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Trump Brags About 2 Phone Calls: W.H. Says They Never Happened; Poll: Trump Hits New Low, Approval Rating At 33 Percent. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 2, 2017 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OutFront" next, spam phone calls. The President brags about two phone calls. The White House now admits never happened. Why can't the President just tell us the truth?

Plus, the White House getting personal with our own Jim Acosta over immigration. And the Dow hitting an all-time high today. Is it the big Trump bump or the Trump bubble? Let's go "OutFront."

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

"OutFront" tonight, President Trump's problem with the truth. Every day that problem seems to get worse. Tonight, there are two phone calls that President Trump said happened that did not, in fact, happen. One, Trump bragging that the head of the Boy Scouts called him to say his speech to the Scouts was, in Trump's words, the greatest speech ever given to the group.

The second one, Trump saying the Mexican President called him to offer what Trump said was the ultimate compliment, that very few people are crossing over the southern border.

Now, we now know that neither of those statements are true. Here's Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitting this today.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE PRESS SECRETARY: On Mexico, he was referencing a conversation that they had had at the G20 summit where they specifically talked about the issues that he referenced.

In terms of the Boy Scouts, multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership following his speech there that day, congratulated him, praised him and offered quite -- I'm looking for the word, quite powerful compliments.


SANDERS: I wouldn't say it was a lie. That's pretty bold accusation. It's a -- the conversations took place. They just simply didn't take place over a phone call, that he had them in person. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Face-to-face conversations, of course, are not phone calls. The President was pretty explicit there. The President's problem with the truth, though, doesn't stop there because let's take a look at what happened at the Boy Scout event, all right? Here's just one moment, just to give you a sense about the speech because that's what this is all about, from that speech turned political rally.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said, these dishonest people, where they said, "There is no path to victory for Donald Trump."


BURNETT: OK. He continued as you're probably well aware, few of us seeing the clips. Trump then spoke about that speech to "The Wall Street Journal." And what he said in that interview was very important. He said, " I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech ever made to them, and they were very thankful."

Now, that's a pretty incredible claim considering the head of the Boy Scouts publicly said at the speech, and I quote him, "I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who are offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program."

So when news of Trump's claim that the Chief Scout had said, you know, that was the greatest speech ever, when that broke, "OutFront" immediately called the Boy Scouts, because we wanted to know who was telling the truth. And the Scouts doubled down. They told the "OutFront," "The Chief Scout Executive's message to the Scouting community speaks for itself."

And they then continued to tell us that the Boy Scouts organization was unaware of any phone call from anyone under a national leadership team to the White House. So, thanks to the Boy Scouts answer to our question. The White House was forced today to admit that the President did not tell the truth. There was no phone call.

Now, the Boy Scouts haven't replied to our question about whether the Chief Scout told Trump in person that his speech was the greatest in history, although those do sound like very Trumpian words.

Some people might say that it's a small matter to lie about how a conversation occurred, if it actually happened, but there is a crucial question here. If the President isn't telling the truth about these phone calls, what else is he not telling the truth about?

Now, Trump, himself, has one explanation for his problem with the truth. It's actually from his book, "The Art of the Deal," in which he wrote, "A little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration."

Except, of course, if there ever was such a thing as innocent exaggeration, it certainly doesn't apply when you're President of the United States and every word you say matters.

Sara Murray is OutFront at the White House tonight. And, Sara, the President's credibility problem not going away.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's absolutely right, Erin. And, look, in some cases it may be the President being imprecise with his language talking about a call rather than a sideline in person conversation. Other times we know that he sort of conjures things up that seem to be created out of nowhere.

And so you ask, you know, what the problem is with this. Well, one, he's the President of the United States now. He's no longer a candidate running around on the campaign trail. I think voters realized sometimes candidates make promises or embellish stories along the way. But, now, he's the President of the United States.

And I think the bigger issue is that we are seeing from his Republican partners on Capitol Hill some unease about the way the President likes to play it fast and loose with the facts.

[19:05:08] We've heard from some lawmakers who have said, "Look at the President, isn't he willing to mislead on this issue? What's to say he's not willing to mislead on something else?" And that's the problem when you are this administration and you have such a robust legislative agenda that you want done.

The President has made it clear he wants the Senate to take up health care again. He wants them to take up tax reform. He wants them do this controversial immigration overhaul. Those are all things that require trust. And right now that is certainly in short supply, even with members of Trump's own party.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara Murray.

