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Interview with Senator Ed Markey; Trump Touts Possible Immigration Reform During Speech; Trump Pays Tribute to Fallen Navy Seal; Dow Tops 21,000 for the First Time; Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Did not talk about a path to legalization last night when he was speaking before Congress. But he specifically did mention it to the television anchors. It is something he discussed.


BERMAN: He even offered the possibility of citizenship for Dreamers. That aside, I guess we do want to know, if he does propose a path to legalization, is that something you would be willing to work with him on?

SEN. ED MARKEY (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Of course we want a pathway to legalization. The Democrats have had that on the table for more than a decade, and it has just been rejected out of hand by the right-wing Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives. So unless there's a fundamental change in Republicans at the congressional level, then the likelihood of anything that's truly comprehensive, not just Dreamers, there are 11 million immigrants in our country, there's only 750,000 of them who are Dreamers.

There has to be something that is much more broad that is put on the table. We haven't heard that from the president at all. Talking about Dreamers is one thing. Talking about all 11 million, giving them a pathway to citizenship, except for the criminals, except for the drug dealers, is something that we would await the details.

HARLOW: All right. We've got to wrap up. But I just want to know, did you leave the speech last night more encouraged or lessen encouraged or exactly the same in terms of your feeling about working with the president?

MARKEY: Well, again, the words are fine, but it's actions that really matter. That's the difference. And we haven't actually seen any actions that accompany the words that he used last night. And if he just continues on today talking about more nuclear weapons and cutting social programs, and again, that's health care, education, environmental protections, then we're just back to where we were on the day before he gave the speech.

It's all up to him. Words are not as important as actions. Let's see what he now does. Let's see what he says to the Republican Party about immigration, about all of the rest of the specifics. But the destruction of the Affordable Care Act is not a trivial difference between our parties. The privatization of education in our country, taking funding away from public schools, that is not a trivial difference.

And if that's really what he intends on doing, using the platitudes of a speech that he's giving to the public to kind of cover up the radical right agenda which the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate want to implement, then there's really no meaningful change from his campaign.

BERMAN: And we will be looking for that action, and we will press him for specifics. Coming up, one thing we do want to note, Senator, as we say good-bye to you, the stock market seemed to like it -- like the speech.

HARLOW: Yes, look at that.

BERMAN: You can see right now. The Dow opened up -- it's actually up more than 200 points for a brief time, now up 187. Investors seem to like the idea. Maybe things will be calming down.

Senator Ed Markey, it's --


BERMAN: Go ahead.

MARKEY: Can I say this, the stock market -- the stock market loves big tax cuts for rich people and corporations and cuts for poor people. But at the end of the day, if you're judging upon some young stock broker in the well of the New York Stock Exchange right now to be a predictor of the future of our economy, then that's a very dangerous place for people to be investing in the market.

HARLOW: A fair point, Senator. Half of Americans don't have a cent in the stock market.

MARKEY: Exactly.

HARLOW: But it's a reflection of the sentiment and the confidence of companies, generally does result in hiring and jobs.

Senator, we will have you back.

MARKEY: Irrational optimism has been a disease which has affected our economy every single 10 years for the last generation.

BERMAN: I hate to be the senator's investment adviser right now. Must be a tough, tough customer.

Ed Markey, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, thanks so much for being with us, Senator.

HARLOW: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Donald Trump's numbers when he talks about the jobs market. The number he used, 94 million people out of the jobs market. That is actually a very misleading, you might even say ridiculous number. We'll tell you why.


[09:38:12] HARLOW: All right. Potentially a major shift from the president on immigration. Hours before his speech last night, he signaled that he is open to compromising on a reform bill that could provide a route to legal status for millions of immigrants, undocumented immigrants in this country right now. He said that to reporters at this lunch yesterday. And then here's what he said last night to America.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible if we are guided by the well- being of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has alluded our country for decades.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, an advocacy group which promotes conservative values and ideals within the Latino community. He's also the former chief of U.S. Office of Citizenship under George W. Bush, and has had a complicated back and forth relationship with the president during the campaign, supported him, didn't support him, did support him.

Right now who knows? We'll get to that in just a moment, Alfonso. Let me start with this idea. The president opened the door all of a sudden.


BERMAN: Yesterday to a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Is that something you support?

ALFONSO AGUILAR, PRESIDENT, LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES: Absolutely. I'm extremely excited about what he's told news anchors in the afternoon yesterday and he echoed that I think during the joint address to congress, saying that he'd like to find compromise on immigration reform. And I've always said that the only way we can get this done is if we have bipartisan support in Congress for immigration reform. And his predecessors, President Bush who I worked with, and President Barack Obama were not able to bring Republicans and Democrats together.

