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Steve Mnuchin Faces Senate Hearing; Trump Arrives in Washington. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 19, 2017 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Hope you'll be effective with President-elect Trump because I understand he's calling on a freeze. I'm not sure how that coincides with your desire to make sure you have adequate personnel at IRS, but I assume that you'll have an opportunity to talk to the president and hopefully get the number of people you need because they can't do it with their current workforce.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE: I can assure you that the president-elect understands the concept of, where we add people and we make money.

CARDIN: Good.

MNUCHIN: That he'll get that completely. That's a very quick conversation with Donald Trump.

CARDIN: Right.

I want to follow up on Senator Wyden's point on a couple of issues. First, I wear another role in this -- in the Senate. I'm the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So I want to deal with these sanctions for one moment. I heard you in regards to enforcing the sanctions, particularly those that are aimed at dealing with those who sponsor terrorism. We also have sanctions against countries that are violating our international norms on Democratic principles. Russia is top on that list. And I'm going to ask you questions for the record as to your views on the current sanctions and strengthening the sanctions. We have bipartisan legislation to strengthen the sanctions, particularly with Russia's attack against America's democratic election institutions. But I want to make sure I understand. You are committed to enforcing the sanctions against Russia?

MNUCHIN: One hundred percent so. And I think the president-elect has made it very clear that he would only change those sanctions if he got, quote, "a better deal," and we got something in return, whether it was on nuclear arms or other areas. But, yes, senator, I've talked to you about this and --

CARDIN: And you -- and in response to the questions that was asked about using the IRS to make sure it's not used for partisan reasons, you will enforce these sanctions without regard to a person's party, affiliation or office? MNUCHIN: Of course. I think terrorism is the -- terrorism and

supporting terrorism and supporting illegal activities is the most important issue, and I hope that's not a bipartisan -- I hope, excuse me, that is a bipartisan issue and where there are sanctions, I assure you, you know, I will use them to the maximum amount allowable by law.

CARDIN: And I appreciate that answer. Senator Warner and I are going to be sending you a letter, if you are confirmed, to investigate the allegations that Mr. Scaramucci, who was recently named as the White House director of engagement in intergovernmental affairs and senior adviser to the president, may very well have violated the sanctions against Russia in his dealings. And I accept that you would investigate this issue to see whether there was a violation of the sanction law.

MNUCHIN: Of course. Anything that you send to me, I will either myself, or make sure that my staff, properly investigates and have your respect that I would do that 100 percent.

CARDIN: I thank you for that.

I want to follow up on the second point of Senator Wyden, which really has me concerned, and that is, you pointed out that you would treat, in your international roles, an American company that's dealing in the foreign markets, equally, even if it's a Trump enterprise entity. You're taking an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. In the Constitution of the United States, there's the emoluments clause and you have to make sure that if you're deal with the Trump entity, that it's not getting a favor in exchange for trying to influence the president of the United States or the Trump administration. So how do you go about knowing that there's no special breaks being given to a Trump enterprise if you don't have full access to that type of information?

MNUCHIN: Well, senator, let me first say, and I think we all acknowledge this, whichever side we're on, that we are in a unique situation that we have a president who has the vast amount of money that he has and --

CARDIN: We know that. And, of course, he is -- he's not -- but he's not doing what every other president --

MNUCHIN: And (INAUDIBLE) issues.

CARDIN: Every other president has done, every other president, set up a blind trust or divest. What you're doing, if you're confirmed, divesting. That's what is required. He's not doing that. So my question to you, how do you -- how do you, if confirmed, deal with compliance to the Constitution, to make sure that a Trump enterprise is not getting special treatment which would violate our Constitution?

MNUCHIN: Well, senator, let me first say, and I think this is a very important issue for the American public, so I can understand why you're asking it. But let me first say, I know that the president- elect is absolutely following the law and is committed to following the law and has set out a series of -- although it's not a blind trust, he has removed himself from his business. He has put his sons in charge of his business. He's committed that there will be no communication.

CARDIN: But is he still -- as I understand --

MNUCHIN: Excuse me one second. He's put -- he's going to hire an ethics officer. And I can assure you that in my job of Treasury secretary, whatever responsibilities I have to monitor these issues, which are very important, I can assure you that I will do.

