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Trump Names New National Security Advisor; Trump's Deadline for Plan to Defeat ISIS Looming; Trump Preparing New Travel Ban, More Deportations. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired February 20, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- toxicology and pathology tests to complete the autopsy -- Jim.
[17:00:06] SCIUTTO: Saima Mohsen, thank you. That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Filling the void. President Trump names General H.R. McMaster his new national security advisor, replacing Michael Flynn, forced to resign after just three weeks on the job. McMaster is known for speaking his mind, just like the president. How will they confront the threats facing the United States?
Looming deadline. The plan to defeat ISIS ordered by President Trump is almost due. The defense secretary in Iraq right now, getting a first-hand look at the fight against the terrorists. Will his plan call for more U.S. forces on the ground?
Immigration crackdown. A new executive order is expected at any time, and the White House is making sure this one will withstand legal challenges. And CNN has learned aggressive new guidelines for implementing the president's policy are now in the works. What will they mean for millions of immigrants already in the United States?
And murder surveillance. Newly-released video apparently showing the killing of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's half-brother. A woman grabs him from behind. There's a brief struggle, and minutes later, he's dead. Was he poisoned?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. President Trump has just named a new national security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. He made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida just before leaving to return to Washington.
McMaster was not the president's first choice. Sources tell CNN he initially offered the position to a retired vice admiral who turned it down over concerns about how the White House is being run.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary James Mattis is in Iraq, trying to clarify President Trump's past remarks about taking the country's oil. Mattis is also working on a plan to step up the fight against ISIS, which the president has requested by the end of the month.
And as we await a new executive order on travel from the president, CNN has obtained draft memos from the Department of Homeland Security, outlining some aggressive new guidelines for carrying out the president's immigration policies. They would tighten current immigration laws pertaining to asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and people awaiting immigration proceedings.
We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Ruben Gallego of the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by.
Let's begin with the breaking news. CNN's Sara Murray is over at the White House, with details of the president's new national security advisor.
Sara, General McMaster replaces the fired General Michael Flynn.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and there were plenty of concerns about Michael Flynn at the get-go, but McMaster seems to be getting a rosier reception. A number of Republicans on the Hill have already come out with statements or on Twitter, praising this pick, one that Donald Trump scurried to make before leaving his resort in Mar-a-Lago and heading back to the White House.
MURRAY: Just before leaving Florida, President Trump unveiling a new national security advisor today after a weekend of deliberations at Mar-a-Lago.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've been working all weekend very diligently, very hard. That General H.R. McMaster will become the national security advisor. He's a man of tremendous talent, and tremendous experience.
LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation.
MURRAY: Trump's pick, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, is a decorated soldier and military strategist. Trump delivering the news as he sat wedged between McMaster and Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg in a living room at his Florida club. Kellogg will stay on as chief of staff at the National Security Council.
TRUMP: This is a great team. We're very, very honored.
MURRAY: Trump's pick coming as Vice President Mike Pence is publicly admitting for the first time that Michael Flynn's behavior was a let- down to the administration.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was disappointed to learn that the facts that had been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor General Flynn's long service to the United States of America, and I fully support the president's decision to ask for his resignation.
MURRAY: Flynn was dismissed after misleading Pence about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador, leaving the president scrambling to fill the slot.
Trump, frustrated by tales of turmoil in the White House, took to the campaign trail this weekend after just a month in office to defend his new administration.
TRUMP: You've seen what we have accomplished in a very short period of time. The White House is running so smoothly. So smoothly.
[17:05:09] MURRAY: But the White House is still facing scrutiny for its Russia connections. The Senate Intelligence Committee is asking more than a dozen agencies, organizations, and individuals to preserve communications pertaining to the panel's investigation of Russia meddling in the 2016 election.
A top Trump aid dismissed the investigation this weekend.
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: And as long as they do their job, and we -- and we cooperate with them, they'll issue a report; and the report will say there's nothing there.
MURRAY: Amid the busy weekend, Trump also served up more criticism of the media.
TRUMP: We are not going to let the fake news tell us what to do, how to live or what to believe.
MURRAY: And he invoked a puzzling security concern.
TRUMP: You look at what's happening last night in Sweden, Sweden -- who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers; they're having problems like they never thought possible.
