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Face the Nation transcript April 30, 2017: President Donald Trump

Today on FACE THE NATION: As he hits the 100-day milestone, President Trump adds more to his to-do list, and takes a couple of victory laps. We spent the day with him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump!



DICKERSON: It was back to the comfort of a campaign rally for the president, as he marked his 100th day in office.

But, before that celebration, among the die-hard supporters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, we sat down with the president at the White House for a wide-ranging interview, everything from the North Korea threat:


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would not be happy. If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy.

DICKERSON: Not happy mean military action?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.


DICKERSON: To what he thinks of his new job.


TRUMP: I love doing it. I'm, you know, thoroughly enjoying it. It's always a challenge, like life itself is a challenge. But it's something that I really love and I think I've done a very good job at it.


DICKERSON: Next, we traveled with him to a factory, where he signed the 32nd executive order of his presidency and said hi to some supporters.


TRUMP: Thank you.


TRUMP: Thank you.


DICKERSON: And this was a day to love his job and list his accomplishments.


TRUMP: I am signing away. I have signed 29 new bills, a record not surpassed since the Truman administration. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)


DICKERSON: With no critics in sight, the president returned the love.


TRUMP: The future belongs to all of you. So, with hope in our souls and patriotism in our hearts, I say these words to you tonight on 100 days of devotion, hard work and love for our great country.

Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America prosper again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.

Thank you. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you.



DICKERSON: And at the end of the day, a private celebration with the staff on Air Force One.



TRUMP: Congratulations to everybody. We all deserve it. This was a tough go, and it was really fun. And I just want to congratulate everybody.

And now we are going to do a great job for the American people. Thank you.



DICKERSON: The 100th day of the Trump administration, its highs and its lows, coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I am John Dickerson on this 101st day of the Trump administration.

We begin with our wide-ranging interview with the president, taped yesterday in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. We asked him about the news that North Korea had fired yet another test missile late last week, how he has changed his thinking on China, and what he has learned in his first 100 days in office.


DICKERSON: Mr. President, you and the administration said to North Korea, Don't test a missile.

They have tested a missile. Is the pressure not working?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say, don't test a missile.

He's going to have to do what he has to do. But he understands we're not going to be very happy. And I will tell you, a man that I've gotten to like and respect, the president of China, President Xi, I believe, has been putting pressure on him also.

But, so far, perhaps nothing's happened. And perhaps it has. This was a small missile. This was not a big missile. This was not a nuclear test, which he was expected to do three days ago. We'll see what happens.

DICKERSON: 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 that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.

DICKERSON: Not happy mean military action?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.

DICKERSON: The Chinese, our allies, have been allies with North Korea. How are you sure that they're not using this as a way to test you?

TRUMP: You can never be sure of anything, can you?

But I developed a very good relationship. I don't think they want to see a destabilized North Korea. I don't think they want to see it. They certainly don't want to see nuclear on -- from their neighbor. They haven't liked it for a long time. But we'll have to see what happens.

The relationship I have with China, it's been already acclaimed as being something very special, something very different than we've ever had. But, again, you know, we'll find out whether or not President Xi is able to effect change.

DICKERSON: Why do...

TRUMP: I hope he is.

DICKERSON: Why do these missiles keep blowing up?

TRUMP: Well, I'd rather not discuss it. But perhaps they're just not very good missiles. But, eventually, he'll have good missiles.

DICKERSON: You don't want to discuss it because maybe we have something to do with it?

TRUMP: I just don't want to discuss it. And I think you know me very well, where you've asked me many times over the last couple of years about military. I said, we shouldn't be announcing we're going into Mosul. I said, we shouldn't be announcing all our moves.

It is a chess game. I just don't want people to know what my thinking is. So, eventually, he will have a better delivery system. And if that happens, we can't allow it to happen.

DICKERSON: What do you make of the North Korean leader?

TRUMP: I have -- I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, is he sane? I have no idea.

I can tell you this. And a lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.

And, at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So, obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie.

But we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue. And, frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you a question about the presidency.

George W. Bush said this about being president. He said: "You think one thing going in, and then the pressures of the job or the realities of the world are different than you thought."

Do you agree?

TRUMP: I think I can agree with that. I love doing it. I'm, you know, thoroughly enjoying it. It's always a challenge, like life itself is a challenge.

But it's something that I really love. And I think I've done a very good job at it.

DICKERSON: You said in an interview with Reuters that you thought it would be easier.


TRUMP: Well, it's a tough job. But I've had a lot of tough jobs.

I've had things that were tougher, although I'll let you know that better at the end of eight years, perhaps eight years, hopefully eight years. But I'll let you know later on. I think we've done very well with foreign policy. I think we've done very, very well with relationships with other leaders. I think we're doing great on trade deals. It's set. And I think we're doing well. I mean, our country is being out-traded at every single point. We're losing tremendous amounts of money on trade.

And I think, actually, I've been very consistent. You know, it's very funny when the fake media goes out, you know, which we call the mainstream media, which, sometimes, I must say, is you. But when...


DICKERSON: Do you mean me personally, or...

TRUMP: Well, your show. I love your show. I call it "Deface the Nation." But, you know, your show is sometimes not exactly correct.

But when they talk about currency manipulation -- and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator early in my tenure. And then I get there. Number one, they -- as soon as I got elected, they stopped. They're not going -- it's not going down anymore, their currency.

DICKERSON: But that had been true before. That had been true...


DICKERSON: ... during the campaign, sir.

TRUMP: No, not true to the extent that we're talking about.

But much more important than that as to when, but, you know, it did stop. And I was talking about it all during the campaign. And I would say that I was the one that got them to stop. But forget that.

DICKERSON: You were the one who got China...

TRUMP: He is working with us...

DICKERSON: ... to stop manipulating their currency?

TRUMP: I think so, during the campaign. I talked about -- it was of our many...

DICKERSON: Even if they were doing it before?

TRUMP: No, they were doing it before. I mean, there was no question. I mean, they were absolute currency manipulators before.

But somebody said, oh, you didn't call him a currency manipulator. Now, you and I are just talking about how he's working. I believe that President Xi is working to try and resolve a very big problem for China also. And that's North Korea.

Can you imagine if I say, hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we're going to announce that you're a currency manipulator tomorrow. So, the mainstream media never talks about that. They never say that.

And that's, you know, unfortunate. It's just one of...

DICKERSON: Let me ask you this.

TRUMP: It's just one of many things, John.

DICKERSON: You're a negotiator. If you need something from somebody, you need China to help you with North Korea, doesn't that send a message to China, we're not going to bug you about human rights, about intellectual property, in the South China Sea, we're not going to put too much heat on you? Aren't you breaking one of your own negotiating rules?


I think that, frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade. Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you...

TRUMP: OK? You understand what I'm saying.

And if I can use trade as a method to get China -- because I happen to think that China does have reasonably good powers over North Korea. Now, maybe not, you know, ultimate, but pretty good powers. Now, if China can help us with North Korea and can solve that problem...

DICKERSON: Let me ask...

TRUMP: ... that's worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States, excuse me, right?

DICKERSON: What do you know now, on day 100, that you wish you knew on day one of the presidency?

TRUMP: Well, one of the things that I've learned is how dishonest the media is, really.

I've done things that are, I think, very good. I have done -- I've set great foundations with foreign leaders. We have, you know -- NAFTA, as you know, I was going to terminate it, but I got a very nice call from a man I like, the president of Mexico.

I got a very nice call from Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. And they said, please, would you -- rather than terminating NAFTA -- I was all set to do it. In fact, I was going to do it today. I was going to do it as we're sitting here. I would've had to delay you. I was going to do it today. I was going to terminate NAFTA.

But they called up and they said, would you negotiate? And I said, yes, I will negotiate.

DICKERSON: That's all you've learned about the media? You knew from the campaign about the media. You said it all the time.

TRUMP: No, no, but the media didn't cover it that way. The media said, oh, I didn't terminate NAFTA.


TRUMP: First of all, if you look at my statements, I said...

DICKERSON: No, no, I meant...

TRUMP: ... if I'm not able to renegotiate NAFTA, I will terminate NAFTA. Well, I'll make that statement right now.

DICKERSON: Here's a question.

TRUMP: If I'm not able to renegotiate NAFTA, we will terminate NAFTA.

DICKERSON: Let's step back a minute.


DICKERSON: Presidents have to learn how to adapt. Every president comes into the job, it's different than they expect. They must adapt.


DICKERSON: Surely, you've learned something else, other than that the media is dishonest.

TRUMP: No, no, I'm just saying...

DICKERSON: And how do you adapt?

TRUMP: ... it's one of the -- it was one of my disappointments.

DICKERSON: Give me another thing you learned that you're going to adapt and change, because all presidents have to at this stage.

TRUMP: Well, I think things generally tend to go a little bit slower than you'd like them to go.


TRUMP: Just a system. It's just a very, very bureaucratic system.

I think the rules in Congress, and in particular the rules in the Senate, are unbelievably archaic and slow-moving and, in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you're forced to make deals that are not the deal you'd make. You'd make a much different kind of a deal. You're forced into situations that you hate to be forced into. I also learned -- and this is very sad -- because we have a country that we have to take care of. The Democrats have been totally obstructionist. Chuck Schumer has turned out to be a bad leader. He's a bad leader for the country. And the Democrats are extremely obstructionist.

All they do is obstruct. All they do is delay. Even our Supreme Court justice, as you know, who I think is going to be outstanding, Justice Gorsuch, I think that it was disgraceful the way they handled that.

But, you know, I still have people, I'm waiting for them to be approved, our chief trade negotiator. We can't get these people through.

DICKERSON: I want to get to...

TRUMP: They are obstructionists. And you know what that's hurting? It's hurting the country.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about health care.

Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago, when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn't going to help your supporters, that those who lived in rural areas, the older were going to get hurt by that bill.

And you told him, you said...


TRUMP: Excuse me. The health care bill is going to help my supporters.

DICKERSON: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir.

TRUMP: Otherwise, I'm not going to sign it. I'm not going to do it.

DICKERSON: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, "We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it."

You said you were going to negotiate.

TRUMP: Well, that's what I just said.

DICKERSON: So, tell me what in the bill you've been negotiating to get...

TRUMP: No, but let me just -- let me tell you.

DICKERSON: ... in that helps your supporters. I'm just trying to get the details of how your people... TRUMP: Let me just tell you.

DICKERSON: ... will be helped.

TRUMP: Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, preexisting is not covered.

Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said has to be. So, we have -- we're going to have lower premiums. And before you start there, let me just tell you something. Obamacare is dead. Obamacare, right now, all the insurance companies are fleeing. Places like Tennessee have already lost half of their state with the insurance companies. They're all going.

Obamacare, John, is dead, OK, because we're being -- we're being compared to Obamacare. Just so -- Obamacare doesn't work.

DICKERSON: I just want to compare you to your own...

TRUMP: One -- one thing. No, no, it's important. I've got to compare it.

DICKERSON: No, no, but I want to...


TRUMP: ... saying about Obamacare.

DICKERSON: No, but I'm not. I'm asking about what...

TRUMP: With Obamacare...

DICKERSON: ... you're going to do.

TRUMP: ... the premiums are too high. The deductibles are through the roof, so you never get to use it. But, more importantly, it's dead.

DICKERSON: So -- but, in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One -- and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old, who under Obamacare, the premiums -- the premiums would go up for...


TRUMP: But that was a long time ago, John. You're talking about a long time...

DICKERSON: But has that been fixed?

TRUMP: Totally fixed.


TRUMP: How? We've made many changes to the bill. You know, this bill is...

DICKERSON: What kind, though?

TRUMP: ... very much different than it was three weeks ago.

DICKERSON: Help us explain, because there are people...

TRUMP: The bill...

DICKERSON: ... out there who wonder what kind of changes.

TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain it to you.


TRUMP: This bill is much different than it was a little while ago, OK?

This bill has evolved. And we didn't have a failure on the bill. You know, it was reported like a failure. Now, the one thing I wouldn't have done again is put a timeline. That's why, on the second iteration, I didn't put a timeline.

But we have now preexisting conditions in the bill. We have -- we've set up a pool for the preexisting conditions, so that the premiums can be allowed to fall. We're taking across all of the borders or the lines, so that insurance companies can compete...

DICKERSON: But that's not in...

TRUMP: ... nationwide.

DICKERSON: ... this bill. The borders, it's not in this bill.

TRUMP: Of course it's in.

DICKERSON: It's in that third bill, right, because it's...

TRUMP: It's in the second phase.


TRUMP: It's called phase one, phase two.

And that's, in fact, second phase, which will get approved, which will quickly get approved.

DICKERSON: Let me...

TRUMP: But let me just explain something.

There will be such competition. Right now, there's no competition. There will be such competition by insurance companies, so that they can get health care and the people taking care of health care.


TRUMP: The other thing we're going to have is groups. Groups of people can negotiate.

What's going to happen is, the competition is going to drive down the premiums, in my opinion, much, much more than people understand.

DICKERSON: So, what you've just described is the bill that you previously had said you worried wouldn't help your people. And here's why I ask. You said, preexisting conditions...

TRUMP: No, there were things in the other bill, the first version, which were not as good.


TRUMP: But when I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don't cover preexisting conditions, we cover it beautifully.

DICKERSON: Although...

TRUMP: I'll tell you who doesn't cover preexisting conditions. Obamacare. You know why? It's dead.

DICKERSON: In one of the fixes that was...

TRUMP: It's not going to be here.

DICKERSON: In one of the fixes, it was discussed preexisting was optional for the states.

TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes. And they're changing it...

DICKERSON: Oh, OK. So it would be permanent?

TRUMP: ... and changing it.

Of course.


TRUMP: This is...


DICKERSON: Well, that's a development, sir. So you're saying it's going to be preexisting for everybody?


TRUMP: John, this has evolved over a period of three or four weeks.

Now, we really have a good bill. I think they could have voted on Friday. I said, just relax. Don't worry about this phony 100-day thing. Just relax. Take it easy. Take your time. Get the good vote and make it perfect.

DICKERSON: Just to inform...

TRUMP: But we're going to -- most importantly, we're going to drive down premiums. We're going to drive down deductibles, because, right now, deductibles are so high, you never -- unless you're going to die a long, hard death, you never can get to use your health care...

DICKERSON: Let me ask you...


TRUMP: ... because the deductibles are so high.


So, what I hear you saying is preexisting is going to be in there for everybody; it's not going to be up to the states?

TRUMP: Preexisting is going to be in there. And we're also...

DICKERSON: And it's not up to the states?

TRUMP: ... going to create pools.


TRUMP: And pools are going to take care of the preexisting.

DICKERSON: But on that crucial question, it's not going to be left up to the states? Everybody gets preexisting, no matter where they live?

TRUMP: No, but the states...

DICKERSON: Guaranteed?

TRUMP: ... are also going to have a lot to do with it...


TRUMP: ... because we ultimately want to get it back down to the states.

DICKERSON: It's a guarantee?

TRUMP: Look, because, if you hurt your knee, honestly, I'd rather have the federal government focused on North Korea, focused on other things than your knee, OK, or than your back, as important as your back is.

I would much rather see the federal government focused on other things...

DICKERSON: Let me... TRUMP: ... bigger things.

Now, the state is going to be in a much better position to take care of, because it's smaller.

DICKERSON: People out there with preexisting conditions, they are worried.

Are they going to have the guarantee of coverage if they have a preexisting condition, or if they live in a state where the governor decides that's not a part of the health care, or that the prices are going to go up? That's the worry.

The American Medical Association says...

TRUMP: We actually...

DICKERSON: ... it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable for people.

TRUMP: Yes, we actually have -- well, forget about unaffordable. What's unaffordable is Obamacare, John.


DICKERSON: So, I'm not hearing you, Mr. President, say there's a guarantee of preexisting conditions.

TRUMP: We actually have -- we actually have a clause that guarantees.

DICKERSON: OK, excellent. We got there.

TRUMP: We have a specific clause...

DICKERSON: Let me ask you...

TRUMP: ... that guarantees it.

DICKERSON: ... about your tax plan.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

DICKERSON: Tax plan came out this week.

It's got some big deficit numbers. You've said that's going to be made up by growth. Congressional...

TRUMP: Well, not only growth. It's going to be made up by better trade deals. It's going to be made up...

DICKERSON: OK. Let me...

TRUMP: ... by many different -- reciprocal tax.

As an example, we have countries where, if we make a product and we send it to that country, they charge us 100 percent tax. If they make the same product and send it to us, we charge them nothing. You think that's smart? It's not.

Look, we're going to come up with reciprocal taxes and lots of other things on those countries. But I view that more in trade. We're also going to fix all of our trade deals. We're going to have a very wealthy country again.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you this, Mr. President. Congress may not go along with...

TRUMP: Always.


DICKERSON: So, they're going to try and find some spending.

Let me ask you about the question of Medicare. They're going to want, in Congress, to make up on the spending side, to change Medicare. Will you allow that?

TRUMP: You're not going to have to do it.

DICKERSON: But, sir, will you allow it?

TRUMP: You're not going to have to do it. I'm just telling you, we are going...

DICKERSON: Does President Donald Trump want them not to do that?

TRUMP: I would much prefer them not to do that. That's right.

DICKERSON: It sounds if -- having covered you in the campaign, it sounds like you're leaving the door open. On the campaign, you were quite clear. You said, I'm the guy who's not going to touch Medicare.

TRUMP: OK, then let me more clear. I'm not going to touch it, because I have said it.

Now, waste, fraud and abuse, I'm going to touch. If there's something in Medicare that's been abused, I will touch that.


TRUMP: There are certain things, as you know, that have been absolutely abused.

There are certain provisions in Medicare that are horrible and abusive, and there's been terrible things happening. So, that kind of stuff, I will absolutely touch.

DICKERSON: So, if I...

TRUMP: But the concept of Medicare, I'm not touching.

DICKERSON: For me, if I have it now, or if I'm going to have it in the future, it's not getting cut?

TRUMP: Waste, fraud and abuse.

DICKERSON: And that's it?

TRUMP: And if there are things within Medicare that are being abused, I will touch that also.

DICKERSON: Other than that, it's tightened up?

TRUMP: That's right. That's what it is.

But here's what we do.


TRUMP: We're going to grow. The numbers just came out for Obama's last year, 1.6 GDP. That means nothing. That's, like, 1 percent GDP. So, I have gotten to know, as you know, and getting -- I really get along with a lot of other countries. So, I talk to the heads of countries. How are you doing? Not well. Not well. Why? GDP is 8 percent. GDP is 9 percent. We are doing poorly. GDP -- our GDP is like, 1 percent.


DICKERSON: When we come back, President Trump on the progress of releasing his tax returns and whether he really believes Russia tried to meddle in the last election.


TRUMP: You notice now they are using -- everybody is using the word fake news? Where did you hear it first, folks?




DICKERSON: And we are back with more of our interview with President Trump.

This week, his treasury secretary was asked a familiar question when he unveiled the president's tax plan.


QUESTION: Will the president release his tax returns so that...


STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The president has no intention. The president has released plenty of information. And I think he has given more financial disclosure than anybody else.


DICKERSON: We asked the president about that.


DICKERSON: Let me ask you about your tax returns, sir.

When your Treasury secretary was asked about whether you were going to release them, Secretary Mnuchin said, "The president has no intention."

Is that right?

TRUMP: Well, I never spoke to him about it. Honestly, he's never asked me about it.

I said, number one, I'm under audit. Right now, I'm under audit. After the audit is complete -- it's a routine audit, but I have a very big tax return. You've seen the pictures. My tax return is probably higher than that from the floor.

When you look at other people's tax return, even other wealthy people, their tax return is this big. My tax return is this high.

DICKERSON: I just wanted to make sure...

TRUMP: I'm under routine...

DICKERSON: ... you weren't changing.

TRUMP: ... audit. And I think it's a very unfair thing, because I have been under audit almost, like, since I became famous, OK?

DICKERSON: Have you...

TRUMP: Not just political. I mean, I have been under audit, I'll bet you 12 or 13 or 14 years in a row.

Now, I have friends that are wealthy people.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you...

TRUMP: They've never been audited.


TRUMP: And I think it's very unfair.

DICKERSON: You first said that you were under audit and were going to wait until that was done about 14 months ago. That seems like a long time. When do you think this might happen? Are you asking them?

TRUMP: It could happen soon. I don't know. I mean, I think it's...

DICKERSON: What's -- give me a sense of...


TRUMP: ... pretty routine, to be honest with you.


TRUMP: But then I'll make a decision.

DICKERSON: A member of Congress suggested that a condition for getting tax reform would be releasing your tax returns. What do you think about that?

TRUMP: Oh, I don't know who did that. I mean, I don't care who did that. These are the people, you know, the great obstructionists.

DICKERSON: So, you're not buying that deal?

TRUMP: Look where they are. Look where the Democrats have ended up.

Hey, John, they had everything going. Now they don't have the presidency, they don't have the House, they don't have the Senate, and Schumer's going around making a fool out of himself.


DICKERSON: And in a moment, why President Trump is still skeptical of reports that Russia tried to influence the American election.


DICKERSON: Next week, we will check in with a group of Pennsylvania residents about what is going on with their country and their government.

Plus, we will sit down with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She has got a new book out, "Democracy: Stories From the Long Road to Freedom."

And we will be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: We have got a lot more of FACE THE NATION coming up in a moment, more of our interview with the president, plus our political panel, and Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell, my colleagues who I will be with at the White House tomorrow.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION and the final part of our interview yesterday with President Trump. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DICKERSON: You said yesterday on Fox that Russia is a phony story. Which part of it is phony?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The concept of Russia with respect to us is a total phony story. Now -

DICKERSON: You mean in the Trump campaign?

TRUMP: Of course it's a total phony story. In fact, I just heard where General Flynn got his clearance from the Obama administration.

DICKERSON: but you don't mean it's -

TRUMP: Excuse me. And when he went to Russia, I didn't realize this, when he went to Russia, it was 2015, and he was on the Obama clearance. When General Flynn came to us, as you now know, he already had the highest clearance you can have. I think the same clearance as the president of the United States would have. He had this really high clearance.

And, by the way, they're so devastated because this only came up two days ago.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you this, sir.

TRUMP: Why - why wasn't this reported months ago? But I watched one of your other competitors and they were devastated by this news -


TRUMP: Because, you know what, that kills them. That's the end of that subject.

DICKERSON: You don't think it's phony that they, the Russians, tried to meddle in the election? You believe that.

TRUMP: That I don't know. I don't know.

DICKERSON: You don't know or you do know?

TRUMP: Well, I have a - a problem. You have Podesta, who, by the way, I understand has a company with his brother in Russia, Hillary's husband makes speeches in Russia, Hillary did a uranium deal with Russia, nobody ever talks about that, but I don't know because the FBI was not allowed by Podesta to go in and check all of the records and their servers and everything else that you would normally have to check. That's number one. Number two, knowing something about hacking, if you don't catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I'll go along with Russia. It could have been China. It could have been a lot of different groups. But it could have been -

DICKERSON: So President Donald Trump is ambivalent about - or not ambivalent, you're just not sure? TRUMP: No, I'm not - no. We have to find out what happened. I'd love to find out what happened.

DICKERSON: But you don't think it's the Russians necessarily (ph)?

TRUMP: I can tell you one thing, it had nothing to do with us. It had nothing to do with this. And ever knows it. And, by the way, even my enemies on your show said, we haven't found anything that the Trump campaign did wrong.


TRUMP: Do you agree with that?

DICKERSON: But there is agreement in the intelligence communities and other places and investigative communities on The Hill that - that Russia was involved in the election.

TRUMP: I'm OK with that. Honestly, John, I'm OK. But why didn't Podesta and the Democrats, why didn't they allow the FBI to check the server.


TRUMP: They hired some company who somebody said some pretty bad things about to go and check their server and give the information. So they were hacked. Why didn't they allow - why didn't the Democrats allow the FBI - they told the FBI, we are not going to allow you to do it. Why did they do that? Why did they do that, John? Why wouldn't they let the FBI go in and check? And, by the way, why didn't the FBI complain about it?

DICKERSON: Mr. President, I think we're going to have to end it there.

TRUMP: Thank you.


DICKERSON: More of our interview will air on CBS "This Morning" tomorrow morning in a live broadcast from the White House.

We turn now to our political panel for some analysis on this very newsy last 100 days. Julie Pace is White House correspondent for the Associated Press, Ed O'Keefe covers politics for "The Washington Post" and is a CBS contributor. We're also joined by our CBS White House team, White House and senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan and chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.

And, Major Garrett, I'm going to start with you.


DICKERSON: One hundred days. You've been to all of those Trump rallies. GARRETT: Sure.

DICKERSON: There was another one last night. Give us your sense of where things are.

GARRETT: Well, let me just talk about the interview, because I think there were two very important things that were said that caught my ear. One, the president went out of his way to a certain context praise Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, calling him a smart cookie. How that will be translated in North Korea I'm not sure, but the people who are the Trumpologists will say that's nearest to high - the highest praise the president can give anyone that he respects. It's a signal from this president that he is trying to, at least on a personal level, take the volatility possibly out of this budding relationship. Point one.

Point two, on the domestic front, he called the Senate rules unbelievably archaic, slow moving and unfair. What is the singular accomplishment of this administration in its first 100 days? Filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court. How was it done? By changing the rulings of the Senate to a straight 51 vote, majority vote. What is blocking and will block this president and his agenda in the Senate going forward? Sixty votes. There is active, constant conversation, this White House, on legislation in the Senate, shifting it through the rules from 60 to 51, simple majority. And those words from the president range loudly in my ear as to what his intentions are and where we may see these issues and the debate about Senate rules going.

DICKERSON: And let me ask you about Major's point on the filibuster, which is really interesting. Mitch McConnell doesn't want to change the filibuster - wants to keep that 60 vote threshold. But the rally that I was at last night and the - the - the thing that Donald Trump has created can over run Mitch McConnell --


DICKERSON: To Major's point -

O'KEEFE: I'm glad - I'm glad you heard what I heard because I - I really remember this past week, Lindsey Graham telling me, you know, there's no support for that. I don't like it. We're going to block it. But you're right, if he keeps this up, if he brings it up in these interviews, if he gets his base to support, to call their senators, the Republican senators, and say, you have to make this change, what's to say it won't happen?

They understand in the Senate that you do this and they basically become a smaller, older, more - better compensated version of the House and - and there are a lot of senators who don't want to be a part of that. And it could be a real showdown should that happen at some point in the next year, two years. There were some who thinking this - the debate doesn't ultimately happen for another decade, but there are others who see what the president is saying and saying, it could happen a lot sooner.

DICKERSON: Margaret, let me get your take on the president's foreign policy views, either with respect to North Korea or the other countries that he's engaged with. He - he puts that in the win column. He has a lot of things in the win column, but he puts that pretty high up, his interaction with other leads - foreign leaders. How do you access his diplomacy?

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's - it's not a fully formed thought yet, right? You have the beginnings of policies and you haven't seen them actually play out. It's interesting to hear the president consistently in his tweets, in the interview, praise as well the leader of China, Xi Jinping, a man who is very careful with his diplomacy, very careful with his words and what he says is his policy. Very different than the president we have there. And to have him consistently really kind of publicly shame China is a new twist on essentially the old Obama policy, which was, put more pressure on China to try to reign in their client in Pyongyang, to consistently say every time Kim Jong-un does this, it's embarrassing not me, it's embarrassing Xi Jinping, is a new approach. It's interesting to see that.

The smart cookie comment, wow, yes, how do you translate that? But I think that expression of empathy and that opening towards negotiation, the question I have is, when you're going in the State Department and cutting 2,000 heads, when you're cutting their budget by 30 percent, who's leading those negotiations? Who within the administration is going to take the road map that the president is starting to try to place here?

DICKERSON: I thought it was interesting also to hear the president talk about the power relationship in North Korea.


DICKERSON: This is a president who pays attention to the power and other powerful leaders and how they get around maybe their judiciary senators (ph) -

BRENNAN: And he specifically mentioned the uncle. That was really interesting too.



BRENNAN: A man who he had killed in 2013 by artillery fire.


GARRETT: And the president has some experience with inner office rivalries.

PACE: Just a bit.

BRENNAN: We haven't - we haven't gotten there yet. Let's -

DICKERSON: Julie, pick - pick up on - on this. You interviewed the president. Got a lot of coverage for that interview. You know, he traveled a road this week in terms of some of the things he said, he seemed to be at pains in our interviews to say, I love the jobs. It's not as hard as other things I've done. Whereas in other interviews he talked about its enormity. Where - what do you think of where he is at 100 days.

PACE: I think it's so interesting because you see President Trump going back and forth between these two views of the job. On the one hand he is still supremely confident in his own abilities, his own ability to push through a pretty ambitious agenda, to overhaul Washington, and to live up to the hopes of his supporters. On the other hand, you see him wrestling with, I think, the reality of his presidency, which is that this is not going to be easy, and he is dealing with institutions that don't change. Not only do they not just not change quickly, they don't change at all in some cases. So you see him going back and forth.

I think the question that I have looking forward in his presidency is, what can he take away in terms of lessons learned? Can he adapt to this city, how can he adjust his White House team, how can he adjust his legislative strategy? We haven't really seen any indications on that front yet.

O'KEEFE: Although there are - there are some glimmers of hope. We were exploring this subject this week for a story that's in today's paper and Susan Collins said, look, you know, at the beginning, we weren't hearing from anyone at the White House. They didn't have a staff in place who was capable of talking to legislators about legislation. But she said, on Thursday, I had a 45 minute conversation with the head of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services. We talked about my concerns in the House GOP health care plan, which based on what the president said today may need to be rewritten yet again, but she said, I got 45 minutes with her and she listened to me and she took notes and we laid out my specific concerns.

She said the other thing that's going on that people don't realize, the vice president's holding small dinners with senators at his house on Wednesday nights now, both parties, trying to get them to talk to each other and get a sense of what is possible in Washington. She said this is all very encouraging and it needs to continue.

DICKERSON: We're going to take a break quickly here. I want to stay with this idea of adaptation and talk to you two about that when we get back. But let's take a break. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: And we're back with our panel.

Major, pick up on this idea of lessons learned.

GARRETT: So I would say the last 30 days have been vastly different than the first 60, 65 to 70, because the White House is better organized. It has a better flow of information. It has a better decision-making process. It has also done something that President Trump, when he was a candidate and alluded to, and we've begun to see it, which is the empowering of cabinet secretaries. Giving them an autonomy the previous White Houses, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, essentially took away from cabinet secretaries. Made them subservient to every wish and inclination and communications fine pointery from the West Wing. Cabinet secretaries are coming to the White House briefing on their own agenda, in their own words, with their own people. And if this trend continues and there is a re-empowering of cabinet secretaries, I think it's a significant shift for the way the executive branch functions and it may work for this president in his organizational model as well. That's something I've definitely seen signs of in the last 30 days.

DICKERSON: That's interesting.

Margaret, in that model sometimes what happens though is you have cabinet secretary who - so you have a U.N. ambassador who says one thing, a secretary of state who says one thing and a president who says one things and sometimes people are confused when there's not a consistent voice. Is that a challenge to that model?

BRENNAN: It's a challenge for every single one of our allies and some of our adversaries. I can't tell you how often the question is asked, well, which one is the actual policy, because nuance is - is what they're looking for and often you get just outright contradiction.

I think some of the interesting things there that you picked up on in your exchange with the president, he pretty much is explicitly telling you, we are - we cut a quid pro quo with China. That's our China policy, OK? I'm not going to criticize you for currency manipulation, something I said you did, they did in the past and they're widely assumed to have stopped. You know, putting pressure on the U.N. in 2014, he is saying they stopped because I told them to. That's interesting, but that's the quid pro quo policy for China.

What is it towards every other issue and every other challenge? And why, at the end of your interview on Russia, did he return to some of his old language, where I thought particularly after that serious strike we had started to see the president have a new view of Vladimir Putin and his meddling. But he returned to that, in many ways, a denial of the election hacking that 16 U.S. agencies said happened.

DICKERSON: Yes. He does seem to be in that very position.

Julie, let me ask you about the president's decision on NAFTA this week. How much of a reversal was that? And then, more broadly, what do we know about when and how the president changes his mind?

PACE: I think there's a lot more that we need to know about the NAFTA decision. Margaret and I were talking about this earlier. That it's a bit confusing about how this all evolved. On the one hand you had White House officials who were pushing this idea that there was going to be an order from the president to terminate NAFTA, and they were happy to have that message out there. Then, within hours, you have phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Canada and the president is trying to say, I'm now in a stronger position because I threatened termination. I'm now in a stronger position as we move forward with renegotiating the deal. We don't know what he wants to renegotiate in the deal necessarily. We don't know that he necessarily is in a stronger position. We don't know who called who in some cases with these foreign leaders. And I think more broadly for his trade policy, it leaves open a lot of questions about how forceful he's going to be in terms of looking through these deals and trying to put U.S. workers in a stronger position. He made that - that quick step to pull the U.S. out of TPP. That was a promise kept for him. But I think NAFTA is a much bigger challenge. He's hearing that not just from Capitol Hill but from within his own administration, from some of these cabinet secretaries who are saying, you might want to be careful as you move forward here.

GARRETT: Chiefly Wilbur Ross -

DICKERSON: Explain that.

GARRETT: Who delivered that message directly to the president, sent a memo to Congress essentially taking a much softer approach to a renegotiation of NAFTA than the president articulated or certainly Steve Bannon has driven within the West Wing.

BRENNAN: And while the president says renegotiation begins now, they haven't even gotten the authority from Congress to do so.

PACE: Right.

BRENNAN: So it's - it's - it's not clear beyond the PR what's actually happening yet.

GARRETT: But in the billboard sense it sends a message to the rest of America's future and potential trading partners, he's serious about this nationalist approach. If he's willing to pick a fight with Canada and Mexico, considering where they positioned themselves, two and three as our trading partners, then he means what he says, at least in taking a reexamination of all existing trade and all future trade. And at the billboard level, which this president likes to communicate at, that's an important message.


The - the - Ed, tell me about what you think is going to happen with health care. It - it's at - well -

O'KEEFE: Well, just as we sit here, actually, I was getting some guidance from a senior Republican congressional aide on what the president was saying there and they - and they believe there is more than one way to address the problem of covering pre-existing conditions, that there will be various ways for it to be done and not necessarily what the president was saying there. He's saying, one way or another, they're going to be taken care of is essentially the early interpretation of what he told you.

Look, they - they were counting votes into late last week. It is not dead again quite yet. But it's also not clear when they would hold a vote. The House is in this coming week and their primary responsibility, as it was last week, is to keep the government open. Then they're on break for another week when they're probably going to go home and get yelled at again about this. And so it may be now late May until the House actually takes this up again, which leaves plenty of time to renegotiate things and - and try to figure out whether, in fact, there is enough support for it.

DICKERSON: Major, 30 seconds on the president's tax plan and - and - and where you see it going from here with Congress (INAUDIBLE).

GARRETT: Health care is vitally important to it at this tactical level. The conservative groups oppose the original bill, the House bill, on health care. They're for it now. Why? Because their donors told her, we can't - told them, we can't get to tax reform until we get health care. That alliance keeps health care alive -


GARRETT: And keeps tax reform alive. And until they're fully dead and buried by the president's words, you've got to keep an eye on them.

DICKERSON: All right. Thanks to all of you for being here with us today. And we'll be back in a moment with Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Joining us are CBS "This Morning" co-anchors Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose, in town preparing for tomorrow's broadcast at the White House.

And I get to ask you guys questions. Usually I'm at this - I'm at this table -

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS "THIS MORNING" CO-HOST: That's right, we usually have this flipped around.

DICKERSON: Yes. Exactly.

O'DONNELL: That's good. (INAUDIBLE).

CHARLIE ROSE, "CBS "THIS MORNING" CO-HOST: We're on your turf, so you have at it.


Charlie, what do you want to know about this administration? If there's a question at the heart of it, what is it for you?

ROSE: Well, clearly, Donald Trump is a man - there are many Donald Trumps. We know that. Clearly he has changed the presidency. But I want to know how the presidency has changed him and the opinions he has changed and what impact they will have on his future and the country's future.

DICKERSON: Yes. Norah, what's your - what's your feeling about - he - the president seems in one hand, in some of his interviews, reflective and saying it's harder than I thought. And on the other hand, it's going great. It's wonderful. It's better than ever. What do you -

ROSE: That's why there are many Donald Trumps.

DICKERSON: Right. Exactly.

O'DONNELL: It was a great interview, John, by the way, great interview.

DICKERSON: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: I thought, once again, you know, trying to get an answer out of Donald Trump is lying like trying to pin Jello to the wall. It's hard. And his lack of facility with understanding what might be in the new repeal and replace Obamacare is part of the frustration. So we want to know so much, but I'm not sure the president is in a position to tell us that much.

I think the key question I have is, who is driving policy inside the White House on the domestic front, on the national security front? And we know that there are multiple centers of power. But it affects relations with Congress. And I've said this before but I'll say it again, that Republicans have a historic opportunity for change. It is so rare for the party to control the executive and the legislative branch. It has only happened six years in the past 70 years. George W. Bush had four of them. They can do a lot. They're missing an incredible opportunity if they're not working together with leaders on The Hill. And it appeared yesterday from your interview, and I'm curious your take too, is it wasn't clear that the president had a full understanding of what is in the Republican's repeal and replace, their current form of that bill.

DICKERSON: I think he wants to get things done. And think, particularly in going to the rally, you see - and he connected with that energy and he wants to get things done for those people. And I think the details are - as long as they match up with those people, that's what -

ROSE: That's jobs and growth.

DICKERSON: That's what he wants. Yes.

ROSE: Jobs and growth.


ROSE: The - turning to foreign policy just for a second. It is - I'm amazed at how he talks about Xi Jinping, the leader of China, the way he does. He's his new best friend.


ROSE: And he's going to help him. Does Xi Jinping feel the same way? Is that a genuine relationship that can make a difference?

DICKERSON: Yes. He seems, when he talks about foreign leaders, he just - he understands power, goals. It's very tactical and very transactional. And - Norah, what were you going to say?

O'DONNELL: Well, I was going to say, it reminded me - someone once said, don't confuse effort with accomplishment. And the president, in that rally that you, I know, went with him last night, you know, he is the champion of the forgotten man and woman.


O'DONNELL: But does he know how his policies will affect the forgotten man and woman? What are - what are those policies? And I think that's really the journalistic challenge that we face over the coming year is - is not only learning what his intent is, because I don't think it's entirely clear, and also then what becomes the process of the actual legislation when something comes out (INAUDIBLE) -

ROSE: And does he mean it when he says, anything that affects them I will not sign.


ROSE: If it makes their life more difficult, I will not sign.

The interesting thing for me is - is how did you see him differently and what did you think you came away with in terms of what he was saying on health care?

DICKERSON: Well, on health care, I think it is, you know - I think he wants the - a result and if they can tell him, look, this result is what you're getting, then he's good with it, which is, it's going to be good for my people and it's an accomplishment and we can move on. And as Major pointed out, there is this connection with health care and taxes. Health care has to happen first to lower the budget base line so that you can do more with taxes.

But one thing I was struck about, Norah, to your point is, is that at that factory we went by, he is out there swinging every day for those gays who wear boots with steel toes on them. And as long as they see him swinging for them, I think they are 95 percent of the way there, and the details, which are so crucial, as you quite rightly point out because they'll matter in the end, but I think they will wait a long time until they need the details.

O'DONNELL: They'll wait. They'll wait to - to accomplish those things.


O'DONNELL: We're going to be inside the East Room of - of the White House tomorrow and I know you'll join us as we're broadcasting live, our show, CBS "This Morning." And we're going to have at the table a number of the president's senior foreign policy advisors and economic advisors, and I know we want to get a sense for ourselves is, when you go inside the White House is, is how they're - who they're operating and how he's going to continue to do just that.

DICKERSON: Right. Exactly.

Well, I'm really looking forward to it tomorrow with both of you.

O'DONNELL: And you have - you have parts of your interview that you didn't air this morning, right?

DICKERSON: We do. We have - exactly. We have much more of our interview, both at the White House and then on the road with him yesterday, in and around his various things. So we'll be able to dissects all of that.

O'DONNELL: Thanks for having us.

DICKERSON: I can't think of two people I'd rather do it with.

ROSE: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Thanks to both of you.

O'DONNELL: Yes. And Gayle will be with us as well, yes.

DICKERSON: Yes, well, Gayle too, but -


DICKERSON: Thanks, y'all.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

DICKERSON: And we'll be right back.


DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching FACE THE NATION. And I'll see you tomorrow morning on CBS "This Morning." I'm John Dickerson.


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