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Trump and McConnell News Conference. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 16, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to look at that very closely.

QUESTION: And does his sponsorship of that law in any way undermine your confidence in him as drug czar?

TRUMP: Well, he's a good man. I have not spoken to him. But I will speak to him and I'll make that determination. And if I think it's -- I think -- if I think it's 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change, yes.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) a national emergency, sir. A written national emergency --

TRUMP: One second.

Yes.

QUESTION: What about declaring a written national emergency for this crisis? You talked about it, but you haven't --

TRUMP: We are going to be doing that next week.

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: And, by the way, you know that's a big step. By the way, people have no understanding of what you just said. That is a very, very big statement. It's a very important step. And to get to that step, a lot of work has to be done and it's time consuming work. We're going to be doing it next week, OK?

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, what --

QUESTION: Did you have a chance during your lunch today to discuss the comments that Steve Bannon made this weekend and what do you make of those comments, declaring war on the Republican Party, declaring war on you?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Look, I -- you know, the goal here is to win elections in November. Back in 2010 and 2012, we nominated several candidates, Christine O'Donnell, Sharon Engel, Todd Aiken, Richard Murdock. They're not in the Senate. And the reason for that was that they were not able to appeal to a broader electorate in the general election.

My goal, as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, is to keep us in the majority. The way you do that is not complicated. You have to nominate people who can actually win because winners make policy and losers go home.

We changed the business model in 2014. We nominated people who could win everywhere. We took the majority in the Senate. We had one skirmish in 2016. We kept the majority in the Senate. So our operating approach will be to support our incumbents and, in open seats, to seek to help nominate people who can actually win in November.

That's my approach. That's the way you -- that's the way you keep a governing majority.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President -- Mr. Trump -- Mr. President -- Mr. President, sir -- Mr. President, what -- Mr. President -- sir -- sir --

QUESTION: Mr. President, earlier today you criticized drug companies and also insurance companies saying that drug companies were charging prices that were too high and insurance companies were taking government money.

TRUMP: Yes. Exactly right.

QUESTION: What specifically would you like to see both of those types of companies do?

TRUMP: So the insurance companies have made a fortune with Obamacare. An absolute fortune. As you know, what I did with the cuts at the end, which were all going -- you know, you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars a month going right into the pockets of the insurance companies. And I'm very happy with what I did.

And because of that, people are talking now. Democrats are talking to the Republicans for a short-term, taking care of what we will call health care so that people can have good health care without big spikes. You would have had massive spikes. You already have. I mean every year the massive spikes to Obamacare have been ridiculous.

As far as -- and I had -- didn't speak to Mitch about this today, but a priority of mine, and you know that this is coming up, will be the cost of prescription drugs. We're going to get the costs way down. Way down. And those drug companies -- so you have the insurance companies on the one case.

In the other case, actually, with regard to both, you have the drug companies. They contribute massive amounts of money to political people. I don't know, Mitch, maybe even to you. But I have to tell you, they contribute massive amounts of money. Me? I'm not interested in their money. I don't need their money.

I will tell you, you have prescription drugs. You go to England, you go to various places, Canada, you go to many, many countries and the same, exact pill, from the same company, the same box, same everything is a tiny fraction of what it costs in the United States. We are going to get drug prices, prescription drug prices way down because the world is taking advantage of us. The world is taking advantage of us when that happens. So that's going to be very important.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President -- sir -- Mr. President --

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you.

On health care, there are about 6 million people that get subsidies to help pay for Obamacare. About 70 percent by one study come from states that you won in November.

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: Now that you've cut off these payments, are you going to ensure that those people will still get help from the federal government to pay for that insurance?

TRUMP: Well, that's what we're looking to do, Joe (ph). We want to get it down so that people can have affordable health care.

Look, you look at some states, 116 percent up. In Alaska, over 200 percent up. In other states, 50 percent, 70 percent up. And those are some of the states that are doing better.

Obamacare is a wreck. It's a mess. It's destroying lives. We want to get it, in those states, the states that I did so well in, but also in states that I didn't win. I want to get health care that's much more affordable and much better health care and that's what we're doing.

