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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Maine Senator Susan Collins; President Trump Dismantling Obamacare; Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Trump: We Are Fulfilling "One Promise After Another"; Ivana Trump Claiming Title Of First Lady In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion" Aired 9-10a ET
Aired October 15, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Deal rejected.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the worst and most one-sided transactions.
TAPPER: President Trump disavows the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated under President Obama.
TRUMP: In the event we're not able to reach a solution, the agreement will be terminated.
TAPPER: Now U.S. allies are distancing themselves from the president's decision.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joins me live next.
And dismantling Obamacare. President Trump wipes out subsidies to insurance companies.
TRUMP: Taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare.
TAPPER: And pressures Democrats to get on board, or else.
TRUMP: They're like obstructionists. If they came over, maybe we could make a deal.
TAPPER: But even some Republicans say it's the American people who will pay the price.
Key Republican Senator Susan Collins is here to react.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is changing course.
This week, President Trump moved to undue two cornerstone policies of the Obama legacy, Obamacare and the Iran deal, the president disavowing the nuclear deal, saying Iran is not in compliance with the terms of the agreement.
But President Trump fell short of terminating the deal altogether, though the president did leave that option on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This morning, U.S. allies are speaking out against President Trump's decision.
Just hours ago, Great Britain and Germany reiterated they are -- quote -- "firmly committed" to the agreement.
This follows a strong rebuke from the European Union's foreign policy chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEDERICA MOGHERINI, FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, EUROPEAN UNION: It is not a bilateral agreement. It does not belong to any single country. And it is not up to any single country to terminate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Here to discuss this and much more is the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
Secretary Tillerson, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: My pleasure, Jake.
TAPPER: So, before we get to what the president did, I want to ask a question.
You said recently that Iran is in technical compliance with the deal. But President Trump said on Friday that the Iranian regime has -- quote -- "committed multiple violations of the agreement."
So, which is it? Is Iran in technical compliance, or has it committed multiple violations?
TILLERSON: Well, the answer is really both, Jake.
Under the nuclear agreement, the JCPOA, that is a multilateral party agreement, there have been a number of technical violations, carrying too much inventory of heavy water, having materials that are used to construct high-speed centrifuges.
But, under the agreement -- and this is part of the weaknesses and the flaws -- Iran has a significant period of time to remedy those violations. And so they have remedied the violations, which then brings them back into technical compliance.
I think, though, that demonstrated pattern of always walking right up against the edges of the agreement are what give us some concern as to how far Iran might be willing to go to test the limits from its side of the agreement.
Our response to that has been to work with the other parties and demand that we be much more demanding of the enforcement of the agreement, much more demanding inspections, much more demanding disclosures. And that's what we are shifting since we have taken our seat at the table of the joint commission.
President Trump decertified the deal on Friday, but he did not withdraw from the deal, as he could have. Did the president want to withdraw unilaterally before people in the administration such as yourself, Secretary Mattis and others, successfully persuaded him to pursue what might be described as a middle course?
TILLERSON: No, what the president wants is a more comprehensive strategy to deal with Iran in its totality.
I think, for too long, and certainly the last administration really defined the Iranian relationship around this nuclear agreement. This nuclear agreement is flawed. It has a number of weaknesses in it.
But -- and so the president said throughout his campaign even, he said, I will either reform the agreement, I will renegotiate the agreement, basically saying, I will either fix these flaws, or we will have to have a different agreement entirely.
And I think his decision around the new policy is consistent with that. So, now we want to deal with the nuclear agreement's weaknesses, but we really need to deal with a much broader array of threats that Iran poses to the region, our friends and allies, and, therefore, threats that they pose to our own national security.
The policy itself really has three components. And I think it's important that people understand this. And the president described these in his speech.
There is the nuclear agreement, which we are going to undertake an effort to see if we cannot address the many flaws in the agreement, working with partners. It may be a secondary agreement. Maybe it's not within the existing agreement, but we may undertake a secondary agreement.
