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Trump Attacks Mueller; President Trump Addresses Drug Crisis. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 19, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:01]

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But there are people that are good people, that are strong, smart people, and they would differ with most of us.

But I think, unless you do that, unless you have really, really powerful penalties, led by the death penalty for the really bad pushers and abusers, we are going to get nowhere. And I'm telling you, we are going to get somewhere.

Companies must also be held accountable. The Department of Justice recently created a task force to coordinate investigations and lawsuits against manufacturers and other bad actors that harm our citizens. And I can tell you that Jeff Sessions, who's here with us now, feels so strongly about this.

And they're working very hard and very effectively on that. And so we appreciate that very much. Thank you. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I can think of nothing more important.

The third part of our initiative is to get lifesaving help to those who need it. We're going to make sure our first-responders have access to lifesaving overdose-reversing drugs, which, by the way, are amazing.

Here with us today is Mike Kelly, the president of Adapt Pharma. Adapt Pharma makes an overdose-reversing drug for opioids, which I have watched and seen work. It's called Narcan. It's actually incredible.

Today, we applaud Adapt Pharma's decision to provide free, free Narcan to all high schools, colleges and universities in America. I would like you to come up, Mike. Come up. Where's Mike?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Come up, Mike.

That's really an amazing and generous offer. Thank you. Tell us a little bit about that, Mike, please. MIKE KELLY, PRESIDENT, ADAPT PHARMA: So, Adapt is a small company

that has a big job, which is to reverse overdoses.

And we have provided free of charge four boxes to all colleges and universities in the United States, two boxes free for every high school in the United States, as well as educational awareness for the nursing departments, as well as the faculty, to train and teach everybody about the dangers of opioids and the risks, and also the benefits of having Narcan nasal spray near where opioids are.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you.

KELLY: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I appreciate that. Thank you, Mike. It's amazing, generous.

And I have watched the police and the fire. They come around and they become so good at it, but I have seen people that are just about dead wake up.

Now, the problem is, they then go back in many cases to the drugs and they do it again and again and again. But we have to work on that. We have to work on that very, very strongly.

I also want to recommend and commend a Richmond-based company, Kaleo, for donating more than 300,000 doses of their overdose-reversing drug to first-responders, which has already saved over 5,000 lives in a very short period of time.

My administration has made clear that medical providers can share crucial information with family members about an overdose, so that their loved ones can help them get into treatment. We need treatment.

We're making medically assisted treatment more available and affordable. And we continue to increase competition and drive down drug prices. And we're driving them down.

We're going to have a major news conference probably at the White House in about a month, because all of you people -- and I'm talking about prescription drugs, not necessarily the drugs that we're talking about here, but we pay as a country so much more for drugs because of the drug lobbies and other reasons and the complexity of distribution, which is basically another term for saying, how do we get more money?

And if you compare our drug prices to other countries in the world, in some cases, it's many times higher for the exact same pill or whatever it is in the exact same package made in the exact same plant.

And we're going to change that.

[15:05:02]

And I would like to ask Secretary Azar just to come up and mention opioid, but also talk about how we're getting your drug prices down. And we have already saved billions of dollars for our country, and it's reflected in much lower drug prices.

Watch what's going to happen over a short period of time? This man is one of the great professionals, ran an incredibly successful drug company. Who knows better than the guy running the drug company, Eli Lilly?

And that's your company, right, or was?

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Was.

TRUMP: Now you're on the other side, though. So nobody knows better. The most respected man in that industry, and we got him to work, because he loves our country.

Will you tell them a little bit about what you have planned for drug prices and also opioids in terms of stoppage, please?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Secretary.

AZAR: Well, thank you, Mr. President.

And, you know, you have done a lot already to tackle this issue of drug pricing. So, last year, the FDA approved more generic drugs than it ever has in its history. And that brings prices down for patients, for the system, for everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

AZAR: You also changed the rules so our senior citizens pay less out of pocket for their drugs. That's $3.2 billion that they're paying less out of pocket for their drugs when they go to the pharmacy.

And then we're going to be rolling out, as you mentioned, in about a month a whole slate of other proposals around how we decrease the price of drugs and how we bring discounts that the middlemen right now are getting, how those will go to our patients, to individuals.

Now, we're attacking this with the same level of action, determination and resolve that you're bringing to the opioid crisis. And that's where we're focused on prevention and getting that one-third fewer legal opioid prescriptions to our people.

The second is the -- stopping the illicit flow of these opioids into our country. And the third is compassionate treatment for people, evidence-based, science-based, compassionate treatment that can help people recover and stay away from relapse.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you, Alex.

You will be seeing drug prices falling very substantially in the not- too-distant future. And it's going to be beautiful.

