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Controversial Sheriff: I've Accepted Administration Job; Flynn Will Not Honor Senate Intel Committee Subpoena; Paul Ryan Takes Reporters' Questions at Weekly Briefing. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired May 18, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Key here is I don't think this is a position that he was going to be taking on that requires Senate confirmation, right?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Right. So, you could say what you want about Donald Trump's political acumen, but I think someone, if not him, someone will be in his ear saying that David Clarke will never be confirmed to anything in Washington. This would not be a confirmed job that would require any sort of Senate confirmation. This is -- the job that he says he is getting, he said on a Milwaukee radio station, he says he's getting is essentially a liaison between the DHS, the federal government, and local law enforcement. You know, it's not an insignificant job, but it's not as though he's going to be the deputy Homeland Security secretary. So, once you get a little bit further down in the federal bureaucracy, easy for me to say, there's a lot of jobs like this you can just appoint to. Remember, Mike Flynn would never have gotten through a Senate confirmation. National security adviser is not a confirmed post either. I think Donald Trump likely. Given what we know what Donald Trump knew about Mike Flynn before he nominated him, I think Donald Trump was aware that Flynn wouldn't have made it either.
BOLDUAN: Well, I mean, this, obviously, a position that probably traditionally would go unnoticed when it really becomes filled. Definitely not going unnoticed.
BOLDUAN: Definitely not going unnoticed this time. But first and foremost, let's find out if job offered and job accepted. I guess we should start right there.
Regardless, great to see you, Chris. Thanks so much.
CILLIZZA: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: We're going to be following more of our breaking news. President Trump lashing out this morning, on defense, following the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's involvement in the election and Donald Trump's campaign ties, possible campaign ties, to Russia. Moments from now, we are going to get the first public reaction from the top Republican in the House. Stand by for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[11:35:48] BOLDUAN: Following more breaking news just in. The Senate Intelligence chairman, Richard Burr, he has just told reporters that Michael Flynn's attorneys have said that they will not honor a subpoena that the committee had given to them for records from Flynn.
Here's a quote from Senator Burr: "General Flynn's lawyer said he would not honor the subpoena, and that's not a surprise to many, but we will figure out on General Flynn what the next step is, if any, but we're going to continue with a lot of interviews and continue with our investigation."
Let me bring in right now my panel.
But let me start quickly with David Drucker, CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner."
David, what's your take on this? What does this mean? Burr says -- to me, that sounds like Burr says they're not cooperating.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. So, this isn't necessarily out of the ordinary that a congressional investigation to run into trouble --
BOLDUAN: I'm sorry, David, my dear. I'm going to interrupt you.
I'm going to go to the House. House Speaker Paul Ryan's press conference. Let's listen in.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: -- with National Police Week when we honor the sacrifices made by our police and their families. Yesterday, the House acted on a new round of sanctions against the Syrian regime in order to cut off resources for Assad's war machine. Also this week, the House approved landmark federal I.T. reform legislation that will reduce wasteful spending and enhance the government's information security. Will Hurd has really taken the lead on this, and he's trying to bring our government into the era of Cloud computing and this is a big, big march forward in bipartisan progress in getting waste out of government. As we speak, the Ways and Means Committee is holding a major hearing today on examining pro- growth tax reform. Pro-growth means just that, growth of wages, growth of jobs, growth of opportunity, and growth of our economy.
Also this weeks, the Education and Workforce Committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to improve career and in technical education, making it easier to connect people with the skills they need to get good-paying, in-demand jobs. I've got to tell you, wherever I go, just in Wisconsin last week, we have a real skills gap between the skills people need to get good jobs and the good jobs that are out there being offered. This is something that we really have to address, and I'm very pleased that the education workforce committee is moving forward on this legislation.
Later today, Armed Services Committee, chairman Matt Thornberry, will unveil his effort to streamline bureaucracy to improve the way we develop weapons systems. This is an essential part of our efforts to rebuild our military for the 21st century.
Ahead of Memorial Day, the Veterans Affairs Committee has approved 11 bills, including bipartisan legislation to fix the V.A.'s broken appeals process. This is a problem we've been working on tackling for years, and Undersecretary Shulkin, the V.A. is already taking better strides to get our veterans better care, shorter lines and more peace of mind. Over in the Senate, our colleagues continue to discuss the path forward on keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
And lastly, yesterday the president signed the 14th Congressional Review Act resolution to stop President Obama's last regulatory onslaught that he did last year. Up until this year, Congress had successfully just repealed one regulation under this law. Now, just this year already, we have done it 14 times in a matter of months. We have much more to do to end Washington's culture of overreach and overregulation, but this is a big promise kept, as we work to protect jobs and to grow our economy.
I know it's a long list. It is by no means complete. Every day here we are working to advance our agenda and to address the problems that Americans face in their everyday lives.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, Senator McConnell said, quote, "We could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things," saying, basically, it could undercut or hamper your agenda." Do you agree with that assessment?
RYAN: Well, yeah, it's always nice to have less drama. But the point I'm trying to make, and I tried to make this the other day at my press conference, people in the country need to know that we are busy at work trying to solve their problems. So, I realize that there's a lot in the media these days. That doesn't seize up Congress. That doesn't stop us from doing our jobs to work on people's problems. One of the reasons why I just read you the list of just what we've done this week, on closing the scale gap on streamlining I.T. to get waste out of government, make the Pentagon more efficient, get tax reform moving, these are things that really affect people in their daily lives. We're working on this. And so, I just think it's very important that people know that we can walk and chew gum at the same time.
And sure, drama is not helpful in getting things done, but we're still getting things done, and that's the important point.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A number of congressional leaders met with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, here at the capitol last night. Were you at that meeting? And what's your understanding about why DOJ took this step?
RYAN: Well, I was at the meeting. I don't comment on such meetings that are classified. As I said before, I believe that the professionals at the Justice Department need to do their jobs independently, objectively, and thoroughly, and I believe the special counsel, which is Robert Mueller now, helps them do that.
[11:40:10] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Interferes with the Congressional investigation?
RYAN: No, it doesn't, actually. So, we are going to keep these investigations going here. As I've always said, I think the Intelligence Committees are the right place to do that. This is an investigation involving Russia, involving another country interfering with our elections. And so, the Intelligence Committee, in my opinion, is the best place for that. And so, these bipartisan, bicameral investigations -- House Intelligence Committee, Senate Intelligence Committee -- are going to continue their investigations.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You didn't mention Oversight there. Do you still think Oversight should continue? And another follow-up on that. Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz has told people he would probably be leaving around June 30th for FOX. Does that present a conflict --
RYAN: I have not spoken to Jason about that, so I don't know -- he has not told me that, so I have not spoken with the chairman about that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Step aside and --
RYAN: I will find out from Chairman Chaffetz what he is doing or isn't doing, so I'm not going to comment on something that's in the media. I'd rather hear from him myself as to what his plans are.
As far as the Oversight Committee, they've made document requests. That's their duty, that's what they do. So it's perfectly appropriate that they make these document requests.
But as I said, especially with response to intelligence, that's where I think the Intelligence Committee should do their jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you. Obviously, you have been very close over the years with Vice President Pence, and you talked about him trying to continue to move this agenda. He's here often working on these issues here. But considering the maelstrom that we dealt with Trump and Russia in the last few days, there have been some members who have said we might be better with Vice President Pence. What's your take on this?
RYAN: We shouldn't even -- I'm not even going to give credence to that. I'm not even going to comment on that. That's --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (IAUDIBLE QUESTION)
RYAN: There's not even a point making a comment on that. Yeah?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does the appointment of a special counsel, you think, give you some breathing room now at least to work on this agenda?
RYAN: Well, like I said, the appointment of the special counsel I think helps assure people in the Justice Department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along. And so, I think it was perfectly appropriate to do that. In the meantime, we're going to keep doing our jobs. We're going to keep our Russia investigations going with our Intelligence Committees. And look what I just described -- energy and -- not the Energy and Commerce committee -- the Education and Workforce Committee closing the skills gap, getting the Matt Thornberry in the Armed Services Committee streamline the way the Pentagon procures weapons. Let's get Ways and Means working on tax reform. Let's fix people's problems. And all of our committees are still doing that.
So, as I said, I know that people get consumed with the news of the day, but we are here working on people's problems every day, and we have all these different committees that do different jobs, and our job is to make sure that we still make progress for the American people and we're doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But you're being asked about --
RYAN: Yeah, you want to ask about tax reform? Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, thank you. Regarding tax reform, there's some folks who think it could slip beyond this year. Where are you at this point?
RYAN: No, I don't think that's the case. Our goal, and I feel very confident we can meet this goal, is calendar year 2017 for tax reform, and I think we're making good progress.
You have a tax reform question?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I do, actually. So, Senate leader, majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has said he thinks the prospects for a border adjustment part of the plan are rather bleak, and yet, he still says it should be revenue-neutral. What are the alternatives being discussed? And is there a way that the border adjustment can either have a transition that would make it more palatable or some kind of half border adjustment?
RYAN: Yeah, so, I think you can say yes to all of the above to what you just said. What we have to do, as an old tax writer, I would say this, is you have to weigh alternatives off one another. It is obvious that you can and should have some kind of an adjustment and phase-in period if you're going to have a border adjustment. I honestly think border adjustment is the smart way to go. I think it makes the tax code the most internationally competitive of any other version we are looking at. And I think it removes all tax incentives for a firm to move overseas or to move their production overseas. But if you're not going to do border adjustment, then you have to look at the alternatives to that. There's always up sides and down sides to alternatives. That's the process we're going through right now. We're going through the process of looking at what is the best way to reform the tax code and to lower tax rates for businesses and to make the American tax system internationally competitive. Right now, it is literally one of the worst tax systems in the industrialized world. We're losing companies who are becoming foreign companies. We have an incentive that basically tells companies, outsource your manufacturing. Why on earth are we doing that?
So, we really believe -- this is, again, we're working on this, fixing people's problems, and that is why tax reform's so critical. And I do believe that there are very serious and legitimate concerns to any version of tax reform, and we're going to have to accommodate those concerns as we move to a new tax system.
[11:45:28] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, thank you. From PBS. Two questions, following up on Rachel's question. You talked about the Russia investigation, could you talk about where the questions of Mr. Trump's relationship with Mr. Comey and potential obstruction of justice issue should fall? You said you want to get the facts on that.
And then on health care, insurers are getting ready to set rates. Do you think there's any possibility that whatever comes out of aggression will affect next year, or are we already looking two years down the road?
RYAN: Well, I'll defer you to HHS on CSR payments. We have a deadline, I think Monday, if I'm not mistaken. We'll meet that deadline. We'll do a status report with the court, the House Republicans will. That issue is still unresolved. But I would have to defer you to the secretary on CSR payments.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The question of potential obstruction of justice questions?
RYAN: Oh, yeah. Look, that's what investigations are for. You now have a special counsel who will take over that portfolio within the Justice Department. I think it's appropriate. The whole point is to have an independent investigation and follow the facts wherever they may lead. It is premature to prejudge anything at this point, only that we have a process in place. We have a process in place here in Congress, and the administration now has a process in place in the Justice Department. I'll just have to leave it at that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Oversight or Intelligence here?
RYAN: I'll leave it up to the committees to determine that.
Thanks. BOLDUAN: All right, and there you have it. House Speaker Paul Ryan
in his press conference today, trying to talk about the legislative work that the House of Representatives is trying to work on, but also facing a lot of questions, of course, no surprise, on the major breaking news, of a special counsel being appointed to oversee and take over the investigation into Russian meddling in the election and any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
On special counsel, let me bring in my panel.
Margaret Hoover is with me.
Margaret, House Speaker Ryan, he says we're going to follow the facts, same message we heard from him I think just yesterday. We're going to follow the facts. It's too early to prejudge anything. Says that the special counsel helps the Justice Department do the job that they were already working on doing and investigating this. And says that it doesn't get in the way of congressional investigations that are under way. Really? You think?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know what it does?
BOLDUAN: What does it do?
HOOVER: It gets out of Paul Ryan's way. Paul Ryan got to have an entire press conference, the following 20 minutes of which he talked about only things he wants to talk about --
BOLDUAN: Tax reform --
HOOVER: That he wishes the American people were focusing on. They're not. They're focusing on the drama emanating from the White House, as he talked about, but this is, as we discussed, it is really a big gift to the members of Congress. They still hope that they can pass a Republican and a movement conservative legislative agenda, despite the president. And this will at least take the pressure cooker off of them from the constant news coming out of the White House whereby they might be able to pass a few more things out of their body.
BOLDUAN: Hold on, Mark.
I want to bring in David Drucker, since I rudely cut you off, David, in order to get to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Let me ask you this because Margaret raised this question. She says that, basically, when you look at winners and losers and where things stand now with the appointment of the special counsel, Margaret raises a good point, Congressional Republicans, they seem to be one of the winners here. They don't have to answer as many questions as they did, or they can more rightfully defer questions when they get them. Losers, is it congressional Democrats, because then they don't have this drum beat about congressional investigations and a special prosecutor to beat on all the time?
DRUCKER: Not necessarily. They still have Trump and his Twitter feed, so that's plenty to work with.
I think Margaret is right in this regard. I spoke with congressional Republicans last night right after news of the Mueller appointment broke and they were relieved. Many of them felt really glad, that this gives them an opportunity to move this at least to the side and focus more on health care reform and tax reform and things like that, because they're going to stop getting so many questions about whether or not a special counsel should be appointed and what exactly they plan to do about the fact that Trump might be compromised in this fashion, vis-a-vis. the Justice Department. So, I think a lot of Republicans feel good about this. I even asked them, what about the fact that a lot of times special prosecutors in the past, or counsels, have started going one direction but ended up in another direction and made things a whole lot worse. They weren't very concerned about that at the moment. They believe that Mueller has a lot of credibility. They think he's a straight shooter. In fact, that's what Democrats were telling me last night.
What you're going to here Democrats do now, Kate, is say that there should be a special commission or select committee in Congress that should not rely on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that are run by Republicans. So there's where Democrats are going to go next.
