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Interview With Senator James Risch; Trump in Search of Baseless Fraud?; President Trump Delivers Address on Immigration Control; Trumps Sharing Life in White House on Social Media; Mary Tyler Moore Dies At 80. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: no sanctuary. President Trump signs executive actions ordering the first steps towards his campaign promises to build a wall and crack down on illegal immigration.

We are going to get reaction from the U.S. border protection chief under President Obama in an exclusive interview this hour.

Torture works. The president leaves the door open to bringing back the outlawed practice of water-boarding and he says the U.S. must fight fire with fire in the war against terrorist. Will top national security advisers shoot down the idea?

In search of fraud. Trump is calling for a major investigation into debunked allegations that millions of people voted illegally. Tonight, the White House is defending the president's baseless claims, promising the probe may not be limited to the 2016 election.

And TV legend. Actress Mary Tyler Moore has died. She was America's sweetheart on the small screen for decades and a pioneer for women in television all at the same time.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, President Trump suggests he may be ready to engage in a political fight to bring back the use of torture against suspected terrorists.

In a new TV interview, Trump says he believes outlawed methods like water-boarding absolutely work, even though many military experts dispute that. The president went on to say he will listen to what his Cabinet secretaries have to say on the issue.

Also breaking, Trump's first steps to overhaul U.S. immigration policy. He went to the Department of Homeland Security to sign new executive action, one ordering the immediate construction of Trump's promise and controversial wall on the southern border. The new action does not cover the cost of the wall or flesh out President Trump's repeated claim that Mexico will eventually pay for it.

Even as the president acts on his campaign agenda, he has created a serious new distraction and tonight he's calling for a major investigation into unsubstantiated allegations that millions of illegal votes were cast in November costing him the popular vote.

This hour, we may hear more from President Trump on this matter as critics warn that his focus on baseless claims of voter fraud are dangerous.

I will talk about all of this and more. Republican Senator James Risch is standing by. He's a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they are standing by as well, as we bring you full coverage of the day's top stories.

Up first, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, with more on the president's new remarks, first of all, about torture -- Jim.


The White House is pushing back on reports that there is a draft executive order floating around calling for return of harsh interrogation techniques like water-boarding that were used during George W. Bush's administration.

Word of possible executive action outraged both Democrats and Republicans but on Capitol Hill. But today White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the memo is not a "White House document." Still, the president was asked about water-boarding during an interview with ABC News and he sounded in favor of the practice, which is against the law. Here is what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question, does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was, yes, absolutely.

QUESTION: You are now the president. Do you want water-boarding?

TRUMP: I don't want people to chop off the citizens' or anybody's heads in the Middle East, OK, because they are Christian or Muslim or anything else.

I don't want -- look, now they chop them off and they put them on camera and they send them all over the world. So we have that and we are not allowed to do anything. We are not playing on an even field.

I will say this. I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group. And if they don't want to do it, that's fine. If they do want to do it, I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally, but do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Arizona Senator and former POW John McCain is one of several lawmakers from both parties vowing to block the president if he tries to bring back water-boarding.

He said this in a tweet. We will put it up on screen -- quote -- "POTUS can sign whatever executive orders he likes, but the law is the law. We're not bringing back torture."

Wolf, you heard the president there tell ABC he would listen to his Cabinet when it came to harsh interrogation techniques. His new defense secretary, we should point out, James Mattis, does not believe those methods work and his new CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said he would not follow orders to use torture on terror suspects.


Wolf, we should point out this is why President Obama sought to outlaw this during his administration. Not only do experts say torture does not work. It is a violation of international law -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much, Jim Acosta at the White House.

Now to the president's new call for a major voter fraud investigation. His unrelenting focus on baseless allegations is raising many questions tonight.

Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, any sense on how this major investigation will now unfold?


We are still waiting for more word from the White House. President Trump called for this widespread voter fraud investigation. But it is really anyone's guess right now about who would be in charge. Officials I have spoken to in the Department of Justice which typically investigates voter fraud allegations say an investigation like this would be unprecedented.


TRUMP: Remember, I told you is a rigged system. Right? It's terrible. And not rigged for us. Believe me.

BROWN (voice-over): Today, President Trump announcing without any proof he wants a "major investigation" into voter fraud, tweeting the focus will be on those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and those registered to vote who are dead.

The call comes on the heels of his repeated and unfounded claim that three to five million people voted illegally in the election, costing him the popular vote. Trump lost popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.

Today, the White House said the probe will go beyond the 2016 election.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have to understand where the problem exists, how deep it goes and then suggest some remedies to it.

BROWN: But who would be in charge of the investigation remains a mystery. Department of Justice officials who would typically handle voter fraud allegation investigations say there is no predication such as a specific credible allegation of voter fraud to even launch an investigation.

KRISTEN CLARKE, LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: There is no evidence that people voted unlawfully in the November election, and certainly not by the millions.

BROWN: Trump's own legal team has argued that no voter fraud occurred in the general election. White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a legal brief in December: "All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud," in response to an effort to block the recount in Michigan by Jill Stein.

The White House saying that was true only of the states where results were close.

SPICER: There is a lot of states that we didn't compete in where that is not necessarily the case. California and New York, I'm not sure those statements were -- we didn't look at those two states in particular.

BROWN: Republicans, including Donald Trump, point to a Pew research study from 2012 that says one in every eight voter registrations are no longer valid. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters and 2.75 million are registered in more than one state. But the study does not say there is widespread fraud.

SPICER: People that are voting in two -- or that are on the rolls in two different states, sometimes in three different states.

BROWN: In fact, two members of the president's own team, Treasury Secretary Nominee Steve Mnuchin and top adviser Steve Bannon, were registered in multiple states on Election Day. Ohio's secretary of state told CNN today voter fraud in his state is rare.

JON HUSTED (R), OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: What we have found in the past, we do an investigation of voter fraud, voter suppression. We found less than 1,000 cases of voter irregularity, less than a couple hundred cases of voter fraud.


BROWN: And the White House has said it will release more information about how this investigation will play out later this week.

And it's worth noting that President Trump could also appoint a special investigator or ask Congress to use its investigatory powers to look into the issue -- Wolf. BLITZER: See what he decides to do on this front. Thanks very much,

Pamela Brown, reporting.

Let's talk about this and more. Joining us now, a key Republican senator. James Risch is a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do you believe, Senator, that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, as Donald Trump has claimed?

RISCH: Wolf, over the last couple and few days, things have been happening in a dizzying speed in government and Washington, D.C.

The national media has been spinning around on both number of people who were at the inauguration and on this voter fraud thing. I can tell you that is not high on our list. As you know, we are meeting right now and mapping a path forward on Obamacare, on tax reform and on immigration reform.

These things are not on our radar right now. It's not being discussed.


BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a moment, Senator. I totally agree. There are a lot more important issues.

But President Trump himself, he is the one who keeps bringing both of these issues up, how many people showed up at the inauguration and now these allegations of voter fraud, three to five million illegal votes were cast, and that's why he didn't the popular vote against Hillary Clinton.


I'm simply asking the question, Senator, do you believe, do you agree with him that three to five million illegal votes were cast?

RISCH: No, I don't agree with him.

But I think far be it for me to give advice to the national media. But I think the national media is going to have to start sorting through this and determining what they want to spend time on and what they don't.

We are doing that on Capitol Hill. We are sorting through this and we're governing and moving forward with governing. And we have got our sights set on what we think are the important issues that the American people are...

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: But, Senator, the president himself keeps talking about these issues. And we are reporting what he -- he is the one who announced today a major investigation into voter fraud. He just spoke at length about it in this new interview with ABC News.

Do you want the news media to ignore what the president of the United States is alleging?

RISCH: Like I said, far be it for me to give advice to you guys. But we have a different view of what is important and what isn't and what we are facing.

