Return to Transcripts main page


GOP Hits Roadblocks; Future Biden Run; Trump Says Moore Should Concede; Trump on Putin Call; Michigan Voters Still Hopeful. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 15, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Need some kind of momentum going forward.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The issue is, and I was just talking to voters in Michigan and Kentucky, Trump voters, about this, they're really hopeful for this president. They're really hopeful for tax reform. There's nothing in this tax bill -- as we -- we haven't seen the final version but we've seen a lot of what's going into it, that is going to make a huge material difference for poor or middle income folks right away. And what I mean is the promises that this president made about it's not going to help the rich, it's going to help the middle class, it will give some relief to them, but is it going to really be life-changing enough to move the needle that much for the president?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS": Yes, there's a big disconnect between how the president is selling this bill, saying it's the biggest tax cut ever, and what is actually in the bill specially for members of his base and members of the middle class. People may see, you know, a few hundred extra dollars in their paychecks next year, but it's not going to make a huge material difference in their lives the way the president has explained it. And that could end up backfiring when people believe that people at the top end of the income spectrum and corporations are getting the bulk of this tax cut. That could lead to some of the class warfare and some of the fairness argument. And Democrats are using that to attack this bill. And it's part of the reason that the popularity of this bill is somewhere in the high 20s or low 30s. So not necessarily something that's going to help them in 2018.

HARLOW: Right. But you do have more and more folks making comparisons to the way President Obama got, you know, Obamacare through. When you do things along partisan lines, you can run into major obstacles down the road when it's all party out, how does it actually impact -- impact people.

Let's have a little fun this morning and talk about Joe Biden, and if he is going to run for 2020. My good friend, Chris Cillizza here at CNN, has a great column on it this morning and he says that Biden has made very clear, in his opinion, this week that a run for 2020 -- (INAUDIBLE) the cards he just said he should have -- he should apologize to Anita Hill for not doing more to help her when she was testifying in front of Senate Judiciary when he was part of the Senate years ago, and then he said this on "The View."


JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: If I were offered the nomination by the Lord Almighty right now, today, I would say no because we're not ready. The family's not ready to do this. If in a year from now, if they're ready and no one has moved in that I think can do it, then I may very well do it.


HARLOW: What do you think, very quickly?

PARNES: Oh, yes, he's -- I think he's running. I think he's always kind of regretted the fact that he couldn't really run in 2016, resented Hillary Clinton a little bit for kind of boxing him in. And so I think this is maybe his last chance to do that.

HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) -- I got 20 seconds. Jackie, yes, no, maybe Joe Biden?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Joe Biden very much wants to run for president. He loves running for president. He loves -- he loves being out there with the people. I don't know that he'll do it.

HARLOW: All right, thank you, guys, very much. Have a good weekend.

Jackie, Toluse, Amie, appreciate it.

Next, we're going to take you back to Michigan one year after the election to talk to the voters who helped this president do the unthinkable to many, flip this state from blue to red. Why they do not blame the president for much and point their finger at Congress instead.


HARLOW: Do you not blame President Trump at all for not being able to get any major legislation passed yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think his way of speaking to people could have a big difference on it and his way of saying, well, you're going to do this or going to do that, this is it.

HARLOW: He could do it better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe a little bit more diplomatic in his conversations and his presentations.



[09:37:42] HARLOW: President Trump is headed to Quantico, Virginia, where he will speak to law enforcement officers being trained at the FBI Academy. Before that, though, he took questions from the media. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's a shame what's happened with the FBI, but we're going to rebuild the FBI. It will be bigger and better than ever. But it is very sad when you look at those documents and how they've done that is really, really disgraceful. And you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. It's a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.

And I'm going today, on behalf of the FBI, their new building, and, you know, but when I -- when everybody -- not me, when everybody, the level of anger at what they've been witnessing with respect to the FBI, it's certainly very sad.