And OutFront now, our Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan, who of course was in that press briefing today, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast John Avlon, and Senior Congressional Correspondent for The Washington Examiner David Drucker.

Let me start with you, Mark. The President was clear, all right, he got a call from Mexico's President, he got a call from the leader of the Boy Scouts. Now, today, the White House says that there were no calls. What does this mean?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things. One is I think we've reached the point now where we can no longer explain a way that the President believes one thing and then goes out and says it and it turns out not to be true. The fact of the matter is life is very black and white. There's now whole lot of gray areas, specifically when you're talking about specific actions.

Now, in terms of what does this play on the world stage, I've got to tell you. In politics and in policy, the only thing that you have is your word, okay? The level of trust and the fact that people can believe in you.

Now, I spoke to a political advisor, to one of our allies just a couple of hours ago and asked how are they dealing with President Trump right now. The two words that came back from this person, very confused, very concerned.

They are parsing every statement, every word, every tweet to try to get an understanding of this. And let me emphasize, very confused and very concerned. And, Erin, this is coming from our allies. Same thing is being said from folks on Capitol Hill that I'm talking to.

BURNETT: So, David, I want to play part of the exchange again where Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted no phone calls took place as the President obviously, specifically indirectly claim. Here she is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Specifically said that he received a phone call from the President of Mexico --

SANDERS: They were actually direct -- they were direct conversations, not actual phone calls.


SANDERS: I wouldn't say it was a lie. That's pretty a bold accusation. It's a -- the conversations took place. They just simply didn't take place over a phone call, that he had them in person.


BURNETT: Again, David, we don't know from the Mexican President or the Boy Scouts what their response to that whether this happen in person or not, OK? But, you heard Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it is a bold accusation to say the President lied. What do you say to that?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is a bold accusation, but the problem is the President repeatedly gets caught in problems like this of his own making.

You know, there is something to be said in business, and you referenced "The Art of the Deal" when he was focus on real estate development all those years ago where you want to paint your product and your vision for a company in flowery terms that may never come to fruition, but everybody understands that it's a competitive business market place and products are always looking for an edge.

As Mark mentioned in politics, your word is your bond, to use a cliche. Your opponents know that you may have to hit them over the head at the end of the day because you are in a political fight, but you cannot do deals if you cannot trust each other. And one of the problems that Republicans on the Hill are having in their effort to try and govern is that they don't trust the President. They don't always know that it's a malicious intent on his part, but they see him on five sides of every issue at any given time and they never know what to expect.

They pass that Russia sanctions bill because they did not trust him to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. And all of this gets in the way of the President's ability to affect his legislative vision.

I don't think that he's ever really internalized that he is now the leader of a team, of a government. It's not just something that he has acquired that he could give marching orders to do whatever he wants.

BURNETT: Right. So, John, here's the thing. You know, when you put this in context. and this is why I made the point of some people might say and, again, we don't know whether -- what the other party say as whether the conversation is even took place.

But some people might say, "Well, if they did, then the method by which they occurred, OK, so it's a lie. But it's a little lie, OK." But in the context of this President, he has said things that are not true about a lot of things, whether it's crowd size or his electoral college victory. Here he is.


TRUMP: I had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the electoral college.

When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches.


BURNETT: All right, by the way, electoral victory was at 46 instead of 58, I believe.


BURNETT: It's a pattern.

AVLON: It's an impulse. It's a first response. And I think the problem is that Trump comes out of this background as a hype man, as a marketer and everything is truthful hyperbole.

[19:10:09] But as Mark and David has said, now we're in a place where you're President of the United States, words matter. Trust and truth are intimately related. And if his instinct, if his default is to lie about little things, then he's going to have a heck of a time getting any credibility on the big things and that's where we are.

There is now an assumption that the administration is not telling the truth, and that's because tone is coming from the top and that's terrible for the Office of the President (ph).

BURNETT: And you polled sort of the sense of the scale of this?

AVLON: Yes. I mean, look, even in the course of the campaign. "Politico" did a study, just one week on the campaign trail. And this was when in the campaign. He's in selling mode. One falsehood every five minutes. That's a stunning statistic. And that I think just speaks to the sheer tonnage of lies and falsehoods and exaggerations this President tells as a matter of course as a way of communicating.

BURNETT: All right. April, you know, we just played the quote, right, or showed the quote, I'm sorry, a couple of minutes ago from Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal." And Trump, you know, in his own words there, he always uses those words, that everything is the biggest or the best or beautiful, right? We know that. In case anyone forgets, here's just a couple of examples.


