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Trump Nears 100 Day Mark With Record Low Approval; White House Tries For A Health Care Do Over; The Nuclear Blame Game; Trump Speaks to N.Y. Times. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 5, 2017 - 12:30   ET




[12:30:45] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said it from now and we're going to put the clause, got to be made in America, we want American seal made in America right on the butt. And you'll be hearing more about this in the very near future. But as time goes by, let's say over the next 7 3/4 years meaning eight years.


JOHN KING, HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: That's an optimistic President Trump yesterday. That was day 75 yesterday. Speaking to a labor group here in Washington, a promising to keep his promises on the economy and promising he'll be around for two terms. Well, 76 days in, the poll numbers, not so great for the president. That at least he defied the polls before, but his overall approval rating, just 35 percent. That's a bad number with the American people.

Among Republicans, 79 percent approval, that's a pretty strong number but it's down from a week or two weeks ago. He is standing even among Republicans down a little bit. White non-college degree voters, they were critical to the Trump coalition, the president just barely getting majority approval rating among those voters. Here is the problem for president, on big issues, big character qualities, his numbers are pretty bad.

Sixty-one percent of Americans in this Quinnipiac University poll says the president is not honest. Fifty-five percent say he lacks the right leadership skills, 57 percent says he doesn't care about average Americans, 64 percent says he's strong, but 66 percent say he is not level-headed, 61 percent say he doesn't share their views.

So on the issues and on strength and characteristics, the president's numbers are still struggling. Here is an interesting one here, 52 percent of Americans says it usually helps the president, more than half of the Americans still excellent or good about the economy.

That's usually the tie that lets the president's approval ratings but, even Republican voters, and all Americans think President Obama still gets more credit for how the economy is doing right now in his early days than the Trump Administration, than the president. As a matter of fact, his own handling of the economy, under water, more Americans disapprove than approve. That some of this may have to do with dysfunction in Washington more than he does about the economy.

The president in that speech yesterday, promising even though he didn't get a win on health care. Listen to the president here, even though if you talk to people in congress, they say, this issue is months away, the president talking big about his infrastructure plan.


TRUMP: You are the backbone of America. With the talent in this room, we can build any city at any time, and we can build it better than anyone. But we're going to do even better than that. Together, we are going to rebuild our nation.


KING: Now, we're not anywhere close about to an infrastructure plan. We'll come back to that in a minute. Well, 76 days in -- I applaud him trying to stay optimistic. I think you have to do that. But in the sense this is at administration at the moment has zero big legislative wins because of disaster in health care. There are some efforts apparently to reboot that.

When you look at those poll numbers, 76 days in, and again, this president has defied the rules and the laws of political gravity many, many times. But those numbers are pretty bad.

PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: In terms of reelection, I would say, one thing the biggest spec of in our policy --

KING: You jumped right to re-election -- no, go on.

BACON: Because it's so interesting, is negative part as he was in means, everybody hates the other party. So you get heal in the war running into then 2020, he did numbers might go up slightly, he might have a chance of winning reelections though that he and Republicans are being in motive hating the Democrats like they were in 2016.

He won the presidency while being quite unpopular, unusually unpopular, that's why he win, winning. But for governing, this is really hard because no one feels he need to support. He however -- you saw Marco Rubio earlier, very strongly criticizing him on Syria. You have the Freedom Caucus criticizing him. You have the moderates criticizing him. Usually your own party supports during your first 100 days. Not at all right now.

KING: Right, that's a key point to his administration, his approval rating. You jumped to 2020, I'll go with you. So if his approval rating keeps going down, he never (INAUDIBLE) along Elizabeth Warren. But on the big issue of health care, Mike Pence has spent the last couple days up on Capitol Hill, meeting mostly with the conservative Freedom Caucus but also with other members of the House just to see thing and pull a rabbit out of the hat, and somehow before we get to the 100 day mark pass the Obamacare repeal and replace.

It was an embarrassment for the president when they couldn't. He negotiated and he couldn't get the votes in the end. Listen to Mark Meadows, he is the head of the Freedom Caucus saying that they are making some progress -- if you want to take that faith, folks. Since they're making some progress and he things maybe they should delay a congressional recess if it -- if they can get to the finish line.


[12:35:02] REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, there's a concern on my part that if we're making real progress that going home sends the wrong message. And, you know, it is certainly important that if we're close to a deal, that we should, you know, work it out over the next few days to make sure that we get here, even if it means we have to cancel a few plans to get that done.


KINGS: Yes, Congress likes that we're all laughing. Congress likes going home for its breaks, number one. But number two, it's tough for the home when you got nothing to sell. And you are going home you are saying if you're a Republican, you have promised the last four elections that you're going to repeal and replace Obamacare, now you have the Republican president and you didn't do it.

But, well, to the Mark Meadows point, he also said right up before the vote, we're negotiating, negotiating, negotiating, and the White House complaint was his best keep moving (INAUDIBLE). There's never an end line here. Is there anybody at the table who thinks they are close enough to get in something they can bring for the four for a vote?

BACON: I know Paul Ryan does not think they're close. He has been saying --

KING: He kind of counts.


BACON: He is a very much downplaying but saying, no, no, we are not yet close. We have conceptual ideas we're discussing and we'll keep coming back to this. He has been staying away from this and I think smartly.

KING: And yet, the vice president keeps going back to the table here. There's a school of thought that, you know, yes, this was not good. This was not good for the president if there's a huge policy philosophical differences among Republican family in this, walk away. Why does he keep going back?

MICHAEL BENDER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, he has to keep going back. Mike Pence is the one who is supposed to deliver the Congress to Donald Trump, you know, not the Freedom Caucus, not maybe the one group that he's most aligned with, but the Congress, you know. And I think there that it's a -- you know, the -- excuse me -- the point here is that there's that they need to get some wins here. Meadows' sentiment is a correct one if there within a weekend of closing the deal here, great. Stick around the weekend. It's hard to imagine after eight years that they are weekend away. And it's hard to see where the next victory here is Trump, right? KING: That if he gets that victory with the Freedom Caucus, I assume -- if they give the Freedom Caucus enough to get a victory. I assume they'll gets sense over to Mitch McConnell at the Senate. I mean, he's laughing on the inside, not crying.

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, exactly. You know, if you deem from one side the way this works, you are taking from another. So, I mean, that gain is also a net loss. It's basically a zero sum, as you pointed out, even within the House conference, not to mention going over to the Senate. But going back to Mike Pence for a second, there was earlier on this kind of question that will he be the shadow president, will he be the one who with serious minded one who understands legislation, who can go back to these house guys and get them to get on board. And I think the answer so far is, absolutely not.

He is not -- everyone really likes him, everyone desperately wants him to be that person. There's a question in of how he much he speaks for the president. And B, if these guys aren't afraid of Donald Trump, with all due respect to Mike Pence, they're not afraid of him either.

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: But if you are Mike Pence, you accomplished two things by not going to check for, you know, whether the health bill is still breathing. One is you can say on behalf of yourself with the president, we kept trying. We're still trying. We promised to do this and we're trying.

And number two, you have your ear to the ground on a number of other things that it's also important for them to know which is where does congress stand on this Russian investigation, where this Congress stand what to do about Syria, is Congress behind this president or not, are there seizures, and you got all of that under the cover of working on health care. It's not a bad deal.

BENDER: Just to bring us back to a question about the polling, too. The -- Trump has got to worry about his base. We're seeing in the numbers you put up there that there are some real concerns about the base. The promise there, his voters was not -- they're going to get sick of us trying. That the promise was you're going to get sick of us winning.

KING: Right.

BENDER: And again, it's hard to see where these wins are occurring (ph).

TALEV: You can't win if you don't try it, right?

KING: OK. I agree, and I agree. Up next, the blame game has begun, the nuclear option and the partisan's fight, over who's responsible for the state of dysfunction in Washington including the United States Senate.


[12:43:01] KING: Welcome back. Who do you blame for the latest partisan divide in Congress that's likely shaped by your own political leanings? Democrats say Republicans stole a Supreme Court vacant seat from President Obama. And justify the Reps blocked President Trump's pick his pay back. Republicans say Democrats changed the Senate rules for all the federal judges just a few years ago. And so changing the rules now to require simple majority for Judge Neil Gorsuch, just a little copycat.

Details of this particular fight aside, traditionalist by Senator John McCain, don't like where all this is heading.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would like to meet that idiot. I would like to meet that numbskull that would say that. That after 200 years, at least 100 years of this tradition where the Senate has functioned pretty well, they'd think it'd be a good idea to blow it up.

Idiot. No. Whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I've been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions. And they're stupid, and they have deceived their voters because they're so stupid.


KING: I'm still a little unclear how Senator McCain feels about this one. His point, numbskull, stupid, stupid idiot, stupid. If you follow -- his point is that requiring 60 votes for big things requires conversation and consensus towards (ph) we don't hear a lot in Washington anymore. But this left-- it left a bad taste but he's going to vote for Judge Gorsuch.

BACON: In the change. Stuff like in the change, yes.

PARKER: Yes, it's really a bad taste. And then it also raises a concern of could they ever do away with the legislative filibuster. And you remember back when they first changed the rules, they said we're changing this to get through some our President Obama's lower level appointments we would never touch the Supreme Court filibuster. Now they're about to go nuclear on the Supreme Court filibuster.

And the sort of reasons of question of what next. And when you cover Congress, everyone loves covering the House because they all behave like a bunch of sort of maniacs. But the Senate is some way is easier to cover because they sort of all behave as rationale adults even in this polarized era.

KING: Mighty kind of you.

[12:45:05] PARKER: And I think what you're seeing happening is as these things sort of slip away, there's a concern that the Senate, especially among the senators, could become like the house which everyone believes is good for no one.

KING: Right. And if you're watching anywhere in America, outside of Washington and the closing suburbs, you think, here they go again, reconciliation, filibuster, nuclear options, we use a language and speak a language that doesn't make sense. And for those of you who have to actually run your lives, get the kids to daycare, pick them up, get your job, you do a lot of things at once. Why can't Washington do one big thing?

But to your point, the stuff does matter. Because on big issues, 60 vote requirement of the Senate -- the founders wanted the Senate to go more slowly. The founders wanted the Senate to have -- because the big question is if you take away the filibuster on Supreme Court justices, will you do it on legislation? Whether it's the budget, whether it's changing well for laws, whether it's other big issues in the country. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, again, a traditionalist says, no, at least not yet.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Who would be the biggest beneficiary of that right now? It would be the majority, right? There's not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster. Not one. There's no sentiment to change the legislative filibuster.

I think Senator Schumer said after being on one the Sunday shows, we were on back to back. I think he said no sentiment on that side either. So, there's no threat to legislative filibuster.


KING: Now, again, the language probably doesn't make sense for a lot of people watching out in the country and they probably think this is boring, silly partisan, sometimes, children but actually some of this stuff does matter in terms of big legislative fights to come and the attempts to run the Senate.

TALEV: Sure. The point of the Senate, is not only these little things down but like when they said to be a deliberative body is to encourage compromise, right? So, it reweights how much power states have so that less populist states have power.

It encourages Republicans and Democrats to form coalitions to fight that 60-vote hurdle. All that's in jeopardy now, it's been in jeopardy for years. And by the way, Mitch McConnell has had a lot to do with that because the flip side of the filibuster, of the threat of a filibuster is they won't use it all the time. The filibuster, the threat of filibuster and in of itself was supposed to be a special thing that rarely got triggered.

Well under Mitch McDonnell's rise up the ranks and the strategy that led him to this majority that he has, he started threatening filibuster all the time.

KING: Right.

TALEV: He helped push this button. And then democrats pushed back. Who pushed first? Democrats, Republicans, Republicans, Democrats. This has been building for a long time what everyone is calling for right now to a large extent. This has been building for a long time. And whatever one is crying over now to a largest extent that's already happened.

BACON: It's not always been a just like a good thing to bring together. The filibuster was used to stop civil right legislation too much, the '60s and '70s. So I don't think it's necessarily always bringing people together and (INAUDIBLE) we would agree with today. There's a case can be made that maybe the party that controls Congress that will pass things and then voters can punish them by pushing them out of office after judging their accomplishments instead of what we have now which is kind of constant gridlock were deals on (INAUDIBLE).

