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Trump's Diplomatic Rift with Mexico Over Border Wall; Trump Signs Flurry of Executive Actions. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 27, 2017 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting.

[05:58:41] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We simply cannot accept.

TRUMP: When that comes through the border, it's going to be heavily taxed.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: You're going to slap 20 percent on Mexico?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, American workers suffer.

TRUMP: But I understand we will be having a discussion soon.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're going to see unconventional activities like tweets. That's just something that we're all going to have to get used to.

TRUMP: The media is very dishonest. I've been saying it. I say it openly.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Mr. Bannon, we're not shutting our mouths. You cannot intimidate us.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Friday, January 27, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Our friend Poppy Harlow joining us once again.


CUOMO: Thanks for being with us.

HARLOW: My pleasure.

CUOMO: Even under the weather. What a trooper.

Up first, in his first week in office, President Donald J. Trump redefining the presidency and dramatically reshaping domestic and foreign policy. He signed a bunch of executive orders dealing with a lot of major issues, but the president's very public diplomatic rift with Mexico is dominating and sending shockwaves around the world.

HARLOW: It is indeed. The president's plan to tax imports from Mexico coming under a lot of scrutiny this morning. The big question: could it trigger a trade war? That is a real possibility. What effect would that have on you, the American consumer?

All of this comes as the president meets today with the British prime minister, just a few hours from now. We are entering day eight of the Trump administration. Let's begin our coverage this morning with Sara Murray. She's live in Washington with the latest.

Good morning, Sara.


Well, President Trump will host his first foreign leader at the White House today. That is British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Now he has some other diplomatic calls on his agenda. We are learning he will speak this weekend with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

All of this comes as Donald Trump's diplomatic debut is off to something of a rocky start, with tensions flaring with Mexico.


MURRAY (voice-over): President Trump triggering a diplomatic show down with Mexico in his first week in office.

TRUMP: I'm talking about a real wall. I'm talking about a wall that's got to be, like, serious.

MURRAY: The feud escalating quickly after the president threatened to cancel next week's meeting with Mexico's president if they won't pay for his border wall. Within hours, Enrique Pena Nieto tweeting back that he told the White House that he is not coming. Trump later casting the cancellation as a mutual decision.

TRUMP: Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly with respect such a meeting would be fruitless.

MURRAY: Adding to the tension, the White House began floating a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: By doing it that way we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall.

MURRAY: Only to walk it back two hours later, saying it's just one idea that could finance the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are things that go beyond negotiations.

MURRAY: Mexico's foreign minister dismissing such a plan, pointing out the import tax would ultimately be passed onto American consumers.

Many economists agree, citing the $531 billion in goods traded between the countries in 2015, making Mexico America's third largest trading partner. The suddenly stormy relationship between allies caps off Trump's chaotic first week in office. The president signing a flurry of executive orders to fulfill a number of his controversial campaign promises, but the White House also delayed additional immigration actions, as well as Trump's order to investigate his false claims of widespread voter fraud. This as the Trump administration's feud with the media isn't getting better.

TRUMP: These are very hostile people. These are very angry people.

MURRAY: In a rare interview with "The New York Times," the president's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, labels the media "the opposition party," saying the press should "keep its mouth shut."


MURRAY: Now we'll see how this meeting between President Trump and Theresa May goes. They're expected to do a joint press conference afterwards. After that, we're expecting Donald Trump to head to the Pentagon today, where he'll be signing some executive orders. He's also going to be providing some objectives to his defense secretary, James Mattis, for how he wants to defeat ISIS.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: All right, Sara. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in our panel. There's so much on the table. CNN political analyst, "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogan; CNN political commentator David Gregory; CNN political commentator and senior contributor at "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis; and CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd.

We start abroad with David Gregory. That was a big moment yesterday with Theresa May talking to the GOP, showing their commonalities about putting the working man first, but then it gets overshadowed by what happened with Mexico's president, and now this meeting is off. How do you see the state of play?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, there's a kind of chaos theory to how the Trump administration is moving forward diplomatically, where Donald Trump -- and he's talked about the kind of negotiator he tries to be. And he's doing foreign policy through these bold negotiation stances to try to get the best deal that he possibly can.

So now we have what seems like a ruptured relationship with such a close ally and an important trading partner in Mexico for a wall of kind of dubious need. So it would be interesting to see how this plays out with congressional Republicans and Republican leaders, as well as the negotiations with Mexico itself. But again it seems to be no need for this to be so provocative with

Mexico and yet that's -- that's the way he's wanted to get things started, perhaps with an eye toward exacting some kind of price from Mexico, ideally to pay for the wall in some fashion. But I just don't see how it plays out from here.

HARLOW: Phil Mudd, "The New York Times" editorial page today called it an impulsive tantrum. You have to think of a lot of things when you're doing this diplomatic dance. Not just U.S. jobs. That is huge, indeed. And NAFTA has cost a lot of U.S. jobs. It also means 6 million U.S. jobs that rely on that trade.

But what does it do to counterterrorism efforts and our partnership with Mexico on that front? What does it do to the -- to the war on drugs and our partnership with Mexico on that front?


[06:05:03] HARLOW: If you enrage the Mexican government, that hurts you in these other areas.

MUDD: Look, I think we've had a president who branded his opposition during the campaign, who branded his defense secretary as "Mad Dog" Mattis. We now have Tylenol Trump, if you're a national security guy.

Look, you've got priorities here you've got to think about. The Iran nuclear deal, China, Russia. What are we talking about? The Berlin Wall down on the border, and we're talking about phantom voters nobody can find.

The president should be setting priorities. President Bush with -- initially with missile defense years ago, and then he transitioned, obviously, to terrorism. You look at President Obama: how to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a problem here of prioritization.

One other problem in terms of flipping government on its head. One of the first calls General Mattis, now Secretary Mattis makes: NATO. He's got to tell NATO, "Chill out. The president maybe didn't really mean what he said."

The CIA director is saying, "Not so fast on black sites." The entire government, including the Congress, saying, "Not so fast on Russia."

The president usually directs policy down. This is a reversal. Now you have the cabinet and the Congress saying, "We're directing policy up. Slow down."

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You talk about the prioritization. I think the prioritization might be that Donald Trump wants to start off his administration by sending a signal, not just to Mexico but to the world, that a new sheriff is in town. And you know, I hope that this is more an opening salvo in a negotiation than it is an economic policy.

HARLOW: How can it be a negotiation when the Mexican president says, "Yes -- I'm not coming." LEWIS: The way that Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, the way that he walked away in Reykjavik. The -- when he didn't get the deal he wanted.

That Donald Trump, this is not -- I hope that this is not indicative of his policy.

JOSH ROGAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's a lot -- I think that's a lot of wishful thinking. I don't see any method here at all, OK? It's totally haphazard. The fact that the Defense Department and the White House aren't on the same page is a problem.

The fact that the Mexican foreign minister is in a meeting on the White House when the tweet comes over, and all of a sudden, the Mexican foreign minister has to step out of the meeting and ask the president if they're still going to have the meeting, because the tweet just came. That's not four-dimensional chess, OK? That's not a carefully-crafted negotiation strategy that's going to get us to point A or B. That's chaos.

HARLOW: It's Twitter diplomacy. It's something we haven't seen before.


HARLOW: One thing I think is interesting, you bring up Mexico's foreign minister, Luis Videgaray. I love saying his name, by the way. This is a brilliant guy. MIT-trained, someone who actually was the one who thought of the meeting of Trump going down there and meeting with the president during the campaign, then got booted, now is back in to renegotiate this deal.

How formidable of a challenge is he, do you think, David Gregory, to Donald Trump? I mean, he called Trump yesterday a very smart man. Well, I think there's different levels of power on both sides of the border, but I come back to Phil's point about priorities. Why is the wall such a priority? We know what the immigration flows are. We know what the potential danger is. If this is about drugs; if it's about...

HARLOW: David, it's a priority because this is what he ran on. I mean, this is what people were literally cheering and screaming at his rallies. And he is all about holding to those promises.

GREGORY: If he looks substantively about why it should be such a priority, I think that's what leads you, actually, to scratch your head. When you have the priorities that the president has said he really wants to focus on, from Iran, to Russia, to Syria, to ISIS. So I think -- I think Phil is right that how he is prioritizing thus far doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it.

