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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Speaks at Cabinet Meeting; Senators Call for Franken's Resignation. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For businesses brings back probably in excess of $4 trillion. As you know, we've been saying $2.5 trillion for years. Well, that number's greatly expanded. And we'll be bringing back in excess of $4 trillion. It will be put to work in our country. There will be a lot of jobs being brought back with that money. Right now that money is being spent overseas. It's not going to be spent overseas anymore.

The House and Senate are now negotiating the fine bill. And I cannot wait to sign these giant tax cuts and reforms. I mention tax cuts, but it's also reforms. But I'm looking forward to signing it. It will be the largest tax cuts by far in the history of our country.

We'll be bringing the business tax from 35 all the way down to 20. At 35, it's the highest in the industrialized world. At 20 we're on the very low side. So we'll be very competitive.

You look at China, it's 15 percent. Other countries they're 18 percent. Some are 23, 24 percent. The average is actually of the primary competitors is actually 23 percent. So we'll be pretty much below the average. And we'll be able to compete.

And despite all of that and despite -- before we even get the -- this massive injection, we have a stock market that has hit record highs 81 times since our election victory. Eighty-one times. It's at a new high right now. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. Very shortly it's going to be at a 19-year low. We think the numbers are going to continue to go down and we're also getting into the pool of the 100 million people that are not working. That pool is now coming back, as you know. That's not considered in the low employment numbers, which means we have a lot of people that want to get to work and that will be working.

Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high. We've created nearly 2 million jobs. Think of that, 2 million jobs since Election Day. That's based on consumer confidence. That's based on enthusiasm. Every enthusiasm poll, especially for business enthusiasm and job enthusiasm, is at an all-time high.

That's why companies are coming back into our country. They're opening up new plants. You -- most of you have written about Toyota came back in. We have many car companies coming back in. They're going to Michigan. They're going to Ohio. They're going to the states where they want to be. They can go anywhere they want. South Carolina. North Carolina. But they're going all over our country. They're coming back in.

We had many years where we had no new plants. We only had closures. Now we have openings. And that means a lot of jobs.

But to get it going the way I really want, where we have GDP getting up to 4, 5, and even 6 percent because I think that's possible, if you look back in your notes you'll say, when I said 4 percent, people said that would be years. Well, it's turned out that I'm right because without the hurricanes, this last quarter we would have hit 4 percent. At 3.3 percent, which was adjusted previously, this is far beyond what anybody thought we would be at.

So we're at 3.3 percent GDP. I see no reason why we don't go to 4, 5 and even 6 percent. And I don't want to go beyond that because then I'll be criticized if we don't hit it.

But every time we go up one point, just so you understand, one point means $2.5 trillion, means 10 million jobs. So one point in GDP is an incredible statement. $2.5 trillion for each point, 10 million jobs for each point. And I think we're going to be going up a lot of points.

So in order to really keep it going the way I want and the way we all want around this table, we have to get past our taxes. I call it the mixer. It's in conference right now, but I call it the mixer. I think when it comes out, it's going to be a beautiful mix. There are things that I like better in the Senate bill. There are things that I like better in the House bill. I think when they come out, we'll have some new additions and we'll have the best of each. I think we're going to have a fantastic tax bill.

There are very, very few people that aren't benefiting by it, but there's that tiny little sliver and we're going to try and take care of even that very small group of people that just, through circumstances, maybe don't get the full benefit of what we're doing. But the middle class gets a tremendous benefit and business, which is jobs, gets a tremendous benefit.

We'll be giving the cabinet today an update on national security and strategy. We'll also receive briefings on the latest developments in the tax cut negotiations and Administrator McMahon, who's done a fantastic job at Small Business Administration -- where's Linda? Linda did a really fantastic job, is helping small businesses in record numbers.

[12:05:10] And they've needed help really because of the hurricanes. The hurricanes were devastating. As I said, GDP, if we didn't have the hurricanes, we would have just about 4 this last, but we had, as you probably know and probably everybody remembers, we had five really bad ones. And we have a lot of businesses that have been severely hurt. And Linda McMahon's done an incredible job in helping those businesses out through the small business.

So, thank you so much, Linda.

So we're in a great period in this country because jobs are coming back. Unemployment is low. Business has never been stronger. But we have a military that we have to build. I want to thank General Mattis for doing such a great job with respect to ISIS. He's knocked the hell out of them. Of course I've made it possible with what I've let you do, I think.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: Wouldn't you say?

MATTIS: Absolutely.

TRUMP: But he has done a fantastic job. He and the military have done a fantastic job with ISIS. They're essentially knocked out of Syria, knocked out of Iraq. That's the good news. The bad news, they go all over the place. And I'll tell you where we don't want them, we don't want them here. We don't want them in our country. Tell them to stay wherever the hell they are. We don't want them coming back into our country. They do go back into some countries. We don't' want them going into our country. So we're watching that closely.

So I'd like to wish everyone a really great season. I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.

And I will tell you that we have a big announcement coming up at 1:00. Perhaps a couple of you will be there. Maybe not. But it's a big announcement. It's an announcement concerning Israel and the Palestinians and the Middle East. And I think it's long overdue.

Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn't do it. Whether it's through courage or they changed their mind, I can't tell you. But a lot of people have said we have to do something and they didn't do it. So we'll be talking about that something at 1:00. And I look forward to seeing you then.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(CROSS TALK)

TRUMP: Thank you.

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, what will the decision do? How will it help the peace process?

TRUMP: We'll talk about it in a little while.

QUESTION: Do you still have confidence in Robert Mueller, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Are we going to have a shutdown? Are we going to have a shutdown, Mr. President?

TRUMP: It could happen. The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous to our country. They are looking at shutting down. They want to have illegal immigrants, in many cases people that we don't want in our country, they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime. We don't want to have that. We want to have a great, beautiful, crime-free country.

And we want people coming into our country. But we want them to come on our basis. And that's why we're being so careful with our process and our screening. And, as you know, we had a tremendous victory the other day in the Supreme Court with the ban. Got quite a bit of attention. Probably not as much attention as it deserved. But we had tremendous -- that was a tremendous victory for this country. That was not a victory for me, it was a victory for our country.

So the Democrats maybe will want to shut down the country because they want people flowing into our country. And I want people coming into our country, but I want to vet those people. And I want to vet them very carefully because we don't want to have radical Islamic terrorism in this country and we don't want to have crime in this country.

You look at what just happened in San Francisco. That was a disgrace. And, as you know, the federal government just got involved and did a great thing because they're going to take that at least to the next step. They did a great thing by getting involved.

So, thank you very much. I'll see you all at 1:00.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: And you were just watching President Trump meeting with his cabinet, making remarks.

Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash.

We want to get straight to the breaking news from Capitol Hill. Now, eight Democratic senators are calling for their colleague, Al Franken, to resign. This has been kind of a slow roll in the past half an hour or so.

First, it was six female Democratic senators. You see them on the screen. And then Bob Casey of Pennsylvania just literally moments ago came out and said that it is time for their colleague, Al Franken, to resign. All, of course, because of multiple allegations of sexual harassment by the Minnesota senator over the past several weeks.

[12:10:02] The senators we are talking about who have now called on their colleague to resign. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill, Mazie Hirono, Maggie Hassan, Patty Murray, Kamala Harris, Tammy Baldwin and, again, now, as I said, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

I want to get straight to the table, to our reporters, to share their insights in reporting on what is going on. "Bloomberg's" Sahil Kapur, Julie Pace from "The Associated Press," "Politico's" Eliana Johnson and Matt Viser from "The Boston Globe."

And literally as I was saying your names, another Democratic senator, another male Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, came out and said it is time for his colleague, Al Franken to resign. It kind of -- I mean remarkable in a lot of ways, but let's just start with the substance of what these women and now women and men in the Senate are saying. First from Patty Murray, who, I mean, all of it is significant and it's most significant in the way that they are doing it because they are doing it in bulk. They're doing it together.

But the top ranking woman in the United States Senate, Patty Murray, she's the third ranking Democrat in leadership, she said, I'm shocked and appalled by Senator Franken's behavior. It is clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It is time for him to step aside.

