Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Retweets Convicted Racist's Videos Bashing Muslims; President Trump Touts Tax Plan in Missouri. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 16:00   ET


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I used to say it and that's what's happening. That's what's happening.


TRUMP: And then the governor's going to come to that beautiful, historic Oval Office, he's going to say to me, Mr. President, the people of Missouri cannot stand all this winning. They don't want to win so much.

They love the old way where they had lousy job numbers, lousy economic numbers, lousy -- they loved it. Please, Mr. President, please not -- and I'll say Governor, I don't care what they say in Missouri, we're going to keep winning, and winning, and winning, and winning and we're -- remember? That's right.


TRUMP: I used to say that, I had fun with that. But we are winning, we're winning again. We're winning a lot bigger than anyone ever thought possible for such a short period of time. For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates. It happens, many, many companies, they're going to Ireland, they're going all over.

They're going all over Asia, but they're stopping because they now want to take advantage of what is happening and what we're about to pass, hopefully. My administration rejects the off-shoring model. In other words, let's build a factory in the other country, isn't that wonderful? That really helps us a lot. Fire everybody and let's build the product, and let's send it in without tax back into the United States. That model doesn't work for me. It never worked and it shouldn't have worked for any of our other past presidents, believe me.


TRUMP: Our new model is the American model. Call it the Trump model, where we build it here. As much as possible, we build in here. Simply put, our tax plan is anti off-shoring and 100 percent worker, 100 percent pro-America.


TRUMP: Under the American model, we're reducing burdens on our business as long as they do business in our country. OK? They do business here. Now, we love Mexico, it's a wonderful place. But I don't like when our car companies move to Mexico, fire everybody, build the same car in Mexico, send it through our borders with no taxes, no nothing, and we buy the car, same price, we buy the car. In the meantime, what do we get out of it, we get no tax and we get unemployment all over. That's stopping. So now, the plants are starting to move back. And now there's a price to pay when they do that little number on us.


TRUMP: That's how we all succeed and we grow together as one team, one people, as one American family.


TRUMP: This week's vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker. To summarize, our plan cuts taxes for the working and middle-income families. It nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero. It lowers tax rate. It expands the child tax credit. It provides relief from the estate tax, also known as the death tax. It cuts small business taxes. It reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent, and it provides a one-time low tax rate to return corporate money parked overseas -- trillions and trillions of dollars.

This is the right plan. This is the right time. We have a moment in time. The Republicans have the Senate. The Republicans have the House. The Republicans have the White House. It's very unusual, very unusual.


TRUMP: This is our chance to free our economy from our workers, from the terrible tax burdens. We have workers that are so burdened with taxes. We're freeing our workers from those terrible burdens. Republicans in Congress campaigned on cutting taxes. We also campaigned on repeal and replace -- it's going to happen. It's going to happen. Take your time. It's going to happen. Going to happen.

Many Democrats have promised tax cuts that don't mean anything because they really want major tax increases. Senator Claire McCaskill -- have you ever heard of her?


TRUMP: Is doing you a tremendous disservice. She wants your taxes to go up. She's weak on crime. She's weak on borders. She's weak on illegal immigration. And she's weak on the military. Other than that, I think she's doing a fantastic job.


TRUMP: But now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp and which politicians want to drain the swamp.


TRUMP: If you make your voices heard and call up your congressmen -- and they've been terrific. And call up your Senators, and they have been totally terrific. Most of them have been incredible. They really are. They're really friends of mine. They've been incredible. But it doesn't take much. That's why we need more. We need to have a larger number. Most of them have been incredible, but call your Senators. Call your Congressmen because we have no choice. We have to act. We have to act as a country. This isn't good for the Republican Party. This is good for the country. And that's, ultimately, what it's all about.


TRUMP: So this week, hopefully, the Senate can join the House and take that strong stand for middle-class families and for business and for jobs and for competition and for bringing money back. Together, we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present.


