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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Sexual abuse victims confront former team doctor in court; White House press briefing. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired January 16, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We're coming to you live from CNN's World Headquarters in Atlanta.
As we take the pulse of America one year into the Trump presidency, tonight a lot to cover. Steve Bannon is subpoenaed. The "New York Times" is
reporting Donald Trump's former chief strategist will face questioning as part of the Mueller investigation. We'll have the very latest.
Also, a trading day for the record books, another one. Earlier the Dow briefly hit 26,000. Can President Trump really take credit? I'll ask my
colleague, Richard Quest.
And a real-life horror story, new details emerging after 13 children are found captive in terrible conditions in their own home with their own
So, as I mentioned, a very busy hour, and there is a looming deadline that could shut down the U.S. government. It's a fight over the fate of more
than 700,000 DREAMers. There's also the Dow smashing records in super quick time.
All big issues today in America, obviously, and like so many times in this past extraordinary year, the specter of the Russia investigation is still
looming large over President Trump and the White House.
Steve Bannon, President Trump's former chief strategist and a man the president has disparaged of late has been subpoenaed by Robert Mueller's
investigation according to the "New York Times."
It's almost assured to be among the questions when the White House holds its press briefing and we are expecting that in the next 30 minutes, as
well as an update on the president's health by the physician who conducted a checkup a few days ago, Dr. Ronnie Jackson.
Let's get straight to Washington. CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us. First of all, let's talk about Steve Bannon. What is the significance here of a
subpoena requesting him to testify in this investigation?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the first time that we know of, Hala, that Robert Mueller has taken this dramatic of a step, especially
with someone who was as close to President Trump as Steve Bannon.
Now as the "New York Times" reports, this could be a tactic or technique by Robert Mueller to convince Steve Bannon to come into a less formal
interview setting in the Special Counsel's Office as opposed to in front of a grand jury.
But we don't know exactly what his tactic here is in this respect. The question, though, Hala, is what exactly is Robert Mueller attempting to
glean from Steve Bannon, because even though he is someone that is very close to Donald Trump, he wasn't really a part of the two key moments that
Robert Mueller is investigating.
The first being the decision to fire James Comey, the FBI director, and then the second being the crafting of that statement by Donald Trump's son
about that meeting in Trump Tower during the campaign with Russian officials.
We don't know exactly what Steve Bannon knows about that. He's obviously given some thoughts on in Michael Wolff's book "Fire & Fury." But it is
significant that the special counsel is taking this step to bring Bannon before them.
GORANI: OK. And do we -- I mean, just explain to our viewers -- we won't know what was said or what the testimony consisted of, right, this is
NOBLES: That's right. We won't even know when it takes place, Hala. This is all done behind closed doors. The grand jury is a private setting as
they continue this investigation. So, we won't know unless it's leaked out exactly what was said by Bannon and his legal team.
GORANI: I don't have to remind our viewers of the s-hole controversy surrounding the president, who reportedly in an oval office meeting with
elected officials called the entire continent of Africa and several other countries, described them in very vulgar terms.
Today, our own Jim Acosta asked in the oval office when the president was hosting the president of Kazakhstan whether he only wanted immigrants from
Norway. This is what he said, Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you say that you want more people to come in from Norway? Did you say that you wanted more people to come in
from Norway? Is that true, Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want them to come in from everywhere, everywhere. Thank you very much, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just Caucasian or white countries, sir, or do you want people to come in from other parts of the world where there are people of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: OK, he didn't answer that second question. I mean, this controversy has legs, Ryan. It's been days and days. We are still talking
NOBLES: That's right, Hala. It's not just about the kind of drama and back and forth between the president and his detractors as it relates to
this. This has substantive policy implications.
[15:05:05] Because now Democrats are far less inclined to negotiate with the president when it comes to DACA and the status of these 700,000
DREAMers remains in limbo for a deadline that is fast approaching this spring.
In addition to that, it could bleed into the negotiations over a spending bill because Democrats may use this as leverage to keep the government open
by that deadline on Friday. They say we are not going to support a spending plan unless you can come up with a solution for the DREAMers.
That's a distinct possibility.
And right now, Hala, it doesn't look like there's any progress being made on either front when it comes to those negotiations.
GORANI: Ryan Nobles in Washington, thanks very much. We mentioned at the top of the hour, Wall Street once again moving furiously to new heights.
Just hours ago, the Dow for the first time ever moved above 26,000. It's retreated since.
Investors may be reacting to the promise of lower corporate tax rates and a strong start to the earning season. But since that milestone, as I
mentioned, the Dow has retreated.
But overall that it's fair to say, stocks and the president has been repeating it over and over again as proof that his management of the
economy has been paying dividends that the Dow Jones and the stock market has reached record levels.
Richard Quest joins me now live from New York with more on what's going on. So, what the president says and those who are proponents of this tax cut
bill say is, if you cut taxes for corporations, it's not just good for the corporations, it's good for ordinary people. It will all eventually
trickle down to you.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Yes. And I think there's a certain validity to the argument. It just doesn't trickle down
as far or as fast as most people would like. Look, if a company like -- whether it be an IBM, Home Depot, whatever company, Walmart, if it makes
more money, it can pay more wages, dividends and pension funds and so on. Where I think the argument sort of falls apart is when they don't
necessarily provide as much money further down the chain.
GORANI: Right. But historically, the notion of trickle down, when corporations make more money, they buy back their own shares, they hoard
the money. They don't necessarily pass on any of this extra cash to their employees if they're not forced to. Historically, that's always been the
case. So, this notion of trickle down doesn't really hold up.
QUEST: Well, I think there's a certain truth in that. You see it with Walmart, for example, which is paying more of its staff a higher minimum
wage and that will cost maybe $750 million a year for what they're agreeing to do. But their return on tax from the tax cuts is in the several billion
dollars a year.
So, yes, there is a discrepancy. Look, the market is being buoyed not just by tax cuts, Hala. Earnings are good, if not brilliant in some cases.
Secondly, you've got low unemployment, low inflation. You have as near as you are going to get the perfect scenario for continued sustainable
economic growth. That is what is pushing this market high.
GORANI: But you still have major wage disparity and other issues and also earnings growth in terms of, you know, individual earnings growth is not
going as far as it could be. But the president, as we mentioned, has taken credit for all of this, saying it's his leadership of the country that's
producing such a wonderful scenario. Let's listen to what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, you pick up that extra $200 or $300 all of a sudden on a monthly basis and
sometimes on a weekly basis, that has a big impact. We thought it would be February. Little did we know when the companies started -- AT&T started
But these companies started giving out a thousand dollars to everybody, all of a sudden it was one after the other. Now the few that haven't, they are
all saying, the employees are saying what about us. You know that's going to happen. So, it kicked in a lot faster than we thought.
But the stock market is way up again today and we're setting a record literally all the time, and I'm telling you we have a long way to go. And
had the other side gotten in, the market would have gone down 50 percent from where it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: You know, you can't -- I mean, with great respect to the president, that is a statement that is simply unsustainable. Yes, the market has put
on 40 percent since he was elected, but to suggest that it would have dropped 50 percent if Hillary Clinton were to have won is simply -- you
know, from what he's just said, you go back to January 16th. You go back to November where it was at 19,000.
[15:10:04] But to suggest that the market would have suddenly fallen to 8,500. I mean, it only fell 50 percent in the great recession of 2008-2009
when a financial Armageddon was on our doorstep. So, I think that's hyperbole with respect to the president.
GORANI: All right. Look forward to more spirited discussions with you, Richard, about the benefits of corporate tax cuts and other economic
topics, and we'll be following you at the top of the next hour on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."
QUEST: Thank you.
GORANI: Now let's turn to this horrifying discovery in California. Police are holding a couple on suspicion of torture and child endangerment. Over
the weekend authorities found 13 kids held in captivity, some of them chained to beds severely malnourished. Scott McLean has more on the
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By many accounts, the big family was a loving one. Pictures show kids wearing matching outfits,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not see any unusual activities between the two of them. They seemed to care. They are quiet kids, but yet they seemed to
enjoy the family as a unit.
MCLEAN: Police say the children were tortured by their parents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so sad, so horrible. I can't believe it. I can't believe this.
MCLEAN: Police say David and Louise Turpin held their 13 children captive restraining some to beds with chains and padlocks, forcing them to live in
filthy conditions. Investigators say a 17-year-old managed to escape and called police.
ANDRIA VALEZ, NEIGHBOR: It's heartbreaking and now to know there were that much kids in there and not even know about it then, it's like I wish there
was something this community could have done.
MCLEAN: According to court records, David Turpin worked as an engineer and operated a private school out of his house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The older kids, I thought they were like 12 because they looked so malnourished, so pale. So, because of that I thought that
they were much younger than what they were.
MCLEAN: Now the children are recovering in the hospital as their parents wait to face a judge.
GORANI: Stephanie Elam joins me now live from outside the local police station. And did -- I mean, the neighbors said they seemed like a close
family. But some of the kids were so malnourished that reportedly they looked like they were years younger than their actual age. So, how did no
one notice anything before?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what we understand, Hala, when you talk to some of the neighbors there, they said they didn't see the
kids out very often at all. The family moved in about 2014 and was not out, seen around the house. It was too quiet for a house that had that
One neighbor saying that they wouldn't recognize the kids if they were in a line-up, not seeing them often enough and also not knowing that the kids
were as old as some of them are. The fact that you have seven adults living in the house is also shocking because many of them thought that they
were teenagers because they look so young.
That 17-year-old, officials say they thought she was about 10 when they encountered her. What we are also learning here that 17-year-old managed
to escape through a window and she took a cell phone that was deactivated from inside the home and called 911.
When authorities responded to that call, she was able to show them pictures as proof that there was something wrong in the house she lived in. They
went in and found her 12 siblings. There were three of them chained to furniture inside of the home -- Hala.
GORANI: These are all the natural children of this couple?
ELAM: That was another question that many people wanted to know. The parents are 57 and 49 years old. The husband is 57 and the wife is 49.
They said they have no reason to believe that these are not their biological children, that all 12 of these children are from David and
GORANI: Unbelievable. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much. Absolutely shocking story that has so many people talking.
Still to come this evening, after one year of President Trump, where does the Democratic Party stand? I'll ask one of their congressmen.
Also, we're expecting a White House briefing to begin just minutes from now. We'll take you live to Washington when it gets underway. We're
expecting an update from the president's physician, who administered a checkup on him a few days ago. We'll be right back.
GORANI: They are just three days left for lawmakers in the United States to avert a shutdown of the government. It's the latest issue vexing
politicians in what has been a turbulent year in Washington.
We've heard a lot about Trump's Republican Party, but one year on and it's the beginning of a crucial midterm year, this year 2018, what do the
Democrats have in mind to try to challenge the Republican control of both the House and the Senate, and of course, also the White House.
I'm joined from Washington by Marc Veasey, a Democratic congressman from Texas. You heard our Jim Acosta asked the president in the oval office as
he was hosting the Kazakh president, do you only want -- or do you want only immigrants from Norway, Caucasian immigrants? He said, I want
everyone to come in, everyone is welcome. Do you believe him?
REPRESENTATIVE MARC VEASEY (D), TEXAS: No. I don't believe him. I think his initial sentiments of what he said is probably how he really feels
about the situation. I think that when you have someone like Stephen Miller advising you on immigration, it should be no surprise that he said
the things that he did. And favoring people that are from the, quote/unquote, "Nordic races" over others is someone that's long steep in
racism and prejudice in the United States --
GORANI: So you think he's a racist?