TRUMP: I think he should. He tried. I want support always -- I want to support the person running. We need the seat. We'd like to have the seat. I think we're doing very well on the tax. We'll see what happens. But I think we're doing very well. It's something that's going to be monumental. It will be the biggest tax decrease or tax cut in the history of our country. But as far as Roy Moore, yes, it's -- it certainly -- I would certainly say (INAUDIBLE).


TRUMP: You'll have to make that determination. We're hoping for a very -- let's put it this way, there is absolutely no collusion. That has been proven. When you look at the committees, whether it's the Senate or the House, everybody -- my worse enemies, they walk out, they say, there is no collusion, but we'll continue to look.

They're spending millions and millions of dollars. There is absolutely no collusion. I didn't make a phone call to Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. Everybody knows it. That was a Democrat hope. It was an excuse for losing the election. And it should have never been this way where they spent all these millions of dollars.

So now even the Democrats admit there's no collusion. There is no collusion. That's it. And we've got to get back to running a country.

What we have found and what they have found after looking at this, really, scam, is they found tremendous -- whatever you want to call it, you're going to have to make up your own determination, but they found tremendous things on the other side. When you look at the Hillary Clinton investigation, it was -- you know, I've been saying it for a long time, that was a rigged system, folks. That was a rigged system. When you look at what they did with respect to the Hillary Clinton investigation, it was rigged and there's never been anything like it in this country that we've ever found before. It's very, very sad. Very sad. (INAUDIBLE)

[09:40:46] TRUMP: What else is there? You know the answer. How many times has that question been asked?

Yes, go ahead.


QUESTION: No, no, no, but can I ask you --


TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Have you seen the final tax bill?

TRUMP: I have. I have seen it. I think it's going to do very, very well. I think that we are going to be in a position to pass something as early as next week, which will be monumental.


TRUMP: I think they'll be great. They're great people. They want to see it done. I know them very well. I know how they feel. These are great people and they want to see it done and they want to see it done properly.

Go ahead.


TRUMP: Say it?


TRUMP: Well, we're going to see what happens with North Korea. We have a lot of support. There are a lot of nations that agree with us. Almost everybody. We can't let that happen. And we're going to see what happens with North Korea. We hope it works out.


TRUMP: Yes, I think we will. I think we will. The child tax credit, just so you understand, the Democrats have done nothing in terms of children, in terms of child tax credit. We're putting in a tremendous child tax credit and it is increasing on a daily basis.

QUESTION: The call with Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: It was great. He said very nice things about what I've done for this country in terms of the economy. Then he said also some negative things in terms of what's going on elsewhere. But the primary point was to talk about North Korea, because we would love to have his help on North Korea. China's helping. Russia's not helping. We'd like to have Russia's help. Very important. QUESTION: Ask you about Michael -- about Michael Flynn. Would you

consider a pardon for Michael Flynn?

TRUMP: I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We'll see what happens. Let's see. I can say this, when you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.


HARLOW: Well, there are a host of headlines from the president this morning as he heads to Marine One and speaks to law enforcement officers.

You just heard at the end there when asked, will he pardon Michael Flynn, who has admitted to laying to the FBI, he said I don't want to talk about pardons right now, I don't want to talk about Michael Flynn. There's one of your big headline.

Also he talked to the FBI, when he heads to Quantico right now, and said we will be -- rebuild the FBI. It is a shame what happened.

He predicted the tax bill will pass early next week.

And he also talked about the call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he had very nice things to say about me and the economy, but also some negative things, saying the call was mostly about North Korea.

Joe Johns is at the White House. Our Jackie Kucinich is back with us.

Joe, what stands out to you most?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the one thing you did not mention there is that he was asked if he thought Roy Moore, in the Senate race in Alabama, ought to concede, and the president said, yes, he thought Roy Moore should concede. Of course, Moore has been holding out despite the fact that it definitely appears that he has lost the race there.

But I think you got the other things. Very interesting, I believe, that bit of talk there about the call that the president made to Vladimir Putin to thank him for the kind words Putin had about the economy, also saying Putin had some negative words to say about some other things, though he didn't specific. And also said, we need the help of Russia on North Korea.

