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McConnell Blames "Left-Wing Agitators" For Cabinet Delays; House Democrats Demand Briefing On Flynn, Russia; Officials: FBI Will Not Pursue Charges Against Flynn; Harward Declines NSA Offer; Trump To Speak At Boeing Plant In S. Carolina; Trump Visits Boeing After Failed Union Vote; Trump Goes Campaign Style In Southern Trip; Venezuela Kicks CNN En Espanol Off The Air After Report; Passports In The Shadows" Report Aired Last Week; CNN and CNN En Espanol Stand By The Year-Long Investigation; Venezuela's President Has Been Limiting Media Since 2013; Trump To Tour SC Boeing Plant, Talk Jobs; Aired 11:30a- Noon ET

Aired February 17, 2017 - 11:30   ET


SEN. GARY PETERS, D-MICHIGAN: -- vetting process. This is why we wish with Mr. Pruitt we could take a look at e-mails that are going to be coming out next week. But Mr. McConnell wants to jam it through today because he doesn't want to see those e-mails. I think they're very fearful of what's going to be in those e-mails, which is why they're jamming it through here today instead of waiting for us to have an opportunity to fully vet. I think --

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: If there's some -- if there's something in those e-mails even when they do come out, you know, the American people will want to hear about it if there's something to see. Let's talk about the other big issue that kind of led to -- let's talk about Michael Flynn in the latest that we've heard and, you know, especially with your committee assignments, law enforcement sources are now telling CNN that Michael Flynn changed his story in his interview with the FBI but they also say they're not going -- not likely to pursue charges against Michael Flynn. Your reaction?

PETERS: That's why we have to get more details from Flynn. I would like to know exactly the conversations that occurred with the ambassador, what was said with the FBI, if he misled or lied to the FBI, obviously that is a criminal charge, that could still come about. We need to have more transparency. But it's more than just about Mr. Flynn. This is a -- this is a long trail of smoke related to Russian involvement from the known involvement that they've had in the election to the stories about the campaign officials speaking regularly with the Russians.

Now Mr. Flynn talking about dealing with pulling back sanctions that were put in place because of their involvement in this election. There -- and then at the same time this is happening, you've got a Russian spy ship off the coast. You've got the deployment, illegally, of nuclear intermediate weapons in Europe. You've got crazy fly-bys of U.S. naval war vessels. Where is the commander-in-chief?

Why is he not speaking out against the Russians? Is he weak? He needs to show some strength. The only thing the Russians understand is strength and right now we're seeing a weak commander-in-chief. Donald Trump needs to step up. And is there a reason for this? Perhaps the smoke that we're seeing is the reason why he is not being strong.

BOLDUAN: And so when Donald Trump spoke out about that he's call all of those provocative actions are not good yesterday, that was basically his respond. That's not showing -- that's not showing strength that you're -- that's not satisfactory to you?

PETERS: No, not at all. I mean, you've got to be very forceful in showing the United States will not stand for this. You certainly should not. We should never be allowing the deployment of nuclear weapons and violation of a treaty that was signed back when Ronald Reagan was the president. It's been a part about keeping peace in the Europe, keeping peace in the world. And if you allow the rockets --

BOLDUAN: But what is the strong response? What is the strong response, senator? Because Donald Trump maybe in his own nontraditional way he said yesterday, "The greatest thing that everyone would want me to do is to shoot that ship right out of the water but I'm not going to do that."

PETERS: Well, obviously that's not the answer that the American people want at this time. But we do want to see a response, whether it's more sanctions, whether it's other actions that we take. You know --


PETERS: -- the president is supposed to be our commander-in-chief, he is supposed to be the leader of foreign policy. It's time for him to demonstrate that. In fact, it's past time for him to do that.

BOLDUAN: So senator, the president is now searching once again for a national security adviser. He tweeted this morning that the temporary adviser in place, right now the acting adviser, General Keith Kellogg, is being considered for the full-time job along with others. Would you support that?

PETERS: I will have to take a look at that and see what the others are. We're going to have to go through the process. You know, I haven't been privy to detailed information about his background. So let's --

BOLDUAN: What about --

PETERS: Let's see how this unfolds.

BOLDUAN: What about David Petraeus, that's a background that most everyone is familiar with and he's been talked about as being up for the job as well.

PETERS: You know, certainly he's potential candidate, he certainly has tremendous knowledge about world affairs and he has knowledge about the military. I've had a chance to meet with him. I certainly have been impressed with his knowledge. But of course he has other issues as well that have to be considered.

BOLDUAN: We call that baggage, senator. That is the truth.


BOLDUAN: Thank you, senator --


BOLDUAN: -- for coming on, really appreciate it.

PETERS: Great, thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up for us, President Trump talking jobs today in South Carolina at a Boeing plant. We're going to bring you that live, lots of live moments coming up in the show. Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: You're looking right now at live pictures from North Charleston, South Carolina, where President Trump will be speaking at a Boeing plant, next hour. We're going to bring that to you as soon as all of these live moments happen. Let's talk about all of this right now with my live panel today, Errol Louis is here is a CNN Political Commentator and Political Anchor for Spectrum News.

Mary Katharine Ham is here, CNN Political Commentator and senior writer for "The Federalist." Stephen Moore is back, CNN senior Economics Analyst and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Symone Sanders is joining us, CNN Political Commentator and former Press Secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign. With that, we only have one minute left for the discussion.


BOLDUAN: OK. So first to you -- OK. So Errol, he's going to be arriving, he's going to be talking in South Carolina within really -- you know, he'll be arriving in South Carolina within the next hour. He's going to be talking, he's going to be making remarks. What do you -- what do you make of this trip, what is this trip about, do you think?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As far as I can tell, it's about a couple of things. One is getting the president's morale back up. He's had a lot of bad news, he's had a lot of confusion, he's had this whole Mike Flynn fiasco. What energizes him and you can visibly see it is to get around his surrounders and have them chant and call his name, take him back to the success of the campaign and sort of reconnect with his base. Any politician would at least be inclined to do that.


LOUIS: He's doing that. And then there's promises made, promises kept. Even if you don't work at a Boeing factory, if you work at a tool and die plant somewhere in the Midwest, it kind of looks like your place, it reminds you of the promises that he made --


LOUIS: -- on manufacturing, on trade deals, on boosting the economy and on unemployment. So it's a way to talk to a much broader segment at the same time he's dealing with this one plant.

BOLDUAN: And Stephen, at the very same time, this visit comes just after Boeing employees voted against organizing, voted against forming a union there. I never say there really is ever a coincidence when it comes in politics. What do you say?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: You know, and by the way, I've been to that Boeing plant, it's in Charleston, it's one of the biggest plants you'll see in the United States. It was moved out of -- it was -- remember, it was going to be in Washington, moved to South Carolina --

BOLDUAN: That's right.

MOORE: -- in large part because South Carolina is a right to work state. Every state should become a right to work, allow people to have the right to join a union or not. But I just want to address this point that has become kind of the media narrative of last week and you just sort of repeat it, oh, this is such a terrible week for Donald Trump. And yes, he did have two resignations of high level officials.

It's not something most Americans care a lot about. I'll tell what you they do care about is exactly what Donald Trump is going to talk about, the economy and jobs. And you look at the front page, "Wall Street Journal" story yesterday about how the economy is starting to really pick up. You had a huge increase in factory orders in January. You have all-time high in terms of consumers' confidence, consumers' spending was up.

The stock market is up. So I think, you know, a lot of people in Washington and New York are living in some kind of weird bubble where they think all of these little sideline stories are important, whereas this hasn't been a bad week for Trump, I think it's been a good one, because what matters most is jobs and the economy, and on that he's doing a pretty good job, and the coal decision yesterday, rolling back those regulations, putting coal miners back in jobs, that should have been the headline yesterday. And nobody paying any attention to it.

BOLDUAN: Stephen, you just threw out a whole bunch of things that I -- we could have some comments. Symone Sanders you'll get to way next. But still, Stephen Moore, do you think if everything is great right now with the economy, why then Donald Trump so down in the dumps? I mean, the number of times he said, "I inherited a mess yesterday."

MOORE: Well, he did. He did inherit that.

BOLDUAN: Right. But and he's turned it -- he's turned it around --


BOLDUAN: -- in 27 days?

MOORE: What I was saying is the economy is starting to show signs of real -- show signs of real pickup with the stock market, with factory orders, with consumer confidence. There seems to be a new bounce in the step in the economy. And it's funny, it started on November 8th.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness.

BOLDUAN: Oh, it is a bounce in Stephen Moore's step at least. Symone Sanders, I think you probably have something to say about the unionizing and anything? Go ahead.

SANDERS: Well, first of all, right to work is a farce that pretends that it has the best interests of workers in mind but it doesn't, so that's first and foremost. But secondly, Donald Trump did not inherit a mess. Barack Obama inherited a mess from President Bush. And he turned the economy around. The economy was in a ditch and Barack Obama pulled it out of the ditch, shined it up, put us back on the road and took us to another level.

