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Trump Lands in Texas to Tour US Border with Mexico; Trump Calls Talks with Top Democrats A Waste of Time; Trump Continues to Push for Border Wall; Trump Holding A Roundtable Talk with Officials in Texas. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 10, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: And we begin with breaking news this hour. I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome to the program. Donald Trump has just

landed in Texas to tour the U.S. border with Mexico after saying he, quote, almost definitely will declare a national emergency to build his border

wall. President Trump is trying to make the case that illegal immigration has put the country in crisis. The facts do not support this. He needs

extraordinary powers to end a funding dispute that's triggered the ongoing government shutdown. Congress, especially Democrats, are saying they will

not appropriate money to fund the wall. He says he's still open to making a deal with Congressional Democrats but claims they don't care about border

security and, quote, don't give a damn about crime. This is of course the rhetoric he's been using for several weeks as the government shutdown is

extending into its third week. The top House Democrats, say Mr. Trump, is manufacturing a political soap opera.


NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MAJORITY SPEAKER: We all support border security. We take an oath to protect and defend the American people. And to defend the

constitution as we do so. That's what this debate is about. There's a better way, a more effective way to protect, to secure our border, and that

is what the debate should be about. If you believe in your argument, and you're convinced that you're right and you think you can persuade others,

you don't have to shut down government to strengthen your hand.


GORANI: Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. Let's get straight to the U.S./Mexico border. Ed Lavandera is many McAllen, Texas. We're also

joined by Abby Phillip in Washington. Ed, let's start with you. I understand the President has landed and he's on his way to a round table.

What are we expecting in the next few minutes?

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you did mention, he has landed here in McAllen, Texas. He's expected to come here to one of the principal Border

Patrol stations. You can see just across the street where we're being held back from, but it's inside that border patrol station where the President

is expected to arrive here within the next few minutes. We're told he will engage in a round table discussion there with law enforcement officials and

other members of the community here in the McAllen area. We're also told he'll be visiting an area along the Rio Grande, which is obviously just a

few more minutes' drive from where we are here in these border towns where he will tour an area that's close to the river there. So, all of this is

expected to unfold here over the course of the next three hours as the President lands here in McAllen.

GORANI: And Abby Phillip, will he declare a national emergency? He said he could if he doesn't strike a deal with the Democrats.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President's definitely leaving that possibility open, but White House aides tell us that today he

doesn't plan to do it down in Texas. And though yesterday the plan had been for White House counsel to travel with President Trump down to Texas,

we have now learned that he did not, in fact, travel with President Trump on this trip to the border. What that means is anyone's guess, but there

is another data point here. A couple minutes ago as the President was flying down to Texas, he announced he was no longer planning on traveling

to Davos, Switzerland, for that economic forum convention that he had planned to go to about 12 days from now. Now, what that means is anyone's

guess, but it does signify that perhaps President Trump thinks this shutdown could be going on at least as long as 12 days from now. That's

quite a long time.

Federal workers would be on the verge of experiencing a second missed paycheck, but it's an indication that the White House isn't preparing to

end the shutdown imminently, either by striking a deal with Democrats or by announcing some kind of national emergency. On the other hand, the

President did suggest this morning when he left, t the White House that beyond declaring a national emergency, he believes he has other tools, to

use executive power to fund the wall without going through Congress. All of these scenarios, we believe, would require some kind of legal

justification and would likely be challenged almost immediately in the courts. So, it seems that all the paths forward here are very perilous for

the White House. The path through Congress seems to be stalled, at least as of right now.

[14:05:00] GORANI: All right. And Ed, fact check, most Americans don't want a wall. I wonder where you are in Texas, is there any appetite, any

support for the idea of building a physical barrier on America's southern border?

LAVENDERA: Reporter: You know, by and large, the simple answer is the majority of people probably don't want to see any more wall that's already

here, but it is important to also point out that there is a vocal minority here that is very supportive of the idea of adding more wall structure here

to the border region. They talk about it much more nuanced than this conversation is held in Washington or, quite frankly, the way the President

holds the discussion as well. So, there is some support, especially among the law enforcement community here in the border, of building more wall

structure in strategic places. But by and large, the idea of adding much more wall overwhelmingly is an unpopular idea.

GORANI: All right. And Abby, I wonder if, indeed, the President goes down the national emergency declaration route or circumvents Congress in some

other way, would Republicans in Washington on capitol hill support him?

PHILLIP: Well, there are many Republicans who would support him and who have already voiced their view that this is well within President Trump's

powers, but there are others who are perhaps more libertarian who have expressed concern about the use of executive power in the past who have

said we don't think this is an appropriate use of executive power. I think you'll see that divide really becoming plain. The President has been

emphasizing that Republicans are so united behind him on this issue of the wall, but those cracks will begin to show if he decides to move forward

with the national emergency, it would be highly controversial. These things are usually reserved for, frankly, nonpartisan determinations that

the country is in some kind of national security risk. While many Republicans and Democrats agree that there is a humanitarian crisis at the

border with these families, family units coming over at record numbers, there are real questions about whether either the military ought to be used

to solve that problem or if siphoning money away from other parts of the government is --

GORANI: And Abby, I just want to tell our viewers what they're seeing now. The Presidential motorcade is making its way to that building where the

round table will take place. We saw our Ed Lavandera covering this kind of move out of the way. Maybe we can go back to that live shot. It gives us

a sense of what's going on there. I don't know if Ed is still connected to me. Is he?

LAVENDERA: I am here, Hala. I can hear you.

GORANI: Ed, what's going on here? We're seeing the Presidential motorcade it looks like.

LAVENDERA: Right. We just saw the President come by in one of the SUVs. This is the rest of the motorcade here you see along the main road that's

in front of the border patrol station here. So, the President has just gone inside the gate there, the rest of the motorcade following behind.

We're about a ten-minute drive, if you will, from the Rio Grande and the borderline here. So, this is an area -- and this has really been an area

that's ban ho been a hot bed of activity dating back to this summer with the President's zero tolerance immigration policy. It's here in McAllen of

this Rio Grande valley where you saw that explosion of children being separated from their families. So, this has been really the ground zero of

this immigration debate here throughout the course of this year here in this city. And it is at this border patrol station that you see behind me

that's been really the focal point of everything that's unfolded here over the course of the last year in the U.S. immigration policy.

GORANI: All right, Ed Lavandera. We'll let you go there in McAllen, Texas. Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you. We could hear a small

group of people there shouting out "build that wall" behind Ed there in support of the President. Let's talk more about these developments with

two of our political analysts. David Drucker is a senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner". Maria Cardona is the

Democratic strategist. I'll go to you first, Maria. The President is saying there's a crisis, that he's willing to try to find ways to

circumvent Congress to get this border wall funded. What is your take on what's going on today?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a complete and total lie that this is any kind of national security crisis. If it was, he would

have done this when he actually had all of Congress, both the Senate and the House, and he would have done it at the beginning of his term. Yes, he

did run on a border wall, but he ran on it and he rallied on it as if it was simply just a political talking point that he knew would work for his

base, many of whom are very anti-immigrant. That is exactly what gave him a leg up on all of his other competitors during the 2016 election. Now he

feels caught against a wall and a hard place, essentially, because he's not able to now deliver on that promise because the reality is now with a

Democratic Congress he has to actually use facts and try to use reality to try and negotiate.

[14:10:00] and he has not done that because the facts are not on his side. It is a humanitarian crisis, Hala. And I was there at the border exactly

where ed is right now over the summer when kids were being put in cages as they were being separated from their families. That is the true problem

that we actually need to deal with.

GORANI: And David, of course the facts don't support the notion that this is a national emergency or that the border area is in crisis. In fact,

illegal entries have come down quite significantly over the last decade. However, all that set aside, can the President pull this off?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the President can try and do whatever he wants. I think it would end up tied up in court. He'd be

right back where he started with a whole host of immigration issues that he has said he wanted to solve that he's not solving. I think Maria made a

really good point in that the President could have put forward a very robust legislative agenda when he had a Republican Senate and a Republican

House. They could have proposed a whole bunch of immigration changes. Building the wall is just one of the things that the President's complained

about. There are a lot of things, interior enforcement, dealing with asylum issues, overloaded court systems, a whole bunch of things that

Republicans and Democrats could agree on. Even if they couldn't agree, he would have had a better chance of cornering Senate Democrats in the

minority and possibly getting things done. But he's been unable to negotiate changes because I don't think he understands the way Congress

works. A lot of people, right and left, don't trust him to keep his word in negotiations. So, he ends up in this position where he's fighting but

not achieving. If he wants to get something done, whether it's building a border wall or anything else, he's going to have to work with Democrats,

offer them things that they would like in exchange. This has happened in the past. And he'd be able to get something done. Both sides remain dug

in, however. I think right now they find the fight more politically advantageous than actually moving toward the center together. That's

definitely where the President is, but I also think Democrats in the House right now find more value in opposing the President than trying to meet him

in the middle. Whether he'd meet there is another story.

But where do you meet in the middle on the issue of funding a wall? It's very simple. There's the issue of legalizing permanently all the DACA

kids. There are millions of illegal immigrants in the United States that you could legalize and offer a path to citizenship or at least a path to

permanent legalization. There is, as Maria mentioned, the humanitarian issues at the border that both parties support, the human trafficking

issues both parties support. If you started to put all of these issues together and not simply ask for money for a border wall, it would give a

lot of Democrats second thoughts. If they believed they could trust the President as a negotiating partner, I believe they could get somewhere.

The trust issue is something I don't think we're going to solve, but the lack of an offer is another issue. If the offer was made, I think that

you'd see Democrats start to contemplate a deal.

GORANI: Maria, by the way, I just want to tell our viewers what they're seeing. This is the round table discussion. These are preparations for

this round table discussion the President will be holding with immigration and local officials there in McAllen, Texas. What would it take, do you

think, to break this deadlock so that the government can reopen and these hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers can get their paychecks


CARDONA: I actually think it's very simple. You hit the nail on the head. What it's going to take is for this President to back off of holding

800,000 federal workers hostage. Reopen the government and then sit down with Democrats. They have said this. They are willing to negotiate, even

on his ridiculous wall, on a broader package of all of the immigration issues that David just mentioned. And he's right. A lot of Democrats

understand and want to fix our broken immigration system, but this is not the forum and this is not the way to do it. I think it's also important to

mention to your international audience, Hala, that they know Democrats were actually on the same page as members of -- Republican members of Congress

earlier this year when they passed several bills that they thought and were told by the White House's vice President that President Trump would sign

until he heard from his anti-immigrant base and conservative right-wing commentators here in the United States that that deal did not include the

wall and how dare he support that.

[14:15:00] From that moment on, he backed off and that's when he decided to demand the $5.6 billion for his wall. That is not how you govern the

greatest country in the world.

GORANI: Maria and David, we're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back. We'll continue our coverage. Thanks for staying with us.

The President is about ready to take his seat at this round table discussion in McAllen, Texas. He's joined by local officials, immigration

officials as well. Let's listen in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an incredible honor to be here and to meet. We just said hello to Reggie. I've seen so much with

Reggie and his incredible brother and family. We're with you. You know that, right? You know that. And we're here to make a tour in a little

while of the border. We have fantastic people with us, including our great senators from the state of Texas. Thank you very much, John and Ted.

Thank you very much for being here. And our lieutenant governor, who's been my friend for a long time. I also hear your son is doing a very good



TRUMP: I hear he's doing a good job. So, I want to thank all of you for being here. We're going to go around the table and say a few words.

Attorney General, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it. What a job you've done. Big victory you had recently. A really important

victory, the individual mandate. We'll see if it holds up. I think you're going to be in great shape. I'm honored to be in McAllen, Texas, with the

heroes of border patrol, and they are heroes. You have so much -- Border Patrol, I.C.E., and law enforcement generally. You take so much heat. You

take so much abuse from people that don't know what they're talking about. I want to just say that you have a friend with this administration, and you

have a friend with me. Nobody does a better job. [applause] and I have to add, you have no idea how much you're loved by the public.

Maybe not by the fake news, but you're loved by the public. Beyond belief. That includes my friend Brandon. Thank you for being so great. You've

been getting the word out, how important it is. Border security, the wall, the steel barrier. They can have any name they want. But we have to have

it, and it's going to happen. But law enforcement and I.C.E. and Border Patrol, incredible job you're doing. The public loves you. The public --

not like, they love you. I hope that none of you reason for President. You may be the one person we have a problem with because you are highly

respected in our country and beyond our country. We know what you do with MS-13. We know what you do with the gangs. We know what you do with

crime. And we also see what you do on the border. Boy, I'll tell you what, it's tough stuff.

But it could be a lot easier for you and you could be spread a lot differently if we had the wall. And we'll get it. We'll get it. I think

we're winning the battle in a very big way. So, I just want to thank you all in particular for being with us. Thank you very much, fellas. Thank

you very much. Really incredible. I want to thank also Secretary NielSEN. Senator John Cornyn has been an incredible champion of what we're doing.

Very popular man in Texas. I think we're running in two years together. That's very good for both of us, I hope. I think it is. It's my honor,

John. I want to tell you, the people of Texas love you. [applause] and we have another great friend of mine, Ted Cruz.

And he is a friend of mine, except for about four or five months in between. I was telling John that Ted and I on the campaign, we liked each

other so much and I said, look, sometime that'll end. But we just -- we actually would do joint appearances together. The press would say, when's

it going to end? I said, it'll happen. Ted would say, too, it'll happen.

[14:20:00] We didn't know it would be quite that violent, but the friendship is at least equal to what it was. I just want to congratulate

you. I was here, we had that arena with about 22,000. That was the Houston arena. That was an incredible night. We had, I think, 109,000 or

106,000 people wanting to come. They had thousands outside. That was a few weeks before the election. I said, I think he's going to win. I think

he's going to win nicely. I want to just congratulate you. That was not easy. Now he lost and wants to run for President. I said, I thought you

had to win to run for President? But you did a great job, ted. We appreciate it.

Texas Attorney General Kent Paxton, who's led some incredible cases. Thank you very much. And Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who's been, again, a

President. I said, I thought you had to win to run for President? But you did a great job, ted. We appreciate it. Texas Attorney General Kent

Paxton, who's led some incredible case. Thank you very much. And Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who's been, again, a friend of mine for a

long time. I also want to thank the governor. He's going on Fox tonight. He sends his regards. We're going to either see him later -- he's coming

into Washington. The governor, who just had a great campaign also, he's been fantastic. A big believer in what we're doing. So, say hello to him

and I'll speak to him later.

