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Battle Over Trump's Wall Threatens To Shut Down Government; Trump, Democrats, and GOP All Unpopular; U.S. Sends Nuclear Sub To Korean Peninsula; Trump "Never Realized How Big" A Job the Presidency Is; Obama: "What's Been Going On While I've Been Gone?". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 24, 2017 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:01] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, will the president shut down the entire government over his border wall, a wall he promised Mexico would pay for? Confusing signals from the White House tonight. Plus, the president admits he never realized how big the job is. After 95 days is finally sinking in. And the president tells an astronaut tonight better you than me and wait until you hear what he was talking about, got to say he's right. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, President Donald Trump between a wall and a hard place. With the government shutdown looming in the final countdown to his 100-day marker, it all comes down to the wall. Will Trump shut down the government if democrats refuse to fund his border wall? If you listen to Trump's Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the answer to that question is yes.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The president has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall. So I would suspect he'll do the right thing for sure, but I will suspect he will be insistent on the funding.


BURNETT: Insistent on the funding. Democrats though say they will not play ball. The democratic leader in the senate, Chuck Schumer calls the wall "a pointless waste of taxpayer money. And today, on that point, taxpayer funded, this simple but important question from our Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sean, on the wall, why is there even discussion about shutting down the government over paying for the wall? Isn't Mexico supposed to pay for the wall?

SPICER: Well, I think, Jim, the president has made very clear that initially we needed to get the funding going and there's should be several mechanisms to make sure that that happens. That funding piece will happen in due time.

ACOSTA: That is a promise the president made during the campaign.

SPICER: I understand.


ACOSTA: -- Mexico would pay for the wall.

SPICER: Right.

ACOSTA: And now we're having a discussion that the government might shut down over the wall and who is going to pay for it.

SPICER: Right.


BURNETT: Now, the president himself then went of course on Twitter to say that Mexico will pay, but he put an important caveat on it. And here he is. Eventually - but at a later date. So, we can get started early. Mexico will be paying in some form for the badly needed border wall. OK. What this means right now is that we the taxpayers are paying for the wall if democrats approve the funding. And the bottom line is that a taxpayer funded wall is a broken promise.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will build a great wall along the southern border. And Mexico will pay for the wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall. The American people will not pay for the wall.


BURNETT: Except for, we are going to pay for the wall. The wall showdown happening as the president tries to produce a major accomplishment before his first 100 days in the office. Jason Carroll begins our coverage OUTFRONT at the White House. And Jason, when it comes to this wall, we're on the verge of a nasty battle.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Battle indeed. When you consider, you've heard it repeatedly, there were presidents saying that Mexico will pay for the wall and that U.S. taxpayers will get reimbursed for it eventually. Democrats not believing that, saying U.S. taxpayers are going to get hit with this bill, that's why you got the White House working behind the scenes trying to work with the house, trying to work with the senate, trying to get some sort of deal made.

Having said that, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says at the end of the - at the end of the day, he believes a deal will be reached and a government shutdown will be avoided. As President Trump closes in on 100 days in office, his administration is setting up a showdown over funding for a border wall.

SPICER: The president's priorities have been very clear from the beginning. CARROLL: The president tweeting today the wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth and many others. Congress has until Friday to approve a spending bill and avoid a government shutdown. The administration is pushing to include $1.4 billion for the wall as part of that measure.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It will be up to congress to pass it and if the democrats filibuster that and block it, they are the ones shutting the whole government down just to keep the wall from being built.

CARROLL: Democrats say funding for the wall is a nonstarter.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: To think he would consider shutting down the government of the United States of America over this outlandish proposal of a border wall, which we can't pay for at this point, and is opposed by democrats and republicans all along the border, that would be the height of irresponsibility.

CARROLL: Even some republicans on the hill are suggesting the party cannot risk a shutdown over the wall.

SEN. MARC RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: The last thing we can afford is to send a message to the world that the United States government by the way is only partially functioning.

CARROLL: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today sounded an optimistic note about the prospects for a deal.

SPICER: We feel very confident that they understand the president's priorities and it will come to an agreement by the end of Friday.

CARROLL: On day 95 of his presidency, the president finds himself with the lowest approval ratings at this stage for any president since 1945. Yet, a yet Washington Post, ABC news poll finds that 96 percent of Trump supporters stand by their vote. The White House is aiming to show progress on a number of points this week with the president teasing an announcement Wednesday on tax reform and an administration official telling CNN that lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent as Trump promised during the campaign is under consideration. The White House also rolling out a list of 100-day accomplishments, though many are the result of executive actions taken by the president.