[12:05:08] CARDIN: And -- but what you didn't answer is, and I'll -- we'll follow up with some questions, how do you determine -- make sure there isn't a break given to a Trump enterprise, which would violate our Constitution? I understand it's complying with the law, but the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

MNUCHIN: Well, as you know, I've employed lots of lawyers, but I'm not a lawyer. But the good news is, we have a big group of lawyers in the Treasury Department and a big ethics group and I can assure you that we will make sure that we absolutely follow the law and the Constitution. And I have every reason to believe that the president- elect absolutely wants to adhere to it and will do so.

CARDIN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Brown.

: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Mnuchin, thank you and thank you for the conversation in my office about tax --

MNUCHIN: Thank you for meet with me. Appreciate it.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Taxes and China and banking issues.

And start with this. Let's clear up one thing. Banks -- banks are not, your words, highly incented to do modifications for their borrowers. That's why we had a systemic breakdown. That's why so many families lost their homes and banks were forced to pay billions of dollars in fines and remediation. So put that aside. I want to talk about your situation.

I understand your defensiveness both in individual meetings, mine and others, and in this committee about what happened at One West, but let me lay this out. In 2006, businessman Donald Trump responded to a question about the possibility of a real estate crash by saying, quote, "I hope -- I hope -- I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy," unquote.

Now, you didn't just buy properties. You bought the bank. You bought the ability to help families stay in their homes. That's not what you did. So my questions are these. You've been saying that One West -- (INAUDIBLE) look at the record. I really want yes or no answers because I have a lot of questions and what I will say is factual in my view. I'd like you to confirm with yes or no.

Is it true that community groups say that One West, specifically the California -- the California -- let's see, the California Reinvestment Coalition, is it true the community groups say that One West foreclosed on 60,000 families nationwide and denied three-fourths of mortgage modification applications?

MNUCHIN: I am -- I am not aware of that. I know they've (INAUDIBLE) --

BROWN: Well, they did. They did. OK, is it true --

MNUCHIN: Well, if you know they did, then why -- why are you asking me?

BROWN: Well, because I want you to -- I want to hear it from you. If you don't know it, that tells me something too.

MNUCHIN: I don't have it from me.

BROWN: I'm going to keep interrupting because we don't have a lot of time. I apologize if you see that as rude, but this is -- this is the people's business.

MNUCHIN: I don't see that as rude. That's OK. Thank you.

BROWN: Is it true that One West regulators, that's the OCC, said that you had deficient mortgage practices foreclosed on 10,000-plus borrowers without proper procedure and at least 23 who were current on their mortgages?

MNUCHIN: So what I would say is, we followed the same procedure that the FDIC --

BROWN: Yes or no, did the OCC say that?

MNUCHIN: That the FDIC followed. We inherited the FDIC procedures --

BROWN: Yes, the OCC is separate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him answer the question.

BROWN: Is it true that One West independent audit firm said that it violated the service members civil relief act by initiating foreclosures on 54 active duty military families? That's what the independent audit firm said, yes or no?

MNUCHIN: Well, you have the document in front of you, I don't, OK, so --

BROWN: OK. Well, they do. I --

MNUCHIN: And let me just say, to the extent --

BROWN: I -- I'm pretty surprised, Mr. Mnuchin, I'm sorry, I'm pretty surprised you don't know these things because you've been rather defensive for probably good reason about what happened at One West.

MNUCHIN: I -- I --

BROWN: Is it true that the California attorneys general --

MNUCHIN: I do want to just comment for the record. We, unfortunately, did foreclose on certain people in the military. It was quite unfortunate. It was inappropriate. We responded to those people and made them whole. As I said, every single person had the opportunity to have their mortgage reviewed and we corrected any errors.

BROWN: Well --

MNUCHIN: Our errors were less than anybody else.

BROWN: Perhaps. OK, I'm going to cut you off, I apologize.

MNUCHIN: So it's not that I'm being defensive. I'm proud of our results.

BROWN: Well, I wouldn't be proud of all these findings, but is it true that the California attorney general's office said that One West back dated 96 percent of the documents they examined and then you aggressively obstructed their investigation. That's what the attorney general's office said. Did they say that?

MNUCHIN: So, first, let me comment that I sought the leaked memo as you did. I think it's highly inappropriate that somebody at the attorney general's office was leaking internal --

BROWN: So is there no truth in that about back dating 20 -- 96 percent of them?

