Trump sends a signal that he's serious about trade

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This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," April 25, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This has been going on for a while, and we are not going to put up with that. I love Canada, but they have outsmarted our politicians for many years. Agriculture and rural prosperity in America, that is what we want. And we don't want to be taken advantage of by other countries, and that's stopping, and that's stopping fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you fear a trade war with Canada, sir?

TRUMP: No, not at all.


TRUMP: They have a tremendous surplus with United States. Whenever they have a surplus, I have no fear. By the way, virtually every country has a surplus with the United States. We have massive trade deficits. So when we're the country with the deficits, we have no fear.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Trump talking Canada and trade. This has to do with Softwood Lumber but also dealing with milk and affecting our dairy farmers. Just moments ago, the Canadian minister of national resources responded.


JIM CARR, CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES MINISTER: Our government disagrees strongly with this decision. It is unfounded, and we will vigorously fight for the interests of the Canadian Softwood Lumber industry, its workers, and their communities. These unfair and punitive duties will negatively affect people's jobs on both sides of the border and will ultimately increase costs for American families who want to build or renovate homes.


BAIER: So obviously we are dealing with U.S.-North Korea, we are dealing with U.S.-Iran, but when it comes to trade, now we're dealing with U.S.- Canada as well. Let's bring in our panel: Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill and author of "We, The People" now out in paperback; editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Laura, I guess he is sending a signal that they are serious about trade.

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: He campaigned on this. This is one of his core issues, wildly popular in states like Wisconsin. Big dairy farms there, cheese production there, also Pennsylvania, Ohio. And we haven't heard a U.S. president speak about the dumping of cheap products into the United States at obscenely low prices that has devastated American industries, and that is why so many turned out in the old rustbelt states, and this will be very popular among rural Americans and I think other Americans.

It's not surprising that Canada responds -- Canada should respond that way. They are going to fight for their workers command and we are going to fight for our workers and our industry. That's way it should be. There should be an efficient marketplace where both sides have a chance to represent their workers and their industries very vigorously. And once they get Bob Lighthizer actually confirmed, which I hope Mitch McConnell gets that done, as U.S. trade representative, we are going to see a vigorous argument at the World Trade Court and other trade bodies for American workers. That is what President Trump campaigned on.

BAIER: And Secretary of Commerce Ross was out making that case today, Juan. Democrat Ron Wyden put out a statement about this, "Today's announcement sends the message that help is on the way, that the fight to save millions of jobs cannot end here. America needs continued tough trading enforcement and a durable solution to the Canadian policies that distort trade and hold American lumber businesses back from fully realizing their potential. So this does cross party lines.

JUAN WILLIAMS, THE HILL: That is really true. And I was going to bring that up because it is striking to me. Usually you see in these fights with President Trump that Democrats are unified in opposition. Here is Ron Wyden, who is a pretty liberal guy from the state of Oregon, but now given the presence of so many who are in the lumber industry in Oregon standing up and saying, wait a second, this actually is a problem. And I particularly call attention to his language. He said it distorts the trade relationship given the premiums that Canada puts on its products.

BAIER: So what does this mean for China, for example? When they see this, do they say look out?

WILLIAMS: So the real question is how it plays out here because, remember, we haven't talked about U.S. consumers, U.S. home builders, and the like. And there are lots of ancillary industries that would be touched by this. And I think that is what the Canadians are counting on, that there's going to be some squeamish attitudes coming from, let's say, real estate people who are talking about new home construction, Bret. So if they are suddenly saying, hey, we are short, can't do this, you're hurting the real estate industry, then it has broader impact than just the lumber and dairy businesses.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That is the problem with protectionism. For example, if we were to prevail upon the Chinese to stop dumping steel, and we would raise tariffs on steel, this has happened in the past. It's great for steelworkers but it's not so good if you are making autos or other stuff out of steel. The costs are passed down and they become less competitive. So Juan is right. If you put a tariff on the lumber, if you get a problem with a home it is going to be a little more expensive.

I think after having insulted Australia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, just about every one of our friends, it is about time we hit Canada. I still haven't gotten over the war of 1812, so I have a personal animus here. I think this is Trump proclaiming a principle that we are going to be really tough on trade because the tariffs on our dairy products is something like 200 to 300 percent. It's really outrageous. And what he is doing, he is bargaining. He's a real estate guy. He said, here is my opening bid. I threaten you with tariffs on lumber. You show us some give on dairy. I think it will likely get this done. I can't imagine we are going to start this administration with a trade war with Canada. I could understand China, I could understand other people, but this is our closest ally in the world, and in a way it is gratuitous.

INGRAHAM: The word "protectionism" is always thrown around at anyone who stands up for American workers or American companies.

KRAUTHAMMER: Some workers, not all workers.

INGRAHAM: No. I think what Donald Trump campaigned which I assumed he will do is on issues like cold rolled steel. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, most presidents invoked some type of temporary tariff to make the marketplace efficient. It is wildly distorted now. We had a 20 percent in the dumping in cheap steel in the United States in the first three months of this year from the previous year. We had I think we had 18 out of the top 20 top steel manufacturers in the world were American. Now I think it is about three. So there are ancillary effects. We tried globalization and let it all ride on the WTO, and we got Donald Trump as the president. So we tried 20 years of this. We tried it.

TRUMP: The ancillary effects are in every industry downstream that uses the products. It's a law of nature. It's a law of economics. If you raise the price you are going to hurt --

INGRAHAM: We also have American workers who have jobs and families who have a livelihood and a beauty parlor and a shopping center and all the people who can actually spend money instead of being on government welfare.

KRAUTHAMMER: And people in construction are going to lose jobs if the price of lumber rises. That is very simple, not complicated.

BAIER: Obviously this is going to be a battle back and forth between Canada and the U.S.

I want to turn to another issue with the administration today, and that is Michael Flynn, the Congress investigating him. Take a listen to it Jason Chaffetz and also Sean Spicer.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey, or anybody else. And it is appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MD.: The White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan request, and that is simply unacceptable.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: Everything that is being discussed occurred prior to his employment at the White House, occurred as a consultant. So whatever he did, as long as he did it in compliance with the law, as every one of us as a citizen has the right to do.


BAIER: That is Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, was there less than a month. Juan, your thoughts on this?

WILLIAMS: So there are two thoughts around town on this, which is on the one hand Michael Flynn has been in the intelligence agency, not like, gee, who is Michael Flynn? Everybody knows it. But does Michael Flynn understand that once you leave the intelligence community, you have to be forthcoming, especially -- and I think this is specific, he may have thought, oh, I'm just doing my thing. But when it comes to your security clearance, if you are not properly disclosing all of your payments, connections, that's illegal. You can't do that. OK. But is it intentional, and was Flynn trying to cover up a relationship? I think that is still out there.

BAIER: We're talking now about, Laura, his contract work with Turkey and obviously money he received from Russia, from Russia Today.

INGRAHAM: He should have revealed it. It asked the question on the form, it is the government, and we know they we are going to watch him and hold him to a high standard, and they should be held to a high standard. He should have revealed it. He didn't reveal it. I'm not sure how this is relevant today. He is no longer working in the administration. But of course the left wants to tie this to the big Russian conspiracy, and it's the fantasy that they are going to stay with as long as possible.

BAIER: In fact Senator Schumer said today this was the tip of the iceberg, these comments.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, but there is no iceberg. Look, this could be the reason why Flynn has been asking for immunity in return for testimony. It has nothing to do with the Trump administration. It is a mistake on his part. It doesn't in any way involve secrets or conspiracy or collusion. So I think it is irrelevant to that. It effects only him and it really reflects badly on him from what we know today.

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