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Trump Says, Republicans Need To Be Tougher On Impeachment; Trump Holds Cabinet Meeting Amid Impeachment Inquiry, Syria Move. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired October 21, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Let's see what happens there. All right, let's close our little fun there (ph). Thanks for joining us on Inside Politics. See you back here this time tomorrow.
Don't go anywhere. The president, the White House cabinet meeting, you'll get that with Brianna Keilar. She starts right now. Have a good day.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar live from Washington's CNN headquarters.
And underway right now, we begin with breaking news. President Trump is now issuing a rallying cry during his first cabinet meeting since the impeachment inquiry began. Just moments ago, he urged Republicans to stand by him and fight as backlash continues to grow within his own party, and Trump admits that impeachment looks to be inevitable.
I want to bring in Kaitlan Collins. She is live for us at the White House.
Kaitlan, there is a lot that came out of this cabinet meeting. We are right now working to turn around the tape. I should let our viewers know we're going to have that momentarily. But walk us through what you heard.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a pretty wide-ranging cabinet meeting where you saw the president there at the beginning already taking questions. We've seen these really lengthy cabinet meetings in the past, Brianna, and this is another one that seemed to go on and on, with the president really talking about his grievances there at the beginning, talking about everything from impeachment to criticism he's facing over his Syria decision, and then at the end not answering a question about the job security of his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who, of course, CNN has reported on at length, noting that right before this impeachment inquiry got kicked off, there were questions about just how long Mick Mulvaney was going to be in this job and who it is that could potentially replace him.
Now, during this cabinet meeting that the president had, he was talking about his decision to bring those troops out of Syria. And, Brianna, the president told them that he believed he made the right decision. He said he believed he knew better than the news media and the pundits who had been criticizing that move, though, of course, a lot of the fire has come from members of his own party and military experts who say the president essentially pulled this off way too abruptly while he was in there.
He also talked about impeachment, saying it was just a tactic by the Democrats. They're trying to essentially do that because they don't think they're going to be able to win in 2020. That's an argument you've seen the president make repeatedly for the last several weeks, and it's something he seems to be sticking to as this inquiry is heating up on Capitol Hill, as you're continuing to see current and former officials go and testify, even though the White House they were not going to cooperate. It's something that clearly is taking over the president.
And then, of course, one big thing was the president talking about that sudden decision, that reversal that he made over the weekend to not hold that G7 Summit, that summit of world leaders that's going to be in the United States next year at his own property, Doral in Miami, after he was facing a ton of criticism not just from people who are typically critics to the president's but even people who are typically his allies, who essentially said this was not a wise decision to be making, as he is already facing several issues on Capitol Hill with this impeachment probe.
The president still defending it, saying it would have been a good property but saying it's not going to be held there, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Kaitlan, thank you so much for walking us through that.
I want to discuss this now with J.W. Verret. He's a former adviser to the Trump pre-transition team, Julie Hirschfeld Davis with us, Congressional Editor for "The New York Times," and our Gloria Borger here with us as well.
Trump often telegraphs exactly what's going on with him, right? So the fact that he is saying to Republicans, basically, I need your support, tells us what?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It tells us that he understands that he has some problems. And we know from over the weekend when he decided that he wasn't going to host the G7 at the Doral, we know that was because Republicans were complaining about it. They were saying, there are only so many balls we can juggle for you at one time, and this is one too many. And we're going to drop this one. And so he pulled back on that.
It's very rare for him to kind of listen that way. He wouldn't ever say it was a mistake, but he did listen because he knows that they have got a lot on their plate in terms of defending him, which many are not doing, on something like Syria. And they are defending him so far on impeachment. We'll see.
KEILAR: That's right. What did you think of this? What we've heard at this cabinet meeting, I should say, we are awaiting tape of this cabinet meeting. It is something that's not broadcast live, so we actually have to do what's called turning the tape and physically the pool is in the process in the White House of doing that. As soon as we get that very soon, we're going to bring that to you.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I do think it tells you that he recognizes he has some problems here, and it's not just the fact that there was such a backlash against that decision he made about the G7 and putting it at the Doral, which a lot of Republicans felt like they just could not, and didn't really want to defend.
