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U.S.-Mexico Summit Called Off As Wall Feud Rages; Trump Delays Executive Action on (Debunked) Voter Fraud; Trump Considering 20% Tax on Mexico to Pay for Wall; Four Top State Dept. Officials Asked to Leave; First 100 Days of the Kennedy White House; What Auto Workers Expect from President Trump. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 26, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, topping this hour of "360", a big night of breaking news on the growing feud with Mexico over the border wall and the long simmering controversy over President Trump's allegations of massive voter fraud. Now, a summit meeting between President Trump and Mexico's president called off, executive action to investigate the debunked voter fraud claims delayed we're told until tomorrow or Saturday.

We have two reports in two capitals, Washington and Mexico City. We begin with Washington, our Jeff Zeleny who joins us from the White House.

So, do we know exactly what happened with the voter fraud executive action that was supposed to be signed today? Was it just a matter of Donald Trump running late?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's a bit of a mystery because President Trump was scheduled to sign of the action on voter fraud. And of course he's been talking about it for several days here. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that he would sign it at 4:30, he traveled to Philadelphia today to meet with Republican members of the House and Senate and leadership. They said he would sign it when he came back here. I was on that trip with him. He came back and didn't sign it. They said simply he was running late and will do it tomorrow or Saturday.

So I don't think it's anything more than that. He of course is still committed to this. He talks about it a lot. A lot of Republicans frankly hope he stops talking about this and starts focusing on other things. But I do expect it tomorrow or Saturday if not by then, then we will wonder what happened with this. But as of now, today, it seemed like it was a scheduling issue. Quite frankly these executive actions and orders are kind of backing up here. He has several he's talked about but has not yet actually signed.

COOPER: The meeting that President Trump and president of Mexico were supposed to have next week, that's no longer on the books. Take it through what happened because it seems like the Mexico president declined it and then Donald Trump sort of said, "Well, we have both decided it wasn't going to happen."

ZELENY: It wasn't quite like that. I mean, the Mexican president definitely declined it first and he did it on social media in the way that Donald Trump perhaps might understand and President Trump was flying to Philadelphia. He was aboard Air Force One, his first flight on Air Force One, in fact, when this news came over that this meeting next week was suddenly not going to be scheduled. So Donald Trump in Philadelphia when he was meeting with Republicans, he said, "Look, we both agree to cancel this. It would be a fruitless meeting anyway. We obviously have a difference of opinion on this."

But, Anderson, you can remember very well, everyone can through the campaign, this was an anthem of his campaign that Mexico will pay for the wall. Now that is not the situation.

So the reality here now is Republicans in the House and Senate and the majority of government here have to decide how to pay for this campaign pledge. It's going to be incredibly expensive. It's going to be complicated as Donald Trump has said but there will not be a meeting next week. So you have to wonder this certainly is the first stand off diplomatically here. And most members of Congress and others are worried about this becoming a trade war or something else here, escalated very quickly today.

COOPER: Yeah. All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks.

The view now from Mexico. CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Mexico City. She joins us now.

So any word tonight if Mexico's president would be open to sit down with President Trump at some point in the future?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that was actually the tweet that he sent out immediately after he said, "I will not be attending that meeting." He said, "I extend my friendship and I am open to relationship that could be mutually beneficial." But I got to tell you, Anderson, the Mexican president sort of standing his ground, certainly resonated with the people of Mexico.

I had a chance to talk to some people on the streets. I spoke to one family who was not aware that the Mexican president had cancelled that meeting and when they learned, when I explained that, you could really see their faces sort of light up. It was almost as if dignity had been restored. You could see that they were pleased, that they thought of this as a victory and that comes after several senators, a former president, right, Vicente Fox sort of spoke out and asked the president to stand his ground and really defend Mexico's interest.

[21:05:10] So tonight, we are clearly seeing where President Enrique Pena Nieto stands.

COPPER: You know, I talked to the former President Vicente Fox last night in the broadcast, he was concerned that basically a trade war is going to hurt both Mexico and the United States. Sean Spicer today floated the idea of a 20 percent tax on the imports from Mexico. They seem to kind of walk that back a little bit later on. How concerned are Mexican officials about that possibility?

