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Many Republicans Opposed to Trump's Wall; Obama Official Blasts White House over Yemen Raid; Millions Expected to Watch Super Bowl on Sunday. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:30] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news right now, President Trump's promise to build a wall along Mexico's border may now be facing potentially a major problem from those in his own party right now.

Senior congressional reporter, Manu Raju, is live on Capitol Hill with more.

Manu, what are you picking up?

MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Kate, as you know, Donald Trump's plan amounts to this, he wants Congress to fund a border wall that could cost upwards of $12 billion to $15 billion and then get Mexico to reimburse the United States taxpayers for the cost of that wall. Well, I spent the last couple of days talking to a number of top Republicans who are very, very skeptical, nervous, or outright opposed to the idea, because they're concerned about the price tag. They're not certain that Mexico will pay the United States back, and they don't think the wall itself will be an effective plan. They're waiting to hear more details.

One of the biggest concerns I've heard is the cost of that $12 billion to $15 billion will not be offset by corresponding spending cuts. In fact, it could add to the deficit and debt if Congress were to approve that.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is one of those Senators who are concerned about adding a dime to the deficit over this project. Take a listen.


SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE: I don't want to see any spending, additional spending on anything that's not paid for, any project. So we've got a huge fiscal problem right now, $20.355 trillion in debt, projected to add $9.7 trillion over the next 10 years. And I'm concerned. When I left the retreat last week, there were so many things that people are talking about spending money on. And at the same time, lowering the amount of revenues that we take in here in the country. And it's just a recipe for disaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Now, the Trump White House has suggested that Congress will eventually get refunded because Mexico will repay the United States fully for the cost of the wall. That's something the president himself has said on the campaign trail and in interviews.

But Republicans on Capitol Hill are not so sure, including Senator John McCain, who does not think Mexico will pay back the United States.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: If you only build a wall, only a wall, without using technology and drones, observation, et cetera, you're not going to secure the border.

RAJU: Obviously, he's talking about having Mexico pay for it. Do you think that's a viable option?


RAJU: Why do you say that?

MCCAIN: Because it's not a viable option.

RAJU: Then taxpayers could be left with the bill.

MCCAIN: The taxpayers are paying a lot of money right now. One of the biggest problems we have is the enforcement of existing law.


RAJU: Now, the Trump White House and the administration largely are starting to try to shore up some support on Capitol Hill. John Kelly, the new secretary of Homeland Security, met with lawmakers earlier this week to discuss border security and national security. And also, they had some questions that were posed to him about the wall, but I'm told from Senators and others who attended these discussions, they didn't get many details. They're waiting for that.

In addition, the White House is expected to send a funding package in the first quarter of this year to pay for the wall, but no one has seen details, but no one has seen how it will actually be paid for, whether it will be offset by spending cuts. One idea, Kate, to offset that spending by imposing a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports, floated by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. They quickly walked that back after resistance from Republicans. A lot of work to be done to fulfill that central campaign promise -- Kate?

[11:35:24] BOLDUAN: A lot of work. And this is important, what you're picking up from important people, from John McCain, from Bob Corker. I asked about offsets to Lee Zeldin earlier in the show, he was uncomfortable with going forward without offsets.

The temperature you're picking up, it should be a five-alarm fire in the White House, setting off a five-alarm fire in the White House right now if they want to move this border wall project along. Great stuff, Manu. Thank you.

RAJU: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, a former Obama administration official, speaking out, blasting the White House over the terror raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and several civilians. What he says, what this former national security official to the Obama White House said this White House is getting wrong. Details ahead.


[11:40:29] BOLDUAN: The Bowling Green Massacre. If that doesn't sound right, it's because it isn't. Here is where it came from. White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, in an interview with Chris Matthews, said this -- they were talking about the administration's travel ban. This is where the conversation ended up. Watch.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: These are measures narrowly prescribed and also temporary. I bet there was very little coverage, I bet it's brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre, because it didn't get covered.


BOLDUAN: Conway is right. The Bowling Green Massacre wasn't covered. Because it didn't happen. The men she's talking about were bad guys, convicted on terrorism charges. They lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but they never carried or were even planning an attack on American soil. No one died here. They were trying to help give weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq. Again, bad guys, but not a massacre. This morning, Conway took to Twitter corrected herself on Twitter that what she meant to say was Bowling Green terrorists. Is that a correction?

