WHEN: Today, Tuesday, September 12th
WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk Box"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and "Squawk Box" Co-Anchors
Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin live from the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York City on Tuesday, September 12th.
Following are links to the video of the interview on CNBC.com: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/09/12/treasury-secretary-steven-mnuchin-our-hope-is-to-reach-bipartisan-deal-on-taxes.html, https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/09/12/treasury-secretary-steve-mnuchin-we-are-super-focused-on-tax-reform.html ,https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/09/12/treasury-secretary-steve-mnuchin-president-trump-is-absolutely-a-republican.html and https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/09/12/treasury-secretary-steve-mnuchin-hedge-funds-will-not-have-benefit-of-carried-interest.html.
Mandatory credit: CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference.
BECKY QUICK: Thank you so much.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you in New York.
BECKY QUICK: It's a pleasure to have you here. This whole conference is about Delivering Alpha, and we know that you know this and understand it very well from your previous life at Goldman Sachs and beyond. And we have an entire list of questions that we want to ask you about in that vein. But, given the historic events that we've seen over the last several days, first with Hurricane Harvey and now with Hurricane Irma, we would like to maybe start off in this vein. I know you've been meeting with the President recently, and I just wonder if you can give us an update from the Administration's point of view about where we stand with these storms right now.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Sure. Well, starting with the first storm, the President has just been incredibly engaged. We've been having cabinet meetings constantly, working with FEMA. On Sunday I was with the President at Camp David. We were monitoring the situation via video. And then Sunday afternoon I went with the Vice President to FEMA headquarters.
Let me just especially thank all the people in both the states and the federal government who have been working round the clock to save lives. It's been an incredibly -- you know, a very important response to just two historically terrible storms.
BECKY QUICK: We know that it is still very early to try and get a feel for the financial impact of these storms. We are still in a recovery and making sure that people are getting through the storm. But we also know that those numbers will be very large, billions and billions of dollars. We've seen an initial payment for that coming from the government with the bill that has been passed for $15 billion for Harvey. But what do we do with the second round of funding? We know the numbers will go up.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, I think the first thing is the President wanted to be very clear, we needed to make sure we got the money to the states so that they could protect citizens and property, which was the most important issue. And we accomplished that. And the first payment is a down payment. We'll see what we need to spend more. But the President will make sure that whatever the federal government needs to contribute to this, we will do so.
JOE KERNEN: 100 to 150 is Moody's latest estimate for both storms, which would be equal to Katrina. Any effect on ongoing GDP numbers, do you think?
Do you have an estimate, maybe half a percent perhaps; and, secondly, does the Fed change anything that it was planning to do based on this, and even had Mark Grant say, it's not just -- because they were going to hold off supposedly in September, anyway -- they might even cut at this point. Could you imagine that?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I can't comment on what the Federal did because, as you know, as Treasury Secretary I respect their independence. I would say there clearly is going to be an impact on GDP in the short run. We will make it up in the long run as we rebuild. That will help GDP. So I think it's too early to tell what the exact estimates will be, but, you know, I think it won't have a bad impact on the economy.
JOE KERNEN: We may not get back to the Fed, so I got to ask you, Yellen, did he get reappointed?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I'm working closely with the President on the issue. He hasn't made any decisions, and that's one of the things he's still considering.
JOE KERNEN: He has a bunch of people now that there are some openings on the Fed.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Yeah, there's a lot of good people. The Chair is, obviously, quite talented and she's being considered, but there's a lot of great people that we have been meeting with, considering as well.
BECKY QUICK: Is Gary Cohn still on that list?
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Where do you think Gary Cohn stands in all of this, given that the President has talked about him as a candidate and, yet, what we do hear constantly, at least over the past couple of weeks post-Charlottesville and some of the comments he made publicly, that perhaps maybe the relationship has been compromised.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I appreciate you asking me, and I would be disappointed if you didn't. But I obviously will respect the confidentiality of the process and not make any comments on any specific people that the President is considering.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Putting that aside, what about the relationship with Gary Cohn, your own relationship with him, the President's relationship with him?
There's a view within the marketplace, and when we talk to Ray Dalio and others all about this, that Gary Cohn and you represent a very important piece of this administration; and that if, perhaps, Gary Cohn were to leave, that the markets would take that as a bad sign.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, let me say, Gary and I have worked very close together for a very long period of time. We worked together at Goldman Sachs. We were in the same partner cross at Goldman Sachs, working very closely together on taxes. I was with him yesterday on the Hill. We will be back on the Hill this afternoon, we'll both be at the White House for a dinner with the President tonight on tax reform. And, let me just say, you know, I appreciate working with him.
JOE KERNEN: You mentioned taxes now. You are helping us get into all the different areas where we want to go.
The "kumbaya" moment, I think that's one of your words you use a lot.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Yeah.
JOE KERNEN: Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, does that -- that the President had recently, does that change the dynamic, in your view, of how to approach tax reform?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Not at all. I would say, first of all, I give the President a lot of credit. We were in the middle of two major hurricanes. We needed to get money to the states. We were in the middle of having the debt limit, and the President was very clear. He wanted to cut a deal. He wanted to cut a deal quickly. He moved the debt limit substantially further back. We had to fund the government. We were running out of money. I was operating it like a piggy bank, and we got out of there and showed the American public that we are putting politics aside.
As it relates to tax reform, it's been my number one priority, it will be, and we're going to get this done.
JOE KERNEN: Does it change it from reconciliation to a bipartisan, oh, the President flew with Senator Heitkamp back to North Dakota. Do you foresee this being permanent in 60 votes, or what we just said Senator Perdue said just outright, said this is going to be reconciliation?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I always said our hope is that it is bipartisan. This is about creating jobs. This is about creating a middle income tax cut. This is about making our businesses competitive. We have one of the highest tax rates in the world. We have tax on worldwide income, we have this crazy concept of deferral. We have trillions of dollars offshore. So these are issues that both Democrats and Republicans should understand.
Having said that, if we can't get 60 votes, we are prepared to use reconciliation to get it done. This is the most important issue for the American economy.
BECKY QUICK: Let's talk about the meetings you have later today. You just mentioned that you will be going to Capitol Hill to talk to Senators there about it. I know you are meeting with Republicans. Will you also be meeting with Democrats there from the Senate Budget Committee?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, first of all, I have been meeting with Democrats and Republicans since January. I have been working on taxes with the President since the campaign. This program we have been working on for a long time and meeting with lots of different groups, both Republicans and Democrats on this.
BECKY QUICK: As you are getting closer to finding more details, I know you said that those will be released later this month. But we still hear a pretty wide variety of opinions about where we could see a corporate tax rate; everyone from Paul Ryan who says in the low 20s recently to the President saying 15%.
Where do you think it falls within those ranges?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, let me just comment, I think on the business side -- and I mentioned this is business, so this isn't just the corporate tax rate. This is also we want to create relief for pass-throughs, which are a major part of the economy. We need to make this system competitive, and that's what we're trying to do, and as I mentioned, turning it from a worldwide system to a territorial system.
The President has made it clear since the campaign, ideally he'd like to get it down to 15%. I don't know if we will be able to achieve that, given the budget issues. But we're going to get this down to a very competitive level, and what the exact number is less important. And what's more important is making sure we have a competitive field.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: If that's in the mid 20s, is that a win?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Yet I'm not going to comment on what's a win and what's not a win. As I said, this is a pass-fail exercise. So passing tax reform, which hasn't been done in 31 years, that's a win. And what the exact number is, we'll see.
JOE KERNEN: The pass-through issue is what drives a lot of people on the left crazy, because all the rich people are going to rush, become LLCs to get to 15% or 20%, and that's part of the 5 trillion that the left is worried about they're saying could add to the deficit. 2 trillion of it almost is from the past-through issue. You're not going to get any -- I can't imagine any Democrats coming on board for that.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, first of all, we are very concerned about the debt. As you know, it has gone from 10 trillion to 20 trillion, which we just passed, okay? And we are concerned about that.
Having said that, we are focused on economic growth. The difference between 2 and 3% is over $2 trillion to the government. And we're going to make sure that when we set pass-through rules -- and, again, this is what we have been working on since January -- that they are not used as loopholes.
JOE KERNEN: There's a way to do that.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: That they are.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: How do you do it? Just give us a framework for what that looks like.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: For one, services companies that are pass-throughs will not get the benefit of the rate. So, you know, kind of what we're not looking to do is, if you earn money that's clearly income, okay, if you are an accountant firm and that's clearly income, you'll be taxed at income rates. You won't be taxed at pass-through rates.
If you are a business that's creating manufacturing jobs, you're going to get the benefit of that rate, because that's going to be passed through to help create jobs and better wages.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: One of the other issues, which matters a bit in most part to this audience has been the issue of carried interest and what rate that gets taxed at. The President talked for a long time about of closing that loophole. Does that get closed or changed under your tax plan?
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STEVEN MNUCHIN: The President's been very clear that for hedge funds they will not have the benefit of carried interest. One of the things that we are working on is, as it relates to other entities that do create jobs, whether it's in different sectors, we want to make sure that we encourage jobs. So that's something we're still working on.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: This is where it gets complicated, because partnership accounting is difficult. And then you get into oil and gas, you get into real estate, private equity. How do you separate them out?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, the good news is we have over a hundred people at the Treasury working on this. We have a lot of people at the House and the Senate. Those --
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I know this issue is incredibly important to everybody in this room. It's less important to the American public and creating jobs.
JOE KERNEN: You alluded to the difference between 3% and 2%. So we're talking about dynamic scoring. We're talking about not paying for this.
I imagine that's going to be in the final plan. It's not going to be what the Democrats want in terms of every dollar being accounted for. That's still the case.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I can't comment on what the Democrats want, but I can comment on what makes sense. So, first of all, dynamic scoring does work, okay, to the extent that you change rules.
So if we go from an international system to a territorial system, we will bring back jobs. We will bring back trillions of dollars, and that's going to have an impact on the economy. So, yes, I expect there will be a couple hundred billion dollars accounted for on dynamic scoring.
JOE KERNEN: I think Larry Summers called it a ludicrous supply side --
BECKY QUICK: I think that was the word.
JOE KERNEN: -- fantasies or something.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I would never say anything bad about another Treasury Secretary, although there's lots and lots of economists that will line up on the other side of that argument.
JOE KERNEN: Let me just take this one more step further. Let's say -- and I don't know whether you know for sure that it won't happen. Let's say the President says, Chuck, Nancy, I'm going to give you infrastructure along with this if you go along with this.
You're talking about dynamic scoring potentially adding deficit and an infrastructure bill. Is that possible that we -- we would be at 30 trillion, in no time.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, we have no doubt, we are not going from 20 trillion to 30 trillion. But what the President is focused on is creating jobs, creating economic opportunities, creating manufacturing in the United States, having us competitive. And that's what we're going to do.
JOE KERNEN: Do you see him proposing that, or do you know whether he will, as a way to bring them in?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Absolutely. The President is very focused on infrastructure. We've been working on a plan. We will reach out to Democrats on that plan. And that's absolutely on --
JOE KERNEN: Would it be part of tax reform?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: You know, people have asked us whether we should put them together or not. My inclination is that it makes it more complicated. You're talking about two complicated issues. I think when you put them together, it's harder to do, but to the extent that the Democrats and the Republicans want to put it together, Congress has that option.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Let me just ask you about the timing involved, which is you've had a remarkable sense of confidence that something is going to happen, something is going to happen this fall. But you also were quite confident and explicit earlier in the year, suggesting that we would have signed tax reform by August.
What was the miss in terms of the confidence, then and has something changed?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, one of the things this audience understands, as do I, that markets move. So the answer was, in January, we had a plan that was lined out, working with Congress, that we thought we could get tax reform done by August. And that was based upon doing health care first and doing health care fast.
I think, as you know, health care took longer than we expected. We then got into the August recess. That's what pushed back tax reform. So the market moved. I'm now incredibly hopeful we're going to get this done by the end of the year.
BECKY QUICK: The President still occasionally tweets about health care. Is it off the agenda, as far as you're concerned, right now? Are we moving on to tax reform and beyond before that circles back around?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: The President still very much wants to get health care done. So it's not the major focus at the moment. But on the President's agenda, he wants to get health care done.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Steve Bannon, over the weekend on 60 Minutes, effectively said that you were misled; that the administration was misled by the Senate, by Congress, about what was possible in terms of this time line. Do you think you were misled?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, I had the opportunity to work with Steve closely on the campaign and over the last year, and I respect him. I think the word "misled" was a little extreme.
I do think there was an agenda. As he said on TV, when the President got elected, we sat down with the leadership and we looked at a calendar. Having said that, let me be clear. Obama took a long time to get his two major accomplishments done. So for us to get one accomplishment done this year in the President's first term will be historic, and that's what we're working on.
BECKY QUICK: Is there any way that tax reform could be backdated to January 1st of 2017?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Absolutely. Still something we're considering, and would be a big boon to the economy.
JOE KERNEN: Does it matter if it's only ten years?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I've been consistent on this. Permanent is better than temporary, and temporary is better than nothing.
JOE KERNEN: So you wanted 18 months. This has been reported. You wanted 18 months on this debt ceiling, and then at the last minute supposedly you tried to talk him into six. It came out three. Maybe not what you wanted.
Does it set us up for this brinkmanship -- I'm sorry. Does it set the Republicans up for brinkmanship in December with the Democrats, when they say, We're not going to do tax reform unless you do this our way?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I did want 18 months. And as Treasury Secretary, I obviously want the longest period of time for the debt ceiling. You know, as I said, Congress has every right to control spend debt. And if ultimately the government shuts down, which would not be a good thing, that's their right if they can't agree on spending. The debt ceiling is about paying for things that we've already committed to.
So I did want to extend it longer. The President, rightfully so, wanted to get this done. And particularly in the wake of two hurricanes, we'll come back on the debt ceiling again. We have a commitment from the Democrats and the Republicans that we're never going to let the government default. And I'm comfortable where we are.
JOE KERNEN: The rationale was we can get this debt ceiling stuff out of the way and work on tax reform. But a lot of other people say it just makes it even more difficult. It mucks up the works in December for getting tax reform.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I don't think so at all. We are super-focused on tax reform now. It clears the calendar for tax reform for December 8th. We have the continuing funding of the government through December 8th, so we don't have a shutdown at the end of this month in the middle of two hurricanes. And I think that's something the President was very focused on.
And for December, we will be negotiating funding. Now, we could have done -- and this wasn't widely reported. We could have done a one-year deal on the debt ceiling. Had we done that, it would have been linked to one year of additional funding for the government.
But the President wants to raise military spending. That's one of his main priorities. Particularly in the midst of what's going on in North Korea and other areas. The President wants to increase military spending, and that's something he's going to demand for December.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Let's go back to taxes for one sec, and on the individual side.
I remember when you sat with us on the set of "Squawk Box," and one of the things you said was that the wealthiest among us, their tax rate will not go down. Do you think that's still true?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: So I feel very honored from that interview because in my confirmation I now have a rule named after me. So there's the Buffett Rule and the Volcker Rule, and now there's the Mnuchin Rule, which was named after what I said.
And the objective, I think, as you know, we're looking at a system where we get rid of state and local tax deductions. We're trying to get the federal government out of the business of subsidizing the states.
So in the high-tax states, two of which I've had the opportunity to live in, New York and California, yes, I can assure you that there will not be a tax decrease.
BECKY QUICK: What will that mean for states like New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, that can no longer be backed up by the federal government; that they will have to have these high rates and realize that their taxpayers are going to get crushed?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I'm hopeful in these states that taxes don't go up. So we'll have a slight rate decrease on the high end to offset the deductions. And I'm hopeful we can size that so that it doesn't hurt New York and California. They may not get a tax decrease. But these are the people that will --
BECKY QUICK: They will get a federal tax decrease, but will end up paying it in state taxes. That's how it's going to go down?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, I'm hopeful that they'll get a slight decrease in federal government, which will offset what they will lose on the state deductions. But, again, these are the details that, although the group of six has a plan, are going to go through final negotiation and the two tax-writing committees.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Talking about state taxes. It appears when you think of the competition going on amongst states these days and in the incentives that they've been offering for different companies to comes to them -- Foxconn obviously making the big deal with the state of Wisconsin, Amazon just announced last week a big competition for them to come. Some of these incentives seem great because they're great jobs. But there's a larger question in the case of Foxconn about whether they actually pay off and whether it takes 25 to 30 years, even, to pay off. How do you think states should think about that?
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STEVEN MNUCHIN: I think the great thing about the Foxconn announcement is that we have manufacturing being brought back into the United States and being brought back into the heartland of the United States where we need jobs. So I think the President was instrumental in that, and to me that's a huge win.
