Return to Transcripts main page
Trump to Build Wall, Rein in Illegal Immigration; Trump Stands Ground on Voter Fraud; California's Anthony Rendon Talks Trump Wall, Illegal Immigration Plans; British P.M. to Meet with Trump; Activists Rally Against Trump at Sundance. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired January 26, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:13] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour --
SESAY: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
Donald Trump says the U.S. could start building a wall within on its border with Mexico within months. And that's just a part of the president's sweeping plan to reign in illegal immigration.
CNN's Senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, reports.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a campaign promise no more. Now it's reality as President Trump signed an executive order instructing the federal government to start construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The secretary of Homeland Security, working with myself and my staff, will begin immediate construction of a border wall.
ACOSTA: The president unveiled the executive actions during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security.
In addition to the wall, the orders direct DHS to step up the identification and deportation of undocumented criminals as well as strip away federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities that harbor undocumented immigrants.
But the moves are seen as an insult in Mexico where former president, Vicente Fox, has adamantly said his country will not, as President Trump puts it, pay for the wall.
VICENTE FOX, FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT: I'm not going to pay for that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) wall.
ACOSTA: Yes, they will, the president told ABC news. But only as a reimbursement after U.S. taxpayers initially foot the bill.
TRUMP: I'm just telling you, there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand, what I'm doing is good for the United States. It's also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a stable, solid Mexico.
ACOSTA: The president isn't stopping there. Next, he's expected to sign an executive order temporarily suspending the nation's refugee program and restrict visas to people entering the U.S. from what the administration calls terror-prone countries.
But the White House is pushing back on reports of another executive order that would preserve the terror detention facility at Guantanamo, reconsider harsh interrogation techniques and secret CIA interrogation sites used during the Bush administration.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is not a White House document.
ACOSTA: Even though his new defense secretary, James Mattis, has said such harsh methods don't work, the president told ABC he supports tactics like waterboarding.
TRUMP: I have spoken, as recently as 24 hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question, does it work? Does torturer work? And the answerer was yes, absolutely.
ACOSTA: Republican Senator and former POW, John McCain, is saying no way, warning in a tweet, "POTUS can sign whatever executive orders he likes, but the law is the law. We're not bringing back torture."
Mr. Trump is also standing his ground on his false claims of widespread voter fraud in the U.S, tweeting he's asking for a major investigation into voting irregularities he claims cost him the popular vote, a probe the White House suggests could target the nation's biggest states.
SPICER: There's lot of states where we didn't compete in where that's not necessarily the case. You look at California and New York.
ACOSTA: Democratic leaders are alarmed.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I, frankly, feel very sad about the president making this claim. I felt sorry for him. I even prayed for him. But then I prayed for the United States of America.
ACOSTA: And the White House insists the president is determined to intervene in high-crime cities like Chicago where he tweeted he will "send in the feds" if it street violence continues.
SPICER: I think what the president is upset about is turning on the television and seeing Americans get killed by shootings, seeing people walking down the street and getting shot down.
ACOSTA (on camera): President Trump was scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto next week. In a video message to Mexicans, Pena Nieto did not scrap the trip but he emphasized Mexico is not paying for that wall.
Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
SESAY: Well, joining us here in L.A., Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and the senior editor for "The Atlantic."
Ron, where to start? So much to discuss.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you again, first of all.
SESAY: Good to see you.
The president is fixated on these debunked claims of illegally cast ballots.
We need to listen to what he said to ABC's David Muir Wednesday when he was pushed on the fact that these are unfounded, unverified and, quite frankly --
[02:05:16] BROWNSTEIN: They're implausible.
SESAY: Implausible. Take a listen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: What you've presented so far has been debunked, been called false.
TRUMP: Look at the Pew report.
MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night and he told me they found no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?
MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud?
TRUMP: Excuse me. Then why did he write the report?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Why is he doubling down on this?
BROWNSTEIN: First of all, there is no evidence, right? When the state of Pennsylvania, under Republicans, a few years ago, tried to impose some of the same strict voter I.D. rules that other Republican states have done, they stipulated in court that they could not identify a single case of voter fraud. There is virtually no in- person voter fraud in the U.S.
