Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
President Trump Touts Republican Tax Plan; North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile; Japan Seeking Emergency U.N. Security Council Meeting on North Korea. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 28, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:01] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the other thing, they want tax increases, and we want major tax decreases.
So, they decided not to show up. They have been all talk, and they have been no action. And now it's even worse. Now it's not even talk.
So, they're not showing up for the meeting. I will say this. In light of the missile launch, probably, they will be here fairly quickly or at least discussions will start taking place fairly quickly.
I think that we're in a very good position in terms of the meeting that we just had over at the Capitol with the Republican senators. It was outstanding. I think we have tremendous support.
I was just informed by Mitch that we had a unanimous vote, from the Republican side at least. We had a unanimous vote on the tax bill. And it goes now the next step. And I think we're going to get it passed. I think it's going to pass and it's going to be very popular. It's going to have lots of adjustments before it ends, but the end result would be a very, very massive, the largest in the history of our country, tax cut.
And lots of good things are going to happen, including the bringing back to our country of -- it probably will end up being over $4 trillion, money offshore that is stagnant that companies have -- they are just not able to bring it back. So I think it's going to be a number over $4 trillion.
Corporate will be able to compete now against the world. If you look at China, if you look at so many other countries, you look at many of the countries, China's at 15 percent. They're lower than us. We're getting it down to a level that is either going to be lower or right in the ballpark, so that we can compete much better with our companies, our great, great companies.
And that means jobs and it means lots of other things. I'm very happy to see that the consumer confidence level is just about the highest it has ever been. In fact, I don't want to make any mistakes in front of the press, because you will get me on it, but the best of my knowledge, it's the highest it has ever been. Consumer confidence has been setting records. They have confidence in the people leading their country. And I will
say that I think it's going to go better and better, and I do believe that this vote on taxes, which are really tax cuts and reform, is going to be very, very important.
So we had a good day today. We had a phenomenal meeting with the Republican senators. We had -- it was very special, that meeting. In many respects, I wish you could have been inside that room. It was very, very special, the comradery. It was somewhat of a lovefest. They want to see it happen. They want to see it happen, not only for the Republican Party.
I think, much more importantly, they want to see it happen for the country, because they know how important it is for us to compete and win.
And with that, I -- maybe we will start with Paul Ryan to say a few words about where we stand with different things, and then I will ask Mitch McConnell.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: OK.
I will just briefly say, I think it's regrettable that our Democratic colleagues and the leadership chose not to join us today. For a bill to become a law, Congress has to pass a bill and the president signs a bill. That means Congress and the White House always negotiate legislation.
We have important work to do. We have big deadlines to meet. We have a military in need of our support. And that work needs to happen now. And I just think it's very regrettable that our Democratic colleagues in leadership chose to not participate, because we have to negotiate these bills to get this work done for the people who we represent, and especially to help our military with these difficult situations we have.
And I just hope that our friends in leadership on the other side of the aisle will choose to participate, so we can get the people's work done.
TRUMP: Thank you, Paul.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. President, I would just add, I have been in this position under a couple of previous presidents. I can't recall ever turning down an opportunity to go down to the White House.
As the speaker mentioned, only one person in America can sign a bill into law, and that's the president of the United States. You cannot negotiate the year-end omnibus spending bill without the person who signs the bill in the room.
So I think the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate need to understand the way the government works. And we -- the administration has to be a part of the ultimate negotiation over what the spending level's going to be for the next year. TRUMP: Well, we are very far apart, because our views on crime and
our views on immigration and the military, so many, are different, but a lot of things have happened even over the last two hours with respect to the missile launch.
We want our military funded and we want it funded now. It's going to be bigger, better, stronger, it already is, than ever before. But we want to get going on that now. So that is a difference, in all fairness, from this morning, when I told them that we are way, way far away.
And with that, I may just have General Mattis say just a couple of words about what he has found out.
General, do you want to say just a couple of little pieces of information?
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Mr. President, Senator, Speaker, a little over two-and-a-half hours ago, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.
It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken, the research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that could threaten everywhere in the world basically.
And in response, the South Koreans have fired some pinpoint missiles out into the water to make certain North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally. But the bottom line is, it's a continued effort to build threat, sir, a ballistic missile threat, that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States.
TRUMP: Thank you, General. And we will take care of that situation.
Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
QUESTION: These missile launches today, does it change anything about your basic approach to dealing with the...
TRUMP: Nothing changed. Nothing changed. We have a very serious approach. And nothing changed. We take it very seriously.
TRUMP: If that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats. If it happens, it's going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall, which everybody wants.
I got elected partially because of a border wall. You look at the military, we want strong funding for the military. They don't. So many things. But, as an example, they want high taxes. We want cut taxes. We're going to cut taxes. We're going to reform. We're going to simplify. They want high taxes. We want low taxes.
So there's a lot of big differences. So we will see what happens as to shutdown. We will see.
But right now, things have changed over the last two hours because two hours ago a missile was launched. I think that will have a huge effect on Schumer and Pelosi, I think. We will see. We're going to learn very soon.
They should be calling immediately and say, we want to see you, but probably they won't, because nothing to them is important other than raising taxes. That's the only thing they like doing is raising taxes.
Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's President Trump there in the Roosevelt Room addressing yet another ballistic missile launch from North Korea about 1:13 this afternoon East Coast time, also talking about the tax bill and slamming, as you heard, Democratic Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, saying that they're all talk, no action, all they like to do is raise taxes.
We have a team of CNN reporters and contributors to discuss and cover all angles of these stories.
Let's begin with CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
And, Jeff, normally, the president, I don't think, sits the Democrats next to him when he has these meetings. Normally, it's the Republicans. But he's making a show there of the fact that the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, of New York and the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, of California, they skipped this meeting. Bring us up to speed on how this all went down. Why are they not there?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you're absolutely right.
And I was struck by that as well, seeing those two empty chairs right there. And the top two Republicans in the this town other than the president were relegated to the sides of the table, Speaker Ryan and Speaker -- or -- and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
They always sit next to the president. And, of course, this is the photograph the president wanted. He was very cognizant of the visuals. But this all started several hours ago, when the president sent out a message on social media priming the pump for this meeting, if you will.
And it's an example of tweets that have consequences. And the consequence was that the Democrats decided to not show up because of what the president sent out on Twitter.
So let's start there. Look at this message he sent out this morning. He started with a dear Chuck and Nancy, if you will. He said this. He said: "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about keeping the government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked, are weak on crime, and want to substantially raise taxes. I don't see a deal."
So, Jake, what the president is doing there is conflating several things, talking about immigration, of course. That's not the Democrats' position on this. But he's saying he doesn't see a deal on this. So, he essentially was saying, you know, there is no reason to come to the meeting because he didn't see a deal.
So, the Democrats simply called his bluff and took him up on that. Now, we will see how long this goes on. This is childish, to say the least, on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, but the reality here is, it does set the parameters for the conflicts heading into the month of December, because to avoid a government shutdown, you know, they certainly need to get some Democratic votes on the spending plan.
But at the very end there, Jake, I was struck by when the president said that -- he said that Democrats will own a government shutdown. He said, "I would absolutely blame the Democrats."
We couldn't see the faces of Speaker Ryan and Senator McConnell there, but they know, Jake, that Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections will also bear the brunt of any potential government shutdown, because Republicans sort of own that brand, in you will.
So, a bit of a dog and pony show here at the White House. Not much progress made on that spending bill that must be done before the end of the year -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.
Stick around. My panel's here with me.
And before I get to you guys, I want to play the response from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York to President Trump's tweet. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: With his tweet this morning, President Trump made sure that today's meeting is nothing but a photo-op. These issues are far too serious for these kinds of games.
Mr. President, it's time to stop tweeting and start leading.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, Amanda Carpenter, let me start with you.
There obviously are some legitimate sticking points when it comes to a government spending bill, but the fact is, Republicans control the House and the Senate. And they could pass a government spending bill without Democratic support, but the fact is that there are a lot of Republicans that are not going to vote that way.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but I do think everything is moving the right direction.
