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Bipartisan Leaders To Meet With Trump Tomorrow; WH: Discussion Begin on Moving U.S. Embassy In Israel; Adviser Walks Back Comments On Trump Income Taxes; Trump Invites Israeli Leader To White House; Trump Pledges Aid For Storm-Hit Georgia; President Begins Term At War With The Press; WH Attacks Media For Accurately Reporting Crowd Size; Conway: White House Offering "Alternative Facts"; Trump Declares "Running War" With Media; Hillary Clinton Tweets Her Support; The Fight Trump's Cabinet; Trump Greets Comey With Pat On The Back; Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 22, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
January 22, 2017
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Poppy Harlow coming to you live tonight from the nation's capital. It is 10:00 p.m. Eastern and we have lot to get you. New tonight, we've learned that President Trump has invited the top congressional leaders from both parties to come to the White House tomorrow to discuss his agenda. This news comes on the heels of the White House confirming early discussions about moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tele Aviv to Jerusalem. A move that would be both significant and controversial.
Earlier today, President Trump spoke by phone with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A call the President described as quote, "Very nice." The focus of the calls CNN has learned, the Iran nuclear deal and also the Civil War in Syria. The other big headline tonight, President Trump's White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, walking back remarks she made this morning on Meet The Press, saying that the President would not release his tax returns even after that much sighted audit is complete.
Well, Kellyanne Conway now tells CNN that the President remains under audit and has not changed his views. Still though, we don't know if he will release his tax returns or not at all. We have our panel of analysts to drive into all of that and the big headline of course. But do want to begin tonight overseas with our Ian Lee who is live for us in Jerusalem. That phone call today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump, do we know what was discussed
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, we do know what was discussed. There was the firm commitment by the United States toward the State of Israel. We're learning that. We're also learning that they discussed a wide range of topics from the Civil War in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal as well as the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Also the embassy we're hearing they're in the very beginning stages of even discussing moving the embassy from Tele Aviv to Jerusalem. We're getting some reaction from that. From Nir Barkat, this is the mayor of Jerusalem. He tweeted out the message this evening from POPTUS sends a clear message to the entire world that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We will assist the administration in the smooth and quick transfer of the embassy. Now there has been strong reaction on the other side. We heard from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and as well as king Abdullah of Jordan.
They are resisting this move. King Abdullah of Jordan has said that he would work with regional partners as well as international partners to try to block this. This is something that both the Palestinians and the Arab world sees as something to be discussed during negotiations. Not something that is a unilateral move. We also heard from the Palestinians Secretary General of the PLO saying that they won't revoke the recognition of Israel as well as revoke all agreements if this move goes forward.
HARLOW: Right, of course. Because it would be moving it in what they see as contested territory. We'll get into that more in a moment. But also, we know that President Trump invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House pretty soon. Do we know if he will take him up on the offer?
LEE: Yes. This has been the real discussion here in Jerusalem about this visit. We're hearing that is going to happen in early February, we do not know the dates at this the time. But what we're expecting from this is really the path forward with relations between Israel and the United States. What the two administrations hope to achieve, what they plan to do moving forward. A lot to discuss though, a lot to do, Poppy.
HARLOW: Ian Lee, thank you very much. Live for us tonight from Jerusalem. Let's bring in our panel. CNN Global Affairs Correspondent, Elise Labott, CNN Political Analyst and Columnist for the Washington Post, Josh Rogin, Matt Lewis is the senior columnist for the Daily Beast. Also joining us, Alice Stewart, a republican strategist and former communications director for Ted Cruz, and New York Times Contiributor, Wajahat Ali. Thank you all for being here. And Elise, let me begin with you, just on the significance of this move, Trump said it during the campaign, he will likely follow through. We know David Friedman of course is picked for ambassador is in support of it. What is the significance though of moving the embassy to Jerusalem?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORESPONDENT: Well, you know the success of administrations for decades have avoided doing that, even though congress has introduced legislation calling for that, they've passed these waivers because that would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And both Israelis and Palestinians think that Israel is the rightful capital. And so, successive presidents have settled this and this is an issue that should be discussed in the context of a wider comprehensive peace deal. That's what they call one of the final status issues. One of the thorniest issues.
And so for the U.S. to say we're going to put our embassy in Jerusalem, that would be recognizing Jerusalem as the rightful capital. Now some people say it depends on where in Jerusalem you put it. If you do it in west Jerusalem which Israel does expect to be its capital, that would be --
HARLOW: Difference of interest.