Donald Trump is riding the wave of the success of President Obama. He has done nothing to contribute to the success of the economy right now. And I understand Errol's point about Donald Trump going out there and continuing with this rhetoric on the campaign trail. But the folks elected him because they want to see results. I have been out there, outside of D.C. and New York, in the -- in the states, talking with real people, quote unquote, and real people want to see results from Donald Trump.

They want him to keep his promises on Medicare, Medicaid. They want him to keep his promises on making the economy better. And I'm just not really sure how speeches and more rhetoric really goes to attacking the heart of the issue. But let's not pretend like Donald Trump has done anything to contribute to the success of the economy right now.

BOLDUAN: Speeches, that is one thing that presidents do, though, Symone, you know that, and they do it well. Mary Katharine, after yesterday, what do you expect to hear today from President Trump? Who's his audience?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me tell you first off, he definitely inherited the inherited mess talking point from Obama, and we can hope he doesn't use it for four to eight years as Obama. I just got real meta on you. So I think -- I think what we'll hear is a little bit more about making these sort of one-off deals with something like Carrier and Ford, and sort of keeping these jobs in the country, you'll probably hear some riffing and some entertainment as you did yesterday in the press conference.

And I think there is a danger of people in the Beltway and in New York sort of thinking that something like the press conference was a disaster to him and that that really matters to American voters and underestimating how much something like those Carrier jobs does matter to American voters. And I think -- I think we maybe get it flipped sometimes on what matters to regular folks. That being --


HAM: -- said, all of the fury, the sound and fury means they're not actually moving on that much policy. And so if it's 90 percent palace intrigue and entertainment and 10 percent policy, you may not get the results you want.

BOLDUAN: Stephen Moore, you have a friend in Mary Katherine Ham. Stephen Moore, take your economist hat partially off and analyze this for me if you will. We heard something really interesting from Mitch McConnell just now and he said he might not like everything that President Trump says or tweets about, but from the republican conservative position, they like what he's doing.

And I think you're kind of getting to that point. But he put it in a very interesting way. He said essentially when you look at what would be a President Romney, or President Rubio, or President Jeb Bush, he doesn't -- he says, "I can't see much of a difference from what Trump is doing that those men would be doing if they were president."

MOORE: Look, I think that's largely true, but not entirely true. It's certainly true when it comes to rolling back regulations. It's certainly true with respect to his tax cut, which I think is the heart of his plan, he's got to get that business tax cut done and quickly. But he's taken a different kind of position on issues like trade and immigration. By the way, I don't agree with everything Donald Trump says and -- or all of his positions.

But this is one of the reasons he was able to crack through and win those industrial states with a very different kind of message than republicans usually -- you know, usually tout. And by the way, just one thing on the economy, I mean, my goodness.


MOORE: If the economy is so good, I mean, I'm just listening to what Bernie Sanders was saying during the campaign, he trashed the Obama economy. So it's just not me saying. There's a lot of democrats in the campaign.

SANDERS: Bernie didn't trash the Obama economy. What senator Sanders did say, though, is that, again, President Obama inherited a mess from --

MOORE: He did. No doubt.

SANDERS: -- President Bush and he had to clean it up. Definitely there is more work to do and we can go further, but to insinuate that this is a success of Donald Trump is just crazy.

BOLDUAN: Errol --

MOORE: Well, why is the stock market up so much?

BOLDUAN: Errol gets to -- MOORE: Why did the stock market rise --

BOLDUAN: Errol gets to --

MOORE: -- since the election?

BOLDUAN: Errol gets to inherit the mess and clean it up.


BOLDUAN: There you go.

LOUIS: What?

BOLDUAN: There you go. Final thought. What do you think?

LOUIS: Well, let me just say with all respect, I understand everybody knows the economy is important, but when the national security adviser resigns under a cloud, appears to have lied to the vice president of the United States, is in discussions with the FBI that could lead to perjury charges, that's important whether or not the general public thinks it's important. And so it needs to be reported on even if --

MOORE: Good point.

LOUIS: -- some insiders think that they rather talk about something else. I think we're going to see, though, this White House try and get on its feet. And the point is well-taken, as far as the republican leadership on Capitol Hill is concerned, if they get their judicial appointments, if they get their rollback on regulations, if they get their comprehensive tax reform, almost everything else that goes on, unfortunately including some (inaudible) of national security is of simply -- of secondary importance apparently.

BOLDUAN: Guys, it's great to have you here. Thank you so much. Let's do this again.

