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Trump to Speak at FBI National Academy; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired December 15, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- he wants more generous child tax credit. Mike Lee, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, all still TBDs. Then you have, of course, Bob Corker. They've never really relied on his support. He voted against it the first time. He says look, I still have the same concerns I always have. So this little last-minute scramble so important in these few hours this morning. They need to make sure, Republican leaders, they have their ducks in the row before they lock in that legislative text. They will unveil later it today, potentially vote on it next week -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And the president sounded pretty confident today heading to Marine One, that they're going to get this thing through. We will see.
Sunlen, thank you.
Dana Bash is with me from Washington.
For people who don't know your gambling habits, Dana, like I do.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Which is pathetic.
HARLOW: From our late nights at the casino -- not really. You know, if you're a betting woman are you putting money on this getting through or not?
BASH: You know what, if somebody forced me to bet I would bet yes, but as I put my money down I would be prepared to lose it. It's really unclear how this is going to get done. Not that it can't, it certainly can, but it's unclear how they're going to get there with the fact that, as Sunlen was talking about, they have such a slim majority in the Senate, and never mind Marco Rubio trying to use his leverage to get something that he thinks is important both for policy reasons and, let's face it, for political reasons. He's a young man with a very -- with the ambition for very important future. So there's that factor that is really an X factor.
But here's what I can tell you, Poppy, that to a person, every Republican I talk to talks in fatalistic terms about the need to get this tax bill done. For one reason, which is, they need a win. They need a legislative victory. They need to be able to go home at the end of a full year of Republican control of Washington and say we can deliver. You voted me -- you voted us in and we know how to govern. We're not just the party of the opposition. If they can't get this they're going to go home with egg on their face
and I talked to one Republican leader, John Thune, I said what happens if you go home to South Dakota without this done, he's like I don't want to do it, I can't go, and he's not alone.
HARLOW: I don't want to get on the plane, I don't want to go home. I mean, I heard that sentiment echoed across Kentucky, across Michigan in just the last two weeks. Like we bet on this.
BASH: That's interesting.
HARLOW: And they all bet on health care, the Obamacare repeal, they didn't get that so they need to get this.
What about political dividends for the president, though, Dana? This is not the huge tax cut for the middle class that the president promised. It's just not. I mean, try to spin it politically any way you want, that's just not what the numbers show. They get some relief but this isn't going to be a huge material change for every poor and middle class American in this country. So, I mean, what's the payoff for the president?
BASH: You know, that's a really important point because legislative victory to what end?
BASH: I mean, that is what you hear from the Republicans in Congress who are the ones on the ballot next, not the president. He will be -- there will be a question of whether or not the president helps or hurts them, but they're the ones whose names are actually on the ballot. And so the question becomes, OK, we said we did this, we're going to have this great victory, assuming it passes, but what about Trump voters particularly?
What about the people who took a chance, the people you talked to in those important states, Poppy, many of them who'd never voted for a Republican before.
BASH: Took a chance because he promised that their lives economically would be better and if they have this big victory dance on a tax cut that they promise is going to help those people and it ends up not, then that is a very, very big danger sign.
HARLOW: Yes. And Dana, we're looking at Attorney General Jeff Sessions who just took to the lectern in there. He will be the one introducing the president at the FBI Academy so we're watching that very closely.
As we do, let's bring back in our panel, Robby Mook, Margaret Hoover, Alex Burns and Dana, stay with us as well.
Alex, to Dana's point, I mean, if this isn't a big payoff for those voters who took a big risk for the president who'd never voted for a Republican, said he's going to do all these things that will really change my life and my economic situation for the better. Is this tax bill going to do it for them?
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, is it going to turn around the political environment which has grown incredibly toxic for Republicans? I think there's a lot of skepticism even within the party that this is an achievement of the kind that would create that kind of turnaround.
Is it better than doing absolutely nothing for them politically? That's the conversation that's happening among Republican members of Congress, including folks who are wavering on the bill. The fear is, are you better off passing something that is politically imperfect and substantively imperfect or going home to face your constituents and having to answer, well, what did we elect you for in the first place?
HARLOW: I don't even have to ask Margaret Hoover a question because that's the perfect question for a Republican strategist who worked in a Republican White House.
[10:35:04] Margaret Hoover, Alex's question. How big is this politically in terms of a win? We hear he's introducing the president. So think about that for a moment. Let's listen to the president here. He's shaking the attorney general's hand, coming up to address the local law enforcement officers who have been trained by FBI specialists.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody. That's a lot of years since the last president. And we'll be back. And thank you to Attorney General Sessions. Thank you, Director Wray, Assistant Director Resh for hosting me here at the FBI National Academy to address our wonderful local police and sheriffs from all over America for a special honor and it's an honor to stand here today with the incredible men and women of law enforcement. Thank you.