(CROSS TALK)

[14:05:03] Yes.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) tax reform timing -- let me ask you about tax reform --

TRUMP: Go ahead, tax reform.

QUESTION: Yes, tax reform. You had said the other day that there were some adjustments being made.

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: Gary Cohn said today that there would be some things that are negotiable. What exactly in your eyes is negotiable? And then for the leader, you said that the top priority is tax reduction. You did not say tax reform om 2017, Leader McConnell, so (INAUDIBLE) commit specifically to tax reform in 2017, for the both of you. TRUMP: So we are doing minor adjustments. We want to make sure that the middle class is the biggest beneficiary of the tax cuts and tax reform. And that's, I'm sure, what Mitch meant also because people get it confused. We are doing massive tax cuts.

We're also doing simplification and reform. Simplification where literally if we can do it on one page. Now, in some cases it may be two pages, but we're doing major simplification. We're bringing the categories down from -- if you -- if you include zero, because there are zero, we're bringing it from eight to four. That's a big, big simplification just that alone.

But we are doing a -- the massive cuts. And I will say this, wherever I've been, this has been so popular with the people. Now we have to get a couple of additional people to raise their hands.

Mitch.

QUESTION: Mr. President.

MCCONNELL: Yes, I agree with the president, it's about both reduction and reform. It's been 30 years since this kind of effort was undertaken successfully and we're going to succeed this time. The bills -- the details of them will be written by the Ways and Means and Finance Committees after we approve the budget and, obviously, the budget opens the path to tax reform. But it's about both, about both reform and reduction.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, North Korea. Mr. President --

QUESTION: Why haven't we heard anything from you so far about the soldiers that were killed in Niger and what do you have to say about (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: I've written them personal letters. They've been sent or they're going out tonight. But they were during the weekend. I will, at some point during the -- the period of time call the parents and the families, because I have done that traditionally.

I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel bad. It's the toughest -- the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed. It's a very difficult thing. Now it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day, it's a very, very tough day. For me that's by far the toughest.

So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I am able to do it.

They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call. I'm going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I'm going to be calling them. I have, as you know, since I've been president, I have. But in addition, I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers

we're talking about and they're going to be going out either today or tomorrow.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Why did it take so long (ph)?

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

General Kelly said on just last week that you believe that Cuba could stop the attacks against Americans. Do you believe then the Cuban --

TRUMP: I do. I think Cuba could --

QUESTION: You believe Cuba is responsible?

TRUMP: Sure, I do believe Cuba is responsible. I do believe that. And it's a very unusual attack, as you know, but I do believe Cuba is responsible.

Yes.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Mr. President. Last --

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Roy Moore down in Alabama has said that he believes homosexuality should be illegal and that Muslims should be barred from serving in the U.S. Congress. What makes you comfortable with someone with those beliefs serving in the U.S. Senate? And the same question to you, Mr. Leader.

TRUMP: Well, I'm going to be meeting with Roy sometime next week. And we're going to talk to him about alit of different things. But I'll be meeting with him. He ran a very strong race. The people of Alabama, who I like very much and they like me very much, but they like Roy. And we'll be talking to them and I can report to you then, OK?

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: All right, Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE) this question is for you and for Leader McConnell, following up on your comment on (INAUDIBLE). One of the issues outstanding right now is whether the Senate Judiciary Committee will keep the tradition of (INAUDIBLE). And I wonder if you (INAUDIBLE), Mr. President, and what your position is, Leader McConnell, just to know this is the position (ph) that right now (INAUDIBLE).

MCCONNELL: I can give you my position. The blue slip, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is a

custom determined by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And Senator Grassley can give you his view of how he views it. I'll give you my view.

My view is that a blue slip on a circuit judge is simply a notification of how you're going to vote. To conclude otherwise would have left us in the following position at the beginning of this Senate. Forty-eight Democratic senators would have been able to black ball 62 percent of the circuit judge nominees. That's simply not a tenable place to land in a Senate that now deals with judges on the -- with a simple majority.

[14:10:32] So my own personal view is, that a blue slip on a circuit judge should simply be a notification of how you intend to vote.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President --

QUESTION: Mr. President --

QUESTION: Mr. President --

TRUMP: We could talk blue slips, but my attitude is, I just want really capable people going to the courts.

