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CNN TONIGHT

President Donald Trump about to have his first face-to-face meeting with a head of state; President Trump's meeting with Mexican president has been cancelled; Chief strategist Steve Bannon, slamming the news media as the opposition party; President Trump cannot be happy about the latest polls; Aired 11-12p ET

Aired January 26, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:47] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump about to have his first face-to-face meeting with a head of state.

This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's what the president said about his meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, I'm meeting with the prime minister tomorrow as you know, Great Britain. So I'm meeting with it tomorrow. I don't have commerce secretary. They want to talk trade. So I will have to handle it myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And we are learning tonight that President Trump will speak by phone with Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

Meanwhile, there is another world leader the president won't be talking to, not yet anyway, the president of Mexico scrapping his White House meeting in the wake of the president's executive action on border wall. President Trump says it was mutual decision.

And meanwhile, the White House walking back a proposed 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico saying the president is still weighing his options.

I want to get right now to CNN's global affairs analyst David Rohde, senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski, and also senior political analyst Mark Preston.

Good evening to all of you. Michelle, tomorrow is President Trump's first major meeting with a foreign leader, British Prime Minister Theresa May. She is very reserved. He is not. She says, you know, she says haven't you ever noticed sometimes opposites attract. How do you think the meeting will go?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, I think you could glean a lot from her speaking today at Republican retreat. I mean, she is all about positivity. She is all about how important this relationship is. And I think what was really striking was when you think back to the past year, when President Obama was in Britain trying to convince Britain not to vote for the Brexit. It was kind of a lecture that he was delivering them, telling them how detrimental it would be. And it would be bad for security and stability around the world. And that was seen by some (INAUDIBLE).

Here is Theresa May in Washington, today she was in Philadelphia, but coming to visit the new president and she is talking about Donald Trump's victory being not rooted in the halls of Washington but in the aspirations of working people. Talking about seeing a new future where we take back control of our borders and our immigration system. So she is looking for ways to align with Trump.

Obviously, they have their differences. And what is tricky here is that her citizens want to see her get tough on certain issues. They want to see her stand up for Britain. They want to see her tough against torture which she has reiterated that the UK is several times now.

But you know, what this meeting is going to be about is how can we move forward together on trade? How can we make this as good as possible for both sides?

LEMON: David, the stakes are particularly high because he is going to host his first side by side press conference with the world leader, someone who is very reserved. Do you think he is going to take that hostile tone that he used he takes toward the press or do you think he will be a little bit more reserved, (INAUDIBLE) for the British prime minister?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think he will be hostile towards the press. This is Donald Trump. It's worked well for him. This is Donald Trump. It has work well from this president of the United States. So, I think he will change.

The question is can he be more steady? If you just look over the last six days, it's been extraordinary. You had him talking about seizing Iraq's oil the day after he took office. There was talk of, in one of this executive order creating safe zones in Syria, no one quite knows what that meant? Is that the point he has troops. He has talked of blockading, you know, islands in the pacific that China might try to get near. And then today this sort of what seems to be trade war, possibly with Mexico and sort of that's pedaled back, talked of banning immigrant or sorry refugees or visas in general from seven predominantly Muslim nations. And it is extraordinary, the array of things that are sort of being thrown out there and then pulled back. It is very unsettling to the U.S. allies.

LEMON: So you think that because usually you establish the policy, right, and the discussion and then the president goes out and talk about it. Do you the president goes out and talks about it and then make sort of establish how they are going to react to it?

ROHDE: Yes. I mean, he doesn't have his people in place. To be fair, he was sort of blaming Congress for that but --

LEMON: I mean with the team he has in place now with the people in the White House now.

ROHDE: It's -- I talked to people who worked with Obama administration on the transition to the Trump administration. And Trump had people - were slow in getting their people in place and I don't think the whole national security apparatus is right now for the Trump White House.

[23:05:11] LEMON: Mark Preston, CNN reports today that before he left office, speaking of President Barack Obama, he encouraged the prime minister, Prime Minister May to form a close relationship with President Trump to act as a moderating force on him. Should she follow his advice?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I hope she follows his advice. I mean, just given what we have seen, you know. And you know, less than a week into his presidency.

