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Trump: Rosenstein Told The Attorneys That "I'm not a Subject of Russia Investigation"; US Suspending Landmark Nuclear Arms Treaty With Russia; Senator Brown Takes His Potential 2020 Message To Iowa. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 1, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]: REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's an obvious investigative step but when Republicans were unwilling to take because they're afraid of where the evidence might lead.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's not the responsible thing to have said then is we want to get these records, period.

Why throw in there to see, I mean, look it's obvious that's the point you want to find out but this was traffic as aha block number. You know it's the president is at point the candidate.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: There's a little risk for Democrats in this whole past year which is a sticking point. I mean, there is a lot on the table that we know that looks pretty bad for the President and his family. Simply looking at all of the people around him who were lying about something involving Russia.

But what Democrats have done as they've taken a couple of other things like this. The block number or there are going to few other things that they've kind of appointed to and said, there might be something here. This looks really suspicious to us.

The risk for them is that ultimately there's something there, right? And they've kind of distract from some of the other thing.

KING: Let's not connect dots that we can't connect.

PACE: Right.

KING: Let's leave that to the Special Counsel.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: I think that's right. But I also at what she was trying to do is discredit the Republicans and the House Intelligence.

PACE: Yes, absolutely.

KNOX: And it wasn't so much. And so one way to do that was to say, you know, they're protecting Trump. That was a recurring refrain that we got from them. So I think it was less about pinning that phone call directly between Donald Jr. and his father as much as it was. Look at what we're trying to find out. This is how important it might be and Republicans are blocking.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: But John, I suspect like, I'm a broken record on this topic but it's really important to remember that impeachment is a political process. So, you know, and the excellent point during the break that the really -- the only credible information comes out of Mueller's filings or his mouth.

Everything else, a lot of it is politics. Because Republicans, the White House and Democrats all know that if this boost to some kind of impeachment preceding it becomes all politics.

KING: And to that point, that's the perfect segway to this that the President told your newspaper. They were talking about the Russia investigation. The wide rating interview. You want to look at and read the transcript. It's a fascinating interview on many subjects.

But, the President says, his lawyers were told by Deputy Attorney General, nothing to worry about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well he told -- he told the attorneys that I'm not a subject. I'm not a target. Yes, all yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he say that about the SDNY investigation, too?

TRUMP: About which?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The SDNY investigation. Because there's two. There's Mueller and there's then Cohen.

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

TRUMP: That I don't know about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The President says he doesn't know. What the New York prosecutors are doing. But that were me, and I could say, I'm not a subject, I'm not a target. That would be good news if I could say that. But he's the president and we've always assumed to your point that if Mueller has a report. If there's any questions, any damaging information about the President.

I'm trying to choose my words carefully -- he will leave that to the politicians to settle. He gives a report. Just as Ken Starr did. Here you go and want you're going to do about the President. So subject and target don't have this.

Do they have, am I right? They don't have as much distinction in this case? KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean this is the question, the million-dollar question. Is can you indict a sitting president and I think there's some debate on that in the Constitutional Law Community.

But I do think to your point in -- sorry I lost my train of thought for second.

KING: Yes. But this is Mueller by most account is going to lead this. Here's my report and to what's the question but it's the -- I mean, and I guess stranger (ph).

WEHLE: Well, the report back to the Ken Starr point, that was a statutory requirement that it be it a report here. There's a confidential report that goes to the Attorney General and then potentially another report that could go to Congress if there's a conflict between Mueller and the Attorney General. And if that doesn't happen, there might not be anything public at all.

KING: And that was -- wait the Democrats will ramp up on that one as he'll bargains his confirmation votes against next week. We'll comeback to that one. All right we'll continue to see as he says (ph). Not me, not a target, not a subject. OK, we'll see (INAUDIBLE) said that.

Up next, why the United States is now suspending a landmark nuclear arms treaty with Russia?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:38:17] KING: Topping our political radar today, Vice President Mike Pence in South Florida meeting with community leaders and Venezuelans in exile from their home country. The visit come of course as the Trump administration expresses its ongoing support for the self-declared interim president of the country, Juan Guaido.

The vice president taking care to emphasize that again today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a special honor for me and wife Karen and to be here with so many courageous Venezuelans, to hear your stories as the United States of America under the leadership of President Donald Trump stands with the people of Venezuela and stands for a free Venezuela.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A new IRS filing shows the casino magnet Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave a half million dollars to a legal defense fund set-up to help Trump supporters caught up in the Russia investigation. The Adelson's donation to the patriot legal expenses fund follows six figure contributions from other GOP mega donors. No word on who's getting that money but the funds draft agreement states none of it can be use for the President's legal bills. The Trump 2020 campaign reporting it's raised nearly $ 130 million since the President announced his reelection bid pact on an inauguration day, 2017. By comparison, Barack Obama had about 4 million at this point in his presidency. The Trump team $ 130 million includes a $ 21 million surge in the last for of 2018. Most of which spent supporting Republican candidates in the midterms.

And important international news today, the United States has just suspended it's participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. The INF has been a center piece of European security since the cold war but the United States and Europe say Moscow has been violating a landmark from control agreement since 2014.

[12:40:00] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing the INF suspension a short time ago starting a 100 and day to day clock. The United States he says will completely withdraw if Russia doesn't change its tune.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia has jeopardized the United States security interest. And we can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it. If Russia does not return to full and verifiable complaints with the treaty within a six- month period by verifiably destroying its INF violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment, the treaty will terminate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Secretary Pompeo, there are many Democrats rushing out saying the administration is recklessly opening up a new arms race significantly though NATO supports this. This is something that the Russian behavior has -- NATO has been complaining about for some time.

KNOX: Yes, Russians not compliance for about 10 years, Jens Stoltenberg the NATO secretary general came out today and said that if Russia does not comeback in a compliance, it will bear sole responsibility for the end of this treaty. That's kind of a strong statement as the allies can do speaking as one voice here about this treaty.

The due components are Russia is in compliance and China is not in it. And so that has or hamstrung the U.S.'s efforts to keep pace with Chinese weapons development as well.

So this is -- they didn't just pull themselves out immediately. It's been a long process. And, you know, if NATO is saying Russia would bear sole responsibility -- I don't know, that seems pretty serious.

KING: NATO very rare NATO the same page is the Trump White House which is a key mark that they will see during the six months, A, what the Russians do and ,B, Chinese go and come to the table on this issues. That's the big question there.

Up next for us here, Senator Sherrod Brown takes a shot at the President's brand of populism right in the heart of Trump country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:52] KING: Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is in Iowa today, warning voters to be aware of politicians who promise things they can't deliver. President Trump, Brown says did just that in 2016 specially in struggling Midwest factory towns. And a message to his fellow Democrats, Brown says letting Americans buy into Medicare early, say at age 50 or 55 is a much more viable idea than a more expensive and destructive Medicare-for-all Program.

Senator Brown, in Iowa for three days as he decides whether to join the Democratic Presidential field. He's trying to show he's the candidate who can appeal both to progressive Democrats and Midwestern working class Trump voters.

CNN Jeff Zeleny is tagging along, joins us live from joins us live from Perry Iowa. Jeff, I'm noting the senator is making a point to visit some of the smaller counties that were blue but then turned red.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, no question and that's exactly where Senator Sherrod Brown started his tour here in Iowa. He was in Howard County. It's one of the many counties in Iowa, and indeed, across the middle of the country that switched from blue with President Obama to red with President Trump in 2016. A remarkable switch.

Howard County alone, 2012, voted 60 percent for President Obama. He carried it by margin of 60 percent and President Trump, 57 percent just four years later. So that is a sign of where Sherrod Brown was trying to make his message clear, saying that the Democrats need to have a candidate who's not afraid to go into Trump country to at least bring down some of the margins.

But John, we heard over and over a branding exercise the senator is using for the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: You talk about phony populism, you think he's a phony populist?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D) OHIO: You don't push some people down to lift them up. That's what this president has done. And call it phony populism, call it bigotry, whatever it is, it's wrong and the public increasingly rejecting it.

ZELENY: It's sure appealed to a lot of voters though two years ago.

BROWN: It may have, but it won't in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So of course that is essential question if it will in the future or not. So Senator Brown again, just exploring here but it seems to me by talking to some people around him, he's pretty far along in his thinking. He'll be going to New Hampshire next week, or South Carolina, Nevada after that.

But John, interestingly a meeting he'll be having here in Perry, Iowa. A farming community about 45 minutes or so from Des Moines, he'll be talking to a farming groups about trade. Of course he is has similar views with the President on trade.

He was a big proponent against NAFTA, of course, so will some of these farmers who are gathering here have some concerns for him about what the trade war has done for their prices? So a tricky balance here for Senator Brown. John.

KING: Interesting to see if he adds that Midwestern touch to the increasingly crowded field. He'd be an interesting mark or just enjoy the Iowa spring. We'll see you when you get back.

It would be interesting. One of the questions is and you have. And I just read this quote as we get, this is Bryce Smith, the chair of the Democratic Party in Dallas County.

"I definitely think a Midwestern and more central Democrat at the top of the ticket will still get the coasts and also resonate with voters in the Midwest where we've seen either pushback or back turning to the Democratic Party". There is this tension, and if you look at Trump's electoral map, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania.

Sherrod Browns says he is the solution. So party base there?

LERER: Well here is a couple things working in his favor. He has a very clear message, his "Dignity of Work" which is what is out talking about. He's been pretty consistent and it feels like we're in a moment as we said earlier in the stage where early in the show where voters want this consistent authenticity.

But not all Midwestern Democrats are the same and he's fairly progressive. I mean, if you contrast him with say, Senator Klobuchar, that's a pretty different profile even though they're both from the Midwest. So I think if he were to decide to jump in the race and advisers tell me he's still pretty unsure, he would be certainly somebody who could make a strong case for it. But it's just hard to know whether that's a case the parties in a place that they're be particularly responsive as he right now.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Right, the big part of the theory for Sherrod Brown candidacy is in the general election, the Hillary states unlikely to move in 2020 and the Democrats just have to win back Michigan, Wisconsin an Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown show --

KING: And Ohio back in that.

[12:50:01] KAPUR: And Ohio as well. And Sherrod Brown won reelection in 2018 and the year that Democrats did not do well in Ohio and he did that by keeping the score down. But the red Republican score down in remote world Counties like, (INAUDIBLE) and Brown and Adams where Democrats were just getting crushed and Ohio represent and those counties exist in Michigan, in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania as well. KING: And so --

KAPUR: And prompted very well there.

PACE: I do think that Brown's argument against Trump is really fascinating, because essentially what voters will be deciding here, the voters who are swing voters here and that's pretty small group but it still exist.

Did Trump deliver on his promises or not? And in some of these places that Sahil is talking about here, Brown feels like he's got a really credible case to make that Trump made specific promises on the economy on keeping certain jobs, bringing certain types of jobs back and that the evidence is there for voters that didn't happen. And I think that almost more than any other Democrat, he's got a really succinct and pretty credible message on that front right now.

KNOX: He's also concerned over the long haul on what's happening to these Counties that switched from blue to red. When I talked to him a few weeks ago on my show -- I asked him how, what about the Democrats getting knocked around in Ohio. And he said, yes, you know, I'm really, I'm not happy with it. We need find a message that works not just on the coast but with and I think he said the waitress in Milwaukee, the steel worker in Pennsylvania. That seems to be taking sort of a longer view of where the Democratic electorate might be heading.

PACE: But look there is --

KING: That's listening and respecting the people who work with their hands. I'm sorry.

LERER: There are certainly people in the Democratic Party who say, and I've had them operatives in Ohio who have worked on this race saying to me, forget about Ohio. Forget about Iowa.

KING: Right.

LERER: -- even, look at Arizona, look at Georgia the path is changing --

KING: It's the big fight in the party --

LERER: This is the fight.

KING: -- diversity in electorate. Do you give up on those states? That's why we have a fascinating campaign ahead of us.

Up next, special stop in Atlanta, Super Bowl 53, Patriots and Rams, both embracing underdog mentality

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: You know there's no do over. This is in any retakes and Hollywood scripts or anything. This is live bullets and we got to go out there and get the job done under pressure. I'm looking forward to it.

JARED GOFF, QUARTERBACK, LOS ANGELES RAMS: There is always that type of stuff that you can look back on, let's say, you know, people that have doubted you. Again, I said there are few times we keep winning games. Call it whatever you want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:57] KING: Super bowl 53 just two days away. When the Patriots and the Rams face off this Sunday, New England Quarterback Tom Brady -- we call him the goat -- taking history.

CNN's Coy Wire joins us from the middle of it all in Atlanta. Coy, Tom Brady, gets in the history books, the NFL history books, but he's a determined underdog here, right?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, John, and I know as a past fan, you love being able to say the goat. And you're not wrong, Tom Brady is incredible, but they're in a happy place, right feeling or saying they're the underdogs even though they're not in this game. They're getting back to their sense of normalcy, whether it was Deflategater, Spygater or any sort of things. It seems like the Patriots.

They rally, they come together as a more tightly-knit group and that includes their fans as well when they feel like it's them against the world. They are back to a third straight Super Bowl. They have 36 players who played in the big game whereas those Rams they're facing, only four.

Experience versus inexperience a huge story line.

Let's just -- look at the coaches, for example. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he's 66-years-old. Now, John, he has coached in the NFL for the entirety of Sean McVay's life plus a decade, 30 wins in the playoff to make these two. In that quarterback, you have a young Jared Goff. He has won just playoff games in his career, where Tom Brady has won 29 at 41 years old.

Those 29 wins are more than any other quarterback has even appeared in a playoff game. Yes, including Peyton Manning, all of the greats. It's an incredible thing that they have built there in New England and it will try to be replicated.

This Tom Brady, as he was mentioned and being the goat and I played with him twice a year every year for six years when I was with the Buffalo Bills and I saw his work ethic. I saw he commanded his team. And the thing that makes him great, John, he out works everyone -- he knows the opposing young defender's defense better than they know it themselves.

Jared Goff and the Rams are up against. I thought that he's the only player, John, in my nine years in the NFL that towards the end of my career. I wanted to go over, shake his hand and tell him I respect the way he approaches the game. KING: You don't have any doubt, Coy, about who's going to win, do you?

WIRE: That who I want to win is totally different than who's going to win. You got to go with the Patriots. Tom Brady still the quarterback. He's still married to Gisele. The heaven open up every time he smiles. Life is good for Tom and the Patriots.

KING: I get nervous about this and this weekend makes me very very nervous. Who do you think to take the quarterbacks out of it? Who is the most important player on each team besides the quarterbacks?

WIRE: The Kickers. And this is going to come down to a close one in the eight Super Bowl that the Patriots have been in under Belet, second Brady, the average margin of victory four and a half points. Every other victory, the average margin of victory 16 -- it will be a close game.

KING: Two great kickers but I'll take Kale Skalsky any day on Super Bowl Sunday. Coy Wire, appreciate it and don't miss kickoff in Atlanta. A CNN bleacher report special with Coy has more in Daybreaks. I'll be watching tomorrow of 2:30 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks for joining us today on INSIDE POLITI CS. Hope to see you back here Sunday morning. We'll be up earl y on Super Bowl Sunday. Stay with us Brianna Keilar starts right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington Headquarters Underway right now.