I can't comment on the state negotiations, because I wasn't part of that. We were part of the deal of bringing them into the U.S. and making sure that we could create a competitive system. And I think one of the reasons they did that is because they were comfortable in where we were going on tax reform.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Okay. That make sense to you. But I'm saying from a state's perspective, if you said to yourself, as a citizen of a state, it will take 25, 30 years for us to get our money back, if we get it back at all, does that make sense?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, I haven't looked at the specifics -- I mean, I'm familiar with what the state offered, but I haven't gone through the numbers on whether it makes sense or not. I assume they think it does make sense, and I think competition between the states is healthy.
JOE KERNEN: You downplayed the overtures to the Democrats a little bit, that the President agreed upon, based upon that it was necessary for hurricane relief, et cetera. But it's been obviously played up a lot in terms of how Mitch McConnell feels about this, about how -- whether Paul Ryan, you know, looked askance at the way it went.
Are you worried that certain relationships are beyond repair between the President and certain Republicans at this point, and that he needs to actually court Democrats at this point?
Or you think all those Republicans will be there for you? They weren't there for you on health care.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I don't want to downplay it, because I think it was important that the President reached out to Democrats and showed that he could get things done on a bipartisan basis. And I think that's incredibly important. The President would like to have bipartisan support.
Having said that, I can tell you, I was with Paul yesterday. He was with the President at dinner earlier in the week. I'm going to be with Mitch again today.
These relationships are very important, and the relationships with the President are there.
JOE KERNEN: I saw a headline that it was the end of the two-party system.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I don't think we have to worry about the failure of the two-party system.
JOE KERNEN: The President is still Republican?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: The President is absolutely a Republican.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: I wanted to turn the conversation --
STEVEN MNUCHIN: As am I, by the way. I know on this show and others that's a question.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: I want to ask you about North Korea and where we are. North Korea has said that the U.S. will "pay a due price" for leading this drive of additional U.N. sanctions. And you, on the other hand, have said that their behavior is unacceptable. What do you have in your toolkit at this point?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I think it's a great opportunity being Treasury Secretary, and I had a lot of experience in domestic and international finance. There's a major part of Treasury, I probably spend 50% of my time on National Security, and the Treasury staff has given me a Ph.D.
So these sanctions work. They worked with Iran. The President, I fundamentally believe that we had Iran on the 5-yard line, and we could have cut a better deal; that a 10-year deal was not good enough on Iran.
And in North Korea, economic warfare works. I made it clear that the President was strongly considering and we sent a message that anybody that wanted to trade with North Korea, we would consider them not trading with us. We can put on economic sanctions to stop people trading.
Worked very closely with the U.N. I'm very pleased with the resolution that was just passed. This is some of the strongest items. We now have more tools in our toolbox, and we will continue to use them and put additional sanctions on North Korea until they stop this behavior.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: But we haven't been able to move the needle on China, which seems to be the real mover on this, in terms of being able to apply the real pressure.
What do you think the issue is? What is the problem?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I think we have absolutely moved the needle on China. I think what they agreed to yesterday was historic. I'd also say I put sanctions on a major Chinese bank. That's the first time that's ever been done. And if China doesn't follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system. And that's quite meaningful.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Does that put the U.S. multinationals at risk?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, our number was --
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: There's a balancing act in all of this.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Let me be clear, the President's number one concern is North Korea and is security. So when it comes to nuclear testing, when it comes to missiles, our number one priority is the safety of the American people, not the economics of multinational companies.
BECKY QUICK: One of the other issues with security has to do with cyber security. And we just learned about 143 million Americans' identities being compromised by Equifax.
That's certainly not the first of the data breaches that we've seen, but it looks more and more likely like Americans can just expect these things to happen.
What can Treasury do about this?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, Americans shouldn't expect these things to happen, and the current situation is obviously quite unfortunate.
I can't comment on the specifics of that, but I can tell you this is something that I am actively involved in. Tom Dosser and I, who is the Homeland Security Advisor, were on several calls yesterday.
Cyber is a big focus of mine for two reasons. One, I oversee the I.R.S., so we have an incredible amount of personal data, and we want to make sure that that is safe. And, number two, I'm concerned about the global financial system and keeping it protected. And I can assure you that we're working with all of the intelligence agencies on cyber issues to keep Americans' information safe.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: What do you think the liabilities should be for American corporations involved in data breaches?
