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Trump Addresses Reporters; Deal with Democrats; Trump to Survey Irma Damage. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired September 14, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) so that it doesn't happen in the future.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, they're doing a great job on power. They're doing a great job. Historically, there's never been anything like this. But the United States Coast Guard, FEMA, working along with Governor Scott, they've really done an amazing job. And power is being turned on rapidly. The power companies, we have the largest assemblage of human beings ever in one area for power, and rapidly it's being turned on. So we're very happy with that.
TRUMP: The wall will come later. We're right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand-new. We're doing a lot of renovations. We're building four different samples of the wall to see which one we're going to choose. And the wall is going to be built. It will be funded a little bit later.
QUESTION: Back to Florida real quick.
TRUMP: Well, we want to get massive border security, and I think that both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, I think they agree with it. But, you know, we met last night with, as you know, Schumer, Pelosi and a whole group. And I think we're fairly close, but we have to get massive border security.
TRUMP: Oh, I think he's on board. Yes, Mitch is on board. Paul Ryan's on board. We all feel -- look, 92 percent of the people agree on DACA. But what we want is we want very, very powerful border security. OK? We're going down to Florida. We'll see you in Florida.
TRUMP: Ryan and McConnell agree with us on DACA. We're very much -- we're very much onboard. I spoke to them, yes.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, that was really helpful.
Let me bring back Matt Schlapp and Simone Sanders. Matt, there I believe that he clarified some things. He wants massive
border security, but it is not -- he's departing now, heading to Florida, obviously to see the aftermath there. These are the live -- these are live pictures -- the aftermath of Irma there in Florida. So he's waving good-bye.
And over these live pictures, Matt, he -- he is threading this needle.
MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes.
CAMEROTA: He is saying massive border security, but that is different and you know it to conservatives than the promise of a new, big wall.
SCHLAPP: Yes, well, let me just say, Alisyn, I think his tweet was accurate, that there's no question that he is talking about a deal with congressional leaders, including the Democratic leaders, but they don't have a deal yet. If the deal is as you describe, which is all the DACA folks here who were given special status, temporarily status by Barack Obama, if they all get to stay and get permanent legal status, I do think there's going to be great concern over that and I think that could hit some rocks with certainly conservatives in Congress.
But I actually want to look at this a little bit differently.
SCHLAPP: Which is, on DACA, once again, Barack Obama only gave them a two-year period of time. Hillary Clinton said they wouldn't get permanent status. I think you actually have to delve down into this community of people and they go into different categories. And I think it would be a mistake to give blanket amnesty to all those who are here. But I am open to having the legal status for sections of these folks.
CAMEROTA: OK, Simone, I'm so sorry to short change you, but we have more breaking news because joining us on the phone is Congressman Steve King of Iowa and we want to get to him right now.
Good morning, congressman.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA (via telephone): Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: What did you just hear the president say?
KING: Well, you know, you have to interpret what you hear him say. And, you know, wanting a larger, or a larger massive border security deal, that doesn't address domestic enforcement. It doesn't really even tell us what the border security might be. And if we don't build a wall all the way through, then the rest of it is subject to prosecutorial discretion, his, as was under Barack Obama, to the next president.
So I think something is going to have to get reversed here with this president's policy or it will just blow up his base. I mean this was a straight up promise all the way through his campaign. And -- and I might add that I've told the president that I market tested his immigration policy for 14 years and we spent a lot of time in Iowa having those debates and discussions and then across New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond. I don't think it's unclear to anybody what those campaign promises were, but it looks to me like he's preparing to keep Hillary Clinton's promise rather than his own.
CAMEROTA: Here's what the president says about that wall in a tweet this morning, congressman. The wall, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls will continue to be built.
Was that your understanding of what a wall means?
KING: Well, not at all. I mean it sounds like, you know, I had an old jalopy and I was going to buy you a new car, but now I'm going to overhaul the jalopy. No, that was a -- it was a wall. It was a wall all the way. And people are trying to redefine that term wall and say it's a virtual wall, it's vibration sensors, it's drones, it's balloon (ph) or it's a fence. A wall is a wall and the American people know that.
[08:35:14] And, by the way, it is cheap to build a wall in comparison to the good we get out of it. And we need it for a lot of reasons.
And, on top of that, you know, I've drilled into this with the administration and I've been trying to identify whoever the -- who the walls are under the Trump administration. I can't find that person. I sat down with General Kelly before he moved to the chief of staff and I got some referrals and some answers and I think he's a tremendous great American, but I didn't get insight into the wall. And the thing we need --
CAMEROTA: But just so I understand, meaning, you've tried to identify who in the administration is for the wall or against the wall or both?
KING: I'm trying to identify who President Trump's individual or individuals are who actually have a plan and a strategy that they can explain to me. I haven't found any --
CAMEROTA: Ah, and you've not found one?
KING: Pardon me?
CAMEROTA: And you've not found one of those people?
KING: I've not. I've not found one. And I've drilled deeply. And I've had promises that they would come to me and I can't get those answers. So, you know, I want to see the plans. I want to see what plans have been approved. They had competition between multiple contractors. They approved a small number of contractors to build prototypes, and this thing is stalled because somebody complained is what -- the best I know.
But I've not looked anybody in the eye that is part of the administration that can say, here's what we're doing, here's our plan, here's the progress so far and here is the proposal that has come forward. They don't have -- one person doesn't have that in their head. There is no commander of the wall. And I don't know how it gets done if you're going to trust a committee that's not -- that's just not cohesive and don't seem to know what each other are doing.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, what do you think of the president hatching these deals with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi?
KING: Well, first, I think it's appropriate for a president to speak with the leaders of both parties. That's -- that's fine and it should happen. I do think that maybe Nancy Pelosi hijacked the message a little bit and the president has to walk it back. I'll bet that's what's going on to a degree.
And that's why I said it's unbelievable --
CAMEROTA: But, I mean, but hold on a second, in terms of the message, because the president -- you just heard him speak there. I mean he, once again, reiterated that he wants some sort of solution for the 800,000 dreamers that he just said again, through no fault of their own was brought here. So it doesn't sound like -- I mean this is -- these are his words. He's tweeted as much this morning. So it doesn't sound like he's following Nancy Pelosi's lead. I mean this is how he feels.
KING: Well, and they did walk it back somewhat. I can see your point, Alisyn, on that. And he also said that he and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell agree on dreamers and 92 percent agree on that. I think that's his favorite number. I remember him using that number also when we were discussing the health care issue on a totally different thing. So, no, I don't think 92 percent agree on this at all. I'd say about 80 percent of his base agree with me, that we cannot reward lawbreakers. If we do that, then we get more lawbreakers.
And here's the irony out here is that in '86, Ronald Reagan led with amnesty. And in about 2006, Bush 43 led with amnesty. The Obama administration and the gang of eight led with amnesty in 2013. Every one of those initiatives failed because the American people know, we need enforcement. And if you give amnesty first with the promise of enforcement second, you got what Bush 41 got when he said no new taxes, read my lips. He got the taxes and not the spending cuts.
You've got to have the important things upfront and then have the honor to follow-through if you're going to make the deal if amnesty comes later. That doesn't come from me. I've worked for 30 years to restore the respect for the rule of law, especially with regard to immigration. And we were on the cusp of doing that until the Trump announcement the other day on DACA, and now it looks to me like things are going downhill pretty fast and we'd better put it back together or the Republicans will be done in 2018 and 2020.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, what does this mean for the Republican Party? If the president protect the dreamers or has a deal with Pelosi and Schumer to protect the dreamers and the wall that he promised really is refurbishing old fences?
KING: Well, what it -- what it means is that the base will leave him. They won't be able to defend him anymore. And, you know, I'm -- I mean I feel that, ringing back to me, there's a strong message -- and I'm talking about my constituents in Iowa who will say, you need to be behind Trump.
I am. I support his entire agenda. The planks for the platform, I was part of putting them together. Even though I was Cruz' national co- chairman, when Cruz dropped out, I transitioned over to Trump and I've been a solid Trump supporter all along.
And I'll say today, I support Donald Trump's campaign agenda. I support the agenda that he had when he was sworn into office and I support almost every piece of the reset of his agenda, except this amnesty piece that's being dangled out in front of America right now.
[08:40:04] And that's so destructive to a first world country. If you do not have the rule of law or respect for that law, then the people that are writing our immigration laws are the people that are breaking them. And we had a -- we had a protest the day before yesterday here in the capital, dreamers coming up demanding that we give them amnesty. Well, what do law breakers have -- what right do they have to make demands of the dually-elected officials from the citizens of the United States of America? They should -- if anything, they out to be at least pleading for it, not demanding it.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, what does this mean, though, for the Republican Party? We've heard it described in some quarters as possible civil war. If you feel as adamantly as you're describing, but yet Mitch McConnell and Speaker Ryan are going to go along with whatever deal comes up, what does that mean for the future of the Republican Party?
KING: Well, I hope that we can somehow walk through this without another -- without another change in leadership in the way that it took place with John Boehner. But I would remind people that, you know, John Boehner understood in 2013 that if he brought amnesty to the floor of the House of Representatives, that that would be the end of his speakership. And he didn't bring it to the floor, I believe primarily for that reason. He still lost his speakership over that kind of leadership.
And so at this point there is the personal loyalty towards Paul Ryan. I sat and talked with him yesterday. I like him. I respect him. His word's been good to me. But this is a precarious place to force-feed amnesty when all of history says that's a classical mistake.
I would ask people, talk to Ed Meese III, our former attorney general under Ronald Reagan. He was there when they encouraged Reagan to sign amnesty. He regrets they did. And Reagan regretted his signature because the American people do have a love and respect for the rule of law. And I've said that, you know, I've -- there are a number of the dreamers I like a lot. There's one that I would adopt to keep that individual in the United States if that was what would be their -- a good move. But I like him a lot. But I love the rule of law. And we can't have both a reward for law breakers and the rule of law. They're contradictory to each other. They're incompatible. They're oil and water. And a civilized nation has to embrace the rule of law. And, by the way, every other country in the world wouldn't be having a decision on whether they were going to grant amnesty. And I don't know this got into the heads of the American people as deeply as it did. Yes, there are young people that have been brought in here by their parents due to no fault of their own. And, yes, they're good people. And I know a fair number of them. I live in the middle of a very highly -- a very high concentrations of minority populations, just north and south of me. So I'm not out of connection with this at all.
KING: But there are also many that came in at age 14, 15, 16 and 17. And we know that -- I mean, I've been there to watch as they came across the border smuggling drugs into America. And there's not a distinction between the kids I've described in the secondary component of this and the first component of it with regard to DACA law.
CAMEROTA: But, wait a second, I mean you're saying there's no -- it's always tough when you make these statements because you're saying there's no distinction between the drug smugglers and the kids who were brought here by no fault of their own as miners. I mean of course that's what you're saying.
KING: But, Alisyn -- Alisyn, I'm saying that no distinction within the DACA language that's out there. They don't differentiate between them. I say --
CAMEROTA: But they've already said that the criminals -- that criminals will be deported. I mean that is the policy.
KING: Yes. But, you know, every one of them -- technically every one of them is a criminal. So their language is -- you know, it is -- I don't know if it's intended to obfuscate this issue, but whoever crossed the border illegally is -- if they -- you know, they, of course, need to be found guilty of it. But whoever is -- whoever crossed the border illegally has committed the crime of unlawful entry.
CAMEROTA: But, congressman, here's what I want to ask you. If you no longer support -- if the president did make this deal and then you no longer support his agenda -- and this morning we're seeing headlines on Breitbart that are quite critical of any possible deal like this, we're seeing Ann Coulter tweet about this, we're seeing Sean Hannity -- what does that mean for the president if he loses you -- all of you, his most stalwart base?
KING: Well, Alisyn, you know, from -- all of this for me is, it's never been personal. I have supported the president's agenda and I've been a -- I'll say a significant part in helping to put those planks into our platform all along, clear back in Iowa and throughout. So if this thing collapses and they -- and they rollover the top of me with amnesty and the rule of law is destroyed and my life's work is tossed over to the side, all the rest of that agenda that I believe in, I'm going to work to try to get passed anyway and the best way we can.
CAMEROTA: So -- KING: Because that's what it means to me.
CAMEROTA: I hear you.
KING: So I don't think --
CAMEROTA: So, specifically, what would that be? You would work against the president? How would -- what would that look like?
KING: Well, I want the full 100 percent repeal of Obamacare and there are some fixes I'd like to put in place in the aftermath of that. I want tax reforms. And I want to have corporate income tax relief. I want to have repatriation of the trillions of dollars that are stranded overseas because of tax limitations. I want to -- I want to address the death tax.
[08:45:16] These are -- these are components along the way that I'm -- that I'm absolutely for. I mean it's my legislation that is sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk that is the tort reform for medical malpractice. There are many, many things that we agree on. And the deregulation that he's been aggressive on.
So, you know, I just have to come to grips with, this is frustrating. Maybe we can save it. Whether we can or whether we can't, all of us should be working for the best agenda that we believe in. And we can't -- we can't be deciding we're against somebody because we disagree with them or disagree with a move they make. We've got to be for the agenda we believe in and against the agenda we oppose. And somehow the hand of God might steer us in the right direction.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Steve King, we appreciate you coming in and responding to all of the breaking news this morning. We appreciate you calling in. Thanks so much for your perspective on this.
KING: I thank you, Alisyn. Appreciate it too.
CAMEROTA: OK, let's bring in Dana Bash. She has been monitoring this conversation and all of the breaking news this morning.
So, Congressman Steve King is always candid about and where his position and where he stands versus other politicians. And you hear I mean what he just ended there with, how disappointed that he is in what appears to be unfolding this morning.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very disappointed. No question. He made that abundantly clear.
But I thought that your question about, what are the consequences, and his answer, which I'm summing it up, not much, is very telling. And I think that is a very strong signal to the president and to the people around him that, yes, he's going to get a lot of guff, which he already is, if he does this deal, but at the end of the day, they are in agreement with a lot of the members of their base on a lot of other issues.
And for someone like Steve King, who is probably the most ardent opponent of giving any kind of legal status to anybody who came here in an undocumented way, as you just heard him express, to say, you know what, I'll be disappointed, but I'm going to still work with him on other things, is very interesting.
CAMEROTA: Because -- yes.
BASH: It means that he's -- he's accepting losing this battle but still standing behind, you know, the general, the president, in other battles in the bigger war.
CAMEROTA: Because he has other agenda items. Right, that he wants.
CAMEROTA: But is that what you heard him say? Does Steve King, on some level, and the Ann Coulter's of the world know that what can they do if the president has hashed a deal with Democrats --
CAMEROTA: And moderate Republicans would go along, then they have the numbers.
BASH: Right. They have the numbers. And they know that. and that's the whole reason that the president -- no, let me just say, I'm not saying that I believe that the -- that this is a broad, grand strategy. I think that it's probably more likely that this is the president's impulse. He got some kudos for dealing the deal and he felt good about an accomplishment on the -- with the debt and that -- and that this is something that he does know that he has to do, probably been told, without the Republican leaders, because they need to save face on this and it will be easier to get through.
But, at the end of the day, it is -- I don't know where Steve King got the 92 percent poll number, with (ph) saying that it's that popular --
CAMEROTA: Well, he was -- he -- yes.
BASH: But he -- the latest poll I saw was a Pew poll from earlier this year, which is 72 percent. It's still a very, very popular notion to allow people who came here as children, through no fault of their own, to stay.
CAMEROTA: To allow the dreamers to stay.
BASH: He's right about that. And the president knows that. It is a very popular notion.
CAMEROTA: But not with the president's base. I mean that would be --
BASH: Despite the president's (INAUDIBLE). And he gets it.
CAMEROTA: But, also, it was interesting to hear Steve King say that's not -- when the president today, just now, when we just heard him leaving on Air Force One saying that -- he was going to Florida --
CAMEROTA: Say it's going to be massive border security.
CAMEROTA: That's what he kept saying, massive border security. That is different than what his promise was of a big, beautiful wall and Steve King is calling that out.
CAMEROTA: No question. And I just want to say that, according to a pool report that -- as we were talking we just got on our e-mails, the president, as he was making his way to Marine One, or maybe it was Air Force One, he was -- he was talking to reporters who were screaming questions at him about the wall. He says, the wall will come later. The wall is going to be built. It will be funded a little later. That is exactly saying, we're going to do a deal on border security and the wall's not part of it. That's what he's saying.
CAMEROTA: OK. There you go.
Dana, it's been great to have you walk us through all of this, this morning.
BASH: Me too. Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for being here.
Obviously another big story is happening in Florida. That's where the president is headed today in the aftermath of Irma. And that's where Chris has been all week.
[08:49:50] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And all of these issues will follow him to Florida because they're relevant and certainly this is the most relevant place in the country when it comes to Hurricane Irma. The president is coming here to survey the damage. We've got the mayor of Naples and we have a Florida congressman. What they want to tell the president what they need here, next.
CUOMO: All right, the president has himself in the center of another political storm. But he is on his way to Florida to deal with the real storm, the impact of Hurricane Irma. What's he going to see? What does he need to hear? Joining us now, Republican Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida, and the mayor of Naples, Bill Barnett.
MAYOR BILL BARNETT, NAPLES, FLORIDA: Thank you.
REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: Chris, thank you for having us on.
CUOMO: It's good -- sorry I have to meet you in this time of need, but it is good to have you.
BARNETT: Thank you.
CUOMO: Congressman, when the president comes, Ft. Meyers, Naples, what do you -- what does he need to see, what does he need to understand?
ROONEY: He needs to see the people here and feel the pain and the disruption that we're suffering. And so that it's a personal experience for him, just like he did in Texas. I thought he did a great job there and I'm hoping he will convey that same empathy and interest in helping us when he comes here today.
CUOMO: You've seen administrations past. How do you feel about what you're seeing so far and what it signals to you in terms of what may be to come down the line for Florida?
ROONEY: Well, I think what he did in -- at -- in Texas was really good and I hope he will do the same thing.
CUOMO: But he got some heat for it. You feel that criticism was unjustified?
ROONEY: I do. I think he conveyed a lot of empathy. He conveyed a lot of concern and action. He displayed action. I think he's got a good FEMA director. Mr. Brock seems to know what he's doing. I've talked to him on the phone. So I'm going to be encouraged that we're going to get the help that we need to rebuild our community.
CUOMO: So because it's not that you need his heart, but you need to see his heart to understand where his head will be down the line. What do people need to understand about what the needs will be here, three, six, nine, 15 months out?
ROONEY: Well, I think the mayor's going to probably address this, too, but people need to be patient and understand that with all the goodwill and efforts, it takes time to rebuild a community like this. We have to start with the most important things, power, life safety, water, sewer, et cetera, and then work down towards the other things.
[08:55:02] CUOMO: How do you keep it clear of politics like what we saw in Sandy?
ROONEY: I hope we don't go through political machinations that hold up approving money to take care of Texas and Florida. These are state- wide disasters.
CUOMO: Mr. Mayor, last time I was here, my team and I got crushed by 140-mile-an-hour gust of wind, which was a record for the storm. Meaningless kind of history that you won't want to make. The place looks very different just a few days later. How are you doing?
BARNETT: We're doing OK. You know, we had a great preparation plan and a great after hurricane preparation plan, and it's working. But, you know, as the congressman said, we -- we want to -- we just don't want to hear the words, Chris, we want to see the action. I was with Director Brock yesterday, FEMA. They said a lot of good things, but show me. Show me. Show me.
CUOMO: And while I have you, on a scope of national issues that are going to follow the president down here, it's a wall, it's fixing the fence, no, it's a new, big wall, no, it's a fence. I mean it just sounds like BS, especially to the people down here when they're dealing with what they're dealing with. What's your position on this about whether or not the president promised a big, new wall, like "Game of Thrones," or whether or not they're just going to do remediation and fix what's already there?
ROONEY: Well, I think border security is an essential element of sovereignty and we're not doing that good a job of protecting our borders. But the biggest problems, the visa system that's not enforceable. Do you know, almost half the people that are in this country illegally came on a legal visa and overstayed that.
CUOMO: At a minimum, but people don't want to hear that. They want to hear --
ROONEY: But that's the big deal.
CUOMO: Build a huge wall and we'll be safe.
CUOMO: Is that the answer?
ROONEY: There are -- look, I have business all along the Rio Grande and almost half of the border crossings -- illegal border crossings occur west of Brownsville, Matamoris (ph), and there are areas where the Rio Grande is very narrow and a wall might actually help. There are areas in Arizona and New Mexico where the wall could be higher. But, overall, we need a comprehensive, technological and surveillance strategy to stop illegal immigration.
CUOMO: Congressman, thank you very much, to talk about the acute need and the bigger issue.
ROONEY: Thank you, Chris. Thank you.
CUOMO: Mr. Mayor, the best to you here and thanks for welcoming us.
BARNETT: Thanks. Chris, Thank you. Thank you for being here.
CUOMO: The pleasure is ours.
All right, there are big issues that are following the president of the United States down to Florida. Will he see the need? Will he respond?
CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman is going to pick up CNN's team coverage right after this break.
Please, stay with CNN.