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Bannon, Priebus Make Rare Public Remarks at CPAC; Trump Labels Immigration Raids, Deportations as "Military Operations; Trump Talks Human Trafficking; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired February 23, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you're going to see that more and more and it's a very dangerous precedent set. I frankly I would say to Betsy DeVos after all the hell you went through to get yourself confirmed, stand up and use your voice, be you.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think to some point Trump may have resented media's reaction to that. I agree with you.
My concern is the Rex Tillerson issue. If you're Donald Trump and saying I'm going to pick the best people, whether it's the private sector or public sector, and then you have a radical shift one versus two-state solutions with regard to Palestine, and Rex Tillerson isn't even in on this, once you pick him, he should be informed in policy. Betsy DeVos should be involved in policy. He has the most disempowered cabinet we have seen --
NAVARRO: That's not going to work though, Marc, when you have folks like General Mattis, General Kelly, the new national security adviser, there's some people you don't push around, I don't think --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But they are furious. I've been doing some reporting on this. This does not sit well with the secretary of state. What I've been told is these guys ought to figure out how to spend more time with the president and how he makes decisions because you want to be the one whispering in his ear.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Why aren't they?
BORGER: Because they have jobs to do.
BORGER: Mattis is overseas so it's difficult to get in the room with the president. It's not so difficult for Steve Bannon or Jared Kushner.
BALDWIN: Ben, you wanted to jump in? NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Congress, right? Congress are the people who have to enact this massive push in terms of getting the wall built, repealing and replacing Obamacare, I think we do have a vision from Bannon today this idea of economic nationalism but there's no sort of blueprint for an agenda to get what they want to do through Congress and I think Congress very hope. Republicans on the Hill are very hopeful that folks in the cabinet would be the adults in the room but to see them sidelined in some ways I think sends a signal to Congress. They in fact in some ways feel they have been sidelined too and go out to their districts. And they're the ones facing these very vocal opponents are they doing their job around Obamacare and what's their plan? And so I think we saw a good moment in terms of P.R. and kumbaya and but moving forward there's still a lot of unanswered questions and uneasiness among Republicans.
BALDWIN: I'm glad you brought up the town halls. I didn't hear anything substantive on town halls.
NAVARRO: Because the entire purpose of this because everything is peaches and cream everything is a bed of roses --
NAVARRO: -- and that's what friends are for. And don't worry everything you're seeing in the media is all fabricated.
BALDWIN: Ben Ferguson jump in.
Ben Ferguson, it's your turn. I keep hearing that you want to jump in and I'm hearing no Ben Ferguson. Try it again.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice-over): I was going to say we are 30 days into this I just have to say speaking to the White House, and recently spoken to Donald Trump the perception being put out there is not the reality. This White House, yes, may operate differently than other White House staff. It is not chaotic. That's the first thing, there are people trying to make things bigger than they are. What you just saw on stage is very accurate to how this White House is working behind the scenes, and I don't think that this is anything close to how people are saying that it is or trying to imply they're having a hard time getting things done or communication issues. Now saw those two men on TV when most sources are saying there was a rift between them, what you saw was two individuals working not just together, they're working well together. They may not do things the way people expect them to do it at the White House, they may not do it the way other White House have done it but this idea there's a power struggle or people are begging and pleading for time with the president is just not accurate. The people I know have had no time talking with president and talk about policy with him especially those in cabinet positions, that's just not accurate to what's going on behind the scenes. (CROSSTALK)
NAVARRO: But there's questions on what's happening outside the White House in America. There are protests going on practically every day of the week right now, town halls getting very rowdy, I think Republicans are running a great risk denying what's happening telling themselves these are paid protesters. They're not I go to the super market, gas station, people stop me and say, when is Marco Rubio going to have a town hall when is Congressman such and such going to have a town hall. These are real constituents arising. People have awoken and we can't keep shutting our eyes to it.
[14:35:33] BALDWIN: Let me hit pause on that conversation.
We're talking to one of the women who stood up and asked a question to Tom Cotton. That's in a second.
But news. Let me read this. The White House, we are just hearing just into us, labelling immigration raids and deportations as, quote, unquote, "military operations." I want to play the president's comments from a roundtable with the CEOs this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's happening at the border, all a sudden, for the first time, we're getting gang members out, drug lords out, really bad dudes out of this country. And at a rate nobody has ever seen before. And they're the bad ones. And it's a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country when you see gang violence that you have read about like never before, much of that is people that are here illegally and they're rough and tough, but not tough like our people, so we're getting them out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The White House says, yep, that's exactly what the president meant, simply it's an adjective, but a lot of people are saying not so fast.
Barbara Starr, there are specific laws that actually classify military operations. Do deportations fit that bill?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, not in this circumstance, by any stretch. The president, you know, he may have been being conversational in some sense the White House spokesperson saying he was describing the orderly process under way right now in his view for the removal of illegal immigrants in the country but not a military operation not by any stretch an those are words that make military commanders squeamish, this is up to local police departments the FBI, everything but the U.S. military unless there's a massive declared crisis. So let me just say give everybody a little lesson in law. And I'm no lawyer, but there's something called Title 10 in federal law. It's for a very specific reason and Title 10 basically sets out the standards, the laws the regulations the way in which the U.S. military conducts operations and largely conducts operations overseas.
So, again, the spokesman for the White House says the president was just describing the orderly process going on but the president did use the word military operation, and it is not by any stretch a military operation. In fact, a short time ago the secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, a former Marine general himself, said that U.S. military forces would not be used in immigration operations -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: OK. Thank you for the necessary clarification at the Pentagon.
Barbara, thank you very much.
The president, get the bad dudes out of the country, get the bad ones, it's a military operation. Maybe he didn't technically mean it with the men and women in uniform. Sean Spicer yesterday saying it's -- to define what a crime is use this kind of language.
BORGER: I think in trying to read Donald Trump's mind --
LAMONT HILL: Good luck.
BORGER: Which is not easy. Maybe he's referring to the 10-15 thousand border agents they're going to have to hire at a cost of millions and millions of dollars to enforce immigration laws. And that is I think maybe, I have no idea, what he was talking about. Again, they're not the military. They would be border enforcement people.
BORGER: So they're not, to Barbara Starr's point, not military --
NAVARRO: Let's be real, we have a president and commander-in-chief who really doesn't have much experience or knows how the government works. I think that when John Kelly, retired general John Kelly, says there will be no military involvement, he runs the department. You have go to a John McCain, chair of Armed Services Committee, good luck trying to get the militarization of immigration through John McCain.
BALDWIN: Ben, what do you think? Military operation?
[14:40:04] FERGUSON: I think you're going to have some roadblocks. There are obviously people that are going to try to fight him on everything he does. And he has a mandate and part of his plan and he's going to figure out a way to do it even a great example how he was struck down by the courts on this first thing, he's willing as a deal maker to go back and re-do the deal, standing here at CPAC, the people who elected him don't think it's not going well, they don't think he's going to hit a roadblock and disappear. Donald Trump is a fighter and there's a lot of RINO Republicans that care about defeating him. I don't think he's going to be defeated easily and he says he's going to deliver on these things and he will continue to do it. And the people who elected him is who he is fighting hard for right now. He'll probably be successful.
Everybody keeps undermining him and he implying he's not going to get it done, the same people who said he wasn't going to win the election, the same exact people who said they were going to vote for Hillary Clinton. He's the president of the United States of America and he has an agenda and is going to get it done.
LAMONT HILL: A lot will get done and much won't get done and it's because of the people of this country. When you say, you're going to have military operations, it's just not true, just not accurate. But the White House doubles down with it and h says something wild they're saying he's being hyperbolic, that's danger not because of the technical specifics of whether it's legal or not although it's important but because it reflects an attitude how you treat the immigration problem, if you treat people as violent offenders but when you frame them as the bunch --
BALDWIN: The fear issue we keep hearing from people. The White House says one thing --
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Ben.
FERGUSON: You look at the number of those affected in the recent days and weeks, the majority are people who actually had criminal records. If you talk to people in law enforcement.
FREGUSON: My father is in law enforcement. They have a list of people that have broken laws and that's the priority.
BALDWIN: What laws?
FERGUSON: Law enforcement has made it very clear that they're going to go after people who have committed crimes and that's their top priority and some of it is flat-out fear mongering, instead of the issue, which is, if you're in this country illegally and break our laws and you are criminal in this country, that is their priority to right now.
NAVARRO: The devil is in the details here. How do you describe crime? What's criminal activity?
NAVARRO: Nobody is going to advocate that a rapist a murderer stay in this country. I hope they get fully punished and then we get rid of them. But is running a red light a crime? Is DUI a crime? (CROSSTALK)
FERGUSON: I would say DUI is a crime.
NAVARRO: I think, is selling a little pot when you were a teenager? Right now, Ben, I can tell you there's a lot of parents, a lot of hardworking people that are not criminals that have gotten picked up. Mixed families maybe one who is undocumented one who is a U.S. citizen. There are going to be U.S. citizen children left fatherless or motherless in this country.
FERGUSON: Hold on, hold on.
NAVARRO: They're getting picked up who are not hardened criminals.
FERGUSON: There has to be some responsibility for your actions. When you choose to put your family in harm's way and your children harm's way by breaking the laws of any country in the world you are not a victim, you chose to put yourself in that situation. The second thing that scares me a moment ago, when you basically acted how if someone who gets a DUI is not a major offender. I was hit by a drunk driver and thankfully I wasn't hurt, but he died. There's people watching that would say, if you're in this country illegally and you get caught with a DUI, and killed a family of an American citizen or an illegal immigrant, for that matter, that's a major crime, you deserve to be kicked out.
NAVARRO: So, but we don't know the definition of crime yet under the new executive order.
BORGER: That's the points. That's the point.
NAVARRO: Listen, if the act of crossing the border illegally or staying here is illegally is defined as a crime and then 11 million people are going to be defined as criminals without a legal recourse and good luck trying to run this nation with a gaping hole of 11 million people who have been working and contributing and making this a better country.
[14:45:18] FERGUSON: And I would say good luck running a country with open borders and can't keep track of the 11 million here undocumented. That's why Trump won the election. When you decided to go against Trump and went for Hillary Clinton, more people sided with him on this issue and said it was important to them.
NAVARRO: Actually, less people three million less people and no, they were not undocumented.
BORGER: Here's my point. If you read the executive order -- the question people are raising is this mass deportation but just undercover? Will it eventually become a mass deportation? If coming in illegally is the crime then everybody who came in illegally is a criminal, to Ana's point. Who has the discretion to define what is a crime?
BORGER: On a case by case basis by border agents? Does it vary state to state?
BORGER: We don't know the answers to those so you can understand people who are here and have families are worried because they don't even know.
BALDWIN: No, I talked to a Dreamer, she said I feel like my mother is a criminal in Texas even though despite the fact they don't want to deport --
Nia, let me bring you back in.
HENDERSON: Police officers also worried about being caught up in this and are they going to be seen if you are an undocumented immigrant are they going to be seen as an enemy now, if you're a police officer you need the cooperation of everybody in any community in terms of reporting crimes, being witnesses, and they have concerns too being caught up in the idea there's a military force to use President Trump's words. And I do think, again, I think we're going to see the reverberations of this today we had Mexican leaders lecture the United States about human rights, which is not something that happens. It's usually the U.S. That's lecturing other countries about human rights violations, so this is going to have I think reverberate in many ways not only in these individual communities, but certainly in terms of our relationship with Mexico as well.
BALDWIN: Let me ask all of you to stand by.
BALDWIN: Hang on I've got to sneak a quick commercial break in.
Also waiting to hear from Sean Spicer in the White House daily briefing. Might he react? He might be questioned on what just what happened at CPAC between Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon? That happens any moment. Quick break. Back in a flash.
[14:52:28] BALDWIN: Some sound in from the president. Let's roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you everybody. Very nice. Nice to see you.
