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Trump Fails to Deliver Obamacare Replacement; Republicans Finger-Pointing After Health Bill Fails; President Trump and the Truth; GOP Intel Chair Cancels Public Russia Hearing. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 26, 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): A stunning Republican failure.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us.
KING: The speaker mans up, but the president passes the buck and the blame.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare. They own it.
KING: Plus, more trouble with the truth and the FBI has a giant cloud.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
KING: Just ten weeks on the job and giant questions about the president's political sway and the GOP's ability to govern.
TRUMP: We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty.
KING: INSIDE POLITICS, biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.
KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your Sunday morning.
If you're President Trump and looking for a silver lining, you have to think that this week can't be worse than last week.
This was Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And this was Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I spoke to the president just a little while ago, and I told him that the best thing I think to do is to pull this bill and he agreed with that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Trademark to say the least that after the new Republican president failed at his first big legislative test, a Republican-only effort to repeal Obamacare, he blamed the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare, they own it, 100 percent own it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev of "Bloomberg Politics", CNN's Manu Raju, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, and Jennifer Jacobs of "Bloomberg Politics".
Let's remember, Donald Trump won the presidency with a crystal clear brand -- strength, winning, dealmaking to fix a broken Washington. In the health care push that collapsed Friday, he was too weak to sway fellow Republicans. He lost. He could not close the deal he promised from day one of his campaign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have to repeal Obamacare, and it can be -- and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody, but much better and much less expensive for people and for the government, and we can do it.
So, I've watched the politicians. I've dealt with them all my life. If you can't make a good deal with a politician, then there's something wrong with you. You're certainly not very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: After a certainly not very good experience and week, the president wants to turn the page.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Certainly was an interesting period of time. We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote-getting process. We learned a lot about some very arcane rules in obviously both the Senate and in the House. So, it's been certainly -- for me, it's been a very interesting experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, let's start there. What did he learn?
JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Well, this is not the first time that president Trump has been tripped up by the written or unwritten rules of politics. I mean, remember, he lost the popular vote. His initial ban on travel from these Muslim countries. He lost his choice for labor secretary, his army secretary pick.
So, this is definitely not his first loss, but he did learn a lot about, you know, loyalty and who he can trust. It's very true.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: But, John, it's hard to overstate so significant of a loss this is. I mean, the Republican base, the party has been clamoring for this for seven years. This has been their central campaign promise.
The real ramifications, he's ready to move on. Donald Trump is ready to move on. The question is, is the Republican base ready to move on? Are they -- do they believe that it's time to give up on repealing and replacing Obamacare less than three months into a new administration?
And if they can't ever do anything in this Congress, which they probably won't, what will that mean for 2018, keeping control of the House and now, there are significant fears that keeping control of the Senate because the base could be depressed and may not come out and support them if they can't deliver the central promise.
KING: And we know from the campaign and from the president, Donald Trump is a transactional person. So, he wants to turn the page and move on. That didn't work, I'm not touching that again. Let's just move on and go.
But the question is, what lesson did you learn? You can say you're going to move on. But if you've blown the road full of potholes and you have no tires, and there's questions about the engine, moving on, you know, you've got to fix the car first.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt, and overhauling the tax system, any tax reform now is so much more difficult and more expensive. It's the whole shebang here.
But I'm told there were meetings over the weekend in the White House to still look at health reform. They are moving on in the short term, but they know this is still this big albatross that hangs over the party.
[08:00:03] And Manu is right about 2018. Republicans will demand that they do something.
And Mike Pence, the vice president, was in West Virginia on Saturday still talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare. KING: And he said -- he said it was a victory for the status quo.
The whole raison d'etre of Donald Trump's campaign for president was to fix this town and to end the status quo. His own vice president saying, the status quo wins.
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: I think there are two lessons or concerns that emerge from this. One is credibility and the other is the fear factor, the power factor, right? President Trump's credibility is seriously jeopardized by what happened and so, perhaps is his ability to scare people in the future into doing what he wants.
KING: In districts where he got 60 percent and 70 percent of the vote, those House members said, "Mr. President, you're great. I'm not going to get the vote."
ZELENY: And that's one question I am told by a couple of members of Congress, that he would ask them, the president would ask them, and when they were inside the Oval Office, how much did I win your district by? How much did I win your district by? And they were sort of like, let's talk about the bill, Mr. President, let's talk about the bill, Mr. President.
He was not focused on the details here, but at end of the day, the consequences of defying him in the short term appear to not be much, but it's a long game here. We don't know --
KING: It's a long game, it's a long game, but this is the point I'm trying to figure out what did he learn from this? Because you mentioned these meetings. One of the things we know from all the great reporting people have done on these meetings is the president would tell the members of the freedom caucus, conservative members who don't believe in a big federal government, who really want to repeal Obamacare. They're not at all interested in a federal role in replacing Obamacare.
The president would say, I don't want to focus on little I'll say stuff. It's 8:00 in the morning on a Sunday. He did not say stuff. I don't want to focus on it.
You cannot pass something as complicated as health care and something that divides your party as much as something like health care and tax reform is next and then trade without focusing on the little stuff. That's his job.
RAJU: Yes, and he never seemed personally invested in this bill, not really barnstorming the country as some thought he would to draw public support for it and get behind this bill. He, of course, didn't want to call it Trump care. He -- this was a bill that was written by members of Congress.
This is much different than President Obama, who really was personally invested in health care and did the joint address to Congress in 2009, of course, the famous one where the Republican Congressman Joe Wilson said "you lie". And he owned it even though it was incredibly unpopular, Obamacare was, at the time of passage. But Donald Trump never seemed fully to embrace this proposal even
though he did support it and that made it really hard for a lot of members to get behind it, too, knowing that that was the case.
JACOBS: He gave very slight applause for it at beginning. I wasn't, you know, until a couple of days that he gave a really full-throated endorsement of it.
KING: All right. Well, we know he likes wing and this is what's happening. This is yesterday morning. This is in central Pennsylvania, one of those places where Donald Trump surprised everybody. A blue state area where Donald Trump won.
The headline is pretty bad. Obamacare fails and then you talk health care will stay with Trump.
This is Arizona, another red state. GOP pulls its plan to kill Obamacare. The first line of this story in a humiliating failure.
Donald Trump doesn't like this. So, back to the lessons. You heard at the beginning of the show. He said I learned a lot about the loyalty.
Well, right after at that very same event, he said, "I like Speaker Ryan. Speaker Ryan is working very hard. Speaker Ryan has to deal with all these factions of the Republican Party."
And then yesterday, the president tweets, tune into Fox News last night at 9:00. Everybody says, oh, is he going to call in and do an interview? Oh, does Judge Jeanine have some exclusive on Donald Trump? Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house. The reason: he failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: The president of the United States is giving a preview. Obviously, he knew what was going to be broadcast last evening.
There's no question the relationship between the president and the speaker was never very good. Now, it's fractured. But the reality is, they have to work together, at least for the short term here.
But in terms of lessons learned, you don't learn lessons by assigning blame. Even before this bill failed on Friday, starting Thursday evening, the White House was already saying, oh, it's Paul Ryan's fault, it's the speaker's fault. The blame game up and down Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday was
extraordinary, and that is not how you learn lessons to go forward here. So, I think unless, you know, there's any self-reflection, I'm not sure what you learned.
KING: Yes, out of White House, we heard it's the speaker's fault. It's Pelosi and Schumer's fault straight from the president. And then they started talking about why was Jared Kushner, the son in law, out of town, it was on spring break with his kids out skiing.
They were blaming everybody except for looking in the mirror and saying that, you know, we didn't do this. The president didn't do this right.
The question is, where do we go from here? Because the president essentially, he said, look, Obamacare is going to explode this year. He used explode. Others use implode.
He's the fire chief now. Yes, Obamacare was put in place in the previous administration, but you can't show up at a fire and say, oh, that one started out of the last guy. I'm not going to put it out, or can he?
TALEV: Yes. No, he's got a few choices. One is, this seems impossible given the rhetoric of the last couple of days, but one is to actually pivot and attempt to work with Democrats.
[08:10:04] I'm not sure why Democrats would do that given his standing in the polls.
KING: They won't.
TALEV: And given the fact he says this is really Schumer and Pelosi are the losers.
But that could be an option, but to do that you'd have to decide you're actually going to save Obamacare and re-brand it and call it something different, or really mend fences with the Republicans and try to take a leadership role in bringing that caucus together, which is also hard to do if you're playing the blame game.
KING: These are policy differences. This is not, I don't like you, or this is not, you know, he's in -- he still thinks he's in the campaign from his perspective, you know, lyin' Ted and little Marco and Rand Paul didn't get a nickname, because he was just the guy who was always way down there in the campaign. He's thought, in the campaign, these guys say I don't pay attention to detail, they say, I don't know this policy, they say I'm not a real Republican, but he won. But he won. He thinks this.
The question is, where do go forward? If you look at what he wants to do in the first 100 days, he wanted to repeal Obamacare, he failed. His travel is blocked, tied up in the court. He did get approval, the executive action to approve the Keystone pipeline, that's one thing.
His border wall, who knows? Mexico is certainly not going to pay for it, at least they say they're not and who knows if Republicans will give them money for it.
China trade, he said he would declare China a currency manipulator. He's backed away from that. We could have a longer list of things he promised in the first 100 days that either have disappeared or nowhere near the finish line.
The question is, when he comes to work on Monday morning, what does he think he has to do differently?
JACOBS: Well, the Keystone Pipeline permit was a promise kept. That's been a little bit lost this week in all of his failures, because you cannot overstate how disastrous Friday was for him. But the Keystone pipeline was something and he will move forward with various energy and various things that are related to jobs.
RAJU: But, you know --
ZELENY: All 35 of them for the keystone pipeline. Even if you talk to Republicans from the states like Nebraska, South Dakota, and other places, the Keystone pipelines, yes, they won it but it's a relic of yesterday. It is not a forward looking agenda item.
So, they rolled that out pretty quickly Friday morning because they knew that the vacuum was sort of consuming them here.
JACOBS: Veterans are another thing, too. I want to point out, there a lot of people pushing him right now to jump on something that's bipartisan and helping veterans and reforming the V.A. Department is something he could seize on and they are definitely pressuring him to do that.
RAJU: The question is, what big legislative item? Of course, they want to move to tax reform next. That is incredibly difficult. There's a reason why tax reform has not been successful in the last 30 years. Very difficult to get bipartisan support.
He's going to have to trust Paul Ryan to do it. Will he trust Paul Ryan going forward? There are significant policy differences between House Republicans and Senate Republicans. He's going to have to referee that in which side will he come down.
KING: That's where we're going to go next, to the Republican Senate. If you're Paul Ryan do you think the president really has your back after what he did yesterday? I think not.
Up next, growing pains or irreconcilable differences. Who knew the Republican Party is complicated? So, can it govern?
First, though, politicians say the darnedest things, Supreme Court confirmation edition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: John Hancock is now synonymous with a signature. No one remembers who John Hancock was but they know that that's a signature, because he wrote his name so bigly -- big and boldly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just said bigly.
GORSUCH: I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And -- and I just won five bucks.
GORSUCH: You embarrassed me in front of my nephew, and he loves it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the one paying me the five bucks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:17:53] KING: Welcome back.
Repealing Obamacare has been issue one for Republicans in the last four election cycles. In 2010, it helped them take back the House. In 2014, it was key to adding control of the Senate, and back to work this year after the 2016 vote gave the White House the vote, too -- well, Speaker Paul Ryan was excited and emphatic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: This is just not a matter of us keeping our promise to the American people. This is a rescue mission. We are on a rescue mission to prevent Obamacare from making things even worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: On Friday, after a stunning setback, that same Paul Ryan announced the Republicans are cancelling their rescue mission and breaking their promise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I don't know what else to say is to say Obamacare is the law of the land. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Politically, a huge embarrassment. Republicans for seven years were tripping over each other to scream repeal Obamacare. But once given the responsibility to govern could not settle deep policy differences over how to replace it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains and while we're feeling those growing pains today. I will not sugarcoat this, this is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Doing big things is hard.
We started the last conversation what lesson does the president learn? What lesson does the speaker learn? He could not have been surprised by the difficulty of this. He clearly was surprise he wasn't able to resolve the difficulty of this.
What now for him?
RAJU: Well, this is the first real legislative test for Paul Ryan. I mean, even though he's been the speaker since the fall of 2015. Remember when John Boehner left he, quote/unquote, "cleared the barn", got rid of all the things, got rid of big fiscal fights and 2016 was not a governing year on Capitol Hill. They put together their election year pamphlet, saying how they are going to run. It was the speaker owes so-called benter way agenda that included some of the top line items on how to deal with health reform.
This was the first test of trying to get put together a coalition and a house that's been very difficult to govern and he failed at it. So, the question is, where does he go from here?
[08:20:02] One thing is that it's difficult to cut deals without significant buy-in from key factions within your caucus. He thought he did have much of his conference on board. That was not the case, and he wanted to move very quickly, and it's very difficult to move very quickly on such a complicated issue. You really needed time to build consensus and that clearly didn't happen here.
KING: They thought clearly, the speaker did, I don't think a lot of people around the president as well, that this idea we have to govern now, we have a responsibility was enough of a motivating force to get people to say, all right, I'm going to vote for this bill even though it's got some things that I can't stomach in it. You mentioned the various people of the caucus.
But this is their responsibility. Listen to Speaker Ryan as he says he's trying to -- the president we're told wanted an enemies list and have the vote or at least a list of the people who said they were going to vote no, so he could do trademark Trump counterpunching. We're told the speaker said, no. No, no, no. I'm mad at him, I'm probably more madder than you are, Mr. President, but I need to work with these people going forward.
Here was his message after where the speaker was trying to say, people, think about why this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: All of us, myself included, we will need time to reflect on how we got to this moment, what we could have done to do it better. But ultimately, this all kind of comes down to a choice.
Are all of us willing to give a little to get something done? Are we willing to say yes to the good, to the very good, even if it's not the perfect? Because if we're willing to do that, we still have such an incredible opportunity in front of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He's being optimistic there, but issue here is a moderate Republican from New Jersey and Pennsylvania just has a fundamentally different view of the role of the federal government whether it's health care, tax reform, on and on and on, than a freedom caucus member from North Carolina or somewhere from the south.
TALEV: This might sound too obvious to even be a point, but I think one thing he's learned is that President Trump is not his friend and he can't really completely trust the White House and that's important. I mean, just instructive to know going forward when you figure out how to play this, right? He -- loyalty is the most important thing. OK, I totally stand by Paul Ryan and everybody at the White House is saying we're going to throw Paul Ryan under the bus.
Paul Ryan needs to lead his caucus and try to figure out how to help President Trump. The way to help President Trump is how to help himself. He has to figure out what the levers are that he has inside his own caucus and what his levers are with the White House and this president.
KING: The president outsourced writing the bill, to a large part. It's not fair to say Ryan wrote the whole bill. Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, the White House was a part of the negotiations. But they outsourced at least the leadership to Ryan in writing the legislation and Ryan seemed to outsource back to the president the idea of rounding up the votes, which is traditionally the speaker's job and his operation's job.
The question is, though, the Freedom Caucus members here, sure the president is mad at them, sure the speaker is mad at them. But they won. They aren't going to blink next time, are they?
ZELENY: Probably not. But I think if the House had passed the bill, they also would have won in a respect because it would have emboldened them because it was because of them. So, if you talk to some of the Republicans on the Hill, and even at the White House, they believe that this -- it was a good moment I guess for the Freedom Caucus, but it did like splinter them. They couldn't deliver some things.
So, they at some point need to find a win or find something or they will, you know, anger this president in a huge degree. All of them stood with the president. These are all from Trump districts. Now, there is a test to see, you know, who people like more, the members of Congress or the president. Outside groups I think is something that we haven't talked about last this morning, but the outside groups of Heritage, Club for Growth, everyone else, all --
KING: Said no to the new Republican.
ZELENY: They said no to the new Republican. So, it was very easy if you're Mark Meadows or someone in his group to vote against this, because you have the backing back home. The next thing to watch coming forward is here is what the president does to them because he's furious at them.
KING: That's a key question, because you can have, if at first you don't succeed, try again in the Republican family, or listen to Senator Lindsey Graham in his state, South Carolina, yesterday, saying maybe the president and maybe people in Congress want to get things done should try something else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let me tell you about health care. I don't think one party is going to be able to fix this by themselves. So, here's what I think should happen next -- I think the president should reach out to Democrats. I should reach out to Democrats, and we should say, let's take a shot hat doing this together because it ain't working doing it by ourselves. How about that? All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How about that. I have some dusty books on a shelf somewhere that talk about a day and an age in Washington when there was bipartisanship but they are kind of dusty.
RAJU: Yes, they are very dusty. Look, one-party rule is very difficult in Washington. I mean, when -- after the 2004 elections when Republicans swept into power, they bungled their opportunity at one-party rule and they lost the House and Senate in 2006.
In 2009 after the Democrats had a 60-seat majority at one point in the Senate before Scott Brown's win in 2010, they lost the House the next year because of the way they handled Obamacare.
[08:25:07] They got a lot done because they had huge majorities but they were in a circular firing squad the whole time.
That's what we're seeing again. It's so hard to keep one party united if you don't try to reach across the aisle. Oftentimes divide government works better.
KING: We'll see if the president is willing to make that effort right now because the Democrats are not going to go first. They see him at around 40 percent and below that. It's going to have to be the president's initiative. Everybody, sit tight.
Up next, the president has a simple answer when challenged on his facts. I'm president and you're not.
[08:30:01] KING: Welcome back. The president did an interview with "TIME" magazine about truth telling. The "Washington Post" fact- checker says during that conversation, again about truth telling, the president said at least 14 things that were demonstrably false. When "TIME's" Michael Scherer raised credibility questions during the conversation the president played this card. Quote. "I can't be doing so badly because I'm president and you're not."
He is president, but just 65 days into his presidency the "can't be doing so badly" part is a little bit more debatable. Last week was a horrible week for the president and he began it in precarious political standing.
Take a look here, just 37 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing as president heading into last week. 56 percent disapprove. That's according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
I can't believe those numbers are any better entering this week if 37 was the beginning of last week. I want to get to the credibility issue but just moments ago we were having a conversation earlier about the lack of Republican unity and these organizations that have spent the last eight years opposing President Obama and they're say no organizations.
Well, the president this morning just tweeted, "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare."
So you are noting during the break when we were reading this the other day he was careful not to criticize Republicans.
JACOBS: That's a very much a shift right before he went into the Oval Office to give us the remarks on Friday about why this bill went down. He was told, focus on the Democrats, do not attack fellow Republicans, and he kept to that promise. And he very much -- h spread the blame out to everybody when it came to Democrats but he applauded Republicans. He had Tom Price and Mike Pence standing right behind him. Help said I'm not going to recommend getting rid of Paul Ryan. He told me that in the Oval Office, now he's shifting a little bit, he's turning away from just blaming -- keeping that blame on Democrats and now he's starting to focus on Republicans.
KING: This often happens. He says one thing and then as things settle in with him and he's sort of processed what happens he changes. Let's come back to the credibility question and you could raise it again in the context of what have happened yesterday. In the morning he tweets, "Watch Judge Janine," a day after saying I'm all with Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan fought hard. You know, Paul Ryan has trouble to deal with. I like Paul Ryan and Judge Janine comes out and says Paul Ryan must go. That's a credibility question for the president, too, I think.
Look at his standing right now. 56 percent of Americans disapprove of his job performance. 60 percent say he's not honest. 55 percent question his leadership skills. 66 percent say he's not level-headed.
Now he's a new president. We are 65 days in. I want to say repeatedly Donald Trump has defied every law of political gravity 1,000 times and so don't put anything in cement, but 65 days in, those numbers are horrible.
TALEV: Yes, and there are completely obviously paths to climb out of this, but the paths require decisions that we haven't seen him make so far. There is one path that would be controversial and perhaps jeopardize a whole series of Republican leadership situations but could cement President Trump's popularity if he decided to reach across the aisle and look for commonalities with Democrats.
There's another area in which he stops personal attacks on people and brings people together, but if things go on the way that they have been going on, it's hard to see the path.
JACOBS: One interesting nugget from that Quinnipiac poll was that on March 7th it was 55 percent of American voters say that they don't trust him. Just last week, it's up to 60.
KING: So as they watch it -- one second. One other things, when you raise this credibility question and you say why does the president say so many things that are just demonstrably not true, a lot of Trump supporters push back saying lots of presidents say things that aren't true and that's certainly true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We did not, repeat, did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages nor will we.
BILL CLINTON, 42ND U.S. PRESIDENT: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD U.S. PRESIDENT: Intelligence gathered by in and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Under the reform I've proposed if you like your doctor you keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan you keep your health care plan. These folks need to stop scaring everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I want to set Bill Clinton aside. That was about a personal issue and that was a lie what he said in the Roosevelt room that day back then, but I want to make this distinction and tell me if you agree. Yes, President Reagan was not telling the truth when he said we didn't trade arms for hostages. George W. Bush was not telling the truth when he said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The president of the United States was not telling the truth, President Obama, when he said if you like your plan you can keep your plain. His aides insist he was told at the time that that's what was going to happen. But there's a difference between saying Ted Cruz's father helped kill Kennedy, right?
ZELENY: There's a told difference.
KING: And then crediting the "National Enquirer." Don't blame me. I read it in the "National Enquirer."
ZELENY: Right. There's a whole scale of truth here that is entirely different. When President Bush was saying those words I was actually in the same room. He was -- it was the beginning of the Iraq war. He believed what he was saying at the time. He got faulty intelligence as we learned later. I mean, the "New York Times" editorial page endorsed that, they agree with that.
[08:35:03] But I think this is entirely different than what the president is doing right now. The whole idea of truth is simply out the window. We saw it with the British, you know, suggesting that the British spy agencies were somehow involved in this surveillance game.
KING: But Judge Napolitano said that they were.
ZELENY: Judge Napolitano said they were and he's not been on the air since. So the reality here --
JACOBS: But how many times -- how many times did Trump think that was going to -- that he was believing himself when he said on the campaign trail Obamacare repeal and replace is going to be the first thing I do.
JACOBS: He believed it at that time. And it was the first thing --
ZELENY: And he also said he didn't know it would be this hard.
KING: Is there a price to pay? We talk about this sometimes separately because he did win. He did this during the campaign and he won. So but is there a price to pay now that we're in the governing mode where you don't -- you know, he said we'd be tired of winning, we're not tired of winning yet because he hasn't had any big wins yet. Does this get connected at some point?
RAJU: Yes, I mean, because, one, you lose political capital in trying to sell your agenda. How much political capital does he have on the hill right now? I'm not sure how much at all. And look, this is a president that has not been tested by any significant real outside event that has shifted his presidency in his first two months in office.
What happens when there's a real crisis, domestically or internationally, in which he has to make some very difficult decisions? How does he sell the American public and the international public to get behind America's direction? And if his credibility continues to fall, that's going to be much, much harder to sell the public on something like this. It's a significant ramification.
TALEV: The credibility question was never sort of like part and parcel of his popularity and his rise. It was his ability to connect emotionally with people, to tap into the feelings and frustration that was happening with the status quo. It wasn't like people were like rallying around Donald Trump because they were like, you can take every single thing he says to the bank. Right?
TALEV: So that kind of rhetorical misstatements and like whatever. That was baked into the campaign. The difference is when you're governing instead of campaigning there's a different broad expectations in crisis moments like this. Does it change his numbers significantly below 37? Not necessarily. But does it impede his ability to get above 50 percent again? Maybe.
KING: But he's president, you're not.
TALEV: And I'm not.
KING: You're not.
Everybody, sit tight. The "New York Times" calls him a lapdog. Nancy Pelosi prefers to call him a stooge. Critics of the House Intelligence Committee chairman say his priorities seems to be protecting the president, not investigating Russia's election meddling.
[08:40:24] KING: The health care debate was hardly the only high drama in Washington this past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I've been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now the FBI director's rare public confirmation of a major investigation, let alone one that casts a cloud over the president is a big deal. Also important and troubling, the open partisan sniping between
Democrats and Republicans involved in the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia's election meddling. Republican chairman Devin Nuance says the committee's top Democrat keeps exaggerating evidence of possible collusion between Trump associates and the Kremlin. The ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, in turn says the chairman's decision to run to the White House last week to brief the president on a new discovery proves his GOP loyalty trumps his commitment to a thorough investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think what at this point would give the public more confidence than anything else is if we didn't stop what we're doing but we established a truly independent body, quite separate and apart from the Congress, just as we did after 9/11, that the public can say, OK, at least there we can be confident someone is doing an investigation unhampered by political pressures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Too late perhaps, but I suggested the other day and I know reporters -- my fellow reporters won't like me for this, but both the chairman and the ranking member shut up and go in the private room and do their work so that when they come out and say something whether it's we found something or we found nothing everybody can look at it with credibility as opposed to this has become a partisan spectacle.
RAJU: Well, Nunes said that he's going to come out and brief reporters regularly just to keep people apprised on what they're doing but what's been surprising about what he said is that he's taken steps without informing Democrats on the committee and giving them an opportunity to turn around and criticize them. One, being a surprising revelation last week that some intelligence reports that he's seen showed some communications referring to Trump associates, Trump transition officials appearing in intelligence reports and then suddenly briefing the president of the United States, not telling this committee.
And then on Friday coming out and cancelling the Tuesday hearing on Russia without getting the backing of his own committee, now making it look like he's doing this to help protect the White House at the same time they are investigating the White House in those Russian links. That is only going to sow public doubt about whether or not this panel can actually come to some sort of bipartisan assessment.
KING: The plan was to get public testimony from James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, John Brennan, the former CIA director, and Sally Yates, who was the acting attorney general when Donald Trump took office because she was the last -- the most senior Obama administration official left and he fired her after she refused to implement the travel ban.
But they're going to have public testimony and clearly this was not going to be a good day for the president because any public testimony talking about this investigation is not. So is that what Devin Nunes did, I'm going to cancel this public hearing to protect the president?
ZELENY: It certainly seems like it and the reality is, I can't recall a back and forth with Democrat and Republican on the Intel Committee. The Intel Committee is always supposed to be slightly above that. Well, it's not now, it's in the mud. And it may have sort of given the president a short-term lifeline last week, but a long-term one I'm not sure because they basically have added more sort of weight to the argument there should be an independent investigation. Republicans probably won't call for one, but the credibility of this committee now is in serious question because of Chairman Nunes.
KING: And three Trump associate, some closer than others, let's be clear here. Not all these people are very, very close to the president but three have now agreed to come in and give testimony, or at least to be questioned. I don't know if I'm going to call it testimony, I don't know if officially they're going to take oaths, we'll find out.
Paul Manafort, who's the former campaign chairman and campaign manager, Roger Stone, who is a Trump associate and a dirty trickster going back for a very long time, Carter Page, was a foreign policy adviser who did not have a very significant role. They have -- they are all coming in. They all have, you know, in Manafort's case, he's worked for people close to the Kremlin. Carter Page, a couple of trips to Russia where he talked to Russian officials. Roger Stone was the one who told us weeks in advance wait for John Podesta's e-mails start coming out. He had some back channel with WikiLeaks.
Listen to Adam Schiff, this is the ranking Democrat, yesterday saying why he thinks this is so important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: It was in July that Paul Manafort was Trump campaign manager. The Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page traveled to Moscow, that the Trump campaign intervened to defeat a provision in the Republican Party platform hostile to Russian interests in Ukraine.
[08:45:08] And most significant it was July when Russia began weaponizing the information it had stolen in an effort to attack Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is the circumstantial case the Democrats are trying to put together saying that, you know, all this happened around the same time. You know, Monday and Friday happen to be in the same weeks. Sometimes it just is a coincidence. We don't know that.
Again, should he be out talking publicly about this or should they just do their work?
TALEV: You know, the FBI is also actually investigating all of this, and by coming out and saying what he said in his public testimony Jim Comey has very much preserved his right, his ability to independently go ahead and carry forward that independent investigation so to me there's really a question about what power do the intelligence committees have to investigate something that the FBI isn't already investigating anyway, then there's the second point that you alluded to which is that you can be interviewed by a committee behind closed doors, under oath, by staff, with staff. Those can be the most valuable work that committee can do. Not the theater that you see in public but the behind-the-scenes interviewing that can go on.
RAJU: John, I think it's a real risk for Democrats to continue to dangle the collusion thing out there if those three members -- associates come forward, they testify and there doesn't appear to the public that there was much there. How much do Democrats invest in this idea of collusion that didn't actually happen. It's also -- it's a risk for Schiff to continue to dangle that out there.
JACOBS: Just quickly on ties. You were talking about how closely the president is associated with some of these people. I know that Trump has told people he hasn't talked to Roger Stone in more than half of a year. Paul Manafort, though, he has spoken.
KING: Manafort is the big one there because of his role in the campaign and his past consulting work.
All right, everybody, sit tight. Our reporters share their notebook's best, including a preview of an upcoming and of course very controversial Trump executive order.
[08:51:04] KING: Let's close as we always do by asking our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks to help you get out ahead of the big political news just around the corner. Jeff Zeleny?
ZELENY: Two big words at the White House this weekend being talked about inside the West Wing, political capital. How can the president restore, replace, rebuild his political capital? It was all hands on deck yesterday at the White House, I'm told, inside the West Wing. All advisers were present or most were present to talk about what they can do to give this president a win or something that is heading toward a win after this huge defeat.
A couple of ideas are, of course, tax reform, infrastructure, but those are down the road. They are looking for something shorter term so look for the president once again to travel this week, probably mid-week some place to try and rebuild the political capital. The question is will he be trying to reach out to people who might not agree with him as opposed to all these rallies we've seen of true believers. They are with him until the end. The others are not.
KING: That'll be interesting to see. Is he going out for a crowd or going out for a reason?
ZELENY: That's right.
KING: Margaret? TALEV: One name to watch, Mike Pence. There's going to be a lot of
palace intrigue about whether Reince is down and whether Steve Bannon is up and what's going to happen to Gary Cohen, but Mike Pence, the vice president, really is one sort of tool in the toolbox that President Trump has to use if he wants to get serious about figuring out how to actually make deals, and I don't mean between Democrats, I mean, like between the conservatives and the moderates in his caucus.
But Mike Pence actually knows how to do this from Congress and in theory knows how to work with Democrats from his executive experience. We saw him over the weekend in West Virginia kind of working that sort of rally and message, but to the extent that they want to follow that Biden-Obama model of having experienced lawmakers get stuff done, Pence is a tool they can use if they choose.
KING: We shall see. If they choose, interesting point. Jennifer?
JACOBS: OK. I'll give you a quick preview of an executive order that Obama is going to -- excuse me, Trump is going to be signing in the coming days, as possibly as soon as Tuesday. It has to do with the clean power plan and regulations regarding coal development. We know that Trump wants to roll back those Obama-era regulations. This one has to do with addressing measures that dealt with climate change, so Obama banned new coal mining rights on federal lands and he slashed emissions from greenhouse gases from power plants.
While Trump, of course, wants to address those. The latest draft of this executive order goes after both of those. Even though President Trump wasn't able to undo Obama's health care legacy this week, this clean power plan was the cornerstone of the Obama climate legacy and he's going after that.
KING: Democrats won't like that. Manu?
RAJU: John, there's no path right now for Neil Gorsuch to get the 60 votes he needs to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. I've talked to many Democratic members and aides. Those eight votes that they need for Democrats to join Republicans to get to 60 are not there, so the next step is going to be the nuclear option.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, other top Republicans, they are prepared to go this route, to change the rules, to ensure that a filibuster for Supreme Court nominees can be overcome by a simple majority, something they can do with their 52 Republican seats. This will have huge ramifications for future presidents, for the court, for future presidents when they have their Senate in their own party. They will be able to get whatever nominee they want through without bipartisan support so watch for that to come to a head next week. The nuclear option probably will be pulled.
KING: We spent last week explaining reconciliation and the Byrd Rule during the health care debate. Now we're going to try to tell America what the nuclear option is.
I'll close with more in the sense of (INAUDIBLE) among seasoned Republicans after last week's health care debacle. I communicated with nearly two dozen veterans of past Republican administrations this weekend. Every one of them, every one views the Trump White House political and communications shop as amateur, built they think to keep the president happy but seemingly blind, they believe, to using his power. And he has a lot of power as a communicator to strategically target travel and events like Jeff was just speaking about.
[08:55:01] There's not much more faith in organizations tied to congressional leaders, one of which was highly embarrassed Friday night after it ran TV ads congratulating House Republicans for passing the repeal bill. Even in at least one district where the GOP member had declared she would have voted no had there been a vote but the major concern is the White House and its handpicked team at the Republican National Committee.
As one Reagan administration veteran put it, quote, "I hope they now understand the campaign is over and a president can't win at governing by just saying, I'm going to win."
A lot of discontent out there among Republicans.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. Noon Eastern we'll be here. Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION."