Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Delivers First Speech To Congress; Intel Chairs With Conflicting Views On Russia-Trump Probe; Dems: Burr, Who Defended White House Over Probe Is On Notice; Trump: "I Think Obama Is Behind Leaks"; Trump: We Will Soon Have One-Party System. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired February 28, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: Increasing military spending in America first economy, rewriting trade relationships around the world. It's complicated stuff and yet the Republicans want some help, but this President also wants to -- this is a chance to convince people 40 days in when he knows a lot of the countries not so sure about him that he's making progress.
STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: Let me talk about the part of the country that's not so sure about him, because that archival tape, John, reminds us that this is a ritual. That certain things don't change. Each president standing in front of the American flag, standing in front of the vice president, awake or asleep. Standing in front the speaker of the House, walks in after being announced by the sergeant-at-arms, shakes hands with many people.
There are many parts of this that are ritual to happen every single time. And this is a very unique President who has not said a lot about what he thinks about democracy, what he think about the current system except that they are parts of it that he does want to disrupt and he does want to blowup.
My colleague Ron Elving was pointing out recently that this is a moment when our President who may have come from outside the system may get absorbed by the system, is accepting as part of the system. And so, does he embrace that or push against it? That's the two choices that he faces in this particular reach wall (ph).
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I think meeting the moment here, I mean, he still has a lot of supporters out there without a doubt. And a lot of people want him to do well. A lot of people want disruption here. And the market is doing, you know, its on fire. So there still -- he enters this evening, you know, with a ton of advantages.
I think the question is can he meet the moment of this moment? Is he the man for this moment? I think that we see all people in the Oval Office sort of grow into this power. And looking back at those pictures, we see how young they look. I mean, this is a 70-year-old President here who's going to grow in office. But I think tonight is a chance for him to sort of put some order to his presidency and reframe the opening moments here.
If he wants to or if he can simply use it as a chance to fire up his base, we've been told again and again that's going to be optimistic. Uplifting. That's in the eye of the beholder I think as you said a couple days ago. And I would look it to be chose (ph) in his side.
KING: But I think if he wants it part (ph) it's very important because a lot of people have been saying when is he going to reach out to the Clinton supporters, when is he going to reach out to the skeptics in the country, when is he going to reach out the Democrats here in town. To your point which is an excellent and a very important but the Democrats haven't done a lot about each either.
So if you're Donald Trump and you know they're not going to come your way, do you try to play what we've seen so far? Watch the CPAC speech last week. Watch his executive action so far. This has been about fidelity for the people who sent him here and everybody else can wait.
ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. I will say this is going to be, at least, they hope teleprompter speech. And during the campaign covering him, I was struck by when he reads off the teleprompter and when he sticks to script, which to be clear is not that often. He can really go out and sell that message.
He -- in the moment, he chose to be unifying or read those words. He really sold it credibly like sort of the salesman and showman that he is. So again, to Jeff's point, if he wants to do that, I have no doubt that that's something he could absolutely convey this evening. It's just a question of, is he doing that or is he reflecting sort of the dark Bannon, Steven Miller, populist world view.
KING: There's also we focus in Washington. We work here so we always stress the importance of the presidency and congress. Some of these things are out of a president's control. Now that doesn't mean -- you mentioned the booming stock market. One of the reasons the market is booming is because businesses think they're going to get tax reform. And I think they're going to get regulatory rollback. That's a direct result of the election.
But listen to the President here in this Fox & Friends interview because the -- I think the ultimate part, we're greeting (ph) in a 40 days. When we come back at one year, two years, three years, and we're gearing up for 2020, this is the biggest question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think the money is going to come from a revved up economy. I mean, you look at the kind of numbers we're doing, we were probably GDP of a little more than 1 percent. And if I can get that up to 3 or maybe more, we have a whole different ball game. It's a whole different ball game. And that's what we're looking to do. (END VIDEO CLIP) KING: I mean, he's right. Go back to the Clinton years it's a whole different ball game in any number of voice (ph). Number one, people out there are happy. If their economy is raving up and you have probably have a job and your wages are going up. But in this town, that means more tax money is coming in even if they cut taxes, there's more coming in a booming economy and that makes every decision easier. John McCain can get more defense and they all cut the State Department as much and you can still cut taxes -- I mean, we're talking about the maneuvering in Washington. But the central question for this presidency is does that growth number come up.
