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Trump's Diplomatic Rift with Mexico Over Border Wall; Trump to Move Forward with Voter Fraud Probe. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 27, 2017 - 07:00   ET

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


diplomatic gift for Mexico.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless.

[07:00:09] REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are on the same page with the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president's investigation into false claims of voter fraud, delayed.

TRUMP: We also need to keep the ballot box safe from illegal voting.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: He is a liar who repeatedly lied to the American public, pushing propaganda.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off, Our friend Poppy is here with us. Thank you, Poppy Harlow.

In his first week in office, Donald Trump redefining the presidency, dramatically reshaping domestic and foreign policy. But he's overshadowing himself with tweets about phantom illegal voters and about crowd sizing. Now a huge diplomatic rift with the president of Mexico.

HARLOW: This as the White House is floating out a proposal, a proposed border tax, that he says -- the White House says will pay for that wall. And sort of walking it back.

But the bottom line, if they institute it, you, the American consumer, is going to get stuck with the bill. All this comes as the president meets with the British prime minister, Theresa May, at the White House just a few hours from now as we enter day eight of the Trump administration.

Let's begin our coverage this morning in the nation's capital with Sara Murray.

Good morning.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Well, Donald Trump will be hosting his first foreign leader at the White House today. As you said, it's the British prime minister Theresa May. The U.S. has, of course, had a very warm, very close relationship with Britain. Not so much for the world leader he's going to be talking to on Saturday. Trump is expected to have a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Now that as the president's diplomatic debut is off to a rocky start, with tensions flaring with Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): President Trump triggering a diplomatic showdown 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.

LUIS VIDEGARAY, MEXICO'S FOREIGN MINISTER: 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 any 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."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now the president's whirlwind schedule continues today. We're expecting him to hold a press conference with Theresa May at the White House. And then he's going to be heading over to the Pentagon, where we're expecting him to sign some executive orders and to lay out the objectives for how he wants to defeat ISIS to his new defense secretary, James Mattis.

Back to you, Chris.

HARLOW: All right. I'll take it from there. Sara, thank you so much.

Let's discuss all of this with John Negroponte. He's a former ambassador to Mexico and the former director of national intelligence.

Nice to have you on the program, sir.

JOHN NEGROPONTE, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO: Thank you.

HARLOW: I can't think of a better morning to have you on, given that NAFTA was negotiated on your watch; and I should endorse, you endorsed Clinton publicly in the election.

Look what the numbers tell us. Two things. There's two stories here. One: that trade with Mexico can be good for the U.S. economy and jobs. Some 6 million jobs are connected to it, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

It can also be bad to U.S. jobs, and cost at least 800,000 jobs from '97 to 2013.

Where do you fall on this fight between the U.S. president and the president of Mexico in terms of how it's all going to shake out?

NEGROPONTE: Well, first of all, it is -- the NAFTA has been good for the United States and Mexican economies. Trade has quadrupled or quintupled since the agreement was signed 25 years ago and there have been all sorts of benefits on both sides.

[07:05:04] Mexico is not only our third largest trading partner. It's our second -- second largest export market. More than $200 billion worth of products export to Mexico.

And another thing to bear in mind is that imports from Mexico have about 40 percent -- forty percent -- United States content.

HARLOW: Yes, they do.

NEGROPONTE: So that's also a very important factor. The second point is political. The NAFTA -- the entry and the force

of (ph) NAFTA began an era of very good and constructive feeling between the United States and Mexico, overcoming years of distrust. The book that was in vogue when I went to Mexico as ambassador more than 25 years ago was called "Distant Neighbors." We are no longer distant neighbors. We have highly integrated economies with supply chains between us, Canada and Mexico. And that has had very beneficial political side effects, that Mexicans don't bash the United States anymore. They learn to speak English. They like this country, and they've made the strategic accommodation to us.

It would be the height of irony if the United States, in this context, were to be the one that returns us to becoming distant neighbors again.

HARLOW: Look, and we know, because history has taught us, what happens when you slap a big tariff on things coming across the border. We did it in the 1930s. It made the Great Depression arguably protracted and worse.

However, isn't it seeing it through rose-colored glasses, to say that it has just been beneficial to the United States? I mean, I've been out. Chris has been out across this country over the last year, talking to people whose jobs were lost directly because of NAFTA.

Is it wrong for the president to say there's got to be a better deal?

