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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Voters Unfazed By First 100 Days; Trump On Presidency: "I Thought It Would Be Easier"; Trump White House: Blame Obama; President George H.W. Bush Discharged From Hospital; Sessions: "I'm Not Involved" In Flynn Probes; Obama Speaks At Wall Street For Money. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: -- the blue here? Those are trips to Mar-a-Lago. He likes to go home to Palm Beach for the weekend. The goal? Visits to other Trump properties.

A lot of the ethics watch dogs they've had questions with that. You remember, Pres. Trump as a candidate was very critical of Pres. Obama for doing that. That would be golfing. But Pres. Trump has decided it's OK to golf when you're president of the United States. That's another way to look at it.

This isn't unique to Pres. Trump. President Obama was on Twitter. But you can also look at it this way. See these red lines? Only two days, he's been in office 99 days, only twice on two days has he not tweeted from the real Donald Trump account. He's used it quite a bit.

Let's just take a peek at some of the times he's used it. How about day 44? That was a Saturday morning. He defended his attorney general for meeting with the Russian ambassador and the whole country knows he then went on to accuse his predecessor of wire tapping him. That's just one of the days, 97 of the 99 days he has tweeted.

Now we've talked a lot to Trump voters this week across the country. Most of them could do without the tweets. But overall, they tell the president stick in the fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He hasn't kept his end of this contract.

ATHA BURNETT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: When he had time?

TUCHMAN: Well, he said 100 days.

BURNETT: He's had 100 days but he said the Russian thing thrown at him. He's got a big problem with Korea thrown at him. It's not like he's been sitting down sitting on his thumb doing nothing.

ALBERTO ALEJANDRE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I do not regret having voted for Trump and I'll tell anyone who would listen and I did.

TUCHMAN: Do you feel he's draining the swamp? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The swamp's fighting back.

TUCHMAN: So you think the Republican led Congress is not helping the President?

BILL BREEDING, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Especially the head of the Republican Congress. I don't think it's helped him.

TUCHMAN: You're talking about Paul Ryan?

BREEDING: I'm talking about Paul Ryan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now he's talking about Paul Ryan. This is a very interesting dynamic because one of the questions at the 100 day marks is can Republicans govern. Republican speaker, Republican Majority lead, Republican president. But you still have what we saw in the campaign. The Trump voters, some of them new Republicans, but the Trump voters who sent Donald Trump here, they dislike is a polite word for how they feel about the Republican Congressional Leadership.

Now Mitch McConnell gets a little higher grade now because he got Gorsuch through. But it is interesting -- but that gives Trump a foil that a lot of Trump voters, even if these are things that are at least in part the president's fall, like the Obamacare repeal, they say, no, it's the House, it's Paul Ryan, it's those Republicans, not our Republican.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And you saw that fight sort of play out at Breitbart, right? I mean, whether or not, you know, who Paul Ryan was and whether or not he was the enemy of Donald Trump, whether or not Reince Priebus was really in Trump's corner in the White House.

I think one of the things we're also seeing is that voters didn't vote for Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. They voted for Donald Trump. So it's very easy to sort of turn on Paul Ryan.

KING: And they voted for change. They voted for change and they see these guys doing it the same old way.

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: And Congress is easy to hate. I mean, let's get real. I mean, Congress always has a low approval rating.

KING: It's up to 24 percent right now.

KUCINICH: But we -- yes. I mean, hey, great day for Congress. But what I was going to say was the one thing we haven't seen is Trump to use the leverage that he has with those voters and to make then Congress to his will by going to their districts, by using the bully pulpit to really pressure them at home. Because pressuring them here is one thing. When you're in someone's backyard talking to the neighbors, whole different ball game. MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: But we have seen that happen a little bit now that the groups supporting Trump have gone on the air with some ads, but they haven't gone negative to this point. But I do think that's really important because the reason it matters that Trump's base is sticking with him is because it means that Trump's base prefers him to Republicans in Congress. And that those Republicans in Congress have to worry about that base turning on them, potentially in a primary, particularly in deep red districts.

But, at the same time, you know, these are national numbers that you're looking at for Paul Ryan, for Mitch McConnell. These people are still popular in their districts in the most part. You know, voters voted for Donald Trump, but they also -- they didn't vote for the Republican Congress. They voted for their Republican congressman. They voted for their Republican senator. Those guys have higher approval ratings back home than Donald Trump.

