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President Trump Already Flip-Flopping on Gun Control?; Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; Interview With West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin; Interview With White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro; Trump Praises China's Leader; "Meltdown" At the White House; President Trump Defends Tariffs; Jeff Sessions' New Nickname In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 4, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Trump's tariffs. A surprise announcement.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to be instituting tariffs, 25 percent for steel. It'll be 10 percent for aluminum.

TAPPER: One that critics say could lead to a trade war.

TRUMP: People have no idea how badly our country has been treated.

TAPPER: But could Americans end up paying more? We will ask the man behind the president's trade plan, Peter Navarro, next.

Plus, shifting stance? President Trump calls for new gun legislation.

TRUMP: Strong, strong bill and really strong on background checks.

TAPPER: And tells lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby.

TRUMP: Some of you people are petrified of the NRA.

TAPPER: But is this the president already backing down?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I have never seen him more determined.

Democrat Senator Joe Manchin weighs in on the debate.

TAPPER: And eyes on 2020.

The president ramps up his reelection campaign.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: The president will have a challenge from the Republican Party. TAPPER: And a new report says the White House is keeping an eye on

three potential Republican challengers. One of them, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, is here and joins us in minutes.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is just trying to keep up.

President Trump said it best himself last night speaking at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington. He joked that he likes turnover and chaos.

His sometimes self-deprecating speech was punctuated with jokes about his son-in-law's Jared Kushner security clearance and his tense relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The president also brought up his new tariff proposal on steel and aluminum imports, calling them very popular. The president now doubling down on that proposal, tweeting that trade wars are good and tweeting Saturday -- quote -- "If the European Union wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will apply a tax on their cars, which freely pour into the U.S. They make it impossible for our cars and more to sell there. Big trade imbalance."

The surprise moved shocked many in his White House and brought swift condemnation from lawmakers in his own party and threats of retaliation from Europe, Canada and Asia.


TAPPER: Let's go right to the director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro.

Thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate it.


TAPPER: So let me just ask you some -- some basic questions about these tariffs. When do you think they're going to go into an effect?

NAVARRO: We expect, sometime next week, the Office of Legal Counsel will put form and legality on the proclamations and the president will sign them.

TAPPER: Sometime this week coming up?

NAVARRO: I -- I would think so, towards the end of the week. At the latest, it would be the following week.

Basically, we want to be very careful, dot the I's, cross the T's, make sure we go through all the final legal hoops, and that's where we are now. TAPPER: And one of the other big questions, and I think a lot of

people on -- on Wall Street and throughout the manufacturing community are curious about, are there going to be any exemptions for these tariffs. Or are they just going to be blanket 25 percent tariffs on all imported steel, blanket 10 percent on all imported aluminum?

NAVARRO: So -- so let's go back to -- to Thursday, which I -- I thought was a quintessential and great event at the White House with -- with the president.

The president was getting ready to make his final decision and wanted to touch base with the executives in the aluminum and steel industry, and so he brought them into the Cabinet Room.

And we had a wonderful discussion about the options on the table. And the general consensus in the room the president heard was tariffs, rather than quotas, and that they should be across the board with no country exemptions.

The president heard that loud and clear. There are some really good reasons for doing all that. And that's the direction the president took at the end of the meeting.

TAPPER: So, there's going to be no exemptions? That's what it's going to look like at the end of the week?

NAVARRO: Well, there's a difference between exemptions and country exclusions. There will be an exemption procedure for particular cases, where we need to have exemptions, so that business can -- can move forward.

But, at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions.

TAPPER: President Trump has pointed to Chinese overproduction of steel as one of the major reasons for the tariff. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the United States, including the need to address overproduction in China and other countries.

You have countries that are so overproducing. And what they're doing is, they're dumping it on us.


TAPPER: China only accounts for 2 percent of U.S. steel imports. It's not even in the top 10 importers of steel in this country.


And I think there are a lot of allies of the U.S., especially perhaps Canada and South Korea, who are saying, this is going to hurt us -- U.S. allies Canada and South Korea -- much more than it's going to hurt China. NAVARRO: So, the bigger picture here is that China has -- has

tremendous overcapacity in both aluminum and steel.

And so what they do is, they flood the world market with this product. And that ripples down to the -- to our shores and to other countries. And so China is, in many ways, the root of the problem in both aluminum and steel for all countries of the world.

But -- but let's be clear here about what the president's doing. Let's lay this on the table.

