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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  February 16, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PST

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is caringing because covering heals faster. for a bandage that moves with you and stays on all day, cover with a band-aid brand flexible fabric adhesive bandage. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. >> i'm jake tapper. yet another whirlwind day at the trump white house where just minutes from now, president trump is set to announce his second nominee for secretary of the department of labor. this was supposed to be the day mr. trump's first pick for labor second, andrew puzder, finally sat for a confirmation hearing.
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but puzder pulled out over a series of controversies that turned even quite a few republican senators against him. >> this will be the president's second appearance before the white house press corps in two days. and it was announced just barely an hour or so ago. joining us now, cnn's special live coverage, white house correspondent athena jones and political director david chalian. athenna, set the stage for us. the president will come out into the east room of the white house and make his announcement for secretary of labor. will he then answer reporters' questions? >> wolf, i think that is the question of the day. not only will the president answer reporters' questions, but whose questions might he answer if he does choose to answer some questions. we've seen in recent weeks in the last several appearances before the press that the president has selected conservative or right leaning outlets to ask him questions. in that way has avoided some of the questions of the day.
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whether it was on his now former national security adviser michael flynn or on this issue of the ties or the repeated conversations at high level campaign aides and associates had with people known to russian -- known to american intelligence. these suspected russian operatives. will he get questions on that? we did hear him talk about what the white house has been choosing to focus on, which is the leaks of that information. he said again this morning in a spread we just saw. we're going to find the leakers. they're going to pay a very big price. it's clear he has something to say on it but has focusod the leak aspect and not on the substance of those leaks. wolf? >> and athena, this news conference scheduled for right at the bottom of the hour. they're calling it a news conference, not just an announcement. he'll introduce his nominee for secretary of labor. presumably we'll hear from that nominee as well? >> that's generally how these things work. that's what we expect to happen.
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sometimes things are called a news conference. it doesn't necessarily mean there will be more than a statement, but we certainly hope there will be more than just the president introducing this nominee. i believe he called him a man in that pool spray we saw in the west wing. so hopefully he'll not only announce that nominee have that nominee talk but then perhaps answer, who knows how many questions, if any. wolf? >> we'll stand by with you, athena. david chalian, this is unusual. usually just a paper statement the white house does when they issue some sort of nomination, but this is a much bigger deal right now. >> yes, and we've seen him roll out some of his nominees standing next to the person throughout the transition period. but not all of them, you're right. a lot of them were paper statements, despite the very public sort of dating process when he'd do the interviews of potential nominees. what i think is interesting to note is how quickly the white house is trying to move here.
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and, obviously, they have been battling a week of just terrible headlines from flynn to the reporting about the constant contacts of campaign associates with russians to puzder's nomination going down in flames and withdrawing that nomination. clearly trying to reverse course here, get back on track and get out. now i do think there's one question important here is how long is this person, since the puzder nomination went down yesterday, this person that's going to roll out, what has the vetting process been? part of the problem was the vetting was not completely thorough. a lot of things emerged after the nomination was announced whether about his issue with taxes, paying payroll taxes on a household employee, issues with his ex-wife and the allegations there that she later recanted and her appearance on the "oprah" show. so are they doing this almost too quickly, or is this a process that's been ongoing even
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perhaps they saw the writing on the wall with the puzder nomination and had this teed up and a fully vetted person they plan to unveil today? >> we'll get back to you, david chalian and athena jones as well. and, jake, he makes an excellent point. this person who is about to be nominated to become secretary of labor, the vetting process must have been going on for weeks presumably. it takes awhile to get someone ready for this. they must have had somebody in the wings. >> keep in mind also and we'll talk about this with our panel, but when they come up with their picks for these various cabinet positions, it's often they have a list of three or four more individuals and there might be vetting on several of them before president trump ultimately makes his pick. in addition, the puzder nomination has been in trouble for quite some time. he a few weeks ago was talking about not even wanting to go through the confirmation process and there were rumblings about that. in addition, last week or the last week before when two republicans came out, including
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johnny isakson who is not one who normally expresses concern about republican cabinet nominees. johnny isakson talking about how he was waiting to make up his mind. so i think the writing has been on the wall for some time with this nomination that has been in trouble. let's talk about it more with our panel. john, we don't know yet who he's going to pick, but there is one community that has been very forceful and outspoken in terms of the fact that there have been no latino nominees for this cabinet. and i think it's the first cabinet in decades without any representation for the fastest growing minority population in the country. so this would theoretically be an opportunity to fix that. >> let me say, i'm waiting. we have a process here to clear reporting. i'm waiting to have some reporting cleared so i can't get as specific as -- >> although from what i just said you know i have an idea of
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what you're about to report. >> i believe your question is about to be answered. and to the vetting question, the gentlemen i'm told, and we're waiting for the sourcing to be cleared because we need to be cautious. the gentleman has served in a prior administration, the george w. bush administration so, you have some vetting that's already been done. >> jim acosta is over at the white house. i believe he's got some breaking news. go ahead, jim. >> that's right. we've been able to confirm at cnn that alexander acosta, the former u.s. attorney from miami will be the next labor secretary, if his nomination goes through. he is the pick for president trump after andy puzder withdrew his name from consideration yesterday. and just as an aside, no relation. but we are expecting the president to announce that in just a few minutes here in the east room of the white house. this is very surprising as you know because we were just here 24 hours ago trying to ask the president about these stories that have been in the news about his national security adviser michael flynn stepping down.
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about our reporting about constant russian contacts that were made by people in his campaign. advisers and associates to him during the campaign. and so we'll see if he's going to take that question as well. we understand that he may be taking questions when he comes out here. as you saw earlier, things happen pretty fast over here at the white house these days. one thing that we should point out that was mentioned by the president when he was sitting down with republican members of congress earlier this morning when he announced he was holding this news conference, he issued a warning to people who were leaking information to the press in the federal government. he said that he is going to -- that we're going to come after you, essentially is what he said, in that spray with those members of congress. wolf, that is a very, very stern warning from the president of the united states. and a reflection of how frustrated he is with all the leaks coming out of his administration right now. >> set the scene for where you are in the east room.
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reporters are there. i assume they're all getting ready and hoping to be able to ask the president of the united states a question. >> that's right. and as you'll recall, and perhaps, you know, this generated some talk here in washington over the last three news conferences. the president has only selected members from the conservative news media. and that process has served to shield the president to some extent from questions that have been in the news as of late. so we'll see whether or not the president decides to deviate from that strategy that has been hashed here at the white house. in of the reporters asking questions lately are good reporters. come from good journalistic backgrounds. but typically what we see when folks from the conservative media ask these sorts of questions, they may not be exactly the same kinds of questions that we would ask. so we're hoping that we'll get that opportunity at this news conference to ask about this
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russia story that has just mushroomed in recent days, resulted in the firing of his national security adviser michael flynn. the question, wolf, is how many questions he'll take, who he'll call on and we'll all be watching that. >> jim acosta, no relation to alexander acosta who is about to be nominated by the president of the united states to become the next secretary of labor. he's the dean of the florida international university college of law. >> that's right. and ana navarro,en in contributor, republican from florida has been saying that she knows him. he's squeaky clean. an excellent reputation. somebody that, obviously, the trump administration would like an easy confirmation process. >> serveod the national labor relations board. he has some experience in this. a clerk for judge alito when he was on the appeals court. good credentials coming forward. to your point, will calm the complaints from the latino community that you have a cabinet without a latino member. and ana's point, the president
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after a bumpy ride, very disappointing and very embarrassing ride for the president, not able to get puzder through. >> we didn't know this press conference was even going to happen is a desire to change the narrative. the narrative being this was a big defeat to have republicans defecting and saying we're not going to confirm puzder to be your secretary of labor. not just the more moderate republicans like susan collins of maine but very conservative republicans saying we're not going to do this. we're not going to walk this bridge for you. a desire by president trump. >> all of a sudden, what was a very, i think, negative mark on his presidency with andrew puzder having to withdraw. and as you reported early on, he was having second thoughts, and the trump administration wanted him to hang in there and then
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those very embarrassing revelations around his marriage came out. his ex-wife, of course, retracted some of those allegations. but he's able to change the subject here with this review. he'll allay some of the real concerns that people have from the latino communities about not very diverse cabinet. he adds diversity to that. and this is, i think, in some ways a skill that this president has. he sometimes is able to change the subject pretty quickly. he's trying to do that with the leaks as well. focus on the leaks -- the leakers and not the leaks. this will be effective and please a wide array of folks who want to see some progress and a real win come out of this white house. >> guys, everybody stand by. we're waiting for the president of the united states. he's about to make his announcement on his new secretary of labor nominee. expected to nominate alexander acosta from florida to be that nominee. will he also address other issues, including the latest
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controversy surrounding ties to russia? much more of our special coverage right after this. additional fees. tacked on taxes. come on! with t-mobile one, taxes and fees are now included! get 4 lines of unlimited lte data for 40 bucks each. that's right - all unlimited. all in! and now, for a limited time save more than you pay in taxes on all smartphones. so switch to t-mobile and save hundreds vs. the other guys. it's better than a tax holiday! and it's only at t-mobile. i don't want to lie down. i refuse to lie down. why suffer? stand up to chronic migraine... with botox®. botox® is the only treatment for chronic migraine shown to actually prevent headaches and migraines before they even start. botox® is for adults with chronic migraine, 15 or more headache days a month each lasting 4 hours or more. it's injected by a doctor once every 12 weeks. and is covered by most insurance.
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any minute now, president trump expected to announce his pick for pick for treasure secretary. his pick is alexander acosta, the dean at the florida international college. we'll bring you the announcement, the comments, see if the president takes questions from reporters. all that coming up, jake. there's other important news we're following as well. >> the departure of president trump's national security adviser after just 23 days on the job. two republican congressmen are calling for a formal investigation into whether classified information was
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compromised when general flynn spoke to the russian official and that information was shared with reporters. a few minutes ago, the speaker of the house agreed with that idea. >> if classified information is being leaked, that is criminal. so i think there should be an investigation as to the leaks of information leaving, wherever they are coming from. and if it's classified information, that is criminal, and there should be a criminal investigation of these leaks. that does compromise our national security. >> with us now, pentagon correspondent barbara starr and manu raju. and barbara, let me start with you. this -- the president and speaker ryan sound very serious about focusing attention, the attention of the government on the leaks and not necessarily the subject of the leaks. and that, of course, being whether or not there was inappropriate contact and communication between members of the trump white house and the trump transition team and the trump campaign with individuals in russia who are known to u.s.
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intelligence. >> that's right, jake. and at this point, it's hard to see a way ahead in which there is not a full investigation because as manu will tell you, there are now republicans and democrats on capitol hill calling for a much deeper look into this. in fact, a short time ago, the house oversight committee led by republican chairman jason chaffetz who is -- has led many an investigation against the democrats, they have sent a letter to mike flynn's speaker's bureau. they want all the documents about who paid? which russian entities might have paid mike flynn for some of his appearances and speeches in russia, especially that 2015 dinner in moscow when he was seen seated next to vladimir putin. all of this, of course, before he joined the trump administration. but it's an indication that across washington, there is an effort now to investigate the leaks, but there are republicans and democrats who are very much
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saying that it does need to go further. and, of course, what we are also waiting to hear, if the president speaks about is the notion that he will ask one of his personal friends in the new york financial and investment community to head up a full investigation to review the intelligence community agencies and how they are operating. he may find that very problem attic to do because under statute, it's the director of national intelligence who has the authority to do that. so i think there are a lot of balls in the air for president trump on this one. and he's going to have to figure out how to deal with them and congress is good at figuring out which ones it wants to focus on as well. >> and manu raju on capitol hill, do you think that the tide is turning that more republicans are starting to appreciate that what the leakers were leaking about the alleged ties, conversations, communications between team trump and individuals in russia known to
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u.s. intelligence, that that might be more interesting to the american people, more important to the american people than who did the leaking? is that changing at all? >> that's from the senate side, i am hearing that, jake. you are hearing a bit of a disagreement between senate republicans and house republicans about how to move forward on this investigation. i had a chance to talk to senator richard burr, the republican who chairs the senate intelligence committee this morning and asked him, are you going to use the senate intelligence committee to look into the leak, the leakers and whether they broke any law. he said no. he said he believes the justice department, the fbi, the white house, that's their purview. that is not his purview. they want to look more into the russia meddling of the elections as well as the ties between flynn, michael flynn and the russia ambassador. those contacts. they had requested transcripts between flynn and the ambassador as well. they are waiting to see those transcripts. on the house side, a different approach. paul ryan as you just heard calling for an investigation
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into the leaks and also saying that the house intelligence committee should look into the leaks. he made that very clear that he believes it is within the house's pursue and the chairman of that committee has expressed concern about going after the communications between trump and flynn over the russian ambassador context because he believes that could violate executive privilege. and also pete king who -- the congressman from new york who sits on the committee telling reporters earlier today that he believes getting those transcripts could be a bad precedent for congress to set in violating communications between the white house and some foreign entities. so a lot of disagreement within republicans about how far to go and certainly some disagreements between senate republicans and house republicans. >> manu raju and barbara starr, thanks very much. >> let's get pamela brown who covers the justice department. what your hearing on the investigation that presumably is ongoing right now into this
