Return to Transcripts main page


Trump: Anti-Semitism 'Is Horrible' and 'Has to Stop'; Trump, New National Security Adviser May Differ on Russia; CIA Analyst Quits and Blames Trump; Trump: Anti-Semitism 'Is Horrible' and 'Has to Stop'; Trump Administration to Increase Deportation Efforts. Aired 5- 6p ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 17:00   ET


TAPPER: [17:00:08] That's it for "THE LEAD." Jake Tapper here turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Immigration shift. The Trump administration comes out with a blueprint for cracking down on illegal immigration. It says the objective is not mass deportation but says a million people could go. What about the DREAMers who came to America as children?

"It has to stop." After bomb threats to dozens of Jewish community centers and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, President Trump finally responds to criticism and condemns anti-Semitism, calling it horrible and saying it must stop. Did he go far enough?

Outspoken. The former National Security Council spokesman and longtime CIA analyst quits the intelligence agency and publicly blames Donald Trump. Ned Price tells us why in his first TV interview.

And cause of death. An autopsy shows Kim Jong-un's brother did not have a heart attack, and no puncture wounds were visible. But officials suspect he was poisoned in a public assassination. So just how did he die and why?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Trump administration is outlining plans for aggressively enforcing immigration laws. The White House says mass deportation is not the goal, and for now the president plans to keep protections for so- called DREAMers who entered the United States as children.

But homeland security guidelines show stepped-up resources for a crackdown, and officials say a million undocumented immigrants who pose a threat will be the first to go.

And then a new wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and following desecration at a Jewish cemetery, President Trump today called anti-Semitism horrible, adding it has to stop. He spoke as he toured the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which he called -- and I'm quoting now -- "a reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred."

Trump's comments came after he was widely condemned for not addressing the rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

And as President Trump names a new national security advisor, a former National Security Council official and long-time CIA analyst will tell us why he just quit the CIA and why he's blaming President Trump. I'll talk to former NSA spokesman Ned Price. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

Amid a rising tide of anti-Semitic threats and growing criticism of his silence, President Trump spoke out on the matter today.

Let's begin with our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, what's the president saying and doing about this?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president is speaking out against these -- these rising incidents of anti-Semitism. He called it horrible, but he did not say if he's directed his Justice Department or other agencies to do anything about it. These threats have been rising ever since he's been inaugurated and before.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This, too, is a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance, and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump speaking out today against a wave of anti-Semitism during a visit to the new Smithsonian museum celebrating African-American history.

TRUMP: The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

ZELENY: The president's condemnation of bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish sites across the country came after days of enduring sharp criticism for virtual silence on rising anti-Semitic threats. His words came hours after his former rival, Hillary Clinton, called on him to act: "JCC threats, cemetery desecrations and online attacks are so troubling they need to be stopped," she wrote on Twitter. "Everyone must speak out, starting with the president."

At two press conferences last week, the president stopped short of denouncing the attacks of violence and threats. He berated a reporter from a Jewish magazine for asking the question.

TRUMP: OK, sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So, here's the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.

ZELENY: At the White House today, press secretary Sean Spicer defended the president in the wake of the criticism. SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president is

going to do what he's talked about since election night. It's through deed and action, talk about how we can unify this country and speak out against, you know, hate, anti-Semitism, racism.

[17:05:09] ZELENY: Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security offered new guidance today on the president's stricter approach to illegal immigration that could vastly expand the number of people detained and deported.

But Mr. Trump is not taking steps to repeal President Obama's order protecting so-called DREAMers, young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

SPICER: The No. 1 priority is making sure that people who pose a threat to this country are immediately dealt with.

ZELENY: All this as the new national security advisor, General H.R. McMaster, started his first day on the job, less than a week after the president's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign. The White House said McMaster will have the authority to build his own team.

(on camera): Does that extend to the principles committee, as well? After he comes in and takes a look at the whole apparatus, if he advises the president that he would prefer not to have a chief strategist as a member of the principles committee, would the president...

SPICER: The president has made clear to him. As I said, he's got full authority to structure the national security team the way he wants. Obviously, something like that he would come to the president and make that recommendation. But the president would take that under high -- you know, serious consideration.


ZELENY: And, Wolf, there was a first meeting of the National Security Council at least top advisors on that this afternoon in THE SITUATION ROOM here at the White House.

