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Trump In Ohio For Tax Roundtable; Trump And The Truth. Aired 1- 2p ET

Aired May 5, 2018 - 13:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts now.

All right, hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're waiting for President Trump to take to the stage in Cleveland, Ohio. He's speaking at a round table on tax reform following a private fundraiser launch in. We'll bring that to you live as he begins speaking.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is there in Cleveland.

All right, so might this be a little campaign style that we're usually accustomed to seeing the President in?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you said it best the last hour. You can expect the unexpected. The White House is saying that the script right now calls for a focus on tax reform and that legislation that was successfully passed, particularly by Republicans in December.

However, of course, President Trump often has a tendency to perhaps to veer off script and address other issues and other topics as well. So we certainly have to hear what happens in the auditorium that you see behind me.

Right now, President Trump is making his way here after making a couple of brief stops for some RNC fund-raisers. Access to that by reporters was denied by the White House. Certainly not unusual by this or previous administrations before as the President meet with some of these Republican fund-raisers.

But, again, the main focus and topic of conversation inside this auditorium right now will be tax reform. So a lot of policy, but that's certainly doesn't mean that politics will be absent today. This is a state that is rolling into a primary in the next few days.

And of course, one of the Republican candidates that President Trump supports, U.S. Representative Jim Renacci will be by his side as he tackles that topic today, Fred.

So we'll be watching very closely to see what exactly he decides to talk about more than just tax reform.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, we await. Thank you so much from Cleveland.

All right. A legal team in chaos or a new legal strategy for President Trump? Trump's new addition Rudy Giuliani in the spotlight this week for comments about the Stormy Daniels' payment, saying Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, and then sending some mixed messages about the timing of the payments.

The President then having to walk back some of Giuliani's comments before boarding Air Force One, Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rudy knows it's a witch hunt. He started yesterday. He'll get his facts straight.


WHITFIELD: Giuliani then releasing a statement shortly there after. In an attempt to perhaps clarify, saying this, "There is no campaign violation. The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President's family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not. My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President's knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters."

So could this all be hinting at a new legal strategy for the President? CNN Shimon Prokupecz has latest.

So do this offer clarity or more confusion?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I would say likely more confusion, Fred. Because it doesn't really address some of the stuff that he brought up certainly on Fox that Giuliani brought up. The President certainly doesn't help -- didn't help it.

I mean, it just seems like there's a lot of chaos in terms of the messaging. I think that's the question here. The President, Michael Cohen, perhaps maybe Rudy Giuliani, other attorneys, clearly know what they're dealing with here. Most of them have chosen not to say anything about this.

We know there have been new attorneys that have been brought in. There are two attorneys from Florida, the Raskins. We have not heard from them. And we're likely not to hear from them. These are kind of some of the attorneys that are working behind the scenes.

Really, Fred based on all our reporting, the issue here right now for the President is the Russia investigation. The Stormy Daniels investigation, the issue right now is for Michael Cohen. And what Rudy Giuliani did does not help Michael Cohen at all. He seems to be the figure right now in the Stormy Daniels investigation that's being conducted out of New York. And the key thing left for the President to do right now in the Russia investigation is whether or not he's going to submit to an interview with the special counsel's office. You know, yesterday, we heard him say that he wants to. And he wants it to be fair. He keeps calling the Russia investigation a witch hunt. That is part of their new strategy as well. As far as we know and based on the reporting we've done, that the new attorneys want to take a more aggressive stance against the special counsel's investigation.

They want to limit some of what the questioning is going to be. And whether or not the President actually goes and meets with the Mueller team and actually submits to an interview is really still up in the air. You know, yesterday, we had reporting that it's still 50/50. That really is, Fred, the key thing right now, for the President going forward in terms of the Russia investigation.

[13:05:11] Really the Stormy Daniels situation is out of New York. It's a Michael Cohen's situation. And at the very least, as far as we know right now, the President could be a witness in the Stormy Daniels matter out of New York, but we don't believe that he's going to be subjected to any kind of criminal liability, of course, all that could change.

But certainly as you say, the Rudy Giuliani stuff does not help, at least publicly, right. The messaging is the issue here.

WHITFIELD: And as it pertains to the Mueller investigation or it does seem as though the President was reiterating something he has said many times, that he wants to cooperate, he wants to testify, he wants to answer questions, but, he also intimated (ph) rather strongly recently to his attorneys do seem to be ruling against that. And he wants to follow the instruction of the attorneys, so --

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

WHITFIELD: Read between the lines on that one. What it sounds like, you know, not likely.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Right, you could read between the lines --


PROKUPECZ: -- that he's unlikely, but he's in a tough position because if he doesn't subject himself to a voluntary interview, there's a chance, and as we've reported that they will subpoena him.

So what does he do then? Does he go before a grand jury and plead the Fifth, you know, and there's no guarantee that his attorneys are going to be inside that grand jury with him. It is possible if the Special Counsel allows it, but there's a chance that he could be in there all alone. At least if he subjects himself to a voluntary interview, he has counsel with him, they could protect him.

In the end, you know, there was some feeling among the people that we've talked to that they will come to some agreement, you know, maybe they limit it as Rudy Giuliani has said, two to three hours, they limit the questioning. But it's still up in the air, and all of this that's going on publicly is really one sided.

We're not hearing anything from the Special Counsel's office. We're not hearing what they exactly want. All that we're hearing really is coming from the Trump side in terms of what they want and what they will subject themselves to.

So it's all really what's really amazing here, Fred in the end is it's all really up in the air. And the other important thing here is that this investigation cannot come to an end, as much as the President wants it to end, as much as maybe many others want it to end. It seems that the Special Counsel will not allow it to end until at the very least they hear from the President.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.

All right, despite his new position on Trump's personal legal team, Rudy Giuliani, and the President are old friends.

CNN's Tom Foreman has a look at the -- shall we say, evolution of Rudy Giuliani.


TRUMP: We love Rudy. He's a special guy. What he really understands this is a witch hunt. He understands that probably better than anybody.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Certainly Rudy Giuliani could understand, after all, he started his career decades ago as a crusading prosecutor.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: This country is in serious trouble domestically from the problem of crime.

FOREMAN: And he rapidly embraced the idea of hunting down white collar criminals abusing their wealth and power through inside trading on Wall Street.

GIULIANI: Both the civil cases and criminal cases help to create a deterrent impact and to stop people from capitalizing on their special position.

FOREMAN: And unprecedented drop in crime in New York City while he was mayor in the '90s and his leadership through the tumult of 9/11 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your mask on.


FOREMAN: -- would earn him a serious shot at the presidency. But today --

GIULIANI: You guys are so darn unfair to Trump. I swear to god.

FOREMAN: The former law and order champion is ripping into the very agencies and officers he built his career alongside. While he once stood with the head of the FBI pointing to plans for taking down the mob, he now seems to equate parts of the Russia probe to the work of nazi storm troopers.

GIULIANI: This is a completely tainted investigation.

FOREMAN: Never mind that fired FBI Director James Comey says the Trump team operates like a crime family.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: All focused on what is best for the boss, loyalty to the boss and not connected to any of the ethical values outside of the boss.

FOREMAN: Giuliani's take?

GIULIANI: I know James Comey. I know the president. Sorry, Jim, you're a liar, a disgraceful liar.

FOREMAN: Giuliani does know Donald Trump. And the two New York power players have been allies for 30 years. Trump supporting Giuliani's political campaigns. Giuliani praising Trump in return even joining forces for a farcical video at a media dinner.

TRUMP: I like that.

FOREMAN: And if Giuliani seems to have forgotten many of his past friends, he has no trouble remembering who is presently in charge.

GIULIANI: This is our best president in my memory.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right. So how will this new strategy in dealing with the Mueller team work out for the President?

[13:10:04] And did Rudy Giuliani's comments help or hurt the case? My political panel weighing in, next.

And we're watching President Trump's tax event in Ohio, waiting him to arrive there. We expect to see him within the next few minutes or so. We will bring you the comments live are going to happen.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. A live pictures right now at Cleveland, Ohio. Very soon, the President will be arriving there. He's attending a round table and will be talking about tax reform, talking with supporters there. He is also been on a fund-raising event throughout the afternoon as well. But, of course, when the President arrives and talks, we'll take it live. Meantime, a bombshell report in "The New York Times" claims President Trump has known for months about the hush money payment his attorney made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. This means the President was aware of the deal when he said this back in April.


[13:15:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No. No. What else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: I don't know.


WHITFIELD: It also means the President was aware of the deal when he told his press secretary to deny this back in March.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were asked about whether the President knew about this payment his longtime lawyer made to facilitate rather Stormy Daniels. You said that and again today not that you're aware of. Have you asked the President this question?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes. I've had conversations with the President about this. There was no knowledge of any payments from the President and he's denied all of these allegations.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in our political savvy panel here. Joining me right now, the Former National Southern Regional Director for the Obama campaign, Tharon Johnson, and CNN Political Commentator and Former Senior Adviser to the Trump campaign, Jack Kingston. Good to see you both.

All right. So, Jack, you first, you know, credibility, it's a big problem right now not for Sarah Sanders, but really for the entire administration because of so many different stories about whether it be these payments or the alleged affair et cetera. So, how big of a problem is this in your view for the White House this credibility issue?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's something they have to address. It goes back to a problem they had about a year ago in terms of message, discipline and communication. And that was part of the reason that Sarah Sanders became the press secretary.