MOORE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up for us, any moment now, President Trump will be touring touching down in South Carolina, he's going to be touring at Boeing plant. He will be making a remark. We'll bring you that live. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: CNN ripped off the air. Major censorship battle is underway right now between this network and the government of Venezuela. CNN en Espanol was pulled from the nation's airwave Wednesday following a year-long investigative report entitled "Passport in the Shadows." It revealed Venezuelan authorities may have issued passports and visas to people with ties to terrorism. CNN's Paula Newton is joining me now and touch much more on this. What is going on here, Paula?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this all started with a -- an investigation that lasted more than a year by Drew Griffin, Rafael Romo and the team and as you just explained. BOLDUAN: Yes.

NEWTON: They have evidence, saying that look these visas, these passports were given out perhaps even to terrorists in Iraq. Having said that, even when I went in to Venezuela in the last year, we would ask the foreign minister, we would ask anybody in the government, please we want to talk to you about these allegations. The investigative team was meticulous in terms of trying to get their reaction.

Now, this is their reaction once they see the report. And Delcy Rodriguez who was the foreign minister followed up on what President Maduro said on the weekend, "We want CNN out, off the air." And that's what they did. And just a statement and reply --

BOLDUAN: Yes, of course.

NEWTON: -- from CNN. CNN en Espanol are saying that we stand by our network's reporting and our commitment to truth and transparency. CNN en Espanol will continue to fulfill its responsibility to the Venezuelan public by offering our live signal on YouTube free of charge." And Kate, I know you've seen it, I've seen it, everyone seen it. People are online.


NEWTON: On their phones watching CNN en Espanol. And, you know, the saturation level for phones there and for internet is quite high. So people are still getting the news. What's really interesting here is for years that I'm going (inaudible) Venezuela, there was a lot of hostility towards CNN. The Chavez regime before this regime really try to (inaudible) us against the law of the governmentation, they're saying that we weren't telling the truth.

It's all changed now, Kate for the last year and a half. We have people when we were in Venezuela coming up to us, they want their stories out there and they do not trust, let's say broadcasters to get their story on the air. Which is why it's important for people to continue to login the CNN en Espanol, also to get a good look at what's going on in the region because --


NEWTON: -- so much of it goes on that region is affecting them especially as they're still struggling to get the basics in food and the basics in medicine.

BOLDUAN: And I think the obvious response it's never the smart move to be ripping an independent news organization off the air in the end. I mean, when would --

NEWTON: It is.

BOLDUAN: -- this has reached critical mess when the government has to react?

NEWTON: It's been a long-setting policy. They have been taking down independent --


NEWTON: -- in their possession, radio stations, newspapers, TV for quite a while.

BOLDUAN: All right. We're going to stay on it. Thank you so much. Of course as Paula was laying out, you can still get that. You can still get CNN en Espanol on streaming online. Thank you, Paula. All right, we're going to continue our cover. But any minute now, President Trump will be heading right there. He's going to be touching down in South Carolina where he will be visiting at Boeing plant making remarks, taking a tour and who knows what else? We'll find out because we're going to watch it live. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. A double dose of At This Hour today. You're very welcome. We are watching live pictures right now of North Charleston, South Carolina where any moment President Trump is expected to arrive for a visit to the Boeing plant there. He will be meeting with Boeing's top press before taking a tour as they unveil the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft and we also expect to hear from the president himself.

We will take you there live as it gets underway. This is just one day, of course, after his marathon press conference at the White House and which president defended his administration calling it finely tuned -- a fine tuned machine. He also took aim at many from members of the press to the -- to intelligence leakers, judges and even Hillary Clinton. CNN's (inaudible) and Jason Carroll are live in North Charleston covering today's big event.

Jason, first you, what are we expecting to hear from the president today? It sounds like he's about to arrive.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's running about 15 minutes behind, Kate. This will be the first time that sitting president has visit -- visited the Boeing plant. Once he gets here, quick little (inaudible) after his arrival, he'll be meeting with the CEO of Boeing, that's expected to take place at about 12:30, shortly thereafter he's going to have a tour of the facility, he's also going to be making some brief remarks, that's expected to be at about 1:05 that's now going to push back perhaps to about 1:30 or so.

After that, he will get a tour, another tour again of the -- of the Dreamliner, the 787-10 Dreamliner. And it is going to depart. He's going to be departing back for West Palm Beach. This is going to be third time he's going to be heading down to Mar-a-Lago as president. And on Saturday what he's going to be doing is taking another victory lap if you will, holding another one of those rallies that's going to be in Melbourne, Florida, that's going to be 5:00 on Saturday.

I've spoken to a few folks here in this audience, thousands of packs of this facility. They are --