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Trump Signs Executive Orders this Hour; Trump Meets with Business Leaders; First Trump Press Briefing ahead this Afternoon; Trump Administration Rails against Media. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 23, 2017 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:45] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me. Just minutes from now, President Trump, delivers on one of his key campaign promises striking trade deals he doesn't like. The new president, hosting business leaders and speaking just moments ago on a key action he's about to take, signing an Executive Order that will formally withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP. In off-the- cuff remarks, Mr. Trump says it is the first step in overhauling America's trade policies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On trade, there will be advantages to companies that do indeed make their products here. We are going to be cutting taxes massively for both the middle class and for companies. And that's massively. We're trying to get it down to anywhere from 15 to 20 percent.


COSTELLO: All right. He said a lot more than that. Of course, we're covering all the angles of this. But I want to begin with CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. So, tell us what else Mr. Trump said this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This was really his mission statement to all those people who voted for him who feel as though, the globalization the past 30 years has left them behind. You heard in his inaugural address, he said we are going to buy American. We are going to hire American. And now with these big companies in the room, he said, this is how we are going to do it. We're going to make things in America again. We're going to make our products here.

And there will be advantages, as you just heard him say, to companies who make them here. We're going to cut your taxes. We're going to slash regulations, by up to -- he said, in some cases, 75 percent. And that will make it good for you and good for America to make things here again. And he threatened a big border tax to those companies, those big American companies that put a plant in another country and then ship the goods back to the United States. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you go to another country and you decide that you're going to close and get rid of 2,000 people or 5,000 people, I tell you, United Technologies was an example, with Carrier. And I got involved, you know, two years after they announced. So, in all fairness, that was tough. But United Technologies was terrific. And they brought back many of those jobs. But if that happens, we are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in, which I think is fair, which is fair.


ROMANS: He's telling the business community, look, you will build more things in this country, you will hire more workers in this country, and I will make sure that -- there are changes in the tax code and the regulatory environment that will help you continue to make money.

Carol he also singled out Japan, interestingly, here. He singled out Japan and said that it's too easy for the United States to sell -- to buy goods from Japan and not sell to Japan. Very quickly, a lot of people in the business world noted that Japan hires people. Japanese companies like Toyota, have employees here in this country. -

COSTELLO: They build factories here too. --

ROMANS: They do build things in this country too. So, it's a little more complicated than just a foreign company and a foreign market. There are some overlaps that are pretty interesting here.

COSTELLO: And just so people know who was in that meeting with Mr. Trump this morning. The CEOs from Ford, from Dow Chemical, from Dell, from Lockheed Martin, from U.S. Steel, so, these were big players.

ROMANS: These are big players.

COSTELLO: And you're going to stick around and tell - because you know, somebody's got to pay for those cuts in regulations and tax breaks for companies.

ROMANS: The tax breaks in particular, we'll have to talk a little bit more about how you pay for big tax cuts for companies.

COSTELLO: OK. So, before we get into all of that, where can't wait because this is a very interesting conversation and it does affect our economy. Let's get to CNN's Athena Jones because Mr. Trump has more on his plate today. Hi, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. That's right. He has a lot more on his plate. Right after this meeting, he's set to sign some more Executive Orders. We've learned the first Executive Order he's going to be signing today, will withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. That 12 nation trade deal that was so important to the Obama administration but that Trump ran on pulling out of. So, that is the first Executive Order we're expecting to sign. He's also expected to sign an order reinstating the so-called Mexico City policy, that's a rule on abortion that former President Barack Obama got rid of. That rule means that any NGO that receives federal funds is not allowed to perform or promote abortion services. Another Executive Order we expect him to sign this morning, a five-year lobbying ban for anyone who works in the administration. This is something that President Trump talked about doing in his first 100 days.

[10:05:03] So, several of these first actions he's been taking are designed to show that he's keeping his promises to the people who put him into office. Now, later tonight, he's going to meet with Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle. Perhaps he'll begin talking about some of these warnings and promises he's making right now to these business leaders, because Congress is going to have a say on whether they're going to impose a border tax and the tax cuts and the like.

And then, later on or later on today, we also expect to hear from Press Secretary Sean Spicer. He'll have his first press briefing for the first time here in the Brady Press Briefing Room here in the White House. Carol?

COSTELLO: All right, Athena Jones reporting live from the White House. Thank you so much. So, we want to bring back to Christine. Also with me, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein and "The Daily Beast" and "Roll Call" columnist, Patricia Murphy is also here.

OK. Christine, I want to go back to you for just a second because Mr. Trump, President Trump said this morning that he plans to cut 75 percent of regulations, right? He said that he'll provide massive tax breaks to companies if they build factories within the United States. And he also said that if companies move their factories to other countries, he will fine them, in essence, by imposing tariffs on their products. So, in the end, when all is said and done, if all of that is accomplished and that's a big "if," right, what will that mean to American taxpayers?