MNUCHIN: Again -- again, what I would say is, the primary regulator was the OCC. They were the ones who had the obligation to regulate us.

BROWN: And OCC said those things that you couldn't --

MNUCHIN: And -- and, again --

BROWN: Mr. Mnuchin, I'm sorry. The OCC has said these same -- they -- they said you had these deficient mortgage practices, which you couldn't remember when I asked you about OCC.

MNUCHIN: No, that's --

BROWN: Now you're citing OCC in response to the California attorney general. Is it true that one of the employees who was in charge of the modification, one of One West employee's, has accused One West of not having any process in place to help its 3,000 FHA and VA mortgage borrowers avoid foreclosure? And that this same employee, who was in charge of modifications, has accused One West of not having a process in place to help those VA mortgage borrowers avoid foreclosures and submitting false claims?

[12:10:18] MNUCHIN: It seems to me, in all due respect, you just want to shoot questions at me and not you -- not let me explain what are complex (ph) issues.

BROWN: Well, I'll let you explain after I go through the questions because I know one answer will take my whole time, so I'll let you explain when I'm done.

MNUCHIN: Well, then let's -- let's -- let's at least understand, these are complicated questions.

BROWN: But, Mr. Mnuchin, I'm sorry, this is (INAUDIBLE). They are complicated.

MNUCHIN: Let me at least explain them otherwise there's no point in shooting them all at me and I don't have the ability to respond.

BROWN: OK. I -- you don't, but all of these are factual things, if you want to follow up with a response later in more detail. One example of a -- and you can answer this and take as long as you need. One example of an insider loan was the Relativity (ph) media deal. The FBI denied a FOIA (ph) request related to relativity meeting -- media where you were co-chair citing enforcement procedures. Have you been questioned about -- by law enforcement on this, yes or no?

MNUCHIN: I have not. And I saw that you wrote that letter yesterday. I assume that the FBI did a thorough review of my background report. I have no idea why they didn't prove the FOIA issue. I've been told that we have no reason to believe it's any issue associated with me.

BROWN: Fair enough. I'm glad -- I'm --

MNUCHIN: But you should direct -- you should direct that to the FBI.

BROWN: OK, and I will.

MNUCHIN: And when I -- when I had the opportunity to meet with you --

BROWN: I accept your answer. I accept your answer. You're not being investigated. But I find it interesting that you know about the letter I sent yesterday. The letter I sent with all those questions detailing all of the issues that I just asked about with bank -- with that Bank West, West Bank, Bank West --

MNUCHIN: One West, senator, One West.

BROWN: I'm sorry, One West, One West, I apologize.

MNUCHIN: That's all right. My father forgot the name sometimes as well. He's here right now.

BROWN: OK. But the letter I send you back in early mid-December about this, you've not even taken the time to answer, and it really laid out all of this. I think the issue is, the One West purchase went well for the treasury secretary designee but it was a disaster for homeowners, for employees, for investors in relatively and for taxpayers. We can talk more about taxpayer cost on this whole process and the amount of money that he bought it for, sold it for, but mostly subsidized by taxpayers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, senator, your time is up now. You take as much time as you want to answer the questions.

MNUCHIN: Chairman, thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

First of all, senator, I did enjoy meeting you.

BROWN: Thanks.

MNUCHIN: I don't believe we had the opportunity to meet before that time.

BROWN: We had not.

MNUCHIN: And if I'm confirmed, I look forward to spending more time with you.

BROWN: Thank you for saying that.

MNUCHIN: I know that you have some, although we may not agree on everything, there were certain things we did agree on when we met.

BROWN: Yes.

MNUCHIN: And I have a lot of respect as you as a senator to hear your issues.

Now, I did tell you -- I did acknowledge that you sent me the letter. I was advised by the staff that the appropriate thing was for me to come here and answer questions or meet with all of you independently and answer questions that you have. And if I don't satisfy that, you have the ability to submit questions afterwards, which I'll respond to. When I came to your office, I told you that and I said that I would spend as much time with you as you wanted answering those questions, that they were quite significant.

BROWN: Yes.

MNUCHIN: And, you know, because I knew they were complicated. So I did tell you, although I wouldn't respond to them in writing at that point, that I did understand your questions and I wanted to address them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Thune.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Mnuchin, welcome.

