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Trump Rescinds Protections For Transgender Students; Sources: DeVos Opposed Undoing Transgender Protections; Angry Crowds Pack GOP Town Halls Across America; President Trump To Meet With Manufacturing CEOs Today. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 23, 2017 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:31:15] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: This developing story now. The Trump administration's decision to rescind federal protections for transgender students that were put in place by President Obama is getting strong reaction on both sides, so let's discuss it.

We have CNN political commentator Ana Navarro. We have CNN political commentator Kayleigh McEnany, contributor to "The Hill." And, Christine Quinn, former New York City Council speaker and president of Women in Need. Ladies, thank you all for being here.

Christine, let me start with you. What do you think about the Trump administration's motivation and timing of taking away these federal protections for transgender students?

CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER NYC CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER, PRESIDENT, WOMEN IN NEED: Well, first of all, I think the entire action is cruel. Transgender students have a much higher rate of suicide and attempted suicide than other children and other students do. Why, after -- really, in my opinion, the only positive thing he ever said on the campaign trail was, basically, that he was not going to touch the LGBT community's rights.

Why single out transgender students, some of the most vulnerable Americans in the country? There is no other way to describe this than cruel and attacking, particularly children. I don't understand the motivation. Even if you don't believe in the rights of the LGBT community, why would you focus on hurting children who are suffering? It has been documented and people may or may not want to argue Title IX and whether it covers it or not, and that's a legal decision -- discussion -- but this is about human beings -- children.

CAMEROTA: Kayleigh, why, on day 32 of the new presidency, did the Trump administration feel the need to do this?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE HILL", CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST, ABOVE THE LAW: Because it is -- it has nothing to do with hurting children. Look, I agree with President Trump entirely when he said he doesn't mind if Kaitlyn Jenner uses the same restroom as him. I don't mind that either. However, President Trump believes that this is a state's issue that should be taken up by the states.

And also he, I assume, is taking into consideration the rights of women. There were a group of sexual assault victims who came out in Seattle against the Washington transgender law, saying that we're not worried about transgender individuals coming into our bathroom. However, we are worried about men coming into the bathroom and taking advantage of this law. And, in fact, they were right. When a man walked into a locker room in the Seattle Parks and Services and undressed in front of little girls who were changing before swim practice.

QUINN: But that wasn't --

CAMEROTA: Which is why we should elect separate, right? I mean --

QUINN: No, that's not a trans -- let's be clear here. That's not a transgender man who walked in there.

MCENANY: And that's why I say it's not about transgender --

QUINN: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

MCENANY: -- individuals. It's about people taking --

QUINN: Wait.

MCENANY: -- advantage of it.

QUINN: Wait. People who are rapists and sexual predators take care of any loophole at any moment they can. They'll tragically attack children on the street. Come up behind women on the street.

CAMEROTA: You just --

QUINN: This isn't about sexual predators. It is about equality for transgender students, and states' rights is always what people who are attempting to discriminate fall back on --

MCENANY: Christine, you just made a --

QUINN: -- and we're not -- no, I --

MCENANY: You just made the case.

QUINN: No, I did not.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hold on, can I make a point?

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: You just made the case for exactly why this law needs to be looked at hesitantly because as you just said, sexual predators will take advantage of any law, which is why we have to treat this with care.

CAMEROTA: But, Kayleigh, does that one incident that you're referring to of somebody who was interested in exposing himself or a sexual assault -- does that eclipse the protections that teenagers in high schools felt that they had? QUINN: And if you -- and if you follow that --

CAMEROTA: Go ahead and answer that, Kayleigh.

QUINN: -- school of thought you would block people of --

MCENANY: It's more --

QUINN: -- different genders from anyplace --

[07:35:00] MCENANY: It's more than one. Look at the facts when Target put this policy into place. There were multiple cases of voyeurism.

QUINN: That's not true.

MCENANY: You can find there are at least 21 incidences --

QUINN: That is not true.

MCENANY: -- of crimes that people took advantage of the law and preyed on women.

CAMEROTA: OK, OK, let me bring in Ana Navarro.

QUINN: And that is not a fact.

CAMEROTA: Ana, what do you think?

NAVARRO: Look, I think -- frankly, it hurts me to hear the words sexual predator used in the midst of this discussion. Transgender people are just like me and you.

MCENANY: I didn't call transgender --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: I am a -- I'm a Republican. OK, can I please finish?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

NAVARRO: I'm a Republican. I am 100 percent in favor of LGBTQ rights. I think they have the same exact rights that I do to love, to marry, to live, to live in liberty, and to piss, as I do, wherever they want and wherever they feel it.

