tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 26, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PST
story tv episodes. less than two weeks into the donald trump presidency, cnn will be hosting a town hall with the house minority leader democrat nancy pelosi. she will field questions from audience members from across the country. what is the democratic strategy in the donald trump era? i'll moderate tuesday night 9:00 p.m. on cnn. that's it for "the lead." i'll turn it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." he also is not going to keep his mouth shut. >> happening now. you're canceled. mexico's president calls off the meeting with president trump after declaring his country won't pay for a border wall. the white house responds by suggesting president trump could fund the wall by imposing a 20% tax on imports from mexico. tonight the white house is walking that back. pushing an investigation, the president backs off his false claim of widespread voter fraud by calling for an investigation, but is there really anything to investigate? stump speech, the president takes a trip on air force one to
a gop congressional retreat. he gives a campaign style pep rally, but leaves without taking questions from lawmakers. are they on the same page? and the opposition, president trump's chief strategist who previously added a right wing website says news organizations have been "humiliated by the election results." he calls the news media the opposition party and says it should, quote, keep its mouth shut. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news, tensions exploding over a plan to build a border wall after saying his country will not pay for a wall, mexico's president cancels a meeting with president trump. the white house followed that stunning move by suggesting that attacks on imports from mexico could pay for the wall. that would hit american
consumers in the pocket as they pay higher prices for a vast array of products from mexico. the president meanwhile picks up where he left off with his unfounded claim of voter fraud and he says he'll pickup his pen again. this time he's ordering an investigation saying he wants to keep the ballot box secure and safe, but republican lawmakers are unimpressed by the president's claims. the house oversight committee chairman jason chafe its an aggressive investigator says he doesn't see any evidence of voter fraud. we're standing by to see if the president will sign that order tonight. president trump meanwhile is pushing -- pushes ahead as he takes his first flight on air force one to the congressional republican retreat in philadelphia. as the white house and gop leaders work to coordinate legislative action, mr. trump calls it a chance to achieve great and lasting change. but critics say his actions could side track the agenda. i'll speak with democratic senator robert menendez and our
correspondents analysts suggest they are standing by with full coverage of today's top stories. president trump is facing his first major diplomatic fire storm as he keeps busy signing executive actions. let's start our coverage with our senior congressional reporter manu raju. manu, is the president about to start a trade war with mexico? >> reporter: well, wolf, i can tell you some top republicans are growing increasingly concerned about the president's policies towards mexico and this recent proposal by the white house to impose a 20% tax on mexican imports in order to pay for the wall. tonight, wolf, the white house trying to walk that suggestion back and at the heart of that is the -- how to pay for the wall with mexico, republican leaders grappling trying to find out how to do just that. tonight donald trump trying to unite republicans in congress who have been uneasy about some of the new president's early moves. >> nice to win.
do we agree? it's been a while. >> reporter: after his first trip aboard air force one as president, trump addressing gop lawmakers at a party retreat in philadelphia. >> this is our chance to achieve great and lasting change for our beloved nation. >> reporter: but his trip overshadowed by his first diplomatic fire storm. the decision by mexican president enrique pena nieto to cancel a meeting with trump next week in washington. amid the country's refusal to pay for a new wall along the border, one of trump's central campaign promises. >> the president of mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week. unless mexico is going to treat the united states fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and i want to go a different route. we have no choice.
