Return to Transcripts main page

WOLF

Trump, Japan P.M. Hold News Conference; Interview with Sen. Mazie Hirono. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired February 10, 2017 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:00:00] SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN: The world over is faced with increasing uncertainty that United States will become a great America and become a great, strong ally will be good for Japan and for Japan and U.S. alliance to be further strengthened with the, not only for two nations, but also contribute to the peace and prosperity of Asia- Pacific, and the United States to become greater, we will welcome that.

TRUMP: Thank you. I will say that -- and you've seen it. Every since I won the election and became President-elect, I've been telling companies, car companies and other companies, many companies, come back into the United States, and they've been coming back in. And big announcements are going to be made over the next short period of time. Some of you already know what those announcements are. We've lost a lot of our factories, a lot of our plants and those factories and those plants will be coming back, and jobs will be coming back to Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and North Carolina and so many other places, where we've lost so many jobs. And, those are the people that were so good to me and now I'm being good to them. So, we've had a tremendous number of announcements. We've had Ford and General Motors and many, many others, Intel, yesterday made a major announcement and they did that because of what is happening with our tax structure which is going along very well.

And we'll be having some very big news over the next short period of time, but we are a nation of tremendous potential and the expression make America great again, I will tell you, and I will add very strongly, with great assurity. It will be greater than ever before. And I just want to thank the Prime Minister for a friendship, you know, we developed a great friendship when we met in New York City, at Trump Tower. We spoke for a long, long period of time and when I greeted him today at the car I was saying, I shook hands but I grabbed him and hugged him because that's the way we feel. We have a very, very good bond, very, very good chemistry. I'll let you know if it changes, but I don't think it will.

So I just want to -- I just want to thank the Prime Minister for being here. We're going to be meeting your wife in a very short period of time and I look very much forward to that. And, I want to thank everybody in the room. We're going to have a tremendous relationship, long term relationship of mutual benefit with Japan. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. Yes, certainly. OK. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I have a question for President Trump. Obama administration under the rebalance to Asia have emphasized Asia, but China is taking hard line stance in South China Sea, as well as China Sea. And North Korea has went on and on with the missiles and nuclear development. So some countries in Asia are concerned over commitment of United States in Asia. So, (inaudible), as was mentioned earlier, for the Trump administration before the situations in Asia, how would you respond to the increasing difficulty here? And President, you have repeatedly stated about China taking on the currency, foreign exchange policies which are not good for the United States. Do you think that eventually it will change in the future?

TRUMP: I had a very, very good conversation, as most of you know, yesterday, with the President of China. It was a very, very warm conversation. I think we are on the process of getting along very well and I think that we'll also be very much of a benefit to Japan. So, we had a very, very good talk last night and discussed a lot of subject. It was a long talk and we are working on that as we speak. We have conversations with various representatives of China. I believe that, that will all work out very well for everybody, China, Japan, the United States and everybody in the region. As far as the currency devaluations, I've been complaining about that for a long time. And I believe that we will all eventually and probably, very much sooner than a lot of people understand or think, we will be all at a level playing field, because that's the only way it's fair. That's the only way that you can fairly compete in trade and other things. And we will be on that field and we will all be working very hard to do great for our country. But it has to be fair and we will make it fair.

I think the United States is going to be an even bigger player than it is right now by a lot when it comes to trade. A lot of that will have to do with our tax policy, which you'll be seeing in the not-too- distant future. We'll have an incentive-based policy much more so than we have right now. Right now, we don't even know -- nobody knows what policy we have. But we're going to have a very much incentive- based policy. We're working with Congress, working with Paul Ryan, working with Mitch McConnell, and I think people are going to be very, very impressed.

We're also working very much, and this has a lot to do with business, on healthcare, where we can get great healthcare for our country at a much reduced price both to the people receiving the healthcare and to our country because our country is paying so much, and Obamacare as you know, is a total and complete disaster. So we're going to end up with tremendous healthcare at a lower price and I think people are going to be extremely happy. Difficult process, but once we get going, and you know Tom Price was just approved a few hours ago, so we finally have our secretary and now we get down to the final strokes.

Again, I want to thank everybody for being here. I want to thank Mr. Prime Minister, what an honor, what a great honor it is. And let's go to Florida.

(APPLAUSE)

[13:37:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapping up a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House. As far as the president is concerned here, he says, specifically, as far as the proposed travel ban against seven mostly Muslim nations, the president said the U.S., his administration, in his words, "Will continue to go through the court process and, ultimately, I have no doubt we'll win that particular case."

Gloria, that's one headline out of here. He also said that he has new security measures that he will announce as early as next week to make Americans safe.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's unclear. We're not sure at this point what he is referring to. Is he -- is he going to rewrite his executive order and continue to take his case through the courts? What is he going to do? Is he going to take it to another court and not the Supreme Court? We really didn't get any specifics here from the president on this.

I might also add here that, number one, he seemed to be trying to end this press conference kind of a couple of times. And the only American outlets that were called on were owned by Rupert Murdoch. They were FOX Business and "New York Post." That has happened time and time again in the press briefings we see in the -- from the briefing room. There's sort of "first among equals here," and so no questions were asked, I might also add about General Flynn, which is a very hot topic right now.

BLITZER: With national security.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's shocking that nothing is asked on that. The president is clearly upset with what transpired with regard to General Flynn.

The original point, and I think the headline that will continue to be fleshed out throughout the afternoon, he talked about we'll be doing rapidly, President Trump said, with regard to our security. That sounded to me like something separate with the executive order.

BLITZER: Let me play the clip because he was asked in that first question about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that was a major setback for the president and his advisors. Listen to how he responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to keep our country safe. We are going to do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe. We had a decision which we think will be very successful with. It shouldn't have taken this much time. Because safety is a primary reason, one of the reasons I'm standing here today, the security of our country. The voters felt that I would give it the best security. So, we'll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country. You'll be seeing that sometime next week.

In addition, we will continue to go through the court process and, ultimately, I have no doubt that we'll win that particular case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY: I wonder, Wolf, whether what he's speaking of there, are there other unilateral things he can do through executive order, through the Homeland Security Department, around immigration, in tighter vetting controls while he's still trying to win this case that has to do with refugees and --

(CROSSTALK)

[13:40:16]BLITZER: It sounds like a double-pronged approach.

Jeff Zeleny, our senior White House correspondent, is there in the East Room of the White House.

Jeff, what's your understanding -- I know you are speaking to top aides -- of the next step in this process in dealing with this travel ban?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president did not tip his hand, if you will, to what those next steps are. Frankly, because I am told they are still, indeed, deciding what those are. There is one school of thought inside the White House and at the Justice Department, they should give a new executive order, essentially write the executive order that he signed two weeks ago, today, and go forward that way. But there are others arguing that that would be a sign of weakness, and that also may be a challenge in the courts as well. So, the president said he will have something next week. Do not look for any decision yet this afternoon. His legal team here and at Justice will be working throughout the weekend.

But I was struck also that the president talked again, as he had earlier this week, about what he sees as the rising terror threat. He says he has seen things that no one else has seen. And he is conflating this, yet again, to why this executive order is needed. But he did not give any specifics, of course. His aides say there is a steady threat, but there is nothing new necessarily here. But the president not tipping his hand at all.

Wolf, one other things, just being inside the room here, it was clear to us that, with the opening statement of this, the president was standing there, but not able to understand likely what the prime minister was saying because he did not have his translator ear piece in. Several members of his staff and the vice president didn't either. It wasn't until after that, after the questions got going that they seemed to realize that had these translator devises here. So the president was laughing at the jokes at the beginning about playing golf and other things, but he seemed to be following the cues of some advisors who had these ear pieces in. But after, you know, the session went on, he did put his in.

And there is definitely a warm relationship, without a question. They're going to spend the weekend together down at Mar-a-Lago.

BLITZER: And the tradition is two American reports ask questions and two Japanese -

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- foreign leader, foreign reporters ask questions. That's precisely what happened. Although, the president tried to end it earlier. I think he didn't know, maybe he didn't know there was another Japanese reporter who was scheduled to ask a question.

All right, Jeff, stand by.

Elise, I'm going to play the sound byte where the president painted a very, very frightful picture based on the national security briefings he is receiving of the threats facing the American people. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I feel totally confident that we will have tremendous security for the people of the United States. We will be extreme vetting, which is a term that I developed early in my campaign because I saw what was happening. And while I've been president, which has been for a short period of time, I've learned tremendous things that you could only learn, frankly, if you were in a certain position, namely president. And there are tremendous threats to our country. We will not allow that to happen, I can't tell you that right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's, Elise, a marked contrast from what the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told our Jim Sciutto only yesterday. Remember, today is three weeks exactly to the day when he was inaugurated and became president of the United States. He said specifically, "There are tremendous threats to our country. We will not allow that to happen."

