Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Maine Senator Angus King; Interview With Texas Congressman Will Hurd; President Trump Dealt Another Legal Defeat; North Korea Briefing; President Trump Unveils Tax Plan; White House Summons Lawmakers for North Korea Briefings; Trump's 100-Day Scorecard on Promises Kept and Unmet. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 26, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: tax code overhaul. The Trump team unveils a plan for broad and dramatic rate cuts, emphasizing popular tax breaks, while dodging tough questions about the price tag. Tonight, some members of the president's own party are skeptical.
North Korea intel. All Senate and House members invited to unusual high-level briefings on the urgent threat posed by Kim Jong-un. We are going to tell what you we are learning about the closed-door meetings and the administration's next move.
Attacking judges. President Trump lashes out after a new legal blow to his immigration policy, once again taking his wrath out on an individual federal judge. Is he putting members of the bench in danger?
And new health care deal? Republicans are taking another shot at repealing and replacing Obamacare. Is there any real hope for passage with the president's 100th day in office fast approaching?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, the White House unveils an ambitious tax plan, calling for deep cuts for individuals and businesses, in a pushed-up announcement just shy of the president's 100th day in office. Mr. Trump seeking to slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, double the standard deduction and simplify the tax code, among many other proposals.
The plan is likely to face a very tough fight in Congress with a lot of unanswered questions about its cost and how it might drive up the deficit.
Also breaking, the entire House and Senate summoned by the White House for urgent briefings on the North Korea threat, as the U.S. mobilizes its missile defense system in the region. We're standing by for new details on the briefings just hours after Kim Jong-un ordered a huge artillery fire drill to send a message to the Trump administration.
Also tonight, President Trump is on the attack against the federal judge who blocked his executive order to cut funds to sanctuary cities. The president slamming the decision is ridiculous and the judge for being unelected. The scathing tweets mirroring the president's past battles with federal judges who ruled against him.
This hour, I will speak with Republican Congressman Will Hurd and independent Senator Angus king. They're both intelligence Committee members who attended the North Korea briefings. And our correspondents and analyst are also standing by.
First, let's go to our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's up on Capitol Hill, where House members have been inside a late briefing on North Korea. Senators were briefed earlier over at the White House.
What are you learning, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one headline, senators, Democrat and Republican, did not leave that White House Briefing Room with a sense that the president was ready to act militarily against North Korea imminently.
In fact, before the meeting, there was a lot of skepticism among senators as to why they were being taken down the hill to the White House, what was the urgency, some of that skepticism bearing out. We spoke with, for instance, Senator Christopher Murphy of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said he didn't learn much new inside that room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: You were inside? What was the revelation?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: No revelations. I think the White House wanted to convey to the Congress that they are serious about North Korea. They clearly are putting a lot of their cards on the table with China to try to get them to change their policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: One option we are told by a senior administration official that the Trump administration is considering is putting North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list. They were on that list. Removed in 2008 by the Bush administration at a time when there were negotiations were under way to freeze North Korea's nuclear program.
Of course, those negotiations did not work in freezing the program, but Wolf, it shows you how limited the options are in terms of new options, options that haven't been tried before. The question is, what kind of pressure, what kind of steps will work now that haven't worked in the past?
BLITZER: Was there any discussion of military options? SCIUTTO: Yes, those being on the table, one of a range of options,
but again that has many costs, concerns about human cost in South Korea and Seoul both to South Korea civilians, U.S. troops based there.
That said, that option not off the table, but, again, the senators inside that room did not leave that room with the sense there is imminent military action likely to be ordered by the Trump administration.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto up on Capitol Hill, thank you.
Now to the breaking news on the president's just announced tax package, the White House calling for historic cuts without a clear plan on how to pay for them.
Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is over at the White House.
Jason, these tax cuts would be sweeping if, if they were to get through Congress.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right. It is a very, very big if, because there still is a question mark in terms of how all of this will be paid for.
The treasury secretary says this will happen through economic growth and, Wolf, he says so far everyone is on board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Under the Trump plan, we will have a massive tax cut for businesses and massive tax reform in simplification.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Now, let me go to of the details about the proposal.