[09:40:08] Ironically, Donald Trump may be in a position to negotiate that deal because of his support within the conservative base, but also his ability to negotiate. So ironically the person who people maligned as being anti-immigrant may be the one who can actually negotiate some deal that could bring undocumented immigrants, those who have no criminal record, out of the shadows.

HARLOW: Yes. So it's interesting. I mean, we were talking earlier about the irony that if he's the one to get it done, right, an immigration deal done, the guy who when he announced his presidency called some Mexicans -- you know, well, I don't have to repeat what he said about them, but we all know what I'm talking about.

Can you do this at the same time, though, and appease that side of America while also building the border wall that he's talked so much about? He doubled down on it again last night and said we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along the southern border. Can he do and chew at the same at the same time and then appeal to two different factions?

AGUILAR: Absolutely. I think that's precisely why he could do it because there's no question that he's tough on enforcement. Barack Obama kept saying that he was for comprehensive reform, whatever that meant to him. But he was very soft on enforcement and on border security. He is building trust with the American people. He is for fencing, which I've always supported, building a wall structure along parts of the border, stepping up enforcement internally to deport people with criminal records.

But once you do that, you build a trust that you can address those who are here who don't pose a threat to the security of our communities and say, you know, let's bring them out of the shadows, let them pay back taxes, pay a fine, and then let's make sure they're part of our community.

Now that may be -- the way to do it could be that you provide the path to legal status short of citizenship. And that's where Democrats really have to be willing to play ball. If they say there's no special path to citizenship, we're just not going to work with the president, then I think it will show that Democrats are playing politics with the issue.

I think it was a call to work in a bipartisan way. I'm encouraged by that. And, you know, I've said that since he won the White House, everything he said about immigration I think has been encouraging. And he's totally consistent with the other enforcement measures he's putting forward.

BERMAN: All right. Let's talk about one of the measures he's putting forward right now. He called it VOICE, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. He says he's opening up a whole new office inside Homeland Security just to address the issue of crime among immigrants. And the thing is, you know, if you look at the numbers, crime inside the undocumented immigrant community is actually lower in some cases than the overall community. 2010 8.6 percent of adult Americans have been convicted of a felony. And according to ICE, the number of deported immigrants who were convicted of crime make up 1.24 percent. So is it really necessary?

AGUILAR: Well, that's a very good question. And needless to say, I don't agree with Mr. Trump on every single issue when it comes to immigration --

BERMAN: Is that a no? Is that a no? AGUILAR: Yes, that is definitely a no. I think the majority of

undocumented immigrants are good hard working people. A small minority, and you're absolutely right, smaller than those in the general population engage in criminal activity. So it is blown out of proportion. I don't know -- I think this office is just going to keep statistics and things like that. But I think if they do the research they'll realize that the majority of undocumented immigrants are really not involved in criminal activity.

HARLOW: All right. Alfonso Aguilar, thank you. We appreciate it, nice to have you on.

Still to come for us, you heard the moment last night the president talked about that raid in Yemen. He said it gathered vital intelligence. This as he honored the Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens who died in all of that.

We're going to talk to Barbara Starr to get a fact check, a reality check on what we know about what intelligence was actually gathered in that mission. Stay with us.


[09:48:44] BERMAN: One of the truly indelible moments of the president's speech was when he honored the wife of former Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, killed in a raid last month in Yemen.

Now the White House has been very defensive about this mission. And last night the president called it highly successful.


TRUMP: I just spoke to our great General Mattis, just now, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, "Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy."


HARLOW: Our Barbara Starr joins us this morning from the Pentagon. And there was that moment that none of us will forget, the honoring of Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens' widow and him for his service to this country, but then the president saying no question about how successful this mission was. What do we actually know about that?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think it all starts with remembering this young woman widowed just 30 days ago or so. And the -- from the military family point of view, certainly a very tragic event, not a good outcome for that family. But that's a separate question, as I think any military commander would candidly tell you, from the question of the raid itself and the objectives it achieved.

[09:50:10] By all accounts they were going in looking for intelligence about Al Qaeda in Yemen. And a senior U.S. official said they got that intelligence, that they got information, documents about this al Qaeda group's efforts to target what they might be targeting, how they're training operatives, their explosive manufacturing techniques, how they're recruiting. And all of this may in fact lead them to additional targets down the road. That's really unknowable yet. Will you be able to take the intelligence you got on this raid and turn it into something so specific, so fine-grained you can conduct future raids. They certainly hope so.

