Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Speaks at Holocaust Memorial Event; Republicans Push Back on Trump's Business Tax Cut; Mixed Messages from Administration on Demanding Money for Border Wall to Avoid Government Shutdown. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 25, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering.

Thank you, Tom Bernstein, Allan Holt, Sara Bloomfield and everyone at the Holocaust Memorial Council and Museum for your vital work and tireless contributions. We are privileged to be joined by Israel's ambassador to the United States, a friend of mine, he's done a great job and said some wonderful words, Ron Dermer.

The state of Israel is an internal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life and the Star of David waves atop a great nation, arisen from the desert.

To those in the audience who have served America in uniform, our country eternally thanks you.

We are proud and grateful to be joined today by veterans of the Second World War, who liberated survivors from the camps. Your sacrifice helped save freedom for the world -- for the entire world.


Sadly, this year marks the first Day of Remembrance since the passing of Elie Wiesel, a great person, a great man. His absence leaves an empty space in our hearts but his spirit fills this room. It is the kind of gentle spirit of an angel who lived through hell and whose courage still lights the path from darkness. Though Elie's story is very well known by so many people, it's always worth repeating. He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust.

His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz. He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald. He lived through an endless nightmare of murder and death, and he inscribed on our collective conscience the duty we have to remember that long, dark night so as never to again repeat it.

There are survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfilled the righteous duty to never forget and engraved into the world's memory, the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people.

You witnessed evil and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description. Many of you lost your entire family, everything and everyone you loved gone. You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter. You saw the starvation and the torture. You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people. And great people, I must add. You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps, and you persevered to tell your stories. You tell of these living nightmares because despite your great pain, you believe in Elie's famous plea that for the dead and the living we must bear witness. That is why we are here today, to remember and to bear witness, to make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.

The Nazis massacred 6 million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis without mercy, without even a sign of mercy.

TRUMP: Yet even today, there are those who want to forget the past. Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history. Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil, and we'll never be silent; we just won't. We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.


Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti- Semitism that continues all around the world. We've seen anti- Semitism on university campuses, in the public square and in threats against Jewish citizens.

Even worse, it's been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities, or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction.

This is my pledge to you. We will confront anti-Semitism.


We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act.

As president of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people, and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the state of Israel.


So today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children, whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth. We remember the millions of other innocent victims the Nazis so brutally targeted and so brutally killed. We remember the survivors who bore more than we can imagine.

We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity and freedom.

But we also remember the light that shone through the darkness. We remember sisters and brothers, who gave everything to those they loved, survivors like Stephen Springfield (ph), who, in the long death march, carried his brother on his back. As he said, I just couldn't give in. We remember the brave souls who banded together to save the lives of their neighbors, even at the risk of their own life. And we remember those first hopeful moments of liberation, when, at long last, the American soldiers arrived in camps and cities throughout occupied Europe, waving the same beautiful flags before us today, speaking those three glorious words, "You are free."

It is this love of freedom, this embrace of human dignity, this call to courage in the face of evil, that the survivors here today have helped to write onto our hearts. The Jewish people have endured oppression, persecution and those who have sought and planned their destruction.

Yet through the suffering, they have persevered, they have thrived, and they have enlightened the world. We stand in awe of the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.

TRUMP: I want to close with a story enshrined in the museum that captures the moment of liberation in the final days of the war. It is the story of Gerda Klein, a young Jewish woman from Poland. Some of you know her. Gerda's family was murdered by the Nazis. She spent three years imprisoned in labor camps and the last four months of the war on a terrible death march.

She assumed it was over. At the end, on the eye of her 21st birthday, her hair had lost all its color and she weighed a mere 68 pounds. Yet she had the will to live another day. It was tough.

Gerda later recalled the moment she realized that her long awaited deliverance had arrived. She saw a car coming towards her. Many cars had driven up before, but this one was different. On its hood, in place of that wretched swastika, was a bright, beautiful, gleaming, white star.

Two American soldiers got out. One walked up to her. The first thing Gerda said was what she had been trained to say: "We are Jewish, you know. We are Jewish". And then, he said, "So am I".

It was a beautiful moment after so much darkness, after so much evil. As Gerda took this soldier to see other prisoners, the American did something she had long forgotten to even expect -- he opened the door for her. In Gerda's words, that was the moment of restoration of humanity, of humanness, of dignity and of freedom.

But the story does not end there. Because, as some of you know, that young American soldier who liberated her and who showed her such decency would soon become her husband.

A year later, they were married. In her words, "He opened not only the door for me, but the door to my life and to my future". Gerda has since spent her life telling the world of what she witnessed.

She, like those survivors, who are among us today, has dedicated her life to shining a light of hope through the dark of night. Your courage strengthens us. Your voices inspire us. And your stories remind us that we must never, ever shrink away from telling the truth about evil in our time.

Evil is always seeking to wage war against the innocent and to destroy all that is good and beautiful about our common humanity. But evil can only thrive in darkness. And what you have brought us today is so much more powerful than evil. You have brought us hope, hope that love will conquer hate, that right will defeat wrong and that peace will rise from the ashes of war.

Each survivor here today is a beacon of light, and it only takes one light to illuminate even the darkest space.

Just like it takes only one truth to crush a thousand lives, and one hero to change the course of history.

We know that in the end, good will triumph over evil, and that as long as we refuse to close our eyes or to silence our voices, we know that justice will ultimately prevail.

So today we mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge never again. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.


[11:44:53] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Powerful remarks just now from President Trump at what is becoming an annual event at the capitol, in conjunction with the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Days of Remembrance ceremony. Hearing some very strong remarks from the president there at this very important time and this very important occasion.

Mark Preston is here with me.

These are -- some of what we heard from the president here I'd say a lot of folks wanted to hear from this president. I mean, there is no mincing this. "I am deeply moved to stand before those who survived history's darkest hour.: And I know it really struck you when he said, "Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil."

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If this was the Donald Trump that we just saw in the past few moments over the first 100 days, I think he would be a lot more successful. This is the measured, forceful, powerful type of leader right now that I think the United States needs.

And to your point, I mean, for our viewers here, we're sitting here listening and really were caught on a lot of the things that he said that is going push back against a lot of the criticisms of him, including, as we talked about, white nationalist, when you talk about stamping out prejudice and --

BOLDUAN: Because, let's be honest, there's been criticism that he's faced at many turns that he has been soft on anti-Semitism --

PRESTON: Right. BOLDUAN: -- to put it one way. The White House rightfully faced

criticism that on International Remembrance Day, the White House statement did not mention Jews at all. But this, this says something, what we just heard.

PRESTON: Yeah, no doubt. And I also think that, Kate, he also gave us clues to the future. He also said we will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again. You can take what happened back then, you can look where we are in Syria right now, and you have to wonder, was he talking about Syria? He also talked about aggressors attacking Israel, and you have to say, my gosh, is he speaking about Iran? So, you know, there are possibly some clues we can take away from this speech today about how he will act on foreign policy in the future.

BOLDUAN: An important event every year. And a shout-out to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of the most important institutions that you can visit and support in Washington, and visit and see that memorial museum.

We'll be right back.


[11:51:32] BOLDUAN: New developments in the push towards President Trump's 100th day in office. Many Republicans now kind of pushing back already on Trump's proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. Where does this go from here?

Let's talk about this. CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, is still here with me; and politics reporter for "The Daily Beast," Betsy Woodruff, is joining us.

Mark, cutting corporate taxes is something Candidate Trump promised and we know President Trump wants. But it does not seem completely in line where Republicans are at the moment and have been for a long time on their dream of real, kind of, like, once-in-a-generation tax reform.

PRESTON: Long sustained tax reform. Republicans would love to see corporate taxes cut as well, and that is part of their proposal, or at least their proposal. But right now, they have a 35 -- Trump wants to go from 35 percent down to 15 percent, and to do that, you would add $2.4 trillion to a debt that we already have at more than $19 trillion. Put that all together and you have fiscal conservatives in Congress who can't swallow that.

BOLDUAN: Betsy, what are you hearing? Could this be a replay of how health care played out? Your Democrats, they're not going to offer up any help whatsoever in these negotiations, and then could this end up in the way of health care, meaning the factions of the Republican Party just go where?

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: That's certainly plausible. And the fact that the White House is moving fairly quickly on tax reform. They haven't laid out a lot of the details. Absolutely recall the health care mess that we all went through about a month ago. That said, I think it's a very good chance that this 15 percent tax rate is an opening gambit. We know Trump is a big fan of putting out sort of dramatic first bids that might not necessarily be what the end result looks like. I think there's a good shot that's what we're going to be seeing in this situation. That said, the Trump administration has been very bullish about where they see this potentially going and --


BOLDUAN: Right. And, Betsy --


WOODRUFF: And Secretary Mnuchin said it would pay for itself, which is not --

BOLDUAN: Do you think that it helps that the president is out in front and kind of laying this out first? We know Paul Ryan has been working on blueprint since like the moment he entered Congress.

WOOODRUFF: It sure doesn't hurt. The fact is Trump hasn't had any major successes working with Congress, but taxes seem to be a bit closer to his heart than health care. Health care is an extremely complicated policy issue, not something he doesn't have a lot of experience on in his time in business. But with taxes, anyone who works in corporate America understands that these have a massive impact on the way that our economy functions. Certainly, the way the president talks about taxes indicates it's a lot closer to his heart. Much more of a passion project. That will make it easier for him potentially to sell. But it's still going to be tough getting all the Republicans in Congress or most of them on board with this kind of thing.

BOLDUAN: Mark, let's talk about mixed messages and the looming government shutdown at the end of the week and coinciding with the president's 100th day in office. One thing that has become a centerpiece of is the government going to shut down or not is the president wanting money for the border wall in this funding bill. Last night, if we follow the pieces, last night we heard from White House officials that he thought it was no longer a deal breaker to have -- demanding money be in. Then today, the word is that, yes, he does still want money for the border wall to be included in this must- pass bill.

But then listen here to Kellyanne Conway, the top Trump adviser, and how she described it to FOX.


UNIDENTIFIED FOX HOST: He's not going to get that $1.1 billion to build a wall necessarily, at least not this week.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: Not that week, but the president made clear, just yesterday, building a wall remains a very important priority to him.


[11:55:12] BOLDUAN: Kellyanne Conway -- no one knows yet who's got it right here. She says not this week. That's what she acknowledged this morning. What's going on here?

PRESTON: Let me say this, I hope that she's right, because to see the government go into a shutdown again and have a whole evaluation again would be terrible right now. A retreat right now from Donald Trump on a pledge and a promise and a vow could be detrimental to the United States at this point. So I do think he needs to back off. I do think Democrats, though, could come to the middle. Centrist Republicans could come to the middle a little bit. Give him funding for more drones, perhaps more personnel along the border. That might be a way to keep the government funded and to keep both sides from absolutely going to an all-out war.

BOLDUAN: Let's be honest, is there even a scenario where the president would not face blame if the government shutdown?

PRESTON: He would absolutely face blame because it would be his insistence on something that, you know, hasn't had --


BOLDUAN: It doesn't need to be in the bill.

PRESTON: Right, and it's not supported by the American people.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Mark. Thank you so much.

Betsy, great to see you as well. Thank you so much.

Back to our breaking news, Ivanka Trump -- at the top of the hour, we learned this, Ivanka Trump faced a pretty rough reception in Berlin during a summit with some of the most powerful women on the planet. The crowd booing Ivanka at one point. Why?

Plus, House Oversight leaders say they have no indication right now that former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, complied with the law when he received money from foreign governments, including Russia. Lots to come with that. Stay with us.


[12:00:10] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

Big news in the --