I sat 25 feet from Barack Obama say that if you like your policy you can keep it, didn't get a blip anywhere. And every time this president says something, everybody is all over it.

But, look, this is a different president than we have ever had before, probably different than we are ever going to see again. We have got our sights set on governing. We are going to do that. We are going to take up the important things. I guess the media is going to have to sort through what they want to focus on.

In the last five days, there have been some dizzying actions by the president-elect on the executive orders that he signed, the conversations he has had with other leaders. Just keeping up with that from our standpoint is a Herculean effort.

BLITZER: But, Senator, I totally agree. If the president himself would not have raised these marginal issues, we would be talking a lot more about that dizzying speed, as you say, of all of these other executive orders, executive actions he has signed. We are talking about those as well.

But I'm going to move on, but one quick question. Do you agree with President Trump that the government, the federal government now needs to engage in a major investigation into voter fraud?

RISCH: You know, if the government does that, it is going to be the second branch of government that does that. It is not going to be the first branch of government.

I'm with my colleagues all day long in meetings in and out and it is just not being discussed here. That is up to him. He is head of the second branch of government. Second branch of government is the one who does investigations and who does prosecutions.

He is in charge of it. You guys can deal with it. He can deal with it. We are going to focus on the legislative matters.

BLITZER: What is more important, from your perspective, Senator, and you are very well plugged in, an investigation into massive voter fraud, as the president is suggesting, or investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election?

RISCH: Well, obviously, I would take the latter way before the former. Certainly, there is clear evidence that Russia did some things that --

I haven't seen the evidence on the other. No, I definitely would agree with you that the former is more important the latter.


RISCH: The investigation of the Russians is the most important.

BLITZER: Yes, obviously, I totally agree with you on that as well.

You also heard President Trump's latest comment that torture works. He said that in the ABC News interview. Do you agree with him on that, that water-boarding, for example, should be brought back?


Wolf, we had a lengthy argument about this and debate about this years ago. The law has been passed. The law of the land in America is you can't torture. And this is really an academic discussion at this time because he can't do it. He can't issue an order to do it. He is not going to get anybody to do it. Nobody is going to go to prison over this.

America has said clearly we are not going to torture and we have passe a law that says you can't. Set that aside and let's move to other stuff, because he can say what he wants, but it is not going to happen.

BLITZER: All right, let's move to some other stuff.

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, wouldn't flatly rule out the possibility of working with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, as far as Syria is concerned. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who Trump met with when he was considering people for his administration, just spoke to our own Jake Tapper about her meeting in recent days with President Assad in Damascus.

Do you believe this is the right direction for American foreign policy?

RISCH: Well, first of all, we need a comprehensive policy there.

Look, as you know, I'm number two on Foreign Relations Committee and on the Intelligence Committee. If you said to me describe for me our policy in Syria and Iraq right now, I couldn't do it.


I can tell you that there are in-depth discussions going on constructing that policy. We need to get that done before we start wading into conversations and that sort of thing. We need to determine a policy as to what we are going to do there, how we are going to do it and the effort we are going to make on that part.

Until then, I'm really cautious about wading into conversations.

BLITZER: Senator Risch, thanks so much for joining us.

RISCH: Wolf, thank you. Glad to be here.

BLITZER: Stand by.

We are also learning more about President Trump's new actions on illegal immigration. I will have an exclusive interview with the former head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

He's very skeptical that the president's border wall will work. Stay with us.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news, President Trump signing new executive actions and taking a first step to build his promised wall on the border with Mexico.

Let's go to our senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.

Michelle, we are not any closer to learning how President Trump thinks he is going to get Mexico to pay for that wall, are we?


There have been a couple of hints as to how they could at least try to make this happen. It could be a reduction in the aid that U.S. sends Mexico every year or a reduction of the amount of remittances Mexicans living in the U.S. send home.

In the meantime, but what we can expect to see right now from these executive orders is dramatic stepped-up immigration enforcement and the start of building of a wall on the border within months. President Trump says, yes, one way or another, Mexico will pay for it.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Trump takes the first step on one of his first campaign promises, to build the wall.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.

KOSINSKI: Now with executive action, he directs the Department of Homeland Security to start building it immediately along the 1,900- mile-long border with Mexico, using existing federal money to get it started.

TRUMP: The secretary of homeland security working with myself and my staff will begin immediate construction of a border wall.

KOSINSKI: President Trump tells ABC News he's also standing by his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for it.

QUESTION: Will American taxpayers pay for the wall?

TRUMP: Ultimately, it will come out of what is happening with Mexico. We're going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon and we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico.

QUESTION: So, they will pay us back?

TRUMP: Yes, absolutely, 100 percent.

QUESTION: When does construction begin?

TRUMP: As soon as we can, as soon as we can physically do it.

QUESTION: Couple months?

TRUMP: I would say in months, yes, I would say in months. Certainly, planning starting immediately.

KOSINSKI: It's not clear where the existing money would come from to pay for the wall and Congress would still need to approve any new funding to build it. Trump himself has estimated the cost around $10 billion.

But today's move also means beefing up manpower on the border, 5,000 additional Customs and Border Protection officers. And in a second executive action signed today, the president is increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants, tripling resources for enforcement and withholding funding from so-called sanctuary cities, when local municipalities refuse to turnover undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

TRUMP: We are going to get the bad ones out, the criminals and the drug deals and gangs and gang members and cartel leaders.

The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc.

KOSINSKI: It all happens on the same day a high-level Mexican delegation is here in Washington meeting with Trump's top advisers. It's the first official meeting with a foreign government after the White House unveiled its America first policy, and one day after the Mexican foreign minister railed against a border wall and Mexico's potential price tag.

LUIS VIDEGARAY, MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We recognize that the United States has the right to build a wall, even though we don't like it. But it is another thing to try to get a neighboring country to pay for the construction. We have said many times that that is unacceptable.


KOSINSKI: Another way you see the changes, when you look at the priorities for deportation. Under the Obama administration, it has really focused on people who have been convicted of felonies, gang members, people who committed a string of crimes. But under the new rules, you see people convicted of any crime, people just charged with a crime and in some cases people who have not been charged with any crime, but are suspected of being a threat, not committing crimes necessarily, suspected, but still priorities for deportation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Our senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, Michelle, thanks very much.

Let's talk a little bit more about all of this, about President Trump's border wall and other issues. Gil Kerlikowske is joining us. He served as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency under President Obama and also served in Republican administrations as well.

Commissioner, thanks very much for joining us.

Let's talk about the executive action he signed today. First of all, building this wall, is that a good idea?


We have 600 miles now of fencing. We have more technology and more boots on the ground. And frankly immigration is so different today. It's not a border security issue. It is a border management issue. People are turning themselves in to the Border Patrol or at our ports of entry. They are not fleeing and eluding us.


BLITZER: What are you saying? It is a waste of money to build a wall along, what, the 2,000 miles where there is no fencing?

KERLIKOWSKE: So, I think you can put some additional infrastructure in place. Sure, there are probably some improvements that can be made, but when we think of unmanned aircraft, tethered aerostats, 21,000 Border Patrol agents, 18,000 of whom are on the Southwest border, we have a lot going on, and we have low crime rates along that entire Southwest border.

BLITZER: People say those fences are not really all that good. People can climb over them fairly quickly.

KERLIKOWSKE: Yes, I think even the current secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, mentioned that in his testimony, that unless you have someone watching a particular fence or a particular wall, and that is the real expense, because it costs a lot more for people than it does for construction.

BLITZER: You were the U.S. commissioner for Customs and Border protection until the other day. Did they reach out to you, the Trump people, to get your expertise to consult with you on this?

KERLIKOWSKE: No, they didn't.

I didn't have any meetings with them. And certainly I left office at 12:01 last Friday. But I'm the only person that has been confirmed as the customs and border protection commissioner in the Obama administration. And I spent three years, the first week I was in office in the summer of 2014.

