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INSIDE POLITICS

Senate Vote on Budget; Bannon Aims at McConnell; Trump Speaks at Cabinet Meeting; Trump on Bannon. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 16, 2017 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:39] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

A big Monday lunch at the White House. President Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, very different men, often at odds, trying to navigate a GOP civil war and a tricky tax cut debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We promised to cut taxes and we have yet to do it. If we're successful, Mitch McConnell's fine. If we're not, we're all in trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, conservatives cheer the president's decision to stop insurance subsidies, but some Republicans see a political price if Congress doesn't step in and at least pass short-term Obamacare fixes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: What the president is doing is affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And the secretary of state says all is fine. Intact, to be specific. And that despite the president's scathing tweets, they are on the same page when it comes to North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Want to note, the president -- Secretary Tillerson among those meeting with the president right now at the White House. The president in with his cabinet meeting. We expect tape momentarily. He is giving remarks to reporters -- lengthy remarks, about everything ranging from world problems, to spending levels here at home, to the health care debate, to his relationship with his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. We'll bring you that tape in just a moment.

Next, for the president, a very busy and intense. This hour, the president will have lunch with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and Vice President Mike Pence. Top of their agenda, how to pass tax reform, how to salvage what has been a grim legislative year for Republicans. Both the president and the majority leader desperately need a win and they'll have to work together to get it despite their very rocky relationship.

This was McConnell in early August, listen here, clearly frustrated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Now our new president has, of course, not been in this line of work before. And I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: After that, an angry phone call reportedly devolved into a screaming match and weeks long cold silence between the president and the top Senate Republican. Except on Twitter, of course, where the president rapidly took aim at McConnell. For example, Mitch, get back to work. Put repeal and replace, tax reform and cuts and great infrastructure bill on my desk for signing. You can do it.

Needless to say, you can expect more than one elephant in the room today.

With us to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev from "Bloomberg," Jonathan Martin with "The New York Times," Sahil Kapur, also with "Bloomberg," and CNN's Sara Murray.

Again, we're going to be interrupted momentarily by the president of the United States at one important meeting with his cabinet. Then he moves on to the next important meeting with Mitch McConnell. These guys are so different. They don't get along. They operate differently. Their outlook is differently. And yet, at this moment in Washington, they desperately need each other.

For example, the Senate has to pass a budget this week. They're short votes at the moment. Rand Paul golfed with the president yesterday. He's still uncommitted, undecided on the budget. John McCain, undecided on the budget. I'm told they're going to send H.R. McMaster and Secretary Mattis to meet with Senator McCain when he get back to Washington to try to get his vote.

How important is this meeting and how important is it that these two figure out a way to work together despite the fact they don't like each other.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And perhaps the biggest news of the morning, Senator Thad Cochran is not coming back to Washington this week.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: So that could mean that they have one less vote. So the margin of error is even smaller. He's having some medical issues.

That's a real challenge because then, you know, if McCain goes, they get down to 50. You have to bring in Pence to break the tie. There's no margin for error here for the Republicans.

Look, if they don't get this budget done, that imperils tax reform. And if they can't do some version of tax reform or a tax cut, then that is going to be a disaster next year for the fundraising at a minimum and potentially in the midterms.

MARGARET TALEV, "BLOOMBERG": They need each other and yet they're both trying to neuter each other in their own very different ways with their very different styles. And that's kind of what makes all of this so difficult. It's like, I want you to hold hands with me, but I might shove you actually when you turn your face in the other direction.

KING: Right.

TALEV: And, you know, I think we're going to be hearing a lot more from the president in the next several hours because we have several opportunities to hear how this lunch went and what signals he is trying to send.

[12:05:02] But this really does get very difficult. And the calculation for the president continues to be balancing kind of the Steve Bannon voice on one shoulder with the voice on the other shoulder that says, you need to help the Republicans to keep the majority because that helps you.

KING: Right. And you wrote about this this morning -- you wrote about this this morning in the sense that we're going to hear from the president. We're told among the questions he took in this lengthy exchange with reports at the cabinet meeting was one about Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, who's now back at Breitbart, who says there -- this is the Ides of March, as he calls it, the season of war against the Republican establishment, including Mitch McConnell. The president, "The Wall Street Journal" says, spoke to Steve Bannon three times in recent days and said, go for it. Go for it.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.

KING: And you have reporting this morning, a lot of Republicans say, Mr. President, you must remember, you're the cheerleader, the chief, the head of the Republican Party, because if you have this dissonance and we lose the House, you might be impeached.

MURRAY: Right. And I think that Trump doesn't really see always the downside of fighting with members of his own party. He doesn't necessarily trust them. He feels like they haven't moved fast enough on his agenda.

And what even people in the White House are saying, not to mention Republican lawmakers, other influential Republicans are saying is, look, there's a big downside for you. If Republicans lose control of the House in 2018, Democrats are going to make your life miserable. They're going to move for impeachment proceedings, but they're also going to start issuing subpoenas. They're going to drag your friends, your family, your acquaintances up to The Hill for public testimony and there's not going to be a whole lot you can do about it. So whatever you wanted to accomplish in the second two years of your presidency, that goes down the drain if Democrats are in charge of the House. They turn it into a spectacle.

SAHIL KAPUR, "BLOOMBERG": Talk about a chilly meeting between these two. I mean this comes as Steve Bannon is endorsing about a half dozen primary challenges, two Republicans that McConnell needs to hold on to the Senate. He already has a very slim margin. This budget vote, if it gets killed this week, two votes, two Republican nos kills this bill. If they get that, they block tax reform on the front end. They don't even get to debate it. How do you explain that when you fail to repeal the ACA, when you're not doing infrastructure, you're not building a wall, if you don't do taxes. What's the point of this party?

MURRAY: And you're in charge of everything.

KING: Right.

MURRAY: And you're in charge of everything.

KING: And my understanding is Susan Collins yesterday said on ABC she is likely a yes. That means she's a yes. That means she's told the leader she'll be a yes. Bob Corker, still undecided. John McCain, still undecided. Rand Paul, still undecided.

KAPUR: Mike Lee is still undecided.

KING: Mike Lee, still undecided.

MARTIN: And Cochran not there.

KING: Yes, and Cochran not there.

KAPUR: And Cochran not there.

KING: So the math gets very interesting.

Another fascinating point, and we're going to have the tape from the president in just a moment, but in this meeting you have Mitch McConnell, who is -- 15 second. I'm not going to get to the point I'm going to make here. We're going to wait and hear from the president of the United States. But he's in the cabinet room sitting next to Rex Tillerson -- we'll talk about that later in the program, a little bit of tension there -- around the room talking about a number of issues, domestic, foreign, political. Let's listen to the president of the United States.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK.

Thank you very much. And today we're here to discuss at the cabinet meeting critical domestic policy issues. I'd like to basically provide you with an update as to how we're doing

for the American people. And we're doing a lot of great things.

The unemployment rate is at an almost 17-year low. The stock market is soaring to record levels. We just hit a new high on Friday and I think we're hitting another new high today because there's tremendous optimism having to do with business in our country. GDP growth has reached more than 3 percent last quarter and other than the hurricanes would have done phenomenally this -- and I think we'll still do very well, but something will have to be taken off because of the tremendous problems of the massive hurricanes that we've had to endure. And now I guess you could probably add the wildfires in California.

But the economy cannot take off like it really has the potential to do unless we reduce the tax burden on the families, businesses, workers of our country. And we'll be able to do that. I think we're getting tremendous receptivity from the people. I hope we get the same receptivity from Congress. But we are getting tremendous accolades for what we're doing -- having to do with both reform and with the massive tax cuts. It will be the largest tax cuts in the history of our country.

We're one of the highest taxed nations in the world right now, costing us millions of jobs and trillions and trillions of dollars. It's time to restore America's competitive edge and pass historic tax cuts to the American people.

One point in GDP would be $2.5 trillion. Think of that, revenue, one point -- if we go up from there to four and when I began we were in the ones. And now the last quarter we were at 3.2 percent. And we're going up higher. But if we went, as an example, from two to three or from three to four, we're talking about $2.5 trillion and we're also talking about many millions of jobs.

So we want to also reduce excessive government spending. And that's what we're working on at our cabinet meeting today. As we head into next year's budget season, I've asked Director Mulvaney to come up and find various savings in all of the departments that are gathered around the table, which is everybody. I need my cabinet to work with Director Mulvaney to fight these spending cuts -- fight for them and make sure that they happen. And we want to make the departments as lean and efficient as possible.

[12:10:22] At the same time, we're going to be departments with lots of heart. Lots of heart. One thing we're going to be looking at very strongly is welfare reform. That's becoming a very, very big subject. And people are taking advantage of the system and then other people aren't -- aren't receiving what they really need to live. And we think it's very unfair to them. But some people are really taking advantage of our system from that standpoint. And we are going to be looking very, very strongly therefore at welfare reform. It's going to be a very big topic under this administration. And it's started already and we have a lot of recommendations that we're going to be making and you'll be hearing about them very shortly. The other thing we're doing that relates to people's lives is the

prescription drug prices are out of control. The drug prices have gone through the roof. And if you look at the same exact drug, by the same exact company, made in the same exact box, and sold someplace else, sometimes it's a fraction of what we pay in this country. Meaning, as usual, the world is taking advantage of the United States. They're setting prices in other countries and we're not.

The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder. And we want to bring our prices down to what other countries are paying, or at least close and let the other countries pay more, because they're setting such low prices that we're actually subsidizing other countries.

And that's just not going to happen anymore. This has been going on for years where our people are paying so much more for -- and I don't mean they're paying 2 percent more. I mean they're paying double, triple, quadruple. They're paying so much more that it's very unfair to the United States, as usual.

Last week I also sent a letter to Congress outlining my administration's top priorities for immigration reform. This was a bottom up effort driven by dedicated law enforcement professionals and they took a big oath to protect our nations. The Justice Department is doing a fantastic job on the border and with regard to immigration more than anyone's ever seen before from a Justice Department. Thank you very much, Jeff.

It's really had an impact, and a very positive impact, and now we're going to take it to five steps further. Our proposal closes dangerous loopholes and vulnerabilities that enable illegal immigration, asylum fraud and visa overstays. The visa overstays are just -- you're talking about numbers that nobody even knows what they are, they're so out of control. And we're going to take care of that.

When you look at what's going on in Mexico, Mexico is having a tough time right now in terms of crime. More than ever, we need the wall. We have drugs pouring through on the southern border. They are literally pouring through. And we have to have the wall. We're going to have the wall.

But if you look at just what's happening on the other side of the border with the tremendous crime and the tremendous problems going on -- we have a very good relationship with Mexico. There are a lot of problems and we don't want the drugs. And we don't want the crime. But we need the wall.

(INAUDIBLE) we've asked Congress to ensure that any proposed immigration reform ends chain migration. One person comes in and then brings everybody in his family in with him or her. And we have to end chain migration, which is critical for creating a system that puts American workers and the American taxpayer first.

Last Thursday, I proudly nominated Kirstjen Nilsen to serve as secretary of Department of Homeland Security. I urge the Senate to quickly confirm this really tremendously qualified nominee and I also ask for my other nominees. We have approximately half the number of nominees confirmed by the Senate because, frankly, the Democrats have terrible policy, terrible, and they're very good at really obstruction.

One thing they do well, their policy is no good and I'm not even sure they're very good politicians because they don't seem to be doing too well. That could be because of their bad policy. But they're great at obstruction. And we have half the nominees that President Obama had at this time. It's very unfair.

They're taking everyone right out to the final moment and, in many cases, confirming them with tremendous majorities, but they're bringing them out purposely, they're bringing them right down to the final. We have people that are totally qualified and they're going to pass, but they're going to have to wait a long time because it's total obstruction.

[12:15:04] I can say the same thing with our judicial nominees, our judges. We have some of the most qualified people. "The Wall Street Journal" wrote a story about it the other day, that this is some of the most qualified people ever and they're waiting forever online. And it shouldn't happen that way. It's not right and it's not fair.

I want to thank Acting Secretary Elaine Duke for her leadership in responding to the catastrophic storms that have struck our nation and our territories. We've also issued a disaster declaration in California in response to the devastating wildfires, like we've never seen. And we mourn the terrible loss of life.

We have FEMA and first responders there. We have our military helping. It's very sad to watch how fast, how rapidly they move and how people are caught in their houses. It's an incredible thing, caught in their houses. So we have a lot of people helping government in California. And made a lot of progress in the past couple of days. But we're a little subject to winds and what happens with nature. But it's a -- it's been a -- it's a very -- very sad thing to watch.

We also continue to pray for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. We cannot erase the pain of those who lost their loved ones, but we pledge to never leave their side. We're working with them. Very much so with the FBI and law enforcement, the Department of Justice. And it's, you know, I guess a lot of people think they understand what happened, but he's -- he was a demented, sick individual. The wires were crossed pretty badly in his brain. Extremely badly in his brain. And it's a very sad event.

In each of these tragedies we've witnessed, however, a tremendous strength and heroism of our people. Each one of these tragedies that we've had, we have witnessed such strength and such heroism. When Americans are unified, no instructive force on earth can even come close to breaking us apart.

We have a lot of work to do on behalf of our magnificent country and our extraordinary citizens. A great trust has been placed upon each member of our cabinet. We have a cabinet that there are those that are saying it's one of the finest group of people ever assembled as a cabinet. And I happen to agree with that. Of course, I should agree it.

But I think we have an extraordinary group of people around this table. This is a tremendous amount of talent. And I wouldn't say I was necessarily looking to be politically correct, although I ended up being politically correct because that was the right thing to do in every sense of the word. However, we have -- we have just gotten really, really great people. I'm very proud of them.

So we're going to work on all of those things I just outlined, and many more. You know we have the Iran deal that right now is being studied and I think a lot of people agreed with what I did. I feel strongly about what I did. I'm tired of being taken advantage of as a nation. This nation has been taken advantage of for many, many years, for many decades, frankly, and I'm tired of watching it.

But the Iran deal was something that I felt had to be done. And we'll see what phase two is. Phase two might be positive and it might be very negative. Might be a total termination. That's a very real possibility. Some would say that's a greater possibility. But it also could turn out to be very positive. We'll see what happens.

I thought the tone of the Iranian leaders was very modified and I was happy to see that, but I don't know if that means anything. They're great negotiators. They negotiated a phenomenal deal for themselves but a horrible deal for the United States. And we're going to see what happens.

The health care, as you know, is moving along. I knocked out the CSRs. That was a subsidy to the insurance companies. That was a gift that was frankly what they gave the insurance companies. Just take a look at their stocks.

Take a look at where their stock was when Obamacare was originally approved and what it is today. You'll see numbers that anybody -- if you invested in those stocks, you'd be extremely happy. And they have given them a total gift. They have given them -- you could almost go at a payoff and it's a disgrace. And that money goes to the insurance companies. We want to take care of poor people, we want to take care of people that need help with health care, and that's what I'm here to do.

And I'm never going to get campaign contributions, I guarantee you that, from the insurance companies, but a lot of other people got them. You look at the Democrats. Take a look at that. Take a look at how much money has been spent by the Democrats and by the health companies on politicians generally, but take a look at the coffers of the Democrats.

[12:20:12] So the CSR payments has actually brought Republicans and Democrats together because we got calls, emergency calls, from the Democrats and I think probably the Republicans, we're also calling them saying, let's come up with at least a short-term fix of health care in this country. And the gravy train ended the day I knocked out the insurance company's money, which was last week. Hundreds of millions of dollars a month handed to the insurance companies for very little reason. Believe me. I want the money to go to the people. I want the money to go to poor

people that need it. I want the money to go to people that need proper health care, not to insurance companies, which is where it's going. As of last week, I ended that.

So we have a lot of interesting things to do. I'm meeting with Mitch McConnell in a little while for lunch. I think we're going to say a few words on the steps after that. I know you won't have any questions.

And, pretty much, that's it. Enjoy yourselves, folks, and I'll see you out there with Mitch McConnell. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you approve of Steve Bannon's war on Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thanks, everyone. Thank you. Thank you, John.

TRUMP: Well, Steve is very committed. He's a friend of mine and he's very committed to getting things passed. I mean, look, I -- I have -- you know, despite what the press writes, I have great relationships with actually many senators. But, in particular, with most Republican senators.

But we're not getting the job done. And I'm not going to blame myself, I'll be honest. They are not getting the job done. We've had health care approved, and then you had a surprise vote by John McCain. We've had other things happen. And they're not getting the job done.

And I can understand where Steve Bannon's coming from. And I can understand, to be honest with you, John, I can understand where a lot of people are coming from, because I'm not happy about it and a lot of people aren't happy about it.

We need tax cuts. We need health care. Now, we're going to get the health care done. In my opinion what's happening is as we meet, Republicans are meeting with Democrats because of what I did with the CSRs, because I cut off the gravy train. If I didn't cut the CSRs, they wouldn't be meeting. They'd be having lunch and enjoying themselves, all right? They're right now having emergency meetings to get a short-term fix of health care, where premiums don't have to double and triple every year, like they've been doing under Obamacare, because Obamacare is finished. It's dead. It's gone. It's no longer -- you shouldn't even mention it, it's gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore. It is a -- and I said this years ago, it's a concept that couldn't have worked. In its best days it couldn't have worked. But we're working on some kind of a short-term fix prior to the Republicans getting together, maybe with some Democrats. Again, it's obstruction, but maybe with some Democrats to fix health care permanently.

So I think we'll have a short-term fix with Republicans and Democrats getting together. And after that we're going to have a successful vote because, as you know, we were one vote short. And I think we all -- I think we have the votes right now, whether it's through bloc grant or something else, bloc granting the money back to the states, which does seem to make sense, where the states run it because it's a smaller form of government that can be more individually sensitive.

So that will happen fairly shortly. As soon as we have the next reconciliation I think we'll get the vote for health care. I feel very confident of that. I think we already have the vote for health care.

You know, sadly, the Democrats can't join us on that, which will be the long-term fix. But I do believe we'll have a short-term fix because I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess.

This is an Obamacare mess. When the premiums go up, that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we had poor health care delivered poorly, written poorly, approved by the Democrats. It was called Obamacare.

But I think we'll have a short-term fix and then we'll have a long- term fix, and that will take place probably in March or April. We will have a very solid vote. It will be probably 100 percent Republican No Democrats. But most people know that that's going to be a very good form of health insurance. So that will be it.

OK. Any other questions? No? Thank you. I'll see you in a little while.

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Republicans running for re-election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, John.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, John.

TRUMP: I know how he feels. It depends on who you're talking about. There are some Republicans, frankly, that should be ashamed of themselves. But most of them, I'll tell you what, I know the Republican senators, most of them are really, really great people that want to work hard and they want to do a great thing for the American public. But you had a few people that really disappointed us. They really, really disappointed us. So I can understand fully how Steve Bannon feels.

[12:25:03] OK? Thank you very much. Thank you.

KING: About 20 minutes there listening to the president of the United States in the Cabinet Room talking about just about every issue under the sun. Some of it will go through the fact check machine and come out on the failing side, what the president has said there. A president whose own administration says immigration -- illegal immigration across the border has stopped, at one point saying they are pouring through. He says he wants budget cuts from his cabinet agencies. But, most significantly, he's about to move now into a lunch with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Steve Bannon, his former top strategist, says there should be a war on the Republican establishment, starting with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. The president there, on several occasions near the end, saying he fully understands what his former top strategist is doing when he's challenging senators, the leadership, Senate incumbents, trying to mount primary challenges, trying to bring in recruiters here. I assume Senator McConnell was either listening or has been briefed as he waits for lunch. And this was already going to be a difficult lunch.

TALEV: Yes, I mean --

KING: That is going to make it all the more so.

MARTIN: But he's alluding to the three senators who is did not support repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Lisa Murkowski, John McCain and Susan Collins. None of them are up for reelection next year.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: And so this is the sort of -- the thing is that the people that Bannon is targeting are those who are facing re-election next year. None of them let the president down, as he put it, on the health care issue. One of them, Jeff Flake, has been very personally critical of the president, but whether it's health care, tax cuts or most of the agenda, he's been supportive.

So here's the challenge for Trump. He likes the John Barrassos and the Deb Fischers of the world, we assume, who are, you know, senators who are up next year, aren't very well-known. They weren't responsible for the collapse of health care reform. So the question for the president is, these seats, are you going to support ousting incumbents who have ben basically supportive of your agenda, because that's what Bannon's actually doing.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: It's not just the three who bail on health care, because, again, they're not up next year.

MURRAY: Right. They've been trying to recreate a different version of the Republican Party who were just a different party entirely but --

MARTIN: But does Trump want that?

MURRAY: Right.

MARTIN: Right.

MURRAY: Right. Exactly. You know, so, fine, you might be able to get some more populous elected. That means that they're just going to continue to spar with Democrats, as well as other Republicans. How does that further your agenda? And if you're President Trump, you need to get stuff done, you presumably want to get reelected to a second term, how does that help you in the long run?

KING: Right. And especially you're heading into a year where you have some red state Democrats who you might be able to get. You might be able to pick up those seats. Why spend time, money, energy, fear, have your own party in a turmoil of when you could pick up those seats. And, number two, if you look at the history of people who have tried this, including Steve Bannon in the past, you end up nominating the Christine O'Donnells and the Todd Aikens who go on to lose seats that could be -- could have been Republicans.

TALEV: Yes, but the president doesn't --

KAPUR: And that's the one path Democrats have to actually taking back the Senate majority in 2018. It's a very tough map for them. Way more of their senators in venerable states are up for reelection.

One aide to a Republican senator who is being targeted by Bannon I spoke to called this suicidal. Best case scenario, you replace these senators with other Republicans. You haven't taken down any Democrats. And these are the senators, as Jonathan pointed out, Wicker (ph), Fischer, Lake (ph), even though he's ben personally (INAUDIBLE).

MARTIN: Barrasso, yes.

KAPUR: Barrasso, who have been voting with President Trump on pretty much every major item. You can't target Lisa Murkowski or John McCain because they just got reelected. (INAUDIBLE) --

KING: Right. And those -- and those senators up next year about to vote for the president, with the president, on the Senate budget resolution and then moving forward to the tax debate.

TALEV: The president seems to have made the calculation thus far that if he threatens or goes along with the threats to these incumbents, including the leadership, he will bend the leadership more in his direction and get Mitch McConnell to kind of preemptively capitulate to more of what he wants to do, whether it's substantively or whether it's the style.

I look in photos in the stray right there where he talked about a lot of things, about what he didn't say, because this was an opportunity clearly for the president if he wanted to, to say, look, I appreciate what Steve Bannon's trying to do but it's important for us to be unified now. Mitch McConnell is my friend and my ally and I can't wait to have this lunch. And we're going to work out all this stuff. That's like totally not what he did.

KING: Right.

TALEV: So if you're Mitch McConnell, your takeaway is, OK, we're totally where we started actually probably worse off (ph).

KING: Yes, the president -- the president made the chasm wider. He did not try to narrow it by saying -- saying, I appreciate what Steve wants. I share his goals. However, I take issue with how he's doing it. There's a way -- there is a way --

TALEV: And he's -- and he's validated -- he's validated it for Bannon.

KING: He's validating -- and listen here, this is the Pontius Pilot moment here. Yes, the president's right, Republicans ran for seven years to repeal and replace Obamacare. Yes, thee president's right, they failed. The House finally passed a bill after going through a contorted process and then the Senate failed twice to try to deal with this. That's correct. Most of it happened on Capitol Hill.

But the president had a role in this. If you talk to the speaker of the House, if you talk to the Senate majority leader, they would say, at key moment when they needed the president's help, his actions actually undermined the debate going forward.

But listen to the president here. He says this is your fault, Congress, not mine.

[12:29:49] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'm not going to blame myself, I'll be honest. They are not getting the job done. We've had health care approved and then you had a surprise vote by John McCain. We've had other things happen and they're not getting the job done. And I can understand where Steve Bannon's coming from and I can understand, to be honest with you, John, I can understand where a lot of people are coming from, because I'm not happy about it and a lot of people aren't happy about it.