Return to Transcripts main page
Spicer Expected to Talk Travel Ban, Wiretapping, Obamacare, Budget at White House Press Conference. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired March 16, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But if you look at some of the things written about wiretapping and eavesdropping - and don't forget, when I saw wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers -- because wiretapping is pretty old- fashioned stuff, but covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody talks about that was in quotes. That's a very important thing. But wiretap covers a lot of things. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: David Urban, if Director Comey comes out at the public hearing and says what Chairman Schiff has said, and says President Trump was never wiretapped, what's the president's move? Will he apologize? Will he take back what he said?
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: I don't profess to speak for the president. Let's see what he says.
BALDWIN: Very well.
URBAN: If he says wiretapped, there may be broader forms. We talk about it here. But surveillance is different than wiretapping. Again, very narrow definition by the FBI director to run through the rain without getting wet.
BALDWIN: Who is advising the president to stay away -- this is a self-inflicted crisis. This is a pickle he put his administration in. Who is advising him, Mr. President, maybe you should steer clear of doing that?
URBAN: I know the president makes decisions -- gathers information from the folks in the Oval Office and makes additions on his own just like every president does.
BALDWIN: Keith, what do you think?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Most presidents listen to advisors, who they respect, who can tell them the facts, the data, these are ways you can consider responding, these are some options. Donald Trump wakes up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and reads something in the newspaper or picks up something from "Breitbart" or "Info Wars" and tweets about it. He doesn't think about, he tweets about it. That's not presidential. That's why he's not credibility. That's why the White House has no credibility.
BALDWIN: How do you answer the credibility question? How does this not chip away his credibility?
URBAN: I would hesitate to say that the president has no credibility. Maybe he has no credibility with you. As Mark Preston pointed out earlier, he has a great deal of credibility with the base. This is how this president was elected. He didn't play by the traditional rules. He redefined the playing rules. And is where he is because of that.
BALDWIN: No, you're absolutely right.
But if you have the intel and Senate intel and the FBI director --
BALDWIN: Hang on. Hang on a minute. They are all saying no evidence and President Trump was not wiretapped. How does that chip away at his credibility?
URBAN: If they all, maybe it will. But let's wait until we get to that point. Let's not all rush to judgment with incomplete facts and surmise things that haven't been proven yet.
BOYKIN: Can I just say something?
I agree we shouldn't rush to judgment with incomplete facts. Please tell that to Donald Trump.
URBAN: I'll tell him you said so.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICS REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think his tweets are something his supporters really like. They like that he sticks it to the media.
BALDWIN: Sure. Of course.
HOLLIDAY: They don't take him literally. They don't care if he makes statements like this. But I think the frustration on the other side is first of all, you're making very extreme allegations without any evidence, but also you don't apologize for them. You never turn around and say I was wrong.
BALDWIN: The point is maybe they love that. His supporters and his base love it. Hang on. Mark Preston wants to jump in.
Go ahead, Mark.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I want to expand on what I said about President Trump's credibility with the base. Look it's at 80 percent right now, maybe even a bit higher. That's a really important word not only having credibility in the United States but also credibility around the world with our allies and there's a lot going on right now whether it's the war against is, whether it's dealing with ISIS, North Korea, or figuring out what our trade relationship is with Mexico or China, what have you, an incredible amount going on. And, at some point, you have to wonder if these world leaders are going to question whether they can actually trust President Trump if in fact this turns out to be false. And I do think that we've seen President Trump navigate Washington successfully in the sense he's been able to use executive orders basically to run Washington. At some point, the executive orders run out. So the road is going to run out for Donald Trump. He doesn't need this distraction.
[14:35:38] BALDWIN: Everyone stand by.
We're going to take a quick commercial break.
You're watching CNN. We waiting for Sean Spicer in that daily White House briefing. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think the director will be asked to respond very directly to what the president has said, his accusation that Obama had effectively and illegally wiretapped him. I expect he will be able to answer that question. There will certainly be if any members ask any questions that the director may not want to comment on publicly, but on that question, he should be able to answer it and put that to rest once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was Manu Raju grabbing the ranking member of the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. Asking, and yesterday, saying he hasn't seen any evidence of President Trump's claims on wiretapping. He took it a step further and said he believes that the FBI director will come out Monday for the public hearing and essentially say President Trump was not wiretapped.