KING: And Trump trying to make nice with them now but he campaigned against Paul Ryan, he campaigned against Washington, all of that.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, THE FEDERALIST: Yes. I mean, many Republicans disliked the Republicans in Congress to begin with. That's why Trump became the nominee. They were already halfway there.

I think there's danger on both sides. There's danger for Trump making his foil his own party in Congress because then how do you actually get things done. But I think when you look at the polling the interesting thing that stuck out to me this one in "Washington Post", NBC poll that people believe he cares about them and their problems. The number is low but guess who's lower? Everyone else. And the other thing that he's still -- that he's holding strong is ability to bring change. That's what he was hired to do. Things still look very different than they used to from Trump, so that's what they're willing to give him.

KING: And so, this whole point about Trump voters, the Republican base conservatives who, you know, can't be thrilled that a lot -- nothing biggest were done in the first time 100 days.

I want you to listen to Sarah Palin here, an interview with Breitbart. As a parent I call this the equivalent of when your kids doesn't want to eat their carrots you threaten them. If you don't eat carrots you going to get (inaudible).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:35:11] SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER BICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Remember, those of you who maybe still aren't aboard the Trump train, but know that the Trump movement had to be ushered in, in order to get rid of the status quo that was harming America, keep doing your ABCs and remember what that was, it was anybody but Clinton. So, stick with your little alphabet analogy there. Those who are asking for a grade of this administration, just keep remembering it could have been Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

KING: That's a low bar.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: That might work for Trump. But again, does it work for the people who are up in 2018?

KING: Right.

BALL: Because they weren't elected instead of Hillary Clinton. And they are the ones who are going to answer for what the Congress has been charged with him, what the Congress has or has not been able to do. What I ear from the Trump supporters that you interviewed and that I have spoken to is that they are giving him a long leash. They are giving him the ability to get to speed in the learning curve. And they believe him when he says he's faced obstacles he didn't anticipate. It is not an infinite leash. Did you think he's going to get it done eventually?

KING: What is the Trump voter think specially if you're in the blue state? The Wisconsin, the Michigan, the Pennsylvania, the blue states he turned red. If they pick up "The Wall Street Journal" and they read this, "Hey, I'm a nationalist and a globalist. I'm both. And I'm the only one who makes decisions, believe me." That is, you know, again, you can look at that and say what is he or you can look and say this is Trump, he's transactional. On some issues he's one thing. On some issues he's another.

But to the Trump voters who were, you know, expecting him to label China a currency manipulator on Day 1, who thought we would be more aggressive on trade, who watched him become more establishment on his economic issues, what do you make of that?

HAM: I mean, it's very Trump and having spoken to people just recently, I've -- again have found they're surprisingly forgiving even on these fundamental issues. The wall is the one that I was speaking with people about the other day. And he's going to get it done at some point. It's all good. He's playing 40 chess and you guys aren't and that's what's going on here. So I think there will be some people who are upset about just the use of globalist alone. But many of his supporters will say give him that time. He's playing this smarter than everyone else.

Now say what he wants, how does it affect me?

HENDERSON: Yes. And that's the thing. Like do the factories start sliding again in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania? Because that is what he promised. And he talked about those tombstones dotting the American landscape. So we'll see whether or not that changes.

KING: Right. You can look at the poll numbers. You can look at even Steve Bannon's office. The lack of passage, say their achievements. But one thing they can be happy with or proud of the Trump's White House is base, so far, the base so far sticking with him. We'll carry that one through the second 100 days.

Up next, one last thanks Obama from the Trump White House as it tries to wash its hands of Michael Flynn.

As we go to break some good news today, Pres. George H.W. Bush out of the hospital, discharged from Houston Methodist today after being treated for pneumonia. He is one tough SOB. And I mean that as a compliment, all of us breathing a little easier now that he's going home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:42:05] KING: Welcome back. Michael Flynn was President Trump's National Security Adviser for just three weeks but he's been a Trump White House headache for the entire first 100 days. That won't end in the second 100. Add a Pentagon inspector general investigation to the FBI and congressional investigations already under way to sort out Flynn's trip to Russia and payments from Russian interest.

At issue in the new Pentagon review, did Flynn get permission for those trips and those payments? The Defense Intelligence Agency tells Congress it has no records to show Flynn followed the procedures and follow the law. The Trump White House response? Thanks, Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So the issue is, you know, he was issued a security clearance under the Obama administration in the spring of 2016. The trip and the transactions that you're referring to occurred in December of 2015 from what I understand. So, you know, obviously there's an issue that he point out the Department of Defense inspector general is looking into. We welcome that. But all of that clearance was made by the -- during the Obama administration and apparently with knowledge of the trip that he took.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: True. Perhaps that 2016 process that renewed the general security clearance missed some important red flags. Perhaps the Obama administration should be held accountable for that. But Pres. Obama later fired Flynn who went on to become a Trump campaign surrogate and then Trump National Security Adviser, one of the most sensitive jobs in the United States government.

Now we know Flynn later lied to the vice president about an election year meeting with the Russian ambassador. So did the Trump White House thoroughly vet him? Did he fully disclose his Russia trips and his payments? Was his hiring a mistake?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: In the Obama administration, during the Obama administration, under the Obama administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: You get the point. Sorry. Just that's all I can say on this one. Sean Spicer is exactly right that there may well have been a mess up in the Obama administration when they renewed his clearance if they didn't ask the right questions or if Flynn didn't provide the documentation. Even if he verbally told them as he says he did. Verbally told them about these trips and about these payments, the records don't reflect, the paperwork doesn't reflect that this was properly discussed and litigated and that happened on Pres. Obama's watch. That's true.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: But he got one of the most sensitive jobs in government under this president and they won't answer question s about did they look into any of this. Did they even check this out? The President just say (inaudible) hire him.

HENDERSON: And this is a pattern with this White House sort of distancing people from the campaign. They did that with Paul Manafort. I think at some point they referred to Michael Flynn as sort of like a volunteer. And so, at this point it is. You know, this is sort of Obama's fault. This is Obama's guy.

In many ways, I think it works for the base. If you see some of those polls in terms of what they believe in terms of whether or not Obama tapped Trump's phones, many of them believed it. I do think this is, again, on the one hand it's distancing. Another hand it's sort of fodder for the base. Blame Obama.

[12:4502] KING: Is Sean Spicer's job to be the spokesman for the Trump base or his job to be the spokesman for the president of the United States and therefore, a gate way of information for the American people?

BALL: I give him points for creativity. Sean Spicer has been impressive, right? Michael Flynn not only had he been fired by the Obama administration, but he was person persona non grata in the National Security Community. He was not something that I think you could have -- someone I think you would ever expected any other -- even Republican presidential nominee to have brought on board.

And, this is why you vet people, you know. We've seen the Trump administration take a very cavalier attitude towards the whole vetting process. We don't need that. It's bureaucratic (inaudible). Just confirm our people. Get them through it. It doesn't matter. Now, he was not someone who -- would do that process, but still this is why you vet people because you actually do sometimes have to face consequences if you miss this stuff.

KING: And to understand just to tangled the web of this, we don't understand where it's going and perhaps General Flynn did nothing wrong and that's what the investigation will show in end. But you have the Department of Defense, the FBI, several investigations in Congress. If this becomes something that's processed to the Justice Department, we do know this. The attorney general, the man in charge, will have nothing to do with it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not aware of any of that. And, so I am recused on those issues and anything that's necessary to be done I'm sure will be done. But we and the Department of Justice don't confirm or deny the existence of the investigations.

Well, they'll do their responsibility of whatever that is and that we always do. I'm not involved in that investigation and wouldn't participate in it and don't know anything about it.

Well, my recusal deals with the campaign issues, but I would expect not to be involved in this one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I'm sure the Attorney General enjoyed his morning circuit on this morning shows this morning being asked about this. But he has had to because of his own meetings with the Russian ambassador, because of his work in the Trump campaign. He's a top surrogate and adviser. The top law enforcement man in the land has had to recuse himself from anything that has to do with the campaign.

