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Trump Signs Controversial Order on Federal Land; Trump Reacts to Ruling on Sanctuary Cities Legal Defeat; Republicans Grumble about Trump Tax Cuts. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 26, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So very clearly, as you lay out, setting them up for a fight.

Rene, thank you very much. You'll be sitting by with us as we wait for the president to take the microphone.

As we wait for that, let me bring in now Jason Miller, CNN political commentator and former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign; and Kevin Madden, a CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign; and Matt Bennett, he's the Democratic strategist and former Clinton administration official.

Thank you very much for being here.

We'll wait to hear from the president because we could learn more about what he's looking for.

But, Kevin, it sounds on the surface if you're watching this at home, it sounds innocuous. The president wants a review of what presidential power there is to designate land as protected or not, I guess, in this case. But this is a big deal out west. What are the politics behind this?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, you're right. It doesn't sound innocuous if you've been fighting over this on either side of the issue for 20 years in the 11 western states where so many of these battles take place. 52 percent of the land out in 11 of those western states is owned by the federal government. So it's an issue that's fought pretty close to home out there.

But I think the politics of this are that many of the state and local leaders out there do feel like this, or for many years, there has been an overreach by the federal government, particularly in the last eight years under the Obama administration. And what President Trump is doing is essentially remedying some of this.

And Rene Marsh was right in her report. This is not going to be going away and there are folks dug in on both sides of this issue so it will continue to be a big fight.

BOLDUAN: And if we're being very honest, Matt, not much Democrats can do about it, but a fight between the president and environmentalists, that may be one that he would welcome. MATT BENNETT, DEMOCARTIC STRATEGIST: It could be, but there are polls

that show that even people out west overwhelmingly support presidents designating these beautiful spaces as national monuments, when President Clinton did it and when President Bush did it. Every president going back to Franklin Roosevelt has done it, and Teddy Roosevelt, as well. So this is the upside-down Trump presidency. All of these other presidents have designated and protected spaces and he wants to undo that and let mining companies strip away the lands. And I don't think that will go over well with the people that live out there.

BOLDUAN: And, Jason, on the same level, I keep wondering, because we see it with this one coming out with regard to the Education secretary, the president is asking for a lot of reviews. Is that -- and it's on so many other levels, the Buy American, Hire American, lowering the trade deficit review. I was looking over a few of them today. Could this come to nothing and it's just feel-good for Republicans that the president's on it?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Kate, ultimately, what we're seeing here is a pushback against the overreach of the federal government, and not just over the past eight years and even going back to the Clinton presidency, as well. And I think this is really the culmination of what the Trump campaign was about, was this standing up for the forgotten men and women and pushing back against the largeness of Washington trying to take over and doing everything.

But I have to go back to one point, kind of set fact from fiction here when you're talking about the executive order that the president is signing here in just a few minutes. What this study does is it reviews land monuments of 100,000 acres or larger to make sure there was, as Rene said in her report, to make sure there was local input, there was state input and these lands are actually -- were being used for what they should be using. In far too many of these cases, the federal government came in and, with too big of a swath, and said, OK, this will be blocked off. So we're clear, not one single environmental regulation has changed and not one single land monument will be reversed or opened up. This is a study to determine --

BOLDUAN: Well, yes.

MILLER: -- to make sure this was done correctly.

BOLDUAN: That's the thing, Jason. It hasn't been done yet, and that's why the president is asking for this review.

And here is President Trump right now, with the Interior secretary and the vice president at the Interior Department. Let's listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- the vice president a great help. And everybody likes Mike Pence. I want to thank you for your service. It's been incredible.


TRUMP: It's a real pleasure to be at the Department of Interior where you help preserve the splendor and the beauty of America's natural resources. And I can tell you the group that's in here right now, they're really doing the job.

Right, Lisa? They're doing a good job? We'll take care of Alaska, too, don't worry about it.


And they protect the ability of the people to access and utilize the land, which truly belongs to them and belongs to all of us.

Secretary Ryan Zinke is doing an incredible job and he never overlooks the details. He's a detail person.

Soon after he was confirmed, we had a snowstorm, a big one, and he was out there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial shoveling the snow all by himself. And he's a strong guy. He did a good job. He did a very, very good job. But we're proud of him.

[11:35:12] In the first 100 days we've taken historic action to eliminate wasteful regulations. They're being eliminated like nobody's ever seen before. There's never been anything like it. Sometimes I look at some of the things I'm signing and say maybe people won't like it, but I'm doing the right thing. And no regular politician's going to do. I don't know if you folks would do. I will tell you, literally, some politicians have said, you're doing the right thing, I don't know if I would have had the courage to do some of these things, but we're doing them because it's the right thing to do, and it's for the good of the nation.

We're returning power back to the people. We've eliminated job- destroying regulations on farmers, ranchers and coal miners, on autoworkers and so many other American workers and businesses.

Today, I'm signing a new executive order to end another egregious abuse of federal power and to give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs.

The previous administration used a 100-year-old law known as the Antiquities Act to unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control. Have you heard about that? Eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land. Today, we are putting the states back in charge. It's a big thing.

I am pleased to be joined by so many members of Congress and governors who have been waiting for this moment, including Governor Herbert of Utah.

Thank you. Thank you, Governor.

Governor Lepage of Maine, who, by the way, has lost a lot of weight. I knew him when he was heavy and now I know him when he was thin, and I like him both ways.

(LAUGHTER) A great job.

Governor Calvo of Guam, thank you.

Governor Torres from the Northern Mariana Islands, thank you. Thank you, Governor.

I also want to recognize Senator Orrin Hatch, who, believe me, he's tough. He would call me and call me and say, you've got to do this.

Is that right, Orrin? You didn't stop.

He doesn't give up. And he's shocked that I'm doing it, but I'm doing it because it's the right thing to do.

But I really have to point you out. You didn't stop.

And Mike, the same thing. So many people feel -- Mike Lee.

So many people feel so strongly about this and I appreciate your support and your prodding and your never-ending prodding, I should say because we're now getting something done that many people thought would never, ever get done and I'm very proud to be doing it in honor of you guys, OK? Thank you.


TRUMP: All it altogether, the previous administrations bypassed the states to place over 265 million acres -- that's a lot of land. Million acres. Think of it -- 265 million acres of land and water under federal control through the abuse of the monuments designation. That's larger than the entire state of Texas. In December of last year alone, the federal government asserted this power over 1.35 million acres of land in Utah known as Bears' Ears -- I hear a lot about Bears' Ears and I hear it's beautiful -- over the profound objections of the citizens of Utah. The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it's time we ended this abusive practice.

I've spoken with many state and local leaders, a number of them here today, who care very much about preserving our land and who are gravely concerned about this massive federal land grab. And it's gotten worse and worse and worse. And now we're going to free it up which is what should have happened in the first place. This should never have happened.

[11:39:58] That's why today I'm signing this order and directing Secretary Zinke to end these abuses and return control to the people, the people of Utah, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States. Every day, we are going to continue pushing ahead with our reform agenda to put the American people back in charge of their government and their lives.

And again, I want to congratulate the secretary. I want to congratulate Orrin and Mike, and all of the people that worked so hard on bringing it to this point. And tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land, the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world, but now tremendously positive things will happen.

So I want to thank you. I want to thank everybody for being here. God bless you all and God bless America.

Thank you. Thank you very much.


TRUMP: So I'll sign.


TRUMP: This is a big one.



TRUMP: Are we ready?


TRUMP: My honor, thank you.

Thank you, everybody. Great honor.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were you surprised by the Ninth Circuit ruling?

TRUMP: I'm never surprised by the Ninth Circuit.


As i said, we'll see them in the Supreme Court.


