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Trump's First Week; Working Orders; Holding Hands or Building Walls?; What's the Torture Policy?; A Hell of a Week; New Executive Order Suspends Refugees for 120 Days; The President Declares War with the Media; The Battle Over "Alternative Facts"; Trump, Bannon Call Media "The Opposition"; Trump Foreign Policy: Building Bridges or Walls?: Does Mexico Wall Make Any Sense?; Trump on Torture: "It Does Work"

Aired January 27, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. A special edition of "Smerconish" starts right now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Hey, welcome to a special primetime edition of "Smerconish." Week one of the Trump presidency. I'm Michael Smerconish.

It has been a hell of a week. The most politically tumultuous in the three decades that I've been paying very close attention. Just take a look at today. The executive orders keep coming. The latest, suspension of all refugee admissions for 120 days and for Syrians until further notice. In foreign affairs, the President held hands with the British prime minister, but canceled next week's meeting with the Mexican president due to the border wall dispute. And their joint statements reveal a crucial disagreement.

Tomorrow, he's calling Vladimir Putin, of whom today he suddenly remarked, "I don't say good, bad or indifferent. I don't know the gentleman." So how will that chat go? He's also dialing back his plan to bring back torture saying he'll defer to Secretary "Mad Dog" Mattis, but he still thinks it's effective. I'll talk tonight to the man who implemented enhanced interrogation post 9/11.

And, as you know, I like to receive and comment in real-time on tweets that you send me. So please, tweet me @smerconish and I will read some live on the air. As a matter of fact they're already coming in. What does Nomad say? "Smerconish, you are an effing disgrace to independents," whoa, "as you had your head up Trump's ass for weeks. GRFOOH." I'll have to ask my kids about that. Et cetera, et cetera.

Hey, Nomad, you know what's unique about your tweet? Is that normally I catch hell from the left and the right. So I guess tonight is unique for a whole other reason.

But first, how is he doing? That, like everything else in this country, depends upon your silo, your bubble. And I know this from my personal interactions, hours spent this week conversing with my SiriusXM radio listeners and many social media exchanges. Here's how I see the divide. To the critics, the 73 million who voted for someone other than Donald Trump, this thing is already a hot mess. We have a president still fighting over the size of his inaugural crowd. He sends bombastic, petty tweets. He made an overly political speech standing in sacred space at the CIA, lies about voter fraud, entertains thoughts of reinstituting torture, has already offended the Mexican president, now wants to stick the American people with the bill for the wall. And has a senior adviser openly telling the media they are the opposition.

But none of that seems to matter to the 46 percent who voted for him. They are elated. Here's what they see. A media-driven fight over crowd size, immediate action, like he promised, to end Obamacare, a reinstated abortion ban, the end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA on life support, a revival of the Keystone Pipeline, follow through on that pledge to build a wall, and a willingness to send the Feds to end all that carnage in Chicago.

There's not much overlap in those two views. But there is a way of working through all this. The policy disputes are mostly honest differences. We had an election. One side won. The other side lost. The losing side has to face policy consequences. And the 46 percent? They're in charge.

But what is unacceptable is government by distortion, by fear, by intimidation, making unfounded assertions about voter fraud or needlessly insulting the people of Mexico. That's intolerable and left undeterred, that can only metastasize to more impactful issues.

Now there is, of course, an institution that should be playing a moderating role with regard to this divide. I speak of the Congress. Congress can limit the first use of nuclear weapons, halt the building of walls without authority, and sign off on whether there are sanctions with Russia. I also believe that the Congress has a leadership role to play in the court of public opinion and in private discussions with the President about modulating his behavior when necessary.

So, here's hoping that they fill the enormous void. You know, I've always tried to balance this program with voices from all sides. And just last April we held a focus group in Philadelphia made up of voters who had changed their registration to Republican so they could vote in the primary. Here are some highlights.


[21:05:05] JERRY ZIMMER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I truly believe he cares about us. I have always been a proud American. I'm tired of apologizing for being a proud American.

MARY LOU ZIMMER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He started saying things like the wall, like immigration.


SMERCONISH: Some of those folks are back tonight to see what they think of the new president. Jimmy Finn and Jerry and Mary Lou Zimmer.

All right, guys, it's only a week, maybe it's unfair. Give him a grade. How was the week?

M. ZIMMER: Well, Michael, I think I have to differ from your opinion. I think I would give him an A.

SMERCONISH: Hey, my opinion was to layout the way both sides see this because there doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground. You give him an A. What's his grade?

J. ZIMMER: I'm giving him an A minus.

SMERCONISH: Why the minus? What didn't he do that earned him the minus? You --

J. ZIMMER: Hillary's still walking free and the Clintons are still hoarding and stealing money.

SMERCONISH: Yeah, in other words, you really did want her locked up.

J. ZIMMER: I want it to be proven.

SMERCONISH: Jim Finn, what's --

J. ZIMMER: If you let her go to the old folks home afterwards, that's fine, instead of the prison, but the facts need to come out.

SMERCONISH: Jim Fin, what's the grade?

JIM FINN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Michael, I give him an A. Every day I get home from work, I'm wondering what he did today. So, I think he's doing a great job so far.

SMERCONISH: Well, I'm wondering what he did today but maybe not for the same reasons that you are wondering. But I'll tell you this, it hasn't been dull, that's for sure.

Look, you know I love --

FINN: Dull, dull.

SMERCONISH: You know I love legal tablets.

FINN: Not dull at all.

SMERCONISH: You know I love legal tablets.

FINN: Yeah.

SMERCONISH: I love drawing a line down the middle and looking at the pluses and minuses.

The Zimmers, you heard the list of the critic complaints. Why is he arguing about crowd sizes? Why does he tweet in the manner that he does? What about that lie, at least according to "The New York Times," that three to five million illegals voted in this election, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? You know the criticisms. What are you thinking when you hear them?

J. ZIMMER: OK, as far as the voter, that's to be seen. But let's get back to talking --

SMERCONISH: You mean the fraud issue?

J. ZIMMER: Yes. But let's go back to talking about the crowd size. The big issue there was they come out -- I'm not going to name the stations. He threw the bust of Martin Luther King out. That's like telling the nation the president came in and threw eggs at his grave. Went to Atlanta and God knows what he did to it. They try to start this.

SMERCONISH: No, you know that didn't happen.

J. ZIMMER: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: And you don't like the way in which that was reported.

J. ZIMMER: Absolutely. Oh, and (inaudible) behind somebody. That is not reporting. That is not telling the news. That's making the news.

SMERCONISH: OK, so, you're telling me it's the media. I mean, as I articulated in my pluses and minuses, you think this is all a media concoction and that he hasn't misbehaved or acted inappropriately thus far.

J. ZIMMER: He has made some mistakes.

FINN: Bias. Yeah, bias.

J. ZIMMER: But I do feel that the news media is very, very biased.

SMERCONISH: You think out to get him.

J. ZIMMER: Out to get everybody, to get the ratings up. Ratings are more important than facts.

SMERCONISH: But Jerry --

J. ZIMMER: Ratings are more important that facts, that's what I'm saying.

SMERCONISH: -- let's talk facts. Because when he talks about voter fraud and when he talks about three to five million people having voted illegally in this election, I wanted to know where did he get that from. The citation that he offers is Pew research. I have the study in my hands. That bears no resemblance to what really occurred in this study. I mean, do facts matter?

J. ZIMMER: Facts matter, but who did the study?

FINN: I don't even think we should be worried about that.

SMERCONISH: A nonpartisan organization associated with the -- go ahead, I'm sorry, Jim.

FINN: I don't think -- that's one -- I don't think we should be worrying about that. He's already the president. So, my biggest thing is the media bias, whatever. We just -- we got to all start coming together because this is starting to get to be a real pain. I mean, it's every day. It don't matter what channel you go on, news or whatever. He is our president. So let's, you know, we got to get together on this.

SMERCONISH: I'm all for -- listen, I'm all for --

FINN: I got grandkids. I'm only -- anything.

SMERCONISH: I'm all for respecting him as the president of the United States, but there are a number of issues that I think are fair game.

Mary Lou --


SMERCONISH: -- he campaigned on that pledge to build the wall.

FINN: Yup.

SMERCONISH: He campaigned on the pledge to build the --

FINN: I'm going to give you that.

SMERCONISH: Jim, hang on one second. I want to ask Mary Lou a question.

FINN: I agree.

SMERCONISH: He campaigned on the pledge to build a wall. Who's going to pay for the wall?

M. ZIMMER: Well, we are. But Trump is, I believe, he is a man of his word. And he is also the businessman who has the art of the deal. I believe he will make the deal with the Mexican president and the wall will be paid for out of Mexico.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Jim, doesn't it make you nervous. And, you know, maybe you went to one of those events where it was a big line. Who's going to pay for the wall? Everybody would say Mexico. But he's now asking the Congress --

FINN: Yeah, I know.

SMERCONISH: -- for somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 billion. That's all of us paying for the wall. Speak to that issue.

FINN: I understand that, but that I think that he's going to, you know, I think Mexico isn't going to pay for the whole wall. I'm going to tell you that right now. And yes, taxpayers, us, we're going to have to pay for some of it.

[21:10:07] But I agree in the long run. I said I think we'll probably get most of our money back but not all of it. I got to agree on that.

SMERCONISH: And you're OK with that?

FINN: With paying some --


FINN: Well, yeah, if it's going to protect my family, yeah.

SMERCONISH: You OK with the American taxpayers picking up the tab?

FINN: If it's going to protect us.

SMERCONISH: Let me ask the two of you. You OK with that?

J. ZIMMER: Would you rather pay $14 million or the $100 billion?

SMERCONISH: Billion, 14 billion.

J. ZIMMER: $100 billion that we're paying for the illegals that we're feeding, clothing, giving them Social Security cards, giving them driver's license.

SMERCONISH: Another immigration issue --

J. ZIMMER: They're going to save money.

SMERCONISH: -- just came up today. So President Trump said, hey, for the next 120 days we're not taking any more refugees. I assume you agree with that as well.

M. ZIMMER: I do, absolutely.

SMERCONISH: Because you --

M. ZIMMER: Because --

FINN: I agree.

J. ZIMMER: Yeah, so do I.

M. ZIMMER: Yes, I agree with you also, Jim. He always said that he wanted America first. And if you stop and think about it, if we let these refugees in, not only are they taking money out of our pockets paying for their different medications and types of things this way, they're taking our jobs away. America needs those jobs and that's what Trump is for.

J. ZIMMER: We take --


J. ZIMMER: -- our homes away from our elderly because they can't buy our taxes and shove them into a home and pay three times more than we could from paying the taxes. We are so worried about people from other countries that have billions of dollars. Look what Saudi Arabia's got. Where is their money to take care of their own people?

M. ZIMMER: Right.

J. ZIMMER: I was brought up to take care of your family comes first. Where does the money from Saudi Arabia?

FINN: Jerry, what I'm --

SMERCONISH: Go ahead, Jim, I know you're dying to get into this. Go ahead.

FINN: I know. What I'm worried about, what about the children coming over here. That's the only thing with immigration and stuff, the children that's coming here. I have three grandkids, you know, I love kids. You know, that's the only thing. What are we going to do with the kids that are already over here, you know? That something has to be done about that. So, that's a concern of mine, too.

SMERCONISH: OK, so those who came by virtue of their parents, they now are here illegally, and you say, Mr. Trump, President Trump, at least let them stay, the dreamers.

FINN: Well, I mean, I'm not talking about today. I'm talking about the children that already have been over here for like two and three years already that they've done nothing with. So, that's what I'm saying.

SMERCONISH: All right, Jim Finn, Mary Lou and Jerry Zimmer. By the way, is America great again already?

M. ZIMMER: Not yet.

FINN: Not yet.

J. ZIMMER: Proud to be American. For the first time in eight years I can happily say that I'm proud to be an American.

SMERCONISH: Oh, you weren't proud to be an American?

J. ZIMMER: Yep. I was very proud.

SMERCONISH: I am proud.

J. ZIMMER: But we applaud someone that said that. That's what we're leaving.

SMERCONISH: OK. But you're making me nervous because what you're really saying is you yourself weren't proud to be an American before.

J. ZIMMER: I've been proud to be an American since I crawled out of my first black and gold diapers that had steelers on them when I was first born.


J. ZIMMER: Never a day I wasn't proud. SMERCONISH: Nice of you to come back.

J. ZIMMER: I'm just prouder today.


M. ZIMMER: Yeah.

SMERCONISH: That I'll accept. Thank you, guys.

Hey, what are you thinking? Tweet me @smerconish. Put up another one so we can all look at it together.

Check it out. "Smerconish, if there were three million illegal votes cast deviously wouldn't the Dems have been able to win the Electoral College?" You know what I keep wondering, Jessica, the three to four or five million people that he speaks to, wouldn't someone be on "Access Hollywood" by now or doing a TMZ interview or maybe even CNN? Where are these people? That's what I'd like to know.

OK, you've heard from his base. Next up what Steve Bannon calls the opposition party and I refer to the media. And, is it ever appropriate for journalists to use the "L" word as in lie?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unsupported claims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Denial of the facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President's statement was unsubstantiated. The President's statement was unfounded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've had your share of misstatements over the past few months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leading with multiple falsehoods, declaring erroneous figures easily proven to be factually inaccurate.



[21:17:57] SMERCONISH: You're watching a special edition of "Smerconish" on President Trump's first week in office. So, we just heard from Trump supporters, now to those that a senior adviser has branded the opposition party -- the media. The President kicked the week off at the CIA saying this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Yesterday, Senior Adviser Steve Bannon told "The New York Times," "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 why Donald Trump is the president of the United States." Perhaps he hasn't heard what Thomas Jefferson once said, and I'm paraphrasing, "better to have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers."

This discrediting of the media uncoincidentally came after many publications began describing statements by the President as lies. Other news outlets have tried going the euphemistic route, but in her recent piece, maybe Trump isn't lying, "The Washington Post's" Jennifer Rubin raises this question. "Is he lying or is he unable to separate what he wants to believe and what exists literally in front of his eyes?"

Jennifer Rubin joins me now as does co-host of NPR's "On the Media," Bob Garfield.

Jennifer, explain that quote that I just paraphrased. What were you saying?

JENNIFER RUBIN, "THE WASHINGTON POST" WRITER: I think what we're saying is we have two choices when we evaluate these things. He's either deliberately lying, that is, he knows the truth and he is conveying the opposite of the truth or he comes to believe these things fervently that simply aren't so. And if it's the latter, it basically says that he's not able to deal with the world the way it is. He has to construct a world in which he is the superhero, he is the most acclaimed. He is the most popular. There's no way he could lose the popular vote. That's dangerous. That's not the way democracies work. And the notion that the truth tellers, if you will, anybody else who brings forth the facts, should, be "shut up" is really frightful. That's how they talk in non-Democratic countries.

[21:20:18] SMERCONISH: In a backhanded way, are you giving him a pass of sorts because --

RUBIN: No, I'm saying, well, if you want to say delusional is a pass, I suppose delusional is a pass. But listen, you know --

BOB GARFIELD, NPR'S "ON THE MEDIA" CO-HOST: Oh, you flatterer, Jennifer.

RUBIN: Yeah, I know. You know, I had this running debate all week with voters. And they're not sure entirely. You know, there is a thin line between deluding yourself because you have to believe something and really kind of knowing that it's not true and telling people something anyway.

So, let's be honest here. What he is telling us is not true facts. And if he's going to lie to us about how big a crowd size is when we see two photographs before our eyes, what else is he going to lie about? I'll tell you one thing he's going to lie about, and that is that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. That's a lie.

SMERCONISH: Bob Garfield, I want to show you what Gerard Baker from "The Wall Street Journal" said to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press." Roll that.


CHUCK TODD, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS" HOST: Do you feel comfortable saying so-and-so lied, to be that, you know, if somebody says just an outright falsehood, do you say the word "lie"? Is that important to start putting in reporting or not?

GERARD BAKER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL" EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: You know, so look, I'd be careful about using the word "lie." Lie implies much more than just saying something that's false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.


SMERCONISH: Is there a deliberate intent in this case, Bob, sufficient that you think media outlets are green-lit to use the word "lie"?

GARFIELD: Well, you know, I don't get to make that call for individual outlets. So before I actually answer your direct question, let me answer a larger one. This notion that the media is an opposition party is preposterous for many reasons, not the least of which is there is no the media. I mean, media is a plural. And imaging that they are working in concert is, well, it's idiotic in addition to being kind of evil.

Blaming the media for calling out the President lie is kind of like tripping over a chair leg and saying it's a conspiracy of the furniture. It's the furniture that are out to get us. I mean, it's just stupid. And it's also evil because it is part of itself a big lie that's been ongoing now for actually 50 years, Michael of telling --

SMERCONISH: It's very effective politically.

GARFIELD: It is. And that's what you clearly have to understand. If you tell your audiences for 50 years that the media is a monolith that stands for everything that frightens or frightens you or that you dislike or resent, well, over five decades that seeps in.


GARFIELD: And that has certainly taken place.

SMERCONISH: So, to what end should the media consider as their reporting on this administration that to use that "L" word. And by the way, I'm going to put up on the screen because there've been a whole series of different headlines trying to come to terms with this using words like lie, debunked, without evidence, bogus, unsupported, unsubstantiated, unconfirmed, false.

Jennifer, if that's the approach the media is taking with regard to the President, of what consideration should it be that it might help him politically? I just interviewed three individuals who are hardened in their belief that they did the right thing in voting for him and this is part of a media cabal.

RUBIN: It should factor zero. Our job is not to confuse people or unconfuse people. It is to tell the truth. And if certain individuals are going to believe a whole host of misrepresentations, frankly I felt sorry for your three guests because they've been so bamboozled all over the years, one hardly knows where to start.

But it is not our job to consider the political implications of what we do. We report, we give analysis to the best of our ability. And if the President wants to adopt the tactics of Vladimir Putin and other dictatorial figures, that's his choice and we will continue to report on it as fairly, as closely, as aggressively as we know how.


GARFIELD: And that means calling something by its name. The difference between a lie and a mere falsehood is that you can be certain that the lie was told with full knowledge that it isn't true, right? That's when you cross the line from giving misinformation to being a liar.

And you know, I actually do suspect that the President is significantly delusional on a lot of things, this voter fraud thing being right at the top of the list. But, I mean, for crying out loud, he didn't like the narrative that it rained on his inauguration speech, so the man lied about the weather. He lied about the rain. He will lie about anything if it puts him, he believes, in a better light.

[21:25:02] SMERCONISH: Final question for both of you, if I may. I sense frustration in both of you that I just had three individuals here who voted for Donald Trump, are proud of the way they voted, believe that America is on a path to making itself great again. And that no amount of reportage by your --

GARFIELD: I'm going to stop you right there, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Wait, wait, wait. Let me finish my question.

GARFIELD: No, no, no.

SMERCONISH: I'm going to finish my question.

GARFIELD: You sense incorrectly. Our job is not to worry about the feelings of the electorate.

SMERCONISH: Bob, I haven't finished the question. The question was I sense frustration that you can't reach them. Is that a fair assessment? GARFIELD: No, just exactly what I'm saying. It is not our job to change the minds of any portion of the electorate. It is our job to hold the government accountable. It is our job to locate facts and report them, to do journalism based on evidence and intellectual rigor. That's our job.

And then, the chips fall where they may. I'm not going to sweat whether your audience -- portions of your audience or portions of the Michigan electorate don't get that Donald Trump is a dishonest man making insane policy decisions. I can't affect that.

SMERCONISH: Quick answer --

GARFIELD: What I can do is report the truth. And that's what my colleagues are doing every single day --

SMERCONISH: Jennifer, respond --

GARFIELD: -- and being called an enemy for doing it.

SMERCONISH: Jennifer, quickly respond, are you frustrated at an inability to reach the 46 percent like the three with whom I led the show?

RUBIN: No. I think you're absolutely right. I think, you know, our job is to tell it like we see it, call them like we see it. And you know what? The president of the United States is not going to shut up the press any more than he's going to shut up government employees who he now wants to gag in prevents from -- preventing -- presenting scientific knowledge to the American people.

You cannot shutdown free thought in a democracy. You cannot shutdown the press. That's what he's trying to too. And right now, I think it's our job to dig even harder, look at those conflicts, look at those connections to Russia, look at the lies, look at the policy implications of what he is doing and report it. And if the American people still want him, that's their choice.

SMERCONISH: Jennifer Rubin, Bob Garfield, thank you. Let's see what --

GARFIELD: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: -- the audience is tweeting right now @smerconish. S. Santo, "Tonight @smerconish on CNN, brilliant illustration of how real our bubbles are and what the other side sees." Santo, these bubbles are a two-way street. I have acknowledged here at the existence of my virtual northeast United States I-95 corridor bubble, but it goes both ways. And I think you've just had that illustrated.

Give me another one. I can sit here and read tweets all night. I love it. "You're being unfair. Unbiased. You're giving the media a bad name." Oh, Stan.

Still ahead, on our look at President Trump's first week. He met today with the British prime minister but next week's powwow with Mexican's president, that's already canceled. So, what does his foreign policy look like, building bridges or building walls?


TRUMP: But I want to build a wall. We have to build a wall. Immediate construction of a border wall. Look, the wall is necessary. I'm talking about a real wall. I'm talking about a wall that's got to be like serious.



