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Lawmakers Grapple with Trump's Immigration Proposal; Trump Ordered Mueller Fired But Backed Off; Trump at Davos: "America is Open for Business"; Deadly Flu Grips U.S. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 26, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:30] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Today, with the president away, lawmakers back home are grappling with the immigration proposal he dropped in their laps. It includes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers, in exchange for $25 billion for a border wall and some other strict immigration reforms.

CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is on Capitol Hill for us.

Aside from the DREAMers, and the wall, the plan would really reshape immigration policy. How are lawmakers dealing with this?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So I think if you want to take it on the topline, is this plan something that can pass the United States Senate or the U.S. House? The short answer is no, it absolutely cannot. That's not how it works. The president doesn't send something to the Hill as you know and immediately have it on the floor and have it passed. I think the reasons why are important to dig into here because this will be some of the parameters in terms of the debate and we don't have a timeline to have that debate. You make a good point. Look at the pathway to citizenship. That is a major issue for a lot of conservative Republicans. Particularly over here in the House. What they were willing to accept, most wanted legal status, not citizenship, but just keep it to the 690,000 or so people who are under DACA protection.

That's what the White House is talking about with 1.8 million people. You talk about the wall, what is interesting is that the wall isn't necessarily a huge issue for Democrats. It is a shiny object, something they're opposed to, but the bigger issue is when you go deeper. You talk about a dramatic shift in the U.S. legal immigration system, you look at the White House proposal. You talk about family migration, limiting that to just spouses and children. That is a major shift.

Talk about ending the diversity visa lottery program, which is currently 50,000 visas and shifting it elsewhere. Those are major changes and red lines now for Democrats. I think that's why you see while some Republicans are opposed, some like that idea, that's why you see this proposal on its face doesn't have a lot of future on the Hill, but it is an interesting look at how the breakdown will end up in the coming days.

KEILAR: Yes, it certainly is.

Phil Mattingly, on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

Joining me is Republican Congressman Jason Lewis, of Minnesota. He is also on the House Budget Committee.

Sir, you just heard this proposal. You're aware of it. I wonder what you think about it. Is it something you can support?

REP. JASON LEWIS, (R), MINNESOTA: It is a starting point. That's all it is. Whether it is the House or the Senate. There will be changes to this. Look, my litmus test is simple, we have to make certain we put in place in the plan something that won't have another DACA crisis two years, four years, 10 years, 30 years down the road. And so you have to have provisions in any plan that make certain we don't go through this again and again and again. And that's going to be the starting point, I think, for all the negotiations.

KEILAR: So what needs -- what parts need to change? What parts you say it is a starting point. What don't you like?

LEWIS: The pathway to citizenship, without limits on chain migration, then you have a whole host of people that can then sponsor their relatives to come in and you got to a de facto amnesty plan there. You got to limit one or the other. There was a plan to go to 650,000, 690,000 DACA recipients. Maybe give them a pathway to citizenship. But now you got to 1.8 million, if they get -- they can sponsor somebody and give them a green card and then you've got the same problem we had.


KEILAR: But this would overhaul family reunification or chain migration, depending what side of the debate you're on this. This would overhaul that.

LEWIS: And that has to happen. That's what some on the left don't like about this plan. That's something that though I think those of us in the House are look at this, absolutely has to happen. You've got to make certain that we quit subsidizing unskilled illegal immigrants coming into the country and making it very difficult for skilled immigrants. Limiting the visa lottery would give us more visas to give to skilled immigrants.

KEILAR: What about people on the right who agree with you on that and I don't know your family background, but I mean genealogists looked at this and folks arguing against what they call chain migration are here because of it, because if you look back, generations, that is how people in their family came to the U.S. They didn't come based on a meritocracy program.

[11:35:49] LEWIS: That's a little too clover. Prior to 1965 and the Kennedy, quote/unquote, "reforms," there were members coming from other parts of the world. Immigration restrictions were much greater than they have been. But above and beyond that, right now we're talking about illegal immigration plus legal immigration and trying to come up with a comprehensive plan that can satisfy all corners. I don't think I would be going back to earlier in the 20th century to put forth a plan. It was much more restrictive in many ways.

KEILAR: Even though family reunification or chain migration was used then, you think it is not actually apples to apples, even if it was more restrictive?

