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Trump to Take Action on Border Wall; Trump Stands By False Voting Claim; Deadly Hotel Attack; PM Theresa May Goes to Parliament. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 04:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight -- President Trump ready sign executive action to direct money to build the border wall. He'll do that the same day a delegation from Mexico visits the capital.

[04:30:03] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Things that are not true. Repeated, continuing and new claims for the president that millions and millions voted illegally. His press secretary stands by this fabrication. The question now: will congressional Republicans stand up to the president?

ROMANS: And the deadly attack overnight on a hotel compound in Somalia, a gun fight followed, as a well-known terror group claimed responsibility. We are live with the latest.

Welcome back to EARLY START this morning, this Wednesday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Nice to see you, 30 minutes after the hour.

This morning, behold the wall. The breaking news this morning the first executive action on what was the central rallying cry of President Trump's campaign. In just a few hours, the president will sign orders designed to promote the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He also promised always that Mexico would pay for that wall. It's not at all clear this morning how or if that will happen.

This comes days after the president in his after -- after days when the president and his press secretary have been saying things that are not true about inauguration crowd size and alleged mass voter fraud, fraud that did not happen. But while he continues to say things that are not true, he has been true to many of his campaign promises. The president previewed the executive actions overnight writing, "Big day planned on national security perform. Among many other things, we will build the wall."

Now, the timing is a little bit controversial. It comes on the same day as the Mexican foreign minister is in Washington setting up a visit for the Mexican president. And there are more immigration moves coming later this week as well.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny has a preview.


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

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

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

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


ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Jeff.

And there's more, in addition to the border wall and immigration restrictions, you just heard Jeff report to you sources familiar with today's executive order say they will include ending so-called catch- and-release. That's the policy of allowing undocumented residents to remain in the U.S., about deporting them.

The orders will triple the resources for ICE enforcement and removal. They will also end sanctuary cities, localities that bar their police departments from cooperating with immigration authorities. And they will add 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol officers.

And a separate order is being prepared for Trump's signature later this week, includes suspending a sentence for all refugees, all refugees performance to gauge which country's migrants pose the lowest risk for national security. A program for admitting Syrian refugees will be ended indefinitely.

We'll get more details on all of this in the coming days.

BERMAN: You know, sanctuary cities thing, the federal government can't just, you know, with the stroke of a pen end sanctuary cities. These are something that cities and states implement. What the federal government can do is threaten to withhold money, federal funding from the cities for other things and try to pressure the cities --

ROMANS: And the big city mayors are getting the budgets together, like New York City's mayor, that's got to be something that they're wondering about and worried about.

BERMAN: But most of the big city mayors, including De Blasio here, Garcetti in Los Angeles, Rahm Emanuel in Chicago have said they will stand up to the federal government on this. So, this will be a fight worth watching.

Overnight, the president also addressed federal action to address the violence in Chicago. He tweeted, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible carnage going on, 228 shootings in 2017, with 42 killings, up 24 percent from 2016, I will send in the feds."

Chicago police tell CNN there have been actually 38 homicides and 182 shootings so far this year. It's still bad. The tweet from Donald Trump came a short time after a guest on FOX News discussed violence in Chicago using the word "carnage" and the same apparently faulty statistics that the president tweeted out.

The president last addressed Chicago violence in early January. He wrote that "if mayor can't do it, he must ask for federal help."

[04:35:05] Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hasn't directly addressed the president's tweet. But he did say in an interview last night that over the years, the city has had to step up its resources directed at gun violence as the federal government has stepped back. He said repeatedly over the last several weeks, they would welcome federal help in dealing with the situation there.

ROMANS: All right. So, the president tweeting about Chicago. All of this with the White House stands by President Trump's widely debunked blame that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the election, a claim made without so far any proof backing it up other than the fact the president believes so.

BERMAN: There's no evidence.

ROMANS: President just says it is so, and the White House backing him.

At the White House daily briefing, our Jeff Zeleny asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer if he himself believes that claim. Spicer brought the answer right back to his boss.