LABOTT: OK. But if the Palestinians are say no, this needs to be something that is discussed in the context of a wider peace agreement. And so, you know, there are some half moves while the President, I think, is committed to doing something like this. You know, people say that he could like switch the signs of the consulate to make it an embassy. I think you're going to see them be a little bit more deliberate about this.
Maybe taking some smaller gestures such as having Ambassador Friedman living and working in Jerusalem while they consult on a fuller plan timeline and discussing this in the larger context of what are their plans for Mideast peace which -- that's what's that Arab countries are looking for.
HARLOW: OK. And we know like so many presidents before him, Alice, that this president would like to be the one to have it and make the peace agreement fall on his watch, of course. At the same time, he's making moves or signaling them that are very controversial like this move of the embassy. Like tapping David Friedman who has been rather the supportive of settlements and has not exactly been supportive of a two-state solution. Why all of this at the front end of a presidency, do you think when you want to have partners on both sides if you're going to read to that agreement?
LABOTT: The fact that we're even having this conversation I think is a positive step. Needless to say the relationship between us and our greatest ally on the Obama administration was very cold. And it's good to see that the doors open and the negotiations are on the table.
HARLOW: You see it as cold. Others point to the $38 billion that the U.S. just signed over in Defense in that MOU to Israel. I mean --
LABOTT: That's true, but in terms --
HARLOW: Obama may not have loved each other. The U.S. still did a lot for Israel.
LABOTT: True, true. The U.S. was very gracious during that period, but in terms of the relationship between our president and Netanyahu was not as it looks like it's going now. And I think the fact that everything appeared to be on the table with this conversation. Moving the embassy was one but clearly the biggest priority for Israel as well as us is working together to try and diffuse the nuclear threat of Iran. And that's important for Israel, it's important for us and for all of the region.
And I think another important outtake from the read out of the call is Trump made it clear that the confrontations between the Israelis and Palestinians, they need to come to the table and they need to come to how to figure out how to deal with that and not necessarily intervention from other nations.
HARLOW: Wajahat, I want your take on the reaction of what you believe it will be at least from some Muslims in America. As we look at guys, let's pull up that video of Palestinians tonight overseas protesting in the last 24 hours. The presidency of Donald Trump. Your thoughts and reactions from Muslims in America to this news of what at least is rightly reporting probably maybe a slower move than thought of the embassy over --
WAJAHAT ALI, NEW YORK TIMES CONTIRIBUTOR: WELL, it's not just Muslims, also Israeli Jews are protesting, this is an American Jews. Look, you have to agree with the George W. Bush administration, the Clinton administration and also the Obama administration that if you were to move the embassy from Tele Aviv 45 miles to Jerusalem, it would undermine national security of Israel, of Palestinians, of middle-eastern region. And also of the United States of America.
ALI: This is -- well, because Jerusalem is disputed territory, number one. Number two, 75 percent f American Jews are in favor, still of a two-state solution which is hanging on by a thread. Recognizing east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian State. And now after the inauguration of Donald Trump by just having 566 illegal settlements were built in Jerusalem, the mayor said this because it's a brand new ballgame of Donald Trump.
The entire community, international community is unanimous that these settlements are a, illegal, and b, the greatest impediment towards a peace process. And you have David Freeman, a man with zero experience recurring team with some of the cabinet picks was so right-winged that he makes Netanyahu look like a liberal code pink supporter who calls fellow Jews to support the two-state process, you kno what they call them? Capitals. Nazi Germany collaborators. And he said that they're traitors. So this is provocative and acclamatory --
HARLOW: I know that he's yet -- I should know that he's yet to get confirm but if he does take confirm --
ALI: But if he does, it's so provocative, everyone. Not just most --
HARLOW: Elise, quickly.
LABOTT: I just want to point out that is not of Israeli's main priorities right now. I mean, clearly the Israeli government does want this to happen and they welcomed President Trump some pledges to do so. But they say that what are their three top issues? Combatting the threat posed by Iran and trying to undo the nuclear deal. The violence how of Syria and how that threatens them with Hezbollah and Bashar Al-Assad and also improving their relationship with Arab neighbors. So they say that this is really important --
HARLOW: When we were seeing earlier, President Trump wants to defeat ISIS, he's going to need his friends and our friends in the Arab world and Arab coalition right by his side to do just that. I want to get to the other top story tonight obviously which is the tax returns. Let's just take a moment and listen to exactly what Kellyanne Conway said this morning on Meet The Press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: 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 focussed 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 of the ethical rules, everything they need to do to step away from his businesses and be a full-time president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. Well, Conway has since walked back those statements saying now to CNN that the President's position has not changed since the campaign. She did not though say whether or not we will see these tax returns. Josh Rogin, to this point of fact where -- when she said the people, they do, and the latest CNN poll from just a few days ago, 74 percent of Americans said that Trump should release his tax returns. It's not their number one concern, but they think he should.
JOSH ROGIN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Of course, not just because it's 40 years of precedent but because there are so many questions about his business ties, especially to overseas companies, overseas banks. Who does he owe money to? How could that affect our foreign policy? Those are real questions and those can only really be understood when we know more about his business dealings. The greater issue of course is that there's no sort of nod or -- to the notion of transparency and the notion of accountability. So it's another sign that this White House is just not going to respect those --
HARLOW: But -- so he make -- and Trump supporters make the argument, Matt, that he won the election. And therefore the people didn't care and therefore, you know, it's fine (INAUDIBLE) you can't really make that argument because he won the election, he won the electoral college, no question about it. He didn't win the majority of the American popular vote, so you can't make the argument, can you that the American people don't care if they put him in office.
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think if I'm the political strategist, I tell Donald Trump don't -- why would you -- at this point why would you put out your taxes? You won, nothing good could come from this --
HARLOW: Wait, if there is nothing questionable, why could not go come from it? Transparency to the American people, it is a good thing
LEWIS: I don't know that I would want the American people digging through my taxes. I mean, you never know.
ROGIN: I want you to.
LEWIS: In a complicated he fills up business --
HARLOW: Petition for Matt Lewis's tax return.
ROGIN: Yes. I want to see.
LEWIS: As a strategist, I would say don't do it. I mean, obviously, if you ask me like what I like to see, yes, of course the answer is yes. As a journalist I would love to see what's in there. And I mean, you know, who knows what you might find. But there's no law, there's nothing in the constitution you said there's a 40-year precedent.
HARLOW: There is since Jimmy Carter.
LEWIS: Leave it around for a couple hundred years. So, Donald Trump is saying, we're doing it different. Why would he -- I don't see this --
HARLOW: Alice, one of -- I think the big concerns for all of us as journalists is just the lack of a clear message from even Kellyanne Conway, I mean, we heard what she said to Chuck Todd and then tonight to Jeff Zeleny she said, "Well, actually, we haven't changed positions." I mean, it's one thing to spin things or dance around things on the campaign trail. You were a communication's director.
ALICE STEWART, FORMER COMMUNICATIOS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. TED CRUZ: Right.
HARLOW: Is it appropriate to do it now?
STEWART: Look, I think having been on a team that opposed him ordering or begging him to release the taxes, we all knew he was never going to release the taxes. I mean, this is not anything that we are surprised about.
HARLOW: Why can't she give us a straight answer?
STEWART: That's a good question. That's a good question. And the -- and the fact that she's doing this interview and that's kind of the takeaway of the -- of the interview when we didn't expect this but I think we can just give up hope that we're going to see the taxes. And that's just the reality of it. And I think as much as a lot of journalists would like to see it, I would personally like to see it. It's not going to happen.
HARLOW: Do you think (INAUDIBLE)
STEWART: Here's the thing, here's the thing. The reason there's a 40-year precedent for releasing these taxes and seeing this information is so the American people and the journalist can vet their ties and their business interests, they didn't see that, they didn't get that. Yet the -- but he won anyway. And I think the people knew -- AKLI: The reason she can't give a straight answer is because Donald Trump lie. Let's just be blunt about this. He's lying. He said he would release his taxes and he doesn't. And this is -- I mean, this is a extreme --
HARLOW: To be fair here, Waja, we actually haven't heard from him, the man.
ALI: All right.
HARLOW: Let's hold -- let's hold on that.
ALI: All right. OK.
HARLOW: Wait until we hear him actually say I'm not releasing them because we haven't heard that yet. I want to get to one other thing that the President said today talking about these horrible storms across the southeast in Georgia, many deaths, let's listen to what the President said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I just spoke with Governor Nathan Deal, great state, great people, Florida affected, Alabama affected by the tornado and just expressed our sincere condolences for the lives taken. Tornados were vicious, powerful, and strong, and they suffered greatly. So we'll be helping out the State of Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Josh Rogin, that's a much different more -- different tone and much more presidential tone than we've been hearing.
ROGIN: Yes. I mean, I don't think we should set the expectation so low that when he acknowledges a storm that we give him a star -- a gold star, OK? We had a whole day of just really combative or a whole two days of the presidency we're just attacking the press, you know, saying weird things to the CIA, claiming we should have taken the oil in Iraq. I mean, it was just a rich tapestry of just -- real strange stuff. And then, yes, he got up and acknowledge that there was storms and pledged to give money. That's the right thing to do. But if you do the right thing one out of every five times, that's not a good track record this early.
Well, he has sort of -- the one thing I would say that though like he is a big government republican. And so, you don't have the cognitive distance that you might have if there was like a fiscal conservative who is a budget balancer who gets up there. And it's not just obviously I think most Americans believe that we should help out the people who are storm ravaged but I think it's going to be infrastructure. You're going to see him helping out a lot of people that are hurting with government money and it's not going to have that cognitive dissonance that like a Mike Pence might have if he was president.
HARLOW: Thank you very much. I have to leave it there. We have a lot more ahead. Coming up, the President and the press. Just hours into his presidency, Donald Trump and his team blasting the media for what they call inaccurate reporting. So what can we expect in the White House press briefing tomorrow? That's next. You're live in the CNN newsroom.
HARLOW: Welcome back. President Trump spending his first days in office the same way he spent much of his campaign, at odds with the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As you know I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. Right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Got him some applause there at the CIA yesterday, two hours later Press Secretary Sean Spicer stunned the White House Press Corps by attacking the press for its reporting. It's accurate reporting on the crowd size at the inauguration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's what you guys should be writing and covering. That this -- instead of sewing division about tweets and false narratives. The President is committed to unifying our country and that was the focus of this inaugural address. This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult. There's been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable, and I'm here to tell you it goes two ways. We're going to hold the press accountable as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Spicer went on to say that Trump's inauguration was, "The largest audience to witness an inauguration, period." So take a look at this, these are images, aerial images comparing President Obama's 2009 inauguration on the -- if I -- if you're facing the T.V like I am, the left side of your screen and on the right is Trump's inauguration. You decide those with the images. I want to bring in my panel Erik Wimple is with us, media critic for the Washington Post and Alice Stewart is back, republican strategist and formerly the communications director for Ted Cruz. Thank you both. Erik, nice to have you on.
ERIK WEMPLE, MEDIA CRITIC, WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me.
HARLOW: I don't think we've met in Person. I'm glad you're here. Let me read the top headline from your newspaper right now online. The traditional day of reporting a president is dead and Trump's Press Secretary killed it. Is there any going back from here?
WEMPLE: Not -- this is the first day. And you're talking about five falsehoods or lies depending upon the state of mind of Sean Spicer. So, I think that's a fair assessment. I mean, how do you go forward when someone has so apparent deliberately misled in such an important sort of like ceremonial start to the administration? And it is going to be very difficult. That I think, you know, if there's any one person who has to have an absolutely spotless record on facts, it's the press secretary. I mean, why would -- why would we ever take any other representation as being credible?
HARLOW: You know, to Erik's point, Alice, Sean Spicer said exactly that a few weeks ago in Chicago. He was on stage with David Axelrod, President Obama's former advisor and he said if you don't have the trust of the press corps, you have nothing. Here is what Kellyanne Conway said defending him this morning on Meet The Press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS HOST: It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on the day one.
CONWAY: No it doesn't. Don't be so -- don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What -- you're saying it's a 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 four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right Zeke Miller.
CONWAY: Hey chuck. Why -- hey Chuck --
TODD: Four of the five facts he uttered which is not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts, they're falsehoods.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: She calls it alternative facts, but others, including Ari Fleischer, spokesman and press secretary for President George W. Bush. Here is how he put it on Twitter. This is a statement you're told to make by the president and you know the president is watching. You were a former communications director. What do you make of this? What would you do if you were told make this statement and you knew part of it was not true?
STEWART: Push back, push back, and push back. Look, as -- in my career, with -- dealing with the media, you have to pick your battles. There are going to be stories that you're not going to like and sometimes you push back. Sometimes you hold your fire and wait for the next one. Look, Sean has a long career in this role and he has a great relationship with the media. I don't think one news conference is going to change that. I think -- I think -- I think -- I think we need to give him the benefit of a doubt.
HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) yelling press and not taking any question.
STEWART: Well, I think -- I think this is one instance -- look, he -- they clearly -- this is the Trump administration. Size matters. And this is one fight they want to fight. It reminds me of what Reagan said, if you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat. That's exactly what Sean Spicer did.
