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"8th Man" Tied To U.S. Probe Of Russian Money Laundering; Trump And Putin Had Second, Undisclosed Talk At G20; Trump Said He'd Dismantle Iran Deal But Hasn't; NJ Governor Christie Booed By Fans After Catching Foul Ball; Author: Christie Went From Top Dog To "On The Outs". Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired July 19, 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, CNN ANCHOR: Did they not care? Even though the candidate's son, campaign chairman, and son-in-law senior adviser were in the room? Again, have they've been promised dirt on Clinton from the Russian government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: What we see here is again senior levels of the Trump administration and now the Trump family not coming clean with information and sent clearly, at least the original intent was to share harmful information about Hillary Clinton, an information that would help Donald Trump. Why was this cast of characters there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A lot of people say sometimes these questions are partisan, but I think that is a fair question, why was this cast of characters there?
MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: We don't know. I mean, the one thing that we did find out yesterday also from the Washington Post report about this eighth person that was in the room, was this is something that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into. He has made calls to the people connected with this cast of character as you call it.
And so we know that this is one of the many facets of that ongoing investigation. There's so much we don't know, there's new wrinkles all the time. But, you know, I have to believe that -- you know, the special counsel investigation ask not the source of the leaks that we've gotten so far about different revelations having to do with the Russia issue.
So if this is what we know publicly, we can only imagine what the special counsel is finding in his so far not yet revealed investigation.
MICHAEL BENDER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think we do know -- I mean, we do know why they were there. Whether Don Jr. wanted information on Hillary Clinton was disappointed when the meeting -- he says the meeting became about adoptions. And as to vetting, these folks, it's highly unlikely these folks were vetted.
They didn't follow normal protocol in bringing them in the first place. And on vetting, it's unclear to me if even Jared Kushner was vetted before joining the administration. So it's hard for me to believe that --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And others?
BENDER: Yes, right. That they would vet people coming into Trump Tower in a height of the campaign.
KING: So, an intermediary reaches out to Donald Trump Jr. and says, I have this people who have information they got from the Russian government, thus incriminating against Hillary Clinton, and they get a meeting at Trump Tower. If the president's son wanted to do this, and there been a lot of conservatives -- this is not us. A lot of conservatives saying he doesn't get it, that's being polite.
He just doesn't get the sensitivity of the politics and maybe intellectually didn't quite understand the idea of meeting with Russian people, saying they had Russian government information would be a bad idea. But you bring in Paul Manafort, a serious player in past campaigns, not a neophyte when it comes to politics, Jared Kushner, who is a neophyte when it comes to politics at that point, but is a senior adviser to the candidate who might be president of the United States. Did nobody say we should double check who we're meeting with in Trump Tower, the building the bears the candidate's name?
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: Not only that. I mean, you mentioned Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort is not only a political operative, he had some -- he's got some good knowledge about the Ukraine and Russia as well. So, this is someone who should definitely have known better.
PERRY BACON JR., FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: And so I would say, at this point, (INAUDIBLE) the meeting, we do know they've had a week or so to talk about this. So it'd be smarter for them to get out, who was at the meeting, and (INAUDIBLE) as the Post reported, us, you know, maybe talking about it and hype it up a little bit. It'd be smart for them if they just get it out about this meeting.
Here's who was there, here's what we talked about. Here's our version, here's our stories straight.
KING: But that has been a valid point, the one you just made. So (INAUDIBLE) from day one, whether it comes to Jeff Sessions' undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador, may have been nothing, but they didn't disclose them. Jared Kushner's meeting with the Russian ambassador, then with a Russian banker close to Vladimir Putin, they may have been nothing, but they didn't disclose them until (INAUDIBLE) information.
Marco Rubio makes the same point. The Republican senator tired of being ask questions about this, that maybe Team Trump should get together and put it all out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Maybe it be better if they -- be able to sit down over the weekend and listed everyone of these sort of meetings so we can put it out once and for all. As opposed to having to answer that every single day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, we're six months on Friday into the Trump administration, why is that that Republican senators have to sort of give the lessons of politics 101 now six months into a Republican administration. If you just figure it out, sit down, get everybody to give you their diaries, pull out a long list of the meetings so that we can't have don't drip, drip, drip.