You know, it's interesting to see how President Obama during the transition period publicly tried to make things as easy as possible for Donald Trump. Only had some interesting things to say when Donald Trump seemed to attack him. But by and large, he will try to work hand in hand. But behind the scenes, he had great concern, you know. And it wasn't just Prime Minister May, Don, that he spoke to. She spoke to the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and asked him to do the same thing.

The reason why is that he didn't think that Donald Trump fully understood the weight and the gravity of the office that he was about to assume. And he felt that he needed to do this to try to bring some stability to it. And these conversations perhaps from other world leaders perhaps help him achieve that goal.

LEMON: Michelle Kosinski, we just learned that President Trump is scheduled to meet, at least to speak, I should say, to Russia's president Vladimir Putin for the first time since he has been president. That will happen on Saturday. It has been such a tumultuous week. What do you think of the timing of this phone call, this conversation?

KOSINSKI: Well, it's early in his presidency to be speaking to Russia but I think surprises no one. I mean, on the White House's side they are going to say this is a relationship that has been damaged. There has been so much said on both sides. And now, it is time to see ways that these two countries can work together more constructively instead of being basically rivals right now.

I mean, so much scrutiny is going to be on this conversation. But remember, what comes out is going to be a readout. We are not going to hear the conversation. We don't know exactly what is going to be said. And often, the readout that you get from the Russian side is much, much different than the one you get from the U.S. side. So I think will be interesting to see what is said on each side about this conversation. How important they view it as being and then what happens from there.

LEMON: I want to talk with you guys about Mexico. Mexico - here was President Trump announcing the cancellation of his meeting with the Mexican president of Philadelphia today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week. Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So David, was this sort of a mutual agreement, a mutual cancellation or do you think the Mexican president pulled the plug?

ROHDE: I think the Mexican president pulled the plug. And he did that because Donald Trump put him in a corner. He, you know, he kept it in his tweets sort of pushing Mexico, saying, you know, you have to pay for the wall. And I think Nieto, and this is key thing in foreign relations, he has to worry about his own political audience. Mexicans were outraged. They have been angry at Trump for months. And yet, so simply about had to object.

If we talk this way to China, President Xi, he has his own sort of domestic politics. Chinese are not going to, you know, stand for China backing down. So this is very different from a business deal, you know, when you are bluffing. Foreign leaders have to stand up for themselves just for their own political survival. So it just starting, they backed off today but it if a dangerous pattern.

LEMON: Yes, Mark. I want to talk about the time line here because the Mexican president said he was still planning to come to Washington despite pressure at home to cancel the trip. And then early this morning, this came out on twitter. This is Donald Trump, he said if Mexico - this is president say, if Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting. And then few hours later the Mexican president tweeted this. This morning, we have informed White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the Potus.

So, President Trump has been in office for a week and he has already kicked off major diplomatic spat. What is your reaction, Mark?

PRESTON: Well, couple of things. One, he is certainly wasn't rolling out the welcome mat in the tweet this morning. And as David said, the Mexican president was pushed into the corner.

You know, if you just go back a few months, remember when Donald Trump left the campaign trail and made this very unprecedented visit to Mexico, the president at that time and they had this joint news conference and those questions about whether the wall was even discussed at that point. But the president of Mexico is under incredible political pressure back home. And to come to Washington and look like bending at knee and kissing ring of Donald Trump is not going to be beneficial to him.

Now, I would say though, had he had come here next week and had he came out and publicly declared we are not paying for this wall, had the Mexican president have gone to the Cambridge and said that, that would have been pretty devastating for Donald Trump. So in some ways, I think Donald Trump dodged one here by not having the Mexican president come to the U.S. Because, Don, the bottom line, it's not going to be Donald Trump and the Mexican president who were going to be able to figure out this trade deal. It is going to be those who work underneath them who really do the dirty details.

[23:10:26] LEMON: Michelle, the Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray is in Washington. He responded to President Trump tonight. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUIS VIDEGARAY MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We simply cannot accept the concept of us paying for your own wall. That's something that does not happen in communities between citizens. And something that will be totally unacceptable between nations. Something that we would not do, we will never do. And because this is about our dignity and our pride.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It sounds pretty final, Michelle. Is that the final word on Mexico paying?

KOSINSKI: I mean, it does sound that way. I think that the Trump administration seems determined to find a way to make Mexico pay. I mean we are talking about tariffs and trade war which would ultimately affect consumers. But they have also thrown out some other ideas, maybe targeting remittances, which is huge number that is sent back to Mexico every year, maybe an aid that the U.S. provides to Mexico.

I mean, this relationship is important to both countries. We are neighbors obviously. Trade is a big deal, is a big number. But so are things like counterterrorism, trying to stop the flow of people across the border. Mexico does some of that work as well. So Mexico has a few cards to play here.

But I think you look at what is happening now, and it is like did anyone not see this coming? I mean, before the election, there is all this talk about the wall. You know, hyper heated words like calling Mexicans rapists. President Pena Nieto referred to Donald Trump in the same breath as Hitler and Mussolini. So now, we have this first meeting about to happen and now is not happening because the tweets keep flying and there is still stuff on both sides. So I think this was bound to come to a head.

Maybe once this is gotten past and everybody sees exactly what is in these executive orders and finds out a lot more detail about what is being proposed, then the relationship can move on from there. But it looks like it is going to be rocky for some time to say the least.

LEMON: David, final word.

ROHDE: Just the odd thing is there isn't tides of people coming over the border. There isn't some great threat that, you know, there's a debate over whether we even need the wall and then many immigration experts say a wall won't solve the problem anyway. So a narrative that Donald Trump created in his campaign of this huge threat of illegal immigration isn't really supported by facts.

LEMON: Most people are coming in via airplanes and overstaying their visa.

ROHDE: Yes. Correct.

LEMON: Thank you, panel. Appreciate it.

When we come right back, the man with what some say has the toughest job in Washington. And that Sean Spicer who speaks for Donald Trump. We will talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:17:00] LEMON: Listen. Donald Trump is no fan of the news media (INAUDIBLE). Regularly calling reporters dishonest. His chief strategist blasting the press today in no uncertain terms. All of that would seem to put White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a difficult position.

CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash has more now - Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, the president's strategist Steve Bannon says the media do not understand this country and should keep their collective mouth shut.

In a rare interview with "the New York Times," Bannon repeatedly referred to the media as the opposition party. Now, that is the frame through which the White House spokesman is expected to operate. And President Trump pays attention which is why every day his press secretary speaking to the country but focusing on an audience of one, his boss, the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Sean Spicer is now one of the most visible people in the world.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thanks for coming out to our first official briefing.

BASH: White House spokesman is always one of the hardest jobs in Washington but speaking for president Trump takes hard to a whole new level.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What evidence do you have of widespread voter fraud in this election if that's the case?

SPICER: The president does believe that. He stated that before. BASH: Spicer spent two decades in Washington working up to this, the

naval officer who is still an active reservist was a press secretary for several GOP congressmen and eventually Republican National Committee.

BRAD WOODHOUSE, FORMER DNC SPOKESMAN: You are not draining the swamp with him. I mean, he swamp. He has been around D.C. a long time.

BASH: Brad Woodhouse was DNC spokesman while Spicer was at the RNC. They did battle but also did good, making bets for charity.

WOODHOUSE: He is a good egg. He is someone who I think is a really decent and good person. You envy somebody in that role.

BASH: Why?

WOODHOUSE: Well, I mean, you know, there are few of us that had been in this business. So you know - that I would really like to do that. I would like to be, you know, White House press secretary.

BASH: Spicer's friends tell CNN being White House spokesman is his dream come true. Yet for many, his first full day was more of a nightmare.

SPICER: 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.

BASH: A hastily arranged hyper Saturday statement on inaugural crowds, a direct order from the furious new president riddled with factual errors.

SPICER: This was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass in the mall.

BASH: After getting pounded, a calmer, well-flocked Spicer came back looking for do-over.

SPICER: There are certain things that we may miss and we may not fully understand, we come out. But our intention is never to lie to you.

BASH: At the RNC during the GOP primary, Spicer publicly criticized candidate Trump.

SPICER: As far as painting Mexican-Americans with that kind of a brush, I think that is probably something that is not helpful to the cause.

BASH: That changed when Trump became GOP nominee. And when he won in November, Spicer with the help long time boss and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus began lobbying to be presidential spokesman.

Coming back to work as transition spokesman after his father passed away which sources say show Trump how much Spicer wanted the job.

Because he was not an early loyalist at times Spicer appears to go out of his way to prove his mettle to his boss.

