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President Obama Makes First Public Remarks; Interview With Texas Congressman Filemon Vela; President Trump Facing Worst 100-Day Approval Rating Ever. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired April 24, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It would happen just as the president hits his 100th day in office this upcoming Saturday.
Here is White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: How confident are you that there will not be a shutdown? Can you from that podium, guarantee that there will not be a government shutdown?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can't guarantee. But I think that the work that Director Mulvaney and others have made in these negotiations has been very positive. They feel very confident that that won't happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The White House has also faced down reporters who pointed out that much of the president's contract of what he would do within his first 100 days has not been met.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: The contract with the American voter that the president signed included 10 pieces of legislation. Right now, he's zero for 10. One of those has actually been introduced.
SPICER: Right. And I think we're going to continue to work with Congress. As he says in that document, I will work with Congress to achieve these things. We're going to continue to work with Congress to achieve those.
QUESTION: But why have nine of them not even been introduced?
SPICER: I think when you look at what he's done in terms of the Supreme Court justice, the executive orders, the number of legislation, there's a lot that has gotten done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Sean Spicer was also pushed about why the president is pushing for border wall budget in -- border wall funding in the spending bill, especially when throughout the campaign it became his mantra that Mexico would pay for it.
Spicer said that would happen in "due time."
All of this is happening as the president is facing the worst 100-day approval ratings since the polls have ever been taken.
So, you see the numbers for yourself.
Let's talk about this and so much more with CNN political analyst Abby Phillip, a political reporter for "The Washington Post." And Ashley Parker is with us as well, who is "The Post"'s White House reporter.
Ladies, nice to have both of you on.
And, Abby, let's talk about this 100-day benchmark, which Chris Cillizza so appropriately pointed out, this was because of FDR noted this. This isn't a media deadline.
That said, we know that President Trump has called this deadline ridiculous. And Sean Spicer has called it artificial. Why do you think then that they have jam-packed the president's schedule with events all week long?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the first reason is that the president is someone who is very concerned about media coverage generally.
And so the White House knows that. They don't want him coming up to the end of this week looking at the coverage and being sort of disappointed or upset that it's not the way that he wants it to be. But, secondly, I think that the president, from the conversations I have had with people close to him, he's actually pretty convinced that he's had a very robust 100 days.
He believes that he ha gotten quite a bit done and he wants to be recognized for it. It's definitely a smart strategy on the White House's part to kind of get ahead of the coverage and sort of put things out on the table, so that people can decide for themselves whether they agree that these steps that they have taken are sufficient to sort of fulfill the president's promises, some of which he made during the campaign and leading up to Inauguration Day.
BALDWIN: I think in listening to you -- and, Ashley, let me ask this of you. What really what defines success your first 100 days, right?
We pointed to the poll and maybe the president doesn't like poll. and you point to legislative achievements. And we saw what happened or didn't happen with health care. How would you measure a president's progress?
ASHLEY PARKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, one of the best ways to measure a president's progress is sort of by their own promises and the metric of promises kept. And Donald Trump was someone as a candidate who especially would go
out on the campaign trail and say, I'm going to do this on day one, I'm going to do that on day one. A lot of stuff he also laid out that he was going within the first 100 days.
So, perhaps one of the fairest measurements is the measurement that the president, then a candidate set out for himself.
BALDWIN: That's fair. And a piece of the conversation also as we look ahead not just to the 100 days, but the government shutdown deadline, that is the end of this week.
And this border wall, Abby, has been at the center of that conversation, whether or not border wall funding should be part of the spending bill. The White House, again, said they can't guarantee the government doesn't shut down, but they essentially are saying it's not going to happen.
But how do you then balance that from what we heard from the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly over the weekend compared to what Reince Priebus said? Is it mixed messaging? What are we to believe?
PHILLIP: One of the things we should pay really close attention to as we talk about this border wall is whether the goalposts are going to change on this.
Will the White House accept border security money or money that goes toward enforcement activities as a stand-in, at least temporarily, for the "border wall"? This is going to be something that I think is going to be up for debate this week. How firm are they going to be on a physical wall?
There are a lot of Republicans in Congress who support border security, but don't necessarily support spending money on a wall. And the question is, will the president stand firm? This is one of those things that he promised his supporters during the campaign.
And it will be really challenging for him to walk that back so quickly, especially at a pivotal moment when he's kind of made some motions indicating that he wants to stand his ground on this issue.
BALDWIN: We will have an entire conversation on this wall in just a minute.
But before I let you ladies go, Ashley, I have to talk about your super juicy piece in "The Washington Post." Everyone tunes in, inside Trump's obsession with cable TV, you got all kinds of color, with what the West Wing is watching in the morning to be prepared for what the president may talk about to hate-watching certain channels at night. Tell me what you learned.
PARKER: Well, we learned a ton of things reporting this story. What we already knew is that the president is cable-obsessed. We
learned everything from what he watches in the morning, which is he watches "FOX & Friends." And, as you mentioned, some of his aides have now started watching "FOX & Friends" because they know not only is that what the president watches, but because he watches that, he may say to them, hey, I saw an interesting study on "FOX & Friends." Let's make sure to send that to Betsy DeVos over at Education.
Or I saw this interesting piece. Let's look into it. Can you get me a memo on that? So it's really guiding policy. He also -- he claims he no longer watches "Morning Joe." Some people don't quite believe that. And he also watches TV nonstop in many ways.
He watches it in the morning. He brags to aides about having the world's biggest and best TiVo. He has a little TV in the dining room off the Oval where he checks in from time to time. And then when he retreats back to the White House, the residence at night, he's watching then too.
Oftentimes, we call that hate-watching, but sort of on the phone with friends, watching unflattering coverage on cable news and kind of saying, can you believe this? So TV plays a big role in the rhythms of that White House.
BALDWIN: And he touted Sean Spicer's own ratings in those briefings.
One of my favorite details in the story was that there was this meeting with lawmakers and someone sort of said kind of jokingly this chaotic, tumultuous White House, is Sean Spicer going to be the first to go? And the president's response was, are you kidding me? I'm not firing Sean. He gets tremendous ratings. Everybody is tuning in.
It's certainly a little window into the way the president thinks.
BALDWIN: I'm so surprised no one asked Sean Spicer about his ratings today in the briefing.
Ladies, thank you so much. Ashley, that was an amazing piece for sure on "The Washington Post."
PARKER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
But back to this border wall conversation and this bargaining chip, here is more of Sean Spicer moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: In order to get the ball rolling on border security and the wall, that he was going to have to use the current appropriations process, but he would make sure that that promise would be kept as far as the payment of it. But this is a permanent step that will extend beyond his presidency. Eight years from now, the next president will have that wall in place to make sure that it doesn't continue.
QUESTION: Mexico is going to pay for it?
SPICER: That's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let me bring in CNN en Espanol anchor and correspondent Maria Santana and Congressman Filemon Vela, Texas Democrat from a border town high on President Trump's list for a border wall.
So, Maria, first to you.
We heard Jim Acosta in the briefing saying why is this even an issue with the border wall and funding if you said all along that Mexico was going to pay for it? What's the deal?
MARIA SANTANA, CNN EN ESPANOL ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: Well, Mexico has been very adamant they are not paying for the wall. They have said it many different ways. And this is a tough spot for the president. This, as you have said, became his campaign issue, the most important issue. Who can forget the chants in his reallies. Who is paying for the wall? Mexico. And people would go crazy.
So, at this moment, he feels he needs this win. He wants to appease his base of supporters. It's very popular with the base, the border wall. But it is unpopular with the majority of voters.
Half oppose it, according to recent CNN polling. It's also not just his critics and Democrats oppose funding this wall, but also many Republicans, Republicans that feel that it is the most expensive, but least effective way of protecting the border.
Donald Trump talks about drugs pouring in, but a lot these drugs don't come through the border. They come, according to the Coast Guard, on ships or we have seen the tunnels that many cartels have been able to build underneath to get through to the U.S. And they are experimenting with different technologies every day on being able to transport these drugs.
He also talks about Mexicans pouring through the border. But that migration from Mexico has been at zero. More Mexicans have been leaving the U.S. than coming in since 2008. So that argument is hard to reconcile.
He also talks about the crime. Undocumented immigrants are incarcerated and commit crimes at lower levels than U.S. citizens. So a lot of that is very hard, I can imagine, for legislators to sort of reconcile on why we need to spend all that money.
BALDWIN: Let's talk to a legislator. I have got the congressman with me.
We have talked before, because, sir, you sort of famously said that President Trump could shove the wall up his whoo-whoo.
So, my question for you is, do you know or you any other lawmakers representing these high-priority border towns who support this wall and support the notion that you would put this border wall funding, shove it in a spending bill?
REP. FILEMON VELA (D), TEXAS: Yes, I don't know any of my colleagues who represent constituencies along the U.S.-Mexico border that agree that we need a border wall.
What happened here is that the president made a promise that he was going to build a wall and that Mexico would pay for it. And now he wants the American people to pay for it. And we're going to do everything to make sure that doesn't happen.
I would one more thing to what Maria said. A substantial amount of narcotic activity runs through our current ports of entry. And, for example, Majority Whip Senator Cornyn from Texas has a port of entry infrastructure bill that would provide security. It would allow -- it would facilitate trade and facilitate travel towards two countries that are allies.
And we ought to be really talking about things like that. If we're going to be spending American dollars, what we ought to be doing is upgrading our port of entry infrastructure all the way from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California, and along the northern border.
BALDWIN: And I think you're saying instead of maybe building this big, beautiful wall.
Let me read for you a couple of tweets from the president. I would love your response, Congressman.
He tweeted: "Obamacare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going. Otherwise, it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought."
One other one: "The Democrats don't want money from budget going to border wall, despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS- 13 gang members."
Is he correct? What is your response there?
VELA: Well, let's take that one step at a time.
VELA: I think everybody agrees that, with respect to Obamacare, that there are some things that need to be fixed.
We need to address, for example, in some instances, higher premiums and other things like that. But the only way we're going to do that in a productive fashion to truly fix what needs to be fixed is if we approach it in a bipartisan fashion.
And I think that, going forward, that if we want to fix the problems with Obamacare, the way to do it is in a bipartisan fashion.
With respect to his tweet about the wall, the fact of the matter is, is that we have 11 -- let me tell you what I really believe, is that we have 11 million undocumented people in this country. Under President Obama, his deportation priorities were such that we prioritized deportation of people who had been convicted of felonies and people who had been convicted of misdemeanors three times.
President Obama -- President Trump has radically shifted that deportation priority. And I think what we need to do is go back to the Obama deportation strategy. Let's focus on finding who are the bad guys that are here and sending those back?
What we ought to do is come up with a process that allows people that are contributing to our economy, people who have been here for a long time, the good people, to stay here.
BALDWIN: Sure. We know that President Obama deported the largest number of people that any president ever has.
But final question. If the White House is smart, right, they are going to up the members of Congress and the mayors of these border towns in these high-profile areas. What would your advice be to the White House, Congressman?
VELA: Well, I think, given the president's campaign rhetoric, I think if we're going to move on all these issues in a productive fashion, it has to be done on a bipartisan basis. We need to hit the reset button.
BALDWIN: Does that mean a wall?
VELA: What we need is, we -- let me just be very clear. The last thing we need is a wall.
I would bulldoze the existing structure. But what we want to do, what we can do is move forward in a productive fashion and talk about these issues and make sure that, if we're going to be removing people from this country, that we're removing the people that are dangerous, and not people that -- like the gentleman in Indiana who had been here 20 years, had a wife and three kids, and owned a restaurant.
People like that, we need them to stay here.
Congressman, thank you.
VELA: Thank you. SANTANA: Yes. So, just to add also, with the border wall, most
undocumented immigrants in this country are visa overstays, people who came legally on a visa and who stayed. About 60 percent of those people are.
So, how do you deal with those folks and not just the people who are coming across the border?
BALDWIN: Sure. It's a great point.
Thank you so much for swinging by, Maria Santana.
SANTANA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next: the president's predecessor making his first public remarks since leaving office -- what former President Barack Obama said there in Chicago this afternoon.
Also ahead, a warning from the head of Homeland Security. He says President Trump will be dealing with North Korean missiles capable of actually hitting the United States in his first term in office. We will discuss that.
And ahead, a horrifying moment caught on video. A 4-year-old girl falls out of a moving bus. And now the police are weighing in.
BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President Trump inching closer to the 100-day mark of his first term here. His predecessor is stepping back into the spotlight today. Former President Obama taking to the stage this afternoon at the University of Chicago to deliver a message about community involvement. And he threw in some jokes as well.
Here was the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's been going on while I have been gone?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In eighth grade, which was your first election, we -- in social studies, we're told...
OBAMA: Can I just say...
OBAMA: I'm old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was too -- I don't have -- my last name is Patel. There's not a lot of Patels in office. I just feel like...
OBAMA: A lot of Patels in India, though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. There's a lot.
OBAMA: I'm just saying, there are a lot more Patels than there are Obamas.
OBAMA: I want to be clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, lots of conversations with young people there in the audience in Chicago.
No mention President Trump during the entire event. And prior to his first public appearance, President Obama actually spoke at a roundtable discussion over the weekend with young men involved in a job initiative for at-risk youth. The program is called Chicago Create Real Economic Destiny, or CRED.
