tv Inside Politics CNN March 4, 2018 5:00am-6:00am PST
england is justify one example this morning. we are so grateful that you spend some time with us every morning. thanks for being here. make good memories today. >> it's been a pleasure too. "inside politics" with john king starts right now. have a good day. the president is angry, isolated. the west wing in chaos. >> i did something wrong and god punished me, i guess. >> policy turmoil too. a shock to the nra and republicans. >> i like taking the guns early. take the guns first, go through due process. >> and the president says trade arizona are good. allies and the marks disagree. >> when our country can't make aluminum and steel, you almost don't have much of a country. >> insi"inside politics,politic
biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. to our viewers in the united states and around the world thank you for sharing your sunday. washington is rattled by a week of stunning chaos, all of it connected to a president friends describe as isolated and angry. the president's daughter and his son-in-law are at odds with his chief-of-staff. >> i miss every one of you every day. i went -- truly, six months, the last thing i wanted to do was walk away from the great honors of my life but i did something wrong and god punished me, i guess. >> there's chaos in policy too. the president sinwings wildly. >> obviously regardless of what
the president says, ewe're not going to pass any legislation that denies due process to people. >> you don't take the gun pane go to court. the president's wrong about that. that's a nonstarter. >> brace for a trade war. the president rallies republicans, key financial market and some on his own staff by vowing to slap new tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel. >> no trade war has ever worked. we don't want to make america 1930 again. they don't want to be drafted into a trade war. trade creates jobs. all the data shows that and trade lowers prices for american families. trade wars do the opposite. >> with us this sunday to share their reporting and insight abby phillip, michael bender, manu raju and mary katherine hand. >> the trump white house is chaotic now more than ever. this president does not hide what drives his thinking, especially his constant anger.
>> she's a great gentleman he's now president for live. president for life! he's great -- he was able to do that, i think it's great. we may want to give that a shot some day. he's the most powerful president in 100 years in china. >> that was as a fund raiser yesterday. the president of the world leading deposition praises a dictator. president trump then launched into an attack for investigating him, not hillary clinton. >> i tell you, it's a rigged system, folks. i've been saying it for a long time. it's a rigged system. we don't have the right people. we have a lot of great people put on certain things we don't have the right people in. >> it's no secret why the
president is angry and isolated. the headlines about the russian investigation are eye popping. the president's business dealings are a focus, so or his son-in-laws. does the trump campaign have a heads up the russians had democratic e-mails and were about to leak them. to no one's surprised the president launched a fresh attack at jeff sessions labeling disgraceful his recusal from all things russia. in a defiant statement, as long as i am the attorney general i will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and constitution. sessions then had a public dinner with his deputy rod rosenstein and he's often characterized as fox news as
part of deep state plot against the president add this had on friday. >> you will not always agree with our policy decisions and you definitely won't hear this on cable tv, but i can assure you the department leadership team appointed by president trump is very strong on ethics and professionalism. history will reflect that the department of justice operated within integrity on our watch. >> i want to spend most of our time in this first segment on that, the pushback from the attorney general and the deputy attorney general to the president of the united states and make no mistake about it that's what that was. first the attorney general and the presidential dinner and the president in the happy. the deputy attorney general. what does it say? the white house will say takes joke. what does it say when the president of the united states stands up at a fund raiser and he says, maybe we should try that, president for life, after
xi -- he's always expressed his admiration for people like xi. i think the president with the presidency for donald trump has been that it's not as powerful as he thought that it was going to be, that congress does have a role but the courts do have a role that his own justice department, for example, has their guidelines about how they act and what they do that might go against what he wants them to do. he's frustrated by that and that's pattern in what he's saying. it's not saying anything at all and never has really about the human rights abuses. i remember when those college basketball players were locked up in china. they -- you know, they were facing a potentially stiff
sentence for something that was bad but relatively minor and never once did president trump say, you know, we don't think that this punishment fits the crime. he doesn't express those sentiments. >> forgive me, is it just old-school and i should forget about it, isn't the job of the united states we view this as a step in the wrong direction, we view this as bad for the chinese people. we need to work with you on trade and security but this is not the way to go. isn't that what the president of the united states is supposed to say? >> typically. these guys at the white house every day were probably at the briefing last week when sarah huckabee sanders was asked about this directly shaen would not criticize president xi. this is an issue for the state department. it's one thing if the president of the united states came out and condemned china's actions and then the president makes some offhand remark at a fund raiser. they haven't condemned what
china is doing and a lot of members of the president's own party have condemned them and they do want the united states to stand up what they view is authoritarian behavior. the white house has just not done that. >> let's bring it back to where we should spend most of our time. attorney general has grinned and beared it when the president has called him everything under the sun. these are all the things the president has called the leading law enforcement officer of the united states government and a man who is incredibly loyal to him at times in a very tough presidential campaign. when you see a attorney general and a public show of the deputy attorney general in a speech saying history will record us doing our jobs just right. >> he feels he is doing the right thing. he felt he was doing the right thing by rusing in the first place. the improbable campaign to make
jeff sessions sympathetic continues at a pace that's very successful even for people of the left are now like, gees. this unified pushback is maybe overdue and something that he just hit a point where he couldn't handle it any more. it's very dignified and done through the proper channels and a different way than the president does it. >> the president to his credit was trying to be funny. he said as part of his speech, my attorney general jeff sessions, i offered him a ride over but he recused himself. do they get at the white house that the attorney general and deputy attorney general probably have decided we're not going to get shoved around any more? >> now even after a year, it's been happening pretty consistently, these rebukes have
been pretty consistent. he goes in ups and downs. it was out of his mind for a while. then about a week ago at a ceremony they crossed paths, trump and sessions. it was awkward exchange and almost reminded the president at that time that he was upset and is where this started to spinup again. what's -- as you make very good points this is the attorney general of the united states but also inside the west wing, inside the white house there are a handful of sessions guys there. stephen miller the top policy aid to president trump may not be stephen miller without jeff sessions. you have rick dearborn who is on his way out but still over there. this is a very uncomfortable personal dynamic for a lot of people in the west wing aside about what this says about the direction of the country. >> the president did seem more angry. he's isolated, questioning
everything. should i keep this person or that person? you seal the body language. very tight. when you look at the headlines, we could spend an hour just on the headlines of bob mueller's investigation. jared finances, president finance finances, trying to connect the dots on the russia before they released the e-mails. if you're the president of the united states, do you think this is final reaching a crossroads or do you think this is going off in a hundred different directions and it's never going to end. >> that's the point. it's making it harder for them to tell the president that it's coming to an end. that's what they've been trying to tell him since the late fall. by november, by december, by january, by february and here we are in march and it only seems that the scope of the investigation keeps expanding. maybe it's expanding away from the president personally, but
the bad news around the white house and top people around the president continues to spiral and i don't think -- it doesn't seem very much like it matters to president trump whether the bad news is about jared or about him personally, the idea of the mueller probe continuing on is what stirs up this anger in him and that's not abating at all. >> when is paul manafort's trial scheduled for, september. we have a long ways to go at least on that aspect. >> i'm sure he wishes he had the power of the china president to just wave it away but he doesn't. the president runs both hot and cold on whether his daughter and her husband should stay at the white house. politicians say the darnedest things, snl, trump talks about his unique management talk. >> i said i was going to run this country like a business. that business is say waffle house at 2:00 a.m.