But then there's a much broader array from threats from Iran, its ballistic programs, its support of terrorist organizations in the region, Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas. These are all very threatening organizations.
And its destabilizing activities in Yemen to support the rebels, the Houthis, to support the rebels in Syria, the Assad regime. Everywhere you look in the region, Iran's activities destabilize the region and threaten others.
But the third element of this policy -- and the president touched on it in his address -- is, this is not about the Iranian people. This is about the regime in Iran, this revolutionary regime that, ever since it came to power, has been intent on killing and harming Americans and harming others in the region.
We do not hold the Iranian people accountable for that. So, our effort is to support the moderate voices in Iran, support their cries for democracy and freedom, in the hope that, one day, the Iranian people will retake control of the government of Iran and restore it to its rich history of the past, reintegrate, and become a fruitful member in trade, commerce in the region.
So, that is really the endgame here. But that's a very long game, and we realize that.
TAPPER: Before the Senate not long ago, your counterpart at the Pentagon, Secretary Mattis, was asked if he thought staying in the agreement was in the best interests of the United States, not a question about whether or not he wanted to improve upon the deal or add a secondary deal, as you just discussed, but whether or not the U.S. should stay in it or leave.
And he said staying in it was his course. It sounds like you agree with that as well, that you would not want Congress to immediately impose sanctions that would end this deal.
TILLERSON: No, I do agree with that.
And I think the president does as well. That's why he took the decision he took that, look, let's -- let's see if we cannot address the flaws in the agreement by staying within the agreement, working with the other signatories, working with our European friends and allies within the agreement.
But that -- as I said, that may come in a secondary agreement as well. So, we want to take the agreement as it exists today, as I said, fully enforce that agreement, be very demanding of Iran's compliance under the agreement, and then begin the process of addressing these flaws that we see around not -- the absence of addressing ballistic missiles, for instance, the concerns we have around the sunset provisions, this phase-out of the agreement.
You know, we -- we know what that looks like. We have seen this in the past in the '90s with North Korea, agreements that ultimately phase out.
What happened has put us on the road where we are today with North Korea. We don't want to find ourselves in that same position with Iran.
TAPPER: Speaking of -- of North Korea, you talk about working with European allies. As you know, our European allies are very concerned about the step that President Trump took on Friday.
I want to show you what the German foreign minister had to say -- quote -- "My big concern is that what is happening in Iran or with Iran from the U.S. perspective will not remain an Iranian issue, but many others in the world will consider whether they themselves should acquire nuclear weapons, too, given that such agreements are being destroyed."
And I guess the question there is, as voiced by the German foreign minister, why should North Korea believe anything that the United States has to say if the president has shown his willingness to walk away from agreements about nuclear weapons?
TILLERSON: I think what North Korea should take away from this decision is that the United States will expect a very demanding agreement with North Korea, one that is very binding and achieves the objectives, not just of the United States, but the policy objectives of China and other neighbors in the region, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
We intend to be very demanding in that agreement. And if we achieve that, then there will be nothing to walk away from, because the objective will be achieved.
The issue with the Iran agreement is, it does not achieve the objective. It simply postpones the achievement of that objective. And we feel that that is one of weaknesses under the agreement, so we're going to stay in. We're going to work with our European partners and allies to see if we can't address these concerns, which are concerns of all of us.
TAPPER: All right.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, stay right here.
We are going to take a very quick break.
We have got a lot more to talk about, including your role in establishing a dialogue with North Korea, something the president said is a waste of time.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: And we're back, back with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Secretary Tillerson, you were in China. We were just talking about the North Korean problem. You were in China trying to resolve the dispute with North Korea in a diplomatic way.
President Trump tweeted: "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he's wasting his time trying to negotiate with little Rocket Man." And then he sent a second tweet saying: "Save your energy, Rex. We will do what has to be done."
Now, if I were a Chinese official or a North Korean official, seeing these tweets while you were there trying to negotiate and trying to solve this problem, I might think, Secretary Tillerson doesn't really speak for President Trump.
TILLERSON: Well, Jake, fortunately, President Trump and President Xi have probably one of the closest relationship the president has with a head of state.
As you're aware, they have had two major face-to-face meetings, the summit in Mar-a-Lago, a very comprehensive bilateral in Hamburg. The president speaks to President Xi on the telephone frequently. I think they have had eight -- seven or eight calls. I have a very close relationship with the state councillor of China, who reports directly to President Xi on their foreign policy.
So, rest assured that the Chinese are not confused in any way what the American policy towards North Korea or what our actions in it and efforts are directed at. So...
TAPPER: But don't tweets like that undermine you?
TILLERSON: Well, I think the president -- what the president is doing is, he's trying to motivate action on a number of people's part, in particular the regime in North Korea.
I think he does want to be clear with Kim Jong-un and that regime in North Korea that he has military preparations ready to go and he has those military options on the table. And we have spent substantial time actually perfecting those.
But -- but be clear. The president has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically. He's not seeking to go to war.
TAPPER: So, he doesn't think it's a waste of time?
TILLERSON: But I -- no, sir.
He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts, which we are, and we will -- as I have told others, those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.
TAPPER: The relationship that a secretary of state has with a president is one of the most important relationships in the world.
World leaders need to know that you speak for him, and that he has faith in you and that you have faith in him.
NBC News reported that you were frustrated with President Trump over the summer, and you called him a moron during a meeting at the Pentagon.
Now, you have dismissed the question as petty. But this is literally one of the most important relationships in the world, the one between you and President Trump.
Is it true? Did you call him a moron?
TILLERSON: Jake, as I indicated earlier when I was asked about that, I'm not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff.
I mean, this is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo, and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way.
I don't work that way. I don't deal that way. And I'm just not going to dignify the question.
I call the president "Mr. President." He and I have a very, very open, frank and candid relationship. I see him often, speak to him nearly every day. I'm in the Oval Office a number of hours every week.
We have -- we have a very open exchange of views on policy. At the end of the day, he makes decisions. I go out and do the best I can to execute those decisions successfully.
And he understands at all times what we are trying to achieve to fully implement his foreign policy.
He has assembled a very, I think, unconventional team. He himself is an unconventional president. He's assembled an unconventional Cabinet. I'm an unconventional pick for secretary of state.
But that's because he does not accept the status quo, with the many threats that we are confronting in the world today. And he's going to take forcing action. And, oftentimes, the tweets or decisions he takes are intended to cause this forcing action, to get off of the status quo, to force people to take action and move to a different place.
So, whether it's the decision on the Iranian agreement that was announced to force action to address this defective agreement, whether it's decisions on forcing North Korea to move to a different place of engagement, all of those are steps the president is taking to force action.
He is not going to accept the status quo. The American people elected him to change the status quo. And that's what he's doing.
TAPPER: Ever since you called it petty, I have been thinking a lot about it, because I'm -- I'm a reflective guy, and I understand the media makes mistakes, and the media always could improve.
But here's the thing. Either you didn't say it, in which case there are a whole bunch of administration officials telling the press and telling the president that you did -- and that's a serious problem -- or you did say it. And, look, you're a serious guy. For you to say something like that suggests a real frustration with the commander in chief.
So, when you don't answer the question, it makes people think that you probably did say it. But, either way, whatever happened, it is serious.
So, can you please clear it up?
TILLERSON: As I said, Jake, I'm not playing.
These are the games of Washington. These are the destructive games of this town. They're not helpful to anyone.
And so my position on it is, I'm not playing. I'm not playing. You want to make a game out of it, I'm not playing.
TAPPER: I'm not making...
TILLERSON: It's as -- it's as simple as that.
TAPPER: I'm not making a game out of it.
I mean, I'm just trying to seek clarity, because saying that -- if I said that my boss was a moron, that would be a serious issue. It wouldn't be -- and my boss doesn't control nukes.
I'm willing to move on, but I just want to be clear. You still haven't denied that you called him a moron. And, you know, a lot of people are going to watch this and think, he probably said it.
