tv Inside Politics CNN April 8, 2018 5:00am-6:00am PDT
america. this whole presidency is a four-year cash grab and admitting that will probably get me four more years. i do not care about any of you. does that basically answer all of your questions? okay. u.s./china tensions rock wall street and trump country but the white house says not to worry. >> we are not running a trade war. nothing has happened. nothing has been executed. major moves by the russia special counsel and new information about the president's legal jeopardy. >> i think he should sit down with special counsel mueller. if you did not rob the bank there is no reason for you not to talk about the bank robbery. >> reporter: and a week of surprises including from troops
across the border. >> "inside politics." the biggest story, source and best reporters now. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your sunday. an alleged chemical weapons atrocity in syria poses a new test for president trump. a year ago he responded with a barrage of cruise missiles. this time the president makes clear he wants to end the u.s. military role in syria. if they leave syria now isis will come back like they did when we left iraq, how much money has the world spent, the united states spent due to the withdrawal from iraq. if you are looking at this from
dollars and cents it will cost a thousand time more to leave and let isis come back than it will to hold the territory once we destroy them. >> china trade disrupting financial markets and surprising at times some of his own top aides. >> we will have our wall. we will get it very strongly. the military will be building some of it. we will have very strong borders. we have to change our laws and we are working on doing that. >> cnn is told the president is preparing for a possible interview with the russia special counsel as we learn more and to crack down on vladimir putin's inner circle. >> i wouldn't allow him to speak for his sake and the sake of the office of the presidency. this is a rogue prosecutor who is investigating nothing. there is no underlying crime. >> if i were mr. trump i would say i didn't do anything wrong and that is why i'm not talking to you.
>> with us this sunday to share reporting and insights. the shock first, write policy second approach can be messy. as we saw this week on immigration. the president teased the big announcement about the border and the president had to scramble what he might have meant. exactly what they will do is still in a flux. then there is china trade and larry kudlow's interesting first week. a first round of tough new tariff talk. kudlow calmed them by noting nothing takes effect for months and predicting washington and beijing could talk this out. then the president threatened additional $100 billion in tariffs on chinese goods. that drop is how the stock futures market took the surprise
news from the president. business groups nervous. the president says getting tough with china is long overdue and worth any short term price. >> we have already lost a trade war. we don't have a trade war. i'm not saying there won't be a little pain but the market has gone up 40%. we might lose a little bit of it. we are going to have a much stronger country when we are finished. >> the third piece of what we saw this past week about the president going with his impulses and reflexes sometimes over the advice of his advisers. with the president very publically said it is time to get out. then he told his military advisers you can stay for now but i want a plan to get out. how does the morning news today, "new york times" doesn't suffocate in syria as possible syria accused of another chemical attack. it was a year ago president trump responded to a chemical
weapons attack. it was an interesting moment with a barrage of missiles. what now? >> he has responded differently at different times based on different people he has talked to. his advisers have been pushing towards more engagement as his impulse seems to be less until it is more. his stance is this mix of he says i'm the most militariestic person. on the other hand he wants to get us out of these conflict zones. so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to this news and which sort of side of trump wins out. >> and the state department says and the administration official i texted with says we need more information and verify what happened. the british government has criticized the syrian government. they have been on cnn. it's horrific. children needing desperate
medical attention. the interesting question for the president he is tweeting about a fox news report about hillary clinton and attacking the "washington post." it was fascinating moment a year ago when the president does have those america first instincts. it was a personal moment when the president reacted a year ago. >> a chemical attack that was so horrific in syria against innocent people including women, small children and even beautiful little babies, their deaths was an affront to humanity. these heinous actions by the assad regime cannot be tolerated. >> do those words and the result that came from them, did the president draw a line that he is
now going to have to think about as he responds to this one? >> what preceded the president's words a year ago was the same thing that we saw today which was videos and images of dead children. and it's something we have seen consistently with this president. i think there is a tension between trump, trump's sort of isolationist instincts and also his desire to respond forcefully and his message that america will be strong and won't take guff from various countries around the world. what we have seen in recent weeks is trump is aware that the sort of military campaign is over in syria and hearing from military advisers that we have moved to a stabilization phase. he seems not to want to do that. i think these images are likely to help his advisers convince him that america is needed. i wouldn't be surprised if there
