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Trump Receives Praise, Criticism in Honoring War Hero's Wife; Top Officials Asks Trump to Remove Iraq from Travel Ban Executive Order; Can American Afford Trump's Proposed $1 Trillion Infrastructure Spending. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[14:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just spoke to tour great General Mattis just now, who confirmed that, and I quote, "Ryan was the part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy."

Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERING)

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TRUMP: And Ryan is looking down right now -- you know that -- and he's very happy because I think he just broke a record.

(LAUGHTER)

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TRUMP: Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom. And we will never forget Ryan.

(APPLAUSE)

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BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump has been praised by many who say that he rightfully took time from his speech to step away from the podium and direct the chamber to honor Karin Owens' sacrifice, but his critics say he exploited Owens, diverting attention from the questions that remain about the raid that resulted in his death.

I want to bring in Mary Katharine Ham. She's a CNN political commentator, a senior writer for "The Federalist."

And, Mary Katharine, many of our viewers who watch you all through the election likely did not know you've been mourning your husband, Jake, who died suddenly in September of 2015, and it's with that perspective in mind that you tweeted last night a defense of Karin Owens' appearance. I want to talk to you about that, but first, I just want to know what you were thinking as you were watching this moment.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I was just re- watching it, and it's really powerful. She's such an inarguably tough woman. It's an honor to watch her, even to go through something so heartbreaking. She does it in such a beautiful way. And I actually thought as I was sitting watching it, I thought, I know that black dress, know that deep breath, and I know looking up to the ceiling. And I don't know Mrs. Owens, but she is a woman who can make her own decisions and she's a woman who's grappling with, God willing, the worst that life will throw at her. And she made the decision to be there. And I didn't like the idea that she is only fit to be a prop. She can only be exploited by the president. There are -- we live in a political town. I'm a political creature. But there are some moments that do go beyond that, even when they are in a political venue. And I think this was one of those moments. And I think we should give it to ourselves as a nation and give it to her, because I would imagine, having been in a similar situation, where I was publicly grieving and had two young children, one that was unborn when my husband passed away, that she went there thinking there's going to be a nationally televised tribute to the man I love, who is a hero, who has children who need to know about him, and they're going to see this nation give him a standing ovation. And they're going to see the president of the United States honor him, and that that was apart from the politics, even of the raid itself, it was apart from the politics that moment, that was her moment to give to them.

KEILAR: There were some people who criticized President Trump. There were other people who criticized her. I'm sure you saw some of the response online to this. You said -- and to the point you just made, you said, on Twitter, "Maybe a widow raising three children knows how important it is to keep his name and memory alive, and that this moment is bigger than Trump or you." And you also tweeted a Bible verse. You tweeted Proverbs 31:25. Tell us about that.

HAM: That's my family's signature or adopted verse, which is, "She's clothed with strength and dignity and lasts without fear of the future." And it's something that after Jake's death, having two daughters, I decided is something that would animate the rest of our lives, and I wanted to pass it on to her if at all helpful.

You know, in these moments, I do think we get so wrapped up in what each side is saying and what side we're supposed to be on, and this was a moment where you can let that go for a second.

By the way, it's really important to us, in a national space, and for the commander-in-chief, for instance, who send people in battle to recognize these are the actual people who do that, and these are the people who pay the price, and the families of the fallen, many of whom I know -- my husband was not military, but I know many of them and Gold Star families who are incredibly dignified, and know the cost of freedom in a way that many of us will never have to. And to see that is important as a nation because not that many of us are connected though those losses in a real deep way. [14:35:38] KEILAR: Mary Katharine Ham, thank you so much.

And I also just want to say, as you talk about how important it is to recognize the contributions of her husband, I would just like to say that your husband, Jake Brewer, widely beloved by friends and family, you talked a lot about that in the days following his death, and we want to add that.

Thank you so much.

HAM: By the way, it was important to know, President Obama, that I often didn't agree with in the past, honored him. But that moment was apart from my political life and my life, and that's as it should be, and as it should be for her.

KEILAR: Yeah. There are things beyond politics that are priorities, and I think for you going through something like that, really crystallizes that in a way you hope most people don't ever learn to understand.

Mary Katharine Ham, thank you very much.

HAM: Thank you. Prayers for her and her family.

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[14:40:56] KEILAR: Breaking news at CNN. As the Trump administration looks to change its executive order, known widely as the travel ban, against seven majority Muslim countries, we're just learning that there's a lack of consensus about all the countries that are going to be on the list. According to our reporting, coming into us from Elise Labott and Evan Perez, at CNN, there are a few top officials who do not want Iraq to be included. That includes the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and the president's new national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. They've made a request, according to sources, to take Iraq off of this list according to diplomatic reasons. We're going to have some more information on that as we get more information on this breaking story.

Some more breaking news that we're following, President Trump's new travel ban -- sorry. This is what we were just talking about. It made lists - it may drop Iraq from this list. Again, James Mattis, Rex Tillerson and director of national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, are pushing to have Iraq exempt.

Now we're going to take a look at some of what President Trump addressed last night. He covered a number of topics in his address to the joint session of Congress. Let's listen.

All right. Where are we going?

OK. Sorry for the confusion.

We're going to talk a little bit more about this with our guest Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney for Georgia's middle district. Michael, you've heard this breaking news. We don't know for sure that

Iraq is going to come off of the list. There's been an argument by some folks who have said, why is Iraq on there, because there's been such a big U.S. Footprint in the country, that American officials are very familiar with the people who are coming in and out of Iraq, and this really isn't a danger. So if Iraq is yanked from the list, is this going to make it harder for opponents to challenge the ban?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER GEORGIA U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, I don't know that it makes it harder to be challenged. I think it's indicative that it was put together in a sloppy fashion to start with. They made - the trump administration has made the argument all along that we had to move so fast, that there was no good rollout of the program with the agencies who were tasked with the enforcement of the travel ban, somehow it needed to go quick because we didn't want to put people on notice that there would be this open period of time that people could come into the country. And so now they pick out which groups they want to leave on or which groups can be affected by the ban. In the long run, it shows they're pace moving to try to get something out.

If you watch his speech last night, he likes to politic as if he's still campaigning and he governs like he's campaigning. He ticks off things he promises to do and he plans to have kept, and this is one of those things. He talked the campaign about a Muslim ban. I think if you look at it, it's all he's trying to do here. I think the truth is, if he went down and built a sandcastle on the banks of the Rio Grande, he would claim he had started the wall, and really, he's trying to move out quickly a subjective order.

KEILAR: To that point, if he were to make certain changes to try to avoid a constitutional challenge, if he were to exclude explicitly green cardholders and those with existing visas, is that something that makes it more resistant to a challenge?

[14:44:51] MOORE: I think it probably helps in the challenge. But, again, he argues that he uses the same challenge that Obama's administration used. Now he's picking and choosing. He's arguing that we had to do it in a fast fashion because there are problems out there. Now he's delayed it to try to make it comply with the court challenge that's been laid out in the state of Washington. You know, I anticipate it will be very likely that this order will be challenged, too. And it will be interesting to see whether it rescinds or makes the previous order mute for purposes of the court action out on the west coast.

KEILAR: Initially, you had the president saying he was planning at least to sign this new travel ban. Today, the White House postponed the signing, in part, it appears to avoid really letting his speech last night breathe. It was very well received. So that that clearly seems to be a move that they want to let resonate in his speech to Congress. But does the rollout delay undercut his argument that this ban is urgent for national security reasons?

MOORE: It does. That's what I was saying. You remember with the first rollout, it was so poorly implemented and poorly planned. We had people working at the airports who didn't know how to effectuate the order. They hadn't been trained to put in place the security provisions that the order called for. And so now that he's sort of laid it out. We've had no incidences, thank goodness. We've had no problems with national security events or threats in the past few weeks. I think it does undercut his argument somewhat. And I think what it shows is he's trying to follow through on something he talked about from the campaign stuff and I think that probably subjects it to some scrutiny. I think at the same time, you'll hear some of the scrutiny about comments that he made while he was on the campaign trail. He talks specifically about a Muslim ban, and that probably is how this order will be seen. You know, we're picking and choosing. For crying out loud, he wants to take Iraq off the list of people when there are plenty of people in Iraq -- we obviously thought there was a big enough problem to go to war at some point. Now he wants to take it off because there's been pushback. The use of executive power has to withstand constitutional scrutiny and pushback from public perception. And I don't think he's done a very good job at moving the orders through to withstand that.