But more significantly from this meeting, Trump's performance that we just saw, I think we saw his strategy beginning for 2018 and 2020. What he is doing right now is defining the Democratic Party. He was more on message just a few minutes ago than I think he's been in the past year. He said Democrats are weak on crime, weak on illegal immigration, weak on the military and for higher taxes.
That is a straight Republican message. And what is Donald Trump good at? He is very good at defining his opponents and going negative, negative, negative.
I don't think he has any real intention -- if tax reform passes, great, but is he much more comfortable attacking Democrats relentlessly? Absolutely. That's what he's going to do for the next year or two.
TAPPER: Paul Begala, if you do had been advising Pelosi or Schumer, would you have told them don't go to the meeting?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Absolutely. Here's why.
We're 10 days away from a government shutdown. And, Jake, that's actually the funding of the government, which will require 60 votes in the Senate to get passed. The Democrats have a very weak hand. They don't have a majority in the House or the Senate, and yet the one thing they have is leverage over a potential government shutdown.
That happens December 8. That's only 10 days away. With each day, their leverage increases. It's very smart for the White House to invite them in Washington -- 10 days is a long time before one of these shutdowns. Very smart to offer them to come in.
Very dumb for the president then to give them an excuse to blow it up. Yesterday, he of course uses a racial slur to insult a member of the Senate, a Democratic member of the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. This morning, this drive-by tweet gives Chuck and Nancy the perfect excuse to maximize their leverage and say, you know, we will just wait, we will just hold off, because he did say in the tweet there is no deal coming.
And I think the reason perhaps, in addition to the photo shot that Zeleny was talking about, one of the reasons I think they didn't want McConnell and Ryan on camera is they understand that each day that goes by, their power shrinks and Chuck and Nancy's increases.
Rana, let me ask you. The Republican tax bill cleared a big hurdle today, passing the Senate Budget Committee 12-11 on a party-line vote. Part of the Republican tax bill is cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Republicans say that will spur economic growth, create jobs, pay for the tax cuts themselves.
Is that accurate? Are you buying it? What do economists think?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN ANALYST: Not buying it.
Almost all mainstream economists and many on the right, frankly, say this tax bill is simply not going to create jobs and growth on Main Street. You look at the last 20 years, tax cuts have really not created growth.
You have to go back to the Reagan era, at which point many things in the economy were very, very different. Really, what we need to be doing at this point is think how we're going to fund a social safety net under the many people that may have problems at the end of what is probably an economic expansion.
We're a decade into this expansion. That's typically how long they last. This is not the time to be cutting taxes on the wealthiest corporations that have more power than any other entity in the U.S. right now.
TAPPER: Amanda Carpenter, Republicans feel very strongly that they need to deliver something to their voters. Otherwise, there will have been no major legislation passed in 2017.
Is that rallying cry, the idea that Republicans need to do something, we need to be able to go back to our voters, our constituents and tell them we did do this, is that winning the day, even though there are some Republicans that have concerns along the lines that Rana just enunciated?
[16:15:08] CARPENTER: Yes, I mean, there are Republicans that have concerns, but the reason they're continuing to go in the right direction, no one is drawing a red line in the sand and saying I will not vote for this bill unless this happens. You sort of see these senators saying I have concerns about pass-throughs but they're willing to advance the process.
And more importantly, I think Speaker Ryan has been able to keep all of these conservative groups sort of in the tent, moving in the same direction. You don't have the House Freedom Caucus jumping ship. You don't have a group like Americans for tax reform jumping ship.
Everyone is still staying onboard. So I do think this passes. But I think a lot of senators want to be more comfortable with the messaging and be able to look Americans in the eye and say this absolutely cut taxes for everyone in a fair and equitable way. They're just not quite there yet.
TAPPER: Paul, during the lunch with Republicans in the Senate that President Trump had earlier today, the president said that he supported this bipartisan effort, the health care market stabilization bill, that was being put forward by Republican Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray. That is a move towards bipartisanship.
Does that surprise you at all? BEGALA: It does. Of course everything this guy does surprise me,
Jake. You're right. But both Senator Alexander, respected Republican out of Tennessee, Senator Murray, respected Democrat out of Washington, have been among the few who have been able to put together bipartisan deals in Washington in the last few years.
