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235,000 Jobs Added In February, CBP Says Illegal Border Crossings Down 40 Percent Last Month; Today is Trump's 50th Day In Office; New Immigration Policy Will Be "Fundamentally" Same; Clinton Wants "Simple, Personal Decency" Back In Politics. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:03] MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, at some point, you can only go so far with executive orders. And I think that's why the Obamacare battle, again, the fact that it's taking so much longer than people thought initially is going to be problematic if it drives on and prevents other legislative actions from being taken.

DANA BASH, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Before we continue to talk about this, you mentioned a data point. Well, the good news for the president is that the numbers are good today. The bad news is that we all have sound bites from what candidate Trump said about the credibility of these very numbers that he's touting.



DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Right now, we have a false 5.4, 5.3, 5.6, every month is different. It is such a phony number. I hear 5.3 percent unemployment. That is the biggest joke there is in this country. That number is so false.

The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics.


BASH: I was going to say, since you heckled me, I'm going to Ryan first.


RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: Well, look, I was going to say that I was -- you took the words out of my mouth before you showed those clips. He ginned up a conspiracy theory about how the Bureau of Labor Statistics arrives at those numbers. And look --

BASH: And by the way he's not only conservative here.

LIZZA: Look, and I wish to give him some, you know, some due here that there is this argument about the labor participation rate and how many people have dropped out.

MARTIN: On what he's saying about.

LIZZA: On what he's saying. But, you know, with a lot of things that are exaggerated and not true there's, you know, there's often some kernel of truth very, you know, deep below the surface of what he's talking about. But it was an interesting question for the White House Press Secretary today, whenever the next briefing is. Does he still believe that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is faking these numbers?

MARTIN: Right. But, I mean like so much else for President Trump you can go back either in his Twitter feed or in the vesting in that archives that you just pulled from. And find literally contradictory information or quote on pretty much every policy issue there is under the sun. I mean, it's possible to go back and find something that contradicts what he's saying in the present they said last year or five years ago or 10 years ago.

LEE: But not that he gets flustered in his own past words. I mean, he's been in the situation before.

MARTIN: He moves on battle.

LEE: He's totally move on.

KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHINGTON POST: He's made the Bureau of Labor Statistics great again.

BASH: All right, let's turn now to another very important campaign rhetoric issue for President Trump and that, of course, was immigration. He talked a lot about building a wall. He talked a lot about tightening the border. He hasn't been able to do. I mean, he did through executive order, but obviously no legislation has come through and certainly that wall is not being built.

But, I want you guys to look at these statistics from the Department of Homeland Security on border crossings. It's kind of hard to see, but you get the gist of the line going down. Down, I believe it's about 40 percent, when in the last couple months since President Trump has been in office. And so the question is, whether or not it's just his rhetoric that has scared people off? Or, you know, but it is a remarkable turn in the statistics.

TUMULTY: And usually this is tied to economic factors, you know. How strong the pull of jobs is on this side of the border? And how well the economy is doing on the other? But, it is hard to imagine that the kind of rhetoric and the kind of developments that we have seen over the past month wouldn't be playing of --

MARTIN: Absolutely.

TUMULTY: -- some kind of role in depressing people's desire to try to come over.

MARTIN: It was already low. I mean, net migration from Mexico was basically zero last year, which is why it was so ironic that Trump made the big issue. So, it was already low, but there's no question that this is sort of chilling up the immigration. By the way, the Bannon wing of the administration is very excited about that chart.

BASH: I'm sure.

MARTIN: Jeff Sessions, the A.G. with Trump, again, yesterday.

BASH: Yeah.

MARTI: Very, very thrilled about this development.

LIZZA: And doesn't have any implications for the pressure on him to build the wall to get that, you know, funding through Congress. Does it change their view in any way about whether --

MARTIN: He's already working.


BASH: Yeah, exactly

LIZZA: -- is already working.

BASH: (Inaudible) he's working, that's what they're saying. Before we go to break, I want to show everybody the latest "Time Magazine" cover, your former employee -- employer and a very important publication for the president. He probably is very happy with this cover. You can see there, it is Trump's war on Washington with the broken Washington monument and, of course, him holding his phone tweeting in his hands.

MARTIN: In a long time.

BASH: In a long time. That's the difference. Lots of fashion conversation during the break. But as we talk more about being the halfway mark of his 100 days -- first 100 days in office, that is true. He is certainly scrambling things in this town more than we've ever seen, at least in modern times.

[12:35:03] LEE: And he has loved that image, because so much of what how he sort of judges himself and looks at the way in which others are perceiving him is about image, right? And that image of him being so tall and so big and so ground, but he's literally standing next to the monument. I mean, that's a cover that he's definitely going to like.

LIZZA: And I have to say, this is the kind of cover that drives Democrats in the left crazy.

BASH: Yeah.

LIZZA: Because they see this as the media framing Trump as this disruptor. This is a -- let's be honest. This is a week when the President of the United States accused the former president of illegally tapping his phone. And then, you know, that's the cover on "Time Magazine". So, I think this is the kind of thing where a lot of --

MARTIN: (Inaudible) his rules, basically. BASH: Yes.

MARTIN: Exactly, exactly.

LIZZA: No, for framing him in the way he wants to be framed despite, you know, some of the outrageous things.

BASH: And really quickly before we go to break, what's his obsession with "Time Magazine"? Do you think it's just because it was the publication of the, sort of '80s and -- '60s, '70s and '80s when he was younger?


LIZZA: No, I think he's making a comeback.

TUMULTY: I think its score keeping. And he had boasted that he's had more covers than anybody else in history. That he is way behind a lot of other people, including Richard Nixon, but it's the way he keeps score.

BASH: And by the way, I'm not trying to ditch "Time Magazine". We all love "Time Magazine". We want all publications and newspaper, magazine -- keep buying them. Keep buying them, folks.

And up next, did his lawyers fix the glitches? The president's new travel ban is set to take effect next week, but already facing court battles.


[12:41:03] BASH: And you're looking at live pictures of the White House briefing room. We are waiting for Sean Spicer to give his daily press briefing and that is going to happen live on CNN, so don't go away. When that starts, we'll bring it to you.

But as we were talking about, it is March 10th, which means we are halfway through the traditional benchmark period of every modern day president, the so-called first 100 days. And for President Trump, the first 50 days have been a bit bumpy in his transition governing from firing his national security advisor to sending controversial tweets to having to redo his executive order banning immigration from six countries.

Now, here's how one of his White House advisors, one of the key authors of that travel ban described "Travel Ban Part II."


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE POLICY ADVISER: Fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you're going to be response to a lot of very technical issues that were brought up by the court and those will be addressed. But in terms of protecting the country, those basic policies are still going to be in effect.


BASH: MJ, change -- what change? There's no change.

LEE: Yeah. And you think about the first travel ban and in the scope of the first 50 days, obviously that first travel ban was one of the biggest mistest (ph) and problematic areas for this administration. I think it showed two things.

One, just a fundamental lack of understanding about how Washington works, the need to be in touch with Congress with different agencies and clearly with the second one there trying to remedy that and do it in a better way.

And second, I think the first travel ban clearly showed that Trump and his top officials were eager to make a mark as quickly as possible and that's why they moved so quickly on something that a lot of people, including Republican, said was not going to work.

LIZZA: It's not just technical changes from that one travel ban to this. I mean, the court knocked them back on two major constitutional issues, right? One, was the Trump administration just said it's not reviewable. You use --

BASH: Right.

LIZZA: Federal courts can't even look at this. Will they laugh at that? But, then, the more important one -- maybe not more important, but the other one was this establishment clause issue, right? Remember, this started as a Muslim ban and then it turned into a travel ban from seven countries, but they had language in the first one that said that Christian minorities would take precedence.

The court looked at that and said, well, you got to -- there's a serious establishment clause issue. They didn't decide on the merits. But, it was clearly -- they were concerned that that was left over from when this was described as a Muslim ban and they took that out. That's not in the current one, which is why I think a lot of legal scholars think that this one is more bullet-proof when they go to court. But by getting on T.V. and saying, "Oh this one is no different."

MARTIN: Yeah, right.

LIZZA: The lawyers who are challenging this are going to court and say, "Wait a second, they're doing it again."

MARTIN: And they are. They are.

BASH: OK. So, you mentioned that maybe it's different or at least different enough on the policy. But, the optics and the way that they rolled this out was very, very different, starting with the fact that he had his national security team, at least the top tier in place including the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

But, Jonathan Martin, he is not exactly the visible -- sort of former CEO taking the world by storm Secretary of State that maybe -- we thought he was going to be. He's actually about to go on an Asian trip and he's not even being in the press core.

MARTIN: Yeah. This is not the Henry Kissinger model, that's for sure.

BASH: Right.

MARTIN: No "Time" covers Rick Tillerson, speaking with "Time" covers. Look, Trump clearly wants a small circle of folks around him and who are running all facets of government. And, look, I think foreign leaders read the clips. They read the stories that are talking about just that.

And so if you are, let say the foreign minister of Mexico and you say, "Oh, actually in this White House, Jared Kushner, the president's son- in-law, he's got the real power and the real juice." Well, what are you going to do? You're going to go to what you perceive as the real authority, not go to whatever the ostensible, you know, bureaucratic titled figure is. You're going to try to go to a person who actually has the ear of the leader, this is what countries do.

[12:45:07] They try to figure out who actually is in charge so that they can take their case to the power center. And that's why you see Tillerson being bypassed in this case by the Mexican foreign minister. And, also, I think it's because Tillerson himself is just not comfortable with the press.

How many times, Dana, have we seen candidates for governor or for Senate who are millionaires in private life get into politics --

BASH: That's true.

MARTIN: -- and then suddenly the scrutiny is overwhelming.

BASH: That's very true.

MARTIN: Because in business, you don't have the press coming into your suit and demand a question of you. This is a whole new experience for him.

BASH: OK. I want to play for you all a clip of from Bill Clinton who is actually speaking out rare speech yesterday. And, I just want you to listen to what he says and that we can figure out how to dissect it afterwards.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER USA PRESIDENT: This is a global deal. It's like we're all having an identity crisis at once. What happened 20 years ago is a microcosm of what is coming full bloom across the world today. And these things are going to have to be worked out.


BASH: So, he was also talking about the idea of bringing simple personal decency and trust back to our politics. I don't know, I just think that Bill Clinton talking about the need to bring personal decency back to politics is interesting.

TUMULTY: Well, he's also talking about a world that is very different than the world looked when he was president.

BASH: That's true.

TUMULTY: You do have countries around the world sort of pulling back within their borders. Bill Clinton was president at a time of, you know, expanding trade of, you know, globalism. It is a very, very different climate.

LIZZA: Is it chastened globalist, right? I mean --

MARTIN: You're talking Bush's boat (ph), right?

LIZZA: This is someone who -- like a lot of us, let's be frank, look at Brexit and said, "Well, maybe that's just one off." Look at Trump and said, "Well, he can't thrive in the current environment in American politics and nobody was defeated more than Clinton." So, you would guess he's spent a lot of time thinking about this, watching what's going on in Europe and this wave has not crested yet.

BASH: We have to take a break, but as we do, do you guys remember that movie "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow.


BASH: It's like this is what the world would be like if I went this way. And, OK, we just learned what the world would look like on Capitol Hill if Hillary Clinton would have won, and that is Nancy Pelosi announced, but she would have retired if Hillary Clinton won.

So, take a lot of Democrats in the House that are below her and thinking, "Oh, that was finally would have been my chance to move up."


BASH: And she obviously felt that it would be good for her to leave if there was a female in the White House, that didn't happen. She's still there.


BASH: OK. The Republican healthcare plan could have end up costing them big in 2018, reporters will empty their notebooks next.


[12:52:30] BASH: Let's head around the "Inside Politics" table now and ask our reporters to get you ahead of the big political news that's just around the corner. Ryan?

LIZZA: You know, in January, Donald Trump told Karen's Newspaper in an interview about his health care plan that he was finishing -- putting the finishing touches on a health care plans that would provide, "insurance for everybody". And he laid down a challenge to the conservative movement and said there were some people in the movement that thought, you know, if you can't pay for it, we won't help you. But that's not the kind of system he wanted.

Well, one, we never saw that plan. Two, the plan that he did back doesn't cover everybody. And he hasn't endorsed the plan that is sort of in the mainstream of the conservative movement. And I think going forward, the question about Donald Trump, how he interjects himself in this healthcare debate is does he resort back to any of those sort of instincts he had previously when he was for single payer and he was more generous policy. Does he weigh in or does he stick with the right way he has this -- over last this week?

BASH: One of the good questions. MJ?

LEE: That Republican Obamacare bill is not on the House floor yet, but Democrats are already starting to figure out looking at the map how to use that bill to win over seats in the House. The (inaudible) is that there are about a dozen Republicans in the committees that actually voted this week during the mark-ups, the Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means, but they view as possible pickups or at the very least competitive.

And I just want to point out the ironic thing about this is that this House bill could not actually -- could end up actually not getting through the Senate, meaning that it could be watered down, some controversial provisions could be taken out. So, that means that there were a bunch of House Republicans that took votes this week on provisions that actually may not even end up in the final bill.

BASH: Karen?

TUMULTY: I am wondering, what happened to the deficit? The holy grail of issues for the Republicans and President Trump's last speech -- this last week, he didn't even say the word, deficit. He mentioned the federal debt only once and that was to, you know, complain that Obama had exploded it.

But, we saw the health care bill go into committee without even preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office this week. And as Congress now moves into tax reform, I'm wondering if there's going to be any chance that this does anything but explode the deficit.

BASH: They're not the only one, talked to the conservatives of the Freedom Caucus.

MARTIN: Well, Paul Ryan has his share of GOP critics, as we all know, and they were coming out this week talking to folks. In this part of it, they say that Ryan has not adapted to the job and they point the rollout of this health care bill.

[12:55:14] They say, "By having two committee chairmen, we're fairly obscure to most Americans." Don't go on Fox News and then, next day do an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" was more reminiscent how Ryan used he should do his budget blue print rollouts when President Obama was president. And there's more of an arcade inside the issue. These critics say, "Where was the east wing ceremony? Where was President Trump from day one making this -- his bill and owning this thing, because if it does pass, it's going to be because Trump himself comes in and says to the conservatives, you're with me or against me?" And that's not how this thing was launched this week. To borrow a phrase, it was not done very big league.

BASH: Jonathan Martin, Karen Tumulty, MJ Lee and Ryan Lizza, thank you so much for the great discussion and have a great weekend.

Thanks for joining us on "Inside Politics." Wolf Blitzer is up next.