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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Leaves North Korea Summit Without Nuclear Deal; GOP Representative Meadows, Jordan Accuse Cohen Of Perjury; Source: O'Rourke Won't Challenge John Cornyn For Texas Senate; Poll: Biden, Sanders, O'Rourke Essentially Tie Trump In Texas; "The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power" Premieres Sunday 9PM ET. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 28, 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] DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The chairman of the North Korean Communist Party do not want to go ahead with. So that's the first takeaway.

The second is that after saying that he would solve this problem. President Trump has just discovered why three previous presidents have failed to solve this problem. That to President Trump it's inconceivable that somebody would want the bomb more than they would want to build some hotels along the beautiful beaches of North Korea. And if you're Kim Jong-un, you're thinking, if I give up the bomb, I'm just one step away from the Americans or their allies overthrowing me.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And Admiral Kirby, what happens next in the sense that in the past, both Kim Jong-un and his father, when they want leverage in the negotiations, when they think things have gone stale, they do something provocative? In Kim Jong-un's case, launch rockets and missiles.

A big question for the United States is do not resume joint military exercises with South Korea which are a critical part of keeping those troops ready just in case. What now?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well I hope the exercises go forward. I think, we've cancel now or curtail nine of them. I think it's important for our readiness that we continue to do these exercises. I do think we need to look to see if Kim reacts in a military way and restarts missile launches, perhaps those more nuclear tests. We don't know how he's going to react.

I do think one thing is for sure though, that just because he wasn't testing and he's claimed now he's not going to test in the future, doesn't mean he's not trying. It doesn't mean he isn't still -- still producing missile material. Doesn't mean he's not still developing missile technology and building more rockets.

So he is going to continue to advance his program. I think there are some estimates that he built even several more missiles in just the period between Singapore and Hanoi. So his program is going to continue and the clock really, in my view, is on Kim's side, not ours. SANGER: And that's one of the big problems, John, that I think with President Trump ran into here which is that he didn't get a freeze on current production. And President Obama got that as he was heading in to negotiations with the Iranians. If you don't have a freeze, then time is on the side of your adversary, because the longer they drag out the negotiations, the bigger the problem and the bigger the arsenal get.

KING: And once again we saw from this president his willingness to take the side of the autocrat, if you will. Kim in this case, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Vladimir Putin.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen. Just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen. He tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word.

I don't know if anyone's going to be able to conclude that the Crown Prince did it. Whether he did or whether he didn't, he denies it vehemently.

I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What is it about this president, whether it's Otto Warmbier, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Russian election interference, he takes the side of the dictator?

KIRBY: Yes, he just didn't need to go there, John. You know, it was a question about human rights and a fair question and he said he brought it up, but he didn't need to say that. It was really inexplicable.

I think it was, quite frankly, the low point of the press conference. I just don't understand why he needs to just take at face value the word of some of these -- some of these autocrats. And look, it's just strange to draw of the that Kim Jong-un had no awareness about what was going on with Otto Warmbier.

KING: David Sanger, Admiral Kirby, appreciate your coverage throughout the summit. We'll see when you get safely back home.

Up next for us here, more fall out on Michael Cohen's testimony, a new potential exposure for the star witness.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:38:17] KING: Topping our political radar today, the House voting this hour to approve the second bill in as many days aimed, Democrats say, at curbing gun violence. The so called Charleston Loophole Bill would extend the weight for gun purchasers from three days to 10 days. Three Republicans cross party lines to vote for it. The bill's backer say they'll give the FBI more time to complete background checks or potentially stop some mentally ill or those with criminal records from buying a weapon.

Majority Senator Democratic Presidential hopeful Cory Booker will be reintroducing a bill today pushing for the nationwide legalization of marijuana. Booker's bill would also wipe clean the records of people who've got in trouble for using or possessing marijuana. The pot issue is a big one for Senator Booker and many other presidential candidates. Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders, all co-sponsors of that legislation.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set to be charged with bribery and fraud following three separate corruption investigations according to a source with knowledge of the decision. Netanyahu calling the charges, "ridiculous". President Trump, spoke to him this morning, asked about the charges before today's announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I just think he is been a great prime minister. And I don't know about his difficulty, but you tell me something, you know, that people have been hearing about, but I don't know about that. I can say this, that he's done a great job as prime minister. He's tough, he's smart, he's strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And some breaking news this hour in the Republican reaction to Michael Cohen's testimony. CNN's Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill. Manu, what's happening?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSINAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, two of President Trump 's closest allies, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows who are the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee just sent a letter to the Attorney General Bill Barr asking him to investigate possible perjury of Michael Cohen's -- from Michael Cohen's testimony yesterday before the committee.

[12:40:06] They're laying out several areas of inconsistency and contradictions to what had been filed in Federal Court and in previous testimony. Two of these regarding -- one in regarding bank fraud. They write this, several times during his testimony, Mr. Cohen denied committing various fraudulent acts that he has pleaded guilty to in federal court. Specifically, Mr. Cohen said, "I never defrauded any bank." These denials are intentionally false.

