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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  March 26, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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starting right now on "this week" with george stephanopoulos. >> the best thing we can do politically speaking is let obamacare explode. >> devastating defeat. the candidate who campaigned on the art of the deal. >> real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing obamacare. >> fails to close on his first big promise. >> i'm disappointed because we could have had it. i'm a little surprised, to be honest with you. >> and after his own party fractures, the president blames democrats. >> i think the losers are nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, because now they own obamacare. >> now, the fallout. how deep is the damage? what will it take to get back on track? does his new presidency need a major reset? and how will trump handle
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the russian cloud? >> the fbi is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. >> we tackle all the tough questions right now. from abc news, it's "this week." here now, chief anchor george stephanopoulos. good morning. and for all of you who had a rough week, just think about how president trump must feel after the worst week of his young presidency. it began monday morning with a direct rebuke from the fbi director. by close of business friday, the body blow by his own party. in the face of certain defeat, the president chose to retreat. and in the oval office, a humble trump talked lessons learned. >> we all learned a lot. we learned a lot about loyalty. we learned a lot about the vote-getting process. we learned a lot about some very arcane rules in obviously both the senate and in the house. >> but has president trump learned the right lessons? do he and his team have what it takes to turn things around?
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all presidents lose fights in congress. before this week, no president in our lifetimes has lost his first big one. a loss that comes after a series of missteps that raise serious questions about the president's competence and credibility. this week, we're going to break down what it all means. analyze the fallout. and what's next for president trump and his agenda. the two men who led the fight against trump's bill, house freedom caucus chair mark meadows and senate minority leader chuck schumer are standing by. let's bring in our analysts first. matthew dowd. how big a blow? >> it's huge. this was the piece in political jenga. if it was removed, everything else falls down. and everything related to that. i think this is the first time we have seen in this political 20 months, donald trump suffer a public humiliation by his own party. it was demonstrated for all the bravado that he has and for all the ways he pushes stuff, he can
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be beat. once he's beat, that's a huge problem. >> alex, you supported trump during the campaign. he said, we're going to get sick of winning. >> how are we doing? >> you tell me. >> not so well. donald trump didn't recuse the republican party. he crushed the republican party. the republican party was so weak that an outsider came along and wiped it out. this is the republican party of a year ago. the one that says no to everything. the one that can't unite around anything. the one that can't inspire people to support anything positive. can't articulate its ideas. it is still there under the trump white house. so, donald trump was the fireman. he couldn't rescue the people in the burning building. but the people in the burning building are the republican party and the republican leadership. they're in trouble. >> maggie haberman, the new york times and cnn, you talked to the president. does he get what went wrong?
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>> he was keeping his focus on democrats. blaming the democrats. saying we needed democratic votes. we were losing republican votes. it's their fault. they'll come back in a year, after obamacare implodes, explodes, he used both. this is an argument his own advisers told him was not sensible. you can't blame democrats when you hold both houses of congress. and have the majority. i think he's processing this. we're seeing it over the last 24 hours. he was uncharacteristically quite -- quiet for him. . >> until this morning. >> until this morning. he's coming back punching now. his aides would like to move on to the next thing. not looking in the rearview mirror. i don't think he knows how to cope with defeat. he sounded exhausted when i spoke to him on friday. >> a very weary president trump. >> yes. >> raising serious questions for the entire republican party. >> republicans have a majority. they don't have a governing majority. this talk of now we're going to go on to tax reform. forget tax reform. how are they going to keep the
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government funded? in april, funding runs out. for the government. right now, there is not a republican coalition to turn the lights on. to keep the lights on in the federal government. they, at this point, would need help from democrats to do that. this is a crisis. and the white house knows this is a crisis. this is far beyond losing on health care. >> stand by. we're going to come back to you. but now, we're going to go to the man, the chair of the house freedom caucus, mark meadows. thank you for joining us. as i just alluded to, president trump sup and tweeting. it's about you. he said democrats are smiling in d.c. that the freedom caucus, with the help of club for growth and heritage, have saved planned parenthood and obamacare. your response? >> well, i mean, if they're applauding, they shouldn't. becauseky tell you that conversations over the last 48 hours are really about how we come together in the republican conference and try to get this
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over the finish line. the narrative that your panel is talking about, in terms of defeat, this was not a final passage. this was one bill that was going to go to the senate, get revised, and come back. if it was the final bill, that would be accurate. we're in the negotiation process. and really, george, what we're looking at here is trying to do one thing. get premiums down for all americans. and as we look at that, that remains our primary focus. >> congressman, the president says he's moving on. he's blaming you for saving planned parenthood. saving obamacare. >> well, at this particular point, i can tell you, no one has been more self-critiquing than me. i can tell you as i have locked at all of this, i said, you know, could i have spent a little bit for time, should i have spent more time with the tuesday group? more time with democrats, define some consensus. and so as we look at this today, this is not the end of the debate.
