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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session to Meet with Senators Tomorrow on Russian Contacts; President Trump Called Deflector-In- Chief by Opponents; New York Governor Cuomo Makes Impromptu Visit To Israel; Trump Pushes For Massive Tax Cuts, Big Spending Increases; Candidate Trump Predicted Stock Market Crash If Rates Rise; CNN Correspondent Returns To Mosul. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 5, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:01] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, thanks so much for joining in this Sunday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're following new developments this afternoon. The chairman of the committee investigating Russia's involvement in the election said it also will look into President Trump's unfounded claims that President Obama tapped his phone. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes issuing this statement:

One of the focus points of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation is the U.S. government's response to actions taken by Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign. As such, the committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political parties, campaign officials or surrogates and we will continue to investigate this issue if the evidence warrants it.

CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones is near Mar-a-Lago where President Trump is spending the weekend. Athena, more on this?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred, that's right. After that series of tweets yesterday morning, where the president made unsubstantiated allegations against President Obama, allegations that have been denied by the former president and others, the White House was asked repeatedly by me and all of my colleagues to provide some sort of evidence, some sort of explanation to back up the president's claims. While instead of providing any sort of evidence or proof, we got this statement this morning from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. I will read part of it. He says:

President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.

And now Fred, that statement goes on to say that neither the White House nor the president is going to comment further until that oversight is conducted. And I've got to point out, it's pretty convenient because, as I mentioned, you have the president delivering these unsubstantiated allegations, really explosive allegations, not offering any proof. The White House being pressed repeatedly to offer such proof and then

instead calling for a probe to look into whether there is proof and then conveniently saying they're not going to comment, so they're not going to be answering any further questions about providing evidence. So it's an interesting development here, Fred.

WHITFIELD: It is. And then CNN has confirmed that there were some tense moments at the White House on Friday before the president left for Florida. What can you tell us about what happened behind closed doors?

JONES: Well, this is an interesting bit of context also to those tweets early on Saturday morning because we've learned through the reporting of my colleagues back in Washington that the president has been angry at his team. Angry that he wasn't able to bask in the good reviews from his speech on Tuesday night before joint session of congress and sort of bask in the good headlines instead. The news was soon dominated by this conversation or these meetings that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had with Russia's ambassador.

And so, we have some video, I believe, we're showing now of the president's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, appearing very animated talking to folks in the oval office. And so it sort of shows that the president was angry. We've heard from a senior administration official that he's been angry about several things and this is one of them, his concern that this other news is stepping all over his message.

My colleagues are reporting that there are people who have been leaving meetings in tears and that it's just a very tense time for a lot of staff at the White House, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then, Athena, so you have five tweets from the president yesterday, Saturday morning early hours. President Trump again going after the former President Obama this morning for something he said to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, what was it?

JONES: That's right. Let's read that tweet. Another early morning tweet from President Trump. He said:

Who was it that secretly said to the Russian president, tell Vladimir Putin after the election I will have more flexibility? And then he -- at "Fox & Friends".

So he is referring to a conversation that wasn't at all a secret conversation. It was a conversation captured on a hot mic between President Obama back in 2012 and then outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev. I'm not sure that President --

WHITFIELD: And that was the moment there.

JONES: -- Trump is quoting him exactly there. But he's trying to make the point that he, President Trump, is not the first commander- in-chief, leader of the U.S., to want to improve relationships and improve ties with Russia. But, of course, Fred, that is not the issue here.


JONES: The issue is these constant contacts and this investigation and whether the Trump team had ties and that sort of thing. It isn't just this larger idea of wanting to improve relations with Moscow.

WHITFIELD: Sure. An argument there being very different circumstances, not really good comparisons at all. All right, Athena Jones, thank you so much.

All right. A former senior White House official also disputing the president's claims, telling CNN that they're not aware of wiretaps

[14:05:00] related to a criminal investigation of then-candidate Trump by the U.S. Justice Department that backs up former National Intelligence Director James Clapper's remarks this morning that none of the agencies he oversaw, including the FBI, sought to wiretap Trump.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I will say that for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president- elect at the time or as a candidate or against his campaign. I can't speak for other Title III authorized entities in the government or a state and local entity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just going to say, if the FBI, for instance, had a FISA court order or some sort for a surveillance, would that be information you would know or not know?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would be told this --

CLAPPER: I would know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- if there was a FISA court order --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- on something like this?

