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Abortion opponents gather at D.C. "March For Life"; Trump And Mexico's President Spoke Today by Phone.

Aired January 27, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Now, we're moving from symbolism to substance. And you're talking about the actual, you know, making of policy, statement there with our biggest ally traditionally the U.K.

How does he respond on that raft of questions that you just mentioned, and that will tell us what's happening internally there who does have the upper hand? The traditionalist, the establishment folks like Reince Priebus or the more nationalist flavor advisors like Steve Bannon?

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And how much does it evolve? As you first meet this people, you want to see first get used to these kind of issues. He's a new president. He's never held office before, never been in first president and never held office, never been in the military. So he -- may evolve on these issues as well as he gets more information and more of these relationships after Reince.

Just want to take a quick pivot back down to the National Mall, CNN's Brianna Keiller standing by there.

And, Brianna, you were a witness to something that has never happened before the highest ranking official to ever address the March for Life. It is without a doubt that the anti-abortion movement has new energy because they have in this administration and in a Republican Congress new promises for action. Tell us about the mood and the spirit down there.

BRIANNA KEILLER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, John. In fact, talking to organizers, they feel that for the first time since Roe v. Wade went through the Supreme Court, and they feel that they actually have a better shot and having at least a partial roll-back of that, and they say that any sort of roll-back on a federal level of Roe v. Wade would be, as you can imagine, a huge success for them. It would be a big win for them in to that point.

You heard the vice president here, and he was talking about how next week he brought it up. Donald Trump is going to be announcing his pick for the vacancy on the Supreme Court. And he said it's going to be someone who shares the values of what he called the late great Antonin Scalia. So really a pledge to the folks here that Donald Trump is going to pick someone who is anti-abortion, and that got huge applause from the crowd here. Last year, they had a blizzard. So it's kind of hard to compare it to last year. The weather definitely got in the way, John, but just from my vantage point here on the mall, just to tell you, I'm about right next to the Washington Monument. There are people as far as I can see really on all three sides here opposite the stage. So there really is a lot of energy here.

KING: Brianna Keiller force down on the National Mall. Whether you agree or disagree with the goal of these marchers, it has been, for many years, one of the biggest events here in Washington, D.C., the annual "March for Life." The determination of those marchers should not be ignored. Again, whether you agree or disagree, it's a great, right

Let's come back in for the conversation here, because, again, there's so much happening this week. It's hard sometimes as we're following so many interesting and newsworthy events to put things into context. To have a vice president of the United States -- let me wind back a little bit. Normally when a president has a Supreme Court pick, the official line at the White House is there are no litmus tests.

MARTIN: Right, right.

KING: Of course, the president wouldn't ask a nominee would you, would he or she, you know, vote yes or no, on the question of Roe v. Wade. Yes or no on some of the other big questions. We know they do the research. Normally, they're hands are clean. But for a vice president to stand up and say life is winning again and then connect it to a Supreme Court nomination, again, another example of the remarkable change.

ED O'KEEFE, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is -- I mean, we talk about the nationalist wing of the White House and the establishment wing that's run by Reince Priebus. This is the Pence wing really having a big moment here. It cannot be understated how big a deal it is to have -- not only the vice president speak, but Mike Pence, who is one of the most awarded social conservatives in the Republican Party be able to do this.

This, you know, for him -- this will stand as a big professional achievement and something that guys like him in the party have strived for. And, you know, it can -- I think this stands even more significantly than other parts of what has gone on this week. Four Republicans and four social conservatives have stood with this president despite, you know, perhaps some concerns about him and his behaviors in the past.

MARTIN: Trump --

O'KEEFE: They stuck with him, and they're going to get something they want.

LISA LERER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: That's a striking moment because of who this president is. This is a thrice married, formerly pro-choice president, and he has won the support, and he is going to deliver for the anti-choice movement. KING: And they -- and there's -- hang on. Just --

LERER: Striking thing.

KING: -- to this point, I just want you to hear Donald Trump in his own words. And remember, Donald Trump was once a Democrat then he became an independent, then he ran for the Republican nomination. He is now as a Republican president. Here, he candidly discussed his evolution.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But still -- I just believe in choice. And again, it may be a little bit of a New York background because there is some different attitude and different parts of the country.

And I was originally pro-choice. I will say this. As a developer and as a businessman, I'm not sure I was ever even asked the question. Are you pro-life, pro-choice? And it was not something that as one of the magazines recently said Donald Trump is a world class businessman. He was never asked those questions before. But I made certain changes. I have evolved.


[12:35:01] LERER: He's --

KING: And so that is the current Donald Trump. And again, he has been candid and open about his evolution. Some people still question whether it's real, but you hear him in his own words. Now we had the Supreme Court pick he will make next week. He is replacing a very conservative justice. So even if he names a very conservative justice, it doesn't tip the court.