Kirsten Gillibrand was the first who put out her press release and went through a very long explanation about a moment of reckoning for friends and colleagues and that this is something that they have to do in order to make sure that it -- someone else should serve, that, in her words, doesn't mistreat women.

Julie, thoughts?

JULIE PACE, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": Well, this, of course, comes on the heels of another allegation against Al Franken this morning. And it feels as though the pressure had just grown to the point where these Democratic women -- I think it's notable that the first seven or so that we heard from were Democratic women -- felt like this was just unsustainable and they couldn't stand by as these allegations just continued to drip out.

I think it's interesting we've not heard from Chuck Schumer yet, the Democratic leader. I think there's going to be a lot of attention and certainly a lot of pressure now that so many of his colleagues and again so many female Democratic senators have come out and taken this step.

Putting it in the broader context of what we've seen over the last two months, I was struck this morning in looking at the "Time" magazine cover, it's only been two months since the Harvey Weinstein allegations. The speed at which this has all come together, it feels like Capitol Hill is kind of catching up now to where private industry has been, but certainly doesn't -- I don't see a way for Al Franken to continue in office at this point.

BASH: It's hard to imagine. You mention the "Time" magazine cover. The -- "Time" magazine announced their "Person of the Year." I think we have it. We can put it up. It wasn't just a person, it was people, as they sometimes do. Silence breakers. There you see those who came out and broke their silence about sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, particularly in Hollywood there, but across -- across the board. And you're absolutely right, this is the Congress catching up to that.

I should also say that Senator Franken has admitted to some of the claims against him. This new one this morning he has said is not true.

Let's also just kind of take a step back and look at the way that these -- let's just focus on the women right now. Seven out of -- there are 16 Democratic women in the Senate. Seven so far have come out. And they did it as a sisterhood. Now it's a sister and brotherhood.

What does that tell you? Obviously it was very, very carefully coordinated and choreographed. It was statement, statement, statement, statement. As I said, it was a slow roll.

ELIANA JOHNSON, "POLITICO": Well, I was going to say, it's pretty clear that these Democratic women talked to each other beforehand and had pretty carefully choreographed that. And I think it speaks to the fact, or the importance, of having not just a couple of women, but a critical mass of women in order to get this sort of thing rolling.

We saw the difficulty of -- that Nancy Pelosi had in the House calling on John Conyers to resign. That was a very slow moving thing. And I think that this started yesterday. At Politico we had a women rule summit yesterday and Kirsten Gillibrand, on stage, visibly in tears talking about this. And she really said, I hate being asked to distinguish grope from a grasp from a rape. And I think women in Congress were simply tired of being asked to distinguish one gross and untoward thing from another and wanted to begin speaking out about this.

And I also think, from a purely political standpoint, having the RNC and the president go all-in essentially for Roy Moore, it really does give Democrats an opportunity, even though they've been slow and mishandled them in their own right, to draw a pretty stark contrast with the position that the Republican Party and the president are in right now.

[12:15:05] BASH: You're exactly right. Remember, it was just yesterday that John Conyers, the dean of the House, somebody who has been there for decades, who was a very big player in the civil rights movement, but also did settle. So he said he didn't really do it, but he definitely did settle on at least one allegation of sexual harassment. And, obviously, there were many, many others. It did take the Democratic leadership awhile to kind of get it and figure out that they needed to pressure him to do what he did yesterday.

And at the beginning of this reckoning on Capitol Hill, it was oddly the opposite. You first heard Mitch McConnell, just a few weeks ago, three weeks ago, when Roy Moore's allegations came out, said, I believe the women. Now, you have the reverse and you have McConnell saying Alabama voters are going to do what they do. And, more importantly, you do have the RNC and you have the president of the United States going full-in on a candidate who has these allegations, multiple allegations, against him of sexual misconduct, even child molestation.

MATT VISER, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Yes. And I also -- I am struck, as you've alluded to, that it's sort of drum beat and the choreographed nature of these statements coming out. They seem designed not only to make a statement that what Al Franken did was wrong, but it seems designed to force him to resign. I mean it's a pro-active move rather than just reacting to the news.

BASH: No question. VISER: And I think that is the striking nature of this where you're seeing so many Democrats, which does change the calculus and draws the contrast -- you know, we shouldn't get so political about this, but it does draw the contrast that I think Democrats want here right now in --

BASH: But I think it is political. I mean, look, you can't ignore the politics here. You're right, that the Democrats saw the backlash. The understandable backlash against them for not -- for being very slow to never mind John Conyers in the House, but even to do what they're doing now on Al Franken and you're seeing them trying to make up for that.

I should say, as you were talking, and I think this is probably going to happen throughout the hour, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, also added his voice saying that Al Franken should resign.

Your thoughts?

SAHIL KAPUR, "BLOOMBERG": This is Democrats trying to reclaim the moral high ground after, you know, a lot of ambiguity and hedging at first when these allegations came out against Senator Franken, against Mr. Conyers, who has now resigned. I think the idea that Franken had admitted to some of the wrongdoing he's done in the past and said he would cooperate with the Ethics Committee signals to some Democrats that --

JOHNSON: I don't even think he's admitted it, too. I mean I don't think that saying I'm a warm person is an admission that you, you know, squeezed somebody in an inappropriate place. So I didn't take his apologies as admissions.

KAPUR: Fair enough. It was different than Conyers and Roy Moore and various others who have been completely defiant.

BASH: Absolutely.

KAPUR: And I think there was some hope among Democrats that maybe this would come to fruition. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I think this shows in all the allegations and all the resignations recently shows the extent to which this issue has no ideological partisan, professional, regional, any tribal boundaries, generational boundaries of any kind. This is a product of centuries of men setting up a culture where they can abuse, where they can take advantage of women. And I think this is society coming to grips with gender equality and all of its radical implications.

JOHNSON: And we had somebody say at our -- at the "Politico" event yesterday that it's really a sad time when the only bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill is that members of both parties are sexual harassers.

BASH: Yes, that is -- that is sad.

VISER: But I think also that this moment is where the tribalism is breaking down, where you have Democrats calling on a Democrat to resign. Because up until now you have had people in their own tribes --

BASH: Yes.

VISER: Not willing to believe something that is impacting their own party, but calling on the opposite party to take action. So I think this is a significant development.

KAPUR: And Republicans are moving in the other direction with Roy Moore.

VISER: Yes.

BASH: Yes.

KAPUR: You see the RNC jumping back in to help him. Senator McConnell is not out front the way he was initially in calling on him to resign. President Trump has full-throatily endorsed him. This is a real divergence for --

PACE: President Trump will be on the Alabama border carefully avoiding going into the state on Friday, but is going to be in Pensacola. That event is almost certainly going to turn into something akin to a Roy Moore rally. And that has to make Republican leaders, even the ones that are supporting the RNC going back in, just cringe. This is not the context they want to be in this week.

BASH: Let me just read, since this is a fast moving story, let me read for you all and also our viewers what Tom Perez, the DNC chair, said. He said, Senator Al Franken should step down. He said everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace. And that includes our party.

Now, I should say, we haven't heard from the leader in the U.S. Senate, the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. I would imagine it's only a matter of time that we hear from him if we don't hear, frankly, from Al Franken first, which might be even more likely.

[12:20:05] Before we go to break, I just want to also mention that there are 21 women in the United States Senate. Now 16, as I mentioned, are Democrats. Can you imagine this reckoning happening even with the cultural reckoning in and around Congress but happening without 21 women in the Senate?

PACE: No.

BASH: Still only 21 percent of the Senate, but it's more than they've had.

PACE: Absolutely not. I think the fact that the women came out first today and really set the tone, Kristin Gillibrand, who has made military sexual assault but increasingly sexual assault more broadly a real passion project for her, it is hard to imagine, as sad as it is, that we would be in this position if it weren't for having those women on Capitol Hill.

KAPUR: And I think Senator Gillibrand has talked about harassment she faced herself in the Senate, saying that --

BASH: Yes. She wrote about it in her book.

KAPUR: Right. It's notable that she became the first woman to come out in this regard. I don't think that's a coincidence.

BASH: No. Me either.

All right, everybody stand by.

