Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
CNN/ORC Poll: 44 Percent Approve Of Trump's Handling Of Presidency; W.H. Briefs House Members On North Korea; Trump Proposal Cuts Business Tax Rate To 15 Percent; W.H.: Officials In Sanctuary Cities Have Blood On Their Hands; Trump: "Absolutely" Looking At Breaking Up 9th Circuit; Sessions Vows To Fight Judge's Sanctuary City Ruling. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 26, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:02] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: 97 days in and a brand new poll shows that President Trump has reached a modern record, though it is probably not one he wants. "The Lead" starts right now.
Breaking news, brand new polls out this minute giving a snapshot of how voters really feel about President Trump as he approaches his 100th day in office. But, the news is not all bad for the president.
The entire U.S. Congress invited to hear President Trump's strategy for dealing with one unstable dictator with nukes. Does House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi think a strike against North Korea is imminent or necessary? We will ask her live.
From slamming judges to steam rolling an entire court, after another federal court decision does not go the way he thinks it should. President Trump in an interview out this evening says he wants to break up the Ninth Circuit. Can he do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Good evening everyone and welcome to a special prime time edition of "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. We begin this evening with some breaking news in our politics lead.
A new CNN/ORC poll breaking right now finds President Trump continues to hold the lowest approval rating of any modern president at this point in his presidency. 44 percent approve of the job President Trump is doing so far.
CNN's John King is at the magic wall for us. And, John, we have this comprehensive new poll looking at views of the president as we near this 100-day mark. Break it down for us.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, it shows he is in tough slid with the American people as we get the traditional 100-day judging period. As you know, 44 percent approve of the job the president is doing, but 54 percent disapprove. That is a historic low. 11 points lower than the previous low. That was Bill Clinton at this point back in 1993, tough numbers here for the president. On this question, how is he doing keeping his promises, the American people are largely split. 48 percent say the president is doing a good job keeping his campaign promises. 52 percent say a poor job. So, we'll keep an eye on that one as we get to the second 100 days.
It is here, Jake, with the president's having a hard time, on the big issues, the economy, health care, and immigration. The markets have been strong. The job reports are good. Yet only 49 percent of Americans support -- approve the president's job on the economy, down six points from our last pole seven weeks ago. Down a lot on health care as well, the Obamacare repeal debacle taking a toll on the president.
And the White House would say he's doing a good job keeping his promises on immigration, but the American people clearly don't like what they see. He is down a little bit on approval -- on immigration as well.
These are big questions for the president, Jake. A growing number of Americans question whether he's even up to the job of being president. 51 percent say he's not working hard enough at the job. Nearly six in 10 Americans, 56 percent say he's done a poor job assembling a White House team to help him, all those reports of in fighting clearly taking a toll.
Only 44 percent of Americans think President Trump can manage the government effectively. And, Jake, we saw this number in the campaign so maybe we shouldn't be surprised, but it's still stunning. Only 37 percent of Americans think their president is honest and trustworthy.
TAPPER: That's a stunning number only -- on day 97. President Trump calls any negative polls fake news. That's actually a quote of his. Any negative poll is fake news. Is there anything in our poll that he might be able to seize as good news or at least hopeful news?
KING: Actually, yes. There are some numbers there that any president would like to have in the poll. And let's take look. Take Donald Trump's name out of the question. Just ask Americans, how are things going in the United State right now? A clear majority, 54 percent say well. 44 percent say badly. That's pretty good news for any president.
This is even better news. Look at this number. How are economic conditions in the United States right now? 59 percent of Americans, nearly six in 10, say good, 41 percent poor. Jake, that's a good number. Anyway, it has been 10 years since it's been at 59 percent, 10 years.
Generally, as you well know, good economic numbers are good mood about the economy, lifts any president, not happening for this president right now. But if the good economic news continues, if this number stays high, keep an eye on that in the second 100 days.
TAPPER: So, John, you know this that our polarized politics goes back to Thomas Jefferson versus John Adams, its long before President Trump. But the big question, is he closing the nations big political divides at all? Or are those divides widening?
KING: Certainly not closing and in some cases you could make the case they're widening a little bit. Let's take a look deeper into our poll. Republicans like what they see. 85 percent of Republican approve of the job he's doing. Guess what, nine in 10 Democrats say no thank you. They disapprove of the job.
Independents split more, but still 53 percent at independents disapprove of the job this president is doing. He is losing the middle of the electorate, losing Democrats big time if you look there.
Remember, Election Day, how different voting groups broke down? This poll looks a lot like November 8. The president won men on Election Day. It has slight approval, majority approval among men right now.