ROMANS: Well, there's two ways, there's American consumers and American taxpayers. -- On the first point, I think that a lot of people are concerned there could be higher prices for American consumers, especially if you get into a situation where different countries are slapping 35 percent tariffs on different goods. That's one thing. The other part of it is in this discussion about tax reform, if you take the companies' share of what they put into the National Treasury, if you cut that dramatically, who fills that in?

You know, where does that money come from? Now, I think what you would hear from the president's team is that they're going to grow the economy so much, we're going to have so many new workers who will be paying taxes on their own earnings. That this is going to be a stimulative, it's going to be growth. We're not going to have to worry too much about the tax shortfall.

But you know that there are people on the House Ways and Means Committee. You know, Paul Ryan who is a - you know, a budget hawk. There has to be a lot of discussions about how you pay for dramatically cutting taxes for American businesses.

COSTELLO: Exactly. So, in the last hour, Patricia, I talked to Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's from Illinois. He said some of these ideas that Trump has, could take two years to accomplish. And Republicans aren't -- you know, they aren't --they're excited about many of his proposals, but there are certain proposals they're not so into.

PATRICIA MURPHY, COLUMNIST "THE DAILY BEAST" AND "ROLL CALL": Yes. And I think that that is going to be the really important dynamic going forward, is how much can Donald Trump do on his own and how much does he need Congress, even Republican leaders in Congress who may not be entirely on board with a lot of these promises that he's making. It was so interesting to hear what he said to these business leaders. We're going to cut taxes. We're going to cut regulations. Republican leaders will love that.

And then, he said, we're going to have these jobs in the country. We're going to slap tariffs on anything that isn't made in this country. Then you're really running into big problems with the Republican leadership. So, how is he going to thread that needle? It's very unclear. We know what he wants to do but I think he'll find out very quickly there's very little that he can do on some of these things without having Congress to support him and to pass these laws.

COSTELLO: So, Ron, you know, I grew up in the Rust Belt and I can hear the people who live in my old neighborhoods rejoicing and saying, it is about time, somebody stood up to these companies and said, you know what, build your darn factories in America, buy America. We've been preaching that for a long time, and finally we have a president who will do that. On the other hand, you can't cut taxes for everyone including big business, right, because there is a price to pay, you've got to make up those tax dollars.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR EDITOR "THE ATLANTIC": You know, I think that is the core political kind of positioning gamble that Donald Trump represents. I mean, on the one hand, he is pursuing the most pro-corporate agenda since Ronald Reagan, an administration I covered. Talking about massively rolling back regulation, massively -- cutting taxes for businesses and for individuals. And the way that gives is probably increasing the federal deficit substantially.

But on the other hand, there is this pit in the cherry for the business community, which is that he is going to hector them individually and potentially impose a significant tariff on anyone who moves jobs overseas. That I think is going to be very popular political positioning for him with his core vote of these particularly blue collar workers who feel that they've been hurt by globalization.

Underscoring Christine's point from before, you know, Donald Trump was elected by people who felt that they are being left behind in a changing economy. Hillary Clinton won only 500 of the 3100 counties in America. But the county she won account for two-thirds of all the economic output in the country. The people who feel as though the way the economy is evolving is working, by and large rejected Trump in those communities. He did best in the places that feel left behind. And this is a message that, I think, will underscore and widen that divide.

[10:10:00] COSTELLO: That's an interesting point, such an interesting point, Christine. Even if you look at the companies who were involved today, right? They're not exactly doing poorly in this economy. They're making lots and lots of money.

ROMANS: This economy is doing well, you know. And one of the big concerns is, you know, when companies do really well, do they build factories here, sometimes. Do they give shareholders more money in terms of buybacks-- stock buybacks and dividends, usually, you know?

So, no one has ever, in my career covering business, no leader has ever stood up and said this isn't fair. This isn't fair that you think of American workers as, you know, units of labor and not as citizens. And Donald Trump, honestly, is the first person I've heard stand up -- politicians stand up there with those big companies and say, I'm threatening you. I'm threatening you that if you don't start thinking of people as people and not units of labor, then I'm going to make things more difficult for you.

COSTELLO: OK. So, here is a fear that I have, being from that part of the country, Patricia. OK, so let's say, I don't know, some company decides to build more factories in the United States. But what if they decide to maybe, you know, automate that company and not hire actual bodies to work in the factories. What happens then? They're business people, right? They're capitalists. They want to make money.