SANTIAGO: It's typically the first thing that comes up when I talk to them. You know, I've been here for two weeks talking to Mexicans but also Mexican government officials and this is something that could wreak havoc on both sides because the economic minister has already said, if the U.S. makes such a move, they will respond immediately. And given the trade between the two, we're talking about $1.5 billion daily, that's something that could certainly have an impact.

Let's take cars for example. A 20 percent tax could make it more expensive to not only produce but also export as well. And who's going to pay for that? It could be the American consumer. And I actually just talked to one Mexican senator who took it one step further talking about that connection between the two countries. He pointed out the millions of U.S. jobs that depend on Mexican trade. And to be exact, and I'll quote the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico. So if we see that slow down because of a 20 percent tax, his point was that it could be not only American consumers paying for it but also possibly some U.S. jobs, Anderson.

COOPER: Leyla Santiago from Mexico City tonight. Thank you.

Let's dig deeper now to precisely what a 20 percent tariff would actually mean to a peace center. Lindsey Graham spelled it out in his own theory in a tweet saying, "Simply put any policy proposal which drives up cost of Corona, tequila, and margaritas is a big time bad idea. Mucho Sad." It's more than just beer and booze though.

Mucho mas, our Tom Foreman tonight joins us with the multibillion dollar bottom-line. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anderson. One million dollars every minute. That is how much business are being transacted between the United States and Mexico according to the Wilson Center, a respected think tank here in Washington D.C.

What form does that take? Well, in 2015, Mexico sent $295 billion worth of vehicles, machinery, fuel and so on into the United States. The same year, the United States sent 236 billion worth of machinery, vehicles, plastics and so on into Mexico. A lot of stuff, it involves a lot of people. We heard that number a moment ago from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 6 million jobs in the U.S. relying on trade with Mexico.

So, if you in fact had a 20 percent tariff or tax on everything coming from Mexico over there, what is the impact over here? What the White House hope is that would put pressure on all the businesses that had moved down there for cheaper labor. It would make them say it's no longer cheaper that would bring the industry home. That would boost employments here. It would expand business and expand production and put the U.S. more in charge of its own future. Those are the potential positives.

But what about the potential negatives in all of this? You could see consumer prices being pushed up on both sides of the border. Remember, you're getting things cheaply right now because of the way business is done now. That would change. It could also drive up production costs for U.S. companies because now they have to get supplies and things from Mexico that are going to cost them more, that may make them cut back some of those jobs that are one back. And in a worst-case scenario, Mexico has its own sanctions in place, maybe other countries getting involved. You have an all out trade war, and then a lot of people could suffer, Anderson.

COOPER: A lot of focus obviously on the wall today, as well. How complicated of a project is that potentially?

FOREMAN: Well, it's not getting any easier, I'll tell you that. Look, let's look at the basic facts here. The wall would have to cover somehow 2,000 miles of border here. Up here, you see what we've highlighted? Those are areas largely to the west here where there are already some kind of fences or walls in place. A lot of it is like this. It is these vehicle fences. They're relatively simple, relatively inexpensive. They keep people from driving in. Other areas have these pedestrian fences that look like this. They're more complicated, they're more expensive.

So what does Donald Trump want to have? Well, what he's about would be a 40-foot version of a wall. We don't know what it would look like but in relationship to me, it would be roughly this big and he wants to cover about 1,000 miles of the border with it. That is a tall order because remember, it's going to have to go through river bottoms and beyond sand and on rock, and it's going to have to go uphill and downhill, on private land, on public land, through environmentally sensitive lands.

[21:10:02] It's going to have to go into a lot of places. That's technologically a challenge. It's politically a challenge. And there is an economic challenge there too which is the price tag. He says Mexico will pay for it, they say they won't. Some in Congress now in his party are now saying they think this project could cost up to $15 billion or roughly 10 times as much as we spent on 10 shuttle launches. Anderson?

COOPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks for that.

Back with a panel. Joining us this hour is Democratic Strategist Jonathan Tasini. We haven't heard from you tonight, Jonathan. What do you make of this? Because again, this is stuff Donald Trump campaigned on and campaigned successfully on. People knew he wanted to build a wall. People were behind that, enough people voted for him and renegotiating NAFTA, as well.