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this is like, i had one of my friends call me the other day. he said it's like saying tom brady lost at half time. we're not -- we may be in overtime. but i can tell you at the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be president trump on this. because he will deliver. he's committed to the american people. and we're committed to helping get there. >> i gotta say. i gotta say, congressman. it doesn't sound like you and the president are on the same page. he's not saying that. he's saying you saved obamacare. you saved planned parenthood. he's ready to move on. >> well, i know that he's -- he's moving on. as he looks at that, it's incumbent upon us. i can tell you we had discussions with some of the more moderate members of our conference who were prepared to vote no. and, so, really, it's incumbent upon those two groups, the conservatives and moderates to come together hopefully in the coming days to find consensus. present something to the president that certainly not only gets him 216 votes, but hopefully 235 votes. as we look at this.
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you have a long history in the white house. you know how this works to put a stake in it today would not be accurate. nor would it be the narrative that this is a great failure for the president. he's done more in 65 days than any president in modern history. let put it in real perspective where we are. >> congressman, i'm not the one putting a stake in it. the president is. he's saying he wants to move on. move on to tax reform and other issues. >> i plan to -- and i plan to help him with tax reform. i can tell you that he has his team working on tax reform right now. and in terms of government funding, i heard your panelists talk about that. there's not going to be an issue there. this is about one thing. getting premiums and making sure people are covered. making sure we fulfill our campaign promise and ultimately that's where we'll be. >> let's talk about those issues right now. you said last month on tax reform that tax reform actually depended on repealing obamacare. you said i don't see how you can
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have one without the other. do you have to repeal obamacare before you move on to tax reform, in your view? >> well, you don't have to, but it certainly makes it easier. when we look at lowering the taxes. part of the reason it was planned in this measure, it was looking at changing a baseline and assisting with the tax reform effort. but, i fully expect that what we're going to see is not only real tax reform but other measures that come along. i still believe there is a good chance, if moderates and conservatives can come together, that we repeal and replace obamacare, bring premiums down, cover more people, and yet, here we are. you're right. i have said that this does that make the tax more difficult? without a doubt. >> you say real tax reform. does that mean any tax cuts must be fully paid for? you're not going to pass tax cuts that are not matched with other revenue increases or spending cuts?
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>> you're asking a fiscal conservative. you're asking the good questions. that's where it comes down to. does it have to be what they would say revenue neutral? or do you have to have an offset? like with the border adjustment tax. i think those will be the two questions. i think there's been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts and conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset. and that's a move that we're trying to do to provide real relief and economic growth. when we start to grow the economy at 4%, 4.1%, it actually not only increases wages. it puts more money in americans' pockets each and every day. and so, tax reform and lowering taxes, you know, will create and generate more income. we're looking at those, where the fine balance is. does it have to be fully offset? my personal response is no. >> oh, that seems like a bit of a shift. how about the border adjustment tax that speaker ryan has talked about. can you support it?
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>> you know, really, right now, we haven't taken any official position on the border adjustment tax. we'll be talking to the speaker on that. we have had a number of meetings with chairman brady and others. we'll be talking to the administration, as well. on what they want to see. i know they have specific ideas. as we look to tax reform, and the big debate will be over the border adjustment tax. we're in the information-gathering mode right now. and i can tell you what most americans need and want. they need lower intrusion from the federal government in their lives. they need lower taxes so that they can take more of their paycheck home. and i know president trump and those in the gop conference are committed to making sure that that happens. >> on the government funding, you said it's not going to be a problem. senator schumer is coming up next. he said if the president includes funding for the border wall, it's a nonstarter with democrats in the senate. also has talked about, now the possibility that you would try to defund planned parenthood in the government funding initiative.
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do you need that in order to pass government funding in april? >> i think what we need from the senator schumer is really a willing partner. on this obamacare repeal and replacement, before he even saw a plan, he said he was against it. so what we need is some honest dialogue back and forth. maybe he can comment on that. to come out and say he wasn't going to help before he even saw a replacement plan really sends the wrong narrative. americans want to make sure we work. i reached out to five different democrats in terms of this repeal and replacement, said, what do you need for your district? that's what we have to do. and when we look at a supplemental -- what the president is going to find is a great flexibility with regards to the conservative and moderate members of the conference to hopefully get us where we need to be there. >> and finally, yesterday morning, the president tweeted out, told people to watch judge jeanine pirro on fox.
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and on her program last night, that he told people to watch, here's what he said. >> paul ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house. the reason? he failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill. the one trumpeted to repeal and replace obamacare. the one that he had seven years to work on. >> you heard it right there from jeanine pirro. breitbart is sug suggesting that you're one of the people at the they're looking to replace senator ryan. does he have your support? >> this is not me. there is no conversations going on right now with regards to replacing the speaker. it's all hands on deck with regards to obamacare, tax reform. the border wall. as we start to look at that, george.
quote
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here's the other interesting thing. as we start to look at this, the focus can be on this leadership or whatever. i can tell you that when this bill was rolled out, it had less than 20% support among americans. the president took it from having probably 80 to 100 undecided or no votes and got it this close to making sure that it got across the finish line. no one worked harder than the speaker and the president and those in our conference with different views to get it across. this is -- we're not at the end of the game. we're there, literally, perhaps, again, in overtime, but we're there to get this across the finish line. so we're committed to work with the president, the speaker, the current speaker, and make sure that what we do is get some consensus. >> congressman, thank you for joining us this morning. >> thank you, george. >> and i'm joined by the democratic leader in the senate, chuck schumer. senator schumer, thank you for coming. i want to get to a lot of things. >> happy greek independence day. i wore my greek colors. the parade in new york. >> right across the park right now. thank you. let's talk about the president first. he said you're the big loser.
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>> well, you know, look. the bottom line is very simple. and that is -- president never called us once about this. they came on board with repeal, which hay knew every democrat would oppose. we democrats provided our republican colleagues, drop replace and stop undermining the aca are willing to work. with our republican friends. >> right now? >> as long as they say, no more repeal. that's a loser. 17% of americans liked trump care. that's it. they didn't want it. and stop undermining aca. and we'll work with them. we have ideas. they have ideas. to try to improve obamacare. we never said it was perfect. we always said we would work with them to improve it. we said repeal was off the table. can i just make one other point on this, george? for the president to say that he'll destroy it, or undermine it, that's not presidential. that's petulance.
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being petulant, not a president. it's not going to work. the job of the president is to make americans' lives better. if he, out of anger, vengeance, whatever, starts undermining aca, it's going to backfire on him. because he's the president and the american people know he's in charge and they want him to make things better. >> congressman meadows says the repeal effort is not dead. >> well, it won't succeed. and there's one point we're missing here. the american people hated trump care. the more they learned about it, the more they didn't like. and you know, not only did we have a totally unified democratic caucus from bernie sanders to joe manchin, i want to salute all the people out there. the average people, who called, wrote, picketed, protested, if they keep on this repeal path, they'll get nowhere. if they want to do what mr. meadows does, then all the moderates will jump off. it's -- they have seven kids in the bed. they have enough covers for five. they ought to get rid of repeal.
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drop it. it's been a flop for them because of the substance of repeal. and work with us to improve it. >> one of the things that unites republicans is tax cuts. i think we heard big news. from chairman meadows saying, tax reform doesn't mean you have to pay for all of your tax cuts. >> if you analyze what went wrong with aca, the president exhibited two traits not very helpful. if he repeats them in tax reform, they'll get nowhere. the first is basic lack of competence. you cannot run the presidency like you run a real estate deal. you can't tweet your way through it. you can't threaten and intimidate and say i'll walk away. it's more complicated. but even more to the point. the president campaigned as a populist against the democratic and republican establishments. he's been captured by the hard right wealthy special interests. that's who loved his proposal on the trump care. because it gave huge tax cuts to the rich. if they do the same thing on tax reform and the overwhelming
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majority of the cuts go to the very wealthy, special interests, corporate america and the middle class and poor people are left out, they'll lose again. >> you're not working with the president on tax reform. >> america is not where the hard right is. if he aims a proposal aimed at the middle class, the poor people, doesn't give breaks to the rich. they're doing great. god bless them. they don't need another tax break. they're headed in that direction. they're going the repeat the same mistake on trump care and tax reform. the hard right is great at opposition. now they're in charge. america is not where the hard right is. >> i was struck by something former speaker of the house newt gingrich said. the president should put off tax reform and work right away, particularly with democrats, on a major infrastructure bill. would you be open to that? >> it's a question of values. infrastructure is something that we democrats have put in a proposal. $1 trillion of infrastructure.
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it creates 15 million new, good-paying jobs. we like it. here's where the president seems to be headed again. special interests. wealthy special interests. let's do it by tax breaks. the tax breaks he's proposing, 82 cents on the dollar goes to the financiers. that's one problem. so you're not getting bang for the buck. two, in the places where those tax breaks will work, you're getting huge tolls. the american people don't want tolls on every highway. and third, it will build nothing in rural america and large parts of urban america because it just can't pay those tolls. if they want to spend some money, meadows would be vehemently opposed. he would have to break with the hard right and his caucus, we'll talk to him for sure. >> the president is going to try to get together with tax reform and other issues. a lot of people look at this and say, the president hasn't been a republican all that long. he had voted for democrats in the past. the way to govern on the big
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issues would be to go on a completely didn't path, a different direction, and work with democrats. it doesn't sound like you're ready to be a real partner there. >> no, it's not me. it's him. he ran as a populist. against the democratic and republican establishments. he ran as a defender of the middle class. the minute he got into office, maybe led by vice president pence and some of the others, he moved so far to the hard right that it's virtually impossible for us to work with him. if he changes, he'll have a different presidency. he has to tell the freedom caucus and the hard right special interests who are dominating his presidency. he didn't campaign for them. he campaigned on the opposite. he's going to have to tell them he can't work with them. it will be guided on our values. we're not going to oppose things because the name trump is on it. we're not going to compromise our values away and help the well to do and hurt the middle class and the poorer people. that's what he's been doing so far. >> government runs out of money i believe on april 28th.
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you can filibuster a government funding proposal. are you prepared to shut down the government? >> no. we don't want to shut down the government. we proposed to leader mcconnell the same thing that worked last year. three things. no sequester levels of funding. i think they've agreed to that already, both he and speaker ryan. two, parity between defense and nondefense. >> the president wants a defense increase. >> and slashes the things that affect the middle class the most. and three, no poison pill riders like planned parenthood. that worked last year. we got a budget. if president trump would stay out of it, because his budget, done by mulvaney is so far to the right. slashing things like clean air, clean water, education, transportation. no, we can't work. but left alone, mcconnell, ryan, and the democrats could come to an agreement. >> the president's defense increases have to be off the table? >> no, they don't have to be off the table. but you can't slash domestic programs. >> what about the border wall?
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>> the border wall should be talked about. not rammed down people's throats. it's not the best way to protect the border. everyone agrees on that. second, it's very expensive. why don't we use that money for roads? third, let's give the president a chance to get mexico to pay it. isn't that what he told everybody? that we were not going to pay it. fourth, it's got a big problem that republicans on the border states are opposing. texas, arizona. because there's imminent domain. instead of trying to jam it through on this short-term budget and saying take it or leave it, we should debate it in 2018's budget over the summer. and, by the way. my prediction, it wouldn't get the votes on the the democratic or republican side. >> judge neil gorsuch, they've made it clear he'll go through. it's all clear that he's qualified. even your senator, joe manchinhas said, he'll get the vote.
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why not get an up or down vote? >> well, 60 votes should be the standard. for something as important as the supreme court, 60 votes makes sense. you get bipartisan support. you avoid judges far right or far left. and each of the four last judges, two by president bush, alito and roberts, two by president obama, kagan and sotomayor, met that 60-vote standard. the bottom line is when we democrats had a chance to change the rules, we didn't change it for supreme court for that very reason. i would say to my republican friends and to the country, if you don't think the candidate can get -- if the candidate can't get 60 votes, the nominee can't get 60 votes, you don't change the rules. you change the candidate. one final point. mitch mcconnell has -- it's in his hands whether to change the rules. not ours. he doesn't come to this court with clean hands. he delayed merrick garland for a year, year and a half. if they want to change the rules, it would be bad for the country, bad for the congress. we didn't do it.