First of all, slashing the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent from 35 percent, lowering the individual income tax rates, reducing the number of tax brackets from seven down to three, also doubling the standard deduction.
Also, again while the treasury secretary says everyone's on board, there are still some grumblings from GOP lawmakers who say this doesn't really represent true tax reform. There's not enough meat here, there's not enough details here.
Wolf, there is also a question about the president himself. Would he or would he not benefit from this tax plan? The treasury secretary was pressed on this earlier this afternoon and the treasury secretary made it very clear that the president would not be releasing his tax returns -- Wolf. BLITZER: Jason, the Republicans are also apparently making another
attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare. Could that happen? Could there actually be a vote in the House of Representatives before the end of the president's first 100 days? That 100 days, that marking is on Saturday.
CARROLL: What is very clear, Wolf, is that they are definitely making headway. GOP lawmakers appear to have closed the gap between moderates and conservatives, those conservative members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, and that's thanks in part very much so to MacArthur, Tom MacArthur, representative from New Jersey, who put out an amendment, an amendment that would allow states to apply for a waiver to opt out of certain parts, important parts of Obamacare.
That seems to have done the trick, although one GOP lawmaker saying it is not a silver bullet, but clearly Wolf, they're much closer today than they were last week.
BLITZER: Yes, but even if it were to get through the House, then it has to go through the Senate, where it's going to have a difficult ride as well.
Thanks very much, Jason Carroll, over at the White House.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Republican Congressman Will Hurd is joining us. He's a member of both the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, former clandestine CIA operative. He was just in that briefing on North Korea.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Wolf, it's always great to be on.
BLITZER: Did you learn anything new about North Korea's missile capabilities?
HURD: What I learned is that this White House and President Trump has the resolve to deal with the North Korean issue, no matter how difficult it is, and that they are going to use all the levers of national power, diplomatic, military, intelligence and economic, to deal with this issue.
And they are also interested in working more in testing assumptions about whether China will work with us against the plight of North Korea. I was recently in South Korea, and I went to the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea, and it is clear to me that Kim Jong Il -- Kim Jong-un -- excuse me -- is going to stop at nothing to get an intercontinental ballistic missile and we have to be prepared for that eventuality.
BLITZER: What about the administration's position on military options? They say all options are on the table. But here's the question. Is a preemptive military strike realistic?
HURD: I think the realistic scenario right now is to work with a number of our partners across the world and make them realize that North Korea is a global problem, not just a problem on the Korean Peninsula, and also to work with China.
The majority of trade to North Korea comes through China, and China has a number of tools where they can help tighten up sanctions around North Korea and make the North Korean dictator rethink some of his strategies.
BLITZER: But are they doing that, the Chinese? We're getting mixed indications.
HURD: Well, the Chinese have always been a difficult partner when it comes to North Korea.
And I think they are coming to the realization that Kim Jong-un is more of a threat to China than a U.S.-South Korean alliance. And we also have to remember that the South Koreans are currently in a special election for the president, and that president is going to get named in a couple of weeks.
And the day after the election happens, the president is going to take over, and that means a South Korean president that's likely to have a different perspective on North Korea than the two previous predecessors.
BLITZER: When you say the Chinese feel threatened, do they really threatened, by whom?
HURD: They recognize that Kim Jong-un -- or I think they're starting to recognize that Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea, is creating problems, and this, a flare-up on any kind of activity there would put pressures on their borders.
And I think the Chinese are coming to that realization. And guess what? We have got to continue to push them to come to that. And we have to be working with other allies around the world on this common threat, because North Korea is one of the places where they could potentially kill tens of millions of people within 12 to 13 minutes.
And that's a real threat, not only to our friends in South Korea and Japan and the U.S. homeland. That's a threat to the world.
BLITZER: Yes, it's the most dangerous spot on earth right now. I don't think there is any doubt about that.
Let me shift gears, Congressman, talk about other breaking news we are following. Do you support President Trump's tax cut proposals, initial proposal to cut business tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent?
I ask the question because a lot of economists think that that will dramatically increase the national debt and the deficit.
HURD: Well, the Trump tax plan just came out today. I haven't had the chance to review it in detail.
One of the things that Republicans have been saying for a long time is simplification of the tax code. We also should bring our corporate tax rate down. What we're able to bring it down to, that's going to be a subject of debate and conversation.
But having the highest tax bracket in the world is not good for our economy and it's not good for jobs. And we also have to make sure that the average American in the middle class keeps a little bit more of their money and they're able to invest it in their family and spend it themselves, rather than sending it to Washington, D.C.
And so I think this is go to be an issue over the next weeks and months. And there is going to be a lot of debate here in Washington, D.C., to figure out how we can simplify our tax code in order to get our economy humming.
BLITZER: On health care, another issue that is out there today, could there realistically be a House vote to repeal and replace Obamacare this week before Saturday's 100 days in office? And if so, how will you vote?
HURD: Well, Wolf, your guess is as good as mine. There have been a lot of conversations on health care and where we go forward and how we do it.
I don't know if there are -- if we are ready to move forward with a vote this week. And it's hard for me to say where I will stand, because until I see the specifics of the plan, it is hard to make a decision. But ultimately what I want it make sure that we're doing is that we're increasing access to and decreasing costs of health care. That should be our goal, and both sides of the political aisle agree to that.
BLITZER: As you know, the president backed off putting funding, at least a down payment, $1.4 billion, for his proposed border wall with Mexico in this temporary spending bill that's got to be approved before Friday night. But he also vowed that the wall is going to get built. You have said it's impossible to build a physical wall. So should this wall be built? Should American taxpayer dollars be spent for it?
HURD: Wolf, we have had this conversation many times. Building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security.
With 2,000 miles of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, I have 820 of those miles. We should be investing in technology. We should be investing in more people along the border. We need to have a defense in-depth.
There's part of the border where Border Patrol's response time is measured in hours to days. If your response time is measured in hours to days, a wall is not a physical barrier. We need to be able to detect incursions on our border, we need to be able to follow it and then we need to be able to pull away our most important resource, our human resources, the men and women in Border Patrol.
And also we can increase the amount of intelligence that we are collecting on the 19 criminal organizations operating in Mexico and Central America. And the metrics we should be looking at about whether our border is secure or not is, are we seeing a decrease in folks coming across the border legally? Are we seeing less drugs coming into our country?
Those are the metrics we should be using to determine whether our border is secure, not whether we have a concrete structure on every mile.
BLITZER: Congressman Will Hurd of Texas, as usual, thank you very much for joining us.
HURD: Wolf, it's always a pleasure, man.
BLITZER: Just ahead, I will speak with independent Senator Angus King of Maine. What did he take away from that extraordinary White House briefing on North Korea?
And later, is President Trump considering drastic action as he wages another battle with a federal judge? Does he have the power to break up a circuit court?
BLITZER: We're back with breaking news.
The Trump administration issuing a statement just a little while ago stressing that North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a growing threat to the U.S. homeland, this as the White House summons and House and Senate members to briefings on North Korea.
Joining us now is Senator Angus King. He's an independent on both the intelligence and Armed Services Committees of the Senate.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: You attended today's briefing on North Korea over at the White House.
BLITZER: What have you learned about the administration's long-term strategy for dealing with this threat from North Korea?
KING: Well, I can't really talk about any details because the briefing was classified, so I'm going to try to talk about what's generally been in the public and what we have heard in open session.
[18:20:01] I think it's safe to say that what we're talking about is an increase
in diplomatic pressure, particularly from China. The secretary of state is going to be chairing a Security Council meeting this Friday, the day after tomorrow, at the United Nations to talk about enlisting the rest of the world in ratcheting up the sanctions and the pressure on North Korea.
But the real key to this, Wolf, has got to be China. And they have to assess that the risk of a nuclear-armed a -- fully nuclear-armed North Korea is worth -- is really worth some effort on their part to stop it; 90 percent of North Korea's trade is with China. They are the ones that have the power to influence the behavior in North Korea.
But I think the fact that what the administration is doing is marshaling a worldwide diplomatic effort is the way to proceed. There also is in the background military force. The movement of the carrier strike force into that region, I think, is an important message. But a military response would be an absolute last resort.
It would be pretty awful.
BLITZER: It would be awful indeed. But under what circumstances, Senator, would you support some sort of military strike? As you point out, the U.S. has that Carl Vinson, that aircraft carrier strike force in the region, the USS Michigan, that nuclear-powered submarine with a lot of Tomahawk missiles, in the region right now.
Would you support a preemptive strike under what condition?
KING: I think a preemptive strike, when we use the word preemptive strike, means a strike before they do anything.
And right now they don't have the capability of reaching the United States. And they won't for some time. So, a preemptive strike now I think -- all the options have to be on the table. But we have to understand the consequences.
Seoul is closer to the North Korea border than Washington is to Baltimore. I mean, it is very close. And it is a city of 25 million people. It could be attacked drastically and dramatically just by artillery. You don't need jets, jet airplanes, or bombs or nuclear weapons. The damage that -- the deaths and destruction would be enormous.
And, of course, Japan is a close neighbor. So while we want North Korea to understand that there is overwhelming military force, I prefer, much prefer a tightening pressure diplomatically. That is really the preferred solution.
The other question, Wolf, is, if you did some kind of preemptive strike, could you destroy their nuclear capability? From what I have learned, again, from open-source reporting, it would be very difficult. And you can't bomb knowledge.
And if they could reconstitute their nuclear program within several years, then what have we accomplished, other than setting off a very dramatic war in a region in the world where we have a lot of allies?
BLITZER: Let's get to some other issues while I have you, Senator.
I want to talk about General Michael Flynn, the president's fired national security adviser. All of us saw that video of General Flynn and Putin in Moscow together at that 2015 R.T., Russian television event widely seen during the campaign.
How is it possible that no one responsible for the vetting process on the campaign or the transition thought it was necessary to ask the general whether he was paid by the Russians to attend that event?
KING: There is no answer to that question that I know, Wolf.
I assumed he was paid. He was a commentator on Russian television. He was at that dinner, and I don't understand why that question wasn't asked. All I can tell is you, I'm glad H.R. McMaster is the national security adviser right now.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of other people agree with you on that as well.
The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, is it back on track? Because we are getting all sorts of conflicting information that you guys are having problems.
KING: No, I think we are on track. We had a long meeting on it yesterday. We have added two additional staff members. We are going strong in terms of review of documents, developing witness lists.
It's not going as fast as people might want. I think my friends in Maine say, why can't you get this going? But it is going. And I would much rather get it right than get it fast, Wolf. And as far as any kind of partisan breakdown, that's absolutely not true.
If you had sat in the meeting we had yesterday, you could not have determined who was Republican and who was a Democrat or who was independent, for that matter, because we all have the same goal of getting to the bottom of this. It is complex. It's going to take time.
We may have to beef up, beef up the staff with some prosecutorial talent before it's all over. I think that's likely. But right now, I think we're moving forward. The important thing is, we're not splitting among partisan lines.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask you, because the House Intelligence Committee, they had problems, but now they've scheduled hearings.
A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they've scheduled hearings. When are there going to be the first Senate Intelligence Committee hearings?
KING: Two weeks ago. We had an open hearing with a series of experts on Russia particularly
focused on the question of Russian activities in election and in the political process historically and in our election here. It was a very illuminating hearing and it sort of laid the groundwork, because it's important to understand that what the Russians did here in 2016 was not a one-off.
This is a pattern. They are doing it right today in France while we're talking, and they are partially funding Marine Le Pen, the nationalist candidate for president of France, so they're into this. They have done it historically.
And we have got to know what they did and we've got to know how to stop them.
BLITZER: What about witnesses who were directly involved?
I know former officials, academics, very important, but what about people who were actually involved, someone like General Flynn, for example?
KING: That is the next step.
And I can't give you -- I can't say whether it's two weeks or three weeks or a month, but I can tell you that we are lining those up. We want to have the documents first, Wolf. We want to be able to read and absorb all that information, so we know what the right questions to ask are.
These people probably aren't going to be volunteering a lot of information. We want to be able to ask exactly the right question to get the information the American people deserve and need.
BLITZER: Senator Angus King of Maine, thanks so much for joining us.
KING: Sir, thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: President Trump is taking his battle with judges, federal judges, to a new level, after another legal setback, a legal blow to his immigration policy. Is he putting the safety, though, of some of those federal judges at risk?
And will members of the president's party rally behind his big plans for major tax cuts or stand in his way?
BLITZER: Breaking tonight, as President Trump wages war once again with a federal judge, he's considering taking drastic action as payback to the federal courts. We're following his scathing reaction to a new ruling against his executive order on sanctuary cities.
[18:32:02] Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider. Jessica, we're hearing new comments from the president about his legal battles. JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Wolf. President Trump says he is absolutely considering proposals to break up the 9th Circuit. It encompasses federal courts in California and ten other states and territories out west.
Now, a split has been a topic of consideration for Congress dating back to 1941, but no break-up has ever happened. President Trump, though is proving relentless in his campaign to split the circuit after a California judge halted the president's executive order on sanctuary cities.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump vowing to fight this ruling.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm never surprised by the 9th Circuit.
As I said, we'll see them at the Supreme Court.
SCHNEIDER: The White House slamming the ruling just after its release, calling it, in a statement, "an egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge."
Press secretary Sean Spicer accusing sanctuary city officials of having the blood of dead Americans on their hands.
But this latest decision wasn't from the 9th Circuit. It came from the federal district court in Northern California. Any appeal would be heard by the 9th Circuit.
The decision was determined, in part, by the president's own words. Judge William Orrick, an Obama appointee, writing, "If there was any doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments."
The judge pointed to the president's threat to defund sanctuary cities in February.
TRUMP: If they're going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly, that would be a weapon.
SCHNEIDER: Attorneys for San Francisco and Santa Clara, California, brought this suit and said courts need to keep the executive branch in check.
DENNIS HERRERA, SAN FRANCISCO CITY ATTORNEY: 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.
SCHNEIDER: President Trump has repeatedly railed against federal judges.
TRUMP: But I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. SCHNEIDER: And criticized the judges who have thwarted his travel ban. The president tweeting this about Judge James Robart in Seattle: "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens, blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad."
And the administration isn't backing off its immigration crackdown, the Department of Homeland Security has opened a new office to assist the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: They're casualties of crimes that should never have taken place, because the people who victimized them should never have been here in our country.
SCHNEIDER: But immigration advocates say it's an office to help a problem that doesn't really exist.
BEN JOHNSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: Every study that's been done on this issue for literally the last hundred years has shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than the native-born.
SCHNEIDER: And despite those statistics, President Trump has repeatedly focused on crimes committed by illegal immigrants throughout the campaign and his first 100 days. And now Homeland Security is similarly making it a priority -- Wolf.
[18:35:02] BLITZER: Jessica Schneider reporting for us. Jessica, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our team of legal, political and national security experts. And Jeffrey Toobin, you're our legal expert, so let's talk a little bit about this 9th Circuit. Does the president have a point?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he has an argument. There -- conservatives have been upset about the 9th Circuit for decades. It just so happens Jimmy Carter made a whole bunch of appointments to that -- to that court, and it's been more liberal than the other circuits.
It is within Congress's power to split up the 9th Circuit. In 1981, they split the old 5th Circuit into the new 5th Circuit and the 11th Circuit. But only Congress can do that, not the president on his own. And Congress has shown no great inclination to do that. And that seems to be likely to continue.
BLITZER: But a lot of people, Gloria, are deeply worried about the comments, the statements that are being made by the president, the White House, other administration officials about these federal judges, raising questions about them, "blood might be on their hands." And there's a lot of concern that, for their own security right now, they've had to beef it up.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's gotten very personal and too personal, if you ask me. The judiciary is a separate branch of government that ought to be respected. I don't expect the president to agree with this -- with this judge's ruling.
And I might add, this is a district court judge. This judge does not sit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But having said that, making it personal against a judge or calling, saying Reince Priebus did last night, said the 9th Circuit's gone bananas. Look, you can disagree, and they will and they should -- but I think to take it -- to take it a step further is -- is not productive in this country.
TOOBIN: Can I say one thing?
BORGER: You can criticize judges, because I know you're going to say that.
TOOBIN: Can I say one thing? Oh, please. You know, this -- these judges are very powerful people. They serve for life. They are unelected. It's silly to criticize them for being unelected, because every federal judge is unelected. But you know, given their power, and given the stakes in their decision, I don't see anything wrong...
BLITZER: But Jeffrey...
TOOBIN: ... with this sort of...
BLITZER: But Jeffrey, it's one thing for you to criticize, to write an article in "The New Yorker" and be critical.
BLITZER: But if the president of the United States wants to criticize a decision, deal with the decision; don't start name-calling a federal judge. That is inappropriate for a president of the United States...
BORGER: Unless you call them liberal.
TOOBIN: I just think that is not true. I mean, I think this is a system where, under Article III of the Constitution, these judges have immense power. They can overturn the will of the people over and over again.
I think -- you know, Judge Orrick...
BLITZER: So -- so it was OK to say, "that federal judge," Curiel, was a Mexican? You support that?
TOOBIN: No. No, no. Curiel -- Curiel is a totally different thing, because Curiel, that was a totally racist and appalling statement by -- by candidate Trump.
The criticism of these decisions, these outcomes, on -- on the sanctuary cities and -- and on the immigration stuff, I think those...
BLITZER: Let me ask Bianna. Bianna, weigh in on this. Should the president of the United States be attacking, by name, these judges? Or simply deal with the issues involved, the difference in opinion? BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO! NEWS: Look, I think the president shouldn't be saying anything at all. I think it's unpresidential. I think it's unprecedented, and I think it's beneath him. In the long run, I think it could hurt him, in the end.
But I don't think he's going to relent on this. I think that this is what he ran on. This is -- remember, immigration was what he launched his campaign on, when he came down that escalator and when he was talking about illegal immigration. He's appealing to his base, and this has worked with him in the past. So I think he'll continue these tactics, and he'll use this rhetoric in the months and weeks ahead. He thinks that it works for him.
TOOBIN: You know -- you know. I'm sorry. Please go ahead.
BORGER: You know, it worked -- it worked for him in politics, when he called Hillary Clinton, you know, Crooked Hillary; Ted Cruz, Lying' Ted; Little Marco and all the rest. And that may have worked for him in politics. I personally thought it was distasteful, but it worked.
I don't think you turn your criticism of the judiciary into a -- into the same moments he had during the campaign. I mean, what, is he going to call this judge? You know? I mean, the name calling is what's offensive.
TOOBIN: And you know what Judge Orrick...
BORGER: ... not the disagreement."
TOOBIN: Judge Orrick, whose father, by the way, was also a federal judge, do you know what they're going to call him tomorrow?
TOOBIN: Judge Orrick.
BLITZER: But you know what? You're not concerned at all about his security, when he says these things. They need to beef up their personal security? When the president of the United States, Jeffrey, makes these kinds of comments, there is deep concern out there. Let others say it, but not necessarily the president.
TOOBIN: I think, you know, Lyin' Ted didn't have to beef up his security. You know, Little Marco. These sorts of criticism is half -- look, he got elected president this way. What do we want him, to have a personality transplant once he got elected president?
BORGER: But those politicians could fight back. And they could talk. Would you like to have the judge engage in some kind of kind of a tit- for-tat with Donald Trump...
[18:40:03] TOOBIN: No, absolutely not.
BORGER: ... when Donald Trump calls a judge a name or makes a racist comment? Judge Curiel did not respond.
BORGER: What's the right thing to do if you can't respond?
BLITZER: Go ahead, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: It reinforces -- it reinforces who he is. We constantly, on a daily basis, seem surprised by actions that this president takes. We think that he's going to change from being a candidate to the president. This is Donald Trump. He's not going to change, and we continue to be surprised by this kind of behavior. And at some point as we approach 100 days, at least, we should say one of the take-aways is he's not going to change.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by.
TOOBIN: True enough.
BLITZER: There's a lot more coming up, including developments involving the president's latest proposals for tax cuts, North Korea, much more right after this.
[18:45:28] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back with our experts. And there are new warnings right now from the Trump administration about the threat from North Korea after the White House summoned members of Congress for special briefings.
John Kirby, what's the rationale? They're bringing a hundred U.S. senators to the White House and that having those same briefers go up to Capitol Hill to brief 435 members of the House?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I have no idea. It's showboat and it's theater. They didn't need to do that.
Now, clearly, they wanted to convey how serious that they are taking the North Korean threat, and sandwiched in between the meeting with U.N. Security Council members here in D.C. and the visit up the meeting on Friday in New York. I guess it kind of makes sense. Plus, you know, we've got the 100 days coming to end. But to bring them all the way to the White House for this just seems totally unnecessary.
BLITZER: On top of this, all of a sudden, the THAAD anti-missile system is being moved in South Korea. That obviously is designed to scare the North Koreans. But the Chinese get nervous about that as well.
KIRBY: Yes. So, it's not being moved. It's actually going to be operational now in a few days. That's what I'm --
BLITZER: To make it operational.
KIRBY: Yes, moving -- make it operational. So, look, it actually does decrease the ballistic missile threat to the South. I mean, it's a very significant powerful system. It's a defensive system. But it also sends a strong message to Pyongyang and to our Republic of Korea allies that we're there, we got their back and we're boosting our capabilities on the peninsula to protect them.
And, yes, the Chinese don't like it and we have made it very clear that it is a defensive system only. We've offered and shared details with them to try to allay their fears. But certainly it does make them nervous. I think that may also be part of the calculus. I know it was for President Obama when he ordered the THAAD system to order the negotiations to go forward to get the THAAD --
BLITZER: The real serious problems is North Korean threat. Very tense, the most dangerous spot on earth right now, that Korean peninsula.
Let's talk about taxes. All of a sudden, today, we get a big picture view of where this administration wants to go in cutting taxes.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, it's a huge plan. We don't have a specific proposal. We don't have any specific cost estimates attached to it and, Wolf, I think that's the big problem.
This is kind of a lot of candy that they have thrown out there. You know, cutting corporate tax rate to 15 percent. You know, cutting personal taxes perhaps, you know, increasing standard deduction, doubling it for families. You know, simplifying tax forms as a result.
There's a lot of good stuff in there. However, however, when you get to the details, as you always do with tax bills, there's questions. What kind of deductions are you going to eliminate? They have said the charitable and home mortgage will remain. And what will the cost of this be?
You know, they are trying to get this passed under the budget act, which means they only need majority but that also means that it can't add to the deficit significantly. So, if you ask me, it's going to be a ten-year bill, like George Bush's was, that would expire at the end of 10 years and they would have to renew it, because it blows such a hole in the budget.
BLITZER: What we heard today, Bianna, does it realistically have a chance of getting through the House and the Senate?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO NEWS AND FINANCE ANCHOR: Well, and also, what's striking about that is that this remains within one party, right, the Republican Party. So, it's not as if you are trying to get Democrats and Republicans on board. You're trying to get Republicans on board, where obviously a deficit is a huge issue primary for Speaker Ryan but many others as well.
And when you hear the treasury secretary say things like this will pay for itself with economic growth, well, I think a lot of economists would says, show us how we're going to get to 3 percent economic growth. We're at near full time employment right now, according to the data. Obviously, there is still a lot of people out looking for work as well and you want it raise wages. But what is going to be the key solution to getting the economy to, all of a sudden, grow at 3 percent to pay for this? And, of course, it brings us back it an issue that president doesn't want to talk about, and that's his own tax returns. When are we going to see those? It raised a lot of questions given some of the details that we're seeing in this bill, although it's very vague, getting rid of the AMT.
I mean, he could have saved some $30 million had that been in place with the one piece of tax reform or his taxes that we'd seen from 2005. So, that's some tension that the president didn't want to get. A lot of people are wondering, why bring it up right now?
BLITZER: Let me get John Kirby into this and then Jeffrey.
Also, we are getting word today that the administration is thinking about pulling out of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. All of a sudden, there could be a pull out.
KIRBY: Yes, I think that's a mistake, obviously. Look, I mean, free trade in this hemisphere is obviously important.
[18:50:02] It's important to our shared economies, but also to our shared security, and cross-border cooperation. I think it's a mistake.
BLITZER: What do you think?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is what he ran on. I mean, he ran on more protectionism. And, you know, economists generally believe that protectionism leads to less growth, not more.
