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Trump Administration Sending Mixed Foreign Policy Signals; CNN/ORC Poll: Trump Disapproval Rating at 53 Percent; Military Releases Old Video, Blames Lack of Proper Analysis. Aired 5-6p et
Aired February 3, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Have a great weekend.
[17:00:15] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Sinking feeling. Our exclusive new poll shows President Trump now has the highest disapproval rating of any newly-elected president since modern polling began. Will his plummeting support impact his agenda?
Sanctioning Iran. The White House announces new punishment for Iran's recent missile test, sparking a Twitter war between President Trump and Iran's foreign minister. But the administration is sending mixed messages on Russia and Israel. What's behind all the foreign policy confusion?
Pentagon blunder. The military releases video just seized in a raid in Yemen, but now acknowledges it's nine years old and already had been published online. Officials are scrambling to explain the embarrassing mix-up. So, how did it happen?
And mistaken massacre. Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway tries to justify the president's travel ban by citing a terrorist massacre that never happened. Was it just a mistake?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Just two weeks in office, our new CNN/ORC poll shows President Trump with the lowest approval rating for a newly-elected commander in chief since modern polling began. Just 44 percent approve of the way he's handling his job.
Also breaking this hour, an embarrassing blunder by the U.S. military. Officials at the Central Command now acknowledge they released video seized over the weekend in a raid on al-Qaeda before it was properly analyzed. It turns out that video had previously been released and is nine years old.
And there's growing confusion over President Trump's foreign policy. The administration is sending mixed messages on Russia and Israel. But it did take decisive action on Iran today, announcing new sanctions in the wake of the country's recent ballistic missile test.
We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including the senior Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. Our correspondents and our expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with our senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski. She's over at the State Department. Michelle, there is confusion over the president's foreign policy.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Today it was action against Iran. Iran is now saying that it will reciprocate. But this follows a week of rapid-fire tough talk on foreign policy and mixed signals, especially when you compare some of these latest statements with prior things President Trump has said.
Is he for or against Israeli settlement? Is he still thinking about lifting some sanctions against Russia or not? At times it seems like foreign policy could be shifting, but at this point it's still unclear what those policies are. What exactly is the Trump Doctrine and where will it go?
KOSINSKI (voice-over): A week of fist shaking at Iran over its ballistic missile program ends with action.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not behaving.
KOSINSKI: Today sanctions on 25 people and entities the U.S. says support Iran's missile program and its Revolutionary Guard, a move seen as mostly symbolic, not likely to have much effect, but the administration moved quickly, and message sent.
Iran has already responded, calling the sanctions illegal.
There was also a Twitter back and forth with Iran this morning. From President Trump, "Iran is playing with fire. They don't appreciate how kind President Obama was to them. Not me."
From the Iranian foreign minister, "Iran unmoved by threats. We will never use our weapons against anyone except in self-defense. Let us see if any of those who complain can make the same statement."
Diplomacy by tweet aside, President Trump's first weeks have yielded foreign policy confusion. From a president who only days ago said he hopes for a fantastic relationship with Vladimir Putin, might even lift some sanctions on Russia.
TRUMP: We'll see what happens.
KOSINSKI: While campaigning said he would look into recognizing Ukraine's Crimea region as part of Russia, now comes as new ambassador to the U.N. sounding a much different, harder clearer line.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine. KOSINSKI: Something we have not heard from the president himself.
Though sources tell CNN the White House was aware of what she would say and was fine with t.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Ambassador Haley made it very clear of our concern with Russia's occupation of Crimea. We are not -- and so I think she spoke very forcefully and clearly on that.
KOSINSKI: Not clear is how this meshes with President Trump's views into a cohesive policy.
And on the Middle East, President Trump had blasted the Obama administration for not voting against a U.N. resolution condemning Israel's ongoing building of settlements in the West Bank.
[17:05:09] Yet now, this surprising statement from the White House: "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal." But "The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions."
Not exactly tough criticism, but a stronger statement against the highly controversial settlements than we've heard from this administration. What exactly is the policy? So far the White House says this.
SPICER: The president is committed to peace. That's his goal. The end of the day, the goal is peace.
KOSINSKI: So, tonight Iran says it's going to respond in kind to these sanctions. That it will take legal action against Americans and American companies that, in Iran's view, contribute to terrorists in the region and kill and suppress defenseless people in the region. Iran saying that it's going to name names soon, Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski over at the State Department, thanks very, very much.