NEGROPONTE: Some of these jobs have been lost because of globalization. Some of these jobs have been lost because of technology. Some of these jobs have been saved, because the factories move to Mexico instead of to China so that they were at least related economic activities that were conducted in the United States.

But the overall benefit has been one of growth in both economic activity and jobs. So, you know--

HARLOW: All right. Well, we know -- just as a point of fact, we know at least 800,000 jobs have been -- have been lost as a result of it. But let's move on to whether or not--

NEGROPONTE: But you cited the fact that some several million jobs are related to U.S.-Mexico.

HARLOW: But you and I can't know the pain of the people who have seen their livelihood go out the window. These 20 percent or 30 percent, or whatever it might be, could be in violation of the World Trade Organization rules. What's your take on that, Ambassador?

NEGROPONTE: I'm not certain, but I think that to impose a 20 percent tariff if, indeed, the president were to do that, would -- would begin a very mutually destructive set of activities. And I think could only lead in a negative direction and a downward spiral of economic activity between our two countries.

I think you also have to ask people that live in the border states like Texas and Arizona, New Mexico, California, how they would see these activities. Those people on our side of the border are going to feel that same pain if we start trying to quote, unquote, "punish Mexico."

HARLOW: Let's talk about the meeting that's going to happen in just a few hours at the White House. The president meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. In her remarks yesterday in Philadelphia, she said, "As we both renew our countries." She talked about a world of change and she said, "As dawn breaks on a new era of American renewal."

Obviously, the focus is not as much on that right now as it is on Mexico and this feud. What do you expect to come from the meeting of the two leaders and where these two countries, the U.K. and the U.S., go from here on trade and other key issues?

NEGROPONTE: Well, clearly -- well, first of all, Britain has been a great friend through the years. They're also a NATO ally. So I think that's important. And the first thing I would expect is a reaffirmation of a great friendship between our two countries.

I also wouldn't rule out, given there's been the Brexit, that there'd be some indication of the kind of priority that the president would plan to give the U.K. If and when they are able to negotiate a free trade arrangement with us. I understand they can't do that now, because they haven't formally left the Brexit yet. The European Union.

HARLOW: Right. And President Trump has talked a lot about wanting bilateral trade agreements, so that would fall right in there.

CUOMO: It would fit in.

HARLOW: It would fit in.

Let me ask before I let you go, we know tomorrow -- tomorrow afternoon, U.S. time, the president is going to have a call, probably his first conversation, I believe, with President Putin of Russia. He said on the campaign trail he had met Putin and then he hadn't, so who knows what it is.

But the Kremlin is saying this morning don't read too much into this phone call. This is the first time they're going to talk. It's going to be Vladimir Putin congratulating President Trump. What do you think the two men will discuss? What should we expect to come out of that?

[07:10:03] NEGROPONTE: Well, first of all, it's interesting that Mr. Putin has been trying to sort of dampen expectations of what might come from the phone call.

But secondly, I would say, when it comes to relations with China and Russia and the nuclear powers, it's very important for a president to establish relationships early on. So I think this is an important step. Obviously, not going to be the only one. As far as I'm concerned, they should be at some early day. I think the president should meet with all these important. HARLOW: Are you wary of the approach the president is taking toward

Vladimir Putin, being so -- such flattering comments back and not one negative tweet, not one negative comment? This as he and the president of Mexico are in a feud?

NEGROPONTE: I think "wary" is a good word. Where the Europeans must be concerned, I'm wary about his position on the Ukraine and whether we -- Mr. Trump might be tempted to give the Russians a pass on Ukraine. And so I think he has to go into this mindful of the importance of also maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with our NATO allies, so he has to kind of square that circle.

HARLOW: Yes, but as you know, he's called NATO obsolete.

We're out of time. Thank you, Ambassador. Have a nice weekend.

NEGROPONTE: OK. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. You make a good point, Poppy. You know, the president has said a lot of things, and a question we keep wondering is why does he say them? What is his basis for some of the things that he believes? Well, there was a tweet that may well have convinced the president he was robbed in the popular vote. The man who may have fueled the latest goose chase for alleged illegal voters is going to join us next. Can he prove what the president believes?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:15:34] CUOMO: All right. We do expect President Donald Trump to sign an executive action, launching an investigation into claims of widespread voter fraud. It hasn't happened yet, but he said he was going to do it. So we're waiting.

Our next guest first tweeted the claim that three million people voted illegally on November 11 [SIC]. That's Greg Phillips: "Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations. Number of non-citizen votes exceeds three million. Consulting legal team."

Now, two days later he sent another tweet: "We have verified more than three million votes cast by noncitizens. We are joining @TruetheVote to initiate legal action. #unrigged"

Those tweets went wild. They were disseminated by many right-wing sites. They became, apparently, a source for Donald Trump's voter fraud beliefs. Greg Phillips joins us now.

I appreciate you doing this. I know this has become increasingly uncomfortable, but it matters.

GREG PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, VOTESTAND: I'm glad to be here. Thanks.

CUOMO: First, what's your take? Do you accept the premise that the president may have, through back channels, picked up on what you put out in those initial tweets, as a suggestion, which we'll get to, and that is motivating his current belief? PHILLIPS: Well, I mean, he's president of the United States. It's

clearly way above my pay grade. Our analysis is what it is, and we believe that truth is truth. And if the president and his team believe the same is true, then maybe they are. But our motivations in initiating all of this had nothing to do with President Trump.

CUOMO: OK. So what is the truth, to use the word? Do you know and can you prove right now that 3 million people voted illegally?

PHILLIPS: Yes. We began this effort years and years ago. We have developed a database of 189 million voting records. We've augmented that database with everything from geocoding to all sorts of identifying information. We've developed algorithms that allow us to first verify identity. We can verify residence. We can verify citizenship, felon status, and all of the other factors that go into making a legal registered voter.

CUOMO: So you have the proof.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

CUOMO: Because when you tweeted those things and the media came to you about it, you said, "Hold on. This is just a tweet. I'm just some guy. I haven't proven it yet. This is what I think I'll be able to do in the future." Right? You did say that.

PHILLIPS: Well, I don't think I ever said that I think. I mean, our--

CUOMO: But you hadn't done it yet, what I'm saying. When you initially tweeted it, you admitted you hadn't done it yet.

PHILLIPS: That's not correct.

CUOMO: Because that's not what is picked up in "The Statement," an interview.

PHILLIPS: Well, "The Statesman" was wrong, as is often the case. Our concerns all along were simply that what we're talking about here is we're going to -- should we push this out there? We're talking about accusing 3 million people of multiple felonies. It's a federal felony to register to vote, and it's a federal felony to vote.

So if we jumped out there with -- with you know, just our initial analysis rather than refining it and quality checking it, we'd be out there with, you know, accusing, potentially, some people that really aren't committing felonies of felonies.

CUOMO: Well, how did you not do that in your first tweet? Just as a matter of fact. You said, "We know that 3 million illegally voted."

PHILLIPS: Right.

CUOMO: You did that already.

PHILLIPS: We didn't name a soul. We didn't name a person. CUOMO: And you still haven't.

PHILLIPS: But we will.

CUOMO: Do you have the proof?

PHILLIPS: Yes.

CUOMO: Will you provide it?

PHILLIPS: Yes.

CUOMO: Can I have it?

PHILLIPS: No.

CUOMO: Why?

PHILLIPS: We're not -- the rest of the tweets, there was a whole series of tweets. Those were taken slightly out of context, but one of the key tweets that we have stuck with all along is we're going to release all of this to the public. We're going to release our methodology. We're going to release the raw data. We're going to release our conclusions, and we're going to release everything to the public.

CUOMO: When?

PHILLIPS: As soon as we get done with the checks.

CUOMO: So you're not done checking it yet?

PHILLIPS: The challenge is this. Let's just say that we'll talk about verifying identity. Identity has a number of different components. Somebody might mistype a name, for example. It's Greg with two "G's," Greg with one "G."

CUOMO: Right.

[07:20:05] PHILLIPS: That can be fixed with -- with a type of algorithm called fuzzy logic, right? We can go in and fix that two "G's" really is one "G," or we think. But there's an element of risk in that.

Next you have to go to a dissimilarity index. How likely is it that "Greg Allen Phillips"--

CUOMO: Right.

PHILLIPS: -- is "Greg Phillips"?

CUOMO: Right.

PHILLIPS: And that creates another, even though it can be resolved, it creates another element.

CUOMO: I get it. It's very complicated.

PHILLIPS: Those pile themselves up. And even if you ended up with, say, a risk factor or a false negative or false positive, proportion of, say, 1 percent, you're still looking at a possibility of 30,000 people being accused of felonies.

CUOMO: Sure. So the first problem--

PHILLIPS: It's our interest and everybody else's best interests. That we take our time. Time--

CUOMO: I know.

PHILLIPS: -- is not as important as veracity.