Meaning, there's a piece that they're a victim. We all become victims. And on the other side, you have to decide, you know, whether they have done all of the right things in advance.
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I think it's a complicated issue. You have both international and government actors, as well as you have private people. I can't comment, again, on the specifics of this.
Our number one concern is making sure that the data is safe and working with industry on that. But I do agree with you, the issue of liability and responsibility for corporations, that those are very important issues. And I think public-private partnerships on cyber is critical.
This is not something that the private sector can do alone, and it's not something the government Congress can do alone.
JOE KERNEN: If Congress doesn't act in six months on DACA, what would the President do?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I can't comment on what the President will do. He wants them to act, but...
JOE KERNEN: After Speaker Pelosi answering the tweet he tweeted, that we'll deal with it at that point.
He saw, CEOs once again, the new arbiters of all morality, CEOs once again wrote a lot of letters about DACA, as they did about Virginia and everything else. And they wrote you about whether you're going to stay on. They are PR canaries in the coal mine to start with, or canaries in the PR coal mine. Have they become too sensitive to some of these things, or do you welcome them speaking out on every issue?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, first of all, I'm definitely staying on. It's a great opportunity to serve the President and the country.
As it relates to DACA, again, these are complicated issues. We have to have laws in our country, so there have to be immigration laws. And we can't just pick and choose what laws we want to enforce and what laws we don't want to enforce. So this is an issue that the President had said it's not legal the way it's done; that Congress should work on that.
And, you know, the one comment I would make on CEOs, I think CEOs have a responsibility to their company, and that's their responsibility. But they also have responsibilities to advise the government. And if every time there's an issue that the government does that CEOs say, "We don't like this and we're not going to give you advice anymore," that, to me, doesn't make sense.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: So what was your reaction, then, to the councils being dismantled?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, my view is that CEOs being on the councils didn't necessarily mean that they endorsed every single policy of the administration or the President. The purpose of the councils was to give the President advice on issues that they had --
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: And do you feel like you've been cut -- that there's been a cut-off?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Not at all. I think --
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: So was it just symbolic?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Again, I think there's still plenty of CEOs who come in and meet with us, and we will continue to reach out. But I personally think it was a mistake that the councils were disbanded.
BECKY QUICK: The stock market yesterday, the S&P 500, closed at another record level. When I spoke with you earlier in the year, we talked a little bit about how the administration kind of sees that as their report card or what's going on. Do you still see it that way?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: I think there's no question that the stock market has an expectation that we're going to get tax reform done, and that's partially built in.
I think also the stock market has expectations that we're going to create significant growth, which is what this President and this administration is focused on. So, yes, I take that as a big vote of confidence in the economic plan.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: A couple more quickies before we wrap up. Do you want to touch just on Russia and what you thought of Facebook's announcement last week that there were $100,000 worth of ads that had been bought by government-sponsored entities to influence the election?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: You know, again, I've obviously seen intelligence on this, and I can't comment on any classified information or what their role was or what it wasn't.
I personally think the sooner we get these investigations over and behind us, the better we are. Again, I'm not going to comment on this.
JOE KERNEN: The latest leak was still about Don Jr.'s meeting. After the last three months. Still nothing, no new stuff? Nothing else? No smoking guns? No leaks? We are still on the Don Jr. investigation.
We've got to talk to Hope Hicks. That's where it is now? Is that enough smoke, or is that a water pistol?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: It seems a little overblown to me. I can't comment on the specifics.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: All right. Personal question. Steve Bannon said over the weekend to Charlie Rose something fascinating about the way he thought about his relationship with the President. He says, "When you side with a man, you side with him. And you side with him that way publicly. But you don't necessarily side with him that way privately."
What's the difference between the conversations you're having with us now and the conversations you had with him inside the room?
STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, look, first of all, I've known the President for over 15 years. I worked with him on the campaign. So I've had the benefit of working with him for a long time. And I obviously feel comfortable with telling him my ideas on things. Sometimes we'll agree. Sometimes we don't agree. He's the President, and I respect that. And no different than a lieutenant who reports to the general, I work for him.
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Fair enough. The Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin. Thank you.
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