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Army Rangers Killed "Possibly Struck By Friendly Fire"; Soon: Trump Speaks To NRA On 99th Day In Office; Trump First President Since Reagan To Speak At NRA; Trump Speaks To NRA On 99th Day In Office; Trump Weighs In On Crucial GA Congressional Race; Trump: My 2020 Opponent May Be Elizabeth Warren; Trump: We Will Build Wall No Matter The Cost; Trump On Building Border Wall: "That's An Easy One"; Aired: 2:00-2:30p ET
Aired April 28, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
April 28, 2017
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here we go. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Friday afternoon. We'll take you back to Atlanta momentarily and make sure we take President Trump as he speaks before the NRA. The first time a president has done that since President Reagan in 1983. But first let's go to some breaking news out of Afghanistan.
The Pentagon now says it is possible that two army rangers killed in a raid in the last 24 hours were hit by friendly fire. 23-year-old Sergeant Cameron Thomas of Ohio and 22-year-old Sergeant Joshua Rodgers of Illinois were killed during a raid targeting an ISIS leader. So let's go to Ryan Browne, here's our correspondent there at The Pentagon with more details. What more you know, Ryan?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN REPORTER: All right, Brooke, these two sergeants, these two U.S. Army rangers were killed in this very large scale operation. We're told that 50 U.S. Army rangers and about 40 Afghan commandos were inserted via helicopter into this very remote part of Afghanistan. Achin District right there on the border with Pakistan. And it was an intense three-hour gun battle. They came under fire almost immediately by ISIS. Their target, the top ISIS leader in Afghanistan.
So considered so high value that they launched this large-scale operation. This intense gun battle was also followed by air strikes that estimated about 35 ISIS fighters were killed. The U.S. thinks they might have killed the top ISIS leader. They're still looking into that. But during the gun battle of course, there was also this incident where the two U.S. army rangers were killed. It is believe possible by friendly fire. That is still being investigated by U.S. Forces Afghanistan.
They're still trying to determine exactly what happened. You know, military officials talk about the fog of war. These kinds of things can happen in this intense close quarter fire fight with small arms. So again, military looking into it. But they do believe the mission was successful, albeit at a cost.
BALDWIN: Obviously our condolences to their families back here at home. Ryan Browne, thank you very much from The Pentagon. Again, just to heads up we're waiting to hear from President Trump speaking to the National Rifle Association for -- this is the first time for him in his first 99 days as president. And as he is about to enter the 100-day mark of his time in office, the president is -- he's doing a lot of talking. He just gave a couple of interviews that touched on topics like North Korea and his former life as a sort of private citizen as a businessman. So as we wait for the president to speak there in Atlanta in front of this NRA crowd, let me go to famed author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. So as always, such as a pleasure to have you on, Doris. Thank you so much for joining me.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AUTHOR, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Most welcome.
BALDWIN: So we'll get to the event last night and a guy by the name of former President Barack Obama who you had shared some moments with on stage.
GOODWIN: I remember him.
BALDWIN: That guy from, you know, 99 days ago. But let's begin with President Trump. And so he gave these fascinating interviewed to, you know, Reuters, Washington post, several others. And the headlines that keeps grabbing people today is the line where he says I love my previous life. I love my previous life, I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I don't know if he misses his previous life, he longs for it, he has a preference for it but you've talked to a lot of presidents. And how does this compare?
GOODWIN: Well, it is interesting. It does seem to be a wistfulness about that previous life and almost as if it was a lot more fun than its current life. And I think the important thing, our best presidents have always no matter how difficult a job, known that it's the best job in the world and loved it. I mean, FDR once was asked, "How do you deal with all of these terrible decisions you have to make every night?" and he said, "What do you mean? Wouldn't anybody want to be president? It's the best job. I love every single minute of it."
Teddy Roosevelt said the same thing and there was a moment when young John Kennedy was running for the presidency and Frankfurter the Supreme Court Justice had said, "Only the best presidents are the ones that love the job," and he told Mike's husband, the young speechwriter to tell Kennedy that and Kennedy said, "You tell him I'm going to damn right have the best job in the world. I've got to love every minute of it." So there's a wistfulness that I think you hope that he's going to have more pleasure in this because you've got to have the pleasure to deal with the stress.