Six in 10 women though disapprove of the job he's doing as president. White Americans as white voters did in Election Day, narrowly approve of the president. That number has come down if you compare this to his Election Day numbers. It's down just a little bit though.
Non-white voters weren't for candidate Trump. And guess what, non- white Americans, 68 percent say they disapprove of the job President Trump is doing in office. And, again, this looks very much like Election Day, Jake.
[21:05:02] Younger voters did not support candidate Trump. Younger Americans by 67 percent to 29 percent margin disapprove of his job as president. On Election Day, who were Donald Trump's most reliable voters, those over the age of 65. 100 days in, they are his most reliable supporters, 53 percent approve, 45 percent disapprove.
So the overall numbers under water, Jake, on the issues the president declined a little bit, some bright spots when they comes to optimism about the economy. You look through the demographics, looks a whole lot like Election Day.
TAPPER: All right. John King, thank you so much. We have lots to talk about with my political round table. Let's get ready to it.
Mary Katharine Ham, let me start with you. There are other good news -- John didn't do all of the good news in that. There is some other good news. Can Trump bring needed change, 48 percent say yes, 51 percent say no. But that still a basically 50/50.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER AT THE FEDERALIST: When you're looking, I think in this poll, you start with the sort of low expectations game. He had lower approval ratings than anyone who has ever won the presidency. So you start with that.
And I think where you want to look is where he is not sliding, right? So where he is holding steady and those are overall approval, ability to handle foreign affairs, interestingly, and can bring needed change.
Can bring needed change is what he was hired for. That's what people took a chance on him for. That combined with some decent economic feelings is not a terrible combination to take out of this. TAPPER: Neera?
NEERA TANDEN, FORMER POLICY DIRECTOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: I mean, I think what's odd about the situation is he is president and he is really slid a little, not gained at all from the presidency since Election Day. And I think you're absolutely right, this was a change election. But even on change, he is not moving -- he is not getting --
HAM: He's not above water.
TANDEN: -- strong majorities. And he's really not bringing anyone into the tent. I think that most (inaudible) for him is independents who he is now losing and that's a big challenge for him going forward because, again, this should be his high water mark for his presidency. And it looks like it will polite -- could well be downhill from here.
TAPPER: And, David, you see a lot of the polls are following a lot of the coverage. For those who don't know, David Urban managed the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania, an amazing victory and you've manage to convince a number of this voters or help convinced that Trump was the guy to deal with.
But managing government effectively, he got a relatively low score. Is he honest and trustworthy, a disastrous score, only 37 percent saying he is honest and trustworthy. What do you make of these polls and can he turn a lot of these polls around?
DAVID URBAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: So, Jake, just like during the campaign, our numbers were never great, never great. Not once during the campaign did we have polling that showed the president doing well. And miraculously on Election Day, he won. So I don't put a great deal of credence in any of the numbers.
I think it's great for us to talk about. We can look at the cross tabs and see, you know, how he's done on some of the things. But, I think, you know, as Mary Katharine pointed out, great strong economic feeling in America. Numbers will start turning soon.
And also, to point out just also on the foreign policy front, you know, very, very tough situation right now in the Korean peninsula and the president's numbers on dealing with, you know, foreign relations crisis, very strong.
TAPPER: You know, they are strong and they are also strong in how to deal -- in how he is dealing with the military. Do you buy the idea that the better the economy does, assuming it continues to do well, knock on wood, that their economy might rise and might, you know, rise his ship?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We have long history of correlation between presidential approval and the economy. It's probably like the strongest correlation in presidential polling.
The things that jump out at me in this batch of numbers is the country is so polarized. We're such a 50/50 country, so any number that sort of breaks from that 50/50, or even 55/45 so the two that jumped out are the honesty numbers, right? Very, very low for a new president, you know, only 37 percent think he is honest.
And then relevant to his agenda is that number on health care. It was about 34 percent or 35 percent support what he is doing on health care. That means that a lot of Republicans are saying they don't like the direction he is going on health care.
Now, some of that could be conservatives who maybe don't think he is going far enough in their direction. But, if you're trying to pass this health care bill that he is trying to pass, that is a really bad number to have two-thirds of the country against you on that.
TAPPER: All right, Neera, Mary Katharine, Ryan, and David, stick around. We got lot more to discuss. President Trump unveiling his tax cut proposal. Can Democrats support any of his proposed changes? We'll talk to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, next.
[21:13:08] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." President Trump is closing out his 97th day in office by rolling out some new proposals on taxes and trade and by backing down from a looming congressional battle over the budget as the White House readies for that first 100 days report card.