For now, the Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief. I don't know if should, ultimately, but that's where they are.
[11:50:20] BOLDUAN: They've been holding their breath so long they need to breath about anything.
I want to get back to some of the breaking news we were talking about before we went in to House Speaker Paul Ryan. The chair and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, they say Michael Flynn's attorneys are not working with them. They are not responding. They are not going to accommodate the subpoena they have sent over to Michael Flynn.
I think we have new sound in from Senator Richard Burr. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR, (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: General Flynn's lawyer said that he would not honor the subpoena, and that's not a surprise to the committee. But we'll figure out on General Flynn what the next step, if any, is. But we're continuing on with a lot of interviews and, through those interviews, it leads us to additional document requests and additional individuals we like to talk to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Mark, what does it mean?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First, this administration sort of feels like a never-ending law school exam question.
BOLDUAN: Are you passing or are you failing right now?
O'MARA: I don't know. That's up to everybody else. I'm just trying to answer.
My answer is, he's obviously subject to potential contempt for failing to abide by their subpoena. It means he could go to jail for up to a year. But it may be deferred because we talked about the special prosecutor.
But more important for Flynn and what he said in the march 20th, I think it was, statement, through his lawyers, he may have some legitimate concerns as to whether or not he's going to incriminate himself and he has an absolute right not to do that. Anything that is a link in the chain that could lead to incriminating him, he can protect himself by that Fifth Amendment right. And he could say to them, I'll talk but I want immunity, like he's already said, or he can sit back in response to a contempt proceeding and say, I cannot say a word because I have a Fifth Amendment right that does, in fact, override a contempt authority from Congress.
HOOVER: And it also demonstrates the limit to these congressional hearings, because even if you're held within contempt of Congress, then you have to adjudicate that. That goes through a court process. That takes time. So all of this is buying him time.
BOLDUAN: That's A great point.
Alice, I'm a million questions. I'll start with this one. One thing we're keeping an eye on is President Trump. He's going to be holding a new conference facing reporters later today. If you were in this White House, Alice Stewart, how will you be advising, let's assume he listening to your advice, how will you be advising him to handle this.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: On a side note, not to tweet anymore on this, period, end of story.
BOLDUAN: He's not listening to you, Alice.
STEWART: Exactly. But moving forward, I think he's made a statement on this. He says that as he has said in the past there is no collusion between the campaign and Russia. He needs to leave it at that. He needs to continue to say over and over that he has spoken on this. Now there is a special counsel appointed to. This, as Ryan said, let the facts lead to its conclusion and let's put it in the special counsel's hand and let them do their job. I don't think it's helpful for him to bring in allegations any criminal activity on behalf of the Clinton campaign or the Obama administration.
In terms of Russia, he needs to let that play its course and he needs to get back on offense. He needs to do what he does best and that is talk about why he was elected. Talk about what Paul Ryan says. Helping to push tax reform, working on repealing and replacing Obamacare. Doing steps to improve our education and taking away the burdensome federal regulations. Those are the things that Americans voted for him for. That's his strong suit. That's what he needs to focus on. And that's the best way he can pivot on the issues that he wants to talk about.
Reporters are still going to talk about all things Russia, but he needs to get back on offense and keep his head down in the game on what's best for him.
BOLDUAN: "Needs to" is one thing. Will he? That's absolutely a very different thing.
Matt, with all your time in Democratic politics, a couple questions. You pick whichever you want. Special counsel, good news or bad news for Democrats? Or does this restore some amount of order for Washington?
MATT BENNETT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's a great question. Watching the speaker there reminded me of watching President Clinton when I was serving in the second term of his White House, when Joe Walker (ph) would come out and read a long list of things we were doing and no one was writing things down and all of the questions were about the Lewinsky investigation. They can hope that the appointment of Mueller is going to completely change the subject for them and allow them to get back on track with their policy agenda, but, boy, it is hard. It was hard for President Clinton, who was an incredibly skilled communicator. For President Trump, without that skill, it's going to be harder still.
[11:55:02] BOLDUAN: Harder still.
Guys, stand by.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be back with more of our special coverage in just a moment.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.
Day 119 of the Trump administration is day one of a new world for the president, his team and all of Washington. A new special counselor or special prosecutor now taking over the Russia election meddling investigation. And Robert Mueller's work isn't limited to last year's campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: This is the drip system and that's why it's good to have Mueller doing what he's doing and it's important for the Congress of the United States to do what they're supposed to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: One giant question for Bob Mueller now: Did the president of the United States improperly try to shut down the investigation and did he then fire the FBI director when he refused to comply?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:00:01] COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The way the system works sometimes, particularly in the mainstream media, they want to prove you guilty before you've actually had anything. And that's what the mainstream media has tried to do to this president, is accused him of things that there's been no evidence of whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's part of Team Trump's response --