TRUMP: We're here to celebrate your graduation from the National Academy at Quantico. For over 80 years, this rigorous and world- renowned program has trained America's most dedicated local law enforcement officers from all across the country. So respected.
Let me begin by saying to each member of the graduating class, congratulations. You left home for 11 weeks to enroll in this program because you love your jobs, you love your communities, and you love your country.
Earlier this week, you completed the harrowing six-mile Yellow Brick Road. Just signed that beautiful brick. I just signed that brick. Designed for the Marines to push even the toughest to their limit. You endured muddy waters, barbed wire fences, icy creeks, steep hills and so much more, knowing that your elite training will help save lives.
The training you received at Quantico will give you that extra edge you need to defuse a threat, to disarm a criminal and to deliver a child safely to her mother's arms. I am here not only to congratulate you, but to honor you for your courage and for your devotion and I want you to know that with me as your president, America's police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House, more loyal than anyone else can be. I tell you.
TRUMP: I also want to take a moment to speak to all of the law enforcement families here today. You make tremendous sacrifices. American families can sleep soundly at night because of the burden that you carry for all of us. So on behalf of all Americans, to every law enforcement family here today, and all across the nation, thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
TRUMP: And you do that under the most difficult conditions. You very rarely get the recognition you deserve, I can tell you that, but your families know what you deserve. And ultimately that's the most important thing, isn't it? It's not a news story when our officers save a life, rescue a family or stop a crime. It's just another day on the job. Yet, no matter the circumstances, you serve tirelessly, selflessly and heroically. You do it because you really believe in doing your duty and doing it properly.
Being a police officer is not just a career, it's a calling, and I've seen it, I have so many friends that are police officers, so many people in the FBI. These are great, great people. These are really heroes for all of us, so thank you very much.
TRUMP: And as we as a country must do a better job showing our police officers the respect and gratitude that you have earned and we will do that.
[10:40:03] So when you return home to your local precincts, I want you to deliver a message to your fellow officers. The president of the United States has your back 100 percent.
TRUMP: I will fight for you, and I will never ever let you down, ever. Now more than ever, we must support the men and women in blue and the last two years America has seen a tragic rise in violent crime.
In 2015 and 2016, we witnessed the steepest two-year consecutive increase in murders in nearly half a century. And you look at what's going on, Chicago, what the hell is going on in Chicago?
TRUMP: What the hell is happening there?
TRUMP: For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours. You don't think these people in this room can stop that? They'd stop that. They'd stop it.
And just north of our nation's capital, in Baltimore, on average someone was murdered nearly every day of this year. Police departments are over stretched, they're underfunded, and they're totally under appreciated. Except by me.
TRUMP: Instead of holding up our police as the role models and mentors they are, they have been subjected to malicious attacks on their character and their integrity. This anti-police sentiment is wrong and it's dangerous and we will not stand for it. Most concerning of all, we have seen an alarming increase in violent assaults carried out against our police officers. Last year an officer was assaulted in America on average every 10 minutes.
In 2016, more than 140 officers lost their lives serving in the line of duty. These deaths fill our hearts with pain and with grief. Every drop of blood spilled from our men and women in blue is a wound inflicted on our nation. And when a brother or sister in uniform is hurt, on that day, all of America bleeds blue.
I want to send a message today to those who threaten violence against our police. We will protect those who protect us. And we believe criminals who kill police officers should get the death penalty.
TRUMP: One of my first executive orders as president instructed the Department of Justice to take all necessary steps and legal action to protect law enforcement from acts of violence against them. The Department of Justice has also announced more than $98 million in grant funding to help your local police departments hire desperately needed new officers.
Also, just as I promised, we are allowing our local police to access surplus military equipment, something the previous administration, for some reason, refused to do. Explain that one. Explain it to me, please.
TRUMP: Never understood that one. Somebody out there can explain it. Anybody want to stand up and explain it? It'd be tough. We want to bring down violent crime, then we must stand up for our police. All of us gathered here today share a common goal. We want every child to be able to walk safely home from school and we want every mother and father to know that their children will be secure when they tuck them in at night.
No family should have to worry about bullets flying through windows or gangs recruiting on street corners. Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, surrounded by a loving family and preparing to embark on a bright, beautiful future.
[10:45:10] As president, my greatest duty is to protect our nation and to protect our people. As we have witnessed recently, America faces grave threats. Terrorists have struck in the streets and subways of New York City twice in a few months, both terrorists came to our country through the dysfunctional immigration system that we are correcting, and rapidly, and one came through chain migration, chain migration. The other visa lottery.
They have a lottery. You pick people. Do you think the country is giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that? They come in by lottery. They give us their worst people. They put them in a bin. But in his hand when he's picking them he's the really the worst of the worst. Congratulations, you're going to the United States. OK.
TRUMP: What a system. Lottery system.
We're calling for Congress to end chain migration and to end the visa lottery system and replace it with a merit-based system of immigration.
TRUMP: We want a system that puts the needs of American families, taxpayers, and security first. That is why I have also directed the federal government, law enforcement, to work closely with our state and local police to destroy criminal cartels like the savages of MS- 13.
TRUMP: Already this year the Department of Justice has worked with partners in Central America to arrest and charge roughly 4,000 MS-13 members and the Department of Homeland Security has arrested nearly 800 MS-13 gang members and associates, an 83 percent increase from the previous year and we're much higher this year than we were last year and we'll get rid of them completely very soon. Right?
TRUMP: Right? They're working hard.
TRUMP: Earlier this year, ICE officers conducted the largest crackdown on criminal gangs in the history of our country. In just six weeks, ICE, these are great people, too, great people, and the Border Patrol agents, great people, and our law enforcement partners, arrested nearly 1,400 suspects and seized more than 200 illegal firearms and nearly 600 rounds of narcotics. And over 600 pounds. That's a lot of stuff. Recently prosecutions of criminal firearm possessions were up 23 percent. To any member of MS-13 listening, I have a message for you. We will
find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you, we will throw you the hell out of the country.
TRUMP: And somehow I like it better than jail. Jail we have to take care of them. Who the hell wants to take care of them?
TRUMP: You know, the jail stuff is wonderful, but we have to pay for it, right?
TRUMP: But these are killers. These are people that are sadists in many cases. We don't want them. We don't want them. They're getting out of here. Our cities should not be sanctuaries for criminals, they should be sanctuaries for Americans. It is our duty to serve the hard-working citizens of our country, who raise our families, cherish our values, salute our flag, and make this land our home.
These are the citizens you represent and these are the citizens you courageously protect. By the way, you are great people. You are incredible people. Just so you understand, you are great people doing an incredible job. I hope your families know that. I would say 90 percent -- probably 90 percent agree, right? The other 10 percent, that's not working out so well.
TRUMP: We heard from one such hero among us earlier today, your class spokesperson, DEA Officer Craig Wiles.
[10:50:10] It is truly amazing to see Craig's father sitting in the very seat where Craig himself sat 40 years ago when he was just 15 years old. Where is his father, by the way? Where is his father? Where is your father?
TRUMP: There he is.
TRUMP: He's better looking than you, by the way.
TRUMP: It's great story, though. It's fantastic. Thank you for being here. That's really nice. You're proud of your son, right? Good. So am I.
That day, Craig watched his father speak at this podium. When he listened to his father's words he was filled with pride and such devotion that at that moment he, too, decided to become a law enforcement officer. Terrific.
Today, it's incredible that his own children have joined us for the special moment. His daughter Ashley is carrying on the legacy of her father and grandfather. She now serves in law enforcement at the FBI. His son Austin is in college and no matter what he chooses to do, I think we can confidently and we really can, with great confidence, say that this, he will always be better because of his father's life-long example of selflessness and courage and of love.
So thank you, Craig, and your family. It's a terrific story. And really is a great honor to be with you. Thank you very much.
TRUMP: But as I look out in the audience today, I see many young, bright faces. To them and to many other young Americans watching at home of which there are many, you see, there's the fake news back there, look --
TRUMP: Fake news. No, actually some of them are fine people. About -- let's see who's back there. Yes, about 30 percent.
TRUMP: You are the men and women who teach them what it means to be a police officer. You are always there for us. The men and women in blue in the dark of night, in the rush of danger, you break down doors, race down alleys, chase down suspects, and bring down criminals. And you do it with strength and skill and pride.
There's a reason that your children look up to you with their eyes full of awe and full of wonder. There's a reason that they rush to the window just to catch a glimpse of your sirens flashing by because to them, and to all of us, and to me, you are the guardians who keep us safe, who ward off danger, and who confront evil so that the good will always prevail. You represent the best of America and you leave us with a debt we can never hope to repay.
Today we honor you, we thank you, and we know that by your example some of the children here today and watching at home will be inspired to fill your shoes to continue your service, to follow in your footsteps, and to take the oath to carry the badge, to wear the shield, and to join the ranks of heroes.
