Return to Transcripts main page


Vice President Pence Breaks Tie To Confirm Education Secretary DeVos; Trump Falsely Accuses Media Of Ignoring Terror; Trump Claims Media Not Reporting On Terrorism; Schumer Meets With Trump's Supreme Court Nominee. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 7, 2017 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:02] MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... call be waived?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without objection.

PENCE: Without objection.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Manu Raju standing by for us. We saw the Vice President of the United States cast his first tie breaking vote. A big tie breaking to get the President of the United States a key member of his cabinet, the Education Secretary Betsy Devos then you had some parliamentary moves at the end of that, Manu, the Senate essentially putting aside any effort to reconsider the nomination. So Betsy Devos, will be sworn in later today, we assume, as the next Secretary of Education. Give us a little flavor.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah. And, you know, even though there was a lot of drama heading up to this, the Republican leadership behind the scenes really worked a lot down the votes. They made sure that there were not going to be any defections. I've been talking to the top Republicans for the last several days, they felt very confident heading into this vote because they got assurances from all their members from some of those blue states, swing state Republicans that you folks were just talking about, people like Dean Heller from Nevada or Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, that they we're not going to flip, that they were going to support Betsy Devos no matter how much pressure was coming from the left flank of the Democratic caucus.

And that was one reason why they moved up for consideration of her nomination to have that before Jeff Sessions' vote to ensure that Jeff Session who was there to help break that 50-50 tie and help it to get to 51-50 situation.

Now the Senate moving to the rest of Donald Trump's Cabinet, John, that's right, this vote that's happening at this moment to break a filibuster to block Jeff Sessions from getting the job. Jeff Sessions expected to overcome that filibuster and watch for the Republicans to push through the rest of Donald Trump's cabinet nominees at a very slow pace, much slower than a lot of new presidents but eventually they're going to get their jobs. Democrats doing what they can to frustrate the agenda but not having success so far, John.

KING: Not having success so far, Manu, but stay with me and help me with this question. If you need the vice president of the United States to break a tie on one of the President's cabinet picks just to get his team in place, what does that tell us about the environment going forward? The president says he wants fast action. We know at the Whit House they're already frustrated with the pace of Congress but if -- you have to have the vice president break a tie to get you an education secretary, what does it look like as we head into the contentious policy debates about funding a border wall, replacing Obamacare, potentially the whole terror ban issue is spilling up on Capitol Hill, tax reform?

RAJU: It's going to be incredibly difficult. This is supposed to be the easy part even though they are getting their nominees, overcoming the Democratic opposition. They have the votes overcome a filibuster, just take 51 senators right know to overcome a filibuster. There are 52 Republican senators. So we expected this to happen all along. It happens slower than they wanted, but it's still happening, but this is the part that they expected to get done.

Now, what about when you start getting into the really heavy part of the legislative calendar, getting into the nitty-gritty of healthcare reform, of tax reform. It's going to be incredibly difficult not just to keep Republicans united but to get Democratic support on key issues overcoming that 60-vote threshold which you'll need to pass massive pieces legislation or even the most policy measures, getting of eight Democrats join with 52 Republicans if the Republicans can stay united and, John, this going to frustrate House Republicans who want fast action on a lot of issues, including Obamacare but given how slow the Senate is moving as we've seen with these cabinet nominees, it's going to be very difficult to move quickly on major elements of the agenda so it could spark some infighting which we'll watch for in the coming weeks and months, John.

KING: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us. We'll check back in if developments. A big victory for the President but needed his Vice President to break the tie to get it. Let's come back into the room.

What does it -- it's a win for the President. It looks like he's going to get his entire cabinet. It's also a win for the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who is keeping the Senate Republicans in line early on. But we're in still in this getting to know you phase, not just about the president and to the conversation we we're just having, don't necessarily pay attention to what he says pay attention to what his team does which I find rather extraordinary (inaudible).

But at this moment it's just dawned on me when Manu was speaking, the President is going to go up there. It's not a state of the union because he wasn't president last year, but he's going to go up there in just a couple of weeks and give a joint address to the American people and to the joint session of Congress.

