tv Inside Politics CNN January 24, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PST
thanks for joining me today. quite a roller coaster as it always is. > "inside politics" with john king starts right now. thank you, kate, and welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us. big senate votes this afternoon on competing plans to end the government shutdown, both almost certain to fail. the question is will the next step be a serious effort to negotiate? plus the president blinks and backs down in a state of the union confrontation with speaker nancy pelosi. is it because his poll numbers are tanking or is there some other white house calculation? joe biden is back in the arena. no clues on his 2020 decision but gaffe and his bipartisan
stin instinc instincts. >> nobody doubts that i mean what i say, the problem is i often say what i mean. nobody has accused me of being coy. i read in the "new york times" that one of my problems is if i were to ever run for president, i like republicans. bless me, father, for i have sinned. >> back to politics in a moment, but we begin with a big and important new marker from the senate intelligence committee. a source close to the former trump attorney michael cohen telling cnn the intelligence committee has now subpoenaed cohen to appear in mid-february and to testify about what he knows about the president. the questions no doubt will include this: what did the president say to you, if anything, when you discussed your testimony to congress, and what you knew in that testimony to be lies? cohen just canceled on the house oversight committee, pulling out of testimony. he talked about unspecified threats to his family.
the senate intelligence subpoena doesn't change cohen's security concerns, so it remains clear now how he will respond. with me to share their reporting and insights, cnn's karen scovell, cnn's phil mattingly. the intelligence committee says you're going to see us, michael cohen backs outs. what do they hope to hear from michael cohen? >> that's the committee cohen lied to, so they have a vested interest in him coming back and they want to ask him what you said, why did he lie, what else is there to say? we've seen cohen back away from the house testimony saying -- in terms of what he could talk about saying he couldn't talk about some of the things he pleaded guilty to, including both the lies, and also the crimes he pled guilty to in new york including the campaign violations. so we've seen cohen's team say he can't talk about those things. it sounded like he wanted to come in and talk about anecdotes
of working for trump for a decade, and now he's coming back on that. we know the democrats were interested in that, but it also opens michael cohen up to a lot of personal scrutiny, and that gets to where these threats were. donald trump mentioning his father-in-law, his wife. when cohen pleaded guilty, people close to cohen told us and we know from other sources that the prosecutors were prepared to add charges that could have implicated his wife. so cohen really wants to protect his family and testifying would likely open the door from republicans about that. >> they normally operate behind closed doors. if that was the plan here, would that make a difference in michael cohen's ability to say, hey, wait a minute, i have security concerns, or wait a minute, i can't talk about certain things because bob mueller is still investigating? >> it could. we don't know if it would be an open or closed hearing, but counterparts in the house were run by republicans up until a couple weeks ago, i guess, but
the intelligence committee on the senate side has been a bipartisan investigation, for the most part. the chairman and vice chairman have gotten along very well. they've shared information. they made it clear they wanted a serious investigation, not one driven bipartisan lines, so i would assume they want this to be behind closed doors because their issue is not about working in the trump organization, they're worried about what did you lie about. their intentions, i think, are different than what the house is looking to do, and i think their procedure in the last year and a half has shown they operate in a different manner, in a way that could address some of those concerns, but as karen pointed out, those concerns are very real. >> he canceled with the oversight committee, or at least postponed. the house committee chairman, now a democrat, so the world has changed. you mentioned the republican-led investigations. adam schiff says, we want to talk to michael cohen, too.
>> i've made it clear to mr. cohen and his counsel that he'll come back before the intelligence committee. he came before our committee before, he did not tell the truth. we want to hear what the truth is, so he's coming back before our committee. voluntarily, we hope, but we are prepared to subpoena him to come back if that's necessary, and we're going to be doing that fairly soon. >> three committees. some people would say, is that excessive? is there that much new material to be gleaned from michael cohen, or do the democrats have authority now and they have a guy who turned on trump who will say things critical of trump and they think this is just a political opening? is this substance for michael cohen or politics? >> it depends on the committee. if you're looking at the house committees now run by democrats, you can bet it's going to be a little bit more politics. the fact they wanted him to com working for donald trump tells you they're not going to get to the heart of the matter with the
russian investigation. they do have every right to call him back if he did lie to them, try to get a better understanding of who he lied to. i'm sure they would have questions for him if it was behind closed doors about whether or not he interaenteint with the president at all. on the intel side, they've been a lot more careful, a lot more cautious and a lot more quiet about what's going on behind the scenes. >> rudy giuliani representing the president on television several times suggests that there is some stuff they know about michael cohen and what mr. cohen has said, he feels his family is threatened. listening to lonny davis. he says this is the president, in lonny davis' view, trying to intimidate the witness. >> a legislation of censure when
the president of the united states intimidates and obstructs justice to prevent a witness from testifying. so is rudy giuliani for witness tampering calling out a man's father-in-law and wife in order to intimidate the witness is not fair game. >> i'm going to go out on a limb and say those things aren't going to happen. but you now have this public debate. the president would say, i'm just challenging michael cohen, i think he's a liar. rudy giuliani would say the president has every right to defend himself. is there a legal case to be made, that this is witness intimidation? >> i think it really is going to depend on what else the prosecutors might know around this. were there any other conversations that are not taking place in the public, on twitter or in tv interviews where there are other messages that are being sent. if there are any threats that the family has received as a result of the president speaking. we've seen this before, where the president speaks, and then people in the public, and then
the pipe bomber takes it as some kind of guidance and acts on it. so we don't know if there are real threats to michael cohen or whether he's feeling intimidated. whether this is enough to say that the president is engaged in witness tampering or obstruction, i think, is probably a tough call. it would be a stretch. i think they would need to see a little bit more beyond that. rudy giuliani was kind of laying s grou the groundwork that if any of this is true, that would lay the groundwork. >> michael cohen says he doesn't want to get questioned because he's afraid he'll be asked other questions he doesn't want to answer. >> he's only been threatened by the truth, and he doesn't want to do that probably for me or for other of his clients. he has other clients also, i assume, and he doesn't want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.
>> let's remember it is because of michael cohen that we know the president's story during 2016 about hush money payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdougal was not true. the president was involved, he knew about it, despite months of saying he knew nothing about it. we also heard from michael cohen. he said the moscow talk went way beyond 2017 and they said, no, we stopped in january. so michael cohen has proven to be a very valuable witness in the case against trump. >> that's true, but he's not entirely wrong with saying michael michael cohen was not truthful. he was willinot willing to shar every deed that went against the law because he was afraid it
might implicate family members. president trump has a point saying he has a problem telling the whole truth, but michael cohen doesn't seem to have any problem telling the truth when it comes to donald trump. >> the legal adviser to michael cohen we just talked about, lanny davis, was on cnn moments ago and was asked will michael cohen testify? >> first of all, will he appear before the senate? he's been subpoenaed, we were told. >> mr. cummings greatly respects his invitation for mr. cohen to appear voluntarily. >> it sounds like if he has a subpoena, he will testify. that's the senate committee and then he went on to talk about mr. comey. the lawyers have to have conversations, but it appears
