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Trump Taps Lt. Gen. McMaster for National Security Adviser; Former Deputy National Security Adviser Weighs in on Trump's NSA Pick; Assessing Pres. Trump's National Security Pick; Grading Pres. Trump's First Month; Trump Blasts "Fake Media" Again; Unprecedented Attacks on the Media?; Pres. Trump Vs. The Press. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 20, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: -- praise from Democrats as well as Republicans. We have details now from our Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Just before leaving Florida, President Trump unveiling a new national security adviser today after a weekend of deliberations at Mar-a-Lago.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General H.R. McMaster will become the national security adviser. He's a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, ARMY: I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation.

MURRAY: Trump's pick, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster is a decorated soldier and military strategist. Trump delivered the news as he sat wedge between McMaster and Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg in a living room at his Florida club. Kellogg will stay on as chief of staff at the National Security Council.

TRUMP: This is a great team. We're very, very honored.

MURRAY: Trump's pick coming as Vice President Mike Pence is publicly admitting, for the first time, that Michael Flynn's behavior was a let down to the administration.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was disappointed to learn that this -- the facts that have been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor General Flynn's long service to the United States of America and I fully support the President's decision to ask for his resignation.

MURRAY: Flynn was dismissed after misleading Pence about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador, leaving the President scrambling to fill the slot. Trump, frustrated by tales of turmoil in the White House took to the campaign trail this weekend after just a month in office to defend his new administration.

TRUMP: You've seen what we've accomplished in a very short period of time. The White House is running so smoothly. So smoothly.

MURRAY: He also served up more criticism of the media.

TRUMP: We are not going to let the fake news tell us what to do, how to live or what to believe. We --

MURRAY: And invoked a puzzling security concern.

TRUMP: You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible.

MURRAY: While Trump was appearing to reference an incident of terrorism, nothing particularly noteworthy happened in Sweden over the weekend. Trump later said via Twitter his comment came after watching a Fox News segment related to Sweden's immigration policies. The Swedish embassy offered their own response, tweeting, "We look forward to informing the U.S. administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies."


COOPER: And Sara Murray joins us now from the White House. John McCain has been critical of some of President Trump's actions and statements in the last month, what did he have to say about General McMaster?

MURRAY: You're right. He has sort of been a thorn in President Trump's side, and he seems to have relished that at points, but he was one of many that we saw heaping praise on this national security pick today. This is just part of a statement Senator McCain put out, saying, "Lt. General H.R. McMaster is an outstanding choice for national security advisor. I have had the honor of knowing him for many years, and he is a man of genuine intellect, character, and ability. He knows how to succeed." Anderson?

COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks very much.

Reaction now from CNN global affairs analyst, Tony Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser, and later, as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Tony, General McMaster's gotten lot of praise from a lot of different quarters today, what do you make of the choice?

TONY BLINKEN, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: You know, Anderson, credit where credit is due. It's a terrific choice. He is one of the leading generals of his generation, both in the field, in the classroom he's really a leading intellectual, a thought leader when it comes to military and strategic matters. He thinks outside the box. He's not afraid to confront orthodoxy. Really a first-rate pick. It's encouraging.

COOPER: He'd also written a book, as I remember, critical of U.S. generals for not taking kind of a tougher line with political bosses during the Vietnam War. I'm wondering how that may play out given Steve Bannon's presence on the National Security Council?

BLINKEN: Look, Anderson, you'd put your finger on exactly the issue on the problem. I think General McMaster's going to have three challenges as he assumes this job. One is to make sure all of the other agencies are really around the table in the room where it happens. The State Department, Defense Department, Joint Chiefs, Treasury, Energy, they haven't been there to date and that's really hindered the policy.

Second, he needs to make sure that the National Security Council staff is looped in and listened to. They've been marginalized. He needs to bring them into the process.

But third, and this is where you are going, they need to check politics at the Situation Room door. Having Mr. Bannon in the Situation Room at the table as a co-equal to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, that's the wrong place to go.