So I think those are the big headlines there.

The other thing, and we have to talk about this one more time, is the president is headed out to Quantico to address state and local law enforcement managers who are graduating from the FBI National Academy. The president at the top was asked about the FBI and he said now that the documents are a disgraceful and sad thing to watch and they anger everybody, apparently referring to text messaged between a couple agents that were discovered disparaging the president. Those two agents were removed or reassigned by Robert Mueller, who's heading up the Russia investigation.

[09:45:08] But it's a continuing controversy on Capitol Hill, here at the White House as well, as the administration and many Republicans continue to disparage of FBI. It's been met with a great deal of pushback from Christopher Wray, the new director of the FBI, hand- picked by the president, as well as the head of the FBI Agent's Association. That, of course, is a group that's almost invisible and makes just about no public statements. They did make a statement defending the agents of the FBI.

Back to you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Joe Johns at the White House, thank you.

And, Jackie, to you.

You know, it was interesting to hear the president say some of the things Vladimir Putin told him were negative. There is reporting out that Putin has said recently this week that the U.S. approach to the North Korea situation is counterproductive. So the U.S. needs Russia on this but Russia's not on the same page on this one, clearly as the president just pretty said.

KUCINICH: Well, right. And the president does clearly still try to -- is viewing Vladimir Putin as a potential ally when it comes to North Korea. And you -- but this has been so interesting, because you've seen Rex Tillerson trying to go one way on North Korea and the president going a completely other way on North Korea, which is why Rex -- one of the many reasons Rex Tillerson is having such a tough time in that post.

But I also just wanted to comment really quickly on something the president said about the FBI. He said he -- at one point he said, this isn't about me. Of course this is about him. Of course this is about the Russia investigation. It's about what he thinks Bob -- the mistakes he thinks Bob Mueller is making and how he thinks that this is all about whether he colluded with Russia.

It's broader than that. We know it's broader than that. It's always been a broader investigation than that. It's about Russian meddling in the U.S. election. So that -- that point -- and also the word "yet" at the end of that Michael Flynn, I'm not talking about pardons yet, I thought was quite interesting.

HARLOW: Yes, no direct answer to that one.


HARLOW: And he said absolutely no collusion. Even my worst enemies say there is no collusion. Not exactly what they say as they're investigating.

KUCINICH: Not -- not exactly. HARLOW: Jackie Kucinich, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

KUCINICH: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: A quick break. We'll be right back.


[09:50:24] HARLOW: President Trump may be days away from signing historic tax reform into law, maybe, if he can get the votes. When we went back to Michigan one year after the election to talk to the voters there that helped Trump flip that state from blue to red, many told us they were banking on his tax reform promise.

And what about the president's other promises to them that have not been fulfilled? Well, they have an explanation for that as well. Look.


HARLOW (voice-over): In a stunning election upset, President Trump did what no Republican candidate has done for decades, he flipped Michigan from blue to red, helping him synch the 2016 election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Trump has done a great job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has done a very good job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the face of tremendous opposition.

HARLOW: These are the voters who helped President Trump flip Michigan. We met them here just days after President Trump took office.

We came back, nearly a year later, to find out how they think he's done.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An "A" for effort.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A "B" for accomplishment.



HARLOW (on camera): An "A"?


HARLOW (voice-over): Bill Decker owns Lily Ann Cabinets, a sprawling factory in Adrian, Michigan, about an hour and a half drive southwest of Detroit. Decker is very happy with what he says the president has done for his business.

DECKER: We're growing 25 to 30 percent. So everything here is well.

HARLOW (on camera): So you say President Trump gets the bulk of the credit?

DECKER: I would -- personally I would say 99 percent. We doubled down.

HARLOW (voice-over): Doubled down despite major concerns about Trump's threat at the time of tariffs on Chinese goods. Decker imports all of these cabinets from China.