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

ZELENY: What's that mean for democracy, though? If he does believe that, what does that mean for democracy? SPICER: It means that I've answered your question.

ZELENY: Have you?


ROMANS: Now, Spicer did cite a Pew Research study. The author of that study said while researchers found millions of registrations that were out of date due to people moving or dying, there was no evidence, no evidence, no evidence of actual voter fraud. The president's decision to revive the issue not sitting well with many lawmakers, including Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham.


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


ROMANS: How did this come up again? Well, the president reignited this conversation at a meeting Monday night with congressional leaders as a way to explain how he lost the popular vote. He brought it up when he was talking to those congressional leaders.

BERMAN: "The Associated Press", "New York Times" and other outlets have been writing stories that the president apparently can't get over the fact that he did not win the popular vote. Or they've been writing that it's bothering him so much, which is why he brings it up.

The fact is, you know, he won the election pure and simple. It might be something that he should move on.

There are new debate from the alleged voter fraud that didn't happen, happened while the press was discussing some other campaign promises. He signed executive actions to revive construction of the Keystone oil pipeline, the Dakota access pipeline, both of which had been stopped by the Obama administration. The president also signed orders that the pipelines be constructed with U.S. materials and to streamline regulatory and environmental reviews.

Environmental groups, along with some Native American tribes had organized a huge protest to stop the Dakota pipeline vowed to mobilize anew against the president's move.

Confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill are on hold for a moment. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are headed to party retreats with Senate Democrats going to West Virginia. House and Senate Republicans heading for Philadelphia where they'll be joined tomorrow by President Trump.

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations. And Georgia Congressman Tom Price, he was back on the hot seat. Democrats grilled the nominee for Health and Human Services secretary over his plan to replace Obamacare. He did not come back with many specifics.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Will you commit that no one will be worse off?

REP. TOM PRICE (R), HHS SECRETARY NOMINEE: What I commit to, Senator, is working with you and every single member of Congress to make certain we have the highest quality health care. And that every single American has access to affordable coverage.

WYDEN: You ducked the question. Will you guarantee that no one will lose coverage understand the executive order?

PRICE: I guarantee you that the individuals that lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act, we will commit to making certain that they don't lose coverage to whatever replacement plan that comes forward.


ROMANS: President Trump has asked the FBI Director James Comey to stay on the job. According to a law enforcement source, Comey was not expected to depart. His term runs through 2023. But he did have a rough election season.

Comey rubbed Republicans including President Trump the wrong way for not indicting Hillary Clinton over what Comey called her extremely careless handling of e-mails. He also angered Democrats by extending the FBI's e-mail investigation just days before the big vote.

Growing concerns this morning, the Trump administration thinks widely accepted jobs data is a hoax. In just the past week, the president's treasury secretary nominee questioned the accuracy of the government's official unemployment rate. The White House press secretary refused to say what the rate is.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE: The unemployment rate is not real. The average American worker has gone nowhere.

SPICER: It's not a question of will I accept. I mean, there are ways to put out full employment --

REPORTER: I know the difference --

SPICER: Right, but I'm saying there's a reason we put out several versions of that.


[04:40:02] ROMANS: Plus, the president's pick to lead the Labor Department, Andrew Puzder, has been critical of the readings in the past. It has some worried that the administration will try to tweak the numbers in order to make the economy look better under President Trump. a top economist and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office says that's not going to happen.


DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: If anyone of a political nature tried to suggest they should doctor the data, the first thing that would happen they'd go straight to "The Washington Post" or CNN and say, oh, my God, we're being forced to lie about the data, that would end it very quickly. And that's a good thing. I think the integrity of this data is quite high. And it will remain high and people should be confident of that.


ROMANS: The first jobs report under the Trump administration is due a week from Friday and the issue, I think, at the core of this, is that there are people who leave the labor market. They leave the labor market, if they can't get a job and they just stop looking, then they're not counted in that official labor rate anymore.

