Return to Transcripts main page


Trump: "Absolutely Destroying" Regulations; Trump Pledges Huge Spending On Infrastructure; Soon: Divided House Intel Panel Meets On Russia Probe; GOP's King: "General Agreement" On Intel Witness List; Former Trump Campaign Adviser Denies Sharing Sensitive Information With Russia. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 4, 2017 - 11:00   ET


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So you do have -- I call it a tale of two cities. You have different -- different interests, but I am watching over everybody, Jerry. You're in good hands, OK?

[11:00:00] You're in good hands, believe me, you can tell the people of New York. Even though I didn't win New York State -- I should have won New York State, but I didn't.

(UNKNOWN): Thanks a lot for being here. And thanks for everybody for being here. It's been a really interesting day. And you've had everybody of importance at the event.

I think it's -- it's terrific in terms of the stuff you're trying to do to modernize the government, educate and so forth. And I think we have to keep a focus on that because the outside world doesn't always get the message that that's really what's going on because you're doing profound things. You're taking on enormous embedded issues.

And I think it -- with the -- with the kind of effort that can be martialed, you can do amazing things and that's on behalf of my corporate and myself who chair the partnership, that sort of a trust gets rotated from person to person every two years.

I want to wish you really good luck with the Chinese. That's -- that's an important thing, as -- as we all know, and I think there's a real opportunity to make progress with them. And you should have a good time in Florida. I hope the weather's good.


TRUMP: Yeah, the weather will be beautiful. Thank you, Steve.

I -- I just want to finish by saying that we are absolutely destroying these horrible regulations that've been placed on your heads over not eight years, over the last 20 and 25 years. You have regulations that are horrendous.

Dodd-Frank is an example of what we are working on and we're working on it right now. We're going to be coming out with some very strong not -- far beyond recommendations. We're going to be doing things that are going to be very good for the banking industry so that the banks can loan money to people that need it.

I speak to people all the time. They used to borrow money from banks to open up -- there was one in Nevada where -- to open up a pizza shop. He had three shops. He had a bank. And he said, you know -- at that time, he called me Mr. Trump because I hadn't won yet. But he said, "Mr. Trump I can't open up anything. I can't do anything. The banks don't even -- I had a bank for 20 years. Now, they don't even take my phone call and I was always a very good customer. So, I haven't been able to do what I do."

They can't do it. I mean, the banks got so restricted. And I've always said, and some people get insulted, but you know, it's not necessarily the man that's making a lot of money that's running the bank. You look at the folks from government that are running all over the banks. They're running the banks. And to people that are really, you know, the head people, they're -- they're petrified of the regulators. They're petrified. They can't move. The regulators are running the banks.

So, we're going to do a very major haircut on Dodd-Frank. We want strong restrictions. We want strong regulation, but not regulation that makes it impossible for the banks to loan to people that are going to create jobs. But we're doing -- that's just one example. We're doing so many cuts on regulations.

And we have a book on regulations, and if you add them all up, it goes up to the ceiling three times over. It's just one after another after another. It's just like that chart. I thought that chart was so descriptive. And every industry is just like that chart and that's to build a simple roadway or highway. That's what you have to go through. And we're going to be able to get rid of 90, 95 percent of that and still have the same kind of protection.

And we want safety and we want environmental -- we want environmental protection. I mean, I've won awards on environmental protection. I'm a big believer, believe it or not. But we want that kind of protection. We want clean air and we want clean water, but we shouldn't have to get the approvals from 16 different agencies for almost the same thing.

So, we have a country with tremendous potential. We have the greatest people on Earth, but we have to use that potential and we have to let those people do their thing.

And with that, I just want to thank you all. I think you're going to see a very much different environment than you've been used to over the last, again, 20, 25 years. We're going to unleash the country and I -- I'm willing to take the heat and that's OK. Been taking heat my whole life. But in the end, I know it's the right thing to do and we're going to create a lot of jobs. We have 100 million people if you look.

You know, the real number's not 4.6 percent. They told me I had 4.6 percent last month. I'm doing great. I said yeah, but what about the hundred million people? A lot of those people came out and voted for me. I call them the forgotten man, the forgotten woman. But a lot of those people -- a good percentage of them would like to have jobs and they don't.

You know, one of the statistics that, to me, is just ridiculous -- so, the 4.6 sounds good. But when you look for a job, you can't find it and you give up. You are now considered statistically employed. But I don't consider those people employed.

TRUMP: If you look at what's happened with Ford and with General Motors and with Fiat Chrysler and so many other car companies, you see what they're doing back in Michigan and Ohio. They were leaving. They were going to Mexico and many other places. They're now staying here.

Now, I did say -- Reed (ph) knows this very well because you've seen me say it many times to the big auto companies at meetings, it's OK; enjoy your new plant. Please send me a picture. I'm sure it's going to be lovely.

But when you make your car or when you make your air conditioner and you think you're going to fire all of our workers and open up a new place in another country, and you're going to come through our -- what will be a very strong border, which is already -- you see what's happened -- 61 percent down now in terms of illegal people coming in. Way, down in terms of drugs pouring into our country and poisoning our youth -- way down. General Kelly has done a great job.

But when you think you're going to sell that car or that air conditioner through our border, it's not going to happen. You're going to have a tax, and the tax may be 35 percent. And you know what? Every single major company that I've had that conversation with has said, "You know, we've decided to stay in the United States."

It's amazing. And you would have thought they would have said this, frankly, for years, but nobody's ever said it. And we've lost close to 70,000 factories over a relatively short period of time -- 70,000. You wouldn't believe it's possible to lose 70,000 factories -- 70,000.

You know, you look at a map of the United States. How many factories can you lose? We lost almost 70,000 factories. And I will tell you, that's not happening because now they're all staying here. And they're all expanding here. Ford announced last week a massive expansion of three of its plants. That was not going to happen, believe me, if I didn't win.

So good luck, everybody. Enjoy yourselves. You're my friends. You're amazing people. And I'm going to put you to work.

Thank you.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I am Kate Bolduan. Welcome this hour. You've been listening to President Trump hosting a town hall, taking questions from a big group of CEOs gathered there, also confirming in that discussion, confirmed that North Korea will be a big topic of discussion when he meets with the Chinese president later this week at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

But the big focus of this town hall is about jobs, infrastructure, and getting rid, cutting red tape. Let's discuss the politics and the money at play here.

Mark Preston is with me, CNN senior political analyst and CNN Money correspondent, Cristina Alesci. Fascinating to hear from the president on this right now. Interesting town hall, politics first. What's this about?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple things. One, he needs a win and he's talked about creating jobs through this massive infrastructure legislation that he wants to see Congress get through. And by and large, it probably will help bring some jobs back. I don't know how long they would last.

The problem is that it is ripe with politics. You have fiscal conservatives that are probably not going to sign on to a lot of the things he wants to do and then you have more moderate Republicans and Democrats who want to see it get through.

So, if we thought that the health care fight, you know, was vicious, wait until we get into looking at where we are with the national debt and how much this infrastructure bill would add to it.

BOLDUAN: And saying he's looking for a massive infrastructure bill, talking a trillion dollars, he said or maybe even more, he said during this town hall. The money at play here, there's a lot of money sitting in that room, Cristina. I mean, a huge list of CEOs -- Citigroup, Blackstone, Mastercard, JetBlue, Modell Sporting Goods. Those are just some of them, probably with more name recognition for many viewers. What's this about for the president?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really interesting because he's going to need the private companies to sign on to this infrastructure bill, because although the top-line number's a trillion dollars, what he says will be a combination of federal government spending, but as well as companies pouring money into these infrastructure projects also. So, he needs these CEOs on board. And behind closed doors, the CEOs do have a lot of uneasiness as far as they don't -- they're not sure whether he can pull off a lot of these plans.

BOLDUAN: Think a lot of lawmakers would agree they're not sure he can pull off a lot of these plans.

ALESCI: Exactly, but they are happy to be part of the discussion. It's all about access. So, the CEOs in that room will tell me privately, we don't know what this guy's going to do, we don't even know what he's about, but we are glad that at least he's listening to us.

That's why you're not seeing business be critical at all of the president right now, because after four years, they say of not having access to the president, they're at least happy to be able to air their concerns. You saw Steve Schwarzman, the president of Blackstone as you referenced, stand up. He's got a tremendous amount of business in China, and he's very worried about the president's stance on China.

BOLDUAN: And the president also knowing some of this is audience here is he's talking to his supporters. One of the things that you hear from his supporters is they've loved and they see there is a big win he's come in with executive order, cutting back regulation, and cutting back red tape.

[11:15:12]People in that room like it as well as his supporters. Keeping an eye on there. Mark will be joining me again. Thanks so much taking a look at that.

But we also need to turn to another critical moment today for the troubled House Intelligence Committee, with its stalled investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election and any possible collusion on the part of the Trump campaign.

After breaking down over partisan infighting, the committee is meeting within the hour. What will they discuss? Will they reschedule hearings? Will we hear a list of witnesses? Will we hear anything?

Our Manu Raju caught up with the committee chairman, Devin Nunes, a short time ago. Listen to this.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Can you just stop for a second and take one --


RAJU: What do you think about this idea of giving Michael Flynn immunity?

NUNES: We have our hearing starting, the conference.

RAJU: Do you still stand by the notion that he is a whistleblower?


BOLDUAN: Manu Raju is joining me now from Capitol Hill. So, Manu, he did not answer that question, obviously, as he walked away. What are you picking up about this important meeting, this gathering now of the House Intelligence Committee today?

RAJU: Well, it's a sign that this gridlocked committee is starting to be a little bit less gridlocked on this issue of the Russia investigation. Remember, all meetings were actually canceled last week and there was a meeting yesterday that was unrelated to the Russia issue, and I am told that there is a meeting today within the next hour to discuss a range of issues.

We do expect that Russia issue, the Russia investigation to come up. And I was told earlier today by members of the committee, there appears to be an agreement on the witnesses to interview behind closed doors in the private session.

Peter King, the Republican who sits on the committee, said this is a sign that things are moving forward. Take a listen.


REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: -- going forward, there's basically agreement on the witness list, and --

RAJU: So, there's an agreement on what, on Flynn, Carter Page, Manafort?

KING: Well, again, you'll have to ask -- I think you have to ask the chairman and the ranking member, you'll see there is general agreement on the witness list. That's what I know. Every individual has been discussed will be called as a witness.


RAJU: Now, he said, King went on to say that a lot of these interviews will happen in private sessions, closed-door meetings, depositions over the next couple weeks. Kate, this comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee is having its own private interviews with members of the intelligence community, including today.

And tomorrow will be the first transcribed interview of any witness so far on the Senate investigation. That is going to be with someone in the intelligence community.

They are not saying who that person is yet, but this is all part of an effort to lay the groundwork before those big interviews happen, the Paul Manaforts of the world, the Michael Flynns of the world, Carter Pages and the like, to bring them in to talk about any sort of context, coordination with the Russians, which is a big focus of the investigation.

The question is whether or not there could be any sort of bipartisan consensus. But from what we're hearing, a little less partisanship perhaps today on that house intelligence committee. We'll see if they can actually move forward after weeks of turmoil -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That definitely still remains a question. One meeting, I don't know, does a bipartisan committee make, but we will see. Manu, thank you. Manu's all over that.

There are more developments on the Russia story. For that, I want to bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider with much more on this. So Jessica, these new reports about Trump associates and ties to Russia, lay it out. What are you hearing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, various new revelations today about people loosely associated with President Trump having these sort of back-channel meetings with the Russians. So, let's start off first with Carter Page. He was a foreign policy adviser who worked briefly with the Trump campaign. Page now admits that he was in contact with at least one Russian spy back in 2013. Page, though, says he thought the spy was working for Moscow's U.N. office. Page says he shared research on energy policy.

You can see there he's an energy executive. But that Russian that he shared it with was charged by the FBI as part of a spy ring. The Trump team all along has tried to distance itself from Carter Page, but take a listen to then Candidate Trump last March.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps we heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon, if there is anything more on that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are going to be -- well, I hadn't thought about in terms of doing it, but if you wanted me to give you some of the names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll be delighted.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Whalid Farris, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus. He's a counterterrorism expert. Carter Page, PhD --


SCHNEIDER: So, President Trump, then Candidate Trump, talking about Carter Page there. Now on top of these revelations about Page's contact with a Russian spy, Kate, there are also reports coming out that in January, at the height of the transition, Eric Prince, founder of Blackwater, met with an associate of President Putin in the Seychelles.

[11:20:07]Eric Prince is the brother of Betsy Devos, education secretary. But today, both Prince and the White House deny that this meeting was arranged on behalf of the Trump administration. But as this all trickles out, it's part of that information about back- channel meetings in addition to these that we're hearing about.

Of course, we know last week Jared Kushner's meeting that happened back in December it came out that he met with the chairman of a Russian-run bank. This all just adds to the questions as the FBI investigates the question, did Trump associates collude with the Russians -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: More questions rather than less. Jessica, thanks for laying it out for us. It is confusing to follow the developments. You almost need a flow chart. Let's discuss this and more. Where do things stand with the investigation on the House Intelligence Committee?

Let's find out. Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier is joining me now. She sits on the House Intelligence Committee. Congresswoman, thank you so much for the time. I know you'll be gathering in a few minutes.

I want to talk about these new developments today in regard to intel. They're important. You have Carter Page, as Jessica just laid out, he has offered to testify before your committee.

But with this news, this news out now that he passed information an alleged Russian operative, this came from that FBI court filing against the alleged Russian operative -- when do you think the committee is going to interview him? Does this news concern you?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the news, of course, concerns us. I mean, it's the plot thickening, without a doubt and what's deeply troubling to me is that all of the inner circle of then Candidate Trump had connections with Russia.

And even now, the Russia connection is so much stronger within the White House than the connection is with our allies throughout Europe, where we need to be solidifying those relationships along with NATO and the E.U.

So, Carter Page is one of the individuals we will want to interview. But as we keep seeing, this trickle of new information is very important, and I have no interest in interviewing him until we have as much information as possible to query him about.

BOLDUAN: So, it is important to note that this all happened, with regard to Carter Page, back in 2013. This, of course, is years before there was a Trump campaign. Does that change anything for you? That's an important timestamp.

SPEIER: Well, yes, but then you add that, you connect the dots. He was in Russia giving a speech at a college, bad-mouthing the United States in 2016, in December of 2016. He was again in Russia when it was announced that Rosneft, the biggest oil, gas producer in Russia, was giving 19 percent of the company to a third party. There's been talk that Carter Page was one of the recipients of that 19 percent. Again, that comes from Christopher Steele, who --

BOLDUAN: So, with all of these various threads, if you will, Congresswoman, do you have a date yet when you are going to interview Carter Page?

SPEIER: We have not yet developed the schedule for all of the persons that will be interviewed. There will be a series of depositions. There will be hearings. The question we are going to have to negotiate with the chair is how many will be open and how many will be closed.

BOLDUAN: So, this new element from the "Washington Post," then, about Eric Prince, as Jessica laid out, with a meeting in the Seychelles in January, he has connections, he was a big donor to the Trump campaign. He's the brother of Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy Devos. Is he on the committee's witness list?