the american people will not pay for the wall, and i have made that clear to the government of mexico. >> reporter: and the president blasted nafta, the trade deal with mexico and canada, that many republicans on capitol hill strongly support. >> nafta has been a terrible deal, a total disaster for the united states from its inception, costing us as much as $60 billion a year with mexico alone in trade deficits. >> reporter: such tough talk has unnerved some top republicans. >> i don't see any benefit in trying to crawl back into our shell as a country. we can't do that economically. we're obviously next door to mexico. as i frequently tell my friends in mexico, i said, we can't get a divorce. we need to figure out how to make this marriage work. >> reporter: gop leaders tried
to side step the feud between trump and mexico and revealed the cost u.s. taxpayers may have to shoulder if trump fails to get mexico to pay for the wall. do you think the president should tone it down to salvage this relationship with mexico? >> i don't have any advice to give to the president about that issue. we are moving ahead. as the speaker pointed out to our group yesterday, with, what? yeah, roughly yeah, 12 to $15 billion. we intend to address the wall issue ourselves, and the president can deal with his relations with other countries. on that issue and other issues. >> are you concerned about the relationship with mexico? >> i think it will be fine. >> reporter: now, to pay for that wall, wolf, sean spicer, the white house press secretary on the way back from philadelphia, telling reporters that they're looking at the idea of imposing a 20% tax on mexican
imports and as soon as that suggestion came out, republicans started to push back, including lindsey graham of south carolina, john mccain of arizona, john who reported there in this piece raising deep concerns about this idea. immediately afterwards, wolf, the white house starting to walk that back. sean spicer saying this is just one thing they're looking at. they have not embraced this idea. it is just illustrative of the proposals they are looking at how to pay for this wall. not embracing that quite yet. still an open question, but how exactly to pay for this wall that could cost upwards of $15 billion. >> this crisis of mexican-u.s. relations clearly escalating. let's see what happens next. manu raju in philadelphia for us. president trump is following up his unfounded claim of widespread voter fraud by ordering an investigation. our justice correspondent pamela brown has been looking into that. pamela, i take it not much congressional enthusiasm for this kind of investigation?
>> not at all. in fact, they're coming out and saying they don't want to investigate this and, wolf, the executive order may be signed soon, but how to proceed from here is unclear. for officials within the department of justice because there is simply no precedent for this. president trump is expected to soon sign an executive order authorizing a voter fraud investigation. the president declaring the investigation is needed to keep the ballot box safe. as he addressed republican congressional leaders today at a retreat in philadelphia. >> we are going to protect the integrity of the ballot box and we are going to defend the votes of the american citizens. >> reporter: but some republican lawmakers tell cnn they believe any investigation would only serve as a distraction. since the claim of widespread voter fraud which he says cost him the popular vote is baseless. >> i think it's dangerous ground because it begins to undermine the base of the constitution which is the idea of a fair election. >> we have a lot to do and those
issues kind of -- can distract us. >> reporter: the white house says there is no harm in conducting the probe. >> he is the leader of our democracy and he wants to make sure the under girding hallmarks of our democracy are protected. one person one vote. what is everybody afraid of? >> reporter: volter fraud investigations are normally triggered when the fbi and department of justice discover credible evidence to suggest fraud. not because of an order from the president. >> the u.s. department of justice is an independent agency. in order for the justice department to do its job and to work and function well, it has to do so independent of direction from the president and must completely stay above politics. >> have a good time, everybody. >> reporter: president trump continues to cite a few 2012 report. but the study's author david becker has repeatedly told cnn the study found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
>> there is a big leap between an out of date record and administrative inefficiency on a list and the act of voter fraud. it just doesn't happen. >> there are millions of votes -- >> reporter: in an interview with abc news wednesday, the president said becker must be groveling. >> take a look at the pew reports. >> i called the author of the pew report last night and he told me that they found no evidence of -- >> really, why did he write the report? >> he said no evidence of voter fraud. >> excuse me, then why did he write the report? according to pew report then these groveling again. >> reporter: the president insisted he would have easily beaten hillary clinton in the popular votes if he wanted to. >> i would have won the popular vote if i was campaigning for the popular vote. i would have gone to california where i didn't go at all. i would have gone to new york where i didn't campaign at all. i would have gone to a couple of places that i didn't go to. and i would have won that much easier than winning the electoral college. >> reporter: hillary clinton received nearly 3 million more votes than donald trump nationally. and how president trump's
attorney general nominee jeff sessions will respond to this is unclear. he has already been asked about trump's request for a voter fraud investigation by senators on the judiciary committee. it is likely he'll respond before next tuesday. wolf? >> pamela brown reporting for us. thanks very much. joining us now, democratic senator robert menendez of new jersey. he is a key member of the senate foreign relations committee. senator, thanks for joining us. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> what is your reaction to the cancellation of this planned meeting next tuesday between president trump and president pena nieto of mexico, the mexican president announced he's not coming? >> it is a major issue. he couldn't come to the united states, with the announcement that they are going to pay for the wall. mexico is our second largest export market of the world 2015, the last year we have records for. we sent about $267 billion of u.s. goods and services to
mexico. so, we have actually an export surplus when it comes to services that we provide and get paid for in mexico. so, it's our front door neighbor, and the reality is we have much intertwined in term of our respected interests and fate. so, you know, this is a major, major challenge to the u.s.-mexico relationship which is important to us in so many different dimensions. >> speaking of that, united states and mexico have a important security relationship. as you know the two nations cooperate very closely on drug trafficking, terrorism. for example, are those security agreements in jeopardy right now? >> well, i would hope not. i mean, it's in both country's interests to stop the drug trafficking, human smuggling, the variety of issues we have with gangs in the western hemisphere, particularly in central america as they try to
get their reach up into the united states. so, it's in both country's interests. but obviously when you continue to challenge a country, when you say to your neighbor who lives next door, if we were living side by side as neighbors and you say, there's no fence between us, but by the way i'm going to put one up and you're going to pay for it, that's just impossible to accept for the president of mexico and the mexican people are very proud. so, at the end of the day, this permeates the overall relationship, but i certainly hope the security element of it and the interests we mutually have will be preserved notwithstanding this challenge that we have between president trump and president pena nieto. >> now, the white house a few hours ago suggested the president wants maybe a 20% tax on all imports from mexico coming to the united states to pay for that wall for the border wall. since then the white house has now started to walk that back. they got a lot of grief from a lot of republicans, i should
say, as a result of that initial proposal, how to pay for the wall. but do you worry that the u.s. and mexico right now could be headed toward a trade war? >> well, wolf, as a senior member of the senate foreign relations committee and the ranking democrat on the western hemisphere subcommittee, and as a member the senate finance committee that deals with all tax and trade questions, yeah, i am worried because, you know what? okay, you're going to slap 20% on mexico, so, they'll slap 20% on the $267 billion that the united states sells in goods and services to their country. those are goods and services made by americans here. jobs in the united states. and at the end of the day, if that's what's going to happen, american workers suffer. and at the same time consumers suffer because the imports that come from mexico, particularly in food product among others, are ultimately going to be far more expensive for the consumer.
and we have world trade organizations obligations. i'm not sure how this sits in the context of our world trade obligations. so, at the end of the day, you don't want to start disrupting the international order because others will find the belief that if you can do it so can we. >> your senate colleague, republican senator lindsey graham, he just tweeted this and i'll put it up on the screen. let me read it to you. simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of corona, that keel a or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. mucho sad. your reaction to senator lindsey graham. he was obviously trying to instill a little humor in that. >> yeah, and senator graham and i get along very well. we see in many parts of the world eye to eye even though beer on separate sides of the aisle. he is probably, you know, one of the members of the senate who has the greatest humor in the context of being able to use it
in a very powerful way. the reality is that all those things that he talked about and thing that are far, maybe far more important like food products are going to be more costly to u.s. citizens. and when our products become more expensive if there is retaliatory tariff by mexico, that's going to affect jobs here in the united states. that's not how you become the greatest job creator ever known to man kind. and, so, you know, our challenge is we need to work with mexico and get our relationship to meet our mutual challenges, to create greater stability, greater economic growth, to control the traffic of people and at the same time protect ourselves against the scourge of gangs and drugs. but you don't do it by putting up a wall. last time a wall was built was in germany, and at the end of the day it ultimately came down. and, so, i don't believe this is the way to go. and i don't believe the taxpayers of the united states should spend nearly $20
billion -- billion dollars on a wall, the great wall of hate, at the end of the day when that 20 billion could be spent far better in creating educational opportunity, in creating jobs, in a whole host of things that are important to our country. >> paul ryan, the speaker of the house, he says $14 billion, but i know that figure is moving all the time. stand by, senator. there's a lot more to discuss, including president trump's decision to launch a formal investigation into what he regards as widespread voter fraud. your insurance company
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a diplomatic feud with mexico whose president has just canceled a white house meeting set for next tuesday after refusing to pay for a border wall. the white house now suggests a tax on mexican imports into the united states could pay for the wall even as the president is sidetracked by his false claim that massive voter fraud caused him the popular vote and must be fully investigated. let's turn to cnn's sun land. we are expecting a formal order at some point from the president launching this investigation. >> that's right, wolf. and we were expecting donald trump to sign that executive order at some point this afternoon, calling for that voter fraud investigation, but that has been abruptly postponed this afternoon. white house advisors now saying it will be pushed to be signed by president trump either friday or saturday, but certainly one of these early patterns of the donald trump administration is the signing of these executive actions. 12 so far which calls into question the big question is what does this all boil down to?
is there some substance to what he's signing or is it all symbolism? from donald trump's first day in office it has been a flurry of activity, signing one executive action after another. >> an executive order minimizing the economic burden of the patient protection and affordable care act. >> reporter: from health care. >> we'll see if we can get that pipeline built. a lot of jobs. >> reporter: to reviving the key stone pipeline. >> we've been talking about this right from the beginning. >> reporter: to immigration. putting his signature on 11 executive orders and memorandums. >> since taking office, i have taken major contractual steps to restore the rule of law and to return power to everyday americans. [ applause ] and even though it's only a few days, we've done it in record numbers. >> reporter: but are they executive orders actions and
memorandum for show or sign of change? a bit of both. legal experts say they need to have a root in a statute or constitution, but that doesn't mean they won't be challenged. for now republican leaders couldn't be more thrilled with some of mr. trump's moves. >> he's restoring the proper balance and in our opinion he is undoing a lot of damage that was done by the last president who exceeded his power. >> reporter: on obamacare trump is setting in motion a take down of the affordable care act. >> on my first day in office i signed an executive order to roll back the burdens of obamacare and pave the way for real reform, like health savings accounts that empower individuals to choose, the customize plan that is truly right for them. >> reporter: while the order contains a broad mandate for heads of agencies to minimize the economic burden of obamacare, it doesn't specify any single action that would be taken. truly ending obamacare needs to be done by congress. >> our legislative work starts with repealing and replacing
obamacare. [ applause ] >> reporter: and on immigration trump is directing the department of home land security to build a wall along the u.s.-mexico border. >> the secretary of home land security working with myself and my staff will begin immediate construction of a border wall. [ applause ] >> reporter: even though his campaign promise of having mexico pay for the wall seems to be put on hold. >> will they pay us back? >> absolutely 100%. >> the american taxpayer will pay for the wall at first? >> all it is we'll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from mexico. >> reporter: for now funding for the wall has to come through congressional appropriations which is bound to set up a legislative fight. >> the point is we are going to finance the secure fence act which is the construction of the physical barrier on the border. >> now he's saying, you know, we're going to find $14 billion to build a wall which won't work. you sort of step back and say what in god's name are we doing
or talking about? our relationship with mexico is important. >> reporter: and nearly every president in the past has used their legal authority to issue these executive orders and legal experts that we spoke to today who specialize specifically in executive actions say that it does look as of now that these actions taken by trump are in his legal right from the ones that he has signed so far. but, wolf, it doesn't mean he won't be challenged later on down the line. wofld? >> sun land, thank you. reporting today from the white house. we're back with democratic senator robert menendez of new jersey. he's a member of the foreign relations committee. senator, what's your reaction to the president's call for a major investigation into what he regards as massive voter fraud? as you know, he told members of congress that maybe 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the most recent presidential election and that's why he didn't win the popular vote because they voted for hillary clinton. what's your reaction to a full-scale investigation he is about to order? >> well, wolf, i think this is a
trump trap. to suggest that 5 million illegal votes took place in the last election is absurd. it's outrageous. it's divisive. i think you know it, i know it. and i think that even the trump people know it. but what does it do? and while we can't let it not be challenged, we obviously do. by the same token, it takes away the attention of the american people that their insurance is being taken away without the ability to know what's going to replace it. it does tremendous damage in terms of our environment for generations to come so it takes away attention from that. the freeze, hiring freeze by at a time we need our veterans to get better processing at the va, that won't happen. and then ultimately what this really is all about is voter suppression. because what you do is you make false claims about illegal votes taking place, and then you pass laws that crack down and make it
even more difficult to vote to stop the false claims about illicit votes. and, therefore, you go after groups by virtue of making it more difficult, like african americans and hispanics and seniors which i guess the president doesn't believe ultimately voted for him. and now you have suppression under the guise of greater voter integrity. and that's what i really think this was all about and it's a very cynical process. >> senator menendez, we have to leave it there. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> coming up, president trump labels his critics, quote, fools for questioning his ytd about paying for the cost of liberating iraq. >> we should have taken the oil. you wouldn't have isis if we took the oil. >> you heard the critics say that would break you will international oil taking the oil. i want to get -- >> wait a minute. can you shall who are the critics who said that? i don't call them critics, i call them fools.
id we're following the breaking news mexico's president now cancelling next week's scheduled white house meeting with the new president because of president trump's order to build the border wall. this afternoon the white house press secretary sean spicer seemed to suggest the 20% tax on mexican imports into the united states could pay for the wall, but the white house now is walking back that idea. let's bring back our political experts. david axle rod, let me start with you. the u.s.-mexican relationship right now, is it headed towards a major crisis? >> it sure feels like it, wolf. and predictability so. when you say to another sovereign nation that you're
going to build a wall and force them to pay for it, you're creating a crisis. and there is no way that president pena nieto could have come here under those circumstances. he's already in political trouble in his country, in part because he met with donald trump and didn't raise the wall with him earlier. and, so, you knew this was going to be a provocative act. to casually send your press secretary out to suggest a 20% tariff which would start a trade war with one of our largest trading partners, disaster for american businesses, it really doesn't make sense. so, we're headed for a crisis and i don't know whether it's just a crisis with mexico or governmental crisis here because as i've said before, when a president speaks it sends armys marching and marches tumbling or the alternative is people just begin not to take his word seriously. and that for our country would be a really serious problem. >> mark preston, as you know,
president trump said the cancellation of the visit, the scheduled visit by the mexican president to the white house on tuesday was a mutual decision, but it appears that president pena nieto initiated the decision after president trump signed that initial executive order declaring thatall was going forward. how embarrassing is all of this so early in this new administration? >> you know, i think for both presidents it's politically beneficial for both of them not to meet. if the president of mexico had come here and was told, you are paying for this wall and then sent home with his tail between his legs, that would have been terribly embarrassing as david axle rod says, he has his own problems back home. i think had he come here next week and sat down with donald trump and he told donald trump, we're not paying for this wall, if he went out to the national media and said, we're not paying for this wall, that would be incredibly embarrassing to somebody like donald trump who always has to have the upper
hand and certainly on an issue like this. he has made it his trademark issue. >> one of the unusual aspects of this back and forth, jim sciutto between the u.s. and mexican leaders was that it was unfolding on twitter. president trump who has more than 22 million followers on twitter, he tweeted maybe you shouldn't come if you don't want to pay for the wall, to which he announced president pena nieto to his more than 6 million followers on twitter, i'm not coming, that meeting is canceled, the back and forth on twitter and diplomacy, that's pretty unusual. >> twitter diplomacy or twitter undiplomacy because it was a bitter kind of back and forth. it's interesting, we've done a lot of talking about is this a proper way for the president of the united states to communicate. clearly other leaders are responding to it, communicating using twitter for their response or their answer, both unfriendly ones in this case or contradictory ones, and then you have other nations sort of registering their approval because we've seen russia, russian official, russian ambassador to the u.s., a very
active account here, twitter account here, registering its approval of many of donald trump's statements on various things. so, listen, whether it's proper or not or productive or constructive or not, it's clearly here to stay because sean spicer has said donald trump is certainly going to stick with this means of communication. >> brianna, you're doing reporting here in washington. the reaction you're getting from members of congress to this, i think it's fair to say it is a crisis in u.s.-mexican relations right now. what are you hearing? >> at the look at what donald trump is saying and they drastically pivot. you'll recognize that what donald trump is saying is not what republicans are saying, even though they're meeting with him today in philadelphia. so, what they'll say is he talks about building the border wall, you know, they'll say they are on board of course with border security. but they'll pivot and say this is one part, this proposed tariff and they will not use the word tariff, is just one part of this comprehensive tax reform plant we want. it's not just mexico. it's part of taxing people or --
sorry, countries who are importing to the u.s. and who we have trade deficits with. that's where we are going to get this money. it is part of a bigger piece so they're trying to make it so you don't focus on what donald trump is saying. the other slight luxury they have right now this isn't something they are really going to be getting down to dealing with for months now, after april, going into the summer. so, that's when i think we're really going to see a much bigger fight and it might be hard to avoid more public spectacle of disagreement. >> all right. everybody stand by. there is more news coming into "the situation room." we'll continue our coverage right after this. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever?
we're back with our political experts. let me go to david axle rod first. president in philadelphia at that republican retreat today did not exactly get a very enthusiastic reaction, david, when he called for this major investigation into what he regards as massive voter fraud. is he right now on a lonely crusade? >> it's more like a loony crusade, wolf, because there is no evidence, there is no evidence to support his claim. let's just review what happened here. the president lost the popular vote by 3 million votes. he cannot tolerate that inconvenient truth. and, so, he has now concocted this scenario that somehow this was stolen from him because of irregularities.
republican, democrats, secretary of states across the country and elected officials and people who over see and police the election process all agree that just did not happen. he ought to let it go. he's beginning to look really, really foolish. >> brianna, a lot of republicans are concerned. this is a distraction that could undermine their own specific legislative priorities because of all the attention that is being focused on this. >> that's right. i was talking to one top republican aide who said, we have bigger things to deal with. and when you talk to republicans, they tell you something -- republicans not in donald trump's sphere, they tell you something pretty much identical to what david axle rod is telling you. there is no evidence to support this. i was talking to one as well who said, even if there was some sort of finding or if there was a reason to do it which there isn't, elections are a state issue. we don't federal ize elections. so, it's not even really an issue that they think should be dealt with on this level, especially when you hear donald
trump talking about specifically certain states, right? >> you heard senator menendez and a lot of other democrats suggesting all of this voter fraud allegation is a cover for voter suppression. they are accusing the president of wanting to get a stronger voter id laws, for example, that would make it more difficult for some folks, minorities, older people, for example, to be able to vote. >> right. and i think with the door being open now, you're going to see those who support these stricter voter id laws using this as an opportunity to try to spread it. even more so throughout the country. we've seen probably the best organized outside group priority say they are going to make this a priority for them, meaning they are now raising money from democratic donors to try to fight back against this. and the criticism, too, of this investigation is, a, he was not very detailed about it, and b, there was never any talk about saying, okay, if we're going to investigate the system let's
investigate every bit of the system because, yes, our voter roel rolls are outdated. >> what would this investigation look like, the fbi, justice department, who launches an investigation into massive voter fraud? >> by its nature it would have to be political because no one, the fbi doesn't think there is a case here. the department of justice, anybody who has looked into it, the number of researchers don't listen to us, listen to the researchers who actually crunch the numbers, they say the election were clean with some minor very isolated cases of voter fraud. so, fbi, justice department, they have a standard. they have a standard to look into things. now, could a president trump influence his chosen attorney general to take a look at it? absolutely. but fact is we know based on the data that they wouldn't find anything. so, how long would they look in it, how many people would they deploy to look in it? it's really a political question. >> he was going to announce it
today but that is apparently being pushed back. maybe tomorrow, saturday, we'll see when that announcement takes place. stand by. a fall out after trump blasts critics of his idea the u.s. should have kept the oil after it liberated iraq. the president says those critics are fools. [john] hey, here's an idea.
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michelle, the president's remarks have caused quite a stir. >> of course. and this is one of several items that have jumped out at president trump's words this week, saying not only that the u.s. should have taken iraq's oil during the war, but that we might have another chance to do that. this is something that he has said before, but now that he's president of the united states, it's sparking reactions from confusing to disbelief. >> reporter: president donald trump, commander in chief, is criticizing the u.s. military for not taking iraq's oil when it withdrew from the country in 2011 and threatening he might still do so in the future, which would be considered a war crime. >> we should have taken the oil. you wouldn't have isis if we took the oil. >> you've heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil. but i want to get -- >> can you believe that? who are the critics that say that? fools. >> what got my attention, mr. president, is when you said, maybe we'll have another chance. >> well, don't let it get your attention too much, because we'll see what happens.
i mean, we're going to see what happens. >> reporter: it's something he said on his first full day in office, at the cia. >> the old expression, to the victor belong the spoils. do you remember, i always used to say, keep the oil. >> reporter: the new white house press secretary attempted to explain president trump's thinking. >> we want to make sure that our interests are protected. so if we're going into a country for a cause, i think he wants to make sure that america is getting something out of it for the commitment and sacrifice we're making. >> reporter: the remarks have alarmed the iraqi government. >> translator: iraq's oil is definitely, constitutionally, the property of the iraqis, and anything to the contrary is unacceptable. i do not think there is any official in the world who can claim something that is not his. >> reporter: stealing iraq's oil would likely be considered pillaging under international law, a war crime. >> we are not the vikings. we are not ghengas khan. >> iraq is the fourth largest
oil producer in the world. more than 4 million barrels a day. it has the fifth largest reserves on the planet. to somehow take that country's resource would also require enormous resources. including, likely, american lives. >> you would need to have an occupying force of at least 200,000 soldiers. we would have to go to war in order to get the oil, but putting that aside for a second, logistically, it would be impossible, in essence, you would have to pump the oil out of the ground, take control of the oil, move it to whatever market you're selling it to. >> reporter: one expert we talked to said what the president might want to be doing herestead is laying the ground work for u.s. companies to be successful in iraq in oil exploration. what's also not clear is why president trump keeps talking about this. is he trying to get some kind of reaction? does he not realize that this could violate international law? and if not, why aren't his people telling him that? we did reach out to his press secretary, but we haven't heard a response, wolf.
>> if you do, let us know. michelle kosinski reporting, thank you. coming up, mexico's president calls off a meeing with president trump after declaring that his country won't pay for a border wall. the wous responding by hinting that the wall could be funded by a tax on mexican imports into the united states.
exports to the united states. voter probe. will president trump put his official stamp on debunked allegations of major voter fraud? a possible executive action ordering an investigation apparently has been postponed. we're going o tell you what we're learning this hour. blindsided. the pentagon and cia chiefs reportedly stunned that the president is opening the door to bringing back outlawed methods of torture. will the president listen to top republicans who are adamantly pushing back? and cq tip. it turns out that mi6 tech expert famously depicted in the james bond movie isn't a man in real life. she's a woman. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room".