This is an action, basically, to protect our national security and economic security. And the president was quite clear. We can't have a country that can defend itself and prosper without an aluminum and steel industry.

TAPPER: I have a lot of questions for you about this national security exemption.

One of them, of course, you're -- you're -- you're invoking it -- World Trade Organization rules say this action can only be legally imposed using the national security exemption.

The Pentagon wrote a memo about the tariff, saying, indeed, the unfair steel practices do create a national security problem. But the Pentagon also said that the U.S. should use targeted tariffs and avoid angering allies who are needed for other diplomatic national security reasons, such as Canada, such as South Korea.

If you are invoking the national security exemption, should you not also be listening to the Pentagon on how to apply these tariffs?

NAVARRO: What I love about this president is, he listens to all points of view, both within his government and outside, and then he makes the tough decisions.

And, in this case, he made the decision to with 25 percent tariffs on steel, 10 percent on aluminum across the board, with no country exclusions.

And -- and that's the way to do it, I believe, because simply that -- for example, a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, and to start -- as soon as you start exempting countries, you have to raise the tariffs on everybody else.

As soon as you exempt one country, then you have to exempt another country. And -- and so it -- it's a slippery slope. So -- so I understand what the Pentagon said. The president understands it very clearly. He heard all sides. And he made a decision, like I said, courageous, tough decision, and I think it's the right decision.

TAPPER: From the perspective of Canada -- let's just do that, because they are the number one importer in the U.S. of steel.

NAVARRO: Sure. TAPPER: Canada would say, national security exemption? We fight with you in every war. Our soldiers are right next to your soldiers in every conflict. What possible scenario can you envision where we wouldn't supply you with steel and aluminum?

NAVARRO: So, let's go back what the 232 does.

When we talked about it just a few minutes ago, we said national security and economic security, broadly defined. And that includes having a strong manufacturing in the defense industrial base inside our borders, Jake, inside our borders.

And so, in the aluminum case, we have a situation now where import penetration is over 90 percent. We are -- we are literally on our last legs. And Canada is 40 percent of the market. And if you exempt Canada, then you have to put big, big tariffs on everybody else.

So, this is -- this is a -- a measured, targeted approach.

TAPPER: Lawrence Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, three of them -- all three of them, economists, big supporters of President Trump, campaigned advisers to President Trump, they wrote in a CNBC article this weekend -- quote -- "President Trump genuinely believes that his steel and aluminum tariffs will save thousands of blue-collar jobs, but even if tariffs save every one of the 140,000 or so steel jobs in America, it puts at risk five million manufacturing and related jobs in industries that use steel."

And this is an argument that you hear from a lot of Republicans. Your -- you might be protecting 140,000 Americans and hurting millions more.


And I know Larry. I know Steve. We were brothers in arms during the campaign. And I'm totally in sync with them, as the president is, on things like deregulation and tax cuts.

But Larry and Steve have never, ever supported the president on trade. And when the president ran against 16 other Republican candidates, all 16 of those candidate didn't -- didn't embrace his trade agenda either.

And guess what? He beat them.

So, Larry, Steve, they can have their -- their points of view, and I agree with that, but they're dead wrong on the economics, because there's no downstream effects here. There's only the president, for national security and economic security purposes, saving and defending our steel and aluminum industries.

And, as the president said, we can't have a country without those industries. And I believe that.

TAPPER: One last question for you, sir. The last time something like this was attempted, they were much more

targeted steel tariffs by the Bush administration in 2002. Europe and others complained to the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization threatened a $2 billion fine.


You know all this. I'm just informing...


TAPPER: I'm informing the viewers.

So, there's every reason to believe that the WTO will object and try to take action against the United States.

Will the United States consider leaving the World Trade Organization under President Trump?

NAVARRO: What I think the president wants to do in terms of the World Trade Organization is send a very strong signal to them across the board on this issue of trade that we're not going to take it anymore.

What we have is a country here in the United States, which has the lowest tariffs in the world, lowest non-tariff barriers in the world. And all we get from that is not fair and reciprocal trade from our trading partners.

What we get from that is a half-a-trillion dollars a year in trade deficits that put our wealth offshore and our jobs offshore. And a lot of the problem has been the World Trade Organization, which is over 160 countries. And a lot of them simply don't like us.