TRUMP: And remember, I was the one when I was here the last time, I said, we're going to have Christmas again; I was the one that said you go to the department stores and you see Happy New Year and you see red and you see snow and you see all these things. You don't see Merry Christmas anymore. With Trump as your president, we are going to be celebrating Merry Christmas again, and it's going to be done with a big beautiful tax cut.

Thank you everybody. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.)


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's President Trump wrapping up a speech in St. Charles, Missouri, touting the Republican tax plan.

The familiar refrains of the Rolling Stones there. He made a mention of North Korea, calling out Kim Jong-un as -- quote -- "Little rocket man," after, of course, the rogue regime test-fired yet another missile.

CNN's Abby Phillip is in Missouri for us covering the president there.

Abby, what was the main thrust of the president's selling points for this tax plan today?


Well, the president talks a lot about this being a middle-class tax break for Middle Americans. He used St. Charles' Main Street as the focal point of these remarks, calling out a couple of local businesses here who he said are examples of the kinds of people he wants to benefit from this.

But, at the same time, the president also claimed that he wouldn't benefit at all from the tax bill. We know that that's not exactly true. His businesses and wealthy folks like him and his children would benefit, but the president's talking a lot about the middle class here today going forward.

TAPPER: All right, Abby Phillip with the president in Missouri.

Now, for anyone catching up on news for the first time today, the president has stepped on his message about taxes and lowering taxes. Let me ease you into what he did this morning with something a little bit more rational.


TRUMP: We will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence.


TAPPER: That was President Trump in May, a rational, sane speech read from a teleprompter.

And quite a different message from this morning, when President Trump went on Twitter and retweeted anti-Muslim videos from a far-right group in Europe to his 43 million-plus Twitter followers. His three inflammatory retweets show a young man being beaten and thrown from a rooftop, as well as somebody destroying a Virgin Mary statue, the purpose of the videos clearly to depict Muslims as savages, even though it's not entirely clear that all the people in the videos are Muslim.

This one, for example, purports to show a migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches, but the embassy of the Netherlands tweeted to President Trump that the perpetrator here was not a migrant -- quote -- "Facts do matter," the embassy said in a tweet.

"The perpetrator of this violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands" -- unquote.

So, where did President Trump find such vile content, irresponsibly shared, devoid of context, false in at least one case, with the sole purpose, seemingly, of inflaming and encouraging fear and hatred?


Well, the original tweets come from this woman, the deputy leader of the extreme right political group Britain First in the U.K..

Just last year, she was accused of -- quote -- "religiously aggravated harassment" for verbally abusing a Muslim woman on the street.

Now, when the leader of the free world promotes the views of such a character, national security experts say that the potential consequences cannot be ignored.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: It has all kinds of ripple effects, both in terms of perhaps inciting or encouraging anti-Muslim violence, and as well causes I think our friends and allies around the world to wonder about the judgment of the president of the United States.


TAPPER: Well, that became clear when the spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May said -- quote -- "It is wrong to for the president to have done this," noting that the political party in -- quote -- "Britain First seeks to divide communities in their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions."

On the other hand, hateful bigot and former Klan leader David Duke tweeted: "Thank God for Trump. This is why we love him" in response to his retweets.

And this was only one of several ugly moments by the president this morning. In another one, responding to NBC News firing anchor Matt Lauer for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, President Trump lashed the out at an MSNBC anchor, Joe Scarborough, alluding to this deranged conspiracy theory about Scarborough, asking in a tweet about NBC -- quote -- "Will they terminate low-ratings Joe Scarborough based on the unsolved mystery that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!"

To be clear, this is the president of the United States attempting to exploit the tragic death of a young woman that occurred in 2001, one that had nothing to do with Joe Scarborough; 28-year-old intern Lori Klausutis was found dead in Scarborough's Florida office 16 years ago. She apparently suffered heart problems. That's what the medical examiner concluded. She fell and hit her head on the desk and died.

