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Trump Returns to Campaign Mode, Touting U.S. Jobs; Priebus Attacks "Phony Stories". Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 17, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news, the president back on the campaign trail, but what is he campaigning for? This is CNN Tonight, I'm Don Lemon.
The president in Mar-a-Lago right now and capping off his first full month in office with what else, a raucous campaign-style rally in an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Florida. Trump reportedly itching to get out of the White House bubble, but taking his inner circle with him to Florida. On the agenda, ObamaCare, tax reform, and the search for a new National Security Adviser. As we have learned this past month, anything could happen.
Let's get right to it now, CNN's White House Correspondent, Ms. Athena Jones, she's live for us tonight in Palm Beach, Florida. Good evening to you, Athena. Let's take a step back in time, shall we? Get in the old time capsule. Can you believe it was just one month ago we were all watching this, we're down in D.C., quite a month that it's been. Oh, the dance with his wife, that it's been. What's happening tonight?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been quite a month, Don. It's really hard to believe it's only been four weeks. I said earlier on that we should be measuring time in dog years because so much can happen on any given day and a lot of what's happened hasn't been such good news for the president.
And so the press conference yesterday, this rally tomorrow, is seen as something of a way of reset thing for the president. On the way down here to Mar-a-Lago, he made a stop in South Carolina, toured a Boeing factory. Here is part of what he had to say during that visit.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP]
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: When American workers win, America as a country wins, big league, wins. That's my message here today. America is going to start winning again, winning like never ever before.
[END VIDEO CLIP]
JONES: So by now you're hear -- that's by now familiar rhetoric, a lot of the kind words and rhetoric we heard on the campaign trail and very much what we expect to hear from the president tomorrow at that rally at the Orlando Melbourne Airport. And I should mention, this is being described by the White House as a campaign rally, a rally that's going to be paid for by his campaign and it's seen as a way to get around the media filter that we've heard the president talk so much about and get -- and speak directly to the people, it's something that he's very much looking forward to, Don.
LEMON: Athena, what's the latest on the president's search to replace his national security adviser?
JONES: Well, he's expected this weekend to have several meetings with potential replacements for that that now former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. He's slated to meet with the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, also to meet with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster and with the acting National Security Adviser, Keith Kellogg, who is a retired Lieutenant General, all of this from a senior administration official who is making it very clear that the president will not be vacationing here at his vacation home. Don?
LEMON: All right. Athena Jones, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now Political Analyst Kirsten Powers, Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, CNN Presidential Historian Timothy Naftali, and Senior Contributor Salena Zito.
So, good to have you all on this Friday evening. Good evening.
KIRSTEN POWERS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
LEMON: Kirsten, what do you make of the president holding a campaign rally tomorrow and then being down at Mar-a-Lago for a third straight weekend?
POWERS: I think it's strange, I would say. It's an unusual thing to do so soon after you were elected and it doesn't -- I think we understand that he does this kind of stuff because he likes to be around crowds and he gets this energy from that but it does seem like there's probably a lot of other things he could be spending his time on back in Washington, or even there not having a campaign rally at Mar-a-Lago working on, but doesn't involve running for office again.
LEMON: Yes. It's kind of funny, the campaign rally and if there was -- I think we've seen this from other presidents, if I'm not mistaken, Timothy, when they're trying to get some sort of legislation through, when we saw the former president, President Obama, when he wanted to get his ObamaCare through or the Affordable Care Act through, he took it on the road to get the support of the American people. What's he trying to get to support of?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI: It's not clear at the moment, because he hasn't rolled out his major legislative legacy projects.
I mean, it's not unusual for presidents to take a while. President Obama did it quickly. The stimulus package was achieved within weeks of his coming into office, but for George W. Bush, it took him until June of 2001 to get his tax cuts. Ronald Reagan took until late in the summer of 1981 to get his tax cuts pushed through.
So, it's not unusual for it to take a while for the legislative achievement to be achieved. What's strange is we don't know what he's selling. What we do know is that President Trump is trying to change the subject and to distract us from some of the problems that he's been having in Washington.
LEMON: I think Kirsten believes she knows what he's selling.
POWERS: Well he's selling himself, right? I mean he doesn't appear to be -- I must have misunderstood this, this isn't he's going out to drum up support for some agenda item, that would be completely understandable. This just -- if you're going to call it a campaign rally, what's he campaigning for?
LEMON: Yes. But also I think Timothy, you're right, he wants to take the focus off of what he says has been a fine-tuned machine, I think most Americans don't see it that way. So Salena, do you think Trump supporters see bluster or tangible accomplishments?
SALENA ZITO, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR: Well, both.
LEMON: Wow, that was a nice pause there. Say what you really feel.