Thank you to our police. Thank you to our sheriffs. Thank you to the FBI. Thank you to our law enforcement families. God bless you all. Thank you very much.
HARLOW: The president of the United States with effusive praise for law enforcement officers from around this country. At the end there thanking the FBI, a completely juxtaposition to his criticism of the agency even as he boarded Marine One to head to the FBI National Academy in Quantico.
[10:55:02] My panel is back with me. Also with me, retired former FBI special agent James Gagliano.
What's your read from what we just heard from the president, James?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Poppy, it takes me back 26 1/2 years ago. I was a brand new, new agent sitting in when President H.W. Bush, Bush 41, came to deliver some remarks at my academy graduation. But those remarks were more geared towards pushing an omnibus crime bill that he was hoping Congress would pick up. This was more I think President Trump attempting to re-establish relations with law enforcement in regards to the FBI's in tatters remark that he made.
Now I think he stuck to the script. It was a pro-forma script. It was laden with bromides and support which I believe to be authentic and genuine and sincere. My only quibbling with him is law enforcement, we want support, we want our president to back us, but when you make the signal that you have my 100 percent support, that can be misinterpreted and that can be interpreted by some to mean, hey, no matter what law enforcement does, I'm going to stand by you and that's not the support we want.
HARLOW: Yes. Interesting point, James.
OK. And Robby, to you, what was your read, you know, your main read from all of this? It was so different than what we heard from the president just an hour ago?
ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I thought Mr. Gagliano's point was right on that, you know, this was classic Donald Trump, where there were actually some really charming moments there, you know, some well-written parts but then he just couldn't help himself by going too far, again by driving those wedges in between law enforcement and some of the communities they serve by -- in fact, if I were a member of that audience I'd be concerned that the president's actually driving a wedge between potentially me and the community that I'm trying to work in, that he's actually making some of the problems they're facing worse.
You know, puts in the fake media piece. Exacerbates tensions over immigration. So, you know, I think for some people in the audience, it was great, you could tell he was feeding off of them, but it was just classic Trump, that he -- this could have gone -- this could have been a great speech, he could have really calmed down some of the tensions he's caused and I don't think he made much progress.
HARLOW: Did you read it like that, Margaret, or did you have a different read?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, what happened here is the individuals who helped shape the president's schedule were able to help change the message about what the president had said about the FBI because they can't influence what he says, but they can influence what he does, and so they put an event on his schedule and hoping that, you know, the picture is worth a thousand words, hoping to sort of reshape the narrative and helping to re-establish or at least some pushback to this narrative that suggests that the president wants to constantly undermine the chief law enforcement agency in the country.
Look, it helps that he goes there. It does help.
HOOVER: And it just hurts that he continues to belittle the FBI when he's not on the strict diet that the adults put him on.
HARLOW: Alex, to Robby's point, of this -- could this in part drive a wedge between some law enforcement and the communities that they police back at home? You heard the president single out Chicago and the murder rate in Chicago. Everyone knows the police commissioner, Rahm Emanuel, the mayor, knows what the problem is in Chicago, right, and it has to be resolved.
However, to hear him go after Chicago and say, what the hell, in his words, is going on in Chicago, less we forget this is the Trump administration who threw Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tried through the court system to pull funding from Chicago because it is a sanctuary city. Dick Durbin, senator of Illinois, said you want to cut federal funds for the city and then criticize the murder rate in the city. There's some hypocrisy there.
BURNS: True. And I think you have to view him holding up Chicago and Baltimore, or other cities they way he does as really truly a political exercise. This reflects a world view that the president has expressed going back to the 1980s long before he ever gotten into politics, basically the problems of society are found in, you know, high crime, very diverse cities where there is a significant poverty and significant social problems.
They come along with it. That's something -- it is one of the few areas where the president has been very, very consistent throughout his life. I would also say, you know, to sort of to Margaret's point the distinction between what he says about the FBI outside of that arena and what he says in that room, is also partly about the difference between how he sees federal agencies and local police.
That he really sees and in many cases he's right that local police are part of his political base, that many of the people who would -- you know, when you would see police outside his rallies performing security functions, many of those people are his supporters.
HARLOW: I think that no matter who you support, there's one thing we can all agree on this morning, as I thank you all, the president's final words, you are the guardians who keep us safe, you represent the best of America, that could not be more true to all of those who serve in blue. Thank you.
Thank you to my panelists. Thank you all for being with us this Friday. I'm ready for the weekend. Hope you have a great one. John and I will see you back here on Monday. Kate Bolduan picks it up now.