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President Trump Holds a Rally in Florida to Address His Supporters; Jane Roe Who Lent Her Pseudonym to the Roe v. Wade Case Has Died At Age 69. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 18, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:02] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOSTOOM: And from the very beginning, the president made it oh-so-clear why he was there.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm here because I want to be among my friends and among the people.

I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news.


BROWN: All right. Let's bring in my panel. Joining me now, Stephen Collinson, "CNN Politics" senior reporter; Julian Zelizer, historian and Professor at Princeton University; Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist; and Wajahat Ali, a "New York Times" contributor. Thank you to the four of you for coming on, sticking around to be on the show here.

Stephen, first to you, Trump's first month has been perceived as chaotic. Did tonight help?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, "CNN POLITICS" SENIOR REPORTER: I think it probably helped a little bit in changing the subject. That's what that rally was about. That's what the freewheeling press conference the other day was about as well. Donald Trump trying to get the story away from all these stories that he's mentioned himself in his press conference of the White House in chaos and in disarray, and so try and move it on a little.

I think if you think about it, taking care of his supporters is going to be a very important requirement of the White House and this presidency. Donald Trump won the presidency with a fairly narrow base. He didn't really broaden his support through the election campaign, as many of us thought he would have to to win the presidency. So, he can't afford any erosion whatsoever from his base support, and that will be something that's very important going forward.

So, the question then becomes, so can you build a successful presidency on that kind of fairly narrow channeling to your supporters. You need to build support around legislation. We saw him do a little bit of that, calling on Democrats to join him in an infrastructure package. But I think the jury is still out on whether he can sustain his political momentum for four years, just appealing to the people that sent him to the White House.

BROWN: Right. Because past presidents, when they've done these kind of rallies early on, it's to achieve a specific objective. Like, for President Obama, it was a stimulus package.

I want to ask you, Alice, back in November, Trump tweeted this. He said, "Looking at Air Force One @ MIA, why is he campaigning instead of creating jobs and fixing Obamacare? Get back to work for the American people."

All right, Alice. Mr. Trump has been in office for less than a month. Should he be creating jobs and coming up with a healthcare replacement instead of going to this campaign rally and then promising what he's going to do?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's Saturday night at 8 o'clock. I don't know what people expect him to be doing in terms of creating jobs, to be slaving away over legislation in Washington tonight.

Look, he has set plans into motion to create jobs. He has taken action to do all the campaign promises that he promised to do, which includes securing the border, repealing and replacing Obama, creating an environment and a tax plan and reforming the tax code to allow businesses to create jobs.

In Florida, I worked for Gov. Rick Scott. Jobs, jobs, jobs. It's critical in that state. And he talked about that quite a bit this evening on how his tax package will be able to help do just that.

So, I think what we're going to see is, as he has said, we'll see more details of the repeal and replace of Obamacare in the next few weeks. He also did well this evening to roll the ball down the field with regard to the travel ban. We expect to see another executive order possibly introduced next week. So, I think that's good.

But as he said to reporters prior to the event tonight, in his view, life is a campaign and making America great is a campaign; and in order to be successful on these agenda items that he has, he needs to get out there to the people, he needs to bypass the media, he needs to get an unfiltered message to the people in order for these to be accomplished. And that's exactly what he did.

So, in terms of his goal and his mission, it was to bypass the media, speak directly to the people and get that message out there and to certainly thank them for their support, which is exactly what he was able to accomplish.

BROWN: And, in fact, he had one of them come up on stage. Gene Huber, who we spoke to on the show after he went up to the podium and said a few words. So, he couldn't have been more enthusiastic about President Trump. He said he had supported him for two years.

Wajahat, on that note, you have people like him and others who were at that rally today, so excited for President Trump who say, 'Look, he's doing exactly what we put him in office to do.' He met with CEOs of major companies, he signed the executive order for the border wall, he made these promises of bringing backs jobs and strengthening our borders. Isn't that what the voters want, Wajahat?

WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No. There's a lot of hot air and talking points that appeal to his base and his base unfortunately is small. It's not the majority. And as we know, President Trump has the lowest favorability rating of any incoming president in modern history.

[20:05:03] And I want to remind him, you have won the presidency. Stop campaigning, stop doing alternative facts about the size of your crowds, the size of your electoral votes, the size of your hands, all small, get on with it, be presidential.