SPEIER: I'm not aware of him being on the witness list, but I don't necessarily have access to a comprehensive list at this point. BOLDUAN: From what you hear -- I know Democrats submitted a list of witnesses that they were hoping for. Was he on that list?

SPEIER: I can't say. But I can say that the fact that this has come forward is something that will certainly inform our decisions as to additional people who should be interviewed. This investigation is going to go on for some period of time.

BOLDUAN: That seems clear. Susan Rice, also, the other -- the third development, Congresswoman. There's a lot today. Reports that she, of course, is President Obama's former national security adviser. There are reports that she put in a request and unmasked names of Trump associates. Do you see a problem there?

SPEIER: First of all, it's important to appreciate, when there's a request to unmask, whether it's a national security adviser or the FBI, it has to go through a process.


SPEIER: It is unmasked only for that specific individual. It's not opened up to everybody, and it can only be unmasked if it is consistent with protecting our national security. So, as a national --

BOLDUAN: Do you think it worthy of investigating, though?

SPEIER: Well, is it worthy -- I mean, I guess you'd have to go back and look at all of the national security advisers and see how many unmaskings have gone on.

[11:25:02]It's really irrelevant to what we're charged with doing, and this is yet again another example of how the president and those who are supporting his particular position want us not to do this investigation into the Russia connections with his campaign and the Russian infiltration in our election. That's where we need to be focused.

BOLDUAN: John McCain said it would come down to, it would matter in his mind if there was a political motivation for her putting in these requests for unmasking. Would you agree?

SPEIER: Well, I think the question has to be was there a national security reason for unmasking? And that's always the first and primary question that has to be asked. And again, as national security adviser to any president, you're going to be in a position to unmask, I suppose, more so than someone else.

But again, we don't even know about the length and breadth of this. This is something that came out of thin air, another deflection of what our real charge and responsibility should be, and that is investigating the Russia connection to the Trump campaign and their infiltration into our elections.

BOLDUAN: Well, that gets to kind of what brought this committee to a screeching halt the past couple weeks. It had to do with Chairman Nunes, with important surveillance information that he said he had, that he went, did not tell the committee about and went to brief the president about. The full committee is meeting together in moments. Are you going to see that surveillance information that chairman Nunes briefed the president on two weeks ago?

SPEIER: So, we now have as a committee access to that information. We're going to have to go elsewhere to view it. I haven't had the opportunity yet to do it. The staff has, and they will be briefing us on it.

BOLDUAN: The staff has seen it. Does it raise concerns in your mind? Can you give us any window into what the staff has seen?

SPEIER: Well, if you recall it was Ranking Member Schiff who did actually view the documents who said that it has nothing to do with our investigation, that, in fact, everything he saw had masked names. So, again, it is trying to change the topic, it's trying to deflect our focus on what we really need to be doing.

And I'm just not going to be subject to that, and I think, frankly, the media needs to continue to focus on what's important here. What is Russia doing in our country? Why are they infiltrating us? Why are they undermining our democracy? Why are they undermining the European Union and the alliance?

It's for obvious reasons. They want to become the superpower of the world. There is a reason why they are an adversary, and we need to keep that in mind.

BOLDUAN: I know you need to go, but I want to get your gut. I mean -- this committee broke down over the last two weeks. The committee is finally getting back to full meetings. With all due respect, after it broke down, should the American people trust anything that's coming out of your committee going forward?

SPEIER: You know, that's a very good question, and I'm not prepared at this point in time to answer it, but I will be one of the first to say that this committee is irrelevant. In fact, it's going to follow a political road map because that's not what we've been charged to do.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, I know you have to go. Thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.

SPEIER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, shock, outrage, and cries for the United States to take action, to do something after a suspected chemical weapons attack wreaked havoc in Syria. At least ten children are among the dead, hundreds hurt. Now Senator John McCain is speaking out, blasting the White House for its stance that it's taken while this war has drawn on. Details ahead.