Thanks also to Brandon Judd and the National Border Patrol Council. So, Brandon, I've known him from the beginning. Almost before I announced, he

was for my ideas and he was for us. He was for me. I appreciated all your guys coming up last week. They had a big impact. We said to them, what do

you want? Who knows better than them? He knows better than all of us put together. And that group was fantastic that we had in Washington just a

few days ago. And they went on television. Anybody that listened wouldn't have a doubt about it. Brandon, thank you. We appreciate it very much.

Done a fantastic job. The border patrol's Rio Grande valley sector -- who is from the sector? Do you have any specific guys here -- and ladies?

Quite a few. Now, are you tougher than the rest? I don't know, maybe. But I heard special -- oh, there they are. How are you? Come on over

here. [applause]

That's fantastic. I've heard so much about all of you. We're going to spend a little time in a little while together. I don't know if we're

walking or flying, but either one is OK with me. We're going to see a lot. But thank you for being here. In a few moments, the American people will

hear directly from our front-line border agents about the tremendous flood of illegal immigration, drug trafficking, human trafficking, a phenomenon

that has been going on for a thousand years or more, and that you think was something that modern society wouldn't have. Hate to tell you that because

of the internet, it's worse than ever before. Human trafficking, it's a horrible thing. And much of it comes -- it's a world problem, not a U.S.

problem only. They come across the border, and it's a bad thing. And they drive. They just go where there's no security, where you don't even know

the difference between Mexico and the United States. There's no line of demarcation. They just go out, and where there's no fencing or walls of

any kind, they just make a left into the United States and they come in and have women tied up. They have tape over their mouths, electrical tape,

usually blue tape as they call it. It's powerful stuff, not good. And they have three, four, five of them in vans or three of them in backseats

of cars. They just drive right in. They don't go through your points of entry. They go right through.

And if we had a barrier of any kind, a powerful barrier, whether it's steel or concrete, if we had a barrier, they wouldn't be able to make that turn.

They wouldn't even bother trying. Because they can't go through the points with people. So, we would stop that cold. We would stop it cold. And

they can't fly in, obviously, for obvious reasons. So, we'd stop human trafficking in this section of the world. I think we'd stop 90 percent, 95

percent. A tremendous percentage would stop. You also have the criminal gangs coming in. They don't walk through the points of entry. They come

where nobody's around. You're talking about hundreds and hundreds of miles -- 2,000 miles, but we need 500 miles of border.

[14:25:00] One of the things that has happened is -- and I was explaining to the two senators and to Dan in the car that one of the things that

really is happening is without saying it too loudly, and I told him, and Dan said, could you repeat that story, when I say Mexico's going to pay for

the wall, that's what I said. Mexico's going to pay. I didn't say they're going to write me a check for 20 billion or 10 billion. I said they're

going to pay for the wall. If Congress approves this incredible trade bill that we made with Mexico and Canada, by the way, but with Mexico in this

case, they're paying for the wall many, many times over.

Dan said, would you do me a favor, say that. I do say it, but the press sort of refuses to acknowledge it. When I say Mexico is going to pay for

the wall, that's what I mean. Mexico is paying for the wall. I didn't mean please write me a check. I mean simply they're paying for it in the

trade deal. Sometimes I'd say that. Hopefully people will start to understand. Now, if the deal doesn't get approved by Congress, which would

be hard because it's so much better than NAFTA. NAFTA was a horrible trade deal, one of the worst ever made. It really hurt our country. Now we have

the U.S. MCA. It's a great deal. I think that you're going to see some tremendous improvement for the farmers and for the people of Texas. So,

law enforcement professionals at DHS, the men and women in this room have told us what they need to secure our border. These are the people we went

to. It's not only the wall or the barrier. It's the equipment for seizing the drugs. We have tremendous equipment for that. It's expensive, but

tremendous equipment that when you do drive through one of the ports of entry, we have equipment that will be able to detect the drugs. It's the

finest in the world, and we're getting it ready. It's part of what we're asking for. It's not only the wall. And we've taken their recommendations

straight to Congress, but Congress, as you know, the Democrats are holding us up.

Because they don't want it. They think it's good politically. I think it's a disaster for them politically. But I'm not doing it for politics.

I'm doing it because it's right. And before when I left Washington, I said, they can't have a problem with crime. Because the people that are

coming in, the criminals, the gangs, the traffickers, the drugs, it's all crime. And the only way you're going to stop it is the way these people

are strongly recommending that it be stopped, Brandon. So hopefully -- I hear we're making a lot of progress. I hear certain members of Congress,

the Democrats, are saying we better get this thing going. This isn't working out too well for us. Because nobody's going to win the battle of

strong borders and no crime as opposed to open borders and crime doesn't matter because that's what they're saying. Crime doesn't matter. We have

people that have been so horribly hurt, families that have been so horribly hurt by people that just come in like it's -- just come into the United

States, do whatever they want. In many cases, they'll leave and come back. Or in many cases, they stay. We've done a very good job at the border

considering we're not given the right laws. We have laws that are so bad. They're archaic and horrible. We don't have the barrier.

So, our plan includes drug detection technology at our ports, more offices and agents, far more, more beds to house the influx of unlawful migrants,

medical support, closing the disastrous loopholes that incentivize child smuggling, the single biggest victims of what is happening at our border.

Our children, they're being used by the coyotes, sold left and right. People are grabbing them to get in because our laws are really lousy. If

you have a child with you, it's easier to get in. These people know it better than anybody, far better than the people in Washington. I think the

biggest victims are children and women. Women would be right there with the children. These are the victims. It's women mostly in terms of the

smuggling and what's going on with that. So, we're going to take care of this problem. To think anybody can even think about fighting it is

ridiculous. So, we're going to build a powerful steel barrier. They didn't want to use concrete. I said, OK, I'll use steel. It's stronger.

It's also more expensive, by the way. But it's stronger. So, we'll call it a steel barrier. Now people should be happy. They said concrete, we

don't want a concrete wall. I said, that's OK, we'll build a steel wall. I like it better, to tell you the truth. We'll call it a barrier instead

of a wall. I don't care what you call it, but it's got to be there.

[14:30:00] Democrats have refused to listen to the border agents, and they say this is a manufactured crisis. That's their new sound bite. All over.

I call it the opposition party. It's called the fake news media. Every network has manufactured crisis. This is a manufactured -- every one of

them. It's like they send out to everybody, let's use this sound bite today. So, it's a manufactured -- but it's not. What is manufactured is

the use of the word manufactured. It's manufactured by them. Every single of the negatives. But they're not winning because it's common sense. It's

common sense. They say a wall is medieval. Well, so is a wheel. A wheel is older than a wall. And I looked and every single car out there, even

the really expensive ones that the secret service uses, and believe me, they are expensive, I said, "Do they all have wheels?" Yes. "Oh, I

thought it was medieval." The wheel is older than the wall, you know that?

And there are some things that work. You know what, a wheel works and a wall works. Nothing like a wall. The government shut down because

Democrats will not fund border security. Plain and simple. And again, more than just the walls.

Their open borders agenda threaten all American families including millions of legal immigrants throughout our nation.

In the last two years alone, our courageous ICE officers, many of whom are with us, arrested criminal aliens charged with or convicted of 100,000

assaults. This is in the last year. 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings.

We're deeply moved to have with us Reggie Singh, whose brother Ronil, Ronil Singh, incredible guy -- I mean, I watched and I've rarely felt worse in

watching news of our nation than watching your family and the love that you have for your brother. I could see that, Reggie, the way it came through.

It came through loud and clear.

And there's so many other people who have the same -- nobody covers them. You know, when they talk about how unfair, how this, how that. Nobody

talks about how unfair it is to the victims of these brutal killings.

And by the way, over the years, there's thousands of them. I don't mean hundreds. I don't mean in the teens. I mean thousands of them. And these

officers could all tell you about them. And I'd like to, if I could, because I watched a family right around Christmas time and I watched them

suffer. And I'd like to ask if, Reggie, maybe you could say a few words about your incredible brother, the job he was doing.

He was so beloved by the people in the department and beyond the department. And maybe you could say a few words about your brother,


REGGIE SINGH, BROTHER OF THE SLAIN OFFER RONIL SINGH: So Ronil Singh, originally from Fiji Islands, he always wanted to be in law enforcement.

So, legally, we migrated to America to fulfill his dream, to join the law enforcement. English is our second language. He worked on that, got his

education, applied for law enforcement agency. And he was asked to get his citizenship. He worked towards that and he became a cop, K-9, corporal K-


And the way he was killed, what my family is going through right now, I do not want any other family, law enforcement person to go through that.

Whatever it takes to minimize, put a stop to it, my family fully supports it.

At 33 years old, Ronil Singh was cremated, and I had to pick up his remains. It breaks my heart. And no one should ever, ever go through


Looking at that 5-month-old baby looking for his dad, no one should ever go through that on Christmas day. That's all. That's all. Thank you.

TRUMP: So we're with you, you know that, right?


TRUMP: That was a tough one too. That was a tough one for a lot of people, not only the family. For a lot of people in this country, that was

a tough thing to watch.

Also with us, Marie Vega, whose son, border patrol agent Javier Vega Jr., who was another person loved by so many in the department, on the border

patrol. We had so many people talking -- they're still talking so much about him. It happened in 2014. He was out fishing with his wife, his

parent, and his kids.

And, Marie, I'd like to maybe have you say a little bit about your son because he is so loved and respected, still, in this room. Please, thank

you. Thank you.

MARIE VEGA, MOTHER OF SLAIN BORDER PATROL AGENT: My name is Marie Vega. We have two sons, my husband Javier and I. Very proud of both of them.

Both of them Marines. Harvey at a very young age expressed a love for law enforcement.

[14:35:08] And like the parent that wants the child to grow up and be something and be a productive human. We supported him. And he showed

interest in the police force. Numerous times, he rode with the police officers around our town, surrounding towns.