BOLDUAN: All right, a couple of things there. President Trump signing an executive order, as he promised, in what he called the abuse of the federal government, a massive federal land grab, but now we're going to free it up, talking about land that's been designated as protected by presidents past, Clinton, Bush and Obama. He signed that executive order, that review begins now. But pretty clear exactly what the president says they're going to free up that land. He's going to change how much of that land is federally protected, handing it back to the states.

And he said at the very end, just to note, he was asked by the ruling in sanctuary cities, which we'll be discussing in detail, "I'm never surprised by the Ninth Circuit" and, "We'll see them in the Supreme Court." He said that on Twitter, as well. But it's also worth noting, it was not the Ninth Circuit that made the decision, it is the federal district court, but his point is taken, he's going to appeal.

We'll have much more on that. We'll be right back.


[11:46:52] BOLDUAN: More on our breaking news. President Trump reacting to a court decision that blocked his executive order to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. The president says he's never surprised by the Ninth Circuit and says, "We'll see you at the Supreme Court."

The man who won that case in court, in district court against the government joins me now. Dennis Herrera is a San Francisco attorney.

Mr. Herrera, thanks so much for coming in.


BOLDUAN: So your reaction to the president and the White House, specifically to this line that we -- the White House put out in a statement last night, Mr. Herrera, saying, "Those city officials who author these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands."

Your response?

HERRERA: I think it's outrageous. Unfortunately, the president and the attorney general have sought to justify their executive order by politicizing tragic deaths of individuals for political gain, instead of focusing on the value that sanctuary cities give to promoting cooperation between law enforcement and communities to actually keep communities and streets safer. And I think that what we learned as a result of this decision was this dramatic overreach by both the president and the attorney general. It does nothing but serve a purpose of division and divisiveness, and it would be -- their time would be much better spent moving on to other issues --


HERRERA: -- and making sure that we're working together to promote safe streets.

BOLDUAN: I want to get to that in just a second, but you, of course, were the first city to bring -- the you were the city to bring the suit first. Last night and today, the White House is calling this forum shopping, that you were looking for a sympathetic court. Is that what you were doing?

HERRERA: Not at all. The jurisdiction that we live here in San Francisco is the northern district of California and the Ninth Circuit. We filed the lawsuit here. The interesting thing is, this was a nationwide injunction that was imposed by the district court. It wasn't here just in San Francisco. It has nationwide impact. I think the law is clear. Had this lawsuit been brought anywhere else, the result would have been the same.

BOLDUAN: That, we do not know. And the nationwide injunction is in place. But in court, Mr. Herrera, the government argued that it didn't intend to withhold significant amounts of money. And they said it was much smaller than folks thought it was. It wasn't all federal funding to sanctuary cities. And the judge seemed to acknowledge that. Are you overstating how hard it would actually hit your city?

HERRERA: Well, the problem was, was that the executive order was so poorly drafted and so vaguely worded. And in conjunction with that, you had public statements from both the president, as a candidate, and after he was elected, and the attorney general, at a press conference in the White House press room, really talking about how they were going to claw back federal funds in a very, very expansive way. So you had what was being said in court in a limited way, in a court setting, and then they public setting, something quite different being said. So we really need clarity and certainty. That's precisely why we were forced to bring the lawsuit, so we had that certainty, and we could make those decisions during the course of our budget process to make sure we weren't dramatically impacted.

[11:50:14] BOLDUAN: Real quick, you did bring it up earlier that you think the administration should move on, and that they're using people for political purposes. I noticed this in the statement that you put out this last night, you put this out, in part, "The first 100 days have been a disaster. I hope, for all our sakes, he can turn this around."

If you think the president is playing politics here, that seems to cross over from kind of a legal argument to more of a political argument. Was this case about politics?

HERRERA: I don't think so. It's about keeping streets safe and communities safe. And unfortunately, instead of looking to the Constitution and the law, the president is trying to exploit tragic circumstances for political gain, and we're being forced to defend the Constitution in court. So I think it's the furthest thing from politics.

BOLDUAN: Well, big win in court for you, and onto the next step. As the president says, he may see you, Mr. Herrera, at the Supreme Court.

Thank you so much for coming in. I appreciate it.

HERRERA: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: My panel is back with me. Let's discuss this further, now that the president was talking about it.

Kevin madden, let's discuss this. This is now the third immigration executive order coming from the president that has gotten caught up in court. Do you think there should be a lesson in that?

MADDEN: Well, look, I think the intentions are clear by the administration. I think they have very valid policy argument about states and localities, the rule of law, enforcing existing statutes, particularly working in partnership with the federal government to enforce existing immigration laws.

That being said, there has been a pattern here that has put the White House on the defensive when it comes to developing firmer legal ground for some of their actions. So you know, when it happens once, you should learn a little bit more so that the second time you do it, it's improved, and by the third time you've got it perfectly. It hasn't seemed to be the case right now.

I think that is one of the reasons for that is that these are very highly charged issues. And so many of the president's opponents are dug in and they're going to sue no matter what the executive order says. So

I think there has to be a greater level of preparation and the teams that are putting together the legislation or the executive orders have to make sure they're on firmer legal ground. And also remind the president, as Mr. Herrera said, that the president's public statements and the attorney general's public statements are also having an important impact on how many of these courts are ruling.

BOLDUAN: And one thing, Jason, the fact that the judge cited to back his ruling, another ruling that Republicans applauded, against Obamacare. That was the ruling that this judge cited in this case. I mean, what's your response to that? Can Republicans really fight this?

MILLER: Kate, let's put this in the proper context. This is about enforcing laws already on the books. I find it highly disingenuous the counselor came on and talked about enforcing the Constitution when that is what this entire fight is about. When you look at the tragic murders of people like Kate Steinle, you look at the pain that Angel Moms across the country have gone through, those parents and loved ones of people killed by those here illegally, this is so much pain and the hardship they've had to go through. I mean, this is just such an overreach.

To be clear, this is forum shopping. They knew what was going to happen here. This will go to the Ninth Circuit. I'm sure we know which way the Ninth Circuit will go, and we'll probably battle this out in the Supreme Court. What I don't understand from the left is how they like the laws that they seem to agree with, and then they dislike the laws and refuse to enforce that they don't like.

BOLDUAN: That was my whole point, that was my whole point asking about, the Republicans applauded a decision by a judge that cited this exact thing, that basically that the president can't nitpick and hold strings taped to federal funding when it came to Obamacare. They don't like it when it came to money, money related to immigration.


BOLDUAN: I'm just say, both sides have used this.

Let me get Madden in here.

Matt, respond, your take on this.

MADDEN: I think one thing left out here is that all the groups of chiefs of police and major city chiefs and IECP (ph) in the upper "P" (ph) have said this is a really bad way of -- it is hamstringing their ability to the fight crime, because when the federal government comes in and insists that local cops become ICE agents, and they get far less cooperation from the community, it's hurting their ability to prevent crime. So if you really want to protect these cities, we should not turn local cops into ICE agents and deportation agents.


BOLDUAN: This is how the system is set up, that the president takes an action, that's where the judiciary is here for. The district court has had a ruling. Now it will go to appeals, and the president seems to hope, to the Supreme Court.

And we'll leave it there right now. It's clearly, as Kevin said, very politically charged.

Thanks, guys. We can talk about it forever.

[11:55:12] Now to this, another kind of charged bit. The Trump administration calling the president's tax proposal the biggest tax cut in U.S. history. But the grumbling on Capitol Hill has begun. One senior Republican aide telling CNN this isn't close to tax reform. which is something the Republicans on Capitol Hill dearly want.

Let's take a closer look at this and fight it out. CNN's global economic analyst and "Financial Times" columnist, Rana Foroohar; and CNN senior economic analyst and former economic adviser to the Trump campaign, Stephen Moore.

Great to see you both.

So, Steve, a lot we still need to learn this afternoon about what the administration wants in these tax principles. From what you've heard so far, everything you could hope for and more?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR FINANCIAL ANALYST: Yeah, I'm very hopeful. This is not too different from what Donald Trump talked about during the campaign, a 15 percent tax rate for our businesses, which the objective here is to make businesses more profitable, give them more money so they can hire more workers, expand their operations. Hopefully, that will translate into higher pay for workers. That's what this is all about.

There is going to be a big fight about the issue of whether it should be paid for or whether this should be a tax cut. I happen to think it should be sold as a tax cut to the American people. It doesn't make a lot of sense to cut my taxes and raise yours and think somehow that's going to stimulate the economy. This will be a big battle. But as a supply sider and pro-growth Reagan guy, I'm very happy.

BOLDUAN: Rana, your response, but also, the fact that the Treasury secretary did not set a low bar here saying, this is going to be the biggest tax cut and tax reform in history.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Yeah, you know, I guess even though I respect Stephen and his opinions, I fundamentally don't see any proof in the last 20 years that tax cuts have really created growth. They didn't do it in 2001 or 2003 under Bush. Any Obama administration era cuts didn't do it. There's just not a lot of that evidence this works. Really, if you look back historically, businesses don't invest because of low tax rates. They invest because they find new ideas in an environment in which they think they can make money. The growth rate in the 1950s was higher when taxes were far higher.

I think it's important, if we're going to have tax cuts, we figure out a way to pay for it. Otherwise, you end up running up the deficit, which is what happened during the Reagan era, particularly the first term.

BOLDUAN: Steve, talk to me about the optics. The president made a big deal that this announcement was coming today and he telegraphed it last week. He's not making the announcement himself. Would you like to see him the one out there in the face of this?

MOORE: Yeah, I would. I think this is one of his primary policy initiatives. It's about -- you know, I've always said he has to do three things this year, build the wall, get Obamacare repealed, and do the tax cut. I'd love to see that. But, by the way, Steve Mnuchin is a great spokesman for this administration. I loved what he said the other day, we'll grow the economy and help bring the deficit down.

Look, we've try this had before and it certainly worked in the '60s under Kennedy and in the '80s understand Reagan where we had a big explosion of growth. Even in 2003, when we did the capital gains cut and dividend cut, we saw some pretty good growth rates notice 2003, '04, '05,' 06, and '07. It would seem to be successful.

One of quick thing. All these other countries around the world are cutting business tax rates. France just announced -- the two candidates say they're going to cut their business tax rate. We can't stay way up here if all the other countries are down here.

BOLDUAN: Rana, I talked about it at the top of the show. This fascinating concept Steve Mnuchin is talking about. You've heard economists promote it in the past. He wants Americans to file their tax returns on a large postcard. That sounds fabulous. But does that also mean all the deductions people depended on will have to go away?

FOROOHAR: Well, OK, first of all, yeah, great. If we could do it on a postcard, awesome. Not holding my breath for that.

I will say, when you talking to both individuals and businesses, they'll say the sheer complexity of the U.S. tax code, even more than the rate -- I think this is something Steve and I can agree on -- is really an issue for people. Deductions are a big issue, too. I think it's important we start closing some of the loopholes, particularly unproductive kinds of tax-subsidized debt for individuals and corporations. Everybody loves the mortgage deduction, but it encourages us to buy McMansions. Not a great thing.


FOROOHAR: We have to tackle these things politically.

BOLDUAN: We have an official countdown, guys. We're going to lose your satellite window. I don't want you to think it's my fault.

Great to see you both before you go to black. I appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

MOORE: Thank you.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"Inside Politics" with John King starts right now.

[12:00:08] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

The president dismissing all haters.