One of the reasons why people leave the labor market is retirement. You have baby boomers. People are staying home to take care of their kids. Stay-at-home parents. Taking care of elderly parents and grandparents.

There are lots of reasons why people leave the job market. It doesn't mean they're unemployed.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: Mr. Trump is counting everybody, including my grandmother who doesn't want to work in that universe of people. This idea that it's a hoax, and he has called the job numbers a hoax, the people -- the good people of the Bureau of Labor Statistics that put those numbers together now work for a man who now says their work is worthless.

BERMAN: Look, the unemployment number is the unemployment number. The underemployment number is the underemployment number. And the jobs market is the jobs market. They're separate numbers. They're right there.

ROMANS: Right there for everyone to see.

One thing is, I think there are people on the campaign trail who were trying to delegitimize the job creation during President Obama. That's one reason they kept saying, oh, yes, you say the unemployment rate is falling but it really isn't, but here is why.

BERMAN: I know. I mean, which number is more important to you depends on where you set, but the unemployment number remains the unemployment number.

One day after collapsing during the state of the state address, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has revealed he's battling prostate cancer. The governor says the disease was discovered just last week and doctors tell him it appears the cancer has not spread. The governor sounded cautiously optimistic about his upcoming treatments.


GOV. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA: I'll be going down next week to Mayo to determine the best course of treatment, regarding surgery or radiation. I don't expect it in a very short period of time to impede my performance or my responsibilities.


BERMAN: It is not clear if Governor's Dayton's cancer caused him to collapse Monday night. He says he does not have a strong memory of the incident.

ROMANS: All right. A deadly attack in Somalia leaves several dead in a hotel compound in Mogadishu. The siege ending just moments ago.


[04:47:02] ROMANS: Breaking news out of Mogadishu, a pair of truck bombs exploded overnight outside the Dayah Hotel in the Somali capital. The jihadist group al Shabaab is claiming responsibility. The scene at the hotel is still very much active.

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

What can you tell us?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, what I can tell you is that this was a coordinated attack by al Shabaab. They first of all rammed the gates of the Dayah Hotel as you say with a truck packed with explosive. Five gunmen, they went in shooting in a gun fight with Somali security officers.

Fifteen minutes later, they exploded another car bomb, deliberately targeting ambulance staff that had gone there. Journalists who scrambled to cover the story.

And as we know, al Shabaab, this is not the first time they've targeted the hotel. There are 45 areas in Mogadishu, ours and members of parliament.

Their beef is this, it's simple, they want to turn the Horn of Africa into an Islamic State. They are very much against the Western-backed government that is there. They appointed 300 members of parliament. They're struggling to hold a presidential election. This is the time that al Shabaab has chosen to attack.

We know from our man in Mogadishu that ten civilians have been killed, 30 injured and, of course, now those terrorists are now shot dead by security people. We're waiting to see in the first hours of African Union troops are already being scramble over these MPs.

ROMANS: All right. Farai, thank you for that. That's a terrifying scene there in Mogadishu, thank you.

All right. Forty-eight minutes past the hour.

One of President Trump's top money men just scored a huge payday. We'll show you the money -- next.


[04:52:56] BERMAN: British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to face questions from lawmakers today after losing a Supreme Court appeal concerning Brexit. The ruling means that her government cannot begin talks with the E.U. until parliament gives its approval. The leader, Theresa May, is preparing to come to the U.S. on Friday with a face-to-face meeting with President Trump. She has a very busy week.

CNN's Isa Soares live in front of 10 Downing Street for us this morning.

The prime minister, she needs a good relationship with President Trump and the United States, perhaps to make up for what she'll be losing with the European Union.


Very much so. That's why she's going there. She's saying the importance of her visit to Washington to meet President Trump and that President Trump, we know already, is calling her pretty much his Maggie. They want to try to go back to the 1980s between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

But before she even goes there to try to get the backing and support from President Trump, she's facing questions here from lawmakers as you said. And we'd expect, John, plenty of political fireworks and plenty of political theater. She needs support before she can even trigger article 50.

And although many lawmakers here, when I asked them whether they will back it, they said, of course, we will because this won't go against what the people want. This is what the people want. They said we want amendments.

What kind of amendments do they want? Not just little amendments, John. They want access to the single market, customs union. They want premium to people. And everything that Theresa May has said she doesn't want to include.

So expect a lot of debating here. One source basically saying, look, we're going to let them talk until, quote, "they wreck themselves."

But this is going to be extremely interesting and whether this can actually push Theresa May's deadline in March much later and force her hand somewhat to a strategy that remains to be seen. Of course, she doesn't want to show too much in terms of her hand that play here with Europe before she meets with President Trump, because she believes that meeting with President Trump will actually strengthen her politically before Brexit negotiations, John. [04:55:10] BERMAN: You know, political posturing on both sides of the

Atlantic. Isa Soares, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-five minutes past the hour.

Lead levels in Flint, Michigan water, in the water in Flint, Michigan, have finally dipped below federal limits. State environmental officials say a just completed study shows lead in the Flint water is down to levels comparable to other cities of similar size. Flint residents have been grappling with the water crisis for more than two years since the state, in an effort to save money, switch the water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Thirteen current or former government employees have been charged in an ongoing criminal investigation.

BERMAN: All right. "La La Land" tying the record for the most nominations by a film at the Academy Awards, 14. That's a lot. That includes nominations for Emma Stone as lead actress. And Ryan Gosling as lead actor. And for its 32-year-old director Damien Chazelle who will become the youngest best director winner. I think he will win.

The film also landed nominations for two original songs. One question, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling seen at the Oscars? People wondering could they pull it off? Which will be interesting to see.

Two years after earning the #Oscarsowhite, a lot of diversity among the nominations. Seven people of color are among the 20 acting nominees with three films about the black experience in America. "Fences" and "Moonlight" nominated for best picture.

ROMANS: I have a lot of movies to see. I want to see "La La Land". I really want to see "Hidden Figures". I mean, there's a lot out there I want to see.

BERMAN: And I want to see "Rogue One" again.

ROMANS: OK, we'll talk about "Star Wars" in the brief.

Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream right now.

After a brief hiatus, Dow 20,000 watch is back. It is less than 100 points away. Even more impressive, NASDAQ and S&P 500 closed at record highs Tuesday. Solid corporate earning and enthusiasm over this, President Trump's meeting with automakers and other CEOs, he promised to slash regulations. Executives and investors love slashing regulations.

SO, Dow 20,000 could be today. Futures are solidly higher. Stock markets higher. Shares in Asia gained overnight.

It pays for work for Goldman Sachs. It pays even more to leave Goldman Sachs and go work to President Trump. Gary Cohn, Trump's pick to lead the influential National Economical Council, his payday of more than $100 million leaving Goldman.

Goldman says it paid Cohn $65 million in cash for bonuses he was owed. It also sped up stock rewards. And lifted restrictions on $23 million in Goldman shares, so that Cohn could sell them.

He will have to pay up taxes on the payout. As for his new gig, part of the so-called government tax crew in Trump's administration, he's expected to act as the president's quarterback on the economy. He works inside the White House and helps frame the debate on the biggest economic issues.

BERMAN: It turns out investment banking might have been a good profession to go into.

ROMANS: Yes, if you're a good investment banker.

All right. A federal judge said insurance giant Aetna lied about pulling out of Obamacare exchanges. The company said last summer, it was a business decision due to mounting losses. But a U.S. district judge ruled that Aetna's real motivation for dropping coverage was specifically to evade judicial scrutiny over its merger with Humana. Ooh.

The Department of Justice blocked that merger one month before Aetna dropped coverage. Shares of both Aetna and Humana surged after Trump was elected due to his process to repeal Obamacare and cut regulations.

BERMAN: All right. EARLY START continues right now.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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