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Bolton Begins As National Security Adviser Amid Syria Crisis; Mark Zuckerberg Meets With Top Lawmakers Before Hearings; Trump Economic Team's Mixed Messages On Tariffs; Florida Gov. Scott Announces Bid For Senate. 1230-1pm ET

Aired April 9, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:02] JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: -- and you know, we need to take care of ourselves at home, but also in some cases very hawkish that we need to strike out.

Now, we also know that John Bolton in the past has advocated against intervening in Syria after chemical weapon attacked. He did in 2013 when Barack Obama was in the White House, so it'd be interesting to see if he does the same now that he is in the White House for the President who seems very inclined to act.

But certainly, on North Korea, he's also advocated the case, the legal case for a preemptive strike there and now that the President can be engaging in these talks we think possibly in the next several weeks, so it would very interesting to see how he sort of tries to fit himself in to the debate right now in the White House.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And he has been since leaving the George W. Bush administration. He's been writing opt eds including your publication, the Weekly Standard. He's been a Fox News quite frequently. He writes for the journal in "New York Times", you pick up the "Wall Street Journal," for example, "The legal case for striking North Korea first," that's from John Bolton. In the New York Times, "To stop Iran's bomb, bomb Iran."

So, you know, if you look at that, you think, OK here comes this hokey in the White House but let's give John Bolton his change to make his case here. He says, yes, I was out of government. I was being provocative at times on purpose stating what my view was then, but now I work for a President.


JOHN BOLTON, NEW NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I've written -- I don't know how many articles and opt eds and opinion pieces I've given. I can't count the number of speeches. I've had countless interviews, maybe the majority of them on Fox in the past 11 years. They're all out there on the public record.

I've never been shy about what my views are, but frankly, what I've said in private now is behind me, at least effective April the 9th, and the important thing is what the President says and what advice I give him.


KING: And to add to that, the job in its purest form is to take the incoming from the Secretary of Defense, to take the incoming from the Secretary of State, take the incoming from the United Nations Ambassador, Nikki Haley in this case, and from all the intelligence agencies and then sort of build their list of, you know, a fair and objective compilation for the President. Here's your advice, sir, make your decision. But if you're in that job, you have that proximity to the President. You also get to sort of, if it's an even call, tip the scales a little bit?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think what's interesting to me that this is -- this new iteration of the White House bringing in these new advisers, Bolton, bringing Larry Kudlow on the economic side, people actually have very different views on some key issues than the President himself.

Towards (ph) that today went out these internal battles that are happening especially in light of reports of John Kelly's influence waning today out. Today have more influence on more slay with the president whose views are rather adaptable. So we say how about these key issues? I think he will have some sway initially, but how long will that last? Will the president get tired of him? We know the President doesn't have enough of patience for a lot of his advisers.

KING: And when we see him more publicly and he's comfortable on the public setting. We didn't H.R. McMaster out. He did the weekend show. Sometimes, we didn't see him all the time. Is John Bolton going to be more of a physical presence for the Trump Administration?

JOHN MCCORMACK, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think that remains to be seen. I mean, the President has made it clear, as experienced with H.R. McMaster. He's more than willing to disagree with his aides whenever possible because I don't think that this new edition is as to make -- some of swing in a real different direction.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: But you have you have to wonder with Bolton, he has to be careful like some of the other advisers, not in front of too many magazines, to not put himself out there too much because the President doesn't like that, either, if his advisers get too far ahead of where he is in the press.

KING: So that one point again and interesting week start. The new national security advisor at a key moment of decision for the president. We'll keep an eye on that.

Well, up next. First hear to Mark Zuckerberg, he's up on Capitol Hill right now, beginning a big week of damage control for Facebook


[12:38:00] KING: Topping our political radar today, the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill ready to say, yes mistakes for me. Zuckerberg meeting with lawmakers today ahead of national televised grillings about how Facebook failed to protect the data of millions Americans and other Russian co-opt to this social media platform to saw chaos in his written testimony posted. Just moments ago Zuckerberg says, he's sorry, quote "I started Facebook, I ran it and I'm responsible for what happens here." Some advice too this morning from the White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow who says, ditch the hoodie.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Is he going to wear a suit and tie and clean white shirt?