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phone conversation that the former national security adviser michael flynn had with the russian ambassador to the united states? >> we've heard at this point the fbi does not plan to press any charges against michael flynn who was, of course, the embattled former national security adviser to president trump. and the fbi's view, he wasn't lying to them in the interview. he was a little nebulous on some topics we're told through our sources. but the fbi does not believe that he was, in fact, lying and they don't plan to press charges for this particular phone conversation. however there is this broader probe that michael flynn is part of. and right now the fbi is looking at the conversations he had with russians during the campaign. what those conversations consisted of. the motive, the why. along with other trump aides as we reported a couple days ago along with jim sciutto and evan perez. there were constant communications between people around the trump campaign, including manafort, the former campaign chaurm and others in
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his campaign and russians that were known to u.s. intelligence. so at this point, no conclusion has been reached in terms of the why. why these conversations were ongoing. but the big question that investigators still have is whether there could have been anything -- anything in the works in terms of them knowing that the russians had this stolen e-mails from the dnc and from clinton's campaign chairman. whether there was any sort of collusion. at this point there's nothing to indicate that, but it's still a question. >> it's a full-scale investigation going on. at the same time, significantly, the defense intelligence agency, which flynn used to run, has suspended his clearances, his ability to access classified information. security clearances, at least for the time being have been suspended. >> of course, they say this is administrate uf. this is protocol. this is what we do. but the key is, it's pending review of any wrongdoing.
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so, clearly, this is still very much under the microscone. what will be interesting is whether the department of justice answers the calls from members of congress for the transcript of the call between the ambassador and general flynn. the justice department could say we're not going to hand this over because we have an open active investigation. this is sensitive because of the broader probe i mentioned earlier. we'll have to wait and see what happens. >> we're only minutes away from the president of the united states, donald trump, making a major announcement about his next pick to become the secretary of labor. we just learned that pick is alexander acosta. he'll be in the east room for that announcement. we'll bring you the announcement and see if the president takes questions from reporters who are there on the scene. our special coverage continues right after this. future of busiw york state is already in motion. companies across the state are growing the economy, with the help of the lowest taxes in decades, a talented workforce,
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will be his pick to be the next secretary of labor. we'll have his statement. acosta, jake, we're told is there with him as well. presumably he'll make a statement at the same time and see if the president answers questions. >> let's bring in the senior economics analyst. the former senior economic adviser for the trump campaign. he joins us from columbia, south carolina. also with us cnn's senior white house correspondent jim acosta who is live in the east room. stephen moore, let me talk to you first. what do you think about the alexander acosta pick. have you worked with him in the past? what do you know about him? >> i don't know a whole lot about him, jake. i just went through the release that the press -- that the press release that the white house just put out about him. pretty amazing resume. he certainly knows labor law. one interesting thing about his resume is that he was one of the prosecutors against jack abramov which i found interesting. i don't know the man but it's a
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very different pick, jake, from the previous pick who just resigned yesterday. andy puzder. andy puzder was a businessman and had been in one of the lines that a lot of us used to promote him was to hire workers and increase wages and salaries. this is a more traditional pick. someone who is a lawyer. that's been the tradition of this labor department. >> jum acosta live for us in the east room. that's a fair observation by steven there. i would say andy puzder is more of the disrupter model of trump nominee, somebody brought in to change the way conventional wisdom is about the labor department. this is somebody who had very nontraditional views and a nontraditional background for the position whereas there acosta, not you, obviously, but alexander acosta, is more in the mode of what you'd see in the george w. bush administration. he served in the bush