Curtis Toler is a former gang member who is now on staff at CRED. And also with me, Arne Duncan, the founder of that program and former education secretary under President Obama.
So, gentlemen, it's wonderful to see both of you.
And, if I may, Curtis, let's begin with you. And before we -- I would love to know what it was like meeting the president yesterday. But your story is just -- it's incredibly compelling. You were shot six times. You were physically and sexually abused.
Can you describe for me that moment when you decided to turn your life around?
CURTIS TOLER, STAFF MEMBER, CHICAGO CREATE REAL ECONOMIC DESTINY: Well, it was definitely a process. We know that change is a process. And, unfortunately, it just doesn't happen overnight.
But really what happened for me is that I had some people in my corner that saw more in me than I saw in myself at that particular time. So, again, it was definitely a struggle. Therefore, I'm really able to relate to some of the young men -- or most of the young men that's in our program because they are going through those same struggles as well.
BALDWIN: And there you are in Chicago. You met with President Obama yesterday. Can you tell me about what you may have said to him or what he said with you?
TOLER: Well, it was really surreal. Coming from the background that I came from, I never could imagine sitting right this in the same room with the president of the United States.
So, it was really surreal. But, more than that, it really was an extremely great opportunity to see the young men who actually saw him as well. We have some guys who you know that society has turned their back on and think that they are hardened criminals. But to see those young men really break down in tears to see the president walk in the room was really amazing.
BALDWIN: Wow. Wow.
Mr. Secretary, to you. I understand you actually met Curtis while you were still in D.C. at Education, but it wasn't until you were out of office that you reconnected.
How did you two start working together on this?
ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: Well, coming home to Chicago has been bittersweet.
On one hand, frankly, this is a great time for my family and I to be out of Washington, out of D.C., and back around real people.
But Chicago is facing a real crisis of violence. And it's not a new issue. It's something that has shaped me and frankly scarred me in some ways since I was a kid. But in the seven years my family and I were gone, things got a lot worse here.
So, coming back to the city and trying to just figure out how I can help out, this seemed to be the issue that we had to work on. And Curtis and I have a great, great mutual friend, Father Pfleger at St. Sabina, was very familiar with the work that he was doing.
And we've just tried to build a small, but mighty team to really go out and create opportunity for young men on the South and West Sides who want to be the right thing, but just have never had that option, they have never had that choice.
And I think we can't police our way out of this problem, we can't arrest our way out of this problem. Mass incarceration hasn't worked. We have got to give young men a chance to make an honest living in the legal economy. And you give them the wraparound service, the social, emotional, support, the trauma care they need to be successful.
And let me tell you, we have some amazing, amazing young men who are young leaders. And they are going to lead the city where we need to go, not us. It's going to be them.
BALDWIN: I will take your word for it. I will take your word for it.
You both are traveling this one path.
But I do need, Secretary Duncan, need to ask about the political path. Listening to President Obama, in this atmosphere, you yourself talked about leading D.C., and we wanted to be around real people. The president didn't mention President Trump once.
How do you think he will walk this line when it comes to his successor?
DUNCAN: I think he is going to -- when he has to speak out, he will to speak out.
But it just was fascinating yesterday to watch him. He walked into a room of about 25, 27 young men. They were in awe. As Curtis said, some were in tears. It's very emotional. And the first thing he did is, he sat there and asked each one, every single young man, to tell him their story.
And for me, that's real leadership. He didn't come in and say, here's how we're going to fix this, this is my plan. He came and listened. And the ideas coming from a young man, I think are, again, much more powerful and it will more successful than anything the president or I can or Curtis or any of the rest of our teams can put together.
So, I think the president will continue to lead. He will continue to listen. And he will speak out when he needs to, I think, going back to his streets, going back to his roots, going back to streets and the community where he came from. I think that's going to give him a lot of fuel going forward.
BALDWIN: Curtis Toler and Arne Duncan, best of luck to both of you. Thank you so much for both of your voices. I appreciate it.
TOLER: Thanks for having us.
DUNCAN: Thanks for the opportunity.
BALDWIN: Coming up next: a dire outlook from the head of Homeland Security, suggesting President Trump will soon have to deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea with missiles that could reach the United States.
Are there any good options on dealing with North Korea? We will look into that.
Also ahead, new details on the suicide notes that NFL star Aaron Hernandez left behind in his prison cell before taking his own life.
Stand by for that.
BALDWIN: Just into us here at CNN, copies of the suicide notes left behind by former NFL star Aaron Hernandez have just been handed over to his family.
This is all happening on the same day of his private funeral after he hung himself in prison.
Deborah Feyerick has been --