And I also want to thank Scott Gottlieb. Scott is working on different things, but one of them is called right to try. Do you know what right to try is? These are the people that are terminally ill, and there are very, very good-looking combinations of things or pills, medicines, potential cures, and they're terminal.

And they're not going to be living much longer. And we don't have the right to give them these experimental drugs or these early-stage drugs that really show promise for whatever reason.

But they say because they don't want to harm somebody, if you can believe it. They don't want to harm. So the people will oftentimes go to foreign lands, foreign countries. They will do anything. They want hope. They want hope. Right to try.

So we're working with Congressman Greg Walden and numerous other senators and congressmen. And I think we're going to have good luck. The Democrats have been pushing back on it, but I think many of them are also coming along. It's called right to try.

A patient is terminal. There's good progress made with a certain drug. We're going to make it possible for that patient to get that drug, and maybe it's going to work. It's hope. It's incredible. They have been talking about this for years and years and years. We're going to get it approved, so important.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Right?

To further expand treatment, I'm also calling on Congress to change the restrictive 1970s era law that prevents Medicaid from paying for care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.

It's such an important factor. In the meantime, my administration is granting waivers to states, so they can help people who need treatment now, Governor.

We're also going to help inmates leaving prison get treatment so they can have a second chance to become productive, law-abiding citizens. And what we have really done for the inmates, it's very hard for them to get out of jail and get a job.

[15:10:00]

What we have really done for them better than anything we can sign, any legislation that we can pass demanding that you hire, we're getting a great economy.

It hasn't been this good in many, many years. Some people say it's never been this good.

And what's happened is, as you see, unemployment is way down and people are starting to hire inmates. And the results are incredible. Some of these employers are calling up, saying, wow, what great people. We're giving them a second chance. It's very, very important.

So the tremendous economy is helping us very much with that program.

We want every American -- thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We want every American to be able to reach their full, God- given potential, and we will succeed together, as one people, one nation, and one great American family, because Americans never give in and we never, ever give up.

This group never gives up, right? Never give up. Your boy.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: The brave families here today remind us that the strength of America is found in the heart of our people. We see America's heart in the parents who won't accept addiction as the fate of their children.

And if something horrible has befallen that family, they go around and they want to make sure it never happens to another family. And that's why we thank you so much and we thank your boy. He did not die in vain.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We see it in the sons and daughters who cheer on moms and dads as they recover. We see it in the doctors and nurses who provide constant and loving care.

We see it in the heroic law enforcement officers who race into unimaginable danger. We see it in EMTs and firefighters who act so quickly to save so many lives. And we see this American heart in the men and women who fight every day to help rescue their fellow citizens from the grips of addiction.

These are the courageous souls who remind us that, for America, there is nothing beyond our reach, nothing at all, nothing.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We will defeat this crisis. We will protect our beautiful children. And we will ensure that tomorrow is better, brighter, stronger, and greater than ever before, because, as long as we have trust in our citizens, pride in our country and faith in our God, we will not fail.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Together, we will end the scourge of drug addiction in America once and for all. We will win. We will beat it. We will be tough, we will be smart, we will be kind, we will be loving. We will do whatever we have to do. But we're going to win.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the president there taking an issue head on, something he talked about from back on the campaign trail, specifically from New Hampshire, the opioid crisis in this country.

You know, we heard stories of personal loss. We heard about the problem of overprescribing these kinds of drugs. He talked about using the death penalty in some cases. And then there was a lot of talk about being tough. I love tough guys. He got political at points, talking about building that wall and sanctuary cities.

But someone who was actually just recently in West Virginia, Van Jones, over the weekend for his show, "The Van Jones Show," talking about people at the ground level on this issue in this country, you know, listening to the president and then also just coupling that with your own knowledge of this crisis and the folks you talked to over the weekend, what are you thinking now?

[15:15:00]

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm glad that somebody is trying to do something.

I was just in West Virginia. I took a delegation from South Central Los Angeles battling addiction in South Central to West Virginia to help the people who are battling addiction there. And it was the most beautiful exchange I have ever seen.

African-Americans, white, Latino, all that stuff goes out the window when you're dealing with these kind of funerals. I like what the president said about helping to hire people, giving people second chances. I like what he said about being tough on the pharmaceutical stuff. I really like the fact that the first lady gave a shout-out to Lily's Place--

BALDWIN: In West Virginia, in Huntington.

JONES: -- where they're helping these drug-addicted babies.

Oh, yes, these drug-addicted babies are being dealt helped at Lily's Place. I like that.

I'm going to tell you one thing. I met with sheriffs, I met with pastors, I met -- nobody on the ground is saying what we really need is the death penalty for drug dealers, what we really need is tougher, harsher sentences, what we really need is more mandatory minimum.

