Reince Priebus Interview: Transcript from Hannity January 25, 2017

Reince Priebus talks ObamaCare, Supreme Court nomination, job creation, sanctuary cities and refugee halt

Reince Priebus Interview

January 25th, 2017

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: So earlier today, President Trump, he visited the Department of Homeland Security to announce major executive orders on immigration. Let’s take a look.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: For too long, your officers and agents haven’t been allowed to properly do their jobs. You know that, right? Do you know that? Absolutely. But that’s all about to change. And I’m very happy about it. And you’re very happy about it.

From here on out, I’m asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States of America. They will be enforced and enforced strongly.

People are surprised to hear that we do not need new laws. We will work within the existing system and framework. We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States.

HANNITY: Now, President Trump’s executive orders, they include building a border wall, expediting the process to remove criminal illegal aliens, creating more detention space for illegal immigrants, ending the catch-and-release policy, prioritizing prosecution and deportation for lawbreakers, sending criminals back to their country of origin, hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents.

Now, President Trump also issued an order to strip federal grant money from sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants, support victims and families of victims of crimes committed by removable aliens, reinstate Secure Communities program to help ICE agents target illegal immigrants for removal and to hire an additional 10,000 ICE officers.

And in President Trump’s first interview on ABC News, he specifically talked about the border wall, if Mexico will pay for it, and when the construction will begin. Let’s take a look.

DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: Are you going to direct U.S. funds to pay for this wall? Will American taxpayers pay for the wall?

TRUMP: Ultimately, it’ll come out of what’s happening with Mexico. We’re going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico, which I’ve always said.

MUIR: So they’ll pay us back.

TRUMP: Yes, absolutely, 100 percent.

MUIR: So the American taxpayer will pay for the wall at first?

TRUMP: All it is, is we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico.

MUIR: Mexico’s president said in recent days that Mexico absolutely will not pay, adding that “It goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans.” He says quite simply they’re not paying.

TRUMP: I think he has to say that. He has to say that. But I’m just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico. We’re want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico.

MUIR: When does construction begin?

TRUMP: As soon as we can. As soon as we can physically do it, we’re…

MUIR: Two months?

TRUMP: I would say in months, yes. I would say in months. Certainly, planning is starting immediately.

HANNITY: And earlier today, I visited the White House to ask new chief of staff Reince Priebus about President Trump’s agenda and a lot more. Let’s take a look.

HANNITY: All right, joining us now, White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.


HANNITY: All right, does it feel good to be in the White House again?

PRIEBUS: It feels good. It’s a humbling place to be. There’s a lot to do, a lot of action. I think there’s a lot of great energy here, and it’s an honor working for President Trump and getting his agenda filled. I mean, it’s only been a few days, and we’re checking boxes left and right.

HANNITY: You know, I talked to friends of mine that have been here for many, years, some that work in the press that secretly like me but won’t ever admit it publicly.

PRIEBUS: There are a few of those, right?

HANNITY: There are a couple, yes.

HANNITY: There are a couple. And a few new people you guys are allowing in, which is nice. And universally, they have said the same thing. They have never seen activity like this in this White House in all the time they’ve been here.


HANNITY: A little shock and awe for D.C.?

PRIEBUS: I think so. I mean, we’ve been doing this, though — I think if people just kind of think back before Christmas. We’ve been operating this way ever since the election. We’ve had people coming in and out, having meetings, picking cabinet secretaries, doing work, and culminating to this first week, which has been — we’ve had 12 executive orders, I think, as of now, and hitting the promises that we made — hiring freeze, regulatory freeze, today with immigration, yesterday with jobs, the day before with trade. These are the things that Donald Trump campaigned on. It’s the reason he’s president.

And to your point, many of these reporters that have been working here for many years said that Monday and Tuesday so far have been busier than any day that they can remember in the White House since they’ve worked in the White House.

HANNITY: Amazing. Let me go to the hiring freeze, the regulation freeze, and because — and the talk of a 20 percent reduction in the workforce in government and a 10 percent reduction in terms of spending.


HANNITY: Now, that’s something as a conservative Republican I believe in balanced budgets, living within your means, limited government, and also a 75 percent rollback or 75 percent-plus in regulations.


HANNITY: Are those things that can get done, really saving money, real cuts, not reductions in increases?

PRIEBUS: Well, absolutely. I mean, first of all, one of the things that you have to start with is leading by example. And if we have a hiring freeze at the administration level — meaning there’s enough employees at the administration executive level to get the job done for the American people. There’s no reason to add more employees. Outside of public safety and military, but up outside of those areas, there’s no reason to keep growing government.

That was one of the first things Ronald Reagan did. It was one of the first thing President Trump did.

On regulatory reform, what we did was we said that if there’s any regulations currently en route to being upon completion, that those regulations have to be halted and we have to review them and approve them before they move forward. So there might be some good things out there that we don’t want to halt, but for the most part — we hear from business owners, and I know you’ve talked about it, and people out there know, that regulation in many cases (INAUDIBLE) far worse than taxes and all the things that we normally talked about. So…

HANNITY: Is that why — but is the idea of getting rid of all the regulations and — I know the president would like to get to a 15 percent corporate tax rate.


HANNITY: And the repatriation at a low tax of 10 percent, and then “Obama care” being eliminated, and then energy independence — these are all — is that what’s incentivizing these businesses one after another to announce they’re investing billions or millions…


HANNITY: … or hundreds of millions and creating X number of jobs? Is it because of that, do you believe?

PRIEBUS: Yes, I mean, we’ve had — we had meetings here, some people, if they were watching TV news, that we had the big car manufacturers. We had some of the biggest companies in America, biggest employers here. We had union leaders here saying the same thing, all on the same page, saying, Look, if we’re going to be an administration that cuts regulation, that lowers business taxes so that these companies can expand, that we disincentivize companies from moving overseas into Mexico and China and make doing business in America better for them, well, then the jobs are going to explode!

We’re going to have maybe 3, 5, 6, 7 percent growth if these things happen. If Donald Trump becomes the president, which is his goal, of the American worker, of the American manufacturer — forget about politics because we’ll never lose (ph) an election as a party. It’s about — we’re — we’re going to have a comeback in this country like we’ve never seen. And that’s why…

HANNITY: Boy, do we need it!

PRIEBUS: … these companies — yes, exactly! And that’s why the companies are saying, You know what? This may be a better place to do business. And I think people are starting to see that for the first time in (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: The president talked about it with the Keystone pipeline and the Dakota pipeline. And then adding the added, I guess, mandate or making it a part of the deal that any steel that’s used for pipes has to be made in America, as well, which would help American steelworkers.

PRIEBUS: Let me tell you how that happened. So we were in a meeting yesterday with — it was with the union leaders and the folks that were talking about…

HANNITY: Wasn’t it in this room.

PRIEBUS: It was in this room.


PRIEBUS: And President Trump was sitting where you’re sitting.

HANNITY: This is the president’s seat? OK.

PRIEBUS: And we were talking about Keystone, Dakota, how these projects are just languishing and the fact that they shouldn’t be. Especially in the case of Dakota, it’s 90 percent done.


PRIEBUS: They’ve got the deal, and they can’t continue because of a permit. And so the president was talking about these pipelines, talking about the union — and some of the folks, the workers were here, too, that were actually in the fields. And it was just President Trump saying, Wait a minute. Where is this pipe coming from? He started talking about where the pipe came from.

And at that very moment, like, 48 hours ago, the president said, Well, why aren’t we using American steel? Why shouldn’t — shouldn’t we be using America pipe? If the American government is involved with making sure that These pipelines continue, then why wouldn’t we want to make sure that we’re using American pipe and American steel?

So he said, OK, well, let’s write an executive order that says wherever you can possibly use American pipe and American steel, we should do it. Someone (INAUDIBLE) Well, maybe there wouldn’t be a company that has enough steel. And President Trump said, Don’t worry. If we incentivize American companies to build American steel, they’re going to do it. And that’s how that happened.

HANNITY: Pretty amazing. On the issue of immunity, he’s ordering — directing the Department of Homeland Security to begin the process of building a wall.


HANNITY: He doesn’t need a bill passed in Congress because we have the 2006 law he can rely on.

PRIEBUS: That’s right.

HANNITY: And he wants to increase Border Patrol agents by 5,000. He wants to triple the number of ICE…

PRIEBUS: Add 10,000 more.

HANNITY: 10,000 ICE, executive order that would target sanctuary cities.


HANNITY: Meaning? What would that do?