HARLOW (on camera): You're saying a big reason you can't make these cabinets here, start to finish, is because of all the regulations?

DECKER: Yes, the regulations are both federal and state regulations.

HARLOW: And so when the president talks about less regulation, less regulation, less regulation, you're sitting over here saying, I want that, but you don't have that yet in your business?

DECKER: No, we don't. And I think it's going to take time.

HARLOW: You are concerned, is it fair to say, about the president's stance on immigration for your business?



DECKER: A third of the population in Adrian is of Mexican/Hispanic workforces.

HARLOW: You mean fewer immigrants in this country, worse for your business?

DECKER: Worse. Far worse.

HARLOW (voice-over): Decker, like everyone we met here, recognizes the president hasn't achieved many of his major legislative promises yet, no wall, no Obamacare repeal or infrastructure plan yet. But most don't blame him.

HARLOW (on camera): Is there anything the president could do that would lose your support?

DECKER: Strange as this is going to sound, I don't think that's possible.

HARLOW: Since NAFTA was signed in the early '90s, Michigan alone has lost more than a quarter of its manufacturing jobs. And the promise you heard from the president so much on the campaign trail was that he would bring those jobs back. So far, in the last year, though, manufacturing jobs in this state have barely budged.

HARLOW (voice-over): But across the country, a different story. More than 170,000 manufacturing jobs have been added so far this year, compared with the loss of 34,000 over the same period last year. HARLOW (on camera): You called NAFTA a shakedown.


HARLOW: Of America.

MOCERI: It was.

HARLOW (voice-over): But for Sal Moceri, a nearly lifelong autoworker at Ford and an immigrant from Sicily, some of the president's promises have come up short.

HARLOW (on camera): What grade do you give the president?

MOCERI: Well, right now, I would just give him a "C."

HARLOW: What do you think the president could do to get a higher grade in your book?

MOCERI: Everybody's waiting on the taxes.

HARLOW: It is tax reform for you number one now?

MOCERI: Numero uno.

HARLOW: If tax reform does not happen, does he get your vote in 2020?

MOCERI: No. Simple as that.

HARLOW (voice-over): Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate Sal has voted for, after casting his ballot twice for President Obama. Now, it's the division he's seeing that brings him to tears.

HARLOW (on camera): This is really personal for you. I mean you bring up your kids?

MOCERI: I'm afraid. OK. They're not going to have a pension. They're not -- they're going to be depending on a government for assistance for medical, OK. You want your child to be dependent on that? No. You want them to be free and have a future.

It's called the human race, not the Republican or Democrat. It's called HR.

R. EDWARDS: I think President Trump has done a very good job considering the fact that he's had very little, if no cooperation from Congress.

D. EDWARDS: I think he's done well considering the level of pressure to literally have half of a country so against you.

[09:55:09] HARLOW: But didn't President Obama face that same challenge?

D. EDWARDS: No, I don't -- I think -- you're always going to have those sections that we're not going to support Obama no matter what.

HARLOW: Mitch McConnell said, you know, we're going to make him a one- term president.

D. EDWARDS: Well, Mitch needs to retire.

HARLOW: Not a Mitch McConnell fan?


D. EDWARDS: I think that he -- Mitch McConnell serves a different agenda. I don't think he serves an agenda that's for America.

HARLOW: Where's the wall?

R. EDWARDS:: Well, the wall is going to come. We cannot blame Trump if the wall does not get built because you do have the globalists, like a Mitch McConnell and many others --

D. EDWARDS: And John McCain.

R. EDWARDS: And McCain and many others who do not like Trump and are willing to put our nation at risk, our sovereignty, and not have the wall just because they have a personal vendetta against Trump?

HARLOW: You really think that?

R. EDWARDS: Oh, I know that.

HARLOW: Despite the praise we're hearing for the president from these Michigan voters, there's almost universal disappointment about health care reform. Repealing and replacing Obamacare was a signature promise of this president.

HARLOW (voice-over): Ricky Quinn says his health care costs are too high.