Now to our exclusive new CNN/ORC poll, showing President Trump with a historically low approval rating for a new American president. Our political director, David Chalian, has the details. David, the president's numbers are lagging behind his predecessors.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: They are indeed, Wolf. Let's look at that overall approval number first. You showed it at the top of the show.
Forty-four percent approve of the job that Donald Trump is doing right now as president. Fifty-three percent, a slim majority, disapprove.
Let's look at that approval rating in context, and you can see the history here. It is, indeed, the lowest presidential approval rating at this point in a presidency, if you go all the way back through time. So, that is a record low number there for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: How does the public feel about the travel ban he imposed the other day?
CHALIAN: He has a bit of an uphill climb here, Wolf, towards selling this to the public. A slim majority, 53 percent, are opposed to that travel ban; 47 percent are in favor. So, divided, but a slim majority oppose.
And partisanship really matters here. Take a look at that 47 percent who favor, how that breaks down by party. Only 12 percent of Democrats favor it. Forty-six percent of independents favor it. In fact, a majority of independents are opposed. But 88 percent of Republicans are in favor of it. So, partisanship does matter here.
We also asked folks if they thought that the actual purpose of the ban here was to prevent Muslims from entering the country. Fifty-five percent said yes, that the executive order is in an attempt at a Muslim ban. Forty-four percent said no, Wolf.
BLITZER: David Chalian, our political director, thanks very much for all those numbers.
Let's get some more on all of this. Congressman Adam Schiff of California is joining us. He's the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: So you opposed the travel ban that the president put forward. In a federal court today in Virginia, a Justice Department lawyer said more than 100,000 visas from those seven countries, majority Muslim countries, 100,000 visas that are already been granted to individuals, are now being revoked as a result of the travel ban. The State Department later said the number is closer to 60,000, still a huge number.
What, if anything, can you, as a member of Congress, and your colleagues who oppose this do about it?
SCHIFF: Well, we have to do everything possible. And it's interesting, because the Trump administration first said this really only affects about 100 people at the airports. Now we see it affects 100,000 people who had visas approved. But it really affects the perception of the United States among Muslim people all over the world.
I was in Iraq just a couple weeks ago, and we're competing for influence with Iran there. This was a tremendous gift to Iran. And, so it has, I think, great effects even beyond those 100,000.
In terms of what Congress can do, we are compelling votes almost on a daily basis in the House that call for the repeal of this. We're forcing the GOP members to go on record: are they with this president on the Muslim ban or are they not? I think Republicans are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with this. Even the speaker has found it difficult to defend and has even been critical, at least in terms of its execution.
So, we need to keep the pressure on. I think that, coupled with the public speaking out and the court action, is about all we can do.
BLITZER: Do you believe this travel ban, specifically against these seven Muslim-majority countries, is legal?
SCHIFF: I don't. And I think, you know, we saw and Rudy Giuliani said and, indeed, what the president himself said in terms of what he intended to do, that this is intended to be a ban on Muslims.
BLITZER: They deny that.
SCHIFF: They deny that now. But of course, they deny it's a ban when they called it a ban the day before they started denying it was a ban. So they don't have much credibility.
BLITZER: They say these seven countries were originally selected by President Obama for greater scrutiny, and they're just following his lead.
SCHIFF: The president, President Obama never imposed a ban on travel--
[17:10:7] BLITZER: He never imposed a travel ban, but he did cite these seven countries for extra scrutiny. And there was a pause in granting visas to individuals from those seven countries.
SCHIFF: You know, I find it very ironic that Trump would be citing with praise anything the Obama administration pointed to.
You know, certainly there are countries where we can look at the vetting process, ask ourselves is there more that we can do? There are always improvements that can be made, and there are countries that are more concerned than others. But that's one thing.
Putting in place a blanket ban and doing it as a way of disguising your real intent, which is to ban Muslims from coming here, making exceptions, essentially, for Christians, none of that was ever advocated by the Obama administration.
BLITZER: So just to be precise, the illegality, from your perspective, is what, that it implies that Muslims are being discriminated against? Is that the illegality you're talking about?
SCHIFF: I think the principle illegality is the intention of this and the impact of this, is to preclude people of a certain religious faith, Islam, from coming to this country. And that not only, I think, violates the Constitution, but it's antithetical -- antithetical to the whole historic tradition of this country.
And there's also, I think, statutes that are implicated here that preclude barring people from certain countries from coming here. So, there are a whole host of legal problems with this.
BLITZER: Because the argument could be made that, if President Obama selected these Muslim-majority, seven Muslim-majority countries for extra scrutiny, was he also discriminatory against Muslims? These are Muslim countries, by and large.
SCHIFF: No, and I think it was, you know, quite clear with the Obama administration, in everything they did and everything they said, that they were intent on not discriminating against people on the basis of their faith. They did not want to cast aspersions on all practitioners of Islam. And indeed they were often vilified by the Republicans, because they made such an effort to make sure that, whatever policies they put in place, whatever practices that they had, however they conducted their counterterrorism operations, it was about defeating terror. It wasn't about a clash of civilizations.
BLITZER: Because I'm sure, if it ever gets to that level in the court, that's the argument that the Trump White House, Trump lawyers would make.
Let's talk about Iran for a moment. The president today announced new sanctions specifically against individuals, various groups inside Iran because of its ballistic missile tests.
But the president also says all options are on the table. He's not ruling out any option, including the military option. If the president were to go ahead and want to use military action against Iran and ask for congressional authorization, would you vote for it?
SCHIFF: Well, on the basis of what we've seen so far, no. There's no case for the use of military force. We should impose sanctions on Iran for violating the ballistic missile provisions of the U.N. security resolutions. I think that's appropriate. I don't want to see, however, the administration try to unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear agreement.
BLITZER: Which you supported.
SCHIFF: Which I supported and which I think has kept Iran from pursuing the bomb, at least for a substantial period of time. So, I don't want to see this as a pretext--
BLITZER: Do you worry that agreement is in jeopardy?
SCHIFF: I worry that the administration may take steps to undermine the agreement, cause it to collapse. That would concern me greatly, because then Iran just goes back to enriching, and then you're on a pathway that could lead to a military conflict.
But at this point, there's no, I think, no case to be made for military force. I don't even think the Trump people are advocating that.
BLITZER: Are you with the president and the White House when they now say that an expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank is counterproductive to the peace process? SCHIFF: I do agree with that statement. I was frankly surprised that
they made it.
BLITZER: You were pleased?
SCHIFF: You know, I'm pleased because it's consistent with what United States policy has been. And I do think we need to find a way to get the parties in the Middle East back to negotiating a peaceful outcome, a two-state solution.
So, I'm pleased that the administration isn't doing more to provoke passions and inflame the conflict there. I think to do that in the context of this Muslim ban would be catastrophic.
BLITZER: And you also oppose the U.S. moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is that right?
SCHIFF: I don't oppose it, but I think it ought to be part of the negotiated outcome between the parties. I think trying to impose that ourselves would be, you know, very incendiary, might inflame and create a confrontation there. And I think General Mattis is probably weighing in with the president on this, and that might be guiding some of the administration's policy.
BLITZER: So you have confidence in General Mattis as the defense secretary. What about Rex Tillerson as the new secretary of state?
SCHIFF: A lot of confidence in General Mattis. I think Rex Tillerson is very much a question mark. And a big question, of course, is can he set aside a lifetime devotion to one company and its interests in behalf of the American interests?
And not just is he patriotic. I'm sure he's patriotic, but he may have very well instilled in him the idea that what's good for his oil company is good for America. I don't happen to believe that's necessarily the case.
[17:15:06] So, he may -- he may prove to us he can be just as strong in favor of sanctions on Russia as we would like. I hope so. I was heartened by what Nikki Haley said. I was a little pessimistic that there was even a symbolic lessening of sanctions on Russia, particularly with this new violence in Ukraine. But I think Rex Tillerson is an open question.
BLITZER: Stand by, Congressman. There's a lot more coming up. We're getting some breaking news: the U.S. military's Central Command now scrambling to explain an embarrassing mistake. We're learning new information about its video blunder.
BLITZER: We're back with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. We're following the breaking news, a botched video released by the U.S. military's Central Command. The images seized in a raid on al Qaeda over the weekend turned out to be nine years old. [07:20:10] Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has
got more on this development. You're getting some new information, Jim. What are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that's right. The startling new intelligence that really wasn't. Today CentCom releasing what it said was a new bomb-making video captured during that raid in Yemen against an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula compound. But it turns out that the video wasn't new or secret.
