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Trump Tries Clarifying: Wall Must Be in "Dreamer" Deal; Soon: Trump's Joint News Conference With Norway's Leader; Trump Grants GOP- Led Florida Exemption From Drilling Plan; Interview with Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 14:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we go. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks so much for being with me.

We are standing by for the president's first official joint news conference of 2018 there at the White House. He will take two questions alongside the leader of Norway, a key NATO, and, of course, shares a border with Russia. So, stay tuned for that.

Another first today for the president, his first cabinet meeting of the year where he gave a clarification among all that confusion from yesterday's bipartisan meeting in the very same room. A meeting veteran politicos have never seen before. Fifty-five minutes of free wheeling, frank talk, on camera, as lawmakers from both sides try to solve this dilemma over immigration, over DREAMers. They are the 700,000 undocumented immigrants who are brought to the U.S. as kids. A judge has made this hugely impact full ruling on their fate and we'll get into that.

But first, let me play something for you. This is the president just moments ago stressing that any legislation on DREAMers also known as DACA must be tied to his border wall.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agreed to pursue four major areas yesterday of reform, securing our border, including, of course, the wall, which has always been included, never changed, ending chain migration, canceling the visa lottery, and addressing the status of the DACA population.

We want to see something happen with DACA. It's spoken of for years. And children are now adults, in many cases. Above all else, any bill we passed must improve jobs, wages, and security for American citizens. The people who elected us, all of us, the people that elected us, we have to take care of them.


BALDWIN: We have Kaitlan Collins standing by for us at the White House.

And, Kaitlan, the president had a lot to say about that extraordinary meeting yesterday, including how well it was received.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Brooke, as he welcomed the press back to, quote, the studio today, the president talked about a myriad of things, including DACA. But he also relished in the praise that he got for opening up that meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration and DACA to the cameras for 55 minutes. And we certainly saw the president enjoying that praise that he got. It was certainly something that doesn't happen very often.

And it did allow people the chance to watch what is going on as the president negotiates with lawmakers. But the White House is also trying to accomplish something else by opening that up to everyone by letting the press come in, which was proving that essentially the president can do his job, especially in light of those allegations made in the new book, "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff, a large part which questions whether the president is competent enough to be in office.

[14:05:09] But the president was certainly riding high today, Brooke, as he talks about the coverage of that meeting here today.


TRUMP: Actually, it was reported as incredibly good. And my performance, some of them called it a performance. I consider it work. But got great reviews by everybody other than two networks, who were phenomenal for about two hours, then after that, they were called by their bosses, oh, wait a minute. And, unfortunately a lot of those anchors sent us letters saying that was one of the greatest meetings they ever witnessed.


COLLINS: So, Brooke, we've asked the White House which anchors it was specifically that sent notes to the president.

BALDWIN: Good question.

COLLINS: They've sent us tweets and video clips of people praising the president. They have not said which anchors specifically, but we will hear from the president here the next hour as he holds the press conference with the prime minster of Norway.

BALDWIN: Good question, sending letters, I don't know how somebody sends a letter in less than 24 hours. Maybe printing out emails, we'll get to the bottom of that.

In the meantime, Kaitlan, thank you so very much.

Let's analyze all of this here. So, I have with me, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist. And CNN legal analyst Laura Coates, a former federal prosecutor.

So, ladies, Dana, let me just start with -- it's kind of like this tale of two meetings, right? You look at yesterday and it was freewheeling and jovial and kind and today, the president was sitting there, arms crossed referencing notes. We're going after libel laws.

What do you make of that?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Who knows? It's hard to -- it's hard to really say.

Look, he obviously was very pleased with yesterday. But the problem is that the reason why yesterday was so stunning to all of us is because we got a window into conversations that the president and Republicans and Democrats were having about substance. The president wasn't talking about his approval ratings, his performance, about suing people. Yesterday, it was a president doing his job.

And, you know, there are lots of discussions about things that he didn't get right in terms of facts, but you know what, he was doing his job. And we got a window into the conversations that we know happen all the time. That is why, not just me, but other people who are not easy to impress, people who have seen a lot of different things in this town for a long time --


BASH: -- from networks and news outlets across the board thought that was striking.

Today was more of the Donald Trump that we have seen over the past year in the White House and has been the different kind of president talking about himself as opposed to doing the job that we saw yesterday.

