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CNN NEWSROOM

Report: Ex-NH Chair Calls Trumps Voter Fraud Bluff, Deportations as Business as Usual; Trump's Labor Secretary in Jeopardy. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 13, 2017 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: False, bogus, 100 percent fiction, despite this, President Trump and his white house continuing to push claims of widespread voter fraud in an election by the way that Trump won. The new target here, New Hampshire, for some reason. Trump narrowly lost the state and his senior policy adviser Stephen Miller says busses are to blame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Trump this week suggested in a meeting with senators that thousands of illegal voters were bussed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. Do you have that evidence?

STEPHEN MILLER, TRUMP SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: I actually having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire I can tell you that this issue of bussing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who worked in New Hampshire politics. It is very real. It's very serious. This venue is not the place for me to lay out all the evidence but I can tell you voter fraud is a serious issue in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just for the record you have absolutely no evidence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Trump based upon this tweet of congratulations was apparently happy with Stephen Miller's performance. Joining me now, someone who knows New Hampshire politics very well, a Republican who ran the state's party for the last decade, Fergus Cullen, nice to meet you. Welcome.

FERGUS CULLEN, NH REPUBLICAN OFFERING 1K REWARD: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You, sir, on twitter, are offering $1,000 to anyone who can prove what Stephen Miller was claiming? Do you have any takers?

CULLEN: So far shockingly no one has been able to come up with any evidence, no pictures of any of these magic buses delivering hundreds if not thousands of people from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. No one has any evidence at all.

BALDWIN: What's your response to Stephen Miller? CULLEN: Look, he says that anyone who worked in New Hampshire

politics knows this is a problem. The fact is the opposite is the truth. Anyone who worked in campaigns in New Hampshire knows this doesn't happen. People coming to New Hampshire to commit fraud on a scale like this is preposterous. It's untrue.

BALDWIN: Stephen Miller is 31, he says he knows New Hampshire politics well. We looked in. Briefly worked on Scott Brown's 2014 campaign in New Hampshire. Two or three weeks. From California, went to Duke. Worked for Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Does that qualify him to speak on New Hampshire elections?

CULLEN: Well, I mean perhaps he has been misinformed. Perhaps he is delusional. I'll trying to give the benefit of the doubt here and suggest he has been misinformed. Same thing with the President who has made these claims repeatedly now. Perhaps he also has been misinformed although he does have people on his team who do have experience in New Hampshire who should be able to set him straight on this. I would like to see the President move on to more substantive issues and focus on doing his job and not focused on sort of side shows like this.

BALDWIN: Perhaps he is misinformed, perhaps he is delusional. I have one more for you. A member of the grand ole party. You want to see Republicans succeed. Why on earth do you think Donald Trump and his top advisors are still pushing this bogus theory?

CULLEN: I don't know. I'm not going to become an arm chair psychologist on this matter but I am saying, look, you won the election, no one is arguing that. Supporters and opponents are both conceding that. Focus on doing your job and do it good for the country. These kinds of side shows, refighting wars from three months ago on an election which you won are a distraction from that, that is what is disappointing. I'm trying off an open mind, trying to give the guy a chance but he makes it hard sometimes for Republicans to do that.

BALDWIN: Fergus, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

To breaking news on Capitol Hill. President Trump's choice for labor secretary could be in a very difficult confirmation. Let me bring in Manu Raju. Tell me about those four Republican senators?

[15:35:00] MANU RAJU, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Brooke, Andrew Puzder, the nominee to be labor secretary face as confirmation hearing this week which could be one of the most difficult nominees for Donald Trump to get confirmed because of skepticism within the Republican ranks. Now, sources are actually telling our colleague John King that four Republican senators have told the Republican leadership they may vote against the pick for labor secretary because of their concerns over a number of his views and some of the controversies in his past.

Those four, senators -- Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia. They are withholding their support right now. I have spoken to all four of the senators in the last several days. All of them are indeed withholding their support. They want to hear what Mr. Puzder has to say at the confirmation hearing. Behind the scenes there has been a pretty intense effort by the Republican leadership to try to lock down support. Mitch McConnell the majority leader views this nomination as incredibly important. He has a longstanding relationship with Andy Puzder and he had actually an emergency meeting with member of the committee in his office last Wednesday night where they discussed a number of these issues.