CLAPPER: Something like this, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at this point, you can't confirm or deny whether that exists?

CLAPPER: I can deny it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no FISA court order --

CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of anything at Trump Tower?



WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about this with my panel now. I'm joined now by Jack Kingston, a CNN political commentator and former senior adviser for the Trump campaign, Ana Navarro, a CNN political commentator, and Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources." Good to see all of you.

All right. So Ana, you first. The Trump team asking for this investigation by congress saying, by a way of a spokeswoman this morning, congress needs to do its job. Well, now, congress will be moving forward on this, the committee looking into the election will also investigate this claim.

So, could this potentially backfire by revealing more about these meetings between Trump campaign aides and Russians?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, in the short term, it is helping him and that we're not focusing -- being single focused on the Russia collusion ties and all of that investigation. Instead, we are chasing this distraction. I always come at this by thinking that Donald Trump is the master of distraction and disguise and here he is gaslighting.

Again, he is leading us down this path so that we get distracted from focusing on what we've been seeing all of this week, the entire scandal and controversy involving Jeff Sessions and the fact that so many of the people that were involved in his campaign, that are involved in his administration, had meetings that they suddenly can't recall with Russian officials.

That is the crux of this. And I think that we've got to go back to the focus. Look, the charge he's making is very serious. What we've just heard from James Clapper was an extraordinary, specific, unequivocal statement of denial that there was any such wiretapping.

If Donald Trump is doing this because he thinks it's true, then come out with some evidence. If he is doing this to distract us, it is the height of responsibility and will lead to more mistrust of the U.S. government.

WHITFIELD: So Ana, your sentiment is being echoed by some other prominent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. They were asked about these claims this morning on various talk shows. Listen to what was said.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA.: I'm not sure what it is he is talking about. Perhaps the president has information that is not yet available to us or to the public. And if it's true, obviously, we're going to find out very quickly. And if it isn't, then obviously, he' will have to explain what he meant by it. SEN. NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

The president you know is the deflector-in-chief. anything to change the subject from where the heat is. And as one who has been engaged in intelligence, a member of the Gang of Eight for a long time, I can tell you that it's just ridiculous for the president, President Trump, to say that President Obama would ever order any wiretap of an American citizen, any president. That's just not -- we don't do that.


WHITFIELD: So, Jack, distractions that continue to erode at the credibility of the president of the United States?

JACK KINGSTON, TRUMP FORMER SENIOR ADVISER/CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think so. I think if there's any distraction here, it's the Democrat's hair on fire as Paul Ryan calls it, obsession with Russia.

Meanwhile, the Republicans in congress are moving ahead with ACA, immigration reform, infrastructure and tax reform and the Democrats haven't even taken a seat at the table on those very important issues that affect American families.

But here's what we do know. January 19th, "The New York Times" reported that law enforcement had intercepted communication and transactions during the course of their investigation on ties with Russia and the Trump campaign. Well, how would law enforcement have intercepted that if they were not doing some sort of investigation? We do know, for example, in June that the Obama --

WHITFIELD: Well, isn't it common knowledge though within the intel community that a Russian operatives, particularly diplomats, are always surveilled in this country. And so, these transcripts could potentially come from regular surveillance like that?

KINGSTON: Well, they could. And one of the curious things was the President Obama's response

[14:10:00] was the president-then personally (ph) -- if you read his response it was very nuisance --

WHITFIELD: Well, did it order any on U.S. citizens? That's a distinction.

KINGSTON: But it was very nuisance and it was very legalistic in his response. And then if we just heard James Clapper right, he said there could've been other Title III agencies in the government doing something so I don't know exactly what that means but we do know that the administration tried in June to get a FISA request, that was declined. And we do know in October there was one.

So I think there's something here. And what the president is saying is just like Claire McCaskill said she never met with the Russian ambassador. Then we find two tweets, we see photos of other Democrats meeting with the ambassador and yet they forgot. And so what Trump is saying, you know what, if we're going to play this game then let's play this game thoroughly. We will invite everybody to --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: That's not what Trump is saying. Trump is saying the former president committed a crime, a high crime. That's what Trump is saying on Twitter.

WHITFIELD: Very serious accusation.

STELTER: And we don't know for sure about those FISA things in June and in the fall. There have been reports --

KINGSTON: That's why it needs to be investigated.