But there are only two reasons why he did this rally today and the conference from two days ago. Number one, because his White House is in a dysfunctional disarray. There are massive leaks all the time from Republicans within the White House. People have no idea what's happening. You can see that Sean Spicer says something, Mike Pence says something, Kellyanne Conway says something, Donald Trump says something.

Number two, we have to keep our eye on the ball. Russia, finally, we found out that Michael Flynn lied about his conversation to the Russian ambassador. Donald Trump knew about it. He kept quiet. Mike Pence was allowed to lie. For a month, he kept quiet even though the DOJ said he is compromised. Michael Flynn could be blackmailed. The only time Donald Trump said something, which forced the resignation of Michael Flynn, was after the enemy, the press, "Washington Post," mentioned it this week.

And then, right after that, huge news, our intelligence agencies finally confirm that people close to Trump have been talking to Russian intelligence before the election. That is huge. We also saw a dossier by MI6 agent Christopher Steele, very respected. A lot of allegations, Pam.

But slowly, but surely, one or two of those allegations, as more investigations are happening, are turning out to be true. So, he's deflecting from the dysfunction. He's deflecting from the fact that the Muslim ban failed, the raid in Yemen failed, the wall is not going to be built because Mexico said we're not going to pay for it, he's making enemies out of allies like Australia -- of all people -- and the fact he does not have a national security advisor right now a month in because Michael Flynn, who lied about talking to Russia, was forced to resign. Russia is the big picture here and he's trying to deflect from them.

BROWN: And just to be clear, you said, Mike Pence was allowed to lie. It is true that Michael Flynn -- he lied, but he -- because what he was told by Michael Flynn that he didn't talk about sanctions. And then it was after he went on the morning shows that the White House was alerted by DOJ about the sanctions discussion.

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I want to go to you, Julian, Trump defended his attacks against the press by saying other presidents did it as well. Let's take a listen.


TRUMP: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents fought with the media and called them out oftentimes on their lies.


BROWN: On their lies. So, here's the quote from Thomas Jefferson. It says, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

This is a founding father who, of course, as we know, supported the First Amendment, freedom of the press. Julian, what is your reaction to that?

ZELIZER: Thomas Jefferson believed deeply in the importance of the free press, the press, to the survival of this republic. He was frustrated as the press became more partisan, but he believed in the media as an institution.

And I think the comparison with President Trump is different. What many people feel they are watching is a president who is just questioning the legitimacy of the entire media, not simply as being too partisan, he's arguing they are just putting out fake news.

And this is a different kind of attack than we saw with previous presidents. And it's not clear to many people how much he even values the press as an institution, even though, ironically, he has used that as the centerpiece of his campaign and, right now, of this presidency, as we just saw.

BROWN: Alice, go ahead.

STEWART: I just want to weight in. I think -- critically, I think the point -- the quote you just pulled from Thomas Jefferson, it is important. And it's important to keep in mind, the reason the media is referred to as the fourth estate oftentimes is because it is important to have them to keep a check and balance and be a guide to keeping feet to the fire of those in government. They are an important part of our free democracy without a doubt.

Donald Trump feels as though they report information inaccurately and he repeatedly reminds the American people to make sure and hold them accountable. That is what he feels strongly.

I want to remind everyone, back when President Obama was president, Anita Dunn, who I think the world of and have a lot of respect for, she also would point out that Fox News -- she referred to them as opinion journalists posed as news. So, the idea that we have administrations or presidents who don't see the news as credible is not anything new.

Clearly, Donald Trump uses this as a way to connect with his people and drive a wedge between oftentimes the critical stories that are written about him and what is actually true. And I think that is something that he has done throughout the campaign, throughout the general election and the primary and it's not going to change. I think people just need to get used to that.

And what we're seeing with him having these rallies, it's a way to connect directly to the people unfiltered. That's why we see his constant tweets. That's his way of getting directly to the people and bypassing the media. That is clearly something that is the way he feels and is absolutely not going to change.

ALI: But, respectfully, we should not get used to lies. We should not get used to lies.

BROWN: Hold on. He has every right, Alice, to say what he wants to say about the media. But to compare it to what past administrations has said is just simply -- it's a false equivalence because now he's saying the entire media, as a whole, is the enemy of the American people.

