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INSIDE POLITICS

Mueller Gets Search Warrant For Facebook Ad Info; NYT Reporter Overhears Trump Lawyers Talk Russia; Trump's Sunday Morning Tweets Raise Eyebrows. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 18, 2017 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[12:31:55] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: Welcome back. The Special Counsel investigation into Russian election meddling now reaching inside social media giant, Facebook. Sources confirming to CNN, Robert Mueller's team has obtained a search warrant compelling Facebook to surrender information about campaign-related ads bought by account that now been linked back to the Russian government.

Here's why this could really matter. To get such a sweeping warrant, prosecutors need to demonstrate probable cause of a crime. It's illegal for a foreign national to interfere in the U.S. election and it would be a crime if any U.S. citizen worked colluded with them, for example, to offer political advice like with issues and states. Those ads should target.

So this is a, A, it's big deal anyway to have a private company like Facebook, have the Special Counsel come knocking saying, turn over the records. And now you get into this whole question, this collusion question and the idea is the Trump campaign will tell you. Their team dragged about their use of digital space particularly Facebook in the final weeks of the campaign they think is what turned Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Now the question is, if this Russian accounts, Russian bought ads were in the same places, coincidence or not?

JULIE PACE, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPODENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I mean, it's a huge open question I think at this point, but this is what the Mueller team is after right now. We've been in this space with the Russian investigations where you've had a lot of rumors floating around, a lot of ticky-tack things out there.

This is pretty serious. This is a big deal not just for this investigation. It's a big deal for future U.S. elections. And Facebook, the company that has been pretty opaque in their political dealings, pretty opaque in terms of how their ads are purchased, who they deal with there. So the consequences of this, not just for the Mueller investigation but broadly for politics, for big tech and its relationship with Washington are -- could be hugely consequential.

JACKIE CALMES, WHIT HOUSE EDITOR, LOS ANGELES TIMES: That's right. I mean, we're into the mid-term cycle now which is a hugely consequential mid-term. I mean, most of them are, but this one really is and with the control of Congress at stake in the mid-term of the Trump administration. So, it's really -- you know, you have to wonder what's going on now that is going undetected. They were so successful apparently in the 2016 election.

KING: It's a great point both for the -- any campaign regulatory agencies and the social media giants in the idea that what do you have to do to more properly vet --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

KING: -- when you're taking money from, where is that money coming from. It's hard, you say about its fake account, it's hard, but it's doable. That's one of the challenges.

I want to go out for another piece of the story, dramatic story of the New York Times today about two of the President's lawyers sitting outdoors in a Washington D.C. steak house talking about the strategy in dealing with the special counsel investigation we just talked to. Talking about debates within the team about how cooperatively, debates within the team about transparent it could be.

Let's listen to the New York Times reporter who was sitting as close as I I'm to you, Jackie, Ken Vogel. The President's lawyers are there. He's, hance, at the next table and he hears this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN VOGEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: As I sat there by myself at this table taking notes on my iPhone, they preceded to discuss --

UNIDETIFIED FEMALE: Wow.

VOGEL: -- some of the, you know, the most sensitive of the sensitive area in way that was very easily audible to me and allowed for us to get at some of these issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:35:09] KING: Among the things they are talking is how cooperative to be. And there's a picture of the two attorneys. They're talking about (INAUDIBLE) sitting at the table at a D.C. steak house, very recognizable men, very well-known in the legal community, political community here in Washington D.C. The restaurant happens to be steps from the New York Times Washington Bureau. Smart choice.

The issues includes disagreements about how cooperative and transparent to be with Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, whether to actually give him documents even before he ask for them or to wait and make sure only give him what he exactly asks for. At one point, they said that Don McGhan, the White House Counsel, the President's White House Attorney had documents locked in a safe. Now, we don't know what that means, but for two, the President's lawyers to be having a debate about strategy and to say that publicly is nuts.

PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: The idea that it's in a restaurant, of course, bad form, (INAUDIBLE) and that kind of thing. But I think the core that they're talking about is a real big issue is, are they going to cooperate or not. This is where coming out Mueller is I feel like going for the kill (INAUDIBLE). He is really pushing pretty hard inside the White House.

And, you know, (INAUDIBLE) the question of, will the White House cooperate, will documents going to be turned over in (INAUDIBLE). So, now you're here, we're ultimately, this will going to come and it looks like a fight over executive privilege, over about with documents given this and become a place where this will be the politics that's really hard here. What is Trump going to do with this investigation that could really change and may be harm obviously in his presidency.

His lawyers are not feel that threat and they're talking about which documents to hand over or which not, which tells you the level of stories here that were coming to.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And even what they've exposed also is a question -- it opens the question of whether other people in the White House will be now brought into Mueller's probe. When you are in a -- yes, there is a turning point from this, but it's not exactly the same when you are an, you know, employee of the White House and you see. They could now be brought in especially if there is, you know, credible evidence spoken out of the mouths of lawyers themselves, that there may be documents in the state for other things there. You may see some of these other people getting pulled into the probe now which complicates the legal defense for the Trump team and even more.

BACON: And with the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: There's a paragraph of the story about the fear inside the White House trepidation about this, inside the White House, that there are some people think that some of the colleagues might be wearing a wire, were wearing a wire for Bob Mueller. I mean, that -- again, great going to work every day, right?

CALMES: Well, and we saw some of that during the investigations on the second Clinton term.

KING: Right.

CALMES: But not like that. I mean, this is a far more serious. That went to the personnel --

BACON: Conduct.

CALMES: -- conduct of the President. This goes to the entire campaign and potential colluding with an adversary.

KING: And potential, emphasis potential, potential with Special Counsel looking into obstruction by the President --

CALMES: Right, exactly.

KING: -- of the United States, it's not the candidate. DEMIRJIAN: But exactly it is potential and if we -- you know, if McGhan is right that there's nothing there and that's why he should be handing over more documents because it will show the President (INAUDIBLE) anything wrong. They are creating --

KING: Could be unlocking the safe, it's not locking the safe.

DEMIRJIAN: Definitely. But again, I mean, if this -- and this means something that is a self-constructed nightmare that didn't need to be there, then why?

CALMES: Why did you say quickly -- I mean, nothing about what the lawyers reportedly said to each other surprised me really. And Don McGhan, it is his job as a White House counsel, not to represent the President individually, but to represent the office of the President. So he has to be concern about President set.

What surprised me about this is that they were saying this. I worked in the New York Times Bureau for nine years. I had many lunches at DOT. There, or any place out, I always looked around the room to see who was there before I talked. And the fact that the two lawyers didn't is astounding.

KING: Common sense. That's one is interesting to watch. We've seen the President blow off his legal team in the past. We'll see how this story sets with the President today.

Up next, it seems the President spend a lot of time on Twitter this weekend. But was it presidential tweets, including the rocket man. Next.

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[12:43:03] KING: Moments ago, President Trump tweeting his praise for the United Nations Secretary General saying, "We commend Antonio Guterres and his call for the U.N. to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy." Compare that to this weekend. We know the President spent a good part of his weekend preparing for that U.N. meeting and other speeches sessions at the U.N. general assembly. The big speech is tomorrow.

The President also took some time to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes. An early morning Twitter spree, among his many tweets and retweets, he shared this. "I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad."

He also retweeted a video, heavily edited, to look like he's hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. You see that there. This from a man who once promised this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point, I'm going to be so presidential that you people will be so bored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting. I want to distinguish between the two in that people foreign policy establishment will cringe a bit when you call Kim Jong-un, "rocket man." I think most Americans probably get the President a grace to say that's the way he wants to say it, that's just fine.

The video where you show, he retweets a video edited by a pro-Trump Twitter feed upon hitting a golf ball that hits the Secretary of State Democratic presidential candidate in the back of the head and she falls. That was stripping into since she hit. People yesterday took some laughter on the Sunday program is people thinking that, you know, we thought that was funny. That part is not funny. That part is not funny.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: He's the President of the United States. If your kid did this, your kid would be punished.

BACON: I put that talking about, you know, (INAUDIBLE) in the Twitter and how bad it was his tweets about women in particular are bad.

KING: Given his history of -- you're right.

(CROSSTALK)

BACON: This is bad. The first one is maybe a little funny. You can't fix the North Korea problems that he sort of venting act like a little bit, but the Hillary one is awful.

[12:45:06] DEMIRJIAN: Yes. Both of them were not good. I think the North Korean one -- I mean, the Hillary one is really bad form. The North Korea one has potential implications that are very, very "geopolitically disastrous," right. Kim Jong-un probably thinks it's cool to be called rocket man to the extent. This is a guy who invite Dennis Rodman to hang out and, you know, in his country.

Anything that kind of gives him a little bit of levity in the situation makes it somehow less serious and it's extremely serious situation that they cannot find a way to cut through. This is not going to make China turn around and start to, you know, extinctions pressure and everything else like that on North Korea.

KING: To that point, again, I think a lot of people in the country with the President more grace, and his supporters probably like the golf video too some in many way. But to the idea that the timing too, the timing, is this about to go to the United Nations, a lot of people trying to figure out, you know, Twitter Trump versus teleprompter Trump versus what the staff says, he really wants to do and he does something like this.

CALMES: Well, you know, and this was weekend where the White House said he was preparing for this big week at the U.N. And when you think of all the many issues in the world that he could have been studying up on, instead that tweet of him hitting his former rival with a golf ball was tweeted by someone else of -- well, shall we just say, of questionable reputation. And what is the President of the United States doing indulging in those kind of tweets, didn't he have more to do this weekend than to be -- and not only seeing them, but retweeting them.

