Return to Transcripts main page
Deadline Day For Trump Admin To Reveal Wiretapping Evidence; Lawmakers Demand Evidence Of Trump's Wiretap Claim; Iowa Congressman Under Fire For Controversial Tweet. Aired 12:30-1p
Aired March 13, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:02] MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: -- that he's on the spot and doesn't want to answer the question, but an opportunity for the White House to deal with this now proactively. It's been more than a week. This is hangout, they are far too long. It's obviously there's no evidence that what he said exactly in that tweet is what happened. This is an opportunity for him to seize the blow (ph) by the horns, clarify it in a way that he's comfortable clarifying it and try to put this thing --
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT REPORTERS: And he's got no lifeline from Capitol Hill on this. I mean, it was interesting to see Mitch McConnell. I asked him at a news conference last Tuesday, "Have you seen any evidence yet?" And he turned to the next question ignoring the question, but then he turn back to me and he said, "No". And it was a calculated decision to say that, because he is frustrated just as another Republicans are. They don't want to be answering these kinds of questions.
AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: And Paul Ryan did the same thing.
RAJU: And Paul Ryan did the same thing. All Republicans have said that because they don't -- they want to send a message to the President. You can't say things like that.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They got a pretty hard task in front of them trying to dealing with tax reform, trying to deal with health care.
WALTER: Well, this is what they say, (inaudible) much bigger issue. And this issue -- I agree with Nia that it is just the latest in a string of things that he says and does that there's no evidence that it's true. He moves on, but here's a bigger problem right now, which is being able to pass a bill on health care that his party has talked about for the last eight years doing.
If this fails, that is a big, big deal and it -- the fracturing of his party is a very big deal. They have been united because of this belief that once in power, they can do all the things they dreamed of doing. And right now, they're watching it sort of filter away from them. RAJU: But I think it has a bigger impact on his credibility, saying these kinds of things and not turning out to be true it all if there is no evidence. Then we heard that he sell the American public on something very specific and a crisis, or what have you so they have a lot harder time. They allow higher bar --
WALTER: But a lot harder time so that --
WALTER: Well, it's just -- we've been polarized --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, that's just November 2015. Yeah.
WALTER: This is polarized today.
WALTER: You either believe him or you don't, nothing he says or does is going to change that.
J. KING: I think you raise that thing of fundamental question in time as we go forward is that, are we locked in this environment or Democrats make the case? What if they have to sell (ph) a rate on North Korea? What if they have to sell Iran is cheating on the nuclear deal?
Some Republicans quietly wonder, to your point, when we're trying to get tax reform, when we're trying to get health care, when we need that one vote, if his credibility deteriorates, does he loses this negotiate? We'll see how that placed out. I should know for the record here. The President was asked a question, a shouted question, at the top of the show.
We showed you that roundtable he had with people coming in to tell their Obamacare horror stories at the White House. Reporters try to shut a question asking where's the evidence in the wiretapping allegation and the President ignored that question. But he does have a press availability with the German chancellor tomorrow at the White House. Stay tuned.
And stay tuned for this. Up next, fired prosecutor is the deep stake and a blame game over why the Federal Government isn't as loyal as President Trump would like.
[12:36:52] J. KING: Welcome back. When David Duke tweets "God bless Steve King", it's a safe bet the Republican congressman from Iowa, once again, has some explaining to do. That issue of weekend King tweet praising the views of a far right candidate in the Netherlands, "Wilders understands the culture and demographics are our destiny. We cannot restore our destiny with somebody else's babies." Now that sentiment would be right at home on a white nationalist website. And, in fact, David Duke isn't the only peddler of hate praising Congressman King today. Here is the congressman at CNN this morning, defending his views and applying them to the American experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: We've also aborted nearly 60 million babies in this country since 1973. And there's been the separate as to we're going to have to replace that void with somebody else's baby. And that said push to bring in much illegal immigration into America, living in enclaves, refusing to assimilate into the American culture and civilization. Some embrace it, yes. But many are two and three generations living in enclaves that are pushing back now and resistance against the assimilation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. KING: I'm thinking of applying the old edge (ph) that I learn from my mother field. One, I think everyone's mother/father (inaudible) and if you don't have nice to say don't say anything at all.
