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Man Arrested by Secret Service After Jumping Bike Rack on Pennsylvania Avenue; Investigations Continue into President Trump's Allegation that President Obama Wiretapped Trump Tower; Claims President Obama Used British Intelligence to Spy on Trump Campaign Criticized; Secretary of State Comments on Korean Peninsula Policy; Vice President Mike Pence Gives Speech in Florida; President Trump's Proposed Budget Cut for After School Programs Debated. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 18, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:22] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Breaking news that we're following involving the White House. Another incident, Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeting moments ago that, quote, "an individual jumped bike rack on Pennsylvania Avenue, not White House fence. Great response by Secret Service."
CNN's Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles joining us live from the White House. So Ryan, when we talk about these bike racks, we're talking about the barriers right behind you that are the barrier before you get to the White House fence. So now explain what happened.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. We can show you the lay of the land at the White House, how it works in terms of security. We're on Pennsylvania Avenue is a popular tourist spot. People are coming up to see the White House. And these expanded bike racks, as they're called, they were put in place after a number of security breaches where people attempted to hop over the fence here onto the north lawn.
And you can see there's a sign here that says, "Restricted, do not enter." What we're being told and I talked specifically with an official familiar with the situation is that a suspect hopped over one of these expanded bike racks. And as soon as you do that, you can see uniform Secret Service agents that patrol this front of the White House. As soon as you jump over this fence, they're going to be on you immediately, and that's exactly what happened in this case. Within two minutes the suspect was arrested.
We're told that it is a man. And this man had a sort of document, a letter he wanted to deliver to someone here at the White House. We're told that the letter was not intended for president, but for someone else. We don't know who exactly that is right now. We also know that on the other side of where we are here at the corner of 15th and I, the White House -- I'm sorry, the Secret Service is currently looking at a vehicle that they believe belonged to the suspect. So they're searching that vehicle as we speak. Now, right after he jumped over the fence, the threat level here at
the White House was raised to orange, which is one of the highest security levels. And at that point, that actually meant that there were armed Secret Service agents up here on the north lawn that actually emerged and were at the ready with their guns drawn. Now, at no point were any shots fired. And one official I talked to described the situation as a slam dunk. He said this went exactly the way that it is supposed to go, that the security protocols worked perfectly. The man under arrest within two minutes and the entire incident resolved within five minutes. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: That in contrast with the other suspect who, last week, was on the grounds of the White House, what, 16 minutes and actually got close to the entrance of this south portico entrance. And so now security certainly heightened, everyone's awareness heightened one week later, and now somebody else was arrested for very suspicious activity according to the Secret Service. Thank you so much, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it.
So all of this happening as the president concludes a very difficult week. His revised travel ban being rejected by the courts. His party's health care plan in peril, his claims of wiretapping are widely dismissed by leaders of both parties, and his press secretary creating an international incident by creating false claims the British may have helped President Obama spy on Trump, all setting the stage for one of the most crucial weeks of Trump's presidency.
Monday, FBI Director James Comey will testify about whether there is any evidence to the president's wiretapping claims. And Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, beginning a confirmation process that could be clouded by tough questions coming for Democrats. The president is at his resort in Mar-a-Lago, in Florida today. Let's go to CNN's Athena Jones who is live nearby in West Palm Beach. So Athena, what do we know about the president's whereabouts today, what his thoughts are about this security concern at the White House one week after he was in the White House and there was a breach by a suspect?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. No response from the president himself regarding this latest, I guess, attempted fence jumper, but I can tell you he spent the last several hours at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. We were told by White House officials he will be working there and meeting with staff. CNN also captured a video of him driving a golf cart, so we understand he hit at least a few holes of golf.
He'll be heading back to his Mar-a-Lago resort in a short while and is going to be having his daily intelligence briefing. That's according to his public schedule. And then a little later he's set to have a phone call with Brazil's president, President Michel Temer.
[14:05:04] But of course the focus and much of the attention has been, as it has been for the last two weeks, has been on those unsubstantiated and explosive allegations he made against his predecessor, President Barack Obama, claiming that Obama had his, quote, "wires tapped in Trump Tower." This is an allegation that the former president has denied. It's something that former intelligence officials have said simply didn't happen, including the director of the national intelligence, the former director, James Clapper, said it didn't happen. Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill who have been investigating this say that they have seen no evidence that this took place. And yet the president is standing and standing by his assertion.
