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Trump's Speech at Republican Retreat; Memo Discredits Russia Probe; Nunes Pushes Back on Memo Claims. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired February 1, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (In progress) -- we were waiting for February. And then we got hit with these corporations giving tremendous bonuses to everybody, that Nancy Pelosi called crumbs. That was a bad -- that could be like deplorable. Does that make sense? Deplorable and crumbs?
TRUMP: Those two words, they seem to have a resemblance. I hope it has the same meaning. But she called it crumbs, when people are getting $2,000 and $3,000 and $1,000. That's not crumbs -- that's a lot of money. We also doubled the child tax credit, and that's so helpful to so many.
We've gone from one of the highest business tax rates anywhere in the world to one of the most competitive, one of the lower ones, so that our great workers and companies can compete and win against anyone.
We've now given them the tools to go out and win. And that's what they're doing, and they're also pouring back -- a lot of you folks, you saw Davos the other day. They're coming back. I believe I brought hundreds of billions of dollars with me back from Europe, back from Switzerland when I went there the other day to make a speech. They're so excited about this country and what's happening here. And they would never, ever have come.
In fact, if the opposing party had won the election, you would have had tremendous new rules and regulations put on everything, and other things would have happened. And instead of going up almost 50 percent, your stock market, in my opinion, would have gone down 50 percent, I really believe that, because they were stifling it. They were getting prepared to stifle even worse than it was.
The changes to our business tax alone are expected to raise average household income by $4,000. Roughly three million workers have already received tax-cut bonuses and raises totaling thousands and thousands of dollars per worker, and that's just over the past six weeks alone. Because of our tax cuts, Apple is investing $350 billion in the United States. They're bringing $240 billion back -- $240 billion. They're going to pay a tax of $38 billion, Mitch, $38 billion, but they're going to invest a total of $350 billion.
When I first heard the number, I said, you don't mean billion; you mean $350 million. Because I've been saying to Tim Cook, Tim, you've got to build plants here. But for $350 million, you could build a beautiful plant. But for $350 billion, they're going to build a lot of plants. And this would have never happened without us and the work you've done. And they're hiring 20,000 workers, by the way.
And two days ago, ExxonMobil, in addition to many others, just announced that they're investing $50 billion in the United States. So the good news just keeps rolling in, and it's going to.
And I want to thank Senator Tim Scott for opportunity zones. Our tax plan encourages this investment.
Where is Tim? What a good guy Tim is, Tim. See him over there somewheres?
Thank you, Tim.
But we're investing in distressed communities to create more jobs for those who have too often been left behind. And Tim worked hard on that. We want every American to know the dignity of work, the pride of a paycheck and the satisfaction of a job really well done.
And we're reaching our hand all across the aisle in pursuit of common ground and common sense reforms for the good of all Americans, all Americans.
We can reform our prison system to help those who have served their time get a second chance at life. And I've watched this, and I've seen it and I've studied it. And people get out of prison, and they've made a mistake. And not all -- some are very bad, but many are very good. And they come home and they can't get a job. It's sad. They can't -- there's -- they can't get a job.
Now the best thing we've done to fix that, Paul, is the fact that the economy is just booming. I mean, that fixes it better than any program we can do, anything we can do at all.
But the economy is so strong now, and so good, and so many companies are moving in that I really believe that that problem -- it's a big problem -- is going to solve itself, but we're working on it.
We can invest in work force development, job training and open new vocational schools, because we want every American to be able to reach their full, God-given potential.
Vocational schools -- today you have community colleges and you have all of the -- when I was growing up, we had vocational schools. And when I was going to school, I remember I was in high school, and there were people in class, one person in particular, he wasn't like the greatest student. And he just wasn't. And yet I saw him one day, and he was able to fix a car engine blindfolded. And everybody else was saying that's amazing how talented he is. He had a different kind of a talent, and we should have vocational schools.
You learn mechanical, you learn brick laying and carpentry and all of these things. We don't have that very much anymore. And I think the word "vocational" is a much better word than in many cases a community college. A lot of people don't know what a community college means or represents.
So we're working very hard on vocational schools, so when all of these companies move into this country, we're going to have a workforce that knows exactly what they're doing.
In addition to that, when they move in we're giving them incentives to also train people themselves. Because in many ways, that's the best way to do it.
In Wisconsin, we have a great company moving in. They make all of the Apple iPhones. And they're going to have a big program. They're going to have a tremendous program to teach people how to do this, because it's a whole new skill. And it'll be very successful.
We can reduce the price of prescription drugs and ensure that terminally ill patients have a right to try.
So important, right to try. You know those drugs, they sit in there for 12, 13, 14 years and a person's terminally ill, they have two months left. And under the old system, they don't want to give them even an experimental medicine, because they're afraid they're going to be hurt. Well, they're not going to be around for two months. So they'll sign a waiver, and we're going to give them the hope of finding something.
You have people -- and I've known people like this -- they travel all over the world to try and find a cure. And we have great experimental drugs, but it'll be years before they come onto the market. So it's called right to try, and I hope you folks can approve it, and I hope you agree with it, but I think it's so important. It's so important.
And Scott Gottlieb is heading it up, and it's -- and the other thing you get is you learn pretty quickly how effective it is. Does it work? But you learn it really, very quickly. So right to try.
We can fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones that are fair. And the most important word to me on trade is "reciprocal." Because we have deals where companies will send in a motorbike; we charge them nothing. But when we send a Harley Davidson or a motorbike to those countries, they charge us 100 percent tax. That's not fair. So they'll send their motorbikes or something into us, zero. We send it to them, 100 percent. That's not fair trade. That's not fair.
So I like the word "reciprocal." If they're going to do it to us, we're going do it to them. Now what's going to happen is your numbers are going to either come down or we're going to make a lot of money. And either one is OK, as far as I'm concerned.
We can rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and we will. Streamline the horrible approval process. Roadways that take 12, 13, 14 years to get approved. We used to build them in three months, and now it takes years and years of approvals.
We're going to bring that down, ideally to one year. It's -- two years is our goal, but one year is our real goal. And we can get it done under budget, and we want to get it done ahead of schedule. Because you don't have too many of them. Under budget and ahead of schedule.
We can deliver for our police, our veterans and our brave servicemembers. And finally, after decades of waiting, we can finally pass immigration reform that protects our country, defends our borders and modernizes our immigration rules to serve the needs of American workers and of American families. So important.
One of the strengths of the Republican party is that we're a big tent with many diverse views, but the one thing we can all agree on -- and that's set (ph) in every decision; we make it our highest priority to serve and to protect the American people: We want an immigration policy that's fair, equitable, but that's going to protect our people. We want people coming in to our country based on merit, and based on the fact that they are going to love our country, and they respect our people and our country. We don't want visa lottery. Pick a lottery ticket. Pick a lottery. We don't want that. So we want it based on merit.
We have a chance now to pass into law the immigration reforms that the American people have been demanding for decades, and that many of you have been working on for your entire careers. We have a great opportunity as a Republican Party. As the Republican Party we have a great opportunity.
We're getting very little help from the Democrats, but I hope after I leave this room we're going to get a call from these people, saying, let's go. You know, they talk a good game. We have to get help from the other side, or we have to elect many more Republicans. That's another way of doing it.
Really, that's another way of doing it. And based on the numbers we just saw, we have a real chance of doing that. You know, '18 is going to be very interesting. But we've got to do one or the other. Either they're going to have to come on board, because they talk a good game with DACA but they don't produce. And so we're -- either they come on board, or we're just going to have to really work and we're going to have to get more people so we can get the kind of numbers that we need to pass in a much easier fashion, legislation. And to get it done, we'll all have to make some compromises along the way, to get it done this way.
TRUMP: Now to get it done the other way, if we win more, we don't have to compromise so much, OK? With the tax bill, we got what we wanted because we had, essentially, a unanimous vote. But we have to go and we have to get it done, and get it done properly. And we're going to have to compromise unless we elect more Republicans, in which case we can have it just the way everybody in this room wants it. We have to be willing to give a little in order for our country to gain a whole lot. If we're united, if we work together for the good of the nation, and we can fulfill our sacred duty to the country, and to -- to our incredible voters, we have really fulfilled a solemn promise.
As you know, I have put forward an immigration framework based on many months of meeting and working with Tom Cotton, and working with John Cornyn, who was in the office the other day, and David Perdue -- incredible people -- and Bob Goodlatte, who is out here someplace -- really incredible people.
And it's a strong bill, but it's a very fair bill, and it protects our borders. We have to protect our borders. It includes reforms that are overwhelmingly popular with the voters, including Democrats. The Democrats want to have -- the real Democrats, they want to have their borders protected. But it includes Democrats, Independents, Republicans. Americans want an immigration system that works for everybody. And they want safety.
And by the way, they also want a strong military, and we have to be very powerful on our military. You know, our military has been depleted over the last long period of time, even beyond Obama. It's been depleted. We've got to build up. This should not be a party thing. This should be common sense. Without our military, we might not be here talking. We have to have a strong military, and I think we're very much on our way, from the one standpoint. We're going for funding, which we need, and I think we'll get it.
But we have a lot of fighting on that from the other side, and we can't even think about it. We need a strong and powerful military, and we're going to have far more powerful than we were ever before.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans support an immigration reform package that includes a permanent solution on DACA. And I've been hearing about DACA for so many years. Some people call it Dreamers. It's not Dreamers. Don't fall into that trap. It's -- it's just much different than Dreamers.
And I said the other night, you know, we have Dreamers, too. We have Dreamers in this country, too. You can't forget our Dreamers. I have a lot of Dreamers here.
But DACA, we want to take care of DACA, and I hope we will. We need the support of the Democrats in order to do it, and they might not want to do it. They talk like they do, but I don't think they do, but we're going to find out very soon.
We want something that is very, very tough and strong, in terms of the border. We need to end chain migration, and we need to cancel the terrible visa lottery.
And those are the four pillars that I talked about the other night. We call them the "White House framework," a plan that will finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century. The Republican position on immigration is the center, mainstream view of the American people, with some extra strength at the border, and security at the border added in. What we're asking for, and what the American people are pleading for, is sanity and common sense in our immigration system. We want immigration rules that protect our communities, defend our security, and admit people who will love our country and contribute to our society.
TRUMP: I know that the Senate is planning to bring an immigration bill on the floor -- to the floor in coming weeks, and I'm asking that the framework we submitted with great flexibility, great flexibility, working with both parties, that something very positive will come out of it for our country, for everybody, for our country. And I think that can happen. If the Democrats choose to filibuster a framework that includes a generous path to citizenship or something that is not fair, we are not going to approve it. We're just not going to approve it.
So we'll either have something that's fair and equitable and good and secure, or we're going to have nothing at all. And this has been going on for many years. It doesn't make sense, however, to have nothing at all, because this is something that people want.
So we will be demonstrating that we are very, very serious. One of the reasons -- I gave a number that was I thought a very generous number, was because I wanted to see whether or not they were interested in approving that.
Because if they don't approve something within that sphere, that means very simply that they're not looking to approve it at all. They want to use it for an election issue, but it's now an election issue that will go to our benefit, not their benefit.
But make no mistake, I will not rest until we've delivered for the citizens of our great country. So many different things, immigration, the strong military. We've done an awfully good job of protecting our Second Amendment. That was in question during the campaign, you remember.
And we have done a very, very good job. For the last 12 months, I've kept one promise after another, and we're just getting started. So often I'll see -- and I must say, six, seven months ago, they were saying, he didn't fulfill his promise, or this or that. I said, I've only been here for four months. You know, other people were there for eight years and they would finally get something passed. I was there four months, you know this, Paul, and they were saying, he didn't fulfill the promise. But now we've fulfilled far more promises than we promised.
TRUMP: And they're having a hard time with that.
TRUMP: We have seriously fulfilled promise -- I call it promises-plus.
TRUMP: And one of the things that we're doing that's so important, that Mitch has worked so hard on, and Don and everybody, is the justices, the judges all over the country. We're filling up the courts with really talented people...
... who understand and read the Constitution for what it says. So it's -- it's really not talked about that much. But it is a tremendous impact; it's having already a tremendous impact. And we have incredible people lined up, just lined up, that are getting ready to go into the courts.
And in many ways, Mitch, I think it's going to be one of the most important things, if not the most important thing we're doing. Defense is always the most. Got to be the most, John, right? But what we're doing with the courts I think is going to go down as one of the greatest achievements, and I want to thank you for that.
And not only are we protecting America at home, we're protecting our interest abroad. It's time to finally end the dangerous defense sequester. It would be wonderful if we could go back to a budget.
In order to fully fund our military and do it properly and order properly and have it over a period of time and do it the right way, so at some point I hope we're going to be able to do that, and it should work.
And in order to defeat terrorists, we're also asking Congress to ensure that we continue to have all necessary power, and everything we need to defeat and detain the terrorists.
We can't treat terrorists like common criminals. They are really unlawful enemy combatants. (APPLAUSE)
When you see what they do and the way they do it and the level of ferocity, we can't treat them the way we do the ordinary criminal.
And as you saw on Tuesday, I've signed an order keeping open our very secure detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.
It's another promise kept.
And there's one more very important promise we're keeping: No longer are we making apologies for America. We don't apologize any more.
We're proud of our history, we're confident in our values, and we're grateful to our heroes. And we are determined to create a brighter future for all of our people. We are restoring the bonds of love and loyalty that unite us all, as friends, as neighbors, as citizens, as Americans. Because when Americans are united, nothing -- nothing at all -- nothing can stop us. We win.
As I said the other night, we are a nation that built the Empire State Building, in one year. Actually, to be exact, it was -- we built it in less than a year. Would you believe it? Working 24 hours around the clock.
We built the Hoover Dam in record time. We built the Golden Gate Bridge. We linked our nation together with railroads and highways. We dug out the Panama Canal.
We're the nation that won two World Wars, defeated fascism and communism and put satellites into space, and planted our great American flag on the face of the moon.
We've healed the sick, cured disease and cared for the poor like no other nation. We've lifted millions into prosperity, and delivered millions into freedom. This is our legacy. This is our birthright. And this is the foundation on which we build our very glorious future. Because, together, we are, indeed, making America great again.
Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you very much. Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president of the United States wrapping up his remarks, echoing many of the themes he delivered in the State of the Union Address before Congress, before this Republican -- this Republican retreat out there in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The president going through all the issues he raised and discussed at great length in his speech at the State of the Union. That was about 80 minutes. This one was about 35 minutes. But he went through all of those plans.
We're going to have a lot more on that coming up.
I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I want to quickly get to some breaking news we're following.
CNN has now learned new details about why President Trump plans to release a secret Republican memo. A memo that's generating a political firestorm. According to multiple sources, the president is telling associates that the memo could help discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's entire Russia investigation. The document alleges FBI abuse of its surveillance powers. The president is expected to release it in defiance of a very stern warning by both the FBI and the Justice Department not to do so.
Let's go to our White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins. She's monitoring all these late-breaking developments.
What more, Kaitlan, have you learned about why the president seems so determined on making this controversial Republican memo public?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, we're learning a lot about why the president has been just so eager to get this memo out there. It is because he's telling friends and allies that he believes this memo being revealed to the public will help discredit the entire Russia investigation. And we know that he's been phoning those friends and allies saying that he believes once the memo is public, that it will help expose bias among the top ranks at the FBI and show that some of the people leading this investigation have been bias against him since the beginning here, Wolf.
And it really goes to show what's been behind the president's mindset with all of this, because as you know, after the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, the president was overheard telling a congressman he 100 percent was going to release the memo, even though the White House said he had not read it yet and that no final decision has been made.
And to add to that, Wolf, we also know that the president was highly upset yesterday after the FBI issued a statement condemning the release of this memo, saying that it doesn't give the full, accurate picture and that it instead is misleading, which is also what critics and Democrats have said about the release of this memo.
But we're certainly learning more here, Wolf, about what exactly the president's mindset is behind the release of this memo.
BLITZER: We certainly are. And that FBI statement, as you pointed out, was a very strong statement. I'll read a couple sentences from that statement with regard to the House Intelligence Committee's memorandum, the Republican memorandum that is.
[13:25:10] The FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy.
An extremely strong statement from the FBI as a result of this apparent decision by the -- the president to go forward and release it.
Kaitlan, we're going to get back to you.
There's more information that's coming in as well. Were there only minor edits or material changes in this Republican memo? New questions have surfaced about changes made to the Devin Nunes memo. Devin Nunes being the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The ranking Democrat on that committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, tweeted this, quote, breaking, discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to the White House. Changes not approved by the committee. The White House, therefore, reviewing a document the committee has not approved for release, closed quote.
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju. He's up on Capitol Hill.
So, Manu, tell us how Congressman Nunes is responding.
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's pushing back, Wolf. He is claiming that the changes that were made were minor in nature, technical changes, grammatical changes. He says that there were -- there were actually two edits that were requested by the FBI and by Democrats, and he says this is all an effort to distract from the merits of his memo.
Now, one thing that's pretty clear here, Wolf, is that there is no dispute that there were changes that were made to this memo. The dispute is whether or not they were substantive changes. The Democrats say that there were several material changes to this memo that have affected -- they were much different than what members of Congress, members of the House reviewed in a classified setting after the committee approved it's -- all House members to review this memo in a classified setting. They said there were changes that were made that were not informed to the House Intelligence Committee when the House Intelligence Committee voted on Monday to release the memo publicly. That has led to calls from Democrats, namely Adam Schiff and the rest of the members on his committee, to have another vote in the House Intelligence Committee on the memo that is actually being reviewed by the president right now.
That is something, however, Wolf, that Republicans are resisting, including members of the House Intelligence Committee. Republicans are saying, we don't need to revote on this, including Trey Gowdy, the top -- one of the senior Republicans on the committee whose office just told me moments ago they oppose the notion of revoting on this memo because they said there were changes that were made before that revote -- before that Monday vote happened.
But, Wolf, what Democrats are saying is that they didn't even know these changes were made, which is significant. And significant that members did not see the final memo that could eventually be released publically. Democrats are now asking Paul Ryan, the House speaker, to intervene, to stop this memo's release, and even remove Nunes as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. No word yet from Paul Ryan's office, but we'll see what he has to say when he meets reporters in West Virginia later today, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we'll certainly be monitoring that. Manu, thanks very much. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.
President Trump's plan to release that controversial memo puts him on a collision course with the FBI director he appointed. Christopher Wray has warned the president against releasing the memo. Among those who are calling for it to be made public, the president, the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Congressman Nunes and the House Speaker Paul Ryan. Those opposed include Congressman Adam Schiff, the FBI Director Christopher Wray, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
A lot to discuss with our panel. Let's bring in the former assistant U.S. attorney, Kim Wehle, chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, and our CNN political analyst Molly Ball.
Molly, what do you make of the president actually telling associates that the memo will help discredit this entire Mueller-led Russia investigation?
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is another rather stunning instance, but not the first one, of Trump seeming to say out loud exactly what his harshest critics suspected, right? I mean the entire -- the opponents of releasing the memo have been saying, this is a fundamentally political move. He's only interested in muddying the waters of the investigation and substantiating his narrative that there's a witch hunt going on. Whereas, you know, the proponents of releasing the memo have been saying, no, no, we're concerned about corruption in the FBI. This is -- the public deserves to know about the -- you know, what's happening in this investigation. Our motives are pure.
Here's Trump apparently coming out and telling people, yes, this is all about me. I want to approve what I've been saying all along that this is a witch hunt.
[13:29:56] BLITZER: Christopher Wray, Jim, the FBI director, he's been in office now for about six months, he tells the White House, in a very strong statement -- you don't use these words easily -- that we have grave concerns about material omissions and deeply concerned about releasing this memo.
If the president --