Look, I think there are three different things converging. First, clearly, President Trump is sensitive to any questions about his legitimacy, whether it's related to the Russian hack or that he lost the popular vote by more than 2.9 million votes. Hillary Clinton won by more than Jimmy Carter of John F. Kennedy. Second, I think there is a dimension of this, which also goes to the executive order today on sanctuary cities that is really cities. When he talks about voter fraud --
SESAY: That's code?
BROWNSTEIN: -- that is code for African-Americans in cities. And third, there's a political agenda. There are a number of Republicans -- most Republican-controlled states, in fact, have moved to imposed tighter restrictions on voting, higher hurdles with voter I.D. laws. And if he, in fact, goes forward with an investigation, to some extent, it may be an attempt to lay the groundwork of more of that kind of initiative, something that Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, has supported in the past.
SESAY: Yeah. That's exactly right. Many people are saying, is this about disenfranchisement of minority voters? And is this about voter suppression? Is that the end game here?
BROWNSTEIN: It could be. Look, and Republicans will argue that what we're doing is safeguarding the ballot. In fact, when you look, for example, at the court ruling in North Carolina said that their voter protection laws were surgically targeted at reducing African-American turnout.
But, look, the larger dimension here is that Hillary Clinton won the largest counties in America. The cities are the font of resistance and opposition to Donald Trump, which we saw last Saturday when literally one out of every 100 Americans was on the street protesting, the big majority of them in the biggest cities. If you look at the sanctuary city proposal, if you look at the voter fraud investigation, they both converge at that urban -- and what he said about Chicago, sending in the feds. All of this is about sharpening the conflict between a non-urban Republican coalition and an urban America that is the backbone of the Democratic coalition.
SESAY: To any of our viewers out there who are maybe still uncertain whether there's any basis to what the president said, let's play the sound from the author of the Pew report and listen to what he has to say, the very report the president is citing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BECKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER, CENTER FOR ELECTION INNOVATION & RESEARCH: There is absolutely no evidence of voter fraud even approaching that scale. Does voter fraud exist? Yes, it does, in very small numbers. And the election officials around the country are working to investigate and prosecute the dozens of cases that might occur nationwide in an election like this. But three to five million illegal votes, that would have been discovered, not just on Election Day but well before. Fraudulent registrations not matching the driver's license numbers and Social Security numbers, flagged for I.D. under federal law, extra-provisional ballots being cast, all of these things we would have seen, and there was zero evidence of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Ron, the end goal, what their objective is, is unclear. But in an attempt to get there, they're trying to march the U.S. public down the alternative facts route? Is that what's going on?
BROWNSTEIN: I think the end goal probably is not the first goal for Donald Trump. I think this is fundamentally about his recoiling at any suggestion that his victory was not legitimate. He has said, from the beginning, I lost the popular vote because there was so many illegal votes cast. I think it's the is the first, it's more of a personal motivation than a policy or political motivation. But I also think it is about -- there does seem to be offenses on many fronts about delegitimizing any institution that criticizes him.
One thing to keep in mind in that is it's not only with Democratic secretaries of state but Republican secretaries of state, in Ohio, in Texas and states like that, that have said there is simply no evidence for what the president is saying.
On the one hand, you have an administration that is moving very aggressively on all sorts of fronts on a policy and showing that they mean to do a lot of what they said. On the other hand, you had we continue to be embroiled in this endless series of controversies that extend the campaign in a way that I think raises a lot -- you know, kind of reinforces that basic doubt that he faces from so many voters about his temperament.
[02:40:07] SESAY: And this question of the investigation, that he said what will take place. And let's put up the tweets in which he announced this was going to be happening and share it: "I'll be asking for major investigation into voter fraud, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal, and even those registered to vote who are dead and many for a long time. Depending on results, we will strengthen voting procedures."
BROWNSTEIN: And that is the end game, right? I mean, that is - as we said, Republican-controlled states have moved to tighten the restrictions on voting. The Obama Justice Department, in many cases, went to court against them. They lost the pre-clearance authority under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through a decision in the Supreme Court, but they still had the authority to go into court again. And they were part of, for example, the lawsuit that overturned what North Carolina did. Now you could have an administration going in the opposite direction, supporting and even encouraging states to tighten restrictions on voting. SESAY: Let me ask you this. In terms of this investigation, first of
all, in your mind, is this a DOJ investigation?
BROWNSTEIN: No one seems to know what he has in mind.
SESAY: No one seems to know. But if he goes down that route, people will say, is this the politicization of the DOJ?
BROWNSTEIN: Certainly, if the DOJ is being enlisted in an effort to produce a preconceived set of facts. There's simply no evidence. It's not only there's no evidence. There's evidence to the contrary.
SESAY: Would they go against the president who has publicly stated his position?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, this is the question that goes beyond this specific. It goes to all of the intelligence disputes that he's having with -- will Donald Trump accept facts that dispute his world view? You remember the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great Senator and U.N. ambassador, famously said, "We are all entitled to our own opinions. We are not entitled to our own facts." That is now under dispute and at risk here in the U.S.
SESAY: On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order to authorize the diversion of funding for the wall, the big beautiful wall, as he described it, on the U.S./Mexico border. This was a cornerstone campaign promise.
But, Ron, let's put up this poll for our viewers, the CBS poll. 59 percent of Americans oppose it. Only 37. I mean, this is the kind of thing you got to ask, what are the political risks down the road for the president?
BROWNSTEIN: Trump has been about deepening but not broadening. We see, in this first week, an agenda very much aimed at the coalition that elected him but offers very little to those beyond it. In fact, he seems to be provoking them when roughly three million people demonstrated on Saturday.
There's a limit to how far he can go towards building this wall without Congress. He signed an executive order today. He can move around some money, but the estimates are this is $14 billion, $15 billion, $16 billion. There's not $16 billion sitting around under the couch in the DHS for him to pick up the quarters. Eventually, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have to provide him the money to build the wall. And even Republicans along the route in Texas, for example, have questioned whether this is an effective and efficient use of money.
But, again, during the campaign, there were Trump defenders who said the problem with the press is they take him literally, but not seriously. His supporters take him seriously, but not literally. It turned out, taking him literally was pretty good guidance. Because in this first week, they are moving aggressively on many different fronts to do what they said they would do. And he won with a very narrow Electoral College majority and lost the popular vote. He is pursuing the kind of change that you usually see after a landslide, and it's a formula for heightened conflict in the months ahead. Just look, again, tonight, a pop-up protest in Washington Square Park. Thousands of people in the street. This is going to be a very contentious time in America.
SESAY: It certainly is. There's so much to discuss. We're going to keep this conversation going in the next hour.
But I'm going to ask you, very quickly, all of these executive actions, this flurry this week, are we looking at an imperial presidency? Is this the --
BROWNSTEIN: I would say we're looking at good week for Stephen Bannon, who's seeing those kind of populist, nationalist, insular themes on immigration and trade, really move to the forefront. I do think Donald Trump is going to push the boundaries of executive authority. And with that fifth vote, they will get, at some point, on the Supreme Court, they may have a lot of leeway to do that.
[02:14:36] SESAY: Ron Brownstein, always providing great insight.
Next on NEWSROOM L.A., an aerial view of the U.S.-Mexico border where President Trump wants to put a wall through the rugged landscape.
And later, a look at the life of trailblazing television star and activist, Mary Tyler Moore.
SESAY: Hello, everyone. As we've been reporting, U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing the federal government to begin building a wall along the border with Mexico. It's still not clear how he plans to pay for it. Mexico insists it won't pay for any wall. Well, walls and fences already exist along one-third of the 3,000-kilometer border between the U.S. and Mexico.
CNN's Ed Lavandera recently toured parts off the rugged frontier where barricades would have to be erected.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This journey across the U.S./Mexico begins in south Texas where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico and on a rugged ride on an all-terrain vehicle with Robert Cameron. He runs an ATV border touring business in the small town of Progresso.
(on camera): You think people have the impression it's a scary, dangerous place? ROBERT CAMERON, MANAGER, ATV BOARD TOURING BUSINESS: Oh, yeah.
Scary, dangerous place, absolutely. It's not as bad as people make it seem to be.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cameron was born in Mexico, is now a U.S. citizen. Was a long-time Democrat, until Donald Trump came along and made him a Republican.
Living and working on the border reveals a blurry reality. Cameron fully supports the idea of Trump's border wall but every day he sees the holes in that plan.
A few months ago, he recorded this video of what appeared to be smugglers with packs. It's the kind of story countless people can share. But this is an area where a border fence is already in place, yet drugs and human smuggling keep coming.
[02:20:21] CAMERON: It hasn't stopped them. Absolutely not. You got this all the way to the eye can see over there and
LAVANDERA (on camera): It keeps going?
CAMERON: It keeps going. But then it's like -- they start here? I don't know. I'm sure there's a reason. They ran out of money?
LAVANDERA: This is the landscape in the Big Bend area of Texas. How in the world do you build a wall in this kind of terrain?
(voice-over): Marcos Parerez (ph) lives in a far-flung outpost in the Big Bend region of west Texas. He's a former Big Ben Park ranger and now takes visitors on aerial tours of some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.
MARCOS PAREREZ (ph), FORMER BIG BEN PARK RANGER & AERIAL TOUR DIRECTOR: I want to know where in all of that do you put a wall?
LAVANDERA (on camera): This is some of the most rugged terrain. Hard to imagine anyone would try to cross illegally through here. Simply too treacherous.
(voice-over): Every night, 88-year-old Pamela Taylor, out of compassion, leaves bottled water outside her home for migrants moving north and the border patrol agents chasing them.
Taylor voted for Trump and wants to see illegal immigration controlled. She once found an undocumented migrant hiding from Border Patrol agents in her living room. But she warns the rest of the country that a wall won't work.
PAMELA TAYLOR, LIVES NEAR MEXICO BORDER: That wall is not going to stop them. If it's 20 feet high, they're going to get a 21-foot ladder, right?
LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, along the Texas/Mexico border.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SESAY: With us from Sacramento, California, is Anthony Rendon, speaker of the California Assembly.
Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for being with us.
What are your thoughts on the -- I guess, if you will, the immigration landscape that President Trump is erecting, certainly, in this first week of being in office, as you see he signed executive orders on erecting a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, stepping up efforts to deport illegal immigrants and talking about defunding sanctuary cities? What are your thoughts?
ANTHONY RENDON, SPEAKER, CALIFONRIA ASSEMBLY: I think the landscape he's talking about and then he seems - that he seems to see seems completely unethical to who we are in California and what immigrants mean to us in this state. In this state, you see an economy expanding. You see unemployment that's been cut in half and as low as it's been in a generation. You see the two largest ports in the United States both in southern California. You see Silicon Valley. You see a huge agricultural economy in this state and immigrants contributing to all of those sectors and our economy and to our state overall. They're a huge part of our economy, a huge part of our culture, a huge part of our art scene. They are California. And it's a very, very different scene than what the president is talking about.
SESAY: I mean, let's talk about this move that he's announced that effectively sanctuary cities will face a loss in federal funding if they don't comply with federal law and cooperate with immigration officials to deport illegal immigrants. First of all, what do you think of that? Where do you see this going? What position would California take?
RENDON: I think the president has a fundamental misunderstanding of what a sanctuary city status is. The sanctuary city status was meant to free up law enforcement officials so that law enforcement officials could focus on real crime and arresting real criminals. The suspension of those types of programs are really counterproductive to those crime-fighting efforts.
SESAY: Give us some perspective for our viewers around the world. How many area, jurisdictions in California meet that definition of a sanctuary city.
RENDON: There's quite a few. And just this past week, Santa Ana in Orange County filed for sanctuary city status as well. You see them up and down the state of California, throughout the state, and these are all understand the contribution immigrants have made to our state.
SESAY: Mr. Speaker, as you talk about them being up and down the state, can the state afford to stand up to the federal government and say no we're going to continue our actions of supporting illegal immigrants in our city, in our community. Can they afford that loss of funding?
RENDON: I would say we can't afford to not stand up to this administration. This is an administration that is already attacking our immigrant population. And by doing so, they're attacking California. They're attacking our core values and who we are as a state. We're going to continue to stand up to Donald Trump and say that's not the way we do business in California.
[02:25:29] SESAY: I want to play some sound for you from the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio. Listen to how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: In New York City, this executive order does not change who we are or how we will go about doing our work. The stroke of a pen in Washington does not change the people of New York City or our values. It does not change how this city government protects its people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Strong words from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Speaker Rendon, what is your message to President Trump?
RENDON: My message is that California feels the same way as New York City feels. This election, this president doesn't change who we are. He doesn't change what's in our hearts, he doesn't change what we believe.