And on top of that, there are reports that he's been running a parallel process, divorce from the National Security Council on national security issues. That is a recipe for conflict, for dysfunction.

I hope that part of General McMaster's conditions for taking the job is that he's running the show and Mr. Bannon and the ideologues and the political advisers are not going to be part of the process.

[21:05:05] COOPER: It is interesting when you think about during the campaign, Donald Trump, you know, sort of mocked some generals, saying he knew more than a lot of generals did or the most of the generals did, that they, you know, he talked about how they had been reduced to rubble. I'm not sure which generals in particular he was talking to. But he is certainly, you know, to your point of giving credit where credit is due, he certainly has, as president, decided to surround himself with key generals.

BLINKEN: Well, with key generals, and in this case, with someone who really is a great leader, again, both on the battlefield, but also in thinking about strategic affairs, in thinking about our nation's foreign policy and national security strategy. So in this case, he's really made a very good choice.

COOPER: You recently laid out in the "New York Times" reasons you felt the Iran nuclear deal has to stand. You also underscored concerns over ISIS and North Korea. Is there one thing you can point to as the highest priority for General McMaster coming into the White House in terms of possible crises overseas? Or are there just, I mean, you know, a whole plateful of stuff

BLINKEN: You know, there's a plateful, and the inbox gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the world doesn't wait. It starts sending a lot of problems and crises your way, you've got to deal with them. But I think the number one priority right now has to be continuing and succeeding in the effort against ISIL, against the Islamic State. We're doing very well. We're on the verge in Iraq and also in Syria of taking away basically the heart of their self-declared caliphate in Mosul and then in Raqqah.

That means when that happens, there won't be anyplace for foreign fighters to go anymore. They won't have resources to exploit, and their entire narrative is going to collapse, everything that's attracted people to the cause, building a state is gone.

The Obama administration handed off a very good plan that was working, a strategy that was being implemented and was succeeding. I think the number one obligation, and I hope they take this up is to continue that, because if they do, we'll be in a much better place against the Islamic State.

But, you know, as you said, there are many other things in the inbox. North Korea and its testing of missiles and its testing of nuclear weapons. Iran, and all of the questions surrounding its activities but also I hope preserving the nuclear agreement which has been good for our security, good for the security of our allies and partners around the world.

COOPER: All right, Tony Blinken, I appreciate you being with us. Thanks.

BLINKEN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Joining us now is former Democratic Congressman Steve Israel, a CNN political commentator, former Obama deputy DHS secretary and CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Also, back with us, is Michael Doran, senior fellow at the Hudson Institution.

Juliette, you've expressed some concerns about the way President Trump's National Security Council was shaping up during his first month. How do you see things now proceeding under General McMaster?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, I completely agree with Tony Blinken from before, I think, give credit where credit is due. This is a good pick.

What we don't know yet, though, so not everyone sighing a deep relief, is whether this is the end of the war between professional national security staff and the political apparatus led by Bannon or if this is just replacing one general for another. So I think we're going to have to wait and see what that means.

But at least in terms of having someone who respects process and that's not sort of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. It is very important that agencies like DHS, DOJ, DOD, have a seat at the table so that they can give the best advice to the President of the United States. That is what the national security staff is about.

So, we just simply don't know at this stage what deals were made to get him on board or whether Bannon is going to keep running this parallel process. And you're going to have this madness that we've seen so far continue, unfortunately.

COOPER: Mike, do you agree with Tony Blinken that it's critical that McMaster -- that General McMaster have the President's ear, the ability to have a direct line to the President, not sort of have it funnel through Steve Bannon or somebody else?

MICHAEL DORAN, THE HUDSON INSTITUTION: I don't think it's -- the national security adviser's going to have to fight for the President's ear. And I think this is a great choice as everybody has said.

You know, H.R. McMaster, everybody's pointed out that he was an architect to the counter insurgency, but he was also, if you go back to 1991, Captain McMaster was the architect of the Battle for 73 Easting, which is a tank battle in which he destroyed regiments of the Republican guard in minutes with no loss of life for the Americans. And our students and more colleges, they study both H.R. McMaster in Iraq, in counter insurgency, and H.R. McMaster as a tank commander. So he has the full spectrum. He's incredibly agile, incredibly knowledgeable about national security on all levels. I think he'll have no problem getting the President's ear.

COOPER: Congressman, as we all know, you're a supporter of General McMaster as well. I'm wondering what you make in retrospect for the criticism from some people that President Trump had too many military people in his Cabinet, too many military people around him. Do you believe that's actually a good thing?

[21:10:07] STEVE ISRAEL, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Well, there's a difference between having too many military people and having the right and smart military people.

Look, I'm very pleasantly surprised by this appointment, Anderson. I worked with General McMaster when I was on the Armed Services Committee and the Appropriation Subcommittee on Defense. We worked together on the issue of professional military education, that is how we educate our troops and invest them with critical thinking in very challenging and complex strategic environments. He is a warrior scholar. He understands the limits of hard power and how you leverage soft power. And I believe that he can bring order to chaos.

Now, the challenge will be, will President Trump actually listen to him? Will he take the General's recommendations and implement them? If he does, I do believe that we have an opportunity to institute order to chaos.

COOPER: So, Congressman, are you still concern about Steve Bannon's presence on the principal's group at the NSC?

ISRAEL: I'm very deeply concern. There were two people who concern me most with respect to the formation of the new administration, Steve Bannon and General Flynn. General Flynn is no longer on the scene. Steve Bannon continues to be extremely influential. I'm hoping that General McMaster can be a reasoned judicious counter balance to Steve Bannon.

COOPER: Juliette, you know, Reince Preibus, the White House chief of staff was on Chris Wallace's show yesterday emphasizing that the new national security adviser will have what he termed as total and complete say over the makeup of the NSC. Is it clear to you exactly what that means? Because it was by executive order that Steve Bannon was made a member of the NSC principals committee. KAYYEM: Yeah. I saw that too. I wasn't not sure if they were meaning they were going to revise the executive order which President Trump has said. He -- it was unclear whether he knew what was going on when he sign that executive order.

What I hope happens now is that we stop talking about the people, you know, the people are relevant, but they had a transition, and they're a little bit late in sort of getting the White House moving forward. What we have now is a much more interesting, and I would say to our allies, disconcerting situation, which is we have a new national security adviser. We have Cabinet secretaries all around the world, seemingly disagreeing with President Trump, we have Pence who is saying sort of 180 degrees from what the President is saying.

And so the question now is, what is the Trump doctrine that is going to be played out or, or manifested itself through these Cabinet secretaries and the new national security adviser? I don't think we know the answer to that question yet. We know a lot of things that Trump has said about China or Israel or NATO. He seems to have gone back on. But we don't know what the affirmative agenda is. We -- and then we can debate it, right, instead of talking about all these individuals, we then can debate the policies of Trump.

COOPER: Mike, do you think that's important to have a so-called Trump doctrine? Or is that something that takes time to sort of form?

DORAN: I feel like I'm seeing an entirely different movie. I feel like we have a return to American power as it had been traditionally understood before President Obama, where we support allies and we challenge and compete with enemies. Over the last eight years, a Russian and Iranian alliance grew up in the Middle East, and it was unchecked by the Americans.

What I hear from Rex Tillerson, from Jim Mattis, from H.R. McMaster, from all of the top officials is that the United States is back. The passivity that our allies saw over the last eight years is over.

COOPER: But -- I mean you talked about Russia in particular, Mike. I mean, are you concern at all that the President -- I mean you talked about a lot of people around the President. You're not necessarily saying you hear this directly from the President, particularly on the Russia, he seems to have been saying very favorable things about Vladimir Putin.