PRIEBUS: What that mean is that so for people out there that may not know this, there’s federal grants to cities all over this country, say San Francisco, Los Angeles, others, that say, We’re going to take federal money, taxpayer money, for things that we need in our city, but we’re going to tell people who are here illegally that even though it’s illegal what you’re doing, we’re not going to force the laws on you that we have in place to remove you if you commit a crime, if you do something (INAUDIBLE) We’ve got parents that have lost their kids from…

HANNITY: I did a town hall during the campaign…


HANNITY: … with the president with parents that had lost loved ones.

PRIEBUS: So here’s the thing. The question is, should places in this country that ignore the laws of this country, and when it comes to integration, receive federal money into their communities…

HANNITY: Which is no.

PRIEBUS: … and answer to me is no.

HANNITY: And that’s the president.

PRIEBUS: In fact, for people that don’t realize it, it’s actually been something that’s been in the Republican Party platform now for over eight years. So this is not some sort of crazy thinking. The point is, if you defy the laws of this country, you shouldn’t receive federal taxpayer dollars from the people of this country.

HANNITY: And if you’re offering sanctuary to people that didn’t respect American law and sovereignty…

PRIEBUS: That’s right.

HANNITY: … it would happen. OK…

PRIEBUS: … so in some cases, you have folks that have committing crimes that should otherwise be — forget about the fact that they’re here illegally.

HANNITY: They’re harboring criminals!

PRIEBUS: The second thing is they’ve committed a crime, and in every other jurisdiction (INAUDIBLE) you’ve committed a crime or a felon (ph), you are — you now have to leave the country. That’s normal, right? I think that’s normal. But they’re not doing that in (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: And that’s part of it.

HANNITY: And coming up, part two of my interview with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

And then later tonight…

TRUMP: We have outstanding candidates, and we will pick a truly great Supreme Court justice. But I’ll be announcing it sometime next week.

HANNITY: President Trump has now picked a day to announce his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich — he’ll have a reaction. Plus, Patrick J. Buchanan — he’ll weigh in on President Trump’s America first inaugural address promise.

That and more as we continue “Hannity” from our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

HANNITY: And welcome back to “Hannity” as we are broadcasting tonight from our nation’s capital. And here is part two of my interview with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. Take a look.

HANNITY: So I know that a lot of people that I’ve talked to that are conservative, that voted for the president, they — the main thing that they’re looking for — and we’ve seen a lot of action in the first five days here — but the thing that I hear the most is they just want the promises made to be kept — originalists, they want the vetting of refugees we were talking about, the building of the wall, repealing and replacing “Obama care,” the lower tax rates.

How do you get rid of ObamaCare? Because it’s a little more complicated…


HANNITY: … because of how it was passed? And what will the replacement be?

PRIEBUS: Well, certain parts of it can be repealed by executive order. We also have — so — you know, I can’t put a percentage on it, but a lot of “Obama care” can be undone through executive order. That’s number one.

A lot of it can be done through an action called reconciliation. Now…

HANNITY: Which is how it was passed.

PRIEBUS: Which is how it was passed. Well, right, by they also — remember, they also had 60 votes in the Senate at the time.


PRIEBUS: (INAUDIBLE) Christmas Eve or something like that. So they also had the 60 votes. Now, they — you know, they lost that.


PRIEBUS: But reconciliation is a tool you can use — as long as what you’re doing is revenue-neutral, isn’t policy-driven, you can pass certain things with 50 votes in the Senate. Usually, you need 60. For the special tool, you can use 50 votes in the Senate.

HANNITY: If it’s spending-related.

PRIEBUS: That’s right. So you can — you can replace a lot of “Obama care” with the 50-vote rule. You can also use your secretary of Health and Human Services strategically to do things in regard to “Obama care.”

HANNITY: Because there’s discretion that is written within the bill.

PRIEBUS: That’s right.


PRIEBUS: And so…

HANNITY: By the way, a lot of people don’t know that. That’s a big deal.

PRIEBUS: Right. So between executive order, 51 votes reconciliation, Health and Human Services, you can get a lot repealed and replaced and…

HANNITY: So maybe it won’t even be a congressional debate over a new bill?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think you’d also then move to that area where you’re going to need the 60 votes in the Senate. And so that’s — that’s, I think, the formula. The key is, you want to get a much better product using the first three steps. You want to make sure that you’ve got a better product using the first three steps, and we do.

And so look, ObamaCare is a disaster. We know that. Everybody does. It’s one of the reasons why President Trump won the election besides what he brought to the table is also a great issue for him in talking about repealing and replacing “Obama care” with a better product.

HANNITY: Last question. I know a lot of time and attention is being spent to get the economy up and running and building the administration out, not a small undertaking.

But also, there’s been some movement on some foreign policy issues. I know you have the prime minister of Great Britain coming in Friday. I know the president has meetings upcoming with the prime minister of Canada, the prime minister of Israel, the president of Mexico, renegotiating trade deals, NAFTA, a bilateral deal perhaps with Great Britain.

What about radical Islamic terrorism, which he mentioned in the State of the — in his inaugural speech?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I mean, that’s a big question. On trade, obviously, we’re going to be talking very soon with Senator Hatch and Representative Brady on the Ways and Means, getting noticed in to those committee members so that we can start the process of working on trade deals. So not to bore the listeners with fast track on trade, there’s certain little triggers and tripwires that you have to hit in order to do that. And we’re going to do all that and we got to wait the 90-day period…

HANNITY: They will all be renegotiated.

PRIEBUS: That’s right. And we got to wait the 90-day period and do it, but you got to notify all the particular…

HANNITY: Parties involved.

PRIEBUS: … (INAUDIBLE) to do it. But certainly…

HANNITY: One question in that. With TPP — would that mean bilateral…


HANNITY: … negotiations with Asian countries.

PRIEBUS: That’s right. So you would set up — you’d have to notify Congress on each of your bilateral deals that you’re going to start negotiating with. And once you hit that button, the 90-day waiting period, and then the serious…

HANNITY: Negotiations would begin.

PRIEBUS: … could (INAUDIBLE) little things here and there, conversations about cars (ph) and — fine, but serious negotiation can’t happen until after the 90-day period.

We’re going to have a time of national security coming up on Friday. I expect a series of executive orders to start tackling issues in regard to foreign policy, issues in regard to ISIS and our positioning now through the world, especially through the Middle East.

HANNITY: A big message was sent in the inaugural speech.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

HANNITY: We had a president that wouldn’t say “radical Islamic terrorism,” and this president will. You liking the job so far? How many hours are you working a day?

PRIEBUS: Probably about 20.

HANNITY: Kind of like during the last two years anyway, right?

PRIEBUS: Yes, right…

PRIEBUS: Going through a 16-way (ph) primary…

HANNITY: No pressure…

PRIEBUS: A lot of the same skills…

HANNITY: … no conflict, right?

PRIEBUS: A lot of those same skills learned through that process are helpful here. But most importantly, it’s an honor working for President Trump. Seriously, this is a person, not (INAUDIBLE) a heart of gold, genuine, sincere, still working 10 feet away from us. I mean, of course, he’s — and when this airs tonight at 10:00 o’clock Eastern…

HANNITY: Oh, he’s working.

PRIEBUS: … he’ll be there, still working, working dinner. He doesn’t stop. I’m not — everyone always likes to say that about people, they don’t — he doesn’t.

HANNITY: … talk to him, right?

PRIEBUS: I wear out 25-year-olds on my staff…

HANNITY: Well, I’ve known him for a lot of years…

PRIEBUS: He wears out everybody.

HANNITY: The times I would talk to him is 11:00 PM, midnight, 1:00 AM or 5:00 AM.


HANNITY: Those were the…

PRIEBUS: There’s nothing unusual about getting a phone call at 11:30 and then 6:15…

HANNITY: Well, I get them at 1:00. I’ve…

PRIEBUS: Right, there’s…

HANNITY: … he calls you first because he knows you go to bed earlier!

PRIEBUS: No, actually, I don’t, but…

HANNITY: Listen (INAUDIBLE) many phone calls (INAUDIBLE)

PRIEBUS: I’m lucky that I have the same kind of clock as he does.


PRIEBUS: But here’s — but here’s the difference. I’m used to outworking people. So my clock, I can defeat anyone when it comes to work. But not him. So that’s — that’s the challenge.

HANNITY: So you don’t want to…

PRIEBUS: I’ve met my match.

HANNITY: You don’t like to lose.

HANNITY: So we have a chief of staff and a president…

PRIEBUS: No, no. I mean as far as…

PRIEBUS: I mean, the guy doesn’t stop.

HANNITY: Well, if everyone was working for the country, I think everyone would be better off.

PRIEBUS: Right, but I’ve always had an advantage on hard work. But he works really, really hard.

HANNITY: Mr. Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. Thank you so much for being with us.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

HANNITY: Appreciate it.

PRIEBUS: Thanks.


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