KING: And if National Security advisers on national television, he's a combat veteran, he's a general, he's a man with a distinguished record serving his country and he has to defend the President of the United State's tweets than he even he knows --

PACE: About rocket man and Hillary. And it comes at a time when his aides were trying to, you know, were seen on Friday where they're talking about the U.N. and talking about how he's going to be very serious and how he's taking these meetings, you know, how he's taking them seriously and going to present a good front for the United States for the world. They cringe too. I mean, you have to be up front about this.

It's not just us in the media. His own aides cringe when he decide to things happen because then they have to go out and defend it. And I think we can also again wipe away any notion that John Kelly and any new structure in White House is going to end this. It's just not.

KING: It moderate at a time it seems but ending it no. Everybody hold their breath. Up next, the Hollywood rituals, dresses that cost more than your car. And now barbwire (ph) jokes about the President.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:51:38] STEPHEN COLBERT, THE LATE SHOW HOST, CBS: Is there anyone who can say how big the audience is? Sean, do you know?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmy's period both in person and around the world.

COLBERT: Wow. That really soothes my fragile ego.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We haven't heard, there it was right there. A new twist on an old line. Sean Spicer rolling out on the stage. It may have been the biggest surprise last night. The biggest star unquestionably the President Hollywood loves the most.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, ACTRESS, "VEEP": We did have a whole story line about an impeachment but we abandoned that because they were worried that someone else might get to it at first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The President's approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes you might say once flat long ago. But even some of the comedians who rose them for a living, some of them acknowledge the jokes are starting to feel a little tired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW": And your show has been -- that thing you say about Trump being ban, so fresh. So fresh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It was interesting. It is interesting. There's no question. The Hollywood largely liberal establishment does not like the current Republican President of the United States. They also know that he likes to be liked. And so they know that when they do this, it gets in his face. Does it matter? That he is so permeated pop culture this way.

PACE: Well it's interesting that Trump did not respond.

KING: Right.

PACE: It was like the Oscars when he was almost tweeting in realtime.

KING: Merrill Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Yes.

(OFF-MIC)

PACE: Look, to me, there's a difference between the jokes about Trump and then the joke with Spicer. Maybe people will think that I'm being humorless about this but I don't think it's funny to have a press secretary basically acknowledging that they were lying from the White House podium. It's not funny. That has real damaging consequences.

KING: Well, it's an interesting conversation. The conversation in this town because people wonder if Sean Spicer redeems himself and gets a job in politics from public relations. If you look at social media last night, a lot of Trump critics and a lot of liberals were mad at the own liberal Hollywood establishment saying do not help rehabilitate this man.

I would say this, number one, I know firsthand from friends in the town, Sean Spicer is having a really hard time getting his -- these are people reach out to some of the bigger firms here in town and the answer is been thanks, but no thanks. Number two, he was the joke. And I know some people don't find it funny, but yes, he got a moment, yes, he got to mingle with the stars, yes he got to the party and drink beer and take selfie with stars but his moment on stage was he was the joke.

BACON: And one probably the worst moment of a press secretary that I can remember. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

BACON: That January 21st, well always remember that, one of the worst moments any press secretaries (INAUDIBLE) it was a joke. I'm not sure it helps them move on to the next stage. He has been in the Republican Party a long time we have known it for a long time. So, I assume he wants to get back into something like politics. I don't know if that will be easy or hard, but he sort of -- I assume-- trying to make fun of himself in stage (ph). Look, like Julie said, those big moments when you talk about April Ryan, those were not particularly funny or redeeming moments.

PACE: Being in an administration is supposed to be able to get a golden ticket to get a job after in administration, right, and then cash out. But if you sold your integrity to an extent, you know, that is, I guess a warning for anybody that might follow that making some more decisions.

[12:55:12] CALMES: Right. And I wouldn't wish anyone ill, but if Sean Spicer were indeed to find himself unable to get the big job that he wanted to parlay this into, it would really say something about Washington writ large and the Trump administration that there is, you know -- we always joke about Washington that there are always second acts in politics. I mean, look at Newt Gingrich, he resigned in amidst of scandal and shame and he's back as a major commentator on politics.

And this -- if this is -- this would show that there is a limit. That there some things like lying to the American public that are a bridge too far.

KING: On the broader question of Hollywood versus Trump, I just want to say this, Kellyanne Conway this morning saying, go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: They've got pluck and polished and whacked and someone who didn't eat for two months and offer what? To sound the same and they have a right to speak, but if you are tuning in to watch -- if you're American you're tuning in to watch your favorite actors and actresses and shows -- and I used to do it routinely as a kid. Who is going to win? And she lost and I love her show. There is very little of that. It's between the Emmys, the Miss America pageant was politicized. Our sports are very politicized and it looks like the ratings are suffering. It looks like America is responding by tuning out because they want you to stick to your knitting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I'm told the initial ratings were down from last night. If that holds up in the final ratings, how long until the President tweets that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: They have plucked and polished and wax and some didn't eat for two months. That's a pretty priceless.

All right, we got to go. Thanks for watching us in Inside Politics. We'll see you back here tomorrow. President Trump set to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next hour. Wolf Blitzer picks up that important coverage after a quick break.

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