TRUMP: I have the best courses in the world.

I get the biggest crowds. I get the biggest standing ovations, and I guess you see it in the poll numbers.

I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history.


BURNETT: So, April, I mean, is this done on purpose, right, that he just -- he cloaks his comments in that sort of grandiosity and exaggeration? Or does he truly believe what he's saying?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think this President has figured out how to turn the switch from the hyperbole or embellishments, whatever you want to call it, to understanding government and governance. Words matter. Words matter.

You know, wars have been fought because of words. Markets are moved because of words. America wants to be able to believe the words that their leader says, whether you voted for him or not. And this is very bad.

I mean, he is a businessman. His nature is business. And that grandiosity of everything is great, this is wonderful. And, you know, I think about the first solo press conference that he had. He said that, you know, this is a fine tune. Our administration is running off a fine tuned machine.

Well, there are a lot of cogs that have been flying out of that machine lately. And he's still saying everything is fine in the midst of firing, scandals, what have you, and these two stories. So, everything is great, but the reality is what it is.

AVLON: And, you know -- but, Erin, you asked a fascinating question. Does he believe it. And I think one of the riddles of this President is he speaks without a filter, whatever comes into his mind. So there is certainly a degree of emotional honesty like we've never seen.

We know what he's thinking in real-time on Twitter or when he's talking. And yet, there seems to be a massive gap between that emotional truth and objective reality. And that's just a puzzle.

BURNETT: And, Mark, you know, I mean, throughout the campaign, he ran on being a truth teller. I think this is what the irony is and this is why I get. Does he believe it or not? Like when you say it's a phone call and it's just wasn't. Here's what he has said about his honesty.


TRUMP: I don't lie. In fact, if anything -- you know, I'm so truthful that it gets me in trouble, OK? They say I'm too truthful.

I think that I'm an honest person. I feel I'm an honest person.

One thing I can promise you this, I will always tell you the truth.


BURNETT: It's that context, Mark, that makes it so troubling. That even when it comes to whether there was a phone call or not, it wasn't true.

PRESTON: And the Boy Scouts, Erin, we're talking about a speech that was widely panned for it being so politicized to a nonpolitical organization by and large, but yet he had to engage in it.

Why? Why did he have to do that? Why did he say that? Why did he say he got a phone call from the President of Mexico, when clearly he did not get a phone call from the President of Mexico. By the way, the president of Mexico never going to say what he had said because that is political suicide for the President of Mexico.

But really, it's all about credibility right now. And the success of President Trump, the success of this nation is based upon the alliances that he can form not only here, at home, but abroad and right now he's not doing that.

BURNETT: All right.

RYAN: But, Erin --

BURNETT: Yes. Go ahead, April, final word.

RYAN: Yes. I want to get this in really fast. This is a pattern with this President when he meets with people. I think back to when this President met with Congressman Elijah Cummings. There was a big scandal about what was allegedly said.

He said that Elijah Cummings said, I would be -- "I'm the greatest President." And Elijah Cummings said -- Congressman Elijah Cummings said, "No, that's not what I said." He said, "What I said he could be the greatest President if he did this, this and this." [19:15:04] But I'm also thinking about how this President wants to make everything look so nice. Think about when he had the HBCU presidents in that Oval Office.

BURNETT: Historically black colleges and universities, yes.

RYAN: Right. He wants everything to look like it is perfect and nice. Everything is not and we're seeing everything spilling out now in the untruth.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all.

And next, the President's approval rating at a historic low. And by the way, there's a crucial number there on truth and Republicans views of Trump.

Plus, the President promised he would not cut legal immigration, very specifically, very explicitly. Well, now, he's backing a plan to do just that.

And the time Donald Trump wanted to play President Trump in "Sharknado".


BURNETT: New tonight, turning on Trump, a new poll shows the President's approval rating at an all-time low, I'm sorry, just 33 percent approve of the job the President is doing. This is according to Quinnipiac. The disapproval rate, 61 percent.

But wait, what would be most concerning to the White House is this, the Republican numbers. And they are going down. OutFront now, Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard Editor-at-Large, Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

[19:20:05] So, let me ask you Scott. When you look at overall numbers here, 33 percent of voters approve of the President job performance, it's the lowest, and now losing support among Republicans as well. Should the White House be worried?

SCOTT JENNING, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, any time the President's approval rating is in the 30s, you should be worried. The Q-poll has traditionally been a few ticks lower than some of the others. I think Gallop has him in the mid-30s. Rasmussen to tick higher. But the truth is, his approval rating has gone done.