But it's also that, as Gloria mentioned, people have not been going out aggressively defending his conduct in the Ukraine matter. They've said he's not done anything impeachable, they've said maybe I would have worded it differently, but you do not see a lot of Republicans going out and mounting a really strong defense of, you know, this is why everything the president did was absolutely fine.
And I think that he feels that lack of willingness on the part of a lot of Republicans to go ahead and apologize for behavior that, A, many of them are not comfortable with, and B, many of them don't know where it's going to end. Because you have these depositions that keep on going, this investigation is expanding, not ending any time soon, and a lot of them feel like they don't know which shoe is going to drop. And they don't want to get out ahead of this thing.
And I think if you're Trump, you feel that and you feel very much kind of worried (ph) by that, like where are the people who are supposed to be defending me? We hear him voice that sentiment quite often, right?
KEILAR: Because with every day that we're seeing testimony on the Hill from a diplomat who was involved in this, we're getting a new headline that does not help President Trump. He's finding out in real-time as well, J.W.
So the question will be, is the president going to get that support from Republicans that he's looking for?
J.W. VERRET, FORMER ADVISER, TRUMP PRE-TRANSITION TEAM: I think today's cabinet meeting is a sign of weakness. I think he's on his back heels. He's not used to being in that position. In Washington, power is fluid and it goes to wherever power is perceived. And right now, I think, on the Hill, he's perceived as weak. There's not a lot of personal loyalty to this man. Remember, Senate Republicans have been skeptical of him since the election. It was a marriage of convenience. And that marriage is clearly, I think, coming to a close.
I think, first of all, as we get closer and closer to a point at which Senate Republicans don't have to worry about being primaried, they'll feel a lot more comfortable about speaking out, particularly as some of the leaders here, like Romney, like Senator Collins and Murkowski, continue speaking out. I think the ball is just starting to role.
KEILAR: And, J.W., I want to ask you about Mick Mulvaney, someone who you're familiar with because he did offer you a position at OMB.
VERRET: Yes. And I helped them through confirmation.
KEILAR: And you helped them through confirmation.
The president has some folks around him who have not been helpful to him, Rudy Giuliani and arguably now, Mick Mulvaney, who gave a press conference last week where he admitted that this military aid was held up in order for Ukraine to investigate Democrats. He tried to unsuccessfully walk that back this weekend. What do you think about where Mick Mulvaney and what his stature is in the White House right now and also how he's been doing, quite frankly?
VERRET: Yes. I've watched Mick. I consider him a friend. I hope he still considers me one. I helped him through confirmation, spent five hours trying to get him under the hot lights. I've seen him under pressure. He's smart, he's tough. I don't -- I have one take on last week. That is simply he was trying to protect the career political people at OMB, and he wanted to show they were under a mixed set of reasons for doing what they were doing in withholding the money.
And then he puts on his White House chief of staff hat. Part of the problem is he's wearing too many hats now. He puts on his White House chief of staff hat and he tries to defend the president, and that's impossible when you're trying to protect OMB from the president. Look, the fact is Trump is a vortex. He sucks in everyone around him. He throws off the moral compass of everyone around him.
I mean, I would say, Mick, it's not too late. It's too late for Giuliani. It's not too late for you to jump out. What are you still doing there?
KEILAR: Did you read that from Mick Mulvaney that there is some sort self-preservation that has been going on over the last few days?
BORGER: Well, I think so. And our reporting showed that he was interested in leaving before all of this occurred. And that, in fact, maybe now after this has occurred, maybe they are looking for some kind of a soft landing for him or --
DAVIS: Or maybe not such a soft landing.
BORGER: -- or maybe not such a soft landing.
KEILAR: It's rarely soft.
BORGER: But even before this, there was a sense that there was, A, some unhappiness with him at the White House, and B, he some unhappiness being there.
KEILAR: If we may, let's listen in to the tape.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If anybody has any questions, please feel free.
REPORTER: Mr. President, do you maintain a limited number of troops in Syria?
TRUMP: Excuse me?
REPORTER: Do you maintain a limited number of troops in Syria?
TRUMP: We don't think it's going to be necessary. I don't want to leave troops there. It's very dangerous for them. We had 28 troops, as it turned out. People said 50, it was 28. And you had an army on both sides of those troops. So those troops would have been wiped out. I don't think it's necessary, other than we secured the oil. It's in a little different section but we did secure the oil.
And the other region where we've been asked by Israel and Jordan to leave a small number of troops is a totally different section of Syria near Jordan and close to Israel. And that's a totally different section, that's a totally different mindset.
So we have a small group there, and we secured the oil. Other than that, there is no reason for it, in our opinion.
And, again, the Kurds are going to be watching. We're working with the Kurds. We have a good relationship with the Kurds. But we never agreed to protect the Kurds. We supported them for three and a half to four years. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.
Remembers this, when Iraq was fighting the Kurds, everybody thought we were going to fight with the Kurds. I said, well, it's a little strange that we're fighting with the Kurds when we just spent $4 trillion on Iraq and now we're going to be fighting Iraq.
So what I did is I said, we're not going to take a position. Let them fight themselves. I thought the Kurds would do very well. Everyone said, oh, the Kurds will do very well. Well, Iraq moved and the Kurds left. They didn't fight because they didn't have us to fight with them.
A lot of people are good when they fight with us. When you have $10 billion worth of airplanes shooting ten miles in front of your line, it's much easier to fight. But with that, they were a good help, but we were a great help to them too. They were fighting ISIS. They hated ISIS, so they were fighting ISIS. But we never agreed -- where is an agreement that said we have to stay in the Middle East for the rest of humanity, for the rest of civilization to protect the Kurds? We never said that.
And we have protected them. We've taken very good care of them. And I hope they're going to watch over ISIS because that's -- again, most of it is not in the safe zone, as we call it. Some places are called demilitarized zone. In the old days, we would call areas like this a demilitarized zone. And our relationship with the Kurds is good, and they're going to be safe.
And I will say this. If shooting didn't start for a couple of days, I don't think the Kurds would have moved, I don't think, frankly, you would have been able to make a very easy deal with Turkey. I think when it started for a few days, it was so nasty that when we went to Turkey and we went to the Kurds, they agreed to do things they never would have done before the shooting started. If they didn't go through two and a half days of hell, I don't think they would have done it. I think they couldn't have made a deal.
And people have been trying to make this deal for years. But we're close to making it. We'll see what happens. Again, they've been fighting for 300 years that we know of. 300 years. So why should we put our soldiers in the midst of two large groups, hundreds of thousands, potentially, of people that are fighting? I don't think so. I don't think so.
REPORTER: Mr. President, the problem you said you (INAUDIBLE). What are you talking about?
TRUMP: Well, I think the Democrats fight dirty. I think the Democrats are lousy politicians with lousy policy. They want open borders. They don't care about crime. They want sanctuary cities. They don't care about drugs. They don't care about almost anything. They don't care about USMCA. How about that? I think they're lousy politicians.
But two things they have, they're vicious and they stick together. They don't have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don't have people like that. They stick together. You never see them break off. You never see somebody go out and -- that's why I respect it so much what I watched with Will Hurd today, because he was one of the few that didn't seem to be there and yet he made a statement. He said, well, I haven't seen any complaints, whatsoever, from the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians didn't quit (ph) and they didn't tell any of our ambassadors.
This thing is all about a letter that was perfect. You never hear the letter anymore. It was all about whistleblowers. You never hear, what happened to the whistleblower? They're gone because they've been discredited. What happened to the informant? And where is the I.G.? Why didn't the I.G. read the letter, read the transcript -- he could have gotten it, I guess, I assume. I would have declassified it for him if I had to do that.
Why didn't he read this and then see that the whistleblower's account was totally different than the letter? Then he would have said, oh, there is no problem here. The whistleblower gave a false account. Now, you have to say, well, we have to protect somebody that gave a false account? These whistleblowers, they have them like they're angles, okay? So do we have to protect somebody that gave a totally false account of my conversation? I don't know. You tell me. Do we have to protect the informant?
