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Live Coverage of President Trump's National Emergency Declaration. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 15, 2019 - 10:30   ET


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But in some ways, it's not responsive to the problem that these angel families legitimately have about their children or family members being killed by criminals.

The family unit issue is somewhat separate from that, and I think we have to make sure to just lay out those facts there so that people understand what we're talking about.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Jeffrey Toobin, the president has sat on this national emergency declaration for months here now. And the data, you know, on crossings have actually been going down for a number of years.

From a legal perspective, does that matter? Will a court say, "Well, if it was truly a national emergency, Mr. President, then you would have -- why wouldn't you have declared it months ago as opposed to on this day, when all other political efforts failed, when you were in effect voted down on the Hill?"

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I'll -- let me draw a distinction between the two facts you raise. The second fact, that the president waited so long to declare the emergency, big problem for the president. Big issue. The courts will certainly take that into consideration in weighing whether an emergency took place.

Less so that first fact about the number of crossings. One thing's the court doesn't -- the courts generally don't want to get involved in is testing their own expertise about issues of national security against that of the executive branch.

Judges recognize they don't have the staff, they don't have the resources, they don't have the institutional competence that the executive branch does, to make factual judgments about what's a problem and what's not a problem.

The timing, though, the issue of waiting this long to declare an emergency, that is undoubtedly a problem. I mean, they will have an answer. I mean, they will have an answer -- I mean, the administration will -- will try to address that in one way or another.

But the plaintiffs in these lawsuits -- and there are going to be lots of different plaintiffs -- will certainly, you know, make a lot of the fact that the president waited so long to declare --

SCIUTTO: Right. TOOBIN: -- to assert that there was a purported emergency.

SCIUTTO: We have Ariane de Vogue with me here too. Knows the law, knows the court. Tell us what you know.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, I think it's interesting. Late last night, the progressive lawyers were all talking to each other on the phone. And these are veterans of the travel ban, the asylum ban, the DACA. All of these actions that Trump has taken. And so they're waiting very carefully to see what he says, so that they can pounce with lawsuits --


DE VOGUE: -- and who's going to pounce? States, liberal-led states. Maybe California, the House. People who may have had contracts and suddenly see their funds being taken away, and the people who own the land, maybe, in the area.


DE VOGUE: And one thing that's interesting though, is there was a meeting in the White House recently, and conservatives came in. And conservatives were worried about lawsuits. And here's why. Because they've seen this relatively new phenomenon, nationwide injunctions where the president in the lower courts has been blocked, stopped short. And they're fearful of that happening here.

Of course, we saw in the travel ban, that the third version won at the Supreme Court. It was the third version. But they're worried early on about a nationwide injunction that would stop things --


SCIUTTO: And then the wall doesn't get built during the meantime.

Charlie Dent, former Republican congressman, you've heard from Mitch McConnell. He warned the president, early on before in effect flipping yesterday on the -- on the national emergency declaration, that this is an issue, this is a decision that would split his own party, split the Republican Party.

And there have been many Republicans who very publicly have come out against this. Do you see this as a potential for a true split in the party or do you see Republicans, as they often do, lining up, even if reluctantly, behind the president?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, I think there is going to be a split. And I'll tell you who -- where the split will start. Republican members of the Armed Services Committee in both the House and the Senate. They should be setting themselves on fire over this.

These projects that the president is going to shift money from are projects that were requested by the secretary of defense and the president. These were their priorities, and Congress approved them. The fact that the -- the president is going to take money out of the

Department of Defense for non-defense purposes -- I mean, these guys in the Armed Services Committee, they -- they guard this jealously. And, you know, somebody like Mac Thornberry, very fine congressman from Texas, he's the ranking member now, former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, he has expressed concerns. But those folks will go wild, I think.

Now also, what's going to happen, too, this is bad for national defense for another reason. This whole thing goes to court, these funds are going to be tied up for some time. So these projects, where are you going to park the billion-dollar F-35, you know, if you can't build the hangar? We're talking about military schools, military hospitals, infrastructure. All the things that support military families and the force itself.

These are critical funds to support --


DENT: -- the mission. And this is a -- this is what the Department of Defense and the Trump administration want, and now they're going back on it and this is law.

[10:35:04] So I think this is a -- these Republican members of the Armed Services Committee, I suspect, are going to rebel.

SCIUTTO: Yes. We just got, I should say, a two-minute warning. Now, these are sometimes fungible numbers from the White House. But just moments away, no question, the president to make this announcement.

David Gergen, let me come back to you.


SCIUTTO: Who is the president's audience for this announcement? Because, you know, Democrats are not going to be convinced. They're already plotting how they're going to -- they're going to turn this around against him. Is he trying to convince anyone today?

GERGEN: Well, I -- you know, obviously he wants to make sure that Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and others on "Fox News" are happy. So they -- they calm down, although some of them won't.

But I think fundamentally, this is about politics of the base, that he needs to shore up his base. And he's going to -- he's going to go down. I mean, he's going to go to the hilt on that issue. He's going to continue doing that. He thinks that that's his lifeline to 2020.

And he may be right in the long run. But it comes at a considerable expense to our democratic norms and traditions.

SCIUTTO: Again, as you're watching here, the president just moments away, perhaps a moment away, from making this announcement. That is a live picture of the Rose Garden there. You have reporters, members of administration. You have his newly

confirmed attorney general sitting there in the front row. You also have women known as "angel moms," mothers who lost children to -- or alleged to have lost children -- to undocumented immigrants into this -- into this country.

As you watch this, Kirsten -- Kirsten Powers, and we await the president's comments -- this is a shot through the window there -- just outside the Rose Garden. What is the potential that the president changes any minds with this comment -- with his comments this morning?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's pretty low just because he's already been making this case, right? This isn't the first time he's come out to say this. And so this is more directed, I think, at the base, to make them feel like he's --

SCIUTTO: I got your back, I'm sticking with it? Yes.

POWERS: -- standing up and fighting for them. And I think that's the thing that you have to remember. That right now, both parties, there is a sense among the base that people come to Washington. They've made promises. They don't fulfill them and they don't fight, right?

And so I think what he's trying to show is, "I'm fighting." And Abby was sort of alluding to this. You know, as this, like, plays out in the courts, he can still say, "Well, I'm just doing everything I can to fulfill my promise, and I'm going to -- and I'm going to fight and fight and fight."

And I think that that probably will be enough to make the base --


POWERS: -- feel like he's doing enough.

There's the separate substantive issues that we've been talking about that are very important. But I think that the base and Donald Trump are -- you know, believe that this is what's necessary to protect the country.

SCIUTTO: Abby Phillip, this president, this vice president, many of the Republicans on the Hill including Mitch McConnell supporting him now, have very publicly very explicitly criticized, lambasted President Obama for executive actions short of reallocating money, which is a qualitative difference here. Does that matter to them?

PHILLIP: Not at this moment it doesn't. And, you know, there is a tweet for everything. And there is, as you read earlier in the program, a very explicit Donald Trump tweet that calls out basically this exact scenario. But in the case -- in that case, it was President Obama.

I don't think that the White House is really concerned about that at all. I think you're going to just see them ignore it as if it never really happened. I mean, the president is going to assert that he has the authority to do this, that Congress has given him that authority and that, as the executive, he has a responsibility to use it.

SCIUTTO: Jim Acosta is there in the Rose Garden as we await the president.

Jim, if you could -- oh, sorry, we don't have Jim. But Abby, as we await the president there -- and when these things get pushed back, of course, presidents refine their comments before they go, we see him in there. Is it likely he's on the phone with some of the many folks he speaks to, to make sure he's got their support before he makes a comment like that?

PHILLIPS: You know, it's possible that he's been working the phones all morning. I mean, you could sort of see some shadows there. That's basically, you're sort of looking into the Oval Office a little bit, just to the -- to the left there, of the screen. And you can see people in there. His advisors, his aides talking through this.

It's not clear what -- I mean, there's a little bit of a delay, which is not entirely unusual for this president. But he often changes this as he goes along. And so much of this speech is going to be about the president making his own case for the crisis at the border, and for the wall, even though that may not be entirely a hundred percent true.

SCIUTTO: And here comes the president of the United States, in the Rose Garden. An announcement not only on a bipartisan budget deal, we expect. Let's listen in.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody.