Well, I want to thank Dina, Ivanka, and everybody for working so hard to set this up. It's been so important to them. And I want to make it clear today that my administration will focus on ending the absolutely horrific traffic of human trafficking. And I am prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government to the federal and at the federal level and the other highest levels, whatever we can do, in order to solve this horrific problem, getting worse and it's happening in the United States. In addition to the rest of the world, but it's happening in the United States, which is terrible. Human trafficking is a dire problem both domestically and internationally and one that's made really a challenge and made possible to a large extent more of a modern phenomenon by what's taking place on the Internet, as you probably know. Solving the human trafficking epidemic which is what it is, is a prior to for my administration. We're going to help out a lot. Solve is a wonderful word, beautiful word but will help a lot. I will direct the Department of Justice, Homeland Security and other agencies that have a role in human trafficking to take a hard look at their personnel they're devoting to this fight that we're going to be fighting more. Dedicated men and women across the federal government have focused for this for some time as you know, a lot of you have been dealing with the federal government and it's been much more focused over the last four weeks, I can tell you that.
I cannot tell you how much getting everybody together was terrific. Glad to have you here. You start with a tremendous amount of energy, blood, sweat and tears. Government can be helpful but without you, nothing would happen.
So again, I want to thank everybody in this room. It's a very, very terrible problem. It's not talked about enough. People don't know enough about it and we're going to talk about it, bring it out to the open, and hopefully, do a great deal to deal with some of the horrific crimes taking place. People don't realize that it's happening in this country, but all over the world.
So thank you very much for being here. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:55:33] BALDWIN: The president publicly condemning human trafficking. A number of CEOs, also the two roundtables. Note, his daughter Ivanka was at the roundtable.
But on our massive discussion on deportation, we just got news in, from U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly saying after being in Mexico and meeting with his counterpart down in Mexico, quoting him, "Let me be very, very clear, there will be no, repeat, no mass deportations." And adding after we heard President Trump saying it was a military operation with regard to immigration, which by the way, it's not a military operation at all, technically speaking, Kelly said this, "No repeat, no use of military force in immigration operations, none, yes, we'll approach this operation, none. We'll approach this operation systemically, in an organized way, and a results oriented way, and operation way, and a human dignity way."
But, Gloria, you made the point earlier when talking about CPAC, is the left hand talk to go the right hand?
BORGER: Yeah, sometimes I think what happens with Donald Trump is that he talks and misspeaks and he misspoke. And you don't want to say well the president misspoke. You want to talk around it.
BALDWIN: The White House says the president did not misspeak.
NAVARRO: Does he never miss anything.
BORGER: Maybe he means the people they need the hire, the thousands and thousands of border patrol officers and additional law enforcement, et cetera, but that's not military, so you heard it from General Kelly. I think you can take his word for it since he's going to be running the operation. And I think the president simply misspoke.
NAVARRO: I know John Kelly quite well. He was stationed in Miami, the head of Southern Command. He knows what the affect would be, the global effect. We don't just do things in a vacuum, in Latin America, neighbors to the south of mass deportation, to the economy, to gang violence, it would compound the problem, make it a bigger tea kettle just boiling away down there. And he understands that. If anybody brings that unique perspective, it is John Kelly, who has been working with governments down there, with the military down there, conducting joint operations for years. I think that unique experience he brings is going to be invaluable in this new job.
BALDWIN: Ben what do you think?
BALDWIN: Sorry, sorry, forgive me, Sean Spicer and the White House.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You ready, John?
Whenever you're ready we're kicking off.
I actually -- I was thinking about not doing a briefing today, and then I saw Reince Priebus on (ph) CSPAN give that talk, and I thought they were infringing on my ratings, so we figured it out. We had to do something to keep up our record.
It's been another busy day today. This morning after receiving his daily intelligence briefing, the president welcomes some of the world's top business and manufacturing leaders to the White House to continue the administration's effort to engage with the private sector to create jobs and expand opportunities for America's workers.
The 24 CEOs spent the morning in working sessions with the vice president, cabinet members and key aides and came together with the president to brief him on their discussions and recommendations.
The group discussed the need to roll back burdensome regulations that stifling economic growth, the CEOs take the president for the actions that he's already taken to address the issue - the issues and the president pledged to do even more, both through executive - the executive branch and by working with congress to pass legislation that will help further economic growth and job creation.
The business leaders recommended that the administration take a multifaceted approach to tax and trade policies including tax reform, toward which Secretary Mnuchin said that progress is continuing to be made.