I actually have friends who are transgender. In fact, one of his -- one of them -- his name is Rodrigo Lehtinen. He also happens to be the son of the Republican congresswoman from my district. I asked him yesterday, how do you feel about this? He said it's a clear message from the White House that they don't have the back of LGBTQ youth, particularly not transgender, the most frail amongst us. It's very difficult to be a teenager in any event.

QUINN: Right. NAVARRO: Look, I would -- I would encourage President Trump to speak to Jackie Evancho, the young woman who sang at his inaugural who's got a transgender sister and tweeted him yesterday asking for a meeting. To meet with Rodrigo Lehtinen, the son of Congresswoman Ileana Ros- Lehtinen. Ask them what the solution should be. Ask them how to go about it. And let's not -- let's not start talking sexual deviants --

QUINN: Right.

NAVARRO: -- and predators. Sexuality does not equal morality. They're completely different situations, completely different conversations.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

NAVARRO: It is unfair to target these kids who are already bullied, who are already so fragile, with such words and such discussion.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: I want to quickly correct the record because you took me out of context entirely. I said transgender individuals.

NAVARRO: Kayleigh --

MCENANY: I am not worried about them preying on women. I am worried about men taking advantage of this. Straight men coming in and preying on women, which has happened multiple times at Target. You have to consider the rights of sexual assault victims who have come out --

NAVARRO: You always make this argument. You know, we talk about immigration, you find the most horrific case about a criminal, you know, and you try to paint it with a broad brushstroke. We're talking about transgender youth and you find some horrific --

QUINN: Right.

NAVARRO: -- case involving a sexual predator --

MCENANY: There are many.

NAVARRO: -- not a transgender.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: But they have been -- hold on. But they've been attacking people with or without transgender --

QUINN: Correct. I mean --

CAMEROTA: Sexual predators will find -- as you say, will find any excuse. So it does feel like you're introducing that level of sexual deviance into this but, really, this is a conversation about whether or not these laws do protect transgender kids. QUINN: And wait, I want to -- wait, I want to jump in for a second because Kayleigh, you do this repeatedly, as do other Trump supporters. You don't say -- you say something, imply something, and say you're not saying it. We're talking about transgender children today. You're a lawyer. If you want to debate Title IX we can have that debate. But you, as Ana said, bring up sexual predators, so people will leave this segment and they'll have heard two things, transgenders -- and you do it --

MCENANY: No, Christine.

QUINN: -- and the Trump supporters do it to create smokescreens, to substantiate and validate their discrimination, and we need to call --

CAMEROTA: Christine --

QUINN: -- the Trump supporters on it.

CAMEROTA: Christine --

QUINN: It's pivot, pivot, pivot, and it's discrimination.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Kayleigh.

MCENANY: No, Christine. When I categorically began this segment saying I have no problem with Kaitlin Jenner using the same restroom as me, and you're saying that I was --

QUINN: Kaitlin Jenner will be fine.

MCENANY: Wait, please, I let you speak. I categorically said I do not mind if a transgender person uses the restroom with me. However, we have to be considerate of young women who had to see a man take advantage of the law in Washington and come into this bathroom --

CAMEROTA: Do you think that's what's happening more than that transgender teenagers feel protected?

MCENANY: This is why states should settle the issue because states are the laboratories for experimentation. Some states might adopt this law.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

MCENANY: Great, let's see how it works out. Some states might not.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

MCENANY: They are the laboratories for experimentation.

CAMEROTA: OK, I want to bring up Betsy DeVos.

QUINN: This is unnecessary.

CAMEROTA: Betsy DeVos -- hold on one second, Christine, because Betsy DeVos is -- it's very interesting reporting that CNN has about Betsy DeVos' reaction to this. The new Secretary of Education, Ana, we understand from our sources, did not want the Trump administration to do this and to rollback these protections.

And she made her feelings known to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and, basically, our reporting suggests that she was told get on board or -- and to the president -- get on board or basically get out. You can resign but this is what your department -- the Department of Education -- this is the directive that will be coming from your department. And, in fact, she got on board. So that sounds as though there's even some dissent within the White House about this program, Ana.

[07:40:00] NAVARRO: Well, I mean, I could see where Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos would have completely different philosophies and ideologies on an issue like this. I would say to Betsy DeVos, girlfriend, you went through a really, really tough time getting yourself nominated, appointed, and confirmed. Find your voice and use it. You are a billionaire. You don't need to put up with this.

