Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Omarosa on Trump; Pyeongchang Winter Olympics; Donald Trump Take Credit On Economy. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 9, 2018 - 12:30   ET

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


OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: There's a retrain pattern to this especially reaching to outside advisers to ask whether his inside advisers are doing a good job. We heard that since even before he took office. And so that's a dynamic here two, he's asking people, who by the way, might be rivals evil on the inside, hey, am I being well-served of my Chief of Staff, should I get rid of him? And this is sometimes gets reported as he's considering firing someone when that's not the case. But that's an important dimension as well

JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS ANCHOR: And then this is, again, part of the constant, some people call it chaos, some people just call his behavior, but it's a constant we've seen since day one to Trump administration. He's calling outside, asking people to rate and score his inside team, among them is former Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, who remember was fired during the campaign, still talks to the President fairly frequently, not a fan of Gen. John Kelly, because Gen. Kelly has limited, try to limit to access of these people to the President, so Corey Lewandowski sees a problem and he knows to fix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The President is the only person who's going to make the decision. If John Kelly should stay on the job, look, the general is there to put in policies and processes and procedures, and in this case those didn't work, and we need to find out why. And so where the buck stops, I guess at the end of the day is what the general --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's the President's decision, but I know he watches a lot of cable television especially Fox News, and therefore I'm going to give him a suggestion right here on TV.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: And the buck doesn't stop with Gen. Kelly, the buck stops with the President which, though, if the President is watching, he -- it may be very soothing for him to hear that the buck stops with General Kelly.

KING: You had some great reporting, I want to get you, but again the President, we are told that -- I don't have the information but if anybody does, please step up that the President didn't know about this. He still blind sided by this, it wasn't brought to his attention, if that's not true, please step up.

But here's a reporting, he said, Porter, Trump told Cohn, Gary Cohn, had not one but two degrees from Harvard and he was a Rhodes Scholar. Even Gorsuch wasn't a Rhodes Scholar, Trump said. Maybe he'll be my next Supreme Court pick.

So this is somebody who the president very much enjoyed.

JOHNSON: He did. Porter really did develop a nice relationship with Trump, in part because he really did have a sterling resume. He was a graduate of Harvard College, a graduate of Harvard Law School, overlapped at Harvard College with Jared Kushner. And Trump said that in jest.

I don't want to spark a million stories of Porter being on the Supreme Court shortlist but he was really impressed that he had been a Rhodes Scholar, and he said, you know, joking around to Gary Cohn, that he's the smartest guy in the White House. I thought he was this guy who just handed me papers, and then I realized this guy was the smartest guy in the White House and even Neil Gorsuch wasn't a Rhodes Scholar, he was just a Marshall Scholar.

So, they did develop a nice support and I think that's one of the reasons that when John Kelly learned that his background was the real problem, he had some difficulty acting upon it. And I think it's important to note that the fact that Rob Porter was working on an interim security clearance was a real problem for John Kelly, and he had told confidantes in recent days, that he wanted to act not only on Porter but on everybody else in the White House to his continuing to work on an interim security.

KING: Well, that's a big question. We will continue to talk about days ahead, because Rob Porter reprehends of behavior on this case deserves a top of the list in the spotlight but there are number of other aids who still don't have a permanent security clearance for a year and a month in right now. If they can't get one, the Chief is right to think he'd better do something about.

Up next, though, behind the scenes drama at the White House, now providing story lines for reality TV. Yes, we'll take a little while to this next including Omarosa turning on the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSS MATTHEWS, TV PERSONALITY: Should we be worried?

OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Don't say that. Because we are worried but I need you to say no it's going to be OK. OK, no it's going to not be OK. It's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:38:15] KING: Couple of things on our political radar, today President Trump planning to hit the road, head to Pennsylvania, again this month hoping to save a Republican seat in Congress. The President doubling down a support for candidate Rick Saccone. Rick's running in a district and it's so red, the Democrats didn't even put up a fight in the past two elections. Things are very different now in the special election, it's closer, Democrats think they may have a chance to still a seat.

Senator Chuck Grassley says the public may soon have a much better understanding of exactly what happened inside that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Judiciary Committee Chairman says interviews -- interview transcripts, excuse me, with people present that day including the President's son, Donald Trump Jr., are being prepared for release and the senator says, we can expect them out in public in just a few weeks.

And don't want to miss this, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, giving her new Big Brother housemates a pretty gloomy glimpse on her time in the Trump White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Like I was haunted by tweets every single day. Like what is he going to tweet next?

MATTHEWS: Does anybody say to him, what are you doing?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I mean I tried to be that person and then all of the people around him attacked me. It was like keep her away from him. Don't give her access. Don't let her talk to him. And it's like Ivanka's there, Jared is there.

MATTHEWS: Would you vote or him again?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: God, no. Never. In a million years, never.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: They have a little fun, right? Yes, Omarosa continuing her public service, of course, back in reality TV after leaving her West Wing position in December, her Big Brother housemate asked her, does she believes the nation is going to be OK under the Trump administration. She answered, one word, no. It's reality T.V. It's fun. I think, correct me to think I'm wrong, it's a fair amount of self-promotion and there--

JOHNSON: No, not reality. Never, no.

KING: Not at all, no?

[12:40:06] But the President gave her a pretty important White House job. I know it didn't end well. She didn't get along to Chief of Staff. He cannot be happy to see this or to see just think Hollywood, whatever.

HEMDON: I'm also was the top ranking African-American White House -- in west wing, I mean. And -- but I do think that she has a personal understanding with Trump. And Trump knows that Omarosa is a self- promoter. So while he may not be happy to see some of those, he'll know what Omarosa is doing.

KAROUN DEMINJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Also, if there is anybody with has kind of, you know, testy, integrity. I was not Eddie Guteya (ph) of The Apprentice before, I understand the two of then were never exactly best friends. And that's kind of how they became to face more attention there than, you know.

JOHNSON: Candid spirit.

DEMINJIAN: Right, yes.

(INAUDIBLE)

KNOX: You know -- yesterday it was Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shaw saying Omarosa has been fired three times on "The Apprentice" and this is the fourth time we let her go.

We as in, we are all The Apprentice.

KING: We are -- Yes, someday it feels that way.

Up next, the vice president is in South Korea for the Olympic Game. So is Kim Jong-un's sister, not in attendance, these guys right here.

The President and the North Korea dictator said, the world will have to settle for these pretty impersonators. Full diplomacy on the world stage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:45:37] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, right now they're talking Olympics. It's a start. It's a big start. If I weren't involved, they wouldn't be talking about Olympics right now, they would be doing no talking or it would be much more serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Welcome back. Is that true? Well, it's impossible to say. But look at these improbable pictures this morning in South Korea. Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, taking in the opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang. She's the first North ruling family to set foot in the south in more than 60 years. One row in front her, the American vice president, two days earlier, promise harsh new sanctions targeting the royal regime.

It's an amazing picture, the close quarters of world apart from the class and styles, is the vice president's icy tone the right tone? Well, experts from the previous administration say no.

The terra nova we're entering now with the Olympics is going to be the sharp contrast between the charm offensive led by Kim Yo Jong and the spine-stiffening led by Vice President Pence. That's President Obama's former agent director for the National Security Council, Danny Russel. 9 I don't know if that's right, but it is the debate. With the North Korean athletes there, with Kim Jong-un's sister there for the historic visit to the south. The march and the opening ceremonies with the flags, the images are pretty powerful. And the vice president thinks this is all propaganda then it's a waste of time, essentially implicitly at least critical of the south for agreeing to it. Should they have a, we think this is propaganda but prove it, tone or is the vice president, hmm, right?

DEMINJIAN: The President has never really been willing to give the South Koreans the driver's seat in this whole relationship. This is basically, you're seeing the visual representation of the Olympics which is far more, you know, happy, let's all link arms type of thing than your usual standoff over nuclear weapons development.

So, yes, you've got the Pence kind of resisting the way the administration has resisted at every turn when the South Koreans want to take a more conciliatory approach. They're right there. You know, it matters to them on a day-to-day sense. It's not theoretical when you're talking about nuclear weapons, but it's more of a distance. And we have the privilege of taking a harder line against North Korea.

Now, you've got Pence having to kind of keep that stiff upper lip to kind of show that he's not satisfied with it, and that he's not going to take a back seat to what the South Koreans want. And the South Koreans are putting some expert seating arrangements together to make that as awkward as possible. So, that to dessert it says ended happen.

KING: And you see it in the images. And Olivia, you've written about this, but even while in South Korea, there are some defectors who are there. The Vice President Otto Warmbier's parents with him. Otto Warmbier, the young American who was taken prisoner, torture by the North Korean. They sent him home, you know days before, but he died.

You see these images here and then you see our Paula Hancock, our correspondent is there. She tweeted this morning, massive cheer for North and South Korean athletes marching under unified flag. Everyone in the stadium took to their feet.

So, there's no question of this propaganda from the North. But my question, I guess, is should the vice president say, "We don't believe you, we don't trust you? But hey, it's great you're here and now prove it more than this?" Or is the line he's taking the right line?

KNOX: Everyone is playing their assigned roles in a diplomatic sense. The South Koreans want as a long-term goal to see the peninsula reunified. Historically they've been softer on North Korea for that reason United States has been.

And this is much more what we expected from the Moon administration, frankly. We expected them to divert from the Trump administration. The surprise was that, for months and months and months, they did not.

KING: If that goes all of the missile things. KNOX: They lined up with the Trump administration before. This is much more what we would expect. I don't pretend to know whether this is the right call or the wrong call, but what Mike Pence is doing is, he's applying the policy of United States which is what they call this maximum pressure campaign.

KING: Maximum pressure including in this interview, then this is Lester Holt, who is anchoring from Pyeongchang during the Olympics. And again, no opening at all for diplomacy, you listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF United States: Well, President Trump and our allies in the region have agreed to delay our military exercises until after the Olympics. I know President Moon has appreciated that. But we're going to make it crystal clear that our military, our Japanese self-defense forces, our allies here in South Korea, all of our allies across the region are fully prepared --

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: Military defense?

PENCE: Well, to defend our nation and to take what action is necessary to defend our homeland.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's almost as if they're saying, "We've agree to hit the pause button during the games, but the moment the games are over, we're not going to give the North any credit for this outrage."

[12:50:07] HEMDON: Yes, he's really throwing cold water on the kind of efforts that north and south have put together here. But again, that's the role he's going to play. I mean, that is what the policy of the Trump administration has been and even, you know, policies going back further. And that's the kind of relationship that these places have. And so I don't think it's necessarily surprising. The question is what happens next?

KING: And the trip -- go ahead.

KNOX: And I don't know what Mike Pence is telling the South Koreans privately, but one thing that is happening is this is one of China's dreams, is seeing the United States split off from its allies in the region. Some differences, public differences of opinion with South Korea, though not with Japan. Japan is lined up very carefully with Mike Pence.

So if there's a downside to this, if there's a potential danger it's that. It's -- but if this turns into a more lasting and deeper rift with South Korea.

DEMIRJIAN: And you can say it doesn't matter but those images will still 2be there. People will watch the repeated opening ceremonies, sports diplomacy matters in terms of the global public opinion on this.

KING: History proves you are correct there.

Up next, don't look at your 401(k) and certainly don't blame me if you do. The Dow down triple digits again at the starting the day going gangbusters, does a potential correction suggest the President might stop crowing about the markets?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:55:24] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The stock market has added more than $8 trillion in new wealth. That's pretty amazing. $8 trillion and said every record in doing it.

The stock has smashed one record after another.

(INAUDIBLE)

The stock market has shattering one record after another.

Your whole long life stock market is (INAUDIBLE) has ever been. And that means your 401(k)s and your -- all the things that you have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You've heard that, the President bragging about the stock market since day one of his administration. If you've been through this week or even this day, you know, it's been much more volatile in the last few days. In the last just few hours, the stock market now down more than 300 points. It went up 300 points to start the day.

The question is this when it comes to politics, is this current volatility going to do any damage to what had been some gradual improvement in the President's numbers on very important questions. Number one, just look the stock market over the past year, President had reason to brag. This is what happened recently, but it's still up pretty good. Let's just look at the last month. This is where you have the volatility kicked in including this is where it closed yesterday, still the market in trouble today.

Come to the time when the President started to get more credit for the economy. If you go back to March 2017, 67 percent of Americans in the Quinnipiac Poll said President Obama deserve credit for the good economy. Much less so, President Trump. But look at the shift, look at the shift what a swings, boom. President Trump now gets more credit for the economy that is predecessor. That helps the President especially in the midterm election year.

President's approval rating, still only at 40 percent, but if you look there -- you look at the bumpy line, he's starting to go up a little bit. So the President starting to go up, some of it clearly has to do with passing the tax cut plan. The tax cut plan boosting the numbers a little. People feel better about the economy, give the President credit. He wants that in the election year, traders don't care so much about politics. They say, this correction were seeing is the way the economy works, Mr. President, get used to it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED WEISBERG, PRESIDENT, SEAPORT SECURITIES: I would say until prove another wise at the moment you have to be defensive and, you know, everything would indicate that we're going to trade lower. I mean, it would be almost very book style if it would get to hold here and rally, but, you know, a 10 percent correction is what folks were suggesting we would get as a reversal of the trend. When we get these reversals, it sharpens teeth and very painful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do we make of this? And I don't want to do minute by minute commentary in the markets. I'm certainly not qualified. And they tend to go up and they tend to go down. But the timing is interesting, because as you began this week, Republican saying yes still a very steep midterm election year (INAUDIBLE).

But it is for Republicans it's good the President's numbers are going up a little bit. It is good the people get the President more credit to the economy. It is good for Republicans to people seem to like the tax, at least there are voters like the tax cut and people feel better about the economy. Does this volatility change that mood?

JOHNSON: Look, the polls show that people feel more optimistic about the economy under President Trump. The difference is really people's expectations. Economic performance is largely the same over the past few years.

But I think what the President has learned in this past week is that there's a real danger in taking personal credit for economic performance. Let people give you the credit. They're going to credit you no matter what. They're going to blame you no matter what. But when there are video clips to go to show the President taking personal credit for the ups and downs in the stock market, that's dangerous.

DEMIRJIAN: And it's especially dangerous because at this point, you know, as the party is trying to make changes as we're talking about, you know, we've just had a budget that's kind of fit possibly and sits starts for while, but if tax plan is going to shift things around, there has been, you know, reports that we see just in right the history, of course about is this good for workers are people getting laid up. There's uncertainty there.

There's also uncertainty in the stock market when people are trying to bet on what is actually going to transpire with all those in the future and that we're seeing that volatility right now and the President tied himself that volatility, as you said, so that's -- it's a risky -- it's a dangerous risk.

HERNDON: I think there's a political question her I mean, the President, as we have said, has tied himself to the markets and the bet the Republicans may going into this midterm year is that no matter the tweets, no matter the cultural fights that the President has started that the economic fundamentals would, at some point, maybe stop the wave of Democratic wins that some seem to expect. The problem is that if the markets continue to turn and that shoots the President's narrative, then maybe that will cause people to focus on the other bad things a little more.

KING: The question is, is it limited? I think that it's the first midterm election year. I think that Democrats will gain, the question is can the President get those approval numbers up a little bit as people feel better about the economy.

[13:00:02] Stay with us. That will be the conversation throughout the year. Have a great weekend. Wolf Blitzer is up just a second.