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House Democrats Divided Over Resolution Aimed At Representative Omar; CNN: Pelosi In Closed Meeting Tells Democrats Not To Question Each Other's Patriotism Or Their Loyalty; NYT: Clinton Not Trying To "Close The Door" On 2020; U.S Trade Deficits Soars To 10-Year High of $ 621 Billion. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 6, 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] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Rsolution is necessary because of Omar making anti-Semitic statements after promising to choose her words more carefully. The speaker trying to say there's nothing to see here. Those are not the drones you're looking for, but clearly, this has caused a stir inside the caucus.

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, my colleagues, Mike DeBonis and Rachel Bay were outside that caucus this morning in their report that just went online. They described it as a full-scale brawl.

This is not something that we are creating. They are fighting internally about this and it's -- part of it is generational, part of it is ideological but it has now just grown into what's -- Hakeem Jeffries at a press conference afterwards said he wants the resolution to condemn anti-Semitism, racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, homophobia and the rise in hate that is taken place since Trump took office. That's a lot. That's a lot.

KING: And so the question is, what's your purpose?

KANE: Yes.

KING: In the sense that the resolution was drafted even though it doesn't name Congresswoman Omar. Its direct response the thing she keeps saying. And the leadership says, look, you can criticize history, you can criticize settlement policy, you can criticize Netanyahu. Don't keep saying things that are and don't just, you know, say things that are hurtful to Jews.

So, let's go through some of the history. The first one here is well before she became a member of Congress. This was when she was involved politics in Minnesota. "Israel has hypnotized the world may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. That's way back in 2012."

The next several are all since she became a member of Congress. "It's all about the Benjamins baby." That's about the influence of the pro- Israel lobby she says.

"I want to talk about political influence in this country that says it's OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country." That's this just a couple of weeks ago here in Washington.

"I should not be expected to have allegiance, pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee", she says.

And now again, the duel loyalty thing is offensive.

KANE: Yes.

KING: Because of years and years and years in the history and what are Democratic colleagues have said, maybe you don't understand this history. Please talk us to. And there, they have reached the end of their rope saying we keep saying let's try to work things out, you keep saying things that are hurtful.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And also stop tweeting. I mean I think, part of the problem here is that if you have a nuance position on the issue of the influence of, you know, whatever, lobbying -- Israel lobbying in Congress, don't tweet 280 characters about it because it can easily be taken out of context if that's what you're saying. So I think, the frustration among some Democrats is that even if you have a point on some of this stuff, the way that she has been saying it almost cavalierly just sending out these tweets that are being -- that are being interpreted by many people on both the left and the right is being offensive to Jewish people is not the way to do it and she's created in a lot of ways a sort of unforced error for Democrats. They had to deal with this resolution that this is not how they wanted to start out. I mean, Nancy Pelosi has just come out of winning a debate with Trump over the wall and now there's this. They are fighting amongst themselves over anti-Semitism.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You might as well, if you're the older members of Democratic members of Congress you might as well tell the younger members to stop breathing, right?

KANE: Exactly.

SHEAR: Yes, they live on social media and it really does, my colleagues wrote a story about that this sort of how this with debate over this resolution and really underscores the generational divide within the Democratic Party, the older members versus the younger members. And it also underscores how Democrats handle this so differently from with the way Republicans handle this. We all know how often and for how many years Steve King's racist remarks were sort of swept aside and ignored by Republicans who were much better at just kind of not, you know, nothing to see here, let's move on.

Democrats kind of angst over all of this and it's being -- and it's playing out and it's an important debate, but it's also one the Democrats don't have a good way of sort of getting beyond. They get sort of trapped.

ELANA SCHOR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: But it looks Abby's point about -- KING: And as you're jumping out, I just read this reporting our

Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill, saying Speaker Pelosi in that closed meeting the poll is talking about, referenced the internal issues as she put it and called on dense not to question each other's patriotism or their loyalty to our country.

So, again, you have this generational thing of like a -- and we saw the Republicans go through this. This is why John Boehner left. This is why Paul Ryan left in frustration managing a majority when you have new and different and competing voices is hard especially in this age.

SCHOR: And this internal tension has consequences though to Abby's point about unforced errors. The anti-Semitism addition that was made the last time ended up derailing a Yemen vote in the Senate that could have had a real effects on President Trump's foreign policy, a public rebuke that didn't happen because of this squabble over how to handle it. So, it's not just internal caucus meeting tension. It's actually affecting votes on the floor.

PHILLIP: And it also makes, I mean, they're right about Steve King. They are right that Republicans have resisted and resisted and resisted, condemning --

KING: And they're right as the Republicans have ignored a lot of things the President has said.

PHILLIP: Yes, a blatant racism from -- in his comments.

[12:35:02] But it is impossible to have a length just -- leg to stand on those issues if you can't manage your own caucus. I think that's the problem for Democrats is that it's going to be very difficult for them to condemn those things that they can't really deal with their own people.

KANE: And they have an agenda that they ran on last fall about protecting those with pre-existing conditions and infrastructure and lowering drug prices. H.R.1 is always the most important bill. It's supposed to be on the floor on Friday about ethics reform, protecting the ballot access and it's just not getting any oxygen.

PHILLIP: Yes.

KANE: There were 13 questions at the press conference after the caucus meeting. One dealt with their bill, H.R.1. Everything else went through the other issues.

SCHOR: And you know when this going to get really problematic is when the 2020 presidential candidates or can they ask about it, which is somebody focuses on that, I mean, that's happening.

SHEAR: Yes.

SCHOR: Yes, so --

KING: Being in the majority. It's hard. That's a bipartisan reality. SHEAR: Yes.

KING: Next lawmakers get a fourth day to question Michael Cohen about what he might know about the President and his behavior.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:40:34] KING: Topping our political radar today, Michael Cohen back on Capitol Hill for his fourth and we believe final day of testimony before members of Congress, his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee comes after two other closed-door sessions with lawmakers last week and we all remember that highly publicized public hearing last Wednesday.

Today was supposed to be the day the president's former attorney began a three-year prison sentence. That though has been pushed back to May 6th.

Analysts say new satellite images indicate North Korea is rebuilding a long-range missile testing facility and may have begun that work just before during or right after the President summit with Kim Jong-un last week. Two monitoring group said the launch site in question had been dormant since August. The South Korean lawmaker says her country's intelligence service confirms new activity at the location. No comment is yet from the CIA.

An outspoken new Democrat in Congress ready to lead the impeachment charge President Trump even if most in her party think that's premature. Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has dropped the I-word numerous times before most famously with profanity. Here's what she said this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: Later on this month I will be joining folks and advocates across the country to file the impeachment (INAUDIBLE) --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resolution.

TLAIB: -- resolution. I'm sorry, I'm not in the Michigan legislature, here we got, impeachment resolution to start the impeachment proceedings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up next, Hillary Clinton's latest 2020 wrinkle. First, though, a new presidential slogan for the former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HICKENLOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's Hedgehopper in Dutch. The real issue was --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's good. That's good, you should change it to that just for the campaign. Hedgehopper.

HICKENLOOPER: I might -- I might try that. Hedgehopper 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:46:31] HILLARY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not running, but I'm going to keep working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I am not running does not mean I am definitely not running. That important clarification today from a close ally of Hillary Clinton. The 2016 Democratic nominee was taken aback, it seems, from what you just saw. Her I'm not running comment to a local TV station was interpreted as her official bowing out of the 2020 contest.

So this, courtesy of Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times" on her tweeter feed. Spoke to someone closed with Clinton in contact with her today. They say she wasn't trying to be emphatic and closed the door on running when she spoke to a local reporter yesterday and that she was surprised by how definitively it played. The person also says she's extremely unlikely to run, but that she remains bothered that she's expected to close the door on it when say, John Kerry isn't. She has told her team, she's at least waiting to see the Mueller report.

There you have it.

SHEAR: The definition of the word, "is."

KING: Ouch. Ouch.

SCHOR: I'm old enough to remember though when her team was also aggravated that Bernie Sanders was allowed to sort of launch a second campaign with much fanfare even though she beat him so handily, right? So there is a sort of a bruised ego element here? That's hard to mess.

KING: Bruised ego element --

PHILLIP: I mean, this is the important part of the whole thing which is that she doesn't like the idea that other people, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, these men who are older in her age group and in her era of politics are being welcomed into the Democratic field and she's not.

But, I mean, she actually ran all of the way to the end in 2016 and didn't win and I think that's what Democrats are saying which is that you've had your chance to go all of the way through the process and it didn't work out. Let's leave the field open to other people. KANE: It seems like a lifetime ago, your colleague Mark Preston and I were Senate reporters for roll call in her first term in the Senate and we used to ask her almost every other week, are you running for Senate this time? Are you running for Senate and she would feign such anger having to answer the question. Well, now she's discovering there's nothing worst than not being asked. Are you running for president? That makes you irrelevant. My gosh.

KING: And so we have again, it's a legitimate question. She was the nominee. She won the popular vote. It's a legitimate question for other Democrats to be thinking do you want a rematch? Or you're going to go?

Listen. So the President is paying attention to. He tweeted yesterday, and he put the (Crooked) in parenthesis, you can read that as you wish. Hillary Clinton confirms she will not run in 2020, rules out a third bid for White House. Aw-shucks, does that mean I won't get to run against her again? She will be sorely missed.

Hillary Clinton response tweets a Mean Girls GIF. Mean Girls Regina George asking, "Why are you so obsessed with me?"

They could take this -- they could keep this going on Twitter. They don't need to do it in election do they?

PHILLIP: I'm not sure anybody wants that except for Trump. Do you know what I mean, it's sort of like, this is exactly what Trump wants. He wants to run in 2020 against Hillary Clinton, and he might, actually. He might try to pin everybody to Hillary Clinton in some ways and pin everybody to Bernie Sanders and socialism in other ways, but it would be a very easy thing for him to make her a kind of very recognizable enemy and so this sort of back and forth might seem fun, but I think for a lot of Democrats they're looking at it and they're thinking we have got to move on.

SHEAR: And for her it's a question of legacy, right, whether or not she ultimately decides to run, I think, it's highly unlikely that she would. But she doesn't want it to be left that, you know, that she couldn't run or that -- or that she was, or that she was that it would be impossible for her to run because of how, you know, how things ended.

[12:50:07] I mean, she wants there to be a sort of better resolution to that and wants to be wanted as she was.

SCHOR: And she isn't wanted. That's the thing. I mean, left and right we're hearing about these 2020 candidates who are sitting down with her and asking for her advice. So it's like what more do you need is really the question. I mean, sort of just campaigning again?

KANE: Accepting that elder statesman, elder stateswoman role. It's hard.

SCHOR: Yes.

KING: Yes. KANE: Ask Joe Biden, it's hard.

SCHOR: Yes.

KING: It's hard and the Clintons, whatever you think of them. They're very competitive people and they're involved. When you're in the arena, you're competitive. That's a great point, it's hard.

Up next, America's trade deficit hits a 10-year high. Bad news for the President so you might remember promised to fix it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:55:21] KING: Numbers don't lie and the president will have to take it up with his own Commerce Department if he thinks these figures are fake. The Commerce Department says the U.S. trade deficit ballooned to $ 621 billion last year and that the shortfall with China reached an all-time high.

Our Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans takes a closer look.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, the president's entire trade policy is predicated on his belief that trade deficits represent failure. Well just in, the U.S. trade deficit last year was the worst in a decade. Six hundred twenty-one billion dollars and the overall deficit in goods was the worst in America's 243-year history.

Now, the deficit with China also the worst on record. Now, Trump detests trade deficits. He simplistically sees them as a loss of money from the U.S. to her trading partners, yet, that number he detests in his two years in office the trade deficit has swelled by well over a hundred million dollars. He has called himself tariff man, but those tariffs brought retaliatory tariffs that made U.S. exports more expensive.

Another uncomfortable number for the White House, the budget deficit soared 77 percent in the first four months of the year to $ 310 billion. The deficit ballooned as the government spent way more on the military, veterans affairs and interest on the debt and tax cuts mean the treasury is taking in less money. Tax revenue down 1 1/2 percent over the past 12 months. White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, down played those numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: We are making an investment in America's future. It's already beginning to pay off and if that means we incur some additional debt in this short run so be it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The White House view is huge corporate tax cuts with super charged economic growth enough to rein in the deficit, but that hasn't happened. Economic growth last year came in just around the President's three percent official goal and well below the four even five percent growth he often promised.

Now, the Congressional budget office estimates the deficits will reach roughly $ 900 billion this year and aging American population will drive up Medicare and Social Security costs sharply in coming years. Within a decade, John, interest payments on the national debt will be larger than discretionary spending. John.

KING: Christine Romans, thanks for crunching the numbers.

I remember a campaign in which candidate Donald Trump said stupid people hired by other presidents were responsible for the trade policies and that he was going to make it all go away and it would be easy. That stupid people were running the government and balancing the budget and getting rid of the budget deficit would be easy. We're two years in.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, I should start by saying trade deficits are not inherently bad. The President has made them bad. They are not inherently bad.

But in the President's argument here is that the short-term pain, the deficit's going up because of retaliatory tariffs are in the interest of getting the players to the table. So China is at the table. They are negotiating. Will they get a deal is the major question here.

I've heard a lot of skepticism that if there is a deal that it will be one that actually resolves the issues that the president sought out to resolve, but he may be on to something in the sense that if he is able to get a reduction in tariffs before he put into place his tariffs, then the future might be a better scenario. But I think for now, the pain is being felt by American consumers. It's being felt by American farmers and I think unless he gets a deal it could be felt for some time to come.

SHEAR: And one of the things Donald Trump does is he declares victory. He tries to create the reality that he wishes to be. And so take NAFTA, the replacement for NAFTA, he often goes around saying he fixed it. He got rid of NAFTA and he put in place the new trade deal.

They negotiated the trade deal, it has not been put in place, yet. It's not actually having any impact at this point and it hasn't been ratified by Congress or anybody else.

So he does these things that he -- and so and part of the reason the numbers are where they are is because the things that he says that happened haven't actually really happened.

SCHOR: Exactly.

KING: But other big numbers, four percent unemployment. The stock market, you know, with some hiccups doing quite well. The question is do the big picture things, if you're trying to make the case against the President and his re-election campaign, can you talk about the trade deficit or the budget deficit or today. The closing of an Auto factory in Ohio that the President promised would stay open. Can you make a case of those things when the bigger numbers are on his side? SCHOR: Well, great segway though because Sherrod Brown who's not even an official candidate is the only one I've heard actually seized on that GM factory closing as a point against the President. So, for this to work or it's actually be a cajole against him, the Democrats running have to use it and I haven't really seen them do that, yet.

KANE: Yes.

SHEAR: Right.

KING: The campaign is just starting. We'll watch out this would play out. All right, thanks for joining us today in INSIDE POLITICS. You have a great afternoon, don't go anywhere, a lot of news today. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a good day.