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Trump Tweeting about Health Care; New Laptop Bombs Could Evade Airport Security; Trump Slams "Witch Hunt" Surrounding Mike Flynn; Tillerson, Mattis Get Tough on Russia; White House Releases Financial Disclosures Forms on 180 Advisors; Mike Pence Speech in Ohio. Aired 1- 2p ET

Aired April 1, 2017 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's important to point out, though, at this point there's no tangible plan on the table. And there's no real idea coming from the Congress or the White House that they have a plan in place to take another run at this. So the fact he's continuing to talk about it certainly shows that at least he has an inclination in that collection.

And the other thing important to point out in these tweets from this morning is that he's once again talking about working with Democrats instead of Republicans. He is now in somewhat of an open war with the Freedom Caucus, which is that group that was critical in the defeat of this bill, even coming up on the Hill last week.

And what's interesting about this is that just in the last few minutes, Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino, one of his closest advisers tweeted this. And take a look at it. It says, "@realDonaldTrump is bringing back plants and jobs to Michigan." Justin Amash, who is a Congressman from Michigan, is a big liability." And then Scavino essentially calls out the Trump train asking them to defeat him in a primary. Now Donald Trump is kind of talking broadly about perhaps taking on some of these Freedom Caucus members in primaries in the next two years, but never have they specifically called out a member of Congress.

Amash, one of the bigger critics of the Trump administration, seems to be the first person in their sights, showing that this White House is prepared to take on people within their own party if they feel they need to.

FREDRICDKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Interesting strategy.

Ryan Nobles at the White House. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

Let's talk more about all of this, with CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis; also senior columnist with "The Daily Beast; and Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief with the "Chicago Sun-Times."

We're two things. We're seeing a threat from the president in terms of the GOP, saying he's using the Dems as kind of like a -- dangling a carrot there. Matt, if you aren't going to work with me, I'm going to worth with the Dems. He's offering specific criticism toward a member of Congress. What's going on here.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Some have speculated this as trying to change the subject from Russia. Let's assume that he's actually trying to intimidate, lobby or sort of shake up his administration after that health care debacle. The collapse of the Republican health care plan. I think this is a very risky strategy. So right now, you know, if Donald Trump were to try to triangulate, to try to win over Democratic votes because if he angers the Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus is about 25 or 30 members. So -- and unless you can get Democrats to vote for you, alienating the Freedom Caucus is suicide. And my concern, if I were Donald Trump is, why would Democrats work with you at this point? Don't they have an incentive to just reflexibly oppose anything you support? So I don't know what he's up to here, if he's trying to just threaten the Freedom Caucus and acquiescing and caving and supporting him in the future. This is a high-risk strategy.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, so, Lynn, what is behind that. On one hand, it's the president saying, OK, I'm going to work with Democrats because he feels like he'll have a better result with them. At the same time, he was put to blame the Democrats in the defeat just minutes after that vote when the House was pulled. So which is it?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: What you see in real time is a President Trump trying to figure out in a very public way how to deal with Congress, and the numbers are the numbers. You need 216 votes. Do you really think you're going to work with the Democrats on any health care bill as long as it includes defunding Planned Parenthood? That's going to probably be a down payment on a good faith measure to move ahead. What is the "it?" You can't deal in the abstract anymore when you say I'm going to go to the Democrats. We're in game time. The pregame skirmishes are over. We know what didn't work more than a week ago. And for every -- to get 30 Democrats on board in a reliable vote for a package of health care provisions is unrealistic as thinking you can win all 30 Freedom Caucus members. That's why legislating is hard, and that's the reality that Trump is gaining. Maybe the answer is breaking this down more, breaking it into more doable bits of legislation. But you will work with Democrats at the risk of losing Republican votes, and not just from the Freedom Caucus, from others.


LEWIS: Why would Democrats -- they have a weakened president. Donald Trump appears to be on the ropes. This was a very embarrassing defeat. If Democrats want to take back Congress in the midterms, why would they now support anything? Why would their base allow them to support anything? Give him a win. Even if it's something good like infrastructure. If you are a Democrat, you probably love infrastructure.

[13:05:20] WHITFIELD: Lynn?

SWEET: I have one answer. On some things of Obamacare where Democrats and then President Obama said from the beginning this isn't perfect, let's fix it. I think there may be some fixes that could be done that you could find bipartisan support. But you can't have in it -- you can't -- repeal and the poison pills deal with choice. You can still deal with medical choice, not have to lead up with things you know are divisive, which gives Democrats win because when you know you're trying to fix admitted flaws in Obamacare.


WHITFIELD: But then the House speaker trying to undermine that psychology and effort saying, no, President, don't work with the Democrats at all, Matt.

LEWIS: That's right. I think Paul Ryan has a concern that this -- that Donald Trump -- first of all, Donald Trump was a Democrat. He has a lot of liberal tendencies. He supported single payer health care in the cast. So there is a fear that he could triangulate and that he could really, you know, neuter the Republican Congress, so to speak, and work with Democrats and put together his own coalition. I guess my only -- maybe I'm being pessimistic here in terms of getting things done, but my sense is that Democrats, and the liberal base specifically, have decided that they want to do to Republicans what Republicans did to Barack Obama, which is to obstruct. And so anything that Donald Trump achieves, any bill that he signs is a victory. That's putting points on the scoreboard. And aside from the Neil Gorsuch confirmation that I think is probably going to happen no matter what, I just don't know why Democrats would let him do that.

WHITFIELD: You mentioned, Matt, you said getting things done.

Is that the objective of the president to get things done by way of working with members of Congress? Those who are in this camp and those within the administration are saying, he's getting things done by way of executive order but getting things done by way of cutting deals, there's no evidence of that yet, Lynn?

SWEET: You can't spend four years just signing orders to undo things. Pretty soon you're going to undo whatever you want to on do. And as employ as people might disagree with all the regulations he wants to stop, at one point you're done with that. OK. So you have to have a budget. You cannot go four years on a continuing resolution. So there's certain things that government demands that people do. You're going to come up against a debt ceiling vote again. So there are certain things that will mandate the Trump and his allies to figure out how to work with Congress, especially -- maybe Matt, and, Fred, this is the core of it. You have a president who is not as ideological as a speaker and some of the base he's depending on to get things done.

So while -- and let me go back to the defunding Planned Parenthood issue. Why does that have to be front and center at making health care work? I know why some people could but if you took that off the table to get some things done, you could move ahead. Every side could -- the Dems and President Trump, not Republicans, to call it a victory. So the worry I would think Republicans have is you have somebody who probably, maybe, is willing to deal away too much.

WHITFIELD: All right, Lynn Sweet, Matt Lewis, stick around. See you again.

SWEET: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We're also following disturbing intelligence about a new terror threat to passenger planes. ISIS and other terrorist organizations have designed explosives that can be planted in laptops and other electronic devices and evade airport security. This has led to a ban on electronic devices in cabins on several airlines. It has also played a role in prohibiting travelers from traveling out of eight countries from carrying laptops and other large devices onto airplanes.

CNN's Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, joining us.

Ryan, how did intelligence officials discover this threat?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORREPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Yes, this intelligence came from multiple sources, including human intelligence, as well as intercepts. And one official described the intelligence as hair-raising. One of the things that was of most concern this was notion that they had information that terrorist groups had acquired sophisticated screening equipment. The same kind used at airports to detect bombs being smuggled in. That was one particular concern. They were looking at terrorist groups. Al Qaeda's franchises in Syria and Yemen. That one in particular is known for its sophisticated bomb-making, non-metallic bomb-making technology and several attempts to destroy aircraft in the past, as well as is. So this -- all this intelligence coming together of real concern to officials, helping to prompt this ban against laptops being brought aboard airplanes.

[13:40:23] WHITFIELD: And we know the United Kingdom has implemented similar measures. Any signs of more countries following suit?

BROWNE: There are signs in that one official described the process involved is not particularly complicated. Not involving a lot of sophisticated equipment. So it's potential to be replicated in other places is possible. That being said, in the west, they feel their measures -- the defensive measures in some of the more western airports are more robust, not totally relying upon the scanning technology. Better training, they say. Other measures to mitigate the risk. Right now we're not seeing any expansion at this current moment but definitely that potential down the road.