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it would be their loss. a lot of republicans don't want to change the rules. i'm not so sure it's a given. >> you said it would be unseemly to approve judge gorsuch as long as the fbi investigation is going on into the russian interference in the election. that could take years. >> we didn't say years. we said months. this is a very important appointment. lifetime. affects america in huge ways. judge roberts came on the court. now justice roberts. citizens united. dramatically changed america. taking away voting rights changed america. trying to get rid of unions. let's see for a few months where this investigation goes. it's up to our republican colleagues. i hope they'll accept that investigation. if the investigation looks like it's nowhere, fine. if not, then we ought to consider what i said. >> thank you for coming in. >> nice to be here, george. later, the long time trump adviser under scrutiny, roger stone is our guest.
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don't undo things just because i did them. i don't have pride of authorship. i said today in a forum on health care, if the republicans can come up with a system that insures more people, cheaper, better, i will be the first one -- >> i can tell by your smile, you don't think they can do it. >> well, i'm skeptical that they can do it mainly because for seven years now, including when we first tried to pass it, i said, okay, if this doesn't work, tell me what does? >> is obamacare going to survive? >> i think it will. let's talk about with our "roundtable." and let me go first to matt dowd.
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the chair of the tree dom caucus says obamacare repeal is not dead. i think that is unlikely. it seems this brand-new coalition with democrats is in the card listening to chuck schumer. >> to me, we're in a very difficult time with these huge problems facing the country and two political parties that can't govern at all. if the course of this. i think the democrats, first, would be very smart to call the president's bluff. they said, here's the bill to fix obamacare. are you going to support it or not? basically, in many ways, you can't support it. >> it seemed on that that schumer was willing to go there assuming the repeal was dead. >> i don't think this will change. donald trump would have to become somebody he's not, right? he would have to become somebody that the american public would now support. the majority of the country doesn't support him. >> or become somebody who he was. he's been all over the map. at one point, he supported single parent health --
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>> he would have to become a different person. the problem with most of the democrats now, 90% of the democrats dislike him and will not support him no matter what he does. and the second problem in this is that he just can't move this ball anymore. this is not a thing he can do with a lack of support of his own party. and now the democrats. >> picking up on what you were saying. fixing problems, you have to first confront them. accept them. it seems like the president is in a bit of denial amid big questions about his confidence. which you saw senator schumer raise. and his credibility. >> look, he came into office with, i think, some people willing to work with him. you remember that first day when he was inaugurated. it was very schmoozy with the senator who just departed, with nancy pelosi. that evaporated quickly. both because of his own actions and because the democratic base was not in the mood to compromise in any way. the president doesn't quite realize that in politics and in governing, you can't just wave a wand and everything we said yesterday goes away. which he's very used to doing. he's used to making his own weather, for a
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lack of a better way of putting it. he's used to a consequence-free environment. he's stuck. everyone i have spoken to in the white house over the last two days was in wait and see mode. what it's like tomorrow when everybody returns to washington. and what mood congress is in. >> alex, put yourself in the white house. you're in the oval office. >> go on. >> you're hearing -- >> do i have to? >> what would you tell the president to do tomorrow morning? >> i think he needs an agenda. he can't wait for a divided republican party in the house and the senate to provide an agenda. >> so he's got to write the tax bill? >> he's got to put together a tax bill. it's got to be a tax bill that the entire party can support. tax cuts. something that actually produces growth. and it can't be the old language. he has to say, look, either we're going to open this economy for growth or not. we're going to grow washington's economy, or your local economy. your economy. america's economy. we're going to open it up, get rid of old, outdated regulations that are limiting your life and opportunity or we're going to
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let the political artificial washington dealmaking, let that be your future. >> i listened to that. >> if he can go there -- that's not who donald trump has been. we just saw it here. the guy who knew the policy couldn't inspire people to support it. ryan. the guy who could inspire people to support the policy, didn't really understand it. that was donald trump. >> the problem for donald trump is his success wasn't driven by policies. it was driven by personality. the majority of the country now doesn't like his personality. and congress now, and his own party, has taken on that personality and beat him. >> it was also deeper on obamacare. they didn't like that bill. it was a huge tax cut for the wealthy. it was going to be paid for by older, working class people. listening to alex. listening to congressman meadows. we're not talking about tax reform anymore. we're talking tax cuts. >> well, the idea of tax reform is you basically have the net tax rate stay the same.
