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Trump/Nieto Dispute Threatens Trade War; Trump Talks about Bringing Back Torture; NAACP Says Trump's Voter Fraud Investigation Step Towards Suppression; Theresa May Meets Republicans, Trump; Eight Reporters Charged with Rioting after U.S. Inauguration; Maria Bello Talks Women's March. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 27, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --


VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Thanks for staying with us. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

Less than a week in office, there's a dispute over who will pay for a wall on the Mexican border. Mexico's president was scheduled for a visit but cancelled the visit after Trump tweeted, warning him to stay home unless Mexico was willing to pay for the wall. Mexican officials were left furious. And the dispute now threatens to spark a trade war between the countries.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting for next week. Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.


VAUSE: We are joined by Leyla Santiago from Mexico City with new details about how it went down within the Mexican delegation, which was visiting the White House on Thursday -- Leyla?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's fascinating to hear the details coming from the foreign minister himself. He describes it as he was in a meeting with top White House officials when he heard about that tweet from Donald Trump. And by the way, he was discussing the logistics for the Mexican president's visit to D.C. when he got word of that tweet. He asked for a break. They went and called the Mexican president himself. He then directed them to tell the White House that because of the tweets that this meeting was not a go. And so he went back into the White House, informed them. And those are words that were just coming out as the foreign minister wrapped up his meeting with top White House officials.

VAUSE: Well, is there any discussion within the Mexican government of possible retaliation against the United States? What options do they have?

SANTIAGO: The economic minister before he went on that trip to D.C. with that delegation said if the U.S. tries to make them pay for that wall, they will respond immediately. So, when you talk about possible payment for the wall or when you talk about a possible 20 percent tax for anything coming from Mexico into the U.S., you may likely see a similar response from Mexico.

And one of the things that I was actually just talking to a Mexican Senator who brought up the idea that, listen, you put a 20 percent tax on goods coming from Mexico to the U.S., and it is the American consumer who will be paying for that and possibly the wall.

He also pointed out that the U.S., that a lot of U.S. jobs depend on free trade with Mexico. We're talking about six million jobs that depend on that. And those numbers, by the way, not coming from Mexico. Those come straight from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He says if trade slows down in any way, it may not be just the consumer that pays for it. It could be U.S. jobs at stake.

VAUSE: And in terms of domestic policy it seems the president of Mexico had little room to maneuver. How do Mexicans view the relationship with the United States?

SANTIAGO: Over the last few weeks, as I've been talking to Mexicans about the U.S. and the wall and the relationship, the words that I heard over and over, humiliation and racism. But now with the Mexican president making this move, I think it's changing a little bit. I spoke to a family who, basically, their face lit up, and it seemed like they felt dignity was restored with this move.

VAUSE: OK. Leyla, thank you. Appreciate it.

I am joined in Los Angeles by a political analyst Hernan Molina.

Thank you for coming in.


VAUSE: This relationship between the United States and Mexico, if it goes from bad to worse, and that looks the direction it's heading right now. What do Americans have to lose not just in term of economics but other ways like national security.

MOLINA: Not only the fear of terrorism that we are living every day because we have to be protected. That's a very long border that we need the cooperation on the other side so that they don't come into our country. Not just undocumented immigrants but people who want to do harm. The other thing is that the United States and Mexico partner against narcotic traffic. So, with the huge production of drugs south of the border and coming to the United States, certainly of the marina and the Mexican government, I think this is going to create a problem. [02:05:42] VAUSE: You saw el Chapo being extradited to the United

States --

MOLINA: Absolutely.

VAUSE: -- with the full cooperation of the Mexican government. The former governor of Mexico, Vicente Fox, said, "We don't want the ugly American that Trump represents, that imperial gringo that used to invade our country and send the Marines."

Is that the view most Mexicans now have of the Trump administration? Or does it extend beyond the Trump administration to average Americans?

MOLINA: I lived in Mexico City for two years. I know very well how they feel. They do not like the ugly American, but it's not just Mexican people. In general, Latin-American people do not like the American that takes whatever they need and then run away, and then on top of it look down on Latin-Americans. Certainly, what Trump is doing is not helping to cultivate friendships in Mexico and the rest of Latin-America who is also concerned about a new foreign policy with Latin-America. The biggest neighbor of the United States is being pushed as a policy.

VAUSE: Should the president of Mexico despite all the animosity have kept this meeting because it would have been a line of communication left open?