CUOMO: Well, that's absolutely true. However, you're giving yourself the benefit of some facts here which aren't in your favor, which is you already said you made the -- you proved this, OK?

PHILLIPS: Right.

CUOMO: Now you're saying why you don't want to put out the information, because you're not 100 percent yet about who everybody is that they think they are. Well, those fight each other. Right? Because if I say I know, and then you say, "Great, prove it," and I say, "I can't, because I'm not done checking whether or not I'm sure"--

PHILLIPS: No.

CUOMO: -- it sounds unconvincing. Do you understand why?

PHILLIPS: Sure. I do understand, but it's no different than, say, a poll. You guys quote polls all the time. Right?

CUOMO: It better be a lot different. That is a guestimate. It's always a guesstimate.

PHILLIPS: But they've actually talked to people. So what you're publishing is you're publishing statistics. Right? And so you're publishing a number that is, you know, plus or minus 3 percent, that we believe this -- this drastic.

They don't publish the people, what the people said, right? They don't publish the names of the people. And that's what we're doing. We're going back in and checking. We know the numbers are right. We're going back in and checking.

CUOMO: But that's different. That's different.

PHILLIPS: No.

CUOMO: That's different, because that's a representative survey of a group. I don't want to get too deep in the weeds. But the basic difference is--

PHILLIPS: Well, 3 million is a representative survey--

CUOMO: But it better--

PHILLIPS: -- of 37 million.

CUOMO: But it better not be a survey. It better be a fixed number of votes that were wrongfully cast, because it can't be a guess. It can't be an estimate, because this is about the legitimacy of a democracy. You would put it on the line, saying it is illegitimate. You said our process was illegitimate and you can prove it. You're now saying, "Well, we're not there yet. Making sure we have all the names right. "That's what I'm hearing.

PHILLIPS: We're interested in free and fair elections. Going back to 1984, federal grand juries and others have determined tens of thousands of noncitizens were registered to vote and voting.

CUOMO: Well, that -- the studies--

PHILLIPS: That's not a study. That's a federal grand jury report.

CUOMO: Well, but what is it based on? Right? They have amici come in, right? They have friends of the court come in and present data to the grand jury.

What I'm saying is everyone who's looked at this said is there fraud in our system? Yes. Do we have people who register wrongly, who vote properly? Are there shenanigans by parties and government infrastructures? Yes, but de minimus. Small. The number of prosecuted cases in the dozens.

Over a billion votes were surveyed, and they came back with marginal results.

You're saying you can prove 3 million people. The only other person who says that is the president of the United States. So you've got to prove it.

PHILLIPS: I'm saying what's happened here is that over time, while we do have those shenanigans, as you call them, the actual fraudsters that are out trying to sway elections. What's happened over time is that we've allowed a system that has, in essence, institutionalized the frauds.

So if someone comes into the federal registration system and checks the box and says, "I'm a citizen," and no one ever checks that, and that person ends up on the voter rolls, how can we then declare that we have a free and fair set of elections, if we have tens of thousands, millions of people that have been allowed to lie?

CUOMO: But you're making an assumption on an unknown. You can't know how many people checked the box wrongly.

PHILLIPS: But we do. We gathered that information.

CUOMO: Then you have to show us the proof. PHILLIPS: We will.

CUOMO: But you haven't.

PHILLIPS: We will.

CUOMO: But why would I believe your conclusion if you won't show me your method and means and analysis?

PHILLIPS: Whether you believe it or not doesn't mean that it's not true. Whether you have the information or not doesn't mean that I don't have the information.

CUOMO: Right, but you can't prove it.

PHILLIPS: Truth is truth, irrespective. Right?

CUOMO: Ronald Reagan, trust but verify. You're not allowing the second part of that equation, because you haven't put out the information. And you're doing it to the disadvantage of a lot of Americans who want to know the answer to this.

PHILLIPS: There's 3 million people's own veracity of whether or not they're citizens in the balance here. We're not going to make a mistake.

CUOMO: But that's -- but you already accused them.

PHILLIPS: Look, I'm not a politician. I'm just a guy. We're volunteers, man.

CUOMO: That's -- that's an excuse. That's a convenience. You put it out there. It got picked up by all these righty sites. It made its way to the president. He's now putting it forth as truth. You've got to show what you know.

PHILLIPS: We will.

CUOMO: But when?

PHILLIPS: When the time is right.

[07:25:00] CUOMO: What does that mean? When the time is right? The time is right, right now. That's why we're here. I didn't just bump into you in the hallway. You came here to talk about this.

