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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Mary Tyler Moore Dies; Trump and Facts; President Trump Delivers Address on Immigration Control; Trump Signs Sweeping Actions on Immigration; Trump Wants Probe After Baseless Voter Fraud Claim; Interview with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 4:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: She could turn the world on with her smile. Mary Tyler Moore, rest in peace.

THE LEAD starts right now.

She stole our hearts as Laura Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and starred as one of the first unmarried career woman characters on TV, on her own "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Today, the world says goodbye to a remarkable actress and producer.

Campaign battle cry closer to reality. President Trump calling for the immediate construction of a border wall, but which side of the wall will get the bill?

Plus, the White House today defending President Trump's call for an investigation into something that's been debunked by experts countless times, his mistaken belief that three to five million people voted illegally. Might the president's problem with facts such as these affect his ability to govern?

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start with breaking news in our pop culture. She blazed a trail in television and for women everywhere, and today we're getting the sad news that actress and producer Mary Tyler Moore has died at the age of 80. She battled diabetes for many years and even underwent brain surgery in 2011.

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" about a single woman trying to make it in a TV newsroom in the '70s was pioneering for its time. If you don't know Mary Tyler Moore, but you're a fan of Liz Lemon or Murphy Brown or Ally McBeal or Carrie Bradshaw, then, really, in many ways, you have Mary Richards to thank, the woman that turned the world on with her smile and set an example for a generation of women.

The seven-time Emmy winner not only made after it all, but in spite of it all, blazing trails as TV producer and executive. Along with her second husband, Moore founded MTM Enterprises, the company behind such legendary hits as "Hill Street Blues" and "Newhart" and "Rhoda."

But it was this first starring role in 1961 when a young Mary Tyler Moore played the headstrong wife of Dick Van Dyke in the namesake hit show that really had Americans taking notice. Off screen, she would fill the role of loving wife three times. Her third husband was by her side as she passed. The two had been married since 1983.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I think we all need some kleenex.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: There's some on Mary's desk.



TAPPER: Just as in that famous final scene of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," when the WJM news crew moves in a group hug to grab the tissue, so many fans and loved ones having some trouble letting go of the beloved actress today.

Let's bring in James Lipton, the host of "Inside the Actors Studio."

Welcome back to the show, James, despite the sad circumstances.

You have gotten to know her well over the years. What was the most striking thing about her to you?

JAMES LIPTON, HOST, "INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO": The most striking thing about Mary Tyler Moore is one word, one word. I will bet everybody who is listening at this moment knows what that one word is, and that was her smile.

That smile was radiant, unforgettable. And when we think of Mary Tyler Moore, we think of a brave and feisty and extraordinary woman smiling, smiling through.

TAPPER: I will be honest. That was exactly the word I thought you were going to say.


TAPPER: Yes. She's most known, of course, for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." And this notion of an unmarried career woman seems obviously very normal now. But back in the '70s, how groundbreaking was that role?

LIPTON: It was revolutionary.

Women didn't do that in those days. And she did. And the result was that she not only changed television, but she changed the life around her. And she changed the lives of countless women. That's a great contribution to have made.

TAPPER: And she obviously had quite an impact off the screen. She what a passionate advocate for diabetes research.

LIPTON: The amazing thing was, she was on my show in 1999. And we talked about it then. And look how long she fought it before she finally was conquered by it.


But I remember at that time how valiant she seemed. And here is another thing about Mary Tyler Moore. Mary Tyler Moore lived closer to death and to illness than the rest of us do in the course of her lifetime. It was always there.

Of course, she lost a son to a gunshot wound. It was always there, always present. And she knew always that, eventually, her condition would deteriorate, as it does with people who have diabetes 1.

And yet she was able to continue to work. Look what she did in "Ordinary People." Perhaps the most remarkable thing she ever did was "Ordinary People," where she completely shifted gears and she played a woman who was grieving the death of -- drowning death of one of her sons and the attempted suicide of another son.

This was a highly dramatic role for which she received an Emmy nomination -- excuse me -- an Oscar nomination. And it was a complete shifting gears for her. She was able to go from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," where she threw her hat in the air, remember, all of us remember that moment when the hat froze in the air.

What joy that was, joy for her, joy for us. And at the same time, she was able to shift gears to do a film like "Ordinary People," where she was as good an actor as anybody we have seen on the screen in that period.

TAPPER: It's in the same way that Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of "Grey's Anatomy," talks about how she meets people who went into medicine because of, when they were young girls, they were watching "Grey's Anatomy," that's now been on television I think 10 years.

I know there is a whole generation of women reporters who were truly inspired by Mary Tyler Moore in that show. Did she realize her impact, both on women journalists, but also just on women and everyone really?

LIPTON: I think she knew it.

Look, Valerie Harper spun off from her. Leachman spun off from her. Lou Grant -- the character Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner, Asner spun off from her. She created -- she and her husband, Grant Tinker at that time, they created one incredible show after another, all of them inspired by and launched by her show about -- by "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

That's an extraordinary achievement. She not only changed her life. She changed a lot of lives. She was -- there it is. She was a life- changer. And she did so in the face of very, very daunting odds. I don't know of anyone who would have, I think, faced the number of

difficulties she faced and the risks that she took as gallantly and as joyfully and as sweetly, and here is another word, charmingly as she did. She gave us a great, great gift.