VEASEY: Yes, absolutely. I don't think there's any question about that and all you have to do is go back and look at the things that he said,
whether it's Obama not being born here, Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers, the current comments that he said about the African and Haitian
And not only that, I mean, no one is going to call themselves a racist, right? I mean, even a lot of these white nationalist like Richard Spencer,
they never come out and say that they are racist.
But if you look at what he says and the way that he feeds red meat to people at these rallies, to me he almost likes in this (inaudible) bunker
type person in the White House --
GORANI: But the president routinely tells interviewers he's the least racist person they've ever met or spoken to.
VEASEY: Richard Spencer says that and what does that mean?
GORANI: But you equate both men? Richard Spencer is a white supremacist?
VEASEY: I think that the things that Donald Trump has said over and over again at rallies and interviews where he tries to stir people up and feed
them red meat to make them upset and really make them not like minorities. I think that is the title of someone that exhibits racism and that is him.
Now, of course, like some of his predecessors that had issues with race, he can work to try to bring the country together to try to overcome that. I
think that would be the best that he can do at this point. But I think that he really needs to get rid of people like Stephen Miller around him
that gives him bad advice.
GORANI: But if you believe this, then your party and you as well and those around you should be at this point coming up with an ironclad strategy for
the midterms to try to claw back some control in Washington which you've lost.
The Democrats don't control the House. They don't control the Senate. Obviously, the president is also a Republican. What is your strategy?
Because the economy is booming. Usually when the economy is booming, voters don't necessarily -- you know, there is not necessarily a backlash
against the president.
VEASEY: Yes. But look at the polls right now, all of the generic polling shows that Democrats are more trusted right now to lead the Congress, both
in the House and the Senate.
[15:20:10] You look at President Trump's own approval ratings. They are absolutely in the gutter, outside of his 36 percent or so core. He's
really not doing that well. You look at the fact that we picked up a Senate in Alabama. I think they are going to do great.
GORANI: Yes, but in Alabama, you had a particularly flawed candidate in Roy Moore that was atypical. And also, I don't have to tell you that we
were looking at the polls before the presidential election in 2016. They all got it wrong.
VEASEY: Well, they did get it wrong in a few key states. Other polling was right. I think that we're going to be poised to make historic gains
and that we're going to do very well in the upcoming election.
I think the people are upset about the comments that Trump continues to make. I think the people think this tax plan that the Republicans passed
stinks. I also think that the fact that they undermined the Affordable Care Act and people see that their rates are not going to go down --
GORANI: But what is the strategy beyond criticizing Donald Trump because that didn't necessarily work in other races. I mean, the strategy beyond
criticizing the other side, what are you offering to the voters that they might want -- that might get them energized to the polls to vote for a
Democratic candidate this time around?
VEASEY: Democrats, we have great bills that we filed on immigration, taxes, health care. I mean, we have a variety of different bills and
budgets that we passed that we think will help the American public.
We think that it's a better deal for the American public and I think that as the midterms continue to move on here and we go through the primaries
and get to the general election, I think that there are going to be a lot of voters that didn't give us a chance before that are going to give us a
chance in this upcoming election cycle and that Republicans are going to be embarrassed and shocked.
GORANI: I want to get your reaction to a tweet from the president today. He wrote, "Unemployment for black Americans is the lowest ever recorded.
Trump approval rates with black Americans has doubled. Thank you and it will get even much better at Fox News."
I just want to just fact check this for our viewers before I get your reaction. That is just flat out factually incorrect. According to the
latest CNN poll in December, there's been no change in black support since the 2016 elections. It stands at 3 percent of black Americans approve of
Donald Trump and 91 percent disapprove. How do you think a tweet like that will play with African-American voters?
VEASEY: Well, I think that African-American voters right now, even Republicans, I know African-Americans in Dallas, Fort Worth that were big
supporters of George H.W. Bush and even they don't like Trump, and so --
GORANI: You mean African-American supporters of George Bush?
VEASEY: I know African-American supporters of both Bushes that absolutely despise Trump. He's actually lost ground with African-Americans, including
African-American Republicans. As long as he continues to say the things that he says about President Obama, about Africa, it's not going to get any
Of course, those job numbers that you talked about, a lot of that started under President Obama before he left office and we were already starting to
see gains. So, ado any job gains that are reported favorably, I give all that credit to Barack Obama and the things that he did to give Trump a good
Of course, Obama came in with a terrible economy and he really turned things around and left Trump in a great, great situation.
GORANI: All right. Marc Veasey, thanks so much for joining us, House Democrat, a representative from Texas, thanks for being with us.
VEASEY: Thank you.
GORANI: And some news just into CNN, Washington will withhold more than half the money it gives the U.N.'s relief agency for Palestinian refugees,
according to reports, $60 million in aid will reportedly be provided as usual, but a further $65 million will be held back. One anonymous U.S.
official told Reuters that the U.N. agency needs to be fundamentally reevaluated. We'll have more on that as we get it.
Another big issue on Donald Trump's radar, that word feels pretty appropriate since we're talking about the threat of North Korean missiles,
or at least we would be in this case if they had actually existed.
Instead, Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, has had to apologize after sending out a false missile alert. You could only imagine the sense of
panic people seeing that message must have felt.
Luckily, the correction came quicker than the one in Hawaii. It came within a couple of minutes, but this came as I mentioned just days after a
similar false alarm in Hawaii. People have been demanding answers.
North Korea is the focus of a major summit on the other side of the Pacific. It is in Vancouver, Canada.