[23:20:13] SPICER: The report is not an intelligence report, plain and simple.

BASH: He hasn't changed an odd habit, or medically chewing orbit cinnamon gum and swallowing it multiple packs a day. Those who have long known the native Rhode Islander say he may be ambitious and at times territorial, but his wife and two children always come first along with his country.

WOODHOUSE: One thing about him is he is a true patriot. It will get his temperament straight ill. He will focus on the right priorities.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Even before he worked for President Trump, Spicer has always been eager to do battle with reporters he felt were being unfair or getting a story wrong. But he also had a long history of good relationships with many journalists. Balancing those two competing dynamics is a learning curve for any press secretary, especially one with president constantly watching from right down the hall -- Don.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

There is no reason for anybody to expect the White House will stop taking shots at the media. But does fight with the press actually help the president and his agenda?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:25:13] LEMON: One of the president's chief advisers, Steve Bannon, slamming the news media as the opposition party.

Let's discuss now with CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is here, the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," by the way and CNN contributor Salena Zito.

Hello. Hello to both of you.

Brian, we have been talking about this "New York Times" interview where they interviewed the White House's chief strategist Steve Bannon. Here is what he said. He said the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand and why Donald Trump is a president of the United States.

Labelling the media as opposition party, saying we should keep our mouths shut - we are playing in his hands. He knew it would be covered, right.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, for sure.

LEMON: He wanted us to. And that is why he said it. Go on.

STELTER: I think he is in some ways sowing divisions, trying to play Trump's base which is very skeptical to the media against the elite press against the networks and the big papers. But what he is saying, no, it's inappropriate. It sells division. But more importantly it is corrosive to our democracy to be dismissing the media, to be hating the press this way.

LEMON: Yes. Salena, this fighting, you think that it helps his agenda fighting with the media?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's always been part of his thing, right? Up until he won the nomination, he used us in very effective and very brilliant way. And as soon as he won the nomination, he understood we were the enemy, we have low approval ratings. It was an easy target. And anything that we said, he could just say, that's just in the media.

And so, there is definitely plays into his hands. Look. What Bannon said hasn't ever not been said in administration. It just that everybody used their inside voices. He actually said it out loud. And it escalates this battle between us. And honestly, I don't think it helps anybody because it just tunes everyone out to the whole dialogue. And we are not paying attention to the important things like, you know, what's his policies? What is he going to do going forward? We are so focused on all this the sort of white noise that -- you know, it is keeping us from reporting on everything that he is doing. And in some ways that does help him.

STELTER: I was just speaking with the emailing with the head of the committee to protect journalists, Joel Simon. Normally, his group tries to help journalists in countries like Syria and Russia and Iran. He is now paying more attention to the United States because of Trump's anti-media tone. And he said he does thinks this undermine the press. He said quote "Steve Bannon sought to provoke the media." So any response risks playing into his hands. But we have to pay attention to this. So Don, I think it get to your point about how Bannon wants us to talking about this. He wants the media to be on the defensive. We have to note it but keep playing our own game.

LEMON: Yes. I thought it was interesting that our colleague Maggie Haberman here as well as the "New York Times." And here is what she just said. "The words dishonest media aside," she put that in quote, "Trump doesn't hate the media. Doesn't mean he understands yet what it's like being Potus in medialand, right."

STELTER: Yes. He is watching. He loves the press. He loves being covered. So he thinks that is favorable. He was up watching FOX News this morning at 5:50 in the morning. He tweeted the same words that were on screen 14 minutes later. We know he watches CNN endlessly as well.

But this issue about hating on the press, criticizing the press, partly it is about creating confusion. So people don't know what is true and what is false.

Today Donald Trump said the murder rate in Philadelphia has been increasing. He said terribly increasing. The murder in Philadelphia has been honed on the decline. The mayor, Jim Kenney, tonight is blasting Trump for that.

Yesterday Donald Trump speaking to ABC's David Muir said there were two people shot and killed in Chicago when President Obama was giving his farewell address. The "Chicago Tribune" and tell it sometimes confirms nobody was shot during the speech. No one was killed during the speech. There was one person shot later, you know, in the next hour, was not killed.

My point with these facts are he continues to mislead people and sow confusion. And sometimes confusion helps people in power. So I think for our audience, the point is to refuse to be confused by any politician trying to mess things up.

LEMON: He has very strong support with law enforcement as well. And the mayor of Philadelphia saying that his words were insulting to the men and women who were working very hard to protect him while he was in Philadelphia at the time.

So Salena, the president sat down for an interview tonight with FOX News and the CIA speech came up again. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was one standing ovation, the whole thing. So I get back -- and I will say FOX treated it great. They said it was great. When our new person running Mike Pompeo, it was fantastic. He said to me other day that was so great. Everyone loved it. Everybody loved it. When I got back I saw the speech. They didn't like it. I wasn't respectful. It was smattering of applause. It wasn't smattering. It was there were like 300, 350 people in the room, over 1,000 wanted to come. And if I took a vote right now, I would have won 350 to nothing, believe me. But even that was demeaned as much as they can demean it. What I'm saying Shaun is this, the media, much of the media, not all of it, is very. Very dishonest. Honestly, it's fake news. It is fake. They make things up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:30:27] LEMON: So the CIA story, his speech may be mentioned in passing on this show. I can't even remember. But hasn't been a big subject of the show. Had he not spoken about it we would be moving on to something else.

So my question, Salena, is that, is he expecting the media to pander to him? It sounds like he thinks anything other than glowing coverage is unfair criticism.

ZITO: Here is what I think. I think he has had a breathtaking week. If we took all of this noise aside, and we take a look at everything that he has done from TPP to the Mexico City, taking that back, to meeting with the CEOs, meeting with the heads of the car companies, talking with all those labor unions and trade unions, the Obamacare, I mean, it's just - Al-Sisi in Egypt. I mean, this has been a fast- paced great week. And the only thing that's got in the way of it is just focusing on these things that don't matter. And I haven't quite decide yet if it's to his advantage or it is to his disadvantage.

But I would rather as the press be talking about what his policies are, what the impact they have on the people, how it affects our budgets, our economy and our national security. I feel like that's what we should be doing at a press, but we just been boondoggled by all this noise, all this white noise.

LEMON: And once the president says something, right, he is leader of the free world, then we talk about it.

STELTER: And he does care about his popularity. He cares about this. But I think Salena is onto something really crucial, you know. If he didn't bring up his ratings or crowd sizes, then there wouldn't be this noise. There wouldn't be this distractions. There would be more conversation about the policy.

It's -- fundamentally about his ability to take criticism or take the coverage and handle it. As Maggie Haberman reported, he still watching a lot of TV in the White House. And I think - we are all wondering if he's going to last for the long-term.

LEMON: The first rule of PR, if you don't to draw attention to something, then don't talk about it, right? You just let it go.

STELTER: He should do an interview and we should be thankful he is doing interviews.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yes. And that is a positive.

Listen. You are out with a new piece on CNN.com, Brian. And you say that the president is FOX News' top PR guy.

STELTER: Yes. What I mean by this is that he is promoting FOX. He is not just watching on a FOX News. He is promoting FOX. He said to David Muir, turn on FOX. They gave my speech positive coverage. So this is continued demonstration about him opposing the media that he thinks doesn't treat him fairly, preferring a network that likes with the message from.

I think we are going to continue to see that, Don. But, you know, reality is he is still watching a lot of CNN, reading "the New York Times." He is consuming a lot of media. And I hope that when he is watching this network, watching MSNBC, watching others, that is learning more and more how to govern the country. Because it is very clear from the news coverage this week. There's incredibly steep learning curve. There is for every president but especially for this businessman. Maybe cable news actually has the responsibility here to educate Trump and his aids.

LEMON: It is like to say I think he knows. It's not real until CNN says it. Until it happens on CNN. So that's why there is so much opposition.

Thank you. I appreciate it. When we come right back, President Trump turning out executive orders

as fast and furious as he can or the fast and furious rate but do all these actions have teeth?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:37:49] LEMON: So for a man who cares so much about ratings, President Trump cannot be happy about the latest polls that we have.

Here to discuss, CNN political commentator Alice Stewart and Matt Lewis.

Joseph Borelli, New York City councilman and Jonathan Tasini, Democratic strategist and host of the podcast "Working like."

Matt I said you were here right?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm here.

LEMON: OK. I want to make sure. So, you're ganged up tonight.

LEWIS: I'm ganged up. I can handle these people.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: All right, Matt. Let's talk about this his standing of the presidency. This is a new Quinnipiac poll. That 36 percent of Americans approve about he is doing his job, 44 percent disapprove. How does he turn this around at this point?

LEWIS: Well, the only people less popular are at this table. So step one is to have -- keep a campaign going and go after the media, that's part of it.

Look. You know, this will sound, you know, hackneyed maybe. But I think in a way, it is an opportunity. If you start off very high with huge expectations, there is nowhere to go but down. Donald Trump can now build from this, but he has to. When he has to at some point turn it around. How can he do that? People start getting jobs and the economy turns around, those numbers fix themselves.

LEMON: I don't disagree with you. There's always opportunity, right, to build.

LEWIS: And you always want to under in -- politics is all about under promise, overachieve.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Do you think Republicans, Joseph, welcome to the show. Do you think Republicans in Congress are concerned about those numbers?

JOSEPH BORELLI, COUNCILMAN, 51ST DISTRICT OF NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Well I think as far as the Republican base, they shouldn't be. Because Republicans in this poll very supportive of Donald Trump. I think Republicans in Congress are looking at this as someone who is fulfilling nine out of ten promises he has made on the campaign trail. And I think I have to be in a largely happy about the performance of Donald Trump thus far.

He is doing exactly what the party wants him to campaign on and what he in fact promised himself. And they are willing to make good on funding wall, on repealing Obamacare. So I think they are not dissuaded by it.

LEMON: I think that, you know, we have been reporting here on CNN that he is doing what he said he is going to do. Now whether or not these executive orders have teeth, we will see. But he is doing exactly what he is saying he is going to do. If not for self- inflicted wound, as point out, we would be talking about that.

Let's break down the numbers, OK. And I'm on partisan lines and then you can weigh in, Alice, excuse me.

Republicans approve 81 percent, right. Democrats disapprove, 77 percent. Independent voters 45 percent. So, I mean, so far it is not actually, you know, a uniter. Is his team concerned about those numbers, you think?

[23:40:20] ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, he had -- his approval ratings and likability numbers have not been strong for quite some time. Now he is in office. And to be honest, I don't think their team cares about popularity. They care about performance. They care about policy. They care about promises. And they are following through on all of those.

And as Joseph said, look, he campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare and on building a wall and securing the border and he is already out of the gate passing executive actions that will just to do exactly that. So I think you have to give him credit for focusing on what's important as doing the job of president. Not being like president of his fraternity. He is president of the United States.

LEMON: But hang on. His team doesn't care about the polls and the numbers. I mean, you know, he does. Come on, Alice. I just wonder if you're worried about -- you can weigh in - the independent numbers. Because that is where --.

BORELLI: That is certainly. And we saw from the coalition that actually elected Donald Trump, he pull over a significant number of the independents. But I will point out that this Q poll is not the only poll out there. And three other polls have him much higher including the Rasmussen poll which was last week was gospel when it had Barack Obama at 60 percent and the media was talking about how he has got the highest approval ratings ever. Now this week, Rasmussen has Donald Trump at 59 percent.

LEMON: You guys always throw everyone at the media together. You tell CNN that -

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I just want to say that we never use Rasmussen polls because they are heavily weighted the other way.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It is not reliable.

BORELLI: The "Huffington Post," for example, the "Huffington Post" did a big story on Barack Obama's Rasmussen numbers --.

LEMON: You believe the "Huffington post?"

BORELLI: I wouldn't say that exactly. Every once in a while broke clocks, right.

JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: These numbers are not surprising certainly. Remember, Donald Trump didn't win the popular vote in the election. That's just fact.

LEMON: It is well pointing that out.

TASINI: No. But I'm not - I didn't mean that to bring that up in terms of illegitimacy. He won the Electoral College. That's clear. But if you are looking at popularity, what polls say clearly, a majority of the American people does not support Donald Trump including those people who didn't vote. We know a lot of people don't go to the polls. And I assume, I don't know if they were - those are registered votes or just population in general. But I think that is reflected.

And the second thing is look what is happening in the street. There is a rebellion going out outside the country. There is - the street, what happened in the march. That was unprecedented. The number of people that turned out to protest against Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not a liked politician. And he is reinforcing that by frankly his personal behavior. When you try to govern by twitter, I think people out there, the average person is reacting to that this man is out of control.

LEMON: Even his own supporters say they wish he would show a little bit --

BORELLI: He's out of control.

LEWIS: It's polarized country, too. And I do think that we had - I mean, if Hillary Clinton were president, I don't think her numbers would be terribly high right now either.

LEMON: Right. And you know, my colleague Van Jones said, when you were talking about the number of people who are out there the day after the inauguration. He said all you have to do is look back, remember. We covered the tea party very intensively. Al you just have to look back and tea party and that how those things can become a movement.

So when I bring up independent numbers, and all those numbers, I just wonder if that is concerning. Because listen. At the same time, 53 percent of Americans say that they are optimistic about the next four years, 44 percent say that he will help rather than hurt the economy.

Again, you know, those aren't great numbers. So you can -- should there be some concern within the Republican Party, within the Trump administration that --? And that maybe he can't --

TASINI: Yes. But that then reflects itself in two ways. Either in two years in the congressional elections because that's the Republicans control Congress and the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And midterms are going to be really tough.

TASINI: And so, in the next two years, it if going to be very hard for Democrats to stop most things with the exception potentially of the Supreme Court nominee. But that's different than the movement in the streets.

And I want to say as a Democrat that rebellion, at least the things that I have seen is also against the Democratic Party, not just Donald Trump. There is rebellion against the elites.

BORELLI: They should be concern. I think Pink Hats are as poised to be the uniform of a new movement as red baseball caps were last year. And if the Republicans aren't on guard, they could lose some seats in 2018 and 2020, of course.

The thing they are doing, though, is focusing on who is the Trump coalition. You saw the women's marchers focusing on social issues. They are not going to win over to the Republican Party, people who are fundamentally disagree with them on social issues. The blue collar, blue Democrats in rust belt states that formed a coalition to be Donald - to win for Donald Trump, those are the people he is working for right now, getting focusing on jobs, focusing on American products, focusing on renegotiating.

[23:45:01] LEMON: There were people out there at that march though who were from those rust belt states and there are people who are -- those people, not all of them, are happy with the Democratic Party.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So you could pull those in. Look, I got to get to break.

STEWART: I think the difference is they need to organize and they need to find a single message and resonate on that because the tea party was limited government and fighting Obamacare. The Pink Hats, they were all over the map with their issues but they were - they has a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, they just need to organize and find things.

LEMON: And do -- which was --

TASINI: It was smart.

LEMON: Trump campaign man - I mean, immigration, build a wall, jobs, and those were among the two, right that you just kept hammering home. Hillary Clinton had whole cacophony of things where you were like, OK, so where is she on this. That's all he talked about.

STEWART: Absolutely.

LEMON: Basically two or three things.

We will be right back. We will continue our conversation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:49:44] LEMON: Back now with my panel first to Jonathan Tasini.

Jonathan, unlike the last president, President Trump has a Congress that wants to do business. Here's a vice president Mike Pence speaking to congressional Republicans today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The point is by sticking to the president's agenda, we are going to kick the economy into overdrive, we are going unleash opportunity and prosperity, the likes of which this country has not seen in generations. So as I said on my first visit to Capitol Hill after the election, I say with great respect to members of the House and Senate, buckle up. We are ready to go to work.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:50:21] LEMON: So he -- the president has signed a lot of executive orders. Do they have any teeth?

TASINI: Well, it depends on executive orders that require money. He is going to have to go to Congress and get money, for example, I assume to build a wall and other things like that. There will be some lawsuits around the executive orders. For example, his threat that he will withhold money for cities or states that want to provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants who Trump tries to deport. He will try to withhold that money and there have already been signs that there will be lawsuits around that. So we will see.

STEWART: That's not going to scare him. I mean, a threat of a lawsuit is not going to scare him. But the thing with that is withholding funding to sanctuary cities is nothing more than him asking these cities to enforce existing immigration laws. Why is that so hard? Why would they have a problem with that?

And with the money for building the wall, there is already funding stream in place under a George Bush law that is sitting there. They just have to continue the funding for that. So I don't see that being that big of an issue.

TASINI: I thought actually the price hike that they are talking about for this crazy stupid wall is completely unnecessary because it's a solution for a problem that does not exist. That money now -- they are talking about a price tag of $14 billion, $20 billion. That's not money that --.

