What's Next On The Trump Agenda
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
In the last two days, we've seen the inauguration of a new president, the reaction to it and Donald Trump's reaction to the reaction. Donald Trump took the oath of office on Friday in front of a crowd of supporters on the National Mall, and he did not like the reports that his crowd was smaller than several previous inaugurations. Yesterday, at the CIA, he said this.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But we had a massive field of people. You saw that - packed. I get up this morning. I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I said wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, the field was - it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Also yesterday, hundreds of thousands of women marched in Washington and cities around the country and the world. We're joined now by national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
Good morning, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's start with those marches yesterday. What's the significance, in your view, of events like this? Will the protests have any effect on President Trump and his administration?
LIASSON: That depends on whether the protests turn into the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, whether these marchers stay engaged, turn out to vote in 2018 and 2020 for Democratic candidates - or if they fade away. I think Donald Trump has really said it all this morning when he tweeted, quote, "we just had an election. Why didn't these people vote?" Trump also does not like the size of his assets questioned, whether they are buildings, finances or especially crowds. You heard him at the CIA yesterday.
And today he also tweeted that 31 million people watched the inauguration on television, which he said was 11 million more than four years ago. And yesterday, you can see that these marches are already having an effect on the Trump administration because his press secretary, Sean Spicer, came to the briefing room at the White House to admonish reporters that they had been underplaying the size of Trump's crowds. Here's a little bit of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SEAN SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We should say here, Mara, that was a lie essentially. President Trump's first full day in office, he made an important stop to the CIA. Tell us why he went and what he did there.
LIASSON: The purpose of that stop was to reassure the intelligence community that they had his full support, which he did say. He said, I'm with you 1,000 percent. This is after he had compared them to Nazi Germany. He stood in front of the Wall of Heroes at the CIA - those are the plaques for CIA agents who died in service to the country - and then he started lashing out at the media. He blamed them for creating the feud between him and the intelligence community.
And as you just heard, he talked about the size of his crowds.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's talk a little bit about Friday and the inaugural address. Commentators are saying it's a speech like no other.
LIASSON: It was a speech like no other - very dark. I think it was directed at his base. And these kinds of speeches, very similar to the one he gave at the convention, have been very effective for him. I think around the world, our allies blanched at his slogan, only America first - sounded like he was declaring an end to the American idea where America stands up for democratic values around the world and sees our economic and national security interests in a stable world with as many democracies as possible.
But what's interesting to me about the speech is, so far, the deafening silence from Republicans in Congress about the speech and the themes. He really laid out a very different path for the Republican Party. And so far, you aren't hearing a lot of Republicans saying, yes, America first - only America first is our new slogan.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And really, just in a few sentences, will these protests affect how President Trump will govern?
LIASSON: I think that depends on who co-opts who. The Republican Party wants to manage Trump. Trump wants to co-opt them, harness them for his new nationalist, protectionist agenda. I think we'll see if he can pass that $1 trillion infrastructure plan. But that being said, despite small crowds, despite low approval ratings, Donald Trump is in a very strong political position. He has both houses of Congress, and he has a growing economy, growing GDP, shrinking unemployment, growing household incomes. Now the question is, what will he do with it?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mara Liasson, thanks so much.
LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.