[15:25:03] Senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski is there and joins us with the details. So, Michelle, what are we hearing from the
participants about how to deal with this North Korea crisis and the threat coming from Pyongyang?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, a few things, I mean, they've made it clear that this is to send a unified
message that none of these countries involved, including Russia and China, who are not part of this specific group and not represented today, will
accept a nuclearized North Korea.
They wanted to state that right off the bat, make that very but they also want this to be a moving forward, first to assess how the pressure campaign
on North Korea has been going, how effective it is and to talk about what more can be done if North Korea's provocations continue.
I mean, Secretary of State Tillerson said, you need to have new penalties and consequences if there are going to be new aggressive actions. They got
into some specifics here. I mean, those could include a better enforcement of the sanctions that exist, possibly new sanctions, but also interdiction
of smuggled goods at sea.
We know some of that has been going on. I think some of the standout statements here today and you know, this hasn't been going on for very
long. We will hear a press conference later from Secretary Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart.
Some of these things included, for example, Tillerson using this visual aid that I think was unexpected. It was a map showing all the air traffic over
the Korean Peninsula in a given day, a chart that represented more than 150,000 passengers.
So, he wanted to get that frightening image across. These are all the planes and all the people who are at risk every time North Korea launches a
missile. Some of the toughest talk, though, came from the Japanese foreign minister, who said, look, he believes that North Korea by having these
talks with South Korea, is North Korea simply buying time to continue its nuclear program.
The Japanese foreign minister said we shouldn't be naive and we shouldn't be blinded by North Korea's charm offensive, if you can call it a charm
offensive. I think another thing that really stood out was when the British foreign secretary was asked about all the tweets and back and forth
insults that have been thrown between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un.
And he deflected saying that he thinks Secretary Tillerson gets it, that he's handling it in a diplomatic way and that's what he's focusing on here
GORANI: All right. Michelle Kosinski in Vancouver, thanks very much for the update.
Still to come, we are expecting that White House briefing to begin any moment now. We'll take you live to Washington when it gets underway.
Also, the sexual abuse victims of the American gymnastics doctor, Larry Nasser, face him in court, their defiant words at his sentencing hearing.
We'll be right back.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: He treated - I should say, before we get to that story on women's gymnastics, the White House press
corps is assembled this hour in Washington. These are live images coming to us from the briefing room in DC and you see some of the reporters there
preparing their live reports and taking notes and getting ready.
We also expect to hear from the doctor who carried out President Trump's physical exam late last week. We'll go live to that event when it gets
So, I was discussing women's gymnastics and I'm talking about a man who abused some of the biggest names in that sport.
There are nearly 100 victims and they're getting their chance to confront the USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar at his sentencing hearing.
Four-time US gold medalist Simone Biles added her voice to a chorus of sexual abuse survivors and an emotional tweet, writing that "She now knows
the abuse wasn't her fault and she is no longer afraid to tell her story."
She joins a growing list of women, more than 140 so far, in addition to fellow Olympians Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney, who
previously said they were abused by the same man, Nassar.
The women who testified today were defiant and angry, speaking directly to Nassar about his abuse. Here is just some of the testimony today.
KYLE STEPHENS, ASSAULTED BY LARRY NASSAR: I estimate I was approximately 6-years-old that Larry Nassar began to sexually abuse me. I spent the
years between 12 and 18 avoiding and detaching from my family.
Larry Nassar wedged himself between myself and my family. And used his leverage as my parent's trusted friend to pry us apart.
CHELSEA MARKHAM, MOTHER OF DAUGHTER ASSAULTED BY LARRY NASSAR: He sexually abused her and he had the audacity to do that while I was sitting right
there in the room.
Her path of destruction was bad. She was doing horrible in school. And 2009, she took her own life because she couldn't deal with the pain
anymore. It will be ten years in March that I lost my baby. She was 23 years old. She would have been 33 now. And every day, I miss her. Every
day. And it all started with him.
JADE CAPUA, ASSAULTED BY LARRY NASSAR: You broke and shattered a lot of girls. You manipulated us to trust you because you're a doctor. And
doctors do no wrong, only heal.
You are not a healer. You performed acts of depravity just as my English teacher described. You were also the one that must face what you have done
for the rest of your life.
I'm no longer broken by you.
ALEXIS MOORE, ASSAULTED BY LARRY NASSAR: He betrayed my trust, took advantage of my youth and sexually abused me hundreds of times. Today, I'm
more guarded than I was a year ago. But I am also wiser and more aware.
OLIVIA COWAN, ASSAULTED BY LARRY NASSAR: Today, I'm a mother, a wife, a daughter and friend that is struggling each day to find peace and joy in
all of those things that once made me happy.
Camera stations are overtaken by Larry Nassar and the obvious pain in my voice is hard to avoid. Those that truly know me know I will never be the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) had brought back all the pains and suffering that he did to me. And (INAUDIBLE) had to be strong for my
children. I can't be the strong person anymore. I often think about suicide, so that I could turn off the thoughts of you, get rid of the
nightmares, but I know that nothing -
GORANI: Just heartbreaking to hear some of these women talk about the abuse they suffered.
I was mentioning at the beginning of the hour and throughout that we were expecting a news briefing from the White House. Let's go to that live now.
SANDERS: Good afternoon. We'll let John Roberts (ph) wrap up.
John, can we go ahead? Hallie? We good, guys?
QUESTION: You're reasonably on-time for a change.
SANDERS: Trying new things. Trying new things. The good doctor has got me on-time today.
I'm going to open with a statement from Brigadier General Dr. Richard Tubb, he is a White House physician emeritus, a retired military officer, and one
of the longest-serving White House physicians in history, serving from 1995 to 2009. As a physician to the president, he earned the trust and
confidence of presidents from differing parties. He trained under a physician who did the same and then trained Dr. Ronny Jackson, the current
physician to the president, who has also earned the trust and confidence of presidents from both parties.