SPICER: I don't think there's any question that the president has done a significant amount for the American people on the issues that he has put forward during the campaign.

CARROLL: And a little bit more about the corporate tax rate cut and how that's going to be paid for, treasury secretary says that will be paid for through economic expansion. A little bit more about the president on what he's going to be up to tonight. He is going to be meeting with senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two people as you know, Erin, who have been very critical of the president during the past, but when you are president trying to get so much approved before this 100-day mark, you need all the support you can get. Erin? BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Jason. And I want to go OUTFRONT now to Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. Chairman of the democratic senatorial campaign committee and a member of the budget ranking committees. All of this obviously right in the center of your zone. Is there any situation where you would vote for a bill that allows funding temporary or not funding, whatever it is, funding this week, the border wall?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D) CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: No, Erin. I won't because it's a total waste of taxpayer money. Even the security experts tell us that is not a smart way to defend the border. So we're all for border security, but we're not for wasting taxpayer dollars. And as you pointed out throughout the Campaign, you had Candidate Donald Trump beating his chest saying he's going to let - require Mexico to pay for this and of course the Mexicans have told him to take a hike. So we're not going to ask the American people to foot the bill for a wall that's a waste of money. So border security is fine. Wasting taxpayer dollars on a wall, no.

BURNETT: So, you know, the president just said in an interview that if the wall stops one percent of the drugs, he said just one percent it will pay for itself. By the way, he says he's going to cost $10 billion, that's less than half of the public estimates. Are you willing to shut the government down over this or are you willing to allow some kind of vague, you said you support border security, amount for border security but then he kind of goes wink, wink, nod, nod and uses for the wall.

VAN VOLLEN: No, Erin. Let's be really clear. It's -- President Trump, who would use tweets and sending out the secretary of homeland security and the OMB Director who is threatening to shut down the government if he doesn't get hit way on the wall. We're about three- quarters of the way through the current fiscal year. We didn't have any funding for the wall in that bill. The president can look to the next year if he wants to fight this out, but to threaten to shut down the government and let's be really clear, you know, republicans have the White House, they have both houses of congress, I think it's going to be a big mistake for them to shut down the government because the president couldn't get Mexico to pay for the wall. I mean, go down south of the border once again and try again. But he told the American people that we wouldn't have to waste our money on the wall.

BURNETT: So look, he deals a lot of pressure right now because of this 100-day marker which he himself have said it's so important even though now he says it isn't. He clearly cares about it. And I'm sure you've seen, Senator, the Washington Post pulled up his approval rating at the lowest levels at this point in the president since 1945. All right. But there the gloating for democrats may end because it had some really bad news in it for you all too.

It shows only 28 percent of the Americans think the democrat party is in touch. I mean, that's a pretty abysmal number. And those numbers by the way are worse than the numbers for Trump on being out of touch or for republicans. It's the worst for democrats. And you're here as the person responsible for getting more democrats elected to the senate. Did it shock you to see these numbers this morning? VAN VOLLEN: I was concerned about the numbers. Look, the American

public I think is fed up with the process overall, but as you indicated, Donald Trump ran saying he was going to come to Washington, he was going to make these great deals, he was going to make things work. Instead of making a deal here, he's giving everybody this ultimatum. He sounds like an extortionist, threatening to shut down the government if he doesn't get hit way on this. That is not the art of the deal. I mean, the results of that will be a government shutdown.

BURNETT: Right. And I understand you're going back to that, but I want to get to the point though, 28 percent of the Americans think the Democratic Party is in touch. That is lower than the number who says that about Donald Trump or republicans. I mean, this is pretty stunning.

VAN VOLLEN: Well, I think you're going to see a turnaround in this. All I can tell you is when I'm out and about both in the State of Maryland and throughout the country, you're having a huge outpouring of grassroots support. You see it at town hall meetings, you've see it in the phone calls we're getting in congress, people do not want to turn back the clock on the progress we've made. What they want is for people to get together to try and solve problems and that's why it's so problematic but you've got the president right now threatening to shut down the government.

But look, he talked during the campaign. He talked during the campaign about modernizing our national infrastructure. That is something that has strong bipartisan support. Why not start with something like that rather than start out by trying to undo the Affordable Care Act and put millions of people in jeopardy and try to force through a wall under a government shutdown threats.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator Van Hollen. I appreciate your time tonight.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And Mark Preston is with me, our senior political analyst. All right. I want to start where we just finish off. Democrats don't have any answer. He's responsible for electing democrats to the senate. He is doing what I guess anybody in his position would try to do, turn it back to what he says as Donald Trump shutting down the government. Those numbers were abysmal for democrats.


BURNETT: And worse for democrats than they were for Donald Trump or for republicans.

PRESTON: Right now, I mean, if you look at those numbers too, it's almost 7 and 10 are saying that democrats are out of touch. I mean, we try to take the positive side. Sometimes we look at the poll numbers and say, almost 3 in 10 Americans, you know, believe that - believe that they're in touch. I mean, those are terrible numbers and for someone like Chris Van Hollen right there, he's got a very job. Not only does he have to try to get people elected in many ways, he has to try to protect democrats for the future right now. There are ten democratic incumbent senators in states that Trump won this past election.

BURNETT: Yes. So - I mean, so this whole -- it's a crucial question for him. And now they're trying to make this about the wall, but how big is this wall issue for Donald Trump right now? I mean, he's trying to say, oh, Mexico will pay for it eventually. This is a promise he made every single day.

PRESTON: I think he's going to catch up to him. Because when it comes down to funding priorities, if we're going to pay for the wall, what are we going to take away from and at some point you're going to start taking away from programs that actually effect people that supported Donald Trump eventually. And I think that that is going to start crystallize for people. The wall in many ways is just Trojan Horse in the sense that he has said that it is going to protect people from coming across the border. If they want to get across the border, they're going to get across the border. The question is, do you invest in technology and drones and quite frankly people on the ground to control the border.

BURNETT: Right. And of course now he's saying, oh, if it only stops one percent of the drugs, it pays for itself. I mean, it's all kinds of twisting and turning going around here, not a justifying mark. Thank you so much. And next, a U.S. nuclear submarine headed towards the North Korean peninsula tonight as North Korea abstains in detaining an American on North Korean soil. We're live at Pyongyang. Plus, President Trump's changing tone on WikiLeaks and this priceless moment from space.


PEGGY WHITSON, NASA ASTRONAUT: We also are cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable.

TRUMP: Better you than me.


BURNETT: Breaking news. tonight, the White House flexing new military might in the showdown with North Korea. A nuclear-powered sub packed with guided missiles now making its way to the Korean Peninsula, this comes as Pyongyang announced it's holding an American hostage. Will Ripley is the only western journalist in North Korea tonight and he's OUTFRONT.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He was just steps away from boarding a flight out of North Korea, but something happened at the Pyongyang airport and now an American citizen is in custody. This airport is one of the only ways in and out of North Korea, just a handful of flights pass through on any given week. It was here that North Korean authorities detained a man over the weekend as he was trying to board a flight out of the country.

Kim Sang-Duk who goes by Tony Kim had just finished teaching several weeks of teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution where foreign professors, including Americans, teach North Korean students. In a statement to CNN, the university says we understand this detention is related to an investigation into matters not connected in any way with the work of the university. Details of that investigation or any charges against Kim remain a mystery.

So far North Korea has stayed silent. Complicating matters, Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. All communications go through the Swedish embassy, which confirmed the CNN Kim's detention, but refused further comment. The U.S. State Department also says it's working on the case.

TONY KIM, KOREAN-AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Please. I have made the worst mistake of my life.

RIPLEY: Kim joins at least two other U.S. citizens also in North Korean custody. University of Virginia student, Otto Warmbier was on a sightseeing tour last year when he was accused of removing a political sign from a hotel wall. His sentence, 15 years hard labor. Kim Dong Chul is a naturalized U.S. citizen serving 10 years hard labor on spying charges. The status of both men, unknown. This apparent third detention of an American citizen comes on the heels of a new warning from the Pentagon after North Korea threatened to take out a U.S. aircraft carrier.

North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un unveiled never before seen missiles at The Day of the Sun military parade including two new ICBMs that could someday be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the mainland U.S. Despite rising tensions travel to North Korea continues as normal. More than 100 people boarded Monday's only flight from Beijing to Pyongyang including dozens of tourists. Tour companies organizing these trips say everyone will leave safely as long as they follow North Korean law.