WEMPLE: But the notion there's going to be some sort of recovery here is premised on the idea that somehow this was a mistake. This is a part of the strategy. I mean, Trump lied his way into the White House. He lied about everything that he encountered. Don't believe me, believe Ted Cruz who called him a pathological liar before exited the race. This is a part in effort to delegitimize media through the use of little lies. So that when the media goes and exposes the big ones was Trump, the people won't be listening.
HARLOW: Reince Priebus said this morning on the Sunday morning talk shows, the media is making a concerted effort to the delegitimize the President, Alice.
STEWART: That's clearly what -- how they see it and how they view it. And I think look, they are holding the press accountable. And I think in many instances I think that is important and necessary to do and to get out of the gate, right out of the gate doing that.
HARLOW: Is this the battle to do it with? Because I want to pull up what our national security correspondent Jim Sciutto tweeted today. It's getting a lot of attention. Forget crowd estimates, what happens when the numbers matter? U.S. troops killed, terror cells ID'd, North Korean missiles fired. I mean, Eric, this draws into question credibility on an issue that's not that important. Actually not -- it's not important to the American people or to this democracy how many people were or weren't there, but the fact -- but if you're not truthful about that, then what else will you not be truthful about?
WEMPLE: But it's all the president cares about, right? This, you know, the size of the crowd, his ratings, all that stuff, you know, the size of his rallies, he's shown us that this is issue number one for him. So this is a big issue for the White House. That's what he came out and said yesterday. I mean, he had Zeke Miller of Time Magazine on a legitimate problem. What Zeke Miller reported is a serious mistake. And one --
HARLOW: That was the problem. Just so our viewers know, he said that the bust of Martin Luther Knig Jr. had been moved out of the Oval Office. In fact, it had not, it was just blocked by someone. A fact that should have been checked before reported.
WEMPLE: And one that I hold is, you know, is a real problem. Especially given Trump's -- the way he ran.
HARLOW: Way too late.
WEMPLE: Right. Exactly. I feel that that's a real problem.
HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) you're saying should have really focussed on that and not these issues that were not --
WEMPLE: Right. (INAUDIBLE)
STEWART: In the advent of Twitter and this has happened ever since Twitter became an issue on campaigns. Reporters will see something such as the bust or make a comment on something --
STEWART: -- and tweet it out and then it's retweeted and makes news and then they issue an apology, but it's too late, you can't put that toothpaste back in the tube. And that is the frustration that the Trump administration have.
HARLOW: Before I let you go, I will just say that -- I mean, look at this polling, these numbers show us that the Americans trust in the media is not very high. It's at 32 percent right now. So does this help their argument?
WEMPLE: Well, when those statistics about the low America trusting the media were put out earlier this year during the campaign, Donald Trump sort of boasted by. It was -- I like, you know, I sort of have something to do with that.
HARLOW: By just to give, does it help them?
WEMPLE: Of course it does. And they're going to try to push it down into the cellar so much that when the media comes up with a big story, no one's going to believe it. And that's what their answer is.
HARLOW: That his approval rating is lower than the president transition and us, the media. Congress. Congress. All right guys, thank you very much.
STEWART: Thank you.
HARLOW: Alice and Erik, we appreciate it.
HARLOW: For a second day today, Hillary Clinton announced her support of those protests that we saw around the globe yesterday. The former democratic presidential nominee retweeted an article from slate a couple hours ago that showed images and videos of the huge crowd. She tweeted, "Scrolling through images of the women's march is awe inspiring. Hope it brought joy to others as it did to me." During the marches yesterday Clinton tweeted her support and expressed her gratitude in real-time. One tweet read important as ever, I truly believe we are stronger together.
Coming up next for us, the fight over President Trump's cabinet. Two days into his presidency, two of his cabinet positions are filled and confirmed, what's the hold-up on all of the others?
Also more on this warm greeting between the president and FBI Director James Comey. The man that some democrats say helped Mr. Trump land in the White House. You're live in the CNN newsroom.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: President Trump is kicking off his first full week in office without a full cabinet behind him. So far, only two of the president's picks have been confirmed. You see that General Mattis and General Kelly. Tomorrow the senate is expected to vote on the president's pick for CIA Director Mike Pompeo who is said that he would consider bringing waterboarding back. And the White House has accused democrats of stalling confirmations. Here's the response from Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: That's ridiculous. Number one, we have never had a CIA Director confirmed on the first day. Number two, they were very capable people watching over the CIA and in fact, I told Vice President on Wednesday I said, look we need to have some debate on Pompeo. Why don't you ask Brennan to stay, he was willing to, they refused. And third and most important, Pompeo is going to have huge, huge power. And there are issues that have been very vexing to the congress.
I would say to all of my republican colleagues that instead of spending their time on this issue, why don't they talk about what the president did at the CIA standing on sacred ground. In front of the names of many who have given their lives for this country. He talks about, you know, how many people showed up at his inauguration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Joining me now, Kimberly Dozier, CNN Global Affairs Analyst and Senior National Correspondent for The Daily Beast and Political Analyst Josh Rogin, Political Commentator Alice Stewart is back with me as well as Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute. And the author of the End of White Christian America. Nice to have you all. Thank you for being here. Kim, let me begin with you, what do you make of what Chuck Schumer said there?
I mean, You're so well-sourced within the intelligence community, what did they make of the president's visit yesterday to the CIA and his focus on talking about his fight with the media there and the size of the crowds of the inauguration?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, SENIOR SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY REPORT: You know, every good intelligence officer studies their adversary or someone that they might have to win over. They've been studying him for some time. He went to the CIA headquarters and did part what have he needed to do. He said, I love you guys, but he also did exactly what he's done on the campaign trail, he didn't apologize, he blamed the alleged feud on the media as opposed to saying, yes, I know last week I called you guys Nazis, I didn't mean that.
And so, they're watching this and I think that they're saying this is something we can work with. They've got it professional in Pompeo that I've heard insiders really like, but someone who's ego they can flatter, that is something they know how to work with.
HARLOW: They think he's malleable.
DOZIER: I'm not trying to say that the CIA knows how to manipulate people, but our tax dollars at work.
HARLOW: Alice to you. So, when you look at -- Mike Pompeo is going to get confirmed, right? But there are questions and some concerns about him. For two reasons, he's given sort of two different answers when it comes to enhanced interrogation or torture and also he's written about this gathering metadata and the wording he used was that, you know, congress should pass a law, reestablishing the collection of metadata, talked about focusing on financial information and lifestyle information and talked about putting it into a searchable database. Database sets off alarm bells. People get concerns -- some love it, some hate it, and some get concerned and say, what do you mean? is that a Muslim registry. What do you mean? Republicans know he wasn't going to just sail through.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think all of them expected some pushback from democrats. Even though we know that they are all going to ultimately receive the support from the republicans, and they have a majority and they will get through. I think with Pompeo, he has been great and he is in line with Trump on many issues. He has a great record within the military and the -- and the legal role. And he has made it quite clear he's going to be a great advocate for the agency he serves and he will be a good conduit between the administration and them. With regard to waterboarding, I think the fact that Trump was so adamant throughout on the enhanced interrogation throughout the campaign, clearly when he had conversations with Mattis, he has dialed that back a little bit.
HARLOW: Said it doesn't work.
STEWART: Dial that back, and so it will be -- that will be one interesting issue to keep an eye on is enhanced interrogation because as adamant as Trump was, we're seeing conflicting opinions on how to deal with that. But that is -- I think what we're going to see, different opinions to the table and ultimately Donald Trump will be the one to make the decision.
HARLOW: Robby, you have an interesting take on this, you say that Trump has made the mistake of treating his electoral victory as a hostile corporate takeover, what do you mean?
ROBERT P. JONES, CEP AND FOUNDER, PUBLIC RELIGION RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Well, you know, I think we've seen a lot about people saying that Trump still campaigning, right? In political terms. But what it looks like to me is that this is a hostile corporate takeover, right? So, what do you do then? You fire members of the board that don't agree with you, you fire the senior management and you tell all the employees, look, if you don't like it, tough, go find job somewhere else.
HARLOW: He sees it as a mandate. He think -- he sees it as a mandate. And he won the electoral college.
JONES: That's right. But here's the thing, all right? He lost the popular vote and he had --
HARLOW: OK. But that's just not how our system works.
JONES: I know. No, no, no. But I'm saying that he's got to be president of all of those people who did not vote for him and for the half a million people who marched passed, you know, Pennsylvania Avenue on the Washington, D.C. And I think that's the real missed opportunity. HARLOW: OK. But let me push back now. What is different that --
from what we've seen from this president from President Obama and those people who didn't support him and all of the executive orders that he signed bypassing congress?