The latest official to deny it, though, is the number two official at the National Security Agency, Richard Ledgett, who used pretty strong words in an interview with the BBC, saying that this latest claim that British intelligence helped wiretap or spy on Trump Tower, he said it's "errant nonsense." And he said "The claims the U.K. was involved with wiretapping demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship works. Of course they wouldn't do it. It would be epically stupid."
So yet another person saying not only was Trump Tower not wiretapped, not only did President Obama not spy on then president- elect Trump, but certainly British intelligence was not involved in any way in spying on what would have been soon to be president. So a long line of people saying this did not happen. The big question is whether we're going to see any sort of apology or retraction from the White House. That's the big question, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Athena Jones, thank you so much. Appreciate that. Keep us posted.
So the Trump's campaign possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, that will be front and center as FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of Congress on Monday. Let's break this down with CNN's political analyst Rebecca Berg, and Josh Rogin also with us, CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh.
OK, in addition to the wiretapping and ties of those in Trump's orbit to Russia, all of that really is on the table. So Nick, let me begin with you, because what is the view from Russia in terms of these crucial hearings taking place in the United States surrounding what would be behind all of these conversations and relations between Trump's aides, associates, and Russia?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russia's official stance has for a long time being that they didn't meddle. They didn't have anything outside of normal contact between diplomats and officials in the circles of Washington, and the phrase "hysteria" has often been used to describe that internal scrutiny being given to those relationship inside of the beltway right now in Washington.
But on the official we heard from the Kremlin spokesperson said tomorrow they won't even be watching James Comey and other senior officials at the hearings because they're busy doing other things. They don't expect new details and are actually referring to the repeated allegations against them as, quote, "a broken record carrying a futuristic song." So perhaps they're trying to cast this as not really bearing any relationship with the present day reality there actually. But I'm sure, privately, they will be going through any new details being aired during the hearings. And of course also, too, perhaps feeling a sense of bittersweet regret here to some degree. It's hard to tell exactly what level of experience there was by the Kremlin inside the electoral campaign at this stage, but certainly the opposite effect may have been achieved to what they wanted. Perhaps there was a desire in the Kremlin to see better relations yes with the White House or maybe even find President Trump keen to get on board with some of their ideas.
But now this internal scrutiny has turned about the relationship between the Trump White House and Kremlin insiders and trying to dig very deeply into the particular leaks I think makes it very hard indeed for Donald Trump to come up with a more pro-Russia policy at some point in the months and years ahead.
WHITFIELD: So Josh, let's just take a look if we could at the number of Trump aides, associates, et cetera, and their possible connections to Russia, whether it's banks, meetings with the Russian ambassador, or something else, commitments made. You know, and it's quite extraordinary, and we're talking about four, maybe even five committees on Capitol Hill that have investigations ongoing surrounding Trump and any ties to Russia and other things. So how does this president kind of rise above all these, you know, possible pivotal changes that could happen starting this week with some of these hearings?
[14:10:02] JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Well, I think what the White House has done is specifically reject all of the accusations and investigations out of hand. I think a smart strategy would be for them to divide them into two baskets, right. There's one which is Russian interference in the American political system for which there's a ton of evidence, for which the 17 intelligence agencies have publicly stated they believe it did happen.
And I slightly disagree with nick on this. I don't think that the chief Russian goal was to seek a better relationship with the United States by installing Donald Trump as president. It really was to sew discord and chaos into the American political system. And if that was their objective, of course, it was a great success. And by undermining not just American democracy but democratic governance worldwide, that advances Russian interests. So you have that basket of issues.
And then on the other side you have all of these connections between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials, and I think that's a much weaker case, frankly. And there's no evidence of collusion. And if the White House wanted to focus on that and the fact that there's no evidence of direct collusion, I think they would have a much stronger argument.
But these issues have been completed, and now after Monday's hearing, this whole issue of whether or not the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower will be largely set aside. There will be something of a closing of that issue because there will be no evidence, there will be nobody except for the president who will still advance that case as being true. So the attention will turn back to the Russia story and the hearings will begin in earnest, and this issue will be back in the forefront.
WHITFIELD: So Rebecca, is it your feeling that if a lot of this other stuff, they are distractions from the Trump White House, whether it pertains to wiretapping, et cetera, hoping that that will just go away, that there will be a returned focus to, you know, what really is at issue here, what's behind, you know, Donald Trump or his aides' relations with Russia, you know, will it be easy to discern distraction from, you know, real serious matters as it pertains to this White House?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: At every turn we've seen this issue muddied over and over again. And even the White House, which hasn't been particularly keen to talk about this issue, Donald Trump has suggested that he thinks it undermines his victories, suggests that Russia helped him win this election. This isn't something that Donald Trump or the White House really enjoy talking about. And yet they keep bringing up this issue over and over again.
So it's been really difficult at this point to stay focused on any one tentacle of this. And I don't think the hearing will necessarily give us a sort of clear focus, but it's a very complicated issue. And sometimes, you know, it's worth looking at all of these different aspects, all these different elements. But what I don't think is that this hearing or any of these investigations, really, are going to give us this week a resolution on this issue, necessarily. I know the White House --
WHITFIELD: No additional clarity?
BERG: Well, there might be additional clarity, but I think that would be short of resolution. What the White House would want you would think in this case is for the book to be closed on this, for them to be able to move on, say this has been thoroughly investigated, we're done.
WHITFIELD: It sounds like the book is just really going to be opening.
BERG: Exactly. This is, I would call this a new chapter in the book, certainly not the end of this story. It's really the beginning.
WHITFIELD: All right, Rebecca Berg, Josh Rogin, Nick Paton Walsh, thanks to all of you, appreciate it.
BERG: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump's wiretap claims further stressing one of our greatest allies, Britain. We're live from London to bring you the latest reaction.
Plus, outrage over the president's budget blueprint. Critics say his plan to slash funding for several nondefense agencies will hurt low income Americans. How will the president's plan hold up when it goes to Capitol Hill? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The U.K. is fighting back on claims made that a British intelligence agency surveilled Trump Tower under the order of President Barack Obama. The agency says the claims are ridiculous and nonsense and that it should be ignored. The international back and forth began with the White House embraced that notion. Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited FOX News analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano's opinion during a White House briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: On FOX News, on March 14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, "Three intelligence sources have informed FOX News that President Obama went outside of the chain of command. He didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI, and he didn't use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ." What is that? It's the initials for the British intelligence spying agency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: A senior administration official says later Spicer and national security advisor H.R. McMaster offered what amounted to an apology on the phone call with the British government. The president was asked about the matter during his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel where he continued to pin the blame on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on FOX. And so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to FOX.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So when Spicer was later asked if there has been an apology issued to Britain's government, he said, quote, "I don't think we regret anything. We were just passing on news reports," end quote.
So joining me right now is CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. So, Nic, boy, this is complicated, isn't it? How potentially damaging is this to the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K.?
[14:20:00] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is potentially damaging, and there are two reasons. One is there's a very simple political reason. This reflects badly on Theresa May. She has invested political capital. Remember, she was the first leader to come and visit Donald Trump at the White House. The United States and Britain have a special relationship. She's traded on that politically a lot at home.
But this reflects badly on her and certainly here in Britain people remember when she went to the White House just a few weeks ago, the day after she left there was the announcement of the travel ban. That didn't sit well politically. Back home she was hugely criticized. Donald Trump was supposed to be on a state visit here to meet the queen. And 1.8 million people more than here signed a petition to say that they couldn't support and would advise the government against him actually meeting the queen. So there's really pushback in this relationship that Teresa may has had.
And now, you know, for her office at number 10 Downing Street, there's a real sense here that Washington's dirty laundry is somehow getting dumped on their doorstep, and yesterday they thought they'd moved it carefully away by getting these assurances from the White House, from Spicer, from H.R. McMaster, that this wouldn't happen again. But then that seemed to turn around in that press conference we were just watching there. So, you know, in a way, the dirty laundry came back. So there's that political impact on the prime minister, Theresa May.
Look, she's having a terrible political week. She's trying to get the United Kingdom out of the European Union, Brexit, at the same time, Scotland is trying to get out of the United Kingdom. She's got a lot of big political battles going on. She doesn't need that.
And of course the other thing we hear about from politicians here is them worrying about the security cooperation. If we think back to the 9/11 attacks and the review after that and the Paris/Belgium terror attacks, in reviews of one of those attacks it was said that security agencies should try to work better and closer together without stove- piping. And that's what GCHQ does with the United States, and there's a sense that the close cooperation vital to everyone's national security, Britain and the United States, that's under threat here as well, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
Still ahead, as we prepare for Thursday's vote on the GOP health care bill, the president looks to convince several members of his own party to stand behind it. Can he change minds?
WHITFIELD: The Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare has cleared a few hurdles, but House Speaker Paul Ryan is still in an uphill battle to unite the GOP and conjure up enough votes to pass the Bill. Here is the speaker addressing one of the sticking points causing major backlash, Medicaid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: He just worked with them and they're on board because they with the president and the rest of us have been talking about improvements to this bill. So those improvements are made as we go through this process. It's basically more federalism, making sure we respect the fact that the states can experiment and tailor Medicaid to meet their needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, if the GOP plan becomes law, 24 million people could lose coverage by 2026. Joining me now is CNN Money's Tami Luhby. So Tami, break it down for us. What is going to change if the bill as it stands now is passed, and how might this impact the average American?
TAMI LUHBY, CNN MONEY SENIOR WRITER: Thank you. Yes. Last week, or the past week was a big week for Obamacare. Next week will be too. Earlier this week, as you said, the Congressional Budget Office scored the bill and found that one of the things that may surprise people is 7 million people on employer plans will probably not be on their plans anymore. They're not going to specifically lose coverage, but employers may just say, you know what, we don't want to have these employer plans anymore at work. We're just going to give you, let you go onto the individual market and get tax credits from the government. So it's very possible that a lot of employers will stop offering plans.
You also said as you showed the clip, there are going to be a lot of changes to Medicaid. About 14 million people are expected to expected to, sorry, 14 million fewer people expected to be insured under Medicaid by 2026. And you also are probably going to see a lot more higher deductible planned. People are complaining about high deductible plans now and there are probably going to be more of them if the Republican bill goes through.
But there's some good news, too. You're going to find that middle class people are going to have more tax credits. Right now, they're not eligible for tax credits under Obamacare but they will be under the Republican plan, so they're going to get a little bit of help. And younger people are going to find that their premiums are going to go down. So a lot of younger people are complaining that they have high premiums. They're not really sick, they don't use a lot of health care, but they have to pay a lot for it, so they're going to get a little bit of relief under the Republican bill if it passes.
WHITFIELD: OK, so the Trump administration already saying it's open to letting states, you know, make major changes to Medicaid. You know, how might this differ from Medicaid under the Obamacare?
LUHBY: Sure. Well, the administration has talked about three buckets, right? You're going to have Congress doing some things and you're going to have the health secretary doing some things to dismantle Obamacare. And the health secretary, Tom Price, is already moving in this direction. He sent a letter to all the governors on Tuesday saying that we're open, governors, if you want to charge premiums and co-pays to Medicaid patients, if you want to require them to work, that's OK with us. Apply the HHSand we'll probably grant you waivers to allow you to do these things. HHS sees this as a way to transition people from Medicaid into work-based plans.
[14:30:16] WHITFIELD: Tami Luhby, thank you so much, appreciate it.
LUHBY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Coming up next, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the last stop of his Asian tour, China. He is trying to rally support for a reining in North Korea. Next, why that could be a tough sell.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.
Be cool-headed with nuclear armed North Korea, that is China's advice to the Trump administration as tensions escalate. This follows U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's warning that no option was off the table when it comes to North Korea including possible military action.
[14:35:01] CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers is in Beijing for us with more of what to expect with this last of this visit with Tillerson abroad.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're expecting Secretary of State Tillerson to get a chance to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in just a few hours from now, actually, pretty early here in the morning here in Beijing. He's expected to get a little bit of time with the president before heading back to the United States.
It's unclear exactly what they're going to be talking about. Most people in Beijing are expecting to be really a meeting more of just kind of an exchange of pleasantries, if you will, ahead of a tentatively scheduled meeting between Chinese President Xi and U.S. president Trump tentatively scheduled for next month. They might talk about laying out the final details there.