You -- you know, if you're going to do this, do it because of conviction, do it because of principle. Follow your heart, follow your conscience, and speak up. We need to hear diversity of opinions in a place like the cabinet room. I think it sets a very dangerous precedent for the increasing power of Jeff Sessions. And if they ran over her this time and she didn't speak, if she doesn't find her spine and stand up straight, that woman's going to have railroad tracks all over her before the next four years.

CAMEROTA: Kayleigh -- and just one thing. Kayleigh, you're going to be speaking to Betsy DeVos today. You're going to CPAC (audio gap) might come up.

MCENANY: Look, this is the beauty of the Trump administration. He allows people to have their own opinion. She voiced, you know, some --

CAMEROTA: But does he? I mean, it sounds like that they did tell her get on board or get out.

MCENANY: But look, she put out a statement that might hint at disagreement.

CAMEROTA: I have it right here. Let me read it. "We have a responsibility," she says, "to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment." That does sound like strong language but then she says, "This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individuals, school, district, or state can abdicate." But yet, the protections are rolled back.

QUINN: Right.

MCENANY: Look, it can be interpreted in two ways. Either she disagrees or she's just reaffirming we do have discrimination laws in place. LGBT people are protected in this country. Let's leave it to the states. But I think that's the beauty of the Trump administration. She's allowed to put out a statement, she's allowed to express her opinion, and he's fully accepting of that.

QUINN: I just want to make sure --

CAMEROTA: Very quickly.

QUINN: -- that, Kayleigh, you just said LGBT people are protected in this country. There is no federal law that prevents discrimination in housing, employment, or public accommodation for LGBT people. So remember, these children are not protected. LGBT people have no federal protection of that level.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for making that point. Kayleigh, Christine, Ana, thank you very much for having --

QUINN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- this debate.

QUINN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Down to Atlanta and Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You really got to the main issue. We're going to see it play out in the Supreme Court case, Alisyn -- the Grimm case. State-by-state equality is that anathema to what equal protect is all about under the constitution. Great discussion.

Voter anger once again on display at town halls across America. We're going to hear from two people who confronted their congressmen. Are they AstroTurf? Are they legit? Hear from them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Republican lawmakers continue to feel the heat at town halls across the country from furious voters who are demanding different behaviors. Here's your choice.

[07:45:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is what you're doing. Let me tell you something (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could tell you three members of my family, including me, that would be dead -- dead and homeless if it was not for ACA.(Applause) I am an angry constituent. You work for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The choice is, as a lawmaker do you show up for this and who will you be facing? Joining us now are two of the people that were facing lawmakers. Rose Mudd Perkins -- she attended a town hall in Kentucky for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now famous for saying, if you answer this I'll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren. And, Sanjay Rajput. He attended a town hall for Virginia Congressman Dave Brat. First things first. Sanjay, did I get your last name right? SANJAY RAJPUT, ATTENDED DAVE BRAT TOWN HALL: Yes, you did, Chris, thanks.

CUOMO: Beautiful, thank you, then the rest of this is gravy for me. Let's talk about who you two are and let's address the skepticism. Rose, you were so passionate you must have been a plant. You were paid to be there, you're an organizer.

ROSE MUDD PERKINS, ATTENDED MITCH MCCONNELL TOWN HALL: No.

CUOMO: You're from an outside constituency and you're going there to make Republicans look bad, but you're fake.

PERKINS: Well -- (laughing).

CUOMO: That's the criticism. What's your response?

PERKINS: Well, you know what? I must be -- I must be a complete sucker becauseI'm not getting paid. If there are people getting paid to do this, somebody hire me. I need a job. I would love to be paid to do this. But no, that's not happening. Yes, I'm not going to the mailbox and picking up the checks.

CUOMO: And, you know, Rose --

PERKINS: It's made up --

CUOMO: -- we were looking at your town hall. Sanjay, we were looking at yours and others as well. You know what I don't see? I don't see people -- look, I've been to tons of different protests and, you know, comings together where there is an insurgent aspect to it and you'll see the organic aspect turn on the insurgent aspect and say wait, you're not from here, you don't speak for me, who are you, you're from outside. I'm not seeing that in these town halls.

PERKINS: No.

CUOMO: What has been your experience, Sanjay?

PERKINS: Well, I --

CUOMO: Hold on. Let's bring -- Rose, let's bring Sanjay in -- Sanjay.

