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Congress Budget Deal Done, No Spending Deal Wins; Establishment Wing Takes Center Stage at White House; Controversial Trump Aide Exits; Trump Promises Preexisting Conditions Coverage; Trump Says Media Deserves Failing Grade. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:19] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us. Happy Monday.

The deal is done and there will be no government shutdown. No money for the border wall and other conservative goals, like defunding Planned Parenthood, also left for later debate, yet the White House still calls it a win.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We couldn't be more pleased that -- thanks to President Trump's leadership and direct engagement last night at the White House and leaders in the House and Senate in both parties signed off on a budget deal. It will -- it will avert a government shutdown. This is a budget deal that's a bipartisan win for the American people.


KING: A lot of conservatives disagree with that. We'll get to that in a moment.

It's on now to the second 100 days for President Trump. And you know that old saying, April setbacks bring May campaign ads.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): America is winning and President Trump is making America great again.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm Donald Trump and I approve this message.


KING: Some think it might be a little early for that.

How about 100 day lessons learned. The president wants a do over on Obamacare repeal. Plus, quick action on tax reform and infrastructure. And he says the Republican Congress needs to get its act together. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, we have some votes that have never voted (ph) positively (ph), but now we're the governing party. Before it didn't matter. They could vote no and it wouldn't matter because President Obama was going to veto everything. And they didn't have the Senate. Now we have the Senate, the House and the White House but these are great people and I think you're going to see the Republican Party really come together.


KING: That's the big question for the second 100 days.

With us to share their reporting and their insights, Laura Meckler of "The Wall Street Journal," CNN's Manu Raju, Peter Baker of "The New York Times" and Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast."

This is day 102 of the Donald Trump presidency. That means, yes, we count, 1,282 days until the 2020 presidential election. But you might think otherwise if you watch cable news or visit a website that deals with politics. President Trump's campaign committee is on the air.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Donald Trump, sworn in as president 100 days ago. America has rarely seen such success.


KING: Back to that remarkable twist in just a moment. But first, the agenda for the second 100 days beginning with today's big, breaking news, a deal to keep the government open through the end of September. It is the first big spending negotiation of the Trump presidency. The first time to set government priorities across the board in the all Republican Washington. And it is Democrats who are most happy today. There is more money for the Pentagon, more money for border security and more money for health research and for minors' health care. But even with a Republican president, a Republican House and a Republican Senate, the spending bill has no funding cuts for Planned Parenthood, no money for a deportation force, no spending cuts for sanctuary cities and no money for border wall construction. Not exactly the big change conservatives thought was coming with the White House and the Congress in GOP hands.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), FREEDOM CAUCUS: Look, money goes to Planned Parenthood, as you said, money continues to go to sanctuary cities, but no money for the border wall. I think you're going to see a lot of conservatives be against this --this plan this week.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": How did it happen?

JORDAN: I mean why did we -- why did we, last fall, do a short term spending bill if we weren't going to actually fight for the things we told the voters we were going to fight for?


KING: Ah, the gentleman raises an interesting point. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a member of the Freedom Caucus, one of those who is frequently criticized by his own leadership for saying no to things. But -- but conservatives thought once they got the White House you would have conservative spending bills.

Is it fair to say -- Manu, you spend all your time on Capitol Hill -- that this is the spending fights in Washington, that's about ideology, it's about philosophy, it's about the role of government, which agency gets more, which agency gets less. Did the Democrats win the first spending fight of all Republican Washington?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On a lot of key issues they did in this deal, particularly on some of the things that have really fundamentally divided the party. You mentioned Planned Parenthood not going to be impacted by this spending bill. There's been a furious push among conservatives, of course, to defund Planned Parenthood. Democrats threatened to block any legislation in the Senate if there was any sort of defund language.

Of course, what's going to happen to Trump's border wall? This was going to be a vehicle that the White House had hoped would be at least a down payment to begin construction of the border wall. Democrats said no way.

I think it showed a couple things. One, the Republicans have bad memories from the 2013 government shutdown. They're worried that they're going to get the blame. The Republican leadership made a calculation very early on that they were going to cut a deal with Democrats and not worry about the Jim Jordans of the world, take the hits from the right because they wanted to get this deal through and they did not want to risk a possible shutdown. But the impact of that, of course, is it looks like you're caving on a lot of your key priorities, things that Donald Trump campaigned on.

[12:05:01] KING: And I get that Republicans remember the bad PR of the 2013 shutdown, but they won the next election. They did not suffer in the next election for it.

JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE DAILY BEAST": Still, Jim Jordan and conservatives of that ilk haven't shown their leadership that they'll be there. So even if they cave to them on this and moderates take a bad vote and then end up in trouble, that goes to the Senate, gets stripped out, it comes back and you can't count on team Jim Jordan or team Freedom Caucus to go with them. They're not going to be part of the team. They're from the Freedom Caucus team. And so you understand why leadership is doing exactly what Manu is saying.

KING: So you have this dysfunction, and we're going to get to it specifically on health care in a moment, but this is -- this is, again, Donald Trump's the great negotiator. He was the man who was going to come to Washington, make the stupid politicians -- that's what he called them -- sit down and do business. This first spending bill of his presidency raises non-defense discretionary spending. The White House said they would not stand for that. It cuts the EPA by just 1 percent. His defense secretary gets more money, but only half of what he says is necessary to do the job to rebuild the military. How?

PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, you know what this is strikingly similar to? Barack Obama's first short term spending bill. Back in his first year in office, his first 100 days in office, he was presented with a spending bill that included gobs of earmarks and special interest, pork things, all of the things he had said he would veto as a candidate. He didn't veto it. He signed it because his advisers said it was more important to keep things going. It's more important not to -- get you fellow Democrats, in his case, mad. And he regretted it. It will be interesting to see whether Donald Trump regrets basically making the same calculation that it's better to keep the party together than to take a stand on principle.

LAURA MECKLER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": But I do think the one thing that's been missed is this spending deal is that even though he did not get any money for the border wall, which has been the big shiny object, but the truth is, there's very little support for the border wall and this may be the end -- the beginning of the end for that entire project. But he did get half a billion dollars for more detention beds.

KING: Right.

MECKLER: So there is -- you said there's no deportation force, but in a way there kind of is a -- the building blocks towards a deportation force because for the entire Obama presidency, he always said, we can't deport more people because we only have so many resources. Well, they're increasing the resources. There will be another 5,000 people who can be kept in jail. So I actually think that there was some incremental progress and that may be something that the right seizes, even if -- but it's hard to compete with the big headlines. But I do think that there is all along in this administration, that's where the biggest difference is happening in immigration.

KING: Well, it will be interesting if the administration -- you're right, if there's one issue on which there's been no border wall, but increased enforcement, increased legal activity, you're right, the question is, can they sell that to the right or how many votes are we going to get against this from conservatives.

Here's my question, if you push fights further down the road, which is what the president's doing here, we'll fight for the border wall spending another day, we'll fight for more Pentagon money another day. We're pushing this down the road so we don't have a government shutdown. The question is, what is the political climate when you get to those fights because the longer you wait, the closer you are to 2018, which is a congressional midterm election. And we all know that that's when the chronic case of bedwetting kicks in often among the politicians.

I raise the point because it's in our most recent poll, again, we are taking on May 1st, May 1st, a long way to go, but Democrats have a nine point advantage at the moment when we asked people, if you were voting tomorrow for Congress, do you want to vote for a Democrat or a Republican. If that number holds up and we get closer to the actual calendar year 2018, Republicans are going to panic.

RAJU: Yes, that's a huge number. I mean the generic number, if it's, you know, one or two points, that's usually pretty significant. And it's nine points. That's a wave. And, yes, you're absolutely right, the climate is going to change many times until November. We don't know what it's going to be like. But what we do know is that, you know, president's first term in office, typically that first midterm, is very bad for their party. On average they lose some 23 seats in the House. Barack Obama lost five dozen seats during the 2010 Tea Party wave. And the president -- Democrats only need to grab a couple dozen in order to take back the House. So there is a chance for that to happen and that makes it harder for Trump to keep his party in line and it could lead to more political infighting. It will be difficult -- more difficult to get his agenda through if his party's (INAUDIBLE) and they lose the House.

KING: The traditional lesson of a presidency is get as much as you can early because as the clock ticks, it gets harder.

BAKER: That's right. And usually you're at your highest amount of influence in this early stage. That's not where Donald Trump is. His new poll numbers are still as bad as they've ever been in the early -- you know, low 40s and so forth, unlike say Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and so forth and they came in, in their early days and tried to push through spending priorities.

KING: It was interest -- it's interesting, when you get to the 100 day mark, we're moving on to the second 100 days, and this president didn't have a great first 100 days, but he can recover. He can recover if he learns the lessons. He has the Senate. He has the House. He learned during the campaign. We saw him recalibrate.

The question is, who's winning inside the Trump White House? And CBS "This Morning," after John Dickerson did an interview for "Face the Nation" this weekend, and CBS "This Morning" was at the White House this morning. Here's who was on the air. Sean Spicer, the vice president, Reince Priebus, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser. That is a picture of establishment Washington and establishment New York, if you will, a Trump family, a moderator Democrat even. She couldn't vote for her dad in the primary back in the New York primary days. That is not a picture of Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, nationalist America first, Tea Party pitch fork, change Washington. What does that tell us?

[12:10:03] KUCINICH: I think you're right. I'm believing my eyes. But when you listen to Donald Trump, who was on the campaign stump essentially on Saturday, that was vintage Bannon. That was Steven Miller. There's a clip of him talking about Andrew Jackson today with Salena Zito and Bannon is the one who told Trump to start reading about Andrew Jackson and has been the big influence there about drawing those comparisons. So I wouldn't count them out. Maybe they're not -- they don't want to roll them out in front of the cameras, but -- but the influence is there. KING: But you key up -- but you key up -- you key up another

fascinating dynamic. We are told sometimes, you know, don't pay attention to these people. Don't pay attention to them. Who are we supposed to pay attention to?

KUCINICH: That's right.

KING: Is it that image or --

MECKLER: Well, it probably depends on who you are who you're supposed to pay attention to.

KING: Right.

MECKLER: Because, I mean, even though, as Peter knows this, poll numbers are extremely low historically where his base is still with him. And who does his base like? Who do they want to hear from? They want those messages, those Bannon-type messages. I mean if Bannon were completely sidelined, if he were -- if he were fired, as has been speculated, then, you know, what kind of message does that send to the people who are still with him?

KING: But you run a risk if you're out in the country talking to your base saying one thing and then back in Washington you're doing something else. Eventually this president's a great salesman, he's a great communicator, but eventually that would catch up to you.

To this point about the dynamics, Michael Flynn is gone. He was fired. He was more of an insurgent, if you will. Stephen Bannon is still there. Steven Miller is still there. But Sebastian Gorka, we are told, is leaving the National Security Council. Here's more of -- I'll call him a black helicopter kind of guy and I think I'm being kind as I say that. Here he is, a little bit of his time on television, defending the White House in controversial moments.


SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASST. TO THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a very simple signal. There's a new sheriff in town. His name is Donald J. Trump and we are not going to follow the policies of the prior administration.

It's a slam dunk. He's completely within his mandate. There is a problem with these seven nations and I expect the courts to decide in favor of the White House.


KING: Why is he leaving?

BAKER: Well, there's all kinds of talk about this. One is obviously the broader picture which you talked about, which is the diminishment of that wing of the White House. He is one of the leading ideologists inside that team on the anti-Muslim, you know, Breitbart-type program, and he's on the way out. There's also a question apparently about his security clearance, can he get a security clearance. In which case, are you able to do national security policies if you don't have a security clearance? So there's talk about putting him in some other part of the administration, perhaps State Department, some other place. They haven't decided.

KING: Keep an eye on that one.

Everybody sit tight.

Up next, persistent or foolish. The White House says it's ready to press for another Obamacare repeal vote. And the president gives an answer on preexisting conditions that leaves some with a headache.


[12:17:02] KING: Welcome back.

At the White House this morning, confidence. The first week of the second 100 days will erase a major failure of the first 100.


GARY COHN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Do we have the votes for health care? I think we do. This is going to be a great week. We're going to get health care down to the floor of the House. We're convinced we've got the votes. And we're going to keep moving on with our agenda.


KING: Just a little advice for those of you scoring this at home. The White House has repeatedly and falsely bragged it has the votes for another House try at repeal and replace. But this week just might be different. House Republican leadership sources are telling CNN they're still short the votes needed for passage, but say there is a desire to try again and that maybe, just maybe, it could happen this week. Really?

RAJU: They're going to try. It's not -- they're -- the problem is the recess next week in the House. The members are -- leadership is nervous about sending their members home to get screamed at in those town hall meetings --

KIND: Didn't they just have a two-week recess?

