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CBS NEWS: "THE TAKEOUT" WITH MAJOR GARRETT - INTERVIEW WITH WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MICK MULVANEY

MAY 8, 2019, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MAJOR GARRETT:

Welcome to the very best part of my broadcast week, I'm Major Garrett. Welcome to Martin's Tavern. Never been here before. Georgetown haunt of legendary status. We are back in the dugout of Martin's Tavern. Why do we call it the dugout? Well, because lots of important things happened here over the years. Lyndon Baines Johnson when he was a young congressman studied at the feet of Sam Rayburn, then the House speaker. Those who were involved in drafting the legislation that would lead to the New Deal also met back here.

And M. Stanton Evans, a leader of-- renowned in the conservative movement from the 1950s, also gathered here with fellow likeminded conservatives to plot the end of the New Deal. All of it happened here at Martin's Tavern. Not only that, JFK proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in a booth nearby here. Richard Nixon had a booth here. Lots of famous people, and boy do we have a famous guest this week.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And their beer is really good.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's the voice of Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff to the president of the United States. Mick, great to see you.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It is good to be here. It's good to see you.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Good to see you. So what is the difference in the Trump White House from chief of staff and acting chief of staff?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

None. As I tell people-- short of Mike Pence everybody else in the administration is just acting 'cause the President can remove you at any time for any reason. So it doesn't really make much--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--difference.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--has.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Well, for some folks. I mean, face it, he had some cabinet folks he didn't like, and-- and--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And there's been some White House personnel turnover as well.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, not-- not much, not-- not since I've been there. In fact, I've actually had a couple of people come to me-- right after I took over in December and said they were leaving and they've since come back and said they'd like to stay. So things have-- I think gone really, really well the first five months. Of course, as soon as--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Do you like this--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--I say that--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--job?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I love this job.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Why?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I'm-- I-- we deal with everything-- at-- I mean, yesterday was-- or two days ago was Tiger Woods and Iran sanctions. I mean, come on. I mean, it's just-- for somebody like me with a-- with a broad set of interests and a really short attention span, this is a great job.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Did John Kelly like this job?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I don't think he did-- you know, John is a-- John is a great American, and a-- just a-- one of the finest men--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Your predecessor as chief of staff.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--one of the finest men I've ever known. Not only a four star general, but in my mind, even more so, a gold star father. He's given more to this country than I think any-- anybody else could ever imagine. But he didn't like the job, and that's okay, but he let everybody know he didn't like the job, and that's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

He got off--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--that can--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--to a good start though.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

He did.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

I remember having conversations with you when you thought the early disciplinary or discipline he brought was helpful.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And necessary. And it was a-- we had a really good run there for about six to eight months.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And then what happened?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Don't have any idea. I think he just decided he didn't like the job anymore. But, again, it's fine not to like your job, but when you're a leader you can't let the people working for you know you don't like the job.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

How much of that has to do with the President? Is he hard to work for?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No. I don't think he is, but again-- let-- let-- let-- let--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Some people think he is.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

He is. But let me-- let me see if this makes any sense. I-- I-- I'm der-- I'm guessing-- at most this is an educated guess. John Kelly spent 40 plus years in the Marines, okay? That-- that is a military culture, military lifestyle, he's a military guy. That's not Donald Trump, and that's not the Donald Trump White House. So while that militaristic sort of approach was necessary to sort of get things back on track after the first couple of months of the administration, wasn't the right long term plan. It's just like you take over a business that's having difficulty, the same team that turns it around is not the same team that runs it long term.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Tax cuts happen under his watch. He told me he created a discipline that helped that happen, true?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And-- and he's absolutely right.

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Credit for--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Absolutely, listen, credit for a lot of things. We-- we are better now. He-- he-- he left the place better than he found it, which is all you can, I think, ask for as a manager-- had some huge successes-- did not have any huge failures, which is important to what we do, I mean, 'cause face it, we live on the-- on the razor's edge every single day. You're either, you know, half a step away from true glory, or half a step away from, you know, real--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Ultimate failure.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--trouble. Yeah, and-- and he did not make any big mistakes, and I give him credit for that.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Couple of questions, long term-- any doubt in your mind what so ever Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2020?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Zero. None. Absolutely not.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Any doubt at all he will win re-election?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No. Not re-- as-- as things stand right now, if election were today, we'd win, going away.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Election's not today.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It's not. But a couple different reasons, why-- why are we confident? Not supremely confident, we're cautiously optimistic. Number one-- it is the economy stupid at the end of the day, it really is. And you can't do any better than we've been doing. Everybody said we couldn't do it. They gave all kinds of reasons for why we could not achieve this level of growth. I know you wanna talk about 3% versus 2% GDP growth.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Stop right there. Tell my audience-- (LAUGH) it sounds-- here-- here-- here-- here's the story, it sounds like a 1% difference. You argue otherwise?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

So I'm sitting there-- when Trey Gowdy, who's a dear friend of mine, probably one of my best friends--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Been on the show.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--yeah, he-- he and Tim Scott and I hang out. We're all from South Carolina, we all got elected together in 2010. So we're at dinner one night when I'm rolling out MAGAnomics, Make America Great Economics, which is this-- sort of the-- the theme we came up with, with-- everything to try to get us back to 3% growth. And we kept talking about 3% growth. And Gowdy asked me, "What-- what is it now?" And I said, "Well, it's about 1.9% or 2%."

He said, "Well, Mick, that doesn't sound like that big of a difference, it's only 1% difference." I'm like, "Trey, it's not. The difference between 2% growth and 3% growth, it's a 50% difference," which is why I was the budget director and Trey was on the judiciary committee. We just don't--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Cheese plate, thank you.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We did not let Trey work with numbers.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Luis is our waiter here at Martin's. He's taking care of us. Sotto voce.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

This is-- this is lovely.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Without even me saying anything, things arrive. Isn't that amazing.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Food just appears. That's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Yes, it does.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--nice. So, and it actually looks healthy.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Mildly. We don't-- we don't get too deeply in the health thing at the The Takeout, as you well know. (LAUGH)

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Anyway, so--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And it-- there's also a practical difference in terms of what 2% to 1% or any 1% differential in GDP means in terms of actual economic activity, and job creation.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Number of jobs, the size of the revenues into the government. The opportunity available to people that you two young people here who are working with you-- this is the first time in their adult lives they've been in a normal American economy. What-- what we saw between 2010 and 2018-- or '16 was not normal. 1%, 2% growth is not normal for the United States.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

People called it a new normal.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

They did, but it's not. And we-- we said again, and again, and again that we thought if you simply did some basic things, and let Americans be Americans you could get back to 3% growth.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

You said today at the Federalist Society that you have achieved something that is structurally different, and this is not a sugar high which I've heard many economists worry about. Explain that.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Sugar high is when you just leave everything the same and you just throw a bunch of money into the system to try and sort of jump start it. We've changed the structure of capital, of business formation, of taxation. We've-- for example, now you're allowed, if you invest in your business-- you're allowed to immedi-- immediately deduct those capital expenses. We've changed the regulatory environment to where-- we just make it easier to do business. That's not a onetime thing. You change a reg-- you-- you can somebody an extra dollar, that's a one dollar stimulus, you change a reg that governs that person's life and that ha-- that affects them to the be-- to the benefit every single day. So we've changed so-- so-- some of the structure, the bones of the economy for the better, and that's why--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

As r-- as such, 3% growth next year?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We think so. Yeah, in fact that's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And the year after that?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

The three per-- the 3.2% we saw in the first quarter, keep in mind-- add to that these two things, typically the last, I don't know, decade or so the first quarter of the year is typically about nine tenths of a point low, okay? It just is. Because of seasonality and so forth. Also, we lost 0.3% of GDP because of the government shutdown.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Correct.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

So you put it all together and we're really some place in the mid fours in the first quarter. That's fantastic for this point in the business cycle.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And you predict that for 2020?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We do. Our budget has got us to 3.2% this year, 3.1% for next year. Again, it's the old normal. It's what the American government-- you take any long period of time throughout our history, pick the-- whatever times you want to, and 3% is about what we do.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

I discussed this last week with our political correspondent, Ed O'Keefe. Goldman Sachs put out a-- projection that unemployment next year will be 3.3%.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Wow. Wow.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Agree?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I think it's in the threes. Keep in mind, now you're--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Does that guarantee the President's re-election?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

N-- I think it does. I absolutely think it does. 'Cause I think people, again, will vote their pocketbooks at the end of the day. But there's also an optimism that comes with that. One of the-- numbers we don't talk about much. I mentioned this today in my federalist speech was the-- the-- the quit number, which is the percentage of people who have been separate by-- from their job by their own choice. And that's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Voluntarily, they left.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, they quit. That's the-- at historic levels. That's people leaving--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What does that tell you?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

They're leaving to take another job, they're leaving to move to another city to take an opportunity, or they're leaving to start their own business. That's optimism. And that's-- that's-- that's an important number because it speaks right to the heart of what people are thinking about their economy.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, lots of others say whatever the numbers are, lots of Americans still are not benefiting, and that will be their cudgel against this President.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Two--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Respond.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Two thirds of Americans paid less tax this year than they did last year because of our tax changes. Most of the folks at the top end of the scale paid more taxes. That's just the facts, and the Democrats can talk about anything they want to, and they can lie about anything they want to, but that's not gonna change the facts.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Are they lying about the economy?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I think they are. They need to. They-- we can't be right, 'cause if we're right they've got nothing to sell.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And you believe you are right, and you believe the voters have made that determination or soon will?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I think they soon will.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's the voice of Mick Mulvaney, I'm Major Garrett. We're at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown. Back for segment two in just a second. (MUSIC)

                                  (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

                                  * * *BEGIN SEGMENT 2* * *

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

My special guest this week, Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff. Take clo-- careful notes, reporters in Washington, this is the interview you wish you had. So--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's very funky music. Where did you get that?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

We can't disclose that.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Oh, I got it, alright.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It's very secret. More secret than even stuff you look at every single day. (LAUGH)

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Which means you don't know.

                                  DONALD TRUMP (ON TAPE):

Major, fantastic.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Thank you, Mr. President. So-- you know Joe Biden.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I've met him a couple of times, yeah.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Formidable competitor against Donald Trump?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Why not?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

People forget D-- Senator Biden has t-- Vice President Biden has tried this a couple times and failed miserably. I don't think he's ever gotten more than 1% in any presidential election. And what he's getting ready to do is really, really hard. I think Biden's what? 75, 76 years old?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Seventy-seven.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, this is a really hard job. What the President--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Harder than he knows?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yes.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Even though he was vice president and watched it for eight years?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, 'cause he didn't run for president. He ran for vice president. That's-- I mean, Mike Pence will tell you there's a difference between running for vice president and running for president. You sort of come in at the end and you give the big speeches after the guys are already nominated, right? But when you're out there on the trail every single day knocking on doors, I've done it-- and it is really, really hard work. I've already had some folks--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Point of clarification. You've knocked on doors, you've not run for president.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yes, I-- I-- I've knocked on doors, asked for votes. I mean, the-- the-- the old fashioned way, which is what you have to do in Ohio, and in New Hampshire, and in South Carolina--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

He's believes and those around him believe he is the blue collar Reagan/Trump Democrat nominee that can eat into the President's base. True or false?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

He's been trying that now-- he's been blue collar Joe for the three or four times he's run for president and it hasn't sold before. Why would it now?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Alright. Let's move on. Today, and we're-- I want you to know, dear listeners, and CBSN viewers, doing this on Wednesday, so a lot of things may happen after this, but we're gonna live in the moment for a second.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It's a slow-- slow news week.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Very slow news week. The President's Attorney General, William Barr, was held in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee today. Your reaction?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I wish we had gotten this much attention when we held Eric Holder in contempt.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

The Obama Attorney General?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We did that, the House voted to hold Eric Holder in con--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Yes.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--and I don't think anybody ever know-- ever found out about it because we couldn't get any-- any media coverage. So, and I think it-- the-- the act today in the House--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Were the-- were-- were-- was the act then more substantive than the act now?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, I think it was fast and furious.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It was about fast and furious. It was document withholding and witness withholding.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Right, and there was actually a crime there. (LAUGH) I mean, it was something that was illegal. I think the one thing everybody agrees on--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Fast and furious, let my audience remember, I-- 'cause I'm not gonna remind them. You remind them. You were involved.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It was-- the-- giving guns to Mexican cartels in order to try and f-- track their whereabouts or something like that. It was--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Correct.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Again, it was a Trey Gowdy thing. I was on the budget committee, he was on judiciary. But-- I-- there, there was actually possible wrong doing. Even-- granted the really, really, really hardcore left won't admit this, but most folks admit this, is that one thing everybody agrees on from the Mueller report is that there was no collusion. It's all a d--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

No conspiracy to conspire with the Russians.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Exactly. All the discussion now is about obstruction, obstruction, right? But there's no underlying--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Have you read the--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--bad behavior--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--Mueller report?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I've read d-- I've not read all 400 pieces-- I've read most of volume two, which is the obstruction thing. I've read about half of the first piece, which is the no collusion part.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Are you proud of the President's behavior in the obstruction section?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

This-- this-- what-- what we do in--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's a yes or no question.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No, it-- no it's not. Keep in mind that-- when you and I are-- are talking and the cam-- and the-- and the microphones are off, and if we were just here tonight having a private dinner we might act differently than we would if we were on live radio, or on live television.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

I certainly would be.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, and (LAUGH) that's just life, and people behave differently when the cameras are not there. So-- so I--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Granted, but now this is recorded for human history.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Absolutely. Let--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Are you proud of it or not?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Put it this way, if Don McGahn, or anybody else had thought that they'd been asked to do something illegal they would have left. I would leave. If the President asked me to break the law, I would leave. Don McGahn worked for 18 months for the President after the incident that's referenced in the Mueller report. I think that speaks--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So he thought it was not--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--much louder--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--illegal, just kooky?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

You have to ask Don that question, but the point of the matter is it's not something that I'm ashamed of as a member of this administration.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Why not?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

'Cause I don't think it was wrong. I-- the President is enti-- the President has the right to hire and fire folks as he sees fit. He could fire someone for no reason, or for any reason.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Let me ask you this because--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And by the way, should. The President is entitled to have the cabinet members that-- that he wants.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Two questions. One, I have gotten to the know the President as a reporter whose been around him, covered his campaign, has some sense of his personality. There is a tendency he has to, for lack of a better phrase, pop off, to either rage, or sort of go into a place where it's not necessarily in order, it's just something he's either spit balling, and he sometimes spit balls with a sense of fury around it, or anger. Is that a fair, general description of some types of his tendencies under moments of stress?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I don't know if it's under moments of stress. So let me just--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Or aggravation.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

External aggravation.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Obviously the President does-- does think out loud. I-- I think he--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, and sometimes in--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--he bounces ideas off of people. We do it all the time. I got asked the other day-- let me see if I can answer your question this way. I got asked the question the other day, have you ever disobeyed a pre-- the President's order. Okay? It's a good question.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I said, "Look--"

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Central.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

"-- let me-- let me turn it back and-- and--" and this is how I answered, I said, "Look, if the President calls me into the office and says, 'Why are we spending money on this, say, foreign aid program?' And I say, 'Oh, I don't know, Mr. Program (SIC)-- Mr. President, I--' look, he goes, 'I don't wanna do that. Stop that money.' I'm like, okay, and I go back and I do the research, and I find out there's a specific line item appropriation for Congress that says I have to spend that money, and I go back to him and say, 'I didn't not spend that money 'cause it's-- the law says I have to.' Have I disobeyed him?"

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

No.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Exactly. I've done--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

You've informed him.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I've inf-- I've done exactly what I was supposed to do, and I think that's-- that's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Do you-- do you--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--that's what happens a lot.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Would you say what happened in the Mueller report and the obstruction section falls into that category?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I would-- I-- gen-- yeah, generally s-- again, I wasn't there. In all fairness, my exposure to what you've read about in the Mueller report comes from reading the Mueller report. I haven't talked to anybody about it afterwards 'cause there's no reason to, and I was not involved with it then. I'm not even in the bibliography, I don't think. So, I'm getting it all sort of through the Mueller report.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right. But you've been around the President, and none of that reads to you like fiction?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Oh-- in terms of the President's behavior, no. In terms of-- of what people said, well, and then I went home, and I wrote a memo, and I put it in a safe. I have no idea, 'cause I mean, I-- I don't if that's fiction or not.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So the White House has ex-- exerted, or as-- assigned to itself executive privilege over some of requested documents from the House Judiciary Committee. Is that in perpetuity? They're never gonna see 'em? That's just it-- gonna be it?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, I would think so. I mean, it-- they're not entitled to see them. Keep in mind what they're asking for. My understanding is that they're asking for the un-redacted Mueller report. The Mueller report was very lightly redacted in the first place.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And the underlying evidence.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Right, well, let's-- let's deal with that a second, okay? Which is the Mueller report was lightly redacted in the first place, and redacted for reasons that everybody agrees are the right reasons to redact it. I think most of the redactions, and it-- it was very lightly-- I think it's less than 10% of the report was redacted in the first place.

But almost all of that was redactions related to ongoing criminal investigations, mostly I think Michael Cohen and a couple other people. That's the law. The other part that's redacted is grand jury testimony, which is also legally supposed to be redacted. So the stuff that Congress saw is the stuff that everybody who's got any sense about them knows needed by law to be redacted. We then made it available in an un-redacted fashion, I think, to a couple of very high ranking members of the committee.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, which they found insufficient.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I-- I'm not sure how they find it insufficient. It's everything that there is. Now, that goes to the second part of your question about the-- the underlying documents and stuff, and this is where we sort of draw an even firmer line. They are not the Department of Justice. They-- they do have a-- they do have a right, by the way, it's not in the Constitution, it's been implied in the Constitution by the Supreme Court to have some oversight, okay?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Yes.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And they have a right--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It is implied, and precedential. It's not in the Constitution.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Bingo. They have the right to do that. That's fine. That doesn't mean they get to second guess the Department of Justice. That doesn't mean they get to s-- to sort of supplement their decision for the s-- for the decision of the Attorney General. They are not the executive branch of government. They are there to make law, and their oversight is supposed to be related to their process of making law, and that's not what happened-- that's not what's happening right now.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But there is an assertion from this White House on a lot of subpoenas, on a lot of requests from the House Democratic majority, no. You-- the answer to you is no. And I wanna read you a story today written by Adam Liptak in the New York Times. Here's the lead. "President Trump's wholesale refusal to provide information to Congress threatens to upend the delicate balance that is the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution." That's the lead.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It's a complete hyperbole.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It quotes a gentleman named William P. Marshall, a law professor at the University of North Carolina. "A President who refuses to respond to congressional oversight is taking the presidency to new levels of danger. We're supposed to be in system of checks and balances, and one of the biggest checks that Congress has over the executive is the power of congressional oversight."

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Can I s--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Respond.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Can I see that for a second?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Yeah, sure.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

What's the date on that? Is that--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Today.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Is that-- is that--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

November-- May 7th. Today.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

So that's not 2012 when Obama was denying all of our subpoenas that we sent him? All of our requests for documentation? I-- listen, my-- my firsthand experience with this actually deals more with the CFPB and Richard Cordray who would-- wouldn't even agree to come see us in committee-- without getting--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Remind my audience what--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--CFPB is.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I'm sorry?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Remind my audience--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Oh, the-- the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. My point is that that could have just as easily been written about the Obama administration. There is a-- natural--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And that it wasn't then and is now--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

There's a nat--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--tells you what?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

There's a natural--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What are you saying?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

There's a natural tension between the executive branch and the legislative branch, and every time one types to reach-- tends to reach-- tries to reach into the other, the one-- other one pushes back.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, but are you saying it's only topical, or New York Times topical when the litigant is President Trump and the majority is House Democrats.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

My guess is they didn't write that same piece about President Obama.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And what does that tell you?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That they're--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What are you asserting?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I'm-- I'm asserting bias. There's no question about it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's the voice of Mick Mulvaney. I'm Major Garrett, we're at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown. Back in a moment. (MUSIC)

                                  (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

                                  * * *BEGIN SEGMENT 3* * *

                                  ANNOUNCER:

From CBS News, this is The Takeout with Major Garrett.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Welcome back, Major Garrett here. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is our guest. It is said today--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I'm-- I'm-- I'm sorry, but we have to get you some new music.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

No, no.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's just not you. That doesn't fit.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's okay. We-- we're-- we're living with it. It's really good. That's really good. We love it.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

This is such a good show but I don't know.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It is such a good show. There is no question about that. So it is said, Mr. Mulvaney, that Donald Trump Junior today was subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is-- run by a Republican. True?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I understand it to be true. Yeah, I found out about that just before I came over here.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Implications?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I have no idea.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Scared?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Again, I have no opinion about it because he is a private citizen and not a member of the administration. That being said, the fact that the President's son got a-- subpoena from a Republican led committee, and I-- listen, I'm all for bipartisanship on the-- on intel committees. I think it's one of Adam Schiff's great failings is to-- is to-- sort of politicize the intel committee in the House. So-- I have no difficultly with bipartisanship but to subpoena the President of the United States' son and at least get a heads up I thought was, let's say bad form.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So what you're telling me is there was no heads up?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I didn't know about it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, do you believe the President did?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I have no idea-- actually, in-- in fairness, I don't know 'cause he left for Florida today before--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Doesn't feel like it though?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I did-- all I can tell you what I know is-- and I know-- I didn't know.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, and let's just say, ladies and gentleman, Mick Mulvaney would be in a position to know.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

(LAUGH) Under most-- well, again, may-- maybe not, because again, he's a private citizen, not a member of the administration. But it was be har-- highly unlikely that it would end up in the White House and I wouldn't know about it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Let me ask you this--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Possible. Possible, but not likely.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Possible but not likely. So--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, I'm not involved in the President's-- his-- his legal matters regarding his business, his legal-- legal-- legal matters regarding his family. I-- I-- I don't do that. I handle the west wing of the government.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, but it is a matter of more than general concern. I mean, any-- anything dealing with something like this, it would have to rise to your level.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I have no I-- zero-- and I'm not making this up, I have no idea as to what the-- the factual allegations are. I know-- I mean, I know it deals with a Trump Tower discussion or something like that, but again, my knowledge of this comes mostly from reading media reports because I'm not involved with that in the White House.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So-- I want you to speak to my audience, nationwide--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I thought I was speaking to your audience nationwide?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--about this question, because they heard, I suspect, something from the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, earlier this week, which was this, "Case closed." So they say, you know what, I kind of agree. But then they hear the Republican led intelligence community-- committee subpoenas the President's son. Well, that doesn't sound like case closed. What would you tell them?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

They're two different people. They-- they do share the same name, and certainly Don Junior is the President's son, but I think when m-- what Mr. McConnell was speaking to was that the President has been exonerated. There was no collusion, and no obstruction, period, end of story. Now it's time to move onto the business of government. Does that mean that other individuals may or may have not done other things? I have no idea, but I think that's what Mr. McConnell was speaking to was the implications for the President of the United States. There is no reason that McConnell would go to the floor to talk about Don Junior. That's just not gonna happen. He was talking about the President.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Got it. So the treasury secretary this week informed Richard Neil, the chairman of the house of ways and means committee that the treasury department after consulting the justice department will not provide the President's taxes. You've gone on the record saying Congress will never see them. You--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's absolutely right.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Why?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Because they're not entitled to see them by law. They-- by the way, they know, especially on this one, they know they're never gonna get these documents. This is a pure show pony type of situation. They know the legal reasons they can get those documents, and they--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Legislate-- legitimate legislative function.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Right, and they-- they're not even close to that. They're doing it-- ask 'em, you come in-- bring 'em in here and throw a couple beers in 'em, they'll tell you they're just doing this to make the President look bad. They don't care. This is not about information about the President. Keep in mind all of the President's financial holdings, by law, are disclosed. You wanna know what the President owns? You wanna know how he makes money? All of that stuff is by law disclosed. I have to fill out my form by the end of next week. So does he, okay? This is just about trying to embarrass the President--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What's embarrassing about his tax records?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's what-- that's what they wanna know.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Well, what is--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's what they want--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But what is it?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I don't know 'cause I've never seen them.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Is there something embarrassing about his tax records?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I have no idea 'cause I don't see-- and I don't care, and more importantly, voters don't care. Keep in mind, everybody knew. Everybody who cared knew that the President didn't produce his tax records before the election and they voted for him anyway. So from a political perspective this debate is over. The Democrats are trying to continue that political conversation--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

When you hear--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--and there's no reason to do it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--that the New York legislature may seek to obtain them, or California and its legislature is saying if you don't disclose your tax returns you cannot appear on the ballot. What's the White House reaction?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It's a-- it's a really interesting que-- I have-- I-- this is not an official reaction 'cause we've not had a chance to discuss it. It's a really interesting question as to whether or not-- you know, the states do control their own ballot.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And ballot access.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Exactly. So that's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It is a state's right to--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

So there's an interesting--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--and it has long been.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--there's an interesting aspect of that.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And-- and under the federal-- federalism-- yes.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Absolutely. So that's an interesting aspect of it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

As a conservative I would think you would think that is--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I'm-- I'm--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--within it-- within its boundaries--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

My natural inclin--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--and purview.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

My natural inclination was to-- was to devolve more power to the states. At the same time, is it relevant? 'Cause I got news for you, Democrats are gonna win California and New York anyway.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Okay. So the President doesn't need to be on the ballot?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

He's still going to win re-election without California and New York. I mean, I-- I-- I think if the--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's news, right there.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

If the election-- if the election were today--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

The President of the United States will win re-election without California or New York. Of course.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yes, he did win-- he-- he--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Hey, he won the first time, of course.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I mean, the last Republican to win California and New York I think was-- was-- was Reagan.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Yes.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

So, I mean, you can be elected a president-- you can be a-- Republican elected a president without New York and California, and he's going to be.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

There you go. I wanna ask you--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Did I really make news by--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--a little bit about--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--saying he's not gonna win California?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

No, no. I wanna ask you about this. That he doesn't care about being on the ballot, because--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I didn't say that. I didn't say that.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So he d-- he does wanna be on the ballot in California?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yes, absolutely.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Okay, because that is the state that provided the highest number of Trump votes. (LAUGH)

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, and it's good for the party and all of that.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Just because there's 33 and a half million people there.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And we're gonna-- we're gonna-- we're gonna-- we're gonna fight to be on the ballot. You asked me a question about legalities of it, I think it's a very interesting legal question.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

It is a very interesting legal question. Back to our conversation about Don McGahn. So there's an interesting dialogue that goes on quite separate from the President in this regard, if the newly elected President, neither-- whether it's Donald Trump or anyone else gives an order, and it's not carried out, do we have a functioning presidency in a republic as we've constitutionally understood it? Yes or no?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Well, again, go back to my example. The President gave me an instruction to stop funding this piece of foreign aid. And we still funded it. Did-- did the government stop functioning or did the government function exactly the way it's supposed to function?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right, but-- but in this case, as you well know, this is about a personnel matter of which the executive has authority. And if the executive, meaning the chief executive, gives an order, and it's not carried out within the purview of the executive branch itself, do we have a functioning presidency?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

If the President comes to me today and says, "Look-- I want you to-- to fire and so and so, okay?" I might go back to him tomorrow and make sur-- "Mr. President, you-- I'm getting ready to do this, you sure about this one?" That's just good-- that's good-- that's a good partnership between a-- chief of staff and a president, between the president and the White House council, especially on big decision, do you wanna have a chance to think about it? Look, we-- we did-- we took some--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That sounds like some-- to quote Don McGahn according to the Mueller report, some crazy S.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No it's not. Not-- not at all.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's what-- that's what the Mueller report--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Well, I think-- I think-- I think Don's wrong about that. I think that's just-- that's good staff work. If the President tells you to do something of tremendous import-- and you--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Political and otherwise.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And otherwise. And you say, look, let's think about this overnight. What's wrong with that?

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Understood.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Goodness gracious, that's-- that's-- that's what we should be doing.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Let me ask you about some pending potential business on the Hill. Infrastructure, are you comfortable with two trillion dollars, yes or no?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Comfortable? If we can pay for it, yeah. I think I've said a couple times it's relatively, in-- in the world of government, relatively easy to find a trillion. Once you start inching up above that it gets harder and harder. And I'm not sure you can get to two trillion without new sources of revenue.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Let's go to that. Is this administration or will it ever be in favor of increasing the gasoline tax?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I don't-- I don't think so. I don't see us doing that.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

How about indexing it?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I don't-- I-- I-- listen, the President is not interested-- the President happens worked so hard to make sure people have more money. That's what our whole economic policy has been about. It's working. Wages are going up for the first time in a long time. People are making more money for the first time in a long time. To turn around then and take money away from them through higher taxes is just not consistent with what he's about.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Some economists would say he's doing that with tariffs.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

The-- keep in mind though the tariffs are-- the tariffs are there for a reason. And I think we've established this in a-- in a bunch of different circumstances. The President will tell you, and even hardcore free traders, Larry Kudlow, will tell you this, that the only reason China is talking to us now about fixing the structural deficiencies in our trade relationship is because we've put tariffs on them. So they are a very powerful tool to get people to talk to you.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Reminding my audience, this is Wednesday. Friday night coming, midnight, is a deadline. Will there be increased tariffs on China?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I think so. The President has said that there would be, and-- we're not making enough progressive. We had-- making some-- but not enough. Also, between tonight-- tonight and Saturday night-- the Chinese Vice Premier-- expects to Washington, DC, so--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But you know, and I know that it will be almost impossible to wrap everything up in that one day meeting.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, but, you know, look-- listen, we're interested in seeing progress-- and if there's progress--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But to-- to pin you down on this, it's not only-- it's not-- as I've heard it, the lack of progress, it is a regression.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, there was certainly that. There was. There's no question.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Spell it out.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

They-- they went back on some of things that-- that we thought--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Spell it out.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--we had agreed on. I don't know what-- I can't give you more details than that, but we-- we thought we had-- we had agreement in principal on a couple--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

They were less--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--of things.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--they were less willing, as I've read and been told, to commit to the kind of enforcement mechanisms that would be central to their legal system and give us a degree of confidence about that.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I think the thing that I saw-- it was-- maybe we're not saying--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Maybe it--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--vernacular.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--something that's-- that-- yeah, that's not any different is that-- they were-- hemming and hawing about how easy it might be to get their legislature to pass some things to enforce to-- to enact the agreement.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's the voice Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff to the president of the United States, Donald Trump. I'm Major Garrett. We're at Martin's in Georgetown. Back in a second.

                                  (BREAK IN TAPE)

                                  * * *BEGIN SEGMENT 4* * *

                                  ANNOUNCER:

(IN PROGRESS) --BS News. This is The Takeout with Major Garrett.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's me. Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff, president of the United States--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's me.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--is with us. Do you want to be the president of the University of South Carolina?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Ever?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No. A friend of mine was on the board of trustees there, and he asked me about it last Thanksgiving before the I got the chief's job. And then we had one conversation over coffee, and that was it--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Absolute no, right?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, no. Non-issue.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Do you want to be the commerce secretary?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Okay. This is the last job you'll have in the Trump administration?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I think so. Yeah.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Will you have it on election day 2020?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

If he's happy with me, yeah. I like the job. I'd like to stay.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Okay, good.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I-- I would think what does a successful chief-- tenure look like? Taking us through the next-- 18 months, winning reelection, helping the president put together both his team, and his agenda for the second-- for the second term, and then doing somethin' else.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Let me ask you about immigration. What is this administration's approach to trying to engage Congress to change the laws and appropriate the money, a substantial number of billions you've asked for, to deal with the situation on the border?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Trying to-- break it down into small pieces. I met-- personally with several members-- Democrat members of the Senate. And this was essentially m-- my message. I said, "Look, it is a crisis." And I think now everybody agrees. In fact, the New York Times this week said it was a crisis.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

The numbers are a--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Staggering.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--fundamentally different--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yes.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--context and character. That is a fact, ladies and gentlemen--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Now, four months ago when we said that, Nancy Pelosi didn't believe me. She said she thought we were lying. This is back during the shutdown. Now, I think everybody recognizes--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Human beings are involved.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's exactly right. We are-- we were right. This is a humanitarian crisis. It's a security crisis. You have to do something. So we went to them and said, "Look, let's not-- we're not trying to solve everything. We need to solve this."

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

What's happening now at the border.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What do you need?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We're out of money. In the next couple of weeks, DHS will not have enough money to do its job. HHS will not have enough money to do its job. And by that, I mean they won't have enough money to-- to-- to hold people, okay? It's out of money. And--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Then what--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--you--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--then what happens?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We-- we're closed. We-- we-- we can't function--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Then they're all released?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

It's against the law for us to spend money that's unappropriated.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That means they're all released?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I don't know what happens. We've never gotten to that point. Secondly, the laws need to be changed. Because right now--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

You need money in two weeks?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Between two and seven depending on different agencies. So-- un-- unaccompanied child-- this is not about child separation. That's what I told them. And I think they understand this. If an unaccompanied child comes in now, they're held by-- by-- DHS for 72 hours. And they're supposed to be given to HHS.

But if HHS doesn't have space for them, which they don't, DHS can't do anything. They can't hold 'em for longer than that because of the Flores agreement. They can't give 'em to HHS 'cause HHS doesn't have the space. They can't turn 'em over to an NGO 'cause that's against the law. Non-government organization. And they can't send them back where they came from because that's against the law.

So literally these children are stateless. They're-- they're-- they're nothing, and we can't do anything with 'em. And that needs to be fixed. And I think some of-- of the Democrats who are willing to-- to-- you know, some-- some are running for president and they've checked out. But the ones who are serious about the issue are taking this seriously.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Right. But they also believe you have a structural problem at DHS, lots of turnover. And they believe zero tolerance led to an unnecessarily cruel policy of family separation.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, but unnec-- child separation has noth--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

They have a hard time dealing with you because of that sense of grievance.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

That's fine. And I get that, which is why we're down there and why we've got Kevin McAleenan down there now doing a good job. I think he's got a lot of credibility--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Acting secretary of DHS.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And a career guy. A really good guy--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Is he gonna be the permanent nominee--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

You know, I don't know. It's a good question. I-- l-- let's see how he handles the-- the-- this-- this situation right now. But there's no way you can say that what we're f-- experiencing at the border now is tied to child separation. 'Cause if anything-- if anything, there's no way that child separation could encourage more people to come to this country.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

True enough.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

So the-- the-- we--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But it also-- from their point of view would say, these-- that means or suggests-- doesn't mean. It suggests possibly that these asylum claims are real, that their fear of violence or economic privation is real. Real enough that they would take this great--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Fine.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--personal risk.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

And if it's real, they get to stay. It does. The facts are that I think it's more than 80% of-- of people who are adjudicated on their asylum claims get denied. Economic deprivation is not a basis for asylum. Just because you don't have an opportunity or you're poor in your home country doesn't mean you get to come to the United States. You have to be in-- in-- in-- in incredible fear for your own safety and security.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So let's go around the globe quickly.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Oh, goodness gracious. The lightning round.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Yes, the lightning round.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

All right. Fire away.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Why is a strike group with a carrier being moved to Iran? And why does the country believe or the Pentagon believe that there is enough intelligence to suggest the Iranians want to attack U.S. personnel?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I won't speak to the intelligence, you know, 'cause that's-- that's obviously stuff that I can't talk about public--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But the Pentagon has gone on the record of saying, "Th-- we've picked up things that give us concern."

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, but I'm not gonna tell you what they are. I'm sorry. I misunderstood your question. Why-- why are they there? For the same reason we've been there for a long time. We have specific interests in the region. We have troops, for example, in Iraq. We have good allies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and-- and-- and Bahrain. We have-- we have military assets there to protect.

We have interests in the region. We have an interest in seeing the oil continue to flow through the Straits of Hormuz even though we don't import very much of it, by the way. Most of our imported oil actually comes from Canada, believe it or not, and Mexico. So we-- there is-- there is an inter--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

And at one time, Venezuela.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, exactly. It's an international interest that we have an interest in in s-- making sure that the shipping lanes stay open. So this is what the American Navy does. It goes--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Should the average American be more or less concerned about the prospect of military confrontation with Iran?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Less. I-- I--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Less?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, I-- I-- I-- I-- I think that-- I-- I don't want to guess at the future. But we-- we are not going to war-- in Iran. I think what you're gonna see is-- us over there to enforce-- and protect our interests. I mean, Iran is going through some real tough times right now. It's one of the reasons we-- you know, they're acting--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Increased s-- sanctions.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

The sanctions are bad. Inflation is terrible.

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But the Europeans are getting increasingly concerned about them pulling out of some measures of the Iran nuclear deal, which this administration a year ago got out of.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah. And I think we got out of it because we were right and the Europeans were wrong. We said, "Look, the Iranians are interested in building nuclear weapons." And I think one of the reasons you hear them sort of hemming and hawing about that is they're still interested in doing it. The Europeans are now just finally realizing it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

North Korea. Provocative actions, provocative language. And the North Koreans today it was confirmed by the U.S. no longer cooperating in the r-- return of remains of U.S. personnel from the Korean conflict. It seems like so many of the things that looked at least initially positive have come a cropper.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I can't comment on the second one 'cause in all fairness I'm hearing something I've not heard before about the-- the-- the-- the return of the remains.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That was confirmed by the agency involved today.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Okay, thank-- I-- I believe you. I just-- I've not heard that, so I won't comment on it. The-- regarding--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

The leader of that who's been on this show. And we've talked--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I-- I believe it.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--about it. And I care about--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--this issue a lot.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

I believe you. And you should. And it's an important issue. We care about it. I just don't-- you're telling me something I don't know. So I don't want to comment about it. The-- regarding the-- the supposed provocation, very minor. These were very minor-- projectiles. They were-- very short term--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

How about the rhetoric?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

They w-- the rhetoric is not--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Pompeo, Bolton.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No. Listen. The-- the rhetoric-- I'm more concerned about the rhetoric coming out of North Korea. These missiles-- whatever they were, whatever you want to call them, they were very small and n-- not aimed at Japan, not aimed at-- at Guam. They were aimed up the North Korean coast. So it's a very non-provocative provocation, if there is such a thing. So-- look--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

You're looking for ways to describe it as such it sounds to me--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Well, you know, the relationship between-- Kim Jong Un and the president still remains good. We are still confident that we have-- additional talks. We want additional talks. We think it's--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Do you want another summit?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Eventually, yeah, I think we do. Keep in mind, the reason the president walked away last time-- and I was there. I was at the table.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

So was I.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah. Was that-- we just got the impression they were not really willing to negotiate. They were not willing to actually bargain. And they gave us an offer, and-- and, you know-- take-it-or-leave-it offer five different times and assumed-- we couldn't take it. So we had to leave it. So when they're ready to actually have a negotiation, we-- we do want to continue those discussions--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Venezuela: What is the policy? It looks as if it's adrift.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We-- no, the policy's not adrift. We continue to support Guaido. We are not-- you know, while all options are-- on the table and we mean that seriously, so you can read that--

                                  (OVERTALK)

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But the Pentagon is not a fan of this. You know that.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

The presi-- the Pentagon will do what the president wants them to do. That's what they're there to do. So we cont--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

But I'm not wrong about that.

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We look at all options. No, I-- I-- no, I-- I'm gonna disagree with you. I'm gonna say that-- we're gonna do what we have to do down there. But clearly--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

What do we have to do? And what's in (UNINTEL)--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

We are gonna-- we are gonna support the Guaido--

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

Are we gonna make sure he--

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

--government.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

--becomes the new leader?

                                  MICK MULVANEY:

No, I-- I-- I-- I think-- I-- I don't think we're gonna take affirmative action to make him become the leader. We're gonna continue to back him. Is it moving slower-- than some people thought that it might? Perhaps. But that doesn't mean that-- that things are over by any means down there.

                                  MAJOR GARRETT:

That's the voice of Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff to the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. I'm Major Garrett. We're at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown. Thanks for joining us. See you next week.

                                  (BREAK IN TAPE)

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