Return to Transcripts main page


Tempers Erupt At Republican Town Halls; Spicer: Town Hall Protests Are Not Representative; Republican Lawmakers Face Angry Constituents; Some Republicans Not Holding Meetings To Avoid Protests; Lawmakers' Answers Drowned Out At Times; Many Constituents Deny Being Paid To Attend Meetings; Poll: Trump Approval Rating Drops To 38 percent; Democrats Vying For Chance To Lead Their Party; Battle To Head Democratic National Committee; Trump Withdraws Protections For Transgender Students; Mending Fences With Mexico; Juventus Win At 10- man Porto; Budapest Drops 2024 Games Bid; Sources: Bannon And Pence Give Conflicting Views of E.U.; Far Right Challenging European Establishment. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 23, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hello everybody, great to have you with us. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles where it's just gone 10:00.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares live in London, where it's 6:00 in the morning. Now, anger is boiling over in town hall meetings right across the United States. Congress, is in recess and Republican lawmakers are facing their constituent's tough questions on issues they're really worried about like, Obamacare, immigration, and the Trump administration's ties to Russia.

VAUSE: The confrontations have put the Republicans on the defensive. Many GOP representatives have decided to avoid the angry meetings all together. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, did show up. Here's what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As an angry constituent. You work for us. You want to stand there with (INAUDIBLE), expect us to be calm, cool, and collective? Well, affordable insurance, do you have?


VAUSE: Let's bring our political panel, right now. In Atlanta, we have CNN's Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston; here in Los Angeles, CNN Political Commentator and Trump supporter, John Phillips; Democratic Strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican Consultant, John Thomas. OK. Let's start with the reaction from the White House to these angry town halls meetings, here's Spokesman Sean Spicer earlier today.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think some people are clearly upset, but there is a bit of professional protester manufactured based in there. But there're obviously, there are people that are upset, But I also think that when you look at some of these districts and some of these things. It is - it is not a representation of a member's district, for an instant it is, a loud group - small group of people disrupting something in many cases for media attention. No offense, it's just I think that not necessarily just because their loud doesn't necessarily mean that there are many.


VAUSE: John Phillips, first to you. Sean Spicer, he's probably right here - the people protesting most likely are not Republicans, mostly likely are not Trump voters. But at this point, does that actually matter?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he happens to be right. I mean, it's not very hard to get 200 angry people in a room. I don't know if you've ever been in an airport when a flight has been delayed, but they seem to manufacture themselves. But in these Republican districts and some of the footage that we saw were in places like Utah, some were North Carolina, these are Republican districts where the Republican can win 60/40 which is a total landslide.

But if the Democrats have 40 percent registration in these districts, that's still a lot of people who hated Donald Trump before the election, didn't for him, and hate him today. And the comparisons to the Tea Party, which I've seen all day, I guess you can call these guys the Green Tea Party, is just totally wrong in my opinion as well. Because what was unique about the Tea Party was not the numbers of people that it put in the streets, or are put at these town hall meetings.

What was unique about the Tea Party was what political scientist called "critical re-alignment," where you had these blue color, white Democrats that used to vote Democratic in presidential elections, and legislative elections for years, and years, and years. Re-align themselves with the Republican Party, and 2016 was the culmination of that. There is no evidence that you're seeing former Trump supporters in these meetings or former Republican voters in these meetings turning on them in mass. These are Democrats, and it's not surprising, and really, I think it's not that big of a deal.

VAUSE: Dave, to you, as a Democrat here. Yes, these are Democrats, yes, these are mostly likely not Trump supporters, but will there comes a time when there will be Trump supporters who are turning out at these town hall meetings who are angry with the President.

[01:04:58] DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it's possible, if you look at the President's approval rating, it's been ticking down every single day since he's been in office. In fact, if you look at that past presidents: took Barack Obama almost 900 days, that the majority of the Americans disapproving of the job performance. It took 1200 days for George W. Bush. It took a mere eight days for Donald Trump to have the majority of Americans disapproving of his performance. So, I think that really underscores the fact that some of the people who perhaps held their nose and voted for Donald Trump, are starting to disapprove of his job performance.