JONATHAN TASINI, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: OK. So let me talk about the wall and about NAFTA. They are two good things. They're somewhat separate but connected. The first thing is the wall is actually trying to deal with the problem it does not exist. This is data from the Pew Center. Mexican immigration is actually been declining significantly. It was 5.8 million unauthorized immigrants in the country compared to 6.4 million in 2009.

And so this idea of building a wall is really about the politics of division and about, as you point out, a campaign promise that Donald Trump made in order to actually appeal to people who are afraid and fearful of their jobs. And what he did was successfully in someway politically at least in the Midwest, he targeted Mexicans as the enemy. And that was -- it was all about politics.

As a practical matter, it doesn't like actually address a real problem on NAFTA. And one of the things that Tom didn't mention in his analysis was if all these jobs are going to come back to the U.S., and that's a big question, one of the things he's not talking about, are those going to be unionized jobs? Are those going to be highway jobs? Because what NAFTA and all trade agreements have done is essentially put workers in competition around wages and driven down wages both in this country and in Mexico. So on all this debate about NAFTA and the renegotiation of NAFTA, if that should happen, we're not actually talking about what it's going to mean for workers, for wages.


MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, look, I think that, you know, Donald Trump could be the new champion of labor unions, and union workers. We saw it with the Keystone Pipeline, which they like and he just signed that executive order with TPP. They don't like TPP, neither does Bernie Sanders, neither does Donald Trump. So I think that there could be a realignment and a shift where Donald Trump wins over this kind of working class white voters.

But I will also say this. The one thing about the wall, and I don't love the symbolic notion of building a wall. But here's what I do hope, is that if we actually secure the border which is something that we should be able to do as a sovereign nation, if we could secure the border, then I would hope that we would have some compassion towards dreamers, and toward coming up with a way to compassionately deal with people who are here. I don't think that will be the political will or the ability to do that on the right until we secure the border.

TASINI: Two-thirds of the people who live in this country had lived here for -- the undocumented have lived here for a decade. They are part of our society. And the notion that the wall is either going to keep people out and/or going to deport people is just kind of un- American. But on the NAFTA point, I just want to quickly say, the notion that Donald Trump, that the man who defrauded several thousand people, ripped off people, didn't pay regular people, is going to be the champion of the little person is just BS.

LEWIS: He won a lot of their votes.

TASINI: He won it but that was because --

COOPER: OK. We don't need to relitigate why he won. But Kirsten, it is interesting though, I mean if the economy in Mexico gets worse --


COPPER: -- people lose their jobs, you know, the comments of Vicente Fox he's making last night is that, you know, there's better paying jobs in Mexico which is actually drawing people to go back to Mexico and keep people there. More people will try to cross the border if that's --

POWERS: Right. Exactly. So, and this is something that is obviously an obsession of Donald Trump, having fewer undocumented immigrants in our country. I mean, the thing that is concerning to me is that he's picked this fight with a country that is a friend, that is a neighbor, that's an ally in every possible way that we are intertwined with economically, is threatening to basically start a trade war with them which would be detrimental to their economy and our economy and is somehow standing up to Mexico. Mexico has never done anything to us. And then --

COOPER: So to his point though, you know, they don't send their best and brightest as he said early on.

POWERS: Right. But that's not true.

COOPER: And drugs are --

POWERS: They don't send people. And actually, they detain more people than we detain and they're getting to the border. And so he's doing that and then compare it. He's talking about lifting sanctions on Russia and as nice to Putin who is a totalitarian war criminal. Something is wrong here.

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: No, no. Look, what we have here is a situation where Mexico has not been a good neighbor. They have not been a good neighbor.


LORD: How? How? Well ask --

POWERS: By having poor people who want jobs?

LEWIS: Because allegedly all these murderers and rapists are coming according to Donald Trump.

LORD: Well, you asked the parents of Jamil Shaw, the African-American 17-year-old kid who was murdered by an illegal alien.

POWERS: That's like saying someone was murdered by an Irish immigrant --

[21:14:59]: LORD: No, no. No

POWERS: -- and so we should deport all Irish immigrants.

LORD: No, no, no.

POWERS: He needs to stick to the statistics. The statistics show that they actually are very law abiding people.

LORD: These are their children. They're not statistics. They're human being.

POWERS: No, but Jeffrey, it's not --


COOPER: But Jeffrey, you cannot make policy. I mean, look --

POWERS: Right.

COOPER: -- based on the tragedy of, you know, the very real, obvious horrific tragedy of individuals. You can't make policy broad-brush policies based on anecdotes. Well, and its --

LORD: But they're not just anecdotes --

COOPER: Well, I know they're not just anecdotes but statistically --

LORD: Anderson, this is the problem that we have in the election, right? Everybody is saying well, statistically this is going to happen, right?


LORD: And real people out there are saying yes, it is going to happen.

COOPER: You can rile up people and get them upset based on, you know, things which are not a representative of what's happening at their garage.

LORD: Look, there are drug cartels operating on the Mexican border. Some of them have crossed over with gangs into Texas and other places. This kind --


JEFFREY: This kind of stuff has to stop.

POWERS: The Mexican government wants that to stop too, that's the point. So, when you say the Mexican government hasn't done --

LORD: They should have built a wall. They should have control of their border.

POWERS: They don't need -- they're trying to control their border but the point is --

LORD: But they're not doing it.

POWERS: -- that the Mexican government has not done anything to the United States, they are our friend. I don't know how you --

LORD: They're not --

POWERS: -- you're suggesting they are intentionally trying to send --

LORD: No. No, no, no.

POWERS: -- somebody to shoot Kate Steinle. I mean, that's ridiculous.

JEFFREY: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that their policies have allowed that and that they are not doing anything to help.

COOPER: All right. We've got to end it there.

We have more breaking news ahead tonight including fall-out from the Trump administration telling there's a long-serving State Department official to leave their jobs. Questions about who will be left to implement President Trump's policies (inaudible) may take to hire new people.

Later, the first 100 days of the Kennedy administration and the words of some of the people who were there.


[21:20:27] COOPER: The force departure today, a four top career State Department officials has Washington buzzing. Any implication that these four people quit is wrong. Another senior official said, "People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house." House-cleaning or not, the departure leaves a big management vacuum in foggy bottom just as the new Secretary of State within a prior government experience prepares to take office.

To help us understand what's going and what he says about how the White House intends to run things is Christopher Hill, who serves as an ambassador to South Korea as well Iraq, as well as assistant secretary of state for Asia Public Affairs. Also joining us is CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen.

Ambassador Hill, you are career diplomat who served three different presidents. Is this out of the ordinary? Does this go beyond the normal shift between administrations?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA AND IRAQ: Well, first of all, what is not out of the ordinary is that an incoming administration would like to have some new people. And so, it is quite customary to -- for people to leave as the new administration comes in.

What's a little unusual about this is the abruptness of it and the rather lack of civility to it. I mean, Pat Kennedy has served in the State Department, served with distinction, served in places like Iraq. He's preserved for some 45 years and I think he deserved maybe more than 24 hours to clean out his office.

So I think it's the tone. And, frankly, if people worry about civility in Washington and the need to change that, I think we're kind of going in the wrong direction.

COOPER: David, what do you think? I mean, a lot of people might look at this and say look, what's wrong with the president wanting his own people in various governmental departments and doing it quickly? DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I agree with Christopher Hill as usual on what he said. But let me go a little beyond that. Anderson, he's got a couple of problems. One is, he doesn't have a subcabinet. He doesn't have a deputy secretary. He doesn't have undersecretary. He doesn't have assistant secretary. All the political appointees that run so deep in the administration are simply lacking. I mean, he's sort of home alone. And he's home alone with a Foreign Service.

And to fire four critical players in a foreign service in such an abrupt, I think impolite way, you know, sends a terrible message with the Foreign Service. So I think Rex Tillerson comes in to the State Department as the Secretary of State. With some real internal issues at the very moment the -- with the White House is acting in such a way and bullying Mexico for example in a very moment that a lot of countries are looking for what are you guys up to? And his got hard time on the outside working with other countries trying to assure that the United States is on the right course. So I think if you look at the totality of that, this really weakens Rex Tillerson at the very moment. We need a strong Secretary of State.

