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INSIDE POLITICS

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Enters 2020 Race; Bidens Responds To Criticism After Calling Pence A "Decent Guy"; Cohen's Testimony Renews Democrat Interest In Trump's Tax Returns; Wash Post: Ocasio-Cortez Is One Of The Dems Attracting The Most Attention On Fox News. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 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]

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": So you could see how a Democrat would be thinking about coming into the presidency with these expanding powers that could allow them to take very big action on a problem that they see as existential and immediate.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And it's interesting just in the sense that with so many candidates, anyone who says they have any idea how this is going to go is weighing it. Because you got, and you have 11 officially declared. Another six, eight or 10, we're still waiting on Beto. Looks like he's getting in. We're still waiting on Biden. We're still waiting on Governor Hickenlooper and maybe another governor and there are other out there, the Governor of Montana, think. But if you -- if he wants to focus on climate change.

But if you look at his record, he is not out of step with the Dem (ph) -- the progressive base of the party, if you will. Voted for the "assault weapons" ban, back in 1994, voted against the Iraq war, voted against the 2008 bank bailout, imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. So he's got a run around climate change but he is not, he was in the House of Representatives before he became governor. He's a mainstream progressive.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well also, I mean, if you think about 2016 and the way that Democratic Primary unfolded, initially a lot of people saw Bernie Sanders is someone who was, you know, just there to sort of push so much more liberal agenda than the party really had. And while he wasn't successful, he came very, very close and he really did change that platform. I mean Clinton really was forced to a more liberal place because of it. It really when you go -- they went into the party platform that summer, he had a huge influence over it. So, I mean, the idea that this could sort of drive it is not out of that president.

LERER: And Inslee live through the failed 2010 attempt for Democrats to, you know, under the Obama administration to pass a Cabinet Trade Bill to deal with climate change and he saw how some, you know, more moderate Democrat House members lost their races in the midterms as a result. So he does have some credibility. He's seen the political risk and he's done a lot of assessment of where the politics are now and he believes that the politics have changed.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: Does he have a timeline for when this issue needs to rise among Democratic voters? I mean, it's not at the top, right?

LERER: Well, he would say as a party at -- he would say it is at the top among certain.

KNOX: Healthcare. I mean, the last polling I saw did not put it as the top issue.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't, he wants to make it the top.

KNOX: That's what I'm wondering. Does he have -- does he have an idea for when does -- when in this whole process does this --

ZELENY: In the Inslee administration, it would happen at the very beginning.

(CROSSTALK)

KNOX: I'm fascinated by your point though that he's forcing all the others to take a stand, in the way Elizabeth Warren did with fundraising, I think. It's really will be interesting to see who is setting the rules for this, you know, for the 2020 Democrat which is how many --

ZELENY: And how aggressive he'll go after them? Is he going to really just going to try to raise it on his own?

LERER: Right.

ZELENY: Or is he going to really be -- I mean, he is a governor, he's a member of Congress. He's not -- he's from the establishment wing in the sense that he's a respected elected official in the party who also wants to see the President defeated. I don't think he's trying to be a spoiler, but on this said debate stage, should he make it in June? It will be interesting to see how he goes after others.

KNOX: Right. If there is a frontrunner in that debate, does he go after the frontrunner and say, you know, so and so, I'm challenging you today to commit to the following things. What happens?

KING: I think we're going to see -- I think we're going to --

LERER: He is convinced that this is a winning -- in my sense is that he is convinced that this is a winning issue for Democrats and particularly for key parts of the Democratic coalition like young voters. So, I mean, we're a long way from June --

ZELENY: I'm not saying it's not --

LERER: So we'll see what he does, but I wouldn't be surprised if we, you know, saw that.

KING: This is the big test with this field.

LERER: Right.

KING: They're from different parts of the country, they have different emphasis whether it's Medicare For All or climate change or taxes. Elizabeth Warren is trying to push the button on that one. We're going to have an interesting, that's what makes it fun.

And that's actually the thing -- the good thing about it is not taking sides. The good thing about is if they're debating policy in addition to being against the President. This is not just an anti-Trump Democratic Primary. They're putting out some serious policies that will be fun to watch.