And the question they were asking was about Steve Bannon, the chief strategist, of course, of this administration, who was named to the principles committee along with the secretary of state and other officials in this government. He's an unusual addition onto that.

So, we asked the White House if the structure will remain the same. And you heard what Sean Spicer said there. It's up to the discretion of the president, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do we know if Bannon participated in that first meeting of the National Security Council just a little while ago in the White House situation room?

ZELENY: I do not know if he participated in that meeting. He is still a full member, of course. And there's no reason to think that General McMaster would have any issue with this, but Sean Spicer said he would be able to bring his own team in and put them in place. We do not know yet what the topic of that meeting was or if Steve Bannon was in the meeting.

BLITZER: All right. Jeff Zeleny reporting for us at the White House.

The president's choice to replace Michael Flynn as national security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, is drawing strong support from all along the political spectrum.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, the president and the general, they're both strong-willed. They may have some very different ideas, though, about Russia. Will they get along?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you should expect to see General McMaster be exactly who he is, very plain-spoken, not a yes man. But also deferential to the commander in chief when need be.

Today the White House said that General McMaster would remain on active duty as the security advisor, and that means he may face a Senate confirmation.


STARR (voice-over): Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has a long history of speaking up about Russia and Vladimir Putin.

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: War is an extension of politics. Russia understands this. Vladimir Putin understands this. And, so, he is waging, really, a limited war from limited objectives. He is using a broad range of means to do that and a very sophisticated campaign of propaganda, disinformation, political subversion and so forth.

STARR: Quite different from his now-fired predecessor Michael Flynn who sat at dinner with Putin in Moscow and is under FBI investigation for potential inappropriate potential contact with the Russian ambassador. In recent months, McMaster has worked on a review looking at how Russia is impacting global security.

MCMASTER: This was a sophisticated strategy, what Russia is employing. And we're doing a study of this now with a number of partners. It combines really conventional forces as cover for unconventional action, but a very -- a much more sophisticated campaign involving the use of criminality and organized crime and really operating effectively on this battleground of perception and information.

Mr. President, thank you very much.

STARR: But on other issues, McMaster appears to be more in sync with President Trump.

MCMASTER: We announce publicly, often years in advance, how we intend to limit our level of effort. And we ignore the effect that public announcements concerning limitations on the nature, scale, or time of our effort have on maintaining our own will to fight.

STARR: On the fight against ISIS, McMaster stops far short of equating Islam with terrorism but is adamant about the need to defeat terrorists.

MCMASTER: We are engaged in sort of righteous causes right now, OK, and I think it's OK for us to want to win against these -- these, you know, misogynistic murderous bastards that we're fighting in the greater Middle East. And so -- so I think that we ought to be unabashed about it.

[17:10:06] STARR: And he suggests defeating ISIS quickly may require escalating U.S. military involvement.

MCMASTER: The approach that we took proved to be insufficient in terms of being able to resolve this in a timely manner, because we narrowly circumscribed our effort and instead relied mainly on stand- off capabilities and the use of proxies.


STARR: So, you listen to General McMaster there and you can readily see this guy is nobody's "yes man," and that is something that is not likely to change -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Barbara Starr over at the Pentagon.

Joining us now Ned Price. He's a former National Security Council spokesman, a long-time CIA analyst who just resigned from the CIA with a very public blast at the Trump administration.

Ned, thanks very much for joining us.

NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: It's good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. So, you quit your post at the CIA last week where you worked for, what, 11 years, three most recently, you were detailed to the National Security Council, where you were the spokesman there. So, why quit now and why quit so publicly?

PRICE: Well, Wolf, let me describe to you what I saw over the course of many months. I saw a Republican nominee during a primetime debate just casually doubt the high-confidence assessment of all of our 17 intelligence agencies.

I saw a president-elect compare our intelligence community to Nazis. I heard him accuse the intelligence community of leaking.

And then I saw a president, President Trump on his first full day in office, travel to Langley, Virginia, presumably to attempt to repair relations with the CIA. Standing before the most solemn memorial in Langley, Virginia, a memorial to the 117 men and women who have given their lives in service to the CIA, he bragged about the size of the crowd at his inauguration the day before. That was all public. What was not public but what was clear to many of us was the ideology

and really the orthodoxy that this administration has maintained. I do not feel that this administration would be open to the kind of candid assessments, the kind of frank reports and analysis that, as a CIA analyst, I would be charged with producing.