STELTER: -- that there could've been those FISA request. CNN has not confirmed it. Other news outlets have put there forward. But we have no idea where Trump is getting this information from. It seems to be coming from Mark Levin's radio show and Breitbart.

WHITFIELD: Well, and it's investigating. I mean, investigating is one thing but making a statement as though it is fact and that's the conclusion before the investigation, that's really what is at issue here. In fact, the Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed that this morning when she was on "This Week", listen.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: As you're always telling us to take the media seriously. Well, we are today. We're taking the reports that places like "The New York Times", Fox News, BBC, multiple outlets have reported this. All we're saying is let's take a closer look. Let's look into this. If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal --

MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST, THIS WEEK: But you're not saying let's look into this. The president of the United States is accusing the former president of wiretapping him.

SANDERS: I think that this is again something that, if this happened, Martha --

RADDATZ: If, if, if, if.

SANDERS: I agree.

RADDATZ: Why is the president saying it did happen?

SANDERS: Look, I think he is going off of information that he's seeing that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential. And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we've ever seen. And a huge attack on democracy itself and the American people have a right to know if this took place.


WHITFIELD: That's how it was addressed by the spokeswoman for the White House after being pressed by Martha Raddatz. So we understand that "The New York Times", Fox News, BBC, have not reported that Trump was wiretapped, period. That's the bottom line.

But Brian, what do you think of this White House, this president, constantly referring to reports in a very loose term but using this as though this is a source that is above and beyond, perhaps intel sources that would be more credible coming from the president of the United States on a matter like this.

STELTER: Sarah Sanders is in a really tough spot there. She's trying to respond to something that president said on Twitter. The president essentially made this claim as if it's a fact. And now the White House is saying congress should investigate it to see if the claim is true.

That's my reading of what Spicer and Sanders have said today, they want an investigation to see the if what the president said is actually true. And it reminds me of his claims about voter fraud. President Trump said three to five million people voted illegally. Simply not true.

Then the White House said there would be an investigation. What has happened to that investigation? I haven't heard anything about it in a while. It's a situation where they might be trying to shove this off to the side, make the best of a bad situation and say this should be investigated. And then we will see if anything ever comes if there ever is an investigation. I would be surprised that the president --

KINGSTON: Brian, it will be investigated. The chairman of the intel committee says -- Devin Nunes, he says we're going to investigate this. I think what's fair for the (inaudible) --

STELTER: President Trump should provide the evidence today.



STELTER: He's at Mar-a-Lago, he's about to get back on a plane to go to Washington.

KINGSTON: What did "The New York Times" mean that --

STELTER: He can tweet, he can release a press release, he can provide the evidence this hour. It's 2:15, he can do it by three o'clock.

NAVARRO: Brian, you and I know there is no evidence. What this White House has has been consistent on and honest about is alternative facts. So they are turning these deranged tweets by Donald Trump that are then reported by the press as reports that the press did on the FISA court order, they're two completely different things. They are completely stretching the facts to make a fit into their narrative. And this is what happens over and over and over again. So America keep your eye on the ball.


WHITFIELD: Yes, let me just (inaudible) jack with this because Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff kind of echoes those examples Brian that you were talking about, a statement he released today saying:

Today, it became all the more clear that President Trump's claim that he was illegally wiretapped by President Obama was based on little more than Breitbart or other conspiracy-based news. For a president of the United States to make such an incendiary charge and one that discredits

[14:15:00] our democracy in the eyes of the world is as destructive as it was baseless.

And Schiff also brought up the issue of illegal voting as another example and a litany of examples. So, Jack, this is a very serious problem now for this White House and is at all worrisome that in some ways it would be interpreted that some members of congress essentially took the bait based on what the president has said now and launching a separate investigation?

KINGSTON: Let me say this about Adam Schiff. He's a friend of mine. He represents my mom's hometown in Pasadena but he has been very, very consistently anti-Trump, no matter what Trump does, he's the first one out of the box to criticize him for it. So it's hard to call him an objective source in this situation.

Here's what we know. January 19th, "The New York Times" said law enforcement has intercepted communication and transactions found in their investigation of Trump-Russia ties. Where did that come from? What did they mean by law enforcement intercepted it? Why did the White House try to get a FISA action back in June of '16?

NAVARRO: Jack, this is not rocket science. They were spying, they were doing surveillance on the Russians.


KINGSTON: Why did they do it in October?