Let's talk about it. With me today, Hilary Rosen is a CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist. Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator, Republican strategist, former communications director for Ted Cruz. Brian Stelter is here, CNN's senior media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources."

Brian, you and I have been talking about this a lot today. She was wrong, she tweeted out a correction. Is that it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: I hope it's not it. I hope we hear more from Sean Spicer in the next hour. It would help if Conway took responsibility by apologizing for it. She didn't just misspeak. She seemed to have misinformation. I would like to know where the misinformation came from.

The mayor of Bowling Green came out and said he appreciates the correction. He said he knows live television is hard. This wasn't live television. It was a taped interview. It's not that crimes don't happen by refugees. We remember the Somalia refugee, the knife attack at Ohio State in November. These things happen. But they don't happen very often. And Kellyanne Conway was suggesting otherwise, trying to sow fear in this interview with Chris Matthews.

BOLDUAN: Here's the thing, to your point, anecdotes and data, use it but get it right.


BOLDUAN: Alice, to Brian's point, this is what has confused me today. She called them the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. If you use her correction and apply it, then she's saying the masterminds behind the Bowling Green terrorists. That doesn't make sense.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think if anyone on this panel has never made a mistake or says they've never made a mistake or misspoke, I think they would be misspeaking when they say that.


BOLDUAN: Those who live in glasses houses. But Kellyanne Conway has been on the forefront, on the tip of the spear when it comes to this White House on taking on the media and their hostile position, the media gets anything that they perceive as wrong.

STEWART: When the media misreports something or is incorrect, it's her duty or responsibility to call them out on it. When they misspeak, when they say something by accident, I think that is a completely different story. The fact that she has clarified what she meant to say, I think it's time to move on. I think an apology is simply not necessary. I think we can all understand that as much as we talk in the public forum every single day, especially her and everyone on this panel, you're going to misspeak, it's going to happen. Accidents happen. I think we have to take this says it was. It was a mistake, she misspoke, and let's move on. There are plenty of other important things to talk about than something that was clearly an accident that she has --


BOLDUAN: Look, I've been talking about plenty of important things today, let's not put this in the category of this was the entirety of the show.

Hilary, here's the thing, we all misspeak, Hilary. When we take this White House and how its posture has been, this White House was relentless, for days taking on a pool reporter who mis-recorded that the MLK Jr bust in the Oval Office, he reported it had been removed. Minutes later -- Brian, you said 30 minutes later --

STELTER: 30 minutes, he apologized.

BOLDUAN: -- he apologized, said it was a mistake. The White House did not let that go for days. Sean Spicer talking about it from the podium. The president continuing to talk about it. That's the difference here.

[11:45:09] HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I'm going to give Kellyanne this one, if she corrected herself. I'm willing to let it go.

But I do think that the context is important, back to the issue that Brian raised, which is, why do they feel the need to go out there and essentially make up news? Because they so blew the explanation and rationale for the travel ban in the first place that they're sort of backfilling so desperately. The best way that they think they can do that is by trying to make people afraid of refugees and of immigration when we actually have a fairly robust system in place already. So, I'm much more concerned about the rationale that they use to try to come up with these stories. Kellyanne is a smart woman. Hopefully, she'll learn that when people make a mistake, they don't deserve to be hammered on it for two days if it's an innocent mistake.

But the bigger picture is that they are not focused on the consequences of what they're doing in a way that allows people to separate overall facts, overall rational reasons and truths here.

BOLDUAN: This is a perfect example. This stuff can backfire when you take such an aggressive stance. Don't throw rocks at a glass house, that's for sure.


BOLDUAN: But Kellyanne took the position of when are the networks going to clean house, when are they going to fire people?

STELTER: Firing, yeah.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I'm not even getting close to saying that at all here. I'm just saying, when you push stuff out so aggressively like that, you put yourself in a position, you put yourself on a pedestal, Alice.

STEWART: I think what's happening here is the point she was trying to make when she made that statement is being overlooked by the fact that she misspoke on one single word.

BOLDUAN: Or maybe overshadowed by what she's saying. That's no one's fault but her own.

STEWART: As, I said, she misspoke. I think we all need to give her the benefit of the doubt. The fact she was trying to make is there was no uproar and no big news reporting and frustration when Barack Obama issued a travel ban back in that time. And now that President Trump is issuing a temporary ban on traveling from certain countries, there is such an uproar. The point she was making was where was all the outrage back then when Obama did the same thing that we have now --

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: I have to end it here.


STELTER: I'm just looking it up. He did not do the same thing.

ROSEN: Barack Obama did not do a travel ban.

BOLDUAN: It wasn't a travel ban. It was one country. It had to do with refugees. They went back and vetted and re-did vetting of refugees that came in from Iraq, which slowed down the process of bringing people in. It was not a ban. And it was only one country.

So, let's also --


BOLDUAN: It's not the same thing.


BOLDUAN: I have to end it there.


BOLDUAN: I have to end it there, Hilary. Let's continue this discussion on the break because I know you want to stick around so we can all fight it out a little more.

Thanks, guys. Appreciate it as always.

Coming up for us, a former White House official is blasting the Trump administration for its account of the deadly terror raid in Yemen. A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed and reports are an 8-year-old girl died in the attack as well. What issue does this Obama administration official have with the account of the raid? That's ahead.


[11:52:23] BOLDUAN: New questions about that military raid against al Qaeda and Yemen and who approved it. The White House says President Obama all but signed off on the operation when he was in office, but a former Obama national security official, Colin Kahl, saying, no, that didn't happen. Here is his tweet, "False, January 6th, deputy committee recommended the plan go forward," Mr. Spicer said. "I was in the meeting, Kahl says, "No rec." He's saying no recommendation was made.

CNN Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, is following this story.

Ryan, what is going on here?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTERT: We're seeing a lot of fallout from this operation and a little bit of back and forth between kind of what was the process in approval. Of course, the Trump administration never said that President Obama approved the operation. Everyone acknowledged that approval was deferred to President Trump. Former White House officials who worked for President Obama really taking issue without Press Secretary Spicer kind of said how the timing of these things went down.

That being said, U.S. military officials and Pentagon officials in the Obama administration actually are kind of siding a bit with the Trump White House saying, yes, this was submitted by the military back in November even before the election. That Secretary of Defense Ashe Carter did endorse this operation. We're kind of seeing not the blame game, but trading who approved this operation that resulted in the death of a U.S. Navy SEAL -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Now more calls are looking into what happened and what went wrong in that operation.

Ryan, great to see you. Thank you so much.

BROWNE: You bet.

BOLDUAN: So two days away from the showdown in Houston. The New England Patriots taking on the Atlanta Falcons. Look who is in Houston for vacation -- Tom Brady. I mean John Berman. We'll have him with us next.


[11:58:41] BOLDUAN: We are just two days away from the biggest night in America. Not debate night America, not election night America. We're talking about Super Bowl LI. More than 100 million Americans are expected to watch this Sunday.

Included in that, John Berman in Houston.

I've never seen you smile so big. Seriously.


BOLDUAN: You are a betting man. Who is going to win in your very unbiased opinion?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, very unbiased. Two weeks ago, after the championship games, I watched the Atlanta Falcons dismantle the Green Bay Packers. And after that, I thought no one could beat them. But over these two weeks, I sort of realized you never want to bet against Tom Belichick or Tom Brady. They are so good. This is their 7th trip to the Super Bowl since 2001, the year you were born. I think they are ready for this. They are going to be awesome.

I have to say, after the break up, this was the only thing that could fill the hole in my heart, coming to be here with Tom Brady.

Tomorrow, at 2:30, we have a CNN "Bleacher Report" special with Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, Andy Scholes, Coy Wire. It's going to be awesome.

We all miss you. BOLDUAN: It is going to be awesome. I'm excited you're there licking

your wounds.

Great to see you. I miss you already.

BERMAN: Great to be here.

BOLDUAN: With that, we've got to go. Get out of my shot, John.

Thanks for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"Inside Politics" with John King starts right now.

[12:00:14] JOHN KING, ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics."