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Soon: GOP Leaders On Border, Amid Deportation Fears; Tillerson, Kelly To Meet With Mexican President Today; New DHS Guidelines Set Stage For Mass Deportations; Ivanka Trump At Supreme Court Watching Arguments; Podesta: Forces Within FBI Wanted Clinton To Lose; Trump Remarks On DNC Race Ahead Of Tonight's CNN Debate. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 22, 2017 - 11:00   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: They will be assessing the cost of fulfilling one of President Trump's most priced campaign promises, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. House Speaker Paul Ryan will be arriving there on the border shortly. So we'll take you there live when things get under way.

And then on the other side of the border, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are going to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to talk border security and to work to ease icy tensions between these two allied nations.

All this as fears rise over President Trump's new guidelines for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws that includes a potentially massive expansion of the number of people detained and deported.

Let's start with CNN's Polo Sandoval. He is live there along the border in McAllen, Texas. Polo, Speaker Ryan is not bringing media along for this trip. What do we know about who he is meeting with and what they're looking at?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brianna, and that is a very key point here, having grown up in this corner of the country and also covered it as a reporter for several years, I can tell you that these kinds of high profile visits, there is nothing unusual about that, they come here very often.

What is fairly extraordinary is really the amount of work that's being put into limiting and really restricting both press and public access to Speaker Ryan's border visit. The speaker's office in Washington in the last few hours declining to explain why that is happening.

But what I'm hearing on the ground from law enforcement officials is there are those security concerns, obviously, when you have the speaker of the House not just close to the border but virtually on the border, since there is a boat tour scheduled, according to what we're hearing.

There is also that concern about protests. This is, after all, a focal point of that debate about immigration and also the border wall as well. We do understand that there are several protests, at least one in particular that is scheduled to take place just outside of the local border patrol office here, which we do expect Paul Ryan will be able to visit at some point.

But we're also told that the visit will be very short, will be a very short time that he will spend here in McAllen to be able to see, according to his office, firsthand the dynamics of this border battle.

KEILAR: All right, well, we will be watching it with you, polo Sandoval in McAllen, Texas. Thank you.

I want to go to the other side of the border now where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are set to meet with top Mexican officials. This is going to happen later today.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is live for us in Mexico City covering this. Leyla, what is the goal of this trip, as we're hearing that there are these expanded rules that could increase the number of deportations that we've seen in the U.S.?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you better believe that's going to come up in these conversations, Brianna, and it's certainly dominating the headlines today. Let me show you what we're seeing here in Mexico. This is one headline that the literally translation says, "The United States orders immigration, all illegals to Mexico."

Here's another one, "(inaudible) Trump declares a war on undocumented people." So that immigration talk will certainly be a topic that will be discussed amongst the Mexican government as well as Tillerson and Kelly, who will be meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as well as the foreign minister, Luis Videgaray.

But it won't just be immigration that will be important here. The tone that is taken will also be something that will come out of these meetings. I mean, you've got to look at the history here. When I say history, I mean just the last few weeks since this new administration has come in, the tone has not really been a good one that Mexicans have taken in.

You've got Trump that made some controversial remarks during the campaign. Then you have the back and forth and the Twitter war with Pena Nieto as well as Trump on the visit for the president to the U.S.

So the tone, immigration as well as trade, NAFTA that free trade deal between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., are expected to be the crux of the conversation.

KEILAR: All right, we will wait along with you, Leyla, and see. I'm assuming they will touch on all of those things. It's been contentious to say the least here in recent conversations between the two nations so we're watching.

And here now to discuss more, we have Republican congressman from Arizona, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, Congressman Trent Franks. Thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.

REPRESENTATIVE TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: Thank you. KEILAR: So you are looking at what's going on here, sort of on both sides of the border, we have Speaker Ryan leading this Republican delegation to Texas as you have U.S. officials over in Mexico as well, but this is about the cost of the wall along the border. The price tag has been estimated as being very high. What are your thoughts on that?

[11:05:09]FRANKS: Well, you know, Brianna, I stood behind George Bush in Scottsdale, Arizona many years ago when he signed the first bill to build a wall on the border of Mexico. So this is not a new issue. It's been around a long time. There are a lot of different discussions about the cost and even the comprehensive nature of the wall, exactly what parts would be built where and what would be the construction architecture, all of those things.

So it's hard for me to know exactly what the cost would be. I can say to you that Israel has demonstrated, we used their example a lot, they've demonstrated the efficacy of a barrier, a physical barrier. But I think the bigger picture here is that, as a group of nations, we need to understand that America is the world's flagship of freedom and if we don't have a secure border that hurts everyone in the long run.

KEILAR: But what do you do if it costs -- I mean, if this costs dozens of billions of dollars? I hear you saying maybe part of it is a fence, part of it is a wall, there's going to be a barrier, but this comes in a steep cost. And obviously Republicans want to go back, many of them, I'm assuming you do, to their fiscally conservative roots. What do you do about that cost?

FRANKS: Well, you know, I haven't changed my mind about being physically conservative, and I appreciate the assumption that it turns out this time it was correct. But the reality, Brianna, is that we have to measure all of the costs, ancillary and otherwise, and make the best decision that we can.

I can suggest to you that there are national security implications here for a porous border. We sometimes used to make the point that if someone wanted to smuggle in a dangerous weapon, even a nuclear weapon, into America, how would they do it?

The suggestion was made, we'll simple hide it in a bale of marijuana and so the implications of a porous border have national security dimensions that are very significant and that bear a lot of conversation when we talk about costs.

KEILAR: And --

FRANKS: You know, there -- go ahead.

KEILAR: The Department of Homeland Security is trying to deal with that very issue, they have these tougher new guidelines for immigration enforcement. You're very familiar with this being from Arizona. Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement, quote, "This is a waste of limited resources, disrupts our economy, does nothing to keep us safe, and makes everyone a target, causing panic within the immigrant community." What's your reaction to what is, of course, a very hyper-partisan atmosphere around this issue?

FRANKS: Well, first, in all due deference, that sounds about like something Senator Chuck Schumer would say, to try to exaggerate the equation and to try to bring chaos to it. The bottom line is --

KEILAR: But there is panic. I'm sure you know this, being from Arizona, there is a lot of concern, and you're talking about giving local authorities expanded abilities, local law enforcement even, to essentially deport or detain. I mean, you have to admit there's a lot of concern around that.

FRANKS: But that's been -- that's been something that has been around a long time.

KEILAR: No, but these are expanded. I mean, this is different. These guidelines are different.

FRANKS: Well, part of the panic here is the media overstating and confusing some of the things that are actually happening here. If you look at what the Trump administration's actual policies are, their actual activities are --

KEILAR: No, but that's what we're doing. I mean, we're looking at --

FRANKS: -- damage to the country. I don't think the media is accurately portraying what the real situation is.

KEILAR: No, but we are. Congressman -- Congressman, you heard me describe it right there. You tell me if this is incorrect. DHS regulations that give expanded ability to local law enforcement on this issue. I mean, what is the being misrepresented about that description?

FRANKS: Well, for 50 years or more, federal law allowed people, it even required people to have documentation with them for 50 years. So all of a sudden now, when we take a closer look and we have to have local officers, local law enforcement involved, otherwise we simply don't have the reach from the federal government.

KEILAR: But you're right, it is all of a sudden, because these new -- this is a new expansion of power, of immigration enforcement power that empowers states and empowers local law enforcement. You're saying this has always been in effect but this is new, and this is additional to what was in effect.

FRANKS: I'm saying that the federal law has been in place for a long time. It's how it was enforced. I will make no argument with you that there is a different president. There's a different administration in place, and yes, the law is being more clearly enforced in the present than it was before.

[11:10:06]My contention is that before, when Barack Obama just kind of stood by and let whatever would happen, happen, that it endangered this country.

KEILAR: He deported more people than George W. Bush. FRANKS: Well -- I'm sorry, say that again.

KEILAR: He deported more people under his administration than George W. Bush did.

FRANKS: Well, I don't know what all the numbers are, but if you're suggesting --

KEILAR: I do, I'm telling you the numbers. He had 3 million something, and George W. Bush -- I am telling you the numbers, 3 million deportations, 3 million something, and George W. Bush had 2 million something.

FRANKS: So now tell me that Barack Obama was more committed to border enforcement than Donald Trump.

KEILAR: You tell me what you make of those numbers. You said he stood by -- you said he stood by. I'm just telling you the numbers of deportations.

FRANKS: I'm suggesting to you that Barack Obama's border security was something that in my judgment was dangerous to this country. I continue to stand by that, and, you know, I'm married to an immigrant wife. So this notion that everybody that is committed to border security is somehow racist or hates other people is a disgrace and it's just not true.

I'm committed to doing everything I can to see freedom for all people in the world. I want to see immigrants come here legally and be part of the greatest enterprise in freedom in the history of the world.

