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NEW DAY

White House Defends Trump's Lie about Voter Fraud; Trump to Issue Orders on Border Wall & Immigration; Democrats Grill President Trump's Nominees. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: I think we've heard in the last few days about alternative facts, these sorts of things again.

[07:00:09] What is central for the American people is to get objective information where you have some evidence with respect to your view. I mean, that's what we did yesterday when we were questioning Congressman Price. We kept hearing all through the campaign people were going to get better care. We couldn't get a commitment from him, a specific commitment to make sure that working families wouldn't be worse off.

So when the president makes these kind of claims, I think there ought to be some backup.

CAMEROTA: Should Congress investigate these claims of illegal voting?

WYDEN: What Congress ought to do now is look at moving forward constructively. The best way to do it, as I've suggested, is to pick up on Oregon's idea.

Let's make sure that every American gets a ballot in the mail, that there's a paper trail to ensure integrity and also helps election systems and might be concerned about hacking. That's a way to go forward in a constructive way.

CAMEROTA: Senator, can you tell us a little bit about the proposal that you've put forward for every president -- President Trump and thereafter -- to have to present their taxes to the American public?

WYDEN: In this election season, we saw a break from a 40-year tradition. Every Democrat and every Republican who sought the presidency disclosed their taxes. In effect, that closure was almost the lowest ethical bar that we expected a president to clear, and this president was unwilling to do it.

So on Sunday we had a very significant development when one of the presidents leading staffers said the president had no intention whatever to disclose his taxes. We began to mobilize and we reached out to the ground troops with a White House petition on it and by Monday they had changed.

My proposal is very straightforward. The candidates, shortly after a convention disclosed their taxes, and if they're not doing that you essentially go to the Treasury Department and arrange to make sure that they're disclosed. Senator Chris Murphy and I have led an effort to make sure that that would apply to presidents, as well. I think we've certainly got a boost this week.

CAMEROTA: Senator Ron Wyden, thank you for taking all the time for NEW DAY.

WYDEN: Thank you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you to our international viewers for watching. CNN NEWS ROOM will begin in just moments. For our U.S. viewers NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Trump is making good on a number of his campaign promises.

CAMEROTA: The president will announce an executive action ordering the construction of the wall along the Mexican border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still don't know how he intends to get Mexico to pay for it.

REP. TOM PRICE (R-GA), HHS SECRETARY NOMINEE: Everything I did was ethical and legal and transparent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I've been asked to be a character witness in a felony trial.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Mr. Trump's delusionary statement that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, that is a total nonsensical statement.

SPICER: The president does believe that. He has stated that before.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president ought to realize he's president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. In just hours the president will announce executive action ordering the construction of a wall along the Mexican border. No mention of Mexico paying for it, which was always part and parcel of this promise until President Trump got elected.

CAMEROTA: President Trump also plans to make sweeping changes to immigration policy limiting the number of refugees coming into the U.S., imposing a ban on travel from so-called terror prone countries and punishing so-called sanctuary cities. We are now on day six of the Trump administration, and we have it all covered for you.

Let's begin with Athena Jones. She's live at the White House. Good morning, Athena. ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

The White House is looking at this as another day, another promise kept. The president hinting at his big plans late last night, telling his 22 million Twitter followers, "We will build the wall."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: We are going to build a great border wall.

JONES (voice-over): President Trump set to take his first steps in executing his signature campaign promise. In just hours, the president will sign an executive order to begin the construction of a wall along the Mexico border.

TRUMP: We are going to build the wall, OK? Don't even think about it.

JONES: The order would direct federal funds toward building the wall. But we still don't know how he intends to get Mexico to pay for it.

The president also expected to announce a second executive order on Thursday, seeking to eliminate so-called sanctuary cities and restrict visas from, quote, "terror-prone countries" and the flow of refugees entering the U.S.

[07:05:11] TRUMP: Twenty-eight thousand jobs. Great construction jobs.

JONES: The orders follow a blitz of executive actions in the president's first week.

TRUMP: I am, to a large extent (ph), an environmentalist.

JONES: Tuesday, Mr. Trump signed orders to revive construction of two controversial pipeline projects, but President Trump's policies continue to be overshadowed by his conspiracy theories. The White House defending his unfounded claim that millions of illegal ballots cost him the popular vote.

SPICER: He continues to maintain that belief, based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.

JONES: Numerous independent studies refute his claims. The media continues to demand proof of the president's assertions.

SPICER: He believes what he believes based on the information he's provided. Yes, ma'am?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What does that mean for democracy, though? If he does believe that, what does that mean for democracy?

SPICER: I've answered your question.

ZELENY: Have you? JONES: Republicans and Democrats unified in opposing the president's

baseless claims.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would urge the president to knock this off. This is the greatest democracy on earth. You're the leader of the free world, and people are going to start doubting you as a person.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Now the president heads to the Department of Homeland Security today to sign a first immigration action. Meanwhile, Mexico's foreign minister is here in the U.S., beginning preparations for the meeting on Tuesday between President Trump and the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Athena, thank you very much.

Well, Senate Democrats spent hours grilling the president's health secretary and budget nominees over ethics concerns. The Senate has confirmed four of Mr. Trump's nominees.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill with more. What do we expect, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn.

Likely a lot of fireworks next week. We know that Nikki Haley yesterday was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., meeting that President Trump now has four members of his cabinet firmly in place. But you have many of these nominees up here on Capitol Hill still waiting in the wings. The Democrats continue to battle over the pace of these nominations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): Tough questions on Capitol Hill for President Trump's pick for health secretary. Congressman Tom Price refusing to promise that no American will be worse off or lose healthcare if Obamacare provisions get rolled back.

WYDEN: Yes or no, under the executive order will you commit that no one will be worse off?

PRICE: What I commit to, Senator, is working with you and every single member of Congress to make certain that we have the highest quality health care and that every single American has access to affordable coverage.

SERFATY: Price deflecting when asked when the president will replace it.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: President Trump said he's working with you on a replacement plan for the ACA, which is nearly finished and will be revealed after your confirmation. Is that true? PRICE: It's true that he said that, yes.

SERFATY: And defending himself again against ethics concerns, about his investments in healthcare companies that could have benefitted from legislation he proposed during his time in the House.

PRICE: Everything that I did was ethical, above board, legal and transparent.

SERFATY: Republicans coming to Price's defense.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: I feel like I've been asked to be a character witness in a felony trial in the sentencing phase of a conviction. Tom is a good man. He's a family man. He's a physician. He's an honorable man.

SERFATY: Congressman Mick Mulvaney, President Trump's choice for budget director, also in the hot seat, admitting he failed to pay taxes on a babysitter for his triplets.

REP. MICK MULVANEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's a mistake. It's been made. I now know about it. How do we fix it?

SERFATY: And getting grilled by Senator John McCain for supporting cuts and defense spending and backing a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARKANSAS: The answer to that is withdraw all troops from Afghanistan? Congressman, that is crazy. Don't you know where 9/11 came from?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And some other nominees took some small steps yesterday toward confirmation. Elaine Chao, Ben Carson and Wilbur Ross all clearing their respective committees. They all three now face a full Senate vote. But there will be no more action up here on Capitol Hill on this this week. The full Senate, Republicans and Democrats, are heading out of town today for their annual party retreat, and the work, Chris, on these confirmations will restart on Monday.

CUOMO: Sunlen, thank you very much.

Let's bring in Congressman Chris Collins. He's the co-chair of the president's House leadership committee.

It's good to have you congressman.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Always good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: A bunch of issues to tick through.

COLLINS: Sure.

CUOMO: Let's start on the wall. You understand construction very well. Is this a redo of all the existing fence area right now? Is that going to be replaced with a wall, or is this going to be the follow through on that early legislation during Bush that Obama said was mostly completed, which wasn't true, and finishing this line of this huge steel fence?

COLLINS: Well, what he's going to do, obviously, is secure the border. And I believe he has clarified after he was sworn in and during the time he was president-elect. There could be portions of it that, you know, you might call a portion a fence, but a wall is a wall. Securing the borders is securing the borders. We're not going to have spots where they're going to be sneaking through and the like.

[07:10:20] So it's going to be a secure border, which is what he promised to do. He's going to get that done. Obviously, there's going to be different construction methods in different parts. We've got water. We've got different types of terrain. So I'm not going to get hung up in the least on exactly what the wall looks like, just that it is secure.

CUOMO: Well, it just matters from a cost perspective...

COLLINS: Oh, sure.

CUOMO: Because if you want to redo all those miles of fence with a wall, that's going to be much more expensive than just continuing what's already there and looking at options in what are now the open spots.

COLLINS: Well, I can assure everyone, as a private sector CEO, President Trump is not one to waste money at all. You've seen it with his new hiring freeze for federal workers. He's going to reduce the cost to the federal government. He's never going to throw money at a project that's not needed. He doesn't do it in construction of his own buildings. He builds great buildings, but he's not someone that's going to throw money away needlessly.

CUOMO: And also no mention of Mexico paying for the wall. We hear more and more all the time from his surrogates and GOP people. We don't know that Mexico's going to pay for the wall, we'll pay for it and that's all that matters right now. Do you agree?

COLLINS: Well, Donald Trump, President Trump, has said he's going to get Mexico to pay for it through negotiations. Of course we're building it. We've got to pay the cost. No different than a county putting in a bridge. They pay for it and then they turn around and get reimbursed from federal highway funds.

Mr. Trump, President Trump, has all the cards relative to negotiations with Mexico. Their economy depend on access to our U.S. consumers. The products they make are going into Walmart, going into other stores, as they are from China, and that is the negotiation that he can have with either China or Mexico, because without access to our markets, they don't have an economy.

CUOMO: All right, now we have some new information on a very important issue. The president, not that he wasn't listening to you, Congressman, but he tweeted about a different topic just moments ago where he said he is going to call for a major investigation into voter fraud.

The president, as you know, continues to insist that millions of people voted illegally, and that's why he lost the popular vote. There is zero proof of that type of scale of fraud. We know that the research that is cited by him, his people, and now even the press secretary, Sean Spicer, is erroneous, either doesn't go to the point or has been debunked. What do you make of his insistence?

COLLINS: Well, I -- I think it's always important to make sure we don't have illegal votes. We know we have them. We don't check I.D. when somebody comes to vote. We have states where, you know, illegal immigrants can get a license and then automatically be signed up to vote. We should have American citizens voting. We should know who's walking into the voting booth. And I would support anything we do to make sure that our elections are secure, that it's only citizens voting.

And if we do an investigation, and it sounds like we're going to, I'm all in support of that. Every state has different rules, but what we need to make sure is that folks voting are citizens that have the right to vote.

CUOMO: If I said to you that 95 percent of Congress is dirty and, therefore, we should investigate; and there's no basis for what I just said in terms of that scale of corruption or unethical behavior, you'd be OK with that, because it's always good to know for sure?

COLLINS: I don't think that's the same as the integrity of our elections, Chris. So I...

CUOMO: Well, I would say that integrity of our institutions is a straight line. The integrity of people like you matters as much as voting, matters as much as anything.

COLLINS: Oh, sure.

CUOMO: It's a continuum. What I'm saying is, he's got no basis in fact for this scale of fraud. You know that. You've never seen anything of any legitimacy that in any way suggests anything of that scale. Is that true or false?

COLLINS: Well, if we can tighten down and get...

CUOMO: It's not about tightening down, though, Congressman. Not to interrupt you. This is 3 to 5 million people that made a dispositive difference in his loss of the popular vote. Do you have a shred of proof of that suggestion?

COLLINS: No, I don't. That's his opinion, but I'll again say there are illegal votes cast, and if we can tighten down, we should do it.

CUOMO: I understand that, but that's not what the president's suggesting. And now he's saying he's going to have an investigation into something that only he believes. Does that worry you on any level? COLLINS: Well, the president has certain prerogatives; and when we -- when he says investigation, I don't know the scope of it. But, again, I'm all in favor of tightening down and getting the illegal voters out of our system, whether it's -- however many it is.

CUOMO: You're worried about defending something that is somewhat indefensible in something like this? So now my money, your money, is going to go to an investigation of something that we don't have a shred of proof. And what this opinion has been based on has been called out and debunked by the people who did the studies. And now we're going to waste our money taking a look at something because it bruised someone's ego? Is that what this is about?

COLLINS: Well, no, look at local elections. We have local election where two votes swing the mayor of a small town. We have local elections when 300 votes can determine whether...

CUOMO: True.

COLLINS: The mayor. So when we tighten down on getting rid of the illegal voters, yes, we have the presidency with 120 million votes, but we have on the local level, we have folks winning and losing by one vote...

CUOMO: True.

COLLINS: Five votes, eight votes.

CUOMO: True.

COLLINS: So let's make sure that the guy...

CUOMO: True.

COLLINS: People going to the polls, in fact, are citizens entitled to vote.

CUOMO: True. And the president has never mentioned anything like what you just said, the integrity down ballot. He's talking about his race and his popular return and what happened there. And this is not an open area of discussion where there's a great unknown. There have been studies out the wazoo about this, and they have looked at over a billion votes, Congressman. You know these studies. We've talked about them before on this show.

COLLINS: Sure.

CUOMO: Almost exhaustively, to be honest about it. And they found a handful of prosecutable cases and over a billion -- bless you -- only over a billion votes, a handful of prosecutable cases that had mixed determinations. This is a fool's errand, and is it something that we should tolerate?

COLLINS: Well, I'll, again, I'll look at the down ballot, because that's where I -- you know, I'm down ballot.

CUOMO: That's not what he's proposing.

COLLINS: Yes, but it's going to...

CUOMO: He's talking about himself and what happened in his race and legitimacy that only the president seems to be questioning.

COLLINS: Well, when -- when a -- when an illegal vote is cast for president, that illegal vote is also cast for a city councilman. So, I mean, the president's entitled to his opinion; and I'd like to get rid of all the illegal voters, and it does impact down ballot. And I guess that's my position.

CUOMO: Last point on it.

COLLINS: OK.

CUOMO: Is he entitled to his own facts? Everybody has their own opinion. I hear them all the time.

COLLINS: Right.

CUOMO: Some I like. Some I don't. But is he entitled to his own facts, because on this point he seems to have none?

COLLINS: Well, he's certainly entitled to his own opinion, and that's what he's expressing.

CUOMO: And the fact that there are no facts right now, you're OK with a congressional investigation into why President Trump lost the popular vote?

COLLINS: Well, people have provided him facts. This isn't something I'm focused on in the least. And I just would leave that with him.

CUOMO: OK. One last thing. We know that you've been in the crosshairs. There's a lot of ethical evaluations going on with Tom Price and his investment in a company that you're the majority shareholder on. And the pushback has been extreme. Tom Price has been very strong, as well.

There is no direct allegation of anything that was done for that specific company. I stipulate all those facts as you've laid them out as well, Congressman.

But here's the bigger question: Should someone who's doing the people's business have such profound business interests of their own, let alone in a sector that will be legislated?

COLLINS: Well, we -- we adhere to the requirements, the ethical requirements of Congress. We disclose our holdings in everything we own. If there is a chance for any kind of conflict, I know myself, we've called ethics. We've questioned whether we should cast a vote on a particular issue or whether we should recuse ourselves.

The ethics requirements are very clear. The personal financial disclosures, disclosing if we do purchase a stock. But we are, just like every American, we have 401(k)s, we have our own finances. We are allowed to purchase stocks. We have to disclose what they are. And that's open to public scrutiny. And when we're working on policy, if there is an area we should recuse ourselves from, we do so.

CUOMO: Congressman Collins, maybe it's about having a different standard, but we appreciate you making your case on all these issues, as always. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: All right. Very good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We have some more on breaking news. How do Democrats feel about President Trump ordering that investigation into his false claim that voter fraud cost him the popular vote? We'll ask former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:23:02] CAMEROTA: President Donald Trump tweeting moments ago that he will ask for a, quote, "major investigation into voter fraud." The president vowing to strengthen voting procedures.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. She's the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for being here.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Let me read for you -- I know you haven't had a chance to read it yet -- what President Trump just tweeted about voter fraud. He says, "I will be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal, and even those who registered to vote are dead, and many for a long time. Depending on results, will strengthen up voting procedures."

Is this an investigation that Congress should go along with?

SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, what's more frightening is that this is an investigation that the Department of Justice, the president can actually conduct without congressman's authority. I mean, the Department of Justice has the ability to launch investigations; and of course, we can always stop them from doing that. But that's quite unlikely.

I mean, what's the most disturbing about this is the president's intentions for lying; also known as alternate facts now. From the trivial, in terms of how many people showed up to watch his inauguration, to him perpetrating the lie that 3 to 5 million people fraudulently voted in his presidential election. I mean, anything that makes him look bad or doesn't make him look good is something that he is willing to just tell bald-faced lies.

CAMEROTA: How are dead people voting? SCHULTZ: You know, there's just no possible way that there is rampant

cases of dead people voting. I mean...

CAMEROTA: Or maybe even any case of a dead person voting.

SCHULTZ: Right. I mean for the simple fact that when you die, eventually you are purged from the registration.

CAMEROTA: OK, well, there it is. So what I think that what he's saying is that there are still names of people who are deceased on the voter registration polls. That is correct.

[07:25:06] SCHULTZ: Yes. There may be people who would recently have died that would still be registered to vote. I'm talking about, you know, a few months ago.

CAMEROTA: Right. But no evidence that those dead people actually could vote. That someone impersonating the person would vote.

SCHULTZ: No evidence. No evidence at all.

There would have to be massive fraud being perpetrated. Because remember, a live person has to go and either cast that vote, representing who they are. They wouldn't have I.D. that they are that person. There are actually very serious checks now on whether you are who you say you are when you show up at a voter registration, a voter poll.

And let's say you send in an absentee ballot instead. You have to have a signature that matches the person's signature on file. Otherwise, those votes are tossed out.

CAMEROTA: I mean, by the way, the -- there have been massive investigations, large-scale investigations into this. And one of the author's studies -- the study's authors has weighed in on this and says that Mr. Trump is misrepresenting their findings. Let me read it for you. This is David Becker on Twitter. He said yesterday, "As the primary author of the report the Trump camp cited today, I can confirm the report made no findings regarding voter fraud. We found millions of out-of-date registration records due to people moving or dying but no evidence that voter fraud resulted." So...

SCHULTZ: The same thing happened during the George W. Bush administration, when they also kept going to the idea that there was voter fraud and that they needed -- that's why they needed to clamp down -- clamp down on voter access. And we were so critical of them. Their own investigation in the George W. Bush administration came up with no -- no voter fraud.

CAMEROTA: OK. So the larger picture, the larger issue here is that, if the president of the United States believes that voting was tainted, then the outcome is illegitimate?

SCHULTZ: I keep getting asked this question over his legitimacy. He seems to be questioning the legitimacy of his own election, all while, you know, for the last couple of months touting how huge his election was and how historic it is. It can't be both.

Look, what is the most deeply disturbing about his penchant for lying is, if he's willing to lie about the trivial, like crowd size, or the significant, like voter fraud, then what happens when, God forbid, we go to war, you know, or -- and we've got our troops' lives on the line, and there are causalities? I mean, is he going to send Sean Spicer out and are we going to -- to lie about the causalities that have taken place? Are our allies going to be able to trust us?

How are we going to sit across the table and -- from other countries and negotiate when you have an administration that cannot be trusted, because they lie every day willingly?

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about the president's executive actions about immigration. He is passing a flurry of them in the next 48 hours. One question that is outstanding that people have asked. What is the future, as you understand it, for the so-called DREAMers, the children who are brought here to this country undocumented, through no choice of their own?

SCHULTZ: Well, I certainly hope that he is not going to, you know, cave into the extremists in his party and deport millions of young people who have been in this country their whole lives through no fault of their own, were brought here and have no criminal record. And are here, either going through college or serving in...

CAMEROTA: At the moment you believe that they're safe. I mean, there's been nothing that he has specified about them.

SCHULTZ: Well, they're only as safe as his pen. And -- and that's the most disturbing news.

And the other thing here is the sanctuary cities issue, $14 billion at a minimum that a fence would cost. The Republicans haven't shown a penchant for spending a whole lot of money or paying for it through increasing revenue. So there's no doubt that, in the homeland security budget, if they start spending all of this money on walls, on going after sanctuary cities, then we are going to be taking money away from real national security. And I'm a member of the Appropriations Committee. I look forward to having that debate with these so-called security hawks.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you very much.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Troubling double down. President Trump pressing forward on his false claims of masser [SIC] -- massive voter fraud. Why is the president lying about this issue? Why is he forwarding a position for which there is no proof? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)