VAUSE: We also have other poll numbers at the moment, but not, Preston to you, and to John Phillips' point. What other similarities here between these town hall protest, these angry meetings, and the Tea Party? Because those comparisons have been made all, you know, for the last couple of days, do you see them as having similarities here?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, probably the biggest similarity though, John, now, is the fact that the Tea Party was dismissed by the Democratic Party back in 2009. It was dismissed by the Obama White House, it is now being dismissed by, at least publicly now, by the Trump White House. I think what you're going to see happen is you're going to see Republicans come back from their recess, they're going to come to Washington D.C. And they're going to have a real coming-to-Jesus moment about how are they going to move forward on some of the things that they said they are going to do, and how are they going to work hand-in-hand with a Republican administration in the White House that often is off the message from what they're trying to do.

Specifically, when you talk about the repeal and replace of Obamacare, the timelines, from what we hear publicly from the White House is much different than what we hear from Congressional Republicans, who actually have to put the legislation into order before it actually gets to the White House for signature. And then what you're going to see a really big fight on, is on the issue of infrastructure spending. We all know that infrastructure needs to be fixed, John, across the nation, but the question is, how you pay for it specifically, when we're carrying such a heavy debt load at this point. And I think that Congressional Republicans is going to be a hard pill for them to swallow if Donald Trump just says, let's write a blank check and get some things done.

VAUSE: And John Thomas, as a Republican Strategist, you know, for many of these Congressman, they we're confronting many of these angry constituents; be they're Republicans, or Democrats, or neither. They are in a bit of line here, they don't have anything to defend especially on the issue of healthcare. They have a lot of guidelines, they have a lot of aspirations, but they have no details, they have nothing to offer these people in these meetings. And that's a huge problem.

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: It is a problem. And the biggest problem is average member of Congress, they one phone call a day from an angry constituent - self-depresses in the office. And so, if you're getting hundreds of phone calls, angry mobs, it really tests the constitution of these members of Congress. Hopefully for their sake, they're in a safe district, but what they need is a major win coming out of the White House, to kind of give them something to fall back on.

VAUSE: And Dave, the question for Democrats right now, who's actually at these meetings from the Democratic Party? Who's signing this people up? Who's getting their email addresses, their phone numbers, to make sure this is not just some kind of, you know, group therapy session of that help us (INAUDIBLE) that, you know, mobilizes into some kind of political movement by 2018 for the mid-term.

JACOBSON: Well, I think that's the big question is like. I think, largely, these are organic mobilization efforts that are on the ground district by district. There's not really a national movement or national apparatus that's really capturing this information, getting these folks to sign-up participating an email list served. And I think that's the big challenge the next DNC Chair is going to have really tackles. How do I tap into these protests? The Women's March, the protests at the airports, at these Congressional Offices, and the town halls? How channel that energy to the upcoming election?

VAUSE: And John Phillips, just to bring you back into this, you know, is there a concern, you know, as a Republican, as a Donald Trump supporter, that what started is essentially liberals and Democrats. You know, will, overtime, Mr. President cannot deliver on his promises, you know, become more wide-spread. And there will be similarities with the Tea Party in the sense that, you know, they will go against the Republicans, essentially, to get their agenda through.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's only a danger if he alienates his supporters. This country is split 50/50 right now, where the people that supported Donald Trump want a completely different agenda being pushed in Washington D.C., then these people. And we've seen this movie before, this is what happened with occupied Wall Street. When occupied Wall Street, was organically popping up in all of these different cities, and the numbers were huge, and the protest were huge, and the media coverage was huge. We were told this is going to be a new America, they're going to demand that the Democratic Party move to the left, they're going to vote the Republicans out of the office.

And what's happened since then? The Republicans who've won the Senate, the House, the Presidency, a record number of State Legislators, they control a majority of the Governorships in this country, it didn't translate in to votes. I've seen absolutely no evidence of what we're seeing play out on television, is going to translate into any electoral victory. And guess what? The Democrats have a huge road game coming up in the mid-term elections. They're going to be depending ten different U.S. Senate seats in states that Donald Trump won, and in many cases, won handily.

[01:10:01] VAUSE: And Mark Preston, though, John makes a good point there, there is a big road ahead for the Democrats. But the Republicans are not being helped by Donald Trump's, you know, poll numbers, at least not right now. Look at the numbers coming from Quinnipiac. According the Quinnipiac, Donald Trump's numbers are sinking like a rock down to a record low, when it comes to approval.