BLITZER: I read your article, your op-ed in "The Washington Post" outlining the major reasons why you decided to resign, quit from the CIA at this point.

And after reading your article, I asked Phil Mudd -- he's a former CIA counterterrorism official, a CNN analyst right now -- about your decision to resign so early in this new administration. I want you to listen, Ned, to what he said.


PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Let's see where the rubber meets the road here. We have a secretary of defense, a secretary of state and a vice-president who have said things on Russia, for example, that reflect the intelligence and differ from what the president has said.

You can quit if you want, but 28 or 30 days into a presidency, you can't say it's because you think intelligence is politicized. I don't buy it.


BLITZER: All right. I want you to respond to that, why you decided not to wait, and why not, for example, give Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director a chance.

PRICE: Wolf, it's a fair question, and it's uniquely personal decision, one that I made and one that perhaps others at the CIA are considering at the moment. I think, Wolf, you know, I had two options at my disposal. I could have gone back to the CIA, made a nice salary, enjoyed a five-figure salary at the expense of the American taxpayers and produced reports and analysis that I feel, by all indications, would have had -- would have been given essentially no due deference.

This administration has hewed to its so-called "America first" ideology, and it has shown no sign of changing its policy based on the kind of analysis the CIA would produce. When I signed up to be a CIA analyst in 2006 when I first entered Langley for the first time, I did so because I wanted to serve the American people. And I concluded, albeit reluctantly, that I can do that more effectively from the outside.

BLITZER: Your critics already pointing out, and you probably know this already, that you did make political contributions back in August to the Hillary for America campaign, $2,700 to the DNC, $2,300. You say your decision wasn't about politics, but do the political contributions say otherwise? PRICE: No, Wolf. As an intelligence professional, I have never

spoken out about my personal views. That is not my right. It is not my role. What I can do as an intelligent professional whose work was governed by the Hatch Act, was to donate to candidates who I thought shared my values. And I thought that Secretary Clinton did.

Wolf, just to be clear, I joined the CIA in 2006. I worked proudly for President George W. Bush. One of the most memorable days of my CIA career was waiting for what seemed like hours to meet President Bush on one of his visits to the Central Intelligence Agency. I sit in line just to shake his hand, and I was proud to do so, because he was the commander in chief, granted, not all of whose policies, especially on the domestic side, I agreed with, but he was the commander in chief, and I respected him, and I respected the way he kept our country safe.

BLITZER: But you're saying you could not respect the current commander in chief, President Trump, in that way, even though that -- he's got a secretary of defense, secretary of homeland security, a CIA director, now a national security advisor whom you presumably do respect?

PRICE: I certainly do respect many of those men, and President Trump is the commander in chief, and I certainly respect that. But, Wolf, when you look at this administration's early moves, the CIA director was initially not a principal on the National Security Council. The director of national intelligence was initially not a principal on the National Security Council. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff initially was not a principal on the National Security Council. Steve Bannon was a principal and is a principal on the National Security Council.

Look, I certainly hope that this administration will allow many of the voices you just mentioned to be active in the debates, to have a say, but critically, to listen to them. They can sit around a table all they want and spout off their opinions, but if those aren't taken into account in this small circle of policy making that is driven by the White House, it will be all for naught.

BLITZER: Because you say that the final straw in your decision was Steve Bannon having a seat on the National Security Council. During the transition -- and you were still the spokesman at the National Security Council during the transition. You worked closely with the national security advisor, Susan Rice. Did you have any direct interactions with Bannon?

PRICE: I don't want to speak to any interactions I had as a -- when I was at the NSC. That was a process that we tried to run as best we could. And I don't want to speak to the details of that. But it was something that we undertook with the utmost professionalism and, you know, from our end, we tried to prepare this administration as best we could to take the -- take the mantle.

BLITZER: Well, why do you think it's a problem for Bannon to serve, to sit on the National Security Council if the president of the United States wants him to be there? PRICE: Well, Wolf, it's really unprecedented. I can certainly speak

to the case during the Obama administration, and those individuals whom I would consider political, very rarely sat in on the National Security Council. And when they did so, they weren't sitting at the table. They didn't have a vote. They were sitting as back benchers, especially when the equities concerned, especially when there was a domestic equity involved.