MURRAY: But nothing particularly noteworthy happened in Sweden over the weekend. Trump later said via Twitter his comments came after watching a FOX News segment related to Sweden's immigration policies.
The Swedish embassy offered their own response, tweeting, "We look forward to informing the U.S. administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies."
MURRAY: Now, Wolf, there was another telling moment today as Donald Trump announced his new national security advisor. There is all this concern about what the last national security advisor failed to tell Mike Pence. The president was asked whether his V.P. played a role in his current pick of McMaster. President Trump said he did.
Back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Sara, thank you. Sara Murray over at the White House.
Now the fight against ISIS, a priority for President Trump and the subject of one of his first executive orders. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is working the story for us.
Barbara, what are you picking up over there?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you'll remember it was back in late January when the president issued an order, saying he wanted options to speed up the war against ISIS. So that deadline is coming up very rapidly.
STARR (voice-over): Thousands of Iraqi troops battling to push ISIS out of western Mosul, backed up by U.S. airstrikes and Special Forces. President Trump says he was not a fan of going into Iraq, but his new defense secretary making clear the U.S. isn't leaving any time soon.
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I imagine we'll be in this fight for a while, and we'll stand by each other.
STARR: Mattis in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi officials and to smooth over some of President Trump's statements.
TRUMP: We should have kept the oil, but OK. Maybe we'll have another chance.
MATTIS: All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I'm sure that we will continue to do so in the future. We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil.
STARR: Mattis is working on options to accelerate the fight against ISIS for President Trump to review at the end of the month. The key goals: get Mosul and Raqqah, Syria, out of ISIS hands. But Mattis, an Iraq veteran himself, not exactly committing on more troops or weapons to the fight.
MATTIS: We owe some degree of confidentiality on exactly how we are going to do that and the sequencing of that fight, so that we don't expose to the enemy what it is we have in mind in terms of the timing of the operations.
STARR: The Pentagon is looking at several ideas, including arming Kurdish rebels, which Turkey opposes, and even putting U.S. conventional troops on the ground inside Syria. It's all risky, and defense officials say more troops would likely be needed to accelerate operations.
But for now, Mattis appears to have shut the door on something else both President Trump and Moscow wanted. Speaking at NATO before he traveled to Iraq, Mattis made clear he's not looking for quick military cooperation with Russia.
MATTIS: We do not, are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level, but our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground or a way forward.
STARR: Now, the president wants total destruction of ISIS. But options to do that are going to be risky and raise the risk to U.S. troops -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara, tell us more about the president's new national security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster?
STARR: Very well-known inside military circles, Wolf, highly respected. He's done tours, multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was involved with the surge in Iraq. So he knows that part of the world very well.
Officials are telling us that he will have to come up to speed on other geographic issues, like North Korea. But really the central challenge for him will be to bring some calm to the process in that National Security Council so far.
[17:10:10] BLITZER: He's got a huge challenge ahead of him. All right. Thanks very much. Barbara Starr over at the Pentagon.
Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona is joining us. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Thank you for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: So what do you think of the president's announcement of Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to serve as the new national security advisor?
GALLEGO: Look, he's very well-known and very well-respected. His book on the Vietnam War is, you know, well-read throughout all military colleges, and basically all military thinkers.
The problem is this may still just be, you know, lipstick on a pig. Right now the foreign policy and our national security policy is basically being run by Bannon and also by Donald Trump's tweets. The combination of those two things has made it very unstable. This is why other people that have tried to or were interested that that position have walked away.
And I think the best thing that could happen is for McMaster to actually have full control.
At the same time, President Trump needs to do his duty. There's too many appointed positions that still need to be filled in the Department of Defense, and it's -- it's getting troublesome for a lot of us to understand where the policies are being generated from, because most of the time our points, as Armed Services committee who we speak to at the Pentagon, those positions aren't being filled right now. BLITZER: There's a lot of positions that haven't been filled yet. I
assume you respect James Mattis, the defense secretary. You clearly respect McMaster, who's going to be the national security advisor. He authored an important book, as you point out, dereliction of duty, about the generals' failures to stand up to political leadership during the Vietnam War.
So I'm assume that's also an encouraging sign to you that the president is doing the right thing.
GALLEGO: It's encouraging for his two hires. I think what's not encouraging is the fact that, you know, we still haven't seen the effect of having such good hires in terms of his policy making and in terms of his opinions. You know, his -- his tweets, his, you know, speeches that are essentially setting foreign policy makes it more difficult.
And the fact that we have to have people like General Mattis and even the vice president having to go and basically stake out their own personal reputation trying to draw back whatever the president has done is not a really good way to -- you know, to operate in the foreign policy field. It's quite embarrassing. And we just saw that what happened with Sweden, where the key -- the president ran his mouth, and now we have Sweden, who's been an ally of ours for many years, basically, you know, chastising the United States. It's kind of embarrassing.
BLITZER: The defense secretary, James Mattis, he's working on anti- ISIS options to present to the president by the end of the month, including potentially putting a lot more U.S. troops on the ground, not only in Iraq, but in Syria, as well. Would you support that?
GALLEGO: I don't think it's a good idea from my experience, just fighting in al-Anbar, urban combat is very dangerous. And also you're potentially involving yourself in, really, a sectarian situation where you have a lot of opposing sides. You have too many moving parts.
I think the most important thing we could do is to continue to train Iraqis and other ally groups to fight on the ground for us. If we continue to get more and more involved, I think it will only draw more attention, money and credibility to ISIS. We need this to be a solution that is created and actually ran by, I would say, the Iraqi government and our allies in Syria.
BLITZER: Secretary Mattis, he went to Iraq today to reassure the Iraqis that the U.S. is not in Iraq to seize anyone's oil. Those were his words, clearly different from President Trump, who has said now on several occasions the U.S. should have kept Iraq's oil; if the U.S. had kept Iraq's oil, there wouldn't be any ISIS, he claims.
Does a comment like Secretary Mattis' today to the Iraqis reassure you?
GALLEGO: It reassures me, but I don't know if, more importantly, does it reassure the Iraqis? You know, as somebody who has served in the Middle East -- and anybody who's served in the Middle East, they'll understand that what is said is important. What is understood is even more important. And when the president speaks, it matters.
And this is why it's very dangerous that Donald Trump is essentially setting foreign policy through his speeches and through his tweets, instead of allowing the experts, such as General Mattis and now McMaster, to really lead the charge.
You know, the president needs to watch what he says. It's irresponsible. He's acting irresponsibly. And you know, you're potentially putting a lot of lives in danger. Just like even at his other executive orders, he basically banned some Iraqi interpreters that helped us during the war, such as someone like me when I was in the war, from coming to the United States. That is not going to encourage better participation by the Iraqi army or anybody who wants to ally with us.
BLITZER: Congressman, you served in Iraq. It's hard to believe, but it's now 14 years since the start of the war. And a U.S. defense secretary still can't visit Baghdad with an announcement. He's got to go unannounced; it's got to be top secret, given the security concerns. Fourteen years later, trillions of dollars spent, thousands of American and Iraqi lives lost, and a defense secretary of the United States goes there, but he can't go there with any word in advance. What does that say to you?
[17:15:17] GALLEGO: It's sad. I mean, I lost a lot of friends in Iraq, and we've lost a lot of -- way too many men and women, as well as time. And really just, you know, the history of what we've seen happening there, it really has been, I believe, a sad statement that we haven't been able to turn that country around.
You know, I think the most important thing we could do is right now to bring stability to Iraq. But we also have to help them help themselves. We cannot take on this effort ourselves, not just in terms of, you know, putting men on the ground and getting rid of ISIS, but also in terms of helping them create a government that's not corrupt, that's transparent, that actually includes all the sectarian organization -- religions that are there right now.
You know, every time I visit my friends at Arlington, it does hurt to think that -- that it's been years, and we're still there.
BLITZER: You know, it's -- it's really sad. Fourteen years and the U.S. has not been able to achieve what used to be called nation building. I don't know if another 14 years involved in nation building in Iraq is necessarily going to prove much more successful.
But we'll continue this. Stand by, we have more questions. New information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll resume our conversation with Congressman Gallego right after this.