PRESTON: They are. So, I mean, let's give him a little bit of time because these poll numbers are not going to have any real problematic effect on the Republican Party at this moment in time, but let's look down the road a little bit. You've seen Donald Trump get a lot of things done that he said he wanted to get done, or at least start it to get done. He's done that through executive order, that's basically, you know, without any consultation from Congress - it is without any consultation from Congress, and he's able to get things done. However, at some point, you're going to hit the end of the road of

being able to use an executive order to try to get things done. You are then going to have to work with Capitol Hill, in order to get things done. And what John Phillips says is right, that Donald Trump runs the risk of alienating his supporters because, many of the people who voted for Donald Trump do not have the same agenda as Congressional Republicans, or if they do, they don't have the same roadmap about how to get there.

Legislating is very difficult. I know it's easy, you know, for us to sit here behind these desks and to criticize people for not getting things done, but it is very hard and it is very expensive. And we're specifically seeing that right now with Republicans when it comes to the issue of Obamacare. You can't just say you want to get it done and it's going to get done. You have to put a lot of time, a lot of effort into it, and you have to have a plan.

VAUSE: OK. A few hours ago, we heard from the candidates vying to be chair of the Democratic National Committee. Let's listen to some of that debate, it was here on CNN.


KEITH ELLISON, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM MINNESOTA: Donald Trump has already done a number of thing, which legitimately raise the question of impeachment.

TOM PEREZ, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF LABOR: And the Democratic Party means to take the fight to Donald Trump. When we lead with our values, when we lead with our conviction, that's how we succeed.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIA MAYOR: Well, we've got to do as a party is recognize that that's same struggle for belonging is true whether you're an immigrant mom trying to make sure you won't be divided from your family, or a blue color auto-worker trying to figure out where your job's going to be, or a transgender kid in high school who just needs to go to the bathroom like everybody else. We're all in this together, that's got to be a message.


VAUSE: So, Mark Preston, we first have from Keith Ellison there, talking about impeachment. How serious is this talk of impeachment? How serious they should be taken? As the first one to raise it.

PRESTON: Right, right. And really, the question was because we're seeing some people in the Democratic Party, specifically liberal wing of the Democratic Party that are calling for efforts to try to impeach Donald Trump. At this point, it's way too early to even go down that road. In fact, we're seeing Democratic Leaders those, such as Nancy Pelosi that won't even go as far, John, to say that.

However, expect to hear this over, and over, and over again because there are some legitimate concerns about Donald Trump's business ties. I mean, whether it leaves to - even the effort towards - real efforts towards impeachment, you know, we'll see if that happens. But the fact of the matter is, there are some concerns about how Donald Trump is still conducting his businesses at the same time he's conducting the business in the United States.

VAUSE: And Dave, just wanting to - does this position even matter, you know, isn't this, you know, just essentially the person who raises money, appears on a Sunday talk shows, and you know, the joke is, "I don't belong to an organized political party, I'm a Democrat."

JACOBSON: Yes. I mean, look, largely like the conversation tonight was a dialogue about the messaging of the party. But at the end of the day, the DNC Chair is really all about mechanics, and organizing, and being able to improve the infrastructure within the party. Perhaps, decentralizing the party, giving the state parties more power, raising money, helping to elect Democrats all across the country. Largely, the conversation tonight was about messaging, what we did wrong in 2016, what we needed to do right in 2017.

But really quick, if I can, going back to the question of impeachment, I think ultimately, what Republicans have to consider is they impeached President Bill Clinton because he was unfaithful to his wife. But we also have somebody who, theoretically, was unfaithful to his country when he asked the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton's emails. Number one, Number two, let's see what these investigations by Congress come up with about Donald Trump's ties to Russia.

THOMAS: Perjuring yourself is a whole different thing that Clinton did. But here's what struck me tonight, first of all, talking about messaging they've gave me only reference jobs in the economy - just a handful of times the entire night, which is fundamentally why they lost, and they're still not answering that question. The other, really, between the battle of Ellison and Perez was really a battle of falling in love versus falling in like. You know, they want to fall in love, but the left made their party, but I think it might be, perhaps too far left. It'll be interesting to see how that all shapes out.

