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EARLY START

President's Immigration Initiatives; Trump Stands By False Voting Claim; Deadly Hotel Attack; Marquette Shocks #1 Villanova. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: President Trump set to take executive action to start building that wall along the border with Mexico. Very same moment the delegation from Mexico visits Washington.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The president and his spokesman continue to say things that are not true -- fabrications about millions of people voting illegally in the election that did not happen.

ROMANS: And a deadly attack overnight on a hotel compound in Somalia. We are live with the latest, including the claim now of responsibility.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: Nice to see you. I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday, January 25th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And the breaking news this morning. Behold the wall. At least the first executive action of what was essentially the rallying cry of President Trump's campaign. In just a few hours, the president will sign orders designed to speed the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

You know, he's also promised always that Mexico would pay for this wall. It's not at all clear this morning how or if or perhaps when that will happen. This comes days after the president and his press secretary saying things that are not true about the inauguration crowd size and the alleged massive voter fraud, voter fraud that did not happen nowhere on the scale that the president says it did.

But while he continues to say things that are untrue, he has been true to many of his campaign promises and his supporters say that is what matters.

[05:00:04] The president previewed executive actions overnight. He wrote, "Big day planned on national security tomorrow. Among other things, we will build the wall." Now, the timing of this is pretty controversial. It comes on the same day as the Mexican foreign minister is Washington setting up a visit for the Mexican president. There are more immigration moves coming later this week as well.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny tells us what to expect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, President Trump trying to change the subject as he travels to the Department of Homeland Security across Washington to sign a series of executive actions focusing on immigration.

First and foremost, the border wall with Mexico -- something he talked so much about during the campaign. We're told he will be signing an executive action on that and other immigration proposals today. And in the days ahead; focusing on immigration and security as well as visas and refugees in the days going forward; talking about terror- prone countries, Syria and elsewhere, of course, that he talked about so much in the campaign as well.

First, he made a claim to ban all Muslims, then he scaled that back somewhat. We are told that this will be a scaled-back version of that, focusing on refugees. Now that is expected to come later in the week. But today, the focus is on border security, building that wall with Mexico.

Now, the question is, who will pay for it? The campaign rally anthem was always Mexico will pay for it. Of course, Mexico said they will not pay for it. The U.S. government actually will foot the bill at the beginning here and then we'll ask for a reimbursement really as it gets through the week here, trying to get through all of these top priorities, signing those executive actions to get the first 100 days quickly under way -- John and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: OK. So, there's more there. The border wall, the immigration positions Jeff just mentioned. Sources familiar to today's executive orders say they will also include ending so-called catch and release. That's a policy of allowing undocumented residents to remain in the U.S. without deporting them. The orders will triple the resources for ICE enforcement and removal.

They will also end sanctuary cities or at least funding for sanctuary cities, localities that bar their police authorities from cooperating with immigration authorities. And they will add 5,000 custom and border patrol officers. Separate order being prepared for Trump's signature later this week includes suspending acceptance of all refugees for four months to gauge which countries' migrants pose the lowest risk for national security. And a program that admits Syrian refugees would just be ended indefinitely.

We expect to get more details on this in the coming days.

BERMAN: Overnight, the president also addressed to threaten federal action of violence in Chicago. He tweeted, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible carnage going on," he wrote, "228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings, I will send in the feds." Now, Chicago police tells CNN that the actual numbers are 38 homicides, 182 shootings so far this year."

Donald Trump wrote what he wrote, apparently just after a guest on FOX News discussed violence in Chicago and used the word "carnage", and apparently the same statistics, the faulty statistics that the president later tweeted.

The president last addressed Chicago violence in early January. He wrote when president-elect that if mayor can't do it, he must ask for federal help. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has not directly addressed what the president wrote overnight. But he did say in an interview that over the years, the city has had to step up its resources directing at gun violence as the federal government has stepped back.