There were no findings of foul play, but today the president used the loss of this young woman to score this cheap and ugly political point, the pain that her friends and family might feel be damned.

That attack, demonizing Muslims, finding favor with notorious bigots on both sides of the Atlantic, all before 9:30 in the morning. It's apparent that the people around President Trump are unable to stop him from behaving this way, but that doesn't mean that you or I need to pretend it is happening, because this is fundamentally indecent behavior.

And we cannot excuse it and we cannot ignore it and we cannot become numb to it.

Now, when White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about those anti-Muslim videos the president pushed to his followers originally from an extremist group, it was pointed out to her that it wasn't even clear if the videos were real. Here was her response.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Whether it's a real video, the threat is real. And that is what the president is talking about.


TAPPER: "Whether or not it's a real video, the threat is real." That's an official statement from the White House suggesting that it doesn't matter if the content the president shares is real, because the point he was trying to make is real, in his view.

As an official White House statement, it's frankly an official untethering from reality.

My panel is here with me. And let's get right to it.

Mary Katharine Ham, your view. I mean, the president could have just stuck with his tax message and had a pretty good day, but he constantly does this on Twitter.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. The CFPB victory as well. He could have had two things in his corner, and he can deliver a message on tax reform that might actually convince some people.

And yet this is what we end up with. No one is going to stop him from doing it. I don't think he's going to stop. I think the ship has sailed on that. And I don't think you make a moral case to him about it, but perhaps the practical case would be more effective, because this is what happens.

We don't get to talk about tax reform. We talk about the gross things that he tweeted this morning.

TAPPER: And you're supportive, David, of the president. Supporters of the president inside the White House are frustrated by this, because he is hurting himself by engaging in these indecent retweets and tweets.


I agree with Mary Katharine that we're stepping on the message here. We had a great victory. The president had a great victory on CFPB. The district court sided with the administration. And on tax, we had a great vote in the Senate. We're about to have a vote again, Thursday, Friday on the tax bill to get it done, and probably get it passed before the holidays here. So the president will get to sign a big victory.

So, yes, he does step on his own message there. And it is -- it's not helping him and not helping the administration get what needs to, you know, be accomplished across the finish line.

TAPPER: Brian?

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know what to say anymore. I mean, I'm exhausted from being outraged.

Obviously, it's completely unacceptable. It's completely counterproductive from a homeland security perspective, for all the reasons you heard from Jim Clapper.

But, day to day, he picks these fights on purpose. Yesterday, we were reacting with horror to the fact that he was speaking in front of Navajo code talkers and called Elizabeth Warren by a slur right in front of them.

[16:15:08] So, I think that this is -- he's doing it on purpose. He likes to get a rise out of people. He likes to be provocative for its own sake. And then when people react with horror, he likes to consider them a coastal elite that doesn't care enough about protecting the country.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But, you know, just to counter Jim Clapper's point, right, folks blew up the embassies in Africa, folks that flew the planes into the World Trade Center, that happened long before Donald Trump ever tweeted. So, the notion that somehow we're radicalizing folks and the rest of the world, that ship has sailed, right? I don't believe --

TAPPER: This doesn't help.

URBAN: The notion that somehow that you're going to -- I mean, you gentlemen have traveled a lot to these parts of the world. The notion that somehow the president sending a warm, fuzzy tweet saying come over to our side is going to make things better I think is somewhat, you know, naive. I don't think -- I don't think this helps, but I don't think that Jim Clapper's point that somehow we're radicalizing thousands of young men and women across the world, I dismiss that.

HAM: Well, I think --

TAPPER: So, there's a -- the British member of parliament named Jo Cox, she was murdered last year by a man yelling "Britain first." Her widower tweeted this: Trump has legitimatized the far-right in his own country. Now he's trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences and the president should be ashamed of himself.