VAUSE: And finally, John Phillips, your takeaway from the debate tonight. Which direction do you think the Democrats are heading, judging from what you saw the last couple of hours?

[01:14:52] PHILLIPS: Well, a friend of mine ask me if I thought that Keith Ellison had a chance at actually winning? And I said, no, because God doesn't love me that much. And I think that I might be wrong, and I might get my wish. Look, he said that the two main roles for the Chair of the DNC is to raise money, and they go on T.V. He's already offended some of the largest donors including Hansen Vaughn in this process by anti-Semitic remarks that he's made before in the past. He was confronted by Dana Bash tonight about comments he made about repealing the second amendment today and he looked like Bob Kardashian when the OJ verdict was read. He's donned underneath the ground. Meet the press is going to be must-see TV every single week if this guy is the face of the Democratic Party.

[01:15:35] VAUSE: OK, and with that we shall leave it for now. Mark Preston at Atlanta, John Philipps, Dave Jacobson and John Thomas, thank you all for being with us, much appreciated. And just a few hours ago, the Trump Administration said it will roll back federal protection for transgender students. The Obama era guidelines required public schools to allow children to use the bathroom which corresponded to their gender identity. The announcement sparked protests in supporter transgender rights outside the White House. The Administration has not offered any guidance, instead, the policy should be decided now by the State.

SOARES: Up next, right here on NEWSROOM L.A; the self-diplomacy of President Trump's top adviser. Why the White House could be undercutting the hue to the advantage of European nationalists.

Plus, the U.S. Secretary of State is on a goodwill mission trying to mend fences with an unhappy neighbor, Mexico. We'll bring you both those stories after a very short break.


KATE RILEY, CNN SPORTS WORLD ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORT Headlines. Well, English champions Leicester City are in danger of being relegate this season. The Barclays do have something to celebrate after their first leg event of their Champion's League game against Sevilla. Despite squandering a penalty in the first half, Sevilla found themselves two-nil up, thanks to Pablo Sarabia header. It was followed by Joaquin Correa who finished likely for the Spanish side. The Leicester then gave up, Jamie Vardy finally grabbing what could be a crucial away goal and setting up an exciting second leg. 2-1 Sevilla, it ends.

Now, two of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time went head to head as Iker Casillas' Porto versus Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus. Telles' Porto finally gave in allowing Marco Piazza to put the Italian champions ahead. And then just two minutes later, Juventus doubled their lead because of Dani Alves, two-nil so they are in the final four.

And Budapest has called out its Olympic game in 2024. The decision was made after a group known as Memento Movement sent a proposition for sports reference among the bid. They collected a quarter of a million signatures, therefore forcing the bids' organizers to accept they have no chances except but make them a third bidding city to drop out after Rome and Hamburg. L.A. and Paris are the only ones in the running.

And that's a look at all your Sports Headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

[01:20:20] SOARES: And the White House seems to be sending mixed messages about its support for the European |Union and that is rackling some E.U. officials. Vice-president Mike Pence spent last week, if you remember, talking about the U.S. commitment to the European block. But one president, Trump strategist, has a very different view it seems. Our Elise Labott has all the details.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT: In Brussels this week, Vice- president Mike Pence offered these words of assurance to European allies that their ties with the U.S. were strong. MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA VICE-PRESIDENT: It's my

privilege of behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union.

LABOTT: But days earlier, Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon delivered a different message to Germany's Ambassador to Washington. In what diplomats described as a combative discussion, Bannon called the E.U. a flawed institution and told the Ambassador Peter Wittig that the White House favored strengthening ties with individual countries rather than dealing with the 27 nation block as a whole. The same anti-EU populous messages he articulated as Chief of the right wing website Pride Parade News at this 2014 conference at the Vatican.

STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: People, particularly in certain countries, want to see sovereignty for their country. They want to see nationalism for their country. They don't believe in this kind of pan-European Union

LABOTT: Both Wittig and the German government declined to comment, setting the private nature of the talks. The White House rejected the diplomat's account of the meeting calling the discussion just a quick hello. But the conversation reflected concerns across Europe about the Trump Administration's policy for the European Union. Last month, the European Union President called the Trump Administration a threat alongside China, Russia and radical Islam.

DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: The change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation, with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American Foreign Policy.