RAJPUT: So my experience has been -- I'm not a paid protester either and I'd like to personally apologize to members of the Tea Party who, back when they started rising between 2008 and 2010, I accused them of being AstroTurf and paid. I'm just an engineer. I work in the manufacturing sector, a nine to five job Monday to Friday, and I wanted to make my voice heard. And the only way I knew to do that was to go to a town hall for my congressman. And, you know, I met somebody at the town hall who lived on the same street as me. I'm not a member of any organized organization, I'm a Democrat, so --

CUOMO: All right. And, Rose, when you went there you stared Mitch McConnell in the face. What did you see staring back at you? PERKINS: Dollar signs in his eyes and apathy. He just -- he's lost his way. He's outlived his usefulness. He's not doing anything for us, you know. And there's a lot of -- there's so many lies, you know. I felt like when I saw the video of myself I was so stunned at the way I was screaming. I didn't even realize I was doing it. But I wish what they had shown -- I wish they had shown his remarks before I laid into him because I did not go there intending to say any of what I said. I had a completely --

CUOMO: What did he say that got -- that ticked you off?

PERKINS: It was a bunch of bull manure.

CUOMO: Easy. What was it in substance?

PERKINS: Exactly. He talked about coal jobs -- and I'm not -- there's more insinuation than outright lies but that's how they got the votes, is making these people think that those coal jobs were coming back. And when I sat there and listened to him be untruthful for -- I don't know how long he spoke -- 10, 15 minutes, whatever -- it went through me. It just went through me.

I am so sick of this culture of untruthfulness and -- you know, we know right from wrong. We all grew up knowing what I lie is and what the truth is. And we've got so many of these polecat politicians telling us things that just aren't true. He was sitting there looking in a room of educated people -- and we knew the truth -- and they're sitting there nodding their heads going along with it.

CUOMO: Well, but why were they nodding, though, Rose, you know? I mean, you couldn't vote in the Democratic Party in Kentucky but, you know, Mitch McConnell won handily many times. He has earned his senior position and, you know, even when we look at the poll numbers for the president there is a perception that he's unpopular but within his party he has over 80 percent recognition. And maybe in that room, while there are angry Democrats -- I'm not discounting that -- but the people who put him in there -- let's get Rose back and we'll talk to her about that.

[07:50:15] Sanjay, same question to you. The peoplewho put McConnell in that room, the people who put Brat in that room with you, they are not as angry as you are and they voted him in and that's how the process works.

RAJPUT: That's true. He won fair and square and he's gone around the -- at least he's been quoted many times as saying that we're getting in his grill (ph). There's paid protesters coming after him. What I think he doesn't realize is that there ae people like me in his district. We're his constituents as well. He needs to represent us.

So, when he went after Eric Cantor in his primary in 2010, and he went after him because he had said he had lost touch with his district. Well, Dave Brat didn't even debate his Democratic opponent in 2016. So, yes, he was elected. He won fair and square. But if you look at the popular vote overall around the country it doesn't give the representatives a mandate to govern from the hard right. So, I'm willing to admit that our side didn't win by the rule as they

were laid out, but it doesn't mean that you have a mandate to govern from the right. It means that you still need to listen to those of us who voted in the majority against what you were initially running on. You have to represent your constituents but you have to listen to all of your constituents and you can't tack all the way to the right. We're not a far-right country, at best. You know, maybe at the time we're in now we may be center-right but there's still a lot of us who are wanting to pull it over center-left.

CUOMO: Well, look, there's a pendulum that goes back and forth in our elections -- we've all lived it. But now, Sanjay, what we have to do is see where we go heading forward and we like having sets of ears like yours all over the country. We'll check back with you as we start hearing more policy appraisals and you come back on and let us know how you're feeling and the people in your district are feeling. And our thanks to Rose Mudd Perkins as well. We lost her feed but not her passion and you saw what she did at that town hall and you're going to see it all over the internet for days to come, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We sure are and we're going to be speaking to lawmakers about what they've been confronting as well. Chris, thank you very much.

So, on President Trump's agenda today, listening to business CEOs. We're going to look at what he has already done and what's ahead in his business plan. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: All right, it's time for CNN Money Now. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with me.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Christine, I understand the Dow is --

ROMANS: Oh, my gosh.

CAMEROTA: -- like gangbusters.

ROMANS: An incredible nine-day winning streak now, nine days. What makes it even more impressive, Alisyn, all of these are record highs. Nine all-time highs in a row. The last time that happened, January 1987 when the market hit 12 straight records. And, of course, what happened in 1987? It crashed later that year. We could see 10 in a row later today in terms of records. Futures are ticking higher right now. Stock markets in Europe and Asia are mixed.

