Trump talks guns, immigration and North Korea at CPAC

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," February 23, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't want to have 100 guards standing with rifles all over the school. You do a concealed carry permit.

But we really do have to strengthen up, really strengthen up background checks. We don't want people that are mentally ill to be having any form of weaponry.

The Democrats are being totally unresponsive. They don't want to do anything about DACA. I'm telling you, and it's very possible that DACA won't happen.

North Korea, we imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before.



BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Trump at CPAC today. That speech was like catnip for that crowd. It was the let Trump be Trump, essentially the folks who say he needs to be unplugged and do those campaign speeches. They won the day because he did. And it was an hour and 14 minutes. There was a lot to unpack in that speech and other news today, but one of the big items was North Korea's sanctions and what the administration is doing. Here's the treasury secretary:


TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN: Our actions target shipping and trade companies, vessels and individuals across the world who we know are working on North Korea's behalf. We are issuing a global shipping advisory in conjunction with the Coast Guard and the State Department to put everyone on notice of North Korea's illicit maritime tactics and underscore the significant sanctions risk of engaging in maritime business with North Korea.


BAIER: It's already the most sanctioned country in the world, now more so from the U.S. point of view. Let's bring in our panel: Byron York, chief politics correspondent of the Washington Examiner; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics and host of "No Labels Radio" on Sirius XM, and Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Byron, let's start with North Korea. Significant different tone, big move today?

BRYON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Not to hear the president's speech. This was a very, very Trumpy speech and it went all over the place. And the extraordinary thing about the North Korea part of the speech is he almost forgot to put it in.

BAIER: The White House officials were touting it through the morning, saying here it comes. Here it comes.

YORK: Exactly. In the leadup to the speech, they were saying this is going to be the big news. You listen and an hour goes by, an hour and 10 minutes, he's wrapping up about to say good-bye and says, oh, North Korea. We're going to impose really strong sanctions. Good-bye, everybody.

But they are serious in the sense that this is another step. And we often hear that we've done everything we can to North Korea. We really haven't, and these are additional sanctions that might have an effect.

BAIER: It also comes as Ivanka Trump lands in South Korea with a specific message obviously today with this sanctions levying as Mike Pence, the vice president, did not have a meeting with the North Koreans when he was there.

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Right. The timing is no accident. Ivanka Trump is there. She's being hosted by President Moon of South Korea who has been trying to engage the north. But I think the message from the White House is engagement or no engagement, Olympics or no Olympics, we are going to continue to put pressure on North Korea. And we saw last week how the media went gaga over the North Korean leader's sister being at the Olympics and so forth. Trump is saying I don't care about that. The White House says we don't care about that either. We don't care about those appearances. This is a dangerous regime trying to become a nuclear power and we're going to keep the pressure on.

BAIER: We haven't seen sanctions move the needle that much. We have seen some movement in China, but not as much as the U.S. wants to see. But is this going to work?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, it's always the question of whether or not these are enforceable. And the regime in North Korea has so many ways to criminal conduct to do runarounds and workarounds of most of the sanctions. Right now, they're under pressure from sanctions on oil so this is why we're going after the shipping to see what kind of workarounds they have going there.

There's always another country that's willing to help them in the dark of night. The Chinese, I think what the administration has gotten the Chinese to do so far if enforced is very consequential. This is very aggressive. And I think we should all give them a lot of credit for that. The answer to the question whether or not it's enforceable and ultimately consequential, we don't know.

BAIER: Byron, you mentioned he did have his campaign mojo today. It doesn't fit everybody's cup of tea but definitely fits it with the CPAC folks and supporters throughout the country in the middle of the country, especially those states. Here he is on armed guards did nothing earlier in the day, talking about down in Florida.


TRUMP: When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn't have the courage or something happened but he certainly did a poor job.

I'd rather have somebody that loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody standing outside that doesn't know anybody and doesn't know the students, the teachers and the coaches and other people in the building, the dean, the assistant dean, the principal, they can -- they love their people. They want to protect these kids.


BAIER: What do you think?

YORK: That's classic Trump communication. On guns, he did talk about background checks. He talked about mental health issues. But the one thing he didn't talk about was something he's actually been saying for the past couple of days which is raising the age to buy a long gun to equal that of buying a handgun. You had to be 21 to buy a handgun. You can buy a long gun like the AR-15 at 18. A lot of talk about raising that to 21. The NRA doesn't like it but the president has specifically said in the last couple of days that he does like the idea. But he said nothing about it out of this hour and 14 minutes speech.

BAIER: Jason?

RILEY: I think he has a good point about the gun-free zones and the mass shooters targeting. There's a reason that you don't get a lot of mass shootings at NRA conventions, for example, even among mentally ill people. They seem to know better. So there is something to that.

The background check thing, I think there is some bipartisan support for that. Raising the age, I think the NRA has a good point here. A lot of these mass shooters that are under age use their parents' weapons or they find other adults. That was the case in Sandy Hook. I'm not sure that is going to be a big game changer.

But I do think that the mental health issue is a very real one. There are a lot of -- hundreds of millions of guns out there. We need to make sure they're not getting into the right hands. And Bret, I also think we need to make sure that the FBI and the other intelligence agencies have protocols in place to respond to the red flags when we get them. And there was definitely a failure there on his part.

BAIER: Quickly, we talked about it all week what Congress will or won't do. Mostly on the won't.

STODDARD: Let's look at this. President Trump has a different plan for the crowd at CPAC than he has earlier in the week. By the time Congress comes back next week, I think the president is going to stick on school safety and not be talking about comprehensive background checks, CBC, of which Republicans have no idea what he's talking about. So until and unless he wants to actually push for something like a new age restriction, I don't think he's making it clear what he's really willing to give on. And they are not going to give unless pushed by this president. It is on him to lead the Republicans. They are in an election year and they are not going to do this unless he insists on it.

BAIER: He potentially could provide coverage if he so chooses to some of those people.

STODDARD: If he sticks with it. As of today, we're not sure what he's doing.

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