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Trump To Sign Tax Bill, Leaves White House Soon For Mar-A-Lago. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 22, 2017 - 11:00   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Erica Hill in for Kate Bolduan. All eyes right now on the White House. At any moment, we should see President Trump sign that tax reform bill into law. Remember this is not only a major legislative win for his presidency, it is also a campaign promise kept.

He will be signing the resolution as well to keep the government funded through January 19th. Those are the two things left on the president's to-do list before he heads to his resort at Mar-a-Lago in Florida for Christmas vacation.

The big question, will the president have any parting words from Washington, just days after the Republican Congress gave him that major win. He could take questions from reporters before he leaves, or he might not. We'll have it for you in just a moment.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins me now from the White House. This is a major victory for the president, and yet, not a huge ceremony for the signing of the bill, certainly not like what we saw after it was passed earlier this week.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Erica. If it sounds a little loud behind me here at the White House that's because Marine One just landed on the south lawn. The president is going to be boarding it any minute now before he departs for his holiday vacation in West Palm Beach.

But first, the tax bill, the president just tweeted a short while ago that he's going to be signing it in the oval office. We've been told by several White House officials it was likely he would sign that $1.5 trillion tax bill that Republicans passed this week into law.

But it was unclear through most of the morning whether the ceremony would be in public or private because there was nothing listed on the president's schedule. But just a few minutes ago they did call the press pool, a select group of reporters into the oval office to cover that.

And you can understand why the White House would want cameras and reporters in there because, Erica, this is arguably the biggest legislative accomplishment of the president's first year in office. So, he is certainly leaving Washington on a high note now that Republicans got this passed this week, but on another note, something else is also not on the president's schedule is a year-end press conference.

Now presidents typically hold these before they leave Washington for that holiday vacation, but the president is not scheduled to hold one at this point. It's unclear if he will take questions from reporters as he's exiting the south lawn to get on Marine One.

But he hasn't held a solo full-ranging press conference by himself since back in February and a lot of reporters were wondering if he would hold one this week before he leaves for Mar-a-Lago.

But right now, we're waiting to hear from him in the oval office during the signing ceremony and we will keep you updated on what he says as he signs the big tax bill -- Erica.

HILL: We will be looking for that. Kaitlan, thank you.

Also with us CNN political director, David Chalian, CNN political reporter, Rebecca Berg, CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for "The Hill," Amie Parnes, who is also the co-author of the book, "Shattered Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign," and political reporter, Alex Isenstadt, who wrote an article titled, "Republicans warned Trump of 2018 blood bath."

Good to have all of you with us. David, I just want to start real quickly on what we are not seeing today and to Kaitlan's point the question, at one point, as to whether or not we would even see the president sign this tax reform bill. Does that strike you as odd at all?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, considering if you look at the track record for this president signing bills or executive actions or proclamations, he calls the press in all the time for this. He likes to do those signings before cameras.

The first thought that that may not happen that certainly seemed odd, but, obviously, the press pool has been in there and we'll see if the president had any comments to make when, indeed, he was signing this tax bill.

But it seems pretty clear with no formal end of the year news conference on the schedule, that the president wanted to leave the image of all the Republicans on the south lawn touting their big legislative victory at the end of the year as the lasting image as people go into their holiday season and take a break from work, that they remember the big victory the president has. I don't think he's looking to distract from that.

HILL: I also want to get your take on this, the president tweeting not just about the signing but also tweeting "with all my administration has done on legislative approvals, broke Harry Truman's record, regulation cutting, judicial appointments, building military, VA, tax cuts and reform, record economy, stock market and so much more I am sure great credit will be given by mainstream news? Question mark."

I don't think, David, that the president is fishing for a compliment there. Let's take a look at this. Does he deserve, quote, "great credit?"

[11:05:02] CHALIAN: Well, he certainly deserves credit for some of the accomplishments that he listed there, credits certainly for passing the tax cut. Every president benefits or hurts from the stock market or the impressions of the economy among the American people, so when that's going well, the president sort of -- that usually works to his credit in this case we're not seeing it impact his approval rating all that much.

But, I think the sarcasm in the tweet you're sensing there gets to exactly why I think he was reluctant to hold a formal, customary, end- of-the-year news conference because he knew that on his wish list of all those things he would love to talk about, questions on those topics would probably be few.

HILL: When we take a look at this, Rebecca, the tax bill is almost signed and delivered, both parties, though, are looking at this as a way to campaign to a win in 2018. What are you hearing?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Democrats believe, Erica, that this is going to be a really positive issue for them because look at the public polling on tax reform right now. Only about a third of Americans support it.