But of course the detainment of this third American citizen shows there are no guarantees of going home when you come to North Korea. In fact, the state department urges Americans not to travel here saying they face the risk of excessive and harsh prosecution and detainment because this country right now is acting in a way that it considers itself at war with the United States. That complicates the situation for all three of those American detainees.

At least 15 Americans have been detained here in North Korea over the last decade, Erin and in the past, former director of National Intelligence James clapper and even Former President Bill Clinton traveled here personally to secure the release of other detainees. We'll have to see what happens in this case.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much. As we said, Will Ripley live in Pyongyang for us tonight. OUTFRONT now Former Governor Bill Richardson, also a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and energy secretary. Former Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, he also a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gordon Chang author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World. Ambassador, Will just mentioned 15 Americans detained in North Korea over the past decade. You have been in North Korea eight times, you personally help secure the release of three of those Americans. How should President Trump respond now that tonight we now know there is a new American detained?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, he should focus more on the prisoners. Maybe see the release of the three detainees. A negotiation, a humanitarian negotiation. As a path forward to start the dialogue, look, I think he has to make some of these military responses, the carrier, more sanctions obviously if they detonate You have been to North Korea eight times. You personally helped secure the release of three of those Americans. How should President Trump respond now that we know there is a new American detained?

He should focus more on the prisoners. Maybe see the release of the three detainees. A humanitarian negotiation. As a path forward to start a dialogue. I think he has to make some of these military responses, the carrier, more sanctions if they detonate. Cyber, all of that, but I've always found that at this time, first of all, the North Koreans, when things are very hot, they detain more Americans. They become bargaining chips and then the North Koreans want something in return.

A high-level visit, humanitarian aid. I think what we should do is be careful, play it cool, tone down the rhetoric. But at the same time start channels, diplomatic channels, private channels to try to get these three Americans out, especially Otto Warmbier who -- 21-year-old kid who's been there a year sentenced to 15 years for stealing a political banner.

BURNETT: Right. And of course, you know, it's 15 years in a hard prison labor camp. I mean, Gordon, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. today, Nikki Haley spoke about this and she said Kim Jong-Un is upping the ante, sort of what Governor Richardson was saying. Here she is.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR THE U.N.: Just by detaining a prisoner is one more way that he's trying to show his strength and it's not going to work.


BURNETT: Should the U.S. now be actively trying to free this American going to the - going to the mat for this and the other two who are there?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, we should always try to free Americans, but I have a little bit of lack of sympathy for somebody who ignores state department warnings and common sense and goes to North Korea. And the one thing I don't want to have happen is United States policy becoming hostage to these people because, you know, we are creating incentives for Kim Jong-un to grab Americans in the future because, you know, we used it in the past, you know, Bill Clinton, James Clapper, Jimmy Carter, all these people went to Pyongyang to secure their release and that means the North Koreans are going to grab more. So we got to stop this dynamic somehow.

BURNETT: And when you use the word grab, I will say having been in the DMZ and walked over on the North Korean side in the U.N. area where you can do so, they warn you if you go too close, if they want they can grab you over the line. I mean, you know, literally the word grab. You're not - you're not using it lately. Coronel, North Korea is now threatening to sink the USS Carl Vinson and the North Korean State-run paper wrote, "Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear powered aircraft with a single strike. The USS Vinson is now in the western pacific going to be obviously heading up off the coast of North Korea. Is North Korea really capable of doing what it threatens?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), FORMER MEMBER, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Not really, Erin. And the reason is not capable of doing that is because the Vinson and its carrier strike group have a lot of defenses that can protect against almost everything that the North Koreans can throw at them. The other thing is is that the North Korean tactics that would be used in a case like this are ones that really would not work against the Vinson or any of the other ships in this group.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Ambassador, is Donald Trump right then to sends the nuclear submarine with guided missiles to sit off the coast of North Korea? Strategically that the right thing to do?

RICHARDSON: Yes. That is the right thing to do. We have to have a response and what I don't like is I think Ambassador Haley did say, we have to look at a preemptive military strike. I think that's unrealistic, it's bad policy. What I think we need to look at is yes, more intensive work on the part of China, it looks like maybe China is starting for the first time to push the North Koreans. They have enormous leverage over China.

They give them -- over North Korea. They give them food, they give them energy assistance, they give an economic assistance. Try that. More cyber efforts. I think the Vinson is a good thing. I'm glad it's now going in the right direction. But remember, we've got - we've got 30,000 American troops on the DMZ. We've got 50,000 in Japan, 25 million South Koreans in Seoul that - you know, let's be - let's use diplomacy, strong partnerships with China, our allies. But the show of force, the Vinson, that's good.

