tv Inside Politics CNN June 4, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
this is a mix of hydrochloric acid, steam and tiny bits of glass. but then if you look to the left side, ty, you can see the green stuff where the houses are. those are the houses where people live. they're threatened to be cut off but not necessarily in danger of lava. >> another new perspective of the threat there. thank you for joining me. "inside politics" with joh king starts right now. ♪ ♪ thank you and those images again, just wow. welcome to "inside politics." thank you for sharing your day with us. bizarre but bold power play. the president says he can pardon himself if he wants andhe top lawyer says the president cannot be prosecuted even if he shot the fbi director in public. it's all part of an effort to bully the special counsel. plus, the international outrage over new trump trade tariffs grows. a call with france's president
described as testy and terrible and canada says this is how the president treats his neighbor, then it will retaliate in kind. and bill clinton is trying to plug a new novel, but his latest effort to find a public role runs into an old issue with a new #metoo twist. >> nobody believes that i got out of that for free. i left the white house $16 million in debt. but you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this, and i bet you don't even know them. this was litigated 20 years ago, two thirds of the american people sided with me. >> back to that later, but we begin the hour with very important breaking news, supreme court victory for a colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same sex couple's wedding. the ruling, 7-2. the case was one of the most anticipated rulings of this term. held out as a potential landmark
test of the line when religious liberty competes with the question of discrimination and gay rights. but the high court in the end skirted that debate. instead, it decided the colorado case on more narrow grounds leaving the broader constitutional questions for another day or another case. let's go straight to cnn's supreme court reporter. break this down, what did the courthere? why is it important? >> reporter: this has always been the between lgbt rights and religious freedom claims. the baker refused to make the cake for the same sex couple for their wedding. they sued and the lower court ruled in their favor. but kennedy here reversed for a 7-2 court. he said the state violated the baker's religious freedom by showing hostility towards his religion but he kept to the specifics of this particular case. he pointed to an earlier hearing and he said that those commissioners said that phillip's beliefs amounted to
discrimination and he showed that those comments by the commissioners showed animus. so this is a win for phillips but not necessarily that big religious liberty case people thought would happen here todayn as we see it play out across the country, there seems to be surprise about justice kennedy e why? >> well, what kennedy is stle two sides of the jury ris prudence. he talked about lgbt rights and their dignity. in this opinion, he nodded to r look, the commissioners hostility was inconsistent with the first amendment's guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religiand he dsay, look, other cases are going to come down the pike. but those must wait further consideration. so for today, it's this narrow victory for the baker, 7-2. and more cases are likely to be
coming down the road to the supreme court. >> appreciate the quick reporting and insight ariane. here with me is a panel to discuss. so the court did not give us the big landmarkecisio everyone was waiting for in the in the political debate about this, which happens, we have franklin graham theonsee pastor, saying we thank god for answered prayer. today the supreme court has ruled in favor of jack phillips, the colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake. this is a huge win for religious freedom. ted cruz tweeting out the same thing. a hugey. it'sot that, though, is it? >> no. it's interesting -- >> it's important but it's not sweeping. >> people are going to fd what they want in this, not just for political purposes but probably for legal purposes as we go forward because justice kennedy laid down some principles from both sides. he spoke about tolerance of
religion and that was something he had brought up during the oral arguments back in the fall. and that has the religious dimension that he highlighted here, but he opened his statement from the bench this morning and his opinion with regard for the dignity of gay people and their ability to not be outcost. so i think just as your political folks are trying to find things on both side it's really not a huge victory for anyerson except for, of course, jack phillips the baker who lost in all the proceedings below, not just before the commission but before lower colorado courts. >> certainly a defeat for the colorado commission on human rights in the seniv rights that if you read the decision and if you read the transcripts of the hearing, you can understand the decision to a degree. the commission'sty is consistent with the first amendments guarantee our law bs applied in a manner that is neutral to decision he was entitled to a neutral decision maker as he sought to
