Interviews

Rep. Mike McCaul: It's a safer day for America

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right, the president wrapping up his visit to the Pentagon here to just be there to once again witness the swearing-in of retired General James Mattis as defense secretary.  

You might have noticed he also signed two executive orders.  This is unusual of President Trump.  Other presidents who have signed executive orders or memoranda, whatever you want to call them, they normally get the word out and it's passed along the staff to say, all right, the president signed executive orders.  

Not President Trump.  He likes to not only show what he's signing, but explain what he's signing.  A lot of people get a lot of benefit out of that.  

We have House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul with us right now.  

These latest orders, sir, what do you -- the rebuilding of the armed services, I can see.  But what is -- what is going to cause some controversy among some is, what does he mean by extreme vetting of refugees?  What do you think changes now vs. before he signed that order?  

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS:  Well, I think it's a safer day for America with one stroke of the pen.  

He has closed off more terror pathways than the past eight years under President Obama.  This is nothing really new.  It's something Mayor Rudy Giuliani and I briefed the president on during the campaign, the extreme vetting memo that was produced by Giuliani, myself, Judge Mukasey.  

It talks about the high-threat areas overseas and then ramping up the vetting process to make sure we don't have any more San Bernardinos in this country, Chattanoogas, Orlandos, all these areas where see people come in to the United States and perpetrate terror attacks.  

I think -- I applaud the president for doing this.  And, also, one thing that I don't think he mentioned, we will suspend the refugee program, in particular the Syrian refugee program indefinitely.  I think that's a very significant campaign promise that he's followed through with today.  

I just talked to General Kelly right before this interview about this executive order.  And I will be working with the secretary in the Congress to help implement these executive orders.  

CAVUTO:  Does it mean, Chairman, that if you have or you come from a country where there have been a lot of terrorist incidents, that we would go slow on allowing you to come here, or is it just you know, terror hotbeds?  

MCCAUL:  These are basically seven terror hot spot countries will be denied.  Every visa application will be suspended for 30 days, until the DNI and the secretary of homeland security can sit down with the FBI as well to determine, you know, this vetting process as to who are we letting into this country.  

We have seen in the past we haven't even used social media to determine who we're letting into this country.  So, we're talking about countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, and Libya, which all have a very high level of ISIS figures present in those countries.  

They could potentially get into our country through the visa process.  And so I think this will strengthen our homeland security, and I really applaud the president for what he's doing.  

CAVUTO:  Chairman, as you know, there's been a back and forth and some tension between ourselves and the Mexican government over this wall that the president wants to build and insists the Mexicans will pay for it.  

And he made a call himself to the Mexican president today, spoke for upwards of an hour.  Don't know what the result of that call was, but to try maybe just to make nice.  I don't know how you would describe it, but that he, in a later interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, said that, I'm still for either a tax, some sort of a tariff, without calling it a tariff, on goods coming in from Mexico to pay for this thing.  

Are you open to that?  Do you think that is doable?  

MCCAUL:  You know, we're looking at creative ways to pay for this.  

We will have a border emergency spending bill in the Congress coming up in the next couple months.  I will be working with Secretary Kelly on what is the wall going to look like, the fencing, aviation technology assets, but also how much is it going to cost and how are we going to pay for this?

On the front end, we will be appropriating those dollars out of Congress. On the back end, we're looking at some creative ideas like the border adjustable tax rate, which right now we tax exports, but not imports.  So, we really punish American manufacturing.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Sir, I hear the 20 percent figure come up a lot.  Or was it arbitrary, but something like that?

MCCAUL:  I think that it's a bit arbitrary.  

And I think it's a little early to be -- we're looking at all sorts of ideas in the Congress.  But, again, right now, we currently tax exports and not imports.  And we punish American manufacturers.  

I think it's very consistent with the Trump administration's theme here to protect America first.  And so we're looking at this idea. Paul Ryan is looking at it, in terms of a revenue enhancer that would bring -- actually, the number of I was told was about a trillion-dollar investment in the United States.  

So, if that is a way that the president can say Mexico helped pay for the wall, then that may not be a bad idea.  

CAVUTO:  All right, Chairman, thank you, Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, House Homeland Security Committee chairman, out of Austin.  

MCCAUL:  Thanks, Neil.  

END

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