KEILAR: And just to be clear, our reporting that we have here at CNN is the defense secretary, the secretary of state, and his new national security adviser do want Iraq taken off of that list, and we're continuing to follow that order.

MOORE: Yes.

KEILAR: Michael Moore, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being with us.

MOORE: Glad to be with you. Thank you.

KEILAR: Yes, we really do appreciate it.

President Trump's $1 trillion plan to spend big on infrastructure, that is next. Will Republican members of Congress support it. We'll be discussing that.

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[14:52:18] KEILAR: $1 trillion -- that is not an exaggeration -- that is a cost estimate for what the president said he would like to fund major infrastructure improvements across the U.S.

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TRUMP: To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States, financed through both finance and public capital, creating millions of new jobs.

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KEILAR: But can America afford this?

Let's pose this question to CNN business correspondent, Richard Quest.

Is this even feasible, Richard? RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, QUEST MEANS

BUSINESS: Oh, it's perfectly feasible, and it's probably desirable. And if you noticed last night when he was talking about the infrastructure spending, it was one of the few parts of the speech that had bipartisan sort of applause and almost standing ovations. So, yes, everybody agrees that the bridges, the tunnels, the roads, the airports, the air terminals, they all need a fortune spending of them and, yes, the money is there. The question is how you leverage it. And what the president said last night which was particularly interesting was this notion of the public/private partnership, how the government puts a certain amount in. The private industry, private enterprise puts the rest in, and there are 1,001 different ways that you can structure it. But it's very much the policy du jour that you have, private/public partnerships for infrastructure.

KEILAR: Would your expectation be -- even though some of the money would be coming from the private sector, but is your expectation that he's putting out a big number, and then he might march back from that a little bit so that it's not actually $1 trillion?

QUEST: No. And I think you've all got to -- I think we've all got to stop being frightened of these big numbers. The reason I say that, Brianna, you're talking about an economy that's $15 trillion, $16 trillion, $17 trillion in size, so if you're going to repair the infrastructure of the United States, you're not going to do it for $1 billion. You know the old saying, $1 billion here, $1 billion there, LaGuardia, that's a $1 billion project in its own right. If you're going to do a major bridge, you're going to do it for $1 billion much. When he said $1 trillion plus, I thought it was an eye-watering number, but in an economy, $16 trillion, $17 trillion, that's probably pulling it in the right perspective. The only problem, Brianna, is you don't find it in the teapot on a mantelpiece.

[14:55:12] KEILAR: You don't find it in a teapot, or even in the U.S., in a coffeepot, which would --

(LAUGHTER)

Which would be more likely. Sorry, I had to poke fun of you, Richard.

So, I know you're watching the market. The Dow is up about 350, 350 points. This is a day after the speech. I see the surge. Does he get credit it for it?

QUEST: Two reasons. First of all, Trump bump. Absolutely. He gets a lot of credit. Secondly, Bill Dudley, the president of the New York Fed, said in an interview with yours truly here, said in an interview that the reason for U.S. rates going up have become more compelling. In other words, rates are going up. That tells you that the economy is sound. Add in Donald Trump's trillion dollars, the prospect of tax cuts, you end up -- the economy -- the market took a breather yesterday. It just took a pause. It literally took a little short breath. And now it's back on again. I was down at the exchange this morning, and the mood is one to push this market higher.

KEILAR: I love how you describe it as this living, breathing entity. QUEST: It is. It is. It is.

KEILAR: Richard Quest --

QUEST: Markets are the mass of people that are making movements. So it is very much a living, breathing, eating animal.

KEILAR: Richard Quest, thank you so much.

Just ahead, this is a moment that's gone viral. CNN's Van Jones says one moment last night made Donald Trump presidential. Most fellow Democrats do not agree with that. We have Van and Angela Rye to join me, live, to debate.

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