We've had -- in the last eight years, we haven't had a single year where the growth rate has exceed 3 percent and a lot of the administration, current administration, describes that as the new normal. Tell me, what do you think is a reasonable expectation in terms of the growth rate in our economy? Historically, if you go back to World War II, we've averaged about 3.2 percent a year. What do you think is a reasonable growth rate?

MNUCHIN: Hang on, I'm just looking at some of my notes. I mean the short answer is, I've said publicly and I believe that we should be able to get to 3 percent to 4 percent sustained GDP. I think that that's absolutely important. I think that, as a country, the most important issue we have is economic growth. That whatever issues we have, as Republicans or Democrats, I think we can agree that with more growth it's a lot easier to solve these issues and we should all be focused on things that help grow the economy. In 1984, we had 7 percent. In 1998, we had 5 percent. And in 2005, we had 3 percent. That was the last time we had appropriate growth rates.

So I share the president-elect's concern of low growth. Our number one priority from my standpoint is economic growth. And I can assure you, I will work tirelessly, if I am confirmed, to create growth in the economy and create pro-growth programs. And I commit to work with all of you on that.

[12:15:22] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to break away from the hearing right now. We see the family getting off this U.S. Air Force jet that has just landed outside of Washington, D.C., Joint Base Andrews. You see some of the Trump family members, the kids, the grandkids, others walking down. They're going to be heading over to a series of events here, Jake, in Washington. A series of events that will underscore the, I guess, what we could say the majesty of what is about to happen, the transfer of power to a new president.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. We see Don Jr., his family, Eric Trump, his family. There's Tiffany Trump. Other members of the presidential transition team. We expect President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence in -- at about 2:45 this afternoon East Coast Time to lay wreaths in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. And then this evening, there will be what's called the "Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial. A number of performers out on the mall for the crowd. We expect President-elect Trump will speak at that perhaps, as well.

This is truly the beginning, as of right now, you're witnessing it right now, the beginning of President-elect Trump's time in Washington, D.C., officially beginning right now as he touches base on that airplane at Joint Base Andrews, right outside Washington, D.C. He will be here for the duration.

BLITZER: Yes, he'll be walking out of this plane shortly.

Gloria, the president-elect and his family, they'll be staying at Blair House tonight, the official residence for visitors for guests from the White House. And there he comes. You see the president-elect of the United States walking down. Oh, they're going to hold on to the sides as they walk down.

TRUMP: And the future first lady, Melania Trump, walking -- walking down.

BLITZER: And Melania Trump is there as well. They're walking down. They're holding -- holding the sides as I hoped they would.

Gloria, this is a moment that -- I mean it's -- I'm sure for the Trumps themselves, it's hard to believe it's all falling into place right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, they aren't on their usual airplane, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes.

BORGER: And they're at Joint Base Andrews. And Melania Trump, who has not spent a lot of time in Washington, it must all be becoming very real for her at this moment. And so I think it's a different feeling for them as they leave Trump Air back in New York City.

TAPPER: We also don't -- we don't know, by the way, I mean Melania Trump, we know, is going to stay up in New York, at least for the end of the school year. They have a 10-year-old son Barron. So she's going to stay up in New York at least through May or June. And we actually don't know what happens after that, if she and Barron plan on spending most of their time in New York with the president-elect going up on weekends or whether she will come down and move into the people's house, the White House, Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And just I think to look at this scene, I don't care who you are, if you're used to flying on Trump Air with, you know, gold plated everything, to fly in to Joint Base Andrews, on that plane, and get out, with that carpet, and to get into that car, knowing where you're going, I mean, it's pretty remarkable. And even if you're Donald Trump, you've got to be taking it in and saying, wow, this is happening. I am now here, on the ground, headed to be the 45th president of the United States. And the fact that he got to this moment is just amazing.

BLITZER: You know, John King, tomorrow morning, there will be the official transfer before the swearing in ceremony up on Capitol Hill. The president-elect will sit down with the president of the United States and they'll have an opportunity to talk.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And partisans will view this through their prism. The Trump supporters are gleeful. The Democrats are still having sore feelings. I hope everybody takes a moment to just look at the majesty of it.

What you just saw there, the president-elect, who will be president this time tomorrow, saluting as he comes down those steps. It's a signature moment. We see it all the time. The president's getting on Marine One, getting off Marine One, on or off of Air Force One, he salutes or he waves. It will be Donald Trump for the next four years. We've had eight years of Barack Obama. Three successive two-term presidencies.

And to your point, so he will go to the -- he'll stay in Blair House tonight, across the street from the White House, the official guest residence of the White House. He'll have the coffee with the Obamas. Then they ride up to the Capitol.

There's -- we're focusing on these feisty confirmation hearings. The fight over the new Trump team. There are a lot of issues to be debated and a lot of questions about the agenda, the priorities, the speed and the -- which -- what will come first, the sequencing of the new administration. I hope everybody just -- everybody takes a few minutes to just say, this is something to celebrate. Whether you're happy or mad at the results, this is a great country. You know, we're coming into work today, they have the security barriers up everywhere. You know, you can still get your coffee, you can still go about your business. And this part should be celebrated by everybody.

[12:20:29] TAPPER: Two hundred and twenty-eight years of the peaceful transfer of power.

KING: Right. We can fight the next day. But this part, I hope everybody would just respect the process and the majesty of this and let's see how Trump grows into this. He's never been a politician. He's never been in elective office. He's never done this before. We're about to learn a lot about this man. But he should also have the opportunity, given what he's done, which is remarkable, taking offer the Republican Party, winning the presidency, but to enjoy this moment.

TAPPER: It has been a contentious transition, of course, and President-elect Trump does begin with popularity ratings that are not where he would want them to be compared to where President Obama, President George W. Bush and others have been.

But, Senator Rick Santorum, let me bring you in here. This has to be, even though we know he is a man who is not of inconsiderable self- regard, it has to be somewhat humbling for him.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can't imagine. I mean just, you know, look at the way he walked down the steps. I mean it's a -- it's a heavy moment. I mean it's just a heavy moment. And having been up on that platform for a couple of inaugurals and watching the, you know, up close the interplay between the incoming and the outgoing, it's -- it does sober you. And a lot of people say, well, Donald Trump has to do this. I think Donald Trump will, in his first few days, I think you're going to see -- I think -- we have -- I have hope that he's going to, you know, begin to sort of feel the weight even more than he has. I mean he's not -- it's not been a traditional transition. I mean it's -- now that he's here, now that he's got all of the trappings of the presidency around them, it does change you. I mean I've talked to a lot of folks about it. It does change you. And we'll wait and see. I'm optimistic. I really am optimistic.

BLITZER: Normally, once he becomes president, he wouldn't have a motorcade unless the weather is bad to go from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, outside of Washington, to the White House. They take Marine One and land on the South Lawn of the White House. He's not yet president of the United States. This is probably going to be about a 20-minute ride. The police escorted motorcade into Washington, D.C. And, of course, he'll be heading over, eventually, to Blair House, where he's going to be staying.

Angela Rye, your thoughts as we watch history unfold.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's definitely an historic moment. I think that it's been a very interesting campaign. It was run very much like a reality show, and I think it was unconventional. This populist type of president that appealed to anger, that appealed to frustration in this country, and I think capitalized on it in a lot of ways. It's also interesting to see this happening while the hearings are happening on The Hill, as contentious as they are. But he has nominated some folks who are able to withstand that pressure, and I think the pressure will certainly not let up in the coming days.

There are a lot of mixed emotions around this inauguration. Folks who are really, really excited and happy about what's to come, and folks who are lamenting the passage of time that's really gone by with the first black president serving two terms. So interesting to see and I'll be watching.

BLITZER: And, Gloria, they've said really nice things about each other, the outgoing president and the incoming president. Even yesterday they were talking about how gracious this process has been at their level.

BORGER: Well, as it should be, Wolf. And talk about this being a moment. I'm sure it was, as Rick Santorum said, a moment for Donald Trump walking down those steps. There are going to be many more. Not only is he going to have coffee with the outgoing president and his wife, but inside his desk will be a note that will be written by the current president of the United States, a personal handwritten note to the incoming president, with some advice for him about what he is about to undertake. He will also be handed the nuclear codes. And everything I've been told about that from people who have worked for presidents in the past is that that is such a sobering moment for anyone to know that those are within your reach. And I think that all of us can be in awe of the process that we are watching, which is this peaceful transfer of power that we do so well in this country, no matter how divisive the election was. We have to take a look at it and say, this is important.