MURPHY: They're also going to have to understand or have a plan for what they're going to do if Donald Trump lashes out against them. I've talked to a number of business leaders who have said, this is just an entirely different dynamic, not only does Donald Trump have an agenda that really upsets the apple cart, in a way, it's just so outside the norm of what any typical Republican or Democrat would do. But then, what happens to that individual business if you get on Donald's radar for not doing what he wants.

I think, politically, this could really work for Donald Trump. For those people he promised in his inauguration you will never be forgotten again. This is him sending that signal that I have not forgotten about you. This is I am with you, the ultimate test, that will be the results. Does it make these people's lives better? That will start to become clear a couple of years from now. But right now, the supporters who put them there. This is what they want him to be saying.

COSTELLO: And the other thing, Republicans in Congress, Ron, they don't like big budget deficits, right? --

BROWNSTEIN: Well, they've been willing to accept them for tax cuts in the past. I mean, you know, the fact is under George W. Bush, Republicans - you know, we were heading towards surpluses. And Alan Greenspan was worrying that we might pay down the federal debt too fast, and they undertook major tax cuts under Bush.

Look, I think that the broader question really is, is what Patricia was talking about, if a Democratic president was politicizing individual investment decisions of companies and attacking them each time they made a decision to invest somewhere else in the U.S., you would have Republican leaders in Congress and for that matter the U.S. Chamber of Commerce exploding. But they are -- right now, they are willing to accept this as the price of getting so much else of what they want, which are the tax cuts and the rollback of federal regulations. It's unclear whether they will accept that forever.

And there's one other point about it, not only could these tariffs mean higher prices for consumers, but you know we now have, as Christine knows, a global supply chain. We have products that move back and forth across borders all of the time. And if you impose a 35 percent tariff on every part of a car that is coming in from Mexico or somewhere else, it is not clear whether the final assembly of that car will still be economically feasible in the U.S.

So, it's really unclear how this works out in practice. But I agree, it is very powerful political positioning and one that would be, I think, very hard for a Democrat to get away with because you'll be having much bigger push back from the business community than you're likely to get under Donald Trump.

COSTELLO: All right. I have to leave it there, Ron Brownstein, Patricia Murphy, Christine Romans thanks to all of you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Sean Spicer, take two. The first official Trump administration press briefing is just a couple of hours from now. Will we hear the term "alternative facts"?


[10:17:36] COSTELLO: President Trump's inner circle is likely to take a bit more shape today, his nominee to leave the CIA. Congressman Mike Pompeo faces a full Senate confirmation vote today. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is covering that for us from Capitol Hill. Good morning.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol. Yes, it's very likely that by the end of the day today, we will see President Trump have three of his cabinet nominees now in place and confirmed. Movement here into the Senate - vote later today on Mike Pompeo -- to head the Intel Community. And that vote was delayed a little bit by Democrats over the last few days. But tonight, he is expected to pass through.

Also, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today taking up a vote on Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, perhaps the most controversial nominee that Donald Trump has chosen. All eyes in that committee, on Senator Marco Rubio, Republican, who has not revealed how he will vote yet on Rex Tillerson. But regardless of how he comes down in the end, Republican leaders have already said that they will bring Tillerson before a full committee vote. You've seen some procedural moves at their disposal. And we already know that Senator John McCain over the weekend and Senator Lindsey Graham, two key Republicans, say that they will support Tillerson. So, this likely paves the way, Carol, for him to eventually be confirmed. Carol?

COSTELLO: All right, Sunlen Serfaty reporting live from Capitol Hill this morning. Thank you.

This afternoon, the White House will hold its first official briefing with questions from reporters. Sean Spicer will take to the podium again. And yes, you heard it, he will answer to the reporters, as I've said, this, after a weekend of controversy behind the new administration's "alternative facts."


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: 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 that it goes two ways.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Sean Spicer, our press secretary gave alternative facts.

SPICER: And there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president. And we are not going to sit around and let it happen.


COSTELLO: So, let's talk about this and more. With me now is the former Deputy White House Press Secretary to President Bush, and a partner with HDMK and a former spokesman for Kasich for America, Trent Duffy. Welcome, sir.


COSTELLO: I wanted to get your title right. Glad to have you here. So, Sean Spicer's very first press briefing. I just want to get your thoughts.

[10:20:03] DUFFY: Well, I think it's going to be exciting. It's always this kind of Kabuki dance here between the White House and the White House press corps. And they're both trying to feel each other out. You have to remember, Carol, that many of the reporters that are now going to cover the White House, covered the Trump campaign. So, there is a little bit of a relationship there. And I think what you're seeing is the Trump campaign and the Trump administration, the Trump White House, has felt stunned by the National Press corps. Not all, as the president have said himself.

But things like this unsubstantiated dossier, which another name could be called a pack of lies, and this notion that the president removed the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office which got out there. That's why I think you see that the White House and Sean Spicer and others are really sort of on edge, and that's why they're sending this message that it is a two-way street. Yes, the White House press corps -- does have the responsibility.

COSTELLO: It is a two-way street. -

DUFFY: Yes, absolutely.

COSTELLO: It is a two-way street. But we do expect our president, our President of the United States, to tell us the truth, and not to get into petty arguments over crowd size.

DUFFY: Well, that's true. And they're going to have to decide what they choose to make issues and what they don't. I think you're seeing this morning, Carol, that he's meeting with business people. He's getting back on his positive agenda. So, I think what you're seeing there is they're trying to move past this. You're right. It was kind of a petty, silly argument. I mean, you can't judge support for a president by who turns up at the inauguration. We just heard in your previous segment that most low-income Americans supported Donald Trump. They're not going to get on a plane from Wisconsin, to you know, plunk down $3,000 to come. -


COSTELLO: Right. They can't afford it.

DUFFY: That's right. They can't. We're from the Rust Belt, I'm from Ohio.

COSTELLO: And Kellyanne Conway comes up with this "alternative facts" thing, and you're thinking, what?

DUFFY: Right. - I think, it's you know, it's kind of a side show. And that's you know, bound to happen. I think you're going to see more of a reset today. And the White House press corps loves nothing more than to catch White House spokespeople having to eat their words. And likewise, the White House press staffs, from the White House itself likes to catch the press posting -- and putting out information that is factually inaccurate. - It happened with Bush --


COSTELLO: But here's the thing, -- we'll go back to the MLK bust, right?

DUFFY: Sure.

COSTELLO: That was corrected by the media. That was a mistake by the media. It was fair to call us out on that but it was corrected, right?

DUFFY: Right.

COSTELLO: And as far as this dossier, you know, that the intelligence officials put together. We at CNN, tried to do that very responsibly, and I believe that we did and we explained our reasons for it.

DUFFY: I understood all of that.

COSTELLO: So, when you have -- when you have the press - or the president's spokesperson come out and just say, you know, even though we can see it with our own eyes and we have official figures from, you know, Metro and Washington D.C. and crowd scientists who determine how many people show up, all of those people are still lying and we're going to give you an alternative fact. That's disturbing, isn't it?

DUFFY: Well, look, I think you're going to see him address that firsthand today in his opening statement and try to put it past him. And if he decides to do a mea culpa, then that's up to him, and that's up to -- his White House and his bosses. But I do think that everybody has an obligation to tell the American people what's what and to agree on the facts. I don't disagree with you at all, Carol.

I just think that there's a reason why you see the defensive posture of this White House when it comes to the White House press corps. And that Carol, frankly, that's happened on both sides, whether it's a Democrat in the White House or a Republican. It's a fairly competitive nature between the White House press corps and the White House itself. That's always been the case. And I think that's a healthy part of our democracy.

COSTELLO: OK. You're right. It is healthy. It's healthy to have that -- I don't know if I can call it contentious, but you want to push back and you want the administration to push back too because that provides a healthy discussion, a healthy argument. It just has to stay healthy and not devolve into something unhealthy for the nation, -- because the nation really does have to trust what the President of the United States says.

DUFFY: Well, I think that's right. And in past administrations, you had things like you know, "that statement is no longer operative" with the Clinton/Gore administration. You had some other - you know, it's happened on both sides. And it will continue to happen. But I think you're going to start a new fresh foot today with Sean Spicer being at the White House podium. And I think, they've all decided to move past this and get back to their agenda, which is more jobs, more economic growth and a brighter future for the U.S.

COSTELLO: Trent Duffy, thank you so much for being with me this morning. And again, that Sean Spicer press briefing will happen 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time and of course, we'll carry it on CNN.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, signed, sealed, and President Trump about to deliver more Executive Orders. We'll bring that to you when it happens.


[10:29:15] COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me. Say so long to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Any moment now, President Trump is expected to sign several Executive Orders. One of them, unraveling a massive trade deals between the United States and 11 other countries. Trump says it is the first step on overhauling America's trade policies.

Sources tell us, he'll also sign an Executive Order imposing a five- year lobbying ban on members of his administration and he's expected to reinstate the Mexico City abortion law that's a ban on non- governmental agencies receiving federal funding if they perform or promote abortions. Our congressional correspondent Manu Raju has been working his sources on Capitol Hill. Senator Marco Rubio may have thrown a wrench into the confirmation of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State but you have new word on that, Manu. What is it?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, no more wrench in Tillerson's confirmation process. He's going to get confirmed as Secretary of State. Republicans, including Marco Rubio, now saying that they will support Rex Tillerson's nomination for --