HAM: He gives oxygen to these groups, like people will say, you know, it's fake but accurate, which is a standard established I think by Dan Rather and now repeated by Sarah Huckabee Sanders today. And the facts matter, like if he wants to make an argument about security issues and migrants, feel free to do that with actual facts. He did not do that and there is a cost to raising the profile, both in America and Britain, of people who are extremists, whether they're Muslim extremists or nationalist extremists.

URBAN: Mary Katharine's initial point, right, we'd much rather be talking about CFPB victory, tax plan, increase in the economy, the stock market --

TAPPER: That's what we talked about yesterday.

URBAN: But all very positive messages that would really help drive the party to victory in the midterms, right? I mean, that's really important. FALLON: And progressives -- and Democrats would rather talk about those issues, too, because we feel like this vote is sneaking up on people, that the public is not properly attuned to what the Republicans in the Senate are going to be voting on on Friday, in terms of the impacts of this tax bill.

TAPPER: I want to talk about another issue dealing with President Trump. "The New York Times" reporting in private that the president is becoming even further un-moored from the facts in their judgment -- the reporters in question -- telling friends that that's not his voice on the infamous "Access Hollywood" video -- which is false -- continuing to question whether President Obama was born in the United States -- obviously, he was -- suggesting he own lost the popular vote because of more than 3 million illegal votes. A charge to which there is no evidence.

I want to bring in CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin, who's one of the co-authors with Maggie Haberman of this story.

Jonathan, what's going on? And do you think it's getting worse?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that what's happening here is he's never really dropped these issues. It's just that he I think is restrained on some things in public. As one person explained it to me, you know, he will litigate the purported mass voter fraud last year in public --

TAPPER: To which there is no evidence.

MARTIN: Correct. He'll tweet about it and he'll talk about it, but he's got an internal governor that stops him from kind of going there publicly on President Obama's birthplace, from going there on the validity of the "Access Hollywood" tape. So, he is kind of restrained on stuff that he knows if he talks about it in public or tweets about it that will sort of inflame things.

But that doesn't stop him in private talking to advisers, senators, about his views of these things. And I think it surprises them.

But here is what is so striking, I was in the capitol yesterday and today before I came here, you talk to members of Congress who are Republicans, they brush a lot of this off.

TAPPER: Really?

MARTIN: They just think it's bluster. They just think that he pops off, that it's not threatening necessarily. You now, It's concerning, but they put it aside. You know, let's be honest, a lot of ways they're driving the train right now politically.

TAPPER: In terms of the legislation on Capitol Hill.

MARTIN: Of course. Right.

TAPPER: Is there no one around him that hears him saying things that are clearly untrue -- MARTIN: Yes.

TAPPER: -- and responds the way you or I might if one of our bosses responded that way?

MARTIN: I don't think so.


MARTIN: I don't think so. In fact, I talked to a former Trump staffer today who was sort of relishing the fact that the so-called new regime has been unable to impose the kind of order that was promised. I mean, this is the whole thing is that, you know, we thought John Kelly, former four-star marine general was going to come in there and impose spit and polish discipline. You're not going to change someone unless you're willing to say stop tweeting and stick to the teleprompter. If you don't do that, that he's going to do what he does.

TAPPER: J-Mart, thank you so much.

David Urban, yes?

URBAN: Just to kind of build on that, right? So, our friend and colleague here, sometime colleague Salena Zito kind of wrapped this up and summarized this beautifully I think for the entire campaign and I think it holds true today, right?

President Trump's detractors take him literally but not seriously, and Trump supporters take him seriously but not literally.

[16:20:05] I think if you just keep that in mind and you view everything through that lens, as Jonathan said, you know, that's -- you know, people on the Hill shrug it off and say --

MARTIN: But that's an extraordinary thing, David, that members of Congress don't take the president of the United States seriously?

URBAN: I think you're correct in some of this. They understand what to take seriously and some they don't. They view it through a different prism. There are certain things behind closed doors negotiating --

MARTIN: Right.

URBAN: They see that as the serious guy, and when he's up on stage, he's the entertainer, he's the president.

MARTIN: That's amazing.


TAPPER: Mary Katharine, if your boss acted that way, right, if you had somebody you worked for or a relative of yours who acted that way, who said things that just were demonstrably false, that you knew were false, what would your reaction be and why should we treat this any differently?

HAM: Well, I'm famously mouthy, so I would say something probably.

TAPPER: Yes, I do gather.

HAM: Perhaps not at Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner just to keep the peace. But, no, I think in these cases, look, he does need somebody who will push back on him, but the problem is he doesn't love people who push back on him.

TAPPER: Right.

HAM: You can only get away with that a certain amount if you're not a family member. And I'm not even sure about family members. But he does need someone who can tell him this kind of thing, but I've seen no evidence that he listens to that kind of person. That is what would change the game.

TAPPER: Brian Fallon?

FALLON: So, you learn when you're little that if you tell enough lies, you might start to believe them. So, I actually wouldn't be surprised if in his own mind he's convinced himself it's not his voice on that tape. And if you look at how he's popped off about people like Al Franken and Matt Lauer today, clearly, that's not a sign of somebody that has any sense of shame or, you know, recognition of his own sense --

TAPPER: His self-awareness, given the own allegations against him.

FALLON: Yes. So I think that the reality is this is a hallmark sign of any authoritarian regime where they want to bend reality to their own purposes, and that's why CNN's slogan now is facts first. To oppose this president is not to take a stance on a particular political ideology. It's just to make a stand on the objective idea of truth.

TAPPER: All right. Jonathan and Mary Katharine, David, Brian, thanks one and all. Really appreciate it.

We have a lot of news in this hour. One of the most recognizable names in television news has been fired. NBC showing Matt Lauer the door after serious allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. New information about what he is accused of coming up next.

Plus, the woman some say started it all. Former news anchor Gretchen Carlson joins us to discuss this, coming up. Stay with us.


[16:26:30] TAPPER: We have breaking news in our pop culture lead today.

scandal surrounding Matt Lauer's firing at NBC News is even bigger. "Variety" just dropped an exclusive, detailing multiple accounts from multiple women accusing the popular morning show anchor of sexual misconduct at the workplace.

I want to bring in CNN's Brian Stelter.

And, Brian, "Variety" says these accounts come from a two-month investigation. This morning's developments obviously forcing NBC's hand.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. NBC knew this story was in the works. There's also a "New York Times" story about to land with more details against Lauer.

"Variety" cites three women who specifically accuse Lauer of various kinds of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. Some of it happening right there in the NBC Studios. That's a key part of this, Jake, the idea that Lauer had a lot of power and he was wielding that power over younger female staffers, in some cases having sexual relationships with them. In other cases, doing inappropriate things, saying inappropriate things and making people feel intimidated.

So far, for what it's worth, NBC's not commenting on the news story and CNN has not independently confirmed it.

TAPPER: And what about Lauer himself? We haven't heard from him today.

STELTER: That's right. And that's part of the mystery here. He was fired last night. He found out last night. The world found out this morning.

Lauer has outside PR firm he's hired. They're working on a possible statement. But so far, they haven't said a word. Lauer hasn't confirmed or denied anything.

TAPPER: Some of the details in that story are harrowing. We mentioned, of course, earlier in the show that Lauer isn't alone. Garrison Keillor told the "Associated Press" he was fired from Minnesota Public Radio. What do we know about the allegations against him?

STELTER: Yes, we've really seen this sexual harassment tipping point in America. And today, it's coming home in a big way because Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor, both of these are beloved figures on television, on radio. Keillor has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio in the midst of sexual harassment allegations. Again, the details are a bit murky. I think we're going to find out more in the coming days, both about Lauer and about Keillor.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

Would the women making allegations against Matt Lauer have even come forward if Gretchen Carlson hadn't spoken out and sued Roger Ailes at FOX News for sexual harassment? Gretchen will join me next. Stay with us.