I was in McAllen, Texas, looking at somewhere close to 68,000 unaccompanied children.

BLITZER: What about the other actions he announced today in addition to building the wall, fortifying barriers, hiring more Customs and Border Protection employees and cutting down on illegal immigration in other various ways?

KERLIKOWSKE: We have 60,000 employees in Customs and Border Protection either at our ports of entry and also we have our liaisons and attaches in all of these countries.

Remember that the majority of people that are trying to get into the country on that Southwest border are not from Mexico. They are from the three Central American or Northern Triangle countries.

If we add additional personnel, I'm sure that some more could be done. But, remember, again, they are coming to us, turning themselves in, not running, not eluding. And they are asking for a hearing. They are making some type of claim.

BLITZER: So, just to be precise, these people are crossing the border into the United States from Mexico and they're coming from third countries, many of them. And instead of just trying to get up to Oklahoma or Chicago or Cleveland or someplace else, they are immediately going to local law enforcement and saying arrest us?

KERLIKOWSKE: Well, not only do they go to the agents in the green uniform, because, number one, that they know that those agents are going to protect them. The places that they just came from in those Central American countries or even through that trip in Mexico, they can be pretty dangerous.

So, one, they look to them for assistance. But they can also make their lawful claims for some type of protection under credible fear, under some type of asylum claim.

BLITZER: But you would often just deport these people right away.

KERLIKOWSKE: We can't actually deport those people right away. You have to go through a repatriation process involving other parts of the government.

However, people from Mexico, because it is contiguous, they could be going through something called expedited removal. They could be returned quickly. But people coming from Mexico, the Mexican citizens, are the least number. In the last fiscal year, 415,000, there were only about 80,000, I think, or 85,000 from Mexico. The rest were from the Northern Triangle. BLITZER: President Trump suggested it is about as bad as ever, the

illegal immigration coming into the United States and the crime committed by so many of these illegal undocumented immigrants. Is that true?

KERLIKOWSKE: I was a police chief of two of this country's largest cities for almost 14 years. So, I can also speak a little bit about that.

And we didn't see the crime levels from people that were here either legally or illegally at quite the level that had happened in the past. Just -- I don't think that holds when the research and the facts come out.

A police chief needs everybody in the city to call them, to give them information, to act as witnesses. And a police chief in those cities is responsible for protecting everyone within his or her jurisdiction.

BLITZER: Gil Kerlikowske, thanks very much for joining us and thanks for your service.


BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.

Just ahead, there's a lot more breaking news we are following. President Trump claims torture works. Who is telling him that and how are his national security advisers responding?


BLITZER: The breaking news tonight: President Trump suggesting he's open to bringing back torture in the form of waterboarding, currently illegal under U.S. law.

[18:34:37] Listen to what he told David Muir of ABC News.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel strongly about waterboarding. As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire. Now, with that being said, I'm going with General Mattis. I'm going with my secretary, because I think Pompeo is going to be phenomenal. I'm going to go with what they say.

But I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question, does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was yes, absolutely.

DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: You're now the president. Do you want waterboarding?

TRUMP: I don't want people to chop off the citizens' or anybody's heads in the Middle East, OK, because they're Christian or Muslim or anything else. I don't want -- look, now they chop them off and put them on camera and send them all over the world. So we have that, and we're not allowed to do anything. We're not playing on an even field.

I will say this. I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group. And if they don't want to do it, that's fine. If they do want to do, then I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works.


BLITZER: All right. Let's dig deeper with our correspondents, analysts and commentators. Phil Mudd, first to you. You're a former CIA officer. You heard President Trump say torture works. What's your response?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: First of all, the president has got to be careful with his words. He doesn't appear to know that torture is a violation of federal statute.

However, Wolf, if you want to know if people talk under duress -- for example, sleep deprivation -- the answer is they do. I witnessed that information when I was deputy director of counterterrorism at CIA. People will give you information when they feel there's no way out.

