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Carl Icahn discusses possible role in a Trump administration

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 22, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, the billionaire financier Carl Icahn is a longtime Donald Trump friend and a longtime supporter who said he had very much a good shot at becoming the president of the United States.

So, when I caught up with him, I asked him about what kind of role he could play in a Trump administration. Carl Icahn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARL ICAHN, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN REAL ESTATE PARTNERS, L.P.: I said before that I wouldn't all entertain being secretary of treasury or take a full role, I mean, an adviser of some type, perhaps publicly, perhaps not.

But I have 10, 15 companies to run. And I'm not going to move to Washington or anything like that.

CAVUTO: It is a big adjustment when you give that up to join the public sector, right?

I mean, much has been made of what Mr. Trump might have to do now, whether put it into a blind trust or whether he gives it to the kids. He's going to be closely scrutinized on those relationships. Does it complicate matters for him?

ICAHN: Yes, but, I mean -- yes, look, certainly being president and getting what Donald could get done, done actually is, I think, very important for the country.

I think my giving advice can help somewhat, I hope. And I intend to do it if Donald wants to listen. And to some extent, I talked to him throughout this campaign.

But I tell you that people, the pundits all wonder what happened, and I think it was extremely simple, that, if you think about a middle-class guy working out in the Middle West, the real question is why -- not why did he vote for, but why wouldn't you vote for him? Why would you keep this going with this establishment?

And I don't know if you read this editorial I wrote in The Wall Street Journal today.

CAVUTO: I did.

ICAHN: Yes.

And I think it's really comes to a point. I think it is, shall we say, a manifestation of what is going on and why this economy is not working.

CAVUTO: You got to the point of about regulations and particularly oil and energy-related industry.

ICAHN: Yes.

CAVUTO: But that there are all sorts of ways the government has acted as a huge impediment to innovation and business and progress, but you think Donald Trump should address that sort of thing, which he appears to be willing to do, right, in those first 100 days.

ICAHN: Well, you know, I have talked to Donald a number of times on the crazy regulations that you have.

The EPA is the perfect, quintessential example of why people don't invest, why corporations do not invest. You are not going to invest when you have insane, literally -- and I'm not exaggerating -- insane regulations.

Now, you need regulations, Neil. I don't in any way say that companies should not be regulated to some extent. In fact, I think you need Dodd- Frank, to some extent, more than even Donald does.

(CROSSTALK)  

CAVUTO: By the way, on Dodd-Frank, you don't think he should torpedo that?

ICAHN: I don't think you torpedo it completely.

CAVUTO: OK.

ICAHN: I think Wall Street was responsible for '08. I say that in the editorial. And now you're going to get another '08.

CAVUTO: Yes, you're talking about mortgage-backed securities and all this other nonsense.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Right.

ICAHN: And that should have been regulated.

It was obvious that that was going to blow up one day. Everybody agreed to it. And just the same thing now, that, with business today, the problem is that you are completely strangled by too many regulations done by people that have no understanding whatsoever of business and the ramifications of it.

As a result, as a result of those regulations, you don't have business spending. I mean, Hillary Clinton herself said we should unleash the great amount of capital in our businesses. And she said that, but then she went on to say, but we must regulate them and we must tax them.

Well, obviously, business is not investing. Now, if it doesn't invest, you have worn-out tools. You have worn-out tools, you don't have productivity.
You don't have productivity, you can't compete. It's as simple as that.

CAVUTO: Then what do you think, Carl, if that -- if he puts the priority on dealing with these regulations over tax cuts? There's some hints -- and they only are hints -- is that he might not move right away on taxes.

ICAHN: No, I think they're not mutually exclusive whatsoever.

In other words, I think he will have tax cuts on the corporate level, for sure. To some extent, you're going to have tax cuts. Look, I am the first to tell you I think there will be big bumps on the road. Nothing goes easily.

This is a democracy. You have a Congress. But we have done nothing for eight years to help business. In fact, business is perceived to be at war, or government is perceived to be at war with business.

So, therefore, it is not a great puzzle. All these great pundits, well, what is going on? Why isn't there productivity? There isn't because we don't invest. And you don't invest because you're perceived to be at war with government. The government comes in and drives you crazy.

We finally got rid of that. We got rid of this albatross around our neck.
And that is why I was with Trump right from the beginning and I believed he would win.