that michael cohen will come once. >> since he was there, it wouldn't be too far a bridge to cross. it's a serious committee and i would be willing to guess and bet that they would do a lot to try and make sure that his concerns are assuaged to some degree. i would note one other thing. the chairman of these committees, particularly on the house side, issued a brush-statement to the president on the intimidation idea. what lanny davis was laying out, i have no idea if there's a legal case there, probably not, but pay attention to that. while it's a statement and a statement doesn't have teeth, these chairmen do have teeth and they do have subpoena power. what they're saying is don't just lay off because we think you should lay off, but they're saying, lay off, because we
can -- their criminal and see the investigators might cause major problems with the white house. >> here's the democratic statement you mentioned. efforts to intimidate witnesses and testifying before congress is textbook mob tactics. this is ally. this is kevin mccarthy who is the top house republican. he told manu rauj a just moments ago, quote, i don't know any time trump threatened this individual. know why m arhe's going to jaild kevin mccarthy says, apparently i'm living in a cave. i haven't seen that. the president has said there's stuff about his father-in-law, and we know in the investigation
to michael cohen -- you make a key point. michael cohen's personal financial dealings. he's also asked about his relationship with the -- there are questions about his father-in-law's business. >> that's right, he said he got into the business because of his father-in-law, he bought his first medallion from him. we know that the search warrant for michael cohen's apartment, total room fr, was looking for e of his medallion work. his wife's name was on a few things, and it doesn't mean she knew what was going on, but skpchlt finning on to that, you make some potential liability for yourself f. michael cop l--
that was huge for michael cohen to have a threat to his family members, and he wasn't going to do that. he cut the deal he cut, and then he was hoping to speak to robert mueller. >> i want to add another example in the russian investigation that we could not make up if we tried. a russian pop star followed along whose billionaire father had ties to putin, and now, in the june? he worries robert mueller will recall. a new interview quote, at this point on monday, i received information from my lawyer that if i do arrive, he can't guarantee the safety of my
departure. there is no question that the kremlin ties came in, ostensibly to get dirt on hillary clinton. . more than half a dozen people at the narpt if. he's let them go. no one was being held in custody, but mueller's team has been trying to interview him for over a year. he's not within the u.s. jurisdiction, so this was one opportunity when mnm would be coming here on a concert tour. they said they would just keep him as long as they wanted to question him. that could be all these congressional committees we're talking about, and that also left them with uncertainty. they did not have all the
documents, and then it turns out they didn't turn over all the documents and that could be an obstruction charge. so mueller is saying, we'll have to wait. hope we can get refunds on our tickets. this is just something they're not able to take on this legal exposu exposure. >> you start to get a little dizzy with it all, but michael cohen is a significant witness how that meeting came about, who pushed it and why. fascinating story. a lot of moving parts today. up next, two bills to move the shutdown. hard-line voters not too pleased about it. >> do you think the shutdown is worth the wall? >> no, i do not. i think it's a waste of time and money, and it's caused way more problems than it's helping anything. >> it's definitely not worth a wall for the government to be completely shut down for this.
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welcome back to, yes, looming failure on the senate floor. in a couple hours the senate will consider two opposing bills designed to end the partial government shutdown. today's procedural votes marking the first floor votes on anything in the senate to adjust the shutdown since it began 34 days ago. both bills need 64 votes to pass, meaning neither likely to get there. the republicans' includes $5.7 billion for the border wall. a bill that would temporarily reopen the government without wall money by the democrats. who is expected to cross party lines? we know two republican senators, cory gardner and susan collins. house speaker nancy pelosi last hour seeming less optimistic, saying something on the senate side would lead to fresh
discussions. >> we'll meet with the president any time he wants to meet. i've never skurdiscouraged anyb from meeting with the president. >> joining us, kathy lucy with the associated press. there was some hope that you get two votes today. the senate finally does something, everybody understands the math a little better, then you go into a room and do traditional washington deal making. no? >> that doesn't seem likely to happen right now. what's been so fascinating to me about this is in a briefing with reporters on saturday, vice president mike pence and senior adviser jared kushner, who had been leading these negotiations, were saying that perhaps this could be a jumping off point for further negotiations, but the president who had conservatives into the white house yesterday for a second meeting, and he is apparently having another one today, said he is not budging. and he was really pressed by