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you lower it, you lower the rate, but you close loopholes. the amount coming in is the same. when you're saying is true. meadows said, we'll just have another big tax cut. look what it does to the debt, the deficit. this was a candidate, donald trump, who said he was going to not only balance the budget but pay off the department. that's obviously impossible. the idea of a big tax giveaway -- >> trump could sell this. we're not going to reduce this debt by choking the economy. first thing we have to do is produce growth. the way to do that is to open up the economy. that requires two things. limiting political artificial regulations from washington. and two putting more money in people's pockets to grow the economy. growth first. growth first could sell tax cuts. >> what are you agreeing on? >> i don't think he can sell that. i think he can't sell that in part because he's not a details-oriented person, particularly when it comes to policy. he's spoken in broad purple hues. when you get to the
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nitty-gritty, he doesn't really always sound like he's that familiar with it. >> he's good at brand. he's good at branding things and people. build that wall. make mexico pay for it. lying ted. >> but alex -- >> no appetite. there's no appetite in america right now for tax cuts for the wealthy. there's an appetite in america for building infrastructure. >> people for opening up the economy. >> if it's contingent on tax cuts for the wealthy, that won't happen. >> meadows may have been there. but that tree dom caucus was all about controlling spending. balancing the budget. these were the guys that didn't want to raise the debt ceiling. i think the more interesting question is, what does he do in the short run? does he enact political revenge? for those who defied him. >> we're told steve bannon wants an enemies list. >> he's not the only one. >> it wouldn't be hard to compile one. freedom caucus. someone like an alex mooney. congressman from the second
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district in west virginia. this is a district that trump took by 75%. this is coal country. a place where trump is more popular than the congressman. is he going to support a primary -- >> that district is the one that i have heard mentioned most frequently over the last few days by trump advisers. they're advocating, we're not going to go after everybody but that we should pick a couple of targets. >> what does it get them? >> not much. >> i agree. when they have a supreme court nominee who they need to have approved. they have a budget issue coming up in a month. where they have major issues ahead of them. they also are aware that there has to be in their minds, again, i'm not saying there's a great answer either way. but in their minds, they have to demonstrate there's a political price for going against the president. >> if donald trump wants to find his number one enemy, he should buy a mirror. >> that's the last word. thank you all very much. after the stunning hearing on russian interference, we're going to talk to one of the trump associates under investigation. roger stone is next. investigation. ronler stone is next.
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in a speech that he's communicated with assange. that more documents would do coming. including an october surprise. in the middle of august, he corresponds with a russian cutout, goose-ifer 2. denying links to russian intelligence. later in august, stone does something truly remarkable when he predicts that john podesta's personal e-mails will soon be published. trust me, he says, it will soon be podesta's time in the barrel. >> a top official raising questions about russian interference in last year's campaign. we're joined by the man he was talking about. political strategist roger stone who has written a new book. "the making of the president, 2016." thank you for joining us this morning. i know you volunteered to appear and answer the questions at the house intelligence committee. have they accepted your offer? have you asked for or received
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any type of immunity in exchange for testifying? >> they have only confirmed they received our offer to testify voluntarily and i have requested that that be in a public section. session, because -- the three things that the gentleman from california, who is largely full of schiff, has said are incorrect. i never made any reference to john podesta's e-mail. there were a dozen stories about his business dealings. >> you said trust my, it will soon be podesta's time in the barrel. that was your tweet. >> correct, but does it say #wikileak #wikileaks? #assange. he said, stone predicted his e-mails would be hacked. i never said anything of the kind. >> we know there's an active fbi investigation. have you been contacted by the fbi, you or your lawyers. any requests for an interview or
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information? >> i have not. i think you refer to the surveillance that i'm under that was referred to on page 1 of the "new york times" on january 20th. this is on the basis of no probable cause. and no evidence whatsoever. the communication he referred to with assange is through a mutual friend, an intermediary. as it were. i did not admit it. i announced it. secondarily, as i have said, the reference to podesta is general, not specific. and, by the way, he does have his time in the barrel shortly thereafter. this is a scandal in search of evidence. >> you have admitted communications with this goose-ifer 2. what exactly did you discuss? did you use encrypted apps to communicate with goose-ifer? >> no. in fact, the inference that my communication -- actually my exchange which is entirely on twitter, public and private, in
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which i have now made entirely public, con tie -- constitutes collusion with the russians is absurd. number one, i don't concede that goose-ifer is a russian agent. >> our intelligence officials believe he was. >> i understand. they also said there was no -- that hussein had weapons of mass destruction. just because the intelligence services say something, as we know from history, does not make it true. >> you're confident these investigations will turn up no information that contradicts your account? >> let's finish with goose-ifer. my communication is now entirely public. it's benign. not exactly 007 stuff. secondarily, the timing of my communication is after, not before, i write a story for breitbart regarding the hacking. and i never defend him from not being a russian agent in that piece. as mr. schiff says i don't even mention it. it's not in the piece.
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because i was unaware of that charge at the time i wrote it. so, again -- >> you're a long-time friend and business partner of paul manafort who has also volunteered to appear before the committee. he's part of the investigation. you recommended donald trump hire him during the campaign. are you confident he did nothing wrong here? >> i have been a friend of paul's for i don't know, almost 50 years. we go back to young republicans together. he has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. i choose to take him at his word. i reiterate again. i have had no contacts or collusions with the russians. in my exchange with goose-ifer 2, based on the content and the timing, most certainly does not constitute collusion. my brief exchange with him is six weeks after the hacking of the -- and publication of the dnc documents which i'm accused of colluding with him on.
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in other words, i would need a time machine to collude. >> here's what sean spicer said. in the white house briefing room. >> i heard names thrown around before that were hangers onners on the campaign. mr. stone is somebody the president has known for a long time. he played a role early on in his campaign. but ended that role in august of 2015. i don't know at all when the last time they spoke was. >> let me bring that question to you. i was struck by an article in "politico" this morning, talking about the president's long-time assistant, rona graff. you were quoted as saying if you want to speak to the president, you go through rona. when was the last time you spoke with him? >> i have made it my policy not to disclose or discuss my conversations with the president. they happen from time to time. it has been awhile now. but i remain a steadfast supporter of donald trump. i think he has the potential to be one of our greatest presidents. perhaps greater than ronald reagan. even given this health care setback, it's a setback. not a defeat.
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i would point out to you that the courts and the congress thwarted franklin roosevelt throughout his first term. he failed, he got back up, tried something else. >> chairman nunes said he's under a big cloud. how does president trump get out from under it? >> let's have the testimony, george. in other words, you have a bunch of congressmen that i think have defamed me. i saw demagoguery, fear-mongering, red-baiting. and half truths. in many cases, just flat out lies. in america, we're supposed to have chance to see the evidence against us, and face our accusers. i'm very anxious to do that. if mr. page and mr. manafort do the same thing, frankly, i think the whole russian meme, which really starts as a clinton campaign press release, is finally put to bed. there is no collusion. none that i know about. in donald trump's campaign for president.
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>> we'll be watching the hearings. we'll watch for your testimony. mr. stone, thank you for joining us this morning. >> george, thank you for having me here and giving me a chance to tell my side of things. up next, epa administrator scott pruitt. scott pruitt. we are preparing new executive action to save our coal industry.
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scott pruitt, a kentucky native, will turn the epa environmental -- will turn the epa from a job killer into a job creator. you watch. >> the president in kentucky previewing the new executive order he'll sign this week to relax regulations on power plants. his latest move to undo president obama's environmental initiatives. which have included a review of fuel efficiency standards for cars and a relaxation of water regulations. we're joined by the man he's put in charge of the effort, the head of the epa, scott pruitt. mr. pruitt, thank you for joining us this morning. >> george, good morning. >> is the executive order coming this week? what will the president be proposing? >> george, the president is keeping his promise to the american people. this week. with respect to the executive order coming down on tuesday. the energy independence executive order. and as you indicated, this is about making sure we have a pro-growth and
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pro-environment approach. for too long, we have accepted a narrative that if you're pro-growth, pro-jobs, you're anti-environment. if you're pro environment, you're ant jobs or anti-growth. that's not where we have been as a country. we have made tremendous choices on our environment. the executive order will address the past administration's efforts to kill jobs throughout the country. through the clean power plant. >> this order is likely to face legal challenges. could take some time to work through the courts. as you know, coal jobs have been declining for a long time. we heard the president's promise. most of the job loss predates the obama initiative. i want to put up a chart a. the biggest drops came over a decade ago. you have about the same number of coal jobs now as you did a decade ago. are you worried that the president is making a promise to coal country that he just can't keep? >> it's not just the short term, george. it's the long term. and it's clear that the past administration had a very anti-fossil fuel strategy.
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coal, natural gas, and the rest. so this is a promise he's keeping to the american people. he's saying we can put people back to work and be pro-environment as well. this clean power plant is something hat the supreme court has likely said is unlawful. there's been a stay against it. our action starting on tuesday, shortly after the executive order, will make sure whatever steps we take in the future will be pro-growth, pro-environment. within the framework of the clean air act. it will be legal. >> but will it bring back coal jobs? >> i think absolutely it will. it will bring back manufacturing jobs, coal jobs across the country. across the energy sector, we have so much opportunity. the last administration wanted to keep it in the ground. we need to be more independent. less reliant upon foreign energy sources. this is an opportunity. this past week, the president approved the keystone pipeline. it's transportation issues. it's development issues. it's putting people back to work both in the energy sector and
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the jobs it creates in the manufacturing sector and across the economy. >> if the president follows through on this and the order to reverse vehicle pollution rules, there is no way to stay with the paris climate agreement reached in 2015. here's how one nobel prize-winning expert described the impact. the message they, the trump administration is sending to the rest of the world is that they don't believe climate change is serious. it's shocking to see such a degree of ignorance from the united states. your response? >> george, we're actually at pre1994 levels right now with respect to our co 2 footprint. why is that? largely because of innovation and technology in the coal sector and the natural gas sector. horizontal drilling has allowed a conversion to natural gas to electricity. not just jobs will be created. it's lower electricity rates for consumers. when you take coal generation facilities, natural gas facilities, and put them aside,
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and focus only on certain types of ways to generate electricity, it's causing double-digit increases across the country. as it relates to the consumers. it's not good on the consumer and manufacturing side. >> i was asking about the paris climate agreement. don't these initiatives mean the agreement is a dead letter as for as this administration is concerned? >> the paris accord is something, as you know, that's nonbinding. it was not a treaty, as such. the clean power plan is not tethered to the paris accords. this is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in and do it right going forward. with the mind set of being pro-growth and pro-environment. >> can we achieve the agreement of the paris climate agreement? can we achieve those commitments. >> let me finish. >> go ahead. >> since 1980, a 65% reduction in those plu tapts that we regulate under ambient air
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quality standards. we have done great work as a country striking the balance between jobs and our environment. the past administration took steps that were anti-jobs and anti-growth. >> the california acted this week to tighten fuel standards. going in the opposite direction from what president trump is proposing. a headline from yesterday's "new york times." do you intend to let california's actions stand or move to take away their waiver under the clean air act? >> what we should be doing. you mentioned the cafe standards. the last week and half, the president and i were in detroit announcing we were going to keep our word as a country to re-evaluate those in april 2018. which was the origin that will promise to the auto industry. we ought to focus on fuel efficiency for cars people want to buy. this process of building cars that no one purchases in order to meet these standards that were previously set is counterhelpful. to the environment. >> but would you let california
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go forward? >> people don't buy the new cars. they keep older cars. we'll be evaluating that through april of 2018. what this cafe standards combined with the clean power plant and the executive order sends a message to the american people that we're going to do what we can to produce jobs and growth and be sensitive to the environment and reintroduce common sense into the discussion. you mentioned the paris accord. what was wrong with paris was not just that it was failed to be treated as a treaty. but china and india got away scot-free. the largest producers of co-2 internationally. they didn't have to take steps until 2030. we penalized ourselves through lost jobs while china and india didn't take steps to address the issue internationally. paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation. but, we're trying to focus on getting things right here domestically. operating within the frame work of the clean air act. >> thank you for your time this morning. >> thank you, george. we'll be back after this from our abc sta
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that is all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news" tonight and "gma" tomorrow morning. "gma" tomorrow morning.
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