assert. they're saying that the deck was stacked against him because the first arbiter, the commission was hostile. >> yeah. i think that's why it's not broad but it is important because these state commissions do have quite a bit of pow in these situations and they have been sent a warning essentially that, hey, open bigotry toward religious people will not be allowed for the purposes of extending tolerance sort of an ironic situation what was going on here, but that was what was happening. it was fairly clear in the record. in the future, you will not be able to be that clear in the record if you're making decisions based on people's religious disposition. >> can idd to that the court pointed to a couple statements that were made, but it also said nobody objected, nobody said, hey, that's out of line in the subsequent proceeding. so that's another message, you know, if you hear those kinds of things, speak up to preserve it. >> and you make the point that this is very narrow and this applies to this case and doesn't have broad, sweeping ramifications, but if you're a
ted cruz or franklin graham or anybody else out there who saw the supreme court ruling as a watershed moment, politically, culturally, legally across the board giving gay couples the right to legally marry, the focus immediatel religious freedom. and so it may be narrow, but didn't go the other way, which is huge for them. >> right. if you believe same sex marriage is wrong. >> yes. >> then you thought you were heading down a slope that you didn't like. >> precisely. >> which is interesting because we all look to the supreme court. it's the way it's billed to clear up these big, tough constitutional questions. what the court is saying here if you read the decision, essentially my take on it and read the quote in a minute, this is new to a lot of people. just a couple years ago we said same sex marriage is legal. you're all dealing this in different ways in your own state, colorado is different from texas different from here. let's let this percolate a little more is what the court seems to be saying. we must further elaborn on the courts. these disputes must be resolved
with tolerance without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs and when they seek goods and services in the open market. essentially the court is saying, we're goi to stays for now. we'll let the state courts deal with it but we hope it seems to me they're saying let's inals let this settle in a bit. >> it's kind of a remarkable decision, interesting decision back in the political context of what you how you started this conversation. we're in the trump era where sort of this free wheeling where anything goes, put anything out on twitter, throw anything up, see what icks. is a very careful, very deliberate decision, the first of its kind since the gay marriage ruling a few years ago and did see a little bit in the arguments back in neil gorsuch talked about sort of slippery slope, widening discrimination, possibility of wider -- allowing for future discrimination, breyer talked
about whether or not these vendors had shown the appropriate concern for religious views and we see that in the decision today a pretty strong decision but a very careful and narrow one. >> let me just say one thing about the descent, basically said you should have stepped up. this was a moment when you could have extd the principles of 2015 and said these people should be protected. so, i'm sure there will be plenty of civil rights groups saying lost opportunity. >> but i think on the other side of this, there is a position that's not that small a minority that says you can't discriminate against ople with sincerely held religious beliefs. that doesn't exist. that kind of intolerance doesn't matter. the only kind is to this one side the lbgt community and the court came down in a different way. >> that's your point about the court clearly saying let's take
a breath and let this settle in, it is directly related to the 2016 election because so much of what you heard and saw that trump tapped into with regard to politically incorr we' goin take our country back was in partomething that maybe even voters couldn't even articulate, but it was this sweeping cultural change in this country that many people in red states and that weren't in urban areas don't recognize. >> very important point on global economics the pace of change is so dramatic it understandably scares a lot of people. here is a statement just in the couple, the clients in the masterpiece cake shop case. today's decision means our fight against discrimination and unfair treatment will continue they say. we have always believed in an america you should not be turned away from a business open to the public because of who you are. we brought this case because no one should have to face the shame, embarrassment and humiliation of being told we don't yourind here that we faced. we'll fight until no one does.
the fight will continue. their personal fight will continue. the legal fight will continue and again to the point here of the court trying to strike the balance, you say the descenters say man up, forgive me. two women justi of the cou saying step forward on this one. our society has come to the recognition that g persons and gay couples cannot be treated as inferior innity and wort the laws and constitution can and in some cases mugs protect them in the exercise of civil rights but the court goes o to say at the same time the religious and philosophical objections to gay marage are protected views. and in some instances, protected forms of expression. so theourt is acknowledging both sides have a point here. and what the majority seems to be saying is we're n ready topl. we want you and different states perhaps to sort this out in your own way and when we get three or four cases we'll settle it. is that what they're doing? >> they're mainly saying in this case the facts really go against the commission. and so that's the main thing.