TRUMP: On the campaign trail, Donald Trump's supportive Britain leaving the E.U., even calling himself Mr. Brexit on Twitter. Days before his inauguration, he called the E.U., quote, "basically a vehicle for Germany," in an interview with British and German newspapers. "That's why I thought the U.K. was so smart in getting out," he said. "I think that's what people want. People want their own identity, so if you ask me, I believe others will leave."


LABOTT: European officials were hoping members of President Trump's cabinet like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, would help convince the President to cooperate with the E.U.. Over the Right Wing Nationalist Movement likes Trump gaining ground in upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany. The mix messages are causing wide spread anxiety throughout Europe. Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.

SOARES: Let's get more on this. I'm joined now by reporter -- political reporter, Silvia Borrelli. Silvia, thank you very much for coming in the show. This is interesting, fascinating, what is happening here -- this conversations because just last week, I was speaking to European political commentators and we were wondering why so little was said when Vice-president Pence was in town about Europe showing support for Europe. Do you think that mix messages, you think that's worrying European officials?

SILVIA BORRELLI, POLITICAL REPORTER: Definitely. Definitely, Isa. I mean, at this point, you've got the Vice-president coming all over to Brussels and, you know, saying yes, we support Europe but, you know, he was still quite vague and he didn't give a stronger messages European Officials were hoping for. And on the other side, you have Trump's new strategist who is actually conveying a completely different message behind the scenes. So really now, European officials are extremely concerned because they've got Brexit to deal with, they've got a number of a national elections to deal with and then you have populism on the right side. So this nationalistic message and this idea that if the U.S. might want to actually speak to the 27 member states of the E.U. individually --

SOARES: Bilateral deals rather than anything else.

BORRELLI: Exactly. Which is what we're also hearing from the U.K. They're saying if we can't get a good deal once were out, then we'd rather speak to 27 member state. So it's not great.

SOARES: So what is the thinking now, Silvia? Because is it that President Trump doesn't understand, doesn't believe in a pan-European Union? Or they doesn't want to?

BORRELLI: Well I think it's both, really. Because European officials in Brussels are overwhelming the concern that this Administration doesn't get what the European Union is all about. So, that one side of the story. But on the other side, you've also got all these messages that we've been getting from Trump anti-globalization nationalistic. And you know, against trade deals, so it's both and European officials are extremely concerned precisely because of that.

[01:25:10] SOARES: What does these nationalistic messages of the lawsuit hold the minute that Trump became president? That perhaps we'll see a rise within Nationalistic Parties within across Europe. We've been seeing it for years but they've become a definite - come -- become more popular. Should we be worried that they'll be having elections in the Netherlands, in Germany as well as in France about the rise of populism? Or do you think that the policies was seen by President Trump the last several weeks? Has that actually hindered them?

BORELLI: Well, in Europe for now, it's actually strengthen them because those people like Marine Le Pen or like the nationalist in Italy and Spain and the Netherlands have a shoulder to lean on because, you know, they're sort of supported by President Trump or at least, you know, no one is backing them down from the other side of the planet. So actually, it's giving them a momentum in Europe as well.

SOARES: I wanted to bring out your attention to a tweet. Well, it's not actually been correct, it's not a tweets. It's statement from President Trump to the Times of London newspaper. This is what he said, this is from January. "Look, the E.U. was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? So, I don't really care whether it's separate or together, to me it doesn't matter," here in the busy election year here in Europe. So, that's basically it.

So, what I want to -- really the question is, we've heard from Chancellor Merkel, in the last. I think it was a month or so ago, and all logs. And he basically said trying to bring forces together, trying to show solidarity that Europe's together and united. Do you think they -- that's going far enough?

BORRELLI: I'm not sure it's going far enough because otherwise, all these populist parties and movement wouldn't be on the vice but at the same time, that is clearly what they have to convey and the message they want to spread because after Brexit, there in this situation where they're not sure who's on their side and how far their message is going. So, they're clearly trying harder to convey that kind of message and they really need the U.S. to understand this and they need Trump to sort of to get on their shit but it's not working.

SOARES: And I think there's a real -- there's a real fair, isn't there Silvia, that with Brexit? You know, it's coming, it's looming that the fact these comments, these statements from President Trump could potentially do great harm to the E.U., to the actual continent. But also, it would affect the U.S. ultimately.