None of us will ever forget her, but we will also be influenced by her forever because she changed so many lives and so many American myths and customs during her lifetime and her work. She simply -- she simply made us look at the world differently and once we did we never went back.

TAPPER: I know you knew her off camera, as well as on camera. Do you have a favorite clip or personal memory of her you want to share before we bid adieu to you, James?

LIPTON: Well, I don't have here -- I'm at home today. And I don't have the show. And I don't remember what she said when I asked her what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

But I suspect it would be very meaningful at this moment. I don't know whether you have it, but, if you do, for heaven's sake, play it, please.

TAPPER: We don't have that clip ready. I'm sorry about that.

But James Lipton, thank you so much. It's always, always charming to talk to you, and we really appreciate it.

Coming up next, if you build it, they won't come, that's what President Trump hopes happens with his border wall,as he takes the very first steps to turn his signature campaign promise into a reality.

But first, as we go to break, let's remember actress Mary Tyler Moore and the groundbreaking show that bore her name.





MOORE: Listen, can I call you back? Rhoda, I did wake you up this morning. Listen, I will call you back.




TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The politics lead now, President Trump checking off perhaps his

biggest campaign promise today, ordering the U.S. government to begin the process of building that wall on the Mexican border. The president is also closing in on his Supreme Court pick, a move expected to energize conservatives, even as it sets up a confirmation battle on Capitol Hill.

In addition to those policy actions, the new promise from President Trump today, he's demanding an investigation into his own, totally unsubstantiated belief that there was massive voter fraud, up to five million illegal votes in the 2016 presidential election. Again, that's despite the fact that there is not one lick of evidence to back up such a claim.

But let's start right now with President Trump's action on keeping undocumented immigrants out of the country.

CNN senior diplomatic senior correspondent Michelle Kosinski is at the State Department for us.

And, Michelle, language of executive orders and executive actions can often be confusing and vague. Bottom line, how soon are we actually going to see changes at the border and when it comes to undocumented immigrants?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump put it into very simple terms today, saying that starting immediately we can expect to see dramatically stepped-up enforcement of immigration laws.

That means deportations. That means building a wall on the border of Mexico starting within a couple of months, and that, yes, one way or another, he says Mexico will pay for it.


[16:15:05] KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Trump takes the first step on one of his first campaign promises to build the wall.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.

KOSINSKI: Now with executive action, he directs the Department of Homeland Security to start building it immediately, along the 1,900 mile-long border with Mexico, using existing federal money to get it started.

TRUMP: The secretary of homeland security working with myself and my staff will begin immediate construction of a border wall.

KOSINSKI: President Trump tells ABC News he's also standing by his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for it.

INTERVIEWER: Will American taxpayers pay for the wall? TRUMP: Ultimately, it will come out of what's happening with Mexico.

We're going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon and we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico which --

INTERVIEWER: So, they'll pay us back?

TRUMP: Yes, absolutely, 100 percent.

INTERVIEWER: When does construction begin?

TRUMP: As soon as we can, as soon as we can physically do it. We're --

INTERVIEWER: Couple months?

TRUMP: I would say in months, yes. I would say in months. Certainly, planning is starting immediately.

KOSINSKI: It's not clear where the existing money would come from to pay for the wall and Congress would still need to approve any new funding to build it. Trump himself has estimated cost round $10 billion. But today's move also means beefing up manpower on the border, 5,000 additional Customs and Border Protection officers. And in a second executive action signed today, the president is increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants, tripling resources for enforcement and withholding funding from so-called sanctuary cities -- when local municipalities refused to turnover undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

TRUMP: We are going to get the bad ones out -- the criminals and the drug deals and gangs and gang members and cartel leaders. The day is over where they can stay in our country and wreak havoc.

KOSINSKI: It all happens on the same day a high-level Mexican delegation is here in Washington meeting with Trump's top advisors. It's the first official meeting with the foreign government after the White House unveiled its America first policy -- and one day after the Mexican foreign minister railed against a border wall and Mexico's potential price tag.

LUIS VIDEGARAY, MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We recognize that the United States has the right to build a wall, even though we don't like it. But it is another thing to try to get a neighboring country to pay for the construction. We have said many times that that is unacceptable.


KOSINSKI: It's interesting to see within the executive order, this new administration's new enforcement priorities. So, under the Obama administration, if you're here illegally and you've been convicted of a felony -- that was really the focus, people who are gang members, committed serious crimes, a string of lesser crimes but not traffic offenses. Well, these new priorities for deportation include people not just convicted of crimes, but charged with crimes, or committed acts that could constitute a chargeable offense, or have been determined by an immigration officer to be otherwise a threat to public safety. So, you don't have to be convicted of something under these new rules to be a priority for deportation -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Michelle Kosinski at the State Department for us -- thank you so much.

