tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN February 27, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
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at the top of this hour of 360, the ax man cometh. more on this from gjim acosta. >> reporter: president trump's message to washington, get ready for the budget ax. >> we're going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people. >> reporter: officials say the president plans to ask for a staggering $54 billion increase
in defense spending, offset for cuts in non-defense programs, including foreign aid. it eclipses what the federal government spends at the state department and epa. >> we are taking his words and turning them into policies and dollars. >> reporter: the peak of the president's budget comes as the white house is still grappling with questions about the trump campaign's contacts with russians. over the weekend, darrell issa supported a special prosecutor may be necessary to put the matter to rest. >> you're right that you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, jeff sessions, who was on the campaign and who was an appointee. you're going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute. >> reporter: the white house response to that -- >> i guess my question would be a special prosecutor for what? how many people have to say there's nothing there before you realize there's nothing there? >> reporter: spicer also defended the white house decision to enlist the gop chairman committee and the cia
director to talk to reporters about the russia controversy. >> all we've sought to do is to actually get an accurate report out. >> reporter: devon nunez was careful to say he's yet to see any proof of wrongdoing. >> we still have not seen any evidence of anyone from the trump campaign or any other campaign for that matter that's communicated with the russian government. >> reporter: when asked about the prospect of a special prosecutor, the president gave this curious reply. that's odd, concerning the president just spoke to russian president putin just a few weeks ago. not to mention his own trip in 2013 for his ms. universe pageant. >> do you have a relationship or anything that you feel that you have sway or influence over his government? >> i do have a relationship. and i can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today. he's probably very interested in what you and i are saying today, and i'm sure he's going to be seeing it in some form, but i do
have a relationship with him, and i think it's very interesting to see what's happened. >> do we know what president trump is expected to say in tomorrow's speech? >> reporter: we have some hints, anderson. senior officials were briefing reporters earlier this evening at the white house. they said the president and his team are still finalizing the speech at this point, but consider the theme of the address. it's going to be called renewal of the american spirit, an optimistic vision for all americans, contrast that with the president's talk of american carnage in his inauguration address. perhaps they're taking some of those criticisms to heart that the inaugural address was too dark in tone. and they also say that the president's address is going to be focussed i have heavily on national security issues and economic opportunity for all americans in those forgotten corners of the country. and also what we're going to be hearing from the president tomorrow night he is going to be talking about keeping campaign
promises. whether you like his being in office or don't like it, it's hard to argue with the fact that he's keeping his promises. jeff zeleny has more. >> reporter: the job of white house press secretary sean spicer increasingly includes being president trump's enforcer. >> we get our job -- >> reporter: he's leading a crackdown on leaks inside the white house, going as far as taking staffer's phones during an emergency meeting last week to see if they were sharing information by text or e-mail or using encrypted apps to do so. the white house counsel's office authorized these chex and president trump directly signed off on the move, eager to send a signal that he is furious at leaks during his first five wooe weeks in office. spicer also had the president's
blessing from blocking reporters from several news organizations from a white house news briefing. >> i'm not going to discuss what we did internally. >> reporter: he would not directly say whether he asked the director of the cia to help push back on news reports about alleged contacts between the trump campaign and russian intelligence operatives. >> i think it's interesting that i'm being asked what's appropriate when what we're doing is urging reporters to engage with subject matter experts who can corroborate whether or not something's accurate or not. >> reporter: but the white house did enlist the chairman of the house and senate intelligence committees to talk to reporters. >> i think we did our job very effectively. it was about the accuracy of the reporting and the claims that were made in there. >> reporter: the extraordinary moves have added tension to a ar combustible environment in the west wing. from the moment he stepped into the briefing room on the second day of trump's presidency, spicer has been a height
anythi -- lightning rod. >> this was the largest audience to witness an inauguration period. >> reporter: he soon became the subject of "saturday night live." >> they were blowing away my dishonesty. >> reporter: he's become one of the leading faces of the trump white house, which can be tricky terrain, serving under a president who has long amanaged his own press. >> there's no question they have gotten the attention of people in the white house and across the administration about cracking down on leaks. but sean spicer telling me this evening it was actually his decision. he said the president did not sign off on this. we are told differently. all the sources have said the president is intent on cracking town on the down on these, but, as you know, the meeting on leaks actually leaked. so i think they have work to do. >> thank you.
jen psaki's back. jen, you and i talked to the last hour. targeting your own staff like this, have you ever heard of anything like this? han do and does it work? >> well, no, it's not normal. i think it's probably something demoralizing to staff, no doubt about that. it's not something i was ever a part of, but i think there's a larger objective, anderson, and that's to distract from discussion and coverage of the russia story, the russia investigations and the connections reportedly, between senior officials that are close to president trump and the russian government. >> so you think leaking the story about the leaks is actually an attempt to distract? >> that's correct. i think it's part of the continued effort by the trump administration to distract from the more problematic story, which is the ongoing investigation into the connections with russia that are problematic, and you've heard
republicans and democrats speak out about and even in the last 24 hours. >> ari, do you think there's any truth to that machiavellian maneuver, and do you think cracking down on leaks or asking to see employees' phones actually works? >> well, i'm with jen on 4/5 of what she said. it's demoralizing, it's something i never went think, and it's a sign the white house is serious about cracking down on leaks, but it has nothing to do with russia. it has everything to do with this white house being frustrated by the number of leaks that have taken place. i can understand why there's frustration. there was a planning meeting to go through future events. sean was in the meeting. information got out right after the meeting, so it directly resulted from his frustration and should have been a closed meeting. i'll tell you. the reason people don't leak in a white house is because everybody gets along well, and everybody's got their back. and if people are leaking so much in this white house, it's because there are factions, and
that's really the cause of these leaks. >> so it's what? it's to curry favor? it's to kind of show your faction in the best possible light or cast doubts on other factions? >> it's typically because people are jockeying. you need to do it my way. no, you need to do it my way. and because the process isn't smooth enough yet, the process is sound, i know i got a fair hearing, so i accept the result win or lose. that's what leads to no leaks. when you have a situation where people are jockeying for position and they are rival positions, and they feel like they're not given a fair listening to, that typically is what makes people go outside the system and leak to the press, because they're frus rated. >> jen, does that sound to you like a reasonable explanation of what's going on? this does seem to be a white house with a lot of different camps. >> yeah, i think the difference that you see in this white house
that's different from what i experienced as part of the obama team and probably what ari and many of the bush team experienced is that we were a family. you know, we could, you could punch your own brother or sister aunties th and tease them, but you didn't want other people to. but what has struck me is a lot of the leaks that we've sigeen e pretty malicious, about who's up and down. one, they're not putting policy proposals forward, so there's lot a lot of other things to talk about. so it also strikes me as a different tone and kind of leaks from past white houses. >> if there are leaks also coming from top people in a staff, i imagine, then, people lower down also feel, well, if the, if the people, you know, running the show are doing this, it's fine if i do it too. >> that's exactly right. george w. bush had the luxury of
watching his father's administration where there were a lot of leakers. then he hired a staff that was much more team-oriented. and jen's right about that. we had each other's backs. we were a family. i was very proud to watch staffers clash with each other to get their position to the president and not a word ever got out. and that's served the president well, so he could hear unvarnished opinions from two different factions in an oval office, yet nobody turned on anybody because it served the president well. i was very proud to be part of an operation like that. i hope the trump people get there, because it's going to make the day a much easier day. it's much harder if you are worried that the people you're working with are going to leak to somebody outside. you never want a white house that runs like that. >> it's never the press people who are leaking. because it's against their own interests, too. so that would be a surprising turn of events. >> jen psaki, thank you. ari fleischer.