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so how chaotic and high level is the trump west wing staff wars? the chief-of-staff john kelly summoned a group of reporters to his office in an effort to clear the air, take some blame and try to turn the page. we'll get to the details of what was discussed in a moment but it almost doesn't matter. this does. en an hour after the session ended accounts quoting other west wing officials that kelly didn't have his facts straight. kelly closed the meeting to try to close the books on how he handle the rob porter situation. the timing was a bad surreal. this past week dominated by much fresher staff chaos including the resignation of hope hicks and constant accounts of tension between kelly himself and jared kushner. abbey and michael, you were both in this session. i just found it remarkable that
it was not over for an hour and you started seeing other accounts in just about every news organization that covers the white house, senior officials saying he didn't have his facts straight, we don't trust him, he's still the problem. why did john kelly call you all in the office? >> i think he wants to a better relationship with the press, let's start with that. john kelly as a former military officer he is used to having a less adversarial relationship with the press. he chose to go on the record about this portion of the event which was surprising to us and it was surprising because it wasn't clear that he had an objective, that he wanted to set out a certain account of it. he reiterated a lot of things that a lot of people in the white house think are not exactly a truthful telling particularly this considered that it took him two hours to fully handle the porter situation when the public record
makes that very clear that that's not what happened and he also was pressed and only after being pressed for quite a while to acknowledge that they messed up, that they screwed up how they handled his departure. i think that that process as ultimately frustrating to people in the white house, because it took so long for him to get to the point where he was willing to say, we didn't cover ourselves in glory with how we will dealt with this. a lot of people in the white house look at the situation and say from beginning to end it was mishandled. >> he also said i have absolutely nothing to even consider of resigning over. >> like abbey said, he should get a credit for finally acknowledging what we all saw that they did not cover themselves in glory in this situation. he told the "the wall street journal" in the middle of this that they had done nothing wrong. he has changed his mind on that a little bit but he's definitely
in defense mode here. his on the record accounting of what happened, there is no explanation of consider the white house broadly didn't know what john kelly says he decided a day before that rob kelley had to resign. his accounting is that he accepted porter's resignation but the next day the white house press office, sarah huckabee sanders is in front of live cameras saying there's no effective date this resignation. major disconnect there and basically you have to tell two people when you resign, the general counsel to get all the paper work in order and you tell the mouthpiece of the white house so everybody understands what's going on. >> by that point there were photos. it was very public and they decided to go that route. >> the other piece of this that kelly wants credit for is the security clearance. he made major changes in the security clearance. he talked about how this is a process that he set up, he recognized right when he took over was a problem. what left unsaid it was four
months after he started this process that took accusations of domestic abuse, some -- crown the white house was clued in on this a year earlier, it took four months before he implemented any changes. >> part of the security clearance was the demotion of the level of intelligence that jared kushner now has access to, all apart of the chaos this past week. ivanka trump and jared kushner are responsible but through allies for some of the questioning through john kelly. john kelly said i'm staying on the job. i want to read. once the prince of trump's washington, kushner is now tripped of his access. isolated and badly weakened inside the administration, under scrutiny for mixing business and government work and facing the possibility of grave legal perle in the russia probe. but he's staying? >> as far as we can tell. he's a very significant of the mueller investigation going forward. we don't know where this is going to end up. we do know that -- i don't think
we can recall any senior white house aide in any previous administration to get this many bad headlines in a row and for them to stay on staff and one reason that he's staying on staff is he's the president's son-in-law and there's a reason why typically there are nepotism rules in effect that go across the government is because when someone gets baggage and has a lot of liability you can cut them loose and get rid of them because they're a problem for the administration. here, the president's relative and he's keeping him on board probably because the fact that he's married to his daughter. >> at times the president's saying this is unfair to ivanka and jared. how do i get them to take the hint and leave? the president runs hot and cold on his own family. last night the gridiron dinner, the president was making jokes. he said, i like turnover. i like chaos. it's really good.
now the question who keeps asking, who's the next to leave, steve miller or haenl. that is terrible but you love me honey. oh, i won't tell you what she said. is that funny? >> little too close to the truth. i think on the kelly front the porter handling was like nearly indefensible. every mistake that could have been made was made in a different white house, the result would be different for john kelly but everybody's afraid of who's the chief-of-staff behind door number three and has better confidence in kelly than others. i think tactically was this a mistake for him to bring this up again, so on one hand he looks weak in that situation, on the other hand, who's down and out this week. hope hicks is out and jared kushner's downgraded on his security clearance. is it the ascension of john kelly because it looks more like that.
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♪ (buzzer) ♪ olly. welcome back. hardly just staff chaos that has republicans worried about the direction of the trump presidency p. white house policy is also angering the fellow republicans not to mention some key global allies. let's take a look at the president's big announcement on trade. last week he said he's going to impose 25% tariffs on imported
steel, 10% tariffs on aluminum. this was the announcement last week. inside the white house, here's one thing. take a look. steel, the united states imports 33% of the steel we use in america right now. 90 90% of the aluminum. this was a big fight inside the administration. in favor of it, the president and his america first trade team, the trade representative and trade adviser. they have said, mr. president, you campaigned on this, do it. they won. they carried the day. against this inside the administration, pretty heavy hitters, the secretary of defense and treasury, the national security adviser, the president's top economic adviser who was blindsided by this announcement. left to sell it a lot for the president this week, watch here. the commerce secretary wilbur ross or the president's can man. >> for beverage cans, there's only about 3 cents of steel or aluminum so if that goes up 10%
you're talking a fraction of a penny. in the can of campbell soup there's about 2 .6 cents, 2.6 pennies worth of steel. so if that goes up by 25%, that's about 6/10 of one cent so who the in the world is going to be too bothered by that. >> it's a complicated issue. it's both policy and political. it's big controversy. you got to love that. no? no? >> we saw trump's announcement was rejected by the markets. they took a turndown after he made that announcement and the point there is that it's not the specifics of what the secretary of commerce is talking about but the larger picture here. it's the further dismantling of the global compact that's been in place in recent decades and another indication that the u.s. is more interested in
dis-manhattaning it than helping put that back together. >> policy and political. if you're an america first voter, you say thank you mr., president, what took so long? the president says is trade wars are good. the markets disagree. i just -- this is proof, if he follows through on this, if he follows through and this is how different he is in terms of republican orthodoxi. the hard truth that protecting domestic industries only encourages those industries to relax. americans are stuck with higher prices and lower quality. the policy will hurt more american businesses and american workers than it will help and absolutely imperil. it's a bad idea. conceived and unveiled badly. >> if only there were some way to have known that he was not an idealogical conservative before he became the republican president. this is economic illiteracy and
it's also this pattern with the white house that no one knows what the plan is even when it's a gigantic announcement and the gigantic plan. the coheave siffness is not there. let's talk about something the president actually cares about. the numbers on that have gone on 20 plus points because reality is on the side of the republican argument. people are seeing this in their paycheck. he is in danger of undercutting every single thing that he achieved with that one legislative victory with what is essentially a tax on a bunch of employers on a bunch of american workers on a bunch of american families but because it has this ring to it and it has this old-school protectionism bumper sticker quality he's going to stick with it. >> that's why republicans are cringing. they just want to focus on tax cuts now they have a policy difference with the president that they think could hurt the economy. >> yeah. this is really the first significant policy break we've seen between republicans in washington and the white house since the president has come
into office. you've seen republicans recoil at times at things the president has said. but on policy and legislation, he does fall in line with typical republican orthodoxi even if he says like take your guns away -- >> pretty big inception. >> resort back to what the nra supports at the end of the day. this a clear break from his party and you have not seen this level of outrage from republicans pushing back but there's very little they can do other than the fact that as you were saying earlier that this could undercut their message going into an election year where they're trying to make the case that their tax cuts are working but if this tariff plan could undercut what they're trying to sell to the public. >> it also says something about the dysfunction in the white house. we were just talking about the president tried to make this announcement before anybody could stop him. >> he did make this announcement before anybody could stop him. >> he did. he wanted to surprise his own aides. there was no policy to roll out
when the president rolled this out and, in fact, there had been a process going forward that he short circuited which we've seen him do on smaller issues but this is perhaps by far the biggest one we've seen him do that on. the white house does not have the ability to get the president to go through a process on what actually orkz, what they think is the best policy to go forward. he's going to go with his gut and try to undermine them if they think that they're trying to stop him. it's a real problem going forward. it seems very much like the president is at a point where he's not willing to be reigned in on some thing that he thinks are important. the result might be a spiraling of tariffs. you saw him already over the weekend tweeting out new policy on potential tariffs across the board on all imports into the united states. that is a huge policy announcement that he just tweeted out. >> he lashed at the european
union today. listen to justin trudeau. we're going to protect our workers. if the united states does this, we'll do it back. >> i've highlighted that this is not something we wanted to see and we will continue to engage with all levels of the american administration in the coming days so that they understand that this proposal is unacceptable. >> so canadian. >> the point he's trying to make and a lot of people in the white house are making, buzz late in the week that gary cohn might resign over this. and then there are people saying he's going to stay to see maybe the president won't actually follow through. they have to issue the rules. they have to put it in writing. maybe the president's just talking again and we're not supposed to believe what the president of the united states says. is that a fact? are we not sure he's going to follow through? >> we haven't seen any details of it. that part is true.
we've heard the public announcement, we've heard the peter in a various roe and wilbur ross's interpretation. we haven't seen the actual details. this is where gary cohn's saving grace is. this does tie back to our last block with the white house chaos. these things have real policy impacts. rob porter, he was a gatekeeper of the oval office and point man setting up some of these trade meetings. he had kept effectively isolated peter with out of the white house, navaro has worked his way back in and got a promotion and delivered him one of his signature campaign promises. as for the politics of this, you read off all of the traditional conservative voices, how about the fact -- you know who's making that argument inside the white house? the registered democrat, gary
cohn is making that argument to the president. this is something the president wants. it's just a fascinating dynamic with all of his top economic advisers telling him not to do something that -- this is not a ross or navaro thing, this is a president trump issue. >> it's a great debate. the president and guns. does anyone know what he really wants? does he know what he really wants?
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i like taking the guns early. take the gunsz first. go through due process second. it doesn't make sense i have to wait until i'm 21 to get a handgun but i can get this weapon at 18. i don't know. if you add conceal carry to this you'll never get it passed. i'd rather have you come up with a strong, strong bill and really strong on background checks. that was president trump on
wednesday at the white house four different pieces of the gun debate, four positions from the president, counter to that of the national rifle association and most republicans. so then explain this, the very next day, an evening meeting with the nra. the president tweets that it was great. the top nra official tweets this, good meeting. that couldn't have been the republican president of the united states saying that. >> that meeting is just so remarkable because the president undercut his party's position on so many key issues, even their general negotiating position going in. the republicans are saying we just need to deal with fixing the national criminal background system of the fbi administered to make sure local agencies report into the background checks. not expand background checks. here's the president saying, why don't we expand background
checks as part of it. we can't do concealed/carry reciprocity which is a big thing house republicans are doing. that's not going to pass either. then suggesting you could take guns away before due process rights all have republicans scratching their heads. the president's position on this are as clear as mud, john. we don't have a sense on what the president wants. >> you have a difficult issue that has polarized here in the nation's capital. if you're going to move anything even modest improvements to the background system, you need leadership, clarity, consistency from the president of the united states and we don't have it. is that fair? >> one of the things he's been consistent on is he's willingness to take on the nra. >> he says publicly all the time, including -- let me unique this in. this is the president telling a lot of republicans in the room this is your problem. >> they have great power over you people. they have less power over me. some of you people are petrified of the nra. you can't be petrified.
they want to do what's right and they're going to do what's right. >> he says he's not petrified. republicans are petrified. and some of the things he said the top but does he mean it? >> we'll see. we give him credit, due credit for putting this on television. we would give him even more credit if he would put some of these lunches with the nra on live television and see what happens in those interactions. this has a long way to go. he's taken every single issue aside of this issue and before -- before that meeting, republican leadership aides on the hill were throwing their hands up on this. that we're not putting any stock in what he's saying because it's moving all over the place and his willingness to say anything. >> is he just unfamiliar with the issue? there's these restraining orders. if a mother, a father, a family member, maybe a mental health professional says, i see a problem here, we can get that approved and go and take one's
person's guns in a very limited circumstance. even democrats are saying, this is the united states of america, you can't just go and take peoples's property without due process. >> maybe it's to make the left argue for due process on guns and free trade and i'm sort of on board for that. seeing a republican president, all jokes aside, seeing a republican president be row tariffs and pro-gun control in the same week is pretty interesting. in the restraining order solution you would have a court process that you had to meet some levels -- >> much more limited. >> quickly, the president wants to win. he wants to win on this issue like on every other issue. i'm willing to predict he'll fall in line with anything he can get passed. next, a presidential road trip to a crucial swing state and a chance for the president to sell those trade proposals we were talking about.