is military response. >> remember how he actually got bipartisan praise last year when he did move forward with those attacks, democrats and hawkish republican establishment types were aligned in supporting what he did here. if he were to pull back particularly in light of the new news and new images the criticism would be rather fierce. you have to think that is part of one of the things the president is weighing what to do and how not just his people outside the administration will react but also some people inside the administration as we know the pentagon is not quite clear what the president means. >> i say this all the time. being president is a lot harder than running for president. he repeatedly president trump mocked president obama for not enforcing the red line in syria. was his reaction a year ago his own red line? >> i don't know that it was his own red line. i think it was a visceral reaction to photos he had been
shown and people around him saying if you don't do anything here this is going to happen again. i don't think there is a not a traditional foreign policy orthodoxy with this president. he kind of responds in the moment. i think to your point that being president is harder than campaign we are seeing that on a number of issues with this president. he is trying to build a border wall and get the military to do it, not getting mexico to do it like he wanted. repealing health care unable to do that. trade and china a new war. at first he said this is going to be easy and hasn't been easy for him. >> you alluded to this. trump sees a chance to differentiate himself from president obama and he says repeatedly that president obama did nothing on this. he didn't enforce his red line. i think we will hear from president trump if he does respond that he is responding
and obama did nothing. >> that is much of the same argument on the china question where the president says not just obama, george w. bush, they did nothing. china cheats on the world markets. china is not a fair actor when it comes to intellectual property. is the way the president is doing this by announcing tariffs which disrupts the markets and has a lot of people in trump country nervous. and then larry kudlow says don't worry. this doesn't take effect for months. here is larry kudlow's take on saying this is not president trump's fault. >> blame china. don't blame the administration. blame china. they have to put their best foot forward and act like a world power. >> so what are we seeing here? does the president think this will get beijing to the table? is the president trying to please his base no matter what
happens? >> i think this is the way donald trump understands the economy. he believes the way you fix the trade deficit is to put tariffs on and make them respond. there is a lot of people around him who don't subscribe to that theory. you heard trump say the stock markets will drop and then markets will see this is working and stabilize. all of those who doubt this strategy will come back once they see it is working and will be brought back to the table. we'll see if that happens. in the meantime you have this odd dance going on where the white house is trying to yell at china, we are putting tariffs on you whereas larry kudlow is whispering to the market we are not really doing it. the chinese can hear what larry kudlow is saying and markets can hear what the white house is saying. the trade war hasn't started yet but nobody knows if the threat
is real. >> the president going back to his impulse, his 2016 play book on the border saying i'm going to have a big announcement. and then we get the announcement and we don't know exactly what it means. the national guard will be deployed in some fashion along the border. will they be fixing vehicles or building a wall. what is the point? the president tweeted out we are sealing up our southern border. people want safety and security. dems have been a disaster on this important issue. is this -- they only allocated so much money for the wall. the national guard can't build a wall. what shower goal here? >> there are mixed messages again. he constantly touts illegal immigration going down substantially since he has come into office so why the urgency now? there has been some money appropriated in the last ominous
bill to help fund construction of the wall but not nearly enough to build what he promised he would do along the campaign trail. it is unclear what he wants. >> i think that trump is hearing some wrestlessness from his base about why he hasn't moved on immigration. >> why did he sign the spending bill? >> we heard it has been well documented that he was surprised to hear on fox news which their hosts serve as informal advisory that they were negative and got criticism for signing this spending bill without concessions on immigration. i think he is coming out and going back to his message on building a border wall. >> they are not going to do anything about it. it will be months before they have leverage. in the meantime he can ratchet up the rhetoric. >> the president continues to
tweet as he does on sunday mornings. he is tweeting on china. he has not tweeted about syria. interesting to see how the president reacts to the alleged chemical attack. announcing he and president xi of china will always be friends. presidential practice for possible q&a with the russia special counsel and tough times for oligarchs president putin calls friends. make this quick because i have a lot of trade wars to escalate here. i just announced tariffs on more chinese products including fireworks and finger traps. we have expelled the infamous chinese billionaire p.f. chang.
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russianole garussian o oligarchs for information. his conduct remains the subject of investigation. and with that in mind add this. cnn is told the president is taking time to begin practice sessions in case he decides to sit down with an official interview. that is still a big if and the subject of a big debate. >> i do think he should sit down with special counsel mueller. i think he is uniquely well positioned to answer questions that not just special counsel but the american people have. >> i think it is very dangerous for the president to do so. i think mr. dowd who i read advised against this was correct. i think it is a bad idea. >> the big question before us is will the president agree to do this? the fact that he has started to have conversations sit down with what would he ask and how would i answer tells you he is still inclined to do it.
will inclined to do it get him in the room and in the chair? >> the president said he wants to do this interview. his lawyers advised it is not a good idea. we can do written questions and maybe agree to certain parts of it. the president thinks he can convince him he has done nothing wrong. what we have seen play out is a number of lawyers even the ones who don't agree they have all had reservations about the interview. they think the president could purge himself. whether the president goes with his own instincts may play out a pretty pivotal stage. >> we know from seeing what the special counsel is looking into he has a lot of information that the president doesn't know about. there is this investigation when you look at the memo that came
out last week there was a whole page of redacted material about what exactly mueller has been authorized to investigate. so he has a lot of information. of course, the president's team wants to know what they will ask. what if they are armed with information and ask him something that he is not prepared to answer and answer something that is contrary to the facts that they have gathered? >> there have been tweets from the president talking about something else mostly about the clinton investigation but attacking the justice department and fbi i suspect in part. his deputy attorney general authorizing mueller. all that redacted what is behind the black in that memo. he said there are plenty of instances where a guy walks into grand jury and is told you are a target. that is the point that josh was making in the sense that it is just a fact that this president has a casual relationship with the facts and the truth at
times. he thinks he did nothing wrong. you put him in that chair they have every last minute of every last meeting. it is risky. >> this all comes in the context of the president's shrinking legal team. he still has not after one false start replaced john dowd since he left. so the advice that he is getting is somewhat limited in that regard. and then on top of that you have the push and pull over the interview. he may not end up having a choice. and then there is this news this week about the subject versus target thing. you did have a lot of people, a lot of trump's supporters saying this was a victory for him, this was a good thing saying it means he is not a target. if he interprets it that way that may emboldin him to want to do the interview. >> so much we don't know.
it is fascinating when there are court filings. most of it blacked out. investigate paul manafort for possible collusion. how have you spent your money in the united states? where do we see the investigation going as we learn the new things? >> i still don't think we know. what is clear is that mueller has taken a liberal view of what his purview is and what he is investigating and he is casting a very, very wide net. so i think for trump considering whether he is going to go and sit down it would clearly behoove him to narrow the topics about what he wants to discuss because mueller would clearly want to talk with him about the widest array of things possible. >> possibly even in business
practices, too. we know that not just subpoenaing for records but also interviewing others. >> if you agree to discuss a, b and c and you wander off to d, f and g. i want to sneak this in before break. the president has been incredibly quiet about stormy daniels. president was asked about what did you know about the payment your lawyer made to stormy daniels, the porn actress, just before the election? >> did you know about the payment to stormy daniels? >> he passes the buck back to
michael cohen. he had to know when he came back on air force one that was likely to be asked of him. which tells me he knew he would have to say something. >> this is not a man who knows the word no comment. this is consistent with the line that cohen has taken. this is something cohen did on his own. trump had no knowledge of it. that is the argument consistently made. whether or not you find it believable trump has been disciplined on this issue. even in live comments there the first time he directly commented he still stuck to the line of really not wandering off into insults. >> he has done that once or twice before. the chief of staff thinks the epa administrator should be fired. rush limbaugh thinks the epa administrator is awesome.