DORAN: The President has said that we're possible he wants to try to find common ground with Vladimir Putin, but Mike Pence was in Europe saying that we're going to push back against the Russians in Ukraine. In the Middle East, we -- all of our top officials have consistently said that Iran is on notice. Iran is in an alliance with Russia. If you're pushing back against Iran, you're pushing back against Russia. I just don't see this caving to Russia anywhere.

COOPER: All right, Mike Doran, appreciate it, Steve Israel, Juliette Kayyem, thank you.

Coming up next, President Trump's first month in office. The hits, the runs, and the errors.


[21:17:32] COOPER: In just the last 48 hours, we've seen the full spectrum of the Trump presidency so far from a widely acclaimed choice for national security adviser to some confusion over remarks about Sweden. We've seen a full-throated effort to reassure allies, more attacks on the press and continued claims of great accomplishments so far. As with so much in American politics, how you view this past four weeks of the Trump presidency may simply depend on which side of the political aisle you're on. CNN's Tom Foreman tonight takes a look.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By many measures, the new administration has been a shot of adrenaline for the economy. The new President pushing U.S. companies to keep more jobs in the country approving, long-delayed pipeline projects and promising infrastructure improvements which could inject a trillion dollars into American industry over the next 10 years.

TRUMP: We are going to lower taxes on American business, so it's cheaper and easier to produce product and beautiful things like airplanes right here in America.

FOREMAN: The stock market rose more in President Trump's first month than it has for any other new president since LBJ. How much credit he deserves is debatable, but consumer confidence already growing under Barack Obama is still climbing too.

TRUMP: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

FOREMAN: On key issues for his party, he's kept his word, picking a conservative Supreme Court nominee, pressing ahead with talk of repealing and replacing Obamacare even though details are lacking, cracking down on immigration and still preparing for a wall on the Mexican border. His supporters are thrilled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We the people, our movement is the reason why our President of the United States is standing here in front of us today.

FOREMAN: But President Trump's first month has also seen streets flooded with protesters infuriated by his policies. His already low approval rating has dropped even lower. His travel ban aimed at seven largely Muslim nations has been derailed by the courts, leaving him lashing out while working on a rewrite.

TRUMP: The new order is going to be very much tailored to the, what I consider to be a very bad decision.

FOREMAN: The abrupt departure of his national security adviser, prompted reports of chaos in the White House and fears of Russian ties. His foreign policy statements have raised alarms abroad, but most of all, the administration has suffered unforced errors, a tendency to make false statements to conflate personal and political concerns and to blame it all on someone, anyone else.

[21:20:11] REINCE PREIBUS, White House Chief Of Staff: What we've been through over the last 10 days has been unbelievable. The leaks, the fake stories, the anonymous accusations, that stuff is bad.


FOREMAN: In some ways, it all comes down to a tale of two Trumps. For supporters, his first month in office really has been the best of times. For opponents, the worst. And the gap between the two sides has never been wider. Anderson?

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.

Here now with their 30-day report cards, CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, host of "The Axe Files" podcast and former senior adviser, obviously, to President Obama, also, CNN senior -- David -- political analyst, sorry, David Gergen, who's been serving Democratic and Republican administrations dating back, I'm told, to the days when David Axelrod were a handlebar mustache. I'm not sure if that's actually true.

So, David Axelrod, I mean, it's hard to believe it's only been a month, so much happening so fast. What has struck you so far?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Well, look, I think Tom's report was right on target. The President, the administration, we've pointed to those things that he talked about at the top. You know, the one that he, I don't think mentioned was the appointment of the Supreme Court Justice nominee, Gorsuch, which was very well received by his base and beyond his base. So he has some things to point to. But they've often been obscured by these self-inflicted wounds. And the order on the travel ban, which was poorly executed, poorly thought through and created literally global chaos. The departure in record time of his national security adviser and continued questions about Russia.