JONES: Yes. Well, you know, there is some of this, you know, going on, here's the thing, the inauguration is a moment, it's ritual, right? It's a moment to tell a story about the American people that everybody can find a place in. So, go back to the -- kind of last time we had a president that lost the popular vote and won the electoral college, George W. Bush. The opening lines of his inaugural address, I was kind of -- going back, he said, you know, he said this, we have a place, all of us in a long story. A story we continue that whose end we do not see. The grand (INAUDBLE) ideals is unfolding American promise that everyone belongs. Right? And we just have not heard that kind of performance.
HARLOW: And he did say -- he did said we all bleed the same blood, but I hear you on that. I just think the way the media has read the inaugural address is much different than what folks have heard from some of the people down there. I've got to get to another question, Alice, so -- and that is we want to talk about this moment. Sort of a striking moment, let's look at it between James Comey, the FBI Director and the president today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: He's become more famous than me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: If you didn't catch that, that was president Trump saying James Comey has become more famous than him, perhaps not for great reasons. Some would say he's embroiled in this controversy over the -- what he said about Hillary Clinton's e-mails and the investigation there. You know, this is someone that Josh, many democrats believe played somewhat of a role in getting Hillary Clinton elected. Many would take issue that argument as well. But this is also someone who was pressed just a week or so ago in congress about whether or not he is indeed investigating any ties between Donald Trump and Russia.
JOSH ROGIN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: And he is investigating those ties along with four other agencies.
HARLOW: Well, you know what he said. You know what he said to Angus King.
ROGIN: What did he say again?
HARLOW: Well, no, he said I can neither confirm nor deny.
ROGIN: Right, but he talked forever and ever about Hillary Clinton's investigation. But anyway, putting it back to one side, we've seen him come full circle of Comey, he was a villain when he didn't charge Hillary and he was a hero when he sent the letter announcing the investigation was back on, now he's a hero, you know, this is a clear signal from Donald Trump that he wants Comey to stay and he's embracing him, he's hugging him.
A lot of people around town don't think that Comey has the confidence of the intelligence community, of the congress, especially democrats, to continue in in his role. OK? And he's got this long term, but he doesn't have to keep it. And Donald Trump is literally embracing him, it's like, OK, you just --
HARLOW: But if Donald Trump -- OK. But Kim, if Donald Trump were to fire James Comey essentially, would -- wouldn't many look at it and say well it's because he's arguably investigating Trump's ties to Russia?
DOZIER: I think that he would wait at least six months before doing something like that. And I think it would also be more -- he would let Comey know that it was time to submit his resignation. Something like that would play out. But yes, even as much as we've seen this administration already attack the media. They know that letting Comey go this early in the game while we know there's this investigation going on into communications between Trump campaign team members and Russia. That's not going to fly.
ROGIN: And it's a double-edged sword, this is important because if democrats get rid of Comey, Trump appoints that record and they're a worse position than they are now.
HARLOW: Right. Guys, thank you very much. We appreciate it, Josh, Kimberly, Alice, and Robby. Still to come here for us here. Very dangerous storms wreaking havoc mask across the southeast. The worse though, still maybe to come, we're going to take you to Southern Georgia, where a neighborhood was literally decimated. Wiped off the map. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.
HARLOW: At least 14 people are dead tonight in Central and Southern Georgia. Killed when a line of severe storms hit the state earlier today. Our Polo Sandoval is in Adele, Georgia, that is where a Mobile Park Home was nearly wiped off the map. And he has the latest, Polo?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities have not been able to complete the search and recovery efforts yet because of that ongoing threat for severe weather. So as a result, what is perhaps the hardest hit neighborhood, you may be able to make out behind me remains closed off. Because of the darkness, because of the distance, may not be able to see too much. So, take a look at some of the pictures that have been shot in and around the region.
You can see that he widespread devastation. The Sunshine Acres Neighborhood, a mobile home park according to authorities is where at least seven people lost their lives. The owner and the manager of that property posting a statement online for his residents saying quote, "It is with deep sorrow that I write this, with the majority of Sunshine Acres is no more. Due to a tornado, the majority of Sunshine Acres was destroyed. Most everyone is OK. There are -- there are still some missing."
The manager referring to what are at least five people that are still unaccounted for. So there is concern that the death toll could rise and now we are hearing some of those remarkable stories of survival, including a 24-year-old husband and father that I spoke to here who says after he rode out the storm, he then joined rescue efforts and helped rescue at least three children from the rubble. Polo Sandoval, CNN, Adele Georgia.
HARLOW: Wow. Polo, thank you so much for that reporting. We'll keep you posted on these storms because they are not over.
Coming up for us. It is the phone call that many have been waiting for. President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to talk in the coming days. What will be at the top of the agenda? A report from Moscow is next.
HARLOW: Welcome back. President Trump's calendar is quickly filling up with meetings with fellow world leaders. The president spoke by phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inviting him to the White House next month. Later this week, he'll meet with British Prime -- British Prime Minister Theresa May and meeting with the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is set for the following week.
Also on the schedule, a highly anticipated phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A spokesman for the Kremlin saying the conversation will be, "A diplomatic necessity." Our Clarissa Ward is in Moscow tonight and has more on the significance of this conversation.
CLARISSSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of anticipation now as to when this phone call will take place between President Putin and President Trump. The Kremlin spokesperson has indicated it could take place any time in the coming days that President Putin will likely President Trump to congratulate him. And then the question becomes, what will the two world leaders be discussing?
Well, one issue, a potential cooperation that President Trump has suggested in the past is that the two world leaders could work together on trying to deal with the problem of terrorism and of ISIS specifically. But there are certainly some major sticking points between the U.S. and Russia. Some really thorny issues. I'm thinking specifically of Russian aggression in Ukraine and also in Syria. And of course, for the Russian part, there's a lot of resentment about U.S. sanctions against Russia which have certainly hobbled the Russian economy.
And actually today we heard from the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who said don't expect those sanctions to be rolled back any time soon. He went on to say that Russia cannot rely on the emergence of a new world leader to fulfill that kind of a promise. And I do think you're hearing that tone of caution being echoed in the Kremlin's response as well to the election of President Donald Trump. We heard Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin Spokesperson say yes, President Trump and President Putin will meet but it will likely be in the coming months and not the coming weeks. So there is obviously a degree of caution optimism but I would say with the emphasizing the word cautious. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Moscow.
HARLOW: Clarissa in Moscow for us tonight. Thank you very much. Coming up, the inauguration of President Trump watched by millions around the world, and of course also watched by the producers and the writers at Saturday Night Live.
BECK BENNETT, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE STAR: Relax. I got this. Putin is going to make everything OK? I promise we will take care of America. It's the most expensive thing we've ever bought.
HARLOW: Rise up, Atlanta. Your Atlanta Falcons are on their way to the Super Bowl. We'll get to the Patriots in a moment. But the Falcons crushed the Green Bay Packers, 44-21 tonight. Do you think the Falcon's owner Arthur Blank is excited? Look at him shaking. This will only be the Falcon's second trip to the big game. The victory earned Coach Dan Quinn gator a bath, there was confetti for the home crowd and a trophy for the owner Arthur Blank for his winning the NFC.
Now the Falcons will face-off with the team that has been to the Super Bowl more than any other, the New England Patriots beats the Pittsburg Steelers to advance to a record ninth Super Bowl. Tom Brady and company looking for their fifth championship for the big dance. The Super Bowl, two weeks from tonight in Houston.
All right. You knew it was coming, right? You knew it. You turned on Saturday Night Live and saw it, the inauguration, plenty of fodder for the write jurors and producers there, and a lot of viewers were surprised that Alec Baldwin was not there to reprise his role as President Trump especially since he had pledged to appear on the post- inauguration episode but that did not stop SNL from having a little bit of fun with a different president on the job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, a paid message from the Russian Federation.
BENNETT: Hello, America. Yesterday we all made Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States. Hurray. We did it. And today many of you are scared and marching in the streets, you re worried that your country is in the hands of this unpredictable man. But worry, it's not. Relax, I got this. Putin is going to make everything OK, huh? I promise we will take care of America. It's the most expensive thing we ever bought.
Now I know many of you Americans are skeptical of President Trump, many Russians were skeptical of me today (INAUDBLE) but today nobody ever seems to hear from any of them. It's like they're gone. Donald, let's start as friends. You're not up to a great start, man, I thought you would be better at this, however I am glad to see so many people showed up to your inauguration, oh, wait, that's the woman's watch. Here is the inauguration. And today you went to the CIA and said one million people came to see you on in Washington, D.C. If you're going to lie, don't make it so obvious.
HARLOW: Good evening. It is 11:00 on the east coast. I'm Poppy Harlow joining you live tonight from the nation's capital where there have been major developments on the second full day of Donald Trump's presidency. New tonight, we have learned that the President --