To break it all down, let's bring in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Leader Pelosi, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: My pleasure. Thank you.
TAPPER: So first off, we've been asking this of guests such as yourself. What grade would you give President Trump for his first 100 days?
PELOSI: Oh, definitely incomplete.
PELOSI: His first 100 days is a list of promises made, promises broken. Starting with his pledge about jobs, we haven't seen a jobs bill, his pledge about health care that's going to be so accessible, affordable and all the rest. What did we seen but something that is the biggest transfer of wealth from working families to the richest people in the country. A health bill that -- a tax bill disguise as a health bill.
He talked about things that we're going to rid the earth of disease. What did he do but cut a fifth of the budget of the National Institutes of Health, an infrastructure bill. What did he do but cut the budget of the Transportation Department. Drain the swamp, whether he have story after story.
He said they're going to fire "Wall Street" and he has a cabinet from Wall Streeters (ph). Just every strong statement he made was a projection of what he was not going to do.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you about one area where he did get decent marks in our poll. Foreign affairs, you just got out of a briefing, a national security briefing that members of the House received as members of the Senate gathered earlier today about North Korea and the threat there of North Korea, of Kim Jong-un, attempting to develop a nuclear weapon, a missile that could hit the United States. Do you think that base on -- I know it was a classified briefing.
TAPPER: But do you think based on what you heard that U.S. military action against North Korea is -- to stop its nuclear program is either imminent or do you think it's necessary?
[21:15:03] PELOSI: Well, I think that the president is playing the fire when he plays with North Korea. I'm one of the few members of Congress who has been to Pyongyang, the capital, many people have been to Panmunjom, but not to the capital. And this is a very policed state. It's a very dangerous place.
We certainly don't want them developing a nuclear weapon and we certainly don't want them proliferating a nuclear weapon. But how we go about it has to be done with use of force as a very last resort. So, hopefully, the diplomacy encouraging China to do more, because China can do more.
TAPPER: They can. But you've been a longtime skeptic of China.
PELOSI: I have. I've been saying for years they haven't done what they should do on North Korea. He says things are different now. His people are saying -- I'm not talking about what's in the classified briefing, because I can't.
PELOSI: But in my conversations with them, we're going to do things differently now. China is going to cooperate, we will see. I don't like when the president says and if China doesn't, then will go in on that. We will do it on our own, because this has to be something where there's a consensus about the approach we take.
TAPPER: Do you think that when he says that, that's a gambit to try to encourage China to do it or do you think that he is considering unilateral, military action against North Korea to stop their nuclear proliferation program?
PELOSI: You want me to tell you what went on at the meeting.
TAPPER: Well, I'm trying in -- hopefully a clever way, apparently not that clever.
PELOSI: You have to ask him.
TAPPER: All right. The State Department said today that North Korea poses a growing threat to the U.S. homeland. Has North Korea's aggression or capability changed at all in the last three to six months?
PELOSI: I don't think in the three or six months. Over time, they have been developing with help from China and Russia and places like that so we can get some cooperation to stop the transfer of technology.
But, the -- I think it's an overstatement to say there's a threat to the United States yet because what it is -- you want to talk about this? Because what you have to do when you have a nuclear weapon, you have to have the technology.
PELOSI: You have to have the technology. You have to have the scientists to know how to miniaturize and the rest. You have to have the delivering system. And you have to have the intent. And all of those things are -- we don't know are necessarily present, especially the miniaturization to put something on a weapon. And we have our, shall we say, remedies to some of this.
TAPPER: Right. Let's talk about tax reform, tax cuts. President Trump announced as a one pager, but broad outlines of what he would like to do.
TAPPER: He wants to bring down the tax rate for businesses down from about 35 percent to 15 percent, eliminating most deductions. He says he wants to bring it from seven different categories for the individual personal income tax down to three. And he says it's a key campaign promise to make it more simple. Is there any part of what you heard today that you could get behind?
PELOSI: Well, let's just say this. We have always said that we wanted to do -- reform the tax code to make it simple, to make it fairer, and to make it help reduce the deficit. What the president proposed today is something that will increase the deficit by $5.5 trillion. The Republicans have avoided responsibility of paying for their tax cuts.
They're saying, "Oh, the growth in the economy will cover it." They call that dynamic scoring. But the fact is it never has. It never has. This is called trickle down economics. It never has. Its tax breaks for high end overwhelmingly with a few goodies to make it look good on the side but it always has -- and they say -- Speaker Boehner said before, trickle down. If it trickles down, that would be good. If it crash outs (ph), that would be good. If it doesn't, so be it. That is the free market.