For example, during the Ebola response, it was very critical that individuals from different parts of the White House, including the communications shop, were aware of how we were communicating with the American people about our Ebola response, both at home and abroad. So I certainly found it appropriate that they were back benchers during these meetings as occasionally, and quite rarely, frankly, they were.

What never happened during the Obama administration, and which I certainly don't think has happened during any other administration, is to have an overtly political voice sitting at the table and critically, with -- with a vote, one of a few votes.

BLITZER: All right, Ned, stand by. There is much more to talk about, including the reorganization of the National Security Council. We're going to continue our conversation right after a quick break.


[17:22:25] BLITZER: We're back with Ned Price. He's the former National Security Council spokesman during the last three years of the Obama administration, a CIA analyst for about 11 years. He just resigned from the CIA, saying he quit because of President Trump.

Ned, you say the politicians are tuning out the intelligence community in this new Trump administration. If that's true, clearly that could be dangerous, but what evidence do you have they're tuning out the intelligence community?

PRICE: Well, Wolf, it can absolutely be dangerous and the consequences of that, I think, at this point are untold. I think the clearest indication, Wolf, was the first national security policy directive that this administration put out. This was the same directive that, at the time, removed the CIA director, removed the director of national intelligence...

BLITZER: But they were all brought -- they were all brought back in subsequently to that.

PRICE: The CIA director was, but only after pretty harsh criticism. And, you know, that may have well been just a salve to calm some of their critics.

But to my mind, their inclination was clear. You know, the -- the situation room in this administration may not have room for dissenting voices, voices who are going to call them like they see them. And that is exactly the role of the CIA director and the director of national intelligence. BLITZER: But don't you believe that Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster,

the new national security advisor, who's widely being praised right now, wants the best intelligence, not only from the CIA, but 15 or 16 other U.S. intelligence agencies? Don't you have confidence that he wants great intelligence?

PRICE: I certainly believe that. I have no reason to doubt that. I've never met General McMaster, but I've only heard the best things about him from many colleagues I respect.

But look, you can have all of the inputs you want, and voices can be incorporated in parts of the policy process, but it's the output that really matters. And I think what we've seen during the course of the four weeks or so that the Trump administration has been in office, that the inputs are given short shrift, and the outputs are manufactured almost exclusively by a small group of advisors who are around the president, very few of whom, in my opinion, have foreign policy and national security credentials.

BLITZER: Well, General Mattis does, the secretary of defense, right?

PRICE: Absolutely, absolutely, and I hope that people like General Mattis will be actively involved in the policy-making process and that their voices will be listened to.

BLITZER: What about Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director? He's pretty widely respected.

[17:25:00] PRICE: So, you know, Director Pompeo is someone who has experience with intelligence from his time on the House permanent select committee. I've heard good things from those who have worked closely with him. You know, in some ways, it was a pick that ran counter to the nonpartisan nature of previous CIA directors.

But if Congressman Pompeo -- if Director Pompeo now can cast aside his partisanness [SIC], I think he has the capacity to be an excellent CIA director.

BLITZER: So finally, Ned, what do you say to your former CIA colleagues, your friends who are still serving in the agency? Should they stay or should they go?

PRICE: This was not meant to be a recommendation to any of my now former colleagues. This was the personal decision that I came to and came to very reluctantly. I certainly understand those who are staying in place, and frankly, I certainly hope there are good people who remain, who will not only offer their best advice and expertise to this administration, but will, when appropriate, be a check on power in an appropriate way.

So I am certainly not encouraging them to take one course or another. This was a decision that I thought was best for me. This was the way that I thought that I could most effectively serve the American people, which is what I initially signed up to do.

BLITZER: Ned Price joining us. Ned, thanks very much, former CIA analyst, former spokesman for the National Security Council. Thanks for joining us.

And coming up, the deepening mystery of what killed the brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Investigators say there are no puncture wounds on his body; nor did he have a heart attack. Was it a new kind of poison?


BLITZER: President Trump today finally weighed in on the recent wave of threats against Jewish facilities across the United States. After touring the new museum of African-American history here in Washington this morning, the president clearly and forcefully denounced anti- Semitism. Here's part of what he said.