That said, I don't think that's the right question. We are in a position today, whether you want to believe it or not, that is fundamentally different than where we were in 2002. We didn't understand the adversary then. We didn't understand their hierarchy. We didn't know if they would attack in New York or Florida or California. We didn't know if they had anthrax capability.

We are in a far better place against ISIS today than we were against al Qaeda. So my question would be not whether it works. It's why would you do it, given where we are today?

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, how is the national security community -- and you've been speaking to members throughout the day -- responding to the president's comments?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one, the national security community operates within the bounds of the law, and this is against the law, in addition to being against international conventions, U.N. convention against torture, as Phil Mudd was noting there.

Now, whether torture works, Phil has far greater experience in this than I do, but I've talked to a number of people in the military through the years, in times going to Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere; and folks with far more experience than me say they doubt the information that comes out of torture. You will hear from hardened battle commanders saying, "I wouldn't believe a word that comes out of the mouth of someone under torture." So there's the issue of what kind of information that you get. That's one thing.

But they will also talk -- and again, I'm talking about the view of deployed forces -- about the damage to U.S. standing when the U.S. is associated with torture. What does it say about U.S. standards, because part of this, as we know, it's a hard power fight against terrorism; but it's also very much a soft power fight against terrorism. And you know, the idea that the U.S. would use tactics that the bad guys use, yes, you can say, well, that would be an even playing field. But there's a whole heck of a lot of stuff that we don't do that the bad guys do. It doesn't mean that it justifies it.

And again, don't listen to me. Listen to what deployed military commanders will say about this.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: This became a huge discussion again after Osama bin Laden was killed, because there was a discussion about whether, in fact, that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed contributed to the fact that he lied to them; and that lie led them to the courier that led to the capture of Osama bin Laden.

The CIA at that time, led by Leon Panetta, believed very strongly that torture did not work in that particular case. And -- and as you all know, there have been debates on Capitol Hill about this since 2014 over and over again; and now the fact that you cannot torture is part of the Army -- the field manual.

And so this is something that's been litigated, discussed for a very long time. And I think the final thought here is that this will only recruit our adversaries, which is where the CIA came down in the last administration.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But I think we're also learning about President Trump here. Because we just heard from him, just during the transition, that he met with General Mattis, and General Mattis explained to him that he can get a lot more information with a pack of cigarettes than torture. And then Donald Trump said, "I agree with General Mattis. I won't torture."

Now he's president for five days, and now he says he met with somebody in the last 24 hours. He asked. They said torture works. And if -- you know, he'll follow Mattis and Pompeo, but if they want to go torture, you know, we'll figure out a way to do that.

He doesn't seem rooted in any firm ideology on this of his own. He seems very persuaded by whoever's speaking to him.

BLITZER: Because Sara, his defense secretary, General Mattis, doesn't think torture works. Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director, doesn't necessarily thinks it works. We just heard Senator Rich of the intelligence community [SIC]. He doesn't think it works.

So who's telling the president -- you covered him throughout the campaign. You know that team. Who's telling him, "You know what? It works. Go ahead and support waterboarding, other forms of what's called enhanced interrogation"?

[18:40:25] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is something about Donald Trump. You have to remember not only is he talking to these people that he stocked the room with, which includes General Flynn, by the way. He's also... BLITZER: His national security advisor.

MURRAY: His national security advisor. He's reading things that people print out for him on the Internet and put in front of him.

He will talk to people that we have no idea he's talking to throughout the day, because he is constantly on the phone making calls. When he's wrestling over any kind of decision, he'll ask people at Mar-a- Lago if he's at Mar-a-Lago. He'll ask guests there; he'll ask staffers there to put in their opinion. He is so swayed at times by the last person he talked to. And he likes to get a variety of different opinions.

But this makes the challenge as advisers, like General Mattis, very difficult, because it means that you can make a compelling case to Donald Trump; and you can leave the room thinking that he agrees with you, and he could show up on television saying something totally different hours later.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. There's breaking news we're following. President Trump calls for a major investigation of what he claims is wide-scale voter fraud. Could it actually lead to more voter suppression?