CAVUTO: You were saying that when no one else was, so my hat is off to you on that, Carl.

But back to this role that you might play, you say, as an adviser, that would be like a kitchen cabinet-type adviser, without title, per se, or do you -- are you pooh-poohing this notion of a formal role either in a senior staff or Cabinet...

(CROSSTALK)

ICAHN: You know, I would have to -- look, I'm not -- no, I definitely would never take a formal role. It's not in my nature anyway.

Look, I'm 80 years old. I have never reported to anyone in my life.
That's not my nature. So I could never get involved in Washington, into the bureaucracy of that.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, though. Donald Trump right now is meeting at The New York Times. A crowd has dispersed there, so obviously he came in a back way and they are furious.

(LAUGHTER)

ICAHN: Yes.

CAVUTO: But, anyway, what do you make of him going there? This is an on again/off again meeting. And, furthermore, he did meet with media executives yesterday. They came to him. He's going to The New York Times.

Do you think in any weird way that elevates The Times?

ICAHN: When you say he's going to The Times, what does that mean?

CAVUTO: Right.

He's going. I'm sorry. He's physically there at The New York Times headquarters in New York City. And he's meeting with the publisher and then some of the editorial folks.

This is unusual, I say, because the other media types who met with him, met with him at his Trump Tower.

What do you think?

ICAHN: Yes.

No, I read somewhere yesterday or someone told me that he had canceled the meeting, but I guess it is on again.

CAVUTO: Right.

ICAHN: So, I have no idea.

I mean, that, I think, is sort of secondary, isn't it, somewhat to what is going on in the country. I mean, the media...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: He is saying the media, it owes it -- he was saying the media is very unfair to him, he is going to bypass the media, he tweets past the media, he communicates past the media.

In a way, so do you, come to think of it. So, what do you make of that and that things will change under President Trump in that...

(CROSSTALK)

ICAHN: No, I really think things will change.

I think Trump wants to be a great president. You know, I think it was very unfair in the election what the media did in many cases. You know, you can do what you want on an editorial page. I write this editorial, and they put it in and say Carl Icahn signed it, that's what he believes.

But when you put out the news, and I tell you, that's why less and less people are really reading the news and newspapers, because you want to get everyone's opinion. Everyone wants to give their opinion in the news, and I don't think that that should be done.

And I think that is the problem that you have with the media in this election. I never saw it. I have been around for a long time and been very involved, and I never saw it as bad as it was here.

In fact, it might have helped Donald. It might have been a backlash.

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

ICAHN: That people reading it say bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

And then a lot of people really -- that's a reason a lot of people don't read the newspapers, because they don't think they're getting the news.

CAVUTO: Well, for those of you at home, we can't police the language here, but Carl speaks his mind.

Look, Carl, let me ask you a little bit about the economic positions that will be filled in a Trump administration. And for treasury secretary, in particular, it's a growing and a long list, but that a couple of Wall Streeters are on there.

And I guess I'm asking you, in light of what happened with the meltdown and in light of whatever you want to say of Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs co-chair, and other Wall Streeters who have held that position, is it such a good idea to have someone from like a big investment bank in that position as treasury secretary?

ICAHN: No, I don't think so.

I don't think you should have somebody from a big investment bank as secretary of treasury. I think you need somebody that's -- I think you really need a Trump loyalist. If Trump is going to get things done, he should have people with him that are smart guys, and really believe at getting this thing cleaned up.

And, you know, I certainly think Paulson certainly was there and helped. But I think they could have gone much further to clean the situation up. And, today, say what you want. You don't have a great economy. You got the worst recovery in history, the worst.

You don't have good jobs for the middle class. So, yes, it's great. You live in a bubble in Manhattan or in L.A. or somewhere like that, and those people are doing very well. And I think they sort of are almost unable to see the problems that are going on outside the sphere.

And I think what you need -- I'm behind Steven Mnuchin on that. I would like to see him be secretary of treasury, smart guy. He's a Trump loyalist. I don't think you should be reaching out to try to have this kumbaya moment where, oh, let's all be great friends.

I'm very much for not having conflict with the other parties and to try to make things good with the media, but you shouldn't lose sight of where you want to get.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: Carl Icahn, 80 years young, still sharp as ever, and obviously pooh-poohing any talk of a Cabinet role, but an advisory role. We will watch closely.

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