WHITFIELD: Ryan Browne, in Washington, thank you so much.

BROWNE: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Live pictures right now, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, is where we're taking you, just outside of Columbus, where Vice President Mike Pence is right there meeting with people at that plant. And momentarily, he'll be speaking a little bit more as he's getting a tour of this electronics manufacturing plant. He is there to talk manufacturing and jobs. A key strong point for the White House right now. We'll take you there live as soon as we get more information about the vice president's words to the group there. Also coming up, the White House tries to move forward under a cloud of

controversy and questions about Russia. Will former national security adviser Michael Flynn get immunity for his testimony? What President Trump is saying about that, next.


[13:15:58] WHITFIELD: An immunity deal for Michael Flynn could be a hard sell. The former national security adviser has said through his lawyer that he is willing to testify to the congressional committees investigating Russia but only if he is immune from prosecution. The Democratic ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee releasing a statement saying in part, "As with any investigation, and particularly one that grows in severity and magnitude by the day, there is still much work and many more witnesses and documents to obtain before any immunity request from any witness can be considered."

And a Senate source says it's far too early to discuss accepting an immunity offer. And suggests they are unlikely to ever accept one.

In addition, law enforcement officials tell CNN there is no indication the FBI is interested in any immunity deal.

So sort of a mixed bag there for Michael Flynn.

Joining me now to discuss, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, in Cleveland.

Good to see you.

And Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor, joining us from Las Vegas.

Good to see you as well.


WHITFIELD: Richard, you first.

If you are his attorney, how do you interpret that? Is that a mixed bag of kind of good news/bad news and maybe no news?

HERMAN: If I'm Flynn's attorney, I'm happy and telling everyone, he's got a story. You want to hear him out because you want to get immunity for him. Fred, he's a three-star Army general, former head of National Security. Many meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. You think he's got information. As his attorney, you want to protect him. The problem is Comey is really leading the charge with the FBI investigation and the Department of Justice, whether or not they'll bring criminal charges against Flynn. I think they eventually will bring criminal charges, and that's why they want to get the immunity. Congressional immunity is not the same as immunity from Department of Justice, but we learned during the Oliver North cases, if he gets Congressional immunity through the Senate or the House, then whatever he says in that testimony can't be used against him if they prosecute him by the Department of Justice.

Either way, they want him to deliver Trump. That's what they want. They want him to say Trump knew, participated, aided, abetted the Russians in the hack. If he can't deliver that or if he can deliver that but we can't believe him because his credibility is shot and there's no way to corroborate it, there's going to be no deal.

WHITFIELD: So, Avery, how will any of the committees or the FBI, anybody know that if he were not to at first reveal what he knows before they could even make a deal.

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: That's not going to happen. The problem is, if I'm a prosecutor, I use immunity with the little fish so they flip so we can get the big fish. Michael Flynn is already the big fish. The only one he can flip on is the president. And you have to keep your eye on the ball. When the sanctions kicked in on the 29th of December, all this stuff happened quickly. Russian ambassador calls, of all people, Flynn. That was his Russian connection. There's a meeting. And then Putin says, oh, I'm not going to retaliate. And then Trump says he's very smart. And then after that, Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, who was supposed to testify, all of a sudden, she's canceled by the Intelligence Committee. So there are a lot of things that are happening. Bottom line, no immunity, not from the House, not from the Senate, not from the FBI.



WHITFIELD: Go ahead, Richard.

HERMAN: To answer your question: How do they know? They give him what's called typically a queen for a day where they bring him in with his lawyer and they say to him, OK, whatever you say today, you know, we're not going to use it, but what are you going to deliver? To get immunity, what are you going to tell us? And they sit down and they do it through the attorney. He has an attorney proffer or he sits there and tells them, this is what I will say under oath if given the opportunity. Then they have to determine what other crimes he committed. Do they even know the scope of the crimes he committed?


[13:20:09] WHITFIELD: That's like, what potentially is the crime that he could be afraid of?

HERMAN: Well, he could be afraid of treason, aiding and abetting and treason. He could be afraid of failing to disclose financial payments from foreign countries. He can be -- failing to file as an agent. He's got four, five or six major felonies that he's facing here.

AVERY: The big one --


HERMAN: They don't want him. They want the president. That's who they want, Fred.



FRIEDMAN: Yeah, I mean, what we don't know is what Sally Yates is going to tell the House Intelligence Committee. What kind of contact was there between Flynn and the FBI that we don't know about, and right at the point where Sally Yates was going to testify, the hearing gets canceled. So eventually, we're going to hear about that. Whether there's queen for a day, whatever it's going to be, I'm telling you, there's not going to be immunity unless there's some ability to implicate the president. I doubt that there is. I don't think there's going to be any kind of immunity deal at all.

WHITFIELD: It's interesting the difference in the interpretation of what immunity means. I mean, you know, take a listen to what Flynn and then-Candidate Trump had to say about immunity, particularly when they were talking about Hillary Clinton.

HERMAN: Right.


GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: When you are given immunity, that probably means you committed a crime.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right?


WHITFIELD: So now the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Avery?


FRIEDMAN: Yeah, that's for sure. I mean, look. The worst that we have right now is unadulterated hypocrisy. That's not a crime. The fact is that it becomes more complicated when Flynn and his attorney try to sit down, whether it's Congressional committees, whether it's the FBI because, unless he can implicate Trump, he's got nothing. And he's facing a number of crimes.

WHITFIELD: And in the tweet from the president on immunity, he's actually encouraging Mike Flynn should ask for immunity, in that this is a witch hunt, excuse for big election loss by media and Dems of historic proportions.


HERMAN: Yeah, witch hunt controlled by the Republicans who control everything. That's ridiculous, Fred. And it's ridiculous that Sean Spicer on a daily basis insults the intelligence of the American people when you see -

(CROSSTALK) HERMAN: -- if you are looking for immunity, you must be guilty of something, and then Trump says, he ought to get immunity and Spicer says, that doesn't mean he's guilty. The hypocrisy. They have to analyze the crimes Flynn committed, what his testimony would be. Is that testimony credible? Because just because you have the immunity and give testimony doesn't mean it's believable or it will hold up.

FRIEDMAN: That's exactly right.

HERMAN: Make sure his testimony holes up and in the end, Fred, they're using Flynn to get to Trump. That's who they want. They don't care about any of these other peripheral characters.


FRIEDMAN: We actually agree on that.


WHITFIELD: So any predictions on whether you believe by way any of these three entities, whether Michael Flynn would get immunity?

HERMAN: I think he's going to ultimately get it from someone. I think they want his testimony, and he won't deliver it without immunity.

FRIEDMAN: We disagree on that. There's zero chance. He has no credibility, and if he can't deliver Trump, there's no value. No immunity.


HERMAN: WHITFIELD: Love it when you all agree, but we love it even more when you disagree.

Avery and Richard --

HERMAN: That's easy. That's easy to do.


WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, gentlemen. Good to see you.

HERMAN: With pleasure.

WHITFIELD: Popular political podcast, the "Axe Files," with David Axelrod, it's coming to CNN. Catch its television premiere, a special conversation with Senator John McCain, that airs tonight, 9:00 eastern time. The "Axe Files."

Coming up, President Trump's hopes of thawing relations with Russia fading as his top diplomats talk tough and threaten to keep sanctions in place. Are things worse now than during the Cold War? The view from Moscow, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:28:35] WHITFIELD: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis are taking a strong stance on Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Secretary Tillerson is saying the sanctions will remain in place until Moscow, quote, "reverses the actions taken in Ukraine."

Paula Newton is joining me now for the latest from Moscow.

Paula, what has been the response from Russians on this tough talk coming from Tillerson and Mattis?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to be honest, I've been surprised how forceful the reaction has been. Even before those pronouncements, Vladimir Putin this week came out and said we had nothing to do with interferences in the elections and our relations are almost at zero right now and I'd like them to get under way. Clear from what we heard from the secretary of state and secretary of defense, that's not going to happen any time soon. The Russian foreign ministry even today coming back and saying, look, how much longer is this going on? They are saying we're baffled, we're exasperated, and they feel that the NATO putting troops very close to Russia's borders is aggression against Russia. And they are saying that, look, the United States is still stuck in old patterns.

But, Fred, it was really interesting was a Russian Senator tweeted yesterday saying this administration doesn't sound any different from the Obama administration. And that has been what has been so interesting in all of this reaction.

[13:30:00] WHITFIELD: That is interesting.

Meantime, Mattis also blasted Russia for violations of international law. What exactly did he say?

NEWTON: Well, he's basically going back on the whole idea not just of Ukraine but also pointing exactly to what we talk about every day, every hour here, freed. Those investigations on whether or not Russia was involved in the American elections and these investigations that continue to go on.

But I want you to listen to Secretary Mattis, who went quite far with these statements.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Russia's violations of international law are now a matter of record from what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behavior in mucking around inside other people's elections and that sort of thing. So I think the point I would make is that NATO stands united. The transatlantic bond is united. We are going to maintain article five as absolute bedrock of the NATO alliance.


NEWTON: "Mucking around," the more focused in terms -- more focus pinpoint, translation, they are not happy with the kind of influence they see even in European elections right now. And that was Secretary Mattis saying, look, we all understand that we believe that Russia's actions are indeed very aggressive and a threat. And I think, for Russians, hearing that here, the Russian government is saying, wow, does this ever sound like the Obama administration? And as I said, Fred, I remain quite surprised how forceful the reaction has been from the government here.

WHITFIELD: Paula Newton, in Moscow, thank you so much.

Coming up, a revealing glimpse into some of the top moneymakers surrounding President Trump. Are there conflicts of interest? We'll take a look.


[13:36:05] WHITFIELD: Right now, live pictures. Ohio Senator Rob Portman is speaking. This is an event where Vice President Mike Pence will soon be talking as an electronic manufacturing company right there in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, Ohio. It's called Dynalab. When the vice president speaks, we'll continue to monitor his remarks and take you there live as well.

Meantime, President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could have more than $700 million in overall assets. The White House released financial disclosure forms on the couple and about other -- another 180 advisers there from the White House. And they show that the president's daughter and son-in-law made about $195 million in income just last year. Economic Adviser Gary Cohen also pulled in around $75 million last year. And Chief Strategist Steve Bannon's income was about $2.5 million.

Joining us live right now from Washington, our CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis; and Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times."

Good to see you back again.

Matt, you first.

Why make these finances of this White House disclosure of finances public right now, and what about the timing of it all?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know about the timing of it. I think there are some deadlines and whatnot and you always have to wonder about the other attempts to distract from things going on. But I think this is, obviously, very healthy because the American public needs to know things about whether or not there are conflicts of interest. And, clearly, with Donald Trump, there are more concerns because he's a businessman and because his -- Jared Kushner, his son-in-la son-in-law, is as well. And we elect rich people, rich men so far in this country. That is a pattern. But Donald Trump was different because of his business interests and this was always going to be a potential problem. And I think, you know, probably for the next four or eight years, depending on how long this goes, there's going to be questions swirling about potential conflicts of interest.

WHITFIELD: While we're talking, the vice president is talking at an electronics manufacturing plant. We're going to continue to monitor and then we're going to dip in when we can as well. So if I have to interrupt our conversation, that's why.

All right. So, Lynn, President Trump called this a real asset to be surrounded by so many wealthy people, so many smart people, as he has put it. Might this end up being a liability, particularly because so many who have supported the president have been the working-class people and might this backfire?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: This could backfire. The people stalking the Trump administration can backfire. Their wealth alone isn't a disqualifier. These are part of routine disclosure that every top employee of the White House puts out and just so our public knows, you can go online and read it yourself. And these only give the range of assets. This isn't a specific list. Now what this does, and many wealthy people have served in the Obama cabinet. His commerce secretary, Benny Pritzker. But what's the right number of billionaires to have in the cabinet? This one might have a few too many because somewhere in there you need somebody, I suppose, who just relates. And that's what I think I want to really get at. Nobody begrudges great wealth. I wish I had $75 million total, much less annually. What you want to know is, does somebody understand what it's like to need help.

One of the things the Trump administration is thinking of doing is cutting off the program that helps low-income people pay their winter heating bills. It's called the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. Now if you've never had a day of real financial worry in your life, if you have never had to worry about paying a bill, if you never had to worry about helping family members, maybe you do have a different approach when you look at the role of government.

[13:40:23] WHITFIELD: Lynn underscoring there, the issue of connecting versus potential conflicts of interest. I want to pick up on that conversation in a moment.

But first, let's listen to the Vice President Mike Pence there in Ohio.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's just so great today to be with all the job creators that we met with for conversation earlier today, many of whom are still with us. People like the flag lady are here, Mary Levitt, from the flag lady star, and from Tommy's Pizza. I can personally testify that that is a great business And all these great business leaders, thank you for coming out today and sharing your perspective on the challenges and opportunities we have to turn this economy loose.

Let me -- it is the greatest privilege of my life to be vice president to President Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: It's humbling for me to say it. The president of the United States is my friend. He loves his family. He loves this country with boundless energy, optimism, courage and determination. And President Trump has a three-part agenda. I hear about it every day. Jobs, jobs and jobs. And it's happening right here in Ohio already.


PENCE: It's just amazing. The first two jobs reports under President Donald Trump are already out showing that nearly 500,000 jobs have been created this year, including more than 135,000 new jobs in construction and manufacturing.


PENCE: I mean, thanks to our new president, it's been a great week for American jobs. On Monday, Ford Motor Company announced it would invest $1.2 billion right here in America to protect and create nearly 4,000 jobs. On Tuesday, the president signed an historic executive order to put America on the path to energy independence and give American job creators the low-cost power they need to grow. And yesterday, the president took decisive action to level the playing field on international trade. Under President Donald Trump, trade will mean jobs, but it's going to mean American jobs and put American workers first.


PENCE: And you know, American businesses are already getting the message. The president and I are just yesterday were joined by the leadership of the National Association of Manufacturers. And they announced that manufacturing companies haven't been this optimistic in more than 20 years.


PENCE: Get this. 93 percent of manufacturers are excited about what they have in store under President Trump's leadership. So are the American people. People in this country haven't been this confident about our economy since the year 2000, and they should be excited because President Trump knows what all of you know, that when manufacturing is strong, America is strong. And he's fighting every day to bring American manufacturing back.


PENCE: President Trump meant it when he said on Tuesday, quote, "We believe in those really magnificent words, made in the USA."


PENCE: The manufacturers are the NCHBL engines of our economy, and thanks to President Trump, that engine is about to roar. It's not just this past week but since day one, President Trump has been fighting to get our economy moving again. He's been signing bill after bill to roll back excessive regulations enacted in the closing days of the Obama administration. He ordered every agency in Washington, D.C., to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new red tape on American business and American job creators.


PENCE: And just last week, President Trump authorized the Keystone Pipeline creating tens of thousands of American jobs and strengthening America's energy future.

He's taken decisive action to protect American jobs and American workers as well. By enforcing the laws of this country for the citizens of this country, and illegal immigration is already down by 60 percent since President Trump was elected.


PENCE: And we're just getting started. Since the day the president was elected, he's worked tirelessly to keep his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.



[13:45:07] PENCE: The president and I know what all of you know that every day Obamacare survives is another day that the American people struggle. We all know the truth about this failed law. Higher prices, lost plans, fewer choices. Obamacare is a burden on the people of Ohio and it's a burden on Ohio's job creators. That's why the president has worked so hard to keep his promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works. I've been incredibly inspired by the president's hands-on leadership on this issue.

And the president and I are so grateful. We're so grateful to Speaker Paul Ryan and all the House Republicans, like Congressman Pat Tiberi, who stood with us over the past month to begin the end of Obamacare.

Thank you, Congressman.


