What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Trump bans Syrian refugees, calls for dramatic expansion of armed services

President Trump acted on one of his most polarizing promises, signing an executive action to curb the admission of refugees, including an indefinite ban on accepting refugees from war-torn Syria. Lisa Desjardins offers a roundup of news from the White House, including a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa Day and a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Read the Full Transcript

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    President Trump has had another full day, with pronouncements ranging from refugees to Russia.

    He spoke out today at both the White House and the Defense Department.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    It's big stuff.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    With the first week of his presidency over, Mr. Trump acted on one of his most polarizing promises. The Pentagon was the backdrop, as he signed an executive action on curbing the admission of refugees.

  • PRESIDENTDONALD TRUMP:

    I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don't want them here. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love, deeply, our people.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Candidate Trump repeatedly called for extreme vetting of those from countries with ties to terrorism. He first introduced the idea as a ban on all Muslims.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Last year, former President Barack Obama welcomed nearly 85,000 refugees, including more than 12,000 Syrians, and he increased the limit for this year to 110,000.

    The president also signed documents today calling for a dramatic expansion of the armed services. And he attended a ceremonial swearing-in for Defense Secretary James Mattis. Earlier, after meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the president said Mattis, who believes torture doesn't work, will have the last word on using water-boarding or other severe interrogation methods.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    I'm going to rely on him. I happen to feel that it does work. I have been open about that for a long period of time. But I am going with our leaders.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    On relations with Russia, Prime Minister May said she firmly believes in continued sanctions against Moscow, for its actions in Ukraine. But the president demurred.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that. But we look to have a great relationship with all countries, ideally. But if we can have a great relationship with Russia and with China and with all countries, I'm all for that.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Mr. Trump will speak with Russian President Putin by phone tomorrow. Today, he held an hour-long phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who canceled a visit to Washington over the president's executive order to build a border wall.

    President Trump said today's was a very good call, but he also renewed his complaint that Mexico is taking advantage of the U.S. on trade.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    The United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies and millions and millions of people losing their jobs. That won't happen with me.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    The Mexican government issued its own statement, saying the two leaders have agreed not to talk publicly about the border wall dispute for now.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And Lisa joins us now.

    So, Lisa, you reported that the president left it open whether he is going to lift the sanctions that now exist against Russia, economic and other sanctions, but we saw today Republican congressional leaders quickly weighed in.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    That's right. Not so open on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico tonight that he doesn't want to lift these sanctions. In fact, he went even further than that, Judy. He said if there's any regime in the world that doesn't deserve sanction relief, it's Russia.

    In addition, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he thought these sanctions were overdue. It seems to me, Judy, that as much as the president may be leaving an open door to sanction relief for Russia, the congressmen and leaders there see an opportunity to try and close that door tonight.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, Lisa, now on a domestic issue question, health care reform, there was an audiotape of some of the Republican congressional retreat in Philadelphia this week, and it leaked. Some interesting material on there. What do we learn from that?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    This is just unprecedented. These are private meetings where members do sort of let loose, if you will, and say things that they do not say in public.

    And here The Washington Post and others have received an anonymous tape from this. They confirmed it through several members who were in the room. And in that tape, it shows that many members of the House Republican Conference are nervous about what's ahead. They're nervous about how exactly they thread several needles, including how do they make sure that premiums don't go up, how do they make sure that no one loses their health care coverage, how do they make sure that they don't have any political fallback from this?

    And I did get a statement from the House speaker's office that these are discussions that are a normal part of legislation. But from others who didn't want to speak using their names because of this is behind closed doors, they said it's becoming clear there's no silver bullet for the House Republicans and that this is going to be messy process with some very tough votes ahead for Republicans.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Fascinating.

    And just quickly, Lisa, this has been a very busy week. And you have already got a sense of what's coming up next week.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Oh, get ready.

    Next week, we have got all of these confirmation fights already ongoing, plus a Supreme Court nominee, we expect, plus the beginnings of committee debate over how to repeal Obamacare, so buckle up.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We are buckling up. Lisa Desjardins at the White House, thank you.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest