Return to Transcripts main page

STATE OF THE UNION

President Trump Begins 17-Day Vacation; Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Interview With Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson; GOP Faces Backlash For Obamacare Repeal Fail; Bernie Sanders Supporters Attack Kamala Harris; Will Trump Face GOP Primary Challenge In 2020? Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired August 6, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:10]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The Russia investigation ratchets up, with investigators hot on the Trump money trail.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication.

TAPPER: As the legal maneuvering intensifies, can the president keep it at bay?

TRUMP: It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.

TAPPER: The very latest on where the investigation stands now.

Plus: crackdown.

TRUMP: This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English.

President Trump wants to dramatically cut legal immigration.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Statue of Liberty says, give me your tired, your poor.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: The poem that you're referring to was added later.

TAPPER: But will the Republicans in Congress back him up?

And dog days. President Trump ditches D.C. for most of August, as he begins a 17-day break from the White House...

TRUMP: I promise you, I will not be taking very long vacations.

TAPPER: ... while insisting it's not vacation.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is officially not on vacation.

President Trump kicked off a 17-day break from the White House at his New Jersey golf estate this weekend, where, yesterday, he was spotted in full golf garb, rolling up on a golf cart to these wedding goers at the resort.

But he took to Twitter to insist he is not maxing and relaxing, writing: "Working in Bedminster, New Jersey as long-planned construction is being done at the White House. This is not a vacation. Meetings and calls."

A world leader embracing the notion of a little R&R is Vladimir Putin, whose government released these photos of him taking in a little sun at a lakeside spot in Siberia.

While the heads of state might be clearing their minds, the work of government, of course, still goes on. Just yesterday, Russia and China joined the U.S. and the rest of the U.N. Security Council in leveling $1 billion worth of new sanctions against North Korea.

I'm joined now to talk about everything in the news.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey joins us now.

Governor, good to see you, as always. Thanks for joining us.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Good to be here, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: So, "The Wall Street Journal" broke the news this week that special counsel Robert Mueller has been using a grand jury in Washington, D.C., to investigate Russia's interference in the U.S. election and any possible collusion.

This is how President Trump reacted. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They can't beat us at the voting booths, so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want.

They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: You're a former U.S. attorney. You know Bob Mueller and James Comey, for that matter.

Doesn't it trouble you to hear the president denigrate their integrity and the work that they're doing?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I don't think he was talking about Bob Mueller and Jim Comey there. I think he was talking about the coverage that he thinks has been unfair.

But let's make clear, Jake, this is a normal step taken by a careful prosecutor who is doing a thorough investigation. And I think that's exactly what Bob Mueller is doing. You can't issue subpoenas without a grand jury. It's the grand jury that actually issues the subpoenas. And so I think Bob Mueller wanted a grand jury that was focused on this, so he could issue subpoenas and then review the evidence.

That's a typical thing to be done in any investigation. I did literally thousands of these as U.S. attorney in seven years in New Jersey. And so I thought that the coverage about how monumental this was is just a fundamental misunderstanding of the way this process works.

This is what a careful prosecutor does to do a thorough review of the case. I assume that what Mr. Mueller is doing, based on my experience with him. And let him do his work.

TAPPER: Grand juries are investigatory tools, as you point out.

President Trump recently said that Bob Mueller would be crossing a red line if Mueller were to delve into his or his family's finances. CNN's reporting is that Bob Mueller is doing exactly that, looking into the finances of the president, his businesses, his family, his associates.

As a former U.S. attorney general, is it fair game to follow the money?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think, Jake, this is part of the problem with a special counsel.

And you will recall that, before it happened, I was saying, you should be very cautious about this and that I thought we had the professionals necessary already inside the Department of Justice to do this kind of investigation, because special counsels, at times, historically, have felt the need to produce something in return for their appointment.

And so you're always concerned about that. In the end, though, Bob Mueller is a good man, in my experience with dealing with him when he was director of the FBI and I was U.S. attorney. And I trust that he will be very careful to try not to go on a fishing expedition.

There's always a temptation to do that. I hope that that's not what he does. I hope the focus remains on what may have motivated any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, if, in fact, any collusion happened at all.

[09:05:11]

So far, as you know, there is absolutely no evidence of any collusion at all between the Trump campaign and -- and the Russians. But that's what investigations are for.

And I have said all along, let a professional prosecutor and his staff investigate it and let the chips fall where they may.

I believe that the president is telling the truth. And, as a result, I'm sure this will be fine for him. But that's what -- that's what investigations are for. I did many of those in my years as a prosecutor.

TAPPER: One of the things that we know Bob Mueller has issued subpoenas about is that June 2016 meeting between members of the Trump campaign, Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a number of Russians and individuals with ties to the Kremlin.

This week, the White House confirmed that President Trump helped to write that initial misleading statement from Trump Jr. about his meeting with that Russian lawyer, a meeting that was kept hidden for a year.

When asked about it, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There's no inaccuracy in the statement. The president weighed, in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Empirically, that initial statement was misleading. It didn't mention all the e-mails, the idea that this was sold to Don Jr. as the Russian government offering incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.

Do you agree that any father would help his son withhold information in this way?

CHRISTIE: Well, I agree with you up until the very last part of it, Jake.

You're assuming that the president knew about that last piece that you talked about. I don't know that he knew that, and neither do you.

But the fact of the matter, I have said before, this meeting was ill- advised. This is not something that should have happened. And I believe, if they had reached out to Don McGahn, the campaign attorney, now the White House counsel, he would have told them that.

And so I think that everybody, in retrospect, knows this was a bad idea. But let's not jump ahead of ourselves. We don't know that the president knew about those e-mails or about the content of those e- mails. And so we don't know what his own son told him about that meeting.

So, I -- you know, my view on this is, this is why we have people looking into it. It's not for us to make conclusions beforehand. It's to let Bob Mueller and his team do the investigation, and then let's have the facts come out.

And I think that's -- everyone will be better served by that, including the people of the country who actually want their government to work and do something about fixing health care, reforming the tax system, rebuilding our infrastructure, all the things that the president talked about during the campaign. It's time to get to work.

TAPPER: Let's talk about one of the issues the president talked about during the campaign and this week, President Trump this week embracing a proposal to cut legal immigration in half within a decade.

The bill would move the U.S. away from an immigration system based on family reunification, and towards a system based on factors such as ability to speak English, education level, job skills.

Do you support this legislation?

CHRISTIE: Well, I haven't seen the legislation, Jake, and I don't know in detail about it, except what I have read in the newspaper, so I try to be cautious about it.

Listen, I think getting more skilled people into the country is a very good idea for our economy, especially in a tech economy. When I have spoken to leaders of the tech community across the country, they have said they need more highly skilled people than we have currently here in the U.S. to be able to fill those jobs.

So, I think that part of it is a good idea. The rest of it, we should examine really closely. Now, there is some family unification that I favor, Jake, because we want to make sure that we get those skilled people to come into our country. They need to bring their families with them.

So, we need to look at this and look at the details. Again, this is like responding to health care. It's a moving target. My view is, we need to get more skilled people into this country. That part of it is a good idea.

The family reunification portion of it, I want to take a closer look at that.

TAPPER: You're in charge of the president's commission on opioids and drug abuse.

On Monday, you reported an interim report to the president, to the White House, and you asked for him to declare a national health emergency.

Have you gotten any indication that the president is willing to do so?

CHRISTIE: We have gotten really good response from the White House and, quite frankly, from the public, in terms of our recommendations. And I'm confident that the president will accept the recommendations of this commission. The fact is, it is a national health emergency, Jake. According to

the CDC, 142 people a day are dying in America of drug overdoses. This means, Jake, that we have a 9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks.

I don't -- if that's not a national health emergency, I don't know what is. And the fact is, we have got to stop the suffering in this country, and we need to be aggressive about it. And that's why we're talking about increased treatment, increased medication-assisted treatment, making sure that we interdict fentanyl and some of these other drugs at the border as they come in, and strengthen our ability to do that, and to work on education to try to prevent people from starting this before by educating their doctors.

[09:10:14]

Do you know, Jake, that, in 2015, doctors in this country wrote enough prescriptions for opioids so that every adult American in this country could be medicated fully for three weeks?

TAPPER: That's staggering.

CHRISTIE: It's outrageous.

TAPPER: Yes.

CHRISTIE: And we have stop it. We have stop it.

And four out of every five new heroin addicts start on prescription opioids. This is a problem that is not just starting on our street corners. Where it's really starting is in our doctor's officers and hospitals.

And we urge the president to take these steps. He's taking this commission seriously, as we are. And we make some very aggressive recommendations. And I'm confident he will adopt them.

TAPPER: On a lighter note, sir, the president is now on a 17-day vacation in the Garden State of New Jersey. Are there any plans for him to stop...

CHRISTIE: Of course.

TAPPER: ... stop by the gubernatorial...

CHRISTIE: Where else would he go? Where else would he go, Jake?

TAPPER: But is he going to stop by the gubernatorial beach house, is the question?

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: The president is welcome at the gubernatorial beach house any time he wants. We would welcome him with open arms for him to come and take some time at the Jersey Shore. As is displayed by last year's over $44 billion tourist dollars in New Jersey, there's lots of people coming to the Jersey Shore, Jake, as you know. Now, I would be happy to welcome him.

But we're just happy that the president has decided, of all the places he could go for some relaxation, at least a little bit, during August, that he's coming to the state of New Jersey. And we recommend that to lots of other people who are watching. Four weeks to go in the summer, come to the Jersey Shore. We're ready to take you.

TAPPER: Funnel cakes for everyone.

Governor Christie, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely.

As a Philly guy, Jake, you know nothing like the funnel cake at the Jersey Shore.

TAPPER: Love the Jersey Shore. Appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Major new developments in the Russian investigation that could put the White House in legal jeopardy. How will the president respond to that?

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:16:20]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Federal investigators are now examining whether fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was secretly paid by the Turkish government while working for the Trump campaign.

The new development reported by "The New York Times" comes as special counsel Robert Mueller broadens his probe to include what financial ties Trump family and friends have to Russia.

Joining me now to talk about this and much more is Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

Are payments made to Michael Flynn from Turkey or Russia part of the House Intelligence Committee investigation as well?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, we're certainly looking at all of the conduct of Michael Flynn, in the same way, I think, that the special counsel may be viewing the same evidence, in terms of what it -- what light it will shed on the broader Russian investigation. Of course, Michael Flynn, the allegations not only include payments potentially from Turkey, but also the payments he received from R.T., these -- and other Russian entities, whether they were allowed, whether they violated the Emoluments Clause, were they properly disclosed, but, more broadly, whether it shows an intent to work with the Russians in way -- ways that are contrary to law.

So, it all, I think, is within the broad scope of what we're looking at. But it's particularly significant, I think, in terms of the Mueller investigation, inasmuch as, if General Flynn was shown to have violated the law in other ways, it would be an incentive for him to cooperate more broadly with the Mueller investigation.

TAPPER: "The Wall Street Journal" broke the news this week that Bob Mueller has been using a grand jury here in Washington, D.C., to investigate Russia's interference in the U.S. election, possible collusion.

You just heard Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, say that the coverage was too breathless.

You're a former federal prosecutor as well. What does this development tell you about the status of the investigation?

SCHIFF: What it tells me is, if you look at the context, we know, from James Comey's testimony before our committee, that he opened a counterintelligence investigation last July.

So, that means, one year later, rather than turning that investigation off, rather than concluding, we have looked at this for a year, there's really nothing to see here, as the president would claim, instead, if these allegations are true, it's moving into a new phase, with the impaneling of a grand jury, so that special counsel can subpoena witnesses and documents.

That wouldn't be taking place if there was really no evidence, no evidentiary basis to move forward. And, of course, we can see, just in what's come out in the last month, why that investigation is probably closer to the beginning than the end, with these e-mails about that Don Jr. meeting, three of the top Trump campaign people meeting with representatives of the Russian government, effectively, who are promising dirt as part of -- quote -- "the Russian effort to help your father," to help Donald Trump, as well as clear intent by the campaign, Don Jr. saying that he would love that kind of help.

And now you add on the layer of the president, if these allegations are true, helping to fabricate a false statement about what that meeting was about.

So, I think it is a significant development, not particularly unexpected. And you're right. You can't read that this means that indictments are going to follow. But, nonetheless, it does mean the investigation is not only not being turned off, but it is moving into a new phase.

TAPPER: The nationalist wing of President Trump's political coalition has been waging a full-bore information campaign, sometimes misinformation campaign, to remove Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster from his position as President Trump's national security adviser.

"The New York Times" is reporting that the top hashtag among 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations on thought was #fireMcMaster.

[09:20:01]

What can you tell us about this Russian influence operation?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, we saw this during the campaign, that the Russians use their paid social media trolls, they use bots in order to push things as part of their active measures campaign, in that sense to try to influence the election, in this sense to try to potentially influence the firing of a top Trump campaign -- or not campaign, but Trump administration official, the national security adviser.

I think it's indicative of the idea that the Russians don't particularly like General McMaster. They may not like his policies, what he's advocating to the administration, or they may just be seeing -- seeking to sow further discord among Trump administration officials, feeling that that would weaken the administration.

I think General McMaster is a good man. I met him in Afghanistan when he was working there. I think he's a straight shooter. And I hope that the president will ignore those voices.

He is one of the people, frankly, one of the few people, that people on both sides of the aisle have confidence in that are within this administration.

TAPPER: Republican staff members for the committee you're the top Democrat on, the House Intelligence Committee, traveled to London earlier this summer to try to speak with Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who, of course, compiled that dossier of allegations of possible Russian ties to Trump's campaign.

Did you, as the top Democrat on the committee, did you know about this trip? Do Republicans have their own separate investigation going on?

SCHIFF: I wasn't aware of it. I don't think Mr. Conaway was either.

But the reality is, we do want to meet with Mr. Steele. We would like to have him come before the committee. If he's not willing to do that, we would be happy, Mr. Conaway and myself, to go to London to sit down with him.

He does have, I think, certainly very relevant information that would assist our investigation. We want to do this certainly in a cooperative way.

But I think that is an important element. We want to look at each of the allegations within the so-called dossier, and particularly look at them now in light of what we know from that Don Jr. meeting about the intent of the campaign to get Russian help. Part of that is discuss, not necessarily that particular meeting, but

that whole idea as discussed within Mr. Steele's findings in that dossier.

TAPPER: Can I ask you? The Don Jr. meeting with someone billed as a Russian government attorney who had dirt on Hillary Clinton, we only found out about that a few weeks ago, but it took place more than a year ago in June 2016.

You're the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. When did you learn about it?

SCHIFF: Well, I can't comment on when we're learning about particular pieces of information.

But, certainly, there are elements of that meeting that have added, I think, substantiality to our understanding of both what the campaign's intentions are, but also in terms of the Russians' tradecraft.

This is really exactly what the Russians do. They use intermediaries or cutouts to make approaches. They want to test the waters. And then, if they get a warm reception, as they did here, they can move further.

And if they get a cold reception, then they have some deniability. So, this is very consistent with what we see of the Russians. Of course, the most important thing, I think, for our investigation and Bob Mueller's, is to figure out what happened before that, because there was obviously a backstory to that meeting and that exchange of e-mails, and, even more important, what happened after that.

Don Jr., Jake, as you will remember, in those e-mails, suggests the best timing for that help would be in the late summer. And, of course, that's when the Russians begin dumping those e-mails, that derogatory information.

So, the Russians may well have concluded from that meeting their help would be welcomed, and this was the best way, through these cutouts like WikiLeaks and DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 to assist the campaign without putting the campaign's fingerprints directly on it.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, thanks so much for your time today, sir.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up: English only? The president wants new restrictions on what kinds of immigrants can come into America. But will his own party support him on this?

We will ask a top Republican senator next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:33]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you're at the White House, and you have so much work to do, why do you fly so -- why do you leave so much? Why -- you know, you would think you would want to work, work, work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: This -- this morning, President Trump is not at work, work, work, work, work. Instead, he is enjoying his 17-day break from Washington.

But Congress is definitely off the clock. After nearly canceling their vacation to try to salvage the health care legislation, they decided to take scrap that plan and take August off, too, despite failing to pass any major legislation.

Joining me now, Republican Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

You know President Trump tweeted that you and your fellow -- not you specifically, but Republicans senators -- are totally quitters if you don't repeal and replace Obamacare. He's also tweeted that he wants the Republican Senate to vote on nothing else until it makes good on the health care promise.

Is this a good idea, to vote again on this bill that has already collapsed?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Good morning, Jake.

Well, the bottom line is, Obamacare markets are collapsing across the nation. Insurers are deciding to pull out of the markets. So, from my standpoint, we do need to stabilize those markets. And the issue is not going away.

I continue to have discussions with governors and House members and other senators in terms of what is the path moving forward. So, this issue isn't going away. In terms exactly what the order of legislation, I really do think we probably ought to turn our attention to the debt ceiling and funding the government and tax cuts, until we can really get all the parties together.

And from my standpoint, that really is getting the governors, House members, senators in the White House on the same page in terms of health care.

[09:30:00]

TAPPER: The president has been very critical about the fact that you and your Senate colleagues just started a month-long break after wrapping up a governance period that's been called historically unproductive. Obamacare untouched, as you noted, taxes have not been cut, the border wall remains unbuilt.

What do you say to voters, many of them in your own party, who look at the record and think that the Republican Party has failed to deliver?

JOHNSON: Well, my preference would have been to stay in session to, you know, grapple with those issues I was talking about. At the same time, get back in the state and talking to constituent.

On Friday I travelled with Agriculture Secretary Perdue and had some, you know, really informative discussions with farmers and agriculture in the state. So, you know, we're not on vacation. We really are working.

And again I continue discussions on health care as well as taxes with my colleagues even though we're not in Washington, D.C.

TAPPER: Let's talk about these farmers because President Trump is throwing his weight behind legislation that would cut legal immigration in half over the next decade.

You have noted that dairy farmers in the great state of Wisconsin rely on immigrant workers as currently written, would you vote no on this immigration bill?

JOHNSON: Well, what I'm hoping is the bill that senators Perdue and Cotton introduced possibly combined with my own guest worker visa program managed by the states, combined with what Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin are doing will start a serious discussion in terms of what we need to do in terms of fixing our incredibly broken legal immigration system.

But, you know, Jake, if you take a look at the facts on average we've been admitting about a million people with legal residencies. In 2015, where we had the best data 65 percent of those were based on family relationships, 21 percent were diversity, refugees, asylees and others. Only 14 percent had anything to do with work.

Now there literally (ph) hundred millions of people that want to come into America to seek the opportunity that only America really offers, we should be selective. We should target those individuals that can come here on a merit-based system and add to our economy.

Cotton and Perdue are still maintaining the spousal and minor children priority. So again, let's have an honest conversation about this. Let's try and get the demagoguery out of it.

And recognize that our number one goal should be, how do we grow our economy? Because we got to grow our economy so we can reduce our debt deficits. We have the resources to build our military so we can address all these serious stress facing America.

TAPPER: A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing legislation to try to protect special counsel Bob Mueller for potentially being fired by President Trump. It's (ph) being offered by Chris Coons and Thom Tillis, you Republican colleague from North Carolina. If this bill would come to a vote would you vote yes or no?

JOHNSON: That's a hypothetical. I don't see that Bob Mueller is going to be fired. But I also was pretty vocal, saying that, I would have preferred the congressional committees, the House and Senate intel committees, you know, finish their work, issue their report before we begin thinking about special counsel.

Let's face it the history of special counsels, special prosecutors sometimes they go off the rails. They start going in witch hunts. And we have enormous challenges facing this nation.

We really don't need that kind of distraction.

TAPPER: All right Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, appreciate it, sir. Hope you have a good district work period.

JOHNSON: Have a great day.

TAPPER: President Trump says Republicans are not getting the job done. And he blames Congress for the all-time low relationship with Russia.

Is he about to go his own way on Russia? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:38:06]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We know there are powerful forces in Washington who want to stop us, but we won't let them. We don't need advice from the Washington swamp.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That's President Trump. And from the way he talks about Washington you might think that he didn't control a big chunk of it with the party that also controls another chunk of it.

Amanda, let me start with you. It seems like President Trump on the stamp and on tweets is more and more distancing himself from Republicans in Congress. He refers to them in third person, Republicans, they, blah, blah, blah, talks about their legislation. What might this mean for Republicans on the ballot next year?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think, we're all trying to navigate this question of, where we're going as a party. And right now (INAUDIBLE) any legislative achievements to brag about. All the Republicans are getting an earful over August recess about it.

And so they're distancing each other from each other. Not only is Trump doing this, but you see so many Republicans starting to find their voice in speaking out against Trump.

We saw Jeff Flake came out to week. Lindsey Graham has no apprehension about this. And I think about, what did the Democratic Party look like in Obama's first term, first six months? I cannot think of one person who spoke out against Obama. But Republicans seem very comfortable doing this.

And so if there's no legislative victories at the end of the first year going into 2018, they're going to part ways a little bit.

TAPPER: Senator, early on, you expressed concern and surprise that Republicans in the House and Senate did not have Obamacare replacement legislation ready to go.

Take a look at this quote from Tim Phillips the president of Americans for Prosperity which is the political arm of the Koch brothers' network.

He said -- quote -- "This is an epic fail for Republicans. Their failure to keep their promise will hurt them. It will."

Epic fail. Is that how you see it?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, I don't blame the president at all.

The president, when he came into office, really gave the House and Senate the power to write the health care bill. I mean, the White House wasn't writing the health care bill. The House and the Senate were writing the health care bill.

[09:40:00]

And up until a week or so ago, when I would talk to the White House about the health care bill, oh, McConnell's got it. He's got it.

And the president will support the leader. The president will support the leader. He didn't get it.

And so the president, I think, feels like they've let me down. And, you know, I went there and I gave them the power to write this thing and they didn't.

So I think what you're seeing is the White House is now taking a step back and they're saying, maybe we need to start taking on some of this responsibility ourselves. They've -- they're working now with some folks outside of Washington on a health care solution.

And I would say that I think the chances are good that the president actually and his team are going to come forward with something that is going to try to change the tenor here.

TAPPER: Is this dangerous, Congressman, do you think, for the president?

He will need support of the members of the House and Senate Republicans if this Russian investigation goes into places he does not want it to go. We already see Republicans on Capitol Hill willing to push back the president on when he was badmouthing Jeff Sessions. This Russian sanction bill ties his hands.

We heard comments about -- it's almost -- well, not unanimous, but a lot of Republicans expressing support for Bob Mueller. Is this risky for the president to be pushing Republicans aside?

REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: What's risky about what's more risky is he isn't delivering on his populism.

He has returned to his same themes that he's going to take on the Washington elite. He's going to bring these communities back that the establishment has ignored but he promised them that he was going to have infrastructure spending and construction jobs. He hasn't delivered that.

He promised apprenticeships and small businesses and vocational education. He hasn't delivered that. And so if he's not going to work with Congress he's not going to be able to deliver on the promises that he made.

TAPPER: And, Nina, you're in Ohio. And when you talk to people that you know that supported Trump, because there are a lot of working class people, as you know, who supported Trump.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

TAPPER: Some of them supported Sanders in the primary and then switched to Trump. What are you hearing from them in terms of what they see going on in Washington?

Do they blame Trump? Do they blame Congress? What do they -- what do they want?

TURNER: It's a mixed bag, Jake.

I mean, as you pointed out President Trump or Mr. Trump did win 70 percent of the vote in 30 counties in Ohio. And in a lot of those counties President Obama -- these are the same voters that did vote for President Obama is mixed. Even though the unemployment rate is lower, people are not feeling that every day when they sit down at their kitchen table and try to figure out how to solve problems. It is a mixed bag.

I will say that the president speaking or talking against the Republicans in Congress is nothing new. That's how he ran. He ran on a Democratic -- or excuse me, on a Republican ticket but he ran as the antithesis of the establishment Republicans and that is how he was able to beat 16 other people.

So this is nothing new. No one should be surprised.

But what he's not doing is draining the swamp. He is not fulfilling any of the promises that he made on the campaign trail. And so the feelings in Ohio are mixed about him.

TAPPER: Speaking of interparty warfare, the next presidential election quite some time away, is three and a half years but it's never too early to start --

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Never too early.

TAPPER: Polk County Democrats in Iowa announced this week that the Iowa Steak Fry takes place September 30th.

Surrogates for two potential presidential heavyweights on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are already sparring.

Take a look at what Bernie Sanders supporter (ph) Nomiki Konst said this week.

She said, "The Democrats will not win unless they address income inequality no matter how they dress up their next candidate. If that candidate is in bed with Wall Street you may as well lay a tombstone out for the Democratic Party."

Does Kamala Harris have a Bernieland problem?

TURNER: Well, I haven't seen that the senator said she is running. So that's not for me to say.

What I will say is that Nomiki is absolutely right that the Democrats have to do a better job. We lost in 2016 because we did not speak to the heart of the people, did not address their concerns. The economy, income inequality, wealth inequality is real.

Real income and wages have not increased since -- or kept up with inflation since the 1980s. So the pain that folks are feeling is real. And we cannot dress that up.

We have got to get out there and talk to the people, stop making up these slogans, a better deal. What does that mean?

That -- even that slogan, even that policy that they're pushing has left out large swaths of the population, particularly people of color. So the Democrats have to stop playing games and get to the heart of it. And that's -- that's the truth of the matter.

SANTORUM: Yes. Reality is that last quarter was the first quarter, lowest income quarter -- lowest income group of workers actually had an increase in their income higher than any other group in 20 years. So what does that mean?

You're talking about income inequality. It's the first time in 20 years under a Trump economy that we've seen lower wage workers actually do better than the rest of the population. One of the reasons for that, I would argue, is the crackdown on illegal immigration, deportations.

[09:45:00]

Who are those workers? Most of the people here illegally are taking low-wage jobs away from American workers.

Donald Trump has sent a message out there. He has also sent a message on immigration overall. I think that has been a big thing.

And plus his emphasis on manufacturing. Donald Trump -- yes, I agree, he hasn't had legislative accomplishments but has done some things administratively. He has done some things through the bully pulpit that have changed the dynamic for lower wage workers.

TAPPER: Congressman, you have said that Bernie Sanders should absolutely run again in 2020. But you're also a congressman from California. Kamala Harris is your senator.

Would you -- where do you come down in this Bernie forces versus Kamala Harris forces fight?

KHANNA: Well, I think the lesson from Bernie Sanders' campaign in 2016 is none of the insiders should pick who the candidate is.

And that what we ought to have is give people the chance to make their case, have a compelling economic vision, speak to how they're going to bring manufacturing jobs back. Kamala Harris is also an attractive candidate. I mean, she has had a progressive record on criminal justice.

Senator Sanders, of course, has moved the party on Medicare for all in many issues. Let's have a diverse, open field where the establishment isn't picking the nominee.

TAPPER: Amanda, I want to ask you about this -- all the speculation on the Republican side as well.

Report in "The New York Times" about people running almost shadow campaigns. A, in case President Trump doesn't run for re-election or something else happens and, B, possibilities -- although no evidence concretely -- that somebody might challenge him within the party.

We see discussions about whether or not Vice President Pence is telling people that if President Trump can't do it, he's going to be there. And then also people like Ben Sasse of Nebraska and others. What do you think is going on behind the scenes?

CARPENTER: I think people are planning for contingencies.

We don't know what's going to happen. It is a long remote chance that Donald Trump won't be around for re-election but it's within the realm of possibility. But there's one name on that list and one name only, I really want to hear more from I think is being undercovered (ph) is Nikki Haley.

If you look at her career from the House to the governor's house, to the secretary of state, no Republican has navigated the Trump era better than her. She didn't endorse Trump. Somehow she still became a member of his cabinet.

She is doing a tremendous job messaging conservative policies on the national stage, sometimes at odds with the Trump administration. She beat the good old boy network in South Carolina to get where she is. She is (INAUDIBLE) politician and I think people should pay a lot more attention to her.

TAPPER: Would you like to see an Indian-American in the White House?

KHANNA: I don't agree with Nikki Haley but has got an inspiring story. So I will give her that.

TAPPER: Is it possible that a member of the president's cabinet would challenge him?

SANTORUM: No.

TAPPER: Not at all?

SANTORUM: No. There's no way that's going to happen.

I mean, Nikki Haley has done a great job as U.N. ambassador and -- I think you're right. I think she set herself up for something in the future but it isn't going to be against Donald Trump.

TAPPER: My understanding, by the way, the reason she has that job is because the Trump campaign wanted to reward South Carolina's lieutenant governor, who had been a big supporter of the president --

SANTORUM: Henry McMaster, yes.

TAPPER: And so they cleared -- they cleared the governor's office and now he's the governor.

What do you think about the possible interparty warfare going on in the Republican Party? You do see people going to Iowa, which is unusual when you have an incumbent president of that party.

TURNER: Well, it's call elections, Jake, for a reason. I mean, people are going to run in 2020.

TAPPER: Republicans, though?

TURNER: Republicans might run in 2020. You know, my governor, Governor Kasich, is out there.

We got to understand in this country even though people don't necessarily -- if you are elected or have been elected you don't necessarily want to see people run against you but President Trump has left things wide open for a challenge. He has not really created the type of atmosphere that says that he should go unchallenged.

He has proven himself in my opinion, thus far, to be unworthy of that seat and people are going to challenge him. But ultimately the American people need to make the decision.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you as the leader of a progressive movement, do you think that Donald Trump would be the strongest Republican to challenge whoever the Democrat is going to be, or would you rather run against Mike Pence or someone like that?

TURNER: I want the people do decide and that's what we do --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I'm asking you as a Democrat -- as somebody who wanted -- I understand that but somebody who want a Democrat or a liberal to be in the White House would you rather run against Donald Trump or would you rather run against --

TURNER: I'm hoping we'll have a candidate that can beat either President Trump or whoever they put up to run against. That candidate is --

KHANNA: We shouldn't underestimate him. I mean, his appeal to communities was, everyone else has forgotten you and I'm going to bring you back. I'm going to restore that dignity and pride.

And I think the Democrats -- we have to give an aspirational economic message to these communities to say, you can have opportunity in the 21st century, that we haven't forgotten you, that we want to harness your talent and hard work. And we've got work to do as a party (ph).

TURNER: But not just say it, do it, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. One and all thank you so much. Appreciate it.

It was an offer he reportedly jumped at, fending off flying sharks, as the president in "Sharknado 3."

[09:50:00]

So why did Donald Trump ultimately turn down that role? It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)'

[09:53:13]

TAPPER: Welcome back. It's the summer. So there are all sorts of perilous weather patterns, including over at the Syfy channel, "Sharknado." "Sharknado 5: Global Swarming" airs tonight on that channel.

This week we learned from "The Hollywood Reporter" that the very real President Trump was once talking to Syfy about playing a fictional President Trump in the series. And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: It must have been a hard choice to actually run for president of the United States or --

TRUMP: I'm a fighter and I'm now going to fight for you. I'm not fighting for me anymore. I'm fighter for you. TAPPER: -- take a spin as a fictional president battling shark filled tornadoes --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sharknados have been reported all up and down the East Coast.

TAPPER: -- in "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're sharks. They're scary. No one wants to --

TAPPER: We learned this week that Donald Trump was reported excited to play the commander-in-chief in the cheesy movie franchise.

TRUMP: When you're growing up in New York City and you're dealing with some of the great sharks of the world, it's not very good.

TAPPER: Though producer's first choice was former vice presidential candidate and Alaska government, Sarah Palin.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I'm too old for this. Come on. At this stage of my life, in my career, aren't I a little too prim and proper for all that?

TAPPER: She turned it down and the role eventually went to Trump nemesis billionaire Mark Cuban.

We can't help but think, though that battling great whites in Washington, D.C. might seem like a wall in the park compare to facing the subpoenas swirling around Washington from Bob Mueller.

[09:55:03]

TAPPER: Finally from us, today is the very last show of our fearless leader Katie Hinman who is taking a new opportunity at CNN but will no longer be running STATE OF THE UNION.

She has been a force of nature and a genius and we will miss her in this role. Though we of course look forward to continuing to work with her.

And with her replacement the new executive producer of STATE OF THE UNION the brilliant Melanie Buck.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.