They also write that, Mr. Cohen repeatedly testified that he did not seek employment in the White House following President Trump's election. This is demonstrably materially and intentionally false. They say, it's in direct conflict with court filings made by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

Now, on those charges on the bank fraud situation, he didn't plead guilty to bank fraud, but to making false statements to a bank. He did acknowledge defaulting on one loan back in 2018.

And also about whether he was pursuing a job in the White House, that's something a lot of people and particularly Trump allies, had pushed back on. These two Republicans cite text messages that were seized by the Southern District of New York showing that he was seeking that position. But he has said that he disputes how that was characterized by the federal prosecutors.

But nevertheless, of course, John, this is going to be a decision for the DOJ. Will Bill Barr investigate this? That's ultimately his decision, we'll see what he decide to do. John.

KING: Bill Barr's second stint as attorney general. He'll find this one as in a very new and different Washington. Manu Raju, live on the Hill, appreciate that.

Up next for us, he said an end of February deadline to decide his own political future, so is Beto O'Rourke ready to enter the pack Democratic 2020 field?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:55] KING: After much deliberation, Beto O'Rourke says he knows his 2020 plan. He just isn't quite ready to tell the rest of us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're excited to announce something soon. What -- when is that?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS: I'm going to be making an announcement soon. I'm going to be making the same announcement to everyone at the same time. That's all I can say at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you running for president?

O'ROURKE: That's all I'm going to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, when will you make that announcement?

O'ROURKE: Soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please define soon.

O'ROURKE: No, I can't. I'm sorry, I wish I could be more helpful to you. But that's all I'm prepared to say tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Since the former Texas Congressman isn't sharing, let's try a little process of elimination. A source tells CNN, O'Rourke has ruled out another Texas senate run in 2020. This time it would be against the Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. Last night, Cornyn posting a little shade on Twitter, "Looks like Schumer couldn't close the deal." And that would be the Democratic leader Chuck Schumer who wanted Beto O'Rourke to run for Senate. So is that it. We just do process of elimination says, he's running for president or is Beto O'Rourke going to say, I'm going to stay on the sidelines in 2020?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I'm going by just what I saw there, it sounds like he's running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

HULSE: Why would you do that? I think --

KING: Why would you smile, that whimsical smile?

HULSE: So I presume he's running and probably why not, right? He's got money. He's very popular. He's got high may might be -- I think it is probably a disappointment and you might know better than I, to the Senate Democrats that he would have been formidable running.

KING: And other Texas Democrats jump in. I just want to show of the "Dallas Morning News", Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson said this week on Lone Star Politics that she recently texted O'Rourke and urged him to run for Senate. I would love for him to stay Texas-focused. She said she told O'Rourke who texted back, I love you and I appreciate your friendship.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Democrats would love going back to White House but they would also love doing back to Senate. And a Democratic president in 2021 is not going to be able to do much if the Republican or if the Republican still control the Senate and that's causing some complications from recruiting the troubles for senator Schumer right now. I mean, Steve Bullock in Montana obviously looks like he has eyes more on the presidency than challenging Steve Daines --

HULSE: Hickenlooper.

KIM: Hickenlooper in Colorado in Colorado against Cory Gardner and this one as well. So Schumer is going to have a little bit more work to do to recruit the top tier candidates for these really competitive Senate races.

KING: And if you're Beto O'Rourke, you lost to Ted Cruz, but you raised a boatload of money. You got a national profile in the process. The Quinnipiac poll today, it gives you a little puffy chest moment, if you will, if you believe early polls. And I would caution all of you at home, do not believe in polls. One more time. Do not believe -- do not believe early polls.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But, this is in Quinnipiac in Texas. Trump-Biden, 47-46, Trump-Sanders, 47-45, Trump-O'Rourke, 47-46. And we've seen O'Rourke in the top three or four when you look at, you know, national polls in the Democratic presidential race as well. Again, that's Governor Gillum in Florida and Governor Abrams in Georgia and Senator O'Rourke from Texas. The early polls -- when you get closer to an election things can be different in your state. But, that's a thing to say, hey, you know, I'm with never mind that it's Texas, unlike it'd go blue next year but here I am with Biden and Bernie. That's a pretty good company.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, and the company is essential and sort of the white guy portion of the primary, right? It's Biden, it's Bernie, at some point it might be Brown. It's obviously Beto O'Rourke, too in this underlying idea and that they would be more electable because, you know, they would win maybe in the Midwest. These polls show that he'd be competitive in Texas, so he's competitive in Texas. Maybe he'd be competitive in Wisconsin too.

Who knows if any of this is true? It's just a theory right now. Nobody knows what kind of candidate Beto O'Rourke on the national stage, what kind of candidate he will actually be.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And one of the things we also don't know is that -- is how long this whole weeding out process is going to take. We're living in an environment that everything is sped up. And, you know, the days when you sort of could -- these candidates could get in and then be in for months and months and months, may not happen. I mean, it could be that just the news environment and the political environment, you know, people jump in and then it's very quickly obvious that they have to jump out.

KING: That we will see how it goes. We'll get it soon, I guess, that (INAUDIBLE) or Leyla Santiago for trying to get the answer there but hopefully Beto O'Rourke also.

When we come back, the tables are turned on your anchor here. Remember the Bush family as CNN prepares for a special new series comes in to ask me the questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:54:43] KING: Today's Republican Party is Donald Trump's Republican Party and it is no secret he is no fan of the family that more than any other shaped the GOP in the generation before Trump came to power. Donald Trump, you'll remember, defeated Jeb Bush in the 2016 primaries. His approach to immigration is a repudiation of the path George W. Bush tried to set up for Republicans. And Trump's world view rejects the quite alliance and consensus-based approach of the late George H.W. Bush.

[12:55:08] A new CNN original series premiere in this weekend traces the Bush family's role, giant role in shaping our politics and our history. An inevitable role reversible, Pierce Bush, the grandson of one president, nephew of another, visited CNN for insights from those of us to spend some time covering the Bush's.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) PIERCE BUSH, PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH GRANDSON: John, it's an honor to have you here and to turn the tables, if you will, and interview you. I'm sure this is a weird experience for you.

KING: It's a pleasure. Given the subject matter.

BUSH: So let's start at the beginning. You graduate college 1985. One of your first campaigns you covered was, my grandfather President George H. W. Bush. He was then vice president running against Michael Dukakis. I know you're on to Dukakis campaign with your news following. But what was that experience like?

KING: Right. That was most because I was based in Boston at the time. Most of my work was covering Dukakis. But so you had to write when say the George H.W. Bush campaign when after Boston Harbor or when after the Willie Horton. I would write the record pieces about that.

But that was a fascinating campaign because remember, Dukakis went to Atlanta, his big convention and they were up 17 points and they thought it was over. But, watching -- watching the Bush campaign and its effectiveness was eye opening to me. And number of different things, you have -- number one, your grandfather is always underrated as a politician. Number two, they smartly pulled off the, here's this very nice gentleman, the guy with a bare knuckles are tough, rough and tumbled campaign. And he was always surrounded by very good people.

If you're down 17 points, you think it's over. The quality and the caliber of the people including the candidate and the staff as well, just rebuilt it one.

BUSH: All right, let's move to my uncle. You in 2000 were the White House Correspondent covered that campaign. Tell us the first and I know you actually personally got to know my uncle George, my aunt Laura, more than you got to -- to interact with my grandparents. What were they like? What was it like covering them?

KING: George W. and Laura Bush, incredibly polite and gracious. Would have us at the ranch every year in Crawford, you know, for a picnic. They didn't have to do then.

They just, you know, they knew we're all down there, a lot of people away from their families and they just wanted to say thank you for covering. I remember at fun moment and one of the first trips in the ranch and W. hated that he couldn't drive. Secret service doesn't let the president drive.

And so he said, come on, everybody. We got off the plain and he race to the ranch and he got his pickup truck and he let a bunch of us in the pick up truck. And for a few minutes, I thought he was trying to kill us. Because he was pounding through. He was just having fun. He was just having fun and he wanted to bruise us.

He don't want to kill us, but he didn't want to bruise us, he wanted to show us Texas. He wanted to show us Texas and how much he love that land. And so that part the personal side. I'm a Red Sox fan, you know, he's

a Rangers guy but he knew people who love baseball.

BUSH: Did he needle you about anything?

KING: Well, he needled me about the Red Sox being lousy until they finally won. That was the kind of thing he would poke about. But it was again, it was an interesting time. And what strikes me most about that is, again, when you look at where we are today, I always think of the what-ifs.

What if 9/11 hadn't happened? Think about Governor Bush and then President George W. Bush's agenda. Humble in the hemisphere. Immigration reform. Education reform. This was a guy who came out of this Texas experience --

BUSH: PEPFAR.

KING: PEPFAR. But knowing the diversity in Texas, knowing the challenges in the Latino community, knowing the challenges in the world communities, education. Had an agenda that number one, he believed it in his heart, but number two, went right at the Democratic advantages in today's politics. And, you know, let's not separate the two. Good policies, good politics and both Governor Bush and then President Bush in quite role become rhythm, understood yes we believe in this things, but wow, this can really help our party too.

Imagine if 9/11 hadn't happened and we have had immigration reform. Because if it would have happened if not for 9/11. He would have tried education reforms. You'd have a very different Republican Party today and instead what did you get?

You had, number one, a wartime president who didn't have the time at first and then because of Iraq and Katrina -- Katrina didn't have the political capital later in his term to do those things. And so what do you get? The anti-immigration flow in the Republican Party starts to rise up at that moment and the more isolationist, why are we in these wars? You know, the Rand Paul -- to the Rand Paul to the Donald Trump that exists today.

And so again, the seeds of where we are now can be found in the presidency changing events of that administration.

BUSH: It's time I yield back your show to you. So, I would just want to thank you so much for answering these questions. We could talk for hours.

KING: Thanks for being here.

BUSH: Thank you for good covering news for this country.

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: If you love history and politics and don't want to miss this, you can watch the premiere of "The bush Years, Family, Duty, Power", this Sunday 9 p.m. only right here on CNN.

Thanks for joining us today in INSIDE POLITICS, see you back here this time tomorrow, don't go anywhere. A lot of news today.

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