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Trump: Rang Paul Has "Never Let Me Down"; Many Conservatives Not Yet Supporting Trump in 2020; Trump: Trade Deficit With Japan "Massive By Any Standpoint". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 19, 2018 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:30:02] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- really well, so I think that Mike will be in good shape. We'll see what happens. You know, a lot of people are predicting other things, but I have a feeling it's going to work out very well.

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JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The President thinks it's going to work out very well. One of their hopes is the senators, Democratic senators up for reelection this year and states that Trump won in some cases by 20, 30 or 40 points will say, you know what, whether I like this guy or not, the President deserves his team. How many Democrats do they need is the question.

John McCain is not here, not expected to be back. Rand Paul, we'll get to the details of him in a minute, but he says at the moment he's a no. So what does that mean, any one, any two, any three?

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: It looks like two to three at this point. Rand Paul is a no which means, as you've mentioned earlier, he's probably not going to get their committee. Republicans have a one-vote margin in the Senate Foreign Relations. But I spoke to John Cornyn, the number two Republican yesterday, and he said he's going to get four vote regardless he argue that it would be reckless and unthinkable his words to block the President's nominee while this North Korea negotiation is happening.

Apart from Rand Paul, I talked to Jeff Flake, the Arizona senator. He said he's undecided. He submitted questions. To Pompeo he's unsatisfactory answers. The first three Democratic dominants to fall will probably be, if history is any indication, be Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly. They are not decided right now.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I totally agree with you. I was up on Capitol Hill digging around on this yesterday. And the sense I got from some red state Democrats is exactly that. It is just so hard to fathom people who are running for reelection in states where the President won by double digits and is still incredibly popular. A West Virginia, a North Dakota and an Indiana, that they will say, you know what, I'm not going to give the President the secretary of state that he wants. This isn't voting against legislation, this is something particularly for former governors like Joe Manchin who understands the importance of having people who they trust and want at their side. It's just hard to fathom that they don't give the President what he wants.

KING: And yet the Democratic base, and in those states they have to worry about conservative voters too, but the liberal Democratic base is screaming at them not to give the President his choice. In part just to not give the President anything, and in part, they have some objections to Pompeo. On the Republican side, there is Rand Paul who has said he's a no, now Rand Paul says he will at least meet with Mike Pompeo. That came after the President called and said, look, give the guy another chance, having a meeting with Mike Pompeo.

Mr. President yesterday trying to nudge Rand Paul into the yes vote (ph).

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TRUMP: I will say this about Rand Paul. He's never let me down. Rand Paul is a very special guy, as far as I'm concerned. He's never let me down. And I don't think he'll let us down again. So let's see what happens.

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KING: Interesting definition of never let me down. Rand Paul speaks his mind. Rand Paul stands his ground. Can they get him or is Rand Paul just being nice because the President said give him another chance?

KAPUR: I think he's susceptible to political pressure here. Rand Paul tends to spend on principle would be saying he was one of the key votes, remember, that killed President Trump's attempt to revive Obamacare repeal with this Graham-Cassidy bill. He never backed down from that. So it's hard to see him having gotten reelected in 2016 not up for a number of years now back down from one of his signature issues.

He opposes the fact that he doesn't like the fact that Pompeo support the Iraq war. He doesn't like waterboarding. Is Rand going to, you know, flip on something that has defined him in his career?

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: That's the last point I want to bring up too which is the -- Rand Paul's opposition here is tied to the core of his identity as person and as a senator. He's not a hock (ph). He opposes interventionism. That put the question under the table as well. It's much harder to get you when you've sort of spent your lifetime defining yourself one way and you're asking for a vote that would essentially step that aside for now.

KING: In part, Rand Paul's brand is being the contrarian. I agreed completely on the -- there are certain issues in which he says, no, I'm not moving on this one. In part, he wants just as much as a red state Democrat, one or two votes with Trump to be able to say sometimes I do it. Rand Paul wants the one or two votes against Trump because it's part of his brand.

