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Rep. Nunes Spoke to Media on Russia, Trump Reports; Trump, McMaster Don't Agree on Term "Radical Islamic Terrorism"; Trump Blasts Media after Declaring Love for 1st Amendment; Tom Perez Nominated as DNC Chair; Democrats Rally for Obamacare Antonio Villaraigosa Talks Immigration. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 25, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:07] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Brianna Keilar, in Washington.
And CNN can now confirm that the head of the House Intelligence Committee was asked by the White House to reach out to the media in an effort to knock down stories about Trump campaign's ties to Russia. This follows exclusive CNN reporting that the White House asked the FBI to do the very same thing but the FBI declined.
We're watching this now. President Trump and newly minted national security advisor not exactly on the same page when it comes to the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism." H.R. McMaster saying that phrase isn't helpful, another moniker for ISIS is.
We have team coverage for this. CNN correspondent, Athena Jones, at the White House; and CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.
Athena, the White House is clear that they think they did nothing wrong here. Tell us what's happening.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. That's right. This is an argument the White House has made for several days ever since CNN's exclusive report. Sean Spicer saying, we didn't try to knock down stories about contact between Trump aides and Russian officials during the campaign. He said we asked them to tell the truth. As far as they're concerned, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did not do anything inappropriate. They're making clear, from their point of view, that it was the FBI who initiated this conversation in the first place.
But I will say this. A source close to Trump did tell my colleague, Sara Murray, last night, there's consternation within the White House about conversations between Priebus and the FBI. The source saying this is the type of distraction the president doesn't need right now. He's trying to focus on his agenda and has grown frustrated by all the staff stories, this source went on to say. So a complicated topic that has a lot of people on Capitol Hill concerned.
KEILAR: The palace intrigue in this process, he doesn't like. It's a distraction. Elise, there's this reporting we're hearing on President Trump's
national security advisor, his brand new one, former General H.R. McMaster, breaking with his boss on the term "radical Islamic terrorism." Explain what McMaster said and, really, I guess, what he meant or how much of a break this was with Trump.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brianna, that President Trump and others, like former national security advisor, Mike Flynn, kept referring to groups like ISIS and others as "radical Islamic terrorism." And you know, that term was a loaded term. President Obama did not want to use it because they thought this kind of played into jihadist propaganda, that this was a religious war between the U.S. and the West and Islam. So what H.R. McMaster said in his first what they call an all-hands meeting of all national security council staff on Thursday is he said, this term is unhelpful to label all terrorists radical Islamic terrorism. In fact, groups like ISIS are un-Islamic. When you use that term, it plays into their hands. Another moniker that others like Secretary Kerry and some in the Arab world is Daesh, which is a derogatory slang almost term that kind of makes ISIS angry, if you will. He said that's more appropriate term to start using. Don't put this kind of full-brush label on the group. And I have to say, that is really the view of a lot of the career staff in the national security council and it was a very welcomed, I'd say welcomed opinion.
KEILAR: So the staff welcomed this. But to break this down, Elise, it is, this a way, at least, from recounting of sources, that McMaster was saying the way President Trump describes this as he's made an issue of this, calling it radical Islamic terrorism, that he truly was saying that is not helpful, that that in a way coopts all of Islam and sort of sticks it together in a way that does not help actually fighting the problem.
LABOTT: And it is against President Trump's kind of view and what he's been saying. This term radical Islamic terrorism is something he's used a lot. H.R. McMaster said Russia is not a friend. Russia is an adversary and what President Trump's officials say is listen, they have an obvious difference of opinion. H.R. McMaster isn't telling the president not to use that term. He's recommending something else that is helpful. It doesn't seem to be a massive disagreement but you see a lot of people in President Trump's cabinets have alternative views, and using different terminology, not just about Islam but about Russia. And I think you have to say that President Trump has been welcoming all of these difference opinions and he seems to be kind of impressionable to his aides and perhaps I think a lot of people in the national security council that think H.R. McMaster might be able to moderate President Trump's views and have a more moderate foreign policy going forward in this administration.
[15:05:40] KEILAR: Elise Labott and Athena Jones, at the White House, thank you to both of you.