WHITFIELD: So how do they address it? You said they should address it. How? KINGSTON: I think one thing they should do is make sure Sarah Sanders has good information. But the second thing, anything that's a legal matter probably should come through the legal counsel team. And I don't know that I would pick Rudy Giuliani for that position. But it needs to be somebody who can just talk straight. And here is what we're comment on, here's what we're not going to comment on. But when they make a comment, it needs to be accurate.

WHITFIELD: OK. So they were in a really -- I mean, just kind of truncate that, it means really being in the loop, because it seems as though Sarah Sanders in being asked, you know, about clarity, she was deferring to, well that's kind of what I was told back at the time. But does it mean overall that she is not in the loop, that some of the front men and women for the President are not completely in step with what the President's thinking or actions are?

THARON JOHNSON, FMR. SOUTH REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: This press secretary has a hard time, Fred. You just hit it on the nail. I mean, she is being told a lot of different things that she has to communicate to the American people.

But what we know in this whole issue of dealing around this settlement to this adult entertainment star is that I think President Trump has not been telling the truth because when asked early on, did he make a settlement payment or what a lot of people are referring to as a hush fund payment to make this story go away during his presidential election campaign, he denied it.

Now we are being, you know, given reports that he did know and his attorneys have known for months. And then here his legal team, Rudy Giuliani who I think in the last 48 hours has just torpedoes his legal defense team came out and basically totally contradicted what the press secretary was saying and President Trump.

But the ultimate issue here is, is that Trump is in charge. And when Trump decides to say whatever he wants to his team, they go out and say whatever he says at that time. I think he needs to come out and tell the truth about this payment, which many are saying are very illegal.

WHITFIELD: So, then, Jack, you know, does that really kind of, you know, underscore, even with Rudy Giuliani saying one thing earlier in the week and then he comes out with a statement yesterday saying, you know, he's only dealing with matters as he understands them.

Does this simply just underscore that the President is not being truthful with his own people, so that no matter what, you know, if your people are going out and their story seems to contradict what the President's point of view or experience is, I mean, it's no win until the President is, you know, squarely being honest himself.

KINGSTON: I think there are some issues here that we don't really know of because I have actually spoken to Michael Cohen directly about this and as I understand it, the President did not know about this payment. As I understand it, there was a retainer. You know, if your net worth is worth $1 billion to $10 billion, $130,000 is still a lot of money, but it's not what it would be for you and me, somebody like me, for example that drives an extra five blocks to say --

WHITFIELD: Yes, but this is an issue of what is a lot of money. The issue is did it happen, did it not happen --


WHITFIELD: -- no, there was an affair, yes there was, was there payment, was their reimbursement, no, maybe, and then sort of, kind of. I mean, that's what this is about. What is it?

KINGSTON: Well, I guess, what my point is, I think that Michael Cohen had a lot of discretion to handle matters and probably told the President stuff after the fact. If you're a celebrity, you're a target. A lot of people come after you and I think Michael Cohen was the guy who dealt with that.

[13:20:06] But let me say, I do believe you should have message discipline and I do believe that legal matters need to come from the legal team, not so much from Sarah Sanders. She should be talking about domestic and international political policy issues.

One thing that I do want to say is as a surrogate during the campaign is I watched Rudy Giuliani, he was almost in a different category than the rest of us were. You know, somebody like may be a total worker, be bottom of the totem pole who just followed the script. Rudy will say all kind of things, and I think, good guys, if I said that, I would be out of my volunteer job the next day.

WHITFIELD: Well, if there's that kind of volatility, I mean why would the President bring him back and then preface it with, you know, even Rudy Giuliani saying, you know, I'm going to get to the bottom of the Mueller thing and let's expedite things. I mean that doesn't say volatility, that says I entrust you, you know, you are an important cog in the wheel here.

KINGSTON: I think a lot of it is what your piece said just before the break in terms of their historic friendship. The fact that Rudy kind of is his own entity, has his own personality. And frankly, he's the kind of person that's hard to control from a communications standpoint.

I know as a member of Congress, I worked on our House Communication team. There were certain members you just could not stop them from doing what they wanted to do and Rudy Giuliani is that kind of force. And I think it's difficult to roll somebody out there on legal matters.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, Tharon, is this going rogue, you know, or is this, you know, I brought you on board because I trusted you're going to do the right thing, but then part of the problem is there are few different versions of events and everyone is not in step. JOHNSON: You know, I'm torn, Fred, because the congressman just basically laid out that this is a 30-year friendship and the congressman knows this as being a former elected official. You do not give an attorney that much power to go on national TV to speak about a case that could consequently be the end of your presidential career. But then I think that is also a distraction.

One thing that this administration does very well is they know how to distract us from what's really going on, because as you pointed out, we also have a Russian investigation going on. And at a time when Donald Trump is supposed to be in Ohio talking about tax reform and it's an economy that he's taken a lot of credit for that we know President Obama had a great deal to play a part in, is that he's now talking about whether or not he had a relationship with an adult entertainment star or not.

