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Mattis To Congress: Budget Impasse Hurting Troops; White House: Trump Will View Democratic Memo Same As GOP Memo; Sessions: FBI Needs Fresh Start; Manchin's Bipartisan Push. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 6, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: They just need to write it in a way that both parties can claim, you know, didn't violate the red lines. There'll be some gimmicks, there'll be some funny money in there.

But the issue that has held this up constantly has been immigration and DACA, and I don't see a deal quite coming together on that. The two parties remain far apart on the issue of specifically family-based green cards for siblings, for adult children and Democrats are saying that they're not going to with that. And it remains unclear if House Republicans will support any kind of a legalization program even -- the majority of them even for the dreamers.

I find it very significant earlier today that Speaker Ryan had said he's not going to put an immigration bill on the House floor unless President Trump supports it. And we don't quite know how far President Trump is willing to move of off his core principles.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so let's come back to immigration a second. Let's stand (ph) the spending plan here. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, Secretary Mattis made a pretty good point this morning. He's running a multi-billion, multi-trillion dollar operation. He has troops in the field.

He wants to buy new aircraft carriers and new ships. How do you do long term planning when you get a four-month budget followed by a four-month budget, maybe by a six-month budget, by a four-month budget. It's ridiculous.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, yes. I mean to your point, it's like trying to make car payments when you're working a temp job and you don't know when your -- where your paycheck is going to come from a little bit down the road, right?

And the entire government is in that situation. The Pentagon is not the only important department of the United States government that depends on Congress to act and allow them to plan ahead. So, it would be a big deal if they could come together.

I think what they learned -- the reason this is different than that same episode that your viewers might have seen a few weeks ago is that, they learned from the three-day shutdown that it was no fun for anyone. Nobody wins in a shutdown. Nobody wants that shutdown, I don't think.

And Democrats in particular although they were determined to hold the line on immigration and there's going to be a lot of grumbling if they agree to this immigration attach to it because they have been repeatedly promised by Republicans that DACA would get filed as part of funding the government.

But what they learned from the last shutdown was that they were actually not willing to hold that line. And so that may have gone by the way and DACA now has its own independent deadline for when that program expires.

LAUREN FOX, CNN REPORTER: Well, we have to also remember that McConnell made the promise that we would debate immigration only if the government was still open. So that is why this budget caps bill could be really important, because it really could create some bipartisanship, some goodwill as they head into --

KING: So to that point, the spending bill will come first, there has some grumbling among the Democrats but it looks like they will separate immigration from the spending bill at least for now. If it blows up, then he knows what happens after that. But assuming they're on that path, you have a great piece on today, Mitch McConnell, who then will bring -- you have to bring a bill to the Senate floor, won't tell anybody what's going to be in that bill.

We know we'll have something to protect the Dreamers, we know we'll have some wall money for the president, but what else, he won't say.

John Thune, who's his number three in the Senate leadership, "You'll have to ask him. He'll have to decide what he wants to do."

The majority whip and number two Senate Republican, "Senator McConnell hasn't announced his intention. Then an administration official who was part of the meeting with Senator McConnell or after meeting with Senator McConnell says, "Total poker face, he's not to going to tip his hand."

Probably smart strategy but it frustrates people.

FOX: Absolutely. And I think that what McConnell has been saying repeatedly is, this is going to be a fair debate on the floor. This is going to an open debate on the floor. Something that some freshmen members may not be that, you know, comfortable with. They haven't seen it before, and I think a lot of members are sort of looking at this. That bill that McConnell puts on the floor, that is a choice within itself.

If he puts the White House framework on the floor of the Senate, that's going to make a lot of Democrats pretty upset. So there's a lot of questions as to what he brings to the floor.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Republicans largely think that they won, at least at the White House. They believe that Democrats sort of coward. There's no guarantee that that scenario is going to repeat itself. So there is I think some inclination on all sides to try and get this deal done because the DACA deadline is hanging out there, and the White House seems, you know, not movable on that. We'll see if that changes as well.

But I just get the sense that you can't keep trying this every month. There are packs on both of the Houses, incumbents suddenly are in huge trouble on both sides here. So, I get the sense that the attributes are done, but it's only Tuesday so it's hard to make the decision.

KING: Sixty hours. I mean, if you (INAUDIBLE), never mind. I was going to make a stock market joke and I shall not.

Up next, the big question for the vice president as he heads to the Olympics. Will he meet with the North Koreans?

But before we go to break, there's a little bit of torture. A script I really don't want to read. A game well played by the Eagles Sunday night and a bet paid off in Congress. Michael Capuano, Democrat of Massachusetts learning a lesson, even Tom Brady is fallible. And sometimes you end up wearing the Eagles helmet in the middle of a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

Ouch. We'll be right back.


[12:39:05] KING: Time to check some of the other stories on our political radar today.

President Trump said Sunday's car crash that killed an NFL player is proof the country needs tougher immigration laws. He tweeted, "So disgraceful t9hat a person illegally in our country killed Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson". The president going on to say, "Democrats have to get tough on the border."

Police say the driver who struck Jackson's car was drunk and in the United States illegally after being deported twice.

President Trump keep saying he'd love to cut the U.S. trade deficit, but the latest figure show, it's heading on the wrong direction on his watch. It rose 12 percent last year, it now stands at $566 billion, the highest it's been since 2008.

Some of the factors, higher oil prices in a strong U.S. economy which tends to boost demand for imported goods.

Vice President Mike Pence now in Japan ahead of Friday's opening of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. A top official from North Korea will be part of that country's 22-member delegation in Pyeongchang.

9[12:40:01] During a stopover in Alaska, the vice president said any positive headlines the North may get from the games should be kept in context. He calls it propaganda but he also said he can't rule out a high-level meeting while he's there.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be telling the truth about North Korea at every stop. We'll be ensuring that whatever cooperation that's existing between North and South Korea today on Olympic teams does not cloud the reality of a regime that must continue to be isolated by the world community. With regard to any interaction with the North Korean delegation, I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens.


KING: We'll see what happens. Very interesting. Keep an eye on that and we will.

Up next, the latest installment of a Washington soap opera with real consequences. Memo wars.



[12:45:14] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know, what I'm talking. Oh, did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught them. So much fun. They're like, the great sleuth.


KING: Welcome back. That was missing a lot of facts, but you know in the Republican memo the president somehow sees evidence of a plot against him. An open question. What will the president do now with a Democratic memo that could undercut the very memo that the president says vindicates him?

A White House official telling CNN the president will get a first look at the Democratic rebuttal document as soon as today. The decision on releasing it, though, won't come until later this week. For now, the White House says it's busy checking the boxes.


HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He went through the proper channels and process and procedure with the first memo. He's going to do the exact same thing with this memo.


KING: Another official says the process will, quote, be handled by the book and the president will, quote, accept the recommendations of the FBI and the Intel Community despite overruling those objections just last week. The Democratic memo is longer and sources say it contains more closely held information.

A short time ago, we heard from the House Speaker Paul Ryan who says the document needs a good scrub. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The Republicans are for letting all these information out there provided that we scrub for sources and methods. The Republican memo was written to make sure that sources and methods were not compromised so that full disclosure could occur. We do not now know whether that's the case with the Democrat. By the way, it has to go through that scrubbing process.


KING: Is that the speaker just being very responsible, or is that the speaker suggesting he sees cause for the president to -- if not to completely withhold the Democratic memo, at least lockout and redact some of it?

KAPUR: That's the speaker recognizing that it's not a tenable preposition to support release of the Republican memo and to not in some form or fashion let the Democrats tell their counter story. I think when the central allegation in the Republican memo is disputed.

I want to very quickly just bring out some poll numbers that show how bifurcated this issue has become. A Quinnipiac poll finds that by 53 percent to 41 percent margin that American public thinks the president is trying to derail or obstruct the investigation. Fifty-four to 39 of the Russia probe is legitimate rather than a witch hunt. But among Republicans it's a very different story.

The president has convinced a huge number of his, you know, voters and his party that this is not legitimate. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans approve of the FBI's handling of this. Twenty-percent, this is the party of law and order. Fifty-eight percent think the FBI is biased against the president.

KING: Again, in part, Jeff Sessions I think did not want this memo released, at least the FBI didn't, and most of the Justice Department didn't, but he writes in the Washington Examiner today to your very point.

"I think we need to go the extra mile to make sure that everything we do is not political. Everything we do is based on law and facts. And whether we like it or not, there's been erosion in some confidence of the American people at the FBI and the Department of Justice. We need to earn that back."

ZELENY: Well, the president of course is leading the charge on this. I mean, he's gone after the FBI, he arranged that the FBI -- the upper range, he always says he supports the rank and file, but the reality is the morale is low.

What I'm hearing from the White House talking to officials this morning, there is an assumption the president will authorize the release of this, but they do not expect it will be in the exact same format. There will be some reductions so now the fight will be over that. We'll see what the FBI says. Last week they said they had grave concerns. We don't know if the FBI will weigh in specifically in that kind of way. But there is an assumption th4e president will do that. I'm told he'll likely see it tomorrow and be briefed on it but will not potentially read the whole document.

But the White House is not as familiar with this document as they were last week's document which, of course, raises some questions of what the role was in helping craft it.

BALL: Well, I think what you heard Speaker Ryan doing there was trying to give himself space for whatever the president decides to do. Because he doesn't know and we don't know and the president doesn't know, the White House doesn't know what decision he's going to make here. And because he can be so unpredictable, I think you heard Paul Ryan trying to leave room for either outcome and potentially defend it, because that's what he's going to be called upon to do after the House Intelligence Committee have voted unanimously to release this Democratic memo.

But, you know, to Sahil's point, I think it's the -- Ryan and House Republicans see this as potentially covering all their basis, a potential political win for them, because the Republican memo, although most experts say it did not make its case sufficiently, most Republicans were convinced by it. Many Republicans now believe this witch hunt narrative, believe that the FBI is biased against the president.

You hear the White House now saying we'll run this by the FBI. So just imagine Chris Wray spitting out his coffee when he heard that, right. Oh now, you care what the FBI thinks. But certainly made that point to their base and now they can then look magnanimous to release the Democratic memo and it's not going to change what the Republican base already believes about this.

KING: Get the president's decision in a few days. Yes, so wonder people don't like Washington. Hmm.

[12:50:00] Up next, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin tries to turn the temperature down on Capitol Hill by urging lawmakers to sign an election year pledge.


KING: Welcome back. If you're a DACA recipient looking for more time, you won't find comfort this morning on Capitol Hill. The White House Chief of Staff John Kelly telling reporters this morning he doubts the March 5th deadline to act will be extended. That's according to the Washington Post and POLITICO. We'll keep an eye on that.

Another big story on Capitol Hill, you make the call here? Is this a grand gesture aimed at more bipartisanship or a selfish act of self- preservation.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin wants his colleagues to sign on to an election year pledge. CNN exclusively reported the details earlier. Manchin is calling on his colleagues to avoid campaigning against fellow incumbents or directly raising money or appearing in campaign ads against them. Manchin who happens to be up for reelection this year, made his case on the Senate floor last hour.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Washington will be dysfunctional until we all draw the line of truce and say we're here for the same reason, we take the same oath.

[12:55:06] We better control ourselves through the rules we can change and the ethics laws that we should live by, to treat each other in the manner that we want to be treated.

So with that, I'm going to sign this pledge, and I would hope that all of my colleagues would consider signing the pledge the same way. We're the only ones that can change it.


KING: OK. There's nothing wrong with bipartisanship, but we are in an election year. You have the Democrats versus Republicans. The Eagles and Patriots fans are not going to brunch, the Red Sox and Yankees fans are not going to brunch.

Should incumbent senators -- would it help the cause to promise not to campaign, or is this a guy who's in a state Trump won by 42 points saying no.

FOX: This looks like a political stunt to me. I mean, Joe Manchin clearly is up for reelection in a tough red state of Pennsylvania. And while a lot of members campaign against each other, that's the way it's been for a long period of time. And sure, it doesn't help bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

It may not even help once May comes around, lawmakers kind of stop working together. You'll see a major slowdown in legislation. If you don't think we already have one, you're definitely going to have -- yes, you're going to definitely have one in May.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But this is with the (ph) Tom Daschle at time when he was the Senate Democratic leader a long time ago. I mean, the standard was that you didn't go and campaign on someone's home turf. He lost that year, and the reality is, that rule has been out the window for a long time. So it's more of an act of -- it sounds a bit sort of like desperation I think and that Senator Manchin knows this is a very tough race.

KAPUR: And as well, it can be both selfish and sincere, right. It's selfish because he has realized it's sincere because he more than --


KAPUR: Right, exactly. But, I mean, I do think the fundamental premise of what Senator Manchin is trying to do here is flawed. The reason things don't work on Capitol Hill, the reason for the partisan ranker is not because of personalities and relationships and because these people don't like each other.

You put McConnell and Schumer in a room together, I think they're going to agree on just about anything. Same with Ryan and Pelosi. The rankers emanating from around the country. Coffee shops, thanksgiving tables, bars, people are divided. The parties' bases are divided.

And they elect representatives to represent them and they demand things of them once they're there. So I don't think, you know, campaigning against or for each other, not donating to some group or whatever that fund --

KING: You don't think signing a big factor to the floor of the Senate is going to end the polarization of American politics.

FOX: I mean, it'll be a nice couple of photo ops for sure.

BALL: Yes. I mean, I think that Senator Manchin's heart may actually be in this. I think he is someone who cares about this stuff. And we've heard him voicing his frustrations that almost caused him not to run for reelection. And he's in a unique situation where to Sahil's point, you know, his voters are in one place and not necessarily the same place as him.

So he sees that, he deals with that every day. He may actually mean this. But also part of being a grown-up in politics is that you fight really hard in the election, and then you put all that aside and forget about it when you come into the legislative chamber.

KING: If you give a state of the union address, and the Democrats don't cheer a lot for you, you put it aside and say this.


TRUMP: You're up there. You've got half the room going totally crazy wild. They love everything, they want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news, really positive news like that. They were like death and un-American. Un- American.

Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yes, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much.


KING: Sorry, Mr. President, it's not un-American, it's not treasonous. It might be partisan. It might not be respectful to you, but it's not un-American and it's not treasonous.

And to Joe Manchin's point, you want more bipartisanship? I don't think he agrees.

ZELENY: And the White House is not going to stay out of West Virginia race. They believe that's a good pickup opportunity, but treasonous, un-American? How about accusing the president of not being a U.S. citizen? That might also a rank up there. So the reality is President Trump does not have a lot of credibility on this subject.

KING: He doesn't have a history of tying anything he said previously to what he's saying now at least at a minimum. But, that's a probably -- we can laugh about this because we laugh all day.

It's the president of the United States saying it's un-American not to stand and cheer for him? That it's treasonous not to stand and cheer for him?

No, we are on the First Amendment right, you can say it's disrespectful, you can attack them but Un-American, treasonous?

BALL: Well, yes, I mean, he clearly, A, doesn't know the constitutional definition of treason, I am not shocked by that. And, B, everything to him is about him, you know. And someone called this sort of an autocratic tendency that he views the government as his personal organ and either use for swear filthy and loyalty to him, and cheer for the things that he does or you don't love the country.

KAPUR: The White House says it's a joke. I think the president still doesn't understand the gravity of his words.

KING: He's the president. You've got to be careful about your jokes. Thanks for joining me for INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right now.