Peter.

QUESTION: Mr. President, in 2012 you tweeted that Obama's complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are B.S., in your word, since he had full control for two years. He wrote, he can never take responsibility. But today you said about some of the challenges right now in Congress and in Washington, I'm not going to blame myself, I'll be honest, they're not getting the job done. So what's different then than now?

TRUMP: Well, let me just explain what's different. We have nominations pending right now and we have 182 -- if you look at this, the number that he had approved was 65 percent and 70 percent. We have 39 percent. They're holding up every single nomination.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: Schumer and the group are holding up every single nomination. They are obstructing. They're doing -- it's really what -- I'm telling you, they're not good politicians, but they're very good at obstruction. They are holding up every single nomination.

And I will tell you, Peter, it's not right. It's really not right. They'll bring them right out to the end, that last minute. What they're doing is unfair.

So you look at even Bush. You look at Obama. You look at Clinton and you look at Bush original, you have 389 versus 182. These are approvals. You look at Clinton, 357 versus 182. You look at President Obama, 364 versus 182. These are nominations approved. And what they're doing to us, we have unbelievable people in there waiting to be approved. They've been waiting for a long period of time.

Now, I do believe that Mitch is going to start pushing them very hard. And he can do that. And he wants to do that. He also wants to get the judicial nominations through. And he wants to get them through faster.

QUESTION: What about on health care though?

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: How about on --

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead, John. (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Go ahead, John.

QUESTION: Could I just follow on that if I could, please?

You seem to have a budding spirit of cooperation with the Senate minority leader and the House minority leader when it came to the budget and it came to this idea of finding a fix for DACA. But every proposal that you have floated since then, they have very critically rejected. So where is this relationship?

TRUMP: Well, I hope to have a relationship. If we don't, we don't. I mean we have races coming up and, as you know, in a year from now. I think we're going to probably do very well. I can say this, if we get taxes approved, we're going to do unbelievably well.

Many of the senators are running in states that I won by massive amounts, 20 -- over 20 percent, sometimes 30 percent. I guess in one or two cases, by over 40 percent over the Democrat.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Well, we're going to let you know that at -- I would like to give you that answer in about seven years from now. Is that OK? Meaning -- one plus seven.

QUESTION: Mr. President, sir --

TRUMP: I hope -- John, I hope to be able to because I like the concept of bipartisan. But right now they are doing nothing but obstructing. And really, you know, if you think about it, they're against major tax cuts that's going to make our country stronger and more competitive. That's a hard thing to win an election on. And I believe that some Democrats will be voting for us when it comes to the tax cuts.

(CROSS TALK) QUESTION: Mr. President. Mr. President, sir --

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) what about the development -- what about this economic development bill that you mentioned? (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: I'm going to be proposing an economic development bill in the not too distant future. I want to get tax cuts, obviously, done first. Maybe even the health care. But I think somewhere either in between or shortly thereafter. I'm going to be developing an economic development bill that will put us so far ahead of other countries, you will not even believe it. That will be very important.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, sir? Mr. President, sir -- sir, Mr. President --

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. -- thank you, Mr. President.

Last week your administration made two major announcements on rolling back the Iran deal and getting rid of the cautionary reductions as part of Obamacare. And a lot of criticism has been leveled at your administration saying that really all you're doing --

TRUMP: And a lot of praise.

QUESTION: Fair enough, sir. Rolling back -- what you're doing is simply rolling back everything your predecessor accomplished. Is there a single policy of your predecessor that you specifically do not want to touch, sir?

[14:15:04] TRUMP: Well, we're very opposite in terms of incentives and incentives for jobs and other things. And if you look at what happened, we just hit a new high today again in the stock market. We've picked up, Mitch, it's as of this moment, $5.2 trillion in stock market value. We have the lowest unemployment rate in, I believe, it's almost 17 years.