J. KING: Maybe?
WALTER: Sit in silence maybe?
TALEV: Keep in silence with that.
RAJU: And it's not possible for Steve King. I mean, he is an immigration hard liner. He always has been --
J. KING: You can be in the immigration policy hard liner without saying that.
RAJU: That's true. He is known for going above and beyond where a lot of people -- even if they expose (ph) hard line immigration views, go, and he's putting this party in an awkward spot and we have to respond to this. Democrats putting out statement after statement saying it's time to Speaker Ryan, to disavow Steve King. We'll see if he does that. But, a lot of Republicans are uncomfortable about this, too.
Carlos Curbelo who's a congressman from a swing district in Florida coming out yesterday saying this is not -- I don't believe or agree with this at all. We'll see if others do it, too. Steve King is clearly in the minority.
J. KING: But let me bring in -- as you jump in, let me bring in that tweet you're talking about. Carlos Curbelo, that Latino member of Congress of Republican asked Steve King of Iowa, "What exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as someone else's baby? #concernedGOPcolleague."
HENDERSON: Yeah, yeah. I think the chairman of GOP in Iowa, he released a statement and essentially said he didn't agree with Steve King, that America is a nation of immigrants. And David Duke has no place in Iowa. He's not welcome in Iowa. Apparently Steve King is probably welcome in Iowa, and he's apparently spent a lot of time in Iowa, which is a pretty homogenous place.
At least his district is -- you know, I mean, I don't know if he's a white nationalist. I mean, he certainly sounds like one in those clips. Maybe he just plays one on T.V. or on Twitter, I don't know. But its, you know, and some people are saying that the environment we're in, in some ways allows Steve King to go a little further than he has before in previous --
WALTER: But this is the difference, too, between what is happening in Europe and what's happening here. And the challenge in Europe versus the challenge in America is that we do assimilate really well. And that's part of -- that's been what makes America so much better and so amazing about the way we've been able to bring in immigrants, and they do not isolate themselves.
[12:40:07] Sure, there are maybe communist that isolate themselves, but that's not our problem. That has been a problem in Europe. And Europe -- the way that Europeans, especially in France treat people coming in as immigrants, you can't wear the headscarves, you can't wear the full burqas to the beach, very different than what we have here. So, he's responding to something that isn't -- that also --
J. KING: It is something unique American experience although it seems to be an older American experience where sure there were tensions whether the Irish and the Italian and the Czechs and the Poles, it came from different places but they all shared something, which is they were white Europeans. And now we have a different diversity challenge for the country, which is a blessing. Some people look at it as a curse.
Let's listen to a little bit more the conversation, because if you listen to Steve King and says, "I'm not a racist", and insist this is about assimilation, it's about loving the American culture, it's about blending in, learning the English language which is very important. Listen to this as the conversation continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. KING: If you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I'd like to see an America that's just so homogenous that we look a lot the same form that perspective. I think there's been far too much focus on race, especially in the last eight years. And I want to see that put that behind us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. KING: Now, if you didn't know his history and if you didn't listen -- if you didn't read the tweet, you know, the other stuff, if you just look at that, down the road a few generations, intermarriage, America that looks so homogenous, you can -- I guess you can look at that as a good thing. You can look that as he's talking about, you know, eventually as more people get together, we have intermarriage on it or you can look at it, what else is he trying to say? I guess I look that as he trying to say a good thing or he's saying something alarming?
RAJU: I don't know.
RAJU: I think moneys and water is even further. I mean, was he criticizing intermarriage? Does he not believe different races, people different races should get married or --
J. KING: Because I'd like to see in America that's just so homogenous that we look a lot the same from that perspective.
HENDERSON: Yeah. I mean, like I said is it -- do people look like a Manu and me or they do like you? I mean, what is the homogeneity? I don't know. And why would anybody actually really want that. Really, we really want a country where everybody looks the same? That seems like a silly, idiotic idea and sort of dream. So, I don't know.
TALEV: That rhetoric sounds really different than the rhetoric of the tweet in the earlier part of the conversation. And I think for the Republican Party at large, one of the concerns or challenges is not that Republicans are going to jump onboard, you know, with Steve King or that he represents the party. But that at a time when you have the Trump travel ban, this discussions about, you know, what's the real American, what's an immigrant, what kind of immigrants are OK and such, that is just further antagonizes an issue that most of the party's leadership does not want to --
RAJU: Sean Spicer is supposed to address the President about the payment (ph) rate. But, what is he going to say? He's going to be asked the question how hard to leave that -- this down or help aggressively either. We resides that, but we'll see.
J. KING: All right. And the question -- this is come up, and sometimes you say OK, this is the generational thing or maybe I should listen to language, I should give him the benefit of the doubt or maybe he couldn't have possibly meant the way that is. The problem when it comes to something like this and this peculiar congressman is his history.
KING: Let's have a little bit history here.
WALTER: He's been doing this forever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. KING: I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization? We have to do something about the 11 million. And some of them are valedictorians. Well, my answer to that is -- and then by the way their parents brought them in, it wasn't their fault. It's true in some cases, but they aren't all valedictorians. They weren't all brought in by their parents. For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the dessert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. KING: It's the history.
WALTER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that idea of --
HENDERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, he's talking about subgroups and category -- yeah. I mean, he's talking about subgroups and categories.
WALTER: The issue is really keeping the -- keeping people out of America. I think, he is -- to your question about what does he want America to look like.
WALTER: That's fine if everybody here were able to intermingle, because we're all here as Americans.
HENDESON: And who does he wanted --
WALTER: If we don't want people coming in --
WALTER: -- we don't look --
HENDERSON: A certain way or subgroups or --
WALTER: Yeah. I mean, that's really the end of the day.
J. KING: Maybe congressman from a state that is predominantly white should get on the bus --
J. KING: -- and they've could see the other foreign (ph) in 34 districts in the United States of America. That would be my advice, travel.
HENDERSON: Good advice.
KING: It's a pretty nice place. You meet some interesting people. All shape, size and color they've kind of wonderful.
All right, you could say it's a throwback to the Obama era and now the fiscal fight looming over Capitol Hill. We'll discuss that next when our reporters empty their notebooks.
[12:49:06] J. KING: All right, welcome back. We surround our table with Reporters not pundits for good reason. Let's head around it, ask them
to share from their notebooks. Get you out ahead the big political news just around the corner. Margaret?
TALEV: This one flew beneath the radar for a quite a while, though now it's out on Twitter by the principal himself, Jason Greenblatt, who is the international negotiator from the Trump administration meeting in Israel, holding meetings this week with both, maybe, Netanyahu and with the Palestinians.
And this, again, was not touted by the Trump administration in the walk up to this trip, but is now out there. And this is the beginning of meetings and relationship developing between Greenblatt, between the White House and both Israelis and the Palestinians that may actually be the more important piece of this, P-I-E-C-E.
Too soon to call this a restart to the peace process, it's not that, but it is the relationship building that needs to take place in order for the U.S. to play a stronger role in that and we'll be watching this in the days and weeks to come.
KING: Amen. Good to meet. We'll keep an eye on that. Manu?
[12:50:00] RAJU: John, we've been focusing so much on Obamacare, another big parts of the Republican agenda, but one thing that's going to loom large over Congress is, how to fund the government. This has been, of course, an issue that the Republican and Democrats battled over during the Obama years.
April 28 is when current funding expires. Will they be able to get a bill passed and will not shut the government down? Already, Democrats are saying they will not accept any bill with so-called "poison bills" in their view, things that would block funding for Planned Parenthood or something that would actually demand the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico. They said they will not accept that.
And on top of that, they had to raise the debt ceiling sometimes soon, maybe in the next few months. That was a huge problem also during the Obama years. And on top of that also, a supplemental funding package if Congress -- if wants to -- will allow that wall to be built, a lot of fiscal problems ahead for Donald Trump.
J. KING: You say April 28?
J. KING: That's a day 99 of the Trump presidency, I think. Timing, timing is everything in politics. Nia?
HENDERSON: A new report out from the American Society of Engineers, John, I think you are part of that.
J. KING: A founding member.
HENDERSON: Yes, yes. In your report on the infrastructure and the grade is not good, it's a D plus and this is the same grade that American infrastructure got in 2013. We, of course, know that Donald Trump has floated this idea of $1 trillion infrastructure package. This report actually says it takes $2 trillion to get American infrastructure up to a B grade by 2025.
We know that this is often an administration that doesn't like reports and findings and -- but this, I think, will be a report that they might use. We also know other Republicans aren't too keen on infrastructure spending, but this is an ammunition.
J. KING: D plus?
HENDERSON: Yes, D plus, not a good grade.
J. KING: They've never driven in the streets of Washington. Way to off of this.
WALTER: Yeah. Well, there's a reason that people that you know, either never met anybody that likes Donald Trump or never met anybody that doesn't like Donald Trump. We crunched the numbers. My colleague, David Wasserman, at the Cook Political Report, we found there are fewer counties now than ever that voted that are what we call swing districts. 60 percent of counties in this country gave 60 percent of their vote or more for one candidate or the other. There are only 10 percent of counties in this country where either Trump or Hillary Clinton won by single digits.
So fewer and fewer counties, fewer and fewer people live in areas where they might meet somebody that voted for somebody that they don't like or that they --
KING: Political self-segregation, one of the big issues in the country, actually when it comes to that word respect.
Thanks for joining us on "Inside Politics." Just moments away from the White House press briefing, a lot of questions for Sean Spicer about wiretapping, about Obamacare, a whole lot more. Stay right here. Wolf Blitzer will bring you that live in just a minute.
[12:57:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
We begin with breaking news over at the White House any moment now. The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will come up, make a few statements to the press and take questions. Two of the bigger topics of discussion expected to be health care and phone taps.
Spicer is expected to face questions on President Trump's allegations that his phone over at Trump Tower in New York City was tapped during the campaign out of orders from the former President Barack Obama. When asked about it today, the presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway said, she has no evidence, but also said that's not her job.
Earlier over at the White House, President Trump held what was called a listening session on health care meeting with Americans that had issues with Obamacare once it was implemented. The President admitted that under the new plan, the lowering prices could take a couple of years, but also said that Republicans are saving the American people from he said, were the worst effects of Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And the Republicans frankly are putting themselves in a very bad position. I tell this to Tom Price all the time, by repealing Obamacare because people aren't going to see the truly devastating effects of Obamacare. They're not going to see the devastation in '17 and '18 and '19. It will be gone by then. It will -- whether we do it or not, it will be imploded off the map.
So the press is making it look so wonderful, so that if we end it everyone is going to say, "Oh, remember how great Obamacare used to be. Remember how wonderful it used to be. It was so great." It's a little bit like President Obama, when he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much. That's the way life goes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, on the wiretap issue, Republican Senator John McCain challenged President Trump to either provide evidence to back up that claim or retract the statement and apologize. What do you expect to hear from Sean Spicer?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Senator McCain said exactly that on Sunday and he said that the President owes that not only to the intelligence committees, but also to the American people to provide that evidence or issue of retraction.
Now, we have not seen the President answer any questions on this. He was asked about this a short time ago when he was talking about health care, again, he declined to answer those questions. But, Wolf, this is a deadline today for the Department of Justice to submit any information, any evidence, if there is any to those House and Senate intelligence committees. So we will see if that happens.
But, Wolf, the Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not been willing to offer any evidence or go beyond what they have said all last week. So, I expect he'll be asked about it and expect the answers will largely be the same, Wolf.
BLITZER: I suspect you're right on that.
Jeff, we also could here as early as today from the Congressional Budget Office, which will lay out details on the Republicans plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, that would include how much it will cost, how many people will get that kind of insurance. How important --