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White House Briefing As Tax Bill Nears Final Vote; Rubio: Will Vote "No" Without Expanded Child Tax Credit. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired December 14, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- lowering the tax bills in Americans paychecks starting next year where Americans who face economic headwinds for eight years will have the wind at their backs as they seek the American dream.

[14:00:10] And with that, we'll get started because we are on a short time frame and I'll take your questions.

Jonathan?

REPORTER: Sarah, on the taxes, what is the president's messages to those Americans, including some of the middle class who will face tax increases under this tax bill?

SANDERS: Look, our focus since day one is aggressively push as many Americans as possible get a tax break, particularly those in the middle class. That's going to continue to be our focus as we continue in this process, as I've said time and time again.

REPORTER: But the message to those that face increase, every analysis show some people, including middle class Americans, are going to face an increase.

SANDERS: And overwhelmingly the middle class will get a huge tax break as most Americans will. That again is our goal, is to make sure that more Americans see more of their hard earned money, that's what we are going to push for, that's what's going to keep working with the House and Senate to make sure happens.

John?

REPORTER: You have Senator Corker who's been a no for a while, Senator Rubio told us a short time ago that he's a no unless he can get an expansion of the child tax credit. Is the president willing to be a little more generous in the child tax credit in order to get Senator Rubio's vote?

SANDERS: Look, we've been proud of the work we've done already up to this point with Senator Rubio already doubling the child tax credit, taking it to $2,000 per child. We're going to continue working with the senator. But we think we've made great strides and pretty historic movement in terms of the child tax credit. We're very proud of that work. We're going to keep working with him until we get the job done, which we still expect to happen before the end of the year.

REPORTER: Is there more room to move?

SANDERS: Right now, we are going to focus on letting some of the Senate move forward in the progression of their conversations. Again, we are extremely excited about the progress that we've already made to double the child tax credit. I think that's something important to note, and something that we worked very closely with Senator Rubio on. And we think he should be excited about the progress we've made on that front.

Connie?

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

SANDERS: Merry Christmas to you as well.

(INAUDIBLE)

SANDERS: What have I learned this past year? I would have to say that we would be here a really long time if I walked through everything I've learned this past year. But some of my favorite things would probably be to take time to appreciate some of the really incredible moments, and the special time and opportunity and honor that certainly that I have, but I think all of us have, that we get to come to the White House every day and serve our country and call it work. I think that's pretty impressive and amazing and something that I hope none of us never lose sight of. Thanks, Connie.

Mara?

REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah.

Does the president think that Roy Moore should concede? In other words, does he think he lost the election fair and square? Or does he think he was a victim of widespread illegitimate voting?

SANDERS: I think the president's position is pretty clear in his outreach to Doug Jones directly. He called and they spoke yesterday. They had a great conversation, a very positive conversation. He likes Doug Jones and looks forward to meeting him in person, and hopes that he will come and follow-through on his commitment to work with the president on some things that they agree on.

Jordan?

REPORTER: He lost fair and square, is that what you are saying?

SANDERS: I think the numbers reflect that and I think the president's outreach shows that.

Jordan?

REPORTER: Thanks.

There are some reports out this morning that Speaker Ryan is considering stepping down at the end of this Congress. Has the president spoken to Speaker Ryan about those reports? And does he want to see Speaker Ryan continue in that role?

SANDERS: The president did speak to the speaker not too long ago, and made sure that the speaker knew very clearly in no uncertain terms that if that news was true, he was very unhappy with it. The speaker assured the president that those were not accurate reports and they look forward to working together for a long time to come.

Blake?

REPORTER: Did this catch the president by surprise, the Ryan report that was out today?

SANDERS: It sounds like it might have caught Speaker Ryan by surprise because I don't think this it was accurate reporting. And so, it sounds like they are both committed to and looking forward to spending a lot more time together over the next, you know, hopefully seven, eight years.

REPORTER: Let me ask you about Marco Rubio as well. We have heard folks who might be no votes potentially, undecided votes. But Marco Rubio's potential no vote is one that we know it concerns, but him voting no seemingly here suddenly out of left field. Has that caught the White House by surprise at all? Or have you braced for the possibility that you might not have Marco Rubio in your corner?

SANDERS: I'm not sure if the president spoke with him specifically today. Again we are proud of the work we have done with Senator Rubio, and we look forward to making sure that the progress that we made to double the child care tax credits, that's kind of a mouthful, goes into full effect when this piece of legislation is signed.

[14:05:10] April?

REPORTER: Sarah, there are two things. Should Roy Moore just give his concession speech now versus future?

SANDERS: It sounds like it may have -- should have already taken place. Look, the president has called and congratulated Doug Jones and expressed his willingness to work with him and to meet with him when he arrives to Washington.

REPORTER: Second issue, did you watch "GMA" this morning? And what are your thoughts about this tell-all, and the incompatibility of Omarosa while she was here with some issues?

SANDERS: I did see some clips of that. In terms of a tell-all, that's a question I think you would have to ask her. She resigned from her position yesterday. She will be here later this afternoon. We put out a statement yesterday, I don't have any changes to add to that, and certainly as has been the practice in the past, and will continue to be in the future, we don't comment much further than that on personnel matters.

Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sarah, why is that if she's resigned and she's going to --

SANDERS: It's confusing because you are sitting next to each other.

ZELENY: You said she will stay on, Omarosa will stay on through January 20th. Why are the taxpayers continuing to pay her salary for another month if she's no longer here at the White House?

SANDERS: I thought I said I'm not going to weigh in any further as we often do and as the practice, we're not going to get deeper into personnel matters. We put out a statement. The president likes Omarosa and thanked her for her service. And again, she will be here later this afternoon. So, she's resigned from her position but really nothing else to add.

ZELENY: Why is she on the payroll for another month? Is that normal?

SANDERS: Look, there is a lot of different protocols that take place in the government. That's part of the process. If you want to reach out to HR, they might be able to walk you through that more detailed way. Certainly not that I'm privy to. Thankfully, I haven't been through the process myself, so I can't speak to it from firsthand knowledge.

REPORTER: On the tax plan, if I could just ask, would the president ask the House and Senate to stay here in Washington and finish this bill even if it means bleeding into the Christmas holiday?

SANDERS: We are pretty confident that we'll get there before then. But this is something that I think both the House, the Senate and president are all committed to seeing happen. And we are very hopeful it will take place the first of next week.

Jeff?

REPORTER: Sarah, does the president have any thoughts on the Disney deal to buy 21st Century Fox?

SANDERS: I know the president spoke with Rupert Murdoch earlier today, congratulated him on the deal, and thinks that -- to use one of the president's favorite words, that this could be a great thing for jobs, and certainly looks forward to and hoping to see a lot more of those created.

Matt?

REPORTER: What do you think about the FCC position on net neutrality? There are a lot of Americans, polls show, who are very opposed to that change?

SANDERS: Look, the Trump administration supports the FCC's effort to roll back burdensome regulations. But as we'll have always done, and will continue to do, we certainly support a free and fair Internet. Anything beyond that, I'd refer you to the FCC.

Matthew? REPORTER: Getting back to the Alabama results, what happened down there changed the president's relationship at all with Steve Bannon given his big support for Moore, and has it changed the president's thoughts on Mr. Bannon's opposition to other incumbent Republicans?

SANDERS: That's the question you'd have to ask Mr. Bannon. I'm certainly not going to speak for him.

REPORTER: I asked about the relationship.

SANDERS: I know, that was -- but the second part of the question you asked about whether or not he would support more candidates and I can't answer that. In terms of their relationship, I haven't spoken with the president directly about the nature of that relationship and whether that has altered it.

Francesca?

REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. I know you said you can't go much further on the personnel matter, but I do want to separate out some of the things that we're hearing, to speak so clear. So you are saying that Omarosa was not fired on Tuesday evening, that she didn't get in her conversation with General Kelly, she wasn't yelling at him, she wasn't cursing at him. And she wasn't escorted off the property, Secret Service said not by them, but she wasn't escorted off the property by someone or some entity other than Secret Service that evening?