PHILLIPS: Look at this it this way. The technology exists for the federal government right now today to match this data out and give us the answer, right?

CUOMO: I don't know.

PHILLIPS: The Department of Homeland Security has the information. They can match it against the voter file, and they can give us this answer.

CUOMO: I don't know that.

PHILLIPS: So why won't they?

CUOMO: I don't know that anything you're saying is true. I don't know that they know who every noncitizen is who voted illegally in the United States.

PHILLIPS: They will as soon as they make the match and as soon as Attorney General Sessions orders that be done and--

CUOMO: Hold on. So you're saying you're waiting for somebody else to do something so they'll know the answer? Because I'm not waiting on the government to tell me.

PHILLIPS: I'm saying it's easier for them. For us it's tedious.

CUOMO: But what I'm saying is, look, either you know or you don't. What I'm hearing is you think you'll be able to show it.

PHILLIPS: No, what you're hearing is that I know. You just don't believe that I know.

CUOMO: Why would I believe it if you don't show how you know it? Come on. This is -- this is a very silly circle that we're going in here. You say you can prove it. I say, "OK. I trust you. You can prove it. Show me."

You say, "I will," but you're not. Can you give me an estimated date?

PHILLIPS: We believe that -- that it will probably take another few months to get this done.

CUOMO: And yet, even though you need a few more months to get it done, you think you know the answer right now?

PHILLIPS: We're volunteers. We know we have the answer.

CUOMO: Even though you can't prove it, you think you know?

PHILLIPS: The number is actually bigger.

CUOMO: Well, whatever. You can say the number is whatever it is. You have to show it.

One other question. You put this out in the beginning of November. The states didn't certify until after that. I think Vermont was one of the few ones that came out four days after. So you couldn't have done it off certifying voter returns, because you wouldn't have had it. That was an impossibility, in fact. So that means you must have based it on early voting. Is that a safe assumption?

PHILLIPS: In part.

CUOMO: Because you can't do it off the certified counts, because you didn't have them when you put out the tweet. PHILLIPS: But -- but there's all sort of ways. You guys know about

get out the vote. Right? I mean, one of the ways you do is you have poll watchers there to wait and see who signs in.

CUOMO: That's not precise.

PHILLIPS: And whoever doesn't sign in, then you go get them.

CUOMO: That's not precise.

PHILLIPS: We are as precise as we need to be.

More than 3 million noncitizens voted in this country in this election. We're prepared to prove it. We need a little more time. The president, should he choose to, can ask his attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security to make that match on a dime, make the decision. We don't have to do the work.

CUOMO: NO, you have to do the work. You have to do it, Greg, because you can't say, "I know this is true. Let's have them prove it."

PHILLIPS: We're doing it.

CUOMO: This is on you.

PHILLIPS: We're doing it. As fast as we can.

CUOMO: Right. But you already said you had the answer. You understand what I'm saying?

PHILLIPS: We do.

CUOMO: Well, you understand that logically that doesn't go together. If I know the answer to something, it's because I've concluded my process of analysis not because I'm in the middle of it.

PHILLIPS: Not necessarily. You can -- you can reach a conclusion and then still verify. You can still go back and--

CUOMO: How do you know that you're right?

PHILLIPS: That's exactly what we're doing. We're going back.

CUOMO: And shouldn't you have waited to say that you know for sure before you were sure?

PHILLIPS: The other side of it is, so I tweet. People say lots of things. People said I was a Russian spy.

CUOMO: Here's what they say. I care about the facts. And we have all these studies that looked at all of these things.

PHILLIPS: If you care--

CUOMO: The professors that you put out there and say, "This is what Trump is listening to. It's not us." They've been debunked by the guys who developed their data.

PHILLIPS: Wait, Chris. I didn't put any professor out there.

CUOMO: You said, "I think Trump is referring to these two guys from George Mason University." Those professors who put out a study. You're quoted as saying it.

PHILLIPS: No, I did not.

CUOMO: So somebody just put those words in your mouth?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely.

CUOMO: All right. Well, that's another problem then, right?

All right. Will you let us know when you're going to tell everybody but us?

PHILLIPS: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Greg, appreciate you having the conversation. It matters.

Poppy.

HARLOW: It matters a lot. Thanks very much.

Up next how are Republicans and Congress feeling about President Trump's first week in office and his diplomatic rift, shall we say, with Mexico? A Republican lawmaker who was in the room for his remarks joins us next.

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