One thing we should recall historically, this is a President who has seen his numbers with Republicans fluctuate back during the campaign. For much of the campaign, he was around 80 percent with Republicans. But on election day, he won 90 percent of the Republican vote.

And, so, what happened? They decided that the specter of not being able to fill the Supreme Court seat was enough to come home. So, now, the White House has to be asking itself, "How do we get Republicans to come back home?" There's issues, tax reform, handling North Korea that if handle properly could cause Republicans to come back. BURNETT: OK. So let's just look at these Republican numbers, Bill, because they're important. Republican support on good leadership skills. 70 percent of Republicans say he is a good leader.

And by the way, you might look at that and say that's a solid number, OK, and it is. By the way, it's the vast majority, but it's down 13 percentage points from June when it was 83 percent, OK. That's a pretty stunning drop.

And when it comes to being level headed, 57 percent of Republicans say he is now, again, a majority. But from late June, that's down from 72 percent. So, do you focus on the stunning drops that we're seeing among Republicans or do you focus on the fact that he's still above water with Republicans by those measures?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, both. But, I mean, Republican President is always going to be above water with Republicans. Richard Nixon on the day he resigned had 50 percent approval rating, 50 percent from Republicans, 28 percent from the country.

BURNETT: Interesting.

KRISTOL: So, you know, there's a base of just in a partisan era, especially today, the polarization with such dislike among Republicans for Democrats, for liberal media, for everyone else. Trump will have some base.

But I think it is a very important poll and that it should -- it punctures them this that Trump has a super solid base with a huge majority of Republicans. There are solid fervent Trump supporters, but there are a lot of reluctant Trump voters who (INAUDIBLE) voted for Trump because of the Supreme Court or because they didn't want Hillary Clinton or they just wanted the Republican administration.

They have been put off clearly over the last couple of weeks when that's one - that movement occurred by the chaos in the White House, by the failure in health care, I think by Russia developments to Trump and Don Jr., Trump writing the Don Jr. statement. And just by the general sense that we don't have a solid and confident president there.

BURNETT: And, Scott, all of those things are in recent days. You know, few weeks ago, a senior advisor for the President told me, "We don't care about any of these polls, because we have our own and we have our own in the only states that matter and they show that we are doing way better than anyone is giving us credit for, so we're not worried about it." Do they say that now at their pearl when you see these sharp drops among Republicans?

JENNINGS: Well, you do see some surveys out there. NBC News actually had a survey this past weekend and they surveyed people in Trump country, places that had flipped from Obama to Trump or had shown a surge from Romney to Trump of more than 20 points.

He was still well above water in those counties that he had degraded some over his electoral performance, but he was still doing pretty well in what you would generally refer to as Trump country. Where this manifested itself negatively is your influence over the Congress trying to control them and doing the things he want to do.

And then next year if the numbers stay low, it would manifest itself in candidates distancing themselves from the White House, but we're a long way from there. And this President is a legislative win or two away from seeing his numbers tick back up and hopefully the Republicans can pull it together --


BURNETT: OK. All right, so on the Republican -- so, Bill, here's what some of the Republicans in Congress. And by the way, whatever he wants to say about them, they're mainstream, whatever nasty things sort of implied sometimes is he needs these guys and they right now verbally have been turning on him. Here are a few.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: I will agree with this President when I think he's doing conservative things and doing decent things. And I'll oppose him and speak up when I think that he is isn't.

REP. LEONARD LANCE, (R) NEW JERSEY: If we're appropriate, I will support the President. And if we're inappropriate, I will not.

SEN. JOHN THUNE, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: There will be times when I disagree with him. And when I do, I usually state that very clearly as well.


BURNETT: Here's the thing, though, they say that, but let's just take Jeff Flake as an example, right? He has said the things he said, and that's great. But his voting record is still 93.5.

KRISTOL: Yes. But that's a bum wrap, Erin. That's -- look, I would have voted -- I'm a critical guy about Trump, I think, we agree on that. I would have voted to confirm Gorsuch. I would have voter for Jim Mattis. I mean -- so that number is --


BURNETT: That's right. OK.

KRISTOL: --to say. Oh, Jeff Flake is a hypocrite. He's a conservative. He's voted for conservative --


BURNETT: Wait, what I'm getting -- and I wasn't actually calling him hypocrite. What I was saying, though, is they may say one thing. But if they're still backing him on his legislative agenda, does it matter to him? KRISTOL: Yes, it matters. It matters a lot. First of all, it is going to erode support for the legislative agenda. You are already seeing that, I think, looking ahead on tax reform. He's not getting the benefit of the doubt he got before.

[19:25:08] Just two points. That 33 percent number is stunning, also think about this. The stock market as Donald Trump, himself, likes to remind us, is that historic highs. Unemployment is low. There's been no horrible foreign policy crisis.

If you told a political scientist, President gets elected with 46 percent of the vote. The market goes up 15 percent, unemployment stays low, gets a little lower, foreign policy not terrible really. He would say, you know what, any competent president probably goes up from 46 a little bit, wins over a few skeptics, maybe he's at 50, 55. So that 33 or even if it's 35 or 36 or 38, is really a low number. And that is affecting congressmen and Senators since I think of whether they owe him support.

And also just his behavior. At some point, even congressmen and senators, they're political analyst, but they do care about the country and they are looking at this White House and saying, you know, has anyone competent in charge there? They have great hopes, I think, that John Kelly can do the job and I have great hopes, too, that he can stabilize things. But at the end of the day, the President is the President.

And every time you think what Kelly is in, things would be better and the President can't resist claiming to have made phone calls he didn't make or another Russia story breaks or you get an account like you got a couple hours ago of this recent National Security Counsel meeting on Afghanistan with the President just popping off knowing nothing.

And I think senators look at that and they think, you know what, we just have to try to pass legislation that we believe in, but we're not going to give the President the benefit of the doubt.

Here's a thought experiment, that immigration bill that Senators Scott and Perdue introduced today, that bill would have done better, would have been received better if the White House hadn't been involved.

BURNETT: Well, we're going to talk a lot more about that immigration bill because -- thanks very much to both of you. And next with that bill. It's a pretty radical change in who will be allowed to come into the United States legally and it led to this exchange in the White House briefing room.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It looks like you're trying to engineer the ratio and ethnic flow of people into this country.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you've ever said. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And the President finally signs a bill punishing Russia. But, he made it very, very clear that he really, really didn't want to.


[19:30:39] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: New tonight, fierce debate erupting across the country after President Trump proposes a dramatic slashing of the number of immigrants that can legally enter the United States.

Now, the president says the bill will strengthen the American economy, eliminating America's lottery for immigrants and instead giving priority to potential newcomers based on their education and their ability to speak the English language. The proposal sparking a tense back and forth between senior policy adviser Steven Miller, who came out to discuss it with the press, and CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What you're proposing here or what the president here does not sound like it's keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It doesn't say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer.

Aren't you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you're telling them you have to speak English? Can't people learn how to speech English when they get here?

STEPHEN MILLER, TRUMP ADVISOR: Well, first of all, right now, it's a requirement that to be naturalized you have to speech English. So, the notion that speaking English wouldn't be a part of immigration systems would be actually very ahistorical. Secondly, I don't want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world. It's a symbol of American liberty lighting the world.

The poem you are referring to was added later. It's not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty. But more fundamentally, the history, but more fundamentally, the history --


ACOSTA: You're saying that that does not represent what the country has always thought of as immigration coming into this country?

MILLER: I'm saying the notion -- Jim, let me ask you a question.


ACOSTA: Stephen, I'm sorry, that sounds like some national park revisionism. The Statute of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world, for people to send their people to this country. And they're not always going to speak English. They're not always going to be highly skilled. They're not always going to be --

MILLER: Jim, I appreciate your speech. Jim, I appreciate your speech. So, let's talk about this. Let's talk about this.

In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land? In the 1990s, when it was half a million a year was it violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?


MILLER: No, tell me what years -- tell me what years meet Jim Acosta's definition of the Statue of Liberty home law of the land? So you're saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number, 900,000 violates it, 800,000 violates it.

ACOSTA: I'm saying you're sort of bringing a press one for English philosophy here to immigration, and that's never what the United States has been about.

MILLER: But your statement's also shockingly ahistorical in another respect too. Which is, if you look at the history of immigration, it's actually ebbed and flowed. We've had periods of very large waves, followed by periods of less immigration and more immigration. And during the --

ACOSTA: We're in a period of immigration right now that the president wants to build walls. You want to bring about a sweeping change to --

MILLER: Surely, Jim, you don't actually think that a wall affects green card policy. You couldn't possibly believe that, do you? Actually -- the notion that you actually think immigration is at a historic lull, the foreign-born population of the United States today -- Jim, Jim --

ACOSTA: With the new chief of staff on Monday talking about how border crossings were --

MILLER: I want to be serious, Jim, do you really at CNN not know the difference between green card policy and illegal immigration? I mean, you really don't know that?

ACOSTA: Sir, my father was a Cuban immigrant. He came to this country in 1962 right before the Cuban missile crisis and obtained a green card. Yes, people who immigrate to this county --


MILLER: Jim -- Jim, this is a factual question, Jim. Jim, as a factual question --

ACOSTA: -- do obtain a green card at some point. They do it through a lot of hard work. And yes, they may learn English, as a second language, later on in life, but this whole notion of well, they have to learn English before they get to the United States, are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?

MILLER: Jim, I can honestly say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It's actually - it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind -- no, this is an amazing -- this is an amazing moment, this is an amazing moment, that you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants, who do speak English, from all over the world.

[19:35:11] But, honestly, Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia? Is that your personal experience?

ACOSTA: Of course, there are people who come --

MILLER: But that's not what you said, asked, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias. And I just want to say --

ACOSTA: It sounds like you're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country.

MILLER: Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things you've ever said. And for you, that's still a really -- the notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting.


BURNETT: Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT, along with John Avlon.

Jim, let me go first to you.


BURNETT: Insulting, ignorant, cosmopolitan, all the things that you were called by Stephen Miller. Were you surprised?

ACOSTA: Well, I could go for a cosmopolitan right now, Erin. It's not often you are accused of a cosmopolitan bias from someone who went to Duke University wearing cuff links in the White House. Anyway, you know, I do think when they're attacking the news media, my experience, Erin, is they are losing the argument.

And I think what you saw today in the briefing room was the top policy advisor, he is the top domestic policy adviser to the president --


ACOSTA: -- berating reporters. My colleague Glenn Thrush over at "The New York Times" was asking some very pointed questions of Stephen Miller, and he was -- and Stephen Miller was throwing out these comments about maybe "The New York Times" should only hire certain kinds of workers, never mind the fact that the Trump Organization hotels and properties around the world from time to time have hired people that would not be described, you know, as highly-skilled English speaking people who would be given advantages in this new merit-based system that the Trump administration is proposing.

Erin, just one other thing quick point, you know, the American experience has always been and the Statue of Liberty I think is an example of that, which is why I raised it, that we have always welcomed all kinds of people, from all walks of life into this country. All people coming into this country have merit. They shouldn't be subjected to a point system.

You know, an unskilled person who doesn't speak English coming into America might give birth to a Nobel laureate, or an astrophysicist, or a neurosurgeon. And so, I mean, that has always been great about America in my view and I was just trying to test Stephen Miller on a couple of those points, and I think what you saw unfold in the briefing room is that he really just couldn't take that kind of heat and exploded before our eyes.

BURNETT: Yes. I think you definitely did see that.

By the way, I want to make one point of fact here to all our viewers, when he said to become a naturalized citizen, you have to speak English already. You know, you can just check the Website on that. That's not true. There are several examples -- exceptions where you're allowed to bring an interpreter. OK, that's just a point of something he said that was definitive. That's not actually true.

It's also, John Avlon, the issue of this is a complete 180. This is a president who is completely changing what he promised to do, not as a candidate when he was making promises.

As president of the United States, in May, "The Economist" asked him, will you reduce the number of people coming to the United States legally? His response, oh, yes, no, no, no, no. We want people coming in legally. No, very strongly. Now they're going to be much more strongly vetted, as you see.

So, this is a huge change when he's now coming in and saying these different requirements and restrictions that we would place.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. Look, it's a flip- flop on policy from this president, things he said during the campaign, however tough he was on immigration, it was always illegal immigration, and for long-standing policy from the Republican Party. The deal has always been, the policy argument they made is that we are pro-legal immigration. We want to crack down on illegal immigration. Those are two different things.

But this policy flies in the face of that tradition, flies in the face of being a nation of immigrants and recognizing it. And how many members of the Senate or Congress did their grandparents come over not speaking English or unskilled. My grandfathers came over not speaking English and unskilled.

And that's the story of America and why people are going to be passionate about this. We should be able to have great policy debates without everybody being accused of being racist. But this fundamental contradiction --


AVLON: -- in policy, that needs to be called out.

BURNETT: Will you only want an English speaking H-1B visa is a complete change from what America has for generations done and that fact. We're going to talk about this. Whether you agree or not, you need to acknowledge what a dramatic shift that would be.

Thank you both.

And next, a top Republican asked why is the Trump administration so different on Russia?

And Donald Trump passing up a role in "Sharknado 3" only to see a billionaire rival get the part.


[19:43:29] BURNETT: New tonight, the president today is signing a bill to punish Russia, hitting the country where it hurts, energy and defense.

But he made it clear he wanted nothing to do with the bill, writing in a statement and I quote the president: The bill remains seriously flawed, particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate. I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

(AUDIO GAP) your time, Senator.


BURNETT: Senator, there was that statement and then there was another one that the president released in which he said the sanctions bill includes a, quote, number of clearly unconstitutional provisions. He is saying it's unconstitutional. It's seriously flawed.

Your response?

MERKLEY: Well, if it's unconstitutional, if he believes that, then he shouldn't sign it in his role as president. But this was the Congress, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate saying you have not gotten the job done on Russia, so we're going to do it for you.

And in that sense, it is a big humiliating to the president. But this president came in and said he was wanting to undo the sanctions of our advers -- against our adversary, an adversary who has proceeded to annex Crimea and occupy Eastern Ukraine and interfere in our American elections in a massive way.

And so, Congress said, we believe sanctions are necessary. A strong position has to be taken. We need a watchdog for America, not a lap dog for Putin and they sent the bill to him.

BURNETT: OK. So, when you say lap dog for Putin, let me ask you this -- look, the bill limits the president's ability to ease current sanctions in place against Russia.

[19:45:06] So, you've just given your use of the word there. Do you actually feel that there was a risk that this president would try to ease those existing sanctions? Is that why you supported that?

MERKLEY: This is -- this is exactly what Democrats and Republicans thought, because he has consistently said time and time again he wanted to ease sanctions with no explanation for it and it is traditional to give the president the ability to waive the sanctions, to adjust the sanctions. That's what's normally done.

We didn't do it in this case because on a bipartisan basis, Congress did not trust the president on this issue.

BURNETT: So, the president and his team have repeatedly said they could negotiate a tougher sanctions bill than the one he just signed, right? That's even his logic he's giving today, right? I could have done a better deal. He says he could make far better deals than you all can in Congress.

Is it possible, Senator Merkley, that he's right?

MERKLEY: How can a president who wants to undo the sanctions negotiate a stronger deal? He had the chance. He went over to Europe. He met with Putin face to face. He had secret meetings on the side. Did he come back with any proposal for a strong stand vis- a-vis Russia? He did not.

BURNETT: No, he said they talked about adoptions.

MERKLEY: Yes, that's right.

BURNETT: So, Lindsey Graham is questioning why the Trump administration is constantly sending mixed messages when it comes to Russia, right, your Republican colleague. Here's Senator Graham.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The fact he does this kind of quietly I think reinforces the narrative that the Trump administration is not really serious about pushing back on Russia. And I think that is a mistake, too, because Putin will see this as a sign of weakness.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: What does this all add up to?

GRAHAM: It makes one wonder. It makes one wonder why the Trump administration is so different than everybody else on Russia.


BURNETT: Do you agree with Senator Graham?

MERKLEY: Well, absolutely. How do you get your hands around an American president not taking a strong stand against our adversary? And what Lindsey is referring to is absolutely a common opinion of what is the answer?

And I -- let me just expand a little bit here. Is the answer because his business deals involve borrowing from Russia? Is his answer related to the British dossier? Is his answer related to the negotiations between the Trump campaign? We don't know, or maybe it's a piece of all three.

But it is a very extraordinarily strange situation to have the president of the United States not standing up to Russia.

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

MERKLEY: You're welcome. Good to be with you.

BURNETT: And next, stocks soaring to, well, a whole new high. The Dow topping 22,000. Now, this is happening under President Trump's watch, and that's a fair and square point. Does he deserve the credit?

And Jeanne Moos on how Donald Trump missed his "Sharknado" moment and the man who took his place.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States.



[19:50:53] BURNETT: Breaking news: A historic milestone for stocks. The Dow closing above 22,000 for the first time ever. The president taking credit for the milestone earlier today, as the market tried to reach it, tweeting, quote: The stock market could hit all-time high again, 22,000 today, was 18,000 only six months ago on Election Day. Mainstream media seldom mentions.

Well, the Dow has risen 20 percent since President Trump was elected. That is a stunning surge by any measure and it is something the president has been taking credit for since taking office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a lot of confidence in our economy right now. There's a great confidence level. You've been seeing that in the stock market, you've been seeing that in businesses, and you've been seeing that on every chart.

The stock market hit another all-time high today. We're doing trade deals.

Look at what's happening with the stock markets. Look at so many things where we're just getting bigger, better, and stronger.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now with more on tonight's number is Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group.

And, Paul, the big question here is whether President Trump actually deserves the credit for this milestone we hit today. What do you think?

PAUL HICKEY, CO-FOUNDER, BESPOKE INVESTMENT GROUP: It depends upon who you ask. But I think when you look at any market return under a president, a president deserves some of the credit, I think, but certainly not all of it.

And different presidents deserve more credit. Just like a manager of a baseball team, some get dealt better players, some get dealt worse players. It's how they do it.

So, market's up 20 percent since election day, and so that is a strong return over that, about an eight or nine-month period, so you got to give President Trump credit because there is -- I mean, because he's in office and the market did turn on a dime on election day. But the fact that the markets have been unfazed by what's going on in Washington on a day-to-day basis shows us that the, you know, investors and the market is bigger than just Washington, and thank God -- I mean, the fact that if politicians were -- the market was relying on politicians, I think we'd all be in a much worse place right now.

BURNETT: Now, Trump when he was candidate Trump expressed great skepticism about what was already a market that had been surging for years. Here he is.


TRUMP: We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble and we better be awfully careful.


BURNETT: Obviously since he said that, he won, he became president. The market kept surging. We've now seen the second fastest thousand- point gain for American stocks since the dotcom bubble back in 1999. When you look at where the market is trading, its price to earnings, it's, what, about 21 times? The historical average is way below that, closer to 16 times.

Are you worried this is a bubble right now, Paul?

HICKEY: No, I'm not worried it's a bubble. And I'm sure President Trump would say it's not a bubble, too. It's amazing how perspective change.

But valuations are expensive in the market. There's no denying that. Interest rates are low, so you tend to see valuations expand during low interest rate environments so you have that, but earnings have been growing.

The market is up 10 percent this year. But the earnings multiple of the S&P 500, what people will pay for earnings, has been unchanged this year. So, earnings have been growing by double-digit rate this year so we haven't really been seeing valuations contract or get more reasonable but they haven't been expanding.

And the reason we're all here today talking about the Dow 22,000 is because of Apple. Apple's the largest stock in the United States, publicly traded company in the world. And when you look at that stock's valuation, it trades at a below market multiple.

So, you look back to 2000 when the tech stocks were all trading on, you know, on valuations of eyeballs and -- besides earnings because they had no earnings. It's a much different environment now. And we're seeing broad participation in the market, too. So, these large cap tech stocks are rallying but the rest of the market is doing well also, whereas in 2000, it was just tech rallying and the rest of the market, the industrials were all weak.

BURNETT: All right. So, you're saying not a bubble right now. Thank you so much, Paul, I appreciate it.

HICKEY: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos on President Sharknado.


[19:57:39] BURNETT: Tonight, how Donald Trump almost played a president on TV. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Think how it could have been. Instead of Donald Trump being the actual president, he could have played the president in "Sharknado." "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No", to be exact, the one where sharks come raining down on Washington, landing in Lincoln's lap, wreaking havoc at the White House.

The producers wanted Sarah Palin to play the president, but when she fell through, they turned to -- not George Washington. They turned to Donald Trump. So says the "Hollywood Reporter", The Donald said yes, recalled producer David Latt. He was thrilled to be asked. A contract was drawn up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president --

MOOS: Then the producer says he heard from Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen: Donald's thinking of making a legitimate run for the presidency, so we'll be back to you. Trump was off the hook. The moviemakers cast entrepreneur Mark Cuban, instead, who proceeded

to mow down an even grenade-flying shark. "The Hollywood Reporter" quotes producer Latt as saying the Trump team blew out, threatening to sue after Mark Cuban was cast, but Trump attorney Cohen doesn't recall that, describing it as a very weak attempt to obtain free publicity for "Sharknado" by using the president.

He did acknowledge Trump had given a noncommittal "I'll do it" to the film's star, Ian Ziering, a personal friend.

Ann Coulter played the vice president, surfing past sharks. Donald Trump has had plenty of cameos from "Sex and the City."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Samantha, a cosmopolitan and Donald Trump, you just don't get more New York than that.

MOOS: To the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look much richer in person.

MOOS: But "Sharknado" was the one he let get away.

President Trump's new chief of staff may think his new job is tough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I am the chief of staff!

MOOS: Which is harder to survive, a "Sharknado" or a Trumpnado?

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: OK. Thanks so much for joining us. Anderson's next.