Now, I happen to think there probably wasn't an informant. The informant went to the whistleblower. The whistleblower had second and third-hand information. You remember that. That was a big problem, but the information as wrong. So was there actually an informant? Maybe the informant was Schiff. It could be Shift Schiff. In my opinion, it's possibly Schiff.
Why didn't Schiff say that he and his staff, or his staff or why did he say that he met with the whistleblower? He knew all about the whistleblower. Why would he say? He's a crooked politician, very bad for our country. This whole thing is very bad for our country.
In the midst of that, I'm trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars too, okay? We may have to get in wars. We're better prepared than we've ever been. If Iran does something, they'll be hit like they have never been hit before. I mean, we have things that we're looking at. But can you imagine, I have to fight off these low lives, at the same time, I'm negotiating these very important things that should have been done during Obama and Bush and even before that, all right?
So that's where we are right now, actually very --
TRUMP: Go ahead, please.
REPORTER: Mr. President, will the troops from Syria come home or will they --
TRUMP: Well, they're going to be sent initially to different parts and get prepared, then, ultimately, we're bringing them home. We're bringing our troops back home. I got elected on bringing our soldiers back home.
Now, it's not very popular within the beltway because Lakid (ph) doesn't like it. And these great military companies don't like it. It's not very popular. And outside the beltway, my largest cheer in Dallas, I had 25,000 closed in that arena, a record crowd. I had so many people outside of the arena, thousands.
My largest cheer that night was two things. We're building the wall, that's number one, and number two and probably tied with number one was we're bringing our soldiers back home. That was our largest year in Dallas, great place, great state, Texas, tough state. They're tough.
When I said we're bringing our soldiers back home, the place went crazy. But within the beltway, people don't like it. It's much tougher for me. It would be much easier for me to let our soldiers be there, let them continue to die. I go out to Dover and I have to -- I meet parents and it's not a pleasant thing.
It's the most unpleasant thing I do, most unpleasant thing I do. When I see that big cargo plane open and I see those coffins get rolled off, or when I go to the Walter Reed Hospital where the doctors are incredible, by the way, saving people that who have never been saved even five years ago, you know that. But those people are horribly wounded, horribly, horribly wounded, wounded warriors. It's the toughest thing I do.
The toughest thing is sending letters. I send many letters home to parents, and I speak to parents. But I send many letters home to parents where their son or daughter has been killed over in the Middle East. For what? For what? There are times to fight, and there are times not to fight. There are times to be smart.
We have tremendous economic power and we're using our economic power, much more powerful in certain ways than playing with guns. They're much better for our country and much better for everybody. And actually much better for humanity, okay? Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
TRUMP: Doral was a very simple situation. I own a property in Florida. I was going to do it at no cost or give it free if I got a ruling, because there is a question as to whether or not you're allowed to give it because it's like a contribution to a country. I'd have to get a ruling.
But I would have given it nothing. It's a lot of money. I would have give it away, like I give away my salary. I give away my salary. It's, I guess, close to $450,000. I give it away. Nobody ever said he gives away his salary. Now it comes up because of this. But I give away my presidential salary.
They say that no other president has done it. I'm surprised, to be honest with you. They actually say that George Washington may have been the only other president to do that. But see whether or not Obama gave up his salary. See whether or not all of the other of your favorites gave up their salary. The answer is no. They say it's the only one. They think George Washington did, but they say no. So give it up. It's a lot of money, $450,000, close to it, and I give that up.
So I have a place that's in the best location. I'm very good in real estate, very, very good, much better than you even understand. When you see my financials, which I'll give at the right time, they'll say, man, he's much better than we even thought. This guy knows right here, Mnuchin, because he was in the private sector. He knows very much what I have. He would tell you. Someday maybe he'll tell you.
But I'm very good at real estate. In Miami, this facility everybody would have had their own building, everybody in the G7 would have had their own building. It was so good. Florida loved it, they love economic development. It's a beautiful place, it's new, it's been totally rebuilt. It's new.
