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President taking to twitter early this morning to target Jay-Z; President Trump will pitch his controversial immigration reform plan to the nation during his very first state of the union address; Group of conservative Christian women are praising the Lord for Donald Trump; Two states are now considering to ban football
Aired January 28, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:15] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with me.
Tonight, it is Trump versus tradition. President known for throwing out the script. Breaking every rule of communication. Gets set for perhaps his biggest speech of the year, the state of the union.
This Tuesday night, this is a big moment made even bigger because it is Trump's first midterm election year when the President's party took (INAUDIBLE) at the polls. CNN has learned this speech will try to balance the accomplishments of last year namely economic growth and tax reform with this hopes of inking and immigration and infrastructure deal later this year.
But in an unusual move for President trying to sell his agenda, Trump will not be taking his state of the union message on the road.
For that part of the story, let's bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.
And Boris, we are hearing there is actually some frustration inside the west wing over this decision. What more are you learning?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. Some advisors at the White House believe that this is a missed opportunity for the President to try and gather support for his policies and for some expensive projects too. You mentioned infrastructure. The President on Tuesday is expected to ask Congress for a trillion dollars to fund his infrastructure plan and another $25 billion to fund his long- promised border wall with Mexico.
One senior White House official actually telling CNN that part of the reason the President isn't taking his state of the union message on tour is because he doesn't like traveling saying quote "unless it is a big rally" he is usually not interested. That's really a departure from other Presidents that have used the state of the union and at this point in the calendar as a spring board to sell their message.
Beyond all of that it certainly is interesting because officials are telling us that the tone of the state of the union is said to be an optimistic one, one in which the President will try to reach across the aisle and appeal to people that aren't in his base so the President is trying to grow his approval numbers and try to gain support for his plans for the United States. It certainly surprising he wouldn't go on the road to do that, Ana.
CABRERA: Boris, at the same time the President is preparing for the state of the union he is also in the middle of the spat now with the one of the world's biggest music stars. Tell us more about this.
SANCHEZ: Yes. President taking to twitter early this morning to target Jay-Z, the rapper and entertainment mogul. In part because Jay-Z was on the "VANS JONES" show last night on CNN talking about the President and his consistent statements about African-American and employment numbers being at historic lows and the President taking credit for that.
Jay-Z essentially made the case that despite those low unemployment numbers and despite African-Americans receiving higher wages, that still isn't a sign that the President respects African-Americans and communities of color. The President took to twitter this morning writing quote "somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies black unemployment is at the lowest ever recorded." That's what Jay-Z was asked about. So it is clear that Jay-Z is at least has been told that that is the case. But this kind of is a longstanding thing with the President. Whenever he is criticized, he is not one to hold back a punch, especially on social media - Ana.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House. Let's dig deeper. Thank you.
Our panel is with us now. Joining us the editor of the "Weekly Standard" Bill Kristol, CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign advisor Steve Cortes and CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "the Atlantic" Ron Brownstein.
So Steve, let's start with the President not taking to the road to sell his agenda. White House official tells CNN that if it's not a large rally, the President doesn't care. Does that frustrate you?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no. It doesn't frustrate me because it isn't true, Ana.
Listen, this is man, I tell you, this is a veteran of the campaign. I was always amazed at the pace and hustle of this guy. He is 71 years old now. He was 70 during most of the campaign. Chronologically to be my father. Would run circles around me in terms of the pace he would keep on the campaign trail. I think, by the way, it is one of the reasons he won.
Hillary Clinton was an almost amazingly lazy candidate. Donald Trump is the opposite of that.
CABRERA: So why not take his message on the road?
CORTES: Well, because there is probably some very good reasons. Most of which I think it that he has a legislative agenda for immigration and for infrastructure. Two big Is, right, and he has to get done now. He got taxes done. A generational achievement. Something we haven't done since the 1980s. I believe we are going to get immigration done, also something that hasn't really been addressed since the 1980s. So he has serious business to attend to. But the idea that there is a laziness or a lack of physical attitude, to me, on its phase, that is just not sensible.
CABRERA: Bill, do you think it would help the President trying to accomplish those things Steve just mentioned, immigration and infrastructure, for him to meet more directly with the American people?