Well, it isn't -- again, let's sit down, Mr. President, and talk about how we can lower the corporate rate, how we can give a tax break to the middle class so that we are growing the economy and making the middle class and paychecks (inaudible) more robust.
And all I say to my people when they go into this negotiations, diagnostic (ph). You hear a good idea, wherever it's coming from, good for it. If it promotes growth for good paying jobs in our country, creates jobs and reduces the deficit, that's not what his proposal does.
TAPPER: Just, you know, he has talked about -- after the health care bill disaster, he talked about maybe reaching out to Democrats. Now, I don't know if he actually meant that or if he was just saying that to scare off the -- scare the House Freedom Caucus and give Paul Ryan something to threaten them with. If you don't work with us, then he's going to go to Nancy Pelosi.
Has President Trump ever called you and said, "I would like to work with you on this trade bill or this tax bill?" Has there been anything like that?
PELOSI: Well, I've spoken to him recently following Syria attack that night. We always talk about working together. That's our responsibility to try to find common ground.
[21:20:02] TAPPER: But is this been a specific issue where --
PELOSI: Well, his people have called his --
PELOSI: In the last day I've spoken to Director Mulvaney and I've spoken to his chief of staff more than one --
TAPPER: About tax cuts or about --
PELOSI: No, talking about the -- keeping government open.
TAPPER: Keeping the government open?
TAPPER: Let me ask you about an issue that's --
PELOSI: But we stand ready to work with him. You want do an infrastructure bill? Show us your infrastructure bill, where is that? He's been -- he was elected like five, six months ago, almost, and we still don't see an infrastructure bill. We look forward to that. It's never been partisan, except when President Obama proposed it, and then Republicans opposed it.
TAPPER: You just talked about the government spending bill. That deadline is fast approaching. Is there going to be a government spending bill or is there going to be -- just a one week spending bill? What's going to happen, do you think?
PELOSI: Well, I think that we will not -- we're determined that we will not shutdown government. In anyway, the Democrats are determined that we will not have a government shutdown.
If we have -- if we need a one week extension in order to do -- pass it on the floor, legislative part of it, I think we're OK with that. I mean, we would be OK with that. But if we don't resolve our differences and it's just another postponement, another postponement, we're not good for that.
TAPPER: So when you say --
PELOSI: We just want to get it done.
TAPPER: Don't resolve our differences, are you referring to the funding for Obamacare that --
PELOSI: We'll find out the poison pills to begin with. There are probably still 70 poison pills in the bill that we can't live with. There's progress we need to make on --
TAPPER: On mine workers.
PELOSI: -- mine workers --
PELOS: -- close to my heart, had 100 of them in the office today. We have issues that relate to how we -- oh, just relating to what the president said, he's going to have clean air and clean water and it takes all the money out of the opportunity to do that. So we want to deal with that as making some more progress in the bill.
So we have some items that we want to improve the bill. We have some poison pills that we have to get rid of. But two obstacles that were there, the wall --
TAPPER: Yeah, that's gone.
PELOSI: -- that kicked -- that came down the road. And we still would like to have some better, more certainty in terms of the funding for the Affordable Care Act. But we're on a good path.
TAPPER: But no government shutdown this week, you're saying. I want to ask you a question about --
PELOSI: Not this week.
TAPPER: Yes, not this week.
PELOSI: I hope never, because it's a very bad thing.
TAPPER: Yesterday, a federal district judge sided with the city of San Francisco and other communities in California blocking the Trump administration from enforcing a threat to take away some funding from what they called sanctuary cities, what sanctuary cities call sanctuary cities.
Here is the response from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, "San Francisco and cities like it are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens. And those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands." You haven't seen that? You haven't seen that before?
PELOSI: No, I haven't seen that.
TAPPER: I assume that he is --
PELOSI: Shame on him.
TAPPER: You don't like that statement?
PELOSI: Well, I don't like that statement because frankly he doesn't even know what he is talking about.
TAPPER: To play devil's advocate.
PELOSI: Yes, OK.
TAPPER: The president made a big deal --
PELOSI: You're good with that.
TAPPER: The president made a big deal out of the horrific murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
PELOSI: Yeah, that was a horrible thing.
TAPPER: Horrible thing, she was killed by undocumented immigrant who'd been deported five times, still made its way back to San Francisco. Given that context, because I imagine that might have been what he was talking about. What do you have to say?
PELOSI: Well, first of all, the fact that the idea of sanctuary cities was something that came together with the religious community, bring people together to say, how can we protect our people, keep our city safe? That's an oath we all take no matter what we're doing. We usually all have to take an oath to protect the American people, and this is a way to do that.