[07:55:00] Two big stories this morning for investors. One, the Fed is getting ready to hike interest rates and two, tax cuts are coming. Now the big question for both of those storylines, when do they happen? The Fed says fairly soon in terms of rate hikes. That could mean March or May. The Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, just said in an interview on CNBC the administration hoping to get tax reform done by August. So if all that goes as planned the stock market could continue that rally. You wouldn't have to see a repeat of 1987.

CAMEROTA: I hope not. I mean, I hope this isn't the precursor to something like that.

ROMANS: No. You look at what the expectations for growth and pro- growth policies are. That's been fueling the stock market and people want to see that now come to fruition.

CAMEROTA: Got it. Christine, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you here. All right, let's go to Atlanta and Chris.

CUOMO: Mnuchin said August on tax reform. He said they're shooting for three percent growth. The president has said four, five, six percent growth. What is real? We'll get into it.

President Trump is also holding a listening session with manufacturing CEOs today. Remember, he promised to be the best president for jobs ever and has already signaled a more permissive business climate. What does that mean? Why is it good for you?

Let's talk about it. We've got Stephen Moore, senior economic analyst and chief economist at The Heritage Foundation. He was senior economic adviser for the Trump campaign. He's got great insight on this. We also have Anthony Chan, managing director and chief economist at Chase. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Let's start with the headline that we got from Steve Mnuchin -- August. Now, that sounds -- all right good, good, we're going to see it in August. It sounds like a long time to others. I know you're frustrated by the process here with taxes. Why and what should be happening?

STEPHEN MOORE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION, FORMER SENOR ECONOMIC ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I think we should move much faster. I think this could be done in 100 days. I think the economy needs the pick- me-up.

I have no doubt, by the way, that if we get this tax cut done, especially, Chris, those lower business taxes -- as you know, we have the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. It's leading to companies leaving the United States -- Burger King, Medtronic, Johnson Controls. You get that business tax rate down to, say, 20 percent, I guarantee you a lot of -- that tide is going to reverse and businesses and jobs will come back to the United States. But I want to see it done faster, Chris. I think the markets do, too.

CUOMO: Right, but, you know, remember, the political reality is what we just saw with the travel ban.

MOORE: That's true.

CUOMO: Sometimes haste makes waste. And you've got the Tea Party that are pushing -- that are pushing back very hard and paying for every dollar and, you know, being careful about the deficit and that makes it very hard for tax policy, Steve, so how do deal with that? And also, to the critics out there with business tax, yes, the nominal rate is in the twenties but the -- or even higher -- but the actual rate is much lower than that, so is that a fair appraisal of reality that you're giving and what about the political reality about tax reform?

MOORE: Well Chris, just talk to any business leader, you know, whether it's -- I just had lunch a couple of weeks ago with Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, one of our greatAmerican companies. And he said look, if you do this tax cut and allow companies to bring that capital back home -- that's another part of this, is repatriating capital that's stored overseas at a 10 percent tax rate. He said they -- they're going to bring billions of dollars back to the United States and create more jobs here, so I do think this is going to be a big job creator. I think there's almost universal agreement.

But just one other quick thing, Chris. You have to do this tax cut for the 26 million small businesses as well. Not just the big corporations, the small ones, and that's actually in the Trump plan.

CUOMO: And there's actually been a discussion about why don't small businesses have their own tax treatment? Why do they have to file as individuals? That's something else that goes to the political realities.

Now, Mr. Chan, let's bring you in here. Another place that we're seeing economic realities and what the viability for this economy is play out is with immigration. If you get rid of all these people that are doing lower end parts of the economy jobs, like in our agriculture business and in our hospitality business, what does that do to the chance of hitting a three percent GNP productivity mark that we're hearing from Mnuchin?

ANTHONY CHAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR & CHIEF ECONOMIST, CHASE: Well, I think it's clear that it becomes a little bit of a challenge. I know that we have over 10 million undocumented people in the United States, but we have about seven million that are actually working in the U.S. labor force. And, of course, an interesting academic study was discussed in the media yesterday by Professor Ortega, which estimates that over the next 10 years it has the potential of reducing GDP by as much as $4.7 trillion and reducing the growth rate of GDP or the level of -- between somewhere between 3.5 and as much as four percent.

So, we know that the components of economic growth -- our productivity growth and labor force growth -- and right now, our productivity growth is basically dead in the water. With all the deregulation that's likely to take place and all the productivity- enhancing methods or techniques that the president has proposed, I could see productivity going up to maybe half a percent or maybe even on percent, but that still leaves that population factor that is out of the -- out of the equation.

And so, it's not a question of whether we prefer one ethnic group over another one, but if we get rid of seven million workers we're not going to get that growth.