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INSIDE POLITICS

Migrants At Border Seek Asylum; Trump Talks about Deporting Immigrants; Harley-Davidson Shifts Production; Farmers Fear Trade War Hurts Bottom Line. Aired 12n-12:30p ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

The president ratchets up his anti-immigration rhetoric. Does he really plan to deny due process to those crossing the border, or is he trying to look tough after an embarrassing family separation flip- flop?

Plus, the president's trade war wobbles financial markets and slams an iconic American brand. Harley-Davidson is taking a big, financial hit and now says it has no choice but to move some production overseas.

And incivility in America. The president loves insulting and inciting his critics, but is the left now going too far in its counterpunch? Florida's attorney general among the prominent Trump supporters asked to leave or heckled when trying to eat at a restaurant, or take in a movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: If she wants people to protest, that's one thing. But to continue this, they're inciting violence. It's not just yelling at someone and cursing at someone in a public place. They were trying to create a fight. So then we went into the movie and I said, I'm not going to leave. By then there were marked units everywhere. And so after the movie they said, do you want to go out the back door? And I said, no way, I'm not going to be bullied by them. We're walking out the door that we came in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back to that story in a moment.

But we begin today with long lines at the U.S.-Mexican border and the tough talk of a president who wants his base to forget a giant White House immigration about face. On Twitter to begin the work week, this presidential vow, quote, to build a wall, and scorn for those who think more judges are now the answer to handling illegal border crossings.

Today's muscular tweets follow the president's brash weekend rejection of a long-time American ideal, due process. The president tweeting, quote, we cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came.

That tough talk from the president sure to be candy to the Trump base. It is also a trademark strategy when this president is proven wrong or forced into a legal or political retreat. His government now scrambling to reunite families separated by the president's zero tolerance policy. More than 500 children have been reunited as of this weekend. More than 2,000 still in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, waiting to see their parents again. Not sure exactly when that will happen.

Now, word today travels fast. Many migrants making their way toward the border now know families are no longer to be separated.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is live from the border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico.

Leyla, tell us what you're seeing right there.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, well, John, right behind me you can see this group of people sort of crowded around. Right now officials are actually taking in about 50 people who plan to seek asylum at the port of entry. This right here, what you're seeing, that's the legal way to do this.

I talked to quite a few people who tell me they had -- they were hesitating. They had reservations about getting back in this line. But once they heard that President Trump signed the executive order saying child separation, or family separations, rather, were no longer going to be a thing, they got back in that line. Mothers who had backed off saying, look, I can't go back to Honduras but I also can't have my family separated. They were dealing with that sort of uncertainty. And now they are moving forward.

They have this sort of unofficial list. The migrants made it. They manage it. And on that list right now, John, there are more than a thousand people. A thousand people waiting to get in. They put their name on the list and they come back weeks later.

The woman who was next in line, a mother from Honduras traveling with her child, she said that she's been on the list for 16 days now. And so she plans to go in there and tell U.S. immigration officials her story, which is she is escaping violence. There was a threat made to herself, as well as her child. And she says if she goes back to Honduras, she could be killed. That's why she's heading here, out of desperation.

We talked to her about the criticism that so many people have asked, what kind of parent would do this, and her response to me was, a desperate parent.

John.

KING: And, Leyla, do they have any sense of what awaits on the other side? Meaning, the administration is now scrambling to create these new detention centers for families, but do those -- those migrants hoping to get asylum, knowing they could -- will be stopped and questioned, do they have any sense of what's going to be on the other side?

SANTIAGO: You know, many of these migrants are keeping up with the news because they're heading right toward that, right toward a place where immigration policy is really being debated right now. So they're keeping up with the news.

But I will tell you, John, I spoke to a 16-year-old girl who she said the gangs threatened her, told her she had two options, either sell drugs or prostitution. The next day, her mother put her on a bus by herself, crossed the country of Mexico. And when I told her, do you know what's going to happen to you, do you know what this process is like? And she said, no. She had no idea if she would get to her aunt in North Carolina. She had no idea if she would be in immigration custody forever. Or she said she had no idea if they would return her to Honduras, where she felt she would face death if she didn't sell drugs or become a prostitute.

[12:05:19] KING: Leyla Santiago for us. That's at the border crossing in Tijuana.

Leyla, appreciate it.

With me here in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Eliana Johnson from "Politico," CNN's Phil Mattingly, Tarini Parti with "BuzzFeed News," and Margaret Talev with "Bloomberg."

Again, to make the distinction, that's how, if you're going to do it, that's how you're supposed to do it. If you want asylum in the United States, come to the border crossing and declare yourself. The president's scorn has been more at those who come across illegally trying to do that.

But over the weekend, the president's saying to people, let's forget due process. Let's -- no judges. Even a lot of Republicans have said, let's have more judges. Let's have more judges. We can handle these cases quicker. People will be in these detention centers for a shorter period of time. We can clean this up faster.

Is the president really, really hopeful of such a step, or is he just trying to get his base to forget he reversed course last week?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": I think throughout this whole immigration fiasco for the Trump administration, there are many cases in which policy has followed the president's rhetoric. And that's why it's been such a confusing process. And it's not clear whether the president was just blowing off steam and tweets, and there's a policy that will follow this or not at this point.

But I do think it's important to point out that there is a statute that gives the president, by law, the power to cut off -- simply cut off immigration. Immigrants -- illegal immigrants are not necessarily entitled to a hearing before a judge. If the president overrules that and makes it our policy, simply to cut off immigration from, x, y or z countries right now. And so -- but I think it's not clear whether he's going to take that step. We'll have to see in the coming days.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I think what's interesting is kind of the two different worlds between the Oval Office and how they're trying -- the president wants to apparently try to address this on Capitol Hill, where Republicans are trying to figure out some type of short term fix to the executive action and every kind of -- the madness that followed as they try and figure it out.

To your point, Republicans are trying to surge immigration judges. They're trying to speed up the process. They're trying to essentially supersede a court ruling from 1997. Basically make this entire process quicker and that's the way you address the concerns that are happening right now about detained families, keeping families together and then sending families back if those claims or not -- don't pass muster in a quick manner. That's the way the president's allies on Capitol Hill want to address this. That's the way Republicans in general want to address this.

I think to Eliana's point, lawyers have looked at things like this, like what the president is asking for, in the past on immigration and decided there's not really a pathway forward there. There -- this isn't saying that his lawyers won't do this and his lawyers won't try and follow up with what he's saying, it just diverges dramatically from where the rest of his party is as they try and figure out some type of solution here.

KING: Right. And it does steer, and the president's very good at this, he understands how this works. It does steer the conversation away from, OK, after not being able to answer questions for days, the government did, over the weekend, to its credit, put out a list and said we have a policy. We're trying to locate these families. That we've reunited 522, I believe it was, as of Saturday night. Two thousand and fifty-three, if my numbers are correct, around then were still, you know, in these shelters and they're trying to connect the dots and everything. Applaud them for their effort.

Now the skepticism is, do you actually have everybody accounted for? What is the process in place then to locate the parents? How is this all going to play out? That is a policy confrontation. It's a humanity conversation as well, whatever your views on immigration, you want these families to be properly reunited. The president would rather talk tough like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the word "compassion" comes into it, but it's still equally as tough, if not tougher.

We're going to keep families together, but the border is going to be just as tough as it's been.

If we don't do it, you will be inundated with people and you really won't have a country anymore.

Our issue is strong borders, no crime. Their issue is, open borders, let MS-13 all over our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: There are people -- a lot of people who recoil at some of the words. But when the president says "infest" in tweets or "these people" in the tweet about we don't need judges, that is a conversation that he believes plays to his benefit.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "BUZZFEED NEWS": Right. We saw last week the first split second there that the president brought up governing with heart. He mentioned that when he signed the executive order. But in the last few weeks, he's used such strong language against immigrants that he's clearly made the calculation that this is what his base wants and that this is what's going to help them in the 2018 election.

