President Trump: Hello Sharyl.
Sharyl: Hello Mr. President. Today on Full Measure, our interview with President Trump, on a week when tax reform was a hot topic. Who is it that's fighting for a piece of this tax reform, maybe fighting against the interests of ordinary Americans?
President Trump: the Swamp Sharyl. It's the swamp
Sharyl: But we also wanted to ask him about Russia. Have you been told to expect to be questioned by the special counsel?
President Trump: No, no nobody's told me.
Sharyl: And we asked about terrorism. Do you think Americans are safer than they were a year ago, two years ago?
President Trump: I think we are.
Sharyl: And about the biggest threat facing America. On North Korea, In a recent poll, 50 percent of Americans said it's somewhat likely that North Korea will use a nuclear weapon to attack North America. Do you agree?
Hello, I'm Sharyl Attkisson. Welcome to Full Measure. This week President Trump agreed to speak with us about a topic front and center in the lives of many Americans: taxes. Republicans just unveiled their new plan to update and simplify the U.S. tax code. But we also had questions on other topics. On immigration and terrorism.
Sharyl: On Russia, nobody admitted it during the campaign that we now know it was the Hillary Clinton campaign that funded that so-called dossier that had all the negative information that's unproven about you apparently in an attempt to affect the election. It was given to the FBI. What do you make of that?
President Trump: Well I think it's terrible I think it's despicable the amount of money that I hear being thrown around is ridiculous. Somebody said that this guy Steele that wrote it and we'll figure that out eventually that he paid money to the Russians. And frankly, if that was, in fact, Russia involved they don't like me very much just the opposite of what people were saying. And you know I have said over the last period of time the last person they want is me because I want a strong, strong military which I've proven in many ways and that was part of my campaign. And I also want lower oil prices and lots of oil which is not good for Russia. So I would think I would be the last one. But when you look at that horrible dossier which is a total phony fake deal like so much of the news that I read when you look at that and take a look at what's gone on with that and the kind of money we're talking about it is a disgrace.
Sharyl: The origins of the dossier supposedly is conservative funding. What does that tell you?
President Trump: Well I heard the other day that it might be and then I heard that basically they started something but the Democrats really took it up and started it and then the question is did the FBI get involved with it. And did the FBI use it? Because if they did that's a real problem for them. So we'll find out. But I have a feeling that the Democrats started it I'm sure the conservatives started something else but it was a much more mellow situation and they did say they didn't hire Steele and the phony people that worked on it.
Sharyl: Do you think Mueller is doing a good job?
President Trump: But we're going to see. Look all I can say is that I have nothing to do with Russian collusion nothing whatsoever and everybody knows it and nobody really has even been able to find you know with all of these committee meetings. They walk out even the other side they say well there's been no collusion yet but we continue to look. I've been watching this for how long has it been a year? It's very unfair. It's very bad for our country. But with all of the work that the Democrats are trying to do to obstruct and to you know false charges every time I see them walking out they're saying even Dianne Feinstein that no collusion and I respect her for saying it. I'll be honest with no collusion. But there are at these meetings and they go through documents and there is no collusion. Russia wouldn't help me. And I think the last one Russia would want to be president is me because of my attitude on oil and because of my attitude on the military and strength.
Sharyl: Do you think you would ever consider trying to have Mueller removed are you planning to stay out of that?
President Trump: Well I hope he's treating everything fairly and if he is I'm going to be very happy because when you talk about innocent I am truly not involved in any form of collusion with Russia. Believe me. But the last thing I can think of to be involved in.
Sharyl: Who wasn't you remember who convinced you to take Paul Manafort on as the campaign manager?
President Trump: Well it was a friend of mine who was a businessman very successful businessman and a good person. And you know Paul was not there very long. What people don't mention Paul was not there for a very long period of time.
Sharyl: What was it that convinced him that he had to be let go?
President Trump: Well I think we found out something about him may be involved with or with certain nations and I don't even know exactly what it was in particular but there was a point at which we just felt Paul would be better off because we don't want to have any potential conflicts. And if there was a conflict I don't want to be involved in any conflicts even though it was I could have kept them longer. I don't think anybody would have complained. But we don't want to have any potential conflicts of interest at all.
Sharyl: Have you questioned why the businessman who brought you his name do you want to say that that is.
President Trump: I don't want to get him involved he's a private person.
Sharyl: Have you questioned why he brought him to the campaign or you think that was just it just happened in a way.