And, you know, and then of course his own performance, that press conference last Thursday which looked more at times like Looney Tunes than fine tuned and the tweets which have completely obscured the message that he wants to get across.

So, is, you know, we're -- this administration is in its infancy. There are light-years to go. And if he fulfills the promises that To discussed in his piece, he has a chance to do very well, but that requires him changing his approach.

Donald Trump has gotten as far as he's gotten by being an impulsive, improvisational figure who's created tension around him. That does not work in the presidency. He needs a process. He needs to respect that process. He needs to stop getting in his own way. And if he doesn't do that, this first month is going to be a predicate to a very long, hard four years.

COOPER: David Gergen, do you agree with that that he needs a process and do you see any likelihood that he actually will make those kinds of changes, because clearly he's been leading with what got him here in the first place, which is being improvisational, going, you know, continuing to tweet, continuing to do all the things that brought him here.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, there are mixed signals, Anderson. I must say to his credit, the appointment of H.R. McMaster -- General McMaster today to be his national security adviser, I think that's one of the finest appointments he's made. I think he's finally getting a more professional team on the national security side.

But overall, what we're seeing here is a counter revolution. You know, for some 70 years, the United States, since the end of World War II has been moving toward becoming a global leader, toward a more collaborative world in which we support international institutions and which there's greater governmental engagement in the domestic economy, more supports for people. Well, you know, we've developed much more of a welfare state than we had.

And generally speaking, the country has done very, very well but there have been pockets, serious pockets of people who feel they've been left behind. And he's now staging a counter revolution in their name. And I must say, it's something we've never seen before in our lifetimes and that is a president who is rejecting internationalism and globalism, who's rejecting diversity in favor of a more white, homogenous population of the kind we have, you know, way back when before we are born.

And so, we don't know how this going to go. It is absolutely staggering to think that we're only one month in and we have 47 more months of this first term, still to go. I just don't think anybody believe we're going to -- it is going to go like this for 47 months. It's like we're in a pressure cooker and something's going do blow here before this is over. He's going to settle down or we're going to have just (inaudible). Because I don't think the country can live in this kind of tension and uncertainty, anxiety, joy on the part of his supporters that really, you know --

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: -- heartfelt. But so many people in this country are now fearful.

[21:25:03] COOPER: Well, David Axelrod, though, it does seem like for -- you know, I think it seems like and I don't want to, you know, try to analyze somebody. But, you know, for President Trump, he's sort of at the center of the storm. And I think he may believe it when he says he -- you know, everything's running like, you know, a finely- oiled machine or a fine-tuned machine, whatever his exact phraseology was. Because maybe for him, this is a normal state, this kind of, you know, competing groups, people competing for his attention, sort of this chaotic environment, but is not something we're used to initially seeing in the White House.

AXELROD: Yeah, well, I think the thing about Trump is he came to office as a man who is challenging institutions, but he doesn't really understand those institutions. So it may be hard for him to judge in the context of what the presidency really requires, and that's something he's going to have to learn.

COOPER: David Axelrod, David Gergen, thank you very much.

Up next, as David Axelrod mentioned the tweets, we're going to tell you about another round of the President versus the press and some pushback from inside his own party. Perspective from Carl Bernstein also when we continue.


[21:30:03] COOPER: President Trump once again shared his disdain for the press today using the fake media label in a tweet. After news program questioned why he seems to make reference to, well, many people interpreted as a non-existing terror incident in Sweden at his rally in Florida on Saturday.

The President is not backing down on his line of attack even as he takes heat from some in his own party who don't like it. Brian Stelter, tonight report.


TRUMP: Many of our great presidents fought with the media and called them out, often times on their lies.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPODENT (voice-over): But not like this. Trump tweeted on Friday, "The fake news media is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people."

Historians said the closest thing to Trump's tweet could be heard on this secret tape of Richard Nixon.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy.

STELTER (voice-over): Nixon said this privately. While reporters probed his misconduct. Forty-five years later, reporters are chasing lead about Trump, and he hates what he's reading.