And I want to bring in my panel, Kimberly Dozier, CNN's global affairs analyst; and Bob Baer, former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst; and also Tom Fuentes, CNN's senior law enforcement and a former assistant director at the FBI.
So the Republican heads of the Senate and the House Intel Committees call reporters at the behest of the White House to dispute media reports between team Trump and Russia. Senate Intel chair, Richard Burr, telling "The Washington Post," I felt I had something to share that didn't breach my responsibilities to the committee in an ongoing investigation."
Kimberly, Senator Burr and his House counterpart tried to help the White House with some message control here, some damage control. Is this something that we should say, wait, how can these committees really perform an impartial investigation now or do we say, maybe this isn't that far outside of the norm.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I have to say, as a reporter, that I've reached out to such committee heads and asked, when I haven't been able to get through to the White House, I asked the Republicans or Democrats, what are you hearing? Can you share anything with me from your own investigation? So, yes, part of this is business as usual, but this particular subject, whether or not Russia was helping the Trump campaign and the FBI investigation into it was radioactive on Capitol Hill, so this is going to lend credence and lend some amount of momentum to some efforts on Capitol Hill to set up independence committees to look into this subject. So, yes, the House and Senate intelligence committee have the investigations ongoing, but I think you'll see Democrats start to pick up steam and possibly pick up Republican supporters to widen this out.
KEILAR: Republicans calling for a special prosecutor. Congressman Darrell Issa considers Jeff Sessions a friend, he says, but he doesn't want to see him overseeing an investigation. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA, (D), CALIFORNIA: You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You're going to need to use the special prosecutors' statute in office to take -- not just to recuse. You can't just give it to your deputy that's another appointee. You do have to do that. We're going to have to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right, Tom, your reaction to that. What do you think? Should there be Sessions recusing him or a special investigation?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, Brianna, I think this whole thing should back up a little bit and try to find perspective. For example, you know, the reason I think that the White House is so particularly upset about the whole aspect of accusations that Trump campaign officials were meeting with Russian intelligence on a regular basis, it isn't just political anymore. It isn't just a distraction. You have members of Congress not only calling for these hearings but calling for impeachment for treason against the president and other members of his team. I think in the third and fourth week of an administration, when they're trying to put together a cabinet and have so many other picks, as well as their national security team, these are individuals that would be in the consideration pool for sensitive positions, because they're already close to President Trump from a while back. So to have accusations out there that they've committed treason, I could see why Reince Priebus and the president would want the FBI, as soon as possible, if they're not 100 percent complete with the investigation but partway through it --
FUENTES: -- and they are already saying --
KEILAR: I want to ask you, because of your background in the FBI, this idea of investigating this, because a lot of Republicans, to be clear, are not saying there is treason. They are concerned about Russia and its attempt to meddle when it comes to U.S. domestic affairs. So you have a lot of Republicans who want to look into this. Not even talking about this so much as a political issue, but they're just concerned about this in general, politics aside. If they are concerned and there should be a look into these things, should there be an independent investigation?
[15:10:13] FUENTES: I don't know that's really necessary to have but it won't hurt. If you want an independent investigation. But if the barrel was far enough along and not 100 percent complete but far enough along that in a conversation between the deputy director and Reince Priebus, the deputy director says that the reports in "The New York Times" are "B.S." according to CNN reporting, then that's a concern right there, because those reports and others like them are the basis for people calling for the impeachment of the president. And Republican now, as you mentioned, has turned into a runaway train, Republicans leaders calling for independent prosecutors and independent investigations and all of that. So the accusations themselves are radioactive and very troubling. And if they're unfounded, that ought to come out as soon as possible.
KEILAR: Bob, what do you think?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: I'm for special prosecutor. When Darrell Issa, very conservative man, voted for Trump, supported Trump, calls for a special prosecutor, I believe we need one. A special prosecutor with subpoena authority to go after the National Security Agency, the CIA. We're not at all sure who the Russian intelligence officers are. It's a key point and did the people in touch know they were intelligence officers and if they did and they're hiding that, we are bordering on treason. This is a counterintelligence problem and we need somebody who's objective and this cloud will hang over unless we clear it up. I was on the periphery of Iran Contra and what cleared it up was a special prosecutor. Ultimately, nobody went to jail but we got the truth out and this is what we want. We don't want to poison American politics with this Russian connection, which is unclear to a lot of people, including myself. And we need an independent, somebody with full authority and with a finding that's made public.