MOLINA: I don't think it's a matter of should or could. He has only 19 percent support. Not only because his administration has been tarnished but corruption cases but also because the economy is not doing very well. The peso has thanks to a little bit about what's happening with Trump has tanked, and has gone to almost 22 pesos per dollar. It's causing inflation. Add to that that when Trump went to Mexico City and didn't talk about the wall. That created a lot of anger with the Mexican person. It was that you're a wimp. You haven't said anything. You need to defend the national interests, and Mexican people feel proud about their heritage and country and rightly so.

VAUSE: I keep hearing about a lack of respect and offended. The Republican leadership is meeting right now. This is Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader of the Republicans in the Senate, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.


MAU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Do you think the president should tone it down to salvage this relationship with Mexico?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I don't have any advice to give to the president about that issue?

RAJU: Are you concerned about the relationship with Mexico?


VAUSE: McConnell, the leaders of the Republicans of the Senate, didn't want any part of it. And Paul Ryan, leader in the House, flipped it off. It's all going to be fine. Is it going to be fine?

MOLINA: I don't know. I don't think so. I think this is not only going to create a trade war with Mexico. It's potentially sending an alarm to a lot of countries around the world. But Mexico is also very important for the reasons we explained but also because it's one of our biggest neighbors. It's part of an immense part of economic trade that benefits the United States. So why doing this? Only for political gain? For political gain? I don't think it's a great idea.

VAUSE: Hernan, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

MOLINA: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

We're going to stay with this topic. Joining me, Wendy Greuel, a former Los Angeles city council woman; and from San Francisco, Harmeet Dhillon, is an RNC national committee woman for California and the former vice chair of the California Republican party.

Thank you for being with us.

This is how the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, explained how the war with Mexico could be paid for. Listen.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think when you look at the plan that's taking shape now using comprehensive tax reform as a means to tax imports from countries we have a trade deficit from like Mexico, if you tax that 50percent, $50 billion at 20percent of imports which is a practice that 160 over countries do right now. Our country's policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous. But we can do $10 billion a year that way and easily pay for the wall.


[02:10:02] VAUSE: The administration now says that 20 percent tax on Mexican imports just one option. But, Wendy, wouldn't that tax fall on American consumers? Wouldn't they actually be the ones who end up paying for the wall, not Mexico as Donald Trump promised?

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES COUNCILWOMAN: Absolutely. As you heard on many of the clips you showed, not only would the consumer be impacted by this. But also, businesses who operate in the United States are going to be impacted as well. This has the beginnings of a trade war, and I'm concerned it's not only going to be with Mexico but with other countries in this world. So, I think we have a lot to be worried about, and the fact is that they've been talking act this wall for a long time about how they're going to pay. It was going to be Mexico or other options. They say we didn't mean the 20 percent. That was just one option. It says they're still in amateur hour.

VAUSE: And the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, "Any policy proposal which drives up Corona or tequila or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho sad."

But the reality is that 20 percent tax could apply to more items than that. And that will hit law and middle income owners the most, won't it?

HARMEET DHILLON, RNC NATIONAL COMMITTEE WOMAN FOR CALIFORNIA & FORMER VICE CHAIR, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, it's true. Let's stick to the fact that this is one of many other options thrown out there in the past during the campaign. Taxing the remittances that Mexican nationals send back to Mexico. There are other ways this can be done. It is true that the tariff concept is pretty unpopular with a lot of Republican lawmakers. I think the payment mechanism needs to be worked out with Congress.

VAUSE: And a lot of Republicans are opposed to cross-border tax. President Trump talked about it, a few hours ago, in blunt terms. He was on FOX News. This is what he said.


TRUMP: We have evil that lurks around the corner without the uniforms. Ours is harder because the people we're going against don't wear uniforms. They're sneaky, dirty rats. And they blow people up in a shopping center. And they blow people up in a church. These are bad people.


VAUSE: This comes as the president says he wants to bring back torture. Harmeet, he used the word "torture." ISIS is another issue which the president could face opposition from Republicans?

DHILLON: Well, first of all, I agree with what the president said about ISIS.

With regard to torture, you're leaving out the fact that he said in the interview that he's going to follow the law and going to follow the directives of his defense secretary, General Mattis, who says the law is we're not going to torture people, and so that is what it is. He's entitled to an opinion and there are some people on the intelligence community who say there have been instances where torture has worked. Obviously, there's a controversial issue and the law is clear on that. I don't see any issue.

VAUSE: Wendy, is there some concern the president seems to continue to bring up the issue of torture many.

GREUEL: I think when you are president of the United States and you say torture is OK in my book, whether your generals believe it or not, when you have John McCain saying I know firsthand torture does not work, and secondly, that we in the United States of America our values and morals are better than that. That's a message that is concerning if the president is saying I think torture is OK but I'm going to let the others make that decision. I think the message has to be that not only is it the law but I don't believe it's an ethical and moral way to proceed.

VAUSE: OK. The other issue, the president says he will sign an executive order in the coming days for an investigation into voter fraud. We're hearing from the NAACP that it will fight that move. Listen.


CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: We will push back. We have, in the course of this campaign, in the context of in terms of 10 months, had no less than 10 court victories against voter suppression. So, let's be clear about this. in terms of the facts, the president has claimed millions of fraudulent ballots cast. Here's what we know. The only place you will find millions of fraudulent ballots are beside the fake birth certificate of President Obama inside the imagination tax of President Trump.


VAUSE: Many civil rights groups say this is a pretext to voter suppression.

Wendy, to you, why not allow the investigation to go forward and be done once and for all?

GREUEL: I think the fact is there is no facts, no alternative facts eve than say that there was individuals who were dead who were voting or double voting in different states whatever the case may be. When you have real facts to say, this has occurred then it's appropriate for an investigation. As the days coming, maybe that investigation will prove to everyone that, in fact, there wasn't any kind of cheating going, so to speak in that. But I can completely understand where the civil rights are going, that this is sometimes used as a tactic to stop people from having access, and that's an important process that we have to look forward.

[02:15:21] VAUSE: Harmeet, and why investigate something which doesn't exist in any significant way?

DHILLON: You're prejudging the outcome of the investigation. The fact of the matter is contrary to what Wendy said. There was a person prosecuted in Virginia, for example, for voting 17 times in the last election. It does exist. Conflating the idea of voter suppression, which obviously is illegal and undesirable with investigating voter fraud is a convenient tactic but it doesn't go to the heart of the issue. I see no harm in doing an investigation that puts the matter to rest so we can all be assured that the sanctity of the vote is respected. It's the most important for the citizen and I think it should be taken seriously.

VAUSE: One person in Virginia, millions more to go.

Harmeet, thank you for being with us. Wendy, also, appreciate your time.

GREUEL: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Well, next here on CNN NEWSROOM, the British prime minister in the United States for a summit with United States and walking a diplomatic tight rope.

And also, the frosty relationship between the media and the new Trump administration seems to go from bad to worse with one of the closest advisors saying reporters can just shut up.




[02:20:40] VAUSE: The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak with Donald Trump by phone on Saturday. It will be the first time they've spoken since Mr. Trump took office. The Kremlin said it has no information on when they would meet in person.

But the British prime minister will be the first world leader facing face-to-face talks. They're set to meet in the coming hours. Mrs. May kicked off her visit in Philadelphia on Thursday with a speech to Republican leaders.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As we rediscover our confidence together, as you renew your nation just as we renew ours, we have the opportunity, indeed, the responsibility to renew the special relationship for this new age. We have an opportunity to lead together again. Because the world is passing through a period of change. And in response to that change, we can either be passive bystanders or we can take the opportunity once more to lead and to lead together.


VAUSE: Well, for more on Theresa May's visit with Donald Trump, Max Foster joins us live from London.

Max, the prime minister seems to be heading into the meeting with Donald Trump trying to convince him of the value of cooperation. This is what she said at the speech.


MAY: An America who is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot and should not do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up, and I agree. Sovereign countries cannot outsource their security and prosperity to America. And they should not undermine the alliances that keep us strong by failing to step up and play their part. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: This is an interesting time for Theresa May. Trying to convince Donald Trump he needs to be out there as leader of the United States and also seemed to be criticizing other countries that haven't supported those international institutions as well.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's a classic example of how she's going to try to tread this tight rope. Donald Trump suggesting that other countries involved in NATO aren't contributing their fair share, and America is pulling all the weight there. She's accepting that and saying you do have to get involved, but she's defending NATO as an organization. She's also been defending the European Union as an organization, and this is where she differs with Donald Trump. He's expressed an interest in bilateral trade deals rather than working with trading blocks. Theresa May doesn't believe the same thing. He's going to have to do a deal with the European Union when the U.K. leads. That's the sensitivity of today's meet. She's going in there trying to get a trade deal with Donald Trump to bolster after Britain leaves the European. At the same time, she's in effect undermining the European Union, because she's saying bilateral trade deals can be done while she's still a member of the European Union. It's complex, and there's a lot of concern that perhaps Donald Trump is going to use this meeting today as a battering ram against the European Union. It's not going to work for Theresa May. She needs to strengthen her negotiations before going with the European Union.

VAUSE: How important is this trade deal with the United States for Theresa May when it comes to negotiating the Brexit?

FOSTER: Well, she needs to have an alternative to weakened trade with the European Union, and what better country to do it with than the United States. She needs to make up for that. And that's pretty much why she's doing this. She doesn't want to undermine her relationship with the European Union either. This is a careful sort of thing to balance today. And there are all sorts of other issues. The pair just don't agree on. She's expressed his views on women, for example, about torture, about NATO. Talked about that. All sorts of different issues. And somehow, she has to go out there and assert herself in this Washington spotlight. That's also what Donald Trump is going to try to do as well. There's going to be some hopefully discussions behind the scenes about how they can talk about common ground and not about differences. If they talk about their differences, they're going to be very stark, and it could go wrong for you.

VAUSE: You imagine that for Donald Trump too. This is a moment to -- this seems to be pretty easy stuff with Britain. They have a good relationship. They have lots in common unlike many other countries around the world with the new president.

FOSTER: And we heard the Mexican president pulled out his meeting. Many people questioning why Theresa May is going to give him this spotlight on the global stage with a partner who has always been positive about the United States. But she sees it as a much more strategic relationship. She said presidents and prime ministers have come and gone. And that relationship has stood the test of time. She's trying to support the relationship in the long term even though there are differences between the characters. There's lots of talk here about reemergence of the relationship that Ronald Reagan had with Margaret thatcher. They were similar characters and may and Trump are different characters. She also talked about that in the speech you were referencing earlier saying opposites can attract. It's going to be interesting how they assert themselves.

VAUSE: Yeah. And all happening in the next couple of hours. We'll have complete coverage here on CNN.

Max, thank you very much.

Time for a quick break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is next throughout the U.S. and Asia.

And for everyone else, a short break, and then, journalists covering the U.S. inauguration charged with rioting for doing their job. What does it mean for journalists trying to cover this new Trump administration?

Back in a moment. You're watching CNN.


[02:30:13] VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour.


VAUSE: The worse country in the world right now to be a reporter is Turkey. Since the coup attempt last year, the Committee to Protect Journalists says the government there has arrested more than 100 reporters, 81 still in jail. At least 100 news outlets have been closed. One reporter tweeted out this photo with his editor, "Waiting to be arrested," he said, adding, "Typical day in Turkey."

That crackdown in Turkey pushed China from the number-one position with 38 reporters in jail, followed by Egypt, and then Ethiopia.

It's not really surprising. They don't have the First Amendment in their constitution like in the United States.

During the presidential inauguration, last Friday in Washington, there was an outbreak of violence. A number of buildings were damaged and a limo was burned. It's the kind of news which would be routine to cover, except now at least six reporters there are now sitting in jail charged with felony rioting and they're facing 10 years in jail time and a $20,000 fine if convicted.

For more on this, Courtney Radsch, from the Committee to Protect Journalists, joins us from Washington.

So, Courtney, what concern do you have for the reporters in jail right now who are in jail for doing their jobs? COURTNEY RADSCH, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: We are concerned

that reporters are being rounded up and charged with felony crime for doing their jobs. This is not something we are used to seeing in the United States. Sadly, during times of protest, it is too common.

VAUSE: President Trump has gone out of his way to vilify the media. Is that adding to a bigger toxic environment right now for reporters in the United States?

RADSCH: It is definitely having a chilling effect. It is not good for press freedom, obviously. It is creating an environment in which being a journalist has become a much more challenging profession and I think it's creating a chilling effect on them. Also, when you couple that with the online trolling they experience, you see that journalists who are on the front lines are having to put themselves at risk to cover what is going on.

VAUSE: The White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon the former CEO of "Breitbart," told "The New York Times" this, "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut for a while."

They do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States. There is an element of friction between the administration and the reporters who cover it but has there ever been this level of hostility?

RADSCH: I'm not aware of this level of hostility towards the press in terms of the public statements and rhetoric. No administration is perfect and we have seen in other administrations you know, crackdowns on leakers and crackdowns on the press and journalists being jailed. But this level of vitriol, we have seen it in Egypt and elsewhere around the world when the leaders create this negative environment for the press it detracts from press freedom and has a chilling effect. It can lead to self-censorship and none of it is good for democracy.