So, Shelby, first to you.
You were sort of thinking out loud why would Chairman Schiff even say that about Comey? We don't know whether he had this conversation with Comey. [14:40:20] HOLLIDAY: He's done a tremendous job of using the media
to put tremendous pressure on Comey. Throughout the week, he's on some station on how he expects the FBI director to clear this up, so he's using it to put pressure on the FBI and other intel members on Monday. But I do think he has really used the bully pulpit to make sure everyone knows that this is a priority for him. He wants to know whether Trump Tower was wiretapped and the public should know it, too.
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Comey doesn't need pressure to feel the pressure. This is dating back now to the campaign. You talk to Democrats who worked on the Clinton campaign. Democratic lawmakers there's still a lot of bad feels and bad blood there on sort of this belief that Comey was too forthright, pulled the gun a little early, that he shouldn't have said anything so close to the election about the e-mail server, and that may have cost Hillary Clinton the election. So there was no way for Comey to be a completely political neutral figure even though the head of the FBI is supposed to be politically neutral. So I think the pressure is there whether or not the lawmakers are specifically calling on him to say something.
URBAN: Just a reminder of Director Comey. When Director Comey worked at the Department of Justice during the Bush administration, if everyone remembers him running to John Ashcroft's hospital bed for signing an order on waterboarding. So Jim Comey is a guy who flies above political pressure, a man of great integrity, who I have a great deal of respect for. So the idea that he somehow waffles is ludicrous. Harken back to that and think about that for a second.
LEE: Not saying he would act on the pressure. I was just pointing out there certainly is the pressure.
BOYKIN: It doesn't matter. Even if you have the most credibility in the world you can't help but feel the pressure that Jim Comey has under gone.
BALDWIN: Look at his work over the past 12 months.
BOYKIN: Exactly. From the Hillary Clinton press conference last summer to the release of the letter 11 days before the election to the statements about Russia afterwards coming on board.
URBAN: I sat there at the National Republican Convention in Cleveland, watched Director Comey give his press conference, and I took a big sigh and said, I believe the guy. Didn't say what I wanted him to say or what I thought he was going to say, but I believed him. He has the utmost credibility. He's not been pressured by either side.
BALDWIN: Trump has criticized him. Trump has criticized him.
URBAN: Everybody has criticized him. I think that's what makes him a great independent director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
HOLLIDAY: He's in a very tough position. He knows things we will never know, never supposed to know. He's reacting to things we don't know exist.
BALDWIN: Public hearing on Monday.
Ahead of that, we're waiting to hear from Sean Spicer. And 43 minutes in, we're still waiting. He has a lot to talk about. You feel for him in some regard. Wiretapping, travel ban health bill, budget planning, you name it, there's a lot of pressure. The press is set. The cameras are set. Just waiting for Sean Spicer.
Quick break. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:46:29] REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I spoke with the president about a half hour ago. I speak to him pretty much every single day. Spoke to him twice yesterday. So we are working hand in glove on this. We are working extremely close. I've got to tell you, I am very pleased and excited and got to tell you something I haven't seen in a long time. This president is getting deeply involved. He is bridging gaps in our conference. He is helping us get to a resolution to get consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare. It's been very helpful so we are working hand in glove.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Speaker Ryan saying we're all on the same page, all in sync on this health care bill. Saw President Trump last night in Nashville. And today, in the White House, saying we're open to ideas and to negotiate.
M.J. Lee has gratefully become our wonk on all things health care here at CNN.
Today, especially in the exchange with Manu Raju, you noted Speaker Ryan's shift in tone because he was praising the president for being willing to negotiate.
LEE: Right, because negotiate was not even something that Ryan was wanting to talk about.
BALDWIN: You had to budge him.)
LEE: Right. Because he wanted to make it very clear, this is the bill and the outline of the bill that is going to stay. Not only was it interesting he said that today, it was also interesting in terms of the timing. We know that we have maybe just a few days before we actually find out if this bill is going to die or live in the House. And I think the negotiations that actually need to happen to bring on some of these members who are skeptical about the bill. Those things are going to have to happen in the next couple of days and, by next week, when we are getting the House to actually take the vote, we are going to know if this is going to survive or not. So interesting to see if Ryan is talking about President Trump out there with negotiating, how is he going to do that and who he is going to put the pressure on.