The White House has not provided any evidence backing up the president's uncorroborated claim that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election. Now, that is, of course, because no such tangible evidence of widespread voter fraud exists according to Republican and Democratic election officials all across the country. It did not happen.

But it is a belief of the president's, we are told. So, this morning he called for an investigation into the matter. This afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the fact that in recount efforts in battle ground states, the president's own lawyers insisted that there were no credible accounts of voter fraud. Spicer's response was to suggest that the investigation might look into other places, quote, "larger states". He named two of them, California and New York. States that it might be observed voted overwhelmingly against Mr. Trump.

Now, one of the items the president wants investigated according to his tweets this morning, people who are registered to vote in more than one state. He might want to start that investigation by talking to his top political aide and one of his key cabinet picks who are among the many, many voters who in election day were registered in more than one state.

CNN's Supreme Court and justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now.

Pamela, if an agency would start such an investigation, how would they do it?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SUPREME COURT AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point we have to figure out who is going to lead the charge because you have president Trump calling on a widespread voter fraud registration, but it's still unclear who would be in charge of that investigation, Jake. That remains a mystery. In fact, official I've spoken with in the Department of Justice which typically investigates those allegations says an investigation like this would be completely unprecedented.


[16:20:10] TRUMP: Remember I told you it's a rigged system. That's terrible. And not rigged for us, believe me.

BROWN (voice-over): Today, President Trump announcing without any proof he wants a, quote, "major investigation" into voter fraud, tweeting, "the focus will be on those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and those registered to vote who are dead."

TRUMP: I, Donald John Trump --

BROWN: The call comes on the heels of his repeated and unfounded claim that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the election costing him the popular vote. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes.

Today, the White House said the probe will go beyond the 2016 election.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have to understand where the problem exists, how deep it goes, and then suggest some remedies to it.

BROWN: But who would be in charge of the investigation remains a mystery. Department of Justice officials who would typically handle voter fraud allegation investigations say there's no predication, such as a specific credible allegation of voter fraud to even launch an investigation.

KRISTEN CLARK, LAWYERS' CMTE ON CIVIL RIGHTS EXECUTIVE DIR.: There is no evidence that people voted unlawfully in the November election, and certainly not by the millions.

BROWN: Trump's own legal team has argued that no voter fraud occurred in the general election. White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a legal brief, in December all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud, in responds to an effort to block the recount in Michigan by Jill Stein.

The White House saying that was true only of the states where results were close.

SPICER: There's a lot of states that we didn't compete in where that's not necessarily the case. Look at California and New York, I'm not sure those statements were -- we didn't look at those two states in particular.

BROWN: Republicans, including Donald Trump, point to a Pew Research study in 2012, that says one in every eight voter registrations are no longer valid. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters and 2.75 million are registered in more than one state. But the study does not say there is widespread fraud.

SPICER: There are people that are voting in -- that are on the rolls in two different states, sometimes in three different states.

BROWN: In fact, two members of the president's own team, Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin and top adviser Steve Bannon were registered in multiple states on election day.

Ohio secretary of state told CNN today voter fraud in his state is rare.

JON HUSTED (R), OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: What we found in the past, we do an investigation of voter fraud, voter suppression. We found less than a thousand cases of voter irregularity, less than a couple hundred cases of voter fraud.


BROWN: And the White House says it will release more information about how this investigation will play out later this week and it is worth noting here, Jake, that President Trump could also appoint a special investigator or he could ask Congress to use its investigatory powers to look into this -- Jake.

TAPPER: Again, no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

She just got back from a secret trip to Syria. Did she meet with President Bashar al Assad? Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard talks exclusively with CNN about that trip, next.


[16:27:45] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Our world lead now, a desperate plea for help. Seven-year-old Bana Alabed has become the face of innocent civilians suffering in Syria's deadly civil war. The young girl is now safely living in Turkey with her family.

But earlier today, she tweeted a message to President Trump. Quote, "I beg you, can you do something for the children of Syria? If you can, I will be your best friend. Thank you," unquote.

This comes as a fragile cease fire between Syrian and government forces and rebel factions is holding for now.

Joining me now in an exclusive is Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. She just returned from a secret trip to Syria.

Congresswoman Gabbard, thanks for coming and sharing your story with us.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Aloha, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, you were in Syria four days. Did you meet with President Bashar al Assad?

GABBARD: I did. You know, my reason for going to visit Syria was really because of the suffering of the Syrian people that has been weighing heavily on my heart. I wanted to see if there was in some small way, a way that I could express the love and the aloha and the care that the American people have for the people of Syria, and to see firsthand what was happening there, to see that situation there.

TAPPER: What did Assad have to say?

GABBARD: Initially, I hadn't planned on meeting him. When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it's important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we've got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that's exactly what we talked about.

TAPPER: Now, I know the maximum I am that people say in the military, that you don't make peace with your friend, you make peace with your enemies. But obviously Bashar al Assad is responsible for thousands of deaths and millions of people being displaced during this five-year long civil war.

Did you have any compunctions about meeting with somebody like that, giving him any sort of enhanced credibility because a member of the United States Congress would meet with someone like that?

GABBARD: Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria. In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him.