WHITFIELD: It was already clear and already made public by various reports that there was some involvement in -- potentially Russia involvement in the U.S. elections very early on from the hacking of DNC e-mails, et cetera, over the summer.

So that is separate from this latest accusation. This is a very different level now. We're talking about accusing a predecessor in the White House as commandeering wiretapping of someone who is running for president.

KINGSTON: I think the fact that Devin Nunes and probably Richard Burr will soon say that he's going to investigate this and I don't know why everybody who's so upset is bothered by the fact that the senate is now going to investigate this. This is the only thing from the Democrat party --

WHITFIELD: Well, no. I think what's bothersome, it's just so many of the people are responding to, jack, is that it's bothersome that a president would say that and not be able to provide evidence. What is substantiating that claim? He did not say he thinks, he said it definitively by way of tweets. That's very different, is it not?

KINGSTON: Well, I think it is. And I think the fact that the senate is saying, you know, we're going to look into it, I think that should put everybody on this panel and everybody out in wherever you are in this issue, put them at rest. That's what Marco Rubio have said.

Marco Rubio has said today he's not going to be a part of a witch-hunt and he's not going to be a part of a cover-up. And he also was very complimentary of all the committee members on the intel committee and say I think everybody is going at this very objectively. They are all the time trying to be pulled from the Democrat or the Republican side of the ledger to say, you know, what about this, what about that? But, to me, what Marco said was very, very reassuring to Democrats and Republicans alike.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're going to leave it --

NAVARRO: The reason people aren't calm about that idea and are still disturbed is because congress has a 13 percent approval rating and because what people want is an independent investigation that is not tainted by politics.

KINGSTON: That's what Democrats want.

NAVARRO: That is very hard to do in today's congress.

WHITFIELD: OK. We will leave it right there for now, doesn't mean it's the end of the conversation, it really is just the beginning. Thanks so much to all of you, Jack Kingston, Ana Navarro, Brian Stelter, appreciate it. See you again soon.

All right. Meantime, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will give his amended testimony in writing tomorrow about his contacts with Russia before the election. Is he still in any possible legal danger?

Plus, the DOW trading in record territory as Trump takes credit, still ahead, whether Trump's economic plans will push stocks higher.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will submit amended testimony in writing about Russia tomorrow. It will be provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sessions is facing controversy for not revealing his two pre-election meetings with a Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearings. He says he misunderstood the question when he initially denied any Russia contracts during Trump's campaign.

Democrats are calling for Sessions to resign. President Trump says Sessions did not do anything wrong but could have spoken more accurately. And, as we know, as of last Thursday, he at least, Sessions did rescind himself from any involvement in investigations of Russia's involvement with the U.S. election. So let's talk more about all of this with David Rohde, a CNN global

affairs analyst and Reuters' national security investigations editor and Paul Butler, a former justice department prosecutor and now a Georgetown Law school professor. Good to see you.

All right. To Paul, you first. So what should sessions be saying in this written supplement?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PROSECUTOR: So, Fred, when even President Trump says that he could have answered the questions more accurately, there are a lot of issues that are raised. You know, Washington, it's always the cover up.

There's no crime in meeting with an ambassador so why didn't Sessions tell the whole truth? We need to know was there anybody else at this meeting? We need to know was there a paper trail? Are there e-mails? This is just the beginning of an investigation. And Sessions would do well to be as forthcoming as possible. He needs not just to submit a written statement but also to get in there and answer questions.

WHITFIELD: OK. So we understand there will be questions he is to answer. But then Paul, how specific does he need to be? Because we know, he's an attorney. And mutually, many attorneys will say only the question that is given, don't go beyond. Is this a case in which he needs to go beyond the question to give more detail?

BUTLER: Way beyond. The problem with his original testimony was he was being too lawyerly. That just raises suspicions for prosecutors who are naturally always looking to see if anybody has exposure, so he needs to be

[14:25:00] totally forthcoming.

The problem is, at some point, he's going to have to get his own lawyer, it will probably be one of these pit bull Washington law firms who are looking to keep his butt out of jail, quite frankly. So there's going to be this weird tension between his responsibilities as the nation's chief law enforcement officer but he's leading the department that's going to have some role in investigating him for a federal crime.

WHITFIELD: So David, in your view, is the credibility of the attorney general damaged beyond repair by way of withholding information during the confirmation hearings?

DAVID ROHDE, A CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it was sort of an unforced political error. If he had simply disclosed this in his testimony, it would've been fine. And what was really remarkable was that he had a written question whether he had contacts and he replied no.

So there was time to review that. He must have looked at those questions. It's surprising to me, you know, he's claiming he misunderstood it but clearly it's created a tempos (ph), it's angered President Trump himself and distracted from what President Trump hoped would be a good week. So again, it's an unforced error. I'm surprised he answered the questions this way.

WHITFIELD: And then, Paul, not all Democrats are saying he needs to resign. Instead, some are pushing for hearings with the judiciary committee that would press him further on revealing more as opposed to asking him to exit right away. Why would that be more beneficial than just resigning now?

BUTLER: Well again, the attorney general is obviously an extremely important position, there's always going to be politics. So we want to know that there's something there. The problem is, when you submit these lawyerly answers to questions that are trying to see whether you're qualified to be the nation's top law enforcement officer, it's not a good look.

So here's the thing. The president has nominated Rod Rosenstein to be the deputy attorney general. I've known him for 20 years, worked with him as a public corruption prosecutor. If he's in charge, I think, that gives the company a lot more assurance that this will be a complete and objective investigation.

WHITFIELD: And David, this U.S. intelligence officials are saying this Russian ambassador is a top spy. They've been watching him even though he's met, what, 22 times in the Obama White House and he meets with members of congress on a fairly regular basis. Russia, of course, strongly denying that he is a spy. Do we know what Sessions and the Russian ambassador actually discussed? Has that been revealed in any way shape or form in those meetings?

ROHDE: No, we don't know. There were two meetings and what's unusual is that "The Washington Post" has broke the story, they spoke to every single member of that committee, there's two dozen senators on that committee. And Senator Sessions was the only one to meet with the Russian ambassador.

But to be fair to Sessions, we don't know what was said. But again, it's common sense. Your meetings with the Russian ambassador, given his tenure in government, he's going to know that there's going to be a lot of attention to it giving the hacking allegations, it's certainly like Michael Flynn and these phone conversations with Kislyak. Of course, they're ease dropped by U.S. law enforcement, that's their job. They're supposed to monitor foreign diplomats for spying so there's no surprise that this could come under scrutiny.

WHITFIELD: So Paul, what's your greatest worry about the content of the discussions that it wouldn't be revealed these meetings took place? If it's not so terrible to have the meetings, why would you not want to reveal it, which goes to what's the content of these discussions, how worried are you about that?

BUTLER: Because maybe you are discussing President Trump's campaign with the Russians, maybe you're thinking about these sanctions that President Obama has did (ph) that he's going to deal. So maybe they're just having a little conversation about that. So that's a problem. That's criminal exposure.

And again, it could be totally innocent. Maybe he just forgot about the conversation. But if that's true, then he needs to be as forthcoming, as open as transparent as possible tomorrow. He needs to stop. He needs to talk and not shut up until every senator has had the chance to ask everything they want to know.

WHITFIELD: Paul Butler and David Rohde, thanks so much, gentlemen.

BUTLER: Great to be here.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, amidst a wave of anti-semitism, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo makes an impromptu visit to Israel to bring a message of solidarity.


[14:31:22] WHITFIELD: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is in Jerusalem right now on a whirlwind visit that will last less than 24 hours. He's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and this morning laid a wreath during a visit to Israel's Holocaust Memorial. Cuomo's visit follows a wave of anti-Semitic threats and violence across the U.S.

CNN's Oren Lieberman is following the governor on this trip. So Oren, this trip was only announced on Wednesday. Is this being seen as reassurance over this wave of anti-Semitic threats in the U.S.?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor Andrew Cuomo is here to reassure Israel that the bond between the U.S. and Israel specifically, of course, for Governor Cuomo the bond between New York and Israel will never be broken.

He pointed that out anyone who tries to drive a wedge between the two countries will in fact do the exact opposite. It will only drive the two closer together and strengthen that bond.

He was here because of a wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic acts spreading across the United States, from bomb threats to more than 100 Jewish community centers across the U.S. to vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. New York has not been immune.

Late last week, there were more than a dozen tombstones toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Rochester. All of that is part of why Governor Cuomo was here.

But it wasn't just to talk about anti-Semitism and the need to condemn and to stop anti-Semitism, it was a rise in hate crimes in general that he came here to talk about.

[14:35:02]And he said a bit of hate crime spawns even more and that needs to be stopped as quickly as possible. I got a chance to speak with the governor one on one.


GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We've had anti-Muslim attacks in the United States. We've had anti-African-American attacks and incidents in the United States. We've had more anti-Semitic incidents, there's no doubt.

But it's not just anti-Semitism, there's an anger in the United States that is being vented and it's being vented at people who are different, right? Who's the target?

People who are different are the target, different color skin, different religion. They come from a different place, different language. The differences become the enemy and that's very dangerous for the United States.


LIEBERMANN: The governor said that New York has put together -- and the New York state police have put together not only a reward to help catch those responsible but has also started a hate crime task force to go after and prosecute those responsible.

My question to him was that's a question of security, stopping anti- Semitic acts and hate crimes is a question of security, but to stamp out hatred in general and anti-Semitism specifically, that's a question of education and I asked him what he's doing there.

He said that's right, that's the bigger picture, first you need to stop the hate crimes and then you can start to deal with the education, making sure that everybody from everywhere is welcome.

He pointed out that New York has always been the welcome point for immigrants with the Statue of Liberty right there. It needs to stay that way, a safe space for everyone.

WHITFIELD: Oren Liebermann, thanks so much in Jerusalem.

All right, don't miss tonight's premiere of CNN's new original series "BELIEVER." It's a journey into scientology, voodoo and more. Tonight host, Reza Aslan heads to India to learn about a Hindu sect known for extreme rituals. Here's a sneak peek.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are people on that side of the river so afraid of the Agori?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This may have been a mistake. Maybe somebody distracts him and I just leave? I can be polite. I can be very polite about it.


WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Some tense moments there. Watch the premier of "BELIEVER" tonight at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.


[14:41:47] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Trump making a push in Congress for more spending. He vowed to, quote, "Restart the engine of the American economy." To fuel that revival and cut the debt, the president is proposing massive tax cuts, better trade deals, immigration enforcement and huge spending increases on the military and infrastructure.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States financed through both public and private capital creating millions of new jobs.


WHITFIELD: Critics of the president say he's promising something that economically impossible. Massive spending increases combined with big tax cuts all without increasing the national debt?

Joining me now to discuss this is CNN senior economic analyst, Stephen Moore. Good to see you, Stephen. Also a distinguished visiting fellow for the Heritage Foundation. So the president is promising big tax cuts and big spending. Does the president's math add up?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: We will see. His budget will come out some time in the next week or two with all the lines in the budget and where these cuts are going to come from to make up for the loss of revenue from some of the tax cuts and also the big increase that you just talked about, an infrastructure spending and defense spending.

I would just a couple of things. One is when the president talked about infrastructure spending of a trillion dollars in his speech Tuesday night, a key phrase was there was public and private.

So I think he thinks that he can get substantial amounts of money from private investment in infrastructure, for example, things like building energy projects, pipelines and things that don't require a lot of federal money.

WHITFIELD: Is that realistic? To be able to count on a combination of federal and private spending?

MOORE: I do. I think there's a lot of private sector capital projects that are ready to go. A lot of these just require the president's permit to allow, for example, drilling on some of the federal lands and allowing the pipelines.

He's already issued an executive order to allow some of these pipelines to go forward. But, you know, the key question that you raised is whether the math adds up and right now, we just haven't seen the numbers yet. So we don't know.

I do believe if we can get this economic growth rate up from the measly, you know, less than 2 percent that we've had for the last five or six years up to 3 percent, 4 percent, or 5 percent, that helps a lot in terms of getting the revenue. You need to balance the budget.

WHITFIELD: How do you suppose he would do that because that it his promise to at least double it.

MOORE: Well, you know, the tax cut I think for businesses will help growth. I think there's also a lot of ways you can cut the budget. I'll give you one statistic that's amazing to me. We found this at the Heritage Foundation.

There's almost $100 billion a year on corporate welfare, on federal taxpayer money, your and my money, that goes to big corporations. We don't need to be giving corporations money. That will save a lot of money.

We have work for welfare requirements that can reduce the (inaudible) -- you know, we have 43 million people on food stamps. Those are costs that can come down when the economy improves.

[14:45:00]WHITFIELD: OK, so since his election Donald Trump has been appraising the stock market. He sent this tweet out on Thursday saying "Since November 8, Election Day, the stock market has posted $3.2 trillion in gains and consumer confidence is at a 15-year high," but during the campaign Trump had this to say.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Now, look, we have the worst revival of an economy since the great depression and believe me, we here in a bubble right now. The only thing that looks good is the stock market, but if you raise interest rates even a little bit that will come crashing down.


WHITFIELD: All right, so how do you explain these mixed messages?

MOORE: Well, I do think that there is no question the stock market has gone up a lot since Donald Trump's election. The investor community really likes the things that Donald Trump is saying about reducing the capital gains tax cut and the corporate tax rate. They like the pro-energies policies and pro-business atmosphere that Donald Trump will bring to the White House.

What Donald Trump said there was absolutely true. There has been a weak recovery, the weakest since the great depression. It's been a long recovery, but it's been a fairly weak one. If he can wrap up growth, and I think he can, you'll see more jobs come in.

WHITFIELD: Are we still in that bubble that he was referring to a few months ago?

MOORE: That's -- well, the danger with taking credit for the stock market is what happens when the stock market falls? We've seen the jerky stock market the last 25 or 30 years. So if you live by the stock market you can die by it. We've seen a nice rally for the last seven or eight years from the huge decline we saw in 2008 or 2009, but I have to tell you, if you look at the leading economic indicators right now, small business confidence, consumer confidence, the stock market, factory orders were up last month. There is a little bit of a glimmer in the eye of the economy right now and I hope -- I think we all hope that's sustainable.

WHITFIELD: And quickly, what are your concerns about -- Donald Trump says he wants to be the jobs creator-in-chief but at the same time when he talks about cuts there are a number of government agencies right there in the Washington, D.C. area that are looking at thousands of jobs that may be on the chopping block. Can you have it both ways?

MOORE: Well, the answer is yes. And by the way I live in Washington, I'm right here in the middle of the swamp and I have to tell you, there's buildings going up all over the place. It's true three of the five wealthiest counties in America are in Washington.

I think Donald Trump wants to do is shrink the size of government, and there will be layoffs in this town, and add more jobs out in Michigan, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania and Maine that have not seen a recovery.

So yes, it won't be good for Washington, D.C., but for the rest of the country it could be good to see some rational downsizing and efficiencies in government.

WHITFIELD: All right, Stephen Moore, thank you so much.

MOORE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right, thousands of civilians are fleeing Mosul as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces hammer ISIS targets in the western part of the city. The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants are still holed up in Mosul, which has been under ISIS control since 2014.

Last fall when Iraqi forces began their fight to retake Mosul from ISIS, CNN's Arwa Damon was there. She spent 28 hours under siege with Iraqi troops and civilians as ISIS fighters attacked and now she has returned to Mosul to find some of those same people.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's always a bit emotional to be going back especially after such an intense experience. We are excited to see the soldiers again, but at the same time, we're a bit apprehensive because we're not entirely sure who survived. Hello. (voice-over): We were looking for Major Haasen (ph), (inaudible) Saladin's (ph) commander. As we walk up to him, he breaks into a huge smile. He's always joking. The classic tough Iraqi man, constantly trying to hide his emotions with dark humor. One of the first soldiers we saw was Nathan who was wounded in his side.

(on camera): They keep asking about us, if we're OK. We keep saying no, we were worried about you, that you're OK.

(voice-over): And then Ahmed walks in, he was the staff sergeant who was shot in the leg that day, but despite being wounded he had taken complete control.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's the leg? Nothing? No?

DAMON: We looked at the photos on my phone of the men who were with us that day and all four were killed.

(on camera): This is Haider, the soldier killed in the first suicide car bomb that hit the back of the convoy and now they carry his picture with them.

(voice-over): Some of the soldiers like Waed haven't returned. He was sitting up front in our armored vehicle and he got a shrapnel wound in the eye after a grenade exploded. But a lot of the other troops, they were patched up and returned to the front line. They don't get a break from the war, but they still have this determination to beat ISIS, to win.

[14:55:02]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).

DAMON: We were snapping selfies and laughing and gunfire broke out a few doors down.

(on camera): ISIS is basically flying one of their drones overhead, they were just saying so they were trying to shoot it down, some of the other guys are in a different location. But this is how un-phased everybody is because in the middle of all of that they're still trying to take photographs.

(voice-over): These drones loaded with explosives. It's what ISIS has shifted towards and it's time for us to leave.


WHITFIELD: All right, some powerful reporting there by Arwa Damon. Thank you so much.

All right, coming up, we are expected to get a new executive order this week from President Trump. We've heard that before. What's different this week?