McConnell I'm told by sources in that meeting made the case very strongly to get behind this nomination saying he would be good for big business and small business and the business groups, broke, coming out very, very hard trying to work behind the scenes to convince those senators to vote yes when it comes time for his confirmation vote. This all raises the stakes for this Thursday, where Puzder will face questions from senators in his first confirmation hearing. He has to do well in order to ensure he has no more than two defections from Republican senators. Any more than two is enough to scuttle the nomination. That could be the first nominee not to get confirmed to Donald Trump's cabinet if he does not win over Republicans. Ensuring he makes all the more important his confirmation hearings this Thursday.

BALDWIN: Manu Raju on capitol hill on the Andrew Puzder nomination.

Next, President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau making women in business their priority in their first face to face meeting. Details on Ivanka Trump's influence there at today's event.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: While President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may not see eye to eye on many issues they have found common ground when it comes to helping empower women in business. They launched a new council to help advance working women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I just want to say, Mr. Prime Minister, that I'm focused and you are focused on the important role women play in our economies. We must work to address the barriers faced by women, and women entrepreneurs, including access to capital, access to markets, and very importantly, access to networks.

BALDWIN: The driving force behind much of this is the first daughter, Ivanka Trump. CNN white house reporter Kate Bennett is with me now. Kate, let's just talk about -- first of all, he talked about it on the campaign trail but this is the President's first foray into women's issues with his daughter with a seat at the table with the head of state. What will her influence look like?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. We have to remember that Ivanka Trump still doesn't have a formal role within the white house. Within the administration. She says she didn't want one. She is in Washington with her kids and getting them settled in school, et cetera. It is a little bit unusual here she is leading this charge with the women's issues, something she talked about this summer at the convention. So, we know it's important to her. But very much putting together this group of women business leaders and CEOs and trying to push the ball forward as she said to level the playing field for this generation and the next one. Ivanka is vital in this.

BALDWIN: Another woman worth pointing out who has a strong role in this administration, Dina Powell. I don't know if many people are familiar with who she is and her position, but tell us more about her.

BENNETT: Dina Powell used to be at Goldman Sachs. She is now with the President. A special assistant, an adviser and a counsellor. She is very involved with Ivanka and close to Ivanka since the beginning of the administration. She is also one of the people inside Trump world at the white house who has previous white house experience. She was in the George W. Bush white house, in the state department. She is very actively involved in this women's issue. Because of her and her influence Ivanka may have even more of a voice with her dad inside the white house.

BALDWIN: That's a good thing. Kate Bennett, thank you.

Now to this, taken from their homes and their workplaces, millions more are bracing for that knock on the door, afraid they will be next. CNN now has new numbers on exactly how many undocumented immigrants have been arrested in recent raids all across the country. So, we have now a total of 680 people were detained across five cities. You see them here on your screen, L.A., San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta and New York. More than 680 people arrested. We are told 75 percent of them were convicted criminals. My next guest is witnessing firsthand the fear taking hold. Mexican immigrant Cesar Vargas was 5 years of age when he himself crawled under a fence and cross over the border from Mexico. He just made history as the first undocumented lawyer in New York. Cesar nice to meet you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CESAR VARGAS, NEW YORK'S FIRST UNDOCUMENTED LAWYER: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: I understand there is a whole notion of fear. I was out in California last week, I spoke to a senator about it. He told me about the children. Which I want to get to. Is there a spike in deportation? Is this on par from the last few years? What are you seeing.

VARGAS: What we do know at this point, the first thing is that this activity does not reflect an increased activity on immigration enforcement.

BALDWIN: It does not.

[15:45:00] VARGAS: Does not. And the second point is that Immigration is accurately saying that these immigration arrests were planned prior, almost several weeks before. And the other important thing is that many of these people ordered deported were issued during the Obama administrations.

BALDWIN: That's an important note. A lot of people are thinking this is President Trump, fear.

VARGAS: Yes.

BALDWIN: But you are right to point that out.

VARGAS: It shows the disconnect between the white house and the department of homeland security. No surprise, just like in any other issues, they are very disconnected between what President Trump is tweeting and what is actually happening on the ground.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the president's tweets. Let me read this. I would love your response. He tweeted on Sunday the crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise, gang members, drug dealers, and others are being removed. Is that a good thing?

VARGAS: This divisive rhetoric is creating a climate of fear in our communities. And just for example myself I'm undocumented even though I'm not going to let fear dictate what I'm going to do, the violent my mom is calling to make sure I'm okay. My mom is also undocumented and I'm calling on her to make sure she's OK. I'm hearing stories, many of my clients are calling because they don't want to walk outside to the store, they fear they will not return. Many children are fearing their parents not come back if they got to store. This is a climate of fear that Donald Trump is creating and it's not what we need from the President.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you about the fear a little bitter mo. When you look at the Obama administration, he deported the greatest number of people than any President in U.S. history. It was more than 2.5 million undocumented immigrants removed from '09 to 2015.

VARGAS: Right.

BALDWIN: What is it, why this sudden fear now?

VARGAS: It's the rhetoric. But also, you are absolutely right, I think the reality is that both parties are at fault for a broken immigration system. The immigration agents, individually they are just enforcing the law but they are enforcing a broken immigration system that is separating families at this point. President Obama did deport more people than any other President. But the reality at this point is to make sure we have people, a community, and we have leaders who are actually coming out to protect immigrants. Governor Cuomo said if there is a move to deport immigrants, let them start with me. Where is he at this point? It looks likes it was an election year and he is more about talk the talk than walk the walk.

BALDWIN: Quickly, you are undocumented, you are undocumented on live national television. Why aren't you fearful?

VARGAS: For me, my mother risked everything to give me a better life and reason I am here is because I am attorney. That's the reason I went to law school, make sure I represent my community, American families. Right now, people are not just fearing that criminals are going to be detained but people are getting detained with no criminal records. Veterans are at risk of being deported. We need assistance that's going to keep us safe. Absolutely. But we cannot use our resources or the power and our taxes to detain and deport a mother who is simply seeking a better opportunity for our family. And this not who we are as a country.

BALDWIN: Some Americans would disagree. I respect your opinion and thank you for being on.

Coming up next, breaking news involving President Trump's travel ban executive order. What the justice department is planning to do next.

Also, ahead, "Saturday Night Live" lampoons white house press secretary Sean Spicer again and takes the President to people's court. We'll discuss how "SNL" can top themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE CAST MEMBER: Mentally though, are you OK?

MELISSA MCCARTHY, SNL CAST MEMBER: Are you kidding me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Just into us here at CNN, a new development in this legal battle over President Trump's travel ban. The department of justice filing a brief today, asking the judge to postpone any further proceedings. CNN's supreme court reporter Ariane de Vogue joins me now. What does this mean?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, today, Judge James Robart asked the government to file a brief on the next steps in the case. You remember Robart officially blocked the travel ban from going forward. Last week, you remember the federal appeals court upheld Robart's order. What Robart said today is, OK, where do we go next, what are we going to do. The government said, look, right now we would like you to postpone anything in the district court, and that's why. The ninth circuit may decide to re-hear this case, and if it does, then it would be premature for us to do anything here at the district court level. So as of right now the government says can we postpone for now at the district court, and when we hear from the ninth circuit court of appeals, we'll come back to you with a status. The government did not mention in its brief any sort of larger steps that Trump might take.

BALDWIN: Okay. Still on hold to delay the case for now. Now this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNL CAST MEMBER: Mentally though, are you OK?

MELISSA MCCARTHY, SNL CAST MEMBER: Are you kidding me? BALDWIN: Melissa McCarthy strikes again returning to "Saturday Night

Live" as the thorn in Sean Spicer's side. She ripped the way he handled questions on President Trump's travel ban and she brought pops.

[15:55:00] MCCARTHY: You've got your TSA agent right here, okay? First you got Barbie coming in. Nice American girl back from a dream vacation. We know she's OK because she's blonde. So, she gets in. Easy, we understand that perfect. Now, who's up next? Uh-oh. It's Moana. Whoa. Whoa. Slow your roll, honey. And then we're going to pat her down and then we're going to read her e-mails and if we don't like the answers, which we won't, boom, Guantanamo Bay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness. Let's do this every Monday, Judy Gold, famed comedian and television writer/producer. Do you like that?

JUDY GOLD, FAMED COMEDIAN AND TELEVISION WRITER/PRODUCER: I like that.

BALDWIN: And Paul Mercurio, Emmy and Peabody award winning comedian. Nice to see you.

PAUL MERCURIO, EMMY AND PEABODY AWARD WINNING COMEDIAN: Nice to see you.

GOLD: He got the Peabody, go ahead.

MERCURIO: It's right here.

BALDWIN: How does "SNL" continue to top itself each and every week?