[18:46:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There is more breaking news out tonight. A senior administration official tells CNN's Jim Acosta, President Trump could sign an executive order or presidential memorandum as early as tomorrow initiating a formal major investigation into voter fraud. The president today called for this major investigation.

Let's get some more with our experts.

Gloria, no evidence of major voter fraud, if you will, 3 to 5 million people voting illegally, as the president suggested in the last election. That's why he lost the popular vote, he says. But what is the investigation going to entail?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very hard to say. I mean, he could call for a blue ribbon panel. He could -- we just learned tonight that Jason Chaffetz's committee over in the House, Jason Chaffetz, who is a Republican, has said that he has no intention of going through this kind of investigation.

So, the president can sign whatever he wants. It's going to be costly and most people in his own party think it's foolish for him to do it. I think the mechanics of it at this point are uncertain.

BLITZER: David, you know the concern among many Democrats especially is that this kind of investigation could lead to voter suppression and make it more difficult for people, legitimate American citizens to vote, voter ID issues, stuff like that.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, a lot of Democrats are concerned that the very franchise of voting is at risk here and that they see this as part of the pattern over several years that they believe Republicans, we've seen this with the Republican governors across some states, trying to limit access to voting. I think you're going to see this is a real animating issue for Democrats.

You watch in the -- as the DNC, the Democratic National Committee now goes through its race for its chairman, as they find their party leaders. This is going to be just like what we saw in the last cycle with Democrats, criminal justice reform was a real animating issue, this voting rights issue is going to be a very animating issue.

BLITZER: And, Sara, we just found out from Jim Acosta that the president has now concluded his Supreme Court interviews. He will announce his nominee to become the next Supreme Court justice next Thursday.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is correct. We know he has been looking at these four finalists and there is a great story on that sort of digs deeper into the backgrounds of these folks. This will be an interesting test for Donald Trump because a lot of what we have seen him do since he came to the White House is executive action, executive authority, sort of use the bully pulpit to get through what he wants to get through.

And we've also seen, you know, his picks for these various cabinet positions. You have go through Senate confirmation, but you have a Republican majority in both houses.

Now, this is going to be a different scenario. Donald Trump is going to have to pick a Supreme Court justice that can make it through the Senate, that can survive a filibuster. So, this I think will be telling to Republicans as well as to Democrats about really where his head is on some of these social issues as well.

BLITZER: We're going to put the four finalists, at least what we understand the four finalists, we'll put them on the screen.

Gloria, the Supreme Court nominee will require, will need 60 votes as opposed to 51 for cabinet.

BORGER: Well, and Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats has already said that he doesn't intend to let anybody through. In other words, he's going to do to the Republicans what the Republicans did to Barack Obama.

BLITZER: He said he wouldn't let anybody through who's not mainstream.

BORGER: Well, yes, but I think they may have more up their sleeves, Wolf. They have not forgotten what occurred last time around. And --

CHALIAN: Which is why it's so important to watch those ten Democratic senators who are up for election --

BORGER: Exactly. CHALIAN: -- in the red states, the states that Donald Trump won, because that is where the White House is going to be focusing their entire energy to get to 60.

BORGER: And can I just say something about this new executive order?

BLITZER: By the way, we're showing what we believe to be the four finalists for the U.S. Supreme Court.

[18:50:03] BORGER: Which could come tomorrow.

In terms of what we're learning about the new president, we're also learning something about him from this, which is that he doubles down. When he's backed up against the wall and everybody is saying, you know, "this is a mistake, this is a mistake," guess what, he orders -- he's going to sign an executive order because he's going to say to everybody, this is what I believe.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It may be Donald Trump's Washington that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was wrong, that you are entitled to your own facts, not just your opinions, because in the first five days we've seen this. There is no fact to back up this voter fraud.

Listen to the Republicans, listen to what Jason Chaffetz on that. Same with -- you know, the idea that the media created the feud with the intelligence community, the CIA on Saturday, you know, these are not factual statements or positions but perhaps in Trump's Washington, these lines will still be --

BLITZER: Let me let Phil Mudd quickly button this up for us.

Go ahead, Phil.

PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: Let's be clear, this is why people like me who aren't political analysts can't stand Republicans and can't stand the Democrats. The president of the United States, President Obama, had an opportunity which every president has to nominate a Supreme Court justice and the Republicans said no. Now the two kids will kick sand in each other's faces where the Republicans say, "We want to nominate somebody", and the Democrats are going to say, "We say no." People like me who don't do politics, get them all out. We've had it with this stuff.

BLITZER: Nice button-up from Phil Mudd.

All right. Everybody, stand by.

Just ahead, the new first family shares life behind scenes at the White House on Instagram.

Plus, remembering pioneering actress Mary Tyler Moore.


[18:56:07] BLITZER: The new first family is offering a remarkably candid look at life in the White House online.

CNN's Sara Ganim is here with details for us.

Sara, we know President Trump is an avid user of social media. So are his kids.

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you could probably call them the first family of Instagram, Wolf. It turns out that Trump's kids, like their father, enjoy being candid on social media and we're benefitting from it, with a glimpse into the White House like you've never seen before.


GANIM (voice-over): From the rooftop terrace to the basement bowling alley, since arriving in D.C., the new first family isn't just changing the rules of Washington, it's pulling back the curtain on the White House.

On Instagram, this rarely seen view, Tiffany and Eric Trump standing on the White House roof. Ivanka Trump on inauguration day with husband and presidential adviser Jared Kushner and their children in a presidential limo, kids in car seats and all.

Experts say it's not surprising the Trumps are no strangers to social media or reality TV.



TRUMP: See? Good son.

GANIM: But their posts are providing a public backstage pass to the presidency that's rarely been seen from inaugural balls to breakfast in the state dining room.

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "THE RESIDENCE": I am surprised how open they're being.

GANIM: Kate Anderson Brower has written books about first families and their time in the White House.

BROWER: Most of the photos we've seen from previous administrations are taken by professional White House photographers. They're very choreographed. They're really giving you a behind the scenes glimpse of what life is really like in the White House, and in a way is making it really accessible to people.

GANIM: The White House has been photographed for ages from the Reagans to Jackie Kennedy's televised tour of the residence she helped redecorate.

During the Obama administration, the solarium on the White House roof was photographed for "Architectural Digest," but this week, America got this more candid view, Eric Trump's wife, Lara, posting a playful look at one of the president's grandchildren exploring the new digs. That's an upside down Donald J. Trump III. The caption, "When aunts and uncles attack."

And in the White House bowling alley, that's video of Donald Jr.'s wife, Vanessa, in heels.

BROWER: In a way, it really humanizes the family like we've never seen before, taking candid shots of their kids being kids and having breakfast in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfit, things like that that are very cute and endearing. I almost wonder if part of it is part of a strategy, too, to make them likable.

GANIM: It's not clear if all of this online access is part of a larger media strategy from a president who likes to deliver his message unvarnished on Twitter or just the results of a first family living in an Instagram age. Either way, the Trumps are providing America a new look at an old institution.


GANIM: You really can't help but smile when you see some of these photos. And maybe that's the point, to make the president and his family see more relatable, a bit less like politicians -- kids in pajamas, horsing around, bowling in heels. Quite impressive.

I mean, those are the kinds of pictures that everybody posts, right, Wolf? I mean, they're doing it with their own cameras posting to their own accounts. These are not official White House photographers, or official White House accounts. It's an interesting look inside of their lives, right?

BLITZER: Great report, Sara. Thanks very, very much.

Finally tonight, the actress Mary Tyler Moore has died at the age of 80. In a career spanning six decades, she won seven Emmy Award, four of them for her portrayal of one of TV's first career women, Mary Richards on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

She also won Emmys playing Laura Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show", is nominated for Oscar for "Ordinary People." She was amazing. We will miss her.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.