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and pharmacist recommended. garlique.® let's head one time around the politics table. abbey? >> with the departure of hope hicks there's new talk outside of the white house about the new communications director, who that person might be but even before hope's departure there was talk in the white house about what their strategic communications needs are and some trump allies from the outside have been advising them that what they need to do is get ready for the midtermz, be able to have a mechanism to push out the good news ahead of 2018 especially on taxes which is something the president wants to tout more on the road. the advice has been don't just replace the communications director, get some more strategic manpower, some people to think in a forward looking way. the problem, though, is that even while they might want to do all of these things, it is hard to get people to want to work in the white house right now.
they are trying to find professional communications people to come into one of the most chaotic places in the world right now and it is very difficult. >> a lot of those practices professionals are already out in those midterm elections. >> the white house is talking about sending trump back into the western pennsylvania this weekend to campaign for the republican candidate in the special election out there. this will put the president's political chips on the line once again. but the more interesting thing, i think, this will give the president a chance to road test his new trade policies, his new tariffs and while the president believes that this is the right policy, he's absolutely convinced on the pliksz of this. he rejected house speaker ryan's border adjustment tax because it didn't have the snap. people understand what it means to slap tariffs on a foreign
country and that sounds like winning to this president, so this will give the president a chance to see if this message has more resonance in the heartland than it does inside the beltway. >> manu? >> the house intelligence committee russia investigation is sputtering to a conclusion. the republicans on that committee really don't see a reason to continue this investigation much longer. they believe they've come to a conclusion that there was no collusion between trump associates and the russia. the democrats say there have been a number of areas not yet investigated including trump's financial records, including issuing subpoenas for records involving jared kushner, donald trump jr.'s conversations that he said were off-limits because he said they were protected by attorney-client privilege. in this investigation been marred by leaks and charges from the republicans saying the democrats have leaked elements of hope hicks' testimony saying she had committed white lies.
they say that's the reason why this investigation should be shut down. democrats are saying devin nunes himself the republican chairman has leaked things like mark warner's text in a way to undercut him in the senate's investigation and we reported about how devin nunes apparently was accused of leaking a witness's testimony to another witness, something that that witness said was untoward. it really just shows that this investigation is coming to a very partisan and messy finish and no consensus about what exactly happened in 2016. >> it'll become high value in the academic world about how not to conduct a credible bipartisan investigation. mary catherine? >> an area of policy that the administration seems to have a more coheave siff approach and they're seeking for waivers and opioid abuse.
they don't allow you to have more 16 beds at a center. five governments have sought them and he's asking for more to do that. it'll be interesting to see that and on a personal note that is unfortunately universal, i lost a friend, a childhood friend to opioid addiction this week. his name was eli. his father who works in addiction and homelessness in my home state. the two of them traveled to d.c. for one of these meetings to tell their family store. it was eli's birthday. he was in recovery. it underscores how vulnerable people can be even with resources and a loving family. his funeral's today. so to eli rest in peace and to all my friends back home, wish i could be there and as we tackle this crisis maybe we can get some things done. >> amen. if there's one issue they could set aside the partisanship and do the lord's work, they should do it. republicans now have serious jitters heading into the final week of that special congressional election in
western pennsylvania. the former vice president joe biden will campaign for the democrat. president trump plans a weekend visit for the republican candidate. now on paper this should be a safe republican seat. the republican should have. the president won it by 20 points just 15 months ago but it's close to the end. heavy spending by republicans and their allies have not moved the numbers much. national gop leaders have been complaining about their candidate and about the pennsylvania republican party which tells you one thing, they're nervous. republican loss would send another giant signal about the 2018 midterm environment, what gop leaders worry about most, it could set off another wave of incumbent retirements. that's it for me. state of the union with jake tapper is next among his guest today, the white house trade adviser, peter navarro. he'll talk about those new tariffs and the trade war worries that come with them. have a great sunday.
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