TILLERSON: I'm not dignifying the question with an answer, Jake.
And I'm -- I'm a little surprised you want to spend so much time on it, when there are so many important issues around the world to deal with.
TAPPER: I want to ask about Senator Bob Corker, who said something about you. And he was referring -- he's a friend of yours. He has tremendous respect for you. He speaks highly of you all the time. He says that you're one of the best things about the Cabinet.
And he's dismayed. He thinks President Trump is constantly undermining you. This is a Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He said the president has -- quote -- "castrated you before the world stage."
That's his word, not mine.
What's your response to that?
TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated earlier, Jake, I think this is an unconventional president. He uses unconventional communication tools. He uses unconventional techniques to motivate change. And for people that have been around Washington a long time, this is a
place that -- you know better than I -- you have been here longer than I have -- this is not a place that likes to change. It actually enjoys the status quo.
The last thing anyone likes to do in this town is make a decision, because when you make a decision, you're suddenly accountable for that decision.
TILLERSON: And so the president is -- is out trying to motivate people to change, whether it's on health care, whether it's executive action he recently took to motivate that change, whether it's on executive orders around immigration to motivate that change, or whether it's under the action he took under the Iran deal on Friday.
It's to motivate a change. People in this town get very nervous and get very uptight about having to address serious issues by making decisions.
So, the president is simply trying to do that in his very unique style. And he is very unique. I don't think there's any doubt that anyone sees him as anything other than the most unique president we have certainly ever seen in modern history, that we can -- we have recorded history of.
TAPPER: Hard to dispute that.
TILLERSON: But, again, I would say I am fully committed to his objectives.
I agree with his objectives. I agree with what he's trying to do. How he wants to use his own skills tactically to push thing toward change, I'm there to help him achieve those.
TAPPER: That's all you -- you're a cattle -- you have a cattle ranch. You don't want to say anything about the senator calling -- suggesting you have been gelded before the world? That's not anything that bothers you?
TILLERSON: I checked. I'm fully intact.
TAPPER: I did not expect that answer.
So, let's turn to Russia.
Senator John McCain, a Republican, and Ben Cardin, a Democrat, they slammed the Trump administration on Wednesday for missing a deadline to implement sanctions passed by Congress against Russia.
It was clear that President Trump didn't want to sign that legislation. He made that very clear, but it was passed through with a veto-proof majority, so he signed it into law.
But it does seem, at least according to McCain and Cardin, that the administration is slow-walking the implementation of these sanctions.
How do you respond?
TILLERSON: Well, with respect to Russia in particular, we're being very careful to develop the guidance that companies need, because there are business entities that need guidance.
There are important allies and partners in NATO, other parts of the world, who need specific guidance, so that they do not run afoul of the sanctions act as well.
So, we're working with the Treasury Department to develop the guidance, develop the guidelines, so people understand what will be allowed and what will bring them afoul of the sanctions themselves, putting themselves at risk.
I have been through one session on that. It's with Treasury now. We are going to get those guidelines out, so that we can begin the full implementation of the act. We have every intention of implementing Congress' intent.
TAPPER: President Trump says that the United States is more respected now in the world than it has ever been, polling to the contrary notwithstanding.
What do you think is the Trump administration's greatest achievement internationally since you became secretary of state?
TILLERSON: Well, I think there have been more than just one.
But a couple I would highlight is, the president early called on NATO member countries to step up their contribution, step up their commitment to NATO, modernize their own forces. And he got a lot of blowback from that, concerns that we were going to leave NATO, that we were not committed to Article V.
He's been very clear. And, as a result of that, countries have stepped up their contributions for their own defense. This leads to a strong NATO, which we desperately need, with the threats that all of us are aware of in the European theater and beyond, in Central Asia, where NATO is playing a very important role in the fight against terrorism.
The second area I'm quite proud of that he's brought great international support for is our policy towards North Korea, the implementing of sanctions, the implementing of diplomatic pressure.
We now have the most comprehensive sanctions in place that have ever been put in place to strangle the North Korean regime's economic revenue streams. We have China now joining us in putting pressure on North Korea in ways that has never been achieved before.
And I attribute a lot of that to the very strong relationship President Trump has with President Xi.
So, we have the international community more unified against North Korea's nuclear program than we've ever seen, countries sending North Korean ambassadors home.
So, it's a combination of economic, diplomatic pressure, and then the president building a very strong message to North Korea that you will engage with us at some point to solve this, because we're not going to allow you to have nuclear weapons, and if I have to take the ultimate decision, the tough decision, the hard decision, the one-I-don't-want- to-take decision, I will.
And so I think, in North Korea, we have completely unified the international community, including North Korea's previously closest allies now are aligned with us. I think that's a significant achievement from a foreign policy standpoint for this president.
TAPPER: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, thanks so much for your time.
We hope you will come back. And we wish you the best of luck in your job.
TILLERSON: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: A top Republican senator is calling the White House an adult day care center and saying the vast majority of his colleagues in the Congress share his concerns about the president.
We will ask a different Republican senator if that's true -- coming up next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Trump followed through on a long-discussed threat this week, ending the cost-sharing subsidies to health insurance companies.
The president hailed the move as a way to stop a Democratic -- quote -- "windfall" to insurance companies.
But President Trump's former chief strategist framed it as a move to destroy Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Then you had Obamacare. Not going to make the CSR payments. Going to blow that thing up. Going to blow those exchanges up, right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Joining me now is a Republican lawmaker who has voted to block all of the recent Republican efforts to overhaul Obamacare, Senator Susan Collins of Maine.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us today.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, let's begin right there.
By scrapping these subsidies to health insurance companies, is President Trump, as Steve Bannon said, blowing up Obamacare?
COLLINS: Jake, the debate in Washington has been on whether or not to repeal and replace Obamacare in the future.
What the president is doing is affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care right now.
This is not a bailout of the insurers. What this money is used for is to help low-income people afford their deductibles and their co-pays, so that their health care is available to them.
In addition, the president has taken steps to cut off funding to reach people who are eligible for subsidies under the ACA.
[09:30:06] So, these certainly are very disruptive moves that will result in smaller numbers of people being insured that will make it more difficult for low income people to afford their out-of-pocket costs and that will destabilize the insurance markets.
TAPPER: Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Senator, but you're saying that President Trump is taking actions that will hurt American citizens.
COLLINS: I do believe that. I'm very concerned about what the impact is going to be for people who make under 250 percent of the federal poverty level because the funding that is available under the cost- sharing reductions is used to subsidize their out-of-pocket costs. And if they can't afford their deductible, then their insurance is pretty much useless.
TAPPER: Let's turn to the Iran deal, another part of the Obama legacy that President Trump is trying to dismantle.
Back in 2015 you called Obama's Iran nuclear accord -- quote -- "fundamentally flawed." Now that President Trump is punting this issue to Congress are you willing -- do you think it would be wise to vote for additional sanctions on Iran that would kill the existing deal?
COLLINS: Well, I think it's important to distinguish between what the president did and did not do.
He has the authority to reimpose the sanctions unilaterally. He did not choose to do that. Instead, he put a spotlight on two very important flaws in the agreement.
One is the fact that it does not stop Iran from testing and developing ballistic missiles. And second, he put emphasis on the sunsets that are included in the agreement. Those are important because it means that Iran merely has to be patient in order to ultimately design and develop a nuclear arsenal.
So, I think there are real deficiencies in the agreement. And I believe that we should take advantage of this window to do two things.
One is to see if we can strengthen the agreement to address those two flaws in particular and, second, and this is important, the administration needs to consult with our allies because this was a multilateral agreement not a bilateral one.
TAPPER: OK. But as of right now, you wouldn't be in favor of voting right now to impose new sanctions on Iran to essentially blow up the deal. You just want to strengthen the deal and work with allies?
COLLINS: I want to strengthen the deal and work with allies but I want to see what the Senate formulations committee, both of whose leaders, Senator Corker and Senator Cardin, oppose the agreement that the Obama administration negotiated come up with for legislation. And we have a window to do that.
TAPPER: Speaking of Senator Corker, he called the White House a -- quote -- "adult day care center" this week. He warns that the president's recklessness could set the nation -- quote -- "on the path to World War III." He said his concerns are shared by nearly every Republican in the United States Senate.
Is he right?
COLLINS: First, let me say, I have enormous respect for Senator Corker. His office is right down the hall from mine. We're friends.
And he is a very valuable leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The president has surrounded himself with very good and experienced members of his national security team. And I think what the president needs to realize is that his words really matter.
When he makes an off the hand comment like the calm before the storm, as he did recently, both our enemies and our allies analyze that comment to figure out what it means. He does not have the luxury that he had when he was in the private sector of saying whatever comes into his mind. So I don't think the Twitter war is particularly productive, but the president needs to remember that his -- every word he speaks matters now that he is president of the United States.
TAPPER: Just to read between the lines there, you didn't say you disagree with Senator Corker but I do want to ask you about your big announcement this week that you're not going to run for governor of Maine, you're going to stay in the United States Senate. Are you staying in the Senate, in part, because the Republican Party, in your view, needs more officials like you who are willing to serve as an independent check on President Trump?
COLLINS: I'm staying in the Senate because I believe that's where I can do most for the people of Maine and for the nation.
The issues we're dealing with now are so consequential. They are so important whether it's dealing with the threat from North Korea or frustrated families who need tax reform. The issues are just huge right now.
This has been an unconventional presidency. And I think that my ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle in a bipartisan way is needed now more than ever.
In making my decision, I talked with three friends who have served in both roles, Angus King, my colleague from Maine; Judd Gregg, former senator and governor from New Hampshire; and Lamar Alexander, senator from Tennessee and former governor of that state. They helped me walk through this issue and their advice and counsel, along with the many opinions I received from family, friends and constituents in Maine led me to my decision.
TAPPER: All right. We're glad that we're going to have a few more years of having you as a guest on our shows. Thank you very much, Senator Collins.
COLLINS: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just minutes ago talking with me about North Korea and saying diplomatic efforts with the rogue nation will continue -- quote -- "until the first bomb drops." We'll discuss that with our panel, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You have a cattle ranch. You don't to want say anything about the senator calling -- suggesting you've been gelded before the world. It's not anything that bothers you?
TILLERSON: I've checked, I'm fully intact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Was not expecting that response from Secretary Tillerson. With me to discuss that and much more is our political panel.
Bill Kristol, I want to start with you. Just give me your general reactions to Secretary Tillerson. BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: You know, I've been watching for three decades I never expect to see that exchange with the Secretary of State of the United States.
His defense of President Trump ends up being President Trump believes in forcing action. He's a disrupter, he does these things and then Congress is going to work them out. We need change.
I mean, I believe we need change from President Obama's policies, which I think mostly failed in foreign policy. But it's weird. It's unusual to defend the president and not he has a strategic vision, here is how we're implementing it. Of course, it's complicated but rather he sort of tosses little hand grenades into the room and that forces change.
TAPPER: What did you make, Congresswoman, of the fact that he still will not answer the question as to whether or not he called President Trump a moron in a private meeting in the Pentagon over the summer?
REP. ROBIN KELLY (D-IL), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I'm sure he's embarrassed.
Like he said it was supposed to be a private meeting and somehow it got out to the press but a lot of other things got out to the press. But he just reminds me of a soldier just remaining committed and dedicated to his general. And he's not going to step out of line, no matter what he may think personally.
TAPPER: Yes. Interesting.
President Trump spoke to the Values Voter Summit here in Washington, D.C., on Friday. He said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In the last 10 months we have followed through on one promise after another. I didn't have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say, we are substantially ahead of schedule.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: David Urban, you're a supporter of President Trump. Do you agree?
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: I agree totally, Jake. The president and this administration have done so much so far. I mean, I just happened to sketch down a few things -- right?
TAPPER: What a coincidence.
URBAN: What a coincidence, right.
URBAN: So success and military operations versus ISIS, veterans issues, expanding G.I. bill benefits, streamline (ph) investigating or firing a bad V.A. employee. V.A. and DOD for the first time having a health care system that talk to each other, right. Federal hiring freeze, rolling back regulatory -- the regulatory regime for every one that gets pointed out, you have to repeal two.
Renegotiating NAFTA. Pittsburgh not Paris. Keystone pipeline, immigration ban, border security and 20 percent less, you know, apprehensions at the crossing in Mexico. A Supreme Court justice that, Bill, I think, it would agree --
TAPPER: So -- a lot.
URBAN: But I'm still going.
KRISTOL: Well, you -- this will be an interesting panel. Well, just take it easy here, David. (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Neera, you --
URBAN: There's a laundry list.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I might disagree though. I --
TAPPER: Do you disagree that he had -- I mean, I know you disagree with that he achieve but you disagree that he has achieved things?
TANDEN: I think Donald Trump has done a lot through executive actions. I think he has failed utterly in the legislative process, heretofore at this moment he has passed no major legislation. The only bill that has passed the Congress is one that was over his objection, Russia sanctions. The reason why he took action this week to raise people's premiums, essentially, which is what he did on Friday --
TAPPER: By killing the subsidy.
TANDEN: By killing the subsidies is because he out of possibly personal peak (ph) or hostage taking with the American people. He couldn't pass a bill through Congress and is trying to threaten Democrats.
I mean, don't listen to me. Republican after Republican said, what he did will hurt people. And it is because he hasn't actually passed a single bill. And not with Democrats, with Republicans.
TAPPER: So, Bill, let me ask you this.
Is what we saw on Friday when President Trump took the stage -- the steps to undermine Obamacare and undermine, although not kill the Iran deal, are those steps any different than a President Cruz or a President Rubio or a President Kasich, necessarily? Well, let's take Kasich off. That a President Cruz or a President Rubio would have taken?
KRISTOL: No, I think they were pretty -- Republicans are pretty standard. Republicans were against the Iran deal and were committed to figuring out once it's put into effect, so that you can't snap your fingers and go back to status quo.
I think they we're committed to changing our Iran policy. They were against Obamacare and thought the subsidies for insurers were illegal and the court agreed with them. I think the difference is in both cases you need a strategy and you need to work with Congress on that strategy.
And in the Iran deal, I'm hopeful because I think H.R. McMaster and others have really done a better job than we've seen so far in the Trump administration of trying to think things through, work with members of Congress, so forth. But you need to -- you know, to actually legislate in place of things you're removing.
I mean, I think -- Congress also does deserve some blame. I mean, look, Trump removed those cost subsidies of the insurers. Congress can pass legislations to make that happen.
The entire Democratic Party is for it. A lot of Republicans are for it. They should do it honestly.
Force Trump to veto it if he doesn't want to. I don't know why Congress is more passive than I would have expected.
TANDEN: There is a Democratic and Republican bipartisan working group on this. And I think they will have a bill.
The problem is, what's weird about what the president has done, is he's taken action that drives up premiums for people by 20 to 25 percent when he said he wanted to reduce cost.
TAPPER: According to CBO.
TANDEN: Other steps to undermine preexisting conditions there's a bipartisan plan and he won't get behind that bipartisan plan.
He's against the bipartisan plan. He's against it -- he's against the actions --
TAPPER: Let me ask you, Congresswoman --
KELLY: That's always the problem. That there's many bipartisan plans. Will a bill be brought to the floor and voted --
TANDEN: If Donald Trump said today the Republicans should pass the Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray plan it would speed (ph) to (ph) (INAUDIBLE) both sides --
TAPPER: Neera, you should be less --
TANDEN: It is not -- it is not (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Neera, you should be less differential to the president.
KRISTOL: Congress can do it on their own. It's hard on the House --
TANDEN: They should. They should do it. I'm just saying --
KRISTOL: But you know what they could get a discharge position in the House and they can do it --
TAPPER: I want to ask congresswoman -- Congresswoman, one interpretation of what president Trump did is that he is trying to force Pelosi and Schumer to come to the table. Do you think that's accurate and do you think that they should go to the White House and try to make a deal?
KELLY: Well, I'm all for trying to make a deal and be diplomatic and bring us together because I don't want to be in a Congress that people say, as Bill reminded you, what people think of you is very low.
KRISTOL: Not in that context.
KELLY: You know and I don't want -- he did it in a nice way. But what the American people think of us.
So, I do want to see what we can do, how we can work together in a bipartisan manner. I don't want to be in that Congress as people say, we don't get anything done.
URBAN : But, Jake, Speaker Pelosi in a very tenuous position within her own caucus.
URBAN: I mean, look at where the -- no? No?
How do you say no? I mean --
TANDEN: I think she -- I think she -- the challenge for Pelosi is one thing -- she could -- the entire Democratic caucus, the entire Democratic caucus, is fine with a plan to help fix the Affordable Care Act. There is not a single member of the Democratic -- it's the Republican --
URBAN: N After -- after --
TANDEN: It's the Republicans who won't let it come to the floor.
KRISTOL: We don't know if they'll let it come to the floor. If they pushed it really hard, and I really think this is a case, if we could talk to my Democratic friends, they should be more aggressive trying to get this legislation to the floor, trying to get 25 Republicans --
TANDEN: They are. They are.
URBAN: This whole -- hold for a second. After your party went and sat with the president and came up with a deal on DACA and -- listen, they were --
TANDEN: We want that deal and agreement --
URBAN: No but -- but -- hold on. Your team, your side, (INAUDIBLE) the press conferences were berated by their constituents.
TAPPER: Let the congresswoman have the last word here.
KELLY: That's some people, that's one portion of the party. But most of the party is behind --
TANDEN: Let's do this --
URBAN: Let's see. Let's see. I --
TANDEN: The president will (INAUDIBLE). The president will (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Great panel. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Have a great Sunday, everyone.
Melania Trump is, of course, the first lady but now a former Mrs. Trump is claiming that title for herself. First wife at least. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
It's not often that a first lady has to defend her undisputed title as first lady but that's just what Melania Trump felt she had to do this week when a former Mrs. Trump tried to take that title for herself and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): That's brand new reality show in Washington, D.C., and New York, the real ex-wives of President Donald Trump.
IVANA TRUMP, FORMER WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: I don't really want to call him there because Melania is there. I'm basically first Trump wife, OK?
I'm first lady. OK?
TAPPER: All over Washington you could hear people saying oh, no she didn't. And the real first lady wasn't having it.
Her office issuing a statement saying, "This is unfortunately only attention seeking and self-serving noise" -- unquote.
IVANA TRUMP: She just has to get over it.
TAPPER: The first lady versus the first wife. We could get T.V. host Andy Cohen to officiate.
ANDY COHEN, T.V. HOST: First Lady Melania Trump, please join me. Ivana, honorary first lady. Marla Maples, you come too.
TAPPER: Donald Trump may not be the first divorced president but his ex files are the longest.
TRUMP: I have a very good relationship with Ivana. I think I have a very good relationship with Marla.
TAPPER: The two former Mrs. Trumps' relationships with one another not so much.
IVANA TRUMP: She's a show girl. Never achieved anything in her life.
TRUMP: One thing they all ex-wives and wife seem to agree on, they cannot change Mr. Trump.
MELANIA TRUMP: I just say OK. Do whatever you want.
He is an adult. He knows the consequences.
TAPPER: But I do think it's fair to assume if this reality show were to ever hit T.V. as a series President Trump would watch.
TRUMP: You're going to get great ratings. What do I get out of it?
TAPPER: And I guess the ultimate lesson, when it comes to having the last word, Ivana said it best.
IVANA TRUMP: Don't get mad, get everything.
TAPPER: Coming up next, former Democratic presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She will weigh in on Iran and North Korea and her relationship with Vladimir Putin.