But let's not overdo it with talk of a preemptive military strike. I know the North Koreans. They're easily agitated. They don't think like us, they don't negotiate like uss. You don't want to provoke them. I know this guy is very dangerous. He's, you know, Kim Jong- Un. You don't know where he's coming from. No one's met with the guy. So, you know, let's just be calm and collected.

BURNETT: Gordon, I will say this though, Donald Trump doesn't negotiate "like we do either."


BURNETT: Could he be - I mean, the person who could negotiate with Kim Jong-Un or is both their unpredictability perhaps the biggest threat we face?

CHNAG: Well, Trump is probably the only person in the west who can do this. You know, The Kim family has been masters in creating a sense of crisis. They've done that over a course if decades. And now Kim Jong-Un has met his match in the American president. Now, he's making Kim Jong-Un very nervous, that is the precondition to getting this solve but it's also the precondition that history's next great crisis. And whether it's, you know, which one it is, it depends on how skillful Trump is.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate it. And next, is Donald Trump in over his head, the president openly admitting that his job is harder than expected. You'll hear. And tonight, President Obama returns to public life.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's been going on while I've been gone?



BURNETT: New tonight, revealing words from President Trump, the Associated Press releasing a transcript of its interview with him. He makes some surprising admissions. Asked about how the office has changed him, he said, quote, "The one thing I would say -- and I say this to people -- I never realized how big it was." Also adding, "The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency."

[19:30:04] Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was all supposed to be breezy and easy, changing policies, the law, Washington itself.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody said, "But you can't build a wall. A wall. This is so easy."

It's very easy to figure that one out. Believe me.

Politicians will never be able to do it. For me, it's easy.

FOREMAN: But in nearly 100 days, time and again, the billionaire businessman has admitted grappling with D.C. is more than he imagined.


TRUMP: I think the size, the magnitude of everything.

FOREMAN: In his latest interview with the "Associated Press", he is saying it again, describing the job as more massive, the task is more complicated, the media as more nasty than he expected.

It harkens back to this startling moment when he said this about his soon to be doomed plans for repealing and replacing Obamacare.

TRUMP: Now, I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.

FOREMAN: Even on topics he professed to know well, such as containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions, he now admits having being mistaken. He thought China could help a great deal, but now, "After listening for ten minutes, I realized it's not so easy."

From dealing with the budget to appointing a White House staff, through a variety of reports and sources, the president has expressed surprise at all the job entails.

TRUMP: Good morning, everybody.

CROWD: Good morning.

FOREMAN: Even on his specialty, commerce, after meeting with business leaders to discuss his ideas about growing jobs and shrinking taxes, listen to what he said.

TRUMP: A bigger thing that surprised me is the fact we'll be cutting regulation massively.


FOREMAN: Pundits have long noted that the modern presidency is complicated no one is ever really ready for it. But the events of the past few months have underscored that when you have no experience at all in government, it is a job that can absolutely be filled with surprises -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Tom.

And now, the former Trump campaign strategist David Urban is with me, along with former Obama White House deputy chief of staff, Alyssa Mastromonaco.

OK, thanks to both of you.

You, of course, also the author of "Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House".

So, it's a good place to start, David. During the campaign, you were with the president, right? You just heard him there in Tom's piece, called the job easy, so many parts about it easy, now from North Korea to China to health care to the Commerce Department to the job itself, he says it is not so easy.

Did he fundamentally, David, not understand the issues or the job?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: No, no, Erin. I think the president is a very bright individual. I think that the president is used to going at the speed of commerce, at the speed of business, and wasn't prepared for the massive bureaucracy and a government that moves at a glacial pace.

BURNETT: Alyssa?

ALYSSA MASTROMONACO, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Erin, I'd say that I probably prepared more for my interviews to be an intern than Donald Trump did if what he is saying is actually true. If he didn't realize after a year and a half on the road campaigning that this was actually a really big and important job, I really don't know what else, you know, we can say.


URBAN: I mean, I don't know how to respond to that. I'm certain the president understood the massive nature of the presidency. Look, by all accounts --

MASTROMONACO: He said that he didn't.

URBAN: By all accounts, the president's had an incredibly successful first 100 days, which is a -- as you all know in the media, a totally fictional number picked out of the sky. I mean --

BURNETT: Well, a number that he himself touted and put out a contract of things he said he would finish in those 100 days.

