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Report: Trump Names McMaster As National Security Adviser; UK Debates Downgrading Trump Invite; U.S. Lawmakers Tours U.S.-Mexico Border. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired February 20, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Also of note, General Keith Kellogg remains the national security council chief of staff. President making the announcement at Mar-a-Lago. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon joins me live with explaining exactly who this three-star lieutenant general is, and his experience, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Hi, Brooke. Oddly enough, General McMaster is in an army job, a very senior job, I grant you but he is involved in army training and doctrine. Something very sort of inside the weeds. But he is a veteran of multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has worked for the U.S. central command. He knows that region of the world very well in the years that he rose to become the three-star general that he currently is. This is his expertise, this part of the world. He's going to have to deal with some other areas. He has also served in Germany. He knows Europe. Not a lot of experience as much perhaps in the Pacific.
He will be dealing of course with the challenge of North Korea, of China, of the Pacific Rim economic issues as they affect national security. General McMaster is very well respected inside the military. And I think what he will bring to the table is a very plain spoken attitude as I think you and I were chatting a few minutes ago. This is a guy that doesn't suffer fools. He is going the say what he thinks. A lot of people tell you that has raised eyebrows in the military before when he has done that. No reason to think he's going to change the way he operates. But he can bring some of that management expertise, if you will, process, procedure, the things that will calm the process, get the NSC after a month up and fully running, get things moving so that when there is a crisis they can respond, when there are things that involve options that must go to the President, get those moving. It is a bit of a traffic manager job in a sense. Now, under President Obama, Susan Rice was a policy maker, if you will. I think many people would agree with that. But McMaster will see, does he become a policy person.
STARR: Does he bring that management expertise? Because, remember, one of the President's closest advisers, Steve Bannon --
BALDWIN: Has a seat at the table.
STARR: Outspoken. Ideological. Has a permanent seat at the table. A three-star general who had no option but to say yes to the job, will he speak up against Steve Bannon?
BALDWIN: Excellent question. Thank you, Barbara.
Coming up next, President Trump doubling down today on comments that immigration has caused major problems in Sweden. The former Swedish prime minister called him out on twitter. We'll talk to him live next.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: President Trump today not backing down from his claims about violence tied to immigrants in Sweden. President tweeting this this morning, quote, give the public a break, the fake news media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. Not. Within an hour, Sweden's former prime minister Carl Bildt responded quote, "a piece of friendly advice when you are in a hole stop digging." This is all over comments that the President spoke this weekend at a rally in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They are having problems like they never thought possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Sweden's former Prime Minister Carl Bildt joins me now from Stockholm. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining me.
CARL BILDT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, SWEDEN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: The hole, and stop digging and then it was the tweet really seen round the world from you, Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound? I'm curious about the response you have gotten from those words.
BILDT: Of course, when the President of the United States -- I was in Germany when it happened. When the President of the United States says there is something horrible happening in your country you get alarmed. I have to find out. I found out absolutely nothing, Friday and Friday evening was a peaceful evening in one of the most peaceful places on earth. He was clearly, completely fake news, to use that particular phrase. And then I felt the need to say -- I got an overwhelming response from all over the world. And then he has been trying to dig himself out of the particular hole, I think he is instead digging himself deeper into the hole, which is not very wise.
[15:10:00] BALDWIN: In certain places, not saying this is Sweden, there can be truth to when you have an open arms immigration policy that could lead to an increase in crime. It is controversial. I want to ask you, in your experience, sir, with refugees, what was that experience like? Letting them in.
BILDT: Well, to go back, I was prime minister when we had the -- and we took one year we took 100,000 refugees from Bosnia, most of them Muslim. That was controversial at the time. I'm concern we did have some problem then. Today if we look at them, they are as well integrated into Sweden as everyone else of they have made slightly better integration. They are contributing to our society. That was controversial at the time. I'm concern we did have some problem then. Today if we look at them, they are as well integrated into Sweden as everyone else of they have made slightly better integration. They are contributing to our society. I don't think you can find anyone in Sweden who would see them as a problem. Now we had a big wave coming in in in 2015. Sweden is not paradise and not heaven but ng we are coping well with it and I think it was strengthen our society at the end of the day.