BALDWIN: What did you think?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yesterday, forget the tale of two meetings, it was a tale of two Donalds. You know, it's a different Donald Trump from everything we heard during the campaign.

What did I see yesterday? I saw an opening, an opening for Congress. Here's the bottom line. We have somewhere between 800,000 and 3 million young people who are affected.


NAVARRO: Whose lives, whose future are -- is in limbo and who need an answer. We've got now a court case. We've got Congress with a deadline.

What I saw yesterday was what I hadn't seen in a long time, bipartisanship, compromise, ability to legislate, to actually discuss issues and come up with answers, brainstorming, joint, constructive brainstorming. We haven't seen that in what is a very dysfunctional Washington in a very long time. Maybe it takes having cameras in there and in the cloak rooms and in negotiating rooms in order for it to become --

BALDWIN: Hold people accountable.

NAVARRO: -- a better more constructive, less polarized process.

BALDWIN: On immigration and on this DACA stance, are you clear, Ana, on where the president stands on all of this?

NAVARRO: I'm clear that he said to Congress, go get it done.

BASH: Exactly.

NAVARRO: Go negotiate something. Get something that passes muster bring it back to me and I will sign it.


NAVARRO: So, now, I think the onus is on the Congress.

And the people sitting around that table yesterday, some of them have been working on immigration reform for decades. I'll tell you, people like Dick Durbin, like Lindsey Graham, Dianne Feinstein, Bob Menendez. They know this cold. If they want to make a deal, if they are in a deal-making mood and they are in a constructive mood, they can do this in 48 hours.

BASH: Yes.

BALDWIN: Let me move off of immigration just a second because, Laura, I want to bring you into the fold and into this conversation, because the president in today's meeting also really went on about this.


TRUMP: We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts.

[14:10:14] If somebody says something that's totally false and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse. Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness.


BALDWIN: Laura, why is the president taking this minute in this first cabinet meeting to talk about strengthening our country's libel laws?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, clearly, the timing of this is not so opaque. He was tweeting a great deal this morning and you have the "Fire and Fury" book and you got the dossier, all on the backdrop of the president's displeasure with the idea he's being targeted in his mind and the media and media reporting.

However, the Supreme Court has been quite clear in the words of Neil Gorsuch, for, oh, gosh 50 or 60 years these laws are not a sham. And although the president may believe that he has the ultimate authority overriding a lot of laws, tort, state libel law is a matter of state tort law, not a matter of federal purview, which means the First Amendment would have to be changed or additional amendment to the Constitution, or there'd have to be the Supreme Court who overturns it or individual states, ala federalism, would have to be the ones to change it.

So, while the president makes -- expressed some displeasure, it's not enough. And remember, there is a reason for that, as Justice Brennan said many years ago when he talked about this case in the Sullivan versus "New York Times", it was about the notion that especially in a political environment, we want to have open and sometimes very critical and as they call it caustic public commentary on public figures.

So, he'll have more than uphill battle to change that particular law.

BALDWIN: Dana, just back on immigration, do you get the sense that this confusing DACA stance, and I do think maybe we should give the president some credit for the line yesterday, you know, let me take the heat. I don't know if he's getting enough credit for that. Let me take the heat, blowback, right if he goes ahead and does this -- does DACA. Are you clearer on the president's parameters, where he stands, where this is going to go?

BASH: Yes. The president's parameters are anything that he can sign, anything that he can sign, really, at this point. And that was the sort of idea behind that statement that you are talking about, Brooke, I'll take the heat. And it's exactly as Ana said, these people sitting around the table, they are negotiators, they are historically the negotiators who have had idea after idea after idea of how to get things done but haven't been able to do so because of the far right and the far left. Much more so on the far right.

And they have -- they have taken bipartisan compromise after compromise and flushed it down the toilet because they have said, in particular the right, no way. Anything that allows anybody who is undocumented to stay in this country is amnesty. And what the president said is, I'm going to take the heat on that.

And that is so huge. As somebody -- Ana has been living it for more than a decade. I've been covering Republican politics and the sort of legislative fight on immigration for more than a decade. It is so huge. It started with George W. Bush who wanted to take the heat but he didn't have the political capital to do it with the base by the time he got there. Donald Trump does.

So, the whole sort of back and forth about will there be a wall, won't there be a wall, what does the wall look like that's going to be -- those are the details that matter, but in terms of how it's being sold, it only matters in terms of how the players who are now given the authority to really find compromise and given the authority to ignore the base, how they can find that compromise.

NAVARRO: You know, the reality is Donald Trump is uniquely situated to be able to do something that George W. Bush tried.

BASH: Exactly. NAVARRO: That Barack Obama wanted to do. And that eluded both of them, and I think he likes that, he likes the idea that he could check off a box and have an accomplishment that eluded the two of them.

Look, he has got the capital now with the base. When George W. tried, it was in his second term, he had no capital left. I remember, it was a horrible time in the Republican Party. The Republican base was sending bricks to Republican senators and to the White House. It was open warfare from people like Rush Limbaugh and others on the right.

When Barack promised it, by the time he tried to do it, he had spent all his political capital on health care.

Donald Trump has proven this week in his fight, in his tug of war that was maybe caused by this book with Steve Bannon that he is the guy with whom the Republican base will stick.

[14:15:06] It's not Steve Bannon's base. It's not Ann Coulter's base. It is Donald Trump's base.

And when he says I'm willing to take the heat, you know what, take him up on the offer, call his bluff.

BALDWIN: I think that's significant he said that.

NAVARRO: Move quickly and put something in front of him for him to sign. He -- I mean, we are looking at a scenario where we might see a State of the Union, what, a couple of weeks away, where that guy can stand on the podium and tell that he was able to get a Dream Act compromise passed. Wouldn't that be something?

BALDWIN: That's incredible.

NAVARRO: Yes, that is incredible.

BALDWIN: Ana Navarro, thank you so much. Dana Bash, Laura Coates, ladies, I appreciate all your voices.

Coming up here, a joint news conference at the White House, President Trump will be taking questions. We'll bring that to you.

Also ahead, swift reversal, the Trump administration now canceling plans for offshore drilling along the Florida coast. This is coming after a strong objection from the governor. Other states, though, they are objecting. The question is, will they get the same treatment.

And school board outrage. Have you seen this video? This teacher handcuffed and an arrested after challenging whether the school superintendent should have gotten a raise. All of it playing out on camera. What happened next has plenty of people stunned.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. And this is CNN.


[14:20:57] TRUMP: Thank you very much. It's a great honor to have Prime Minister Solberg of Norway.

Just had a very resounding election victory. So, it's another four years, at least, and very respected by her country. Very liked by her country. We do a lot of business with Norway.

And I know you bought some additional military equipment in the form of F-35s and other things. So, I congratulate you. We make the best in the world. We make. And Norway is a great customer and a great ally and a great friend.

So, it's an honor to have you. Thank you very much.

ERNA SOLBERG, NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much. And I'd like to say we really appreciating the good work we have together with the United States. That you are our closest ally inside NATO. And we see your military personnel also training in Norway and it's part of what we think is very good on our bilateral cooperation also.

So, the last year, there's even been a surplus from the U.S. to Norway on the economic side. So, you must be making good products.

TRUMP: We are doing a little bit. We do make great products.

And we were just discussing with the prime minister, we make the greatest military equipment in the world and you buy a lot of that and we appreciate that. It's called jobs but it's also called great equipment.

SOLBERG: Norway contributes to, I think we estimated it, supports up to 470,000 jobs in the United States by our investment and in doing so, and this is a special thing. You know, we have climate policies about making transportation system different. So, more Teslas are getting hit in Norway.

TRUMP: That's good.

SOLBERG: Yes, electrical cars.

TRUMP: We do that too. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, will you discuss --


BALDWIN: Just a little quick window there on the greeting that was the prime minister of Norway visiting the president of the United States today. Just a reminder, holding the joint news conference coming up next hour there at the White House. The president will be taking questions, and on a day when immigration has really come up. We'll see if he makes news on that, or even what we are about to talk about here. President Trump already getting major backlash against massive

offshore drilling plan. But now, the White House is being accused of politics at play after Florida was suddenly taken off that list. Just last week, the Trump administration announced the largest single expansion of offshore drilling targeted areas would include Alaska, the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.

But after a meeting Tuesday between Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott and the U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Florida became exempt because of its massive Florida tourism. That move ignited even more outcry. You have now the governor of South Carolina promising that he will take, quote, appropriate steps to counter the plan, including possibly asking for his own exemption.

But the Trump administration is denying any kind of politics at play.

So, with me now, South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford whose district rests right there along that beautiful Carolina Atlantic coastline.

Congressman, a pleasure to have you on. Welcome.


BALDWIN: Let's get do this. I mean, you are opposed to this. Interior Department spokeswoman says that South Carolina has requested a meeting with the department secretary. What do you want to have come out of this?

SANFORD: Well, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And if we are going to exempt Florida based on as, you know, as Secretary Zinke put it, an unusually high degree of tourism reliance, well then the same certainly ought to exist for South Carolina.

If you look at the multibillion dollar industry that exists along the coast of South Carolina, whether that's Kiawah or Hilton Head or Charleston or Myrtle Beach, there's an incredible tourism industry along South Carolina that ultimately drives our economy.

[14:25:07] So, if you're going to use that as justification for Florida, it certainly applies to South Carolina as well.

BALDWIN: Now, before we even get into tourism, Congressman, let's talk politics, right? We know Florida is a red state. We know that President Trump and Rick Scott are close. They have a relationship that predates Trump being in the White House.

I mean, straight up, is this politics at play?

SANFORD: Well, you would hate to imagine so.

BALDWIN: But is it?

SANFORD: If it looks, smells and feels that way, because, you know, the president ran on draining the swamp. No more politics as usual, if this is not assign of politics as usual, I don't know what is, because you have Florida which has presidential consequence in presidential contests, all of a sudden being exempted in a way that other states might not be that may be smaller in population count.

I would also say this, it smacks of what we never want to see in politics, which is, is it only self serving? I mean, you can't say I want to see an oil rig from Mar-a-Lago as I look out from Palm Beach, but it's OK look at an oil right out from Hilton Head or Charleston, South Carolina.

BALDWIN: I hear you loud and clear. Congressman Sanford on that.

The White House, though, the latest statement from Interior Department spokeswoman, there's no politics behind it. They cite Florida tourism as factor.

I have been to coastal South Carolina. I know it is all about tourism. So, why isn't the White House counting your state's tourism as a factor here?

SANFORD: That I don't know. And we'll hopefully get to the bottom of this.

You know, I've had conversations in the past with Secretary Zinke. He was a classmate in Congress. I'll continue to have conversations. It's now going to get amped up with the governor's involvement. The governor as well, just as Rick Scott does, you know, governor has the ear of the president based on things that happened politically in South Carolina that says there must be some kind of awfully direct tie there.

And so, I think that you'll see something happen here. But more importantly than the politics of what's going on, there is a principle at play. And that's the principle of home rule, of federalism. That the government is most local governs best.

As Republicans we've said we believe in that, that not all decisions need to be made in Washington. That many should be made at home. And when you have the absolute clarity that we have seen for instance on the coast of South Carolina, with every municipality, every hamlet and every town along the coast, doing formal declarations by their city council, by their mayor, and sending it up and saying, we don't want to see offshore here, not so much for what it means offshore, but for what it means on-shore as the way our coast develops and its impact on tourism and environment and others.

That voice ought to be listened to here if we're serious as Republicans about this notion of federalism.

BALDWIN: So, Lindsey Graham, senator of South Carolina, he's been on the record, you know, most recently saying safe offshore drilling actually creates jobs, and he would agree I think what you just said, which is let the people also of South Carolina, you know, decide on this.

And Lindsey Graham, once a huge Trump critic, now has been throwing lavish praise on the president for anything and everything. Congressman Sanford, what is behind Lindsey Graham's evolution?

SANFORD: Again, the idea of ever trying to get into some other person's mind is not a place that I'm going to go. So, you know, Lindsey Graham is a political survivor. He does well. And you know I'm not going to try to guess as to his motivations.

Other than that, you know, he's doing what he believes best on a given day in advancing the ball of legislation that he contends with there on the Senate side.

BALDWIN: OK. I'll take it. Congressman Mark Sanford, thank you so much. Appreciate you.

SANFORD: My pleasure, thanks.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, this teacher that's put in handcuffs after speaking out against a school superintendent pay raise. The shocking video. And why some of the board members are defending this.