And I also agree with Matt. I think this man of action idea and President Trump putting a stake in the ground and all over the places to signal -- he came here to shake things up, and he's doing that. He's going to shake up the international order. CUOMO: People would have a much better sense of it if he hadn't kept distracting with these antics in the tweets and the hyperbole, because he has done a lot in this first week, in terms of different areas of attack. Maybe too many.

But something for you. Two big points that are going to happen from now until -- and through the weekend. NAFTA. OK. Your party, I know you're a conservative now. You don't like to call yourself a Republican. You don't have to register in the state where you live.

They love NAFTA. President George H.W. Bush conceived, negotiated, executed the documents. Didn't have time to get it through Congress. Clinton did that.

But the idea is NAFTA is killing our jobs. Poppy is a biz whiz, so she knows all this stuff. But they give you estimates of about 700,000 jobs that have been lost. But there's millions that are dependent on it. So do people understand the facts about NAFTA and that it's not just something that's a suck; it's also providing.

HARLOW: Six million, to be exact.

LEWIS: I mean, I don't think people do. Look I'm a free trade guy. I think that, you know, free trade makes us all more wealthy and we talk about this potential of putting a tax on imports on from Mexico, for example, would cost consumers more money. You go to Wal-Mart, you're going to have to spend more money. I don't think the average American or the Trump voter realizes the bad economics, but it sounds awfully good to play populist politics. And I think it worked so well that it put Donald Trump in the White House.

[06:10:09] HARLOW: They'll realize it when they're paying for it.

LEWIS: Yes, which could be...

HARLOW: If this 20 percent tariff happens, that's coming out of your pocket.

LEWIS: But that could be a year from now.

HARLOW: On that point, Josh Rogan, is it disingenuous of the administration to say -- and equate the two and say the 20 percent tariff means that Mexico will pay for the wall? Those are actually American businesses that are going to have to pay that additional tax, and therefore you, the consumer, will pay it.

ROGAN: There will also be retaliatory tariffs that will impact more American business and cost more American jobs. So we can't say it's disingenuous, because they don't actually have a plan. So if they don't have a plan, how do we know if the plan is good or bad. It's just a very crude kind of lazy way to do economics; and it's also sort of what I keep thinking about is why are they provoking a crisis with an ally and reaching out to an adversary, Russia.

CUOMO: And the third biggest trade partner. That's the right segue. Last question for you. This call with Putin, this is celebrated

within the administration, because they say it will be a signal that Trump and Putin will have a different mutual level of respect. How do you see it? What are the pitfalls?

MUDD: I think there is potential here. You look at where we are with Russia and Europe, where we are with Russia and Syria, there's ceasefire talks going on. We're not participating. I think we have to step back a weekend and offer this an opportunity.

That said, Theresa May, prime minister of U.K., coming in. What are they going to talk about? Are they going to talk about Iran? Are they going to talk about Syria? Are they going to talk about North Korea? Are they going to talk about NATO? Are they going to talk about a wall or phantom voters? We talked about prioritization. This is also about presidential energy.

I want to know with these big issues, the complexity of NAFTA, where are you going to decide to put your chips down? and I haven't figured this one out yet.

CUOMO: Well, Philip Mudd hasn't figured it out, fellows. We are at a lost cause at this point in time. Thank you to each of you. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Stay with us. We have a lot more ahead here. President Donald Trump's first week. Itis 7 days now that he's been in power, one filled with executive action and controversial moves. Is this what we should expect for the next four years? Our panel is back in a moment.


[06:16:07] HARLOW: Welcome back to NEW DAY. President Trump delivering on many of his campaign promises in just the first seven days in a series of executive orders. Will they stick? That is another question.

Let's bring back our panel: Josh Rogan, David Gregory, Matt Lewis, Phil Mudd. Josh, we have a little bit of breaking news on another executive order coming down the pike.

ROGAN: That's right. First on CNN, I've confirmed with two Trump administration officials that there is a draft executive order that deals with Russia sanctions. And what it would do is relieve some of the sanctions. Not all of them. Some of them and look at all the rest of them now. We don't know about the timing. We don't know when they're going to sign it. But you could be sure this is going to come up in the discussion between President Trump and...

HARLOW: Do you know whether these were the rather tough economic sanctions that came under President Obama after the Ukraine invasion incursion or are these the more recent ones from President Obama?

ROGAN: It's not clear. What I've been told is that these -- President Trump believes that the sanctions are too broad, that they cover too much and he's going to tackle the ones that he thinks are not specific enough. So that's an indication that we're not talking about the most recent ones that address the hacking or the Crimea ones in particular. We're talking about the large sectoral (ph) sanctions.

We'll have to wait and see when the text comes out. All of these texts are coming out. But they have a draft. And they're planning on doing this. And that's going to come in as a big surprise to a lot of people, especially in Europe.

CUOMO: What's his ability to undo by executive order?

ROGAN: He can undo what he wants. Yes.

CUOMO: But can he go at sanctions that were passed by Congress or only ones that were levied by the executives?

ROGAN: The ones that were levied by the executives he can get rid of easily, just like that. No problem. The congressional ones, he can use a national security waiver to avoid. He can just fail to implement them. It's a little bit more difficult, but basically, he can do whatever he wants. And then if you really...

CUOMO: He's also creating a front now, right? Because if he does this, Matt Lewis, Congress has said they're going to try to pass more sanctions, congressionally. So now he's going to have a battle going on where he is taking a decision to defend Russia once again.

LEWIS: And an internecine battle. I mean, Republicans, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, maybe Marco Rubio, especially, want to impose sanctions on Russia and not lift them.

ROGAN: And Rex Tillerson, by the way, who testified that we should have had more sanctions before and he would support more sanctions in the future. So this puts the White House crosswise with secretary of state before he's even confirmed.

HARLOW: David Gregory, what do you make of the fact that, you know, within a 48-hour span, Donald Trump and the president of Mexico have gotten on completely different pages; and Donald Trump is about to get on a little bit more of the same page, one would expect, on the phone call with Putin and Trump tomorrow evening in Moscow. What does that tell us about the new world order?

GREGORY: Well, that Donald Trump, like presidents before him, have -- would like to turn a page with Russia. We'd like to create a new productive relationship with Russia. And it's very interesting, what's been said so far, because if you think about it, the sanctions that are in place, if President Trump wants to dial those back in a way that President Putin would like to see done, the kind of stick in the eye of President -- former President Obama, then Trump is in a position to say, "OK, what can I get for it?"

You know, I mean, if he wants to be the ultimate negotiator, he wants to come out of the box with something tangible -- some kind of tangible cooperation with Russia that would allow him to see this is actually a benefit of a relationship with Russia. It seems to me he cannot understand how transactional Russia is. And they may help you today and screw you tomorrow and that -- we've also seen that.

CUOMO: Theresa May said it a little bit more eloquently in her speech to the GOP, saying you know, fine, proceed. But proceed with caution.

Phil Mudd, this goes to your point. Somebody who's been on the inside of government and seen how an agenda gets put into effect by focus. You've got fronts all over the place.

We're still waiting on executive orders on this voter fraud phantom that he's after on the travel ban, refugees, which many are seeing as just another way of saying Muslim ban. She's got, like, eight irons in the fire. What does that wind up doing to the process of governing?

[06:20:14] MUDD: I don't think you have eight irons in the fire. Look, if you're looking at major initiatives, most presidents get, what, three or four during an entire presidency. We've had about 72 during seven days.

You can't execute with the National Security Council a complicated issue, for example, about how to move forward with Russia which includes NATO, which includes Ukraine, which includes Syria and meanwhile, be saying also focus on Mexico, focus on Iran, focus on North Korea.

The question going in -- this has been the question all along is what's the strategy? You can't conduct government by Twitter. What do you want to do? And I think, as a government official, you're walking away going to the West Wing, you sit down in the situation room, saying which of these do you want me to turn the ship to; and that ship don't turn on it.

HARLOW: Go ahead.

ROGAN: Yes, he's doing all these things before there is a National Security Council. He doesn't have any of these people in place. Usually, what you would do is get advice from the people that you hired, have a process and come up with a decision. He's putting the cart before the horse.