we'll be back with both of you. i want to get jen psaki's take on massive cuts proposed. plus, the president says nobody knew health care could be so complicated. his efforts at changing it so far, we'll be right back. ion. companies across the state are growing the economy, with the help of the lowest taxes in decades, a talented workforce, and world-class innovations. like in plattsburgh, where the most advanced transportation is already en route. and in corning, where the future is materializing. let us help grow your company's tomorrow - today at esd.ny.gov anyone ever have occasional constipation,diarrhea, gas or bloating? she does. she does. help defend against those digestive issues. take phillips' colon health probiotic caps daily with three types of good bacteria. 400 likes? wow! try phillips' colon health.
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will be substantial. more on all of that from michelle kosinski. >> reporter: today the director of the office of management and budget spelled out generally what would be slashed from the state department's budget. >> there's going to be a lot of programs, that, again, you can expect to see what the president said he was going to do. foreign aid, the president said we're going to spend less money overseas apomor overseas and more of it here. >> reporter: reuters quotes officials as saying it would be a whopping 30% cut. employees are already calling it devastating. >> the savings in our budget will come from looking at outdated and duplicative programs. it will be rational and tough. >> reporter: to offset the $54 billion increase in defense spending bill, even if the administration removed all aid the u.s. gives other countries, which in 2015 was more than $27
billion, foreign assistance is still less than 1% of the total u.s. budget. the state department's entire budget for 2017 was not even $54 billion. >> you see these reductions, you'll be able to tie it back to a speech the president gave or something the president said previously, we are taking his words and turning them into policies and dollars. >> reporter: the state department's many programs include development, democracy, education, disease prevention, climate change, helping women. and today more than 100 retired top u.s. military officials spanning multiple administrations, including john allen, david petraeus, and michael hayden wrote a letter to congress, stating their strong conviction that elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping america safe, even quoting the current defense secretary james mattis
on capitol hill back in 2013. >> you don't fund the state department fully, then i need to buy more ammunition ultimately. so i think it's a cost benefit ratio. the more that we put into the state department's diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget. >> reporter: the generals and admirals ending their letter with now is not the time to retreat. >> michelle, congress ultimately is going to have to approve what the president proposes. is that likely given those numbers? >> reporter: some republicans on the hill say they don't want to respond to this until they see detailed numbers. what came out today was a very preliminary blueprint. you could say there aren't too many people on either side of the aisle who wouldn't want to see the government function for efficiently and bring down the waste. but there are plenty who see state department programs as enormously important for national security. i was the former defense
secretary of robert gates who was a republican who said development programs contribute to stability and could eliminate the need for u.s. soldiers to go in a bad situation town the road. as he put it, development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers. >> back now with jen psaki who once served as state department spokesperson and jeffrey lord. i've been in afghanistan many times out with marines. a lot of what they're doing is development work, going to villages, meeting with elders. it's work that the state department was supposed to be doing and never got around to it, the level it was supposed to happen in afghanistan. and since you hear general mattis say if you don't have diplomats, you got to buy more ammunition. >> secretary gates used to make the statement when he was with president obama and president bush that one of the lessons learned is that we couldn't win it all with military might. and we're not fighting world war ii anymore.