SESAY: Speaker Anthony Rendon, thank you so much for joining us. Very much appreciated.
RENDON: Thank you.
SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., the message the British prime minister is expected to deliver to the U.S. president. Details on Theresa May's upcoming meeting with Donald Trump.
Plus, millions of people flooded the streets, rallying for political change and equity last weekend. So, what comes next? That question is just ahead.
SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
The headlines from this hour --
[02:30:48] SESAY: Britain's prime minister is expected to reinforce the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K. during her America visit Theresa May will be the first world leader to hold face-to-face talks with President Trump since his inauguration. And trade is expected to be high on the agenda as she plans Britain's exit from the European Union.
Max Foster joins us now from London with more. Max, I mean, what are the realistic expectations for the U.S./U.K. relationship with Donald Trump in the Oval Office?
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDEDNT: Well, Theresa May is going to make clear that she wants to renew and refresh that special relationship that Britain always assumes has with the United States. And she will argue that partnership between the U.S. and the U.K. has created many of the institutions and cultures around the world on which it's based. She's going to try to reestablish old partnerships and new ones as well in this post-Brexit world, so once Britain leaves the European Union.
In order to leave the European Union, there will be costs. She needs to makeup with those costs. A trade deal with the United States will certainly help with that. But there's a basic conflict there as well, Isha, because what Donald Trump is doing is signaling his future and he believes that's in bilateral relationships with different countries as opposed to working with the European Union, for example. Theresa May believes in a global Britain working with other countries and does believe in free trade and trade blocks. She wants to work with the European Union in the future. A basic conflict there. So when you see them talking about a trade deal between the U.K. and the U.S., both countries are doing it for different reasons. The challenge this week will be to make it look as though this were a match made in heaven, as it were.
SESAY: And, Max, Theresa May having to navigate this brave new world with Donald Trump at the helm and the new relationship, but there's the risk to the relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. There's many more days and months of negotiations to be done with them.
FOSTER: Absolutely. She's about to start negotiations. There's already going to be very tough negotiations because officials in Brussels believe she wants to cherry pick the best parts that she wants Britain to remain part of. Already that tension there. But for her to do a trade deal while she's part of the European Union is -- you're not meant to be doing trade deals as a member of the E.U. That's going to cause upset in Brussels, and particularly with Donald Trump, because there's a growing feeling in Brussels that Donald Trump wants to destroy the European Union, and he may be using this deal with the United Kingdom to try to undermine the union and perhaps tempt other members to leave it. So, she could be seen as signing with the enemy, in a way, by signing this deal and could be weakening her position going into the negotiations when, in theory, having a deal with the U.S. was meant to strengthen her position. So, it's very, very delicate for her going to those talks with Donald Trump.
SESAY: And another area they're watching is whether she'll raise some of the contentious statements he's made in the leadup to pursuing presidency. Theresa May said she will speak frankly, but will she speak harshly?
FOSTER: That's the big test, and certainly, in this country, as we've suggested. She says this special relationship allows her to be honest with the U.S. president. Women's issues, she's already said that was unacceptable. And she'll have to stick to that. One big issue was this idea of torture and waterboarding. One of the
fundamental elements is that Britain is America's biggest intelligence-sharing partner and they work on certain principals, but there's a red line, and that is the legal red line. And in this country, certainly, any form of torture and waterboarding is illegal and the Britain security services wouldn't be able to laisse or be part of that with the CIA, for example. So, she'll have to make that very clear, indeed. I think there's certainly concern in the British intelligence community that any move towards torture would be a big problem in that relationship.
[02:35:27] SESAY: Another very big test for Theresa May.
Max Foster joining us there from London. Always a pleasure, my friend. Thank you.
Now fans, friends and co-stars are remembering actress, Mary Tyler Moore. She died Wednesday at the age of 80. Moore rose to stardom on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" before starring in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." She played a journalist and budding feminist and helped to usher in a new era for women in television. Moore later advocated for juvenile diabetes research and revealed her struggle with alcoholism.
SESAY: President Donald Trump's election has further exposed a political divide in the United States, and sometimes it takes a mass movement, like this, to confront a problem so deeply rooted. Millions of people around the world participated in the women's march last week. It was the largest demonstration in American history and a bold plea to forge a new path for the years ahead.
But the march forward for equal rights didn't end there. Thousands of other activists and a number of celebrities rallied at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, this past weekend.
Actress Aisha Tyler was there leading chants and educating others about the power of peaceful assembly. She said this on Twitter, "Taking to the streets to voice your opinion in the company of like- minded individuals is the most American thing you can do."
Aisha joins us now to discuss how being vocal has the potential to produce political change.
AISHA TYLER, ACTRESS & ACTIVIST: Hi, there.
SESAY: Hi, there. So good to have you with us.
AISHA TYLER: Thrilled to be here.
SESAY: You were out there in Park City. Why? What drove you to take to the streets?
TYLER: Well, I think you said in the open. That was a monumental day. In as much we were looking at the photos of New York. The demonstrations happened in all 50 states and every continent. I think it was a powerful message and I wanted to be a part of it for my own reasons and also because my mother was a student organizers. I understand how powerful organized assembly the freedom of speech and assembly in this country, how powerful it could be. And I didn't want to miss it. I wanted to be a part of it.
SESAY: You and Connie Britton got the crowd to take a people's pledge or oath. Talk about that moment and why that was important to you.
[02:40:02] TYLER: I think a lot of people in the aftermath of the election are feeling a lot of despair, and that oath was reminding people that they have power to change the state of affairs in this country. And that -- to energize them. I left that day feeling energized and optimistic. And you know that was about telling people, you, it's up to you and all of us to defend our American principles. It's not going to be done for us. And the political system that we have here is a representative of the people and it's the people's job to keep an eye on our elected representatives and hold them to the fundamental principles that we hold dear.
SESAY: A lot of people are asking the question, where does this energy -- you know, you talked about feeling energized and optimistic. Where does it go and what does it do next? Does this become a movement like the Tea Party or Occupy that had this galvanizing effect but didn't really achieve anything?
SESAY: What's your thought?
TYLER: That's a really good question. With Occupy and with the Tea Party, they did fizzle but I don't think we were in the state of political crisis we are in now. When I think about the history of the country, and what organized protests can do and how it translates into ongoing political energy organization -- every single great move forward for social freedoms in this country, personal freedoms, has resulted from assembly from nonviolent assembly.
TYLER: From the abolitionist movement to suffrage to Stonewall, every leap forward has come from people protesting and assembling and speaking out and then taking the energy and putting it into action. And the oath was not let's about, hey, let's not all commiserate about our disappointment. Let's talk about the fact that if people had given up during slavery or suffrage or gay rights, or gay rights, we wouldn't be here right now.
My mom drank out of a colored water fountain. Not my grandmother. It's one generation. We don't have an excuse. We have to keep fighting. That's the nature of who we are as a country. I think, you know, we had a big swing forward with the last president where we made progress on social justice issues. Typically, culture is a pendulum, and we have swung backward.
TYLER: That's how we feel about it. When you look at the protests the biggest protest in the history of the country, and probably the globe. The fact there was so much sympathetic protest in other countries shows you that the people who were marching this weekend are on the right side of history.
SESAY: As a creative, such as yourself, as an actor, what is the role of art and culture at a time like this where there is so much division and so much fear? How do you respond with your work? How should Hollywood and creatives respond?
TYLER: I just want to say, for the record, I'm, first and foremost, an American. I'm not speaking out because I'm famous or work in Hollywood. People like to dismiss actors or creatives by saying who cares what you think, what do you know. I don't know any more than you. I'm just a passionate patriot. I pay taxes and care about the country. So, I'm hoping, as an artist, that I'm just able to reach people who may be a fan of mine on both sides of the aisle. I engage with people online all the time, not to tell them they're wrong, but just to try to bring people out of this kind of calcified separation that we've fallen into, which I think is incredibly destructive.
SESAY: And probably incredibly difficult in the months ahead to bridge.
TYLER: Yeah. We have two options. We can bury our heads in the sand or we can get out there and engage in dialogue and we can fight for the principles we believe in, in this country. And that's my goal.
SESAY: Aisha, such a pleasure.
TYLER: What a joy.
SESAY: Thank you.
TYLER: Thanks for having me.
SESAY: Thank you.
And thank you for joining me. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Isha Sesay.
"World Sport" with Patrick Snell is up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[03:00:00] ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)