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President Trump Will Promote GOP Tax Plan In Ohio Monday


President Trump hits the road today. He's going to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he'll tour a small manufacturing business and promote the Republican tax plan that passed late last year. That is a decidedly more comfortable conversation for many Republicans to have instead of the contentious debate last week over the FBI and the allegations made by a Republican memo. We're joined now by Chris Buskirk. He's a conservative talk show host and publisher of the website American Greatness.

Chris, thanks for being back on the show.

CHRIS BUSKIRK: Oh, it's my pleasure.

MARTIN: Midterm elections are coming up. I don't have to tell you that. But the president and the tax plan remain unpopular with the American public on the whole. Is it a good idea for the president to be out campaigning and campaigning on this issue?

BUSKIRK: Yeah, boy, I guess that means we're not talking Super Bowl this morning. But...

MARTIN: (Laughter) Sorry.

BUSKIRK: Yeah, I know. I guess more important things must occupy our attention. No, I think it's a great idea. I mean, this is it. I mean, this is what Donald Trump campaigned on throughout '15 and '16, which is jobs, the economy, wages. I mean, those sort of, you know, hearth-and-home, kitchen table type of issues. And the centerpiece of the Republican legislative agenda last year was - in terms of accomplishments anyway - was the tax plan. And so today, you got to...

MARTIN: Even though a majority of people still think this is about a tax cut for the wealthy.

BUSKIRK: Yeah. Look, I mean, you passed it. You own it. You better go out and sell it to people. And I think that those poll numbers you're talking about - I think those are going to shift over time. And I think that is the calculation that Republicans and the president absolutely have to make.

MARTIN: All right. I want to switch gears and ask you about the memo. This is the memo - the Nunes memo - that came out last week alleging that the FBI - that there's some bias in how it handled early stages of the Russia investigation. How do your listeners feel about this increasing rift - rift isn't even the right word - this crevasse that divides the FBI from a Republican White House and a Republican Congress?

BUSKIRK: Right. We started at rift. We went to crevasse. I think we're approaching canyon...


BUSKIRK: ...Now. So yeah - yeah, I think when you think about, you know, how rank-and-file voters - you know, kind of outside-the-Beltway type of people, off-the-coast type of people, the people who listen to my show - what are they thinking? You know, you and I've talked about this before. For the longest time, people have thought this investigation is a Beltway story period and honestly didn't give it a lot of thought. Now they look at the FISA abuse memo that came out of the House Intelligence Committee, and they say, hold on a second. This is actually worse than we thought. You know, we see - you know, we basically see fraud being used as a basis for the FISA applications. We see information being withheld by the FBI in their FISA applications and that was a breach of trust...

MARTIN: Although...

BUSKIRK: ...And people want to say - well, people say why? Well, this the FBI that we've trusted for a century. Now what?

MARTIN: Although the memo itself goes on to say that the investigation into Carter Page - this was the man who's at the center of the whole debacle - actually began before the dossier even came onto the scene. And this is the center of the Republicans' argument. So a lot of folks looked at this memo and said it doesn't even do what Devin Nunes and Republicans said it was going to do in terms of undermining.

BUSKIRK: Well, what it does is it asked a big question about how trustworthy the FBI and the Department of Justice were under the Obama administration and even into the Trump era, even during the Trump administration when you see James Comey three times signing off on a FISA application to the FISA court and withholding key information, not saying that the basis of that application was paid for by a partisan or - sorry - it was created by a partisan political operative. Why was that information withheld?

MARTIN: Although it started out being paid for by a Republican organization. What do you think should change as a result of this? I mean, the president, when asked if he was considering firing deputy director of the FBI Rod Rosenstein, he said you figure that one out. Do you think it'd be a bad idea if he were to dismiss Rosenstein?

BUSKIRK: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I don't think we know enough about Rosenstein and his role in this yet. He did sign off on one of these FISA applications that withheld critical information. I think we're getting to a point - and we saw it starting yesterday - where people are saying maybe a second special counsel is appropriate here to find out the depth of any potential corruption at the FBI and DOJ.

MARTIN: Chris Buskirk - he is conservative talk show host, publisher of the website American Greatness. Chris, thanks for your time this morning.

BUSKIRK: My pleasure, thanks.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: We incorrectly identify Rod Rosenstein as the deputy director of the FBI. Rosenstein is the deputy attorney general of the U.S.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: February 5, 2018 at 12:00 AM EST
We incorrectly identify Rod Rosenstein as the deputy director of the FBI. Rosenstein is the deputy attorney general of the U.S.