TRUMP: Do you think that one media group back there, that one network will show this crowd? Not one.

STELTER (voice-over): Of course the networks did show the adoring crowds and the protesters too. Trump's aides are defending his media attacks.

PRIEBUS: So you get about 10 percent coverage, the next 20 hours is all about Russian spies.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But you don't get to tell us what to do, Reince. You don't get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I got to say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people.

STELTER (voice-over): Some Republican leaders are joining Democrats in raising alarms about Trump's vitriol. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: 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'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.

STELTER (voice-over): Others are hitting the brakes, saying Trump is just talking, not actually clamping down on the press.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I haven't seen any legislation coming forward that wants to limit the press. I see President Trump expressing his opinion.

STELTER (voice-over): But media freedom groups are disturbed, saying Trump's barbs have a chilling effect.

TRUMP: I will never, ever let them get away with it.

STELTER (voice-over): Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, joining me now, legendary journalist and author Carl Bernstein. He's also a CNN political analyst. Carl, I want to ask you about something you said over the weekend. In the past, I think it was last week, you kind of cautiously broached the comparison of President Trump to President Nixon in some ways. Over the weekend, you said to Brian Stelter, the President Trump's attacks against the media are "More treacherous than Richard Nixon's attacks."

Now, obviously, as we just showed, Nixon's attacks were done in private. And obviously Trump's was very public. Do you think they're Nixonian though?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they're worse. Donald Trump has shown himself to be an enemy of the truth. That is the terrible reality that we're dealing with. And every presidency succeeds or fails to the extent that a president is they are committed to the truth. And that's what we're up against here.

And in terms of Nixon, the phrase, "Enemy of the people" is a phrase used by despots, dictators, authoritarians, going back to ancient Rome. And in the 20th century by the worst despots and dictators, the Bolsheviks, the Chinese communists, and I'll stop at that point. It is the most chilling phrase that a leader can utter. Enemy of the people has terrifying meaning, and Donald Trump means it because he has no commitment to the truth. And he also does do the work himself of learning what is the truth. He's lazy about trying to know what's going on.

COOPER: To Rand Paul's point, you know, he said that he hasn't seen legislation to Donald Trump during the campaign talked about, you know, tide (ph) and libel laws. But that is not legislation. This is the man expressing his opinion.

BERNSTEIN: I don't think Stalin asked for a lot of legislative action before he went after enemies of the people. I think what Rand Paul said is ridiculous. That Trump has vowed to intimidate and to start plugging leaks, there is no question that what he is talking about is anti-democratic, authoritarian as John McCain and others, Republicans are recognizing. We are in a situation here where the president of the United States has no interest in the truth.

When he, you know, when the press was going after Hillary Clinton on her server, after the Clinton Foundation and doing reporting on that, he thought the press were great patriots. This is a kind of hypocrisy that really is frightening. And that all Americans, especially Trump supporters ought to be concerned about.

[21:35:04] Trump won an amazing victory. And through these supporters, many of whom had been ignored and screwed over by the elites --


BERNSTEIN: -- as he properly recognized at the same time, they are the ones who are being short changed by his absolute disdain for truth.

COOPER: Carl, when you were reporting on Nixon, I mean, how many of certain Nixon supporters stuck with Nixon all the way through Watergate, all the way through to the end?

BERNSTEIN: Almost done and the great thing that happened in Watergate, the system worked. Republicans, Barry Goldwater, the 1964 nominee of his party for president marched to the White House after articles of impeachment had been voted by the House Judiciary Committee and told Nixon, you must leave office, I will vote in the Senate to convict you of high crimes and misdemeanors, and the next day, Nixon left.

