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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Wants "Temporary Deal" with Dems on Obamacare; GOP Lawmakers Open to Bill Banning Bump Stocks; New Questions about Trump and Tillerson Getting Along; Tropical Storm Nate Moving Inland. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 8, 2017 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[08:00:18] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Nate hits the Gulf Coast, another test after Harvey, Irma and Maria.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you're throwing our budget a little out of whack.

KING: Plus, a mindless shooting rampage.

TRUMP: Our souls are stricken with grief for every American who lost a husband or wife, a mother or a father, a son or a daughter.

KING: Also, showing who's boss, tensions with the military brass, and did the secretary of state call the president a moron?

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I serve at the appointment of the president and I am here for as long as the president feels I can be useful.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

President Trump says all is fine in his relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Really?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a very good relationship. We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes I'd like him to be a little bit tougher. But other than that, we have a very good relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, one week after the Las Vegas massacre, investigators remain at a loss to explain the gunman's motive. Here in Washington, there is talk of outlawing a device that made the gunman's arsenal more deadly, but is it just talk?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Fully automatic weapons have been outlawed for many, many years. This seems to be a way of going around that. So, obviously we need to look at how we can tighten up the compliance with this law so that they are -- so that fully automatic weapons are banned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're also keeping a very watchful eye on tropical storm Nate. It was a category one hurricane when it made landfall last night in Mississippi. The fourth hurricane to hit United States in just six weeks. Hundreds of thousands still without power this hour and there is significant flooding along the coast.

The danger far from over. While Nate doesn't pack the punch of Harvey, Irma or Maria, forecasters do warn the rapidly moving system will bring tropical storm conditions, including high winds and torrential well inland over portions of the Southeast. You see the track there. We'll have an updated forecast in just a little bit.

We begin, though, with President Trump, and a new overture to Democrats that has some Republicans nervous. Yes, the president says his ultimate goal remains repealing and replacing Obamacare. But he's been working the phones over the weekend hoping to get Democrats on board with some temporary Obamacare fix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we made a temporary deal, I think it would be a great thing for people. But it's really up to them.

Obamacare is a disaster, the numbers are out. It's exploding like I said it would. So, basically, if we could do a one-year deal or a two-year deal, as a temporary measure, you'll have block-granting ultimately to the states, which is what the Republicans want. That really is a repeal and replace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: One of the many interesting things the president said yesterday.

With us to share their reporting and their insights, Abby Phillip of "The Washington Post", also "The Post's" Karoun Demirjian, Michael Warren of "The Weekly Standard", and CNN's Sara Murray.

OK. What does he mean there? In the sense, the Democrats say, no, Mr. President, we saw what you did Friday with the repealing -- pulling back, rolling back the contraceptive protections in Obamacare. We see other administrative steps you take. We're not going to do any steps with you until you take repeal and replace off the table. But if you're the Republican and there is the president of the United

States, after you have failed for eight months to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying, I'll do a one or two-year temporary fix with the Democrats, doesn't that send shivers up your spine if you're a conservative Republican?

MICHAEL WARREN, REPORTER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

WARREN: And that's the answer. I think this is -- it is interesting politically as well because this is something where the -- this is one major issue on which conservatives have said Republicans, John McCain, for instance, not necessarily the conservative's conservative, has not had the president's back. They have gone out and said we need to find Republicans who are going to be supporting the president's agenda. And now here is the president, you know, looking for Democrats, to support his agenda.

It shows you that the president has sort of much looser idea of what it is he wants to accomplish. I don't think he has a grand vision for health care in this country. I think that's a big reason why it failed in Congress.

So, why not go with Democrats? Why? Because it can get you a win. I think that's his focus rather than any sort of, you know, market-based reforms to the health care system.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I think one of the things I heard there was Trump finding a new way to brand repeal and replace. He's basically saying, hey, we'll do a one or two-year deal, we'll probably get block grants at the end of it, and that's going to be repeal and replace.

And that's -- I mean, a lot of Republicans would disagree about that.

[08:05:02] But this is a president who is going to want, A, a win, but also is going to want to repackage whatever kind of deal that he gets with the Democrats into repeal and replace that he can run on. Maybe other Republicans, conservatives and those, you know, deep red districts can't run on, but he might be able to run on that. And that's the risk here.

I think there are some Republicans who want in the Congress who want, as McCain says regular order, they want to work with Democrats on a bipartisan deal. But there are other conservatives in Congress who do not want that. What they want is pure and simple, get rid of Obamacare, replace it with something brand-new, it seems very unlikely that at this stage, they're going to get that pure repeal and replace, and they might end up with whatever Trump is able to repackage.

KING: But the timing there is delicious because he had the Republican leadership in the Oval Office when he cut the first deal with Democrats and surprised them on the spending plan and raising the debt ceiling. Now, he says, we'll see if he gets to the finish line, a lot of complications. But now, he's trying to do one on DACA, the DREAMers, some sort of immigration with the Democrats.

So, you're the Republican Party, the president is cutting deal with Democrats on spending and debt. He's trying to cut a deal with the Democrats on immigration. Now, your seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare, which is in shambles, eight months into the Trump administration, he's on the phone with Chuck Schumer.

Chuck Schumer says, here is what Schumer said after the phone call the other day, the president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace, I told the president that's off the table. If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to this suggestion, to his suggestions.

Here is the tough part for Democrats. Their base will say, Leader Schumer, you cannot go into any conversations with the president unless he takes repeal and replace off the table. But if the president is saying we'll come back to repeal and replace two years from now and offers the Democrats some deal, isn't that a way to -- for Democrats, A, to maybe fix Obamacare and then see if consumers say, oh, OK, and then, B, push this into 2018, 2019, 2020 for the Republicans?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I mean, over the longer term, right, it makes life harder for the Republicans. The Democrats may need to swallow a tough pill in the meantime. And we're talking about the politics of it and not the real life implications of it, which is if you do make changes like this, if you do make a fix like this, you could stabilize some of these markets. You could bring some of these premiums down.

There are ways to tweak Obamacare so that it works more effectively for people and maybe the political price isn't quite as caustic if that's the situation we're in. I mean, certainly, that's the calculation that the president is looking at right now. We'll see how other Republicans feel about it.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's also just a question of, I mean, you know, he's going to spend the next two years trying to pick away at parts of Obamacare if they don't make a deal, right, which is going to squeeze everybody potentially -- in different ways, politically and actually practically as well as you mentioned. And, you know, do Democrats want to be a witness to that happening because they think they'll gain politically? They haven't been able to win on that argument that well or that consistently in the past.

And then the other question is, what will the Trump base voters do? Now, President Trump has kind of proved that he's the one who gets to dictate the agenda for the base, not the base dictating it for him. But we have seen how a lot of the issues affect his base in an adverse way, right? So, how much could they take of this picking apart the Obamacare regulation that the president can do by himself in order to force a political solution, is there a breaking point there for his base, as well as for the Democrats?

KING: And isn't that the Trump paradox, even as we enter the approach nine months, and that the president says, let's try to do deals with Democrats. But if you watch what his administration has done, with the people who worked for the president has done, on Friday, it was rolling back Obamacare says health insurance plans must offer women contraceptive services, free of charge, and those plans, the administration significantly rolling that back. The Justice Department issuing some new guidelines on religious liberty, the progressives say it can apply not only in health care, but also in other sectors, the Justice Department earlier in the week saying the civil rights laws do not apply to transgender Americans.

So, if you're a Democrat or Republican, you're watching the president on the one hand say, let's do deal-making with the Democrats. That's what he says, and then you're looking at the paper coming out from the agencies and you're saying, well, this is what he does, what's the answer?

PHILLIP: It's a high wire act I think for Democrats. And they have been talking about this from the very beginning. How do you make deals with someone who is basically poking their base every single day with real things?

But I think that that -- what we have seen with the DACA fix, perhaps, and with the budget compromise is that Democrats feel like even if in the short-term they can come together, come up with something that reduces harm for large swaths of the population as far as they're concerned, that's better than doing nothing. Even if it means still, you know, resisting Trump on civil rights issues or resisting Trump on, you know, birth control, and other issues.

But it's tough. It's very tough. And I don't know how long this is going to last. I mean, I think the Obamacare -- potential Obamacare deal is going to be maybe the hardest of them all, because it really puts the issues right at --

KING: But even just talking about it, heading into a 2018 midterm cycle, where both parties would tell you, it's all about turning out your base voters. What is the dissidence there among Republicans and conservatives, when the president says, sure, I want repeal and replace, but you guys have failed, you haven't sent me a bill, there, I'm going to call Chuck and Nancy?

[08:10:04] WARREN: Yes, but the Republican base, increasingly, it seems like, is simply with Trump, and, in fact, are against the Republican establishment. So, the Republican --

KING: More so than the Democrats maybe.

WARREN: Absolutely. I think that's the big enemy and that's something where Trump could be very effective at saying, look, follow me, trust me on --

KING: Does it turn out for Republicans in the 2018 midterms when you have the House and the Senate at stake?

WARREN: I think that's what's at stake.

(CROSSTALK) MURRAY: Nancy Pelosi was supposed to be the boogieman in all of this, and the president say, well, you know, I just call Chuck and Nancy and strike a deal and move on. Republicans are saying, wait, no, we're running against Nancy Pelosi in 2018, this is the strategy.

DEMIRJIAN: Although Chuck and Nancy aren't always totally in agreement. But I think before we get to the question of is it Republican or Democrat, can they field primary opponents that actually would damage and hurt some of these Republican candidates in the first place? Because I think if -- there is not that much time left for that too because these primaries start in the early spring, right?

So, if you can actually primary out some of these Republicans, that's what's going to be kicking some of seats potentially to Democrats down the line for the general population vote in these districts. But if they don't quite get their act together faster, then maybe some of the Republicans will actually be able to withstand this candidate of political pressure from --

KING: Stay tuned for the next phone call to Chuck or Nancy or the president will clarify all this today with some tweets in the morning. He sometimes does that on a Sunday.

When we come back, one week after the Las Vegas massacre, even the NRA is open to doing something about a device that helps rifles fire faster. But will this divide block action? The NRA says all that's needed is a new rule. Democrats insist there must be a new law.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:46] KING: Welcome back.

Why and what now? Both pressing questions one week after the Las Vegas massacre. Vice President Pence visited Saturday, stopping with his wife Karen, you see it there, at the memorial of 58 crosses, each of those crosses, of course, representing a life lost.

Earlier, the vice president spoke at a prayer service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In America, we mourn with those who mourn. We grieve with those who grieve. And I stand before you today on behalf of my family, and every family in America to say, we're with you. Today, we are all Vegas strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president was in Las Vegas earlier in the week visiting some of the injured in the hospital and with first responders including the sheriff leading the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He was -- he's a sick, demented man. Have they been able to find out anything else? Is it a little bit sooner? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's still a little soon. We have a couple of good leads. And we're working our way through that. We're going to get the answer.

TRUMP: Yes, I know. There might be something there. But the wires are screwed up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Evidence seized from the gunman's hotel room included so-called bump stocks, a device that allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire even more rapidly. Past shootings have this in common, the media clamoring for new gun control laws in Washington that soon fades without action. This time could be different because the discussion now includes top Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: Fully automatic weapons have been outlawed for many, many years. This seems to be a way of going around that. So, obviously, we need to look at how we can tighten up the compliance with this law so that they are -- so that fully automatic weapons are banned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That does make it significant. The Republican speaker of the House, a gun rights advocate, saying we have to do something. But the question is how?

A lot of Republicans are saying, and we'll get to the NRA in a minute, the NRA's position is, the Trump administration can handle this administratively, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms can issue a new regulation that makes these stocks illegal, let's not have new legislation. Democrats say, oh, no, let's get this on the books.

So, even though you have more urgency this time, more bipartisan urgency this time, might it still collapse?

DEMIRJIAN: We were talking about Obamacare a minute ago, right? And what the president is doing when it comes to these executive orders are. Regulations can be undone in the future. That is essentially a problem.

If the Republicans are fairly serious about not wanting the automatic weapons, and that's been a position they held for a very long time, the only reason to be really afraid of the law at this point would be that it is going to be -- momentum for the people who are pro-gun control to say, look, finally, we got something, because it's been years since they have had any sort of a win on that.

Even though this is a win that everybody agrees is something that should be done, there are some people concerned about that that means for the next thing down the line. Would you then go to semi- automatics? Would you then get the background check legislation that Democrats have wanted for a long time, or the law that would prohibit suspected terrorists if you're on a watch list, you'll be able to get your hands on a gun?

KING: So, that's what they just bring to this. That's why I think the president's words are so critical here. If the president tells the Republican Congress to do this, the Republican Congress will have little chance.

But to listen to the head of the NRA, the executive director of the NRA here essentially saying, I want to work with the president, but I do not want a new law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: What the NRA has said is we ought to take a look at that, see if it's in compliance with federal law, and it's worthy of additional regulation. That being said, we didn't say ban, we didn't say confiscate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Didn't say ban, we didn't say confiscate. They want the ATF to issue a regulation.

And that seems to be -- it was very politely worded, but that seems to be a marker to some Republicans in Congress, let us do this our way, do not bring a bill to the floor.

PHILLIP: That's true. But I think this issue is actually really not that great politically for Republicans. I mean, I know the NRA is breathing down their necks.

But, by and large, if you look at the polling, there is not a whole lot of debate in the American public about wanting a little bit more gun control. It actually would be fairly easy for them to do this basically getting the last vestiges of machine guns off the streets, say they have done something, and then move on.

I think that it is an opportunity for them to do it. I'm not sure they will, but it's a relatively easy thing.

[08:20:03] It's probably the easiest thing that's come across their desk in over a decade on this issue, and there is not very much debate about it, even with Wayne LaPierre taking that stance.

KING: It's a slippery slope --

MURRAY: But that probably has been, you know, consistent, like that is how the American public felt. What we're talking about here is a very narrow change, whether you decide to do it through legislation or whether you decide to do it through a rule, I think the NRA is worried that once you start going down the legislative path, it will become something bigger.

But, you know, frankly the big opportunity to do something like this was in the wake of Sandy Hook. And Washington made it very clear, there was no appetite to do any kind of real gun control. So, however they approach this -- sure, it might be a political win

for both sides, but it is still very narrow. I mean, we're not talking about significant broad gun control. I think many people in Washington feel like the moment to just kind of look in the mirror and say, is this what we want to do, is this the direction we want go is after Sandy Hook. People didn't do that.

WARREN: Well, I think because the appetite in the country was not for this. I mean, even after Sandy Hook, if you look at the polling on this, certainly Australian style gun confiscation or major gun controls, simply just weren't popular. It's s why it actually -- I think the NRA's concern, which I think you're right, that this is what their concern is, that if you do ban bump stocks through legislation, that this will bring on this whole lot more gun control legislation, they'll have momentum, it's actually unfounded.

I mean, really something like banning bump stocks, which is essentially closing a loophole, it's basically saying what's already illegal needs to be actually illegal. Seems like a legislative layup for Republicans. They're not going to face, I think, a lot of pushback from voters, and that's who drives gun -- the sort of gun debate.

KING: And yet, listen here, to Steve Scalise. We heard Paul Ryan, the speaker, at the top, saying I'm open to this, although he does not commit to legislation, he says we should do something about this, the speaker, that he does not commit to legislation. So, he's also saying maybe the legislation can do this with a rule.

But listen to his number three, Steve Scalise, just recovered from a life threatening gunshot wound, remember, the congressional baseball practice? He says, slow down, everybody.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), MAJORITY WHIP: There are people that want to rush judgment. They have a bill written already. And, look, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already said she wants it to be a slippery slope. She doesn't want to stop at bump stocks. It's a little bit early for people to say they know what to do to fix this problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEMIRJIAN: This is going to be so strange seeing Scalise versus Gabby Giffords probably for the next several months on this and it is going to be sad and depressing to watch.

But there's -- you said a minute ago, Michael, which is that, you know, nobody is proposing an Australian-style gun confiscation ban sort of a thing. It's background checks. It's the terror watch list. It's not been anything more than that for years.

And so, the idea of the slippery slope really is the fear. And frankly, I mean, yes, Nancy Pelosi said we want background checks too, other Democrats said we shouldn't just let this go forward. They should take a note from the listen of immigration reform, which is that when you try go sometimes too big, you miss the little thing that you can get, which is what they're grappling right now with DACA. Do they try to get more -- do they have to balance it with, you know, border controls or can they let this little thing that everybody agrees on go?

Similar situation. You don't build the momentum if you don't have the opening step. And yet, Democrats are wanting to pile on more, and the Republicans are afraid they're going to pile on more. There is a solution on there, don't right now and just wait for the next thing, but nobody is of course seeing --

KING: Excellent point, though. This is one of a thousand issues we can go through, where you can do one or two incremental things. However, both bases, both bases either want it all or they want nothing because of the -- that's the problem of leadership, I think they call it that word.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Up next, Donald Trump built a brand of being the boss. So, how do you keep your job once he hears you called him a moron?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:27:54] KING: Welcome back.

Let's turn to the curious case of America's top diplomat, and his strained relationship with the boss. We reported here in late July, the Secretary of State Tillerson was frustrated with the boss in considering an early Rexit. NBC this past week added some stunning details, including that Tillerson had called the president of the United States, his boss, a moron.

The president was furious when he learned the insult, we are told, and his chief of staff had to mediate yet another big personnel crisis. Secretary Tillerson stays, but only if he makes clear who's boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TILLERSON: President Trump's America first agenda has given voice to millions. President Trump's foreign policy goals break the mold. He puts Americans and America first. He's smart. He demands results wherever he goes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mark the president down as satisfied at least for now. But it's clear he's more happy with his chief of staff than he is with the secretary of state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: John Kelly is one of the best people I've ever worked with. He's doing an incredible job. And he told me for the last two months he loves it more than anything he's ever done. He's a military man. But he loves doing this, which is chief of staff, more than anything he's ever done.

He's doing a great job. He will be here in my opinion for the entire seven remaining years. He likes Secretary Tillerson. So do I.

We have a very good relationship. We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes I'd like him to be a little bit tougher. But other than that, we have a very good relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Just wow. We could spend a lot of time on that, including the president's confidence. The president's confidence, A, that he's going to win a second term and, B, that John Kelly is going to stay for that second term. I'm not sure about the Kelly part. I think the odds of Kelly staying for seven years are higher than the odds of the president winning a second term. We'll get to that one down the road.

I like Secretary Tillerson. Little punch there. Wish he would be a little tougher. The president's point -- clearly, there are still some -- a lot of dysfunction in this relationship.

[08:29:55] MURRAY: You think? I mean -- this is not -- this is not a president who gets over slights easily or maybe ever.

So learning that the Secretary of State called you a moron and then the fact that that then came out publicly, yes, that's a difficult thing for President Trump to get past.

I think one of the realizations though in this White House is they have had a lot of turnover. You know, some of it is justified. I think they feel largely positive about the decision for Tom Price to leave the administration. They feel like his actions were out of line. But a lot of has just been the volatility of this administration.

So then to lose your Secretary of State, I think everyone in that White House knows that would be a big deal. It would be a difficult thing to replace and so they're all trying to find some kind of awkward, happy-ish medium that people can move on.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You had a meeting when this was playing out the other day -- the President went off to Las Vegas. John Kelly, the chief of staff stayed in Washington, did not travel to Vegas, had a meeting at the White House with Tillerson but also the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

They consider themselves the adults in the room. They did even when John Kelly was still over at Homeland Security saying, you know, we're the adults. The President's new at this. We're going to keep this together.

Secretary Tillerson had to go out and deliver those remarks, making clear the President is boss. But when asked directly, did you call the President of the United States a moron? This --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that. We don't deal with that kind of petty nonsense. It is intended to do nothing but divide people. And I'm just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's not petty nonsense to ask somebody, a cabinet secretary, if they called the President of the United States a moron and he does not deny it. He sent his spokeswoman out later to say, no, no, no, that didn't happen. But he's the source. He's the person. He doesn't deny it. That is amazing.

ABBY PHILLIP, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. I mean it is extraordinary. And the fact that you have to, first of all, the fact that you have to answer those questions. Second of all, this whole episode has been nothing but pettiness from beginning to end. If it weren't for --

KING: Iran, North Korea, China, NAFTA --

PHILLIP: There are so many real things going on, right. And actually this is, you know, to underscore the conflict here, it isn't just the personality dispute between them.

The two of them do not really see eye to eye personality-wise. Tillerson is a very different kind of person. And he has a hard time dealing with Trump's sort of impetuousness and volatility.

But at the same time, there are some very real policy issues at hand here where they do not see eye to eye and where the President doesn't necessarily appreciate the feeling that Tillerson is always bucking against what he wants to do.

So it is deeper than just the pettiness and the name calling and that's what makes this so hard. And that's what makes it such a difficult situation for John Kelly to resolve as hard as he's trying to resolve it.

MICHAEL WARREN, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": And it's about undermining the President's authority. And I think that's how the President feels. When he hears things like this in the media, I think he hears it, privately as well, that there are people like Tillerson, like Mattis, who think they're the adults in the room, it's insulting to the President.

And I think this is something that he's been chafing, chafing at him, ever since he became president. And I guess now we're seeing the results of that coming out in public.

KING: And just to the debate -- Senator Bob Corker, now he's retiring so he feels no more restrictions here in Washington, D.C. But he's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I mentioned beforehand, as this was all breaking the other day, chief of staff Kelly, Secretary Mattis the Defense Secretary, Secretary of State Tillerson in the doghouse, all have a big meeting -- the President of the United States is the boss, right. Listen to Senator Corker's take.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and chief of staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much, you know. He ends up not being supported in the way that I would hope a Secretary of State would be supported. And that's just my -- from my vantage point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So much has happened in this administration and whether it is the tweets or the words or anything else, sometimes we get dizzy following the bouncing balls. But that is a leading member of the United States Senate, a chairman saying these three people help separate the country from chaos -- separate our country from chaos.

The White House trying to spin that as he meant chaos around the world and Senator Corker said, no, I stand by my words. This is a senior Republican senator, a chairman, saying that the President of the United States is the chaos.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": And the reason that it's so significant also is that this is not a senator who has been criticizing Trump like people, like John McCain has since basically the beginning of time.

He has actually been working quite closely with the administration. He's been blocking in many cases for the administration. The Russia sanctions bill might have happened months earlier if Corker hadn't been buying them time to try to make a better deal with Moscow over Syria.

So Corker is somebody who doesn't have absolute loyalty to the Trump administration, but he's been somebody who has kind of been so-to- speak an adult in the room himself trying to balance things between the White House and Congress. To have him come out and say this is very significant.

[08:34:56] There is a different work ethic at play here too, just to kind of jump on to what Abby was saying which is that Tillerson clearly is part of this group that's urging more restraint, that moves more slowly.

There's a lot of criticism about how he's running this revamp at the State Department and not filling roles fast enough. But Tillerson is not exactly a, you know, a fire and fury type of guy, if I can borrow a phrase that has real implications right now, and Trump is.

And so when Trump gets frustrated with how things are going and what options he's being given and what, you know, his top diplomats are doing, he fires off on twitter and starts these -- takes these frustrations that are probably in-house frustrations and makes them a public thing and then gets upset when the reaction is also made public.

So it's oil and water to begin with, right? And then you have a president who does not like -- who does not have a lot of patience for anything. And is reacting --

KING: And in the wake of that, we're focusing on the personality clash because it is so important -- the personnel clash because it is important given what the responsibilities are. Among them, Senator Corker talks about chaos, among them is North Korea --

DEMIRJIAN: Right.

KING: -- the President saying this week calm before the storm. It's the calm before the storm. He won't explain what he means by that.

But then just yesterday, tweeting again, presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made, massive amounts of money paid, hasn't worked. Agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry but only one thing will work."

Now, he doesn't say what the one thing is there, but back to fire and fury, and locked and loaded. If you're the Secretary of State and you're trying to negotiate with North Korea to get them to dial it back, you don't think that's helpful, but the President does.

MURRAY: Well -- and this is the problem. I mean this is why when you look at people in past administrations who've worked in the State Department they say it's really important for the Secretary of State and for the President to have a very close working relationship.

That is how you are most successful as Secretary of State because other nations need to be able to trust that you are speaking on behalf of the administration, you are speaking on behalf of what the President wants.

And right now, if you are Rex Tillerson and the President has been, you know, basically like bouncing you up and down all week and disagreeing with you from a policy perspective, how are you going to go to any of these other nations and try to insist that you are speaking on behalf of the White House, that you're speaking on behalf of the administration?

I think it was one thing earlier on when the White House was sort of giving an indication that look, this is a little bit of good cop, bad cop. We have our folks who are doing the negotiations, who are doing sort of this outreach and then the President is going to say what he wants to say. We have a carrot and stick approach.

That doesn't work if nobody trusts the words that are coming out of the Secretary of State's mouth and no one believes he's a credible figure in this administration.

KING: As the Chinese would say -- they're saying great point Mr. Secretary, let's check the President's Twitter feed. See if he agrees with you.

Everybody sit tight.

Up next, we go to the CNN Weather Center for the latest on Tropical Storm Nate.

[08:37:34](COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

Let's take a break from politics for a moment, get an update on Tropical Storm Nate. You can see right there now it poses a threat across the southeastern United States.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers has the latest for us in the weather center. Good morning -- Chad. What's going on out there?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning -- John.

It's down to 45 miles per hour now and really centered over about Montgomery, Alabama. Still seeing the storm surge here, though in the coastal communities and in the back bays here, all the way from almost Panama City right through Mobile and into Gulf Port, Mississippi.

That's the area that still has the wind blowing on shore. So the waves are blowing on shore and so is the water. Kind of like when you cool off your cup of coffee and you blow on the top, the water of the coffee goes to the one side of the cup, the side that is away from you. That's kind of what is happening here.

We had an 89-mile-per-hour wind gust as it made landfall near Venice in Louisiana last night and another landfall in Biloxi in the overnight hours as well. That's where the storm surge truly is.

The threat today will be small tornadoes. Ones and twos, EF1s, EF2s -- maybe 110 and 120 miles per hour though. That's enough to cause damage. And the second threat is the flooding that' going to go on from northern Alabama through parts of western North Carolina, South Carolina, and also into Kentucky and Tennessee.

Some spots, John, could pick up about five or six inches of rain in about five or six hours and that's enough. Now, this isn't Harvey. This isn't 40 inches because it is moving fast. Still moving about 25 miles per hour, but you put down a lot of tropical rainfall in one time in one spot and you will certainly see some flooding there -- John.

KING: Chad, appreciate the update. We'll keep in touch throughout the day. If you're in any of those communities on that path, keep in touch, listen to your local officials. Keep watching here for the updates.

Let's go back into the room. This is the fourth hurricane to hit the United States, downgraded to a tropical storm. The fourth hurricane to hit the United States in six weeks; the third to hit the United States mainland in six weeks. So number one, for the most part, FEMA, the President's federal response, especially here in the mainland United States has received pretty high marks. We're going to see again here whether the stress and strain kicks in at some point and God bless all the first responders of whether it's the federal emergency management people, state emergency management people who have been tested by this.

Where the President has had a bit of a flak, a bit of a pushback as you were just in Puerto Rico with the President, here was one moment that people found, shall we say, a little bit awkward. The President talking with Puerto Rico's governor, who's been publicly very supportive of the President. The President trying to make the case -- a, I'm doing great, and b, this isn't so bad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that die, and you look at what happened here, what is your death count as of this moment? 17?

RICARDO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: Sixteen, certified.

TRUMP: Sixteen people certified -- 16 people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: At a minimum, the language is beyond awkward. You can be very proud, 16 people are dead and they doubled the death toll shortly after that event.

Number one, you can't compare storms. You just cannot compare storms. These are human beings, and whether it is one or a thousand or somewhere in between, there are friends, there are neighbors, brothers or sisters. But if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, the people of Puerto Rico don't feel that this was not a real catastrophe.

MURRAY: No, they very much feel like it is a real catastrophe. It is a real catastrophe.

[08:45:01] You know, these death tolls are being revised because there are areas of Puerto Rico that they still hadn't even been able to access by the time the President was on the ground.

Puerto Rico looks like you put it in a snow globe and you shook it and then you put it back down. There are no tops on the trees. There are not roofs on the houses. There are roads that are still impassable.

And people are already leaving, coming to the mainland, coming to the United States, coming to Florida because they're looking at the devastation and saying, I don't have any water. I don't have any power. I don't have any cell phone service. There is no one to call to come fix my roof. And I don't have a job because wherever I worked before also has no roof and no power, and who knows where the owners are, they're dealing with their own situation. So it is a crisis in Puerto Rico. It is a humanitarian crisis. And they are now putting more and more assets on the ground. It is going to be a long-term effort. It's going to be very expensive.

Nothing in the way the President -- nothing in his tone was indicative of that when he was on the ground.

WARREN: I think if you listen to what he said. What does he say? He immediately compares to Katrina. He talks about sort of the way in which that was perceived. I think this is a president who thinks about things in terms of how is it perceived on television? And trying to make the case, trying to make a PR case that what his administration did, hey, it wasn't as bad as that disaster which was the Bush administration's response to Katrina.

We're never going to get the sort of feel good rhetoric coming out of this president. We shouldn't expect it even though it is what he ought to do.

And so what are we left with here? We're left with a president who has got a crisis on his hands who doesn't seem to have any way of addressing the actual real things that Sara just described.

KING: He said in this interview with Mike Huckabee yesterday that aired last night, I guess, taped the other day that he's getting a bad shake in the media but I would just look at the pictures on the ground in Puerto Rico. Let's hope everybody -- let's hope everybody does a better job every day going forward.

Up next our reporters share from their notebooks including how the President's closest advisers evolved on the Iran deal and to whom the President turned for advice.

[08:46:58] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.

Abby Phillip.

PHILLIP: Well, despite all the President's denials about that Tillerson story saying that he threatened to quit and called him a moron, I'm told by White House aides late this week that the two have not met face to face and there are no plans at the moment for that to happen.

Their relationship is on ice, thin ice. And, you know, he has the job right now. But when you talk to folks in the White House, they say we just don't know. At any moment the President really could just change his mind.

They haven't really had any opportunities to broach the conflict over this issue. And as time goes on, I think there are a lot of White House aides who suspect that the President is going to stew and stew and then one day Tillerson is no longer going to have that coveted presidential confidence.

KING: Detente at best.

Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: Well, one of the things that may determine -- help determine that fate is the rollout of the Iran deal non-certification as we're going to be seeing this week. But what matters in terms of the President's attitude about this is what comes next.

Because this is basically a one shot deal. You say I don't certify the terms on compliance, either you blow up the deal or don't blow up the deal.

We know they don't want to blow up the deal which means you get one shot to actually change the things you don't like about it otherwise you become the boy who cried wolf. Because you do this every three months, people aren't going to believe they're going to actually change anything.

That rests now on doing something in Congress. There has been talks and coordination going on for a very long time. We know that congress is going to try to address at least the main GOP complaint after ten years that Iran is put on a definite pathway to nuclear development.

But this has been a plan that has been made among Republicans. They don't have Democratic buy-in yet. The question is how hard are Democrats going to hold to the line of protecting Obama's deal and try to make this a political issue?

It is not clear who it is a win for. But it will become a political fight on Capitol Hill. And the question is, who will ultimately win and what will the President's reaction then be.

KING: It's a fascinating one. Big week ahead.

Michael.

WARREN: Yes, we talked about one shot for the Iran deal. This is actually a shot the President has been wanting to take basically since he took the Oval Office over. In fact, 90 days ago, when this recertification question was up for question, the White House was prepared. They're going to recertify and then the day that we learned this at the "Weekly Standard", the day that they were supposed to be recertifying, the President changed his mind.

And for seven hours within the White House there was this scramble, changing talking points, debates. The President was calling up Tom Cotton, one of the big opponents of the Iran deal, to have a conference call essentially with his national security team. In the end of those seven hours, the President did decide to recertify.

But basically from that moment on, he made the decision that he was going to do whatever he could to not -- not recertify the next time around. That's what we're going to see. I only mention all that to say the announcement is supposed to come on Thursday, but with this president, you just never know.

KING: One of the many unpredictables. Sara?

MURRAY: Well, this is a president that's been tested by a number of crises lately but one that's really been a raw nerve when you talk to administration officials is the response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. They're very defensive.

They are taking aim at local officials saying they're not doing enough, taking aim at reporters on the ground saying they're misrepresenting the situation. And no one has acknowledged at this point what they could have done better. What they have learned from this. What they might do differently next time.

There is still a humanitarian crisis that is unfolding on the ground in Puerto Rico. It is going to last for months. And it is clearly a very sensitive spot for this White House because they feel like they have done a really good job responding to other crises, responding to Texas, responding to Florida. They're certainly not getting high marks in Puerto Rico.

KING: The President says you're wrong. He'll keep saying that, I suspect.

[08:55:00] I'll close with this. House Speaker Paul Ryan, if you're paying attention, spent this past week on a tax cut PR blitz, promising the train is on the tracks. But many other big stake holders in the tax debate are growing more worried and they see too many parallels to the disastrous Obamacare repeal derailments.

There are again significant internal Republican policy divides in both the House and the Senate. Sound familiar? Procedural hurdles too. Even the characters are familiar.

Republicans, for example, need to attach tax reform to their budget. The House did its part this past week, but there are still some hurdles in the Senate.

Rand Paul, for example, is not sold on the budget. He wants less military spending. John McCain isn't sold either. He wants more money for the Pentagon. To many worried Republicans, it is deja vu all over again.

We'll keep an eye on that one.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.

Again -- thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. Hope you can catch us week days. We're here at noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. Have a great Sunday.

[08:55:54] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)