Even Republicans are divided on whether they support the tax reform plan that the president is going to be signing into law, so Democrats see this as potentially a political liability for Republicans and just look at how the vote turned out.

Not a single Democrat, even the ones in some of these red states who are going to be running for re-election and needing Trump voters to come over to their side, even those Democrats decided that they didn't need to support the tax reform bill, their messaging was strong enough.

Republicans feel once this starts to take effect, once people start to see the impact of this bill in their everyday lives, that public opinion is going to change. Mitch McConnell in an interview today with the "Washington Examiner" that published today said he was excited to take that fight to Democrats to fight them on tax reform.

But interestingly, Erica, both parties don't believe that this is going to be the main issue. The main issue is usually how is the economy going overall, what is the president's approval rating in a midterm election like this and also Democrats believe health care will still be one of the bigger issues policy wise.

HILL: And we'll see what plays out with that. Of course, hearing conflicting reports just from Republicans as to whether or not it's worth to continue the follow on that. You have fascinating reporting about Republican concerns moving into 2018, including some specifically about Roy Moore, which were brought to the White House by RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and they were ignored by the president. Tell us more about that?

ALEX ISENSTADT, REPORTER, POLITICO.COM: Yes, absolutely. During the final days of the Alabama Senate race, this is back when Donald Trump was still considering whether to go all-in on Roy Moore, he was sort of going back and forth on it.

And you had the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel basically go to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and produce for him a two-page memo, which showed under Trump the GOP support among women voters was plummeting.

They are basically showing how fast the Republican Party was falling and essentially warning him that a full-fledged Trump endorsement of Roy Moore would further damage the party's standing with women.

It was a warning that, as you said, went unheeded. Trump went all-in for Roy Moore and we all know what happened next, Moore lost, and there's a lot of concern right now heading into 2018 that Republicans are really struggling with women voters and that could turn against them next year at the ballot box.

HILL: As everybody is trying to figure out what that strategy is for 2018, you also have reporting on Hillary Clinton and how she may or may not be used, the cost benefit analysis being done. Is there also a conversation that needs to be had with Hillary Clinton? Are there people perhaps among establishment Democrats who are not getting the message in the same way, maybe it is time for Hillary Clinton to step aside?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. So, there's kind of this push/pull happening. A lot of people want her in. They think that she could be beneficial and helpful in their districts, particularly if she won those in '16. So, they're kind of encouraging her to come in and help out.

But there are a lot of people that I talk to, a lot of Democrats, even Democrats that supported her, that are saying, please don't. This is a time to kind of clear the deck, bring in new, fresh blood. This what is we need as a party. We don't need Barack Obama and we don't need Hillary Clinton.

And I think you're hearing a lot of that coming from both sides. There's, you know -- there's no leader of the Democratic Party right now so it's -- they're looking for someone to kind of fill that void and that's really hard for them.

HILL: That's what we've been talking about for some time in terms of filling that void. Also, in terms of whether or not the people at the top of the party, if there is one, in this case it's the president, are helpful, David, also in Alex's piece, Charlie Dent noting that the president should be in his words very discreet and selective about where he campaigns. Is that message, David, getting through at the White House?

CHALIAN: Well, we'll see when we see the president's travel schedule next year. What's going to be really interesting, and this is obviously not the first time, we saw Barack Obama deal with this in 2010, his numbers weren't great and how Democrats navigated using him or not in advance of the sort of blood bath they had there.

[11:10:09] The same thing with George W. Bush in 2006, but Donald Trump is even lower right now, so how Donald Trump reacts to Republicans who say, thanks, but no thanks, Mr. President, is going to be a fascinating story line to watch in 2018.

This is not a president who likes to be rebuffed. He has a pretty sensitive ego about these things. So how -- watching him deal with how his party navigates his low numbers if they don't improve will be critical to how the Trump political operation deals with 2018.

HILL: It will be fascinating to see how much of that is actually made public and how much we learn about that. Rebecca, the president tweeting this morning about that he envisioned some bipartisan work ahead in 2018 and it could begin with infrastructure. Are you hearing about an appetite for that?

BERG: Well, that's a rosy view of things I would say, Erica. There might be an appetite on behalf of the president. Mitch McConnell, has also said he wants to see things get done on a bipartisan basis in 2018 if they're going to get anything done at all, but there are few things working against the president in this respect.

First of all, it's an election year and lawmakers don't tend to like to do tough things in an election year. And so even in something like infrastructure you're talking about government spending that might be running up the deficit potentially and so that could be a tough sell for many Republicans in a tough election year for them.

But also, I think what we saw with tax reform, for example, is even some of the vulnerable Democrats in red states running in states where Trump won in 2016, they didn't have an appetite to work with Republicans.

They feel like they are in a very strong position politically, the president is unpopular, Republicans are unpopular, their policies are unpopular, so politically there isn't a great incentive for Democrats to work with Republicans. In fact, the incentive might be for them to work against Republicans next year.

HILL: Which will be fascinating to see. We are still waiting -- we should be hearing from the president shortly but quickly, Alex, back to your piece, one of the other things you touched on is the concern not just about women, but also the concern about the suburbs. That's a major concern for both parties at this point, but to hear Republicans talk about it after 2016 there's a light bulb there.

ISENSTADT: Absolutely. This is a major reason why Democrats won in Alabama and a really big reason why Democrats won in Virginia last month and it became such a big point of concern for the White House after the Virginia gubernatorial election that basically the White House put together an after-action report looking at --

HILL: Alex, I have to stop you there for a second. Let's listen in. Here's the president from the oval office.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning, good morning. Good morning, everybody. Thank you very much for being here. And Merry Christmas, happy new year. Have great holidays.

We are going to sign some very important things today. One is a continuing resolution that, very importantly, gives us the right -- and we are ordering $4 billion worth of missile defense equipment and missiles themselves. Very important, top-of-the-line, best in the world. We make the best military product in the world. Nobody is even close.

So we're ordering $4 billion worth of missile defense, and that will be done by signing right here, and also by notifying the speaker of the House and president of the Senate, designating the missile defense as emergency defense funds. So it's $4 billion for that and $700 million for various other military forms of equipment.

And I'm very honored to be doing that. Our military's been doing a fantastic job in so many ways, with ISIS -- and everything they're touching lately has been working out. So we're signing that.

TRUMP: This is the letter to Mitch McConnell and separately to Paul Ryan, authorizing that having to do with missile defense, OK? Very important. So that's being done today. And that's going to be sent out.

And then when I watched the news, as you know, we had the largest tax cuts in our history just approved. And I was going to wait for a formal signing sometime in early January, but then I watched the news this morning and they were all saying, "Will he keep his promise? Will he sign it by Christmas? (inaudible), but will he sign it by Christmas?" And I called downstairs, I said, "Get it ready, we have to sign it now."

We were going to wait until January 7th or 8th and do a big formal ceremony, but every one of the networks was saying, "Will he keep his promise? Will he sign it for Christmas -- before Christmas?" And so I immediately called, I said, "Let's get it ready."

As you know, $3.2 trillion in tax cuts for American families, including the doubling of the standard deduction and the doubling of the child tax credit. The typical family of four earning $75,000, will receive an income tax cut of more than $2,000 -- many much higher than that -- slashing their tax bill in half.

And they're going to start to see that -- because we're signing today, they're going to start to see that in February.

The numbers will speak. One of the big things that happened, you have some great companies -- I want to thank AT&T, who actually was the first out of the box, and Boeing and Sinclair and Wells Fargo and Comcast, even though they own NBC, which is not so nice to the presidency or the president. But Comcast also -- they all have made tremendous contributions to their employees, and tremendous contributions to spending money in this country because of the tax bill. And they all said that it's because of the tax bill.

So, they're making tremendous investments, that means jobs, it means a lot of things. And we're very happy.

So, that's AT&T, Boeing, Sinclair, Wells Fargo, Comcast, and now many other countries are -- in fact, just this morning, I see three more companies came on.

A friend of mine, Bob Kraft, called me last night. He said, "This tax bill is incredible." He owns the New England Patriots, but he's in the paper business too. And he said, based on this tax bill -- he just wanted to let me know that he's going to buy a big plant in the great state of North Carolina, and he's going to build a tremendous paper mill there, or paper products plant.

And I've had many calls such as that, where people that are entrepreneurs, people in business, they're going out and they're going to buy, frankly, factories that are closed, abandoned, and now they're not going to be abandoned any longer.

This is having an even bigger impact faster than I thought.

The corporate tax rate, as you know, will be lowered from 35 to 21 percent. That means that more products will be made in the USA. A lot of things are going to be happening in the USA. We're going to bring back our companies, and they've already started coming back. I think they had certain confidence in me; they figured we were going to get this done. But they have already started.

Something very important to me: The family farmers and small business owners who lost their business because of the estate tax, most of them won't have any estate tax to pay. It will be a great thing for their families. You can leave your farm to your family. You can leave your business -- your small business, to your family -- not even so small, because the numbers are pretty big here. So they'll be exempt from having to pay estate tax, which will be tremendous. They'll keep their farms and their businesses in the family.

Businesses will be able to deduct 100 percent of the cost of their capital investments in the year the investment is made. That's called expensing. And to do one-year expensing, I think, is going to be one of the biggest things in the bill, frankly. I think people are going to go out and absolutely go wild over expensing. Bob Kraft mentioned that last night in his telephone call. The fact that they can expense to one-year expensing is a fantastic asset.

Historic small-business tax cuts and pass-throughs now are made really, really good for the business owner. They're hiring people. I see it on television, I'm reading about it all over, where people are hiring a lot of people right now to go to work. The small-business tax cut and the pass-throughs are now really incentivizing people.

TRUMP: We're going to bring back probably $4 trillion from overseas. Nobody knows the exact number, but it's massive. It'll be over $3 trillion, it could be $5 trillion. But it's a tremendous amount of money that was caught overseas, that the bureaucracy plus the tax laws didn't allow it to reasonably be brought back into our country. So we think at least $4 trillion is going to be brought back. And if you look at that, it's going to be brought back right under the code (ph).

This is something that Republicans wanted for years and Democrats wanted for years and yet it never got done. Who would object to trillions of dollars being brought back into our country? Nobody. But it never got done -- now it's being done.

And the bottom line is, this is the biggest tax cuts and reform in the history of our country. This is bigger than, actually, President Reagan's many years ago. I've very honored by it.

In addition we have ANWR -- we're opening up ANWR for drilling. They've tried to get that for 40 years. They tried to get that even during the Reagan administration; they could never get it. That alone would be a big bill, if that ever happened, but that's even part of this.

And we have, of course, the individual mandate, which is a very unfair and very unpopular provision, as you know, in Obamacare. Essentially, I think it ultimately leads to the end of Obamacare. It's essentially -- I think Obamacare is -- is over because of that. And we're going to come up with something that's really going to be very good.

But the individual mandate was very unfair because you're basically saying, pay for something in order not to have to get health care. So you're paying -- you're paying not to have to have health care. It was very unfair. Many people thought it should have been overturned in the Supreme Court. Didn't quite make it -- almost -- but didn't quite make it. But now we're overturning the individual mandate. Most unpopular thing in Obamacare. Very, very unfair.

So this is the bill, right here, and we're very proud of it. It's a -- it's going to be a tremendous thing for the American people. It's going to be fantastic for the economy. It's going to keep companies from leaving our shores and opening up in other countries. They are very disincentivized to do that. They are -- there's not a lot of -- lot of not -- a lot of not (sic) of sense to do that. You do that and I don't think you're going to be running your company very well.

So what's happening is we're going to sign this. This is a little picture of it. It fits nicely in the box. I said, "Take it out of the box, because people have to see."

And all of this, everything in here, is really tremendous things for businesses, for people, for the middle class, for workers.

And I consider this very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs. And jobs are produced through companies and corporations. And you see that happening. Corporations are literally going wild over this. I think even beyond my expectations -- so far beyond my expectations.

So I'll sign this today rather than having a very big formal ceremony in two weeks, when we were going to do it, because I didn't want you folks to say that I wasn't keeping my promise. I am keeping my promise. I am signing it before Christmas. I said that the bill would be on my desk before Christmas and you are holding me literally to that.

So we did a rush job today, it's not fancy but it's the Oval Office -- it's the great Oval Office.

And just to conclude, our country's doing very well. We've tremendously cut regulations.

Legislative approvals, for which I'm given no credit in the mainstream media, we have -- I believe it's 88. Which is number one in the history of our country. Second now is Harry Truman. Harry Truman had more legislative approvals than any other president. And a record long held. And we beat him on legislative approvals, for which I get not credit.

A lot of people say, "He needed this because he has had no legislative approvals." Well, if you look at V.A. Accountability Act and so many other bills having to do with the V.A., having to do with the military, having to do with many things, we have more legislative victories than any other president, not including this. But this is the capper, because this is, again, the biggest tax cut -- biggest reform of all time.

So it's an honor to have you with us and we will sign this right now.

This is something I'm very proud of. Great for our country, great for the American people. Thank you all.

TRUMP: We won't do the whole thing, but this is basically what it is. (inaudible)

And I want to thank some people in particular that aren't here because, again, we expected a formal ceremony in two weeks.

But Mitch McConnell has been fantastic. Worked so hard. We would speak at 3 in the morning and 2 in the morning, and we would speak whenever we had to speak. But he worked so hard.

And the exact same thing can be said for Paul Ryan.

They are very proud of this and we're already seeing the results.

And I -- as I said, long before -- long ahead of schedule, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, thank you very much.

Orrin Hatch, the chairman, made a beautiful speech the other day in front of the White House -- an absolutely brilliant, beautiful speech, and we appreciated it. And I appreciated it. Hardworking.

Kevin Brady. He -- I don't think he slept for months. It's almost like that's all he did was this.

Mike Enzi -- Senator Enzi. Diane Black, Rob Portman -- the group of Rod -- Rob Portman -- Rob worked so hard. So knowledgeable on the subject, Pat Toomey likewise. Tim Scott likewise. John Thune likewise. These people worked so hard and I don't know if they're given the proper credit.

And the whole Senate -- and when I say the Senate, unfortunately, the Republicans in the Senate. Democrats don't like tax cuts. They want to raise your taxes. They don't want to lower your taxes. They want to raise your taxes and they want to spend money foolishly on things that we -- we don't need, in many cases.

So we're cutting taxes, we're taking care of our military, and we're taking care of people. And we're really doing a job on jobs.

So these folks have been so fantastic that I had to call them out -- and plenty of others, believe me. Republicans in the House and Republicans in the Senate have been incredible.

So this is what we -- we got. We had it. It was all set to go. As soon as I get back from Christmas, where we'll be working in Florida -- I'll be working very hard during that Christmas, because we have many things we're talking about, including North Korea, including a lot of things happening in the Middle East, as you know.

We've made tremendous strides, obviously, in Syria with ISIS. We're taking back virtually all of the caliphate, all of the land. Same thing in Iraq. And we're making tremendous strides. It's sort of the unwritten story right now. But since my speech on Afghanistan, we're making tremendous progress, tremendous strides. We've opened it up and it's a whole different world in Afghanistan, I can tell you that.

So I'll be working very hard over the holidays.

Again, I want to wish you a very merry Christmas.

I have some beautiful pens over here. And because all of these folks are either continuing to work down the road or getting ready to leave -- and I'm sure they'll be working very hard also -- I think I'm probably going to hand some of them to the press.

Does the media -- would any of the media like any of the -- oh look at these Calvary (ph) guys. But I think we'll do that. So we have them. Many of you have worked very hard. Many of you have worked very, very fairly, and we really appreciate that. So here you go folks. You want the box with it or not, huh (ph)?

QUESTION: Mr. President, can you talk a little bit about how much you'll travel to sell this tax -- this tax --

TRUMP: I don't think I'm going to have to travel too much to sell it. I think it's selling itself. It's becoming very popular.

But I think, it'll really -- you'll see something on February 1st, when they open up the paycheck. That's when you're going to start to see it. Because by signing it now, it kicks in for this year.

Remember, if we didn't make a certain date, it wouldn't kick in until next year -- meaning the following year, '19. And I wasn't happy with that. So we worked very, very hard to make sure it was this year. Even language originally said the corporate would kick in in '19, but we didn't do that. We -- we have it kicking in now. But we had to sign.

So I don't think we're going to have do much selling. I think the corporations that are giving billions and billions of dollars away to their workers -- and many more are coming -- I think that's really what's selling this, maybe better than anybody could, including myself.

But I think come February, when they open their checks and they see, "Wow. What happened? I have a lot more money in here," I think that's really going to be something very special.

So have a great holiday, folks. Some of you folks take -- I -- I -- in particular like the boom holders. They were so nice to me the other day, right?


And the cameramen --

QUESTION: Mr. President, could I ask you something?

TRUMP: And the cameramen.

STAFF: Thanks, everyone.

STAFF: Thank you.

STAFF: Thank you, everyone.


TRUMP: I think the Democrats will really regret -- the Democrats already regret it. You know, they have their typical thing, "It's for the rich." They know that's not true and they've been called out on it by the media, actually. But the Democrats very much regret it. They wanted to be a part of it; it just doesn't work out.

But I really do believe -- and I said on social media today, I -- I really do believe we're going to have a lot of bipartisan work done. And maybe we start with infrastructure, because I really believe infrastructure can be bipartisan. We've spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, not to mention all of the lives and all of the heartache, and it's so sad. $7 trillion. It's time for us to rebuild our country. Thank you very much, everybody.