And so we don't get good results there. So, we want to -- we -- we're -- we're free traders. Let's -- let's be clear about that. Everyone in that White House is a free trader. But we are fair and reciprocal traders. And the World Trade Organization, I think, needs to change with the times.

TAPPER: If they don't change, yes or no, is the Trump administration considering leaving the WTO?

NAVARRO: Jake, you know how -- you know that's a provocative question. That's down the road.


TAPPER: Well, President Trump trashed the WTO in a speech yesterday.

NAVARRO: Yes, and -- and rightly so, and rightly so.

TAPPER: Well, I'm just saying, it doesn't come from nowhere.


NAVARRO: You know, the best-case scenario here is that the world wakes up to the fact that we're not going to take it anymore, we want fair and reciprocal trade. And the World Trade Organization needs to adapt accordingly.

TAPPER: OK, but you're not going to entertain the worst-case scenario. You're just giving the best-case scenario.

Worst-case scenario, President Trump says to the WTO, we're -- we're thinking about leaving?

NAVARRO: I -- asked and answered.


Last question for you.

You've had major disagreements with the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, one of the president's top economic advisers. It's been reported he's now mulling resignation after losing this disagreement with you over tariffs.

Would you be sad to see Gary Cohn go?


NAVARRO: That's a great question.

Look, I was with Gary and -- and the president Thursday afternoon. He was in great spirits. Gary and I actually get along very well. And we -- we agree on more things than we disagree, for example, on deregulation, on tax cuts.

You may be surprised to know that we are perfectly aligned on the China question. So, Gary and I basically have very differing opinions. The president loves that. He wants to hear all sides of the argument.

So, he's a valued member of the team. And it's up to Gary whether he goes or stays, but I like working with the guy.

TAPPER: Peter Navarro, it's always a pleasure. Thank you so much for being here.


TAPPER: President Trump shocked Republicans and Democrats alike this week when he announced his support for some gun control measures.

But, after talking to the NRA, is President Trump already changing his mind?

I will talk to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin about that and more next. Stay with us.


[09:16:51] TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats at the White House this week when he appeared to throw his support behind several Democratic gun control measures, including a proposal from Senator Amy Klobuchar to curb domestic abusers' access to guns and a proposal from Senator Dianne Feinstein to ban some semiautomatic weapons.

The president suggested adding both proposals to a bipartisan bill on background checks from Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey.


TRUMP: So, if you can add that to this bill, that would be great.

Dianne, if you could add what you have also -- and I think you can -- into the bill...


TRUMP: Can you do that? Joe, can you do that?

Pat, can you add some of the things? You're not going to agree with...


FEINSTEIN: If you help.

TRUMP: Well, no, I will help. But can you add what Amy and what Dianne have? Can we add them in?


TAPPER: And here with us is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Thanks so much for being here.

So, that was...

MANCHIN: Thank you for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: That was...


TAPPER: First of all, would adding Dianne Feinstein's ban on some semiautomatic weapons, would that help your bill? Or would that...

MANCHIN: No, that wouldn't help our bill at all.

TAPPER: It would kill it?

MANCHIN: Yes. And I have told Dianne that. I'm not taking anybody's guns away from them. We can't even get

background checks that makes gun sense. There's not a law-abiding gun owner in America that doesn't believe that if you go to a gun show and if you go on the Internet, you need to know through a commercial transaction who the person is and what their intent, what their background is.


MANCHIN: That's all. We didn't take -- we protected all the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

So, our bill is basically crafted that basically accepts a law-abiding gun owner doing the things that we have done in our culture, but also making sure that the bad person or the terrorist that advertise on -- on the Internet, says, go down to the gun show and get whatever you want.

That needs to be closed. That should be the base bill that we work from.

TAPPER: And we covered this extensively in 2013, when you and Senator Toomey introduced it, the NRA lobbying it heavily against it and, in your view, misrepresenting sometimes what was in the bill.

President Trump on Wednesday -- that was him -- you just heard him right there.

MANCHIN: Yes. Yes.

TAPPER: The next day, he met with three of the top leaders of the NRA.


TAPPER: One of them, Chris Cox, the head lobbyist, tweeted: "I had a great meeting with President Trump and the vice president. We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS and VPOTUS" -- president and the vice president -- "support the Second Amendment, support strong due process, and don't want gun control. #NRA #MakeAmericaGreatAgain."

Very mixed messages from President Trump on this issue.


TAPPER: Do you have any idea, if the Manchin-Toomey bill were to come to his desk, would he sign it?

MANCHIN: I really believe he would.

TAPPER: You believe he would?

MANCHIN: I would. In my heart of hearts, I believe that.

We -- I would tell Chris. And I know Chris and all -- they're all -- these are good people. They're just -- this is the position they have taken. And they have been pushed to that position.

We worked and kept them involved in the drafting of the bill. They were apprised of everything that we were trying to do in a most responsible way. The president -- no one believes that President Trump is going to take your guns away. I'm not going to take your guns away.

No one believes that we don't support the Second Amendment rights, President Trump and myself and Pat Toomey. With that being said, we do believe in gun sense that averages 80, 90 percent of the people believe that you should know who that person is before you have a transaction.

And commercial transactions is where we have to start. So, that's the base bill that we have talked about. We had a great meeting on Wednesday. Chris said the NRA had a great meeting on Thursday. So, OK, we both had great meetings.


TAPPER: Right.

MANCHIN: Let's find out where it is.

But you got to do something here.

TAPPER: But Senator -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not introducing gun legislation this week.

Do you have any idea if he's ever going to bring up...

MANCHIN: If the president comes forward and says, this is what I want done, this is what I'm going to support, and I will give you the cover you need, OK...


TAPPER: So, it's up to President Trump?

MANCHIN: That's what -- it's up to President Trump, truly.

He can be the first president -- and that can be a legacy for him -- to do something that takes the commercial transaction of a gun, an openness as it can be, when the Internet and the terrorists and criminals can go anywhere they want under any conditions in any state and buy what they want.

That's all we're saying. Shut that down, but don't take away my rights as a law-abiding gun owner.

TAPPER: But is it not possible that, even after the Parkland horror that we saw in Parkland, Florida, is it not possible, after the kids that we saw, motivated, rallying, coming to Washington later this month...

MANCHIN: Yes. TAPPER: ... President Trump saying he wants to do something on this,

substantial majorities of the American people saying that they want something done on this, is it not still possible, if not likely, that Congress will do nothing?

MANCHIN: Oh, it's a high probability that could happen if this thing goes mute.

The thing that happens is, is that we see a movement we have never seen before, Jake. These young children, these young adults, if you will, these schoolchildren are speaking out now.

I said, the only thing you should fear by going to school in the morning is, did you do your homework and are you ready for the test? That should be the only fear you have, not a fear, can I home safe, is someone going to attack me, is harm going to enter my life that day?

So, we've got to take that out every way, shape and form. I think the president and everyone else recognizes that. They're just afraid to move on this of who do they upset in the political arena.

Well, why don't you figure out who do you protect in society.


MANCHIN: And that's our job. And that's what we have got to do.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about the president's new tariffs on steel and aluminum.


TAPPER: Only 1 percent of American steel production jobs are based in your state, West Virginia, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

How do you explain this policy and your support for it to the 1.8 million people in your state who might see prices go up because of this new tariff?

MANCHIN: Well, first of all, that's Wall Street talking about everybody shaking this -- the price is going to go up, we're going to disrupt the whole market.

TAPPER: You don't buy it?

MANCHIN: I don't buy it from this standpoint.

I appreciate and respect the president's throwing it on the table and throwing the gauntlet down because of this. I have -- in West Virginia, we have lost thousands and thousands of jobs. We're in steel, 20,000 jobs or more at one time. We're down to a shell of less than 1,000 or so.

It's just ridiculous what they have done. We have lost our aluminum production. When you look at who produces the steel in the country -- in the world, 50 percent of the steel produced in the world comes from China.

The United States is the largest importer of steel. Connect the dots. Even though they're saying it might not come directly from China, it comes some variation through other countries.

Now look at the deficits that we have, the trading deficits. Don't you think that we ought to prioritize the trading deficits that we have with other countries to find out how we're reciprocating?

And in West Virginia, the average worker will come to me and say, hey, Joe, don't you think we ought to charge countries that are sending us products the same as we do when we send them products? Just a fairness.


MANCHIN: So, the president has put this on the table. I welcome it. Let's look at it and see what they roll out.

TAPPER: Last question, sir.

Teachers in your home state of West Virginia have been on strike for seven days. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is pointing the figure at large tax cuts that you signed into law when you were governor as to explain the low teacher pay, saying -- quote -- "They're saying we can't afford it. Well, we can't afford it because we have done these large tax cuts."

What do you think?

MANCHIN: That's -- that's absolutely crazy.

I had the largest increases of teachers' pay, 24 percent of their pay, filled in all their steps and did everything humanly possible. We put our -- our state -- and I'm -- I'm the last person that wants to brag on what our administration did, but we worked hard, because we worked together.

We didn't villainize Republicans. We worked with Democrats and Republicans and educators. We put education on the same path and the same elevation as we did on economic vitality.

The economy and education goes hand in hand. If you think you can cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, and have no revenue whatsoever, and how in the world did we do what we did and also end up with $1 billion, 25 percent liquidity in cash reserves?

We did that by expanding and putting -- investing in education. Very little has been done since then. So, that is absolutely erroneous.

TAPPER: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, we always thank you. It's always good to have you.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. President Trump making two big announcements this week about his 2020

election campaign. And a new report suggests it might be because he's worried about three potential Republican challengers, including Governor John Kasich of Ohio, who joins us next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

The White House may be reeling from a week of chaos, but President Trump is already planning for four more years.

The Trump campaign and the RNC just unveiled a brand-new fund-raising push. And earlier this week, the president tapped Brad Parscale, who ran digital media for Trump in 2016, to run his 2020 reelection campaign.

The steps may be meant to deter a potential Republican challenger. A new report from Politico says the White House has been keeping close tabs on three Republican Trump critics, Senators Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake and Ohio's Governor John Kasich.

And Governor Kasich joins us now.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

I want to get your thoughts on the president's new tariffs. The Democratic senator from your state, Sherrod Brown, said the move was a welcome action, that it was long overdue. You have said it would invite a trade war. Ohio is obviously a major steel-producing state.

Why don't you back this move?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, first of all, I don't want to disrupt, you know, the bulk of things and have lots of people, either consumers having higher prices or other people losing their jobs, Jake.


Look, the trade issue a very important issue. And I have always believed that the bureaucracy, in the way in which we're being determined whether we're being ripped off or not, operates too slowly.

And, frankly, what the president ought to do, working with the Congress and outside groups, we ought to modernize the way in which we determine whether the trade agreements are being violated.

But just to turn around one day and say, well, for this national security reason, which the Department of Defense doesn't even agree to, doesn't make much sense. And I'll tell you, the way it was handled, it would be like me going

home tonight and having dinner with my family and saying, girls, I sold the house today.

I mean, it -- you just don't do things like that off the cuff. So, look, you have got the Europeans threatening us. The president is threatening back. This -- trade wars and dividing us from our allies makes no sense.

Now, look, fair trade is important, Jake. And that's why this whole mechanism of not allowing bureaucrats to slow the process down -- and, if somebody cheated us -- OK, if somebody cheats us, by the time they get called on it, the jobs are lost.

So, we need an expedited process. That's where the president ought to focus.

TAPPER: The president also met with bipartisan lawmakers this week, when he said this about a new proposal for gun violence restraining orders. Take a listen.


TRUMP: To go to court would have taken a long time. So, you could do exactly what you're saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second.


TAPPER: Now, you have proposed a gun violence restraining order in Ohio, which would allow the restraining order...

KASICH: Right.

TAPPER: ... but only after due process, after a court ruling.

What do you think about President Trump saying take the guns first and then do due process?

KASICH: Well, that's not the way we're going to do it. I don't think that's where this would ultimately pass, Jake.

Look, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of argument around the gun issue. What I tried to do out here was to bring those who are very strongly pro-gun with those who, they believe in the Second Amendment, but think there ought to be limits, and come up with a package that we think could pass.

It's not enough to just say something. You want to pass something. So, I'm optimistic we will.

In terms of our gun restraining order, it means, if you have somebody in the family who sees trouble in the family, they have an ability, either go to law enforcement or the court in order to get those guns out of that person who's having a very difficult time, get the guns away from them. If you're a neighbor or somebody outside, you can go to a police

officer who can investigate and then go to the judge. There's got to be speed in this, because we don't want people who are emotionally -- you know, emotionally in upheaval, who could pose a threat either to themselves or to somebody else, to be in a position of where they can have a gun.

What I hope is going to happen is, we will make some steps. And young people, the millennials, the Gen Xers are saying, look, we have heard enough. Deliver something. Deliver something. We don't want all these excuses. Deliver something.

And I -- frankly, they put it to me every once in a while. And I try to explain to them the politics of why it's so difficult. They don't want to hear it. And you know what? Good for them. Bully for them. I love them. I love the way that they're saying, let's do the art of the impossible, rather than the art of the possible.

And the more they push, the better chance we have of getting something done to have greater gun safety and better protection for everybody in our country.

TAPPER: I think, on behalf of all members of Generation X, I thank you for calling us young.

But I want to move on.

The president has said...

KASICH: Yes, Jake, you don't fit in that.


KASICH: I'm sorry. You -- you just don't -- you used to be -- you look that -- you try to look that way, just like I do.

TAPPER: I'm trying.

KASICH: It just doesn't work.

TAPPER: Just trying.

KASICH: Fake news.


TAPPER: President Trump has said he wants to work with Russia.

But, just this week, Putin said he's developed a nuclear missile that could avoid existing American missile defense systems. We haven't heard anything yet from the president.

Would you be doing something differently if you were in the Oval Office right now when it comes to Russia?

KASICH: Oh, look, look, a number of things. First of all, I do give the Trump administration credit for delivering

anti-tank weapons to the Ukrainians. They needed to have it.

Secondly, working with our allies, which is why we don't want to have some big trade war over something that really doesn't hold water, we need our friends in Europe and us to make sure that the Baltics feel protected.

The other thing is cyber. Let me say one thing about cyber, Jay, that -- or -- that has really -- Jake, that's really never been said. The presidents are exploiting the divisions in our country using this cyber-warfare against us.

In other words, when we fight, they then use -- they use the information to try to divide us further and anger us further. This issue of cyber is a big deal, and we ought to have one single Cyber Command.

And the other thing is, we're going to have to do detection. And, unfortunately, we're going to have to modernize our forces, which is money we are going to have to spend on defense, more money on defense, some of which we would all wish we would spend at the National Institutes of Health.

One final thing about defense, all right? You know, you have to clean up defense. You don't need all this infrastructure for all these bases. All we're doing is taking care of pork-barrel politics, at the expense of other priorities, while building a strong defense.


TAPPER: President Trump named Brad Parscale as his 2020 campaign manager this week.

A new report in Politico says that you are one of three potential Republican challengers that the White House is keeping an eye on.

What do you make of you being signaled out as a threat to the president's reelection?

KASICH: I -- this is the first time I have heard of it. And it doesn't mean much to me.

Look, I'm going to be out of being governor here soon. I hear applause in the background.


KASICH: I will be out. I don't know what I'm going to do.

But all options are on the table, both for me in my private, my professional life. But I want to keep a voice, because I think it's important, whether it's trade, immigration.

And, by the way, have we forgotten the dreamers, the DACA, the young people who came here? They're not even in the news anymore. And I don't -- I can't believe Congress is -- Congress has got to do something on guns.

And you know what? I think the president will sign something. If he doesn't, send it to him anyway. I mean, the deal is that you don't ask permission. You legislate, you get it to the president, you see what he does.

I believe he will sign some really good, strong, commonsense gun legislation. Send him the dreamers. We can't be taking these kids that have been -- or young people who have been here, some of them, for 20 years and ship them out of the country for political reasons.

TAPPER: So, Governor...

KASICH: It's like everything falls off. The agenda moves so quickly, we can't stay focused on anything. And that's not very helpful to us.

TAPPER: You said you're keeping all your options open.

I had asked a question about you possibly running for president in 2020. You said you were keeping all options open.

Senator Jeff Flake said he thinks there should be a Republican challenger to President Trump in 2020.

Without getting involved in whether or not it's going to be you, do you think a Republican opponent could win a primary fight with the president?

KASICH: Well, come on, Jake. We don't know what's going to happen next week.

That's not -- you know, all I am doing is making sure that, both now and when I'm out, that I can have a voice that can help the country, that can bring it together.

That's all I'm particularly interested in at this point. And if I go any farther than that, Jake, I won't be able to get in my house tonight. My wife will have it barricaded.


TAPPER: I appreciate...

KASICH: So, I'm not going there.

TAPPER: I appreciate the...

KASICH: But, listen, this show's been so calm, and now, all of a sudden, you got to throw a couple hand grenades in there, right, to stir everybody up.

TAPPER: I like to...

KASICH: You're tired, Jake.

Don't stay so late at the Gridiron. TAPPER: I like to -- I like to mix it up.


TAPPER: Governor Kasich, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

KASICH: Jake, you're the best. Thank you.

TAPPER: All right.

A rough week for the president. A top adviser resigns, a public battle with his attorney general and we're now learning it could be even worse

President Trump has reported started his own doctor recommended diet. Is he hangry? That's next.




TRUMP: Xi is a great gentleman. He's now president for life. President for life.

No, he's great. And look he was able to do that. I think it's great.

Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day.


TAPPER: President Trump joking around in a free willing address at a fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago praising President Xi but also saying in terms of Xi now being president for life, "Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."

My panel is here with me.

So I know the president is joking about being president for life and nobody should make too big a deal of it (ph) but what about the fact that he's praising President Xi who is -- who leads a repressive country and consolidated his powers?

LINDA CHAVEZ, CHAIRMAN, CENTER FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: Well, those are the kind of people President Trump likes. He likes Vladimir Putin. He like President Xi. He likes Erdogan in Turkey. He likes Duterte in the Philippines.

He likes strong men and that seems to be his sort of personal style. That's what he would like to be himself, I think. And he does not like the elected leaders of Democratic states.

TAPPER: Senator?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I wouldn't go that far. Look, I think the president wants to be an effective leader and be able to get things that he promised the American people done and I think he's frustrated -- he's obviously frustrated by the way things happen around here. And he likes the fact that he can actually issue executive orders and get things done and do the regulatory changes he's made.

And he's been very effective and he's been widely praised by people who supported him at following through. And he doesn't like the fact that, you know, we have a Congress and we have a media that's been a little tough on him and that's the difference.

TAPPER: So that was the president in Florida.

Back at home, an avalanche of news out of the White House this week. Take a look at just of the some of the headlines.

Kushner security clearance downgraded. Sessions pushes back on Trump after "disgraceful" insult. Hope Hicks resigning from the White House.

White House meltdown on full display. Ben Carson says he wants to cancel 31,000 dining room furniture order. Defiant John Kelly the chief of staff continues to misrepresent is handling of Rob Porter scandal.

It was a particularly chaotic week.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was and having worked in and out of a White House for eight years, if you have one of these things happening over the course of a couple month it creates chaos internally and externally. Because it's hard to focus on the job that you're supposed to do, not just for the president but for the senior staff.

And now they're all speculating, will the national security adviser be here or won't he, will Gary Cohn stay here or won't he over these tariffs, what's happening after Hope Hicks? They're all talking about internal staff struggles which means they're not talking about their agenda and what they should be doing over the next several months.

TAPPER: I have to say there has also been a chaotic policy component to this in terms of where the president is on guns. It's unclear. The tariff announcement caught a lot of people in the White House and the Trump administration by surprise.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, not only that but this is not new for the president. We expected that show that he put on, that "Apprentice" style show that he put on at the board room with Dianne Feinstein to his left and Senator Cornyn to his right, and you could see both of their faces and you knew that wasn't real.


That was for the cameras and the president has a tendency to do that. I'm more troubled -- I don't believe anything he said about guns. So set that aside. I'm more troubled with the chaos that he set our economy -- not just the U.S. economy but the global which he through when he introduced this tariff proposal via Twitter. Not only was it reckless but he didn't have the support of Mnuchin, he didn't have the support of the secretary of defense, he didn't have the support of people he needs to have support of in the White House, and then he didn't inform our ambassadors, of our allies in countries where we have ambassadors and it was just pure chaos.

And you saw the market respond accordingly.

TAPPER: What do you think about the tariffs?

CHAVEZ: Well, I think the tariffs are a terrible idea. I'm a conservative. I'm a free market conservative. I believe in free trade.

And I think what he's done is perhaps the most reckless thing he's done since becoming president because if he is successful, if, in fact, he does slap these tariffs on, we've already heard from the U.K., from Germany, from Canada, from others who actually sell us steel more steel than China, which is what he seems to be most upset about. We're going to end up with a trade war and while he thinks we can win a trade war that is not the case.

The last time we had this kind of incident was with President Bush. We got a huge fine. A $2 billion fine from the WTO and President Bush had to back down because Americans were losing jobs.

The auto industry claimed they lost 200,000 jobs during that period.

TAPPER: Can America win a trade war? Are they easy to win as President Trump said?

SANTORUM: As someone who pushed for steel tariffs and believed that they were the right thing to do, the reality is that President Trump won this election because the Americans are tired of being pushed around on the world stage when it comes to trade. The reality is we have these huge trade deficits and you can say, well, you know, it benefits the economy overall.

Yes, it benefits some in the economy. It certainly benefit western Pennsylvania in the 1990's and when I was representing that area. And the reality is that, we have a large group of Americans who want to see us fight for American jobs and to be surprised that the president said he's going to do what he's been saying he's going to do since the 1980's no one should be surprised that Donald Trump is doing it.

Do I agree specifically with what he's doing? I have some concerns about it.

But I like the fact that he's fighting. I like the fact he's out there pushing for this and of course the world's not going to like it. The world has a great deal with America right now.

The reality is this president's going to fight. Should he focus a little bit more and maybe deal with it a little differently? Yes but I like the fact that he's doing this.

PSAKI: Well, this is exactly why you have a policy process and a White House and an administration because the fact is there's a small population of people in this country who would be -- who are impacted because the steel industry has been dying a slow death.

TAPPER: A 140,000 people in (ph) the (ph) steel (ph) industry (ph).

PSAKI: Yes. a 140,000 people in the steel industry. The industrial industry has been dying a slow death for decades.

The reality is if you look at the numbers and if look at "Heritage -- "Heritage Foundation," I rarely quote them, but their numbers say 6.5 million people would be impacted negatively by this.


PSAKI: So you do have a policy process because you're trying to determine are the outcomes that I want more jobs in the country, not just select rust belt states is that -- of the outcome. And the second piece which Bakari already touched on is the global impact.

It's not just about the economy that's a big piece but it's also our allies and partners like Germany going to work with us, on key priorities, if we are starting a trade war with them and the answer is no.

TAPPER: You're from South Carolina --


TAPPER: -- a state's that been hit a lot of these trade deals, is there something to be said about the president fighting for the American worker?

SELLERS: And I think that we get confused about being reckless and being a fighter. The president is now being reckless because what South Carolina produces more of than any state outside of Michigan is cars. What we also produce a ton of is tires.

What this is going to do is impact not just a South Carolina workers in a very tangible way because we're going to lose jobs in those industries but it's also going to be a back door tax on those people who are going out there trying to buy these vehicles themselves. This is -- this is not what this country needs to re-establish any global stature.

A perfect example is a simple beer can. We're going to lose 20,000 jobs in the beer industry and you talk about the aluminum made in that can, the price is going to go up, the waitress loses her job, the line worker loses his job. It's a back door tax on industries we care about.

TAPPER: Unfortunately, that's all the time we have. We should point out a lot of people dispute the numbers you're saying. Everyone thank you -- SELLERS: Everybody drink a beer.


TAPPER: Thank you so much. I'm having one in 11 minutes.


TAPPER: So Attorney General Jeff Sessions is fighting back after another public insult from the president. And according to "The Washington Post" with their relation on a new low the president has started calling Attorney General Sessions by a new nickname, Mr. Magoo.

And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."



TAPPER: Welcome back.

President Trump is reportedly fuming at his attorney general, and according to "The Washington Post," the president has given Jeff Sessions a brand new nickname, and that's a subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): After months of publicly complaining about Jeff Sessions --

TRUMP: We're very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens. Time will tell.

TAPPER: -- the president has reportedly privately given the attorney general a new nickname, Mr. Magoo.

QUINCY MAGOO, CARTOON CHARACTER: That's terrible. It's just shocking.

TAPPER: That's, of course, a reference to the optically challenged crotchety cartoon character created in 1949 by subversive cartoonists satirizing the myopic conservatism of the McCarthy era.

MAGOO: (INAUDIBLE). They'll stick to you every time.

TAPPER: But we doubt that's what President Trump is referring to. He was probably trying to highlight Sessions' stubbornness. Like Magoo, he refuses to bow down to authority.


MAGOO: I demand complete satisfaction. Is that clear?

TAPPER: Or maybe it's Sessions' confidence. MAGOO: I like a young man with ambition and confidence in his


TAPPER: Regardless of the reasons, envisioning Sessions as Mr. Magoo and the hijinx that ensue is probably really what the president was going for.

MAGOO: Twinkle toes Magoo they called me.

TAPPER: Then again, Magoo is an extremely wealth curmudgeon who never admits when he's wrong and somehow always ends up on top.

Whom does that actually describe?

MAGOO: Magoo, they can't bamboozle you. You never lost a fight yet.


TAPPER: She has mostly kept her opinions to herself until now. What does former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice really think about President Trump? She opens up next.