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Trump Budget To Add $7 Trillion To Deficit Over Next Decade; Senator David Perdue On His Immigration Reform Proposal. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 13, 2018 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- interesting take, not what anybody was expecting. You could them when it was unveiled.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: If the former president and the former first lady like them, that's good enough for us, right?

So we're following a lot of news. What do you say, let's get after it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He certainly supports the victims of domestic violence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said very strongly that he's innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president doesn't say one word about the lives that have been scarred.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just not believable when the president wants to get a message out, he does it.

SANDERS: We learned of the extent of this situation last Tuesday evening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If somebody did know the full extent --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the president, I want to get rid of him.

TRUMP: We're going to have the strongest military we've ever had by far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump outlining a budget that would balloon the federal deficit despite steep cuts to social programs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the motivations was to stop the Obama deficit string, and now the Republicans are doing just as bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody says Congress is spending money like a drunk sailor. And that's not true. A drunk sailor stops when he runs out of money.

(END VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Tuesday, February 13th, 8:00 in the east. Up first the White House insists that president Trump supports victims of domestic violence. But every public statement and tweet from the president has been sympathetic toward the accused, the top aide who was forced to resign. One week into this scandal, the White House still refuses to say if the president believes Rob Porter's ex-wives, nor will the White House give us any details about exactly when top officials learned about these abuse allegations.

CUOMO: Let me just check because my suggestion is the president has stepped into a thicket that's too thorny to avoid. He's going to have to fix this. But not yet this morning. Another thing he has the to deal with. The president put out a $4.4 trillion budget and it's getting a lot of scrutiny within his own party. Conservatives are blasting the deal because it's projected to add trillions of dollars to the deficit on top of the trillions of dollars that the tax cuts are going to put on over the next decade.

This morning, the president is focusing on immigration. He's tweeting that this is the last chance to fix DACA. So will Congress be able to get a deal in just three weeks? That's the question. We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House with our stop story. Big morning to be down there, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, good morning, Chris. We are one week into this scandal over these domestic abuse allegations against Rob Porter and the White House is still mired in controversy. We still haven't gotten a clear and concise explanation about who knew what and when about these allegations against Porter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly.

PHILLIP: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defending President Trump after he expressed sympathy for accused domestic abuser Rob Porter but said nothing about his alleged victims.

SANDERS: The president supports victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.

PHILLIP: Sanders reading a statement that she says was dictated to her by the president, but that's not what Mr. Trump has publicly said.

TRUMP: Obviously a tough time for him. It was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he's also very sad. Now, he also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent. And I think you have to remember that. We absolutely wish him well.

PHILLIP: Sanders also addressing this tweet from the president a day later calling for due process for the accused.

SANDERS: He's not taking a side necessarily one way or the other on any specific issue here. He's talking about mere allegations shouldn't be the determining factor for any individual, that there should be due process.

PHILLIP: The conflicting remarks leaving several party officials who spoke to CNN confused about Mr. Trump's stance. A former campaign official telling CNN, "I don't understand why the White House is hedging on condemning domestic abuse." A member of the Central Park Five who was wrongly convicted of raping and beating a jogger in 1989 accusing the president of hypocrisy for demanding due process for alleged abuser but calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five defendants.

YUSUF SALAAM, CENTRAL PARK FIVE EXONEREE: What we're seeing is clearly that there are two separate Americas, one America for blacks and people of color and another America for whites and people of affluence.

PHILLIP: Porter's ex-wife Colbie Holderness criticizing Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders' response to the allegations, writings in an op-ed, "While I cannot say I'm surprised, I expected a woman to do better," Holderness specifically citing Conway's statement that she is not concerned about White House communications director Hope Hicks who is in a relationship with Porter.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm sorry for any suffering that this woman has endured. But in the case of Hope, I've rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.

PHILLIP: Holderness writing her statement applies those who have been in abusive relationships are not strong. This as the White House continues to insist that senior officials only learned about the, quote, "extent of the allegations" last Tuesday. CNN has reported that White House counsel Don McGahn knew a year ago that Porter's ex- wives could present damaging information on him to the FBI. And Chief of Staff John Kelly learned about the allegations last November as Porter struggled to get approval for a full security clearance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump, do you have a vetting problem?

PHILLIP: Sanders blaming the FBI for the backlog of dozens of White House staffers continuing to work without permanent clearances.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: Alisyn and Chris, President Trump is normally never shy about making his opinions known, but we are still waiting for him to weigh in on this issue of believing domestic abuse victims on social media or in another forum. He has a couple of other meetings today, one with a grew of sheriffs and another one on African-American history month. Alisyn and Chris?

CAMEROTA: And it has been suggested that the group with the sheriffs would be the perfect place to bring it up, so we'll get to that momentarily.

CUOMO: Domestic abuse huge in the African-American community. So he's got a nexus.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Let's bring in our guests. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, I want to start with you because I want to talk about what Colbie Holderness said in the "Washington Post" today. So this is Rob Porter's first wife. She is now speaking out it seems because she was so motivated by what Kellyanne Conway told Jake Tapper. Jake Tapper asked Kellyanne if she's worried about Hope Hicks, who is now in a romantic relationship with Rob Porter, if she's worried about Hope Hicks being abused somehow. Kellyanne Conway said no, basically, she's a strong woman. I don't worry about her. Colbie Holderness knows something about this. She was Rob Porter's first wife writes. Here's what she writes, "Her," meaning Kellyanne Conway's, "statement implies that those who have been in abusive relationships are not strong. I beg to differ. Recognizing and surviving in an abusive relationship takes strength. The abuse can be terrifying, life-threatening, and almost constant, or it can ebb and flow with no violence for long periods. It's often the subtler forms of abuse that inflict serious persistent damage while making it hard for the victim to see the situation clearly."

She goes on, "For me, living in constant fear of Rob's anger and being subjected to his degrading tirades for years chipped away at my independence and sense of self-worth. I walked away from that relationship a shell of a person I was when I went into it. But it took me a long time to realize the toll that his behavior was taking on me. Rob has denied the abuse, but Jennifer Willoughby," his second wife, "and I know what happened." It just couldn't have been stronger language from her.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really couldn't, so well said and well put, making it about the broader reality of domestic violence and the cycle of violence and who it really ends up affecting. And maybe some people who are, quote-unquote, "weak" to follow on the term that Kellyanne used when she described Hope as strong. But it's not just that. I'm sure that we all, unfortunately know or know of people who in their public lives, their public personas are feminists, are strong, independent women. And meanwhile behind closed doors they have been in abusive relationships. It happens unfortunately, tragically, way too much.

In Kellyanne's defense, what she said publicly about Hope is what privately White House officials have been saying to me when I have said, isn't there any motivation here among the White House staff, those who really love and know Hope? The president is certainly counted among those and has been for a long time, concerned about Hope's well-being. And in private they say no, no, she's strong, to which the conversation quickly turns to what I just said. So there's a defense and a kind of a rallying around Hope. But at the end of the day, it's not about that. It's about broader misunderstanding -- frankly head-in-the-sand point of view that is starting with the president of the United States and the people who speak for him are forced to dance around that kind of -- figure out a way to explain it which is generally not easy, but with this particular issue, really difficult.

CUOMO: It's too big a deal, David. We're not going to stop talking about it, in part because they keep screwing up their cover story. The old expression of the tangled web you weave when you practice to deceive, they are trying to deceive. They are misstating when they knew and when they had a chance to act on this and didn't. And that coupled with something that's not a couple he-said, she-said or about how somebody talked or acted in a given scenario from one person's perspective. The ex-wife who wrote this op-ed is the one with the black eye. The other ex-wife is the one who had an order of protection. The preponderance of proof here was more than enough to act. I think he's going to have to clean it up whether he likes it or not.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Does he care?

CUOMO: He has to care. It will haunt him. If we don't stop talking about it -- here is the pernicious part. His followers, Trump folk, especially the men are starting with the why are you still on this, it doesn't matter, you're overblowing it, it's not that big of deal, what about due process. He is fomenting exactly the wrong instincts. I don't think he's going to be able to keep doing it.

GREGORY: It wouldn't be the first time, so I don't know. Clearly they've moved in stages here of what can they get away with, the latest being we'll have our press secretary go out and say in the hollowest language that you could possibly --

CUOMO: It's got to be him.

GREGORY: -- that domestic violence -- Chris, I'm not disagreeing with you. This is an issue of what is real and how he thinks. And you nor I know exactly what moves him. And the right thing is not what moves him. OK, so the reality is that the White House shouldn't be engaging in this talk of talk with the flippancy that Kellyanne engaged in over the weekend, talking about we know Hope, she'll be fine in this situation. She doesn't know what the dynamic was.

CUOMO: She doesn't know what this guy's M.O. is either. Both of these wives say when they were dating, he was fine. One of them dated him for three years.

And I'll tell you what, we've got this documentary coming out -- maybe we'll ask the boss about having it come out sooner on CNN instead of HLN because it's so topical right now. But that's the pattern. And strong women are fundamental to the survival of the dynamic. If they weren't strong, they would be crushed early on, and so many endure it for years. But please continue.

GREGORY: There's just one other point on this, which is from from the cover story part of this, what we know - "Politico's" reporting about the initial instincts was let's get some reporters in a room with Mr. Porter and he can give his side of the story. They wanted to stand by this guy. They wanted to have him stand and fight. Why? They like him, a lot of people liked him. And you're working in the White House -- president Trump who has been accused so many different ways of sexual misconduct and worse and certainly is not very sympathetic to victims who bring these kinds of accusations. So they thought, why not?

BASH: Can I just add one other thing on the question of whether or not the president is going to find a way to end it or not? David, I completely agree, if past is prologue he will not.

Having said that, we are in 2018. This is a midterm election year. Every House Republican is on the ballot, and there is concern, as we have been talking about, that Democrats could take control. It is the suburbs, suburban swing districts that could be determinative of whether Democrats can take back the house. I was talking to a Republican strategist involved in those races this morning who is getting more and more concerned because it is the female vote that really, really matters in those districts, and the concern is, a, the subject matter and, b, that it is going on so long that it is a weeklong news story that doesn't have an end in sight.

GREGORY: But the question is who, congressional candidates, congressional leadership is making a point of saying, hey, if the president is not saying, let us be very clear how awful this is and how horribly this was handled as a kind of a way to separate from the president.

The president can certainly come out and say, by the way, I think domestic violence is wrong, of course. But we know that wasn't his instinct. You know he's sitting in there saying, hey, look, I did the right thing. I showed that I could do the right thing. We got rid of the guy, didn't we? But then he went out and said what he really thinks. That's the game they play, which is hey, come on, he got rid of the guy, and then he can still go out and do his own thing.

CAMEROTA: That's why it was so interesting to hear Anita Dunn, former communications director, Hope Hicks' role now in the Obama administration say that if he used this opportunity at the sheriff's meeting that he's having to talk, just even broadly about domestic violence --

BASH: You know it's bad when Democrats are offering the president free advice, really good advice.

CAMEROTA: That might just solve it.

CUOMO: It's a non-partisan issue. One in four women, one in seven men. It's not really a male issue. But one in four women are affected by this. It's not a he-said, she-said. The president's tweet was designed -- you've covered it so brilliantly. He was dealing with himself and the allegations about him in that tweet. Some of them are fake, they all need to be vetted. There has to be due process. That's totally true about inappropriate workplace misconduct and things that are he-said, she-said. Not sexual assault, not domestic abuse. He was thinking of himself but he missed big here. I think it's going to stay with him.

GREGORY: Here is what I agree with, which is eventually they may see the light to try to get this right because you really can't move past it if you don't. You've got to take your lumps that this has been the initial response, questions about, did they tell the truth or were they deceiving each other internally. It was a mess. It still is a mess. But the president is the only one who can kind of get to the place to try to put this together in a way that's solid, even if he'll be criticized for how he handled it overall.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, moving on quickly to the President's budget, it blows up the deficit. Is it now, Dana, are we seeing a realignment in terms of identity. Are the Republicans no longer claiming the moniker of the fiscally conservative or responsible party?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they can try, but it's just not believable. It really isn't. And it just goes to show, it is so much easier to claim that mantle of cut, cut, cut when you are not in control and you don't have a fellow Republican in the White House who doesn't necessarily agree with you on that.

To see the twisting and turning of so many Republicans who spent years telling us that they would not do anything, that would not vote for anything that made the Republican leadership in Congress, that made their lives very difficult because they wouldn't vote for anything that exploded the deficit or even made it a little bit worse.

And now you see, never mind, the spending bill that they passed which a lot of people said we're going to do this because it includes money for the military which is very important, and money for the victims of hurricanes which was very important.

This is different. And so with that, but the other thing I just want to mention is the fact that the President in this budget proposes cuts to entitlements which he promised up and down during the campaign he would never do, and put him at odds with a lot of his fellow Republicans. And so, that is another kind of eyebrow razor in this budget.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The question is, is this the President's party or is there a Republican Party that's led by Hill Republicans, grassroots conservatives? When Paul Ryan tried to reshape Medicare during the Obama administration, I remember being with David Plouffe when I was about to interview him on ""Meet the Press" and he was jetty (ph) in the greenroom because he thought this was an opening for them to run against Republican efforts to hurt Medicare and they did so successfully.

Republicans were not for reshaping Medicare at the time as well. So the real question to me is, does he have real allies here who got tax reform through but are not going to be on board for a big infrastructure spent or anything else that makes the deficit worse?

CUOMO: Strong point. And look, if the information serves right, the President is scanning around this morning. If he is, take the opportunity to do the right thing, Mr. President. You don't want to own this issue and be on the wrong side of domestic violence. You say cherish woman, show it. CAMEROTA: David Gregory, Dana Bash, thank you both very much. So Republican Senator David Perdue introducing an immigration bill reflecting the President visions and goals. So, can the Congress get an agreement to pass this legislation?

The President says the clock is ticking. We have Senator Perdue on live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:21:34] CAMEROTA: The Senate is debating immigration reform proposals this week. Republican have a bill they say President Trump will sign into law if it can pass both chambers. The President tweeting this morning negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal but Democrats say they want to make a deal. Wouldn't it be great if we could finally after so many years solve the DACA puzzle? This will be our last chance. There will never be an opportunity. March 5th is the deadline.

Joining us now is Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia. He is a co-sponsor of the Republican Immigration proposal. Senator, thanks so much for being here.

SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: OK, let me put up on the screen what we know to be this senator's idea for this immigration plan, this bill. A pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants on DACA, the DACA recipients. That obviously comports with the president's vision, $25 billion for border security including the wall, that's the President's vision, make it easier to detain and deport certain immigrants.

I assume that means the criminals, but you can clarify. Cuts family- based migration, what the White House refers to as chain migration, ends diversity visa lottery. So, is this going to be makes it through with 60 votes?

PERDUE: Well Alisyn, this is a historic opportunity to finally, as you say, fix this broken immigration system on the legal immigration side. That's what we're focusing on. What the President has laid out is a framework that actually both parties have supported, all of these tenets said various times in the last 30 years.

As a matter of fact, in 1994 Barbara Jordan presented a bipartisan commission report to President Clinton that actually called for some of these very things that we've included in this bill. What I hope we can do is put aside partisan politics here and get to the real issues that two-thirds of Americans want us to solve in the manner the President has laid out today.

CAMEROTA: Well yes, but, you know, look, polls it can obviously be used however you'd like to use them. Here's the latest Quinnipiac poll on funding for the border ball. Sixty-five percent oppose it, of Americans. They don't think that's a good use of Federal money.

PERDUE: Well, there's a Harvard poll out recently, several other polls out that say over 70 percent actually want more border security. But the most important number I've seen honestly Alisyn, is that two- thirds of Americans at different points in time over the last year -- we've been working on this particular idea for over a year.

And many people up here have been working for 30 years trying to fix this. But what I'm saying is over two-thirds of Americans want to see border security, they want see DACA fixed and they want to end this linkage chain migration system and of course the diversity lottery. Both sides want to end that pernicious program.

CAMEROTA: So then what's the problem? I mean, why isn't this going to go sailing through Congress?

PERDUE: Well, we'll see. I mean, I'm not sure it's not going to get bipartisan support. Now we have both sides, you know, positioning here. They'll be several on possibilities this week. But we hope to get a vote on the President's bill today. And I'm really hopeful that we'll see people on both sides of the party come and see the common sense in this approach that most Americans really want us to achieve.

CAMEROTA: Look, you've heard what Democrats say, which is that the issue of the Dreamers -- the President says this is vitally important to him. Many Republicans say that. So why not just make this about the Dreamers, how to handle that, what to do for these folks, whether you want to say 1.8, or if you want to say 800,000 whatever, settle on a number and just deal with that and don't confuse it with visa lottery and the wall and all sort of other things.

PERDUE: That's a great question Alisyn and here is the answer. First of all, let's give the President credit. We were first talking a year ago about 690,000 with temporary work permits. That's what we were talking about.

[08:25:05] The President stepped in and said look, let's solve the DACA problem once and for all, but lets also eliminate the causes of what brought these children here illegally in the first place. And that is chain migration, unsecure border and the other facets of this program that he is laid out. Will end this once and for all and that's what most people in America want. They want the DACA solution solved but they also want to end the things that cause it in the first place.

CAMEROTA: But when the President says there's a hard deadline of March 5th in the tweet that I read, that's not accurate.

PERDUE: Well, there are legal issues involved that would cause it to carry past that, of course. And look, nobody wants to create a problem with these children, are these young people. That's why the President laid out the proposal he laid out. I don't think he's been given enough credit how far he went.

Look, this is one that both sides on the extremes are going to look at and say they went too far in the other direction. But that tells me that we're pretty close to having a structure that should be done. It's a good compromise and it should be done. CAMEROTA: OK, I want to talk to you about the budget. You're on the budget committee. Is it time for Republicans to lose the identity of being the fiscally responsible belt-tightening party?

PERDUE: Alisyn, this is why I ran for the United States Senate a few years ago. There are no innocent parties now to our debt. We have $20 trillion debt, going to $21 trillion. Over the last nine years, we borrowed 35 percent of what we spend as a Federal government.

We have a budget process that's absolutely broken. The great thing about the funding bill we did last week has a clause in there that creates a select committee to fix this broken budget process. So there are no innocent parties up here.

CAMEROTA: Well listen, let me just put it up for people so they understand the staggering numbers that we're taking about $984 billion will be added to the deficit just next year, that's close to a trillion, OK? This is, I mean, if this budget is what ends up happening. That's an 89 percent increase. That's higher than what the President projected meaning it's over what he ever projected would be happening. So, how can you agree to this?

PERDUE: Well, first of all, we've had eight years under the prior administration where we added over $10 trillion to debt, right now.

CAMEROTA: And you didn't like that. And listen, I didn't interrupting because Republicans rung their hands, and I interviewed so many of them during that time where you said you can't run up the credit card, you wouldn't do it in your own house and we can't do it in Washington.

PERDUE: Alisyn, you're exactly right. Those are my words, and I stick by them. And here's what we're trying to do. First of all, there are things you can do to get at this debt crisis over the next 20 years. You're not going to solve this in ten years.

What we go to do is first grow the economy. The President moved on that last year. Second, you've to cut out redundant agencies and wasteful spending in the government. Third, you've got to fix the budget process. Four, you have to save, not cut, but save social security and Medicare whose trust funds go to zero in 14 years.

And lastly, we've better get soon after this or save or stop the revolving cost -- increasing costs of our health care, the fundamental costs causing health care costs to skyrocket. Those are the things we're trying to begin focusing on right now.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but how about not spending so much on say the military and defense?

PERDUE: Well, you tell me what's more important, protecting this country right now -- I just think after disinvesting our military for eight years we're at a point of crisis. I call this out when I ran three years ago. We have a global security crisis and we have a debt crisis. And we've gotten to the point now, Alisyn, both sides, we've gotten this country in a position where we're losing the right to do the right things, not only with military spending but domestic spending.

CAMEROTA: Right, so in other words, putting things on the credit card is fine as long as you believe in that cause?

PERDUE: Well, that's not exactly true. What I do believe, though, is there is investment spending that has to be done. I've been in big turn-around. I've been in big turn-arounds in my life in the business community. And I can tell you that you have to invest in the things that will provide an economic return.

And that's what's being done right now. Look, we've got to secure our borders. We got to secure our military and rebuild it. But there's also going to be a 20 or 30-year plan to solve this debt crisis. We're not going to be able to print money and borrow money at the rate we've been doing in the last 15 years.

CAMEROTA: Senator David Perdue, thank you very much for your perspective.

PERDUE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris?

[08:29:10] CUOMO: All right, the White House is blaming the FBI for dozens of Trump officials still lacking full security clearance. Is that fair? Is it even close to true? We have the perfect guest. A former FBI supervisory special agency who dealt with exactly this issue, next.