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we know the president is not a fan of bad headlines or bad optics so logic says scott pruitt should be in trouble. asking the motorcade driver to flash the lights and cheat traffic so he can get to a restaurant. this saturday tweet from a president while security spending was somewhat lower scott pruitt received death threats while saving usa billions of dollars. scott a doing a great job. that embrace more interesting because we know from sources that john kelly thinks pruitt should be fired for that growing list of ethics and judgment lapses. the president is rejecting that advice in part because pruitt
gets raves from the right. >> scott pruitt is himself unraveling a whole lot of regulations that obama's epa implemented. >> he is basically just taking a knife and whacking things from the epa that were implemented during the eight years of obama and he has become outside of trump the single biggest target. i hope scott pruitt hangs in. bottom line. >> we know where russia is. we have seen letters from conservatives to the white house and newspapers. is that it? is the policy progress in the president's view. from the president's standpoint implementing the agenda does that outweight what normally effects this president, bad news, bad headlines? >> you see this guy is doing
what you wanted in epa, a lot of senators on the right and groups on the right. unlike other secretary and cabinet officials and top aides before they were fired you see the defense of scott pruitt. the president watches this. our reporting indicates several times this week he said to folks this guy likes scott. i heard from this person. he likes the administrator. so i think for the president you have his tendencies and days of bad headlines, he has gotten rid of several folks who he didn't like that much anyway. for scott pruitt who he seems to like he is more willing to take some of these optical issues that are kind of a swamp. >> the question is what is the shelf life on that in the sense that we know the white house says it is looking at condo rent deal and other issues. we know the chief of staff thinks scott pruitt should go.
the saturday tweet the president spoke on air force one saying i heard good things about does it outweigh the history of other people who the president has said is a good man? >> michael flynn is a wonderful man. >> reince priebus a good man. i like him. he is a good man. we will see what happens with mr. bannon. he is a beperson. rex is a good man. i like rex a lot. >> so if you are scott pruitt and thinking president just tweeted i'm good to go, are you good to go? >> the good man thing is trump's bless his heart. he went beyond that when he took on the actual details of a scandal. that is why scott pruitt can take so much heart from the tweet. he is not just saying despite bad actions he is doing a good job in the epa. he is saying i don't think the
scandal is a big deal. i think the scandal is nothing. so we still don't know, one should never predict what trump is going to do. he can always wake up in a different mood and fire someone in a tweet. at the moment i think scott pruitt's stock has risen since last week when this was really starting to bubble up and there were rumors that he was on the rocks. i think the fact that john kelly is pushing to fire scott pruitt has helped. the previous people who left the white house, steve bannon -- not steve bannon but reince priebus, rex tillerson, h.r. mcmaster, those three white house aides were pushing trump to keep them on so he fired them. >> that one will be more shoes to drop to involving pruitt, people investigating his past
behavior and when the epa cleared them and said there was no issue with the rental. now we have learned that they do not have the full information for them. what is going to be the judgment that epa's ethics says on this issue? but one other point i think going back to what we said earlier about how trump feels is upset about signing the bill because of the pushback from the right. >> i loved your reporting about the condo owner owned by energy lobbiests. it's a fair question. did they change the code on the locks because it was time for them to go. to this point you brought up the influence of john kelly. supposed to be the adult, somebody trump treats and respects.
the president is attacking on twitter and washington post. damn good reporting the president is attacking it about kelly. he has not been fully consulted and he has lost the trust and support of some of the staff as well as angered first lady melania trump. that aid was dismissed after he couldn't get permanent security clearance because of some personal conduct issues. to kelly's standing you see in various reporting he threatened to quit again. what does that tell us about the president and the power structure? >> john kelly is in a declining arc. for a while he brought meetings down to smaller size. he really -- steve bannon, others seen as disruptive thinkers. the president is chafing at
kelly's descriptions and kelly has been chafing at the president's whims and willingness to fire people on twitter and policy shifts and not going through processes on tariffs. as we reported today the president has complained about kelly. kelly threatened to quit several times once over rex tillerson. this is a situation that was never going to be a perfect marriage because you have a disciplined military man in john kelly. you have a president who does basically what he wants when he feels like it. when he came in wanting to put controls on donald trump. one of the campaign aides said this won't last very long and they were correct. >> something else to keep an eye on. something else that does do a quick update. president trump we are told by his homeland security adviser says the president has been briefed. we will keep you posted on whether the president says anything. up next republicans see a big
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the script and trusts political interests. others worry the 2016 play book is not the best plan for them in 2018. in wisconsin a big liberal win in the state supreme court race brought this from scott walker. tonight's results show we are at risk of a blue wave in wisconsin. while back home in kentucky this from the senate majority leader this is going to be a challenging election year. we know the wind will be in our face. we don't know whether it is category three, four or five. i'm hoping mitch mcconnell said. he throws out the script. he is loose. republicans watching from other places where the president's base is not so strong see that guy and get worried because they wanted to talk the economies up. tax cuts are good. a lot of them don't want to be stirring up immigration talk.
