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INSIDE POLITICS

CNN's Anthony Bourdain Dead At Age 61; House Democrats Ask FBI, DOJ To Investigate Pruitt; Trump Praises Giuliani Following His Controversial Remarks;. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 8, 2018 - 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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[12:30:53] ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN: So Budapest, I don't know why it took me so long to get here. Everybody said it was great. It is in fact great. Mostly cultural awesome mash-up of cool stuff but we haven't even talked about spam.

In a spectacular environment, I think what I should tell you is this, Hawaii, it's awesome, don't come here. I don't want to get all heavy and philosophical at this point. But why I'm here, what my mission is, what I expect to find? Basically me retracing my steps in all that, and we'll talk about that later. Right now, noodles!

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JOHN KING, CNN HOST: That smile tells you all. A man perfectly in his element traveling the world, eating amazing food, and telling spectacular stories with no filters. We're all wailing here and our family from the horrible death of our friend and colleague. Anthony Bourdain. His untimely death today at just 61 years old.

I want to talk to our Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter who knew Tony. Also Howie Kahn, who wrote a personal revealing profile of Anthony Bourdain just weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal magazine.

Brian let me start with you. There is an outpouring of sadness and recollections from viewers and others today. What are they saying?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Looking at Andrew Zimmern, the chef's Twitter feed just now, he had a great line about Anthony. He said, "Tony was a symphony."

You know, think about all the accomplishments in Bourdain's life. First a renowned chef, then a best-selling author then, a television icon. He did it all, he seemed to have it all. He lived. Oh, did he live.

He was endlessly curious, fearless, a restless spirit taking us around the world. And I'm hearing from a lot of viewers today, John, they were saying they feel like they've lost a friend. They never met him in person but they felt they know him so well thanks to the television show "Parts Unknown."

We've also just heard from President Obama who weighed in. Remember, Bourdain sat down with Obama in Vietnam in a famous episode of the series. President Obama sharing a picture from that visit and saying, "This is how I'll remember Tony. Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. He taught us about food but more importantly -- much more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We will miss him."

And of course President Trump also remembering Anthony Bourdain earlier today before leaving for Canada.

John, I think we all have Bourdain stories. I was thinking about my honeymoon going to Singapore, we had to go to this chicken shack in the middle of nowhere because Anthony had talked about it on television. And it was delicious. Everybody ate up Bourdain's advice, his sense of adventure, and his love for life.

KING: All right. The place in the middle of nowhere is the place you always want to find. Anthony gave us the map around the world. Brian stay with us.

Howie, in your profile, you wrote this about Anthony's relationship with Asia Argento. By the time he met Argento Bourdain says, he'd given up on the concept of romantic love. I was dead, he says. Now he keeps fruit loops and crunch berries in his kitchen for whenever Argento and the two kids come from Rome to visit.

Asia Argento twitting just a short time ago. "Anthony gave all of himself and everything that he did. He's brilliant, fearless spirit, touched and inspired so many and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine."

Howie, talk about this because you spent -- it's a remarkable profile, Anthony gave you incredible access often celebrities while you're doing a profile, say, sure, I'll give you 20 minutes, I'll give you half an hour. Take us inside and talk to us about Asia and others who defined and shaped his life.

HOWIE KAHN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, WALL STREET JOURNAL MAGAZINE (via telephone): First of all, I want to express my condolences to all of Tony's friends and his family and to all viewers as well. It was really interesting to see him and to sit with him. When I did in January, he was very clearly a man in love. He was, you know, blushing over it, and for that reason, I think he wanted to keep it really personal and private. It was really one of the only parts of our conversation that was off the record. But there was a feeling surrounding it that was palpable in the room like so many things are with Tony.

[12:35:00] One of the reasons that people loved him so much was because when he said things, you could feel him. That was one of his major gifts. KING: Any sense of the isolation? He said -- here's one -- a great quote from your -- but do you asked Bourdain if his many projects exhaust him, if he want to seek more balance in his life. He said, too late for that. He says, I think about it, I aspired to it. I feel guilty about it. I yearn for it.

Balance? I (INAUDIBLE) wish. What was that about?

KAHN (via telephone): I mean, Tony wasn't a fussy guy. He was not -- he's just not, you know, not a public personality. He had darkness, he had demons. I think everyday he, you know, try to live the best way he knows. Anthony Bourdain, he felt deeply -- he had deep convictions about what he was doing. But he also recognized, you know, that he had possibly made mistakes in his life, things he wanted to correct, things he wanted to resolve, things he wanted to keep doing as himself.

I mean, he was a, you know, a day-to-day project doing the best he could. And he was always really honest about it. I mean, I think another reasons that he was so attractive to people is because he was real.

We all have problems. We all have dark thoughts, we all have, you know, (INAUDIBLE). And Bourdain put that right on the surface. He said it from the beginning in his writing in "Kitchen Confidential" and kept doing it for the last 20 years.

KING: And Brian, Howie writes about this, you got to see it as being in New York and part of the family. Howie writes about -- you know, there are some people in our business, let's be honest, who really don't care about the guys who stand behind the camera, really don't spend much time on the audio, don't spend much time in the (INAUDIBLE) figuring out how all the pieces come together.

But Anthony did care about that. He tweeted about the music. He was in the edit phase. How did he change television?

STELTER: This is a video he posted just a few days ago, behind the scenes, working on upcoming episodes of "Parts Unknown." That's part of the mystery now, John. You know, he was there in France working on an upcoming episode. He seemed to be enjoying the production as he has for years. There been new episodes premiering just in the past few weeks.

He did change television. I think that's an important piece of this. He brought this style, this documentary style to CNN for the first time. He certainly changed CNN in that way. It was a new way to tell stories, it was a new kind of journalism. Not sitting down with people to interrogate them, but sitting down over a meal to tell a story and have a conversation.

So he certainly changed the face of CNN and I think more broadly changed the face of television. That's one of his many, many contributions and partly why it's such a devastating loss for all of us here. KING: Well, a devastating loss. Brian Stelter, Howie Kahn, I appreciate your insight tonight. I could not agree more. One of the -- we cover less and less international news on domestic cable and domestic broadcast that was right now. Tony had a gift. He was a spectacular storyteller, but you didn't know you were learning about the politics and the culture of a place. You thought you're going to talk about good food and a good drink and yet he introduced us to many places around the world that otherwise we (INAUDIBLE).

It's a sad day for us. Anthony Bourdain will be missed.

We'll be right back.

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[12:42:27] KING: New this hour, House Democrats formally requesting that the Justice Department and the FBI open a criminal investigation into the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's conduct in office. Pruitt already facing at least 13 federal investigations and reviews. Despite that, President Trump this morning giving him a blessing, sort of.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA and he was setting records. Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press, and I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.

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KING: We'll see what happens, the president says. Even in friendly territory this morning, Pruitt learning, you can't escape your controversies. A speech this morning, it's a Religious Freedom Summit, it's hosted mostly conservatives in the room but you see there, Pruitt interrupted by a protester holding a lotion bottle. That in reference to a report he used his security detail to track down his favorite brand of moisturizer.

To hear Pruitt tell it, this is all overblown. He's just a victim of the anti-Trump left.

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SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: The left doesn't want to talk about truth. The left doesn't want to talk about results. They just want to shout and they just want to -- and try to intimidate as opposed to talking about what's being done in this administration. There is a great change happening across the country. And with great change, comes a great opposition.

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KING: We can talk about the results. That's why he still has his job. Conservatives like (INAUDIBLE) results but if is true he spent so much on security details. It is true he spent $1,500 on a handful of fountain pens. It is true he stayed in a sweetheart deal in a lobbyist's condominium, the lobbyist had business before the EPA.

It is true he had a tax payer-funded employee tried to arrange a phone call with Chick-fil-A so they could try to help his wife get a Chick- fil-A franchise. I could go on. Those things, Mr. Administrator are true.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes --

KAROUN DEMIRIJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And don't leave out the next.