ROMANS: All right. The White House standing by President Trump's widely debunked claim that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the election. It's a claim made without any proof backing it up, other than the president believes it. At the White House daily briefing, our Jeff Zeleny asks Press Secretary Sean Spicer if he himself believes the claim. Spicer brought the answer right back to his boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He believes what he believes based on the information he's provided. Yes, ma'am? Thanks, Jeff.

ZELENY: What's that mean for democracy, though? If he does believe that, what does that mean for democracy?

SPICER: It means that I've answered your question.

ZELENY: Have you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Spicer did cite a Pew Research study. The author of that study has said that while researchers found millions of registrations that were out of date due to people moving or dying, there was no evidence of actual voter fraud. I'm going to say that again, there was no evidence of actual voter fraud.

The president's decision to revive the issue not sitting well with many lawmakers, including Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He needs to disclose why he believes that. I don't believe that. It is most inappropriate thing for the president to say, without proof. People are going to start doubting you as a person if you keep making accusations against our electoral system without justification. This is going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: The president reignited the controversy in a meeting Monday night with congressional leaders as a way, many feel -- to explain how he lost the popular vote, showing it's still nagging these concerns about the election.

[05:05:05] BERMAN: "The Associated Press" and "New York Times" reporting that he can't give that up.

All right. Let's talk about what's going on today, a big day ahead.

Managing editor of CNN Politics Zach Wolf joins us right now from Washington.

Good morning, Zach.

Let's talk about what the president is doing, first, before we talk about what he has been saying. The untrue things he's been saying, because what he is doing is keeping true to a lot of his campaign promises. The executive actions on the wall, if you went to any Donald Trump event, if you watch any Donald Trump event during the campaign on TV, he talked about the wall a lot and that is what the crowd loved. And today, he'll sign an executive action that will, he says, speed up the construction of said wall.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL, MANAGING EDITOR: That's right. I mean, if you went to a Donald Trump rally, the first thing he would talk about, first thing when he announced his candidacy was building a wall, and making Mexico pay for it. So, this is sort of getting the ball rolling on doing these things as --

BERMAN: First half?

WOLF: Yes, the first half. Although it is interesting, if Mexico is not going to pay for it, he's going to eventually have to get money from Congress to build a wall. Not every Republican in Congress wants to see this wall. So, him signing this executive order today, it is -- it will set up this interesting play with Congress, eventually, I think, where not all Republicans want to see this happen. So --

ROMANS: I think --

WOLF: This is the beginning, not the end of this process.

ROMANS: Yes, and I think today is really the beginning what is, you know, rolling out the immigration stuff that he promised on the campaign trail. You know, we're hearing that he wants to step up, you know, the funding and the number of border officers and ICE removal agents, and the like. And that that he's going to, you know, stop the refugee -- you know, stop all refugees for four months.

How does that play? I mean, that's exactly what he promised on the campaign trail. It looks like he's going to do it.

WOLF: That's right. If you look back to things he did earlier in the week on trade. It's like he's going through his campaign promises one by one. Withdraw from TPP, start up Keystone pipeline again, build the wall, deal with the immigration problem.

He is trying to be very true to that campaign rhetoric.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting what some commentators and supporters of the president are noting is that there's a lot of the focus on some of the things he's saying, some of the things he's saying that aren't true about inauguration crowd size, that millions of people voted illegally in the election. But while he's saying these untrue things, he is doing a lot in just the first few days as president, a lot of what he said he would do.

Just so people know what I'm talking about here, again, the president said 3 to 5 million people voted illegally. He told that to congressional leaders last night. Anderson asked John McCain about this last night. Let's listen to what John McCain had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Obviously, I see no evidence of illegal voting, but my focus has been on national security. A long time ago, honestly, I've stopped reacting to everything that the president has stated and tried to work on the issues and the people that he's going to surround himself with, who I'm very pleased with as far as national security is concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It's interesting, Senator McCain saying I can't be bothered anymore with trying to keep the president honest on things. I just can't deal with that anymore. But what I will deal with is what he's doing, and he is, as we said, doing a lot of things he promised he would do.

WOLF: You know, there was that question I think right after he was elected, when they were telling foreign -- you know, delegations for foreign governments you can't actually take him at his word. When you look at his actions in these first days, they're exactly things he said he would. You have to take him at his word because these things are happening.

ROMANS: They are happening. When you look at his meeting with the automakers and with the unions, and you look at his meeting with business leaders, I mean, he is telling them and those leaders are telling us, they believe him that he's redrawing the map here. They want to know what the rules of the road are going to be because they're going to play by President Trump's rules, Zach.

WOLF: That's right. You know, but President Trump's rules, here in the first couple of days, we do need to add the asterisk. I mean, there's a court system that they would have go through. There's a Congress that ultimately would have to finance it. There are, you know, environmental laws that he'll have to try to unwinds, but laws on the books. He might have this head of steam the first week but it could run full long into the American bureaucracy here before long.

ROMANS: All right. We're so glad you're up early for us this morning to sort through all of it. It's going to be a very, very busy day again in Washington.

Zach, get a cup of coffee, come back in a few minutes. We got a lot more to talk about. Thanks.

WOLF: Thanks.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump just does not believe the nation's unemployment rate. The data from the Labor Department. Here's some the criticisms he offered during the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Five-point-three percent unemployment, that is the biggest joke there is.

Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I've even heard recently, 42 percent.

The unemployment number as you know is totally fiction.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

[05:10:00] ROMANS: Forty-two percent.

The unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. There are other measures of underemployment. There are a lot of ways to measure the labor market. And, you know, the Labor Department does a beautiful job every month of laying them all out there for people to see. None of those gauges are 20 percent, 30 percent, or 40 percent.

The concern now, will the Trump administration accept the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data that, honestly, companies, businesses, reporters, governments all rely on. One economist says this is all about perception.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY HOLZER, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: Well, he wants to make the argument that things are terrible before he comes into office. And therefore, any improvements he can claim credit for. Now, the fact is that the numbers are not terrible. No matter of which these numbers you use.

Again, we do have different definitions. That's not unusual in the statistical world. All of them point to an economy fairly close to full employment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: If you really distill all of those criticisms of the president on the campaign trail about the job market, I think when you drill down, you see that he's talking about the unemployment rate does not count those who have dropped out and aren't looking.

But that is intentional. The official jobless rate only measures people who are jobless looking for a job and available for work. It is that universe of people that it has tracked in the 4.7 percent number. And all the other numbers are put around it so you can get context about the labor market.

BERMAN: It doesn't mean the unemployment rate always reflects the mood of the country or workers. But it has been a number that's consistent for generations and how it's measured.

ROMANS: And now he owns that number and the good people who put that number together, you just have to wonder what they're thinking.

BERMAN: Well, we will see in which way they own that number and how they choose to put it out because they're now part of his administration. We'll know in a week.

All right. Growing death toll following a series of bombings at a hotel compound in Mogadishu. We are live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:16:20] ROMANS: Breaking news out of Mogadishu. A pair of truck bombs exploded overnight outside of the Dayah Hotel in the Somali capital. The jihadist group al Shabaab is claiming responsibility now.

I want to bring in CNN's Farai Sevenzo, tracking the latest developments live from Nairobi for us.

What do we know new now?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPOINDENT: Christine, what we do know for certain is that those five attacks as you mentioned are now dead. They conducted their coordinated attack on the Dayah Hotel where they rammed the hotel gates with a truck filled with explosives. And 15 minutes later, as ambulance cruise and journalists were scrambling to uncover the story, they exploded yet another one.

This has become a modus operandi for terrorist groups. They will not leave the hotels which are usually quite fortified, they will not leave them alone. Simply they are holding many of Somalia's lawmakers, they are holding the MPs, the people trying to bring democracy to the place. And now al Shabaab has claimed responsibility and say that their fighters was still inside.

They didn't live very long. They died soon afterwards. And this is not the first time they've attacked such places. They attacked in June 2016, killing 15 people. Another one in June killing another 14, including two mps. It's interesting to see how they think they can win this war.

At the moment, everybody, all international efforts are trying to get rid of this terror group, including drone attacks by the United States. And this first attack of 2017 shows that nothing has changed in this tragic history of troubled Mogadishu, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Farai, thank you so much for that. Keep us posted if there are anymore developments this morning.

BERMAN: Let's talk sports now. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Three of the top four teams in college basketball, they go down.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report". That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:22:34] BERMAN: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be making their record seventh Super Bowl appearance together. You may hear about that for a few more days on this show. The question is, how did they do it? It's the Patriots way.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are going to go down as the greatest coach/quarterback combo ever. I know you like hearing that, Berman.

Their run has just been quite incredible. Think about this, Tom Brady played 15 seasons as the Patriots quarterback. He's going to his seventh Super Bowl, likely never to see a run like this ever again.

And the winning attitude in New England has really become infectious and CNN's own Hines Ward -- well, he asked his team, what is the Patriot way?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What is it about you guys that make you guys so special, man?

ROB NINKOVICH, PATRIOTS LINEBACKER: think it's just the mental toughness, being able to fight through adversity.

LEGARRETTE BLOUNT, PATRIOTS RUNNING BACK: We're arguably the best coach to ever coach the game. We have arguably the best quarterback in the game.

JULIAN EDELMAN, PATRIOTS WIDE RECEIVER: Secret weapon is just worrying about what we got to do and not falling into the noise or the hype, and preparation and practice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Meanwhile, Falcons fever is running wild in Atlanta. Even the Georgia Supreme Court is getting in on it. They held a special session to wish the Falcons well in the Super Bowl.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

P. HARRIS NINES, CHIEF JUSTICE: It's been a great season. And now, it's time for all Falcons fans to rise up. Go, Falcons!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: What a night in college basketball with three of the top four teams falling, including number one Villanova. Marquette coming back down 13 in the final minutes to beat Nova. Just their second win over a top-ranked team in their 100-year history.

You could tell, by the way, the students stormed the court. For the first time ever, the selection committee is going to put out what the top 16 in the March Madness bracket will look like right now. You can look for that this Saturday.

All right. Finally, while Patriots and Falcons are getting ready for the Super Bowl. The other 30 teams are looking for an April draft. And Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, he said teams better not pass on his quarterback Deshaun Watson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DABO SWINNEY, CLEMSON HEAD COACH: If they pass on Deshaun Watson, they're passing on Michael Jordan. I'm just telling you. I don't know what the heck I'm talking about. I'm just a wonky college coach. But Deshaun Watson is the best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:25:01] SCHOLES: For the Browns has the first pick, followed by the Niners and the Bears. I don't know if we're going to have another Sam Bowie/Michael Jordan situation in the NFL, but Dabo Swinney, he's warning those teams not to pass on his guy.

BERMAN: You're a Heisman voter, Andy. And you see a lot of college ball, and you thought Deshaun Watson should have won the Heisman. Do you think he's an NFL quarterback?

SCHOLES: Hey, he's got all the intangibles. He's got the strong arm. He can make plays. He makes decision. He's a hard worker.

I mean, he's a better guy to pick than, say, the guy the Browns picked last time in the first round, right?

BERMAN: Ahh, yes. We'll Google that so everyone can see what we're talking about there. We don't want to besmirch anyone's name.

Andy Scholes, great to have you this morning.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: All right. Tom Brady's friend, President Donald Trump, ready to take his first steps to follow through on perhaps his biggest campaign pledge. Executive action comes just hours away.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Breaking overnight -- President Trump just hours away from his first official action on building a wall.