[21:32:34] SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back to the special edition of "Smerconish" on President Trump's first week in office. Everybody has been waiting to see what President Trump's foreign policy would look like. He pledged to support "this most special relationship," with the U.K. and for a brief moment even held hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May.

And, though, today he navigated his first meeting with a global leader, next week's meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that's already canceled. Why, because President Trump publicly recommitted to building a border wall between Mexico and the U.S. and his administration then floated the idea of paying for it with the 20 percent tax on all goods coming in from Mexico. That said they did speak on the phone today. So what have we just learn?

Joining me now James Traub, Contributing Editor at Foreign Policy. It's like a lab experiment. So let's pull out the Bunsen burners and so forth. What did we just figure out?

JAMES TRAUB, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, FOREIGN POLICY: Not an encouraging first experiment, especially because he was doing this on a kind of modestly-sized, relatively helpless ally. So we think, what if it's China?

So if you look at this example, you'd say he starts with this campaign pledge that he made, which in itself was a nonsensical pledge, to build this wall and have Mexico pay for it. Firs for all, it deals with a problem that doesn't exist. Let me just cite one fact that people tend to forget.

The number of Mexicans who are leaving Mexico, who are leaving the United States, I'm sorry, to return to Mexico is greater than the number of Mexicans who are leaving Mexico for the United States. We're not having Mexicans pour across the border. It's the other way around, in part because our enforcement is so good, in part because the Mexican economy is getting better, which is in part because of NAFTA which he wants to cancel.

SMERCONISH: I would say that if the president were representing his view here, he would say that the economy is cyclical and there will come a day when the Mexican economy is not so robust and those folks will be coming here as they have in the past or perhaps he would pick out one of those high profile crime cases like the case of Kate Steinle and say, you know, one is too many.

TRAUB: Yes, he would. But I'd like to point out that here's one more fact for you. If you compare the crime rate among poorly educated Mexican, Salvadoran and I think Guatemalans to the crime rate among native born Americans at the same level of education, I don't think it's even half. The crime rate, if every demographic of immigrants is much lower than it is among Americans.

[21:34:57] SMERCONISH: When the call ended today, hour long, it sounds like a long time, but I guess for translation maybe its 30 minutes, who knows. But when the call ended, each nation put out a statement. The Mexican statement had a line that the American statement lacked. And we'll put it up on the screen. Let's all take a look. The presidents also agreed for now not to speak publicly on this controversial topic. Deleted apparently from the U.S. version, what does that tell us?


SMERCONISH: But included in the Mexican version.

TRAUB: Well, it's at least realism because we know that Donald Trump can't restrain himself from talking about this. He'll crow about this victory that he feels like he's won. But really if you think about it, he's done real damage to the relationship with a very faithful ally for no very good reason. And you feel like, as you said, it's a lab experiment or a warm-up, because what's the big one? The big one is China. And he feels -- I mean, he -- I think the people around him, they feel like China has played an utterly destructive game and they have to stand up.


SMERCONISH: I'll take the bait.


SMERCONISH: Is it possible that he's beating up on Mexico, defenseless Mexico so as to send a message to Putin tomorrow?

TRAUB: That would be a lovely thought. But the reason why I think that's not so, is that in their minds, not in the minds of anybody who thinks about foreign policy seriously, China bad, Russia good. So no, I don't think he's trying to send a message to Putin. That's a separate conversation we can have about what he's going to say to Putin.

SMERCONISH: You come back and we'll have that.

TRAUB: Yeah, I'll be happy to.

SMERCONISH: Thank you. James Traub, I appreciate it very much.

So, what about building this wall? Does it make any sense financially or politically? Joining me now the author of "Why Walls Won't Work: Repairing the U.S.-Mexico Divide," Dr. Michael Dear. Dr. Dear, I look at your C.V. and you're perfect for this question. Bachelor of Arts in --


SMERCONISH: -- Geography at the University of Birmingham, town planning master of philosophy, a doctorate for Regional Science at my alma mater Penn. Can it physically be built?

DEAR: Of course it can be built physically. If you are prepared to spend millions and billions of dollars, anything is possible. If you remember the commitment to the American moon shot so long ago, we spent a lot of money and we made it. We can spend an awful lot of money and we can build a second wall. I hasten to add we already have a wall on the land boundary. So, I always like to preface the fact that we've got a wall in existence and the existence of that wall gives us a lot of lessons that we can learn.

SMERCONISH: I know from your work that the number of walls worldwide, this is not a one off, this conversation, but they've grown exponentially since September 11th. Speak to that.

DEAR: It's a fashionable response to a lot of dilemmas facing many countries across the world today. The big problem is I think that it represents a failure in diplomacy. If we can't come to an agreement say with Mexico or with China, the first response is to build a wall or to build barriers of other people. We've also learned from history that that is a short-term solution. You can build a wall and get short-term relief, but you can't rely on walls for long-term geopolitical solutions.

SMERCONISH: Wouldn't the Israelis say, look, we, too, have walls and they've been effective at limiting terror?

DEAR: They've been effective at limiting terror but they haven't solved the problem of the Middle East.

SMWERCONISH: So, your response to the wall among other things is to say it's a short-term fix to a problem that, frankly, doesn't exist, at least exist the way that it had in the past and does nothing to bring us closer to the long-term solution that's necessary?

DEAR: Basically correct, yes. It might stop people from killing each other in the short term, but it's not a step to a long-term solution, that's what I think.

SMERCONISH: The president signed an -- one other aspect of this, and it doesn't relate to Mexico, per say, but the president signed an executive order today that will limit all refugees, frankly, not allow any refugees for 120 days and maybe longer for Syria. Aren't walls an effective means of stemming the refugee crisis for certain European nations who otherwise would be overrun with the population they can't control?

DEAR: Yes. They could be. Unless you could just put in place a border which stops immigration from certain countries. I'm not saying these are not worthy solutions because buying some breathing time is probably a good idea in a lot of these circumstances. It's just that nobody should pretend that investing in a wall or an equivalent feature is in any way a long-term solution.

SMERCONISH: Michael Dear, thank you so much for being here.

DEAR: You're welcome, thank you.

SMERCONISH: Keep tweeting me your thoughts @smerconish. Here's another @smerconish, "If you don't know a lie when you see one, you are too stupid to be on @CNN."

Well, I am too stupid to be on @CNN. What I was trying to get to the bottom of the semantic game being played by different media outlets some feeling comfortable in using the "L" word and other is not doing so.

[21:39:59] Do I have time for one more quickly? Can we put one up? Nope? OK. Well, we'll comeback and do more tweets, I promise you.

Still ahead on our look at "Donald Trump First Week," today, President Trump reinforced his belief that waterboarding works. But what about the guy who actually helped create and carry out enhanced interrogation methods after September 11th? Stick around because you're about to meet him.


TRUMP: Would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire. So, I'm not into it. I will tell you, though, it works.



SMERCONISH: Hey, thanks for being here. This is a special edition of "Smerconish." President Trump's first week. He reignited the debate about torture this week during his first interview with ABC's David Muir saying that it absolutely works. Take a listen.


DAVID MUIR, ABC'S "WORLD TONIGHT WITH DAVID MUIR" ANCHOR: President Obama said the U.S. does not torture. Will you say that?

TRUMP: Well, I have a general who I have great respect for, General Mattis, who said -- I was a little surprised who said he's not a believer in torture. I have spoken to others in intelligence and they are big believers in, as an example, waterboarding.

[21:45:11] MUIR: You did tell me --

TRUMP: Because they say it does work.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: But two newly confirmed appointees who will be carrying out such policy, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, were both said to be blindsided by this. And then today at the Pentagon the president ended saying that he would defer to Secretary Mattis. So, where do we stand with enhanced interrogation?

My next guest literally wrote the book on enhanced interrogation. Dr. James Mitchell has a Ph.D in clinical psychology, served 22 yeas in the U. S. Air Force and helped develop and administer the CIA's post 9/11 enhanced interrogation program.

Dr. Mitchell, what is it that you know that General Mattis doesn't? Because he said all he needs is a six-packs and a pack of cigs. I'm paraphrasing, but not by much.

DR. JAMES MITCHELL, FORMER CIA INTERROGATOR: No, you're not paraphrasing by much. The question I think we should be asking ourselves is what would General Mattis do? General Mattis would not give up information that would get Americans killed or derail our attack plans for a Michelob and a Winston. It's not going to happen.

And it didn't happen with KSM either. KSM had several days of what the CIA called tea and respectful conversation. And during that time all he did was rock and pray and chant and when we asked him -- when I myself asked him in a very neutral way about attacks in the United States, he told me soon you will know. And he meant wait around and I'm going to hit you.

SMERCONISH: This is a hypothetical. This is a philosophical subject for most but not for you. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, you know, the number one guy from al-Qaeda that we captured, you personally waterboarded him. Did you get anything out of him of value?

MITCHELL: Well, we did get stuff out of him of value. We got information out of him that allowed us to catch other people and ultimately through those other people disrupt that other second wave of attacks that was coming. Ambali was already working on training folks to fly airplanes into the tallest buildings in Los Angeles, and Chicago and Seattle. And that plan was initially put off kilter by President Bush, is attack, but ultimately they were getting that back on schedule. And without the AIT program, they would have had a chance to pull that off.

SMERCONISH: I read your book. Help me understand wherein lies the line, two excerpts I'm going to read to the audience, put it up on the screen. "Bruce, your colleague, poured the water out of a one liter plastic bottle and I controlled the duration of the pours by standing at the top by Abu Zubaydah's head raising and lowering a black cloth to cover his face. When I lowered the cloth, Bruce was to pour. I would watch the guard, count out the seconds. When I raise the cloth, Bruce was to stop immediately. The legal guidance said we could pour water for 20 to 40 seconds, allow the person to breathe unimpeded for three to four breaths, and then lower the cloth and pour water for another 20 to 40 seconds and so on for 20 minutes." That is you describing a waterboarding in which you participated. Now here's another. "I watched the chief interrogator use a variety of physically coercive measures on al-Nashiri that I believed were not on the list approved techniques. They included the two stress positions discussed earlier, dousing al-Nashiri with cold water while using a stiff-bristled brush to scrub his ass and balls and then his mouth and blowing cigar smoke in his face until he became nauseous." Why is one, apart from being on the list, why is one OK and the other crosses the line?

MITCHELL: Well, I think it has to do with the adjudication of whether it's torture or not. You know, it upsets me sometimes to hear the president use the word "torture" because torture is illegal. It's been illegal. And if what the Justice Department had authorized in 2002 was torture, then Feinstein and McCain would not have had to pass a law in 2015 restricting their use. So it bothers me when people say that. And the difference is --

SMERCONISH: Was this torture was what you describe and you objected to this. And by the way you were called the "P" word by colleagues for your objection. But would you say that was tortured, the stiff- bristled brush?

MITCHELL: Well, some of the other things they did to him certainly crossed the line. I thought that stiff-bristled brush was out of line because of the way they were doing it.

[21:50:02] I don't think he suffered pain -- any pain from that really. But it was a humiliating thing that shouldn't happen to him. But they threatened him with the drill and they threatened him with a gun. Those sorts of things do cross the line as a torture because the threat of him in death is one of the things that violate U.S. law.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Mitchell, thanks for coming back.

MITCHELL: Thank you for having me on.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets about President Trump's tumultuous fist week. What if another, "Smerconish, I think Mr. President should try waterboarding on himself before he orders it."

Well, I should tell you that Dr. Mitchell who was just here and was one of two architect of the program made sure he himself was subjected to it before he used it on others.

Back in a second.


SMERCONISH: As I like to say, you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish. I don't see these tweets until right now. So put them up let's have add it together. "Smerconish, you started your show with Trump supporters willing to pay for the effing wall, they just admitted he lied. Stop being polite."

Sorry, Nadine, polite is my nature. They did say I was surprise to hear them say that they would be happy to share their responsibility if they're -- that's the proper word to pay for the wall. It certainly isn't what the president said during the course of the campaign. But they seemed like they were ready to live with it. Hit me with another one.

[21:54:58] "Smerconish, don't agree with your panel but I would love to see them back to gauge Trump's four year progress. Thank them for me."

RGL, God willing, I'd love to be here in four years and be the one to bring them to you. I have them as part of my focused group was comprise of folks who was registered Republican just to vote either for or against Donald Trump and I wanted to take their temperature, one week in.

Another tweet please, "Watching @smerconish and truly realizing what a sad state of the union we're already headed to one week in."

Well, John, I'm watching "Smerconish" and here's what I'm taking away tonight. The divide has never been greater, at least not in the modern era, the 36 years that I've been paying attention. And I think you got evidence of that with the first segment and the second segment and frankly not much commonality between the two. But I think it's vitally important that we be listening to one another.

Last tweet of the night put it up there. "Smerconish, no wall in history ever stopped anyone without an Army to occupy it. Will it be the Mexican army?"

I question the topography allowing a wall to be built as its being described.

Anyway, thank you for watching. This was a thrill for me. I will back here tomorrow morning at 9:00 a. m.

Next up, Don Lemon.