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Conservative Media Slam White House Immigration Plan; President Trump's First State of the Union Address. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired January 28, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:13] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): A moment of truth. We now know President Trump tried to fire the special counsel.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fake news, folks. Fake news.
KING: So, will he keep his promise to sit for an interview?
Plus an American first pitch to global elites.
TRUMP: America is open for business and we are competitive once again.
KING: And the new White House immigration plan angers the right and the left.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: That plan is a campaign to make America white again.
KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories, sourced by the best reporters now.
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's visceral anger at the Russia investigation now front and center. First, reports he tried to fire the special counsel. Now, rants about his own deputy attorney general because he supervises the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There would be a fire storm if the president fires Robert Mueller, but the whole purpose of the legislation is to avoid that constitutional conflagration. We already have enough dysfunction. We don't need this kind of confrontation.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Plus, don't call it a meeting of the minds but perhaps a better understanding the America first president brings a charm to the ultimate gathering of globalists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)]
TRUMP: I'm here to deliver a simple message. There has never been a better time to hire, to build and to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And here in Washington, new immigration whiplash, a generous offer to Democrats angers big parts of the president's base, while the tough restrictions the White House is demanding in return have the left up in arms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: It's a plan that says over 50 percent of the current legal immigration will be cut back. That many people will be sent out of the country. If you read through it you're thinking, do they not understand that immigration has been the constant reinvigoration of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post", CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Franco Ordonez of "McClatchy" newspapers, and Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast".
President Trump delivers his State of the Union Address Tuesday night, a giant opportunity to promote his first year in office and to outline his agenda for the second. Republicans, even those with little patience for the president, understand their grip on power here in Washington depends overwhelmingly on whether the president can improve his wobbly political standing. But those Republicans also understand the speech and the Trump agenda might have far less to do with the course of this critical midterm election year than they would in normal circumstances.
Why? Well, the Russia special counsel Robert Mueller now ready to interview the president with a heavy focus on the possible obstruction of justice.
The president says he's willing and eager. His lawyers, though, are not so willing, and not at all eager.
And in the middle of negotiations over the possible ground rules, word the president tried to fire Mueller last June, just as the scope of the investigation began to reach the president's inner circle his family and his finances. The White House counsel, we are told, refused, threatening to resign.
Now, these accounts are well-sourced, beginning with the initial "New York Times" report. But listen to the president, he calls it fiction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, did you seek to fire Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical "New York Times" fake stories.
REPORTER: Did you try to fire Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Again, the president's lawyers are instructive here. The president says fake news, the lawyers say no comment. And so, here we are at the moment of truth, the moment of truth in the sense that we could know by the end of the week, certainly within a week or two, will the president keep his word and sit down? What will the ground rules be? And you -- as this plays out, word that he tried to fire Bob Mueller has people in Congress, mostly Democrats saying we have to do things to protect Bob Mueller, to keep him in.
The stakes here for the president, we -- normally, we would start this Sunday talking about the State of the Union speech, this has to be rattling the West Wing.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Without question. And I think you know that if there's one line that even Republicans in Washington believe is the dividing line, it would be firing the special counsel here. So, the White House says no, that didn't happen. But their credibility is very much up in the air if you will.
I'm told by a White House official who said we frankly don't know if he's talking about this since this is something that he sort of broods on his own there's you know it's not being discussed in a West Wing staff meeting with the chief of staff, is he going to fire Bob Mueller? But this was the president's mindset in June.
The question here now, is he going to testify? He very much wants to sit down and clear the air. He's been through a lot of depositions.
[08:05:03] This would be one like any other. This would be entirely different.
So, that's why John Dowd, one of his lawyers, said, no, I will make the decision. Well, we'll see about that. I mean, the client here seems to want to speak. He went out there and said, I absolutely want to do this. So, now, if he doesn't, it certainly looks bad. But it's very much an open question if he'll go do it --
KING: But it's fascinating the public versus the private President Trump, because when he's asked publicly, he says, absolutely, you know I want to do this, I'm willing, I'll even do it under oath. But to your point, we hear privately when he's on the phone with friends, when he's in meetings with certain people, he rants about the special counsel investigation.