When he was in high school, he told us that he wanted to be a Marine. And of course it's like, OK. You want to be a Marine, you're going to start

this, you're going to follow through, and you're going to finish it. And that's what he did. He became a Marine.

Upon leaving the United States Marine Corps, he went to college, became a biomed engineer, and almost immediately after graduating, he was offered a

job in CHRISTUS Spohn in Kingsville.

While working at CHRISTUS Spohn, because he was surrounded by agents and saw how they worked and still with that love for law enforcement in his

heart, he came to me, came to my husband, and said, mom, dad, I want to be a border patrol agent.

And of course, again, you know, OK. You want to be a border patrol agent, then you're going to be a border patrol agent. And he became an agent.

I always worried about him, you know, like I worry about our family now. I want them to go to work, be safe, come home to their families safely. And

I always -- every day, I was scared that I would lose my son.

Never in my wildest dream did I ever imagine my son dying at a family outing. It was supposed to be a peaceful, fun, you know, fishing afternoon

and it didn't happen that way. It didn't happen that way because we had a criminal illegal alien that killed him. He came thinking that he was

entitled to one of the two vehicles that we had there.

No family -- like Mr. Singh says should go through this. No one. No family should suffer the loss of a child.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, just some harrowing stories there at that roundtable with the U.S. president, Donald Trump, who's

travelled to McAllen, Texas. A city, a town very close to the border with Mexico.

Mr. Trump there very keen certainly to present a case to the American people that there is a crisis at the border, that illegal immigrants are

violent, that they pose a security and existential threat to people who live in the United States.

So by inviting some of these people who have suffered through some of the worst tragedies that they anyone can suffer through, telling their stories

and their encounters with undocumented migrants and how that affected their lives. This is something that he is trying to use to help him make that


Will it work, though? That's the question. It's very much a political story as well as it is a story of people who live in that border area.

I want to bring back David Drucker. He's a senior political correspondent with the Washington Examiner. And Maria Cardona, is a Democratic


So, Maria, you've seen this. You know, there are some very sad stories that are being told there. It is, though, a made for T.V. kind of moment

with the president aware that he needs to make a case here.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. There's no question that these stories are incredibly heartbreaking and we feel for these families.

But to me, what is even more heartbreaking and frankly disgusting is that this president is using the pain of these families as a pawn in his

political game of chicken.

Let's be real. Undocumented immigrants do not commit crimes to the highest level that Americans do. The crime rate among undocumented immigrants is

incredibly low.

That said, yes, let's deal with the problem of making sure that we get rid of and deport all criminal undocumented immigrants who are committing

crimes. But that is not the problem that this president is focused on. A physical wall, which is what this president is obsessed with, may not have

-- may not have kept these families from their pain.

[14:40:05] A lot, in fact, a majority, of the undocumented immigrants that are in the United States have overstayed their visas and have come through

airports and on airplanes.

And these are the facts that are so important, Hala. When you have a president of the United States who doesn't understand factual evidence and

who frankly is not interested in solving the real problem, that's why we're in the problem that we're in. And hopefully Democrats will come together

with sensible Republicans to fix it.

GORANI: I want to get to David because, I mean, both sides now, the Democrats and the Republicans, there is the president who has a louder

megaphone, let's be honest. I mean, he can get cable news networks.


GORANI: He's the president, after all. Exactly.

What difference will this make, what he's organized today, you think in the wider scheme?

DRUCKER: I don't think it's really going to make any difference. I don't think we're going to see a change in immigration policy or an end to the

government shutdown until both sides and the president feel the political incentive to move from where they are.

And the president, if he's serious about building a physical barrier along the southern border in places where there isn't one already, it's something

he can have, but he's going to have to deal with Democrats and offer them the sort of concessions, things that he may not want to offer them, but the

sort of concessions that would motivate them to meet him there.

I don't know if the president understands exactly how politically polarizing the idea of a wall has become because of the way that he has

talked about it over the past couple years.

In the past, we have seen Democrats support fencing and the building of a southern border wall --

GORANI: But he said, I don't mind if you call it a fence. He, in fact, said that. Whatever you want to call it.

DRUCKER: Yes, it's semantics --

GORANI: Is that a way to try to get out of -- is that a way to try to get out of using the terminology? That has been the kind of --

DRUCKER: That is the silliest -- that is the silliest, most ridiculous way to try and solve the problem, and he knows it. Even he knows it.

Everybody knows what he wants when he talks about a physical barrier along the southern border, whether it's built in steel, built in concrete, it

really doesn't matter.

But Democrats now look at this wall politically and similar to how Republicans look at tax increases. It's something that they simply do not

believe in. That even if they should believe in it, they see it as immoral and they see it as ineffective.

So if you want them to support something like that, you're going to have to deal with them and offer them a reason.

And in order to do that, if it's that important, he's going to have to negotiate. What he's doing today -- to get back to your first question,

will not make one bit of difference.

GORANI: Right. I was going to say, he almost promised many times Mexico would pay for it. Then he found kind of a winding way of justifying that.