If you were somebody who was here not fully documented or overstayed your welcome and you wanted to report a crime to us or give us their witness to something that would help protect us, according to --
PELOSI: -- whatever his name is --
PELOSI: -- you would be deported for coming forth to say, I can help you solve a crime. So that's what this is about. It's about making people safer and not having our police forces turn into an immigration deportation force.
So this -- you know, they have to -- they should understand what it's about. And I can understand that they may disagree, but to use terms like blood, I mean, really, this is beneath the dignity of the debate that we have to have about the oath of office we take to protect the American people.
TAPPER: Thank you, Leader Pelosi. For the record, I am a legal citizen, but I am often accused of overstaying my welcome.
PELOSI: I want you to know that you can find out about the broken promises --
TAPPER: Oh, here we go.
PELOSI: -- at democraticleader.gov.
PELOSI: Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Leader Pelosi., so good to see you.
With three days left, Donald Trump is packing his days from signing executive orders to attending a briefing with the full Senate and unveiling his tax proposal. Is he feeling pressure in these first 100 days? Is that why the schedule is so busy? That story next.
[21:28:58] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." We're looking at President Trump's 100 days coming up -- the landmark coming up on Saturday.
So much to talk about with our roundtable. David Urban, former campaign manager for Pennsylvania for the Trump campaign. Let me give you the response to Nancy Pelosi. What did you hear from her?
URBAN: Jake, I was pleasantly surprised the speaker gave, you know, former speaker gave him an incomplete and not enough. And I was expecting her to come out her and rail against him. And he gave an incomplete, which I think is a pretty good mark from her.
I particularly disagree about the sanctuary city comments. I have heard this repeated by Democrat after Democrat that somehow enforcing the law is incongruous with good policing, right?
You've been -- the people won't come forward and report crimes when the police are trying to go after real bad guys either. They're not looking for Dreamers. They're looking for MS-13. They're looking for really bad actors. And I keep hearing this report that they're not going to draw people out of the shadows. I just disagree on that, enforce the law.
TANDEN: We have facts that have happened that there was a Dreamer deported last week. We have a 30 percent decline of rapes reported in Texas. 30 percent decline in rapes reported in Los Angeles amongst Latinos. I think that is a real concern.
[21:30:06] I do think there is a security issue. And perhaps I could understand you saying on both sides. But there is a security argument here.
On sanctuary cities, the real challenge here is this is an issue of federalism localities when they have law enforcement and usually Republicans are saying, let states and localities decide. In this case, they want the federal government to come in and stamp down the immigration policies. I don't really understand why that's consistent with generally your view on federalism.
URBAN: And so I don't necessarily think -- again, I don't think they're incongruent. I don't think having local police enforce the law-- I don't think that enforcing the law is incompatible with good policing at a local level.
TANDEN: I'm saying the police here in San Francisco and some of these localities, Los Angeles, New York, they don't want to become a deportation force. That's the decision -- that is what the discussion is about.
URBAN: And I don't think that's what they're being asked to do. I think they're being asked to report really bad actors.
TANDEN: That's what you think they're being --
URBAN: Well, I think it may be clarified.
TAPPER: Let me bring in Mary Katherine around here.
HAM: Yeah. Look, a couple of things. There is a couple things to contend with. One that family like the Steinle family are dealing with a different security issue and that matters and there are real victims when the systems failed.
And then the other issue I think that Democrats have to deal with and I want -- so I think I'm more flexible on this than some Republicans might be. But you have to deal with the idea that Harvard/Hill poll just recently showed 80 percent of Americans think it's perfectly reasonable to ask municipalities to cooperate with the federal government on this issue. And that's-- I think that's a political reality you have to deal with.
TANDEN: Then at the courts, I'm just saying the court here decided -- are deciding these issues.
LIZZA: One thing on federalism, we are seeing a renaissance of liberal federalism, right?
HAM: I know. Join us. I love it.
LIZZA: Well, you know, when you have a --
TAPPER: Everybody changes sides.
LIZZA: Everyone changes side on this, right? You know, California should be allowed to do what it wants to do. Manhattan should be allowed to do what it wants to do when you have George W. Bush or Donald Trump as president. Things flip around when you have Barrack Obama.
You know, look, this is -- one of the things we're seeing in the first 100 days is like Obama's executive orders and even legislative actions. This is going to be presidency that a lot of the stuff gets decided in the courts, right? The courts are now the forum where the big political debates --
TAPPER: Speaking of the courts, we have the district judge slap down part of the executive order on sanctuary cities. Not the whole thing, but part of it and now President Trump renewing talk this evening in an interview with the "Washington Examiner," not the first time he brought it up and not the first time a Republican is brought it up, but talking about breaking up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which he can't do.
TANDEN: Yeah, which he can't actually do. But --
TAPPER: But he could sign a law to do if Congress --
TANDEN: Yes, Congress could do it. You know, I think what's disconcerting about this kind of talk is a little bit that it does sound like it's an assault on the judiciary itself. You know, President Obama got ruled against by a lot of Texas Justice (ph) Court. He did not attack the judiciary writ large. He did not attack them before they made decisions.
TAPPER: But he went after the Supreme Court over citizens united.
TANDEN: I mean he had disagreement-- his language was a little more muted than what we're seeing (inaudible) president.
URBAN: The Ninth Circuit is notoriously the poster child for judicial activism.
TANDEN: And Texas was the place that people forum shop to go after Obama's decisions. I mean --
LIZZA: It's important to note that the Ninth Circuit has not ruled on this.
TANDEN: Yes, exactly.
TAPPER: The appeal would go to the district court.
HAM: Right. But --
TAPPER: But he is really jumping, then gone (ph).
HAM: Nobody had actually faced any consequences for this executive order. They had put forth some guidelines. And specifically the executive order says stay within constitutional bounds. And then the judge takes it up even though nobody's funding has been taken away.
TANDEN: If anything happen actually in the Supreme Court, I mean, just ironically enough is based on (inaudible).
TAPPER: We have to take a very quick break. Everyone stick around. We've got a lot more to talk about. We'll be right back.
[21:37:49] TAPPER: Just coming in tonight in the politics lead, we were just talking about a federal judge's decision to block part of the president's sanctuary city executive order. Well, now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is vowing to fight the judge's ruling.
Sessions said in a statement, "This is the Trump era. Progress is being made daily and it will continue. This will be the administration that fully enforces our nation's immigration laws." That statement comes as President Trump elevates his battle with federal courts. This time backing attempts to break up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest federal appellate system in the country. It covers nine states plus Guam in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Today, Mr. Trump told the "Washington Examiner" he has absolutely considered proposals to split up the Ninth Circuit. He also slammed what he called judge shopping, the notion that lawyers run cases to the Ninth Circuit for a more likely win.
Joining me now to discuss this, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, thanks for joining us. Can President Trump do this? Does he have the authority to breakup a Circuit Court?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not by himself. But Congress can and Congress has. In 1981, Congress split the old Fifth Circuit into the new Fifth Circuit and New Eleventh Circuit. And there have been proposals for decades mostly by conservatives to break up the Ninth Circuit as President Trump suggested today, but he can only be done by Congress, not the president alone.
TAPPER: And why have Republicans wanted to break up the Ninth Circuit, because it's generally considered a liberal court?
TOOBIN: Exactly. I mean, there are-- it's also the biggest circuit in terms of numbers. It is somewhat unwieldy. But, the real reason is that because so many judges have come out of California by far the biggest state in the Ninth Circuit. And just by the luck of the draw Democratic presidents, especially Jimmy Carter, had the chance to make a lot of appointments in the Ninth Circuit.
It's been a very liberal court. It's stock in (inaudible) a lot of conservatives. These bills have sat in Congress for years, but there's never been a lot of momentum behind them and they've never really gotten very far.
TAPPER: And there are Republicans in places like Arizona who don't think that judges in San Francisco should be ruling on them.
TOOBIN: That's exactly right. And, you know, you have the western states inland which are by far, of course, more conservative. The judges are more conservative. But it is also true that they are part of the Ninth Circuit, too.
[21:40:04] And, you know, people shouldn't assume that just because a case comes out of the Ninth Circuit it's going to be a liberal decision. There are many judges, not as many as there are liberal, but there are certainly several conservative judges, including the chief judge now, Alex Kozinski or -- the recently chief judge, he -- they are quite conservative. So, you know, it's not a guaranteed outcome there.
TAPPER: President Trump has criticized judges. He did it last year when he came the Judge Curiel. He did it with the judges who overruled his immigration ban earlier this year. A lot of people say that this is inappropriate. Some say, "Hey, this is just in keeping with an old tradition." What do you think?
TOOBIN: I am with the latter. I mean, I would put the criticism of Judge Curiel as-- in the separate category, that was racist and appalling, but the criticism of the judges and the decisions that he's faced on the travel ban and on the decision yesterday on sanctuary cities. I think that's fair game.
These judges serve for life. They are unaccountable. They are unelected. I think they are perfectly fair game for criticism. And, you know, that's part of President Trump has First Amendment rights and I think he is free to use them.
TAPPER: Is it wise -- a separate issue than whether or not it's appropriate. Is it wise for a president to do this? I've heard some conservatives say, "I wish he wouldn't do that," not because they disagree, but because it's likely that he will have other decisions coming down the pipe with similar judges if not the same ones.
TOOBIN: You know, I give the judges a little more credit than that that they're not going to, you know, get their back up by some -- by criticism. You know, I think it depends on the kind of criticism. I think he said that these will -- these sorts of decisions will expose citizens to danger.
I mean, that's a disputable point. But I think it's a fair point to raise. I think calling them so-called judges and saying they are unelected is silly. I mean, every federal judge is unelected, including Justice Gorsuch. So, its not-- that kind of criticism I think is just silly.
But, you know, criticism about what the implications of these decisions could be, I think it's serious. I think it's important. It doesn't mean it's justified. But these are important public figures and I think the criticism of them is totally fair game.
TAPPER: All right. Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much. This next question would be really easy to answer if the president would release his tax returns. But what might the president's biggest tax break ever mean for him and his own business? Stay with us.
[21:46:31] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." We're back now with the political roundtable. So let may ask you David. There are people out there who see this frenzied activity going on this week. A very, you know, broad stroke tax cut proposal, discussion of passing health care, but no real health care bill necessarily going to be voted on this week.
This briefing on North Korea that had all these -- 100 senators marching to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and coming back and a bunch of them saying, "I don't know why we had go there. I didn't learn anything new or they could have come to us." Is there some element of optics going on here of the president in -- as we hit 100 days wanting to seem busy and active on the case?
URBAN: Sure, of course, there's Jake. This is politics, right? I mean, to think there isn't, is naive. But there is -- there are lots of things taking place. I mean, the health care bill is going to be backup. They may have a vote. You know, there's been a proposal, an amendment offered. You know, we could have vote this week, next week. Things are moving.
I mean, the president is doing lots of things. The tax plan that was articulated is broad sweeping and big idea is going to be the biggest tax cut in the history according to the president if the Congress goes along with it. I think we can see a lot of big things here so, yeah.
TAPPER: If the Congress goes along with it is an important element of that. Of course, especially because they're going to have to get it through the Senate and to do that you need eight Democrats.
URBAN: Not unless they have reconciliation.
TAPPER: Reconciliation and make it a temporary task.
TANDEN: But even -- I mean, this is a tax cut or tax proposal which is, you know, half a page, essentially. But, it's a tax cut plan that basically has $5 trillion hole in the deficit. And, I have been hearing the last couple of years where Republicans were lecturing us all on deficit standing and decreasing --
HAM: I welcome the leader who was out here to that coalition.
TAPPER: Nancy Pelosi had --
TANDEN: You know, she actually -- they actually did pass bill that did actually not blow hole of $5 trillion, but also I think, you know, on health care and on taxes they would say there are people who voted for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and across the Midwest and across the country. Working class, folks who are working paycheck to paycheck and the health care bill makes their health care worse. It raises their premiums. And this tax plan is really a tax when it does very little for them. And all the benefit goes really to the people like under the tax, "Wall Street," the rich, the super rich, et cetera.
TAPPER: Just one thing I want to touch on the deficit, Mary Katharine, because you brought that up. Here's a tweet from -- just before Election Day in 2012. "Our $17 trillion national debt and $1 trillion yearly budget deficits are a national security risk of the highest order." Author, Donald J. Trump.
TAPPER: Now, we're talking about --
HAM: Imagine that. No, look, I think you need to do this responsibly and I think that part matters. I also think dynamic scoring matters and that growth can get you things that Democrats sometimes discount.
Look, I think it matters that he is rolling this out. I don't get -- it means he cares about it. The complexity of the tax system is a subsidy for people who can afford a really good accountant simplifying that it is important and basically, everyone in Washington agrees that simplifying and reform are important and should be done. The problem is that, you start taking deductions away and everybody has got their little goodie and there's going to be a giant coalition that says we should do nothing.
TAPPER: And, Ryan, what do you think is the best most likely bill that Trump could actually get passed to become law, he signs it?
LIZZA: A simple tax cut with none of the actual reform. I mean, already two pieces of this have been eliminated, right? Unless they get this health care done, they don't have the money they wanted from repealing Obamacare to help with tax reform
[21:50:07] And then today, Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary said he is not on board with Paul Ryan's proposal to the border adjustment tax. That was going to raise, what, like $1 trillion. If they don't have any of those pay force, it's going to blow huge hole in deficit and it's going to be much, much harder to pass.
TAPPER: Great panel. Thank you so much one in all. Appreciate you being here.
Coming up, how might President Trump benefit theoretically from his own proposed tax cuts even without his full tax returns? We do have an idea. It could be in big savings for the billionaire. That story next.
TAPPER: We're back with our money lead now. Today, the White House released a broad overview of the president's tax cut proposal, a one page sheet outlining changes to both individual tax rates and proposing a deep cut to the top rate for all businesses cutting it to about 15 percent, although many details are missing. What we do know about this proposal is that it could benefit some of the wealthiest Americans, including, it has to be said, President Trump himself.
Let's bring in CNN Money Correspondent, Christina Alesci. And, Christina, we don't know exactly how this will impact the president because he does not release his tax returns. But based on what we do know, will he benefit from his proposal?
CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: With the limited information that we have, it looks like a boon for him and other wealthy Americans like him and three main reasons for that. One, it's going to eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which is designed to really make sure the wealthy pay their fair share.
[21:55:07] Number two, it's going to lower the tax rate for the kind of business he owns specifically. Now, this is -- it's just not the corporate tax rate, but this is specific to the kind of business he owns. And third, it's going to eliminate the estate tax.
Now, on the alternative minimum tax, we know in 2005 that Donald Trump paid $37 million in tax. The bulk of that was because of the AMT. If it weren't for that tax, he would have paid $5.3 million.
ALESCI: So that is drastic in and out of itself. Now, under the current tax code, his business income is subject to a very high rate. It's not necessarily what he pays, but its the 39.6 percent rate under current law. Under his own plan, the business income, that same business income would be subject to 15 percent. So, that could result in tens of millions of dollars in savings for him personally.
Look, every time the administration is going to talk about tax policy, this question of whether or not it benefits him and how it's going to continue to come up, it came up today in the briefing and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin totally avoided the question. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, your response to those critics who say a lot of what you presented here today could save the president or benefit his own businesses?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Again, let me just comment what this is about is creating jobs and creating economic growth. And that's what massive tax cuts and massive tax reform in simplifying the system is what we're going to do. The AMT is just another example of a third complicated set of rules. Anyway, thank you everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This proposal also could theoretically benefit his children.
ALESCI: That's right. They would avoid paying 40 percent estate tax when they inherit Mr. Trump's estate. So, yes, total benefit for them. Again, it's really hard to tell whether or not he's going to deliver on his campaign promise to help the little guy, but we're going to try to figure it out.
TAPPER: Christina Alesci, thank you so much.
Finally from us tonight, we noticed some numbers that alarmed us today. They appeared in an ABC News/Washington Post poll showing a shockingly high percentage of Americans believe President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign.
This all began, of course, on March 4th after a long frustrating week for the president. At the end of which, he suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere began a succession of tweets that started with, "Terrible, just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."
Now, if McCarthyism is defined as making wild accusations without any evidence, the only thing that was McCarthyism were the president's tweets. Any evidence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: You know, any evidence that this has occurred, the intelligence committee has not seen evidence that this has occurred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How about you, FBI Director James Comey?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So that would have seemingly been that, except that the president and his team kept pushing ways to try to make this evidence free claim somewhere sort of possibly in the neighborhood of almost not entirely false. Now they failed, but they muddied the waters quite a bit. And now here are the shocking numbers from today.
32 percent of the public thinks President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign and 52 percent of Republicans believe this charge. A charge that there is literally no evidence to support. It is the definition of fake news.
Now, look, this is America and you can believe whatever you want to believe. 18 percent of the public says they've seen or been in the presence of a ghost. I mean whatever. But in a thriving democracy, truth matters and facts matter.
We learned in the campaign that Donald Trump can be cavalier about facts and truth. We learned in his first 100 days that that's not going to change. Indeed, that some in the government and some of his friends and conservative media will even work to tried and make his falsehoods seem true.
But you know what? There's also a lot of incendiary nonsense against President Trump on the left to these days that is just as fake and just as free of any evidence. Both in progressive media and all over twitter being retweeted by otherwise sensible folks.
This is a time for all journalists to be extra careful about our own reporting to make sure we adhere strictly to facts and cogent analysis. And this is the time for you, the public, to demand evidence from your leaders and from your media, even if you already agree with the politics of the person on your TV.
Be sure to tune in again 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night for another special edition of "The Lead," among our guest tomorrow night, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
That's it for "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon. A mass scramble for high profile victories with the first 100-day marked looming as president -- the president proposed a major tax break for the wealthiest Americans.