RAJU: They did and now they're going to a one-week recess in the House. So they want to try to see if they can build towards this momentum on this deal that was cut between one member of the Tuesday Group and moderate conference and the support now from that very conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Now, they may be able this week at the earliest (ph). It's still going to be very close. We don't know where a number of the members are. Paul Ryan was on the phone this weekend trying to lock down support. The question is, though, even if it does pass the House, what its future is --

KING: Right.


RAJU: Because in the Senate there are a lot of issues, including procedural issues because they're trying to use a budget mechanism and some of these measures that are in the bill will run afoul of the rules in the Senate and then how to reconcile the House and the Senate. This is a long way to go from becoming law, even if they were successful this week.

KUCINICH: It also doesn't help when you hear what the president is saying, that pre-existing conditions are in this bill. They're not.

KING: Let's play it. Let's play it. The president did a long interview with John Dickerson of CBS' "Face the Nation" and I want you to listen to this exchange. Part of it is hard to follow because there are interruptions back and forth. It's part of the president's interviewing style. But listen to what he's saying. If you have a preexisting condition, if you now get guaranteed coverage of -- under Obamacare, if they change it, will you keep it?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, it has to be, you know.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: In one of the fixes that was discussed, preexisting was optional for the states.

TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes, and they're changing it and changing --

DICKERSON: Oh, OK, so it would be permanent?

TRUMP: Of course. This has to be --

DICKERSON: OK. Well, that's a development, sir.

A crucial question, it's not going to be left up to the states? Everybody gets preexisting no matter where they live, guaranteed?

TRUMP: No, but the states are also going to have a lot to do with it --


TRUMP: Because we ultimately want to get it back down to the states.

DICKERSON: It's a guarantee (ph).

TRUMP: The state is going to be in a much better position to take care because it's smaller.

DICKERSON: So I'm not hearing you, Mr. President, say there's a guarantee of preexisting conditions.

TRUMP: We actually have a -- we actually have a clause that guarantees.


KING: OK. He said -- he says we have a clause that guarantees.


KING: Before you jump in, Charlie Dent is a moderate member from Pennsylvania who's been part of this. He can't support the deal being brokered. He can't support it because?


REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: All I can tell you is the amendment that has been offered does weaken protections for people with preexisting conditions because states will be able to opt out or waive out of it. So I think that is a very big concern for many of the center right members with whom I'm affiliated with.


[12:20:08] KING: So does -- the question then becomes, does the president not know what's in the legislation or is the president selling us snake oil?

KUCINICH: Well, he's right, that there is a -- there is a -- it's one of the things that are being discussed is the waivers for pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, that's what they're talking about passing as the bill.

KING: Right.

KUCINICH: To send to the Senate.

KING: That's how they got the House Freedom Caucus on board.

KUCINICH: That's how they got the House Freedom Caucus on board.

MECKLER: The issue -- the issue here, just so people understand, is that it's not just -- it's -- if you already have -- if you're already sick in this country, the question is not just can you get insurance but at what price.

KING: Right.


MECKLER: And under this amendment that is being considered. What got the conservatives on board is states would have the option of essentially saying, hey, insurance companies, you can charge people whatever they want.

KING: Right.

MECKLER: And that goes much back -- closer to where we were before the Affordable Care Act, where essentially you would -- if you had a hang nail or acne or anything minor things, you could either be denied or be charged very, very high rates. So I think this is kind of disturbing either way for the president.

KING: Right.

MECKLER: Either he's not to know or to lie about it. Either way is kind of a problem.

KING: Right, because when he did that interview, the proposal on the table allows states to opt out, and they can tell insurance -- yes, yes, if you have a pre-existing condition, insurance, they'd have to offer you coverage, but they could charge you whatever they want, correct?


KING: That's essentially where we stand right now. So part of it is, does the president understand the details because this is one of the complaints the first time around, that the president didn't understand all the details. That was one of the complaints. The other one was, when the speaker told him to stop negotiating because he had to get the votes, he kept negotiating. The question now is, does a president, at a 44 percent approval rating, when you've had this chaos and dysfunction on an issue frankly the Republicans should have figured out during the transition. This was a signature campaign proposal for years --

MECKLER: Or somewhere over the last eight years.

KING: Yes, for years. Yes. But once they had a Republican president, they had the whole transition to figure this out and they clearly didn't. Will Republicans listen to the president as he hits the road like he did Saturday night?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll repeal and replace Obamacare. You watch. And I'll be so angry at Congressman Kelly and Congressman Marino and all of our congressmen in this room if we don't get that damn thing passed quickly.