COOPER: Ambassador, how long does it take to kind of fill in those subpositions?

HILL: Well, you know, all the assistant secretaries, all the undersecretaries will need congressional hearings. And I'm sure that's going to be backed up. And right now, there is literally no one there.

I do believe, though, that the Foreign Service wants to be successful with Rex Tillerson, they want to make him successful. So frankly, I think the real relationship that Rex Tillerson needs to be very mindful of, it needs to cement in a big hurry just to make sure that he has the complete trust of this new president because otherwise, things could go very badly.

COOPER: Ambassador Hill, you're ambassador to Iraq --

GERGEN: One of the questions --

COOPER: Go ahead, David.

GERGEN: I'm just going ask and I've been reviewing this. I'm really curious about whether Rex Tillerson knew in advance that this was going to happen or whether he was blindsided by the White House because that makes a big, big difference. And we just had the Secretary of Defense that I'm told it was blindsided on a couple of issues including a torture statement this week. And then earlier about the appointment of an Army secretary done by the White House without his knowing, you know, without -- and he just started to learn after the fact.

That is a very dangerous way to play a game. You really do need the Secretary of State tightly tied up with the White House as well as working well with this Foreign Service. COOPER: Ambassador Hill, you knew Iraq incredibly well, you served as an ambassador there. When you hear Donald Trump talk about take -- continuing to talk as president about taking Iraq's oil and about perhaps doing that in the future. I just -- I've never heard of the United States talking about stealing the oil of a sovereign nation that we are allied with and fighting on behalf of it. Does it make any sense from you strategically, diplomatically, militarily in any way?

HILL: The only things we've ever asked of countries is to -- is some land to bury our dead.

[21:25:03] I think this is quite unusual. I mean -- but putting aside the sort of general point that it frankly has never been heard of before, I guess, as a practical matter, I'm not sure how that would work. So I think, again, it's very important for the former chairman of ExxonMobil to have the relationship with the president and perhaps to help the president understand how that can work.

COOPER: Because -- I mean, David Gergen, the Iraqis again who we are allied with and fighting with, fighting on the -- you know, alongside of to defeat ISIS, they would not particularly like their oil being taken.

GERGEN: I have to believe, Anderson, that he misspoke and he was talking about taking away oil from ISIS --

COOPER: No, no, no --

GERGEN: -- that he has several times in the past.

COOPER: Yeah, but he's talk about taking Iraq's oil.

GERGEN: I know, that's what he said.


GERGEN: Though I know that's what he said. Well, I just have to believe he got -- Iraq mixed-up with the ISIS in Iraq. I -- you know, taking Iraq's oil is preposterous on its face and, you know, with a sovereign nation. I just don't think we're going to go down that path.

You know, the truth is, Anderson, there are so munch going on now. There so many stories that we're through like scratching our heads on, this is sort of gotten lost in the shuffle.

COOPER: Yeah. Ambassador Hill, David Gergen, I appreciate both of you being on. Thank you very much.

Just ahead, America uncovered, what auto workers in Michigan are expecting from President Trump.


[21:30:24] COOPER: Well since the election, as much as possible, we've been getting our reporters into the field to talk to people about this new administration and how its policies might affect them. Somewhere in Michigan, the car making capital of the country.

President Trump this week met with the leadership of America's top car companies and by all accounts, the meeting went well. It's part of Mr. Trump's effort to bring back manufacturing jobs, something he's been very vocal about to say the least. So in tonight's America uncovered, Martin Savidge, heads to Michigan, a blue state that turn red this year, to talk to auto workers about what they are hearing and seeing from this president.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Naomi, Willie, Dave and Rob, all work at the same Ford plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, producing an American icon.

So Flat Rock, if I'm the general public, tell me some of the vehicles I would see or know you-all helped to make or be part of.


SAVIDGE: They all share the same pride but not the same politics.

How did you vote?

ROB FLEMING, AUTOWORKER: I voted for Donald J. Trump.

DAVID BRELAT, AUTOWORKER: I voted for Donald Trump.

WILLIE HAMMAR, AUTOWORKER: I voted for Donald Trump.

STAGGS: I voted for Hillary Clinton.

SAVIDGE: You might expect Trump's pledge to bring jobs back was the main reason these blue-collar men voted for him. Jobs made the list but they weren't number one.

HAMMAR: First of all, immigration. I believe people should come in this country but let's do it legally.

BRELAT: Gun control and stuff like that.

FLEMING: I like his stands out, you know, this pro-life and the second one was the job thing that he said, we're going to bring jobs back to America.

SAVIDGE: Naomi also likes the idea of more good paying jobs but worries about Trump's lack of environmental concern. So she admit seems not OK by the auto industry so far.

STAGGS: I am encouraged about our future, and I'm still going to hold that skepticism. I'll let you know in 100 days, how is that?

SAVIDGE: If there is one issue near but not dear to many autoworkers, it's the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. Do you think he should get rid of NAFTA? What do you think he (inaudible)?

FLEMING: What do they call it? Free trade. That's seems like the wrong terminology. It should be fair trade.

DAVID BRELAT, AUTOWORKER: Our country seems to be, you know, let's buy from everybody else and we're losing jobs daily.

STAGGS: It is an unfair playing field out there as far as, you know, the taxes and everything against automotive that are made in the U.S.

SAVIDGE: Just prior to Trump taking office, Ford did a surprising 180 cancelling plans to move some car production to Mexico. This after Trump heavily criticized the company during the campaign.

Do you think that weighed into Ford's decision?

HAMMAR: Absolutely.

FLEMING: Absolutely.


HAMMAR: Out of arrogance, of course, they will.


HAMMAR: I do, and I'm very proud to work for Ford Motor Company, one of the name brand that's known around the world but still, they're not going to go out and say yes, we were bullied by Donald Trump.

SAVIDGE: Naomi disagrees believing Ford changed its mind based on business and not bullying.

STAGGS: I don't think he had any influence on that. I think they're giving him too much credit.

SAVIDGE: Willie, Dave and Rob don't fool themselves that Trump is a union guy. They don't think he is. But more than anything, they wanted change.

What if he doesn't deliver?

FLEMING: It will feel like a punch in the gut, you know. It will just -- it would be devastating.

HAMMAR: I hope he delivers because, I mean, he's ended up to everything, you know, and we have too in supporting him.

STAGGS: I'm not as confident as my union brother here, but I am encouraged.

SAVIDGE: Working as they do, these autoworkers know something to be true. By themselves, none of them make a car.

HAMMAR: At the end of the day, we all work together.


HAMMAR: And we're all --

SAVIDGE: On the line or as a nation?

HAMMAR: Absolutely.

STAGGS: Yes. Both.

HAMMAR: At the end of the day, we're all together.

FLEMING: Both. Both.


COOPER: And Martin joins us now. Is there anything that concerns them so far about President Trump?

SAVIDGE: Yeah, there are a number of things but primary it's foreign affairs. They do believe that Donald Trump certainly is (inaudible) when it comes to being a businessman and understanding how business operates and how that translates into their job as autoworkers.

But international affairs, that's where they're concerned, not just because of course, say problems you could run into, conflicts you could run into but trade conflicts you can run into. I think we've talked about that already today. Not just with, say, Mexico but what about someone like China? Both automakers, Ford and G.M., I'm saying, are heavily invested and betting on trade with China. If that were to go wrong, the repercussions domestically in this country would be huge. And even the auto worker in Detroit on the line understands that connection very well. Anderson?

[21:35:08] COOPER: Martin Savidge, thanks very much.

Coming up, president's first 100 days. The challenges they bring and the history they produce. We're going to look back in history.

Coming up next, the intensity of the first 100 days in JFK's America.


COOPER: We're now in day seven of the Trump White House. The first 100 days of any presidency has become a benchmark for a success and can set the tone for an entire administration. Some of our country's most popular presidents face intense challenges in their first 100 days but battle through them and were better for it.

Tonight, we're begging a series on just that called the first 100 days. It featured the first-hand accounts of people who experienced those 100 days inside the White House and those who studied them from the out side. We start with the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [21:39:59] JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, do solemnly swear --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

KENNEDY: And I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And will to the best of your ability --

KENNEDY: And will to the best of my ability --

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: This theme of course of Kennedy will going to get the country moving again. It was a spark and there was that sense of youth, that feeling of OK, we're moving to something younger and hopefully better.

RICHARD GOODWIN, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT KENNEDY: The day of inauguration was bitterly cold and Kennedy did not wear an overcoat, so we had to go without our overcoats too. So, I was freezing most of the day where was he seemed to be had an inner warmth that's coming from the fact that he was about to become president of the United State.

DEORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There was a symbolism involved in JFK's refusal to wear a coat and hat.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: John F. Kennedy was very sick. Kennedy just hid a lot of his illnesses. We now know he had Addison's disease. Any time you see John F. Kennedy as president there's a great chance of that very moment he's suffering.

D.K. GOODWIN: And in order to dispell that sense that maybe he wasn't as healthy as he appeared on the surface, I think the lack of a coat and the lack of a hat suggested that I'm vigorous, I'm strong, here I'm.

KENNEDY: To serve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.


KENNEDY: So, help me God.

WOODWARD: I was a senior in high school when Kennedy was inaugurated and I remember listening to that and the line resonates, let the world go forth.

KENNEDY: -- that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace.

WOODWARD: And that was a real kind of jolt.

R. GOODWIN: The whole country had a sense of possibility. Kennedy part of his attitude, his youth, his programs, all of it together made people think they were better and they thought they were and that was his greatest achievement.

KENNEDY: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

D.K. GOODWIN: And this election represented I think an inspiration and vitality of a new generation coming into power. It was not simply the soaring rhetoric of the inauguration, which promised a lot of action and motion and new directions, but it was the idea that the youngest president ever elected was coming into office right after the oldest president, Eisenhower at 70 was leaving office. So, there was a sense of activism, a sense of citizen involvement and a sense that there would be a change from the silent generation of the '50s.

KENNEDY: Good evening my fellow citizens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for this first great success in space when the Russians pushed a man across the threshold. He was Yuri Gagarin, the astronaut the Russians lion eyes as the first to orbit the Earth.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Kennedy had campaigned in 1960 against what he called the missile gap, that we were behind the Soviets and then we're in a very dangerous situation.

BRINKLEY: Low and behold his president in the Soviet Union puts Yuri Gagarin into space and we look like we are way behind on the space race and Kennedy's they are holding the bag.

KENNEDY: I do not regard the first man in space as a sign of the weakening of the free world.

D.K. GOODWIN: The space challenge which had begun with Sputnik in the 1950s really was a proxy for the Cold War. It meant that Russia seemed to be ahead of us. So, another blow for the Kennedy's during that first 100 days was that a Russian cosmonaut goes up into space.

R. GOODWIN: I know he was convinced that the battle of the Cold War was also a battle for prestige.

GERGEN: It also reminded us that the Soviet built up their military and there were existential threat to the United States with the weapons. So, put a man in space that really suggest they were right on our tail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the propaganda coup of the year.

BRINKLEY: Within just 10-day or so period, Kennedy had two black eyes. He had the Soviet Union putting Gagarin in space and he had the Bay of Pigs fiasco.


[21:45:09] COOPER: The Bay Pigs fiasco, it has become a cautionary tale for any president in shorthand in Washington for other incomplete failure. Up next, the little known story of how that mission unfolds that told by Oval Office insiders and fighters on the ground in Cuba. Also, how Kennedy used the lessons from that failure to avoid World War III. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We're continuing our first 100 days series with the look of John F. Kennedy. Now, before the break, Kennedy had suffered a Cold War failure with the Soviet Union beating the U.S. in a key accomplishment in the space race. But it would not be the biggest defeat he'd faced in his first 100 days, that will come just one week later. Take a look.


BRINKLEY: Kennedy was coming in as youngest president ever won in a presidency and he was coming in as seemingly inexperienced particularly in foreign affairs. And so, Kennedy thought gosh, I don't want to just get rid of all of the old guard particularly people at Defense and CIA that had been up to snuff on the most modern in recent intelligence information. Hence, John F. Kennedy inherited this Bay of Pigs invasion plan from the Eisenhower administration.

[21:50:11] D.K. GOODWIN: In the Eisenhower administration, they had already begun a plan to send a group of CIA sponsored Cubans into Cuba with the thought that if they landed on Cuban soil, that the Cuban people would rise up against Fidel Castro. And JFK somehow early on decided that he was going to continue that plan.

AURELIO PEREZ-LUGONES, BAY OF PIGS VETERAN: When we landed, as I was in the last boat to arrive there, second battalion was already fighting. We had airborne troops dropped in different areas. We had very heavy fighting tanks. We had a few tanks, and they had tanks.

R. GOODWIN: All we had was radio reports. All begin rather garbled and confused because our guys were getting whipped. We gradually became clearer and we had taken a body blow.

D.K. GOODWIN: I think what the hawks were imaging was that once Kennedy made the decision to send in the CIA-sponsored force that if a problem arose, then he would have air cover and then he would even send in an actual invasion force. He decided not to do the air strikes. And so the whole plan became the most bungled humiliating plan you could possibly imagine.

PEREZ-LUGONES: How many landed? Approximately 1,400. About 120, 126 were killed. And 1,350 were captured or surrendered.

BRINKLEY: We kind of let the Cuban exile invasion group dangle on their own and face a disaster. And for Fidel Castro, this was a huge victory over the Kennedy administration right off the bat.

PEREZ-LUGONES: But most of us blamed whatever weakness John F. Kennedy showed in stopping the air assault that prevented us from accomplish our objective. He betrayed us. GERGEN: It was a disaster for him. It was a humiliation for the United States. And he realized I was a damn fool in that situation. I should never should have allowed the CIA and these other people to bully me into doing this. And I'm going to take control of my own presidency. And it was at that point that Kennedy really began to change as President. Kennedy took the blame for it.

KENNEDY: An old saying that the victory has a 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan. Further statements, detailed discussions, are not to conceal responsibility because I'm the responsible officer of the Government but merely because -- and that is quite obvious but merely because I do not believe that such a discussion would benefit us during the present difficult situation.

R. GOODWIN: He never tried to disavow that responsibility of having screwed it up, which he did. And -- but he changed a lot of things after that in the White House to make command, control of the military, much stronger.

D.K. GOODWIN: And it was a pretty rocky 100 days. And yet he had come through it I think with a certain kind of maturity. He had come through some difficult times, having learned from his mistakes.

BRINKLEY: And a remarkable achievement I think when we reflect back on Kennedy's 100 days is that that's the period that I think America started taking space exploration seriously and seeing the Cold War benefits of trying to beat the Soviets at their own game of space technology. That spurs Kennedy on into going to Congress early in '61, in the spring and say look, we are going to put a man on the moon by the end of this decade.

NEIL ARMSTRONG, AMERICAN ASTRONAUT: There you go. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

D. GOODWIN: And of course that's what we remember after the fact, the success of the man on the moon and forget the failure of not having been the first person to do Sputnik or the first country to do the cosmonaut, even though JFK didn't get to see it.

GERGEN: Kennedy went from the Bay of Pigs in his 100 days to the Cuban Missile Crisis 14 months later.

[21:55:03] And by that time, he was a much, much better president and he was magnificent in his leadership than in that Cuban Missile Crisis.

KENNEDY: It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba or against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

WOODWARD: The very important lesson of the Bay of Pigs got translated to the Cuban missile crisis. The big question was, should we bomb? And Kennedy according to McNamara said, "OK, I want to go around the room and hear everyone's recommendation on this." And so they went around the room and according to McNamara, at the end, Kennedy said, "OK, it is nine to seven in favor of bombing. The sevens have it. In other words, no. I'm not going to do what the officials say. I'm not going to escalate this situation." I think that's probably one of the most important moments for Kennedy and for the presidency.


COOPER: We'll be right back.


[22:00:08] COOPER: And that does it for us. Thanks for watching. Have a great evening. CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.