sanders is ahead in the polls to lead France's socialist party, Benoit Hamon. He's seen as a
rebellious luscious outsider. And actually, wasn't even thought to be a serious contender when he launched his bid. He will go up against Foreign
Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, in the runoff on Sunday. And the winner will either take on the Republican Party's Francois Fillon, or the far right's
Marine Le Pen for the presidency. And the French Finance Minister has actually told Richard (INAUDIBLE) comparisons between Le Pen and Donald
Trump actually have no basis in reality. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:50:12] MICHEL SAPIN, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER (through translator): Let me be very clear. Sometimes, in your remarks, you make a confusion between
Donald Trump, Brexit, and Marine Le Pen. It is not of the same nature. Donald Trump is a politician who tends to be quite colorful, who may be is
extremely frank, and we can regret it in the way he speaks. But he stems from the conservative party. He is a member of a large party in the United
States. He doesn't come from nowhere. He doesn't base what he says on just populism or as a demagogue.
Of course, he's got his character, of course, he's got his proposals, but there is a republican congress, so Donald Trump is working in a democratic
system that can be respected. It is not the same at all when we are talking about Marine Le Pen. And faced with the risk of the presence
during the second round of Marine Le Pen, I will state things very clearly, France will regroup, will gather, France will unite, because France in its
large majority does not want an image of France that would be abiding by that of Marine Le Pen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minister, I say with respect, they said the same things about Brexit. We'd never vote to go over the cliff in Brexit. They said
the same things about Donald Trump. The man's a demagogue, he's a narcissist, he has no views other than to build walls and to kick out - and
to prevent Muslims. So, I ask you, are you fooling yourself?
SAPIN (through translator): Well, I'm asking every single one of you to be very careful, because, of course, you act with conviction. When this
confusion is created between Trump's election, Brexit, and the possible election of Marine Le Pen, it's a mistake in your analysis. It's easy, but
it's a mistake of analysis. I would not, never compare Trump to Le Pen. And I would never compare the sovereign decision of the British people that
could be taken with the positions of Marine Le Pen. I will not be making this mistake or this comparison, because it's an insult to the British
people and the U.S. people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right. Let's take a look at how European stocks did. They ended firmly in the red. Investors were reacting to President Trump's
first day in the office and his executive order to pull America out of the TPP. The DAX is one of the worst performers of the day, down, you can see
there, nearly three quarters of one percent.
Well, the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, says the country will defend its national interests when negotiating with the Trump
administration. President Trump has consistently, consistently vowed to build a wall south of the border with Mexico. Speaking earlier, President
Nieto says he is ready for dialogue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's evident that the U.S. has a new vision for its foreign policy. With this reality,
Mexico is obligated to take action to defend its national interests. It's clear we must start a negotiation. There are some who suggest Mexico
should have an aggressive posture. Others who see the asymmetry between countries suggests submission. None of these postures is a solution.
Neither confrontation, nor submission. The solution is dialogue and negotiation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right. Let's talk more about that speech. Leyla Santiago is live for us in Mexico City. So Leyla, you listened to Enrique Pena Nieto's
entire speech. In your opinion, I mean, did you think that he had a clear, strategic plan as to how Mexico can move forward economically given Donald
Trump's new vision?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were actually there at the palace when he was making those statements, Zain, and I'll tell you, what
you just played, the playback you heard, that sound bite, if you will, that received a lot of applause. That really resignated with the people at the
palace there to listen to President Pena Nieto address foreign relations. But yes, to your point, it was very much focused on President Trump and the
relations with the U.S. This is the first time that we've actually heard the Mexican President sort of lay out a strategic plan. A ten-point plan,
in which he talked about objectives. Among them, deportations, human rights, the border, including the wall, and yes, free trade. That is a
major talking point for not only him, but also the new foreign minister, who pointed out the millions of jobs that depend on free trade with Mexico,
in the U.S.
And he really started with sort of the power houses of the economy and the U.S., talking about California, as well as Texas, and then took it to the
rust belt states. We're talking about Wisconsin and Indiana, whose voters really took a critical role in Trump's victory, but also, Indiana, that is
the home of carrier, which you certainly heard during the campaign, as well as once elected President Trump addressed that for the need to keep U.S.
jobs within the U.S. But the big takeaway from today, as President Pena Nieto was talking, was not only to establish the bilateral relations and
really sort of talk about the connection between the two, but to establish that both countries need each other, but President Pena Nieto will be
focused on Mexico's interests first. Zain?
ASHER: And Leyla, what sort of impact will sort of scrapping NAFTA have on Mexican jobs?
SANTIAGO: Can you repeat that one more time, Zain?
ASHER: What sort of impacts will scrapping NAFTA have on the Mexican economy and Mexican manufacturing jobs?
SANTIAGO: Well, certainly, we've seen free trade, not just between Mexico and the U.S. and Canada, but this is something that Pena Nieto argues and
again, the foreign minister (INAUDIBLE) argues that are interconnected. That the U.S. has millions of jobs that depend on Mexico and vice versa.
That Mexico depends on that free trade when it comes to importations and as well as exportations. Zain?
ASHER: All right. Leyla Santiago, live for us there in Mexico City. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
All right. And that has been QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I am Zain Asher in New York. Thank you so much for watching. Richard will be back tomorrow.
Have a great week