ZITO: No. Sometimes it's like a parallel universe, right? So you see sort of all this drama and everything playing out on a daily basis within this administration through our coverage.
But you also see underlying are some of the things that he's been trying to do, right? He met with CEOs of the airline industry, he met with Ford, he met with GM and I know he's been working with McConnell and Ryan. I had an interview with the Majority Leader on Wednesday. So I know he's doing things behind the scene, whether you agree or not with the executive order, he rolled that out.
So he's got sort of these parallel things going on. Look, if he treats this as a way to lay out policy and campaign -- and not take a step backward and campaign, but talk about what he's going to do, and like you said, offer tangible benefits, this is a one hundred percent win. Today, what he did to Boeing was perfect, but if this is sort of re-litigating how much he's won by and sort of all that other noise that he repeats, I don't think he benefits from that and I don't think that the voters benefit from it. They want to keep moving forward, they don't want to look in the rearview mirror here.
LEMON: I think maybe people around him and he may think like, "This is great. I'm going to go back out" and he keeps talking about his poll numbers, about the electoral college and about on and on, about the size of the crowds and all of those things that -- I really think that his supporters are tired of hearing it.
I think it's like a broken record now and he needs to move forward and if he doesn't, he's going to move backwards. Larry, and listen, let's get a read on the new numbers, they may show that, this is from Pew. Trump's overall job approval rating is at 39 percent, 59 percent disapproval rating. Should Trump care -- 56, excuse me, should he care?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I don't know whether he should care, Don, but he doesn't.
He's got another 47 months to serve just in his term and he's enjoying campaigning, he practically announced for reelection the evening he won, do you remember what he said in the acceptance address? So he's having a great time. We -- here's what we've learned in 29 days about him personally, he's energized at press conferences, he is energized at campaign rallies, and he's energized while golfing.
So if his staff wants to keep him happy, that's what they're going to focus on. And as for the rest of us, Don, you look historically and Tim may agree or disagree with this, but FDR had the New Deal, JFK had the New Frontier, Donald Trump has the New Abnormal and we might as well get used to it, it's not going to change.
LEMON: Yes, I think that's some good advice. But listen, and I think this backs it up because if you look at his approval among Republicans, he's at 90 percent, right? So can he -- but the question is, Larry, can he succeed with just them?
SABATO: Yes, he can. Well I'll tell you, Gallup also had him at 38 percent. So Gallup and Pew have it about right, but here's the difference, they're measuring all adults and that's a giant pool of people, many of whom, millions of whom, don't show up on Election Day.
If you restrict it to just voters, nothing has changed since November 8th, he's still at around 46 percent and the opposition to him is somewhere around 54 percent. Again, everything has been happening, sound and fury in all kinds of ways, signifying nothing in terms of a change in the electorate.
LEMON: Okay. Quickly, I want to get back to Salena because I hear what you're saying, Larry, but then I think there's a whole other side of maybe independents or people who are sort of waffling and liberals who have become energized, and that's why I say, should he worry about that, can he win with just the number that he has? Because he won 48 percent of college-educated whites in exit polling. So Salena, again, the question is, can he win with just that?
ZITO: Well, what he needs is that sort of squishy middle of people who voted for Obama twice, did not feel as though -- were unsatisfied with that and gave him a chance, because they wanted sort of what we've talked about, disrupt and change.
LEMON: But his approval with them is 39 percent right now.
ZITO: Right. I mean, those are the people you need to retain. So I don't know that winning with just Republicans is enough.
It's never been enough for any candidate to just win with your base. You always have to have that movable independent pool of voters to sustain you and take you over the top. He won those in the election, but they're always the most fickle among our voters.
LEMON: Yes. It's funny that we're talking about this because the election just happened, now he's on a campaign stop, going...
POWERS: Well -- I mean, yes, that's why today is meaningless in terms of whether he gets reelected. Donald --
LEMON: He cares so much about numbers of all kinds.
POWERS: Donald -- I know. But if Donald Trump gets elected it will be because he kept the country safe and he created the jobs and the economy is doing well. That's the bottom line, that's what will move people to his side.
In terms of the question you asked before about whether he can be successful now, he can. He has 900 percent of Republicans and that's all -- what he needs is he needs the Republican Congress to do what he wants to do and they seem willing to do it and the only way that they would turn against him is if those Republican voters turned against him. So he's actually in perfectly good shape in terms of getting his agenda accomplished.
LEMON: Two questions sort of folded into one for you, Tim -- Timothy, it was clear from yesterday's press conference that and it's clear tonight that the president is attacking the media via Twitter and elsewhere, it's getting kind of stale.