Listen to what Clapper, General Clapper, told Jim Sciutto.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Does the terror threat necessitate the ban for these seven countries?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTION, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: I don't believe we in the I.C. were aware of extraordinary threats that we weren't already dealing with.

SCIUTTO: Does a ban like this, does if damage U.S. image, but also counter terror partnership?

CLAPPER: Yes. I do worry about those countries in question, with whom we do deal and who are reliable partners.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Until three weeks ago, he was the director of National Intelligence, what, for about six and half years, privy to the most sensitive intelligence information, most highly classified intelligence information. He offers a pretty different assessment than what President Trump just offered.

[13:44:47] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He said the only -- you only are president to have this type of information. Several weeks ago, President Obama was the president, getting that daily press briefing of the threats, and you would -- one would assume that his director of National Intelligence would tell him about those threats, and he would have taken action, if he needed to.

Also, listen to the evolution of this. Originally, this was called, on the campaign, a Muslim ban. Then there was a lot of backlash of that, and that became extreme vetting. Then it came down to the seven countries. And if you remember, earlier in the week or last week, President Trump said, "I was thinking about waiting a week or two. I didn't want it to be so chaotic, but my advisors told me, no, we have to do this right away."

You just heard Jeff Zeleny say that some of his aides say it's not so necessary. It's creating this kind of fear and this, you know -- reminds me of this movie, "Our Brand is Crisis," that there's a crisis happening in this country, and we have to save it right away. However, the intelligence, from what we're talking -- hearing from officials, and what the previous administration does and members of Congress who are seeing the same intelligence, is not adding up.

BORGER: That was the campaign strategy. The campaign strategy was, you want to get people to your point of view. You stir the pot and you stoke the fear. And I think what you see the president doing is what we're not used to presidents doing. Presidents don't usually stoke fear. What they usually do is try and comfort people and say, you know, we have it under control.

(CROSSTALK)

LABOTT: But there is a terror threat that the U.S. is facing.

BORGER: No.

LABOTT: Let's not negate that.

BORGER: If he is worried about the public opinion about his policy, what he's going to do and what he's doing is saying to people, you need to believe me, I know more than you do, you should be very afraid, and what we're going to do is -

(CROSSTALK)

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's not good enough for a campaign strategy, but it's not good enough for the courts. The courts need to have some concrete evidence. And there is an opportunity you could find in a classified setting to the court. You can't do the school yard "I know something you don't know" and say trust me.

What the court made clear yesterday in the ninth circuit was judicial deference is certainly warranted for presidents in terms of national security, but it's not automatic. More importantly, just a bald assertion of national security is not going to be carte blanche to violate the Constitution.

Again, you have the president of the United States saying, listen, there is a real threat against the United States. The court said tell us what it is, give us a reason to reinstate the ban, and he could not.

BLITZER: David, let me read the bottom line, what the unanimous decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was last night going against the president on this very sensitive issue: "We hold that the government" -- meaning the U.S. government - "has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeals, nor has it shown that failure to enter a state would cause irreparable injury, and we, therefore, deny its emergency motion for a stay."

The president made it clear today, we're going to go through the court process. He said, "Ultimately, I have no doubt we'll win that particular case."

It's unclear what he means by that, but this was a major rebuke of the president's travel ban.

GREGORY: Well, it was because the court was pushing back in a couple of areas. One, says that they have an opportunity to review it. That the president gets deference on national security, but it doesn't mean that he can't be questioned by the judiciary. And, two, what is the specific evidence that requires the executive order? And that has not been forthcoming.

Ultimately, the president may, indeed, be right on the law, which is may win because the president gets so much deference on national security. But the political realm here -- you heard the president talk about, look, there were a lot of people -- I'm going to bring jobs back to all these states that voted for me, essentially. Well, he is doing that on the security ban as well. He campaigned on the idea that there are all these bad people overseas and that they're coming to get us. He doesn't have specific evidence for that, but he is making the argument, as are his advisors, that the U.S. is vulnerable like Europe is vulnerable. That ignores the fact that we have much better safeguards here, particularly for refugees, and never mentions that point. If you are a Syrian refugee, you can't just get on a plane and come to the country.

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: It takes as long as two years. So, this is just fear. It's the stoking of fear without any real evidence. And we saw more of it today.

And, by the way, there's also frustration on his part that he has to answer questions about this when it's off topic.

BLITZER: Laura, I just want your analysis. When he says, we'll go through the court process. He predicts ultimately the administration will win. What are the options? What are the next steps?

