TRANSCRIPT

Is Trump trying to get Kim Jong Un off his game?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," May 1, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Who is safe? The guy has got nuclear weapons with 28,000 troops on the line, and they're right there. So nobody is safe. We are probably not safe over here. If he gets the long-range missiles, we are not safe either.

TRUMP: I didn't say don't test the missiles. He is going to do what he has to do, but he understands we're not going to be happy.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: You say "not happy." What does that mean?

TRUMP: I would not be happy if he does a nuclear test. I will not be happy. And I can tell you also I don't believe the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.

DICKERSON: Does not happy mean military action?

TRUMP: I don't know. We will see.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Trump conducting a host of interviews, different news organizations, speaking there about North Korea. He did another interview with Bloomberg News in which he said something that raised more eyebrows here in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Yes, under the right circumstances, I would absolutely meet with him.

UNIDENTIFIED BLOOMBERG REPORTER: Are you thinking --

TRUMP: Most political people would never say that, but I'm telling you, under the right circumstances I would meet with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: "Him" being the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who he later told Bloomberg, "I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it." So let's bring in the panel and start there: Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post; editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Laura, thoughts?

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: Well, you can look at it this way, I guess. We've tried everything else with North Korea. We've been round and round and round. We allow them to get a little food every now and then. They need a little help from us. They say they're going to play nice. They don't. Supposedly really smart people, experts, have been active through Republican and Democrat administrations.

So while on the surface you think, meet with Kim Jong-un, why would he meet with Kim Jong-un? There might be something else going on. Maybe there is a little psychological gamesmanship that Trump is engaged in, and I think that looks like some bond formed between Trump and President Xi at Mar-a- Lago. I mean, imagine seeing Kim Jong-un at Mar-a-Lago, I don't that will probably happen.

But I think he's trying to kind of be a little bit unpredictable here with him and maybe get him off his game a little bit. I don't know if it will work but I do know this -- we are at the point now because all the smart people, all the elites in the foreign policy establishment have failed, and they have failed really badly.

BAIER: Here's Sean Spicer at the White House briefing being asked about that word, "honored."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I guess because he is still a head of state, so it is sort of, there's a diplomatic piece to it. But the bottom line is the president is going to do what he has to do. Right now he's building a coalition in the region to isolate North Korea both economically and diplomatically.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: He called him "one smart cookie" or "a pretty smart cookie"?

SPICER: He assumed power at a young age when his father passed away, and there was a lot of potential threats that could have come his way, and he has obviously managed to lead the country forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: The president has this remarkable affinity for strongmen overseas. We saw it in some other things he said about Vladimir Putin during the campaign. As Laura mentioned, he seems to have bonded with Xi Jinping, a real surprise considering the things he said, the hostile things he said about China during the campaign.

And now so I see this remark about Kim as being of a piece with that.

BAIER: He's also invited the Philippines leader.

LANE: And I was going to get to Mr. Duterte. But what was really interesting in all this is the extraordinary reliance he is placing on Xi to figure this problem out and to fix it on behalf of the United States, and he's even said he is willing to sacrifice a little bit on trade to get that done. I don't have the exact quote, but that came out of one of these interviews. That's a real change in priority for Donald Trump in terms of his policy towards Asia since the campaign he ran.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I admire any attempt to put a real deep strategic gloss on what Trump said Un, but this is ridiculous. This is off-the-cuff, hadn't thought through, there's no deep strategy.

In fact the proof is that if this were a calculated proposition, he would never have used the word "honored," which obviously is a mistake. You are not honored to meet him. You would meet him if you thought it was advancing things. That's not a serious proposition. In fact just two weeks ago we had a secretary of defense and State saying they wouldn't at that level, would not open negotiations with the North Koreans. The idea that we are going to have a Nixon in China on this is absurd.

The president was popping off. He's got a serious policy in place, that is to squeeze the North Koreans, to threaten them. I liked what he says "I won't be happy if you do a nuclear explosion." Didn't explain but said I won't be happy. Let them guess. He's pushing hard on China. I'm not sure that's going to work. But he's letting the North Koreans know were not going to allow an ICBM at any point and their pursuit of it is going to end in tears one way or the other. That I think is a strong policy. What happened today with that offer to meet with him I think is not serious and shouldn't be taken seriously.

BAIER: I would only say Secretary of State Tillerson said something similar on NPR about a meeting should things change dramatically. So it may not have been off-the-cuff.

INGRAHAM: The choice is between thermonuclear war and meeting with Un. If that's what he is really thinking could be in the offing, who is saying he's not going doing it because he thinks it will put America in better light, in a better interest? And I agree, on the surface, it seems like why would you meet with him? But maybe there is something else going on. I don't agree know all the pieces to this puzzle yet.

BAIER: All right, let me turn to domestic issues and two quick sound bites also from that Bloomberg interview, one on a potential gas tax.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You saw what happened with surveillance, and I think that was inappropriate.

DICKERSON: But you stand by the claim?

TRUMP: I didn't stand by anything. I just -- you can take it the way you want. I think our site has been proven strongly and everybody's talking about it. You don't have to ask me because I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions.

DICKERSON: But I want to know your opinions. You are the president of the United States.

TRUMP: That's enough. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: OK, that was not on the gas tax. That was on surveillance with CBS's John Dickerson. The gas tax, let's see if we have the big banks. He also talked about possibly breaking up big banks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are looking at that. Some people want to go back to the old system, right? We we're going to look at that. We're looking at it right now as we speak. And Dodd-Frank is going to be very, very seriously changed so the banks can go back to loaning money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: So I asked Brit this earlier, when a candidate says what they're considering is one thing. When a president says they are considering, it's a totally different deal.

LANE: The Glass-Steagall thing, they keep calling it 21st century Glass- Steagall, which as I followed this issue kind of means whatever you want it to mean. It means a new banking regulation scheme. They are just going to call it 21st century Glass-Steagall. It won't necessarily separate investment and commercial banks as rigidly as the old one. So put that to one side. They have been cogitating about that, and there's a lot of divisions in the White House.

The gas tax, if I may talk about it, is a really interesting proposal. I think it's a good idea. And as he pointed out, the money would be, he said if it were a dedicated to highways, the way the system works, it automatically gets dedicated to highways because that gas tax is what feeds the National Highway Trust Fund. One of the reasons we are having to scramble for this infrastructure money at the federal level is that this gas tax has not been raised since 1993, almost a quarter century. I'm sure I'm just like everybody else out there. I hate to pay it. But the truth is that's where we get our money for highways and it's long overdue to be increased.

BAIER: I know you are a gas tax proponent for 35 years.

KRAUTHAMMER: A voice in the wilderness, and now I hear an echo. It's from the president. I think it's terrific. Now, I don't think it's going to go anywhere because there is so much resistance in Congress, but it's exactly what we need. The French foreign minister said 30 years ago when talking about the budget deficits and the debt of the United States, said what a country where you could solve its problems with a 50-cent gas tax. This has been sitting out there forever.

BAIER: For the people who say that this is regressive and hits the poor more.

KRAUTHAMMER: There is regressive. I've advocated for years now that you do two things at once. You have a huge gas tax, a dollar a gallon, then you immediately refund it by lowering the rate of the FICA tax or the Social Security tax. So it works out to a $14 a week extra expense on gas, and you get it back by lowering your withholding, so nobody is held hostage. Nobody has to spend the money on it. Everybody is made whole. And all it does is it alters your incentives. Gas is more expensive, employment is less expensive. You get more employment, less consumption.

And the time to do it is when you are at historically low levels.

BAIER: On energy prices you mean?

KRAUTHAMMER: On energy prices. We are never going to get this again. You do it now and it will be less noticed. If you want to use a part of it to build the infrastructure, fine. But it's just lying out there as a source of revenue. Every other country, the Europeans have $6 a gallon or something, a huge gas tax. We have essentially nothing, and it's out there and ready to be used.

INGRAHAM: I am not for emulating Europe in almost any capacity. But I think Charles is making some good points here. We have to get the revenue somewhere. And it's surprising to a lot of people when you hear Trump talking about we're going to tax. You're conservative, you don't want any taxes. But you do have to pay for it. We have $19 trillion in debt, and I think they have to look at it carefully and I think they have to explain it to people because it is going to hurt the working people, for his populist message, that's going to hurt those people. But if they are going to do something like that, which I'm not even sure I'm in favor, they're going to have to really explain it to the people.

BAIER: Well, if you are not going to touch entitlements, you have to find the money somewhere.

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