Dr. Tubb wrote: "I hired and trained Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson. My patients, President and Mrs. Bush, knew and trusted him. I think it's safe
to assume that President and Mrs. Obama trusted him as well, after all, they personally selected him to be their physician."
Today, Dr. Jackson will offer his professional assessment of the president's medical fitness for duty. Friday. Dr. Jackson conducted and
supervised Donald Trump's first periodic physical exam as president of the United States. Having had the opportunity to review the tests, consult
specialists, thoughtfully analyze the results, and discuss them with his patient, he will provide us with his considered assessment of the
president's medical fitness for duty now and for the remainder of his term of office.
With regard to Friday's examination, knowing Dr. Jackson, I am confident that he practiced good medicine. However, it would be an error to view that
exam and Dr. Jackson's assessment as an isolated event when in practice it is an ongoing process. Far more important to a meaningful assessment of the
president's fitness for duty is a doctors evaluation, observations, interaction, conversations, examination during the remaining 364 days of
SANDERS: Dr. Jackson and his team have been doing precisely that from the moment Donald J. Trump was elected. Beginning on November 9th, 2016, the
members of the White House medical unit began shadowing the new president- elect, figuratively Velcro'd to his side 24-seven.
On January 20th, 2017, Dr. Jackson became that Velcro. "Dr. Jackson's office is one of only a very few in the White House residence proper, and
is located directly across the hall from the president's private elevator. On any given day, the physician's office, as it is known, is generally the
first and last to see the president. Dr. Jackson has built and leads an organization that is better than any other in history. I know that. I, as
physician to the president, was well-served by this president's doctor.
"More importantly, President and Mrs. Bush were well-served by Dr. Jackson, as were President and Mrs. Obama. In keeping with his oath, I have every
reason to believe that Dr. Jackson will well and faithfully discharge the duties of his office, and that President and Mrs. Trump, the office of the
presidency, and the country will be well-served because of it."
Thank you, Brigadier General Dr. Richard Tubb, for that background and that information. And with that, I will turn it over to Dr. Jackson. And as
always, if you could please keep your questions on-topic. And after Dr. Jackson finishes, I'll come back up to address any questions of the day.
JACKSON: Good afternoon, everyone. All right. So to start with, what I'm going to do is I am going to read to you the summary of the president's
physical. And so I'll just read through this. And then after I'm done reading this, immediately after the brief we'll make this available to
everyone exactly as I've read it here. And then I'll take a few questions.
So start with: "President Donald J. Trump has completed his first periodic physical examination as president of the United States. I performed and
supervised the examination with appropriate specialty consultations and diagnostic testing. The exam was conducted January 12th, 2018, at the
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"The purpose of the exam was to provide the public with an update of the president's current health status and to ensure the president continues to
enjoy all the benefits of good health. This examination focused on evidence-based health screening and disease prevention. With President
Trump's consent, I release the following health information.
"Vitals as follows. Age 71 years and seven months at time of the exam. Height 75 inches. Weight 239 pounds. Resting heart rate 68. Blood pressure
122/74. Pulse oximetry 99 percent on room air. Temperature was 98.4. Physical examination by system to include any studies that were done by
system. Eyes, the president's uncorrected visual acuity is 20/30 bilaterally, with corrected visual acuity of 20/20 bilaterally. His visual
fields were normal. Fundoscopic exam was normal bilaterally. His intraocular pressures were normal. And no ocular pathology was discovered.
"Head, ears, nose, and throat normal. Exam of the head, ears, nose, mouth, and throat. Dental exam, he has healthy teeth and gums. There are no other
dental findings. Neck, normal thyroid exam, no noted lymphadenopathy. Auscultation of his carotid arteries were normal. Pulmonary exam, his lungs
were clear to auscultation. A screening low-dose CT of the chest demonstrated no pulmonary pathology.
"Cardiac exam, heart exam was normal, regular rhythm, no murmurs or other abnormal heart sounds were noted. His ECG, or, commonly, EKG, was normal
sinus rhythm with a rate of 71, had a normal axis, and no other significant findings. He had a transthoracic echocardiogram done, which demonstrated
normal left ventricular systolic function and ejection fraction of 60 to 65 percent. Normal left ventricular chamber size and wall thickness. No wall
motion abnormalities. His right ventricle was normal. His atria were grossly normal. And all valves were normal.
JACKSON: "He had an exercise stress echocardiogram done which demonstrated above-average exercise capacity based on age and sex, and a normal heart
rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output response to exercise. He had no evidence of ischemia, and his wall of motion (ph) was normal in all
Gastrointestinal exam: He had a normal exam, no masses, no hepatomegaly or splenomegaly. He had a normal optical colonoscopy done in 2013, June of
2013, that demonstrated no polyps or abnormal findings, and because of that, a repeat colonoscopy was not indicated at this time, and will be
deferred until his next periodic physical exam.
Genitourinary exam was normal. Extremities and musculoskeletal normal throughout. Full range of motion in all joints. He had strong distal pulses
and good capillary refill in all extremities. He had no swelling or edema.
Neurological exam: Examination of the cranial nerves, cerebellar function, deep tendon reflexes, motor function and sensory system were all normal. A
cognitive screening exam using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment was normal, with a score of 30 over 30.
Dermatologic exam normal. No evidence of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or any other significant dermatologic diseases.
I'm going to very briefly go over some of the labs here that I feel are most important, and that most providers would be interested in, and then
you can look at the details when I put out the written.
But laboratory results summarized: the lipid panel -- he had a total cholesterol of 223; triglycerides are 129; HDL is 67; and LDL cholesterol
of 143, and his -- his total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio is 3.3. His complete blood count, to include his white blood cell count, his hemoglobin,
hematocrit, and platelet count were all normal, and the values are on the written copy you'll get.
His extended metabolic panel as follows: His fasting blood glucose was 89. His BUN was 19. His creatinine was 0.98, indicators of his renal function.
His liver enzymes, his ALT, was 27. His AST was 19, normal. His hemoglobin A-1 C was five percent. His Vitamin D was 20. His PSA was 0.12, and his
thyroid screen with a TSH was 1.76. He had a urinalysis done that was clear, and had no evidence of protein, ketones, glucose or blood.
His past medical history includes hypercholesterolemia and rosacea. His past surgical history -- he had an appendectomy at age 11. His social
history: He has no past or present use of alcohol; no past or present use of tobacco.
His medications as follows: He takes Crestor, 10 mg daily to lower his cholesterol. He takes aspirin, 81 mg daily for cardiac health. He takes
Propecia, one mg daily, for prevention of male pattern hair loss. He takes Soolantra Cream as needed for rosacea, and he takes a multivitamin each day
for health maintenance.
Immunizations: The president during his physical exam had a Prevnar 13 immunization to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, and he had number two dose
of his Twinrix to prevent hepatitis A and B. His routine vaccinations, to include his seasonal influenza, are all up-to-date, and all indicated
travel vaccinations are up to date.
In summary, the president's overall health is excellent. His cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good. He continues to enjoy
the significant long-term cardiac and overall health benefits that come from a lifetime of abstinence from tobacco and alcohol. We discussed diet,
exercise and weight loss. He would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates, and from a routine exercise regimen. He has a history of
elevated cholesterol, and is currently on a low dose of Crestor. In order to further reduce his cholesterol level and further decreases his cardiac
risk, we will increase the dose of this particular medication.
JACKSON: The president is currently up to date on all recommended preventive medicine, and screening tests and exams. All clinical data
indicates that the president is currently up to date on all recommended preventive medicine and screening tests and exams.
All clinical data indicates that the president is currently very healthy, and that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.
OK. With that, I'll take some questions.
Before we get started, let me just make one comment, I'd just like to point out for all of you here in this room, many of you which know me, just if
something should happen to you over the next few months and you should fall ill at some point, that most likely I will be the one called to come take
care of you.
JACKSON: So when you ask your questions, please keep that in mind.
(LAUGHTER): JACKSON: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, how much weight have you suggested the president lose, and he -- he has not exactly been enthusiastic about exercising. The
president kind of believes that we all have the finite batteries, why waste it on exercise when we can put it toward other pursuits. What did you
counsel him about that?
JACKSON: Right. That's right. So you know, I think the president, you know, he and I talked and he would -- he would like to lose over the next -- I
think a reasonable goal over the next year or so is to lose 10 to 15 pounds. We talked about diet and exercise a lot.
He's more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part, but we're going to do both. He -- he and I will work together over the next
year to incorporate a -- a good plan so that we can -- we can meet those goals.
QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions for you. Number one, there've been some questions as part of your exam. I'm wondering if you talked to the
president about this, about the president's mental fitness. He has pushed back on that calling (inaudible) a stable genius. Can you assess the
president's mental fitness for office?
JACKSON: Absolutely. So you -- many of you may have picked up on the fact that we did do a cognitive assessment as part of the exam. And initially,
you know, I had no intention of including a cognitive assessment in this exam, because to be honest with you, per all the guidelines that are out
there, it just -- it's not indicated at this time.
A lot of the guidelines would suggest that you do -- that you do cognitive screening questions, and that if you have a positive or concerning answer
in the screening questions that then you engage with a cognitive-screening tool. So I had no intentions what so ever of doing that, like I said,
because I didn't feel it was clinically indicated.
And part of the reason I didn't think it was clinically indicated is because I've spent almost every day in the -- in the president's presence
since January 20 2000 -- or you know, last year when he -- when he got into office. And I've seen him every day, I see him one, two, sometimes three
times a day, because of the location of my office.
We have conversations about many things, most if not -- most don't revolve around medical issues at all. But I've got to know him pretty well. And I
had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or his -- you know, his neurological function.
So I was not going to do a cognitive exam. I had no intention of doing one. The -- the -- the reason that we did the cognitive assessment is, plain and
simple, because the president asked me to do it. He came to me and he said, is there something we can do, a test or some type of screen that we can do
to assess my -- you know, my cognitive ability.
And so I looked into it, and once again, my initial question was that I didn't think it was indicated, and I didn't think we should do it. After
looking at some of the guidelines, there are a few guidelines out there that lean in the direction of potentially doing it. You know, the Medicare
guidelines and some of the NIA, National Institute of Aging, they've indicated that it might be a good thing to start doing for most patients in
With that in mind, I went through and I looked at a variety of the cognitive assessments that were available. Most of them were very simple,
very short, and I think that's -- that's the goal actually for primary care providers in doing this, is to keep it simple, keep it short.
We picked one of the ones that was a little bit more involved. It was longer. It was -- it was the more difficult one of all of them. It took
significantly longer to complete, but the president did exceedingly well on it. So that was not driven at all by any clinical concerns I have. It was
driven by the presidents wishes, and he -- he did well on it.
QUESTION: So to follow up, the president's personal doctor memorably said during the campaign that he would be the healthiest individual ever elected
to the presidency. Do you agree with that assessment?
JACKSON: I'm not going to comment on that. My job is to -- is to basically give you my assessment of President Trump today. And I'm not going to make
any comparisons with presidents over the last 200 years or anything.
QUESTION: Yes, there was an incident recently where the president appeared to slur his words while giving an address. Did you look into what the cause
of that might have been at all?
JACKSON: I did. Yes, we talked about that. And actually one of my ENT consultants was involved in that. We evaluated him. We checked everything
out. And everything was normal. We even went so far as to do an ultrasound of his (INAUDIBLE) glands and a few other things. And there was absolutely
no, you know, clinical findings that would suggest -- I think the reason for that was, quite honestly, me being up here right now, I think I need a
drink of water.
But I think that -- I had given the president some medication, it was specifically some Sudafed over the days previous. And I think that I had
inadvertently kind of dried up his secretions a little bit more than I intended to. And I think that led to -- or that precipitated it.
QUESTION: Some people have suggested that could be related to dentures. Does the president wear dentures...
JACKSON: He does not. The president has no partial or any dentures of any kind.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson...
QUESTION: ... ask you two questions. One is about the ejection fraction. My wife suffers from -- (INAUDIBLE) 60 percent, is that a concern going
forward for him? Because that, in some cases, indicates low activity...
JACKSON: No, not at all, 60 to 65 percent is a normal ejection fraction. That's not -- there's no concern about that at all.
QUESTION: Second follow-up on cholesterol. Over 220, do you hope he'll get it under 200?
JACKSON: Well, we're not focusing on the total cholesterol as much as we are the LDL. We would like to get the LDL down below 120. So that's what
we'll be shooting for.
QUESTION: And is in any way with the low -- I understand that the blood pressure was within norms, but with the high cholesterol, were there any
concerns for his heart health?
JACKSON: No, not at all. I mean, I think that, you know, the one good thing that -- or, you know, there are many good things that came from his exam. I
think he had great findings across the board. But the one that stands out more than anything to me is his cardiac health. His cardiac health is
excellent. And so I think, you know, with all the other things in place, he doesn't have really a family history of premature cardiac disease. He
doesn't smoke. He doesn't have diabetes.
A lot of the traditional risk factors he doesn't have. And so I think that those things in combination with the excellent cardiac results that we got
from the exercise stress test I think are very reassuring.
QUESTION: Thank you. Could you just elaborate in layman's terms if possible, (INAUDIBLE) great job at that, what you ruled out in these
cognitive tests? You know, there have been reports that the president has forgotten names, that he is repeating himself. Are you ruling out things
like early onset Alzheimer's? Are you looking at dementia-like symptoms?
And then a second question. A lot of doctors at the back end of a physical like to give their patients tips before they walk out the door, things that
they should change in terms of lifestyle or behavior. What did you tell this president, outside of diet, that he might want to change?
JACKSON: Yes, so I think that the cognitive test, you know, it's well- respected. It is a test that's used throughout the United States. Lots and lots of institutions use that test. It's the one that they use at Walter
Reed for patients that they feel like they need to do cognitive screens on. So it's a universally accepted test. And like I said, it's a little bit
more extensive than some of the shorter ones that are in some of the guidelines.
But, yes, it screens for all those things. It screens for any type of cognitive issues, you know, Alzheimer's and all those other things. And so,
you know, the fact that the president got 30 out of 30 on that exam, I think that, you know, there is no indication whatsoever that he has any
cognitive issues. And, you know, on a day-to-day basis, like I said before, it has been my experience that the president -- you know, he is very sharp,
and, you know, know he is very articulate when he speaks to me. And, you know, I have never known him to repeat himself around me.
He says what he has got to say. And he speaks his mind. And I found no reason whatsoever to think that the president has...
QUESTION: He's fine?
JACKSON: I found no reason whatsoever to think that the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process, so.
QUESTION: And the tips part, did you -- did you recommend he make any changes, lifestyle, behavioral?
JACKSON: Well, not really. I mean, I think the main thing that we would be focused on with regards to lifestyle changes are diet and exercise. And you
know, if -- if we get diet and exercise right, then weight loss will come. So those are the things that we focused on. I think that there -- there
wasn't a lot to go on here as far as giving, you know, making him healthier in the -- in the year -- in the year coming, other than incorporating an
exercise routine, working on his diet and having some exercise.
Those things will make him much healthier next year than he is now, although his health is excellent right now.
Dr. Gupta, do you want to answer one or do you just want to...
QUESTION: You ordered some intensive testing, including a CT scan of his chest and a transesophageal echocardiogram...
JACKSON: No, it was a transthoracic.
QUESTION: Transthoracic. Did he need to be sedated at all? Was there something you were worried about specifically when you ordered the CT scan?
JACKSON: No, not at all. We -- we got the CT scan just because we were debating -- I mean, I didn't have any -- any background information on him
at all from a pulmonary standpoint. You know, I didn't have old chest x- rays to look at or anything like that. So I was going to initially just get a chest x-ray and be done with it at that. But it's so easy nowadays to
just whip in and it just takes a few -- you know, a minute or two -- about as much time to get a CAT scan in the way we did, as it does to get a chest
x-ray and it gives you a lot more information about other structures in the chest.
So it just made more sense to get the CT done. With regards to the echocardiogram, one of the reasons that I did that was because I wanted to
prescribe an exercise program for the president and so I think that it makes sense to get a good cardiac assessment in a controlled environment
like the hospital before you prescribe an exercise program to a patient. So that was my thinking there.
QUESTION: He does have heart disease, is that what you said?
JACKSON: He does not have heart disease.
QUESTION: He had a CT scan before that showed calcium in his coronary blood vessels.
JACKSON: He does -- he did. He had a -- so I think -- so technically he has nonclinical atherosclerotic coronary -- coronary atherosclerosis. And so
that's been mentioned in previous physical exams he's had done. He had a coronary calcium score done in 2009, it was 34. He had a coronary calcium
score done in 2013 that was 98.
And then we did get a calcium score from this, I didn't mention it because I think it was clinically good information. It wasn't -- I -- but it was
133. So I had a long conversation with the cardiologist, not only the cardiologist at Walter Reed but the cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic and
several other well-known institutions. And everyone saw that as reassuring that he's gone this period of time and he's had that much -- that little of
a change in his coronary calcium load.