And what we are seeing now is concern among Republicans on the Hill about Donald Trump's emotional stability, about his lie and about whether or not he is suited and fit to be president of the United States if he continues to act in office as he has so far.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein, appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

Coming up is a candidate Donald Trump talked a lot about what he would do in the first days and weeks in office, first months. Over the last several weeks, we've been looking back at other presidents as well to see what they accomplished in their first 100 days. Tonight, since President Trump recently said he's inherited a mess from President Obama, we thought we'd look back at Mr. Obama's first 100 days. Part of our continuing series with the president then President Obama got done in the battles he faced.


[21:40:39] COOPER: Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted that you shouldn't believe the mainstream media, the White House is running very well, and that he's in the process of fixing what he calls the mess he inherited. The mess proclaim was one he used several times at his press conference last week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I inherited a mess. It's a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. See what's going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places. Low-pay, low wages, mess instability overseas, no matter where you look. The Middle East, a disaster. North Korea. We'll take care of it, folks. We're going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.


COOPER: As part of our ongoing look at past presidents and their first 100 days, we thought tonight was a good time as any to look back the Obama presidency start in 2009.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear.

AXELROD: The inauguration day was a chilly, clear day, crowds as far as the eye could see. President Bush, who by the way, we had pilloried during that campaign, he puts his hands on my shoulders, and he says, "Axelrod, I've been watching you." Now, I don't know whether he's going to punch me in the face or what. And he says, "You're going to do all right here." He said, "But my only advice to you is just drink in every minute, because you're in for the ride of your life, and that's going to go by faster than you ever imagine."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

OBAMA: To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.


OBAMA: So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.

PEOPLE: Yes, we can!


PEOPLE: Yes, we can!


PEOPLE: Yes, we can!

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: It was a big lift for the country. It wasn't just the theme of Obama, the hope came. But that an African American had become president was astonishing. OBAMA: A man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ADVISER: This guy is the Beatles. He at that time was the most beloved and powerful and exciting human on earth.

WOODWARD: Obama, very much like Kennedy. It's the youth. It's that and we're going to fix things, equally astonishing was how young he was.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AUTHOR: Obama understood that he needed to surround himself with people who also had more experience and he knew that from President Lincoln, who he had idolized. He had called me up and told me he had read "Team of Rivals", and we have to talk. So he brought me down to Washington to talk about how can a man be a great president and a good president? How could a man forget people who'd hurt him? And when he reached out to Hillary Clinton, he knew that he was putting his chief rival into that most important position, secretary of state, just as Lincoln had.

AXELROD: Inauguration day, there was a sense of both history, the first African American president taking office that was kind of electric. And also a sense of concern about the extraordinary crisis that we were in, the economic crisis.

OBAMA: Every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.

AXELROD: The storm clouds were obviously gathering. I remember once flying in the campaign plane with him, and he was reading the "Wall Street Journal", and he lowered the paper just enough for me to see his eyes, and he said, "Are we sure we want this job?"

[21:45:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This market is as volatile as you'll ever see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dow has fallen about 18 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 600-point loss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who knows where this is going to end up?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There was still fear at the time of Obama's inauguration that this recession could turn to a depression. That at any moment, the stock market might just drop and the bottom might fall out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Wall Street has its worst showing ever on an inaugural day.

BRINKLEY: Companies were down sizing massively, home prices were pummeling. I mean, the Great Recession was a real hole, and Obama was trying to dig us out of it.

OBAMA: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves up, and begin again the work of remaking America.

We begin this year in this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action.

BRINKLEY: One of the things President Obama had to do right out of the gate was get the economy up and running. So the stimulus package became the golden bow of that. He had to get that through Congress.

OBAMA: It's a plan that will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years.

AXELROD: We would lose 800,000 jobs in that month that we took office, with a one in three chance that we'd have a second Great Depression. The Recovery Act was sent -- if we didn't have a Recovery Act, we wouldn't have a recovery. It's as simple as that.

OBAMA: I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people's business.

JONES: We had a path forward. At that time, we had no idea how uncooperative the Republicans were going to be.


COPPER: Coming up, the fight President Obama faced in his first 100 days that would set the tone for his entire presidency.