But the other thing that I think is really key in this whole thing is what you see now from the Republicans, and Jack just said this, is that now they're trying to blame Rudy. You know, Rudy was this revered presidential candidate once upon a time. He was strong on criminal justice reform and things like that. But now they are actually trying to attack Rudy and throw him under the bus. And if that talked to Michael Cohen --

WHITFIELD: Even the President did that.

JOHNSON: Yes. But to your point, though, if Rudy was so bad and if he was such a terrible unhinged attorney, then why did you hire him to come on to represent you in this case and more importantly, let him go on national TV to speak on your behalf?

WHITFIELD: OK, we'll leave it there for now. Tharon, Jack, thank so much. Appreciate it.

KINGSTON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We're also noticing there's a little movement in the room there in Cleveland. So perhaps soon, the President will be arriving and of course we'll bringing his comments live. Yes, he is to talk of tax reform but, as we know, anything could happen. We could choose to talk about something else. We're on it and we'll bring it to you.

Meantime, a federal judge levels sharp criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team in the case against former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The judge skeptical of just how much leeway investigators should have. What his criticism, the judge's criticism could mean for the special counsel, next.


[13:28:23] WHITFIELD: All right, live pictures right now in Cleveland, Ohio. At any moment now, we understand, President Trump will be joining the folks on stage there and talking tax reform. That's the plan for today, telling tax reform, following his legislation going into effect this year. And of course when it happens, we'll take you there live. All right, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is facing new criticism not just from President Trump but also criticism coming from a courtroom. A federal judge in Virginia is presiding over the bank fraud case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But that judge seems skeptical of the special counsel's intentions following a hearing on Friday. CNN's Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider has more.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Virginia seemed to reprimand the special counsel's team in their case against President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. So federal judge, T.S. Ellis, he even lost his temper at times on Friday morning while he expressed his doubt that the special counsel is acting within its scope or even properly following its main date.

Now remember, Paul Manafort is facing 18 counts, including bank fraud in federal court in Virginia. That's on top of the --

WHITFIELD: All right, so we've got to interrupt that Jessica Schneider piece there. We'll get back to that.

Meantime, President Trump arriving there in Cleveland, joining the stage there. Among the folks on stage, I understand, the labor secretary is also there. But the President is expected to talk about tax reform. He has been long considering it a big victory in his year and a half in office now. And there he is, let's listen in.

[13:30:08] TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much. It's a great honor to be here. This was the -- thank you. So many of those beautiful hats. We love those hats.

Remember, you have to win the great state of Ohio. And did we win the great state of Ohio, by the way. And I always say this, how are we doing now compared to the election? And so far the answer is always been better or much better every place. So we're doing great.

And we just had a couple of meetings with some of the folks. I'll tell you what, we have great, great people in this state. This is a very, very special place.

This is a little bit of a business roundtable today. We're going to be talking with Secretary Alex Acosta, Congressman Jim Renacci, who is, as you know, running for the Senate. We need his vote very badly. He'll be fantastic. I've known him for a long time.

I've known Jim for a long time. And he agrees with what we're doing and he agrees -- you look at the steel plants and steel mills are starting to open again.

I just left the President of United States steel. He said it's incredible what's happening. And, you know, we did a thing called tariffs and we did it on steel and aluminum. And we're doing a lot of other things.

My group just got back from China. We're going to have to rework trade with China because that's been a one-way streak for decades and we just can't have it happen. And so we'll do that, and we have a lot of respect for President Xi and we have a lot of respect for China but we can't go on that way. And that will all work out.

We're doing very well on, as you know, North Korea. We'll see what happens but we have a meeting setup. We have the location all done. We have the time and place all finished now. We have the date, and so I think that will be something very special.

If you remember, we were into that others from the administration. We're saying that's going to be the toughest problem and certainly it's a problem. There are many problems and we'll get solved.

We had -- we broke 4% yesterday. You saw that. First time in -- you know, there are two ways of saying it. You could say first time in 20 years or first time in the century. And we really, we're doing great from that standpoint.

And we want to get our workers back. We to get our -- we want to make our product here. We want to make everything here. This is America first now, folks. This is now America first. It's enough. What we've been doing for the last long period of time, long period of time. This --

Thank you. We have Make America Great Again. We have American First. You can choose whichever you want or you can choose both. I really want to choose both.

But the choice is America first because we really -- and by the way, other countries they put themselves first, OK. I'm not saying, you know, we've had where we talked about America. Well, the fact is, we want to be first. We're going to make our country great.

And you know what, people from other countries they going to do what they have to do. But we're going to bring it to a level playing field right now. You look at our trade deficits with every country, virtually. I mean, I don't even have to ask. I don't have to go around, how we doing with this country or that country.

For the most part, almost every time, we're doing badly. We have deficits with everybody. And don't let anyone ever tell you that trade deficits are OK. They're not OK. They're not OK.

We have massive trade deficits with China. We have massive trade deficits with Mexico. Who would think $100 billion trade deficit with Mexico? Who would even think that? And that doesn't include lots of other problems. You see that on the border.

I really thought they'd be much tougher and better to us on the caravan. Didn't quite work out but that's OK. That's OK. It's going to end up working out.

Our borders are and our laws are a mess. Our immigration laws are a disgrace. And Mexico has some of the toughest immigration laws in the world. You can't just go into Mexico. But they allow these people to come up through Mexico and come into our country. And they know that our laws are so weak that once they get up there, it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. You've seen catch and release. You catch them and then you release them, OK? That's what it is. Catch -- this is a Democrat rule.

Sherrod Brown. This is a Democrat rule. Catch and release. You catch them, you release them. And just to show how ridiculous, we have judges, we have thousands of judges. Do you think other countries have judges?

[13:35:07] We give them, like, trials. That's the good news. The bad news is they never show up for the trial, OK? So they release them and they have a trial. They're supposed to take place in a year. A year, not the following day. But that's OK.

There's only one problem. Nobody ever shows up. They're in the country. Welcome to the United States. And these are the laws that we're suffering with. This is why you'll see and the wall we have to build. How about the wall where everyone scales the wall?

Now, we are fixing and building walls now but we need much more money. We're doing the job. We're going to do the job. And we may have to close up our country to get it straight because we either have a country or we don't. And you can't allow people to pour into our country the way they're doing. You just take a look at that mess that's on television right now. It is a total catastrophe. And these are the laws passed by Democrats so that we have open borders. They want open borders.

We have to have borders. If you don't have borders, you don't have a country. So we're going to have them step by step. We've made a lot of progress and we're going to be making a lot of progress on that, too.

And we have actually -- you know, it's very interesting, in San Diego, they wanted a wall built. We have the money to build a wall. We are actually -- you know we got $1.6 billion for fixing and building.

But in San Diego, California where we have a lot of problem, you know, we have a governor that's not cooperative. Wants to have, you know, between sanctuary cities and let people come in with open borders and everything else. It's not easy for our border patrol people. It's not easy for our ICE people.

How about the mayor of Oakland where she notifies them ICE will be coming. So everybody splits up, and this was a well-orchestrated situation. She notifies them that ICE will be coming and everybody splits up. So all of that work and all of that everything to do what they had to do, it turned out to be a big bust. It's very, very sad.

And let me tell you, that's called obstruction of justice. You want to know? That is called total obstruction of justice. So we're getting it straightened out. It will be straightened out soon.

We pass the biggest tax -- if you look, I mean, you take a look at the tax -- I call it the tax cut plan. You know they wanted to call it the tax reform plan. I say, "How come since Reagan nothing has passed? Having to do with tax cuts?" How can -- and being a non- politician, I'd say, "How is it possible not to be able to pass tax cuts?" They said, "Well, it hasn't happened since Ronald Reagan anywhere near what we're doing."

But essentially tax cuts, even at a small level. I said, "I don't understand, you're going to reduce taxes for people and you can't get votes?" They say, "No, sir." I say, "How? I can't figure it out." Then I found out, they don't call it tax cuts. They've called it tax reform.

Well, tax reform might mean your taxes go way up. It could mean a lot of bad things. So I said, "Here's what we'll do. We're going to call this plan the tax cut plan." Tax cut. C-U-T, tax cut. We're going to cut taxes. We're not going to reform -- we're going to reform, too, but we're not going to reform. We're going to cut taxes.

So, I was -- I couldn't believe it. I couldn't because I looked and I studied like four or five attempts and they failed miserably. So they called me up, you know, what to do. "Sir, what's the official name you'd like on the bill?" I want it to be called -- this is true, they didn't want to do it. They though there's a little hope here and I think they were right, but I want it to be called the tax cut, cut, cut, cut, cut plan. I actually did, I would have put it in. I would have put it in. You know that, Charlie?

And they said, that's a little, you know, in front of the United States Congress. I said, all right, so we'll call it the tax cut and jobs plan. And we did that, and we got it passed, and it's the first time, the biggest in our history.

And the stock market since the election, the stock market is up almost 35%. Think of that, almost 35%. And honestly, and companies are doing even better than that. Companies are doing better. They are ready to just do numbers that you've never seen before.

And we do need people coming into our country. You know, at 3.9% unemployment, we need people coming in. But I will tell you this. We want people to come in to our country on the basis of merit. Not picked out of a -- so we're working on merit systems because we need people to help.

[13:40:05] You know, we have up in Wisconsin, we have Foxconn coming in. That's a friend of mine. They make many of the Apple iPhones and Apple equipment. And I said to Tim Cook, who's now investing $350 billion Apple and they're bringing much of it in from foreign lands, from overseas. They're bringing it in because of our new tax plan, because it gave them the incentive to bring money. So these big companies are bringing the money back and they're investing it in the United States. Tim Cook is bringing it $230 billion back from overseas. Money you would have never seen. And Apple's spending $350 billion on new plants and a campus. So it's great. It's great.

So we have a lot of things happening. And in Ohio, you know what's going on, the auto companies are starting to come back, they're starting to expand. I had -- it was so nice, I was greeted at the airport by great people. And some of them were coal miners. And one of them said -- they're dressed in beautiful -- actually, a black shirt, I said, Give me one of those. I want to wear that if I have to play golf. I wear that shirt, it's beautiful. It was beautiful, actually.

But they're proud, and there were four of them. And they were standing. They greeted me off the airplane. There were a lot of people waiting at the airplane. And I went over, they said, "Sir, we're coal miners. And since the day you got elected, we've been filling up the trains." I said "What do you do?" He said, "We load trains." I said, "Well, that's a good description. I mean, I don't need better than that. That says it all." So we load trains. And from the day you got elected, we've been loading trains. Before that I said, 'How was it?" They said, "Not good. There wasn't too many trains to be loaded."

But he said, "I haven't had a day off since the day you got elected." And that's happening. That's going to be happening even more so.

So when it's all together and when everything is really set and it's really going well, it's going much better than people even understand. Our military, we got $700 billion. I didn't like having to do this last budget because there's a lot of things that the Democrats put in that I hate. But I had to get money for our military. Our military was depleted. We weren't getting the new equipment. You all see the same stories I do.

And we needed help. And I got $700 billion then I got $716 billion. And, remember, that equipment is all made here. It's made in the United States. We make the greatest missile systems, the greatest planes. We make the greatest military equipment and a lot of other equipment, including commercial planes.

But we make the greatest military equipment in the world. You got to see that recently when you saw what we did in Syria where they said, "Oh, we shot down 40 missiles." I don't think so. I called up I said, "How many were shot down?" None, none, stealth missiles, it's called stealth missiles.

And every single one we shot 109 and we had 109 hit their target. And by the way, France and the U.K was great. They helped us, they were with us all the way, and we appreciate that. But we make the greatest equipment in the world. But we had to fix our military.

We also wanted something that has a tremendous impact on Ohio is the Opioid disaster. Drugs generally, but the opioid, we got $6 billion for opioid prevention and work and rehab and we need help. We need help. And we're very, very tough.

One of the reasons we want the strong borders, a lot of the stuff comes in from different places but it comes in from Mexico. It comes along the southern border. And we're stopping it. We're making it much tougher. But we can't do that unless Congress gives us the tools that we need.

We have to get rid of catch and release. We need strong, strong tools. We don't want the lottery system. We want a merit system. Can you imagine a lottery system? Can you imagine we take people based out of a lottery? A lottery? You think the country's putting their finest in the lottery? I don't think so. I don't think so. All right. Think about that.

And, you know, the problem is that these beliefs are so deep-seated in the Democrats, like a Sherrod Brown. They're so, I mean, you have to -- we need the votes. Jim will be -- you know the big lottery system (INAUDIBLE). OK. Otherwise I'd have to take away my voices (ph) all the way and say "Jim, I can no longer endorse you, Jim."

No, we want a merit. We want a merit system where they come in based on merit. So we're going to get a lot of things done. We have a lot of great people running. I think we're going to do very well in the midterms. The poll numbers are, you know, pretty good.

The question is whether or not -- they actually say that I'm popular. Can you believe it? Of course the fake news doesn't say. The fake new. No, there has been, you know, we've been doing very well.

[13:45:06] We just had a poll, 51 or 52 and which came out, you know, very nicely. And then I turn on, like, you know, one of the networks and I see "Donald Trump, who's not very popular", and say "What are you talking about?" Right? You saw the poll came out that I'm above Obama, above Obama.

And then -- no, but then you turn to the fake news and they go, "Donald Trump, who's not very popular", and I'm saying to myself, "How do they get away with it?" You know, I'm not saying, "Hey, it's going good, we're doing well."

It actually amazes me when you can be a 51 or 52 on a poll that was very -- this was Rasmussen and it was very accurate for the election. One of the more accurate polls for the election. And you're in that category. And you get nothing but bad publicity.

I mean, I get nothing but bad publicity. I say, "How is it possible that I can do that? Now, it's fake publicity." And some of the, you know, some of the -- I have to tell you, there's some great professionals too in that world. You know, I don't want to make it like everybody.

But the amazing thing is the people are smart. They get it. You see the jobs. Now you have choice too just like we're getting the Veterans Choice, we're going to have that very soon, by the way. You're going to have choice of jobs, of jobs.

You know, people would have one job and they were petrified to leave their job. They didn't want to leave their job because they didn't think, you know, they were, you know, working at -- you got to love what you do. You're not going to be good at it. You're going to love it. And now you're going to have choice because there are a lot of jobs. We have a lot of job openings. And people that weren't hiring for years and years and years all of a sudden we have jobs.

And you know, one of the folks that my people were so impressed with is on my left is Sharlene. And I'd like to ask some of the people up here to just talk a little bit about what the tax cuts have meant because the tax cuts have helped so many people in such a big way. And Sharlene, do you think I could start by maybe asking you to say a few words? Huh?


TRUMP: Thank you, darling, thank you. Go ahead.

THORNTON: Well, Mr. President, it's a privilege and an honor to be here today.

TRUMP: Thank you.

THORNTON: My name is Sharlene Thornton. And I'm originally from Maine. And I moved out here to the Ohio Valley in 2002.

The reason I'm here is because I wrote a letter to you and didn't really think it was going to be read, but it was. They're listening. So the subject of my letter was to let you know that this tax cut and jobs plan was affecting us positively. We also wanted to let you know we were here supporting you.

TRUMP: Thank you.

THORNTON: My husband, Kevin, was -- he worked in the steel mill, and it closed down in 2012 due to the company going bankrupt. So he was then -- there were a lot of people who actually lost their jobs at that time. Our whole area was saturated with unemployed. And then he spent the next 1 1/2 years retraining and then at the same time searching for a job. Fortunately, I was employed for one of those years, the first year of it.

I then became legally blind and could no longer work, couldn't drive. And we have no transportation, public, in our area.

Also, so essentially what happened was we fell on such hard times that we had to surrender a car to be repossessed. We almost lost our home. And then we struggled every day to make ends meet. We basically lived off of my credit cards and both of our unemployment, which still wasn't enough to cover.

Finally, he found a job of January of 2014. He's still with them. But because of the tax cut and the job plan, they're taking out a lot less taxes than what they had been prior to before. We have actually seen in several checks $200 to $300 less taxes then what they did before the plan.

And that's -- those are real numbers. I actually went back and looked at his income and the taxes before and after and I was amazed. So it really is working. So I do want to thank you, Mr. President --

TRUMP: Thank you as well.

THORNTON: -- for making our lives a lot less more enjoyable.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

THORNTON: And this is my husband Kevin.

TRUMP: Kevin, would you like to say something?


TRUMP: Thank you.

KEVIN THORNTON, OHIO VOTER: First of all, thank you, Mr. President, for inviting us, giving us the opportunity to tell you our story.

[13:50:09] I've been a lifelong resident of Hubbard, a small city, just northeast of Youngstown. And in 2000, I started working for what would be known as RG Steel. I stayed there until it's closing in June of 2012. They told us all to go home. The mill had gone into bankruptcy. Fifty days later, the mill was sold for scrap.

All of us that worked there, we loved that place, we really did. But we were all deeply impacted. There were 700 of us. We all lost our jobs. I was out of work as she had said for a year and a half. And there was a brief period in time where we went with no income at all, no pay check, nothing coming into us.

But thankfully, thankfully, in January of 2014, I found employment with the current company I'm working with and it's a great company too, with great people and a room for us to always expand and grow.

I had to drive an hour and a half to one of their facilities and I that for three years, until I was able to our facility closer to home. And that took off the burden for me.

The company I'm employed has been seeing huge amounts of demand for their product. They have this tax cut that we're having is enabling them to purchase new machinery, open up building they previously had closed and to hire more people. And I didn't think that I would ever be able to say this in my life, but I think I can now. At this rate, I think I'll be able to be gainfully employed until my retirement.

TRUMP: Good. Good. Thank you. Thank you, Kevin. Thank you.

I've been hearing that from steel companies and in particular from U.S steel, where I was with the president as I said, and he -- they're just talking about opening plants now, and so many things have changed and that's because of or stance and also on the tariffs, the 25% tariff on steel, 10 % on aluminum, plus it gives us that right now other countries want to negotiate with us because of it. And we're seeing things happening now.

Again, we're going to take care of our people. We've been taking care of a lot of the world and they never appreciated it. A lot of this world never appreciated what we do. We fight wars for them and we fight all sorts of things. And then they take advantage of us on trade on top of everything else.

So, we're going to keep a lot of friends, but they're going to respect us again. And they've started to respect us again and that makes me feel very good. So, thank you, Kevin.


TRUMP: Thank you.

SHEELY: -- for having us here today and I'm truly honored. I'm Sherry Sheely, COO of Sheely's Furniture and Appliance and we we're located in North Lima, Ohio just south of Youngstown. We've been in business for 66 years, we're family-owned and operated, second generation. We have 148 awesome employees, several are here today. And we do an annual sales volume of $34 million.

It's because of the dedication and hard work of our employees that Sheely's are the number one independent furniture retailer of America awarded a few years ago.

Thank you.

I would like to recognize my husband Dale Sheely sitting here in the front row, he is our President. It was his father who started the company in 1952 with a pickup truck and a hot water heater.

TRUMP: That's great.

SHEELY: I mean, Sheely's furniture, I believe is truly the American Dream success story. And I have to say that immediately upon your relaxation which Dale and I were more relate that you can imagine.

TRUMP: Thank you.

SHEELY: We chose to move forward with an addition to our showroom. We had contemplated that for seven or eight years, didn't feel it was the right time, but we felt with your strong leadership that now is the time to reinvest in our company. So, in the next two weeks, we're going to be opening our new bargain bonus center.

TRUMP: Great.

SHEELY: And everyone at the store is very excited.

TRUMP: That's great. That's great. Thank you.

SHEELY: So, thank you very much.

TRUMP: Thank you. That's great.

SHEELY: And then we were more excited when your tax cut bill --

TRUMP: Right.

SHEELY: -- passed in December. And at that time, Dale and I wanted to reward all of our employees. We decided to wait a few months so it would be a surprise. So in March of this year, we awarded all of our full time employees a $1,000 bonus and all of our part time employees a $500 bonus. Trump: Great.

[13:55:14] SHEELY: And I must say Mr. President, they were so excited, it was totally unexpected. We had several employees who got so emotionally cried. Just Thursday, one of our delivery drivers came into my office and said, "Sherry, I have to tell you. I thank you again for my $1,000 bonus. I was going to use it to do repairs this summer, but I chose to do something different." And he said I just put a $1,000 down payment on a vacation that I'm taking my family on the summer.

TRUMP: That's good.

SHEELY: So, that means a lot to Dale and I.

TRUMP: That's great. Thank you, Sherry. That's beautiful. Thank you. Sherry (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.

SHEELY: I do want to thank you for everything you're doing for this country. I want to encourage you to stay in the course. And if you ever have any time of any kind of discouragement, I want you to realize that there is millions of Americans across this country like my husband and I who pray for you, your family, your safety.

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, Sherry.

SHEELY: Thank you. And thank you for making furniture great again, and thank you for making America great again.

TRUMP: All right. Thank you very much. That's great. Thank you, Sherry.

SHEELY: And I'd like you to hear from one of our employees.

TRUMP: Yes, thank you. Thank you, so nice.

CHANTELL STRAWHECKER, EMPLOYEE OF FURNITURE COMPANY: Mr. President, my name is Chantell Strawhecker. I've been with Sheely's for 22 years as a furniture sales associate and designer. I'm also a very proud daughter of a coal miner. My husband, Mark, and I live in Indian Valley, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour north of Pittsburgh. And we have two amazing children. Our daughter Brittany is 23. She's a nurse aide at a local nursing home. And one of your biggest fans, our 17-year-old son Dylan (ph) who graduates this year.

When Sherry asked if I wanted to come, she knew how much Dylan (ph) respected you and so she did invite him also. So, he is very excited to be here.

Our health insurance comes through my husband's employer. And before Obamacare we had no premiums, we had no deductibles. Once Obamacare came into effect, my husband's employer which is a small company was unable to cover the premiums any longer. So, we now have very high premiums and also higher deductibles.

Last year we had two medical situations involving my son and then later on in the year my husband that required several days in the hospital. And my husband actually has more surgeries coming. And with the bonus that you made possible, we were able to pay down some of our medical bills.

So I just really want to thank you Mr. President and the Sheely's for making that possible for our family.

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

You know, you mention Obamacare, it's been a disaster. And we are -- we actually had it beaten except for one vote. You remember that beautiful night. There was -- it was defeated, but one vote change, they change, but one of those things. But we've actually done a great job because in the tax cut plan we got rid of the individual mandate taking the most unpopular part (ph).

And now we're going to be doing other things like association health insurance. And we have our great Secretary of Labor who is in charge of that. And I guess over the next few weeks, we're going to have a very, very big announcement on health care. We have a few of them because Alex Acosta also is going to be making a big step. And so, by the time we do these various plans that we're doing and they're fantastic for people and they cost the government relatively little, and maybe I could ask Alex Acosta to say a few words about it, Secretary of Labor.

ALEXANDRER ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY: Mr. President, thank you. And so, you know, the story that you shared with us, is a story we've heard from so many Americans. There are 11 million Americans and their families that work for small businesses that can no longer afford health care. And that a big, big problem, right?

And so, one of the things that folks don't know is that Obamacare puts a greater burden on small businesses than on corporations. And so, the President's vision is, is there a way that small businesses can band together so they can just get the same access to health care as the big corporations.