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Ivanka Trump Takes Office Job In The White House; Ivanka Trump's White House Job Raises Questions; Sparring In House Intel Committee; March Madness Meets Global Diplomacy. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 30, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:03] IVANKA TRUMP, ASSISTANT FOR THE PRESIDENT: I'm -- no. I'm going to be a daughter. But I've said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues and that I want to fight for them. So, you know, there are a lot of things that I feel deeply strongly about but not in a formal administrative capacity.


JOHN KING: Well, consider that no longer operative. The President's daughter is working in the west wing office. After weeks of ethics questions, she announced yesterday she will take the title "Assistant to the President". And while not taking a salary, she will be subject to the same disclosure of ethics rules of other White House employees. What to make of this?

ABBY PHILLIP, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mean I think that she probably -- I mean from what I hear she wanted to keep that promise of not having a formal role, but realized that the ethics issues are probably superseded that desire. And everything that they have done up until this point has indicated that, you know, she's going to be sitting in on meetings of world leaders, sitting next to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, going to theater production with the Canadian Prime Minister.

I mean, she's there. She's involved and he's involved clearly because her president -- her father wants her to be and because she wants to be. And -- but we still don't know what she's aiming at. We don't know what Ivanka wants and how exactly she's pushing for her issues. Because we haven't really seen them move forward.

KING: Is this -- a lot of the people who have been complaining about the family being in the White House, the ethics people is it transparent, say it's a nepotism how can he do this -- is this a victory for them or defeat for them? Here's what she said in her statement yesterday announcing this. "I've heard the concerns, some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees. Throughout this process I've been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role." But there have been just steps over Kellyanne Conway going into the briefing and promoting, you know, Ivanka's products and Kellyanne Conway got sort of sanctions for that a little bit. A mini sanctions for that. But in this case now she is saying I will be more transparent, right?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, THE FEDERALIST: Yes. I like the step for her because, look, I think she's probably taking on a role of a fairly active first lady or a fairly active first daughter or grown first daughter as perhaps Chelsea Clinton might have been in a similar situation at times. To clarify that I think is important. The ethics part is important. She will be subject to some specific rules and I think perhaps less than Kellyanne or President Trump, she is invested in making that look good, because that's part of her public persona.

I like having her in those rooms because she has influence on her father and she seems like somebody who is interested those kinds.

RON BROWNSTEIN, THE ATLANTIC: It's ok. And he is not someone who has a wrong political career obviously and someone who has in thus has advisers who's only brief this in. I mean, you've got Reince Priebus who's essentially and Mike Pence who are kind of the liaison to the traditional Republican Party. You've got Steve Bannon who is the kind of architect of his vision of a transformed, you know, ethic national -- defensive nationalist politics. And then you've got Jarred and Ivanka who are essentially -- whose client is the president.

Kind of the way Michael Deaver was between an ideological Ed Meese and a pragmatic Jim Baker for Ronald Reagan. He doesn't have somebody else to be in that role. And on balance, if you have this someone playing this role in a semi official way outside or inside, you're probably going to have. Question I have, is the influence going to be there that people assume?

One area that she talked about a lot during the campaign brokered -- I'm sorry after the campaign brokered the meeting between Al Gore and Donald Trump. This week he repealed the clean power plan.

KING: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: We saw the process of repealing the clean power plan. And one of President Obama's most important second term accomplishments. Will there be any replacement? Will there be an alternative vision? So let's see what she actually -- as you said potentially move the issues that you --


KING: Also signed on to a healthcare compromise (ph) then on a passing with the Freedom Caucus that would have stripped mandatory maternity benefits.


KING: -- as a federal requirement. PHILLIP: And keep family leads and healthcare these issues are still pretty stalled. If -- and on climate change, the president has actually completely rolled back things on climate change. There's not a whole lot of evidence it's moving in any particular direction as a result.

KING: And you have a power couple now in the west wing. And she mentioned there (inaudible) president has their trust. We look at Jarred Kushner whose Ivanka Trump's husband. You know, he's senior advisor of the president he's under question, he's going to be a question for that Senate Committee for meetings with powerful Russians. He'd be the new innovation council which becomes serve an economic clearinghouse inside the White House and he's a key broker among the competing presidential advisers as you just mentioned.

Now you have his wife over the west wing as well. Spear heads those women's issue. We'll see whether she can get to move the ball forward. She has been attacking some members of Congress by Chuck (ph) and we'll see what happens.

