Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Expresses Support For DACA Solution; Trump Boasts About Immigration Meeting; Trump: GOP "Should Finally Take Control" Of Russia Probes; Feinstein Defies GOP, Release Fusion GPS Testimony; Court Strikes Down North Carolina Congressional Map. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 12:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:30:02] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people say 800,000, some people said -- yesterday, first time I heard 650. I also heard 3 million. The fact is, our country was such a mess, nobody knows what the numbers are. But we'll know what the numbers are.

But above all else, any bill we passed must improve jobs, wages, and security for American citizens. The people who elected us, all of us, the people that elected us, we have to take care of them. We have to have a strong military. We can't play games with our military. Whether we're Democrat or whether we're Republican, we have to have a strong -- that's not a point of negotiation.

We can't say, oh, we're going to give you money for your military but you have to give us money for something that, frankly, is much less important than security. And we have to keep our country strong. And our military was badly depleted over the last long period of time, beyond President Obama, I will say, beyond President Obama. Our military was very, very badly depleted.

I just spoke to President Moon. He is very thankful for what we've done. They're having talks with North Korea. We'll see how that happens. He felt that the original -- that the initial talk was extremely good, had a lot of good comment. Rex was on the phone, and Nikki has been totally briefed.

But we had a very, very good conversation, and we'll see where goes. He's very thankful for what we've done. It was so reported today that we were the ones -- without our attitude, that would have never happened. Who knows where it leads. Hopefully, it will lead to success for the world, not just for our country, but for the world. And we'll be seeing over the next number of weeks and months what happens.

On a separate front, we are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts. If somebody says something that's totally false and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled will have meaningful recourse. Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace, and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we're going to take a strong look at that. We want fairness. You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account. We're going to take a very, very strong look at that. And I think what the American people want to see is fairness.

Finally, as we begin the new year, I want to thank my Cabinet for working tirelessly on behalf of our country. Every single day every hour, I'm on the phone with almost all of them all the time. And we have a lot of exciting things to go.

I'm just looking at Alex Acosta. What a job you've done with our healthcare. He's Secretary of Labor, but he's very much involved in healthcare, and I think those rules and regulations will be out around February 1st, Alex, as I understand it. And this is healthcare through association and associations. And I think that millions and millions and millions of people will be signing up.

It will be highly competitive. He has been able to totally get rid of state lines so there will be tremendous competition. And that will be a phase of healthcare that people don't talk about.

But I think, ultimately, you'll have more people than you actually had even in Obamacare and it's just a segment of what we're doing. So, I just want to tell you, I read a lot of those papers last night, and it is really great work, brilliant work. I think it is something that people don't talk about, but it's something that's going to be very exciting and very great. It will be great healthcare at a very competitive price. There will be tremendous competition, and it will cost the United States absolutely zero. So we're very proud of that. Thank you, Alex.

And with that, I just -- we'll start our Cabinet meeting. And we appreciate your being here, and you've gotten very familiar with this room. I appreciate your nice comments yesterday. Thank you all very much. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, have you --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS HOST: President of the United States, arms folded there at the beginning of a Cabinet meeting and the end of the media portion of the Cabinet meeting. The President deciding not to take questions today, you heard him if you were with us about 12 minutes long. The President giving a lengthy recitation of what he views as his big accomplishments in his first year in office, whether it be a new Supreme Court justice and number of lower court justices, tax reform, repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare. Saying President Moon of South Korea told him today, if not for the tough U.S. posture, for the North Korea, the North would not have agreed to come back to the table.

[12:35:15] Yesterday, there was a conversation, whatever you thought -- whatever you think of the President, whatever you think about his policy, yesterday, he was engaging, he was funny, he was in command of that conversation at the White House. I would call this please help me. If you disagree, a little bit more scatter shot, the President reading from notes going over the way.

And number one, why is the President of the United States taking a minute or two there to talk about how in 2018, he wants part of the national agenda to be strengthening our libel laws? So that you can sue people for what he says is defamation and slander. Is that the Michael Wolff book? Is that, as we were talking during the conversation, his personal attorney says he wants to sue BuzzFeed for publishing part of the dossier? And then we'll get to it in a minute, the President giving himself rave reviews for yesterday. But what was that?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, let's just look at what's out there. This morning, he sent out several tweets about the dossier for a number of reasons, one, because Dianne Feinstein released the transcript of that, the testimony of this -- the executive of the company that helps fund the dossier. And also, because last night, his personal attorney who was a friend of his who he talks to sued -- said he was suing or filed suit against BuzzFeed and against Fusion GPS over the dossier.