I mean he's kind of sounding like your dad -- I don't know, we were talk -- Kirsten and I were talking about this, there's a commercial for your credit score and the dad keeps telling the kid, telling him stale jokes and he's like -- and then he said, "shazam" and the kid's like, "I got to get out of this house." I mean it's getting really old, people laugh at it, I think even his supporters are like, "Please, move on Donald Trump." Has any other president attacked the press publicly like this and is that stale now?
NAFTALI: Well it's not stale yet, but this is unprecedented. I mean Larry was talking about the New Abnormal.
Presidents have hated the press. There are some really choice taped conversations involving John F. Kennedy where he and Bobby are talking about how much they dislike the press. But the difference was the presidents with the exception of Nixon and during the depth of Watergate didn't show it.
They were careful to project this sense of respect, that's the difference. Donald Trump ended the honeymoon such as it was with the press himself, unilaterally. Whether the public gets tired of it, that we're going to see. But I'll tell you one thing --
LEMON: I think they are. I think that -- I really do think -- I think when he does it and people are in the meeting room like, "Okay, great. So what happened with your National Security Adviser? Tell us about Russia." Okay. And they just say sort of laugh it off. It just becomes -- it's just dumb.
NAFTALI: It's the over -- I'll tell you one thing, it's the overkill. He looked strong during part of that press conference and then he says things that are patently untrue when he talks about the Ninth Circuit being overturned 80 percent of the time by the Supreme Court.
The Ninth Circuit had for example 12,000 -- it decided 12,000 cases in 2008 and the Supreme Court overturned 16, that's a percent of a percent but he does this. He looks strong and then he says things are patent lies. At some point, I think the public will tire of that.
LEMON: Okay. When we come right back, there is no question that President Trump is shaking things up, but what has he actually accomplished in his first month?
LEMON: President Trump is spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, he's reportedly working with his staff on repeal and replacing ObamaCare, tax reform, and filling the job of national security adviser.
Let's speak now with Mr. Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS that airs on Sunday.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: 10:00 AM.
LEMON: 10:00 AM and it repeats at 1:00 PM. So make sure you tune in. And DVR, do all of it.
So it's been four weeks since the Trump presidency, now I want to -- this is -- I want to get your take on how he's doing but here's what you write for the Washington Post, you said, "We are witnessing a rocking-horse presidency in which everyone is jerking back and forth furiously, yet there is no forward movement. He has had photo ops with everyone from Kanye West, Jack Ma to Shinzo Abe and Justin Trudeau. Now he is embroiled in a controversy about ties to Russia. But in the midst of it all, what has he actually done? Hardly anything." So you said he's putting on just a great circus? A side show or is it smoke and mirrors?
ZAKARIA: I think perhaps he's faced in a sense this is what being president is, being on TV a lot and dominating the agenda. But in a sense, somebody needs to point out to him, he's president, he could dominate the news agenda, the media landscape every day all the time --
LEMON: In a smart way.
ZAKARIA: -- if he wants to. What he has to do is actually govern, that's the part. And if you look at, look, there's objective data on this, there are 700 positions that the president appoints, key positions that require Senate confirmation. He has barely appointed 40 of those people.
So forget about the Senate blocking stuff, just the people he's appointed. If you look at legislation, FDR is the goal standard, he passed 75 bills in the first 100 days. But even Clinton passed 25, Obama passed about 25. As far as I can tell, Trump is maybe on track to pass 10 at most. If you look at the executive orders, most of the executive orders were just kind of expressions of his -- what he wanted to do.
LEMON: What he wants to do and they're photo ops but he's done lots of those so people think, "Oh my gosh, he's doing things" and he's announcing like I'm doing this on Twitter. And if you look at even if you do --
ZAKARIA: And there's one that did something with the temporary ban which, of course, the courts -- it was so poorly written that it got blocked in the courts.
LEMON: But even yesterday when he was talking about Wal-Mart and jobs and all that, those things were announced before he was president, a lot of those were announced before...
ZAKARIA: They're pure photo ops. I mean the most -- my favorite one is Toyota was when he angrily denounced it, said, "We are going to invest $10 billion in America over the next five years."
Do you know how much money they invested in America in the previous five years? $10 billion. It's their largest market, they invest $2 billion a year annually but they gave him a number as Prime Minister Abe of Japan sent a message to his bureaucrats saying, "I need a tweetable number that I can deliver to the American president of what we're doing."
It's all become a game, it's become photo ops, it's become government by anecdote but nothing is actually happening.
LEMON: But that's why I said people should get their information, their news from more than one source, you should read about it because someone sent me an email saying, "Why didn't Congressman Cummings, why did he turn down a meeting? Why hasn't he met with the president?"
And I sent them four clips, links of stories explaining to them what happened and how it wasn't the Congressman and they said, "Oh, I didn't know that," because you were watching one news source where they didn't tell you that.
ZAKARIA: Well honestly because you have the president of the United States saying things that are, how does one put it, not factually accurate.
LEMON: Right. Doesn't line up with the facts or reality. But also I heard -- I've been hearing this conversation, I heard it on Erin's show this evening, I thought it was fascinating.
That the market is optimistic possibly and you can give him credit for that, that the market is actually doing better, the economy is good, you'd have to get that momentum to the former president, but at least he's keeping it on track in the past four weeks.
ZAKARIA: Look, the market is optimistic and it's optimistic for some good reasons. First of all, he's inherited a good economy, secondly, some of the plans he has, infrastructure, tax reform, maybe some deregulation, they're all good ideas. Markets often get ahead of themselves in the sense that the market is assuming all the good things that it wants Trump to do he will do, and they're assuming all the bad things that he's saying, protectionism, deporting two million people which would screw up the American economy enormously, that somehow they won't happen.
ZAKARIA: Maybe that's right, maybe that's wrong but one has to point out to people who say the markets are up. If you're a judge -- if your gauge of how a president has done is what the stock market is doing, then Barack Obama is in -- should be sitting on Mount Olympus because the stock market tripled under Barack Obama.
LEMON: Yes. Because it's not an actual gauge of the health of the economy.
ZAKARIA: It's a gauge of many different things but, again, the--
LEMON: But most people in the middle, Trump voters are, even the Hillary Clinton voters, they don't have stocks.
ZAKARIA: Right. They don't have stocks, and the far more important issue is what is happening fundamentally to the economy?
Do we have a tax reform proposal, serious negotiations for it going forward? No. Do we have serious infrastructure proposals going forward? No. Do we have serious healthcare reform proposals going forward? No. There's nothing out there. That's what I'm saying, we're seeing Trump every day, he's tweeting every day but what about governing?
LEMON: Yes. Yes. 401K's, pensions and stock but individual stocks most people I would say in the middle don't have that.
So I want to talk about this because this is very important. Senator Marco Rubio was tweeting this after meeting with Sanders and the -- with Senators, excuse me, and the FBI Director, James Comey today, he says, "I'm now very confident that Senate Intel Committee I serve on will conduct a thorough bipartisan investigation on Putin interference and influence." What's your reaction?
ZAKARIA: I think it's incredibly important and I think Marco Rubio has been showing himself to be a very serious Senator in these last couple of months.
I think it's important to remember, this really is beyond partisanship. Cyber war is the next frontier, it is the place where the great powers are jostling, it may become the next place where terrorists try to take advantage of big established countries like the United States. We have to figure out how the Russians did what they did, what they did, what other countries are doing. China, maybe there is an ISIS element here we need to be worried about, and what the United States should do to defend against it, to counteract.
This is really important stuff, this is -- as I said, this is -- nobody is going to launch a conventional attack against the United States, we're too powerful. What they are going to do is exactly what has happened. And so we need to figure out what our strategy is going forward. And sitting in denial and turning it into a partisan issue doesn't help on either side actually. I think we need to really recognize, we need to get much better at this, much smarter at this, otherwise, this is where people are going to keep attacking.
LEMON: I wonder what Comey said to him to make him so sure to tweet that out.
LEMON: It must have been something.
ZAKARIA: Well you have 16 agencies all saying with high confidence that they think the Russians did it, that very rarely happens.
LEMON: All right. Fareed, I want you to stay with me because up next, reports that the White House believes the president needs an enemy, guess who he picked, ISIS, Al Qaeda, North Korea? Nahhh.
LEMON: I'm back now with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. So earlier today, the president tweeted about fake news and he said the media, the fake news media is the enemy for him and the American people. So let's be frank, I mean this is something that democratically elected leaders and free democracies just don't do.
ZAKARIA: We've never seen anything like this. Look, what's striking to me is when you look at countries like Turkey, Hungary which have gone down a path where they have become progressively less democratic, they have essentially turned into what I call illiberal democracies rather than liberal democracies.
Often what happens is, there's no big violation of the law or constitution, it's the assault on these institutions: the media and the courts, these are the two places that people like Erdogan, people like Putin, they go after them because the courts and the media are the two things that stand between an elected popular leader and total power.
And it's not -- it's deeply worrying that these are the two institutions that Donald Trump has gone after hammer and tongs. It really is so debilitating to the strength of American democracy, whatever he thinks about them. And Richard Nixon and his darkest days did not do anything like that.
LEMON: Well what's interesting to me when you sit back and you look at it because I'm here every single night and cover almost every nuance of it is you know what projection is, right?
Everything that he says about something else or an opponent, it can, in some way he is guilty of himself, right? If he says about the Clinton corruption or whatever or the possible ties between whatever, maybe there's some possible ties between him and Russia and on and on, and fake news media, well he doesn't always tell the truth. So there's sort of this projection that he puts on people that he feels that are not in his camp or he can't control.
But really, this is what our colleague Ryan (inaudible) a senior White House official last week told him that the reason that the administration has been adrift since November is they've yet to adjust to the post-election reality and they haven't learned how to operate without a single common enemy, Hillary Clinton, to focus on, the big debate inside the White House has been who to define as Trump's enemy. What do you think -- why does he need an enemy?
ZAKARIA: Because they're still in campaign mode.
I think they really haven't moved to governing. They haven't really sat down and said, OK, if we're to try and govern, what is the big coalition we get? What is the broad tent we get. And part of it is they have Democrat -- they have Republican majorities in the House and the Senate so maybe they think they don't need it, but it's a big mistake.
Look, if there's one lesson you can learn from the Obama first two years, it's reach out as much as you can. If you have to compromise on the legislation, compromise, because you will end up with something that has some greater legitimacy. Don't narrowly pass laws that only your side votes for.
And it seems, as though, Trump has gone much farther than that. He's still campaigning. He's holding campaign rallies. On Saturday, he's going to hold essentially a campaign rally in Florida. I can't think of another president who two weeks, three weeks into his presidency, still doing campaign rallies, talking about the enemy, talking about his political opponent. He's meant to be representing all the people, including those people who didn't vote for him.
LEMON: And one thing in those rallies, you know, he's always going to talk about, you know, the media and going off on the media. I'll tell you something, though, if someone does something to a member of the media, I wonder how he will feel about it, right? Because he talks about -- he riles people up and we saw that during the campaign.
Then he said, yesterday, you know, they want to throw their placards at you. If something happens I wonder if he will feel responsible in any way? But I want to move on. I want to talk about this.
John McCain had a clear message to the president today. This is at the security conference in Germany. He's talking here about what the founders of this conference would think about the West and the world today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: They would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and tore old ties of blood and race and sectarianism. They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see toward immigration and refugees and minority groups especially Muslims. They would be alarmed by the growing inability and even unwillingness to separate truth from lies. They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.
But what would alarm them most I think is a sense that many of our peoples including my own country are giving up on the West. That they see it as bad deal that we may be better off without. And that while western nations still have the power to maintain our world order, it's unclear whether we have the will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So here's the thing, despite Donald Trump mocking his service, his POW status, criticizing his positions during the campaign, John McCain didn't abandon his support for him until after that "Access Hollywood" tape came out. And now he is saying this. Clearly, he is speaking. Do you think he is speaking about Donald Trump?
ZAKARIA: That was pretty clearly, directly about Donald Trump.
LEMON: That's what we saw. What has changed? Nothing has change.
ZAKARIA: Look, I criticized John McCain during the campaign for not coming out more forcefully. I think I was wrong. Here was McCain's calculation.
Franklin Roosevelt once said it's no fun being the leader without followers. I think he concluded he could not win re-election as a senator from Arizona if he didn't in some way stay reasonably close to Trump. He couldn't distance himself too far.
He turned out to be right. He got re-elected and now he is acting on principle on this, on torture, on the immigrant ban. McCain -- I mean, look, right now, given Republican majorities in the House and Senate, the hope we have to have in terms of what will restrain Donald Trump, the supports, the media to what extent it can and a few Republican senators. And in that respect, John McCain has been a profile in courage.
LEMON: But does that make the criticism any more or less credible now considering what happened in the campaign trail? Now is it too late?
ZAKARIA: I don't think it's too late. I think that at the end of the day, Trump was a steamroller that was going to win the Republican nomination certainly.
And I think McCain made a judgment that, you know, he was not going to be particularly effective as a former senator. He would be more effective as a sitting senator in checking Trump.
As I said, I certainly felt he should have criticized him more. I wonder if I were wrong. Because if he had lost, who would be checking Donald Trump today if not for John McCain. You know, there are not a lot of people in the Senate willing to do it. LEMON: Do you think that there are going to be more and more people like him coming out. If he continues not to accomplish anything legislatively?
ZAKARIA: I worry that they won't, because the dynamic in Congress is very simple. All that people care about is re-election. And most importantly, they care about primary challenges, which means you're looking at the most extreme part of the Republican Party. Are they going to challenge you?
And, you know, what's better? Support Donald Trump or oppose him? And on that metric, probably the answer is support Donald Trump. They're all going to know that if they oppose Donald Trump, 10 percent of the Republican Party, the most extreme people will launch a primary challenge against them.
[22:35:00] Trump has this core support that has cowed all the Republicans. Remember, fascinating statistic when Paul Ryan came out against Trump a few weeks before the election.
ZAKARIA: In the next 10 days, he dropped 25 points in approval rating in the Republican Party.
ZAKARIA: That was the cost of opposing Donald Trump.
LEMON: I think most people would say, though, if you're not a politician, being able to sleep at night or to live with your own conscience would be the standard, but --
ZAKARIA: You can't be a leader if you don't have any followers.
LEMON: Thank you, Fareed Zakaria. Always a pleasure.
This weekend, Caroline Kennedy joins Fareed to discuss American diplomacy under President Trump. That's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" Sunday morning at 10:00 Eastern and repeats again at 1:00.
When we come right back, President Trump in his happy place out on the Washington bubble and back on the campaign trail.
LEMON: President Trump in South Carolina today with the message that got him elected -- jobs, jobs and jobs.
Let's discuss now. CNN political contributor Maria Cardona; Karine Jean Pierre, senior at MoveOn.org; CNN political commentators Paris Dennard and Andre Bauer.
Good evening all of you. Doing OK? MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening, Don. Hi.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR AT MOVEON.ORG: Hey, Don. Happy Friday.
CARDONA: Happy Friday.
LEMON: So the president was on message today, speaking about the economy and jobs. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:40:12] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since November jobs have already begun to surge. We're seeing companies open up factories in America. That's what we do in America. We dream of things and then we build them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, but Andre, then he fires off these tweets slamming the media. Everybody is you know -- why not capitalize on the day he had when he, you know, was looking presidential out on the campaign trail, because he says he is on the campaign trail.
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I thought he did capitalize on it. Look, this is a revival for working-class people when he gets on the stump. He feeds off crowds. It let's him speak directly to the American people and he actually can do it without the media changing the narrative. And so I thought he was right on message.
It's right down the street from my house. He won 44 out of 46 counties in Republican primary there. I mean, he slam dunked it in South Carolina and these people love him.
LEMON: Yes. Paris, Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Florida tomorrow. Is this already the start of his re-election campaign?
PARIS DENNARD, GOP POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, listen, every politician is always thinking about their re-election. I think what this is is a way for the president to go directly to the people --
LEMON: I mean, one month? You know, come on, Paris.
DENNARD: You know, it's that serious. I mean, people are -- politicians are always thinking about their re-election campaigns and they are always fundraising. That's why the beauty of the Donald Trump presidency and candidacy is that he doesn't have to fundraise the way other and he's not beholden to special interests.
And so I think these rallies are a good thing. He has had a very much -- a large support in the base. 84 percent of Republicans support and approve of Donald J. Trump as president. And so, I think --
LEMON: I think it's like 90 percent.
DENNARD: I'll take 90. 90 percent. I thought Rasmussen had him at 84. But you say 90, I think it's a good thing for him to go out there and talk directly to the people, because there's a narrative out there that the White House is putting out, which I think is certainly true that there's a filter, a filter between what the White House is doing and what the media is saying.
And so between the White House and the truth, there's the media, and so they're trying to break through that and get direct to the people. That's what you saw in that press conference, him actually saying this is my record. This is what I'm doing. That's what his rally is about.
LEMON: Karine, every single president has complained about a filter because, you know, they want the media to be parrots and we're not.
JEAN-PIERRE: Great. I think that's exactly right. Look, looking at today, we're excited because Donald Trump stayed on a teleprompter and delivered a message, but yet hours later, he went to Twitter and attack the media.
I mean, this is what he does. And what Donald Trump needs to start doing is actually governing, actually getting to work. Not having a rally tomorrow three weeks into his presidential -- his presidency; you know, four years before his re-election. It doesn't make sense.
I mean, just put politics aside for a second. Do we really think the last 28 days has assured us, like he really has shown that he can govern?
And governing is not just, you know, meeting with world leaders. That's wonderful. Yes, he's been doing that. But it's also having a relationship with press. It's also having a relationship with the intelligence community. It's also having a relationship with Congress. And he just hasn't been doing that. It's just been pure chaos.
LEMON: You know, legislative agenda as well. I mean, that's the big part of it. I think that's what his supporters want. They want him to start doing -- getting things through that he said. Not just signing executive orders or saying this is what we want to do.
Maria, when you look at yesterday's off-the-cuff press conference and tomorrow's rally in Melbourne, Florida, what do you think the president is trying to do, or his administration, or the people around him. Press the reset button? Go back to his campaign style to do it?
CARDONA: Yes, absolutely. Look, I think, a couple things here.
Yes, he is trying to distract all of us and I think rightly so for him because the last three weeks have been nothing but a dumpster fire of a debacle for this new administration.
There is a reason why he is at 38 percent approval rating not even a month into his first administration. And so what he is also doing, I think, is he was feeling the heat in Washington. When you feel the heat, you get out of the kitchen.
He needed us to think about things other than Flynnghazi, other than his ties to Russia, other than the fact that North Korea is thumbing their nose at us, other than the fact that China is thumbing their nose at us --
LEMON: Flynnghazi? There's a name for it already.
LEMON: How about -- I do have to say, though. I mean, if you look at, if you --
CARDONA: That's the beauty of Twitter right, Don?
[22:45:00] LEMON: If you look at Trump supporters, though, they think it's, you know, that it hasn't been -- what did you say something, I forget, before you said dumpster fire? But they think he's actually --
CARDONA: A debacle.
BAUER: No. They like him. They like what's happening, Don.
LEMON: Go ahead, Andre. Yes, go ahead.
CARDONA: They do.
BAUER: Well, out of TPP, Keystone Pipeline, Dakota Pipeline, free zone federal employees except the military and essentials. There's a multitude of things he's done that people are happy with. He's getting things done. It's not just
LEMON: Is that done? Or is that just executive orders to do it?
BAUER: Well, he's done executive orders to do them. And he's going to come back, again, and try to protect this country. I can't believe people want to rally against trying to make sure we overly vet countries where we've had problems with. To me, it's idiotic. But he's going to come back at it with a well-drawn executive order that's going to pass the muster and he's going to get accomplish yet another executive order that makes people safe. And so he's delivering all campaign promises.
LEMON: But, Andre, listen, that's all well and good. And I -- listen, I'll give you your say, but he hasn't delivered on anything. It's been -- and I'm just being honest here.
DENNARD: Hold on --
LEMON: He has signed -- hold on, hold on. Let me get my thought out, Paris. All right? I'm going to go to you.
He hasn't delivered on anything. He hasn't signed any legislation. And that's what people want him to do, even his supporters. I can sit here in the newscast all evening and start the newscast and say, tonight, I'm going to do this; I'm going to say this.
Unless I deliver it in the newscast, it's just talk. It's just me at the beginning of this saying here's what I'm going to do. So I think that's what people want.
So my question to you, Paris is, should he be rallying with the members of Congress? He's got a Republican Congress. He's got a Republican Senate. Should he be rallying with them to actually get something done instead of rallying the troops that don't really need rallying at this point because he already has them?
DENNARD: Well, I think, what we have to remember is that the president is not the one who -- he is not the legislative body. So in terms of what he can do from the executive branch, he is doing it.
And Andre just listed out several of those positive things which a lot of people support. And as it relates to executive orders and presidential memorandum, which past administrations have done. But if the legislative branch would also do what they are supposed to do and pass legislation, he will find it.
LEMON: They said they are confused, Paris. They don't know. They don't really know what he wants and what he stands for because they are confuse about it.
DENNARD: And he has done so.
Well, but there's a separation of power. They don't have to take their cues from the president on whether or not what they need to do. They are going to act. And when they do, then he signs the bills that they send over to him. And that's why at the end of the month, towards March, he's going to put out his first presidential budget and that's going to go to the Congress. He's going to speak to the Congress on the 28th of February. And so he's doing the things that he can do in his role as president and from the executive branch.
LEMON: You realize that President Obama and President Clinton and Bush alike, they had like 25 legislative successes under their belts by this point.
DENNARD: And they also had a cabinet.
LEMON: Well, whose fault is that? When you look at the past week --
DENNARD: The Senate Democrats, who continue to --
LEMON: The Senate Democrats, they're the minority.
CARDONA: Oh, come on Paris.
DENNARD: Senate Democrats are playing political football.
CARDONA: If you would actually -- if you would actually put up nominees that reflects the country, that actually have the expertise to run the departments that they are nominated to run, if you actually have nominees who turn in their paperwork in time, then maybe President Trump would have a cabinet. You know what --
LEMON: You guys, on the other side of the break. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Back now with Maria Cardona, Karine Jean-Pierre, Paris Dennard and Andre Bauer.
Here is what the White House chief-of-staff Reince Priebus says about the president's first month in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: These meetings, these days, these bills signing, these executive orders, they don't happen by accident. They happened because a lot of people are working very hard. But when you have to spend half your day putting out phony stories, obviously becomes a distraction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Karine, what's your response?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, the president started this -- his presidency the same way that he's been doing it for the 18 months of the campaign, which is dividing the country.
He took an oath on January 20th to bring everyone together, to be a president for everyone. He has yet to unify the country. We have not seen that yet. And all he's been able to give us is complete chaos and to steal what Maria Cardona said is a dumpster fire from his cabinet secretaries to now NSA adviser dropping out. And just going now, going to do a campaign -- campaigning when he hasn't really governed yet. And just think about it, the first 100 days of President Obama's administration, he had a trillion dollar stimulus plan already put forward.
