Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Vows Wall Will Happen; Trump Tours Hurricane Damage; Trump Base Explodes. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 14, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:12] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And so we begin. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me here on this Thursday.

As the president tours hurricane ravaged Florida, he is getting battered himself, not by protestors, not by Democrats, but by a big part of his own base. They are calling his latest agreement with Democrats a betrayal while he's hailing it as bipartisan.

This is all coming after this White House dinner, Chinese and chocolate cake, with Democratic leaders, both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The three of them say they agreed to move forward on DACA. This is the program that allows undocumented immigrants who entered as children to remain in the U.S.

But the key question, one of them, is at what cost? Both Pelosi and Schumer say DACA will not be linked to border wall funding. And at one point today, the president seemed to be on board with that, talking about paying for the wall, you know, down the world at some later date.

But then later, he repeated at least four times, there will be nothing on DACA unless he gets the wall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's very important is the wall to me. We have to know that the wall will not be obstructed because without the wall I wouldn't do anything.

We also have to get the wall. It doesn't have to be here, but they can't obstruct the wall, whether it's in a budget or something else when we're ready for that funding.

We have to have a wall. If the wall is going to be obstructed, when we need the funds at a little bit later date, we'll be determining how much we need, then we're not doing anything.

We'll only do it if we get extreme security, if we get not only surveillance but everything that goes along with surveillance. And ultimately we have to have the wall. If we don't have the wall, we're doing nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's begin with Jeff Zeleny, our CNN senior White House correspondent.

And, Jeff, I have read all the guidance, the different iterations of messaging. I'm confused. What's the deal?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, it's interesting. The president right there was speaking in Florida when he arrived to look at the damage from Hurricane Irma. But before leaving the White House here earlier this morning, he made clear that it, indeed in principle at least, he has -- is moving toward an agreement reached with Democrats after that dinner last night to move forward on DACA. He said 92 percent of the public supports, you know, the idea of keeping these young dreamers here, those young, undocumented immigrants. And he said clearly, the wall will come later. But by the time he reached Florida, a couple of hours later, hearing all the blowback from conservatives after talking to Speaker Ryan and others, he made clear that, look, the wall will still be part of it.

So, Brooke, what is actually happening here is the president, once again, is going forward and he wants to get something done. He is reaching at least the broad outlines of a deal with Democrats and they have agreed to do some type of, in their words, massive security bill along the border, but not including a wall in this dreamer legislation, and then a wall -- some type of a wall or funding would come later here.

But, Brooke, this has inspired and sparked outrage for many conservative Republicans, including Congressman Steve King from Iowa. Take a listen to what he said earlier today on "NEW DAY."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Because the base will leave him. They won't be able to defend him anymore. I support Donald Trump's campaign agenda. I support the agenda that he had when he was sworn into office. And I support almost every piece of the rest of his agenda, except this amnesty piece that's being dangled out in front of America right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: But, Brooke, when you break this down a little bit more, there are Republicans on Capitol Hill we have talked to who frankly are not that enthused about a wall as much as hard liners like Steve King. The reality is, the wall is going to be much more like a fence in some areas, other parts are not going to have a wall at all because of the rocky conditions and other things there.

So the president, we are told, is prioritizing the DACA, the dreamers. He does want to get something done on that. Yes, that puts him at odds with some of his supporters here, but he believes the rank and file members of his base, not necessarily the talk radio hosts or people like Steve King will stick with him here. But, Brooke, we are seeing in real time play out the -- a new strategy

here. The president trying to break some gridlock here doing so by breaking bread with Democrats, as he did last night, and Republicans, in some respects, are rushing to come along and get caught up with him, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And others are not that enthused, to put it nicely as you did.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

We'll talk about the ramifications of the base in a second.

I've got Mark Preston waiting in the wings. Let me bring him in, CNN's senior political analyst.

And so, Mark Preston, you know, just again, going back over the day.

So you wake up this morning. You read the president's Twitter feed. You know, initially claiming no such deal was made. Tweeting that the wall is actually already under construction.

Then on his way to Florida, he said something will happen regarding a deal and that the, quote, wall will come later.

[14:05:05] Then he goes to Florida, quote, the wall to me is vital, all the while expressing support for the 800,000 dreamers. You know, and the White House, meantime, is claiming his is not at all considering amnesty.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Although he -- although one of his spokespeople did say that they wouldn't use the word amnesty, Brooke. They did put it on the table that perhaps some of these dreamers, when they were going down to Florida, could perhaps get citizenship.

But this is just another day in the Trump White House where we hear one message from him one hour, a different message the next hour.

BALDWIN: Is -- as far -- Zeleny was eluding to this, the non-enthused folks. The president's base.

PRESTON: Right.

BALDWIN: How swift have the threats been from them today?

PRESTON: Well, they certainly have been from the loudest ones. Steve King, the Iowa congressman, no surprise, he's a hardliner when it comes to immigration. Breitbart, the conservative news website, which is being led by his former senior adviser, Steve Bannon, was very critical of him, as we have seen from other conservative outlets.

And I think we've got to be careful not to put too much stock into how much power they have over the president's agenda. As we know from President Trump, in his actions so far in office, he's going to walk to the beat of his own drummer. And I don't think that the pressure from the likes of Breitbart are necessarily going to knock him off balance from what he's trying to do.

BALDWIN: I hear you on that, but I think there's a bigger question as far as, you know, what does it say about America, or maybe more appropriately Congress, that it is so divided that the notion of, you know, working with the other side of the aisle results in an explosion of, you know, we're going to abandon you.

PRESTON: Yes, no doubt. And, look, Donald Trump has won himself no favors so far working with Congress. He's been highly critical of Republican -- the Republican leaders in Congress. He's been highly critical of Democrats, other than the past week where we've seen him working with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

But the fact of the matter is, you can't get anything done in Washington unless you do have some compromise. And when you have compromise, both people need to walk away from the table a little unsatisfied. That's what happens when Washington works correctly.

BALDWIN: You mentioned Nancy Pelosi. We know she was part of that dinner last night over at the White House. You did your Sirius XM radio show. You interviewed her, which will air this weekend, and she talked about how the president is learning about the way things work. Here's a piece.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump is, I think, understanding better that it isn't just what the president says and then Congress -- this is not a parliamentary system, that the prime minister says something and then his party endorses it. This is a presidential system. So I think he's learning now that he not only has to reach out to -- across the aisle, but he has to have the votes on his own side. And that's a -- something that is, I think, quite obvious. But presidents in the White House don't always see that as clearly right from the start.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I mean, to her point, Mark, about what he's learning now. To me it seems like there is a big story, too, in how maybe the last two weeks there has been this strategy shift that, you know, he's sick of the last eight months and no major, you know, wins legislatively. And so he's thinking, all right, I want to get something done. And if I have to do it, and do it with Democrats, I'm going to do that.

PRESTON: And he's going to do that. If anything we know about Donald Trump, he's an opportunist. He wants wins.

Now, if you take a step back and, as you said, look at what has happened the first eight months of his term in office, a very embarrassing defeat on repealing and replacing Obamacare. The courts have snubbed him when it comes to trying to put in place a travel ban. We have seen the West Wing basically turn over entirely at this point.

Donald Trump needs to get some wins. And you have to wonder, is he now looking at Democrats saying, I can't get it done with my Republicans, can I just get it done with my Democrats? And the most important thing there that I think Nancy Pelosi said is that ideas are important but they don't win the day. Votes win the day. And in the end you need 218 votes in the House to get anything done.

BALDWIN: Yes, it does feel like a bit of a sea change out of Washington in the last little bit.

Mark Preston, thank you very much.

Talking about the president. President Trump and the first lady, they are now en route back to their home in Washington, D.C., after getting a firsthand look at the destruction in the wake of Irma down in Florida, specifically visiting Ft. Myers and Naples and meeting with hurricane victims.

And our senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt, is live for us right now in Ft. Myers.

We see the plane over your shoulder. Maybe they haven't left quite yet. Tell me about that visit.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, the president has left, you're absolutely right, along with the first lady a short time ago. This is actually Air Force Two, the vice president's plane. So we imagine he'll be taking back off for Washington in due course.

The trip to Naples, you're right, he made two stops. He stopped here in Ft. Myers for a briefing with officials and to meet with local responders and other emergency services before heading down to Naples, which, of course, was one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Irma here on the southwest coast. It took a ten-minute short chopper ride in Marine One and he would have seen some incredible devastation on his way down.

[14:10:15] We were in an area yesterday called Bonita Springs, which has been flooded. No power. People have had to leave their homes.

Now, remember, a lot of people are -- were relieved at the -- that the winds weren't as strong as they were originally thought to be. So a lot of the homes were not damaged. But a lot of the mobile home parks were. Not just flooded, but damaged severely. And so we did see the president and his large entourage go down to a mobile home park in Naples. He and the vice president served lunch to many of the residents there. He spoke with the residents.

And you have to imagine, you know, this is what president's do in the wake of natural disasters like this. They visit the sights. They talk with the people. The president had come under a lot of criticism in the wake of Hurricane Harvey because of his first trip down to Corpus Christi in Texas he did not do that.

I imagine here one of the major questions that he and his entourage were probably getting, when is the power coming back on? Millions upon millions have lost power in Florida and in the southeast in the wake of Hurricane Irma. President Trump, upon arriving here at Fort Myers, did praise the Florida power company saying that they are making great progress.

Indeed, they are. We've got a chart that is updated several times a day and we have watched the number of people without power decrease dramatically. But there's still some 2.5 million customers without power. And so a lot of those folks are wondering when their power is going to come back on.

And I just got a text message from someone in Sarasota saying that he didn't even know that the president was here in Florida because he doesn't have any power.

Brooke.

BALDWIN: Oh, I cannot imagine. I mean let me just repeat that number, that is massive, 2.5 million people. And there are priorities, as far as getting the power back on, it's going to take a little while, as we've been hearing.

Alex Marquardt, in front of Air Force Two, thank you very much.

Coming up here, sort of back on what we were just talking about at the top of the show, is the president at risk of losing his base over making deals with Democrats, especially a deal that doesn't involve the wall? We're going to talk to two Republicans and get their take on President Trump's strategic shift.

And, question, do you trust the president? How Nancy Pelosi answered that question today after her dinner at the White House last night.

And honeymoon phase over? Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin under new scrutiny for requesting a government jet for his honeymoon European vacation. His explanation as some accuse him of just being downright tone deaf.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:17:16] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you trust the president of the United States and should the dreamers trust him?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Now is that a fair question?

QUESTION: Sure.

QUESTION: Absolutely.

PELOSI: The -- when we're talking about the -- this legislation to protect the dreamers, yes, I do trust that the president is sincere in understanding that the public supports -- that overwhelmingly the public supports not sending these young people back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Here she is, the top Democrat in the House reaching across party lines once again to work with President Trump, this go round on DACA, the program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as kids.

Of course, the president's base, as we've been discussing, totally exploding over some of the headlines coming out of last night's White House dinner between Trump and Leader Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

One of those conservatives is with me now, syndicated talk show host Steve Deace, and also with me CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson, who is host of "The Ben Ferguson Show."

So, gentlemen, welcome, welcome.

And, Steve, you first.

You know, the president is claiming no such deal was made. He tweeted this morning that the wall is already under construction. Different -- you're seeing some of the tweets on your screen. My question to you, deal, no deal, semi-deal, definitely no deal, not amnesty? Which is it?

STEVE DEACE, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Yes, Brooke. Yes.

BALDWIN: The answer is yes?

DEACE: It's never -- the answer is -- whatever -- whatever Mr. Trump's ego thinks it needs to be today, tomorrow, whatever he needs to do to get positive media headlines to get somebody to adore him, to love him. It's -- you know, his new BFFs, Chuck and Nancy, I would urge them -- far be it for them to take advice from me, Brooke, but I would urge them, after the last two years of what we on the right have seen, tread very carefully with Donald Trump. As Confucius once said, man who lay down with dogs wake up with flees.

BALDWIN: Quoting Confucius within the first minute of coming on my show.

Ben Ferguson, I see that big old grin. What are you thinking?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. No, look, you know, let's be clear of what Donald Trump's having to deal with. First off, this is an issue that even conservatives, 67 percent of conservatives say that they do think that those that were brought here as children should have some pathway to citizenship.

Let's also be clear, the same group of conservatives demand a wall and voted for Donald Trump for that wall. So the president's got an issue here where he can reach across the aisle on DACA in general, but he has to produce on the wall, otherwise he's going to be in a significant amount of trouble with the base.

I also think the president actually here is being pretty smart to let it be known clearly to Mitch McConnell and to the majority leader, Paul Ryan, that I'm not going to sit around for another six months and get nothing done.

[14:20:07] BALDWIN: I mean to that point --

FERGUSON: The Republican leadership have been terrible to deal with, so why not have dinner with Nancy and see if there's anything that you might be able to agree on that also your base agrees on. And a lot of conservatives have compassion for children that were brought here at a young age who have grope up in this country.

BALDWIN: Steve, Ben made the point for me. I mean, can you blame the guy for wanting to work with Democrats? I mean he hasn't been getting anything done in his own party?

DEACE: I don't blame a guy that for 60 years, prior to 2011, spent his entire life as a Democrat, supporting Democratic causes, being a product of the Democrat media, sitting there in Democratic New York City. I mean, water, eventually, Brooke, returns to its own level.

So I'm not shocked by this. You know, a wise man once said in a bestselling book, the dog returns to its own vomit, and that's exactly what you're seeing right now. He's much more at home with the people like this.

You know, when I was fighting for things like rule of law and border security, Trump was cutting checks to people like Pelosi, Schumer and Al Sharpton. So, you know, eventually what Trump is proving is, you can go home again.

BALDWIN: Um --

FERGUSON: Let me say this. There's also another very wise man by the name of Ronald Reagan who once said, you do a deal with people that agree with you on certain issues and sometimes that might be people that aren't necessarily with you on Election Day. That was Ronald Reagan who talked about bipartisanship. When you have 67 percent of conservatives who say that they have no problem with having something done on DACA, as long as border security comes with it, you're not laying down with a dog getting fleas, Steve.

I mean this is -- take Donald Trump's name out of it for a second. This is an issue that a lot of conservatives have compassion on and do want there to be a final say so on this. Instead of it being open ended and having this, let's kick the can down the road. A lot of people that voted for Donald Trump voted for him because they thought, finally this is someone who can get something done. If you can't get it done with Republicans, you'll have just as many flees.

DEACE: That's not why they voted for him. It's not why they voted for him. They didn't vote for him to get something done, Ben.

FERGUSON: Well, I mean --

BALDWIN: Go ahead. Go ahead, Steve.

DEACE: They voted for him to get what they wanted done.

FERGUSON: But a lot of them did.

DEACE: Here's what they -- here's what they want done, Ben. Here's what they want done. All right, there is a prominent political commentator who pointed out last week, 91 percent of DACA recipients are either in a university or have a full-time job make $41,000 a year. What they would like to know is, where is the compassion for them?

FERGUSON: That's how you're in DACA.

DEACE: Why don't -- why don't they have -- how many Americans watching right now would like to have a job making $41,000 a year? How many of them would like to have their children in those slots in those universities that they're subsidizing? When he said America first, when he said he was going to put their values first, the people that have watched their jobs go overseas, or people like my own stepdad who used to not even step on a union site for more -- for less than $20 an hour and then watched his jobs go to illegals and took early retirement instead from his union, those people, they thought he meant he was going to put them first. Not, I've got to get something done first. Not the swamp first. It's not getting stuff done, it's getting what they wanted done.

FERGUSON: Let me -- let me say this.

DEACE: They didn't vote for Hillary Clinton. They voted for Donald Trump. They're Hillary Clinton's agenda.

FERGUSON: Let me say this. Steve, Steve, Steve, Steve, Steve, you have to listen to a lot of conservatives. And I respectfully disagree with you on this one. If you're a child and you were brought here and it was no choice of your own and you've been here for 10, 12, 15, 18 years, you've been here and you got in DACA --

DEACE: You're making the wrong argument, Ben. No one is -- that's not what -- Ben, where is the compassion for the Americans who don't have their jobs, Ben.

BALDWIN: Hold on. Let him finish.

FERGUSON: Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish. Listen --

DEACE: We can both play this game of -- we can both play the feckless emotion (ph) game. What about the Americans who don't have their jobs, Ben?

FERGUSON: OK, Steve, I heard you out. I heard you out. I heard you out. Steve -- Steve --

BALDWIN: Hang on, Steve, hand on.

DEACE: We can both play (INAUDIBLE) --

FERGUSON: Steve -- Steve, no, no, let me finish. Let me finish.

BALDWIN: Steve, let him -- DEACE: Ben, you should be better than that. You're a conservative talk show host with the exact same (INAUDIBLE) tactics your (INAUDIBLE) from the other side, Ben. (INAUDIBLE) chill out. That's a liberal tactic, Ben. You are a conservative talk show host, right, Ben?

FERGUSON: What -- (INAUDIBLE) talk show host. Relax. Chill out. This is not your show. Steve, this is not your show, so have a conversation.

BALDWIN: Steve.

FERGUSON: You can say this for three hours.

BALDWIN: Steve.

FERGUSON: Listen to what I'm saying. That's the rumor. Listen to what I'm saying.

BALDWIN: Steve, Steve, let him talk, please.

FERGUSON: I'm going to finish my point.

When you're a child and you are brought here from multiple countries, not just Mexico, and you're six months old, and you grow up in America, and you go through DACA, and you come forward and you say that I -- I am here. I want to play by the rules. My parents brought me here. I had nothing to do with this. There is nothing wrong with saying to those individuals, you know what, we're going to be compassionate towards you and have a pathway towards you being able to stay in this country with a lot of rules that go along with it.

Now, you're trying to say that -- I think their parents should be punished. I want to make that very clear. I'm not in favor of DACA, Steve, without there being a secure border at the same time because otherwise this will never end and we'll be doing DACA 2.0 and 3.0 and 4.0. But you can't tell me that you honestly -- I don't think you believe in your hearth that a six-month year old child who's now 18 years old, who has lived in this country his entire life, the average age of someone enrolled in DACA was six and a half years old, Steve. Where are you going to send them back to, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico? Are you going to send them back?

[14:25:09] DEACE: It's not about -- it's not -- this is the false argument. This whole a false (INAUDIBLE).

FERGUSON: It's not a false argument. It's reality.

DEACE: It's not about -- it's not about sending them back.

BALDWIN: I've got to leave it -- I've got to leave it with Ben's question. We're going to leave it.

DEACE: Where's the compassion for the parents who don't have those jobs, Ben? What would you say to the parents who don't have those jobs and their jobs were given to people here illegally? Where is the compassion for them? What would you say to them? People watching right now would like to make $41,000 a year. What would you say to them, Ben?

FERGUSON: I have compassion for both, but I always side with children first. I always side with children first, Steve. Do you have compassion for children?

BALDWIN: Gentlemen --

DEACE: Well, they would like $41,000 a year to pay for their children, Ben. What about American children who don't have -- whose parents don't have a $41,000 a year job. What would you say to them, Ben?

BALDWIN: OK, gentlemen, I feel the passion from both of your sides. Compassion from both of you. I appreciate both of you.

We've got to go. It was a hearty discussion on DACA and the other piece of the conversation is also just political strategy shifts coming out of the White House and this willingness to work with Democrats. It seems so far a number of Republicans would be in favor of helping out these 800,000. But, you know, Steve, I hear you as well.

Steve Deace and Ben Ferguson, thank you both very much.

FERGUSON: Thanks, Brooke.

DEACE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: That was a healthy, healthy one today.

Here's a question, is the president's treasury secretary tone deaf? Steve Mnuchin again in a bit of trouble for asking that he wanted to use a government jet for his honeymoon. And now new information about his other plane trips.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)