[17:31:37] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The anti- Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.


BLITZER: All right. Let's get some insight from our political and legal experts.

Mark Preston, he's had a few opportunities over these past few days to say exactly what he just said. He didn't do that. Why now?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, a couple things. You know, last week he told us he was the least anti-Semitic person that we'd ever seen in our whole entire life. So like, you know, when you with look at the most -- the least anti-Semitic people, Donald Trump said that he is that person.

Look, I don't think his Semitic, but I do think he's stubborn. And I think when he's told to do something, when he feels like he's pushed into a corner, he is not going to capitulate. He is going to march to his own drummer. And in this case, to his own detriment. That was the appropriate thing to say today; and it was the appropriate venue, given the fact it was at the African-American museum, as well.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This isn't about him. That's the point. This is about the Jewish community. This is about people who are fearful that the fact that their president wouldn't come out and immediately dismiss this. This is an easy one.

PRESTON: Look, it's a layup. In basketball parlance, it is a layup, but the fact is, this is Donald Trump we're talking about...

KUCINICH: Of course.

PRESTON: ... and everything is about Donald Trump. BLITZER: It followed a tweet from his daughter, who's Jewish, Ivanka.

She tweeted this earlier. She said, "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers," hashtag #JCC, Jewish community centers.

How much of a role do you think Ivanka played a role in her dad's ultimate decision to go ahead and utter these words at the museum?

KUCINICH: I mean, you have to believe that she's a very large factor. Her, Jared Kushner and their children, I mean, these are a very close family to Donald Trump. That said, it makes it even more perplexing why he didn't come out sooner and say this.

Again, this isn't something that is difficult. This isn't a president that is shy about speaking his mind when he doesn't think something is right.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And not only that, but Ivanka had to take the lead on it. She tweeted about it before the president of the United States, her father, actually said anything publicly to condemn it.

BLITZER: Do you agree that you think Ivanka played a significant role in convincing the president to go ahead and say what he said at the museum?

BERG: Sure, I agree with Jackie that she and Jared obviously had a hand in this, because they have a hand in all of his major decisions. They're key advisors. They're trusted as family and advisors. And so, certainly they -- and the fact that they are practicing Jews probably had a role in this.

But it was also, I think, the culmination of so much political pressure. This issue wasn't going away. In fact, it was getting worse around the country, as we've seen. And for the president to just ignore it, I think would have been very difficult.

BLITZER: As always, I'm anxious; to get Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in on this, as well. I know you've been thinking a lot about it, Jeffrey. Go ahead.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if the Kushners and Ivanka are so powerful and important, why is the president's counselor Steve Bannon, who represents the alt-right, which is charitably tolerant of Jews, if not actively anti-Semitic?

And, you know, in a world where, you know, Mexicans have been a target, Islam has been a target, you know, Jews at 2 percent of the population and shrinking are not -- are also another minority group. So, you know, in a world of hostility to minority groups, Jews are never going to -- Jews are never going to thrive, and they know that, I think.

[17:35:23] BLITZER: But Jews have thrived in the United States, obviously, over these many, many years. TOOBIN: They have, but we are now in a moment where Jews are, at

least in Jewish community centers, are under a certain degree of threat. And I don't think you can separate the threat to Jews from an atmosphere where minorities in general are feeling -- feeling stress and threat.

BLITZER: Because they were -- go ahead, Mark. You were...

PRESTON: Well, I was going it say the irony is that he's come under so much criticism for this, as he should, but at the same time he's with Benjamin Netanyahu, who comes out and says that you can find no better friend of Israel than Donald Trump, which again goes to this whole perplexing thing of trying to understand Donald Trump, which is impossible.

KUCINICH: And this also comes on the heels of leaving Jews out of a Holocaust remembrance.

PRESTON: Right. Right.

KUCINICH: And they actually fought that. It was so bizarre.

PRESTON: Ridiculous.

BLITZER: He is -- after he visited the African-American museum today, he says he is going to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Washington, as well, which I think will be a significant moment.

The critics of the president argue that he's still very concerned about alienating some of the that base that helped him, the so-called alt-right base; and Jeffrey Toobin is suggesting there's an anti- Semitic element there, as well. Do you believe that?