ZELENY: Without question, I think also many House Republicans are looking for him to embrace tax reform, what specifically is that going to be. I'm told by three specific Republicans on the Hill on each side that they're expecting an earthquake tonight in their words in terms of tax reform, in terms of some big things. So will that be support for the border adjustment to tax which he's been on all sides of that issue or will it not?
That would make Speaker Ryan (INAUDIBLE) and hug him perhaps. But it might make Mitch McConnell sort of, you know, upset. So I think that look what he says tonight about tax reform because the market certainly will be.
KING: All right. We another family feud, the disagreements between the House leadership and some who are on the Tea Party people and then on the Senate side about the border adjustment tax and see if the President can resolve some of these differences.
And just a reminder as we go to break, you should the President Trump's first address to Congress right here live on CNN. That will be followed by the Democratic response and reaction across the country. Our special coverage starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
[12:35:19] Up next, the Democrats in the White House is trying to cook the books. Republican say, Democrats are peddling scandal with no facts. The election is long over but not the Russian meddling debate.
KING: Welcome back. If the goal is an open minded, just the facts investigation of anything, it's refreshing when the conversation goes something like this. This is Angus King, independent senator for Maine who generally resides with the Democrats..
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR ANGUS KING (I), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I talked with two or three Republicans yesterday. They are absolutely committed. I talked to Marco Rubio, he said I'm not going to be part of a white wash and I'm not going to be part of a witch hunt. And I thought that was a pretty good way to put it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:40:14] KING: That is a pretty good way to put it. Have an open mind, follow the facts. The context there is the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into alleged campaign your contacts between several Donald Trump associates and prominent Russians.
But its Capitol Hill after all. It's not all Kumbaya. Even some Republicans are questioning actions by the Republican chairman of the Senate Review. And on the House side, there's open tension between the Republican chairman and the Intel Commit Committee's top Democrat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: That is complete nonsense. That's just off saying before you begin the investigation because you haven't started it yet, you should never start it because you don't have the evidence. That's nonsense.
REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES (R) CHAIRMAN INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: They can say whatever they want but at the end of the day, I hold the gavel. They're in the minority. And we're going do what we want to do. We have the votes. And were been elected to do that. If that ever changes, then obviously that would be different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ouch. It's a partisan town. There is gambling in the casino and there's partisanship and politics in Washington. But this is interesting in the sense that these things seemed like especially on the Senate side they were off to it -- a good bipartisan turn down the temperature start but there's a lot of suspicion right now.
INSKEEP: Because Richard Burr was asked to help knock down a story by the White House. Richard Burr being the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. With that said though, when you talk with people around that Senate Committee, you find Democrats as well as Republicans who take Richard Burr seriously who take him at his word and maybe a little beyond his word that he wants a serious investigation here.
A remark was made earlier on this program which is far as I understand it is, true, though, the Senate investigation hasn't really begun. They're still talking with the intelligence agencies about what they would investigate, about what documents they would ask for, about what information they would get. And the important thing there is it's so very, very, very early, which means if there is a serious investigation, it's going to be a very long drip, drip, drip for the White House.
KING: Right. And so on the Senate side, Susan Collins, another member of that committee, she said, we have to be careful about creating any appearance the integrity the investigation has been compromised. Then she goes on to say to your point, she accepts Chairman Burr's word that maybe you shouldn't done this but OK, he gets it, they're going to go forward.
On the House side, a lot of Democrats say well, Devin Nunes, why is he saying we have no evidence when, to Steve's point, they're just starting. And so that, you know, they haven't had testimony. But he keeps saying there's no evidence. I'm going to call these people up before the committee. And Democrats are starting to mumble under their breath, you know, he was part of the Trump transition. He has no standing here.
ZELENEY: And every time he says something like that, reporters and others asked the leadership if they agree with him. And then Speaker Ryan say this morning, no, we are going to look under every stone. So, I'm not sure that it's all that helpful by the chairman to be saying that.
But there on the Senate side, Senator Burr, I think this is also -- I would be surprised if we see him have any more contact with the White House, calling reporters and things. This is something that is going to go on for a long time.
And to Steve's point, the drip, drip, drip, this is something that is going to potentially affect everything else. This is something that is going to be background music, if you will, potentially for -- you know, I don't know if the whole year, but potentially I guess beyond that.
KING: And I think your point about the speaker said this morning, when we look under every stone, was a message to all of the other Republicans. Just turn down the volume.
KING: Get this right. Don't let it be a distraction on the other big things we need to do. This is one of the issues though in which there have been a lot of leaks in town and the President doesn't like leaks. It's not just about the investigation. The President, specially, doesn't like those leaks because they're often trying to bad lie (ph) the administration.
There's been leaks about White House infighting and the stuff and all that. Listen to the President on Fox News this morning explaining where he thinks these are coming from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, you never know what's exactly happening behind the scenes. You know, you're probably right or possibly right, but you never know. No, I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it. And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, you know, some of the leaks which are really very serious leaks because they are very bad in terms of national security. But I also understand that's politics. And in terms of him being behind things, that's politics. And it will probably continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's pretty awesome power for the former president if we believe that -- if that's true.
PARKER: Well, yes. Obama, we have in a very busy post presidency behind all these leaks, behind all of these mass protests, he's certainly keeping busy. But let's keep in mind that one part of this investigation on the Senate side that the White House may like, and of course, they don't like the part looking into their contact potentially with the Russians but is investigating the actual leaks and where they came from. And that is something that the White House is very eager to get to the bottom of, and this investigation could help and we can find out if it's President Obama or not. KING: And the House chairman into that. To be fair to what the President was saying there, the President's former political organization is organizing them to go out this demonstration. It's one of the many progressive groups organizing people to go out. And there are a lot of Obama holdovers still in the government that could potentially be the sources of these some leaks, so that's the President's responsibility as much as anything because they've been so slow filling, these are important jobs.
INSKEEP: You also have people on the President side who are leaking. You have a president who's got a long running relationship with the media. And can I just speak up for leaks for just a moment?
[12:45:18] KING: Amen, brother.
INSKEEP: I don't -- obviously, we've got an interest here. And I don't mean every leak. Some of them are bad. Some of them release horrible secrets but we live in a democracy. And one of the ways that we have a public discussion about sensitive issues is through people talking anonymously from time to time. It's not always for that.
KING: But I want to work in one more issue, about the teleprompter (ph) tonight. We talked earlier about how, look, the Democrats have already decided they don't like this speech before they hear it. The question is will the President reach out at all? In that same interview, he talk about Nancy Pelosi. And I would think the outreach is not going to happen tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I've been watching Nancy's tape. And so I think she's incompetent actually. You know, if you look at what's going on with the Democrats and the party, it's getting smaller and smaller. You know, in a certain way, I hate to see it because I like a two-party system and we're soon going to have a one-party system. I actually think a two-party system is healthy and good. But she's done a terrible job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So she's wrong.
TRUMP: Well, I don't think she's a good spokesman. She's certainly wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He say my favorite part that was I've been watching Nancy's -- I think his statements are tape at the top of that. He's a good -- he's a T.V. guy.
ZELENY: And he probably has been watching that. You know, he -- I think he is wrong in the sense that we're overarching (ph) total of one-party system but he's not wrong in the sense of the Democrats and deter and the wilderness here. And not just in that chamber tonight but in state Capitol across the country.
And as the census comes up during his presidency, all these districts are going to be redrawn. So he's right in the sense the Republicans have the upper hand here. Now, of course, that changes every time. If you go back and look at the presidents there, most of them in their first speech had a member of their own party behind them. That often changes in the midterm elections here. So, you know, 2018, not that far.
KING: I think the Republicans would be happy if you just focus on a one-party system for now. If you look at the level (ph) to two-party system down the line a little bit everybody say (INAUDIBLE).
Our reporters share their notebook next, including the President making a rare visit to a blue state. The reason for that road trip? Up next.