President Trump: Look people don't realize Paul Manfort worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. I think the firm was involved with many people I don't have to mention names but I heard they were involved with John McCain who's an honorable guy. They were involved with many people I mean many many people. I certainly wasn't the first. This was a firm that was well known in Washington for years and represented many many big people politically speaking. And Ronald Reagan being number one. So the reputation I always felt was very good and I had him for a very short period of time you know he was only in there for a very finite period of time. But you know I feel badly for him because I was going to be really a very nice person.
Sharyl: Last question on this topic have you been told to expect to be questioned by the special counsel. Are you prepared for that?
President Trump: No. Nobody's told me. As far as I'm concerned I have been told that we were under investigation. I'm not under investigation. You know when it comes to Russia collusion. They're looking at the wrong person absolutely the wrong person. So I don't even to the best of my knowledge my lawyers told me I'm not even under investigation. I have not been told that at all.
Sharyl: On terrorism. You've just called for an end to the diversity lottery visa that allows Sayfullo Saipov into the U.S. what would replace it what's your idea in a nutshell?
President Trump: Why don't think replace it. I think that the whole element. Are you talking about the lottery system. It's a ridiculous thing. We do we take it like a lottery like who knows who they put in there. And I guarantee you these countries they don't put their finest in the lottery system. They put people probably in many cases that they don't want. Why is this country doing it. The lottery system has to end. And what we want Sharyl we want it very badly and we want it you know as far as immigration is concerned we've been treated so badly and we've handled immigration prior to me because we have been very tough on it but we've handled immigration in the United States so poorly. We want a merit-based system
Sharyl: When it comes to Islamic extremist terrorism. Do you think Americans are safer today than they were a year ago two years ago?
President Trump: I think we are. I think that we have a much tougher vetting process. I call it extreme vetting. We are very strong with our vetting. But people can slip through. But I say as strong as we are we have to get stronger. This person came in through a lottery and not only came in through a lottery but you have this whole system where you can bring people with you chain migration it's horrible it's horrible. Somebody had mentioned he may have brought. And he only had a green card. But twenty three people may have come in indirectly or directly through him. Now I don't want those people and family members whoever they may be I don't want them and you saw what he did and you saw his evilness because they go back to the town or they go back to the area where he grew up not where he's lived even you go back to the country as I understand it. I mean this is not the kind of people we want in the United States so we have to get rid of chain migration.
Sharyl: I feel like ordinary Americans every time there's another terrorist attack or a similar pathology they start to feel helpless now that there's been tough talk for years and yet nothing concrete they can point to that will prevent another one. I think some people are actually adjusting their expectations and thinking this is our new way of life.
President Trump: I know they are in a lot of people do that. And frankly the Democrats have been absolutely terrible on immigration because they want anybody to come in. You know they obstruct make it very tough and they want on immigration and crime. I mean they want people to just pour in over the border. That's not going to happen. And we're stopping it. Now we want a merit-based system. I don't want people to come into our country but it's got to be a merit-based system and we can take that for the norm. What you just said we cannot just say oh well it's going to happen let's get used to it. We cannot allow it to happen. And we're getting I can tell you the Trump administration is getting tougher and tougher and tougher and we are now as you know looking at different forms of the wall. The wall is going to happen. The vetting is now at a point that is the toughest it's ever been and we're now going to make it even tougher. But this person this animal that did what he did in the West Side of Manhattan we just can't allow this to continue.
Sharyl: Next, the effort to change our tax system …when there are so many competing interests in The Swamp.
Sharyl: House Republicans have unveiled their idea for a simpler tax code that benefits the middle class. It's sure to be popular with a lot of taxpayers. But not necessarily with special interests pulling strings in Washington. And some Democrats say the plan is a giveaway to wealthy and corporate interests. I asked President Trump some tax questions I thought you might like to ask.In 2018, will I, or most Americans anyway, be able to fill out their taxes on a postcard do you think?
President Trump: Well I do think so. I do think so and I actually had one over here someplace but I won't show you all the way.
Sharyl: I want to see it.
President Trump: I don't think I have it in here It's too bad. Does anybody have one? But we have literally a one-page form smaller than this is the size of that.
Sharyl: Smaller than this?
President Trump: About half the size of that. And most people will be able to do that. Most people will be able to fill out their taxes on average very small form.
Sharyl: You know Democrats and Republicans have told me and others behind the scenes that almost every decision is made in Washington is not really necessarily about the people it's about the interests that are lobbying them and pressing for different measures. Who is it that's fighting for a piece of this tax reform maybe fighting against the interests of ordinary Americans.
President Trump: The swamp, Sharyl. The Swamp. It's unbelievable. Every single deduction everything there. People are fighting for right or wrong. I mean in some cases it's a good thing that they're fighting other cases. Everybody knows it's wrong but they're fighting nevertheless because people benefit by it. But it's a middle-class tax cut. It's a massive tax cut. It's also reform it's also simplification. But more than anything else it's a tremendous tax cut. It's going to be great for the middle class and great for jobs and business. And when I say great for business I'm doing that because of jobs.
Sharyl: Mortgage interest deduction after all the negotiations do you think it stays?
President Trump: Well we're going to see. I mean look we will be talking about certain elements and we're going to see we have. Nothing. We're going through a very complicated process right now. There are many many things such as that right now totally up in the air. We're going to see you know the Senate has something to say about it too. I can tell you this The House has been amazing. I have watched what they've done and will look into make it as final as possible but the Senate is going to come out with their version and then everybody's going to sit in a room and hopefully it's going to happen. And I think it will happen because people know we're one of the highest taxed nations in the world. We're not competitive with other nations. And now we're going to be among the lower-taxed nations. I'd like to say it's the lowest but we can't get there yet. We may get there in the future.
Sharyl: It sounds like there are odds that even though the House has gotten their tax plan out there maybe this doesn't go through. If the Senate fights with the House and Republicans don't all get on board.
President Trump: I don't think so. I'll tell you what. I've been doing a lot of this. We've actually had a lot of bills passed despite what people think I think I heard that number 70 and it's almost a record. And you know if you listen to the fake media the fake news from some of these people like CNN they are so false in so many different networks. I mean the level of false reporting to me somebody said what's the biggest surprise. The amount of dishonesty of the press. But if you listen to a lot of the media you know I didn't do well with bills passed meaning Congress meaning Senate and House. Well, the fact is that we've almost we're almost at the top of the pack. We have I think it's approximately 70 bills have been passed and many of them very important in addition to that we have Justice Gorsuch who is fantastic. We're putting in tremendous numbers of federal judges which is the great unsung thing that we're doing we're opening up the regulations. Now we're going for the massive tax cuts. I mean we've done really a lot. And I'm very proud of it. We've had, I think, a great nine months.
Sharyl: The current head of the IRS John Koskinen gave false information to Congress and the targeting of conservatives disobeyed a federal judge's order to provide documents. Presided over the IRS when subpoenaed documents were destroyed and taxpayers were hacked. Awarded a lucrative contract to Equifax after the credit bureau failed to protect the credit of 145 million Americans. Why is he still the head of the IRS.
President Trump: Well a lot of people have been asking their question from long previous to me this is taking a long time ago we're just picking now a new head of the IRS and he will be looking at that I'm sure. But I have just made my decision as to who it is it will be announced very shortly and I'm sure they will be looking at that.
Sharyl: You can announce it now.
President Trump: I could do that exactly where we'll be. Probably another short period of time we'll be announcing the truth. Really a terrific person will be heading up the IRS so that they'll take a look at every.
Sharyl: Koskinen is retiring. Is that right?
President Trump: Well actually he had a term at a time and his term ended someplace like within the last week or so. And he will leave as for the term you know that was not one that was under my purview. He had a term and he went up to a certain point and then he leaves we have a number of them. They were appointed by President Obama but they didn't end in January. They end in a term his term ended in October or November or something and that's when he leaves.
Sharyl: Coming Up, Many Americans are fearful of North Korea and its dictator's threats of a nuclear attack. We'll see if President Trump thinks the worries are founded.
Sharyl: It's widely viewed as our biggest national security threat: North Korea and its nuclear ambitions. President Trump has now headed to Asia a five-country ten-day tour: the longest foreign trip of his presidency so far. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters we're "running out of time" on North Korea. What does President Trump think?
Sharyl: On North Korea, in a recent poll 50 percent of Americans said it's somewhat likely that North Korea will use a nuclear weapon to attack America. Do you agree?
President Trump: Well I think that's a shame that it's so many. No, I don't agree. I actually don't. I hope that something's going to be worked out if it's not it's not. But I really do hope that something is going to be worked out. We'll see what happens. I do believe that China where I'm going very soon and President Xi has been working. I really feel this. He's been working very hard to see if he can do something but we're going to see. But I think that estimate hopefully is extremely high.
Sharyl: Do you think there's work you can personally do on this trip that will lessen the threat.
President Trump: I mean we're going to see what happens. I can tell you that there's not going to be something bad happening in terms of what we're going to do or maybe what they're going to do. But I can tell you that we are very very strong nation getting stronger all the time not only our economy but our military. You see what we've done with ISIS in eight months. I've done more than the previous administration done during the entire two terms of the administration, and we are going to have to solve problems like North Korea and North Korea is a big big problem. Hopefully, it can be worked out. Maybe it won't be able to but hopefully, it can be work.
Sharyl: Would you ever consider sitting down with a dictator and someone mentioned to me that President Nixon went to China to meet with Mao Reagan met with Gorbachev is there any parallels there would there be a scenario in which you could envision doing that.
President Trump: Well I'm meeting with different people from different countries meaning as you know China Japan South Korea we're meeting with a lot of different countries I'm going to Vietnam I'm going to the Philippines after that for big conferences so I'll be meeting with a lot of people. I would sit with anybody I feel. I don't think it's strength or weakness. I think sitting down with people is not a bad thing. So I would certainly be open to doing that. But we'll see where it goes. I think we're far too early.
Sharyl: I don't know how closely you're monitoring some of the military movement but three U.S. aircraft carrier groups I'm told will be in the area of North Korea during your visit of Korea. What is North Korea's dictator to make of that? Surely that's some sort of perhaps message.
President Trump: I don't know if it's a message look we have a very very getting stronger military. We are spending a lot of money on our military that we weren't spending over the past long period of time it's been depleted and now it's growing very fast. We're ordering new ships we're adding tremendous numbers of plane the greatest plane in the world right now. As you know the F-35 were under tremendous numbers of fighter jets we're ordering beautiful new equipment for the Army for the Marines the Air Force is really looking strong and it really was not looking as good as it should look. Now we're putting yourself in a position where we'll be stronger than we ever have been ever in our history proportionately and otherwise.
Sharyl: There was one more subject President Trump brought up. What was it? Find out when we come back.
Sharyl: We learned some new inside information this week about inner workings of the Democratic Party. In a new book, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, says Hillary Clinton's campaign, in essence, took over the political group, just like her opponent Bernie Sanders and others accused them of doing. As our time for the interview with President Trump ran out, that was one topic he wanted to address.
President Trump: She just wrote a book and that book is horrible what they did to Bernie Sanders and probably illegal. But what they did what Hillary Clinton and the Clinton clan did to Bernie Sanders. Honestly when you see that book if it's what I'm hearing and what's being reported today is the first time I've heard about it. It is horrible what they did to Bernie Sanders and to the Bernie Sanders people.
Sharyl: Are you aware of any investigations by Department of Justice of the Clinton?
President Trump: You know I'd love to be much more involved but I'm not supposed to be involved with Department of Justice so I have to hope that they run themselves well. But as you know as president you're not supposed to be involved with the Department of Justice. A lot of people ask me that question I give them that answer and they say oh now I understand. But they could very well be looking at it. I can say this Bernie Sanders was treated very badly. I'm not a fan of Bernie Sanders although we do agree with each other and trade. Trade deals are horrible but this country has made we have horrible trade deals, and I'm renegotiating those deals we're going to make them very good. We're going to terminate them frankly. NAFTA is horrible the deal we have with South Korea is horrible. We have so many bad deals. And Bernie Sanders actually agreed with me on that one point, and I actually got a lot of Bernie Sanders voters during the election as you possibly know better than I do. But what happened to Bernie Sanders with the DNC spearheaded by the Clintons and according to the new book by Donna Brazile was horrible.
Sharyl: Before Brazile became chair of the DNC, she was a CNN analyst and got caught during the 2016 campaign giving candidate Clinton advance questions prior to a CNN town hall with Bernie Sanders. She denied it at the time, but was fired and later apologized.
Sharyl: Next week on Full Measure, President Trump will be in the Philippines and meeting with a president who is perhaps the strangest political dynamic in the world. A leader who is tough on ISIS has advocated shooting down drug dealers and drug users in the streets and is enjoying wild popularity among citizens thirsty for law and order. Love him or hate him, Rodrigo Duterte is one president who's delivering on his biggest campaign promise: To crack down on drug crimes by targeting not only traffickers but addicts. And killing them in cold blood.
Trillanes: Well last in 2016 we had our election and the Filipino people elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who unfortunately has authoritarian tendencies and he pledged during his campaign that he would kill 100,000 Filipinos.
Sharyl: Besides his brutal war on drugs, Duterte's popularity is also rooted in his tough stance against Islamic extremist terrorists. During our summer visit, Duterte's popularity hit a stunning 82 percent. His approval and trust ratings had increased across all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes. On the streets of Zamboanga in the Mindanao province where there's martial law, we traveled with heavily armed protectors. And found popular support for President Duterte. Why do you say you think he's brave?
Filipino Woman: Because he he stop the drug here in our country.
Sharyl: A story you won't see anywhere else.. next week on Full Measure. Until then, thanks for watching, I'm Sharyl Attkisson.