BERG: Well, he certainly -- in the tone of his rhetoric, Wolf, continues to play to that base in the sense that he continues to sow fear; he continues to sow division, because politically, that has been a very effective tool for Donald Trump.

He points to immigrants as antagonists. He points to refugees as antagonists. He points to these sort of marginalized groups as antagonists in the American society. And that sort of rhetoric has consequences; and some of the consequences of sowing fear and sowing division are that some people, some bad actors, will lash out.

BLITZER: Let me ask Jeffrey Toobin before we take a break. What do you want him to do now?

TOOBIN: That's not my job. I'm not going to tell Donald Trump, you know, what to do. I think the -- a president's most precious resource is his time. Where is he going to be? Is he going to go to a JCC? Is he going to go somewhere where people are feeling under threat? That's what to watch.

You know, a very obvious statement that anti-Semitism is bad is certainly to be appreciated, but let's see if there's any follow-up, and let's hope that there are not more incidents that he needs to respond to.


BERG: And it's worth noting that the governor of Missouri, a Republican, where this cemetery incident took place is actually -- he said in a statement today that he personally is going to go and help clean up that cemetery and encourage other Missourians to do the same. That's something that Donald Trump could very well do in his own way.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers pictures of that cemetery in University City, Missouri where the headstones of -- dozens and dozens of headstones were simply destroyed. And it's an ugly scene. It happens to be a traditional, unfortunately going back centuries, a traditional anti-Semitic act to go to a Jewish cemetery and desecrate it. And the fact that it's happened right in Missouri is an awful, awful moment right there.

All right. Let's take a quick break. Much more of our coverage right after this.


[17:43:21] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts. Mark Preston, homeland security moving to implement the president's directives on border security, deportations. They say they're primarily interested in enforcing existing law, but there's a lot of nervous tension out there.

PRESTON: There is a lot of nervous tension. But what they plan on doing is using unused parts of this existing law. So, while the premise will be to go out and try to get violent criminals, which we saw under the Obama administration, they're also going to cast a wider net. And they're going to -- anyone who is illegal, they might just pick up and -- and put them into proceedings for deportation.

You know, a couple things about this. The DACA, the DREAMers part of it, which is children who were brought to the United States by their parents, not knowing any other country, that is not going to be cut out, meaning these children who are now adults, in many ways, or teenagers, they will get to stay here in the country.

What else is interesting is that they plan on giving more enforcement to local and state police to act as immigration agents. Where that will not work, though, is the state of California. Because the state of California is not going to allow their local resources to be used to try to pick up illegal immigrants.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, these ICE agents, they're going to have some, we're told, some discretion. How much discretion are they going to have in term of who gets deported and who gets to stay?

TOOBIN: Well, they're going to get more discretion. And look, all 11 million are at risk. I mean, you know, Donald Trump is keeping a campaign promise here. He said he wanted to step up immigration enforcement. That means step up deportations. And, you know, what the Obama administration did, especially towards

the end of his administration, they said, "Look, we are only going to deport certain groups of people, people we really want out of the country." They are stripping away that -- that discretion, and they are opening up the group of people who are at risk of deportation. And that's going to lead to more deportations. That's the whole point of what the Trump administration did today.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jackie, and you know this, during the eight years of the Obama administration, a lot of people were deported as well. Some people called him Deporter-in-Chief.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. And I think that's why you had a lot of Hispanic activists and people in the immigrant community that were very displeased with the Obama administration, particularly because they didn't really push the issue of reform as hard as I think a lot of people wanted them to.

So some of these Trump policies are actually just carry over from what the Obama administration had done, but the DACA piece is very interesting. And Trump actually kind of signaled last week that he might do this, that this might be in place because he said it's a very emotional issue, I think he said.

BLITZER: Yes. He said, Rebecca, he has a big heart, and he wants to get the bad ones out right away. But people who are good, including the DREAMers, the children of the undocumented immigrants, he's going to, presumably, according to these new rules, let them stay.

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: But at the same time, you know, Donald Trump has said that he wants to be compassionate. This new order is not going to prioritize criminals over regular undocumented immigrants if he's leaving it up to legal law enforcement.