HARLOW: I think we're making a mistake by just saying, "Usually, what you would do." This is anything but a usual president. You can't have Twitter by -- diplomacy by Twitter. That is exactly what we're seeing. And we're seeing it both ways, from the U.S. president and Mexican president yesterday.

But on another note that's important to get to, Steve Bannon, his chief strategist/counselor, says to "The New York Times," by the way, interesting. In an interview with the media, he says the media should, quote, "be embarrassed and humiliated" and keep his mouth shut and just listen for a while.

CUOMO: And remember, he is a member of the media. He runs a hit -- a hit site, Breitbart, and now he's talking to his own, I guess.

GREGORY: Is it interesting, Chris? I wonder this, as a member of a media standing. I wonder if Mr. Bannon, when he came up with Breitbart, did he think that he was just a part of the mainstream media? Or did he consider himself opposition to President Obama in particular? It would be interested to know his judgment on that.

I mean, look, maybe -- maybe they want to create a ministry of propaganda out of the White House. But that's not how it works here in America.

And I wonder why, aside from kind of placating their base, why they're so paranoid in the White House about their standing and paranoid about the media. You know, it's not a creative thing that they're doing, attacking the media. Other people have done it. The media is just going to keep doing its job. It's not going to shut its mouth. It's going to keep doing its job. It should be fair. It should be tough. It should illuminate. And so much of these issues are things that the president and the White House have brought on themselves by uttering untruths, by talking about phantom, you know, illegal voters, by obsessing about crowd size and ratings. I mean, to Josh's point, you want to take all these problems. You should focus on leadership and less about talking about dishonest human beings in the media.

LEWIS: I think that's...

CUOMO: Last words. Go ahead.

LEWIS: That's all right. That's all correct, but the media has brought some of this on ourselves. And there's a reason that Bannon and Trump want to attack us, because the media is actually less popular than Donald Trump. And there's a reason for that.

CUOMO: I don't know that that's true, by the way.

HARLOW: You're citing that Gallup --

CUOMO: I think these popularity polls are a lot of air to be honest with you. Do the people love the media? No. But do the people love anything?

Who's the most powerful man in the world?

LEWIS: Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Who's the biggest man in the room?

LEWIS: Donald Trump.

CUOMO: And that's what they're supposed to act like. Right? These are bully tactics by somebody who's showing insecurity when he would be the most secure person in the United States of America.

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Enjoy your weekends.

President Trump is delivering on promises. The biggest is building that wall along the Mexico border. Will it be as easy as he says? Of course not. But is it a matter of national security? Let's take a look at the numbers. We're going to be hearing a lot about immigration. What are the facts? We have them, next.


[06:28:01] CUOMO: All right. There is a great need for facts, especially when we get to immigration, deportation and the wall. All right? There's a lot of politics, not a lot of information. Here it comes. You ready?

A 2015 Pew research study concluded that more Mexicans are actually leaving the United States than entering. Why? Better economic conditions, in large part because of NAFTA and Mexico. Also because it's gotten a little bit harder to stay in the United States over the years because of all of the enforcement. What about the non-Mexicans coming over the border.

A subsequent Pew study found that, after decades of rapid growth, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. has leveled off since 2009, indicating that, while immigrants are coming here in higher numbers in places like Central America, people are not pouring over the border.

To the contrary: a number of studies show that anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of the people here illegally actually overstayed their visas. OK? Think about that. Suggesting that some of these people likely entered the U.S. through ports other than the border, like airports, had papers and then violated them.

All right. So what about President Trump's other big concern: drugs? 2015 report from the DEA says Mexican criminal organizations do transport a bulk of drugs over the southwest border. The most we get. But how? Through ports of entry. Using passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers, meaning that most drug smuggling takes place at border crossings and not with big backpacks, you know, with bigoted references to people with cantaloupe calves that we've heard in our politics. That's not the reality.

Despite this, President Trump's supporters note that the wall is just one component of the president's immigration plan. Another key factor is deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit crimes. That's everybody's priority. Trump has really pounded on the need. Homeland security statistics give us a story.

President Obama actually deported a record number of people during his time in office. Far more than his predecessor, George W. Bush, because there's always this suggestion that Obama made it all worse.

However, the rate of deportation did decline sharply during the final years of the Obama administration. Why? One suggestion is that, once they...