KUDLOW: That's my biggest question. Is he going to behave like an adult -- as a major corporate leader -- or give me this phony-baloney -- what is it? Hoodies and dungarees, and what's that kind of (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't -- you don't think much of Mark Zuckerberg I think.

KUDLOW: I think I could help and clean up his act.



KING: For the record Mr. Kudlow, Mark Zuckerberg did in fact have a suit and tie on today.

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith to sworn in this afternoon as Mississippi's newest and first female United States senator. She was named to replace Senator Thad Cochran who retired because of health issues. But Hyde-Smith appointment only temporary until on November special election who's swearing in though raises the total number of women in the United States senate to 23. That's a new high. Most recently she was Mississippi's Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.

U.S. Attorney John Loush now being named for step in and handle a document dispute between the Justice Department in the House Judiciary Committee. On Saturday, President Trump accused the department of, "stalling" and producing documents on Hillary Clinton's e-mails, former FBI director James Comey and more. Meanwhile today the former attorney general from the Obama years, Loretta Lynch, responding to Comey's 2017 testimony claiming, she softened the Clinton e-mail investigation by directing him to call it the, "Clinton matter."


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: But, so Comey says you want to call it, "The Clinton matter." He wants to call it, "The Clinton investigation." To the extent, though, that he noted it, that it bothered him did he go to you and question your credibility with regard to the Clinton case?

LORRETTA LYNCH, FMR ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, look I can tell you that, you know, it was a meeting like any other that we that we had had where we talked about the issues. And we had a full and open discussion about it.

HOLT: And he didn't raise any concerns about?

LYNCH: And concerns were not raised.


[12:40:20] KING: Concerns were not raised, Loretta Lynch says. Lets quickly on this one, the bigger issue is the dispute between the Republican justice department and Republican congress over producing documents. Jeff Sessions seems to be seeking a middle ground here, bringing in a prosecutor to say, you get -- you handle this, decided to be more quickly, deciding if this is appropriate. The right call?

RAJU: Well, look this is what do they interest today. (INAUDIBLE) documents about the Clinton e-mail investigation that the Republicans believe didn't -- was not handled appropriately, and that's one of the reason why the president is pushing very hard for these documents to be produced.

Press is the way to one can see it is undercut James Comey just as he's coming out very publicly right now. So this is going to continue to play out not just on the Hill, but when this inspector general's investigation this report is released in the coming weeks still, it may not look so favorably on James Comey. So a lot in this to be said about what happened.

KING: And he has a book about to come out. So we're going to see a lot of James Comey in the next few weeks. Because of that let me hit the pause in that conversation, let's talk about Mark Zuckerberg. Larry Kudlow generationally doesn't like dungarees that's -- that one in a while, and hoodies. But as we laugh about that because there is some cohort here, this is a giant challenge for Zuckerberg and his company, and for all the social media companies, all the technology companies because that cause of legitimate questions raised here. Is he ready? He's not someone who has shown over the recent years that he's willing to take the knocks, if you will.

DAVIS: Well, may -- I mean it certainly have been prepping the heck out of him for him to be ready, and you saw from the statement that you were just reading that he does appear to be coming in here with a lot of contrition, and, you know, OK, I get it, I'm responsible, the buck stops with me, which goes a long way, I think. But I'm not sure it goes as far as he needs to go. I mean he has now going to be facing both Republicans and Democrats who are livid and/or sort of channeling the anger of their constituents and the public about what's going on here and concerns about, you know what, needs to happen in order to prevent it from happening in the future. So, I do think that he's going to have a tough road even if he is prepared.

KUCINICH: Especially because they weren't forthcoming initially, because the drip, drip, drip coming from Facebook. We knew this, we knew that, it's this many million, this many million. He's going to have to answer to that and whether they were hiding anything. KING: And if it's rare do we have a Bipartisan pinata moment in Washington, D.C.

RAJU: This is going to be about. This is going to be a public --


KING: I believe we're going to have one of those. So everybody should tight. Up next, the president's economic team can't seem to get its stories straight. Are we in a trade war or not?


[12:46:47] KING: Welcome back trade, one of the items on the agenda, it's the president's cabinet meeting this morning. The president calling out China for what he calls unfair trade practices. But listen here the president message a bit mellow.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a situation with China where we have a very good relationship with China, and I think we'll maintain that relationship. With that being said, China has been taking advantage of the United States for many years. They have really done a number on this country. And I don't blame China. I blame the people running our country, I blame presidents, I blame representatives, I blame negotiators.


KING: So far, as you can see the bottom right of your screen. Their markets they're up on this Monday. But there's a great deal of uncertainty because the statements like from the president and from statements by the economic. Listen here. Listen to these three statements and you tell me if you understand the White House policy.


KUDLOW: Remember, this is a process right, no tariffs have been implemented yet.

PETER NAVARRO WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL DIRECTOR: That plan is being implemented includes both tariffs to recover the damages that China inflicts as well as investment restrictions.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: There is the potential of a trade war and let me to speak clearly it's not a trade war.


KING: Raising your people working for the same boss, there's clearly a tag of war and you see the tag of war over this policy right there.

DAVIS: Right. Well you have -- you have some advisers like Larry Kudlow who do not believe in tariffs. He went into the administration, you know, get every clear on that point. We have Peter Navarro whose been, you know, his whole career is been about being tough on China. He called for tariff. He's clearly behind the strategy they've clash. And the president obviously wants to be talking very tough about it and if you listen to what his advisers say behind the scene is that he want's China to know that his serious of the China then it supports to come to the table and make some sort of accommodation here.

But this is gone way beyond that at this point and he send this before when he was in Beijing in November. He said I don't blame China and that's a way of saying don't blame them. They're just taking advantage of our (INAUDIBLE) policy. The problem is his now the president so his in charge of the policy and it's not clear how he wants to change it

KING: And you making this point earlier, Larry Kudlow is having this daily -- these daily conversations with reporters which the bus might stop at some point. But where he says don't blame us by China. The president just say don't blame China.

KUCINICH: Well, yes, but, you know, we should listen to the president on this one because that's where its coming from. He also has a good personal relationship with President Xi and I don't think he can underestimate that if the president like to the liked, and the two of them seem to have a good rapport so he is, you know, bashing China. He doesn't want to squander that relationship, that personal relationship that he has with the Chinese president.

KING: Great point. The questions is can he use the rapport to make some progress and many people saying that why we go through all those this dread (ph) over trade war whether it's about to be implemented or six months away. Why did you try to talk first before you run (ph) a market?

I just want to show Mr. President who we know. Last year for good reason, understandable reasons, kept talking about how the markets were going up. If you look because of the recent turmoil, look at now where he ranks from inauguration day through 444 days of a president's term which is (INAUDIBLE) for this president.

[12:50:04] Donald Trump is now eighth behind FDR, Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt. Fourth term Obama, Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Now, it's not entirely fair to the president because there was big jump between the election and the Trump inauguration. But if you're scoring it just mean inauguration day today at 444 but his ranking is a bit lower there. Whatever your view on tariffs and trade the way they talked about this, the way they've done about it has cause a lot of ton volatility in the markets.

MCCORMACK: And if you're a member of Congress who's looks at this with dismay, I think you have no one to blame but yourself. You know, the president here is now acting, at least talking about acting that was something always talked about and they have completely advocated the responsibility of their authority.

Mike Lee has a bill to establish -- reestablish authority that Congress has given away to the president. It's pick up about two co- sponsors, a spokesman tells me, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Jeff Flake of Arizona, again if you want to take back this power it's going to take 2/3 of Congress of Republican and Democrats no entries right now that actually.

RAJU: And I think we also have questions if the president does back off of it. He feels enough pressure from his base to do so given that this is hitting people in rural America very significantly. And the president himself acknowledging that today, even saying that, you know, farmers are going to get hit but they're going to be OK because they're great patriots and they understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll make it up to the farmers.

RAJU: We'll make it up to them but how and they actually, will it be OK. We've seen the bottom line adversely impact by the president's policies.

KING: Well, again, something else we have to keep watching because a little bit of mix messaging. Up next, a new Republican candidate for Senate in Florida. Republicans Party is happy thinking it could be a big takeaway from the Democrats.


[12:55:38] KING: One of this year's most fascinating and consequential races kicked in the high gear today. The Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott made it official, he is running for Senate challenging the incumbent democrat Bill Nelson.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA STATE CANDIDATE: So today with my wife by my side, I am announcing I am running for the U.S. Senate for the great state of Florida. We can change Washington. We must change Washington. We will change Washington together. Let's get Washington to work.


KING: Now, Scott's approval ratings are up, and his response to the Parkland shooting included signing new gun controls. Democrats can't lose this seat if they hope to win back the Senate next year. So they wasted no time welcoming Scott with this tough on-line ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When his title was governor, he cut $1.3 billion from education, raised property taxes and refused federal health care aid that would have covered almost a million Floridians. Now Rick Scott wants to be called senator. But if he didn't look out for you here, he won't look out for you there.


KING: Scott official in, CNN moving the Florida rights from lean democratic to toss up. Our new rankings also include this year the raise to replace the Tennessee Republican Bob Corker moving from likely Republican to lean Republican, so competitive race in Tennessee.

But let's stay in Florida. This is going to be now one of the big mark (oh) races of the year. Rick Scott, Republicans look at him and say he's won two really close tough races. That's a good thing because he's battle tested. We could flip that and say he won those two races just barely in 2010 and 2014 red years -- red wave years, against pretty weak opponents, let's be honest. So you could look and say is he up for this in a blue year.

RAJU: Yes, and it's going to be one of the most expensive races in the country. It's going to be one of closest races in the country. Bill Nelson himself has not had -- as if formidable of a challenger as Rick Scott so this is going to be a tough race for him to undoubtedly.

I think when you look also the map more broadly this is, you know, the Democrats have a very good chance of picking up the House, very significant chance. But, on the Senate side, it's really going to be very difficult for them to take back the Senate. They still have a number of incumbents and red seats who are fighting to just keep their seats. Florida could be one that flips. So, we could in election day where the Democrats take House or Republican narrowly keep the Senate but still a long way.

KING: This is incredibly telling to me as Rick Scott looks at this race. Number one he signs a bill. He signed the NRA opposed. Rick Scott is been gun rights guy. He's been NRA guy. He signed a bill that includes new gun control. The NRA doesn't oppose him. He understands his state is becoming more of a suburb.

Number two, political ask the question even if you're a Trump Republican, Rick Scott has been a strong supporter of this president. The president has been a strong supporter of his governor. Here's reason, "I consider myself Rick Scott. I don't consider myself any type of anything. If it's good for us, I'm going to support what the White House wants to do. If it's not good for Florida, I'm going to oppose. I'm not going to be a rubber stamp for anybody." That tells me this is a guy who thinks, in this blue year, the best way for him is to move to the middle but be not so far right, is that fair?

MCCORMACK: I think so. I mean this are two very well known commodities here so voters will be able to remember two terms of Rick Scott and whether they want to get rid of Bill Nelson over that. I don't think they will. I think that right now environment is so democratic, lean democratic that this isn't going to be the race that decides or flips the Republicans this year.

KUCINICH: But you can bet that quote is going to end up in an ad and layered over some things that Rick Scott has done that aligns himself with Trump. I mean there going to be time Trump to him at every turn, in part because of the amount of money that's going to go to Florida. I mean we can't stress enough how expensive this race is going to be and how Democrats are going to be looking for any advantage to keep this state blue.

DAVIS: And you can also imagine how that quote might turn up in Donald Trump's clips that some point and make him angry. I mean --


DAVIS: -- the degree to which he is willing to and does engage in a forceful way in its races is going to be determine in some way for Rick Scott

RAJU: And I talked to Bill Nelson about the gun control, so he believed that cuts in his favor very much because he got bad ratings from the NRA. He doesn't think that will help him particularly in Southern Florida, we'll see how it deals with Rick Scott.

KING: A couple of big house races on Florida as well this year. It's going to be great to stay watch the midterm election here with much to watch now to November. Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS today. See you back here this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right now. Have a great day.