But it was the secretary of state throughout the day on Friday today really doing most of the policy discussions, talking, namely, about North Korea. That was very much the top of the agenda. And the secretary of state bringing a message with him from the Trump administration, which is they think that China should be doing more as North Korea's only major ally in the world to get Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear weapons development program, using some of that economic leverage that China has over North Korea to get the Kim Jong-un regime to back off.
China, though, says it's up to the United States. They think that the United States should be directing negotiating with the Kim Jong-un regime about lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. So clearly there's a lot of differences between both sides right now. There's a lot to work through. And really, the tone though was being set here in Beijing for that tentatively scheduled meeting between the country's two leaders. They will meet for the first time if it goes through as planned next month in Florida.
WHITFIELD: Matt Rivers, thank you so much in Beijing, appreciate it.
Coming up next, President Trump's new budget proposal calls for an increase in defense spending and cuts to after-school programs among other things. So what does it mean for kids, working moms and dads? We'll visit one program that could soon be forced to close.
[14:41:33] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're going to take live now to Jacksonville, Florida, where Vice President Mike Pence is speaking. He and Florida Governor Rick Scott have been meeting with business leaders there discussing health care, which just five days away now will be the House vote on the GOP plan. And they're also discussing the president's economic agenda. We'll continue to monitor and bring you comments as they happen.
In the meantime, after-school programs are a lifeline for many working parents, but that lifeline could be in jeopardy. President Trump's budget includes a proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer programs. The programs that the president wants to cut serves about 2 million children nationwide. Gary Tuchman visited one after-school program in Georgia that could soon have to shut its doors.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the students at the S.L. Lewis Elementary School in College Park, Georgia, the school day is done. But the learning is not over. More than 130 of the students, most of whom live in low-income households, are part of an after school program called Wings for Kids. It's called Wings because the goal of the program is to encourage kids to soar. They learn, they socialize, they have snacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one.
TUCHMAN: They even have their own creed. But under President Trump's new proposed federal budget, Wing's primary source of funding would be eliminated. There are 11 Wings for Kids programs in three states with about 1,600 children participating. Bridget Laird is the CEO.
How does that make you feel?
BRIDGET LAIRD, CEO WINGS FOR KIDS: It makes me feel devastated. I've been with this organization for 19 years, and thinking about the kids losing this program really honestly breaks my heart.
TUCHMAN: Wings for Kids gets $1.6 million a year from the federal program called 21st Century Learning Centers. That program receives about $1.2 billion a year from the federal government that it then gives out to after-school organizations across the country. All of that money would disappear under the president's budget plan.
What will that do to you?
LAIRD: It will eliminate our programs. We will not be able to have the programs that we have operating in the fashion that they do, and our kids will no longer be able to come to the program. They will go either home to unsupervised houses or their parents will be required to quit their jobs and stay home with them.
TUCHMAN: Jessica Williams has two daughters in the program. What happens if it goes away?
JESSICA WILLIAMS, MOTHER: I really don't know how I could -- I don't know. I will be lost.
TUCHMAN: President Trump's budget director declared there was no demonstrable evidence that after-school programs help kids do better in school, but the people in charge here demonstrably disagree.
The CEO says her organization participated in a four-year long controlled study and says it clearly showed --
LAIRD: Increases in positive behavior, decreases in negative behavior.
TUCHMAN: As for the elementary schoolers -- what do you like best about Wings for Kids?
TAYLOR LAMBERT, FIFTH GRADER: Building friendships with some of my friends.
TUCHMAN: Is it fun to be here too?
AMADO RANGEL, THIRD GRADER: Of course. It's a good place to learn and it's fun to know everything. And there's a lot of fun you can do and activities.
TUCHMAN: You like hanging out with your friends?
RANGEL: Very much.
TUCHMAN: And they seemed blissfully unaware that it could be going away soon.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, College Park, Georgia.
[14:45:11] WHITFIELD: We'll get back to Wings to Kids and talk about the proposed cuts coming from the Trump White House in a moment. But first, Jacksonville, Florida, let's listen to Vice President Mike Pence and what he's saying.
MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENT: Under President Trump's leadership and working with great congressmen like your congressman, John Rutherford, we'll cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. We're going to keep slashing through red tape. We're going to rein in unelected bureaucrats so they can't cripple the economy from the comfort of their taxpayer funded metal desks in Washington, D.C.
(APPLAUSE) PENCE: And because you hired a builder to be president of the United States, we're going to rebuild this country so that Florida and every other state has the resources to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best highways, the best airports, and the best future we could ever imagine with the infrastructure that we need.
PENCE: And making America great again doesn't just mean our economy. President Trump has no higher priority, I can assure you, than the safety and security of the American people. Over the past year, the American people watched in horror as this terror struck Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale. Our support, our prayers have been with you ever since. So for that matter, I can assure you is our resolve. Rest assured, President Trump will continue to take steps every single day to protect our nation, protect our way of life, and protect and prevent attacks by radical Islamic terrorism in this country again.
PENCE: Your former sheriff knows in his heart what people also know. President Donald Trump is standing with the men and women who serve in law enforcement in this country as never before.
PENCE: Some of you are sitting, a lot are standing, but would you all mind getting on your feet and thanking all the men and women in law enforcement who are with us here today?
PENCE: I promise you, under President Trump's leadership, we're going to make sure the men and women in law enforcement have the resources and the training and the tools that they need to protect our families to go home safe to theirs.
The president has also taken steps to secure our nation, to secure our borders, which means building a wall, enforcing our laws, beginning with ensuring, as the president said before Congress, that gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities are off the streets of Florida and out of this country.
PENCE: And while we talk about security, this last Thursday, President Trump unveiled his budget. It's a budget that at its very heart will end the era of budget cuts for our armed forces. We will rebuild our military. We will restore the arsenal of democracy. We will give soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard the resources they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe, that I promise you.
PENCE: And lastly, by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch, who will go before the Congress this coming --
WHITFIELD: Listening to Vice President Mike Pence there in Jacksonville, Florida, talk about a host of things, really revisiting a number of campaign type material, from protecting against, I'm quoting him now, "radical Islamic terrorism," standing by law enforcement, and securing the border with building a wall. And then it's that last point when he talks about the president's proposed budget.
I'd like to bring in our guest, Stephen Moore, a CNN senior economic analyst and former senior advisor to the Trump campaign, and Rana Foroohar is a CNN global economic analyst and a columnist for the "Financial Times." Good that both of you could be with us.
So the vice president there underscoring that in the president's proposed budget there is a renewed commitment to what he calls ending budget cuts for armed forces, but with that, an increase in spending for military spending. We've also heard a number of analysts talk about the $1.2 billion in cuts in the form of grants and after school and summer programs like we saw in the piece just before the vice president.
[14:50:10] So Stephen, let me go to you first and talk about this proposed plan which does make promises of increased military spending, but also, at the expense of a number of cultural programs that will be sustaining lots of cuts. Will this be a difficult sell for the president?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Let me start by saying this is precisely what Donald Trump was saying on the campaign trail for six, eight, ten months that he wanted to increase military and infrastructure spending and he wanted to reduce a lot of these domestic programs that, frankly, are wasteful and duplicative and not the highest priority right now.
I just listened to your report about the after-school programs and how important it is that we safeguard the education and care of our children, but let's not forget that we're borrowing $1 trillion a year and we are leaving our children $20 trillion of debt that we're adding to every year. And I regard that as fiscal child abuse because our children and grandchildren, the very boys and girls that you showed in that documentary, those are the very kids that we're leaving our debt to, and I wonder if that's something that they're very happy about.
WHITFIELD: OK, but at the same time, when you look at that Gary Tuchman piece, you're talking about kids who have somewhere to go safe after school because their moms and dads are working and their moms and dads are able to be at work because kids are somewhere safe. Doesn't it make this president like he lacks compassion with in terms of the pictures and the story telling we saw from at least that one after schools program?
MOORE: Look, we have all sorts of after-school programs in the areas I live and they're not federally funded. There are people in the neighborhood who have gotten together to provide these kinds of programs. I believe those kinds of programs should be locally and state funded. We've spent $50 billion a year now for the last 30 years on the department of education, and there's zero evidence any of that led to any improvement in school achievement for the kind of kids you showed in that program.
WHITFIELD: So Rana, then there's the argument of where's the responsibility of federal government to help or supplement where localities cannot afford. Isn't that why many of the localities welcome that $1.2 billion that they may not be able to enjoy somewhere down the line?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: There's a couple of issues here, and I want to go to Stephen's point about the debt and deficit issue because it is an issue. The question is, do you think this president is actually going to do anything about that? What I'm hearing, and what we've been hearing on the campaign trail, and nobody can fault him for not staying with what he's doing. The question is, is it the right policy?
I would say if you look at tax cuts as a way of spurring growth, which is what the president hopes is going to happen in order to not run up more deficit and debt, right now we're talking about unfunded tax cuts that he's proposing that are going to do that, he's thinking that growth is going to go up to three percent or four percent based on tax cuts, getting rid of regulation. I would argue we have no evidence in 20 years that that's happened.
And I don't think that's a bipartisan point. If you look at the Bush tax cuts in 2001 or 2003, they didn't create any last growth. Same with tax cuts under Obama. I happen to think that that's just not the way to get to growth. I do think addressing deeper issues of wage stagnation, income inequality in this country are important. Some of the programs you're talking about may be a way of doing that. There are lots of ways of doing that, and that's what we should be talking about.
WHITFIELD: We're going to leave it right there. Stephen Miller, Rana Foroohar, thank you so much. Again, you're looking at the vice president therein Jacksonville, Florida. We'll continue to monitor his remarks and bring them to you. We'll be right back.
[14:56:02] WHITFIELD: This morning, President Donald Trump blamed the media for the awkward perception around his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He tweeted this, quote, "Despite what you have heard from the fake news, I had a great meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel." At Friday's joint press event with Merkel Trump was asked by a German reporter about his unsubstantiated claim that President Obama used a British intelligence agency to surveil Trump Tower. Trump pinned the claim on a FOX News analyst.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on FOX. And so you shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to FOX.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I want to bring in our senior media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter. So Brian, FOX very quickly responded, separating itself from the words of their analyst. And this is very interesting because it's always been cozy between or I should say most recently, very cozy between Trump and FOX.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly his favorite channel. If you look at the number of tweets the president posts about FOX or the number of interviews he gives to television networks, it's very much leans towards the right, leans towards FOX.
In this situation, here you have an international incident sparked by a FOX News commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a former superior court judge in New Jersey now a television talking head. He had said repeatedly early in the week that he had these sources, these intel sources, that were blaming the British for spying on Trump for President Obama. That was, of course, before Election Day.
So he has these sources. He said they're FOX News sources, suggesting the credibility of the whole network is on the line. Then Sean Spicer goes out on Thursday, reads that reporting aloud from the White House podium, and ticks off the British.
So what do you have on Friday? You have the president saying, oh, we were just reading what FOX said. Go talk to FOX about it. So what did FOX say? Well, they say Napolitano stands by his report but the network doesn't have any proof to back him up, doesn't actually have any evidence for that assertion.
So I think it's a strange situation, Fred, because normally, Sean Spicer and President Trump, they are the ones providing information for the media. What we haven't said is the opposite. We have a White House officials going and reading news reports, handing that off as if that is information that's coming from the United States government. They kind of have it backwards right now.
WHITFIELD: Yes, but only when it it's convenient because we also hear the dialogue coming from the president and his press secretary that the media is not credible and that it's fake, et cetera. So then now, what do we anticipate between the relationship of a FOX and Trump? Since he does give most interviews to FOX, and now he was kind of corrected, now what?
STELTER: It's almost as if FOX News is really two channels in one. There's a news side, a news room with real reporters, and then a lot of really highly rated opinion shows like Sean Hannity and "FOX AND FRIENDS FIRST." So those opinion shows were promoting the idea of this British link, this British idea. The newsroom at FOX is saying, no way. There's no evidence. We have no proof whatsoever. There's this blurriness between the two sides that creates a problem. And you're right about Trump and his aides picking this information when it's convenient. By the way, Fred, this is all anonymously based. There's no proof of
it. It's been denied, but it was all anonymously based. And president Trump himself said do not trust anonymous sources. You should not believe them. They're made up. So they're speaking out of both sides of their mouths when on the one hand they're saying don't trust anonymous sources, but in this case this is information that FOX reported, pay attention to it, trying to have it both ways.
WHITFIELD: Convenient. All right, Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Of course, we'll be watching you tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. eastern time.
Thanks so much, everyone, for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Much more in the NEWSROOM straight ahead.