URBAN: Well, yes, and so, the president has accomplished some of those and he hasn't accomplished some of those. The stock market has been going gangbuster, he's cuts lots of regulations, which has really bolstered business, reinvest in the United States. He's got a Supreme Court justice confirmed pretty quickly and easily. So, I think he's got a long list of accomplishments and 1,360 days more to go.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you each about this interview that he just gave with the "A.P." There were a lot of important things in there. And, of course, as we all know, both of you included, it is no secret that Donald Trump likes to brag about his ratings. It's very important to him, OK?

Here is what he told "The A.P." in this new interview about his ratings on CBS's "Face the Nation" and I read the quote. "Dickerson, who is the host, had 5.2 million people. It's the highest for 'Face the Nation', or as I call it, 'Deface the Nation'. It's the highest for 'Deface the Nation' since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It's a tremendous advantage."

Comparing his ratings to those in the World Trade Center, that, you know, that he's proud these are the best since then, David, does that give you pause?

URBAN: No, I mean, look, the president is talking about television ratings? There's lots of things. There's a 40-plus page interview, Erin. I mean, in the interview, the president says, we'll talk about DREAMers. He said, we're not after the DREAMers. We're after the bad guys, we're after criminals, MS-13. We're not after the DREAMers.

There's lots and lots of content in this -- in this interview with Julie Pace, who's a great reporter for "A.P." that I think, you know, should be highlighted and he's talking about ratings.

[19:35:10] I wouldn't put too much on that.

BURNETT: Alyssa?

MASTROMONACO: I mean, I guess I would say that given it's ten days after Sean Spicer made a really inartful comparison to the holocaust in a press briefings, you'd think the president would be more sensitive by comparing TV ratings to one of the worst tragedies in American history.

URBAN: I mean, there's a really long nice interview with "A.P." I'd encourage you to read it, Alyssa.


URBAN: There's lots in there other than that. You know, very positive things you can talk about. I understand is that what you're here to do, not here to praise the president. You are part of the party that lost and I understand that.

I'm just saying, I think the president has done a great job in his first 100 days. He's going to continue to do well. The numbers -- his numbers across America amongst the base can be very high. I know -- you know, the Democratic Party and folks on the other side of the aisle like to point out the president's numbers aren't so great.

BURNETT: So, David, let me bring up something else in this interview, since you want to talk about something else.

URBAN: Sure.

BURNETT: The president was asked about WikiLeaks release of Clinton campaign e-mails and the reporter asked if he supported what Assange did in hacking and leaking the emails. And Trump replied in this "A.P." interview, "No, I don't support or unsupport."

On the campaign trail, though, David, it was incredibly clear that he supported it. Here he is.


TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.

The press is hardly even talking about WikiLeaks. You know that WikiLeaks is amazing.

The sad part is we don't talk about WikiLeaks because it's incredible, but WikiLeaks just came out with a lot of new ones. It would be wonderful if these very dishonest people back there would talk about it.


BURNETT: That's pretty enthusiastic support, David, isn't it? URBAN: Listen, we all know campaign rhetoric is completely different

than governing. I think his campaign rhetoric, I think the president -- and you see the attorney general now moving in a certain direction with Julian Assange. You know, I don't put a lot of credibility into campaign rhetoric. You know you can talk about it on a wide variety of issues and I don't -- I don't particularly put any great deal of force behind that.

BURNETT: Alyssa, your response?

MASTROMONACO: I mean, I guess I would say, one, he did say "I love WikiLeaks", one. But I think the bigger problem is I'm OK if someone learns on the job and evolves their opinion. But to say you don't support or unsupport it, it's like what's the point of making a statement.

BURNETT: Which is an interesting thing because what is the answer to that?

URBAN: Well, and just -- I'll go back about if you want to talk about supporting statements, I'll refer to the former President Obama where we talked about drawing a red line in the sand on Syria. The president made a definitive statement about if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against their people, there would be dire consequences and direct U.S. involvement, and the president didn't get involved.

This president made a statement and followed up. So, I -- you know, I think that's much more important than a comment about WikiLeaks.

BURNETT: All right. I was going to go, but I'm going to give you a chance to respond that -- the Syrian red line.

MASTROMONACO: I mean, I would just say there's a big difference between evolving like the president did on Syria and a really strange statement on whether he supports or unsupports WikiLeaks.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

And next, earth to outer space, President Trump makes a phone call. Jeanne Moos on the true gravity of the situation.

And we just mentioned Barack Obama. He is back taking center stage today. Why today?


[19:42:30] BURNETT: New tonight, President Barack Obama back, making his first public speech since leaving office. He did not mention Trump by name, focusing on students getting into politics.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can to prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, columnist for "The New York Times", Nicholas Kristof.

And, Nick, you know, he's been -- he's been pretty quiet, right? I mean, he did come out about the travel ban very early, but he's been very quiet.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: He was off yes, off in the South Pacific.

BURNETT: Right, getting celebrity pictures, but he is now back. Are we going to see a lot more of him?

KRISTOF: You know, I suspect that he will periodically raise his voice on issues he cares about, but I think that he will apparently avoid weighing in right and left and I think that's partly because of a sense that presidents should be differential to those that succeed him as George W. Bush was and feeling that it wouldn't be effective and it would create a backlash.

BURNETT: And, you know, that's why I mentioned -- you know, he was very vocal on the travel ban, right? He put that statement out right away, that how inappropriate he thought that was.

And then, I don't know if you notice this, he's going to be in Berlin on the very same day that Donald Trump is going overseas for the first time in his presidency for the NATO meeting in Brussels.

So, is that coincidence? You know, I mean, that certainly is going to be a really challenge to his predecessor.

KRISTOF: To his successor.

BURNETT: Yes, successor.

KRISTOF: Yes, you know, boy, I don't know about the logistics of arranging that, but I do think that that's the kind of occasion where President Obama doesn't really need to say anything. There is going to be just a steady contrast in how they act and how they are received and the dignity that is reflected by each. And so, that's a case where I think just standing tall may be more effective than some kind of vitriolic enunciation to Trump.

BURNETT: You know, there are many in the Democratic Party who just desperately want more of him, right? And they think they need him for the elections. I mean, I don't know if you heard, but the Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, who, of course, is deputy chair of the DNC, I mean, he slammed Obama the other day.

Let me just play for you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Barack Obama could have been a better party leader and I think that the fact that he wasn't has put his legacy in jeopardy.


KRISTOF: Well, I don't think that President Obama is speaking out dramatically against Trump is going to change the mind of Republicans out there.

[19:45:05] I mean, you know -- and that's what fundamentally counts. So, I think that Obama is right that if he can galvanize new people at the grassroots to get involved, to run for the state legislator, that is probably going to be more effective than jumping up and down.

BURNETT: I mean, from -- you know, do you see it as he is still the leader of the Democratic Party, which is rudderless or no?

KRISTOF: I don't think there is a leader of the Democratic Party and I don't think President Obama wants to be or indeed is going to fill that role, and I doubt if we're going to see a leader of the Democratic Party until a nominee is chosen in 3 1/2 years.

BURNETT: So, we're going to be years away from it.

You know, we've been talking a lot about obviously Trump's budget. And as part of that, you've been doing a lot of reporting. You've gone on the ground. You've gone to Haiti.

You have some real specific concerns.

KRISTOF: Absolutely. You know, there was a lot of debate about things that Trump said about women, derogatory comments he made. What I was seeing in Haiti was far more consequential effects of his policies and cutting funds to the U.N. Population Fund, and to aid groups that are in some way connected to abortion.

And the upside is more abortions and it's more women dying of cervical cancer, dying in childbirth. I think the same is going to happen in this country if Planned Parenthood is defunded, which did 270,000 cervical cancer screenings last year.

So, I hope that those in the pro-life community will, you know, understand that if you're trying to reduce the number of abortions, then your allies should be those people who are supporting birth control efforts and distributing like the U.N. Population Fund.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much.

KRISTOF: Good to be with you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, President Trump's budget cuts. Could they lead to contaminated drinking water for millions of Americans?

And Jeanne Moos and President Trump on the realities of life in space.


PEGGY WHITSON, U.S. ASTRONAUT: We also are cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable.

TRUMP: Better you than me.



[19:50:05] BURNETT: New tonight, racing against the clock. President Trump's White House scrambling for a budget deal to avoid a government shutdown. But it comes as Trump's budget is under fire, for a reasons including the environment.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out on the campaign, then candidate Donald Trump made it one of his priorities.

TRUMP: We want crystal clear water.

I have won many environmental awards, by the way.

CARROLL: As president, he repeated the promise.