KEILAR: Do you think it's also possible, Bob -- you have someone like Paul Manafort, his former campaign director, said I was not in touch with intel officials. We also know it's possible they were without knowing that they were Russian intel officers. Is that part of what this special investigation could look into?
BAER: With all due respect to Manafort, he was working in the Ukraine, which is an intelligence cesspool. A lot of money was going around. He supported a candidate --
KEILAR: So you don't believe that assertion?
BAER: No, it's impossible. You can't go work in Moscow without, or Kiev, without running into a Russian intelligence officer. What you need to know is what is your relationship. Is it just casual or more formal? And all that money in the Ukraine, where did it end up, and what was Manafort's connection? I don't believe that. If the FBI comes out and tells me it was innocent, I'll accept that, but until now, no one said that.
KEILAR: Bob Baer, Kimberly Dozier, Tom Fuentes, thank you so much.
Coming up, President Trump rails against the media for using anonymous sources but is he guilty of the same thing?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Plus, our special report on private citizens looking to hide undocumented immigrants. We're going to take you inside a secret network of safe houses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPODNENT: Essentially what you're doing is you're trying to hide people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what we need to do.
[15:17:34] KEILAR: President Trump refusing to back off of attacks against the media. In front of a rowdy crowd at CPAC, the president continued to lash out against so-called fake news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So I am not against media or the press, but I am only against the fake news media or press. Fake. Fake.
I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Mr. Trump said no one loves the First Amendment more than he does but, hours after that speech, the White House blocked CNN and other news outlets, like "The New York Times," from covering a closed briefing.
I want to talk now about this appearance at CPAC with Matt Schlapp. He's the former political director for President George W. Bush and he is the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which puts on this annual conference just outside of Washington, D.C.
Matt, thanks again for joining us.
MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION & FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Thanks, Brianna.
KEILAR: And, you know, just tell me, this speech was long awaited. Last year, you had Donald Trump deciding not to even appear, the year before, he appeared and said things that got boos and yesterday, he got, you know, a lot of love, but what was your general impression of his speech?
SCHLAPP: You know, it was kind of an electric moment, Brianna. It's a special thing for a president to come to CPAC in his first year, in his first 30 days. The last president to do that was Ronald Reagan who had a close association with the conservative movement. I think Donald Trump is trying to have some kind of relationship that is akin to the relationship Reagan had. Because, look, it's going to be a long four years, he's going to have a lot of controversies, a lot of challenges. You want the heart and soul of your base to be with you. And I think the speech hit the sweet spot. There were more standing ovations than I've ever seen at CPAC. It was well received.
KEILAR: It was well received. I wonder though listening to it, it seemed like he focused on Hillary Clinton. He talked a lot about the media. He talked about the election. He did talk a bit about Obamacare. But then on other issues, he just seemed to kind of gloss over them. Some of the things that your typical CPAC crowd would like to hear about, tax reform and the values that really hit home with them. Is that something you noticed?
[15:20:17] SCHLAPP: I actually think he went through a pretty substantial tick list. He did bring up Neil Gorsuch, which I think that's the biggest applause line here. The heart and soul for the court is one of the most substantial challenges and biggest responsibilities a president has. You are right though.
He did spend some time talking about his frustration with the media, Brianna, I worked for a president, President George W. Bush. Presidents get frustrated with two entities, the press and Congress. The difference with Trump, when he's frustrated, he talks about it publicly.
KEILAR: He certainly does. With him coming to CPAC, considering the past two years with one he didn't come one year and then didn't get, he did not get the reception he got this year. Certainly, he drew in a crowd that very much supported him this year. As you look at that, and there's this struggle in the conservative movement for an identity, because Donald Trump is really challenged some of the things that make the conservative movement what it is. Can you speak to that and sort of that struggle to find the common identity?
SCHLAPP: Yeah, I think in my introduction of Donald Trump, I brought up the fact that the thing that conservatives were most pleased about is that we have a leader who knows how to fight. And I think conservatives have felt like they've elected Republicans time and time again who were good men and women, but they back away from the fight, whereas Donald Trump steps in to the fight.
In a few moments, here, we'll be releasing the results of our annual CPAC straw poll sponsored by the "Washington Times" and we'll go through all of the issues that conservatives care about, Brianna and what you're actually going to see is those issues match up nicely with what Donald Trump is talking about and what he's been focusing on in this first 30 days. So I actually think there's really not much of a division between what Donald Trump is trying to do and what conservatives want to see happen in the country.
KEILAR: Congressman Mo Brooks doubted that Republicans have the votes to repeal Obamacare mainly because of protests we've been seeing. What do you think about that, especially as we heard Donald Trump say he was talking about making Obamacare better yesterday? He talks about repeal and replace, but you've also heard John Boehner say repair and rebrand. And I also thought you could put that on to what Donald Trump said yesterday at CPAC.
SCHLAPP: It was interesting. He talked about the fact that Obamacare is crumbling, falling apart, it wouldn't last another year or 18 months. Even though he believes that's going to happen, he does think it needs to be repealed or replaced. I don't agree with Mo Brooks. I think much of what we need on free market health care reform can be done through the budget and through this arcane term called reconciliation which basically means the simple majority in the Senate, like you only need a simple majority in the House. I think we can do that. And actually, there's too much talk about what is the Republican version of health care reform. I think we know the main thrust of that. I just think they've got to get it done and legislative process and get going.
KEILAR: Matt Schlapp, at CPAC, thank you.
Some breaking news from the other side of the aisle. The future in part of the Democratic Party, there is, we believe new chairman of the DNC.
Let's get to Ryan Nobles.
Tom Perez being the new chairman. Ryan, tell us what happened here.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was a pretty dramatic day here in Atlanta on this second ballot, Tom Perez comes in with a victory. Perez collected 235 votes on that second ballot to keep Ellison's 200 but on the first ballot, Brianna, where Tom Perez collected 213.5 votes falling short of the threshold needed to win the election but to bring together the coalition necessary to win. What's interesting though is how this is playing out in the room and something to keep an eye on. There were many Keith Ellison supporters that represent the progressive wing of the party, the Bernie sanders wing and after it was announced that Perez won, they started yelling in the back of the room, "No big money, party for the people. And they continued to do it. Even while Donna Brazil was trying to calm the crowd down and call for unity.
That's the next big question for the Democratic Party, can they unite behind Tom Perez and form some sort of coalition that can be a true alternative to Donald Trump and the Donald Trump agenda? This is, of course, what Democrats across the country are hoping for. There's obviously, a lot of enthusiasm.
And it looks like Tom Perez is getting ready to accept his party's nomination as the next Democratic committee chairman.
But I'll send it back to you.
[15:25:19] KEILAR: We'll take it live as he begins to speak.
But as you said, Ryan, you can't even think of this in terms of the names of two guys running, but Tom Perez, that is guy with a labor background. Hillary big, Hillary Clinton supporter and someone who, you know, this may not be what Republicans wanted to hear.
You know what, sorry, Ryan, stand by.
We're going to live to Tom Perez speaking there. He has just become the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
TOM PEREZ, NEW CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE & FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: I would like to begin by making a motion. A motion I have discussed with a good friend. And his name is Keith Ellison.
PEREZ: And the motion I would like to make to the body or is a motion suspending the rules, if I may, to appoint Keith Ellison deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.
PEREZ: Now, I'm not sure.
Tell me the phrase I'm supposed to utter? That was fine. OK. Did I hear a second?
(CHEERING) PEREZ: All for?
PEREZ: The silence is deafening. The motion passes.
REP. KEITH ELLISON, (D), MINNESOTA & NEW DEPUTY DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONALC COMMITTEE: Allow me to congratulate our chair --
-- on successfully passing his first motion.
But I just want to say to you that I'm very, very proud of Chairman Perez. In this race, he conducted himself with class and grace.
ELLISON: I want to say that everybody you see in front of you -- I tell you, it's so funny. There was a news report that our race was boring because we weren't attacking with each other at some point. Remember that? We were all quite proud we were not forming the circular firing squad.
ELLISON: And I just want to say to you that, if you are wearing the T-shirt or any T-shirt, I am asking you to give everything you got to support Chairman Perez.
ELLISON: You love this country.
ELLISON: You love all the people in it.
ELLISON: You care about each and every one of them, urban, rural, suburban, all colors, all cultures, all faiths, everybody.
(CHEERING) ELLISON: And they are in need of your help. And if we waste even a moment going at it over who supported who, we are not going to be standing up for those people. We don't have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided. We don't have that luxury.
[15:30:00] I just want to say to you that it's my honor to serve this party under chairmanship of Tom Perez. And I just want to say to you I have a list of people to thank that is far too long for me to recite this moment but I'll try if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank all of you all that worked hard on the campaign, all who cooperated and helped. I want to thank Lee Saunders, just an awesome brother. Randi Weingarten and David Cox of our federal workers. I want to thank Lilly Garcia and Larry Cohen. I want to thank all of you. And if I missed you, charge it to my head and not my heart, because I love you and I'm grateful to you.
And to my family who came from far reaches, Brian, Tony, Eric, and all here. And I love you guys and thank coming. My sisters and Melissa here, thank you.
And I got a great friend and I want to thank her and all of you for being here today so I'm about to give back the microphone to my chairman and tell you the earnest work that we must do to confront Trump, yes, but even beyond that, beyond that, to establish a country in which everybody can aspire to a good life. That country, the Democratic Party. We've got earnest sincere work to do under the leadership of Chairman Perez and all of us are going to help them and all of you are going to help them.
Thank you all very much.
TOM PEREZ, NEW CHAIRMAN, DNC & FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: We have been joined by two, three members of Congress, stalwarts from the House of Representatives, fighters. Maxine Waters, Greg Metes, anybody else?
PEREZ: Thank you so much for joining us on stage.
These folks I had the privilege of working with at the Labor Department and the Justice Department before that, and they have been such remarkably successful people.
So you know what folks, I'd like you to give one more round of applause to the other candidates on this stage, because you know what, folks --
PEREZ: I practically found myself, when I first got in this race, going into their web site because I was learning a lot. Sally and I talked about our shared interests in building parties. Jehmu and I had a drink last night at about 11:00 talking about our shared interest in making sure this party works in every zip code.
KEILAR: Big headlines there out of Atlanta, as this competition for who's going to chair the Democratic National Committee, and the outcome clear, it's Tom Perez, former labor secretary.
Let's bring in Ryan Nobles. He's there watching all of this.
And it was fascinating, Ryan, that Tom Perez got up there to accept this nomination and then very quickly said that he wanted to move for Keith Ellison to be the deputy chair. Keith Ellison saying we don't have the luxury to walk out of this room divided. There was a lot of talk about which wing of the Democratic Party is going to really push towards the future, is it going to be Keith Ellison and the sort of Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing or Tom Perez and the more moderate faction that has some connections to labor? He also was a Hillary Clinton supporter. And they're really trying to show they're unified here.
[15:34:32] RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's pretty clear, Brianna, Tom Perez didn't really even give an acceptance speech. Immediately turned it over to Keith Ellison for this job of deputy chair which I don't believe really exists in the Democratic National Committee. They'll elect a vice chair so this was a position created in a moment in order to tamp down kind of the mood in this room. Up until that point, the Ellison supporters were still making their voices heard in a big way screaming their disapproval of Perez. But Ellison did an incredible job of calming down those tensions and made sure his supporters understood he was behind Perez, and a party that was broken apart was not going to be successful in moving forward. At one point, he said he was asking all of his supporters to get behind Chairman Perez just like he was going to do. So, you know, Ellison spoke for quite a while here about his goals for the party and where he wants to see the party move forward so it's clear that Tom Perez understands the job he has here in front of him. It was very close but he's got a lot of work to do to bring together all of these different factions.
What's interesting, Brianna, it's not as if they don't have passion, enthusiasm, and support for their ideals. It just seems to be the fashion in which they're organized. We've seen these women's marches that have took place across the country. Largely progressive. Democratic voters. We've seen the reaction in these Republican town has across the country. The energy is there. It's just going to be up to leaders like Tom Perez to channel that energy into the type of way that can be a true check on the Trump administration and then lead to electoral victories. They've got races coming up in Virginia and New Jersey this year and midterm 2018 aircraft wo, a lot of work for Democrats to do.
KEILAR: Ryan Nobles, we'll get back with you.
Let's listen to Tom Perez as he addresses the crowd.
PEREZ: That's the real viewpoint for you New Yorkers and that's why they could come together so we could come together. I need to tell you folks at the outset, I know that I have more questions than answers. I told you before this morning that team tom means team and as a team, we will work together. I will be calling you with regularity and my first question will be, what should we be doing and I will not simply be calling the voting members of the DNC but placing house calls with so many others. This past Monday, for instance, I was in Seattle and we had a remarkably spirited discussion. Not only with voting members but with other spirited Democrats across the spectrum of the Democratic Party. That's what we need to continue to do. We need to make House calls. We need to listen to people. We need to get back to basics and we need to move forward. Because I am confident, my friends, I am confident that when we lead with our values and lead with our actions, we succeed. That is what the Democratic Party has always been about. And that is what we will continue to be about.
PEREZ: When we communicate our message of inclusion and opportunity for everyone, the big tent that we are, that is our strength, my friends and when we have these conversations, sometimes spirited, sometimes difficult. That's not a sign of weakness. That's a sign of strength as a party and that's what we will do.
PEREZ: Someday, they're going to study this era in American history and study it alongside the Know Nothing movements and ask the question, of all of us, where were you in 2017 when we had the worst president in the history of United States and we will all be able to say, whether you're sitting here or whether you're sitting outside or looking across America, we'll all be able to say the united Democratic Party lead the resistance ensure this president was --
PEREZ: -- and elected Democrats across this country, from the school board to the Senate to the state treasurers --
PEREZ: -- to the state secretary of state to Senator and governors to District 6 in Georgia to New Jersey and Virginia. November and next year, we're going to have a correction in all of these states --
PEREZ: -- like Maryland and elsewhere, where there's no business having a Democrat -- having a Republican in the governor's race. That's what we're going to do when we lead with our values, when we unite as you say. That is what we do and that is how we succeed.
Dr. King said the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be inevitable setbacks, rocky places of frustration. And at times, our feet may grow weary, but we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. [15:40:07] I come to you my friends when an unrelenting optimism in
our capacity to move forward because I have had the privilege and Keith has had the privilege and all of us have had the privilege of getting to know you. I know we can win the battles ahead and I know we will win the battles ahead when we put our values forward and we lead together. When we mobilize this grassroots energy, because January 20th was an undeniably important day, but January 21st and beyond, was far more important for America. Millions of people stood up and said, Donald Trump, you do not stand for America. Donald Trump, we will not allow those values to divide America and that is what we will do as a party leading with our values, moving forward. That's how we will win.
It is an unmitigated pleasure and privilege to take this gavel. And I recognize I have a lot of work to do. I recognize I have a lot of learning to do and I would simply ask everyone across America whether you're a Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated, another party, to simply listen to our message. Come with an open mind because, you know, folks, our values of inclusion and opportunity, we have those shared values and when we lead together, that is how we succeed and I will be out there listening and learning a lot in the weeks ahead.
And I want to say thank you to everybody in this room regardless of who you supported because you supported the value of the Democratic Party. That is our strength.
Thank you very much.
And I want to relinquish the chair back to someone that I want to end by asking you to give Donna Brazil a remarkable hand because Donna Brazil came in during --
KEILAR: KEILAR: OK, Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, wrapping up his remarks there in Atlanta.
I want to bring in Ryan Nobles.
It's fascinating, Tom Perez, although he was the winner narrowly, besting Keith Ellison, who was really the pick of the liberal side of the party, he paid so much homage to Ellison. He said, as you put it, create a position for the deputy on the spot.
And it's a reaction from Bernie Sanders out just moments after Tom Perez won: "I congratulate Tom Perez on his election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and look forward to working with him but look at this part." It says, "At a time when Republicans control the White House, the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and two-thirds of all state Houses, it is imperative for Tom to understand that the same old is not working and must open to working people and young people in a way that's never been done before. Now more than ever, the Democratic Party must make it clear it is prepared to stand up to the 1 percent and lead forward in economic and environmental justice."
If you read between the lines there and it seems like Tom Perez understood this, ignore the liberal wing of the Democratic Party at your peril, right?
NOBLES: Exactly right, Brianna. You could take it a step further because when you think about it, Bernie Sanders isn't even a Democrat. He ran for president as a Democrat but always been an independent and he represents this new strain in American politics where more and more Americans don't really identify themselves with a political party and the power and influence of political parties is waning. Donald Trump is president of the United States. He's not a traditional Republican in any sense. So part of the job for Tom Perez here in addition to bringing together all of these factions of the Democratic Party is making the Democratic Party matter again, getting young people and millennials involved in a way that identify themselves as Democrats because it's so much more difficult to organize and bring people together, get them out to the poles when you are unified under one banner but when you have kind of everybody out there co coming from different perspectives and ideas, it's a lot more difficult to channel that energy behind one candidate so that's another thing that Tom Perez is going to have to concern himself with but no question that if they don't find a way to reach out to this progressive wing of the party, it could turn out to be trouble for them in these elections going forward.
[15:45:50] KEILAR: He said I have a lot of work and learning to do and going on a bit of a listening tour by tone with a lot of DNC members. Ryan, can he succeed? That's the question. We will see.
Ryan Nobles in Atlanta.
And we'll be right back with more news after a moment.
KEILAR: Just steps away from where Democrats chose their new party leader, organizers are rallying for Obamacare.
CNN's Karin Caifa is live in Atlanta where the rally is under way. Folks walking behind her there.
Tell us about what you've been seeing there, Karin?
KARIN CAIFA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This group was a little slow to get started but once they did, they were very spirited about what they want and what they're trying to do is have a non-partisan rally saying their message, Democrats, on their way to the hotel where the Democrats just elected Tom Perez, their DNC chair, and Republicans and the message is get together, come up with some sort of plan that people are allowed to keep what they've got under the Affordable Care Act and this is part of the rallies taking place across the country today in many places when Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders called for an action today on February 25th, today, before lawmakers head back to Washington and this Obamacare debate kicks up in earnest on Capitol Hill. Trying to put a human face on this amidst of all of the politics and make their voices heard -- Brianna?
KEILAR: They're walking over to where we learned the new chairperson of the DNC has been nominated. Are they aware of this? What is the reaction to this?
[15:49:34] CAIFA: They have been in the march but eagerly awaiting the announcement. They knew it was narrowed down to Tom Perez and Keith Ellison and watching it carefully but the message that they want to get across to Democrats is when we think of these Affordable Care Act protests and marches, we think of those in favor of the ACA, aiming their words at Republicans. That's part of it. What they're doing here in Atlanta today in going past the DNC meeting, knowing that many of those people who are participating in that meeting are going to head back to Washington and be part of the legislative aspect of this. They want to say to them -- keep fighting, keep fighting harder. I'm sure once they stop out here and learn, all of them, who the new DNC chairman is, they will have a pointed message for him as well.
KEILAR: Karin Caifa for us, in Atlanta, thank you.
Joining me now to talk about what we saw at the DNC and on the all- important issue of immigration that's been in the headlines, is the former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa.
Thank you so much, Mayor, for joining me.
ANTONIO, (D), FORMER LOS ANGELES MAYOR: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: I want to get your reaction to what you've heard coming out of this election. This is a big task that Tom Perez has ahead of him. Trying to restore some of the cohesion in the Democratic Party.
VILLARAIGOSA: No question, Brianna. But I want to kind of dispute the notion that liberals or progressives are on one side and moderates on another. The fact of the matter is, there were folks on all sides supporting two great, well actually more than two great candidates, but the two finalists, if you will. And in the end, a united party that doesn't mean that there won't be debates, or discussions around strategy --
KEILAR: When had you it announced that he was the nominee there, before he appointed Keith Ellison as the deputy, by motion, you had people yelling in protest in the back of that room.
VILLARAIGOSA: I heard it I heard the yelling. I've been in a few victory nights. And also, a night where I lost. And people do that. But the two of them --
KEILAR: You were at the convention, we saw that -- we have seen, you saw in a way that we have not seen, at other conventions, a division. There were protests there from Bernie Sanders supporters. There has been a lot of tension. I mean, if you -- I understand you're saying there needs to be unity but to say at this point that there is unity. Isn't that sort of ignoring some of the clear disunity that we've seen? VILLARAIGOSA: Actually, I thought both individuals ran a great
campaign. They talked about the important issues facing the nation. The need for us to come together. I'm not suggesting, I'm not a Pollyanna suggesting there isn't disagreement in the party. There's never been unanimity. I've been going to conventions since San Francisco, 1984. But there's clearly two leaders willing to work together to unite the party. You heard Chairman Perez talk about the importance of going on a listening tour. Hearing from people about what we need to do, going forward. I thought it was a really great moment for the party.
KEILAR: I heard some people say when they, when they look at a little bit of that tension and the need to unify the party, they've said you know what it really comes down to is having a candidate come out here in four years who is someone who can unify the party. Someone that even if there are some folks who maybe aren't on board with all their policies, this is at least someone who can convince them that they are the better option. In a way that for instance, then-Senator Obama did back in 2008. You did certainly have some divisions then between the Hillary Clinton side and the Obama side. Is that how you see it that this requires the tall tonight come in?
VILLARAIGOSA: We certainly need a candidate. But I think it is important that the party work across the nation to build up the party to make sure that we're not just working at election time. But really creating an informed citizenry that's committed to a more progressive path nor great country. And certainly, a path very distinct to the one that we see today. And you know I'm excited. I think both individuals are going to work together and we're going to get behind a candidate. But there's a lot of work that we need to do in states and cities across the nation.
KEILAR: I want to talk to you about immigration, an issue that is certainly very important to you and so many millions of Americans as well. I know you heard some of the rousing applause that President Trump got yesterday at CPAC when he talked about his view on the issue. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're getting bad people out of this country, people that shouldn't be, whether it's drugs or murder or other things. We're getting bad ones out. Those are the ones that go first. And I said it from day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So we look at the statistics, and you actually look back at President Obama, who earned the moniker from some on the left as deporter-in-chief. And he actually deported more people of the kind that Donald Trump is describing. People with records, really. Serious crimes. Drugs, violent crimes. You see there the numbers. President Obama deported almost, about a million more people than George W. Bush did. When you hear him saying that, you hear so much panic, because many people are looking at the new regulations that give expanded abilities at the local level to deport. What do you think is really happening now, compared to what happened under President Obama, which was pretty robust, anyway?
[15:55:47] VILLARAIGOSA: Well, first of all, earlier in your show, rightfully, you were speaking about President Trump's attack on the media, on CNN, "The New York Times," the "L.A. Times." him talking about fake news. Well point of fact, according to the "Washington Post" and political fact, virtually everything, 75percent of the things that came out of his mouth during the campaign was fake. A misrepresentation of fact. Another one was just yesterday. When you hear this man say that these, we're getting out the bad hombres, the criminals, in point of fact, according to the National Academy of Science, in a very authoritative study, immigrants commit five times less crimes than native-born people. That's just a fact and that includes Mexican immigrants. The fact is we spend more at the border than we ever have in our history. That's a fact. He's going to increase the ICE By 10,000 officers, we already spend more on border enforcement than we do for the FBI, the ATF and the DEA. They're rounding up people who have been in the case of a woman, a victim of domestic violence, coming out of court. People who have gotten parking tickets --
VILLARAIGOSA: -- jaywalking. That kind of thing, frankly is just wrong. Let's fix this broken immigration system.
KEILAR: Mayor, I'm so sorry. I'm up against a break here.
Former Mayor Villaragosa, we appreciate you being with us and sharing your thoughts on new leadership in the Democratic Party and also immigration.
Quick break and we'll be right back.
KEILAR: We're following some breaking news coming to us out of Atlanta where Tom Perez, former labor secretary under President Obama, has been given the gavel there. He's going to be the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the head of the party, which, of course, is facing major challenges.
Something that was really fascinating about this, just a moment ago, was the man there on the far right of your screen -- you can only see a bit of him there, he's partially obscured -- that is Keith Ellison, and he represented more of the liberal wing. He had Bernie Sanders behind him.