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administration himself. >> that's right. and we are told, my colleague sara murray is reporting that president trump met with some of the candidates for this pick today. yesterday afternoon. so this just occurred in the last 24 hours. obviously, as things were unraveling for andy puzder, this white house had to get cracking in terms of finding somebody else and we're told that this just happened yesterday afternoon. that he was talking to some of these candidates, including alexander acosta. this is much more of an establishment pick. he served in the bush administration. he's going to be the first latino in the cabinet if he's confirmed. that was a story, obviously, we followed during the transition process was whether or not president trump would actually place a latino in his cabinet and i think another interesting question to watch, jake, as this unfolds, if alexander acosta becomes the labor secretary is what happens. we had this conversation when the last batch of jobless
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numbers came out. what will the labor department do under an alexander acosta when it comes to the unemployment figures. as we heard during the campaign, then candidate trump was very critical of the unemployment figures. he often thought and said publicly at his rallies that he thought that the unemployment rate was much, much higher than where it is basically standing right now which is just below 5%. so being this an establishment pick by president trump, putting alexander acosta over the labor department, my sense is they'll continue business as usual over at that department when it comes to trusting those figures coming from the federal government. so i do think that is an interesting thing to watch, jake. >> obviously there's been a lot said and written about working class voters supporting president trump. that is why he is in the white house. support from those groups in overwhelming numbers. white working class voters in states like opinion ppennsylvan
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wisconsin, michigan. what are the big issues a labor secretary acosta, should that happen, would face having to deal with those working class voters. improving their lives? >> well, there's going to be a lot of labor issues that are going to come up right away, jake. one of the reasons the labor unions really wanted to take down my friend andy puzder was that he was opposed to raising the minimum wage. as you know with the unions, that's a big issue. i happen to agree with andy puzder on that one, but that certainly will be a big issue in the months ahead. another one that is a big interest to the financial community is something called the so-called fiduciary rule of investment advisers who give advice to their clients about whether they have conflicts of interest. and that's bubbled up into a huge issue. donald trump has been very critical of that rule. it's been in the media a lot lately. on this issue of unemployment that you guys were just talking about, i don't think donald
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trump wants to chachblg the way the numbers are put together. i think his point, which is something i agree with, jake, is that we always talk in the media about the headline unemployment rate, which i think right now is 4.7%. but there's something -- there's another unemployment rate that includes people who dropped out of the workforce, clfds people who don't have a full-time job and that unemployment rate is about double that. it's closer to 10%. and you might see more emphasis in this labor department saying, look, this real unemployment number is a lot higher than the headline number. >> a quick question. i've been getting e-mails from folks who know him well. know his background as a former u.s. attorney, alexander acosta. the dean of the florida international university college of law. at that university, there are a lot of daca students who were raised here in the united states. they are students there. he knows these students well. the notion that he's now going to be secretary of labor and the fact that he has all this
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experience with all these students, how do you think that will play out? >> that's a great question. i don't know, but, obviously, immigration is the key issue for donald trump and restraining illegal immigration is one of his key promises. so we'll see how that all plays out. i want to go back, though, wolf, to my original point. this is such a departure from andy puzder. what a lot of conservatives like myself liked about andy was hat he was a businessman and a new approach to the labor department. somebody who actually knows something about how to hire workers, how to mack it easier for employers to hire workers. as was said earlier, but worth emphasizing, acosta is much more of a traditional pick for this -- so he's not the disruptor that andy puzder would have been. >> all right usteven moore, jim acosta. we're going to squeeze in another quick break, but we'll be right back. stay with us. it's over.