Once you listen here, some Democrats are saying, you know, Mike Pompeo shouldn't be doing this. He's the CIA director, he's not the secretary of state. He shouldn't be at the table with Kim Jong-un. While the President can send anyone he wants into a meeting, number one. So that's Democratic objections. Sorry, it's not about titles.

But listen to Kellyanne Conway who said essentially confirmation or not Mike Pompeo at the moment essentially is the secretary of state.

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KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The trust that President Trump has in Director Pompeo, including having him represent the President and this country in those initial talks in North Korea, that tells you how the President is already viewing Director Pompeo as the nation's chief diplomat, in what we expect will be his next role -- what we're confident will be his next role, as secretary of state.

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KING: It is interesting, and I said yesterday, smart politics from the White House perspective to connect Pompeo to North Korea, to say, why would you vote no now? This is such an important summit, why would you vote no now?

KNOX: And who's consumed more intelligence about North Korea in the last 14 months, Mike Pompeo. Who has talked to the President more about the intelligence relation with Korea, more than Mike Pompeo?

[12:35:03] I don't think either (INAUDIBLE) or Jim Mattis as close as they are to this process have done it as much as Pompeo. Mike Pompeo clear has the President's ears. It kind of goes back to that and you mentioned earlier which is can people get around the idea. This President deserves his team, whether I disagree with him on fundamental policies or not, he deserves his team. I wouldn't be surprised if confirmation or not, he is in wherever they have these times.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS; WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And it also speaks to the degree to which this President and the people around him have sort of put the whole issue of this North Korea talks in the hands really of intelligence experts and spies more than diplomats. I mean, we know that the State Department is very much depleted of expertise on North Korea in particularly, in general across the board as well. But this is going to be divided and strategized by intelligence officials and spies and no diplomats in the way that you would have expected it to be in another administration.

BASH: We should take a quick step back and just look at the fact that this is extraordinary. The fact that we're having this conversation, the fact that anybody from any administration, Democrat or Republican has gone, and talked to Kim Jong-un to set the scene for a potential presidential summit. And this is an area where people are giving him credit of all stripes of all parties for at least opening the dialogue. And, you know, he gets a lot of guff from people in both parties, and this is an area where he's getting support.

KAPUR: The North Korea issues I think aim that those red state Democrats. So that at home this vote is going to be seen as a proxy of whether they're cooperating and working with Donald Trump or they're part of the resistance in kind, you know, blocking him from --

KING: And this criticism including from me in this chair at the White House not having a strategic communications plans and this want to be on smart. But they're going to have it. They're linking something together. We'll see if it works.

Coming up next, Republicans lost the Senate seat in Alabama. Remember, now they're worried about a seat in Mississippi. The establishment going after a Tea Party candidate. We'll show that you in just a minute.

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[12:41:17] KING: Topping our political radar today, an INSIDE POLITICS exclusive sneak peek at a new attack out at Mississippi. There's an establishment Republican candidate for the Senate race and there's Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel. He doesn't like Mitch McConnell. He does not like Republican establishment positions. Here's the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a brand new ad that hits airwaves of Mississippi tomorrow saying, don't vote for McDaniel.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good paying job for the push out of Mississippi but slick trial lawyers like McDaniel cashed in with multimillion- dollar rewards. Politician, trial lawyer. Think you know Chris McDaniel? Think again.

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KING: Another big story. What do you say about a man who talks trash about your wife and suggests your dad helped kill JFK? Apparently appraising to being one of the world's most influential people. Senator Ted Cruz calling President Trump that in the pages of Time Magazine. As we forget, if you forget these two men, not very chummy back on the 2016 campaign trail.

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SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: He sends tweets attacking my wife, attacking Heidi. It is inappropriate, it is wrong, it is frankly disgusting.

TRUMP: They played a clip of Ted's father and then I just asked about stories that were appearing all over the place, not just in the National Enquirer, about the fact that a picture was taken of him and Lee Harvey Oswald. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Don't forget. And the list is long and growing. Conservatives on Capitol Hill not yet ready to get behind President Trump as he gears up for a second term in 2020. Most of them say, hold on, let's get through the midterms first.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea of what it says upon reelection nor what the field will be on the Republican side, so I think it's way too early to weigh in on who won my support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could be a completely different world by 2020.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Are you prepared at this point to endorse the President for reelection in 2020?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't even thought about that election. I'm worried about the midterm election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is far too early to make a judgment of that type.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's a long ways off. I want to get through 2018 first.