>> think about the substance of those remarks. trump was supposed to be talking about tax reform. that was the boring script in front of them because that is what the republican establishment wants to be hammering. they feel like the only way to use the policy achievement as an election platform is if the president is talking about it constantly. they need to be reinforcing the message to bring back republican voters who so far in special elections have seemed inclined to stay home. trump throws it out. he says tax reform is boring. i want to talk about immigration. that is the red meat for his base but it probably is not according to the republicans who are somewhere between panicked and resigned at this point particularly in the house, they would prefer that he stick to the script. >> in west virginia one of the most at risk democratic senate seats joe mansion could pursue
an aggressive attack line against them instead making points on immigration and saying things that completely distract from the message like millions of voters voting illegally without offering evidence to back up the claim becomes the new story. it really under scores trump's risk for republicans and reward for him. they need him to come to energize the base because this is going to be a base election ultimately and republican voters are disspiritted. he does the rallies. >> i want to have a little bit of fun in the sense that republican primaries you don't want to be against president trump. look at the senate race. we will show you an ad and then talk about why. >> he plotted with the never trumpers to steal the nomination from president trump. you have to be kidding me.
i will proudly stand with our president and mike pence to drain the swamp. >> he puts the trump hat on called donald trump vulgar and criticized his candidacy and is now like i'm mr. trump. >> especially in a primary how significant it is. we talk to republicans with one thing you often hear what their base says is do you stand with the president? a lot of voters, republican voters want to hear. >> here is why democrats are so happy at the moment. republicans say can they keep going? democrats look at the number of women running for office. 309 women in the two major parties filed for house seats. a lot more democrats than
republicans. democrats think that this, the quality of their candidates especially getting women candidates in the middle will help. early on results suggest they have a chance. >> i hear that the president will turn off a lot of moderate voters and folks who only came in to vote for him while energizing his opponents in the resistance movement. i think you have seen a lot of that. we had a poll that looked at uptick in activism, one in five americans protesting rallies because of the president. the president could alien ate some republicans while driving folks on the left is potentially damaging. >> we start to get to busier primaries and learn a lot more about the landscape. our reporters share their note books including what is expected now that the new national
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ash our great reporter to share a little. >> i'm watching the three nominations that president trump sent up to the senate for cia director, secretary of state and secretary of veterans affairs. republicans in the senate are annoyed and fatigued at having to push these through. democrats have a real opportunity to energize their base by opposing these. i'm looking at which one they will try to oppose. i think that one of these has a real chance at failing. >> interesting weeks ahead. >> speaking of nominations mike
pompeo already in trouble in senate foreign relations committee. a one vote advantage for republicans on that committee. two democrats who voted for him for cia director confirmed by a 66-32 vote. they both sit on the foreign relations committee. the state department, secretary versus being cia director, much different positions. questions about when or not they will support him going forward. that is why this is so critical. we'll see if any democrats decide to jump ship because otherwise he could be in trouble on the floor. >> josh -- >> i'm looking at the beginnings of the tenure. you have seen a whole reshuffling of the president's team. and you have john bolten coming in with a more hawkish view.
you have north korea talks that the president wants to do and someone with a different idea on many fronts, someone the president seems to have charisma with. i think it will be interesting to watch. >> interesting i think is a polite word. >> i have been following the teacher strikes that have been happening previously this year in west virginia going on in kentucky, oklahoma and arizona could be next. we talk a lot about the house and senate. there are 36 gubernatorial elections this november. majority of them republican held. these teachers surprising even the teachers unions by demanding better pay and democrats are looking at this thinking this could be part of the wave of activism that they expect to power any success that they have particularly this is about women. the teachers are mostly women. it effects moms. a lot of teachers are running
for office. to the extent that this feeds the wave driven by women voters could -- >> the republican senator john mccain is home receiving treatment for brain cancer. his staff no long er speaks of time table for his return. mccain told several friends i'm not going anywhere. he is said to be in good spirits working on building his strength and determined to return to work. we certainly hope that turns out to be the case. that's it for "inside politics." "state of the union with jake tapper" is next to talk about
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