those people not to negotiate with himself or to give another inch on this. so two different messages as often coming out of the administration, one from the president's advisers, one from the president himself. and i think we know who to listen to on that one. >> yes, i agree with you 100%. the flip side, 30 centrist democrats sending a letter to nancy pelosi saying promise the president a vote on his proposal. if he reopens the government, say you will bring to the floor his proposal. the president said, if i do that, i lose my leverage. i want my wall money as part of a deal to reopen the government. would that be enough if nancy pelosi said, mr. president, you reopen the government tomorrow, and within 48 hours i'll do just what they're doing in the senate. i'll bring a couple things to the floor and let the chips fall where they may. >> that was lindsey graham's proposal to the president. the president rejected it in lindsey graham's face, and that's why the republicans and democrats not succeeding at this
point have tried to produce a couple times to basically kill. you ruled out the baseline that remains a reality. this is not a dynamic where there is a needle that can be threaded on the policy to make things happen. we talked for weeks, here is a logical way to end this. both parties have a pretty good idea how to thread this needle and give everybody what they want and not too much of what they don't want. until one side or the other comes out of the baseline of you have to reopen the government or you have to give me wall money, there's no other way of thinking. perhaps the runway out of this is just that. reopen the government now and in three weeks we guarantee x will happen. why is the president going to sign off on that when people have said that about immigration and policy in general for months, years even, and it hasn't turned out to be anything. >> and they proved to the president, i'm not going to get
my wall money. in the end does he accept something where he doesn't get guaranteed $6 billion for the wall. he could get something that said some barriers, this and that, but that's traditional washington. we're not there. we'll talk about the president's staredown of nancy pelosi and the president blinking last night is the president's position eroding? the answer is yes, but it doesn't matter. he does things his way. he won the popular vote and things are different. do you agree or disagree with the way he's handling border security? 43% approve, 53% disapprove. some people will say john kelly is taking a shot at the president. remember, when he was chief of staff he was with the president on the wall. he just doesn't think the shutdown is worth it from a note of several dhs employees who
protect the public and protect critical infrastructures should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others for assistance in feeding their families and paying their bills while they steadfastly focus on the mission at hand. this is unconscionable. >> the president yesterday met with conservatives, he had a call with state and local leaders and his message was very clear. he repeatedly said republicans have to hang together. he said that he's not going to cave. and he, i think, while polling obviously is not going well for him overall sees that polling with republican -- his numbers remain very strong with republicans, and again, as we've discussed ad n aurnauseum with white house. this is a fight he wants to have. >> this is wilbur ross, the
commerce secretary. i'm going to guess this is not the way a political pro would tell you to message the shutdown. >> mr. secretary, there are reports that there are some federal workers who are going to homeless shelters to get food. >> well, i know they are, and i don't really quite understand why. the obligations that they would undertake, say, of borrowing from a bank or credit union are, in effect, federally guaranteed. so the 30 days of pay that some people will be out, there's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan against it. >> you're trying to get your kids to school, you can't pay for gas, you're having trouble paying for food, but go ahead and sign paperwork, what's the big deal? >> the polls are showing the white house is losing -- we're not having an election any time soon -- the republicans and congress are standing with him. this vote today will show again two defections.
people will stand by the president even if he fails miserably. nothing else matters. >> my question is after today, can you say, mr. president, this is a big vote. i want to be with you. up next, some conservatives have some blunt feedback for the president's decision to stand down from his state of the union address. you can open from here in 5 minutes. this is banking reimagined. what's in your wallet? come hok., babe. nasty nightime heartburn? try alka-seltzer pm gummies. the only fast, powerful heartburn relief, plus melatonin so you can fall asleep quickly. oh, what a relief it is! with a $500,000 life insurance policy. how much do you think it cost him?
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here's something you don't see every day. a fox news web headline, "trump blinks." the issue, the staredown with speaker nancy pelosi. it was this hour yesterday when the president challenged speaker pelosi, sending a letter making it clear that he plans to deliver his state of the union speech tuesday night in the house chamber. he then backed down making it clear there would be no state of the union welcome mat once the government was reopened. she hopes they can now move on to the important stuff. >> i'm glad we could get that off the table because i know it was the source of many questions. it is so unimportant in the lives of the american people in terms of especially those who are victims of the shutdown,
hostages to the president's applause line in a campaign speech. thank goodness we put that matter to rest and then we can get on to the subject at hand. open up government. >> two very interesting things. one, the president did blink, but that's uncharacteristic, especially if you read the letter he released just at noon yesterday to several hours later saying never mind is a big concessional retreat from the president. why? number two, she could have gloated right there. she took a couple jabs at the president but she didn't gloat. what's behind that? >> my question is why isn't the president saying, i'll give an alternative venue and i'll take my message on the road. he had two days of travel held after the planned travel, one in virginia state where he has a lot of supporters. those days are no longer held for travel which suggested he planned to give it and then take
his message on the road, which is pretty customary. there is no reason he still couldn't do that, and i wonder if the president feels -- he sees these polls and he feels his message may not be popular right now. >> if you look, his oval office address and his saturday address, his numbers kept going down. >> i wonder if that's at the root of this. >> i think also there really isn't acknowledgment of the president and people around him of the ceremony of doing the speech in a traditional way. i know they were looking at options to do something else, go to a border recognition. >> the president is going this way right now. at the end of this, he's going to need something to try to go back up. you would think that would be a platform he would want. we know the president pays attention much more than he pays attention to the base out in the country which tends to follow
him. there is a chatter board that he pays attention to a lot. to both the ban of the state of the union because pelosi says so and a ban don his wall because pelosi says so would mean the president is not a master negotiator, but someone who can be bullied by a san francisco liberal. that would bode terribly for a battle against kamala harris. and inc. gg raham would say, ok you agreed to back down on the wall. >> is he going to show up with the secret service and demand to walk the building? in this case he respected that congress is its own branch and try not to usurp its authority. that's important to note here.
i am curious to see what happens next. the president, i think, is a little worried also. joe biden told don't come to the state of the union by the republican house. there is a little bit of a question about do we want these kind of processes or do you want to wear political power? >> he found prerogative in the norms as he heated the offramp. lauren fox on capitol hill says lisa murkowski will now join cory gardner and susan collins. we have three republicans who say they will move over. that's significant but you need more. >> you need 13 to advance and you need 20 to make it veto proof, which if the president objected to it, that would be
the problem. they're not going to get anywhere close to it. >> collins on the ballot in 2020, murkowski has worried a lot about that. >> she's very, very frustrated about it. these are the three we expected. there might be one or two more. >> there is no, oh, my president, you're cracking. >> then what, i guess? what is the circuit breaker? do we have to get schumer in a room with the president and break it to him somehow? okay. i leave it on you. anger at the trump administration. ast tuesday four course feast wednesday and more. five days. five deals. fifteen dollars. see you before six.
fresh frustration from democrats on capitol hill today. cabinet secretaries now cancelling on congress. both secretary steve mnuchin and azar have refused invitations to testify on capitol hill. he said that's what i expect from people who thai they are leaders of our government. and it starts with the president of the united states. this is because of where we are. earlier in the democratic house, these committees believe, and they have a constitutional right to oversight, and they're saying come on up. for the first week or two, you can understand a little give us time to prepare, but are we at a breaking point here and what's the significance? >> i would say, one, this can't last forever because committees
can force people to come up if they want them to come up. i think because of the shutdown, that's an excuse not to come up. we have more technical people that can come up and explain what's going on in the department right now that know the issues better than me and i want to keep doing this. but i think there is a real gamesmanship going on. let's play this game a little bit. you know how they work with their counterparts on the hill or opposition on the hill as they try to set the stage or set the standards for more agreement between the two of them. at some point this will have to end. it's probably better to go in earlier before committee staff, particularly committee investigative staff, have a lot of time to get their hands on documents which could make the hearing more painful for you. i'm a little perplexed on why they're waiting but it's a position here. >> that's a key point. doucet the to you set the tone r do you go right out of the box
to be confrontational? this seems confrontational? >> i think phil is right, it's a preview of what we're going to see for the next two years which is sparring not only between the president and these committees who are issues document requests but also his cabinet secretaries and his most senior aides who are going to get requests to appear before these committees. this dynamic will become a familiar one between now and 2020. >> again, house republican number two, kevin mctherefocacc saying this of manu raju. why don't we end the government shutdown and then see what they'll do? which is to say the majority had tough questions about clean air and clean water for the epa. up next, joe biden has critics from his own party? plus the guy they call the goat. >> we have the pro bowl next sunday. >> we can't be in it. we're playing.
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former vice president joe biden back in the arena today after a week in which several new generation and una positively jetically liberal democrats jumped into the fray. biden noticed that many democrats were angry for him in last year's campaign. >> i get in trouble every day. i read in the "new york times" today that if i run for president, i like republicans. bless me, father, for i have sinned. but, you know, frwhere i come from, i don't know how you get anything done.
i don't know how you get anything done until we start talking to one another again. >> a "new york times" story noted that in 2018, he did praise upton. he stunned democrats andie lated republicans by praising mr. upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience. alluding to mr. upton's support for a landmark medical research law, mr. biden called him a champion in the fight against cancer, and one of the finest guys i've ever worked with. the question is with the party moving to the left, does it become a crime in the primary to have said with nice things, to have worked with republicans? is that how you get at joe biden? >> i don't think that's going to kill him with actual voters, is what i would say. i would say he probably is more to the center than elizabeth warren or senator harris, so i do think he probably is. as far as where the democraticie
electric r -- electorate is, biden says maybe i can unify the world in a way that senator warren can't. i don't think that will work in the primary and that may be why he's not sure about running or not. >> and for the activists in iowa or florida, they're looking for the liberal candidate. when there are so many people out there, do you want to turn to biden or do you want to look at the 30 or 40 other people out there who might better fit your needs? >> if you just looked at iowa, you think joe biden and hillary clinton. the base says that's not what we want. the biden message would be i am a president. nobody can question that i'm qualified to be president. everybody can look at me and say, he's ready to be president. don't you want me up against trump? >> unfortunately that was hillary clinton's message and it's shown not to work against
donald trump. i believe the primaries will be about democrats calculating what will work against trump? right now it seems like nancy pelosi is the only person who has really found that formula, but i certainly think that will be a heated topic in smoke-filled rooms among democrats going into 2020. >> when they draft pelosi and the movement starts we'll trace right back here. to that point about the party going to the left. this is bernie sanders in a gq profile. he's an independent from vermont. he did land a lot of shots against hillary clinton. he says, the ideas we brought forth in 2014 which were seeded to be extreme and fringe and out of step with where the american people are now what is in, by and large, the democratic national platform and are being adopted by candidates across the country. it's hard to make an argument
against that, and if i run again, will the concrete be hard? >> they're not all completely tied to one another, but the key issues are issues that were thought to be on the fringe, issues that the clinton campaign was very wary of embracing at all, and they're central themes that we've seen in this candidate up to this point. they have to answer to all those positions and whether they back them. you heard biden say no one can question his bona fides, he's done all kinds of things on lgbt and different things than people are trying to peg him. but he is in a different lane with people who are starting to run. is that lane going to be a place where democrats want to be, and how are they going to figure that out? the policy stuff, though, bernie is right. you can't argue with that. if he runs, i don't know if he
has a chance to win, but the policy stuff, you can't sell that. >> and hillary clinton said you can't sell that in a general election. i think that's what 2020 will be like, can you sell it to the country? >> one thing trump exposed was that republicans had their assumptions about people's policy preferences reversed. they thought that middle america was fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and it's actually more the opposite, that people are more socially conservative and fiscally liberal. >> that's a great point. you mean the country is out ahead of washington. god forbid. we should have learned that lesson, all of us. that's it for "inside politics." see you back here tomorrow. brianna keilar starts after a quick break. see you tomorrow.
i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters. underway right now, the senate slaps michael cohen with a subpoena before he goes behind bars. moments from now the senate will vote on two bills to end the shutdown. but spoiler alert, it won't end the shutdown as millions of americans continue to suffer. the dysfunction is accompanied by warnings growing about the real world impact of the shutdown, like the risk to your safety if you're flying. plus, suck it up, buttercup. that is the l