BALL: Well, one of the things that you see is Republicans backing away from defending the administration and the former Trump campaign, because they feel like when they have defended it in the past, the rug has been pulled out from under them by a new revelations. You had a lot of Republicans in Congress who were saying, sure, there was Russian meddling but we know it had nothing to do with Trump or his campaign because the president said so. And then it was revealed that there was contact with Trump and his campaign. So now they don't know what to believe and they don't want to be on the record asserting something they've heard from the president when it might turn not to be true later on.
KING: That's another. Something else we learned yesterday is that the president of the United States had a second extended conversation at the G20 with Vladimir Putin. We all knew about the two hour and 15-minute meeting that run way longer that it was supposed to. We now have learned that at the dinner, he went over to Vladimir Putin -- first, Melania Trump sat next to Vladimir Putin at the dinner, then the president made his way over at one point and spent nearly an hour -- the White House disputes it was that long, other people in the room say it was, nearly that long.
[12:35:11] Spent nearly an hour with Vladimir Putin with no other American official with him. No other. Putin's translator, Putin and the president of the United States.
Go online, do your research, check it just doesn't happen that way. It does not happen that way. Ronald Reagan wouldn't do it, George H. W. Bush wouldn't it, never mind Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It just doesn't happen that way.
And the New York Times' account of this, Julie Hirschfeld Davis often on this program writes, "The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States' staunchest, oldest allies."
There are number of ways to look at this. Number one, domestically, you know all the questions about the president and the campaign, and the allegations of collusion, the investigation of potential obstruction. First, he has a two hour and 15-minute with Vladimir Putin giving the Kremlin everything it wanted. We are the most important at this meeting and we get the most time with the president of the United States.
Then you do it again. So to the domestic audience, this is Donald Trump Saying, I don't care, I'm going to try to be friends with Vladimir Putin. To the European audience which have pressed him at the NATO summit then at the G7 and then again at that G20, we don't like what Vladimir Putin is doing in Europe, we need your help isolating him.
That's a -- I could use unpolite terms in the lunch hour here. That is a direct, you know, never mind to Angela Merkel, to the president of France, to others, to sit there with Putin for an hour in their presence.
KUCINICH: (INAUDIBLE) didn't mean isolate them in conversation, because that's what -- because apparently Trump actually went up to Putin not the other way around. But, one of the fears from the national security community and even inside the White House going into the meeting with Putin is that, this was someone who that the president would go off the cuff, the president would say something that he shouldn't.
And so that's why one of the reasons that meeting was so structured going into it. So the fact that the president went without anyone and we don't have -- the United States does not have a record of this meeting because he chose to go it alone. The only record that exists is on the Russian side of the ledger.
All of these things are very problematic because we don't know what was said. It could have been small talk, it could have been something more important. We don't know.
KING: And they could have just said, yes, the president decided to go over, he like the meeting so much, they could have told us about it. In the days after when they were asked, how hard did he pressed on election meddling. What else did he talked about with Vladimir Putin?
Somebody could have slipped out the idea that there was a second meeting. Now, they're saying it wasn't a big deal, (INAUDIBLE) why you're asking these questions. The president --
BALL: They want to talk about it.
KING: -- tweeted that it's sick, all this, you know, fake news media attention on. Is the president of the United States' meeting with the president of the Russian Federation at the first time, I think we're living in a democracy and normally people tell us about these things.
BALL: But the moment (INAUDIBLE) for all of this is going to be the Russia sanctions bill. Because there is a bill that puts harsher sanctions on Russia, passed the Senate with 98 votes, currently languishing in the House for more than a month, lot of Republican House members wonder if the White House is trying to kill it, if Republican leadership is keeping it off the floor.
The White House is against this bill. They say not because they're opposed to sanctions, but because it ties the president's hand in diplomacy. But if that bill gets to the president's desk and he has to decide whether to do something nice for his buddy Vladimir or not. That's going to tell us a lot. And then how Congress reacts to it as well.
BACON: Certainly Molly, but (INAUDIBLE) the compounds that were seized, you know, with Obama and their sanctions. So he have to think about two (INAUDIBLE). If the Trump (INAUDIBLE) he needs these compounds back which are blocking this bill, that becomes an issue of what does Putin have on him (INAUDIBLE).
KING: Then you have the policy piece of the wise (INAUDIBLE).
All right, up next, mark this down as a broken promise or at least a promise delayed. The Iran nuclear deal, very much intact, six months since the administration of a president who promised to rip it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:42:58] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That agreement has to be changed. We have no choice.
They have so out negotiated our people because our people are babies. They have no idea what they're doing. They will find out that if I win we're not babies. There's no more being babies anymore.
First of all we need people that negotiate properly not a guy like Kerry who doesn't have a clue. And we will have those people. I know those people.
I think it's maybe the worse deal I've ever seen. I think it's the worst deal I've ever seen negotiated. I will be so tough on them and ultimately that deal will be broken unless they behave better than they have ever behaved in their lives which is probably unlikely.
My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back. Most conservatives hate the Iran nuclear deal, and as you just heard, so did candidate Donald Trump. But twice now including again just this week, the Trump administration has certified that Iran is keeping its end of the bargain.
Now, the White House did leak out yesterday that the president almost declare Iran in violation. But almost isn't good enough for security hawks. And the new lie from the Trump White House, well, maybe things will go the other way at the next deadline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what the campaign pledge was, right? It was rip it up. The president will rip it up so how does this White House address that comment now?
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: By exactly what we're doing right now. We are not committed to any more re- certifications of this deal in the future. This is the thing, it's a technical requirement on a bad deal that we inherited, that we didn't close. Remember, this is the Obama regime's deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Sorry Mr. Gorka, twice blaming Obama. Yes, the Obama administration negotiated the deal, that's a fact. They have been in office six months, now they have twice certified Iran in compliance. Now, Sebastian Gorka knows the conservative criticism, and he's saying, well, maybe next time we won't.
[12:45:02] BALL: Well, this is, you know, part 702 of, you know, the ongoing series of things look different once you're in the White House, right? I mean, NAFTA was also the worst deal in the world. It was apparently a multiway tie. And that haven't gone anywhere either. And even the attempts at renegotiating have been -- have not gone anywhere to date.
You know, the Iran deal is interesting because it does provoke a lot of people who are conservative. It's not only people in the middle. And the other thing as you heard Trump in that clip saying, the only way we will keep it is if they are behaving perfectly better than they have ever behaved. That's not what the administration has said to justify this. In fact, they said Iran is in violation of the spirit of the deal.
So it's not they're behaving perfectly, and yet they're keeping the deal.
KING: And yet, they're keeping the deal.
BENDER: ObamaCare is in place, Iran deal is in place, but hey, you know, he shredded the last remaining credibility of the main stream media. You know, I don't know how that fits on a 20-20 bumper sticker but there you go.
KING: They'll try. And to your point, I understand, there are many things and running for president is very different than being president. You see this from every president.
They run saying they're going to do things like close Guantanamo Bay, if you're Barack Obama and it doesn't happen. Bill Clinton's (INAUDIBLE) against the (INAUDIBLE) in Beijing, had very good relations with China. So every president especially on foreign policy has big adjustments.
So what makes this interesting is the blow back from the conservatives. Who taught at least if not for Trump, when they got Vice President Pence that they would have somebody pushing their way. I just want to read you from you the National Review op-ed.
"The schizophrenic policy is ultimately unsustainable. There is no reason why the Trump administration should bolster Iran's gains by propping up a bad deal and perpetuate the fantasy that Iran is abiding or even intended to abide, by the terms of its agreement. Candidate Donald Trump declared that he would dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran. That was a good plan then, and it still is."
My question is, when you're six months in, next year will be the midterm election year, when you have the foreign policy hawks voicing their displeasure. We see the luncheon going on right now at the White House where you have this fracturing of the party over health care.
Can the president put together the pieces -- he inherited this, a lot of this was fractured before he came along so it's not his doing. But can you head into a midterm election year if you continue to have, today it's foreign policy, yesterday it's health care, down the road, we have tax reform, we have infrastructure. This fracturing of his own party.
BACON: (INAUDIBLE) smart actually (INAUDIBLE) potentially because right now, the fight -- imagine the fight is between the administration McMaster, Mattis, people like (INAUDIBLE) stick with this for now, this is the sort of normal foreign policy decision. And you pull out of is because you don't -- because of it's the campaign promise. And I don't -- I think actually I can see them actually doing this. But (INAUDIBLE) like the Paris deal where actually might -- it might annoy people who watch them (INAUDIBLE). It might be the right thing to do, it might sort of bolster his base.
And I think that he can do this later on in next year and I think he will.
KUCINICH: Health care. Health care is what I think (INAUDIBLE). I think that the Iran deal is going to drive everything being how it is right now, right in the midterm elections. It's going to be the health care issue. If they're not able to do that, it's going to depress voters who'd normally come out (INAUDIBLE).
KING: As we're headed to this, (INAUDIBLE) John Bolton who was considered for a job in the Trump administration didn't get it. A very conservative former U.N. ambassador. "The Trump transition team should have identified abrogating the deal as one of the incoming administration's highest policy priorities, the administration itself has already shown the courage of its convictions by withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. Compared to that, abrogating, that's the technical term, JCPOA is a one-inch putt." And well, it didn't happen so we're watching as (INAUDIBLE) criticism from the ride on that deal.
Up next still, summer pastimes and Chris Christies. Maybe they just don't get along. First the beach, now baseball.
[12:52:40] KING: Welcome back. Yes, hard to believe sometimes but politicians are people too, just like you and I on a July night, what do you do? Well, put Chris Christie at a ball game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets the ball. Left-handed catch. Just noticed him. Boy, are you hot?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's a pretty good catch. Chris Christie right there showing that he can catch a ball, but he can't catch a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to see him get from the beach here to the ballpark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least he gave it to a kid, you know?
KING: A little shot there going to Christie. I think Christie took some hot water for going to the beach a week or so ago on the state beach that was close (INAUDIBLE). I mean, the guy makes a nice catch, he gives the ball to a kid and he gets flack, why?
BALL: He's the least popular governor in the country, and, you know, to give him a little bit of (INAUDIBLE), he's worked hard to get it that way. And, you know, when you've just been photographed on a beach and your constituents are saying, hey Gov. why aren't you taking care of our state. And then there you are at the ballpark. But, you know, it was a really impressive catch.
KING: There should be just some safe place in America, it should be a ballpark. We could just be a guy who catches a ball and gives it to a kid, no?
KUCINICH: Ballpark (INAUDIBLE). That is part of the national pastime.
KING: Yes, sorry Governor. And Christie is in the news again. He's been in the news a lot lately. But there's a new book, Joshua Green of Bloomberg about the 2016 elections called the "Devil's Bargain", and he talks about the president on election night. He got a call from then President Obama saying, if Trump wins I'll give you a call. Now Donald Trump is a known germophobe.
Chris Christie took the phone himself calling his cellphone and tell then president-elect or candidate Trump, if he calls me back. "The president talked to me earlier. If you win he's going to call my phone, and I'll pass it over to you."
Trump says, quote, hey Chris, you know my bleeping number, just give it to the president. I don't want your bleeping phone. This is Donald Trump then a candidate or president-elect by the end of the night, being a germophobe not wanting to apparently use the New Jersey governor's cell phone. And Josh being (INAUDIBLE) in the book and he's serious about this in the book.
He says, this was one of the big falling out that Chris Christie would be White House chief of staff or would be attorney general. Josh Green says, that was it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSHUA GREEN, AUHTOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN: That moment and in the days that followed, you know, he wound up going from being in charge of the transition and maybe ticketed for a job like attorney general, some high level job in the Trump administration, to being completely on the outs, sent back to New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:55:09] KING: Really?
KUCINICH: Man, tough crowd.
BALL: Well, it is one of the enduring mysteries of the whole Trump- Christie bromance, right. Here is the first Republican governor to endorse Trump very loyally at his side even when he took a lot of flack especially back home for it. And then he gets nothing. And you hear people around him say, oh no, no, he said that on purpose, he didn't want anything. But it's weird how far apart they've grown.
KING: It is and (INAUDIBLE) want to tell you as you this tape in the next hour with Brianna Keilar. Though the White House (INAUDIBLE) has gone into the beginning of the president's lunch with the Republican senators. The (INAUDIBLE) telling us and again, you this tape in just a few minutes. The president says he remains ready to act, I have a pen in hand, the president said, a pen in hand he says, for seven years, you had an easy route. Meaning, a Democratic president, you could promise to repeal and not have to keep it.
The president saying again, I promised -- you promised for seven years and action is not an option. The president said we shouldn't leave town until we have a plan. We're close, the president says.
Again, you'll see that tape with Brianna Keilar next hour. Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITCS. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Wolf Blitzer. It's 1 p.m. here in Washington, 7 p.m. in Hamburg, Germany, 8 p.m. in Moscow right now.