LEWIS: I don't think so. I don't think so. Here is the problem, when you have illegal immigrants coming and you grant them de facto amnesty and the ability then to sponsor someone for a green card, that is amnesty. It is not like you're saying someone came here, went through the process legally and then sponsored their parent or a spouse or something like that, we're talking about granting some form of undocumented legal status to 1.8 million people and the president's proposal, far fewer, for instance, than Representative Goodlatte's proposal.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about this "New York Times" story reporting. CNN confirmed this. That the president ordered Bob Mueller fired but backed off of it when the White House counsel threatened to resign over it. What do you make of it?

LEWIS: Well, I think the president had a pretty good discussion with his advisers and came to the right decision. That's a good thing. I think the Mueller investigation ought to go forward. I also think we ought to get to the bottom of what could be corruption in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We do not want the federal government spying on American citizens with warrantless wiretaps. So both issues have to be addressed. But I think the president came to the right decision on that.

KEILAR: So you believe the story?

LEWIS: I don't know. There have been so many stories on this particular, quote/unquote, "Russia investigation," I don't know what to believe anymore. We'll see.

KEILAR: Well, this story in particular has sources. CNN confirmed it. FOX News confirmed it. Does that give you some confidence it may be true?

LEWIS: Well, perhaps. I mean, I'm inclined to believe those sources, but by the same token, a number of corrections brought forth by member of the mainstream media on the Russian story already. Every network, every newspaper had to issue corrections and we can go through them. I don't think it is necessary.

KEILAR: Any correction on any story to you makes you doubt the totality of everything and all of the stories?

LEWIS: No, I just think that there is a zealousness out there. People want to be the first to get a story out or drive the nail home and they don't use sometimes good journalism to get that done. There are a lot of people out there that have problems with anonymous sources. I understand the journalistic view of it. You need the sources to get the breaks. We can use more discretion in covering this, you bet.

KEILAR: All right, Congressman Lewis, thank you so much for joining us on this Friday, from Minneapolis. We appreciate it.

LEWIS: My pleasure.

KEILAR: Have a wonderful weekend.

Coming up, riding a wave of strong economic numbers, President Trump tells world leaders that America is open for business. How is the president's America First message being received abroad?


[11:42:38] KEILAR: President Trump putting a new spin on his protectionist rhetoric this morning, the man who championed America First during his first year in office had a new message for global leaders during his speech at an economic summit in Switzerland. He says America is open for business. The economy is healthy, the stock market is booming. And he's ready to make new trade deals on one condition.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal because in the end, unfair trade undermines us all.

The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices.

The United States is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries. This will include the countries in TPP, which are very important.


KEILAR: And I'll bring in Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst. She served on President Obama's national security council. And Bill Reinsch with us as well, former president of the National Foreign Trade Council and senior adviser and Scholl chair in international business at CSIS.

Bill, you watched this speech, when you watched the president's -- the entirety of his trip to Davos, he had this strong America First message, less dark than his inauguration speech a year ago for sure. What was the reception at this global forum?

BILL REINSCH, SCHOLL CHAIR IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, CSIS & FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FOREIGN TRADE COUNCIL: Well, I think as somebody who was there said, when expectations are low, it is an easy bar to get over. I think that he probably got over the bar, I don't think that he reassured them, I don't think they expected to be reassured, but neither did he panic them. KEILAR: What did you think of the speech, Sam?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I thought it was tone deaf and I think it was a very big missed opportunity. I think tone deaf in the sense that the president ran through all of these accomplishments of his own, of America. And from an audience that is focused on integration and interconnectedness, this is like a bad sales pitch to the wrong product team. And, you know, the president said when he first got to Davos he was acting as America's cheerleader.

The fact is, America used to act using his metaphor as the team captain for the international order. He used his platform to talk about America First. And this diminished U.S. credibility again. There is aren't polling out from gallop that shows the president's approval ratings are at an unprecedented low around the world, beneath President Xi and beneath President Putin. And instead of trying to repair that image, the president used talking points that are not resonating.

[11:45:18] KEILAR: Bill, when you look at this, sounds like I wonder do you agree there was a mismatch between the audience and the message which maybe we expected.

REINSCH: Sure. He was going to the lion's den. It is the very group of people that he spent the campaign attacking. So favorable reception wouldn't be expected. And I'm inclined to agree in one respect that it was a missed opportunity because with -- on -- with respect to unfair trade practices and particularly on China, those are best dealt with multilaterally. This was an attempt to rally everybody else. He didn't do that. In that sense, it is a missed opportunity. I kind of give him some credit for be willing to go and talk to these people after all he said about them, though.

KEILAR: That is a good point.

When you look at the economy, and look at economic indicators, new GDP numbers strong today. The economy grew 2.3 percent last year. Democrats will say, and they may be right in some regards, look, we saw this with President Obama, they'll say those are from the Obama year policies and he can just claim credit because he's president. That's how it works. Obama got to do that on certain things. He's president. He's been in for a year. It is not like he just started yesterday. Doesn't he get some credit?

VINOGRAD: Sure, he gets some credit. Look, going back to the World Economic Forum, they agree the global economy is seeing a recovery. And of course, any U.S. economic growth is good for that global economy. But the World Economic Forum, the forum that President Trump just left, issued a report -- I don't know if the president bothered to read it -- that shows that there are still major downside risks including widening inequality, particularly in advanced economies. It is very positive that economic growth is picking up. But we need to drill further down into the numbers.

KEILAR: And, Bill, it really comes down to what do Americans feel. So what should we be focused on economically when we think of what Americans are going to actually be feeling day to day in the pocketbook?

REINSCH: Well, it is always jobs and growth. And it is income, but I think jobs and I think the last comment was right, there is a growing inequality problem globally. But particularly here in the United States. And the president is -- spoke to that during the campaign, in some respects, but I don't think he's articulated or presented policies that really address it. I think it is very hard to make the case that the tax bill is going to decrease inequality. And, frankly, very hard to make the case that trade policy will decrease inequality.

KEILAR: Bill Reinsch, thank you so much, Samantha Vinograd. Appreciate both of you.

Coming up, breaking news on the deadly flu outbreak gripping the country. Dozens of children have died. Entire school districts are closed. And the CDC is warning that flu season is nowhere near over. We have Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a lack a look at how bad this has gotten and how to protect yourself next.


[11:52:56] KEILAR: Now, this just in. Nearly every state in the nation is now reporting widespread flu activity and the CDC warns that the virus will likely be around for several more weeks. 12,000 new cases confirmed just last week. Already 37 kids have died. Some hospitals in California are overwhelmed with flu cases, and an entire school district in Florida is closed today because of a spike in the flu.

I want to bring in CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

People are looking at this, Sanjay, and they're wondering why is it so bad this year?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Expect it to go until at least the beginning of April. It really has to do with the type of flu strain. There's all these different types of flu that are out there. The one that's moving around a lot this year, as you pointed out most of the country, is H3N2. The last time that was circulating pretty widely was back in 2014-15, and that was a pretty bad flu season as well. You may remember. We've been lucky the past couple flu seasons, so this one seems much worse compared to recent years, but not that different to when this particular strain circulates.

KEILAR: So what can you do to protect yourself? And also, at what point, if you have the flu, or you think you may have the flu, do you say, OK, I need to go in and get some medical help?

GUPTA: For the first question, I would still say the flu shot is important. I know people are sometimes skeptical of the flu shot. This year, they say it's about 30 percent effective, which is not great. In previous years, it's been 60, 70 percent effective. But it's still better than nothing. Not only can it help reduce your chance of getting the flu but also decrease how sick you get if you do get the flu.

When you should go in? Most people don't need to go into the emergency room or hospital. In fact, that could be the way you get additionally sick or get exposed to other people. If your breathing is getting worse, if you're starting to develop some sort of chest pain or something like that, if your fever continues to spike, those are all signs.

Here's another one, especially for kids, Brianna. If a child gets better, they seem to recover from the flu and they're getting better, and then a few days better they suddenly get worse again, that's a red flag to pay attention to. That could mean they now have a bacterial infection on top of the viral infection. Those are clues to keep track of, especially for yourself and your children.

[11:55:17] KEILAR: So a secondary infection for kids, if they get better and then they're worse.

GUPTA: That's right.

KEILAR: And if you're an adult, it really has to do with breathing and chest pain.

GUPTA: Chest pain. Those are the red flags for adults. But for kids, that's a good thing to keep in your back pocket. Kids getting better, and if they get worse, that's a concern.

KEILAR: That's such a good to point out.

Dr. Gupta, thank you so much, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: We appreciate it.

Coming up, President Trump's trip to Davos overshadowed by the bombshell news that he called for the firing of special counsel, Bob Mueller. Trump is calling the news fake news. But could it have very real consequences in the Russia investigation?