We're doing well. We're going to be doing immigration work that's going to be outstanding and we're going to have people coming into our country based hopefully on a merit system, not just coming in randomly. But they're going to be coming in based on a merit system where they can help us because I have companies moving into this country. You saw what happened with the automobile industry last week with five major plants. We have companies pouring back into this country for the first time in anybody's memory. We are actually going to be fairly soon at a point where we're going to need workers. Our country is going to do so well. But the tax cuts are going to be a major, major part of it.

QUESTION: But is there a single policy you keep in place, though?

TRUMP: Well --

QUESTION: Is there a single policy to keep in place?

TRUMP: Not -- not too many. I must say. It's the opposite side of the spectrum.

QUESTION: Sir, sir, if I --

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Peter. Go ahead, Peter.

QUESTION: Just a quick question. Earlier you said that President Obama never called the families of fallen soldiers. How can you make that claim?

TRUMP: I don't know if he did. No, no, no. I was -- I was told that he didn't often. And a lot of presidents don't. They write letters. I do -- excuse me, Peter. I do a combination of both. Sometimes it's a very difficult thing to do, but I do a combination of both. President Obama, I think probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told. All I can do -- all I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call. They'd write letters. And some presidents didn't do anything. But I like -- I like the combination of -- I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you.

Sorry.

Are you feeling happy --

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) -- sorry. Who would you like to call on?

TRUMP: All right, one at a time.

QUESTION: Who would you like to call on?

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Me. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

QUESTION: If it would help you -- if it would help Special Counsel Robert Mueller get to the end of the Russia investigation --

TRUMP: Well, I'd like to see it end. Look, the whole Russian thing was an excuse --

QUESTION: Would you (INAUDIBLE) Russian hack was illegal (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.

The whole Russia thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election and it turns out to be just one excuse. I mean today Hillary blamed Nigel Farage. That one came out of nowhere. So that was just an excuse for the Democrats losing an election that frankly they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. They should always be able to win in the Electoral College. But they were unable to do it.

So there has been absolutely no collusion. It's been stated that they have no collusion. They ought to get to the end of it because I think the American public is sick of it.

Go ahead.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, Veronica Clearly (ph) with Fox 5.

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you believe that your comments in any way affected Bowe Bergdahl's ability to receive a fair trial, and can you responds to his attorney's claims that --

TRUMP: Well, I can't comment on Bowe Bergdahl because he's, as you know, they're -- I guess he's doing something today, as we know, and he's also -- they're setting up sentencing. So I'm not going to comment on him. But I think people have heard my comments in the past.

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) will you extend the -- will you extend the deadline for DACA recipients if Congress can't pass a bill by March? (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Well, they should be able to do something. But we need very strong border security and we do want the wall.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) question is about those fires (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: No, they haven't. In fact, I spoke to Governor Brown. We had a great conversation. We have FEMA there. And, as you know, James Lee Witt gave us an a-plus. And I think if you didn't include the fires, he would include the fires also. We have FEMA there. We have military there. We have first responders there. It's a tragic situation. But we're working very closely with the representatives from California and we're doing a good job.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President -- Mr. President -- Mr. President -- Mr. President -- Mr. President -- TRUMP: Go ahead, in the back.

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Yes, go ahead, in the back.

QUESTION: In the wake of an avalanche of allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, your campaign is being subpoenaed for any documents relating to sexual harassment allegations made against you. Do you have a response to that?

TRUMP: All I can say is it's totally fake news. It's just fake. It's fake. It's made-up stuff. And it's disgraceful what happens. But that happens in the -- that happens in the world of politics.

John.

QUESTION: Mr. President, on the wall, are you going to insist that you must have wall funding before you would sign something for the dreamers or spending for the rest of the year? If I could --

TRUMP: Our country needs a wall. Mexico, you see what's happening there, you see what just happened yesterday with one of their big political leaders. Mexico is not doing particularly well when it comes to the kind of things that we have great interest in. Drugs are pouring across our border. We're stopping it. But we need a wall to really stop it. We need a wall in this country. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. We have to have a wall. So that's going to be part of it.

(CROSS TALK)

[14:20:14] QUESTION: Puerto Rico remains without basic services (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: Well, the Puerto Rico situation is so -- because as you know, --

QUESTION: The federal response has been outstanding (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: Oh, I think will. That's according to the Clinton administration's head of FEMA, it's been outstanding.

Puerto Rico is very tough because of the fact it's an island. But it's also tough because, as you know, it was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit. Their electrical grid was destroyed before the hurricanes got there. It was in very bad shape, was not working, was in bankruptcy, owed $9 billion. And then on top of that, the hurricane came.

Now, you're going to have to build a whole new electrical plant system. We're not talking about generators. You know, we moved -- Puerto Rico now has more generators, I believe, than any -- any place in the world. There are generators all over the place. The fact is their electrical system was in horrible shape before and even worse shape after. So we are working right now -- as you know relief funds we just

approved and are in the process of being approved by Congress and that includes Texas, by the way, that includes Florida and it also includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, et cetera. But it was in really bad shape before. We have done -- I will say this, we have done --

QUESTION: Mr. President, people don't have drinking water.

TRUMP: We have -- well, we've delivered tremendous amounts of water. Then what you have to do is you have to have distribution of the water by the people on the island. So we have massive amounts of water. We have massive amounts of food. But they have to distribute the food and thy have to do this. They have to distribute the food to the people of the island.

So what we've done is we now actually have military distributing food. Something that's really they shouldn't have to be doing. But if you look at the governor, who's a good man, by the way, but you look at the governor of Puerto Rico, he himself has said we've done an outstanding job. And most people have said we've done an outstanding job.

But Puerto Rico is a very tough one.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) your support for the 20-week abortion ban bill. How important is this bill to you and what are you doing to work with Leader McConnell to make sure this gets through the Senate.

TRUMP: Well, I'll let Mitch -- do you want to talk about that?

MCCONNELL: Was the question about the 20-week -- yes, well, it's supported by virtually all of my members and we expect to have a vote on it at some point.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) there are those who believe this would be the worst time to do that because it would be viewed as provocative. How do you view what you're trying to accomplish in South Korea and do you intend to go to the DMZ?

TRUMP: Well, I'll be going, as you know, to South Korea, to China, to Japan, to Vietnam for the summit. We have a big economic summit there. I may be going to the Philippines also. We've been invited. We've been invited to the Philippines. I may be going to the Philippines. And I look forward to all of them.

We haven't set the details as of this moment.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) provoking North Korea by going to the DMZ?

TRUMP: We'll take a look at that. I didn't hear in terms of provoking, but we will certainly (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A quick follow-up on an earlier question (INAUDIBLE). You discussed the special council and the investigation (INAUDIBLE). Are you considering firing Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: No, not at all.

QUESTION: And one quick follow-up on Iraq, sir. On Iraq. The Kurdish forces and Iraqi forces last night were clashing in northern Iraq. Are you concerned about a larger conflict in the region while U.S. forces are still advising on the ground?

TRUMP: We don't like the fact that they're clashing. We're not taking sides. But we don't like the fact that they're clashing.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: We -- let me tell you, we've had, for many years, very good relationship with the Kurd, as you know, and we've also been on the side of Iraq, even though we should have never been in there in the first place. We should never have been there. But we're not taking sides in that battle.

John.

QUESTION: Mr. President, in an interview earlier today, Hillary Clinton said that she did not believe that players taking a knee in the NFL was about disrespecting the flag. That's complete odds with the way that you had portrayed this. You fired back in a tweet saying that you hope that she runs again in 2020. Why is she --

TRUMP: Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again!

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So she's at odds with you over whether or not this is disrespecting the flag. Is she right or is she wrong?

TRUMP: I think she's wrong.

Look, when they take a knee, there's plenty of time to do knees and there's plenty of times to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee -- she -- well, that's why she lost the election. I mean, honestly, it's that thinking, that is the reason she lost the election.

When you go down and take a knee or any other way, you're sitting, essentially, for our great national anthem. Your disrespecting our flag and you're disrespecting our country. And the NFL should have suspended some of these players for one game, not fire them, suspended them for one game. And then if they did it again, it could have been two games or three games and then for the season. You wouldn't have people disrespecting our country right now.

[14:25:15] And if Hillary Clinton actually made the statement that in a form sitting down during the playing of our great national anthem is not disrespectful, then I fully understand why she didn't win. I know -- I mean -- I mean, look, there are a lot of reasons she didn't win, including the fact that she was not good at what she did. But I will tell you, that is something that I had just heard about, and I think that -- I think that her statement in itself is very disrespectful to our country.

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Sir, what about police involved shootings? What about police involved shootings as it relates to the NFL? That is what the players are saying is the (INAUDIBLE) why they're taking a knee, sir. The police involved shooting issue. What are you doing about that?

TRUMP: It is very disrespectful to our country when they take a knee during our national anthem. It is very -- just hear it. Hear it. It is very disrespectful to our country when they take a knee during the national anthem, number one.

Number two, the people of our country are very angry at the NFL. All you have to do is look at their ratings and look at their stadiums. You see empty seats where you never saw them before. A lot of people are very angry at it. It is highly disrespectful. They shouldn't do it.

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, is health care now Trumpcare?

QUESTION: Come on back! Come back. Come back.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, will Secretary Tillerson stay on the job, Mr. President?

(CROSS TALK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there's the president and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrapping up about a 45-minute news conference right there in the Rose Garden at the White House. Lots and lots of news. I don't know where to start, but let's start with what the president suggested, that he has an excellent, outstanding relationship with the senate majority leader and are going to work feverishly in the coming weeks to get major tax reform through.

Lots of issues, national security issues, North Korea. He specifically said Cuba is responsible for the attacks -- the attacks on American diplomats in Havana. He said he will be making phone calls, writing letters to the four soldiers who were killed in Niger, the green berets. He went after the insurance companies. He went after the drug companies. And he said that he talks to Steve Bannon all the time, even though Steve Bannon and Mitch McConnell have a very, very strained relationship, to put it mildly.

Let's go around the table. Gloria, what stood out for you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what stood out to me was the arranged marriage between Mitch McConnell and the president of the United States. And it had all of the warmth of an arranged marriage with Mitch McConnell always saying, I agree with the president, I agree with the president.

On a political level, it's very clear that someone's gotten to the president and said, you've got to work with him if you want to get anything done. And the news out of that politically, before we get to everything else, was that he said he's going to see if we can talk Steve Bannon out of running challengers against a few of these Senate Republicans.

Now, I guarantee you that is something that Mitch McConnell brought up because he went out there and said, look, this happened to us earlier with all these candidates, fringe is what he meant, he didn't use the word, and we lost and we lost those races. And so Mitch McConnell basically said to Steve Bannon, game on and the president said, I'm going to try and fix this for you.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And when the president was asked about this earlier, what I found so interesting --

BORGER: Right.

CHALIAN: There was no mention of this whatsoever.

BORGER: None.

CHALIAN: When Mitch McConnell was standing next to him in the Rose Garden, when he was in the cabinet room, he was, go, Steve, go! You know, this is -- that Steve Bannon has a point of view, that he does speak to him all the time --

BORGER: Exactly.

CHALIAN: And that he is going to pursue this strategy. There was no mention of, maybe we'll talk him out of a few of those primaries. And now, after meeting with Mitch McConnell and standing in the Rose Garden, all of a sudden Donald Trump wanted to play nice with Mitch McConnell --

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.

CHALIAN: And said, maybe we'll try to talk Steve out of some of those primaries.

HENDERSON: Yes. BORGER: Well, and you can see that it's sort of the last person he talks to and clearly some -- they've gotten to him and said, you have to work with this guy. But I guarantee you, when Steve Bannon gets him on the phone, their -- Steve Bannon is going to say, these people are not your friends. And they were not your allies in the campaign. And they're going to undermine you to the very end. And here's the president, of course, who said he took no responsibility for the failures of the United States Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, whom he has tweeted about saying that he was a failure.

HENDERSON: Yes, that he was a failure and that they couldn't get anything done.

BORGER: Right.

[14:29:53] HENDERSON: Quickly, there's sort of a different timeline that he has now in terms of how long they actually have to get stuff done. Maybe the tax cuts will go into 2018. He mention, I think, McConnell and the president mentioned that Obama took a little while to get health care actually through the Senate, even though the old argument was that it was sort of rushed through. So, yes, I mean, I think, if you were looking for Mitch McConnell's --