[19:05:02] BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: Not honestly. I mean, first of all, Presidents don't really meet directly with the American people especially in President Trump's case. He likes to address large rallies. And you can look at past states of the state of the union addresses and some followed by flops in terms of legislative agenda. Others by successes. And there is not much correlation, I don't think, with how much you travel around or how many speeches you get.
I actually agree with Steve that from the legislative point of view, policy point of view, what happens on February 8th when the government is due to shut down, whether there is a spending deal, what its contours are, what happens with immigration, what happens in infrastructure, foreign policy issues, those are key. He will adjust with the state of the union, I assume, in a pretty standard way. And so I don't think this speech will make much difference.
And of course, this huge thing that is looming over everything is the Mueller investigation. And I think a decision that the White house is going to have to make very soon. I think we are talking two or three or four weeks based on some conversations I have had with people. And you know, don't really know but know people who sort of have that and make sense of how this might work about whether he will testify to Mueller. I believe he will refuse to sit down with Mueller. And I'm just saying, he is going to refuse sit down with Mueller. He will offer to submit a written statement under oath which I believe will not be acceptable to the special counsel. And then I think his White House counsel will quit. And you will have a huge issue to deal with there too.
CABRERA: Hold your thought for just a second, Steve. Because I mean, I think is safe to say on the Mueller investigation, that probably won't come up at the state of the union. Although, President might surprise us, Ron, if he goes off script.
I mean, I'm guessing he is going to talk more about the economy, Ron Brownstein, given that the economy is doing really well. He has a lot to celebrate. Has his tax plan that got rave reviews we know when he went to Davos, Switzerland as well. Is this a chance for Trump to take a victory lap?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is going to I think on the economy. And this has been the biggest impeding selling part for 2018 for Republicans. It will the argument that the economy is doing well. I mean, it is doing well.
On the other hand, the job growth in 2017 was less than in any year of President Obama's second term. And the total economic growth was below what the President was touting was also less than it was in 2015 and 2014. So there are some qualifications there.
And I think the big question that it goes to where you started is can he expand his support beyond his base both politically and legislatively? He is a guy who got 46 percent of the vote in 2016. His approval has been stuck in high 30s. He is down particularly among those college educated white voters who have moved towards Democrats in the suburbs, in Virginia and Alabama. And he poses the greatest threat to Republicans in 2018.
And legislatively, I think one of the most striking aspects of 2017 was that Republicans essentially had to do everything on their own. They were unable to create any pressure on the ten democratic senators running in states that President Trump carried in 2016. There was a little break on Democrats on that on shutting down the DACA. But if he can't get them on infrastructure or immigration and so far there is no indications that these plans are attractive to them, I think he could facing a much more difficult --
CORTES: Ron, isn't it sad that not one Democrat was willing to vote for a tax package which has already delivered bonuses to literally millions of Americans, cash in their pockets, real tangible results. The Trump boom is just beginning. They don't want to get on board because they would rather grand stand above their issues of identity politics and division rather than talk about real which we never saw under the Obama era.
CABRERA: Everyone wants to get in. Well, give a chance for everybody. One at a time.
KRISTOL: That's the kind of outreach, Ana, that the Trump people say they wanted to Democrats and they can't resist in about 0.3 seconds attacking them. Fine. Maybe the Democrats are on oppose the tax bill. I believe the Trump talking point now is supposed to that you are reaching out to Democrats. It is just like we couldn't resist saying, that Hillary Clinton was such a lazy and bad candidate. Didn't you get the Trump memo from last week that you supposed to praise Trump as the greatest President --
CORTES: Tell me what he did right and --
CORTES: Bill, what has he done right? What has he done right in the last year?
KRISTOL: Can I answer? He appointed very good justices to the Supreme Court. Much of the deregulatory agenda was strong. And the economy is doing pretty well. And he start to lean titles --.
CORTES: Sounds pretty conservative to me.
CABRERA: OK. Ron gets the chance to get in here. Let's let Ron speak.
BROWNSTEIN: Steve, as far as I know, the Jerry Springer show is off the air. So let's try to have a conversation.
Look. I think that the, you know, the question really becomes, on all of these policy issues, has the President structured his proposal in a way that Democrats who are in these swing and even red-leaning states feel any pressure to join the, Tax bill had so much of its benefits tilted toward the top, over 60 percent, more than the Bush tax cut that they did not feel that pressure.
On the healthcare bill, you know, in most interior states, the principle beneficiaries under the ACA and the people with the most additional coverage were noncollege whites, who are kind of the swing working class voters were so important to Trump. Democrats did not feel any need to join in that bill.
The immigration proposal that he is putting forward which ties a solution to DACA not only to boarder security but to this escalation of an attempt to significantly reduce legal immigration which is a big movement from the Republican Party where it was certainly ten years ago. And I think Bill can talk about that. The fact that there are many big reductions in legal immigrations I think is going to make it very hard to get any Democrats. Hold on. Hold on.
And then finally on infrastructure, the idea of funding this mostly through private dollars in programs, in projects that are supposed to generate revenue, inherently will concentrate those projects on big metros, not the kind of the rural areas that are more important in North Dakota and West Virginia and Missouri. And the places where there is he big Senate races as well.
So all of those places, he hasn't put together a plan that puts any pressure on Democrats to join with him.
[19:10:54] CABRERA: OK. Let me move the conversation to another topic because I want to ask you about the President's tweet this morning, Steve, attacking Robert, Jay-Z. This was after Jay-Z had said that he was obviously not happy with the President's comments about the African countries. And he called the comments hurtful.
Here is what the President then tweeted in response. Somebody please inform Jay-Z, that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the lowest rate than ever recorded.
Steve, does the President suggesting that African-Americans should just ignore his racist remarks because they have jobs?
CORTES: Swell, Ana, I take issue with calling him a racist.
CABRERA: I'm not calling him a racist. Some of his remarks, though.
CORTES: OK. Well, you said racist remarks, though, Ana. And I don't believe -- by the way, speaking bluntly about troubled countries is not racist. There are also light countries that are incredibly troubled. Belarus, for example is incredibly poor, incredibly tyrannical. So there are countries in the world that are very troubled. Race doesn't necessarily have anything to do with that.
But I will say this as an Spanish supporter of Donald Trump. I would tell communities of color whether it is Jay-Z, whether it is my Hispanic compatriots. The Democratic Party has taken you for granted for decades. They care about you a lot on election time. In between, do they really care about your prosperity, about you having to compete for example with illegal immigrant labor in the wage market? They don't really care about you other than they exploit you in a way which I would argue is actually inherently racist.
Donald Trump is saying, we are going to make your lives better. We are going to make them prosperous and safe. And so far, one year in, he is delivering on that promise. And I believe, by way, that's why he did far better than anybody ever imagined he would do in 2016 among Hispanics. And I believe he will win Hispanics in 2020.
CABRERA: When we look at unemployment among people of color, it is true. Black unemployment is at its lowest rate ever. But one could argue it isn't all because of this president's policy. He just takes credit. But it has been on a downward trend since Obama took office as you look at this graph here. The unemployment rate among blacks is still higher, however, than that of other races.
Bill, context matters, right?
KRISTOL: Sure. But again, I come back to I think Ron made the right point. Look, if you, you know, you can have a pre-election campaign, the President (INAUDIBLE). But it is striking how much Trump as in Trump himself and his spokesman think their task is to keep bashing the Democrats which I am a Republican. It is OK with. They met a lot of mistakes and I'm happy to criticize lots of things about the Obama administration.
CORTES: Are you Republican, Bill?
KRISTOL: Yes, I am. Actually, I have worked in Republican White House --.
CORTES: OK. It doesn't seem like it.
KRISTOL: I'm sorry if it wounds your something for me to criticize the current President.
CORTES: Doesn't wound anything on me. But doesn't seem like it on me.
KRISTOL: Good. Well; if I can finish -- sorry if it doesn't seem like it to you but if I could finish the point.
CABRERA: Please continue.
KRISTOL: The point is as a practical matter, they need Democratic votes. I mean, they are not going to jam things through with 51 Republican senators or even in the House any more they can use reconciliation. So I mean, as a practical matter, honestly, the President will be well-advised to reach out to Democrats to negotiate with them on immigration as he has shown temptations he has been tempted to do but he has backed off.
And on other issues, I'm just saying, if he wants the legislation to pass, he is going to need Democratic votes. That's just a fact. Now if you think you can run, you know, on 2018 congressional campaign and 2020 reelection campaign against Hillary Clinton and against the Democrats, maybe I'm a little doubtful about that but I would think you would want to pass some legislation this year. And for that, you need to tone of reaching out to Democrats and not looking for every opportunity to ridicule them or to attack them for, you know, cheating Hispanics badly and so forth.
BROWNSTEIN: And Ana, real quick. I think you get to the real tension here because on the one hand, it is true. There are long-term trajectories in terms of the improved economic situation in the Hispanics and African-Americans. But it does provide the President potential calling card in those communities. In fact that those trends are continuing under his presidency.
The problem is if you got so many policies on the other side of the ledger, when Republicans are saying or when the President is endorsing plans to significantly reduce the ability of family members -- U.S. citizens sponsor their family members except for spouses and minor children. When you have all of the fights over kind of policing in communities, when you have all of the inflammatory tweets ended African-American targets, including the latest one, it is very hard for that economic message to be hard when the President - when many in those communities feel the President is in essence saying he does not consider them full citizens.
[19:15:19] CORTES: But Ron, who suffers the most from uncontrolled illegal immigration? It is Blacks and Hispanics who suffer the most from uncontrolled illegal immigration.
BROWNSTEIN: Given that, why is reducing legal immigration, radically reducing legal immigration now such a central component of the President's proposal for any resolution.
CORTES: I don't want to reduce legal immigration. But I want to do it better. I'm going to it merit base, not --.
BROWNSTEIN: The plan that they put it out would reduce it by 40 percent and not in fact shifted toward merit base. Just reduce the ability of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their family members. Is that something you are comfortable with? CORTES: No. I want them to sponsor their spouses and minor children.
But the idea that one immigrant gets here and by the way sometimes gets here because of lottery, which is insanity. One person gets here and suddenly the whole village is here. Well, that's insanity. It doesn't make sense (INAUDIBLE). And it doesn't make sense for our national security. And that is the reality. And by the way, if --
KRISTOL: That is not reality --
CABRERA: Hey, finish your thought, Steve. And then Bill, you will get the last word.
Steve, finish your thought.
CORTES: Take a look at recent horrible terrorist takes in New York, both achieved and attempted. Both of them the result of the insane visa lottery system and chain migration. It makes no economic sense, no national security sense. Love immigration but we have to do it better.
CABRERA: The visa lottery, the one that is attacked, I'm not so sure about chain migration. We will get the facts. I got go. I want Bill to get in there real quick.
KRISTOL: There is a reasonable debate to be had about how we should run our immigration policy, the relationship between merit based or skills base and family unification. The kind of demagoguery that we hear from Trump surrogates poisons the atmosphere, makes it impossible for decent people to come together and have a serious conversation about the kind of immigration reform we have should have.
BROWNSTEIN: And just to be clear, the proposal from the President is not to shift toward skills base. It is to reduce the overall level substantially. Biggest reduction since 1920s.
CABRERA: We do have a worker shortage too. That is a fact.
Ron Brownstein, Steve Cortes and Bill Kristol, thank you all for sharing your thoughts with us and your perspective. We really do appreciate the passionate debate.
A reminder to stay with CNN of the live coverage for the President's first state of the union address. It is this Tuesday beginning at 5:00 p.m. eastern when our coverage starts. We will build up to the state of the union.
Coming up, Mueller counter narrative. How conservative media outlets are spinning reports that the President tried to fire the special counsel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a big story that apparently the President of the United States last June wanted to fire Robert Mueller. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Well, the President says it is fake
news. That happened last June. You know, it is something we have to tell you about because it is a headline on the "New York Times." What do you think about that? Do you even care?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:22:17] CABRERA: Welcome back.
Headline after headline after headline this week that would make even the most hardened White House staff uneasy. Multiple outlets reporting on the inner working with the west wing unearthing details the President would probably prefer kept quiet.
The most rattling revelation of course, in fact, President Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller only to be backed off the ledge when the White House counsel refused to follow through. The story is a big deal unless you happen to be in the conservative media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the special counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right it raise those questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Well, the President says it is fake news. That happened last June. You know, it is something we have to tell you about because it is headline in the "New York Times." What do you think about that? Do you even care?
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The story is Trump didn't.
At the end of everything, Trump did not fire Mueller. What are we going to do? Are we going to invoke the 25th amendment on the guy because of what he wanted to do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is joining us now.
So, it seems like the president's defenders have sort of evolved from, you know, there is no collusion to collusion is not a crime to the President cannot obstruct justice to so what if the President tried to fire Mueller, he didn't.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, what's the big deal? There are definitely different strategies that we see from Trump's defenders. And I think that Man Taj shows it really well. Sometimes, did not, say the story is made up. If he can't do that, down play it. Say it is not big deal. Say why do you even care? Or distract. Try to change the subject and talk about something else instead. And we have seen that in a lot of recent days. You have seen the
hashtag release the memo referring to this secret memo that describes alleged surveillance abuses. We may see that memo coming out from GOP congressman in the coming days. Democrats have already said it is misleading. You herd Eric Swalwell on earlier, what did he say, this is basically bunch of nonsense.
STELTER: Right, brainwashing. So we are going to hear more about that in the coming days. We also heard about a secret society text message. Well, that has essentially been debunked. But I have seen Trump is (INAUDIBLE) from one kind of theory to another theory. Sometimes straight up conspiracy theories have been on the airwaves. And a lot of these are really distraction from the core issue of the Russia probes.
CABRERA: Have there been any conservative media you have seen that has said this is a big deal?
STELTER: There is definitely a split. And I think that's an important point. There have been many columnists and websites like "National Review" and "Weekly Standard" saying we have to separate these distractions and these conspiratorial ideas that Sean Hannity is promoting from the real concerns about FISA abuses or the real concerns about Mueller maybe having a situation where he might be overreaching.
That is legitimate and that can be debated I think where this gets complicated and where people get misled. It is when there is this obsession with a deep state plots or other deep state talk, you know. We have seen that from the Russia balls (ph) of the world.
But the reality is, you know, more reporters are fighting more and more evidence that Trump impeded the investigation. May be in a precarious situation. So instead, there has been this total counternarrative. This alternative universal ideas that (INAUDIBLE) the victim of a deep state plot.
[19:25:26] CABRERA: And we know that Robert Mueller, according to "Washington Post" is looking at a pattern as you talked about involving Trump's actions. Let's listen to what we heard from Marc Short, the legislative director on "Face The Nation" this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: To the President never intimates me in any way, desire to fire Mueller. I think that there has been a lot of sensation report on that. Let's keep in mind a few things.
That report dates of some June conversation allegedly. We are now in January. Mueller is still special counsel. Don McGahn is still right in White House counsel's office. Millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars have been wasted of an investigation so far that has proven no collusion with the Russians. So the reality is that Mueller is still special counsel. McGahn is still had White House counsel's office. The President never intimated me in any way desire to fire Robert Mueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So we don't know if Marc Short knew about the President's deliberation. But Brian, he is really not wrong on the facts there.
STELTER: If he doesn't know anything, then he doesn't know anything. And we have seen this time and time again. The White House aides sometimes don't know what happened behind the scenes. So it is not necessarily that they are lying when they are out there making a public statement. It is that they are just not involved or they have not been - this is really involved in the conversations.
Now we know one thing for sure, and that is that Bob Mueller knows a lot more than you or I or even Marc Short. That Bob Mueller knows more about what happened behind the scenes in the White House in the past 12 months. He is still gathering more information, seeking interview with Trump and that is going to dominate headlines I think for weeks to come whether Trump actually grants an interview or not or subpoena or et cetera, et cetera.
But I think that is when I keep coming back to when I hear these comments from White House aides or other Trump allies. And they are saying this is a waste of time and that the investigations found no collusion. We don't know what Mueller knows. And that's what makes it a strange but really intriguing story overall.
SANCHEZ: Real quick, I want to read you something. Bret Stephens (ph) in "New York Times," a conservative writer wrote talking about conservative paranoia. He also warns Democrats not to make the same mistake writing, should the President's critics really be quiet or quite so sure of their suspicions when it comes to Trump's dealings with Russia? Should they invest so much of their credibility on being proved right? And are they prepared for political fallout if they turn out to be wrong? Does Stephens have a point?
STELTER: Former defense secretary Bob Gates was on one of the morning shows today making a very similar point. Don't assume you know what Mueller is going to find. Don't assume you know what the outcome is going to be. And we have heard from I think many respected leaders on the right and the left is to believe what Mueller finds because he has the integrity and the credibility to get to the bottom of it.
CABRERA: Brian Stelter, good to see you.
CABRERA: Thank you. And don't forget, Brian's show is on Sundays at 11:00, "RELIABLE SOURCES."
OK. Coming up, the President rolls out a new immigration plan with big demands, including border wall and an end to what he calls chain migration. And that has my next guest declaring the President doesn't believe in the American dream. His family story, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[19:32:45] CABRERA: In just two days, President Trump will pitch his controversial immigration reform plan to the nation during his very first state of the union address. And the President is expected to propose a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants. $25 billion for his border wall, cancelling the visa lottery, ending what President have called chain migration also known as family reunification.
I want to take a closer look that. This is a process of allowing legal immigrants to already living in the U.S. to sponsor their close relatives asking to migrate to the country as well. Here are the facts about this.
The U.S. has prioritized relatives of other immigrants. In fact, between 2007 and 2016 seven million of nearly 11 million immigrants who got green cards got them through relatives. But the process is not easy. It is not fast. In fact, waiting lists can be really long- ranging from seven to 70 years, depending on the country you are from.
Let's talk this over with CNN.com contributor and host of "Dean Obedallah show" from Sirius XM, Dean Obedallah.
So Dean, you say Trump's stance on immigration is proof he doesn't believe in the American dream. And I know this is something that is really personal for you and your family. Tell us about why.
DEAN OBEDALLAH, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Sure. I mean, my dad was born in 1929, in what was then Palestine, before the state of Israel, in what is now the West Bank. He moved into Jordan later, worked as cook at the U.S. embassy. Even though he lacked a formal education, he had basic English, his low skill, he knew he wanted to come to the United States of America. And he was lucky enough that work as a cook at the U.S. embassy they would sponsor him. And he came to northern Jersey. And from there, later he brought his brother here and then another brother. To me, that is the American story. It is not chain migration.
CABRERA: Bringing your family here.
OBEDALLAH: Yes. That's me when I was little. And that's, of course, my father - I was very small. And my dad holding me. And my dad's brother who he brought to this country.
The American story is you come here, you get settles, things working out and you want to share this experience. Amazing place. Exceptional place with your family. So they have a better opportunity. So they can live in a place free of war, free of strife. My father was living in the Middle East in a war zone essentially. So this - and my father 's story is not exceptional. It is typical American story. It is not just the American dream, he doesn't get the American story.
[19:35:07] CABRERA: Do you -- when you look at the President's immigration priorities, right, in terms of laying out this plan, he says immigration shouldn't necessarily have to be about family ties. He wants to prioritize people who have the skills that America may be lacking or that the jobs that we need to have filled and have those skills, he wanted to be Americans. What's wrong with that?
OBEDALLAH: You can have skilled and unskilled. Our employers need both. We are in a 17-year low for unemployment right now. He wants the economy to grow. Not having enough after work force will slow down economic growth. And I'm not an economist. That's what economists are saying.
To me, my dad was unskilled. He would not have been allowed in this country. I wouldn't be here. My cousins wouldn't be here. And they gone on to become doctors and lawyers and engineers, small business owners. That is the American story.
Donald Trump is trying to end the next chapter in the American story. This is a radical departure from what we have right now. You know, Donald Trump said, art least reportedly, he wanted more people from Norway. Why would you want strangers come in to this country as opposed to people who have a family connection, who have a brother here or a sister in this country? That makes it easier to assimilate and be part of this country as opposed to someone who might be skilled and just throw them in American. I think it makes much more sense this way.
CABRERA: Yes, it is interesting because the President and some of his own extended family members came to the U.S. and settled here through this family unification process. His mother came to the U.S. from Scotland to join his sister who already living in the U.S.
But I want to turn to a different topic because I want to get your take on some comments the President made just this week as we have sat here and talked previously about some of the anti-Muslim rhetoric that he has done, some of the actions that he has taken that have offended you personally and other Muslims.
He was asked by Piers Morgan about retweeting those inflammatory videos from the UK, far right group and here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN, TV HOST: And I get an apology just because the retweets.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, if you are telling me --
MORGAN: I think it would go a long way.
TRUMP: Here is what is fair. If you are telling that there are people -- horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that. I know nothing about that.
MORGAN: And you would disavow yourself with people like that.
TRUMP: You are telling me about these people because I know nothing about these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So Dean, I mean, this is a President who doesn't usually apologize and he was saying there he would apologize. How does that make you feel?
OBEDALLAH: I think the American-Muslim community would be willing to listen if he would come to mosque and talk to us. Apologized not just for that, for saying Islam hates us or trying to ban us from this country simply because of our faith, from demonizing a line say that we are hiding terrorists in our midst.
He would apologize for all that. In fact, I would recommend for President Trump to go to every communities demonized in the - when he was running for office, in the second year for a fresh start. Go to transgender Americans and apologized for trying to ban in the military. Go to Latinos, immigrants, apologize to them. Apologize to women for the Me Too movement that he called women liars for coming out forward as victims. Apologize to all of us and start your second year over. Here is a great chance for a reset.
CABRERA: Do you see any progress in what you heard from him in terms of maybe reaching that hand out or that olive branch?
OBEDALLAH: He apologized to Piers Morgan, which is nice. Piers Morgan -- I'm glad Piers Morgan raised that point. Donald Trump has retweeted numerous white supremacists during the campaign. And even after Charlottesville, retweeting an alt-right person, he has never apologized to the communities. He continues to double down and demonized. Even the comments with Jay-Z just smell of dog whistle racism once again.
If President Trump could have any reset in the second term, it would be to go to the communities you attacked. Go beyond your base. Say hello to them. Talk to them. Apologize to them. Publicly. I made a mistake. Let's hear that on U.S. soil and not far off. And maybe then, he could build some bridges in our community. But this chain migration stuff, it just smacks again of racist dog whistle mean so much to me and then the others in our community.
CABRERA: Dean Obedallah, thank you for sharing your family story. Thanks for coming on.
OBEDALLAH: Thanks for having me.
CABRERA: Coming up, the President and a porn star, what do female Trump voters think of the latest scandal of the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you care if your President had an affair before he was President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not if it was before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His base doesn't care about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:43:28] CABRERA: A group of conservative Christian women are praising the Lord for Donald Trump despite a porn star's accusations with an affair with him. They put their faith in Trump to support their core belief and they are still standing by their man.
CNN's Randi Kaye has more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just speak the truth and speak our hearts regarding our precious President.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year into the presidency and these Dallas women are still thanking God for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that God is the one who ordained him nobody this position.
KAYE: Linda Churchwell and these other ladies all voted Trump. They like his conservative beliefs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has appointed a conservative, he has stood up for pro-life. He does stand up for the freedom of religion and freedom of churches.
KAYE: Does that wipe the slate clean then for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever anyone accepts Christ into their hardened life and asks for forgiveness of their sins and makes them Lord, everybody is slate is wiped clean.
KAYE: So it is no surprise this group couldn't care less about Trump's alleged affair about porn star Stormy Daniels back in 2006.
Do you care if your President had an fair before he was President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Not if it's before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His base doesn't care about that. We care about jobs. We care about the economy. Safety. That's what we care about. It's not relevant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't matter because that's what Christianity is about. It is all about forgiveness. This is all about the beginnings. This is all about starting over. So it is irrelevant to me about what he did in 2016. KAYE: You all look to your faith?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
[19:45:01] KAYE: They agree with evangelical leader, Toni Perkins that as long as Trump keeps pushing forward his conservative agenda, he deserves a pass or quote "mulligan" as Perkins puts it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole concept is mercy and grace. That's what Christianity is about. That's what those preachers and pastors represent grace. They use the word mulligan.
KAYE: So a mulligan is grace?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were using sports --.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never really heard that term before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Randy, we all have gotten a mulligan because of the Christ Jesus. And so that's the bottom line.
KAYE: And these women also agree with reverend Franklin Graham who says Donald Trump is a changed man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This man who is a successful businessman did not have those people praying no him daily like now. He has transformed even in the year we have seen him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From a brash New York person to the President that we are proud of today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we are all different people today than we were in 2006. He is a father, a grandfather. When you have children the way you look at the world changes.
KAYE: But when you look at evangelical Christianity, you know, it is about family, it is about being faithful, and yet this doesn't seem to bother any of you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well you know what bothers me are the stories that detract from all the good things he is doing for the American people. Instead of hearing that, we are hearing old news from someone that's not really that credible from a stripper porn star.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is doing the best job that we have ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So proud.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a President.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I can in the short time can stand proud as an American again.
KAYE: Among this group of Christian women, at least, Donald Trump can do no wrong.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Dallas.
CABRERA: Coming up, it is a question many parents are asking. Should I let my child play tackle football? Two states are now considering a ban. I'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about it next.
[19:51:18] CABRERA: Football is on the minds of a lot of people including lawmakers in Illinois and New York, two states now looking add laws aimed at keeping kids under 12 years old from playing tackle football all together. Now the concern, of course, is brain injuries. And I talked about this with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that when it comes to trying to really understand what is causing this problem in the brain, whether it's an adult or a child, we focus a lot on the concussions, right? People sort of look at these concussions and those are the more obviously sort of blows to the head and brain injuries, but what we have learned a lot over several years is that it's these sub-concussive hits. It is a kind of hit when you just hit your head, you really think nothing of it. It's football. And what we now realize is that those smaller hits do add up over time. It's -- they add up and they can cause a problem with the brain later on, and they can cause a brain even in teenagers or people who are -- you would not expect it to be that young, actually, getting this sort of injuries.
So I would say that, you know, even within practices, where they are constantly doing drills, heading their heads over and over again as part of a practice or a drill, or being tackled, obviously, in head- to-head impact, those are concerning. Even if they have not causing concussions.
Whether or not you can still have the sport and call it tackle football, but not have the tackle games or not have tackling at all, that's almost a philosophical discussion. But I think it's important to keep in mind these sub-concussion hits in young children can lead to problems down the road. We have seen that.
CABRERA: And we have covered a lot of those stories involving some of these professional athletes, who, unfortunately, died, and then their brains are examined, and there are symptoms and signs of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Do you think that children's brains in particular are vulnerable if they have these reoccurring hits at a young age in terms of what happens to them later in life?
GUPTA: I think so. And we have covered this for some time and seen the pathology labs where they are actually -- did some early studies, and I have seen this in someone as young as 17 years old. I saw that myself. The people who have been researching this for some time say they see this in teenagers. And it is typically in people who have been playing football, may not have even had a significant history of concussions, but likely have had repeated blows to the head either from these drills, again, in practice or from the game itself. It's not even clear where all these blows to the head come from.
But you are talking about hundreds of blows to the head that some of these kids and, you know, younger players will take. There is a relationship between these blows to the head and CTE. That is something that 10-15 years ago we could not say definitively, but we can that definitively now. And it starts at pretty young age.
CABRERA: And so for those who will be watching the super bowl next week say, you know, this is America's past time. People have been playing the sport for so long. How bad can it be? Is a ban like this worth it?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I love football. I love watching football, you know. And there's a lot of things about football that I think they have done in recent years to make it safer and decrease the number of hits.
I think that there has to be a full education, frankly, of players at any age about what exactly is going on, what the risks are of the game. I think that those risks have been long over -- understated. You know, people thought, I got my bell rung, get back in and play. You still hear that.
That's not the case. A concussion is not even the right word. It's a traumatic brain injury. If you start to look at it that way and say, you know, my child, whoever the person is just experienced a traumatic brain injury, that changes everything. It changes the way that you approach it. It changes the way that you treat it, how long you keep someone out of the game.
Are we ready to say, is it worth it? As a country, we should be asking that question. I think for the time being, these individual leagues and, obviously, the individual players really need to ask it for themselves, and in the case of the child, ask with your family.
[19:55:30] CABRERA: Yes. I'm a parent. I have a 6-year-old son. And my husband and I have these discussions because it's -- you want them to have fun and have the full childhood experience, but there are safety obviously is number one. A lot of decisions to be made around that.
Thank you very much, Doctor Sanjay Gupta. Really appreciate your perspective.
GUPTA: You got it, Ana. Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, the state of the President ahead of the state of the union. Will he stick to the script and reach beyond the people who voted for him?