we're fighting different wars with a much more different enemies who are diffuse around the battlefield. and we need to do a lot more with working with countries, address needs on the ground. these are pivotal programs that you saw retired members of the military say would be devastating to the war donald trump says he wants to win. >> ronald reagan never cut the state department funding as i recall. >> when military folks make the argument for the state department as opposed to the diplomats making it for themselves, that carries more weight i think with the president. but number two, the budget director's job is frankly terrible. and no matter what administration you're in, but particularly if you're in a republican administration, where you're talking about bloated government and waste, fraud and abuse, et cetera, there is enormous pressure on this push to be mack the knife and cut out and go as fast and deep as he can. and there will always be
bureaucratic resistance in there. you have people so devoted to their programs way down in the bowels of the housing and urban development program. so this is the perpetual battle. and this is what we're going to see mplay out here. >> george w. bush ran against the whole idea of nation building and ends up nation building in afghanistan and iraq, and a lot of that ends up being done by the military, because it's so dangerous, and they're not really, you know, e ideally, that's not what they're supposed to be doing. >> this is where general mattis can have a serious effect. this is a few with serious experience, he can give an excellent point. view on this. >> there are a lot of voters who voted for donald trump, and a lot of americans saying why are we giving all this money to countries overseas who are not our friends and are not voting with us in the u.n. we have problems here at home, we're giving a lot of money
overseas. >> that's an argument that's been around for a long time. the problem with the budget is it's a 10% increase for the department of defense. you'd be hard press to find somebody who doesn't think that the department of defense doesn't have enough funding. >> john mccain said it tonight. general hurtling, they say the equipment's not up to date. >> does that require a 10% insdplees that's why you have to cut all these other programs. i think there's always going to be opposition, nobody cares about foreign aid. that's something when i was at the state department we worked hard to change, but it's complicated, and it's hard to explain to people it's about the security of our diplomats. >> it's a political hard sell. >> even though it's 1%. >> i can't tell you how many conversations over the decades i've had with regular folks. that's one of the first things that they zero in on. why are we giving our money to -- fill in the blank here,
when it's better spent on bridges, roads or whatever here. >> ahead, overhauling obamacare. was president trump able to be convinced on a replacement plan? you have access to in-depth analysis, level 2 data, and a team of experienced traders ready to help you if you need it. ♪ ♪ it's like having the power of a trading floor, wherever you are. ♪ ♪ it's your trade. e*trade ♪ ♪ it can seem like triggers pop up everywhere. luckily there's powerful, 24-hour, non-drowsy claritin. it provides relief of symptoms that can be triggered by over 200 different allergens. live claritin clear.
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week six of the trump presidency is beginning with a laser focus on repealing obamacare. the president met with key st k stakeholders in the debate. phil mattingly has more. >> nobody knew that health care could be so complicated. >> reporter: tonight president trump ramping up his pledge to undo and replace the cornerstone achievement of his predecessor. >> obamacare is a failed disaster. >> reporter: meeting speaker paul ryan and mitch mcconnell behind closed doors to map a path forward. >> this is a rescue mission. we have to step in and prevent obamacare from getting worse, from collapsing, and we will replace it with a law that's better. >> reporter: and huddling with
insurance executives in the white house. >> if things aren't working out, i'm blaming you anyway. >> reporter: shortly after a sit down with republican governors. insurance executives are uneasy about an unstable marketplace. gop governors increasingly split over how to handle medicaid reform in any new proposal. >> if nothing happens, problems happen for people in this country and in our states. >> reporter: those meetings a precursor to trump's prime time speech to a joint session of congress tomorrow night. aides tell cnn, a robust call to repeal and replace the law will be a central poenant component remarks. house republicans have their own repeal proposal they plan to release as soon as next week. it was recently leaked, showing it would replace obamacare subsidies with tax credits.