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KING: Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju reign up a lot of these feet-feet walking around to get all those Republicans. He's here with us. Manu, why won't they just say, he is the Republican President; of course.

RAJU: Well, it really affect the tenuous relationship that still exist between Republicans on Capitol Hill and this President. They are not quite sure what all these legal problems will mount to, the investigations are happening, whether the President will be in a strong political position come 2020. But at the same time, they don't want to completely abandon him given how popular he remains with their base even is he's historically unpopular among the broader electric.

So you're seeing a lot of Republicans saying they simply just don't know whether the President is going to run again, and they think that, you know, even if the President has hired the campaign managers, holding campaign rallies and raising cash, that may not mean that he's going to run for reelection. And also, John, there may be a primary challenge that could emerge. Even though Republicans don't necessarily think that's a good idea, there could be some Republicans endorsing those libels particularly if they in a bloodbath come November and they lose the House or maybe even the Senate, perhaps the Republicans looking for someone else to be at the top of the ticket come 2020, John.

KING: Keep your list, check is first, check it three times, check it after the midterms. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, I appreciate. When we come back, the President said his tough new trade policies already bringing billions into the treasury, creating new jobs all across America. Do those claims pass the fact check? That's next.

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[12:48:53] KING: President Trump is planning some big wins on trade, standing alongside the Japanese Prime Minister yesterday. President Trump claimed his controversial aluminum and steel tariffs are already paying dividends to the tune of billions of dollars.

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TRUMP: It's gotten us to the bargaining table with many nations and in other cases they're paying. And it's billions of dollars coming into the coffers of the United States. The workers of our country know what's happening. We have companies moving up from Mexico, automobile companies, and they're building new plants in Michigan, and Ohio, and Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and expanding their plants. A lot of things are happening.

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KING: So we asked CNN Money's Christine Romans to look into that claim. Here's she explains.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, first, the President says billions of dollars are flowing into U.S. coffers. Steel and aluminum tariffs have only been in place since March 23rd. So there's no way to know for sure if it hit billions yet. Could it get to billions? Maybe.

Total steel and iron imports last year with $19.5 billion. 25 percent tariffs on that come to about $4 billion.

[12:50:02] But remember, some countries like Canada and Mexico they are exempt and imports of steel are likely to decline because of the tariffs, so it's going to be less than 4 billion. How much less? We just don't know yet.

What about the President's claim that auto companies are moving up from Mexico. Let's call that an exaggeration. Yes, some production has been shifted from Mexico to the U.S. I can give you some examples, Toyota and Mazda are building a new plant in Alabama for Corrollas. But there's still plenty of investment going into Mexico.

Toyota is also building a plant outside the border for Tacomas. Like so many things the President takes credit for, John, it's only part of the story wrapped up in a little bit of hyperbole and sometimes a lot of exaggeration. John?

KING: Part of the story wrapped up in a little of hyperbole or sometimes exaggeration. Got it, Christine. Thank you very much.

And it is, look, the President trusts his instincts here. He thinks it's one of the reasons he got elected, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan on trade pact. But he's way out ahead of his skis in terms of the numbers already, as Christine lays out, this is not true.

KNOX: Tariffs aren't in place yet. We're in the middle of the review period. They may going to place. He's not wrong that some countries are coming to the negotiating table asking for exemptions, notably the Japanese leader with who just here asked for an exemption for Japan. But as far as I know, and I may have missed the bus on this one, those tariffs actually aren't in place yet. We're in the middle of a review period after which they may or may not decide to go ahead with that.

DAVIS: Well, I mean, I like so many other things in the NAFTA talks for one but also these threats of big tariffs on Chinese goods, the President makes the case and his advisers will make the case that just the threat of doing them is going to yield dividends in terms of trade concessions from allies that might down the road yield billions of dollars for the United States. But we have no data to back that up yet.