[12:50:34] COOPER: We're continuing now our look at the first 100 days of the Obama presidency. And how the fights he faced on those first 100 days define battle lines for the next eight years.


JONES: The mandate was just to stabilize the economy. And the White House at that time had this sober quiet to it. It was like being in an operating room. People talked in almost hushed tones because it was that serious.

OBAMA: If we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.

BRINKLEY: President Obama immediately put forward a stimulus package.

OBAMA: There are some legitimate philosophical differences with parts of my plan that the Republican Senate --

GOODWIN: The whole idea that he might have wanted to become a post- partisan leader was shattered in the way that Congress reacted to the stimulus program.

OBAMA: I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people's business right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the yays are 244. The nays are 188. The bill is passed. Without objection, I motion for us to reconsider is laid upon the table.

COOPER: We begin with breaking news. President Barack Obama's massive plan to save the economy has cleared its first hurdle. It was the first major test of Barack Obama's presidency. The bill passed, didn't ace the exam, however, not a single Republican broke ranks to support it.

GOODWIN: That was the first signal in a way that this was going to be a different kind of presidency that he might have thought it would have been. Well, not a single Republican voted for that.

AXELROD: The Republican leaders made a calculation that they had more to gain by fighting the president than cooperating with him because he was going to have to make a series of really unpopular decisions to get the economy going again.

WOODWARD: I think the mistake he made was he turned too much of his agenda over to the Democrats. They excluded Republicans on the stimulus package. And the failure to make deals hurt him.

AXELROD: There's no doubt that the fights that he had with Republicans over things like the Recovery Act to find the battle lines that would be apparent for eight years.

OBAMA: Today, I've come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end.

AXELROD: We were at war in two theaters with 180,000 American troops between Afghanistan and Iraq and ongoing terrorist threat. There were many challenges coming at once.

OBAMA: America's men and women in uniform, so many of you have fought block by block, province by province, year after year to give the Iraqis this chance to choose a better future. Now, we must ask the Iraqi people to seize it.

WOODWARD: He really doesn't like war. He referred me once, he said, you know, go read my Nobel Prize acceptance speech. And he says war is sometimes necessary. But it is always a manifestation of human folly. He does not like war.

ANNE MARIE SLAUGHTER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF POLICY PLANNING, STATE DEPARTMENT: He comes to power, he wants to be a peace president and there he is subtle not only with Iraq but Afghanistan. And so I think it's hugely frustrating to him to see that his predecessors got us into a situation that we now really don't seem to be able to extricate ourselves from without creating many of the problems we went in to solve.

OBAMA: Let me say this as plainly as I can. By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office?

OBAMA: I am surprised compared to where I started when we first announced for this race. By the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time.

[12:55:00] BRINKLEY: The end of President Obama's 100 days, he held a press conference, and it was the same topic that he inherited from day one, where's the economy at, and what are we going to be able to do to fix it. President Obama had to constantly tell people it can't be done overnight.

GOODWIN: In between the stimulus getting passed between the G.M., and the Chrysler, and the bailouts, and the Wall Street problems meant that there was just hardly time to breathe in those 100 days.

OBAMA: So let's get to work. Thank you, everybody.

AXELROD: It just felt like we were just being buffeted by all these forces. And I said to the president, "You know, I wonder what it would be like to be here in good times," and he laughed and said, "Don't kid yourself, brother, if these were good times, we wouldn't be here."

JONES: People forget, Obama became the captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. He didn't drive it into the iceberg. He got there when we were taking on water. And the fact that we're still floating these many years later is itself a kind of a miracle.

OBAMA: Every generation has to rise up to the specific challenges that confront them. I'm confident that we are going to meet these challenges just like our grandparents and forbearers met them before. All right. Thank you, everybody.


COOPER: And we'll be right back.


[22:00:05] COOPER: That's all the time we have tonight. Thanks for watching. It's time to hand things over to Don Lemon. CNN TONIGHT starts right now.