I don't know where he's getting that stuff. That is -- that is 180 degrees from what the people on the ground are saying. They're saying people need more help, more compassion, more education. Sometimes, they say they need more -- better Bible studies.

That would be higher on the list than death penalty for drug dealers. And that's the kind of stuff that becomes a poison pill for people who are on the ground and know what's going on and people who understand the drug war is a failure, and it's going to stop us from working together.

If he would take that crap out and focus on what the people on the front lines need -- they need more beds, they need more help, they need more hope, they need more jobs. Like I said, they need more Bible study. All that's on the list.

This death penalty thing is a complete nonstarter and it's divisive and it's stupid. And I think it's an offense to the people who are really trying to solve this problem.

BALDWIN: Do you think that that is part of the issue why some Democrats are hesitant on jumping on board? Because I'm with you on all of the points, you know, you rattled off, off the top.

JONES: The positives.

BALDWIN: Which would make sense for anyone -- the positives, which would make sense for anyone to get behind and support.

JONES: Yes. And that's the thing, is that they're -- funerals for people of all races, political affiliations, every region, funerals, that's common ground.

We had 47,000 people die of opioid overdoses just last year. And we talk about the opioid problem, but there's also meth, there's narcotics. We have an addiction crisis throughout the country. And it hits people of all races and all classes.

BALDWIN: Your friend Prince.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: My friend Prince died of an opioid overdose. And that's part of the reason I'm so passionate about this. I have been able to work across the aisle to try to work for Newt Gingrich and others trying to get something done.

I think we need to really come together. But when you have ideas that -- and he's bragging on countries that are killing people, like the people in the Philippines who are just shooting drug dealers in the streets, he thinks that's a good way for America.

That's not a good way for America. That's not -- nobody is expecting for that to work. The other thing too is when you look at how the death penalty gets applied, the super enhanced penalties get applied, they don't get applied to the big drug kingpins, the guy with a bazillion lawyers.

They get applied to little people who got caught up. And it's just not the way to go. I applaud the positive parts, but take the nonsense out.

BALDWIN: On the death penalty bit -- and I can't imagine anyone in the administration is saying, hey, go pull a Duterte by murdering these dealers, but who's telling him that the death penalty is a good idea?

JONES: I just -- I don't know. I don't know.

I have talked to people at the White House. There are a lot of good ideas over there. There's some good people over there who are working hard. But there's some other force that always, whenever something positive starts to happen, this other weird stuff gets creeping in here.

Here's what I would say is simply this. When you have 47,000 Americans die of something, I mean, if ISIS had killed 47,000 Americans, the entire country would stop what we were doing and we would get this thing fixed tomorrow.

If this can be a step in that direction, that's great. But leave out the ideas that nobody -- nobody is calling for that. You might find some sheriff or somebody to stand with the president and say it, but literally I was just there. I have never seen so much pain and heartbreak and so much need for help and hope as I saw in West Virginia and good people. Not one of them said the death penalty one time.

BALDWIN: Lived and worked in West Virginia for three years. I covered a lot of that. I know exactly what you're talking about. I look forward to seeing those discussions and the folks from L.A. coming into West Virginia. We will watch of course your show this weekend. Van Jones, thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Breaking news this afternoon here, President Trump has just added this man, this lawyer to his team who's been peddling conspiracy theories that the DOJ and FBI are out to frame the president. Who is this guy? We will talk about that.

Also, Facebook stock down more than 7 percent right now in response to the news that 50 million Facebook users had their private information collected and used for political gain. We will discuss what's at stake for CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:24:04]

BALDWIN: All right, we continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

More on our breaking news this afternoon, the fact that President Trump has just hired another lawyer. But this lawyer has been peddling conspiracy theories that the Department of Justice and the FBI were out to frame Trump.

We're getting this just as the very latest in the public battle lines being drawn in the Russia investigation. For the very first time, President Trump has called out the man investigating his campaign by name, launching this Twitter attack on special counsel Bob Mueller, saying -- quote -- "The Mueller probe should never have been started, in that there was no collusion and there was no crime."

He goes on: "It was based on fraudulent activities and a fake dossier paid for by crooked Hillary and the DNC and improperly used in" -- capital letters -- "FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. Witch-hunt," he ends that tweet.

And, by the way, we will throw all the tweets up, and you an he had a Twitterrific weekend here, attacking the basis of the investigation and the many players involved.

[15:25:03]

So, with me Gloria Borger, our CNN chief political analyst, and David Priess, former CIA officer and author of "The President's Book of Secrets."

Guys, welcome to both of you.

But, Gloria, on the hiring of this lawyer Joe diGenova, why is he now added to the fray?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, he's been around a long time. The president knows him from television and maybe other places.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: They think a lot about the Department of Justice and the FBI in this. But set that aside.

BALDWIN: OK.

BORGER: I think the bigger picture here is that the president, Trump.org got subpoenaed on Friday. The legal team saw a list of topics/questions.

BALDWIN: It's getting closer and closer.

BORGER: That Mueller might be asking.

I believe the president kind of freaked out by it. And he was willing to sort of stay the course, not attack Mueller, be on good manners, as his lawyers wanted him to be, as long as he thought that the investigation was going to be concluded in the near future.

BALDWIN: OK.

BORGER: I think, when these events occurred -- and this is from reporting, not just my thinking -- sources tell me that when these events occurred, the president took a look at it and said, wait a minute, this isn't going away.

And he went ballistic. And basically, now, I think what Joe diGenova adds to the team, John Dowd is still there, Jay Sekulow is still there, is a voice that can say, look, I'm also a former U.S. attorney, and we need to push back and we need to push back hard.

And that is not what John Dowd was saying. John Dowd was saying, let's just kind of go dark. Let's be even-keel here. Don't tweet against Mueller.

So I think what you're seeing is a ratcheting up perhaps of a strategy to the next level.

BALDWIN: Yes.

OK. So, David, then that plays into my next question, which is, if he's going ballistic over Twitter, he adds diGenova to this list of lawyers, what is the president's strategy in doing all of the above?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Yes, I don't know which way it's going. On the one hand, this could be a trial balloon. This could be him trying to draw out the Republicans who will say, this is going too far, we have to craft legislation or work with people like Senator Warner on crafting legislation to protect the special counsel, and seeing who's with him or who's against him.

There could be strategy here. Frankly, I'm not seeing it. I'm more with Gloria, where it's just a reaction, it's just an impulse. If anybody has a lack of impulse control, it's this president. We have seen it over and over again with statements that don't quite line up with what a reasonable strategy would say politically or judicially, and instead you're seeing him just lash out.

That seems to be what's going on here with the attack on Mueller, whom, if memory serves, he has not named before in his tweets. He's attacked it much more generally with the no collusion all-caps tweets.

BALDWIN: This goes after Mueller, name-checks him directly. And it's funny, David. You talk about maybe this brings out some Republicans.

I mean, we are now getting names of some Republicans. Yes, you have the usual suspects on some of the Sunday shows.

PRIESS: A few.

BALDWIN: A few, yes. Crucial to mention that, because Mitch McConnell MIA in any of this criticism.

But, Gloria, most recently, let me add to the Graham, Flake, Rubio, Paul Ryan statement from over the weekend. Now you have Bob Corker, Senator Bob Corker, warning of a -- quote -- "total upheaval" in the Senate if Trump tries to fire Mueller. He's calling for actually now a bill to protect Mueller and tie it to the must-pass spending bill.

And on top of that, we just heard from Orrin Hatch -- quote -- "It's the stupidest thing that Trump could do." BORGER: OK. So what do Orrin Hatch and Bob Corker have in common?

BALDWIN: They're leaving Congress.

BORGER: Yes, hello.

BALDWIN: Hello.

BORGER: A lot of these people, Flake, Corker, Hatch, they're leaving. Easy for them.

BALDWIN: So, they can -- free to speak.

BORGER: Easy for them to say.

Ryan put out a statement saying over the weekend, McConnell ought to -- I mean, Mueller ought to stay there.

BALDWIN: Mueller.

BORGER: But McConnell and other Republicans, I think they're kind of waiting. I think they're afraid.

They don't want to do anything right now. These are not profiles in courage here. And I think you're right. If you had a vote, if you did have a vote, you would know where the Republicans are. I don't think that's Trump's strategy, but it would be interesting to see how they lined up.

BALDWIN: David, what do you think about that?

PRIESS: Well, let's remind ourselves here that it's not as if the president is clear about whether there's actual guilt behind these allegations or not.

If he is actually innocent of all the things the special counsel is investigating, then I think Senator Hatch is correct, that this is the stupidest thing he can do. But let's posit for a moment that, in fact, there is something there, there's some real there there behind these investigations, in which case it is not the stupidest thing in the world for him to do to attack Mueller, to maybe put out some slight promises of pardons, because there's something worse.

BALDWIN: To discredit him publicly.

PRIESS: Right.

Yes, there would be something worse for him politically than being undermined and taking a chance with a vote in the Senate about whether this was appropriate or not. There may be something much worse out there, in which case this is not a stupid strategy at all. This would be protecting against the worst-case scenario.