COATES: Well, he could go en banc, which means he could ask more from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to weigh in, as much as 11 others to say, anyone else feel differently, give me something to work with. Or he could go to the Supreme Court and say can you please reinstate this ban under a standard that says they abuse their discretion or they were wrong to suspend it.

Either way we are not at the merits of the case. It's going to go back to the Judge Robart's court to say, all right, what are we working with now? Give me a record to develop. Was there an intent to have a Muslim ban? What is your evidence for that? Let me help you develop that. All we're talking about now is, was there a likelihood of success assess, not a guarantee.

But you're right David, there's a lot of deference given to the president of the United States in the national security area, but our courts, and the Supreme Court entirely, has often checked that balance, from denying passports to Communists to Japanese internment camp victims. So, there's a marked history where we question any trampling on the Constitution, even national security.

[13:50:38] BORGER: Can we presume the court would take this, given the fact there isn't much of a history with this type of case, or that it's just too important that they would have to take it? There's not much record.

COATES: The Supreme Court loves to have a final --

BORGER: Yes. Yeah.

COATS: They want to have everything. A record means I've got all the transcripts, all the testimony, all the evidence, and I'm reading all the stuff

But even if the ninth circuit found there was standing on behalf of Washington and Minnesota to say they have a real injury to represent the people of their state. The Supreme Court could still take the case and find there was no standing. And the only precedent we have is that we had Texas in the Dreamers case we have standing based on having to provide for driver's license for these Dreamers, the Supreme Court took that case, but we had four to four, which means we don't know what they were considering, and they may have found there was no standing. We're at a disadvantage, which is why the court may be ultimately in his favor.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And I want to point out that one important line in that 29- page report that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put out, "There's no precedent to support this claimed reviewability which runs contrary to our fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy."

The Justice Department attorney, in making the oral arguments, said there was no reviewability, if you will.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And in this particular case, the court came down on the other side.

Everybody, hold on for a moment.

I want to go the Hawaii Democratic Senator, Mazie Hirono, who is joining us now from Capitol Hill.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D), HAWAII: Aloha.

BLITZER: Thank you. Aloha to you as well.

I want your initial reaction to what we just heard from the Japanese and American leaders. Was there anything that specifically stood out to you?

HIRONO: It was interesting watching the press conference that President Trump had with Prime Minister Abe. That's what you're referring to right now, Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, yes.

HIRONO: I was very pleased that President Trump made very clear how important our friendship and alliance with Japanese and to acknowledge peace and stability in the Pacific area is critical to our national security. And of course, Hawaii has a big role to play with our bases, et cetera, in the Indo-Asia Pacific arena. That was good news.

I had an opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Abe, along with other Senators, and Leader Pelosi, this morning, and I asked Prime Minister Abe how important was it to Japan that Secretary of Defense Mattis visited, as his first two foreign countries, Japan and South Korea, and he said it was very important that someone, with the kind of support that General Mattis had, to come to Japan to reaffirm the importance of this part of the world and our alliance with them.

BLITZER: Senator, the president said there are tremendous threats to our country right now. And he said that, as early as next week, you will see something, he said, additional security for our country. Do you have any idea what he's talking about?

HIRONO: I have no idea. And at this point, frankly, I very much pay attention to what President Trump does, as opposed to what he says.

BLITZER: Because?

HIRONO: It's what he does that will get implemented. He says a lot of things. He tweets a lot. And I think, for example, he had earlier criticized Japan for not doing enough for our mutual defense, but today, he made it very plain that we will go forward and work closely and there was no criticism of Japan. So, what he says -- then again, this is an announcement today really reassuring to me. I think it's important, for example, the executive order on

immigration, that's what he did. He had said that he was going to impose a Muslim ban. Then he did, in effect, issue an executive order, which is a Muslim ban, which led to the lawsuits that we are talking about today.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Senator, were you happy he is now fully on board with what's called the One China policy, as he expressed that support with the Chinese leader?

HIRONO: I think that was very important, especially with the uncertainty created when he talked with Taiwan. But to speak with the president of China and to reaffirm our commitment to the One China policy was again reassuring.

I think it's really important that, as we go forward, President Trump should listen to people like General Mattis, who brings a lot of foreign policy experience and maturity to the table so he doesn't have to walk back earlier comments --

BLITZER: All right.

HIRONO: -- that lead to a lot of consternation.

BLITZER: Senator, thanks so much, as usual --

HIRONO: Thank you.

BLITZER: -- for joining us.

HIRONO: Aloha.

BLITZER: Senator Mazie Hirono, from Hawaii.

That's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

In the meantime, the news continues right here on CNN right after the quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)