So clearly, this is something that he's thinking about, that he is still very upset about, and I think you saw it a little bit in his demeanor today, arms folded. A little bit more terse than he was yesterday when he seemed to be kind of reaching out on the table, a little bit more relaxed. Clearly, he's irritated about the dossier being back on the agenda and back on television on the morning.

KING: And one of the things the White House pushed back forcefully, recent reporting, including in the Michael Wolff book, but also other reporting about how much time the President spends to Axios had a thing about, quote and unquote, executive time, put into his schedule. How much time he spends in the residence, how much time he spends in the dining room off of the Oval office, a little study off of the Oval office, watching cable television. The President talking about his performance yesterday and saying he got great reviews but --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Yesterday, we had a bipartisan meeting with House members and senators on immigration reform, something they've been talking about for many, many years. But we brought them together in this room, and it was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good. And my performance, you know, some of them called it a performance, I consider it work.

But it got great reviews by everybody other than two networks, who were phenomenal for about two hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: He went on to --

PHILLIP: How did he know?

KING: How does he know? That's a great point. How does he know? Number one, he didn't specify who he's talking about then he said he got letters from anchors telling him how great he was. Help me.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don't know which anchors he's talking about. I don't know if you sent him anything in particular. But --

KING: I can say that, you know, one on this table --

DEMIRJIAN: Right, exactly.

KING: -- that there's something he likes to tell the group.

DEMIRJIAN: Look, he opened up this whole part of the Cabinet meeting by saying welcome to the studio. I mean, he has both putting on a show and then the audience for the show in many ways, as well when he goes off into his executive time and watches the cable news shows. Again, I have to idea who sent him a letter.

MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it was interesting. It was sort of a wasted opportunity for the President. This is supposedly a Cabinet meeting to talk about the 2018 agenda. Supposedly, one of those issues is infrastructure. And this is something that the White House has said, is this going to be a something that many members of the Cabinet are going to be -- have influence and input on. It was a moment sort of redirect the conversation toward at the kind of legislation that, you know, the Democrat could get on board with, theoretically.

And he didn't do it, talking about libel laws. There are going to be no significant changes to libel laws, at least, not in this Congress. And so, I don't -- I think it was a perfect example of what the President's focused on, which is how people perceived him, not looking period to the 2018 agenda.

KING: His grievances, his performance, his reviews --

WARREN: Right.

KING: As supposed to, you make an excellent point, for those of you watching, maybe you're Trump supporter, you're thinking why are you talking about this, why are you making lie to this, why making fun of this. This is January 2018. The President has a 37 percent approval rating. The Republicans are at risk of losing their House and their Senate majorities.

To your point, yes, talk about tax reform, talk about judges, talks to the conservative base about your accomplishments, smart, good politics. You know, you're going to get coverage on television and then turn. Now, we're going to do this, this, and this and infrastructure. And yet, the President talks about my performance, welcome to my studio, and my grievances, including libel laws.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's not really much of a surprise. I think we've all kind of gotten used to this to some degree, but I think Mike makes a great point. Look, they're coming out of the Camp David meeting. They obviously have a tough 2018 that they're steering at right now.

Republicans on Capitol Hill that I talk to every day want is the President hammering home what they've done, which he did and then what their agenda would be. I've spoken to just about everybody who attended the Camp David summit or meeting over the course of the weekend and I can confirm that libel laws were not part of the 2018 agenda and didn't really come up.

[12:40:08] And I think look, at the end, he starts talking about the association health plans that they're trying to do through executive order. That's really interesting aspect.

He is grossly inflating kind of the scope and scale of what the Labor Department can actually do with that, but that's interesting. And that's something that Rand Paul pushed through, something Republicans have been talking about. But to make that at the tail end as supposed to four or five minutes about what happened yesterday and his performance and the TV ratings of it, I will say, if he was happy with the reviews, we I think, I can speak for everybody, would like him to do that every single day. I though it's a fascinating hour.