Here is that video. You see an instructor in a mask, black mask, a white lab coat saying, quote, "We would like as many people to graduate with this knowledge and expertise as possible."
Now, the military said it was releasing the video to illustrate, quote, "the sort of intelligence that was obtained during this operation."
But just hours later, CentCom admitted that the video was actually nine years old and had been circulating widely on the Internet before. Military spokesmen admitted that the video was not properly analyzed before being released to the public.
Here's White House press secretary Sean Spicer yesterday, touting the raid success, in part because of the intelligence gathered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: When you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America, and against our people and our institutions and probably throughout the world in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is -- it is a successful operation by all standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: This stumble follows earlier conflicting accounts of who originally approved of this mission. The Trump administration claims that President Obama gave the OK months ago. Obama administration officials I've spoken with, they deny that.
The White House does say that President Trump and his closest advisors were deeply involved, though, in the decision making before President Trump gave the final OK three days before that mission was launched.
I should note that Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens was killed in the raid.
To be clear, that nine-year-old bomb-making video was not the only intelligence that those Navy SEALs and their partners from the UAE gathered during the raid. And Central Command telling us, Wolf, that there was no pressure from any more senior leaders or the White House to release anything to prove that the raid was valuable -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thanks very much. And Congressman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee is still
with us. Do you regard this as a major blunder, releasing 9-year-old video and initially claiming this is new information showing how important this raid was?
SCHIFF: It was a major blunder. And when I watched, Wolf, Sean Spicer say yesterday that this was unquestionably a successful operation based on the intelligence, that did not ring true to me.
I have received a preliminary briefing, but more than that, I know that it takes time after these raids to really analyze what you've obtained to determine just how significant it is. And to say so, so quickly seemed to me that he was getting out way ahead of the evidence, and it said to me this is an administration that is very defensive. They probably told CentCom, "Send us the video. We want to push it out there. We don't have time to vet it." And they didn't, and that was a mistake.
I think what Sean Spicer needs to understand is every time he oversells or misstates or misrepresents, he loses a bit of his credibility he may never get back. And they're going to have a real problem on their hands.
BLITZER: So, just to be precise, at least as of right now, you haven't seen any really significant intelligence information that emerged from this raid that will help the U.S. down the road in fighting al-Qaeda?
SCHIFF: I'm saying it's too early to tell. I think we simply don't know the length and breadth of what we've obtained in the raid.
The raid that we did in Syria some years ago, you might remember, where we went after Abu Sayyaf, the oil emir, we got very valuable intelligence from that. And I wondered before that came in, was this going to be valuable enough to justify the risk in that operation? It took time to figure it out, and we figured out, yes, that was enormously valuable.
Here, we may determine that this was valuable, or may determine it wasn't. But it's way too early for Sean Spicer to say this was a success.
BLITZER: Based on what you know -- and I know you've been briefed, there are restrictions what you can say -- was this raid authorized during the Obama administration or the Trump administration?
SCHIFF: I don't know the answer. You know, I can say that this kind of an operation takes weeks, even months to plan. So, undoubtedly the planning began under the last administration.
But circumstances also change. So, even if the Obama administration thought this was an operation worth doing, it may be that those circumstances changed; and this president cannot lay responsibility at the feet of the last president. I really think the shelf life of blaming Obama for every mistake that goes -- everything that goes wrong under Trump, that shelf life has run out. BLITZER: We know that the Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens was killed, 12
tours of duty, father of three, only 34 years old. Other U.S. troops were injured. An Osprey, a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey, had to be destroyed, because it had that hard landing.
[07:25:08] Here's the bottom line question. Based on everything you know right now, was that operation justified?
SCHIFF: You know, Wolf, I can't say. The loss of life is terrible, and these are our most brave and patriotic people.
I will say this, though. Even if the criteria was met and the risks were justified, bad things happen; and we can't always conclude that it was a mistake because bad things happened. It's inherent in this kind of operation. So this man was a hero, and whether the intelligence was worth it or not, he's still a hero. He's always going to be a hero, and we owe his family a debt we can never repay.