CARDONA: Trying to back out of that, right.

GORANI: Maria Cardona and David Drucker, as always, it's a pleasure having you both on. Thanks for sticking with us through that live event.

CARDONA: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: We'll take a quick break and we'll be right back. Stay with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want to -- infuse some more backbones.


[14:45:11] GORANI: Well, returning now to our top story and the U.S. president's visit to the border with Mexico this hour.

Right now, he's holding a live roundtable discussion about issues seen around the southern border, trying to increase the amount of support both

in Washington and across the country for the idea of a physical barrier.

We'll continue to monitor that. His visit sends a powerful message to his base that Donald Trump is determined to build that physical barrier, the

wall. It's something that conservative media personalities in the U.S. have long been pushing for.

Later tonight, President Trump will sit down with Fox News, once again, this time for an interview with Sean Hannity. The popular primetime show

will be broadcasting from the border.

Let's bring in CNN business senior media reporter Oliver Darcy, he's live from New York. There is so much interconnectivity between this Trump

administration and Fox News and conservative commentators and agitators.

How much of a relationship exists between the president and a network, say, like Fox News?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, Fox News is really intertwined with this White House. I mean, we've seen people go from the

White House to Fox News and Fox News back to the White House. So very intertwined.

And, look, there's no question that the president is taking advice and heeding advice from advisers in conservative media outlets. Not only Fox

News but the likes of Ann Coulter. We saw a Daily Beast report the other day that said he had been talking to Fox Business host, Lou Dobbs and Sean

Hannity, whose he's sitting down with tonight.

So there's no question he's heeding advice from these individuals. And I think he's doing that for a couple reasons. But mostly because he knows

that he cannot lose his base. If you look at polls, the people that he relies on for support are the people that are watching ox News and the

people that are consuming conservative media.

So he wants to make sure that those people are happy so he does not lose his base and further erode in the polls.

GORANI: And Rush Limbaugh is one of the far-right radio hosts. Ann Coulter, you mentioned she tweeted he promised to build a wall, he has to

build a wall. Here's what Rush Limbaugh, by the way, said on his radio show.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Looks like a lot of people's worst fears may be realized and that the president is getting

ready to cave on getting any money from a wall in the current budget.


GORANI: How much influence do these types of commentators actually have on the president? Can we measure it?

DARCY: Well, we know for sure that they have influence because if you remember back, before the government shut down, there was this talk of a

deal and the president was supposed to sign a legislation that would have funded the government.

But what happened was he received so much blowback in right-wing media from individuals like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, that he ended up reversing his

decision. And our reporting indicates that it was in large part due to his critics. He was -- they were getting to him. They were getting under his


And I think the president, like I said, is very smart. He knows that the people, his supporters watch the people that are on Fox News and the people

that are on talk radio like Rush Limbaugh.

And he knows that if they start criticizing him, he's going to be in trouble with his base. It's one thing if CNN and the New York Times and

the Washington Post, report critically and are critical of the president, because his supporters don't view those outlets as reliable or trustworthy.

But it's a completely other thing if someone like Rush Limbaugh is saying that the president is not being tough on the wall, he's not delivering on

his promises. That's when it gets dangerous for Trump because his base trusts those figures. And they trust what they're telling them.

GORANI: Oliver Darcy, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

To the Middle East now. U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, gave a major speech in Cairo where he praised President Trump's agenda for the region

and spent a lot of time, it has to be said, slamming former President Barack Obama, detailing a series of what he called missteps in Syria and

Iran and in underestimating the, quote, "viciousness of radical Islam." A lot of time spent talking about Obama.

Pompeo said the U.S., under Mr. Trump, has once more become a force for good in the region, and he denied that there were mixed messages coming

from the administration over Mr. Trump's plan to withdraw American troops from Syria.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There's no contradiction whatsoever. The president's been very clear, and Ambassador Bolton and I have been very

clear about this too. The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is real. ISIS continues. We fight them in many regions around the country.

Our commitment to continuing to prevent Daesh's growth, ISIS's growth is real. It's important. We will continue at that.

GORANI: All right. That's Mike Pompeo.

Let's bring in CNN's national security reporter Kylie Atwood. She's live for us in Washington. So, Kylie, basically just for our viewers who didn't

listen to this speech, and it was held at the American University in Cairo, President Obama's about 10 years ago was at Cairo University. He bashed

not Obama by name but certainly policy and previous administrations.

[14:50:14] He promised to fight ISIS but will still withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. He mentioned Iran 30 times and didn't raise any concerns with

human rights across the region at all.

What was the main objective hereof this speech?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, it sure appears that one of the main objectives was to reference President Obama. As you said,

he didn't mention him by name, but Pompeo went after him aggressively. And he went after him for, as you also mentioned a speech that was made 10

years ago in Cairo. The same city where Pompeo was today.

He accused the Obama administration of being timid in the Middle East, of laying out policies that were fundamentally misunderstood, and therefore

causing unnecessary suffering in the region.

Now, what Pompeo also did was try and say that this is a new beginning for the U.S. and for the region in terms of their relationship. You know, the

Trump administration is going to work on reestablishing relations with its allies, pointing to Egypt as one of those.

But the problem here is that Secretary Pompeo didn't speak about a few things that President Obama did address. And because the secretary is

comparing himself to President Obama, it's important to look at what that speech said from Obama. He did reference soft power. He referenced new

funds for educational programs in the region. And those are things that Secretary Pompeo did not address.

The other thing that Pompeo didn't get into the nitty-gritty on was Syria. And that's what everyone is talking about right now.

GORANI: I was going to ask you -- I was going to ask you about that, Kylie, because if you were confused before the speech, you might be just as

confused after the speech. Because he said essentially our fight against ISIS remains, but we'll still withdraw the troops. What does that exactly


ATWOOD: That's right. So Pompeo said that, you know, referencing the Obama era, when America pulls out, there's chaos, indicating that the U.S.

is committed to the region. But just in December, Trump made a very rash decision, some would say, to pull out U.S. troops. He said it would be


Now, obviously the administration is looking that over now. National security adviser Bolton was in the region. So was Secretary Pompeo,

discussing that. And I spoke with an administration official yesterday who basically admitted that it's going to take a lot longer, but the problem is

not just how long it's going to take, but can they actually create a policy that prevents chaos and prevents more terrorism from erupting?

GORANI: Right. Certainly. Kylie Atwood, thanks very much, joining us from Washington.

Another story we're following, the Russia investigation. We have a new CNN exclusive report. We now know that Robert Mueller's team interviewed a

Trump campaign pollster in February of last year. His name is Tony Fabrizio. He's also a former business associate of Paul Manafort, the

former campaign chairman.

This news is coming, of course, just days after we learned that Manafort shared polling data with a colleague linked to Russian intelligence.

Quick break, we'll be right back with more news.


[14:55:03] GORANI: We're only days away now, and we'll finally know the fate of Theresa May's Brexit deal. We've waited long enough. And peers

here in the U.K. are set to vote on the agreement next Tuesday. We're widely expecting it not to pass.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is now calling for a general election if Parliament rejects her deal.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: If the government cannot pass its most important legislation, then there must be a general election at

the earliest opportunity. A government that cannot get its business through the House of Commons is no government at all.


GORANI: That's Jeremy Corbyn. OK. So he wants another election. I mean, what happens if this deal doesn't go through? Clearly -- will she resign?

What would happen?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's unlikely because of what the prime minister said about what she thinks of her duty

and the fact that she wants to carry this out and she thinks that because she lost the majority in 2017, it really is her job to try and get this

over the line.

Also, she does have a fairly good chance out of all the other possible candidates of uniting the party because she did vote remain, but now she

has taken a firm-ish stance towards a harder Brexit as well. But not hard enough for some of her Brexiteers.

GORANI: So if it fails, and we expect it to fail, she has three days, three days which takes us to Friday of next week, possibly Monday, if

they're not working on Friday.

NOBILO: It would probably be Monday. And then she has to present her plan B. And this is where it gets really interesting. Because at the vote that

we're going to see on Tuesday, MPs just vote whether or not they want to pass her deal or not, like you said. I mean, pigs will be flying before

that passes, next Tuesday.

But then at the next vote, three days after when the prime minister presents her plan b, MPs will get to amend the motion. Now, what that

means is they can express their support for various different options. So they can say, this House supports an extension of Article 50. This House

supports a second referendum.

GORANI: And it really looks as though we're headed in that direction, doesn't it? Just because logistically, practically, it took her 2.5 years

to come up with this deal. Then she has three days to come up with plan b, which we don't think the government has at hand. And then 90 minutes to

debate it.

All of a sudden we're going in hyper accelerated motion. It just seems as though that is the most likely outcome at this stage.

NOBILO: I think that the likelihood of that has been increased as well by the fact that now she only has three days to get back to parliament.

Before she was going to have 21. And it did seem like Downing Street's strategy with all of this, after all they did delay the vote before

Christmas, hoping that Christmas might concentrate minds and also make MPs more nervous that they could be looking at a no deal in March.

But now that that accelerates the process, it does mean that other options on the table might look more likely. But there's no majority for any of

them. And that's the problem that we come back to.

GORANI: And quickly, Abe, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, was visiting today. And like most world leaders telling Theresa May he hopes

they'll stay in the E.U.

NOBILO: Yes. I mean, he's been one of her biggest allies on this. I was watching the press conference earlier and they're very cordial and said

their relationship is at its height. He did say that it was the wish of the whole world, not just Japan that, Britain doesn't fall off into a no-

deal Brexit. He said he was fully supportive of the prime minister's deal, the agreement that she's got with the E.U. and that that's what Japanese

business wanted to see but did promise partnerships with the U.K. either way.

GORANI: All right. Thanks, Bianca Nobilo very much.

That's going to do it from us. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN. There's a lot more ahead on the other side of this break. Stay tuned for