KUCINICH: Well, and that's where -- when you asked if Sean Spicer represents the White House or the base. This is where the White House comes in. Because he wants to get separate the White House as far away from this person as possible because of all of these investigations that are going on. If they miss something in a vet or if it didn't have a vet, that's not good news. Or if they knew, that's another -- that's not great news. There's a lot of unknowns here but they have every reason to separate themselves from Michael Flynn right now.

HAM: Yes -- I mean, I don't think they vet people carefully. I think --

KUCINICH: Not knowing is not an excuse.

HAM: No, I do think the good tack would have been to take maybe more of the Obama administration tack and see if there's an ongoing investigation. He does not work for us. They can actually credibly say that this time --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: He is not even a volunteer best we know. Up next, how about a no thanks, Obama. Elizabeth Warren has 400,000 reasons to reasons to dislike the post presidency just taking shape.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:52:08] BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, what's been going on while I've been gone?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Welcome back. You might remember that from earlier this week as the Trump administration circles its 100th day. You see a lot of the Obamas this week and not just pictures of them vacationing on a mega yacht. Both the former president and the former first lady have started to post presidency lecture circuit and they're already creating some riffs to the Democratic Party. Not because of anything either one has said but because of whom they're speaking to and what they're getting for it.

The 44th president headed to Wall Street where he'll reportedly take in $400,000 for a single speech. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the woman Obama wants Warren to be his Wall Street. Watch dogs says she's troubled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I was troubled by that. One of the things I talk about in the book is the influence of money. I describe it as a, you know, a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington. The influence of dollars on this place is what scares me. I think it ultimately threatens democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KUCINICH: I mean, one of these people has a political future and the other is done.

HENDERSON: Yes, exactly.

HAM: Now that you figure out which one it is.

BALL: Well, Bernie Sanders said something similar yesterday as well. He called it unfortunate.

KING: He did. Let's listen to Bernie Sanders. He's on a little talk this morning. Then we'll continue the conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Barack Obama is a friend of mine. I think he and his family represented us for eight years with dignity and intelligence. But I think at a time when we have so much income and wealth and equality, when Wall Street has so much power, you know, the chief financial, chief economic adviser to the president comes from Goldman Sachs. I think it just does not look good. It's not a good idea. And, you know, sorry but Pres. Obama made that choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: They could be on to something. President Trump won the nomination by campaigning against his own party. Maybe Sanders and Warren are going to campaign against Obama in 2020. BALL: I don't think they're going to campaign against Obama who is still extremely popular among Democrats, but I do think this has -- is going to have an impact on the post Obama debate, not to say cat fight side that the Republican Party -- the Democratic Party kind of used to covering divided Republicans.

The Democratic Party is going to be having, you know, and they're really going to be tearing each other apart on these issues. Obama has indicated on the one hand he wants to be a play in that debate. He wants to have a say in the future of the party. He wants to help the party rebuild and become stronger in the Trump era. And so, does this affect his credibility in that whole main street versus Wall Street debate?

HENDERSON: Yes. And then we've seen some of those sort of criticism. Keith Ellison coming out basically saying Obama didn't do much to build the Democratic Party when he was in office. Hard probably to build a Democratic Party and run the country at the same time, but never mind.

[12:55:14] So, yes, I think it is that split that we're seeing between the Sanders wing and the Clinton-Obama wing. But I do -- I mean, to Jackie's point, Obama doesn't have a political future other than -- yes, he can tangle and this is what presidents do. Former presidents on go out and make money in this way. I mean, if there's some sort of grassroots organization that wants to raise $400,000 and invite Obama to speak, I'm sure he'd do that too.

KING: If he could just get the post presidency work.

HAM: Well, as the President one said, I do think at some point you've made enough money. Maybe he'll find that point. I actually think he was a little bit not savvy about this. The first time out, 400k with the Wall Street.

HENDERSON: For the first time out was supposed to be Chicago.

HAM: I know, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Contributing to the party in the future, I should note that any network event, Pres. Obama currently said that Obamacare is now more popular than Pres. Trump. OK, now Pres. Trump --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Thanks for watching "Inside Politics." We'll see you back here on Monday. Wake up Sunday morning with us too. President Trump about to arrive in Atlanta. Speak to the NRA convention there and at a fundraising event, the Republican Congressional candidate Karen Handel. We'll bring his remark at NRA live.

Wolf Blitzer in the chair after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)