For example, in a place like Texas, they can go in whether someone has committed any crimes during their time in the United States since they illegally immigrated to the U.S. or if they haven't, they can kick them out either way. And that is going to be a major difference between the policy of the Obama administration and Donald Trump. And I think a lot of his critics are going to say that's not compassionate.

BLITZER: That's a question still unanswered. All right. Everyone, stand by.

Coming up we're getting some new information as investigators look into the killing of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's brother. Did the attackers use a new kind of poison?


[17:51:25] BLITZER: There's new information on the investigation into the murder of Kim Jong-un's brother, but there are also still lots of questions about how he died and why. CNN's Brian Todd has been digging into this for us. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, officials in Kuala Lumpur where Kim Jong-nam died have ruled out one possible cause of death. They say that he did not die of a heart attack. They also say they have found no signs of puncture wounds, but that leaves open several possibilities. And tonight, experts are pointing to the strong possibility that a toxin was smeared in his face.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the mystery of Kim Jong-un's brother's death is deepening. After being attacked at the Kuala Lumpur airport, Kim Jong-nam didn't die of a heart attack, according to Malaysia's top health official. As for the possibility of external wounds --

DR. NOOR HISHAM ABDULLAH, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, MALAYSIA HEALTH MINISTRY: Nothing obvious for us to suggest any puncture marks or wounds.

TODD (voice-over): No puncture marks, what does it mean?

DR. VICTOR WEEDN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: This is a direct absorption into the body and that can be fairly rapid. That can happen within the mouth, within the nose, or even in the eyes or underneath the eyelids.

TODD (voice-over): Dr. Victor Weedn is a forensic pathologist who's investigated hundreds of murders. South Korean officials have called Kim Jong-nam's death a murder. They say he was poisoned and they say Kim Jong-un's regime ordered the hit.

Dr. Weedn says the attackers could have used an agent that's hard to trace.

WEEDN: Maybe a new kind of nerve agent. There's these things called novichok agents that were designed by Russians to really keep labs from identifying the poison, and it could be one of those or some new agent that North Korea developed on their own.

TODD (voice-over): Surveillance video has captured the dramatic moment of attack, a woman appearing to come up from behind Kim at a crowded airport terminal and putting her hands in his face.

A key question tonight, if the North Koreans did this, why would they seemingly not care if at least five suspects, a woman in custody who was arrested and four North Korean men seen separately, had their faces clearly captured on surveillance?

JAMIE METZL, NONRESIDENT SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: It was a very strong statement to North Korean defectors and potential defectors that wherever you are, we can find you. And by doing it under the glare of security cameras inside of an airport, it was very clear that that message was going to get out all over the world.

TODD (voice-over): One of two women being held claimed she was duped, that she thought she was taking part in a reality T.V. stunt. As for the four North Korean men, the Malaysians say they quickly slipped out of the country.

MIKE BAKER, FORMER COVERT OPERATIONS OFFICER, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: They may well not survive for much longer, given how the North Korean leadership acts. They may just decide it's better to off them as well, just to close the loop.

TODD (voice-over): Another key question tonight, what was Kim Jong- un's goal if he ordered this attack?

METZL: If anybody is thinking about removing Kim Jong-un from power and maintaining the current system, they're going to need somebody from the Kim family to assume the role of top leader. And the more that Kim Jong-un can eliminate any possible pretenders to the throne, the stronger of a position he'll be in. .


TODD: But tonight, there is still considerable doubt about Kim's hold on power. Analysts point out the numbers of executions and defections from North Korea have increased, and Kim Jong-un recently fired one of his top lieutenants, the Minister of State Security, who was responsible for Kim's own security. So there is still considerable palace intrigue inside Pyongyang which could have fueled the assassination of Kim's brother, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting.

[17:55:00] Coming up, the Trump administration comes out with a plan to crack down on illegal immigration. It says the objective is not mass deportation but says a million people could go. What about the so-called DREAMers who came to America as children?


BLITZER: Happening now, deportation targets. The Trump administration reveals its priorities for toughening enforcement of immigration laws. Who will be kicked out? Who will be spared as the President tries to make good on his promised crackdown?

[17:59:55] Hate and response. The President delivers his first public condemnation of rising threats against the Jewish community after visiting the new African-American History Museum. He's now warning against bigotry and intolerance of all kinds. I'll get reaction from the head of the NAACP