Quickly before we go to break, flashback, Bernie Sanders very brief acting career. Seth Meyers surprising the senator last night on "Late Night" with this clip from 1988.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Let's take a look at Senator Sanders in Sweet Heart Dance.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Or acting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on Bernie, fill them that there.

SANDER: OK.

MEYERS: I really like that the clip is you distributing out candy fairly?

SANDERS: Free candy.

MEYERS: Yes, no one should have to pay for their candy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:35:15] KING: 2020 and lots of it on our political radar today. You're looking at live pictures out of Iowa, Senator Elizabeth Warren about to meet with voters there. Also hitting the trail in key states early states today, Senator Kamala Harris in Nevada, Senator Cory Booker campaigning in South Carolina.

Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on "The View" today getting a few laugh -- listen here, when he was asked who he may or may not get advice from this time around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MEGHAN MCCAIN, THE VIEW HOST: We're hearing about a lot of Democratic candidates who are meeting with Hillary Clinton for advice though, so people like Amy Klobuchar. Do you think you'll do the same?

SANDERS: I suspect not. Hillary has not --

MCCAIN: That's not?

SANDERS: Yes, she has not called me.

MCCAIN: You're not interested in any advice from her?

SANDERS: I think not. We have, look, we have --

MCCAIN: And you're saying no --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Former Vice President Joe Biden apologizing for calling Vice President Pence a "decent guy." That upset LGBTQ activist and he's made a couple Biden tweeting, there's nothing decent about being anti- LGBTQ rights and said his comments were to make a point in a foreign policy context. Here is what Biden said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: A guy is a decent guy. Our vice president who stood before this group of allies and leaders and said, I'm here on behalf of President Trump. There was dead silence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The Bernie thing is hilarious. Not going to pick up the phone and call Hillary Clinton for advice.

But on this point here, one of the questions about Joe Biden is sometimes his tongue gets ahead of his brain. We've seen that throughout his career. To me this is evident.

Does -- is he in tune with today's base of the Democratic Party? We know Biden is a decent sort. He wants to say everyone is a nice guy. He's trying to be nice to Mike Pence. But being nice to Mike Pence infuriates a big part of today's Democratic base.

[12:40:02] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and he had a long career, you know, having good relationship on both sides of the aisle and you know talk very --

KNOX: My friend on the other side.

RAJU: Exactly. Is that really what the fired-up resistance that once to go toe to toe with this president wants, he's going to have to get the right tone in order to become -- to win his nomination.

LERER: That is the fundamental question. I think about his candidacy. You -- when you talk to voters, they say, oh he's experienced. Democratic voters really care fundamentally about one thing which is electability, can the person beat President Trump? And they think, you need to talk to people and make the case that Joe Biden could. He could win supporters in the middle of the country. He has a lot of experience, but I think whether he is out of touch with where they are and the kind of tone that those voters want to strike is the fundamental question. I mean, who knows if he's going to do it?

He's indicating the family is on board, he said, this week, but still seems to me like it's a lot of you get a lot of stories of, he's moving closer from people who talked to a person who talked to him.

KING: And if electability is the number one issue. Number one, there's the question he is out of touch with the energy in today's Democratic base? Number two, is he going to have a misstep in the general election campaign and do you worry about that because, you know, he's authentic?

LUCEY: And then do moments like this before he even gets in give him pause about getting that I think. I mean, this is you know --

KING: It's a great question. We'll see he's been.

When we come back, Michael Cohen is up on Capitol Hill this week. It was not the end, just the beginning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:34] KING: President Trump deciding not to sleep in today. Just back from Vietnam and tweeting up a storm this morning, attacking his long-time lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, including an accusation Cohen's Congressional testimony and mounted to perjury, "On a scale not seen before and the ever familiar, it's time to end the witch hunt."

Beginning, not end, is the word Democrats use when discussing Cohen. Several House Committees are planning to follow up on the issues and allegations Cohen raised and the Oversight Committee Chairman putting anyone named by Cohen on notice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE HOUSE CHAIRMAN: If there were names that were mentioned, or records that were mentioned during the hearing. We'll figure out who we want to talk to and then we'll bring them in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So would it be fair then to say that if any names came up multiple times in that hearing --

CUMMINGS: They have a good chance of hearing from us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And so the question and I'll start with you on this one, Manu, is how specific should we read that? In a sense does he mean, Michael Cohen, named Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Jr. He named the President's long time executive assistant, Rhona Graff. He named Felix Sater, a business associate.

We already know Mr. Sater has agreed to testify. He named the Trump organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and he named other executive vice president in Trump organization who are involved with things. All, including the President's children?

RAJU: I asked him specifically the President's children. I said, Mr. Cummings, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., do you want to speak to them? He said, if they were named in the hearing, you can expect that the committee will contact them.

Now, does that mean that they'll actually bring them in for interviews and have a hearing, that something to be sorted out. But expect letters, expect -- ask for documentation, but everyone has a different -- there are different aspects of all of this. People are involved in knowledge of different things that were brought out during the hearing.

For Donald Trump Jr., his name -- his signature was on one of the checks that went to Michael Cohen to reimburse him for the part of that hush money scandal to keep quiet these alleged affairs right before the election. They'll probably going to want to ask about that.

Certainly Allen Weisselberg is going to be at the top of everyone's list. He's certainly going to come before the House Oversight Committee, probably the House Intelligence Committee do. He's the CFO of the Trump organization. He was involved in the hush money payment scheme as well.

So, these committees have to sort out how they want to investigate going forward. Cummings told me five or six committees are going to divide up all of the allegations that came out of the Cohen testimony, all the potential criminal activity. He is going to look into the hush money payments, the president's involvement in this. So not ending soon.

KING: The five committees where on March 1st, 2019, which means this going to drag through the year. Here's Gerry Connolly, Democratic from Virginia, member of the Oversight Committee put it this way in the "Washington Post". He said a very rich table. We're now looking at a 10-course meal. That is, you know, it's colorful, if you will. Here's Bill Pasquale, a member of the Ways and Means Committee. This is the question is, can Democrats keep this focused? Can they contain the relative members who want to do the impeachment issue but one of the long things has been, what about the President's taxes?

Here's Bill Pasquale, there's no reason to delay anymore. Under 26 USC 6103 , Congress can get the Trump tax returns by writing a letter and slapping on a stamp. I'll even deliver it myself.

This has been a constant question and what the Democrats are saying is Michael Cohen put out enough allegations of irregularity about the President inflating and deflating asset had now, boom. Trump tax returns?

KNOX: Yes and that's been one of the ripest targets ever since they retook the House. Why we'd -- we'd been talking about it I think (INAUDIBLE) on the

show. Yes, they're going to go for that.

Yes, I'm wondering which committee gets the first constitutional crisis, the first moment when they put out a subpoena and the White House ignores them and they refer to the DOJ and Justice Department says, --

RAJU: And on the tax refer -- but you mention all those --

LERER: And then there's lot of it likely insight over the Mueller report, too. We don't expect that everything will be. I mean, no one knows how much will be disclosed but we don't expect it's going to be everything and it's hard for me to imagine whatever is put out will be sufficient for Democrats.

KING: So to that point, to that point -- Republican Devin Nunes, who Democrats, you know, he was the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee until the Democrats took power. They roll their eyes when you mention the name Devin Nunes -- Devin Nunes is at CPAC today. He wants everything Mueller did made public. I want every e-mail, I want everything.

He says everybody that they wiretapped, every warrant they got. So he wants to have a different reasons. He thinks there's a crooked deep state thing going to. But if you have Devin Nunes now agreeing with Adam Schiff, right? And Kamala Harris and all the Democrats are saying, let's see all the work product? Is that make it more any more likely or it's just chatter?

[12:50:00] RAJU: I think it will. I think there are a lot of Republicans do support and see the Mueller report in full with a minimal redactions. The question is, do they agreed -- I mean would Democrats could submit a subpoena without in the House about Republican support. Do the Republicans in the Senate will run the Senate, joined with Democrats issue their own subpoenas for the report? I think it's possible. It depends on how they ultimately handle it in the Justice Department.

KING: That's going to be interesting to watch. When we come back conservatives have a new Democrats they just can't stop talking about. Their new favorite foe. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:55:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's hot but and issues like free college, free health care. Once sought to be radical appear to be the starting line in this Democratic Primary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you lawyers are the radical?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D) NEW YORK: Yes, you know, if that's what radical means. Call me a radical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy Pelosi, do you recognize her as the leader for the House Democrat?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Move over, Hillary Clinton and move over Nancy Pelosi. Conservatives have a new favorite Democrat. Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a favorite as in favorite target of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference and it's not just CPAC. Go to a conservative website or a cable channel and you'll see and hear a lot about AOC and her policy like the Green New Deal. According to new data Ocasio-Cortez is in the Fox News spotlight more than most of the Democrats running for president.

Take look at the chart compiled by the "Washington Post." Only Senator Elizabeth Warren beats Ocasio-Cortez in average density of "Fox News" mentions. Senator Sanders and Harris running close behind. Why?

Clearly, clearly let's just be honest. You can see this on "The Huffington Post" as well. Not just our conservative websites. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is at the top a lot. People must be clicking. That's why that happened.

RAJU: Yes and look. She is -- she has views that are outside of the mainstream of the traditional Democratic Party. She is driving the conversation ways that other Democrats cannot given just her legion of Twitter followers and everything that she says and the fact the focus that is on her. The challenge is for the Democratic leadership making sure that base of the party, that element of the caucus, particularly Nancy Pelosi, does not go to war with the more moderate members of her caucus to ensure that they can keep the majority in 2020. There are the reason why Nancy Pelosi is speaker because those moderate Democrats won in districts in which Republicans held those seats. But they're going to collide. They did have already collided on procedural fights over in the early parts of this Congress. It's going to continue as we get into the policy issues going forward.

KING: And how much influence does she have in the sense that she has celebrity, which matters in today's politics, which matters in today's politics. She has a social media identity which matters in today's politics. The "Washington Post" reporting that, you know, Democrats have been frustrated that some of the moderates have sided with Republicans of some of these motions and the Democrats of laws and procedural battles on the floor.

Ocasio-Cortez, the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activist defeat them, unseat them in the 2020 election. Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez and she told her colleagues Democrats who side with Republicans, "Are putting themselves on a list." LERER: I think she's been very strategic about how she used the celebrity that came out of her House race and she's definitely become, as you point out, a pace leader for the Democratic Party. She has a very large platform on social media, she can get a message out.

But, you know, she's not running the House of Representatives, but she could if she wanted try to build primary challenges, try to encourage primary challenges against these moderate members. I think it's an open question as whether they would succeed. I mean, the reason those members are moderate is because they're districts are in fact moderate but it could damage them going into their race.

LUCEY: Also the, I mean, the efforts why Republicans and Trump and the conversation about Cortez also about a broader effort at targeting socialism going into 2020. You've heard this from the president, you've heard this from conservative, a lot on conservative media and she's a very effective state with that for them and they're really targeting those policy.

KING: And they seize on a lot of the things that she says, including the, this is her on an Instagram feed. She is a big proponent of the Green New Deal. She says, climate changes a threat to all Americans, but younger Americans particularly care about it to this degree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: There is scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult and it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question. You know, should -- is it OK to still have children?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KNOX: That's actually not a new thing. That's actually a debate that you hear sometimes among climate change activists, people who really want to take on the problem. So she's not, that's not new, but right she embraces these things more than in the past. You know, Republicans have been using the socialist label forever -- for everything. Medicaid, Medicare, social security, absolutely forever. What's new now is you've got parts of the Democratic Party electives who are embracing it.

LERER: And that says the polling shows that there is a portion of the Democratic Party that's embracing it. Socialism within the Democratic Party has become slightly less of sort of this bad word.

LUCEY: It's not the whole party.

LERER: Right. It's not the general interest.

LUCEY: And if you're trying to find the rust belt in 2020, you have to try to figure out --

RAJU: And watch this month if Mitch McConnell does bring that Green New Deal to the floor to try to put Democrats on the spot. There are some are talking about just voting present in order, not yes or no, voting present because they don't want to side with McConnell's strategy, they don't want to anger the AOC wing. It's time to put them in difficult spot.

KING: And we talk about this when the Republicans took power. When you have a bigger table, you have more voices. It's like Thanksgiving. It gets interesting.

Thanks for joining us on today in INSIDE POLITICS hope to see you back here Sunday morning as well. We'll be here at 8 A.M. Eastern. If you can get up early, don't go anywhere. Busy news day. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great Friday.