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JOHN MCCORMACK, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: -- to being comically (INAUDIBLE) so I'm wondering, is Trump keeping along for the last at this point. It's not quite clear. You have people like, you know, Joni Ernst, the Iowa Republican saying this is as swampy as they can get. I don't know how much longer he can last.

DEMIRIJIAN: I was just going to say that there's a -- this seems like the president could easily try to move him aside at this point and put somebody else, and there are plenty of people I think in that administration that would keep the policies alive.

But at a certain point, this becomes a question of like that the war that you're at with the press, the war that you're at with the public. And also all eyes are focused on Scott Pruitt right now which means that we're not focused on some other things the president might rather we not be focused on.

RAJU: Well, I mean, look -- that's the right point.

[12:45:01] I mean, if Scott Pruitt step aside, you now, leaving the confirmation battle aside which would be very difficult to confirm anyone. You could put an acting EPA administrator over there who would implement essentially the exact same things that Scott Pruitt is doing. So really, this is not about the policy, this is about the president deciding he wants to stick with the personality here.

And Republicans on the Hill, I talked a lot to them yesterday about this, they are very frustrated, they're -- they think that this is a big distraction for this administration. They do want him to step aside. They're not being very aggressive about it. I think that could change once some of these inspector general's reports come out.

The chairman of Senate Environment and Public Works John Barrasso would not tell me if he had confidence in Scott Pruitt. He said he wants to see those I.G. reports, so perhaps that could change.

KING: And this is the kind of stuff that people get. We're talking about complex budget matters, complex regulatory matters. So a lot of voters back home don't process it so much. Using your security details to blow it through the red lights to get you on time to a restaurant accommodation, they get that.

Let's just go through in the past week. Today, Toyota offered Pruitt private test drive of new Lexus mode e-mail show. If you're looking at (INAUDIBLE) you're getting a private test drive.

Daily Beast on Thursday, "Scott Pruitt made public servants fetch his protein bars and Greek yogurt. Pruitt enlisted security detail in picking up his dry cleaning, his moisturizing lotion. Wednesday, another mess for Pruitt, overstaying his White House welcome at lunch. Two of Scott Pruitt top aides resigned amid EPA scrutiny.

Scott Pruitt sought business opportunity with Chick-fil-A while leading EPA. Scott Pruitt had aides do various personal tasks including hunt for used Trump Hotel mattress.

Judgment call on the last one. This is an administration who said it was going to drain the swamp. Scott Pruitt makes that laughable. He makes that laughable. It's an administration, a Republican president, a Republican Congress that had to answer, why did they pass this big spending bill? If you're going to be stewards of the tax payer dollars that's why I'm asking your tax payer-funded assistant to help your wife to get a job or to pick up your dry cleaning or to drive you to get lotion.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: Right. But the press -- but at this point, it's sort of the damage is done so to speak or maybe in other way to look at it, is there a sort of inoculation effect like, what else could come out that would surprise us in the realm of Scott Pruitt.

And so as Manu said --

KING: That was standard?

TALEV: Well, as Manu said I think --

KING: That's the standard. Not honest, ethical use of taxpayer dollars and reasonable, reasonable limits on your power instead of going on a power trip and telling people I need some lotions, let's drive to the red light.

TALEV: (INAUDIBLE) reporting is that there was a period a few weeks ago where Scott Pruitt is real peril with President Trump and it was sort of being openly behind the scenes discuss out here being discuss right now. And may be that's just because there's a North Korea summit to prepare for, and the attention has largely diverted.

But it may also be because the president really did not like to be told what to do, and he may have just decided, you know what, this isn't great but I refuse to let pressure drawn out one of my appointees and so I m going to stick by him. I think we shall see, to borrow a phrase from somebody else. But I don't think this is resolved yet.

KING: People have said, we'll see what happens.

All right.

TALEV: Because some people say. KING: Next for us, Rudy Giuliani may have irritated both the first lady and the secretary of state, but today, the president has praise for his top attorney.