but -- >> the hostility allowed them an out if you will from dealing with the bigger question. >> right. and there are many coming forward. so watch this ace. >> watch this spacend we will do that and also keep watching the court as it winds down an interesting term. upnext, a novel legal theory for you, the president says hcomey in the street, in the pu a still not face indictment. hi, i'm joan lunden with a place for mom every day we hear from families who partnered with a senr living advisor from a place for mom to help find the perfect place for their mom or dad
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welcome back. we turn now to legal issues of a different sort, consider these eight words today from the president of the united states -- i have the absolute right to pardo myself. that's bold, brazen even. now add in these nine words also from the same president. the appointment of the special counsel is totally unconstitutional. that first assertion that the president can pardon himself is an open question. there are competing legal memos on that subject, but it has never been tested in the courts. the second, that the appointment
of the special counsel is unconstitutional hasn't been argued directly before a judge either. paul manafort has challenged the special counsel's legal authority on some questions and a federal judge here in washington has tossed those es . mr. manafort's lawyers challenge isobstructive. thepresident's lawyers can go to court. they haven't. at the moment this isn't about winning in court. today's tweet storm continuing a remarkable bullying campaign aimed at getting the special counsel to back off and aimed at swaying public opinion just in case the matter of robert mueller versus donald trump ends up before congress. president's getting help in advancing that "i'm above the law arment." rudy giuliani says a sitting president cannot indicted even if he picked up a gun and shot and fired an fbi director.
it is a remarkable argument the president is making, a remarkable argument rudy giuliani makes. here senator chuck grassley moments ago on cnn on this very question let's listen right here. chairman of the judiciary committee. >> if i were president of the united states and i had a lawyer that told me i could pardon myself, i think i would hire a new lawyer. >> chuck grassley unimpressed. >> i love this s walk. drop tmike. >> thanks for asking me that question. but we're laughing about it because chuck grassley's style. but the president of the united states at this moment, we have to stop sometimes. it's such a blur of developments. he's in a standoff with the special counsel. the special counsel saying if you't come in voluntarily, maybe i will test my power to subpoena you. i can pardon myself absolutely. then he goes on to say i didn't do anything wrong. why? why does the president want to do that at this moment? >> i saw a tweet about him saying he could pardon himself.
what i thought of is that this is a president, a man who you can't tell him what he can't do. i'm not so sure this is about his legal strategy or his legal case as much as it is about his own approach to the office and his own interpretation of his powers in that office. we have seen a number of times in stories we've a done you start reporting something and gets to the president and he turns around and does the opposite in order to stop that story. only to have that play out a couple weeks later. i think a large piece of that was him hearing people saying that he can't pardon himself. he wants to make sure he absolutely can. secondarily, this is part of the p.r. campaign against mueller and his team. i think this case will be studied a lot more thoroughly and for longer and marketing classes and communications classes rather than law schools when it comes to the president's legal strategy and how he's handing it. >> part of that strategy isagai
can't subpoena the president, you can't do that when rudy giuliani back in the bill clinton's days had a different opinion, absolutely the president must comply with the subpoena. leave that to you to decide. here is chris christie, saying sorry, mr. mayor, you're wrong. >> you can tell any time that rudy didn't agree with something, you'll have to ask john about that go back to john dowd. it's an outrageous claim. it's wrong. lawyers do that all the time even in court. >> i love that we have the chris christie as the rudy whisperer and rudy as the trump whisperer. you know, it's like a tower of babb babel. >> which babble? >> i think the idea is actualli. it's very transparent. it's very obvious. giuliani admitted this to me and to many others that this is a p.r. campaign, that this is a
political strategy, much, much, much more than a legal strategy to make sure that the court of public opinion which is at the end of the day if the president is in legal trouble they are going to be the ones to decide because they are the ones who elect the house of representatives and that is where an impeachment proceeding will start. that is wherehe president and his team want to make the biggest impact right now. they're very open about it and doing it in the most trumpian way possible. rudy giuliani was specifically asked about something like homicide which is why he responded saying regardless he could shoot james comey. that's something that trump would say. they're sticking in that kind of say outrageous vain. it's working for them. >> thecial counsel's office will not speak to these issues. they have been silent on its