Before we begin, I'd like to just say that we have a large team of very talented people in China. We've had a negotiation going on for about two days. It's going extremely well. Who knows what that means because it only matters if we get it done. But we're very much working very closely with China and President Xi, who I respect a lot. Very good relationship that we have.

[10:40:20] And we're a lot closer than we ever were in this country, with having a real trade deal. We're covering everything. All of the points that people have been talking about for years and said couldn't be done, whether it was theft or anything, anything. The unfairness.

We've been losing, on average, $375 billion with China. A lot of people think it's $506 billion. Some people think it's much more than that. We're going to be leveling the playing field.

The tariffs are hurting China very badly. They don't want them. And, frankly, if we can make the deal, it'd be my honor to remove them. But otherwise we're having many billions of dollars pouring into our Treasury. We've never had that before with China. It's been very much of a one-way street. So that's happening.

And the relationship with China's very good. But I think they finally respect our country. They haven't respected us for a long time. Not for a long time. The U.K. and the U.S., as you probably have been seeing and hearing,

we're agreeing to go forward and preserve our trade agreement. You know all of the situation with respect to Brexit, and the complexity and the problems. But we have a very good trading relationship with U.K. and that's just been strengthened further.

So with the U.K., we're continuing our trade and we are going to actually be increasing it very substantially as time goes by. We expect that the U.K. will be very, very substantially increased as it relates to trade with the United States. The relationship there also is very good.

We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate, and that will be announced over the next 24 hours.

And many other things. A lot of positive things are going on. We're working on a -- a summit. And you know all about the summit. It'll be in Vietnam, Hanoi. And we will -- we'll be meeting in Hanoi. I think a lot of you will be going, I suspect. And I hope we have the same good luck as we had in the first summit.

A lot was done in the first summit. No more rockets going up, no more missiles going up, no more testing of nuclear. Get back our remains. The remains of our great heroes from the Korean War. And we got back our hostages.

But we hope we're going to be very much equally as successful. I'm in no rush for speed. We just don't want testing. The sanctions, as you know, remain. Everything is remaining.

China's been helping us and Russia's been helping us. And South Korea, I think you can say, has been -- we've been working very closely with South Korea, with Japan. But China, Russia on the border have really been at least partially living up to what they're supposed to be doing. And that's OK, as per the United Nations.

So we will have a meeting on the 27th and 28th of February. And I think that will be very successful and I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim. We have also established a very good relationship, which has never happened between him or his family and the United States.

They have really taken advantage of the United States, billions of dollars has been paid to them. And we -- we won't let that happen. But we think that North Korea and Chairman Kim have a tremendous potential as an economic force, economic power. Their location between South Korea and then Russia and China, right smack in the middle, is phenomenal.

And we think they have a great chance for tremendous economic prosperity in the future. So I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim in Vietnam.

Today, I'm announcing several critical actions that my administration is taking to confront a problem that we have, right here at home. We fight wars that are 6,000 miles away, wars that we should have never been in, in many cases. But we don't control our own border.

[10:45:00] So we're going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border. And we're going to do it one way or the other. We have to do it. Not because it was a campaign promise, which it is. It was one of many, by the way. Not my only one.

We're rebuilding the military, the economy is thriving like never before. You look at other economies, they're doing terribly and we're doing phenomenally. The market is up tremendously today, not that there's anything -- but, you know, because I'll go back in and they'll say, "Oh, the market just went down." But the market is getting close to the new highs that we created.

We -- we have all the records. We have every record. But we're getting close to that point again, where we'll create new records. So our country is doing very well economically.

And we've done a lot. But one of the things I said I have to do -- and I want to do -- is border security. Because we have tremendous amounts of drugs flowing into our country, much of it coming from the southern border.

When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all comes through the port of entry. It's wrong, it's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie. They say, "Wall don't work."

Walls work a hundred percent. Whether it's El Paso -- I really was smiling because the other night, I was in El Paso. We had a tremendous crowd, a tremendous crowd.

And I asked the people -- many of whom were from El Paso, but they came from all over Texas -- and I asked them. I said, "Let me ask you, as a crowd, when the wall went up, was it better? You were there, some of you." It was not only better, it was like, a hundred percent better. You know what they did.

But that's only one example. There are so many examples. In El Paso, they have close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall. And they had 23 murders. That's a lot of murders, but it's not close to 2,000 murders, right on the other side of the wall in Mexico.

So everyone knows that walls work. And there are better examples than El Paso, frankly. You just take a look almost everywhere. Take a look at Israel, they're building another wall. Their wall is 99.9 percent effective, they tell me, 99.9 percent. That's what it would be with us too.

The only weakness is, they go to a wall and then they go around the wall. They go around the wall and in. OK? That's what it is. It's very simple.

And a big -- majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don't go through ports of entry. They can't go through ports of entry. You can't take big loads because you have people, you have some very capable people. The Border Patrol, law enforcement, looking. You can't take human traffic, women and girls, you can't take them

through ports of entry. You can't have them tied up in the back seat of a car or a truck or a van. They open the door, they look. They can't see three women with tape on their mouth or three women whose hands are tied.

They go through areas where you have no wall. Everybody knows that. Nancy knows it. Chuck knows it. They all know it. It's all a big lie. It's a big con game.

You don't have to be very smart to know. You put up a barrier, the people come in and that's it. They can't do anything unless they walk left or right and they find an area where there's no barrier, and they come into the United States. "Welcome."

We've detained more people. Our border agents are doing such incredible work. Our military has been incredible. We put up barbed wire on top of certain old walls that were there. We fixed the wall or we loaded it up with barbed wire, it's very successful. But our military has been fantastic and I want to thank them. And it's very necessary.

We've broken up two caravans that are on their way. They just are breaking, they're in the process of breaking up. We have another one that we haven't been able to break up yet. We've been actually working with Mexico, much better than ever before. I want to thank the president. I want to thank Mexico.

They have their own problems. They have the largest number of murders that they've ever had in their history, almost 40,000 murders, 40,000. And they got to straighten that out, and I think they will.

But I just want to thank the president because he's been helping us with these monstrous caravans that have been coming up. We had one that was up to over 15,000 people. It's largely broken up.

Others have gotten through. And in Tijuana, you have a lot of people staying there. If we didn't have the wall up and if we didn't have the wall secured and strengthened, they would have walked right through. They'd be welcomed to the United States.

[10:50:01] One of the things we'd save tremendous -- just a tremendous amount -- on, would be sending the military. If we had a wall, we don't need the military because we'd have a wall.

So I'm going to be signing a national emergency. And it's been signed many times before. it's been signed by other presidents from 1977 or so, it gave the presidents the power. There's rarely been a problem. They sign it. Nobody cares. I guess they weren't very exciting. But nobody cares, they sign it for far less important things in some cases, in many cases.

We're talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs. We have some of the greatest people -- I know, they've been with me from the beginning of my campaign, almost from the first week, the angel moms. Unfortunately, we have new angel moms. One incredible woman, she showed me her daughter who we're talking about, killed in the year of '18. I said, "I haven't seen you before." She said, "No, I'm new." I said, "That's too bad." It's too bad. It's so sad.

Stand up, just for a second. Show how beautiful your girl was. Thank you.

I have such respect for these people. Angel moms, angel dads, angel families, I have great respect for these people. These are great people. These are great people. They're fighting for their children that have been killed by people that were illegally in this country.

And the press doesn't cover them. They don't want to, incredibly. And they're not treated the way they should be. They're fighting for other people because they don't want what happened to their children or husband or anybody -- we have one young lady whose husband --

Please, stand up. Your husband was just killed in Maryland. Incredible man, just killed. Beautiful children won't be seeing their father again.

These are brave people. These are people that -- they don't have to be here. They don't have to be doing this. They're doing it for other people.

So I just want to thank all of you for being here, OK? I really do. I want to thank you. Incredible people.

Last year, 70,000 Americans were killed -- at least. I think the number is ridiculously low -- by drugs, including meth and heroin and cocaine, fentanyl.

Now, one of the things that I did with President Xi in China, when I met him in Argentina at a summit, before I even started talking about the trade -- it was a trade meeting, went very well -- but before I talked about trade, I talked about something more important.

I said, "Listen, we have tremendous amounts of fentanyl coming into our country. Kills tens of thousands of people, I think far more than anybody registers. And I'd love you to declare it a lethal drug and put it on your criminal list."

And their criminal list is much tougher than our criminal list. Their criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called the death penalty. Our criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called "How about a fine?"

And when I asked President Xi, I said, "Do you have a drug problem?" "No, no, no." I said, "You have 1.4 billion people, what do you mean, you have no drug problem?" "No, we don't have a drug problem." I said, "Why?" "Death penalty. We give death penalty to people that sell drugs." End of problem.

What do we do? We set up blue-ribbon committees, lovely men and women. They sit around a table, they have lunch, they eat, they dine. And they waste a lot of time. So if we want to get smart, we can get smart. You can end a drug problem. Can end it a lot faster than you think.

But President Xi's agreed to put fentanyl on his list of deadly, deadly drugs. And it's a criminal penalty, and the penalty is death. So that's, frankly, one of the things I'm most excited about in our trade deal, want to know the truth. I think maybe there's no more important point.

[10:54:57] We're going to make billions of dollars with this trade deal. It's going to be great for our country and great for China, I hope. Their market's down close to 40 percent. Our market's way up.

We've picked up, since my election, trillions of dollars of worth. Trillions, many trillions. And China's lost trillions of dollars.

But I want it to be good for China and I want it to be good for the United States. So we'll see what happens. China's coming here next week, by the way. They're coming home, the traders (ph).

And then China is coming here next week, and then I'll be meeting with President Xi at some point after that to maybe -- for some remaining deals. We'll make them directly, one-on-one, ourselves.

So we're going to be signing, today -- and registering -- national emergency. And it's a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and it's unacceptable.

And by signing the national emergency -- something signed many times by other presidents, many, many times. President Obama -- in fact, we may be using one of the national emergencies that he signed having to do with cartels, criminal cartels. It's a very good emergency that he signed, and we're going to use parts of it in our dealings on cartels. So that would be a second national emergency. But in that case, it's already in place.

And what we want -- really want to do is simple. It's not like it's complicated. It's very simple. We want to stop drugs from coming into our country. We want to stop criminals and gangs from coming into our country.

Nobody's done the job that we've ever done. I mean, nobody's done the job that we've done on the border. And in a way, what I did by creating such a great economy -- and if the opposing party got in, this economy would be down the tubes.

You know, I hear a lot of people say, "Oh, well, but maybe the previous administration" -- let me tell you, the previous administration, it was heading south and it was going fast. We would have been down the tubes. The regulations were strangling our country. Unnecessary regulations.

By creating such a strong economy -- you just look at your televisions to see what's going on today, it's through the roof. What happens is, more people want to come. So we have far more people trying to get into our country today than probably we've ever had before. And we've done an incredible job in stopping them, but it's a massive

number of people. If we had the wall, it would be very easy. We would make up for the cost of the wall, just with the cost of the fact that I would be able to have fewer people. We wouldn't need all of this incredible talent -- some of whom are sitting in the first row -- you wouldn't need all of this incredible talent.

We would get -- we would get thousands of law enforcement people including Border Patrol, you put them in different areas, you have them doing different things, law enforcement or Border Patrol. And I want to thank law enforcement and I want to thank Border Patrol, and I want to thank ICE. ICE is abused by the press and by the Democrats.

And by the way, we're going to be taking care of ICE. You know, we talk about the -- the new bill. We're going to be taking care of ICE. They wanted to get rid of ICE. And the bill is just the opposite of that. A lot of good things happened.

So that's the story. We want to have a safe country. I ran on a very simple slogan. "Make America Great Again." If you're going to have drugs pouring across the border, if you're going to have human traffickers pouring across the border in areas where we have no protection, in areas where we don't have a barrier, then very hard to make America great again.

But we've done a fantastic job. But we haven't been given the equipment. We haven't been given the walls.

And in the bill, by the way, they didn't even fight us on most of the stuff. Ports of entry. We have so much money, we don't know what to do with it. I don't know what to do with all the money they're giving us. It's crazy.

The only place they don't want to give us much money, $1 billion, 375 million. Sounds like a lot, but it's not so much although we're putting it to much better use than it used to be. A lot of the past administrations, they had -- it was easy to get -- they didn't build or they didn't do what they could have done. It would have been great.

[11:00:01] It would have been great to have done it earlier, but I was a little new to the job, a little new to the profession. And we had a little disappointment.