As you mentioned she's had some high profile meetings for foreign dignitaries. And she has been in the campaign we saw this many times where people would say who's going to try to get him off Twitter for a little time, who's going to try to change some of the habits towards helping as a candidate. She was effective then. What is she doing? Is she first daughter? Is she qualified first lady, is she qualified deputy chief of staff? Is she got all of those things?

HAM: Right. I think part of it is Trump is Trump. She will have influence when she does and then not when she doesn't. But I think she's the most likely to have some influence in these ways.

[12:35:03] The other thing, too, is that I think, you know, she's more bullet proofs than Jared. Jared Is he's had this meeting with the Russian banker which looks among the more shady of the meetings that we've seen.

And people like her. And it's going to be hard to get people to concentrate fire on Ivanka Trump versus other members of this administration. So she has some power in that respect on that as well because it's just not going to be the P.R. issue. But I do think Trump's -- in general the Trump family has problems with separating business --


HAM: -- from what they're doing in government because they've never had to do this before. It is who their family is.

KING: Right. Even just the other night she came back they were away. There was sometimes the president was mad at Jared because he was away in the middle of all the health care stuff. They take their kids on annual spring break. And as soon as they got back Ivanka Trump and President Trump went where for dinner? The Trump Hotel.

HAM: Right. KING: This is part --

BROWNSTEINE: (Inaudible) the time has he has been as a Trump property as president.

KING: You hear all the time about these splits in the White House. And it is having Ivanka and Jared there and Gary Coleman from Wall Street. You have all these conversations about there's a New York cabal and then there's standard Steve Bannon who is more of the disruptive force --

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Right.

KING: -- and you see a establishment force. He likes it this way the president, he at least he did during the campaign. Is there evidence that it's causing dysfunction in terms of you can have a debate, a good debate of ideas in making decision and implement it or you can have a good debate of ideas the president makes a decision and the people come out and the losing side then runaround trying to undermine it. What do we see?

PHILLIP: I mean I think we're seeing that the decisions are real and they're there. There are clearly two camps of people who are allied in different ways. But the only way that you can judge the consequences about on our -- the outcome -- the output of this administration. And so far the entirety of the output is in the Bannon or even the alliance that sort alliance between Bannon and Priebus. The outcome is all over there and it's all over on the, you know, Jared Kushner or Ivanka, Gary Conan (ph) side.

So, we're in 70 days in. We had a long way to go.

KING: Is the -- does the timing have anything that we expect that the outcome is not been terribly successful in terms of getting to the finish line? It does on executive stuff.


KING: But I think we underestimate the power through which they can change government whether it's the clean air thing you've mentioned, will they get Dodd-Frank rules, maybe we're going to see them now trying to undermine Obamacare trough executive action. I think we under estimate them. That's what they can do with the executive and administrative power. But legislatively blah, blah, blah --

BROWNSTEIN: And what hear is the less about divisions and stalemate then lack of firepower in the first place and lack of detail, lack of program. But what is the, you know, the president said we're going to have a great tax plan. OK. Great. And on health care, there really was no clear guide post that hey got kind of buffeted it around by the internal House in negotiations, kind of lurking to the right at the end by appealing those essential benefits. And so I think the bigger question is not so much are there factions are fighting with each other. But is there just enough there and a lot of vacant jobs to produce the detail that you need to actually legislate. AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: This is what's been the most interesting to me for a candidate who was the most aggressive candidate throughout the campaign both in the primaries and the general election. This has been an incredibly passive president. It's like the forces are sort of buffeting him around, oh, well, they can't get the freedom caucus. Oh, we have these internal debates about which way we should go on these issues. You have not seen that president come out and say this is who I am, this is my governing philosophy, this is what we're going to do.

And so what you're going to -- we're either going to continue to watch this or at some point he stands up and says forget it. We're going to focus on this thing.

HAM: Yes. I think -- and in this town sometimes wanting a deal, even wanting it really badly which is what Trump wants versus the deal. It means you get the deal.

PHILLIP: I mean he's not ideological president leading a very ideological party --


PHILLIP: -- that's always going to produce some problems. I mean Trump could be himself, but he can't force the Republican Party in the Congress --

BROWNSTEIN: Not an ideological but not moderate.

KING: Yes. We did not --

BROWNSTEIN: Not moderate.

HAM: Yes

KING: Not moderate we should say and we're learning he can't force them to go his way at least not yet.

Up next, the adults took stage. The Senate Intelligence Committee getting it's turn to hold the Russian hearing but the bickering in the House Intelligence Committee over Russia, well, it's still spilling over very much into public deal.