KING: It is fascinating, a Republican president on the road name calling Republican members of Congress.

BAKER: In the room.

MECKLER: I mean the problem here -- the problem that stems from -- when he ran as a candidate for president, he didn't put forward a plan, a coherent health care plan. Nobody had a health care plan that they're --

KING: Except he put -- he put forward things that box in the Republicans because he put forward Democratic ideas.

MECKLER: Sure. Yes.

KING: He put forward, I like this in Obamacare, I like that Obamacare.

MECKLER: Yes, exactly.

KING: That's one of the problems for Republican. They're trying to pass their old bill, which doesn't fit President -- the president's --

MECKLER: Exactly. So he's blaming them. But, in fact, he never really had a coherent -- he didn't seem to understand the policy. He doesn't have a -- didn't have a coherent policy that he ran on. Nothing for the party to rally around. And he doesn't have a coherent policy now. So I'm not sure who's fault all of this is.

KING: What does it say to all Republican Washington, a Republican president, a Republican Senate, a Republican House, they've been campaigning against Obamacare while it was being passed, but since it was signed into law, if we get -- can they try and fail again? I mean can they go through that after just -- maybe they fix it all the next time they get around to spending, but they just gave away a lot in the spending fight. Are they going to fail on Obamacare again?

RAJU: They can't say they did. I mean that -- which is why they say they're going to keep trying. They don't think they can just completely pull the plug because the real concern, the base will just revolt and they will not come out in 2018. So at least now they've something to point to that they're trying. They're trying to revive this failed effort. But it's going to be hard to make that case, of course, if they fail again. That's why -- which makes this week so critical.

KING: Is -- is there anyone who can map out legislation getting to the president's desk or is this now, let's get the House to pass something so we can blame the Senate?

BAKER: Well, the problem is, they're negotiating within a very narrow pool of people only among Republicans. There's no Democrats apart of this conversation. In 2009 when Obama at least tried to negotiate with Republicans, they started off with a larger pool of people to talk with.

KING: Right.

BAKER: Here they're only negotiating among themselves. And the fact is that, you're right, at this point it's only about getting at least something to check on a box and say that they've gotten someplace because otherwise it's going to look really bad.

KING: A fascinating week ahead. We'll watch that one.

Up next, why is the president's campaign committee running TV ads three years before the next campaign?

And this 100 day question, is Donald Trump changing the presidency or is the presidency changing Donald Trump?


[12:28:23] KING: Welcome back.

Saturday night on day 100, a campaign style rally.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the media's job is to be honest and tell the truth, then I think we would all agree the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade.


KING: OK, we don't get votes on Obamacare repeal, but I digress.

And then this today. In the inbox at 5:00 a.m., Trump campaign releases new TV ad, first 100 days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): A respected Supreme Court justice, confirmed. Companies investing in American jobs again. America becoming more energy independent. Regulations that kill American jobs, eliminated. The biggest tax cut plan in history.


KING: The re-elect campaign out with its first ad in May of 2017. What -- just what's the strategy? What's the strategy?

RAJU: He's getting whacked in the media for not fulfilling his campaign promises and so he's not getting earned (ph) media, so he wants to turn it into good paid media. The problem is that there's some factual inaccuracies in that.

KING: Yes.

MECKLER: Just a couple.

RAJU: Yes, exactly, saying that he has the biggest tax cut plan in history or however they characterize it there, that is a -- you know, a two page --

KING: That's his tax cut plan.

RAJU: Yes, it --

MECKLER: Did you -- did you notice -- did you notice on the screen it says --

KING: That's his tax cut plan (INAUDIBLE).


RAJU: And getting that passed is going to be very difficult if not impossible in this political environment. So it's -- MECKLER: Did you see on the screen when they were saying biggest tax cut plan in history? On the screen it just says "biggest tax cut in history," which is a little bit different.

KING: Tax cut. Right. Right. Right, there's some hyperbole there.

BAKER: And claiming -- and claiming credit for 500,000 jobs, which, of course --

KUCINICH: I was going to say that.

KING: Right.

BAKER: You know, nothing he's done at this point is affecting the job market that dramatically. I'll just -- fair to say he did cut regulations, fair to say he did confirm a Supreme Court justice. But the economy takes a lot longer to move (INAUDIBLE).

[12:30:10] KING: Right. And at the end of the ad, they have a picture of him shaking hands with his national security adviser.