He has not done much early on to reach out to the other side. Nor have they done much to reach out to him. Does anyone ever break this ice or is this the world we're going to live for the next four years of the Donald Trump presidency?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think this is the world that we're going to live in except perhaps on specific issues. If they do actually do something on infrastructure where they need Democrats and bring them in. But this is not what Democrats had planned for. I think they were not planning on all of these protests and they were not planning on their activist for leading them as much now. But now they have to stand up to this President much more I think than they thought they would have to in the moment here and that's going to halt all types of progress there.

But I think one other interesting thing, in terms of outreach, it's is something that the, you know, the White house is still not fully staffed in terms of legislative outreach.

[12:35:03] I mean the Democrats aren't being retentional, but Republicans are baffled by sort of what is happening here. So all of this going on now, as Manu said, this should be the easy stuff.

KING: Should be --the Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer just lost this vote because the Vice President broke the tie. This morning he tweeted out just after the vote was finished "This cabinet nominee is so unqualified, so divisive that that Mike Pence V.P. had to drive down Pennsylvania Avenue to cast the deciding vote." For the White House perspective I think they're driving up Pennsylvania Avenue.

But, you know, to this point, you know, Chuck Schumer getting into the mix there and trying to prove to the Democratic base, we tried. But to the point we're talking about throughout this, the pressure on the Democrats, their base is pushing them along here. And --.

LAURA MECKLER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I'm not sure it's really that much of a push, I mean it's not like a lot of this is been on Democrat we're like well, I think Betsy Devos would be a great education secretary. Yeah, exactly.

KING: On Betsy Devos, you're right, but Chucky was about to sit down with Judge Gorsuch.

MECKLER: Sure. That's going to be a tougher one, especially for Democrats who have made the argument in the past that you should, you know, look is this person qualified for the court and not look at their ideology which of course is those argument when the shoe is on the other foot.

But I do think that -- I don't think she underestimate. It's not that the anger at Donald Trump is not just in the base. I mean I think that the members of Congress, Democrats in Congress feel it, too. And he is not -- his policies are so -- he's taking them to such an extreme and so many different fronts all at the same time without any effort to bring anybody in that I don't think anyone should be real surprised.

KING: But if they keep coming up just short, what happens out there in America? Do we get from Democratic activists what we got from the tea party? A revolt saying, you know, trying just coming up just short isn't good enough. We want more -- do you see some primary challenge?

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it all comes down to elections, right? I mean right now Democrats don't really have a lot of power because they've lost a bunch of elections. So if they can mobilize we're already seeing at the town halls. We're already seeing some Republican members really facing a lot of pressure at these local town halls. If that continues and they can continue that momentum, perhaps, they'll see a change. But I mean they can only complain so much because this is what --

REID WILSON, THE HILL: The question is how do they mobilize --.


WILSON: -- this energy that they have right now. Are they going to focus on winning back the U.S. Senate? At 2018 the map is terrible for Democrats. There are only like two, what is it, eight Republicans who were up and Dean Heller you've mentioned a few times is one of the few Republicans in senate bad shape, maybe and Jeff Flake too, I mean we're reaching here for seats that these can win back. Do they try to win for the House? Gerrymandering has made that a near impossibility.

The thing that Democrats should be focusing on right now and the place where they can really get some seats back at the table are governorships. There are huge --


WILSON: -- number of governorships that are up --


WILSON: -- in 2018. Democrats did horribly in 2010, in 2014 in those governorships. If they win back those seats and then seats in the State Houses around the country, they're going to have a foot most importantly in the door -- in the redistricting process which happens in 2020. That's a lot of thinking out to do about a process that's two, four, six years down the line. You know, I'm not sure that the people protesting outside Chuck Schumer's apartment in New York City are going to be thinking that far ahead.

KING: It is a reminder for those of us who live in Washington, and this is part of the recipe of Donald Trump's victory. Pay attention on what's happening out on the states, not just what's happening here in Washington.

Up next, President Trump says why he wants to keep American safe from terror. The media is covering up attacks.


[12:42:37] KING: In making the case for his travel ban, President Trump says priority one is keeping Americans safe from terrorism and he says, yes he says, the news media deliberately hides the depth of the danger.


DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: You've seen what happens in Paris and Nice, all over Europe, it's happening. It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported and, in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.


KING: From the administration that gave us alternative facts, I want to say respectfully, that's a parallel universe. That's a parallel universe. They did put out a list of 78 terror attacks, the White House, which it claims are underreported or unreported. I work at the network with the most global reach in television and I have a lot of colleagues who risk their lives everyday covering these stories and so, Mr. President, I'm sorry, that's wrong.

And we have lost people and we've lost, including Iraqi translators, people who have come to work for us to help us cover these stories, who have died out there. So Mr. President, you're wrong, but why? We talked a bit about this earlier. This is a trademark to the President.

He has every right and he campaigned on let's make the vetting process tougher, stronger, better. He has every right, he campaigned on it. Let's make border security more of a priority. But when he tries to sell these things, he says they are flooding across the border. His own homeland security secretary just commonly told the Congress, the numbers are actually down and most of the people are not murderers and rapists. They are fleeing oppression, poverty and crime in their own countries. Why does he do this?

MECKLER: Well, he has essentially to justify that he's ever challenged, it's -- the answer isn't well that he inflated it or that he overstated it or that the ban may have gone too far or even, let me give you a calm explanation of why this is more new ones. It's, you're wrong, you're ignoring this, you're lying. I mean this is -- it's sort of a signature in your face move.

And I think that in this case is, you know, if obviously if there are all these unreported attacks, all these massacres that we just, you know, purposely choose to ignore, well, then this travel ban is clearly necessary to protect us from these unknown things. But, in fact, you know, those things, as you said, were all reported.

ZELENY: And it's an effort for him, I believe, to take back the microphone a little bit in the hours leading up to these judges' hearing and ruling for him to explain why he is sort of doing this.

[12:45:05] And as Jackie said earlier, there haven't been any new attacks, thank God. And, you know, he's trying to revive some of the old ones. But I think that this is just him, again, trying to project strength. He needs an opponent. And in front of this media -- KING: You can project strength. In facts, you can say, I'm a Republican. I just won election from a Democratic administration. I don't think they were strong enough. And we're going to look at this.

KUCINICH: He also said I alone can fix this. And this, by making everyone else liars, by making all dissent not true, he is the arbiter of fact. He is the arbiter of keeping people safe and by centralizing that power, it gives him more power. It gives more power to the presidency. It doesn't give it to the Congress. It doesn't give to anyone else and it really is building reliance.

KING: I'm going to say it again. I say this a lot but if you're a Trump's supporter and you think we're having one of these, you know, fake news conversations. You can do this yourself. You can do this self. Go online. It's all archived. These things were covered. Exactly that way it should be known. We're not perfect in our business but do we cover this issue extensively, both online and on television and in the newspapers represented here, yes, we do.

WILSON: Two of the instances that they included on that list of 78 were the nightclub attacks in Orlando and the shootings in San Bernardino. (Inaudible) for the coverage of on San Bernardino and I happen to remember watching CNN and seeing it nonstop (inaudible). I just -- I don't understand this notion of, I mean revisionist history doesn't --

MECKLER: This show is cancelled the day of the Orlando attacks because I was supposed to be on that day. The show was canceled because of that.

KING: Sure. There was couple of day or couples someone who's been graceful to be around this table when we have to had to cancel to cover this conversation. Exactly right. I want to get back to Capitol Hill, a very important meeting just moment ago. We've talked about the pressure in Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in the United States Senate to block Trump appointing series (ph) with Judge Neil Grosuch.

The president's Supreme Court pick, most people think this one is going to get through even tough there's a lot of pressure on Democrats stopped. This is where those Trump-state Democrats will come into play if they have to get to 60 votes. The Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said, if necessary, he's prepared to go to the pair majority. He doesn't want to do that because it's a traditionalist and institutionalize (ph) but he says he's ready to do it.

Among those with a stake in this is take Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg who occasionally does public advance. And when she does, they're always quite entertaining. Justice Ginsburg spot health problems in recent years. So, she's often asked how long can hang in there especially by Democrats who don't want Donald Trump to replace her. This is Justice Ginsburg had state for last night.


UNINDITIFIED MALE: Who do you want to eat more kale in Washington? RUTH BADER GINSBURG, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: Justice Kennedy. There are three of us on the current court who are well beyond what the French call "a certain age, so it's Justice Breyer beyond this and the two octogenarians, Justice Kennedy and me. A very important part of my life is my personal trainer who's been with me since 1999 and now also trains Justice Kagan and most recently Justice Breyer.


KING: The question if you can hear at the top is who do you a want to eat more kale in Washington? Meaning was obviously somebody from the left perspective saying who do you want to stay healthy to stand the Supreme Court. So, the President Trump doesn't get another pick for the interest in there. We're going to leave it there so that we can talk in a minute. Our report share for the notebooks.

Next, getting you out ahead at some of big political news just around the corner including gearing up for yet another immigration battle in Washington.


[12:52:56] KING: Let's head around the "Inside Politics" table ask our great reporters to share their notebooks, get you ahead of some big political news. Laura?

MECKLER: Well, if all of this immigration controversy is enough for you, there are may be more just around the corner and that involves legal immigration system less -- getting less attention is the fact that Donald Trump also views legal immigrants as a threat to American workers and something that he thinks should be controlled.

There's a draft executive order circulating that would try to make major changes to a variety of programs, including H1B program for high-skilled foreign workers which Silicon Valley firms depend on as well as many others.

Now, of course, right now they are in a battle with Trump over the travel ban. They just filed a brief to the court saying why they thought it was ill-advised. So, I think that the tension you're seeing between these big tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google is just to more to come.

KING: More to come immigration.

ZELENY: Even there's the senator plowing through confirmation about this week, there's still a huge help wanted sign hanging out over this town. The number two, the number three, the number four positions across agencies in Washington, unfilled. Does it matter? Is government who oversized already? Not sure. But, the reality is, the empty hallways, the empty suites is a real issue here in Washington. At the State Department not a single press briefing has been held yet at this point. Eight years ago, 11 press briefings had been held. So, after the confirmation votes happen, the next thing is filling these positions inside that are also still unfilled remarkably here as we enter a month into the presidency. KING: And a critical. A lot of those people are on the day to day operation wings (ph) of the agencies. Reid?

ZELENY: They do.

WILSON: Outside of Washington, D.C, one of the most overlooked stories that's happening is a really aggressive push by Republicans and state legislatures to move forward on bunch of issues that they haven't been able to move forward on because Democrats have held positions of power in recent years. After November's elections, we've seen right to work bills passed in Kentucky and Missouri and New Hampshire coming next.

Labor unions have been undercut in Iowa where Governor Terry Branstad is working on some final things before it becomes ambassador to China. Abortion rights in a number of states, more than a dozen states are going to take up gun rights legislation.

All across the country, Republicans won big in state legislatures and they are using those wins to advance a pretty significant and aggressive agenda.

[12:55:13] KING: Said it before, say it again. Not election (ph) in Washington, Jackie?

KUCINICH: You know, over the weekend, Cuyahoga County, the largest in Ohio had 14 deaths due to opiate O.D. It's not bringing the total to 24 for the first days of February. This continues to just be a huge problem.

And it's a problem that President Trump campaign done, and said today he would address, spending access to addiction deterring drugs. Now, how he's going to do that is still a question. HHS nominee, Tom Price said he thinks that there should be access to these things, however, if the ACA is eliminated, we just don't know how that would work out. So, it's still an open question and this problem is not going away.

KING: Well, all wish the president, the new administration, the Congress, good luck in addressing that issue as we'll push. We'll be back after quick break, and as we go to break, just a quick glimpse, one more time.

New England Patriots celebrating the Super Bowl victory.

Mr. Brady there. Some in New England call him a different term.