Everything is good. We've got massive meeting rooms, unlimited for security because it's on hundreds of acres, the best location, right next to the airport, Miami International, one of the biggest airports in the world. Some people say it's the biggest, but one of the biggest airports in the world. It's only minutes away. It would have been great. But the Democrats went crazy, even though I would have done it free, save the country a lot of money. Then they said, oh, but you'll get promotion. You don't think I've got enough promotion? I got more promotion than any human being that's every lived, I think.
Again, I think, I would have that -- I think I can say fairly safe that I think I get more promotion than any human being that's ever lived, some good, some bad. The people that like me keep me on the good. The people that don't like me keep me on the bad. But that's the way life is. I don't need promotion. I don't need promotion, okay.
But I was willing to do this for free and it would have been the greatest G7 ever. And I would have said to my family, because they run my business -- I don't run my business. I actually put all the stuff in trusts. And I didn't have to do that, but under no obligation, I don't know if you know it, George Washington, he ran his business simultaneously while he was president.
Many of the presidents, there weren't too many really rich presidents, but there were a few. They ran their business. Hey, Obama made a deal for a book. Is that running a business? I'm sure he didn't even discuss it while he was president. He has a deal with Netflix. When did they start talking about that? That's only a couple of examples.
But other presidents, if you look, other presidents were wealthy, not huge wealth. George Washington was actually considered a very, very rich man at the time. But they ran their businesses. George Washington, they say, had two desks. He had a presidential desk and a business desk.
I don't think you people with this phony emoluments clause -- and, by the way, I would say that it cost me anywhere from $2 to $5 billion to be president, and that's okay, between what I lose and what I could have made. I would have made a fortune if I just ran business. I was doing it really well. I have a great business. I have the best properties.
But between what I lose, and in all fairness, some properties, Doral is an example. Doral was setting records when I bought it, because I owned it for a period of time, setting records. It was going to -- there was nothing like -- it was making a fortune. And then what happened? I announce I'm going to run for office, right?
And all of a sudden -- and I say, we got to build a wall, we've got to have borders, we've got to have this, we've got to have that. And all of a sudden, people -- some people didn't like it. They thought the rhetoric was too tough. And it went from doing great to doing fine. It does very nicely now. It's actually coming back, I understand, very strongly.
But Doral was setting records. And I knew this would happen, most of the stuff that I have, because now, instead of having 100 percent of the market that loves you and they love your brand and it's luxury and it's great, now you have 50 percent of the market. That's called politics. I fully understood that.
So it's cost me between $2 billion and $5 billion. And if I had it to do again, I would do it in an instant, because who cares? If you can afford it, what difference does it make, if I had this to do it again, because I'm making a big difference for the country. The country is stronger now than it's been in many years, maybe ever.
Our military is rebuilt, our economy is hitting records, as I said, best unemployment numbers, best employment numbers, we're strong, we're bringing our soldiers back from the endless wars, we're doing great. So whether I lost $2 billion, $5 billion, more or less, it doesn't make any difference to me. I don't care.
If you're rich, it doesn't matter. I'm doing this for the country. I'm doing it for the people that show up. I haven't had an empty seat at a rally. I always say, where's the rally? It's in a certain place. Okay, just get the biggest arena. I went into these massive basketball arenas, like in Dallas where the Mavericks play, and fill it up and set a record.
I've set a record almost every place I have been because we just need a little small stage. We don't need basketball court, ice hockey courts. And I take less than musicians because they have bands. I don't have a band. I set the world record for somebody without a guitar, okay I don't have bands, right?
So that's the story. And you know those people or the poll, and I had great polls. I had my best polls now. I think it's because people think that it's terrible what they're doing. Pelosi, Shifty Schiff, Schumer, these people are trying to destroy the country.
It's a very bad thing what they're doing. The president of the United States should be allowed to run the country, not have to focus on this kind of crap while at the same time doing a great job on Syria and Turkey and all of the other things that we do.
North Korea, okay, maybe someday. But I'll tell you what. If somebody else became president with that same mindset that they had, you would right now be in a big war with North Korea. You don't hear too much about it. It could happen. It could happen. I don't know. I always say, who knows. Who knows?
But in the meantime, North Korea is -- I like Kim, he likes me, we get along, I respect him, he respects me.
We could end up in a war. President Obama told me that. He said the biggest problem -- I don't know how to solve it. He told me he doesn't know how to solve it. I said, did you ever call him? No. Actually, he tried 11 times. But the man on the other side, the gentleman on the other side did not take his call, okay? Lack of respect, but he takes my call.
Thank you, everybody.
REPORTER: What's the plan for the G7 now?
TRUMP: We'll look at other locations. It don't think it will be as exciting. I don't think it will be as good. It would cost the country a fortune because it's very expensive. I know France had a budget of many, many millions of dollars. They just did it. They did a great job, by the way. But France had a budget of many, many millions of dollars. It's going to cost a fortune for the country.
I was willing to do it for free, but people didn't like that. They thought I may get some promotional value, I need promotional value so badly. But I don't need promotion.
Go ahead. What did you say? What else?
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) that the House will impeach --
TRUMP: On Iran, what? Say -- what? Did you mention the word, impeach?
REPORTER: Do you think that there's a (INAUDIBLE) conclusion that the House will impeach?
TRUMP: Well, I think they want to. Any Democrat wants to because they're not going to beat me in the election. So, of course, they want to impeach. Why would they want to impeach me? It's so illegitimate. It cannot be the way the founders, our great founders, meant this to be, right?
I see this guy, Congressman Al Green, say, we have to impeach him, otherwise he's going to win the election. What's that all about? But that's exactly what they're saying. We have to impeach him because otherwise he's going to win. I'm going to win the election.
Look, I have the strongest economy ever. It's the economy that's stupid (ph), right? I have the strongest economy in the history of our country, okay? I was setting records over 100 times. I think it's like 118. But over times, we've had the highest stock market in the history since November 8, over a hundred times.
And, by the way, the day I got elected, the following day from there until January 20th, the market went through the roof. Do you know why it went through the roof? Because they got rid of Obama and they got rid of Clinton. And if anybody else, if any of these people that I have been watching on the stage got elected, the 401(k)s would go down the tubes. They would go down 20 percent or 30 percent, they would go down 70, 90, 80 and destroy this country. They'd destroy the country.
So I think they want to impeach me because it's the only way they're going to win. They have got nothing. All they had was a phone call that was perfect. All they have is a whistleblower who has disappeared. Where is he? He's gone. Then they have a second whistleblower, the second whistleblower has
got -- he's got -- where is he? He disappeared. Then they have an information. Oh, the informant, where is he? They're interviewing ambassadors who I've never heard of. I don't know who these people are. I never heard of them. And I have great respect for some of them.
One of them said just recently, a very, very highly respected man -- I'm not going to get into their names. But he said, oh, no, we were very, very bothered by Joe Biden and his son. Back during the Obama administration, he said, we were very -- he's supposed to be their witness. Many of these people were put there during Obama, during Clinton, during the never Trumper Bush era. You had a never Trumper Bush. Those people might be worse than the never Trumpers.
The good news is they're dying all fast. They're on artificial respiration, I think. But impeachment, they want to impeach, and they want to do as quick as possible, and that's pretty much the story, I think.
REPORTER: And what about Republican support? Do you -- are you working behind --
TRUMP: I think I have great Republican support.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) have been alienating --
TRUMP: No, I don't think so. But you know what, look -- no. You know what? I have to do what I have to do.
I'll tell you what. I want to bring our soldiers back home. If people want to leave them there, I'll take that every day. All I know -- you were at Dallas. All I know is the place went crazy when I said we're bringing our soldiers back home. Then this little area, this very unique area, they may feel that. But I have to do what I got elected on and I have to do what I think is right.
Now, if I got elected on something and think I was wrong, I'd second guess myself, I change. But they want our soldiers back home. And I think we can do as well or better, frankly. Let them -- they've got to keep going at each other. It's artificial to have these soldiers walking up and down between two big countries.
And, by the way, I've just informed Larry Kudlow is going to say a few remarks, if you want. Would you like to stay for Larry's remarks because he's a great, great remark maker?
After that whole thing, Larry, get up and go get it. I'm sure it will be great.
KEILAR: All right. Let's take a look at this.