But it was a very powerful appeal. It remains a powerful appeal, especially to this base. And this presidency is entirely based on appeal --
BLITZER: Very quickly, Bianna, just the optics of the unveiling of the tax cuts today. Two former Goldman Sachs executives, secretary of treasury, the head of the National Economic Council, unveiling it. You're smiling.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, isn't that something? It's what the president ran against and what he accused of Hillary Clinton to be collaborating with Goldman Sachs. And, obviously, you've got these two Goldman Sachs alums giving the president's tax details and saying we're going to here more about it.
I think just to go back to what Jeffrey just said about NAFTA and that he ran on that, I mean, this president does seem to be a walking contradiction as well, because he also ran on raising taxes for the top 1 percent. What we've seen today is he'll in fact be cutting taxes for the wealthiest in this country. So yes, NAFTA may go, but as far as cutting taxes for the middle class or for the 1 percent, he's going back on his own word.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by. There's much more coming up. We have more news.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:55:54] BLITZER: Tonight, as the clock ticks toward the president's 100th day in office, that would be this Saturday, let's take a look closer at the president's accomplishments so far and how they square with the many promises he had made.
CNN's Tom Foreman is keeping score for us.
Tom, how did he do?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump promised from day one, Wolf, that he would be draining the swamp here in D.C. But like many reformers before he's had to fight against being stuck in the political mud.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Almost 100 days of promises colliding with political reality started with a staggering loss.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my first day, I'm going to ask Congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace --
Repeal and replace --
Repeal and replace that horror show called Obamacare.
FOREMAN: That pledge brought sure-fire applause on the campaign, but calamity in office. The president's party even with control of Congress found itself bitterly divided. Some saying his plan went too far, some not far enough. At his first attempt at major legislation was yanked without a vote.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us.
FOREMAN: Despite continued talk about a pledge to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it --
TRUMP: The wall gets built, hundred percent.
FOREMAN: -- there is no progress on that, either.
True, this president has signed more legislation than any of the previous five presidents in the same period, much of it erasing Obama era regulations, but none of it produced the broad public impact typical of major laws.
For that, he has turned to executive actions, signing more than any presidents in the first 100 days since Harry Truman, quickly wiping out the trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. TRUMP: We just officially terminated TPP.
FOREMAN: But his most incendiary idea, banning travel from several Muslim nations has stalled in the courts over the administration's protests.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States is a vital measure for strengthening our national security.
FOREMAN: The legal branch of government is where President Trump has scored by far his biggest victory.
TRUMP: We have to replace Judge Scalia with a conservative great judge.
NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I, Neil M. Gorsuch --
FOREMAN: Despite overwhelming Democratic opposition, Neil Gorsuch was approved and seated on the Supreme Court.
TRUMP: And I got it done in the first 100 days. That's even nice.
FOREMAN: Even as the courts overall challenged other Trump initiatives, including his attempt to cut funding from so-called sanctuary cities for not helping enforce immigration laws.
Meanwhile on the foreign front, the president reversed on his campaign promise not to intervene in Syria, taking fast action following a Syrian gas attack. Unleashing a barrage of missiles and the mother of all bombs in Afghanistan, raising tensions not merely in the Middle East but also with far-flung allies and adversaries, including North Korea.
His meetings with foreign leaders came with the backdrop of a fiscal plan to substantially boost U.S. spending while cutting budgets from many other agencies.
TRUMP: You know, I tweeted today @RealDonaldTrump. Don't worry. I'll give it up after I'm president. We won't tweet. I don't think so.
FOREMAN: And, of course, there were tweets, unproven claims of voter fraud, unproven accusations of President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower, and a relentless stream of attacks on the media about what President Trump calls "fake news", especially over the march of stories about possible Russian ties to his circle.
FOREMAN: When you consider all that, there's just no question this president has tried to move forward at a break-neck pace. And perhaps in of these things he promised will yet come to pass. But faced with a string of protests and plummeting approval rates, his first 100 days as he himself has hinted have proven more complicated than he expected -- Wolf. BLITZER: Tom Foreman reporting, thanks to you.
Thanks to our viewers.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.