[12:42:58] KING: Here's a shocking new development in the spy novel gripping the capitol. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is going to meet today with the panel ranking Democrat. Now, that should not be news, right? It's their job to meet. The Democrat Adam Schiff has called on Republican Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the committee's highest profile project, the Russia election meddling investigation.

Schiff thinks Nunes is trying to protect the president, not all the facts.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: And I hope that we can somehow get back to track, but the chairman is going to have to find a way to lift this cloud. Otherwise, we're going to need someone else to preside over this. I think we really do need someone to preside over this if we're going to do this probably.


KING: We touched on this a bit earlier that disarray in the House not lost on lead of the Senate investigations who are determined not to be confused with those folks over there and what they consider to be the lesser chamber.


RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The committee will go wherever the intelligence leads us.

MARK WARNER (D), VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is the right venue, but if we see any attempt to stifle us with information or cut off the intelligent professionals giving us the access we need, you'll hear from us.


KING: That was he grown up version there. So, the -- let's go back to the House side. They've essentially lost a week to 10 days of their investigation because they can't agree to meet, they can't agree, they canceled the public hearing, they couldn't get the FBI director to come up for an alleged private hearing, he wants to caught off in the middle of this at this very moment in time.

Can they -- can Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes go into room and come out and say OK, we've figured this out, we're going to try again?

PHILLIP: Only if -- I think the Democrats are willing to give Nunes a little bit of cover. I mean, I think if he wants a way out of this Democrats have to allow him to, and maybe they will because the investigation on a whole is worth -- everybody picking themselves up and getting back to the table and moving on. But in order to do that, Nunes has kind of admit that he was wrong in how he handled it, he has to put some of these hearings back on the table. I mean, there were people who were supposed to come in who are not coming in anymore and he is the chairman of this committee. He decides that.

So, he has to kind of acknowledge of that, made a wrong move and move forward, and I think it's possible. It's just going to be hard.

[12:45:08] WALTER: Yes, and he also had high profile Democrats come out and call for him to recuse himself. So, they're got to walk that back (inaudible).


WALTER: And then you have national review today coming out and saying he shouldn't be the -- he should no longer be in charge of this investigation.

KING: Right.

WALTER: So, that's a lot more rolling back than just saying sorry, my bad, you guys.

BROWNSTEIN: Throughout American history, is there anything that senators enjoy more than comparing themselves to the (inaudible)? I mean like, you know, you can go back to Daniel Webster probably, you know, he's making fun of Henry Clay. I mean, this is kind long sense of issue --

WALTER: He starts giving with fake praise.

BROWNSTEIN: Exactly, I understand. But the -- that is kind of their self-image. Again, it's just kind of raises the question of like OK, why resurrect this investigation at this point? I mean, I don't think there -- there are pretty minimal expectations on both sides. Charlie Dent yesterday on CNN, I'm not looking the Republican representative (inaudible). I'm not looking to the House for answers here. I'm looking to the Senate.

And in fact, into the senate the House Intelligence Committee has been somewhat of an island in that rising tide of partisanship and kind of more parliamentary style and the House has kind of been submerged in over the last 25 years, and I think last week, we saw the water line kind of go over that levy as well.

KING: And one of the questions has been is you haven't following us at home is the reason Democrats think Devin Nunes is a bias because he went to the executive, old executive (inaudible) in the White House grounds, some tip from a whistleblower with some documents to look at, goes back and thinks about it and he goes back to the White House and briefs the president about this. We really know what's in the documents. We really don't know (inaudible) except he says it has nothing to do with Russia.

The Committee is complaining but hey, you're supposed to tell us. You're supposed to tell the ranking Democrat, you're actually supposed tell the Republicans or the Committee too. He didn't do any of that before he went down to see the president. And so, the House speaker was asked this part of the CBS morning interview, is that appropriate and is the president under investigation maybe?


NORAH O'DONNELL, CO-HOST, "CBS THIS MORNING": Do you know if President Trump is under investigation himself for ties to Russia?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), House SPEAKER: I have no knowledge of that. I do not believe that that's the case.

O'DONNELL: So, if we don't know that do you think --

RYAN: Well, I don't -- I won't speak for the FBI, but I've never seen any suggestion or any events that that's the case. O'DONNELL: So, here's my question, if we don't know if President Trump is under investigation why would it then be appropriate for a member of an Oversight Committee --

RYAN: Well, let me say this --

O'DONNELL: -- to then go brief the president?

RYAN: Yes, but I don't believe that he is. So, I don't think that he is under investigation. No one has suggested that he is and not even in a vague way. I don't believe that he is.


KING: You could see Norah there. Norah leading the speaker to a point where -- wait a minute, if we don't know, don't -- the point is don't you have to be super triple careful about these things?

BROWNSTEIN: I mean that's why she gets the big bucks. And that's a good question and it's the right question. And, you know, I think Democrats are right to question why you would take this information to White House which potentially is the subject of not only him but other to be the subject of the underlying investigation.

PHILLIP: And it's worth knowing that in that same interview Speaker Ryan would not go to far as to defend Nunes going to the White House to brief the president.

KING: Yes.

PHILLIP: He was sort like, I don't know why he did what he did. It's not really my business. That's really the want you answer when the decision to do that is justifiable. It puts the Republican in a really tough spot. Because there is no -- I mean people are looking at the situation just from a common sense perspective and just wondering why it happened, and no one is jumping to defend that.

HAM: I'm on record saying I'm in favor of being like super careful about how you bring this information forward and I don't think that that was done and he put himself in a bad position. Also, the FBI director said that associates of Trump is what they're investigating. So, I think if you put all the people who are supposed to report things to the president and the position where if we don't know for sure exactly whether he's being investigated, they can't go to him with information, I think that's a bit of a weird standard as well.

And as a libertarian, on things like (inaudible) conversations with the American citizens even when incidental and legal, if they are distributed wrongly, then that is something that should be investigated --

KING: It is.

HAM: -- in addition to all the other things that we're investigating.

KING: The chairman may well have a point about this. I'm asking if she calls it. But I think the way out of this though and we couldn't be having this conversation if he had called Adam Schiff and say, you may disagree with me but I'm going to the White House to see the president. I invite you to come with me.


KING: I invite you to come with me. I have an obligation to do this and I want you to come with me so that you see --


KING: Easy, so, thank you for that. It would have been easy.

BROWNSTEIN: As easy as health care.

KING: As easy as health care. Who knows? Who knew? Up next, March Madness meets global diplomacy. Sort of.


[12:53:31] KING: Welcome back. It could happen to anybody. The question is about your March Madness bracket. And your mind of course wanders to that big upcoming meeting with China's president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're feeling comfortable about this weekend?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Yes. You know, I think it's so important, this weekend is so important. I'm assuming you're talking about President Xi.


HALEY: What are you talking about?



HALEY: That I'm very comfortable about.


KING: That would be our Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina. The Gamecocks both men and women. Yes?

HAM: And football.

KING: Yes, football. But she's -- that's what you really study for the test.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. KING: No offense at all. She's new at the job. She's going to the Council of Foreign Relations. She wants to look like she's on top of her game. So she studied for the test and it's like what is the trick question here.


KING: He is trying to close with a softball, have a little fun in the room.

BROWNSTEIN: But there are other sports going on besides baseball? Was there something else? Wait -- OK.

HAM: No, I think that was a really nice moment for her. The good new is we'll finally figure out the control of the Carolinas which has been, you know, a long time brewing. South or North?

KING: That's great. Anybody here have a viable bracket?

WALTER: This is why I don't fill them out.


WALTER: Not even try.

KING: You can't deal with disappointment?



KING: Let me show you how you probably deal with disappointment (INAUDIBLE). It's funny because Nikki Haley there, again, you know, yes, that.

[12:55:02] Paul Ryan's Wisconsin badgers are out and Norah O'Donnell in that CBS interview said I know you -- I bet you had a beer when that happened and he gave up beer for lent.

PHILLIP: And no bracket for the President.


KING: No bracket for the President.


HAM: You've seen it every 30 seconds on Sports Center.


HAM: Days and days and days.

BROWNSTEIN: best coast versus the south, huh?

KING: No. BROWNSTEIN: For the big finish.

KING: You got nothing for us on this?

HAM: I'm a Duke fan, man. Yes, bring the hate. It's fine.

KING: Don't hate. Don't hate.


BROWNSTEIN: Go on with the underdog.

KING: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: Go on with the underdog.

KING: My Rhode Island rams did get one win before they went out to Oregon.

HAM: Nice.

KING: It was all right. It was nice to see them back in the tournament. All right. That's our light moment at the end here. Thanks for joining us in "Inside Politics."

Just moments away from the White House press briefing. We'll bring you that live when it happens. Senator Bernie Sanders will join Wolf when our coverage picks up after a quick break. I'll see you back here tomorrow.