GOLD: There's so much material, and these characters are so rich. I mean, they are full of personality. And to just break it down like they did with the Barbies, that's essentially what you're saying. You can mask it any way you want, but it's so funny.

MERCURIO: That sketch was great because it was layered. It wasn't just about Spicer being aggressive. Within it they get to the substance of their policies. I thought the best sketch that they've done maybe ever was the fatal attraction, Kellyanne Conway thing. This is why, because it speaks to the thing that scares me most about this administration, it's like right to your face blatant falsehoods and lies. I understand politicians lie but these --

BALDWIN: There she is. channeling her inner Glenn Close from "fatal attraction".

MERCURIO: I thought this was a necessary sketch.

BALDWIN: With Jake Tapper.

GOLD: It's also that she dies.

BALDWIN: Let's listen for a second. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNL CAST MEMBER PLAYING CNN'S JAKE TAPPER: Kellyanne, what the hell are you doing here?

KATE, MCKINNON, SNL CAST MEMBER PLAYING KELLYANNE CONWAY: I just want to be a part of the news, Jake.

SNL CAST MEMBER PLAYING CNN'S JAKE TAPPER: This is how you do it? By breaking into my apartment.

MCKINNON: What was I supposed to do? You weren't answering my calls. You changed your number. I'm not going to be ignored, Jake.

SNL CAST MEMBER PLAYING CNN'S JAKE TAPPER: You don't get it, Kellyanne, you made up a massacre, we can't have you on.

MCKINNON: But I miss the news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Quickly, Kellyanne has responded. Let's put up the tweet so everyone can see. In the end of the sketch she falls out the window. Here she goes, inquiring minds re: #SNL, Jake Tapper and I spoke this morning before brunch time. No boiling bunnies.

MERCURIO: But his wasn't far off from the truth in the sense of like you get --

BALDWIN: You mean she's breaking into Jake Tapper's house?

MERCURIO: Maybe she's at least screening a CNN interview and putting it on YouTube. It's like right in your face.

GOLD: They are so over the top in real life. I mean, this Bowling Green massacre and this constant -- just give it up and say, you know what, I screwed up. But they don't and that gives us more.

BALDWIN: I'm wondering though how people use comedy, if on some level comedy is used to actually affect real life politics. I was reading this piece. Let me read a piece of his op-ed. Obviously "SNL" can't undermine the creditability of an administration but it can play a key role at a time when polls show most Americans distrust the mainstream media. It may take "SNL" to be the voice of reason.

GOLD: Comedy is disarming and you can speak about any subversive topic through humor. Humor really makes things palatable. Once you laugh about it and say, you know what -- you can really show the substance.

MERCURIO: By the way, I don't think the goal here -- and I know Dean is a great writer. I don't think the goal is to undermine this administration. The goal is to hold a mirror up to what they're saying and go, does this seem right to you. You notice Trump in the past week has not tweeted about any of this. I think 11:00 on a Saturday night they're hiding his phone. They're putting it under stuff that he doesn't read like security briefings or something. Or maybe they gave him a phone filled with candy and he thinks he's tweeting. I think they know if they react there's going to be pushback.

GOLD: The greatest part is they all know he's watching and that's one of the greatest things about it.

BALDWIN: One thing we noted last week and I wanted to point it out, these women playing -- Kate McKinnon playing Senator Jeff Sessions or now the AG Jeff Sessions. Melissa McCarthy playing Sean Spicer. I was sitting down with the legendary Carl and Rob Reiner last week In L.A. and they had this idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB REINER, COMEDIAN: I love the fact that Trump was upset that Sean was being played by a woman. So now I'm hearing they're trying to get Rosie O'Donnell to play Steve Bannon. I'd love to see a woman play Trump, Meryl Streep or whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Meryl Streep. They were like let's give Alec Saturday night off and bring Meryl in.

GOLD: She did it this past summer. I think that's hilarious. I think Leslie Jones wanting to play him, that is -- Leslie Jones on "SNL" wants to play inter-Trump. I want to play Jared Kushner because I would have no lines.

BALDWIN: They hear him get upset that Sean Spicer was played by a woman so it's sort of like a game of I'm not touching you with Trump. The more he says stop it, the more they're going to do it. They were like, okay, what woman can play who? Oh, I can play Jeff Sessions. It's so beautiful. The highest rated "SNL" in 22 years.