BORRILLO: Well, definitely, because if you think about the U.K. moving out of the European Union and looking for the U.S. much more and so you know, going with this nationalistic project of its own and with the U.S. going forward with disclosure message, it's just, you know, there's just a completely different world now.

SOARES: Well, some were actually believed that what we've seen from President Trump from the last few weeks was actually part of some the parties, specifically parties in Europe, in Italy. Some people just don't believe, don't stand for what President Trump stands for so, we'll see actually ultimately when the election happened where people stand on the issue. Silvia, thank you very much. Great to see you.

VAUSE: OK, it is 28 minutes past 10 here on the West Coast, time for a break. When we come back, high-level U.S. diplomacy in Mexico. Top Trump officials, we'll meet soon with the next camp President in a bid to get relations back on track.


[01:31:50] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles, where it's getting up to 10:32.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares, in London, where it's 7:30 in the morning on Thursday.

Here are the news headlines we'll following this hour.


Senior Trump officials are trying to get the U.S./Mexico relationship back on track. Rex Tillerson arrived there a few hours ago. John Kelly is with him. They'll meet with the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other officials. They want to talk about trade, immigration, border security, the wall. Just north of the border House Speaker Paul Ryan and other lawmakers travelled to McAllen, Texas and toured the area along the Rio Grande.

This comes as millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States are facing an uncertain future under President Donald Trump.

Let's bring back CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston; and CNN political commentator and Trump supporter, John Philips.

Mark, the reality is for any new secretary of state, first trip to Mexico, almost routine, but not this time.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Not this time. Given what Donald Trump has said that he wants to do in regard to enforcing the immigration laws here in the United States, and specifically, of course, the wall is really the epicenter of this explosion that has occurred between the United States and Mexico, but what we saw in the last 48 hours about the Trump administration offering new guidance about how it is going to enforce its laws basically putting to the test some of the laws that were on the books, he hasn't talked about new laws but laws that are on the books that would send undocumented immigrants back to Mexico. But on top of that, they would also talk about sending back those who used Mexico who came through Mexico to get to the United States, specifically, central America. That's where a lot of this undocumented immigration is actually coming from. This is something that we've heard from Mexican officials that they just won't stand for, and I really think there will be a standoff on this issue specifically.

VAUSE: John, this is how Sean Spicer described the current U.S./ Mexico relationship.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the relationship with Mexico is phenomenal right now. And I think there's an unbelievable robust dialogue between our nations.


VAUSE: I spoke with a former foreign minister from Mexico a short time ago. He wanted to know what is Sean Spicer smoking right now.

[01:35:10] JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if he was in the state of California, that's an open-ended question. But during the campaign one of the shining moments that Donald Trump had was when he went down to Mexico and visited with the Mexican president. It was really the first time in a lot of people's eyes he looked presidential. He was on the same stage as a world leader, and it really ended up working out for him. There's the video clip right there. We have a lot of shared interest with the Mexicans right now. Border security one of them. We have an illegal immigration problem where a lot of people are coming across our southern border. They have an illegal immigration border with people in central and south America crossing their south border. It's easy to be friends with someone or maintain your friendship with someone while still re- evaluating the relationship. Part of the reason we look the other way for so many years to illegal immigration was big business wanted cheap labor. It was a safety valve during the cold war so Mexico wouldn't become a problem like Cuba. That no longer exists. To reevaluating the relationship, saying we have problems with this, is a sober way of dealing with it.

VAUSE: Mark, is it a phenomenal relationship right now?

PRESTON: No. And I know Sean Spicer very well. I've known him for many years. What he has to do is he has to go out and basically parrot what Donald Trump is saying. That is his job. He is his spokesman. But the fact of the matter is if you talk to anybody -- as you said, John, when you are talking to any of the diplomats from Mexico or anybody involved in business related to Mexico, there is big fear about how this immigration orders will be enforced. And specifically, too, about building that wall. John brought up the idea about how big business would bring in basically cheap labor to work for them. Guess what. Big business doesn't want to give that up today. They don't want to give it up tomorrow. And big business is a big part of the Republican Party. So again, it's another rub. We talked about it earlier in the hour. But it's another rub between Donald Trump and his own Republicans about how to move forward and get things done.

VAUSE: Mark, quickly, is there a situation where there were no daily briefings from the State Department. Has the department, the State Department been sidelined?

PRESTON: Many people would say that is a case that we've seen some folks actually leave. But Rex Tillerson is keeping a low profile, and I think it's on the policy of the White House being careful about what's said allowing Donald Trump in many ways to be the public face and the public voice as the president of the United States of American foreign policy.

VAUSE: And, John, the question out of that is, when it comes to foreign policy, does Rex Tillerson speak for the president?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think he does, but I think Donald Trump speaks for himself in foreign policy as he does in all other aspects of the administration. But Rex Tillerson is not going to go rogue. Rex Tillerson is not going to go down there and do something Donald Trump doesn't want him to do. He's going toto go down there and put down Donald Trump's agenda. If people think there will be daylight between the two of them publicly, I don't see that happening.

VAUSE: Mark, this trip to Rex Tillerson is the third fence mending trip trying to reassure allies. Chances are it won't be their last.

PRESTON: It won't. We've seen General Jim Mattis, who talked to our European allies, went to Iraq, trying to walked back some things President Trump said. Mike Pence has done the same things. In many ways, working for Donald Trump, you wake up, figure out how are we going to get over the hurdle that what perhaps he created for us in this one day by tweeting out something or saying a statement here or there. That is going to be problematic as we get further into his presidency, I believe.

VAUSE: One month down, 47 to go.

Mark and John, again, thank you for coming back. Appreciate it.


[01:39:22] SOARES: Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. But some people argue those jobs are lost and gone forever. We'll discuss that next on NEWSROOM L.A.


SOARES: 10:42 here in Los Angeles. Welcome back.

President Trump made a lot of promises during his campaign, but one key promise may have been crucial to winning the White House. Over and over again, he said he would bring back the manufacturing jobs, which he said had been taken even stolen by countries like China and Mexico, and it resonated in traditionally Democratic states in the Rustbelt.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our country will be better off when we start making our own products again, bringing our once great manufacturing capabilities back to the shores.

Our industry, our manufacturing, our jobs, they've been taken away like we're babies, taken away. And we're going to bring them back.

Your area has lost one in three manufacturing jobs over a fairly short period of time. That's a lot of manufacturing jobs.

Every community practically is just down. The manufacturing is gone. It's being manufactured in other places. And it's no good. And we can't allow it. And, yes, it may cost a little bit more, but if we make it ourselves, we'll also have jobs.


VAUSE: There's no question the U.S. has lost millions of manufacturing jobs over the years. Is it possible to rebuild the American Rustbelt? Can President Trump make good on that key campaign promise?

Willy Shih is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, has spent the last half decade researching exactly what happened in American factories. He joins me now from Boston.

Professor, thank you for joining us.

There is some debate over how many of the jobs were lost due to cheap labor in countries like China and Mexico and how many just disappeared because of automation. What did you find?

WILLY SHIH, PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT PRACTICE, HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL: Well, John, I think it's a combination of the two. There's no question in my mind that a lot of jobs, particularly in the early 2000s moved offshore simply because of labor cost differential. The labor cost differential at that time was too large. It was a compelling move for a lot of manufacturers to make, especially when you see cost differentials, ten to one, 20 to one, times more. A lot of these jobs, especially more low-end type of assembly jobs, a lot of those moved to Asia, some to Mexico. They moved to lower cost locations. Now, at the same time, we also saw a lot of manufacturers investing in automation. Those who wanted to stay because they said with the comparative high cost of labor. I can justify that kind of automation. So, it's a combination.

VAUSE: It's too long, the jobs, gone for such an extended period of time, it's not practical. Is that what you're saying?

[01:45:16] SHIH: Well, it's possible. Because if you think about when a lot of these jobs moved offshore to China, for example, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when these jobs were moving into China, China also didn't have the skill base or the supplier base. But they did a good job of encouraging suppliers to move in. That was what they called localizing the supply chain. They got a lot of people to move in. That was a slow process. I'd say it took them ten plus years to really, for example, move the supply base for electronics manufacturing into China. Could you move it back to the U.S.? Sure you could. But the circumstances are a little different now. Could you do it? It would take time. It would be expensive. It is not as easy as the move into China in the beginning of the 2000s.

VAUSE: Quickly, long term here, can the U.S. be competitive in the long run with these many countries say in Asia where they work many long hours, much longer than in the United States for much lower wages?

SHIH: Well, just to be clear, I mean, I think the U.S. is very competitive in some areas. In areas where we have lost that, which is primarily in electronics and a lot of tech products where originally the Chinese advantage was low cost assembly labor. Those are going to be tough. But there are many sectors, for example, aerospace, commercial aerospace, the U.S. is very strong. Even to the point of playing important parts in Airbus's supply chain. We manufacture a lot of components in the U.S., which go into Airbus and Boeing. Aerospace is very strong. Biologic pharmaceuticals, bio- pharmaceuticals, some types of instruments, and precision equipment, also in automotive. The U.S. is quite strong. If you look at the arc from South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, up through Ohio, Indiana, there's actually been a lot of growth in automotive, in power generation. So the U.S. does have some strong areas, but there are a lot of areas that will be very tough to bring some of that manufacturing back.

VAUSE: Usually things are never as easy as they seem. There's a lot of nuance and complications. (CROSSTALK)

SHIH: Yeah.

VAUSE: Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

SHIH: Thank you for having me.

SOARES: Now it could take us millions of years to get there, but astronomers are excited about newly found planets that could help ansswer the question, are we alone. One of my favorite stories of the day. We'll bring you that story after the break.



[01:50:08] SOARES: Astronomers say they've found seven planets that could potentially harbor life. They're orbiting a star 14 lights years away from us, which it isn't too far in this grand scheme of things.

VAUSE: Almost around the corner. Three of the planets are in the habitable zone, the area around where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. And water is the key to life as we know it.

SOARES: So what does this all mean?

Leroy Chiao is a retired NASA astronaut and joins us from Houston, Texas.

Leroy, thank you for taking time to speak to us on the show.

I was watching the NASA press conference and you could tell how excited everyone was by this discovery. Having said that, discovering planets is not so uncommon. What is so special about these?

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, there is something called the Goldilocks Zone. Not too cold, not too hot. The star, which as you said is relatively close, only about 40 light years away, still pretty far by earth standards. There are seven planets and at least three of them appear to be in the Goldilocks Zone. There is the possibility that water exists and that the building blocks of life are there as well. It is a bit premature to say there might be life there but it is an exciting discovery. Kind of in our own backyard.

SOARES: What would you say the next phase of research here? What choose will science be looking for to figure out whether these planets are indeed habitable in.

CHIAO: So NASA and other space agencies will be using their telescopes including the Hubble space telescope, like James Webb will be aiming their telescopes there. And by looking at the light coming from these planets, we'll be able to determine a lot about the kept composition of the atmosphere including whether or not there is the presence of water and other building blocks like oxygen, carbon dioxide and other compounds like that. That will give as you as to whether or not there could be life there. There won't be a definitive answer until we send a probe there. And that's quite a long way away.

SOARES: Let me get my producer to bring up that video of what it could look like of what could it look like inside. We're looking at the surface. We're getting a 360 view here.

What are the chances of us actually exploring these planets?

CHIAO: Well, there would have to be some big break throughs in propulsions. Even if it was traveling at the speed of light, it would take 40 years to get there. And then the radio signal would take another 40 years. So it would be 80 years before we got any indication back and that assumes we could travel at the speed of light which we cannot. So it would take a big break through to get a spacecraft there in a reasonable amount of time.

[01:55:15] SOARES: I suppose the question is why did it take so long to discover these, Leroy?

CHIAO: Well, the star, even 40 light years is pretty far away. The Hubble space telescope and others can look even farther. The fact is, it is a big sky. So it took a while to get instruments that were sensitive enough and to look in the right direction to see these planets. The way you detect them is that you're watching for very faint changes in the height from the star caused by these planets orbiting in front. It takes a while to tease data out and to see what you're looking at and to make this announcement, to have the confidence to do that.

SOARES: 39 light years away. That's 350 trillion kilometers.

Leroy Chiao, always great to get your perspective. Thank you very much, sir.

CHIAO: My pleasure. Thank you.

SOARES: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares, in London.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause, in Los Angeles.

Stay with us. We'll be back with more news after a short break.


[02:00:13] VAUSE: Great to have you with us.