[12:25:11] BLITZER: The motorcade -- the president-elect's motorcade leaving Joint Base Andrews. We're going to continue to monitor that. But I want to go back to the Senate Finance Committee hearing. Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary nominee, is in the hot seat once again.

MNUCHIN: Companies and complex securities, so I don't necessarily -- I think if we have proper regulation, a lot of the need for Title II also goes away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've run out of time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Bennet.

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks for holding this hearing. Thank you, Mr. Mnuchin, for your willingness to serve and for your meeting yesterday.

Just for clarity, so "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday, "dollar sinks as Trump talks it down." Do you believe the dollar is too strong?

MNUCHIN: Again, I believe in the short term, OK, that not -- BENNET: Would you, as treasury secretary, are we ever going to hear you say that the dollar is too strong?

MNUCHIN: As treasury secretary, I don't see it as my role, OK, commenting on the dollar on short-term movements.

BENNET: Let me -- let --

MNUCHIN: I have -- I have commented on what I believe are the long term --

BENNET: Let me ask you a different question. In 2011, due to the dysfunction in Congress, we almost failed to raise the debt ceiling here. And as a result, a rating agency downgraded our nation's debt for the first time in history. The stock market lost 17 percent of its value and didn't recover for almost a year and consumer confidence fell 22 percent in just a few months. A completely self-inflicted wound on the American economy. This unforced error hurt American's retirement savings and dealt a blow to both growth and job creation.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump suggested he could somehow refinance or renegotiate our existing debt. While he walked away from the idea initially, later in the campaign he again suggested the country could pay our creditors less than what they're due. Specifically he said, quote, "you go back and say, hey, guess what, the economy just crashed. I'm going to give you back half." He also suggested that the United States never has to default, quote, "because you print the money." Do you agree with these statements?

MNUCHIN: Senator, first of all, thank you for asking the question about the debt ceiling, which I do want to comment on because I think it --

BENNET: Good, because I've got another question that I --

MNUCHIN: I -- I think it's a -- I think it's a very important issue for all of us. And if I'm lucky enough to be confirmed, will be something I'll --

BENNET: OK, please don't filibuster. I appreciate that.

MNUCHIN: But on -- the president has made it perfectly clear, and I think it's perfectly clear, that honoring the U.S. debt is the most important thing. And that I hope --

BENNET: OK, so then --

MNUCHIN: That when we get to the point, if I'm confirmed, that we have to have the debt ceiling, that we won't go through another one of these issues, because there are certain things that I would have the power to postpone this. But I firmly believe the U.S. has the obligation to honor its debt.

BENNET: OK, then can you commit to working with the Congress to pass a clean debt ceiling? MNUCHIN: I will commit to absolutely work with the Congress, the House

and the Senate, so that we don't get to the last minute and run out of money.

BENNET: Is that a yes, you'll commit to passing a clean debt ceiling?

MNUCHIN: I don't know your technical issue of what a clean debt ceiling is.

BENNET: The debt ceiling.

MNUCHIN: But let me be clear. I would like us to raise the debt ceiling sooner, rather than later --

BENNET: That's fair enough for me. Thank you.

MNUCHIN: So that we don't run a risk of defaulting on our obligations.

BENNET: I'm grateful for that answer. That --

MNUCHIN: Thank you.

BENNET: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that the President- elect Trump's tax plan would increase the debt by $7.2 trillion over ten years. The president-elect has also proposed increasing defense spending, has said that he will not touch entitlements like Medicare or Social Security. So far he's own suggested reducing spending on nondefense discretionary spending. In 2015, as you know, nondefense discretionary spending comprised of about 16 percent of the budget, about $583 billion. This includes funding for veterans benefits, transportation, our national parks and our investments in research. So even if we didn't spend a single penny on any of these priorities for an entire year, which I would not suggest, but even if we didn't, that would only pay for about 8 percent of Mr. Trump's tax plan. Is the tax plan that increases the debt by $7.2 trillion an acceptable outcome to you?

MNUCHIN: I believe the $7.2 trillion number was the first tax plan and not the second tax plan. I believe it scored dynamic closer to two --

[12:30:01] BENNET: The first tax plan was $11 trillion. The second, I think, is 7.2.

MNUCHIN: I think -- well, then you must be referring to static and not dynamic. The dynamic number was closer to $2 trillion. But let me --

BENNET: The dynamic is $3.6 trillion.