BLITZER: We certainly do. And we express our deepest, deepest condolences.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Adam Schiff of California.
We're following more breaking news. We're watching new anti-Trump protests, by the way, springing up in cities around the United States. Stand by for more.
[17:30:00] BLITZER: We're following new developments as the Trump administration gets tougher with Iran. Today the U.S. imposed new sanctions to punish Iran for this week's ballistic missile test. The National Security Advisor Michael Flynn put out a statement saying, quote, "The days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions towards the United States and the world community are over." Let's bring in our correspondents, experts and guests. And David Ignatius to the Washington Post, let me start with you. These new sanctions against Iran are, I take it largely consistent with the sanctions put in place during the Obama administration. Are you surprised they are taking a similar tactic and response to this ballistic missile test?
DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Wolf, I think the important thing is that the sanctions are in line with what Obama had done. They do expand authorities. We'll have to see exactly how they apply. But there's been a very deliberate attempt by the Trump administration to make clear that these sanctions dealing with Iranian behavior in the region and missile tests do not challenge, undermine, tear up the Iran nuclear agreement. They want to keep the two separate and that's important since Trump during the campaign had suggested he might tear up the agreement. BLITZER: He often said it was the worst agreement ever. The Iranians are getting $150 billion. They're the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. But what -- I take it what you think they don't want to rip it up right now, they're trying to keep that agreement, the nuclear agreement going?
IGNATIUS: I think they do want to keep it going. They're putting more pressure on Iran. I think the interesting problem they are presenting Iran with is Iran under pressure -- but it's soft to decide it wants to end the agreement. I think that they want to force Iran to take that move. That would be very dangerous for Iran to be seen to be breaking out of the -- out of the agreement. So, I think that they think they found a way to keep the agreement, keep that pressure on Iran, even as they add new sanctions.
BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, the President is also saying all options remain on the table including the military option. But we used to hear the same thing from President Obama.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And so the question is -- and very clearly Iran is very clearly getting its bearings with Donald Trump. And doesn't exactly know as they hear things from General Flynn, doesn't exactly know where they are. So, you see them off balance a little bit. And trying to better understand exactly what he means. Is this bluster? Is this something he's going to make good on? Historically though, Iran has responded to big gestures by the U.S. to really get in line with U.S. interests. That has been for instance, the Iraq invasion, that's something that sort of made Iran turn and do what the U.S. wanted it to do. So, it seems as if they at least have to believe that Donald Trump could make good on his threats in order to get order to get in line. And of course, Donald Trump ran on this idea that he wasn't going to become more involved in the region. So, is that something his supporters would stomach?
BLITZER: Good question. Rebecca Berg, we also heard yesterday from the White House repeated today from the White House, statement, a surprising statement, critical of Israel going forward, expanding existing settlements on the West Bank. May not be helpful in achieving peace. That's what the written statement said yesterday. Sean Spicer today said, is not helpful in achieving peace. One little step further. This was a surprise given some of the statements made by Donald Trump and his top aides throughout the campaign.
REBECCA BERG, : Absolutely a surprise, Wolf. I mean, we all remember when he came out ahead of the U.N. security resolution condemning Israel's new settlements and said -- actually took Israel's side, said that the U.N. Security Council shouldn't be pursuing that resolution, defended Israel, defended Netanyahu on that. This is definitely a shift from Donald Trump. But I think it shows that he's operating in the new reality he has before him, which is that he wants peace in Israel between Israelis and the Palestinians. He wants to pursue a peace deal. Jared Kushner is the one he has put in charge of that. And I think he recognizes that if you give Israel everything they want on the front end, then there is nothing to give the Palestinians potentially. There is no way to negotiate a deal of that kind. And you know there's still also this issue of whether he would move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. That's still something that he hasn't committed to fully. I think we're going to see a lot of answers potentially out of his meeting with Netanyahu.
BLITZER: David Ignatius, I'm anxious to hear your thoughts on this. Because you covered this story for a long, long time.
[17:35:01] IGNATIUS: Wolf, I've been struck as Rebecca said, by the way now that Donald Trump is President and is thinking about how to achieve this goal. Every President in modern times has had of an Israeli/Palestinian agreement. He is modifying some of the language he used. He has -- he has moved to criticize settlements and you would not have thought a week ago that he'd -- that he'd do. And he's going much slower on the question of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Once you said I want it make the ultimate deal with the Israeli/Palestinian peace, you have to think how would I do that, how would I have the leverage to be effectively the intermediary broker.