CNN fabulous reporting matched by this week, but he rants about Rod Rosenstein, who's the deputy attorney general, who's in charge of Bob Mueller essentially, has to approve everything Bob Mueller does and was repeatedly said he thinks Mueller is doing a good job. So, you have this anger from the president that's a lot of his outside friends or saying, please fire them all and then on the other hand, the president saying, I'm good with this. I'll do it.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, the angers are unpredictable. They don't know when he's going to be angry about what. But to Jeff's point about the deposition being like any other, it's one thing to lie about real estate deals and to come back and then saying, OK, we got you 30 times in one deposition. This time, the fact that there's legal ramifications with this, I was talking to a lawyer who's familiar with this sort of thing this weekend, and he said, you know, he would advise Trump not fly and because of these ramifications, and that is the concern that his truthful hyperbole as he said in "Art of the Deal" might get him in trouble.
FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: Well, he's been talking about this for months and saying that he wasn't intending or wasn't trying to fire Bob Mueller. Now, we find out months later that indeed he was. I mean I think it's really disappointing that what we're seeing is the difference between being the president of a company his own company and the president of the United States.
I think it shows a sign of tone-deafness that he doesn't know what's going on. In his own company, he doesn't have the checks and balances that are there. You got -- there are checks and balances when you're president.
But -- when you -- if you -- if you listen to people, the attorneys, or people who have had time with the special counsels team, they are struck. Every one of them comes out amazed at how they have put together a minute-by-minute. They know what you had for breakfast. They know who spoke at the meeting they know what time things happen.
So, the president -- if he's going to do this, that's why his lawyers where it has to be very careful. On Capitol Hill, there is this effort mostly by Democrats a couple of Republicans to protect Bob Mueller, to add language to either the one of the new spending bills or sort to pass separate legislation say the president can't do this.
As you're jump in, Karoun, I want you to listen here, Bob Gates, the former CIA director, former defense secretary, very respected hand here in Washington number one says he knows Bob Mueller and there's nobody with the integrity of Bob Mueller, that he's the perfect guy to do this.
Number two, though, he says he's skeptical Congress can protect him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is an executive branch appointment and I don't know how you -- how you -- how the Congress extends an umbrella of protection legally through legislation. The one thing that can be done is to try and figure out how to make it clear, the magnitude of the political cost that would be incurred should he be fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is that the main Democratic goal and saying let's protect them, they know they can't get the votes to pass legislation, but they're trying to raise the political bar?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that at this point, it really is incumbent on Republicans to take a step to try to move forward any of these bills and, yes, both Democrats are definitely trying to raise the political bar. Some Democrats will tell you that the fact that this is even on the table is a discussion at least raises the stakes and puts us a warning sign basically up in front of the president if you were to think about trying to order the firing of the special counsel, don't because were already talking about potential legislation.
But back in the summer, it was not just Democrats who were looking at the headlines who were looking at sometimes the rumors, will he fire Sessions? Sometimes, it's, will he fire Rosenstein? Either of which causes a domino effect that can lead to the ousting of the special counsel and you had two bipartisan pairs, Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis, have been in this from the beginning and now, what you've seen is a standing to a grind to a halt almost of the negotiation process.
There has not really been significant progress made on actually resolving what case was talking about, the constitutional problem, which is that it's the president's authority to hire and fire people as an executive is at will. So, if Congress says, well, you can't do it without a three-judge panel reviewing your decision before it goes into effect, that's problematic. They've been trying to kind of thread that needle by saying, OK, well, maybe a middle ground is that the president can issue an order that is delayed effective by his x number of days, would give that fired special counsel time. It's already so hard in the lead, I'm sorry.
But the point is they're trying to resolve this constitutional issue because they're concerned about future presidents.
KING: Concern about future presidents, but can you imagine if let's assume say Hillary Clinton won the election and she had a special counsel, she was thinking of firing the special counsel. I don't think Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would be silent. And so, the silence of the Republican leadership to me is striking here in part, they're in an election year. They don't want discord in the Republican base and in part because the Republican echo chamber listening here and says, so what?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Donald Trump wanted a fire the special counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right to raise those questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Well, the president says it's fake news.
[08:10:00] That happened last June. Do you - you know, it's something we have to tell you about because it is a headline in "The New York Times". What do you think about that? Do you even care?
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: The story is Trump didn't. At the end of everything, Trump did not fire Mueller. Now, what are we going to do? We're going to invoke the 25th Amendment on a guy because what he wanted to do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I mean, in the age of Trump's planning we live in, it is remarkable that a lot of people say, hey, this is proof the president has a good staff. His White House counsel, he'll jump in front of the train and said you can't do this, sir. What are y'all worried about?
ZELENY: I guess it is that. The question is, did he try and fire him after June and is he still thinking about it?
ZELENY: That's the question here.
But a couple things -- before the president either sits down or does not sit down, Steve Bannon is going to sit down with the special counsel's investigators before the end of this month, we're told. So, that will piece together things. He talked openly about this being a money-laundering investigation. So, that is something that is in play here.
But obstruction of justice, there has to be a corrupt motive here. So, there is a high burden for the president, you know, for there to be obstruction of justice. So, I think that --
KUCINICH: You don't even have to obstruct justice in order to be in trouble for --
ZELENY: That is true. That's a corrupt motive here. So, I think that the -- this is very much an ongoing open question here, but the president I'm told he wants to speak and clear his name here. It's a high stakes, high risk situation.
That's why his lawyers hope he it is quiet and they wish they wouldn't have walked into John Kelly's office last night and said those things.
ZELENY: It was his decision.
KING: He calls it fighting back. The question is, can a special counsel when you look at the asking James Comey for loyalty then firing James Comey, asking James Comey the former FBI director drop the Flynn investigation, pressuring Jeff Sessions to go back to reconsider his decision to recuse himself -- you look at this long list of things right there and it's easy for a Trump critic and a Trump skeptic to say, at every step of the way, he's trying to throw a roadblock in undermine, if not collapse, and just pay the investigation. If you're Trump, you say, I'm just fighting back.
ORDONEZ: Well, I mean I just like that. I was in the room when Trump you know came in to Kelly's office and one of the things that he said was, look, you know, would Hillary have done this, would he -- would she has sat there and been under oath? He says I don't think so, but I will.
I mean I think there is a sense that you got to take him at his word. At the same time, his lawyers also know that all his so many members of his staff have voluntarily spoken to the counsel already. Imagine all the things that they have told the special counsel about the conversations they have had, what has Trump talked about, about this situation, when is he brought this up in the past. I mean, there's some landmines there.
KING: That's why there's no comment from the attorneys about the -- did he want to fire Bob Mueller is so instructed because they know the White House counsel has already been interviewed. They know most of his deputies had already been interviewed. They know what the special counsel knows, which is they know a lot more than we do, which is why when they do certain things, that might be a little off you think they know something we don't.
Everybody sit tight.
Up next, an odd fit and an interesting moment. The global elites of Davos might not think much of President Trump, but they love his tax cuts.
But, first, a little fun -- politicians say the darndest things, the return of George W. Bush to the Oval Office, sort of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what you're thinking, what the heck is this handsome devil doing back in the Oval Office? Well, the truth is, this is just a set. I had it built in my basement in Texas so I could pretend to still be president sometimes. According to a new poll, my approval rating is at an all time high.
That's right. Donny Q. Trump came in and, suddenly, I'm looking pretty sweet by comparison. At this rate, I might even end up on Mount Rushmore right next to Washington, Lincoln, and I want to say, Kensington?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Yes, he bragged about the size of the crowd and he took a few jobs at Hillary Clinton. But for the most part, the president's visit to the global economic forum in Davos was conciliatory, a stick to the script charm offensive, with a goal of winning a second look from the free trading globalists who often treat him with scorn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I believe in America. As president of the United States, I will always put America first just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also. But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The president may not think so, but look at the "TIME" cover here. That captures the mood that greeted the president in Davos, the sense that America is alone on issues say like climate change and free trade.
After his big speech, yes, complaints from some there that he bragged too much, or he played it safe by ignoring the big policy divides, but also a fair amount of what "The New York Times" described this way -- Mr. Trump's reception here appeared to signal a normalizing phase of his presidency among the business elite, many of those who absorbed his speech was struck by his restraint his apparent desire to ingratiate himself.
Jeff Zeleny, you're just back from Davos. It was striking. You know, a lot of them don't like him personally. They worry that he's not committed to international alliances, but there are a lot of after the speech would you say, OK, this is better.
ZELENY: No question. I mean, he was essentially being the Chamber of Commerce president of America. He was essentially over there, you know, as a cheerleader, saying come invest in America. He seemed to relish in that role actually.
Now, the question is, he was reading this speech off a teleprompter, so it was that type of a president. His policies are exactly the same. So, I think going forward here, he's not going to change his view, you know, that have been sort of controversial.
But in that moment, he liked being -- he likes the applause. He likes the praise. That's why some of his advisors who went along -- the Gary Cohns of the world from Goldman Sachs, others, they want the president to see himself in this environment. They want to have him hear that applause and be like like that.
The reality though, at the end of the day, things are moving without the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ZELENY: The "TIME" magazine cover, you know, is perhaps an overstatement but things are moving on.
[08:20:00] People are not waiting for this president to suddenly reengage. So, I think that, yes, he gave a good speech, which is always good. There weren't any protest which they were worried about. But at the end of the day, will his policies change? I'm not sure.
KING: Right. And by moving on, let's be specific, China, India, others stepping in.
ZELENY: On trade.
KING: Stepping in, the regional trade -- regional trade agreements. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, saying we're going back to TPP without the United States if we have to. So, the rest of the world saying this is the way you want to do it, we're going to move along in these big economic questions.
The president was well-received, the speech was. There are little boos at this part during the Q&A, and again, this is where speech on teleprompter, Q&A from the president unscripted, here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Had the opposing party to me won, some of whom you backed, some of the people in the room, instead of being up almost 50 percent, I believe the stock market from that level, the initial level, would have been down close to 50 percent. It was until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He can't help himself.
DEMIRJIAN: Yes, and interesting that when he hears off the economic message and starts getting back into the political fist-fighting ring, that that's when the boos come. I mean, it was -- the economic message was the right message for the right crowd. Yes, China and India are moving into the -- you know, showing their strength in the economic sphere, but the United States still has a very large economy that is still, you know, thoroughly open in terms of how much control you can have as a businessperson coming in without having to worry about a totalitarian government, or more -- leaning more towards that way government.
But it's Davos -- I mean, it's the economic message in Davos versus the political message maybe in the rest of the world, right? And Davos is very important and there's a lot of really big political and economic players that go there, but are they the world, are they the political calculus of how everybody's receiving the president? No, it's not fully representative. So, that's kind of the question.
KUCINICH: Know your audience.
DEMIRJIAN: Well, it's the right audience, but the audience isn't like, oh, everything is solved.
KUCINICH: It's know your audience, but there's also the question of, you know, when he gives a good speech, we'll watch this again State of the Union night Tuesday. If he gives us good speech of teleprompter, can he stick with it? In the sense, that one big goal in Davos was to get the U.S.-Britain
relationship back on track. He sat down at the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. There's been a lot of tension about Trump's retweets of a hateful British anti-Muslim group. Some other tensions in the relationship.
They have a meeting, although the prime minister was very muted, but they have a meeting to try to get things back on track. But listen to the president here in an interview with our old CNN friend Piers Morgan where he says, well, you know, I like Theresa May, but she really did a lousy job negotiating her exit from the European Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, would it be the way I negotiate? No, I wouldn't negotiate it as it was negotiated, but I have a lot of respect for your prime minister and I think they're doing a job. I think I would have negotiated it differently. I would have had a different attitude.
PIES MORGAN, TV HOST: What would you've done?
TRUMP: I think I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it's supposed to be and I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, he insults Theresa May and the entire European Union, is that so much the olive branch or the leaders -- the bigger question, we laugh about these things, but the bigger question is, the leaders say that's the president United States, not the guy reading a teleprompter.
ORDONEZ: I think it goes to what Jeff is saying. You know, you have the -- you have a teleprompter. He went to Davos. He gave the speech that everyone wanted to hear. It provided some hope and then some reality kind of swept in.
I think the idea that he is -- everybody -- yes, obviously, you need to be very careful about putting too much weight on any certain tweet, conversation, speech. And this is a perfect example, as well as the comments about Hillary and the fake news.
KUCINICH: But to your point, he has spectacular talent for stepping on his own message, right after accolades. He'll say something that completely either flip it on its head or taints it a little bit, and we saw that as you said with the not State of the Union, whatever we were calling it last year, and I'm sure his advisors going into this State of the Union are imparting this to him. Don't step on your own message.
ZELENY: And interestingly, he had just finished meeting with the prime minister just moments before doing this interview. He said any discussion of us having a bad relationship is false. The reality here is, this U.S. president still has not visited there. There are tensions there. So, this interview with a Piers Morgan was -- I think more of a window into who the president really is.
KING: We'll see. They say they were going to work on getting that visit back on track. We'll see if that interview helps or hurts. I have a guess.
Up next, conservatives are white hot over the president's new immigration plan. The left calls it too cold. Team Trump says that means it's just right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love.
Any solution has to include a wall, because without the wall, it all doesn't work.
We're going to take care of DACA. Nobody wants to take care of DACA more than myself and the Republican Party. I don't think the Democrats would want to pull another shutdown, but we'll get itself. And if we need a little more time, we'll take a little more time. I want to get the problem solved correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: There's been some very understandable confusion of late over what the president would accept and would not accept, as part of any plan you just heard him discussing there, protect the so-called Dreamers. So, the White House released a framework it said should clear up the confusion.
The president wants legal status and a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants. In exchange, the White House insists on $25 billion for the president's border wall and dramatic changes that would limit family-based immigration, end visa lottery program, and increased dramatically deportations.
With that clarity, as the White House put it, came a loud bipartisan controversy, including conservative fury at the scope of what much of the Trump base calls amnesty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LEVIN, CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO HOST: You started with 1.8 million for amnesty. Why would you start with 1.8 million people who never even applied for DACA? And it's going to be spun that this is absolute genius. No it's not.
This is absolutely pathetic.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO HOST: This is exactly opposite what Trump said he was going to do. If Trump goes by the wayside on this, there isn't -- there isn't -- Trump is the one guy standing in the way of this. There aren't enough Republicans who oppose this. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The initial focus will be on what they do in the Senate. Can they get a bipartisan bill in the Senate? But when you hear that -- Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, others like that -- when you look at conservative House members, help me. Is there a reasonable path to the House of Representatives, the Republican House of Representatives passing a bill that includes that 1.8 million?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the reasonable path is if President Trump stumps for it. And says do this because I want it. That is the only reasonable path in which the Republicans in the House are going to put anything that comes out of the Senate on the floor because yes, the Senate has passed an immigration bill before. They passed a comprehensive immigration bill before.
It's probably, you know, arguably maybe broader than this is going to end up being and it never got pulled up in the House because that's where more of the pushback is. And they don't like doing things where they can't get a majority of their own members and this is not --
KING: Especially in an election year. One of your colleagues had a fascinating piece in the "Washington Post", you go to these town halls and, you know, conservative House members are getting it from their voters. And then they're going to come back and vote for it again, what many of them call amnesty.
JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE DAILY BEAST": And that's the thing. They have pushed back against the President before. Remember Mark Meadows during the health care debate was saying no. I'm actually not going to go along with you. And if their -- and they're going back home and they're hearing that from their voters, they have absolute reason to particularly in an election year to say no to the President and their voters will back them.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President said I'll take the heat. I think like that is the sign is he is going to take the heat or not but what is Speaker Ryan going to do?
ZELENY: Would he bring a bill forward without the majority of the majority. Speaker Ryan's politics this year have been very interesting. He's not yet said if he's going to run for re-election for his House seat in Wisconsin.
He said he'll decide later in the year. What is he going to do here? Would he risk his speakership or would he put everything on the line to put a bill on the floor? Would it pass if he did?
But the radio interviews there are definitely a sign of what the grassroots is saying. But if the President does not get behind it, it is not going to the House. KING: So what do we make of the argument the White House had put
forward that Nancy Pelosi says it's make America white again. The left hates it. The left says those are draconian. Yes, thank you for the 1.8 million but everything you're asking in exchange is draconian. We won't go for it.
The right says Amnesty Don as Breitbart News called the President of the United States. They say that's the stand -- clearly we hit the sweet spot. Is that a fair argument or they just crumble everything?
FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: I think maybe he pissed everybody off is more like the argument. Certainly obviously there's a red line w/ citizenship for the conservatives. The left is just going crazy about the idea of such a dramatic change to the family immigration system.
This would really be like just changing an overhaul of the tenets of what the American immigration has stood for, for so many years. Some are estimating that it could impact maybe 40, 50 percent of legal immigration. That is a tremendous change.
KING: And so as they go forward, again a broken record for me. It's an election year which makes it hard on everybody especially hard for the conservative base to say, you know, no, we call this amnesty. We campaigned against this. You're going to make us do this in an election year.
Then the flip side is the Democrats just were -- they brokered the government shutdown -- only two days. It wasn't that big of a deal because of this. But now the base is furious at the Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. So if it's his responsibility to try to give the President something to work -- that work from the President's plan, to do something with it, listen, he went on MSNBC in prime time to try to tell the Democratic base, "don't be mad at me".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The public does not like shutdowns and we'd actually lose support for Dreamers too because people love the dreamers but don't want a government shutdown for it.
So we cut the best deal that we could. We're doing everything we can. But what people have to understand is, we don't have a magic wand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, does the base understand that? We're doing everything we can, but we don't have a magic wand? Or do they think, you know, Leader Schumer, what are you getting, dude?
DEMIRJIAN: I mean, you know, I think that this -- he went through round one of government shutdown trying to talk about this immigration issue that didn't go so well. He's going to get another chance to try to prove himself around probably February 8th because there doesn't seem like there's a magic solution for everything in the works. But now, the base is not happy with the leadership in Congress on either right now. That is one constant I suppose that you have right now in the political realm.
But the other question is you know, how -- there's going to come some sort of deadline at some point between now and the election about what to do about these dreamer kids.
[08:34:58] And at what point is the perfect the enemy of the good and can you still live to stump on the, you know, the campaign trail if you have images and stories about people getting deported en masse because they've lost their status.
If you don't keep having extensions of the stay of the order eventually this is going to hit a point of reckoning, right?
ZELENY: And eight in ten Americans do actually support something like this here. But I think the Democrats are going to get -- or have to get something else next time.
ZELENY: I mean they didn't get anything this time. I mean a shutdown is not the answer. Everyone loses in a shutdown here, but Senator Schumer is feeling a lot of fire from his base. It's difficult for Democrats too in this.
KING: And to the point, will the President work on who he needs to work on most which is House conservatives from his public comments. You don't see that commitment yet. When he does talk about this or tweet about this, he's more often piling on Chuck Schumer, poking Chuck Schumer.
On the way from Davos, he tweeted "DACA has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that crying Chuck Schumer took a beating over the shutdown". And in an interview while at Davos, again he didn't say I need my party to make some concessions here. It's very important that Republicans understand why we need to compromise. That's not what he said. He went after Chuck Schumer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to say Schumer got badly beaten. Why should I do that? I'm negotiating and so I'm not going to say he got badly beaten. But you look at what happened.
The people want security. They want -- and they want DACA taken care of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He's not going to say Schumer got badly beaten but he just said it twice. ORDONEZ: Well, it's interesting. I mean I think -- I think what's
fascinating is that Democrats are going -- wrestling right now with this point of how far are they willing to go -- the enemy of the perfection as you were saying. It's like they have to -- are they going to recognize that Trump won the presidency using this as his signature issue? Are they willing to allow some type of border security and pass it?
What was interesting though is Trump didn't push that envelope. He pushed the legal immigration envelope and actually gave Democrats a good opportunity to say no way, no way. But what if he were just to do the wall because Democrats were willing to offer that? If he had just stuck to that narrow script it could have worked.
KING: That's the key point in the days ahead in the sense that the White House said, this is take it or leave. Here's our plan, we need these immigration restrictions in addition to the wall.
Now that the President's back, will he say, ok, let's make a deal? I mean that's what we have to keep in mind.
Up next, we may hear from this issue at the State of the Union -- the President as he prepares his State of the Union address.
[08:37:24] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Welcome back.
You can be certain the President will declare the state of our union to be booming Tuesday night. He wants to sell infrastructure and other 2018 agenda items as the right follow-ons to last year's big tax cut. This always big moment even bigger because this is the President's first midterm election year when the President's party almost always suffers.
A little bit of a history lesson here as we look at this. The President's approval rating, right now -- the single biggest barometer in a midterm election year, the President's approval rating -- he's at 40 percent right now as he prepares to give his State of the Union.
His most recent predecessors -- in much better standing when they stood before the Congress and delivered their State of the Union in their first midterm year. You see the numbers there -- 61 percent for George W. Bush; 59 for President Obama. Remember that's instructive -- 59 for President Obama when he gave his first State of the Union address. But by the midterm election that had fallen to 46 percent, 46 percent. Still well above where President Trump is now.
Look what happened to the Democrats. They lost 63 seats in the House and they lost control of the House. So the challenge for the President -- try to move his number up, not down.
This is the first official State of the Union but we did get some flavor last year, the new President of the United States speaking to Congress called this a State of the Union warm-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's a giant moment for the President. It is of enormous consequence to his party which sees him at 40 percent and thinks we may well lose the House. We might possibly lose the Senate as well.
The President has to slowly, methodically try to get that number up -- 42, 44, move it that way.
Throughout the hour we've been talking about the President's focus. Can he stay disciplined? Can he stay focused?
8:12 a.m. this morning "Fox and Friends" ran a segment taking a highlight from "THE VAN JONES SHOW" which premiered here on CNN last night, an interview with Jay Z who's not a fan of the President of the United States. Is the President tweeting about his State of the Union address?
Later he sent a tweet about the economy but first tweet in the morning six minutes after that segment on "Fox and Friends", "Somebody please inform Jay Z that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be the lowest rate ever recorded."
Should he be promoting his 2018 agenda or trying to help his party, or should he be picking fights with Van Jones and Jay Z?
ZELENY: I mean his advisers believe he can do both. On the upside is when he's giving --
KING: Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan disagree.
ZELENY: That is true. When he's giving that speech it is going to be teleprompter Trump. He's going to be giving the speech that is in front of him. He's not going to be reacting, at least we don't think, in real time to what's on "Fox and Friends".
But a senior White House official deeply involved with the speech says four words -- strong economy, safe America. That is what the President is going to focus on again and again in this speech. They do believe it's an opportunity for him to, you know, give an optimistic, sunny side up argument to people who may not be with him, Those independent voters who voted for him who have been disgusted by some of the other things, but the focus is on that.
So again, I think the expectations, you know, it's a low bar. It actually should be a higher bar. He can give a good speech in a big setting like that. He has done it again and again and again but again, it's what happens after the speech is probably more important. KUCINICH: Yes. I was out in Nevada last week -- or Nevada excuse me.
I should know better since I was out there. And you know, some of the things I was hearing from folks I was talking to was -- is some of the other things that you mentioned that are driving them nuts.
[08:45:06] Even if they like the President, because he's stepping on his own message, because of these other things -- the chaos, the tweets. They really want to root for him and yet he keeps undermining himself and we'll see if his advisors can impart that to him saying listen, this tax reform it's getting great press. People in Davos love it. Can he keep his focus on that?
KING: And it's a great point because again, we're in a midterm election year and the President -- some of the things he's asking for divide his party. I'm sure we'll hear him talk about a DACA deal. Let's get the DACA deal done. House conservatives don't want to touch that.
The infrastructure plan involves government spending. Now, they've pared it down -- it's not as much Washington money but it's still government spending. So he's asking in an election year for Republicans to walk into issues that for them are mine fields.
DEMIRJIAN: And you'll see how they respond basically in the moment, right, because this is not a rally. When Trump is giving his best most rousing speeches, it's been with his base.
This is not his base. This is a bunch of people in suits. They'll be sitting there and cheering for certain things especially the GOP. Let's see if he gets any applause from any Democrats.
But he's going to have to address all these points because he can't veer that far off script in a State of the Union unless he tries to, you know -- it's not the right audience.
KING: And it is a giant test, again a midterm election year. If he can get his number -- approval rating up one or two points that protects a few House seats. You get it up three or four points, it protects a few more.
And again, most presidents get a bounce out of a State of the Union and then the question is does it stick. President Obama got a big one in his first one, up eight points. George W. Bush is already high because of 9/11 in his first State of the Union. He went up 1. Bill Clinton went up. George H. W. Bush went up.
Can Donald Trump help repair his personal brand which is the biggest problem of his presidency?
ORDONEZ: I think as you've said, I think he'll get -- he's very likely to get a bounce especially if he gives a speech like he did in Davos that was a more moderate, a more kind of professional, presidential type speech that you're expecting.
But really I mean, so much of the things about Trump are baked in. You've got the two camps. On the left you have those who think he's really unstable and he could blow at any moment. On the right they say look it's about his policies, not his personality. And I think those two areas are really --
KING: The question is for a guy who nobody thought could win the presidency can he somehow disrupt again and change that brand? That's the biggest challenge in this election year.
Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including the possible declassification of that controversial Devin Nunez memo.
[08:47:28] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks to get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.
DEMIRJIAN: Well, this week I'm going to be on memo watch -- the "release the memo" memo that is getting into whether the FBI was properly looking at good information or bad information from Christopher Steele, the dossier author. There's been a big campaign to get that out publicly. The President seems to support it.
Tomorrow is the first day in which the House Intelligence Committee could vote to make that public. It would then trigger a five-day window for the President to decide whether or not he's actually going to let it be declassified. And if he does we could be looking at this very controversial memo being released within a week.
That would kind of rock -- politically rock the boat quite a bit in Congress especially as we're discussing right now, you know, how the President's going to be talking to Mueller, whether they're going to -- you know, we had this revelation last week about plans to potentially fire the special counsel.
This is going to be another element in there that is really going to put the parties against each other. And we'll see because probably there's going to be some developments in the next few days.
KING: The President against his own Justice Department.
DEMIRJIAN: And this president against -- right, the Justice Department is very against this but not the President.
KING: Here we go -- Jeff.
ZELENY: As we've been talking about the State of the Union this morning, I'm told that President Trump is not planning on taking the State of the Union show on the road -- very unusual for a president. Most recent presidents at least have gone out into America to sell their message locally. It's a great way to get good media attention. This was in the works for a while. But I'm told the President said no, he wants to stay here in Washington. So it's frustrating to some West Wing advisers. One told me this week if it's not a big rally he's not interested.
So this is something that is sort of telling of this president. He bypasses the media through social media but he does not do those local media stops to get so much earned attention.
So the question is if he wants to reach a broader audience through the State of the Union, why not travel across the country? He's not scheduled to except going to the GOP conference on Thursday in Virginia but that's hardly a big audience.
KING: And it hurts his own policy. Franco.
ORDONEZ: Keep an eye out for a very interesting new proposal to pay for the border wall. A bipartisan group of members of Congress are kind of working on this plan where foreign tech workers would actually raise the money to pay the wall. A bunch of foreign tech workers have been waiting decades to get green cards. They would gladly pay $2,000 -- $2,500 -- maybe even $5,000 on extra green card fees to raise that kind of money to pay for the wall.
KING: Interesting proposal there. It's not Mexico but it would be money.
KUCINICH: Increasingly over the last couple of years members of Congress have used the guest tickets that they receive for the State of the Union to send a political message. For example a couple of years ago, they gave them to victims of gun violence.
This year at least 22 House Democrats have invited DACA recipients to sit and watch the President's speech in an effort to put a human face on an issue that has become an increasingly a political football.
KING: Be interesting to watch that -- part of the sub-plots Tuesday nights.
I'll close with this. National party organizations, political organizations aren't what they used to be. But this is still a big week for the Republican National Committee.
The casino mogul Steve Wynn spared the group one big embarrassing controversy by resigning as finance chairman Saturday -- that in the wake of a "Wall Street Journal" report detailing numerous allegations of sexual harassment.
[08:54:53] But some other things to watch, at least two as the national committee members gather here in Washington this week. There are discussions for example about the 2020 primary rules -- something of great interest to the President and to those thinking of challenging the President in 2020 Republican primaries. And the 2020 convention site selection also meets on Wednesday amid some serious rumbles, I'm told, that many cities now having big worries about the protests, security and image costs of playing host to a Trump re-nominating convention would bring to them. Keep an eye on that as well.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday Morning.
Jake Tapper sits down with Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, next on "STATE OF THE UNION.
Have a great day.
[08:30:32] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)