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Trump Backs Public Release of Mueller Report; Justice Dept. Issues Subpoenas in Boeing Criminal Probe; O'Rourke Campaigns in All 10 Countries in New Hampshire; Trump: Time for the U.S. to Recognize Israel's Sovereignty Over Golan Heights Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 21, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Any other word you want to use of this whole investigation, you know, really for two years. Now suddenly saying I'm fine with it being a publically. He also said he wanted to sit down for an interview.

So, we cannot necessarily take the president's first words at this as the final word. We'll see if he keeps going about it. I also have a hard time believing the new attorney general is going to risk his entire reputation, a lifelong reputation, in doing something that is at odds with the guidelines in this town. But we will see. We do not know what they're saying privately if anything.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The recent renewed and escalating rage against Mueller from the president raises my curiosity in the sense that throughout the investigation, the president and his attorneys because they have these cooperation agreements because they're getting asked for documents because they're getting asked for the interview because they're answering the written questions. They always know more than we know. And so my question is, does he know something we don't know or does he just know that generally the end is near and this is coming?

I want you to listen again to Anthony Scaramucci saying that he believes -- he does believe that part of the president's recent anxiety is because he thinks he's being persecuted.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The president is doing this because he's (INAUDIBLE). He's upset, he feels there is a grievance against him, he feels that this dossier was totally unfair, and he feels that there's been an unbalance in terms of what goes on in Washington vis-a-vis him.

I get all that but don't attack dead people. It's just stupid. You know, it's like there's no benefit to that.


KING: Can't do anything but agree with the last part there. But to the mindset, we don't have any inside information that they know what's coming. There have been some people at the White House who say they expect to at least get a briefing on it or some -- know before us, but it fascinates me just because of the consistency. The president starts raging three days later, there's a big development in the newspaper. The president rages three days later, there's a big development in the newspaper that this recent return of it has me thinking, what does he know that we don't know?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that they probably know something. You would obviously know this better than me but it feels like that. I think -- you know, when you -- we find out later about things that go out in the White House and there's always a lot more going on than we know from the outside, particularly at the time, so there's probably some kind of communication.

To the other point about whether to release it, the president reminds me -- we've seen this at a lot of Senate confirmation hearings over the years, oh, I wish they could release all those documents, but of course, the White House is holding onto them. If it was my decision, I'd give them all to you. and I think the president probably thinks he's playing it smart here, but he's not. Because this increases the pressure on the Justice Department, and it's just going to make it hard for them when they say -- you know when they're trying to do what the president really wants and sit on the report. Everybody is going to say, well, you said the president wants it out, he wants it out.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I heard what the president said yesterday and I didn't hear him at all to be promising to release anything. I heard him say, yes, of course, I want the public to see it. Let's see what it says. Basically, let's see if it's fair enough to release. And I think part of this for the president is, yes, he doesn't want it to bring the hammer down on him except that he doesn't say that but he also wants it to exonerate him.

And if this report does not exonerate him, if there's nothing in there they can release that says no collusion -- I'm paraphrasing but that's the gist of it, then, you know, we may hear him try to spin it that way anyway, but he won't have done that. And that's the cloud he wants off of him so that once and for all he can say, look, see, this now definitively says that I didn't do anything weird. And if it doesn't do that then all leftover threads (INAUDIBLE) congressional investigations, you know, remain.

And he wants it off of him, he wants it done.

KING: Well, they remain so if -- no matter what Robert Mueller says, it's not going to (INAUDIBLE) including Congress and other federal prosecutors. But you're right to that which is why we heard yesterday the political argument, a deputy named a guy who got no votes who's writing a report. We could dissect that but I want everyone to have a nice dinner tonight I guess.

Before we go to break, a fun milestone. Former President Jimmy Carter getting a new title today as he becomes the oldest living former president. President Carter 94 and a half years old. He just broke the record previously held by the late George H.W. Bush. Congratulations, Mr. President.

We'll be right back.


[12:38:39] KING: Topping our political radar today, the Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin facing blowback after he says he exposed every one of his nine children to chicken pox on purpose. The governor weighing in after a teen sued the State Health Department for barring him from school that after an outbreak in a Catholic school. The teen says he's being discriminated against because of his religious beliefs.

Here's what the governor had to say.


GOV. MATT BEVIN (R), KENTUCKY: Every single one of my kids had the chicken pox. They got the chicken pox on purpose. They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days and they all turned out fine. This is America, and the federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn't.


KING: Some pushback today for Nikki Haley after she criticized Finland's healthcare system. The former U.S. ambassador tweeting, quote, healthcare costs are too high, that's true, but comparing us to Finland is ridiculous. Ask them how their healthcare is. You won't like the answer.

Finland's top U.S. envoy says Haley is wrong, and that the Finns have, quote, a high performing health system. Haley's tweet was referring to Senator Bernie Sanders' tweet comparing the healthcare systems of Finland and the United States.

Democrat John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman is running for president. But he also thinks Maryland's governor, Larry Hogan should do the same and jump into the 2020 race. Delaney releasing a statement calling for the Republican to challenge President Trump because he says the president is, quote, an embarrassment to the American people. But Delaney added he's confident there will be a Democrat in the White House come 2021.

[12:40:01] New details today on the Boeing investigation. Sources telling CNN the Justice Department has issued multiple subpoenas to the company as it looks on the deadly crashes of two of Boeing 737's MAX aircraft.

Joining me now, CNN's Jessica Schneider. Jessica, this is a big escalation by the government.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is, John. You know, the scrutiny around this crashes. It is now turned into a criminal probe and it all really seems to be centering around the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX jets. So we're learning that prosecutors have issued multiple subpoenas to get information from Boeing about the certification process, as well as its safety procedures including the training manuals that it used for pilots.

Plus, we know that these subpoenas relate to the marketing of the 737 MAX jets which of course we know came through with great urgency since Boeing was racing against Airbus to get their newest models on the market. So, as -- in terms of the probe, it's still not clear what criminal issues could be front and center, but we do know that as part of the safety analysis for the aircraft, Boeing actually presented its own certification procedures to the FAA, something called self- certification. And it is completely legal, but it is possible that the statements made during that self-certification process, perhaps that could be under scrutiny.

But really, John, overall, this criminal investigation launch is an ominous step because criminal probes into the aviation industry are rare, and instead, these issues are typically handled at the administrative level, and that's happening, too. The Department of Transportation inspector general is auditing the certification process. And of course now, John, it's also in the criminal realm.

Back to you.

KING: It's a big deal. Keep tracking it for us, Jessica Schneider. Appreciate that.

Up next, Beto O'Rourke blitzing across New Hampshire. And bringing something else to the campaign trail. Taco Thursday.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going inside and eat some tacos and then we're going to come back outside again. And we will be back to Manchester.



[12:46:09] KING: The Beto O'Rourke blitz has this milestone today, stops in all 10 New Hampshire counties on one very, very busy first visit to the leadoff primary state. The busy campaigning is getting the attention to his many rivals as O'Rourke's initial fundraising success. To those rolling their eyes at the shortage of policy specifics, the former Texas congressman says, hey, wait, he does have clear goals but he also says, he wants to listen.


O'Rourke: I'm trying to do a better job as I hope you all will agree in answering your questions, basing your accountability in making sure that your readers and viewers can hear my answers to the questions that you pose. So I'm trying to do my best, and I know that the people of New Hampshire are doing their best. They take this responsibility as the first primary state very seriously.

And so many have said, I expect to see you back, I have more questions for you. I look forward to answering those. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson joins us from Manchester, New Hampshire on this taco Thursday. Nia, what's your sense about New Hampshire voters were looking for?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: They are looking to see people, right, to see them, to talk to them. They're also looking for specifics. Right, that's been one of the knocks on Beto O'Rourke so far. He doesn't have the policy chops that a lot of the other folks in the field do. They're much more wonkish (ph) and so you do hear people pressing him for specifics.

One woman asked him about affordable housing. She was experiencing problems with housing herself. And she had a follow-up question to his answer which wasn't specific enough for her. She said, how?

Another woman asked about education reform, and you could hear another woman in the background essentially critiquing Beto O'Rourke's questions answer saying, he's not asking your question -- he's not answering your question. At the same time though, if you talk to voters they say, it's still early, they haven't made up their minds on any number of issues or any number of candidates. So they're willing to give Beto O'Rourke a hearing and a chance to flush out his policy ideas and his initiatives.

At this point, they're just willing to listen to what he's got to say and they want to hear from everybody. A couple of people are superfans, you know, one woman I met in New York when she came to the Oprah Winfrey event where Beto O'Rourke was, she was here at this event as well. So he's got some superfans here following them around, but also there are people who are trying to make up their minds and just want to hear him out.

KING: One of your superfans was just waving over your shoulder while you were talking to us in the program, so it's not just Beto O'Rourke with superfans. Nia-Malika Henderson had some superfans as well.


KING: Enjoy New Hampshire, looking forward to hear more what you bring into the room.

It is interesting. Look, the other campaigns were all taking notice of this and they will mumble to us and share with us, we don't think he has the policy chops. Well, he has the money, he has energy, he's pushing the dial, that's a good thing.

Let's just -- here's a question though, he's a Texas congressman. Can you sell your record in Texas as -- in a national Democratic primary where the party has gone more and more left? When he's a congressman, he supported means testing. Meaning, if you make a certain amount of money, you get less benefits. You know, you just -- why should the government giving benefits to people who make whether it's upper- middle-class income or higher than not. Yesterday, he says, you know, no, I've learned a lot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has your mind changed on (INAUDIBLE) means testing entitlements? What would you say to somebody who says he was for that in 2012, why wouldn't he be like that in 2021?

O'ROURKE: Yes. You asked the question, has my mind changed on that? Absolutely. I think I've become a lot smarter from listening to the people that I represented in Congress and to others who understand this issue better than I do.


KING: And it's a risk not just for him but for any candidate. We've talked about Joe Biden and his past and how Joe Biden today is not Joe Biden of 30 years ago. But the questions is, can you sell that, he said, yes, I learned, I changed my mind, anyone who hasn't change their minds, you have to raise your hand. I also -- I've evolved based on information or actually I'm just blown with the wind.

That's the challenge.

ZELENY: I think you have candidates that's part of an overall growth. Most people don't know anything about him except I think the early primary phase of money is obviously less important, but commanding attention is the most important thing, and he has done that.

[12:50:04] Is that enough? Probably not.

But as Carl was saying earlier, all rules are out from previous races, so anyone who thinks that they know what his endgame is going to be, who knows? If he can grow as a candidate, he has learned a lot. It's been seven days. Seven days that he's been on the road. So, we'll see how he learns.

My question is, does he have time to sort of crash course as a candidate? Is he getting briefings? Is he interested in sort of answering the question of why he wants to be president? He was also asked that in New Hampshire meandering a sort of a non-answer to that, but he also seems to have a long way to go.

So I think in this introductory phase, he's learned a lot. Let's see what he does with it after he announces and sort of fills himself out here. But, again, seven days.

TALEV: Also they get the knock on him is -- one of the knocks on -- the easy knock on him is going to be, you're -- you don't currently have a job and you lost your last race, that being able to pivot to talk about what he learned when he was last elected office might be helpful to him. Because he can turn back to a time when he did have a day job to go to, and it was an elected one for which he won an election.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: I think --sorry, I think also that a lot of times it's the reporters who press people on those issues rather than, you know, actual voters. And, you know, based on the reporting, we've seen a lot of voters have said they like his positive energy which is something that's come up and something that's helped fuel his small-dollar donation. So, I think yes.

Talev: But it also gave Joe Biden some running room to be able to revisit votes of his past and talk about changes. If you've got a combined primary of people who were in it a long time and made votes that wouldn't pass the smell test anymore, and people who have been in it very long and don't have a lot of experience, this whole issue of being able to talk about things that you've learned is going to be an interesting one parameter through which to watch the (INAUDIBLE).

KING: (INAUDIBLE) 15 of them, there might be 20 of them.

HULSE: I mean, the guy is going to be a factor, let's just say that. There is something about him to your point that captures the public's imagination, and people are interested in what he says. And I think that he is going to be around for a while. I think they said that about Lincoln, too, when he ran for president that you don't have a job and you lost your last race. It's true.


KING: (INAUDIBLE) beat me on my question. Just as we go to break, Beto O'Rourke is buying tacos today contributing to New Hampshire economy. He's also considering -- contributing to the city of Manchester if you will. Eric Bradner is up there, "Beto O'Rourke's gray van just got a $50 parking ticket. O'Rourke, who was driving, left it in a no-parking zone outside the Manchester courthouse while he went across the street to the Consuelo's Taqueria. An advance staffer quickly moved the van."

Fifty bucks. OK, keep that economy going.

Up next, New Zealand acts quickly after a massacre to enact new gun controls. Some Democrats here ask, why can't the United States do that?


[12:57:20] KING: Some very important international news breaking from the White House on Twitter which is unusual in its own right. The president of the United States just tweeting, and here it is, "After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights which is of critical strategic and security importance to the state of Israel and regional stability."

This is a huge deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just yesterday in Israel pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to say the United States was prepared to recognize what critics in the region would call the illegal occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel annexed the Golan Heights after the (INAUDIBLE), annex it in 1981. This is a big deal, Netanyahu is on his way to the United States soon. He has elections on April 9th and there's a lot of questions about investigations of Netanyahu, will he survive those elections?

Here is the president of the United States reversing years of U.S. policy and doing it on Twitter.

ZELENY: Netanyahu has been trying to get the U.S. to do this for quite some time. So the timing of this I think is the most interesting thing. He's been talking with Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state and Senator Lindsey Graham who said that they would sure get the president to do this. So, it is a significant development but I think the timing more so because of those elections on April 9th and Netanyahu's visit here next week. Of course, this will be, you know, all that -- you know, this will be the centerpiece of that meeting next week.

KING: It is. Let's just be right out about it. This is the president of the United States essentially trying to help Benjamin Netanyahu in his election.

TALEV: This is -- yes. This is the president putting his thumb on the scale in favor of Netanyahu. Look, I traveled with John Bolton to Israel and to the region earlier this year. There was a time then obviously the Golan came up and some other discussions. They were supposed to do a helicopter tour of the area. It got called off for weather. They could have announced this then, they didn't.

This is something that Dermer and the White House and the administration have been talking about for a while. The time -- you can -- there are no coincidences of timing at a time like this. There were questions about whether BB could actually still come because of the trouble he had at home. There are questions about, you know, the timing with APEC. It's all happening now, he gets his meeting, he gets his dinner, and he gets this announcement right after.

KING: Then he believes he has more leverage if you will because of the long-running dysfunction in Syria in the civil war. There are fans of Assad -- hard to find fans of Assad around the world. Still, for a president of the United States to unilaterally do this and to do it on Twitter?

HULSE: Well, it shows you how this White House works so differently from other White Houses which of course we know. This would usually be a big, long deliberation within the White House, there'd be all sorts of discussions and debate. You know, Netanyahu said, boy, I could really use this. Trump says, well, here it is, and it's that fast.

KING: I look for a blowback not only here in the United States but the international blowback as well. It's an important developing breaking news story.

Thanks for joining us today in the INSIDE POLITICS. Stay with us. We'll continue to cover that.

Another big development today. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.