[12:51:38] KING: Welcome back. Let's close as we always do. Head around the Inside Politics table. Let's ask our great reporters to share from their notebooks and get you out head the big political news just around the corner. Ashley Parker?
PARKER: So I look most people now are obsessed with the Trump voter. And I've been going back to some of the people I spoke to during the campaign and seeing what they think about five weeks into his presidency. And these Trump supporters deeply like what he's done including a lot of his controversial move. These people praise the immigration ban (INAUDIBLE), the border wall. The one compliant I heard was that he hadn't stuck by General Flynn.
So that's another reminder that tonight he really does have two audiences, the people in the room and the people back at home who want him to keep his campaign promises.
KING: And like -- or not to his credit, he has spoke down those promises. What's that, Jeff?
ZELENY: Like the most president, this one is taking his message on the road this week after the speech is going through Virginia. His first time visiting a blue state, I believe, since the election, he's been spending a lot of time in the red states. He will be giving a speech on the military in other things in Newport News, Virginia on the deck of the USS Gerald Ford we're told.
And he is going to be making this case of course. But the question that I have I think that that hangs over his entire presidency, can his movement got him to the White House help him govern? How will that happen?
When things start to get rough in the Republican Party, will, you know, his supporters in the movement actually propel some of those Republicans along here? So he begins that even though it's in a blue state, a lot of Republicans in southern Virginia. He starts that later this week.
KING: It would be fun to watch. President on the road. Steve? INSKEEP: I've been thinking about automation. Huge, huge source of loss of manufacturing jobs in this country. Much larger, for example, than trade deals according to economists. It's something that's on the minds of people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk. It's something in their minds, in some people in Congress that I've talked with.
But nobody has figured out how to talk about it in a political sense. How you do address that loss of jobs at this moment when jobs for ordinary people, for blue color people are supposed to be at the center of the agenda.
KING: No ones figured out a way to talk about that as supposed to blaming -- trying to blaming out. But that's an interesting point. It's very -- somebody will figure it out. Jackie?
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: So, we were talking about how Trump's hardest sell tonight on health care might be with Republicans. And Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus who opposed the Republican plan of the draft that's come out, indicated how hard that may be. Told reporters today after the weekly Republican meeting that more than 22 members opposed this plan. I mean, they don't have the votes yet to get this through.
When asked whether Trump would be able to kind of convince them -- and David Bruton is another member of the Freedom Caucus said, I hope he doesn't buy into this plan. So he's starting from a very tough place tonight with some members on his own party.
KING: That's fascinating to see if President figured out. We'll circle back with those guys tomorrow.
KING: (INAUDIBLE) success. Tonight isn't just the first for President Trump. Democrats get their first opportunity to respond to a prime-time presidential address in its Trump years.
The perfect opportunity to show case a fresh face, right? But the Democrats instead chose a 72-year-old former governor, Steve Beshear of Kentucky. Now Democrats believe (ph) Beshear is the goal standard in using Obamacare to dramatically spend health coverage in a red state nonetheless (ph) Kentucky.
So from a messaging standpoint, there's good logic to this choice. But it's also a pretty stark reminder of the party's week bench and generational challenge. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is 76. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, 66. And the Democrats control just 16 of the nation's 50 governorships.
Most of the focus tonight will be on the balance of power here in Washington but Governor Beshear's democratic response, a pretty stark reminder of Democratic struggles out there across America.
[12:55:04] Thanks for joining us today on "Inside Politics." We'll be right back here tomorrow to analyze the President's speak-speech. Wolf Blitzer up next with much more on the President's speak-speech tonight. Wolf will talk with lawmakers on both sides. All that right after a quick break.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Where ever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us today.
Donald Trump preparing for the most crucial speech of his presidency so far. You are looking at live pictures from Capitol Hill where the President will address a joint session of Congress tonight. The stakes are very high but the President says his goal is simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All I can do is speak from the heart and say what I want to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The White House says the President will strike a hopeful tone in contrast images of American carnage you may remember in his inaugural address. The theme tonight, renewal of the American spirit and optimistic --