I would say it's a very hopeful sign, but I would remind you that way back on October 17th, the president said he was going to cancel the payments, those Obamacare payments that today apparently told the Senate Republicans he was for. So, it's hard to know with Donald Trump. He's a man of his most recent word. So, I guess that's his most recent word, maybe we should take it. But I wouldn't put a lot of stock in it.
TAPPER: And, Rana, there are 10 Democrats up for re-election in 2018 in red states, states that went for Trump. Do you think they're going to feel pressure to join Republicans on the tax bill, join Republicans when it comes to government funding?
FAROOHAR: You know, I really don't think so. I just think that this tax bill is such a hard sell to Main Street. And, you know, really, despite the fact that we've got a couple more Republicans on board that had been on the fence, there had been eight on the fence, there are still six on the fence.
And the concerns are in many different baskets. We got people that are worried about the deficit and the tax bill increase in the deficit. You got people worried about small businesses, you got people, you know, worried about Obamacare. I think that's a tough message for some Republicans to take home, let alone Democrats, so I really don't see that.
TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around.
I want to turn now to Will Ripley. When the president spoke just minutes ago, he also declared that the United States will take care of North Korea, after, of course, the rogue regime test-fired yet another ballistic missile.
As I mentioned CNN's Will Ripley is here with us. He's coming to us from Seoul, South Korea today.
Will, what can you tell us specifically about this launch?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, Jake, that this is, as the defense secretary said, the highest that a North Korean missile has ever traveled, about 2,800 miles up into space essentially, 10 times higher than the International Space Station for context.
But it flew on a familiar trajectory, heading in an easterly direction, coming down about 130 miles off of Japan. This is not the highly provocative launch towards the U.S. territory of Guam that North Korea threatened over the summer. So, what they've done here is demonstrated as they did back in July, except launching this missile even higher, that they have this intercontinental ballistic missile. But what North Koreans have also been threatening to do is to show
that they have the ability to marry this kind of missile with a nuclear warhead. And in fact, back in September, North Korea's foreign minister made a very provocative threat, saying that North Korea may, in fact, detonate a nuclear device over the Pacific Ocean.
So, what I've been speaking to North Korean officials, they told me they had basically two things to prove to the United States and the Trump administration. One, that they have this missile, and, two, that they can actually use it to detonate a nuclear device, which means a seventh nuclear test at some point.
The big question, is North Korea going to follow through on that threat? Will they feel they demonstrated enough of their capability? Is it posturing or will there be more provocative tests to follow?
That's the big concern certainly in the region, what the next test could trigger, because this test by taking the trajectory it did, it obviously didn't provoke any military response from the United States. You heard President Trump say that the U.S. policy of maximum pressure on North Korea continues.
TAPPER: Let me bring in right now, CNN national security analyst, General Michael Hayden. He's a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency. He once served in South Korea.
General, good to see you, as always. So, this missile flew about 600 miles for almost an hour, more than 50 minutes, with an altitude of nearly 3,000 miles, the highest one so far. What does that tell you?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it tells you that the North Koreans are advancing steadily in what appears to be a carefully worked out program. And I think you saw that reflected in Secretary Mattis' remarks. It went longer, it went higher, and if you turn those factors into a normal ICBM trajectory, I've seen figures like 8,000 miles in terms of range.
[16:20:04] Now, Jake, we don't know what was on it. We don't know whether they had a dummy warhead or not. That might not be an operational range.
But clearly, it's the most capability that they have shown. And as you and I have discussed in the past, they appear to be on a clear path to get to the place that your reporter just suggested they want to get to.
TAPPER: Which is to be able to deliver a nuclear warhead on an ICBM.
Defense Secretary Mattis, you heard him meeting with the president in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, saying that North Korea has the ability to hit, quote, everywhere in the world basically, unquote, with an ICBM missile. That seems like a pretty dire warning.
HAYDEN: It is. But it was very carefully worded. I actually was much more comfortable with Secretary Mattis' description of where the North Koreans are, where they're going and what that means, rather than the ambiguous, we'll take care of that, because I'm not quite sure what that means.