BALDWIN: There was a lot of substance in the conversation, talking about, you know, what's happened with regard to NAFTA, North Korea, and we'll get into that with Jeff Mason who is actually one of the reporters interviewing him. But he talked about how he misses driving and I know a lot of people saw that and thought, "Wait, did he drive before?" I have proof from Facebook, this is what Melania Trump posted two years ago. I know. Taylor Swift. That's a whole other discussion. (INAUDIBLE) is laughing, she is watching. So he does drive or he has driven but Doris, he says it's a security issue. We all know presidents can't drive. I think even president Obama. I think he's learning to drive now, is that right?
GOODWIN: No question. I mean, last summer when I interviewed him for Vanity Fair and I said, "What are you waiting for? Most when you get out of here," and he said, "I can't wait to drive a car in the open spaces and not have a thousand people following me. So there's something about cars and these guys. Franklin Roosevelt had his own car made where he could operate it by hand machines and he would go around his place at Hyde Park and he would elude the secret service and go right to the edge of crypt -- cliffs as if he was going to go over and he was feeling like, "I've got freedom."
And LBJ had this incredible amphibious car that could go right into the water. He took me in it one time at the top of a hill without telling me it was going to become an amphibious car and then all of a sudden car slips into the matter and I didn't get scared because it was him and he got so mad and he said, "What's the matter with you Harvard people, don't you have enough sense to get scared with going into the water?" So maybe cars are the main things that these guys when they get out.
BALDWIN: Doris Kearns Goodwin, thank you so much for joining me. Let's just go ahead and dip in and listen. Here is the president on stage here in front of the National Rifle Association.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Chris, for that kind introduction and for your tremendous work on behalf of our Second Amendment. Thank you very much. I want to also thank Wayne LaPierre for his unflinching leadership in the fight for freedom. Wayne, thank you very much. I'd also like to congratulate Karen Handel on her incredible fight in Georgia 6. The election takes place on June 20th.
And by the way, on primaries, let's not have 11 republicans running for the same position, OK? It's too nerve-shattering. She's totally for the NRA and she's totally for the Second Amendment, so get out and vote. You know, she's running against someone who's going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care and he's for open borders, lots of crime and he's not even able to vote in the district that he's running in, other than that, I think he's doing a fantastic job. Right? So get out and vote for Karen.
Also my friend, he's become a friend because there's nobody that does it like Lee Greenwood. Wow. Lee's anthem is the perfect description of the renewed spirit sweeping across our country and it really is indeed sweeping across our country. So Lee, I know I speak for everyone in this arena when I say we are all very proud indeed to be an American. Thank you very much, Lee. No one was more proud to be American than the beloved's patriot, and you know who I'm talking about, we remember on gatherings like today your former five-term president, the late Charlton Heston.
How good was Charlton? And I remember Charlton, he was out there fighting when maybe a lot of people didn't want to be fighting. He was out there for a long time. He was a great guy. And it's truly wonderful to be back in Atlanta and back with my friends at the NRA. You are my friends. Believe me. Perhaps some of you remember the last time we were all together. Remember that? We had a big crowd then, too, so we knew something was happening.
But it was in the middle of a historic politic year and in the middle of a truly historic election. What fun that was. November 8. Wasn't that a great evening? Do you remember that evening? Remember that? Remember they were saying, "We have breaking news, Donald Trump has won the State of Michigan." They go, "Michigan? How did that -- "Donald trump has won the State of Wisconsin." Whoa.
But earlier in the evening, remember Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, all the way up, we ran up the East Coast. And you know, the republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. You know that. And tremendous disadvantage. And to run the whole East Coast and then you go with Iowa and Ohio and all of the different states, it was a great evening, one that a lot of people will never forget. A lot of people. Not going to forget that evening.
And remember they said there is no path to 270. For months I was hearing that. You know, they're trying to suppress the vote so they keep saying this. Some people say, "You know, I really like Trump. He loves the Second Amendment, he loves the NRA, I love him but let's go to the movie because he can't win because they're trying to suppress the vote." But they say -- I mean, a hundreds of times I heard, there is no -- you know, there's no route, they say. There is no route to 270 and we ended up with 306.