HOLLIDAY: We have seen Donald Trump put pressure on some Republican members of Congress, through Twitter. He's holding a rally in Kentucky, Rand Paul's home state.
BALDWIN: Pizzas, lunches and dinners.
HOLLIDAY: Yep, he's been out there trying to do these things, but still pretty unclear where he stands on this bill. Is he married to any of it? We're not so sure.
BALDWIN: You have to give him credit to at least have conversations.
HOLLIDAY: Absolutely. But they want it done by April and that's six days away.
BALDWIN: A week from now.
Mark Preston, a week from now. What happens next in this one. I thought M.J.'s point was significant.
Are you with me?
PRESTON: I am with you. I'm just shaking my head. We heard Paul Ryan saying it's got to go through another committee in the House of Representative and he acknowledged very basic legislating. There's incredible opposition, not only from Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz to an extent, but also the centrist Republicans, like Susan Collins, on the other end of the spectrum. So when we talk about the health care bill making it to President Trump's desk it's not necessarily the Democrats but it's the Republicans who have to square away their own circle if you can square a circle and try to get something done. And right now, it doesn't appear they can do so. And really need to do a lot of recalibrating to get something to President Trump's desk.
[14:50:08] BALDWIN: Mark, stand by.
Everybody stand by.
We're waiting for Sean Spicer to brief the press in the White House daily briefing. That should happen momentarily.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States --
TRUMP: -- until the country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Donald Trump, President Trump's travel ban has now been twice rejected over the course of the last 24 hours based on words he has used, as just played for you, regarding Muslims in this country.
With me now, David Urban, Keith Boykin.
David, to you.
Again, using his words, these judges say no.
URBAN: It's campaign rhetoric, Brooke. Again, CNN's legal experts, Jeff Toobin and Alan Dershowitz, were on last night and the night before talking about this and saying campaign rhetoric is not proof in a court of law.
URBAN: I'll point out, again, 85 percent of Muslims can still travel to the United States unfettered.
BOYKIN: It wasn't just the campaign rhetoric. It was what President Trump said after signing the executive order, and said we all know what that means. President Trump went on and said we are keeping radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States. We don't want them here. That's the quote from the opinion. It's not just campaign rhetoric. The problem is that he hasn't shifted from campaign to governing --
[14:54:53] BALDWIN: Let me talk to a lawyer.
Paul Callan, you're joining us, legal expert, lawyer.
To David's point, and to what Alan and Toobin were talking last night, they were surprised the campaign rhetoric -- and Keith is right --some of his words when he was president, admissible in this case?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGTALA NALYST: The court decisions have indicated that yes, it is. But I have to say it's highly unusual because sometimes the court looks behind legislation to say, you know, why was this legislation passed? Usually, it's because there's something vague, a word hard to understand in the legislation. There's nothing vague in this executive order. So the court is deciding nonetheless to look behind it to see if it has a racist or discriminatory purpose and not a security purpose. And I've never seen a case, frankly, where they have reached back into a political campaign to quote the candidate. And that is candidates frequently change their minds during the course of campaigns, and for that reason, the court usually looks at legislative history when they are looking. So this is an unusual decision. BALDWIN: I see David out of the corner of my eye nodding, obviously,
URBAN: Three out of three legal experts.
BOYKIN: I also went to law school, too, but they quoted the president's words when he signed the executive order, not just to the campaign rhetoric.
Paul, what's going to happen next, legally?
CALLAN: The Hawaiian decision will go up to the United States court of appeals, and I think that's where the battle will be fought on the Trump administration that will eventually lead to the Supreme Court of the United States. And a debate of whether Gorsuch is -- and deciding in favor of the Trump administration or split 4-4 conservative- liberal. That will be an interesting separate analysis. But this is a road that leads to the Supreme Court of the United States.
BALDWIN: Several major headlines today. We just talked about the travel ban, wiretapping allegations, and now we're hearing from the ranking members of the House Intel Committee, but also the Senate, and also on health care, also on the budget. It's a busy day for the White House.
We are waiting for Sean Spicer to step behind the podium, also, will be joined by Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Budget Office and will talk budget first.
Quick break. Breaking news here on CNN. We'll be right back.
[15:00:02] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking new.
BALDWIN: Here we go. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me here on this Thursday.
We watch, we wait. Live pictures there of the --