But I am told in conversations about this, he has been told by conservatives. If you get this right, you're going to get a second pick, and maybe a third pick, and Trump himself lights up and talks about the prospect of being the president of the United States with a court that overturns Roe v. Wade.

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, let's -- it cannot be underestimated how much influence Mike Pence particularly has on this. Because let's not forget, the pro-life community was not sold on Donald Trump. And they -- and we're not sold that he would carry their message forth. Mike Pence gave him so much credibility on that particular issue, and you can't -- the Supreme Court is one thing that really animates that movement and got them out for Donald Trump. So, you can't -- Mike Pence's influence here is going to be larger than life.

LERER: And that line --

KING: The wrong tied amendment in Mexico City language may not mean much to your everyday viewer out there who's not motivated by this issue. But the pro-life or anti-abortion movement, whatever label you choose, the early actions of this administration have convinced them, it's real.

MARTIN: Well, and to your point, Trump has sort of washed away a lot of conventions and norms around politics, and that third and final debate, when he was asked the question right from the get-go about the abortion issue, when he said he didn't bother with this sort of, you know, word play around this. He said, of course, I want pro-life justices. That was a huge moment, I think, and it reinforces promise on the court, and that I think is what brought home so many cultural conservatives.

And, John, I think, you know, Trump was smart enough at the outset of the campaign to realize there are few issues on orthodoxy I cannot violate in Republican primary. One of it is abortion. One of them is guns. And he was down the line on those two issues, and I think that was hugely important.

And by the way, one of the reasons why he faired better but his good friend Rudy Giuliani, if you remember, did not move on the abortion issue before he ran for president and that hurt him in the primary. And to have Pence come out there today, it's an important symbolic movement. The birther life movement is so used, John, to getting crumbs at best --

O'KEEFE: Yeah.

MARTIN: -- from the GOP. And to have the vice president out there talking about the court, I think, really drives home the fact that we are not taking you for granted like every other administration has.

KING: And so, now we watch for policy perspective. The Supreme Court pick next week, the new republican Congress, a lot of Republican governors out there. This issue will be an active issue over the next several years, and, again, the movement energized because they believe they have a president on their side.

We're going to take a quick break. Up next, President Trump's big summit with Congressional Republicans, a lot of shared goals and a lot of differences on just how to meet them.


[00:41:51] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Very busy day here in Washington, President Trump just yesterday visited a big Republican strategy session in Philadelphia and said it's time to think big.


TRUMP: Now is the dawn of a new era of American independence, a rededication to the idea that the people are in charge of their own destiny. I want to thank Majority Leader McConnell, great guy and Speaker Paul Ryan, very, very special, and he is writing his heart out, right? We're actually going to sign the stuff that you're writing. You're not wasting your time.


KING: President's optimism about signing things well, that's because Republicans now control the Congress and the White House, and they agree on the big goals, tax reform and economic growth repealing and replacing Obamacare, tougher border security.

But agreement on big goals doesn't always translated into agreement on the critical details. Health care is one giant divide, and GOP budget hawks for example see a golden opportunity now with the Republican in the White House to reign in federal spending and balance the budget. The President doesn't seem to share that urgency.


TRUMP: So a balanced budget is fine, but sometimes you have to fuel the well in order to really get the economy going, and we have to take care of our military. Our military is more important to me than a balanced budget because we'll get there with the balanced budget.


KING: A lot of kumbaya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all (inaudible) now

KING: There's a lot of kumbaya on these conversations but, you know, whether you want to use cliches, the devils in the details or the rubber is about to hit the road, there are a lot of problems here in trying to get things done, get the President and the congress in agreement.

KUCINICH: Spending, spending, spending. I think we're going to hear a lot about spending for matter whether we're talking about the wall, infrastructure.

KING: Obamacare.

KUCINICH: Obamacare, how these things are paid for. I mean, I am old enough to remember when Republicans said everything should be paid for, and that we're moving away from that. And it's going to be fascinating to see how this particular Congress who really. I mean, the republicans took over with this message of physical responsibility and how they square that over the next, you know, four years at least is going to be fascinating to watch.

LERER: Right. The tea party movement grew out of an opposition to President Obama, of course, but also an opposition to policies of President --



LERER: -- George W. Bush. So it's interesting to see now given the overlap between Trump voters and some of those tea party supporters where the party goes from here. Is the Republican Party going to stay true to those principles, or is Trump now changing the party? We've already seen some evidence that he is.

O'KEEFE: And I think the whiplash you saw yesterday on how exactly a wall gets paid for, whether it's a 20 percent border tariff or not. And on that, just one of the ideas, that had more to do with the fact that very quickly John Cornyn, John McCain, other Republicans were saying that's not the way you can do that. Mexico is the largest trading partner to my country or to my state. It would cause great panic and problems with the business community, we can't do that. That's why they had to pull it.

KING: And speaking of that, that was the big dust-up yesterday. The President of Mexico cancelling his visit to the United States, President Trump saying that's fine with me because Mexico is upset about the wall.

[00:45:01] We do want to update you a little bit of breaking news here. An effort apparently to patch this relationship up. President Enrique Pena Nieto and President Donald Trump did speak on the telephone we are told for about an hour today. But we don't know much about that call just yet, but they did have a one hour long phone conversation. But White House was saying yesterday before this all blew up to the higher levels that they hoped at some point to reschedule this meeting. What do we make by this that at least they're trying?

MARTIN: And that, sometimes, in an international affairs, like in politics here domestically, what is said publically is not quite the same as what he said privately. And as mentioned earlier, for their base political consumption being tough and sort of staking out their turf makes some sense, but obviously I think in private and they're trying to figure out a way to move forward here.

You know, Trump has done well, John, I think out of the gate with executives orders. But I think, once he gets behind executive orders and his agenda has been to moved to that big white building behind us up there, is he going to have the patience to watch all these committees and two chambers of Congress slowly move his agenda or by March and April is he going to say, "Guys, what's going on here? And what do you mean there's a markup in the Senate Finance Committee?"

Well, I don't you know whatever, man get to my desk. This is a new world for him.

I talked to his senior aide yesterday on the way back from Philadelphia. A Republican who said, look, he is off to a great start. He is a man of action, so far so good. I said what happens in the spring when you guys haven't put stuff on his desk yet? He says, well, that could be a challenge.

LERER: And on those executive orders, you know, these haven't been vetted legally necessarily. It's not clear whether they're actually actionable.

KING: Right.

LERER: And it's -- also, even if they are legal and they aren't challenged, which they're likely to be.

KING: Right.

LERER: There isn't necessarily the staffing at these agencies to move forward with them. There are lot of unsettled position of about 700 Senate conservable slots. You settled 31 -- 34 and it's telling me so.

O'KEEFE: Four have been confirmed.

LERER: Four have been confirmed?

O'KEEFE: That's it, yeah.

LERER: So it's unclear how quickly even those executive actions can move.


KING: So if you make a key point that especially if you're Trump supporter this early flooring of executive actions is impressive.


KING: Because they have been about keeping promises.


KING: And we want our politicians and we should hold them to account to keep their promises. The question will be months from now how many are tied up in court, how many don't have legal standing. We'll see how that goes and plays out.

Another interesting thing is we mark the one week of the Trump presidency. He falls to polls a lot, Quinnipiac with the poll up. I personally think it's little quick to do this. But the President approval rating was taken when he was in office for three or four days if you're releasing it when he was in his office on seven days. 36 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove of the President's performance early on. OK. I think the first week in office.

But another thing we learned today is that Steven Bannon, the president's sometimes controversial top senior advisor in the White House, has been a subscriber to the "New York Times" most of his adult life, he says. In that same article he tells the media this, "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while". I want you to quote this. "The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand the country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is President of the United States. You're not the opposition -- you're the opposition party not the Democratic Party. You are the opposition party. The media is the opposition party". I think we get his point. He said it repeatedly. I tend to disagree with his point. We're trying to do our jobs, and you have had a problem with facts at the White House. They we're holding you accountable when the president or senior staff say things that are simply aren't true. But what are we to make of this?

MARTIN: I put this in the same category as Trump's tough talk against Mexico followed by the hour-long private phone call. It's not parallel there. It say stop for public consumption that your base is going to love, and then privately you act a little bit differently.

LERER: Well just

MARTIN: You say it to the "New York Times".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying it's not (inaudible), is that what you are suggesting?


LERER: You know, American states and trust institution all kinds of institutions. Not just government and the media and the medical sector players --



LERER: Right it's an all-time low. So they're taking it until that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're the bad guy.

LERER: Right.

MARTIN: You know, the media is easier, right?

KING: Right.

LERER: Yeah.

KING: Look, one of the reasons Donald Trump is President is because he ran against a bad candidate. Another reason Donald Trump is president is there are a lot of voters out there who think this town it the China shop, and he is the bull, and they want him to break things up, and we've seen a lot of China broken --


KING: -- in the first week in office.

But here's another interesting, we've also learned, though, that this president likes to talk about crowd size, he likes to talk about ratings, he likes to be loved. Listen to him here talking about -- remember the campaign? Remember the campaign how tough President Obama was on Donald Trump, how tough Donald Trump was on President Obama? Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What amazed me is that I was vicious to him in statements. He was vicious to me in statements, and here we are getting along. We're riding up Pennsylvania Avenue. We don't even mention it. I guess that's the world of politics, but I was tough on him. He was tough on me. And I like him, he likes me. I think he likes me. I may not even have to ask him, but I think he likes me.


[00:50:05] KING: I think he liked him.

O'KEEPE: Shawn, never gets a stance to ask him --

MARTIN: Donald Trump --


KING: But I think he likes me.

LERER: Yeah.

MARTIN: That's who he is. And, you know, he is -- there's a reason why he was so fascinated by the world of producers-wrestling. I think he's fascinating about the acting and sort of play acting and whatnot.

But, he also has a tendency to sort of read the stage direction at times and say things out loud that perhaps you weren't supposed to, which is I hope he likes me. OK. You know, I think he likes me.

O'KEEFE: There's no different than any other political figure in this --

KING: He says it out loud.

O'KEEFE: Exactly. He is just a little more dramatic and extreme about it.

MARTIN: They all care about the clips. They all --

O'KEEFE: How often am I on TV?

KING: Exactly.

LERE: But, clearly, President Obama also saw an opportunity there to influence the incoming president speaking about major legacy items like, you know, the health care plan. That's what they do.


KING: I'm not sure the Fox News audience cares so much that President Obama likes Donald Trump or he likes him back but we'll see how that one plays out.

Thanks for joining us, a little rock 'n' roll hour, but that's what makes it fun here.

Just ahead, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May May just moments away, we're told, from a joint press conference from the White House. Coverage of that picks up right after a quick break.


[00:55:29] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're following breaking news.

Take a look at the live pictures coming in from the east room of the White House. Any moment now we're expecting to see President Donald Trump walk in with the British Prime Minister Theresa May. We have live pictures from outside the White House.

We'll be in the east room momentarily. They will be holding a joint news conference. This will be the first news conference for President Trump since he took office, exactly, one week ago today.

The president and the prime minister, they met face-to-face for the first time at the White House just a little bit earlier in the oval office. There you see the video. They pose near a bust of Winston Churchill, brought back to the White House, the oval office, by Prime Minister May.

Our panel is standing by for analysis of President Trump's first news conference since he was inaugurated exactly, once again, one week ago. Let's bring in our panel for some discussion. We have a great panel.

Actually, we have some breaking news. We're going to go to Leila Santiago, our correspondent in Mexico's city. She's joining us on the phone right now. There's news on this very contentious 24 hours that has developed between the Trump administration and the Mexican government, but there's a new development, Leila. Update our viewers.

LEILA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're getting confirmation from the White House that president-- Mexican president and he can bring yet so. And so, President Donald Trump spoke today on the phone. We're not getting that confirmed yet from the Mexican president's office but we do know that its about half one hours.

He'll be meeting with the senators and business leaders that we'll talking to him about what he was learned but the delegation that just returned from Washington D.C. today.

Now, this is the same group that really pressured him to cancel the meeting with President Trump next week. But what he will say to that group will going to telling given that now He has information from his delegation that met with the White House staff. And he has now spoken to President Trump himself. Wolf?

BLITZER: Leila, any word from Mexican government officials yet? Any description of this very lengthy phone conversation that President Trump had with the Mexican president. SANTIAGO: I just reached out to his office, and they are saying that they have -- they are not confirming that yet. But, it really wouldn't be off the price that he goes into this meeting with that sort of a background, having spoken to the president himself.

That will certainly give him some more to say and some more ground to stand, and that has been sort of what has been applauded here in Mexico among not only Mexican senators, but also the people of Mexico who asked him to not go to this meeting, stand his ground, not be bullied and protect the interest of Mexico.

BLITZER: Perhaps President Trump will be asked about this at the new conference he's having with Theresa May, the British prime minister momentary, all right. Leila, we'll get back to you, Leila Santiago joining us from Mexico City.

Our panel is with us. Our Political Analyst David Gregory is with us. He is the author of "How is your Faith". Our International Diplomatic Editor Nick Robertson is here. Our Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger. Our Chief National Correspondent John King, he is the anchor of "Inside Politics" and our CNN Political Director David Chalian.

Guys, thanks very much for joining us. So, Gloria, this is the president's first after week in office formal foray into a major diplomatic issue with the British Prime Minister. And it comes on the heels of a rather contentious development, relationship with Mexico over the past few days.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALST: Right. So, we'll have to see how he does this time. And you know she's new too. So, for both of them the stakes are quite high. And she's going to come over here and, you know, she is somebody who opposed Brexit.

And she has to come over here now and make sure that the United States and the United Kingdom can establish a great bilateral trading relationship. That's kind of issue number one for her. She also has to let the president know how committed Britain is to NATO and get the president to kind of say to her, "OK, I understand, and I'm with you on that.

And she also has to talk, I think, and you would know this more than I would, Nick. This notion that the president somehow says torture works and has opened the door for torture potentially, again, to be used, I know it has to go Congress, et cetera.