So they were right. Not 270. 306. That was some evening. Big sports fans said that was the single most exciting event they've ever seen. That includes Super Bowls and World Series and boxing matches. That was an exciting evening for all of us and it meant a lot. Only one candidate in the general election came to speak to you and that candidate is now the President of the United States standing before you again. I have a feeling that in the next election you're going to be swamped with candidates but you're not going to be wasting your time.
You'll have plenty of those democrats coming over and you'll say, "No, sir, no thank you. No, ma'am," perhaps ma'am. It may be Pocahontas. Remember that? And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you. But you came through for me and I am going to come through for you. I was proud to receive the NRA's earliest indorsement in the he history of the organization and today I am also proud to be the first sitting president to address the NRA leadership forum since our wonderful Ronald Reagan in 1983 and I want to thank each and every one of you.
Not only for your help electing true friends of the second amendment but for everything you do to defend our flag and our freedom. With your activism, you help safeguard the freedoms of our soldiers who have bled and died for us on the battlefields. And I know we have many veterans in the audience today and we want to give them a big, big, beautiful round of applause. And like I promised, we are doing a really top job already.
Ninety-nine days but already with the veterans administration, people are seeing a big difference. We are working really hard at the V.A. And you're going to see it and you're already seeing it and it's my honor. I've been telling you we're going to do it and we're doing it. Thank you. The NRA protects in our capitals and legislative houses, the freedoms that our service members have won for us on those incredible battlefields.
And it's been a tough fight against those who would go so far as to ban private gun ownership entirely. But I am here to deliver you good news and I can tell you that Wayne and Chris have been fighting with me long and hard to make sure that we were with you today, not somebody else with an empty podium because believe me, the podium would have been empty. They fought long and hard and I think you folks cannot thank them enough. They were with us all the way right from the beginning.
But we have news that you've been waiting for for a long time. The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners. No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans. Instead, we will work with you by your side, we will work with the NRA to promote responsible gun ownership to protect our wonderful hunters and their access to the very beautiful outdoors. You met my son. I can tell you, both sons, they love the outdoors.
Frankly, I think they love the outdoors more than they love by a long shot fifth avenue, but that's OK. And we want to ensure you of the sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens. When I spoke to this forum last year, our nation was still mourning, the loss of a giant, a great defender of the constitution, Justice Antonin Scalia. I promised that if elected I would nominate a justice who would be faithful and loyal to the constitution.
I even went one step further and publicly presented a list of 20 judges from which I would make my selection. And that's exactly what we did. And by the way, I want to thank realty heritage and I want to thank also all of the people that worked with us. Where is Leo? Is Leo around here? Where is he? He's got to be here. He -- where is he? He has been so good but from -- and also from the heritage, Jim DeMint, it's been amazing. I mean, those people have been fantastic.
They've been real -- they've been real friends. The federalist people, where are they? Are they around here someplace? They really helped us out. I kept my promise and now with your help our brand new justice and he is really something very special. Neil Gorsuch sits on the bench of the United States Supreme Court. For the first time in the modern political era, we have confirmed a new justice in the first 100 days. The last time that happened was 136 years ago in 1881. Now, we won't get any credit for this, but don't worry about it. The credit is in the audience, right? The credit is in the audience. All of those people. They won't give us credit but it's been a long time. And we're very honored. We've also taken action to stand up for America's sports. On the very last full day in office, the previous administration issued an 11th-hour rule to restrict the use of lead ammunition on certain federal land. Have you heard about that, folks? I'm shocked to hear that.
You've all heard about that, huh? You've heard about that. On his first day as secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke eliminated the previous administration's ammunition ban. He's going to be great. Ryan's going to be great. We have also moved very quickly to restore something gun owners care about very, very much. It's called the rule of law. We have made clear that our administration will always stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement.
In fact, countless members of law enforcement are also members of the NRA because our police know that responsible gun ownership saves lives. And that the right of self-defense is essential to public safety. Do we all agree with that? Our police and sheriffs also know that when you ban guns, only the criminals will be armed. For too long, Washington has gone after law-abiding gun owners while making life easier for criminals, drug dealers, traffickers, and gang members, MS-13.
Do you know about MS-13? It's not pleasant for them anymore, folks. It's not pleasant for them anymore. That's a bad group. Not pleasant for MS-13. Get them the hell out of here, right? Get them out. We are protecting the freedoms of law-abiding Americans and we are going after the criminal gangs and cartels that prey on our innocent citizens and we are really going after them. As members of the NRA know well, some of the most important decisions a president can make are appointments and I have appointed people who believe in law, order, and justice.
That is why I have selected as your attorney general, number one, a really fine person, a really good man, a man who has spent his entire career fighting crime supporting the police and defending the Second Amendment. For the first time in a long time, you have a Pro-2nd Amendment, tough on crime attorney general, and his name is Jeff Sessions. And Attorney General Sessions is putting our priorities into action.
He's going after the drug dealers who are pedaling their poison all over our streets and destroying our youth. He's going after the gang members who threaten our children and he's fully enforcing our immigration laws in all 50 states. And you know what, it's about time. Heading up the effort to secure America's borders is a great military general, a man of action, Homeland Security Director John Kelly. Secretary Kelly, who used to be General Kelly, is following through on my pledge to protect the borders, remove criminal aliens, and stop the drugs from pouring into our country.
We've already seen -- listen to this. N, it's never -- it's never happened before. People can't even believe it. And by the way, we will build the wall no matter how low this number gets or how high this is. Don't even think about it. Don't even think about. You know, they're trying to use the number against us because we've done so unbelievably at the borders already. They're trying to use it against us. But you need that wall to stop the human trafficking, to stop the drugs, to stop the wrong people. You need the wall. But listen to this, we've already seen a 73 percent decrease. Never happened before in a legal immigration on the southern border since my election 73 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Build it.
TRUMP: You see what they're doing, right? So why do you need a wall? We need a wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Build the wall.
TRUMP: We'll build the wall. Don't even think about it. Don't even think about it. Don't even think about it. That's an easy one. We're going to build a wall. We need the wall. I said to General Kelly, "How important is it?" and he said, "Very important." It's that final element. We need the wall. And it's a wall in certain areas and obviously we have these massive physical structures you don't need and we have certain big rivers and at all but we need a wall and we're going to get that wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're behind you, we're behind you, we're behind you.
TRUMP: And the world is getting the message. They know that our borders are no longer open to illegal immigration and that if they try to break in, you'll be caught and you'll be returned to your home. You're not staying any longer. And if you keep coming back illegally after deportation, you will be arrested, prosecuted, and you will be put behind bars. Otherwise, it will never end. Let's also remember that immigration security is national security.
We've seen the attacks from 9/11 to Boston to San Bernardino. Hundreds of individuals from other countries have been charged with terrorism-related offenses in the United States we spend billions and billions of dollars on security all over the world but then we allow radical Islamic terrorists to enter right through our front door. That's not going to happen anymore. It's time to get tough. It's time we finally got smart. And yes, it's also time to put America first.
And perhaps I see all of those beautiful red and white hats. But we will never forget our favorite slogan of them all, make America great again. All right. Keeping our community safe and protecting our freedoms also requires the cooperation of our state leaders. We have some incredible Pro-2nd Amendment governors here at the NRA conference, including Governor Scott of Florida. Where is Governor Scott? Where is he? Great guy. Doing a great job. Governor Bryant of Mississippi. What a wonderful place. Governor Bryant, he is here. Thank you. Governor Deal of Georgia.
And we're also joined by two people that -- well, one I loved from the very beginning, the other one I really like, didn't like, and now like a lot again. Does that make sense? Senator David Perdue. He was from the beginning and Senator Ted Cruz. Like, dislike, like. Where are they? Good guys. Good guys, smart cookies. Each of these leaders knows that public officials must serve under the constitution, not above it.
We all took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and that means defending the Second Amendment. So let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom loving Americans in the audience today. As your president, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never, ever. Freedom is not a gift from government, freedom is a gift from God. It was this conviction that stir the heart of a great American patriot.