We're going to have a lot more to talk about on this breaking news, on what we expect from the president. In fact, you need to stay here on CNN for the president's announcement. It will be at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Wolf Blitzer will anchor our special coverage. We're going to talk a lot more about it after the break. And by it, I mean his announcement about Jerusalem and the U.S. embassy in Israel.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:24] BASH: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

We are following the breaking news, the fast-moving breaking news. Ten U.S. senators, ten Democratic senators, are now calling on their Democratic colleague, Al Franken, to resign from the Senate because of allegations of sexual misconduct. The first senator, the first in a group of six female at least at the beginning, was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She just, moments ago, was speaking at a press conference and addressed this topic. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Senator Franken is entitled to the Senate Ethics investigation process. But I don't think Congress is equipped. I don't think they have the tools to do the kind of accountability that the American people are searching for.

And as a mom who has to explain this to my children, as somebody who has to set an example for what this country should be tolerating and not tolerating, it's not equipped to do that. And so, yes, of course, he is entitled to that process. But I think it would be better for the country for him to offer that clear message that he values women, that we value women, and that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Again, that was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaking moments ago on Capitol Hill about her call for her Democratic colleague, Al Franken, to resign. And, again, she is one of ten Democratic senators, plus the DNC chair.

I thought what she said about the Senate Ethics Committee is interesting because, for the past couple of weeks that has been kind of the go-to. It's like F1 on the computer for the Democratic staff. Oh, let's wait till the Senate Ethics Committee figures out what they're doing.

But a lot of people, even a lot of Democrats I talked to said, that's a copout.

VISER: And her saying it's not equipped to handle this. Julie referenced this earlier, but Gillibrand being at the forefront of trying to change the military and how it handles allegations like this.

BASH: Yes.

VISER: You know, it's a powerful message that we -- we can't deal with this. And so Senator Franken needs to, you know, do the right thing and resign. I mean it's -- it's striking. And it's a different development. And, like you said, it's been a copout a lot of Democrats have pointed to before.

PACE: And she's right. I mean one thing that has been revealed on Capitol Hill through this process is that the -- that Congress is not equipped to deal with these kind of allegations.

BASH: Not at all.

PACE: The process for staffers to come forward and report when they think that there has been misconduct is incredibly arcane, is incredibly slow. So it is -- it makes sense that people have not felt compelled to come forward before then. It felt like there hasn't been an outlet for them to tell their stories and there hasn't been an outlet for accountability.

BASH: Yes.

PACE: I think the question for lawmakers is, can they move forward and change that process in a fast enough way to make it look like they really do take this seriously.

BASH: And you mentioned something really important, which is the process which, when they put it together, they thought it was so, you know, current and ahead of the time in the '90s to at least put a process in place. But it turns out that now it is -- looks -- it looks incredibly antiquated and very unfair to the victim because it is very hush hush. You have to go through several processes even to get to the point where you can face the person you're alleging has sexually harassed you. And then, when you settle, you have to sign an NDA, a nondisclosure agreement, so you can never talk about it apparently even with your therapist, which is nuts.

PACE: Incredible.

BASH: Absolutely nuts. That is in the process of changing thanks to Democrats like Gillibrand and others. But it hasn't changed now and it is now up to the Senate Ethics Committee. And the Senate Ethics Committee doesn't run on the same time frame as raw politics.

JOHNSON: I think what essentially we heard Gillibrand say is that we need a clean slate with this stuff going forward. That the people who have been accused essentially need to resign so that there's nobody in the Democratic conference who is understand any sort of scrutiny in this regard. And we've got to wait until there's a new process in place and where members of Congress who are accused are really and truly publicly accountable for this behavior.

And the idea that there was taxpayer money being paid out and no accountability or transparency --

BASH: That too (ph).

JOHNSON: For those payouts is seriously problematic. And I think that female members of Congress really want to press the reset button on all of this going forward.

[12:29:55] BASH: So my CNN colleague, MJ Lee, who has been doing some tremendous reporting on this issue from Capitol Hill, just caught up with the Democratic senator from California, Kamala Harris, who is one of those who came out this morning saying that her colleague, Al Franken, should resign. Let's listen to what she said.