issues. if you're trying to influence the jury, meaning public opinion, people watching at home, republicans who might have to cast a vote in congress if it comes to that they have the stage to themselves on that. rudy giuliani says my advice to the president is do not go and answer questions to the special counsel. here is one of his latest reasons why that's a bad idea. >> this is the reason you don't let the president testify. our recollection keeps changing or we're not asked a question and someone makes an assumption. in my case we made an assumption. we corrected it and got it out as soon as it happened. i think that's what happened here. >> our recollections keep changing. our recollections keep changing. meaning i don't trust my client? >> that's a euphemistic way of putting it. they can't get their story straight. >> they have repeatedly lied in
public, so the question is inquiry with the special counsel across the table, not a reporter, stake are different. >> you have to ask the broader question and robert mueller probably knows much more than all of us why it is the trump administration and the trump legal teams keeps throwing out all these statements that aren't true and evidence comes to light and they have to retract or change their statements. we saw that from the podium of the white house with sarah sanders saying the president did not dictate this statement. later it comes out in this memo from the legal team he dictated it wd for word and the white house never clarified it. it does beg the question why is this white house and why is this legal team making so many statements they have to come and clean up later. >> on that point, listen to kellyanne conway this morning. the subject comes up at least five times the white house denied dictated that le his o lawyers s yes he did dictate that. here is kellyanne conway. >> i wasn't on that trip. i wasn't involved with that whatsoever and i only know what i saw yesterday in that letter.
so i really can't comment on that. >> and another trump staffer because of the inconsistent statements by a lot of them saying i d want any more legal fees here. i wasn't on that trip. don't ask me about this again. >> yeah. they're caught red handed on this. look, if i were a lawyer for trump, my advice would be don't sit down with them because they are, a, they lie about things small, medium and big. b, even when they're not, he's not careful. he's not disciplined in what he says. even people who are careful, disciplined and truthful get caught up in false statements because they contradict themselves or their recollections do change because we're humans and that happens. the trump team is more likely to get caught up in that than almost anyone else. >> it's the unfortunate truth that a lot of times white house reporters have better sources than trump's own press shop. up next for us here, has america first turned into america alone?
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welcome back. the trump administration today brushing off international outrage, much of it from neighbors and long-time allies over new u.s. trade protections. the complaints about the new steel and aluminum tariffs were nonstop at a weekend summit of international finance ministers. here is just aing of the headlines of the g7 meeting, remember the meeting includes friends. >> this isn't the beginning of family squabble. the family has broken up and gone into separate rooms. >> sometimes that happens. sometimes families have disputes. >> do you have to break some eggs to make an omelet? absolutely. do you have to be tough with people in order to get them to change their behavior, absolutely. you can't ask other countries to treat us better and expect them to do it. that's not the way the world works. >> not the way the world works, according to mick mulvaney.
moments ago this reading from 10 downing street, tereheresa may saying she believes these tariffs are unjustified and deeply disappointing. we have reporting from our michelle in a phone call with emmanuel macron the president of france, that call described as test and tiserrible. the president is getting blow back, what will the impacts be. >> to be fair to the administration, we haven't seen a real -- we haven't seen the economy fall off the cliff like some economists have warned. that said, there are a lot of warning signs all around. the g7 over the weekend, members rarely rebuke each other, let alone the united states. you know, so that was a pretty extraordinary moment this past weekend. you know, mnuchin had said that the trade war is on hold. well, i don't think donald trump agrees with that or peter navarro and our closest allies
in the world clearly don't agree with that. >> the finance minister at the g7 meeting is coming up. are they letting off steam or will the president get it publicly? he's out there next week. >> he definitely will sort of be in the situation it's the g6 plus one. they have tried a strategy of appeasement with the united states even though the president was doing things they thought were a little off. >> with drawing from the tpp, questioning nato treaty commitments, withdrawing from the iran deal, now slapping tariffs on al lice. just wanted to make your point. >> yeah, exactly. all of these are situations where the president said, okay, i'll break these old agreements that past administrations have done and come to the table and i'm a deal maker and make a new agreement. we haven't seen that with tpp or the climate deal or the iran deal. we see these various leaders willing to push back. >> this is the 500th day of the trump presidency.