RICKY QUINN, SECURITY GUARD: About $600 a month. That's what they take out of my pension check.

HARLOW (on camera): For you and your wife?

QUINN: Yes. The health care is actually a lot more than that because we pay a ton of stuff out of pocket.

HARLOW (voice-over): He's gone from making $40 an hour as an autoworker just a few years ago, to $14 an hour now working as a security guard. It's the best job he can find at this point, he says.

HARLOW (on camera): You were counting on the president to get health care reform through?

QUINN: Yes, I believe that it should have gotten through. I know it's going to sound like I'm just a 100 percent Trump guy, but that's not the case. I really don't think it was his fault.

HARLOW: He said, Ricky, day one --

QUINN: He did. That's absolutely right.

HARLOW: It will be so easy. And?

QUINN: I think he's tried as hard as he can, but when you've got people fighting you like that, I really don't feel like he felt it was going to be that hard to do and I still think he's going to get it done.

HARLOW: So does a fix to health care mean throw out Obamacare or work to fix some parts of it?

QUINN: It depends. I think you pretty much have to throw almost all of it out. Some of the big things like preexisting conditions need to stay. But as far as forcing people to buy insurance, I think that's where you're off (ph).

HARLOW (voice-over): Peggy and Jim Stewart have been married for 12 years, but they don't share the same politics. Peggy voted for President Trump. Jim did not. Both have been hoping for higher wages.

PEGGY STEWART, SECURITY GUARD: I still think he's staying with the agenda and the promises that he gave to us during the campaign, but the fight against him is just unsurmountable. I never seen any president be so disrespected and fought against as hard as he is.

HARLOW: So what did Peggy and Jim get? So far their salary hasn't increased. Their health care hasn't changed.

STEWART: They got a man with a spine. That's what I wanted. A man that can think on his own two feet. That's what I like and that's what we're getting.

HARLOW (on camera): Do you not blame President Trump at all for not being able to get any major legislation passed yet?

STEWART: Well, I think his way of speaking to people could have a big difference on it. And his way of saying, well, you're going to do this, you're going to do that, this is it.

HARLOW: He could do it better?

STEWART: Maybe a little bit more diplomatic in his conversations and his presentations.

HARLOW (voice-over): After voting for President Obama twice, Peggy saw hope in President Trump, but she doesn't want all that he's selling.

HARLOW (on camera): Do you want President Trump to repeal and replace Obamacare?

STEWART: Maybe parts of it.

HARLOW: Not all of it?

STEWART: I do believe there should be a universal medical.

HARLOW: You want universal health care?

STEWART: Health care.

HARLOW: That's a very liberal position.

STEWART: Well, there's other country doings it and successfully.

HARLOW: Is there anything the president could do to lose your vote?

STEWART: Have bona fide proof that he has allowed Russia to come in and interfere with the election so that he would win against Hillary. That would very well upset me. I'd feel stupid after that.

HARLOW (voice-over): One thing just about all of these voters would like to see is the president breakup with Twitter.

MOCERI: He's -- please stop tweeting. Please.

HARLOW (on camera): Do his tweets hurt him?

DECKER: I believe they do.

STEWART: And he's tweeting about it. I'm like, why did you even answer that. Come on, Mr. President, I know your mind is busier than that. But he's himself. And he's different. And I kind of like it that he's different. But I wish he would just not do the playground stuff.

HARLOW (voice-over): They may not like those tweets, but they haven't cost the president the support of many of his voters here who feel like he's trying for them, if not succeeding for them yet.


HARLOW: My thanks to all of the folks in Michigan for talking to us. And we will keep you posted on what they have to say.

All right, we have a lot ahead this Friday morning. Let's get right to it.

Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

[10:00:00] News is breaking live in Quantico, Virginia, on your left. And then on your right, U.N. headquarters in New York because some major speeches there today.

President Trump is headed to Quantico right now. He's about to address a graduating class at the FBI National Academy.