BLITZER: Richard Quest, you're in London. How is the rest of the world looking at these initial steps by the new American President?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could all be summed up in one word, Wolf. And it's unpredictability. E.U. leaders have been meeting at their regular council meetings this time in the capital of Malta. And there you've heard E.U. -- I mean, you've heard the President of France, Francois Hollande describing Donald Trump as putting unacceptable pressure on the European Union. You've heard the President of the E.U. council Donald Tursk saying that the Donald Trump administration is an external threat. And for good reason, Wolf, Donald Trump has made it quite clear that he likes Brexit. he'd rather like other European countries to think about leaving. He already said that NATO is obsolete. He's pretty much shunned other European leaders except for Angela Merkel. And even when it comes to Angela Merkel, the two of them had a meeting that in diplomatic speak or phone call , it was just cordial. So not surprising, Wolf, that Europe -- look, are they worried? Concerned is probably a better word. Do they fear? Probably yes. Most important of all, it's this unpredictability. They simply don't know what they are dealing with as he rewrites probably the most significant of all alliances, the Transatlantic Alliance.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. There is a lot more happening right now. When we come back, we'll also update you on a new CNN/ORC poll numbers. The President's job approval numbers the lowest for a new American President since these polls started many, many years ago.
[17:40:00] BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents, experts and guests. I want to go back to our newest CNN/ORC poll numbers. President Trump has low job approval numbers right now. Only 44 percent approve of the job he's doing after two weeks in office, 53 percent disapprove. Since we've been taking these kinds of polls at this stage that's about as low as it gets at any of these modern American Presidents. KEILAR: By far. So, you look at his disapproval and his approval and he's at a nine-point net negative. And that is extraordinary as people have said looking at this Presidency, that it is so far and that his candidacy was. The thing, though, to remember is as people look at that number and they say, wait, how is that then possible as we saw him even going into the election, that he was elected? It's that for Donald Trump, it's not just about a percentage point. Right? The enthusiasm for him is measured by intensity. So, if you were to talk to somebody in Donald Trump's corner they're going to say just remember not every percentage point is created equally.
BLITZER: You know, David Ignatius, the poll also shows feelings about Donald Trump's travel restrictions, the travel ban. 47 percent of the American public according to this poll favor it, 53 percent oppose it. But those who oppose it, among other things, say -- and you're an expert in this area, that it is generating more potential hatred of the United States and may be becoming some sort of base for additional home grown terrorists out there who think this is simply an anti- Muslim ban. Do you believe that?
IGNATIUS: Well, I've written that. I think many counter terrorism experts would make that argument, that by -- in a sense affirming the narrative of ISIS that America has an anti-Muslim agenda, this ban on seven Muslim majority country travel in some ways played into the adversary's hands. The other thing that worries me is Muslims in America, we count on to be vigilant, to tell law enforcement about dangers. They need to feel that they're fully part of the country and that this make Muslims in America feel more separate -- feel injured in this first two weeks of the Trump Presidency.
BLITZER: Rebecca, the job approval number for the President right now, we took a look at other recent American Presidents at this stage, two weeks in, and you can see President Obama's job approval number in February of '09 was 76 percent. You can see all these other Presidents, Ronald Reagan's was at 51 percent. Trump is only 44 percent. How is this going to affect his ability worldwide, if you will, to govern?
[17:44:43] BERG: Well, even here at home, Wolf, it's going to make it much more difficult for Donald Trump to get things done. He can do a number of things by executive order, as we've seen. He can he do a number of things internationally. Solely through the power of the executive, but on most of the big things he wants to do, he's going to need congress. And the less popular he is, the more emboldened democrats will be to take him on and the less likely republicans will be to be pressured to support him necessarily on some of the more controversial tough issues. And so, he needs his popularity to go up because that means their constituents, the people that congress people represent are going to be pressuring them to support Donald Trump as well.
BLITZER: Richard Quest, you're an expert on business. Today the President, he signed another executive action, at least beginning the process of trying to do away with some of the financial reform regulations from Dodd-Frank. I want you to you listen to what the President said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank because frankly I have so many people, friends of mine that had nice businesses, they can't borrow money, they just can't get any money because the banks just won't let them borrow because of the rules and regulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So, is the President correct based on everything you know?