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once again, any minute now
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the president of the united states will walk up to that lectern and make the official announcement that alexander accost athe dean of the florida international college of law will be nominated to be the next secretary of labor. a lot of people are suggesting already maybe the president should have picked him first. >> well, when you are elected president, you pick your fights. to jake's point, the president has done this across the government. with some exceptions. a more -- even though some were worried about rex tillerson in the state department, more of an establishment type guy, general mattis. here his economic team he's looking for people who disrupt the way washington does things. he'll push aggressively to change the policy. this is a shift back for a white house that's had a lot of turmoil. a safe pick. meone who has experience in this town who can get through confirmation. has many things on his resume democrats will like, including intervening in a case for the
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bush justice department where a young muslim student was told she couldn't wear a hijab headdress in school and they intervened. overall, it's a sign that the president -- the treasury secretary, the trade representative will now have more prominent roles in the economic policy. the labor secretary is not always a player in that regard. with andy puzder, you might have had another big player in that arena. this will be a more traditional regulatory agency as you go forward. and a safe pick for the administration which at this point does not need another controversy. >> this is puzder pulling out. that's embarrassing. that's a defeat. but president obama at this point had already lost three cabinet battles with three individuals withdrawing their names for -- two for commerce and one for hhs. so it's not really unheard of and actually by comparison, president trump is doing okay. >> these things happen. more than anything, this is a reflection of two things. the president has a 52/48 majority in the united states
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senate. he has no room for error. if the democrats stay united which they have largely on the big controversial ones, the president has almost no room for error. he can only afford to lose two republicans as we saw with betsy devos. once puzder started to lose more republicans it was over. the president, even for his big plans of change. he has to be careful and do the senate math first. number two, also a reflection, the democrats have been able to stay together because the president did lose the popular vote and they believe back where they are from, they are safe. the point that manu was making earlier, the difference between the house and senate republicans when it comes to the investigations, it's a good lesson for how washington is right now. these house members which come from the reddest of red america. they go home to relatively safe districts. they'll side more with trump. the senators, they live in purple america. they have to go home to a different audience. so they're more likely to look for reasons to stake their independence from the president. >> i spoke with someone very
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familiar with a red state republican senator who wanted to vote against betsy devos for education secretary and the pressure on him not to defect from mitch mcconnell was so strong that ultimately, he just gave in. mitch mcconnell is running a very tight ship over there. betsy devos was very controversial. she got confirmed in an historic way with mike pence breaking a 50/50 tie. you have to give blame to mitch mcconnell for really hurting those ferktsively. >> with betsy devos, even though she was getting c intin inting really try to tank her nominee he wasn't able with puzder to hold that off, mainly because puzder was out of step with a lot of things that conservatives believe in. and he talked about immigration being a good thing. he also was for automation, which isn't a good thing if you
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live in these states where manufacturing is really important. so i think that was one of the big things that he wasn't able to stave off because -- and also, we've got a point where this president is much weaker than he was during the devos time because of what's happened with all of these allegations and with the flynn pullout. >> you see reporters there in the east room of the white house. some of them standing, ready to do live reports for their respective networks. the first couple rows, though, are still empty. i assume that guests will be coming in, family members, white house staff. they'll be walking in filling up those first few rose. david chalian is with us, our political director. david, as pointed out, jim acosta pointed out, this is the first hispanic american, latino, if confirmed will become a member of the cabinet. and that in and of itself is significant. >> it is. it's an important symbol to have literally a seat at that very
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big table in the cabinet room, to have that kind of representation. and so -- but that's what it is. it's an important symbol, i think if you talk to hispanic congressional leaders or hisp hispanic organizations. they're still looking to see what policies will come from this white house. but the symbolic representation is significant, wolf. i also wonder in listening to you guys talking about how trump has gotten much of his cabinet in accomplice, one defection here, one withdrawal is not historically terrible when you compare to previous presidents. and i wonder if this roll-out which seemed to be teed up and ready to go, coupled with a few other things now coming up on the president's calendar or campaign style rally on saturday in florida. he has that big joint session speech coming up. if today we're seeing the beginning of a real attempt at a
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trump reset because of sort of the under siege mentality that's existed in the white house these last several weeks. >> let's go to jim acosta who is in the east room and can set the scene. we're expecting this announcement any minute. president trump and former u.s. attorney alexander acosta to come out in the east room there and the announcement to be made, jim. >> that's right, jake. i hope this is not fake news because secretary acosta has a great ring to it. we do expect to have alexander acosta here with the president. we don't expect mr. acosta to make any comments during this, but we are waiting to see whether or not the president takes questions. i will point out, though, one criticism that you heard from this white house press secretary sean spicer has said time and again during the briefings is that they feel that the democrats up on capitol hill and the senate have slow walked their cabinet nominees, but, you know, let's face it.