LEMON: And incentive bill, considering that the economy was -- speaking of a dumpster fire, our economy was in a dumpster fire.
I've got it, just for the sake of time, because we have a short time here. I want to ask you, so listen, Andre, so Reince Priebus keeps saying these phony stories, right? Fake news. And they never give an example of exactly what a phony story is. What are the phony? What's phony? What's fake? What stories are fake and phony?
BAUER: Well, it doesn't matter what the story -- or what he does, it's always negative.
LEMON: No, but I mean, I'm asking what story specifically is phony? What's fake?
BAUER: Well, that's he and Putin have a lovefest, for example. You keep pounding that they have a bromance and that's not true.
LEMON: He compliments Putin at every turn.
JEAN-PIERRE: They knew.
CARDONA: Yes, he does. He bear hugs Putin all the time.
LEMON: OK, go on. Give me the next. What's the next?
BAUER: Sounds like yesterday, where is the accolades for what Netanyahu --
LEMON: No, no, no. Where is the next phony story?
BAUER: Well, I gave --
LEMON: Priebus is saying all these phony story. I'm trying to figure out and if they can give me an example of a phony story or a couple when he says all these, I'd --
BAUER: Well, I don't want to speak for Reince Priebus. I don't know what stories he's talking about. But, again --
LEMON: But he's speaking to people like you, who were Trump supporters and they believe that these stories are phony. So what stories are phony? Can anybody give -- Paris, do you have a phony, some phony stories. He said all these, all of these, which means a collective, so give me some phony stories?
DENNARD: Sure. Well, the story that Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus do not get along. That's a false story.
LEMON: How do you know that?
DENNARD: How do I know what?
BAUER: The infighting.
LEMON: How do you know that? There's infighting in every White House, in every single White House. And so --
BAUER: Well, they say there's not.
DENNARD: And they say that they get along.
LEMON: OK. of course they're going to say they get along.
DENNARD: So there it is. That's just -- that's your proof right there. White House says one thing and you automatically --
LEMON: The White House is not saying that. The White House representatives are saying that.
DENNARD: I'm sorry. Reince Priebus, Reince Priebus, the chief of staff says --
LEMON: That's not true. Go on. Give me another one.
DENNARD: No, let's just stay right there. Reince Priebus, the chief- of-staff says there's no truth to the fact that he does not get along with Steve Bannon.
LEMON: Of course, he's going to say that. Of course, he's going to say that.
DENNARD: And then what do you say? You say it's not true.
LEMON: The Obama White House, the Bush White House, the Reagan White House would say that everything is running smoothly. Every single White House has contention.
There is -- I work on -- here, we have issues with people here. Nothing is perfect. No one gets along all the time. To say that everything -- everybody gets along would be a complete and total lie. It doesn't happen at any company and you know it doesn't happen at the White House so just stop it.
CARDONA: Yes, yes.
LEMON: Next story. Give me the next story.
DENNARD: You just proved -- you just proved --
LEMON: Hold on, I want another phony story. I want another phony story. You give me another phony story.
DENNARD: Don, I'm not going to sit here --
LEMON: No, no, he said phony stories. All of these phony stories.
DENNARD: First of all, why don't -- ask Reince Priebus to come on the show. Ask Reince Priebus to come on the show. I just gave you one example and you proved to the American people exactly what they see from the media. That's what you just did.
LEMON: All of these phony stories. Give me another one. Give me another one.
OK, let me give you that one. You're right about that one. Give me another.
LEMON: OK, because you can't answer.
CARDONA: Don --
LEMON: Hold on, everyone. Hold on, Paris. I'm saying you're right, you're right. That one may not be accurate. I'm just saying it for your edification. Now give me another one.
DENNARD: That's not for my edification, it's for the American people who see what you continue to do, Don.
LEMON: No, and it's not what I continue to do. I'm just trying to get the truth out.
DENNARD: If you want it, you want to ask Reince Priebus, the chief- of-staff. If you want to ask him what he means by that. I gave you one example. I didn't go on the media to say that. I gave you one example.
LEMON: You should probably call Reince Priebus yourself or speak to him off the record and see what happens. OK?
DENNARD: If I want to do that --
LEMON: A lot of people are saying one thing in public, they are saying a different thing behind the scenes.
CARDONA: They call phony stories stories that they don't like. Stories that paint Donald Trump like this, you know, person in the White House who is completely incapable of governing, who's completely unfit, who's walking around the White House...
LEMON: We've got to go.
CARDONA: ...in a robe --
LEMON: I've got to go. We don't know that either. (CROSSTALK)
We don't know that either.
CARDONA: The phony stories come from them.
LEMON: We don't know that either. We'll be right back.