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Court Block Parts of Trump's Immigration Order; Trump & Putin Hold First Phone Call. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired January 29, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:13] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): On the world stage, a big call with Russia's Putin and a dust-up and detente with Mexico.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the original.
KING: Plus, a special relationship with Britain.
TRUMP: Actually, I'm not as brash as you might think.
KING: And at home, a flurry of executive actions aimed at keeping key campaign promises.
TRUMP: Protection of the nation from foreign terrorists entering into the United States.
KING: President Trump's critics are blunt.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: What I do know is he's a liar, repeatedly so.
TRUMP: But here's one indisputable truth: it's an action-packed beginning.
INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by reporters, now.
KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. This is day ten, yes, only day ten of the Trump presidency. And disruption remains the trademark.
Late Saturday, courts in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Washington state blocked or delayed parts of a controversial Trump executive order significantly restricting who gets to enter the United States and more court challenges are coming. There are protests, too, accusing the new president of waging an unconstitutional immigration war on Muslims.
And let's listen in there, that's just part of the opening Trump blitz that might seem a bit of a blur. On the world stage, a rocky start with Mexico, but a more careful, even cautious beginning in other big tests. The Friday meeting, for example, with Britain's prime minister and weekend getting to know you calls with the leaders of Japan, Australia, France and Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As far as, again, Putin and Russia, I don't say good, bad or indifferent. I don't know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That's possible. And it's also possible that we won't.
I've had many times where I thought I would get along with people, and I don't like them at all. And I have had some where I didn't think I was going to have much of a relationship, and it turned out to be a great relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Here at home, daily executive actions on campaign priorities like repealing Obamacare, building a border wall and banning Muslims. Many face legal and other obstacles, but to the president, they are promises quickly kept.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This administration has hit the ground running at a record pace. Everybody's talking about it. We're doing it with speed and we're doing it with intelligence. And we will never, ever stop fighting on behalf of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And as always, this Trump trademark, a fair share of controversy. For morning tweets and a conspiracy theory about voter fraud and a team Trump effort that goes all the way to the top to intimidate the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think the media is the opposition party in many ways, and I think that -- and I'm not talking about all, but a big portion of the media, the dishonesty, the total deceit and deception makes them certainly partially the opposition party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and insights, Julie Hirschfield Davis of "The New York Times", Matt Viser of "The Boston Globe", Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast", and Abby Phillip of the "Washington Post."
There is no doubt the new president knows what he wants to do ASAP, whether the issue is building that border wall or making it harder for people from some majority Muslim countries to enter the United States. But ten days into the Trump presidency, there are doubts, even among his closest allies that the president knows how to best do what he wants to do.
The weekend chaos over this new executive action to restrict U.S. entry from places President Trump uses a terrorist threat is just one giant example, signing the action Friday, yes, kept a big campaign promise, but the government agencies charged with implementing the restrictions say they were given little or no advanced warning. And conflicting information about who was allowed in and who wasn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is this a Muslim ban?
TRUMP: It's not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared. It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports. You see it all over. It's working very nicely and we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That ban affects some 130 million people. And before it was 24 hours old, it suffered its first and then several legal setbacks. Federal judges Saturday saying the government cannot send back people who had legal papers when they left for the United States but then were deemed in violation of the new Trump rules when they landed.
Trump critics see a reckless rush to show action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's an awful decision and it plays right into the ISIS and al Qaeda narrative that the West is essentially inhospitable to Muslims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, what do we make of this on Sunday morning as we will see today more of this, this story is developing as we speak? More people trying to get into the country, some nations canceling flights, some of our neighbors, Canada to the north, some of our allies, Turkey, in its region, saying, hey, if you can't get into the United States, come here, we'll take you.
[08:05:09] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we're seeing implementation of world view from some of Trump's top advisers, specifically Steve Bannon, as it relates to immigration. It's always been on the table that what they want to do is put in place a new concept for immigration that is, quote/unquote, "America first", which means that even folks who are here, who are not citizens, who have legal documentation are not entitled to the same rights as United States citizens.
That goes a little bit -- actually, quite a bit farther than what this country has seen in quite some time. And it sets up a real both legal challenge and also a challenge within the Republican Party about how to deal with this. I can remember for many years, Republicans have wanted the executive branch to put the brakes on, you know, putting into place immigration policy without consultation from the legislative branch. We have all three branches of government on a path to collision, and I
think that's where this is headed. There's just no way it doesn't end up, you know, embroiled in the courts and eventually Republicans on the Hill are going to have to grapple with.
KING: The word "collision" means chaos to some degree. And we saw from the campaign and the transition that the president likes that sometimes. He likes to stir it up.
But now that he's running the government, and you have -- you have agencies saying we didn't know or they changed, they told us green card no, then green card yes, then green card no. Is the chaos in the end may be undermined his "I'm going to run the government like a business"?
JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think what you also see here is a premium on action and on doing something on message. This is what he talked about during his campaign promise. President Trump talked about America first. He proposed a Muslim ban and then backed off it a bit. You don't actually see that in the text of this executive order, any specific Muslim ban, but he does not mind that this is the story.
I mean, you heard him in the Oval Office just then saying this is working very nicely. This is --
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is inaccurate.
DAVIS: This is the start, though, that he wanted and that he and his senior staff believe is the right strategy that they will get hit by the courts. I think that's -- for them a foregone conclusion they will get hit by Democrats. They may even get hit by Republicans, although interestingly, we're not hearing too much from the House or Senate Republicans who criticized the idea of doing this during the campaign.
But the premium here is on being seen to act and being seen to fulfill campaign promises. And all the details are for later on and are for -- you know, I think they believe are up for debate. And it is I think related to this war on the media that we have heard Mr. Trump and his top aides pushing this week, if they can undercut the sources of information, then all of the chaos seems to be part of a he said/she said/they said they're trying to undermine me and I think that's what we're seeing. We're seeing a lot of backlash at airports and around the country to this refugee executive order. And yet they will argue and have success in doing so saying this is my enemy trying to undercut what I'm doing.
KING: I can see, you can see this, if these temporary court challenges, they keep issuing stays, saying you can't do this, can't do that, let's take a deeper look at this, don't rush to send people back if they came here, if they -- when they got on the plane, they thought they had the right papers. But I can see this going -- if he does lose in court because this was drawn up too quickly, maybe not drawn up without a full justice team in place yet, they don't have the full State Department team in place yet, him saying, even if the judges throw it out because it was done sloppily, saying there go the activist judges siding with terrorists and not me and America.
MATT VISER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Right. Yes. I mean, on the one be hand, we shouldn't be so surprised. You know, on the wall, on the Muslim ban, even though he's not calling it that, it effectively is -- these are things he ran on and he won on.
But on the other hand, you had a majority of Americans in the popular vote not supporting him. And so two Saturdays in a row, you've seen vast amounts of protests to what President Trump is doing. So I think that that's the other thing developing, is he's striking images both on the mall last Saturday and then last night at airports around the country with people chanting.
And I think that that's -- like going forward, Trump welcomes chaos and he's getting it. You know, I mean, he's getting a lot of --
KING: And let's just put the map up, if you were enjoying your day yesterday on Saturday, and didn't follow this so closely, you see the countries affected by this -- Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Now, there's existing policy from the Obama administration that the Trump administration says that gives them a -- they think -- a better legal argument, to defend this one in court, even they've expanded.
What is not on the list? Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt. The administration on a background call yesterday saying this action might have prevented San Bernardino. Well, no, it couldn't have. Number one, the male there was an American citizen. And his fiancee came from Pakistan. So, it would not have.
[08:10:00] And so again, this is to the point about are they rushing this and they can't even get their own story, their own spin straight because it's so important to your point, action out of the gate.
DAVIS: Well, what we also know is that they did not consult with the experts in the government that deal with these things. They did not consult with the State Department. They did not consult with the department of homeland security counter to what they said in the briefing yesterday in advance. And perhaps some of those officials could have filled them in on some of the details of that.
But again, I think the intent here was to show we are doing something to get out in front of this issue, whether real or imagined, of people trying to use the refugee program or even just legal immigration to come here and cause harm to Americans.
KUCINICH: We should stress this wasn't just refugees yesterday. These were green card holders. These were legal immigrants that were being stopped once they were getting off planes.
And the government's own lawyers weren't prepared to deal with this. They didn't have answers for the judge in New York. And which is why you had, I'm going to misquote here, but a statement saying, you guys really didn't do a lot of homework on this.
And truer words were never spoken.
KING: They didn't have time to do homework.
KUCINICH: They didn't have time, they weren't told.
KING: They weren't told, they didn't have time to do homework. It's without a doubt, the nationalists, we saw this in the campaign, there's competition for Trump's attention and competition for Trump's agenda. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner wing is winning at the moment with this without a doubt.
But to your point about relatively muted criticism from Congress, there's been some. Speaker Ryan said this is not a Muslim ban and the president has every right to keep us safer. Let's see how it plays out. He tried to be careful, Speaker Ryan.
But listen to the Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, says, "If we send a signal to the Middle East that the United States sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion."
This was the argument against this during the quickly, that in doing this so quickly, does it actually help ISIS and the other bad guys recruit?
KUCINICH: Yes, it does help ISIS and the bad guys recruit. If you talk to any intelligence expert yesterday, that's what they're going to tell you. That's what humanitarian groups were telling me yesterday that this is -- this has very dire consequences. And it does very little if not make it worse to stop terrorism.
PHILLIP: The executive order makes life very difficult for people who have already been established as law-abiding citizens, who are following the rules, who are doing the right thing. And that is intended, in part because when the Department of Homeland Security was trying to interpret this executive order hastily put together, they learned about it in the minutes before Donald Trump signed it, they tried to make a determination, who does it apply to?
And CNN reported that the White House weighed in and said, it applies to everyone, which means that determination didn't come from expert lawyers in the subject matter who deal with this every day. It came from the political folks within the White House. And that tells you everything you need to know about this as more of a political document than a policy document or national security document, because there is no national security imperative to detain people who have already been through rigorous vetting processes or the permanent legal residents in this country.
And that's something Paul Ryan did not address in his statement. He only addressed the refugee portion of this. And I don't know that is going to be able to be a stance that a lot of Republicans can take, you know, come Monday and Tuesday when they're back in the halls of Congress and they have to answer questions day in and day out about this. KING: We'll see as this plays out. But the White House is running
policy, not the cabinet agencies. That may change because the cabinet officials and the deputies are in place yet.
But right now, the close Trump's inner circle, President Trump's inner circle, is running the show and setting say policy.
Everybody, sit tight.
Up next, the new president's busy weekend on the world stage and a big shift in tone that has European allies breathing at least a bit easier.
[08:18:13] TRUMP: Welcome back.
President Trump had a handful of very important getting-to-know-you calls with major leaders Saturday. Those a day after his first face- to-face with the world stage, the White House meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Actually, I'm not as brash as you think. And I can tell you that I think we're going to get along well. You know, it's interesting, I am a people person, and I think you also are, Theresa.
And I can often tell how I get along with someone very early. And I believe we're going to have a fantastic relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: As for the Saturday calls, the statements released by the various governments did offer a few interesting nuggets. The vague White House statement -- bring us along please -- the vague White House statement about the call with Russian President Vladimir Putin said, quote, "The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship."
The Kremlin readout though said, "The sides stressed the importance of rebuilding mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two countries' and business communities. That suggests perhaps the dicey question of whether President Trump is willing to ease sanctions, at least from the Russian perspective, talking about the businesses, an interesting one there.
But these also, in the other statements, though, the Merkel statement and the Hollande statement, a win for the Europeans, the White House acknowledging the fundamental importance of the NATO alliance and a win for President Trump. Chancellor Merkel apparently acknowledging the countries need to do more to pitch in, which has been a big Trump complaint.
DAVIS: Well, I mean, what was striking to me was the difference in tone between the readout that the White House put out about the Putin call and the other calls with European allies. I mean, it was the Kremlin -- the Putin readout was quite a bit warmer, I thought, than the ones from Merkel and Hollande of France. They were business-like or in some cases seemed a little bit chilly.
There was no talk of sanctions between President Trump and President Putin as far as either readout said.
[08:20:02] But what you did see was some, you know, criticism coming. If you looked at the French readout of the Hollande call, they talked about the Iran deal. He warned them about protectionism. They touched on the refugee issue, which I think France was fairly alarmed as a lot of other countries were to see what President Trump did. So, what you see is more tension in those relationships that under Barack Obama were much more of a cooperative collaborative relationship than with Putin.
And so, what you heard him say with Theresa May on Friday, he wanted that relationship to be a good one. He was skeptical and wants it to be good. And from the outward appearance, he's heading in that direction or trying to.
KING: And the tension is a good word among the European allies, is palpable. You can see it, especially if you talk to the diplomats from those countries. They tell you they are just waiting. Theresa May had the first meeting in public and Trump was quite measured and quite cautious in those statements.
But she had to go home to say I disagree with his refugee policy. French president says it.
President Trump already this morning on Twitter, he criticized his favorite newspaper this morning. Julie's here representing his favorite newspaper. And then he went on to say, "Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting now. Look at what is happening all over Europe and indeed the world, a horrible mess."
This is -- it's important, number one, to show that he's reacting to the morning newspapers and the morning shows. This is what he does and we need to get used to, he did this as a candidate, this is what he did in the transition and he's going to do it as a president.
But number two, it's also I think the crisis presidency. Donald Trump doesn't look at the southern border and say, you know, immigration is actually down, illegal border crossings are actually down, but I want to make it better. He says, they're coming, that it's a crisis. He looks at this refugee problem, nobody from the countries on this list, there is zero evidence that there's a terrorist attack from the countries on the list.
He ran on it in the election, there's every reason to say, I want to look at the vetting process, I want to make it better, I want to make America even safer, but he says it's a crisis. It's the crisis mentality president.
VISER: And fueling that, I think, this by the minute you have no idea what is going to happen, you know? And I think that eventually, I don't know whether the country gets fatigued by that or used to it, but the presidency of Donald Trump is that you have no idea what's coming next.
And you saw with Theresa may that press conference was so interesting where the two of them, you could compare and contrast, and they had totally different styles where she was sort of more measured as you would expect from somebody in the east room and very formal. And Trump was sometimes answering questions for her and inner rejecting to the reporters, which is refreshing to people, but it is drastically different from what we are used.
KING: You mentioned the May conversation, one of the things that was interesting and whether this was by design or she was just really smart on her feet, we shall see. But listen here, when the big questions -- remember during the campaign -- President Trump said NATO was obsolete. He criticized the nations for not spending more in the defense budgets, not paying more for their dues, he said, and NATO pushes back on this, but he said that NATO is not doing enough to fight global terrorism.
Listen to the prime minister trying to get the president on the record moving away from that position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense. And today, we reaffirmed our unshakable allegiance to this alliance. Mr. President, I think you said, you confirmed that you're 100 percent behind NATO, but we are also discussing the importance of NATO continuing to ensure it is equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It was important for her to say that to a skeptical audience back home, but it was also interesting because as we all, the president likes to speak for himself. And that was a nice play.
KUCINICH: General Mattis spent time calling European leaders and reaffirming the commitment to NATO after he was sworn in. So, and he's -- and Trump has said he's going to give Mattis in particular quite of autonomy. So perhaps this is an example of him actually listening to the people he's vested with these positions.
KING: You say autonomy, say it was striking to see a press of the United States in his first press conference saying I believe in waterboarding, I believe in torture, but I know a lot of you were critical of me, so I've given this away, he's handed it away to his my defense secretary and he says gets the last word. That's interesting.
PHILLIP: I think world leaders are starting to calibrate to Trump, realizing that they have to be aggressive in certain ways, like Theresa May was, very savvy and putting it on the table kind of boxing him in on the NATO issue. And then you have on the other side, someone like Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel who yesterday weighed in on the wall issue, praising Trump's effort to put in place southern -- a wall on the southern border.
You're seeing the world kind of align in aligning on different sides of Trump, trying to deal with him in different ways and trying to calibrate their expectations for what a president behaves like and talks like. And even this think about torture is part of that, too. I mean, normally, you would see a lot more exclamation and alarm.
[08:25:02] I think people are used to the fact that this is his position, but they are calmed by the idea that maybe someone else might have a say in the process overall.
KING: We see the Trump effect everywhere, everywhere, in this country and around the world. And I suspect he likes it that way.
Up next, team Trump says it is taking names and the media should shut up. There's a new sheriff in down. And the fact-checkers are exhausted.
KING: Welcome back.
Truth is often a casualty as the new Trump administration implements its early agenda. Not just in the silly debate about inaugural crowd size or the president's distorted view of how his win sizes up to electoral victories. The number of illegal border crossings is down, so is the murder rate in Philadelphia. The number on welfare also down.
But you wouldn't know that listening to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work. So important. It's out of control.
Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady -- I mean, just terribly increasing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And, of course, there's zero evidence as president Trump insists that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because three to five million undocumented workers voted illegally. To point these falsehoods and exaggerations out is called fact-checking. The president and his team see it differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think the media is the opposition party in many ways. They treat me so unfairly it's hard to believe that I won. But the fortunate thing about me is that I have a big voice. I have a voice that people understand. And the media is a disgrace. And they've called me wrong from the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: How are we doing this morning?
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, we call him wrong when he's wrong. And when he's right, we say he's right because that is our job. And it is just that there seems to be this fundamental misunderstanding that he's given the benefit of the doubt that just because he won we will be like, you're great. That's not how this works. You get vetted even more when you're president. You've got to be open to criticism because that's the job.
ABBY PHILIP, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is not a campaign anymore. And I think this is something that both the president and some of his top aides don't seem to have calibrated to. They are treating this as if the weight of their words are not, you know, more important now than ever before.
I mean, just yesterday, as I think Julie pointed out, a senior administration official asked a question that is easily answerable with Google. Would this order -- this executive order on immigration stopped the San Bernardino attack? The answer is definitively no. But they asked that in a setting as if they couldn't just Google it and find the answer to it leading to this misleading perception that somehow the executive order would have stopped a Pakistani, you know, legal resident from carrying out an attack on the United States. And to me, they have to answer for the degree to which some of these comments are beyond just sort of mistakes.
KING: I don't think they need to answer for them, though. I was -- a week or so back, I was in a text exchange with a senior administration official, I was saying, it's just wrong. It's just factually wrong. Why you keep -- he said, we don't care what you say, we're louder than you. And they think to their base -- they think to their base and whether to FOX News or Breitbart are out there. To their base and their support, that if they say it, we're not telling the truth, even when we tell the truth, they think their people are going to believe it.
MATT VISER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: And they do have that big microphone, as Abby was saying. And they haven't recalibrated sort of how they operate. And Trump is a guy who came out of the New York tabloid, you know, mentality of punch back and punch back hard. He reads "The National Enquirer" and believes what's in it. You know, I mean he has this idea of sowing confusion and distrust in the media and they think that's to their benefit.
But, you know, there comes a time when they need, you know, to get their message out and they need to sway public opinion. And that's where, you know, we'll get a lot more respect.
KING: He also responds to what he sees. His tweets last week, there was a Bill O'Reilly segment on Chicago crime and he tweeted about it. There was a FOX News -- "FOX & Friends" banner about Chelsea Manning traitor, the same banner popped up in a Trump tweet. Yesterday, if he picked up the newspapers at the White House, we know
he reads the newspapers more than he goes online, "GOP Lawmakers Fret Over Obamacare Repeal." Other, "Why Trump Promises Look Pie in the Sky" on the "Washington Post." The "New York Times," "GOP in Private Airs Anxiety Over Health Care Act." "Trump Targets Muslims," "Misfires, Crossed Wires and a Smile in the Oval Office." So fair stories. Some of them complimentary, some not so complimentary.
And what happens these show up and then on Twitter, quote, "The failing 'New York Times' has been wrong about me from the very beginning, said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. Fake news. Their coverage about me in 'The New York Times' and the 'Washington Post' has been so false and angry at times 'the Times' actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers. They got me wrong from the beginning." He goes on and on, dishonest.
Again, just fact-checking, fact-checking. Subscriptions to both newspapers are actually up significantly, but this is how they want to play. And it's like -- you know, there are certain guys in hockey. Forgive me, took on sports here. Guy comes off the bench, you know he's going to drop his gloves and get in a fight. Every basketball team has a guy who goes in to throw his elbows when you're not -- when you're losing the rebounding battle.
This is what they're doing right off the top.
PHILIP: One of the risks, I think, for Democrats and for anybody who is opposed to Trump is that he's right about one really important thing, which is that he's understandable. And he's able to communicate with Americans in a really direct way, in a way that they understand on a really visceral level. And so truth I think matters a little bit less in that context. On being understandable matters more. And I think Trump -- you know, if you're going to try to talk about the truth and critique President Trump, you have to be understandable, too.
And I think that's -- you know, as the media, we're always trying to get people to understand what we're seeing and present facts in the way that makes sense to them and that challenge is even more important because, you know, I think that that's one of the reasons why he's succeeded so far in the presidential campaign.
[08:35:07] People didn't have to pull out a dictionary to understand the words coming out of his mouth.
KING: And, and one of the reasons he won is that there is a great deal of distrust about this town and people in our business in this town because this town has been broken for a while. And he's disrupted it and in many ways for better. We're going to have debates about issues that haven't been debated or at least openly in a very long time.
One more quick point on the subject. It's not just here in Washington. This is Nikki Haley, the new ambassador to the United Nations making her debut in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: There is a new USUN. We talked to the staff yesterday and you are going to see a change in the way we do business. Our goal with the administration is to show value at the U.N. and the way that we'll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well. For those that don't have our back, we're taking names. We will make points to respond to that accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Right out of a John Wayne movie, there's a new sheriff in town. We'll keep an eye on that.
Up next, there was another big march in Washington this past week. And its message will echo in the days ahead as President Trump makes a huge decision.
[08:40:21] KING: Welcome back. Change is everywhere you look in Washington. Take Friday's 44th Annual March for Life. Vice President Pence was the highest ranking elected official ever to take the stage at the pre-march rally. That's a big deal. So is making perfectly clear to the anti-abortion movement the president has a litmus test when it comes to a big Supreme Court pick he will make in the days ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I can already tip you off, President Trump is going to keep his promise to the American people. And he's going to nominate a strict constructionist to the Supreme Court in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was the vice president speaking at a Republican retreat. He had a very similar line when he spoke to the march. Sorry we rolled the wrong bite there, but to this point that -- he was just very open. Number one, going to the march. Ronald Reagan used to call in very briefly at the top, but to have the vice president stand there and to have the vice president say, we're about to make a Supreme Court pick and you're going to be very happy.
I view that as refreshing actually because in past administrations people say, well, the president doesn't litmus test, the president doesn't -- of course they do. And these guys are being open about it which I think is refreshing, except their political opponents are scared.
KUCINICH: And Mike Pence's influence in this particular part of the administration cannot be overstated. Going into this election, pro- life activists did not trust Donald Trump. They didn't like Donald Trump. They thought his answers, particularly on abortion, weren't enough. And then Mike Pence came in. And it really earned their trust and got them out there to work for Donald Trump. So the fact that Mike Pence was a representative there, I think it speaks volumes about the clout that the pro-life movement now has.
KING: Life is winning in America again. That's what Mike Pence said repeatedly in his speech to the march. And it's hard to argue with that. The question is, what will the Congress do? They've had some executive actions. The Mexico City ban. Congress has temporarily -- the Hyde Amendment is back. But what happens with the Supreme Court? If you think Washington has been in a tissy so far, we're going to get a Supreme Court pick on Thursday.
VISER: And Chuck Schumer already forecasting, you know, that they'll prepare to stall. I mean, as Republicans did for Obama's nominee. So I think that does set up a big battle. And to Jackie's point, I mean, there is, you know, this idea of Trump not sort of caring as much on abortion issues. And he yielded to Mattis on, you know, his feelings about torture. You get the sense internally that he's yielding a lot of these issues to Mike Pence, which is reassuring to the pro-social community.
KING: Social conservatives.
KING: We saw that at the beginning of the convention when the Pence pick was announced. But to your point, I think it's also -- think about legacy. I am told that he has been told by conservatives he met with during the transition about the court pick, have said that they believe that Justice Kennedy, the Republican appointed key swing vote, wants to retire. And that they think Justice Kennedy will be more inclined to do so if Trump picks a mainstream conservative pick and the town doesn't blow up over the first pick. Now is that true? I don't know. But that's what I know the president has been told and that would be a second pick. And that would be a swing vote pick. If he got to replace first Scalia and then somebody like a Kennedy or one of the Democrats. And I'm told to your point that his eyes light up at the idea of a legacy. A legacy item of having his court be the court that made such monumental reversal.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that's right. But I think you also have to take Vice President Mike Pence at his word during that -- during the march and also at the retreat that they are looking for someone in this mold of, you know, conservatives, strict constructionist. And the people that they -- they're looking at, as we know, the three federal appellate court judges who -- you know, who are at the top of their list, all fit that category.
You have William Pryor who's a Jeff Sessions' protege who called "Roe Versus Wade" -- that the "Roe Versus Wade" ruling an abomination. That is the kind of candidate that they are looking at. For this to succeed to replace Scalia because that was a conservative seat and they want to keep it conservative. And there's no evidence that he is actually thinking outside of that box for this. So it would be really interesting to see who he does pick and how they sort of go forward if they think that there is going to be another vacancy, how they deal with the fight because Senator Schumer has said if it's somebody who's outside the mainstream, we're blocking that person and this could go nuclear very quickly. Donald Trump has said he wants it to go nuclear.
KING: Nuclear is a key word because by that it's Washington speak, but it's the Senate to change the rules so that you could pass-approve a Supreme Court nominee with 51 -- you know, with 51 votes. Now Mitch McConnell, though, Donald Trump has been pushing saying, do it, do it, just do it. Mitch McConnell, an institutionalist, if you will, told Politico on Friday that's not a presidential decision, that's a Senate decision.
McConnell, at least for now, number one, they said, look, on a lot of issues, there's a lot of tension. You have a president now who campaigned against President Obama issuing so many executive order, when his first 10 days has ignored the Congress and issued a whole bunch of executives.
[08:45:06] So this goes beyond the Supreme Court pick. But that's -- again if you think this town has been on edge, a Supreme Court battle starting on Thursday, can McConnell hold that? He's an institutionalist, he wants to -- he wants to push and push and try to get enough Democratic votes.
PHILIP: I think he also wants a fail-safe for himself. Having the filibuster option allows him to blame Democrats if something doesn't work out. And that, I think, is going to become more and more useful going down the road here. And Republicans are forced to make decisions for their own political survival versus Donald Trump's legacy. You know, I think on the courts, this dynamic about what Donald Trump wants his legacy to be, is, I think, at odds with the idea that social conservativism is the primary factor at hand here with the Supreme Court pick.
Trump understands that the economy and national security issues were some of the top concerns of his supporters, less so some of these social issues like abortion. And I think there is some uneasiness about how far do you go if at the very beginning and will that imperil his chances of doing a lot of other things including things like infrastructure and some of these other fiscal and economic priorities that will take a lot of political capital that he can't necessarily waste.
KING: Take a lot of Democratic votes, take some -- take some Democratic votes on those issues but the well might get poisoned if it isn't already with the Supreme Court battle. We'll see.
Some quick breaking news. We're going to bring you the U.S. Central Command just announcing a U.S. service member has died of wounds suffered during a raid in Yemen against the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula organization. Three other service members wounded in that raid. A U.S. Defense official says this operation was authorized by President Trump. That's the first combat death of the Trump presidency. We'll have more details as they become available. Our reporters share from their notebooks next. And for all President
Trump did in his first 10 days, what he didn't do is just as newsworthy.
[08:51:12] KING: Welcome back. We surround our table with reporters, not pundits, for a good reason, and we close each week by asking them to share a nugget or two from in their notebooks to help get you ahead of what the political news just around the corner. Julie?
HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, what we heard a lot this week about refugees and the wall, but what we didn't see Donald Trump do was anything on rescinding President Obama's order protecting the Dreamers, those undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. And in many cases, were brought up here from deportation and allowing them work permits.
Now this is already causing consternation in Donald Trump's base. He liked to hearing him say that he was going to scrap that on day one and that it was illegal, but what we're hearing about is more talk of a potential deal, having Congress address about 800,000 people. And in exchange do something tougher on enforcement, than he has done in executive orders. He'll need Congress for that. So it's unclear where there'll be consensus but I think they're going to be going about in the days to come.
KING: Breaking news there, they acknowledge there is a Congress. Matt?
VISER: Trump has talked about a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. He's talked about $15 billion wall. Tax cuts, military spending, not doing much on entitlements. So what is missing is any talk about the federal debt, which was a driving issue for so long from this Republican Congress. Last weekend in an interview with Sean Hannity he said a balanced budget is fine, but sometimes you have to fuel the well in order to really get the economy going. That sounds an awful lot like a Barack Obama eight years ago arguing for the stimulus.
So you have set up a budget coming soon, but the king of debt as Trump has called himself is on a collision course with fiscal conservatives. So I think that's one of the things to watch, whether they acquiesce to the new president or whether they hold their fire and go after him on this. So it's going to be a big battle.
KING: Not your father's Republican. Jackie?
KUCINICH: I think yesterday on the phone with a humanitarian aid groups and almost to a person, one group that they mentioned were Immigrants on Special Immigrant Visas. These are the people that were translators in Iraq for U.S. troops. They were being held up at the airport yesterday. They are -- these visas are vetted by every major intelligence agency. A lot of them have to take polygraphs. These are not people that anyone needs to worry about coming into this country. And a lot was made yesterday on the gentleman who came in who was one of these translators who said he was a Trump fan. That's not the point. These people should not be treated like this and something needs to be done quickly to make sure they get into this country because they are -- they could be in danger going back to where they are from.
KING: In trouble back home because of their help to the United States and their past. Abby?
PHILIP: Well, some of my colleagues at "The Washington Post" reported on some closed-door talks between Republicans about what to do with health care. There's a lot of angst in the Republican caucus and confusion. But I talked to a lot of folks in the health care industry this week who also told me that they really have no idea where the White House stands on some of these key issues. That plus Republicans not really knowing where to go forward has really caused even more consternation among the health care industry, the folks who have to basically implement whatever goes on on the Hill, they have a couple of more months until early summer, late spring, to come up with their plans for 2018.
They have been keeping their powder dry up until this point. But that could very well change in the coming weeks and months if they feel like there's continually a lack of communication on the White House side and on the congressional side about how to move forward.
KING: Disruption, confusion, world stage, domestic issues, anyone notice a theme here?
I'll close with this, Republican establishment forces say they have a candidate recruiting victory for one of 2018's marquee Senate races. Those GOP sources say Republican congressman Evan Jenkins has committed to running for the seat now held by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin has tried to boost his standing back home by siding with President Trump on several issues.
[08:55:06] And you might remember he met with then President-elect Trump during the transition search for Cabinet advisers. But being one of the president's favorite Democrats doesn't mean Republicans will back off trying to capture that West Virginia seat. Jenkins will no doubt face a Republican primary as being promised fundraising and other support from GOP establishment groups who think he's the best general election challenger against Manchin who won't be easy to beat. He was governor before winning that Senate seat.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. IP also live every weekday at noon for the early weeks of this big new year. Hope to see you then as well.
Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER."