Trump uses signing ceremony to deliver warning to Congress

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


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I will never sign another bill like this again. I am not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old.

I was thinking about doing the veto but because of the incredible gains that we have been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking.

I'm calling on Congress to give me a line item veto for all government spending bills. We have to get rid of the filibuster rule and go to 51 votes in the Senate.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Trump reluctantly signing that $1.3 trillion budget bill. And that was after a head fake on Twitter today with the veto threat, saying "I am considering a veto of the omnibus spending bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in bill) and the BORDER WALL which is desperately needed for our national defense is not fully funded."

There are numerous criticisms of this bill. The immigration part is part of it, but Ann Coulter from the conservative side "Threatened veto not over the -- on the wall but over the DREAMERS. Can I sign up with Mueller?" Continuing, "CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT SCHUMER." And finishing up "I will never another bill like this again. Yeah, because you'll be impeached." Ann Coulter has a unique way of expressing conservative angst about the president's action, but there was some pushback today about the signing of this bill.

Let's bring in our panel: Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times; Leslie Marshall, syndicated talk radio host, and Tom Bevan, Real Clear Politics co-founder and publisher. You know, Charlie, that tweet really sent people scrambling. Most of Congress had gone home.


BAIER: Yes. I don't know about the Ann Coulter tweet, too. But the original Trump tweet about there could be a veto.

HURT: And you get a sense from that press conference that he actually had to be convinced by the White House to go ahead and sign it and not actually veto it. He really did seem to be torn about it. But I think come November if we're looking at a complete wipeout of Republican seats, I think we can look back to this week and see the beginning of that dissatisfaction with voters. I don't know what Republicans have, what reason Republican voters have to vote for Republicans at this point.

BAIER: The tax law they will say.

HURT: That's fine, but when you are talking about this kind of spending when you have a Republican in the White House, you have Republicans in both chambers of Congress, and obviously there are all kind of explanations about they don't have a filibuster proof majority and things like that. But seriously, it's really hard to understand how we do the galloping into the spending and Republicans are now in control, and the Republicans are supposed to be the party of constraint.

But I do think the president put probably the best spin, as usual, of any Republican on it by saying, look, Democrats are holding the military hostage. I caved because of that. That's a pretty good line, but I don't know if it's one that Republicans on the Hill will be able to make.

BAIER: And Leslie, he said it was going to be a press conference and he only like two questions, so it really wasn't a press conference. But everybody covered it, and it took the moment and it took the news for the day. Did he get it both ways? Did he get to show his anger about it and sign it?

LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think right now every time the president speaks because he said I am vetoing this and then he signs it, I am having a press conference, only taking two questions, it's really hard for any of us I think regardless if we're left or right to believe anything he says. So honestly, I don't think he gets points for this. I do want to say you made me tingle just a little bit as a Democrat talking about why nobody would vote for a Republican. I just had to throw that out.

BAIER: A good moment.

MARSHALL: Yes, I had a moment there. But I do think as a Democrat it's absolutely laughable that he thinks the Hispanic community and the American people are going to buy that Democrats are throwing DACA under the bus, they don't care, when the House and the Senate are majority Republican, and the majority of Republicans are what wrote these thousands of pages that nobody seems to know what's in.

BAIER: All right, but let's play the president and some Democrats and Republicans about DACA.


TRUMP: We wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.: This is a classic Trump. He says one thing and does something completely different.

SEN. TIM KAINE, D-VA.: We gave him a deal. We gave him every penny he asked for for 10 years and fixed the Dreamer problem, and he said no.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON, R-GA.: The Democrats leveraged some power out of that narrow margin that we have. And why they didn't use that power to get DACA I will never understand.


BAIER: Republicans, Tom, say they just want to use this as an election issue. There was a three-year deal that was floating up there on Capitol Hill but it never came to fruition.

TOM BEVAN, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I think Trump actually did play Democrats last time around on the government shutdown this issue very well, saying Democrats were trying to hold the military hostage, as Charlie said. This time, though, they got the military spending. And ironically, Trump wasn't upset about the spending. He didn't even mention it. That's why the tweet was so funny. He said people didn't believe it because he said the reason I might veto this is because DACA is not in the bill.

BAIER: That's what set Ann Coulter off.

BEVAN: Exactly, and that was why it was so incredible and nobody really believed that he was going to pull the trigger and veto this thing. But now Republicans have their spending and DACA is going to have to be done as a side issue, as a separate bill. But I don't think there is any indication from anyone on Capitol Hill that that is going to be something that gets done this year.

BAIER: Let's be real here. This is really the last big bill we're going to see out of Congress before the midterms, right?

BEVAN: That's right. This is essentially it. There's not much else that can or will get done. And Republicans, to Charlie's point, they are hanging their hat on the tax bill. And that's not a certain thing that that is going to be enough to get them over the finish line in November and hold on to the majorities.

BAIER: Reaction to the change of national security advisor from McMaster to Bolton. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: John Bolton is the right guy at the right time with a worldview that I think will reinforce the president's instincts to go after our enemies and to be a better ally.

VAN HOLLEN: He has a history being a warmonger. He is very trigger happy.

GRAHAM: He believes in the military option as a last resort.

VAN HOLLEN: The other thing is his management style. People who worked with him have said he is a kiss up and kick down kind of guy. He's a yes man to the president, but he treats people below him very badly.


BAIER: All of this commentary today was really something. And many channels as I mentioned before said this talking head is now national security adviser, kind of not talking about his past as maybe a foreign policy expert.

HURT: It's funny when the talking heads are accusing somebody of just being a talking head. And also even with Van Hollen there, either he is a kiss up guy or he's a warmonger. I don't know how you can really be both. But I think that at this point President Trump is at the very least proved pretty adept at changing the dynamics with some of these foreign relationships whether it's with China or with North Korea. And I think give him a little latitude on that.

BAIER: Take Bolton out of it, but it seems like they are ready for action, war on a number of fronts. But it's not legitimate war, but you have Tillerson for Pompeo at State, obviously a different tone there. Gary Cohn leaving, Kudlow coming. You have John Dowd in the personal legal, and then Joe diGenova we think, but there may be some back and forth about that. And it seems like the White House is getting ready to take on forward leaning.

MARSHALL: I think especially with regard to foreign policy. And you can't just take Bolton out of the equation. When you put him with Pompeo that it is going to be more confrontational especially regarding Iran and North Korea. I am not sure that sit down with Kim Jong-un is going to happen essentially with these latest appointments by the president.

BAIER: We will see.

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