But he was saying, he was trying to I think pull the rest of the world into this problem. This thing can range you also so you need to be equally concerned on it.
TAPPER: This is obviously a problem that President Trump inherited. But we should note that since President Trump took office, the Kim regime has conducted 23 launches and one nuclear test. That is a rapid clip.
How much danger do you think the U.S. is in right now from North Korea?
HAYDEN: Well, I don't think they have the actual capability to do the kinds of things that we fear. They're just getting closer to that capability. Jake, there is going to come a point and Mike Pompeo at CIA has suggested were at or very close to it, a point at which we can no longer tell that they're not in that place they want to be. They've gotten that close to that condition.
And you're right, President Trump is very fond of saying I inherited a mess. I chalk that up to whining in a lot of cases, but not in this one. He's inherited a real problem.
But, Jake, what's happened in the ten months of the Trump administration is that the North Koreans have more powerful missiles and more powerful weapons than they had ten months ago. It suggests that we are where we are not because of the failure of past administrations, but simply because this is a wicked problem and I don't know that we yet have an answer for it.
TAPPER: General Hayden, stay right there. We have lots more to talk about. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[16:26:33] TAPPER: We have some breaking news just in now. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that Japan is seeking an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting saying, quote, the international community needs to unite. This, of course, coming after North Korea launched yet another ballistic missile test.
Minutes ago, President Trump said the U.S. will handle the situation in North Korea.
CNN's Ryan Browne is live for us at the Pentagon now.
And, Ryan, what are defense officials saying about the launch?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Jake, defense officials told CNN just a little while ago that this missile flew about 2,800 miles in the air, thus making it the highest of North Korean missile has ever flown -- something that was confirmed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis shortly after his meeting with President Trump, where he said that the missile potentially could pose a threat to the entire world. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they've taken. It's a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWNE: Now, defense officials say that North Korea still has additional steps it would need to take for this kind of missile to actually pose a threat. That would include the reentry vehicle. They have yet to demonstrate that capability. That is when it returns to Earth's atmosphere, not having it break up. An actual warhead, which is heavier, that could affect how a missile flies.
However, the sergeant major of U.S. Pacific Command which oversees U.S. troops in the region said today at the Pentagon that North Korea posed a threat not just to the United States but to its allies and other countries in the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. MAJ. ANTHONY SPADARO, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: You know, the continued missile and nuclear tests does demonstrate that North Korea poses not only a threat to the United States but to our allies as well in the region. And this is what we have to look at right now. It's just part of the continuing process. So, as it develops, we'll know more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWNE: Now, Secretary Mattis also said that South Korea had conducted its own military drill, firing what he called pinpoint artillery strikes into the neighboring waters as a show of force in response to North Korea's actions -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan Browne at the Pentagon for us -- thank you, Ryan.
Let's continue the conversation with the former head of the CIA and the NSA, retired Air Force General Michael Hayden.
General, North Korea has shown no willingness to negotiate. It says that it will not end its nuclear missile program.
Is it worth the U.S. trying director face-to-face talks?
HAYDEN: Oh, of course it is, Jake. And, look, there are only two off ramps here, all right? One is going to war and the other is sitting down at some table somewhere with the North Koreans and developing some mutually agreed way ahead.
Both of those are ugly options, make no mistake about it. Jake, it's interesting, too, I think the North Koreans just conducted the least provocative test they could conduct and still meet their operational needs. In other words, what I'm trying to suggest to you here, Jake, although there is probably some messaging involved in this missile launch -- this is part of a testing program. They are intent to getting to this place, the capable missile, the capable weapon, and I don't think they're going to be willing to talk until they get to that place and then after that we'll see what develops.
TAPPER: General, before you go, I want to ask you, you got a lot of attention this week for how you reacted to President Trump attacking on Twitter CNN International, calling it fake and phony. You tweeted, quote: If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I've wasted 40 years of my life. Until now, it was not possible for me to conceive of an American president capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the First Amendment.
Those are pretty strong words. What made you say that?