KEILAR: Look, I just want to be clear, Congressman.

FRANKS: -- look on this on a reasoned basis rather than what I'm seeing in this interview.

KEILAR: That was no suggestion that I was making. I'm just thinking if you're looking back at President Obama and if you do look back to George W. Bush, he proposed a comprehensive immigration plan that included what you and many Republicans would consider amnesty, but this was a comprehensive plan. You're saying Obama stood by. Sure, there was.

FRANKS: There was disagreement on that. I'm saying that there was a bill signed to build the border wall and Obama ignored that. And so there's no question in my mind about that, that all over the world, if you ask people what their assessment is of whether or not Mr. Obama was more committed to protecting America's national security, national borders, national sovereignty, there's no comparison. You know, I know that Mr. Obama is -- we're looking at the rearview mirror on his administration, but it's going to take a long time to clean up what this man perpetrated on America.

KEILAR: Then why did he have a record number of deportations?

FRANKS: Well, there are a lot of things that could add to that. If you look at how many people were coming in, if you look at what the policies among the ICE agents themselves were. But again, if you're telling the world and telling me that Barack Obama was more committed to border security than --

KEILAR: No, I'm not. I'm telling you he deported more people than George W. Bush, and he did so in a more focused way, concentrating more on criminals, and I mean, those are just the numbers. Those are the facts.

FRANKS: Well, listen, if you look at the number of criminals that came in here under Barack Obama, my office can send you some statistics that will certainly put this in perspective. And the reality is that Barack Obama saw a lot of undocumented immigrants not as people trying to come in and find freedom but as unregistered Democrats.

I know those are strong words, but unfortunately they have the tragic disadvantage of being true. This president has a different view of that. That doesn't mean there won't be disagreements among the Republican Party about the specifics.

But right now what I see Donald Trump doing is emphasizing America's national security, emphasizing border patrol. It's been said a thousand times, in order to -- if you have a patient coming into the emergency room, you have to stop the bleeding before you can do the other kinds of surgery.

KEILAR: Congressman Franks, we appreciate you being with us to discuss this. I am going to be looking for those statistics that you promised as well as what you said about unregistered Democrats. I'll be put that up on Twitter, just to make sure so we can continue this conversation on social media.

FRANKS: My promise is to send you statistics related to criminal aliens under the Obama administration.

KEILAR: And compared to the Bush administration, all right? So we'll see that.

FRANKS: I won't make any promises. You're making the comparisons. I'll send the statistics and let your people make their own decisions.

KEILAR: You're saying more people came in. So your only comparison --

FRANKS: No, you said that.

KEILAR: No, you said that. You said more criminals.

FRANKS: I'm saying that Barack Obama's --

KEILAR: OK. You send me that. I'll compare it to the past and we'll see if there is a trend because that's obviously -- we need to compare some apples to apple.

FRANKS: I appreciate your analysis. KEILAR: Thank you, sir. I do appreciate it as well. Thank you, Congressman Franks.

We have this just in to CNN, Ivanka Trump is watching arguments today at the Supreme Court. The first daughter is visiting at the invitation of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Ivanka even brought her daughter along with her.

[11:15:13]CNN Supreme Court reporter, Ariane de Vogue is joining us now. This is fascinating to watch us play out today. Tell us about this invitation, Ariane.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, the president's daughter was there to hear a very important death penalty opinion that was read by Chief Justice John Roberts, and then very technical argument. She was sitting in the VIP section next to her little girl, who was wearing a red coat and was kind of squirming a little bit, these arguments were very technical.

The PIO said she was a guest of Justice Anthony Kennedy who she met apparently at the inaugural luncheon. There she was in the VIP section on a quiet day as far as arguments are concerned.

KEILAR: Very interesting. All right, we'll keep an eye on the Supreme Court for us, but certainly a fun little field trip today and a very important decision as well. Ariane de Vogue at the Supreme Court, thank you.

Facing the heat, one Republican lawmaker speaks with a fiery crowd after saying, quote, "women are in my grill no matter where I go." We're going to talk to him, next.

Plus they wanted her to lose, that is what Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman claims about, quote, "forces in the FBI." But does he have any evidence to back that up?

