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Trump Meeting with Leaders of U.K., Canada, Mexico Soon; Priebus: Trump Exec Actions to Cover Trade, Immigration; Trump Invites Israeli Leader to White House. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 22, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:03] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, 6:00 p.m. here in the nation's capital. A beautiful night in Washington. You're watching a special edition of CNN NEWSROOM live from Washington tonight. I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us.

President Donald Trump is making his White House his home and getting straight to work. Trump spoke to the media in the East Wing of the White House today before Vice President Mike Pence swore in the senior staff.

Then, President Trump met with the FBI Director James Comey at an event honoring the first responders in the blue room. The two men shaking hands there.

This as the Trump administration is beginning to take shape. So are his foreign policies. Here's what President Trump told reporters this afternoon.


TRUMP: We have set is up meetings with the prime minister of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister May will be coming over to the United States shortly. We're also meeting with the prime minister of Canada and we will be meeting with the president of Mexico.


HARLOW: President Trump will receive a phone call, we've heard, from Vladimir Putin, in the coming days. That's according to the Kremlin. But first, his chief of staff says Trump will continue following through on his pledge to reverse many of President Obama's executive orders by signing more of his own.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think, this week, we're going to talk about trade this week. I think we're going to talk about that a little bit more tomorrow. I think we're going to talk about immigration this week and we're going to have a time of national security, a conversation about that, obviously, with General Mattis.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Will he undo some of the Obama executive orders?

PRIEBUS: I think you're going to see more of that coming perhaps this week -- executive orders and those three topics.


HARLOW: More of those executive orders coming this week.

Meantime, a pivotal week for some of Trump's most controversial cabinet picks, including his choice to head the CIA. Some Democrats doubling down on their refusal to confirm him and other nominees. One Democratic demand that will not be met over the next four years, Trump's tax returns. The top aides saying today, even when that audit is complete, Trump will not show his tax returns to the public.

For more on all of this, let me bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny and CNN's Phil Mattingly.

Jeff, let me begin with you and these executive orders, because the first one that he signed on Friday, getting right to business after being inaugurated, was one having to do with Obamacare. But it was not an instant repeal, for example, right? So, the question becomes these other executive orders that we may see that Reince Priebus talked to Chris Wallace about, immigration, national security, trade, are those expected to be tougher, have more teeth?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, some of them most certainly will be tougher. And the distinction is this -- remember all the executive orders that President Obama signed relating to immigration and other things are something that, you know, the president can do with his executive authority. Congress may not always like it because they believe that Congress passes laws.

But he can certainly do much, much more on trade, on immigration and other things. But Obamacare, the executive order he signed on Friday was more of a road map, more of a direction to his agencies, to his administration, so be on the lookout for rules and other things along these lines. But there's no question with an executive order, he cannot simply repeal that law.

But on immigration, which we do not believe will happen tomorrow, but could come later this week. In fact, I'm told that there is no set order for all of these. They are still being decided and will be rolled out.

But we just talked to Kellyanne Conway just a few minutes ago. And she did say that congressional leaders would be coming here to the White House tomorrow, as we have been reporting. And that is when some of these big conversations will start happening between the president and the congressional leaders.

They want to be included in this, Poppy, because signing executive orders is one thing. They want to get on the same page on tax reform, on the Affordable Care Act, on health care. So, look for some breaking bread, but substantively, tomorrow night here at the White House.

HARLOW: And, Phil, to you -- when you look at these cabinet picks, there will be a vote on CIA Director Mike Pompeo tomorrow. Chuck Schumer had some choice words about these picks today, saying to Jake Tapper that the president is using populist rhetoric to cover over a hard right agenda he believes portrayed in these picks like Pompeo. How likely is it that Pompeo will get confirmed?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's almost certain to be confirmed. I think the big question now, kind of with all of the remaining nominees, is how long is this going to take? Because the reality is this, Poppy, Republicans only need 51 votes to confirm every single one of President Trump's cabinet selections. Well, they hold 52 seats in the Senate. So, they're in pretty good shape.

But the Senate is kind of a little bit of a fickle animal in the sense that Democrats can slow things down a lot. And the reason they want to do this is precisely for the reason that kind of Chuck Schumer laid out. They believe that the longer people get to look at these selections, the more problems they will have, the more problems they have, perhaps they can convince some Republicans to move along with Democrats and stand in their way.

[18:05:08] Now, you mentioned Mike Pompeo. He will be confirmed tomorrow, almost certainly. But the other things to keep an eye on this week, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state selection, he has a committee vote tomorrow. It's not assured he'll be approved by the committee. Marco Rubio, obviously, has had a lot of concerns about that selection.

Now, he should be confirmed by the full Senate, but it just kind of underscores, these are crucial components of President Trump's cabinet. Democrats and some Republicans have real problems with the direction that they go, both ideologically and kind of the agenda side of things. They are going to create problems, create road blocks to try and make these people, make these individuals have to kind of defend themselves, have Republicans defend those picks going forward.

Again, the reality is if Mitch McConnell pledged that every single one of the president's cabinet picks would get through, Democrats are going to try and make that as difficult as possible, especially for the eight or nine cabinet selections that they have very real problems with -- Poppy.

HARLOW: It was so clear Democrats on those confirmation hearings the Democrats are digging in with their eyes on 2020.

Jeff, to you, before we go -- Trump senior adviser, his counselor, frankly, Kellyanne Conway, said today to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press", there is no chance that he will release his tax returns. She said the American public does not care. That's not reflected in fact when you look at the polling that says 74 percent of Americans want him to do that.

ZELENY: Indeed. I mean, our surveys after the election and during the election showed that the majority of Americans wanted Mr. Trump to release his tax returns. But he didn't release them and he got elected. So, she's right that it didn't stop him from being elected.

The question is, will this keep alive questions of conflicts of interest between his business, between his financial portfolio and other foreign businesses he's doing? But she said simply, he's not going to wait. We heard it for months, of course. He would release them after the audit was done.

She said flatly this morning, he's not going to release them and don't think they will pay a price for it. And he is president. He can certainly do what he wants on this. Some members of Congress certainly don't like it. Even some Republicans don't like it.

But it's his choice --

HARLOW: Right.

ZELENY: -- and it's a change in precedent over some 40 years. But he can do what he wants on this, Poppy.

HARLOW: The last president to do the same is President Ford. It's been awhile.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you. Phil Mattingly, thanks to you as well.

Overseas now, Israel's prime minister today announcing that President Donald Trump has invited him to Washington next month. This as the White House says it is in the beginning stages of discussing one of Trump's campaign promises. And as you'll recall, that is moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

A lot to discuss. No one better to do it with than CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott. She's here with me in Washington. And in Jerusalem is our correspondent Oren Liebermann.

Guys, thank you for being here.

And, Oren, let me begin with you. What do we know about the phone call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Donald Trump, what they talked about specifically?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Trump described it as a very nice call. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it a as very warm conversation.

They talked about what Netanyahu said they would talk about it at the weekly cabinet meeting. That's the Iran deal, the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Perhaps a bit on settlements. Neither of them brought up the embassy movement. It wasn't high on their priority list at this moment, and certainly, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesperson leaving it very much open whether something would be done now, soon, later.

So, all the options are on the table for that. But Netanyahu has made it very clear the Iran deal is his big focus. He was the biggest critic internationally, even traveling to Congress to lobby against the deal. In the end, that lobbying didn't work. The deal went through.

And then, Benjamin Netanyahu went quiet on it for the final months. Now with Trump, he sees a new opportunity to in some way try to fight the Iran deal once again. Whether it's rolling it back, changing it, he still calls it a bad deal and he says it's one of the highest priorities for the state of Israel to change this in some way.

That was a big part of the conversation. That coming from both the prime minister's office and the White House.

Also talking about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Trump had suggested his religious Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, might be somebody who would lead the efforts there. Any change there in the status quo, which is a completely stagnant peace process that hasn't gone anywhere since April of 2014 could be seen as a step in some direction. Maybe that would be the right direction.

But I don't think either the Israelis or the Palestinians are particularly optimistic right now that anything could happen on the peace process, especially as the question of the embassy, such a critical question of the region, especially as that question is still out there wondering what might happen with it.

HARLOW: Oren, thank you very much.

And, Elise, to you, let's just talk about the significance to the American people at home. If they are saying, why do I care where the embassy is? Why does it matter?

LABOTT: Well, it matters because for years, for decades, in fact, the U.S. hasn't recognized the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem because it doesn't recognize Israel as the capital -- the Jewish as the capital of Israel.

[18:10:00] And this is something that is supposed to be decided in these final status negotiations between the two parties. My understanding is, no, this wasn't a big focus of the conversation because this is not the top Israeli issue right now. They want to talk about Iran, about Syria, about Hezbollah, about repairing their relationships with the Arabs.

And so, I think there's a genuine desire for President Trump to make good on this pledge to the American people, to the Israelis that he's going to be doing this. But I think also, he needs to solidify his relationship with the Israelis, with the Arabs who are warning him, look, we can talk about doing this, but it needs to be with consultations, it needs to be in the context of a larger peace plan.

And when I talked to diplomats, Poppy, they say that they think that this incoming administration gets it. They think that they will consult and do think that this president has said, right, he said, I think I can make progress on what he calls the ultimate deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

HARLOW: Right.

LABOTT: So, what they're trying to tell him is, listen, if you want to talk about the embassy, let's talk about it in a larger context of a peace process, of moving the Israelis and Palestinians towards peace. And to get Israel and its Arab neighbors to have better relations, because that's what Israel really wants, and the Arabs do too.

HARLOW: Right. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, met King Abdullah of Jordan today, obviously, a very quick response to this, which they do not want to see just happen, you know, instantaneously. They want to discuss this. They want a move of the embassy to be part of this bigger deal.

You know, the United States, for all of the love lost between the former President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the U.S. still signed a $38 billion defense deal recently to help Israel. What is it that you think Bibi Netanyahu will come to the White House and ask President Trump for in addition?

LABOTT: I think it's about Iran, Iran, Iran. It's not just about the Iran deal and the nuclear deal because, you know, look, this deal could be strengthened. Perhaps it could be improved upon. But right now, it does push Iran's nuclear breakout capability, as they say, back several years.

I think what they are interested in is curbing Iran's other behavior in the neighborhood with Hezbollah, with other terrorist groups that it supports -- Hamas, for instance. And I think there's a desire for two leaders to feel that they're working closer together.

You know, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said, the U.S. didn't have my back on the Iran deal. You remember this controversial vote at the U.N. a few weeks ago where the U.S. abstained and let it pass resoundingly. President Trump has said he would never do that to Israel. I think it's really about tone.

HARLOW: To that point, as you well recall during that, that was the week between Christmas and New Year's.

LABOTT: Right.

HARLOW: I remember that representatives for Netanyahu came on our air and said, we have evidence that President Obama, the Obama administration, colluded with Arab nations. We will present that it evidence to President Trump.

Are we going to hear anything about that?

LABOTT: I think we could, but I don't think the actual act is water under the bridge. But I think both leaders are looking forward to their relationship. The president has promised to protect Israel at the United Nations. There is indications that this new ambassador, David Friedman, will look at settlements a little bit more favorably. I mean, perhaps, we could see that leaked over here and there.

Of course, the Obama administration did talk with allies who were voting, about how they were going to vote. How the text was going to be. I'm not sure that that's really important anymore. I think what's important is that Israel feels as if the U.S. and Israel, as they've been before, are on the same page about -- HARLOW: You bring up David Friedman, Trump's pick to be ambassador.

He has in the past now been very supportive of a two-state solution. What do you think that means going forward?

LABOTT: I think there's one president and his name is President Donald Trump. And I think He has said he wants to make a deal, again, what he called the "ultimate deal". I think he'd love to go down as the president that made peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


LABOTT: It's not going to be easy. As we've said, the climate right now, the distrust between the two parties, that's not happening any time soon. But I think that if he can create some more trust with Prime Minister Netanyahu to say, look, I do have your back. This is important. I think that, you know, perhaps, there will be a meeting of the minds. I don't think that any U.S. president that's going to say they're not against the two-state solution. But I do think that they want a much more Israel-friendly process.

HARLOW: And this is new video of Palestinians protesting the new president.

LABOTT: Very controversial decision on the embassy.

HARLOW: Thank you very much, Elise Labott. Nice to have you here.

Oren Liebermann, thank you as well.

Meantime, President Trump will have his first face to face meeting with the foreign leader on Friday. That's when the new British prime minister, Theresa May, will visit Washington.

Our Nic Robertson has the details.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Poppy, this is a huge deal for Theresa May.

[18:15:01] We really can't underestimate it at the moment. What she wants to do is to get a better relationship with the United States, to compensate for any loss of trade with the European Union, as Britain pulls out of the E.U.

Now, look, that's a great sell for the British people, but really she has to go in and her negotiations have to go into those Brexit meetings that begin in a couple months and be able to say very clearly and very firmly, precisely as Theresa May has already said, no deal is better than a bad deal. She was threatened the European leaders by saying that she potentially turned Britain into some sort of tax haven. So, if she gets, you know, the nod from President Trump, if you will, that there is a trade deal with the United States, in the offing, that it is a good one, they can really embolden her, embolden her negotiators when they go into the meeting with those 27 other European Union leaders.

Now, what she's saying at the moment is she's coming to sort of improve and strengthen the special relationship between Britain and the United States.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There will be many issues for us to talk about, because, obviously, the special relationship between the U.K. and U.S. has been strong for many years. We'll have opportunity to talk about our possible future trading relationship, but also some of the world's challenges that we will face, issues like defeating terrorism, the conflict in Syria.


ROBERTSON: But she doesn't necessarily see eye to eye with Donald Trump on all issues on Brexit. Yes on counterterrorism. Yes, she was a home secretary in Britain, dealt directly with U.S. counterterrorism officials for six years, has a strong understanding of that, a strong commonality on that.

But on the European Union, Donald Trump has said that he's relatively ambivalent about the future of the European Union, doesn't mind if it breaks up or not. And has said that he believes that perhaps other countries like Britain will leave. Theresa May has said the European Union, its strengthen unity is important. That's important for Britain. So, there's a difference.

Then there's NATO. Donald Trump has said that NATO is obsolete. That other nations, others, the 28-member nations don't pay their way. So, Theresa May will likely say, look, I believe NATO is important for our common defense and secretary of Europe, the United States and that perhaps she can help get some of those other nations to pay their way.

And she's also likely to say, whoa, hold up a bit on the relationship with President Putin. She's likely to urge Donald Trump a little bit of caution as he progresses forward with President Putin and Russia -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Nic, thank you very much, reporting for us in London tonight.

Still to come for us, waiting game as the president begins his first week in office. Only two of his cabinet picks are officially in place. Who stands to get confirmed this week and who is facing the biggest uphill battle?

And later, dangerous storms wreaked havoc across the southeast. But the worst may still be to come. We will take you there live. Wow, look at that devastation. A live report straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:20:46] HARLOW: Welcome back. If you haven't heard it already, here's a phrase being talked a lot about, "alternative facts". That was the number one trending topic on Twitter earlier today. Why? Because President Obama's senior adviser says the White House press secretary gave, quote, "alternative facts" about crowd's sizes at Friday's inauguration. Listen.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: (AUDIO GAP) of the entire White House press office on day one.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What is -- you're saying it's falsehood. And they're giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point --

TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts for the five facts he uttered. The one thing he got right was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true.

Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.


HARLOW: Our panel is here. Political commentator Ryan Lizza, also the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", political analyst Kirsten Powers, a "USA Today" columnist. David Drucker is here, the "Washington Examiner's" senior congressional correspondent. To my left, Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and a 2016 Democratic super delegate. And Paris Dennard, member of the national diversity coalition for Donald Trump.

Guys, thank you for being here. A lot to jump into.

Ryan, let me begin with you. Alternative facts, are you concerned that becomes the new normal?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, this is not actually new. We have been dealing with this the entire campaign.

HARLOW: But it's new when it's from the president and people closest to him? That's the difference, right?

LIZZA: It is. I think what's so shocking to us as journalists is seeing someone get up at that podium yesterday and start his relationship with the White House press corps on one and an extremely contentious note, right? He got up there and yelled at the press. There was a foreign correspondent in the room who just sent a note and said a picture of Sean, he didn't who he has, and said, this is the man that has been yelling at us for the last few minutes.

So, I think that was jarring on its own, right, because that's -- I can't -- I wasn't in the room but I can't remember ever remember, being in that press room many times, have been covering the White House on and off for almost 20 years, I can't ever remember anyone doing that.

The second thing is, he said things that -- he said things were demonstrably false and that could be proven false with a simple Google search, the plastic on the small -- trivial things when you think about it, but lies nonetheless. Whether there was plastic on the mall, the actual numbers of the metro service, the total number who actually watched this.

So -- and look, all you have as White House spokesperson is your credibility. Once you lose your credibility, we in the press don't take you seriously.

HARLOW: He actually said that like three weeks ago in Chicago. If you don't have your credibility with the press, you have nothing.

LIZZA: Look, this business on our side and on their side, it's a reputational business. You live and die by your reputation. And if you shred that by going out and saying something false, it's really hard to get that back.

HARLOW: Look, Paris Dennard, we all know who his boss is. His boss is the president. And he reports to the president. His responsibility is also to the media and therefore to the American people.

And when you jump into how the president feels about the media, I mean, he said at the CIA yesterday basically I'm at war with the media. The media and I are in a war. Where do we go from here?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICIAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, first of all, I think Sean Spicer on day one his credibility is not in question. This was the first time he was doing the press briefing. Give him a break.


HARLOW: Wait, why -- I'm all for people settling into their jobs. But he said not one, not two, but as Brian Stelter reported, and his job is to dig into the media that five times in five minutes Sean Spicer said things that were just not true. Why should we not care about that? Why should we give him a break? This is a huge job.

DENNARD: That's why it was given to him. I don't think we should judge him and say his credibility on day one for the next four years is now stake and we can't trust Sean Spicer because of this. That's just -- that's ridiculous.

HARLOW: So let me ask you this way. What did Sean Spicer give to the press and American public yesterday in that statement where he refused to take questions, by the way, what did he give the media to trust him with?

[18:25:11] DENNARD: Well, if your notion is that every time he goes out there so that he can build up trust with the media, that's not true. When he goes out there as the press secretary, his responsibility is to present information from the White House and from the president, and give it to the press and then thus to the American people. It's not to have this sort of camaraderie with the members of the press.

LIZZA: It's not about camaraderie, Paris. You only have one job. You know this phrase, you only have one job. You only have one job as White House press secretary, and that's to give information that is accurate. You don't have to tell us anything if it you don't want to, right?

There's nothing in the constitutional that you have to say anything. But you have to be accurate. That's it. That's the baseline for a government --


LIZZA: Look, people make mistakes.

DENNARD: You ought to be accurate as well.

LIZZA: Excuse me, if you make a mistake and say something is inaccurate, then you go out and you correct the record. So far, it's been 24 hours --

DENNARD: Shouldn't the media be fair?

LIZZA: The media should always be fair. All we're talking about here is accuracy, right?

HARLOW: Kirsten, let me Kirsten in here.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the media should be fair, but it's not just coming out and saying things that are demonstrably untrue. He's then accusing the media of doing something they haven't done. I mean, it's not -- the problem in this case is the not media. The problem is giving out the bad information.

HARLOW: He said essentially the media lied.

POWERS: Yes, I mean, it's not true.


HARLOW: Can we pull the picture up? This is about something that's just not important. How many people were at or not at the inauguration, and you could just judge for yourself. That's actually not important. Why this matters, Kirsten, is because of when we're talking about other important facts.

POWERS: Well, also, this constant tearing down of the media. Look, it's fine to have an adversarial relationship with the media. It should be adversarial. We're not his friends and he's not our friend. And that applies for every president. But to continue to tear away at the idea that somehow we are out to get him and making up stuff about him, I have people on my Twitter feed right now that are sending me pictures they claim are pictures of the Mall on inauguration day and they aren't.

HARLOW: They're not.

POWERS: But they really believe this. That's why I think people need to understand, I don't --


DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: One of the reasons they really believe this is because of the pushback from the Trump White House. Look, the media has a credibility problem with a segment of the country. And one of the reasons the Trump administration will continue to do this is because if they do, their base and many others that may or may not be a part of the Trump base will continue to doubt the things we say.

And so, when we report things that are true and that matter, there will be doubt there. That's when this strategy really comes into play.

HARLOW: Let's pull up with Jim Sciutto tweeted that's getting a lot of attention. He tweeted this, "Forget the crowd estimates. What happens when the numbers actually matter? U.S. troops killed, terror cells ID'ed, North Korean missiles fired? That's totally different."

This is actually about an issue that's not that important how many people were there. But very important issues we're going to rely on what the White House press secretary says.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that's right, and who knows what Sean Spicer is going to come out and say about these things when it really does matter. I'm sorry, Paris, but when he does talk about these things that do matter, there's going to be a question in reporters' minds. Oh, can we really trust what he's saying?


CARDONA: Well, we fact checked what he's saying yesterday. And you're pushing back. .


CARDONA: Well --

DRUCKER: Well, there was malicious intent.

CARDONA: What else can you assume?

DRUCKER: Look, I have known him for years.

DENNARD: You think there was a malicious intent behind what he did?

DRUCKER: Yes, the intent was --

DENNARD: Malicious intent?

DRUCKER: That intent was to communicate --

DENNARD: You think it was malicious?

DRUCKER: Look, I've know -- let me make this clear. I've known Sean for years. He still has credibility with me. It was day one and I know he was following orders from his boss. DENNARD: And you think it was malicious intent.

DRUCKER: One of the rules we have as reporters is spin all you want, but don't lie.

DENNARD: You think it was malicious intent.

DRUCKER: Yes, it was malicious in that they were trying to counter facts that they didn't like that were true.

CARDONA: They were it presenting as Kellyanne said, alternative facts. I mean, come one, what does that even mean?

DENNARD: It means that you have your facts. I'll give you facts that are alternatives.


CARDONA: Facts are not up for grabs.

HARLOW: Guys, I don't have a lot of time.

Paris, final thought.

DENNARD: Final thought is this: Sean Spicer is going to have this type of relationship with the press, with the media. That was why he was hired?

HARLOW: A dishonest one? Paris, you know that some of the things he said were dishonest. Should we expect this moving forward?

DENNARD: No, we should not expect it. And we should give somebody a break. Because at the end of the day, no one cares about the numbers on the Mall.

CARDONA: Except Donald Trump.

LIZZA: There was a reporter for "TIME" magazine and he made a mistake in reporting something, he corrected it.

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: Sean Spicer, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. He made a mistake and said things that weren't true. The way to move forward with the press, admit you made a mistake and move forward.

HARLOW: OK. We'll see if that happens. Thank you.

All of you stand by. We have a lot coming up for us.

The images are stunning. Women and men in cities across the globe marching with a message yesterday. We will take you to where it all started. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: On his first official day in office, President Trump got down to work, signing executive orders. At the same time, more than a million women and men in cities across the United States and around the word marched together in a sea of solidarity with a message for the President.

Our Kyung Lah reports.


AMERICA FERRERA, ACTRESS: And the President is not America. We are America.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A battle cry from a sea of pink on President Donald Trump's first full day as President.

Why did you want to come here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We needed to come here on the turf of Donald Trump to let him know I am not going to stand for it. I'm going to make a difference myself.

LAH (voice-over): In the nation's capital, people from coast to coast descended. Hundreds of thousands of marchers filling almost every inch of the path on their way to the White House's backyard.

Similar scenes playing out across the country. In St. Louis, the marchers filled the streets towards the gateway arch.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Hello, women of Massachusetts.

LAH (voice-over): In Boston, New York, Chicago, and around the world, and more than 600 marches. According to organizers, the crowds were exponentially larger than expected.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: We are here to be respected. We are here to be nasty. I am nasty, like Susan, Elizabeth, Eleanor, Amelia, Rosa, Gloria, Condoleezza, Sonia, Mahlala, Michelle, Hillary.

MADONNA, SINGER: Good did not win this election, but good will win in the end.

LAH (voice-over): Marchers pledging to remain united as a loud opposition voice for the next four years.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Washington.


HARLOW: Kyung, thank you very much for that.

[18:35:01] Coming up for us, one of President Trump's top advisers saying today, he will not release his tax returns. This is despite multiple campaign promises to do just that. We will dig into it.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: Welcome back to our special live coverage from the nation's capital.

Tonight, a top adviser to President Trump today saying that the President will not release his tax returns. This is after the IRS audit that he said during the campaign is complete. Listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him.

And let me make this very clear. Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like. And you know full well that President Trump and his family are complying with all the ethical rules, everything they need to do to step away from his businesses and be a full-time President.


HARLOW: But this is what President Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not releasing the tax returns because, as you know, they're under audit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But every president since the '70s has had a final audit from the IRS.

TRUMP: Oh, gee, I've never heard that. Oh, gee, I've never heard that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last six has released them. But as President, sir --

TRUMP: I've never heard that --


TRUMP: You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.

It depends on the audit, not a big deal.

When the audit is complete, I'll release my returns. I have no problem with it.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Donald Trump has every intention of releasing his tax returns once a routine audit is complete.

TRUMP: So the answer is that, really, it's hopefully before the election, I'll release. And I'd like to release. By the way, you learn very little from a tax return.


HARLOW: Now, I should note, nothing in the IRS rules prevents anyone from releasing their tax returns at any point in time, even when their under audit.

Let's debate all of it. My panel is back.

And, Paris, let me begin with you. Do you see anything problematic with this, breaking a campaign promise that he said multiple times, I'll release them after the audit, I'll release them after the audit? Now, Kellyanne Conway says that he won't.

[18:40:09] PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's important to keep it in context. The way I've read the report and saw it was that she responded to an online petition at that had 200,000 signatures asking for him to release his returns. And they asked her, what was the White House's response to the petition, and she said that the President was not going to release his returns.

HARLOW: Do you think he still may?

DENNARD: I think he still may, and I actually think he should. That's why I thought that President Obama should release his or show his birth certificate to put it to rest. I think President Trump should release his tax returns just like he said he would.

HARLOW: So here's --


HARLOW: Here's the difference. As you know, as everyone knows, there was no basis, in fact, for the birther movement. No basis, in fact, that the President wasn't born here, and yet it was pushed including by the current President for many, many years.

There is fact and precedent for releasing your tax returns. It's been done for decades, for four straight decades.


HARLOW: So you can't really equate the two.

DENNARD: Well, I did and I think a lot of people do. But my point is, we are jumping to conclusions. The President has not come out and said that he's not going to release his returns, and I believe that Kellyanne Conway was responding to the online petition.

And say, if an online petition came out and said, like it happened when President Obama's in office, let's deport Justin Bieber back to Canada. The White House's response, we're not going to deport him.

HARLOW: Oh my goodness. I did not think Justin Bieber would come up in this panel. I can tell you that.


HARLOW: Ryan, does Paris have a point? Do we need to wait for the President to say, no --


HARLOW: -- I'm not releasing my --

LIZZA: We'd all agree for him to be -- no.

HARLOW: Justin Bieber, come on the show. Yes, justice for Justin Bieber.


HARLOW: I mean, does he have a point?

LIZZA: Look, I think that the point that there's no law that says the presidential candidate or the President has to release his tax return, but there is a norm. And once one side breaks the norm like that, it paves the road for future presidential candidates to do the same thing.

And I guarantee you, there'll be Republicans, four years from now, eight years from now, you know, 20 years from now --

HARLOW: Who will thank him.

LIZZA: -- who will say, oh, you know, I'm not going to release my tax returns and Republicans will flip around and say, well, you should. That's why these norms are important. And that's why a lot of people are concerned about the norms that Trump is breaking.

We're not saying he's breaking the law, but he's breaking the norms.

HARLOW: Yes. Well, no, he's not breaking the law.

LIZZA: He did it with the tax returns.

DENNARD: He hasn't --

HARLOW: So the America --

LIZZA: And now, he has broken a promise.

HARLOW: One point in fact --

DENNARD: No, he hasn't.

LIZZA: I understand you have a counterintuitive argument, that maybe this isn't the final word on this. But if we take Kellyanne at her word saying that --

HARLOW: OK. Here's an important --

LIZZA: -- he's not going to release his tax returns, the White House has broken a promise.

HARLOW: And important point of fact is that the American people do care because our latest polling from just a few days ago shows 74 percent of Americans say, yes, the President should release his tax returns. It appears that only 23 percent say, no, he shouldn't or doesn't need to.

Why does this matter to the American people? What more information would they glean now that he already is President?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think part of it is that it is just traditionally done, and so people are probably asking him to consider doing it.

HARLOW: OK. But aside from tradition, why does it matter?

POWERS: Because it will give you a better sense of what, you know, his business holdings have been, and you can actually get some sort of transparency, making sure he doesn't have relationships with other countries that maybe we need to know about. And I think people just believe, overall, in transparency.

But this poll is interesting in that these alternative facts, this is another one that they keep telling us over and over, that the American people don't care about this even though we have the poll says showing us that they do care about it.

HARLOW: Some Americans don't care about it.

POWERS: But most of them --

HARLOW: But more of them do.

DENNARD: Three percent.

POWERS: Most of them do. Paris doesn't but most of them do. I think that --

LIZZA: Paris said that he wants Trump to release them.

DENNARD: But I don't --

POWERS: He just says he doesn't care about --


LIZZA: Yes, sorry.

DENNARD: Yes, but I think he should release them.

POWERS: Yes, yes. He doesn't care if they bring them out. But I think that the --



DRUCKER: Look, the reason this is a political norm is because politicians, for the last 30, 40 years, have felt it to be politically advantageous that they release their tax returns. They have to submit a financial disclosure. They've only done tax returns and this includes politicians that run for --

HARLOW: I don't know that Mitt Romney thought it was advantageous but eventually did it.

DRUCKER: Because he thought it was advantageous because he was getting beat up over --

HARLOW: Right.

DRUCKER: -- in how much money did you make? Have you paid taxes at all? It was all politics. So Trump has made the determination, especially because he won the presidency, that it is not politically necessary for him to do so.

Now, here's whey think. I think that if people are happy about how their lives are going under his presidency over the next couple of years, they're going to wish he would as a manner of norm and principle, but they're not going to care all that much.

If things don't go well, if he doesn't deliver on his promises, if we end up in a recession, I think they're going to start to say, he's making a lot of money off of us and maybe he ought to release his tax returns so we know what's going on.

LIZZA: Listen, I will say that --

HARLOW: Final thought, Maria?

MARIA CARDONA, FOUNDER, MESTIZOINOVATIONS: Yes. Well, the point when he became the nominee for the Republican Party, and he didn't have to release his tax returns and he became the nominee, I didn't think he was going to release his tax returns. And the main reason why I think he's not going to release his tax returns is because I do think he has something to hide.

In the small pieces of the tax returns that we have seen from him, he got hammered and hammered and hammered because we saw that, of the billions of dollars that he was making, he didn't pay any taxes for 20 years.

[18:45:10] HARLOW: Well, so you're talking about the '95 taxes.

CARDONA: Yes. And so --

HARLOW: And by the way, it's all legal. That's how the tax system is set up by our lawmakers including Democrats.

CARDONA: Absolutely, that's correct. That is all legal but it didn't look good for him. And so I think that there is more in there that goes to, perhaps, things that might not be legal. And I think that that is exactly why he's not going to release his tax returns.

HARLOW: Understood that's your opinion.


HARLOW: That we just have no idea because none of us have seen them.

CARDONA: Exactly, that's the problem.

HARLOW: And a big majority, they certainly wants to see them but, again, seriously --

LIZZA: I want to see them. But to me, it's not even about the tax returns anymore. It's about if a politician says something in the campaign, don't lie. Do it.

HARLOW: All right. I got to leave it there. Guys, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Straight ahead for us here, we're following some very severe weather across the country. States of emergency declared in two states after 16 people have been killed in these severe storms.

We're going to take you live to a town in Georgia where a mobile home park was nearly wiped off the map.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARLOW: All right. Two southern states right now under a state of emergency after being hit by severe weather.