TRUMP: We want clean air and we want clean water.

CARROLL: Gildo Tori does not believe that.

GILDO TORI, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, DUCKS UNLIMITED: I think the feeling is one of a little bit of shock and surprise.

CARROLL: Part of Torre's job is to protect the wetlands nestled here next to Lake Erie, not an easy task given its expanse. It's a 2,000 acres stretch of land. Torre says protecting all this would be impossible given President Trump's 2018 budget proposal to slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by 31 percent. It includes eliminating the $300 million earmarked for GLRI, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

In addition, Trump's proposing to cut 50 million from GLRI's budget this year to help finance defense projects, including the border wall.

TORI: I mean, t was kind of surprising. I mean, the GLRI has been a bipartisan program. It was really a shock to see it go down to nothing.

CARROLL: Tori says eliminating federal dollars would wreck environmental havoc, far beyond the wetlands. Wetlands act as nature's filter systems by removing impurities from agriculture runoff before that water seeps into places like Lake Erie. Twenty percent of the world's fresh water comes from the Great Lakes.

All too often, folks here have seen the devastating results of what happens when polluted runoff gets into the lake.

DAVID SPANGLER (ph): There was no place on the lake that we could go to that we were not sitting in very green water.

CARROLL: David Spangler has been fishing Lake Erie for two decades. Spangler says his livelihood depends on those federal funds to help keep the lake clean. He took a several miles out to explain what happened, the year miles of blue turned green.

SPANGLER: All of the water that go into the water treatment facility in Toledo, the water comes out of this facility here.

CARROLL: This is a spot that was covered by a toxic algae bloom, the blooms triggered by contaminated runoff from farmland have erupted in Lake Erie in 2014. It was so bad the bloom could be seen from space.

Great Lakes swing states such as Ohio and Michigan helped Trump get to the White House, Trump supporters such as Michigan's Macomb County Commissioner Candice Miller, hope the president will take enough look.

CANDICE MILLER, MACOMB COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS COMISSIONER: Michigan is known as a Great Lake state. So, on this one, he's hit a wrong note and I hope that he will reconsider. But I will --

CARROLL: Miller says she believes ultimately the cuts will not happen, David Spangler isn't so sure.

SPANGLER: We have got everybody aboard from Congress. They understand what's going on. The White House does not.

CARROLL: Spangler hopes they will understand, because he says these fresh water, these wetlands and all those who rely on their well-being depends on it.


CARROLL: And, Erin, we reached out to the EPA. The EPA says that their new chief, Scott Pruitt, is looking to run the department in a much more cost effective way. We should also point out that there's actually bipartisan support to keep funding, the folks out there at Lake Erie that I spoke to just hopes the White House is listening -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you.

And President Trump called an astronaut in space and it got personal.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She holds the record for female astronauts space walks, he was about to have his first space talk. They counted down the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero and lift off.

TRUMP: Station, this is your president, do you hear me?

MOOS: This was really long distance.

TRUMP: Do you hear me?

PEGGY WHITSON, U.S. ASTRONAUT: Yes, sir, we hear you loud and clear.

TRUMP: Well, that's what we like, American equipment that works.

MOOS: President Trump called International Space Station Commander Peggy Whitson to congratulate her for breaking the record for the longest an American astronaut has stayed in space.

TRUMP: Five hundred and thirty-four days and counting.

MOOS: It was an occasion for somersaulting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resident space ninja.

MOOS: And for showing off her hands free microphone technique.

WHITSON: Combine it back with the CO2 that we take out of the air.

[19:55:03] MOOS: Commander Whitson noted some of the space station's scientific achievements.

WHITSON: We're also cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable. And it's really not as bad as it sounds.

TRUMP: Well, that's good. I'm glad to hear that. Better you than me.

MOOS: Some wondered what is Ivanka Trump doing there? And a five- second delay didn't make asking questions easy.


MOOS: For once the view from the Oval Office was eclipsed.

Instead of mere mortals weighed down by gravity on the White House lawn, the space station showcased another astronaut floating in and out of the background.

WHITSON: In order to make it successful.

MOOS: And when the president asked for volunteers --

TRUMP: Who's ready to go to mars up there?

MOOS: There was a show of hands, though critics suggested send the president, don't worry, Mexico will pay for that too. Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: Better you than me.

MOOS: -- New York.


MOOS: And we will be right back.


MOOS: And thanks to all for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere, just go to CNN Go.

"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.