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as you were just talking about, there have been republican defections, not only in the case of andy puzder, but also in the case of betsy devos and, just yesterday it was announced that susan collins, senator from maine, was having problems with scott pruitt, the pick for the epa. but i think david chalian is exactly right. to have one cabinet nominee go down during this process is fairly low historically. and that's a sign that the republicans are very much in control here in washington. when they have the numbers in the senate they can basically do what they want with this cabinet. and that's part of the reason why you've seen president trump select what has been a fairly in your face cabinet when you look at some of these nominees across the board. but at the same time, i think as david chalian was noting, the selection of alexander acosta being more of an establishment republican pick, being the first latino in the cabinet, i think is a -- that is a very good call here. this may be the president to
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some extent trying to reset things in washington after a few tumultuous weeks. >> alexander acosta, no relation to jim acosta. once again, pointing out those first couple of rose empty. we'll take another quick break and wait for the president and have our coverage resume right after this.
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we're waiting and watching for the president of the united states, donald trump. we're told momentarily he'll walk into the east room and formally make the announcement that alexander acosta will be his pick to become the next secretary of labor. law school dean, former u.s. attorney in florida. highly respected. we'll, of course, have live coverage of the president's remarks, presumably we'll hear from alexander acosta as well and then see if the president takes questions from reporters. and that's always been at least in the left few news conferences a little sensitivity there. the president taking questions at news conferences from reporters. >> they've been doing, i think it's fair to say around the
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so-kaufled msm, the mainstream media going to "new york post," fox news, town hall, christian broadcasting network, daily caller. and somebody from sinclair broadcasting. and a lot of the mainstream reporters in the room have been frustraitted with it not only because they're not getting picked but because quite often those reporters are not asking questions about the big news story of the day and at the last three press conference, the big news story of the day has been about whether it's general flynn lying about the content of his phone call with the russian ambassador or other stories having to do with the trump team and russia. there's been a lot of frustration and a lot of reporters think that president trump is purposely doing this n these reporters for whatever reason, maybe their viewers and readers are not as interested in the main story of the day. but those reporters are not asking the questions. >> and he's been really, his twitter feed really going after the president of the united states, going after that mainstream media. >> he's the president of the
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united states and he and his press secretary have every right to run the room as they see seat and every right to acknowledge the big changed in the media in the past six, eight, ten, years. that's their right. the president's own staff or instincts are doing the president a disservice in the sense that maybe he doesn't like the mainstream media. he likes to label us as fake news or dishonest. there are legitimate questions to ask about the alleged russian connections and then try to suggest it was the media's fault. we are told if his press secretary is to be believed, he told general flynn, i'm sorry. you are a good man but i've lost confidence in you. the president didn't say that yesterday when this came up. so the questions will continue. the stories will continue until the president can help put them to rest. it's in his interest to address these questions and put them to rest. on friday, the president was asked about the report about michael flynn having not told
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the truth to the vice president and to the american people about the contents of that call. president trump was asked about it, and he pretended he had no idea what the reporter was talking about. there was an answer why the president was misleading. i was still investigating. i didn't want to get ahead of the story. he doesn't have to apologize. i wasn't about to get involved in that, yet we were still looking into. the fact he re mains he was misleading if not lying, and the american people deserve an explanation. >> and part of this might just be him getting used to the job. he can say that. but the answer is, gentlemen, i can't talk to you about that. or ask me about that next week. the president has every right to say that. when he said, i don't know about it and we're told later by his people who work for him. we're not making this up. these are people on the president's payroll. some on the record and some on background to us give us a tick tock that's 180 degrees contrary to what the president says it leaves you wondering who is telling the truth and who is
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sending the message. >> people are beginning to come into the east room. they're beginning to sit down. presumably we're closer to the president's formal announcement of alexander acosta who will be nominated to become the next secretary of labor. i want to bring back our senior economics analyst steven moore who say former senior economic adviser for the trump campaign and global economic analyst, scientistant managing editor of "time" magazine. tell us more about this labor secretary nominee. we're about to learn a lot more about. >> particularly, in the context of the trump administration, this is a really balanced nomination. alexander acosta is somebody that certainly some progressives will find fault with but he's done a lot of things that i think folks on the left would actually respect and like. he is somebody that's stood up for the rights of muslims when he was in the civil rights division of the department of justice. he did that. he's given some very eloquent testimony around civil rights issues for muslims. he is somebody that's taken on big banks and fraud cases.
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i see him as a pretty balanced pick, particularly in context of this administration and what we've seen so far. >> steven, you agree? >> well, unfortunately, i do agree that i think this was a retreat by the trump administration. i read the editorial in "the wall street journal" today. i used to work on the editorial board at the journal. they said the unions and there's a conservative effort by the left to take down andy puzder. i think it was unfair. i think a lot of charges were not true that were made against him. and, you know, what the journal said is come forward with somebody else like him. don't retreat. this is a little bit of a retreat. one other thing i'd like to say because you had this discussion about cabinet picks and someone was saying, well, this isn't really that unusual. but i've been in politics, wolf, for 30 years. you've been even longer than i have. i can't remember a time when virtually every cabinet secretary nominee was so chmged by the other party.
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the question really becomes, should the president have the ability to have the people who are his advisers around him. and i think that's really been thrown into question now because the democrats have almost in most of these cases, they have voted lock step against these people and held up a lot of them. and that's had a negative effect on mr. trump's ability to get out of the gate charge with his legislative agenda. >> there are a few exceptions to that, stephen. mattis at pentagon. elaine chao transportation. kelly at homeland security with overwhelming support. we're watching the room right now. the chief of staff reince priebus and others from the president's senior staff come in. so we're going to interrupt you in a second. before -- never mind. here is president trump and his nominee for secretary of labor. let's listen in. >> thank you very much.
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i just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for secretary of the department of labor will be mr. alex acosta. he has a law degree from harvard law school. great student. former clerk for justice samuel alito. and he has had a tremendous career. he's a member and has been a member of the national labor relations board and has been through senate confirmation through times. confirmed. did very, very well. and so alex, i wished him the best. we just spoke, and he's going to be, i think he'll be a tremendous secretary of labor. and also, as you probably heard just a little while ago, mick
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mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved, weeks late. i have to say that. weeks, weeks late. office of management and budget. and he will be, i think, a fantastic addition. paul singer just left. paul was very much involved with the anti-trump or as they say, never trump, and paul just left, and he's given us his total support. and it's all about unification. we're unifying the party and hopefully we'll be able to unify the country. it's very important to me. i've been talking about that for a long time. it's very important to me. so i want to thank paul singer for being here and for coming up to the office. he was very strong opponent. and now he's a very strong ally. and i appreciatehat. i think i'll say a few words and then we'll take some questions. and i had this time. we've been negotiating a lot of
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transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible. just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. and we have done some really good work. we're very proud of that. and then right after that, you prepare yourself. we'll do some questions. unless you have no questions. that's always a possibility. i'm here today to update the american people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. we have made incredible progress. i don't think there's ever been a president electd who in this short period of time has done what we've done. a new rasmussen poll, in fact, because the people get it. much of the media doesn't get it. they actually get it, but they don't write it. let's put it that way. a new rasmussen poll just came out a very short while ago, and it has our approval rating at
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55%. and going up. the stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. and there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which is, to me, means something much different than it used to. it used to mean, oh, that's good. now it means that's good for jobs. very different. plants and factories are already starting to move back bothe united states and big league ford, general motors, so many of them. i'm making this presentation directly to the american people with the media present which is an honor to have you. this morning, because many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth. and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. and i hope going forward, we can be a little bit different and maybe get along a little better if that's possible. maybe it's not, and that's okay, too.
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unfortunately much of the media in washington, d.c., along with new york and los angeles speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. the press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the american people. tremendous disservice. we have to talk about it to find out what's going on because the press honestly is out of control. the level of dishonesty is out of control. i ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. i am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. i am talking and really talking on this very entrenched power structure and what we're doing is we're talking about the power structure. we're talking about its en


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