Georgia's Governor declaring emergencies in seven counties after at least 12 people died from the severe weather in the south central part of the state. A state of emergency also declared in southern Mississippi where four people were killed Saturday when a tornado hit.

Georgia's emergency management officials say eight people were killed in Cook County alone where this mobile home park took a direct hit in the town of Adel. Forecasters say there's still a severe weather threat for some areas in the south tonight.

We'll get more of that in just a moment. But, first, I want to take you to our Polo Sandoval. He is live for us in Adel, Georgia.

Obviously, we see some emergency responder's lights flashing behind you. What do you see on the ground there?

[18:49:56] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Poppy, because of that threat for even more severe weather, these first responders have not yet been able to complete, for 100 percent, the search and recovery efforts.

So that neighborhood that you mentioned, well, that's still sealed off, not just here with us but the neighbors at this point because they want to make sure that the neighborhood is entirely clear before some of the folks who call this place home are able to go in there.

Because of the dark, because of the distance, we can't show you right now. But look at the pictures that we shot a few moments ago. Just down the street, you will see widespread devastation here. This is where many people, where their lives came to an end.

In fact the owner and the manager of this property now reaching out to some of the residents saying, in a statement that he posted online, "It is with deep sorrow that I write this, the majority of sunshine acres is no more. Due to a tornado, the majority of sunshine acres was destroyed. Most everyone is OK, but there are still missing."

Poppy, we know at least five people are still unaccounted for. So results, officials are still trying to track down any sign of them. But, of course, as we have seen in many of these kinds of cases, there are also those incredible stories of survival.

I talked to a 24-year-old father who rode out the storm in a bathtub with his wife and his one-year-old baby. As soon as the storm blew through, he grabbed his brother and began to take part in rescue efforts.

He heard some crying coming from a pile of rubble, and that's when he and his brother were able to dig out three small children. They're OK, but they do have reason to believe that their parents possibly are among the dead.

So, again, these are the stories that we're hearing on the ground. Come daytime tomorrow, even more devastation will be evident from many people here, Poppy.

HARLOW: The lives behind the destruction. Polo, thank you very much for the reporting there. Please keep us posted.

All right. Now to that continued threat of severe weather throughout the night tonight, I'm joined bring our meteorologist Tom Sater.

How serious is this threat tonight and where is the most concern right now?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we still have a big concern in many counties in central and northern Florida, in the South Carolina, but the storm is not over with. It is going to make its way up toward you in New York City and could have hurricane force winds tomorrow without the severe weather, but the winds are bad enough.

What you see in pink is a high risk for tornadoes. The last time we had one during the month of January was 1999. And for good reason. Thirty-four tornados, the four deaths in Hattiesburg and, of course, the 12 in southern Georgia. Hopefully, we won't have any more tonight. But warnings are still out. Tornado watches in effect from south of

Tampa, south of Orlando, all the way up north of Charleston. And there are warnings right now, meaning tornadoes spotted or even confirmed by local radars. And that would be near the Daytona area and north of Jacksonville into areas of South Carolina.

The storm is going to continue to spin, but, again, the winds are going to cause big delays, heavy rainfall in Washington, D.C. by morning, Poppy. And then for New York City, we're looking at hurricane force winds, 60, 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts that will extend up toward Boston with possibly two to three inches of rain. It's not over with yet.



HARLOW: All right, not over with yet. A very deadly system. Thank you very much, Tom Sater lives for us in the severe weather center. We appreciate it.

We have much more ahead. Stay with us. We're back in a moment.


[18:55:58] HARLOW: Welcome back to a special live edition of CNN NEWSROOM from the nation's capital. We are just hours away from finding out what the markets think of President Donald Trump.

Our Paul La Monica is in New York with a preview. Hi, Paul.

PAUL LA MONICA, CNNMONEY DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy. Wall Street will be watching Donald Trump's first full week as president. The rally we saw after his election has run out of some steam, but history is on his side.

Since 1832, the Dow has averaged a 2.5 percent gain in the year following a presidential election according to the stock trader's almanac. Investors will also be watching a flood of earnings this week, including for Ford and Boeing, two companies Trump has singled out on Twitter.

Ford, of course, has recently cancelled plans to build a new plant in Mexico. It will invest $700 million in Michigan instead, creating 700,000 new jobs. And Boeing has pledged to rein in the cost for a new Air Force One.

On Friday, we'll also get a first look at fourth quarter economic growth. Economists are expecting that GDP rose in an annualized rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, a slowdown from the third quarter. Poppy.

HARLOW: Paul, thank you very much, live from New York. We appreciate it.

Much more of this special edition of CNN NEWSROOM from the nation's capital next.