increase the amount insurers could charge older americans and likely cost some their policies all together. >> i predict the discord in their party will grow, as republicans turn to washington after this last week of angry town halls. i believe the odds are very high. we will keep the aca. it will not be repealed. >> reporter: this as obamacare is consistently polling better than ever, something trump sought to play down today. >> there's nothing to love. it's a disaster, folks. >> reporter: but the number reflect a pressure on gop officials that is only growing, something clear in the town halls they faced just last week. >> reporter: and anderson, the town hall outcry really adding to the urgency right now for republican leaders. there's a recognition that they need to move quickly. the window is closing, and this is exactly why they need the president's support on their specifics now. if they don't move quickly, there's a recognition that their
members could start disbursing, could start leaving them right now. they're already seeing one. mark meadows, the chairman of the house freedom caucus already saying he would be opposed to the leaked draft of the repeal bill that we saw last week. if they start losing members en masse, this whole process collapses. that is exactly what republican leaders are trying to avoid and exactly why they want president trump tomorrow night to be very explicit in his support for their path forward. anderson? >> joining us now, senior political reporter and political commentator, ryan lizza. trump saying, quote, nobody knew health care could be so complicated. >> he's the only person to ever utter those words. >> everyone knew this was complicated. it's almost he can be forgiven for thinking it was simple, because the approach to health
care from the republican's point of view is repeal and replace, it's a bumper sticker, it sounds so easy. he adopted that approach. he said you could repeal and replace it on the same day, swap it out. but the tentacles of health care so embedded in the economy. and obamacare is the system. and we see all the time -- >> he said about terrorism. it's a number, yeah. >> even when he's reading about obamacare, it's almost like he's learning the information for the mi first time. >> i want to play something president trump said back on the campaign trail in october before he became president. let's watch. >> my first day in congreoffice going to ask congress to put a bill on my desk replacing this disastrous law. you're going to have such great
health care at a tiny fraction of the cost, and it's going to be so easy. >> it's clearly, and to be fair, a lot of politicians say one thing when they're campaigning, when they're in office it's a whole other thing, but it's clearly not so easy. >> it's not easy. if we could all have great health care at a fraction of the cost, i think someone would have thought that out and had it before now. so the obama administration spent a lot of money, raised taxes and insured a lot of people. it insured tens of millions of people. if you're going to dismantle that, someone is going to lose. they're getting to the nitty gritty. if we get rid of obamacare, what are the tradeoffs? who's going to lose health care? who's going to pay more for health care? who's going to pay less? so he's finally grappling with that in a way he never did.
>> and then what political price the president would pay if he doesn't follow through on campaign promises or if whatever the republicans come up with fails. >> is just as bad as what they say obamacare is now. we see some of that already playing out in these town halls and republicans dismiss that as angry liberals or act vests. i spoke to some people in iowa, real hard core republicans, they want to see this move forward really quickly in terms of making good on the president's promises. they all know there's some sort of price to pay. democrats have said there's no such thing as obamacare it's essentially trump care. >> that's what they would like. >> that's ha thwhat they would voters to think. >> if he can't do it, he does have an escape hatch if he wants to push it, if the right would let him. he can make some minor fixes to obamacare, call it trump care and move on.
>> we've been reporting tonight on leaks coming out of the white house. the president actually talked to fox news this afternoon about it. they just released that portion of the interview. we're seeing it for the first time. let's play hthat. >> can we talk about president obama? you said you personally get along with him. you guys were going at each other for three, four, eight year. it terms out a lot of his people are organizing, do you think he is behind it? >> no, i think he is behind it. i also think it's politics. that's the way it is. >> bush wasn't going after clinton, clinton wasn't going after bush. >> well, you never know exactly what's happening behind the scenes. you're possibly right but you never know. but i think president obama's behind it, because his people are certainly behind it. and some of the leaks possibly come from that group. you know, some of the leaks,
which are really very serious leaks, because they're very bad in terms of national security, but i also understand that's politics. and in terms of him being behind things, that's politics, and it will probably continue. >> interesting to hear president trump basically blaming obama holdovers for some leaks, which, you know, have come, i guess he's talking about leaks which aren't coming from the white house, which there are some of those. >> the hidden hand of obama. and you will hear this theory for a while, in terms of blaming leaks out of the intelligence community. i mean, in some ways, it borders on paranoia. >> yeah. he was sort of pushed into agreeing with the idea that obama was behind the protests, which i haven't really seen much evidence of that. on the leaks of intelligence, if you read the stories carefully, there's no doubt that a lot of the sourcing on some of the more blockbuster stories do say, according to current and former administration officials.
so just reading between the lines, there's no doubt that some of that information is coming from officials of the previous administration, which is exactly what you would assume, because those are the people who knew about this. >> president obama pulling the strings, that's unclear, but people -- >> i doubt it very much. the former cia director, brennan was on tv on sunday and people have accused him of leaking and he says he has not had any conversations with any reporters about this. but there's no doubt that there are current and former officials that are talking to reporters. just ahead, the father of navy s.e.a.l. ryan owens is speaking out. he refused to meet president trump at dover air force base, details on that ahead. fees? what did you have in mind? i don't know. $6.95 per trade? uhhh- and i was wondering if your brokerage offers some sort of guarantee?
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ryan owens, a navy s.e.a.l. the raid had been in the planning stages for months under the obama administration. over the weekend, owen's father went public with his criticism. he wants answers as to why his son died. >> reporter: 36i year old ryan owens was the only u.s. service member killed when a group of s.e.a.l.s. attacked an area in yemen. as many as two dozen civilians or more were killed, including an 8-year-old girl. several other service members were also injured. days later, during ryan owens' dignified transfer back to the united states, president trump extended heartfelt condolences to his family. >> he died in defense of our nation. he gave his life in defense of our people. our debt to him and our debt to his family is eternal and
everlasting. >> reporter: but ryan's father, bill, has revealed that he refused to meet the president at dover, saying to the miami herald, quote, i told them i didn't want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn't let mow talk to him. owenss goes on to say that he believes the white house is hiding behind his son's death. while the administration claimed the raid was a success, some lawmakers, including republican senator john mccain quickly criticized the operation. >> when you lose a $75 million airplane and more importantly, an american life is lost and wounded i don't believe that you can call it a success. >> the action that was taken in yemen was a huge success. american lives will be saved because of it. future attacks will be prevented. the life of ryan owens was given in service to his country, and we owe him and his family a great debt for the information we received during that raid. i think any suggestion otherwise
is a disservice to his courageous life and the actions that he took, false stop. >> reporter: but bill owens, who did not vote for mr. trump tells the miami herald, the white house owes him an explanation, quote, i'd like some answers about all the things that happened in the timeline that led up to it. i now what the timeline is, and it bothers me a lot. he also questions whether the raid was politically motivated, as it came just one day after the president announced a travel ban on seven muslim majority countries, including yemen. why at this time do there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn't barely a week into the administration? why, for two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in yemen. everything was missiles and drones, because there was not a target worth one american life. now all of a sudden we had to make this grand display? >> and press secretary sean spicer was asked about theis
today, what did he say? >> reporter: he was asked about the miami herald article. he said he couldn't imagine what bill owens is going through, but then he went on to defend the decision for going and conducting that raid. >> he made a sacrifice for this country, he was on his 12th deployment. and i now that his wife, when she spoke to the president knows that he did this because he loved it, he cared about our nation, and the mission was successful in helping prevent a future attack or attacks on this nation. it obtained a lot of information that will help us keep safe. >> reporter: now to be clear, anderson, there is an investigation into the death of ryan owens, but whether it digs deeper into some of the political implications that bill owens is making about the raid has yet to be seen. >> thanks very much. up next, former president george w. bush breaking his silence on president trump.