SANDERS: Look, as I said Omarosa resigned from her position. I'm not going into a detailed process any further than that. We put out a statement as is standard practice. We are not going to get into the weeds of a personnel decision here at the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) have been urging Congress to appropriate additional funding for the opioid epidemic. The president declared a public emergency earlier this fall, but that fund only has $57,000 in it. Economists have predicted that it will cost upward to $190 billion over a decade to treat the crisis. Can you tell us how much money the White House will be urging Congress to appropriate? And what do you say to critics that they believe the president hasn't dedicated enough resources to combat it this year?

SANDERS: Look, one of the reasons the president has put one of his top people at the White House, Kellyanne Conway, on this is because he sees that as a priority, he sees it as a major concern, not just for the White House but certainly for America.

[14:10:14] There's a number of stories as you just said, the amount of money that it will take to combat this crisis is huge. We are going to continue looking at the best ways to do that. We are working in interagency process to see what that number looks like. That hasn't been finalized but we're going to continue looking at every way possible. I don't -- right now, that's still part --

REPORTER: -- part of the Republican health care plan?

SANDERS: Look, that's a start, but to fully address this we want to make sure that we get it right. And make sure that we really address this head on. And that's why the president has made it such a focus and put Kellyanne and others here at the White House to really make an emphasis and make that a priority.

REPORTER: Is that something that you guys will get done, that appropriation by the end of this year, can the president promise that?

SANDERS: I'm not aware we can promise full funding would take place by the end of the year. This wasn't a problem that happened overnight. We're not going to be able to fix it overnight. But what we want to do is make sure we address it and that we make it priority for the administration. And we're going to continue doing that until we -- the president has spoken about it several times, and making sure we address it from all fronts and all sides.

Kristen?

REPORTER: Sarah, thank you.

With Omarosa leaving, how many senior staffers here at the White House are African-American?

SANDERS: Look, we have a really diverse team at the White House. We want to continue to grow the diversity here. We're going to continue to do that and continue to work hard.

REPORTER: Do you have a number on how many African-Americans?

SANDERS: I don't have a number directly in front of me, specifically not African-American. But I can tell you, again, we have a very diverse team at the White House, certainly very diverse team in the press office. And something that we strive for every day is to add and grow to be more diverse and more representative of the country at large. And we are going to do that.

REPORTER: She was really tasked with reaching out to the African- American community. Who, you identified who is going to take that role and how critical is it to this president, to this administration to make sure that that role is in fact filled?

SANDERS: Yes, I think there are a number of people that will be part of that process and have been part of that process, that will continue to be. This wasn't something that was a singular effort by any one individual. Remember, on the cabinet, Ben Carson I know has been engaged and talked with the president on this issue. But it's not just within the White House.

The president met with Senator Tim Scott. I know he wants to continue those conversations as well to look at the best ways to do that and to do outreach to that community.

REPORTER: And just follow up on one of her questions. What Omarosa said today was I've seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally that have affected my community and people. Were her concerns ever addressed or dealt with?

SANDERS: The comments she made that was the first time I heard those. Whether she raised them with other individuals, I'm not aware. I know she regularly brought up specific issues where they were talked about in meetings. And we addressed them at the time.

REPORTER: Were any of her concerns were?

SANDERS: I don't. That's a question that would you have to ask her. I'm not going to speak on her behalf in that regard. But I do know that it's something that we take seriously and something that we want to see improve I think across all fronts.

Margaret?

REPORTER: Sarah, today is the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre in which some children were killed. That, of course, was tragedy was eclipsed by what happened in Las Vegas which is the most tragic mass shooting on U.S. soil. Since then time, what has President Trump done to try to protect the American people against similar type of massacre? Does he think anything has been done? What is the administration trying to do? Is there anything at the executive level that he thinks needs to be undertaken?

SANDERS: Look, I think there are a number of different ways that we look to protect our citizens every single day. One of the areas that the president has been outspoken about, not necessarily to those two instances but just more broadly speaking in terms of national security and protecting individuals certainly through border security, stronger vetting processes, and looking at whether or not there are other regulations that we can put in place that would offer protection.

REPORTER: These weren't people that entered the United States --

SANDERS: Right. And I said I'm speaking more broadly in terms of national security as a whole. And, look, this is a president who knows that his number one responsibility is to look for ways to protect American citizens. And we try to do that every single day. And whether or not there is it a regulation that could be put in place or not that could have prevented those things, frankly, I'm not aware of what that would be.

[14:15:02] But we want to look for every opportunity, every way possible, that we can to protect American lives. And we are going to continue doing that.

REPORTER: Is it correct to say that the administration is it looking at how to prevent these kinds of mass shootings by domestic shooters on U.S. soil?

SANDERS: I know that's something -- absolutely. I know that's something that the Department of Homeland Security looks at and talks about and works on every single day. I don't think there is a person in this country that wouldn't like us to find ways to protect people. And we are certainly very supportive of that. And that's something that would be --

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: -- the president has highlighted since he won?

SANDERS: I don't think there is any one thing you could do that could have prevented those instances, those horrible, horrible tragedies.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) very quickly, just the other day for the failed terrorist attack, which is why in these cases, this is the worst shooting on U.S. soil under President Trump's watch?

SANDERS: I understand that. And that's why I think you have to take these matters obviously very seriously. But if you could name a single thing that would have prevented both of these, I would love to hear it because I don't know what that would look like. But we are looking every day how you can protect American lives, how we can best protect American citizens.

In terms of New York, we know for a fact this individual came through chain migration system, this is something the president has been outspoken against and something that he wants to stop. And that individual wouldn't have been here in order to commit that crime if that wasn't in place. So, that's a fact that we do know.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: -- weapons ban, any kind of regulation or mental health concerns that the president has specifically mentioned that as a possibility?

SANDERS: I know that they are looking at some of the mental health issues, it's something the president has raised before. But in terms of a specific policy that we are moving forward with that would have prevented that, I'm not aware what that would be.

Trey (ph)?

REPORTER: Thanks, Sarah.

Has the president expressed any concerns regarding the FCC's decision today to roll back these Obama era regulations on net neutrality? And then moving forward, are there any assurances that the White House can offer to the American people who are concerned that the decision and votes today will lead to a less free Internet?

SANDERS: As I said a few minutes ago, the administration supports the FCC's efforts. And at the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair Internet. We'll take one last question for the day.

Frank?

REPORTER: I'm going to ask a question about the taxes. The Federal Reserve yesterday said that tax bill would provide a modest lift to the economy. That's in stark contrast to words that the president has used like rocket fuel to the economy.

What is the data the president is basing his rosier picture of the economy on the tax bill versus the experts at the Federal Reserve?

SANDERS: Look, there are certain individuals, Kevin Hassett, who has spoken at this room and networks that he presented that repeatedly stated a lot of the statistics, a lot of the data shows this will be a huge boost to the economy, it will bring companies back, it will grow our jobs, push the stock market higher. I think that those are all places I would point back to. And certainly, I think there is great support that we have seen just based on the idea that this passes, that you are seeing the stock market increase, and they think a lot of that is tied to that.

REPORTER: Was the president upset the word modest was used?

SANDERS: I haven't asked him about that. I think upsets is maybe not the right word. He might think the other opinions that have been offered are a little more accurate.

REPORTER: The treasury analysis used two things on it.

SANDERS: Hold on a second because I know the call time is here momentarily and the president will be speaking here in a few moments. I just want to say thanks. Have a good week. And, April, I'm looking forward to having some time with you here momentarily. Thanks, guys.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: OK. So we are about to see the president in a bit that's why Sarah Sanders had to bail.

But a couple of bits of news made there. I want to begin on taxes.

Dana Bash, let's begin with you, our CNN chief political correspondent, because as she was talking, we also learned thanks to our Manu Raju up on the Hill, you know, listen, they already have, let me state the obvious. They need this tax plan to pass. Sarah Sanders was incredibly confident. We're committed. We're going to hang around. This thing needs to get through.

But we have two noes now. We know we had a no from Corker. And now, according to Manu Raju, Senator Marco Rubio telling him he will against the current version of the tax plan if the refundable portion of the child tax credit is not increased.

We Sarah Sanders saying they've already doubled it. I'm not entirely sure if she said there was wiggle room on this.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she probably doesn't have the power to sort of offer that negotiation from the podium, which is understandable.

[14:20:00] BALDWIN: Yes.

BASH: The fact there is no question, Brooke, the fact that Marco Rubio has decided that he wants to get out there and say no, this particular portion of the tax bill needs to be changed. He's got leverage because he understands the basic math of the Republicans in the Senate. And if they lose his vote, it's very likely this could go down.

So, it seems to me going out there at this point, saying no unless you change the child care tax credit, and he also indicated to Manu that he sees there are ways to do that, means that he's very likely going to be sitting in a room with White House officials, with Senate and Republican negotiators, for them to try to figure out a way to get him to yes. No but is not no. No but is no because I need you to give me what I want.

BALDWIN: OK. I've got you.

So quickly following up on that, David Catanese, to you, if we have a no from Rubio, we have a no from Corker, we know that the vice president has put off his trip to the Middle East, I know Mahmoud Abbas is not meeting with him, but, you know, they may very well need his vote here in this whole thing.

We don't know about the health status of McCain. And so, what do you make of it? This isn't necessarily a done deal, is it?

DAVID CATANESE, SENIOR POLITICS WRITER, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: It's not a done deal, but sounds to me like Senator Rubio is gambling a little bit. It's hard to me -- it's hard for me to imagine he ends up no on tax cut that will be a signature legislative accomplishment of this Congress. I think he sees this is heading towards the exits and he's going to try to get what he wants out of it.

BASH: Exactly.

CATANESE: You know, remember Senator Ron Johnson was a no a couple of weeks ago. And, you know, I've heard him public comments say, you know, I didn't love this tax bill but it's better than what we have. And I think that's where Senator Rubio will be in the end.

I really doubt that he's going to it be a hold out. This is all bargaining and I think it's smart for these senators because they all have such, you know, they have a huge hand over this, because every vote matters. But I'll bet you Rubio is not a no at the end.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's talk about Omarosa. Many questions on her.

Abby, I'm going to come on you a second. Guys, so we have Jeff Zeleny. Does he have his ear in?

Here we go.

Jeff Zeleny, on Omarosa, so you asked a great question on why the heck should the American taxpayer be paying her salary for the next month, you know, if she's still on the payroll, but she's -- you know, so what? Still on the payroll until January 20th. What was the response from Sarah Sanders?

ZELENY: Well, Brooke, you heard the question. The answer was pretty much we are not going to talk about HR-related issues. Never mind the fact this is taxpayer dollars we are talking about, of course. Omarosa like every other employee here, and this government is, of course, paid by you and I and every taxpayer in the America.

But Sarah Sanders would not say why she remains on the payroll. It could be a variety of things. It could be the fact she has vacation coming. It could be the fact that she has time due coming for some other reason, part of her severance package or her departure I should say.

But there are so many questions, Brooke, still surrounding this pretty abrupt departure earlier this week. You know, never mind the drama, reports you've seen about that. But specifically though who is now in charge, if any one, of African-American outreach at this White House?

The president brought Omarosa in for a reason at the beginning of his term almost a year ago. So as she leaves now, still more questions than answers about exactly why she's leaving and why her salary continues, although she is no longer here at work. But Sarah Sanders did say she will be back here on the White House grounds this afternoon for some reason, but again so many issues today, the tax reform plan and other things. But this is one there are still questions hanging here in the briefing room and elsewhere, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me come back to you, Abby, you are here at the White House as well. When I jotted down the notes, Sarah Sanders said, you know, go talk to the HR department. Is there is an HR department at the White House?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear to me this is something that an HR department at the White House would even deal with. I mean, Brooke, when people leave the White House, they are political appointees, serve at the pleasure of the president. So if she were asked to resign, or if she were asked to leave, the conditions of her departure are determined by people who work in this building, by folks who work in this building, by folks like John Kelly and by the president of the United States.

So, it's pretty clear that these were questions that Sarah Sanders did not want to answer for whatever reason, but to Jeff's point, if Omarosa doesn't work here anymore, her badge has been deactivated, she doesn't have a position, it's a legitimate question why she's being paid for additional month and some change, when there are no responsibilities.

And following up on one other thing that Jeff mentioned, Sarah Sanders could not answer the question of how many African Americans are in senior positions in this White House now that she's gone. There was not a single name put forward.

[14:25:02] So a lot of this puts the White House under some pressure, in addition to the fact that Omarosa has made it clear she may be writing a tell-all book or something to that effect.

BALDWIN: Yes, crickets. Crickets on that question.

Speaker Ryan, Dana Bash, the top line on this before the briefing was there were reports he might step down from speakership after the 2018 midterms, the question was posed to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has the president spoken to the speaker? The answer was yes. And she said, the president made him -- let him know very clearly if the reports were true, that Trump would be very unhappy. And that the Speaker Ryan assured the president that the reports weren't true.

So what is true? What are you hearing?

BASH: Well, first of all, let's just start with the fact that if it is true that the president told Paul Ryan he would be unhappy if he left, that's a headline, which is crazy that a Republican president telling a Republican speaker not to go would be a headline. But you know what? Given the world we are in, given the fact that Trump and Ryan never campaigned with Donald Trump, he never stood side by side with him until Trump was already elected. And you've got Steve Bannon, who is complete and totally mission in life is to topple Paul Ryan in the House as Republican leader, speaker, and Mitch McConnell in the Senate. So that in and of itself is interesting.

But on the whole question of whether Paul Ryan is preparing to go or not, I can tell you that our colleagues Deidra Walsh, John King and Phil Mattingly has a story out Ryan has discussed the fact that he is exhausted by the Trump era. And if he gets this tax bill done, which is a huge, huge thing for him, he has been trying to do since before he was speaker, when he was Ways and Means chair, which is tax writing committee, that maybe he would consider going.

So even though we should also say that his office has flatly, it's ridiculous, he's not going anywhere and Ryan himself told Deidra Walsh he's not going anywhere.

So, look, also, the other x- factor is what happens to the House. If the Democrats do end up taking control of the House, even more likely Paul Ryan would say, see you.

BALDWIN: OK. Lastly, David Catanese, I don't want to miss out on Alabama because it sounds like the questions coming in to Sarah Sanders, because we got, you know, the world saw the four minute video from the loser there, Roy Moore. And I think it sounds like what she wasn't saying, but what I'm going to say is, na, na, na, na, I mean, right? Like the fact that the president called the winner, fill in the gap.

CATANESE: I mean, Roy Moore is on an island by himself now. He's all alone. Even, you know, President Trump has abandoned him. He has called Doug Jones and congratulated him. And at Doug Jones press conference yesterday, he said it was a very gracious call and he wanted to work with him.

BALDWIN: With him.

CATANESE: Remember the first tweet, we think it was President Trump sent out, it was actually pretty gracious --

BALDWIN: When he was saying I was right? CATANESE: -- and we were surprised, like, wait, is that him tweeting or is it Kellyanne Conway, is it someone else? Because he was pretty gracious about it.

So, I think, yes, you know, Roy Moore is going to be swept into the dustbins of history I think in a few weeks now. It doesn't look like a recount is going to happen. Doug Jones is going to be the senator from Alabama.

BALDWIN: OK. And then, there was one other question and we got Brian Stelter, he's just been seated here. There was one other question on this big news today, Disney to buy 21st Century Fox. It's this $52 billion deal.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BALDWIN: You know, Sarah Sanders was saying essentially hey, this is great for jobs. But explain why that merger is different from AT&T, Time Warner, and call them out?

STELTER: There's actually a lot of reasons why Disney and Fox employees are a little nervous about their jobs today, Brooke, because Disney and Fox say $2 billion in synergies as a report of this deal. Synergies usually code for cutbacks, for reductions, for layoffs. So, we're actually going to see the opposite from this mega media merger. We're probably going to see jobs go away in the short term.

It's strange to hear the White House saying they expect it's going to be a boon for the entertainment industry, that jobs are going to be created as a result.

And I was also struck by the other detail Sanders shared, that President Trump called Rupert Murdoch to congratulate him on this deal. We know they've been friends for a long time, we know they speak frequently. But it's notable that the president would reach out in the middle of this transaction and congratulate him.

I think it's downright bogus though to say it's going to create jobs. And I think the comments today from Sanders are going to do it, going to raise the questions even more about the pending AT&T and Time Warner deal. That, of course, involves our parent company here at CNN, Time Warner. So, AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner. The government has blocked the deal. The government is in the middle of suing AT&T to try to stop it from happening.

That raises this question of whether there has been interference from Trump or from his White House against CNN, against Time Warner. That is something the government has denied.