BLITZER: We are back with Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Congressman, before we continue our conversation, I want to get to the latest information on the Trump administration's efforts to rework the president's ill-fated travel ban, as well as crack down on illegal immigration.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is with us. Sunlen, what are you learning?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the administration here is putting the finishing touches on what is essentially a second go at that controversial travel ban. Sources tell CNN that there are still significant issues left to hammer out on this new executive order, but that the final language is expected in the coming days, with the big goal to make sure this order can survive the legal challenges that could be ahead.
TRUMP: We will have strong borders again.
SERFATY (voice-over): The Trump administration is preparing to roll out a new travel ban executive order. Sources tell CNN the draft order revises the original botched order, which caused confusion, mass protests, and portions of it were halted by multiple federal courts.
The take two of the order, expected later this week, is intended to be a streamlined, tightened-up version, according to administration officials, which sources say will exempt green card holders, take out any preference for certain religious minorities allowed in the country, and attempt to fix the due process concerns of the federal appeals court that blocked the original order, by giving detailed notice of restrictions on those people coming from the seven identified countries with current or pending visas.
JOHN KELLY, DHS SECRETARY: We will have a short phase-in period to make sure that people on the other end don't get on airplanes. But if they're on an airplane and inbound, they'll be allowed to enter the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Muslim ban has got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Muslim ban has got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Muslim ban has got to go.
SERFATY: Secretary Kelly promising less chaos this time.
KELLY: I will have an opportunity to work a roll-out plan, in particular to make sure that there's no one, in a sense, caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports, which happened on the first release.
SERFATY: All this as the homeland security secretary is also set to release some aggressive new guidelines for carrying out the president's immigration policies. Outlining, in two earlier versions obtained by CNN, directions to agencies to implement the tightening of immigration laws by raising the standard on asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors entering the country, sending people awaiting immigration proceedings to the U.S. back to Mexico, expanding the use of expedited removal proceedings for unauthorized immigrants, which could impact thousands more undocumented immigrants. And the memos call for an increase in detention facilities and agents.
The moves setting off immigration rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers. Senator Menendez dubbing this a mass deportation effort.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Ultimately, anyone who is found in an undocumented status would ultimately be apprehended and deported with due process totally eroded under the proposals that I'm hearing about.
SERFATY: And challengers to the proposed revisions to this new executive order say this won't stop legal challenges ahead. They warn of litigation in the courts as well as protests in the streets. They say this will likely continue in full force -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sunlen. Thanks very much. Sunlen Serfaty reporting.
Let's get back to Congressman Ruben Gallego, a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, as a candidate, Donald Trump had said he would end what's called the DACA program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The children who were brought here by their parents, who grew up here in the United States. He said he would end that opportunity for them to remain. But he hasn't done that. They're still here, and he seems to be suggesting he's going to let them stay here. I assume you welcome that.
GALLEGO: I welcome it, but I fear that's only in name only. We've seen already two DACA recipients that have been nabbed up by ICE, ostensibly on reasons that we don't quite understand. Currently, they're both in detention and trying to -- to use their due process to actually get liberty.
[17:25:05] I also believe that there's going to be other methods without actually revoking DACA that they're going to try to essentially grab as many people in a process that will end up being a mass deportation.
You know, it's great that he publicly will state that he's not doing it with DACA, but if you're privately guiding and making it easier for ICE to grab people that have essentially been here their whole lives and send them to countries that they don't know, it doesn't do, really, anybody any good.
BLITZER: With will you accept what's being described as a streamlined, tightened-up version of the president's travel ban, the executive order that we anticipate coming later this week, if it exempted, for example, green card holders, took out religious preferences, fixed due process concerns?
GALLEGO: Well, the basis for his travel ban in the first place is the problem. It's not necessarily the process. The fact that you targeted certain countries that have a high population of Muslims really, I think, gave the United States a really bad eye internationally.
Two, you know, we have a very strong and effective process right now for us accepting refugees from these countries. It takes years and many steps in the way to essentially get to where we are right now, for them to come to the United States.
So Trump, you know, trying to make this streamlined, you know, those are nice words, but at the end of the day, the genesis of this, I think, is what really has caused a lot of problems. This is not a way, I think, to actually have effective foreign policy by essentially trying to alienate many of these countries by essentially labeling the whole population as potential terrorists.
BLITZER: Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona, thanks very much for joining us.
GALLEGO: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, a newly-released surveillance video shows the airport attack that killed the half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. We're also learning authorities are now searching for new suspects.
BLITZER: This hour's breaking news, President Trump naming Army General H.R. McMaster to replace his fired national security advisor, Michael Flynn. Retired general Keith Kellogg, who's been serving as acting national security advisor, will remain on the National Security Council as chief of staff.
[17:31:38] Let's bring in our political and legal experts. Manu, let's start with you. What type of relationship do we expect the president to have with his new national security advisor?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't think we know yet. I mean, we do know that Donald Trump is starting to rely a lot on generals in his cabinet, and as well as his senior level officials in the national security apparatus. But we don't know exactly if McMaster is going to carry any more influence than, say, other people in the administration or on the National Security Council.
Does -- does McMaster carry more weight than, say, Steve Bannon, who has a role in the National Security Council? Who does -- who has Donald Trump's ear at the end of the day?
But we do know McMaster has -- is widely respected in military circles, has a long experience in combat operations, and presumably would carry a lot of weight. But of course, Donald Trump has a team of different advisors that have different views on some key issues. Where does he come down at the end of the day? I don't think we don't know that yet.
BLITZER: Yes. Senator John McCain issued a glowing statement saying that McMaster is the perfect fit, the perfect guy for this national security slot. And he's been critical, as we all know, of the president in many areas.
SUNLEN, As you know at his rally Saturday, the president mentioned Sweden saying there had been some sort of incident the night before, which there was no incident in Sweden the night before.
This at a time when Mike Pence -- Mike Pence, the vice president -- is in Europe trying to reassure the allies. And General Mattis, the defense secretary, is there at NATO headquarters now in Iraq, trying to reassure folks.
But this sort of complicates the whole picture, doesn't it?
SERFATY: It sure does. It makes these administration officials' mission, this reassurance mission all the more difficult, because it plays directly into the minds of these allies, questioning Donald Trump's mastery of international issues; his -- questioning where he gets his information. That plays right into their concerns. And this point blank is the reason -- part of the reason why they went abroad to reassure the allies, talk about, you know, what their administration's mission is. And to make sure that they are smoothing over the tensions about an off-the cuff president that says things. This plays right into that hand.
BLITZER: Jeffrey -- Jeffrey Toobin is with us as well. We expect later this week a revised travel ban to be issued by the president, by the administration to deal with the legal issues that came up in various court proceedings, and the court of appeals, and all that. Do you think that they've got it now so that whatever they come up with, this new and revised version will go through the courts?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they have a lot better chance. They now know the concerns the judicial system has, and they are trying to address them. And certainly, in certain areas, they have -- they will address them. The green card holders, visa holders will be exempted.
The big question is whether the president's statements, Trump's statements during the campaign and other evidence about his intent to focus exclusively on Muslims, whether that will taint the whole process. But certainly, this revised version will have a better chance in the courts than the original one.
BLITZER: Ryan Lizza is with us, as well as former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who's not in the administration, now saying that the travel ban that was originally released by the president was the result of some bad staff work. The president's, quote, "staff has not prepared him as well as they could have, or should have." What do you think of that criticism?
[17:35:11] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think it's interesting, because Corey is usually a very loyal lieutenant. I mean, he was not obviously in favor of the second group that took over the Trump world, the Paul Manafort group, but he's always been very -- been always favorable of the third group of Kellyanne Conway and Bannon. He's always spoke very highly of them. And that, of course -- those are the folks that are in the White House right now. So, you know, it's rare for Corey Lewandowski to actually criticize anything in the Trump world. I do think he's trying to protect the president here, right? He's criticizing the staff, saying it wasn't the president's fault. You know, the buck does stop with the president. He's the one who signs the executive order. He should know what is in it, and he should make sure that he has a process in place that is serving him well.
But, yes, I'm a little surprised that someone as close to the White House, as close to Donald Trump would, you know, speak any criticism, even as gentle and obvious as this criticism was. Of course, the staff was not -- did not do a good job with that executive order.
BLITZER: We'll see if the staff does a better job with his new and revised executive order.
Manu, CNN has obtained some of the draft memos from Homeland Security that provide guidance for border security, new steps to deal with border security, new steps to deal with deportations. You've been doing some reporting on this. What are you learning?
RAJU: Yes. It's expected to come out soon. We saw draft guidelines leaked to the press over the weekend. Up to 10,000 more enforcement agents they're looking to hire, as well as 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, all part of an effort to expedite and broaden deportations in this country.
I mean, this -- it would not affect these so-called DREAMers, the children who are brought here illegally at a young age. But it could affect some of their parents, as well. This is bound to cause a lot of tension and -- among the Hispanic community. And given the fact that President Obama was criticized relentlessly from a lot of Hispanic lawmakers for his deportation orders, this could broaden that and could create a lot of problems, especially if it breaks apart some families.
BLITZER: Because the critics are already calling this, Sunlen -- you cover the Hill -- a deportation force. Is that...
SERFATY: That's right.
BLITZER: Is that what you're hearing?
SERFATY: That's coming from Senator Menendez over the weekend, and a lot of immigration rights advocates speaking out, highly critical of this. And this memo, in addition to the executive order, should be noted, this sets up a potentially huge week for the administration on immigration. Expect to see a lot of push back, although many members are in recess, working in their districts. A lot of pushback from -- coming from many Democrats when they're at home.
TOOBIN: This is the issue -- this is the issue he ran for president on.
BLITZER: Yes. TOOBIN: What do people expect? I mean, he said he was going to build a wall. He said he was going to deport people who were in the country illegally. I mean, that's what he's doing.
BLITZER: But he now says, Jeffrey, he's got a heart, and he's got to deal with that issue, as well. As far as the DREAMers, the DACA folks out there, the children who have basically lived their whole lives here in the United States. And he's -- he's suggesting they're going to be able to stay.
TOOBIN: Well, that's not what he said during the campaign. And you know, the Republican Party is united on the issue of deporting all 11 million people, the DREAMers and everyone else who are in this country illegally, and you know, he -- Donald Trump says a lot of things, but one he has been very consistent on is he wants people in the country illegal -- who are here illegally out of the country. And let the chips fall where they may.
BLITZER: We've got more that we need to assess and we need to discuss, including John McCain's reaction to the president's assertion that the news media now has become the enemy of the American people. Stand by for that. We'll be right back.
[17:43:35] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts. And Ryan Lizza, I want to get to Senator John McCain. As you know, he had a very harsh warning in response to President Trump's tweet that the media are, quote, "the enemy of the American people." Listen to what Senator McCain said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and, many times, adversarial press. And without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And this was the tweet. This was the tweet that the president issued, that he posted, quote, "The fake news media -- failing 'New York Times,' NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN -- is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people."
How could President Trump's attacks on the media like this erode democratic traditions, as Senator McCain is now suggesting?
LIZZA: I mean, first of all, let's just pause to point out how astonishing it is for a United States senator of the same party to have to talk about his own president, a president who's a member of his party, warning about how dictatorships get started with this kind of rhetoric. I mean, that -- you know, I don't think any of us sitting on this show ever thought we would see that in our lifetimes. I also don't think we ever thought we would see a president of the
United States describe us as an enemy of the American people. The language itself is bizarre. It's the kind of thing you expect to see from, frankly, from, you know, the leadership in North Korea or something.
And look, here's why it's worrying, and here's why it's not worrying. On the one hand, you know, I heard a lot of my conservative friends say, you know, it's just words. It's just him attacking the press. Presidents always attack the press. What is the big deal?
And to a certain extent, I think that is true. And these are the things that we actually have to start looking at -- this is where we are in this country -- if you look at other leaders in these countries that had a free and thriving press and now don't, where did it start? It started with the leader of the country turning the press into the opposition, polarizing the people of that country against the press. And then after a period of time, when the press lost prestige and respect, opening the way for laws against them.
Now, are we at that stage in this country? No, but we are at the very early stages of something that we have just not seen in an America.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right.
LIZZA: And it's something to watch and be concerned about.
BLITZER: Jeffery, your thoughts.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, it's disgusting. I mean, you know, an enemy? Really? I mean, you know, ISIS is our enemy. Hitler was our enemy.
The press is not anybody's enemy in this country. We're trying to do a job here, which we do imperfectly but have done it for 200 years. We even have an amendment to the constitution, the very first one, that defines our freedom. I mean, the idea that we have to defend the press as a part of American life is astonishing in and of itself.
BLITZER: Well said. All right. Everybody, stand by.
There is more coming up, including a list of suspects that keeps on growing in the killing of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half- brother. We're going to show you some newly released surveillance video of the attack. That's coming up.
[17:51:19] BLITZER: Newly released surveillance video is providing some intriguing clues in the killing of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, the list of possible suspects apparently keeps on growing.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, Wolf. Tonight, Malaysian police have two female suspects in custody.
They're holding two men as well. But they're also looking for four other male suspects, all of them North Koreans, who police say fled the country very quickly.
Tonight, that new surveillance footage is giving us clues and revealing just how quickly and efficiently this operation was carried out.
TODD (voice-over): A crucial moment in a disturbing murder mystery.
Watch this woman's hand. She reaches up to attack a man believed to be Kim Jong-un's older half-brother. This is surveillance footage from inside Kuala Lumpur's airport.
Moments earlier, Kim Jong-nam is seen walking casually through the terminal. He stopes briefly, seemingly to check the departure boards. As he moves into a line, the woman comes up from behind him and grabs his face. There's a very brief struggle.
AKI PERITZ, FORMER ANALYST, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: You'll notice that, as soon as she does this, she does her activity and then gets out of there and disappears into the crowd. That's very smart. It doesn't give the victim a chance to respond.
TODD (voice-over): According to police, before he died, Kim Jong-nam said his face had been wiped with a liquid and that he felt dizzy. He said that two women were involved. Although, from the video, it's hard to see if there's a second person.
What do you make of the assertion of one of the suspects that she thought she was participating in a T.V. reality gag?
PERITZ: These people were obviously trained. This is a very professional, very quick movement, and then they're gone. If this was truly a prank or these were amateurs, they would have struck around, they would have fumbled, but they didn't do that.
TODD (voice-over): After the scuffle, Kim Jong-nam is seen complaining to airport personnel and seeking help. Twice, he gestures to his face. Kim died on the way to the hospital.
Tonight, in addition to the two female suspects and two men they have in custody, Malaysian police are seeking four other male suspects, all North Koreans, who they say fled the country on the day of the attack.
South Korean officials are calling this an act of terrorism. They say Kim Jong-nam was poisoned and that his brother's regime ordered the hit. The North Koreans have said he died of a heart attack and have cast doubt on the credibility of the Malaysian police.
KANG CHOL, NORTH KOREA'S AMBASSADOR TO MALAYSIA: We cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police. TODD (voice-over): If Kim Jong-un ordered the hit, why would he want
his brother dead? Kim Jong-nam had criticized Kim Jong-un publicly, calling him too weak to maintain control over the country. Analysts say China had also been supporting Kim Jong-nam, possibly holding him in reserve if North Korea descended into chaos under his younger brother.
DR. PATRICK CRONIN, SENIOR ADVISOR, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: Every time China wanted to turn the screw on Kim Jong-un for misbehaving, they could drop a veiled threat that there is an alternative. And even just the threat, even if it's an empty threat, might have made a paranoid leadership like Kim Jong-un want to eliminate and leave no loose threads out there.
TODD: Analysts say another reason Kim Jong-un may have ordered this hit is to send a signal to potential defectors that his regime is willing to go to any lengths and go anywhere to kill them if they escape.
In fact, one high-level defector, this man, Thae Yong-ho, who was North Korea's number two official at their embassy in London until he recently escaped, well, he just told an interview he believes the regime may be coming after him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, there's still a messy controversy over the body, right?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. Malaysian police, they're saying they're not going to release the body of Kim Jong-nam, unless it's identified by a family member or unless DNA is provided.
[17:55:00] The North Koreans call that preposterous and unlawful. And the North Koreans say they will not accept the autopsy results, claiming the Malaysians are hiding something.
Who knows what is going to happen to that body and when it might be released, Wolf.
BLITZER: The mystery continues. All right. Brian, thanks very much.
Breaking news next, the President names a new national security adviser amid fall-out from the President's questionable security concern about Sweden.
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. General assignment. President Trump names an active duty Army strategist as his new national security adviser. After the Michael Flynn debacle, will H.R. McMaster bring stability and straight talk to Mr. Trump's inner circle?
[18:00:06] Russia revelations.