Every lawmaker I talk to who was at the meeting yesterday was kind of mind-blown by the entire thing. I think a view into things and their willingness to do stuff like that, everybody benefits from it, whether it's us or whether it's Phil (ph) or Washington.

KING: Amen to that. Whatever your politics, having a president, bringing the Democrats and Republicans have an open conversation, taking questions about the big issues of the day, in this case, immigration yesterday, amen. Do it everyday, do in everything. All right, quick break.

Next though, as Abby noted, Russia is back in the news. What does the President mean when he tweeted Republicans should finally take control of the investigations they already control?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:24] KING: Welcome back. Two big new debates in Washington today related to the Russia investigation. One, what is the big take away from the now public congressional testimony of the man whose firm paid the former British spy who compiled the now infamous dossier raising questions about alleged Donald Trump dealings with Russia. And two, what did the President mean when he sent this morning tweet, "The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems knows there was no collusion, and yet on and on it goes. Russia and the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing. Republicans should finally take control." Republicans should finally take control is what jumps out from that. Republicans, Mr. President, control Congress and all of the committees investigating Russian election meddling. The President's own Justice Department run by Republicans appointed the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director who happens to have a Republican political pedigree.

What is the President -- is this he's complaining Dianne Feinstein a Democrat released this transcript. He noted it earlier. One of the things that apparently President does seems a little bit more cranky today than yesterday. He's mad about that. Is that it? He thinks that someone even though the Republicans are in charge of everything, the Democrats are running the show or is it just the Russia is back in the news and that's what makes him mad?

PHILLIP: I think the President wants this investigation to go away and it's not --

KING: And isn't going to.

PHILLIP: -- gone.

KING: Right.

PHILLIP: And so therefore, until it goes away, he's going to keep asking for it to go away. And it doesn't matter what the process is. It doesn't matter if Republicans are kind of actually in a lot of ways doing what they can to minimize the scope and the impact of the investigation. Trump is going to keep talking about it day in and day out.

It's why you used already saw Republicans on the Hill being like, Mr. President, do not call me about this because it is not something they want to have to deal with more stories about the ways in which Trump is picking up the phone and trying to bend people's arms on this issue. He doesn't get the way that it works and he won't and he's going to keep asking for it to go away until it's gone.

WARREN: I think that the Feinstein decision to release this sort of shows a breakdown in what was happening particularly in the Senate investigation, which was sort of a bipartisan agreement, better forgetting the truth and probably better for the country bipartisan agreement to sort of pursue this in a reasonable, you know, moderated way. That seems to be breaking down, and that would be a cause for concern for the President because if the Democrats are sort of going to go their own way on this, who knows what else could come out.

But, I mean, the problem that the President mentioned, you know, this is going on and on and the Democrats know there's no collusion. I mean, the truth of the matter is is that we just don't know enough. We don't know enough about what in this dossier was a part of what sparked the FBI investigation. We don't know how much of it is true or not. Again, over and over again, we just don't know enough and the investigators know a lot more than we do. I'm inclined to try to figure out what they know. KING: On the issue of the dossier, Dianne Feinstein decided to release the testimony yesterday. The man who gave the testimony, Glenn Simpson of the GPS, and he wanted it public. Republicans were saying no. Republicans had a criminal referral saying there's some shenanigans here. So just her point was that you're taking this out of context, you're treating this man unfairly so I'm going to make it public and everybody can read the good, the bad, and the ugly in there.

Part of it is that Glenn Simpson who's the Fusion GPS founder brought this British spy as he was doing work anyway then they hired him to continue work and one of the big conversations, how did this end up being Democratic opposition research. But he says that Christopher Steel, the British spy -- former British spy, "He thought we were obligated to tell someone in government," meaning the FBI, "in our government about this information. He thought from his perspective there was an issue, a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed."

Now, that is now public. This testimony that the reason this got to the FBI and how big of it was it in their investigation, that's a great question you raised. There are other issues, as well. And now, the Republicans are mad that Dianne Feinstein did this on her own. Why does it matter?

DEMIRJIAN: It matters because, well, first of all, if Democrats are going to be kind of going rogue to an extent and making their own decisions but they can't subpoena anybody, but if they can release things that means they can control the narrative of how this comes out. That could affect how other witnesses choose to talk to committees, it couldn't certainly, you know, skew the public opinion before the reports come out.

Specifically, for the Senate Judiciary though it also matters because the dossier was such a central point of the complaint that Republicans have had both on Senate Judiciary and House Intelligence, which have been partisan split for a while now. They have been bickering quite a bit. For Grassley, he looks at Fusion GPS and says, OK, you were working with the Russian lawyer who was in the Trump Tower meeting at the same time as you're working with Steel. Maybe there's a big conspiracy here to make Trump look bad. And they've been talking about this issue and spinning around this issue quite a bit.

[12:50:06] And by kind of releasing this out there, Feinstein is released a lot of the air from those tires. And so, this is talking a fairly central bit about what the Republicans argument of painting what was going on here and compromising it. It's not completely resolved by releasing this transcript. But it definitely complicates the line of argument the Republicans are making and makes them have to kind of recalibrate a little bit at a point at which they were trying to kind of expertly spin things away from the President and back towards a real scrutiny of how the law enforcement officials, the FBI specifically, was doing its job this whole time.

KING: And the President tweeting this morning, he called her Sneaky Dianne Feinstein. Had an interesting, a polite exchange with her on immigration. We played in earlier program yesterday. Now he calls her Sneaky Dianne Feinstein. And on that nickname, President Trump gave the Senator Sneaky Dianne Feinstein. We'll see how that one goes.

Nancy Pelosi tweeted this, "Congratulations to California's own Senator Feinstein on officially earning her own @realDonaldTrump nickname. Clearly, doing something right." That's how Democrats view progress if you got a nickname from the President. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. A Federal court in North Carolina may have just increased the odds of Democrats taking back the House in the 2018 midterms. Three judges ruled the State's Republican Legislature illegally drew a congressional map that overly benefits Republican candidates.

Here's the map. Ten Republicans and three Democrats. Even if you remember, North Carolina's pretty much split down the middle in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections. The ruling is a big deal.

The first time a court has rejected a congressional map is unconstitutional because it's too partisan. And the state has now been told, it has these three weeks to draw a new map to be used in this year's elections. That means, North Carolina's Members of Congress might actually not know who the voters are going to be until they sort this out.

Now, the Republican say they're going to challenge this. This is a big deal in the sense that, number one, you need 24 seats to pick up the House if the Democrats get a gift here with new map that gives them one or two, three or four. That's the progress. Number two, I have long argued that the way congressional districts, House districts are drawn is the biggest cancer in American politics, because they do it so partisan that Republicans don't have to talk to Democrats. The Democrats don't have to talk to Republicans. Where is this going?

MATTINGLY: Look, I think the latter point is the one that I'm most interested in as well, the idea that it's almost like we're starting to hit a ripening stage where these types of cases not just go through lower courts, but actually end up near the Supreme Court or at the Supreme Court as well, where you're finally having a reckoning for something that has become -- and this just isn't a Republican thing. Democrats if they had any power in state legislatures would probably try and do the same thing. I think it's just politics in general.

And I think to your point, if you talk to Members of Congress, they recognize that this isn't a good system. This isn't necessarily how things should be treated, how maps should be drawn. But they also recognize that they benefit from it. And I think the fact that you can have courts ruling and courts ruling in this way, that perhaps maybe this isn't the best way to be doing things. That's a positive thing.

PHILLIP: And it's worth noting when President Obama left office, one of the things he said he was going to deal with was this very issue.

[12:55:03] He identified gerrymandering, the drawing of congressional districts as the single most important things for Democrats to get a better hold of the congressional map in the out-years. So, it's clearly for Democrats a big priority on the legal side in addition to the impact on with the near term on 2018.

WARREN: I just don't think there's a straightforward answer here, right? I mean --

MATTINGLY: True.

WARREN: -- this is an ex-panel of experts. How do you take the partisanship out of it? It's a very -- it's one that's been a problem for the country since the very beginning. And I think this is something the courts are going to be going into, you know, making decision about whether it was too partisan or not. It adds some new territory for the court as well.

KING: It's a great point. It'd be interesting how this Supreme Court rules on this issue when it gets there, because to the victor should go some spoils, if you win, you should get some victory or something for winning. But the question is do you go over the line there. Well, the conversation will continue.

Thanks for joining us now in INSIDE POLITICS. Wolf Blitzer will be in the chair after a quick break. See you back here this time tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)