So I think overall, his coronary calcium score is very reassuring. It goes along with the rest of his cardiac workup.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, if I might ask a question that follows on the philosophy of the fitness of the president?
QUESTION: The 25th amendment, a lot of people in the country have been talking about it, it basically contemplates that a group of Senate-
confirmed laymen will weigh in on whether the president's able to discharge the duties of the office. In the U.S. the president's position (ph)
certainly given this some thought over the years that you've been in your role. On -- on what basis would you, and this is just a philosophical
question, advise the cabinet that the president is unable to discharge his duties? How does that bar get met?
JACKSON: Well, I mean, you know, section four of the -- of that amendment doesn't really, you know, give me a specific duty or role in there. Like
you said, it falls upon the cabinet and the members of Congress and all. You know, I think I'm just like any other member of the administration who
sees him and talks to him on a regular basis. If I were to see something that was very concerning and I had concerns about his cognitive ability or,
you know -- you know, something to -- to that extent that I would bring that up to the -- to the proper people in the chain of command, maybe
starting off with the chief of staff or something.
And I think that's what everyone else in -- in the administration would do. So I don't think my role as a physician would be much different than any
other member of the president's administration if they thought something like that were going on. I just think that once that happened, if it were
someone else in the administration, I would immediately be brought into it to make a clinical assessment and see if I agreed with that assessment.
But you know, I mean, I think -- at this particular point, based on my exam and the cognitive testing that we did and just my day-to-day interactions
with the president, you know, the president is mentally very -- very sharp, very intact.
QUESTION: Do you believe he is fit for duty?
JACKSON: Absolutely he's fit for duty. I think he'll remain fit for duty for the remainder of this term and even for the remainder of another term
if he's elected.
QUESTION: How can you determine that (ph)?
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, you talked a bit about President Trump in your own - - your kind of daily dealings with him...
JACKSON: Hang on, let me -- did you say how?
QUESTION: How can you determine that for the whole -- I mean, you can't determine four years out, right?
JACKSON: Yeah, absolutely. I -- I don't have a crystal ball, I can't look into it. But you know, based on his cardiac assessment, you can make
predictions, you know, you can -- you can make cardiac calculations and you can see what his risk of having a cardiac or a cerebrovascular event might
be. And so if you look at that stuff where he falls out on his cardiac assessment, he falls into a category that portends, you know, years of, you
know, event-free, you know, living.
So I mean, sure, you know, I myself could have a big event tomorrow. I mean, I -- I don't have that kind of -- I'm not making that kind of
prediction. But I'm saying based on the clinical information that I have right now over the year of me observing him and the few things that have
happened with him medically over the year, and in large part on the -- on the objective data that we gained from this particular exam, I feel very
confident that he has a very strong and a very probably possibility of making it completely through his presidency with no serious medical issues.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson?
JACKSON: Yes, I'm sorry, go ahead.
QUESTION: So you talked about dealing with President Trump on a daily basis. Can you talk a bit about him as a patient, like what type of patient
he is? Does he take all of your advice? And you also talked about -- since you were dealing with him on a daily basis, has he had any ongoing ailments
or anything like that? You talked about giving him Sudafed, sometimes it sounds like he has the sniffles when he's talking. Like, does he have any
allergies or anything like that?
JACKSON: He doesn't. I mean, on occasion, he suffers from the same, you know, viral, you know, upper respiratory stuff that you and I do and he
gets congestion and things of that nature. But for the most part, you know, one of the things I found about President Trump is that he's very
independent when it comes to his medical stuff. And so, you know, he's -- I guess, you know -- you know, the way he grew up, I guess he takes care of
most of the little stuff his self.
He doesn't come to me for band-aids and things of that nature, you know. And you know, I'm easily accessible and, you know, a lot of folks will. So,
you know, I think, you know, he -- he's a good patient. He sometimes, you know, I have to, you know, convince him why I want him to do something, so,
you know, he doesn't just take everything I say and just, you know, just take it, you know, at face value and move on.
He'll ask me questions about why would I do that or why should I do that, this, that and the other. For the most part, he's very cooperative. He
follows, you know, medical direction. He's just like every other president I've taken care of. On occasion, I have to get the first lady involved to
make sure that...
...That he's taking -- that he's doing what he's supposed to be doing. But yes, he's a good patient.
QUESTION: Just to make sure we're clear on this, when you analyze his cognitive ability or do neurological functions, that is not the same as a
psychiatric exam or a psychological (inaudible)?
JACKSON: It is not. No, it's a -- it's a screening assessment for cognitive impairment. Right, yes, right.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, does the president do anything at all right now in terms of exercise? What is his daily exercise routine, if there is one?
JACKSON: So, I would say right now on a day-to-day basis, he doesn't have a dedicated, defined exercise program. And so that -- you know, that's what
I'm working on. The good part is that, you know, we can -- we can build on that pretty easily.
QUESTION: So you said you were discussing that with him. What are you discussing? What would you like to see him start doing?
JACKSON: Well, I mean, like I said, he doesn't -- he doesn't have a daily exercise, you know, regimen and he just -- you know, some people exercise,
some people -- you know, don't. Some people just didn't -- you know, didn't -- you know, haven't done that, you know, as part of their routine. And I
would say that's the category he falls in right now.
I would say though that -- you know, despite that, one of the things, being with the President on a day-to-day basis, that has been impressive to me is
he has a lot -- a lot of energy, a lot of energy and a lot of stamina. And I think I first noticed that, you know, we traveled -- we did some overseas
travel last year. And I was really surprised because I didn't know the president early on. You know, when -- the days we'd get these 14, 16-hour
days, and you -- the staff is just spent after a while. And you're just like, man, when are we going to the hotel? When are we going down?