And it's worth remembering why Yemen is so vital in the counterterrorism fight. The al Qaeda group that exists in Yemen has done a number of things that are of great concern. They have been able to reach out overseas and touch. They are said to be responsible for the "Charlie Hebdo" attack in Paris several months back. They also have perfected essentially nonmetallic explosive devices, devices that can get past airport security. And they have a very declared objective of trying to get a bomb on an airplane.

It's one of the reasons that there's this expanded effort to try and go after them, one of the reasons why they are so dangerous.

BERMAN: All right. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon, thanks so much.

HARLOW: And coming up, have you looked at the stock market this morning? You may want to. A record high. We're going to talk about that with our Christine Romans. Look at that, Dow up over 200 points, folks. This is the highest we have ever seen it. That's next.


[09:56:03] HARLOW: All right. Breaking news. Have you looked at the market this morning? A record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has topped 21,000 for the first time ever, up 226 points right now off the open.

Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent, here with more. Wow, this market likes this president.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really does. JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Caterpillar, these are the kind of stocks that are doing well today, and you can see why. And you can see why. He has promised to cut taxes for these companies, to lower their tax bill. He's promised to roll back and kill regulations. He's probably going to roll back a lot of regulations for some of these banks. And so that's what they really like to see.

There's Wall Street and there's main street, and what I can tell you that since this election, Wall Street has soared some 10 percent. 2500 plus points for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. So the Wall Street -- what used to be derided as fat cats, they're even fatter today. Will that roll down to main street? That's the question once politics start coming.

BERMAN: I'm glad we could share this 21,000 moment with you.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: I'm glad we shared with you.


BERMAN: One number that no one likes because it's not a true number, it is a misleading number, is the number the president keeps on using for people not in the labor force. Listen to what he said about that last night.


TRUMP: Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited. 94 million Americans are out of the labor force.


ROMANS: "We must honestly acknowledge." There are 95 million people not in the labor force. But he's counting stay-at-home parents. He is counting retirees.

BERMAN: Your grandma.

ROMANS: He's counting my grandma. I would say, My grandma is not going to go back in the labor force. My parents aren't either, frankly. So, you know, he's counting everybody who is not working. Students, people who are in vocational training, people who are in disability.

HARLOW: Every stay-at-home mom or dad.

ROMANS: Every stay-at-home mom or dad. The interesting thing, when you look at caretakers -- those are all those numbers. The 94 million includes people who are not going to go back into the labor force. The people who are caretakers, that's an interesting number to me, that 13 million. That's been rising in part I think because we haven't done a very good job in this country of making childcare and elder care affordable. So that's part of the issue there. And there are people who by choice are deciding they want to be home with their families. We have children, we know that people make this choice all the time. So those are the adults not in the labor force.

He's misleading the public, I think, when he goes back to that number again and again. He's exaggerating the weakness in the labor market.

HARLOW: So the question becomes to what end? What policy is he trying to push that this number helps --

BERMAN: Well, I don't think it's a policy, I think he's trying to say things that are horrible.

HARLOW: He knows by now that's not the number.

BERMAN: And he's exaggerating. He's exaggerating what's --

ROMANS: He's exaggerating that -- he is. And because look, it worked for him in the election, right? If he can keep going back and mine those bad feelings about the labor market. You know, eight years after the big recession, the last time a president was coming in and giving this joint address, you know, when it wasn't a State of the Union address, we're losing 700,000 jobs every month. People remember that. They don't feel confident. And he's playing into that feeling.

BERMAN: How many people are out of work who want to work?

ROMANS: OK. So we have 5.5 million people who looked in the past year but -- and want a job. You know, 7.6 million looked in the last month. We're talking about 12 million people, maybe. But still, that's an underemployment rate of maybe 9.4 percent, sounds high but it's half what it was.

BERMAN: And I'm bad at math. But 12 million is less than 94 million.

ROMANS: Twelve million is a lot less than 94 million. An awful lot less. And look, the market is getting better. I'm surprised -- and I'm sure actually that the CEOs that he's been talking to at these round tables have been telling him, Mr. President, we're having trouble finding skilled labor.


ROMANS: So there is a mismatch. There are 300,000 manufacturing jobs open today that could be filled.


ROMANS: Today, they could be filled. We just have to figure out how to match the labor we have, train the labor we have, and get companies and people aligned.

HARLOW: Remember when we were sitting on the set talking about the Dow's success?

ROMANS: Oh my gosh. Dow 6,000, Dow 21,000.

HARLOW: There you go.

ROMANS: Amazing.

HARLOW: Amazing. Christine, thank you.


HARLOW: All right. Next hour of NEWSROOM begins right now.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us. Well, what a night.

Today the White House this morning basking in the glow of the president's pretty well-received address by many in the Congress. Polls showing that the majority of Americans who watched it liked it.