BALDWIN: Talking to the crew on the ground in Stockholm a lot of swedes are joking about this, making jokes about Swedish meat balls and created the hashtag last night in Sweden. But the government is being more serious. With all these tweets, is twitter the place to deal with this? Does it add fuel to the fire?
BILDT: It could be the President of the United States slandering the government of the country. That is not a good thing. What I find worrying of course is now that it was something about Sweden. We are a friendly country. But that tense situation around the world where the words of the President of the United States carry weight. And normally we have assumed that when the President of the United States says something he is extremely well informed. If there are outbursts of misinformation coming were the President of the United States about tense global situations that could have more grave consequences than Sweden, finding it ridiculous.
BALDWIN: Certainly, which is a different conversation we have been having about misinformation and getting information from something he was watching on another cable news network. Prime minister built, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
Coming up next, thousands in the streets in London as part gets over the fiery debate over whether the British prime minister and the queen should welcome President Trump for a state visit this year period.
The establishment, the bubble, whether in Westminster, whether in Brussels, whether in Washington woke up to the reality that people want to see and hear their government, their elected representatives, representing them.
In London, protesters outside parliament today as lawmakers, as MPs are debating President Trump's invitation to visit. Members say tampering with the President's visit would be a crucial mistake. Others echoing the sentiments of nearly 2 million people who signed the petition to retract the invitation.
[15:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN OSWALD, BRITISH MP: And let's not kid ourselves. This UK government with its ever-reducing plans to help child refugees has knowingly and deliberately curried into the Islam-ophobic, misogynistic dangerously confused if events in Sweden are anything to go by leader of the free world.
NIGEL EVANS, BRITISH MP: I do respect the fact that he stood on a platform which he is now delivering. He is going to go down in history for being wrongly condemned as being the only politician to deliver on his promises. What really matters to the future of Europe is that the transatlantic alliance should continue and should prosper. And there is every prospect of that happening provided that we reach out to this inexperienced individual.
RUSHNARA ALI, BRITISH MP: Given President Trump's remarks about torture, his misogynistic stance against women as well as Muslims, that associated with him in the form of a state visit does huge amounts of damage to the queen and our monarchy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Richard Quest, explain to me -- when we say state visit, this is like morning dress, red carpet, carriages.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: The whole thing, carriages up the mall. Sitting next to the queen. Full state banquet, hundreds of people.
BALDWIN: Whole deal.
QUEST: Bring out the gold plates. The whole works. And a return banquet that the President would then give to her majesty, it kind of course who pays when you have a state visit, a full state visit, the host country, which would be the UK, would pay. This is about -- the statement just came out from the British government. Forgive me reading it. This is an increasingly unstable world the government says. The United Kingdom and the United States have worked together side by side especially with the world as it is today. That is why a state matters so much. Put simply, diplomacy matters. What the British government is doing is currying favor here. They say Obama had one, Bush had one.
BALDWIN: Way into the presidency.
[15:20:00] QUEST: No, in the first term.
BALDWIN: We are talking about the first year with this President.
QUEST: Yes, but Theresa May wants something very badly.
BALDWIN: What does she want?
QUEST: A free trade deal or at least the opening of negotiations for a post Brexit free trade deal. Mayor in mind she is going to start the negotiations in march. She has two years, to 2019. She wants to have it, by the end of those negotiations a United States free trade deal in the back pocket at least the promise of it.
BALDWIN: If you have MPs deciding whether it is a state visit, who decides.
QUEST: Hot air. This is all you need to know. BALDWIN: It is a show.
QUEST: It is a show. Gives them a chance to bloviate and make a lot of noise over it. They have no power. The only question about power is from the speaker of the house, John Bercow who is opposed the President making an address to parliament in parliament, in Westminster. They are against that. That's still to be negotiated and finessed but a state visit, it is the government that decides. The MPs are making hot air. It is going to happened.
BALDWIN: What do you imagine, whatever sort of visit it is, the rolling out of the red carpet or not, it must be a combination of protests and --
QUEST: It is going to be a bun fight.
BALDWIN: A what?
QUEST: You know, throwing buns and cakes and things.
BALDWIN: A bun fight.
QUEST: It is going to be an absolute show. You are going to have them going down the mall, you are going to have protesters on one side, supporters on the other, they will lock down Heathrow Airport. When Theresa May offered the invitation on behalf of the queen, she didn't know the same day or at least we don't think she knew the travel ban would come in that it would all foment quite so quickly.
QUEST: She has got to stick this out. From her point of view, she needs Donald Trump, and he gets perhaps even a golf game on one of the queen's golf courses.
BALDWIN: Can I come to London with you when you cover this?
QUEST: As soon as I saw the announcement I said do I book the ticket now or next week? We are all going to be there, this is going to be a bun fight.
BALDWIN: Right now, U.S. lawmakers are finishing up their tour of the Mexican border getting a firsthand look at security, what it might cost and take to build the President's big wall. We'll be right back.
[15:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: North Korea accusing South Korea of politicizing the murder Of Kim Jong Ung's estranged half-brother. This explosive charge coming after this release of surveillance footage here, it appears to show his half-brother being poisoned. A woman grabs his face from behind and you see her walk away. Four suspects are now in custody, four others are still being looked for. They reportedly fled the country the day of that attack.
U.S. senators and congressmen wrapping up a tour led by Senator John Cornyn. Let's go Manu Raju our senior Congressional reporter. Who called this tour, who is there and why are they there?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: This is being led by John Cornyn of Texas, who is a very influential figure in the debate, the number two senator representing a major Hispanic population along the border with Mexico. He's expected to stress the U.S. relationship with Mexico, how important it is. And also, address the complexity in securing the southern border. Expect this to be a lot more nuance than the discussion at a Trump rally over the building the wall on the border with Mexico. Now, Cornyn has told me that he is concerned about this wall, he said last month, I don't think we are going to be able to build -- to solve border security with a physical barrier, because people can come under it, around it and through it. He said there are other ways to go about border security than just having a wall. He also suggested he does not want to add to the deficit by paying for a wall without spending cuts and that wall could cost upwards of $20 billion. Touring with Cornyn are other members, including Dean Heller of Nevada. A state that Trump lost, has a big Hispanic voting population and his vote will be critical as well. All of it points to the challenges ahead of Trump to get a border funding package through Congress.
BALDWIN: Separate from this tour, there is another tour later this week, House Speaker Paul Ryan will also be touring the border, but he's keeping it quiet on the details. What will he be doing and why is that?
RAJU: That's right. It's a question I asked directly to the speaker's office why has it been so secretive, I didn't really get a response to that. Ryan has had a lot more moderate views on immigration. Since the election, Ryan has aligned himself with Trump's border wall. He says that Ryan wants to push the package through Congress, but there is significant concerns from conservatives who want to cut spending to pay for the wall, and the Trump team and Ryan have both signaled that this would be labeled emergency spending and would essentially add to the deficit. And Ryan has said little about the price tag because he's waiting for the administration to submit its proposal to Congress. Perhaps that is why the speaker would rather avoid answering some of these questions.
BALDWIN: While I have you on the issue of Obamacare, 20 million people in this country covered by this. This is something the President just over the weekend said we are going to have it revamped draft of this in just a couple of weeks. I don't know if Republicans are entirely on the same page. This is something that has come up in a lot of these town halls. These members are on recess this week. And a lot of concerns on Obama care from the left and the right coming up.
RAJU: And the question is going to be coming can, can the Republicans get their own party on the same page on the repeal strategy and the replacement strategy. They are not on the same page, particularly some of the conservatives wanting to go as far as they did in passing the repeal bill that was vetoed by bam in 2014. Some of them want to have the replacement plan in effect first. They have to figure out the details first. That is where the trickiest parts remain. BALDWIN: You will be covering the whole thing we know. Thank you so
much. A quick shot of air force one there it is, leaving after naming the next national security advisor down in West Palm Beach.