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[11:20:32]

KEILAR: New allegations of election sabotage, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman, claiming that the FBI may have contributed to Clinton losing the election deliberately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a theory of the case that Comey wanted Trump to win, that the FBI wanted Trump to win. There's got to be some theories here.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CHAIRMAN HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: I think there's sort of two possibilities. There are at least forces within the FBI that wanted her to lose. I'm not sure they were prepared -- they really understood the alternative, but they wanted her to lose. I think that's one possibility. I think the other, it's become a cover your ass organization and there was pressure coming up from underneath him and he succumbed to that pressure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Let's bring in David Catanese, a senior politics writer for "U.S. News & World Report," and Molly Hemingway, a senior editor for "The Federalist." David, so John Podesta is saying this. There's really no evidence to this. Is this a conspiracy theory?

DAVID CATANESE, SENIOR POLITICS WRITER, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": It is a bit of a conspiracy theory, but it's one that the Clinton campaign has propagated since basically a week after the election. It pointed at Comey over and over. But let's say John Podesta is correct, let's say there were forces within the FBI that wanted Hillary Clinton to lose. Let's say that is true.

We still can't say that the letter that was dropped a couple of days before the election cost her the 80,000 votes that she came up short in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Even in one of the after election panel, Mandy Grumwald, one of top Clinton advisers, said, that look, you can pick from an array of reasons why we lost this election.

There's a bunch of reasons, you can blame the Russians, you can say we didn't go into Michigan soon enough, you can cite the Comey letter, but there's no way to prove that one thing cost Clinton the election.

KEILAR: Molly, what do you think?

MOLLY HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE FEDERALIST": I think if you don't want to have a candidate who's embroiled in shenanigans with the FBI, you don't nominate someone who's under FBI investigation, I actually think that it was the July situation where Comey let her off the hook for things that other people have gone to prison for.

People like Christian (inaudible) was sentenced to prison for having photos of a submarine on his cellphone. That that actually put into the race quite a bit of energy and opposition, people felt like the FBI was not holding her accountable for what she had done and it made them feel like they had to hold her accountable through the electoral process.

So I actually think that was at least as important as what happened in October. Remember, Comey did promise that if anything else happened in the investigation, he would let Congress know. He did this on the record. He did it publicly. This was not a whisper campaign.

This was just following what he promised he would do and remember, we only had this reopening of the investigation because Huma Abedin didn't reveal that there were these e-mails on her -- shared or husband's laptop and he was embroiled in a separate investigation.

KEILAR: She may or may not have known that, but it was the Anthony Weiner case that they found that. You're exactly right, that was why they reopened it. Molly, what do you think about Donald Trump tweeting this morning, "One thing I will say about Keith Ellison in his fight to lead the DNC is that he was the one who predicted early that I would win." How does that endorsement ring for Keith Ellison as he's trying to head up the DNC and have the debate?

HEMINGWAY: Donald Trump is not wrong. I think we've all seen the clip where Keith Ellison predicted Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination and people laughed at him. I think that this is both why -- you know, Republicans obviously want Keith Ellison to be the leader. They think that would be good for them.

They think he's so extreme, his trouble with various anti-Jewish situations they think they can exploit, but it's also true that he understands the situation in the country better than a lot of Democratic operatives do and so it is the ultimate troll from President Trump that he would use his Twitter to feed into this narrative.

KEILAR: It sure is. I mean, David, when you look at that, is part of this in line with what we're seeing, for instance, from Mitch McConnell and congressional Republicans who say, yes, Elizabeth Warren is the voice of the Democratic Party. They want to ostracize some more moderate Democrats that may honestly have cost Hillary Clinton the election?

CATANESE: Absolutely. I think the Republicans would prefer Keith Ellison because they think he is more an advocate on the left so they can paint the whole party on the left.

[11:25:02]One of the tales that recently occurred -- yesterday, the RNC put out an oppo hit against Tom Perez, one of the frontrunners for the DNC and Ellison's opponent. So they would rather I think it be Ellison than Perez. Then again, I think Trump sort of getting behind Ellison, if you're a DNC member, that probably does not help Ellison in the end.

KEILAR: Maybe he should you have said Tom Perez is the bomb or something, right? He has some labor roots, maybe that's someone that Donald Trump doesn't want to be dealing with as well. David, Molly, thank you so much to both of you. Really appreciate it.

And we do have a reminder that the "Democratic Leadership Debate" is on tonight. That's going to be live at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.

In just minutes, President Trump will meet with his secretary of state. But while they are talking, the very department that Rex Tillerson is in charge of is silent.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't mind boisterous. I'm having fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Having fun? Well, one Republican faces a fiery crowd for more than an hour. We'll to talk to him about what it was like, next.

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