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well, a moment ago you saw a video. president trump was asked, in fact it looked like he was sort of pressed into violating the unspoken rule of the current president speaking ill of the previous one. mr. bush weighed in for the first time on president trump, he covered a lot of topics tied to the new white house when he
spoke to the "today" show. he also praised the senate intelligence committee chairman, a republican who's leading the probe. take a look. >> i think we all need answers. whether or not this special prosecutor's the right way to go tonight, you're talking to the wrong guy. i have great faith in really good guy. and an independent thinker, if he were to recommend a special prosecutor, i would be -- then i'd -- it would have a lot more credibility with me. i never have been a lawyer, you know, i'm not sure the right avenue to take. i am sure that question needs to be answered. >> a lot to discuss. ari fleischer is back, joining us as well. ari, obviously knowing president bush like you do, were you
surprised at how candid he was? >> no, he is candid. let me say this, i didn't speak to the president today so i'm not speaking for him. i know how he thinks. but i think it's fair to say, when you ask him a direct question, he gives you a direct answer. and when the question is dealing with russian interference in our election, that chafes george bush. he doesn't like the idea that russia could interfere in our election. he wants our country to know everything we can know about that. >> president obama was clearly thankful for the position he took. one month into the trump presidency, he's already speaking out. >> right, in his own kind of way, i think he was throwing shade a little bit. more than directly criticizing donald trump. it's no secret he and his family were not supporters of donald
trump, he went to the inauguration, and he's been gracious. i think there are certain things that matter to george w. bush. ari knows this better than anybody. talk about the muslim ban, this is -- what the trump people would not call a muslim ban, this is a man who went, right after 9/11 to a mosque, to say that this does not represent islam, this is a per vision of islam. and so i think russia as ari points out, very important to him. and so i think that there's a kind of a moral temperament there, that is true george w. bush. >> ari, do you agree with that? >> well, i do -- you know, the part about the mosque and what president bush did do on september 16th, george w. bush is beyond that. he doesn't need to compare himself to barack obama or compare himself to donald trump.
he recognizes times changed, it's their role now to do as they see fit, they're the president. he accepts, just as a given that because he did something one way does not mean his successors must do it that way, i think that's how he -- why he is so differential. that's why he respects their right to govern as they see fit now and he's not going to criticize. >> the fact of the matter is, the bushes are on far better terms i assume it seems with president obama than they are with president trump. the way candidate trump treated jeb bush in the primaries. i can't imagine that would soon be forgotten? >> there's no doubt about that, and bush 43 just adores michelle obama. they developed a great friendship. i think what's happening is, george w. bush is comfortable in his own skin, i was a co organizer of a c-span poll, i noticed president's day came
out, george w. bush got an upward tick. gosh, compared to donald trump george w. bush looks good, but also because he's handled his ex-presidency with great dignity. painting, and only talking seldom. today it was with his buddy matt lauer, they're very good friends. i think he spoke to the heart defending first amendment rights. i don't like the games trump's playing with putin, he didn't say it forcefully, but the words were there. >> he's not going out of his way to give a speech criticizing donald trump. he's on a book tour, because of his artwork, and he knows he's going to be asked these questions. i know the bush -- former president bush spoke in a way that a lot of republicans will be happy to hear. >> i want to play what former president bush said when asked about the media.
>> i consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. power can be very addictive and corrosive, it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power. whether it be here or elsewhere. one of the things i spent a lot of time doing, was trying to convince vladimir putin to accept the notion of an independent press. >> it's really interesting, obviously, when he was president i'm sure there was tons of stuff that the media did that he didn't like. that you didn't like. to hear him make this full throated defense of the media. >> this is what you have as a luxury of a former president. they would say, there's a lot of information out there that is wrong or biassed.
when you're a former president, you stick to the good stuff. >> especially when you're on a book tour. >> you could add that to it too. >> i think -- look, for donald trump. the question is, could donald trump make that same statement? a piece of me says, donald trump would make that statement and preface it, and say he would lash out at the press too. talk about fake news. if they do their job right, they're indispensable. i don't think that was a shot at donald trump, as much as it was george bush making his statement clear. i was in those meetings with president putin in several instances and he did press president putin about it. that is important to him. >> i want to thank everybody, we'll be back in a moment. starn as little as 30 minutes and contains the best oral decongestant. live claritin clear, with claritin-d.
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time to hand things over to don lemon and cnn tonight. i'll see you tomorrow night. you are looking live at capitol hill, that's where in less than 24 hours the president will address a joint session of congress for the first time. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon. the president promising his speech will lay out details of his proposed budget. already putting a big number out there, 54 billion that's how much he wants to cut from multiple federal agencies and