VAUSE: Do you see this as deliberate by the Trump administration?

RADSCH: It's difficult to say. I say it does appear par for the course. We saw this heated rhetoric during the campaign. There were journalists attacked during the campaign both at rallies as well as online. This is continuing and seems to be par for the course.

[02:35:01] VAUSE: The public have a low opinion of journalists right now, especially the United States. Many are cheer leading this aggressive stand being taken by the Trump administration.

RADSCH: It's sad to see that. I don't think people realize that each and every byline and story in their daily e-mail blasts or on TV every day has a person behind it just try dog their job, who are on the front lines taking great risks sometimes to bring them the news. Last year, we saw 49 journalists killed. Last year, there were a record number of journalists jailed around the world. And we also see journalists trying to bring the news here in the U.S. have faced vicious attacks online. They've been docked, where their personal information has been put out, and we heard reports from some journalists who have had to buy guns for self-protection, journalist who have had to go off social media because they didn't want to deal with the attacks. And that has a psychological and emotional toll and impacts on our ability to get information and the free flow of information in our society.

VAUSE: It is a difficult time to be a reporter, I guess, in so many parts of the world.

Courtney, thanks for being with us.

RADSCH: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Millions of women marched over inauguration weekend with demonstrations around the world. Next, we'll hear from a Hollywood star who said Saturday was just the beginning.


VAUSE: The world's doomsday clock has moved closer to midnight. A pair of scientists and scholars set the hands forward 30 seconds to 11:57:30. The symbolic clock with the countdown to the end of the world has not been this close to Armageddon since 1953. The current political climate is one reason for the change.

Donald Trump's election sparked outrage among a lot of women. Many concerned about what it means for their rights and equality and the future of government provided health services. That's what millions around the world were out in protest the day after Mr. Trump was sworn in.

A number of celebrities joined in the demonstrations, including actress, Maria Bello, who helped lead a protest at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Earlier, she spoke to my colleague, Isha Sesay.


ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Maria, thank you for being with us.

MARIA BELLO, ACTRESS & ACTIVIST: I'm so happy to be here, especially on this day when you should just shut your mouth.


I want to tell you that there's four million people behind you if you get in trouble for being an immigrant, black, Muslim, you name it. So, everybody is marching behind you and behind all of the women and men in this country who are being disenfranchised, and speaking out about bigotry and hatred in this campaign and already within a week of this administration.

SESAY: What was it like out there in Sundance that day when you were part of a movement of millions in this country and the around the world? [02:40:10] BELLO: It was incredible. Inauguration Day, I couldn't

get out of bed. I was so in pain, but that day in Sundance, to be there with thousands of people, probably 4,000 men and women and support our brothers and sisters in D.C. and around the world, to see on seven continents there were demonstrations, it speaks to the power of social media, the power of women, the power of our 51percent. And the power of men who love us.

SESAY: What did the march achieve? What did it accomplish?

BELLO: I think this movement has only just begun. And this march was the beginning of the movement. That will last for days and months and for years.

SESAY: Where is it going?

BELLO: I think it's -- people from the beginning and I believed this for a while, loved turn's hate. Now I think action Trump's hate. And it's about taking action. It's all about educating. I do believe some of my family were Trump supporters. I do believe it was education. We wanted to change. People thought that would be a change. I don't think people thought our human rights so quickly would be disavowed.

SESAY: Maria, you talked about Inauguration Day and being able to get out of bed. What frightened out you about this presidency so much?

BELLO: Everything. There is this among this whole campaign, xenophobic, racist, sexist rhetoric that is unacceptable to me, and for the values that I hold and the values that I hold for my son. When they try to take away health care from our children, that just is not about my kid. I don't claim to be someone is taking away my health care, but all of our children, because we are women and men who stand with all our children. Unacceptable. Fight back. Speak up. Speak truth to power. When they try to denigrate entire races, try to tell us once again who we can and cannot love, fight back. Speak up. I think that's the biggest thing. That's great quote I read. Who will you be during the storm? Not who were you before the storm, but how will you stand in the storm. And I think this big blizzard has come, and it's shaken up roots of every tree, but it's also opened the levies to this incredible revolution that will not cease.

SESAY: Undoubtedly. It's a moment. It's a moment, and we shall see how it plays out in the months ahead.

Maria, thank you so much.

BELLO: Thank you. Good to be here.

SESAY: Thank you.

BELLO: I appreciate it.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. "World Sport" starts after a short break.




[03:00:10] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Paying for the wall. The White House suggests a new 20 percent tariff --