And it's not only that, it's also the checks and balances of the judiciary with his travel ban. I mean, he directly went after judges who didn't uphold his travel ban.

Do you think this is bigger than just he doesn't like the headlines, Alice? Do you think this is -- he doesn't want to be checked and balanced? It's something that he didn't have to really deal with as a businessman and now he's in the White House. Do you think it more has to do with him feeling threatened as some have argued?

STEWART: First, let me point out that I don't agree with his comments about fake news. I don't agree that journalists report all things inaccurately. I do think facts are important. I think it's important when a factually inaccurate statement is made that it be corrected from whether it be the president or with members of the news media. I think making sure accurate information out there is critical no matter who it comes from.

But, sure, Donald Trump, whenever someone pushes him, he pushes back. That's always what he's done. He did throughout the campaign and he will continue to do it. That's part of his nature and that's not going to change. And he's doing to the media now what he did with every candidate that nipped on his heals throughout the campaign. That's just his nature and that's part of who he is.

BROWN: All right. Stephen Collinson, Julian Zelizer, Alice Stewart and Wajahat Ali, thank you very much for that very important discussion that we just had.

And stick around, we have more to discuss coming up on this Saturday. Protests over the president's immigration raids and his border wall. Our exclusive new details about what the wall could look like.


TRUMP: Do not worry. We are going to build the wall, OK? Don't worry. Don't even think about it.



[20:15:39] BROWN: Vice President Mike Pence is making his first trip abroad this weekend since taking office. Pence is in Munich, Germany attending the Annual Global Security Summit there. The vice president told NATO alliance members that despite comments made by President Trump during the campaign, the US commitment to the European partnership is strong.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance. The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance.


BROWN: Matthew Chance is our senior international correspondent in Moscow. And, Matthew, those comments from Vice President Pence did not sit very well with the Russian foreign minister, not surprisingly, especially when Pence promised that the US under President Trump will quote "hold Russia accountable, while searching for common ground."

How is the stage set for relations between Moscow and Washington when it comes to the issue of NATO?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the Russians are getting a lot of mixed messages on NATO, on other issues as well, like Ukraine and Crimea as well as on Syria.

Remember that Donald Trump was the person that called NATO obsolete. That was music to the ears of many people in the Kremlin because that's what they've been saying for some time. He also has spoken about how he would look at recognizing Crimea as being a legitimate part of Russia. Of course, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

And so, the expectation, when he became president here in Russia, was the situation, the relationship between the two countries was going to get much better, that there were going to be lots of kind of pro- Russian changes in American policy.

But, you know, that started to -- that's become clear that that's not necessarily going to happen. We heard those remarks there from the vice president. James Mattis, the Defense Secretary, has spoken about how the United States and Russia are not going to cooperate at the moment militarily. There's been criticism from the UN ambassador who was appointed by Trump, Nikki Haley, about sanctions being in place until Russia hands back Crimea to Ukraine.

And so, this is not the kind of rhetoric that the Kremlin was expecting in the first month of the Trump presidency. They were expecting something much more advantageous to them. And so, it's led to a certain amount of disillusion, Pamela.

BROWN: So, there is also some concern in Europe, Matthew, that the Trump administration's security apparatus is not completely assembled and up to speed. Of course, we know that Michael Flynn resigned after the president had asked him to earlier this week, and so there's still that position open. Do the Russians share that concern?

CHANCE: I think they do. I think they look at what's going on in the United States and they look at the turmoil that the Trump administration is currently in. And I think they're worried about that. I mean, they have a very structured administration themselves. They're very big on protocol. They like to know who they're dealing with.

And, of course, at the moment, because of these mixed messages, because of the turmoil in the Trump administration, they don't know what kind of policy they're going to have to deal with from their biggest rival, the United States.

As I say, they thought this was going to be a pretty benign administration when it comes to Russia, but it could -- it's so unpredictable that it could very easily go the other way. And so, I think there's deep concern in the Kremlin and in Russian officials' circles in general about what kind of attitude the Trump administration is eventually going to have when it crystallizes its policy towards Russia.

BROWN: All right. Matthew Chance, live for us in Moscow. Thank you, Matthew.

And still to come on this Saturday evening, an usual moment at Trump's rally tonight when the president brings a supporter on stage. I talked to him moments after. Our conversation up next. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:23:22] BROWN: A star is born. That's how President Trump described a very enthusiastic supporter you see right here who attended his rally earlier this evening in Melbourne, Florida. And in an apparently spontaneous moment, the president picked the man from the crowd and turned over the microphone.


TRUMP: This guy, so he's been all over television saying the best things and I see him standing -- I think you got here, like, at 4 in the morning.


TRUMP: Say a couple of words to this crowd.

HUBER: Mr. President, thank you, sir. We the people, our movement is the reason why our president of the United States is standing here in front of us today. When President Trump, during the election, promised all these things that he was going to do for us, I knew he was going to do this for us.

Mr. President, thank you so much, sir.

TRUMP: A star is born. A star is born.


BROWN: So, after the president left the stage, I got a chance to talk to that man, Gene Huber. And he says he won't forget that experience for quite some time.


BROWN: Gene, you got up there, you shook the president's hand and you said some words. What was that moment like for you?

[20:25:02] HUBER: I want to tell you something. It was the moment of my life. I will never, ever forget what just happened to me. I've been with Mr. President Trump for over two years, fighting battles, in and out, in and out of lies and terrible things always said about him. But we stuck together and it's just an amazing feeling where I'm at right now. That just is unbelievable.

BROWN: So, I have to ask you, there was a moment there where he sort of whispered something into your ear. What did he say?

HUBER: Oh, he said -- he goes, you're great is what he told me. If I'm not mistaken, he said you are great because he saw me -- because I was the first one on line. I got here at 4 in the morning. So, I got a lot of interviews from news people.

So, President Trump must have seen me on TV. So -- and I told the reporter that I loved President Trump. And President Trump heard me say that and he told me that on stage. He goes -- you know, he said that he loves me. And I do with all my heart because he fights for us each and every second.

He didn't have to do this for us, you know. He's 70 years old, a billionaire. A beautiful family. And this man comes out and works harder than anyone I've ever seen in my life. And that's why he's a winner.

BROWN: So, it's clear he saw you on television giving interviews. If he's watching right now, which he very well may, what would you want to say to him?

HUBER: What was that now? I did not hear that. I'm sorry.

BROWN: What would you want to say to him if he's watching right now. Clearly, he saw you earlier when you were giving interviews. What would you want to say to him now?

HUBER: To President Trump? I would just say, President Trump, I want to thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to come on stage like that. Mr. President, I've been with you for two years. You've probably heard this. Every single second, every day, I'm with you. I've got a six-foot cardboard box of President Trump in my house. And I salute that every single day. And I pray and tell him, Mr. President, I pray for your safety today and I'm not lying. I do that every single day to the president, but it's cardboard.

BROWN: Let me ask you. You said you've been with him from the very beginning. What is it about his message that has resonated with you, Gene?

HUBER: You know, it's just the way he speaks the truth. You know, it comes from the heart. That's the most important thing. It comes from his heart and he speaks the truth. That's what we believe and us -- our movement believes.

I mean, just look how -- look at what he's started. Look at it. Look at what President Trump says. There's never been a movement like this ever, ever. I've never been into politics in my life up until President Trump came down the elevator. And he taught me everything. He taught me everything.

BROWN: So, he's been in office, he's been president for nearly a month. What's your take so far on how he's done?

HUBER: He is doing fantastic. There's no words to describe what this man is doing. He promised to do this. He promised to do that. You have a lot of those supporters out there. I have family members that say to me they voted for President Trump, I hope he does this, I hope he can do this. You know what I say? He will do this. That's why I love this man because he's smart, he gets it, and he's going to change the world. He's going to change the world, folks.

BROWN: Gene Huber, clearly, you are a big supporter of President Trump. And like you said, this is a moment today that you will never forget, being invited on stage by the president to say a few words. Thank you so much, Gene, for coming on talking to us. We do appreciate it.

HUBER: Can I just say one quick thing?

BROWN: Quickly.

HUBER: Ma'am? Yes, very quick. Appreciate the interview. Let's just be a little, little nicer to our president. Thank you so much.

BROWN: I was waiting for a comment like that from a Trump supporter considering he calls us fake news. Thank you so much, Gene Huber.