JOHNSON: Well, I think the reason he's ratcheted up his rhetoric is that he doesn't want his base to think he's retreating.

KING: Right.

JOHNSON: When he has actually retreated from this and the most likely outcome is that the government will go back to a catch and release, which is the policy from the Obama era that he's been (INAUDIBLE) against.

So while substantively he has taken a step back, he's ratcheted up his rhetoric, you know, two or three steps forward.

[12:10:06] KING: Right, or they are now at the Pentagon looking to build these family detention centers, for lack of a better word. And someone help me if there's a better way to put it. But to create centers where you can actually keep the families together.

Now, whether that stands up in court is a whole different issue, which is where you bring in the short term congressional action.

Let's come back to Congress a bit later in the program, but as the -- as the administration now goes through this, this is Jim Lankford, Republican senator from Oklahoma, who says he buys it when the government says, we have all these children we've accounted for, now we're trying to do difficult work. They acknowledge it will take some time because people are in legal proceedings. Some of them are elsewhere in the country. Some of them may have left the country. We're going to figure out those. Senator Lankford says, I take them at their word.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: We know where every single child is. This is an issue that's gone out there somewhat in some of the other media that's been -- not been responsible for this with the assumption that the administration's lost track of that. So let me clarify a couple of things. These are career professionals that work HHS. And that work with DHS and Customs and Border Patrol and ICE. These are not political appointees. These are career folks. They know where every child is to be able to connect them to their parent or the relative that came.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, he's a serious policy guy. He seems to trust them. Is that well placed?

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG": Well, I think there's two agencies to watch now, and one is going to be the Pentagon, the other's going to be the Department of Homeland Security. I suppose the Department of Justice would be a third. But how the agency implements the rhetoric that the president is talking about, often from Twitter, is how everyone finds out about it, including the administration. How those agencies take those and access are going to be really important to watch in the coming days. Mattis has always been kind of -- his reputation inside the White House has been to kind of slow walk or hold the line when the president says, we've got to do x, y, z. He says, OK, we'll take a look at that. And a slow process begins that take a very long time to unfold. Is that going to continue to be the pattern or are things going to happen very quickly?

And then the courts, of course, are the other place to watch. For the president you'd ask, like, is he serious? Does he really want it to happen or is it just rhetoric? And I think the answer is, yes. I mean, I think he's OK with it if it happens and he's OK with it if it just muddies the water and changes the focus away from the really real problem of hundreds of children being separated and or thousands at some point being separated and not knowing exactly where those parents are and how to reunite them.

KING: I suspect the courts will weigh in on this as well in the days ahead, as we'll keep an eye on that. Back to this story a bit later.

But up next, a sell-off on Wall Street after Harley-Davidson says tariffs from the European Union now forcing it to move production out of Wisconsin to overseas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:16:34] KING: Welcome back.

The impact of the president's trade war evident today on Wall Street and on an iconic American brand from the heartland. You see right there, the Dow down a little bit more than 400 points there as we hit the noon hour. One reason? White House talk of more trade action against China later this week. A bigger reason today, the markets are rattled by word from Harley-Davidson that it will shift some production of motorcycles out of the United States. That to avoid retaliatory tariffs now imposed by the European Union.

The company says thanks to those new levees, each bike bound for Europe will cost another $2,200 to export. It plans to absorb the loss in the short term, saying, quote, the tremendous cost increase, if passed on to deals and retail customers, would have an immediate and lasting detrimental effect.

So Harley says it will take the pain for now as it sells these motorcycles overseas, but here you have direct impact in a state the president won, an iconic American brand saying, we're being hurt by this. That we will suffer -- we'll take the loss for now, but if we want to keep selling in Europe, we have to move some production. Will that get the president's attention?

TALEV: It's actually kind of the perfect microcosm, although it's not like every consumer in the world needs to have a Harley, but it's something that you can understand and get your head around.

But there are implications when you decide that you want to make a point with China, with the E.U., with whoever. So the president embraced companies like Harley-Davidson, made a big deal about wanting to keep iconic American brands, put the -- bring the jobs back home, factories home, workers home. But the seesaw over trade has always been about, how much does a good cost versus, you know, how many are you selling, where are you making them and that sort of stuff. And then we're seeing it play out now.

KING: Right. And so let's just look at the numbers again. If you look at these tariffs, the European Union responding to the president's tariffs on steel and aluminum put a 31 percent tariff on motorcycles. That's up from the 6 percent. Harley says that adds $2,200 to the cost of each motorcycle it's trying to export. So, again, if you make some of those bikes in Europe, that's how you work around that. Don't make them in the United States. You put them in Europe instead.

Harley says this is going to cost them $30 million to $45 million just for the rest of this year. And if nothing changed, $90 million to $100 million on a full year basis in years going forward. So this is an American -- that's a lot of money. I don't care how big of a company you are, $100 million on your bottom line is a big deal.

It was Speaker Tip O'Neill who was known for saying, all politics is local. Well, Speaker Paul Ryan putting that into play today. This from his spokeswoman. Paul Ryan, of course, from Wisconsin, the home of Harley.

This is further proof of the harm from unilateral tariffs. The best way to help American workers, consumers and manufacturers to open new markets for them, not to raise barriers to our own market.

Now, the words "President Trump" not in that statement, but that's the target audience there, correct?

PARTI: This is a clear sign that this is not -- there is already a lot of concern on Capitol Hill about these tariffs and we've seen a lot of ads actually from the Koch brothers. Their groups have been advertising nonstop in several districts about, you know, members who are even looking to side with the president on the issue of tariffs.

KING: But his -- his view is the American economy is strong. I believe I'm right about this. I'm going to do this. And, yes, farmers are mad at me. Yes, Harley is now mad at me. Yes, Republicans are mad at me. I'll be fine by 2020 is the president's calculation.

MATTINGLY: Yes. KING: Republicans looking at November from these states are like thinking, what about us?

MATTINGLY: And they're looking at the tax law that they put into place that they want to campaign on and potential gains and paychecks all of a sudden being wiped away.

[12:20:01] I think this is the key point to this. This isn't about Republicans on Capitol Hill. We know where they stand. They're not going to do anything to try and undercut the president's authority here.

This is about the individual in the Oval Office and a couple of his top advisers who have made a clear calculation that a trade war, retaliation, playing chicken, whatever you want to call it, is something that they're willing to engaged in for the long term and the long run and they're not going to be dissuaded by any near term results.

What does that mean? Well, historically, probably not great for the economy. But this is something that they believe is a fight that they're not only willing to engage in, but a fight that they believe they have the willingness to stick to for longer than anybody else does there.

Will it actually work? It is an open question. And I think the real concern, whether it's Republicans on Capitol Hill, trade experts, people who have been involved in these issues for a long time, is, as we wait for somebody to cry uncle, the global economy, or at least the domestic economy, to some degree, kind of falls apart in the near term.

KING: Right. And the question is, how do you get the president's attention on something like this? Will Harley do it? The president's talked to Harley. He's been to Harley. He -- they had them at the White House. He's talked about how great he is for the company.

Here's our Nick Watt. Went out to Iowa to talk to a hog farmer, who says, I voted for Trump. I'm hanging in there, for now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL WULFEKUHLE, HOG FARMER: A lot of the stuff he's done is good. Right now with the trade negotiations going on, ask me in six months, because it's painful right now.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

WULFEKUHLE: And we -- and we, as pork producers, want to be patriotic. We want to do our part. And I think we'll try to be quiet and let the process take care of itself. But as you know, if you're losing money for months, we'll get more vocal as it gets more painful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And the president essentially he Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell, Senator Grassley, go away, I think I'm doing the right thing. Will he listen to a farmer like that and to Harley-Davidson?

JOHNSON: Look, I think we saw, over the past two weeks, how you successfully capture the president's attention. And that's with a flood of images and sound and essentially a media-led campaign from the southern border that for the first time ever forces the president to back away and cave in on one of his signature issues.

Other than immigration, trade is his other signature issue. So what will force him to back down?

I think -- I think it's unlikely to happen, but it will be a torrent of sound and images and things, just like we saw with immigration over the past couple of weeks.

And I will say, you know, political analysts have said for a long time that people vote their pocketbooks, but what -- I think that farmer there really captured the fact there's been a ton of economic research come out over the past, you know, decade or so that people don't. People aren't rational in that way. And that farmer said, you know, my pocketbook is telling me not to stick with the president right now, but I'm going to wait longer and see what he does. And it will take more than the economic pain I'm feeling right now to get me to break away from him.

KING: Well, if you've had a farm for a long time, you've learned to be a patient person and it goes up and down. So we'll see how this works out. We'll keep an eye on that.

When we come back, is incivility a byproduct of polarization? If you're a Republican and you own a restaurant, would you serve Nancy Pelosi? If you're a Democrat, would you really turn Sarah Sanders away?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:27:19] KING: Here's a Monday question inspired by an unsettling weekend. Is incivility now an inevitable and acceptable byproduct of our political polarization? Democratic Congressman Maxine Waters, for example, says, if they work for President Trump, find them, wherever they might be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, and a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, some protest is more quiet but still pointed. Exhibit a, Sarah Huckabee Sanders' Friday night out. A restaurant in Virginia kicked her out, or asked her to leave, because of what she does for a living. Sarah Huckabee Sanders then tweeting, I was told by the owner of Red Head in Lexington, Virginia, to leave because I work for @POTUS. And I politely left. And now, to borrow the old crossfire framing of things from the left

and the right, this from the right, two examples of race baiting and one outright racism instead of a civil debate of the issues. The race baiting at a minimum, this Mike Huckabee tweet, Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the takeback of the House, with pictures of what appears to be gang members. And this from the former Trump campaign deputy chairman, still Trump adviser, David Bossie, on Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BOSSIE, FORMER TRUMP DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Michael Hayden posted a picture of Auschwitz. Don Deutsch (ph) is talking --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that -- that liberal -- that liberal Michael Hayden.

BOSSIE: Look -- look --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's screaming liberal Michael Hayden.

BOSSIE: You're out of your -- you're -- you're out of your cotton- picking mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cotton-picking mind?

BOSSIE: You don't -- listen, you guys -- you guys -- you guys are -- you guys are out of your minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, but let me tell you something. Let me tell you something. I got some -- I got some -- I got some relatives that picked cotton.

BOSSIE: This is -- this is ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm not going to sit here and allow you to attack me like that on TV.

BOSSIE: This is ridiculous. You guys want to -- attack you how?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not out of my cotton-picking mind.

BOSSIE: You're out of your mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Out of your mind is one thing. Out of your cotton-picking mind is just abhorrent obvious reprehensible racism. Sometimes I'm not sure that belongs in the conversation. It does in the sense that our conversations are increasingly more coarse, increasingly more confrontational. In that case, racism.

Is this inevitable? Is it right to protest the secretary of Homeland Security when she shows up at a restaurant in Washington? The Florida attorney general when she goes to a movie? Is it right to ask Sarah Sanders to leave your restaurant? It's America. You can do any -- you have a -- as long as you're within the law you have free choice.

JOHNSON: I don't think it's inevitable, but I think it's something that we saw maybe starting in the Clinton years. Like this real, personalization of politics and it's -- it's intensified in the Bush years and in the Obama years. And so certainly this preceded Trump, but really -- but he has really exacerbated. He -- it's something that --

[12:30:05] KING: Right, and so have these. So have these.

JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely.

KING: The president -- but the social media, that you can get attention for, you can also organize so much faster. I'm here. I see somebody. Boom. This --