You know, there are, as Olivier pointed out, some talks under way. But there's no guarantee that it would work that way. And in fact, it could very much work the other way.

KING: And this is one of those issues --

DAVIS: And then it costs the American.

KING: And cost America. And this is one of those issues where when you ask, you know, why are Republicans nervous about Trump, Republicans of course up for 2020, this is one of the issues that has them nervous. Your colleague Jonathan Martin if we can guess he's out on the road, he's in North Dakota, looking at the Senate race to talking at farmers. "If he doesn't understand what he's doing to the nation by doing what he's doing, he is going to be a one-term President, plain and simple, said Mr. Ranka (ph), fourth generation farmer who voted for Mr. Trump.

For the United States soybean grower, China is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Mr. Henry said. He suggested that Beijing is exacting political payback against the Republican heartland. China knows who got Trump elected."

BASH: Exactly. So it's the people who did vote for Trump, who are worried that there's going to be a backlash, and there already is a backlash against people like soybean farmers and so forth. But it's the people who are maybe going to try to make aluminum who aren't seeing jobs, and hearing the President saying that thing, what about me? That's the political danger.

KING: All right. We'll continue on this issue in just a second. Japan's Prime Minister has followed the Trump playbook to a T. But is it working?

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TRUMP: The media has not covered the TPP correctly. I don't want to go back into TPP, but if they offered us a deal --

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[12:57:16] KING: Now personal diplomacy. It matters to President Trump. And his guest this week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has followed the Trump playbook to a T. He came first during the transition to Trump Tower. He comes frequently, and he was just here again.

You see them on the golf course there. But are we seeing right before our very eyes that golf diplomacy may have its limits?

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TRUMP: The United States has a massive trade deficit with Japan. It's anywhere from $69 billion to $100 billion a year. That's massive by any standpoint. And I would look forward to being able to, at some point in the future, take them off.

But right now we have a deficit that's a minimum of 69. Japan sends us millions and millions of cars and we tax them virtually none at all, and we don't send them so much product.

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BASH: I wish we could see how much water Prime Minister Abe was drinking and how he looking at his toes during that.

KAPUR: What is he getting out of this? I mean, he's going to face -- he's facing problems back at home. He's going to be greeted to protests and calls to resign because of the actions of some of the associates. He doesn't get the exemptions on steel and aluminum tariffs, he doesn't get the revival of TPP which, by the way, withdrawing Japan, helps China. He doesn't get commitments on North Korea.

What does he go home and say he got other than cheeseburgers and a round of golf?

KNOX: A reminder commitment on North Korea, right. He revived the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. But one of the biggest concerns I didn't hear from the President, but one of the biggest concerns they had was that the U.S. would accept something short of, you know, -- that the U.S. would focus on long-range threats, the threats to the United States, and sort of play down or forget the regional problem.

KING: Right.

KNOX: So, for example, you know, we wants Trump to focus on short and medium-range missiles, not just in ICBMs. He didn't get -- I didn't hear get that either. And you're right, his home situation is terrible.

KING: And he's played -- again, he has played it so well. He knows the President likes to be complementing, he knows the President like hands on. He went to Trump Tower.

Here to your point, here are the headlines going to greet Prime Minister Abe when he gets back home. Abe, Trump agree on new trade talks, still part on TPP, steel tariffs. Trump and Abe agree to intensify trade talks but show little progress on metals tariff exemption. Trump tweets dislike for TPP trade pact. So it's not working.

DAVIS: It doesn't really yielding money dividends for Abe now and -- I mean, it's not clear that it's really yielding money dividends for Trump except and so far as that Abe keeps coming and keep sort of cultivating him. He needs to have him on his side if he's going to engage in these trade talks, if he's going to engage in these talks with North Korea. But I think Abe comes a way.

And he said Trump, when he went to Japan last fall, said the thing about, you know, Japanese at the T. So he's been focusing on that for a while. There was nothing additional that Abe got out of him.

KING: Up next on your test Tuesday, the French President Macro, see the worse for him. Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right now.