BROWN: Well, the woman whose pseudonym is forever linked to the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling has died. Her real name was Norma McCorvey and she assumed the name Jane Roe to protect her privacy when she sued a Texas County where abortion was illegal. That was in 1970. And then the case went all the way to the Supreme Court and the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.

But she switched sides in 1995. She converted to Christianity, joined anti-abortion activists and started an outreach group called Roe No More. According to a statement by a family friend, Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe, died this morning in Texas. She was 69 years old.

We'll be right back.


PAMELA BROWN, HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: Welcome back. President Trump barely one month in office heads out on the campaign trail today. He just wrapped up a rally in Melbourne, Florida where he railed against what he calls the enemy of the American people. That would be the dishonest "fake news media."

It's a lot of attack, Sen. John McCain warned against on the Meet the Press appearance today.


CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": You believe the press is the enemy? You believe any group of Americans are the enemy of another group of Americans?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I was talking about the period, as you know, of a new world order. A fundamental part of that new world order was a free press. I hate the press. I hate you, especially. But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve - I'm very serious now - if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and, many times, adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.

TODD: That's how dictators get started, with tweets like that?

MCCAIN: No. They get started by suppressing a free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.


BROWN: Let's bring in my panel now. "New York Times" contributor, Wajahat Ali; historian, professor and author, Julian Zelizer; and CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart.

I want to begin with you, Julian. Is John McCain right? The first thing a dictator does is shut down the media?

[20:35:00] JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Yes. The media is always a threat to people who have power. And throughout American history, we've depended on the media, both to tell us what's going on in politics, to give us the best analysis that we can get, but also to hold people in power accountable.

So, a dictator doesn't like a free media because the free media is a threat. President Trump has not shut down the media yet. That's not where this has gone, but he has declared war on the media. He's called the media the enemy. And in an odd way, he's made the media the centerpiece of much of his political rhetoric and focus for the last few weeks as opposed to public policy.

BROWN: So, Alice, what do you make of the fact that he continually attacks the media, calling the media fake news, but at the same time he's a huge consumer of the media. I mean, he always is talking about the media.

Just today, he saw a supporter that he brought up on stage on television. He talks about CNN all the time and what is said on panels on a show like this. So, what do you make of that, that he goes after the media, but at the same time he's always sort of consuming the media?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, let me just say, I agree with Sen. McCain and that the media is critical. The fourth estate is vital to keeping a check and balance on our government and it is vital to a free democracy to have the check and balance of the media and it's important.

However, Donald Trump views it as something that takes a message he wants to convey and the media gets in the way of that. That's why he bypasses the media on a regular basis and goes directly to Twitter. That's why we're probably going to see more and more of these campaign events where he can take his message directly to the people and that's how he feels.

He's been this way throughout the campaign. He doesn't like the way his message is being conveyed through the media. He attacks the media. That is simply the way that he operates. I think it's important for the media to hold his feet to the fire, if factually inaccurate information is presented. It's important for it to be corrected.

At the same time, if a news story is reported inaccurately, it's important for him to call them out on it. So, I think it's important to have a back and forth on this important topic on both sides. And I think it's important.

The one thing I think people need to keep in mind by having this conversation, it's not going to change. He clearly believes, as well as Steve Bannon believes, that the media is the opposition party. He feels they've been out to get him from the very beginning and that's simply what he believes and that's the way he will continue to operate because not only is it something that he feels, but it also energizes his base. And you saw that out there - I've been at many of his events and his people feel as though the media is the opposition party and they present fake news and that's something that will continue to be a part of what he says and how he operates moving forward.

BROWN: So, Wajahat, I'm curious to get your perspective because you're a member of the media. I'm a member of the media. And I sometimes wonder if we focus so much on this because we're in that world, then how the average person, the average American, what they think? Do they care about this? What's your view?

WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I would hope that they would care. But, right now, to be honest, the Gallup said in September that it's the lowest trust and favorability of the media in their reporting in the past 50 years.

So, even if we say the truth, and not alternative facts which is the bread and butter of Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway, 32 percent of Americans believe us. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our job as the media, right? Our job is to speak truth to power. Our job is to be adversarial. Our job is to report facts.

And the Russia story is not fake news. It's a fact. And the fact that Donald Trump is so offended by "fake news," what he calls the opposition - that's what Steve Bannon says - and the fact that he calls us the enemy - and this is a very sobering point, and I'm glad John McCain said this. I have many friends who grew up in Middle Eastern dictatorships and you should listen to people who grew up in Russia right now on social media.

What they're saying is the way Donald Trump is speaking about the media, calling us the enemy of the American people, the fact that he's shooting down all descent, the fact that any critical story all of a sudden is fake even though the leaks he said were true about what's happening with Michael Flynn and the fact that he lied to the country about his conversations with Russia and the fact that our own intelligence this week said that Russian intelligence has been in contact with Donald Trump's transition team.

BROWN: That's according to - the Russian intelligence part is according to "The New York Times." CNN has similar reporting, but we did not confirm the Russian intelligence part. Go ahead.

ALI: But the fact that - this is news. And the reason why he did this conference today, and two days ago, and you'll notice he keeps doing this anytime there's any news that we report, just report, just facts, such as, 'hey, 3 million illegals did not vote illegally for Hillary Clinton, you lost the popular vote,' he keeps lying about that. The size of his inauguration crowd, he lies about that right.

[20:40:00] So, us simply doing our job right now is our ability as the press, in my opinion, to regain some swagger and regain some equity and credit with the American people and there's enough people out there who are watching Donald Trump flailing desperately in like a massive insecurity to prove to himself that somehow everyone loves him, the fact that he has huge crowds when he doesn't where there's a dysfunctional government right now, where you don't have a national security advisor, our job is to connect the dots, ask the hard questions, hold the feet to the fire - I agree with Alice - and make sure that we push back each time he says the fourth estate is the enemy of the people just by doing our job. And we have to keep pushing back and speaking truth to power.

BROWN: Just as we wrap up, Julian, just for context and perspective, Donald Trump said today, 'look, I'm not the only president that's had this adversarial relationship with the press; look at past presidents, look at Abraham Lincoln, look at Thomas Jefferson.' Give us context. Is it the same?

ZELIZER: One president who had a very adversarial relationship with the press was Richard Nixon. This was the theme of much of his campaign as Vice President Spiro Agnew talked about the kinds of spurious arguments they thought that the press made. And, ultimately, the press became a big part of uncovering the Watergate story.

Many presidents have had fights with the press. They've had adversarial relations, but now we're watching a president who is setting up much of his first month in office creating a villain out of the entire media institution. This is his new campaign opponent.

Hillary Clinton is no longer in the picture. So, he's now made it the media. And it will depend how far it goes and depend how far the press goes in its response. But there are dangers that we should take seriously.

BROWN: All right. Julian, Alice, Wajahat, thank you to the three of you for spending part of your Saturday evening with us and sharing your perspective.

And coming up right here in the NEWSROOM, Trump's great wall, is it actually more of a fence though? Exclusive new details on what it really could look like.


[20:45:47] BROWN: Well, to California, where the northern part of the state is bracing for an onslaught of rain tonight, while Southern California assesses the damage from a storm that knocked out power, downed trees, and left at least three people dead.

In Studio City, there was so much rain a giant sinkhole opened overnight and started swallowing vehicles.


BROWN: From inside that sinkhole, a woman trapped inside her car crying for help. Luckily, firefighters were able to pull her out as rising waters filled her vehicle.


STEPHANIE SCOTT, RESCUED WOMAN: My car kept turning and turning upside down, and I was just like, 'I got to stay calm.' I felt the water coming up. And I reached for the door and I opened the door and I climbed out. It's totally a miracle. Thank you, God.


BROWN: And look at this. So much rain falling from the top floor of a parking garage in Los Angeles, it turns into a virtual waterfall. We were getting so many pictures like this from Southern California, roads turning into rivers, Interstate 5 is under a foot of water near Maxwell, rivers of mud are bearing vehicles and closing roads. Several RV parks have had to be evacuated along the Sacramento River.

And so far, the Oroville Dam is holding and officials are optimistic it can handle the incoming rain.

But in the face of so much disruption, this man, well, he found the silver lining. Who needs the ocean when there's so much water you can just surf the streets of LA? That's one way to handle it.

A major battle may be brewing between President Trump and the people actually responsible for planning and building the wall he wants on the border with Mexico. If those officials have it their way, the wall wouldn't be a wall at all, but a fence. CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It is 18 feet tall, made of steel with a cement base. Call it what you want, but the government planners, security experts and homeland security officials who will be in charge of building it call this a fence.

This is the most recently built barrier between the United States and Mexico near Brownsville, Texas. And CNN has been told by multiple sources within the agencies involved in building, paying for and enforcing this barrier, that this is what President Trump's wall may look like.

US Customs and Border Patrol is planning to present the plan for border security to its bosses possibly this week and CNN has learned new details. First, they say, the wall should not be a wall, it should be a fence, and that could become a sticky situation for a president who insists otherwise.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a fence. It's a wall. You just misreported it. We're going to build a wall.

Griffin: Sources tell CNN the biggest job in moving forward is convincing the president that the fence is more secure. And it will be up to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, sources say, who must find a way to allow the White House to spin the promise of a wall into a fence.

Secretary Kelly seems to have already begun. In testimony to Congress, repeatedly referring to the border fortification as a barrier. JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Yes, there are many, many places that we need some type of physical barrier right now backed up by men and women of border protection.

GRIFFIN: Why would President Trump agree to a fence instead of a beautiful wall, as he says? Security and common sense.

US customs and border patrol officials on the ground and in charge of actually securing the border tell CNN a fence actually offers more security than a solid wall. One source telling CNN: 'You never want to have a barrier in place that will obstruct your vision. That prevents you from seeing the other side of the border.'

Another saying: I'm not calling it a wall because we are talking about a fence that we can look through. That's what we need.

It's more secure for border agents. It eliminates many environmental factors like drainage and its cost will be significantly lower. If the current plan is approved, it will look like this bollard style fencing. The steel slats secured six feet below ground and standing 18 feet above. The slats reinforced with rebar and cement.

[20:50:02] Another part of the proposal, according to sources, it will not go coast to coast. This is the current fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico with large gaps in between for a total of 654 miles.

The latest plans involve adding 177 new miles of fencing and replacing 272 miles of already built fence, according to one high level source with knowledge of the project. That means the total barrier between the United States and Mexico would cover 831 total miles of a nearly 2,000-mile border. Still not even half, according to these sources.



BROWN: The iconic Make America Great Again baseball cap is a symbol of Donald Trump's rise to political power. The slogan has been used before, but President Trump made it uniquely his own. And here's just a portion of a story my colleagues at "CNN Politics" posted online about the history of that hat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got you Trump hats, Trump hats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I trust that he's going to make America great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What better way to support him than buy a hat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that they brought some divisiveness. But I think they made people pay attention, made people wake up.

TRUMP: This is the hottest thing out there, this hat. You can't get them. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We were waiting inside the terminal. It was a crush of reporters, a crush of cameras, he came around the corner and we all went uh because we've never seen him in a baseball hat before and certainly never seen him in a hat that says Make America Great Again.

[20:55:13] It was the first time we had seen the brand emblazoned on his head. I really remember it vividly because it was like, 'oh, of course, he's the master marketer, why wouldn't he put it on a hat?'

TRUMP: I'm the one that brought up the problem of illegal immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was talking about border security. He has already lost Apprentice. He's lost other deals, millions and millions of dollars. And he's just going out there, one, he's having fun; two, he's standing up for what he believes in; and three, he looks (INAUDIBLE) cool.

TRUMP: We have to have legal immigration.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: And he started saying, send me the red hats, send me the white hats. I want to see on a daily, weekly, monthly basis what we're doing.

We started to look at these numbers and we say, is this right? It's like the campaign, right? Just grown so quickly. It's just a disruptive technology. The hat was so disruptive that people who weren't involved in politics, that didn't have a political background wanted to show their support for something different. And their way to do that was to buy hats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the best (EXPLETIVE) country on Earth and these hats represent that.


BROWN: All right. Coming up tomorrow morning on CNN's State of the Union, our Jim Sciutto talks to Gov. John Kasich. That's at 9 AM Eastern and Pacific. And tonight, get your Anthony Bourdain fix with the Parts Unknown marathon. But coming up right now, back to back episodes of the history of comedy.

I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. I'll be back tomorrow at 5 Eastern. Thank you for spending a part of your evening with us. Good night.