LEMON: I don't think you can say there is a problem that doesn't exist.

TASINI: It doesn't exist.

LEMON: I think that you can say that it is a problem that they are making out to be bigger than it is.

TASINI: No. It doesn't exist.

LEMON: I understand what you are saying that you think that more people are going back the other way.

BORELLI: I disagree.

TASINI: No. It is actually a fact and I now can tell you that this is the Pew study said that actually the number of Mexicans who are coming to the country have declined dramatically.

LEMON: So it just said. The people are still coming.

BORELLI: They said Americans are going through Mexico, but that is not the point. Even if you look at just beyond the immigration issue, the Obama administration put out a study in 2011 saying there is $193 billion economic loss just through the drug trafficking that predominantly comes in.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hold on.

TASINI: But that's not about the drug trafficking. That's about -- no, no, no.

LEMON: That's the narrative about it.

TASINI: There is no problem in terms of the flow of people that this wall is required to deal with.

LEWIS: There is also I think --

TASINI: It was all about fear and division. It's political.

LEWIS: Well, I think there is a positive thing that could come from this, too, though, which is to say that if we ever want to do immigration reform, if it is something with the dreamers, it is treating, you know, people who came here a long time ago compassionately, I don't think the American public is going to go for it until they believe that we actually can and have secured the border. So building a wall --?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I want you, guys, to discuss this because again, we are dealing in facts here. Jonathan is right that more people are going back. Our Ed Lavandera is doing a whole series on the border and the border wall. You still can tunnel under the wall. Most people come in to the country illegally on airplanes from places that are not Mexico. And they overstay their visa in numbers that are larger than people who are coming from Mexico. That is the real immigration problem.

BORELLI: That is why he is adding 10,000 ICE officer, 5,000 border customs agents. You know, this is a bigger problem.

LEMON: That's not what people believe. That's not what people understand. They think its people who are coming from Mexico. When you think of immigration, you think of Mexican immigrants.

TASINI: Here is the fundamental problem. That going back to the campaign, what Donald Trump used the wall to symbolize was division and fear. And what he said to people, particularly in the Midwest and it worked politically in the election was it is them. You should fear those people. They are taking your jobs away which is false. That is not the reason that people have lost jobs in the industrial Midwest. That's not the reason that wages have been declining. It's because of corporate greed and the way corporations have shifted jobs. It's not because - no, no, not true. No, it is a driver. It's not the main thing. It's not because of people coming from Mexico. It is a complete lie.

BORELLI: But if you remember, ten year ago, 20 years ago to mass point, when a moderate position was we should allow people who are here to stay here. But before we do that we have to build a wall. That was something that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton maybe even Barack Obama at one time --

LEMON: You did preface it by saying 10 or 20 years ago. I mean, things have changed. More people were coming in. I'm not saying it is right. I'm just putting it in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even Reagan's amnesty.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: I think the American people are generous and compassionate. But if time after time you tell them we are going to secure the border. And then - but we are going to do amnesty and you never secure the border --

[23:55:00] LEMON: But you have to tell them - you have be honest with them about the facts that the border, just as you have to be honest with people about the coal industry. And I understand my brothers and sisters in Coal County are hurting, but some of those jobs are never coming back because of, what you said, automation. Unless you are going to make a cell phone out of coal, it's not going to happen.

LEWIS: But you know, the coaling, the manufacturing is a prime example where American manufacturing is actually more efficient than ever, more productive than ever, but it takes fewer people to run a factory.

LEMON: Yes. Alice?

STEWART: Well, I think there are several reasons behind building the wall. A, obviously, the influx of people coming here and taking haven this this country using our goods and services and healthcare and education without having to pay for it. There is also the influx of drugs which is a big factor that President Trump mentioned numerous times as he was on the campaign trail and bringing weapons into the country.

But also, I talked with farmers and those that live along the border, they said it is hell on earth along the border there with these illegals coming in to this country. And the first - and the easiest way to stop the problem is to build the wall and then we deal with all the other problems after this.

LEMON: I do hear people saying you don't understand unless you live there. But the raw facts of it all show that immigration -- the bulk of it.

TASINI: And it's a positive factor actually in the economy. All people contribute to the economy. It is all - study show that immigrants, billions of dollars on the economy.

LEMON: Thanks, everyone. That's it for us. Good night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END