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[12:52:21] KING: I want to show you some pictures. This is a short time ago. President Trump arriving at the G7 summit in Quebec. You see the French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the President Trump there. They had a brief conversation.

They are supposed to meet one on one. That meeting ritual had been delayed, postponed. The president was more than an hour late. That is the reason the White House says why was that delayed.

A lunch of the leaders now. We'll try to get more of that.

Also, a harsh statement from John McCain issued just a moments ago about the president's statement this morning that Russia should be allowed back in to the G8. Senator McCain saying that is a horrible idea of not being polite at characterizing. The senators state with more on that later.

Now, into another story. Melania Trump mad at Rudy Giuliani. Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner also mad at Rudy Giuliani. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes three. The client, though, making clear today he is happy.

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TRUMP: Rudy is great, but Rudy is Rudy. But Rudy is doing a very good job, actually.

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KING: The first lady's pique is related to loose Giuliani talked about the Stormy Daniels saga. Kushner and Pompeo not thrilled about Giuliani winging it on critical diplomatic issues including his assertion that Kim Jong-un begged the Trump administration to go forward with the Singapore summit.

Is this just amusing or is this consequential? And that having the president's top lawyer who's supposed to be focused on the Russia meddling investigation. Saying a lot of things out of school about administration policy or the views of the first lady here, and then being told by everybody involved, hey, you're wrong, shut up.

RAJU: It's very Trumpy of him isn't it? I mean, everything that he says kinds of feeds to this destruction, chaos, that contradictory of one statement then -- or another and it forces a lot of media coverage. And perhaps that's the reason why Trump likes him.

But on the Kim summit, I mean, that something that kind of significant consequences about what he said. That's why you heard a lot of criticisms from Pompeo. And then a lot of Republicans on the Hill yesterday saying, what is he doing? And that (INAUDIBLE) statement is a very significant sensitive issue. Don't run your mouth like that.

KING: And in the case of speaking for the first lady, you guaranteed more coverage of the Stormy Daniels allegation which is that she had a relationship with the president of the United States. Rudy Giuliani said that Mrs. Trump did not believe that. Her communications director issued an on the record statement. "I don't' believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani." Ouch.

DEMIRJIAN: Which is a pretty -- yes, it's a pretty start slapping the face statement if you could say that. Look, I'm distract by -- it's interesting right because as we were saying, Rudy Giuliani's tactics not that defend the President Trump. You can't criticize the president if you're working for him and not expected to suffer the consequences. But I'm sure that we can see a little bit about the frustration of people in this administration sometimes with him when he kicks the Twitter in the way that they're reacting right now to Rudy Giuliani.

It's clearly doesn't match the way everybody under President Trump is talking about Rudy versus the way the president is too.

[12:55:01] But, that tells you a little bit about the tolerance level -- the true tolerance level for people in the White House who want there to be more established (INAUDIBLE) shall we say, or predictability about these things and the people that goes off script --

KING: But the presidency is rising down in the polls especially among Republicans about Bob Mueller and the investigation. Rudy is on T.V. almost every day talking about it, so from the president's scorecard, that's a win.

MCCORMACK: The president likes it and it's interesting that he used -- in the defense of Rudy. Rudy is being Rudy, you always hear, Trump is being Trump. So it is interesting in that respect.

But Rudy is not doing himself any favor. You know, he's not running for office but he's gone from being America's mayor, one of the most esteemed and respected people in the country to having a 29 percent favorable rating according to a poll out this week.

KING: Ouch. Ouch. And this in Bloomberg, (INAUDIBLE), a former prosecutor saying, "Rudy is doing what his client wants him to do." He goes on to say, "This is -- that is where long-time prosecutors and current prosecutors unfortunately look at Rudy Giuliani and shake their heads."

So into your point, a man who was once taking very seriously both on being mayor of New York and in the law and order world because he was a former prosecutor, not so much now.

Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here Sunday morning. I wake up early.

Wolf starts after a quick break. Have a wonderful Friday. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)