he reminded of us on twitter this morning. he said he was going to take the obama era and some other tradism -- where are the new ones? where are the new ones? >> you need partners to do that. he wanted to rip up all these deals and do bilate deals just the united states and singular countries as opposed to multilateral like nafta, for example or tpp. but to go back to your question about the meeting that's going to take place, g7. i remember when we were covering george w. bush and the allies were so upset he didn't want to meet with yasser arafat. i'm going to the meeting and be the skunk at the garden party. that was nothing how stinky a skunk this president will be at this g7 because it's not just sort of a diplomatic question, it's the economy. it's the economic engines of all of these countries. and maybe there's no economic impact in the united states yet, but there could be. i mean, when you have canada sounding as strident and as
tough as they are, which you don't usually hear from the canadians, it means something. >> you spoke to the canian foreign minister yesterday. let's listen to that. she says, you know, we're your neighbor. you should be nice. >> so, what you are saying to us and to all of your nato allies is that we somehow represent a national security threat to the united states.and i would just canada's american friends and there are so many, seriously? and so this is a really sad time for us. we are hurt and we are insulted. >> the tone, if you translate the tone, normally it's like mr. president, we think this is not necessary. let's talk our way through this. that's gone. that's gone. we are now in the seriously? in the pushback phase. >> that was canadian fire. >> exactly. >> no. it's always worth noting that trade and protectionism is the thing that the president more than anything else donald trump has been consistent on for the last 35 years probably.
and so it's not surprising that this happened but i think he has his facts wrong on a lot of this. i think it's economic ill literacy. making products more expensive including notably motorcycles and bourbon in the united states of america is going to hurt people. and it hurts businesses trying to plan for the future. you may not see it right now, but why drop this bomb on a gang busters economy? >> and why i'm going to add a new bomb in an environment where your allies are already mad at you. this is the new ambassador to germany. i absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout europe, other leader. i think there is a ground swell of conservative policies taking hold because of the failed policies of the left. he also praised austria's far right chancellor, which the german media, the country he now serves in took us in a front to chancellor merkel. ambassador's job is to represent his or her country overseas. it is not or at least has not been in the past a political organizing job where you go over and help like-minded people even
if that's against the governments you're working with? >> this is very unusual. very, very unusual, disruptive but hs representing a disrupter. he's representing the country but appoint the esident. and that is something that the president i'm sure is applauding from that white house residence. >> keep an eye on that one the next international conference it will be fun to watch. next up, democrats raise new questions about some of the epa administrator scott pruitt's purchases. we're in the business of helping you. business funding to help make a difference. another way we have your back. the powerful backing of american express. don't do business without it. are you one sneeze away from being voted out of the carpool? try zyrtec®. it's starts working hard at hour one. and works twice as hard when you take it again the next day. stick with zyrtec® and muddle no more®.
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kim jong-un replacing three top military officials, u.s. officials say they belie the decision may have been motivated by concerns the three were in position to take advantage of outside investment coming into north korea. their successors all appear to be younger kim loyalists. first lady melania trump expected to attend a white house event tonight for gold star families. it will be the first time she's done an event with the president since she underwent what her spokesman benign kidney surgery three weeks ago. mrs. trump will not travel to the g7 summit in canada. or to singapore. scott pruitt's top staffers told house oversight committee members she researched rental properties for pruitt. she was asked to inquire about purchasing for pruitt a used mattress from the trump international hotel. democrats say it's a violation. they're asking to subpoena records that they think will show pruitt misused his office by asking staff to run personal
errands. and today the president marked his 500th day in office with tweet number 3,495. we have accomplished a lot the president tweeted many believe more than any president in his first 500 days. he went on to out the the gop tax cut, lower crime, immigration policy and, quote, the best economy and jobs ever. so so much great has happened and that's why we're calling this the 500 days of greatness. the president himself will talk to grass root supporters later today. we have more opt schism and economy that's booming and more respect on the world stage. the last president was given the nobel peace prize. this president may actually earn it. >> all right, here on day 500, scott pruitt, how? just how does gravity not take hold here? >> it's because the president has not lost confidence in him. i had a source close to the president a month ago said don't
waste asking him about whether or not when pruitt was going to leave and what was going on inside the oval office. he told me, don't waste. he is not going anywhere. this source was wrong in the sense that scott pruitt made for a lot of good stories and lot of interesting ink in that month since then, but there is no sign from this president that prut is anywhere -- anything other than secure in his job. >> it makes you wonder what happened to drain the swamp. if you were to create a swamp creature out of thin air, this would be what you would create someone who is renting a $50 a day apartment from a lobbyist, spending all this taxpayer money on pens and first class flights and using sirens to zip through the town of washington to get to a high priced restaurant. it's very swampy and president trump doesn't seem to mind that in part because he's doing a lot of what president trump wants to do on the regulation front, but it does sort of make the whole drain the swamp era ring very hallow and you have michael cohen selling access and just
one other pinpoint in this whole idea that president trump came into washington to be a disrupter and to clean out the political class but he's done a lot of very political and a lot of actions that really point towards the type of swamp that he said he was going to drain. >> there's a lot of swamp. you're right about that. and proof there's a tweet for everything. you can get a new one, donald trump tweeting serta is setting records. they're phenomenal. you can order them serta.com. this is a six-year old tweet, you never know. when we come back, a story and a look from a former president which i'm all too familiar. are you a christian author with
said, quote, we are pleased with the ruling. the attorney general goes on to say in this case and others the department of justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom, first amendment rights of all ericans. now another story to bring you up to speed on george h.w. bush spokesperson said he was discharged from the hospital today after being treated for low blood pressure. former president is up in maine. former president bill clinton was on tv today trying to promote a new novel, but he turned defensive when his oval office history came up. defending his decision to fight not resign when the monica lewinsky affair became public and those who said he could not have survived if all that played out in today's #metoo movement the president says this. >> i think i did the right thing. i defended the constitution. this was litigated 20 years ago. two thirds of the american people sided with me. they were not insensitive to that. i had a sexual harassment policy
when i was governor in the '80s. i had two women chiefs of staff when i was governor. women were overrepresented in the attorney general's office in the '70s. for their percentage in the bar. i've had nothing but women leaders in my office since i left. >> monica lewinsky just moments ago tweeting this, grateful to the myriad people who helped me evolve and gain perspective in the last 20 years. lewinsky added a link to the vanity fair interview she did back in march that regenerated this conversation. to bill clinton's point about his record as governor and then as president, in appointing women to powerful influential women he is absolutely right. however, however, it seems him making that argument leading with that argument seems a little off, no? >> yeah. and that's -- that monica lewinsky tweet that you showed that she just sent is saying that without saying it. i have evolved over the last 20 years. where the heck are you?
and look, this is one of those things this far better than most about the fact that bill clinton was dealing with that scandal in a different era. and it has to be looked at if he's going to go out today through the lens of today. and he needs to be held accountable through the lens of today. >> that's the part that's hard for him to process. if he doesn't like the question he gives you the glare or says you don't know what you're talking about. he's good at it. if he wants a public role now and he does promoting a book or being on the campaign trail where we don't see a lot of invitations. if he wants that public role, he has to know he has to answer these questions. correct? >> right. and he should have a better answer although part of the problem in the context of now and the #metoo movement, his behavior with women over the years, there's not a great answer for it. in addition to monica lewinsky, others accused him of worse,
nonconsensual encounters are saying, hey, why doesn't somebody ask him about those which is a fair question as well in this day. and by the way, he has never figured out how to cov that anger effectively. as soon as that switch turns, you can see it all over. >> to that point, h asked in the nbc interview what about an apology to monica lewinsky. >> well, i felt terrible then. and i came to grips with it. >> but you didn't apologize to her. >> i have not talked to her. >> do you feel you owe her apolo apology? >> no. i never talked to her. but i did say publicly on more than one occasion that i was sorry. that's very different. the apology was public. >> and you dent think a private apology is owed? >> i think this thing is 20 years ago. come on. let's talk about jfk, let's talk about, you know, lbj. stop already. >> it was 20 years ago and
at's a combination of bill clinton's ras pi voice and allergies makes it hard to understand it was 20 years ago. again, this is the moment we live in. >> 20 years ago that's what he was well known foras his awareness of the political moment and his ability to connect with that political moment. what i thought was most surprising about that answer was that it showed a lack of awareness of the current political moment and until he can rectify that, i don't think we'll see a lot more of him out on the campaign trail or in public appearances with some of the democrats trying to make this an issue. >> he is scheduled to be part of some ceremonies marking the 50 year anniversary of assassination of jfk. two days of trade talks and nothing to show except a new warning from beijing. [phone ringing]
let's do an ad of a man eating free waffles at comfort inn. they taste like victory because he always gets the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed, when he books direct at choicehotels.com. or just say badda book, badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com. y. the president's friendship with china's leader facing big tests on several fronts and at a critical time. for starters, new trade talks.
the commerce secretary wilbur ross spent two days in beijing but has little to show for it. china will ditch to buy more american goods if the trump administration doesn't back down from its plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of chinese imports. the president's tweets in recent days ranged in quote being surprised about china's new threats saying their behavior is not acceptable and pronmising w can no longer win. trade is just one of the sore points. add in tough new words from the pentagon about china's ambitions in the south china sea and a state department call for more honesty from beijing about the massacre at tiananmen square. all coming just days before the north korean summit where if there's any progress or if there's setbacks the president is going to ask china to have his back in all this. i want to start with this, listen to secretary james mattis here again understanding the moment, secretary mattis refusing to bury his concerns about china's military actions in the south china sea.
>> china's militarization of artificial features in the south china sea includes the deployment of any ship missiles, surface to air missiles, electronic jammers and more recently the landing of bomber aircraft at woody islands. despite china's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapon systems isied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion. >> that's confrontational there, at least calling them out. mike pompeo, the 29th anniversary of tiananmen square, the secretary of state saying we urge the chinese government to make a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing. to release those who have been jailed striving to keep the memory of tiananmen square alive. what happened to chocolate cake? >> pompeo is saying we join unity that's something that this administration has had trouble doing. they're getting ready to go to
the g7, this would be a perfect time to get all the g7 countries together on a china policy, but instead they're fighting over trade and tariffs and china is taking advantage of that, this unity to take action in the south china sea and move forward its own agenda. >> you have two cabinet secretaries who decided i know the president wants to have this friendship, but i need to tell the truth and speak my mind. >> this is as complicated a relationship as it gets, it really is. the fact you have the defense secretary over there saying this is dangerous the way that they are building in the south china sea militarily, we can hold our tongue tells you a lot about the fact that china might be necessary in places like north korea, necessary economically, but they do some bad stuff around the world and in their own country. >> a minute ago you asked about what happened with the chocolate cake. i think what happened with the chocolate cake is it is getting eaton in north korea. our sources around the white house is saying everything right now is revolving around this north korean summit. you can trace increased rhetoric
from the white house against china back to where the president made comments that he was upset that president xi was meeting with kim jong-un. this summit and the president's desire to have it is affecting his decisions on trade, affecting his decisions on approach to china, too. >>ling it as it is not just as you see it, congrats to the secretaries there. wolf blitzer starts right now. ♪ hello i'm wolf blitzer it's 1:00 p.m. in washington. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. president trump calling the appointment of the special counsel unconstitutional and insisting he has the absolute right to pardon himself. what prompted those tweets today? just how far do his presidential powers go? former president bill clinton get heated in a new interview when asked about the monica lewinsky scandal. he says he doesn't owe her a personal apology. you'll hear why. and some america's closest