QUEST: Listen, it's fascinating. I've got friends of mine who can't borrow money. You don't hear many new U.S. Presidents talking in those terms as they are about to undertake one of the most dramatic reformations of the financial industry. It's a tricky one this, Wolf, because everybody accepts that there are things that need to be changed about Dodd-Frank. Whether it's the Volcker rule, whether it's the consumer protection, whether it's the reporting requirements. It's a really -- I mean, it's 1500 sections. Thousands of pages. But how do you do this without throwing the baby out with the bath water? And the real fear is that what we've got here is a messianic wish to get rid of Dodd-Frank rather than a measured move to sort of side it back, to get rid, keep the good and lose the bad. And if you do lose the whole thing, well you're back to the wild west because, remember why Dodd-Frank came in in the first place. It was the great recession, 2008-2009, the Laissez-Faire, lack of financial regulation. So, yes, by all means change or modify Dodd-Frank, but it's playing with fire to, as he says, cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank.
BLITZER: But so far Wall street, Richard, seems to like the possibility that a lot of these financial regulations are going to be removed.
QUEST: Earnings, Wolf, earnings. Absolutely. They love what they're seeing at the moment. The idea of repatriation of foreign profits, lower corporate taxation, less regulation, the ability to do more M & A and more deals. But I've said before and I still believe that if this equation starts to become more nuanced and then balanced by issues of trade and issues of problems with overseas relations and commercial interests, then you're going to see Wall Street being far more concerned. Look, no doubt about it, it was tremendous to see so many business leaders from so many industries going to the White House and talking toe to toe with the President of the United States. That's a huge, huge improvement for business.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. There's more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM involving the terror investigation in France right now. Authorities have just announced the suspect in today's attack at the Louvre Museum is from Egypt. The -- how will this impact the global fight against terrorism, the attack that happened earlier in the week.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:50:00] BLITZER: All right, there's breaking news coming in from France now. Investigators opened a terrorism investigation after a machete-wielding man attacked a soldier outside the Louvre Museum. They've just identified the suspect who was shot and wounded. I want to bring in our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto, he's got the details. What are we learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So we're learning now that this is a 29-year-old Egyptian. He is not been identified by name. We do have some other details. He was a resident of UAE, the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is. He was issued a tourist visa to France in November, two months before the attack. And it was later in France, he rented a vehicle, bought the machetes that were used in that attack. Also we know that in his passport, the Egyptian passport, he had a visa to Saudi Arabia.
These just initial details. Nothing conclusive yet. One reason it's being investigated as a terror attack is that during the attack he shouted "Alahu akbar," God is great which we often hear. It's not definitive but you often hear from Islamic terrorists when they carry out attacks. Donald Trump this morning, you may remember, tweeted about this. We're going to put the tweet up on the screen, saying, in his words, "A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked the Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. Get smart U.S.," all in capitals there. This, of course, Donald Trump connecting it to the threat. Here I will note Wolf, actually, he's an Egyptian national. Egypt is not on the list of the seven Muslim majority countries that Donald Trump has listed in his travel ban. Also interestingly, he was a resident of the UAE, that's also not on the list of those seven countries that Donald Trump has started with this ban --
BLITZER: Very interesting. Let me get David Ignatius' reaction. What do you think David?
IGNATIUS: Well, I think the Louvre attack and the apparent identity of the attacker shows that border security is not a cure all when you think about the terrorism threat. It's a reminder that good intelligence and ultimately law enforcement are what stops these attacks. Here's somebody who was -- who was in France obviously unknown to authorities. Then suddenly, this terrible moment. But it's -- it reminds us that this threat that Donald Trump's so focused on, is one that we're all going to keep worrying about.
[17:55:06] BLITZER: Yes. We certainly are. All right guys. Everybody, stand by. There's more news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. A top Trump adviser tries to defend President Trump's travel ban by citing a terrorist massacre that never happened.
BLITZER: Happening now, playing with fire. President Trump warns Iran about the danger of provoking the U.S. And orders new sanctions to punish Tehran for testing a ballistic missile. Is the White House now embracing parts of President Obama's global policy? Walled off. The President's plan to build a barrier at the southern border is facing growing opposition from members of his own party. Released end of the way of the wall.