KING: We're going to see where this one goes, and see how far it goes. Next one, historical point there.

When we come back, the President just gave an interview with his favorite newspaper, "The New York Times." Breaking new from that, just a second.


[12:52:23] KING: Welcome back. A little breaking news near the end of the program. The President of the United States gave an interview to two reporters from the "The New York Times." In that, he suggests that the former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime in his view by unmasking, by getting the names of Trump transition officials who were named -- who were listed in intelligence documents. Here's what the President told "The New York Times." I think it's going to be the biggest story. It's such an important story for our country and the world. It's one of the big stories of the time.

Asked if he thought Susan Rice have committed a crime, the president answered, "do I think? Yes, I think." Now Democrat says, this is a big destruction. It's a confusing story. It's a complicated story.

In a few minutes, we have the president of the United States to say he thinks someone has committed a crime when that President of the United States and his team are being looked at by the FBI, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, by the House Intelligence Committee. Some people's laughed about this, back and forth, the finger pointing. This is a big deal.

BACON: This is worrisome for two reasons. Sorry to interrupt. One is that we talked about in the campaign it's worrisome when the President threatens to jail his political opponents. Whether Hillary Clinton before and now Susan Rice. That's not typically what we do in America. The second thing that's worrisome is we usually have the president that weigh in on what DOJ should do. The president does in theory, run DOJ to manage that.

KING: Right.

BACON: Usually, it does not weigh in on whether someone committed a crime or not. So usually, Obama was always aware of not saying, yes, someone committed a crime or no, they didn't. KING: Right.

BACON: It's very unusual to do then and sort of a real break with norm is important to think about.

KING: He decline to say, Michael, the President, he declined to say if he had personally reviewed new intelligence to bolster his claim but pledge to explain himself "at the right time?"

BENDER: Yes. This is not -- this Susan Rice story is not exactly President Obama manipulating the microwave inside Trump Tower. But it is a legitimate distraction for him and one that he's going to keep playing up here.

I can tell you that the news on the Susan Rice made yesterday, inside the White House, they are asking additional questions about what other decisions she made inside the White House that should have been made inside the Pentagon.

KING: And if, if, if, if, if, if, if, if Obama administration officials were improperly unmasking these names or improperly spreading intelligence around or improperly been gossiping about what Trump transition (INAUDIBLE) they should be held accountable for that. They should be held accountable for that. Just as if the President's team colluded with the Kremlin in anyway during the hacking, they should be held accountable for that.

But there's an investigation going on, aren't the responsible party supposed to say let's wait for the facts and this responsible party is the President of the United States. I think it's going to be the biggest story. Do I think? Yes, I think about a crime.

TALEV: Of course, this is turning into a spectacle of some thing that is actually very serious in terms of allegations. And it takes one step further what happened on Twitter a few weeks ago which is the President saying without sensation that he thought President Obama had tapped him.

[12:55:10] Which it turns out would not be legal and therefore would be a crime. This is him actually more directly saying, yes, I think someone who hasn't actually been charged with any --

KING: I want to sneak this in just going to get to the President's mindset. Mr. Trump criticized media outlets including "The New York Times" for failing to adequately cover the Rice controversy in his view, while singling out Fox News and the host Bill O'Reilly for praise. Then he went on to say -- and Bill O'Reilly if you haven't put (ph) essentially to the news. He said, O'Reilly, he a lot of advertisers running from his show because of sexual harassment allegations. He said, "I think he's a person I know well, he is a good person." I didn't think anyone would want that one.

BACON: From that statement, the allegation is very serious and again, he's weighing in on -- the President doesn't way in on random legal issues. That's a very strange --

KING: Right. And he doesn't say these are serious allegations --

BACON: Right.

KING: -- but I've known him for a long time. There's a way you can try to strike a balance as president. He does black and white. He didn't do gray. Everybody, thanks for joining us in "Inside Politics", a rock and roll day. Appreciate your patience.

Just moments away from a live news conference with President Trump and King Abdullah of Jordan. The President of supposed to speak about the crisis in Syria. You see it right here on CNN when it happens. Wolf Blitzer in the chair, after a quick break.