PENCE: But as we saw about a week ago, Congress wasn't quite ready. With 100 percent of House Democrats, every single one, and a handful of Republicans, Congress basically said that they weren't ready yet to begin the end of Obamacare. It really is a shame. But as Congressman Tiberi just said to me a few minutes ago, it ain't over yet.


PENCE: Obamacare is going to continue to explode, putting a great weight on millions of Americans, but the president and I have faith. We have faith that Congress is going to step up and do the right thing. Even as we speak, I'm told members of Congress are forging ahead working to craft legislation that will usher in the end of Obamacare. So be assured of this, folks here in the Buckeye State. When Congress finally decides to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump and I will be ready to work with them hand in glove.


PENCE: You can take it to the bank.


PENCE: President Trump is never going to stop fighting to keep the promises he made to the American people. And we will make America great again.

We will repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people the world-class health care they deserve.

And once Obamacare is gone, we're going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, manufacturers and family farms.


PENCE: We're going to work with these great leaders in the Congress to pass the biggest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan. We'll make the tax code flatter and simpler and fairer for everybody. There's an old joke about how the tax code is 10 times the size of the Bible, with none of the good news.



PENCE: Well, here's some real good news. President Trump's plan is going to put more money in your pocket and make American businesses competitive again. We're going to cut the corporate tax rate in America, one of the highest in the world, so that companies and American jobs can invest and create opportunities for America's workers right here in Ohio.


PENCE: And President Trump is going to keep slashing through the red tape that's strangling Ohio's small businesses and manufacturers. The truth is the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are too often standing in the way of job creators, making it harder for them to grow and thrive. You know, complying with federal mandates actually costs businesses like this one here over $13,000 a year for every single employee. All told, red tape from Washington, D.C., actually costs the economy over $2 trillion a year. That's enough money to create more than 24 million new good-paying manufacturing jobs. But it's wasted on pushing papers and jumping through government hoops. Folks, that's just not right. That's why President Trump is getting government out of the way. He's reining in unelected bureaucrats so they can no longer cripple Ohio's economy from the comfort of their taxpayer funded metal desks in Washington, D.C., and we're going to keep that fight going.

(APPLAUSE) PENCE: And as President Trump announced just this week, a new era of American energy has begun. The war on coal is over.


PENCE: You know, it's really heartbreaking to think that nearly a quarter of Ohio's coal miners have lost their jobs in Virginia and over half of the mines have been shut down. Countless of Ohio families have been forced to watch good-paying jobs disappeared from their communities. Now, they have hope. From the first day this administration, President Trump had been fighting for Ohio and American energy. The executive order President Trump signed on Tuesday will end Washington's assault on affordable energy and give hardworking Americans and manufactures the relief they need. And President Trump is going to put coal miners back to work. As he likes to say, as we all like to say, "President Trump digs coal."



[13:50:11] PENCE: We are going to unlock our country's amazing national resources, not just coal but shale oil, natural gas, clean coal, and you name it. Because lower energy costs more job, more growth, and more opportunity for American families and American business.

Folks, under President Donald Trump, we are also going to rebuild America. If you have not noticed, the American people elected a builder to be the president of the United States. With his hire American by American strategy, we'll work with Congress and we'll give our nation the best bridges, highways and airports and roads that America has ever had.


PENCE: Thanks to President Trump, we'll have jobs and growth and prosperity like never before.

You know making America great again is not just about our economy. I can tell you I am with them every day. President Trump has no higher priorities than the safety and security of the American people. That's why the president every single day is standing with the men and women in law enforcement here in Ohio across the country.


PENCE: We have a fair amount of men and women in uniform with us today. Would you mind getting on your feet and showing these men and women and law enforcement how much we appreciate the jobs they do protecting our families each and every day.


PENCE: President Trump is strengthening our border, building a wall, enforcing our laws, and as he said in his joint address to Congress, we are taking measures to remove all the, quote, gang members, drug dealers and criminals, who threaten our communities and prey on our citizens, off the streets of Ohio and off the treats of America.


PENCE: We are working with law enforcement every day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement to accomplish that. Beyond our borders, I have to tell you, could not be grateful and proud, as a father of United States marine, that we have a president who'll rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy --


PENCE: -- and give our soldiers and sailors, airman and Marines, Coast Guards the training and resources they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe.


PENCE: Here in the homeland, in the wake of last November's terrorist-inspired attack on the grounds of Ohio State, I just want to wish everybody here in the community, under President Trump's leadership, America is standing strong and taking the fight to the terrorists on our terms, on their soils, and ISIS is on the run.


PENCE: I will make a promise. President Trump will not rest and will not relent until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source so it can no longer project violence around the world or inspire violence here at home.


PENCE: So as jobs, healthcare, energy and national security.

And this president is keeping his promise to appoint a strict construction to the Supreme Court in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.


PENCE: By nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump has kept his word to appoint to the Supreme Court a justice who will keep faith of our Constitution and uphold our God-given liberties enshrined there.

Next week, the United States Senate will take his confirmation up. Let me just say emphatically, as America saw in those hearings more than a week ago, Judge Neil Gorsuch is one of the most respected, qualified and mainstreamed nominees to the Supreme Court in American history.


PENCE: But, remarkably, yesterday, your very own Senator, Sherrod Brown, announced he and the Senate plan to filibuster Judge Gorsuch's nomination as an associate justice, something that has never been successfully done in American history. Let me say, the president and I are confident with the strong support of Senator Rob Portman, we know, for the sake of our Supreme Court, for the sake of our country, for the sake of Constitution, we'll overcome the obstructionists, and the United States Senate will confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch one way or another.


[13:55:33] PENCE: My friends, the record is clear, President Trump is a man of his words and he's a man of action.

Before I wrap up, there is one other issue I would like to address that I know also hits close to home in Ohio, just as it did in my home state of Indiana. I want you all to know, as America saw this week, from the cabinet room in Washington, D.C., President Trump is working every day to end the opioid crisis that's ruining lives and tearing apart families in communities across Ohio and America. Ohio knows all about the tragic consequences of this crisis. Over 2500 Ohioans died from opioid overdoses in 2015, one of the hardest-hit states in the nation. It grieves my heart to think of it. Tens and thousands more are suffering in the grips of addiction. Let me say, your own Senator, Rob Portman, and Congressman Tiberi have been great leaders on this issue. We are grateful for their leadership. Helping countless people through their work on Capitol Hill. The president and I are grateful for their strong and compassionate leadership, as I know all of you are.


PENCE: On Wednesday this week, President Trump and I met with a group of people who have seen opioid addiction up close and personal. We heard the inspiring stories of Vanessa and A.J., two young people who overcame drug addiction and found hope and healing through counseling and medication to break the grip of addiction of their lives. Tragically, we also heard from a mom, Pam Caroza (ph), who lost her beloved son, Carlos, the light of her life, a young man of incredible promise and creativity, through drug addiction. President Trump told Pam, with real emotion, "Pam, your son will not have died in vein." That day, President Trump announced the creation of the President's Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and Opioid Abuse. Under President Trump's leadership, we're bringing together public servants, medical experts, community leaders, and we'll find innovative solutions to stop the flow of drugs into our communities and help families who need most. As the president said in his joint address to Congress, in his own word, "We'll stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we'll expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted." Those two promises will be kept --


PENCE: -- by this president and this administration.


PENCE: I just know under Trump's leadership, our communities and country are on the road to heal.

My friends, we have come to a pivotal moment in our nation's history, I believe with all my heart. In this moment, we need every freedom- loving Americans and we need all of you to stand up and speak out. We need you to tell the world that you believe we can do better and that you know it. President Trump and his vision can renew and restore this country and put us on a path to a brighter future.

For my part, we know we are going to get it done because I have faith. As Ohio State motto says, "With God, all things are possible."


PENCE: One of my favorites from an old book comes out of the book of Jeremiah. It was a gift from my wife, first year I was elected in Congress, the same year as your Congressman back in the year 2000. It hung over the mantle of our little home in Indiana, and hung over the mantle of governors and presidents. And now these words hang over the mantle in the residence of the vice president of the United States. It simply says, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope in the future." Those words, millennia ago, words Americans throughout our history clung to, and I believe they are as true today as they were --